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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call. It’s a great hour, it’s a great idea, it’s a great opportunity to get some projects done around your house. Maybe you’re a do-it-yourselfer. We can help. Maybe you’re a direct-it-yourselfer; need some advice on how to hire somebody to get the job done. We can help you with that. What we want to make sure that you don’t become is a do-it-to-yourselfer. (Leslie chuckles) That’s the worst class, you see, right there because then it’s just – oh, it’s a big mess.

    Anyway, the holidays are here. They’re upon us. We know that you’re probably entertaining lots of family, lots of friends right now. Maybe there’s a painting project on your to-do list; an organizational job to get done. Whatever is going on, pick up the phone and let us help, please. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. The call is free and the advice is worth more than what you pay for it.

    Hey, are you the kind of homeowner who perhaps hopes for an outdoor holiday display that is so huge it can be, say, maybe seen from space? (Leslie chuckles) Well, if you are – or even if you’re not – there are energy-efficient holiday lights available and that’s a good thing for the planet and it still allows you to celebrate the spirit of the season. We’re going to tell you about energy-efficient holiday lighting; how to choose the lights that will do the job around your house without costing you an arm and a leg, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Now, if you’re that homeowner who really wants all of those holiday lights but say there’s a power outage, well, you’re probably already thinking, “Hmm, how can I keep my lights on when everybody else has their lights off?” Well, a backup generator is going to do that trick and we’re going to tell you more about which type is right for you, a little later.

    TOM: Plus, we’ve got some ways that you can go green with your water use. We’re going to have info on how to choose WaterSense-certified plumbing fixtures. This is a new program that is run by the EPA. It can actually help cut your water usage by 30 percent. That’s a lot.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and we’ve got a great prize this hour. We’re giving away a super organization system from Gladiator GarageWorks. We’ve got the GearTrack Pack. It’s worth 55 bucks. So now you’re going to have a place to put all of those new holiday presents.

    TOM: So pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win. 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Theresa in Vermont has a question about her basement walls. What can we do for you today?

    THERESA: We had a very wet summer and we have something growing on the walls of the basement. They’re not – the walls aren’t wet but there’s something growing; it looks like frost.

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s like a – sort of like a white haze, if you will?

    TOM: Like crusty stuff?

    THERESA: Yes.

    TOM: Yep.

    THERESA: It’s not hard.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. No.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well …

    THERESA: But it’s just white.

    LESLIE: Theresa, I mean you said it yourself; you had a very wet summer. So, obviously, the ground had been saturated quite a bit and even if your basement is dry, those concrete walls tend to suck in a lot of moisture from the earth; so now, what you’re seeing is when the moisture gets into the concrete and then evaporates out, it leaves behind sort of a mineral deposit and that’s that whitest haze that you’re seeing on there. It’s easily fixable. All you need to do is clean it with white vinegar and water and then make sure you rinse it kind of well with water on top of it and then, you know, dry out your basement with a dehumidifier and that white haze will go away.

    THERESA: OK. Alright. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jim in North Dakota has a flooring issue. Tell us about the problem.

    JIM: Well, we’ve got a pretty old house built in 1902 and it’s got hardwood maple floors in it. And about a year ago, in my living room and just about in the center of the living room, the floor started to buckle; you know, two of the boards kind of came up.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.

    JIM: And I’m trying to see if there’s a solution easier or better than – obviously, I really don’t want to have to lift all these boards and try to relay them. And I’m not really thinking what I want to do is take a circular saw down the middle of it and saw it and try to get it to seal back down. But – so that’s what I’m calling about.

    TOM: OK. Any chance on you getting these two boards out so that you could work on them?

    JIM: Maybe.

    TOM: Yep.

    JIM: You know, they’re in the very center of the room; so taking them out, there’s a good chance I’m going to do some damage to some more boards along the way. But it’s possible.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Right, well – right. What I would probably do, in this case, is I would probably saw down the ridge between the two, where they’re popped up, so that we eliminate that tongue and groove.

    JIM: (overlapping voices) Yeah?

    TOM: And that would probably allow them to be disassembled and pulled out. And then I would clean out underneath, try to figure out why it’s popping up; maybe see if there’s any debris in there or there’s something pressure, something shifting; and then I would try to lay them back down. It might mean that you have to actually trim then because they’re too wide now or undercut them so that you sort of take the underside edge off so that you can get them back down. And then I would reattach them and I would reattach them with screws and I would put wood plugs in to hold them in place. And that will never come up …

    LESLIE: And cover your screws.

    TOM: Yeah, cover up your screw heads. It’ll never come up again. Flush plugs. You know, you’ll have to do a little bit of refinishing and the color of the plugs won’t exactly match but, over time, as it gets exposed to sunlight and UV, it’ll fade very nicely.

    You know, I have an 1886 house. We’ve had to do a lot of floor surgery in this house and occasionally have had to just replace …

    LESLIE: And your floor looks great.

    TOM: Yeah. Occasionally I’ve had to replace some boards and, you know, I’ve put down – and I have Douglas fir. I put down some new Doug fir boards and they look like pink or like cherry-like against sort of the amber color of the rest of the floor. But you know, inside of a year it all fades out and matches and now you can’t even tell.

    JIM: OK.

    TOM: And when you have an old house, that’s the kind of thing you have to do. You’ve got to be a little creative. OK, Jim?

    JIM: Yep, sounds good.

    TOM: Alright, good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, is your holiday light display so huge that it can be seen from the space shuttle? (Leslie chuckles) Well, we’re going to help you cut back on that energy bill with some tips on energy-efficient holiday lighting, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac automatic standby generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the garage organization system from Gladiator GarageWorks. The GearTrack Pack is worth 55 bucks and includes two four-foot sections of GearTrack channels with all the hooks you need to organize and protect hard-to-store items like rakes, shovels and tools. Learn more at GladiatorGW.com or call us right now for your chance to win. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Yeah, pick up the phone and give us a call; especially if this weekend is the weekend for you to set up your ginormous holiday display and you’re thinking, “Hmm, how can I go all out and make the brightest, craziest holiday display without those huge electric bills that, no doubt, will go along with it?” So, if you want to do that, let me tell you how you can save some money by still having a beautiful holiday display. Just pick up the LED holiday lights.

    Now, LED stands for light-emitting diode and each bulb with this technology uses less than half a watt of electricity, which makes it about 90 percent more efficient than those traditional incandescent bulbs. Now, they’re widely available – you can pick them up anywhere – but they do tend to cost a little bit more; but the bonus is they’re going to last up to 20 years. And they’re also safer because they barely warm up; so you don’t even have to worry about those fire concerns.

    TOM: Well, if you need more tips on how to have an energy-efficient holiday lighting season, we’ve got an article on MoneyPit.com that can do just that. Simply search “energy-efficient holiday lights” at MoneyPit.com.

    888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Let’s get back to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Alright, Mary in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you with your painting project?

    MARY: Well, I just have a question about marine paints.


    MARY: Someone told us that that was a really good choice for painting like a porch or a concrete floor, like in a basement, or any wood floor that you wanted a lot of durability.

    TOM: Well, that’s a good point because the latex paints are great for convenience of use but they’re lousy for abrasion resistance. And a marine paint, which is solvent-based, is a lot tougher for a surface like that. So I would agree with that assessment.

    MARY: Alright. Now, would that be – would there be any benefit to marine paint over any other solvent-based paint that I could just pick up at Lowe’s or The Home Depot or something?

    TOM: Perhaps; might be a little bit more durable.

    LESLIE: I mean especially if you’re thinking about doing, you know a wood porch that gets a lot of exposure to the elements, I would go with marine paint.

    TOM: Right.

    MARY: Really? So have either of you ever used it before? I’m just – I’ve never – you know, we just heard an idea from one person but I cannot find anyone who’s ever actually used it.

    TOM: Have used it on some woodwork on a home that was actually on a lagoon, for that very purpose. And we used it on like a tackle …

    LESLIE: But it is more expensive.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s more expensive. Actually, we used it because we had extra paint. (Tom and Mary chuckle) But it worked really well because we had a door – we had a lagoon box; like a wood sort of, you know, box where you put your lifejackets and stuff.

    MARY: Sure.

    TOM: And it really stood up very well.

    MARY: OK. Well, perfect. That was my question then. Great.

    TOM: Alright, well, there you go.

    MARY: Thank you.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Glen in South Carolina has a question about insulation. What can we do for you today?

    GLEN: Hi, thanks for taking my call.

    I was wondering – I have the fiberglass blown insulation in my attic and I’m thinking about adding some more and I was thinking about adding cellulose-type insulation on top of that. Will that cause a problem with the r value or anything like that?

    TOM: Well, you can add different types of insulation on top of each other but, frankly, I would recommend against it. If you have fiberglass insulation now I would add more fiberglass insulation on top of it and I would use unfaced fiberglass insulation and I would install it perpendicular to the existing insulation. That will give you good coverage and you’re going to be looking for about 19 inches of batt insulation totally, on average, to give you good insulating value.

    GLEN: OK. Well, I do appreciate your help.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Glen. You know, there’s a good homeowner’s guide to insulating online at a website called InsulateandSave.com. It’s put together by the experts at Owens Corning. You might want to take a look at that and it’ll walk you through some of those steps.

    GLEN: OK, I’ll look at in a little while.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, now we’re going to chat with Andrew from Austin, Texas who’s got a story about his bathroom.

    ANDREW: Hi.

    TOM: Hey, Andrew. Welcome to the program. So what’s going on with your bathroom?

    ANDREW: Well, we – our old house, we had a remodeling project where we wanted to put some wainscoting up around the outside.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.

    ANDREW: We found a do-it-yourself kit. But unfortunately, they didn’t tell you any method for applying it to your wall. (Leslie chuckles) And I started off with an inexpensive adhesive that didn’t work very well and I wound up redoing some stuff.

    TOM: OK.

    ANDREW: And went back and used one of the Liquid Nails products with the low VOCs.

    TOM: Oh, were you one of our Liquid Nails storytellers?

    ANDREW: I was one of the storytellers.

    TOM: Well, alright. So it came out good then, huh?

    ANDREW: It was a great project. The low VOCs kept the smell down.

    TOM: OK.

    ANDREW: And we sold the house shortly after finishing that project.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Was it the project that broke the camel’s back; you were overdoing your home improvements, there?

    ANDREW: Well, no. It was one of those projects we needed to finish up before listing it.

    TOM: Right.

    ANDREW: And matter of fact, the bathroom turned out to be a huge success. It was the last room that everyone came through when they viewed the house.

    TOM: Right.

    ANDREW: And not only did we sell the house in less than 48 hours; we sold it for over asking.

    LESLIE: Wow. Wow.

    TOM: Wow. In this market? You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s fantastic.

    ANDREW: In this market. Yep.

    TOM: So you really did have a pretty good success story with use of that Liquid Nails product. And you know, the bathroom is always a good project to do because it has such a great return on investment and, man, you proved that, didn’t you?

    ANDREW: Oh, yes. The new owners – when we went back to meet the new owners a little while ago, after I think they received one of our packages – they couldn’t stop commenting on how great the bathroom looked; the fact that you couldn’t tell that it was a new remodeling project – it didn’t smell like a new remodeling project.

    TOM: Well, maybe you’ve missed your calling; you should go into the home improvement business here, Andrew. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)

    ANDREW: No, no. I’m pretty much done. (all laugh)

    TOM: Alright, well thanks for filling us in on that. That’s fantastic. I’m glad it all worked out for you.

    ANDREW: Alright, thank you, guys.

    TOM: You’re very welcome, Andrew. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Nice to hear from a winner now and again.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and what a great project.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Loretta in Rhode Island needs some help fixing some drafty windows. Tell us about the problem.

    LORETTA: First of all, I want to say we love the show. My husband and I have been long-time listeners.

    It’s not drafty windows. We have cracks. I’ve heard other people call in the past. We’ve been in our house now 28 years and we have radiant heat in the ceiling.

    TOM: OK.

    LORETTA: So we’re wondering is there something – 28 years we keep patching and undoing. Every spring it looks like as if the patch got thicker. So he sands it down again, puts the paint and it looks good. As soon as we put the heat on we see these fine, little, hairline cracks.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, because everything is drying out.

    LORETTA: Yeah, so what do we do? I mean he was using spackle, so now he’s been using joint compound.

    TOM: If we tell you how to fix it, what is he going to do all spring?

    LORETTA: Oh, he’s got yard work to do, believe me. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)

    LESLIE: I’m sure Loretta can come up with a honey-do list for her man, no problem.

    TOM: If you’ve got cracks around the windows or doors …

    LORETTA: Yep.

    TOM: … it really doesn’t matter. That material is not actually going to repair the crack in the sense that it’s not sort of gluing the two parts of the wall back together.

    LESLIE: Just patching over.

    LORETTA: Right.

    TOM: It’s patching over and those areas are obviously the part of the wall where you have the most movement. Very, very common to have cracks around windows and doors because it’s sort of the weaker part of the wall. If the wall is going to shift and move and expand and contract, it’s going to show up around a window and door before it’ll show up across the solid wall surface.

    Now, the only thing that you can do to try to minimize this is to use a drywall tape over that crack and the type of drywall tape …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, you’re skipping a step and a material, Loretta.

    TOM: Yes, and the type of drywall tape we would recommend would be a fiberglass tape.

    LORETTA: Fiberglass.

    TOM: It’s perforated. It’s …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, it looks like mesh, Loretta.


    TOM: And it’s very easy to install. And once you put this across the crack itself, then you can spackle over that and that has sort of an adhesive effect of covering over both sides of the crack and does a nice job of hiding it.

    LORETTA: OK. Hope that does it. Thanks a lot.

    LESLIE: It’ll do the trick.

    TOM: Alright, Loretta. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bill in Florida needs some help with a bathroom remodel. What can we do for you?

    BILL: What I’m trying to do is turn a bathroom into a guy bathroom.

    TOM: A man space, huh? OK.

    BILL: Sure. I have a gas pump in there and a parking meter. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: (chuckling) OK.

    BILL: Painting the walls flat gray.

    TOM: Alright. (Leslie chuckles)

    BILL: What I’d like to do is remove the two vanities and, on one side, put in a parts washer for my sink and then the other side use a rolling toolbox for the toiletries and face towels and shaving …

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. Well, that’s kind of a cool idea.

    LESLIE: Excellent.

    BILL: My question is how to safely remove the vanities and the marble backsplash that is attached to the drywall.

    TOM: Well, being that it’s a guy space, I’d say just go for it with a sledgehammer.

    LESLIE: Yeah. (Bill chuckles)

    TOM: First thing, turn the water off. You basically have to disassemble this the same way that it was assembled initially. And so that means turn the water off to the vanities, to the sinks. You probably can do this right in the cabinet and then just open the fixture up and make sure it is, in fact, off. Then you disassemble first the faucet, pull that out; then you disassemble the bowl, pull that out; then you disassemble the vanity and pull that out because that’s the way it went in. First the rough plumbing was in, then the vanity was put around it and so on.

    Now, sometimes, depending on how much of the plumbing was done after the vanity was installed, you may not be able to pull it apart. And if that’s the case, you may have to cut it apart, which you can easily do with a reciprocating saw.

    BILL: Right.

    TOM: But that would be the proper steps.

    BILL: How about removing the marble backsplash from the drywall?

    TOM: OK, that’s a little trickier because you’re going to end up peeling apart some of the drywall, especially if it’s glued on. You think it’s …?

    LESLIE: Can you use the piano string trick, like we do with mirror?

    TOM: Maybe. But you know, if it’s drywall, it’s so hard to save that paper. The piano string trick is to take some like piano wire and like wrap ends around sort of wooden blocks on both sides so you have something to grab onto and you work the wire behind the mirror – or, in this case, the backsplash – and then kind of saw through it and that separates the glue from the wall. But even if you do that, you tend to damage the drywall itself. If that’s the case, you may just need to cut out that drywall and patch in a new piece; which wouldn’t be that hard to do.

    BILL: OK. Alright. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project and send us some pictures when you’re done.

    BILL: Thank you. I’ll do it.

    TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next, huge demands on local power grids have been causing more blackouts than ever before. Has that happened to you? Well, we’re going to have some tips on one improvement that you can make to your home that will prevent you from ever having to worry about a blackout again, after this.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And if you’ve ever been the victim of a power outage, well, you’re in very good company (Leslie chuckles) because they are becoming more and more common in this country as the electrical infrastructure gets older and starts to fail. And you know that can be inconvenient and it can also be very unsafe.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And when a hurricane, a tornado or even just a bad thunderstorm comes through, it can knock out your power and essentially cripple you at your home. So you really should think about a backup plan and here to tell us about automatic standby generators is Clement Feng from Generac.


    CLEMENT: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie.

    TOM: Hey, Clement. So, an automatic standby generator; how is that different from the type of generator that we see contractors use?

    CLEMENT: Well, what contractors use is a portable generator and that’s what most people are familiar with. They have wheels. You put gasoline in them and then you basically take them wherever you need power. An automatic standby generator is one that a lot of homes and businesses are using more and more frequently and these are permanently attached to the building and they monitor the incoming utility power to the building and whenever the power outage occurs, the generator turns itself on and restores power to the home or the business within seconds.

    LESLIE: And how do you fuel them if you’re not using typical gasoline?

    CLEMENT: They’re connected to the building’s natural gas supply or perhaps propane gas, if it’s running on LP.

    TOM: Now that’s fantastic because without having to worry about always having a fresh supply of gas around – of course, a lot of people don’t realize that gas can go bad in 30 days.

    CLEMENT: That’s right. With natural gas or LP, you never have to worry about stale gas and you also don’t have to worry about refueling, typically. I mean propane does have to be refueled but the tanks are typically hundreds of gallons and will run the generator for days.

    TOM: And when your power goes out in your neighborhood, it also goes out at the gas station.

    LESLIE: True.

    TOM: And without electricity, you can’t pump gasoline; so it makes a lot of sense to have a built-in standby generator. Now, we have one here that, of course – as you mentioned, Clement – runs on natural gas. In fact, we have one of yours; we have a Generac.

    CLEMENT: Yeah, glad to hear that.

    TOM: And we’ve had only to use it probably half a dozen times but when we need it, man, do we really need it. In fact, we once got knocked off the air because of a power failure during the show and the Generac came on and, about 30 seconds, had us back online and on air. So it’s very convenient to have this.

    Can you talk a little bit about the technology that a generator uses to know when the power actually has gone out in the neighborhood and to bring back the power only for your house?

    CLEMENT: Well, the generator has a very sophisticated control on it; it’s usually connected to a transfer switch. And the electronics in either the generator or the transfer switch will detect when there’s a power outage and when that occurs, it kicks over the connections into the building’s main electrical distribution panel so that the panel is getting power from the generator rather than the utility company.

    TOM: So it kind of has [a little] (ph) traffic light that controls the flow of electricity.

    CLEMENT: Yep, that’s basically how it works.

    LESLIE: Now Clement, is there sort of a one-size-fits-all when it comes to the automatic standby generator or do you have to think about what you want to power, how much of the house needs to be turned back on before you consider what size?

    CLEMENT: Well, choosing a generator is a lot like choosing a major appliance. It’s really not very difficult but there are some basic things that you should answer for yourself; you know, concerning about your needs and your lifestyle and how much in the home you really want to back up when there is a power outage. Generac offers a full line of products that allow you to economize – you know, use a smaller generator and back up only selected circuits in the house – or use one of our load-shedding switches that allow you to back up the whole house but not everything at the same time. So the generator and its electronics help you choose what to power and what not to.

    And then, finally, we have larger generators that give you the capability to turn everything on in the house at the same time and have enough power to power all of it.

    TOM: So, whether you just want to make sure that your heating system and your refrigerator are functioning or if you feel the need, you’re going to be terribly inconvenienced and you want the hot tub and the air conditioner on (Leslie chuckles), no matter what happens, you can do it.

    CLEMENT: (overlapping voices) That’s right, you can do it.

    TOM: (chuckling) OK. Alright, well that’s great advice.

    What do these generators cost, Clement? You mentioned that they’re available in a wide variety of sizes. What’s sort of the entry level?

    CLEMENT: Well, generators are amazingly affordable and that’s one reason why they’re becoming so popular now. You can have a generator for less than $2,000 and that’s a whole-house, permanently-installed, automatic generator.

    TOM: Wow.

    CLEMENT: Now you do have to have professional installation, unless you’re very handy and comfortable messing around with your electrical system

    LESLIE: Which you should not be.

    TOM: (chuckling) No. Electricity is not something you want to “mess around with.” (chuckles)

    CLEMENT: That is true. We do always recommend using one of our Generac installers or a licensed electrician is usually comfortable installing a generator; but there are some very enterprising DIYers out there, just like the ones listening to our show here, that may be perfectly comfortable doing the installation themselves.

    TOM: Well, we’re going to have them – when those calls come in, we’re going to pass them on to you.

    CLEMENT: (chuckling) OK. (Tom chuckles)

    LESLIE: I was just going to ask, really quickly, where does the standby generator itself go on the exterior of your home? Does it have to be near where the main power line comes in? Can it be – you know, I guess it depends mostly on where you live and what code might be but is there a general rule where it should go?

    CLEMENT: Yeah, the best place to place it is where the main electrical distribution panel is in the house. So, if that’s on one side of the wall, the generator should be right on the other side on the outside of the house; you know, so they just don’t have to run long lines to get to it. One thing we do want people to be sure that they do is not to locate the generator directly underneath an open window and to maintain about 18 inches away from the exterior of the house.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Of course. Yeah, because it is a fuel-burning appliance and you don’t want to have those fumes in the house.

    CLEMENT: (overlapping voices) That’s right.

    TOM: Great advice from Clement Feng, the chief marketing officer for Generac. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Clement.

    CLEMENT: You bet. It’s always great to be here talking with you and Leslie.

    TOM: For more tips, you can go to Generac’s website at Generac.com – that’s

    G-e-n-e-r-a-c.com – or pick up the phone and call them at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, up next, you know, if you’ve got a water leak in your house, that’s a big one, it’s pretty obvious where it’s coming from. Well, what do you do if you’ve got a small leak that, over time, can add up to some serious damage but you have no idea where it’s coming from? When we come back, we’re going to share with you a trick of the trade to help you locate those sneaky leaks, so stick around.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Rheem heat pump water heater. It’s easy to install and more than twice as energy-efficient as any standard electric water heater. The new Rheem heat pump water heater qualifies for federal tax credits. For more information, visit www.RheemHPWH.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call because we’re going to help you out with your home improvement question but we are also going to give you a chance to win our weekly giveaway. Now, this week we’ve got Gladiator brand’s GearTrack Pack. It’s got everything you need to start organizing your garage, including two four-foot pieces of GearTrack channels and all of the hooks that you need to organize and protect all of your hard-to-store stuff. Now, the prize is worth 55 bucks but it can be yours for free and if you don’t win, it’s also available everywhere that Gladiator GarageWorks are sold, including Lowe’s and Sears. So give us a call right now for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Now, let’s talk a bit about identifying plumbing leaks. Leaky appliances, pipes or plumbing fixtures, they can all add up to thousands of gallons of wasted water and, perhaps, hundreds of dollars of added cost. So here are some tips to help you determine if you have a leak and this is courtesy of the experts at Moen; little trick of the trade here.

    First, turn off all of the water taps inside and outside your home and record the meter setting on your water meter. Then you want to return in two to three hours and check for any difference. So, basically you want to turn all the water off, record the meter setting, then leave for a couple of hours. Come back and look again. If you see any difference whatsoever in those meter settings, that means you’ve got a leak. Because sometimes you get really tiny leaks that don’t show up with a lot of leak damage but they can add up to a lot of wasted water. Like a leaky plumbing valve in the toilet, for example, a leaky fill valve; that can waste a lot of money. You could have a small leak with a small drip that’s happening and can actually build up some mold in a space like an attic or a basement.

    If you know you have these small leaks, you can go and look a little bit closer for them; but the way to find out is to do the water meter test by turning it off, going away for a couple of hours, then coming back and checking it again.

    LESLIE: Now, you know, when you go outside to look at your meter, you might notice that there’s a small red or sometimes even a small blue triangle that’s on the face of the meter. Now, that little triangle is designed to detect even the smallest of leaks. So, when you check your meter, if this triangle is moving at all when you’ve got all of that water off inside and outside of your home, you may have a leak somewhere.

    Now, fixing those leaks, you can see, that’s easy. These small leaks, like Tom mentioned, it could be a fixture; it could be something going on. So find out what’s going on here. You might want to replace your fixtures with WaterSense-rated ones. Moen makes several. Now these are great because they really will cut your water usage by 30 percent and they look fantastic. If you want to check them out, visit Moen.com and you’ll find out all the information about those fixtures there.

    TOM: Yeah, and the EPA’s got some – a lot of great information on their WaterSense.gov website as well because that’s a new program that’s very similar to the Energy Star program, except that it certifies plumbing fixtures, like those from Moen, that achieve a 30-percent water savings; so a really, really good program. Always look now for WaterSense-certified fixtures. They make a lot of sense.

    As does picking up the phone and calling us with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Pat in Illinois has a question about insulation. What can we do for you today?

    PAT: Well, I have a house with a double brick wall with about an inch-and-a-half cavity between the two walls.

    TOM: Right.

    PAT: I was wondering if it was practical to insulate between them, what type of insulation would be used and if it was worth the effort.

    TOM: Probably not. The bricks themselves are so dense that they’re going to absorb the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter and there is air in between the bricks because there are a lot of air pockets; so, generally, you don’t insulate a wall like that. And if you try to insulate it now – you know, I’m wondering that there could be, perhaps, some sort of a blown-in insulation that might be put in there but the bricks are so damp that I’m afraid it wouldn’t actually do you much good because the insulation would end up getting damp anyway. So that’s an area I wouldn’t concentrate on insulating.

    What I would make sure is that we have really good attic insulation and that you can also do a good job of draft-proofing everything around the windows and doors. That would be where I would concentrate sort of my energy-saving efforts – the attic insulation first and the draft-proofing second – but I probably would not insulate the exterior walls.

    PAT: Alright, well thank you for your time and effort. I appreciate it very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Pat. Glad to help you out with that question. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Well, you guys speak and we listen; so we know that painting is a super-popular project because it’s easy to get done, especially when you’re in the holiday crunch. Now, if you’ve got a painting project – I don’t know how many times we’ve got to stress this – the first step: prep, prep, prep. Hmm, what exactly do I need to do for the prep? Well, we’re going to tell you how, when we get back.

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    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: You know, freezing pipes are both annoying and can be dangerous. If winter means below freezing temperatures where you live, exists for most of the season, you want to visit MoneyPit.com right now because we’ve got some tips there on how to thaw and prevent frozen pipes. Just search “thawing frozen pipes” at MoneyPit.com and we will keep those pipes running through the coldest weather that Mother Nature can throw out at your house.

    LESLIE: And while you’re online, you can e-mail us your question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and I’ve got one here from Michael in St. Louis who writes: “I have a finished bathroom that I have had to do some drywall repair work on.” I understand that it’s best to prime the drywall and joint compound before painting. Should I prime the entire room before I paint or just the new drywall and joint compound?”

    TOM: Ah, good question. Well, you absolutely do need to prime the repaired area but, since it’s a bathroom, I would recommend that you prime the entire space. You know, even if it wasn’t a bathroom, if you tend to prime or spot-prime just one area and then you put a topcoat of paint on it, you tend to get a slightly different sheen which doesn’t really lend itself to a good finished product. You’ll notice that one area of the paint looks a little bit different and the reason for that is because the area that’s primed is not going to absorb the paint as much as the area that’s not primed; if you can follow me on that. So what happens is you get this very uneven painting surface. So, you’re never going to go wrong by priming the entire room and then painting again on top of that.

    LESLIE: Alright, now I’ve got one here from James in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania who writes: “I’m finishing our basement. I have framed the walls and I’m wondering about insulation and vapor barrier. I have a question about installing fiberglass batts. If I do put up batting, where do I put the vapor barrier?” Would you want to use fiberglass in a basement?

    TOM: You can, sure.

    LESLIE: Yeah?

    TOM: You can use fiberglass in the basement. First of all, make sure that framed wall is a good six inches away from the concrete block or concrete wall, whatever you have in the basement; so you get a little air gap.

    LESLIE: And then the batting would be in between those there.

    TOM: Right. The batting is in between the studs. The vapor barrier then goes over that and then the drywall; except, in this case, we would not recommend drywall because it’s paper-faced and it can grow mold. You want to use a product that’s fiberglass-faced, made by Georgia-Pacific, that’s called Dens Armor. That’s a type of drywall that doesn’t grow mold because there’s basically no paper in the formula.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? The Dens Armor finishes just like traditional drywall, so you’ll love working with it. It’s a really fantastic product and it doesn’t cost that much more.

    TOM: Well, it’s certainly been getting cold enough for relaxing with the family by a roaring fire. But before you do that, you want to make sure that you do a little fireplace maintenance to make sure it’s safe for the season. Leslie’s got tips on how to do just that in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. You know, it’s crucial to inspect the flue, the damper and the firebox of your chimney because a buildup of creosote can lead to a very dangerous fire. Now, there’s one other thing you need to think about. If you don’t already have them, get chimney caps because, let me tell you, they will save you when all of a sudden you hear – now this happened to us one time. I was in my living room and I hear this little tap-tap-tapping coming from the fireplace and the flue was closed. And as I sort of leaned in a little more, I realized that something was dancing around on top of my flue. So we had to get people in, get the wildlife out. It turned out to be a squirrel, which was very adorable and very soot-covered. But if we’d had a chimney cap at the time, it would have saved us a lot of money and one petrified squirrel. So get those (chuckles) …

    TOM: And good thing that that squirrel did not get loose in your house because …

    LESLIE: I know. That’s all I was thinking about.

    TOM: They eat furniture and a lot of other things.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and think of all the little, sooty footprints. (both laugh) So, if you’re ready to get your chimney inspected, here’s a tip. Go to the website for the certified chimney sweeps. It’s CSIA – ChimneySafetyInstituteofAmerica.org. They will help you find somebody who will not take advantage of you; we promise. And get this job done.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program: is dry winter air driving you a bit nuts? Well, we’re going to teach you what you need to know about humidifying your home the right way, on the next edition of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.

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    (Copyright 2009 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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