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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)


    (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: Call us now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. We’re here to help you get those projects done around your house. Call us now if you’d like to find out a way to reduce your heating costs this winter, because it’s about to get a lot colder for a lot of you. Home heating prices are expected to soar, so coming up this hour we’ve got three ways to help you save money and energy this winter.

    And if you’re snickering to yourself because you live in Florida or Hawaii, (Leslie chuckles) keep it to yourself because some of these ideas, Mr. Smarty Pants, will actually help cut cooling costs, too.

    LESLIE: That’s right. First up is a new way to power your home and it’s free; well, not right away. We’re going to tell you about a new generation of solar panels called solar shingles. They may cost a little more up front but they take advantage of all that natural and free electricity. So that’s coming up.

    TOM: Also ahead, you know the attic is a good place to start to make sure you have enough insulation in your home but it’s not the only place to insulate. We’re going to tell you about some of the other more common areas of heat loss and how you can seal those up, too.

    LESLIE: And if you are completely fed up with the high cost of home heating, you might want to consider wood heat. There are tons of options out there that can help you save money and are both earth and pocket friendly. Our friend, Kevin Ireton, from Fine Homebuilding magazine is going to stop by a little later to help us sort it all out.

    TOM: And even our prize this hour is going to help you save energy. It’s the kilowatt electricity meter, worth 30 bucks. This little gadget is going to help you figure out exactly which of your household appliances are eating the most electricity and what you can do about it. So pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller to the show this hour is going to win that meter from the folks at Cable Organizer.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Bob in Maryland, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    BOB: Well, I’m calling about painting my – having my house painted and …

    TOM: OK.

    BOB: … I have aluminum siding and I’ve been trying to get information on aluminum – or paint for aluminum siding or even someone to do the work. I can’t even find anybody that’s ever painted aluminum siding.

    TOM: Well, I’ve seen it painted many times; it comes up very, very nicely. A couple of key things: prep is really important here because generally the finish on the old siding is very, very soft and powdery and that needs to be …

    LESLIE: Kind of powdery, yeah.

    BOB: Exactly.

    TOM: That needs to be cleaned off; power-washed off. You’re going to see a lot of shiny aluminum when you get that done but after it’s dry, then the next step is to prime it. You’re going to use an oil-based primer and it’s best if the primer and the finish paint are applied by spray.

    LESLIE: Because it’s going to get in all those nooks and crannies.

    TOM: A lot of prep work involved here because you’ve got to cover everything that you don’t want the paint to get on but you spray the paint on; then, you spray the top coat over that. If you do it really well, you can get a paint job that can last you 10 to 15 years. It’ll last longer than it would on wood because the aluminum is not organic, so it doesn’t soak up water and expand and contract; it’s very dimensionally stable. Hence, the paint …

    BOB: Right, right.

    TOM: … lasts a lot longer.

    BOB: Yeah, but what’s the best way to try to find somebody to do it?

    TOM: Angie’s List. Go to AngiesList.com. It’s a service you subscribe to where over 600,000 members around the country actually will talk about their experiences with various contractors. And look up the painting contractors that are being recommended or talked about by folks in your area and I bet you’ll find a pro that can do this job.

    LESLIE: And you know, a good top-coat paint option is there’s a new product from Behr. It’s called the Premium Plus Ultra and that’s their exterior line of paint and it really seals well; it adheres together very nicely. It’s got this NANOGUARD technology. It’s mold-resistant. It’s a great product; I used it to paint a railing at my home and it worked very, very well.

    BOB: Fantastic. Hey, you’ve got a great show. Keep up the good work.

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

    LESLIE: Joan in California wants to talk bathroom flooring. How can we help?

    JOAN: Well, I want to put hardwood in my bathroom …

    TOM: Hmm.

    JOAN: … and when I mention that to people, they think I’m crazy. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Well, you might be, Joan, because if you use full-thickness hardwood in the bathroom and it gets wet, it’s going to warp and twist and you will not be able to repair it.

    LESLIE: Well, it doesn’t even have to get soaking wet; it could just be from moisture.

    TOM: Right. Exactly. So we’ll give you two ideas. The first one is a product called laminate floor. Now, laminate floor can look just like hardwood up to and including the graining in the wood. Now, laminate floor can be completely submerged and it won’t twist. If you are absolutely convinced that you do not want laminate – you want some real wood product – the only choice is engineered hardwood.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the reason why engineered will work in a high-moisture environment is it’s built in the same way that plywood is built, so it’s put together in layers of opposing grains which makes it structurally stable and then that topmost layer is the actual veneer of that hardwood that you want in the space.

    TOM: But whatever you do, Joan, don’t use solid hardwood in the bathroom because, believe me, one spill – one toilet that overflows – situation like that, you may not have planned it, it just happens …

    LESLIE: Poor ventilation.

    TOM: That’s right. It could really be a big mess.

    JOAN: Ah, OK. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement questions. Whatever you are working on, we can help you get the job done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, a new high-tech way to get electricity into your home: solar shingles. They’re a way to get solar energy without those bulky solar panels. We’ll tell you more about them, right after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Well, if this weekend you had a painting party and now have to change your dog’s name to Blue, (Leslie chuckles) you are in exactly the right place, because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. You’re not supposed to invite your dog to the painting party. (Tom laughs) Their tail does not act like a brush.

    TOM: You know, sometimes you head on over to the home center to stock up on supplies for your next big project, which could be painting or it could be building a deck or something like that but then, you have to figure out how you’re going to get all those 2x4s, plywood, drywall and whatever else into your compact car to drive it home. It’s always a creative challenge on how to do that but we’ve got a better solution. It’s called the Lifetime Fold-Up Utility Trailer from Lifetime Products.

    It’s a trailer that actually can hold over 1,000 pounds and it can be easily hooked up to your car to tote home your home improvement purchases and then, what I really like about it is it folds up to half its size. It ends up being about 30 inches wide, so you can kind of store it – like even if you have a single-car garage – kind of on the side of where you put your garage.

    And the best news – you could win it for free, because that’s what happens when you win something; you don’t have to pay for it, at least not with our contest, (Leslie chuckles) the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Game and Sweepstakes going on right now at MoneyPit.com. And it’s sponsored by Rinnai.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’re celebrating our new book in a very big way. We’re giving away free stuff. We’ve got more than 200 prizes up for grabs, including 5,000 buckeroos cash. That’s right. We’ve got two Lifetime sheds, five EasyWater softening systems, wall-hanging hardware from Monkey Hook – like hundreds of them – and dozens of Money Pit t-shirts and tote bags. And all you have to do is play a game, answer a few simple true-or-false questions about home improvement. If you listen to the show, there should be no problem getting (Tom chuckles) those answers right.

    Then, you enter the sweepstakes and you know, you could walk away with $5,000 and get that home improvement project done for free, on us. All you have to do is visit MoneyPit.com now for all of those contest details.

    TOM: And if you win the five grand, a great investment might be some solar shingles for your house. You know, these are sort of the next step up from installing those large, bulky solar panels to your existing roof. Solar shingles contribute to both energy generation and energy savings for your home. Solar shingles can be integrated with your existing roofing or they can be used to cover an entire roof.

    LESLIE: Yeah, there’s only one negative and that’s that the current options – they’re a bit on the pricy side but consumer demand – you guys are asking for them, so it’s bringing down those prices. Plus, you’re going to be eligible for some tax breaks and you’re probably going to be able to sell back some power to your local electric company; so you might be paying nothing for the actual usage of that power.

    TOM: It all starts to add up to a really good home improvement project. 888-666-3974. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Dennis in Connecticut needs some help with windows. What can we do for you today?

    DENNIS: Hi. I’ve been looking at windows and there are several different kinds; many kinds. Some have welded sashes; some are not welded. Some have insulated sashes; some don’t. But most of them are low-e and argon gas or either krypton gas. Are the welded windows very important to have?

    TOM: You are going through a situation that many folks that are shopping for windows find themselves in, Dennis, and that is that you’re trying to compare apples to apples in a situation where it’s just impossible to do that. There are so many variables in window construction. What’s the right way to build one particular manufacturer’s window may not be the right way to build another manufacturer’s windows, based on a whole bunch of different factors.

    So how do you sort this out? Well, the first thing you want to do is make sure that whatever window you’re considering is Energy Star-rated …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … because this will enable you to at least have some bit of a benchmark to compare efficiencies.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Some sort of standard to follow by.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. The other thing to look at is the NFRC rating.

    LESLIE: And that’s the National Fenestration Rating Council.

    TOM: And it gives you several things to look at and compare, from window to window, to determine which window is the most efficient.


    TOM: So rather than try to decide whether a welded frame or a mechanically-attached frame is better, compare Energy Star ratings and compare the NFRC rating and then you’re going to come out ahead.

    DENNIS: OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Dennis. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    You know, you get stuck in analysis-paralysis when you’re shopping for windows and that’s why you really have to break it down and go for the names you know; go for Energy Star.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It really does make a difference and it really makes it easier to purchase the windows.

    Yolanda in Utah needs some help with a tiling project. What can we do for you?

    YOLANDA: [How do you do] (ph), Leslie and Tom? My husband and I enjoy The Money Pit but I have this problem. I’m trying to put some marafil (ph) tile on my old countertop and it has like an – it was built in 1979, so it has that old Formica that is just kind of glued on there.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: OK.

    YOLANDA: And I’m wondering what would be the best way to prepare that so that I can install the tile?

    TOM: I think you can probably go right on the Formica. Leslie, have you ever glued right to that with an adhesive?

    LESLIE: I actually have and then one key thing is that you really want to scuff up the Formica before you go ahead and put the tile mastic or the tile adhesive onto the Formica, because you need to sort of grit it up and scratch it up so that it has some area for the adhesive to really stick to it and grip into it rather than just sort of sitting on top where it could kind of crack away.

    TOM: That’s not that hard to do, Yolanda. You just get some 80-grit sandpaper and go at it when you’re ready to do the tile project; just rough it up and then you can put the adhesive right on that.

    YOLANDA: Well, that’s great. That sounds like an inexpensive solution for us.

    LESLIE: It truly is and once you’ve got your mastic set and the tiles are glued down properly, go ahead and grout your countertop and then make sure once that’s dry, you seal the grout so you don’t have to worry about cleaning it and mold and mildew and all that yuck.

    YOLANDA: Oh, that sounds great. Thank you very much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: She’s very excited about her project.

    TOM: Very excited. It’s a fun project.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Betty in Connecticut who needs some help with the exterior siding. What’s going on at your house?

    BETTY: Hi. Our house was built about 20 years ago and we have vertical siding on the outside. It’s a two-story ranch; it’s like an embankment ranch with two stories on the back.

    TOM: OK.

    BETTY: And the siding is pulling away – like the vertical siding, which used to overlap – we’re seeing the paper they put underneath the siding – you’re starting to see that paper on the spaces.

    TOM: So is the siding starting to sort of buckle and twist a bit?

    BETTY: Well, yeah; almost separate. Almost like maybe …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    BETTY: … they didn’t overlap it enough or …

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, what happens, as siding – you’re talking about some sort of a vertical siding board here?

    BETTY: Yes. Cedar.

    TOM: Cedar. Yeah, well, what happens with cedar is as it dries out, it curls and cracks and shrinks and it will start to – depending on which way the grain – which way the rings of the tree were, believe it or not, it’ll either cup up or cup down. And that’s not an uncommon situation and generally it’s nothing to worry about; although, if it gets pretty bad and you can see behind it, you may want to try to re-nail it and/or silicone caulk those seams as a maintenance point so that you don’t let a lot of water in behind it. But that’s actually not unusual for cedar as it wears.

    BETTY: What kind of silicone caulk would you use …

    TOM: Clear silicone.

    BETTY: … where it’s like a brown cedar?

    TOM: Well, you could use a – you could use a colored caulk. You could use a brown silicone but clear is fine because usually the color of the cedar comes right through it and you don’t see it when you’re done.

    BETTY: Oh. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.

    BETTY: You guys are terrific. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Bob in Alabama has a fridge that’s on the fritz. What’s going on?

    BOB: I’ve got a side-by-side refrigerator with an ice dispenser in the door and when I was taking it apart and doing some cleanup, I discovered there was a black slime that had grown around the mechanism and as the ice passes through that opening for the door, it makes contact with that and it’s rather disgusting and scary.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    BOB: Apparently, what I think is happening is my kids will fill their partially-filled glass that has Kool-Aid and drinks in it with ice and it splashes …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    BOB: … up in there and man, it makes that bacteria and slime grow. So, as a kind of a caution to the listeners, maybe they can take this in mind and be more thorough in their cleaning.

    TOM: That’s actually a pretty common condition and I think that – I’m glad you bring it up because a lot of folks don’t know that they have to clean that entire distribution channel from where the ice drops into the door, right through to where it comes out, because of this very reason; you do get food particles that will bounce up into there – you get liquids; you get sugar – and that’s going to be a source for all sorts of organic growth. So, in order to keep that clean and healthy, you’ve got to clean it on a regular basis and so, that’s a smart thing that you did and I bet you’ll be checking that twice from now on.

    BOB: Oh, absolutely. It will be one of my main points of cleaning.

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

    LESLIE: Martha in Michigan, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    MARTHA: I am calling because we moved into the house my dad built and we have no furnace. We have two fireplaces …

    TOM: Martha, were you very cold growing up?

    MARTHA: (chuckling) Yes. (Tom laughs) Yes, I used to scrape the ice off the bathroom window every morning. So, yes, it was very nice. But we currently heat with wood stoves …

    TOM: OK.

    MARTHA: … and I’m a little too old to chop wood anymore and I’m thinking about adding some sort of heating. But my question is, you know, is forced air – we have just a small basement. We have – some of the house is on crawlspace; some of it’s on cement slab.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    MARTHA: We have the perfect Heinz 57 house and wondering how to heat it efficiently. You know, is electricity better because we could do solar panels or wind turbines in the future or …

    TOM: What fuel choices do you have? Is it possible to get natural gas to the house?

    MARTHA: No, I haven’t looked into that. That’s …

    TOM: OK.

    MARTHA: … another thing I’ve just been hearing about.

    LESLIE: You know, Martha, you should find out – I know you mentioned solar and you mentioned wind turbines. You should find out who the local heating and cooling provider is for your community where you live and see if they do offer solar or wind power and find out if you added your own solar panels, could you potentially operate off the grid, which would mean you would generate enough solar power that it sort of feeds back to the main system.

    Because some of the service providers, you know, they offer wind or solar power but in a very limited scale because the demand is sort of just growing now and they’re not at a point where they can meet it yet. So it might be something that you want to ask them to find out what the potential is for your neck of the woods but it might not be something that’s viable right now.

    TOM: And regardless of how you actually get that energy, you still have to answer the core question which is what kind of heating system do I want to put in? So your first choice would be natural gas; perhaps propane or oil would be the second and third choices. If none of those are available then I would think about putting in a heat pump system but I would put in a ground source heat pump, which is going to be the least expensive for you to operate.

    LESLIE: We’ve got more great, home improvement advice coming up, including wood heat and if it’s a good option for you. We’re going to tell you how to heat your home properly with a wood stove or fireplace, so stick around.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. Discover western red cedar’s unique beauty, performance and environmental benefits at RealCedar.org.

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. Welcome back to this hour of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And these days, everybody is certainly thinking about money and energy and saving your energy dollars, as a matter of fact. And it’s kind of reminiscent of the ’70s, when we had the oil crisis. You know, many homeowners looked to wood heat as a way of saving money and, unfortunately, the wood burners of that time weren’t very efficient or even environmentally friendly.

    TOM: Well, today, homeowners that want to save money by turning to wood heat have some better options than they’ve had in the past. Here to tell us about that is the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, Kevin Ireton.

    Hi, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Hey.

    TOM: So, you know, I think people operate on the misbelief that fireplaces are energy-efficient ways to heat your house. And of course, we know that they’re a big hole that sucks not only the exhaust from the fireplace itself but a lot of the more expensive …

    LESLIE: The warm air from the heat.

    TOM: … warm air that you paid to heat with your gas or oil furnace, right up with it.

    KEVIN: Exactly. If you’re going to heat with wood, a traditional, open fireplace is charming but it’s not the most efficient way to do it. As you point out, most of the heat is just going to go right up the chimney.

    TOM: So what are some of the new options that we have today? Of course, zero-clearance fireplaces have been around for a long time and for those that are unfamiliar with that term, it essentially means that you can have a fireplace – typically a metal fireplace – that is installed against a combustible surface, such as a wall stud, with no inches of space …

    LESLIE: Hmm.

    TOM: … in between the fireplace and the stud itself. Now, have those fireplaces become more efficient? Because they used to not put out very much heat.

    KEVIN: There are a lot of zero-clearance fireplaces that are not much more efficient than a traditional, open, masonry fireplace. However, there are a few companies that are putting out highly-efficient zero-clearance fireplaces that will rival the efficiency of a modern wood stove or fireplace insert.

    TOM: Is the key that the fireplace has to have a source of makeup air so it doesn’t rob heated air from the house?

    LESLIE: From the house.

    KEVIN: That’s one of the keys but it’s also in the design of the firebox and the goal is much hotter combustion. A traditional fireplace, you know, doesn’t burn that hot – doesn’t burn the wood that hot and so that’s when you get a lot of smoke created. But at higher combustion temperatures, the smoke actually burns. So, more of the heat stays in the house and then less pollution goes up the chimney.

    LESLIE: So, is there something to that in more of an enclosed environment; say like a wood stove rather than an open fireplace?

    KEVIN: Exactly. It has to do with the design of the burning chamber – how the air is fed to it that they can create these higher temperatures. So, you know, you typically don’t get that same look of an open fire, although a lot of the efficient wood stoves and inserts do have glass doors so you can still enjoy watching the flames.

    TOM: We’re talking to Kevin Ireton – he’s the editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine – about wood heat; how to get a great and energy-efficient wood burn, so to speak, that can help heat your house and keep it comfortable at the same time.

    Kevin, in the home I grew up in, we had a potbelly stove – very traditional potbelly stove – with a metal stovepipe that went out the back, was all of about 12 inches from the wall; turned through the wall, went into an unlined brick chimney that was built over a staircase supported by a couple of 2x12s. (Leslie chuckles) No kidding. (chuckles) That’s exactly the way the chimney looked. When you went down the staircase of the basement stairs, you had to look up; you’d see the chimney was supported on two 2x12s going across the well and the stove pipe went right into it.

    I hope that wood-burning stoves have gotten a little bit safer since then. (Leslie chuckles)

    KEVIN: They have and one of the ways that you can be sure you’re getting a decent stove is to make sure that whatever stove you buy is EPA-certified.

    TOM: OK.

    KEVIN: That’s going to mean that the amount of pollution coming out the stove is going to be pretty minimal. But a couple of other things to keep in mind is that no matter what kind of wood-burning appliance you have, burning the right wood is absolutely a key to getting the most efficiency out of it.

    TOM: And that would be hardwood I presume and not softwood.

    KEVIN: Hardwood and not softwood and it has to be dried properly. If the wood is wet, then the – a lot of the energy is going to go to boiling off the water …

    LESLIE: The moisture.

    KEVIN: … that’s in the wood.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    KEVIN: Exactly. So the drier the better. You know, you can’t leave your firewood outside uncovered; it’s just going to soak up water.

    TOM: Speaking of boiling water, let’s talk about another type of appliance that’s designed to do just that: wood-fired furnaces and boilers. It seems that there’s a new interest in that particular appliance. What’s your opinion of those?

    KEVIN: I think, you know, it probably depends a little bit on where you live. I mean, a lot of these wood-fire boilers are exterior units that will sit outside the house in their own little out-building and they will be heating up a pot of water that’s been piped into your house. The efficiency seems – you know, an appliance like that is not going to be as efficient. I mean, efficiencies on those things range from 28 percent to 65 percent versus some of the better wood stoves, which are up to 80 percent efficient.

    LESLIE: Now, can I ask a question about these exterior wood furnaces and boilers? Essentially, you have to feed them the fuel, which is the wood, at however much of a rate as it burns it, is that correct? So you’re then involved in this whole heating process, right?

    TOM: And besides that, don’t you have to count into this the cost of acquiring that wood; whether you’re buying it already chopped down and split or you’re doing it yourself? There’s a lot of expense and a lot of labor and a lot of calories expended trying to get that wood in the shape that you need it, to feed the – to feed the boiler or furnace.

    KEVIN: You’re exactly right and that’s part of the trade-off you get for the lower cost. I mean, you’re going to have to be more involved and even the cost itself depends a lot upon where you live. I mean, some people actually, you know, live in rural areas where access to inexpensive or in some cases, free firewood. Other places – that would have to be trucked a long way and when that happens, the cost goes up.

    TOM: So, we can all agree then having a wood-fired boiler, furnace, fireplace or a wood stove is a great option but you really need to look at everything that’s involved to make a decision that’s right for you.

    KEVIN: Absolutely.

    TOM: Kevin Ireton, Editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you’d like more information on purchasing a wood-burning appliance for your house, you can go to the Fine Homebuilding website at FineHomebuilding.com.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Kevin. Always good to chat with you.

    Up next, you know, the attic is the first place to check to make sure that you’ve got enough insulation in your home but it’s not the only place. We’re going to tell you where else you should be looking, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer and add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information, visit ThermaTru.com.

    TOM: If you’re wondering if collecting power tools is a legitimate hobby, you are tuned to the right show. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We may add to your home improvement tool collection with this hour’s giveaway: the kilowatt electricity meter. This tool will help you assess the efficiency of your appliances. You can even calculate the cost of the appliance by day, by week, by month or by year. You could probably use it to tell your teenager how much leaving the lights on in the room (Leslie chuckles) is actually costing you. This tool is worth …

    LESLIE: Costing you, not your kids.

    TOM: That’s right. This tool is worth 30 bucks and you can find it online at CableOrganizer.com but to win it today, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I’ve got a feeling that lucky winner is going to be very startled by the fact that they are wasting a lot of money on a daily basis and if you’re frightened by that, we’ve got another startling fact for you. Nearly 80 million homes are estimated to be under-insulated and that’s according to the Department of Energy – their standards.

    Could your house be one of them? Well, it could be. You need to check your attic. The experts at Owens Corning – they say that you need about 19 inches of fiberglass batt insulation or 22 inches of blown insulation up in your attic. But what are the other places in your house that you should be checking out?

    One area that sometimes – well, a lot of times that’s overlooked – is your garage. You know, newer homes often have a bonus space directly over your garage and that could be the coldest room in your house. An easy way to warm it up is to add insulation to the ceiling in your garage. If you’ve got an unfinished basement, make sure you add insulation to the ceiling there before you finish it off.

    Lots of great ideas; we’ve got more of them. All you need to do is visit a great website; it’s InsulateAndSave.com.

    TOM: InsulateAndSave.com. 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Heading over to Rhode Island to chat with Jeff about flooring. What can we do for you today?

    JEFF: I’ve been replacing carpet upstairs in my bedroom and living room and underneath, there is this old flooring. I want to put in hardwood floors. I’m looking for the most cost-effective and best option. We’re not going to live there forever but we also have animals and pets to think about.

    TOM: Jeff, what kind of flooring is under the carpet right now? Is it plywood?

    JEFF: Yeah. Just old plywood. It’s actually like 1×4-inch boards.

    TOM: Oh, it’s 1×4. OK. Alright, so it’s fairly old floor sheathing.

    JEFF: It’s a hundred-year-old house.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Ah, it’s a hundred-year-old house. OK. Well, if you want to put in a hardwood floor, I think probably – and you would definitely want it to be wood – probably the most cost-effective option is to put in what’s called engineered hardwood.

    Engineered hardwood is dimensionally stable because it’s made up of different layers of hardwood. It’s less expensive than solid hardwood and it can be absolutely just as durable and ,in fact, it can look just like regular hardwood when it’s done.

    Now, the thing is, in an old house you’re going to have to assess those floors and make sure that when you get that carpet up, that you take the time to secure each and every one of those old floorboards because you know when you’re going to find your first squeak – when you drive in the last nail.

    LESLIE: As soon as everything is done.

    TOM: Exactly. So make sure you take the time to secure any of those loose boards. I would do it with screws – not nails – but I would definitely look at engineered hardwood as the most cost-effective way to deliver a beautiful, hardwood floor to that house.

    JEFF: Is that the same thing as laminate or is that something totally different?

    LESLIE: No. Laminate is a manufactured floor that’s sort of made – it’s almost a composite; it’s made from a type of plastic and it’s made to look like a series of any kind of flooring. It can look like wood, it can look like tile, it can look like stone. And then engineered hardwood is like plywood; it’s different layers of wood at opposing grains, then with a veneer of the actual hardwood on top.

    And a laminate’s great for basements, bathrooms – you know, high-moisture situations – and so is an engineered hardwood because of the way it’s manufactured. A laminate, though, is not the real thing.

    TOM: And laminate is going to be less expensive than an engineered hardwood but I think in a bedroom situation, you would probably want to use real hardwood.

    JEFF: OK. And is it a do-it-yourself project or do I sell to somebody else …

    TOM: Well, actually, it is, Jeff …

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: … because the hardwood – the engineered hardwoods have become – gotten a lot easier to install and many of them today are locked together so they sort of snap together; you don’t even have to nail them in place anymore.

    JEFF: Oh, wonderful.

    LESLIE: And you mentioned you had pets; a lot of the newer products in engineered hardwood have a very, very durable top coat so you don’t have to worry about pets’ nails.

    JEFF: That’s one of my concerns.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, exactly.

    JEFF: (overlapping voices) Thank you so much.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, is hard water creating a hard cleaning problem for you in your home? Find out how easily and quickly you can solve this problem, once and for all, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional-feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi Power Tools. Pro features. Affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. 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: And if you’d love to call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT but you’re driving right now, don’t. (Leslie chuckles) Wait until you get home; go online to MoneyPit.com. Click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got one here from Iris in – sorry; Parsippany, New Jersey – sorry about that, Iris, totally butchered that and you, Tom, for the State of New Jersey.

    Iris writes: ‘We have very hard water and would like info on water softeners. Do they really add salt to your water? We just redid a bathroom with oil-rubbed fixtures and they are turning white from our hard water. Please help.’

    TOM: Hmm. Well, there are two ways to soften your water. With salt-based conditioners, they do soften the water. However, some people complain about two things: first of all, they don’t like the additional salt basically in their diet and secondly, sometimes that sodium in the water can make it feel slippery or slimy.

    Now, there are those folks out there that consider that very silky and smooth and they like it but just as many don’t like it. So salt-based conditioners will do that. The hard water of course and the deposits on your plumbing fixtures are mineral salt deposits or minerals that are drying out and leaving that crust behind.

    Another option is a product called EasyWater, which basically uses electronic frequencies to sort of de-magnetize the particles – those minerals in the water – and allow them to …

    LESLIE: Yeah, it forces everything away from one another.

    TOM: It allow them to flow freely right out of the water and that’s a less-expensive option and it actually requires less plumbing too, because the EasyWater unit simply mounts on the wall and plugs into a 120-volt outlet right near your main water line. You wrap a coil around that and it does its job for you.

    I actually installed one in our summer house and it worked just fine; so you can check that out at EasyWater.com. And by the way, we’re giving five of those units away in the My Home, My Money Pit Adventure Game and Sweepstakes going on right now at MoneyPit.com; so maybe you could win one, too.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Rather than going out and buying one. Alright, next one here is from John in Apple Valley, Minnesota, who has a three-season room and the inside is covered all in wood. ‘What is the best way to protect the wood from aging? The three-season room is also surrounded by windows.’

    TOM: You know, with that room surrounded by all that glass and with all that wood, you might want to think about using an exterior paint on …

    LESLIE: Yeah, something with UV protection.

    TOM: Right. Exactly. Because with all of that glass and all that – ultraviolet rays getting into that space, you may find that the paint wears out fairly quickly so this would be a good opportunity for you to use an exterior paint. Also, a good trick of the trade, by the way, if you ever have a tough painting project – like I’ve had wood that had bad stains on it – I’ll use an exterior paint on the inside of my house and it covers perfectly in one coat.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That really covers well.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where we’re frequently helping folks out of sticky situations. But there is one time when you really do want a sticky situation and Leslie is going to tell us what that is in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah. That’s right, Tom. What this sticky situation we’re talking about is wallpaper and in fact, the stickier the better when you are hanging it. You know, your bathtub – it is a great place when you are tackling a wallpaper project – and I’m not talking about you relaxing in it when the project is done. I’m talking about wetting pre-pasted wallpaper in your bath in some warm water – is really going to help soften up that glue.

    Another trick is to double the paper over itself; it’s called bookmarking. You sort of fold it in half and then in half so they meet in the middle so it’s not, you know, overlapping on the paper side. And that’s going to help those adhesive sides stick together before you hang it, to maximize the glue’s stickiness or its effectiveness, because this is really the one situation when you’re doing a home improvement project that you do want to find yourself in a sticky situation.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Coming up next week on the program, we’re going to talk about yard work. Why are we doing that in the winter? Well, because your fall yard work should continue through the early winter months and if you do, it’s going to make the spring yard that much more beautiful.

    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.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2008 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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