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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

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    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.)

    BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:

    (promo/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: Making good homes better. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. What are you working on? Does your house have orange shag carpet and yellow walls? Mine did.

    LESLIE: Hey, it’s hip somewhere.

    TOM: Mine did. I had to get rid of that. (laughter) What are you working on? Call us right now. 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You thinking about starting a project; you don’t know what tools to buy? Make OSHA happy. Call us first at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Because we have a very good show in store for you today.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Coming up, hardwood floors. They’re a natural, long lasting, cost effective choice for your home or wherever you want to put them; whether your style is classic or contemporary. But how do you choose from the hundreds of beautiful options in wood species that are available to you?

    TOM: (overlapping voices) There are a ton of options out there today.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I mean and if you don’t know what you’re getting into, it’s very, very overwhelming. Well, we’re going to have some tips to help you narrow it down without feeling all bogged down with that decision.

    TOM: And speaking of floors, you know accidents in the home send tens of thousands of you to the emergency room every year. In fact, according to the AARP, half of all falls happen at home. But there are some very simple things you can do right now to prevent the most common accidents.

    LESLIE: And October is indoor air quality month. Why?

    TOM: (overlapping voices) You going to send me a card?

    LESLIE: Well, yes. I actually I had made up.

    TOM: You had one picked out? (chuckling)

    LESLIE: It’s like, ‘Keep that window open and bring fresh air in once in a while.’

    Well, every region in the United States of America, we’re sealing up our homes because winter is right around the corner and it’s either to help us keep cold air out or keep that cold air in, if you live in a warmer part of the country. And doing so can trap that bad air inside with you.

    Well, we’re going to give away a tool to help keep your air clean in your home all winter long. First you’ve got to visit MoneyPit.com and register for the Clear the Air sweepstakes and you could win an Aprilaire Model 5000 electronic air cleaner with the installation. This is a full service prize folks.

    TOM: Leslie will come to your house and install the air cleaner for you.

    LESLIE: Oh, you don’t want me to do it. (laughter) I’m not an HVAC person. (chuckling)

    TOM: No, you won’t. But we will send somebody there to do it.

    And if you don’t win that, this hour you could win this because we’re going to give one caller to this hour’s program a set of – ready? – three Ryobi One+ products: a radio, a fan and an inflator. They all charge off the same base; it’s the same 18-volt battery.

    LESLIE: It’s quite the prize day.

    TOM: So not one; not two; but three tools we’re giving away from Ryobi this hour.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: WYLL is where Rich listens in Illinois in Chicago. What can we do for you today?

    RICH: I own an old – an older rehabbed house in Chicago. And through the common areas in the hallway and when you – and when you go into the bedrooms and the bathrooms and stuff in the common areas, the floor squeaks. And I have no way of getting to the bottom subfloor from my basement because the ceiling is drywalled.

    TOM: What kind of flooring material do you have, Rich?

    RICH: Wood.

    TOM: Hardwood or plywood?

    RICH: Hardwood floor. Original.

    TOM: Alright. We can fix this.

    What you’re going to do is get yourself a stud finder because you’re going to have to identify where the floor joists are under the hardwood floor and a stud finder is the best way to do that. It does it by – it can actually see through the wall – through the floor or through the walls and identify the position of the joist.

    The next thing you’re going to do is get yourself some, probably 10-penny or 12-penny finish nails.

    LESLIE: Yeah, Tom’s got a good trick for this.

    TOM: Yeah. The finish nail – you’re going to take one of them and cut the head off it and use it as a drill bit. Because I like to use the finish nails as drill bits when I’m working on hardwood floors because they actually spin and part the wood fibers and allow the nail to pass through into the floor joist below. And you’re going to have to hit this two or three times in the area where it’s squeakiest because what you’re doing is you’re securing those floorboards down to the floor joists. And what that will do is eliminate the movement and if you don’t have the movement you won’t have the squeak.

    Now, it’s not – it’s not as good as being able to work on this from below or work on this – say if you had a floor you didn’t care about, I would tell you to shoot some drywall screws down there. But this will work and it works effectively. And then, what you do is sink the finish nail below the surface of the floor and then fill it with a colored filler and you’ll be good to go.

    RICH: OK. Have you heard anybody pour – like I’ve read on the internet – like maybe baby powder or graphite on where the floor …

    TOM: Yeah, you know, that’s an old wives tale. And I don’t think it’s going to work. It’s a simple matter of securing loose floorboards.

    RICH: Sounds good.

    TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: I guess they think because you use baby powder as a cure for, you know, chafing …

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: … and essentially that’s what’s going on with your floor. (chuckling)

    TOM: Yeah. Your floor is chafing. I think it works if you use medicated powder. (laughing) Athlete’s foot and hardwood floor squeaks.

    LESLIE: It’s very refreshing.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: Your floors will thank you.

    TOM: It smells nice, too. Like a locker room.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) They’re thanking you in silence. (laughing)

    TOM: OK, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Curtis in Texas is looking into some alternative heating methods. What can we do for you?

    CURTIS: Hi. I was wondering y’all’s opinion on – we’re building a house up here at Georgetown. I’ve been looking into a geothermal system.

    TOM: OK.

    CURTIS: And I was wondering what your opinion would be on a geothermal system for this part of Texas and what type of sizing. Would it be the same as a regular AC unit as far as tonnage? Or would it require more or less?

    TOM: Well, a ton of air conditioning is the same ton of air conditioning regardless of whether it’s created using a geothermal heat pump or a standard air conditioning compressor. So a ton is a ton; it’s 12,000 BTUs of cooling capacity. So the size is going to be dictated by the cooling needs of your particular structure.

    Now, whether you go with geothermal for your heat is really the question. Is gas available in this particular area?

    CURTIS: No, it’d be propane.

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what. If I had to decide between propane and geothermal, I probably would go geothermal. But if it was between geothermal and natural gas, I’d stick with natural gas.

    CURTIS: Is that for cooling as well?

    TOM: Well, yeah. Once you install it, it’s going to be – basically, what you’re going to have here is a geothermal heat pump for heating and for cooling. But most of them have an electric resistance backup system so that if the heat pump, for any reason, can’t keep up – if you get a real cold spell – the electric resistance heat comes on and kicks in. But mind you, when that happens, it costs two to three times more than when – to heat than when the geothermal is running by itself.

    One of the things that you’re going to want to make sure that you get, Curtis, is a clock setback thermostat that is specifically designed for a heat pump. Because it inches – very, very slowly – the heat up and down. A regular thermostat will move it up and down just in an instant; it can drop 10 degrees or go up 10 degrees in an instant. And if you do that with a geothermal what’s going to happen is the electric heat backup will come on and work very hard to bring the heat up very quickly, but that’s expensive. With a clock setback thermostat that’s designed for a heat pump, it does it very slowly so as to not trigger the electric resistance unless you really need it.

    CURTIS: Very good. OK, you think that, though, that the geothermal system – that the cooling side of it would work fine with the temperature gradients that we have around here.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    CURTIS: OK. Well, very good.

    TOM: Because it’s in the soil – it’s in the soil so the temperature is stable.

    CURTIS: Right.

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

    LESLIE: And Texas is really the most common area that you’re seeing these geothermal heating units.

    TOM: Yeah, they’re getting very, very – very, very popular. But again, if you have a good, reliable supply of natural gas, I wouldn’t recommend geothermal because I just don’t think you need to do that. But if, in your case or Curtis’s case, he’s talking about that or propane, which is actually more cyclical, then I think it’s a good idea to do it.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to go to Washington, D.C. where Yasmine’s got a question about her heating system. She wants to make some updates and some changes but doesn’t know where to begin.

    Yasmine, what can we do for you?

    YASMINE: Let me ask you guys a question. With my eight track, I’ve been looking a little bit at – actually, I’ve got six estimates so far.

    TOM: Six estimates for a new heating system?

    YASMINE: Yes, for a – for a new heating and air conditioning unit. And one of the ones that, right now, that I’m looking at, he has given me an estimate that is significantly below the others. It’s about $1,200 below what I’ve gotten so far.

    TOM: OK.

    YASMINE: And so my question to you guys is I’m planning on checking his references as well as his license and insurance.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, very smart.

    YASMINE: And also checking with the Better Business Bureau. But in addition to that, is there something else I should be aware of when I’m selecting this particular independent contractor?

    TOM: Well, is everyone bidding on the same equipment or is he suggesting something significantly different?

    YASMINE: It is the same equipment.

    TOM: Well, if it’s the same equipment and his references check out, I don’t see any reason not to use him.

    YASMINE: OK.

    LESLIE: And some of the questions to ask the folks when you call up for the references – ask, ‘Did he come in on time’; ‘Did he come in on budget?’; ‘Did he finish in the timeline that was promised?’ Make sure that he’s delivering in a promised timeline; otherwise, you’re giving him free reign to just come and go and just never finish.

    TOM: And you might want to also ask him about a warranty on the equipment as well so that you have that altogether.

    LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. You all out there can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s right, folks, someone is always there to take your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: That’s 888-666-3974.

    Well you know, hardwood floors are a natural, long lasting and cost effective choice for your home. It doesn’t matter whether your style is classic or contemporary. But the problem is choosing the right one because there are, literally, hundreds of options and wood species.

    Well up next, we’re going to have some tips from the experts at Armstrong Floors on how to choose the right hardwood floor for your house.

    (promo/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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Got a question about your home improvement project? Consider us home improvement 911. In fact, we will give you the answer so that you don’t have to eventually call 911 if you get yourself (chuckling) in trouble. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Well, of all the topics we are asked about, floors rank as the number one question. We get more questions about floors than anything else. And there are, literally, dozens of different types of hardwood species to think about using if you are going to install a hardwood floor. You know, it’s not just oak anymore.

    The species impacts the look of your floor and it especially impacts its durability. For example, let’s talk about oak. Oak has been around for many, many years and they have pronounced variations in grain and in shade. But maple’s wood grain is a very clean look and it’s also more understated so it’s going to have a different look in your house. And also, not all species of hardwood are equally hard. For example, Brazilian cherry, hickory and pecan are some of the very hardest species.

    LESLIE: I was waiting to hear how you were going to say it.

    TOM: Pe-cawn.

    LESLIE: Pe-cawn, pe-can. You know.

    TOM: You say pe-cawn. I say pe-can. (chuckling) Listen, I don’t care if you have pe-cawn …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) All are good choices for a floor.

    TOM: Doesn’t matter if you have a pe-cawn or a pe-can floor, it’s a really good looking floor. But oak, beech, birch and ash are also in the middle; while teak, cherry and pine are the softest. So – did you know that teak is a very soft wood?

    LESLIE: No, because they use it such extreme conditions like on boats, for example; where you would think it would need to stand up very, very well. So, if it’s soft, does that mean it’s good for like a moist condition or does it also mean that it’s bad to put on the floor because you’ll leave heel marks in it?

    TOM: It’s just a different – it’s a different look. But we all know that teak is a great material for outside because it has other qualities.

    But the point is that there are advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses; and you need to understand the species before you choose your hardwood floor.

    LESLIE: And also, the floor’s finish affects its durability as well. Today’s prefinished hardwood floors have it all over site finish. Why? Because prefinished floors, they use the stains and the high-performance aluminum oxide urethane coatings are all applied and dried in a controlled factory environment using specialized equipment which you can’t bring into your house for onsite refinishing or finishing in general. And the result …

    TOM: It’s good stuff.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and the result gives you a much more durable finish; a uniform stain application and a cleaner environment. If you want more information on hardwood floors – if all of this just seems too overwhelming or you want to see what it is we’re talking about – you can really get a good idea on what flooring choices are available for you. If you log onto Armstrong.com and click on the complete guide to flooring – and that’s at Armstrong.com; it’s a great site and you’ll see a lot of options.

    TOM: And that’s a very, very comprehensive guide and thanks to the folks from Armstrong for filling us in on that information.

    Call us now if you have a home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Leslie, it’s time to give away more stuff because …

    LESLIE: I love giving stuff away.

    TOM: … if the seasons around your area of the country are changing, you are heading back indoors for the next several months.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and we’ve made our homes more and more energy efficient, making homes harder to breathe.

    TOM: That’s right. So while it’s harder to breathe, let’s think about what you are breathing: dust mites …

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: … viruses, bacteria …

    LESLIE: Gross.

    TOM: … pollen, pet dander, mold. Yuck.

    LESLIE: All bad.

    TOM: You know, according to the EPA, the inside of your house can be 25 times more polluted than the outside. But if you’ve got a forced air heating system, we can help because October is indoor air quality month. Everybody send Leslie and I cards (chuckling), ‘Congratulations on indoor air quality month.’

    But we’re going to give away – we’re celebrating it because we’re giving away an Aprilaire Model 5000 electronic air cleaner. This is the best air cleaner in the country folks; ranked number one by Consumer Reports for the last three years. It’s worth 1,000 bucks installed. We’re going to give it away to one lucky winner of the Money Pit Clear the Air sweepstakes.

    LESLIE: Yeah and we’re …

    TOM: You need to log on and register at MoneyPit.com. Go there right now; check out our new website – MoneyPit.com – and sign up …

    LESLIE: That looks great, you guys.

    TOM: Sign up for the new Clear the Air sweepstakes.

    LESLIE: And remember, there’s no purchase necessary to enter and your deadline to enter is October 31st. And if you want to read the complete contest rules, it’s on the entry page at MoneyPit.com. Good luck.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, let’s get back to the phones. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Shirley in Michigan’s got a lot of basement questions. What can we sort out for you?

    SHIRLEY: Yes, I have a farmhouse that was built in the 1800s.

    TOM: OK.

    SHIRLEY: And it’s called a Michigan basement; a half dirt and half cement floor.

    LESLIE: Oh well, here we call them Yankee basements.

    TOM: Yeah. (chuckling)

    SHIRLEY: Oh, OK. And we have these huge stones for the foundation; you know, the side walls of the basement.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Mm-hmm.

    SHIRLEY: And the windows are shut, you know, just all year round. And we have no water problem because we have gravel soil. But the basement is so damp and I think the more – you know, we’ve been here more than 50 years and it just seems like it’s getting more damp. And I was wondering about the radon.

    TOM: Well certainly radon gas is something that you should test for. It’s very inexpensive. It’s caused by the decay of uranium in the soil.

    LESLIE: But does dampness have an effect on the occurrence of radon?

    TOM: No, it’s totally disconnected. They’re really two issues.

    SHIRLEY: Oh, I see.

    TOM: So let’s just address the radon first. It has nothing to do with the humidity. It’s the decay of uranium in the soil. And so you need to test for that. You can order online a charcoal absorption canister, which looks like about the size of a can of tuna fish. And you simply open it up and you leave it in your basement usually from two or three to seven days and you seal it back up and you send it to the lab. And you record the start time and date, stop time and date. You send it to a lab and then they’ll actually read it and tell you what the level is. It’s going to come back in – with a measure of picocuries. That’s how radon gas is measured. And if it’s 4.0 picocuries or higher, then you would want to do some follow-up testing and perhaps install a mitigation system. If it’s below that, it’s considered to be safe. So that’s the first thing you should do is check that.

    In terms of the humidity – the moisture – lots of things could be causing that, Leslie. I’d start outside.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you want to look at a few things around your house. Definitely look at your gutter situation. Do you have gutters on the house?

    SHIRLEY: No.

    LESLIE: You don’t. (chuckling) Well that could be a huge part of this.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, big mistake.

    LESLIE: Because as the rain drips off your roof, it’s just going directly down to the side of your foundation. There’s nothing there to collect it and direct it away from the house. So that’s putting a lot of moisture into your basement. So get some good – a gutter system put onto your house and when they put the downspouts on, have them make those downspouts deposit the water as far away from the foundation as you can. If you’re going to put them above the ground – three feet, six feet, fine. If you can, bury them and direct them as far away from the house as you can. And that’s going to make a huge difference.

    And then, you also want to look at the grading around your house. You want to make sure that all of the dirt slopes away from the foundation. And we’re not talking drastically. We’re talking about four inches over six feet. So it’s a gradual decline away from the house. But that does enough to get that moisture away.

    And those two things should be really effective.

    SHIRLEY: Would it be a good idea to put cement in that path that’s dirt?

    TOM: No. No. You can control this by managing the water, Shirley, and keeping it away from the house. So the gutter system is going to make a huge difference. That by itself is going to dramatically change the amount of humidity you feel in that basement, guaranteed.

    SHIRLEY: OK, because this house has never had them.

    TOM: No, I know that. And you really do need to have them. Because the water is saturating the foundation perimeter and it’s weeping through those foundation walls and it’s evaporating into the air and that’s why you feel so clammy. So that’s why you need to get the gutters on.

    Shirley, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Betty in Virginia, you’re on the line. What can we do for you today?

    BETTY: The outdoor carpet on my concrete porch is worn at the end with – so it stands out like a sore thumb. And I know it’s very hard to get the old carpet up.

    LESLIE: So, just the edges are fraying or it’s …?

    BETTY: Yes, just the bottom edge; the end.

    LESLIE: Well, if it’s just the one small area, maybe there’s something that you could use as a border. I wouldn’t recommend using something metal because then you might get rust stains and, you know, drilling into and attaching into the concrete might be a little bit difficult, but not not-doable; you can actually do it. You could even build a frame with wood just to go around the entire outside to cover up that top edge and the flat edge where you’ve got the fraying of the carpet. Or you can cut out a section. But if you cut out that section – number one, you’re going to have a seam and as you try to pull that off the concrete, you’re going to get so much glue residue it’s really going to be a tough job to pull that up.

    BETTY: How do you get it off?

    TOM: You have to – if you have glue down, you’re going to have to use a glue solvent.

    LESLIE: But it does work; but it is very stinky, so make sure you wear proper respiratory gear.

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

    LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners. Well, the EPA studies prove it. Indoor air quality in some home is worse than it is outside. It’s a scary thought. Coming up, we’ve got some great options for keeping your family healthy and the air that you breathe clean.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    So, it’s getting cold in your part of the country. We know. But are you ready to seal the hatches yet? To close those windows? To close those doors? You probably listened to us and tightened up your weather stripping and put in some outlet gaskets and added some insulation. But while you’re sealing yourself up, are you exposing yourself to indoor air pollution?

    You know, most people don’t know this but the inside of your house can be 25 times more polluted than the outside of the house.

    LESLIE: And even, occasionally, close to 100 times more polluted; which is a scary, scary thought. So to keep your air in your home clean and safe, you really want to think about using a whole house air cleaner. And here to talk to us about that is Sean McCarthy from Aprilaire.

    Welcome, Sean.

    SEAN: Thanks. Good to be here.

    TOM: This is supposed to be a busy time of the year for you guys because I think it is the only time that we really think about the indoor air environment. And I think that there are some things that we can’t control or maybe it’s difficult to control; like the fumes that maybe come off furniture and carpets and things like that. But the fact of the matter is that we really do generate a lot of dirt and dust and bacteria and mold and pollen inside the house and that the filtering systems that most of us have on our HVAC systems just don’t do a very good job of keeping it clean.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Or don’t tackle everything.

    SEAN: Yeah, there’s no question that – people don’t think about their air inside being dirty but in fact, most times it really is. In a cubic foot of air, there could be as many as 30 million pollutants or contaminant particles …

    TOM: Well, that’s a pleasant thought, Sean.

    SEAN: Yeah, exactly. (chuckling) Just to cheer you up a little bit. Obviously, most of those are invisible and we can’t see them at all. And the filtration that most people have on their heating and cooling system simply isn’t designed to take that kind of pollutant out of the air. It’s designed really to just protect the blower inside the air handler.

    LESLIE: So it’s doing a better job of cleaning the machinery itself rather than you and your family.

    SEAN: Yeah, it really is just designed – if you’ve ever changed out that fiberglass filter there and the big dust bunnies that are on the front of it, it’s just trying to make sure that kind of dust doesn’t get on the blower. But yet, when we breathe air down into our lungs, we’re breathing in all – you know, everything that’s in the air. And that filter isn’t going to do anything to clean that size particle.

    TOM: What about the high efficiency passive filters; the ones that are – maybe they’re just a little bit pleated. Are they any better or are they just a little bit better but they don’t do the whole job?

    SEAN: They’re certainly better than the old fiberglass filters that we’ve had that have been around forever. And they do do a better job than that. But they don’t go near far enough to clean everything in the air and they can be expensive because you have to change them out monthly or at least every three months in order to keep them working properly.

    LESLIE: So, just changing that filter more frequently isn’t going to do the trick either.

    SEAN: No. Really, the solution is to put in a whole-house air cleaner; something that’s going to clean – truly clean the air throughout the entire home.

    TOM: We’re talking to Sean McCarthy. He’s an indoor air quality expert with Aprilaire.

    Sean, your company makes an electronic air cleaner that was ranked number one by Consumer Reports for the last three years. And it’s a little different than the passive filters. It’s actually electronic. And by way of full disclosure, I have one in my house right now and we definitely did see a difference after we had this installed. Because it just seemed to be so much more efficient at keeping the dust down and that’s what we can see. You know, I don’t know what we’re not seeing and, frankly, I don’t want to know. But from what I can see, it’s been incredibly effective. And I did notice, as I put it in – or actually I should say as my HVAC contractor put it in – the filter on this is really extraordinary because it has, I think, 70 plus square feet of filter surface all sort of folded into a pleated design. Is that part of what makes it so efficient?

    SEAN: Yeah. No question that there’s actually – you’re right – 72 square feet of media that are – that’s packed inside this air cleaner and – as opposed to a one-inch type of pleat that you might find at the hardware stores. These pleats are actually six inches deep and what – the technology that makes it really spectacular is that it works kind of like a magnet on iron. It charges the particles as they’re entering the air cleaner and then the media – the pleated part – actually has a negative charge. So the positive/negative attract and so what you find is the most efficient air cleaner on the market.

    LESLIE: But Sean, in a situation besides the obvious – this is clearly a whole-home air cleaner – how does it differ from those freestanding units that you plug in and stick in the corner of the room and you don’t really know if they’re doing anything?

    SEAN: Well, a number of ways. One of the biggest differences is because it’s in the return ductwork of your heating system, all the air throughout your house goes through there; as opposed to being in the corner of a room where you’re only going to be cleaning the air in the immediate area. The other thing is the – where the dust is actually collected on a portable unit is a much smaller area. Again, you’ve got almost 80 square feet of media inside this. It’s the equivalent of like 32 regular 20×20 panel filters that are inside your ductwork so that that extended surface area does a much better job in cleaning. And then the other real benefit is the media lasts an entire year; so you only have to maintain this air cleaner once every spring.

    TOM: Sean, what about duct cleaning? Is that something that folks also should be doing on a periodic basis? Perhaps before they put in an electronic air cleaner for the first time?

    SEAN: You know, the ductwork can get full of – you know, a lot of stuff can get inside the ductwork and, you know, especially in new construction, a lot of the builders will tend to use that ductwork as a dustpan, unfortunately.

    TOM: (chuckling) Yeah, that’s a good point.

    SEAN: And cleaning it is never a bad idea. The upside if you are going to have your ductwork cleaned, you absolutely must then put a whole-house air cleaner in that ductwork so you never have to do it again.

    LESLIE: That’s good to know. So it’s like a continual maintenance for your house. That’s fantastic.

    SEAN: Exactly. And then, once that ductwork’s cleaned, the air going through the Aprilaire cleaner, it will remove 98 percent of all particles in that air; those 30 million contaminants in a cubic foot of air. We’ll get 98 percent of them out first pass. So none of that’ll be in the ductwork after the heating and cooling system, so you don’t have to worry about that ever again.

    TOM: It’s a very impressive product. Again, I have one installed in my house and I’m very, very happy with it. So, great job on that. Congrats on the continuing approvement by Consumer Reports of this being ranked number one in the country.

    SEAN: Yeah, we’ve been very pleased and proud that it was recognized as the best air cleaner for the consumer.

    TOM: And you know what? We’ve got one of those from Aprilaire to give away this month to one Money Pit listener. So you can log onto MoneyPit.com right now and sign up for the Clear the Air sweepstakes sponsored by Aprilaire. So if you’d like to get one for your own house, you can log onto our website right now and sign up for the sweepstakes and who knows? Sean might show up at your house and install it for you.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) And the deadline’s October 31st; so you still have time.

    TOM: Sean McCarthy, an indoor air quality expert with Aprilaire, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit. For more information, you can log onto Sean’s company’s website at Aprilaire.com.

    LESLIE: Alright Tom, you know that there’s nothing cuter than kids in their costumes out trick-or-treating.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: And you know, it’s so funny because sometimes the parents get involved in it, too, and I love to see everybody all dressed up and …

    TOM: Do you like to dress up and go trick or treating?

    LESLIE: I’m – oh, well no, I don’t go trick or treating (chuckling), but I dress up for my trick-or-treaters.

    TOM: You know, my kids are at the age where they have it in shifts; like they do the afternoon shift, then the evening shift. So by the time the end of Halloween happens, we’ve got, you know, many, many pillowcases full of Halloween candy.

    LESLIE: Well, I’m coming to your house. Since we have no kids (chuckling), I never have Halloween candy. So I’m coming over to raid your house. I know whenever we would do episodes of While You Were Out right after Halloween, I’d always find myself dipping into the family candy bin.

    TOM: Because we all have extra candy.

    LESLIE: (INAUDIBLE), ‘No one’s going to notice.’ (chuckling)

    Alright. But not everything about Halloween is cute, you guys. In fact, some Halloween pranksters leave behind things that are not so cute; and you know what I’m talking about. Well coming up next, how to ward off those ghosts and goblins who are planning a trick that’s no treat.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/UniversalHome to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Before starting a project, call us. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Because we can help you. We’re like a pressure washer for your to-do list. (chuckling) So call us. We’ll give you the step by step and you’ll blast all those jobs away in one weekend.

    Well, we were talking about Halloween and specifically Mischief Night. You’ll want to know how to keep those kiddies at bay and all the mischief that they play tricks on you on Mischief Night. You’ll want to keep the floodlights and interior lights on all night long. Of course, you know that. But also think about motion lights that light up when people get near the house. This can alert you when the egg throwers come close.

    LESLIE: Yeah and the kids will think, ‘Oh no, they’re on to us,’ and run away real fast before they get your house. Or you can also cover your ground level front windows and your shutters with clear plastic sheeting. It’s not going to be the prettiest look on the block but it’s certainly going to prevent eggs from getting on your windows and the trim. Also, think about covering the door as well; if you can, if it’s accessible. Just peel down that plastic the day after and throw away that mess. You’ll be so thankful.

    TOM: And a special treat for those of you that didn’t follow our preparatory advice. Coming up in the next edition of The Money Pit e-newsletter, we’re going to give you all the recipes for cleaning up after all of the common mischief that is caused by the mischievous children around the country; you know, like getting the rotten egg off of the house (chuckling) and getting the pumpkin off of the sidewalk and removing the dreaded toilet paper from the tree. So …

    LESLIE: How do they throw it so well?

    TOM: I don’t know. But it does look good.

    LESLIE: Yeah, maybe you should just toilet paper your own house and be ahead of the game. (chuckling)

    TOM: That’s right because the kids will come by and go, ‘Oh, somebody got that house. Let’s go to a different one.’

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) ‘Aw, darn.’ (chuckling)

    TOM: Either that or they’ll say, ‘Well, it must be OK. Where’s some more?’ (laughing)

    We’re going to have all those recipes in the next edition of The Money Pit free e-newsletter so you can log onto our website at MoneyPit.com. Sign up for that. It’s free. Over 50,000 people every week get the Money Pit e-newsletter. We’d love for you to join that list of folks and learn these tips, these tricks of the trade that we put out every single week to make your home easier, more comfortable, more safe and especially, teach you how to clean up after mischief night.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you’ll be so thankful. It’s going to be a huge mess; especially if you live in a neighborhood like mine where there’s kids everywhere and they love to make a mess.

    Alright. Well, four million Americans own the One+ power tool system from Ryobi. It’s that popular 18-volt power tool platform that works with more than 20 different tools. It’s pretty amazing what it does. And Ryobi is introducing some new additions to that lineup this fall.

    TOM: And we’ve got some of them right here: the new One+ inflator, the One+ radio and the One+ personal fan. We’re going to give them away this hour on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show to one caller. So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s a prize package worth 100 bucks. You can win it right now by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you want more information, you can also log onto the Ryobi website at RyobiTools.com; that’s R-y-o-b-iTools.com. But call us right now if you want to win the One+ radio, the One+ personal fan and the One+ inflator.

    I’ve been using the One+ radio in my shop, Leslie. It’s been helping me through all of my weekend home improvement projects.

    LESLIE: You always seem to get things done if you’ve got the radio cranking. If you’re blasting tunes or if you’re listening to The Money Pit to get step-by-step advice; either way, it makes you feel good.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s right because you can’t do home improvement while watching a home improvement television show.

    LESLIE: Not if you want to keep your fingers.

    TOM: (chuckling) Call us right now. 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Thomas in New Mexico, what can we do for you?

    THOMAS: Hi. I’ve got a home here. It sits on a concrete slab or concrete pad. And took the living room carpet out, oh, about two, three weeks ago. And that covers about half of the width of the house. And I notice there’s a crack that goes from one wall, across the floor and it looks like it continues on, probably all the way to the other side of the house. And I’m wondering, I want to put tile in that room and I’m wondering if I need to grind that crack out and fill it and if so, what should I fill it with? Or should I not even worry about it?

    TOM: Not likely. It’s fairly common to have cracks in concrete slabs. And of course, they come to your attention when you, you know, remove the carpet and can see them.

    LESLIE: But most of the time, they’ve occurred in the first few years after the home was built – right? – and don’t generally change.

    TOM: Yeah, generally they’re not – I would bring it to the attention of the – are you going to put the tile in yourself?

    THOMAS: Yes, uh-huh.

    TOM: Well, what you might want to do is make sure you put a bit of a mud base under that. That will give you some ability for the floor and the tile to move independently of each other. There’s an underlayment that can go on top of the floor and under the tile that will create sort of like an expansion joint. So if the floor does move, it’s not going to pull the tile apart as well.

    THOMAS: OK. That’s different than the mortar or is that the same?

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, there’s actually a – it’s not rubber, but it looks like that. It’s like a …

    LESLIE: Is it that orange, woven mesh stuff?

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: It almost acts as a rigidity system to this mud flooring that you’re going to put on …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: … which allows you to put on far less than you would if you were pouring a straight mud floor to go on, with some tiling.

    TOM: And if that floor decides to expand and contract after it’s up, I’m concerned that it doesn’t pull your tile joint apart.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because if you go right on top of that concrete pad, as it moves, you’re going to crack your tiles; you’re going to crack your everything. It’s just going to be a mess.

    THOMAS: Oh, OK. And you can get this mesh at any kind of hardware store?

    TOM: Any home center. Yep. Or a tile supply house would have it.

    Up next, accidents in the home send tens of thousands of Americans to the emergency room every year. In fact, according to the AARP, half of all falls happen at home. But there are some very simple things that you can do right now to prevent the most common accidents. We’ll cover that, after this.

    (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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, making good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or log onto our website and click on Ask Tom and Leslie.

    Well you know, you might not even realize it, but there are probably some trip and fall hazards throughout your home. Not good, since falls are one of the most common household accidents that send Americans to the emergency room every year.

    LESLIE: Well, the folks at AARP say a third of all home accidents can actually be prevented. And there are simple things that you can do right now to decrease the chances of you or your family members from taking a tumble. For example, get rid of those throw rugs. Make sure that your area rugs are held down with double-sided tape or skid resistant padding underneath them. And rearrange your furniture for clear and wide passageways.

    TOM: It makes sense. You know, you can also get rid of the cords that are running under furniture and rugs because that’s an electrical hazard. That could start a fire.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You should never run them under rugs.

    TOM: Bad idea. I used to find folks that did all the time in the years I spent as a home inspector. And it’s crazy because I’ve also found them sort of abraded and worn. And one time I found one that was smoking. So putting cords under things is a very bad idea for all sorts of reasons.

    You also might want to think about putting in night lights and using the very highest wattage bulb that your lamp can take. Now you know, when you replace the bulbs in your light fixtures, it tells you not to exceed 60 watts, 75 watts, 100 watts. Use that wattage so that you have more light in the house. Making sure your house is free of these trip and fall hazards is going to keep the whole family safe.

    Now if you want more information on some easy things that you can do to make your house safer and more comfortable, you can log on to AARP.org/UniversalHome. That’s AARP.org/UniversalHome.

    Leslie, why don’t we jump into the email bag?

    LESLIE: Alright, here we go. This one is from William in Hillsboro, New Jersey. ‘How can I check for any molding or excessive humidity in my house? The reason I’m concerned is that after we moved in …’

    TOM: I think – I think he means mold.

    LESLIE: Oh, so … (laughing). I’m just reading what he wrote.

    TOM: ‘How do you check for molding?’ Well Bill …

    LESLIE: Well, you look on the wall. (laughing) Sorry, William. I’m reading. You know how it gets, Tom.

    Alright. Well, he writes: ‘The reason I’m concerned is that after we moved in two years ago, we noticed some water marks on the walls around the windows. Also, my three-year-old has developed asthma since we moved in. The two may not be related but I want to make sure it’s not the house that’s causing her condition.’ Oh, good concern.

    TOM: You know, that’s a – it’s a good observation, William, and you definitely should bring this to the attention of your medical professional. One question I would have for you, being the amateur doctor that I am, is to note whether or not any respiratory issues are reduced when you leave the house. So if you go on vacation or you get out of the house for the whole day and everything seems to be fine, and you come home and you’ve got an asthma problem, then you definitely need to look at the house.

    But generally, a point in time water leak that just happens and then dries out, is not going to give the mold a chance to grow. It’s got to actually grow over time. So, if it’s a consistently wet condition for a long, long time, then you’ve got more of a risk. But if it’s just a one-time leak and it dries out, not to worry.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, there are some things you can do. Get a dehumidifier in the house, control the humidity and you should keep all of that moisture down; which could reduce the potential for mold growth and keep your daughter healthy.

    TOM: OK, so you fished the spoon out of the garbage disposal but now the disposal won’t turn on. Well, don’t grind your teeth just yet. On today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word, she’s got a tip on how to avoid a $75 plumbing bill.

    LESLIE: That’s right. When your disposal jams, it often automatically shuts off. And it might not restart by just using that wall switch. And most homeowners aren’t aware that there’s a reset button and it’s located right on the bottom of that garbage disposal unit itself. So after you safely remove any and all of those crazy foreign objects from that disposal, one touch of that button could save you a huge repair bill.

    TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to solve some scary plumbing problems. We’ve got an expert from Roto-Rooter who has a very interesting background. In fact, he is a cast member from the Ghost Hunter program on the Science Fiction channel and actually goes into homes and solves some of the mysterious plumbing problems and other sorts of ghost infestations.

    LESLIE: So in both situations, he’s dealing with things no one else wants to touch.

    TOM: (chuckling) That’s right. Dealing with the living and the dead which could exist in your pipes. So we’re going to have that on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    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)

    END HOUR 1 TEXT

    (Copyright 2006 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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