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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.)


    (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: Broadcasting live from Anaheim, California. We are at the AARP Life@50+ event and we are broadcasting a home that was built by The Home Depot to kind of feature the elements of good design.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah I know you want to live here, Tom.

    TOM: I do.

    LESLIE: But you’re not allowed.

    TOM: You know there are a lot of things going on here at this convention.

    LESLIE: Oh, my God. It’s already turning into like a rock concert. There’s so many things going on here at the Life@50+ event. There are 430 exhibitors highlighting cutting-edge technologies, travel, leisure, entertainment, food. Who’s performing? Elton John is performing here tonight? (chuckling) I mean it’s like come on. You come here, you learn something and you go to a party. And it’s interesting because we’re here focusing on what you can do to make your home work for you and changes that you can make so you can stay in your house for as long as you possibly can. And you’ve heard us talking about some of these ideas recently and today you’re going to hear even more of them right from the experts at AARP.

    TOM: And in just a few minutes, we’re going to talk to an expert from Home Depot about what your home says about you. New research shows that three-quarters of baby boomers studied – they studied, think the look of their home is an important part of who they are. Well that makes a lot of sense.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Of course they do. (chuckling)

    TOM: Of course they do. (chuckling) So what improvements can you make to your house that makes it feel more like a home? We’re going to tell you in just a minute.

    LESLIE: And what about your appliances? What are they saying about you? Well, baby boomers say that the kitchen is the most important room in the house. And we’re going to find out what differences the right appliances can make.

    TOM: It’s definitely the most important room in my house.

    LESLIE: Yeah, me too.

    TOM: All that and more. Plus one caller this hour is going to win a prize package from Master Lock worth $115. If you want to qualify, pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. You must have a home improvement question and be willing to come on the program.

    LESLIE: Alright, well we’re here at the AARP Life@50+ event, so obviously we’re talking about how to make your home more comfortable as you age. But homeowners of any age can benefit by what we’re going to tell you today.

    TOM: Right. Incorporating innovative designs into your home now is a great idea. It will help you create a stylish environment that suits how you live today and it’s going to provide a safe and comfortable home for years to come. Here to tell us exactly how to do that is Pat Wilkinson from The Home Depot.

    Hey, Pat. Did you build this house just for us?

    PAT: I did. Absolutely. (chuckling) Just for you guys.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Pat.

    PAT: I knew you were going to be here today.

    TOM: Well, let’s talk about, starting, what you guys did to construct this house. Now you have elements of design in this house …

    PAT: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … that really are elements that you can put in your house today. You don’t have to build a house from scratch. And they can actually help you stay in the house longer and be more comfortable.

    PAT: Right. We designed this house to be what we call an intergenerational house. This is a house that anybody can move into today, feel perfectly comfortable in and live here throughout their entire life. Things like zero-threshold entryways so that wheelchairs can go over them without any problems. Same thing in bathroom – the shower has a zero clearance.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s not just for wheelchairs.

    PAT: No.

    LESLIE: I mean it’s for folks pushing baby carriages. I know myself have two left feet.

    PAT: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: I trip over things constantly.

    PAT: Right.

    LESLIE: So it’s just helpful for anybody to keep them from tripping up at home.

    TOM: Like I noticed the entrance here starts flat. There’s no threshold at the door. You go in; you have carpet, hardwood floor, ceramic tile with no thresholds …

    PAT: None whatsoever.

    TOM: … no saddles in between. So it’s perfectly flat.

    PAT: Yes, absolutely. So, as you say, it can be for strollers; it can be for wheelchairs; it can be just, you know – any one of us trips over these things all the time. (chuckling) Now you don’t anymore.

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: Well, I notice the Home Depot employees who helped build this house and the folks at the stores, are they being educated to better deal with this type of consumer to help them make these decisions?

    PAT: Absolutely. When we bring these products into our stores, the manufacturers of the products spend a great deal of time educating our associates so that they can actually give customers all the information they need about the benefits of the products and how to install them. And we also install these products ourselves if customers don’t want to do it themselves.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Now Pat, I understand you guys just did some research that really kind of nailed down how long people actually really want to stay in their house. What were some of the findings of your latest project?

    PAT: What we found is that our customers really do want to stay in their homes for as long as they possibly can. They’ve lived in their houses for a number of years. The kids have moved away. They want to renovate them.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    PAT: They want them to be the most current they can be but they don’t want to move to new communities. They’re …

    LESLIE: Start all over again.

    PAT: Absolutely. They’ll buy second homes but they like to stay in their primary residence for as long as possible.

    LESLIE: Well, what are some of the simple adjustments that folks can do on their own to help their home be a little bit more helpful for them?

    PAT: Well, there are a lot of things. Things like windows; using the windows with the …

    LESLIE: The crank-out style.

    PAT: The crank-out style windows.

    TOM: Right.

    PAT: Make it a lot easier so you don’t have to really push hard to get windows up. That’s an easy renovation that can be done. In your floors, putting in new tiling that has the nonskid surface on it so that you don’t slip and fall.

    LESLIE: It’s so important – especially when putting in a tile floor – that you don’t just pick out something you think is attractive. Make sure it’s rated for floors because too often, people will try to install a wall tile on a floor and then slip and slide.

    PAT: Absolutely. Very, very dangerous. Easy adjustments in your kitchen. You can buy drawers that actually slide out of your cabinets as opposed to you having to get down on your knees and dig in.

    TOM: And actually …

    PAT: I mean I’ve got them in my home and I love them. They’re so easy.

    TOM: Two …

    LESLIE: Yeah, we do too.

    TOM: Two really smart things that I liked in this kitchen. Number one – you took the dishwasher and you moved it up about 12 inches.

    PAT: Isn’t that great?

    TOM: And that’s so great because now you don’t have to bend over to take dishes in and out of the dishwasher.

    LESLIE: Well and also when the door is down then, you’re more aware of it because it doesn’t sort of just vanish and then you go and accidentally back over it and trip into it.

    PAT: (chuckling) We all have those scars on our shins, don’t we? (chuckling)

    TOM: Leslie, it sounds like you’ve had some experience with that. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Maybe once or twice.

    TOM: And the other thing was the microwave. Most people have microwaves that are up on a shelf above the range. And that can be super dangerous when you’re trying to lift like a hot pot out of it.

    PAT: Right. Two things that we did in this kitchen. We installed the oven – the built-in oven – much lower than you would normally find …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    PAT: … in a house so that people can get in and out of it easily without bending over too far. And then the microwave right above it so that, again, easily accessible for somebody who’s standing but also for people in a wheelchair can (inaudible) easily.

    LESLIE: And I also like that your kitchen countertops are of varying heights …

    PAT: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: … for whether you’re sitting, standing, tall, short. It really works for everyone.

    PAT: Absolutely.

    TOM: Some of the improvements that we saw in the bathroom here as well – shower doors that open out and not in.

    PAT: Right.

    TOM: I can see that a door that opened in would be very difficult to get – to use; especially if you can’t get out. (chuckling)

    PAT: (overlapping voices) You can get in but then you can’t close it. Exactly.

    TOM: Pinch yourself in.

    LESLIE: Well and then also if you fall down and you end up leaned up against the door and maybe you’ve knocked your head, somebody can then open the door and grab you out.

    PAT: That would. Absolutely.

    LESLIE: And that happens to anybody.

    PAT: One of the other things you see in the bathroom is the great hold bars that we have in there.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    PAT: And if you notice, they are not very industrial looking at all.

    LESLIE: Oh, not at all. They’re beautiful.

    PAT: They’ve been done in a finish that actually matches the faucet in that – in the shower itself.

    LESLIE: And I have to tell you, satin nickel – I was just recently at The Home Depot putting in new satin nickel stuff in our bathroom and apparently that must be the new trend because it was like sold out everywhere.

    PAT: It is. It is one of our most popular. But we’re looking at all kinds of new finishes as well; the brushed copper …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    PAT: … the bronze. And making sure that all of the safety products are available in those finishes for our customers.

    TOM: Now we know that improvements to your kitchen and your bathroom give you absolutely hands down the best return on investment. If people want to remodel a bathroom, are your kitchen and bath designers now sensitive to these design elements so that maybe even when someone comes in and is not aware of all of the options – for example, you know, good looking faucets …

    PAT: Right.

    TOM: … that are also easier to operate – are your folks taking the time to educate consumers about that?

    PAT: They are. And all of these capabilities are actually built into our design systems that our designers use …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    PAT: … so that all of the products are there for them to reference when they’re doing a design for a kitchen. And they – and they have a thorough checklist that they ask questions of our customers about what their needs are both now and into the future. So we make sure that we really do design kitchens and baths that our customers really need for their homes.

    LESLIE: And it’s helpful so that when your customers do come in, whether they already know what they want or what they have an idea of what they want, you can really guide them to make those decisions.

    PAT: And it’s surprising how few customers actually do know what is available to them in these types of products today.

    TOM: Right.

    PAT: And so, you know, we make sure that we spend the time educating them about it so that they can make those kinds of decisions. And it really does not cost a lot more. It’s a very small, incremental cost but when you take into account what you might have to do five years from now …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    PAT: … why not spend a little bit more now and not have to make those changes five years from now.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And not have to do it again.

    TOM: Well, there’s a lot of great example inside this house. And it’s absolutely beautiful, too.

    PAT: Thank you.

    TOM: I mean the design is very pleasant and open.

    LESLIE: Lovely color choices.

    TOM: Great colors and …

    PAT: Thank you. Yep.

    TOM: … it’s a really nice way of being able to see what’s possible.

    PAT: Thank you. Yeah, we’re very proud of the house.

    TOM: Pat Wilkinson with The Home Depot, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    PAT: Thank you Tom; Leslie.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Pat.

    Alright folks. Well, now you can call in your home improvement or your home repair question 24 hours a day, seven days a week – oh, we’ve got applause for Pat over here (chuckling) – and you guys know the number. It’s 888-MONEY-PIT. And you can also applaud Pat via the phone.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Will you be able to safely use your tub, toilet and shower as you get older? Some bathroom safety guidelines, next.

    (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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We are in Anaheim, California today at the AARP Life@50+ event.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’re broadcasting a special edition of The Money Pit today from Anaheim, like Tom said, and taking part in a huge event by the folks at AARP and it’s called Life@50+. And there are lots of things going on geared towards Americans as they approach their golden age, but we are here to focus on your house and how you can be comfortable, secure and safe in your home for many years to come.

    TOM: For example, some planning now and some simple changes will make using your bathroom more convenient and safe. Let’s talk about the doorway. It needs to be at least 32 inches wide and the door should open out, not in. That makes it easier to access. It also should be able to be unlocked from the outside. The floor should have a nonslip surface. And for more great tips just like these, you can visit – and they have, actually, a universal design bathroom checklist …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, so you can go over everything and make sure you’re doing everything appropriately. And also, if you can’t do them all at once, you can sort of keep track of what you need to do in the future.

    TOM: And that website is AARP.org/UniversalHome.


    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got a call from Daisy in Michigan who’s got something going on in the basement. What’s going on, Daisy?

    TOM: Line four, Daisy.

    DAISY: Hello. Thanks for taking my call.

    TOM: How can we help you?

    DAISY: Hey, got a quick question for you? I have a basement issue. I had my basement refinished a couple years ago, but I am seeing on the walls that there seems to moisture that the – it’s like it’s changing colors. It has a discoloration.

    TOM: OK, you say – first of all, you said you had it finished. What kind of finish do you have? Are we talking about drywall that you’re seeing this discoloration on?

    DAISY: Well, half of it was finished with drywall.

    TOM: OK.

    DAISY: It was finished. And the other half is more of a utility area. And the wall itself is brick.

    TOM: OK.

    DAISY: And I’m seeing like crumbling; like little, like …

    TOM: OK. Are you seeing like sort of white, grayish-white, crusty …

    DAISY: Yeah, yeah.

    TOM: OK.

    DAISY: And some …

    TOM: Alright, got it.

    DAISY: … discoloration also.

    TOM: OK, here’s what’s going on, Daisy? You have a moisture infiltration problem in the – in the basement. What you’re seeing on your walls is …

    LESLIE: Is efflorescence.

    TOM: That’s right. It’s mineral salt deposits. Here’s what happened. The water collects at the foundation perimeter. It runs against the wall. You may have a blocked gutter; you may have no gutters; you may not have the gutters extended far enough out; or the grade might be poor and it might be sloping into the house or be flat. As that water gets into the wall, the wall is very hydroscopic. It’s very absorbent. And what happens is the water gets absorbed into the wall and then the water evaporates into the basement. But it leaves behind it’s mineral salt deposit.

    LESLIE: Which is that white color that you’re seeing.

    TOM: Right. So that’s evidence of not discoloration. That’s evidence of a moisture problem that has to be addressed. And it’s important to address it because we do not want moisture building up – especially behind that drywall area – because you could get mold that grows.

    LESLIE: Yeah. So to address those moisture issues, like Tom said, check your gutters. If you don’t have any, install them. Make sure you’ve got downspouts. Make sure they’re clean, they run fully and that water deposits about three to six feet away from the house foundation wall. You want your grading to slope down about four inches, six inches over four feet. It’s not a drastic slope, it’s very gradual. But that’s going to get the water away.

    Now, to get rid of that sort of white discoloration you see, if you make a mixture of white vinegar and water, that usually tackles it.

    TOM: Not red vinegar and water.

    LESLIE: Yeah, not salad dressing.

    TOM: That’s for a salad. (chuckling)

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

    Sue is listening in North Dakota; line three. You’ve got a question about a floor that’s out of whack. Sue, what can we do for you?

    SUE: Well, thank you for taking my call, first.

    TOM: You’re welcome.

    SUE: The – live in a home that had a detached garage. And then about 40 years ago, they built a concrete slab that connected the garage and the house.

    TOM: OK.

    SUE: And then, 20 years after that, they made the slab larger. And now we have a breezeway kind of between the garage and the house.

    TOM: So you have all of these sections of the building that were added on to and added on to and added on to and it eventually connected. And so it probably has floors of varying heights. Is that what’s going on?

    SUE: That’s right. And I don’t know what kind of floor covering to use and – or what to do.

    TOM: Well, I guess the first question I would have, Leslie, is whether or not it’s possible to bring some of these floors up or down to match …

    LESLIE: Hmm.

    TOM: … so we can eliminate as many of the obstructions as possible.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And eliminate the need to go up or down steps.

    TOM: Right. Because I mean that’s part of what we’re talking about when we talk about barrier-free construction. I mean, you know, the fewer bumps in the floor, the better. I know for me that would work.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean it’s really just helpful. If your hands are full and you’re not really paying attention to where you’re walking, it helps you to just move smoothly from space to space. Is there anything on the floor right now?

    SUE: Well, it’s concrete that linoleum had been glued down to.

    TOM: OK. You can – I think that the first thing I would try to see is what floors are low that can be brought up. There’s a number of ways to do that. You could build it up, if it’s a lot, with pressure treated lumber on the flat; sort of create what we call sleepers …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and then put plywood on top of that. Or if it’s just a little bit, you know, you could use an extra piece of pressure-treated plywood and lay it on top of that.

    Floor covering-wise – probably the product that’s going to give you the most – the most forgiving might be laminate floor in this situation.

    LESLIE: Well, laminate’s going to be the best situation because you’re dealing with so much moisture because you’ve got just, you know, tons of concrete slab right there. So that’s really going to help because it’s made from plastic but it looks like wood, it looks like tile and it will really stand up to water. Also, ceramic tile is a good choice but that’s also, you know, a greater installation cost.

    TOM: Be a little harder to install. The laminate floor’s pretty easy to install today. It all locks together. It’s like kind of putting together a puzzle piece. It sort of snaps together.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And prices are similar between ceramics and laminates and stylistically, you can choose a lot more.

    TOM: So there’s some options for you, Sue. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Now, if you want to make sure your appliances stand the test of time in your home for years to come, choosing top quality items that include warranties is important. A well-established company like GE is a good way to go and joining us to talk about GE’s appliances is Joe Cody who’s in charge of GE’s standards of excellence. That’s a lot of responsibility, Joe. (chuckling)

    JOE: (chuckling) Thank you. I’m with Standards of Excellence. We’re a distributor of major kitchen appliances and General Electric is one of our main lines. So, when it comes to, you know, selection of products…

    TOM: Right.

    JOE: … and what’s available out in the industry, our company is a great one to choose.

    TOM: Let me ask you a question. Since you’re in charge of the standards of excellence, I guess when you guys, you know, start on the drawing board with a new appliance, the decisions that you’re making every step of the way – how does that play into price point? Because obviously, on one end, you know, if the budget was no – was not an issue, you could make one that was incredibly – it would last a lifetime. You could have a dishwasher that never broke down. But you must have to make little step – decisions every step of the way to kind of make sure you get good quality and good value that still maintains that standard. How does that process work?

    JOE: That’s a very big question. (chuckling) When it comes to trying to bring things to the marketplace that people are going to want to – want to use in the general – across the board, there’s a lot of different appliance spec levels that we have to meet.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    JOE: And so, you know, price is very important. But when you want quality, efficiency and things that are going to last, there is a price that you have to pay.

    LESLIE: How do you think appliances can actually make homeowners’ lives a bit safer? What are the features that you’re putting in to do that as well?

    JOE: Well, the climate keeper system in our new refrigeration with General Electric refrigeration is a very important one. It’s one that’s been out in the industry a lot and it has to do with preserving food for a longer period of time.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    JOE: It’s one thing to put your food in the refrigerator and it just stays cold; as opposed to staying fresh. You know, a lot of people want to prepare a really good meal and that’s where it starts. You want to have good, fresh food coming out of the refrigerator and that’s an extremely important part of climate keeping.

    LESLIE: And why do you think the folks at GE are so committed to making sure that their users get fantastic appliances and assist them well?

    JOE: Well, it’s very important. I mean the General Electric logo, the General Electric name is extremely important and you want to take care of your customers.

    TOM: Terrific. Joe Cody from GE, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    LESLIE: Thanks very much.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s go now to line two.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Seth in Michigan who’s getting rid of some gnats or fruit flies. Tell us what’s going on at your house.

    SETH: Hi. I’ve had some gnats and fruit flies.

    TOM: OK.

    SETH: And I was just wondering how do I get rid of them? Like – because I have like flowers and like different types of fruits out. And I was just wondering how I got – how I get rid of them.

    TOM: Well, there’s a couple of things that you can do but I’ll give you a – we’ll give you a good recipe …

    LESLIE: It’s a good home remedy.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: You probably have all these things at your house right now.

    TOM: You have apple cider vinegar, Seth?

    SETH: No, I don’t.

    TOM: Alright. Go pick up some apple cider vinegar and dish soap. And you add a cup of vinegar to a tablespoon of soap and that works very, very well.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you set this dish out in your kitchen, what’s going to happen is the gnats or the fruit flies are going to get right in there but then it’s so slippery they can’t get out. So then they love it because it’s sort of sweet. So they’re just going to gravitate there and then they’re going to be gone.

    TOM: And then every once in a while you can change it. And there’s a good solution to knock down that population and hopefully they won’t come back.

    SETH: OK, so it’s fruit – or not – sorry.

    TOM: One cup of vinegar.

    SETH: One cup of vinegar.

    TOM: And one tablespoon of dish soap.

    SETH: (overlapping voices) Of dish soap. OK.

    TOM: Alright? There you go.

    SETH: Alright, thank you very much.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Apple cider vinegar will keep the fruit flies off the apples. Thanks so much for calling us 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, folks. You know what happens if you call that number. We’re going to choose a caller this hour and they’re going to win a great prize from the Master Lock folks. It’s a gift pack worth $115. It’s got a luggage lock; a cargo kit; a contractor-grade padlock; and a combination lock and a Night Watch deadbolt.

    TOM: That’s right. The Master Lock Night Watch deadbolt is the only deadbolt designed to prevent an intruder from entering your home even if they have your key. That’s what so cool about this. It fits all doors. It replaces any brand of deadbolt and can be installed in about 15 minutes with just a Phillips screwdriver.

    LESLIE: Yeah and that’s something you can do yourself.

    TOM: That’s right. So call us right now if you want to win. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Broadcasting live today from the AARP Life@50+ convention in Anaheim, California. Enjoying some of the warm weather here, so if the snow is falling in your part of the world, sorry. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: I know. It’s super sunny here, I hate to tell you folks.

    Alright. Well, you might think of a phone in your bathroom as a luxury but it could, one day, be a necessity. We’re going to explain that, next.

    TOM: Alright, lots of things coming up here. Please stay with us.

    (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: Welcome back to this hour of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Alright folks, well you think a phone might be a luxury. Maybe it’s something that you seem to think is unnecessary, but I know when I’m traveling and there’s phones in the bathroom at the hotels, it’s really a nice thing to have. And it’s actually not a bad …

    TOM: That’s because you’re a multitasker. (laughing)

    LESLIE: I am a multitasker and I like to know that the phone’s there if I need it. But it’s actually not a bad idea. A phone in the bathroom can actually bring fast help if you slip and fall in there. And you want to choose a phone that’s going to be there if you have an emergency. You don’t want to pick a portable phone because you might be tempted to carry it out of the bathroom and leave it somewhere else in the house; as they always do; they get legs of their own. And a phone really is your best bet. Make sure you hang the phone near your shower, tub or toilet; choose a place that you can reach even if you’re lying on the floor if you do slip and fall; and don’t forget to store important phone numbers in there so – in case you forget or you get frantic.

    TOM: Just make sure that you don’t use the phone while you’re in the bathtub or standing in water. Zap.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (whining sound) Yeah, you’ll get electrocuted.

    TOM: (chuckling) It may be low voltage but it’s electric. It could get wet and you could give yourself quite a shock.

    Alright, well we’re broadcasting a special edition of The Money Pit today from AARP’s Life@50+ event in Anaheim, California. So if you’re digging yourself out of the latest snow storm …

    LESLIE: And there’s been a lot of snow across the U.S. quite early.

    TOM: … we’re jealous. (laughing)

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Or maybe they’re jealous. We’re in the sunny California sunshine. And you know what? We’re here talking about making your home more comfortable and safer for you as you age. You know, like the tip you just heard about bathroom phones. And these are things that you can make now that will help you stay in your home and help you carry through your home at every phase of your life. And we’ve got some folks here who are at the event who stopped by to ask questions. And we’ve got Kelly from Louisville, Kentucky.

    Kelly, welcome.

    KELLY: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Tell us what’s going on at your house.

    KELLY: I’m trying to replace the garage door. The garage is separated from the house but the door needs to replaced and I was just trying to figure out what would be a good door to put on it.

    TOM: So it’s a – it’s a detached garage?

    KELLY: Correct.

    TOM: OK. And it’s a front door or it’s the overhead door?

    KELLY: Front door.

    TOM: OK, of the garage.

    KELLY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: It’s an entry door.

    KELLY: Correct.

    TOM: Probably the best doors today are fiberglass doors.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    KELLY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Because the fiberglass doors look just like real wood …

    KELLY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … but they’re made out of fiberglass. And you get energy efficiency if you use them for your front door – which, of course, is not an issue in a garage –

    KELLY: Right.

    TOM: – but you also get durability. They’re going to be dimensionally stable. So they don’t expand, they don’t contract and they’re insect resistant.

    LESLIE: And you’re not going to have to do any maintenance to it. You know, with a wood door, you’re going to need to re-sand or repaint or restain. With a fiberglass door, that finish is set in there and it will never be structurally compromised ever during its lifetime.

    KELLY: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: And they’re even resistant to super high winds. I know they’re great for hurricane areas. I think – what is it? – 150 miles an hour?

    TOM: That’s right. I went to the research facility for Therma-Tru Doors – which is a great brand of doors –

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: – and I just saw a test where they took a 2×4 and they fired it with an air cannon at a fiberglass door. And with a wood door, it went right through. With a fiberglass door, it just bounces off. So they’re really, really strong doors and they have great locking systems. So check out Therma-Tru – T-h-e-r-m-a-T-r-u.com – and you can get some more information on fiberglass doors.

    LESLIE: And we’ve got a $25 gift card for you from the folks at Home Depot.

    KELLY: Thank you.

    LESLIE: So use that toward your new door.

    KELLY: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Thanks for stopping by.

    Alright. Now, we also have Lois from Palos Verdes, California. (microphone feedback)

    Welcome, Lois. How can we help you?

    LOIS: My problem’s a little different. My husband goes to Home Depot every single day. (chuckling)


    LOIS: And I’m wondering who he’s having an affair with. (laughter)

    LESLIE: It’s a love affair of all the things in the aisles. It’s not one specific item, I guarantee you.

    TOM: (chuckling) We can’t help you with that one …

    LESLIE: Oh.

    TOM: … but we feel your pain. Enjoy your time here …

    LOIS: Thank you.

    TOM: … at the Life@50+ event. 888-666-3974. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Let’s go to line three now.

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got Laura in Wisconsin who’s got a radon situation at the house. Tell us what’s going on.

    LAURA: I live in a mobile home and I’m wondering whether I even need to do anything about radon.

    TOM: No, you don’t. If you live in a manufactured home, you probably don’t; as long as it doesn’t have a permanent foundation.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: You have no basement. At the most, you’d have a crawlspace but it’s so ventilated you don’t have to worry about it. But if you’re listening to this program and you do have a house with a finished basement, we definitely recommend a radon test.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s important because it’s something that forms from the minerals in the dirt, correct?

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: So anything, if you have a dirt foundation …

    TOM: That’s right. It’s a gas that forms from the soil. It’s a soil gas.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And it can be cancerous. So what you do is you test for it. The way you test for it is something called a charcoal absorption canister. It’s a small can of activated charcoal.

    LESLIE: Do you just buy that at a home center or do you have to get one specially ordered?

    TOM: Well, a home center or a lab. You can order them online.


    TOM: And we’re only talking about $10, $15 here. And you put it in your house and usually you put it in for two to seven days.

    LESLIE: And you should do it in the winter when everything’s closed up, correct?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. It has to be done under what’s called closed-house conditions which means all of the doors and the windows have to be closed except for normal in and out of the house.


    TOM: And then, after the seven day period, you seal it back; you send it to the lab. And they read it and they send you back the result. And what you’re looking for is the number of picocuries. That’s how radon is measured.

    LESLIE: It’s four, correct?

    TOM: Four picocuries; 4.0 picocuries or higher means you have to take some action and four and under, you’re safe.

    LAURA: Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well this week, the Commerce Department reported that the median home price dropped 10 percent from last year. That is amazing.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s amazing.

    LESLIE: And to that, get to – to get this to you in perspective, that’s the largest drop of home prices in 35 years. This is crazy. Of course, just when I buy a house.

    TOM: Of course. So what does this really mean to you? Well, it means you’d better listen up to what we’re covering this hour because you might be staying in your home for a long time.

    LESLIE: You’re going to have to. (chuckling)

    TOM: But perhaps you’re thinking that that home of yours is a bit cramped or it needs a new bath or a kitchen or a deck. Are you wondering which home improvements to do first? Are you wondering which ones are going to give you the very best return on investment? We’ll tell you, after this.

    (promo/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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: This is a very special edition of The Money Pit program. Today we are in Anaheim, California; the site of AARP’s Life@50+ event. It’s a huge gathering of folks who are sharing and learning about life in the golden years; everything from food, entertainment, travel, leisure, you name it. And of course, we are here to talk about innovative design ideas to help you stay in your home as long as you possibly can.

    LESLIE: Alright. So we were talking about housing prices down 10 percent in the past year. This is amazing. Of course, now that we’re all homeowners, we’re all very concerned about this. So should you move or should you improve? Well, there are things to – you know, some important financial factors to consider and it’s all based on cost and tradeoffs.

    You know, remodeling – it can have a pretty big price tag but it can increase your home’s current value. Or moving, you know, somewhere new – it can cost about 10 to 15 percent over the value of your present home. If you do the math and make sure you’re making the right move, you’re going to ultimately decide to stay and improve. It usually works out to the be the best. Be sure you’re not overdoing it for the price range in your neighborhood, though. You always see that some people start to do remodeling work and they just really make their house more enormous than anybody else.

    TOM: We call them serial renovators. They just don’t know when to stop. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I think I’m one of them.

    TOM: But you do it for a job, so that doesn’t count. Now, if you decide to stay put, which improvements are going to give you the best return on investment? Here’s the list: baths and kitchens. Always solid investments. Room additions are OK so long as you don’t overdo it and over improve for the neighborhood. What does this mean? Well, it means if, for example, you’re in a community of three bedroom homes and all of a sudden you have the only six bedroom home (chuckling), you know, that’s probably not going to give you a good return on investment.

    Also, decks. That’s the one luxury improvement that gives you a phenomenal return on investment. You know what the numbers are on that? A hundred and five percent ROI.

    LESLIE: Well, and it improves your life so much; having that outdoor space that you can utilize. And you can even – depending on where you live in the country – use it all year long. So it makes just a lot of sense to expand your space that way.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s go to the phones.

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got some callers standing by. We’ve got Rachel on line two from New Hampshire, listening on WGIR. And you’ve got a question about heating. What can we do for you?

    RACHEL: Yes, I do. Recently, in the last couple of months, we’ve put in new windows and doors. And we are surprised that the house is not warmer than we had anticipated. The windows are vinyl with low-e argon …


    TOM: OK.

    RACHEL: … (inaudible) pane and the doors are fiberglass. And especially around the doors, we’re still experiencing some air. They are fiberglass and they have like a round, rubberized type …

    LESLIE: Like a gasket.

    TOM: Like a weather strip. OK.

    RACHEL: … weather strip around them.

    TOM: OK.

    RACHEL: And – but they’re kind of strange because from the inside, you can see part of the lock; you know, where it connects?

    TOM: OK.

    RACHEL: And it came as a unit and with it installed professionally with the door …

    TOM: Alright.

    RACHEL: … and also the frame.

    TOM: OK, well there’s a couple of things that come to mind. Certainly you’re getting the opposite effect of what you intended. You wanted to warm your house up. And so, far as the door is concerned, sometimes doors need a little bit of adjustment. They don’t always go in perfectly.

    LESLIE: And that happens at the hinging.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Adjusting it at the hinge, you can move the door forward and back, in and out and you can actually adjust it so that the weather stripping has a tight seal all the way around. But beyond that, I want to look at other areas in your house to make sure that they’re operating efficiently. The first thing I want you to do is to make sure you have your heating system serviced so that we know that it’s only using the gas that it has to use to do its job. The second thing – I want you to look at your insulation. We want to take a look at the attic insulation because most homes in this country don’t have enough. Even ones that were built …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Or it settled over time and you have to replace it or refresh it or even add to it.

    TOM: That’s right. And according to the Department of Energy, even homes that are just a couple of years old may not have enough. So what are we talking about? We’re talking about 10 to 15 inches of insulation. We’re talking about good ventilation because if you don’t have proper ventilation …

    LESLIE: Then your insulation’s not going to work for you at all.

    TOM: It stays – it stays damp. And then, beyond that, I want you to look at your thermostat. I want to make sure we have a clock setback thermostat so that’s operating efficiently. And through a combination of those things, you ought to be a lot warmer.

    LESLIE: What about having a heat audit from your energy provider?

    TOM: You know, that’s a good idea. A lot of the utilities …

    LESLIE: An energy audit.

    TOM: The utilities out there will actually do an energy audit; have a professional come in your house. So one thing that they can do is called a blower door test. And with a blower door test, they basically pressurize or depressurize the entire structure and can measure exactly how much air is leaking out and they can help you figure out where that air might be leaking out.

    LESLIE: And that’s something that your utility company can come and do for you and arrange for you. And a lot of times, it’s free.

    TOM: Exactly. Rachel, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Paul in South Dakota on line four. What’s going on at your house?

    PAUL: Hi.

    TOM: Hi.

    PAUL: Got a great call – great show there. Thanks for taking my call.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Paul. What can we do for you?

    PAUL: My front porch roof doubles as balconies – my second floor. It has rolled roofing on it, which does a great roof but doesn’t look …

    TOM: That’s a lousy deck.

    PAUL: … as a balcony floor.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a lousy deck. Roll roofing is not designed for any kind of abrasion.

    LESLIE: Is that just like a rubber membrane?

    TOM: No, roll roofing is roll roofing that comes in sheets. It’s like a shingle but it comes in a roll. And it’s usually put down with an 18-inch overlap.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And it’s probably the least expensive type of low-slope roof, but it absolutely has zero abrasion resistance so it’s not designed to be walked on in any way so ever.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So it could be a slippery sort of surface. Maybe almost a hazard.

    TOM: I mean if you put a chair or even your heels, you’re going to wear through that lickety-split. The best surface for a balcony that’s an actual deck is a fiberglass deck; actually crafted in place …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … by a pro. What they do is they build a flat surface, usually with fresh plywood. Then they put fiberglass down in different layers. They top it with a gel coat and anti-skid coat on top of that. And that is as solid and leak proof as a bathtub when it’s done.

    LESLIE: And that should stand up well to those crazy weather conditions they get out in the Dakotas.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. You just don’t have the right kind of roofing material there, Paul.

    PAUL: Right.

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

    Steve, line five, Iowa. Question about drywall. We’ve got about a minute left. How can we help you?

    STEVE: Yeah, I had water damage in the basement and I had to – I had to replace about four foot of drywall up 18 inches and try to blend it in with orange peel surface.

    TOM: With an orange peeled surface.

    LESLIE: Uh-huh. I’m putting a texture on it.

    TOM: Orange peel paint. Steve, that’s a great question and it gives me some concerns because you have drywall in the basement, which is a potentially dangerous combination. We’re going to tell you about a new product that can give you a wall surface but it won’t grow mold and we’ll do that right after these words.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit has been brought to you by Metal Roofing Alliance. We call metal roofing investment-grade roofing. Because in your lifetime, a metal roof will save you money and add value to your home. To find a Metal Roofing Alliance contractor or to learn more about investment-grade roofing, visit www.metalroofing.com.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and we’re broadcasting a very special edition of The Money Pit today from AARP’s Life@50+ event with 430 exhibitors showcasing everything from food, entertainment, travel, leisure and of course, in our area of expertise, home design.

    TOM: Let’s go back to the phones. We were talking to Steve in Iowa and before the break, Steve, you said you need some advice on replacing drywall in a basement. Our advice would be to not replace it with drywall but to use a product that’s called Dens Armor. And the reason for that is because Dens Armor looks like drywall except instead of having a paper face – which is mold food – it has a fiberglass face. So …

    LESLIE: So it’s really good for moisture areas like the basement.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a new high-tech wallboard material. It’s made by Georgia-Pacific. Their website is ….

    LESLIE: Doesn’t cost that much more.

    TOM: … StopFeedingMold.com. So that would be the hot ticket on that.

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

    Let’s go to line two and talk to Mel in Texas. You’ve got a leak situation. Mel, what’s going on?

    MEL: Well, we just bought a house. We had it inspected in and, I don’t know, I guess the inspector didn’t catch it or didn’t check it or something but we got our first water bill and it was enormous.

    TOM: OK. (clears throat)

    MEL: And the people that built the house are no longer around and so we had – they had a leak somewhere between the meter – the shut off valve and the house. And what ended up, I guess, really happening, we’ve already got it (audio gap) but ended up having two plumbers come and check it out. And after $5,000 …

    TOM: Oh, my goodness.

    MEL: … of trying to find out where the leak was, they ended up cutting the line.

    TOM: Wow. Wow.

    MEL: How – I mean – I mean they had the ears that they listen to …

    TOM: Mm-hmm, right. Mm-hmm.

    MEL: … and then they had the electronic thing that they listened to.

    TOM: Right. So what’s your question.

    MEL: How do you find a leak under a cement slab without it costing you $5,000?

    TOM: (overlapping voices) That is a – it is a difficult situation. Now, first of all, the way you confirm the leak is by turning off everything in the house and watching the water meter. The water meter shouldn’t be moving. If the water meter continues to move, then you may need to leave it; walk away for an hour or so with absolutely no water running.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And if then you see it moving, then you know that the leak …

    LESLIE: Then you know there’s a leak somewhere.

    TOM: … is there somewhere. Beyond that, all you can do is know where the pipe – the last place you can see the pipe when it goes into the floor and the last place that you don’t see it where it comes out and you know the leak is somewhere in between there. Beyond that, there’s not really a good, successful, reliable way to actually determine that. But that is the most expensive type of pipe leak; when it’s actually under a floor.

    Well, that has been an amazing hour here at Anaheim, California in the AARP’s Life@50+ convention. We’ve got a lot of information; a lot of ground we covered.

    LESLIE: Well and it’s just such an interesting event to see how folks plan on spending their retirement years, the things they want to do to the house, and how it really is just inviting for all family members. It’s a really nice event.

    TOM: And how easy it is to make these improvements. You know, they have a great website online – AARP.org/UniversalHome – where you can go there and really take advantage, either on a room-by-room basis or item-by-item basis, of all of the things, all of the improvements that you could make that’s going to be make your home safer and more comfortable.

    We want to thank …

    LESLIE: And a lot of them you can do yourself.

    TOM: You can.

    We want to thank AARP for having us here. Thank The Home Depot for building a house for us to actually sit in and broadcast …

    LESLIE: (chuckling) And we’re going to stay here.

    TOM: … broadcast from. And also tell you that next week we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of some home improvement projects that you can do with routers. I think it’s an overlooked tool.

    LESLIE: Yeah, people are so afraid of routers; especially because they just seem like they’re a little bit out of control. But they can do such wonderful decorative details.

    TOM: Expert tips next week. 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 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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