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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

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


    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. We’re here to help you get the jobs done. Call us now if you’re worried about high energy bills this winter because now is the time to tackle those home improvement projects that can help you cut those bills down. We’re going to talk about that this hour, starting with duct tape. (Leslie chuckles) ‘Why would duct tape have anything to do with my energy bills, Tom?’ Well …

    LESLIE: Because you’re going to wrap it around yourself for warmth?

    TOM: (chuckling) I don’t know that it has that kind of insulating qualities, Leslie. (Leslie chuckles) But duct tape, despite its name, actually is not designed for ducts and will not help you save energy if you wrap it around your ducts or around the duct joints. We’re going to tell you what it actually is designed for and most importantly, what you need to do to keep those ducts from leaking, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And we’re also going to have all the details on another type of energy saving idea: Energy Star glass. And if you’re shopping for new doors or windows or if you’re even looking at a new home for yourselves or a brand-new home, individually, you’re going to want to make sure that this type of glass is used. It can save up to 40 percent on your energy bills and we’re going to tell you how to know if the glass in that house or your house or those new windows are Energy Star glass rated.

    TOM: Plus we’re going to have details on an easy way to change the ambiance of any room with a simple switch in lighting.

    LESLIE: And this hour we’re giving away a container gardening prize pack. It’s from our friends at Sta-Green. It’s the perfect autumn gift.

    TOM: So pick up the phone right now and give us a call. It’s worth 25 bucks going out to one caller that reaches us this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. And you must have a home improvement question because that’s what the show is all about.

    Leslie, let’s get to those calls. Who’s first?

    LESLIE: Genevieve in Connecticut needs some help with energy savings by using a programmable thermostat. How can we help you with this adventure?

    GENEVIEVE: I am concerned about winter coming. I spent a lot of money on oil last year and I was wondering if a programmable thermostat would help me.

    TOM: Absolutely. A programmable thermostat – a clock setback thermostat – can knock about 10 percent off of your heating bill.

    GENEVIEVE: Very good.

    TOM: So it’s a very good thing to do.

    GENEVIEVE: Excellent. I am trying to block all the holes in the windows and I have to get some insulation done down in the cellar.

    TOM: You know what you might want to do, Genevieve, contact your utility company and ask them about doing an energy audit for you. Many of the companies do them for free and this way, you know exactly where the leakiest, most energy-efficient places are in your house and you can …

    LESLIE: And then you’ll know how to fix them.

    TOM: Yeah, you can attack those one at a time.

    GENEVIEVE: Very good.

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

    LESLIE: Perry in Florida has some stinky, cold water. Tell us what’s going on with it.

    PERRY: I’ve got a house that’s less than a year old. Every time I turn on my cold water it just – I get a terrible odor that’s coming out of the sink for about five seconds and it seems to go away. It’s like a sulfury, just …

    TOM: Like a rotten egg smell?

    PERRY: Correct.

    TOM: Yeah. Are you on well water or city water?

    PERRY: City water.

    TOM: And does it happen only sort of like when the water’s been sitting overnight or pretty much any time?

    PERRY: It’s pretty much all the time.

    TOM: Because I think that that would tend to happen when the water is sitting in the pipes for a while and that if you’re using it day to day – you know, you’re washing dishes and you turn the water off, you turn it back on again, it’s not likely to continue. The solution in both cases though is to put in a charcoal filtration system.

    Now, you can put this either at the main water valve or you could put it at the tap and I’m not talking about the little tiny ones that sort of screw to the end of the tap; it’s a bigger system that fits sort of under the sink cabinet and holds about a gallon of charcoal and does a good job of cleaning all the water. The thing is, though, you have to remember to change the charcoal when the manufacturer recommends you do that; otherwise, it can become unsafe.

    PERRY: OK. Would there be any reason why it wouldn’t do it with the hot water? Is it because it’s going through the hot water heater it’s not causing the smell?

    TOM: Correct. Correct.

    PERRY: OK.

    TOM: Yep. When you’re heating it, it’s changing the dynamic of the water.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Fall is upon us and we can help you get ready to save energy dollars and tackle all of those autumnly maintenance projects around your house. So give us a call and ask us your question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Up next, how would you like to change the look and ambiance of your favorite room for five bucks and 15 minutes of your time? Can you do it? I bet you can. We’re going to tell you how to switch to a great new look, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional-feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi Power Tools. Pro features. Affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who gets on the air this hour and asks us their home improvement question could win a pretty great prize. We’re giving away a container gardening prize pack from our friends over at Sta-Green. And the winner is going to get everything that they need to have a year-round garden, indoors or out, including Moisture Max Potting Mix, Sta-Green All-Purpose Plant Food and a garden-safe insect killer.

    And just because it’s autumn doesn’t mean that your front porch can’t look adorable. There are a lot of beautiful autumnal flowers that you can plant in there so pick up the phone and give us a call for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Now let’s talk about a different place in your house to decorate: the inside. How would you like to know a quick trick to improve the look and the feel of your room? Have you looked at your …

    LESLIE: Hey, can I use it on my TV jobs?

    TOM: You can.

    LESLIE: I’ll take it.

    TOM: You’ll steal it from me?

    LESLIE: I’m totally going to steal your ideas. Don’t you know I do that primarily, Tom? (chuckles)

    TOM: Well, that’s what makes us a good team; we share – sort of community ideas. Well, this one has to do with lighting and it depends on the kind of mood you’d like to create. If you want to create more ambiance in your dining room or a way to turn down the lights in your media room, you should consider dimmers.

    Dimmers are a very simple, inexpensive way to add depth and mood to any room. There are many options – from toggles to slides – and it really is a do-it-yourself project. And if you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I can’t do this myself,’ one of the manufacturers, Lutron – who, if I recall correctly, they actually invented the dimmer many, many moons ago – they actually have a number on the outside of their package that I learned about recently, where they have a sort of a tech support.

    LESLIE: Will they talk you through?

    TOM: And they’ll talk you through …

    LESLIE: That’s fantastic.

    TOM: … replacing a switch to a dimmer. So it is a job you can do yourself and obviously, we don’t want you to tackle electrical projects …

    LESLIE: If you’re not comfortable.

    TOM: … unless you’re really comfortable. Right. But if you can turn the power off and if you think you can replace wire for wire and need a little help, you can call that tech support number. It really is a good project that can really change the look and the feel of your room without spending a whole lot of money. About five bucks for the dimmer, about 15 minutes of your time and you’ll be looking pretty.

    LESLIE: And they’re perfect in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in the dining area. They really do make for wonderful usage of a space in ways that you never, ever thought about before.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Heading over to New York to chat with Dan about a boiler. What can we do for you today?

    DAN: Hi. How are you?

    LESLIE: Good, and you?

    DAN: Well, not too good. I need a new boiler.

    LESLIE: Uh-oh.

    TOM: OK.

    DAN: And right now I have oil heat but I have a propane hot water heater.

    TOM: OK.

    DAN: I was thinking that since I’m going to change over anyhow, should I go totally to propane? And I was wondering what your opinion might be, you know, with the cost of oil; whether I should go completely to propane or is there some site I can go to, to compare prices with …

    TOM: Is natural gas not an option for you, Dan?

    DAN: No, it’s not in the area. No.

    TOM: You’re sure about that? Nothing’s changed?

    DAN: Yeah, I called the local gas company and …

    TOM: OK.

    DAN: … they said there are no lines in that area.

    TOM: Alright. Well, you know, I think that oil and propane are going to be comparably priced. The good news about the fact that you need a boiler is that they’ve never been more efficient and you’ll be able to purchase one now that’s super efficient and use a lot less oil, but I’m not sure that it would be a good idea to put all of your apples in the propane basket, if you have an option.

    DAN: OK. Alright. Well, I appreciate your opinion.

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

    LESLIE: Virginia in Michigan has got a leaky roof. Tell us about the problem.

    VIRGINIA: In 1994, I had a new roof put on.

    TOM: OK.

    VIRGINIA: And we had a really bad storm and my roof leaked but they can’t seem to find anything that was wrong with it.

    TOM: So it only leaked this one time and you’ve never had a problem with it before?


    TOM: It’s probably wind-driven rain that came in some angle and pushed up under some portion of the roof and into the house.


    TOM: But where did it show up in the house?

    VIRGINIA: In my bedroom.

    TOM: In your bedroom. Well, I’ve got to tell you, I would tend to maybe want to live with it a little bit; maybe through the next couple of rainstorms to see if it happens again. If it does, I can tell you the most common places that roofs leak would be around intersections; so where two roofs come together or where the roof intersects a wall or …

    LESLIE: Or where you have a protrusion like a chimney or a vent pipe.

    TOM: Exactly. Those are all the usual suspects, Virginia.

    VIRGINIA: Wow. OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Heading over to Minnesota to chat with Jim. What can we do for you today?

    JIM: I enjoy your show very much.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Thank you.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Thank you.

    JIM: Last winter, I fixed my basement up and under code I had to put an egress (ph) window in.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yep.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.

    JIM: Well, this spring, the egress (ph) window filled up with water.

    TOM: Ah.

    JIM: And it didn’t come through the window though but it went all the way down and came up through the (inaudible at 0:10:30.7).

    TOM: Yeah, I bet. Kind of looks like a fish tank, right? (Leslie chuckles)

    JIM: Yeah. (chuckles) And you know the shock when I came down – I put brand new carpet and everything else down in there.

    TOM: Well …

    JIM: Well, anyway, I got a crack and I went up and put a plastic dome on top of it.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: So that took care of that. Well, now my problem is when I go to open my window and crank it out, the dome holds it in.

    TOM: Right.

    JIM: Right. In case of emergency, I wouldn’t be able to get out of it.

    TOM: Yeah, good point. Listen, you can have that window not leak, usually if the drainage is set right around the outside, Jim. So did you take a look at your gutter systems? Did you take a look at your grading? Are you moving the water away from the wall? Because it’s not just the water that comes like straight down into the window well; it’s usually water that soaks in from the surrounding area.

    JIM: Well, where the window is, there’s no eaves there because it’s, you know, the straight up-and-down side of the house.

    TOM: Right.

    JIM: So I didn’t – there’s no eaves in, because there’s no way you can put it on.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) So there’s no gutters anywhere near there.

    JIM: No.

    TOM: OK. And the soil, does it slope away?

    JIM: Yes, it does.

    TOM: Alright. Well, the other thing that you could do, and it’s a big job, but if you want to remove that window well, you could put a drain in the bottom of it. You could use PVC pipes and you could cook up a drain and run it around the house, hopefully to a lower side where you can let the water out. Sometimes you have to drain those wells.

    JIM: OK. I was hoping there would be an easier way to fix. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: No, you see what happens, Jim, when you call us we make it worse. (Leslie and Tom chuckle)

    JIM: (chuckling) Yeah. Well, it sure has been my pleasure to have talked to you people, though.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Same here, Jim.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Thanks, Jim.

    JIM: (overlapping voices) I enjoy your show very much.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: It’s so funny – a neighbor of mine did the same project and he refuses to listen to me about moving the water away from that.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: He’s just a blue tarp over it. (Tom chuckles) I’m like, ‘You spent all this time and energy. You are sprucing up the basement and you do this final thing …

    TOM: And you end up with the blue tarp.

    LESLIE: … and now you’ve got this tent fixture on the other side.’

    TOM: Sooner or later. Sooner or later, they’ll come around.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You get around to it.

    Elaine in Alabama, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    ELAINE: I have a question. I had a leaky roof next to the – it was leaking next to the wall of the house, outside wall, and the ceiling is marred and discolored. I know what to do about that but my question is what can I do about the wallpaper where the water ran down the wall?

    TOM: Well, has the leak been fixed?

    ELAINE: Yes.

    TOM: OK. And the wallpaper is now water-damaged?

    ELAINE: It’s got that orangey, dirty-water look and streaks on it.

    TOM: Yeah. You know that’s – what’s happened is you’ve actually had a sort of a chemical reaction between the paper and the water that leaked through and, unfortunately, that’s not something that you can reverse. So this is a situation where you’d have to actually replace that wallpaper.


    TOM: Is that a possibility?

    ELAINE: I guess so, if I have to.

    TOM: Yeah. That …

    ELAINE: And it’s only a small amount above the sliding-glass door.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I mean, you could try to clean it with a little bit of TSP very, very gently but I’d also be concerned about that same cleaning solution taking the color out of the wallpaper.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: It might fade it out.

    ELAINE: OK. Alright, I’ll try that before I redo the wallpaper.

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

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Bill in Utah needs some help cleaning some shingles. What can we do for you? What’s on them?

    BILL: Well, here’s my deal: I’ve got a home that I took a swamp cooler off the roof, made the switch to central air and I put in an attic fan up there.

    TOM: OK.

    BILL: But over the years, when I had the swamp cooler, (audio gap) to water run off and I had some – I’ve got some – a wet streak running down my brown, asphalt shingles.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    BILL: And I’m just wondering, is there anything I can do to get rid of that stain on my roof?

    TOM: Two things: you could try a produced called JOMAX – J-o-m-a-x. It’s a cleaner that works very, very well on roofs. It’s available at hardware stores. It’s made by the folks at Zinsser and it’s a concentrate; you mix it up.

    BILL: OK.

    TOM: And is the stain more from the water or from rust?

    BILL: It’s water; hard water.

    TOM: Well, then I think the JOMAX will work perfectly fine for that.

    BILL: OK. Alright. Well, I (inaudible 0:14:30.6) you guys.

    TOM: Alright, Bill. Well, good luck with that project.

    BILL: Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Those swamp coolers are so popular in Utah. They’re actually perfect for that climate but when we filmed there with While You Were Out, every house we were in had a swamp cooler.

    TOM: Yeah, but I forgot to mention to Bill that putting in the attic fan – not such a good idea.

    LESLIE: With the central air?

    TOM: Yeah. Bad idea.

    LESLIE: Not a good combination.

    TOM: Yeah, they actually – Bill, if you’re still listening, they actually suck the air-conditioned air out of your house; not just your attic so –

    LESLIE: And out of your ventilation.

    TOM: A better solution might be to put in a ridge vent and soffit vents but attic fans – not so much if you have central air.

    LESLIE: Now it’s time to help David in New Jersey get up on the roof. What can we do for you?

    DAVID: Well, thank you. You have a great program and I wonder if you could help me. I have a 20-year-old house with a hand-split cedar shake roof that I wanted to clean because it has some algae and dirt.


    DAVID: I have fixed, mixed opinions: some say clean it, power wash it and then stain it; others say do nothing because walking on it, power washing it may do more harm than good.

    TOM: So, David, are you concerned about the color, you know, the moss or whatever that’s on there right now? You don’t like the look of it?

    DAVID: The color’s fine. It got dark; that doesn’t bother me. I’m just worried that perhaps the algae – a little bit of film of algae build-up might do harm. But everything’s fine. The roof is solid and doing well. But the painter wanted to also paint the siding or spray it – I wasn’t sure about that – but I find nothing that I need to do to the roof except worry that the algae might do harm over time. And I called up the Cedar Association and they say you could do more harm than good and so I got mixed feelings about …

    TOM: Well, I agree and I don’t think it’s necessary for you certainly to put any kind of stain on there. I think that it’s actually …

    LESLIE: You almost never put anything on cedar shake when it’s on the roof.

    TOM: Exactly. Now, a lot of times folks don’t like the look of the algae and if that’s the case, you can clean it but when you clean it, I like to see you clean it by hand and not by hitting it with a real aggressive power washer unless you kind of back off on the pressure.

    Cedar is designed to last a long time and the reason it wears out is when it gets too wet and the surface actually starts to degrade. So if you get up there and you’re really aggressive with it, then you can cause some damage. But if you’re worried about the algae causing something, I wouldn’t; as long as it’s not unpleasant to look at, you’re OK. I will give you one trick of the trade, though, that will stop it from growing some of that algae, some of that moss, and that is you can add a piece of copper flashing along the ridge, along the peak.

    DAVID: Yeah.

    TOM: And what happens is when it rains …

    LESLIE: Or even nickel.

    TOM: Or nickel. The water will hit that flashing and it will release some of the metal into the water. That acts as a natural algaecide and keeps the roof clean.

    DAVID: Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Up next, let’s talk about duct work. You know, tightly sealed duct work is important to your indoor air quality and your energy efficiency, but too many of us often use duct tape to seal up those ducts. It’s a bad idea. We’re going to tell you why not to use duct tape and what you should use, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem Water Heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters, you can trust Rheem. Learn more at SmarterHotWater.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And going on right now, the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes. We’ve taken our advice and put it into a fun and pretty informative book called My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure and to celebrate, we’re giving away cash. Lots of it – 5,000 bucks and lots of fun home improvement products with our very first ever home improvement game, online right now at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. If that sounds exciting to you, and it should because we’ve got great prizes, all you need to do to enter is go over to MoneyPit.com and then go on a tour of our interactive money pit, which is a home that’s just like yours that you love, that could use a little TLC. And you go room by room and then you answer some easy home improvement questions that are all about that room. And if you get them right, you will be qualified to enter the sweepstakes and you could have a chance to win our $5,000 cash grand prize.

    TOM: You can get a lot of home improvement projects done with that money and there’s dozens of other prizes, including the EasyWater water softening systems worth almost 1,300 bucks each. We’re also giving away two Lifetime sheds; a good place to stuff away all of the lawn furniture and things that you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to do with right now for the winter. Also, a Lifetime trailer to help you haul around those home improvement projects, worth more than 1,500 bucks and 100 packages of monkey hooks …

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: … all going out to the winners of the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes.

    LESLIE: Now, if you want to be one of our big winners, you have to be in the contest to actually win. So go to MoneyPit.com today, check out the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes now. You will learn something and if you’re reading the book page-by-page right now, you will absolutely know all of those answers.

    TOM: And if you don’t know the answer, call us. (Leslie chuckles) We’ll tell you.

    LESLIE: We’ll give you the answer.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Doug in Washington needs help installing a second bathroom, or maybe a third. Hey Doug, what’s going on?

    DOUG: Hi. I’m actually installing a bathroom in the garage that I’ve converted for my home office.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Oh, perfect.

    DOUG: And, yeah, it’s a concrete slab and putting in a shower, a toilet and a tub. And I actually, from the way that it’s going to lay out …

    TOM: You plan to stay there a long time, don’t you, Doug? (Doug chuckles) In that office.

    DOUG: Not sure but I do want there to be a bathroom over here, so …

    TOM: OK.

    DOUG: So the question is – I’ve never cut through a concrete floor and I think the slab is probably 25-years-old or more. What should I do to tackle that or is that a job that I should hire out instead?

    TOM: Well, it’s a big – it’s a big job, especially if it’s the first time you’ve ever done it. This whole thing is a pretty complicated plumbing job. The first question is where is the waste pipe and are you above it?

    DOUG: Yes. I’ve already located the sewer line and it’s not difficult to tap into that. The big chore I’m going to have is getting through the concrete.

    TOM: Well, what you would do in that situation, Doug, is you may go to a rental center and you could rent the saw that is used to cut concrete and, essentially, it’s a saw that has an abrasive blade on it. You sort of curve the concrete around the hole and then you might use a jackhammer to break it out.

    LESLIE: So you sort of score the perimeter?

    TOM: Sort of score it pretty deep all the way around and that’s the way you get a really clean, square cut.

    LESLIE: You know, similar to notching like a four-by-four post or a six-by-six where you sort of create the perimeter and then sort of notch in the middle. Would you do that the same way with the concrete?

    TOM: I would just cut the four corners of the place I want to take it out, so I have a nice square, and then I would jackhammer out the middle. And this is the way to do it without disturbing the rest of the floor and then of course after it’s all done, you’re going to have to, you know, pour a patch in there.

    DOUG: OK. Very good.

    TOM: Alright. Listen, if you feel like it’s too much for you, you wouldn’t be admitting defeat if you hired a plumber just to rough this in for you.

    DOUG: OK.

    TOM: And then you could concentrate on all the stuff that’s above the floor but have the plumber just rough-in the drain. They could probably get it done in a quarter of the time.

    DOUG: Very good. OK. Well, thank you very much for taking my call.

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

    Well, it’s leaky-wallet season, Leslie. It’s about that time of year when we start to spend a lot of money …

    LESLIE: Yeah, heating.

    TOM: … on energy: on the heating bills, on the gas bills, the oil bills, the electric bills. And a lot of that money leaks out through leaky duct work. If you have tight duct work in your house, it actually keeps contaminants from entering your home and it stops the energy from leaking out from all of that hot air you’re generating. But despite its name, duct tape is actually the wrong material to use. You know, the glue that’s on duct tape, the typical duct tape that we use for all sorts of things around our house, it shouldn’t be used in ducts because that glue actually dries out.

    The right tape to use is a product called UL 181 tape; that’s a special UL certification for this tape. It kind of looks a little bit like duct tape but it’s more of a sort of a silver foil and you peel off the back of it and you apply it to the ducts. You sort of rub it down so it sticks really, really well and that adhesive will not dry out when the ducts get warm. And that actually can stop all of that energy from leaking out because when you fill up those ducts with the warm air from the furnace, it gets pressurized and if the joints are leaking, all of that heat leaks out where it shouldn’t and that means it’s going to cost you more money to heat your house. So that’s the way to keep those ducts in a row in more ways than one. (Leslie and Tom chuckle)

    LESLIE: And you know what’s really great about the actual tape that you’re supposed to use for duct work is that as you adhere it, because it’s so pliable in its way that it’s almost exactly like foil, you can really get an excellent seal around all of those joined areas. So you’ll really do a wonderful job creating a super, energy-efficient seal.

    And as long as we’re on the topic of energy efficiency, which is always on everybody’s mind come this autumn/fall/winter season approaching upon us, we want to talk about if you’re getting ready to shop for new windows, doors or skylights this season. You know, this is the goldilocks season; everybody thinks about doing home improvement projects and then dives in head-first. There’s one label that you need to be checking out when you’re looking for big, energy-saving ideas. We’re going to tell you what that is and what to keep your eyes peeled for when you hit the stores.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by Guardian Home Standby Generators, America’s choice in power outage protection. Learn more at GuardianGenerators.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the container gardening prize pack from Sta-Green. The winner gets pretty much everything you need to have a year-round garden indoors, including Moisture Max Potting Mix which I really like because it actually has these moisture-absorbing crystals inside of it, so you can’t really over-water or under-water your plants; it kind of stays steady the whole time. It’s also got, in this package, some all-purpose plant food and the garden-safe insect killer; basically, everything you need to maintain your container garden year-round. To win it, you’ve got to pick up the phone and call us right now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, now it’s autumn. You might be working on your indoor container gardens, you know, which I have; I have got a couple of potted plants around the house and I actually do use that Moisture Max Potting Mix because I tend to forget to water the plants. I know it’s terrible; I try very hard to do my best to maintain them and it really does help draw out the life, especially the ones that I keep by the windows.

    Now, our home is older so some of the windows haven’t been updated and I find that the older windows, you know, the sun just beats in and it really dries out that plant. Now, if you’re thinking about energy efficiency and keeping the sunlight from coming in through older windows and you happen to be in the market for new windows, new doors, new skylights and energy-efficiency is a big concern – and it should be for you, because you are about to enter the winter season where your wallet is going to be hit hard due to energy costs.

    So if you’re looking for new efficiencies, new windows, new doors, et cetera, anything with glass, you want to make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the Energy Star label, which means that you can see up to a 40 percent increase in energy efficiency when compared to standard glass in any of these applications. And Energy Star glass also has a special coating on it called low-e which prevents heat loss in the winter, which really gives you greater energy savings. It sort of pushes that heat away in the summertime and helps it keep it indoors in the winter, so it really does the right thing for the right time of year.

    TOM: Call us right now with your energy-saving question. You want some help preventing leaky-wallet disease, which is what happens when you start paying for all that expensive oil, gas and electric that heats your house? We can help you out. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Going to talk to Gino in New Jersey about keeping the water out of the house and keeping the inside nice and dry. What’s going on at your money pit?

    GINO: Well, we’ve got a couple of holes in the walls of our family room and when it rains hard, we get drainage in there.

    TOM: How did these holes get there, Gino?

    GINO: Don’t know. (Leslie chuckles) I think animals munched their way through.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    GINO: And what I did, I put some foam there; some of that expanding foam.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.

    GINO: And that seemed to work OK except I see water seeping in again and I see little chips – little yellow chips. So either the chipmunk, or whatever it is, is munching away on it but I’m wondering, what’s the best way to put a fix on these two …?

    TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, what kind of siding do you have?

    GINO: Well, Jesus, the siding is concrete, you know?

    TOM: So the holes are in the concrete?

    GINO: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. Then the foam that you put in there is fine but you’ll find is that that foam does not hold up to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, so it breaks down. So what you really need here is to use an epoxy patching compound; it’s a cement patching material that has epoxy in it that adheres very, very well. If they’re deep holes, it’s OK to use the expandable foam to kind of take up some of the space in that hole but …

    LESLIE: And then coat over it.

    TOM: Right. But the top coat should be an epoxy compound – an epoxy patching compound.

    GINO: Very good. Appreciate your comments here.

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

    LESLIE: Beth in Georgia is up next and she’s got a floor issue. What’s happening?

    BETH: Well, my husband and I just moved into a new house and we have linoleum floors in the kitchen and we noticed a tear at a pretty high-traffic area and we’d like to figure out how to repair it that it’ll hold until we can decide what kind of new floors we want to get.

    TOM: Yeah, you know, fixing tears in linoleum is tough. There are glues that are available at flooring stores for this but usually what happens is a little piece of linoleum sticks up higher than the piece next to it and then you catch it with your feet or with furniture and things like that. And if you cut it out, even if you have a perfect repair – and I’ve seen professional linoleum repairs where they’re absolutely letter-perfect but still, you end up having that seam that collects dirt in the seam. So I guess the question here is, Beth, is how long are you fixing to get by with this linoleum being torn?

    BETH: I’d say at least six months. I don’t see us changing the floors in a new house in the first six months.

    TOM: Is a throw rug an option?

    BETH: Could be, yeah. I mean, we could put a throw rug. We do have a dog who’s pretty active and likes to slide around the floor; that’s kind of an issue.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: So he could easily cut his paw.

    BETH: So is there some – are there some glues that could hold it down so that if we wanted to put a throw rug over it or something, that could hold that piece down?

    TOM: Yeah, Beth, it’s called repair adhesive and it’s available at most hardware stores. The secret to making this work, though, is to first of all clean the surface as best you can, work the adhesive under the entire space and then weight it for about 24 hours as it’s drying so it really holds that seam as flat as absolutely possible. And then once it’s dry, if you want to add a throw rug over it just to keep the direct traffic off of it, with all of those things that you’re doing, you should be able to buy yourself that six months you need to get to putting that new floor down. OK?

    LESLIE: And then get one of those anti-skid mats so that your dog doesn’t come flying in and skid across that rug.

    BETH: Exactly. Well, thank you guys so much. I appreciate it. I love the show.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit. When we come back, we’re going to jump into our e-mail bag where we’ve got Brenda who’s wondering how she can turn lemons into lemonade with this very tough real estate market and a house she really wants to sell quick. When we come back, we’ll talk about the updates you can make to help move your home in this market.

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

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And coming up this week on my column on AOL.com, we’re going to talk about survival strategies for big changes. If you’re planning some big home improvements – maybe you’re not selling your house, you’re staying put and you’re going to add a kitchen, you’re going to redo your bathroom, you’re going to redo your basement, trying to make some of those big improvements – you know, there are ways to go about this that will assure you success. That’s what we’re going to talk about at MoneyPit.AOL.com. You can check out the column right there, right now.

    LESLIE: And you can always snoop around on the internet and head on over to MoneyPit.com and search everything that Tom and I have ever written, search by topic. You can even listen to past episodes of The Money Pit, find that exact topic you’re just yearning to learn about and listen to that and learn a new thing and get started on your home improvement projects. And if you’re at a loss of where to begin or just need some advice, click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon. You can e-mail us your question like folks do all the time; I get tons and tons of letters via e-mail.

    And we’re jumping into that e-mail pile right now and we’ve got one here from Brenda in Pickering, Ontario – ooh, one of our friends from the north. And she writes: ‘Help. We’ve found our dream home and need to sell our house quickly. Our current home has some downsides which I thought we priced accordingly. Regardless of the price, people want an updated kitchen, bathroom, et cetera. What are the cheapest fixes for updating kitchens and bathrooms, cabinets and flooring. Help. We need to sell.’

    TOM: So everyone that apparently is looking at Brenda’s house wants everything new. Well, I don’t know if that’s actually true; I mean, you’re not going to be able to get new everything. I wonder who’s giving her this advice; I bet you it’s the real estate agent trying to convince her to put a lot of money into the house. I …

    LESLIE: Which makes no sense if you’re trying to sell it.

    TOM: No, no. I mean, there are things that you can do and there’s things that you shouldn’t do. Now, when it comes to kitchens and bath – yes, you get great returns on investment. That doesn’t mean 100 percent though, Brenda. It means somewhere in the 70-to-80 percent range for ROI.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s not something that you want to rush into either. You don’t want to make a rash decision and just buy what’s affordable and any good work is going to take a long amount of time to accomplish.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. So maybe instead of replacing the kitchen cabinets, you paint the kitchen cabinets. And maybe you replace the countertop because they often get pretty beat up. Maybe you look at painting, maybe you look at new flooring that can be inexpensive. Maybe you should think about some lighting; that works for the kitchens and the bathrooms. Change the faucets out to WaterSense-rated faucets. Maybe make a green inventory of your house that lists all the energy-efficient features of your house.

    These are things that you can do that are easy, that are actionable, that are not going to cost you a lot of money and will make your house show better. I don’t think you have to get too crazy about doing everything new, new, new because you’re not going to get a return on investment. Even in the best markets you don’t get a (audio gap) ROI.

    LESLIE: No, and Brenda, I think what you should think about doing is sort of neutralizing the entire home; put a fresh coat of paint in a nice, neutral color like a beige or a white or an off-white and really get rid of the clutter. Move of some of your personal items out, if you can, into storage, a friend’s house, the garage; just to sort of enable this potential buyer to really see what their belongings could look like in your home, because people get stuck a lot of times when they see your things and your items set up in a certain way. They can’t envision their own stuff in the house and that sort of blocks them right there.

    So if you can just freshen up, clean up, tidy up and if you can’t paint the cabinets – maybe they’re solid wood – just give them a good cleaning; you would be surprised how much a little elbow grease really changes the look of a space.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and if you could use 5,000 bucks to help out with your home improvement projects around the house, head on over to MoneyPit.com and play the My Home, My Money Pit Home Improvement Adventure Game and Sweepstakes going on right now. You can win hundreds of additional prizes and the grand prize is 5,000 bucks with which I think you could probably get a lot of stuff done.

    LESLIE: Lot of home improvement projects.

    TOM: Or maybe just take a vacation. That’s all we have this hour. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com right now. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

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    (Copyright 2008 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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