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NASCAR Legend Jeff Gordon Talks About His Home Improvements, Keeping Termites Away, Choosing the Right Vacuum and more

  • Transcript

    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: Here to help you with your home improvement project, so give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    And I’m really psyched because gentlemen, start your engines. We’ve got a very special guest stopping by The Money Pit this hour. We’re talking to NASCAR great Jeff Gordon about his home improvement projects and the biggest challenges he faces when taking on projects on his very own money pit. And you’ll be happy to hear he and his wife have the same issues that we all do: trying to decide what’s best for the project, sticking to budget and the like. Jeff will be by in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And also ahead, April showers are certainly on their way, which means termites are, too. Wah-wah. So we’ve got natural solutions for keeping them and their costly damage away from your home.

    TOM: And one of the most dreaded chores of spring cleaning is, of course, vacuuming, when you get to suck up all that dirt and dust that’s sort of piled up over the winter season. One way to make that easier is by buying a better, more efficient vacuum. We’ll tell you how to select that, coming up.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a 25-Foot Magnetic Tape Measure from Milwaukee and it’s worth $25. It’s a great addition to your tool box.

    TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, this problem is something we probably have all dealt with: your water is taking way too long to heat up. Monty in Alabama, tell us about it.

    MONTY: We’ve got a – our water heater – we moved into a house a few months ago and it’s taking about 90 to 120 seconds for the – in the kitchen – for the hot water to heat up. And it was just this tremendous waste of water.

    And it’s an electric water heater and it’s located on the other side of the house, upstairs, so it’s having to travel so far, I’m sure. Is there any reasonable solution to that?

    TOM: Yeah, well, you hit the nail on the head. The reason it takes that long for the water to get hot is because that’s how long it takes for the water to travel that long run down the pipe and to get over to the kitchen from the other side of the house.

    What I might suggest that you consider is adding a second water heater. Now, you could pick up a tankless water heater and they do actually have some reasonably energy-efficient, electric tankless water heaters right now. I never used to say that but I recently saw some new ones. The technology is getting a little bit better. They actually have heat-pump water heaters that are pretty efficient. But if you were to split the run to get the water heater a little closer to the kitchen, that would make a difference.

    Now, is the kitchen the only place you’re having this? Is it – is the hot water reasonably quick, in terms of where the bathrooms are located?

    MONTY: Yes.

    TOM: Yes, since the bathrooms are more important than the kitchen, in terms of the speed with which the hot water arrives, especially if it’s you standing on a cold floor waiting for the water to get warm before you hop in the shower, I would probably tolerate it, if it was me. I would tolerate it and deal with it.

    Now, the other thing that you could do is you could put a point-of-use water heater, right under the kitchen cabinet, to supply additional hot water. But again, it’s kind of an expensive project and I don’t know if you would ever make that up in terms of the savings on water cost and that sort of thing.

    MONTY: Mm-hmm. Yeah. If it’s not something that we can make up, it’s not really worth doing because …

    TOM: I don’t think it’s worth doing then, Monty, because it’s not really inconvenient because it’s not near the bathroom. It’s just you have to be patient a little bit waiting for that warm water to arrive. And I imagine after it arrives, it stays warm in the pipes a little bit longer.

    One thing you could think about doing is insulating that hot-water pipe so that once the warm water gets in it, it stays warm a bit longer. And that would …

    MONTY: Mm-hmm. Yeah, that’s a good thought and that would be inexpensive.

    TOM: Inexpensive, right. And make it a little bit more convenient. OK?

    MONTY: OK, Tom. Thank you so much. Enjoy your show.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bonnie in California. Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    BONNIE: We have a condo that we’ve – been rented for 12 years. And when our renters moved out, we were going to sell it. And we saw stains on the carpet and we thought, “Well, we’ll pull up the carpet, replace it and just paint and clean up and put it up for sale.”

    TOM: Right.

    BONNIE: Well, when we pulled the carpet back, the cement slab – it’s a cement slab, single-level condo, 1,600 – almost 1,700 – square feet with a cement-slab floor. And when we pulled back the carpet, we found that it was very damp and there was that white, fuzzy kind of effervescence or whatever they call it that comes up from the cement.

    TOM: Efflorescence. Mm-hmm.

    BONNIE: Lots of that. We tore up all the flooring and thought, “Well, we’ll go ahead and hire a contractor and have it all fixed and put new stuff down.” And it didn’t dry out; it just was damp.

    But in any case, this problem is not getting solved. We have – we don’t know where to go from here. We want to figure out if there’s some way to seal that floor that is going to keep it from, you know, ruining the carpet and wood again and get it for sale. But fix it so that it’s – so that we can say it’s fixed.

    TOM: Alright. Well, here’s what I think is going on, based on your description. If you’ve got that much of a water source that close to the concrete slab – concrete is very hydroscopic. It will really absorb water like crazy. And so if the ground outside is saturated, that is clearly drawing through the concrete into the interior and that’s why the floor has been so wet. My concern is that this could develop, if it hasn’t already, into a mold problem.

    The bad news for the condominium association is that if they’re responsible for the structure of this building, which would include the floor, this is their problem to fix, not your problem to fix. And if I was advising them, I would tell them to stop calling contractors to check leaking ponds and start calling professional engineers that can analyze the building and figure out exactly what’s going on and prescribe the proper fix. They’ve got to think big here, not think small. Because I think they have a lot of liability because it’s probably not you; you just happen to be the one that found it. But if your neighbors start pulling up carpet, they’re going to probably find the same thing.

    All that you can do on the inside is really stop-gap. You can clean up the efflorescence, you can put a masonry sealer on the floor. But the problem is that that concrete is going to continue to get wet, continue to get damp and eventually it’s going to pull back into the unit. So, I think that you need to have a very serious sit-down with that condominium association.

    BONNIE: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: Alright? Good luck, Bonnie.

    BONNIE: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Thank you for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    TOM: Still ahead, the snow is melting, which is great, but all of that extra moisture means termites will be on the rise. Want to keep them away from your home? We’ll tell you, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who asks their question on the air this hour is going to win the Milwaukee 25-Foot Magnetic Tape Measure.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s going to hold up as much as 10 times longer against job-site dirt and debris, with its nylon-blade protection. Now, it’s got a reinforced frame, which provides drop protection. And dual magnets can hold onto steel studs for easy measurement. I mean think about, guys: how many times do you drop your tape measure while you’re doing work? Even the best of us get all thumbs, sometimes, during a project. And tape measures are the first thing to fall on the floor.

    TOM: It’s available at The Home Depot. Visit HomeDepot.com to learn more but give us a call, right now, and it might just go out to you.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mike in Illinois on the line with a fireplace question. How can we help you today?

    MIKE: OK. We’re getting ready to move into a home that has two fireplaces: one on the first floor and one in the basement. The first floor is a stove insert and there’s two separate chimneys that terminate next to each other. And the previous owner is telling us that when they’re burning a fire in the stove, sometimes you get smoke out of the basement fireplace, even with the damper closed. Sometimes a little smoke, sometimes a lot of smoke. So just wondering what’s going on there and how to solve that.

    TOM: Well, the reason it happens is because the chimney is cold. Generally, when a chimney is cold, you get condensation of the smoke inside the chimney. And that makes it heavy and it could push it down. So if a chimney does not have good draft, then you’re not going to evacuate the smoke from the chimney through the outside.

    So the question is: how do you make that chimney improve the draft? And there’s a number of ways that that’s done. Sometimes the chimney is raised, so we make it taller. Sometimes, on the fireplace itself, you build in what’s called a “smoke shield,” which is usually a piece of metal that’s across the front of the fireplace, that’s maybe 6 or 8 inches deep so that it improves the draft right at the front of the fireplace. And that can speed it up. But it’s the kind of project that you really need to have a chimney expert look at.

    And I would not go to a mason for this; I would go to a shop that sells wood stoves and fireplaces because they’re going to have the expertise that you need here. But the reason it’s happening is because the chimney is not drafting properly.

    And you can minimize it, by the way, by always building a very small fire and then building it up from there. You don’t want to kind of go with a big fire right off because the chimney doesn’t have a chance to warm up. And you’ll get more smoke that way. But when you do build a fire, if you start small and then let the chimney warm up and then before you go a little bigger, that can minimize it. But I really think you need to have an expert look at it because that can be quite a nasty problem, especially if somebody else builds the fire besides you and fills the house with smoke.

    MIKE: OK. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: Well, in the 20-plus years I spent as a professional home inspector, I used to tell folks that there are three kinds of houses: those that have had a termite problem, those that have a termite problem and those that will have a termite problem. At least in the Northeast, where we come from, that was the situation.

    The truth is that there doesn’t have to be termites if you take steps to keep them away.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And this is the time of year that you should be doing it. Termites are going to nest in soil all winter but come springtime, they bust out, they’re hungry, they’re searching for food. And your home’s walls are pretty much their most favorite meal.

    TOM: So, if you want to keep the termites from chowing down on your house, there are a few things that you can do.

    First of all, you want to minimize moisture. Moisture is very conducive to termites and if you have a lot of moisture around your house, you’re going to have a problem.

    Secondly, you can make sure you take the termite food away from the exterior walls. So what’s termite food? How about a stack of firewood. I can’t tell you how many times I found stacks of firewood around homes, right up against the foundation, in the years I spent as a home inspector. And then if you look carefully, you’ll see the entire stack is infested with termites.

    They’re going to not know the difference between that stack of dead wood and the dead wood that makes up the frame of your house and they’ll just keep on chewing. So don’t give them a head start by keeping firewood or anything else of that nature up against the house foundation.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Another thing you can do is keep your gutters clear. Termites, they love gutters. And keep them pointed away from your home so that the runoff washes the bugs further away from the foundation. You don’t want to drop them right off against the foundation. Also, you don’t want water there in the first place; you’re just asking for a moisture problem.

    TOM: Yeah. And if your porch or your crawlspace is dirt-filled, you want to keep an eye out for signs of these insects. So if you see discarded wings, cracked or bubbling paint or mud tunnels on your home’s outside walls or inside walls, it’s best to call a pro to get that problem resolved.

    888-666-3974. Hey, we’re pros and we’re here to help you with a wide variety of home improvement projects. So soup to nuts, floorboards to shingles, whatever you’re working on, give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Donna in Tennessee has got a funky guest house. Let’s just call it that.

    What’s going on, Donna?

    DONNA: We have been in this property – on this property – for two-and-a-half years. And when we purchased the property, the guest house had tenants. And they moved out a little over a year-and-a-half ago. However, there’s a very funky odor in the house that, instead of fading over time, is becoming more and more prevalent. The odor is best described, perhaps, as a stale cologne, so it’s not very pleasant.

    LESLIE: Stale cologne. That’s interesting because, generally, when you get a funky odor in a space that’s not used that often, it usually has something to do with a sink not getting water down it and the trap drying out and sewer gases coming back up. So you could get a funky sewer smell but cologne? Are you sure the house isn’t haunted?

    DONNA: We did pull up any carpeting that was in the house. And there wasn’t that much; it was just in the bedroom and the bathroom. The rest of the floors are wood and tile.

    TOM: Have you done any painting yet?

    DONNA: No. It had been – it was fairly recently painted, you know, prior to our purchasing the house and so I didn’t. However, after the tenants moved out, I really thoroughly cleaned the house. Actually, we moved all the appliances, everything like that. But I haven’t repainted.

    TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you that sometimes when a house is empty, it tends to get a little dank sometimes. Are you running the heating system the way you would if somebody was living there?

    DONNA: No.

    TOM: Yeah. So you get more moisture and sometimes there can be odors associated with that. So unless it’s really pervasive, I don’t think I would worry too much about it. You’re doing the right things. You pulled up the carpet. If you haven’t painted and you’re going to paint, I would suggest one additional step and that is to make sure you prime the walls. Because if there’s anything in the walls, that will block it.

    DONNA: Mm-hmm. What type of primer?

    TOM: Well, you could use an alkyd primer, which is a water-based primer, or you could use an oil-based primer: something like KILZ or B-I-N or one of the Behr products. But the primer is kind of the glue that makes the paint stick and will also seal in any stains that have absorbed into the walls themselves.

    DONNA: OK. So if it is the paint, then the primer could actually …

    TOM: Right, exactly. In fact, sometimes we tell people that when they have carpets that are very odorous, to also prime the plywood floor before they put new carpet back down again.

    DONNA: Hmm. OK.

    TOM: Because if anything kind of soaked through the carpet and got into the floor, that’s a way to kind of seal it off.

    DONNA: OK. Very good.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Scott in Iowa on the line who needs help with a painting project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    SCOTT: I just recently bought a rental house and the plaster – it’s an older home and the plaster just was falling off the house. Well, the guy I bought it from had repaired it but if you look at it, it’s falling out in some areas and bowing back in in some areas. And I was just wondering, would I have to re-drywall it or is there a cheaper and easier way to fix that?

    TOM: How much of this exists? Is there a lot of this that’s where it’s – the plaster seems to be loose?

    SCOTT: Throughout the whole house.

    TOM: Yeah, OK. So it’s a problem because it’s going to be dangerous.

    What happens is the plaster, when it’s applied, it’s applied over something called wood lath, which are like thin strips of wood. Kind of looks like those sticks we use to hold up garden plants and tomatoes and things like that. And the plaster expands to behind the lath and it sort of locks in place.

    But over the years, with an old house, those keyways, we call them, loosen up and then the plaster is not attached to the wall anymore. So you are looking at a situation where the walls are going to get worse. It’s not going to get better. And if it’s the ceiling that’s loose, it could be dangerous. Because when that plaster falls, it’s really, really heavy. I’ve seen it dent floors and certainly could hurt somebody.

    So now we have – the question is: what’s the best way to deal with this? “Should I tear the plaster out? Should I drywall over?” I’ve done it both ways and I’ve come to the conclusion, after trying it this way for many years, that the best thing to do is to put drywall on top of the plaster, not tear it out, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s less messy. Secondly, that even when you tear out the lath and the plaster, you’ll find that the studs from the old house behind it are not very even. So when you put drywall up, it tends to warp sometimes.

    So what I would do is I would attach new drywall over the plaster. You can use 3/8-inch thick drywall, too; you don’t even need to use ½-inch drywall. And then by attaching from the drywall, through the plaster into the studs, you’ll help secure that loose plaster so you won’t have any further movement in that room. That would be my recommendation.

    SCOTT: That works out.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Still to come, guys, race fans and home improvers often run in the same circles. Maybe it’s because winning a race and finishing a project kind of give you that same thrill. Well, that’s what our guest this hour says anyway. We’re going to be talking to NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon about his home improvement projects, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve ever been to a NASCAR event, you know the crowd is very down-to-earth and DIY-friendly. So it’s no surprise that NASCAR and home improvement enthusiasts run in the same circles.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s certainly not a surprise to our next guest, who is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of home improvement himself. Tom was super-fortunate to run into NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon recently and got an update on his home improvement life.

    TOM: So, Jeff, I understand that you are a home improver? You’re actually working on a place right now? What are you building?

    JEFF: Yeah, I wish I could say I’m a hands-on home improvement type of guy but no. My wife and I, we love different projects and we’ve – we built a house in Charlotte, North Carolina where our primary residence is. But we also sold an apartment in New York and bought a new one. And so, we looked at the design of how – we purchased it and wanted to add some things to it and sort of make it our own. And so, yeah, we’ve been doing that for the last, maybe, six months.

    TOM: So what do you find most challenging about taking on those projects?

    JEFF: The budget. My wife has impeccable taste, which I love that about her. But trying to blend that impeccable taste into the budget is always a challenge. And then once you set that budget, just trying to maintain it.

    TOM: So home improvement has been responsible for a lot of stress in marriages. Do you guys have trouble deciding what’s going to happen with the design?

    JEFF: Oh, yeah. But we make a good team, you know? Because she is great at compromising in the areas worth compromising but she pushes back on the areas that she feels are important. And I feel the same way. So, yeah, I think building a house together, you learn a lot about one another as a couple. And now, this is, what, our third project that we’ve done together and we’re still going strong. So, I think it shows what kind of relationship we have.

    TOM: Now, as you’re building this house, a lot of new technology now that we never had before. Have you tried any new technologies? What’s exciting about the projects as you try to flush them out? What’s something new and cool that you had to have in your house?

    JEFF: Yeah, I think, yeah, certainly the audio/video portion of it. And I’m kind of – I go both ways on this, because I love the technology and it’s so cool to have a touchscreen where you can adjust the temperature of a room or put music on or your alarm system all integrated into one system. But at the same time, when it doesn’t work, it’s very, very frustrating.

    So, yeah, obviously, technology has come a long way when it comes to that and very few issues. But yeah, no, I love incorporating cool, new things: the whole Bluetooth and Sonos and some of those things where it’s just easy to connect right to your own music library, through your phone or your iPad, or just being able to go to Pandora or something like that.

    I mean of course, you want all the regular comforts that make life a little easier. But I like music. I love walking into a house and hearing music throughout the whole house.

    TOM: Now, you mention budget. One way to fight that is to make sure that your home is as green as possible, you’re saving as much energy. Have you focused on the green aspects of your projects?

    JEFF: Yeah. I think, certainly, from an insulation standpoint and making sure that the doors, windows are not just quality but sealed properly and just trying to keep the heat in in there and cold air from getting in or vice versa in the summer. And so, I feel like that’s always something that I’m willing to budge on in the budget a little bit, because I know the long-term effects – I want – I really wanted, with our house in Charlotte, wanted to do more with solar panels and kind of work towards getting off the grid. But we’re not quite there yet.

    TOM: We’re talking to NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon.

    Now, Jeff, you’re a dad. You’ve got two young kids. Child safety is really important to you.

    JEFF: Oh, my gosh, yeah. Our lives revolve around our kids. So, whether it be a playroom and a playset, they can create and have amazing ideas and have fun but educational at the same time, as well – inside as well as outside. When the weather is nice, we want them outside enjoying that beautiful air outside.

    TOM: Now, you’re here announcing a new project with the ADA Foundation. Tell us about Give Kids a Smile.

    JEFF: Yeah. 3M is a new partner of ours this year and they’re incredible in the innovation and technology side of things. And I do a lot with my own foundation, pediatric cancer, but it’s really about children’s health. And I’m really excited to be able to get behind this program where we can talk about children’s dental health and how important that is.

    And certainly, when I think about my kids on a day-to-day basis and their – our routines that we’ve really put into place for them, the dental-health side of it is so, so important. And I think a lot of it is because I neglected that as a kid and want to make sure that my kids understand how important that is and how it affects your overall health.

    And of course, thanks to 3M, there’s great technology, these days, through cool toothbrushes that get kids more involved and – as well as just the dental industry and how they’ve evolved with making that experience of going to the dentist so much more fun and easy and painless.

    TOM: Fantastic. Now, the home improvement fan and the NASCAR fan have always been very closely aligned. What do you think pulls these two groups together?

    JEFF: Yeah. I think people that are NASCAR fans, they like to build, they like to create their own projects. I mean I see how innovative they get when they come out to the racetracks and they build a structure that is going to be their sort of weekend fun home to watch a NASCAR race. And I think that’s just one side of it and that they take back home in their everyday life.

    I think all of us have that in us. We all – we look at an aspect of our home and we say, “Gosh, I either need to fix this or I need to improve this.” And now there’s great ways to go out there, whether it be online or some great stores, like a Lowe’s that’s a sponsor of Hendrick Motorsports, that you can go out and find a very cost-effective way to do that.

    TOM: My cohost, Leslie Segrete, is a great decorator – While You Were Out, Trading Spaces, now Hotel Impossible – and she’s a mommy blogger. You mentioned that you’re a fan of mommy bloggers. Why is that?

    JEFF: I am. I’ve seen innovative ideas that have been created because of moms and what they’ve gone through – whether it be through pregnancy, through birth or just through the first several years of having a child or multiple children – and these great ideas that they come up with because they say, “I need this.” And it’s great to see moms that do that.

    TOM: So just this week – Leslie has two young kids and her washing machine blew up. Any advice for Leslie?

    JEFF: Yeah. You’re talking to a guy that loves to drive a racecar and knows certain aspects of what makes that car go but has no clue how to fix it. So, I’d say find a good pit crew.

    TOM: Great advice. Jeff Gordon, thanks so much for being a part of The Money Pit.

    JEFF: Thank you.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.

    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 at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to help you with whatever it is you are working on right now at your money pit.

    And one of our callers is going to win a great prize. We’re giving away the Milwaukee 25-Foot Magnetic Tape Measure. It’s got nylon-blade protection, which means it’s going to hold up as much as 10 times longer against job-site dirt and debris.

    TOM: Its reinforced frame provides drop protection. And dual magnets hold onto steel studs for easy measurement.

    The Milwaukee 25-Foot Magnetic Tape Measure is available at The Home Depot. Visit HomeDepot.com to learn more and give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Steve in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    STEVE: I have a cabin way out in the woods – small cabin out in the woods – and years ago, I built a bathroom on. And I put in a – I believe it is an iron base with a porcelain-coated tub. And I don’t use it that often but it has developed this very light-blue staining all around the drain and it has – it faded out. I’ve used bleach, I’ve – different cleaners. And I’m wondering, is there a painted surface or what is going on with that, if you might know?

    TOM: It’s probably minerals from the water. Are you on a well, by any chance?

    STEVE: It is, in fact. Yes, it is way out in the woods.

    TOM: You may be getting some mineral salts from water – probably hard water – that are just evaporating and staying behind and then reacting with the drain-metal material to kind of form that. I’ve seen that before. It’s almost fluorescent.

    STEVE: Yeah. In older houses that I’ve been in, I’ve noticed that, that you will sometimes see that.

    TOM: Yeah. The best thing to use is CLR – Calcium Lime Rust Remover. That product is pretty effective at making the minerals go away. But you might find that if it’s worn the surface off of the drain and that sort of thing, that it just doesn’t clean very well anymore.

    STEVE: Oh. OK. Well, thank you so – oh, and by the way, I wish you all would just, every other show, play the trailer music and just let it play. I love that (inaudible at 0:29:33). I really do.

    TOM: Well, thank you very much.

    STEVE: “Live in a money pit.” The music is great.

    TOM: Alright, Steve. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, it might still be cold where you live but it’s almost spring. It starts in just a couple of weeks, which means it’s time to bring your yard and garden back to life.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. If you’ve laid mulch in your flower beds to give them some warmth from winter, now is the time to start removing it so as the weather does get warmer, it can actually reach the soil itself.

    You want to do it gradually, though. Because just like you, your garden doesn’t want to go from cold to warm too fast.

    TOM: Good point. And if you live in a warmer region where mulch adds all that much-needed moisture, you want to start refreshing those upper layers to keep beds thriving. And trim back any unwanted winter growth. This way, you’ll make room for this year’s blooms, which are going to be absolutely beautiful.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Going up north to Rhode Island where Doug has got a question about heat sources.

    What can we do for you, Doug?

    DOUG: Yeah, hi. Good evening. I appreciate your show and I thank you for all your hard work in providing such wonderful answers.

    My question has to do with – I’m looking – considering an alternative source for heat in the event of power loss. And I’m trying to weigh my options and I’m looking at pellet stoves and wood stoves. And I’m wondering what your opinions are and if there are – if there’s anything else that I should be considering.

    TOM: Yeah, you should be considering a whole-home generator if you’re concerned about power failure. I mean look, it’s not just the heat that you need in a power failure. Have you thought about installing a generator?

    DOUG: You know, if I did install one, it would have to be one that just kicks on: one of those whatever-they-call-it, the automatic style?

    TOM: Yeah. It’s called – let me explain this to you, Doug. It’s called a “whole-home generator.” It’s a permanently installed appliance. It would be installed outside your house. You can buy one that can cover every single circuit in the house or you could buy a smaller one that would just cover select circuits like, for example, your furnace or your boiler. And when the power fails on the grid, the whole-home generator automatically kicks on and then repowers your entire house.

    Now, these don’t run on gasoline. They can run on natural gas or propane, which means you never have to worry about fueling them or finding gasoline to fill a tank, for example. Because that’s what you’d have to do if you had a portable generator. So I would protect my power first.

    Now, as to the question about installing some alternative heat source, like a pellet stove or a wood stove, sure, one of the other of those is fine. I think you’ll find maximum efficiency with the pellet stoves. And the most efficient stoves also have their own combustion air supply. That’s where most folks go wrong because if you don’t have an outside combustion air supply, where do you think all that air comes to fuel that fire? It comes from inside your house and that’s the air that you’ve already paid to heat through your heating system. So, you want to have an external combustion air supply to help improve the efficiency.

    Does that make sense, Doug?

    DOUG: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I do have natural gas.

    TOM: Well, then, you’re all set up. I would take a look at the KOHLER generators or the Generac generators. Both great brands.

    DOUG: Yeah, I’ll look into it.

    TOM: Good luck, Doug. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, it might not be the most glamorous thing that you’re going to buy but this purchase can actually make your life a whole lot easier. What are we talking about? Well, we’ll let you know when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety and convenience, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And we’re going to jump into our Community section’s postings, where I’ve got one from Stephanie in Delaware who writes: “I love making the homemade stain I learned about from your show: the one created by mixing steel wool with vinegar. But my question is: how long can I keep it?”

    TOM: The thing is with these homemade stains, you’ve got to pretty much make the stain and make enough to do the project and then don’t expect to save it. It’s not like when you buy stain in a can at the paint store where you could save it for months or even years. When you make homemade stain – and the recipes are online; just Google them at Money Pit, “homemade wood stains” – you need to make just enough to get the project done and then just properly discard whatever is left over.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, Steph? The longer you hold onto it, the more the color is going to change. So it’s not really going to make sense that you’re going to be able to match it down the road.

    TOM: Well, there’s no doubt about it: vacuuming sucks, especially if your vacuum doesn’t work very well. The solution is to purchase a new one but they’re getting very complex, which means there’s a lot of options to sort through. If that’s a purchase you plan for your future, Leslie has got tips, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I think it can be really overwhelming when you go vacuum shopping. You’ve got a lot of bells and whistles in certain models. They’re coming in fun, bright, shiny colors. So it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of features and how they’re looking. But what you really need to think about when you get to the market and you’re shopping online or shopping in person for a vacuum, you’ve got to think about what you have.

    So start with your floor type. If you’ve got wall-to-wall carpet, a classic upright is probably going to be what you need. Canister vacuums, they’re good choices for homes with a mix of carpet and hardwood but they can be tough to lug around, which you’re going to end up doing.

    And consider the attachments when you’re comparing vacuum prices. You know, there’s no point in paying for a drapery attachment if you don’t have drapes. Or even if you have drapes and you never ever vacuum them, you don’t need that attachment.

    Now, from there, you’ve got to know about your filtration. Vacuums that collect to a bag are going to offer almost none of it. If keeping particles out of the air is important, you want to look for a high-efficiency particle air filter, also known as HEPA for short. Now, it’s going to absorb more than 99 percent of larger particles, which is great for household allergies.

    And speaking of allergies, you want to steer clear of bagless vacuums if you’re prone to allergies. Because when you empty that vacuum’s bin, all of that dirt and everything that you’ve collected – dirt, debris, what-have-you – you’re literally going to push a button and it’s all going to just drop out right into your garbage can. And it does make this huge cloud of dust up in your face. So you really want to make sure that you’ve got a vacuum that’s going to work with your needs.

    And finally, you need to make sure that you test-drive a vacuum before you buy it. Because you have to make sure that it pushes and pulls just the way you want it to.

    TOM: Hey, speaking of test-driving a vacuum, did you see the story a couple of months ago about – it was like a Roomba-style robotic vacuum. A woman in South Korea buys this vacuum, sets it up to vacuum her apartment and then, I guess, she hadn’t had it too long and she fell asleep on the floor. And the vacuum didn’t necessarily detect her as an obstruction and it ate her hair. And she woke up to find her vacuum had consumed about 10 inches of her hair and they had to take the thing all apart to get her out of it.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: So, let that be a lesson to you.

    LESLIE: Or take a scissor to her hair.

    TOM: Yeah, well, no, that wouldn’t be right. No, the poor Roomba had to get destroyed, I think, to save the hair. So, I guess if you are going to invest in a Roomba, don’t fall asleep on the floor.

    LESLIE: Yeah, pick a new napping spot.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about garage doors. If you’re going to change yours, you want to pick the right one, because it adds a lot to your curb appeal and can definitely drive up the value of your home. We’ll go through the options, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2015 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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