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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement projects, your decorating projects, your maintenance projects, your fix-up projects. We’re here to help you with the projects you can’t do yourself and the ones you can. We’ve got some advice to help get you started, whatever the case is, on the right foot. So give us a call but help yourself, first, by picking up that phone at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great hour planned for you. First up, there has been a new survey out from House Beautiful and they revealed the most popular color for the season. So here’s a hint: contrary to its name, the color is not going to bring you down; in fact, it’s making most homeowners very happy. We’re going to have the top colors for the different geographic areas of the country, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, now really is the time you should be getting your furnace ready for that winter heating season. We’re going to give you some step-by-step info to make sure that your heating system is set for that chilly weather ahead.

    TOM: And if you’re thinking about replacement windows, there are many choices when it comes to materials, the most common of which are vinyl and wood. There are benefits to each and we’re going to go through them with you, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, we’re giving away a great prize to one lucky caller-inner. I know I’ve made that word up but I use it. We’ve got the latest This Old House book by Kevin O’Connor and it includes some really gorgeous pictures of just the best renovations of the last 10 years that they’ve done on This Old House. And the bonus – and this really is the coolest for any home improvement fan out there – the book is signed by every cast member of This Old House. So it’s priceless, in my opinion.

    TOM: So give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Missouri on the line who needs some help choosing a kitchen sink. Tell us what you’re working on.

    BILL: Well, I’m having a kind of a tough time trying to decide on these new materials and stuff that they’re making the kitchen sinks out of now.

    TOM: Yep.

    BILL: And my wife didn’t want a stainless-steel sink and she wanted one that was colored or white: one that would be easy to keep clean and wouldn’t show scratches or cracks or anything like that.

    TOM: OK. OK.

    BILL: And I was trying to keep away from the cast iron, because that’s what we have in there right now. Those things weigh a ton. And they’ve got some new ones that we were looking at over at the Lowe’s store and it’s called a Swanstone, which is a man-made product. And I don’t know how good those are.

    TOM: I’ve had some experience with those composite products and I will say if she’s accustomed to a cast-iron, porcelain sink, she’s not going to be happy with a composite sink because they are a lot harder to keep clean. I mean I’ve got one that’s sort of like the undermount sink that’s made of the – like sort of one of the Corian-wannabe products. And whenever we put wine in it or tomato sauce or something like that, it does leave a stain and we have to get the Bon Ami out and sort of scour the bottom to keep it clean.

    You know, there’s – if you’re used to a cast-iron sink – and that is definitely the easiest one to keep clean, I’ve got to tell you.

    BILL: The one we’ve got hasn’t been that easy and it’s shown scratch marks where the pots had scratched it and I just thought, “Well, we’ll just get something easier to clean.”

    TOM: Right. But it has a nice, smooth, cleanable surface that doesn’t stain; that’s the nice thing about cast.

    I was telling Leslie last week on the show that I just replaced a sink for my mom that was an Americast product – an American Standard product.

    BILL: Yeah.

    TOM: And it was actually covered by a lifetime warranty. So it had started to rust and chip in one corner and 17 years after she bought it, American Standard gave her a brand-new sink.

    BILL: Wow.

    TOM: And it was a cast-iron – like a porcelain, enameled kind of a sink. And she had a beige one that we took out and they gave us a new beige one, almost the same configuration 17 years later, and popped it back in.

    BILL: Well, I wanted to tell you thank you for taking my call and I really enjoy your shows.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project. .

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ann in North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a wet crawlspace. Tell us what’s going on there.

    ANN: Hey. I have a question about my house. It was built a long time ago and of course, back then they didn’t put a house off the ground. And it’s very low. And I’m just wondering how I can protect it from dampness and rot. I don’t have a lot of money to work with and I’ve heard a few things but I’m really not sure of what I can do.

    TOM: OK. So right now, you’re on a crawlspace and the crawlspace, is it accessible? Can you get in there?

    ANN: Through one small door.

    TOM: OK, fine. It’s not a pleasant project but it is a project that you can do yourself, Ann.

    So, a couple of things. First of all, you want to take steps to reduce the amount of moisture that collects at the outside of the foundation. You do that by making sure you have gutters, the gutters are clean and free-flowing and dumping water at least 4 to 6 feet from the foundation. That’s the most – single most important thing to do is a good gutter system.

    Second to that is to make sure the soil around the house slopes away. You don’t want soil that’s settled and is very flat and holds water against the foundation; you want it to slope away. So you could have some clean fill dirt delivered very inexpensive. Basically just carry – pay for the truck to carry it out there. And then grade that to slope away from the walls on all four sides. Over the fill dirt, you could put some top soil and some seed or stone or whatever you want to do to control erosion.

    Then the third thing you do is go in that crawlspace and cover all of the open soil with plastic. Get some large rolls of sheet plastic with as few seams as possible. Cover all of the soil with plastic. That stops a lot of the moisture from evaporating up into the air.

    And those three things together will make a big difference.

    ANN: Do I need a certain thickness?

    TOM: The thicker the plastic the better, because it just – it’s easier to put down. You end up having to crawl on it and you won’t poke through.

    ANN: Oh, OK. And does it need to be anchored in any way?

    TOM: Nope. You can lay it right over the soil.

    ANN: Really? I like that; don’t like the crawl part.

    TOM: Yep. OK. Alright.

    ANN: It’s just ugh, scary under there.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a little – like I said, it’s not the most pleasant job but it’s not hard and you can do it yourself. Get a really good friend to keep you company and do it together.

    LESLIE: One who likes squishing bugs and giving you support.

    ANN: OK. I appreciate it. That answers my question.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair, home improvement, design, décor, fall fix-up. Whatever you are working on, we are here to lend you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Still ahead, a new survey reveals the homeowner’s newest favorite color. It’s a bit more subdued than the tangerine color that heated up last year. Find out what it is, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Flood. Know how to open a can of wood stain? If it’s Flood Wood Stain, you’ve already mastered the hardest part. From the first board you brush to the last, Flood products make it surprisingly simple to protect and beautify your deck, fence and more. Find a retailer at Flood.com.

    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: Give us a call right now. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win a great prize we’re giving away, because we’ve got The Best Homes from This Old House. It’s the latest This Old House book by Kevin O’Connor and it’s very special because it’s autographed by the entire cast. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT. It’d be a great prize for somebody who’s a big TOH fan.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to North Carolina where Reba is dealing with a spider problem. Blah. What’s going on?

    REBA: I have moved into a brand-new set of apartments and there are just spiders everywhere. They have a lot of mulch around our apartments and – where they’ve planted new flowers and such. But there are some tiny spiders that are little black spiders and then there’s brown spiders that are as big as quarters. They’re the fastest spiders I’ve ever seen in my life.

    TOM: Oh, boy. And the brown spiders that are as big as quarters, they sound like brown recluse spiders, which can bite. So those we don’t like at all.

    REBA: Right. But I have tried – I have bought stuff from Lowe’s. I’ve sprayed all kinds of stuff all inside my house and all around the outside but they’re impossible to get rid of.

    TOM: So, I hate to say this but have you considered hiring a professional? I know you’re probably saving some money. But whenever I hear somebody is buying lots and lots of pesticide and spraying it inside the house and spraying it outside the house, I’m kind of of the opinion that by the time you do all that, you’ve exposed yourself to so much excess pesticide that you would have been better off just having a pro come in, because they can buy stuff that you can’t buy. Plus, they’re specifically trained on where to put the insecticide, how much to put. And also, the insecticides today are very specific and they remove only the insects that they’re supposed to remove. And they don’t remove the beneficial insects that you want to leave behind.

    So if you’re having that much of an infestation, I would stop shopping for my own pesticide and call a pro and have them treat the house. And once you get the populations down to where they’re manageable, kind of more normal, then you could try to use some of those other products just on a maintenance basis. Does that make sense?

    REBA: It sure does. But here’s the only question: when everybody else is having the same problem and the mulch is all around the whole entire neighborhood, is just me spraying going to help? Is it going to stop it?

    TOM: Well, yeah, it’ll create sort of a barrier around your place. But let me ask you, is this an apartment you rent or is this a townhouse? What’s the form?

    REBA: This is like – they just built this whole neighborhood of new apartments. There’s like 43 apartments.

    TOM: So they’re rental apartments?

    REBA: Yes.

    TOM: OK. So, if you get the exterminator out there and they tell you that you’ve got something like a brown recluse spider there and you bring that to the attention of the rental agent, I think you’d give them plenty of reason to treat the whole apartment complex and not ignore them to the point where people and kids start getting bitten.

    REBA: OK. I thank you for your information.

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

    Well, it looks like Americans are true blue. A new survey conducted by House Beautiful Magazine finds that homeowners are partial to blue this season. And the experts say that the reason that blue is a perfect color is because it has a calming and serene influence. It’s perfect for bedrooms and for bathrooms.

    Now, what color came in second? Well, close to blue: green. And it’s very soothing, as well. The survey was conducted in the spring and more than 4,000 people took part. House Beautiful also talked to designers and design bloggers to come up with the final results.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, the survey actually also looked at favorite room colors by region. Now, here it goes: red was voted best color for dining rooms in the Mid-Atlantic, blue was the pick for bedrooms on the West Coast, yellow got the big thumbs-up as the favorite for kitchens in the Midwest.

    And that’s interesting that dining rooms went red and kitchens went yellow, because I know that ages ago, in sort of a color-theory testing, they found that fast-food restaurants would always paint themselves red and yellow because they made people feel the most hungry.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: And I can remember an apartment I had – you know, one of my first apartments – I painted that kitchen the most delicious shade of tomato red. And all I ever wanted to do was be in there and cook and eat and it’s true. I mean it definitely does a number …

    TOM: And you put on 10 pounds, right?

    LESLIE: Right. Forget about the Freshman 15; it was First Apartment 20.

    TOM: Well, if you’d like to check out all the results, you can grab a copy of this month’s issue of House Beautiful and check out the First Annual House Beautiful Color Report.

    LESLIE: Wendy in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    WENDY: I bought a large commercial building in a historic downtown of Atlantic, Iowa.

    TOM: Oh, it sounds nice.

    WENDY: And it had a roof leak and we have repaired that; we’ve put a new roof on. But there was a lot of damage to the second-story ceiling, which was lath and plaster.

    TOM: OK.

    WENDY: And we want to put a loft – a residential loft – up on the upstairs. We have about 1,500 square foot of lath and plaster that needs to come down. So my question is: is there something that’s available as an aid to funnel all of that dirt and lath and plaster down off of the ceiling and out to a dumpster?

    TOM: Yeah. Let me give you some suggestions, having been through this very repair in my home, which was all lath and plaster. I went about remodeling rooms in different stages. The first time, I decided I would take all the lath and plaster out and drywalled right on top of the original studs. And after going through that mess, I decided it wasn’t as important as I’d once thought to take the lath and plaster out.

    And the next time I did it, I simply put a second layer of drywall over the old lath and plaster and screwed through that drywall up into the ceiling joists and the wall studs to support it. And that was a much neater, much easier way to get a nice, clean, new ceiling without all of the mess and the dust and the dirt and the debris.

    So is the lath and plaster somewhat intact or is it all loose and falling off? What’s the status of it right now?

    WENDY: In some places, where there was a water leak, the plaster wants to fall off. And then in some places, it’s not so bad.

    TOM: Well, if you were to put 4×8 sheets of drywall over that and screw the drywall in, it’ll probably support any loose lath or plaster that’s there. And again, you won’t have this big mess of having to tear it all down, which is an awfully big project. Because it’s very heavy, you’ll be shoveling it off the floor, putting it in trash cans, carrying those cans down. And you can’t even fill up the cans because it’s too heavy to lift them.

    So it’s a big, stinking mess and if you could apply some drywall to the ceiling as it is now and attach through that drywall into the ceiling joists, it should support the old lath and plaster and give you a nice, clean surface to start with.

    WENDY: OK. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome, Wendy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Brenda in Florida is on the line and needs help with restoring a terrazzo floor. How can we help you?

    BRENDA: Bought an older home and removed all the carpet and padding. And underneath, to our surprise, was this beautiful – or at one time was beautiful, perhaps – terrazzo flooring.

    TOM: OK.

    BRENDA: The only problem is it’s got these – like glue – little balls of kind of mushy stuff and it’s all over the flooring. And it’s dull and there are also cracks around – mostly around the sliding-glass doors leading to the exterior of the home, where it’s kind of crumbly in that area. But the rest of the floor – and it’s a large area, probably about, oh, 2,400 square feet of flooring throughout the home.

    So my question is: how do I bring it back to its grandeur?

    TOM: Hmm. Yeah, well, I will tell you this: it’s a lot of work. Getting glue off terrazzo is not a pleasant project. What you need to do is to use an adhesive remover and you need to try to find one that works. There are a lot of citrus-based products today that are pretty effective but – so you may want to go to a good-quality hardware store and select two or three different ones and – buy small amounts and then try it to see what works the best.

    But you’re going to use this remover and you’re going to use a floor scraper. And you’re going to very carefully soften the glue and then try to scrape it off. And when you find the right combination, that’s going to be what you’re going to buy more of and complete the project.

    After that, once the glue is removed, I would have a professional come in and restore the terrazzo, because it’s going to have to be abraded to buff it down to get to the point where …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. To repolish it.

    TOM: To repolish it, yeah. You’re going to – definitely going to do that.

    BRENDA: That’s what I was wondering, if the polish is still there in the stone itself or is there a project that I put over it and do it yourself?

    LESLIE: It probably will not be there because of the glue being on top of it for so long and what you have to do to get the glue off of it, which may possibly abrade the surface some. So I really do think that’s best left to a pro.

    Then what they do is – terrazzo is generally cement and marble. And there’s going to be a polish that they’ll put on there that will possibly need to be redone every however many years. But it’s a maintenance issue. But I would definitely leave that to the pros, because they’re going to have a more durable product than you can get your hands on.

    TOM: And you’re going to need some really heavy-duty tools to polish that terrazzo if it’s been ignored all those years.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: So I think your job – your part of this is to get the glue off. Once you’ve got it as clean as you can, then you call in the pro, let them bring in the tools to polish that, what is – which essentially grinds it down to its original form. And then they’ll bring it back up again.

    BRENDA: Oh, my. OK. Well, great. Wonderful. Thank you so much. It sounds like a lot of work but I’m ready to tackle it, because I think it’ll be beautiful.

    TOM: I think it will. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, wood versus vinyl; it’s the Battle Dome. No, I’m kidding. But we’re talking about, really, which material will make the best window. We’re going to have the answer to that riddle, after this.

    NORM: Hi. I’m Norm Abram from This Old House and when we’re working on our projects, we listen to The Money Pit.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Roxul, manufacturer of fire-resistant, water-repellant and sound-absorbent home insulation products. Keep your home efficient and comfortable this winter and all year long with Roxul ComfortBatt and Roxul Safe’n’Sound insulations, www.DIYWithRoxul.com. Roxul. That’s R-o-x-u-l.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, 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. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now on the line, we’ve got Pat in Michigan who’s dealing with a problem in a home’s addition. Tell us what you’re working on.

    PAT: Well, I had added onto my house in 2003 and added on a small room in a garage. And what I’ve noticed just recently is a door that exits this addition – that the security door won’t close.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: And then if I looked into the house, I see where the door is also sagging and then I see a crack radiating from the corner of the door at the top. So, it looks to me like this addition is settling. That side has gone down, which has caused the security door to not close.

    TOM: Now, can you clarify for me – you mentioned that this was over a garage?

    PAT: No, no, no. This was an addition to the house, which included a room and a garage.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: This room I’m talking about is 10×20. And it’s one of the walls – it’s one wall, which is 10 foot long and that’s where I see the problem. If you look on the outside of the house, it’s brick, this addition, and there’s nothing noticeable from the outside: no cracks in the brick, no movement of the brick that you could see. You’re just seeing it on the inside of the house.

    TOM: I think you should rehang the door at this point. The type of crack that you are mentioning is pretty common, because that’s the weakest part in the wall frame. And I’d like for you, before we do anything that’s too drastic in terms of reinforcing foundations during that kind of a project – we don’t know that it’s that bad. This might just be some normal settlement. So I’d like to suggest that you pull the door out and rehang it, square it up and then watch it and see what happens.

    PAT: OK. I appreciate it.

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

    Well, now it’s time for your Picture Perfect Tip, presented by Andersen Windows and Doors.

    Since fall is here, you might be worried that your leaky, drafty windows might not make it through another winter or at least not without costing you an arm and a leg in extra energy costs. So if that’s the case, you should consider replacing them. And one of the questions that will come up when you do research this project is: should you use wood or vinyl replacement windows?

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, each of them are going to have their own benefits. First up, natural wood. Those windows provide warmth and they’re really gorgeous. Now, natural wood also has a lot of structural stability and wood is one of the most effective insulators available. But vinyl windows, they’ve got their benefits, as well. They’re extremely low-maintenance, inside and out, and they offer really the best value for your budget.

    TOM: Now, it’s possible to have the best of both worlds if you invest in Andersen 400 Series Windows, which are wood-clad with vinyl exterior. So they’re protected from the elements and they never need to be painted.

    And the 400 Series is Andersen’s most popular line of windows and there are so many to choose from. You’ve got double-hung windows, casement windows, awning windows, gliding windows. You’ve got the fixed and the specialty shape windows. There’s a lot of them. You’re definitely going to find the perfect window for your home.

    You can check out the 400 Series for yourself at AndersenWindows.com and you can also visit The Home Depot. They’ve got a complete selection of Andersen windows, including the 400 Series, which is just beautiful. I had a chance to work with that window in a show that we were doing not too long ago and I’ve got to tell you, it was absolutely beautiful and very, very well-built and super-energy-efficient.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’re going to talk foundations with Randy in Idaho. How can we help you today?

    RANDY: Well, I’m – I’ve got a crack in my foundation and I’m wondering if what I want to do is a good idea.

    TOM: Alright. What’s your plan?

    RANDY: Well, first of all, it’s a crack that’s about an inch, inch-and-a-half wide. It’s right on the corner about, oh, 4 or 5 inches up from the bottom – from the floor of the basement.

    TOM: OK.

    RANDY: And it’s buried; there’s several feet of dirt above it. And a crack appeared on the floor in the basement and just dropped down about an inch-and-a-half. And the soil from outside was coming in from the outside and moisture and whatnot.

    TOM: This crack is in the basement floor or the basement walls?

    RANDY: The wall, in the corner.

    TOM: OK. And you said that the crack is an inch-and-a-half wide or it’s an inch-and-a-half long?

    RANDY: About an inch to an inch-and-a-half wide.

    TOM: Wow, that’s a big crack.

    RANDY: And about eight – yeah, about – well, the floor just dropped a little bit.

    TOM: Man.

    RANDY: And it’s about 8 inches on either side of the corner.

    TOM: OK. So, the crack formed and the floor dropped. Is that correct? Both of those things happened?

    RANDY: Correct.

    TOM: Alright. So, obviously, something got very disturbed under there. I don’t know if it was settlement or whatever it was but it sounds like you lost some soil in there. As a result, you lost the support.

    A crack that’s an inch-and-a-half wide is a very large crack. And typically, it’s something that we would recommend you have a professional inspect before you just repair it on your own. But with that as our general advice, what is your plan?

    RANDY: Well, I thought that what I’d do is I’d put some BLACK JACK in the very back of it. I dug out as much soil as I could and cleaned it with a toothbrush or a wire brush.

    TOM: Right. Well, that’s all – you’re talking about patching the crack; I’m talking about supporting it so it doesn’t get any worse. You can fill it, you know, five different ways. What I’m concerned about is making sure that this instability isn’t going to continue and get worse and affect the structural integrity of the wall. If you’ve got a crack that truly opened up an inch-and-a-half, that is a very big crack. I mean most of the time, people talk to us about hairline cracks or cracks that open a ¼-inch and are very concerned. If you’ve got a crack that’s opened up an inch-and-a-half, that’s a huge crack.

    So here’s what I would do. I would have – I would consult with a structural engineer. Have them inspect your house, look at the foundation, look at the crack and then write you a report that gives you step-by-step instructions on what should be done to address this. Either you do the repair yourself or you have an engineer – a contractor – do it; it doesn’t matter to me.

    But what’s most important is that you have the structural engineer come back after the repair is done and certify that it was done sufficiently. And the reason you’re going to do that is because eventually, you’re going to want to sell this house. And if you have this repair done under the supervision of an engineer like that, it’s sort of like a pedigree that says all is well. And it will alleviate any fears from a potential home buyer.

    RANDY: I see. I see. That’s kind of like a cover yourself kind of thing.

    TOM: Absolutely. Yep. And you’re going to do it right and most importantly, since you had the crack form and the floor drop, I’m concerned about what’s going on underneath this. That’s a very unusual set of circumstances and it leads me to conclude that there’s some instability underneath that corner of the foundation.

    RANDY: Alright. Well, I think I’ll just start nosing around for one.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, we’ve got tips to get your furnace humming for the heating season. Back with more, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

    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.

    Hey, we’d love to hear from you. We want to know what you’re working on, because we’re always doing something, which means you guys are probably always doing something. Because bottom line, don’t we all love home improvement? So pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    One lucky – and I mean super-lucky – caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win an amazing copy of The Best Homes from This Old House, which is the latest This Old House book by our friend, Kevin O’Connor. And here’s the coolest part that gets me super-excited: it’s autographed by the entire cast. That’s pretty amazing.

    TOM: Very cool.

    LESLIE: If you’re a home improvement fan – and I’ve been watching This Old House since – gosh, what did they just celebrate? Their 35th year?

    TOM: Something like that. Not that you’re that old.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I’ve been watching it all 35 years. I was 2 when I started; I’m fully – full disclosure: I’m 37. But I’ve been watching it my entire life, so I’m truly a home improvement geek. And this is the greatest prize.

    So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Well, we’re about to enter the heating season, which means it’s getting cold out. Which means the holidays are right around the corner. I just – I love this time of year. I absolutely love that first time you turn on the heating system and you smell that heat smell.

    TOM: Even though it smells a little bit?

    LESLIE: I love it. I really do like it.

    TOM: You know what that is? That’s all the dust that’s burning off from the season before. That’s the whole year’s worth of burnt dust that you’re smelling.

    LESLIE: And I hate now that I really like it. Well …

    TOM: I’m going to look for a perfume for you for Christmas called Burnt Dust.

    LESLIE: Burnt Dust. Enjoy it. “Here, I got you this scented candle. It’s called Burnt Dust. It’s your favorite.”

    TOM: Burnt Dust.

    LESLIE: “It’s called First Time Heating of the Season.”

    TOM: It’s an interactive gift. All you have to do is sprinkle some dust in and light it.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Tom. You care so much.

    But seriously, guys. Now that you’re getting ready to crank up those heating systems, you want to make sure that you change your furnace filter. Make that one of this month’s projects. Put it on your September to-do list. And if you do so, it’s going to keep your family healthy all winter long.

    Now, once the cold weather really starts to roll around, nothing is nicer than enjoying that family time. You’re going to hang out indoors, you’re going to play games. It’s going to be really nice and cozy. But the more time that you spend indoors, the more susceptible you’re going to be to those indoor allergens, you know, like burning dust on the candle that Tom is going to give me for Christmas.

    In fact, some accounts really say that indoor air can be even more polluted than outside air and I believe it, because you’re stuck inside with that same air all the time. So to breathe easy and sneeze less, it’s really important to change those furnace filters regularly.

    TOM: Now, you might be thinking, “Where is my furnace filter?”

    LESLIE: You might even be thinking, “I have a furnace filter?”

    TOM: Well, the furnace filter is going to be located in the main return grill near the furnace or it’s inside the furnace near the blower. When you remove the old filter, you want to replace it with the most efficient model that you can find for your system. The more efficient the furnace filter, the more particulates it will remove from the air.

    Now, when you install the new filter, you want to make sure the arrow, which indicates the direction of air flow, points towards the blower. The filter really should be changed every month or for a more long-term solution, you could install a whole-house air cleaner.

    And if you’ve not done it yet, get your heating system serviced now. Because even though it worked last winter, it may not work as efficiently as it did this winter. So get it cleaned, get it serviced. This way, you make sure it’s safe and it’s efficient for the long, chilly days ahead.

    LESLIE: Alright. Dave in New York is dealing with icicles and does not want them anymore on his roof. Tell us about them.

    TOM: But they’re so pretty.

    LESLIE: They are pretty but they’re bad.

    DAVE: They’re pretty but they’re also dangerous. I’ve got one that hangs on the back of the roof over here in the wintertime that – where I live, the houses, they’re not super-close together; there might be 40 feet between us. But the guy’s driveway runs right under there.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVE: And I had an icicle on there last winter that was about 10-foot long and I know it had to be 2-foot thick. And there’s another one up in the front of the house – there’s a little jut in there – and it gathers there. What is a good way to prevent them from happening?

    TOM: Well, here’s the thing: icicles form when the heat from your house escapes through your ceiling, gets into the attic and then melts the snow immediately right above the heated space. So if you improve your insulation in your attic space and if you improve the ventilation, especially the soffit ventilation, you keep the roof surface at the same temperature as the outside all the time. Hence, you’re not going to get any meltdown that’s going to go and create an ice dam and form at the roof edge like that.

    So it really comes down to improving insulation first and then attic ventilation second. And those two things together, Dave, can stop the icicles from forming. But I still think they’re pretty.

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

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, a salvage-yard find can become the perfect home organizational tool. We’ll explain, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows. Replacing windows or patio doors is always a big decision. Lowering energy bills? Well, that’s easy. And Andersen Windows, the number-one brand of windows in America, with over a century of making quality, energy-efficient windows, makes replacing your old, drafty windows easy with the new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Available at The Home Depot.

    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: Hey, have you ever left your home and wondered if it was safe while you were away? Well, if you install a do-it-yourself security system from Swann, you can be protected. Swann Security is a brand-new sponsor of The Money Pit. We are very happy to have them and they’ve got cameras, alarms and monitoring systems that can protect your home and keep you connected 24-7. They’ve even got apps that run on your smartphone or your tablet.

    Swann Security systems are affordable and they are an easy do-it-yourself installation. And I love this: they have lifetime technical support that comes with every product.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And we’re really so excited about partnering up with Swann that they’re being just so generous. And Money Pit listeners, you guys, you could win a four-camera Swann Security system in Swann’s Get Connected, Be Protected Sweepstakes. You can enter online at their website. It’s Swann.com and that’s S-w-a-n-n.com.

    TOM: And Swann has got a great set of prizes they’re giving away every single week. This four-camera system is going out. Also, every week they’re going to be giving away a Wi-Fi network camera and a home wireless alarm system. So that happens every week.

    And then – stay with us, folks – the grand prize is at the end of the promotion, which goes a total of six weeks. They’re going to give away a $5,000 system, which includes an iPad and a brand-new LCD TV. So that is the Get Connected, Be Protected Sweepstakes. Enter today at Swann.com – S-w-a-n-n.com. Do it now.

    LESLIE: Alright. And head to The Money Pit website to put your question in our Community section. And Barbara in Indiana writes: “I have a fan in the over-the-stove microwave and it doesn’t vent to the outside. Should it be vented to the outside?”

    TOM: If it can be vented to the outside, it should be vented to the outside. Sometimes, in certain building configurations, you can’t do that. But whenever you have the ability to install a range exhaust fan and vent it to the outside, you should because you’re much better off taking that hot steam and grease and everything that comes off the stove and dumping it outside than letting it recycle inside your house.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Barbara? If you can’t, not the end of the world. Just make sure you clean those filters on your specific vent once in a while. And you’ll be happy with that.

    TOM: And once in a while doesn’t mean once a year.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Well, now that September is well underway, your desk is probably filling up with paperwork from school activities, kids’ birthday parties and your own to-do list. Keeping all those invites, notes and projects handy and organized is a challenge. That’s why Leslie has a great idea on how to simplify that mess, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, I shudder to think of all the paperwork that starts to accumulate in the fall. But get this: a shutter is actually the best solution to the problem.

    And here is how this project is going to work. It’s really cute, it’s kind of crafty. You can make it look kind of slick and hip or you can make it look kitschy and country. Totally your call.

    First up, you need to find a small house shutter and I’m talking about the one with the lattices, the slats. Then you sand it, paint it and spray a clear satin or glossy – whatever kind of finish you like – poly right on top of it. Then you just hang it upside down so that those spaces between the overlapping slats face up, because those are going to be like your cummerbund. They’re going to catch all those goodies and the paperwork that you’ve got to store.

    Now, you can use binder clips to secure those papers, invites, class photos, art projects, whatever you’ve got, right to those slats. And ta-da, you have got the perfect organizational tool. Now, this is going to work great for a card holder around the holidays, as well, because we all get those Christmas cards. We want to show them off but where do you put them all? And it’s really a perfect display for your kids’ A-plus tests, their artwork. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to recycle a salvage-yard find. So definitely get out there and get crafty; that’s what the fall is for.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, good fences make great neighbors. And good fencing means less maintenance for you. We’re going to teach you about the new trends in vinyl fencing that can make your life so much easier, on the next edition of the program.

    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 2011 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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