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New Switch Helps Make Sure Lights Aren’t Left On, Latest Design Trends to Sell Homes, Make the Most of Your Outdoor Space, and more.

  • Transcript

    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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma, your fall fix-up to do. Whatever it is, we want to talk with you, we want to help you get through it. We’ll find the best way to get it done. We’ll help you choose the products, choose the process. Need tips for choosing a contractor? We can help with that, too, whether you’re a do-it-yourself or a direct-it-yourselfer. That’s my wife. She likes to direct me to do everything. We could help. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Hey, we’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up today, never leave lights on in an empty room again. We’ve got the low-down on the new occupancy-sensor technology that brings lights on when you need them and turns them off when you don’t, helping to save energy and make life easier. And might I add that this is going in every single kid’s room in my house, because I’m getting tired of saying, “Turn the lights off.”

    LESLIE: And then wondering why you sound like your dad?

    TOM: I know. I become my father when that happens.

    LESLIE: It eventually happens to all of us, Tom.

    Also ahead this hour, have you ever been working on a project that required glue to sort of hold everything together? And while you’re kind of trying to be octopus-hands here, you’re like, “Wow. More hands would be really great if I could just hold all of this together.”

    So, we’re going to share with you a great way to hold your project together while it’s drying. No clamps or extra hands required. And no magic, either. I promise.

    TOM: And also ahead this hour, it is just about impossible to keep up with all the trends in home design. You know, colors and textures come and go out pretty quickly. But some trends appear to be sticking around and they can actually help you sell your home. We’ll tell you what you need to know, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And we’ve got a great prize to give away this hour. We’ve got the Falcon Dust-Off Ultimate Screen Care Kit. I kind of like that name; it sounds kind of major and serious. It’s worth 25 bucks and it’s a really great way to keep all of your electronics clean.

    TOM: Going to go out to one caller that picks up the phone and calls us with their home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: J.C. in North Carolina is on the line with a question about radon. How can we help you?

    J.C.: If your home is built on a concrete slab, then are you in danger of radon effect?

    TOM: Well, you could potentially be in danger of it but the risk, there would be a far smaller chance of you having an elevated radon level on a concrete slab than if you had a basement. Because radon is a gas that emits from the soil and typically, it gets into the home at the basement level through concrete-block walls and the concrete floor and the gaps around it, builds up in the basement. And it’s typically highest in the basement, then it gets far less on the first floor, second floor and so on.

    J.C.: Yes. And I would assume it would be more dangerous with a crawlspace then.

    TOM: Actually, I think it’s less dangerous with a crawlspace and here’s why: because crawlspaces are open to the outside all the time, so they’re completely ventilated. So the highest risk would be if A) you were in an area that was prone to radon and B) you had a basement. Then you would definitely want a test.

    Now, in North Carolina, there are three different Radon Zone levels: 1, 2 and 3. Very little of the state is in the Radon Zone 1, which is the highest risk. I’d say about 30 percent, maybe 25 percent is in Radon Zone 2 but the rest of the state is all Radon Zone 3, which is the lowest risk.

    And in your area, which is Lee County, you’re in Radon Zone 3. So you’re in an area that has a low risk of radon, you’re on a concrete slab. I’d say the likeliness of you having a radon problem is very small but the only way to know is to test, J.C. And you could do that with a charcoal adsorption canister very inexpensively.

    J.C.: Alright. Well, I do thank you.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Brenda in West Virginia on the line who needs some help with her log cabin.

    BRENDA: I was wondering if it’s more economical to put polyurethane on new logs with a sprayer or roll it on.

    TOM: You want to have the shiniest house on the block, Brenda?

    BRENDA: No, I’m not really looking for shine.

    TOM: Is that …?

    BRENDA: I’m looking for just a protectant. The inside – I’d have to do the inside and the outside and was putting the polyurethane on the inside.

    TOM: You wouldn’t use polyurethane. On the outside, you would use an exterior stain.

    BRENDA: Right.

    TOM: And there are different types of exterior stain: there’s either transparent, semi-transparent or solid-color. Solid-color is going to give you the most protection; it has the most pigment in it. It has to be redone the least frequently. So, that’s going to last the longest.


    TOM: There are lots of good brands out there but solid-color stain would be the material to use on the outside of that home. And you could apply it, by the way, with a sprayer; you don’t – you certainly don’t want to brush it because of all the nooks and crannies and the uneven surfaces. The easiest way to do that is with a paint sprayer.


    TOM: Alright, Brenda. Good luck with that project. 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. Now you can call in your home repair, home improvement, home décor, design, renovation. Whatever you are working on, we’ve been there, we get it, we’re doing it, we know how to help you. We’re available for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, have you ever had to fix something with glue only to have it fall totally apart before the glue dries? We’re going to tell you how to avoid that scenario, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Swann Security. Enter Swann’s Get Connected, Be Protected Sweepstakes today at Swann.com and you could win one of five complete, do-it-yourself home security systems, including the top prize of a four-camera security system, iPad and plasma TV valued at over $5,000. Enter today at Swann.com. That’s Swann.com. That’s S-w-a-n-n.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. We want to hear from you, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one of you lucky callers who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a great prize. And this week, we’ve got up for grabs the Falcon Dust-Off Ultimate Screen Care Kit. It’s an awesome name but a good name.

    It’s worth 25 bucks. The kit has got everything you need to clean all of your electronics. It’s got a cleaning solution, which is created to easily remove all of those smudges and fingerprints. I feel like that has my iPad in mind with Henry’s dirty fingers that constantly want to play games whenever he’s eating dinner.

    It also comes with a Shammy cloth, a plasma-screen cloth and more. So, really, this is a dude’s dream kit here, I feel like. You can check them out at FalconSafety.com and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Hong in Pennsylvania on the line who is having an issue with carpenter ants. Tell us what’s going on.

    HONG: One day – within the front of the house, we have these wooden pillars. And in the round base, I saw there was a neatly-cut hole and the carpenter ants were climbing out of that. What’s an effective way of getting rid of them?

    TOM: Well, there’s a product called Phantom – P-h-a-n-t-o-m – that’s a professionally applied pesticide, Hong. Works very well for carpenter ants and roaches and other types of pests like that.

    And the reason it works particularly well is because it’s a non-detectable pesticide. So the ants go through this product and they bring it back to their nest and they pass it from insect to insect. I think of it as germ warfare for insects. And as they pass it from insect to insect, it will very quickly wipe out the entire nest.

    And I think a professional product like that is going to be the safest and most effective way to get rid of these ants. Because if you use a lot of over-the-counter products, chances are you’re not going to get all the ants where they live, because you’re not going to find any product that’s non-detectable that’s available as an over-the-counter. And you’ll end up putting more and more pesticide in than you probably really need to.

    So I would take a look at PhantonHome.com – P-h-a-n-t-o-mHome.com. You can put in your zip code, find a number of pest-control operators near your house and have them provide you some estimates for controlling this. You really need to get it under control, because carpenter ants are called carpenter ants for a very good reason: they do eat wood. We want to make sure they don’t eat anything that’s structural in your house.

    HONG: Yeah. You know that that’s what I was – I thought. OK.

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

    Well, if you’re tackling a project that involves glue, you know it can sometimes be pretty tricky to hold those pieces together and in place while the glue sets.

    LESLIE: It’s like Home Improvement Twister.

    TOM: It is. And if your project is an odd shape, it’s even worse because you can’t use a clamp. Well, one of our sponsors, Elmer’s, has a really cool, new product that can totally solve that problem.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s actually called Clamp Tape and it’s genius, really. You wrap Elmer’s Clamp Tape pretty much around anything you’re gluing, to hold it in place until everything is dry. And the cool part is that the Clamp Tape will only stick to itself, which is extra cool if you’re working on something that’s delicate. It’s also super-stretchy. I mean you can stretch this thing up to 300 percent of its size, so you can wrap things tight; you can get a good grip on something regardless of its shape.

    TOM: You know what this is perfect for? Anything that a rubber band won’t trap. It won’t clamp, you know?

    LESLIE: True.

    TOM: I’ve used rubber bands for small things and they’re very hard to get on. But with the Clamp Tape, you have much more control. Plus, you can do big things like – say you have a loose leg on a chair or something like that where you’ve really got to kind of strap it up in a bunch of different ways.

    LESLIE: Yeah, good luck finding a rubber band that big, Tom.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. This is totally the way to go.

    Hey, if you want to check it out and learn more, go to the Elmer’s website at Elmers.com – E-l-m-e-r-s.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lavonne in Iowa on the line with a floor-refinishing question. How can we help you today?

    LAVONNE: Yes. I have 1,350 square feet of engineered hardwood floor. It has been refinished twice and you know what? It’s looking pretty tough. And I want to refinish it again and I’ve thought about doing a gel with a lacquer over the top of it but I’m afraid if I sand it any more, I’m going to be into the plywood.

    TOM: It’s very unusual that you’ve been able to refinish it once. Engineered floors have factory-applied finishes and they’re very difficult to refinish, which you may have discovered.

    One thing I can suggest, Lavonne, is this. Is the floor physically damaged or is it really just the finish is kind of worn a little bit?

    LAVONNE: You know what? There is some physical damage because of water issues, like where I had my Christmas tree, right? The ring, where it – because it wasn’t a very thick poly on it, I think.

    TOM: Right. Right.

    LAVONNE: And then there’s scratches, of course.

    TOM: OK. Well, here’s what you could do. What you could do is you could rent not a sander but a floor buffer. And you get a floor buffer with a sanding screen. So it’s a very fine screen that takes the place of sort of the buffing pads. And it will take off just the upper surface of the floor finish and kind of dull it out and smooth it out. And then on top of that, you can refinish it. So it doesn’t really sand the wood; it really just sands the finish, so to speak.

    LAVONNE: Right.

    TOM: And that might be enough for you to get a new finish to take. But I’ve got to tell you, you should just count your blessings because having refinished this two and now maybe three times, with engineered you’re really far exceeding what it’s designed to do. You’re treating this like it’s a solid hardwood and not an engineered hardwood.

    LAVONNE: I know and you know what? I’ve priced out laying new over the top of it, engineered, because to – the cost to remove what’s already there, the existing, is out of this – out of the – it’s just out of the roof. And to lay over the top of it, is that wise to lay another engineered over the top of it?

    TOM: But that said, I don’t understand why somebody wants to charge you so much to take out what’s there. It’s not attached to the floor underneath. It’s not glued down, is it?

    LAVONNE: You know what? That’s what I don’t know. It’s the unknown.

    TOM: In most cases, you would not glue down engineered floor; it would float. And so if it’s floating, all you would do to remove it is you would set the depth of a circular saw to the thickness of the floor, you’d put a bunch of cuts across the floor in a grid-like pattern, you start prying it up and throwing it away. The only thing that’s hard to get out is where it gets to the edges under the molding. But it shouldn’t be that big of a deal to take up engineered floor, as long as it’s not glued.

    That said, there’s no reason you can’t put a second layer over that.

    LAVONNE: So would you lay something in between? Would you float the floor or would you staple it?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s always floated; engineered always floats. And a lot of engineered hardwoods today have a backer on them already, so they’re kind of cushiony.

    LAVONNE: We’re thinking about – we’re going to list the house. It’s a 5,800-square-foot house. It’s huge and it’s just my husband and I rattling around in this thing and so – you want to do something …

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to list the house, you’re never going to return on investment by replacing the floor. My advice is to sand the floors with a floor buffer and a sanding screen, put another coat of urethane on it and then put the “For Sale” sign in the front yard, OK?

    LAVONNE: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Al in Florida is on the line with an attic-insulation question. How can we help you today?

    AL: Well, it’s a real pleasure to talk with you guys, you experts who provide so much needed advice to your listeners.

    LESLIE: Thanks.

    AL: And I have a question for you on insulation for the attic. I want to add a little more insulation because through the years, everybody tripping through the attic has kind of stepped on it and squashed it down a little bit.

    TOM: OK.

    AL: And I have heard of a thing called TAP Insulation.

    TOM: OK.

    AL: TAP – T-A-P.

    TOM: Right.

    AL: Stands for Thermal Acoustical Pest Control.

    TOM: Right. It’s a treated insulation is what it is.

    AL: Yes. Supposed to be for bug control and also for fire.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.

    AL: Well, my question is: is that actually better to have it blown onto my insulation that I have now – my fiberglass – or should I just have fiberglass reblown on?

    TOM: Well, I mean I don’t know that just adding another layer of this other type of insulation is going to give you the full effectiveness that it promises you. I think the concept for this type of insulation is that when you use it for all of your insulation, then you have sort of this layer of …

    LESLIE: Then you get all of the benefits.

    TOM: Yeah, you get all the benefits. In your case, since you’re just really just adding on, you’re supplementing what you have, I would just add additional fiberglass in that situation. I think that’s a very simple solution, probably the least expensive solution. And I think that’s going to do it.

    LESLIE: Is there a reason why you were looking at this TAP Insulation? Is there a pest issue?

    AL: Well, no, there’s not really a pest issue but I have a pest-control company that comes and takes care of me every year for termites and stuff.

    TOM: Yeah.

    AL: And they are the ones around here that actually add this. And the guy, when he went up in the attic recently, he said, “Ah, we need to blow about 5.8 inches of insulation back into your attic to bring you up to an R-38. And if we use this, it will do this for you.” And I said, “OK, cool.” He’s talking about 1,875 square feet for $1,640.

    TOM: I’m sure it’s a good product but the thing is, all of these pest-control operators are looking for things that they can sort of bolt onto their services.

    AL: For sure.

    TOM: They’re new lines of businesses, OK?

    AL: OK.

    TOM: They’ve all got to make a living. But in your case, I don’t see any reason to necessarily use a different type of insulation than what you have right now.

    AL: One other thing, though. You get up to a $500 tax credit if you use this stuff.

    TOM: Well, you’ll get a tax credit if you use any type of insulation.

    AL: Oh, OK. I did not know that.

    TOM: That’s a federally mandated tax credit.

    AL: So the thing about the fire retardant and the pest control really doesn’t matter.

    TOM: If your house is going to catch on fire, the one, thin, 5-inch layer of insulation I don’t think is going to make a big difference.

    LESLIE: Is not going to help.

    AL: Yeah. I agree with you.

    TOM: Yeah. Alright?

    AL: But I just wanted to get you guys’ opinion, because you are the experts and really help us out here.

    TOM: Yeah, well, we’re happy to do that and appreciate you listening. And I hope that does help you out.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up ahead, outdoor living areas are more popular than ever, regardless of the season. We are going to tell you a way to make the most of your outdoor space, after this.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, 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 with your home improvement question. Let us help solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tony in Oregon needs some help installing a closet door. Tell us about your project.

    TONY: I had a Pergo floor installed in one of my bedrooms and by one of the home improvement stores. And the one thing they didn’t do is install the closet guides for the floating-style closet doors, because they’d have to do something to the floor. And so my question is: what’s the right way for me to put that plastic guide at the bottom of the floor? How do I mount that to the Pergo without doing damage?

    TOM: So, do the doors slide well? They seem – they don’t have to be trimmed or anything?

    TONY: Right. Yeah, they slide fine there.

    TOM: OK. So, it’s pretty simple. I mean what you do is you position the plastic guide right where you think it needs to be, make sure you leave enough room so the doors can slide easily.

    TONY: Yep.

    TOM: You want to mark the holes where the guide would be attached to the floor. And then you just want to pilot-drill out the laminate floor and then screw right through the guide into the pilot hole and secure that down.

    TONY: OK.

    TOM: The laminate floor would be – is pretty easy to drill.

    TONY: Yep.

    TOM: Alright? Just make sure you get it right the first time as, otherwise, you’re going to have extra holes in your floor.

    TONY: OK. I had heard that I should use a contact adhesive or things like that and so I …

    TOM: No, there’s no reason that you can’t drill into the laminate floor. None whatsoever.

    TONY: That makes a lot more sense to me. Thanks a lot.

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

    You know, creating outdoor living spaces is an improvement that adds tremendous value to your home. Whether it’s a deck or a patio, these outdoor living areas that add extra square footage, they do so – give you space to work from – without the cost of a major addition or renovation.

    And how are we using that space? Well, we’re using it for a lot of different ways: outdoor kitchens, entertaining. Anything that can take full advantage of that extension of their living space makes a lot of sense.

    And by the way, there are a lot of home buyers that are also now looking for – and willing to pay for – those extended outdoor living spaces.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, just like a new front door adds curb appeal and value to your home, the door to the patio or even your deck can have the same effect. If you’ve got an older, outdated patio door that’s a little worse for the wear, replacing it can ramp up that added value and bring more energy efficiency to your home.

    TOM: Now, if that’s a project that you’re interested in, there are two primary kinds of patio-style doors: either hinged or gliding doors. Now, the gliding door is great when space is an issue. But if you have the room and you want to step-up the style, there are lots of options with hinged patio doors, as well.

    And you don’t have to be limited to the type of door that you presently might have. So you could replace your current glider, for example, with a hinged door if you’ve got the room for the door to actually swing.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And if you’re adding a patio door, the Andersen 400 Series patio doors are a great option. Andersen makes French, wood patio doors in both hinged and gliding options. The hinged doors can have either or both panels open. And like all 400 Series products, you can get the hardware to match any style home or décor.

    Andersen 400 Series windows and doors are available at The Home Depot.

    TOM: Plus, this is a project that with a little skill, you can do yourself. For a look at all of the Andersen 400 Series doors, as well as measuring and installation guides, visit AndersenWindows.com or take a trip to The Home Depot nearest you.

    LESLIE: Paul in Colorado has a question about a chainsaw we were talking about. How can we help you?

    PAUL: Yeah. Hi, Leslie and Tom. On a previous show, you talked about a self-sharpening chainsaw.

    TOM: Yes.

    PAUL: Now, I’m someone who has spent a good deal of time sharpening blades on chainsaws and failing to successfully sharpen them and destroying chainsaws that haven’t been sharpened properly and destroying the bar in chainsaws and all sorts of things.

    TOM: Right.

    PAUL: I was intrigued by a self-sharpening chainsaw and I wondered if you knew how that thing worked, how it sharpened it. I remember – I think Tom said that he’d seen a demonstration where the saw had actually been blunted on concrete?

    TOM: That’s correct. If you go to MoneyPit.com and search for the OREGON PowerNow Chainsaw, I put the video up on the website. And it’s really interesting, because the guy takes the chainsaw, makes a few cuts and then drops it into the – it looks like a concrete or an asphalt driveway or something that he’s standing on and really dulls it. And then he proves that it’s dull, because he tries to cut again and you can hear the machine struggle. And then he pulls the lever that actuates the sharpening mechanism and in like 10 seconds, it’s back to new again.

    We actually were sent one to play with and what happens is when you buy the chainsaw, whenever the blade wears out and you buy a new blade, it comes with a new sharpening stone built into it. And when you pull the lever, the stone kind of comes up inside the chain. It’s all internal; you can’t see it. But the stone comes up and it’s positioned to actually grind the teeth and the chainsaw and sharpen it once again. So I thought it was really inventive and just a pretty cool idea.

    So, go to The Money Pit website and search for the OREGON PowerNow Chainsaw. PowerNow is the trademark.

    PAUL: OK, great. I guess the other thing is this might have some application for the guy who juggles chainsaws. Have you seen him?

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, perhaps. You know what I think it’s good for? I think it’s good – if you’re a pro and sometimes you pull up to a house and you’ve got to make a few cuts real quick and you don’t want to get out the gas and the oil and the – all that stuff, you could grab this out of the truck, go make a few cuts for anything that’s maybe 6, 8 inches thick, up to that.

    PAUL: Yeah.

    TOM: You’re good to go. And then – but if you’re going to be working with a chainsaw all day, you’re probably going to use a gas-powered one.

    PAUL: Yeah, yeah.

    TOM: But for small projects around the house, for a homeowner trimming trees and things of that nature, I think it’s perfect.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead, are you tired of fumbling for the light switch in the dark? We’re going to tell you about a sensor that will make walking into a dark room a thing of the past.

    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.

    TOM: Standing by for your call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    We’ve got a great prize we’re giving away to one caller this hour. It’s the Falcon Dust-Off Ultimate Screen Care Kit worth 25 bucks. Basically has everything that you need to keep your electronics sparkly clean, including a cleaning solution designed just for smudges and fingerprints. It also comes with a Shammy cloth, a plasma-screen cloth and more. You can visit FalconSafety.com or call us right now for your chance to win at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    DAN: Hi there. I have a question for you. I have recently purchased a 1920s home.

    TOM: Thank you for personally pulling us out of the recession, Dan.

    DAN: Do what I can.

    TOM: So what’s going on with this beautiful 1920s home?

    DAN: Well, we’re in the process of making it beautiful but I have an upstairs ceiling that has a wet spot and I’ve kind of scuttle-holed it up there, to see what’s going on up there, and the chimney is dripping.

    TOM: OK.

    DAN: And so I got up on the roof and the flashing appears to be fine. And the chimney was – the way they laid the bricks up, they kind of stuffed them and I’m wondering if the mortar is compromised and maybe that brick is leaking.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve already been up on the roof, what I would do is I would – and you think the flashing is fine – I would take a hose and run it around the flashing itself, because I suspect the flashing is not fine. A lot of times the roofers will cut corners with chimney flashing.

    The proper way to do this is to have two pieces: a base flashing and a counter flashing. The base flashing goes under the shingles and lays up against the side of the chimney; the counter flashing gets notched into the mortar joint and then folds over the base flashing. So that kind of works together. And the reason you have two pieces like that is because you’re going to get a lot of movement – expansion and contraction – and it doesn’t pull the flashing away.

    Another thing to check is up on top of the chimney: the concrete cap that’s going to be between the flue liner and the end of the brick. Make sure that that’s solid. Very often it will crack and you’ll need to caulk it or fill gaps in around there.

    And the third thing that you could do is you could use a masonry sealer on that brick and that will slow down the absorption of it. You want to make sure you choose one that’s vapor-permeable so that the moisture can get in and get out of the brick. And this will prevent the possibility of it freezing and spalling or breaking up in the wintertime. OK, Dan?

    DAN: OK. Vapor-permeable.

    TOM: Vapor-permeable, yep. Most of them are today. Just double-check.

    DAN: Alright. Very good. I appreciate that.

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

    Well, it’s time now for today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron, makers of the Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch, a really cool product that solves a unique situation in most anyone’s home.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you’re right. You know, what we’re talking about is the Lutron Maestro Occupancy Sensor. And it’s a great way to save energy, because it’s going to automatically turn your lights on when you enter the room and off when you leave, which is great for both hands-free convenience and energy savings. It’s really perfect for rooms where lights tend to get left on, like a kid’s room. It’s also great for rooms that you walk into with your hands full, like the laundry room.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, we use one in a storeroom that we have where we keep sort of our canned goods and things like that. And we are always – and when I say “we,” I mean the royal “we,” because I never do this but the kids do. They are always leaving the lights on in that room. And since it’s a room that we don’t use that often, I have it set to go off one minute after there’s no more motion in the room, so it never stays on now.

    It goes and automatically comes on; when you leave the room, it goes off like a minute later. And it’s really got a cool sensing technology that does that. Plus, it has a patented detector that actually senses the level of natural light in the room, so it doesn’t come on during the day. And that’s a huge energy saver right there.

    It’s also important to note that the switch works with all types of light bulbs – so CFLs, LEDs, incandescents, you name it – without any special wiring. And it’s got a very neat, very high-tech, sleek design that blends well with any kind of décor.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think it’s an important sidebar: the Lutron Maestro Occupancy Sensor, it’s made to work in either a small room or a large room; you just pick the model that works for you. And they all include a manual option.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, that’s neat because you can use that in a bedroom where the kids, for example, have to turn the light on. But if there’s no more movement in the room, it’ll go off, so they can’t leave the light on even in the room when they, say, leave for school during the day. Don’t ask me how I know that but I have lots and lots of experience.

    And that is today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron. Easy upgrades, big impact. Choose Lutron. Learn more at ChooseLutron.com.

    LESLIE: Aaron in Iowa is having a hard time getting a hot bath. Tell us what’s going on.

    AARON: Well, we’ve got the sink up in our master bath on the second floor of our house that takes a good couple minutes in order to get some hot water to. Just thinking of options. I guess maybe an under-sink, instant hot water might be an option. And just trying to figure out the easiest way to get that accomplished.

    TOM: Yeah, well, of course it’s a function of distance, Aaron. It has to do with how far your master bedroom/bathroom is from the water heater and that’s why you have to wait that long a time.

    Now, the option is to add another heater in that space. You could do that with an electric tankless heater or you could do that with a gas tankless heater. Because it’s just that one bathroom, I think an electric would probably be OK. They even had some that add – they run on 110 volts, that can handle those small projects like that.

    But if it’s going to be a heavy use, then what you might want to do is add a tankless water heater. But keep in mind, by doing this you basically are splitting your hot water into two circuits. Because right now it’s one circuit that feeds from the – wherever the water heater is. You’re going to split it into two.

    And you also really have to think about the cost-effectiveness of doing this. Sure, we hate to waste all that water but I just wonder if …

    AARON: Now I’ve got the electricity side of things to deal with.

    TOM: Well, you’ve got the electricity, you’ve got the cost of the equipment. And it’s instant but I’m sure that it’ll be more expensive than just the little bit of water that you waste every time waiting for it to heat up.

    AARON: OK. Yeah, that was the biggest question as far as the …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s kind of an annoyance; it’s a design issue. But you really have to think about whether it’s worth putting in that second water heater.

    AARON: Yeah, I didn’t know how small those instant water heaters came with what size …

    TOM: They’re pretty small; they can fit inside a bathroom cabinet. But there’s going to be an expense to it. So price it out; you make your decision based on that.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, design trends to help you sell your home. We’ll tell you what you need to know, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit has been 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, makes replacing your old, drafty windows easy with the new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Available at The Home Depot.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: You know, if you have anything in your home that needs staining, you might just want to raid your kitchen. Why? Because many foods can be used as a natural, non-toxic stain. It’s actually one of the most popular articles we have on our website. Check out all of the recipes there. The article is called “Natural Non-Toxic Stains” and you will be able to learn more how to mix up a few for your money pit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can go to the Community section at MoneyPit.com and post a question. And I’ve got one here from Kate in Texas who wrote: “I have an old, ceramic-tile floor in my bathroom. A couple of tiles are chipped but I’m sure the manufacturer isn’t making the pattern anymore. Is there anything I can do, short of putting in a whole new floor?”

    TOM: Well, let’s see. What you can do is select some tiles that compliment what you have, right, Leslie? You’ve got a few that are chipped. Couldn’t you just remove those and a few more to kind of create the effect of almost a mosaic kind of an effect and then put tiles in that compliment that?

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it doesn’t even have to be as artsy and adventurous as something mosaic. It could be – it really depends, Kate, on where these damaged tiles are, how many of them. Does it sort of lend itself to a pattern? Are they spaced out? Because you could do something as just a strategic tile placement, like in the center of a group of four. Or you can do a stripe or you can do a random here and there of a glass tile or something fun.

    It really gives you an opportunity to be creative and it can sort of boost the décor level of this bathroom into current design standards, which could be something fun. So it’s really up to you. You’ve got to see where these tiles are and what that kind of pattern will lend itself to if you start thinking creatively.

    And as far as removing the other tiles, Tom, does all she need to use is a RotoZip or some sort of grout saw to sort of cut around the tile and then pop that guy up?

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. I mean you could use a masonry drill to kind of get started, too. You could poke a few holes in the tile and then chip them out once you have the holes to kind of chip into, until you break it out. And you kind of have to do – like I call a “surgical extraction” of the tile so you don’t damage anything that’s around it. But you can do it.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one from Van in Idaho. “Can you tell me how to prevent icicles from forming on my roof?”

    TOM: Ah, yes. You need better insulation, Van. If you don’t have, say, 15 to 20 inches of insulation in your attic and proper soffit ventilation, what will happen is the warmth from the house will get up, settle, melt the snow. It will run down the roof. When it gets to the overhang, it will freeze and cause icicles. Very pretty but it basically means your attic is not well-insulated. Add more and they will magically go away.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that. You’re going to miss them, though. They’re really pretty.

    TOM: Well, we see home trends come and we see them go. But it seems some changes are definitely here to stay. Leslie has the low-down, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. If you plan to put your home on the market anytime soon, there are a few key design trends that you should be aware of, to help you sell your home as quickly as possible.

    The key word you’ve got to remember is “flexibility.” Your rooms in your home, they need to be able to be easily converted into another kind of space. Potential buyers, they want to see that they can accommodate somebody who works from home, an aging parent, a boomerang child, say, returning after college. All of these need to be options that are considerable and have a place to work in your home.

    You also need to be thinking about universal design. Baby boomers, they’re aging. Not only are they caring for elderly parents, they also want to know that their home can accommodate them as their needs change with age. So be flexible and you’ll see that those offers start to come in.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up next week on the program, we’re going to talk about driveway repair. Oil stains, cracks, frost heave, all these things can turn your beautiful driveway into quite a frightful mess. We’ll have tips on how to make it all disappear, the easy way, 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 2012 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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