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New Year Resolutions for Your Home, Protect Children from Identity Theft, Store Away Holiday Decorations 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: Happy New Year, everybody. It’s time to kiss 2011 goodbye and say, “Hello, 2012.” We’re going to help you get started on the right home improvement projects this year if you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We would love to talk to you about what you have on your to-do list for 2012.

    If you hit the jackpot with new electronics as holiday gifts this year, good for you. But here’s a question: what do you do with all the old stuff? We’ve got some great advice this hour on how you can recycle your E-trash and maybe make some money along the way.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, making home improvements that can stand the tough weather ahead takes some planning. We’ve got advice from This Old House landscaping expert, Roger Cook, on how to build a paved or even a brick walkway that can stand up to the freezing climates.

    TOM: Plus, did you treat yourself to a fresh-cut tree for the holidays? Has it now turned into a needle-dropping dilemma? It’s happened to so many of us and unfortunately, many communities no longer haul away those fresh-cut trees after the holidays. That’s why, this hour, we’ve got a way that you can give your tree a second life.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a bamboo workbench from Gladiator GarageWorks. And that’s going to help you organize all of those brand new tools you got this holiday season.

    TOM: It’s a great prize and a great way to start off your next home improvement project. If you’d like to win, pick up the phone and call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. It’s worth over 300 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Patricia in Oregon is working on a tool shed. How can we help you?

    PATRICIA: Well, the tool shed is – has been established and has been standing for probably 15 years and it’s in need of a new roof.

    TOM: Has it served you well as the home for many of your tools for projects all those years?

    PATRICIA: Yeah, it’s great. It works as a tack barn and a wood shed and a tool shed. And it’s definitely a good addition to the home and property.

    TOM: Alright. So we want to take care of it. So you’re looking at a roof for it.

    PATRICIA: Yeah. The reason I was calling is because I – in the Northwest here where we live, where it gets a lot of rain and problems with mold and that kind of thing, I see some of our neighbors have gone to these metal roofs. And I’ve heard that they’re quite expensive but I thought I would call and get your opinion as to whether or not it seems worth it.

    TOM: Well, if it’s a sturdy tool shed and one that’s going to be around for a long time, if you put a metal roof on it, it’s pretty much going to be the only roof you’ll ever need. I will say that the metal roofs have become a little less expensive over time. And because it’s a very small building, it certainly could be a do-it-yourself project.

    You know, you could simply use a corrugated metal roof for that. There are dozens of corrugated patterns to choose from. It’s not terribly expensive – it will be more expensive than asphalt – but it’s going to be a roof that’s going to last the life of that building.

    PATRICIA: OK. Do you think it’s important for the – an outbuilding roof to match the roof of the home?

    TOM: Depends. Is it in the back of the house?

    PATRICIA: Yeah, it is but we’re kind of exposed all the way around. It’s in a rural area.

    TOM: It’s kind of a – it’s a décor question, I think, more than anything else or a style question more than anything else. But if – a lot of times, folks have sheds that totally mimic the look and the feel of the exteriors in their home. If that’s something you’d like to do, then maybe you want to make them consistent. But from a structural perspective, I think the metal roof will give you many years of protection.

    PATRICIA: What about from an investment one? Do you think that’s a …?

    TOM: If it was on your house, I’d say that it would definitely be a valuable addition to your house. The fact that it’s on a tool shed, I don’t think we could necessarily prove that a metal roof on a tool shed over an asphalt roof on a tool shed has ever had any reflection on the value of a property.

    LESLIE: Right.


    TOM: I mean it certainly could make it more attractive if you have that kind of a buyer but I don’t necessarily think it will impact your home’s value one way or the other.

    PATRICIA: OK. Very good. Alright. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Michael in Kentucky is on the line and he’s got a question about a gazebo. What can we do for you today?

    MICHAEL: Oh, well, I wanted to try and find a way to use my gazebo during the winter. It gets kind of cold here in Kentucky and the gazebo is made out of wood. And I’m looking to put a fire-pit kind of thing but I don’t want to use the wood, because it’s made out of wood; I don’t want it to go up in flames.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. That’s wise. But your gazebo probably has a roof on it, right?

    MICHAEL: Yeah, it has a roof.

    TOM: Yeah, so you can’t really put a fire under it. You just – because unless it’s a tepee with a big hole in the top, there’s no place for the smoke to go. You’re going to collect a lot of heat up there and it’s really generally a bad idea.

    So really, the question is how can you heat your gazebo in the winter months. And there’s a good reason we don’t heat gazebos in winter months, because they’re not really designed to be enclosed.

    MICHAEL: So, I guess it’s kind of an out-of-the-question kind of thing then.

    TOM: It would seem. Typically, if you want to put some sort of a heating system onto your deck, then you could use a fire pit. And you could design it or even have a – like we have a fire – a portable sort of fire – pit that we wheel out onto the patio and put a couple of logs in there. But when you’re in a gazebo like that, you can’t create a fire because you’re going to burn the roof down.

    So it’s a hard space to use. If you had an open patio area or maybe an open area of your yard, Michael, that would be a smarter place to create a gathering place where you could actually really build a true fire pit.

    There’s a great article online on our website on how to build a fire pit. There’s also a radio show that we did with Roger Cook from This Old House where he gave us his tips on how to build a fire pit.

    MICHAEL: OK. So, basically, it’d probably be a better thing to put maybe outside of my gazebo.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Gazebos are just not intended to be enclosed.

    MICHAEL: Well, that sounds like it answers my question pretty well.

    TOM: Alright, Michael. 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. Happy New Year, everyone. I hope that 2012 is everything that you and your family dream of. And if you’re dreaming of some home improvement projects, give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’d love to give you a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Coming up, we’ve got tips on how you can recycle all those old electronics and make room for all the new gadgets you scored over the holidays.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

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    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 on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And why don’t you become part of The Money Pit fun by picking up the phone and giving us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT? We’re going to help you with your home improvement projects but we’re also going to give away a great prize to one lucky caller.

    We’ve got up for grabs, on this first show of the new year, the Gladiator Bamboo Modular Workbench. And it’s made of one of nature’s strongest and most renewable materials. It’s made of solid bamboo. It’s got a great work surface with a UV-cured, protective coating and a heavy-duty, tubular steel-leg system that’s going to stand up to any project.

    The Gladiator Bamboo Modular Workbench is worth more than 300 bucks but it could be yours for free, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. One caller to today’s program is going to win that great workbench from our friends at Gladiator.

    Hey, if you’re looking for a way to get rid of old electronics and make some room for the new ones you scored this holiday season, you are in luck. There are a growing number of ways to turn E-trash into treasure.

    First, there are several websites now that will allow you to mail in the used electronics for a check or a PayPal deposit. For example, take a look at Gazelle.com. They accept old cell phones, cameras, even DVDs. But don’t hold onto your stuff for too long or it could lose its value.

    And in addition, there are several national retailers that will let you trade in future purchases, including places like Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, Walmart and a bunch of others. Just ask about sell-back programs at any of the retailers that you go to.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, another idea is to donate that old desktop computer or cell phone to a charity and you can take a tax deduction. So check your local YMCA or even a Boys & Girls Clubs or a shelter.

    And finally, if you just want to be rid of your stuff or it’s too old to really even be good to anybody, look into recycling programs so that you can get rid of electronics properly, especially if they have batteries, which you are not supposed to just toss into your household trash. They need to be recycled, so do your research before you just pitch something.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let us help you research your next home improvement project. Give us a call right now.

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

    ALAN: Oh, yes. Hi. First, I’d like to say I appreciate your show and always enjoy listening to it and learning things.

    TOM: Well, thanks, Alan. What’s going on in your house?

    ALAN: Got basically a house that’s divided in two by a wall.

    TOM: OK.

    ALAN: And on the one side is the living room, office and entryway. The living room has a fireplace insert in it.

    TOM: OK.

    ALAN: And the living room runs too warm and on the other side of the wall, where the kitchen/dining area is, runs too cool. How can I get some of that heat from the warm side to the cool side?

    TOM: Well, the fireplace is not designed to be a central-heating system so, obviously, it’s going to be hotter in the rooms where – that are closer to the fireplace. That’s the difference between a fireplace and a centralized heating system, because the centralized systems distribute the heat evenly.

    Now, that said, if you were to add, perhaps, some openings – some additional openings – or if you were to add, say, a – you know what might be cool is a duct booster but not really with a duct. What a duct booster is is a fan that fits in the side of a standard register – a duct register.

    ALAN: Sure.

    TOM: It’s designed to fit inside of it. And if you had a hole in that wall between the two and you put this duct booster in it, it would basically be a fan that was on 24-7 that blew air from one side to the other. And so if you did something like that, that moved air from the hotter area into the cooler area, then you may be able to balance out a little bit.

    But understand that you’re trying to do something that’s non-conventional. The fireplace in a …

    ALAN: Non-conventional doesn’t bother me.

    TOM: OK. A fireplace in a really old house, before we had central-heating systems, was in the middle of the home for a reason, because then it did heat the entire house. But in a modern house, when we have it on the end of the house, it’s not going to get throughout to the whole house. It’s not really something that it’s designed to do. You can kind of help it along if you provide that path for the warm air to move to the cooler spaces.

    ALAN: Here’s my thought: opening up and putting a vent in high, just somewhere near the fireplace, and drawing air down through between two studs and bringing it out low on the other side and maybe a duct booster in that kind of a situation or some other kind of a vent fan.

    TOM: Possibly. Yeah, possibly, if you mounted the duct booster on the kitchen side – the colder side – and then the register on the fireplace side becomes a return. Yeah, that’s possible.

    What kind of heat do you have in your house?

    ALAN: We have a heat pump but it’s very ineffective when you get below about 32 degrees.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, they are, they are.

    ALAN: And then you’ve got backup heat, electric.

    TOM: Yeah, right. Yeah, I see, I see. Do you have a space heater or anything like that on the other room?

    ALAN: Yes. And I’d just as soon take advantage of some of this heat, if I can, that we’re generating in the other side.

    TOM: Sure, I understand. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    Have you ever thought about – is it possible to put an additional doorway in between the two spaces? Would that make any design sense?

    ALAN: Probably not, in this case.

    TOM: OK. Well, I mean those are your options.

    Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that there is such a thing as a wood furnace.

    ALAN: Oh, sure.

    TOM: There are furnaces that are designed to heat on wood – that heat with wood – and have duct systems and the blowers that move the air through. So there may be some other alternative to that heat pump.

    Do you have natural gas in your area or is that just not a possibility?

    ALAN: Not here.

    TOM: Not here, huh?

    ALAN: My druthers are geothermal but that’s just druthers.

    TOM: Yeah. But that’s a big investment.

    ALAN: Exactly.

    TOM: Even with the rebates, it’s a big-dollar amount. OK?

    ALAN: Oh. But over a period of time, it’s a good return, too.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely.

    ALAN: Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Kelly in West Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you with your winterization project?

    KELLY: Well, I guess my biggest thing is I am hoping to live with my son during the winter months. And so, what I need to do to make sure my home is winterized – my pipes aren’t going to freeze and that kind of stuff when I’m gone.

    TOM: So, Kelly, are you going to turn the heat off?

    KELLY: I would think I would turn it down; I don’t think I’d turn it off. Here in West Virginia, easy to …

    TOM: Right. Well, I’m trying to determine what level of winterization advice you need. If you’re going to turn the heat down, there are a few things that you’re going to want to do.

    First of all, you’re obviously going to turn the water off to the building. You would do that at the main. The second thing that you would do is you would be sure to close off any hose bibs that go through the wall so that those pipes don’t freeze and break. You’re also going to want to add antifreeze to all of the fixtures. So you would put some in the tank of the toilet and in the bowl of the toilet and a little bit in all of the drains of the house. This is why – the reason we do this is because if you did lose heat and everything froze, at least those fixtures would not crack.

    Now, you may want to look into a freeze-alert system. There are different types of monitors out there that can monitor your house for a temperature differential and if it drops below a certain temperature, actually alerts you.

    Is there going to be somebody that can kind of keep an eye on your house every once in a while for you while you’re away?

    KELLY: Yeah, there – I have friends that could pop in.

    TOM: OK. I think it’s a real good idea for somebody to check it every once in a while. But turning the water off before you leave is going to make sure that if anything happens to those pipes and you get a burst, that the only water that’s going to leak out is what’s actually contained in the pipe; it’s not just going to run and run and run and run. You understand?

    KELLY: Mm-hmm. Should I – when I close off the water at the main, should I run the water through the sink and stuff just to get out as much out of the lines as possible?

    TOM: Well, certainly, you could open up all of the faucets. You know, the best way to do this is to actually have all the pipes drained.

    In our part of the country, there’s a lot of folks that have homes they close up for the winter. And what they’ll do is they’ll drain all the water out of the pipes, a plumber will come in and usually blow compressed air through the plumbing system so that all the water gets out of the house. And then they completely turn the heat off for the whole season.

    Now, there is a risk in doing that and that is that you’re going to have moisture that kind of builds up in the house. And you will find that sometimes, wallpaper can fall off the walls or doors can swell or that sort of thing can happen. So I do think it’s a good idea to keep the heat on at a minimum. But if you want to be super-conservative, you could have all the water drained from the pipes.

    And in fact, if you’re going to take that step with a plumber, you may ask the plumber, while they’re there, if there’s a possibility that they could put in a drain valve to the plumbing system. Because, typically, what they’ll do is at the lowest part of the plumbing arrangement, they’ll tap in a new valve so that it – basically, if you open up all the faucets in the house and then open up that valve, that any water that’s in those lines will completely drain out due to gravity.

    KELLY: OK. That’s real helpful. I thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Kelly. Good luck with that project and enjoy the warmer months in California.

    KELLY: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Jim in North Carolina has a question about insulation. How can we help you with that?

    JIM: Hi. I went to a seminar and they brought out some stuff that looked like heavy-duty aluminum foil kind of a thing that they talked about lining the house and the attic with.

    TOM: Yep.

    JIM: And it would be so good on cutting your expenses down and all of that.

    TOM: Yeah. Was that seminar paid for by the radiant-barrier manufacturer?

    JIM: Yes.

    TOM: Just took a guess, Jim.

    LESLIE: And on your way out the door, you could buy a whole bunch of it.

    JIM: Yeah. And they wouldn’t take any money right then but they would definitely come to your house afterwards.

    TOM: Of course not. Oh, yeah. Setting you up for the hard close, buddy.

    JIM: And I thought they could buy me a dinner but I’m not necessarily going to buy snake oil because I get bought a dinner.

    TOM: Well, look, can radiant barriers save you energy? Yes. But it’s still somewhat of an unproven technology as far as I’m concerned.

    JIM: OK.

    TOM: And I think that there are much better ways for you to reduce your energy consumption inside your house than using radiant barrier.

    JIM: I was wondering, too, about the moisture buildup. Here in North Carolina, we get a lot of humidity.

    TOM: Right.

    JIM: And I thought if you trap all that in the house …

    TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s another reason. It’s very difficult to put it in in an existing house, too, because you’ve got all those issues to contend with. But the thing – the basic things that you can check, Jim, is to make sure in your attic that you have 19 to 22 inches of insulation – that’s really critical – and then to make sure you have plenty of ventilation.

    How old is your house, Jim?

    JIM: You know, I’m not sure. It’s an older house.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: There are two whirligigs up on the ….

    TOM: Ah, the whirligigs look pretty but they don’t – they’re not very effective as a ventilation strategy.

    JIM: Oh, my wife just told me it was made in 1981.

    TOM: OK. Well, go to our website and look up “ridge and soffit ventilation.” And you’ll see some articles there where we talk about the fact that a good vent, like a ridge vent at the peak of the roof, and then another one at the soffit kind of work together. Because air enters at the soffit, rides up underneath the roof sheathing, takes out moisture in the winter and heat in the summer and then exits at the ridge. That’s a real effective, 24-7 ventilation strategy for an attic. Those two things, I think, will do a lot more for you in terms of energy savings than a radiant barrier.

    JIM: So I don’t need to wrap my house in aluminum foil.

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: No, no. Not at all.

    JIM: Thank you very much.

    TOM: The foil is good for baking a turkey and things like that but as far as your house, not so much.

    JIM: Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Jim. 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. If you’ve ever noticed uneven bricks or pavers on walkways in your neighborhood, it might be because of the weather where you live. Still ahead, we’re going to tell you how to install a walkway, for a freezing climate, that’s going to stay put.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene spray-foam insulation. Icynene fills the spaces other insulations miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings. Learn more and find a dealer at Icynene.com. I-c-y-n-e-n-e.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: And if winter gets harsh where you are, you can get armed with all the info that you need to be prepared, including what you need to know to prevent winter’s worst, like ice dams, snow damage and frozen pipes. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Justin in Kentucky is on the line and is calling in about three wood decks around his money pit, which equals a whole heck of a lot of work.

    Welcome, Justin.

    JUSTIN: Hello. Me and my wife are wanting to remove the paint from our decks that are on their (inaudible at 0:22:07) right now and try to get the original wood’s look.

    TOM: OK.

    JUSTIN: But we have had problems with that. We’ve tried using a pressure washer and that has actually ate into the wood a couple times. And so, I then went to sanding and gave up on that pretty quick; that was taking quite a bit of time. And we have since painted over but now the paint is peeling off. The new paint is peeling off but the old paint is still right there. I was curious – have any recommendations on how to remove paint from wood?

    LESLIE: Is it actually paint or is it more of a solid stain?

    JUSTIN: It is a paint.

    LESLIE: So it’s actually paint. I mean really, what you’re going to have to do to get the paint off of that is to use a stripping agent, like a chemical product that’s meant to be rolled on, sit there, eat away the paint, remove it from the surface and then you pressure-wash that away. I think the issue you’ve had with the pressure washer that’s given you some damage to the lumber itself is that maybe you were a little too aggressive with your pressure-washing technique. Because the pressure washer can damage and can splinter the surface, as you’ve found out.

    So start with a good stripper. A lot of people make them: Behr, pretty much anybody. Go to the home center; you can find one. Flood, Behr, they all make good ones. Apply it the way that it says to be applied, let it sit there, pressure-wash it off. You may need to come in and sand a couple of problem areas where you can’t get that paint off.

    And then rather than putting a paint on, I would go with a solid stain, only because a paint sits on top of the surface of the wood and a stain is going to sort of penetrate into the structure of the wood itself. And it’ll apply the color more deeper into the strips of lumber, so it’s going to stay there. So you’ll probably get better results.

    But with a wood deck, you’re going to have to refinish it probably in three to five years, because that’s just how long it lasts.

    JUSTIN: That helps. I will try that.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking of installing a new walkway, there are things to consider beyond the prettiest materials, especially if you live in a climate where frost is a problem.

    TOM: That’s right. And when soil freezes, it expands and it can lift and even break apart walkways, patios, sidewalks or driveways. But that won’t happen if it’s built right. Landscaping contractor, Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House is here to tell us how.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me.

    TOM: Now, when we build a foundation, we’re accustomed to digging down below that frost line to make sure the foundation won’t move. But with a walkway, it’s not always possible to dig down that deep, nor would you want to. How do we keep that from moving?

    ROGER: Well, whenever I build a walkway or a driveway or any sort of paving area, I like to go down a foot. I take out 12 inches of material. Usually, you get topsoil in the top 6 to 8 inches but I want to go down and make sure I’m below that topsoil level. Usually, the topsoil is brown and it holds moisture.

    TOM: Draining is really the key here.

    ROGER: Right. That moisture is what’s going to freeze and expand and move your walkway. So we dig down a foot. We usually put in what’s called “pack.” And pack is a combination of stone dust and ¾-inch stone. And we bring that up in 3-inch lifts. In other words, we put down 3 inches; then we take a compactor, pack it down and keep working our way up.

    The great thing about pack is it packs up hard, where it’s a good, great base for the walkway but it drains; it lets that water get out from underneath the walkway.

    LESLIE: Now, I know a lot of people talk about – when we’re discussing base prep, they talk about the frost line. You want to be below the frost line. How do you know where the frost line is? Is that a visual cue? Is it something you know by region or like you mention, is it just “OK, I’ve seen the change in the soil and now I’m good”?

    ROGER: Below the frost line only pertains to concrete walls and footings for your house. No one is going to dig down here in New England 4 feet deep for a walkway to get below the frost line, OK?


    ROGER: So that’s where picking the material comes into place in how you put the walkway in. I like to do walkways and patios dry, which means there’s no mortar and no cement involved there, set on the pack on an inch of stone dust and then the final top piece is put in.

    If you look – put in a concrete walkway, it doesn’t – it can’t move. It structurally – it cracks. Pavers can move but they’re set in stone dust and if worse comes to worse they do move too much, you can reset them again by just scraping out a little stone dust and putting it back. You can’t do that with a concrete walkway.

    TOM: So does that make pavers a much better choice for a harsh climate than – compared to, say, concrete?

    ROGER: It does in my mind. Up here in New England, concrete is bound to fail sooner or later. In warmer climates, it’s a perfect solution: it’s very efficient to go down, cost effective and will last forever in areas like Florida.

    TOM: Now, what about sealers once the project is done? Do you think it’s a good idea to put some sort of a sealer on a paver? Does that actually help slow down the absorption of water or does it let the water in and trap it?

    ROGER: No, it definitely helps keep water from getting in. But what I tell everyone is to take a couple of bricks, seal them first and see if you like the look. Because it’s a total different look; it tends to be like the pavers are wet or shiny, so …

    LESLIE: Oh, it gives it almost a gloss.

    ROGER: Right. So make sure you look at some before you do the whole walkway and then decide you don’t like the look.

    And there is a reapplication thing; it doesn’t – it isn’t one application that lasts forever.

    TOM: So there is some maintenance involved; it has to be repeated from time to time.

    ROGER: Right, exactly.

    TOM: Good advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House. He’s a guy that knows how to build it once, build it right so you really don’t have to build it over and over and over again.

    Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: It’s my pleasure.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.

    Still ahead, we’re going to tell you about a very green way to give your fresh-cut Christmas tree a second life after the holidays.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to 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: Happy New Year, everybody. Give us a call right now. We’ll start your New Year’s off right because this hour, we’re giving away a $300 bamboo modular workbench from our pals over at Gladiator GarageWorks. There is plenty of space underneath to dock two Gladiator, ready-to-assemble modules. It’s got a heavy-duty set of steel tubular legs. It’s going to stand up to any project.

    And new from Gladiator GarageWorks, they’ve got an interactive online tool called the Design Studio that can totally help you design your garage storage space. You can visit GladiatorGW.com to learn more about that.

    But pick up the phone right now, join the program. Tell us about your home improvement project: the one that you’re going to tackle this year. Maybe it’s a New Year’s resolution for your home. Let us help you get it done at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, a traditional part of the post-Christmas cleanup has been leaving your old Christmas tree on the curbside for your local garbage collector to pick up and tote to the landfill. Well, more and more often these days, however, landfills are off-limits to Christmas trees and most other foliage or even yard waste.

    Now, if your local landfill refuses to take your Christmas tree, then you might be interested to know that many local arborists are offering Christmas-tree recycling services.

    TOM: Not only do recycled Christmas trees save on landfill space, they also provide much-needed and very good-quality mulch for the professional and amateur gardeners.

    Now, the National Arborists website can actually help you locate disposal sites in your area. Their website is NatlArb.com. That’s N-a-t-l-A-r-b.com.

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

    ROGER: I have a home and it has a lot of paneling in it. That is a product called luan.

    TOM: Yes, mm-hmm.

    ROGER: And at one time, I had some remodeling done and there was a divider between living room, dining room and kitchen. And they took that off and we put sheetrock and sprayed it and then painted it. But there’s still quite a bit in. It’s a split-level entryway, a hallway and then two of the bedrooms. And I was wondering if there was any other application could do instead of having it all taken off and sheetrock put on and …

    TOM: Have you considered painting the paneling?

    ROGER: Yeah, well, that was my question.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: Before, I thought – I listened to your program and I thought it would be a good question to ask (inaudible at 0:31:11).

    TOM: It is a good question and it’s definitely a doable project.

    ROGER: OK.

    TOM: And so many of us are stuck with paneling that’s been put up over the last decades.

    ROGER: Sure.

    TOM: And there’s no reason you can’t paint it. The key is to make sure that you get a good, even coat and so priming is especially important, even though there’s a finished surface and it’s not the kind of material that’s going to absorb. But if you prime it first, then you can paint it.

    And I think that we’ve even seen some folks, depending on the style of the paneling, do it with …

    LESLIE: And the room.

    TOM: And the room. Do it with multiple colors or complementary colors, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it really depends. You can make it work. Obviously, there’s a built-in stripe for you. It depends on how you use the space and what your style is, whether you’re going to go with that or not.

    Generally, I find that the crispest, cleanest look when you’re painting over paneling is a glossy white.

    ROGER: OK.

    LESLIE: For some reason, that just gives you a good, neutral base. It really pops. It makes the paneling look not offensive.

    ROGER: Right.

    LESLIE: And it’s wearable, if you will. It’s something that’ll work with any sort of décor.

    ROGER: Mm-hmm. And now, between the paneling – each panel – there is a wooden strip, which would probably – I would take off but – and then that would have to be probably a little gap in there and would have to be filled?

    LESLIE: Yeah. If you fill it, though, on a wall surface, that’s never going to stick.

    ROGER: OK.

    TOM: Why don’t you work the strip into the design? It’ll give you a little depth to it, a little texture to it.

    ROGER: OK, we can do that, too. Sure.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Once everything goes white, it sort of just becomes one.

    ROGER: Blends right in. Right, right.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    ROGER: Well, I appreciate your input. Any particular brand or type of primer you would use?

    TOM: I would use a KILZ oil-based primer on the wood.

    ROGER: OK.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. It’s a little bit more of a hassle to put on but I think it’s going to dry nice, flow well and you’ll be really pleased with the top coat – with the condition of the top coat after you put the paint on.

    ROGER: And then latex would go over that?

    TOM: Latex can go on top of that, yep. Mm-hmm.

    ROGER: OK. OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    ROGER: Well, listen, thank you very much. I appreciate your answer.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Roger. Good luck with that project in Chippewa Falls. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Mary in Delaware is thinking of taking on a stucco project. How can we help you with the job?

    MARY: I’ve got some stucco problems and I don’t know whether it’s good to have it done now or to wait until the spring.

    TOM: Well, what’s going on with the stucco?

    MARY: Well, it’s starting to peel off. It’s kind of in places down – like they were in back of bushes that I trimmed down and it’s come away from the cinder block.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. Well, in the wintertime, when you get a lot of moisture that gets behind the stucco and it freezes and sort of peels away or expands and chips off, that’s when you’re going to get the most damage. So you might want to wait until the spring or the summer or in the early fall to do a project like that, because you’re going to get the best adhesion.

    MARY: Oh, OK.

    TOM: You’ll have better, warmer, drier temperatures for application. The repair is going to depend on how big of a damaged area you have. If it’s just some small areas that need to be patched, you’re probably going to use an epoxy patching compound. If it’s a larger area, really big space, then you’re going to probably use more of a stucco product and not a patching compound and basically replace what’s there.

    MARY: OK.

    TOM: It’s really a job for someone that’s very handy or a professional.

    MARY: Oh, I already have someone in mind.

    TOM: Alright. Well, then, I think maybe you want to put that project off to the spring. It’ll look great all summer long.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still to come, one of the most common dishwasher dilemmas is water that won’t drain from the bottom. For that, though, you don’t need a costly repair or even a replacement. We’re going to tell you what you do need, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Hometalk.com. Join Tom and Leslie on Hometalk.com and log on to become part of the community of folks who love taking care of their homes, at Hometalk.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. And why don’t you get connected with The Money Pit when you “fan” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter? You can get home improvement tweets sent directly to your computer or your mobile device and also learn about special features coming up on the show. Just follow @MoneyPit or search “money pit” on Facebook and you’ll find us there.

    TOM: You can also win cool stuff.

    LESLIE: Totally. And we’re going to let you know what the prizes are and who won, so check us out on a daily basis.

    And you know what? While you’re online, you can e-mail us or post your question. And I’ve got one here from Kay in New York who wrote: “My dishwasher always has a small amount of water left in the bottom at the end of a wash cycle. I suspect that the filter at the bottom of the unit may be blocked and need cleaning. Is there any safe way to get inside the little plastic cage at the bottom of the unit to clean it out?”

    TOM: You know, you may not have to. Because the typical reason that water stays in the bottom of the dishwasher after the cycle is a clogged drain line in the dishwasher. This is the – typically a black hose that goes from the dishwasher up into the drain underneath your kitchen sink or into your …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Up to the sink.

    TOM: Yeah or into the side of the garbage disposer.

    So, what I would do is turn power off – not run water, not run dishwasher – and pull that hose out from where it connects to the sink and take a look inside. You may find that it’s all scummed up and guzz-scuzzed (ph) up with dishwasher debris and food particles and all that.

    LESLIE: That sounds gross.

    TOM: I was trying to figure out a nice way to say it but let’s just say it gets pretty dirty. You need to clean that out. And if you do, it’ll drain fully the next time you run the dishwasher.

    LESLIE: Alright. Gross, Kay. Get under that sink and get ready for some scuzzy tubing. Ugh. Good words, Tom.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got Sally in Michigan who posted: “Our water heater is a long way from the kitchen sink and dishwasher. We’d like to put something inline under the sink or in the basement to give us hot water until the hot water from the water heater reaches the sink. What do you suggest?”

    TOM: Well, I mean you can put a recirculating system in that constantly takes water from the water heater and moves it through the hot-water pipes in the house. But it runs all the time and it’s expensive. And because you’re going to be circulating a lot more water back to the water heater, your water heater is going to run more of the time and that’s going to be expensive, too.

    The real way that you change this is you short-cycle the distance between the water heater and the dishwasher itself or the sink itself by splitting the plumbing system into two, essentially, and using tankless water heaters. Because they’re small, you can put one closer to the action in the kitchen and perhaps a bathroom on the first floor – that kind of thing – and then another one maybe on your second floor, if that’s the way your house is configured, to get water quickly to the bathrooms up there.

    Other than that, I really wouldn’t recommend putting in a recirculating system, because I think it’s going to actually end up costing you more in terms of energy to operate.

    LESLIE: Way more to operate.

    TOM: Exactly right.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that.

    Now I’ve got a quick one here from Carol in Philadelphia who writes: “I have a green substance forming on an outside brick wall, below my flat roof, at every spot where the roof meets the brick wall. Do you have any ideas?”

    TOM: Well, I’ll say this: where the roof meets the brick wall – she’s probably talking about what we call the parapet wall; that’s the sidewall – it’s going to be colder there than the wall above where the roof doesn’t hit, because it’s connected to the rest of the sort of structure of the building.

    So I suspect what you’re getting is more condensation in those spots. You’re getting probably some plant growth that’s sticking to the outside and that’s growing into green moss. So I would simply remove that and treat this as a maintenance issue. And clean it with a siding wash and that should make it come away.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what, Carol? You can also use bleach and water. Just be sure to cover any sort of plantings below and that’ll really do the trick.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. And Happy New Year, everybody. We hope it is a wonderful, wonderful year for you and your family.

    And remember, as you move through the year, when you have a home improvement question, please call us, trust us. We are here to help you get the project done. Short of standing by and handing you the tools, we will talk you through the project and help you make the right choices as you plan your work in your home, your money pit: the one that you love this coming year.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)


    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete


    (promo/theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. And may we say, Happy New Year’s, everybody. It’s been such a pleasure to be the source that you turn to for your home improvement questions for the last dozen years. And we are all ready to start another year and I’m really excited.

    And Leslie, it occurred to me today that depending on whether you’re hearing the show on Saturday or Sunday, this is either the last show we’ve done in 2011 or the first show we’ve done for 2012.

    But regardless, we’re here to help you kick it off on the right foot with some home improvement tips, some advice, some techniques, some ideas, some suggestions on how you can get those projects done around your house that you really need to do. Maybe you want to focus on saving some money on your heating costs this year. We can help you make that home more energy-efficient. Maybe the kids are getting bigger and the rooms are getting smaller. Why don’t we talk about some organizational ideas? Whatever is on your mind, we want to hear from you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    We will start the conversation off this hour to help you start the new year off with a plan. So we’re going to talk about New Year’s resolutions that you can make for your home. And we promise they’ll be a lot easier to keep than the traditional kind. And they may actually pay off a bit more, too.

    LESLIE: You might actually keep it and you might actually see results.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Also ahead this hour, you know, identity theft is a growing concern, especially this time of year with all that holiday shopping and the post-holiday sales. You’re probably extra cautious with your transactions but a growing trend targets kids. We’ve got advice on how you can protect them.

    TOM: Plus, as you begin to undeck the hall, we’ve got expert advice on how to store away the holiday décor so that it’s ready to go again next year. We’re going to talk with Gale Steves. She is the author of Right-Sizing Your Home and she will join us a little later.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a bamboo workbench from Gladiator GarageWorks and it’s worth over 300 bucks.

    TOM: Wow. So pick up the phone and give us a call right now. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. That beautiful Gladiator Bamboo GarageWorks Workbench is going to go out to one caller, that’s going to get a real good start on their home improvement projects with that workbench, that reaches us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. So let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: June in North Carolina is thinking about selling her house and needs some help with what repairs to do first. How can we help you?

    JUNE: Yes. First of all, I’d like to say how much I love the show.

    LESLIE: Thanks, June.

    JUNE: You’re welcome. My husband and I have a three-year-old house with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths plus a SOG.

    TOM: OK.

    JUNE: We are trying to figure out if it would help the marketability of the house to add a closet and a bathroom so we can classify the SOG as another bedroom.

    TOM: Hmm. OK.

    JUNE: Or would it make any difference?

    TOM: In general, adding bathrooms always helps but you need to compare your house to what’s selling in the neighborhood because when you put your home on the market, you’re competing with everything else that’s around you. And having an extra bathroom may or may not help you. It’s really an appraisal question.

    I would check with some local realtors. You can ask them to do a market-value assessment of your home both ways: with two-and-a-half baths and three-and-a-half baths, or whatever the case is, and see how the numbers play out. Bathrooms generally do get you the best return on investment but only if you stay within what’s for sale in your neighborhood.

    JUNE: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to head over to Florida where Harrison is working on a closet project. You’ve got some sticky racks? What’s going on?

    HARRISON: Yes, the closet racks are kind of steel racks with a white, plastic coating on them.

    LESLIE: Gotcha.

    HARRISON: And as they get old, they get sticky. And I was wondering if there’s any kind of solution I could use to remove the stickiness to them.

    LESLIE: Have you tried cleaning the surface with rubbing alcohol?

    HARRISON: No, I didn’t try alcohol.

    LESLIE: Rubbing alcohol, I find, is like the instant goo-gone master. You can also use a product exactly called Goo Gone or Goof Off or Goo Off; there’s a million of them out there.

    But I would try just with a cotton swab with some rubbing alcohol just to see. It’s not going to damage the surface and it really does a great job of removing any sort of stickiness.

    HARRISON: OK, I’ll try that. Thanks for your help.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much 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. We are here to help you on this glorious New Year’s weekend at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Still ahead, want to know how to actually keep your New Year’s resolutions? It’s very simple: just make promises for your home instead. We’re going to tell you how to trim the fat and get your home in shape, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    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. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now, because one lucky caller who gets on the air with us today is going to win the Gladiator Bamboo Workbench worth $305. Man, that’s a pricey item.

    It’s a sturdy work surface and a heavy-duty steel frame that can support up to 300 pounds. That could take any project.

    TOM: It sure can. And this is just one of a huge selection of garage storage and organizational items from Gladiator GarageWorks. They’ve got a new web-based tool, also, called Design Studio that allows you to plan it all out ahead of time. You can learn more about that at GladiatorGW.com.

    But pick up the phone right now and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT with your question for your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re like most Americans, now is the time that you might be thinking about the changes you’d most like to make for the new year, whether it’s losing weight, getting organized, making more money. You can actually tailor these resolutions that you’ve got in mind for yourself for your house and then you will actually keep them all year long.

    TOM: If you’re thinking about making some home improvements this year but are worried about the expense, you might want to give top priority to those that can actually make you money when it comes time to sell your house.

    So, take a look at the annual cost-versus-value report that’s online at Remodeling Magazine. And you can find out which home improvements pay off the most. For example, if you convert an attic or a basement or you add a deck or a patio, those are the types of improvements that are high up on the list.

    LESLIE: Now, if your home’s New Year’s resolution is to go on a diet, cutting the fat there would mean decluttering your rooms. Because crowded spaces, they’re hard to work in, they’re hard to clean and they suck away your energy that you really need to put more focus into productive projects.

    TOM: And getting in shape means home maintenance, which actually could put you in shape at the same time.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: But lack of maintenance is the number-one cause of deterioration in homes today. So, even if you have a little time for home care, small maintenance projects around the house can actually save you thousands of dollars later when they become big, disastrous repairs.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you’re worried that these resolutions for your home aren’t going to last, don’t set yourself up for failure. Plan your improvements in small stages, especially if you’re working on them yourself. You’re going to feel a huge sense of accomplishment along the way by setting those shorter goals and then you won’t become overwhelmed.

    TOM: And we will help you not get overwhelmed with your projects, so if you’ve got one that comes to mind right now, pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jill who’s dealing with some issues in the shower. What’s going on in your bath?

    JILL: Well, there are two things: mold on tile around the tub that I cannot get rid of. And before, I’ve had someone clean out the grout, regrout and caulk and it’s all returned.

    TOM: OK. And what’s the second thing?

    JILL: The other thing is there is a leak in the spout – the tub spout – on the knobs, too: on and off knobs.

    TOM: OK. Well, the leak in the tub spout is stemming from the valve and you’re probably going to need to replace the valve seat, which is a minor plumbing project.

    Let’s talk about the tile. The tile issue is because you have too much humidity and too much moisture in the bathroom. And that’s why you had this mold problem with the grout and then you got rid of all of the grout and it came back. That’s because if you have water, soap scum – I hate to tell you but skin cells – there’s a lot of debris that gets stuck on the tile lines and it feeds mold.

    LESLIE: Gross. Mm-hmm. And that’s all mold food.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Now, if you’re not managing the moisture and the humidity in the bath that you generate with the shower, it’s just going to consistently feed that mold and you’re going to keep getting it back. Now, what you need to do is, obviously, clean with a bleach solution to get rid of the mold but also manage that moisture with a vent fan. Do you have one?

    JILL: Yes, I do.

    TOM: And the vent fan should be hooked up so that it runs for about 20 minutes after you leave the bathroom. Most people run it while they’re in the bathroom and then turn it off.

    LESLIE: And then turn it off.

    TOM: It ought to be on a timer.

    LESLIE: You know, when it’s really – you jump out of that shower and then you open the door and now you’ve got the mix of the hot and cold and you get condensation and that’s when the moisture really becomes an issue. So you want that vent fan to stay on to help remove it.

    TOM: Exactly. And in terms of the actual material that you use for the grouting, it might be too late for this now but let me mention to you that if you ever decide to saw away the old grout with a grout saw and regrout it again, you want to use a product that’s got a mildicide in it.

    LATICRETE is a big grout manufacturer and they have a product that’s got Microban in it, which is one of those mildicides that kills mold. And it’s also – you also find it in certain types of caulk, like DAP has a caulk that’s got Microban in it. And those Microban-additive products are very, very mold resistant and it’s a lot less likely for it to grow back.

    LESLIE: What about at this point, if she’s able to clean off all that mold from the existing grout, can you seal it at this point with a sealer that’s got …?

    TOM: Nah. Well, I mean you could but you almost never get it that clean. If you got it really super-clean, then you could seal it with a silicone cleaner – silicone sealer – and that makes it a little bit easier to care for in the future.

    JILL: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: David in Maine, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    DAVID: Well, I’ve got a problem with some wallboard. A crack in my drywall is pretty much from the top to the bottom, pretty much in a straight line, vertically.

    TOM: OK. Is that over a seam, David?

    DAVID: That’s what I found out. Yes, it was over a seam and it was over a 2×4.

    TOM: Alright, yes. How about that?

    DAVID: And unfortunately, when I took a utility knife and started carving it up to make a V-shaped profile I found out that one side of the – it was over a 2×4 and one of the wallboards – one piece of the wallboard was basically floating.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: But my question is: is there some easy or cost-effective way, rather than – other than just replacing the whole 4×8 sheet of wallboard, to fix that or to secure it so that it doesn’t float?

    TOM: Hmm. Well, here’s the trick. There are ways to repair that but essentially, you have to cut a hole in the wall to do that.

    DAVID: Uh-huh.

    TOM: Hmm. I’m wondering if it’s easier to fix one or two. I’m thinking, Leslie, the easiest thing to do here would be for David to essentially go to the stud to the left and to the right of the disconnected drywall, cut out both sides of it so now you’re going to take out a piece – let’s assume that the studs are 16 inches on center. So you take one to the right – so you’re 16 inches to the right; 16 inches to the left – and now you’ve pulled out a piece that’s 32 inches wide. Replace that with a new piece of drywall that’s 32 inches wide. You’ll have two seams to tape instead of one.

    DAVID: Right.

    TOM: But frankly, it’s not going to be that much more work. Because that one side of drywall is now floating and moving, even if we tell you how to fix that crack, it’s going to come back fast.

    LESLIE: It’s always going to show up.

    DAVID: Always going to crack – come back, yeah.

    TOM: So, if you’re going to cut the wall out, I mean we could tell you how to cut it out right near that and slip in some wood blocking and then attach it but frankly, by the time you do all that the cleanest way to do this is probably to take that whole piece out by going to the left and the right, sort of surgically excise that one piece of drywall, bang in a new piece, tape it, spackle it, be done.

    You want to make sure you use perforated drywall tape, because it’s a little more forgiving if you don’t quite get the spackle in there just right. Two, three coats. Feather it out, prime it, paint it and you’re good to go.

    DAVID: That’s the only way?

    TOM: That’s the way to do it.

    DAVID: OK, good enough. Thanks for your advice.

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

    I think David was looking for the magic potion that would mysteriously make a stud appear where once there was none.

    LESLIE: And I like how he was like doing surgical work on it, too.

    TOM: Yeah. Exactly. He was digging it out. Well, it was probably stuck together by the piece of tape that was there and once he cut that, all of a sudden it became a floater.

    LESLIE: Uh-huh. It started moving.

    Alright. Mary in Texas is having an issue with a water heater and I think wants to replace it. How can we help?

    MARY: I have an electric water heater right now that I want to replace and I would like to have a tankless electric hot-water heater but someone told me that gas was better.

    TOM: Yes, gas is much better. Now, is that a possibility for you? Do you have access to natural gas or propane?

    MARY: I have gas just on the heating system.

    TOM: Oh, well, then you definitely want to use a gas tankless water heater. You ought to take a look at the water heaters by Rheem – R-h-e-e-m. They are excellent and you can find one that’s very, very efficient.

    The reason you can’t have an electric tankless water heater is because it’s a whole different way of heating water and you’ll use way too much electricity to do that. Now …

    LESLIE: It’ll be expensive.

    TOM: Right. There is actually a system for people that only have electric.

    LESLIE: But it’s like a heat pump system, correct?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s the HP-50. Rheem has a unit called the HP-50, super-energy-efficient. It’s a heat pump/water-heater combination unit that’s super-efficient. It meets all of the Energy Star guidelines and it’s eligible for federal tax credits, as well, if you buy one. So if you just have electric, you would go with something like the HP-50 but if not, I would definitely use one of the gas-fired tankless units, because I think you’re going to be very, very happy with it.

    MARY: OK. This Rheem is not tankless, then.

    LESLIE: No, Rheem is tankless.

    TOM: No, they have – yeah. Mary, they have tankless water heaters and they have the heat-pump water heaters.

    MARY: Yeah.

    TOM: They have all kinds of water heaters, so you take your pick.

    MARY: OK. Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Nicky in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    NICKY: Hi. I have a question about banging/clanging in my walls when the heat is on.

    TOM: Is it a poltergeist? Do you have ghosts?

    NICKY: Hey, I hope not.

    TOM: So, does it happen when your heat first comes on or goes off?

    NICKY: You know, the heating system is not on any kind of heating schedule.

    TOM: Right.

    NICKY: It’s just these units and we control them so they’re never touched, actually. They’re maintained at a certain degree and that’s it but at night, it seems to happen.

    TOM: Right.

    NICKY: So it’s not like …

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, is it a hot-air heating system, Nicky? Forced air?

    NICKY: Yes.

    TOM: OK. So …

    NICKY: It’s a baseboard, yep.

    TOM: Well, no, no. Now, if it’s a baseboard, it’s not forced-air. If it’s baseboard, it’s probably hot water.

    NICKY: Oh. Right, OK. Sorry.

    TOM: Hot water.

    NICKY: Yeah, that’s right.

    TOM: Well, it’s important because if it’s a forced-air system, the banging can be caused by one thing and if it’s hot water, it’s different. If it’s forced air – for those that have forced air that are listening to this call – very often you get something called oil canning where the heating system goes on and fills up the duct system like a balloon and then the ducts expand and pop and make a noise. And you can reinforce the ducts with strips of metal on the outside to stop that from happening.

    With a hot water system, you either have – let’s see, baseboards, so it’s probably not steam. What’s probably happening here is you’ve got some pipes that are inserted through the walls to get to the radiators and what happens is when the heat comes on, the pipes expand and they rub against the studded wall; they rub against the wall where it comes through. And as a result of that, you get this really loud, creaking sound that resonates throughout all of the pipes and amplifies itself.

    So, the solution there is to try to trace the hot-water lines where they’re coming through the walls. And there’s like a plastic bushing that can go around the pipe and sort of acts like a lubricant in a way that when the pipe heats up and expands, it doesn’t drag across the dry wood and make that horrible banging sound.

    NICKY: OK. Sounds like a solution. Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, we’ve got tips on storing away those holiday decorations that are clutter-free and easily retrieved next year.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show or this time of year, it’s the Ho-Ho-Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And if you loved having your house decorated for the holidays, now that the holidays are over, you might be looking around and trying to figure out what you’re going to do with all that festive ware that’s still about.

    LESLIE: And cluttering up your space. Well, we have some expert advice on how you can plan and store right now to make next year’s decorating a breeze. We’ve got Gale Steves, the author of Right-Sizing Your Home and former editor of Home Magazine, joining us with some tips.

    Welcome, Gale.

    GALE: Well, welcome to you and ho-ho-ho. I’m sitting here in a sea of Christmas ornaments and I’m thinking to myself, “How did a nice person like me ever gather so many?” But I’m sure your listeners are in the same boat I am.

    TOM: Well, absolutely. So what’s the first step when you start thinking about putting stuff away this year that’s going to really set you up for an easier experience next holiday season?

    GALE: Well, I think – you know, first of all, just take charge of your stuff; don’t let it take charge of you. And that’s the – no matter what the season is or what the decorations are. And remember just to put them in someplace, label them so you know what is in each box. I mean there’s nothing worse – you’re having a dinner party, you can’t find those wonderful salad plates that you had.

    Many people, I find, store their unused lights and many of the old decorations that are maybe tattered and worn. Get rid of the old stuff and also, keep sort of a note of what you have. And kind of like your toilet kit, if you find things that you don’t have, things are probably on sale so you can replace them.

    But don’t store things that you’re not going to use again. For many of us, we just somehow keep the tradition going …

    LESLIE: Even if you don’t like it.

    GALE: Yeah, precisely. I have one unmentionable ornament, because I’m sure my mother is always listening, but I’ve really – I hated it for a long time.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: And what if you live in a small space? I’ve always had important decorations and from an apartment now to my small home, I just keep accumulating more and more holiday decorations and I’m running out of storage space. So what’s the sneaky trick?

    GALE: The sneaky trick is don’t forget the real estate under your bed. Don’t keep your old t-shirts there; your ornaments are far more valuable and you probably – it’s a good place for storing particularly the fragile ones. Under-the-bed storage is one of my favorite places to put away those seasonal things. I have other seasonal decorations and I just sort of trade them off. I have one little space and – so think about your bed, under the bed.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And in the small closet I have, I sort of rotate them, like the current holiday to the front, the one that just passed all the way to the back.

    GALE: Mm-hmm. You’re right-sizing, my dear. That’s exactly what I hope you would do.

    TOM: We’re talking to Gale Steves. She’s the author of Right-Sizing Your Home: How to Make Your House Fit Your Lifestyle.

    Now, Gale, there’s one room that you recommend we don’t decorate: that’s the kitchen. Why is that?

    GALE: Well, it’s a place where everyone gathers. You have more people, pets; everybody is in there. And it’s a safety hazard. I think the temptation is great to put all your cookie jars out and stuff. Put them in another room, because there’s too many things that go on in that room and I want everyone to be as safe as possible during the holidays.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Gale? That is valuable real estate; I cannot give up that counter space in my kitchen.

    GALE: Mm-hmm. Well, whether you’re baking cookies or you’re doing something else, there’s always other people with you. You just need the space. Put your decorations in other rooms and leave the kitchen as a workspace.

    TOM: The book: Right-Sizing Your Home: How to Make Your House Fit Your Lifestyle. The author: Gale Steves.

    Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and helping us start to get organized for the new year.

    GALE: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Still to come, identity thieves are targeting a new group: kids. And since they won’t be applying for credit anytime soon, you might not even know it’s going on for years to come.

    TOM: We’ll have the red flags to watch for and tips to protect your kids’ IDs, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’re going to help you with your home improvement New Year’s resolution and we’re going to give you a chance to win a great prize today. We’ve got up for grabs a $305 bamboo workbench from Gladiator GarageWorks.

    Now, this sturdy bench surface is an inch-and-a-half thick with a UV-cured, protective coating. It’s got steel tubular legs, which are going to support up to 300 pounds. You can check it out at GladiatorGW.com and the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    We’re going to talk a bit now about identity theft. It is a growing crime and it’s very hard to track normally. But when a criminal steals the ID of a child, you actually may not even realize it until decades later. I mean imagine having your child apply for his or her first car loan and learning that he’s already 40 grand in debt. That’s exactly what happened in one case but there are ways to prevent child-ID theft and there are a few signs to look for that should make you very suspicious.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, if you get an earnings report from the Social Security Administration for your child and he or she has never worked a day in their life, that is a huge red flag. If anyone ever asks for your child’s Social Security number, make sure you check into why. In one case, a kids’ organization leader got this info under the ruse of needing it for medical forms and instead stole the IDs of several children in his care. That’s terrible.

    TOM: Now, you could also put a freeze on your child’s credit; this way, no one will be approved for credit under that Social Security number until the freeze is lifted.

    And finally, do not let your child carry his or her Social Security card. It sounds like a no-brainer but people do this all the time.

    LESLIE: Right?

    TOM: Never ever give them the card; just tuck it away in a safety deposit box or another secure location. And of course, teach them to never give the info out online.

    888-666-3974 is the phone number we will give out on air and online, because we are here to help you with your New Year’s home improvement project. Give us a call right now. Let’s get back to it.

    Leslie, who’s next?

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

    TRACY: I think I have water coming down my wall between – we have a room that used to be a breezeway, that was converted into a living room.

    TOM: OK.

    TRACY: And so, from that roof, there’s an awning for a little porch outside. And I’m just thinking that it’s leaking between the top roof and where it comes down to the awning roof.

    TOM: So, when you saw awning roof, do you mean – you don’t mean awning as in a canvas awning? You mean like a regular shingle roof that’s intersecting with the higher-pitched roof. Is that correct?

    TRACY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: The upper roof falls to the – what you’re calling the awning roof, in terms of the rainwater?

    TRACY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And the awning roof is below about – by the upper roof by about 4 inches. So that gap or that intersection between the two might be where the water is backing up. I suspect, based on your description, that that’s exactly what’s happening. What you suspect is happening in this intersection is happening because frankly, it’s a tough connection to make. It’s got to be properly constructed; it’s got to be properly flashed or the water can backup.

    Has it always been this way or is it kind of just recent that you’re starting to see the leaks?

    TRACY: That was an issue probably even before. Now, we did remove that awning and reapply it, which is probably not the best way. Because we just basically used a tractor to take that roof off and then put it back on.

    TOM: You used a tractor to take the roof off? What did you do, tear the whole thing off?

    TRACY: Yeah.

    TOM: OK. Maybe you were a little too rough with those attachment points at that point in time, I don’t know. Well, look, there’s a problem between the two roofs. You’ve got to diagnose it. What I would suggest you do is get up there with a hose and let some water from a garden hose run down the upper roof to the lower roof. See if you can make it leak. And once you make it leak, you can find out – narrow down the area where the leak is actually happening, if it’s not visually obvious to you, and take it from there, OK?

    TRACY: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Larry in Texas has some questions about a foundation. What can we do for you?

    LARRY: I purchased this house back in July. It has a slab foundation and the foundation had previously been leveled. And the – inside the house, it has some cracks around the door frame, so I’m just wondering: how can I fix that?

    TOM: OK, well, you bought the house in July, so you haven’t really had a lot of time to determine this, Larry, but is it your sense that the cracks are moving, they’re getting worse? Or have they always been there?

    LARRY: I think they’ve always been there and I’m trying to patch them up. I’m just wondering, is it going to continue to crack anywhere else?

    TOM: If you’ve tried to patch them up and they’ve opened up again, it may be that you didn’t patch them correctly. Let me tell you how we recommend you do that. I would lightly sand the area around the cracks and then I would use fiberglass drywall tape, which is kind of meshy and a little sticky. Cut a piece of that, apply it to the crack and then use about three layers of spackling compound on top of that.

    The fiberglass tape tends to be a lot stronger and bridges the two sides of the cracked area and makes sure it doesn’t move. Because the area around a doorway or a window is the area of the wall that has the most movement, so developing hairline cracks there is not that uncommon nor does it mean that you have a serious structural problem on your hands. It may just be that you didn’t patch it correctly.

    LARRY: OK. I’ll take that advice. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re very welcome, Larry. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dan in Arkansas needs some help tackling a deck project. What can we help you with? 

    DAN: We have just recently purchased a home. It has a very expansive wood deck; it’s approximately – it’s 15×93, which would be 1,400 … 

    TOM: Wow. 

    LESLIE: That’s huge. 

    TOM: That’s an aircraft carrier. 

    DAN: Yes, yes. You have to pack a lunch to get to one end. The wood is unknown but I’m guessing it’s going to be pine or treated pine. 

    TOM: Right. 

    DAN: The deck has been painted with probably a latex exterior or latex stain and it’s flaking off very badly. We’re tracking it into the house; we’re afraid about the dogs breathing it. Some contractors suggested power washing; others said that would break up the surface of the wood.

    And so, there we are. Can’t afford to replace the decking, we don’t think, at 1,400 square foot. If we remove the deck, the first step is 15 foot to the ground.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Well … 

    TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you it’s an enormous project to get the old paint off. They’re correct in saying that pressure washing could potentially damage the deck. Pressure washing really only should be used for rinsing. The tool is fine but if you make it too strong, what happens is you wear out the soft, summer growth, which is the thick part of the ring of the tree. 

    DAN: Right. 

    TOM: You sort of groove that out and it definitely takes some life out of the deck. Probably the only way you’re going to be able to get this off is to use a – is a chemical stripper and even that by itself is a big job with 1,400 square feet. 

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you’re going to have to work in sections, because you have to apply it as per manufacturer directions, with a roller or with sort of like a mop applicator. And then you let it sit on that section for 10 minutes or so before it dries but you want it to sort of sit there and saturate and do its job of breaking up the paint. And then you would lightly pressure-wash it away: get rid of the product and get rid of the paint that comes off with it. You wouldn’t want to just pressure-wash because, as Tom said, it would just be detrimental to the health of the lumber.

    But it’s going to be a big undertaking but you will be able to get it down to raw wood which, at that point, you could then apply, depending on the condition of the lumber – is it checking? Is it splintery? Does it look OK? Depending on if it looks great, then you can go with a semi-transparent. If it looks a little worse for the wear or you had a hard time getting off a lot of the paint in some areas where it just really stuck, you might have to go with a solid stain, which is different from a paint because it still sort of saturates the wood itself. So you can see some of the grain but you get that pigmentation. And you can go with a natural tone in a solid color. 

    TOM: Another option here, Dan, is – and I know you say you don’t have a lot of money to spend on this. You don’t necessarily have to replace the entire deck. You can just do a deck makeover by pulling off the decking boards themselves and replacing them with a composite product like Fiberon. That is sort of the half-price way of getting a brand new deck, because the structure is fine; you won’t have to deal with that. And another thing that you could think about doing is take a look at the underside of the deck and if you’ve got some bad boards or maybe they’re not painted on the bottom, you could pull them up and flip them over. 

    DAN: OK. Well, thank you very much. 

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Up next, priming is the key to a good paint project. Learn what type of primer works best on every room in your house.

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

    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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement project. Let us help you solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. Let us help you start 2012 off on the right foot with the right home improvement advice. We’re here to help you get those jobs done. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT. The website is MoneyPit.com, where you can also post your question to us.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Michael from St. Louis did just that and he writes: “I have a finished bathroom that I have had to do some drywall repair work in. I understand that it is best to prime the drywall and joint compound before painting. Can you recommend a primer?”

    TOM: Yes. There are a number of different types of primer. For new work like that, I think you can use a latex-based primer. It’s actually an acrylic type of paint. KILZ makes it; there are other brands, as well. And I like it because it goes on and dries very quickly and you literally can get going with your top coat within probably a half hour to 45 minutes of putting that primer on.

    But you don’t want to paint without that. Not only will you waste more paint, you’re not going to get a very smooth finish. The primers actually help smooth out the top coat of paint, so a very essential part of the process.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Joe from Brooklyn who posted: “There is a draft coming in by the windows in my apartment. The windows are old and they don’t really close well. I don’t own the apartment but I do pay for my heat. How can I fix it?”

    That’s so crazy. You live there, you can’t make the repairs that you need but you have to pay for the inefficiency.

    TOM: Yeah, you have to pay for the repairs and the improvements the landlord didn’t do, every month when you pay for the bill.

    LESLIE: So crazy.

    TOM: Well, there are a few things you can do and in fact, if you go to MoneyPit.com, we’ve got tons of tips for renters on how you can cheaply and easily deal with stuff like this. But there is a product called removable weatherstripping caulk and I think DAP makes it. It’s called – Seal ‘N Peel is their trade name. You can caulk those windows shut in the wintertime to seal out those drafts and then peel away the caulk, without damaging the windows, in the spring. Just make sure you do that only to windows that you don’t have to open, such as a bedroom window that may need to be an emergency exit in the case of a fire or something like that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But Joe, it really does do the trick and it’s readily available. So go out there, get it today and stay warm.

    TOM: Well, if you’re concerned about using toxic materials for your home improvement projects, there are many ways you can green up some of those materials. Leslie has the last word this hour with one idea: tips for creating all-natural wood stains.

    LESLIE: Yeah. If you’re looking for a natural, non-toxic wood stain, you might want to raid your kitchen before you go anywhere else. Coffee, tea, even black walnut hulls can be steeped to make a concentrated solution that can be used as a stain. Black raspberries are also effective wood stain when crushed and then rubbed onto the wood. Just allow the berry pulp to dry on the wood and then wipe it away.

    Now, vinegar works as a wood stain when you add a metal object in the mix and then let it sit in a glass container for a week. For example, a handful of pennies will produce a beautiful, pale, Caribbean-blue stain. A wad of steel wool is going to give you a rich, reddish hue.

    Now, as with any stain, you’re going to want to check out the results on a piece of scrap from that same wood that you’re going to be staining. Not only will this allow you to see if you like the stain but you’re going to have the opportunity to apply several coats to see, you know, how that shade changes and deepens depending on how many coats you add and what application process you use.

    Keep in mind, also, that stained wood can change with age and that often brings around attractive results. But be prepared to potentially end up with a different look down the road. You can also use a clear sealant on top of your stain to keep it from fading.

    If you want some more ideas and specific instructions, just Google “money pit natural wood stain” and you’ll find everything you need to know there.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour on this New Year’s weekend with us. Coming up next week on the program, clogged sinks are a part of life. In fact, if you did a lot of holiday prep, you may have had one over the last few weeks. But the good news is that they are not something you have to live with. We’re going to have some steps to help you clear those clogs safely and easily, 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 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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