No Cost to Low Cost ways to Keep Cool, Saving Heat Damaged Lawns and Tips to Stop Mold from Growing in Your Home

  • 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: And we are here to help you take on your home improvement projects. What are you working on? Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a direct-it-yourselfer, we’re here to help you get the job done, 888-666-3974.

    Hey, coming up this hour, now that summer is at its hottest, are you scraping for every possible way you can to keep yourself cool and comfortable? We understand. And we’ve got a few low-cost to no-cost tips to share that can help you do just that.

    LESLIE: And with the water shortages and generally blistering heat across the nation, are you wondering how to avoid having your yard turn into a dead, dry wasteland? Well, we’ll have the tips on how you can conserve water, restore dead patches and still have a beautiful yard.

    TOM: Plus, toxic mold remains a serious problem across the country and one reason might be that you’re actually feeding the problem with a common household-storage product. We’re going to have tips on how you can eliminate this and other leading mold contributors, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And this hour we’re giving away an amazing prize. And it might be one of the best ever on The Money Pit.

    TOM: That’s right. We’re giving away a Generac iQ2000 Generator to one lucky caller. This is the quietest, the smartest and the easiest-to-use portable generator on the market. And it’s actually the same one I recently featured on Fox & Friends.

    I love it. It’s worth 799 bucks. It’s going out to one listener drawn at random from those that call us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Now, you can check this out at That’s But to be clear, you must have a home improvement question in order to win. So don’t just call us and say you want to win the Generac iQ. Look around your house and think hard about the one project that’s been bugging you and call us now with your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Stuart in Louisiana is on the line and has a question about light bulbs. What can we do for you?

    STUART: I was curious about choosing the correct kind of light bulb – fluorescent versus LED – and what wattage if I – whichever one I choose.

    TOM: So, compact-fluorescent technology is pretty much fading now – pardon the pun – and I think what you really want to look at is some of the many choices in LEDs. In terms of wattage, you know, it’s not really measured in wattage anymore; it’s measured in lumens. But generally speaking, if you do see a wattage indicator on the bulb, it’s going to be about 25 percent of what you’re used to getting in terms of light output.

    So, for example, a bulb that would deliver the equivalent of around 100 watts of light, that you might be used to an incandescent bulb, is only going to use about 25 watts or less of electricity, only because it’s that much more efficient. A lot of folks don’t recognize that wattage is a measure of power; it’s not a measure of light. Light’s measured by lumens. But we’re just so accustomed, over the years, to choosing the wattage when it comes to bulb and understanding how much light that delivers.

    But if you’re trying to figure out about what the conversion rate is, it’s about 25 percent. It uses about 25 percent of the power to deliver the same light that you would’ve gotten out of, say, the 100-watt incandescent bulb in my example. Does that make sense?

    STUART: It does indeed. So what lumen range would I be basically looking for if I wanted to have the same amount of wattage – I’m sorry – same amount of light as a 100-watt light bulb?

    TOM: Good question. A 100-watt incandescent bulb is going to deliver about 1,600 lumens. So, not that easy to do the math. It’s not really convenient. But that’s what it is. A 100-watt bulb delivers about 1,600 lumens; 75-watt bulb would deliver around, say, 1,000 to 1,100 lumens. So that’s the range that you’re looking for.

    STUART: Fantastic. Thank you very much for your assistance.

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

    LESLIE: Rachel in Rhode Island is on the line with a wallpaper question. How can we help you today?

    RACHEL: I’ve had mold develop on our expensive designer wallpaper. It’s dark red and it’s about 18 inches above the beadboard molding on plaster walls. My house is 125 years old. I wondered if there’s any way of saving the wallpaper.

    LESLIE: Was there a leak? Do you know what caused this mold to develop over there?

    RACHEL: Well, I have a wet basement.

    TOM: So have you done anything to address the moisture problem in the basement?

    RACHEL: The walls are made out of fieldstone. So I don’t think there’s too much we can do.

    TOM: Oh, sure there is. There’s lots of things you can do. So let’s tackle these problems one at a time.

    Now, in terms of the wallpaper itself, if the mold has been there for a long time and it’s actually stained the wallpaper, it may be difficult for you to get that wallpaper back to its original color because it’s physically changed. You might be able to try a mildicide on the wallpaper, at least to see if it will remove the mold. There’s a product called Spray & Forget that if the walls get any amount of light at all – sunlight – they’ll activate and kill any mold spores that are behind. And then once that happens, you could try to just simply to clean the wallpaper.

    Now, in terms of the wet basement that you feel that there’s nothing you can do about, most wet basements – whether it’s concrete, wall, fieldstone, concrete block, I don’t care what it is – those wet basements are caused by two things and two things only, one of which is the fact that the gutter system at the outside of the house is not usually properly designed or discharging water far enough away from the foundation. The other thing is that the soil around the house is too flat; it doesn’t slope away from the wall.

    So those two things are the most common contributing factors to water problems, not rising water tables and other things that are more difficult to control. But certainly, looking at your gutter system and making sure that water that’s collecting at the roof edge is discharging 4 to 6 to 8 feet away from the house and that the soil is sloping away from the house. So I would concentrate on – certainly on the wet-basement issue, as well, because that’s going to stop more mold from forming in the future.

    And then in terms of the wallpaper that’s there now, you could try a product like Spray & Forget, which does not contain any bleach or lye or acid. So it’s not going to affect the color. And see if it can kill off the mold that’s there.

    RACHEL: OK. Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: 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 Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to hear what you are working on.

    Guys, there’s only two weeks before Labor Day. So, what do you want to do before the summer is up? Because before you know it, you’re calling us with heating questions and drafts and all kinds of stuff that’s winter-related. So let’s think of the summertime and let’s help you keep things looking great for the few weeks we’ve got left, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, it’s officially the dog days of summer and a time when it’s tough to keep cool and comfortable. We’re going to have a few low-cost to no-cost tips that can help, after this.

    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: On air and online at Hey, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a fantastic prize. I mean an amazing prize. We have, from our friends at Generac, a Generac iQ2000 Portable Inverter Generator worth 799 bucks to give out to one lucky listener drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So if you’ve got a question, call it in, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And I’ve got to tell you, this is a fantastic product. It really lets you bring power wherever you need to go: tailgating parties, camping trips, the beach, you name it. It’s got an ultra-lightweight design that makes it easy to carry with you wherever you need it to be.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And what’s cool is it’s got a lot of really great features. First of all, it’s quiet. It’s probably the quietest portable inverter generator in its class. It’s super smart. It’s got a smart LED dashboard which will show you its fuel level, remaining runtime, the wattage use and the generator status. It’s really easy to use. There’s a power dial, which integrates your start, run and stop functions into one simple-to-use dial. Bottom line: the Generac iQ2000 is quieter, smarter and it beats Honda.

    TOM: Sure does. Now, we’ve got just one unit to give away to one very lucky caller to the program. But we also have a very special offer exclusively for all Money Pit listeners interested in purchasing a Generac iQ. If you go to or if you call 800-965-1172, you can receive free shipping on a new Generac iQ2000, plus you’ll also get a free copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.

    You will absolutely love this generator. I use this. I featured this generator on Fox & Friends. Everybody flipped out over it. It’s a fantastic product. But remember, the only – and I do mean only – way to get free shipping and a free copy of our book is to visit or call them at 800-965-1172. That’s 800-965-1172. There is no other way to get the free shipping and free book. You must go to or call 800-965-1172. The offer is valid right now, so visit or call 800-965-1172 today.

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

    RICHARD: Oh, my question is – well, what happened is I had an under-the-sink water filter burst. Flooded my house. And I’ve had two people say that – one person said that I need to replace all the drywall that got wet. Another person says that it’s fine – the drywall is fine. My question is: what do I need to do? What is the proper thing to do?

    LESLIE: Well, Richard, what does the drywall look like? Did it dry out or does it look all sponge-y and gross?

    RICHARD: It looked like it just dried out.

    TOM: Right. If it dried out, then there wasn’t enough water to form it. There’s no reason to replace it. I mean sometimes, when you get a bad leak and especially with a ceiling leak, water will sit above a drywall and it will cause it to kind of swell and buckle downward. And when it deforms like that, there’s no fix for it. You have to cut it out and replace it. But if it just got wet because of the leak and then dried out and it’s still flat, then I wouldn’t worry about it. You may have – if there’s any joints in the drywall that have to – that have separated and have to retaped or repaired, certainly, you could do all that. But otherwise, I think you’re fine just the way it is.

    Now, I would recommend that you prime it first with a solvent-based primer or an oil-based primer to make sure that you’ve sealed in any staining. But once you do that, I think that you’re pretty much good to go and you’re done. I don’t see a reason to replace it.

    RICHARD: Saves a lot of work.

    TOM: Alright. Well, that’s what we try to do, Rich. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, it’s time now for another Cool Tip for a Hot Summer, presented by Haier, the world’s number-one appliance brand and your expert in air-quality solutions.

    You know, now that we’ve reached the hottest days of the summer, we’re sure your air conditioners are working overtime to keep you cool and comfortable. But there are some additional things that you can do to reduce the heat that collects in your home. And in fact, many of these can be accomplished with little or no cost.

    LESLIE: Yep. First, you want to take advantage of the clock-setback technology that’s built into many room air conditioners, like those from Haier. Now, by programming your air conditioner to run at the coolest temps only when you’re home and at a slightly higher temperature when you’re away, you can maintain a comfortable temperature and avoid completely overheating your house when you’re away. And that takes a long time to cool back down again once the air conditioner has started up.

    TOM: Next, if you need to bake a cake in the oven or run a load of clothes through the dryer, you want to adjust your schedule to use heat-generating appliances only at night, because that’s when temperatures are cooler.

    LESLIE: And as the fall season approaches, now is a great time to think about adding shade trees along the warmer south and west sides of your home. Adding landscaping in the fall will provide plenty of time for the roots to grow deep and strong before the summer sun comes around again.

    TOM: Finally, start planning another fall project now that can dramatically cut both cooling and heating costs by adding additional insulation to your attic. Insulation is one of the most cost-effective projects you can do and it’ll deliver both year-round comfort and savings.

    From air conditioners and dehumidifiers to space heaters and kitchen ventilation, Haier has just the thing to keep every room in your house comfortable this summer and year-round. Learn more at That’s Haier – H-a-i-e-r –

    LESLIE: Tracy in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a universal-design project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    TRACY: I have a daughter who’s 21 years old and we need some help when it comes to bathing her. We’re looking at doing a bathroom addition onto her room but we don’t even know, really, how to get started. Do we need to consult with an architect on the design advice? She’s homebound, medically fragile, 100-percent disabled and we just are looking at some advice on how to even get started to meet her needs so that we only have to do this one time.

    LESLIE: Is a tub situation easier for you or is a shower?

    TRACY: Probably a shower.

    LESLIE: OK. Because there are the tubs with the doors that open. It depends on how difficult it would be to sort of move her from chair to seated tub position. It just depends on how comfortable you are with the bathing situation, if you want to get in there and get wet.

    But Tom and I have actually done a lot of work with universal design and are quite familiar with some of the processes.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And I do think it’s a good idea to use a certified kitchen-and-bath designer and that’s somebody who is going to be specializing in universal design. You’re going to ask specifically for someone that has that talent, because they’re going to be up-to-speed on the best products that are out there for your particular situation, be able to recommend appropriately and you’re going to get a bathroom that actually looks nice and functions well for you.

    I would not, would not call a standard remodeling contractor. Because a remodeling contractor will say, “Yeah, I understand. I know what to do.” And you know what? They just don’t, because it’s very specialized.

    In fact, some years ago, Leslie, didn’t the AARP have a special certification program for contractors and architects that were working with universal-design situations?

    LESLIE: They did. It was through the Homebuilders Association. And they had a special course that you could take to become certified as a universal-design specialist. So you might want to start with the AARP’s website, just to find some recommendations of folks in your area who are certified. I believe it was called the CAPS – Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist – Program.

    And even though that’s not necessarily your need, it has similar associations. So you might want to start there as far as just trying to find somebody who can help you find the right products. Because you want something that looks good, you don’t want it to feel like a hospital, you want it to function and you want it to be done right the first time.

    TOM: They have a lot of resources for universal design. Probably the best collection anywhere online is on the AARP website. You just simply click on the Home & Family section and then Home Improvement and you’ll find a lot there.

    They also have a section on livable communities, because the universal design just makes sense for folks of any age, whether you are a senior citizen, whether you are disabled or whether you are just a mom that comes home with her arms full of grocery bags and needs to pop open a door with her elbow because she can’t really turn a door knob. There’s tips like that that really make it so much easier for you to live comfortably in your house, regardless of age or physical condition. So I would start there, as well.

    But make sure you work with people that are experienced in universal design. There are lots and lots of people out there. You’ve just got to find them, OK?

    TRACY: Great. Thank you so much for your help.

    LESLIE: Tyler in South Dakota is on the line who’s got some unwanted visitors in the yard: moles. Have you bitten it more than once in the yard, due to their little hole-digging?

    TYLER: Yes, it’s actually been quite the adventure having those little, friendly guys in your yard.

    LESLIE: And they’re so adorable, aren’t they?

    TYLER: Yeah, they are. They’re wonderful.

    So, we’ve been having this problem with moles and I think what this animal is called is called a “vole” – v-o-l-e.

    TOM: Vole. Yeah, very similar to a mole.

    LESLIE: It’s like a mole/hamster.

    TOM: The reason they’re there, Tyler, is they’re looking for food. And specifically, they’re looking for grubs.

    TYLER: Oh, that was – I was going to ask you about that, because my backyard has been hit by these dry patches which, I just found out, I think are grubs.

    TOM: Yeah. It all is making sense now, right?

    TYLER: Yeah.

    TOM: Because the grubs are in your lawn, they’re killing your lawn. The moles are probably saving part of your grass, because they’re eating the grubs. But what you need to do is get some grub control at GrubEx on that lawn. And that will get rid of the grubs. And once the grubs are gone and there’s no food left, the moles will move on naturally to your neighbors and try to find where all the grubs are living.

    TYLER: Every six weeks? Every six months? How often do I put down this …?

    TOM: Just follow label directions. And some of these products, you put down once a season.

    TYLER: Sounds great. Oh, that’s very helpful. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Tyler. Good luck with that project. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, does your town have a limit on outdoor water use in the summer? Or can your lawn just not keep up with the blistering heat? Well, This Old House landscaping expert Roger Cook is next with tips on how you can conserve water and still have a beautiful yard.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment on The Money Pit is brought to you by Proudly Propane. Clean American energy.

    NORM: I’m Norm Abram from This Old House. Need a little help making your old house look like the ones we makeover on TV? Call Tom and Leslie, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, here’s a quick tip to help you keep important documents safe: if you store things like a birth certificate or computer backups in a standard lockbox, you might be surprised to learn that many are not designed to keep out fire or even floods.

    LESLIE: A better option is a fire-retardant safe or lockbox. These can safely store paper documents and protect them from fire, as well as water intrusion that could happen in a flood.

    TOM: Now, if you’d like to protect DVDs, hard drives or other electronic devices, you’ll need a special type of fireproof safe or a box called a “media safe.” These provide even more protection, keeping the internal temperatures below 125 degrees, which is well below the standard 350-degree rating needed to protect paper.

    LESLIE: Carol in California is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?

    CAROL: I have an old house. It sits high off the ground and it’s one of the houses that when they dismantled the camps, they took houses out and people bought them and set them up. And it’s all open underneath and it is freezing cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. Is there something that I can do underneath the house?

    TOM: So there’s no insulation?

    CAROL: I don’t think so. Very little, if any.

    TOM: Yeah. Are there – is it like a sort of open floor joist? Like do you see the floor joists when you look under and up?

    CAROL: You know what? I haven’t been under the house.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, look, you’ve got to get somebody under there, Carol, to see what the structure is. But we have the technology, OK?

    CAROL: OK.

    TOM: You know, if it’s a standard floor-joist construction, you can add insulation in between the floor joists and then under that, you could use 2-inch insulating foam board and then nail that to the bottom of the floor. And that would seal up the floor from the cold air that’s getting up in there.

    And I would also take a look at the attic to make sure that that’s insulated. And you just may have a house that needs a few very basic, energy-saving improvements to it.

    CAROL: Alright. Well, I appreciate that information. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, with all the water shortages across the nation, many towns are imposing limits on outdoor water use in the summer months.

    TOM: Yep. And homeowners are wondering how to avoid having the yard just turn into a dead, dry wasteland. Well, This Old House landscaping expert Roger Cook is here to save the day and tell us how to conserve water and still have a beautiful yard.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Hi.

    TOM: Now, your solution is not to sell us on the idea of going all gravel, is it?

    ROGER: No. All AstroTurf.

    LESLIE: Blue. Blue AstroTurf.

    ROGER: There you go.

    TOM: I’ve seen that. In California, of course – no surprise – I’ve seen folks replace their natural lawns with AstroTurf lawns. So that is an option.

    ROGER: We’ve done a couple of them in the city and small courtyards where there’s just not enough sunlight for anything to grow.

    TOM: Yep.

    ROGER: And we’ve also done it in areas where people have pets – particularly dogs – that they would just kill the grass and this is their area to do their business.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    Well, let’s talk about going in a different direction. We do want to preserve our natural, green lawn but we have watering challenges. What are some of the ways that we can do just that?

    ROGER: Well, one of the ways is proper preparation of the soil. The good soil will hold moisture for the plants, they’ll put out a strong root system so that they don’t need extra water. They can exist on minimal amounts of water.

    TOM: Are there soil additives that can help the soil hold more water?

    ROGER: Yeah. A compost is a great additive for any soil that’ll really help it hold water.

    LESLIE: So, now when you want to find out what’s going on with your soil, you’ve got to get it tested locally, correct, to find out what’s going to be the best composition and really, I guess, what kind of lawn to grow?

    ROGER: Lawns are interesting. They’ve come a long way. A lot of things have changed. We’re working with a type of soil now – a type of lawn now – called Black Beauty. It’s a mix of all fescues and we have cut out most of the bluegrass involved in it. This particular Black Beauty requires less water, less fertilization, less cutting than bluegrass does.

    TOM: And with most plants, I think – Leslie, as you were sort of alluding to – the soil composition is one that could be determined with a soil test. If you’re doing a big landscaping project like installing a new lawn, you certainly need to start with that test so you know exactly what’s in the soil to start with, correct?

    ROGER: Absolutely. It gives you a baseline on which to function from so that you can go do other parts of the landscaping.

    LESLIE: So now you’ve got the good soil, you’re figuring out what’s going to work where you are. How do you really know which plants will be, you know, not so thirsty, so to speak?

    ROGER: Well, the first thing to do is look for native plants. They always do so much better than things that we bring in – ornamental things. They really need a lot more water.

    After that, we look for plants that are going to be in the right zone. If you put a rhododendron out in the sun, it’s going to need a lot more water than it does when it’s planted on the edge of the garden. So there’s always plants that’ll hold up, like yarrow and some of the grasses and ornamental plants. My basic rule is the smaller the leaf, the more sun it will take.

    TOM: Well, that’s a good point.

    Now, when we do have drought periods, Roger, and the lawns tend to go dark and brown and brittle, I’ve heard that if we can stay off the lawns, they’ll come back fairly quickly. Do they become very, very sensitive, at that point, where you have to be careful not to kind of do any further damage that the sun hasn’t done already?

    ROGER: Yeah. It is very brittle and it is better to stay off it. And one of the other reasons where we – you have to make a decision. “Am I going to let this lawn turn brown and stay like that all summer? Or am I going to start syringing it and trying to bring it back?” So if you’re trying to bring it back, then you’re going to do even more damage because the lawn will probably be wet. But if you can avoid that section – and sometimes it’s just a section of lawn and not the whole lawn.

    TOM: Now, what does syringing it mean?

    ROGER: Just giving it little drinks of water at a time to keep the top moist so that it’ll start to turn green again.

    TOM: But unfortunately, sometimes, that’s not even your choice. You may not be permitted to water.

    ROGER: That’s right. And that’s one of the reasons that we say stay off it. Then when the fall comes, temperatures cool. It’ll come back.

    LESLIE: And I think that brings up a really good point. How do you know how to water properly to get the best use of the water that you’re actually allowed to use?

    ROGER: Well, in the first place, most people over-water. They pay all this money for an irrigation system so they’re going to let it run every day whether they like it or not. And then another one of my pet peeves, next to my mulch volcanoes, is when you drive down the road in the pouring rain and there’s a sprinkler system running.

    TOM: Oh, I hate that.

    LESLIE: That’s the worst.

    ROGER: It’s the worst ever.

    TOM: It’s either on in the rain or it’s completely missing the lawn and watering the street.

    ROGER: So what you want to do is to hit a balance where you’re using minimal amount of water and just enough to keep everything green and not be overusing it.

    TOM: Now, Roger, if we want to give the tap a break and maybe use water directly from Mother Nature, what’s your take on rain barrels? Do you think they’re a good way to collect water and reuse it in situations like this?

    ROGER: I love rain barrels, especially if you need it for the garden. If you’re shut off from watering even your vegetable garden, you can collect enough water in one of these rain barrels to keep that garden going and not have all your tomatoes wilt.

    TOM: Yeah, I’ve seen rain barrels installed under downspouts so Mother Nature can pretty much fill the barrel for you, as well.

    ROGER: That’s right. And depending on how much roof you have, you could fill those barrels every time it rains.

    TOM: Now, Roger, I’ve heard about drip irrigation being a great solution, a way to get water right to the roots of the plant without basically wasting it. Is that a good solution for areas that are short on water?

    ROGER: It’s great. It just brings the water right down to the roots, like you said, and keeps a whole profile moist.

    TOM: And avoids evaporation, right?

    ROGER: Yeah. There’s no evaporation at all.

    TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: I had fun.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Up next, mold is also a serious home hazard but did you know that one common household item can make it worse? Find out what that is, after this.

    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.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We will give you the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, I’m going to say we’re giving away, I think, the biggest prize we’ve ever given away here at The Money Pit. We’ve got up for grabs the Generac iQ2000 Portable Inverter Generator. It’s worth $799.

    Now, this really is a fantastic product that lets you bring power wherever you go: so tailgating parties, camping trips, the beach, you name it. It’s ultra-lightweight design and it makes it really easy for you to carry wherever you go.

    TOM: Yep. And it’s got lots of great features. It’s quiet. It’s probably the quietest portable inverter generator in its class. It’s got a smart LED dashboard that shows fuel level, remaining runtime, the wattage use and generator status. It’s also really easy to use. It’s got a power dial that integrates the standard start, run, stop functions into one simple-to-use dial. I mean the Generac iQ2000 is quieter, it’s smarter and it truly beats Honda.

    LESLIE: Now, here’s the deal, guys: go to or you can call them, 800-965-1172. There, you can receive free shipping on a new Generac iQ2000, plus a free copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.

    TOM: It’s a great offer from our friends at Generac and you’re absolutely going to love this generator. I, in fact, featured this on Fox & Friends and everybody flipped out over it.

    Now, if you want to purchase this product, there is no other way to get the free shipping and free book. You must go to or call them at 800-965-1172. Now, the offer is valid right now, so visit or call 800-965-1172 today.

    Well, if you’ve got a basement or an attic that is moisture-prone, you are no doubt familiar with the battle of mold. But did you know that there is one common culprit you probably have right in your home now that could be a big contributor to mold?

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s cardboard boxes, guys. We all have these in our storage areas at one point or another. And really, getting rid of them can cut down on the chances of mold taking hold in your home almost immediately. Cardboard storage boxes. they really can become a mold feast in a damp basement or attic because the mold needs both moisture and food to grow. Cardboard boxes, they’re a gourmet restaurant for mold.

    TOM: That’s right. Now, to protect your belongings and your home’s air quality from the threat of mold, it’s best to store items on plastic or metal shelving instead of on basement floors or in cardboard boxes. You want to address any basement water leaks or get great advice on how to do just that on And if mold has already started to grow, hire a mold-remediation professional to clean up that space before it gets any worse.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Larry in Wisconsin on the line who’s dealing with some siding issues. Tell us what’s going on.

    LARRY: What I did is I was watching This Old House a couple years ago and my house was just built four years ago so I just had a brand-new driveway and everything. And they were showing you how – that you could stain your driveway. And I live in Wisconsin, so I decided to stain my driveway and stuff.

    TOM: Yep.

    LARRY: And then during that time, I got some of that stain on my siding, on my – or yeah, my vinyl siding. And I can’t figure out how to get that stuff off.

    TOM: It’s on the vinyl siding, huh?

    LARRY: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s going to be a challenge. Well, since vinyl is a solid material, have you tried to sand it with a very, very fine sandpaper, like an emery cloth that may be a 220-grit or finer? Or you could try to use rubbing compound, like you use for a car.

    LARRY: OK.

    TOM: And that’s kind of abrasive, too. You’re going to have to abrade through that surface to see if you can possibly get down to the raw vinyl.

    LARRY: Right. I’ve tried Comet and I even – a little bit of gasoline or some mineral oil and all kinds of – you know what, though? I would never, ever put that stuff back on my driveway again, because the first time we had an ice storm and I went to shovel – and all that stuff just peeled right on up.

    TOM: Oh, really?

    LARRY: Oh, yeah, it was terrible. And then I had to get a pressure washer and rent that and then blow the stuff, you know. It’s just a mess.

    TOM: Maybe you need to go back and look at that This Old House segment again.

    LARRY: Well, here’s what happened, though. I was in sales for 25 years myself; I sold cars. And if I sold somebody a car, I would sell you an extended warranty, rustproofing, fabric, whatever.

    TOM: Right.

    LARRY: So all that contractor had to do was just tell me, “Hey, what color driveway would you want?” And I would have said, “What do you mean by that?” Because they can put that dye in there, that powder and then they could have mixed it right up with the cement and boom, it would have been perfect.

    TOM: Exactly, yeah. Yeah.

    LARRY: But that didn’t happen.

    TOM: You know who was one of the first architects to ever use that technique?

    LARRY: Frank Lloyd Wright?

    TOM: Frank Lloyd Wright. That’s exactly right. You are correct, sir.

    LARRY: Well, he built a lot of beautiful houses right here in my town.

    TOM: He did.

    LARRY: I live in Boyd, Wisconsin and – oh yeah, he was really gifted, that’s for sure.

    TOM: Yeah. Yep. He was way ahead of his time.

    LARRY: Yes, he was.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. I think if you try to abrade that with some sandpaper or some rubbing compound, then that’ll do it.

    LARRY: Alrighty. I’ll try that. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Hey, did you know that 20,000 injuries are caused each year by garage-door openers? Well, a simple test can help make sure your garage- door opener is safe. We’re going to share the step-by-step, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by the Generac iQ2000 Portable Inverter Generator. Quiet, portable power anywhere, from home to the jobsite, campsite, tailgating and more. Money Pit listeners who call 800-965-1172 or visit will receive free shipping and a free copy of Tom and Leslie’s book to the first 100 who order. That’s 800-965-1172 or

    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: And hey, did you know that garage doors cause over 20,000 injuries every year? Quick tune-ups, though, and a simple test can make sure yours is safe. First off, you want to make sure the door springs, the tracks and any other moving parts are well lubricated with oil. Then confirm that those big, heavy door springs are also lined with a safety wire to help them stay put in the event of a breakage.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And the door opener’s safety-reverse system and the electric eye along the bottom must also be in top condition to protect your family from injury. If your opener lacks these two safety features, it’s time for an upgrade.

    TOM: It’s also smart to test your opener’s safety-reverse system each month. Just lay a 2×4 across the bottom of the door opening. If the door doesn’t strike and reverse immediately, repair is needed.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good point, Tom.

    Now we’ve got an e-mail from Barbara in Wappingers Falls, New York. And she writes: “We’re thinking of having a retractable awning installed. However, the contractors want to install it with a roof mount. We’re afraid of having holes drilled into the roof and just having caulking around it, possibly causing leaks. The roof is only two years old. Are we being overly concerned?”

    TOM: I think your concern is warranted but I don’t think it requires panic. I think that in this particular situation, a contractor that knows what they’re doing can properly install this awning to the roof without causing a leak. There’s lot of ways to do this but generally, you’re going to go under the existing roof shingles to make the physical connection and then have those shingles cover the fastening points. If it’s done well, you shouldn’t have any concerns about leaks, Barbara.

    I certainly would address it with the contractor, have that discussion. But it’s not something to really panic over. If you think about it, there’s all sorts of protrusions through roofs. I mean plumbing pipes – plumbing vent pipes, for example – chimneys, where different sides of the roof come together, where roofs come into walls. These are all points where leaks can occur and certainly, they’re more likely to incur in those spaces. But with the right installation practices and products, you shouldn’t have any long-term effects.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good stuff. Next up, we’ve got an e-mail here from Sharon in Somerset, New Jersey. And she writes: “We have well water, which is very cold. In the spring and summer, our toilets sweat water when they fill up and the condensation drips on our bathroom floor. We now have a third bathroom floor that has to be replaced. How can we insulate our toilet tank or any other suggestions to correct this problem?”

    Is it just the tank that sweats or is it the bowl, as well?

    TOM: Well, it’s really everything. If you think about it, if the water’s really cold and the air is really warm and moist, you get condensation, right? Just like if you have, say, a cold glass of iced tea, tote it out, took it outside, you get sort of water that would form on the outside of the glass.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Now, there is a solution for this. It’s a plumbing solution. And there’s a way to install a mixing valve that actually spills just a little bit of warm water from the hot-water side into the pipe that fills up the toilet. So, while normally you would not heat the water that goes into your toilet, you can, in this situation, put a mixing valve in there to do this, perhaps, during just the summer months. It wouldn’t be a big waste of warm water. It would be completely manageable and controllable but it would warm up the water enough, Sharon, so that you would not have this condensation problem.

    LESLIE: Because I’ve also seen inserts that would go into the tank on top, as well, that sort of helps to insulate the tank. But that doesn’t solve the bowl problem and that’s where the mixing valve comes in really handy.

    TOM: It does. And it also becomes a real maintenance headache. A mixing valve is the way to go.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good point, Tom. Thanks.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. What a great show we’ve had. We hope we’ve given you some great ideas and tips and inspiration to help tackle the projects that you’d like to get done around your house. Remember, if you’ve got questions, though, we are here, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT and always online at

    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 2016 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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