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Preventing Ladder Injuries, Reducing Clutter from Device Chargers,, and Keeping Your Driveway Safe from Winter Wear and Tear.

  • 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 it’s that ho-ho-home improvement time of the year again. It’s one of our favorite times of the year, mostly because we don’t really do too many home improvements right now. We’re kind of in that sort of chill-out mode, getting ready for the holidays. But it is time for us to plan projects for the new year. So, if you have a project on your to-do list, let’s take the first step of moving it towards the done list by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Now, there are some minor home improvements that a lot of us tackle this time of year like, for example, hanging the holiday lights. Don’t you hate when you get those light strings that worked last year and they just don’t work this year? We’ve got tips on how to fix that, on MoneyPit.com. But it’s also a time that we spend a lot of time up on ladders, hanging these things, which leads to a lot of emergency-room visits. So we’ve got some ladder-safety tips, coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And have USB charges taken up permanent residence in outlets throughout your house? I know they seem to have in mine. Well, all of us here in the studio are nodding yes in agreement with me.

    Hey, you guys, you can actually charge your smartphones, tablets and laptops efficiently without those clunky adapters and all in one place.

    TOM: We’ll tell you how.

    Plus, since elves are not going to come and shovel you out after a snowstorm, it might be time to invest in a snow blower. We’ve got tips on how to choose the best type for the average homeowner.

    LESLIE: And we can’t get enough of this hot, new gift item. Emphasis on hot. It’s the Delta Temp2O and it’s available exclusively at Home Depot. It displays the temperature of your shower’s water so you know what you’re getting into before you step in.

    TOM: It’s one of the dozens of ideas on our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide that we’re giving away free to one caller on the air this hour. So give us a call; that might just be you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: John in Michigan is on the line and is having an HVAC issue. What’s going on at your money pit?

    JOHN: Well, I’ve got a house I just bought recently and it’s on a – it’s a ranch on ­- with crawlspace. No basement.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And my heating ducts are in the ceiling and the return is on the outside walls. But it’s not ducked (ph) back to the furnace and the crawlspace is just all open down there; there’s no ducking (ph).

    TOM: Does the return duct run, also, through the attic, John?

    JOHN: Yes. So the heat’s in the attic.

    TOM: Alright. So what’s your question?

    JOHN: Should it be ducked (ph) back to the furnace for the return?

    TOM: What you’re telling me is that the duct system goes through the attic, the furnace is located in the garage. And when you pull the vent – the filter – off of the furnace, there seems to be no return connected to it whatsoever? Is that correct?

    JOHN: That is correct.

    TOM: That’s a problem, OK? Because the way an HVAC system works is it doesn’t heat the air up all at once; it recycles the air. And it gets warmer every time it goes through or in the summer, it gets cooler every time it goes through. So, you definitely have an incomplete HVAC system and you need to have a real HVAC professional come in and evaluate it and figure out the best way to get you a return system in that house.

    JOHN: OK. That’s what I wanted to know.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Joyce in Illinois who’s having a flooring issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOYCE: Well, a few years ago, I put down a new kitchen floor – Congoleum DuraCeramic kitchen floor. And it has all these marks and things on it that I had a guy come out and look at it and he said it was a problem from the factory. And I thought they were going to replace it and they never did replace it for me. And I was just wondering, what do I put down? I have home day care and I was wondering what I could put down to stand up to my home day care and still look nice.

    TOM: Laminate works really well and it’s gotten less expensive, it’s easier to install.

    Laminate floor is – can look like vinyl, it can look like stone, it can look like wood. It can look like anything. And it’s basically made of a medium-density fiberboard and then a color layer which has the pattern of the stone or whatever it is on it. And then the laminate is on top of that. So, basically, it’s a sandwich.

    And while people are comparing – would compare laminates to, say, a laminate countertop, like a Formica, a laminate floor is actually about 100 times more durable because they put more protection on it. Yeah, I’ve had a laminate floor down in my house, which is a very old house, for about 10 years. And it looks as good as the day we put it down, so I know it stands up well.

    JOYCE: Well, I know I have day care and the kids are throwing toys around and everything else.

    TOM: Sure. Absolutely.

    JOYCE: Yeah.

    TOM: Kids, dogs, toys, furniture. Yeah, I would take a look at laminates. Tough stuff and easy to clean.

    JOYCE: OK. OK.

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

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

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, don’t climb to replace that dead bulb just yet. Ladder accidents will send thousands of people to the hospital this year. Make sure you’re not one of them. We’ve got your ladder-safety checklist, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door it alerts your smartphone, so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Hey, have you ever stepped into the shower only to jump out from shower shock?

    LESLIE: Yes, I happen to like a very super-duper-duper-hot shower and I’m always, you know, kind of angry when it’s not hot enough for me.

    Well, Delta has figured out a way to make me happy and pretty much everybody else out there, because they have a brand-spanking-new showerhead called Temp2O Technology. Now, the showerhead actually has an LED display with the temperature right on it. And it’s water-powered, so you have no batteries to deal with.

    TOM: The Delta Showerhead with Temp2O Technology is available exclusively at The Home Depot. But we’re giving one away to a caller, this hour, drawn at random. So maybe that will be you if you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jack in Delaware on the line who’s dealing with a whistling noise coming from his HVAC system and he thinks it’s the furnace.

    Hey, Jack. What can we do for you?

    JACK: My problem is this. I’m 67 years old. I’ve never had this as – or all the houses I’ve ever owned. But when the heat is on, it sounds like a jet plane taking off through the air ducts. Mostly up in the loft but you can hear it everywhere. So if you’re laying in a bed in the bedroom, in the loft site, and the heat comes on, it can wake you up because it’ll make like a whistling sound.

    So I called – because it is guaranteed for a year so, naturally, I called them to come take a look at this. I wasn’t home; my wife was. And then when I got home, she said, “They said everything’s fine.” Well, it’s not. So I want to call them back and I’m going to be here when they come back. But I don’t want to sound stupid and I want to make sure I can ask the right question.

    TOM: Well, the reason it’s doing that is – it has to do with the installation of the duct system. It’s a design issue. And with some systems, if the ducts, perhaps, are too small, they have too many turns in them, they’re not smooth in terms of their transition from room to room to room, you’re going to get a buildup of pressure that makes this worse.

    So, this is a problem of installation.

    JACK: OK.

    TOM: It might be that this is a higher-efficiency furnace that has a higher flow than, perhaps, other ones. You might want to talk to them about whether or not the fan speed can be adjusted. I don’t know if that will impact it. But it’s really the duct system, not the furnace, that’s causing the problem. The furnace would probably be quite silent if it wasn’t hooked up to the ducts.

    JACK: Yeah. And of course, if they didn’t fix ­- any ductwork would be just like – they wouldn’t do that.

    TOM: I would bring it up with them. But the thing is, you’re not going to be able to rely on any kind of warranty on this. Are you talking about the new homeowner’s warranty – a new homebuyer’s warranty?

    JACK: Yes, yes.

    TOM: Yeah. In a lot of cases, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. I know a lot about those programs and I’ve got to tell you, they cover builders only if builders get an F. They don’t cover A, B, C and D, you know what I mean? Unless it’s really bad, that’s when maybe something kicks in and even so, the coverage is just not good and the programs are just not solid. I used to arbitrate for some of those years ago and I remember horrific defects that weren’t covered. So, I have no faith in those programs.

    You might be better off dealing directly with the builder than trying to go through the warranty company. Because the warranty company is going to have a very specific set of standards that says what is and what isn’t covered. And you’re not required to necessarily, in most cases, go through the warranty company. You can go direct to the builder. And if you’re loud enough and persistent enough, you might get it fixed.

    JACK: That’s what – I am going to do that; I definitely want to go to the builder first. I just wanted to go to the builder armed with some kind of knowledge. See, right off the bat, you helped me because I thought it was the furnace.

    TOM: No, it’s the duct system that’s causing this.

    JACK: Alright. One more thing about the furnace. I won’t hold you. When the air conditioning was on last summer, I had to have a little bucket under this one pipe because it kept dripping. And I called them back about that and they said, “Oh, the insulation around this copper pipe wasn’t tight enough.” And so he did something – and again, I wasn’t home – and left and now it doesn’t drip as bad but it still has a lot of moisture where I keep a rag underneath the thing, just so it doesn’t puddle on the floor. Of course, that’s not right, right? I mean you’re not supposed to have any moisture, correct?

    TOM: No, of course it’s not. That’s an active leak even though it hasn’t gone to – become a drip. And it’s going to get worse in the summer when it’s really humid out. So it might just come back as bad as it was before.

    Is this a development where there’s a lot of homes that are built?

    JACK: Yes, yes. A brand-new development. It’s a 55-and-older development.

    TOM: I’ve got some suggestions for you. There’s power in numbers when it comes to that. It’s easy to ignore one homeowner but if you get a few of them together that are having the same issue, it becomes a lot more difficult for the builder to ignore.

    JACK: Funny you should say that. We had – one of the owners down the street wants to form a committee to have all our grievances listed and go to the builder.

    TOM: Yeah, I think it’s a great idea. And also involve the building inspectors locally in the municipality. Because if the building inspectors know that there’s issues with these properties, they’re going to be a lot more careful about inspecting them. And that’s something that a builder is not going to be happy about and you might just twist his arm enough to address it.

    It stinks to have to complain to get something done but sometimes, a squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    JACK: Yeah, well, I’m about to become the wheel. I’m going to squeak then.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re using your ladder this holiday, there’s a good chance that it’s the first time since last year. So, whether you’re hanging outdoor lights or just putting a topper on your tree, don’t take one step up before you take a few cautionary steps here on the ground.

    TOM: For starters, you want to inspect your ladder. This is important because worn or broken ladders cause hundreds of thousands of serious injuries each year. So make sure yours has slip-resistant rungs and feet and look out for split rungs or loose rivets. That happens quite frequently with ladders. And if you look for it, you’re going to find it and save yourself a fall.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And if you happen to be using an extension ladder, you want to make sure that it’s not pitched too steeply. For example, if your roof is 12 feet high, the base of your ladder needs to be at least 3 feet from the house. You want it to be a quarter of the distance away as the height. Does that make sense? This way, you know, you’re at a safe incline.

    And when you do climb up, make sure you’ve got somebody there to hold the base steady.

    TOM: And you know that little label that says, “Never stand above this step”? Well, follow that advice. It’s there for a reason and it can make the difference between a holiday spent with loved ones at home or perhaps in the emergency room, which we don’t want you to do. So be safe.

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

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Harriet in Georgia is on the line with a painting question. What are you working on?

    HARRIET: I have a brick house and the trim is wood. My house was built in ’78 and originally, the trim was painted with oil-based paint. And since then, it’s been painted with latex paint. And I felt like the oil-based paint lasted better, longer. And I wondered, which do you all recommend?

    TOM: Well, I mean certainly, oil-based paint is more durable in terms of sort of wear and tear because it’s harder. But if you have latex on it right now and you want to go back to oil or back to solvent-based paint, you’re going to basically have to sand that to make sure there’s no loose paint left. And then you’re going to have to prime it and then put your topcoat over that.

    Because my concern is that if it’s not prepped properly, that you might get a situation where it delaminates, Harriet, and starts to peel off. You’ve got to get rid of that top layer of paint by sanding it to make sure that whatever is left is really well-adhered to the surface that it was originally applied to. Does that make sense?

    HARRIET: Yes, it does. Well, if I did the oil-based paint and did sand it, would – is that a better paint than latex or does it really matter that much?

    TOM: Well, it’s maybe a little bit more durable but there’s plenty of good-quality latex paints that are out there today. The thing about paint is you don’t want to kind of cheapen out on it; you want to use the best paint from a good manufacturer. Because if you use like, for example, a Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams, you’re going to have good results. The only time I really suggest oil-based paint these days may be on a floor, if you’re going to paint a floor, because it’s really durable for that or perhaps on something like kitchen cabinets, where the doors are getting banged around a lot.

    But for trim, for the most part, you can use a latex-based paint.

    HARRIET: OK. I’ll do that. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Yu (sp) in Alaska is looking to put a new floor in the bath. How can we help you?

    YU (sp): It’s a walk-in shower for my wife. It’s 6×5. And trying to decide on doing ceramic tile for the flooring or doing the river stone for the flooring. And I don’t know which one’s better or lasts longer or aesthetically pleasing.

    TOM: Well, I think they’ll both last equally long. The river stone is very trendy right now.

    LESLIE: It’s gorgeous. I think it feels good. I think it has a very interesting spa-experience type of feel and look to it.

    And the river stone you can get in a variety of heights and sizes. And it comes on a 12×12 sort of mesh backing with the stone already adhered to it, so it’s very easy to install. I would only do that as the flooring in the standing shower itself, not in the rest of the space. Gives you an opportunity to mix textures and colors and elements and it really could create a beautiful look.

    YU (sp): Well, the other question, if I did the river stone for the threshold going around the shower base, should I do a ceramic stone? Because that’s 4-inch by – 4×4.

    LESLIE: I wouldn’t do the river stone on the threshold. I’d do like a piece of marble or something else that’s smooth.

    YU (sp): Alright. That makes sense. Well, thank you for your input.

    LESLIE: Oh, enjoy it. It’s going to be a nice bathroom.

    Ron in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    RON: Yeah, I have a home with a crawlspace and I have had some moisture under there. And the builder, when he built it, he ran the runoff from the roof down into the French drains. I diverted that and it’s helped a lot but it’s still moist. And I’m asking if these encapsulated systems, where they trench the perimeter of the inside of the crawlspace and seal off the systems with a dehumidifier and a sump pump – how they work and if that’s a solution to these kinds of problems.

    TOM: Alright. So first of all, the roof drains were going where before you capped them off?

    RON: Down in the French drain.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s not too smart, huh?

    RON: No, it wasn’t. I diverted that and it helped a lot but it’s still moist under there.

    TOM: Alright. So, now that you’ve got the roof drains disconnected from the French drain, are those drains extending out away from the foundation perimeter?

    RON: For sure.

    TOM: How far out do they go?

    RON: Oh, 20 feet?

    TOM: Oh, OK. Well, that’s a good thing.

    Alright. So the second thing that you could do, easily, is make sure that the soil that surrounds the foundation perimeter is sloped away. Most of the time, that soil settles after the house is built and becomes flatter or even inverted. So you want to make sure you have a pitch where the soil is running away from the foundation, dropping about 6 inches over 4 feet. You can plant something on that grass or mulch or stone after but make sure you have good, solid drainage.

    Now, let’s talk about the vents in the crawlspace. You need to have enough vents, so probably one or two on each wall. You need to make sure that the crawlspace floor has a vapor barrier on it.

    What’s the crawlspace floor now?

    RON: It’s vapor barrier only.

    TOM: It’s vapor barrier? So it’s completely covered in plastic?

    RON: Right.

    TOM: OK. And then, the other thing that you could do is you could add vent fans to the walls and have them wired onto a humidistat.

    RON: OK.

    TOM: So that when the moisture builds up inside the crawlspace because the humidity is high, the fans will come on and draw the drier air in from the outside.

    RON: Yeah.

    TOM: So those are things that you could do now, without spending a whole lot of money, to try to dry that space out.

    RON: Yeah.

    TOM: Now, the idea of encapsulating the crawlspace is not a bad approach and many homes are starting to be built that way today. But that literally means sealing everything off 110 percent.

    RON: Right.

    TOM: So since you’re kind of closer to being able to improve the grading, improve the drainage, double-check that vapor barrier to make sure it’s really solid and it’s thick and covering every aspect of that crawlspace floor. Make sure if it overlaps, it overlaps about 10 feet. Make sure it’s up against the foundation walls and then get good ventilation – cross-ventilation – in there using some vent fans wired to humidistats. You may find that that gives you the rest of the moisture reduction that you – that was left over after you rerouted those drains.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you guys sick of chargers and adapters cluttering up every single outlet in your home? Well, we’ve got news on a product that can help condense all of that charging into one space. I know you’re excited about that. We’re going to share those details, coming up.

    ANNOUNCER: When you step into the grocery store, have you ever noticed that you can smell the cleaning products four aisles away? That’s indoor-air pollution and it’s exactly what happens when you take those cleaning products inside your home. Shaklee’s green, chemical-free cleaning innovations are a better option. Shop Shaklee Get Clean products today at GreenMyMoneyPit.com. That’s GreenMyMoneyPit.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, more and more, we are ruled by our electronic devices. You know, I designed an entire wardrobe around where I plan on placing my smartphone for that day. No, seriously, you’ve got to think about where the iPhone is going to go. But really, it’s a fact of our tech life and manufacturers are really taking notice.

    TOM: Including Leviton, one of the proud partners of The Money Pit. And what they’ve done is come up with an ingenious product. It’s a USB charger outlet that eliminates the need for AC adapters for all your electronic devices. Here to tell us more is Jay Sherman, the director of marketing for Leviton.

    Hey, Jay.

    JAY: Hi, Tom. Thanks for having me.

    TOM: This is a really cool idea because in my house, we’re always battling for the charger. And somebody takes the charger and they move it to another place in the house: an office, a bedroom, wherever. You find these things all over the house but you never quite know where they’re going to be. If I just had a USB outlet that was integrated with my electrical outlets, I wouldn’t have to look very far. And frankly, I don’t see why not. I mean we pretty much need these chargers these days in every single room, so why not add these devices? Is this the first one on the market that incorporates a USB?

    JAY: There are others on the market, to be candid, but Leviton’s has the highest number of amps per USB port. And it also charges devices faster.

    How it works is we partnered with Texas Instruments. There’s a smart chip inside. The chip recognizes what kind of device – whether it’s a tablet, a phone, a gaming-system component. It will recognize that part and then it will deliver the required amount of amps to charge that device.

    TOM: Oh, interesting. So you really don’t have to have any difference in the charging device. The outlet really does it all. It knows the difference between an iPhone and an iPad and a gaming system.

    JAY: That’s correct. In fact, it knows the difference between an iPhone 4 and 5 and 6. It really is a smart device.

    TOM: And I had no idea that there were different power requirements but that’s really cool. So Texas Instruments came up with that chip and partnered with you guys.

    So, in addition to the USB port, does it have the conventional 15- or 20-amp outlets, as well?

    JAY: Well, we have multiple versions. We do have a 15-amp version and a 20-amp version so that you’d have a typical or traditional duplex receptacle alongside two ports. We also have a four-port variation.

    So, for someone who is willing to give up the receptacle in a space, they can actually put in a four-port USB charger. And that way, you can – if you have a family of four – four phones, four tablets – they can all be charged simultaneously. No wall warts, no transformers.

    LESLIE: So how does it install? Do you just go wire for wire to where an old receptacle was? Or is there any additional upgrading that you have to do?

    JAY: Leslie, that’s a great question. I’m actually speaking to you from my kitchen and I’m looking at a duplex USB charging receptacle. And it installs very, very simply. I withdrew the previous receptacle that was there and I just changed over same wire for wire, as you said.

    TOM: Well, it can’t be any easier than that. So, where is the product available, Jay?

    JAY: Purchase the product through electrical distribution or wholesalers. You can purchase it at big-box stores, like The Home Depot, and you can purchase it at Amazon.com.

    TOM: Very cool. It’s a USB charger/receptacle outlet, new on the market from Leviton. Smart enough to figure out what device is plugged into it. And once you get used to having these in your house, you’re going to wonder what took you so long. It’s, to me, a terrific way to get rid of all of those ugly chargers that we typically carry from room to room. And in my case, I won’t have to go looking for which family member took mine.

    Jay Sherman, Director of Marketing from Leviton, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    JAY: Thank you for having us.

    LESLIE: Alright. Are you having flashbacks of last winter? Maybe it’s got you in the market for a snow blower? But how do you know which one is right for you? We’re going to tell you about an entry-level snow blower perfect for the average homeowner, next on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we’ve got more than just home improvement advice. We’ve also got some great gift ideas for every person left on your holiday gift list.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you want to head on over to MoneyPit.com and we’ve got our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide, with great ideas for the gifts for the do-it-yourselfer in your life. Maybe even a gift for yourself. You know, some pretty nice stuff on there.

    TOM: Absolutely. And one lucky caller we talk with on the air this hour is going to win one of those gifts. It’s the Delta Temp2O – it’s one of our favorite gift ideas this season – an easy-to-install hand shower that tells you the water temperature before you step in.

    It’s available exclusively at The Home Depot but it goes home with one caller whose question is answered this hour. So give us a call with your question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Vicky in Louisiana is on the line with a shower-pressure issue, I would say. Tell us what’s going on, Vicky.

    VICKY: I have a shower and when I turn the handle all the way to the left, on hot, the pressure is fine. As I turn it to the right to get to the cold, it’s diminished. And when I get to the cold completely, it’s probably about 25 percent of what the hot is.

    LESLIE: Is it only on this fixture or does it happen at other showers or other sinks?

    VICKY: No, it’s just on that shower. Just that one shower.

    TOM: OK. Alright. And how old is the house, Vicky?

    VICKY: Ten years old.

    TOM: Oh, so it’s a fairly new house. Well, it sounds to me like there’s a problem with this – that shower diverter. Right. If it’s just happening on that one fixture, that rules out a problem – a bigger problem – with the plumbing pipes.

    VICKY: Mm-hmm. Fine.

    TOM: So, for whatever reason, that diverter is not working properly. It could be clogged or obstructed in some way and it probably has to be – and it would have to be repaired or replaced.

    VICKY: OK. So, is it something we can do at home or is the plumber going to have to go inside that wall to do that? The shower wall.

    TOM: You can replace the guts of it from the shower side without tearing it out. If you have to replace the whole thing, then you have to go into the wall. And if you have to go into the wall, the way it’s usually done is by accessing that shower wall from the back side, depending on how your house is built, if that happens to be against …

    VICKY: It’s in the bedroom.

    TOM: Yeah, if it happens to be against a closet or a bedroom or something like that, generally that’s a lot easier than having to go through tile or whatever the surface is of your shower stall.

    VICKY: Yeah, this is the acrylic – the one-piece shower.

    TOM: Yeah. So if it had to be replaced, you’d go – you’d do it from the back. But a plumber should be able to repair that.

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

    So, Leslie, it occurred to me that my snow-shoveling staff is dwindling with my two older kids off to college.

    LESLIE: It is.

    TOM: It’s only me and my younger son left to shovel because – oh, my wife, I should say, loves to shovel, too. But still, it’s a lot of shoveling, so for the first time …

    LESLIE: Really? She loves to shovel, Tom?

    TOM: Well, I wouldn’t say she loves it but she likes getting outside and keeping us company. And she makes a great effort at getting it done, too. She wields a shovel with the best of them.

    But I’ll tell you what, we decided this year, for the first time ever, to buy a snow blower which, of course, means we’re going to get no snow this season. Because that’s kind of the way it works, right?

    But no, I just bought a snow blower from Snapper, which I am really impressed with. It’s called the Snow Shredder. And it’s called that because the auger is serrated, so you can chop, grind and clear away compacted snow and ice, like that nasty, end-of-the-driveway snow that’s built up kind of when the plow goes through. That’s always the hardest part to get out, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s the heaviest snow, as well. And I feel like you end up doing that area three, four times in comparison to how much you’re actually shoveling the walkway.

    Now, what’s really cool about the Snow Shredder is that it’s a single-stage machine that’s perfect for homeowner use, especially if you’re like me and you’re in the entry-level in terms of snow blowers. Because, to me, a snow blower is made with my shovel.

    Now, the drive system is going to keep the rotor in constant contact with the pavement, so you can actually move forward without exerting a lot of effort.

    TOM: You’ve got to check this out. Head on over to SnowBlowersDirect.com and check out the Snapper Deluxe Single-Stage Snow Blower. Again, it’s SnowBlowersDirect.com.

    LESLIE: Paul in Michigan needs some help with a cabinet-refinishing project. What’s going on?

    PAUL: Well, I have some cabinets I’m refinishing and I have polyurethane over a stain on these cabinets.


    PAUL: And I’m wondering whether I should put an oil-based primer on there or a latex primer. I’ve had several different opinions.

    LESLIE: Are you painting them?

    PAUL: Yes. Painting.

    LESLIE: OK. Have you done anything to sort of scuff up the surface to make it a little bit more susceptible to that primer?

    PAUL: I’ve got some sandpaper – 180 sandpaper – and I’m going to start scuffing them.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because that’s really the first step. You want to rough up that surface a little bit to make it more ready to have that primer adhere, as best as it’s going to, to the surface. You can use regular sandpaper. You can use a little orbital sander. You can actually even use something called the Liquid Sander, which is a liquid material that you brush on and that sort of roughs up the surface, as well. Basically, you just want to clean it and scuff up that surface and mar into that polyurethane a bit so that primer will stick.

    Now, between the oil and the latex – you’re in a situation where you’ve got a lot of moisture, a lot of dirt and grime. An oil-based primer, I think, is going to adhere best to a cabinet situation and then allow your paint to adhere well as a result.

    PAUL: OK. And then should I use an oil-based paint, as well?

    LESLIE: No, I would use a latex topcoat. Something with a gloss or a urethane over a matte finish, just so that you get a good sheen that’s easily cleanable. If you’re going with a urethane or some sort of topcoat, you want to make sure that it’s non-yellowing. Because in kitchens, for some reason, all of that humidity and that grime tends to yellow those surfaces.

    PAUL: Well, thank you very much. That’s very helpful.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to head on up to the attic with Eric in Alaska. What’s going on at your money pit?

    ERIC: Oh, well, we bought a home this last year and unfortunately, the home inspector we’d hired neglected to find a lot of problems and one of them was they didn’t put a vapor barrier up in the attic. And so we’re in the midst of doing all the court issues with that and I’m trying to find something I can do to mitigate the migration of the moisture up into the attic or move it out of the attic until we can do permanent repairs.

    TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, when you say there’s no vapor barrier in the attic – so you’re referring to vapor barrier between the ceiling and the insulation?

    ERIC: Correct. Yeah, they didn’t do anything. They just – we have knotty, hardwood pine interior and they …

    TOM: OK. Just laid the fiberglass on top of it? Is that what happened?

    ERIC: Well, they had blown insulation – blown-in insulation.

    TOM: Oh, blown-in insulation. OK.

    Well, you’ve got to manage your moisture, as you’re well aware, and the best way to do that in an attic is with a combination of roof vents. You want to use a ridge vent that goes down the peak of the roof. Do you have a ridge vent right now?

    ERIC: Right now, we just have eave vents and gable vents.

    TOM: Alright. So what – I think you ought to think about installing a good-quality ridge vent right down the peak of the roof. That really opens up the attic and lets it breathe. I would get one that’s made by the AirVent Corporation. It’s a CertainTeed company. The reason I say that is because the metal vent that AirVent makes, it has sort of a baffle on the side of it, if you look at the profile, that really speeds up the depressurization. So as wind is blowing over your roof, it depressurizes that ridge and really draws air out of that.

    But that’s only half of the ventilation system. The other half is soffit vents at the overhang of the roof. So if you add soffit vents and a ridge vent, then what happens is air presses into the soffit, it rides up under the roof sheathing and exits at the ridge. And that’s a cycle that runs 24-7, 365, so you’re always sort of washing drier ambient air through that attic and pulling moisture out at the same time. That’s a very effective way to go.

    ERIC: Yeah. No, we have a metal roof here. So, do they have an application for a metal roof?

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t see why you couldn’t use a ridge vent on a metal roof. The specific type of ridge vent may be a little bit different and of course, the installation’s a little bit different but we see metal – we see ridge vents and other types of vents on metal roofs all the time. The roof still has to breathe, metal or wood.

    ERIC: OK. Yeah.

    TOM: OK?

    ERIC: Yep, yep. Alright. Thank you much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, this trend is back and it’s really driving me crazy but it does look good. I’m talking about painted brick. It’s popular again. But can it affect your home’s value down the road? We’re going to let you know, coming up.

    ANNOUNCER: Need to get your house clean for the holidays? Why not get your house really clean by switching to Shaklee? Shaklee’s Get Clean products rival or outperform 20 national brands. Plus, they’re safe for you and safe for the environment. Shop Shaklee Get Clean products today at GreenMyMoneyPit.com. That’s GreenMyMoneyPit.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we’ve been talking about the Delta Hand Shower with Temp2O Technology this hour. And this technology is really a kind of cool game-changer for bath fixtures, because Temp2O means that you get an LED readout of the exact temperature of the water.

    Now, there are three color indicators to single temperature range for an easy visual check. And the technology is included in many of the hand showers and showerheads in the Delta line. And the products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Another very cool feature is that this technology is powered by water. How cool is that? You’re never going to need batteries again. And the fixtures have the WaterSense designation, which means they’re going to save you water. It makes the perfect holiday gift and we’re giving one away this hour, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can always post your question in the Community section of MoneyPit.com.

    Now, here we’ve one from Joseph in Georgia who writes: “I’m considering painting the brick mantle and fireplace in my living room. Could this affect my home’s value? And is it possible to remove the paint and restore the traditional brick look once this look goes out of style or when I want to sell my house?”

    TOM: The second question, no.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s never going to look the same.

    TOM: It’s really – brick is really porous. But you know what? If you do it right, I think it could be quite attractive, especially if you use sort of that whitewash kind of effect, Leslie, where it’s not really glossy? It just kind of has sort of a white, almost lime-like effect to it? It kind of makes the brick look distressed?

    LESLIE: Yeah, I think that the key here is if you go for something that’s really solid and glossy and fully painted over, it’s just that. And it can look OK but it’s definitely a specific look. But if you do do a wash in a simple white where it does look like it’s kind of been absorbed in some areas and not so much in others and you see the color with the brick coming through, it can be really beautiful. And it’s definitely worth a shot.

    And if you don’t like that look, go ahead and paint over it fully, since that’s what you wanted, anyway.

    TOM: Well, no matter what you celebrate, there’s a good chance candles represent hope and peace in your home this holiday season. So you want to make sure they don’t have the opposite effect. Leslie has got advice for keeping the holiday spirit while also staying safe, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. If there’s one rule of thumb when it comes to candles, it’s this: don’t ever leave burning candles unattended. Yes, this includes your bathroom. I know, everybody loves to have a small candle in a bathroom. It looks so pretty and it keeps things smelling nice but it’s actually extra-flammable in light of aerosol products and the chance that children might close themselves into the bathroom unattended and have a flame in there with them. So, not a good idea, guys.

    Also, you always want to keep candles away from flammable items and clip the wick to a ¼-inch above the candle before you burn it. You need to space them at least 3 inches apart. Now, if your menorah or wreath includes candles in closer proximity, only keep them burning while adults are keeping a watchful eye. And also keep a fire extinguisher handy.

    Now, when you’re extinguishing any candle, you want to use a snuffer: you know, that little, triangular-shaped cone that you put over the candle itself to put out the flame? Because when you blow on a candle, it actually causes the hot wax to spray, which can not only cause burns but you can damage your wall surface or your table surface or any upholstery that’s nearby. Putting cold water on a hot candle can actually cause the glass or ceramic holder to break, so that’s not a good idea.

    And finally, you want to avoid burning candles all the way down. You’ve got to snuff them out when there’s about 2 inches of wax left. And be sure to keep them not only out of reach of children and pets but also far away from tossed-aside wrapping paper. We want to keep you guys safe this holiday season. I know candles are pretty but burn candles smartly, guys. You’ll be happy for it.

    TOM: Good advice. Coming up next time on The Money Pit, we’re going to talk home security. It’s never been so foolproof or so DIY-friendly. We’ve got tips on how you can use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology to monitor your home, from any place at any time, 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 2014 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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