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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We are here to help you with your home improvement project. So take a look around your home or if you’re driving, maybe just think about that project that you’d like to get done. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will help you take those all-important first steps so that you get started off on the right foot.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you this hour. We’re going to talk about outdoor living spaces on The Money Pit and a deck is a great foundation for any outdoor space. And it’s also a doable project for a skilled do-it-yourselfer, so we’re going to have some tips to help you build a deck yourself.

    LESLIE: And concrete is always a great choice for outdoor building but even this über-durable material is not going to last forever. We’re going to talk about how to prepare concrete so you don’t actually have to shell out a ton of money to rip it up.

    TOM: And saving water has never been more important. And one easy way to do just that is to swap out your old water-wasting toilet for a newer model that is WaterSense-certified. So we’re going to have some info on how to do just that, in our Green Home Tip this hour.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, one caller is going to win a $100 gift card from The Home Depot to help them get started on a fencing or a decking project.

    Now, The Home Depot has got the products you’ll need to help you get the most of your outdoor living space this summer.

    TOM: So, give us a call right now and let’s get started. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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

    MICHELLE: OK. Well, we live in a home that was built in the early 70s. And in two of the bedrooms, we are having a mold issue and it’s just above the baseboards. And I’ve actually cut into the sheetrock, thinking that maybe it’s the moisture from the outside coming through but it’s not. There’s no mold inside; it’s just in the room. And I don’t know what’s causing it or how to even fix it.

    LESLIE: And are you certain that it’s mold? Have you had it tested?

    MICHELLE: Well, yeah, it’s like a – we had a piece of furniture there – a dresser there – and we moved it and we were totally shocked that there – like it was black and fuzzy. It was no – you know, it was mold.

    TOM: So if you had this furniture against the wall, you probably created sort of a chilly, damp area there. Moving the furniture out probably helps because you get a little more ventilation behind it. But what I would do is I would spray that mold down with a bleach-and-water solution so that would kill anything that’s there. Protect the carpet because, obviously, you don’t want to bleach out your carpet. But spray it down, let the bleach-and-water sit for a while – maybe 10,15 minutes – and then clean it. And that will stop any further mold from growing.

    And just try to keep that area dry. If it’s very damp and it’s – and if the furniture was pressed up against it, that might be why it’s happening.

    What kind of furniture was against it?

    MICHELLE: It was really like a child’s dresser.

    TOM: OK. So it was wood. It wasn’t a couch or something like that?

    MICHELLE: No, it was wood, yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, so take a look at the back of that, too, and make sure if there’s any mold spores on that, that they’re cleaned, as well.

    MICHELLE: Alright. Thanks for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got David on the line. Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    DAVID: Well, my wife and I are in the process of building a new house. We’re six months into this project, so our – we’re ready to finish our basement floor. And we’re not sure whether we should use floor paint or if we should go with the epoxy paint.

    TOM: Alright. Now what’s your wife’s name?

    DAVID: Sharon.

    TOM: Sharon, are you listening into this?

    SHARON: I am, sir.

    TOM: Alright. Now what’s your take on this? Because we figure there’s a bet involved here.

    SHARON: Well, originally, we were looking at polished concrete. But I went to look at some and I was told that you have to redo the polish every so often. And I would like something that I don’t have to do every so often.

    TOM: Any time you put any kind of finish on concrete, you’re going to have to redo it from time to time. So, no matter which way we go, with polished concrete or with paint, you’re going to have to redo it.

    But Leslie, I’m thinking that this is a situation where Sharon and David may want to try an acid staining.

    DAVID: Well, we considered the acid stain and that was something that we kind of ruled out.

    TOM: OK. Why was that?

    DAVID: The reason being because of the smell.

    TOM: Why do you want to paint it? Why don’t you do something like a laminate that can basically sit on top of the concrete, if it’s really finished space?

    SHARON: It’s radiant-heat floor. And we were told that the best thing to do would not be to cover it with anything.

    TOM: No, I think you could put laminate flooring on that. Since you – since it’s really finished living space – I mean when you say “concrete floor,” I’m thinking basement. But this is really finished space, so you want something that’s going to be warmer. So, I think laminate might be a good choice for you. Laminate basically locks together and sits on top of the concrete. And the radiant heat will transmit up through that laminate and still warm the floor.

    I would take a look at laminate because it can look like pretty much anything. You can get laminate that looks like hardwood floor, any variety of hardwood floor, new floor, old floor, aged floor, bamboo floor, all kinds of crazy species of wood. You can also get all kinds of – all types of stone-floor looks or even something that looks like tile or looks like vinyl. It’s all available today in laminate. Super-durable stuff and easy to install. I think that’s your solution. Will that keep the marriage going?

    DAVID: How did you know?

    TOM: David and Sharon, 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, your outdoor living, whatever-you-are-working-on question, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, there is no better way to enjoy your outdoor space than doing so on a deck. So we’re going to have some pro deck-building tips for do-it-yourselfers, 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: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just be the single caller that we pull out of The Money Pit hard hat today and send a $100 gift card to from The Home Depot. And you can use that gift card to get started on a fencing or decking project with Home Depot’s Veranda line of decking and fencing. It’s a composite material that’s very easy to keep and to maintain.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? It’s so worth the investment. Whether you’re building a new fence or a deck or even just planning a backyard barbecue, The Home Depot has got the products that you’re going to need, to help you get the most out of your outdoor living space this summer. You can check out their website, HomeDepot.com, but pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ralph in Missouri who’s working on a ceiling project. Tell us what’s going on.

    RALPH: There’s two rooms upstairs and the one side, I’ve changed into a bedroom, put a bathroom up there. The other one, I’d like to take the existing ceiling out and put a cathedral ceiling in. I just want to open the room up. The ceilings are kind of low now. Somebody has put suspended ceilings in there, which …

    TOM: Made it even lower.

    RALPH: Well, yeah. And it’s got the old tongue-and – or lath-and-plaster walls and ceilings and all that. So I guess they didn’t want to go with the mess, so what do you do? You just stick up the suspended ceiling.

    But anyway, I’d like to take the existing ceiling joists out and maybe not use the rafters for the cathedral ceiling but add some new rafters to kind of follow the outline of the roof line. But I just want to make sure that if I pull these joists or ceiling joists out of here, that the house isn’t going to fall down, you know what I mean? The walls aren’t going to bow out and fall out on me.

    TOM: Well, the house may not fall down but the roof might collapse. That’s not any better.

    You see, look, if you’ve got a very high-pitched roof like that and that roof is resting on the top plate of the exterior wall and you take the ceiling joists away, those serve the purpose of tying those exterior walls into the rest of the house. Now, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it but you just can’t do it without somehow replacing that structural element.

    I would recommend that you not do this yourself, that you get help from an architect to design this. Because it’s a little more complicated than what you might think. It’s easy to cut stuff away; it’s not so easy to put it back together in the right way. And when it comes to this kind of modification, it’s got to be done just right.

    There’s other issues, too. Now, you’re going to have to make sure that this cathedral ceiling is properly ventilated and properly insulated. And that’s going to take some work. Otherwise, you’re going to add an energy-leaking hassle to your home that won’t bode well. And you might want to think about adding some additional lighting, like a skylight or something of that nature.

    So, it’s a project that can be done but it’s a little more complicated than meets the eye. I would get some professional design help on this and not just get out the old Sawzall and cut – start cutting things out of the way.

    RALPH: OK, OK. Well, that’s good advice.

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

    Well, a deck is a great foundation for an outdoor room and building one is a doable, do-it-yourself project if you’ve got the skills. So here are a few Pro Deck-Building Tips that are presented by DeWALT.

    LESLIE: First of all, for some safe and successful results, you want to focus on the basics of a long-lasting deck design, backed up by the building permits that are required by your municipality.

    Now, the most important part of a deck-construction project is a sturdy substructure, followed by properly-sized framing that is securely attached to your house.

    TOM: Now, next, deck posts need to be anchored in concrete and the fasteners have to be corrosion-resistant. Otherwise, they will not stand up to year-round weather, particularly important if you live anywhere near salt water, salt spray, that sort of thing.

    Now, stainless-steel screws are a great option. They will provide a permanent hold without the staining and the loosening that’s typical of deck nails. And you can also use specially-designed hidden fasteners that offer very dependable strength and also a very sleek look because you won’t see them.

    LESLIE: And that’s today’s Pro Deck-Building Tip, presented by DeWALT. DeWALT has expanded durability into a new line of innovative mechanics tools, including ratchets, sockets, wrenches and sets that can help you with your deck-building project. The low-arc swing on these tools really help you get into those tight spaces between banisters or brackets. Professional contractors love DeWALT tools because they’re built for a long life and they come with a full lifetime warranty.

    TOM: And DeWALT tools are available at Sears, so get building and start enjoying that brand-new deck today.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jeff in Iowa on the line who is working on a bathroom-plumbing problem. What’s going on?

    JEFF: Our house was built in 1978. Still had the same toilets in it as the day it was built, so we decided to upgrade to new, high-efficient toilets. We bought 1.28-per-gallon-flush toilets with a 10 flush rating. And we – our toilets sit back-to-back, basically. The master bedroom has a toilet that sits just behind the toilet in the main bathroom. When you flush the toilet in the main bathroom, it sucks all the water out of the master bedroom toilet. But it doesn’t do it the other way.

    TOM: Here’s the problem. You’ve got a venting issue and there’s not enough air getting into the waste line that’s probably feeding both toilets. And so, as a result, when you flush one, you cause a draw on the other that pulls the water out. A lot easier to do when you have only 1¼ gallons of water as opposed to maybe 3 or 4 gallons that it used to have with the older toilet.

    So, you need to get a plumber in to look at this and figure out where the venting has gone wrong. There could be venting that also became obstructed. You could get rodents or animals that nest inside vents. But there’s not enough intake air getting into the plumbing system and that’s why you’re getting this sort of suction problem. Whenever you have this condition or if you get – sometimes you get a gurgling when you flush or when you run sinks and water goes down, it’s because there’s not enough air getting into the plumbing system. And that’s going to be what will solve this for you, OK, Jeff?

    JEFF: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Louise in Texas is on the line and needs some help cleaning up after a gardening project gone awry. Tell us what happened.

    LOUISE: Oh, yes. We have these insidious vines. One found its way in a crack – I guess my windows weren’t very good – and it grew into a back bedroom that I had closed off this winter. And it grew across my wall and onto the ceiling. So I pulled it down and cut it off and I went outside and now it has left behind hard stuff on there that I can’t get off. I don’t know how to get it off without damaging the wall.

    TOM: Yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about and whenever you have a vine attached to a house, those attachment points are really insidious. They’re very hard to get off and it really takes nothing more than elbow grease.

    And so, if you’re talking about a drywall surface here, you’re literally going to have to sand that surface, lightly abrade that surface, because you don’t want to cut through the paper to get off anything that the vine left behind.

    Then once you’re done sanding it, then you have to prime it. And you need to use a good-quality primer here and prime the entire surface, if not the entire room, and then repaint the room. But there’s no way to clean what’s left behind with that vine debris. You have to actually physically abrade it off. Scrape it, prime it, sand it to get rid of it.

    And if you want to slow down those vines from growing on the outside of your house, think about spraying Roundup on them. Roundup, you spray it on the leaves and it goes down through the plant’s infrastructure and kills them at the roots. And that might help get it under control.

    Alright, Louise. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jed in New York on the line who’s doing a tiling project and needs help with the process. How can we help you?

    JED: I’m building a house in Upstate New York and I just had a question about how or what you guys would suggest a way to adhere tile, like for a shower surround or in back of a tub. I’ve been to a couple of different stores and have gotten a couple of different answers. They have, basically, the cement backer board and then they have a composite material. And I didn’t know if you guys were familiar with either one of them or had a preference or a suggestion for me.

    LESLIE: You’re dealing with open bays? This is brand-new construction? Nothing is on that wall as of yet?

    JED: No. I haven’t got that far yet. Just starting to look at everything and I know that I want to put in tile in the bathroom and I’m just starting to piece everything together.

    LESLIE: When you do a tiling project, your tiles, yes, are water-resistant but the grout lines will suck water in and through. So you want to make sure that whatever is behind there will do its best to withstand from mold growth and any other issues that might happen as the water does seep through the grout lines.

    JED: OK. Do you guys have a suggestion of what you would recommend doing? Is there a certain barrier that I can put behind the tile or anything like that?

    TOM: So I would stick with a standard tile backer. When you’re doing – dealing with new construction, that’s the best way to do it. I mean in the old days, we used to put wire mesh and a mud wall and that’d last for a hundred or more years. But today, the tile backers do a pretty good job.

    So especially if you’re starting with studs, I would definitely build it up with a tile backer. I would not use a composite drywall because it just doesn’t last that long. It’s very popular with builders because it gives them an inexpensive way to be able to deliver a tiled shower but invariably, after about 10 years, it starts to soften and rot and you end up having to tear it all out anyway.

    JED: OK. Well, that’s great. That helps me out so much. I can’t even tell you guys. So at least I’ve got my step; now I’ve just got to pick out all the colors and all that wonderful stuff.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Delaware where Margie has a crawlspace question. What can we help you with?

    MARGIE: I’d like to know if you should put plastic on the ground underneath your house. We have a 3-foot – you can climb under there. Should we lay plastic on that for a barrier – for a moisture barrier? Underneath a ranch house.

    LESLIE: What’s the – is it underneath the entire house or is it just under a certain area?

    MARGIE: No, it’s underneath the entire house. You can crawl under and someone said you should put plastic on top of the dirt.

    LESLIE: Now, are you having any moisture issues inside the house?

    MARGIE: Not really. We were just thinking it would be a good idea to do that.

    LESLIE: Now, generally, with an enclosed crawlspace or one that’s smaller scale to an entire home, we would always recommend putting down sort of a plastic sheathing. And you want to fill the entire space. And in areas where you do have to have seams, you want to make sure that you overlap, you know, a good foot or two so that it really lays down nicely.

    Now, Tom, would you do that if it’s under the entire house?

    TOM: Yeah, I’d put it down across the crawlspace floor, along the entire house, because it stops the moisture in the soil from wicking up and evaporating up into the air and then getting the insulation damp and making it ineffective. So, it’s always a good idea to have – it’s called a “vapor barrier” and have that down on top of that soil surface.

    You also want to check the exterior, though, to make sure that your gutters are clean, the downspouts are extended. It’s part of a moisture-management solution. It’s not just [one-off] (ph).

    LESLIE: You want to make sure you’re limiting the amount of moisture that actually gets to that – the dirt or the soil underneath the crawlspace. So if you make sure that your gutters are extending away from the house a good 3 feet or so and not depositing the water back towards that crawlspace – any sort of plant-embedded areas, you want to make sure that that soil slopes away. You just want to do your best that you can to move the moisture away.

    MARGIE: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, concrete is one of the most durable building materials on Earth. But even concrete doesn’t last forever. We’ll have tips on how you can fix up those deteriorated concrete surfaces. Perhaps you’ve got one that’s a bit worse for wear after a long winter. That’s all coming up, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trex, the world’s number-one, wood-alternative decking brand. Just in time to give your outdoor living space a summer upgrade, Trex Enhance Decking is available, in stock, at your local Home Depot. To learn more about the long-lasting beauty, hassle-free maintenance and industry-leading warranty of Trex Enhance, visit HomeDepot.Trex.com.

    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: Well, concrete is a very durable material but over time, all concrete surfaces eventually deteriorate. The good news is there are many products on the market that are designed specifically for repairs of those deteriorated concrete surfaces.

    LESLIE: And here to tell us all about one of them is Bob Schmidt from Sakrete.

    Welcome, Bob.

    BOB: Thank you, Leslie.

    TOM: Bob, you’re an expert in this category. You guys make a great product, a great line of products. But it’s been my experience that when it comes to patching concrete, that’s a place where a lot of consumers get it wrong. They’re good at mixing up concrete to set posts and even pour in small slabs and things like that. But when it comes to the repair of existing concrete, they never quite get it just right.

    And you guys have come out with a product that actually helps resolve that, so tell me about it.

    BOB: OK. Tom, last time I was on the show, we talked about Top ‘n Bond, which is a material that’s been on the market for many, many years. And the disadvantage to that product, for a guy like me who’s getting older, is I’ve got bad knees. And getting down on your hands and knees and doing that is really kind of a chore.

    TOM: Right.

    BOB: So we have introduced Flo-Coat. What Flo-Coat is is a flowable material. You mix it up using a drill in a 5-gallon bucket. You pour it out and instead of having to get down on your hands and knees, you use a squeegee. And you apply it with just an inexpensive squeegee that you can get at the hardware store.

    TOM: So I guess kind of like the same way that you would resurface an asphalt driveway, where you’ve got to spread the sealer with a squeegee. With a concrete surface, you’re just spreading the Flo-Coat with a squeegee?

    BOB: That’s correct. Very similar applications.

    LESLIE: Now, are there any limitations to, really, when it’s best to use Flo-Coat? Is it for minor cracks or can we really cover a bunch of non-pretty marks on the concrete?

    BOB: Yeah, what – Leslie, what it was designed for is for doing larger areas where the slab is structurally in good shape. If you’ve got a slab that is falling apart, if you can reach down and pick up stones out of the slab or when you sweep it, you continually get sand and you just can’t ever stop getting more sand or if the slab is just broken in all sorts of different directions – it’s heaved an inch this way and an inch that way – it’s not going to work on that. Nothing’s going to work on that. You need a jackhammer for that. You start over and you pour new concrete.

    But as long as it’s structurally sound, no, there really – those are really the only limitations. But it was designed for doing bigger areas and an area that you could cover – you could do a driveway or a good-sized sidewalk in a very short period of time since, as I say, you’re just putting it down and then pushing it around with a squeegee.

    TOM: We’re talking to Bob Schmidt – he’s a product manager for Sakrete Concrete Products – about a new product that they have out called Sakrete Flo-Coat.

    Bob, is this a good product for winter damage? You know, in our neck of the woods, we see sidewalks and concrete driveways that get sort of pot-marked as a result of salt that drips off the car and erodes the surface. Is this a good solution for driveways that have that kind of damage?

    BOB: It is, very much so. What I would do – if you had a sidewalk where too much salt has been applied and it’s starting to pit the surface, in that case what I would do is actually get a pressure washer. You need a little bit more oomph than you’re going to get out of a garden hose because the salt tends to actually eat into the surface of the concrete. I would blast all that off and then apply the Flo-Coat. Excellent application for that.

    LESLIE: So, Bob, before you get started with the Flo-Coat, what kind of prep work am I going to need to do to the concrete? Like if there’s any – I know at my house, there’d be sap on the driveway. Do I have to try to get that off as best I can before I cover it or will Flo-Coat really sort of stick to everything?

    BOB: No, it will not stick to oil, antifreeze, anything that’s dropped off a car that’s etched its way into the concrete. It won’t stick to that. It won’t stick to tree sap. It’ll look beautiful for a while but you’ll have a kind of a hollow space there and it’ll crack.

    What you want to do in those cases – in those cases, you definitely need a pressure washer to blow those off. You might also need a detergent to clean those things first. Otherwise, it will not bond.

    TOM: So preparation, as with most products, is really important. You’ve got to prepare the driveway surface but then the application sounds like it’s pretty easy.

    The product is called Flo-Coat. It’s made by Sakrete and now is a great time of year to take a look at that driveway and take a look at that sidewalk and take a look at that patio. And if it’s looking like – if it’s looking a little worse for wear, this is a way to restore that surface and have it looking great for the spring, the summer and beyond.

    Bob Schmidt, Product Manager and expert from Sakrete Concrete Products, thanks so much for filling us in and stopping by The Money Pit, Bob.

    BOB: Thank you, Tom and Leslie. Good to talk to you again.

    TOM: And if you’d like more information on Sakrete products, you can go to their website at Sakrete.com. That’s spelled S-a-k-r-e-t-e.com. Or you can also call them at 1-866-SAKRETE.

    LESLIE: Well, even though your toilet might be working just fine, it’s probably wasting a ton of water. We’re going to tell you how to switch it out for a water-saving model, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trex, the world’s number-one, wood-alternative decking brand. Just in time to give your outdoor living space a summer upgrade, Trex Enhance Decking is available, in stock, at your local Home Depot. To learn more about the long-lasting beauty, hassle-free maintenance and industry-leading warranty of Trex Enhance, visit HomeDepot.Trex.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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that we talk to on the air today is going to win a $100 gift card from The Home Depot.

    Now, you could use that to get yourself started on a fencing or even a decking project. And The Home Depot’s Veranda line of fencing and decking is made of a composite material, so it’s super-easy to maintain and it’s going to stand up to all that Mother Nature can dish out.

    TOM: And whether you’re building a new fence, a new deck or maybe just planning on a backyard barbecue, The Home Depot has the products you’ll need to help you get the most out of your outdoor living spaces this summer.

    Visit HomeDepot.com or call us right now for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got a $100 gift card from The Home Depot to help you get started on your fence or your deck project.

    LESLIE: Bill in Florida needs some help with a new home. How can we help you with that?

    BILL: My brother-in-law purchased a home lived in by a smoker of 13 years: a heavy smoker. Inundated the home with – considerably with the smoke. And we had mentioned some options to him, which was KILZ, take out the rug and sanitize his ductwork. Well, he’s done two of those three things, except for the sanitation of the ductwork and the vent system, and there’s still a preponderance of smell in there. And I was just wondering, are there any other mitigating things that we haven’t considered that we could provide to him to help him out?

    LESLIE: Did you do anything to the subfloor that was underneath the padding?

    BILL: He did nothing to the subfloor. I know that for a fact.

    TOM: OK. It would be a very good idea to prime that.

    BILL: He’s not a man of means, so to pull the rug up and put it back down is probably not going to be an option for him.

    LESLIE: Are you sure that filters have been changed in the ductwork and in the cooling system itself?

    BILL: OK, I know the filters have been changed, because I changed them myself when I showed them to him. He has not had the ductwork cleaned and one of the recommendations we’re making is that he hire someone to get in there and clean it. And when you take out the big intake vent, there’s just yellow corrosion all around that foam as it leads up into the roof of the property. So I’ve recommended that he might want to have that foam pulled out.

    But again, depending on the expense, I don’t know if he can do that. Is that something you guys would recommend?

    TOM: Well, here’s another step that you could take in the meanwhile and that is that 3M has a filter that just came out on the market that is a carbon-based filter. So it’s designed to not only filter the air in terms of dust particles but it’s also designed to remove odors from the air. So you might want to think about replacing the HVAC filters with the 3M Filtrete Odor-Reduction Filters. The carbon in there is pretty significant; it’s about five or six times more than what the nearest competitor has. It really is quite a lot and I think it might help a little bit in this case.

    Cleaning the ducts when they’re that dirty and that gross is going to be probably a good move. But you might just want to replace the filter with one that’s designed to absorb odor in the meantime.

    BILL: Well, I appreciate the assistance. We’ll try the filters and we’ll just go from there.

    TOM: Try the filter. It’s not very expensive. And it’s probably $25, $30 and it’d be worth a shot.

    BILL: OK. Hey, thanks for your time, guys. Good show. Appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s time now for today’s Green Home Tip, presented by Lutron.

    Years ago, if a plumber told you your toilet needed to be replaced, you’d have a right to be skeptical. I mean it’s pretty rare – darned near impossible, in fact – for a toilet to actually break.

    TOM: Yeah. But today, water consumption is really the big issue. So if your toilet is an older toilet – and by that, I mean perhaps made before 1994 – you will probably stand to save a lot of money by switching out to a high-efficiency toilet. The low-flows of the early 90s are not an issue anymore, the ones that we also like to call the “flush-twice model.” The new ones work really well and they use only about 1¼ gallons of water. Just 1¼ gallons. Not very much at all.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And considering some of those older toilets use 4 gallons of water, that’s a huge savings. In fact, the EPA says that a household of four can save about $90 a year on their water bill with a high-efficiency toilet. Plus, a lot of local utilities are giving rebates and vouchers to households that buy one. And that makes it really worth your while.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Green Home Tip, presented by Lutron, makers of the Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never be left asking “Who left the lights on?” again. Lutron products are available from your local home center, lighting showroom or electrical professional. For more energy-saving ideas, you can also check out our Green Home Guide or visit LutronSensors.com.

    LESLIE: Gayla (sp) in Washington is on the line looking for some cooling solutions. How can we help you today?

    GAYLA (sp): So we’re looking at installing air conditioning into our home. We’re wanting to seal all the areas so it doesn’t get hot here too much – maybe like one to one-and-a-half months out of the year – but we really need it during that time. And so, we’re not sure if we really want to go the central-air route to get a full system or if – like if we could – we have a gas furnace. If we could get a gas one – or they also talked about heating pumps. We just don’t really know what the options are and what’s going to be the best investment in our money but also going to be effective during those hot months.

    TOM: OK. How big is your house, Gayla (sp)?

    GAYLA (sp): It’s about 2,700 square feet.

    TOM: Oh. And you want the entire house cool and comfortable and done evenly?

    GAYLA (sp): Yeah, pretty much. I mean the downstairs is already relatively cool but not the upstairs at all.

    TOM: And you have a forced-air system right now?

    GAYLA (sp): Yes.

    TOM: Look, there’s no easy way to do this. You’re going to either get a central air-conditioning system or you’re not. If you had a smaller house or you had maybe just some limited, uncomfortable areas in the house, then what we might recommend is called a mini-split ductless, which can be used for zones in the house and big zones, like a two-room combination kind of a thing. But I don’t think – you’re not – certainly not going to be able to evenly cool the entire first floor or the entire second floor of the house with a mini-split ductless. And frankly, you’d end up needing so many of them that it would be more expensive than putting in a central A/C system.

    So, what we would tell you to do is to go ahead and install a traditional central air-conditioning system, to make sure that the home is sized properly. And so the HVAC contractor can do a heat-loss calculation and figure out exactly how many BTUs you need, in terms of cooling power, to deliver cool temperatures on the hottest days of the summer.

    You also want to make sure that the system that you use is an Energy Star-certified system, because that’s going to make a big difference in how much this is going to actually cost you to operate. The good news is is that the system is probably going to last twice as long as any other system in another part of the country because you’re going to use it half as much.

    But there’s no inexpensive way to do this, even though you’re only using it for two months of the year. You’re still going to have to put in a central system with all the work that goes with that: buying the compressor, buying the evaporator coil, the condensing coil, the condensing pump, all that sort of thing. It’s a job, you know? So it’s going to be several thousand dollars to do this. But I would encourage you to make sure that you do it right and use the most energy-efficient system possible so it reduces your operating cost.

    And also find out from your local utility whether or not there are any rebates available to you for using energy-efficient equipment. There very well may be; there’s an awful lot of them scattered about across the country.

    GAYLA (sp): OK. Great. Thank you.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, are your summer guests getting bugged by swarms of gnats in your backyard? We’ve got tips on how to keep those common pests away, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by DeWALT. DeWALT’s new rugged and innovative line of mechanics tools are so tough, DeWALT is proud to back them with a full lifetime warranty. When there’s a tough job to get done, rely on a trusted name. Rely on DeWALT. Available at Sears. For more information, visit DeWALT.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 we are talking about outdoor living spaces today on The Money Pit. And of course, safety plays a big role in that. So for tips on how to keep your kids safe around your outdoor swimming pool, head on over to MoneyPit.com. We’ve got advice on pool covers, pool guards, pool alarms and pool fences, all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And while you’re online, head over to the Community section and you can post a question there, just like Amanda in South Carolina did. And she writes: “I want to lay a stepping-stone walkway around the side of my house. I’m new to the do-it-yourself world. Do I need to put anything under them and how far apart should I place them?”

    TOM: I think folks think that if they just throw a few stones down on the yard, you’re pretty much done. But the truth is that a step-stone patio, maybe one made of slate pieces or something like that, is just as much work as a paver patio. If you don’t prepare the base properly – which means excavating out the soil; adding stone; compacting the stone; laying down, in this case, some topsoil and then dropping the stones and grass seed around that – it’s not going to stay. What’ll happen is it’ll sink, it’ll sag, it’ll collapse and then you’re going to be kind of in a situation where you’ve got a lot of weeds that’ll come through. It’ll just be a big mess.

    So preparation is really the key and you don’t really save anything by just using a step-stone walkway. You’ve got to have a good base to it before you take that first step.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Blake in Michigan writes: “My redwood deck is about 10 years old. My wife wants to paint it white but won’t it chip more quickly and need more maintenance?”

    TOM: Well, it certainly will and that’s why I would never use white paint on redwood. First of all, it’s a sin to paint redwood because redwood is a naturally insect-resistant wood. But what you could do is you could use a white stain on that deck. I don’t see why you couldn’t do that.

    However, remember, if you stain it or really, even if you did paint it with white, it gets dirty a lot quicker. So, my first suggestion would be to try to talk your wife out of that, Blake. But if she insists upon white, I would use a white stain, not a white paint. Because this way, it’ll kind of fade out and you can reapply it as necessary.

    LESLIE: Oh, gosh, I just keep thinking of how dirty that’s going to look.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: I’m sorry, Blake. It’s just going to be filthy.

    TOM: Well, you might be planning the most elegant outdoor soiree, only to have it spoiled by those annoying little bugs flying around your guests’ heads by the thousands. We’re talking about gnats. And Leslie has got tips on how to avoid not getting bugged by them, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: I love any reason to get you to say the word “soiree,” so we’re going to do a lot of tips about outdoor parties this summer.

    TOM: Soiree.

    LESLIE: Well, seriously, though, you guys, your outdoor party can really just get ruined in a flash if your friends find themselves constantly swatting away swarms of relentless gnats.

    Now, gnats, they’re pretty harmless but they are irritating. So to keep your party gnat-free, you need to know the little buggers love wet, rotten, organic matter like mulch, so cover your compost.

    Also, rake or turn your mulch often to avoid mold growing on the underside. And you want to make sure that you’ve got no standing water or leaves in your gutters. And keep your birdbaths and water features clean of any debris.

    Also, gnats hate vanilla. So vanilla oil and aroma-oil burners can keep them away, as vanilla extract on cotton balls placed strategically around your outdoor table, vanilla candles. You know, not only are your guests going to appreciate not having swarms of gnats flying around them, they’re actually going to like how it smells.

    TOM: So if you have vanilla-themed soirees, you’re OK.

    LESLIE: Does vanilla vodka work? Because that’s pretty good in the summer, as well.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Coming up next week on the program, we’re going to talk about window boxes. They can transform a dull house into one that has instant charm and curb appeal. We’ll tell you how to create them, 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.

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (Copyright 2013 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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