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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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. We are standing by to help you with your fall home improvement project. We know there’s one on your to-do list. Let’s put it on the “done” list. Pick up the phone right now, give us a call; we will help. 888-666-3974. We will help hold the ladder, so to speak, as you rise above new heights to tackle your next project around your house. But you’ve got to help yourself first by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Speaking of fall, it signals the time to prepare for the fire season. You know, nobody ever thinks they’re going to become a victim of a house fire, of course, but the statistics on fire fatalities are crazy-high. So we’re going to have some tips on how to keep your home and your family safe this hour, coming up.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And also ahead this hour, we’re going to share some tips on a valuable piece of equipment in your home that really needs some securing. And I’m talking about your computer.

    Now, get this: October is Cyber-Security Awareness Month. I swear there’s a month for everything.

    TOM: Did you send me a card?

    LESLIE: No, I’m going to e-mail you one.

    TOM: Well, you’ll probably – you’ll e-mail them.

    LESLIE: So, in just a few minutes, we’re going to debunk some myths about computer safety and hopefully prevent you from learning a lesson about computer backup the hard way.

    Tom, I feel like you’re talking to me in this intro tip, just because I’ve had some issues with computer safety.

    TOM: Well, you’ll have to pay attention, as well.

    And if you’re looking for a way to add some value and style to your property, you might want to think about a spiral staircase.

    Leslie, I actually used to build these for a living many, many moons ago. And I can tell you they’re absolutely gorgeous and they’ve even become far easier to order and to install.

    So we’re going to tell you about a do-it-yourself way to add one to your home, coming up.

    LESLIE: Step one: cut giant, circular hole in floor.

    Alright, guys. And one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to win a great prize. You’re going to save water and money because we’re giving away a HydroRight Dual-Flush System. And this is going to convert standard toilets into water-saving, dual-flush systems with no tank removal necessary. And it’s a total do-it-yourself project.

    TOM: So give us a call right now with your home improvement question. We’re standing by to help. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    JOHN: OK. Well, we’ve got a problem here. The house was built in ’64. It’s a ranch; the garage is below. Part of the grade is like a raised ranch in the back.

    TOM: Right.

    JOHN: And I’ve always had a concrete, dusty, sheetrock smell to the basement. It’s this almost old – well, like old-home smell.

    TOM: Right, OK.

    JOHN: It reminds me of rubbing your towels on the concrete or – it gets in the bed sheets, it gets in the linens upstairs and the clothes.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: It’s completely throughout the house. I’ve had inspectors come in looking for mold or moisture or whatever. They checked normal moisture everywhere in the walls.

    TOM: Right.

    JOHN: There’s no evidence of any spotting or any kind of mold growing but it’s got this odor.

    TOM: Right. And this is an unconditioned space of the house? In other words, there’s not – this is not – your heating system doesn’t extend to this area, John?

    JOHN: Yeah, well, the boiler furnace is downstairs in the middle of all this.

    TOM: Right. But the duct system is not – there’s no supply registers or return registers down there?

    JOHN: Right. The duct system is only for the A/C and the A/C is up in the attic.

    TOM: I see.

    JOHN: And it’s a hot water-base heat.

    TOM: This is a hot-water system.

    JOHN: Yeah, a hot-water system.

    TOM: OK. So, what’s the finish on the block walls now? Is it just wall?

    JOHN: Right now, there may be some – the Waterplug paint or the water – actually, it’s just a green paint but it might have had – I know there was Waterplug, there’s other kinds of things they paint with but I think that’s about it.

    TOM: Water-resistant paint? OK.

    JOHN: And in the garage, there’s no finish. Part of the basement is closed off and that has a green, paint-like coating on the walls.

    TOM: How long has it been like this? Has it always been this way or is this something that’s …?

    JOHN: I think it has been. It’s been here since – ’64, the house was built. And I started coming here 20, 30 years ago.

    TOM: Right. Alright. Well, I mean I suspect that you probably have – you would normally have higher humidity levels in that space. And because it’s a hot-water system, one of my theories was going to be that we could start to use some of that air in the return duct and move it through the house a bit; condition it. But that’s going to be impossible to do because the way your house is configured.

    So, I would do two things. I would do everything possible to reduce the humidity levels in the basement area and that’s going to happen at the outside edge of the house, by making sure that we have letter-perfect drainage conditions. On MoneyPit.com, there are articles on how to solve a wet basement. I realize you don’t have a wet basement but the same exact advice applies.

    And it’ll give you step-by-step on things like cleaning gutters, extending spouts, making sure they’re designed properly, making sure there’s enough downspouts for the square footage of roof that you have. And then, secondly, the regrading of the foundation perimeter: sloping that soil away so we get perfect drainage at the outside.

    The second thing that I would do is I would scrape, prime and repaint the interior of the foundation walls. And I would use a good, epoxy-based masonry paint for that. And then thirdly, I would add a dehumidifier down there. And there are humidifiers that are self-draining. So if you have the opportunity to drain it to a lower part – a sump pit, anything like that – or if not, you can get a humidifier on a condensate pump and lift it up and drop it into a drain wherever it’s available.

    The other thing I would check is – and you said you had inspections. But I would just make sure that we take a look at the plumbing system. If for any reason there is a dried-out trap – for example, if you had a floor drain or some other type of drain down there where there was no water that was collected in that trap, which is the U-shaped part – that can let sewage gas back up into the house, from the house, from the street.

    LESLIE: And that can be really stinky.

    TOM: Yeah and that can be pretty nasty. So those are the basics that I would do to try to reduce odors down there.

    JOHN: Yeah. Well, OK, that’s a great thing to try. Well, I’m telling you, I have installed a Humiduct. You know what that is?

    TOM: Yeah but that’s not going to be very effective.

    JOHN: OK. Well, I thought it was worth a try.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JOHN: And I put it in and it didn’t really do much.

    TOM: Yeah. A dehumidifier is going to be much, much more effective. But manage the water from the outside first, because that really is the easiest way to stop – to slow down how much gets into the air.

    JOHN: Yeah.

    TOM: Problem is that concrete-block walls are very hydroscopic. They’re like sponges; they soak up the water from the outside and then they release it into the basement. And that’s where you get kind of that heavy, damp, kind of musty odor.

    JOHN: Yeah. Well, it’s a poured-concrete foundation.

    TOM: Well, the same thing applies. It will release it up into the air.

    JOHN: Yeah, they will. And I’ve got a – part of the basement is with vinyl tile.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And underneath that tile is the white calcignificance (ph). Is that it?

    TOM: Well, if you’re seeing white – you’re seeing that white, crusty, mineral deposits? Is that what you’re telling me?

    JOHN: I don’t know if it’s mineral but it’s white powder underneath some of it.

    TOM: That means you’ve got moisture. What you’re seeing is moisture that’s in the floor that evaporates and leaves the mineral salts behind. So that there is evidence that you have a moisture problem and the moisture problem can be resolved if you follow the exterior-drainage advice I just gave you.

    JOHN: OK.

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

    JOHN: Thank you for your help. Bye bye.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair, home improvement, design, décor, holiday decorating. Whatever you are working on, we are here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Coming up next, we’re going to have some tips on protecting what might be the most valuable piece of electronic equipment in your home: your computer.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene spray-foam insulation. Icynene fills the spaces other insulations miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings. Learn more and find a dealer at Icynene.com. I-c-y-n-e-n-e.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And hey, guys, don’t forget we’re giving away a great way for you to save money and water at your money pit this hour. One of you lucky callers who gets into The Money Pit this hour, asks your home improvement question on air, is going to get thrown into The Money Pit hard hat. We’re going to pick out that name and that lucky winner is going to get the HydroRight Converter, which is going to turn any standard toilet into a dual-flush system. So you’re going to get quick flushes for liquids and a full flush for when you need it.

    And this was invented by a plumber. It’s super-easy to install. Not one single tool is required. It’s worth about 20 bucks but it’s going to save you a bucket load of money. Get that? Buckets? Ha ha.

    So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your home improvement project and your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, your home computer has become one of the most valuable pieces of equipment in the average house. It’s not just because of the computer itself but mostly because of the information it stores. And October is National Cyber-Security Awareness month. So, in celebration of that, now is a good time to test your knowledge on keeping your computer safe.

    The Department of Homeland Security says that one of the most important tips to cyber-security is choosing good passwords. So you don’t want to make it obvious, like an address, your pet’s name. The longer the better, so think about short sentences instead of words and mix in some numbers with lower- and upper-case letters, as well. And also think about misspelling a word or two. The problem is you have to remember how you misspelled that word when you try to use it.

    LESLIE: And you have to remember all of those passwords. And of course, you can’t write them down on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere in your house.

    TOM: Oh, no.

    LESLIE: Aye-yi-yi. I mean it really is a lot to keep track of. And if you’re thinking, “Well, I don’t really have to worry about this because attackers are only going after computers that have lots of important information or maybe people who’ve got lots of money,” think again. Homeland Security, they say that a lot of people believe this but anyone can be a victim of identity theft. And anyone with any digital financial information is at risk.

    Now, it’s also a myth that antivirus software is 100-percent effective. You also need to practice good security habits. Besides good passwords, you want to lock your computer when you’re away from it and disconnect it from the internet when you’re not using it.

    TOM: That’s right. And also, don’t forget to have a good backup strategy.

    This part is for you, Leslie, because I know this has happened to you.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yes.

    TOM: You want to combine both local external hard drives and a remote backup system. You know, there are many virtual services that are available today that work over the net 24-7, 365 days a year and they back up your computer to cloud-based servers. In other words, these are servers that are out in the sky somewhere, where the info is always there. And if you ever need to access it, you can grab it again.

    These cloud-based systems, there’s a whole bunch of different ones that are offered. We have one at our house that I’m very happy with and it just runs all the time. You don’t have to worry about – think about backing it up. I know that if we ever lost a hard drive, it would take me a few hours to get the new one put it.

    LESLIE: It would take you a few hours to stop crying.

    TOM: No it wouldn’t because I know I have all the data. I just have to do the mechanical repair and then just put all the files back in but …

    LESLIE: Oh, wait. That’s me.

    TOM: That’s you; that’s right. That’s you.

    So, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a proper backup strategy that includes the local hard drive and a remote, cloud-based server system. I think, generally, for somewhere around anywhere between $25 and $50 a year, you can protect the computer 24-7 by one of these cloud-based systems. And that’s a small …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I spent that in tissues alone the last time I lost the hard drive.

    TOM: I know. That’s a small price to pay if you lose your hard drive, as you well know.

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

    LESLIE: Fran in New Jersey needs some help with a caulking project. What can we do for you today?

    FRAN: Hi. Yeah, we had our bathroom redone about five or six years ago.

    TOM: OK.

    FRAN: And it seems that the bathtub where the tiles meet the bathtub, the caulk? It keeps on not cracking exactly but …

    LESLIE: But pulling away?

    FRAN: Pulling away. Thank you. And we’ve had it redone. Now, we had it done professionally and we’ve had it redone a few times and it keeps on happening. And it’s driving me crazy because it always looks dirty, because you see the black from coming …

    TOM: Gunk that gets in, yeah. Yeah, Fran, we have a great trick of the trade for that. Here’s what I want you to do. The first thing you need to do is to remove all the old caulk. Now, if it doesn’t come off easily …

    LESLIE: And this is a project you can do yourself. No more hiring somebody for this.

    FRAN: OK, we’ve done – now, we’ve done this a couple of times.


    TOM: Alright. So you know how to get rid of the old caulk. And there’s a product called a caulk softener, which is sort of like a paint stripper for caulk that makes it really easy to get the old stuff out.

    FRAN: OK.

    TOM: Now, after it’s out, you need to wipe it clean and I want you to use a bleach-and-water solution to do that. And then we want you to fill the tub with water all the way to the top.

    FRAN: OK.

    TOM: Now, the reason you’re doing that is because it weights the tub down. While the tub is filled with water, then you caulk the tub, let the caulk dry and then let the water out of the tub. What happens is the tub comes back up and compresses the caulk and this way, when you stand in it, you don’t pull the caulk apart.

    LESLIE: It causes the caulk to sort of be springy and grow with the tub and tile as there’s movement.

    TOM: That’s what you need.

    FRAN: So how – about how long should it take before it dries? Couple of hours?

    TOM: Yeah, a couple hours. Maybe do it at night and let it sit overnight and then let the water out the next day.

    FRAN: OK. Thank you very, very much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Lou in North Carolina who’s got a really interesting situation. Maybe once but Lou’s house has been struck by lightning twice this year.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: What is going on? It is just shocking to meet you.

    TOM: Lou, did you go buy a lottery ticket after this happened, because you had such incredible luck?

    LOU: No but that’s a good idea. I don’t know. I think my luck might be in the opposite direction.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s true.

    LESLIE: Oh, no, no. You’re pretty lucky you still have a house that you’re living.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LOU: That’s true. Very true.

    TOM: So you got hit twice. That’s terrible. Did you have a lot of damage, Lou?

    LOU: No. Actually, we were very fortunate: just some electrical appliances that got fried but nothing that was terribly expensive.

    TOM: OK. So you may be a good candidate for a lightning-arrestor system.

    LOU: OK.

    TOM: And you know what?

    LOU: I’ve heard of lightning rods. When I was a kid, all the houses had those.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s part of it. Yeah, that’s part of it.

    LOU: OK.

    TOM: Here’s how they work. They’re just that: they’re metal rods. They look like the grounding rods and they can stick up off the roof of your house. Usually, you put two or three of them across the peak and they’re connected to a very heavy grounding wire.

    And that grounding wire is brought from the roof down to soil and attached to a grounding rod. But where it’s brought through, it’s brought in a way where it’s not going to interfere with any electrical wiring or appliances that are in the wall near where the wire goes down. Because as you probably noticed, wherever the electrical line strikes, that energy gets sort of absorbed into whatever wiring is nearby and it causes the spike that damages a lot of electronics. So it kind of …

    LESLIE: Even washers and dryers.

    TOM: Yeah. So it kind of anticipates the strike, grabs the current, runs it from the rod, through the wire to a ground which is actually in the ground. And it does so by keeping that wire away from anything else in the house that it can cause trouble. So I mean even away from your plumbing system, because if you have that ground wire go down the house and you’ve got a plumbing pipe right inside the wall – on the other side of the vinyl siding, for example – it will jump across and can electrify the plumbing system.

    LESLIE: That’s crazy.

    TOM: So, that’s something you might want to consider. And I will tell you that those lightning-arresting systems, some of them are very beautiful. There’s a lot of very ornate designs with glass bulbs and things like that and they can look pretty cool. So, that might be a good option for you, Lou.

    LOU: OK.

    LESLIE: Lou, were you home?

    LOU: We were at home, yes. It was in the middle of the night. The first strike woke us up; the second one almost gave us a heart attack.

    LESLIE: Wait, so it was the same storm?

    TOM: OK.

    LOU: Oh. Well, actually, the first – this was – no, this was two different storms. The first time was before we lived in the house; it was when it was in construction.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    LOU: And then the second time, we were home, yes. But the house is less than a year old, so I was thinking this is not normal.

    TOM: Well, yeah, they always say that lightning can’t strike twice in the same place, except Lou’s house, apparently.

    LOU: Exactly. They were wrong.

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

    LOU: Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, when it comes to your house, a staircase, they can really be a beautiful focal point if you’ve got a deck. But they can also take up a ton of space and kind of be a pain to maintain if they’re made of wood. Well, spiral stairs, they are a way-better option and you can actually build them yourself, for real. We are going to talk to an expert about do-it-yourself spiral stairs, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you in part by Arrow Fastener Company, the leader in professional fastening products since 1929. The makers of the iconic T50 Staple Gun, the world’s bestselling staple gun, Arrow Fastener has the right tool for every application. Explore Arrow’s latest product innovations at ArrowFastener.com.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil’s complete line of routers, with Soft Start technology. You experience less kickback and better control. Pro features at a DIY price. That’s what the Skil routers are about.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And there is just something special about a set of spiral stairs that makes people take notice. You know, they add a tremendous amount of architectural detail to the inside of your home but they can also look pretty darn cool on the outside, especially if you have something like a two-level deck.

    Now, you might not think of installing those spiral stairs as a DIY project but it certainly can be one thanks to some of the innovations from the experts at The Iron Shop. Here to tell us more is Sam Cohen.

    Hi, Sam. Welcome to the program.

    SAM: Hi. How are you? Thank you.

    TOM: Well, I’m well. Now, Sam, I have to tell you a little secret. I actually used to build stairs many years ago. I worked as a stair-builder professionally and so I constructed a lot of spiral and circular staircases. And I’ve got to tell you, it took an awful lot of skill, not to just speak for myself but just for those that were involved, to craft those and make sure they fit properly.

    What you guys have done, though, at The Iron Shop is you really have made this – you sort of modularized this to a point where a DIYer truly can do their own installation, so tell us about it.

    SAM: Absolutely. What we’ve done with the spiral staircase is – our goal was to take it from the custom type of project that it always used to be. The custom-order staircase had to be built perfect, it needed professionals to come in and do it. And we’ve decided to make it something that the average homeowner/do-it-yourselfer can do themselves.

    Americans are very handy; we all love to do projects around the house. And for me, a spiral staircase is actually something I think is one of the easier home projects you’ll do. I’ll compare it to baby furniture, because I have a lot of experience with that recently. And we’ve designed the product to be very easy to put together: excellent instructions, a great DVD.

    But the whole key here is adjustability. So the product itself is designed – our standard product – that it fits a variety of heights from floor to floor. You don’t have to be perfect, per se, with your measurement. And it’s something that as you put together, you have a little adjustment. It’s all easy to do; there’s no crazy skills needed. The parts come in a box. You put it together with typical tools that you would have, from a socket set to a drill driver, and really nothing more complicated than that. And a great company to back it up, to help guide our customer through the process.

    TOM: Now, let’s talk about spiral stairs. The thing I love about them is that they are both functional and a really beautiful, architectural addition to your home. What are the sort of the standard widths that it’s available in? How skinny does it start? How wide does it get? Can it be one story to two stories? Tell me about some of the most popular options that people might want to consider.

    SAM: Sizes. As small as 3-foot-6 in diameter – that’s total diameter of the stair – to as large as 7 feet in diameter. Those are all our standard models.

    The most popular stair we sell is the 5-foot building-code spiral. Now, that stair is designed to the International Residential Code, which governs most of the states in our country.

    TOM: So that means, then, it could be used as an emergency egress stair?

    SAM: That can be an egress; that can be the stair.

    TOM: Now, when it comes to the type of construction materials that you use, is it always metal stairs or are there wood stairs that are available for inside?

    SAM: Absolutely. From metal to various species of wood, to ornate cast-aluminum to custom, stainless-steel stairs. We pretty much make everything and everything when it comes to a spiral staircase.

    TOM: In fact, I know that you made, I think, three different staircases for a recent edition of Extreme Home Makeover.

    SAM: It was a unit that was used up to a roof deck, which is another terrific use of a spiral stair.

    TOM: Well, that’s a good point because there’s a lot of unused spaces that people don’t use, simply because it’s too difficult to get to. And if you compare it with, from the outside, with a, say, a standard wooden staircase, wooden staircases take an awful lot of room. They have a pretty big footprint. Plus, they take a beating like nothing else from the elements outside and that means that you’ve got a lot of painting and priming and staining and possibly even replacing of those stairs every few years or so. So, a spiral stair can really help you avoid all of that.

    In terms of the different styles, is it available in both sort of, shall we say, a modern style, as well as something that might be more traditional?

    SAM: Absolutely. There’s many different ways to dress up the staircase that would make your stair very ultra-modern with a new – we have a new stair coming out extremely soon that is actually a multi-lined, stainless-steel rail in a box. A very modern, contemporary look at – will be an incredible price for the product. That we really expect to be a big mover in the marketplace.

    What we also have, on the other end of the spectrum, are many ways of having a much more traditional-looking staircase, where you have baluster styles, tread styles that have a much more traditional feel to them, even Colonial feel to them, especially when you get into the wood stairs. And furthermore, we have the Victorian line: the cast-aluminum Victorian stair, which really fills a great majority of really high-end projects. The Victorian is just a real winner.

    TOM: We’re talking to Sam Cohen. He is an expert in spiral stairs. He is with a company called The Iron Shop. Their website is TheIronShop.com, if you’d like to see some of the beautiful staircases that these guys make.

    So what’s the process, Sam, if you want to think about ordering one? Do you – is it done through your website? Do you typically speak with customers on the phone, get a couple of measurements from them and then send them a design? How does it work?

    SAM: Both. However the customer is more comfortable. We cater to our customers, whether it’s through online – you can absolutely order a wonderful stair online. We have a terrific team of professionals here that will guide you through the process, if you want to do it over the phone. Also, of course, with the help of e-mail these days, it’s as if we’re there on site. A couple pictures from the customer will guide them through what sizes we need. And at the end of the process, most customers are surprised how easy it is.

    TOM: Well, it’s a beautiful product. Take a look at the beautiful designs at The Iron Shop. If you have questions, you can reach them at 800-523-7427.

    Sam Cohen, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    SAM: Thank you, Tom.

    LESLIE: Well, this is the time of year to think about fire safety. Is your home prepared for the unthinkable? We’re going to tell you how to prep for fire season, when The Money Pit continues.

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

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to save water and money. We’re giving away the HydroRight Dual-Flush System. This converts standard toilets into water-saving, dual-flush systems with no tank removal necessary. So give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with whatever projects that you are working on.

    And now that it is officially autumn, we’re all cozying up to that chillier weather. And fireplaces, if you’ve got one, really make for a nice, cozy home. But did you know that Americans have one of the highest fire death rates in the industrialized world? Now, that’s huge.

    And winter marks the start of fire season, so now is your time to prepare. Here is how you want to start. You need at least one smoke detector and one carbon-monoxide detector per floor of your home. And you want to check them often to make sure that they actually work.

    Also, you want to be sure to pick up at least one fire extinguisher and mount it in an easily-accessible place in your home. And you want to look for extinguishers that are rated ABC. You’ll see some are A, some are B, some are C and that stands for what type of fire that they work on. So you want to get one that’s ABC: all three types, all kinds of fire situations that you might encounter in your home. Keep them where you might need it most, like a kitchen or a workshop or in your basement. I mean they’re not expensive and they could totally save your life.

    TOM: That’s right. And it’s also wise to keep records of your home and its contents in a protected place in the event that you have to file an insurance claim. It’s important that you can get to those records.

    Now, of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so some things that you could do that will prevent fires are to service your furnace, your water heater and your boiler now. If you keep them clean, this cuts down on the risk of fire.

    Also, clean out your fireplace and your chimney. And of course, portable heaters shouldn’t be a fire risk if you read and follow their instructions. But people don’t and they burn houses down as a result. So, keep anything flammable far away from the heaters. Follow those instructions, folks. Very, very important.

    If you want more information on fire prevention and how to build a personalized fire plan, go to MoneyPit.com and search “fire safety.”

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to head over to Arizona where Lita has a question about a sliding door. What can we do for you?

    LITA: Yes, I have a couple of sliding-glass doors: vinyl frames with the – double-paned with the argon gas.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.

    LITA: And it appears that two of the sliding portions of the door have lost their seal, so I’m getting some condensation inside.

    LESLIE: On the inside, yeah.

    LITA: Yeah and I was wondering if they can be, you know, resealed with the gas or do I just need to go out and buy some new ones?

    TOM: Unfortunately, no. Once that seal fails, the moisture starts to get in. That has to come right from the factory; it’s not something that we can fix on-site. The good news is that it’s mostly a cosmetic defect. It typically doesn’t impact the energy-efficiency of the door all that much, so you should think about perhaps living with it for a while. But if it gets really nasty-looking over time, then you can think about replacing the doors, Lita.

    LITA: OK. Yeah, because yeah, a couple of them are getting to that point where it just bothers me, where it’s impeding the view.

    TOM: Alright. Yeah.

    LITA: And what’s the sense?

    TOM: Well, if you’ve got a beautiful house and a beautiful view, then it’s worth changing out those doors.

    LITA: OK, great. Well, I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Carl in Texas on the line who’s got a heating/cooling/insulation question. What can we do for you today?

    CARL: Well, we have built a house out at the ranch. It’s a two-story house and in it, we put the spray-foam insulation: walls, ceiling, roof, everything.

    TOM: OK.

    CARL: Which, by the way, has been an absolutely wonderful thing. But the builders tried to convince me that it is cheaper to leave the thermostat set where we want it all the time.

    TOM: Well, I mean here is what I would do. I wouldn’t – I don’t know what temperature you like leaving the air conditioning at, Carl, but I would suggest that you leave it reasonably high. I’m thinking kind of in the 84-ish area so that it doesn’t get too terribly hot, not turn it off all the way. Because his point is that everything in the house holds heat and when you turn it on, it has to run that much longer to cool everything off and that’s true.

    But I wouldn’t turn it off completely; I think it’s a good idea to dehumidify the house, which is what the air conditioner does. But I don’t think you have to leave it down at 78 or anything like that. I think you can have it like 84, 86 so the house doesn’t get too terribly cold and that you will find that it maintains a reasonable temperature. It doesn’t take that long to cool off when you get there.

    Will you save money? Maybe. It really depends on how much power that system is using and a lot of other factors in terms of how well-built and insulated your house is. But I do think it’s probably a good idea to leave it on to a high degree when you’re not there.

    CARL: OK. That is what I thought and you confirmed it and I appreciate that.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, with winter upon us, it’s a great time to make sure your walkways are in good shape to survive the freezing weather ahead. We’ll tell you how to do just that, next.

    (theme song)

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And this is where home solutions live. Speaking of which, could you use a $10,000 dream-room makeover for your home? Well, our friends at Arrow Fastener will be awarding just that to one lucky listener: a $10,000 room makeover with the help of Leslie Segrete.

    So tell us all about it, Leslie.

    LESLIE: That’s right. It is a great contest. What you need to do to enter to win is you have to visit Arrow Fastener’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/ArrowFastener. Then when you log on, you become a friend of Arrow by “liking” Arrow’s Facebook page and then you can enter for your chance to have your design dream makeover come true.

    And $10,000? That’s a lot of money. And I’m going to totally hold your hand, talk to you on the phone, figure it out, what do you want, what’s going to make this room work for you and your family.

    TOM: Yeah. Spend it.

    LESLIE: And then we’re going to spend a ton of money, which is awesome.

    And the Arrow team, along with myself, we’re going to come to your house, we’re going to do this makeover. It’s going to be so fantastic, so go to Facebook today and enter for your chance to win.

    TOM: That’s right. It’s at Facebook.com/ArrowFastener. Facebook.com/ArrowFastener.

    Alright. Now, let’s go to the incoming posts on MoneyPit.com. This one is from Craig in Minnesota. Craig says, “I laid my own brick walkway a couple of years ago. Any idea why every winter at least some of the bricks break free and stick up? Besides being ugly, it’s a safety hazard. I don’t mind starting over but what did I do wrong?”

    I suspect, Craig, that you didn’t create a proper base to that patio. If you skip a step or two and you don’t put a gravel base – a solid, gravel base – properly tamped down, excavate deep enough, get the gravel in there, get it all compressed, then you get a brick walkway that’s going to pop up like that. And now is a really good time to do it before the snow comes, because the water gets under there. It’s going to lift them and pop them up and you’re right, it could be a tripping hazard.

    Now, if you’ve got concrete walkways, it’s also a good time for you to seal up any cracks that are forming in there. It’s because water is the enemy. When that snow melts in between snowstorms, it gets down there in those cracks and then it freezes, expands and pushes the concrete and the bricks even further together. So seal those cracks up now, secure those loose bricks. In your case, you may have to start from scratch, again, because otherwise, you’re just going to be replacing them as they loosen up. Because the problem with your project, Craig, was that you didn’t go deep enough to begin with.

    So, if you want to do that now, great. If you want to wait until the spring, that’s fine, too. But that’s the reason that the bricks are loosening.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know, the good thing, Craig, is that if you just sort of take things apart like a puzzle, you can actually reuse those pavers. And you really should be able to put everything back together once you fix that base and solve that problem for good.

    TOM: Well, did you know that Americans spend almost as much money decorating for fall as they do for the Christmas holidays? It’s gone well beyond Halloween, to what we call “Falloween.” Leslie has got some last words on Falloween, on the cheap, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Who doesn’t like to add a little warmth to your home during the fall season? But if you stick to just black cats and ghosts, you’re going to be tossing them by November. So think Falloween. And here are some quick, easy tips for a fall-themed spruce-up.

    First of all, take a walk in a lovely, wooded area and gather some pine cones, some leaves, some berries. And all of a sudden, you’ve got a free centerpiece or a wreath or some items to put in a hurricane on the mantle or mantle dressing. You can tell I like to take long walks and gather a whole bunch of natural stuff to put all around my house.

    And there you have your beautiful Falloween home makeover, without breaking the bank.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, we’re going to talk about an easy way to add drama to any bedroom in your house. And that is by building one of I know Leslie’s favorite projects: an upholstered headboard. It’s one of the most friendly DIY projects around.

    I know you’ve done hundreds of them and we’re going to have your secrets to success, 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.

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    (Copyright 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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