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  • Transcript


     Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
    (promo/theme song)
    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. From towels to trowels, we’re here to help you get those projects done around your house.
    Coming up this hour, we’re going to talk recession-proof home improvements. Yes, there are some home improvement projects that work well, even in tough times, to build value in your home. We’ll tell you what they are in just a bit.
    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, we’re going to talk about improvements to your curb appeal that can keep the value of your home up, like a lush, green lawn. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to keep your lawn growing and nice and green all spring and summer long.
    TOM: And speaking of spring and summer, that is also swarm season for those pesky termites. Probably the only time you will catch these guys in the act is when they do swarm but there is a way to identify them before it happens. I spent 20 years as a home inspector and I found termite problems in one out of three homes. Could that include your home? We’ll tell you what to look for in just a moment.
    LESLIE: And this hour we’ve got a great prize, as well, that will also save you money. We’ve got the Envi eco-performance showerhead from our friends at Moen. It’s worth 75 bucks and this showerhead uses less water but will still give you a refreshing shower that you’re looking for.
    TOM: So give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Frances in New Jersey is dealing with a grout situation. What’s going on?
    FRANCES: I had my house remodeled last year. The kitchen and bath were remodeled and finished around June and the grout in the kitchen and bathroom is cracking and falling out.
    TOM: Hmm. Now we’re talking about wall tile here?
    FRANCES: Yes.
    TOM: OK.
    LESLIE: And you’re talking about the grout all over the wall or just, say, perhaps where the wall and the floor meet?
    FRANCES: The grout where the wall and the counter meet, the grout where the wall and the floor meet in the bathroom and now in the shower area.
    TOM: OK, that’s normal and here’s why. Because at the junctions of walls and ceilings and walls and counters and walls and floor, you’re never going to have a grout that’s completely stable there because they’re always in movement. There’s always expansion and contraction.
    LESLIE: The walls are, not the grout.
    TOM: The walls, not the grout. Right.
    FRANCES: (chuckling) OK.
    TOM: So where those cracks form, you need to add a good-quality caulk.
    FRANCES: Caulk, OK.
    TOM: You’re never going to have a solid grout joint in that space, never.
    TOM: OK? So that’s not a defect and that’s actually a good thing. When we saw that you called about grout that was cracking all over the place, to have a crack in those seams like that, not a big deal.
    FRANCES: Gotcha. Gotcha. So now all I need to do is caulk it.
    TOM: Yes, caulk those. And you could use a caulk that matches the color of the grout or you could use clear, but use a good-quality caulk; perhaps a silicone caulk would be appropriate.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, choose one with a mildicide, especially you’re dealing with kitchens and bath areas; you’ve got a lot of moisture, you don’t want mold growth on it.
    FRANCES: Gotcha. OK. OK, very good.
    TOM: Alright?
    FRANCES: Thank you so much.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Bruce in North Carolina has an electrical question. What can we do for you?
    BRUCE: Well, I’ve got a question. I’ve got a home that was built in the early 60s and it’s got two-wire wiring in it.
    TOM: OK.
    BRUCE: You know, with neutral and hot?
    TOM: Yep.
    BRUCE: And one of the problems is that all the duplex outlets are old, which means they’ve only got two prongs in it.
    TOM: Yep.
    BRUCE: And what I’d like to do is to change those into an outlet that I can plug a three-prong into.
    TOM: Right.
    BRUCE. So my question is what would be the problem with tying the neutral and ground together at the outlet.
    TOM: Not a good idea because it’s not going to ground properly. There is one trick of the trade but I don’t recommend that an amateur do it and that is that you can actually install a ground fault circuit interrupter into an outlet like that and it won’t actually be grounded but it’ll be ground fault protected so if something shorts, the outlet itself would turn off. The best thing to do is to run a new three-wire line across that circuit.
    BRUCE: Well, it’s the whole house. (chuckles)
    TOM: Well, you know, the thing is that, for the most part, appliances can work fine on the two outlets if you use the appropriate adapter, but you have an older electrical system and it’s not a good idea to replace that with sort of a dummy ground system because you’re not getting any protection. It’s nice and convenient to be able to plug into three-prong plugs but it’s not really protected; it’s not connected to the ground in the way that it should be and that could be dangerous.
    Bruce, if that’s – you know, if you want to take this any further, you really need to have an electrician run the ground wire and I don’t think you have to do it throughout the whole house; just to the circuits that are most important.
    BRUCE: Yeah.
    TOM: Bruce, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call; especially if your money pit is the designated house for the upcoming spring holidays; we can help you get everything in tiptop shape. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week we’re here to lend a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: And speaking of holidays, here’s a houseguest that is not welcome. We’re talking about termites. It is definitely termite swarm season and pretty much the only time of year you might catch a glimpse of what these wood-destroying insects look like. Want to know how to keep your house off that menu? We’re going to tell you, next.
    ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by APC. Protect your computer with APC’s newest energy-efficient backup 750G, guaranteed power protection that can save up to $40 a year on your electric bill. For more information and a chance to win, visit www.MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s www.MoneyPit.com/Green. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
    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. Our number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Envi eco-performance showerhead -it’s from our friends over at Moen – and you will absolutely be the envy of everyone who comes and stays at your house and uses that showerhead because not only is it extremely water efficient, but it’s got three unique settings to give you the perfect shower that you are looking for. Whether it is at the morning or the evening, it will be a great shower for you. It’s worth about 70 bucks, so give us a call for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT right now.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Well, termite swarm season is here and it’s about the only time of year you might ever get to see these destructive insects. The sneaky thing about termites is that they live in the ground and it’s often very hard to tell if you actually have an infestation. The only time that you might actually see them is if they swarm and that’s when they come out of the soil and they fly around looking to reproduce, but it only happens for a very short period of time.
    I’ve actually been on home inspections over the years, Leslie, where I’ve found termite swarms that were happening at that moment. You come back 20 minutes later and there’s not so much as a wing left. So …
    LESLIE: No evidence of it at all.
    TOM: No evidence whatsoever. So if you want to keep your house off the menu, here’s a couple of things that you want to think about doing.
    First of all, watch the drainage at the foundation perimeter. Moist, damp areas like that are very conducive to termite infestations. Also good idea to take a screwdriver, if you have a basement, and tap the sill plate – the wood sill plate – and also the floor joists all around the outside of the foundation – working, of course, from the basement – and get a strong flashlight and keep your eyes peeled for any soil-colored tunnels – mud tubes, these are called. The termites build these inside the house and that’s how they transport themselves from beam to beam to beam. Now most of their work can be done inside of the beam. If you tap it, you’ll actually poke through it; but you may actually catch them building tunnels on the outside of it as well and a flashlight and a screwdriver are the only two tools that you need to identify them.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you also want to make sure that you keep all of your firewood and any wood products that you’ve got around the house away from your foundation. Trim the fence slats and any solid wood trim around your house up off the soil. You do not want them touching the soil because those termites will find their way in. And then you want to make sure that you store any wood or cardboard that you’ve got in your basement up off the floor and definitely not in a crawlspace, ever.
    TOM: Now, if you do find termites you definitely want to call a pro to have them treated. The technology behind the treatments today is really, really advanced. In fact, most of the termidicides – that’s the pesticide that actually keeps the termites away from your house – are part of a new class called undetectables and what that means is once the termidicide is applied, the termites don’t know it’s there; so they go through it, they get it on their bodies, they take it back to their nests, they pass it from insect to insect and it’s pretty much like germ warfare for termites – wipes out the whole colony – and you never have to worry about them again. Doesn’t hurt you, doesn’t hurt the environment but definitely gets rid of the termites and stops them from damaging your house.
    If you’ve got a home improvement question that’s bugging you like that, pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Betty in Georgia has a question about the pillars around her house. What can we do for you?
    BETTY: I have six pillars that are around the front of my house, under the front porch …
    TOM: OK.
    BETTY: … and they are eight inches around, eight feet tall. They put nails around the base of those and in the front, where the sprinklers pop up and water the shrubs, over these years …
    TOM: Right.
    BETTY: … it has rusted those nails out and the water has seeped in there and bugs and it is rotted in the front of the pillars.
    TOM: OK, are these square, wood pillars; like, you know, porca (sp)? They’re round.
    BETTY: They’re round pillars.
    TOM: OK.
    BETTY: And they’re hollow.
    TOM: Hmm. Yeah. So they’re architectural. Do they look …?
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, not structural.
    TOM: Yeah, they’re not structural. Or are they structural?
    BETTY: I think they are. Yeah.
    TOM: Do you know if there’s a column, a structural column, inside and the pillar is pretty much cosmetic around the outside of the column?
    BETTY: Yes, yes.
    TOM: OK, that’s good news. So in this case, then what you could do is you could use a wood filler or a water putty or something of that nature, carve out all of the rotted area and then just simply patch those rotted spots; sand them, prime them, paint them and move on.
    BETTY: Right, right. That would – that was one of my husband’s ideas but I was looking for something …
    TOM: And your husband had a good idea. (Leslie chuckles)
    BETTY: Yes, yes. After 48 years he’s got a great idea. (all laugh)
    TOM: Alright, Betty. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Chris in New York needs some help with insulation. What can we do for you?
    CHRIS: I have an attic that we’ve converted into a bedroom and it’s never been insulated properly so, as you can imagine, in the northeast it gets kind of cold up here in the winter.
    TOM: Right.
    CHRIS: So what I’ve been thinking about is just maybe having to gut it again; you know, remove all the sheetrock and just put up insulation. But what I wanted to know is since it’s the attic and it gets kind of hot, you know, by the roof, is there a special technique or a special insulation that I have to buy that’s, you know, different than any other part of the house that you would insulate?
    TOM: That’s a good question. When you have a cathedral ceiling like that, you can’t fill the entire bay, the entire depth of the ceiling with insulation; you must leave room for ventilation. So if you have a 2×8 rafter, you can only put in insulation that’s say, about six inches deep; to leave that additional two-inch gap between the insulation and the underside of the roof sheathing so that you can have airflow, which will keep that space dry. So if you have no insulation now, then it’s worth taking the drywall down and doing this. If you already have insulation then I don’t think that’s going to buy you anything.
    LESLIE: Don in Colorado, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
    DON: Hello. I have a question for you folks. I have a lot of south-facing windows, which are excellent passive solar, but they have wood frames which take a real beating from the intense sunshine we get out here in Colorado. I’ve tried various caulk and primer and latex paint but nothing lasts more than about two years, then it starts cracking and peeling. And I wondered if you folks no of any superior product that might stand up to that sun more than two years.
    TOM: We talking about inside or outside trim?
    DON: Oh, outside.
    TOM: OK. Have you thought about wrapping the trim with aluminum?
    DON: Well, yes I’ve thought of that. It doesn’t lend itself because my house is stucco and it’s not easily done the way the stucco mates with the sills. You know?
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.
    TOM: Alright now, the trim itself; is it the standard brick mold style wood trim?
    DON: Mostly, yes. Mm-hmm.
    TOM: Would you consider replacing the trim if I gave you a product that looks exactly like that but doesn’t require any maintenance?
    DON: Well, I would consider that. (Leslie chuckles)
    TOM: OK, there’s a product out there called AZEK – A-Z-E-K. It’s extruded PVC; so it’s made of plastic but it’s sort of like a foamed structure. So it sort of cuts like wood, it sands like wood. It can be painted but you don’t have to paint it and the standard color is white. Now even if you did decide to paint it, you will find that the paint lasts a lot longer because it’s not an organic product.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, it can’t hold moisture.
    TOM: Doesn’t expand, doesn’t contract, doesn’t hold moisture, doesn’t have those sorts of issues. And if you’ve got an extreme weather condition like that that’s really giving you a hard time with the paint, this would be an excellent application for AZEK.
    DON: OK. Well I might give that a try.
    TOM: Alright, Don. Hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Mary in Maryland needs some help with a cleaning project. What can we do for you today?
    MARY: First I have the state-of-the-art water system. I live in the country and have country water, well water, and we switched water systems a couple years ago and we were without a system for several months. And I notice for this system, I keep getting a ring around the toilet water line and then where the water flows down the toilets, you get stream lines going down on both of my toilets and I have tried everything to get those lines out. I can’t get them out.
    LESLIE: Have you tried a product called CLR which is for calcium-lime-rust? That really tends to do the trick with all sorts of mineral deposit-y, line-y issues.
    MARY: I tried that when I originally first had the problem. It was like putting water in my toilet.
    LESLIE: Hmm.
    MARY: It did absolutely nothing.
    TOM: Do you have hard water?
    MARY: I don’t know – I guess I might have hard water. Like I say, I’ve got a water system that uses lots of salt.
    TOM: Oh, yes. You’ve got really hard water. Well, there’s a product out there that’s called EasyWater and it’s made by the Freije company and this is a water system that works a little bit different than the salt-based systems. Essentially, what it does is it puts an electrical charge into the water so that the hard-water particles no longer stick together and they don’t stick to fixtures, they don’t stick to anything. It’s very easy to install. It’s a lot less expensive than the water softening system that you have right now. It basically goes where the water comes into the house. There’s an electrical coil that wraps around the main water pipe and it’s plugged in and runs 24/7 to soften the water by forcing the hard-water particles to be charged and not stick together. I think if you switched to a system like that you would not have as much of an issue. Obviously you’ve got a real bad problem with hard water in this part of the country that you’re in and that’s why you’re having so many staining issues.
    MARY: And who makes this did you say?
    TOM: Go to EasyWater.com – E-a-s-y-W-a-t-e-r – EasyWater.com. It’s the Freije company and they’ve actually made these systems for manufacturers that have equipment that malfunctions all the time because of hard water and it’s been proven in the commercial field and now it’s really starting to grab on in the residential field as well.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
    Up next, lawn care tips to have your lush, green grass coming up in no time at all. We’ll tell you what to do, after this.
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. You can count on Therma-Tru for beautiful, reliable and easy-to-install entry doors. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Make sure you’ve got all your spring projects covered. Check out our month-by-month to-do list which can be found right on the home page of MoneyPit.com. We break down projects by weekend because we know that’s the only time you’re actually doing anything around the house (Leslie chuckles) and we make it easy so you won’t miss any important things that need to be done to take care of your money pit. It’s all online, it’s all free at MoneyPit.com.
    LESLIE: And while you’re organizing all of your spring projects, a big project might be staring you in the face all around your house and we are talking about your lawn. You know it could be a huge chore to get your lawn ready for the upcoming season and one of the biggest mistakes that homeowners are making is applying both grass seed and a crabgrass prevention product on their lawn at the same time. A crabgrass preventer can’t tell the difference between a crabgrass seed and a grass seed so it’s going to inhibit all types of seed from germinating.
    TOM: Here’s a couple other things not to do. You don’t want to put down the weed-and-feed before you actually have any weeds that are up because most weed-and-feed products are only going to work when the weed is actively growing.
    And also, let’s talk about when you want to water your lawn. You may be tempted to do that after you put down weed-and-feed but that’s a mistake because it washes the herbicide away. So, for best results, you want to apply the weed and feed on a wet lawn and then wait a day or two before you actually water.
    Remember that a thick, well-fertilized lawn is really the best way to combat weeds. So if you do this right, that’s exactly what’ll you have and your lawn is going to look great all spring, all summer long.
    888-666-3974.   Give us a call right now with your home improvement question.
    Leslie, who’s next?
    LESLIE: Steve in Delaware needs some help replacing a boiler. So this is a project you want to do yourself?
    STEVE: Yes, I do.
    TOM: Have you ever replaced a boiler before, Steve?
    STEVE: No, I haven’t. I’ve done a lot of hot water heaters. This one – the existing one I have now looks pretty straightforward – one flow, one return pipe – and I’m thinking about attempting it. Just wanted to know what may be – what possible difficulties I can encounter.
    TOM: Well, I mean – I don’t necessarily always like to recommend that people do a big HVAC project like that because when you get into it and start having problems you need to be able to solve them. This is probably not the best do-it-yourself project. Replacing a water heater and replacing a boiler are two completely separate projects and I think it probably worth your while having the plumber help you with this.
    STEVE: OK. I sort of agree. I think that’s what I’ll probably do.
    TOM: Alright, well we were so glad we could help you make your mind up, Steve. (chuckles)
    STEVE: OK. One other quick question?
    TOM: Yes.
    STEVE: I have a radiator that I can’t get any heat out of …
    TOM: OK.
    STEVE: … and I have bled it and had no luck; so I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the problem.
    TOM: Hmm. Do we know that we’re getting water flow to that particular radiator? I’m wondering if the water is being blocked somewhere down the line.
    STEVE: Well, in the basement I do notice it drops off on some of the pipes. It seems like the return pipe – if I’m right – the return pipe is getting warm but the flow pipe isn’t.
    TOM: Supply pipe. Another good reason, Steve, to have the plumber install the boiler. You’ll probably get all this sorted out at the same time.
    STEVE: OK.
    TOM: Alright, Steve? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, but we think you’re making the right decision not doing this one yourself.
    LESLIE: Lorraine in Wisconsin is dealing with a siding issue. Tell us about it.
    LORRAINE: Well, I was wondering if anything can be done about bulging siding.
    TOM: What kind of siding is it, Lorraine? Is it vinyl?
    LORRAINE: It’s vinyl.
    TOM: OK. So the reason the siding bulges is because it was put on too tightly. I bet you, without even seeing your house – and no I’m not stalking you, Lorraine (Leslie chuckles) – that it’s probably bulging worse on the west and the south sides.
    LORRAINE: Well, this happens to be on the east side.
    TOM: It does?!
    TOM: Oh!
    TOM: Alright. Ah, you tricked me. Well, the reason I say this is because usually the warmest sides of the house is where this happens because if the siding was installed too tightly it expands and sort of bulges and gets very wavy on the house. Now the solution is to pull off the siding, to remove it, and then to reinstall it in the same place but to be very careful not to nail it home, so to speak. In other words, don’t drive the nails all the way in. You will find that the siding is put up – has prepunched nail slots, not nail holes, and the nail needs to be placed in the middle of the slot so that the siding piece can actually slide back and forth on it. If the nails are driven too firmly into the siding, then it’s attached to the house too securely and when the sun hits and it warms up it will expand and bulge.
    LORRAINE: Oh. Can that come from pounding, like throwing – they may pound it a lot when they took the ice off the roof?
    TOM: No, not really. If the siding was put up – was nailed too hard to begin with – you should be able to grab the siding and slide it back and forth. If you can’t slide it back and forth, it’s nailed too stiffly; it’s too tight. OK? And that’s why it’s bulging.
    Lorraine, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
    Are you looking for recession-proof home improvements? No doubt everyone is. So look no further than your windows. We’re going to tell you why replacing them will pay off in the long run, even in these tough times.
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Citrus Magic; the all-natural, super-strong air freshener available in spray and solid form. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. This hour we are giving away a Moen Envi eco-performance showerhead to one caller. The Envi offers a 30-percent lower flow rate than the industry standard but you won’t be able to tell because there are three settings included on the showerhead, including one called Invigorating. It gives you a great shower with less water; that means less water that you have to purchase and less water that you have to heat. It’s worth 75 bucks but it’s going to go out to one caller who reaches us today at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will draw your name out of the Money Pit hardhat and send that eco-performance showerhead to you.
    LESLIE: Ah, but you’ve got to ask us a question for your chance to win, so pick up the phone and give us a call with whatever you are working on; especially if you’re thinking about these uncertain economic times and maybe lavish remodels aren’t your best bet at this time. Well, here’s one that’ll work for you: replacement windows. They are a cost-effective, energy-efficient home improvement that will pay off in the long run and, in the meantime, you’re going to start seeing energy savings almost immediately. You want to make sure that you’re looking for windows with the Energy Star seal so that you’ll get the best savings on your heating and cooling bills and tax credits that are part of the new stimulus package can cover 30 percent of the purchase price of the new window. Now that’s a great incentive.
    TOM: Absolutely.
    LESLIE: And energy-efficient windows that you put into your house, that’s a feature that you can go ahead and brag about to all of those potential homebuyers, if you’ve got your house on the market, and these will never go out of style.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question. Perhaps you would like to make one area of your house more energy-efficient. We can tell you exactly how to do just that.
    LESLIE: Nathan in Arizona needs some help with his money pit. What can we do for you.
    NATHAN: The bailout bill that passed is a little confusing where it talks about the tax credits for improving your home.
    TOM: Yep.
    NATHAN: In reference to air conditioners and improving those, is it 14 SEER, 12 EER to qualify for the tax credit and then it – from what I understand it’s 30 percent of the cost or $1,500 – up to $1,500.
    TOM: Nathan, it’s a good question because it is very confusing. There is a good website that we like to refer to for the most up-to-date information and it’s the website for the alliance to save energy – it’s ASE.org – and on that website we found some guidance with respect to central air conditioning systems and heat pumps that say that the Consortium for Energy Efficiency determines that you need to have a SEER of at least 16 or an energy efficiency ratio of at least 13 for most air conditioners. So if it’s a 16 SEER or better, you’re good.
    NATHAN: The next question I had is that up to $1,500 tax credit, is that per house if they have two units?
    TOM: No, that’s the maximum; so I don’t think you can get that on each unit. I think that’s the maximum credit …
    NATHAN: Per house.
    TOM: … that you can quality for, for that particular improvement.
    NATHAN: OK. Alright. Well, thanks.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Well, if you’re suffering from things that go bump in the night, you might be sharing Terri’s problem in New Jersey. You’re hearing some weird noises?
    TERRI: Yes, actually I moved into my 1966 split-level about three months ago and the first night I moved in I heard these crashing noises. The hardwood floors – there was no furniture in the living room and dining room, so it echoed, and I actually was so scared I called 911 and I walked through the house with the police on the line and it was nothing.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Wow. Oh, no.
    TERRI: But then I continue, in the evening, generally – at night – all of a sudden I’ll hear crash, crash.
    TOM: Have you considered whether or not you had like rodents or squirrels or something like that up in your attic?
    TERRI: Do you know what? Actually, I had some work done in my attic recently; I mean literally in the last two weeks. So I think the contractor would have (AUDIO GAP) if that was it.
    TOM: It sounds to me like you’ve got some animals running around somewhere.
    TERRI: I do know I have groundhogs living under my deck in the back.
    TOM: OK.
    TERRI: Could it be the heating system? It’s forced hot air and someone told me that maybe it’s just not put together correctly and when the heat goes on (AUDIO GAP).
    TOM: Well, when the heat goes on – and you can do this as an experiment – you could take your thermostat and raise it and then listen very carefully. Sometimes when your heat goes on and then the blower kicks on and the air expands in the duct system, if the duct system is not strong enough it can pop. It’s called oil canning; sort of a tin can sound like a bang.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and if a room is empty with a wood floor, it could be a ruckus.
    TOM: Yeah, and the sound will echo through all the duct systems. But you should be able to reproduce this. You should be able to turn the heat on and off and hear this banging sound and if that’s the case then that’s easy to fix. We’ve just got to get to the duct that’s causing the problem and reinforce it.
    TERRI: OK. And I guess a heating and cooling guy could do that for me.
    TOM: Yeah, but again, this should be very reproducible. You should be able to make this happen by turning the heat on and off. So do this and think about it and listen and it could take five minutes.
    TERRI: OK.
    TOM: But if you hear that, you put two and two together and you’ve got the source of your noise.
    TERRI; Thank you very much.
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    Wow, a house noise that qualifies as a 911 emergency. (Leslie chuckles)
    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
    Up next, tax incentives; they are making this a great time to take on some energy-efficient home improvements. But which ones are going to pay off the most? We’re going to answer that e-mail question when we come back.
    ANNOUNCEMENT: The Money Pit is brought to you by APC. Protect your computer with APC’s newest energy-efficient backup 750G, guaranteed power protection that can save up to $40 a year on your electric bill. For more information and a chance to win, visit www.MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s MoneyPit.com/Green. That’s www.MoneyPit.com/Green. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or, if you’re the shy type, head on over to MoneyPit.com, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and send us an e-mail question just like Ronald did from Middle Island, New York.
    LESLIE: Alright, Ronald writes: “With all of the new tax rebates on solar lighting or solar water heaters either for the home or for the pool, is now a good time to take advantage of these rebates?
    TOM: Well, it certainly is a better time than it’s been in many, many years but I will say, Ronald, that the cost of installation on some of the solar products, some of the active solar products, and the cost of buying the technology itself is still pretty high; so you really have to do a cost benefit analysis, which includes the upfront cost of the products, the installation as well as what the savings will be and how long it’ll take you to recoup that. Now the tax incentive certainly will help but make sure you do that calculation and apply it against how many years you’re actually going to be in that house, too, to make sure you’re the one who’s going to get the savings.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and Ronald, here’s a great website for you; it’s the website for the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy and that’s DSIREUSA.org. And once you get to their homepage, you’ll see the map of the US. Click on New York and you’ll see everything that’s available in your state as far as the work that you’re doing and what tax incentives are out there and it’s great. It’s state-by-state so it’s really user-friendly for everyone.
    TOM: Yeah, that’s very important because there are so many different types of incentives and not all of them are national; many of them are just state-by-state basis. That’s a great website for you to identify that. Again, DSIREUSA.org.
    LESLIE: Alright, our next e-mail is from Rebecca in Mattery (sp), Louisiana who writes: “I’m considering buying a house that hasn’t had electricity since 2005. Am I crazy? The house also had a leak in the roof that damaged the sheet rock.”
    TOM: You know, the issue there is probably mold and the reason I say that, not so much because of the leak in the roof – while that certainly could cause mold – when you don’t have a heating system that’s active inside of the house, you have a lot of moisture and a lot of humidity and the conditions are absolutely perfect to grow mold; especially in a damp, moist area like Louisiana. I would absolutely recommend that you get a professional home inspection done that includes a mold analysis on this house before you move any further in this transaction, because I don’t want you to buy a house that could potentially be a sick house and it could make you and your family very ill.
    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one from Linda who writes: “We just bought a home in Northern New Jersey with an old, electric heat pump that’s not working. Should we replace it with a new heat pump, replace it with oil, replace it with gas? What is the best option that will keep us warm and also be cost efficient?”
    TOM: Well, if fossil fuel is available, Linda – that would be oil, gas or propane – I think that’s going to be much more efficient than electric. That being said, if you have the opportunity to put in a geothermal heat pump, that’s probably the most efficient. If it’s a standard air-source heat pump, not efficient at all; especially in the northern climate, because most of the time it’s going to be working on the electric backup system which is built into most heat pumps and that’s very, very costly to operate. So I would recommend that, if possible, you consider putting in a gas appliance first.
    Now, one thing about the utility companies: typically, they will run the gas lines right to the meter, right to your house if you promise to actually use a gas-consuming appliance. It could be a range, it could be a stove, it could be a water heater or it could be your furnace. So think about actually installing a gas-fired furnace. Have the gas company run the lines in and I think you’re going to get maximum efficiency that way.
    LESLIE: Alright, Linda, I hope that helps and good luck with this project.
    TOM: You’ve been listening to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and we are so glad that you are. Hey, the show continues online at MoneyPit.com, available 24/7/365 as also our call-in phone number; so if you didn’t get in today, please pick up the phone and call us anytime. If we’re not in the studio, we may call you back the next time we are.
    I’m Tom Kraeutler.
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
    TOM: Helping you build big dreams.
    (theme song)
    (Copyright 2009 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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