Romantic Home Makeover Ideas, Home Improvement To-Do List for February, Growing Herb Gardens Inside and More.

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, let us know what you’re working on in your money pit. In fact, we are here to help. But to get us to help, you’ve got to pick up the phone first and help yourself by dialing us at 888-666-3974.

    Say, here’s a project you might be working on this week. Are you at a loss as to what to get your Valentine? How about a romantic makeover? Yes, we can come up with a home improvement angle for just about anything.

    But we know your sweetie would probably like it better than that coupon for a hug perhaps you gave her last year. We’re going to share some of our favorite romantic makeover ideas with you in just a bit.

    LESLIE: I hope that coupon was not your gift, Tom.

    TOM: No, it wasn’t.

    LESLIE: That is a terrible present.

    TOM: It was a bad, bad idea.

    LESLIE: Alright.

    TOM: No, I did something much more romantic. I think it was a vacuum cleaner.

    LESLIE: Hey, you know I’m always asking for a dishwasher. It never happens but I’m always asking.

    Well, you could also score some points with your Valentine by simply checking off items on that honey-do list that seems to just grow and grow. We are going to have a list of February chores to keep your Valentine and your house happy.

    TOM: And if your thumb is feeling more blue than green because of this cold weather, no worries. We’re going to talk later this hour to gardening expert, Melinda Myers, about how to create an herb garden on your window sill for fun and food through the winter.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And one caller this hour is going to get a $250 gift certificate from Lumber Liquidators. With their discount prices, that’s enough to get you well on your way to reflooring perhaps an entire room in your home.

    TOM: So, pick up the phone and give us a call right now. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Andrew in North Carolina is dealing with a plumbing issue. How can we help you today?

    ANDREW: Bought a house about three years ago. It was built in the 1950s.

    TOM: OK.

    ANDREW: And two-and-a-half baths. We bought it – I had it replumbed with all modern PVCs, CPVCs, the whole bit. And after that, the one bathroom – whether you use the toilet, the sink or the shower – on occasion, it’ll have a hum in the pipes. Not consistent. No rhyme or rhythm. Then we had a new septic tank put in and I was thinking maybe if they redid that, it would – something would change and it did not change. And we still have this problem. I was wondering what can be done to stop that.

    TOM: Well, the humming noise in the pipe is probably caused by a valve that’s not completely closing. So this could be the toilet fill valve, for example. As the toilet goes to refill, sometimes the valve doesn’t fully close. You get sort of vibration as the water continues to move over it and that can cause that sort of what you’re describing as a humming noise. It might just be a vibration or it could be something else somewhere down the line from that where you’re running a sink or a faucet or something else that’s just running water through the pipe. It has a bad valve associated with it and that’s causing that vibration, which is leading to the noise.

    Does that make sense as a possibility?

    ANDREW: I would understand that in the toilet but what about the sink? If you draw a cup of water, just that little bit it’ll cause it. That water …

    TOM: Yeah, well, that makes perfect sense because there are valves inside the sink faucets that this happens to, as well. So, if it’s happening when you’re letting water out or when the toilet’s refilling, I would simple replace those valves. A toilet fill valve is very easy to replace, very inexpensive. Probably about $10. Easy do-it-yourself project. Sink faucet, a little bit more money and not quite as easy but it can be a do-it-yourself project if you can fit under the cabinet, you know, to get to all the fittings and the fixtures and the faucets and so on.

    But generally, it’s a noise in the valve and it’s a simple fix. And the good news is that it will have no ill effects on the plumbing system whatsoever. So it’s just more of an annoyance that you can make go away, Andrew, if you replace those valves that are affected. OK?

    ANDREW: OK, so we replace the toilet valve and the sink valve, that should stop it.

    TOM: That should do it.

    ANDREW: OK. Well, we’ll give that a try.

    TOM: Alright, Andrew. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ve got to believe, buddy. You’ve got to believe.

    LESLIE: Sandra in North Carolina needs some help in the attic. Tell us about your problem.

    SANDRA: How can I keep pests out of my attic without finishing it?

    TOM: Without finishing it. You mean without turning it into a finished, remodeled room?

    SANDRA: Correct. Because there’s like 800-and-something square – over 800-and-something square feet …

    TOM: Well, who’s been visiting you up there, Sandra?

    SANDRA: Oh, all kinds of pests: wasps; beetles, I guess, or some kind of flying, hard bug.

    TOM: Oh, insects?

    SANDRA: Yes.

    TOM: OK. Well, you can have an exterminator treat for those sorts of things but frankly, unless they’re getting down into the house I wouldn’t worry about the occasional mud wasp nest or something of that nature. I thought maybe you were talking about animals getting in there.

    SANDRA: Oh, no. No, no animals.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s pretty common. You’re never going to make a house tight enough to keep them out. If they really bother you, you can have them treated professionally but I wouldn’t worry too terribly much about it.

    SANDRA: OK. Alright. Well, I really appreciate that.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Sandra. 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 Now you can call in your home repair, décor, design, improvement, whatever-you-are-working-on question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just give us a ring at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Hey, does February make you want to ditch any home improvement projects in favor of sitting by a roaring fire all weekend? Well, not so fast. We’re going to have a checklist of February projects to keep your house in tip-top shape and safe, after this.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    (theme song)

    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 to learn more.

    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: Hey, pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might get the answer to your question and one caller this hour is going to get a great start to a beautiful, new floor. We are giving away a $250 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators. These guys are fantastic. They carry solid and engineered hardwood, bamboo, cork, laminate, vinyl and all at the lowest prices on the market.

    Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your question. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat at the end of this hour. You might just win that great $250 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators.

    LESLIE: Ray in Iowa is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?

    RAY: My sister-in-law is a realtor and she deals with a lot of construction people.

    TOM: OK.

    RAY: A few years ago, we wanted to change our hardwood floor in our home, which was about 10 years old and it was a light wood. We wanted to go to a dark wood and we picked out a Brazilian hardwood or something like that and it was about $150 a box.

    And they delivered the wood to the home and well, my sister-in-law set us up with a contractor who wanted her to sell a house for him. And he was so happy if she would sell the house for him that she would get us an installer to install the hardwood floor for a crazy $1.75 a square foot. But he wasn’t really slapping them together very tightly and this was in the spring, in April or May, and he wasn’t really hitting the boards in very tightly. He was just giving them a little tap, little tap here.

    And I asked about that and he said, “Well, you have to have room for expansion.” Well, I don’t think that was correct. And although we have gaps in the summer, we really have gaps in the winter. Is there any way to repair this without having to tear up the entire floor?

    TOM: Well, hmm, not really. I mean look, if sometimes in a really old floor you get gaps in it, we would tell you to put jute in the space between the gaps. It looks like a burlap kind of cord is what it looks like. And you can put that in between the joints of the floor and then you can actually finish over top on it and it kind of – it helps to hide those gaps a bit. You can’t really fill them.

    RAY: Right.

    TOM: But to close them completely, you would have to take the floor apart and essentially reinstall it. Was this all nailed together or was this an engineered floor?

    RAY: It was all nailed together and it – we ended up having like three extra boxes. As I said, $150 a box.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RAY: And they refused to take it back because it was a one-time order or something like that.

    TOM: Yeah. You know what? Unless it’s noisy or coming up or something like that, I don’t think it’s a terrible problem to have those extra gaps. Maybe a bit of a cleaning issue but you could really chalk it up to charm. And frankly, Ray, you’re better off with the hardwood floor than without it, even though you’re not 100-percent satisfied with the way it’s come out.

    RAY: Right. Thanks. We got a great deal but it’s – unfortunately, a couple years down the line, it’s not such a great deal.

    TOM: Yeah, sometimes it works out that way. Ray, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. So nobody is going to tell you that February is the most ideal time of year to be outside working on your house. But that doesn’t give you an excuse to just sort of let your house fall to the wayside, you know what I’m saying, guys? You’ve got to pay attention of your house.

    So, here is a quick checklist of February to-dos. You want to start by checking for ice dams. They can destroy your roof. They form when melting snow slides down and then hits that icy, cold-y area and then freezes. If you’ve got them, do not ignore them. You will need to insulate your roof. This way, you’re going to keep that snow from melting, everything’s going to move away, no icicles, no ice dams.

    TOM: It is also the absolute perfect time to service your boiler system or your furnace. Even though it’s running, it might not be running efficiently and can totally waste energy. And if you have a fireplace, check your firewood storage. Make sure it’s stored in a dry place with good circulation or you could be inviting a termite buffet.

    It’s a good time of year to also be thinking about home improvement in your taxes. The government and Energy Star want to pay you for some of those energy-efficient improvements you’ve made. So look into this because you can get credits for things like adding insulation, replacement windows, certain high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment and so on. There’s lots of details on the Energy Star website at

    LESLIE: Helen in North Carolina is dealing with a hot-water issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    HELEN: Yeah. Our electric, 50-gallon, hot-water tank is about 18 years old.

    TOM: OK.

    HELEN: And we’ve lived here for probably 16 years. And it’s been like this since we moved in – is that we have to let the water in our bathrooms – which are about 35 feet away from the hot-water tank, which is in the garage – and we have to let it run a couple of minutes before the hot water comes.

    TOM: Yeah. The reason for that is that 35-foot distance.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Is the distance.

    HELEN: Yeah. That’s what I was thinking.

    LESLIE: Is electric the only supply option for power to your water heater?

    HELEN: Yes.


    TOM: So, there is a solution. Rheem makes a water heater that’s very small and designed to fit underneath a cabinet or somewhere very close to the bathroom. And they even one – have one that runs on 120 volts, so you can plug it into a normal outlet. And it’s designed to just provide a little bit additional amount of hot water …

    LESLIE: To get you until the main supply gets to you.

    TOM: Exactly.

    HELEN: Oh, OK.

    TOM: So, works in conjunction with them.

    LESLIE: So that you’re not wasting as much water and you can at least get in the shower right away.

    HELEN: Right.

    TOM: And the other thing that you could do is you could zone the water. This is a bigger plumbing project but you would put a second water heater near the bathroom. And you would split it off so that the water heater that was near the bathrooms supplied only the bathrooms and the water heater that was down in the basement or wherever it is 35 feet away, you know, just did the kitchen sink and the dishwasher or whatever is left that has to be plumbed: the half-bath, that sort of thing.

    LESLIE: Supplied the other stuff.

    HELEN: OK. Well, thank you.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jim in North Dakota on the line who is looking to insulate the outside of his home. Tell us what’s going on.

    JIM: I’m up there in the cold country and I want to – I’m looking to – this past summer, I put siding on my house and new windows and doors and did all that stuff myself. And then I decided I’d better do my basement foundation, especially the portion that’s exposed. And I was – what I’m thinking of doing is – Menards sells those – I don’t know if I’m supposed to say brand names – but sells those 3-foot by 5-foot sheets of Styrofoam with rocks already glued, or however they do that, on one side.

    And that’s what I was going to use but I don’t know how to attach that to the wall. And then I had a neighbor come over and told me that even if I do use that, because I’ve got about 2 foot of foundation exposed – so I’d only be going a foot-and-a-half or so under the ground with the rest of that. But my neighbor tried to tell me that if I don’t go all the way to the bottom of my foundation with foam, that I’ll create a hot/cold where I stop. And he says I’ll break my walls doing that and I’m like, “Well, really?”

    TOM: Well, Jim, first of all, are these foundation walls exposed on the basement side?

    JIM: Yeah, there’s – I’ve got, well, one, two, three windows in there and that’s another thing. I don’t know how to trim around them with that foam stuff.

    TOM: Well, here’s what I would do. I would recommend that you insulate the inside of the foundation walls, not the outside of the foundation walls. Typically, when you build a house and you excavate around the house, you do put a foam insulation around the outside walls. But short of you digging down to the footings, I don’t think it’s worth doing at this point.

    I would insulate the interior of the walls. There’s a wide variety of different types of insulation products. Yes, you can get the kind that attach to the wall. There’s also a fiberglass batt that’s sort of covered with kind of like a foil vapor barrier, that’s specifically made for foundation walls. And any of those are good options to insulate the interior of the walls.

    But just as important, if not more important, make sure you have plenty of insulation up in the box-beam space, which is the beginning of the floor structure. A lot of folks will insulate walls and leave that uninsulated and that’s actually more at risk for drafts. So make sure that the box-beam area, the sill plate, all that area is sealed and insulated. And insulate – add the additional insulation at the inside of the foundation walls, not the outside. A lot easier to attach that way.

    If it’s the foam, you could attach it with a construction adhesive. If it’s the batts, there’s different types of a clip system that comes, typically, with those. You’d buy it at the same place you got the insulation, where it would be clipped into the wall. But I do think it’s a good idea for you to insulate those walls.

    JIM: OK. He told me they do that because that’s why – he’s trying to tell me that’s why they insulate the outside of their walls up.

    TOM: No, your foundation would only crack if your soil got really wet and it expanded and it cracked the walls. If you have good drainage, then your soil should not crack based on having insulation on one side and not the other. That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

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

    NICK: I bought a house about five years ago and when I bought it, it has a rubber mat in my garage: like 4-foot strips butted together. I don’t know what that is for, if it’s for looks or help to keep the cold out.

    TOM: OK.

    NICK: But anyway, when I wipe that down with – mop it down and – the moisture coming off my car seems to have created this white powder coming up from between and underneath those mats.

    TOM: OK.

    NICK: And my son – who lives in El Cajon, who didn’t have the mats – has the same problem during the wintertime at his car. And I’m wondering where this white stuff is coming from.

    TOM: It’s probably mineral-salt deposits. Concrete is very hydroscopic, which basically means it sucks up water pretty readily. And so, because of that and in damper weather, you may have some water that’s being pulled up through the concrete to the surface, the water’s evaporating and the mineral salts are staying behind.

    So, that’s not anything to be terribly concerned about; it’s more of a maintenance issue. If you painted your garage floor, by the way, they have lots of great epoxy paints out there right now. If you painted the garage floor, that would probably cease to happen.

    NICK: That’s what I wanted to know. But any epoxy paint would do?

    TOM: Good-quality epoxy paint. Most of the systems today include a cleaner – where you use a cleaner first – and then you mix the epoxy. Typically, when you buy it, the can is three-quartered filled with paint and then has a quart hardener that comes with it. Mix it together and then you apply it and then many of them have color flakes that you can put in them to give you some texture and help hide the dirt.

    And they really do a great job and so I would encourage you to do that. It also makes it a lot easier to clean the floor.

    NICK: Right. Well, that sounds good. It’s more simple than I thought it would be. I didn’t know if I had to clean it with some acids or something to get it …

    TOM: No, no, no. Don’t make it harder than it is.

    NICK: OK.

    TOM: It’s a pretty normal phenomenon and pretty easy to fix.

    NICK: I do appreciate it.

    TOM: Good luck, Nick. 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 Well, in these brutal days of winter, you’ve probably hung up all of your gardening tools. But there are still many things that you can be growing now for fun and for food. We’re going to tell you, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, just because it’s winter, that doesn’t mean that you have to let your green thumb turn blue from the cold. Gardening expert and author, Melinda Myers, joins us with tips on how you can grow a mini-garden indoors, that will cut down on your grocery bill and add beauty.

    MELINDA: Hey, it’s great to join you and it’s good to talk gardening, despite the weather outside.

    TOM: Yes, yes. We don’t think about it much in the chilly weather but just because it’s cold outside, it doesn’t mean we can’t have a healthy, warm, spring-like garden growing inside our house, can we?

    MELINDA: You bet. And a lot of people have decided to start growing their own fruits and vegetables outside. And when maybe the gardening isn’t good in your climate to garden outdoors in the winter, you don’t need to give up that fresh-from-the-garden flavor. You can grow a few things on your window sill and add a little homegrown flavor and a little bit of zest to your meals.

    TOM: So what types of things grow well in the cold climate yet inside your heated house?

    MELINDA: You know, I think herbs are one thing we think of. They’re a great way to add a little zest to our meals and I think if you grow it yourself, it does a couple things. One, gardening just in and of itself can raise your mood and elevate your sense of wellbeing and happiness. And then having green things just really gives you hope that spring is coming, essentially.

    But there are a lot of herbs you can grow. Basil, a favorite. And basil comes in purple-leaf types, small leaf, crinkle leaves, cinnamon-flavored with a little lemon flavor. So there’s a lot of different basil out there.

    LESLIE: Now, when you’re planting these inside, Melinda, do you start with a plant that’s already grown or do you start from seed?

    MELINDA: You can do both. And one of it might be what you can find available. So, one of the things I find is it’s hard to find herb plants in the winter. But one place I found them, surprising, is often in the grocery store. In the produce section, I’ve been finding – if I travel around the country, I usually check this out – is I’ll often find grocery stores will have some herb plants. I think more and more garden centers and florists are finding that people are just hungry to do some gardening indoors beyond house plants. And so I’m finding them.

    So plants give you instant results. Seeds you’ll want to start in a warm place. You don’t need sunlight but a nice warm spot. Once they pop through the ground, then get them in a good, sunny window that may not be quite as warm as you’d like for starting seeds but just fine for the plants.

    And then for those that really want to beef up production and get things going, add maybe an artificial light: a grow light. There’s some really nice, smaller fixtures available to supplement natural daylight. And that’ll get things growing faster. But if you don’t have a lot of patience, starting from plants is usually a way to get a quick fix.

    TOM: I used to start my basil collection by buying the basil in the supermarket that had the roots attached.

    MELINDA: See? That works – and exactly. And exactly.

    TOM: I tell you what, it worked well. It worked well.

    MELINDA: It does. And they’ve already got the hard part done for you.

    TOM: Exactly.

    MELINDA: And so you take it home and plant it. I know that’s what I did. I’ve had to do some workshops in the winter and not always having things in the place where I’m willing to share or I’ve just harvested or maybe I don’t want to take that plant out. And I’ve always gone to the garden center for that reason and sometimes, natural health-food stores, too.

    TOM: Good point. Melinda Myers, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    Melinda’s book is Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. It’s available on Amazon, garden centers and in bookstores. You can also visit Melinda at her website at

    MELINDA: Well, thank you. You guys always make it easy. Thanks so much and – for helping me get the word out and maybe we can inspire a few people to plant up their window sills.

    LESLIE: Say, are you at a loss as to what to get your sweetie for Valentine’s Day? It’s days away, guys. You’ve got to remember this. The girls get mad about this. You might consider a romantic makeover. Tom and I are going to share some ideas, after this.

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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 to learn more.

    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. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a great prize. We’ve got up for grabs a $250 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators, which is awesome because they offer the lowest prices on all types of flooring. Because they’re just cutting out that middle man and they buy it directly from the mill and then they pass those savings on to you. So with 250 bucks, you could probably do an entire room.

    If you want some ideas, check out You’ll find a location near you, you can check them out online or give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Song in Alaska is dealing with a leaky window. Tell us what’s going on.

    SONG: Oh, yeah, hi. Yes. I have a rental house that’s in Anchorage, Alaska. Every wintertime, the tenants report that the water is running through the window and window seals, especially on the south side. But they said it has nothing to do with raining or anything but has to do with cold temperature. So every time when the temperature drops, then they see more water running through.

    So I actually even had a construction company to look at what’s going on. They didn’t find anything leaking but they said that the ground is too wet. They said I need to dig the ground under the basement and I need to put a sump pump in. But now I have a roofer who said, “Oh, maybe they forgot to seal the window properly when they built those buildings.”

    TOM: I understand you’re getting a lot of opinions here but the one key thing you said is that this doesn’t happen when it rains, is that correct?

    SONG: Correct.

    TOM: And this is a basement window or it’s a first-floor?

    SONG: Upstairs windows.

    TOM: OK. So, there’s only one thing that could be causing this and one thing only: condensation.

    SONG: What?

    TOM: Condensation. It makes perfect sense.

    SONG: OK.

    TOM: In the winter, it’s very cold on the outside of the house; it’s very warm and moist on the inside of the house. The warm, moist air of the inside of the house strikes the cold glass and condenses and then it gets very wet and it drips down. And you can actually get quite a lot of condensation. I mean it could look like a window is leaking from the outside when it’s really leaking from the inside.

    Now, the solution is better windows, unfortunately. Because if you don’t have glass that’s insulated well enough, this will happen and especially in extreme climates like you have in Anchorage.

    But if it’s not leaking during the rain, there’s no snow or ice that’s melting above it or anything like that, the only possible source of this is condensation. It has nothing to do with the ground.

    SONG: OK. So I need to replace the window?

    TOM: If it’s condensation, which is what I think it is. And it should be pretty easy to tell. You should be able to see the water forming on the inside of the glass.

    And is it a wood window, a vinyl window or a metal window?

    SONG: Vinyl windows.

    TOM: Yeah. So you should be able to see the condensation forming on the glass and then dripping.

    SONG: Right, right.

    TOM: It should be pretty obvious.

    SONG: That’s what the tenant says; it’s condensation. So, what is the fix?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s – well, replacing the window will solve it. Reducing the amount of moisture inside the house will also solve it. It might be that your contractor was talking about ways to reduce humidity in the basement and that may be why he gave you that sump-pump tip but that’s really not accurate. If you want to reduce humidity in the basement, you need to improve your drainage at the perimeter of the house. You need to extend your downspouts, you need to slope the soil away from the house, you need to do everything you can to try to reduce the amount of water and moisture that surrounds that first few feet of the foundation perimeter.

    Inside the house, you can improve your ventilation fans. Make sure you have one, for example, in the kitchen that vents out. Every bathroom should have a fan that vents out, so that you’re dealing with those moisture sources and you need to use it. You need to have the – you need to be able to turn the fan on when somebody’s in the bathroom taking a shower, so you’re venting all that steam. Things like that that reduce humidity inside the house can make this less of an issue.

    But the bottom line is that you’ve got a window with glass that’s not insulated very well. You could probably add an interior storm window. That could be a second thing that you could do; it’d be less expensive.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. An additional insulating layer.

    TOM: Yeah, it’d be less expensive than replacing it. But you definitely have glass that’s just not insulated enough.

    SONG: OK. So I’ll get the window experts to take a look at them.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, a time when a young woman’s fancy turns to things she’d like improved around the house. That’s right.

    We know jewelry and flower are – we do know that jewelry and flowers are a standard go-to. But Tom and I have some of our favorite romantic makeovers that you can do for Valentine’s Day.

    First of all, think about some new lighting in your bedroom. Making the smallest changes can really change the feel of the room. Also, what about a spa-shower update? You don’t even have to add a finished sauna; all you need are new, modern showerheads, which really can add a spa feel. Personally, I’m always asking for my knives to be professionally sharpened or a new dishwasher. So far, I’m zero for – I think this’ll be our 13th Valentine’s Day.

    TOM: I think that that’s a service that there is a business for, once again. Because everybody works with dull knives. Remember back in the day, you could – when I was growing up, there used to be a guy that would go around and collect my mom’s knives and …

    LESLIE: The creepy dude with the truck that rang the bell.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah, we haven’t seen him in years.

    TOM: He would come back and with fresh, sharp knives, you know? People don’t do that today.

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: But I think there’s an opportunity.

    Well, some of my top choices – how about a warm, new paint color for those bedroom walls along with some new window décor, like perhaps some of those super-cool cellular shades? Love those things. They insulate and they look so neat. You can also do a really quick romantic home repair by adding a dimmer to just about any overhead light or sconce. That’ll give you some instant atmosphere.

    Hey, how about this one? How about if you create a collection of favorite photos of the two of you or perhaps the entire family to be hung as a montage on the wall? What a nice surprise for your Valentine.

    LESLIE: Oh, so you can remind me of when I was skinny and now I’m not.

    TOM: Oh, see, now that’s how that would backfire on me. “I know. You want to remember me when I was skinny and not fat.”

    LESLIE: It’s the thought that counts, Tom.

    TOM: Well, it is the thought that counts. And it’s probably a better thought than getting a new vacuum cleaner or something like that. So I think you’ll get credit for that.

    LESLIE: I don’t know. That would make me super-happy.

    TOM: It would? But well …

    LESLIE: It would.

    TOM: See, now if you decide, guys, to get your wife a new vacuum, just say that Leslie Segrete said it’s OK.

    LESLIE: Blame me. It’s cool.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, that would be more than the dinner that your husband was going to take you to. Let’s get back to those phones.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Joyce in Florida is on the line with a toilet that’s exceptionally noisy. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    JOYCE: My toilet, when I flush it, it will keep running after I flush it. It keeps running and the water keeps moving in the toilet bowl.

    TOM: OK.

    JOYCE: And then if I jiggle the handle, it’ll quit.

    TOM: OK.

    JOYCE: So how do I fix this to keep it from doing that and keeping the water from continuously running?

    TOM: Very simple. Your toilet has two valves in it: one is called a “fill valve” and one is called a “flush valve.” The flush valve is at the bottom of the toilet and the fill valve is the vertical part with the float.

    JOYCE: OK.

    TOM: You should replace both of those valves. It’s a do-it-yourself project and that will stop the problem. The fill valve is worn out and that’s why it’s continuing to run.

    JOYCE: OK. What’s the name of that valve?

    TOM: A fill valve – f-i-l-l. Fill valve. It’s the valve that fills the toilet.

    JOYCE: (inaudible at 0:32:41). OK.

    TOM: Very inexpensive. You can pick them up at any home center or hardware store and they’re easy to install.

    JOYCE: OK. Wow, thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Joyce. 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 Say, do you have a case of the wintertime blues? Well, we are going to share some colorful ways to brighten your mood and your room, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit

    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 with your home improvement question or post it online at

    And speaking of getting online, why not also shoot an e-mail to Why would you want to do that? Well, because you will be entered into our Stay Warm with Icynene Giveaway. At the end of this month, we’re going to draw out of The Money Pit hard hat one name from that pile of e-mails that’s been coming into the e-mail address and send to you a $500 Visa gift card, which you can use towards the purchase of Icynene insulation or just about any other energy-saving home improvement project you may care to take on.

    Remember, send that e-mail to

    LESLIE: Alright. And for those of you who are posting questions, let’s get right to those right now. We’ve got one from Marietta who wrote: “I have aluminum siding on my home, which is over 40 years old. I’d like to get new siding. I’ve been hearing a lot about vinyl but is there anything else I should consider?”

    TOM: Yeah, vinyl’s a great siding. There are other options in siding that you might want to consider. I really like HardiePlank. I have HardiePlank on my garage. It’s a cement-based tile that’s not organic, much like vinyl. It does not rot or twist or chip or anything like that but it looks like wood. So it really comes down to: how long do you want it to last and what do you want it to look like?

    Vinyl’s a good choice, HardiePlank is a good choice or you could always go back to good old-fashioned – and it’ll last 100 or more years – cedar siding.

    LESLIE: True. Alright. Good luck with that. This could be a huge home makeover for you, Marietta.

    TOM: Well, winter isn’t necessarily a favorite time of year for many folks. It leads to things like cabin fever and the winter blues. But not to worry. Leslie has some ideas on how to brighten your mood and your home, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word. I’m feeling better already.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. You don’t want to underestimate the effect that color can actually have on your mood. You know, psychologists have been studying the effects of color for decades and they say that there are definitely some hues that can brighten your temperament and your room.

    Now, red for instance, it’s associated with love and desire and can raise the energy of a room. I personally love red in a kitchen; for some reason, it makes me think of cooking. I don’t know why.

    Now, yellow can add vibrancy and it’s considered optimistic. White is actually a sunny color and it can add a clean and peaceful feeling to a space.

    TOM: Alright. Now, stop right there. So if I’m having an argument with my wife, all I have to do is play the white card? It’ll just bring peace and harmony back into our lives?

    LESLIE: Well, that’s because you’re raising the white flag and you’re saying, “It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault, you’re right.”

    TOM: There you go.

    LESLIE: See, that’s – see, there you go. It’s surrendering.

    TOM: “You’re right. I’ll try to do better.” See that?

    LESLIE: But seriously, if you’re using white in a space, you want to make sure that you pair it with other colors so it doesn’t become too sterile in feeling. Now, you don’t have to go out and paint your whole house red or yellow. You can do this by adding splashes of these colors by using tiles, throw blankets, pillows, some ceramic vases, some – just some artistic details, little accessories.

    So just add pops of those colors throughout the space and I am telling you, you will watch your room and your mood brighten. And it’s really going to make a huge difference as we’re in these final, gloomy months of winter.

    TOM: Thank you for spending this hour with us. Coming up next week on the program, do you know that your house might be hiding some history, perhaps some historical secrets in those walls, like who used to own it, what it used to look like? We’re going to tell you how to trace the history of your house, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2012 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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