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Siding Options for Your Home, Laminate Flooring Update, How to Pick the Best Exterior Paint, and More

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Happy Almost-Spring, everybody.

    LESLIE: Seriously.

    TOM: I am so done with winter.

    LESLIE: Me, too.

    TOM: I am ready for all of the snow to continue to melt away from all of our yards and get back to work. You know, I think we’re going to have a very, very green spring because we’ve had a very, very wet winter. And that means it’s a great time to do lots of outdoor projects around the house, one of which might be adding some new siding. If that’s on your to-do list, we’re going to help you get it done with some tips on the pros and cons of all the siding choices that are out there, including vinyl, brick and clapboard. We’re going to have that information for you, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Plus, we are going to share some tips on the latest innovations on one of our favorite flooring choices: laminate. Now, it’s the most cost-effective option out there because of its durability and its affordability. And it can look like anything from wood to stone and we’re going to tell you all about it, a little later.

    TOM: And spring is not that far off, according to the calendar; at least, according to my calendar. And if one of your spring projects is painting the outside of your house, do a little research first before deciding to use a low-cost paint, because doing so can cost you more in the long run. We’ll do the math for you, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And since we’re doing the math for you anyway, how does “free” sound? We have got up for grabs, to one lucky caller on the air today, a $350 Leggett & Platt gift card. And they are a great resource for high-quality beds and bedding.

    TOM: That’s going to go to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Who’s first?

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

    CHRIS: I’m removing a dropped ceiling from my kitchen and I ran into a vent pipe from my forced-air heating. And I want to move it into the joist and I’m wondering if I can cut a hole in my joist to run it; my floor joist from the second floor.

    TOM: Alright. So you have to cut through a floor joist to be able to run this vent? So if you’re going to cut out a floor joist, you have to reinforce it.

    CHRIS: Well, wait. OK.

    TOM: The floor joist is supporting the second story and whenever you cut a hole in a floor joist, you basically are eliminating one floor joist because you’re essentially cutting it in half.

    CHRIS: Sure.

    TOM: What you’re supposed to do is double the floor joists that are opposite that and then bridge across between them. So if you cut out, say, a 1-foot chunk to run this pipe, you would have to double the 2 floor joists that are at opposite sides of that. And then you run another, say, 2×10 in between those, perpendicular across the cut opening. So you’re essentially framing out an opening as if it was a stairwell or something. So it’s a big project, is what I’m saying.

    CHRIS: I have a 6-inch vent pipe going through a 2×10 and I’ve got to go through three 2x10s. So I suppose I would just bring up …

    TOM: Ah, wow. That’s a big – yeah. A 6-inch vent pipe. That’s a – you’re taking a lot of strength out of the floor. Isn’t there other way – any other way we can do this?

    CHRIS: Unfortunately, no. The vent pipe runs along the joists for quite a distance and then it goes down into where the dropped ceiling was, travels across three joists and then back up in between the joists and then up to a bedroom that’s on the second floor.

    TOM: This vent pipe is for what?

    CHRIS: It’s a forced-air heating duct.

    TOM: And in where is the ceiling? Is the ceiling in a – over a kitchen?

    CHRIS: It is.

    TOM: Is there a soffit above the cabinet that you can run this duct through?

    CHRIS: No. I’m actually trying – there was a dropped ceiling and I’m removing all of that to try to increase, you know …

    TOM: Typically, you don’t go through the floor joists like that; you go under them and you box it out.

    CHRIS: OK, OK.

    TOM: I would not cut 6 inches out of three 2×10 floor joists; that’s too much to take out of the floor joists.

    CHRIS: What about using metal plates to sister it?

    TOM: No. Not enough strength.

    LESLIE: And there’s no way to bring this duct up onto the floor surface and just sort of build like a small surround that would be like a little ledge or …?

    TOM: No. You would run it underneath the floor joists and you would box it in.

    CHRIS: Right, right.

    TOM: Is it possible that you could add a second heating system to this room, like a through-the-wall system?

    CHRIS: I could do that. I could block off the pipe and add its own heating system to the room. It just seems extraneous, I guess.

    TOM: Right. Well, you could use a through-the-wall – you could use like a split-system heat pump, for example, and get cooling and air conditioning through one mini-split, ductless system. So you have a small compressor outside, then you have the air handler attached to the wall and that becomes both a unit that will supply heating and cooling. Take a look at the units by Mitsubishi. They’re set up for situations like this.

    CHRIS: OK.

    TOM: Because the way you’re describing this run of the duct, I’m also concerned that you’re not going to have enough airflow to properly heat it.

    LESLIE: To get the heat there when you need it.

    The split system, of course, is going to be electric then, right, Tom?

    TOM: Yes, it’ll be electric. It’s 240 volts.

    LESLIE: So there’s a cost issue to worry about with that. But we have a split system in our home, in the basement, and it’s a truly fantastic way to heat and cool a space that’s just difficult to get heating and cooling to. But heating costs – especially in Alaska, I imagine, with electric – are going to be pretty expensive.

    CHRIS: Yeah. We generally don’t need to cool.

    LESLIE: True.

    TOM: Well, that’s true. But the tip with the heat pump is set it and forget it.

    CHRIS: Right.

    TOM: You don’t want to bounce the heat up and down because then you force it into electric-heating mode. If you just set the thermostat and walk away, then the heat pump does the work.

    LESLIE: And it really does a fantastic job.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Because I’m afraid with the run that you just described for that duct, you’re just not going to have enough airflow left to do the job by the time you’re all finished. I mean a 6-inch duct is a …

    CHRIS: Well, it currently runs to that bedroom now, so it runs that distance now.

    TOM: Yeah. But listen, every time you put a twist in a duct, that’s equal to adding 20 feet of straight run. One corner – one elbow – is equal to 20 additional feet in terms of the resistance.

    CHRIS: Well, then, I guess the way it runs right now, it runs along the joist and then it makes a 90 down and then a 90 to the right and it goes – it crosses three joists and then it makes two 90s to go back.

    TOM: Wow.

    CHRIS: And I’m actually – I’m going to get rid of two 90s if I go through the joists.

    TOM: Right.

    CHRIS: Now, the want that I had was – is there any way – what about reducing the pipe diameter to make a normal penetration in the joist; a normal (inaudible at 0:06:48) penetration in the joist?

    TOM: What do you mean reducing the pipe diameter? Using a smaller duct?

    CHRIS: Yeah. Right now, the duct is a 6-inch duct and reducing it to a 2-inch, running it through the – penetrating …

    TOM: No. No, again, you face the chance that you’re not going to have enough HVAC power to heat that house.

    CHRIS: OK.

    TOM: You will not be delivering enough warm air to overcome the drop in temperatures in Alaska to heat that room.

    CHRIS: OK.

    TOM: And what if you got this all done and everything put back together and the first few, cold nights you’re miserable?

    CHRIS: Right.

    LESLIE: The first of many cold nights.

    TOM: Exactly.

    CHRIS: It’s a …

    TOM: So, I hope that helps put it into perspective for you but I think a split system is probably a good option.

    CHRIS: Alright. Thanks a lot.

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

    LESLIE: He’s like, “That is not what I wanted to hear.”

    But yeah, you would just sacrifice the structural capabilities of those joists.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And over a run like that? No way.

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can be part of the home improvement action by calling in your home repair, décor, improvement, help-it’s-broken-and-I-don’t-know-what-to-do question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re here to lend a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, would you like a new skin for your house? Siding can do just that and help you dress up the house and increase your curb appeal. But there are many options out there and not all of them are created equal. We’re going to give you the pros and cons of a wide variety of those choices, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.

    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: Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got for you this hour an opportunity to win a $350 gift certificate from Leggett & Platt, makers of fine beds and bedding. It’s going to go to one caller chosen at random from those that reach us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And the winner might choose the Invisicase Surround Protector. The Invisicase will keep your mattress clean and protected and it’s available in all standard mattress sizes. For more info, visit LPCPG.com or call now for your chance to win that $350 Leggett & Platt merchandise gift certificate. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We would love to hear what you’re working on and maybe one of those projects that you’re planning for the spring is an exterior facelift for your home. Well, if you’re thinking about new siding options, there are a ton of options out there and a lot of them have their own pros and cons. So, here’s just a few because, really, there’s a ton out there.

    Now, wood siding. It can be either shingles or clapboard and it’s a renewable resource that can be painted or stained any color. But with wood siding comes frequent maintenance. Now, brick and stone, it’s gorgeous, it can last forever and pretty much requires very little maintenance. But it can be expensive and then, of course, excessive moisture can freeze and loosen mortar joints, which might need the occasional repointing.

    Now, stucco’s out there, as well, and that can last a really long time and it does need occasional cleaning, which you have to make sure you do very, very carefully. Because if you don’t, you can pretty much damage that siding. And any cracks that might occur in your stucco will have to be filled regularly so that you’re not getting moisture buildup behind that stucco surface.

    TOM: Now, vinyl siding is less expensive and it comes in a wide range of colors. It’s basically maintenance-free, as well, but it is susceptible to heat and fungus. And it can also appear wavy if it’s installed too tightly, because it expands and contracts quite a bit, so the installers have to actually kind of nail it up almost loosely. Another option is cultured stone veneer. That comes in a variety of styles and colors that mimic the look of real stones but without the cost. These, though, need to be installed by a pro.

    Now, the more you know about siding materials, the better able you will be able to make the right choice for your home. So, for a complete list of all available siding material with the pros and cons for each, just Google “money pit choose siding.” That’s “money pit choose siding” and our friends at Google will direct you right to the appropriate page on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Sue in Illinois is dealing with two properties that don’t mix: electricity and water.

    TOM: Bzzzt.

    LESLIE: How is there water dripping from your ceiling fan, Sue?

    SUE: OK. We don’t know why but we had it professionally installed by an electrician. He had to go up in the attic, you know, and cut – we cut the hole and he put it in.

    TOM: Right.

    SUE: And every time the temperature gets below 20 degrees, water – when we turn the fan on, water condenses and comes out of there.

    TOM: Oh, you have a bigger problem than your ceiling fan leaking.

    LESLIE: When you say ceiling fan, do you mean an actual ceiling fan with blades or a venting fan?

    SUE: No, just a – it’s a venting fan for the bathroom.

    TOM: Like a – oh, for a bathroom.


    SUE: It has a grate on it and it came in a housing and …

    TOM: Yeah. OK. Here’s the one thing that the electrician probably didn’t do. He probably did not vent that fan to the outside.

    LESLIE: Outside.

    SUE: We had another fan – our bathroom’s separate; the toilet and the stool are in like beyond the sink.

    TOM: Right.

    SUE: And it’s all in a little area. And there’s a fan up there in the light and he said he connected it to that type.

    TOM: The water is coming from condensation.

    SUE: Yes.

    TOM: When you have a very cold attic, you are letting warm, moist air from the house somehow up into that space. It is condensing and then dripping.

    SUE: Yes.

    TOM: And your problem is much bigger than just water dripping out of that fan, because if you are condensing that much moisture in the attic, you potentially have sheathing damage because the underside of the plywood sheathing will – it will get wet and that can delaminate.

    When was your house built?

    SUE: Well, it’s just five years old. Well, six years old.

    TOM: So you have – probably have plywood roof sheathing then. And you need to make sure that you have proper ventilation up there, because you’re getting a lot of condensation and that’s why it only happens when it gets to be 20 degrees outside.

    SUE: OK. OK.

    TOM: So, here’s what you have to do. First of all, you need to check the installation on the fan. I suspect that it’s not connected to a vent properly, OK?

    SUE: OK. OK.

    TOM: So that means that all the warm, moist air from the bathroom – whenever you take a shower or whatever – it gets up there and it condenses into cold water and just pours right back down again.

    SUE: Yeah.

    TOM: Secondly, you need to check your ventilation in the attic space. The best ventilation’s going to be continuous ridge and soffit vents, where the ridge vent is cut wide open and the soffit vents are cut open. Air goes in the soffits, under the roof sheathing and out the ridge.

    SUE: OK.

    TOM: And those two things will reduce the volume of moisture in that attic, protect the sheathing. And also, by the way, if you have that much moisture in the attic, your insulation gets very, very damp. And when it …

    LESLIE: And doesn’t work.

    TOM: And doesn’t work. Insulation only insulates when it’s dry, OK?

    SUE: Oh, OK. OK. So we should call that electrician back and have him set that for sure.

    TOM: Well, yeah. I mean at the least or just get up there and check it yourself.

    SUE: Well, we’re kind of old to be doing that, so we’d have to have someone do it.

    TOM: OK. Well but the thing is, if the electrician made a mistake, he’s not going to admit it. You might be better off getting somebody that’s handy just to check this.

    LESLIE: Just to double-check.

    SUE: OK, OK.

    TOM: OK?

    SUE: Yes. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright. There you go. Mystery solved.

    SUE: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Ron in Oregon has a tiling and grout question. Tell us what you’re working on.

    RON: Hi. We have a real problem. Apparently, the previous owner of this house decided that it would be much easier to take Varathane and paint it over 1,000 mosaic-design, 8-inch ceramic tiles.

    TOM: OK.

    RON: My wife, bless her heart, got down on her hands and knees with several putty knives and what-not and got all the Varathane off.

    TOM: Right.

    RON: And now the big problem is is the grout is stained and can’t get it to look like nice grout again.

    TOM: Well, what you need to do is to get some grout dye and you’re not going to find that at a paint store. You’ll probably order it online or go to a tile store. And there’s a half a dozen colors or so that are available. But with a grout dye, especially a darker one, if the grout is stained, it’ll sort of even it out and then it’ll solve the problem.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the other option, of course, is a grout stripper, which’ll just take off those top coats and get you back down to a clean surface and then you can seal it.

    TOM: And if that doesn’t work, you can still grout-dye it after that.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    RON: Thank you.

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

    JIM: Yeah. I have a – about a 15-year-old, forced-air furnace. Increased the capacity and added air conditioner when we expanded our house here 15 years ago. And the – it has a thing called a combustion blower, which sort of turns on first before the mantle comes on and it blows air up the chimney.

    TOM: Right.

    JIM: I think it has something to do with the fact that there’s a …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a draft-induction blower. It has to do with the efficiency of the furnace. With higher-efficiency furnaces, the heat exchanger is long and narrow and tubular. And you can’t rely on the gravity of the warm gases to find their way out of – up and out the chimney. So you have to have an induced draft, so that’s what this fan does.

    JIM: Well, they’re saying it was making noise, sort of like a wo-wo-wo-wo-wo when the …

    TOM: OK. Like an out-of-balance kind of a sound?

    JIM: Yeah, I guess so.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: And when I put my hand on the blower, I could sense that the noise was slowing down. And I called the guy who installed the furnace and his – the first words out of his mouth, he says, “Well, Jim, this is 15 years old. Units like yours don’t normally last much longer than 15 years.”

    TOM: OK. Sounds like he’s trying to sell you a new one, huh?

    JIM: And well, he was leaning in that direction, OK? And the part itself was about $100 and I’m capable of doing it myself.

    TOM: Right.

    JIM: In fact, I’ve taken the blower off and looked at it to see if there was any bearings that I could lubricate and they’re not; they’re all sealed.

    TOM: Oh, OK. Right. OK.

    JIM: And then I was reading through the warranty information and the plenum part is apparently warrantied for 20 years.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: So I’m leaning towards buying the $100 part and putting it on as opposed to, you know, going out and putting out the long dollars for a new unit.

    TOM: Well, I don’t think 15 years is that old for a furnace. I mean furnaces typically last 20, 25 years easy.

    LESLIE: Like 20 to 30 years, right?

    TOM: So I don’t think 15 is that old and if you can replace the part for 100 bucks, I don’t see why you wouldn’t just do that.

    JIM: Great. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, everything you ever wanted to know about laminate flooring but were afraid to ask. Oh wait, you did ask us; that’s why we’re telling you.

    Well, this versatile flooring choice is a winner. It’s inexpensive, low-maintenance and durable. We’re going to tell you all about it, after this.

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    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. Well, the number one topic of conversation that we have here at The Money Pit is flooring. And while – when it comes to flooring options, there is no more cost-effective choice than laminate flooring. It’s inexpensive, it’s super-easy to install that you can definitely do that project by yourself and it lasts a really, really long time.

    TOM: And the cool thing about laminate – and I have to say that I was what is known as an early adopter when it comes to laminate. I put laminate down in my house, I think, when it was hot off the presses; just many, many years ago. It was over 10 years ago and it was harder to put down back then, by the way, because you had to glue all the pieces together.

    But today, it’s become so super-easy to do; totally a DIY project and it can look like just about any kind of material you can think of. It can look like wood, it can look like tile; even stone. And here to tell us about those options and lots more is our friend, Nate Poe, who is an expert with Lumber Liquidators.

    Hey, Nate.

    NATE: Hey, guys. How’s it going?

    TOM: It’s going well. And you guys are a big supplier of this material and it’s amazing the changes that we’ve seen with it over the years, isn’t it?

    NATE: Yeah, absolutely. And Tom, you mentioned a great point and that’s the progression and the change of the laminate floor over time. When it was first introduced – gosh, decades ago – it was kind of cumbersome to install. You had to glue all the seams and the appearance of them really doesn’t hold a candle to what we’re able to come up with today.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I remember getting this floor done in my house and finally saying, “Great floor. Can’t imagine anybody who wants to put this in.” What (inaudible at 0:20:50). Because it was so hard; you had to glue each piece together where there were straps. It looked like a checkerboard when you were done.

    Now, though, it’s like a puzzle piece. It’s amazing the technology; the way these pieces just snap together and leave you with perfectly aligned joints is really amazing.

    NATE: It is. And just to back up just a little bit, just so we have some definitions of what a laminate floor is, a laminate floor is basically a photocopy of wood on a compressed fiber base. That difference differs a little bit than, say, an engineered floor. A lot of people use those terms interchangeably.

    But an engineered floor would be a layer of real wood on a plywood or compressed fiber base where, again, a laminate floor is just a photocopy of wood on a compressed fiber base with an aluminum-oxide finish. And that’s what gives it that durability that a lot of people have come to know and love.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, with laminate, being that it is so durable and the way it’s made, where is really the best application to apply this floor?

    NATE: That’s the wonderful thing about a laminate floor is it can be used in almost any room of the home.

    TOM: Now, Nate, if we want to put laminate floor down in an existing home, what is the prep that’s actually involved? And if your floor is a little bit uneven, is that OK?

    NATE: A little bit uneven is OK. Most manufacturers’ specs – and our specs here at Lumber Liquidators is an 1/8 of an inch over 10 feet. So the real prep is going to be removing your existing floor covering, then you’d apply, typically, a moisture barrier. What we would recommend would be a 6-mil poly-sheeting.


    NATE: And then you’re going to put down a foam padding and then the laminate floor on top of that. And a lot of our laminates actually come with a foam padding pre-attached, saving a whole step of installation.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, as a do-it-yourselfer, is there any specialized tools that I would need to actually install the flooring or am I pretty much going to have everything on hand to get the job done?

    NATE: A good table saw or a chop saw is going to be probably the most …

    LESLIE: The most heavy-duty item you’ll need?

    NATE: The most heavy-duty tool that you’re going to need. And we actually sell – at Lumber Liquidators, we sell a nice kit that includes everything that you’ll need. But you’d also want a tapping block and a pulling bar, because when you’re pushing these boards together, you’re going to want to apply some pressure to make sure that they click in completely. You never want to hit the edge of that laminate with a hammer or with a – even with a mallet.

    So what you do is you put a tapping block – you can even use a piece of a 2×4 for this – and that applies the pressure as you gently tap the pieces together. And then when you get to the end of your row, where the last piece is going in, you’re going to use what’s called a pulling bar and that allows you to, again, to apply that pressure backwards against the floor to snap the last piece in place.

    TOM: We’re talking to Nate Poe. He is an expert with the Lumber Liquidators folks.

    And, Nate, as you mentioned before – as you so correctly explained – if you can photograph it, you can have it made into a laminate floor. What are some of the most popular colors and styles of laminate flooring today?

    NATE: Here at Lumber Liquidators, we really focus on wood-look laminates. And we found that trends do change over time. Lately, we find a lot more people demanding tones in the white-to-gray range but it does vary by region.

    LESLIE: Hmm. Now, what about the warranty? I mean they’re made so well and they’re really made to be durable in locations that tend to be problematic for flooring. What is generally the warranty that’s offered with laminate?

    NATE: Laminates are sold in different thicknesses and they’re always measured in a different millimeter thickness. And what that measures is the actual thickness of the board, so it’s not like a thickness of the veneer or anything. So, typically, you’ll see laminate ranges anywhere from 6 millimeter up to 12 millimeter products. And usually, as you get thicker, the warranty will increase.

    So, at our entry-level product, it’s going to be a 6-millimeter product with a 10-year finish warranty. As we move up to our thicker products, like the 12 millimeter, you’re going to find more like a 30-year finish warranty.

    Now, the finish warranty relates to the AC rating on a laminate and that’s one thing that I really, if I can talk to all the homeowners and do-it-yourselfers out there listening to the show, that’s make sure you do your homework when you’re buying a laminate floor. Because AC is an abrasion-criteria rating and it’s a rating used to measure how durable a floor is.

    You want to go, for most homes with kids and dogs – everybody has a busy life these days – you want to look at a product that has at least an AC3. An AC rating is a five-point scale; AC1 being a very light residential – so not too durable – up to an AC5, which would be rated for heavy, commercial traffic. Again, for most homeowners, the AC3 is going to be adequate and you’ll find an AC3 on all of our products from 8 millimeter and above.

    TOM: Terrific. Nate Poe, the expert – the man with the answers – from Lumber Liquidators, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Nate, I think that is the most thorough explanation of the topic of laminate floors we have ever had and we can’t thank you enough.

    NATE: Well, thank you guys so much for having me. I hope this helps and I hope everybody gets out there and changes that old carpet out to a laminate floor or hardwood here from Lumber Liquidators.

    TOM: And if you want more tips on how to do just that, you can go to the Lumber Liquidators website at LumberLiquidators.com or pick up the phone and call them at 1-800-HARDWOOD. That’s 800-HARDWOOD.

    LESLIE: Alright. And still ahead, don’t cheap out on paint for the exterior of your home. We’re going to tell you why cheap paint ends up costing you way more money in the long run, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trewax, trusted for more than 75 years. Trewax is the brand you can depend on for premium floor care. Visit them on the web at Trewax.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we’d love to hear from you, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. Not only are you going to get your home improvement question answered, you are going to be entered into a drawing to win a great prize. We’ve got up for grabs this hour a $350 gift certificate from our friends over at Leggett & Platt. And they make really fantastic beds and bedding.

    Now, the winner could choose the Invisicase Surround Protector. It’s got a breathable backing. This is basically a protector for your mattress and it’s got a breathable backing on your sleepable surface.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: And it’s a high-performance fiber that’s really going to repel moisture. And the Invisicase Surround Protector fits mattresses up to 12 inches thick and it’s available in all standard mattress sizes. If you want some more information on that great product, check out LPCPG.com; that’s their website. Or give us a call right now for your answer and your chance to win that great $350 worth of merchandise from Leggett & Platt. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, are you thinking about having the exterior of your house painted but you’re looking for ways to save money on the project? Whatever you do, don’t buy bargain-basement paint. Big mistake. Cheap paint is never a bargain. When figuring the true cost of a big paint job, you need to measure that cost on an annual basis and include the cost of the paint and the labor.

    So, for example, if you spend – let’s just say you’ve got a small house; you spend 7,500 bucks to paint your house.

    LESLIE: It’s so expensive to paint the outside of your house.

    TOM: It’s very expensive. And $500 of that goes to premium paint. Your total cost is 8 grand but that paint might last 10 years, so cost per year about 800 bucks.

    LESLIE: Now, if you spend the same amount on labor but you only pay about $300 for your paint, your total cost – sure, it’s going to be lower at about 7,800 bucks but you’re going to have to repaint that house so much sooner, like maybe in 5 years or less. So your cost per year is going to be about $1,560, which is almost double. So it really makes so much more sense to spend a little bit of money extra in the beginning, get that really good paint and then you’re not going to be shelling out a ton of bucks, you know, shorter than you would in the long run.

    TOM: But there is good news. We’ll save you money on the phone call for the answer to your next home improvement question. 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to those phones.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Diane is on the line with a fireplace question. What can we do for you?

    DIANE: Oh, I listened to you on Sunday and I enjoyed your show so much.

    TOM: Well, thank you very much.

    DIANE: And I got so many tips from you guys. But this is my question. My house is 70 years old and I have a vent in the bottom of the fireplace that you can open and shut.

    TOM: Right. That’s the clean-out, right?

    DIANE: Yes.

    TOM: OK.

    DIANE: Well, it keeps the air from going up the chimney.

    LESLIE: So it’s the flue.

    DIANE: And it has a little, metal thing. It’s very old and I have never seen another one but I can close it so the air doesn’t escape out of the chimney.

    TOM: Yeah, are you talking about the bottom of the chimney or where it’s like a door that opens?

    DIANE: Yes. Yes.

    LESLIE: That’s the flue. It’s the flue damper.

    TOM: No, I don’t think it’s the flue damper; I think it’s a clean-out for the bottom of the chimney because …

    DIANE: Yes? Well, it’s stuck and I can’t open it or shut it and it …

    TOM: OK, so it’s stuck. Alright.

    DIANE: And my roofer was on the roof and he said that the heat was just coming out like crazy. If I could just shut it …

    TOM: Well, now, wait a minute. The heat is probably coming up the fireplace and out like crazy.

    DIANE: Yes, it is.

    TOM: Alright.

    LESLIE: That’s the flue.

    TOM: Now, see, I think you guys are talking about two separate doors. Let me explain.

    DIANE: OK. Yes.

    TOM: The flue is what’s above you if you look into the fireplace.

    DIANE: Yes.

    TOM: Is that the door we’re talking about?

    DIANE: Yes. I’m sorry. Yes, that’s it.

    LESLIE: See? I speak female, Tom.

    TOM: Apparently you do.

    DIANE: Yeah.

    TOM: I thought it was the ash clean-out, which is on the back side of the chimney.

    DIANE: Oh, no, no.

    TOM: Right, fine.

    DIANE: I know what the ash clean-out – no, it is not that.

    TOM: Oh, alright. Well, OK. Well, you girls straightened me out.

    DIANE: OK.

    TOM: So, the flue won’t shut. It’s stuck.

    DIANE: Yes.

    TOM: You say you can’t open it and you can’t close it?

    DIANE: No and it’s metal. And it – water has gotten down the chimney.

    TOM: It must be open somewhat, though, because heat’s getting out there.

    LESLIE: Getting out. So it’s got to be like jammed open.

    DIANE: Yeah. And it’s rusted.

    TOM: Right.

    DIANE: I know it’s rusted.

    TOM: Alright. Well, look, have you ever had a fire going in this fireplace?

    DIANE: Oh, yes. It’s open all the time. And I put a board on top of my chimney so that the heat wouldn’t escape but I live by myself and I can’t be climbing up there.

    LESLIE: Well …

    TOM: Yeah, there’s a better way. No, we don’t want you climbing up in the chimney, OK?

    DIANE: OK.

    TOM: There’s something called a flue damper.

    DIANE: Yes, that’s …

    TOM: And it’s a door that fits across the top of the chimney and it’s like a flapper; it’s hinged in the middle.

    DIANE: Yes, it’s like a flapper.

    TOM: And it’s weighted so that when the chimney is being used, this door – its natural position is to hang open, so it’s vertical in the chimney so the flue gas goes around it, OK?

    DIANE: Yes. Yes.

    TOM: But when you want to close it, you put a wire, which is like a stainless-steel cable that goes all the way down from the inside of the chimney and hooks sort of on the side of the fireplace. And you pull it down and it’s got sort of like a spring on it and then you hook it into its second position and then it’s closed.

    So, that’s the – because you can’t rebuild the flue damper – a flue that’s right above the fire box. You can put a new flue damper on the top of the chimney and that’s the solution. So you want to have a flue damper installed and that will stop the heat from leaking out.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, is your laundry area outdated and potentially dangerous? We’re going to tell you how to make sure your systems are all up to par and in good, safe, working order, 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 StanleyTools.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or log on to MoneyPit.com. Join the Community section, why don’t you, and you can ask your home improvement question right there.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got one here that Bridget from Florida posted and she wrote: “What kind of material can you use behind and under a wood stove? Is there an online supplier of such products for these wood stoves?”

    You’ve got to be really careful, right?

    TOM: Yeah. I’m sure there are many online suppliers but what you need to follow here, Bridget, is the National Fire Prevention Association guidelines for installation, because if you do not have a heat shield behind the wood stove, I think you need about 3 feet of space between the wood stove and a combustible surface. If you have a heat shield, you can use less but it’s kind of something you build, not like an appliance you buy.

    And a heat shield, for example, stands off from the combustible wall and it has space below it and space above it and space behind it, so that air can circulate behind it and essentially cool it through the force of convection. But you need to follow the guidelines from the stove manufacturer or the NFPA, to make sure you do it right. And if you don’t do it right, it can be very, very dangerous. Wood stoves get incredibly hot so be oh, so careful with the installation.

    LESLIE: Yeah, they do. I mean that’s their job. So make sure that you do everything you can to protect your home and make sure that you do follow these rules. Thanks so much for posting your question, Bridget.

    TOM: Well, happy laundry rooms always start with good bones; that means the basic, functional systems that work the way they should and prevent disaster. Give those bones a checkup to make sure your systems are all good to go. Leslie has got the checklist, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. When it comes to your laundry room, you want to make sure that you start with the basics: your water-supply hoses.

    Now, typical, rubber-based, water-supply lines have a tendency to swell and then what happens? They burst. So we recommend replacing those hoses with braided-steel ones. And you also want to make sure that you install an automatic shut-off valve. Even if you don’t go automatic, make sure you have a shut-off valve. This way, when you’re not using the washing machine, you turn off that water supply. Then in the event something does happen, you’re not going to end up with a ton of water.

    But these automatic shut-off valves, they’ll detect an out-of-the-ordinary water flow before it turns into an all-out flood. And while you’re at it, get familiar with the location of all of your water valves in your home. You’ll want to know where they are in the event of a problem. Then you want to make sure that once you know where they are, that they’re all accessible and they’re functional. And if you’ve got separate water valves for hot and cold water, take the opportunity to upgrade to that single-lever, turn-off valve, which is going to turn off both that hot and cold water supply at the same exact time.

    Finally, when it comes to your dryer, make sure you clean out your dryer vent – I’m not talking about the lint catcher within the dryer; I’m talking about the whole vent that goes from the back of the dryer to the outside of your house – once every six months. Because lint that collects in that dryer exhaust duct is responsible for multiple deaths and nearly 15,000 dryer fires annually.

    It’s not a difficult chore. Tom and I both have that Gardus LintEater, I think is the name of it.

    TOM: Yeah, the dryer-duct brush works very well.

    LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. It attaches to your normal power-driver. You go from the outside of your house, you sort of – you snake it through your dryer vent and it pulls out more lint than you’ve ever seen in your life. And if you do it regularly, you’ll see less and less. But if you have a year or two since the last time you’ve done it, you’ll see so much lint, it’s amazing. I always know when I see tumble-lint in my driveway it’s time to do it, which means I’m not doing it as often as I should.

    But it’s a fun chore and really, you and your neighbors can invest in one and share the chore and they’re not expensive. Just make sure you do this maintenance because the laundry room, if you’re like us, you use it practically every day, so take good care of it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, projects like painting your walls, your cabinets or even your floor are all do-it-yourself jobs. But refinishing a claw-foot tub? Well, that’s one paint job you don’t want to do yourself. There are special steps and special tools required. We’re going to go through those, in 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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