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Slash Monthly Spending With Garage Efficiency Tips, Energy Star 101, and Advice for Stress-Free Holiday Prep

  • 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: What are you doing this fine fall weekend? We are here to help you take care of your house. If that’s what you’re working on, we’re here to give you a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT. Whether you’re working inside or out, we’ve got some ideas to make your projects go easier, go smoother, avoid the hassles. And if you’re working inside right now, that’s a really good project. Because you know what? It’s getting cold out and we’re about to seal those hatches. And once we do, you’ll be seeing a lot of those four walls, so why don’t you take care of those projects right now? We’ll help. Give us a call, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s program, there’s no shortage of noise about how to make your home energy-efficient.

    Leslie, do you notice this? Every time you turn around, you hear or you see another window or door commercial or insulation advertisement. They include promises to help you cut your heating costs.

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. They promise you the world.

    TOM: They do. But what if there was a way to build a home that was already efficient? Well, there is. They’re here and they’re called ENERGY STAR homes. We’re going to hear from a rep from the ENERGY STAR program at the Environmental Protection Agency about this new ENERGY STAR Homes Program, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And they come with a big, gigantic yellow sticker on your house that tells you all about the energy-saving facts.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: Alright. While we’re on the subject of energy, you know, there’s probably a great chance that there’s one room in your home that’s eating up your heat and your heating budget. It’s your garage, guys. We’re going to share some tips on how you can add energy efficiency to this very chilly space.

    TOM: And is your house ready for holiday houseguests? Well, whether you’re hosting big this year or just prepping for the season, we’ve got shortcuts for doing it better and for less.

    LESLIE: And speaking of spending less, one lucky caller this hour gets some holiday help with a $50 Home Depot gift card. It is perfect for picking up those LED holiday lights. They’re going to last longer and you’re going to get a bigger bang for your buck.

    TOM: So call us, right now, with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elizabeth in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a brick situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    ELIZABETH: I have a crack in my brick wall. It is about a ¼-inch wide and it goes from a window sill down to the sidewalk.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s pretty typical. Around windows or around doors, that’s the weakest part of the wall. So if it’s ¼-inch wide, what I would do is I would seal it with caulk, because you want to stop the water from getting in there.

    Now, one of the options that you might want to think about is a new product from DAP called DAP 3.0. They have a clear caulk, so it’ll blend nicely with the brick. And it’s not like silicone that looks kind of gray and mucky; it looks really crystal-clear. And it’s easy to use because it dries in 30 minutes. So I would use a product like that. I would caulk it to keep the water out because if you don’t, what happens is the water gets in there. In the winter, it will freeze and expand and start to widen that and break down the brick.

    So caulk it and just accept it as normal wear and tear.

    ELIZABETH: OK. And that was DAP?

    TOM: DAP 3.0 it’s called, yep. DAP 3.0.

    ELIZABETH: Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Sean in Ohio is on the line and needs some help with a moist basement. Tell us what’s going on.

    SEAN: Yes. My basement, I finally got the outside fixed. I heard you guys say if it’s a rain event, it’s usually drainage. So I got that done and now there’s some kind of ceramic – or some waterproofing on the walls and it is flaking off onto the floor.

    TOM: Oh, great.

    SEAN: And it’s been there – the house was built in the 70s and I was wondering a good way to clean that up or what I could put on the walls to re-waterproof it.

    TOM: OK. So, I think what you’re talking about are mineral-salt deposits. Is it sort of like a whitish, grayish, powdery substance?

    SEAN: Yeah, yeah. This is like it’s been spackled on, though.

    TOM: Oh. So somebody put something on the walls and it’s releasing and falling off the block?

    SEAN: Right.

    TOM: Hmm. OK. What do you plan to do with these walls?

    SEAN: I just want to just waterproof them again, get the mold off of them and clean them up.

    TOM: So, I don’t know that you have mold on the walls. It sounds to me like you’ve got some sort of a finish that’s separating. So, can you scrape it off? Will it release easily?

    SEAN: Yeah, yeah. I just didn’t know, being the 70s, whether it might have asbestos in it or is there a good – better way to clean it up?

    TOM: I would say not likely. Of course, you could have that tested, too. But if it’s coming off easily, I would remove it and if I put anything on the walls at all, it would simply be a damp-proofing material, like a Thompson’s WaterSeal.

    And remember, the purpose of that is not to waterproof your walls; it’s to slow down the evaporation of moisture from the soil outside into the walls and any mineral salts that will be drawn through because of that. You’re not going to waterproof simply by painting your walls; it just doesn’t happen that way. You waterproof by redirecting the water away from the house, which it sounds like you’ve already tackled on the outside.

    SEAN: Yeah. It took me about 15 years but I finally got it done.

    TOM: Yeah. If it scrapes off easily, I would continue to take the rest of it off. I’d clean it up, I’d put a couple of coats of damp-proofing paint on it and I’d call it a day.

    SEAN: Oh, OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    You know, people tend to think sometimes that everything that’s black and dark is moldy and it’s not always the case, especially when you’re talking about concrete-block walls. The walls themselves don’t grow mold. It’s what’s attached to them that grows the mold. And those home test kits are notoriously inaccurate and they can be misleading.

    LESLIE: Well, there’s so many different kinds. I think you’re bound to get some sort of reading.

    TOM: And it’s normal to have mold in a house. You’re always going to have some level of mold. So it’s – as you said, it’s very misleading and really should only be used in the hands of a professional.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, having a garage can make winter a little easier but it could make it more expensive, too. We’ll have tips on insulating that chilly space, when The Money Pit continues after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour we’re giving away a fantastic prize that you can use for just about anything. It’s a $50 Home Depot gift card.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? You can get pretty much get anything and everything you want at The Depot but this time of year, why not shop their huge selection of LED and smart-home products at The Home Depot? You can get the lights, the latest smart-home technology that’s really going to work for your house and your lifestyle. And they even have LED holiday lights that you can program to music and make it change color. I mean it’s pretty awesome. I’m getting ready to set up my holiday décor.

    TOM: Check it all out at HomeDepot.com or visit your local Home Depot. The value, again: 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Let’s get back to those phones. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    RON: Yeah, I have a home with a crawlspace and I have had some moisture under there. And the builder, when he built it, he ran the runoff from the roof down into the French drains. I diverted that and it’s helped a lot but it’s still moist. And I’m asking if these encapsulated systems, where they trench the perimeter of the inside of the crawlspace and seal off the systems with a dehumidifier and a sump pump – how they work and if that’s a solution to these kinds of problems.

    TOM: Alright. So, first of all, the roof drains were going where before you capped them off?

    RON: Down in the French drain.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s not too smart, huh?

    RON: No, it wasn’t. I diverted that and it helped a lot but it’s still moist under there.

    TOM: Alright. So, now that you’ve got the roof drains disconnected from the French drain, are those drains extending out away from the foundation perimeter?

    RON: For sure.

    TOM: How far out do they go?

    RON: Oh, 20 feet?

    TOM: Oh, OK. Well, that’s a good thing.

    Alright. So the second thing that you could do, easily, is make sure that the soil that surrounds the foundation perimeter is sloped away. Most of the time, that soil settles after the house is built and becomes flatter or even inverted. So you want to make sure you have a pitch where the soil is running away from the foundation, dropping about 6 inches over 4 feet. You can plant something on that grass or mulch or stone after but make sure you have good, solid drainage.

    Now, let’s talk about the vents in the crawlspace. You need to have enough vents, so probably one or two on each wall. You need to make sure that the crawlspace floor has a vapor barrier on it.

    What’s the crawlspace floor now?

    RON: It’s vapor barrier only.

    TOM: It’s vapor barrier? So it’s completely covered in plastic?

    RON: Right.

    TOM: OK. And then, the other thing that you could do is you could add vent fans to the walls and have them wired onto a humidistat.

    RON: OK.

    TOM: So that when the moisture builds up inside the crawlspace because the humidity is high, the fans will come on and draw the drier air in from the outside.

    RON: Yeah.

    TOM: So those are things that you could do now, without spending a whole lot of money, to try to dry that space out.

    RON: Yeah.

    TOM: Now, the idea of encapsulating the crawlspace is not a bad approach and many homes are starting to be built that way today. But that literally means sealing everything off 110 percent.

    RON: Right.

    TOM: So since you’re kind of closer to being able to improve the grading, improve the drainage, double-check that vapor barrier to make sure it’s really solid and it’s thick and covering every aspect of that crawlspace floor. Make sure if it overlaps, it overlaps about 10 feet. Make sure it’s up against the foundation walls and then get good ventilation – cross-ventilation – in there using some vent fans wired to humidistats. You may find that that gives you the rest of the moisture reduction that you – that was left over after you rerouted those drains.

    RON: OK.

    TOM: OK?

    RON: Alright. Sounds good. Thank you.

    TOM: Well, if you have a garage, it’s obviously the coldest room in the house. And even though it’s not designed to be heated, without some extra insulation in a bit of ceiling, it can definitely have an impact on your home’s energy efficiency and lead to higher heating bills inside your home.

    LESLIE: Yeah, guys. Your garage wasn’t meant to be a living space, so it doesn’t have nearly as much insulation as the rest of your house. In fact, the walls shared by the garage and your home’s interior, that’s pretty much the only insulation you’re getting there. So you need to do a little garage winterizing so that you can keep your home warm and your time in the garage more bearable.

    TOM: Now, for starters, stop big drafts getting in and around the garage door by checking the weather-stripping at the sides and top of the door. And add a new gasket along the bottom to help seal out drafts, as well. As a general rule of thumb, if you can see light getting around or under the door, the drafts are streaming straight in with it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the door leading from the garage to your house, that should also get some attention. You want to make sure that it’s sealed and weather stripped to prevent any air leaks. And next, you want to think about adding some insulation to the garage ceiling. It’ll make that space warmer to work in if you’re a cold-weather project-doer. But it’s also going to make the room above the garage a lot warmer, as well.

    TOM: Now, builders are generally not required to insulate and drywall any walls that are not covered between the house and the garage. So if you’ve got open walls, add insulation and drywall. That’s also going to make it a little easier to finish them in the future.

    For more tips, head on over to our website and search “garage makeovers” at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Nancy in Pennsylvania needs some help with a heating question. What can we do for you today?

    NANCY: Well, I live in an all-electric house that was built in the 60s and it has electric baseboard heat. And those things are ugly. Is there anything that I can replace them with that’s more modern-looking? Because these have the old grillwork and they get dust and dirt. And every time you turn the heat on, you have to burn the dust off and it’s just – and it’s hard to put furniture around it, because it takes up the whole length of the wall. Is there anything that they can be replaced with or anything that would look more modern?

    LESLIE: So now, you’re looking for a way to get rid of the baseboard heating in total with a different heating system, correct? Not changing the electricity source but just changing the heat unit itself.

    NANCY: Yeah. Just getting rid of that baseboard and replacing it with something that looks better, that looks more modern than this old, metal grillwork.

    LESLIE: Well, they make covers for them. You know, if you look online, there’s one company called RadiantWraps.com. And they’re covers for baseboard heaters, regardless of the fuel source: electricity, gas, steam. And that can look like a variety of things, so you can get something that’s a little more traditional, something that’s more rustic, something that’s more modern that will cover up that basic slant/fin model that you associate with a baseboard heater. There’s perforated models that are just – cover over the fin look and make that one look disappear.

    So it’s up to you. I mean if you’re looking for something different, then go for a radiant source that’s wall-mounted. But if you want to just cover up what you’ve got, look online. One company to check out is Radiant Wraps.

    NANCY: OK. Yeah, I just want something that looks nicer and more modern.

    TOM: Yeah, well, I think that will do it for you. Radiant Wraps. Take a look.

    NANCY: OK, I will. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Andrew in North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with shower-drain issues. What’s going on?

    ANDREW: When you take a shower, about a couple minutes after the water has been running, it’ll start to back up, to some degree, into the shower itself. And if you take a plunger and you use the plunger up and down, up and down maybe four or five times and you pull it up, all of a sudden, as the water starts to go out slowly, you’ll get a slurping noise. And then you get through taking a shower and it’s running out. But you can go back in and 20 minutes later and the same thing happens again.

    TOM: Right. So you know what that slurping noise is?

    ANDREW: No, sir.

    TOM: It’s your shower drain gasping for air. For some reason, that shower drain is not vented properly. So as the water drains out, you create sort of a suction and that’s what slows it down. And so I suspect with you using that plunger, you’re freeing up that suction and loosening up the water so it has a chance to grab enough air and go down.

    Was this shower added after the home was built, by any chance?

    ANDREW: No, sir. It’s been that way and – of course, the plumber said there was nothing wrong. I said, “Well, there has to be something wrong.”

    TOM: Yeah, if you’re getting a gurgling sound like that, you’re not getting enough air in it. And so it sounds to me like you probably need to add an additional vent. This is assuming that there’s no clog there.

    ANDREW: Right. Because we used – my wife has used Liquid-Plumr, I’ve used a plunger, the plunger, the plungers and it goes out. But then when you stop, the same thing happens again.

    TOM: Right. Well, I wouldn’t use the chemicals. What you could do is run a snake down that line and make sure it’s clear.

    ANDREW: Right.

    TOM: Just to make sure there’s no hair or any other kind of gunk that’s trapped in there. But generally, when you have a drain like that that’s gurgling, it’s looking for additional air. And it usually means that the vent is not there or the vent is obstructed and that’s what’s really going to be the source of this: making sure we have enough air in there.

    If you had to add additional vents to it, depending on how easy or difficult it is to get to that line, it is possible.

    ANDREW: I appreciate your help and thank you, again.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elizabeth in Idaho who’s dealing with some siding that’s coming apart. Tell us about it.

    ELIZABETH: So I have a 1970-built house and with composite siding on the entire house. But on the west side – where it gets most of the weather, the heat and the rain and wind and so forth – the horizontal siding has split where the siding joins themselves and has spread open as much as a ¼- to ½-inch.

    TOM: Was it just in one area or is it all over the place?

    ELIZABETH: It’s mostly on the west side of the house that gets the brunt of the weather.

    TOM: OK. So many places it’s coming apart or just a couple of places?

    ELIZABETH: Quite a few, quite a few. I’d say 10 places on the back of the house.

    TOM: I would caulk the seams. If it’s ¼- to ½-inch, I would caulk it. I would get caulk that’s colored to match the siding and I would apply a bead of caulk. Because the other thing to do, of course, is to put new siding in. You would have to cut out the old siding and overlap that space and then paint it and it’s a really big project. So, I would caulk it and call it a day.

    ELIZABETH: OK. We have tried that and we’ve used a product – is it OK if I say the name of the product?

    TOM: Sure.

    ELIZABETH: It’s DAP – D-A-P.

    TOM: Right.

    ELIZABETH: And we used DAP DYNAFLEX 230. And we’ve also tried DAP Alex Plus. And after we put that in, we went out to look at it after about two or three days and then the – that area has just gone concave. So it’s just sunk into the siding, so it leaves a big, concave area where it was once just a crack.

    Now, can we put something over that? Should we just keep putting layers on?

    TOM: I think there’s a misunderstanding with what you’re trying to accomplish here, OK? What we want to do is keep the moisture from getting in there. And when you caulk, yes, it is going to dry and it’s going to shrink and actually sort of fill in very tightly any gap that you have there. You’re not using a wood filler, OK? You’re using a caulk.

    And so I would not worry about small, concave gaps like that in between the caulk; that’s what I would expect it to do. Doing that, if you want to paint it over so it’s all the same color, you can probably blend it in more. But that is exactly what it should be doing.

    ELIZABETH: Alright. Well, it’s just kind of unsightly where it comes together; it’s just a big, concave area. But it looks better than the crack, so …

    TOM: Let’s hope that’s the biggest problem you ever have with your house, OK?

    ELIZABETH: I hope so.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, does all the talk about going green leave you pretty much just unsure of where to start? Well, we’re going to get good advice on green home efficiency when we talk to an expert from the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.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: Well, for years we have been big fans of the ENERGY STAR program. It’s a government program that works. Go figure. Helps us be much more efficient around our homes, especially when we’re going out to buy appliances, like washers and dryers and air conditioners. But what about your home? Could your home be an ENERGY STAR appliance sort of in and of itself?

    LESLIE: Well, joining us to explain how you can achieve an ENERGY STAR-rated home, we’ve got Brian Ng who’s the marketing manager for the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR Home Program.

    Welcome, Brian.

    BRIAN: Well, thank you very much. I’m glad to be here.

    TOM: So, Brian, we are accustomed to purchasing ENERGY STAR computers and televisions. And even windows and doors can be ENERGY STAR-rated. What makes our entire house an ENERGY STAR home?

    BRIAN: Yeah, that’s a great question. As you said, consumers are really familiar with ENERGY STAR through the products or electronics that they buy. Not many people realize an entire house can earn the ENERGY STAR label, too. It’s the same concept, where the home is basically designed and built to be energy-efficient from the ground up. And if a home meets certain energy-efficiency requirements that have been established by the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, then it earns the Blue ENERGY STAR label, which usually goes on the electrical box of the house.

    LESLIE: So now, this obviously has to be something that happens from new construction. You can’t sort of retrofit an existing home to become an ENERGY STAR home.

    BRIAN: That’s right. Well, technically you can. But we usually tell people, who ask if they can, it’s really very difficult because of the things that you have to install in the home. There are some things that involve getting under the foundation, for example, to install a water barrier, for example, between the foundation and the ground. That typically is pretty hard to do and that you need a gut rehab.

    LESLIE: True.

    BRIAN: Yeah.

    TOM: What’s been the reaction to builders to the opportunity to construct ENERGY STAR homes? Do they see this as somewhat of an annoyance or are they willing to kind of step up, take the initial steps necessary to build a home that’s ENERGY STAR-qualified?

    BRIAN: Yeah. We have home builder partners around the country – small builders to large, national production builders – who build ENERGY STAR-certified homes. In fact, to date there’s been 1.6 million of these homes built across the country. Just last year, there was about 86,000 of these homes built by builders across the country. So, participation is really, really high; interest is very high.

    Consumers are more aware of the impact of their house on the environment and how energy efficiency not only saves them money but makes them more comfortable, typically. They can live a better lifestyle in an energy-efficient home than a non-energy-efficient home.

    And so, ENERGY STAR-certified homes offer that value proposition to home buyers. Built from the ground up to be energy efficient, these homes are 15- to 30-percent more energy-efficient than a typical new home and can save homeowners thousands of dollars over the ownership years that they live in the home.

    LESLIE: Do you think they’re seeing higher costs, initially, to achieve the ENERGY STAR rating and it all sort of recoups in the savings? Or is it very similar to building the old way of building?

    BRIAN: That’s a very good question. From anecdotal information we collect from our builder partners, they typically say it does cost a little bit more for them to build an ENERGY STAR-certified home, which makes sense because many of the features and systems that are in the ENERGY STAR homes typically aren’t found in new construction – regular new construction.

    So it does cost a little bit more upfront for them to build. It may cost a little bit more to purchase it in a mortgage. But what happens is homeowners, through the energy savings they see year after year after year, they recoup that upfront cost and then some. So in the end, they usually end up ahead.

    TOM: We’re talking to Brian Ng. He’s the marketing manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Home Program.

    So, Brian, you mentioned how much more efficient ENERGY STAR homes are. Can you give us some specific examples of the types of improvements that would be added to an ENERGY STAR home, that perhaps consumers might be surprised about?

    BRIAN: Sure, absolutely. Basically, what makes an ENERGY STAR-certified home different are these systems – these key systems – that really have a direct impact on a home’s energy efficiency. One of these systems that is installed in an ENERGY STAR home is a thermal-enclosure system. It basically involves comprehensive air sealing, quality installed insulation and high-performance windows, which together act to improve comfort and lower utility bills.

    Another system is a high HVAC system, which has been designed and installed for optimal performance, which also helps improve indoor air, reducing the exposure to things like pollen and dust. And then there’s this water-management system, which protects the roof, walls and foundations from moisture damage. And then, of course, you have energy-efficient lighting and appliances.

    LESLIE: Brian, do you think that you could add individual components? I know you’re saying that there’s a roofing system. So if you’re in the market to replace your roof, can you go ahead and find a builder that does an ENERGY STAR-rated roof structure and just have that on your home?

    BRIAN: Usually not. Usually, the features of an ENERGY STAR-certified home come as a complete package, because these systems all have to work together in order to maximize the energy efficiency of a home as a whole. But there are individual ENERGY STAR-certified products. There is, actually, ENERGY STAR-certified roofing out there, so there is that.

    But as far as just installing one or two or a couple of the features that come in an ENERGY STAR-certified home, usually that doesn’t make for a home that earns the ENERGY STAR label. That’s just something that has ENERGY STAR components, if you will.

    TOM: And certainly, that’s not a bad thing to do.

    BRIAN: No, no, not necessarily. Not a bad thing to do, for sure. But we – you know, ENERGY STAR typically – we don’t recommend or suggest that builders do that. We usually recommend, of course, that they build the whole home to be ENERGY STAR-certified, because that’s really where you get the most benefit.

    LESLIE: Where in the United States – you said that you have homes being constructed across the United States. But are you noticing a trend as to a region or a state that tends to be more environmental-savvy?

    BRIAN: Yeah, we do see that trend. We see a lot of ENERGY STAR-certified homes, for example, in the Pacific Northwest where they tend to be much – very, very much environmentally aware. The homeowners tend to really understand the impact of their actions and their lifestyle on the environment there.

    But we see it in other areas. We see it in California, we see some in Florida, we see some on the East Coast, particularly in New England, as well as the South. So, it’s really spread out around the country, where you see this growing awareness and growing concern about how people live in their homes and the impact they have on the environment and the climate.

    TOM: Definitely a program to be well aware of: ENERGY STAR homes. If you’d like more information, you can simply go to ENERGYSTAR.gov/NewHomes.

    Brian Ng from the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Homes Program, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    BRIAN: Thank you. Appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much.

    Hey, coming up, it’s getting darker sooner. Are your car’s headlights up to the job? We’re going to tell you how to get them bright and clean and safe and keep them that way, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, 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, with your home improvement project at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win yourself a $50 Home Depot gift card.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? It’s going to be darker a lot longer out there, guys, so why not use your gift card to get some new LED light bulbs or work lights or fixtures or even holiday lights? You’re going to keep them on longer, so why not save some money?

    You can redeem your gift card in the store or online. No fees, no expiration. Check out all your shopping options at HomeDepot.com.

    TOM: That’s HomeDepot.com.

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

    TOMMY: My question concerns my dryer. I moved into a house that had the washer and dryer already here in my laundry room. And when I was cleaning back behind the dryer – the dryer hose is aluminum type and it’s attached with tape. Obviously, not done correctly. And what I want to know is what would you recommend? Is there a better dryer-vent hose or a tube of some kind? It’s a fairly short distance from the wall to the dryer.

    TOM: If it’s the flexible aluminum hose, then that – I would probably go ahead and put that back in. If it’s vinyl, I would not. But you’re sure it’s aluminum, right?

    TOMMY: It is. It’s like shiny aluminum foil.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And that’s the one that you want there, because that’s heat-resistant.

    TOMMY: Oh, you do. OK.

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOMMY: Rather than the white vinyl? It’s better than the white vinyl.

    LESLIE: Right. Because the white vinyl could overheat and potentially cause a fire hazard. So the aluminum one is great because it won’t hold onto all of that heat.

    Now, the question is, where does your dryer hose vent to? Does it go to the outside? Has it been cleaned in a while? These are all maintenance things that you need to be doing for your dryer.

    TOMMY: Right, Leslie. And that’s what I wanted to do, because I am so afraid of fire hazards. OK, so I need to detach it? And it is vented to an outside vent.

    TOM: So what you should do is get a dryer-vent cleaning brush. There is one that’s available online called the Gardus LintEater. Leslie and I both have one of these brushes. They’re really cool. They’re like brushes on the end of fiberglass rods. And you stick them into a drill and just spin them into the vent and go back and forth and pull them out.

    TOMMY: Oh, my goodness.

    TOM: And you’d be amazed how much dust comes out of those things. So that’s one – I’m sure you could probably find it at a home center or at a hardware store, as well. But a dryer-duct cleaning brush is what you really need for that.

    TOMMY: OK. And then when I reattach that hose to the vent and then to the dryer, obviously I don’t want to use tape, which is what they’ve used.

    TOM: There’s a big bracket that is sort of like a clamp that fits around that. And it goes over the hose and the hose goes over the vent and then it all sort of screws together. And I’m sure you could also find those at a home center or a hardware store. No, you should definitely not tape it together.

    TOMMY: I will do that. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

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

    Well, if you’re a fan of The Money Pit, you’re probably into doing it yourself. And if you are a DIYer at home, you probably are also a DIYer when it comes to your car. Well, now your favorite home center – The Home Depot – is also your one-stop shop for auto-care needs.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You can get supplies and materials for so many car-care projects, right at The Home Depot. For example, have you noticed that your headlights aren’t lighting up what’s in front of you as well as they used to? Well, over time, your headlights can become sun-damaged, they can become scratched or even oxidized. And that’s going to give a cloudy, milky and yellowing lens, which will reduce your headlamp function.

    TOM: Now, the solution is the Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer Kit. Now, it’s got everything you need to get your headlights shining bright. It includes the Lens Clarifying Compound, spray lubricant and professional wet restoration pads. So that’ll help you remove stubborn plastic oxidation and restore the lens’ clarity.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s available at The Home Depot.

    Now, The Home Depot has responded to growing demand and increased its automotive selection both in store and online.

    TOM: Look for the Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer in the expanded auto section at The Home Depot near you and online at HomeDepot.com.

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

    BUCK: I was calling to ask a question about a built-up roof, about 4,000 square foot. I was thinking about taking and putting a coating on top of it. No insulation in the attic. And wanted  to know if it really would actually defer the heat in the lower floor by putting a brilliant-white roof coating on top.

    TOM: Well, those types of roof paints do have UV reflectors in there and they’re designed to make the roof cooler. And certainly, it will be a heck of a lot cooler than the black roof that you’re starting with. So I think that that’s probably a good idea in your situation, especially being in such a warm part of the country, Buck.

    BUCK: Any particular product brand that you can suggest going on top of tar?

    TOM: No. But make sure it’s a roof paint. I mean typically, you use a fibrous aluminum paint for something like that. What you really want to look for is the UV reflectivity of it. Because the more UV it reflects, the better the job it’s going to do.

    And by the way, it will also extend the roof life, as well, because the cooler the roof is, that means less of the oil is going to evaporate out of the asphalt and it’ll last a lot longer.

    BUCK: OK. Good.

    TOM: Buck, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, does hosting friends and family leave you a lot more stressed than satisfied? Well, we’re going to share some tips to help you get ready for guests this holiday season in just a few easy steps, coming up after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, daylight saving time means a lot less sunlight, making this the perfect season to add some light of your own. You can turn heads and make your home safer for family and guests with creative outdoor-lighting ideas for driveways, walkways, gardens and more. They’re all on the home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Here we go. We’re jumping into our e-mail bag and I’ve got one from Talia who writes: “What’s the best material to use for outdoor countertops in a grilling area? They’re currently covered in Mexican tile that was replaced five years ago. The countertop is in the sun all day and exposed to the elements. Concrete sounds like a great, long-term investment but I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg since we plan to list the house in a year or so.”

    TOM: You’re right that concrete is a good option. It’s very enduring. It’s great for outdoor kitchens. I’m wondering, though, what’s wrong with the existing Mexican tile.

    Typically, Leslie, isn’t that a great exterior surface?

    LESLIE: It’s really beautiful and it is kind of meant for the outdoors but it’s not usually sealed on top. So if you’re doing a lot of cooking or prep work outside, it’s going to absorb anything: marinates, oils, greases, all of that. And it’ll look lovely in the beginning. Unless you seal it, which kind of takes away the charm of a Mexican tile, it’s really not the best choice.

    TOM: Now, there are Mexican tiles, though, that they look like regular clay tiles which are unsealed but they are, in fact, actually sealed, correct?

    LESLIE: Yeah. You can get those. And that’s really, probably, your best choice because of the situation.

    The other thing is if you want that concrete look, why not try out QUIKRETE? They have a DIY concrete kit. They’ve got a lot of great videos online. You can turn it into a weekend project and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

    TOM: Well, the countdown is on. Only a few weeks until Thanksgiving, which means only a few weeks left for all of the hosting, the cooking and the cleaning that comes with it. If you’re feeling behind the eight ball, not a problem. Leslie has got some shortcuts you’ll be thankful for, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, guys, start cleaning now. You want to go room to room and clear away the clutter. This is a great time of year to donate or get rid of toys, since the holidays are likely to fill your home up again with a bunch more. And if there’s any time to splurge on a one-time housekeeper, it’s leading up to the holiday season. A deep cleaning today will still be felt in a few weeks when your friends and family start to arrive.

    Now, you want to keep your guests from feeling like sardines in your kitchen or your dining area. And instead, use existing furniture that you’ve got in your house. Create nooks for noshing and catching up. You don’t want to jam everybody around a table, because your guests are going to love the cocktail-party feel and you’re really going to enjoy all that extra breathing room.

    Now, set your table a day or so ahead of time. This way, you’ve got your goal in mind all day. You know what I like do is wherever my serving platters are, I like to put a sticky note in them that says “turkey,” “gravy,” “cranberry,” “carrots.” This way, I know exactly what’s going where and should one of my guests offer to help, I can say, “Ooh, get me that dish that’s marked ‘turkey.'” And they can hand it to me and everybody feels happy and you don’t get frustrated.

    And finally, you’ve got to breathe easy, guys. The most memorable touches are often the most affordable ones. You can use pillows and throws to accent that holiday guest space and highlight the colors of the season and display photos or artifacts from the holidays past. It really sort of gives that nostalgic feeling to this wonderful time of year.

    If you’ve got an attic full of outdated decorations, consider a space or room devoted to less-than-modern stuff. And guests are really going to like that campy sort of feeling. Have fun with your décor. Really, just enjoy it. It’s the one time of year that you really get to go a little crazy at home.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, storm season is here. And that brings along with it lots of leaks in walls and ceilings. You know, one of the most common causes is one that perhaps you’ve never considered before: your vinyl siding. We’re going to have tips to help you get to the bottom of vinyl-siding leaks and prevent the next one, 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 2015 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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