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Snow Removal Tips, How to Prepare for a Power Outage, Add Glamour to Your Home Inexpensively 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: Standing by to answer your home improvement questions, to help you solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Pick up the phone and help yourself first by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great hour planned for you. First up, what is very pretty when it’s falling but quickly becomes a back-breaking chore as it settles on your walkway and your driveways? Well, snow, of course, right? And it was a bit late to arrive here in the Northeast but no matter where you live, it takes a lot of work to keep your home’s walkways clear. We’re going to have some tips to make that project a lot easier, though, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And aside from making a slippery, dangerous mess out of your walkway, that snow can also cause power outages if you get enough of it. So are you prepared to withstand a complete blackout? We’re going to have tips on what steps you should take now to be sure that you are totally prepared.

    TOM: Also, you might not have a ticket to the red carpet for this year’s Academy Awards but that’s no reason not to get into the spirit. So we’re going to tell you how to add some Hollywood glamour and glitz to your home without breaking the bank.

    LESLIE: And how would you like to see what’s going on at your house when you are away at work or even on vacation? We are giving away a wireless home system from VueZone to a lucky caller. You can check in on the security of your home right from your smartphone and it’s worth 200 bucks.

    TOM: So, pick up the phone and give us a call right now for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and you must have a home improvement question and have the guts to come on and ask it to us. We promise not to make fun of you. 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    LESLIE: We’ve got Ann on the line who’s got a ceiling issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    ANN: Well, what happened is I have a large living room. At one time, it had been two rooms and they combined it into one.


    ANN: On one of the sections, it has a metal or a tin ceiling. And what I want to do is install a ceiling to match in the other section. I located the manufacturer of the ceiling tiles. However, I don’t know who to call to do the installation, because they could not provide me with any ideas. So, should I be looking for a sheet-metal person? Should I look for a tinsmith or a …?

    TOM: So you can’t find a tin ceiling installer in the phone book? Is that what you’re trying to tell us?

    ANN: Right. There’s no one listed.

    TOM: Listen, it’s not a hard project, Linda. It’s really a job for a carpenter. It’s not a difficult project. A carpenter with a little bit of metalworking experience can handle this. And I’m very impressed that you actually found the product, because it’s a little tough to find.

    LESLIE: Yeah, exactly what you’re looking for.

    TOM: Yeah.

    ANN: Right.

    TOM: So I would handle – a good carpenter or a good handyman. Really easy job to install that. And so that’s the way I would take it.

    ANN: Oh, thank you ever so much. I really appreciate all your help.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bill in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    BILL: We’ve got some nice, big picture windows in a house overlooking a lake. And we have some problems with radiant heat during the midday sun and we’re worried about fading in the floors, so we were thinking of tinting the windows. We were told that they’re gelled when windows – we were told that it would probably void the warranty.

    Do you all have any opinions about how often that damage occurs? And if you’re going to do window tinting on something like that, do you know which one gives you the best bang for the (audio gap)? I know that there’s the LLumar and SUN-GARD and 3M.

    TOM: Yeah. I think 3M has got a pretty reputation on – in this space. I don’t know about the impact on the warranty. I could understand that manufacturers build and test windows and they don’t really like anything touching it after that. And you can understand that.

    LESLIE: Right. But from my understanding, Tom, aren’t the 3M window – well, the option – isn’t it a film that you apply and it’s not a permanent coating? So I really can’t understand how that would void a warranty.

    TOM: Yeah, I can’t either. And it doesn’t attach to the inside of the window.

    BILL: It’s just a film that goes on the inside but they say that it can trap enough heat in there that it can cause a potential problem with the seals and cause cracks.

    TOM: Correct.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Yeah and I’m sure it does.

    BILL: Do you have any idea about how often that may occur? Is it a frequent occurrence or is that really rare?

    LESLIE: I don’t know. I guess you really need to think about the costs of the sun damage that’s occurring to your fabric, your furnishings, your floor. Is it worth it to sort of get a light-diffusing shade that you can pull down during the super-sunny hours rather than putting a film on the window? You know, there are other options as far as adding a fabric shade or something just to reduce that light coming in. But over the long run, you’re going to have to replace your furniture again, as well.

    BILL: Those are all good thoughts. Very good thoughts. OK, thank you.

    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 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, I love snow but only on the ski slopes, not so much on my walkway. It can be a real dangerous mess and we’re going to tell you the best way to get rid of it, 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 www.ODL.com 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: Give us a call here at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to is going to win the hottest technology in home security. It’s a wireless home video system from VueZone. These things were all the rage at the Consumer Electronics Show. It lets you see your home from your smartphone wherever you are.

    And if there’s motion in your house, it will even take a video and e-mail it to you. I wonder if the subject line says, “Burglar at loose in your house.” You could win this if you pick up the phone and call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.

    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 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: So, winter is not everybody’s favorite time of year. And unless you live in a tropical climate, you’re probably going to be faced with the problem of what to do with all of that snow that eventually finds its way to the ground.

    Well, the goal here is safety. Walkways, driveways and steps, you’ve got to clear them. Snow blowers, they’re going to be your best bet. And there’s a great article on MoneyPit.com called “How to Choose a Snow Blower.” And it’s going to help you determine which type will meet your specific needs. Now, it actually depends on the surface that you have to be cleared and not the type or the amount of snow that you get.

    Now, one important tip that a lot of people are surprised to learn: their lawn mower has a snow-blower attachment. So check this out before you shell out any money.

    TOM: Next thing to think about are these deicers. They will melt ice very well but you’ll have the most luck if you put out a thin layer before the snow falls and the ice forms.

    Now, the best type to keep your concrete sidewalks and driveways from deteriorating is potassium chloride, not sodium chloride. This less-hazardous type of deicer is also safer for pets and wood floors. You say, “How am I going to get it on my wood floors?” Well, you’re going to track it inside, of course. And you’ll find that it really will wear off that finish very quickly.

    So remember, potassium chloride is best, not sodium chloride.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And of course, when it comes to snow, there’s always good old-fashioned shoveling.

    TOM: Nothing old-fashioned about that. We still do it today.

    LESLIE: Working with your hands. Regular day-to-day work. You know, we know it’s not the funnest job. I suggest bribing or even blackmailing your kids to do it. Mine’s only three; he’s not there yet but he’s going to be soon.

    And if that doesn’t work, be sure to stretch before you actually start the work. You want to move the snow the shortest distance possible. And the old adage is true: lift with your legs and not with your back. And then you can relax, at least until the next snowfall.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. While you’re relaxing, pick up the phone and give us a call with your next home improvement project. We are here to help.

    LESLIE: Phyllis in Texas is working on a bathroom makeover. How can we help you with that project?

    PHYLLIS: Hi. We have a very large bathroom and I’ve got a lot of wallpaper. And I’m trying to decide whether I need to pull the wallpaper off the wall before I paint it or if I should just put more wallpaper up over it. I’ve taken wallpaper off of my kitchen at one point, which was really kind of a chore.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. To say the least.

    PHYLLIS: And I’ve heard some kind of bad stories about – that maybe the wallpaper will bubble up and so I’m just – I just don’t really know what the best way to do this is and which way to go.

    LESLIE: What’s your ultimate goal? Do you want new wallpaper or do you want paint? Like if you could have anything in your world.

    PHYLLIS: I kind of would like to go to the paint, at this point.


    PHYLLIS: I’ve been in the house about 14 years.

    LESLIE: And you’re tired of this wallpaper.

    PHYLLIS: Yes.

    LESLIE: And you’re tired of wallpaper in general.

    TOM: Period.

    PHYLLIS: Yes.

    LESLIE: I’ve seen people paint over wallpaper. Please, I’ve done home-makeover shows for seven years. When you are on a budget and on a time issue, people paint over wallpaper and it’s never a pretty sight. You end up where you can see the seams, regardless of how much you sort of patch over the seams and smooth it out. It’s never pretty in the end and should you get a situation where the adhesive on the wallpaper will eventually wear out, now everything starts peeling off.

    And if you want to remove that wallpaper later, now you’ve sort of sealed it all in with paint and that’s going to make the removal process even harder. I say just, really, get your act together and get prepared to take that wallpaper down and resurface those walls. Or if you can spare half an inch, cover it up with new drywall.

    PHYLLIS: Oh. Now that’s an idea.

    LESLIE: Just forget it’s there and cover it up.

    PHYLLIS: It’s a really large bathroom and it’s just – having done it once to a kitchen, it’s like, “Do I really want to do that again?” But yeah, OK. Well, that kind of answered that. So it doesn’t ever really, really work out when you paint over wallpaper? There’s no real …

    TOM: No, because you always see it coming through and it just doesn’t look right, Phyllis.

    LESLIE: You can prime it as much as you want. It just – it never looks right and then in the end, it’s like you’ll always know that you skipped a step and you’ll hate it. You’ll feel sad about the project.

    PHYLLIS: Oh, right. Yeah. Don’t want to do that because you spend so much time going in and out and it – you can see it from the bedroom itself and – no.

    TOM: Right. Now, we always say you’re better off to do it once, do it right and then you don’t have to do it again. There’s a little tool called a Paper Tiger that you can pick up. It’s about seven bucks and it scores the wallpaper. And then you put the wallpaper remover on top of that and it soaks through and it makes it a bit easier to remove. And if that doesn’t work quickly enough for you, you can always rent a wallpaper steamer.

    PHYLLIS: OK. Alright. Well, I’ll try that and see how we do.

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

    LESLIE: Jane in Pennsylvania is on the line and needs some help with a bathroom heating project.

    JANE: Well, I have baseboard heat; it’s hot-water baseboard heat in the bathroom.


    JANE: And the front cover is all rusting out.

    TOM: OK.

    JANE: And I cannot find a cover and right now, I have contact over it so you don’t see the rust.

    TOM: Oh. You know, you can actually order covers for those baseboards. There is a company that sells perforated covers that goes on top of them, so it won’t reduce the heat terribly much. I think it’s called – is it Baseboarder, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, their website is BaseboardHeaterCovers.com. And they sort of just go where – I guess they would replace that whole inset that’s sort of rusted away on you. You keep your end panels, this piece goes in. It’s a pretty easy do-it-yourself installation. You just have to make sure you measure them correctly.

    They’re not going to rust and because the entire piece is perforated, I think it’s going to help you get as much heat out of it as you can. And since yours is mostly covered by the commode anyway – they’re not gorgeous. They’re not terrible, I don’t think, but I mean it’ll do the job for you.

    JANE: Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: David in Missouri needs some help with a tankless water heater. What can we do for you?

    DAVID: Yes. I was wanting to find out where I could buy a tankless and what size I would need.

    TOM: Well, the answer depends on the number of bathrooms in the house, David. And all of the manufacturers of tankless offer sizing guides. For example, if you go to Rheem.com – R-h-e-e-m – .com, they have a section of their website – they call it “Easy As 1-2-3 Tankless Selection for Homeowners.”

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s under their Best Fit Guide.

    TOM: How many bathrooms do you have?

    DAVID: It’d be two.

    TOM: Two? Alright. So that’s the smallest one. They call that the RTG-64 Series. And that should supply plenty of hot water for your house. And the nice thing about tankless is it essentially supplies an unlimited amount of hot water, so you’ll never run out.

    DAVID: If it makes any difference between well water or city water.

    TOM: No, it shouldn’t make any difference whatsoever whether you’re heating well water or city water. The tankless water heater will work just as well with both.

    DAVID: OK. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Well, no area of the country is immune to power outages. One storm can leave you in the dark and without water for weeks. We’re going to tell you how to prepare, after this.

    (theme song)

    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: 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, in today’s plugged-in world of smartphones and computers and tablets, people need power. And as all the power failures of 2011 showed us once again, we Americans get pretty darn grumpy when you take away our electricity, especially for weeks on end, which happened just last year.

    LESLIE: Ugh. Irene. Still is a very sore point for me.

    And that’s why it’s super-important, now more than ever, to have a plan for a power failure that makes sure that your life can go on, regardless of any loss of the utility company’s power. And the way to do that is by installing a permanent standby generator.

    Now, we’ve got Ed Del Grande and he’s an expert that knows how to do just that. He’s also a three-time master pipefitter, plumber and contractor and spokesperson for the Kohler Company.

    Welcome, Ed.

    ED: Oh, it’s great to be back with you guys.

    TOM: Now, Ed, generators were in very hot demand in 2011. There’s got to be a trend forming here. Are people starting to treat them as a pretty standard part of the construction of a new house?

    ED: Yeah. Indeed, this is going to be the equipment of the future. Just like 20 years ago, where central air conditioning may not have been standard and now today, just about every new house in a climate where it gets a little warm has central air conditioning. Well, you’re going to see more and more houses have standby generators as a permanent piece of equipment and a standard piece of equipment.

    And Tom, if you want, I can go into the difference between a standby generator and a regular portable generator so all your listeners know.

    TOM: Well, let’s talk about that. There are two types of generators. There is the standby generator, which does just that: it stands by; it’s permanently installed. But of course, that’s not the generator that most folks are familiar with. They’re more familiar with the portable generators that we see contractors haul off the back of the truck, fill up with gasoline, plug in a few power cords and away you go. But that’s just not as convenient, is it, Ed?

    ED: No. And a lot of people don’t even realize there is the standby option. And like you said, a portable generator is just what the name says. You have to pull that out before a storm, rent all kinds of extension cords, have gasoline handy, which is a tough fuel to pour on a hot engine. And that is really – in my book, it’s not really the best choice.

    The standby generators run on natural gas or propane, so it’s a self-feeding fuel; there’s no refueling. And since it’s a permanent fixture installed, it’s ready to go with an automatic switch. So you don’t do anything except enjoy the new electricity you just got.

    LESLIE: Now, with the automatic switch, how does that work? Does that sort of talk consistently to your power supply and it knows whether there’s power coming into the home or not?

    ED: Oh, yeah. Leslie, you’re right on the ball. I mean you know how these systems work.

    And what’s great is the intelligent transfer switch, which is the main switch, is always monitoring the power coming into the house. So if it senses that the electricity at the street is out, it automatically switches over the circuits. Then it will start up the standby generator and within 10 seconds, you have power in your house. So now I think everybody can understand why it’s going to be the equipment for the future rather than dragging all the extension cords around your yard.

    TOM: We’re talking to Ed Del Grande. He is a three-time master pipefitter, a plumber, a contractor and a spokesperson for the Kohler Company.

    Ed, Kohler generators have a type of engine called a Kohler Command PRO Engine. What makes that an engine that we should really know about if we’re thinking about purchasing a standby?

    ED: Well, here’s the great thing about the Kohler generators is that the Kohler generators get to use their Kohler engines. And anybody in the engine business knows that Kohler engines are the best engines around. They run the John Deere tractors and they’re really reliable engines.

    So, having a company that makes the generator and the engines is always your best way to go.

    TOM: Now, Kohler just donated a number of generators, I believe, to a needy family that was featured on Extreme Home Makeover. Can you talk about that?

    ED: Yeah, well, what we do – we’re really involved with Extreme Home Makeover. Not only the generators but the plumbing fixtures for the show all come from the Kohler Company. So as soon as we hear a story where we can help out – even if it’s things like Habitat for Humanity, a lot of charities, places that need power and like we’re talking about, Extreme Home Makeover – we’re always there to help out where we can.

    Because let’s face it, it’s great to have the big-screen TV running when the power is out but the main thing we’re concerned about is people with special needs, who may be on respirators or they need air conditioning in the heat for the elderly. We want to make sure that these people are going to survive any weather event or loss of power. So the generator, that’s our main point is to get it out there for safety reasons.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it really is way more than a recreational necessity.

    ED: Yeah. It really is something where everybody who owns a house should look into this, because it could end up saving a life of a neighbor, people in your family. Because electricity does so much and like you say, we’re a plugged-in society. Now, losing power for two or three days is not an easy walk through the park.

    TOM: Good point. Ed Del Grande – master pipefitter, plumber, contractor and spokesperson for the Kohler Company – thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you’d like to check out the Kohler generators, simply go to their website, which is KohlerSmartPower.com. You can also pick up the phone and call 800-544-2444 or log on to Facebook.com/KohlerGenerators.

    Thanks, Ed.

    ED: Thank you, guys.

    LESLIE: Well, is your home missing a glamorous touch? We’re going to tell you how to glam it up just in time for the Oscars, after this.

    (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 www.ODL.com 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: And this hour, we’re giving away a high-tech way to check in on your house from anywhere at any time. It’s VueZone’s Wireless Home Video System. It lets you see cameras set up in your home from your computer or your smartphone. It will even alert you if there is motion in your house.

    It’s worth 200 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that we talk to on today’s program. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now for your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Virginia on the line who needs some help with a basement-flooring project. Tell us what’s going on.

    VIRGINIA: We want to finish the basement floor.

    TOM: OK.

    VIRGINIA: And in the – it’ll be like a kitchen area. And we want to put in – it’s kind of like a laminate wood-type flooring that you put in sections. Is that a problem? Like somebody said something about – you need a moisture barrier. Is there an issue with that?

    TOM: Well, first of all, it’s a good choice for a basement because it is very moisture-resistant. The way you install it is going to depend specifically on the manufacturer’s recommended instructions for it, Virginia. So it’s really critical that wherever you buy this, you follow their specs because each one’s a little bit different.

    But conceptually, it’s not hard to do. I mean in some cases, they’re going to want you to put down a vapor barrier first. In other cases, the vapor barrier could be attached to the bottom of the laminate. The underlayment could be pre-attached to the bottom of the laminate and so on.

    So, I would follow the manufacturer’s instructions but it is a perfect choice for a basement. It’s real durable stuff and gosh, today it could look like anything. It could look like hardwood, stone tile, you name it. It’s a good product and it’s a good application for it.

    VIRGINIA: Oh, thank you very much.

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

    Well, the 84th Annual Academy Awards are coming up and while you might not be gracing the red carpet this year, that’s no reason not to enjoy the moment. So, here are a few ideas to get your home Oscar-ready and red-carpet worthy. Just keep these three words in mind: glitz, glamour and luxury. Each of which describes Leslie Segrete.

    LESLIE: Oh, why, thank you, sir.

    Well, crystal and mirrors, they are two huge ways that you can instantly transform your space. Light fixtures dripping in crystal, cut-glass candleholders and reflective surfaces are a surefire way to add that sense of drama to any space.

    Grouping mirrors that are hung in a thoughtful way can add depth to any space and then send that light traveling to make any space seem larger. Oh, wait. Was that just the flash of the paparazzi?

    Now, rich and saturated tones, they can make any room feel like the VIP party. You want to look for deep grays that have a blue or even a purple undertone, plum tones. Even rich browns, they can add glamour. And your fabric should have a luxurious hand to them. You want to think about faux furs, cashmere blends and even silk and velvets.

    You don’t have to go overboard with them, either. It can be as simple as a throw over an ottoman, a table runner or some throw pillows to really create that overall effect.

    TOM: And if your Academy Award makeover project just gets delayed, then just DVR the Academy Awards. You can’t watch them until the project is done.

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

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

    BUD: I’ve got – this house is built probably in ’38 – something like that – and it has a floored attic but with blown-in insulation. I think they’re about 2x6s or 2x8s. But the problem is I’d like to know if I need more insulation up there. And I have one window – a regular-size window – in the gable end.

    TOM: OK.

    BUD: And over the last 48 years, I have closed that thing up entirely in the winter and then put a screen over it, because of an exhaust fan.

    TOM: And your winter just wouldn’t be right if you didn’t close up that vent, Bud.

    BUD: Well, it gets kind of cold, yeah. Well, what I had was a builder told me to put a louvered window in there, so that the fan can take care of the heat, and to leave it open.

    TOM: OK. Because of the ventilation issue. Right. OK.

    BUD: So I’m just wondering what I should – should I go ahead and close it up completely in the winter?

    TOM: Alright. So the attic is an unfinished attic. You use it for storage, correct?

    BUD: Right, right.

    TOM: You have – you think you might have 2×8 ceiling joists and they’re insulated but the flooring is above that, correct?

    BUD: Yes.

    TOM: So, you do not have enough insulation based on current standards. Current standards would be 19 to 22 inches. Are there spaces in that attic floor that you’re not using for storage?

    BUD: No, no.

    TOM: Yeah.

    BUD: It’s a little Cape Cod house; it’s got a small attic.

    TOM: Alright. Well, then, you’re pretty much going to be giving up the opportunity to put additional insulation in there, because you’re using every square inch for storage. I was going to tell you, if you didn’t have storage all over the place, you could lay unfaced fiberglass batts on top of the floor and have them do the job.

    BUD: Oh, OK.

    TOM: But if you have that kind of a storage that sort …

    BUD: Well, maybe I could move everything to one end.

    TOM: Yeah, well that’s what – generally, what we do recommend is that you carve out a space for storage.

    LESLIE: Like one specific storage area.

    TOM: Right. And the rest of it, you can lay fiberglass batts on top of the flooring and see if you can …

    BUD: OK. And what thickness on that?

    TOM: Well, 19 to 22 inches total. So if you’ve got 8 now, I would try to use at least 10 or 12-inch-thick batts and lay them right down, end to end, right on top of the existing floor.

    BUD: Just lay them down?

    TOM: Lay them down.

    Now, in terms of your friend/builder advice, the guy is actually correct, because attics are supposed to be ambient temperature; they’re supposed to be the same temperature as the outside. We don’t insulate them; we try to let a lot of fresh air blow through them. And in doing so, they cart away moisture in the wintertime, which can affect the insulation. Because if your insulation just gets slightly damp, it becomes very ineffective. In fact, if you add 2-percent moisture to insulation, it reduces its effectiveness by about a third.

    BUD: So what am I going to do, though, if it blows in rain and that sort of thing on top of the insulation?

    TOM: Well, if your vent is designed as such where if you don’t cover it, it’s going to get wet, then that’s a problem; then you do need to cover it. But you just need to make sure you have enough ventilation.

    BUD: I do have roof vents.

    TOM: OK. And do you have any evidence of condensation on the underside of the roof sheathing? Do you ever see rusty nail tips or anything like that?

    BUD: None. No.

    TOM: Well, if you’re not getting any condensation, then you might just have enough ventilation with the way it’s configured right now. But the guy is technically correct, because you don’t want to close-in vents.

    BUD: OK.

    TOM: Alright?

    BUD: Well, we’ll go from there.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Bud, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, this is the time of year when cabin fever sets in for many of us. So we’re going to tell you how to add some brightness to make your winter cave a bit more livable, 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: And are you ready to get your shop on? President’s Day sales offer some of the best bargains on electronics and those big-ticket items. We have some tips on how you can get the most out of those sales. It is online at MoneyPit.com. Just Google “money pit President’s Day sales ideas” to learn how to save a lot of money at the stores.

    LESLIE: Hey and while you’re at it, why not post a question, just like Russ did who wrote: “I have a master bedroom area, 5×11, that I’m looking to remodel. I will likely be replacing all the drywall in order to eliminate five layers of existing wallpaper.” Man. “The bathroom gets quite cold. Three of the four walls are outside walls and I’m wondering if I should apply spray-foam insulation to better seal up the room. If so, is that something I can do myself, since the square footage is rather small?”

    TOM: You know, it’s an interesting question. First of all, spray-foam insulation is a really good idea for any remodeling project. But since it’s professionally installed, it probably is cost-prohibitive to use it when you only have a few walls to do.

    That said, there are different formulations of spray-foam insulation. Icynene, for example, has one that could be sprayed in an open cavity. But they also have a different formulation that can be added to an enclosed cavity. So, if sealing up those exterior walls is a project that you’ve been thinking about doing, Russ, this might be the time to do it.

    Now, short of that, I would say that while you have it open, it, of course, is a good idea to insulate the entire area. What you can do is with the sort of over-the-counter spray-foam insulation, you seal all of the joints and the gaps and the framing along the exterior wall, because that actually will sort of draft-proof the area a little bit. And then you can go with fiberglass batts in the wall cavities as you may have had originally.

    But certainly, doing insulation for the entire space right now is a very good option. And Icynene is a product that you should consider for that.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Russ? Since you’re remodeling the bathroom and you say it gets pretty cold, because the bathroom is a small space, it really is a great application for radiant heat.

    Now, you can zone into your existing heat system if you’ve got hot water. Or you can even go with a smaller electrical option, depending on what state of remodel and how much you plan on spending and what you’re working on. But nothing feels better than a nice, warm tile when you’re stepping out of the tub or shower. It really does a great job of adding extra warmth to that space and I think you’re going to notice a big difference.

    TOM: Well, the long, dark days of winter tend to give project-loving homeowners the blues. But you don’t have to wait for spring to add a little cheer. A few dollar-wise home improvement projects can definitely spruce up your home and your spirits. Leslie has some tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, this may sound obvious but turn on some lights. This could be a great time to add some lamps or sconces to your home. Adding warm light throughout your home really makes a huge difference. And think about planting an indoor garden. You can plant colorful flowers or something edible to remind you of spring.

    And I always like to pay special attention to front doors. They can be a great welcome for you when you’ve been out in the dreariness. If you’re not going to paint or get a new door, just polish that hardware.

    And you can also get a new, inexpensive doormat and boost your lighting on the front porch to the maximum wattage allowed by the fixture. And that should make you feel a lot cozier as you hibernate this winter away.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, are you noticing small cracks in your walls that seem to be getting bigger and bigger and bigger? That happens a lot in the winter. We’re going to have some tips to help you fix those cracks once and for all. It’s not as hard as you might think. We’ll tell you how, 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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