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Take Holiday Entertaining Up a Few Notches, Make Your Home Senior-Friendly, and Never Worry About an Open Garage Door Again

  • 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: Here to help you with your home improvement project. Let us help solve the do-it-yourself dilemma in your life. What’s going on in your house? Do you want to fix it up? Are you getting ready to move? Maybe you want to put it in good shape before you do that. Maybe you’re expecting a horde of guests across the holidays and want to do a last-minute improvement. Whatever is on your home improvement to-do list, put it on ours. Pick up the phone, we’ll talk you through it, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s program, are you planning a holiday gathering? Do you feel like perhaps you’re throwing the same old holiday party every year? Well, you can kick that déjà vu feeling to the curb. We’ve got ideas for gatherings your guests will remember for years to come. And none of them will cost you more than a few bucks.

    LESLIE: And are you planning to stay in your home through your senior years or maybe you just want to make it easier and safer to navigate? From grab bars to easy-to-turn handles, we’re going to have simple ways to increase safety and accessibility throughout your home.

    TOM: And has this ever happened to you: you left home and wondered if your garage door was left open? Well, you’ll never do that again. We’re pretty excited about a new, easy-to-use product that lets you not only check your garage door status but you can open and close it from any location. We’ll tell you about that.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I need one that will tell me if I left my oven on. Because regardless if I’ve used my oven or not, as soon as I go to drive away for a vacation I’m like, “I left the oven on. I have to go back and look.”

    TOM: That’s a great point. We need appliances that all have their own iPhone app.

    LESLIE: Exactly. Let’s get on this.

    TOM: Right? Is the dish – are the clothes done? Is the dishwasher done? I mean I know that – my son goes to college and they have an app that tells them when their laundry is done, because it’s in a building either across from the dorm or down the hall.

    LESLIE: That’s genius.

    TOM: We should have that for our own house.

    LESLIE: Alright. Let’s get working on that. Patent pending, patent pending.

    Alright, guys. This hour, we’re giving away a Stanley FatMax Prize Pack and it features the Premium Box-Beam Level. It could make a great gift if you don’t feel like keeping it for yourself.

    And you can also check out more gift ideas with our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide, which is presented by Stanley Tools at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: And the Stanley FatMax Prize Pack includes seven different Stanley FatMax products with a total value of $170. And that’s going out to one caller who picks up the phone and calls us with their home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Rob in Washington is on the line and is dealing with some flooding. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROB: Well, I own a 1-acre lot and I’m surrounded by 58 acres of green belt. And my house sits up in the front of the lot and I have a cement driveway that runs down into a 1200-square-foot shop. And every time it rains it here in Seattle, which is every other day …

    TOM: Yeah, frequently.

    ROB: And at Daylight Saving, we get an extra hour of rain. But I get – my shop floods and I need to know what kind of drain system I can put in in front of my shop. The cement is maybe 14, 16 feet wide.

    TOM: So basically, Rob, what is happening is the water is running down the cement driveway and into the shop. Is that the main source of the water? What you need to do is to put a culvert across the driveway.

    So the way that works is you, essentially, cut the driveway in half; you slice out a gap in the driveway. And it might be 8 or 12 inches wide.

    ROB: How close to the shop though?

    TOM: I would go probably a few feet in front of it. I wouldn’t go too far away.

    ROB: OK.

    TOM: Because that just gives you more water – more sidewalk to collect sort of in front of it. So I would go fairly close to it. And then you basically cut the driveway in half and you drop this culvert in, which is sort of like a U-shaped channel. And then on the opposite end of it, it’s attached to a drain line, which would go to a curtain drain.

    So the water would go down the garage, it would fall into this culvert. And you can buy these or order these at building-material supply centers that service masons. And people that do more commercial-type work can be able to find these premade. And the drain tile -the drainpipe – will connect to the culvert so the water would go out to this drain line and then you go into a curtain drain.

    So the curtain drain you’d make yourself. And again, on the downside of the property, you’d curve out an area about 12-18 inches wide and deep, fill it with stone, lay the drainpipe in there, cover it with more stone, put some filter cloth and then some topsoil or whatever you’re going to cover it with.

    So, essentially, the drainage for this is invisible once it’s done but you’re intercepting that runoff down the driveway and running it around the building and into the drain tile. And that pipe that you install there must be perforated. And I would recommend using solid-PVC perforated pipe, not the flexible, black, landscaping perforated pipe.

    ROB: OK. Thank you, guys.

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

    LESLIE: OK. Now Mary in New Jersey is on the line and she has a question about a pine tree and her grass – why it won’t grow.

    What’s going on, Mary?

    MARY: Our house is 28 years of age. And then behind our porch in the property, we have three pine trees which have gotten very, very large. Now, to remove them now would cost us about $3,000-$4,000. We have a problem with the pine needles falling down on the grass area between the porch and the trees. With this type of falling of the pine needles, we’re having a very bad problem trying to grow grass in this area. And we wondered if there was any other solution to our problem.

    TOM: Well, the problem with the failure to grow grass is because you’ve got all this shade from the pine trees. So, if you don’t have enough light in there, you’re not going to be able to grow grass. I mean you can get a grass seed that’s designed for shade but it’s never going to be as vibrant as a lawn that’s fully exposed.

    One thing that you could try is you could try thinning out the pine trees by strategically not cutting them down but thinning them out so you let a little more light go through them. But you’re never going to get a full, thick lawn under deep shade like that.

    MARY: Well, that’s a good suggestion. We’ll see how we can work out with that.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Holy moly, it is less than a month to the big holiday. What are you working on? What do you have to get done with the clock ticking until those big hordes of family members are going to start to arrive? We can help you. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’ve already done all my holiday shopping, so we’re available. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    You did that shopping already? Really?

    LESLIE: I finished in August. Don’t ask.

    TOM: Crazy.

    Hey, are your holiday parties starting to feel like a case of déjà vu? Well, a few simple steps can break up the monotony and have you hosting an event your guests will never forget. We’ve got money-saving holiday-party tips, after this.

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    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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question, your home décor dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller who does just that might win a Stanley FatMax Prize Pack, including the Premium Box-Beam Level. It’s got three vials for increased accuracy. The center vial is magnified so you can see it better.

    LESLIE: The Stanley FatMax Premium Box-Beam Level is just one of the many products that are featured on our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide, which is presented by Stanley Tools.

    Check it out; it’s right there for you at MoneyPit.com. We’ve got great gift ideas there. But one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a FatMax Prize Pack, which includes the Premium Box-Beam Level.

    TOM: It’s worth $170. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Wade in South Dakota is on the line and has a question about siding. How can we help you?

    WADE: Hi. We had a big hailstorm come through and it took out a bunch of our siding – our steel siding. And I’m kind of fighting with the insurance company to find an exact match. My question, I guess, is – the house is close to 20 years old. What are the chances that the siding that they pick is going to match up with the color?

    TOM: Between little and none.

    WADE: That’s kind of what I figured.

    TOM: And listen, Wade, when – this is not a new argument with insurance companies. It happens all the time with roof damage, you know?

    Like say you get ice-dam damage and you have to just replace like 3 feet of roof on the front of the house or maybe you get leaks around a vent or something and you have to replace a piece of roof. Insurance companies traditionally replace the entire roof. And in your case, they should be replacing all of your siding, without argument, because they’ve got to restore it at least as good as it was before. And giving you mismatched siding isn’t what you contracted them to do.

    So I would stick to your guns. And sure, give them the opportunity to find a replacement but they won’t be able to. And you don’t have to accept it and you can insist that it all be replaced with brand-new siding.

    Do you have a private adjustor on this to help you with the claim?

    WADE: Somebody that the insurance company contacted, yes.

    TOM: That adjustor is working for the insurance company. What you want to do is get a public adjustor. And a public adjustor works for you, the public. And they work on commission, so it doesn’t really cost you much to have these guys on the job. And they’re there to find every single, solitary thing that they can claim for and get that into the claim.

    So, everything from picking up the nails on your property that will be part of that construction project, to getting the whole house re-sided. They try to get that claim as full as possible because the more they find, the more money they make. Because they’re all on commission.

    So I would definitely find a good-quality public adjustor; perhaps check with your attorney. Do your research, find somebody that has a lot of experience and let them fight for you so you don’t have to fight with the insurance company.

    WADE: Great. I’ll definitely look into that. Thank you.

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

    Well, from shopping the menu to cleaning and decorating, holiday entertaining is a lot of work. And whether you’re throwing an intimate dinner or an all-out bash, there’s always so much prep to do, so it’s easy to run out of steam or money before adding those memorable touches. But making your party stand out among the rest doesn’t have to be an expensive undertaking.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you’ve got to start by taking a good look around your house. Now, do you have rooms that have the flow that’s required for successful entertaining? You might want to rearrange your furniture into groups, for example. This way, you’re going to create smaller gathering areas if you’re having a large party.

    Or you can actually move all of your furniture to the perimeter of the room. Maybe you want to have a dance floor, give you more floor space. And you need, really, to make sure that there’s plenty of seating and places for people to put down their snacks and cocktails.

    TOM: And are your decorations feeling old and tired? Well, for real impact, consider holiday palates that push past the obvious red and green, like maybe going with an all-white color scheme.

    And for a real budget-conscious approach, think in advance. Buy decorations when they’re on sale after the holidays and wait until next year to debut the new, festive look.

    LESLIE: And for all the work that you put into the meal, make sure that your guests have space to enjoy it. Rather than crowd your dining table with just those added chairs and card tables, why not host a more casual buffet? You can add some tall bistro tables; that’s a great option. There’s really inexpensive ways that you can rent or really come up with an unusual experience for your guests. So don’t be afraid to rent some things; it’ll make a huge difference.

    TOM: Great advice. 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Ann in Georgia, you are on the line with The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ANN: Well, my house was built back in the 60s and I know now when they put up drywall, they use drywall screws.

    TOM: Yep.

    ANN: But back then, they used a hammer.

    TOM: Yep. And nails, mm-hmm.

    ANN: And I’ve got these dings on the walls and the ceiling. And I’ve tried to put spackle over the top of them and scrape it off and sand it and then paint it and there they are; they come right back again. Is there anything I can do to sort of cover it or do I have to take down all the drywall?

    LESLIE: No, no. Are you sure it’s a hammer ding and not a nail pop? Does it seem like it’s raised or does it seem like it’s recessed?

    ANN: They’re recessed.

    TOM: They’re recessed. OK.

    So, the solution here is spackling but it’s not just a one-shot thing. What you want to do is put multiple coats of spackle on, Ann. So you start – and you can go out to a home center or a hardware store and you can buy plastic spackle knives that are basically disposable.

    So you start out with one that’s about 2 inches, then you go to one that’s about 4 or 5 inches, then you go with one that’s like 6- or 8-inches wide. And if you put on three layers like that, you’ll fill it in, it’ll be absolutely flat.

    But you can’t just stop there. If you’re going to start doing this around the house, you’re going to have to repaint all of those surfaces and you should prime them first. Because if not, you’re going to get different absorption between the areas that were newly spackled and the old ones. And that will result in sort of like a weird kind of glazing or sort of shade difference with the way the paint kind of takes.

    ANN: Oh, OK.

    TOM: Alright? Now, if you have one that looks like it’s cracked – what Leslie was talking about are called “nail pops” – and frankly, that’s much more likely than the dents you’re describing, unless you just happen to have a really over-aggressive guy with a hammer that put that thing together back in the 60s.

    LESLIE: Those dents are haunting you 50 years later.

    ANN: I know.

    TOM: Yeah. The nail pops, you could put another nail next to the one that’s sort of stuck out and drive it in. And that – the second nail will hold in the first nail. But remember, it’s really key that you sand, prime and paint to make this all go away.

    And lastly, the type of paint you use is critical. Make sure you use flat paint; do not use anything with a sheen. Because when you put something with a sheen on a wall, any defect in the wall becomes magnified when the light hits it.

    ANN: Well, that’s great advice.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Eddie in Delaware on the line who is dealing with a moisture situation going on. Tell us about it.

    EDDIE: I’m having a moisture problem with two out of the three bathrooms. It’s a three-bathroom home. And each bathroom has an inline exhaust fan. And this occurred last season – last winter season – and we got a really severe winter and we’re getting a lot of condensation.

    I have dampers in two of the bathrooms, at the ceiling. And last season – the last winter season – I installed an additional damper after the exhaust fan – after the inline fan in the ceiling – and I was still getting a lot of moisture, actually, at the ceiling where the sheetrock was actually falling apart. That’s how much moisture we got.

    TOM: OK. First of all, right above this space, is there an attic? What’s above it?

    EDDIE: Yeah. It’s an attic, yeah.

    TOM: Alright. And how much insulation do you have in that attic?

    EDDIE: The home is only eight years old.

    TOM: So, first of all, bathrooms are sources of warm, moist air. If the temperature of the drywall is chilly, it’s going to condense and cause condensation. So you want to make sure that the attic above it, that you’ve got at least 15-20 inches of insulation in there. That’s really important.

    EDDIE: Oh, there is. There definitely is. And what I also did was, when I started having this problem I replaced the flexible ductwork, which was originally R6, to the maximum of R8. And I’m still getting the problem. And these two bathrooms that I’m having the problem, they are not used for showers or bathing of any sort.

    TOM: The second thing I want to suggest to you is – you mentioned that you have exhaust fans in two of the three?

    EDDIE: No, no. All three have their own individual, inline exhaust fans, yes.

    TOM: OK. So inline – in other words, it’s ducted out somewhere? They’re all connected together and ducted out at once, at one point?

    EDDIE: No, no. They’re not connected together; they’re all different.

    TOM: They all vent on their own out the building?

    EDDIE: Yes.

    TOM: And you can confirm that the vents are working? So if you turn the fan on, you go outside, you’ll see the flapper?

    EDDIE: Yes.

    TOM: So, hooking them up to a humidistat/timer might not be a bad idea. Because this way, when the humidity gets high in the room it’ll automatically come on. Leviton makes such a switch, designed specifically for bath fans. And I think that might be the next step. I think we need to move more air through these rooms.

    The second thing is, what’s underneath the bathrooms? Are these on the second floor or first floor? Are they over a slab?

    EDDIE: It’s a ranch home.

    TOM: And what’s underneath?

    EDDIE: A crawlspace.

    TOM: Crawlspace? OK. Does the crawlspace have a high humidity problem?

    EDDIE: No.

    TOM: I would recommend that you replace that existing fan switch with a humidistatically-controlled fan switch.

    EDDIE: Yeah, OK. I’ll try.

    TOM: Eddie, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Coming up, 8 out of 10 45-year-olds plan to stay in their houses as long as they can. From extra lighting to easy-to-turn doorknobs, This Old House host Kevin O’Connor is joining us with tips on making your house safer and easier to navigate as we all get old, next.

    TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is presented by Bostitch Mechanics Tools, delivering the rugged reliability you’ve come to expect from Bostitch. Designed for the professional, built to last.

    LESLIE: And by The Home Depot, featuring Delta Temp2O hand showers and showerheads with technology which is going to tell you the water temperature before you get in the shower or tub. The perfect holiday gift, available exclusively at The Home Depot.

    TOM: We’ll be back with more, after this.

    KEVIN: This is Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House, the longest-running home improvement show. And I want to send out a big congrats to Tom and Leslie for the most downloaded home improvement podcast on iTunes. Well done, guys.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety and convenience, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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: And if you like listening to The Money Pit, like on us Facebook, too. Because if you do, you’ll be online for more tips, more prizes and even some behind-the-scenes moments. Just head to Facebook.com/MoneyPit and click Like.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s never been more important to make your home accessible. Rather than moving from place to place for each stage of senior life, Americans are staying in their homes longer instead of retiring to places like Arizona or Florida for those so-called “golden years.”

    TOM: And accessibility isn’t just important for older Americans. Whether your family is young or old, making life easier at home always makes sense. Here with some simple ways that you can make your home easier and safer to live in is Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House.

    Hi, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be back.

    TOM: So this idea of “aging in place,” is really gaining popularity.

    KEVIN: Oh, boy, it really is. Get a load of this fact: the AARP did a survey and they found out that 8 out of 10 people aged 45 plan to stay in their homes as long as possible. I mean that says it right there, right? We want to stay in our houses; we don’t want to have to go somewhere else. And to do that, you’re going to have to – well, you might to make some changes and you’re going to have to use some forethought.

    So, there are – well, there’s a long list of things that you can do. And I think of them in three different categories: the small changes, the medium changes and the big changes. The small changes, we’re all familiar with: things like rocker switches for lights. You can use a side of your palm or the back of your hand if you had to, to turn the lights on or off. Lever handles for doors instead of knobs. If you’re arthritic, you don’t actually have to get your fingers and your knuckles around those things again. You can paddle them down, up or down, which is great.

    TOM: Or even if you come home with your hands full of children or groceries.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Or both.

    TOM: Right. Or both.

    KEVIN: Who hasn’t done that? Right. Who hasn’t opened the door with their elbow? Because my son won’t open the door for me. But we’ll talk about that later.

    Another thing to think about is task lighting. More is better. Our eyesight is going to fade, light is going to help us yet and use the house in a better way. And so that’s important. There are things called C- or D-shape handles. You can put those on drawers and cabinets instead of little knobs. Basically, a bigger surface, easier surface to grab so that you can open those things.

    Think about this: in the shower, you should have a handheld showerhead so that you can actually operate that shower while you’re sitting on the bench. And before you need it, it’s a good thing to wash the kids and the pets with.

    LESLIE: Well, it was the only way I could get Henry to take a shower by himself – was to get a handheld shower. It’s kind of amazing how, you know, they say you’re an adult once and a kid twice.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: It’s like there’s this parallel. You can see that all of the things that work well for seniors work amazingly excellent for those under seven.

    KEVIN: We’ve worked with a couple of specialists. It was a lot of different names for this: universal design, all these different things. This one particular person, she calls it “human design,” because it’s true.

    TOM: Yeah, it makes sense.

    KEVIN: We’re going to be using it as little kids, we’re going to be using it as adults but then we’re going to be using it as elderly folks, as well. So it works for lots of different people if you do all of these changes.

    TOM: So those are easy changes. What about ones that maybe take a little bit more effort but you do them if you really need them?

    KEVIN: So stairs are a big hurdle for lots of folks.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: But when we can still get up and down the stairs, having good railings on both sides of the staircase so that we can grab onto them, use them, that’s a great idea. And not just the stairs inside: stairs indoors and out.

    Grab bars in bathrooms, same idea. You want to be able to put your hand and get a good hold on something, prevent from slipping. And the great news is, boy, there’s lots of decorative options out there. These things look fantastic. I saw two of them recently. One of them was a soap dish. You had no idea this thing was a grab bar.

    LESLIE: Really?

    KEVIN: But sure enough, it was a soap dish in the corner that was secure and a nice grab bar. And a toilet paper holder that was a grab bar, as well, if you need assistance lifting up or getting down. So, they’re out there; there’s lots of good choices. And that’s a good thing for folks.

    TOM: You know, that’s a great point. Because instead of making folks reach for a grab bar, what happens when you’re on the toilet or you’re in the shower, you reach for every sort of surface that you can grab to that’s convenient. And that might be the toilet paper holder and it might be the soap dish, so why not make them strong enough to actually be a grab bar?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And nobody wants to admit that you need that assistance.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: So if it’s something else that serves a different function but is still strong, you’re more apt to have it.

    KEVIN: Well, if it looks good, you’re definitely more apt to have it, absolutely. You don’t want these places that – you want your house to feel institutional.

    LESLIE: No, you don’t.

    KEVIN: No, definitely not. Other things, just quickly, in the medium changes would be replacing traditional faucets with motion-sensor or touch-sense faucets. Think about pull-down shelving in closets or kitchen cabinets, where you can actually lower the shelf so that you can get to the things that are on it. Drawers and shelves on lower cabinets to minimize the bending and having to look down in the cabinets that are often difficult to get to and dark. Those all sort of fall into the medium changes for me.

    TOM: Those are all pretty simple, measurable and don’t take a lot of time to do a project like that. But if we’re talking about, say, remodeling-sized projects that are going to make a home more accessible, what are some of the top choices that can really improve the safety and security of a home?

    KEVIN: Well, whether we like it or not, there’s always a chance that someone is going to be in a wheelchair or some sort of a chair. So, think about things – well, the bathroom. We use that a lot. Think about a sink vanity where you can roll a wheelchair under or even just have a regular stool or chair so that you can work at that vanity while you are sitting down. That can be a huge help.

    Zero-threshold entries where there is no curb. So now we want to get in or out of the shower stall. Well, if there’s no curb, we can wheel ourselves in but it also means that there’s no trip point. So that’s a really good thing. Definitely something you want to think about if you’re ever redoing a bathroom. Even if you don’t need it at this time, that’s the time to think about it.

    Now, at some point, the stairs may become a problem. We may not be able to navigate our way up them. And people might be thinking, “Oh, boy. That means I’ve got to put an elevator in the house.” Well, that can take up a lot of space and that could be expensive, so a good alternative is a stair lift. You can actually install it to an existing staircase. It’s a lot less expensive than an elevator, takes up a lot less space and it will help you navigate up and down those stairs. So now you can use your entire house: the up and the downstairs.

    In the kitchen, think about the varying heights of countertops so that there’s space where you might have to roll underneath one counter. Or put a microwave. Instead of putting it up high, put it down low. Make it a drawer microwave so that you’re not reaching up for it. They make dishwashers with two small drawers that might reduce the amount of bending that you have to do.

    Another simple idea – something that a lot of people already have – is the pot filler, the one over the stove. It just saves you from having to carry a pot with two or three gallons of water from the sink to the stove. It’s all right there.

    TOM: That makes sense because water is very, very heavy.

    KEVIN: It is.

    TOM: Now, those are great ideas mostly for inside the house but what about outside? Any tips for there?

    KEVIN: Well, we want to get to the outside, right? I don’t think people want to forgo their outdoor space, because it is part of the house, right? We work so hard to make that outdoor space places that we can live and enjoy. So if you can get to it because there is zero clearance – there’s no curb or no step up – or even maybe a little ramp, that would be a great way to make sure that we can still use decks and patios. So wherever you can, think about getting rid of those thresholds. And if you have to, put little ramps in so that you can move from those spaces back and forth.

    TOM: Or maybe even creating a zero threshold so that, really, you don’t have to step up or step down. Just sort of roll over the threshold and you’re there.

    KEVIN: One more thing. In the gardening and landscaping, Roger Cook, our landscape expert, worked with a homeowner. And all of the beds that he put in were for a gentleman who was in a chair. They were all raised beds, brought up to his level.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s nice.

    TOM: Ah. Makes sense.

    KEVIN: He could still do his gardening. No problem at all.

    TOM: Great advice. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Always a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

    LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade. Up next, have you ever left home wondering if the garage door was left open? Well, never worry again. We’ve got a new smartphone solution, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, this hour we’ve got a great prize up for grabs. We’re giving away a seven-piece Stanley FatMax Prize Pack and it’s worth 170 bucks. Now, in it you’re going to find a Premium Box-Beam Level. It’s got three vials, so you’ll get excellent accuracy. It’s got removable endcaps and a rafter hook so you can keep it within easy reach. Now, the FatMax Premium Box-Beam Level is a great gift for any do-it-yourselfer or pro.

    TOM: It’s one of the many great gift ideas you’ll find in our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide at MoneyPit.com, presented by Stanley Tools. But you won’t need to wait for the holidays to win. We’re giving away the Stanley FatMax Prize Pack, which includes seven different Stanley FatMax products worth $170, this hour. So give us a call. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, have you ever pulled away from your home and wondered if your garage door was left open or maybe the kids that, like most, tend to take things out of the garage and never put them away and close the door?

    LESLIE: Yeah. Well, there’s stuff in the garage to worry about, of course. But even more, so many people leave the door between their garage and their house unlocked, which means their house is frighteningly accessible when your garage door is up.

    TOM: Well, eliminating that worry has never been easier or more affordable thanks to a new product called the Chamberlain MyQ Garage Smartphone Controller.

    Now, it’s an easy-to-install wireless sensor that you attach to your garage door. Then you just connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi, download the free Chamberlain MyQ Home Control app and now you have the ability to check the status of your garage door from any place at any time. And it works on most modern garage-door openers.

    LESLIE: And not only can you check it but you can actually open and close your garage door remotely, too. So, whether you’re across the street or across the globe, you can do it all from your smartphone.

    Now, the garage-door sensor also works like an extra set of eyes. It will warn anyone inside the garage when the door is closing. And it can be connected to the door’s safety sensors to keep it from dropping down if there’s something in its path.

    TOM: It retails for just 129.99 and it can be installed in minutes. Learn more about MyQ Garage at Chamberlain.com.

    LESLIE: Mark in South Carolina is on the line with a showerhead question. What can we do for you?

    MARK: Yes. My wife has been after me for several years. She said that the pressure coming out of our shower nozzle just can’t get the shampoo out of her hair. And I put four different shower nozzles on there. I had a plumber that actually went out to the line out at the street, where we tapped into the line, and they’re all saying there’s nothing I can do. Do you have any suggestions for me?

    TOM: Mark, do you have hard water?

    MARK: I don’t know. How do you know if you have hard water?

    TOM: Because if you have hard water, that’s exactly what it would feel like: it would feel like you can’t get your …

    LESLIE: It makes it feel like you can’t get the shampoo or the soap off.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Do you have well water or do you have city water?

    MARK: City water.

    TOM: Are there any other showers in the house that she uses and seems to work fine?

    MARK: No. She went to the other shower and said that didn’t work either. So I kept changing out the shower nozzles. Nothing seems to work.

    TOM: Yeah, you might want to get a water test done, because that’s exactly the symptom of a hard-water problem that you described.

    MARK: Hard water. OK.

    TOM: Yeah. And then you could – there’s a number of ways that you could put water softeners in and that will make that go away.

    Now, in terms of the showerhead itself, yeah, the newer, water-efficient showerheads, there are some folks that complain about not having enough water in there.

    MARK: Yeah.

    TOM: But I will say that the better ones seem to have engineered that out.

    Like, for example, I know Moen has a couple of different ones that are available, that have multiple settings. And they’ve engineered these so that you get a good spread of water across the showerhead but you still have the water savings.

    MARK: OK. Moen. Got that.

    TOM: Yeah. Check the hardware out. Then take a look at the better showerheads, like the ones by Moen. Those are really terrific. And I’ve got one, actually, in a shower upstairs that’s like a rain shower, kind of wide head. And it works great.

    MARK: Well, that’s a good suggestion. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you baffled by roof leaks that just show up on the first floor of your two- or three-story home? Well, we’ll help explain how they got there and what you can do to fix them, coming up.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: OK. So, how many times have you stepped into a freezing-cold or boiling-hot shower? We like to call that “shower shock” and it can be a real problem. Delta has created the Temp2O line of showerheads and hand showers. And these fixtures come with an LED display of the exact water temperatures. So, no more shower shock.

    The way it works is that there’s a color-coded display with three indicators: blue, magenta and red. So, with a quick visual check, it’s easy to know what you’re stepping into and it’s just perfect for kids or seniors.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s also really simple to install and it’s going to fit any standard, showered arm. So, that really works well because you know it’s going to fit in your shower situation. The Temp2O is powered by water, so you don’t have to worry about batteries to mess with and it’s WaterSense-labeled. Now, that’s the EPA’s designation for water-saving features.

    It makes a great gift and it’s available exclusively at The Home Depot. And you can check it out in our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide.

    Now, while you’re online, post a question in our Community section. And I have one here that reads: “Today, during a heavy rain I discovered a leak: a steady drip of water coming from the first-floor powder-room ceiling. It only lasted about 20 minutes despite the fact that the rain continued for another hour, which I thought was unusual. Any advice for figuring out how rain made its way into the first floor of our two-story home?”

    TOM: Well, first of all, I can assure you that neither Leslie nor I have ever seen your two-story home, nor have we been in your powder room. Despite that, we can tell you exactly why this happened, because it’s really not that unusual.

    First of all, to your first question, why did it only leak for 20 minutes and then stop? Many roof leaks are directional in nature. In other words, when the rain blows from a certain direction, it pushes up into a void and finds its way into the building. As the rain changes direction, as the wind decreases in pressure, the leak stops. So that’s probably why it was only a temporary leak.

    But why did it end up – how did it end up going from your two-story roof to your first-story powder room? That is an easy one, because there’s a pipe that connects those two. It’s the vent pipe for the sewer system and for all the plumbing, frankly, that’s in that space. That pipe has to go up from the powder room, through the floor, through the attic, through the roof so that air can exhaust to the atmosphere and fresh air can be pulled into the system, depending on which way the water is flowing. Sewage gases out, fresh air in.

    Now, where that plumbing vent comes through the roof, there’s a piece of flashing simply called a “plumbing-vent flashing.” That plumbing-vent flashing has a rubber ring around it that will often crack and deteriorate and break down. And water will get in between that rubber gasket in the pipe and then it will follow that pipe all the way back through the attic, back through the first floor and into your powder-room ceiling. So, I would predict that the solution here is to get up on the roof and replace the plumbing-vent flashing and I think that will make the problem go away, once and for all.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, leaks can be tricky to diagnose. But in this case, your bathroom has got a pipe that goes directly to the roof, so that kind of gives us an indicator of where that’s coming from.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We know you’re out there and about shopping busily for the holiday season. If you’ve got home improvement questions because, perhaps, one of those projects on your to-do list is to get your house fixed up for the guests that are on their way, remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or better yet, post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/MoneyPit. 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 2014 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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