Bathtub Makeovers & More #0213172
00:00/ 00:00

Bathtub Makeovers & More #0213172

  • bathroom tile toilet bathtub_small_shutterstock_88884151
  • 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: And we are here to help you take on your home improvement projects and get them done. What is on your to-do list? You know, spring – it’s spring home improvement season just a few short weeks away. I always want to rush that but it really is just a few short weeks away. And it’s the time of year when people really do get busy with those projects.

    So if you’re thinking about an outdoor project, maybe you’re going to improve your outdoor living space with a patio or a deck addition. Maybe you’re thinking of some indoor improvements. Maybe it’s time for a new kitchen or a new bathroom remodel. Give us a call right now. Let’s talk about what you’d like to get done in your house. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And speaking of bathrooms, bathtubs are one plumbing fixture that can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, their finish will not. But the good news is that you don’t have to get rid of the whole tub just because the finish is worn out. We’re going to have some tips with some options for restoration, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, every year, dozens of dangerous products are pulled from store shelves. But getting the word out about them is the tricky part. We’ve got some tips to make sure you know when a product in your home may be unsafe.

    TOM: And a simple storage mistake has some houses going up in flames. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to stay safe. But first, let’s get to your calls, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Kim in Missouri is on the line and has a question about a countertop. What can we do for you today?

    KIM: Earlier this year, I remodeled my bathroom and I had a new vanity put in and I had a black – it came in a black granite countertop. The kind that’s shiny.

    TOM: Yep.

    KIM: And for some reason, one of the handles – it’s a faucet – it almost looks like a hard-water stain or a hard-water deposit. I can’t get it off. It almost has a rough feeling. Nowhere else on the countertop looks like that. I’ve tried everything and I’m afraid I ruined it. But do you have any suggestions for me?

    TOM: I wonder if it’s a manufacturing defect, Leslie.

    LESLIE: I mean it very well could be. So tell us, where is this exactly?

    KIM: It’s basically around the right faucet – the base of the right faucet. And the right handle and the base of the faucet. And I’ve tried all the things they recommend. I bought it at a big-box store.

    TOM: OK.

    KIM: And I’ve tried all the things they recommend there. And I’ve tried – I haven’t tried anything abrasive at all. And the rest of the counter looks fine but those two areas just won’t come off.

    TOM: So you’re thinking that this is something that’s staining this particular surface, as opposed to just a defect in the original material. Is that correct?

    KIM: Yes, I’m thinking is it because I don’t remember seeing it when they first installed it. But within a week or two after I saw that. But it almost looks like a hard-water stain around them.

    LESLIE: Have you tried white vinegar?

    KIM: Yes.

    LESLIE: You did, OK. Because that’s usually – if it’s a hard-water stain or some sort of mineral in the water, that’s going to be the trick.

    KIM: And I’m really afraid to try a lot of things because they said you can damage the granite if you use the wrong cleaner.

    TOM: Now, you mentioned this was installed. Have you thought about contacting the original installers or the company that you worked with for it? Because they may have access to some products that you don’t. And it sounds like you tried all the basic, over-the-counter-type approaches here that you might need a professional come in and fix this up for you.

    KIM: OK. I could try that. I went to the original big-box store and I went to the departments that – where I purchased this that.

    The people who did my bathroom said, “What did you clean this with?” And they showed me that but that didn’t seem to work. And they’ve even – I even read an article that you should use something like Ivory on it with a non-abrasive cloth. I’ve tried that but like I said, it looks good when it’s wet but when it dries, it still comes back.

    TOM: Yeah. What it might be that – you may have worn off some of the finish. And once you do that, then stains get into the stone itself. So, I suspect that this is going to be something you’re going to need some professional help with.

    So I wouldn’t – even if it’s not the store you bought it from, there are going to be companies out there that specialize in granite cleaning and polishing, because everyone that has these types of surfaces in their home – I think when you originally buy it, you think, “Well, it’s natural material. I’m never going to have to do anything with it.” But the truth is they often need to be repolished and resealed from time to time to keep looking good.

    And so that’s, I think, what I would do at this point since you’ve tried all the basics that you can try. I would just get a professional in to refinish this for you.

    KIM: Oh, thank you so much. Because I said I was just afraid I had ruined the whole countertop for this one little area.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, you could if you keep going. That’s why I think you’ve tried everything that is reasonable for you to try. And I would get online to a site, like, and find a professional in your particular area. Read the reviews, find somebody that sounds good and give them a shot.

    KIM: I had no idea where to go. Thank you. I will try that so much.

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

    LESLIE: Adam in Wisconsin is on the line with a radon question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    ADAM: I did a radon test in my basement. Adjusted for getting the mitigation in place.

    TOM: What was the level, Adam, that came out of the test?

    ADAM: It was 4.6.

    TOM: OK. So it’s just above the guideline, because the guideline’s 4.0. OK, go ahead.

    ADAM: So, I was wondering before getting the mitigation system installed by a professional if there was anything that can be done to help mitigate it without, you know, paying the higher price of getting a professional to do it.

    TOM: OK. Well, first of all, you were just over the guideline. One thing that you should know is that the radon levels are going to swing across the year, depending on the season. Typically, in the winter, when the house is really sealed up tight as a drum, your levels are going to be seasonally high compared to the summer when we tend to let a lot more air into the house, which will push it down below the action guideline, which is 4.0 picocuries per liter of air.

    Now, in terms of a do-it-yourself sort of radon-mitigation system, it’s kind of a hard thing to do. Because what happens when you do a mitigation system is you set up a system that essentially pulls the gas off of the soil before it gets into the house air. Do you have a traditional basement kind of a house? What’s your home look like?

    ADAM: Yeah, it’s a traditional basement. It actually has a palmer-valve drain that goes underneath the house. So, one thing I looked at was a Dranjer drain that would allow water out this essential drain but keep the gas down.

    TOM: That would seal. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Right.

    Now, do you have a French drain around the inside perimeter of the foundation wall, where there’s a gap between the basement floor and the wall?

    ADAM: Yes, I also have a French drain.

    TOM: So, what a mitigation company would do is they would seal that French drain up the bottom of it to kind of seal off the gas with a flowable urethane sealant. They would seal off the sump if that was accessible. Then they would install a vent pipe that goes into that slab and has a vent fan installed in it that draws the gas off from underneath the slab.

    So all of that is not really kind of a DIY. Yeah, you could seal the obvious places. But whether that’s going to have a long-term effect is really hard to say because typically, what the tester is also going to do is something called a “communications test” where they’ll put one suction point where that hole is in the slab – they’ll put one suction point in the slab. They’ll put it under suction – under pressure – and then they’ll go around to the other areas of the slab and see if they have any air that’s kind of getting in there. And this way, they can tell how much suction they need to install or how many suction points they need to install to kind of make this system work.

    So while, yeah, if you had some basic areas that you could seal up, that might help a little bit. But it’s really not a do-it-yourself project, Adam, for a whole bunch of reasons. And you know what? If you go to sell this house in the future and it comes out that you had a radon test done or even if they do a test at that time, do-it-yourself mitigation is just not going to cut it. You’re going to have to have a system in that was professionally installed and regularly monitored. Does that make sense?

    ADAM: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. So, I appreciate the information. Like I mentioned, I was just kind of looking to see if there’s anything I could do to try help bring down that level. But sounds like I might have to go with the professionals with this.

    TOM: Yeah. And economically, like I said, you’re just over the guidelines, so I wouldn’t consider this an emergency repair but it’s something that you should get to when you’re ready to. When you can afford it, when you have the time, the inclination over the next few months, that would be great, OK?

    ADAM: OK. Alright. Very good.

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

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

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if you like everything about your bathtub except for that worn-out finish, we’re going to have some options for restoring that surface, after this.

    TOM: Did you know having a well-insulated home is the single most cost-effective way to reduce cooling costs? Spray-foam insulation can also air-seal and reduce drafts, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of energy use. Late winter and early spring is a great time to prepare for the hot months ahead.

    Icynene’s Classic Max high-performance, ultra-low-VOC product both insulates and air-seals. Plus, it allows homeowners to reoccupy their home just two hours after installation. Find your local Icynene licensed contractor today at That’s

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by, the smarter way to a designer kitchen. Tell us more about your project at and receive a free custom-kitchen design. That’s

    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: And I wish spring would hurry up and get here because I’m ready to take on some projects.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what’s really great about this time of year? We’re at mid-February. We’ve passed all of the events in the season that require seasonal decorating; I’m talking about the holidays and then, of course, you go to Valentine’s Day. And some people with young kids – and some people just decorate the house for Valentine’s Day, as well. So, we’re past all that. All of that stuff is put away and you’re finally seeing that your house has some space again. And it feels open and it feels fresh and you’re kind of getting antsy for that spring season.

    So I usually use this time of year to bring that spring look or those spring trends inside. A lot of that starts with greenery. You know, I take the opportunity now to bring in some cute topiaries or even some fresh herbs, some fresh rosemary, something that I can put in a cute planter or even just put little, small bunches of it in small vases or even mason jars around in key spots of my home, usually by windows. Because that sort of natural light with the more light that we’re getting this time of year, plus that hint of greenery just makes the whole space feel new. And I really like that.

    And this is also the time that I start to bring out those spring accessories in those spring colors. So I usually bring in a lot of greens. I’ll bring in softer pastels whether they’re lighter blues or even soft browns, silvery grays. All of that to kind of keep that wintery feel but still bring in that freshness of springtime. I think at this time of year really does a lot to benefit our mood and our spirits and just our outlook.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s good advice. And it can’t come soon enough. But with tips like that, you can kind of give yourself a head start.

    If you’ve got a project on your to-do list, we can give you a head start to get that done but pick up the phone and help yourself, first, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going out to the great north in Alaska where Tim has a construction question. What can we do for you?

    TIM: So I’m looking to do some construction on a new residence and the additional housing is generally 2×6 or 2×8 construction. And certainly, they’ve come out with some more advanced materials: ICF block with concrete and foam insulation. I’m wondering, from a standpoint of cost differences, which would be better for a long-term home.

    TOM: So wood framing versus insulated concrete forms or ICF blocks. I am a huge proponent of ICF construction. I think it’s a brilliant technology. And for those that are not familiar with this, these are large, foam blocks. They look kind of like Lego blocks. And you stack up the wall out of these foam blocks – put a traditional footing and stack up the wall with these foam blocks. And then the – it’s all braced and then the wall is filled with concrete. So you end up with a solid concrete wall that’s reinforced, that’s surrounded by insulation on both sides of it.

    And what you find with this, Tim, is that the home is super insulated and actually much more storm-resistant and much quieter. In fact, I’ve seen these homes require about a 30 to 40 percent less heating and cooling capacity because they just perform so well.

    So, I think when you look at it, yeah, you’re going to have probably an increase cost of construction over wood framing – slightly increased, not huge increase – but the long-term energy efficiency and comfort savings on this is going to be very significant. So, I would definitely consider insulated-concrete-form construction over wood framing if I had the opportunity.

    TIM: Thank you for that information.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if your bathtub has a worn-out finish, replacing is a costly proposition. But before you do that, there really are some other options to consider.

    Now, I do want to say, though, if you are planning a full-scale bathroom remodel, then it’s OK to replace the tub. That makes sense. But if you’re just really looking to freshen up the space and work on that bathtub itself, there’s tub liners and there’s tub-refinishing options. And these are really two good options that will add years of life to an existing tub, at truly a fraction of the cost of that full-scale replacement and really, in a fraction of the time.

    TOM: Now, first, let’s talk about the tub liner as an option. I mean they’re basically made from the same kind of material as sport helmets, like football helmets, or an airplane windshield. They’re kind of an ABS plastic. And the way they’re made is, basically, the manufacturers go out and they model all the different tubs that are out there. And then they custom-make this to fit inside your existing tub.

    The only thing I don’t like about them is that they take up space, right? So the tub will end up being less narrow and less long because the tub liner does take up some space. But once it’s in there, you really never have to worry about tub-finishing again. Of course, there’s some plumbing work to be done to adjust the drains – and the pros that install these will do all of that – but it is a really good option if you’ve got the kind of bathroom that you just don’t want to gut-remodel to replace that tub.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The other option, if you really – if you like your tub, if you like the shape of it and you don’t want to add that liner – is refinishing. Now, another term for that could be reglazing or refinishing. And you can do that to a very worn-out bathtub. It’s really a more sight-intensive process. It calls for chemicals. Some of them are hazardous, that really require the person working on it to wear a respirator and a special protective suit for all of that work that’s getting done.

    Now, the first step in the reglazing process involves masking the surfaces around the tub, because it’s got to protect from all the overspray. And of course, properly venting the bathroom to extract all of those toxic fumes.

    Now, after the technician has removed the caulking, the refinisher is then going to swathe the tub in a hydrofluoric acid. And that’s a highly toxic agent that’s not only going to dissolve what’s left of the glaze that’s on there, but it also etches that surface so that the new finish that’s going on is going to adhere well.

    Next, your refinisher is going to wash away all of that acid, install new caulking and dry the tub with the help of a fan. Then they’re going to spray on two coats of a fast-drying epoxy and that’s going to promote adhesion of all those finish coats that go on.

    Now, to finish, the tech gives the tub a cleaning with a tack cloth and that’s going to remove any of those small dust particles or insects or whatever has sort of gathered in the space during the work. And then they spray on four applications of a polyurethane finish coat and they sand in between each coat.

    Now, the final step is polishing the tub. This whole process is going to take a single technician about four to six hours. And that really depends on how extensive the repair is. But that tub needs to cure for a minimum of 24 hours before you put the water on. Plus, the fumes are very, very caustic, so the chances of your family staying in the house while this is happening is kind of slim, guys, you know?

    TOM: Right. Yeah. So, basically, it’s an awful lot of work. It will probably be less expensive than the gut renovation but it’s not inexpensive. It’s not like painting the tub. So either of these options will work and they will be less expensive than the remodel. But there is going to be an investment required.

    Fortunately, not all home improvements require that kind of investment. And we are here to help you with the easy ones, too. So pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Barbara in South Dakota is on the line with a cigarette-smoking house. What’s going on?

    BARBARA: Just have a strange odor coming from the drain in the kitchen sink and also a slight drain in the bathroom. Not sure where it’s coming from or how to correct it, so I thought I’d give you a call.

    TOM: OK. But you describe it as a smoke-like odor?

    BARBARA: A smoke, like someone’s been smoking in the house. I know it’s the strangest thing. We don’t have smokers.

    TOM: And you have it in the bathroom and where else did you say?

    BARBARA: Well, mainly in the kitchen sink. Sometimes, when you just come into the kitchen, you can smell it and sometimes it’s real strong. Other times, it’s a lighter smell.

    TOM: What it might be – especially because you have it in both wet locations – it might be biogas. So biogas happens when you get debris in the kitchen sink that just sits there for the longest time and it starts to decay and leaves off an awful odor.

    So, what you might need to do is to really scrub those drains in both of those sinks. And I would use a bleach solution to do that, like OxiClean or something of that nature. It’s like an oxygenated bleach. And I would try to sort of cover all of that in that solution and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes so it really kills any of the bacteria that’s laying in there.

    But you can get some pretty odiferous bacteria that can cause that type of odor and have it emanate from the drains and sinks and bathrooms. We’ve seen it many times.

    BARBARA: But where does the debris come from? Because we’re all using the garbage disposal.

    TOM: Bacteria. You’re not going to see this level of debris.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it just sort of sticks to the side, just naturally.

    TOM: It grows in there. Yeah. Mm-hmm.

    BARBARA: OK. But you mean fill the sink with bleach – kind of bleach water? How would you keep it?

    TOM: Yeah. With like an OxiClean. Not so much the sink but more importantly, that drain. You want to get that drain really coated in that bleach solution.

    BARBARA: OK. So just let it sit there so it goes through the elbow, right?

    TOM: Yep. Exactly.

    BARBARA: OK. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Up next, every year, hundreds of unsafe products get recalled. But with so many recalls, how do you know if you have any of those recalled products in your home? Up next, we’re going to tell you about a service that can help and it’s free.

    ANNOUNCER: Did you know that more than 90 percent of U.S. homes are under-insulated, causing increased energy costs and uncomfortable temperatures year-round? An industry leader, Owens Corning, has a new solution to help homeowners and contractors identify air leakage by performing a home energy assessment.

    The new Comfort Tracker app by Owens Corning can help you locate problem areas throughout the home. The Comfort Tracker app works with the FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera, which attaches to your iPhone, iPad or Android device. By visiting, you can learn more and download the Owens Corning Comfort Tracker app free for your iOS or Android device. Room by room, you’ll have a prioritized master plan to improve your home’s energy efficiency, ensuring comfortable temperatures all season long.

    Visit today and put the power of a professional energy audit right in your hand.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by HomeAdvisor. Find trusted home improvement pros for any project at

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Hey, Leslie, you know what I’m seeing more and more of these days? Metal roofs. They’re kind of making a total comeback right now, which I think is so cool.

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: I mean, you know, 100 years ago, metal roofs were super common in homes and barns and commercial buildings. And then, for many years, you didn’t see them but now I’m glad to say they’re coming back. And the finishes are better than ever, because they actually have coatings now where they reflect the light – the sunlight – back out. So they don’t raise the temperature in the summer, which is another issue that was associated with them. They are more expensive than asphalt shingles.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah. But they last so much longer.

    TOM: Yeah. Decades.

    LESLIE: For sure.

    TOM: Like 5 decades, 50 years or 75 years. So, yeah, it’s a really good option if you have to do a roof on your house.

    LESLIE: Jean in Washington is on the line. How can we help you today?

    JEAN: Could I ask you about your Mr. Beam lights, where they’re available?

    TOM: Sure. Jean, you can find those Mr. Beams products in lots of stores. They’re online at Amazon. They’re at Home Depot, they’re at Ace Hardware, Target, True Value, Walmart, Best Buy. They’re really widely available.

    JEAN: I tried to find some around here. Of course, what they tell me is there’s more – this and that and the other thing. And I want to know about the one that you said you can put up in your ceiling. That’s where I need it. And do you know how many lumens they would have for the one that I could put in the ceiling, over my table, for good light?

    TOM: The ceiling light delivers 100 lumens of light. It covers 260 square feet.

    JEAN: OK, 100 lumens.

    TOM: Yeah, it sounds like that would do a nice job over the table.

    JEAN: OK.

    TOM: It’s battery-operated, of course. And if it comes on an average of 8 to 10 times a day, the battery lasts for a full year.

    JEAN: Oh, well, that’s great. Because in the wintertime, you probably need it fairly often.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. Absolutely. OK. Well, good luck with that project, OK?
    JEAN: OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome.

    LESLIE: Well, have you ever have heard about a product-recall report and then realized too late it was something that you actually own? Product recalls often seem like minor news but if it’s one that affects your family’s safety, that’s another story. Last year – it was November or December in the holiday season – Cuisinart gave out a report that’s saying over 19 years, 22 different versions of their food processor have been recalled.

    There’s something about the blades coming apart and people are biting down on broken pieces of blade and some of them are just breaking a tooth and some of them are having mouth lacerations. And the company and of course, everybody was freaking out. That’s a massive amount of time for a company to not notice or finally notice or pay attention to that there was something very wrong and something that really could’ve caused quite a bit of harm to your family.

    TOM: And that’s just one major recall. But the thing is, every year there are hundreds of products that get affected by recall. And now there’s an easy way kind of stay on top of that, especially if it’s not so major as the Cuisinart situation was. Even minor recalls that maybe just affect a smaller number of products that don’t make the national news. But there’s a system now that the government put together where they have all the different branches of government agencies – I think there’s six different agencies got together to do this. And it’s simply

    And at, you can basically search quickly for recalled products. And you can also sign up for e-mail alerts on getting recall notices as they happen. I know that when my kids were small, I signed up for a similar version to that with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And I was shocked that, on a fairly regular basis, we would get a recall on something that we actually owned. So it happens more than you think and it’s really good to be aware.

    LESLIE: And you can pick, by category, what you want to be notified of. So, for me and my house, I have – I had, at one point, baby things. Now, I have kids’ things, I have house things, I have cooking things. And I always find it interesting that fairly often I get a recall about a knife or some sort of hunting knife. Any kind of knife for home improvement. And people – they’re being recalled for laceration hazards.

    It’s a knife. You know, there’s a good chance you’re going to – you could cut yourself. But I always find them amusing when they’re like, “Oh, such-and-such hunting knife is being recalled for laceration hazards.” And I guess it’s one thing because maybe it doesn’t lock in place. There’s a serious side to it.

    TOM: Right. Or there’s a design issue, something like that.

    LESLIE: But whenever I see that it’s a knife being recalled for laceration hazards, I’m like, “That seems very strange.”

    TOM: Well, it pays to be aware. And again, you can sign up at

    LESLIE: Brandon in South Dakota is on the line with a garbage-disposal question. What can we do for you today?

    BRANDON: I’ve got a family – two little boys. And I was just wondering about sizing the garbage disposal. Should I go with a ½-horse, a ¾-horse? And then my follow-up question to that is: how hard is it? Kind of a novice do-it-yourselfer. Would I be able to put it in myself?

    TOM: So, to your first question, I know that they sell disposers that are as small as about a ¼-horse or a 1/3-horse but I would never buy one that size in a million years, because I just see that as a problem in terms of clogs and inability to grind stuff up and maybe tripping all the time. So I would definitely recommend you get a ½- or even ¾-horse. I mean the additional expense is not significant and I really think it’s going to give you better performance over a greater number of years.

    In terms of installing them, they’re actually not really that difficult to do if you can handle basic plumbing projects. But remember, you’ve also got to handle basic electrical work and that can get tricky if you’re not familiar and it can actually be dangerous. So, it’s not a hard plumbing or electrical project to do but you’ve got to have some basic skills to take it on. Does that make sense?

    BRANDON: Yeah, makes perfect sense.

    TOM: Alright, Brandon. Good luck with that project and good luck with those boys, OK?

    BRANDON: Thank you very much. Thanks for your help.

    LESLIE: Michelle in Pennsylvania is on the line with a question about a heat pump. What’s going on at your money pit?

    MICHELLE: I have a pretty big house with lots of windows. And so I want to kind of section off parts of the house that I don’t really live in. Problem is those parts of the house are the formal living, formal dining room and that’s where my thermostat is located.

    TOM: Ah, OK.

    MICHELLE: So, yeah. So I feel like if I lower the thermostat, then it’s going to kick on even harder.

    TOM: Yeah, Michelle, there is a solution for that and in comes in the form of a thermostat – a smart thermostat. And what I’m thinking of is a thermostat that’s called an ecobee – It’s e-c-o-b-e-e. And what’s different about the ecobee Smart Thermostat – it has all the technology you’ll see in other WiFi thermostats, like the fact that you can control it from your smartphone and knows when you’re home, knows when you’re away.

    But what ecobee also has are wireless remote sensors, so you can put sensors in different parts of the room, different parts of the house. And then you could tell the heating system what the temperature should be in that room. And it should read that and determine whether it should go on or off. So when the rooms that you don’t use that much, you could have a very cold temperature and the rooms that you do use, you could have a very warm temperature. And it would kind of read just that particular area and not the area where the original thermostat is mounted. Does that make sense?

    MICHELLE: Yeah, it does. So what’s something like that going to run?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s not terribly expensive and the installation is sort of DIY. I think they’re probably a couple hundred bucks but go to – e-c-o-b-e-e – and you can shop online or you can find it on Amazon. I think it’s probably the answer to your particular situation, because heat pumps are expensive to run. And so you want to make sure that you’re using the thermostat properly.

    MICHELLE: Very good. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, if you’re like most of us, you probably have no idea what’s floating around in your junk drawer. But there is one item in there causing homes to go up in flames. We’ll tell you what that is, next.

    TOM: Did you know having a well-insulated home is the single most cost-effective way to reduce cooling costs? Spray-foam insulation can also air-seal and reduce drafts, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of energy use. Late winter and early spring is a great time to prepare for the hot months ahead.

    Icynene’s Classic Max high-performance, ultra-low-VOC product both insulates and air-seals. Plus, it allows homeowners to reoccupy their home just two hours after installation. Find your local Icynene licensed contractor today at That’s

    (theme song)

    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: On air and online at where you can also subscribe to The Money Pit podcast.

    LESLIE: Pete in Wisconsin is on the line with a garage-door problem. What’s going on at your money pit?

    PETE: Well, I’m a mostly do-it-yourselfer but I do call the professionals and have them come in when needed. I installed a steel, insulated garage door about three years ago, maybe four now. And worked just fine until just recently. It sounds like it’s binding when I – when it’s still going in the up position. And I ran it like 50 times trying to find where it’s binding. I’m not seeing any place where it’s rubbing on the track or anything else but it sure is making a noise like it is. And as I watch it, it appears as if one side may be going up slightly higher than the other. Any ideas, guys?

    TOM: Pete, can you disconnect the garage-door opener from the door itself?

    PETE: I can and I have.

    TOM: OK. And once the garage-door opener is disconnected, can you open and close the garage door smoothly and evenly with no binding whatsoever?

    PETE: There is less binding but there is still some. You can tell that there’s still a load on one side, it kind of feels like.

    TOM: So it sounds to me like maybe the roller bearings are shot on some part of the door. Because there’s those roller bearings that fit inside the track and they help move the door up and down. And if something is stuck, if one of those bearings is not turning, it’s going to jam on that one side and they’ll sort of fight itself and it’ll try to come up crooked. And that might be what’s causing this.

    I would disconnect the garage-door opener from the scenario and work on getting the door to operate nice and smoothly.

    PETE: OK.

    TOM: If it’s binding – if you feel like it’s binding or uneven without the garage-door opener attached to it, then that’s the heart of the problem right there.

    PETE: OK. Do you think that would solve the appearance that one side is being raised? I imagine it would.

    TOM: You mean raised more than the other side? One side comes up first?

    PETE: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah. Because if the side that’s staying down is binding, then there’s a drag on that, so it’s going to try to pull the door up crookedly.

    PETE: Wonderful. Well, I think you may have fixed my problem. I’m going to go check those rollers and make certain that those are all good. And if I need to replace any of those, those are relatively inexpensive. So the money pit isn’t so bad tonight, it looks like.

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

    Well, we’ve all done it: shoved a bunch of stuff into closets and drawers to get clutter out of sight. But there’s a chance that when you’re doing that straightening up, you might be putting your home and your family at a serious risk.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, odds and ends sitting around your house can go up in flames if they land in the wrong place, like too close to a heat source. But there have also been reports of house fires starting when 9-volt batteries come in contact with everyday metallic objects, like paper clips or thumbtacks. And this can even happen with batteries that you might consider to be dead.

    TOM: Yeah. And so where does all that stuff show up? Where does your spare paper clip show up along with the 9-volt batteries? In the junk drawer, right?

    LESLIE: In the junk drawer.

    TOM: I mean in fact …

    LESLIE: There’s usually a mess in there. Not mine but usually.

    TOM: Exactly. It’s not very organized. So, listen, if you throw those batteries into a space like that, just put a piece of electrical tape across the leads – across the two exposed leads at the top – because that will insulate it and stop anything from connecting across those two points, which can cause a spark and potentially a fire. So, be careful with your junk.

    LESLIE: Laura in Connecticut is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?

    LAURA: We had some plaster work done and unfortunately, the gentleman used a rusty tool. What type of primer, what type of paint can we put over that? I’m afraid that I don’t know if it’ll bleed through or what it’ll do.

    LESLIE: So, when you said that he used a rusty tool, are you seeing some areas of a sort of reddish patina in the plaster itself or is it changing over time? What are you noticing?

    LAURA: Rust. Just rust from the tool.

    LESLIE: So you’re seeing it in the plaster and of course, now that’s all cured and dried.

    LAURA: Exactly. In the plaster itself.

    TOM: Yeah, that plaster will leech through a traditional paint finish, so you definitely have to prime here, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I think your best bet is to use, if you can, a B-I-N or a Zinsser, one of those primers. They tend to be oil-based. They’re a little bit more heavy-duty. And those really do tend to cover up everything. So I think if you go ahead with a good coat of that as a primer, you’ll end up with, you know, the opportunity to seal all of that rust stain in. And then when you go put your topcoat on, you shouldn’t have a problem with that.

    LAURA: Oh, OK. OK. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, are you looking for some new bedding? Why not? We’re approaching the spring season. Time to freshen things up. Well, if you are, you’re probably going to be surprised at the prices. So, before you drop a boatload of bucks on expensive sheets, let’s make sure you know which sheets are worth the extra money for those Zs. We’ll tell you, after this.

    (theme song)

    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: On air and online at

    Hey, when you have a chance, why not subscribe to The Money Pit’s podcast? You can get that at, as well as on iTunes and Google Play. And then you can carry us with you wherever you go and ask your home improvement question whenever it comes to mind.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Take us with you on all your adventures. This way, you can ask a question whenever it comes to mind.

    TOM: Well, busy schedules mean that most of us have to fight hard to put down the smartphone and shut down the laptop and go to bed. And once you get there, you want to get the best sleep you can. And the quality of the bedding that you’re lying on makes a difference. Leslie tells you how to choose the best bedding for your home, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Well, luxury bedding does go a long way towards getting a good night’s sleep. But once you start wading through what all of those thread counts and the fabric choices, there’s a lot once you get into the bedding aisle at the home stores. That will just make you truly exhausted and just kind of wander away and not get anything. So, before you drop a lot of dollars on those upscale linens, let’s talk about what each one has to offer and their drawbacks.

    Now, bamboo sheets. Yes, bamboo can be made into a fabric and actually, they’re so soft that it sometimes does get compared to cashmere. And the fact is they’re going to get softer the longer you keep them. But they come from China, most of them, and there’s a chance they could be coming from an uncertified factory. And that is unsettling for a lot of people. Plus, they’re coming from overseas. So if it’s that’s going to bother you and keep you awake at night, skip them.

    Now, organic cotton sheets from Egypt, those are also very sought after and with good reason: they’re very soft, they’re durable and they’re breathable. They’re good for anyone who really does get warm in the middle of the night. But if you love the sight of a crisp bed, you’ve got to pass on the Egyptian cotton. It’s going to wrinkle very, very easily. And it will always make your bed look like it’s a little bit unkempt, which I’m fine with because the sheets are amazing. But if you want a crisp, clean bed that looks like it’s been ironed and pressed, these are not the sheets for you.

    The other sheets that are similar to that, which are very breathable and look very nice and keep you very cool overnight, are linen sheets. Belgian linen as a matter of fact. And those will give you the same thing. They’ll look great the first time you use them but forget it. Once you wash them, if you’re not pressing them, your bed will look like a wrinkly mess. Same thing when you wear linen pants in the spring and summer. Those pants always look horrible the first time you sit down. So it’s like you better stand until you get where you’re going. Same thing with those beddings.

    Now, as luxury sheets do go, cultivated silk sheets are the ultimate in softness. But even if you can afford to splurge on this expensive bedding, the long-term costs might be more than you bargained for because those silk sheets can be easily damaged if you’ve got a jagged toenail or rough skin on the bottom of your heels. And forget about your washer and dryer to clean them. You’ve got to hand-wash them or have them dry-cleaned and then air-dry them. And truly, who wants to do that?

    Now, I read an interesting article recently about people who were talking about how often do you really need to change your sheets. And they were saying once a week. And I think most people are on the same page as that but let’s all be realistic. When you’re busy and you work and you know how difficult it is to actually get your sheets off the bed and wash them and wait and then put them back on, sometimes I’ll get ready to go upstairs and remember that everything is sitting in the washing machine and be like, “Ugh. Dang it.”

    So, try to stick to a once-a-week schedule. I’m not going to judge if you wash them every or change them every two weeks, three weeks. Just don’t be gross, people. And forget it, kids’ sheets, I can leave those on the bed longer. And here’s a fun tip: when you do wash your sheets, if you do have spare sets, fold them and keep them in a pillow case, all tucked into one of the pillow cases, so you know exactly where that whole set is and you’re not searching for all the pieces.

    TOM: Oh, what a great idea.

    LESLIE: I got some sometimes.

    TOM: Absolutely. Alright. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to take on some common household myths. Like do you really have to run water when you use a garbage disposer? Or how about this, Leslie? Do you need to pre-rinse the dishes before they go in the dishwasher? Everybody’s got an opinion. We’re going to sort it out fact from fiction, 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 2017 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.)

Leave a Reply


More tips, ideas and inspiration to fuel your next home improvement, remodeling or décor project!