Easy Ways to Cut Energy Costs #1010161

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  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: What are you working on this beautiful fall weekend? If it’s your money pit, we’re here to help you with the projects that you’d like to tackle around your house. Give us a call and help yourself first – the number is 888-MONEY-PIT – or post your question at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Because we’d like to help you make that project simpler, faster and make sure it comes out right every single time.

    Coming up this hour, October is Energy Awareness Month. We’re going to have some easy tips that you can take around your home to reduce energy use and save some money in the process.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, decorative shutters, they look great and they add curb appeal. But before there were decorative shutters, there were actually real shutters that were functional and were there to safeguard your windows in a storm and keep out that harsh sun in the summer. Well, Tom Silva from This Old House is stopping by with steps on how you can get these at your home.

    TOM: And it’s not called a “green thumb” for nothing. If you’re looking for ways to help Mother Nature, your yard offers even more eco-friendly opportunities than you may realize. We’re going to help you go green with your fall gardening.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re going to shed some light around your home, because we’re giving away the brand-new Mr. Beams. It’s a home safety and security lighting bundle, including the new Mr. Beams LED Spotlight. It’s battery-powered and it can light your home for up to a full year.

    TOM: We’ve got several Mr. Beam products in that package worth over 169 bucks. So give us a call right now. We will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and might be sending you that Mr. Beams Home Safety and Security Lighting Bundle to shed some light on the rest of your house. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Nelson in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on?

    NELSON: Well, I have asphalt paving. Actually, about 2,200 square feet of it.

    TOM: Wow. OK.

    NELSON: And I just had it put in six weeks ago.

    TOM: OK.

    NELSON: And my question is – seal coating. Do I use a water base or an oil base? I’ve heard …

    TOM: Well, if it’s only six weeks old, it sounds like it’s a little early for you to be seal-coating it. It might be that you want to go ahead and just let this go until next year and give it a seal coating either in the spring or the fall then. And at that point – I think the formulations on these have evolved to the point where you can do a really nice job with a latex-based product. And what you want to do is pick up the seal coat and pick up the tools to apply it with at the home center. And then start in one corner and work your way across.

    But since it’s so new, I would let it bake in the sun a little bit. You’re going to have a lot of solvents in that material that’s going to bake out for a while. So I think it’s kind of early for you to seal it. I think you should just hold off, perhaps, for about a year and then seal it before maybe we go into the next winter. Does that make sense?

    NELSON: Yeah, it does. That’s good.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Louise on the line who’s got some mystery stains on a mailbox. What’s going on?

    LOUISE: OK, I have a brick mailbox and it seems to have salt deposits leaking through the outside of it.

    TOM: Is it in the way of a lawn sprinkler, by any chance?

    LOUISE: No, it isn’t.

    TOM: Because, often, what happens is if it gets groundwater splashed on it – and that can happen if you have sprinklers and wells – a lot of mineral salts in there that will dry and basically adhere to the outside.

    You know, what’s happening here is you are seeing some sort of mineral deposits and you’re going to have to clean it. And the best way to clean it, believe it or not, is to mix up a vinegar-and-water solution. Because vinegar melts the salts.

    LOUISE: Wow.

    TOM: So you can mix them up in a bucket, splash it down with a nice, soft-bristle brush, scrub it. And that should make those disappear. They may come back but the other thing that you could think about doing, once it gets nice and dry and clean, is to apply a masonry sealer to it. And if you use a silicone-based masonry sealer, you want to get one that’s vapor-permeable so it doesn’t trap the water underneath the sealer surface. This lets it breathe and stops it from cracking and chipping. But that should slow down the showing up of any additional salt stains.

    LOUISE: Well, thank you so, so much. I’ll do that.

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

    LESLIE: Time to tackle a decking question with Justin in Iowa. How can we help you?

    JUSTIN: Well, one year ago, I moved into a new house and the deck was just put on the previous year. And right before the owner put it on the market, he stained it with, I think, a semi-transparent stain.

    TOM: OK. So far so good.

    JUSTIN: And I would like to use a solid-color stain, if I could, to redo it.

    TOM: OK.

    JUSTIN: So I’m not sure – can I do that, being that there’s already a stain on there?

    TOM: And in fact, solid color is a good choice. We typically do recommend that because it has more pigment and it tends to last longer. So, you want to make sure that you clean the deck very well, because we want to make sure there’s no moss, mildew or algae attached to that deck. Let it dry equally well and then you could apply the solid-color stain right on top of the semi-transparent stain.

    JUSTIN: Sounds easy enough. I really appreciate it.

    TOM: You’ve got it, Justin. Good luck with that project.

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

    Hey, guys, we’re in mid-October. Woohoo! Are you decorating for the Halloween holiday? Are you getting your house buttoned up for the cool weather ahead? Whatever you are working on, we are here to give a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, October is Energy Awareness Month. So if you’re looking for some ways to save money on your energy bills, we’ll have do-it-yourself home energy upgrades, next.

    ANNOUNCER 1: Football night in my house is a big deal: the whole family, a couple of pizzas and the game on TV. And since I installed the new Caseta Smart Lighting System by Lutron, it’s even better. I just tap my phone and the lights shift to create the perfect viewing environment. Now if we just win a game, everything would be great.

    ANNOUNCER 2: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart-home upgrade, at OurLifeUpgrade.com. No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

    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: Standing by to help with your home improvement projects at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Also standing by to give away a fantastic set of products from Mr. Beams. We’ve got the Home Safety and Security Lighting Bundle going out to one lucky caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. And it includes the Mr. Beams LED Spotlight, which is a pretty cool product. It’s very bright – 200 lumens of motion-activated light – and it’s battery-powered. I think it’s so cool that Mr. Beams has figured out the technology it takes to actually have a battery-powered spotlight. That is so great because this way, you don’t have to run a wire for it. You can basically just use the light, hang it on the wall and you’re good to go.

    This can actually provide about 1 year’s worth of light with average use of 8 to 10 activations a day. It allows for wireless installation anywhere around the home, so you can increase your security, including areas like sheds and garages or doorways. It’s got a reflector face, which is kind of cool. Gives you a very wide coverage area of about 600 feet. You can get all the information at MrBeams.com.

    The Mr. Beams LED Spotlight is worth 29.99 but the bundle includes several of Mr. Beams’ lights for a total value of $169.96. Going out to one caller. Make that you. You want to shed some light on your home improvement projects and your house at the same time? Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Charlotte in Georgia needs some help making some glue go away. What happened?

    CHARLOTTE: Hey, I had a new linoleum laid and the glue that they used to glue the floor down with?

    TOM: Yep.

    CHARLOTTE: A lot of it got on my floor.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    CHARLOTTE: And I’ve been using a knife to scrape it off but I didn’t really want to hurt my linoleum. And I was just wondering if there’s any kind of product that I can use to get that glue up.

    TOM: Wow, that’s tricky because I would be concerned. I mean there are flooring-adhesive removers specifically designed for that type of adhesive. But I would be concerned about its impact on the floor. So I would tell you to search for a flooring-adhesive remover and then I would tell you to use it very carefully and watch for any color changes in the flooring. Perhaps even if you have an extra scrap piece of that vinyl, that would be perfect; you can try it out on that. But we want to make sure that it doesn’t damage the vinyl in any way, shape or form.

    CHARLOTTE: Alright. Sounds good.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Scott on the line who needs some help rearranging a door swing. What’s going on?

    SCOTT: We just bought a new place and in our downstairs bathroom, the door now swings into the left. But the problem is the light switch is then behind the door.

    TOM: Oh, yeah. So you’ve got to walk in the bathroom, close the door in the dark, fumble for the light switch and turn it on.

    SCOTT: Yes, that’s pretty much it. So I’m just curious if there’s a way to switch the handing of the door without replacing the whole casing and (inaudible at 0:09:50).

    TOM: Not easily. It’s probably easier to run a new light switch on the other side than it is to change out the door. Because the hole is drilled where the hole is drilled. And if you were to change the hand, you’d basically have to put a new hole on the other side, I would think.

    SCOTT: Sure.

    TOM: Yeah, doors don’t flip right and left too easily unless you’re talking about the door in your washing machine that’s designed to do that, you know. An interior door doesn’t turn very easily, so I would suggest you just run a new switch on the other side. And you could just put a blank-out plate across the one that’s there now because, frankly, nobody’s going to see it.

    SCOTT: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    Well, plastic is not a product you would normally associate with energy efficiency. But a lot of types of plastic insulation products can actually help seal your home from the elements. For example, plastic foam gaskets, right? We’ve talked about these many times in the past because they’re cheap; they’re pennies a piece. And they prevent air from escaping through the space around electrical outlets and switches that are on outside walls.

    Insulation, pretty easy. Just pull off the outlet cover and fit the precut gaskets right over the opening before you replace the cover. Now, they have gaskets that are shaped for the sort of old-fashioned round plugs and also the newer square plugs. So get the right one, pop it in there. You’ll definitely notice a difference right away.

    LESLIE: Now, a lot of homes tend to get air escaping through the chimney. So if you’ve got that, a plastic chimney balloon really is an easy way to help prevent that warm air from escaping through your fireplace. Now, the plastic balloon is going to inflate to your chimney and then that acts like a plug, preventing that unwanted airflow. It’s really easy to remove when you actually want to use your fireplace.

    TOM: Silicone caulk is another form of plastic that can help. It can help you seal the spaces around your windows and your door frames to reduce airflow. Then, of course, there’s plastic spray foam, which can expand to fill cracks and crevices in your home where air can escape.

    LESLIE: And Tom, like you found out firsthand, plastic spray-foam insulation, if you apply it in the attic, that can dramatically decrease a home’s year-round energy use.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right, because it’s sprayed directly into the gaps that cause the air loss and it both insulates and seals, delivering a pretty effective way to weatherize both new and existing homes. So, lots of ways to use plastic and plastic products to cut your energy bills this upcoming winter.

    LESLIE: Well, dishwashers are supposed to make your dishes clean, not stinky. Nathan, what’s going on?

    NATHAN: The smell is coming from the dishwasher. I changed the drain hose, cleaned up the interior. Still has got a smell.

    TOM: Typically, when you get odor from a dishwasher, it’s because of microbes that are decaying from all the food particles that are in there. And to get rid of that smell, you really need to do a thorough job cleaning it. There’s a product called Dishwasher Magic that’s very effective and it’s also very easy to use. You put the bottle of Dishwasher Magic in the tray and then you run the machine. And it’s specifically designed to get into all of those nooks and crannies and deal with that type of debris and odor that results from it. And it comes clean in one cycle.

    NATHAN: OK. That’s all I had. Thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Nina in Arizona has got a log home that’s cracking up. What’s going on?

    NINA: My husband and I bought a log home. And the exterior walls, on the inside, are cracked. The logs are cracked. What can we do to seal that in and make that look better?

    TOM: You can fill them in with – there’s various types of wood filler out there that can be colored and stained to match that. But I think you’re going to be chasing it over and over and over again. So, you might want to proceed cautiously.

    NINA: Oh, wow, OK. So there’s really no solution for it?

    TOM: I think you’re better off kind of accepting that that’s what that’s supposed to do. I mean it’s not like finished hardwood furniture or something. It’s a log, so it’s supposed to have that rustic look to it.

    NINA: OK. That’s what – that’s kind of what my husband said, so …

    TOM: Oh, you see? You should have listened to him, Nina. You just thought he was trying to get out of work, didn’t you?

    NINA: OK. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: So glad we could solve that spat.

    LESLIE: Heading to Minnesota where it’s super chilly. Larry, what is going on with the concrete at your money pit?

    LARRY: No cracks. The only cracks I’ve got is in the butter on the concrete brick wall that goes for the foundation of the house.

    TOM: So the only cracks are in the foundation wall. Is this a block wall or a brick wall?

    LARRY: It’s a block wall, 8×12.

    TOM: And your question is: can you paint it?

    LARRY: Can I paint the butter on there to keep the water from turning to concrete?

    TOM: You know what comes after paint, Larry? Repaint. So, probably not the best approach.

    If you want to try to stop water infiltration, I would recommend a couple of things. First of all, you want to use a silicone-based masonry sealer. Silicone is important because these products are vapor-permeable, especially in the cold climate of Minnesota. You don’t want to seal in moisture that will invariably get into that block wall, because it will freeze and start to spall or chip off some of that surface. And it’ll deteriorate it; it won’t look very good. So you want to use a silicone sealer.

    The second thing is you want to do what you can to reduce the amount of moisture that gets on that wall. And there’s a couple of ways to do that. I have very often seen those block walls deteriorated from something as simple as a blocked or misdirected gutter, where the water lands at the foundation perimeter, splashes up, puts that much more water against that wall, which proceeds to freeze and break and crack. And also, when you have a lot of water around the foundation, you get more movement under the footing. And that causes cracks.

    So, anything that you could do to reduce the amount of moisture that’s getting to that wall – by painting a silicone sealer on it and then by making sure your gutters are clean, your spouts are discharging away from the foundation and that the soil around it slopes back so that you don’t have water splashing up there. Does that make sense?

    LARRY: Yep. I don’t have no soil. I’ve got all concrete driveway right up to the foundation.

    TOM: OK. So you probably – some of the rain probably hits that driveway and splashes up. But I guess there’s nothing you can do about that. So then I think the best thing for you to do, Larry, is not paint it, because the paint’s going to peel. It’s going to be an ongoing maintenance challenge for you. I would use a silicone sealer and I think that will address it.

    LARRY: Yes, sir, we’re going to give it a shot then.

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

    LESLIE: Diane in South Dakota is on the line with a flooring question. What can we do for you today?

    DIANE: Yes. We had a problem with trying to put some wood flooring down on our floor. We have a modular home over a full basement.

    TOM: OK.

    DIANE: And when they delivered the wood and they went to lay it down, they said that our floor was not flat. We had some ridges or bumps on it and that they could not put the flooring on because it would pop up and wouldn’t hold.

    TOM: Yep. OK.

    DIANE: And I’m just wondering if there’s any way to rectify that.

    TOM: So, what type of subfloor do you have that they were trying to put this new flooring on top of? Is it plywood?

    DIANE: It’s plywood, yes.

    TOM: Yeah, sure, a good flooring installer would know this, so I’m surprised they didn’t tell you what had to happen. But there’s a couple of things you can do. There’s a carpentry solution. And a carpentry solution may involve – it depends on how far out of whack it is. I mean they’re right: these new flooring products, they have a certain range that they’re designed to work within. And if your floor is out of level above that range then, certainly, you could have adhesion problems.

    So, the carpentry solution might involve working on the floor joist to actually get them to lay down. Sometimes, you get a joist that is crowned and sort of rises up. There is actually a way to go into the basement, cut that beam in half, put a new solid beam next to it and bring it down. And that will help it lay down and eliminate that bump. So that’s a carpentry solution.

    Then the other solution you can use is to apply what’s called a “floor-leveling compound.” Now, this is a liquid, very thick compound that gets poured onto the floor and then it’s self-leveling. It’ll level and it’ll keep everything nice and flat. And that takes up the dips and the rises in that floor and gives you a very flat surface to work on. Probably not a do-it-yourself project, something I would have somebody do that has some experience with it, because it’s got to be done right. And once that dries, the new floor can be laid right on top of it.

    So there’s a carpentry solution and then there’s the floor-leveling compound, which is designed exactly for situations like this.

    DIANE: OK. I actually think that we probably have to go the carpenter route, because I asked them about that product. I said, “Isn’t there some kind of a leveling product that you could pour on the floor?” And they said it won’t – wouldn’t work in this situation.

    TOM: OK. Well, I’m not sure why. They probably should be giving you more information on that. And sometimes, when a contractor says it won’t work, what they mean to say – that’s what comes out of their mouth. But what they’re saying is, “I really don’t want to do it.”

    DIANE: OK, OK.

    TOM: OK? Maybe they didn’t want to do it. Don’t take that to heart. It may be that it can, in fact, be done; you just don’t have the right person involved yet, OK?

    DIANE: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your calling me back.

    LESLIE: Decorative shutters, they might add some curb appeal to your home but real shutters, they safeguard your windows from storms. Tom Silva from This Old House is stopping by next with advice on how these can be added to your home.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House segment on The Money Pit is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators, with over 400 varieties of bamboo, laminate, wood-look tile, vinyl plank and hardwood floors for less.

    JOE: Hey, this is Joe Namath. And if you want to move the ball on your home improvement projects, listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Date night is a big night for us. Just me, my husband, some candles and time alone, finally. And Sean added his own flair: he installed a Caseta Smart Lighting System by Lutron. He makes a big deal out of taking out his phone and the lights come down low. Very romantic. I think I married the right guy.

    MALE ANNOUNCER: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart-home upgrade, at OurLifeUpgrade.com. No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

    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 hey, before you seal yourself in for the long winter, now is a good time to think about how to make that air that you’ll be breathing a bit healthier. If you keep it healthier, you can keep your family healthier. So the first thing you want to do is think about using filters.

    Now, a good-quality, disposable filter on your HVAC system can work wonders and clean the air. Or even better yet, think about installing a whole-house air cleaner, which can take out even virus-sized particles which could potentially make you really sick.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, here’s another thing you can try: try to keep your home humidity level at 35 to 40 percent. Now, most home’s humidity levels are kind of on the low side: only about 25 percent. But by using a good-quality humidifier with a humidistat, you can actually set an appropriate humidity level and then maintain it.

    TOM: Now, here’s one of my pet peeves. Have you ever seen somebody use a vacuum and they suck in all the dirt from one end and then promptly shoot it out the back end because it doesn’t have a good filter? It has a lousy filter in it? So the next time you buy a vacuum, you want to make sure it’s a HEPA filter. That’s a high-efficiency filter. And it’s amazing how much dust the average vacuum cleaner can just pull out from one end, then toss right out the other. But if you’ve got a HEPA filter on it, it’s going to only push out really, really clean air. So some easy ways to improve the air quality in your home right before you seal the hatches for the cold weather ahead.

    LESLIE: Kay in Arkansas is on the line and needs some help changing a wall surface.

    What’s going on, Kay?

    KAY: Well, it is a sturdy home. Cinder block. Probably just that thick but it has the brick on the outside. But the inside, I would just like something a little more pleasant to look at.

    TOM: OK. That makes sense. So, are we talking about a basement here?

    KAY: Nope. This is an above-ground. It is a cabin on the lake property.

    TOM: So you need a paint that can cover the masonry-block walls.

    KAY: Well, a paint or stucco or something that gives it a different texture than a cinder-block look.

    TOM: Kay, the process of coating the interior walls isn’t as much stucco as it is plastering. So what has to happen is that wall surface has to be covered with a layer of plaster, much in the same way they used to build plaster walls many, many years ago in, say, the 30s or the 40s. In fact, in the late 40s, they used to plaster right over drywall and that was one of the best wall constructions ever. So those are the options that you have to choose from.

    Doing the plaster is probably not the job you want to do as your first DIY project. But if you work with a plastering company – somebody who does this every day – they would have the skills to make the plaster look nice and smooth and have an attractive surface without really taking up much space, in terms of it getting too thick.

    KAY: Right, right. So that’s strange. I have plaster walls on my house at home.

    TOM: Oh, well, maybe they’re going to follow you to the new house.

    KAY: Yeah. OK.

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

    LESLIE: Well, shutters look great and add curb appeal but most of us have shutters that are purely aesthetic. So, real shutters, they’re functional and they can actually help safeguard your windows in a storm and keep out the harsh summer sun.

    TOM: Ah but how do you install the real deal? We’ve got expert advice standing by in the form of This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.

    Welcome, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Well, thank you. It’s nice to be here.

    TOM: And I’ve got to imagine that no one has probably installed more of these in recent times than you guys.

    TOM SILVA: Well, I’ve got to say that you hit a real soft point with me because shutters are my pet peeve. And I drive around and I see so many shutters installed incorrectly and it drives me crazy. And I drive around with my wife and now she’s at the point where she says, “Oh, look. No, those are wrong and those are wrong.”

    TOM: Only when she wants to annoy you, right?

    TOM SILVA: But you’re right: shutters are a good thing. Years ago, they were meant to protect your windows because they didn’t have storm windows or insulated glass. In storms, you would close them and keep the rain and the wind from – and if you’re away, it would close up the house, too. But the shutters have to be measured correctly, installed correctly to fit correctly.

    TOM: So many times, people are just using this as an aesthetic, you know. They’re fiberglass or some form of plastic and just simply attached to the side of the window to create the allure of shutters. But you’re right: they really do have a structural and a weatherproofing function to them if they’re built correctly.

    TOM SILVA: If they’re built correctly. Think about the louver on a shutter. If you look at the house and you say, “Well, there’s the shutters. They’re on the side of the house. They look alright.” Well, they’re too far away from the window. They’re too high to fit in the opening of the window. You think about the louver when it is shut into the opening. The louver is meant to shed water away from the window. If you take the shutter that you’re looking at that’s aesthetic, if you turn it and close it into the opening, when it rained all the rain would drive into the window.

    TOM: Go right through the louvers and head right to the window.

    TOM SILVA: Because the louvers are upside-down right from the beginning.

    TOM: Yeah.

    TOM SILVA: But yeah, you’ve got to think about the opening of where the window is. That’s how the shutter is supposed to fit: inside that window opening, not outside the window casing.

    TOM: Now, you’re not going to find these in the aisle at the home center but I presume there’s a way that you could order these built to the correct size?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, there are companies that will come out and measure for you. There’s all kinds of wood shutters. There are combination fiberglass and PVC shutters that hold up fantastic to the weather. They have shutters that will movable – their louvers are movable or stationary, all different styles and designs along with hardware, also.

    LESLIE: Now, are there any rules with shutters that make them – having to comply with hurricane resistancy? Because, essentially, in their original usage, they were protecting the windows. But now, even though – if they operate, they might just be aesthetic but still operable. Do they have to comply to those rules?

    TOM SILVA: They don’t have to. Some manufacturers, I believe, are making them for hurricane-proof but it’s – the hardware that’s going to hold them shut is the real deal. And the hardware for shutters are not – well, good shutters, installed correctly, are not cheap anyways. But it’s very important to install them correctly.

    TOM: Now, if you are fortunate enough to own a home that has traditional shutters, you need to keep them in good condition. I imagine painting them is especially important since – at least on the side that’s usually open against the building. It’s very moist, it’s very damp, it’s very conducive to decay.

    TOM SILVA: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And also, you’ve got to think about what happens back there. Lots of times, birds will nest back there. You’ll get bees and yellow jackets basically nesting back there. But I like to take – I have shutters on my house and I actually pull them away – they’re on hinges – take the dogs, spin the dogs, take them out. And then I clean behind them yearly with a garden hose. I just spray a garden hose up there. And if I have to take a brush like a – for my car – I wash the car with – and I just maybe wash the house and then rinse it off really well. It’s good to keep it clean.

    TOM: So, Tommy Silva is the only guy in America that if you said, “Hey, what did you do this weekend?” – “I washed my shutters.”

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, yeah. Well, I don’t do it every weekend.

    TOM: Oh, OK. But it is your pet-peeve project.

    TOM SILVA: It is a pet-peeve project, yeah. If shutters are done right, they really do a good job on basically saying something special about that house.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Now, if you are going with just the aesthetic fiberglass ones that you’re putting on the side to look like a shutter – which you’re making a face at me right now – I mean it annoys me when I see them and you don’t take the extra step to put up a hinge or to put up the fake hardware to at least make it look like it’s trying to be something.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. Well, you’ve got to – then if you’re going to take the time and you’re going to put a shutter on that’s really not correctly done, you’ve got to get it close enough to the window so that it will swing into the opening. Make it half the width of the opening so that when it looks shut – so at least it’s sized correctly. I’m just tempted to say, “Take that fiberglass shutter and hang it upside down, so at least the louvers are right.”

    TOM: Just to make it right. Yeah.

    You know what really bugs me about that? We have homes that are sided with vinyl, we take every precaution to make sure everything is watertight. Then they slap the shutters up there and drill six holes right through the vinyl, you know?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, exactly. It’s so true. It’s so true. If you’re going to do it, you’re going to drill that hole, put some caulking in the hole before you put the screw in there. Again, water is the enemy.

    TOM: Do it once, do it right and don’t do it again.

    Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: Always a pleasure to be here, guys.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can 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 Ask This Old House is bought to you on PBS by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating.

    Coming up, are you looking for ways to make your green thumb even greener? We’ve got easy and unexpected ways to tend to the Earth as you’re tending to those fall lawn chores, just ahead.

    FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Date night is a big night for us. Just me, my husband, some candles and time alone, finally. And Sean added his own flair: he installed a Caseta Smart Lighting System by Lutron. He makes a big deal out of taking out his phone and the lights come down low. Very romantic. I think I married the right guy.

    MALE ANNOUNCER: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart-home upgrade, at OurLifeUpgrade.com. No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a home safety and security lighting bundle by Mr. Beams. And that includes the Mr. Beams LED spotlight.

    Now, this features a way brighter light. I’m talking like 200 lumens of motion-activated light. And the coolest part is that it’s battery-operated. Each set of your alkaline batteries provides 1 year of light with an average use of 8 to 10 activations a day. And it also allows for wireless installation anywhere around your house or your yard. That’s going to increase security. You can do it on your shed, your garage, doorways, driveways, porch, whatever. You’re going to shed some light in areas that you really need it.

    And it has a reflector face on it. And it’s a really unique design because the reflector face is going to create a wider coverage area of about 600 square feet. And that’s going to just light a larger area.

    Check out their website. It’s MrBeams.com. The LED Spotlight is 29.99 but the bundle includes several of the Mr. Beams lighting, for a total value of 170 bucks.

    TOM: Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, this time of year, you’re tackling all of those last few chores to close up your garden for the fall. And you might know that doing that is really the best way to make sure your garden comes back nice and strong in the spring. But you may not know that the tools and supplies used for those chores are helping reduce waste. Here’s how.

    TOM: Yep. Some lawn-and-garden tools can actually make your garden greener in more ways than one. A variety of tools and planters and pots and other essentials are now made with recycled plastics to help prevent used plastics from going to waste.

    LESLIE: Plastic garden tools and equipment, from your shovels to your planters, are durable and weather-resistant, so you don’t need to place them often and that leads to less waste.

    TOM: And some garden supplies, like plastic pots, can often be recycled at hardware stores or in curbside programs. Some garden products also come wrapped in plastic shrink film that can be recycled by returning it to participating store locations.

    LESLIE: And if you choose composite decking, that’s made with recycled plastics and that makes it a durable, attractive, weather-resistant option for your backyard decking. And it also keeps used plastics out of landfills.

    TOM: We’ve got more Earth-friendly gardening tips online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Heading over to Ohio. Linda is on the line with a window question. What can we do for you?

    LINDA: In my apartment, it’s supposed to be energy-efficient. But my heating bills and my air-conditioning bills are really high. I don’t think I can climb up there and put the plastic on the windows anymore. Is there any other way to make it more efficient?

    TOM: It’s a real challenge when you’re a renter because you’re right: there’s only a limit of things that you can do but there are things that you can do.

    Now, you mentioned putting the plastic on there. I’m not quite sure what you’re doing in terms of the plastic but the shrink-film plastic works the best where, essentially, it covers the whole interior of the window space. And then you use a hair-dryer once you apply it and it gets really taut and clear. That’s one thing that you can do.

    The second thing is that there is a sort of a liquid weather-stripping. It’s like a weather-stripping caulk. And it looks like silicone caulk, right? So what you do with this stuff is you essentially caulk your windows shut. You put it in all the places there’s gaps. And the nice thing is that in the spring, it remains rubbery and you can kind of grab the edge of it and peel it right away.

    Now, the only bad thing is this: whatever window you caulk, you won’t be able to open all winter long. So, if it’s a bedroom window, you can’t do it there because you need egress in the event of an emergency. But it works great, especially with really old windows, because it does seal them up and it’s easy to do and it doesn’t damage the windows. It peels right off.

    LINDA: Do you have a name or are you not allowed to say it on the air?

    TOM: There’s a number of different brands of it. I know that Red Devil makes one, I think DAP makes one and I think there’s also a generic one. And you ought to be able to find it at The Home Depot. And if it’s not on the shelf, I would ask the service desk and describe the product to them. The weather-stripping caulk is what you’re looking for. And perhaps they’ll be able to order it for you. But I have seen it on the store shelves.

    LINDA: I (inaudible at 0:33:59).

    TOM: Alright. Well, listen, good luck. I hope that helps you out, Linda. I appreciate you calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: If your dishwasher isn’t washing very well, the solution might be an easy DIY project. We’ll share that tip, next.

    ANNOUNCER 1: My family’s well-being is what I’m all about. And now with Caseta by Lutron, I’ve got that peace of mind. Caseta is a smart-home lighting system I control from my phone. It’s like magic. I was out of town last week and had set the porch lights to come on at dusk. So, my family felt safe, like I was there.

    ANNOUNCER 2: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart-home upgrade at OurLifeUpgrade.com. No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

    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: A dishwasher is supposed to wash, right? That’s why we buy it. That’s the job. But if yours is not quite getting that job done, it might not be getting enough water. A very common problem that causes that is a failure of the water-inlet valve.

    What it does is it brings water from your outside source and if it’s responsible, it’s an easy and inexpensive fix. You’re going to find that valve at the bottom of your machine, under the access panel. Make sure you turn the power off and the water off before getting to work. Easy DIY repair project that can restore the effectiveness of your dishwasher.

    LESLIE: Alright. Once we get your dishwasher working very well at your money pit, go ahead and e-mail us or post us, just like Andrew did who writes: “I recently realized that my second-floor bathroom exhaust fan simply sends the air from my bathroom straight into my attic. Should I even worry about this?”

    TOM: Well, yes. Actually, you should, Andrew, because – let’s talk about this. You have warm, moist, humid air and plenty of it that you’re driving from the bathroom up into the attic. The attic has insulation that we want to try to keep as dry as possible. Why is that important? Because if it’s not dry – if it’s damp, it’s going to not insulate. So, you want to take that bath-exhaust duct that’s going up into the attic and go ahead and carry it the rest of the way, which is out of the house.

    Now, the best thing to do – especially if it’s near an exterior wall, like a gable wall – is simply turn it 90 degrees and run it out. You could run it straight up to the roof and put in an exhaust duct up there and actually drop it out at the roof level. You could also potentially bring it out near a roof vent or near a gable vent. But I would prefer to see you put in a proper termination so that that exhaust goes straight outside and it won’t let any cold air come back on it. And that’s going to really do a good job of drawing out that attic space and making it as energy-efficient as possible.

    And it can also, by the way, prevent a lot of rot. I have seen those exhaust fans, Leslie, dump moisture right near, say, the plywood sheathing on a gable wall or even underneath the roof and you see that part of the plywood actually delaminate and rot and decay and even the rafter itself. So that moisture can do a lot of damage. You really need to manage it and get it out of that space.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it’s amazing what it can do.

    Alright. Next, Sam in Kentucky writes: “I have a 100-year-old house that was rewired 5 years ago. Now I have random on-and-off circuits and ceiling fixtures going on in one part of the house. Do you have any idea what’s causing this?”

    TOM: Uh, yeah. And that’s kind of frightening. If you’ve got a 100-year-old house, you probably originally had knob-and-tube wiring. And what I’ve seen time and time again, in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, is that even though people think that their home has been rewired, very often some of those circuits, especially the ones that are hardest to get to, are actually the original knob-and-tube wiring. And it can get pretty scary because that knob-and-tube wiring at this age is very, very brittle. It’s ungrounded – it’s not groundable – and it’s designed to be air-cooled. So that means if it’s running through a wall that has insulation in it, then it could be unsafe.

    So, you definitely need to get a very, very thorough electrical inspection done of your home to determine if you have any of those old circuits that are still live. If that’s the case, they’ve got to be taken out. But when you have ceiling fixtures going on and off and circuits doing all sorts of weird things, that’s an indication of a potentially unsafe situation that absolutely has to be addressed.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And, Sam, while you’re doing the electrical work, it’s really a good time to think about adding ground-fault circuit interrupters. And those go on the outlet themselves. They sort of trip if there’s something going on with the circuit. It keeps you and your family from getting shocked. And those should go in areas where there tends to be moisture, like on a kitchen sink area or in a bathroom, even in a garage. And those are hugely helpful.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that you’re enjoying a beautiful fall weekend working on or around your house. If you’ve got questions that we could not get to today, please call us at 888-MONEY-PIT and we will call you back the next time we are in the studio.

    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 2016 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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