How to Make Your Home an Energy Star #1106171

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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: And what are you working on on this chilly November weekend? Are you getting your house ready for the holidays ahead? They’re about to be here. Just a couple more weeks and we’ll kick off that holiday season. Are you thinking about ways to maybe save some of those energy dollars you’re getting ready to put out every month, by stepping up the insulation or the heating system or the windows in your home? Are you looking ahead to the dark and dreary days of winter and you want to take on a decorating project? Give us a call because we are here to help, short of picking up the paintbrush and showing up at your door.

    We will do that from time to time, Leslie.

    LESLIE: We do, uninvited. We just show up and paint everything. Get rid of all those colors.

    TOM: We would love – exactly. We’d love to chat with you about what’s going on in your money pit. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

    Coming up this hour, these days there’s no shortage of noise about how to make your home energy-efficient. I mean every window, door or insulation advertisement I see promises to help me cut my heating costs, so much so that I’m pretty sure it’s going to be free. But speaking of which, what if there was a way to build a home that was already efficient? Well, there is and they’re called ENERGY STAR homes. But are they really worth the cost? We’ll find out, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And insulation is one of those building components that’s always out of sight and out of mind. That is until you open your energy bills. But how much insulation do you really need to make a difference? We’ll share that tip, coming up.

    TOM: And when it comes to saving water, do you ever wonder how water-efficient fixtures, like new toilets, can do the same job with less water? Well, we’re going to tell you about a new fixture from American Standard that not only performs, it actually cleans itself.

    LESLIE: And if you call in with your question now to 888-MONEY-PIT or post it on The Money Pit’s Community page, we’re going to toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat because we’re giving away the Mr Beams Home Safety and Home Security Lighting Bundle. That’s surely going to brighten your day.

    TOM: Yep. It includes the Security Light, the UltraBright Ceiling Light and the very cool MB360XT LED Spotlight. I know it’s cool because it’s got a cool name.

    It’s a package worth 109 bucks. Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community page at

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Lynn in Arkansas is on the line and needs some help with a chimney. What can we do for you?

    LYNN: Well, I have a 1980s brick fireplace. It is surrounded by library paneling, so the brick-surface area is just the hearth and a row of bricks on either side of the fireplace and perhaps two rows of bricks above the fireplace until it meets the mantel and the library paneling from there up.

    TOM: Right.

    LYNN: I want to give it a façade. And I thought about stucco-ing it or plaster of Paris or perhaps tiling it. I want to attempt to do this myself and I didn’t know if I was overstepping my boundaries.

    TOM: Leslie, I think that tiling is kind of a cool idea, because that would be very attractive on a fireplace. I like that a lot better than stucco-ing it. What do you think?

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. I even like – outside of tiling, you can face it with marble or a granite. And that can really look beautiful and you can do that in a fuller sheet. They almost do it in three pieces and that looks stunning. You can also do it in a faux stone, so it looks like a ledgestone or a river rock. That really gives it some characteristic. It’s gorgeous that way.

    LYNN: Could this go directly on top of the brick or would I need to prep the brick? I imagine I would need to fill the brick grout lines to make it a smooth finish, perhaps, before tiling?

    TOM: No, because the – well, the tile could pretty much go over that.

    LESLIE: Right. And your adhesive.

    TOM: It might be a little tricky. Yeah, you would adhere it right to the brick. It might be a little tricky on the grout but I don’t think you have to put any kind of sheathing over it or anything like that.

    LYNN: OK. Cool.

    LESLIE: I wouldn’t. I think your adhesive is going to be enough. The only instance is if you had a super-uneven surface. I had a very old fireplace that the surface was – it almost was like a coral but it was this old cement stucco that looked like coral, that was all uneven. And I put a cement board over that, just to give me a level playing field. But if you’ve got an even surface, I think that’s the way to go.

    LYNN: Wonderful. OK. I’m going to try this.

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

    LESLIE: Mike in Arkansas is on the line with a flooring question. What can we do for you?

    MIKE: OK. Yes, I decided to replace my carpet and ceramic tile throughout the house, with the exception of the bedrooms. Now, my – I went with luxury-vinyl plank. Now my – the bottoms of my door casings, I have about anywhere from a ¼-inch to almost an inch gap, especially the areas that I had to use backer board for the ceramic tile. So, how can I close that gap and make it look good?

    TOM: So, the trim, there’s a gap between the bottom of the trim and the top of the floor?

    MIKE: Yes.

    TOM: OK. There’s a type of accent piece for trim. It’s called a “plith block” – p-l-i-t-h. Plith block. And it’s kind of like a square block that you can put at the bottom of the casing and it’s a little bit wider than the casing. And it looks – if you do it right, it looks like it always was supposed to be there.

    You know what I mean, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. They’re really made to look like they were intentional, if you will.

    MIKE: And it’s called a “plith block.” A plith …

    TOM: Plith – p-l-i-t-h. Yeah, plith block.

    MIKE: OK. OK.

    TOM: Yeah. I think that’ll solve it for you.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Sometimes they’re called “rosettes.”

    MIKE: Alright. I will give that a try. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Gloria in Massachusetts is on the line and needs some help keeping things quiet. What can we do for you?

    GLORIA: I live in a condominium. There are three floors. I’m in the middle floor. The person over me has put wooden floors in throughout her condominium. I feel like I’m living in a bowling alley. She gets up at 5:00 every morning – she’s a schoolteacher – and leaves at 6:00. There’s no way that I can sleep beyond 5:00.

    TOM: Wow.

    GLORIA: I called MIT looking for some kind of guidance. They said they don’t know anything about soundproofing.

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    TOM: Well, that’s a little shocking but OK. But I wouldn’t imagine that MIT usually takes tech-support help calls like that. But we know a little bit about soundproofing, so I can give you a couple of ideas.

    GLORIA: Great.

    TOM: Now, because you’re in a condominium, I guess you probably need to get permission to do this. But there are two ways to soundproof the ceiling, that I can think of. So, one of which is that – well, in both cases, you’re going to have to add another layer of drywall on top of the one that’s there now.

    GLORIA: Alright.

    TOM: And there’s two ways to do this. There is a product called Green Glue, which is kind of like a silicone-looking greenish caulk. And you need an extraordinarily large amount of it. But basically, you apply it to the ceiling and the drywall gets put on top of that. And it creates sort of a damper that absorbs some of the sound.

    The easier way to do it is there is, actually, sound-resistant drywall. One of them is called QuietRock. And it’s sound-deadening sort of built into the drywall sheet. You’ll find that it’s very heavy but it’s pretty effective. And that would be installed in a traditional way, again, probably screwed right through into the current ceiling. And then – and of course, you have to tape and spackle all the joints. But where most people miss an opportunity for soundproofing is around the fixtures that come through the ceiling or the walls, if that’s the case. So in your case …

    GLORIA: I luckily have none.

    TOM: You have none. So you have no lights or anything that comes through that ceiling? It’s just a plain, flat ceiling?

    GLORIA: No. Uh-uh. Nope.

    TOM: Well, then it’s pretty easy, you know. And you could probably have a general contractor do this or a carpenter do this for you. But you’re going to have to re-drywall the ceiling with sound-resistant drywall, like QuietRock. And you’ll find that at Lowe’s.

    There’s another one that’s called Quiet Fix and there’s one called SoundBreak. And just keep in mind, though, that you’re not going to completely silence those heels from your upstairs schoolteacher that gets up at 5:00 in the morning. But it will be a lot better if you install this properly. So, I think the easiest thing to do would probably be to pick up at Lowe’s, since it’s so readily available, and then have a contractor install it.

    GLORIA: OK. I will do that.

    TOM: And keep in mind you’re going to have to tape all of the seams, like you normally would, around …

    LESLIE: Tape all the seams, paint the ceiling.

    TOM: Yeah, paint the ceiling. And between the walls and the ceiling, you may have to either tape that or use molding to cover that seam. So, it’s a bit of a project and you’re going to want to move all your furniture while all this goes on. But I think it’ll make a big difference for you, especially since you’re so sensitive to that sound. Maybe you’ll get some better sleep that way.

    GLORIA: Oh, wonderful.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But make sure that your board approves everything. Whoever you’ve got to ask, make sure they’re OK with it before you invest this.

    GLORIA: I will do that. Thank you so very, very much for your help.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. 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 What’s your how-to or your décor question? Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any project.

    When we return, having a garage can make winter a little easier but it might make it more expensive, too, if that part of your home isn’t properly weatherproofed. We’re going to help you seal up and save, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call in your home repair or home improvement question, right now, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. And if you do that, we’ll not only give you the answer to your question, we’re going to help shed some light on your home improvement project, as well. Because this hour, we’re giving away the Mr Beams Home Safety and Security Lighting Bundle, including the Security Light, UltraBright Ceiling Light and the very cool MB360XT LED Spotlight. It’s a package worth almost 110 bucks.

    Lots of cool stuff here, Leslie.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, the spotlight has a brighter light. I mean 200 lumens of motion-activated light. It’s got a reflector face and that unique reflector face creates a wider coverage area of about 600 square feet, to really light up those larger areas. It’s battery-powered and each set of alkaline batteries will provide about a year of light. That’s on average of coming on about 8 to 10 times a day.

    It’s wireless installation around the home and yard. Adds security. It really is a great package that you can do yourself and have all the light everywhere you need.

    TOM: Learn more at The Mr Beams Home Safety and Security Lighting Bundle is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at or call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Steve in Hawaii, aloha. Welcome to The Money Pit.

    STEVE: We’ve got this really nice travertine tile in our kitchen and some other parts of our home, too. But the kitchen is primarily the part that I’m bothered by. And you can see spots where things have spilled, drops of whatever. I think lemon juice happened – was one of the cases.

    You look at the tile, it’s very nice. But if you look at it from an angle, you can see the gloss except for these random spots, about the size of a nickel, that are no longer glossy where something has spilled and basically taken the gloss off. And I wonder if there’s some product or some treatment that I can do to the floor to restore the gloss to make it look like it’s a nice, new floor again or at least look better than how it looks now.

    TOM: Right. Well, certainly, marble does need a lot more maintenance than most other surfaces. Even though people think it’s really durable, it really does need cleaning and sealing and that sort of thing.

    Now, if you have a professional do it, they’re going to come in, they’re going to buff it and it’s going to look beautiful. But there are some do-it-yourself products. One of the most common manufacturers in that line is called Stone Care. And they have a number of cleaners and sealers and polishes that are designed for travertine. So I think that’s a good place to start.

    Take a look at I’m sure their products are pretty widely distributed. And I think you might find the solution there.

    STEVE: Do I want a sealer or a cleaner? What product am I looking for?

    TOM: Well, you have cleaners, you have polish and you have sealers, right? And it really depends on the condition of the marble. I would certainly start with a cleaner. And if you’re seeing a lot of where you think the pores are really opened up, then you might want to add a sealer and polish on top of that. But it’s kind of a multi-step process and it is a lot of work. And that’s why, a lot of times, these solid-stone – even countertops that folks get and think that it’s kind of a one-and-done thing, they’re just sorely disappointed, especially the first time they spill coffee or tomato juice and have a stain to deal with.

    STEVE: Yep. OK. We’ll give it a try. Thanks for your advice.

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

    Well, if you have a garage, it’s clearly the coldest room of the house. And even though it’s not designed to be heated, without a bit of extra insulation and sealing it, it can definitely impact your home’s energy efficiency and possibly lead to higher heating bills.

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

    TOM: Now, for starters, you want to stop getting those big drafts in from around the garage door. And the way to do that is to check out the weather-stripping at the sides and at the top of the door. And add a new gasket along the bottom that’s going to help seal out drafts, too.

    As a rule of thumb, if you close that door in the daytime and you see light coming through or in the nighttime, if the lights are on in the garage and you’re standing outside and you see light coming through, well, if the light’s coming through, the air’s coming through. So step up the weather-stripping and cut that draft – and stop those drafts from leaking into your house.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The door leading from the garage to your home should also get some attention. You want to make sure that it’s sealed and weather-stripped to prevent those air leaks. And next, you want to think about adding insulation to your garage’s ceiling. It’s going to make that space warmer to work in if a cold-weather project is in store.

    TOM: Builders are not usually required to insulate the – and drywall, actually, any walls that are not between the garage and the house. And frankly, the only reason they put drywall on the wall that’s between the garage and the house is because they’re required by fire code.

    So, that’s why, typically, in a newer house, you’re going to have one wall – that wall between the garage and the house – that’s insulated and covered with drywall and the rest of the walls are not. Now, if you want to spend any time in that garage in the winter, maybe do a craft project or something of that nature or work on your car, it’s a pretty smart idea to add insulation to the rest of those walls, seal that area around the garage door. And this way, if you do want to work in there and you maybe put in a portable heater, you’ve got half a chance of being comfortable and maybe not even seeing your breath. Doesn’t that sound nice?

    LESLIE: Oh, yes.

    TOM: So, think about fixing up that garage. It’s a smart project. It’s one that doesn’t cost a whole lot of money. It’ll definitely make a big difference.

    LESLIE: George in Texas is on the line with a driveway question. What can we do for you today?

    GEORGE: Well, I was wondering about some – found big cracks in my concrete driveway. There anything to do with that?

    TOM: So, are these new cracks, George? Or have they been there for a while?

    GEORGE: Yeah, they’ve been there for a while. The concrete’s probably 40 years old.

    TOM: OK. And how wide are the cracks? How far open are they?

    GEORGE: Maybe a ½-inch.

    TOM: Two things. Number one, you can repair these. And QUIKRETE makes a number of products that can help. But one thing that you want to do is, because the cracks are so wide, is you’re going to have to insert what’s called a “backer rod” in there first, which is like a very small foam tube. And you press that down until it’s about a ½-inch below the surface or maybe 3/8-inch below the surface. And then you can use a flowable urethane caulk on top of that. And the reason you’re putting the backer rod in there is so that you don’t lose a lot of the joint-sealing material down all the way down to the ground.

    And once you do this and if you do it right, then that seal will expand and contract and it won’t crack again, OK? So you stuff the crack with the backer rod and then you repair it with a urethane sealant.

    GEORGE: OK. What is it I’m putting first in the crack?

    TOM: It’s called a “backer rod.” It’s like a foam tube.

    GEORGE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: It’s like a Styrofoam tube. It comes in different diameters.

    LESLIE: To fill the gap.

    TOM: It’s just to fill the gap.

    GEORGE: I see. OK. And then all those smaller ones just don’t do that? Put the second item in there?

    TOM: And then you apply the flowable urethane, OK? And that ought to do it.

    GEORGE: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, insulation is one of those building components that’s always out of sight and out of mind. That is until you open your energy bills. But how much insulation do you really need to make a difference? Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House, will be here with tips, just ahead.

    TOM: And today’s edition of This Old House on The Money Pit is presented by Healthful Home. You can detect the worst molds with the Healthful Home 5-Minute Mold Test Kit. Then you can treat mold, bacteria and airborne allergens with their Fog-U Mold Aerosol. Find innovative Healthful Home solutions exclusively at Ace Hardware or

    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 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    You know, whether you’re buying or selling or just enjoying your home, we are here for you every step of the way. So call in your home décor or your home improvement question to 888-MONEY-PIT which is presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    LESLIE: Here’s something that bugs me. Now, in my house, this usually happens with the dishwasher. You open it up, things are dirty but it’s because I’ve blocked the little trap door that opens with the soap, with a pan or something.

    TOM: Right. Right.

    LESLIE: And that’s an easy fix. But sometimes, you open up the dishwasher and things are still dirty. And it’s not that the trap door for the soap is being blocked. Here’s something else that you can do that would help.

    Now, every dishwasher has a drain valve that should only open during the draining cycle of the machine. But if it gets clogged by debris, food particles, perhaps a straw that got left in there, anything – no one will judge; sometimes those things get blocked – it’s going to let the water out during the wash cycle, as well. So it’s not actually washing anything; it’s just rinsing out all that water.

    Now, here’s how you know if your drain valve is misbehaving. During the wash cycle, you have to really listen carefully. If you hear water flowing into the sink drain, that drain valve is clogged and it does need to be cleared. And that’s an easy fix.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a great tip and really an easy thing to kind of self-diagnose, as well.

    If you’ve got a question about a home improvement you’d like to take on or a fix that’s needed in your house, call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, no matter where you live, it’s hard to stay comfortable and keep your energy bills in check if you don’t have enough insulation in your attic. The truth is that most of us just don’t and adding more is almost always a cost-effective project.

    TOM: Yes. But as simple as it might seem to add insulation, it’s a project that many do-it-yourselfers just get wrong. With us to make sure that doesn’t happen to you is Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys.

    TOM: Now, insulation is one of those building components that’s always out of sight and out of mind. That is, of course, until you open your very first energy bill of the season. How much insulation do we need?

    KEVIN: Well, that’s a really good question and I think it is a great project for folks to do themselves but, as you say, they need to get it right. And how much you need is the first question. That depends on where you live.

    So in the warmer-weather states, you’re looking for something that’s like an R-38. And in the colder climates, that goes all the way up to an R-49. Now, these are metrics that come to us from ENERGY STAR. And that means – I mean think about this: R-38 to 49, that’s about 10 to 16 inches of fiberglass insulation batts.

    TOM: That’s a lot of insulation and I think most folks, just taking a look up in their attic, are just not going to see that.

    KEVIN: Well, they’re going to see that they might have insulation but the rule of thumb is, more insulation is generally better, so add it on.

    LESLIE: Now, Kevin, increasing the amount of insulation you have in the attic really is a very, very helpful project that you could have in your home. But is it a do-it-yourself project?

    KEVIN: Oh, it definitely is a do-it-yourself project, whether you’re increasing the amount of insulation or you’re just adding insulation for the first time. Imagine when you’re working up in the attic, if you don’t have anything in those bays between the ceiling joists, well, these batts are designed to lay right down into those bays, 16 inches on center. So you can fill in those bays and add insulation.

    If it’s already there, it’s a great idea to increase the amount of insulation. The only tip that I would say is that you want to lay the second layer of insulation perpendicular to the first and to those ceiling joists so that you cover up any of those gaps.

    LESLIE: And you want unfaced-batt insulation, correct?

    KEVIN: You do. Because that facing is actually a vapor retarder and you don’t want that in the wrong spot. So you want to make sure that you use unfaced insulation. Lay it across, cover up all those gaps and cracks and pile it up.

    TOM: Now, another thing to watch out for are the light fixtures, especially those high-hat sort of ceiling can lights that protrude up into the attic. If you don’t have the right kind and you cover them with insulation, it could cause an overheating situation.

    KEVIN: It can. And so there are basically two different kinds: those that are rated to be in contact with insulation and those that are not. You need to make sure that the cans or these recessed lights that you have up there are rated to be in contact. If you don’t know, err on the side of caution and don’t cover them up with insulation.

    TOM: Now, Kevin, besides putting a lot of insulation in an attic, we also have to have enough ventilation so we don’t make the attic either too hot or too moist in the wintertime or too hot in the summertime. So I think it’s important to be very cautious, despite the fact that you want a lot of insulation, to not block your ventilation, correct?

    KEVIN: Right. A lot of these attics are designed to be vented, as you say. And that means the air will come in through the soffit through a soffit vent, go up through the rafters and then out either a gable vent or a ridge vent. And if you block those, your roof’s not going to – your attic’s not going to perform like it should. So they have cardboard baffles that you can use and you actually put the baffles in there to make sure that the insulation doesn’t cut down on any of that venting.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, what if you have any sort of open areas or cracks where you might get some air leakage between your living spaces and your attic? How should you fill the …?

    KEVIN: Well, you want to fill all of the cracks as much as possible. You can do it using caulk or you can actually use expanding-foam insulation. You’ve seen these cans at the home center; you can actually use those to fill in those gaps and cracks. Because it’s not just about the R-value but it’s also about the movement of air. So air sealing is a great way to go.

    TOM: So this could be the areas where pipes come through the walls or wires come through the walls. All those little holes add up.

    KEVIN: They sure do add up.

    TOM: Now, what about the difference between blown-in and batt insulation? It seems that blown-in insulation is great because it absolutely covers everything and you don’t have to worry about positioning it as much. But because it covers everything, you can’t get to anything once you’ve installed it.

    KEVIN: Yeah. Blown-in insulation is great, as you say, because it covers all those nooks and crannies. But imagine if you have to go back to that place to do some work: you either have to fix a light or you want to run some new wires. Well, it’s not easy just to peel out of the way like a fiberglass batt.

    So if you think you’re going to need access to that space, fiberglass batts may be the way to go. And in terms of storage, if you want to use that space for storage, well, maybe you carve out a little area for storage and don’t insulate it with the blown-in but blow in around that area.

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

    KEVIN: Thank you for having me.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and some great articles on how you can improve the energy efficiency of your house and the insulation, as well, visit

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Gorilla Glue, for the toughest jobs on Planet Earth.

    Up next, when it comes to saving water, do you ever wonder if water-efficient fixtures, like new toilets, can do the same job with less water? Well, we’re going to tell you about a new fixture from American Standard that not only performs, it actually cleans itself. Yes, it actually does just that, eliminating the most dreaded cleaning job in any house. We’ll be back with that tip, next.

    Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Or should we say the home of the Weekend Warrior Sweepstakes going on, right now, at Lots of cool stuff ready to be given away in just a couple of weeks.

    LESLIE: I feel like I hear a lot of people going, “What? There’s a contest? What’s going on?”

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    First prize up for grabs – we’ve got two of them – is the Husky 46-Inch 9-Drawer Mobile Workbench. It’s got a solid-wood top and it is filled with a 268-piece Husky Mechanics Tool Set. You’re like, “A mechanics tool set? I’m not a mechanic.” Let me tell you, you will use them all day long.

    TOM: And then we’ve got 10 second-place prizes: the RYOBI 18-Volt One+ Drill Driver Combo. It’s the Drill Driver, plus the Impact Driver Kit. And we’ve got 27 third-place prizes, which is our book. Hey, we’ll help you out any way we can. Get the details, enter now at You can even increase your chances of winning by entering once a day and then sharing the sweeps with your friends online, right now, at

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking about a bath remodel and wondering if the all-new, water-saving fixtures and faucets can do the same job as those water guzzlers you grew up with, I am happy to say they can. But it’s not just that. Today’s high-tech fixtures have capabilities that we’ve never had before.

    And truly, one of my favorites, especially being the mom of two young boys who seem to have a lot of issues with the bathroom, is the new VorMax Plus Toilet from American Standard. Because it not only performs, it eliminates one of my certainly most hated jobs in the house, that I feel like everybody will agree with me is cleaning the toilet. And this toilet cleans itself.

    TOM: Yep. And it’s designed to not only clean but freshen the toilet with every flush. The toilet has these VorMax jets, which are up under the rim. And they blast away the grime when you flush. Now, you combine that with what’s called the VorMax Plus FreshInfuser and that releases Lysol cleaner into the bowl that’s going to keep it clean and smelling fresh flush after flush. Great technology that is really making a toilet perform better than we’ve ever seen before.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what the best part about that FreshInfuser is is that it’s hidden in a compartment. It’s really easy to access, so there’s nothing hanging inside of the bowl itself.

    Now, when you combine these two together, you really do get a forceful VorMax jetted scrub. And that’s going to allow the Lysol cleaner to scrub the entire bowl, including under the rim where the dirt gets trapped and hides. Now, if it could only teach my children to aim better, thumbs up.

    TOM: That’s next, right?

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM: That’s why they say the VorMax Plus is a self-cleaning toilet that freshens with every flush. Check it out at

    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 1,200-square-foot shop. And every time it rains here in Seattle, which is every other day …

    TOM: Yeah, frequently.

    ROB: And at daylight savings, 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, you know, 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 carve out an area about 12 to 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: Just ahead, older homes have character but they also have hazards. We’re going to lay out what you need to do if your old home has asbestos, next.

    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, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by, where you can find top-rated home pros you can trust.

    LESLIE: Alright. But you’ve got two pros standing by right now to help you out. And we’re going to jump into a post from Dan who writes: “I recently went into a bidding war on a century-old home and won. Only after did I discover that the home has asbestos siding. Should I have purchased a home in this day and age that has asbestos siding?”

    Dan, I had asbestos siding on my house until, what, four years ago? Five years ago? As long as it’s solid and not crumbling – I mean it’s encapsulated in a cement form in those shingles. So as long as it’s intact, you’re OK. The issue is when you want to take it off.

    TOM: Whoops.

    LESLIE: Be prepared to pay an arm and a leg and watch somebody walk around with some sort of air meter and wonder, “What the heck is going on?”

    TOM: I’ve got to say, with the asbestos siding, I think it’s a little bit of a scam. Because, like you say, it’s inside of a cement binder, right?

    Now, if you have cement in – I’m sorry, if you have asbestos insulation inside your house, like around your heating pipes or maybe around your ducts, completely different story.

    LESLIE: Different story.

    TOM: That’s friable or it’s loose …

    LESLIE: Because that kind of dries out and you’ll get it into the air. And those particulates are so tiny that I don’t even think it lands on the grown until like days.

    TOM: So the good news is that asbestos never wears out. Asbestos siding never wears out and it’s not organic. It holds paint for 10 years compared to 5, right?

    LESLIE: Forever.

    TOM: So, if you don’t mind the look of it, you know, why not just keep it on your house? But if you – like Leslie said, if you want to get rid of it, that’s when all the regulations come in and all the rules come in. And when you pull it off your house, you’re going to have to properly bag it. It’s got to be taken to a certain type of asbestos-disposal facility.

    LESLIE: I have a certificate that tells me my asbestos is somewhere in Pennsylvania. Those poor people in Pennsylvania. But I have this paperwork that shows it’s been wrapped and cared for. And truly, the setup for it, there was a little hazmat village with buildings and tents and a closed dumpster. You’ve never seen anything so meticulous. And then the funniest thing was that there’d be a gentleman in a hazmat suit who removed his ventilator breathing thing to smoke a cigarette, as he took off the siding. And I’m like, “Is it really so bad?” It was interesting.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: Whole interesting process.

    TOM: So, that’s the deal with that.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, I’ve got a post from Frank here who writes: “Do you know of any options in accessible patio doors? My daughter is in a wheelchair and I need to replace the sliding-glass door from the house to the patio deck. I need an accessible patio door that’s smooth at the bottom so my daughter can use it without the trauma of rolling over the sill.”

    TOM: Yeah, they actually make a door for that and they’re known as low-threshold, accessible patio doors. They’re designed for that purpose. And instead of the traditional sliding patio door, they’re available in a more accessible, even hinged patio-door format.

    I know that Therma-Tru makes that type of door. They call it a “public-access sill option.” And it’s a hinged patio door. So, whereas you may slide it back and forth to go in and out, when someone with a wheelchair has to access it, it actually can open like a hinge and makes it easier to kind of slide over. There still has to be a little bit of a slope there because, otherwise, you’re going to have water running under the door. But it’s pretty minimal and it’s designed to easily move – have the wheelchair wheels to easily move sort of over top of it.

    So take a look at the Therma-Tru public-access sill options. I think that’s what you’re looking for, Frank.

    LESLIE: That should do the trick, Frank. Then everybody can enjoy the patio together.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. If you could not get through, we apologize. But you can call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

    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.)

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