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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We’re here to help you take on your next home improvement project. Inside or out, up or down, whether it’s kitchens, basements, bathrooms, crawlspaces, living rooms, décor, decks, patios, whatever is on your to-do list, here’s what you need to do to slide it over to ours: pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We can help you decide how to tackle that project, whether you can do it yourself or you need a pro, how you can save some money along the way. All great things for us to talk about this hour on The Money Pit.

    And just ahead, it’s summer-storm season, which is a great time to ask the question: how is your roof holding up? Summer is a good time to consider a roof replacement and that’s a job best left up to a pro, gravity being what it is if you know what I mean. So we’re going to tell you some tips to help you get the best new roof done for your house, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And did you struggle to stay comfortable last summer? Well, if you did, now is a great time for an A/C upgrade to improve the comfort and efficiency of your system. We’re going to have A/C-upgrade tips to help you keep cool without breaking the bank.

    TOM: And speaking of summer, once schools wrap up in the next couple of weeks, it is vacation season. We’re going to have some tips to help you keep your home secure because when you’re away, the burglars can play.

    But first, we want to hear from you. So give us a call, right now, 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. You’ll get the answer to your question. Plus, we are giving away an amazing prize today to one listener drawn at random.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got, new from RYOBI, the SMART TREK Self-Propelled Cordless Mower. Now, the RYOBI SMART TREK features gas-like power and a self-propelled technology that adapts to your walking speed. So it keeps up with you and doesn’t pull you along for the ride.

    It’s available at Home Depot and for $449 but we’ve got one to give away today on The Money Pit.

    TOM: So, give us a call right now. You must have a home improvement question and I mean a well thought-out, decent home improvement question, not like: “What color paint should I use? Black or white?” You know, let’s get serious about this. Give us a good question and we will toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat, 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Keith in Illinois is on the line. How can we help you today?

    KEITH: I have a one-and-a-half-story house that has a – on the second floor is the – well, the rooms are basically half height. They’ve got the – in the middle, they’re full height but on the edges, they’re not. That’s where the closets are at.

    During certain times of the year, the trusses tend to expand and it lifts the drywall in the edges and causes it to curl along the seams. And the builder wanted to put crown molding up there to prevent that. And what I had wanted to do, obviously, was prevent the action completely. It had been recommended before to add ventilation above the attic to get good airflow through there. The builder has said that by adding additional venting, which would be – I would consider the side vents. He said that would actually ruin the venting system that’s already in place, which is in the eaves.

    Do you have any additional recommendations for that?

    TOM: Well, a couple of things. First of all, truss lifts happen when the trusses shrink and they pull up in the middle of the room and that’s why you get the ceiling cracks, correct?

    KEITH: Yes.

    TOM: And the ventilation you have right now, do you have continuous soffit venting?

    KEITH: Yes.

    TOM: And do you have ridge venting down the peak of the roof?

    KEITH: Yes.

    TOM: Well, you’ve already got the best ventilation system out there. So as long as it’s working properly, it’s not blocked, there’s no point in putting additional ventilation in there.

    KEITH: OK.

    TOM: Now, is it possible for you to get above the trusses, down like right above the ceiling?

    KEITH: Well, I can’t get above that area. It’s boxed off and of course, they have it insulated but they do have the Styrofoam blocks that prevent the insulation from blocking the truss vent. No, unless I cut through the top of the roof, I cannot get above the ceiling there.

    TOM: Well, if the trusses were installed correctly – which, of course, isn’t going to help you – there are some L-shaped truss clips that they would have installed that could have prevented this problem, that help as the roof expands and contracts. The reason I asked you if you could get to them is because they may be able – you may be able to install them after the fact.

    But if you can’t get to them, then I’m afraid there’s really not an easy solution to this. If you were to add a second layer of drywall over what you have and you were very careful to make sure that the seams didn’t line up with the seams you have now, you may create a roof that’s strong enough – or a ceiling that’s strong enough – to not show cracks like it is. I would also glue the new layer to the old layer. But again, I would overlap those seams, so to speak. Does that make sense to you?

    KEITH: Yes. So they don’t line up.

    TOM: And that might make it strong enough. Because right now, there’s no strength in the seams. It’s just the paper.

    KEITH: Yeah.

    TOM: So that’s going to be the weakest part of the ceiling structure. If you were to put a second layer of drywall and glue across that, then I think you would have a really, really sturdy ceiling and it would be unlikely that it would continue to crack.

    KEITH: If I could sand on the – because I can get in the attic and get up to where the 2x4s come together in the truss. Would I be able to screw in a bracket there? That’s what you’re suggesting to basically strengthen that joint?

    TOM: Keith, if you can get on top of the drywall, so to speak, those trusses are going to be attached to interior walls in some places, correct?

    KEITH: Yes.

    TOM: So what you would do is you would have to detach them from the interior walls and you would put an L-clip in place of the nails. The clip is attached to one side; there’s a slot on the other. And that allows the truss to move up and down and it will relieve some of that uplift and cracking.

    Now, when you do that, you might see – over the next year, if the truss starts to try to move again, you may see some nail pops that occur. And if that’s the case, you want to punch them up and through to kind of relieve the pressure and then patch the drywall.

    But I do think by the time you go through all that work, that it might be an easier solution just to put a second layer of drywall on. Because your problem is primarily with the seams and that’s going to be the easiest way to fix that.

    KEITH: Yeah, it does sound like it. Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Eloise in North Carolina is dealing with some unwanted visitors: squirrels.

    Eloise, one tried to get into my screened-in porch last week because of a pizza box. I can only – and it scared the bejesus out of me.

    TOM: Must have been an Italian squirrel.

    LESLIE: Tell us. What’s going on?

    ELOISE: The squirrels have decided that they like the coziness of getting inside and down into the eaves of the porch rather than to nest in a tree. And they have started eating away at my house. I’ve noticed places where they’ve been gnawing, as well as the nests that are down in the eaves. How can I get rid of them?

    TOM: Well, there’s a couple of ways that you can deal with squirrels in the attic. It’s kind of like bats in your belfry: they drive you crazy. But there are some ways to try to manage these populations.

    First of all, you can trap and release. If you invested in a couple, or even one, Havahart traps – Havahart is a trap that has a door on it that lets the squirrel in, doesn’t harm them. Usually, you’ll use an apple or something like that as bait. We usually recommend you wire it to the frame of the trap, because they’ll figure it out and they’ll steal it and not get stuck in the trap. And then once they get stuck in the trap, you take the whole trap, stick it in the trunk of your car, drive out to a woodsy area, lift the door and off they will run happily to once again rejoin Mother Nature.

    Another thing that you can do is you could consider using a squirrel repellant. There are different types of repellants that are available. They usually are repellants that are designed to emulate a natural predator of squirrels, like fox or something of that nature. And you either spray them or you – sometimes they’re in a bag and you hang them in the area and that can deter them.

    But really, the first thing I would do is try to seal up any gaps that are allowing them to get into this attic space to begin with.

    ELOISE: Yeah, I have some homework to do. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Ah, you sure do. 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

    Well, now that summer-storm season is upon us, how is your roof holding up? You know, summer is really a great time to consider a roof replacement. And that really is a job that’s best left up to a pro. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to get the best job done for your house, in today’s Pro Project presented by, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And you are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show presented by You’re never going to have to worry about overpaying for a job again. Just use their True Cost Guide to see what others have paid for similar projects, then get matched with top-rated pros, read reviews, get quotes and book appointments, all for free, at

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we’ve got a fantastic giveaway for one lucky listener drawn at random this hour: the RYOBI 40-Volt Lithium 20-Inch SMART TREK Self-Propelled Cordless Mower.

    It’s got a lot of features but my favorite is the SMART TREK technology. Because I have used self-propelled mowers in the past and what always happens is you start out at the pace you think you want but then you get tired. And then the mower is pulling you along.

    LESLIE: It’s true.

    TOM: With SMART TREK, it basically matches your pace. So, well, you don’t have to follow the mower; the mower, essentially, follows you.

    This is worth 449 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call. We will toss your name in that Money Pit hard hat.

    LESLIE: Steven in Texas needs some help with a cabinet project. What can we do for you?

    STEVEN: Yes. So my wife has challenges with chemicals, like formaldehydes and glues and paints that they put in kitchen cabinets, the new ones. And I was wondering if you had any idea what a person could use that you could get away from those types of chemicals in cabinets.

    TOM: So you’re looking for a cabinet manufacturer that is sort of formaldehyde-free and VOC-free? Is that correct?

    STEVEN: Yeah, that’d be right. Yes.

    TOM: Steve, that’s an interesting question because when it comes to kitchen cabinets, so many of the products that go into kitchen cabinets have the potential to have VOCs or volatile organic compounds in them. Because you could start with the boards that are used to build the cabinets. If they’re a pressboard or a composite board of some sort, that may have formaldehyde in it, for example. Then you have the finishes and on and on and on.

    I think what you want to do is you want to look for kitchen cabinetry that is built to meet the new CARB 2 standard. That’s C-A-R-B – 2 standard. That stands for the California Air Resources Board and that’s a standard that measures the level of those types of toxins in cabinetry. And so if you search for kitchen cabinets that meet that standard, I think that’s a good place to start.

    STEVEN: Well, generally, I do like maybe some metal cabinets, you know. That would look nice in a kitchen. Would you have any ideas on something like that?

    TOM: Well, you’d still have finishes on metal cabinets that would have some of the same issues.

    STEVEN: Yeah.

    TOM: I haven’t seen metal cabinets in a kitchen in forever. The Gladiator folks at Whirlpool are doing a really good job these days with metal cabinetry for laundry rooms and utility areas and spaces like that. But I don’t know if that cabinet line is going to extend to the point where you’d have enough flexibility to do it in a kitchen.

    LESLIE: Well, I can share with you a vendor of a no-formaldehyde-added cabinetry. They’re actually beautiful, handmade, wooden cabinets. I’m not sure of their price point but I am familiar with the fact that they are not adding any chemicals to it. And they are very responsible in how they utilize the wood and the products that they use to make their cabinets. It’s a company out of Portland and their name is Neil Kelly. And it’s N-e-i-l-K-e-l-l-y.

    And then, there was a metal-cabinet manufacturer that I was familiar with a while ago. It’s Fillip Metal and it’s F-i-l-l-i-p. It’s sort of this new revival of some interesting, repurposed materials. And you might want to check them out, as well.

    STEVEN: OK. Well, thank you very much for the information. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, now that the summer-storm season is upon us, how is your roof holding up? Summer is a great time to consider a roof replacement. And that’s a job that’s best left up to a pro. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to get the best job done for your house, in today’s Pro Project presented by

    TOM: First up, your roof is pretty much the armor that protects your shelter from the elements. And nationally speaking, the average cost to install a new roof is about 7,600 bucks. But most folks are going to spend within a range of between 5,200 and 10,000 bucks. So, when it comes to maintaining your investment, the smartest money you could spend could be on this project, because it protects everything that’s important to you underneath.

    LESLIE: Now, when you go out and contact roofers for prices, it’s important to note that the cost is going to fluctuate depending on factors like size and pitch – now, pitch is the angle of the roof – and the shingles that you’re choosing for the project and whether the old roof is going to be removed or the new roof is installed on top of that.

    Now, we’re always going to recommend that you take the old roofing off because that new roof, when it goes on top of an older roof, first of all, it doesn’t look as good when it goes on the older roof. But it tends to deteriorate the life of the new roof more quickly. So we really tend to lean towards taking off that old roof for better performance of the new roof.

    TOM: Other things that you need to plan for might include work to repair or replace the gutters or sometimes the rotted fascia that’s behind the gutters, as well as repair any damaged roof sheathing. Now, that’s generally the plywood that’s under the roof. And the issue there is it only comes visible once the old shingles are removed. So to avoid surprises, you want to make sure that your roof estimate includes a cost for replacing any damaged sheathing that’s discovered after the roof is removed. Because this way, you’ll know what to expect.

    LESLIE: Now, lastly, you’re replacing your roof, so it’s also a great time to consider whether you’re going to upgrade, beyond those regular asphalt shingles that everybody’s kind of familiar with, to a more durable roofing material like maybe a metal roof.

    Metal roofs, for example, they’re beautiful. They are more expensive but they can last 50 to 100 years. I mean that is a long time, which really means that a metal roof might just be the last roof that the entire home will ever need in the lifetime of that home itself.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

    LESLIE: Pat in Louisiana is on the line and needs some help with a cleaning project. What can we do for you?

    PAT: We had our carpet cleaned about a year ago. And in this bedroom, we have a heavy, clear, plastic mat that goes underneath the computer chair.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: Well, recently, I moved it over a bit and I noticed that it was wet underneath it.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: There’s no leak in the roof; water hasn’t come in the house. So only thing that could be is a year ago, the water from the carpet-cleaning service got underneath this mat and it’s been there all this time.

    TOM: Hmm. OK.

    PAT: So, we cut out a large circle, like a 5-foot circle and got all the part out that was wet. So we’re going to have to replace the carpet and the pad. But on the concrete – the bare concrete – there are some spots of discoloration, so I don’t know if that’s mold or mildew. My question is: how do I clean that concrete before we have the new carpet installed?

    TOM: The concrete spots, if anything, are mineral-salt deposits; it’s not mold.

    PAT: OK.

    TOM: And so, it’s really cosmetic at this point. If you can wash it down with a vinegar-and-water solution, it’ll melt the mineral-salt deposits away.

    But the other thing that occurs to me is sometimes, concrete will draw moisture into a house. And so if anywhere near that area outside you’ve got water that’s ponding or collecting, it’s possible for the concrete to sort of draw that moisture up into the slab and across. And it may not have been able to evaporate where the pad was covering the concrete, which is why that area stayed damp, whereas the other area dried out. So there may be a different explanation as to why that stayed wet.

    One of the things that you might want to do, since you have the carpet pulled all the way back, is to paint the concrete. Paint that area with an epoxy paint. That will seal in that concrete and stop some of the evaporation if the moisture is being drawn through it and up into the floor surface.

    PAT: So, should I – we paint the whole room? We don’t have all of the carpet up yet; we just cut out the middle part.

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to take all the carpet up, then paint the whole floor. If you’re only going to take part of it up, then just paint what you can get to. But I would definitely paint the floor.

    PAT: OK.

    TOM: That’ll do it. Pat, 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

    Well, now is a great time for an air-conditioning upgrade to improve the comfort and the efficiency of the A/C at your home. We’re going to share some A/C-upgrade tips to help you keep cool without breaking the bank, coming up next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: New report out on the true cost of home ownership based on a survey of 1,000 homeowners.

    LESLIE: And it says expensive.

    TOM: Yeah. This is interesting. The average homeowner spends, according to this survey, 2,600 bucks on maintenance and repairs; 6,600 bucks on home improvements; and 2,600 bucks in property taxes; and 1,200 bucks on insurance.

    LESLIE: OK. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And I guess that’s why we call this show The Money Pit.

    LESLIE: Wait. That’s average?

    TOM: That’s average. Yes, average.

    LESLIE: The taxes and the insurance.

    TOM: I know. I thought that was ridiculous. A ridiculously low number.

    LESLIE: Where do those people live?

    TOM: Right. Yeah, exactly.

    LESLIE: Because that’s not …

    TOM: Those are not the taxes we pay here in the Northeast, I’ll tell you that.

    LESLIE: Holy moly. Because I think I want to move to there. Oh, my goodness. Holy moly.

    And 59 percent of homeowners are making renovations. They’re using some combination of credit cards, personal loans, home equity loans to fund those projects. And the biggest regret among homeowners is that the amount of maintenance their property requires – now 1 in 4 homeowners have less than 500 bucks saved in the event of a home repair emergency.

    And you know what, Tom? You truly never know what’s going to happen. You don’t know when it’s going to happen. And in a one-week period, my dishwasher broke – I’ve changed that gasket on that dishwasher three times; it is still shooting out water from the lower-left corner – my refrigerator has died – I mean it’s 17 years old, so who can complain? – and my hairdryer died the same day as the fridge.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: So, I know the hairdryer is small but …

    TOM: That must have been the worst part of it: the hairdryer dying.

    LESLIE: It was just – you don’t know what’s going to happen, so you’ve got to be prepared.

    TOM: Absolutely. Well, we can help you find ways to save on home maintenance costs. That’s definitely one of the things that we do. But help yourself first: give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you live in an older home that wasn’t built originally with central A/C or maybe you’ve got a system that’s past its life expectancy, now might be a really good time to invest in a new A/C.

    TOM: With improvements in efficiency, there’s no reason a new A/C system can’t leave you cool and your budget comfortable. Here to talk us through the options is This Old House plumbing-and-heating contractor Richard Trethewey.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hello, people. How are you?

    TOM: We are well. Looking to keep cool this summer. And first and foremost, central A/C is much more energy-efficient than room air conditioners, right?

    RICHARD: Well, it generally is if it’s done right. You know, not only are they more efficient than a room air conditioner but central air-conditioning systems are much more efficient than they were just 10 short years ago.

    TOM: So let’s start by talking about the basic types of air-conditioning systems, because there’s some new systems that are out there and combinations of systems that can be confusing.

    RICHARD: Well, the standard system that was always available to us was to have a cooling coil installed on the top of a gas or an oil furnace. You’ve all seen them. Down in your basement or in that garage is the furnace and that has a burner and a blower and that pushes air out through the ductwork.

    Now, at the very top of it, there’d be a coil that had refrigerant running through it. As the air went across it, it was cooled. It connected by refrigerant lines [that’s to outside] (ph). And that was the standard for many, many years.

    And so what they’ve done the last 10 years is they have insisted on higher efficiencies. It used to be that you could get away with a 10 SEER and now you need 13 SEER or now you need 15 SEER in different places. And that is a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.

    TOM: So that’s a way to kind of compare units to units and efficiency to efficiency.

    RICHARD: Right. Sort of like the energy ratings on appliances or the mileage for cars.

    TOM: Alright. So that’s the core system. Now, there’s another system out now called a “mini split-ductless.” How does that …?

    RICHARD: Right. And this really comes to us from Asia. And really, the rest of the planet does it this way. The first system I described was called “unitary.” It’s where you have one device and that sends heated or cooled air through the building.

    These splits are very easily zoned systems where you could have – in each room or a group of rooms, you could have the thing called a “high-wall cassette.” You’d see it on the wall and it has a way to have heating and cooling come out of these ducts. You’ve seen them all …

    LESLIE: It’s about 3 feet wide by 18 inches tall.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    LESLIE: They’re white. They mount high on the wall. There’s little vents on it.

    RICHARD: That’s right. Right.

    LESLIE: I mean they’re attractive and they kind of go away.

    RICHARD: And they’re thermostatic and they’re quiet.

    And so now you’ve got zonability (ph) where normally, with that unitary system, you had one thermostat, generally. It brought on the whole house for cooling and then you turn it back off again. This gives you the chance, as the sun tracks around the building – now there’s more load on the south side. That unit on the south side can come on and keep up with it, because you have multiple units inside the building.

    LESLIE: Now, there’s one unit on the interior, which is that split system.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    LESLIE: And then on the outside, you’ve got your condensing unit.

    RICHARD: Condenser. Right. Well, it used to be that you’d have to have one indoor unit matched up to one outdoor unit.

    LESLIE: To one outdoor.

    RICHARD: And in the old days, the outside units used to be so big. And they still are.

    LESLIE: Right.

    RICHARD: Now, with these splits, the units are much smaller and they can stack. They’re almost a small rectangle against the building. They can even hang on the wall brackets.

    LESLIE: And you can have more than one interior unit to one outside condensing unit.

    RICHARD: That’s right. But that’s the evolution. It’s just changing now. It used to be that it was always one to one.

    LESLIE: One to one.

    RICHARD: Now you can have one magic box, so to speak, outside and you can connect to three, four, five or six units inside.

    Now, you’d think that was enough but no, the next thing that has just shown up is a variation of this where you can have a single box outside. That box has a thing inside it called an “inverter.” And the inverter will not only allow you to have cooling to four, five, six different units inside the building but it actually is so efficient it can reverse itself. And in the cold, cold weather, down to about 5 degrees outside, it can find enough heat in the outside air to still heat the building.

    That’s really what people just can’t believe. “How do you get heat out of cold air in the winter?”

    TOM: That’s interesting. So that’s kind of like a heat-pump tech now.

    RICHARD: That’s right. It’s a heat pump that works. Heat pumps never did much once you got above the Mason-Dixon Line. But these units have really got some excitement. They actually are so efficient because they’re not just cycling on and off; they’re actually on all the time a little bit, just grabbing a little bit of heat all the time and putting it back in the building.

    TOM: That’s really cool.

    RICHARD: The other thing that’s great is now you’ve got some other choices. It used to be that you could only have that high-wall cassette inside the building. Now some of these units actually accept ductwork off the units. So you could still have, hidden away inside the building – comfortable. Another one is a picture frame so that a picture frame acts as the cooling and heating unit in the space.

    LESLIE: Oh, I’ve seen that one.

    RICHARD: It’s a – yeah, they’re really pretty cool. A lot of choices now and it’s an exciting time to be in this game.

    TOM: So, if you’re thinking about upgrading your existing system, maybe your outdoor compressor fails and you need to make a decision, what kinds of things are important to know before you actually do that work? Can you always go sort of part for part? Is it going to fit? Can you put a better, more efficient air conditioner, perhaps where you had one that was less efficient, and still have it work?

    RICHARD: Well, Tom and Leslie, this is really a minefield now because of regulation. You might have your inside unit and your outside unit. And the outside condenser, which is exposed to the elements, fails. Now you just want to get a new outdoor condensing unit. Well, the rules have changed about how efficient you have to put that unit is. And the rules have also changed about what type of refrigerant that you can use inside those.

    So, now, you might say, “I just want to replace the outdoor condensing unit.” Now, by mandate, you’re going to have to not only change the outdoor unit, you’re going to have to change the indoor unit to match it.

    LESLIE: So they speak to each other.

    RICHARD: And you’re going to have to change the refrigerant that goes through it. And that involves evacuating all the refrigerant out of the lines and it’s not a small deal anymore.

    TOM: There’s nothing much that you can save in this process. You’re pretty much going to be replacing everything.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    LESLIE: Now, when you close your air conditioning up for the season – if that’s something that you do; you do a turn-on and a turn-off – are they draining the lines at that point? Or it always has refrigerant in it?

    RICHARD: It should always have – the refrigerant you put in, if you don’t have a leak, it should be in there 25 years from now.


    RICHARD: The only thing I’ll tell you about winterizing is if you’re in a place where you’ve got some really dirty tree over that condenser, you should cover it so that all those pine needles or leaves don’t get down inside. Because what’s inside that condenser you don’t see are relatively delicate fins – aluminum fins – on a refrigerant coil. And if that is filled with all sorts of foreign objects, it’ll work really hard and it’ll ultimately fail because of it.

    TOM: Yeah. Richard, in terms of the cover, you’re not talking about sealing the unit as much as keeping tree debris out, are you?

    RICHARD: Well, you cannot confine the air inside of a condenser for it to operate. And so during the season, when it’s got to run, you’ve got to make sure the air can pass through and up and out of the condenser.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: But in the winter, in a place where you’ve got dirty trees, you might want to seal it up tight to keep those pine needles and leaves out. And be sure to pull it off before you start it in the season.

    TOM: Makes sense.

    Now, I want to finish up with one question about sizing. People think that bigger is always better when it comes to A/C systems. But it’s really not about getting the biggest system; it’s about getting one that’s designed to work properly with your house, right?

    RICHARD: Yeah. That’s the biggest mistake we all make in both the cooling and the heating world. We think bigger is better.

    Now, in the example of cooling, if I put in two times too big of a cooling unit, thermostat comes on, it now quickly tries to make the air cold and then it shuts off. It means that you haven’t run that air conditioner long enough to actually take any humidity out of the building. So now you end up with a cold, clammy space.

    LESLIE: And it feels colder.

    RICHARD: Absolutely. If we’ve done our job as heating-and-cooling professionals, that air-conditioning system, on the worst day of the year, would never shut off; it would just be on all the time. The fact is that’s never the case; it’s on, it’s off, it’s on and off because they are oversized. The same thing is in heating in reverse. If we have too big of a furnace or too big of a boiler, it’s going to cycle.

    Think about the example. If I had an automobile where I turned it on and off every two minutes, the engine would be harder pressed to run clean. The same thing with an air conditioner. If you cycle that compressor a million times an hour because it’s too big, it’s going to be short-lived.

    TOM: And because of all the power it takes to get it on, initially, you’re probably using more electricity.

    RICHARD: Absolutely. That’s right. It’s the take-offs and the landings that use all the fuel.

    TOM: That’s the important part.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much. I’m sure you’re making a lot of us more cool and comfortable this summer.

    RICHARD: Stay cool, you guys.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by American Standard.

    Just ahead, vacation season is happening in just a couple of weeks. We’re going to tell you what steps you need to take to make sure your home stays safe and secure, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to

    And while you’re online, don’t forget The Money Pit exists there. You can post your questions at but you’re always welcome to give us a call right here at 888-MONEY-PIT. And if you do get your question on the air in the hour, we’ve got an amazing giveaway that’s going out to one listener drawn at random. It is a perfect summer prize, you guys. It’s the RYOBI 40-Volt Lithium 20-Inch SMART TREK Self-Propelled Cordless Mower.

    I have to tell you, mowing the lawn has to be one of my most favorite chores. And this definitely makes it better because the SMART TREK technology – the mower is going to match your pace. So if you feel like getting through the project quickly and walking at a more quick pace, the mower is going to match that. If you’re a little tired from the work week and you’re going a little bit slower on that Saturday morning, the mower is going to match your pace instead of dragging you around the yard in the anticipation of the mower wanting to finish.

    TOM: And don’t worry about whether or not a cordless mower can do the job. This can do that and more. It’s got gas-like power and cordless convenience. It starts with the push of a button. So, basically, you get all the power and run time that you need to get the job done without the hassles of gas, oil, fumes, maintenance and noise. Your neighbors will love it.

    It’s worth 449 bucks at Home Depot and but we’ve got one to give away to a listener on today’s show. So pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement question, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, vacation season is now just a couple weeks away. And a good time to think about what steps you want to take to make sure your home stays safe and secure. So, here’s a few tips that can help you do just that.

    LESLIE: That’s right. First of all, you want to light it up. Now, a well-lit home is much less likely to be broken into, so you’ve got to make sure that your home’s exterior is fully illuminated. And you want some motion-detector spotlights built into it so that it comes on in the event that somebody is, you know, lurking around the property.

    TOM: Now, the next thing you want to do is make sure you’re keeping your landscape in shape. Because if you’ve got dense shrubs, they can create a hideout. So keep the hedges low, keep the plantings in your doors and windows neat and transparent.

    LESLIE: Also, you want to upgrade your door locks. Now, a door with only a handle lock is an easy mark for a break-in. Instead, you want to add a good-quality deadbolt at each entry point. Now, the best deadbolts require a key on the outside and then incorporate a thumb latch on the inside. You’ve also got to strengthen every installation by substituting long, heavy-duty screws for those ones that are given to you by the manufacturer. Because those are small, quite frankly, and they don’t do the job that the longer, heavy-duty screw will. This way, you’re going to be sure that every entry point is secured to the wood-frame door opening into the wall.

    TOM: And finally, think about getting a security system. Even the strongest, most well-lit homes can’t stop a thief that’s determined to get in. So, it’s a good time to think about all the technology that a security system can offer. There’s such a wide range of DIY and pro systems out there.

    Now, we’ve – ADT but there’s a lot of fine systems out there and it’s nice to know that the house is being watched, not only for break-ins but also for fire and carbon monoxide and floods and so on. So, think about those few improvements before you take off for vacation and make sure your house is in the same shape as it was when you left.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the best home service pros in your area. You can read reviews and book appointments all online.

    TOM: And just ahead, can your propane grill be converted to a gas grill? We’ll have the answer when The Money Pit continues.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we are presented by Never worry about overpaying for a job. Use the HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. It’s all for free at

    LESLIE: Alright. While you’re online, don’t forget to head on over to and you can post your question in the Community section. I’ve got one here from Laura.

    Now, Laura writes: “We bought a propane grill a year before selling our home and we only used it once. When we moved into our new home, we found a natural-gas line was available for a grill. Is there a way of getting this propane grill to work with natural gas? I mean we paid almost $400 for this grill and I’d hate to throw it out and then find out there was a solution.”

    TOM: Well, you can’t use natural gas in a propane grill because the burners are different, as is the flow of gas. And considering its age and the cost and hassle of converting it, I’d hate to tell you this but I think you’re best to chalk this one up to experience and pick up a new gas grill. Because it will be costly and a hassle to find exactly the right parts to do this conversion. So, that’s the best way to proceed.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But Laura, you know what? Don’t throw away the other grill. I am sure with Facebook Marketplace or any of those online resources, you can find somebody who’s willing to pay a good price for that grill, especially if it’s in such great condition like you say.

    Alright. Next up, I’ve got a post here from Veronica. Now, Veronica writes: “What can I do to repair spider vein-looking cracks around the ceramic bathtub drain? And what’s causing them?”

    TOM: Well, it’s basically the tub finish breaking down. The kind of glazing that’s in that finish is breaking down. And you do have a few options.

    Of course, you could replace the entire tub and that’s a major renovation because, believe me, the tub is the first thing that goes in a bathroom when it’s being built and it’s the last thing that comes out because it’s the biggest part of that space. You could reglaze the tub, which might be either a DIY project or one that’s done professionally. But it’s definitely not a long-term solution because those glazes will fail. I imagine the DIY versions will fail first, as well.

    Now, the other option is to use a tub insert. Now, a tub insert is basically custom-fit and inserts into the tub. It kind of makes it like a liner. It relines the entire surface. Now, that can actually reduce the size of the tub a little bit. And I’ve found that it’s just a little bit less expensive than completely removing and replacing the tub. Gee, I wonder why, right?

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM: And then, of course, there’s always option number four, which is learn to live with it. Nobody is going to see those hairline cracks except for you. So, that would probably be the least expensive option, although continually a bit of annoying.

    LESLIE: Ignore it. Just ignore it.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: You know, Veronica, I always find that the bathroom is the one place – you’re in there a lot. You probably decorate it one time and then fast forward a few years, you’re like, “Wow. It’s still exactly the same as it was when I first decorated it 15 years ago.” And I’m sort of in that phase. I’ve been in my house a very long time and I get to a point where I’m doing so much everywhere else but I’m ignoring the bathrooms.

    What I just did in the powder room that was sort of an instant upgrade that really was not expensive – I found some repositionable wallpaper, almost like a sheet of sticky-backed vinyl that had a great pattern on it. And I put that up in the powder room on the first floor. Took a little bit of patience putting it on but it transformed that space tremendously. And it really went from just plain to sort of glamorous. Now, I’m not saying do this in a bath where there’s showers and whatnot. But paint’s a great way to update that look, changing out your shower curtain, changing out your bath mat. Doing this seasonally, not so much the paint but the little accessories in there, is really going to freshen that look. And maybe it’ll take your mind off those cracks in the tub.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at Hey, thank you so much for spending this part of your weekend with us. If you’ve got questions about what’s going on in your home or a project you’re planning, remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 1-888-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 2019 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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