Positive Energy Homes #1120172
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with improvements to your home, whether they’re décor, home improvement, maintenance, remodeling. Whatever is on your project list, we’d love to chat about it at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We’re just rolling past that now and heading straight into the Christmas season. And if you’ve got some projects that you’re trying to tackle, to get done around your house before the next horde of relatives show up, give us a call. Great things to talk about here at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on the program this hour, if you’ve got a plan for keeping your family safe during extreme weather, that is great. But have you thought about how to keep your finances safe and accessible when you need them most? We’re going to have some advice on how to tackle that challenge, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Is it stuffing your mattress with $100 bills?
TOM: Probably not the wisest financial advice.
LESLIE: Alright, alright. I feel like that’s what my grandma does.
TOM: Probably right.
LESLIE: It’s very true. She has – I swear to God she gives these $100 bills that are the old $100 bills, on holidays. And we’re all like, “Where did this come from?” So you never know. She could be onto something.
Plus, this hour, guys, how cool would it be if your house was so energy-efficient, it not only made enough of its own electricity to power the entire home, it also makes so much extra that you could either sell it back to the utility company or better yet, donate it to low-income neighbors who are in need to help power their homes? That’s a great idea.
TOM: Well, we’re going to tell you about a guy who did just that and how you can create a positive-energy home, too.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, when you vacuum your house, do you find that you are Pig-Pen from the Peanuts series, you know, leaving a cloud of dust behind? Well, if you are, your vacuum could be losing suction due to a clogged filter or even simply a full vacuum bag. We’re going to tell you how to make sure that all of that dirt isn’t escaping out the back end of your machine as fast as you’re scooping it up.
TOM: So give us a call right now. We’re here to help you with your how-to and décor questions at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Larry in Ohio is on the line with a heating question. How can we help you?
LARRY: Yes. I’ve got a house – it’s 6,000 square foot – and they divided the utilities up into two separate houses. And right now, I have a hot-water tank that we use all the time and we have a hot-water tank that sits on the side that the kitchen is on, that is only used for the dishwasher.
And I’m wondering, would I be better off to get me a tankless hot-water tank or just deal with the electric? I’ve got an electric, 50-gallon one. I don’t know which one would be more cost-efficient.
TOM: So, the only thing that you’re using that water heater for, on that side of the house, is the dishwasher? And that’s a 50-gallon water heater?
LARRY: But like I say, this house was actually set up to be a bed and breakfast.
TOM: If the only thing that water heater is serving is the dishwasher and there’s no way to get that dishwasher fed off of the other water heater, you just need a very small water heater for that dishwasher and I mean like a 20-gallon electric or something like that. Really small. Because there’s really not much water that it needs to heat and it would be foolish to have it heating 50 gallons, 40 gallons of water, 24/7, when you really don’t need it except to wash dishes and I presume, to run the kitchen sink.
So a very small electric water heater, perhaps even on a timer so that it only kicks on maybe in the evening hours when you’re using that dishwasher, would be the smart thing to do there and the least expensive way to both install the new water heater and to run the new water heater. OK?
LARRY: OK. Actually, there’s two bathrooms that are also hooked to this but it’s just the idea right now – we’re not using it. We’ve got two bathrooms on the other side of the house, too.
TOM: OK. Well, that’s different. That’s different. If you have two bathrooms – full bathrooms?
LARRY: Yes. Full bathrooms.
TOM: Well, then, OK, so that’s different. If there’s a full – two full bathrooms – I’d asked you if it was just the dishwasher and you said, “Yes.” But if it’s two full bathrooms on it, then you do need a larger water heater. And again, I would probably recommend – if you’re not using it that often, I’d probably recommend an electric water heater, in that situation, on a timer.
TOM: But you’ll probably need more like a 40-gallon.
LARRY: Actually, on the tankless ones, I’ve noticed the different amount of water per minute.
TOM: Yeah, well – but you – do you have gas? Do you have natural gas?
LARRY: I’ve got propane.
TOM: You have propane? Well, you could use a tankless water heater. The installation cost will be a lot higher. It does deliver you 24-7 endless supplies of hot water. Except in that side of the house, again, you’re not really using those bathrooms that much, so that’s not as big of a concern to you.
That’s why I’m suggesting a minimum, inexpensive electric water heater for that. At least you’ll maintain your home value. Because if you didn’t have adequate – an adequate water heater to supply those two bathrooms plus the dishwasher, your home value would suffer. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you put in a $1,500 tankless, because I just don’t think it’s going to be cost effective for you.
LARRY: OK. That was my big question right there: would it be cost-effective (ph)?
TOM: Alright, Larry. Hope that helps. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Cynthia from South Dakota on the line who’s got a question about a firewall. Tell us what you’re working on.
CYNTHIA: I have an old house and I’ve been ripping out the plaster walls. And I found, along this one wall – see, the whole entire house is this pretty durable and tough plaster-board stuff. And I was wondering if that is a firewall, because that seems to be where all the cold-air returns and stuff are and if I should or should not rip it out. And if I do rip it out, is there a certain kind of drywall that I should use there?
TOM: Where is this wall located exactly?
CYNTHIA: It could have been on the outside of the house at one point but it’s under the furnace.
TOM: Well, first of all, the only place that you typically would have a firewall – in other words, a fire-rated wall with a certain rating – is between the garage and the house. All the other walls and ceilings inside the homes are – usually have traditional, ½-inch drywall. If it’s an exterior – an interior/exterior wall – an inside surface of an exterior wall, like a garage wall, then you would use a 5/8-inch-thick, fire-rated drywall. But all of the other places in the house, you’d have regular plaster board – I’m sorry, regular drywall.
CYNTHIA: OK. Have you ever seen this plaster board before?
TOM: Well, sure. Now, how old is the house?
CYNTHIA: I believe it was built in 1896?
TOM: See, there’s different stages of wall construction. In 1896, you would have had something called “wood lath,” so there would be wood strips on the wall and then plaster put on top of that.
CYNTHIA: Yep. That’s on most of the walls. But this one particular wall – which could have been an outside wall at one point; I’m not sure exactly – it’s like in 2-foot strips.
TOM: Yeah, OK. So that’s a later addition. And what they did with that is when they stopped using wood lath, they started using rock lath or – you would think of sheetrock in those 2-foot-wide strips? They put that on and then covered that with wet plaster. So that’s just a more modern version of the way walls were constructed. So it went from wood lath to rock lath to sheetrock. That’s, essentially, the progression of wall construction over, roughly, the last hundred years.
CYNTHIA: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: A little lesson on building history. Hope that clears it up for you.
CYNTHIA: Yeah. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. 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. What projects are on your to-do list? We would love to help. Call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post it to The Money Pit’s Community page.
TOM: Coming up, if a weather emergency happens, you’ve got a lot to take care of, so it’s smart to make sure your money can take care of itself. We’ve got some high- and low-tech ways to protect your assets, your liquid cash and your bill-paying when severe weather strikes, next.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Hey, with all the cooking that’s going on these days for the holidays, it truly is the busiest time of year. Nope, not for you; it’s for the plumbers, you guys. And one of those projects that they are frequently tackling is a garbage disposer that’s just stopped working.
TOM: Well, if you’ve already fished the spoon out of the disposer or whatever else caused the jam but now the disposal won’t turn on, here’s a quick tip. Don’t grind your teeth; it’s probably just an automatic shut-off. And these are reset buttons that you’ll find located at the bottom of the unit.
After you safely remove anything that’s stuck inside, you want to make sure the power is off and then press the reset button and then turn the power back on. I suspect it will magically begin to work once again. A lot of folks don’t realize that these disposers do have sort of a miniature circuit breaker built into them via that reset button. And once you reset it, you’re good to go again.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Kurt in North Carolina on the line who’s working on a restoration. Tell us about the project.
KURT: So I’ve got 2×6 floor joists spanning 15 feet. And I’d like to know if I rip some ¾-inch plywood and sister it up against the 2x6s and glue and screw it, if that would be sufficient. My crawlspace has six vents under the floor and I want to seal them up. I read it doesn’t need cross-ventilation. It’s kind of old-school. And I put six-mil poly on the ground. Your thoughts, please.
TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, in terms of beefing up the floor joists, sistering the floor joists by doubling them – I don’t necessarily think I would use plywood on them; I would double them.
KURT: Would it be flimsy?
TOM: Well, I mean it may not be flimsy but the thing is, if you want to sister a floor joist and help support it, you need to go from bearing point to bearing point. So if it’s going from a girder to an exterior wall, the sister beam has to go the same length.
TOM: You know, another thing that you could do, Kurt, is you could run another girder, at the midpoint of that 15 feet, from end to end. Now, it doesn’t necessarily have to be – has to be as strong as the main girder for the house, because you’re really just taking the flex out of it. So if you poured a small footing underneath it and just got something in there to kind of stiffen the floor, that would take the bounce out.
KURT: Right. Yeah, I thought about that on the main floor but my second story, I didn’t want to – if I put a glulam in, I only have 7 feet, 5 inches to ceiling height.
TOM: I understand. So, doubling them is a solution, as well as using a mid-span girder.
KURT: Alright, sir. I appreciate the information.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kurt. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jackie in Colorado on the line who’s dealing with some issues from a sink drain. What’s going on? Stuff is only supposed to go down, right?
JACKIE: Yeah, it’s supposed to. The only time I have trouble with it is when I use my washing machine. It’s connected to the same line as my sink. And the old-timers put it out in an open well. And so, the only time I have trouble with is when the washing machine drains, then it bubbles back into my sink. And then when the water finally goes out, I get this gray-water smell.
TOM: So, you have a gray-water drain when you say it goes to a well. You don’t mean a drinking well; you mean a gray-water well.
JACKIE: It’s just an old well that they dug and they used it to – as a drain. It’s not a septic tank.
TOM: OK. So, yeah, it’s called a “gray-water drain.” And so, you’re getting odor back in. So the reason you’re getting odor is because you need an additional trap in the system. Before that line goes out to the “well,” that you’re calling it, there should be an additional trap.
Now, the trap is a U-shaped pipe, the same that you might see under your sink. And the idea of the trap is it lets the water drain one way but stops the gases – the odor that you’re getting – from coming back in. And so, if they didn’t put a trap in that line, that’s why you’re getting the odor.
The fact that you have the washing machine and the sink on the same line is not exactly legal but it’s also not unusual. And so, I’m not going to tell you to change that but you absolutely do need a trap in there. Otherwise, who knows what kind of gases you’re going to bring back in from the soil? And if you do that, that should solve that problem once and for all. OK, Jackie?
JACKIE: OK. Alright. See if I can get that done then.
TOM: Alright, Jackie. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s truly been a rough year for storms here in the United States and it got us thinking. We’re vulnerable in emergency-weather situations and most of us take steps to protect our homes and our families but what about protecting our money? Making sure that your money and important documents also get through the storm really does take some planning, as well.
TOM: It does. So start by keeping your financial records and documents in one safe place. There are, of course, a wide variety of safes and lock boxes that are out there for protecting against heat and water. And they come small enough to be carried out of your home in a hurry.
Now, if those records include electronic files, you need to make sure you’re buying the right type of lock box: one that stays below 150 degrees even in a fire. Otherwise the electronics will be ruined. So if you’ve got files on USB sticks or CDs or DVDs, you want to make sure that you’re using a lock box that is designed for electronic records.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s really important to consider, as well. Now, the other thing is I think so much are doing a lot of our banking online. And if you’re not, those smartphone apps really can help you bank when you don’t have any access to your filing cabinet or your computer. So go ahead and download any apps for your bank, your lenders, business partners, whatever, so that those payments can go on uninterrupted and so your crucial financial information can be easily accessed in case of a storm or an emergency.
TOM: And while you’re at it, you might want to download FEMA’s phone app. This app is actually really well done. I was very impressed by it. And it can update you on emergency response and recovery in your area. It delivers alerts from the National Weather Service, so you always know what the weather is in your exact location.
There’s also a disaster-reporter feature that lets you upload and share photos of damage and the recovery effort. And it’s got maps of disaster resources. It will tell you where you can get open shelters, where the recovery centers are, things like that. And it even allows you to easily apply for disaster assistance right from the app. So that is on the FEMA.gov website, so check it out.
LESLIE: William in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
WILLIAM: Well, I’ve got a wood stove in my living room. And I have my stovepipe coming out the back, through an elbow, going straight up about 5 or 6 feet and then got another 90-degree elbow. And it’s going through the wall, through an insulated piece of stovepipe, to the outside and then another 90-degree bend and going up about 4 or 5 feet to my – to the cap (inaudible).
TOM: You have three 90-degree bends in the wood-stove pipe?
WILLIAM: One, two – yeah, got three in it. And what’s happening is right behind my wood stove, I have a big, 3×6-foot plate-glass window that’s framed in. And we’re getting some leakage of black creosote liquid. It’s condensation or water of some type. It’s got creosote in it. It is actually dripping down and running down the inside of the frame of the window.
So the leak is in the – is inside the wall somewhere. And I have sealed and done everything that I possibly can and I don’t know how to stop this leak or what could be causing it or where to go from this point.
TOM: So, does the pipe exit the wall above the window?
WILLIAM: Yes, it does. Just above the window, to the left.
TOM: Alright. Well, see, here’s what could be happening. First of all, I really don’t like the fact that you’ve got three 90-degree bends in this stovepipe. That’s a lot of resistance to kind of overcome. And also, with the three 90-degree bends, that pipe has lots of time to cool. And so the cooler the pipe gets, the more condensation you get. As the condensation forms inside the pipe, it basically washes down the pipe, comes out the seams of the pipe and carries away all of the charcoal debris that’s inside the pipe with it. So that’s probably the source.
And I guess what I would be more tempted to do – it’s not so much the kind of thing where you’re finding a leak. I’d be more tempted to replace my stovepipe with at least a double-wall pipe that was insulated. Because then you’re not going to have that difference in temperature and it will – you will never have any of those kinds of condensation issues. And it’ll be a lot safer, too.
My concern with that pipe is it’s really hard to clean and every time you have a 90-degree bend in a pipe, William, that’s equivalent, resistance-wise, to 20 foot of straight pipe.
WILLIAM: Wow. So I might be better off just running that thing straight up through the roof rather than taking it out the side of the house.
TOM: That’s the best thing to do, with an insulated pipe – a triple-walled, insulated pipe – straight up through the roof and out, without all those bends. Just make sure you’re following the National Fire Protection Association guidelines for this, get it inspected. And I think you’re going to be a lot happier with it.
William, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, how cool would it be if your house was so energy-efficient, it not only made enough of its own electricity to power the entire home but it also makes so much extra you could either sell that back to the utility company or better yet, donate it to low-income neighbors in need?
TOM: We’re going to introduce you to a guy who did just that and learn how you can create your own positive-energy home, after this.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. You know, imagine living in a home that was so energy-efficient, it not only made all the energy it needs to consume, it actually makes more and enables you to donate the excess to those in need. Well, for many that see large energy bills every month, that might sound like a distant dream. But it’s all possible and good for both you, your community and the environment with a positive-energy home.
TOM: And that’s exactly what our next guest did for his family. John Livermore is the founder of Healthy Home Healthy Planet. And he educates homeowners about how they can turn their homes into mini-power plants that not only zero out energy bills but give back to the community. as well.
JOHN: Thanks for having me, Tom. Thank you, Leslie.
TOM: You’ve pretty much invented the term “positive-energy home.” I think if we’re familiar with this term at all, typically we hear about zero-energy homes that their goal is to really just make enough so that they don’t have to buy more from the utility companies. But you’ve now found a way to take that a step further and you’ve actually constructed the very first positive-energy home in the state of Massachusetts. How did you get started with this?
JOHN: Well, really, a few years ago I was a single dad with two young daughters and I started to think about what kind of world we’re leaving to our children and my personal responsibility for that world. And I realized then that I needed to really take some significant action.
So I set out on this journey to renovate our home to eliminate our home’s carbon footprint and we ended up turning our home into a positive-energy producer and became, as you said, the first positive-energy renovated home in the state of Massachusetts. And really, the home just simply creates more energy than it uses on an annual basis.
LESLIE: That’s really interesting. What do you do with all that extra energy? Are you banking it for future use in the house? Or truly, can you give it out to the community?
JOHN: Well, we actually have some amazing non-energy benefits. One of those is that we are able to give back to the community. So, on Earth Day, we were able to donate $1,000 worth of our banked electricity to two families that were struggling to pay their own electric bills.
TOM: Now, John, we’ve often heard that if you make more energy than you need – such as with solar panels, for example – that you could “sell” the energy back to the utility company. Is that still possible? Or is this banking option the only way to really distribute that extra energy?
JOHN: So, right now in Massachusetts and in a lot of states around the country, there’s what’s called “net metering.” So, when you produce more energy than you’re using in your house, you can feed those electrons back into the grid and then they credit you, one for one, for that electricity that you’ve fed back to the grid. So, you don’t get paid for it but you do bank it and then you can decide what you want to do with it, whether you want to donate it to a family in need or your neighbor. So you have options.
TOM: That’s so cool. Theoretically, Leslie, you could make the meter spin backwards.
LESLIE: It really is amazing and I think a lot of homeowners, I know myself included, are thinking, “This really sounds like a dream come true,” because power is so expensive. Everybody knows this. Now, as a homeowner, where do you start? Because it definitely could seem overwhelming to just sort of jump right in.
JOHN: Sure. Well, there’s a thing – what gets measured gets managed. So if you ask someone on the street what their home’s carbon footprint is, they’ll probably look at you with a blank stare, because we don’t normally measure this stuff. So, really important first step is to quantify how much carbon pollution our home is producing so we have a baseline to work from. Our website, HealthyHomeHealthyPlanet.org, has several carbon-footprint calculators and folks can take just a few minutes, enter some basic information and the calculator will tell them how much carbon pollution their home is emitting every year.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely.
We’re talking to John Livermore. He constructed the very first positive-energy home in the state of Massachusetts, essentially constructing a building – or renovating a building, I should say – that uses less energy than it actually makes. And therefore, he’s able to bank that extra energy and in his case, donate it to families that were in need. Other options include metering it right back to the utility company and getting a credit for all that extra energy.
Now, John, what kinds of improvements did you make to your house? What were the most important ones and what do you tell folks that are trying to decide how to prioritize these different types of improvements?
JOHN: Sure. Well, the main things that we did were we super insulated the walls, attic and basement. We upgraded our windows and installed a solar-electric system and also a solar hot-water system. And yeah, Tom, there’s so many products available – options available – to consumers to improve their energy performance of their homes. But we really need to understand how these products and systems interact with one another in the home.
So instead of just making decisions based on our gut feelings, I think we really need to engage the assistance of a third-party energy professional, who’s well versed in residential-building science. So, you really want to hire a certified home energy rater, or a HERS rater, who will do an onsite consultation, produce a report for you listing recommended energy improvements and then prioritizing them by return on investment.
TOM: Can the raters also suggest to you that perhaps your home is a good candidate for solar energy or wind energy or any other type of alternative-energy system that you should consider?
JOHN: They can absolutely do that and they should be doing that.
TOM: Now, if you wanted to hire a professional, John, to kind of help you with this process, aside from the rater itself, are there contractors that specialize in building these positive-energy homes now? Is it starting to become more popular? Because I find a lot of contractors don’t always understand why they’re putting the insulation down. They just know they’re supposed to do it.
JOHN: Yeah, absolutely. There are more and more professionals who are understanding what a zero-energy or a positive-energy home is and how to create them. And my advice to listeners is to really hire a professional with some experience, who’s done this before. And a really useful online resource for finding an experienced professional is Zero Energy Project. Also, you want to be sure to tap into all federal- and state-tax incentives and utility rebates to reduce your project cost.
LESLIE: Now, John, what have been some of the most valuable lessons that you’ve learned in this entire process of taking on this positive-energy home?
JOHN: Well, that’s a great question, Leslie. I say sometimes when you’re out on the cutting edge, you get cut. But we were able to minimize the bleeding with good pre-renovation planning. But still, there are three things that we would do differently if we were doing the project again today. We decided not to take the outside siding off, because we didn’t want to dump it into the landfill. But that made attaching the outside wall trusses a lot more challenging, so we would’ve done that differently.
We would definitely use ductless, mini-split heat-pump technology. Today, our new mantra is: “Electrify end uses and decarbonize the electric grid.” Or in other use – in other words, use electricity for all of our energy needs and then produce that electricity from 100-percent renewable sources, like solar. And finally, we really want to get an electric car, so we wish we had installed enough solar panels to power an electric vehicle.
TOM: Oh, interesting. So, basically, produce as much solar electricity as, I guess, your building’s physical size would allow, right? Because some of us are limited by how much roof space we have and what trees are in the neighborhood and direct sunlight patterns and that sort of thing.
JOHN: That’s exactly right. We installed as much as we could. We wish we had more roof space so we could power that nice, new, electric car that we want to get.
TOM: Any plans to start laying in solar panels next to the kids’ swing set in the backyard?
JOHN: Well, Tom, I’ve thought about that.
TOM: I bet you have.
LESLIE: Or swing-powered energy. That’s something next. Work on that.
TOM: There you go. Alright.
John Livermore, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. It’s a fantastic story. Good luck with your work to promote positive-energy homes. It seems like it makes a lot of sense.
If you’d like to follow along with John’s work, take a look at his website. It is HealthyHomeHealthyPlanet.org. HealthyHomeHealthyPlanet.org.
JOHN: Thanks so much for having me.
LESLIE: Alright, thanks so much, John.
Just ahead, when you vacuum your house, could you be leaving a cloud of dust behind? Your vacuum cleaner could be losing suction simply due to a clogged filter or a vacuum bag that you’re really just not paying attention to. We’re going to tell you how to make sure all that dirt isn’t escaping out the back end of your machine as fast as you’re scooping it up, next.
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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your how-to or décor question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post it to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
So, Leslie, we’ve gotten many questions on the show about wildlife over the years and just this past week, I’m sitting in my office and I’m hearing this tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap.
LESLIE: Oh, no.
TOM: I’m thinking, “What the heck is that?” We never get woodpeckers here, I mean ever, you know? And so I go outside and sure enough, we had a woodpecker. It was going after my siding.
LESLIE: That’s so crazy.
TOM: Yep. And I caught him red-handed, so I scared him off and then I went up there near the window and I actually took a Hefty bag – one of those big, black trash bags – and cut some strips of plastic out of it. And I kind of tied it off and let it hung out the window near where he was doing his work.
LESLIE: Did it actually work?
TOM: And that usually keeps them – it did. It stopped him from coming back. I don’t know where he went. But then, as I was walking around my property, having had this experience, I started looking at my trees and I noticed that some of the trees had these horizontal holes. They were evenly spaced about 2 inches apart, about maybe ¾-inch in diameter but 4 or 5 holes in a row. And sure enough, it was woodpecker damage on the tree. So, apparently, it had been there for a while but I wasn’t hearing him when he was in the trees. When he went in for the siding outside my window, I caught him that time.
LESLIE: You can’t miss that sound.
TOM: You can’t miss that sound. So, yeah, that was an interesting experience for us because I know many of you had this but we hadn’t. So, you should know that we followed our own advice and took the same steps and it did work.
LESLIE: And it’s just so interesting. It’s like the ugliest of fixes work the best with the woodpeckers.
TOM: Yep, exactly.
LESLIE: It’s like if it’s obnoxious, they’re not going to like it.
TOM: It’s good, that’s right. And it works.
LESLIE: Well, now that the holiday season has officially arrived, I think we all tend to do a lot more cleaning. But when you use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the dirt from your floors and the carpets, even your couches, you want to be confident that that same dirt isn’t being piped right back into the house that you’ve just cleaned. But that’s exactly what could happen if you’re not maintaining that vacuum.
Now, your full vacuum bag, a clogged filter or simply something like a broken belt, that can reduce suction and leave all those allergens and dust behind.
TOM: Yeah. Even if that belt is sort of stretched out, it may not be turning the vacuum as efficiently as it should be, so that’s why it’s a good idea to make sure those parts are always replaced.
So if you want to avoid it, I would always recommend using a good-quality vacuum bag. Filtrete has one that we use that’s called the Ultra Allergen Vacuum Bag. It’s really good because it helps trap particles that about 75 times smaller than a human hair. It pretty much covers just about all the household dust that we create, sort of the dust-mite debris, the pet dander, the grass, even ragweed pollen. It will basically block it down to about 3 microns, which is pretty tiny. So that’s a really effective way to make sure your vacuum cleaner is much more efficient, simply by changing the bag with a good-quality bag like that Ultra Allergen product from Filtrete.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, you should plan to replace your Filtrete vacuum bags about every one to two months, of course, depending on how much you vacuum. The filter should be changed or cleaned every three to six months and the belt should be changed out once a year. Now, if you do this, you’re going to help your vacuum maintain peak performance and really achieve the best indoor-air quality for you and your family.
TOM: Yeah, because you don’t want to breath that dust that the vacuum has picked up. It’s just kind of gross.
If you want to learn more about these products, you can go to CleanAndCookSupply.com/Filtrete. 3M and Filtrete are trademarks of the 3M Company, used by Electrolux home care products under license.
LESLIE: Still ahead, here’s a winning combination: tailgating and warmth. Sound impossible? Well, it’s not. We’re going to share the details when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show returns, after this.
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: Hey, what’s on your fall fix-up to-do list? Post your home décor or improvement question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Dustin posted his question from Bonita Springs, Florida: “I just bought a new range and now my other kitchen appliances are looking a little tired, even though they’ve got plenty of use left in them. Is it possible to paint those major appliances?
TOM: Oh, absolutely. It’s important that you use the right kind of finish. There are finishes that are designed for appliances. They’re usually epoxy-based and they take a lot longer to dry, so just be ready for that. But you basically want to disconnect the appliance. Bring it down to an area that you can work on it. If it’s the range, pull it out maybe out of the house, because you are going to have to spray-paint this. You do not want to brush paint it. It looks like heck.
LESLIE: Oh, it would look bad.
TOM: And then once it’s really clean and good to go, you can start spray-painting that finish with very light coats of that epoxy paint. Give it a few hours to dry, hit it with a second coat and I’ll tell you, you’ll be really impressed with how durable that finish is. I did that to a vent fan once for my kitchen. It probably lasted 10 years. Cleaned it all the time, never wore off. Looked fantastic. So, painting is possible to get those appliances looking great.
LESLIE: Alright. Good tip.
TOM: Well, for many of us, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: football season. But before you head outside to cheer on your favorite team this winter, you want to make sure your tailgate is poised for victory. Leslie has tips for winning tailgates in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, you know, 40 percent of tailgaters spend more than 5 hours pregaming. Five hours. But in that five hours, it probably only takes a few minutes to discover how cold it can get and truly, football fans know it can get pretty cold out there.
So, you can put all that suffering behind you this season by adding warmth to your tailgating party. Now, open flames, they’re too dangerous. And portable patio heaters, like those you’ve seen at those open-air restaurants, they can work well and they can run on propane and they’ll warm up a very good-sized area. Practically good enough for a tailgating party.
So, you want to make sure that your tailgate tools are always at the ready. Outfit an old toolbox with non-perishable tailgate essentials, like your tongs, sunscreen – because even in the winter, you can get a sunburn – salt and pepper, all of these things so that when you decide you’re going tailgating, you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice.
And what’s a tailgate without good tunes? Now, check out the wide variety of Bluetooth-compatible speakers that are available out there. They’re super powerful and can help get the entire crew pumped for the big game. Now, I only tailgate for Coldplay shows, so that’s usually warm weather. So I’m just dealing with the sunshine and trying to find shade.
TOM: I’ll tell you what, the same preparation applies and we get a chance, once in a while here, to go to an Eagles game. And I’ve got to tell you, those guys are nuts.
LESLIE: You guys just went to one. I saw your pictures online. It looked like a lot of fun.
TOM: Yeah, yeah, we did. And they show up at the crack of dawn with these big buses and RVs. And they have these massive parties. And I’ve got to respect those serious fans out there and it’s always a good time. But it always helps if you are warm. It makes the whole process a lot more comfortable.
LESLIE: I have a friend who rents a porta-potty for some big Mets games every summer, for their tailgating party.
TOM: Just rents the porta-potty.
LESLIE: For their tailgating party, yep.
TOM: That is pretty serious.
LESLIE: That’s committed.
TOM: Well, those are some great ideas. And today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word was presented by Jiawei. Safeguard your home and loved ones with the Smart Security Light by Maximus Lighting, the porch light redefined. Equipped with 2-way talk, high-definition camera, 17-feet motion detection and a 100-decibel siren alarm.
Coming up next time on the program, one of the most unpleasant steps you can take in your home is by setting foot on a cold floor with bare feet. Woo! Ugh, that’s rough. And it’s just one of the reasons adding radiant heat to your floor is a great idea. Not only does it stop that toe shock, it can actually make your entire home more comfortable and cut down on those energy bills. We’re going to tell you how to take on that project, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(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.)