Smart Heating Tune-Ups for Seasonal Savings

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  • Transcript

    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: It’s fall, so it’s a fabulous fall fix-up time of the year when it’s nice to work inside, it’s nice to work outside. But if you don’t know what projects you need to do or if you’ve got a project in mind and need some advice to get it done, well, that’s where we come in. Give us a call right now. We’d love to talk with you about just that. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    I love working outside this time of year. Well, we live near a seaside community, so we still call this “local summer.”

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Because all the tourists have left and we’re still here enjoying the outside weather. We’re not doing much swimming but everything else is pretty darn nice this time of year.

    So we hope it’s nice where you are, as well. If you’ve got a question about a project you’d like to get done – décor, remodeling, fix-up – give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    But the fact of the matter is, though, it is getting to be cooler sooner now. So it’s time to start thinking about stuff like getting your heating system serviced. You know, it doesn’t really matter if you heat by gas, oil, propane or electric. That service is really important. It’s got to be done by a pro to make sure the system remains safe and efficient. So we’re going to have some tips on the key components that need to be included in that service, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, as our homes are getting smarter, they’re getting easier to operate. But there’s still a lot that we don’t know about their health and their efficiency. So we’re going to share a sensible, smart-home solution to keep you in the know, just ahead.

    TOM: And also ahead, are you ready to give your walls a new look just in time for fall? We’re going to have some tips on wall coverings that can add interest and color to your décor.

    LESLIE: But first, we want to hear from you. What are you working on this fall weekend? Whatever it is, we are here to lend a hand because sooner than later, guys, we’re going to be stuck inside with the cold weather. So now is the time to get stuff done. Give us a call, 24/7. You know where to reach us.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Frank in Michigan is on the line and looking to take on a whole bunch of projects. Tell us what you’re planning.

    FRANK: Been living at a house here for over 30 years. Got the kids raised, through school. Got the grandkids now. Before I retire, I kind of want to get the house done up. I put a roof on myself probably about 25 years ago or so. But this time, yeah, I need a roof, I need siding, I need windows. I have a one-car attached garage. And what I would like to do with that is make that into a living space so I could expand the kitchen and the living room but then also add a two-car garage. So, I’ve got a bunch of things happening.

    TOM: You’ve got a lot of work in front of you.

    FRANK: No. Oh, not in front of me, man. It’s way beyond my scope.

    TOM: Alright. Well, how can we help you get started on this?

    FRANK: How do I get started on it? Is it good to – I see these companies that do roofing and siding and windows. Some only do windows, some only do roofing. Then I’ve got the garage getting built that I want and converting a space over. How do I start? Is it good to get one guy to roll with or do – break this out in pieces?

    TOM: Well, the first thing you’re going to want to do is do some research to figure out what kinds of materials you want to use. Because the hardest part about remodeling is if you talk to multiple contractors and they’re all pitching you different types of siding and different types of roofing and different types of windows, it’s really, really hard for you to make an apples-to-apples comparison. So, doing some research and learning about your options when it comes to that can really help you be a better consumer of remodeling services.

    If you were doing roofing and siding and windows, I think it would make sense to use one contractor for the whole project. There are companies that specialize just in that sort of thing. You’re going to want to make sure that you have sort of developed the specification for what the project needs to include.

    Now, that’s something that you could put together on your own or you could have an architect help you identify the exact materials – the exact siding color, the exact windows – that are going to go in. The advantage of that is that when the pro shows up to bid your job, you say, “This is what I want.” You hand them the specification and they’re all bidding apples to apples. There’s no confusion. There’s no possibility that people are bidding on different qualities of siding or qualities of window. All that decision work is done ahead of time.

    So spending a little bit of money on the research and maybe even on a design pro like that can make a big difference, in terms of allowing you to be a better consumer when you’re dealing with the pros. Does that make sense?

    FRANK: Yeah. That’s a great start. Because my thought was check out online complaints about different companies or compliments – same thing, Better Business Bureau – go that route and then have the onslaught of everyone showing up and doing estimates for something I – once again, I honestly don’t know the details that I want yet. I mean I had a plan to think about this.

    TOM: But you see, here’s the difference, though. The difference is you know what you don’t know. A lot of people don’t know what they don’t know. And if you do the work ahead of time with the design and with a pro, you’re going to be able to have the information you need to be successful in that space.

    Another service that you might want to think about using, once you get the spec done, is HomeAdvisor. They’ve been a longtime sponsor of our show and I’ve used them many times myself. Leslie has used them.

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: And with HomeAdvisor, those pros will come out and they’ll bid on the job against that spec. But you have added advantage of being able to go to their website at and read the reviews that were left by real customers, to see how well they’ve done.

    So, lots of sources out there like that to be able to find good-quality pros. But the key is knowing what you want. If you can do that work on your own – don’t wait for the contractor to tell you what you want. You figure it out and then bring in the pro. And if you do things in that order, you’re going to be in good shape, OK?

    FRANK: OK. Great. Like I said, I never thought about that. But the architect guy or person, I guess, how do I go about this? Get online and look for builders and …?

    TOM: Find architects and design professionals in your area. You’re not looking for builders; you’re looking for design pros.

    LESLIE: Want to make sure that you like their work.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And I would even go to do some online searches for architects in my area, get a list of a couple of names, then start looking at what their work is. Because you want to make sure that they’re designing in a style that is along the lines of what you like. Because that’s going to be the big thing there. They have to interpret what your design likes and dislikes are and most importantly, how you use the space, how you want to use the space, working within your budget. They’re not always going to specify all materials but they are going to create the designs, work with your village/township, whatever, to make sure it’s all legal, following permitting, all of that stuff. And that’s where you want to get the good pro.

    But the basis is you’ve got to make sure that you guys sort of speak the same language, that you can create a space that works how you want it to.

    FRANK: Thanks, guys. That gave me a bigger step – or not a bigger step but a step that I didn’t even think about going into and like he says, yeah, getting a pro that kind of could come out and say, “Yeah, what I want and this is what I do want.” Get it laid out then, like you said, instead of yeah, well, some guy is going to come and break me a deal on a window but jack up the price on siding, vice versa. And then I’m all confused instead of like, “Hey, this is (inaudible).”

    TOM: Right, yeah. We’re going to try to make sure you’re not confused, alright?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you go in there knowing a basis of – “I want this kind of siding, I want these sort of things in my window,” then you’re all leading into the same direction instead of them just suggesting something willy-nilly.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    FRANK: OK. Thanks, guys.

    LESLIE: Margaret, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    MARGARET: Yes. I’d like to know what I can do about my popcorn ceilings. They’re getting dirty. They’re 20 years old.

    LESLIE: Well, there’s a couple of solutions. Do you like them and want to keep them? Or you just want them to not look so dingy?

    MARGARET: I would not rather – I would not like to keep them no more.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, generally, with popcorn ceiling, if it’s truly a popcorn ceiling and not a texturized stucco, what you can do to remove it is you can get one of those garden sprayers or those light-duty paint sprayers. Put water in it and you spray the ceiling to sort of saturate the popcorn. And then you take a wide spackle blade – as wide as the one you can find – and you sort of gently start peeling away at the popcorn ceiling – at the popcorn texture, I should say, from the ceiling.

    And that generally does a pretty good job. Because if you’ve ever tried to paint it, if you don’t have the right roller, when it gets wet, it starts to peel away from the ceiling. So by getting it wet, you’re being able to remove it. You just want to make sure, with your blade or your scraper, that you’re not digging into the drywall below it. Because keep in mind whatever’s left underneath there is what you’re going to paint and then see.

    MARGARET: OK. How do I go about cleaning if I decide to just go ahead and keep this?

    LESLIE: Well, you wouldn’t clean it. You would paint over it.

    MARGARET: Oh, no. No.

    TOM: Yeah, there’s actually a special roller for that. It’s like a slitted roller. It’s a very thick roller that’s got slits in it and it’s designed to squeeze the paint into that popcorn area. And that’s exactly why I would do it. I would paint it. It’s going to look a lot better than cleaning it. You just can’t clean that stuff. There’s nothing cleanable about a popcorn ceiling. You’ve got to paint over it.

    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 You can reach us anytime at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    And just ahead, as summer turns to fall, it’s time to get your heating system serviced. Doesn’t matter if you heat by gas, oil, propane, even electric. An annual service by a pro is key to making sure the system remains safe and efficient. We’re going to have tips on what that service should include, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Charlotte in Georgia is on the line with an electrical question. How can we help you today?

    CHARLOTTE: I just put a breaker box in my house. The house was built in the late 50s. Two switches in one room do not work and the kitchen sometimes trips a breaker. Do you think it’s – I don’t want to do the – rewire the whole house. I just want to pull the wiring through the wall and I don’t want to take off any of the sheetrock.

    TOM: Well, generally, if there’s switches and outlets that are not working, it’s not the wiring itself in as much as it could be the switch or the outlets. Or it could be a problem where it’s actually connected to the switches or the outlets. And it’s obviously impossible for us to diagnose this for you.

    In answer to your general question, typically, you do not have to remove drywall except in rare circumstances. Electricians can almost always find a way to run wire through a wall. And they have tools that are specially designed to do that. They’re long fiberglass rods that the wire kind of gets tied onto the end of. And they can use that to kind of snake it through the walls and pull it up where it needs to go.

    But I think the bigger question for you is: why is this happening and is it dangerous? Because if you’ve got things that are not working, we want to make sure that didn’t happen because something shorted out, which could lead to a fire. So, I would not advise you to do this yourself, Charlotte. I would advise you to get a professional to help you with it because I’m concerned that you need to get to the bottom of what caused the defect, whether it’s just broken switches. It would be unusual for all of these things to break at the same time. I have seen an occasional switch go bad but almost never an outlet go bad. So if you’ve got two switches and an outlet not working and you checked the breakers and the fuses, I think it’s time to call a pro.

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

    LESLIE: Well, as summer turns to fall, it’s time now to get your heating system serviced. We’ve got tips on how to best get that project done, in today’s Pro Project presented by

    TOM: Now, if you’re thinking, “Hey, it’s the heating system. It worked fine last winter. It should work this winter, so maybe I don’t need to service it,” well, that logic does not necessarily hold. Here’s why: it doesn’t matter if your heating is by gas or oil or propane or electric, an annual service by a pro is pretty important to make sure the system operates safely and efficiently.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Not only can heating systems become inefficient, costing you more to operate, dangerous conditions can build up, like carbon monoxide, that could only be spotted by that pro with years of experience.

    TOM: Yeah. For homes that are heated with gas, oil or propane, those fuels leave deposits on the burners, which can then cause them to become blocked. And a service pro is going to clean and adjust those burners to make sure they’re running properly.

    They’re also going to need to check other key elements of the system, like the heat exchanger. Now, that’s what keeps the carbon monoxide separated from the house air. And it can develop cracks and cause a problem. They could let that carbon monoxide leak right into that air and that could be really super unsafe.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And blower motors, those also need to be checked and cleaned. And filters have to be replaced, too. And if your home is heated by electric, like a heat pump or even an electric furnace, those systems also need to be checked just to make sure that they’re not wasting energy, especially since electric is pretty much the most expensive way that you can heat your house.

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

    TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.

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

    MACK: Well, every year I seem to open my pool up in the spring and it’s always green. I would have to drain it and clean it out and all that stuff. So, I had this brilliant idea to just leave it going all winter long: just put the cover over it, put it on timer and just keep it open and have it come on every day for – you know, every 15 minutes, every couple hours or something, so it doesn’t freeze. What do you think about that crazy idea?

    LESLIE: I’ve got to tell you, we have a pool, Mack, at my family – like my parents own a summer house out on the North Fork of Long Island. Every spring, we take off that cover. That pool is the nastiest, green-looking thing you’ve ever seen. We have never drained the water. You use a whole sort of chemicals, which is sad but you shock that water, you get the system up and running and it goes right back to beautiful, crystal blue and we’re swimming in it in no time.

    MACK: Yeah, I know. Takes a lot of chemicals to do that.

    LESLIE: I know. But the other option is – I wouldn’t leave things running all winter long. I feel like it’s going to put pressure on the system, it’s going to overload. You’re not probably getting the proper amount of air and things into it that it needs because the pool is covered. But if you’re so frustrated with it and the chemicals, why not think about a salt-water pool?

    MACK: Because I’m cheap.

    TOM: At least you’re honest about it.

    MACK: Well, I know you guys like honesty, so I’ll probably go against all conventional advice and try it.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. Let us know how you make out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Sherry in Georgia is on the line and needs some help revamping a dresser. Tell us about your project.

    SHERRY: Yes. I’ve got this dresser that my father found in a garage. It’s all wood and it’s beautiful but somebody has painted it white. And I would like to get the white paint off.

    LESLIE: For good or to put stain on or to paint over it again?

    SHERRY: Yeah, I’m thinking to put stain on. I think it’s all wood. It looks like a really nice piece of furniture. But it also has framed drawers. I don’t know; I guess that’s what it’s called. It has the wood around the drawers. So I’m thinking that’s going to make it really hard.

    LESLIE: So it’s like a glass front door with a wood frame?

    SHERRY: Well, it’s not glass. It’s all wood but the wood has a good frame around it.

    LESLIE: Alright. It shouldn’t be a problem.

    What you have to do is if there’s any doors or drawer fronts or things, you want to either pull out the drawers or just take off the drawer fronts. You really want to make it easy to work on things, so you need a lot of flat surfaces.

    So with the doors, with the framework, try to take them off if you can. Leave the hinges either on the door back or in the dresser itself. And then get everything on a flat surface. And you need to find a good paint remover, a stripper product. I’ve used Rock Miracle before. I like it because it’s got a really thick consistency and you kind of slather it on there. And you can actually see where it is, rather than brushing something on and making – wondering if you’ve covered all spots. And then you really want to follow the directions.

    So you have to let it sit on there as long as they tell you to. And then you want to use a paint scraper to gently sort of scrape the paint off the surface, because you don’t want to gouge anything into it. Because that will show up when you start working on it in the future. And you could have to do it a couple of times.

    Now, depending on the type of wood that’s underneath that white paint, you might not be able to get all of the paint off. So you really have to kind of experiment with it and see how well it is removable.

    And then once you’ve done that a couple of times, you’re going to wipe it down. Then you might still have to sand it in a couple of places with a very fine sandpaper, to make sure that you get all the last bits of the paint off. Then you want to wipe it down with a tack cloth and then prep it for staining.

    So, that’s when you really want to make sure that you’ve got it perfectly beautiful and clean and ready to go before you put the stain on. Because once you start to put the stain on, everything’s going to show.

    SHERRY: OK. Now, what was the name of that product again?

    LESLIE: I like one called Rock Miracle. It comes in what almost looks like a turpentine can. But there are all different kinds. So, you might want to pop into your local home improvement center. Ask them which one they like to work with, because you might not be able to find Rock Miracle at your place. But definitely feel it out and ask somebody at your local home center what they recommend. But that’s the one I like; I’ve used it a lot of times.

    SHERRY: OK. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: You’re so welcome. Good luck with it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Give us a call anytime with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Just ahead, as our homes are getting smarter, they’re getting easier to operate. But there’s still so much that we don’t know about your home’s health or even its efficiency. We’re going to share a sensible smart-home solution to keep you in the know, next.

    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.

    Well, as our homes are getting smarter, they’re getting easier to operate. But there’s still so much that we don’t know about our home’s health and our home’s efficiency. And one way to get a handle on both is with Sense, a new home energy monitor that’s going to read your electrical usage and help you save energy, look after your house and family and even help you avoid disaster.

    TOM: With us to talk about that is Mike Phillips, the CEO of Sense.

    Welcome, Mike.

    MIKE: Thank you for having me on.

    TOM: You know, as our homes get smarter, Mike, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about how they operate. I mean clearly, everybody wants to save money. The need, though, is so powerful, I think, that virtually every marketer of home building products, from lighting to kitchen appliances to heating and cooling, they always talk about the attributes of how much money you’re going to save. But I think, for the most part, it’s a rough guess for consumers.

    What I love about Sense is it solves that mystery. It is plugged into your house. It tells you what’s on and what’s off and exactly how much energy you can use. And it even tells you that in real time and for the exact – and it’s calibrated to your local energy cost, as well. So there’s really no – there’s no guessing anymore. We really can have that data and make those decisions intelligently.

    How’d you guys get into this?

    MIKE: Yeah. Well, that’s really the problem we set out to solve. If you think about it, if water were leaking in your basement and if you were home, you would know about it, right? You’d hear the water, you’d see water on the floor. But this – when it comes to energy, when it comes to power coming into your house, you have no idea where it’s going.

    And it doesn’t leak out on the floor in the basement but it’s lost in all sorts of different ways. It might be like you have an old dehumidifier that’s running all the time. Or you forgot and left the roof heating coils on. So it’s basically the equivalent of water leaking out on your basement floor and you just had no idea that it was happening.

    LESLIE: So, now, how does Sense work? I understand it connects to the main electrical panel but what does it do once it’s there?

    MIKE: Yeah. So, it’s a little bit of a tricky thing that it does. It’s a little box. It goes inside your electrical panel, measures the power coming into your house just like any other energy meter. The thing that’s different, though, is we’re measuring power at a million times a second, which I know sounds kind of crazy. But by measuring at such a high rate, we can use that to then figure out what things are on and off. We’re basically making use of the fact that different things in your house have a little bit of a different signature in how they use power. So we use machine learning to figure out the signatures of your refrigerator or your toaster or your microwave.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s fascinating.

    Now, I installed the Sense Home Energy Monitor in my house and it’s always fun because it’ll pop up every once in a while and say, “Sense found a new appliance.” And now it knows the difference between my coffee maker and my microwave and certainly my refrigerator or my dishwasher. And I can see exactly when they’re on and when they’re off. And I can find out how much it’s costing me to operate them, which is just so cool. It’s so much information that’s helpful.

    LESLIE: Is it cheaper to buy the coffee at a different place or to make it at home?

    TOM: Nah. If I could get off the Keurigs, I’d probably save some money. But the machine itself doesn’t cost very much to operate, I have learned, because I pay attention to my Sense.

    And Mike, I think that’s a point because it takes a while for Sense to kind of learn these appliances. It’s not like you set it up and instantly you know what everything is. Because as you say, it’s basically measuring at a million times a second. It’s comparing it to everything it knows from you and also, I guess, from the entire community to make those determinations as to what’s working and what the actual appliance is that’s working at the time, correct?

    MIKE: Yeah, yeah. That’s right.

    So, a couple things to point out. One is we can’t do this perfectly. It’s a very challenging task to figure out all the different things in your house just from the electrical signals. But we’re getting better and better at it the more data we see.

    And for many things, Sense knows the identity. So it figures out that – “Oh, I saw your microwave,” or “I saw your coffee maker.” Other things might come up in the app as Motor 2, because it sees something it knows is a motor but it’s not sure what it is. And then it’s up to the consumer, the homeowner, to go, “Oh, the little Motor 2 bubble turns on whenever my blender is on. So, a-ha, it’s my blender.” And now I can type in “blender” in the application. And then the cool thing is that feeds back to us. And once we have thousands of blenders out there that people have labeled – and if they’re distinct enough, which many things are – then we can start to say, “Hey, I found your blender,” instead of, “Hey, I found Motor 2.”

    LESLIE: So interesting. It’s really interesting to think that every single thing has its own tag like that.

    So now that you have that information, how do you then start to understand what that quantitative effect is? Alright. Every time I turn this on, it’s using X amount of energy? Is it for us to figure out as a homeowner that that’s too much or are you sort of guiding people to say, “Hey, that’s unusual in its usage”?

    MIKE: Both. So the first thing we found is it – just by giving people visibility into what’s going on in their home, you’re able to track down kind of all these strange things that might happen. And by strange things, I mean you might think about – that the way to save energy is to turn – unplug the toaster or use the TV a little less often. And those are sometimes true.

    But the main thing is we’re finding, in most homes, there’s a couple things that if you knew about it, you would be able to go and track it down and fix it. We call them “energy hogs.” So, it requires a little bit of detective work from the homeowner to say, “Why is my power so high right now?” and to realize that it’s because I left the heater on or it’s because my dehumidifier is broken. We’re finding all sorts of very interesting things that people have tracked down just by the application itself.

    TOM: It seems like you’re also helping people avoid disasters, Mike. I’ve spent a bit of time on your website at You’ve got a great community there and they’re telling us lots of stories about things that they discovered that have prevented damage in the homes. So you’re really helping families, as well. Can you give us some examples?

    MIKE: Yeah. You know, we’ve been talking about this from an energy perspective, which is how we started out in the company. But what we’re finding is this visibility is useful for all sorts of things. Things like: did I leave the oven on when I leave the house? Or what you’re talking about is lots of times, people have found things like – we had one homeowner – this was in Florida. They had a nice, modern, efficient heat pump. And you probably know that heat pumps have a backup electric heat in case it’s too cold out but the heat pump doesn’t work.

    TOM: Yep.

    MIKE: They’re used when it’s below 10 degrees or something.

    TOM: Yep. And it’s very expensive to run.

    MIKE: Yeah. Well, this person in Florida, in the summer, found that it was running all the time because of a bad relay. So they had a $900 a month electric bill they got hit with. And they would have had no way to track it down. In fact, they had an electrician come out to the house trying to figure it out. They couldn’t figure it out. With Sense, they were able to figure out that it was the backup heat of their heat pump being stuck on all the time.

    So it’s crazy stuff like that that we see a lot of. And whether it’s the heat pump or the – things like a well. People that are on wells, lots of times if there’s a leak, they’ll notice in Sense first. They’ll see that the well pump is cycling all the time and they find out that it’s because there’s a leak in the pipe or they left the hose on or something.

    TOM: I will say, personally, that I think Sense is the single most effective way to save energy, because you really are going to understand where the energy is being used. And therefore, you’ll have the power to stop wasting it or curtail it in areas where, perhaps, you’re using too much of it. Which happens a lot when you’ve got a house full of teenagers, I’ll tell you that.

    MIKE: And like we were talking about, we do think it starts with the visibility and then, over time, yeah, we are putting in more automation, more ways for Sense to know exactly what the problem is and tell you about it. But don’t discount just the benefits of having that visibility as a starting point and then layering these other things on top.

    TOM: It’s an amazing product. You’ve got to check it out. There’s a fantastic video at Take a look at it at This is information that you absolutely have to have if you would like to find ways to make your home perform better and save money and be more comfortable, all at the same time.

    Mike Phillips, thank you so much for being a part of The Money Pit. And thanks for bringing such a really cool product to market. I know that it’s a lot of work and a lot of resources to come up with something that the world hasn’t seen before. You guys have done an amazing job and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.

    MIKE: I appreciate that. Thanks so much for having me on.

    LESLIE: Mike Phillips, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    Just ahead, are you ready to give your walls a new look right in time for fall? We’ve got tips on wall coverings that can add interest and color to your décor, when The Money Pit continues.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you a hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

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

    KENNETH: Yeah, hi. I was calling about some hardwood flooring we had installed in our home. It’s cupping. And we purchased the home. It had hickory floor in it, so we worked with a local floor company and tried to match the existing flooring. And we put it in four rooms and now, it seems like it started cupping almost immediately.

    And I went back to the distributor and the local installer and he was not very copasetic. Didn’t want to work with us. Kept putting us off. Long story short, it’s been over a year. Floor still cups. I understand I might be able to put a humidifier in here – or rather a dehumidifier – and it might help. But what’s the solution? Is there any solution short of ripping it out and putting it back in? I think it was installed improperly.

    TOM: Well, Ken, unfortunately, when wood starts to warp like that, there’s not a lot you can do to kind of get it to lay back down. It’s usually caused by high moisture. You said that, perhaps, it was improperly installed. Not sure if that’s the case or not. But when it starts to twist and warp, it’s usually because there’s too much humidity.

    So, one thing I would suggest you do is if you have a forced-air heating system and cooling system in your house, look into picking up a whole-home dehumidifier. This will work automatically to reduce the amount of humidity and moisture in your home and keep it at a steady place where, hopefully, it won’t get much worse.

    Now, if the wood seems to stabilize after that, you could think about sanding it. If you have it professionally sanded, it will take up the edges that are, perhaps, warped and sticking up a bit help them sort of lay down. And if we get it to be stable, you may, in the long run, not even notice it anymore.

    But I hope that helps you out. Sorry it happened to you but good luck with that project. And if we can help you any further, get back to us.

    LESLIE: Well, I’m so glad that everybody is finally jumping on board with my love of wall coverings. You know, guys, they can have a big impact on your room’s décor scheme, both in design and if you’re not careful, your wallet.

    So, fortunately, affordable products are making it easier than ever to achieve professional results on a DIY budget.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, when you’re choosing wallpaper, you want to make sure you choose the best-quality paper you can afford and then use it sort of strategically.

    So, for example, you might want to use wallpaper for a small room, like a powder room. Or if you’re going to do a bigger room, like the family room, just do one wall or use it inside squares that are trimmed out in a molding, like in a dining room. Paper the bottom half of the walls under a chair rail. You get the idea. You can use it strategically and enjoy that paper for a lot less expense.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Even wall murals are still very popular and they don’t have to be just a painting or an image. It can be something that’s more abstract, that’s just focused on one wall. It can be an overblown close-up of an image. There’s lots of ways that you can achieve something of great visual interest but without spending a ton of money.

    And here’s something that I like to do a lot – especially when I’m doing these sort of more focal treatments on a wall, maybe even in a kid’s room – is that you can choose a paper that’s temporary, that’s removable, that’ll come off very easily when it’s time for a change. And that doesn’t have to just apply to a kid’s room. You can use it in a powder room. You can use it in a family room, in a living room. You name it, there are great places for wall coverings.

    And you can even think about it – once I did a kid’s room where the daughter loved The Nutcracker and her favorite part was the winter scene. So I took an image of sort of a very bare birch forest. I had that printed on a – like a removable vinyl sticky-back and I put that up as a wall covering.

    So bring the outdoors in. Choose nature. Pick things that easily come off without damaging the wall surface and you can have something really fantastic, whether it’s for a man cave, a kid’s room, your living room. Wherever you want it, you can have it.

    TOM: Wallpaper for a man cave. Trying to think what that might look like.

    LESLIE: Sports? Hockey arena?

    TOM: There you go.

    888-666-3974 is our phone number. Give us a call, right now, if you’d like to chat about your next home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Say, are you looking for an easy weekend project to spruce up your space? Well, we’re going to share some weekend projects that make the most of these early-fall mild temperatures, coming up next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: That’s right. 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by You never have to worry about overpaying for a job. Just use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others have paid for similar projects. It’s all for free at

    And remember, you can always post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page or right at Money Pit’s Facebook page. Wherever it is online, get us your question just like Richard from New Mexico did.

    Now, Richard writes: “I have a Southwest-style home with a clay-tile roof. Can I replace this with another material that still looks authentic to this type of architecture?”

    TOM: Well, you can but why would you want to? Is there something wrong with the old tile? I mean that’s an absolutely gorgeous roof. Very, very classic roof. And if you’ve got busted tiles or things of that nature, I’d much rather see you repair those, Richard, than replace them.

    But if you do have to replace them, it’s going to be quite a bit of work. Because if you want to use an asphalt shingle or a dimensional shingle so that it kind of looks like the old-fashioned clay tile, you have to pull off all the old clay tile, which means you’re going to have an awful lot of clay-tile roof to get rid of. And you’re going to have to put sheathing down, because clay tile goes on open-spaced sheathing; they have strips of wood, not sheets of plywood. And then once you have that, you can use a dimensional shingle.

    Now, here’s where most people that put these dimensional shingles on the roofs go wrong. It’s supposed to look like a clay tile and it can, because there’s different shadow lines in it. But what they don’t do is they don’t do the same types of flashing. So you have to have valley flashing and you have to have ridge flashing made of copper so it looks just like it would be if you actually did have the clay tile. So, those details are super important.

    So, again, think about whether or not you really, really, really want to replace that clay-tile roof. And if you decide yes, you’ve got to pull it all off and you’ve got to put plywood on and the dimensional shingle and pay attention to those details.

    So, the weather is cooling down and your calendar may be opening up. And you’re looking around at everything that needs to be done before that winter chill sets in. No worries. Leslie has got tips on weekend projects that can make the most of the early-fall mild temperatures, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    Leslie? Great time to take on some of those projects.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it really is because temperature-wise, September and October are pretty much the perfect months for tackling projects indoors and out.

    Now, here’s a few that are easy to knock out in a small part of your weekend. First of all, you want to make sure that your water heater is good to go for hot showers all winter long. So to keep it running efficiently, you want to drain 2 gallons of water from that tank heater twice a year. Don’t tackle this, though, without making sure that the heater is not only powered off but you’ve given it about a full hour to cool down.

    Now, heating bills. We’re going to be paying those real soon, guys. And you want to make sure that you’ve got a fresh furnace filter, because that’s really key to keeping those bills low and the temperatures high. And if you haven’t done so in a while, now is the time to get on a schedule. Those furnace filters need to be changed monthly.

    And since we’re going to be closing up those windows and doors for good soon, you want to make sure that the end of September/early October really is the best way to start cleaning your house the natural way. I’m talking about vinegar and water. Great solution for windows and wood floors. Salt and baking soda. Make a paste of that and you can use it as a scouring cleanser. Olive oil and lemon juice. It’s a great way to create a chemical-free furniture polish. We’re trapping ourselves inside, so don’t trap yourself with those VOCs from those nasty chemicals. Go all natural.

    And get ready, guys, because the fall and winter, it’s the best time of year. Everybody’s throwing shoes at me, I feel like, at home. They’re like, “No, summer.” No, winter is the best.

    TOM: Well, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. And you’re right: it might be getting chilly but that doesn’t mean outdoor living has to end. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about how to choose the right patio heater so you can hang out in your yard or deck well into fall, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 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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