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Trading in Outdated Electronics for Cash, Holiday Returns Made Easy, Avoiding Green Hype, How to Re-Stretch Carpet and More

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let us help you start the new year off right, by tackling that one home improvement project on your 2011 to-do list.

    Well, as we wrap this holiday season to a close, it might be a good time to consider all the loot. What did you get this year? Did you get some new electronics, for example? If you did, well, that’s great but what are you going to do with all your old stuff? We’re going to have some tips on how you can recycle your old electronics, make room for all the new gear, plus an idea on how you can actually make a few dollars at the same time.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And among the treasures that you received this holiday season, did you maybe get a couple of things that you actually wish that you didn’t? Well, in this economy, holiday returns are not such a simple thing to do. So we’re going to share some tips with you on how to make those holiday give-backs a lot easier.

    TOM: Plus, are you trying to do your part this year by purchasing environmentally-friendly products? If so, how do you know that they are what they claim to be? You need to be very careful not to fall prey to what we call “the green hype” or “greenwashing.” So a little later, we’re going to talk to the editor of Dwell magazine, who’s got a lot of expertise in this category, about how you can sort out the wheat from the chaff and make sure both are environmentally friendly.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a $350 gift certificate, courtesy of our friends over at Leggett & Platt. And they are the makers of some really fine, super-soft, luxurious bedding.

    TOM: So, give us a call right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Joyce in Florida needs some help with a granite countertop. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOYCE: I’m just wondering about my granite countertop. I have a little chip in it. It’s only a year-and-a-half old.

    TOM: How’d that happen?

    JOYCE: I have no idea. I swear to God, I live alone and it could have been (inaudible at 0:02:22) anybody else. But it’s right by – right in front of the sink, so I mean …

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: I have one there, as well. Do you want to know what it’s from?

    JOYCE: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And also, what is your edge? Do you have the ogee edge?

    JOYCE: Oh, I don’t know.

    LESLIE: Is it super-decorative? Like kind of curvy or is it more blunt?

    JOYCE: It’s blunt. Yeah, the side by the sink is blunt. The outside is the curvy part, yeah.

    LESLIE: OK. So it’s the inside of the sink, not the outside?

    JOYCE: Well, OK, I’m sorry, I’m thinking about like the bar part. Anyway, no, it’s the inside of the sink but it’s just curvy; it’s still on the side. It’s blunt.

    LESLIE: Because my issue is from – at the sink, the counter height happens to be at the same exact height as the button on my jeans. And when I’m washing my dishes and I’m leaning at the counter, I had a little area that was more filler than actually granite at that edge. Because, you know, they do that resin coating on it and if there’s pocks or chips, it sort of fills in. So I kept leaning and leaning and leaning and working and over the years, it just sort of popped out this little filler and it was always from where the button on my pants was sort of hitting that counter.

    JOYCE: Well, that – see, mine is on – is actually – it’s on the inside of the sink.

    LESLIE: On the sink side. You must be a very crazy dishwasher.

    TOM: Well, there is a solution. There are a wide variety of acrylic or epoxy repair kits that are available where, in effect, you can mix up the repair material and then also mix in a dye that is very close to the pattern that you have and then very carefully touch that up.

    LESLIE: Fill it in.

    TOM: Build it up and …

    JOYCE: Yes. I just don’t want it to get any bigger.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah. No, this will help you with that.

    TOM: I think that that’s probably a reasonably easy thing for you to do and it should stop it from getting any bigger.

    JOYCE: I assume this is just something you can buy at …

    TOM: Well, at home center or you can just search for granite repair kits online and there’s dozens of websites that sell these kits. They’re pretty straightforward in terms …

    LESLIE: They’re in the $25 to $50 range.

    TOM: Yep. One is called Bonstone – B-o-n-s-t-o-n-e – Bonstone.com. But there are lots of them out there that are available. And again, all you’ve got to do is mix it up and follow the directions and I think you’ll be good to go.

    JOYCE: Well, I will fix it and thank you. I really appreciate that. I wasn’t sure if there was anything you could do to fix it and I didn’t want to just leave it alone. So, OK, I’ll try that.

    TOM: Well, you’re not the first to have a crack but you won’t be the last.

    LESLIE: And you’re not the last.

    TOM: And fortunately, there’s a whole market out there waiting to serve you.

    JOYCE: Alrighty. I thank you so much. Appreciate it.

    TOM: You are very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Donald in Indiana is having a radiator issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    DONALD: I installed an extra radiator in a hot-water system and not knowing that the radiator was bad, had a little hole in it. I was told it was OK. Got it all installed and put water in the system and lo and behold, water started spurting out of it.

    TOM: Ah.

    DONALD: So I shut it all off and of course, after it dried up, why I mixed up some putty – well, actually, it’s epoxy putty is what I’ve got put over the hole – put a little piece of metal over it and put two clamps on it. And tomorrow, I will see if it’s going to hold or not.

    TOM: OK. Well, I think you did the right thing, because I was going to tell you that an epoxy patching compound is probably the right thing to do there. I’ve actually patched a radiator myself using that exact method and it worked fine and it’s been probably 10 years now. I’m reminded of it every time I go into the bathroom and stare at the patch wondering, “Hmm, wonder if that’s going to hold.” But so far, so good.

    DONALD: I sure hope so. I was just on another – on a steam pipe that – 2-inch steam pipe was leaking in the threads and I put that around and that was probably 2, 3 years ago and it’s holding, so I thought I’d try this.

    TOM: Well, I think you did the right thing and I think you’re going to be very happy with the result. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Beth in Georgia is working on a reglazing project in a bathtub. Tell us how it’s going.

    BETH: I have had my bathtub, what they call refinished, twice. It’s an original tub. The house is 40 years old. It’s iron with porcelain.

    TOM: OK.

    BETH: And they basically etched it and then sprayed a new surface on. And I was wondering if this is the same thing as reglazing and if so, I haven’t had any luck. It’s peeled up both times, so what are my other options?

    TOM: Hmm. OK, did you have a company come in and do this for you?

    BETH: Yes, two different ones.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s hard to get this done and have it really last, I will say. I’ve seen it done a number of different ways but typically what happens is they put on an acid etch and it’s a very corrosive process. I mean the folks that do this have to be well-protected; not only their arms and their eyes and things like that but also their breathing, because you have to really etch that old surface and with a very corrosive material.

    And then once that is etched, they essentially prime it and the primer is usually sprayed on and then the topcoat is sprayed on. And if it’s done well, you might get five years out of it but then you have to do it again. It’s never, ever going to be as good as an original surface of the tub.

    BETH: I guess what happened, in my case, was that it was etched. I’m not sure if they did the primer stage but it only lasted – the new surface they put on only lasted two months each time and then it would start peeling up right at the drain, both times.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s not right. That’s not right. Now, did the glazer come back and redo it?

    BETH: Well, they put a guarantee – a nine-year guarantee – and when I called them back in two months, their number has been disconnected.

    LESLIE: Oh, wasn’t that nice of them?

    BETH: Oh, that was my second time around, so I kind of gave up. But I still have the bathtub. It has tile around it and a tile floor. I can’t really afford to tear out all the tile and put a new tub in.

    TOM: Yeah.

    BETH: So I just wondered if there were any other options for me.

    TOM: Well, you could have a tub insert made; that’s another way that this is done. There are a number of companies that make those. They fit inside the old tubs. They tend to make the tub a little smaller, as a result, and they’re not inexpensive. But …

    LESLIE: But they’re really durable.

    TOM: Yeah. Or you can go, you know, back to the beginning and try to find a glazer that actually has a reputation; who’s been in business for a number of years and does a good job.

    BETH: Right.

    TOM: It sounds clearly like you got somebody that wasn’t doing a very good job. They didn’t even stay in business for two months after you hired them.

    BETH: Right. OK. Well, I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair, home décor, home improvement, home knock-them-down-and-rebuild-them-up-however-you-like-them question. Whatever you are working on, we’re here for you in this new year 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are your old electronic gadgets filling the drawers and shelves in your home? Well, make room for the new stuff and find out how to get some cash back on your outdated technology. We’ll have that tip, next.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here at Team Money Pit is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We want you to give us a call. We want you to ask us a home improvement question and we will help you tackle that project successfully. And then, to make a bonus, we will put your name into The Money Pit hard hat and possibly pick you as our lucky winner this hour.

    And we are giving away a $350 Leggett & Platt gift certificate. And if you are the lucky winner, you can choose from their Leggett & Platt Home Collection, 400-thread-count sheet set, which is super-duper-soft and of course, they have their RestAssured, easy-fit corners, fitted sheet, which means those super-duper-deep mattresses that we all love today, this sheet will actually fit on it, stay on it and not – as you’re tossing and turning in the night – end up wrapped all around you, because it’s just holding on for dear life.

    It’s really a wonderful group of bedding and you can visit their website, LPCPG.com, so you can start your shopping list in preparation to be our lucky winner. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, if you’re looking for a way to get rid of your old electronics and make room for the new ones you scored big this holiday season, you are in luck. There is a growing number of ways to turn e-trash into treasure and there are several websites that will allow you to mail in used electronics for a check or a PayPal deposit.

    For example, Gazelle.com will accept old cell phones, cameras and even DVDs. But don’t hold onto your stuff for too long or it will lose its value. There are also many national retailers now that let you trade in towards future purchases as a way of being a little more environmentally friendly as you dispose of that stuff, including Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and many others. You want to ask about those sellback programs at any retailer that you choose to frequent.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And another idea is to actually donate your old desktop computer or your cell phone to a charity and then take a tax deduction on what you actually give to those charities. You can check your local YMCA or a local shelter that you might be familiar with, who are looking to accept these types of items.

    Finally, if you really just feel that you want to just get rid of your stuff or maybe it’s too old to put into good use, you want to make sure that you look into recycling programs that you can get rid of these electronics properly, especially if they have batteries, which you really can’t toss into your household trash.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to those phones.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Norm who’s dealing with some concrete issues. Tell us what’s going on.

    NORM: Hi, guys. Yeah, I’ve got a circular driveway in the front of my house and we’ve developed some cracks. Unfortunately, when the weather gets cold here, we get water in those cracks. Of course, the ice forms and makes the cracks wider and I’d like some advice on what I should do to seal those cracks so they don’t get worse.

    TOM: Hmm. Now, these are cracks in what kind of a surface, again?

    NORM: It’s concrete. It’s a concrete driveway. I guess it’s 6 inches deep and it’s a circular driveway.

    TOM: OK.

    NORM: And we have expansion joints in the driveway but I’ve got cracks ….

    TOM: Mm-hmm. What you want to use is an – there’s an epoxy patching compound that you can use. And you’ll essentially be filling these in. You have to clean them out really well first but the epoxy is strong enough to bind to both sides of the crack.

    LESLIE: And stay there.

    TOM: And stay there, yeah. Exactly.

    NORM: Should I power-wash them out first?

    TOM: Well, now, if you power-wash them, you’re going to have to wait days and I do mean days for them to get really dry again.

    NORM: OK.

    TOM: Because you’ve got to remember, concrete’s very, very absorbent.

    NORM: Sure.

    TOM: So it’ll stay very saturated.

    NORM: Alright.

    TOM: That’s the kind of project that if you’re doing like on a spring or summer day where you can really let it bake in the sun for a while, you’d have a chance of getting it dry enough.

    I don’t think you have to go that route, as long as you can just make it reasonably broom-clean; there’s no dirt. You can run a wet/dry vacuum over it, kind of suck out what’s there and try to get it real clean. You should be good enough to be able to apply the compound.

    NORM: Any specific epoxy that you might recommend?

    TOM: There’s a site called Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n – that makes a whole bunch of concrete-repair products.

    LESLIE: Yeah, pretty much a ton of right products for the job.

    TOM: And you could find it there.

    NORM: Good deal. Love your show. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Mary from Delaware on the line who’s got a roofing question. How can we help you today?

    MARY: Thank you for being there for all of us and I do love your show.

    LESLIE: Thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright. How can we help you?

    MARY: I think I’m going to need a new roof and I don’t know who to go to, what to ask for. Any good suggestions for me?

    TOM: Well, sure. First of all, why do you think that you do need a new roof?

    MARY: Well, I had a small leak in one of the closets; very small.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.

    MARY: And I don’t know – I haven’t had anybody come out yet.

    TOM: OK. Now how old is your house, Mary?

    MARY: Oh, it’s 47 years old.

    TOM: Has the roof been around for a good part of that or do you know how old the roof is?

    MARY: We did have a roof replaced maybe 14, 15 years ago.

    TOM: OK. Yeah. OK, so the roof’s at the end of a normal life cycle. That said, the fact that you had a leak does not mean you have to run out and buy a new roof. Leaks are typically very repairable. Even though a roofer may try to talk you into replacing the roof, that may not necessarily be the case.

    Now, if it turns out you do need a new roof, there are a lot of options for you in terms of the shingles that are available today. I will suggest you take a look at Owens Corning. They have lots of excellent roofing products with really good warranties and they also have a type of roof called a “cool roof,” which reflects, I believe, about 30 percent of the sun’s heat back out.

    MARY: Oh, that sounds wonderful.

    TOM: So that makes it – makes your house a lot cooler in the summertime.

    MARY: Ah, that’s wonderful. Thank you, my good friends, for being there for all of us; especially for me.

    TOM: Alright, Mary.

    MARY: I need all the help I can get.

    TOM: Sounds like you’re doing just fine. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, is your house stuck in the 70s? Well, it could be, like our next caller Maureen who is dealing with some sticky, vinyl wallpaper. Welcome.
     
    TOM: I remember vinyl wallpaper. My mom had that in our kitchen. It was covered with big, yellow flowers.
     
    MAUREEN: OK, this wallpaper – that’s what it is: big, yellow flowers almost.
     
    LESLIE: Oh!
     
    TOM: Oh, you probably have the same wallpaper we had.
     
    MAUREEN: Must be. Anyway, it’s vinyl wallpaper. It’s in the main bathroom. The paper itself comes off but the backing of the paper is stuck on the walls.
     
    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah but the glue stays behind. Yeah. Yeah. Now, have you tried any wallpaper paste remover or any of that sort of thing?
     
    MAUREEN: Oh, yes.
     
    TOM: Yeah.
     
    MAUREEN: But you know it doesn’t work.
     
    TOM: Doesn’t work that well, does it? Have you tried – Maureen, have you tried to rent a steamer – a wallpaper steamer?

    MAUREEN: No, I have not done that yet.
     
    TOM: I tell you, sometimes you’ve just got to bring out the heavy artillery with this stuff. It’s old, it’s sticky, they don’t make the glues like they used to and it’s just very hard to get off with any of the paste-remover products. So I think what you should probably do is just go right and rent the steamer. They’re very inexpensive to rent. It’s going to save you a lot of hours of hassle.

    And even when you get it all off, what you’re going to have to do is – you’re going to have a very rough surface underneath; even the best job is going to leave a very rough surface. So I want to make sure that you do two things.Number one, you want to prime that surface completely and I would recommend an oil-based primer. And then you want to cover it with flat paint. Nothing with a sheen because if you put anything with a sheen on an uneven surface like that, it’s going to show the lumps and the bumps every time the light hits it in a funny way, OK?
     
    MAUREEN: OK. Thank you very much.
     
    TOM: You’re welcome, Maureen. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Forrest in Michigan is working on a front-door project. Tell us what it is.

    FORREST: Well, we’re trying to replace our exterior rear door and we live in a modular home and all the exterior doors seem to be 6 inches shorter than normal height. So, we’re trying to figure out a way we can replace it without having to special order and cost hundreds of extra dollars to do that.

    TOM: What’s the height of the door you’re looking for?

    FORREST: Six feet, two inches.

    TOM: Wow. That is unusual.

    LESLIE: That’s weird.

    TOM: Yeah.

    FORREST: Yes.

    LESLIE: Have you contacted the company that …?

    TOM: I hope you’re not a tall guy.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Have you contacted the company who produced the modular home or the components therein?

    FORREST: Yes and they want to make $559 for a new door.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s why they’re 6 feet, 2 inches.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: They’re like, “Oh, if we make a weird size, they’ve got to come to us.”

    TOM: Hey, can you modify the opening of the exterior wall to take a standard-height door?

    FORREST: Yes, I do.

    TOM: I mean that’s what I would do. I wouldn’t …

    FORREST: Yeah, that’s what I was looking at doing was just trying to raise it up – you know, raise the header up to …

    TOM: Now this way, all your tall friends can come and visit.

    FORREST: Yes, that would help.

    TOM: Yeah. I wouldn’t spend money on a custom door that’s not standard height. I would simply modify the exterior wall and take a standard 80-inch door.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s going to be the most cost-effective solution.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: Plus, you’ll have the most options.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely.

    FORREST: Right. Well, I guess that’s what I wanted to hear. That’s what I was thinking I’d do and just wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Up next, green products. How do you know if they’re truly green or you’re just getting a bunch of green hype? We’re going to have the answers when we interview the editor from Dwell magazine, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by SnowBlowersDirect.com. Thinking about getting a snow blower? Check out SnowBlowersDirect.com’s interactive buying guides, recommendations and customer reviews. Snow blower experts are available to help you pick the perfect snow blower. Visit SnowBlowersDirect.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, everywhere you look, products and companies are hopping on that green bandwagon. They’re claiming that their product is good for the environment or it’s made in an eco-friendly way. But is that just the latest marketing gimmick, sort of directed to get you to buy their product or are companies truly trying to be more responsible?

    TOM: Well, the truth probably lies somewhere in between and it’s up to you to figure out which products are really environmentally-friendly. To help us separate facts from the hype, Aaron Britt joins us right now. He’s a columnist and the senior editor of Dwell magazine.

    Welcome, Aaron.

    AARON: Hi. Thanks for having me.

    TOM: Now, it seems that ever since we have developed a strong interest in green remodeling and green building, the number of companies, of course, claiming to become green has shot up dramatically. What’s the first thing you can look for to determine whether or not a product you’re considering for your home – whether it’s an appliance or a door or a window – truly is environmentally-friendly?

    AARON: For me, personally, I think one of the best ways is to look for some sort of independent, third-party certifying the greenness of the product. It’s one thing if the manufacturer says, “Hey, look at us. We’re green. We’ve never been more eco-friendly.”

    TOM: Right.

    AARON: But if some sort of other entities, say, the U.S. Green Building Council or Energy Star or any number of trusted sources suggest that the thing has passed some sort of environmental muster, that means a whole lot more than their marketing copy department deciding to add the g-word to the new label.

    LESLIE: Now there’s so many ways that I feel like a product could be labeled as green. Do you look for – or should I say what makes it a better green product? Is it the fact of where it’s made? How it’s made? If it’s recycled or repurposed? How do you really sort out what qualifies green and what makes it a better product?

    AARON: Let me preface all this by saying you simply can’t continue to be a lazy consumer, as so many Americans are, that just continue buying the same old stuff. You’ve got to do some research. If you care about this stuff, don’t just show up at the grocery store and take a look at this tile-cleaning product versus that tile-cleaning product, because the odds are good you just won’t know the difference.

    So, once you’ve done a bit of homework and you’ve sorted out which is manufactured in, let’s say the more sustainable way, then you have a whole host of other things to think about. You can look at where was this produced. If it turns out this was made in a factory 100 miles from my house, that’s not so bad. If it was made in, I don’t know, South Korea, well, OK, that’s an awful lot farther.

    TOM: There’s a lot of jet fuel expended to get that product from South Korea to the United States.

    AARON: Yeah, precisely, precisely. And then, so let’s suppose each is made in equidistant radius from where you’re buying it. Then take a look at the packaging and think to yourself, “OK. Is this thing sheathed in four layers of cellophane that I’m immediately going to discard?”

    TOM: Right.

    AARON: Or maybe it’s in some sort of cardboard box – little packaging – and you think to yourself, “You know, I can recycle this straight away,” and right there, it could be a potentially greener product.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a really great point, Aaron, because the packaging really is something that is so obvious to us. It doesn’t require a skill set in mechanical engineering to determine how it was made. You can see it right there on the label but more importantly, in the label.

    AARON: Oh, absolutely. And to me, those are ones – look, I’m like anybody else. I don’t know every single green product under the sun. And there comes a point in time where I do go to the store and I’m looking at A and I’m looking at B and I’m trying to sort out not only what’s going to work the best for me but what makes the most sense, sustainably. And often, if you haven’t done loads of research, it can come down to packaging.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Aaron, what do you think is really driving this sort of green movement? Do you think that it’s a percentage of people saying, “Alright. I’m going to be environmentally responsible”? Or do you think the majority has come from sort of a selfish standpoint of “alright, if I use something that has less chemicals, it will be healthier for me and my family”?

    AARON: I’d like to believe that it’s both. I think that, more and more, we’re starting to understand the ethical imperative of green design and green products. And it comes simply from a standpoint of efficiency. So that’s one thing.

    But I think you’re – it’s interesting to raise that point of personal health because often, that’s what’s led to so many good changes; things that are healthier for us, healthier for our homes. I mean certain people are complaining about they don’t like the government telling them what sort of light bulbs to use, right? And I suppose, maybe, you can understand that from a Libertarian standpoint. But are these same people sort of screaming about wanting lead paint back?

    TOM: Right. Yeah.

    LESLIE: True.

    AARON: Do you hear these same people like worrying about all the asbestos they’d love to get back into their homes?

    TOM: Yeah, good point.

    We are talking to Aaron Britt – he’s the senior editor of Dwell magazine – about the difference between green and greenwashing.

    And Aaron, a bit ago, you talked about the third-party certifications. Isn’t there, however, even competition among those that want to be considered an authority in determining greenness, that’s causing some additional levels of confusion?

    AARON: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think one of the clearest places you see this is in – see, we cover a lot of architecture, so we’re always looking at sustainably-designed homes.

    TOM: Right.

    AARON: And if you go around the word, from nation to nation, there is a whole different host of standards. In Germany, a lot of people are building to a Passive House standard. In Canada, they’ve got Green Globes. Here, we’ve got the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED system.

    And the truth is, though each is trying to achieve something good in terms of sustainability, it’s not uniform in the least.

    TOM: Right.

    AARON: And so, I just recently covered a house in Philadelphia and the fellow told me – the guy, the designer and the developer – he said, “We’re designing this house to German Passive House standards, because that blows American standards out of the water.” And yet, at the same time, he turns around and tells me, “But this other house I did just received LEED platinum certification.” And so, even right there, within one guy who runs a small company in Philadelphia, we’ve got two – I won’t say competing but I will say different – standards of sustainability.

    TOM: Well, let’s hope that it all shakes out for the benefit of all Americans and we can all reduce our environmental footprint and have a great selection of green-constructed housing, moving forward in the future.

    Aaron Britt, Senior Editor of Dwell magazine, great information. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and sharing with us.

    AARON: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks, you two.

    TOM: If you’d like more information on green building, as well as lots of other very, very trendy home improvement topics, you should check out Aaron’s website at Dwell.com, the website for Dwell magazine; D-w-e-l-l.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And still ahead, how do you go about returning some of those holiday gifts that you were saying, “Thank you,” but really thinking, “No thank you”? And now you’re like, “Err. What do I do with them?”

    Well, we’re going to help you return those holiday gifts without the hassle, so stick around.

    (theme song)

    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: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat for a chance to win a $350 gift certificate from Leggett & Platt, a company that makes fantastic beds and bedding, including the Leggett & Platt Home Collection, 400-thread-count sheet set with RestAssured, easy-fit corner pockets.

    So if you’re thinking, “I just can’t get to sleep at night because I’m just not assured that my corners will stay in place,” well, you’re not going to have that problem, because you can rest assured with the easy-fit corner pockets.

    LESLIE: I’m so worried about my sheets.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call right now for your chance to win but you must have a home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Well, about this time of year, we all start going over those same feelings and it really happens to everybody every holiday season. You just might not be feeling that love for that orange stripe-y sweater that you got as a gift or maybe you’d much rather have gotten that power tool that you’ve been eyeing and dropping hints about but no one got it for you.

    Well, returning those unwanted gifts, it can actually be more tricky than we think but we’ve got some tips to make those transactions go a lot smoother. First off, the sooner the better. You don’t like it? Bring it back right away. And secondly, don’t cut any tags off or remove any packaging if there is any chance of it going back, even if you’re thinking, “Oh, maybe I’m going to keep it.” Do not cut those tags off; do not throw away the box, the bag, whatever it is.

    Now, most stores have revamped return policies in the last year or so, which are actually making it a lot tougher to return or even exchange items without the right information. And keep in mind that electronics and even appliance chains have the shortest return periods allowed. So along with those tough rules on opened packages, there could be restocking fees. Just make sure you go about whatever you want to bring back, quickly.

    TOM: Now, if you want to avoid the whole return hassle in the first place, there is a cool, new way to do that at Amazon.com. They now have a gift converter system that was recently patented and it’s a method to really prevent bad gifts.

    What happens is that you set up rules for gifts that others are trying to buy for you. And if the gift doesn’t fit the rule, Amazon won’t let the shopper purchase it and instead suggest an alternative gift; kind of like checking in with the best friend. Good thing to keep in mind for next year or the next time that you need to purchase a gift online.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Greg in Indiana needs some help repairing a ceiling at his money pit. What could we do for you today?

    GREG: Hi, Leslie. I have a crack in a textured, vaulted ceiling.

    LESLIE: OK.

    GREG: It’s at the peak. And I have tried putting a – what I think is a higher-quality siliconized, paintable caulk – and repainted and it seems like it doesn’t last very long and we’re having to redo it.

    TOM: Right.

    GREG: I didn’t know if there was some type of a permanent fix for that.

    LESLIE: Are you using any tape when you’re making this repair?

    GREG: No. Well, I’m trying to avoid taking the texture off.

    LESLIE: OK.

    TOM: Yeah, because it’s textured, it would be a big deal.

    GREG: Yeah.

    LESLIE: But I feel like you’re going to just continue to make this repair unless you can, you know, get underneath, add some of that fiberglass mesh tape, which will sort of help. Because you’re going to get continuous movement because, as you say, it’s at the peak, so there’s going to be a lot of movement there just from the nature of the structure.

    Now, what kind of texture is it? Is it a popcorn? Is it like a twist? Is it a stipple? Can it be replicated, is what I’m getting at.

    GREG: I’m sure that it can. I’ve just avoided it because it’s a room that is probably, I don’t know, probably 20 to 25 feet wide. The length of the crack would be – so I’ve just avoided doing that. I, kind of in the back of my mind, felt like that was probably the permanent solution but was trying to find an easier way out.

    TOM: Well, I think that you know what the solution is. The fact of the matter is that this crack is a break. The fact that you caulked it is not going to stick to both sides in such a way that it will stretch across and bridge that gap on a permanent basis. You’re always going to have it reopen again and again and again.

    So you can either live with it or you could pull off the texturing and put up a fiberglass mesh tape and spackle it, as Leslie suggested, and then retexture it. I will tell you that there is texture material that’s sold in a can now.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That you can just spray on.

    TOM: So you don’t have to have a company come in and spray it. There is patching material for this very purpose.

    GREG: OK. Excellent. I think that’ll do it. Not exactly the answer I wanted but I think that it was – that’s probably – I just needed somebody to tell me to do it, so I thank you.

    TOM: Alright.

    LESLIE: Alright. Do it already.

    TOM: Alright. You’ve been tasked.

    GREG: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Go forth and patch, my friend. 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 MoneyPit.com. Well, when it comes to fueling your home, you’ve got some choices: gas, propane or electric. But which is the most cost-effective when it comes to your appliances? We’ll tell you, after this.

    (theme song)

    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: Call us right now with your home improvement project or head on over to MoneyPit.com and post it in our Community section, where we can answer it, as well as other members of the home improvement community.

    And Garrett did that and Garrett is asking: “I am getting ready to replace a propane dryer and I was wondering, long-term, which is cheaper: a propane dryer or an electric dryer?”

    That’s kind of like the question, what weighs more: a pound of feathers or a pound of nails? Think about it.

    LESLIE: Well, they weigh the same.

    TOM: Actually, there’s nothing efficient about the word “dryer.” Dryers are just not efficient equipment and – period.

    LESLIE: Period.

    TOM: There’s no such thing as an efficient clothes dryer. Why?

    LESLIE: That’s why none of them are Energy Star-rated.

    TOM: That’s right. Now, how do you get energy efficiency in a dryer? Well, you use an efficient washer. Because if you pull – the more water you pull out of your clothes from a high-efficiency washing machine, the less time the dryer needs to operate.

    So, if I was trying to concentrate on efficiency when it comes to laundry, I would concentrate on the washer, not the dryer. As far as gas versus electric or propane versus electric, I think if your house is already set up for propane, that’s probably going to be a little bit more efficient than electric. But remember, the key to efficiency with clothes-washing equipment is in fact the washer and not the dryer.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so really pay attention. Look at the high-efficiency models, look at ones that don’t have an agitator. I mean there’s so many options out there, so you really have a wonderful opportunity to create something really fantastic in your laundry room that’s efficient and energy-saving, so good luck with your laundry.

    Alright. And Roberta posted: “About five years ago, I had my house reclapboarded and painted with primer and two coats of paint. Came out great. Just about the end of last year, I noticed nail heads rusting through the paint. I assume that my contractor must have used the wrong nails but what can I do at this point?”

    Is there really nothing you could do at this point, I guess?

    TOM: Yeah, because when it comes to, especially cedar siding, you want to use stainless nails. Because if you don’t, you’ll get that blackened stain or you will, in fact, get rusting.

    LESLIE: Get rust.

    TOM: At this point, Roberta, the only thing that’s going to stop that rust is to repaint the house and again with a good coat of oil-based primer, which I’m sure is what you used the first time. That will stop the rusting but it’s not going to be cost-efficient for you to replace them because, obviously, there’s just way too many nails.

    LESLIE: Oh my gosh, I bet thousands.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: I couldn’t even guesstimate. Maybe that should be our New Year’s sort of “guess how many jellybeans are in the bin?” Can you guess?

    TOM: That’s The Money Pit version?

    LESLIE: How many nails are in Roberta’s house?

    TOM: Does it take to nail siding on a house.

    LESLIE: Well, Roberta, when in doubt, make a joke.

    TOM: Well, if your home has wall-to-wall carpet but perhaps has picked up a few wrinkles or loose spots, there is a solution. With some rented equipment and a little sweat equity, you can fix those flaws by restretching your carpet and Leslie has the low-down on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: You know, that’s right. When areas of the carpeting in your home become kind of wrinkled and even a little loose, not only does it not look great but it actually can create a tripping hazard and make those spots that are loose more prone to wear on your carpeting.

    Now, restretching the carpet can actually extend its lifespan and if you restretch a carpet, you’re going to have to rent some tools. Now, you’re going to need three of them: one being a power-stretcher; you’re also going to need a knee kicker and a carpet cutter.

    Together, these tools are going to stretch out that carpeting and get rid of its wrinkles and then it gives you the opportunity to trim away the excess carpet that’s going to happen when you sort of stretch everything along to the edges of the room.

    Now, in one day, you can restretch the carpet in a single room. So this winter, why not broaden your home improvement repertoire and give your floor a makeover by restretching your wrinkled or your bunched-up carpeting, for a nice, neater look and of course, longer wear on your carpet itself?

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, we’re going to talk about the ins and outs of greening an older home. Learn how to make your old house more modern and energy-efficient, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    TOM: 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.

    (theme song)

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (Copyright 2010 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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