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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement projects, solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. But you’ve got to help yourself, first, by picking up the phone and call us, because we would love to talk to you about what you’re working on in your money pit. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    And just so you know, we’re not picking on your house calling it a money pit because to us, a money pit is a proud term of endearment. We love our homes but they can be money pits. And so, think of us as being in the money-pit prevention business. We are here to help you get the project done right the first time, save some money in the process and make sure it comes out absolutely perfect. The number is 888-666-3974, so let’s get to it.

    Coming up on today’s program, do you have some old, perhaps wooden furniture in your house that’s plain or industrial-looking? Most people do and we’re going to tell you how you can transform it into a very trendy showpiece.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, getting your house into the Halloween spirit doesn’t mean that you’ve got to make your bank account look scary. We’re going to have some decorating tips that are both budget- and eco-friendly.

    TOM: And you know it’s fall when you start to see Halloween decorations, the leaves turning and of course, clogged garbage disposers. We’re going to keep your disposer clog-free this hour with some tips to help make sure that it doesn’t break down in your money pit.

    LESLIE: Plus, one caller who makes it on the air with us is going to feel a little more secure at home this spooky Halloween season. We’re giving away a wireless home alarm system from Swann Security.

    TOM: It’s worth $130. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question, drawn at random. So, pick up the phone and give us a call. Let’s get to it, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    BUCK: I was calling to ask a question about a built-up roof, about 4,000 square foot. I was thinking about taking and putting a coating on top of it. No insulation in the attic. And was wanting to know if it really would actually defer the heat in the lower floor by putting a brilliant-white roof coating on top.

    TOM: Well, those types of roof paints do have UV reflectors in there and they’re designed to make the roof cooler and certainly, it will be a heck of a lot cooler than the black roof that you’re starting with. So I think that that’s probably a good idea in your situation, especially being in such a warm part of the country, Buck.

    BUCK: Any particular product brand that you can suggest going on top of tar?

    TOM: No. But make sure it’s a roof paint. I mean typically, you use a fibrous aluminum paint for something like that. What you really want to look for is the UV reflectivity of it because the more UV it reflects, the better the job it’s going to do.

    And by the way, it will also extend the roof life, as well, because the cooler the roof is, that means less of the oil is going to evaporate out of the asphalt and it’ll last a lot longer.

    BUCK: OK. Good.

    TOM: Buck, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Laura is up next with a lot of erosion going on at her money pit. Tell us what’s going on.

    LAURA: Our yard slopes downward from the front to the back, probably close to – well, it’s a pretty good angle. I don’t know if (inaudible at 0:03:37) it’s 45 degrees. But when we have a hard rain, the rain comes off of the roadway and just a river flows down the back to the back corner of the house.

    TOM: OK.

    LAURA: And we’re seeing trees – like the roots. Real bad erosion. And I was wondering, what’s the best type of, I guess – I don’t know – like a retaining-type wall? Or is a flower bed – like a large flower bed – something to stop the flow? Or just a natural – like if we put bushes down – what’s the best would you suggest to (inaudible at 0:04:13) that erosion (audio gap) to stop.

    TOM: Well, the best thing to do is to interrupt that flow by catching the runoff and running it around the house. And an easy way to do that is with something called a “curtain drain.”

    Now, a curtain drain is dug into that sloped area at some point and I can’t tell you where; it depends on how the soil is sloped and shaped that makes the most sense. But basically, think of it this way: it’s a trench that you would dig in front of the house where all the water is collecting.

    And that trench, in it you would lay a perforated pipe. And the idea is that the trench has about 4 inches of stone, then it’s got a pipe. Stone continues to move up around the pipe and then a little bit more stone on top. And you put a piece of filter cloth and then you landscape over it or put dirt and grass over it, so you don’t see it when it’s done. But conceptually, the water shoots down the hill, falls into that invisible trench now, fills up the pipe and then runs out the other end of the pipe – the low end of the pipe – somewhere to daylight.

    So, to do this, you need to be able to get the pipe in place and then have the end of it run out somewhere where you want to dump that water. Does that sound like it’s possible with your yard, the way it’s configured?

    LAURA: Yeah. No, that’s very doable. I didn’t know they make stuff like that. So, no, that’s very doable.

    TOM: Well, it’s kind of like – you know, it’s not like you can go to the curtain-drain aisle at the local home center. You have to kind of build it yourself but it’s a very common technique called a “curtain drain” or a “footer drain.” So take a look at that and you can find instructions on MoneyPit.com.

    LAURA: Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Laura. Thanks again 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. Now you can be part of the home improvement discussion. Pick up the phone and give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with whatever you are working on, whether it’s a home repair, a home improvement, a maintenance project, a design, a remodel. Whatever it is you need help with, we’re here to give a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, furniture discount stores can save you money but they can also leave you with furniture that maybe is not so attractive. So we’re going to tell you how to turn those basically boring pieces into treasures, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Swann Security. Enter Swann’s Get Connected, Be Protected Sweepstakes today at Swann.com and you could win one of five complete, do-it-yourself home security systems, including the top prize of a four-camera security system, iPad and plasma TV valued at over $5,000. Enter today at Swann.com. That’s Swann.com. That’s S-w-a-n-n.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up your phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. One lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a wireless home security system from Swann. It’s really easy to install and it gives you two window and door sensors and two motion sensors.

    Now, these sensors will set off a siren that blasts a deafening 110 decibels, which would really scare off any intruder pretty much near your house or anybody else’s house on the block. It’s worth $130.

    TOM: So give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And we’re giving away one of those systems today but it’s just one of the many prizes Swann is giving away in its Get Connected, Be Protected Sweepstakes going on right now at Swann.com. I mean they’ve got a bunch of four-camera systems. Really high-tech security systems they’re giving away in this sweepstakes. So head on over to Swann.com and enter today. It’s very easy. Swann – S-w-a-n-n – .com.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Mike in North Carolina who’s got a driveway question. Drive it on over. What can we do for you, bud?

    MIKE: I had put in a new plant – or got ready to put a new plant in front of the house. And when I took the old one out, there was a crack in the foundation and also a pretty good-sized void underneath the driveway. And I’ve had three different companies out to take a look at it and after all that, I don’t quite know what to do.

    TOM: OK. So this crack is in your foundation? It’s on your basement wall? Where are you seeing it – or on the outside wall? Describe it.

    MIKE: It’s on the outside wall in the corner of the garage.

    TOM: Alright. And you’ve got a driveway near there where the driveway is sunken in a bit? It sounds to me like you’ve got a water problem where water is collecting in that area. May have undermined some of the soil. Small cracks – is it vertical cracks – small vertical cracks are what it is?

    MIKE: Vertical crack, yes.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s a very minor, very almost commonplace kind of a crack, so I wouldn’t get too terribly worked up about it. You’d be surprised how many cracks foundations have. We see them all the time. So, I wouldn’t panic about it. But if you’ve got an area that’s sunken in where the driveway is, what you are going to have to do is cut that driveway out, fill that area in, tamp it down, pack it properly and have the driveway restored in that particular area.

    MIKE: The driveway hasn’t sunk yet. It’s just where it always has been.

    TOM: Well, when you just said before – when you said before that there was an area that was sunken in, you did not mean the driveway? What’s sunken in?

    MIKE: No, no. Actually, there’s a void underneath the driveway. You can see where the driveway pad comes up to the garage – when I took this plant out, you can see a void underneath the driveway.

    TOM: OK. So the void’s under the apron, is what you’re saying.

    MIKE: Correct, yes.

    TOM: It’s under – OK. Alright. Same advice. You’ve got to fill the void in or the driveway will drop into that spot, OK? And water will continue to collect there and it’ll wash out what’s left of the footing around there – the soil under the footing – then you get more shifting. So, you’ve got to restore that soil.

    Not unusual, because a lot of times you get organic matter that gets in there. It could be, I don’t know, wood. It could be paper. It could be anything that was accumulating there from when the foundation was dug. And then it rots away and the voids form and the water gets in there and it’s kind of a vicious cycle. So you need to get that repacked with soil properly and then regraded to slope away and then restore the driveway.

    So I don’t think you have a big problem there. I think you have sort of a medium-sized maintenance problem but you should do it, because it can get worse if you ignore it.

    MIKE: Yeah, OK.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, we’ve all had one piece of furniture that perhaps we bought on the cheap or maybe even inherited from a friend or relative that is sturdy but may be a little industrial-looking? Well, if that sums up a piece of furniture in your money pit, here’s how you can do a reverse facelift, by turning something new into maybe an older-looking, more classy piece. And this tip is presented by PORTER-CABLE.

    LESLIE: You know, I think the key here is adding trim. It doesn’t really have to cost a lot of money and it could be a fairly easy job for do-it-yourselfers if you’ve got the right tools.

    For example, if you’ve got a simple bookcase, you can pop out those shelves and add beadboard to the case’s back – the interior back. Or if it doesn’t have a backboard, you can actually create one with beadboard or any other type of wainscoting. Crown molding? That can also be applied to the top to give something a more stately appearance, if you’ve got a built-in or even if it’s a super-simple, inexpensive shelving system.

    You can also add the same trim to other pieces in that room and suddenly, you’ve got something that went from a series of disjointed furnishings to looking more like a purposeful set.

    TOM: And the cool tool to use to get that project done is a brad nailer. It really makes the project a cinch. And if you’ve never used one, you should definitely check them out. These drive finish nails below the surface of the trim, which makes the nail holes totally disappear with just a touch of putty. PORTER-CABLE brad nailers are great, especially the BN200C, because it holds 100 brads at a time and it’ll alert you when you need to reload.

    This means that you can install trim pretty much as fast as your hand can move. It will drive 18-gauge nails from 5/8- to 2-inches long and the exhaust port is in the back. And that means it’s not going to blow any contaminants onto your work.

    If you’re interested in PORTER-CABLE brad nails, you can check out all of the features of the BN200C on PORTERCABLE.com. That’s P-O-R-T-E-R-C-A-B-L-E.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elizabeth in Idaho who’s dealing with some siding that’s coming apart. Tell us about it.

    ELIZABETH: So I have a 1970-built house and with composite siding on the entire house. But on the west side – where it gets most of the weather, the heat and the rain and wind and so forth – the horizontal siding has split where the siding joins themselves and has spread open as much as a ¼- to ½-inch.

    TOM: Was it just in one area or is it all over the place?

    ELIZABETH: It’s mostly on the west side of the house that gets the brunt of the weather.

    TOM: OK. So many places it’s coming apart or just a couple of places?

    ELIZABETH: Quite a few, quite a few. I’d say 10 places on the back of the house.

    TOM: I would caulk the seams. If it’s ¼- to ½-inch, I would caulk it. I would get caulk that’s colored to match the siding and I would apply a bead of caulk. Because the other thing to do, of course, is to put new siding in. You would have to cut out the old siding and overlap that space and then paint it and it’s a really big project. So, I would caulk it and call it a day.

    ELIZABETH: OK. We have tried that and we’ve used a product – is it OK if I say the name of the product?

    TOM: Sure.

    ELIZABETH: It’s DAP – D-A-P.

    TOM: Right.

    ELIZABETH: And we used DAP DYNAFLEX 230. And we’ve also tried DAP Alex Plus. And after we put that in, we went out to look at it after about two or three days and then the – that area has just gone concave. So it’s just sunk into the siding, so it leaves a big concave area where it was once just a crack.

    Now, can we put something over that? Should we just keep putting layers on?

    TOM: I think there’s a misunderstanding with what you’re trying to accomplish here, OK? What we want to do is keep the moisture from getting in there. And when you caulk, yes, it is going to dry and it’s going to shrink and actually sort of fill in very tightly any gap that you have there. You’re not using a wood filler, OK? You’re using a caulk.

    And so I would not worry about small concave gaps like that in between the caulk; that’s what I would expect it to do. Doing that, if you want to paint it over so it’s all the same color, you can probably blend it in more. But that is exactly what it should be doing.

    ELIZABETH: Alright. Well, it’s just kind of unsightly where it comes together; it’s just a big concave area. But it looks better than the crack, so …

    TOM: Let’s hope that’s the biggest problem you ever have with your house, OK?

    ELIZABETH: I hope so.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Richard in Illinois needs some help with replacement windows. What can we do for you today?

    RICHARD: I wanted to find out what you think would be the best window to replace my existing windows and also find out if it’s a do-it-yourself project.

    TOM: Can be, can be. It’s not a difficult project to do. I will tell you, Richard, that you really want to start by investing in the best energy-efficient window you can find: one that’s Energy Star-rated. And if you go to MoneyPit.com and click on the Book section, we have an entire replacement-window guide there that you can download. It’s actually a free chapter from our book, My Home, My Money Pit. And we walk you through everything you need to know about how to pick the type of frame, how to pick the type of glass.

    But generally speaking, you want to buy an Energy Star-qualified window and you want to make sure that you compare apples to apples when you’re talking to multiple contractors.


    TOM: And we tell you how to do that in the download because there’s a lot of numbers associated with understanding energy efficiency of glass. There’s measures that the National Fenestration Rating Council has come up with that measures things like thermal efficiency and how much UV gets through the glass and that sort of thing.

    And so we’ll tell you how to read that label if you download the chapter. But conceptually, Energy Star-qualified windows and being careful to understand what you’re being promised in terms of glass, so that you can make a fair comparison between multiple bids from multiple contractors, OK?

    RICHARD: OK. And how much work am I looking at to replace them myself?

    TOM: How many windows do you have?

    RICHARD: Five of them.

    TOM: Oh, five? That’s a weekend’s worth of work. If everything goes well and if the window is properly measured – you need to be really careful on the measuring of the window. Because if you measure it incorrectly, then you’re going to have a big problem.

    What do you have now? Do you have wood windows? Do you have vinyl windows? What do you have?

    RICHARD: Vinyl.

    TOM: Vinyl windows. Do you have to tear out siding to get them out of the house or can you just move – remove the sashes and slip the new windows inside those?

    RICHARD: No. I have to tear the siding off.

    TOM: Well, it might be a little bigger project then. If you’re going to do a new-construction style window – which if you have existing vinyl, you may have to – what kind of siding do you have?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you want to make sure you get the flashing correctly.

    TOM: Yeah, what kind of siding do you have?

    RICHARD: Like a fiberboard.

    TOM: So you can cut out the siding in pieces and get it out from around the windows?

    RICHARD: Yes.

    TOM: OK. So, yeah, I think you’re – if you have to do it that way and if you’re pretty talented, you could probably spend a half a day on every window. So I would probably expand that estimate out to about two weekends’ worth of work.


    TOM: OK? And plan the – plan around the weather, Richard.


    TOM: It’s kind of hard to explain to the insurance company why your house got wet and damaged when you opened up a big hole in its house – in the side.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Alright.

    LESLIE: “It seemed like a good idea.”

    TOM: 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 MoneyPit.com. Well, Halloween decorations, they’re fun but they can be a fright on your budget if you’re like me and you want to buy everything in sight when it comes to Halloween décor. We are going to tell you some money-saving ways to get your home into the holiday spirit, after this.

    NORM: Hi. I’m Norm Abram from This Old House and when we’re working on our projects, we listen to The Money Pit.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows. Replacing windows or patio doors is always a big decision. Lowering energy bills? Well, that’s easy. And Andersen Windows, the number-one brand of windows in America – with over a century of making quality, energy-efficient windows – makes replacing your old, drafty windows easy with the new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Available at The Home Depot.

    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: You know, Halloween can be a really fun time of the year and it’s a holiday that you can get in the spirit for without breaking your decorating or energy budget, right?

    LESLIE: That’s right. And you really just have to get a little creative. If you don’t want to go to the store and buy expensive decorations that you’ll just have to find room to store, think do-it-yourself. Instead of buying special lights and driving up your electricity bill, you can cover a window or two with inexpensive black paper and cut out Halloween shapes.

    Now, what happens is the lights that you already have on inside create a really great effect. You can do like a ghostly shape or a mummy or a vampire. Check out MarthaStewart.com. It’s really easy; you can look at her pictures there and then totally do it yourself.

    You can also take the leftover black paper that you’ve got and cut out shapes of bats and cats and then tape those to your other windows. And when you’re done, you can recycle that paper, so it really is an eco-friendly, do-it-yourself Halloween decoration.

    TOM: Now, another inexpensive and somewhat green project that your kids will love involves buying some inexpensive, glow-in-the-dark paint at your local crafts store. You can gather rocks and paint them and after a day in the sun, they’ll glow at night. And then once you have those painted and ready to rock and roll, you can line your walkway with them or just sort of strategically place a few around your yard.

    And if you find the next day that you need some tips on how to clean up messes left by pranksters, just go on over to our website at MoneyPit.com and search “cleaning up after Halloween.”

    888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We are here to help you get your projects done.

    LESLIE: Kim in Michigan has got a ducting question. How can we help you with your project?

    KIM: I recently needed to replace a furnace in a rental house that we had. So we got a couple of estimates and went ahead and got the furnace replaced. The furnace is, I don’t know, a couple of feet tall, big square box. Up from the furnace comes a metal ducting – duct work – that goes up. And then that goes up maybe, I don’t know, a foot-and-a-half, 2 feet. And then beyond that, it’s – the ductwork is made of cardboard. I don’t know what kind of cardboard and I’m sure there’s a name for it; I just don’t know what that is.

    TOM: Right. Probably fiberboard.

    KIM: Then the duct work goes over to the left to hook into the cold-air return, which looks like a big box that’s built into the wall. So I’m not real sure what that is, like just a big cold-air return.

    Anyway, so that’s also made – so it goes – the duct work goes to the left and it’s about 6 inches thick. In the middle of that, there’s a furnace – yeah, a furnace filter. And so all that is made of cardboard, which makes – where you slide into the furnace filter, it just seems really flimsy. So we’re not really sure who to contact. Of course, the gentleman that did it said it was done right. And if we went with all metal all the way up, like most ductwork is made out of, then it would be really noisy.

    TOM: Well, not necessarily. That’s not true at all. So if you were to replace this fiberboard ductwork with metal ducts properly constructed and installed, it would not be noisy at all. Now, some people complain about metal ducts because when they fill with air, they have – sometimes they have a popping sound. That’s called oil-canning but it’s very easy to fix and frankly, it’s very easy to avoid if you do the metal ducts correctly.

    So I think that the best option for you is to think about replacing those with metal ducts and then also a flex duct where it makes sense to do that. It’s a pretty quiet system and it’s real sturdy and you can have the contractor build in a place for the filter at the same time.

    KIM: OK. And shouldn’t that have been put in with the filter or with – in there originally? Or should we have to pay extra for that?

    TOM: No, the filter should – the filter area should be built in at the same time. It all should be one price.

    KIM: Yeah, that’s kind of what I wanted to know, where to go from here so …

    TOM: Alright. Well, 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 MoneyPit.com. Up ahead, we love fall but you know who else does? Plumbers. Fall is the season of clogs and plumbers really like that. We’re going to tell you how to keep your house off the list of his emergency stops, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

    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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You love your home. We know it. You know who else might like your home? Burglars. Especially if they’re looking inside and see you don’t have an alarm system.

    Well, one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to be able to scare away those intruders with a 110-decibel siren. And we’re giving away a Swann wireless home security system worth 130 bucks.

    Now, this system, you can set it with a remote and it’s not going to go off unless something pretty big moves in front of it, so that means no false alarms.

    TOM: Now, while we’re giving away one system this hour, this is just one of the many prizes that Swann is giving away in its Get Connected, Be Protected Sweepstakes going on right now at Swann.com. The system we’re giving away is worth $130. If you’d like to win it, you’ve got to be in it. So pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Brian in Texas who has an air-conditioning question. And in Texas, you probably need that. What’s going on, Brian?

    BRIAN: I’m actually looking at purchasing a home. It was built in 1914. It’s on the historical list and I’ve already gotten permission to do pretty much whatever I need to to it. But I was trying to find out what would be more efficient: either air-conditioning units in the walls or would it be better to just open up the walls and put in central air?

    TOM: Well, from an efficiency perspective, certainly central air conditioning is going to be a lot more efficient than a bunch of window units.

    Now, when you have a historical home, though, it becomes a little more tricky about how you run the ducts. There is a type of system, though, that’s called a high-velocity system – low-volume, high-velocity system. And this uses ducts that are about the same diameter as a dryer vent – around 3 inches or so – and they can run inside wall cavities without necessitating the destruction of tearing the wall apart. So if you hook up with a good HVAC contractor and go through your options, you should be able to figure out a way to get a central air-conditioning system in this home with the least amount of disturbance and destruction possible.

    BRIAN: Actually, it’s got the original plaster walls and I really would hate to lose those.

    LESLIE: Now, I don’t think you have to. If it’s done correctly and if it’s done creatively, there are ways to work with what you have.

    BRIAN: OK. Well, I really do appreciate it. I just – I really didn’t know what would be the best way to go with it. I mean this is my first time dealing with anything historical. I’ve had other small projects but this I’ve been real hesitant on. I’ve listened to you guys’ show for a while and I really, really do appreciate your advice. And I just – I want to say thank you.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome, Brian. So I think you can do this project. Keep in mind that if it becomes more complicated to run the ducts, that could run the costs up. So get some estimates so you know what you’re getting involved with. And whatever you do, make sure you get a professional home inspection of this house done before you buy it. A good home inspector will be able to screen out any major problems before you sign on the dotted line, OK?

    BRIAN: Very well. I do appreciate it. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Well, plumbers have a special reason to love Halloween. It just so happens to kick off the season that money starts rolling in for them, mainly because of what people are putting in their garbage disposals in the fall season.

    TOM: Yep. And one of the most common culprits is pumpkin guts. The gooey, sort of fibrous insides are all full of seeds and it will clog a garbage disposal faster than you can say, “Boo.” And the same goes for your toilet if you’re thinking about flushing them there.

    Now, that’s true with really any kind of stringy or fibrous vegetable: things like celery and potato peels, as well as even shrimp shells. They can wreak havoc on your disposer. And while it might seem obvious to you, the plumbers also get a lot of calls after someone dumps grease or oil or fat down the drain. So just don’t do it and you won’t need to keep the plumber on speed dial.

    LESLIE: Now, if you don’t want to pay for your plumber’s kids to go to college, start composting all of your leftover veggies. It’s really an economical way to have great sort of soil for your own backyard. It’s kind of fun; it’s an interesting process. If you’ve got kids, it’s really something educational and cool. And if you don’t know how to do it, you can learn how to make your own composting pile or storage container at MoneyPit.com. Just search “how to make compost.”

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question.

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

    TOMMY: My question concerns my dryer. I moved into a house that had the washer and dryer already here in my laundry room. And when I was cleaning back behind the dryer – the dryer hose is aluminum type and it’s attached with tape. Obviously, not done correctly. And what I want to know is what would you recommend? Is there a better dryer-vent hose or a tube of some kind? It’s a fairly short distance from the wall to the dryer.

    TOM: If it’s the flexible aluminum hose, then that – I would probably go ahead and put that back in. If it’s vinyl, I would not. But you’re sure it’s aluminum, right?

    TOMMY: It is. It’s like shiny aluminum foil.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And that’s the one that you want there, because that’s heat-resistant.

    TOMMY: Oh, you do. OK.

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOMMY: Rather than the white vinyl? It’s better than the white vinyl.

    LESLIE: Right. Because the white vinyl could overheat and potentially cause a fire hazard. So the aluminum one is great because it won’t hold onto all of that heat.

    Now, the question is, where does your dryer hose vent to? Does it go to the outside? Has it been cleaned in a while? You know, these are all maintenance things that you need to be doing for your dryer.

    TOMMY: Right, Leslie. And that’s what I wanted to do because I am so afraid of fire hazards. OK, so I need to detach it? And it is vented to an outside vent.

    TOM: So what you should do is get a dryer-vent cleaning brush. There is one that’s available online called the Gardus LintEater. Leslie and I both have one of these brushes. They’re really cool. They’re like brushes on the end of fiberglass rods. And you stick them into a drill and just spin them into the vent and go back and forth and pull them out.

    TOMMY: Oh, my goodness.

    TOM: And you’d be amazed how much dust comes out of those things. So that’s one – I’m sure you could probably find it at a home center or at a hardware store, as well. But a dryer-duct cleaning brush is what you really need for that.

    TOMMY: OK. And then when I reattach that hose to the vent and then to the dryer, obviously I don’t want to use tape, which is what they’ve used.

    TOM: There’s a big bracket that is sort of like a clamp that fits around that. And it goes over the hose and the hose goes over the vent and then it all sort of screws together. And I’m sure you could also find those at a home center or a hardware store. No, you should definitely not tape it together.

    TOMMY: I will do that. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, we’ve got tips to turn a bland wall into a masterpiece. Find out how, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit has been brought to you by Andersen Windows. Replacing windows or patio doors is always a big decision. Lowering energy bills? Well, that’s easy. And Andersen Windows, the number-one brand of windows in America, makes replacing your old, drafty windows easy with the new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Available at The Home Depot.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: One question we hear all the time here at The Money Pit is about wet basements. If you have water in your basement, chances are the problem is not in your basement walls at all; it’s outside with your drainage system. So log on to MoneyPit.com and search “basement waterproofing tips” to prevent another soaking.

    And while you’re there, ask us a question about your money pit. That is what Chris did. He says, “I just bought my first home. I’m eager to start fixing it up. How do I know how much paint I need to buy? Is there a square-footage-per-gallon calculation?”

    LESLIE: Chris, generally, the rule is a gallon of paint is going to cover 400 square feet. If you’re going with a specialty finish, pay attention to what’s typed on the can itself. It could be 300, it could be 150, it could be as low as 60 square foot per gallon. But if you’re going with straight-up paint, think 400 square feet per gallon. If you’re going with a quart, it’s 100.

    TOM: From Carol in Long Island, she says, “Our home was built six years ago. We waited two years to make sure there were no leaks in the basement and then had our basement finished. After the hurricane, our basement developed a massive leak. We put in new gutters and downspouts, extended 4 feet away from the foundation.” Good. “We’ve been advised by a contractor to have the basement waterproofed but the estimates are over $6,000. We do not have this kind of money.”

    Well, that’s good, Carol, because if your basement flooded due to the hurricane, you don’t have to waterproof it. Yeah, you did the right thing. You improved your roof drainage system; you’re getting the water away from the house. You could also improve the grading around the house, make sure the soil slopes away.

    But the fact that your home didn’t flood for two years is very, very good. The fact that it flooded after the hurricane, not so surprising because we had massive amounts of rain and perhaps you did not adequately manage that water at the foundation perimeter. Now that you’ve addressed that, I think that you’re good to go.

    So save the six grand, improve the drainage a little bit and if anything, run those downspouts underground and drop that water well away from the foundation.

    Well, whether you’re an aspiring art collector or you’ve just got a bunch of photos, framed pictures or artwork, these things can dress up a bland wall in a hurry. Leslie tells us how, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, nothing expresses your personality and décor more than what you actually hang on the walls. While there are no hard and fast rules about what you should hang and how it should be hung, there are some guidelines that you can follow to make the most of your art.

    First of all, a common problem is hanging your photos and art too high. It can throw off the proportions of your space, so you want to think of things being more at eye level. Also, a small picture looks kind of sad and lonely in the middle of the wall all by itself, so why not try grouping several pictures together? If you fear that your pictures are going to clash with each other, try putting them all in the same color or same-shape frame.

    Now, here’s a good tip: if you do have a lot of pieces of art or a lot of different photos in different-size frames and you’re not really sure how it’s going to look and you don’t want to put a lot of nail holes in the wall, take some craft paper or some resin paper – whatever you’ve got lying around – and cut out pieces of paper, tracing the exact size of those images. And then go ahead and start playing with them on the wall, using some of that Sticky Tack that’s not going to mar the wall, so you can see exactly where you want to hang things and how to space them out.

    And then you can sort of color with numbers, essentially, by taking off that one piece of paper and putting up that piece of art. It really makes it kind of foolproof and it gives you a good sense of how those pieces are going to fill up that wall. So that’s a great tip to follow if you’re thinking of making a collage of art today.

    Now, you’d really be surprised at how great things are going to look. Different sizes, different styles. Just really start experimenting and turn that boring wall from sad to happy.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we try to make sure that all your home improvement projects turn out to be happy ones. If you’ve got questions 24-7, we’re available at MoneyPit.com or by picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up next week on the program, oil stains, cracks and frost heave, all things that can turn your beautiful driveway into a fright. We’re going to talk about driveway repairs, 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.


    (Copyright 2012 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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