Using Utility Programs to Lower Electricity Costs, Garage Door Improvements and Dorm Room Decor

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, right now, give us a call because we are here to help you with your home improvement project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Hey, we hope you’re having a fantastic Labor Day weekend. And because it’s Labor Day weekend, we’re not necessarily saying you have to do any home improvement labor today. But hey, let’s plan for the future. Fall is just ahead. And if you’ve got a project in mind that you’d like to do, give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one of the projects you might have in mind is how you might reduce your electric bill moving ahead. If it’s a real shocker, we’ve got some tips for you on how utility companies are required to offer programs to help you use less of their product. We’ll have advice on how you can best take advantage of that savings, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And do you know what is the most used door in your home? Well, for many people, it’s the overhead garage door. And that actually celebrates its 95th anniversary this year. We’re going to share some fun facts about the history of the garage door, as well as a peek into the biggest safety and décor improvements that have happened in almost the past 100 years.

    TOM: Plus, are you shopping for your college student’s home-away-from-home? We’re going to have some tips on which dorm essentials offer up function, flair and some extra space.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the perfect product to help eliminate mold, as well as mildew, moss and algae. We’ve got 3 bottles of Spray & Forget 1-gallon House and Deck Cleaner. And that’s got a nestable trigger. It’ll be going out to one listener who calls in with their question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Spray & Forget is the best performing, no-rinse exterior cleaner and it removes exterior stains without the need for rinsing. That 3-bottle package is worth 84 bucks and it’s going out to one caller drawn at random. So give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Valerie in Washington is on the line and has a question about outdoor décor. What’s going on?

    VALERIE: I have a simple railing on my front porch and it’s cedar. Part of it’s stained to keep it from deteriorating, so it’s orange-colored. And the rest is just naturally-aged cedar-silvery. And I want it to be white to match the rest of my trim. So, there’s two different colors and do I do an undercoat – a primer? And is it oil-based? And can I get a stain – a pure-white stain – for it?

    TOM: So, you probably can. What I would suggest is a two-fold approach. I would prime it first and then I would use a solid-color stain. Because I think that will give you the sort of more natural look that you seem to be looking for. But you should prime it and then apply the solid-color stain.

    Now, because this is off-color orange, as you describe it, if you don’t prime it, you may get some of that that comes through. That’s why I want you to prime it first. You’d use an exterior-grade primer and you’d use a solid-color stain. If you buy both the primer and the stain from the same manufacturer, you can be sure that they’ll work well together.

    VALERIE: OK. Does this matter if it’s oil-based or not?

    TOM: I would probably recommend an oil-based primer, only because you’re going to get better coverage over that darker color. But in terms of the stain itself, that could be latex-based.

    VALERIE: Oh. OK, then. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it and I enjoy your program.

    TOM: Well, thank you very much. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, it’s time to chat with a pro out of Iowa. We’ve got Ed on the line who wants to, you know, get some information to put some issues to rest. What’s going on, Ed?

    ED: I’ve got a homeowner in the Omaha area that is doing an extensive remodel. We’ve removed an awful lot of walls in the home and obviously, there’s a lot of new sheetrock and texturing taking place. Typically, when I do a job like this, obviously, you’re plastic-ing off various rooms to keep dust under control. But you know how dust can move around, regardless of how you try and capture it with blankets and so forth.

    TOM: Right. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    ED: This particular issue, I’ve asked the homeowner to regularly check and change their furnace filter.

    TOM: OK.

    ED: And when she changed the filter, unfortunately, I saw one of the cheapest – those blue fiberglass filters that you and I …

    TOM: Right, yeah. We call them “rock-stoppers.”

    ED: That’s about it. That stop a rock and not much more.

    OK. Now, unfortunately, the response I got from this gal was not what I normally get. And here’s the deal, Tom: her brother is a salesman for heating-and-air-conditioning equipment in the Omaha market.

    TOM: OK.

    ED: And he tells her, “Lori, do not buy an expensive filter. Buy the cheapest filter that you can buy because the new, highly-rated efficiency furnace filters that have the MERV rating 10, 12, 14 and up, they create so much resistance for the blower motor on the furnace, you will shorten the life of your blower motor significantly. Therefore, I recommend not using those filters.”

    I’ve never heard that and I told her, “Lori, I’ve never heard that in my life.”

    TOM: So here’s what I would tell Lori. I would say, “Lori, you either put in a high-efficiency filter or you become a high-efficiency filter. Do you want the dust stopped at the filter itself or do you want the dust stopped in your lungs? Because that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

    And beyond that, whenever you’re doing a project that’s generating this level of dust, this is the rare circumstance when I will recommend a duct cleaning when the project is done. But you’re wise to try to limit the dust up until that happens.

    But look, if she’s got a family member that’s planting this in her brain, you’ve given her your best advice, I mean you’ve just got to walk away. I wouldn’t get between her and her brother.

    ED: OK.

    TOM: But I think that you’re correct. I think she is incorrect. I’ve never, ever seen any data whatsoever that said that high-efficiency filters cause shortened blower lives. And I’m sure I would’ve heard of this by now, considering for how long we’ve been talking about these and studying them.

    If she doesn’t put a good filter in, what’s going to happen, in this case – and if she doesn’t clean it – if she’s got a central air-conditioning system, that evaporator coil where all the air is being pulled through is going to get cake-solid with all that dust. And then it’s going to have a very short life for an air-conditioning compressor. Which isn’t terrible news because, let’s face it, she does have a brother in the business who can buy her a new one.

    ED: Well, I – and Tom, I …

    TOM: And that’s what I would call “poetic justice.”

    ED: Very well said. And I just wanted comfort in knowing that, in all the years I’ve been encouraging people to use high-efficiency filters and going forward, am I giving, as a contractor, good advice or am I not?

    TOM: Nah, I think you’re giving excellent advice. Keep it up. Don’t let one bad experience dissuade you.

    ED: Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Leslie.

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

    LESLIE: Tom in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you?

    TOM IN NEW JERSEY: We have a problem here. We have double-pane windows and the seal broke in one of them. And I was wondering if I could repair it myself by using clear caulk around the entire perimeter when the window becomes clear, as it sometimes does. If that does not work, would I make it – this will go for a professional to replace the window – the entire window – by doing what – you know, the caulking job?

    TOM: So, what’s happening here is you have a thermal-pane window and the seal, which is called “swiggle,” deteriorated and let moisture in and that’s why you have the fogging in the double-paned window. And the reason that sometimes it fogs and sometimes it’s clear is because it really depends on what the temperature is inside and outside and whether it’s got condensation there or not. It can’t be repaired, as you’ve described.

    Could you try to seal that when it happens to be clear? Would that have maybe some minor effect? It could but I just don’t think you’re going to stop it and I wouldn’t even bother trying with it. Your choices are to either live with it – because the good news is that while it’s unattractive, it doesn’t significantly impact its energy efficiency – or you could replace the window or just the glass itself.

    But I think if you were to order new glass for that window, you may find it to be almost as expensive as doing the window itself. So I would probably tell you just to live with it or replace the window. But to try to – to caulk it I don’t think it’s going to have any impact whatsoever.

    Actually, that’s a great idea, though. No one’s ever asked me that question, so kudos for the effort. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, has your electricity bill reached new heights? We’ll have tips on how your own utility company can help you cut costs, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by the Generac iQ2000 Portable Inverter Generator. Quiet, portable power anywhere, from home to the jobsite, campsite, tailgating and more. Money Pit listeners who call 800-965-1172 or visit will receive free shipping and a free copy of Tom and Leslie’s book to the first 100 who order. That’s 800-965-1172 or

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Happy Labor Day Weekend to all. Hey, if you call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. It’s a set of 3 bottles of Spray & Forget’s 1-gallon House and Deck Cleaner with Nestable Trigger.

    Each bottle creates about 150 square feet and it removes exterior stains caused by mold, mildew, algae, moss, lichen, all without the need for rinsing. It’s got a very easy-to-use nestable trigger spray that allows for easy application on flowerpots and decks and patios and walkways and pavers and stone and outdoor furniture, you name it. Plus, I like the fact that it’s eco-friendly. There’s no bleach, there’s no lye, there’s no acids, there’s no phosphates or heavy metals in this product.

    You can learn more at This 3-bottle package with shipping is worth a total value of 83.85 but it’s going out for free to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Kathy in Arizona is on the line and needs some help cleaning the garage. What can we do for you?

    KATHY: Well, we bought this house last fall and the garage floor is, I’m sure, grease from the cars but I don’t know how to clean it up. I’m just wondering if I can do that myself or if I’ve got to hire somebody to do that.

    TOM: I think you can do it yourself. What you want to do is pick up some trisodium phosphate. It’s known as TSP. You’ll see it in the hardware store or paint aisle of a home center. Mix that up into a paste-like consistency and cover the area of the stain. Let it sit for a while and then wash it out. Now, old oil stains are among the most difficult to take up but it will brighten it up a bit.

    And if you want it to be cleaner than that, what I would do is I would wash the floor, let it dry really well and then paint it. You could use an epoxy painting – garage-floor painting system. It’s a two-part epoxy that’s chemical-cured. So you mix the two parts of the paint together, you apply it to the floor, then you wait an hour or two and it basically hardens right up for you. And then it’ll be a lot easier to clean after that.

    KATHY: OK. So I can still put that epoxy over if I don’t get all this grease up?

    TOM: No. Once you clean up the grease, as I mentioned, you may – it may – the grease may be up but it might still be stained. And if you wanted to make it look nicer, then you could paint it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because the beginning part of this kit is usually like an etching compound that sort of prepares the floor to receive the coating. So if you can just get the actual grease off, even though the stain is there, it’ll prepare it so that it will adhere to it.

    KATHY: Alright. OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Ryan in Georgia is in hot water, literally. What’s going on at your money pit, Ryan?

    RYAN: Something kind of bested me for a little bit. I’ve got an idea of what it might be but I’m not 100-percent sure. I’ve got something that I have, which is very – it’s always very hot in Georgia about 80 percent of the time. And every time, when we turn – during the day, we turn on the cold water. It’s scalding, scalding hot for about two to four minutes and it depends – that the length on, I guess, what time of day it is. But the – I could even turn on the hot water and the hot water will be a lot colder than the cold water. And eventually, it will get colder. But I checked every other water source in my house.

    I’ve checked the shower and the showers are fine; it’s not affected whatsoever. The only thing, assuming – that I think it might be, which you guys probably know more about this than I do is – the reason why it’s not doing it in the showers – because that has the – I don’t know if you want to call it the “thermostat” or a “temperature gauge” that controls the cold water and the hot water that makes sure it’s not too hot. And I think, since we’re in Georgia, a lot of the pipes are in the attic and attics. When it’s most – when it’s 90 to 100 degrees out, they – gets pretty hot in our attics.

    TOM: Well, I think you’re right on track with that theory, Ryan, because I’ve seen that in my own home in New Jersey. I know it’s not in every fixture, of course, because it really depends on how the pipes are run. But I know that the way my kitchen is built, it was sort of an – it’s an addition that was done in the early 1900s. And the plumbing on that is sort of the – on the furthermost southern wall.

    It gets very, very warm there during the day and sometimes, when we don’t use it all day – and then I turn it on, I do get hot water through the cold faucet. And I know that’s just because the pipes in that area are being exposed to a lot of heat. And the pipes are just warming up and it’s warming the water in turn. But after that warm water that’s in those pipes that are right in that surrounding area runs through the system, it gets cold again.

    So I think that’s exactly what you’re seeing here. I don’t necessarily think it’s a problem. It’s more of an annoyance and yes, it does waste a little bit of water. But does this happen in the winter or is it just a summer issue?

    RYAN: No, no. Not 100 percent if it happens in the winter. But it might but I know even our attics sometimes, in the winter, does get pretty decently warm, too. But the – I know it’s definitely in the spring, fall and summer.

    TOM: I mean the only thing that you could do is you could insulate those pipes. If you can get access to them, you could put fiberglass insulating sleeves around your cold-water pipes and that would prevent them from overheating as they are right now.

    RYAN: That’ll even make a difference, even though they’re – all the piping is all in the attic? The attic’s pretty hot.

    TOM: Well, right, wherever they’re heating up. And that water gets to your faucet from the attic really quick.

    RYAN: Yeah.

    TOM: OK?

    RYAN: Alright. So just a fiberglass sleeve? I’ve seen a little – looks like foam – black foam sleeves. Does that work, too?

    TOM: Yeah. You could do that, too. I think the fiberglass sleeves are a little bit more expensive but they’ll work better.

    RYAN: OK. Yeah, I’ll definitely do that then.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Ryan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Glad we were able to solve that mystery.

    So was your last electric bill a big shock? Believe it or not, your electric company actually wants you to save money and most have some energy-saving programs just sitting out there for you to take advantage of.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. For example, some utilities actually help homeowners power down through periods of high demand. And they’re offering pricing plans that reward off-peak use. Plus, many utilities actually offer a menu of rebates on improvements that help you trim power or even go green at home.

    TOM: Next, consider adding your own energy monitor. Now, these are pretty easy to install and they work with your current electric meter to provide real-time information on energy costs and use. The bottom line is because the more you know, the more ways you’ll find to cut back on your energy use.

    LESLIE: Sylvia in Ohio is on the line and clearly spilled some glue somewhere. What’s going on?

    SYLVIA: No, I didn’t spill glue. We have – our carpet in our kitchen is glued down like 20 years ago.

    LESLIE: Did you say carpeting in your kitchen?

    SYLVIA: Yes, they used glue to put the carpet down. So my question is: how do we get it off the floor without tearing the whole floor out?

    TOM: What kind of flooring was it glued over? Is it hardwood?

    SYLVIA: No, just …

    TOM: Plywood?

    SYLVIA: Yes, uh-huh.

    TOM: Some sort of subfloor? So, really, you don’t have to get it completely off; you just have to kind of get it smooth so you can put whatever kind of flooring down you want to do over that.

    What kind of flooring do you want to end up with, Sylvia?

    SYLVIA: We want to put hardwood over it or on it.

    TOM: So, what you should do is get a citrus adhesive remover. There’s a number of different citrus-based adhesive removers. They’re not as caustic as some of the other adhesive removers. And what it will do is soften that adhesive. And your goal here is just to get any of the sort of the thicker, chunkier areas removed so that what you could do is put down another layer of plywood – an underlayment of plywood – say, like a ¼-inch luan or something like that. Then on top of that, you could install your hardwood floor.

    There’s lots of options with the hardwood floor. You can use engineered hardwood, which is thinner but very, very beautiful. And it’s more dimensionally stable and it would be probably a better choice for a kitchen. Because if you put regular hardwood down and you ever had a big leak, spilled a pot of anything, it will swell up and become damaged. But if you use engineered, it’s much more stable and resistant to any type of swelling when it gets damp or wet.

    SYLVIA: Oh, that’s great. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Up next, C.G. Johnson. Maybe you’re not familiar with that name but his 95-year-old invention sure is familiar to you. I’m talking about the overhead garage door. We’re going to have some advice on how these doors can help step up your home’s curb appeal, after this.

    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.

    Well, we’re approaching the 95th anniversary of a product that you may use several times a day. And it’s one that certainly has had its ups and downs, which is a very good thing.

    TOM: Yes, it certainly is, because we’re talking about your garage door. It was officially called an upward-lifting garage door and it was invented in 1921 by C.G. Johnson who founded Overhead Door, a company that is still going strong today. With us to talk about the interesting history of this invention is Ali Isham, the marketing director.

    Hey, Ali.

    ALI: Hi.

    TOM: So this is a pretty cool story. Way back in 1921, C.G. had an idea. Do you know what perpetuated this? Was there a problem that he saw this as a solution to? I mean what kinds of garage doors were common before this?

    ALI: Well, there wasn’t really. Horses were becoming a thing of the past as the automobile was invented. And more and more people were starting to buy those old Ford Model Ts and parking them in their horse barns. And I think he saw the need where – “You know, we’re parking these in our barns and there isn’t a way to protect them or enclose them.” And he wanted to find an easy solution to be able to access your vehicle and also keep it protected. And he came up with a genius idea of an upward-lifting garage door that was easy for them to pull up and access their vehicle.

    TOM: It sounds like it almost preceded the garage itself if they were keeping the vehicles in the barns.

    ALI: Yes.

    TOM: And so was – he got the patent on it, I guess, right away and the rest is history. What kinds of changes to the garage door happened after that?

    ALI: Well, there’s been a number of changes over the past 95 years. It started off as just being a sectional door that rolled up on a track. It then got a little bit more complicated where they added insulation into the garage door panels. They started to create different types of slats. You see heavy commercial doors today with the rolling steel barrels. It also evolved into security grills and all different types of industrial doors. You even see now there’s high-speed doors that are in your factories and in different applications. So, there’s a number of different types of doors that have evolved just from that first upward-lifting, sectional garage door.

    LESLIE: Well, I think it’s interesting when you keep referring to garage doors as evolving and they truly have evolved, especially in a design sense. I think it’s so interesting that now you can select a garage to really be a design statement for your home.

    ALI: Absolutely. It used to be just a plain, white, vanilla garage door is what everybody had. But now, more and more people are seeing that the garage door takes up a large space in the front of their home, especially if it is front-facing and attached to the home. And by just adding a different color or a wood-grain finish or windows can add that extra pop to a home, makes it stand out, have that extra curb appeal.

    TOM: We’re talking to Ali Isham. She’s the marketing director for Overhead Door, a company that’s celebrating its 95th anniversary and whose founder actually invented the upward-lifting garage door.

    Now, C.G. didn’t stop right there. He moved on a few years later and figured, “Well, now we’ve got the door. But I’m going to make it easier to open.” And he also invented the first electric garage- door opener. That’s kind of cool.

    ALI: Absolutely. Just 5 years after the door, he came up with the electric opener in 1926. And boy, you talk about modern convenience. Instead of having to go up and actually hand-lift your garage door, you could easily pull a handle or press a button and open your garage door. And it’s something that today I think we all take for granted. We go in and out of it all the time and don’t think twice about it. I think back, man, I don’t know if I would want to lift my garage door every time I wanted to go in and out of my house. So I am very thankful for his invention.

    TOM: I love the fact that he used a Model T4 to outfit it with a prototype of the garage door to market this. He was a scrapper, right? He went door to door selling these garage doors and signing up distributors for his business. Brilliant move but that was probably way before that sort of business model was even very common.

    ALI: Absolutely. And no, his travels took him everywhere and he set up distributors all across the U.S. And those businesses – some of which are still in business today. We have distributors that date back just about as many years as we’ve been in business. And we have several owners of our distributors who have generations of owners of our garage-door distributors. So, it’s a very family-oriented company. Truly believes in the product and truly believes in customer service.

    TOM: We talked about the décor elements of the garage door. From the technical side of it, what’s kind of really new and innovative that you guys are working on? What are we going to see next from Overhead Door?

    ALI: We’re constantly working on different designs and materials. We have recently come out with some wood-grain steel. So it’s stamped steel with a wood-grain finish on it that looks like real wood but it’s actually durable steel. So it doesn’t require the heavy maintenance that the custom wood door might but looks gorgeous on homes. And more and more people are adding wood-looking garage doors to their home. And we also – we have a fiberglass door that looks just like wood, as well, and it’s really hefty and heavily insulated.

    On the opener side, we have exciting, new things coming up. We just launched our new OHD Anywhere, which allows you to operate your electric garage-door opener with the use of your phone – your smartphone. So there is an app you can download, a little device that you put on your opener and it allows you to open and close your door from anywhere in the world.

    TOM: Wow. From 1921 to the present, I’m sure C.G. is smiling down upon you as we speak. Ali Isham, the marketing director of Overhead Door, thank you so much for being a part of The Money Pit, Ali.

    ALI: Thank you.

    TOM: And, hey, if you’d like to learn more about Overhead Door, check out their website at That’s where you’ll also find a visualizer to help you choose the door that’s perfect for you. Or you can pick up your phone and call them at 800-929-DOOR. That’s 800-929-DOOR.

    LESLIE: And still ahead, do you have a college student heading off to a dorm room soon? Well, we’re going to share some fun and functional organizational ideas that can help them move right in smoothly. We’ll share those tips, in a bit.

    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’re going to get some help with your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a very useful prize. We’ve got 3 bottles of the Spray & Forget 1-gallon House and Deck Cleaner. And that features a nestable trigger. And you can treat about 150 square feet with 1 bottle.

    Now, you’re going to be able to remove exterior stains that are caused by mold, mildew, algae, moss, even lichen without the need for rinsing it off. It’s really easy to use with that nestable trigger. And it allows for easy application on your flowerpots, your deck, patios, walkways, pavers, stone, outdoor furniture. I mean I really could go on and on. You can use it to clean so many things. It’s eco-friendly. There’s no bleach or lye or acid or phosphates or even heavy metals in it. So you can use it around the lawn and garden.

    If you want to check it out or buy some for yourself, go on over to But this hour, if you give us a call and we draw your name at random, you could win a Spray & Forget 1-gallon House and Deck Cleaner with Nestable Trigger worth 16.95 each. And since we’re giving away 3, it’s a total value of $83.85 to be exact.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading to South Dakota where Esther has a garage question. What can we do for you today?

    ESTHER: Well, we have a long, skinny garage with one door. And I would like to extend the cement floor, of course, and loosen all those bolts that fasten it to the cement and turn it on its side and put two doors or a double door on this long side so we could fit two cars in there.

    TOM: So you want to take the door from the end of the house – where it just basically opens up to this long, extra-long garage – and you want to swing the doors over to the side of the house so you can have room for a double door. Is that correct?

    ESTHER: Yeah. I just want to turn the garage. I’d leave the hole on the end, you know. I would make that into a sliding door instead of overhead doors so it wouldn’t get in the way of the trams up on top.

    TOM: Right.

    ESTHER: But someone said that they didn’t think that that way – then the tracks would be going parallel with the stringers across the top.

    TOM: So your first challenge here – before we talk about yours doors, because that’s the last thing that you have to deal with. The first challenge is you have to actually structurally change that long side of the house to be able to have these now two large garage doors in it. So that is going to require rebuilding those walls. And is this a two-story house on that side?

    ESTHER: OK, no. This is not an attached garage. This is a free-standing garage.

    TOM: So on that long side, though, is that where the roof sits?

    ESTHER: Yes.

    TOM: The roof rafters come down on that side? Alright. So that is a load-bearing wall, Esther, so it has to be reframed for a standard garage opening. That’s a big job. This is not just a matter of moving the tracks over and knocking out a few 2x4s. This is a big job. You’re going to have to have a header across that that serves as a beam that’s going to support that roof.

    ESTHER: Now, would it be better to have one wide, wide door with the beam across or two separate doors with a column in?

    TOM: Just as much work. Doesn’t matter.

    ESTHER: Oh. OK.

    TOM: Big job. Not a do-it-yourself job. A job for a pro. Frame that out and then you’ll – and then you could – perhaps you could preserve the old garage door and move it to one side. But I’ve got to tell you, garage doors are a real pain-in-the-neck to take apart. They’ve got about a million pieces to them and they’re a lot easier to put together when you start all disassembled and are built in place.

    ESTHER: Well, we have turned garages before, in different places where we live.

    TOM: Alright. So this is a project that you are very familiar with, except in this case, you’re going to have to reframe that exterior wall. And that is the bigger part of this project.


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

    Well, back-to-school time is just about here. And for college-bound kids, that means shopping for dorm-room essentials. So to make sure your scholar has furniture that’s functional, there’s a few things to consider.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you want to think about tower shelving. It doesn’t take up much floor space but it really gives you a lot of storage up high. You also want to look for pieces of furniture that perform double duty, like a storage ottoman. These cubes are perfect for use as extra seating or as a side table. And it really gives your student a secret space to stow extra blankets or towels or clothing or whatever.

    TOM: And you also want to think about how you can make the most of every inch of dorm room with under-bed storage bins – they’re really handy – as well as the over-the-door hanging racks. Now, if you add in a collapsible laundry bin for their closet, your college kid will have all the basics they need to get going on the new school year.

    LESLIE: Bob in Louisiana is on the line with a haunted attic. Wooooh! What kind of crazy noises are you hearing from up there?

    BOB: Hey, Leslie. It sounds like a compressor coming on. I have searched that place from one end to the other. The house has been empty – been vacant for about two years. It’s my mother-in-law’s home. And we moved furniture out recently. We even had a plumber come out and look at it.

    When you hear the noise, you can reach over behind the washing machine and feel the pipes and feel the vibration in the lines. I thought maybe somebody had left a compressor upstairs but nothing doing. And it’s adjacent to one of the water heaters. I have three 60-gallon electric heaters upstairs.

    TOM: So, you say, Bob, that you feel the vibration in the plumbing lines when you sort of touch them?

    BOB: You bet. Yes, sir.

    TOM: And are you on city water or are you on well water?

    BOB: We are on city water.

    TOM: Sometimes, if you have a bad main valve, you can get sort of a vibration as the water forces its way through the valve, especially if it’s not completely open. I wonder if the water company might be consulted in this case and have them check the main valve, have them close it and then completely reopen it.

    The other thing that comes to mind that might have nothing to do with plumbing is, because you mentioned this is in the attic, is sometimes with attic ventilation – and I don’t know what kind of vents you have, whether you have ridge vents or soffit vents or roof vents. But sometimes, we’ve seen situations – in fact, in my own kitchen, I’ve got a kitchen that’s a one-story section of the house. And when the wind blows over from a certain direction, I get a noise. It’s not a whistling but it is a very low-pitch kind of hum, almost like a vibration-like sound into that attic. And I know it’s because of the vents. It’s the wind just sort of working their way over the vents and causing a little bit of friction there. And it’s leaving that sound behind.

    BOB: OK. I do have ridge vents in it. And so I’ll pay attention to that, too.

    TOM: Yeah, it could be the turbulence.

    BOB: The main valve is one thing that I had not even thought about. You guys are great.

    TOM: Alright, Bob. Well, you let us know if it worked and then we’ll accept the fact that we’re great, OK? But we’re glad we were able to give you some ideas. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, you enjoyed a summer of kicking back. Now it’s time to get back on that DIY wagon. We’re going to share some fall fix-ups you should think about right now, after this.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Turning now to the posts that have reached us this week at and online at or First one is from Gabe.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Gabe writes: “Have you ever heard of or used insulating paint additives that’s said to improve the heating and cooling of your home by painting the product on your walls and ceiling of your home and inside your attic? The paint additive contains ceramic microspheres that have reflective properties. I’m interested in finding out how well it works.”

    He says it’s a NASA spin-off.

    TOM: Well, the concept of insulating paint has been kicking around for, what, at least a decade now to my knowledge? But I’ve really never seen any convincing data that it works as promised. I mean ceramics, yep, they’re a great insulator for rockets but it doesn’t mean it’s going to work well for walls and ceilings.

    You know, my suggestion – whenever I hear stuff like this, Leslie – is always to go back to the basics. Why put on insulating paint on your ceiling, for example, if you don’t have enough insulation in your attic?

    So I would go through the basics and make sure you’ve got 15 to 20 inches of insulation in your attic and that your doors are weather-stripped and your windows aren’t leaky and drafty. And all that sort of easier-to-do stuff – gaskets around outlets, for example – they’re pennies a piece and they’ll seal out drafts. So before you turn to sort of the off-brand or wild and wacky alternatives to try to save energy – because everybody’s got a solution to this – go through the basics.

    A good thing to do is to go to the Energy Saver’s website – that’s a D.O.E. website – Department of Energy website. They’ll step your through your own home energy audit. You may find lots of places in your house that are easy to fix that’s going to save you a lot more than adding an unproven paint.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And some of these projects that they’ll recommend through the audit are super easy and cost-effective. And you can handle probably 1 to 10 of them in a day.

    TOM: So, the weather’s cooling down, your calendar’s opening up and you’re looking around at everything that needs to be done before the winter chill sets in. Leslie has tips on weekend projects that can make the most of September’s mild temperatures, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Guys, temperature wise, September really is the perfect month for tackling projects indoors and out. But you’ve got the whole month, so resist the urge to let Labor Day live up to its name. Use this holiday weekend, kick back, relax, daydream about those projects. But once Labor Day’s over, it’s game on, guys. That’s what I’m talking about.

    Now, the weekend after Labor Day, that’s really ideal for making sure that your water heater’s good for all those hot showers you’re going to want all winter long. To keep it running efficiently, you want to drain about 2 gallons of water from your tank heater twice a year. Don’t tackle this, though, without making sure that the heater isn’t only just powered off but it’s had a full hour to cool down. If you head on over to and search “September weekend projects,” you’ll find a whole bunch of safety tips right there about the water heater.

    Now, by mid-September, heating bills – I know I’m saying it: heating bills. Right around the corner, guys. So a fresh furnace filter is really key to keeping those bills low and temperatures high. And if you haven’t done so in a while, now is the time to get on a schedule. Furnace filters really do need to be changed monthly. So make sure you write it down and make sure you do that.

    And since you’re going to be closing all those windows and doors for good soon, you want to use the end of September to clean your house the natural way. Vinegar and water really do work great on windows and wood floors. Salt and baking soda make a great paste that you can use as a scouring cleanser. And olive oil and lemon juice really do create a chemical-free furniture polish. So you can probably do a lot of these great cleaning projects with things you’ve already got in your home. And you can feel good about them being eco-friendly and cost-effective at the same time.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, when you think about threats to your home, hail might not be the first thing you think of. But when it does happen – and it does happen – the damage can be very costly. We’ll have tips on how you can protect your house from nature’s wrath, 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 2016 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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