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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: What are you working on? We are here to help you out. Pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will give you the tips, the ideas, the inspiration so that you have a little bit less exasperation with the projects that you are trying to get done this weekend around your house. Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We’ve been there, we’ve done that. We’ve probably screwed it up a time or two. You can learn from our mistakes if you call us first at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, coming up this hour, if your washer and dryer are getting up there in the years, it might be time to think about replacing them. We’re going to have tips on what to look for in a new, energy-efficient set, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, are you getting ready for the big, spring cleanup? Well, if you are, we’ve got ideas for cleaning your wood floors so that they will shine like they are brand-spanking new.

    TOM: And speaking of wood, it’s great for floors but when it comes to doors, especially the outside kind, well, not so much. There are much better options out there. Coming up, we’re going to have some tips on how you can do a front-door makeover that can spruce up your home for spring and save energy and those maintenance hassles, all at the same time.

    Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a set of two Ready Hang Drapery Hardware systems. These are pretty cool. They’re perfect for renters because they attach to window frames without drilling. Your drapes go up smoothly, simply, quickly and without any special tools. The winner gets two rods in an iron finish with round finials. You can visit ReadyHang.com for more information. That’s ReadyHang.com.

    It’s a prize worth 80 bucks. Going to go to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Dion on the line from Virginia who’s got a question about water heating. Dion, what can we do for you?

    DION: Hi, Leslie. I received in the mail a repair/replacement program offer from our local power company, to replace the water heater. And I was wondering if you had any history or thoughts on if that’s a good idea or not.

    LESLIE: Well, what exactly is your utility company offering in this program?

    DION: Total repair and replacement if your water heater measures up to the guidelines and mine does. They’ll pay for the total repair and replacement for $5 a month.

    LESLIE: So this is almost like a warranty? Like if …

    TOM: It’s a service contract.

    LESLIE: Exactly. Like if something goes wrong, you’re not going to be paying for parts and labor because you’ve got this special program.

    DION: Correct.

    TOM: And how old is your water heater, Dion?

    DION: It is 10 years old.

    LESLIE: Oh, God.

    TOM: OK, OK.

    DION: Yeah. I thought it was a no-brainer, too. After I called …

    LESLIE: You could only spend 10 bucks and need a new one.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah.

    DION: That’s right.

    TOM: Well, look, the utility companies are constantly trying to find new ways to make money and the service-contract business is certainly one of those ways that they do just that. It comes down to how lucky you feel.

    Now, as a home inspector – a former home inspector – I have seen water heaters that were 8 years old that failed, 10 years old that failed and 25 years old that were still going strong. So, is the 60 bucks a year that you’re going to be putting into this, on the off-chance that it does fail during the covered period – give this 5 years and I mean …

    LESLIE: You’ve already paid for a water heater-ish.

    TOM: Yeah. So, I don’t know. Personally, I’m not one for buying service contracts. I’d rather take that money for all the things that could possibly break down in my house and put it in my own slush fund for repair, than give it to the water company for the water heater or for the entry line or for the washing machine or the dryer or the refrigerator.

    All these things have service contracts that are available on them but I personally feel that I’d rather – and if you’re disciplined enough to do this, if you can’t take the hit of an unexpected repair like that, throw a little money in the kitty every once in a while, then maybe you want to consider it.

    But if you can, if you have the discipline to save money or if you can take the hit of an unexpected repair, generally, I don’t buy them because they’re offered because companies make money on them and the chances of you needing them are small.

    LESLIE: And I would also, if this is something you’re considering, look into what constitutes the repair and what constitutes the replacement. Because you could be – at 10 years, you’re kind of at the lifespan of this water heater but are they just going to keep milking it along and fixing parts and drawing out your contract before they’ll give you a new one?

    We have a service contract on our heating system which, I have to tell you, having a 35-almost-year-old boiler in our house, the 200 bucks a year is priceless for us because we have the guy here once, twice a year repairing all sorts of parts. And with the labor and the time and the parts, it ends up costing us nothing so it …

    TOM: And also, when it comes to your heating system, there is truly service that’s required as part of that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. As annual maintenance.

    TOM: It has to be – right, it has to be maintained.

    LESLIE: But also, that person should check out your water heater. Ours does.

    TOM: Yeah, at the same time.

    DION: Well, that’s part of the program. They reserve the right to come in and approve it after – and it doesn’t go into effect until 30 days after I’ve been in the program.

    TOM: Right. And you know why that is? Because they don’t want you to have a water heater that’s a little bit leaky and then all of a sudden you get this service contract on it and the next day, you call and say, “Oh, guess what? My water heater is leaking.” They want to make sure it actually is working for some cooling-off period which, in this case, is 30 days.

    DION: Exactly. And I – before I called you, I didn’t know how old it was.

    TOM: Right.

    DION: We’ve been in the home almost 10 years now and I can’t remember. It was here before we got here; it was new when we got here.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So it’s at least 10 years old.

    TOM: Right. It might just be something – and what we often recommend is when it gets to be to that risky age, you should just think about planning a replacement. The water heaters today are far more efficient.

    Is this gas or electric?

    DION: Electric.

    TOM: Yeah.

    DION: Fifty-five gallon.

    TOM: You might want to think about upgrading to a heat-pump water heater, which is going to be less expensive for you to run.

    DION: Yeah, I saw that on their site. That’s a new technology, the heat-pump water heater.

    TOM: Yeah, it is. It’s been out for a little more than a year now and it’s looking really strong. Take a look at Rheem; they have the HP-50 that’s a great product.

    Alright? So there you go. Hope that helps you out. You know, there’s – generally, we don’t recommend them, especially for individual appliance like that. But if you feel that you’re not going to replace it, you can’t take the risk that it’s going to go, then maybe it’s right for you. But generally, it’s not cost-effective. You’ve got to be a pretty unlucky guy to cash in on all of the service contracts that somebody wants to sell you about your house.

    DION: Exactly. Well, thanks for your time.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. 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. Now you can call in your home repair, home improvement, home design question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are here to help you with all of your spring home improvement chores. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, spring cleaning might be on your to-do list. We’ve got some advice on how to handle wood floors and furniture that won’t harm them but get them looking just fantastic. We’ll tell you how to do that, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.

    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: And you should give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a set of two Ready Hang Drapery Hardware systems. These are perfect for renters, because they attach to the window frames without drilling. Your drapes will go up simply and quickly without any special tools. And I guess, most importantly, you can take them down when you leave and move them to your next apartment.

    LESLIE: And take them with you.

    TOM: The winner gets two rods in an iron finish with their round – with round finials. It’s a prize worth 80 bucks. Going to go to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with your project.

    And maybe you are getting ready to start into that inevitable, spring-cleaning to-do list, aye-yi-yi. When you’re making up that list, do not forget your wood floors because all winter long, they have been the victim of tracked-in snow, salt and ice. And they could probably be in the need of a little TLC right about now.

    But when you’re doing so, you don’t want to use plain water on hardwood floors. Now, using too much moisture can actually cause those wood floors to swell and then they might become permanently damaged. Instead, you want to use a product like Trewax, which is an all-natural floor cleaner. It’s completely natural and it’s safe for both wood and laminate floors, so you can use it all around the house. It’s biodegradable, it’s non-toxic and it’s VOC-free, which are those volatile organic compounds which we all want to make sure we don’t bring into our house, for indoor air quality.

    TOM: You know, the Trewax people sent me a couple of bottles of this a few months ago and I really like it and I’ve been buying it ever since. Did you know that they did, in fact, earn the Good Housekeeping seal of approval with that product, which is not an easy thing to do?

    But what I’ve discovered is that you can’t – you don’t have to use it just on floors; you can use it on pretty much all your wood surfaces. So, I’ve been cleaning kitchen cabinets with it and furniture. And pretty much everything that’s wood, it does a really good job at. I found that it’s available at most major retailers. It’s got a great price and if you want more information on how to find it in your area, you can visit Trewax.com. Trewax.com. That’s T-r-e-w-a-x.com.

    LESLIE: Catherine in Tennessee is on the line with an outside painting project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    CATHERINE: OK. It’s painting the house on the outside. I have wood-shingle siding and I want to know, is there a stain that’s equivalent to an oil-based paint so I can add linseed oil to protect the shingles?

    TOM: OK. You don’t have to get quite so complicated, Catherine. You don’t have to invent your own finish by using linseed oil and stain on top of that. When you stain shingles, you typically prime them first and then you put a solid-color stain on top of that. That gives you excellent adhesion that will protect the shingles and result in a color that can last 8, 10, even 15 years.

    I mean I have a cedar-shingle house and I did just that and my house has been – hasn’t been repainted in probably close to 15 years right now, because the siding never needed it. The stain held perfectly.

    LESLIE: That’s great.


    TOM: And by the way, you know what we had before that, for about 20 years? Linseed oil.

    CATHERINE: Right.

    TOM: So, you’re right.

    CATHERINE: That’s what I used before, with oil-based paint, and it helps to preserve the paint job so …

    TOM: Right, yeah.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Well, linseed oil is great but technology’s caught up and if it’s properly primed and properly stained, you can get a very beautiful, long-lasting finish on the wood siding.

    CATHERINE: Oh, OK, OK. Fine. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Catherine. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ben in Florida is thinking about taking on a flooring project. What can we do for you?

    BEN: Hi. I love your show.

    TOM: Thank you.

    BEN: Been a handyman for 20 years, listening every weekend. Pretty good, helpful tips.

    LESLIE: Thanks.

    BEN: About 20 years ago, I ripped up all my carpet and installed ceramic tile. All of a sudden, my wife decided she wants hardwood floors.

    TOM: OK.

    BEN: No way am I going to chisel up about 1,500 feet of tile. Can I install hardwood floor over the tile?

    TOM: Yeah. If you use engineered hardwood, you can because they can lock together. There’s a very thin underlayment that goes underneath it and then the boards have a locking joint today, where they lock together. It’s fine to install that as a floating floor.

    BEN: Do I need to install cork under it or …?

    TOM: No. There are underlayments that come with engineered floors.

    BEN: OK. Is there an adhesive involved?

    TOM: No. It’s a floating floor; it’s not glued down.

    BEN: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: So it’ll just snap together and sort of float within the space.

    TOM: Snap together like a puzzle.

    BEN: Right. So, it can be done.

    TOM: Absolutely. Take a look at LumberLiquidators.com.

    BEN: Yeah, I’m familiar with them.

    TOM: Yeah, they have a big line of engineered hardwood floors. And you get some of the 50-year warranty product, super-durable finishes and you’ll be good to go.

    BEN: Is it very expensive?

    TOM: Not compared to tearing up 1,500 square feet of ceramic tile.

    BEN: I agree. Well, against my better judgment, I’m going to invite my wife to hear this conversation.

    TOM: That’s only because it went your way, Ben.

    BEN: Absolutely. Hey, I appreciate your show and I thank you very much for the tips.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mary in New Jersey who’s dealing with a very Northeast winter problem: icicles. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    MARY: Well, we had a new roof put on and we had a 72-inch ice shield put under the shingles. So, we have no water coming in but we’ve noticed a lot of icicles along the house.

    TOM: Yep.

    MARY: Some are 5 feet long.

    TOM: And they’re pretty, too, huh?

    MARY: Oh, yeah. Beautiful sight.

    TOM: Yeah. So what’s your concern, Mary?

    MARY: Well, one person said probably the insulation is not enough in the attic and another person says if you put too much insulation, you’ll have a problem, too.

    TOM: Nah.

    MARY: So I don’t know who to believe.

    TOM: You’re on – you’re barking up the wrong tree. First of all, the icicles that are forming have nothing to do with the ventilation or the insulation in your roof; it’s just a natural occurrence of the meltdown of the snow and the ice on the roof rolling over the gutters. And when it gets to the gutter space or the overhang area, that is not over the heated area of the house, obviously, so there it tends to freeze. So water runs down and it freezes there and it does drip over the edge and form those beautiful icicles.

    The fact that you put the ice-and-water shield in was a good thing, because what that’s doing is that’s stopping that ice from forming what we call an ice dam, where the water strikes it and backs up and gets under the shingles and then leaks into the house.

    So, there’s really nothing wrong with your roof because you’ve formed ice. That’s very, very normal given the winter that we’ve had in this country.

    MARY: Well, I’ve noticed some of the other houses and none of the other houses either had icicles or if they had them, they weren’t as long as ours.

    TOM: Yeah.

    MARY: We have a lot of trees around the house. Maybe that – I don’t know if that …

    TOM: Well, I mean the amount of sunlight you get is going to affect the melt rate but I wouldn’t be too terribly concerned about it, as long as they’re not going to fall off and hurt anybody. It’s hard water; it’s pretty stuff. So I would just live with it, OK?

    MARY: OK, yeah. It’s a beauty.

    TOM: Alright.

    MARY: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    I thought for a moment she was going to say, “But I put ice-and-water shield on the roof. How come I still get icicles?”

    LESLIE: You know, it’s funny. One of my husband’s favorite chores this past winter season was tackling the ginormous icicles that would get on that lovely, little overhang.

    TOM: Oh, is he an icicle breaker?

    LESLIE: He is. We’d get these icicles – pretty big, scary-looking ones – on the overhang, like right above our front door. So if I didn’t answer the door fast enough, it’s like, “Whoa, watch out.”

    TOM: Yeah, well, there you have to, right. Yeah.

    LESLIE: But it was his favorite thing to do.

    David in Oregon needs some help with a bathroom renovation. What can we do for you?

    DAVID: I’ve got a problem with the closet being, oh, 12 to 14 inches wide and it’s at the foot of the tub and I would like to make the closet bigger. My question is, do they make a tub – a steel tub – that’s shorter than 5 feet?

    LESLIE: Hmm. I don’t know about a steel tub but …

    TOM: I think it goes down to about four or four-and-a-half, doesn’t it?

    LESLIE: Yeah. But are they fiberglass or are they cast-iron? I know American Standard makes one as small as 4 feet in length and they also have a 4½-foot – is going to be fairly standard. Sixty inches – 5 feet – is the basic length on a tub, which is pretty much we’re going to – what you’re going to find.

    But if you do take a look, I think American Standard has two: one’s called the Huron and one is called the Mackenzie and one’s 4 feet and one is 4½ feet. But if you do some search online, you’ll be able to find a shorter tub; not that much but it might give you the clearance you need for the closet.

    DAVID: OK. Thank you.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, wood doors, trim and molding can really take a beating from the elements, especially this past winter. So, still ahead, we’re going to have tips about synthetic materials that are much more durable and can add fantastic curb appeal to your home. It’s all coming up, after this.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, as spring gets into full swing, you are probably starting to think about projects that have been waiting in the wings all winter long. And one project that I can confidently recommend that will bring you a huge return on your investment is enhancing your front entryway.

    TOM: Absolutely. And when you do this with very durable products, like energy-efficient fiberglass doors and sidelights plus rot-resistant molding and trim, which is just so available today, you’re making an investment that will no doubt pay off when you sell your home. And that’s so important when you tackle these projects. You want to look at resale value.

    And even if you don’t plan on going anywhere, it will help you maintain and add value to your house.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Here to tell us about new entryway solutions is Heather Sonnenberg from Therma-Tru Doors.

    Welcome, Heather.

    HEATHER: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Now, you guys have been in the maintenance-free door business for many, many years. You did invent the fiberglass door, so let’s – just give us a little bit of background on Therma-Tru.

    HEATHER: Sure. Well, we’re really the market leader when it comes to the fiberglass-door category. We’ve been in business for exterior doors, both fiberglass and steel, for over 50 years. And again, you’re exactly right. We invented the fiberglass door and we’ve really worked over the last 50 years to continue to improve that product.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the product really is truly outstanding. You’ve probably seen a fiberglass door and didn’t even notice that it was fiberglass, all of our listeners out there. They look so wonderful. The graining is fantastic; the finishes are wonderful that you truly believe you’re looking at a wood door.

    What have you guys all done recently to sort of boost what Therma-Tru is doing to really enhance the user end of putting together this new entry system for their home?

    HEATHER: Sure. Well, one of the things that we look at is really to make sure that we are furthering our portfolio of products. Now, we have a nice array of products for consumers to choose from.

    So when we talk about new products that we’re bringing to market, we’ve really addressed our premium end – with the introduction of our Canvas Collection, which is in our Classic-Craft product brand – which is a collection of fiberglass doors that are smooth and paintable but they have a really nice construction with a nice, wood edge – square edge – that really helps accent the premium-ness of the product.

    TOM: OK.

    HEATHER: It really adds that heft and that weight that consumers are looking for when they’re talking about a premium door.

    LESLIE: And Tom, those are the doors that we saw at the builders’ show this past January.

    And Tom and I were both so impressed with the finish on these doors. I mean it looked like they were sprayed and painted so carefully, because the finish was just phenomenal. And when we asked one of the guys who was working at your booth, he was like, “No, we just painted it like a regular door and rolled it on in two coats.”

    HEATHER: That’s exactly right. And one of the reasons it looks so nice is because we pay so much attention to the details.

    When we looked at introducing this product line, we really wanted to focus on the custom-wood market and making sure that we pull what – the benefits of fiberglass – oh, the low-maintenance, energy-efficiency – but in a product that looks like a custom wood door.

    TOM: Right.

    HEATHER: So we looked at nice, wide, embossment details that like – again, they rival what a wood door could be.

    TOM: Well, another innovation that you guys rolled out at the latest builders’ show that Leslie was talking about was this idea of vented, full sidelights. And that’s pretty cool because so many front entryways today have sidelights on them but they’re stationary, they’re solid, they’re fixed.

    You guys actually have a new invention now where these sidelights actually open up, much like a door would, to reveal a screen that allows ventilation. What’s the process been to bring that product to market? Is this something you guys have been working on a long time? Because it seems pretty innovative.

    HEATHER: Well, really, what we like to do is make sure we focus in on what are the problems that consumers have with their homes today. And one of the things that they – we know they have a problem with is ventilation. And in the past, it’s been – they’ve solved this problem by adding storm doors or screen doors to the front of their homes or to their patios.

    And one of the complaints that we hear is that when they’ve invested a lot of money in a beautiful, new, front door or a beautiful patio, they don’t want to cover it up.

    LESLIE: You don’t want to cover it up.

    HEATHER: Exactly.

    TOM: Right.

    HEATHER: They don’t want to cover it up. And the great solution that we came up with was the vented sidelights, which allows them to still have a beautiful entryway but still allows them to make sure that they can vent their home properly.

    I like it because I like to be able to enjoy the seasons a little bit more without having to flip on the heater or the air conditioner.

    TOM: And one of the things that you don’t want to cover up are the glass designs. You guys have a lot of really beautiful, unique glass designs. There’s just so many options today that really allowed you to make a personal statement when selecting a new, front entryway.

    HEATHER: That’s right. And we’re always looking at what’s that new, glass style and paying attention to what consumers are doing in their home; how they want to align their interiors and their exteriors. And we did launch a new glass this year called Avonlea, which is a beautiful, free-flowing leaf pattern with some nice, bronze water glass that keeps it neutral but still gives a nice pop of color.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s really beautiful. You can pick something in the glass that will speak to every architectural style of the home and the same with the doors. So it’s a really well-done project.

    HEATHER: Thank you. Thank you. We really enjoyed it.

    TOM: If you’d like to see the line of doors that Therma-Tru has to offer and all the beautiful, new sidelights and glass designs, all you have to do is go to ThermaTru.com. That’s T-h-e-r-m-a-T-r-u.com or pick up the phone and call them. The number is 800-843-7628. They have dealers all over the country and their products are also available at Lowe’s.

    Heather Sonnenberg, the director of product management for Therma-Tru Doors. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Heather.

    HEATHER: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Well, does your washing machine look like it’s on its last spin cycle? If it does, it might be time to put that helpful appliance out of its misery. Up next, we’re going to share some tips on when to replace your washer or dryer and what you should be looking for when you’re shopping for a new, high-efficiency set, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trewax, trusted for more than 75 years. Trewax is the brand you can depend on for premium floor care. Visit them on the web at Trewax.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we’re going to help you with all of your home improvement projects. Whatever do-it-yourself woe you’ve got going on at your money pit, we are here to lend a hand.

    But also, one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a set of two Ready Hang Drapery Hardware systems. Now, these are perfect if you happen to be a renter or do-it-yourself-challenged, whichever way you want to go about it, whether you’re renting or just having a hard time putting up a straight curtain rod. Because they attach to the window frames without any drilling, so your drapes are going to go up simply, quickly and without any special tools.

    And the winner is going to get two rods in an iron finish with round finials, so that’s great for any décor. It’s a prize worth 80 bucks. Give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, if your washer or dryer is 10 years old or more, replacing it might be something that you’ve been considering. Not only will doing so head off inevitable breakdowns and potentially costly repairs in the coming months or years but you’ll also be taking an opportunity to actually put money back into the very pockets that you’re laundering.

    Now, when you shop for a new washer, you want to look for the Energy Star label. It tells you that the washer is guaranteed to meet strict, energy-efficiency guidelines that are established by the EPA.

    Now, when it comes to dryers, you may find it very difficult to locate an Energy Star label on a dryer, for a good reason. That’s because there are no Energy Star-rated dryers; none. Now, why is that? Well, it’s because all dryers pretty much use the same amount of energy and there’s really no way to have one that uses less energy. The way you find one that uses less energy is by using a more efficient washing machine, because higher-efficient washing machines take more moisture out of the clothes.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So you’re going to actually dry clothes less.

    TOM: Right, exactly. And that saves energy.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, here’s what you can do to help your new dryer run more efficiently, if you follow a few, simple steps.

    For example, take advantage of the dryer’s moisture-sensor option, which is going to allow for a shorter, more efficient drying cycle. And another way to keep your dryer cycles short is to limit the amount of water, as Tom mentioned, that your laundry is going to carry over from the washing machine into the dryer.

    And you can do this by choosing the high-speed or even extended spin option on your washing machine. Or for a really energy-efficient option, just hang your clothes outside on the line, on a beautiful, spring day. Nothing smells better than air-dried laundry, am I right?

    TOM: Old-school clothes drying: use a clothesline. It’s about the greenest way you can dry your clothes.

    888-666-3974. We are a very green home improvement program. That’s why the number is free; 888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now and we will help you get that project done on your to-do list.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Song in Alaska is dealing with a leaky window. Tell us what’s going on.

    SONG: Oh, yeah, hi. Yes. I have a rental house that’s in Anchorage, Alaska. Every wintertime, the tenants report that the water is running through the window and window seals, especially on the south side. But they said it has nothing to do with raining or anything but has to do with cold temperature. So every time when the temperature drops, then they see more water running through.

    So I actually even have a construction company to look at what’s going on. They didn’t find anything leaking but they said that the ground is too wet. They said I need to dig the ground under the basement and needs to put a sump pump in. But I now have a roofer who said, “Oh, maybe they forgot to seal the window properly when they built those buildings.”

    TOM: I understand you’re getting a lot of opinions here but the one key thing you said is that this doesn’t happen when it rains, is that correct?

    SONG: Correct.

    TOM: And this is a basement window or it’s a first-floor?

    SONG: Upstairs windows.

    TOM: OK. So, there’s only one thing that could be causing this and one thing only: condensation.

    SONG: What?

    TOM: Condensation. It makes perfect sense.

    SONG: OK.

    TOM: In the winter, it’s very cold on the outside of the house; it’s very warm and moist on the inside of the house. The warm, moist air of the inside of the house strikes the cold glass and condenses and then it gets very wet and it drips down. And you can actually get quite a lot of condensation. I mean it could look like a window is leaking from the outside when it’s really leaking from the inside.

    Now, the solution is better windows, unfortunately. Because if you don’t have glass that’s insulated well enough, this will happen and especially in extreme climates like you have in Anchorage.

    But if it’s not leaking during the rain, there’s no snow or ice that’s melting above it or anything like that, the only possible source of this is condensation. It has nothing to do with the ground.

    SONG: OK. So I need to replace the window?

    TOM: If it’s condensation, which is what I think it is. And it should be pretty easy to tell. You should be able to see the water forming on the inside of the glass.

    And is it a wood window, a vinyl window or a metal window?

    SONG: Vinyl windows.

    TOM: Yeah. So you should be able to see the condensation forming on the glass and then dripping.

    SONG: Right, right.

    TOM: It should be pretty obvious.

    SONG: That’s what the tenant says; it’s condensation. So, what is the fix?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s – well, replacing the window will solve it. Reducing the amount of moisture inside the house will also solve it. It might be that your contractor was talking about ways to reduce humidity in the basement and that may be why he gave you that sump-pump tip but that’s really not accurate. If you want to reduce humidity in the basement, you need to improve your drainage at the perimeter of the house. You need to extend your downspouts, you need to slope the soil away from the house, you need to do everything you can to try to reduce the amount of water and moisture that surrounds that first few feet of the foundation perimeter.

    Inside the house, you can improve your ventilation fans. Make sure you have one, for example, in the kitchen that vents out. Every bathroom should have a fan that vents out, so that you’re dealing with those moisture sources and you need to use it. You need to have the – you need to be able to turn the fan on when somebody’s in the bathroom taking a shower, so you’re venting all that steam. Things like that that reduce humidity inside the house can make this less of an issue.

    But the bottom line is that you’ve got a window with glass that’s not insulated very well. You could probably add an interior storm window. That could be a second thing that you could do; it’d be less expensive.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. An additional insulating layer.

    TOM: Yeah, it’d be less expensive than replacing it. But you definitely have glass that’s just not insulated enough.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, are frequent, burnt meals ruining not only your dinner but your reputation for being a good cook?

    Well, if that’s going on, you know what? Maybe it’s not your fault. Coming up, we’re going to tell you how to troubleshoot your oven’s thermostat to make sure that everything that you are cooking is cooking at the same, even temperature. And then you can blame somebody else for what’s going on in the kitchen. Stick around.

    (theme song)

    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. Hey, what are you working on right now at your money pit? Maybe you are thinking about your appliances and wondering, “Should I replace them? Should I repair them?”

    If that’s what’s going on at your house, we have got a simple barometer to help you decide what you should do. You can read all about it at MoneyPit.com. All you need to do is Google “money pit repair or replace.” That’s “money pit repair or replace.”

    TOM: Yeah, we came up with a chart that basically you can use if you have an appliance that breaks down, that takes into account its age and the risk of it breaking down again. And you can use this chart to determine whether or not you should fix something or you just throw it out.

    So, if you have a refrigerator that’s 10 years old and it has a compressor that goes and you’re trying to figure out whether or not it makes sense to put a new compressor, this chart has all of the information. And all you need to do to find it is Google “money pit repair or replace” and it should take you right to the page.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’ll really help you make an educated decision, so you know you’re saving money and saving time.

    TOM: Well, if you’re wondering why your oven-baked, culinary masterpieces didn’t come out right every single time, don’t blame the chef. You might want to blame the oven, because your oven’s built-in thermostat may not be working properly. Leslie’s got some troubleshooting tips, though, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    And I might say that these are not from personal experiences, because everything that Leslie cooks comes out perfectly every single time, especially with her French Culinary Institute background.

    LESLIE: You know, it’s funny you should say that, though, because when we had an apartment in Queens, we first moved in there and I could not understand why cookies were baking in three minutes and everything else was burning and becoming like a charred hockey puck. And it was because the thermostat was wrong and everything was cooking at 500 degrees. And thank goodness we got it fixed kind of quickly before I was really doubting my educational background.

    So if you’re sensing that this I going on, what you might want to do is check your oven’s thermostat. So, here’s how you do that. You set your oven’s temperature and then you use a separate, oven-safe thermometer inside the oven. Now, the most accurate are the glass-bulb types and to get an accurate reading, you want to let the oven cycle on and off at last three times, which is going to take about 20 minutes.

    Now, there’s a couple of reasons why this could be happening. First of all, over time that gasket around the oven door can become torn or even deformed. And this is going to allow heat to escape, so you want to make sure that you inspect all of those gaskets to ensure that they are in good condition. And if they’re not, you can simply replace them as needed.

    Then, also, you want to look at the oven door. Is it closing properly? Because if it’s not, heat can escape. So you want to make sure that the door closes tightly and evenly. If it doesn’t, check for broken or bent door hinges or door springs and if they’re out of whack, just replace those, as well.

    Now, there’s another thing, which is a bit tricky; it’s the tricky timer issue that we’ve all heard talk of. And it can even confuse the best of cooks out there. So, you want to check into mechanical clocks and timers on your ovens. Now, those are the ones without the digital LED displays, because they have a setting called “cook and hold.” And if the clock is accidentally set to this position, the oven might not work at all until it’s set back to normal.

    And if you’re finding that this is what’s going on, you want to consult your instruction manual. Yes, you should be holding onto that; you should have a file for all of the instruction manuals for every appliance in your home, that you should update regularly and make sure you’ve got it.

    And if you are finding this is going on, check that manual. Just follow the directions and set that timer or clock correctly and that should do the fix. If still something’s out of whack, call the manufacturer because I’m out of guesses.

    TOM: Well, that’s some good advice.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to have some tips about drip irrigation, which is a great option for keeping your lawn, your landscaping and even your garden watered exactly where and when you need it. Even in water-conscious areas that restrict watering, drip irrigation is a great option. We’ll tell you all about it on the next edition of the program.

    If you have a question, you can reach us 24-7 at 888-MONEY-PIT or log on to MoneyPit.com and post your question in the Community section.

    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)


    (Copyright 2011 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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