Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Do you own a new home? Do you own an old home? Do you own a condo? Are you a renter? No matter what kind of house you live in, whether you own it or not, you’ve got to have a home improvement question for us. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because we’re all dealing with the same things. We’re dealing with the squeaky floors. We’re dealing with the leaky roofs. We’re dealing with the leaky plumbing. We’re dealing with the noisy toilets. What are you dealing with? Call us right now. Let’s talk about how to solve your home improvement question. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, coming up on this hour of the program, if it looks like a hardwood floor and feels like a hardwood floor, is it really a wood floor? We’re going to have some tips on how to get that wood look in any room of your house at a budget price.
LESLIE: Well, also this hour there aren’t too many of these houses with wood gutters around anymore but if yours is one of them, we’re going to tell you why you need to give them a little extra TLC.
TOM: And did you know that there is one place in your house where the temperature will drop 25 degrees if you open the door? We’ll tell you exactly where that is and how to keep the energy inside.
LESLIE: And we’re giving away a Wobble Light Jr. worth 60 bucks this hour, so call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
TOM: Yeah, that’s pretty cool, you know? You can set this up in your workshop area and you can knock it down and it just pops right back up again.
LESLIE: (chuckling) If you accidentally back into it, you’re going to still stay lit in the area.
TOM: I need the Wobble tool for other areas of my life. (chuckling) You know? You knock the drink over, it just comes back up.
LESLIE: Wobble cups, Wobble shoes (chuckling) for the tripping prone. All sorts of things we’re going to adapt this technology to.
TOM: On to a trend.
1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Are your home improvement projects wobbling? We can bring them back up. Give us a call right now.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Virginia in Wisconsin listens on WCLO. And what’s going on at your house?
VIRGINIA: Well, I was wondering. I had heard you guys’ show a few weeks ago …
VIRGINIA: … and you had mentioned something about putting bleach in the washing machine to help clean it out and everything.
TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
VIRGINIA: And you didn’t say how often you should do that.
TOM: I think about once every six months you want to run a load of hot water through the washing machine with a lot of bleach because it does a really good job of sanitizing the plumbing system of the washing, all of the hoses, everything that circulates water through it. Because there have been cases where you find – where people find fecal bacteria in the washing machine even when it’s used normally. So bleaching is sort of a way to sanitize it and it doesn’t hurt the machine at all.
VIRGINIA: Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Virginia. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Evan in Rhode Island, come on down. What can we do for you?
EVAN: Hey, I wanted to ask a question in regards to redoing my wood floors. And I wanted to know what would be the most durable finish I could put on that …?
TOM: Yeah, I would say it’s an oil based polyurethane; not water based polyurethane. If you’re doing this yourself, the product that you can buy – you know, you’re going to buy a product like Minwax, for example; which is pretty good stuff. It’s not as good as the stuff the pros use, which they generally mix up and sort of cures in place; the kind of stuff that you might see on a gymnasium floor.
LESLIE: It’s almost even like a resin coating.
TOM: Yeah, but that’s way over and above the ability of the average homeowner to put down. So I would say that what you should do is use a good quality oil based polyurethane. I do not recommend water based polyurethane for floors. Great for furniture but lousy for anything that needs some sort of abrasion resistance.
How bad are your floors right now, Evan? Do you have to take it all the way down to raw wood or are you just trying to refinish it a bit?
EVAN: I would like to take them all the way down.
TOM: Alright. So then what you’re going to do is you’re going to have to have the floors sanded – professionally sanded. Don’t recommend you do that yourself. And then the next thing that you’re going to want to do is use a sanding sealer on there, assuming you want it to be clear, and then probably two to three coats of oil based polyurethane on top of that. And by the way, the best way to apply that is with a lamb’s wool applicator. It basically gets mopped on with a lamb’s wool pad attached to a standard painting, sort of roller extension handle. And you start at one end and work your way out.
LESLIE: And let it dry well.
TOM: Yep, exactly.
LESLIE: Thomas in Washington listens on KZXR. What’s going on with your water heater?
THOMAS: I’m looking at replacing – I have an electric – an older electric hot water tank – and I’m looking at replacing it with either the instant hot water heaters or go with the propane-fired hot water heater. My question is what is the – what is the most economical benefit? You going with an instant hot water heater or with – go with the natural gas propane type?
LESLIE: Well, if you go with an on-demand hot water heater, which is what you’re talking about with the instant, would you still continue to use electric?
THOMAS: Most likely, yes.
TOM: Well, then I would say no because tankless electric water heaters are available but the efficiency just doesn’t work out because it requires so much electricity to be able to supply that instant hot water that they’re probably not cost effective. What I think you want to do is – a combination of the technologies here – is that you would use a tankless water heater but you would use one that’s propane fired; not electric. Because the electric won’t be efficient but the propane would be.
So your choices are either to go with a standard electric water heater; which the best way to make that efficient is to put it on a timer so that it only runs a few hours a day. You could put it on a 240-volt timer. That would be the least expensive. Or if you’re going to be in your house for a long time and you want to make a good, energy saving improvement, you can go with a tankless water heater but it has to be fired by propane, not electric because it just wouldn’t be efficient as an electric water heater.
THOMAS: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pat in Illinois listens on WYLL. And we can hear your venting all the way from here. What’s going on at your house?
PAT: Well, I have a clothes dryer in a townhome. And the vent goes all the way through the garage and up and over the garage door. And it seems to either not be venting – the vent must not be working properly because it’s kind of blown out several motors on the dryer before. And I need help to figure out what can we do; is there an alternative that we could use to vent the clothes dryer.
TOM: You know, Pat, I had this exact problem in a townhouse that I own. The dryer vent went – was sort – the dryer was sort of in the middle of the unit and it went up into an attic space and then the long way across the – on its way to the outside and then poked down and out. And it took a long time to dry the clothes. And also, the vent got very dirty. And you’re right; the dryer vent motors are not designed to push that warm air that far and that’s why it’s under a lot of stress. The only suggestions that I would have would be to see if there’s any shorter way out of this.
Now are you – is this dryer on the second floor of your townhouse?
PAT: No, it’s on the first floor.
TOM: And right now, does the dryer vent go all the way up into the attic?
PAT: No it goes – because it is a two story townhome …
PAT: … but it just goes over only one story. It doesn’t go up two levels to an attic.
TOM: Yeah, the question is, is there any shorter way to get that out?
PAT: Well, I was just wondering could we perhaps redirect it through the – through the garage with a larger vent?
TOM: And the other thing is, is the vent that’s going out right now a flex duct vent or is it a hard duct?
PAT: It’s a hard duct that goes through the wall because it’s in the wall.
TOM: Is it being connected by a flex duct on the way there?
PAT: It’s being connected by a flex duct, yes.
TOM: Yeah, you know that’s part of the problem because there’s a lot of resistance with a flex duct. All of those coils add – slow down the speed of the air as it moves through. So you …
LESLIE: Even though it’s such a short distance?
TOM: Well no, the flex duct is going from the dryer all the way to the place where it goes through the wall.
PAT: And see, but it’s right there at the dryer …
TOM: Oh, you mean right at the dryer itself.
PAT: Right at the point. And of course there’s more flex duct than is needed.
TOM: Well, that could be part of your problem, too. You want to have as little of that as possible. But when it gets into the wall, are you sure it’s hard ducted all the way up through the wall and out?
PAT: It has to be hard duct because it’s metal and it …
TOM: Have you ever cleaned the ducts?
PAT: We had it – we’ve had it cleaned before. You know, with lint cleaners where it’s been sucked out and blown out and – and sometimes there’s a water buildup; a condensation buildup.
TOM: Yeah. Basically, the solution here is – you’ve got a bad design to begin with – if there’s any way to get it (swooshing sound) out of the house in any shorter distance, even if it goes up through – it may be even better to go up through the second floor and out through the roof than it is to make that turn because every time you make a turn it adds a lot of resistance to it. Making the duct – enlarging the duct to a wider duct – again, that’s hard metal as opposed to flex duct – would also help move the air through.
One of the other things you could consider doing is putting in a booster fan in between. It may be possible to have an HVAC contractor install a booster fan. It’s used for air flow; when you want to increase air flow in an HVAC system. And that might speed up the flow out through the duct system. Now if you do that, it would have to be wired somehow into the dryer so that it only came on when the dryer was on.
PAT: Thank you so very much. I will take your counsel under advice.
TOM: Thank you, Pat. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, Money Pit listeners full in the throes of the holiday season. Maybe you’ve got too many things on your list and maybe one of them is a home improvement project. Well, you are not alone my friends. You can call us anytime here at The Money Pit; 24/7/365 days a year even at the busiest time. You know, you can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT so do it now.
When something that looks like wood and feels like wood is not really wood, when is that? Well, it’s when it’s a laminate. We’ve been calling laminate floors the great pretender because of how closely they mimic the natural counterpart. Up next, we’re going to get a close look at getting the look of wood at a very budget price. So stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974 where our advice is you don’t have to cry over spilled milk but you could cry over spilled paint. However, if you spill that paint on your laminate floor, you have nothing to worry about (chuckling) because it can clean up. Leslie’s like, ‘How are you going to go into the floor thing from the paint floor?’
LESLIE: I’m like, ‘How do you get paint to floor?’
TOM: I know this because I actually did spill paint once on a laminate floor and it wasn’t pretty. I really learned about the stain …
LESLIE: Like a lot of paint or like, ooh, a little bit.
TOM: Oh no, it was a lot of paint. And it wasn’t actually me; it was my darling son. And he knocked it over on top of a staircase and it rolled all the way down the stairs …
LESLIE: Oh. (chuckling)
TOM: … and it got onto the floor. The good news was it came off the laminate floor pretty easy. The bad news is we needed a lot more work to get it off the wood staircase. (chuckling) You got to love those kids.
LESLIE: Ay, yi, yi.
Well laminates are good for a whole host of other reasons; whether it’s paint damage or water damage. You know, when we got this house it had carpeting in the basement. I thought it was cozy and nice. Tom always said, ‘You will rue the day if you do not take that carpeting out.’ And I was like, ‘Aah, I know what I’m doing. I like it. It makes my feet feel good.’
TOM: ‘I’m a home improvement expert. I know what I’m doing.’
LESLIE: I’m a home improvement expert, in case you didn’t know. (chuckling) Well, of course I called Tom at midnight when I discovered the flood situation in our basement. My husband and I pulled up all of that carpeting. But now we have a beautiful laminate floor down in our basement and it’s gorgeous, it’s durable, you can not mess it up, it’s easy to clean and we love it. And I cannot tell you how happy we are to have it our home. And I’ll tell you, laminate flooring has come so far and the colors and the patterns and the options. You really can’t tell it’s not really what it’s portraying. And you can really just get any look that you want. So it’s a good option for anywhere in the house.
TOM: Yeah and I didn’t even tell you I told you so. I was thinking it but …
LESLIE: (chuckling) I think you did.
TOM: I was thinking it but I didn’t tell you. (laughing)
LESLIE: Um, I think you did.
TOM: Well you know, if you want to mimic the look and the texture of natural materials like hardwood, stone or ceramic; if you prefer a visual that’s only possible with modern print technology, vinyl flooring offers you the widest array of designs and colors in any one natural flooring category. Armstrong’s got a new product. It’s called natural fusion luxury vinyl. It not only tricks the experts with realistic looks and textures, but it brings affordable luxury into the house.
LESLIE: They have one that sort of looks like – if you look at it fully installed in a photo, it looks like carpeting. It’s sort of like this plushy, cushy texture look and then there’s almost like a little leaf pattern to it. It’s gorgeous.
TOM: It’s like the flooring – flooring’s getting so much smarter. If you want some help on how to pick the right flooring, they’ve got a great flooring guide online at Armstrong.com. Just click on The Complete Guide to Flooring.
LESLIE: Alright, well if you give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, if we answer your home improvement or your home repair question on the air, you could win a fantastic prize. It’s the Wobble Light Jr. and true to its name, it wobbles but it will not fall down. I don’t know why I need this but I love it. If I knock things over – because I knock myself over all the time – then I could use things that will right themselves. It’s bulb is shock resistant with a shatter-proof dome so you don’t have to worry about it breaking. It’s even got a built-in outlet so you can plug in tools or several strings of lights of things together. So it’s excellent. You’re not going to lose an outlet by plugging it in. Super prize, so call in now.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Carol in Minnesota, what’s on your mind?
CAROL: Well, what’s firstly on my mind is that I want to tell you I thoroughly enjoy your program because I’ve been recently widowed and I’m raising a family by myself and there’s so many things I need to learn about home maintenance …
TOM: Well, thank you so much.
CAROL: … that I didn’t know before.
However, what I’d like to do is to convert a (inaudible) garage area into a room that can hold a swim spa without ruining the rest of my home.
CAROL: And right now the walls are mostly sheetrock. They haven’t been taped or mudded or painted. And then there’s some concrete areas also.
TOM: OK, let me ask you a question, Carol. When you say a swim spa, do you mean one of those big pools for exercising that – where it has like sort of a tide?
LESLIE: Like a strong current?
TOM: OK. Whenever you put a spa or a pool in an enclosed area like a garage – or really any room – not only do you have to be concerned about the materials around it because of the corrosive effects of the chlorine, you also need to be mindful of the humidity issues. And so, probably what you’re going to need is some sort of humidity control in that area so that it doesn’t get so overwhelming that it grows into a mold problem. The other thing is, Leslie, I think – starting with those walls – probably sheetrock is not the material to use here.
LESLIE: Yeah, I don’t know if you want to use the existing sheetrock only because you’re dealing with a paper product and you’re dealing with a huge source of moisture which is your swim spa. And that’s going to love that drywall. It’s going to eat everything and you’re going to get mold growing in there before you even know it no matter what you do with the moisture situation. So you can either do two things: replace that with a different sort of sheetrock product called Dens Armor and it’s by Georgia-Pacific and that’s made with a fiberglass face to be really moisture resistant; or you could go with a product that’s called greenboard in the trade or it’s known as a – it’s a drywall product that has a green facing on it rather than the traditional gray/white and it’s made to really withstand moisture – great for basements, great for bathrooms. Both good choices but definitely not your sheetrock that’s in there now.
TOM: I think you really need to look into Dens Armor by Georgia-Pacific because the difference between that and either standard drywall or moisture-resistant drywall is that there’s no paper face. And paper is a mold food. There’s a website that you should look at, Carol, and it’s called StopFeedingMold.com. And in there you will see information on Dens Armor and why that’s a perfect choice for a spa room where you’re going to have a lot of moisture and humidity problems.
You know, Leslie, I remember about a year ago – before my local health club underwent a major renovation in the swimming area – that I went in there one day and spotted stachybotrys growing on the walls …
LESLIE: Ooh, that’s bad.
TOM: … in the pool area. And you know, you see the kids running all around it and stuff. And it’s just a bad combination to have drywall next to a humidity condition like that.
CAROL: [So there is nothing] (ph) that I have to remove the old sheetrock and – or have the contractors do it?
TOM: Well, I would recommend that you remove it. If you want to avoid some of the expense, you could put a second layer on top of it and put the Dens Armor on top of it. But in the best case scenario, you’re going to want to remove it.
LESLIE: Dan in Illinois is on the line and you’ve got an unwanted visitor in the house; possibly mold. How can we help you source it out?
DAN: How do you know if you have mold in the house?
TOM: Well, if it’s in the refrigerator, it’s generally easy.
DAN: Yep, I know that one. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, why do you suspect that you have mold? Is there anything going on, Dan?
DAN: No, not really.
TOM: Well …
DAN: Just that it’s an old house.
LESLIE: Just precautionary?
DAN: Yeah, it’s an older house and we just wanted to know if it had mold. My daughter has asthma.
TOM: OK. Well, first of all, I can absolutely, positively guarantee you that you have mold in your house.
TOM: Because we all do. Mold is very prevalent in homes. But the thing is you want to take steps to reduce the chance that it could grow into something that’s very unhealthy. There’s a couple of strains of mold that are getting, you know, fairly famous for the respiratory issues they cause. One is stachybotrys; another is penicillium; another is aspergillus. Those are really kind of the top three that impact our health in the home. And generally they’re detectable at some stage in their – in their sort of metamorphosis. And if you see, for example with drywall, and you see that it has like sort of dark greenish growth on it, that’s probably stachybotrys.
But if you’re not seeing any evidence of mold, I wouldn’t tell you to go on a witch hunt for it. There are some things that you can do to avoid mold in the house. If you log onto MoneyPit.com, click on the AOL button. There’s a link there to my blog on AOL and one of the stories that’s getting a lot of traffic this month is ten tips for a mold-free house. You can check it out there and go to that by logging onto MoneyPit.com.
Dan, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: He’s got nothing to do so now he wants to look for the mold.
TOM: Yeah, he’s on a mold witch hunt. ‘I know it’s here somewhere. I’m going to find it.’
LESLIE: ‘I’m going to find it.’ You know, I think his daughter, if her asthma started getting worse, that’s a good sign.
TOM: If it got worse, that would be a good mold test?
LESLIE: Well, because generally the mold is going to trigger …
TOM: That would be sort of like a human mold test, don’t you think?
LESLIE: Well, if you’re noticing that her symptoms are worse in certain areas of the house, it could be a sign that there’s mold present. If you sense something musty, that’s also a symbol; a sign.
TOM: Or if you go away and all of the symptoms go away.
LESLIE: That’s true. Hmm.
LESLIE: All things to check out.
TOM: And thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, here’s an antique that you might still have hanging around your house; wood gutters. They’re a rarity these days but if your home does have them, they might require a little extra attention; just like the other pieces of wood around the outside of your house. We’ll give you some tips to cover them all, after this.
ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/UniversalHome to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Don’t look now but your home improvement project just got easier. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
So with all of these new homes being built and these new constructions, you’re not seeing too many wood gutters left around these days. But if your home is an older home and it does have them, you need to know that they take a little extra tender loving care. Wood gutters need to be resealed every two years and be sure to do this during the dry season because nothing’s going to work with wet wood. The first step is to make sure you give them a good sanding, then follow it up with an application of a wood preservative and finish with two coats of asphalt aluminum roof paint and you will stand up to all of the wettest weather. But do it again two years later and keep them in tiptop shape.
TOM: Yeah, that asphalt aluminum paint is really good stuff and of course that only goes on the inside of the gutter; not on the outside of the gutter. But it will actually reflect a lot of the UV degradation that causes them to break down. And it works well also on flat roofs, too; if you have a flat roof. Always good to put an aluminum paint on that because it reflects that sun back out and stops it from deteriorating the roofing material.
1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Jeff in Connecticut, how can we help you today at The Money Pit?
JEFF: Hi. I was listening to the show a little while back and you were talking about Aprilaire products and filters for the furnace; mentioning about how some people have the smaller one-inch filters. I have – my filter is five inches by 20 by 20 and it’s an accordion style. I was wondering if with a filter like that, should I still look into the electronic air cleaner.
LESLIE: The benefit of what these electronic air cleaners – particularly the one from Aprilaire does – is that it gets mounted to your furnace and what it does is it sends a positive charge into the air. So any particle, even as tiny as a microscopic bacteria or a virus or an allergen or smoke or food odor or pet dander – something so tiny that you don’t even see – becomes positively charged. And then their register – which is, I think, six inches by 72 feet – this thing is enormous but it’s accordion style – is negatively charged. So it sort of sucks in all those particles and then does not release it back into the air. So it’s constantly cleaning the air as the air goes through the ductwork. So it does make a lot of sense to add something like this; especially when you consider the addition of the product is anywhere from $700 to $1,000 installed. And then you just change that filter out once a year. You’re going to get everything out of the air with something like that.
TOM: Jeff, I’ll tell you, I had the exact filter that you’re talking about. I had an accordion style filter like that. And then I switched it out to the Aprilaire Model 5000. Not only was the air cleaner to breathe, I noticed an immediate change in the amount of dust in the house. So I think the electronic technology does definitely contribute towards the efficiency of the filter system. And if you have any concerns about dust or the respiratory risks of, you know, living in a house with those sorts of allergens – some people have, you know, allergy symptoms and things of this nature – it’s definitely a good investment.
You know, Consumer Reports rated the Model 5000 by Aprilaire tops for the last three years. So it’s a good unit and definitely made a big difference in our family.
Jeff, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jeri in California’s got a tiling project. And how can we help?
JERI: Yes, I would like to know if I can possibly tile over a Formica vanity top [in two bathrooms] (ph).
LESLIE: Well, what’s the condition of the Formica? Is it all in good shape? Do you have a lot of …?
JERI: It’s all in very good shape.
LESLIE: Well, I think as long as it – the only problem is because the Formica’s such a smooth surface, you might find that the adhesive or the mastic – whatever you’re using to adhere the tile – might slip a little bit. So what you want to do is take sanding – you know a gritty sandpaper – and sand and scratch up that surface just so you’re giving it a little bit more texture for your adhesive to stick to. And then you can go right ahead and tile right over it.
TOM: Yeah. No, it’s a great solid base. Now once you tile over it, you want to be careful about the grout that you put in there. You might want to think about using an epoxy grout. Or if you use a sand grout, then what you’re going to have to do is seal it. You can use a silicone sealer on that, OK?
JERI: Well, thank you so much.
LESLIE: Tom in Illinois is wondering should he wax a no-wax floor. Hmm. Let’s get to the bottom of that. How can we help?
TOM IN ILLINOIS: I put down a laminate oak floor. It says no wax. But should it be waxed or do we just go with it like it is?
TOM: This is a laminate floor, Tom?
TOM IN ILLINOIS: Yes, it is.
TOM: Absolutely not. Don’t have to wax it at all. That stuff’s indestructible.
TOM IN ILLINOIS: Oh, OK.
TOM: Yeah, with laminate floor, all you have to do is damp mop it really.
LESLIE: Damp mop, sweep. It’ll be easy.
TOM: Yep. It doesn’t need any wax at all. It’s very, very durable stuff.
TOM IN ILLINOIS: Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tom. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, Tom. Well there’s one place in your house where the temperature can drop 25 degrees when you open the door. It’s a big energy waster and up next we’re going to tell you where that door is so you don’t open it.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Making good homes better. It’s a great hour. It’s a great idea. We want to talk about your home improvement project because this is the place where work and fun meet.
OK. So, every time you open your oven door to peek at the food as it’s cooking, your temperature in the oven drops 25 degrees. So, to save energy and ensure consistent cooking times and temperatures, you want to avoid those sneak peeks in …
LESLIE: But it’s so much fun to look in there and see what’s going on.
TOM: Yeah, but you know what?
LESLIE: And just turning on the light doesn’t do the same thing.
TOM: It’ll make you less hungry, too, you know? You won’t be wanting to eat and munch because the food’s not ready quite yet and you’re smelling all that good stuff cooking. So leave the door closed, use the light and forget dropping 25 degrees; which, by the way, means that you – if it’s an electric oven or a gas oven – the burners have to come back on and put out more energy to bring that temperature back up.
LESLIE: And it’s just going to take longer to cook everything. You know you’re making a big meal coming up for the holidays, so leave that oven closed; even though, I know, you want to taste everything. Just don’t do it.
Alright. Well, some radio shows think that you should pay to download podcasts.
TOM: Not us.
LESLIE: We here at team Money Pit, in the spirit of the holidays – nah, kidding; all year long – we think our podcast should be just like our radio show – free, free, free. So help yourself to our entire library of Money Pit podcasts. You can even search by topic. Just hit MoneyPit.com. It’s our holiday gift to you.
TOM: Sync n go at MoneyPit.com. 888-666-3974. If you call that number right now, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance at winning a great prize. It’s the Wobble Light Jr. Just like the toy you remember from your childhood, it will wobble but it won’t fall down. It’s perfect for work areas or people that sort of wobble as they work; like Leslie and I.
LESLIE: Earthquake prone areas.
TOM: (chuckling) That’s right. Injury prone people.
LESLIE: Working on boats.
TOM: Hey, that’s a good point, too. Working on boats or having – actually, for your boat. If you’re a winter boater, perhaps this will be a good prize for you. If you call us right now, we’ll throw your name in the Money Pit hardhat to win the $60 Wobble Light Jr.
Leslie, who’s our next caller?
LESLIE: As if the weather wasn’t hot enough in Florida, Russell is looking to add radiant heat. How can we help?
RUSSELL: Well, my wife is a sissy. (laughter) And we’re about to redo our bathroom …
RUSSELL: … and she was – she would like radiant heat. And I was wondering if there was an easy fix for a semi-handy man that can read or is this something (laughter) I should have somebody else do.
TOM: No, it’s – well, it depends. Do you want to give your wife the floor or not? (laughing)
RUSSELL: Yes, I do.
TOM: Alright. Because it actually isn’t that complicated. You know, there are electric radiant heating mats that can go under tile today that are …
LESLIE: It almost looks like an electric blanket.
LESLIE: It sort of rolls out and has all these sort of electric membranes through it.
TOM: That are easy to install; fairly inexpensive, surprisingly, to run if you use their circuitry on it because it basically maintains the temperature and doesn’t use a lot of wattage. And you can put it on timers so it’s, say, warm in the morning. When you go in to use that bathroom, you don’t have to expose yourself to that terribly cold tile (chuckling). It could be warm. (laughter) And – or you know, or it could be on a thermostat; you just have to turn it up.
LESLIE: You know, all that air conditioning in Florida really does a number.
RUSSELL: Well we … (chuckling)
TOM: On one hand they’ve got the heat – the floor heated up and the air conditioning that’s cooling the air down at the same time. What’s wrong with that picture? That’s like turning your heat on and leaving the windows open.
RUSSELL: We have radiant heat in one room in our house – from the ceiling, though – and it works like a dream. It’s in the kids’ toy room.
RUSSELL: So that’s why we got the idea – or my wife got the idea. And she’s from Wisconsin, too, and she’s in Florida and wants radiant heat. (chuckling)
TOM: Well, why don’t you just give her a sponge and a bucket and let her go in that room and bathe? (laughing)
RUSSELL: I will work on that. I’ll try that approach.
TOM: OK. (laughing)
LESLIE: Yeah, don’t ask her that.
RUSSELL: Thank you for your help, you guys. I really appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: You’re going to get Russell in trouble, Tom.
TOM: I think so. (chuckling)
LESLIE: Angela in Utah, you’re next on The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
ANGELA: Yes, ma’am. I was just calling to find out if it’s basically worth the money to get a tankless water heater.
LESLIE: Well, what type of system do you have right now? Is it gas? Is it electric?
TOM: And do you have the ability to go gas? Or to go propane?
ANGELA: No, no. I don’t want to go gas …
ANGELA: … or propane.
TOM: Well then, you have to rule out a tankless water heater. Because they’re – they may be available electric but they’re certainly not very efficient. What I would recommend – because right now you have an electric water heater – you should install a 240-volt timer on that water heater. And[what that can be done] (ph) is set it so that the water heater only comes on for a few hours in the evening and a few hours in the morning and just – the water will just stay hot in between. Also, put a water heater blanket on there. Tankless water heaters are fabulous if you have a natural gas hookup for your house, but they’re not efficient when it comes to electric.
ANGELA: OK. So if I wanted to do that, I would have to hook up the gas lines and everything?
TOM: Yeah, and you know …
LESLIE: Well, it’s going to keep your cost down overall anyway …
TOM: Oh, it absolutely will.
LESLIE: … just switching over to gas. Because electric is so expensive, regardless of what the price of natural heating is.
TOM: Yeah, and I’ll tell you, in my area, I had – my house was on oil for many years and then we decided to abandon the oil tank. And I was surprised and I found out that the gas company was more than happy to run a gas line to my house and put in a meter at no cost as long as I agreed to hook up one gas appliance, which – the thing we started with was a gas grill. And then we added on from there. So as long as you agree to put a gas appliance in, you may have the installation done at little or no cost.
If you have gas, a tankless water heater is a fabulous thing to do because although it is more expensive to purchase and install, it’s far, far, far more efficient to use. You’ll save a lot of money over time. In fact, there’s a good website – ForeverHotWater.com – that has a comparison meter there where you can put in your local zip code and it’ll tell you exactly how much gas you’ll save over the life of the unit.
ANGELA: Alright. Well, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Angela. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Naomi in Illinois is feeling the chill. What’s going on with your furnace?
NAOMI: Well, I wondered how you go about getting a proper furnace cleaning (ph).
TOM: Well, that’s a good question. And first of all, getting a furnace cleaned is a very important thing to do and many people don’t do it. They wrongly assume that if you turn your furnace on and it puts out heat that it’s doing so efficiently and safely. And it may not be the case.
So, to get your furnace cleaned, obviously it’s a job that requires the skills of an HVAC contractor. First of all they’re going to clean the burners because gas burns dirty, just like any other fossil fuel. Like, you know, your car needs a tune-up; your furnace needs a tune-up. So they’re going to clean the burners. They’re going to adjust the air flow to get just the right flame. They’re going to inspect the heat exchanger and that’s very important because the heat exchanger in your furnace is what keeps the combustion air separate from the house air. And if you have a crack in the heat exchanger or you have a rust-out in the heat exchanger, then you could have a mix of combustion air with the house air and that’s a problem because that could lead to a carbon monoxide situation.
TOM: And then, lastly, they’re going to check the draft to make sure that there’s no obstructions in the draft. And that means that all the gas is going up through the furnace and out through the vent pipe or the chimney and it’s going up through your roof and away.
So those are basically what’s involved. They’ll also cleaning out the blower compartment, replace the filters and so on. That’s generally what’s involved in a furnace cleaning.
LESLIE: Tom, is that not something that’s done when you get your heating provider to come in and service the whole system?
TOM: Well yeah, that’s exactly what we’re talking about.
LESLIE: Right, right.
TOM: You know, getting the whole system serviced. But I think Naomi was asking what’s involved and what are the steps and what should be covered. And those are basically the elements. They’ll also be checking gas lines for leaks if it’s a gas system. So that’s everything that’s touched and that’s why it’s a job for a pro. Definitely a job that should be done once a year in the fall and winter because just because your heat comes on doesn’t mean it’s operating safely. And if it’s not operating efficiently, you could be wasting gas or it could be very unsafe and it could hurt you.
LESLIE: And also, Naomi, you should look into who your heating provider is and call them up because generally they’ll offer you a service plan which’ll be, you know, a couple of hundred dollars; usually in the two to three hundred dollar range. And then that covers pretty much any repairs. So generally, if you didn’t have a service plan and you invited them in to come in and service the furnace for the season, they’re going to charge you to walk in the door; they’re going to charge you for any parts that might be required. But with this, you know, fee that you pay for the service charge, they’ll come in; they’ll fix everything. You know, we had something similar happen with the motor on our furnace and they replaced it three times; which would have cost us thousands of dollars but it only cost us 200 bucks.
NAOMI: OK, that’s wonderful.
TOM: Naomi, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: So you call, we listen. And cleaning questions are right up there with some of the most popular questions we get here each week. After the break, we’re going to answer not one but two cleaning questions about bathroom tile and concrete pavers. So stick around.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can jump onto our website at MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie. For all of those shy people out there that don’t want to pick up the phone, you can send us an e-mail. Get lots of e-mails every single week. We get to answer them here on the program. We get to answer them on AOL in my blog there. You can check that out in the real estate section. But right now, let’s jump into some of these answers for the e-mailers this week.
Leslie, who do we got?
LESLIE: Alright. First one’s from James in Sacramento, California who writes: ‘How can I clean the white tile in the shower on the floor beneath the showerhead? The tile seems to turn a little bit darker in that area. Please help.’
LESLIE: I wonder if he’s saying the tile itself or the grout. Because a lot of times you get that like pinkish residue that’s just like water stains.
TOM: Well, or yeah, right. Or mineral salt deposits. And something like CLR works really well for that; calcium, lime, rust.
LESLIE: And that would get out just about anything.
TOM: Right. If it’s the grout itself that’s getting dark and disgusting, you can use a grout cleaner or a grout stripper. And if you use the grout cleaner, that’s sort of mild. The grout stripper is a little more aggressive. And the last thing you do after you get it clean, though, is use a grout sealer so it doesn’t come back. So there’s a couple of ways to clean that up.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got one from Mary Jo in Santa Rosa, California who writes: ‘I recently had a new patio installed. It’s created from tumbled slate stone concrete pavers. And before we could get it sealed – we’ve got a gingko tree in the yard; it produces a lot of fruit and some of the fruits have stained the pavers. I can’t get it out using household cleaning products. What can I do?’
TOM: Ah, that fruit that rots on it can really do a number on it. I don’t know. What do you think?
LESLIE: I think TSP is probably your best bet. That really gets out a lot of stuff that gets sucked into concrete. Really, give it a try. Use a wire brush. Make a paste. Let it sit on there. And then scrub it out. Use some elbow grease. And why not try a power washer?
TOM: And lastly, we’ve got an e-mail from Lori in Eagle River, Alaska. She says: ‘My problem is condensation on all the windows in colder months. My home is a five star energy rated home. I use gas heat to cook.’ I would say, Lori, what’s probably going on is you’ve got too much humidity in that house and because it is so super insulated, it’s probably not ventilated properly. Two things: number one – a whole house dehumidifier will work great. You can check out the one at Aprilaire.com. It’s been rated tops. Works great. And the second thing is you might want to ask your HVAC contractor about an air-to-air heat exchanger. An air-to-air heat exchanger will take out the stale, damp air in your house and replace it with clean, dry air from the outside.
So, it’s time for that makeover of your house. But you’re feeling like you are stuck with a tired interior design. Or perhaps you’re a tired interior designer. (chuckling) Regardless, Leslie has some tips on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: I think one begets the other. (chuckling) If you’ve gotten – if you’ve got tired interior design, you become one tired interior designer.
Alright. Well to wake yourself up and to wake up your living areas in your house without exhausting your budget, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to give them a new look. Simple changes like new throw pillows or textural throws in luxury and inviting colors can really update a room. If you switch around your family photos, switch the frames that they’re in; that can really update the look. Just go from silver to gold and keep both on hand and change them around. Why not try to mix and match your decorative objects that are throughout the house? It helps to keep the look of every room in the house fresh. Plus you like it in one room; chances are you’re going to like it in another. And even think about a different furniture arrangement. It can add new life, new flow, new zen-ness to your room. So think about it. Move things around. Leaf through those interior design magazines or catalogs. Clip out those pages that you like and then use them for your ideas and your inspiration.
TOM: Great ideas, great inspiration. That’s what we do right here on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show every single week.
Well, right now we know that you guys are probably reeling from the piling up holiday bills. You’re in the holiday spirit and buying lots of stuff and (inaudible) wonder how you can pay all those credit card bills that are going to pile up at the end of the year. Next week on the program, we’re going to give you a few tricks of the trade to help shave some money off of the energy bills. And we think that if you do that, that’ll be our contribution for you to help pay your holiday bills. (chuckling) You like the way that works?
LESLIE: You’re going to need every cent you can.
TOM: That’s right. There’s always a home improvement theme that we can help you with one way or the other.
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.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(Copyright 2006 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.)