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 1 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: Call us now with your home improvement question. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. If you are a do-it-yourselfer we promise to protect you from becoming a do-it-to-yourselfer, which is only one phone call away and that is 911. (Leslie chuckles) No, 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
We have some great news to share with you starting off on today’s program. We want to tell you about a brand new way for you to save money in your home by making it more energy efficient now available from the folks at Energy Star; a video podcast that was extremely well done (Leslie chuckles) and takes you on a room-by-room tour of your house, offering energy-saving tips along the way.
LESLIE: Hmm, does it happen to star my good friend Tom Kraeutler?
TOM: (laughing) Yes it does. I host the video podcast for the Energy Star folks and I’ve got to tell you it was a fun project for me. It’s going to be a great educational experience for you.
LESLIE: Alright, all kidding aside, it’s got a lot of valuable information from changing your five most used light bulbs to installing a ceiling fan; a few simple steps that can save you money and help protect the environment. And the best part – I know we mentioned it before (Tom laughs) – it’s hosted by our good buddy Tom, so I know you’re going to love it. You can watch it at EnergyStar.gov. We’ll let you in on just one of the secrets available on this video podcast in just a little bit. We’re going to tell you why your fridge may be costing you too much money to run.
TOM: And coming up at the bottom of the hour, Ed Begley, Jr. is going to join us; star of HGTV’s Living With Ed. He’s going to talk to us about a few ideas that he has to help you be a little more green around your house and he’s the green guy right now.
LESLIE: Yeah, and he’s quite the curmudgeon. It’s hysterical. It’s a great show if you’ve not tune into it on HGTV. You will learn something and you will laugh.
And also ahead this hour, hundreds of thousands of Americans fell for lending scams. Let’s hope that you are not one of those folks. Now the idea of a dream home has turned into nightmare loan payments that a lot of folks just cannot get out from under and we don’t want you to become the next victim. We’re going to tell you how to spot a scam and protect your biggest investment, which is your home.
TOM: And we’re giving away a prize pack from Live Eyewear; two pairs of safety glasses to keep you safe through all of those home improvement projects, including one that’s tinted for working outdoors. How about that? Some safety sunglasses. Do you have those for your outdoor work?
LESLIE: Of course I do. Mine are like the stylish, girly pair though.
TOM: Well, and now you can too if you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s a prize package worth 70 bucks. Going to go to one caller chosen at random from this hour’s callers. So call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Janine in Utah is doing some work on the kitchen. How can we help?
JANINE: Well, our house is about two years old and we have a famous steel kitchen sink we’re not fond of that we’d like to replace with a porcelain sink. Will we need to replace the structure underneath to support the heavier sink or is it standard these days to build it strong enough for any sink?
TOM: That’s a good question. No, I’d say it’s standard to build it strong enough for any sink. First of all, a sink cabinet is usually a fairly small cabinet in that it’s not much bigger than the sink. So you have not only the strength of the countertop, Janine, but you have the strength of the cabinet itself.
JANINE: I see.
TOM: And so – is the hole that you’re pulling the stainless steel sink out happen to be the exact size for the porcelain sink?
JANINE: Well, we’d look for that when we buy it. We haven’t bought it yet (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, you may or may not find that because this – unfortunately there’s no such thing as a standard sink size but I will say, if anything, you’d end up having it – it’d end up having to be bigger and not more narrow. So just make sure you look at two things; not only the size of that hole that’s there now but pay attention to how much space you have between the sink cutout and the sides of the cabinet to make sure that there’s enough room for you to cut that out without actually hitting the sides of the cabinet because the worst time to figure that out is when you’re installing the sink.
JANINE: OK. Very good. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steve in Maryland has a cleaning question. What can we do for you today?
STEVE: Love the show.
TOM: Thanks, Steve.
STEVE: Question is I have hardwood floors and I want to know – the cleaning service comes and they use Murphy’s soap every week on it …
STEVE: … but it doesn’t get the same fresh smell as Pine Sol. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) And I don’t – but I don’t think you could use Pine Sol on hardwood floors, though. Is that true?
TOM: I don’t see why you can’t. I used to use it on my mine. The key is to not make it too wet.
TOM: And it doesn’t really matter if you use something called Murphy’s Oil Soap or something called Pine Sol. They’re both cleaning solutions. They’re both mixed with water. And as long as you keep that damp mop on the damp side as opposed to the wet side …
LESLIE: As opposed to drenched.
TOM: Yeah, I think you’ll be fine. So I don’t see any reason you can’t and why don’t you go buy a bottle of Pine Sol and suggest maybe they use that the next time.
STEVE: I just thought – I think I heard because of the alcohol or something that’s in Pine Sol it wasn’t good for the wax on a hardwood floor; that eventually it eats away at the wax. I don’t know if you guys have heard anything similar.
TOM: No, I’ve never heard that.
LESLIE: No. Even on the directions on the bottle it says it’s safe to use on flooring.
STEVE: It says like linoleum floors or like, you know, a laminated floor. But I don’t think you can use it for a wood floor. That’s my concern.
TOM: Well, we’ve been doing it. Perhaps we’ve been doing it wrong but we have and haven’t had any problems with it. So I don’t have a problem recommending it, Steve.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and we are here to help you. So give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Coming up, would you like to make some major changes to your house but can’t afford it? You can take out a loan to help pay for those improvements. But just make sure you don’t fall victim to a lending scam that could leave you broke. We’ll give you the telltale signs to look for, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer. And add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information, visit ThermaTru.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement questions. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here with your how-to and, most importantly, your how-not-to home improvement tips at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if we talk to you on the air this hour you could win two pairs of safety glasses from Live Eyewear so you will be extra safe on all of your home improvement projects. You put one pair on top of the other pair and you’re totally covered. (Leslie chuckles) Actually, they are specifically designed to fit over prescription glasses, so you can have your eyes be safe and be stylish all at the same time. They’re worth 70 bucks. We’re going to give it away to one caller to this hour’s program. So pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and ask your home improvement question for a chance to win.
LESLIE: Alright, well we love to give away safety-related prizes and we’re always giving you tips to keep you safe during every do-it-yourself adventure and here’s a safety tip that’s going to protect you and your wallet and your biggest investment – your home. It’s a scenario that is not all that uncommon. A contractor comes over and offers to do some work on your house that you tell him, ‘Well, I just can’t afford it.’ And he is able to arrange some financing through a lender that he just happens to know. You sign a lot of papers that you aren’t given a chance to read or maybe some that are even blank and later you realize that these papers you signed are a home equity loan and the interest rate, the points and the fees are astronomically high.
TOM: And meanwhile, back at the jobsite, the work is not getting done right; the contractor has very little interest in completing the work to your satisfaction. Now many American’s fall victim to this scam but there are ways that you can protect yourself.
First, never agree to a home equity loan if you cannot cover the payments. Don’t sign anything you haven’t read or allow yourself to be pressured to sign a blank document. It is amazing how many times people do just that. Never deed your property to anyone. That’s the times that we hear that people lose their houses to these, because they’ve agreed to deed over the property.
LESLIE: That’s so crazy.
TOM: Always shop around and compare loan terms before hiring the contractor.
For more information on lending scams there is a great website out there run by our government, believe it or not. (Leslie chuckles) It is a great website. It’s the consumer protection section in FTC.gov. So go there – FTC.gov – and get the information that you need to be a smart consumer.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Taking a call from Joyce in North Carolina. What’s going on at your Money Pit?
JOYCE: Well, we put in some porcelain tile and we put the premade grout that was in a bucket in for the grout instead of the kind with the sand and when we cleaned it off we thought we got it all off but we didn’t. There is still – you can see shades of it …
JOYCE: … in different spots on top of the grout. I mean on top of the tile. And I was trying to figure out can you help me know what to put on there to get that off?
TOM: Is it a glazed tile?
TOM: Yeah, it’s going to come off but I’ve got to tell you. It’s just very difficult to get it off. If you rubbed and rubbed and rubbed and tried to get that off it’s just going to take some time. But it’ll come off the glazed surface eventually.
JOYCE: Oh, OK. I tried different kind of chemicals …
JOYCE: … and they didn’t do anything.
TOM: No, you’ve got to be careful with that because you’ll start changing the color of the other grout and then you’ll really be unhappy, Joyce.
JOYCE: Oh, Lord.
JOYCE: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: That’s why with grouting it’s like a constant project that you have to babysit for 24 hours.
LESLIE: It’s like it’s going to cloud over and you’d better clean it. It’s going to cloud and then you’ve got to clean it.
TOM: And just about when you’re ready to leave you look at it one last time …
LESLIE: And it clouds over one more time.
TOM: (chuckling) Exactly.
LESLIE: Tracy in Alaska has some unwanted visitors in the name of mice. Tell us about the problem.
TRACY: Hey, Tom and Leslie. Love the show. We’re getting dumped on the snow today so it’s quite a picturesque scene, but …
TRACY: … part of that winter, I think, has been pushing some mice inside the house. I don’t know if they’re mice …
TOM: Well, they need a place to live too.
TRACY: Yeah. That’s right. Well, I live kind of in a wooded area. We haven’t really had a problem for about the last five or six years but then all of a sudden, bang, here they are and I went looking for traps and everybody in town was sold out so I don’t think it’s just me that’s having the problem. But my question was I was able to trap five or six in a couple of days and we haven’t had anymore sitings, but I wondered if you guys had any experience with the sonic things that you can plug in the wall and they’re supposed to chase them out with sound fields and things like that; just maybe to put in the living area instead of putting down more traps or poison and leaving that around; just something to kind of keep them at bay once they’re out.
TOM: All the professionals that I’ve talked to about this do not use those and say they don’t work. I’ve never personally had any experience with them. However, I have had a lot of experience keeping mice out of the house and generally it comes down to a couple of things. First of all, trying to identify all of those small places on the outside of your house where mice can find their way in. They only need the space about the size of your finger to squeeze through so if you’ve got …
LESLIE: Even less. Like a quarter of inch.
TRACY: [That’s amazing.] (ph)
TOM: Yeah, if you’ve got gaps or cracks you can stuff steel wool in those places and try to block them from coming in.
The second thing is to make sure that you are not leaving any food out for them …
TOM: … and you may be leaving food out for them in a somewhat obvious way …
LESLIE: Like a food dish or a container of cereal not being closed properly. You want to make sure everything is in an airtight, sealed container.
TOM: And it may be food that you don’t really think about. For example, pet food is great mouse food because, well, we don’t keep mice as pets but they certainly love the same food and, typically, that’s in a big paper sack on the floor …
TOM: … the way it’s sold at the stores.
TRACY: And we definitely had that …
TOM: This kind of food needs to be kept inside of a sealed container so that it’s metal and it can’t get through it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and if you leave your pet’s dish out overnight, don’t. Pick it up, get rid of it or even put it back in the bag if you don’t want to waste or go ahead and put some Saran Wrap over the dish of food and leave it on the floor. But don’t just leave it there exposed because they’ll have a field day while you’re sleeping.
TRACY: That’s great. (INAUDIBLE)
TOM: And lastly, you could add – pick up some rodenticide because it’s very effective. If they eat it they’re going to die and that will help rid your home of mice as well. Now, if you use rodenticide you want to make sure that if you have pets you put it in what’s called a bait station which basically is a trap that keeps the rodenticide inside of a container that the pet can’t access to but the mice can.
LESLIE: One more thing, Tracy. If you’ve got piles of firewood outside, sort of up against the home; up against your foundation, get them away. You don’t want anything directly next to the house because they like to burrow inside that stack of firewood and then while they’re in there they’re chewing through the wall on the backside or finding ways in.
TRACY: Very good. Alright, those are great suggestions. I appreciate it, guys. Thanks for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tracy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Margaret in New York has a heating question. What’s going on at your money pit?
MARGARET: I have a very old home and I think the furnace has been converted from coal to oil.
TOM: Wow, that is old. (Leslie chuckles)
MARGARET: I think so. I mean this house has a door in the wall for the mailman – I mean the milkman to put the milk in. (Tom laughs)
LESLIE: (chuckling) Which is probably leaking major energy right there.
MARGARET: Probably. But the pipes are all covered with asbestos so I don’t want to get – I mean, they were sealed before I bought it …
MARGARET: … to make sure that it was OK. But the thing is, the basement is like 75 degrees, the main floor is 67 degrees and the bedroom area is 65 degrees.
TOM: Now, first of all, is this is a hot water system or a hot air system?
MARGARET: Yes, it has the old iron, whatever …
MARGARET: … heavy radiators.
MARGARET: We’ve changed the nozzles at the end of the radiators because somebody said maybe there – we’ve had the system cleaned.
TOM: Do you know if it’s a steam system or a hot water system?
TOM: The steam boilers are smaller. Steam radiators are smaller and get hotter …
TOM: … and they have a little vent on the top of them.
MARGARET: Well this – it has a vent on the end of it.
MARGARET: You know, like where the – curl, curl, curl and then it …
TOM: Does it clankety-clank-clank when it runs?
TOM: Yeah, it’s a steam system. Are all the radiators getting hot?
MARGARET: No, they clank. They sort of get hot but it doesn’t get hot enough to be warm and …
TOM: Well, it’s not working right then.
MARGARET: … and we just don’t know how to get …
TOM: You know, you – something is not right. The steam is not getting up into all the radiators and …
TOM: … you need to get that checked out by a heating pro.
MARGARET: How do we get it taken care of? That’s the thing.
TOM: Well, you’re going to have to call a heating contractor for this. This is definitely not something you can do yourself. It might be that some of the pipes have sagged and so they’re actually causing a blockage of some of the condensation. Some of the water in the lines could be stopping the steam from getting up into different parts of the house.
MARGARET: Mm, OK.
TOM: And if that’s the case, what’s going to end up happening is you’re going to keep turning the thermostat up and up and up and the steam’s never going to get up there like you want it to and the house will be cold and the boiler will run and your utility bills go sky high.
TOM: So this would be very worthwhile getting a very good, skilled heating contractor in there to diagnose why those steam radiators on the upper floors are not getting hot. They should be getting so hot that you can’t put your hand on them.
LESLIE: Is it possible, Tom, that there’s something – that it’s a simple problem with the thermostat not properly reading the temperature? Maybe something got out of adjustment and that’s simple to fix and then it’s just not reading the temperature correctly?
TOM: You bought a lottery ticket today, didn’t you? (Margaret chuckles)
TOM: Feeling lucky. (Tom laughs) You know, sure. Anything’s possible. But in an old house like this with these symptoms, I suspect that for some reason the steam’s not getting up because part of the line is blocked. Alright? But it doesn’t have to be expensive to fix, Margaret. It just needs to have somebody that knows what they’re doing check out the path of the steam all the way up to those radiators and figure out why it’s not getting there.
TOM: Alright, it’s a good system though. I mean, you know, steam’s a good system …
TOM: … and I wouldn’t do anything to change it. You’ve just got to figure out why it’s not doing that.
Now, as to that really old boiler – well, you know, it might be time to think about a new one; although that is going to have no effect on whether or not the steam’s getting up there.
LESLIE: On this problem.
TOM: But at that age, converted like it is, you may want to think about replacing it. You’ll get far more efficiency out of a new boiler and you’ll also find out that it will be about a third of the size of the one you have right now.
MARGARET: Right. But in order for them to check the pipes are they going to have to get in to where the asbestos is? Because I don’t want to shake up any problem.
TOM: Hopefully not.
MARGARET: Oh, OK.
TOM: Hopefully not. They’ve got to do some diagnostics first and if it turns out that it has to be opened up then it has to be done by a professional.
TOM: Alright, Margaret?
MARGARET: Yeah, because I’m just worried about that asbestos getting …
TOM: Well, it is a concern. That’s why we always tell people that rather than seal it you’re better off to remove it …
TOM: … and then have those pipes reinsulated because of this very situation. If you ever have to do a repair it has to be removed at that point anyway.
TOM: Alright? But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it, OK Margaret?
TOM: I think that – hopefully this could be a simple fix.
MARGARET: OK. So I need a heating contractor.
MARGARET: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, Ed Begley, Jr. joins us. He’s the star of HGTV’s Living With Ed. It’s entertaining, it’s informative and it’s next.
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: 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: He is probably the greenest man in tinsel town right now. Ed Begley, Jr. is a passionate environmentalist who actually walks the walk and talks the talk.
LESLIE: His award-winning HGTV reality proves that living with Ed may not always be easy but it certainly is green. We are pleased to welcome Ed Begley, Jr. to the program.
Now Ed, we’ve seen you go to eco extremes on Living With Ed; from bicycle-powered toasters to solar-powered ovens literally on the move. Is this really what everyday life is like with you at home?
ED: I say, with great pride, it is. (Tom and Leslie laugh) It’s wonderful to live this way; not just for the environment but for my bottom line. I save a lot of dough.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And I have to say I praise your wife Rachelle because she really puts up with a lot of stuff from you. Is she sort of your everyman in this eco adventure of your life that if she kind of gets it you feel hope for the rest of the world?
ED: Exactly. She is not inclined to do a fraction of the things I am. I mean she cares about the environment but she doesn’t want to be inconvenienced. So I have to prove, on a weekly – on a daily basis around this house in real life – that we can do these things and it won’t inconvenience her and they’re going to look good.
TOM: Well you know, besides putting up with your antics on the program, Rachelle seems to be the voice of the consumer out there. If you can convince her you can convince the rest of us.
ED: Exactly. There’s a small demographic section, I’m sure, that wants to do things for the environment just for the love of it. I suppose I’m in that number. But there are a good many people like her that are in the – you know, from the Show Me state, you know?
ED: They want to see how it works effectively and seamlessly in their life and how it’s not going to cost them anything.
LESLIE: Well, I also like that you’re making the information very accessible, from products to how-to, where a lot of times folks who want to be eco-conscious, you know, without having to do a ton of research on their own. You know, granted, green products are becoming far more readily available, but if you really want to commit you’ve got to do a lot of research. So you’re really taking that step there for them and showing everyone.
ED: Yeah. You know, in the old days it was a lot harder to do this stuff. Now it’s getting easier and easier. I’m trying to prove that I can still give you a cool beverage and a warm shower; I’m just going to do it more efficiently.
TOM: And speaking of that research, that is getting a lot easier and of all the projects that you’ve tackled on Living With Ed – and I guess you’ve been on now for over a year?
ED: Yeah, we’ve been on for 19 episodes for over a year.
TOM: Now what are some of the favorite home improvement projects you’ve been able to do in your house?
ED: My favorite, I suppose years ago in 1990, is when I put up solar electric. That’s probably my favorite; getting my power from the sun
TOM: And you were way ahead of the curve on that.
ED: Yeah, I did solar hot water in ’85 for the first time. I’ve had that, you know, for a while now. That’s been 20-some odd years. But the solar electric it’s only been 18 years now but I love it. That’s probably my favorite.
TOM: Have you seen these new solar shingles that are out? That seems to be the next edition of solar electric.
ED: Boy, I wish they’d had those when I was doing it in 1990. I’d like to do that today because my wife objects to the visual blight of those cantilevered, you know, panels everywhere. And so yeah, I’d like to have that. Definitely. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
LESLIE: Well and I want to ask you about lifespan. I mean your solar water heater now is 20-plus years old. Have you had to replace it or is this the same one that you put in in the 80s?
ED: I put it in in the 80s. In the late 80s I put in the one on this house. I put in solar hot water in another house; a house in Ohi (ph) in the mid-80s. So this one came in – actually no, 1990 this solar hot water system was put in and then I just recently had to do some maintenance on it but it was not exorbitant; that amount of maintenance.
TOM: Seventeen years and one maintenance job is not so bad, huh?
ED: Not bad at all. That’s lots of hot water.
TOM: We’re talking to Ed Begley, Jr. He’s the star of Living With Ed on HGTV.
There are some folks that think a product is only green if it’s like bamboo flooring that can be easily regrown. Others would say, ‘Well, if we have 12 distribution centers across the country; our trucks don’t have to drive that far then we’re making a green product.’ Do you have difficulty trying to identify what truly is a green product?
ED: No, there are various shades of green. You know, there’s light green, there’s …
ED: … medium green and there’s dark green. And you do whatever you can; whatever shade you can achieve. You know, you don’t run up Mount Everest. You get to base camp and you get acclimated. Not everybody can climb to the top of that peak. You know I’m not Sir Edmund Hillary. I don’t think I could scale that peak. (Leslie chuckles) You know, but I do what I can. Not everybody can buy solar electric. Some people are just going to do a compact fluorescent bulb, an energy-saving thermostat; you know, stuff like that.
TOM: I’m going to go out on a limb and say you are fluorescent green, Ed.
ED: You’re very kind. (Tom and Leslie laugh) I take that as a great compliment.
LESLIE: Well, we were reading some things about your show and I know that you’ve installed something in your home that seems really innovative and super-cool and quite frankly, I had never heard of it. It’s something called the GreenSwitch, which seems amazingly innovative and smartens up your home and really helps you conserve energy. Tell us about it.
ED: I actually want to move in the hierarchy of favorite green things. I love it even more than my solar panels …
ED: … because it’s much less expensive for the average joe or average jane. So it shows how much energy you can save in a tremendous amount with this GreenSwitch. That’s my number one favorite.
TOM: How does it work?
ED: It works to eliminate all that vampire power in your house. What do I mean by vampire power? What I mean is that, like a vampire, that power that’s sucking from you and giving you nothing in return.
TOM: So these are all the transformers and the …
ED: All the transformers: the cell phone chargers that aren’t charging a cell phone.
ED: The little transformers that go to some extra little photo printer that you have that you’re not using but once every month or so. Your instant-on TV that doesn’t need to be instant on …
ED: … (AUDIO GAP) the house. All those things you put on a GreenSwitch switch, which is a wireless technology. You don’t have to go to your circuit breaker box or rewire your house.
LESLIE: Oh interesting.
ED: It’s wireless …
TOM: Oh, OK.
ED: right at the outlet. And so you flip off the GreenSwitch when you leave the house. All that nonessential stuff is shut off. All the essential stuff – your clock radio, your VCR with a clock in it, your answering machine, your fax machine – all those things you want on. So you leave all that on. Your, you know, automatic sprinkler system; alarm system if you happen to have one; all that stuff you want on all the time. And here’s the great thing about a GreenSwitch. You can have an outlet that has a top and bottom plug. The top part of the plug can be GreenSwitch; the bottom part, on all the time. You can have the clock radio or the fax machine on the bottom. The top can be GreenSwitch. When you leave the house it just turns off the top part of that very outlet.
TOM: Ed, how much money do you think you can save in the average house using something like this?
ED: You can – with a GreenSwitch you can probably save three to five kilowatt hours a day of vampire power, depending on how much stuff you have plugged in; how many instant-on TVs, transformers, odds and ends you have around your house. Three kilowatt hours a day is very normal.
LESLIE: And that would equate to what? Fifteen hours on your stationary bike? (Leslie and Tom laugh)
ED: Well, a lot. Probably. Probably something like that. Maybe a little more.
TOM: Ed Begley, Jr., the star of Living With Ed. Thanks so much for spending some time with us, Ed.
If you want to catch some more information about Ed’s program you can go to HGTV.com and if you’re interested in learning more about GreenSwitch that website is GreenSwitch.tv.
ED: Thank you so much for having me on.
LESLIE: Alright, Ed Begley, Jr. Thank you so much and I have to say I’m so glad I contained myself from like fawning all over the poor guy [in the beginning] (ph). (Tom chuckles) You know, I love those Christopher Guest movies. I think they’re hysterical. And he always has these quirky little roles in them and, of course, She-Devil rocks. So thank you, Ed Begley, Jr. for educating us and entertaining us.
Alright, folks. Up next we’ve got another way that you all can go green. We’re going to tell you if your fridge is eating up your energy dollars, so stick around.
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: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And this is the show that closes the gap between low maintenance and no maintenance.
LESLIE: Alright, and speaking of maintenance; when you’re doing all of your how to, maintain, DIY things around your house you better be thinking safety and we’ve got a great prize for you for those of you who call 1-888-MONEY-PIT this hour and ask your question on the air. We’re going to put your name in the Money Pit hardhat; we’re going to draw one out at random and you are going to win a pretty awesome prize. These are safety goggles that go over your eyeglasses. So if you’re not in the budget to buy prescription safety goggles – which some people do if they’re serious DIY-ers, but if you’re more of a recreationalist or just really enjoy your own glasses, these are going to pop right over. They’re from our friends at Live Eyewear. They’re they Eye Armor glasses. They’re antifog, they’re scratch-resistant and they’re high-impact rated. They’re worth 70 bucks but they could be yours for free if you call in now with your how-to question.
Here’s a green tip for you that will help you save money with your refrigerator. Is it eating your energy dollars? Well, if your current refrigerator was made before 1993 it probably uses twice – I said twice – as much energy as the newest Energy Star-qualified models. Now maybe your kitchen fridge is new but you might have an older refrigerator, say in your garage or your basement for those cases of soda that you got on sale.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Which everybody takes their old refrigerator and puts it exactly somewhere else for that exact reason.
TOM: And all the money that you saved buying all of that extra food on sale is going to be eaten up by the extra energy that that unit costs to operate. They can cost like $90 or more a year …
TOM: … to operate over the cost of Energy Star models. So, replacing an older model with a new Energy Star-qualified one can save you a bundle.
If you want to learn more about places in your home that you can save energy and money, check out Energy Star’s new video podcast hosted by moi, available at EnergyStar.gov, MoneyPit.com and AOL’s real estate section. It’s a room-by-room virtual tour with tips along the way. It doesn’t cost a cent and it’ll save you lots of money in the long run. Check it out at EnergyStar.gov.
LESLIE: And did we mention it’s starring Tom Kraeutler?
TOM: I think we mentioned that. (Leslie chuckles) Who’s next?
LESLIE: Rod in Colorado’s got that sinking feeling. What’s going on?
ROD: Well, I have a garage floor. It’s sinking in the middle inside of the garage door/back door and it’s sunk about three-and-a-half inches …
ROD: … and I don’t know whether I have to tear it all out or whether I can just fill it in with concrete.
TOM: Well, let’s first talk about why that happened. How old is your house, Rod?
ROD: About 50 years old.
TOM: Yeah, well you know, typically what happens is as the home is constructed there’s a lot of soil disturbance in the garage and also it tends to be the last place to have the floor put down so it ends up being a lot of debris that gets tossed in the garage in many situations.
TOM: And so that erodes and decays over the years and all of those soil voids get filled in or open up and then the concrete sinks and sort of fills that in. So that’s what’s happening. The good news is that the garage floor is not part of the structure of the home and so …
ROD: No it’s not.
TOM: … you’re really just dealing with a cosmetic issue. If it’s sunk that far I think the best thing for you to do is to break it up and pull it out and put a new one in.
TOM: If you poured another layer on top of it, chances are you could have more movement underneath of it. You don’t know what the situation is there and it would be a shame to put the new floor on top of the old one and have it crack again. I know that’d really break your heart. So my suggestion would be for you to tear up the old floor. It’s actually not that hard to do, especially if it’s 50 years old and already starting to crack. A jackhammer can probably do some pretty serious damage in there in a couple of hours.
LESLIE: (chuckling) And be noisy and fun.
ROD: (chuckling) Yeah. OK, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Rod. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still more great home improvement advice to come, including ideas for freshening up your kitchen. Did you know that refacing your kitchen cabinets, it’s an inexpensive way to update and completely change the look of your kitchen in an instant with a little elbow grease. We’ll tell you how, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by – well, by us. Save hundreds a month on groceries, not to mention significant savings on home improvement products and services with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That’s 866-REAL-HOME. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and you out there in Money Pit land should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Our operators are standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week just to talk to you. They want to take your call. But if you find you need an answer right away go to our website. It’s MoneyPit.com. You can try to find it there online. I guarantee you, you will not find not one but two, but two, but three, five ten answers to your dilemma. Everything that Tom and I have ever written about home improvement and repair is totally free, totally searchable, all available right now on MoneyPit.com. We’ve even got common projects. They’re broken down my topic. It’s so easy for you to find exactly what it is that you’re looking for that you will be so thankful you went there. And while you’re there, if something else pops up that you need the answer to you can click on a nice little button that says Ask Tom and Leslie and e-mail us your question.
TOM: Just like Susan did from Freehold, New Jersey. She says: ‘I have moved into a new apartment and the kitchen cabinets are a medium maple brown. They’re about 30 years old and I’d like to paint them white. The cabinet doors and frame are made of a synthetic wood-like material.’ (Leslie chuckles) I guess she doesn’t know what that is. I think it’s called particleboard, Susan. ‘I was told that if I painted the doors and frames white it would bleed through in five years. Other than new cabinets, what else can I do to brighten these up and make them white?’
LESLIE: Alright, the first thing I would have to say, Susan, is are you in a rental? Are you allowed to do this? I mean that’s got to be the first thing.
TOM: You know, that’s a good point. She did say an apartment. (laughing)
LESLIE: Yeah, and she said she moved into an apartment. So if that’s the case I would definitely check your rental agreement and make sure that it’s something that you’re allowed to do because I …
TOM: Or add the security deposit into the cost. (laughing)
LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. Because I would hate for you to go to move out and all of a sudden, you know, your super or your landlord or your management company to say, ‘Alright, we’re keeping your security deposit which, by the way, happened to be three months rent. Sorry, because you painted your cabinets.’
Now, if everything works out and you can do it, go ahead and give them a good cleaning. Get rid of all the grease and grime and yuck that’s on there so you get a good, nice, clean surface to work with. If you’ve got to do a little sanding just to help it along to get some of that yuck off there, do so then wipe them down. Let them dry. You want to prime them.
Would you use an oil-based primer here, Tom?
TOM: I would use a KILZ or a Bin or a Behr oil-based primer. Yep. Absolutely.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, and those are available in latex too, so you don’t – so you want to make sure you really seal everything in and then once that is dry go ahead and put a nice quality topcoat paint. You want to go with a glossy paint so that you’re able to clean it and it’ll stand up to wear and tear. If you can find a urethane topcoat – or even a water-based topcoat – look for one that’s non-yellowing just to give it a little extra oomph because things tend to turn yellow, especially with the humidity in the kitchen.
TOM: Alright, let’s take this e-mail from John in West Milford, New Jersey. He says: ‘My home is five years old with a walkout basement. I started finishing it and now I have to decide whether to put down carpet or a wood floor. First I have two questions concerning my poured concrete floor. There are cracks in the concrete. What can I do about them? And also there are several areas on the concrete floor that are becoming gritty.’
Well, fixing the concrete floor is pretty easy. You can caulk those. But to the question as to whether you should put down carpet or wood the answer is neither. First of all, carpet’s not such a good idea in a basement because it’s very, very damp down there.
TOM: It’s going to be a source for mold. You can’t put down solid wood because it will warp. What you can put down is engineered hardwood made of multiple layers. Looks like solid wood but is dimensionally stable and will stand up in the basement.
LESLIE: Got another choice there too, John – laminate. Great choice. Works great in a moist environment. Comes in lot of options. Can even look like a wood floor.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Thanks so much for spending this hour with us. Boy we had a lot of fun this hour.
LESLIE: We sure did.
TOM: Ed Begley, Jr. stopping by and all of the good news about the new Energy Star video podcast available at EnergyStar.gov. Did we mention I hosted that?
LESLIE: (chuckling) I think we may have gotten it in there once.
TOM: Couple of times.
TOM: Thanks so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that we’ve helped you make your home improvement projects a little easier to get done. 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 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2008 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.)