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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Are you a do-it-to-yourselfer? (laughing) If you’re the latter, we can help you. Call us right now. Let us help you get out from under those home improvement projects. Maybe you are a do-it-yourselfer; you don’t know where to begin. We can help you with that, too. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, with summer approaching, most of the country is warm again. So right about now, you might be taking stock of some outside-the-home home improvement projects that you might want to do.
LESLIE: So where do you start with these outside home improvement projects? Well, you can start right at your own front door. Heck, even your back door. Both of which, by the way, can be a major source of energy loss all year round. Not just in the winter, folks. You can save big bucks by keeping in heat in the winter and keeping the cool in, in the summer. And how’s the weather stripping around your doors? Heck, check that out. And think about it. When you’re looking at all these things, is it just time for a brand new door? Well, if it is, we’re going to talk about the benefits of replacing your average wood door with a really state-of-the-art fiberglass door.
TOM: Also this hour, we’re going to choose one caller to win a set of three bionic wrenches from Loggerhead Tools. They combine a wrench and a pair of pliers and they’re worth about 100 bucks. So call us now to get in on the prize. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s got the first question?
LESLIE: Melissa in West Virginia wants to install a fish pond in your back yard. How’s it going, so far?
MELISSA: Haven’t started yet. I’m not …
LESLIE: That’s good.
MELISSA: I’m not so sure which route to go. I’ve seen the ponds that are like a coy pond that’s in concrete. And then, versus the one that has a liner in it. I’m not sure which is going to be least expensive and less maintenance.
LESLIE: Hmm. Well, that’s an interesting question. With any sort of water feature or a fish pond that you might install in your yard, there are a couple of things you need to think about. Think about how large do you want it; how deep; is there a specific size; what type of water feature do you want it to be. Because some of those precast forms might not come in the exact size that you’re wanting. And there’s an easy way to do it; whether it’s with a precast form or whether you’re doing something out of just a pond liner. And the pond liner can be a little bit pricey, but it’s very durable and it does stand up well. And they come in sizes depending on how large you want your fish pond to be. So make sure you really plan out how big, how deep so you know exactly what size fish pond liner to get.
And what you want to do is you want to make sure that you lay out, very well, either with some spray paint or some bright colored string, the size and shape of your fish pond in your backyard. Get a good layout for it and make sure it’s got either the right amount of sunlight or shade, depending on what type of fish and what type of plants you want to put in there. Once you lay it all out and you’re happy with it, start digging away. And make sure it slopes at an angle so you’re getting a shallower end and a deeper end so if you’re having any sort of water feature in there – or at least it’s aerating properly so that you have your filter in there – will operate properly. Dig it all out. Make sure it’s level on the surface around it, so if you’re using any sort of insert liner it sits in there and sits flush on the top. Or if you’re going to use a pond liner – one of those plastic sheets – make sure you take out any sticks or rocks that might pierce that once you put the water in.
So once you’re happy with the size of the hole, lay some sand down in there on the bottom so that it gives it a nice, soft bottom for that weight of the water to sit on. And when you’re laying in the liner, lay it out in the sun for a few minutes before you start working with it because that helps it stay more flexible. And put it in there with the sand in the hole that you’ve dug and lay it over the sides. Make sure you have enough so that it doesn’t fall back in on itself when you fill it with water. Fill it all up with water and then you can use stones or rocks or dirt to go on the outside of the liner, on the top edge, to cover it so it looks nice and uniform. You can cut away any excess but make sure you have enough hanging over so that you don’t … it doesn’t slip in. And keep any of that excess in case you need to patch it in the future.
And what you need to do is, once it’s filled with water, you have to make sure you dechlorinate the water before you put the fish and the plants in; otherwise, the fish will die.
MELISSA: Right. OK. Well there’s some of those points that you had mentioned that I hadn’t even thought about.
MELISSA: So I guess the best thing is to figure out what shape I want it and how deep I want it and where I want it.
LESLIE: Exactly. And it’s really easy. It’s not difficult to create a waterfall, if you’re thinking about getting some ledge stone and stacking it up to create a water feature part of it. Those are very easy. And they’re done with simple water pumps. And you’re going to need one, anyway, to introduce air into the water to keep it circulating properly. So if you wanted to add a water feature element, they’re really easy. It’s just a matter of getting the right pump with the right pressure to send the water up as high as you need it to go.
MELISSA: Alright. I thank you.
LESLIE: You’re welcome. Enjoy it.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, all I want to know is what kind of pond makes it easiest to catch the fish.
LESLIE: (laughing) One with plastic fish.
TOM: (laughing) There you go.
LESLIE: Beola (sp) in Pennsylvania’s doing something with her wood floor. What’s happening?
BEOLA (SP): Sure. I was having a … the floor is uneven. It’s like going downhill.
BEOLA (SP): And what I had chosen to do was use floor leveling.
TOM: A floor leveling compound, Beola (sp)?
BEOLA (SP): Yes. Floor leveling compound.
TOM: OK. What kind of … what kind of floor are you trying to put down.
BEOLA (SP): Well, the floor is already in.
TOM: Oh, it’s already in.
BEOLA (SP): Right. But what’s happening is it has about two-and-a-half … about two-and-a-half inches flat (ph) on one end of the …
TOM: Wow. What kind of floor was put in?
BEOLA (SP): It was a hardwood floor.
TOM: Oh, man. Listen, Beola (sp), at this stage, you can’t use a floor leveling compound. That has to be done before the hardwood floor is put in. Once the floor is put in, the only way that … to level it out is to take the floor up first. And that’s just like doing the whole job over again. If the floor was unlevel, the contractor should have fixed it before he put the hardwood floor in; not after.
BEOLA (SP): No, this is an … this is an old, old house.
LESLIE: Well, that’s from the house settling over years.
BEOLA (SP): Exactly. That’s what it came from.
TOM: OK, so you … what you want to do is just level this floor now? Or do you want just to … do you want to put a new floor down?
BEOLA (SP): No, I just wanted to level this floor out.
TOM: Alright. Well, if you level the floor out, you’re going to have to have some sort of a new flooring to put on top of it. The compound is not a finished floor. It’s just a material that helps you level the floor. What room are we talking about here, Beola (sp).
BEOLA (SP): We’re talking about a middle … a middle bedroom.
TOM: A what kind of room?
BEOLA (SP): I middle … it’s a middle bedroom. I have three bedrooms upstairs.
TOM: It’s a bedroom, OK.
BEOLA (SP): One that’s in the middle. Yes.
TOM: Alright. If you’re going to put it down in the bedroom, you could use a floor leveling compound to level the floor. And then, on top of that, you could put carpet or something of that nature. But the floor leveling compound itself is not a finished floor. That’s what you need to know.
Now, structurally, it doesn’t make any sense for you to try to raise this floor. Because once a floor settles like that, if you try to pick it back up after all those years of settlement, you’re inevitably going to do some other destruction in the house. You could crack walls, crack ceilings, pull pipes apart, separate wires and things of this nature.
So, at this point, the good news is it’s probably not a structural issue because it’s very common in an older house. But the bad news is you’re going to have to cover that hardwood floor with a leveling compound and then maybe carpet over that or put engineered hardwood on top of that or put carpet on top of that. But you’re not going to be able to raise the existing floor. Do you follow me?
BEOLA (sp): Right.
LESLIE: You know, it’s very common with old homes. I hate to say it but our house – in the dining room, you can see on the jamb from the dining room into the kitchen, there’s probably a good two or three inches. The house has settled that much over the almost 100 years that it’s been there. And while it’s character and charm – as we call it – it’s structurally … it’s no biggie.
TOM: Right. Exactly. Because, you know, when they built the older homes, they were … the beams were small and the spans were long so you got a lot of movement. So every old house is going to have a lot of movement. A common mistake, though, that I wanted to make sure Beola (sp) didn’t make is trying to raise that floor back up structurally. It never works out, so you’re better off …
LESLIE: Well, is there a way that you could pull those planks up and then rebuild like, say, a platform on top of those floor joists to just level it?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, yeah, but it’s a … it’s a … you could but it’s …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I mean that’s a huge project.
TOM: (overlapping voices) It’s a big … it’s a big thinking mess, I mean, is what it is. You could tuck the floor up and you could shim out. I mean, for example, in my house, my bedroom floor sags – and that’s right above the living room ceilings. When we worked on the ceiling, we actually firred out the ceiling to take … to take this huge belly out of the middle of it from the sag.
TOM: So the ceiling looks perfectly flat now but the floor above is still …
LESLIE: Is still …
TOM: … is still sagged, of course.
LESLIE: It’s funny, I swear. In our bedroom upstairs from the dining room – which also is on the slant – I swear, if I don’t lay completely over to the side that’s slanting, I swear I roll over in the middle of the night. (laughing)
TOM: (overlapping voices) You’re rolling. (laughing)
LESLIE: I’m always like, ‘I feel so much higher up on this side.’
TOM: I have a … I have a night stand with two drawers in it. I can’t open them both at the same time because it’s already tilting forward. (laughing) And it wants to roll over. I’ve had to catch it a couple of times.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Ah, character. (laughing)
TOM: That’s right. You know, the realtors have a word for that; it’s called charm.
LESLIE: And it adds an extra 50 grand.
LESLIE: Are you looking for a good home improvement project idea? Well, we’ve got a great project that’s very timely. Why not hang the American flag? But before you do raise all the glory, make sure you know your flag etiquette.
TOM: That’s right. Coming up, rules you can use all summer – Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day – for flying our flag the right way.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Alright, all you patriotic listeners out there. You thinking about raising a flag for these upcoming holidays this summer? But before you do, make sure you know your flag etiquette. OK. Here you go.
The American flag should only be displayed between sunrise and sunset. That’s unless you shine a light directly on it after dark. And when the flag is on a staff that comes out of a window or balcony bracket, the stars should be at the peak of the staff. This way, you know it’s hanging in the right direction.
TOM: That’s right. And when the flag is flown vertically over a street, the stars have to be either north or east. Flying it over a sidewalk means keeping the stars furthest from the building. When it’s hung on a wall, either vertically or horizontally, the stars have to be at the top and to the flag’s own right or your left.
So, you got that? You know your right …
LESLIE: Man, that’s a lot to keep track of.
TOM: I tell you what. You know, but the thing is, you don’t want to hang a flag improperly. It’s just bad form. It’s a lot more …
LESLIE: And plus, then, everybody who knows the proper way is going to come knocking on your door and yell at you.
TOM: Exactly. You know, I have a … I have a Pearl Harbor veteran that is across the street from where I live. And he hangs his flag religiously, every day. And he has a light that goes on it. And boy, if the bulb goes out, he gets really upset. So, I mean, I think there are some people that are … that are … this is very, very important to and it’s courtesy just to make sure, if you’re going to fly the flag, you do it the right way.
LESLIE: Alright, folks. Well, if you have any questions about how to hang that flag properly or any home improvement questions at all that may cross your mind, call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT to ask us any question that you might think of between now and forever because we’re always standing by. And coming up, this hour, we’re going to choose one caller for our prize giveaway. It’s a set of three bionic wrenches from Loggerhead Tools.
TOM: Yeah, these wrenches are really cool because they combine the way a wrench works and the way a pliers work. A set of three is worth 100 bucks. So call us now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Russell in Ohio is next up on The Money Pit. How can we help you?
RUSSELL: Hi. Part of my house is converted from a garage.
RUSSELL: And I believe it’s just carpet over the concrete, right now.
RUSSELL: And I’m wondering what would be a good solution to put down over that concrete for like a different floor; to maybe insulate a little bit but not so thick that I have to change my door heights and what not.
TOM: I think laminate floor would be a great solution.
LESLIE: Yeah, laminate floor is a really nice solution and it comes in so many varieties of styles from a hardwood look to even a tile look. And they go in any room where you have a high moisture situation. So they’re great for a room just like the garage. And they can go straight over the concrete flooring.
RUSSELL: Now, a laminate. Is that like the roll type or is that like the squares?
LESLIE: No, no, no, no, no. A laminate can be … a laminate … is it made from a plastic, Tom? Is that how they make it?
TOM: Yeah, it’s like a … it’s like a laminate countertop except it’s a lot tougher. It’s about 20 times more durable than the kind of laminate used for countertops. And it comes in a tile that has an interlocking edge on it so you, basically, can snap it together. Actually, I shouldn’t say just a tile; it does come in strips as well, depending on what kind of flooring you want. But it’s a great application for putting it on top of concrete which can be a damp surface because it’s totally structurally stable.
RUSSELL: Oh, OK. So not like the … so Pergo wouldn’t work over that?
TOM: Well, that is … Pergo is laminate flooring.
LESLIE: Pergo is a laminate.
RUSSELL: Oh, OK.
TOM: That’s a brand of laminate.
LESLIE: But if you’re looking for more options, I would say check out Armstrong.com because they’re a flooring company that offers a huge selection of laminate floorings; anything from all different types of wood to a slate to a brick look. So there’s a lot of options and they range in prices from, say, $4 to $11 per square. So the prices are fantastic. So there’s a lot of great options and that’s a good place to start.
TOM: And they also have an insulating underlayment that goes under that floor as well.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Some of them … some of them have a rollout sort of subflooring that might go on there; like an underlayment. And others of them have the underlayment directly on the back of the piece. So, depending on which you choose, make sure you have the right underlayment.
RUSSELL: Excellent. The insulation’s what I was looking for. Thanks a lot, folks.
TOM: Russell, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jerry in Virginia’s just done some remodeling. How can we help you?
JERRY: Yes, ma’am. Got a house, built back in 1932. I’m remodeling it and I’ve got a lot of dust and stuff on the studs and the ceiling joists and stuff like that. And I was wondering if there’s a product out there that I could spray that would seal all of that stuff off.
TOM: Well, you could use the kind of sealer that’s very often used when you have a fire; that seals in charred areas. But I really don’t think that that’s necessary. Construction, of course, is a very dusty process but once you get all of the drywall put up and everything completed, then, you know, after a period of time, that dust is going to settle out. Usually, if you have a duct system, you can take some steps to seal off those ducts so that they don’t get a lot of dust inside. But once it’s all done, you know, the first few filter changes that you make on your HVAC system are going to be fairly frequent. But after that, it’ll kind of settle down.
So I don’t think that the dust being on the … on the joists and on the walls is a reason to seal them right now. You know, if you have excessive piles of it, you could vacuum it up with a HEPA filter on your wet/dry vac. But I wouldn’t recommend sealing it as a reason for doing that.
JERRY: OK. Along with the floor, the previous owners had carpet in it and had dogs in there. There’s a very foul odor. I’m afraid once I put the new floor down, it may come through. What’s you all’s opinion? Or should I do something to seal that?
LESLIE: So you’ve taken up the carpeting, you’ve taken up everything that was there prior to with the pets on it?
JERRY: Yes, I’m down to the subfloor. I mean I’m doing a completely remodel job on this house. I’m at the subfloor. I’ve got OSB showing.
LESLIE: OK. There’s a product out there …
JERRY: (overlapping voices) And you can … you can see the stains that the …
LESLIE: On it.
JERRY: … dogs have left.
LESLIE: Yeah. Actually, what causes the stain is there’s something that’s … it’s almost like a parasite that’s living in the pet urine – as gross as it sounds. And you need to kill that. Otherwise, when it reacts with the heat and the moisture and the … and the food that’s in the OSB, it creates that same odor over and over. So unless you kill these little particulates, you’re always going to get that smell. So there’s something out there – it’s from a company called JustRite.com – J-u-s-t-r-i-t-e.com. And it’s a fantastic product and it’s in a liquid form. And you would just spray it onto the OSB. And then it absorbs into another cloth and it really does get rid of that odor. You can use it through carpet, through any sort of carpet padding. It works really well. You can even use it on gravel or concrete outside if your … if the pets, maybe, use the backyard as a bathroom.
JERRY: OK. That sounds great. That’s a very simple solution to my problem.
TOM: Terrific. Jerry, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and for listening to the show on WSVA.
LESLIE: Paolo in Virginia finds The Money Pit on WJFK. How can we help?
PAOLO: Hi. I was wondering if you could give me any suggestions or recommendations on a solar-powered attic fan. I’m looking for ways to keep my house cooler, obviously, and reduce energy costs. And I was wondering if you had any recommendations on that.
TOM: Yeah, Paolo, does your house have central air conditioning?
PAOLO: Yes, it does.
TOM: OK. I would definitely not recommend an attic fan. Because what happens is attic fans are so strong that they actually reach down into the conditioned space of your house and they do that by using the wall cavities and where the outlets and pipes come through the walls as places where they draw air from the inside of your house – that’s that air conditioned air – and it’ll pull it right up into the attic and exhaust it outside. So an attic fan can actually drive up cooling costs.
A better option is just to use passive ventilation. That would be, for example, a continuous ridge vent across the peak of your roof matched with continuous soffit vents at the overhang of your roof. This good natural ventilation that’s passive – it’s not a powered ventilator – does a really good job of letting out that heat in the attic space without taking any of the cold area from … air from the interior of the house down below. OK?
PAOLO: Alright. It’s a newer house so I think I’m pretty much covered on those.
TOM: Well, then, I would definitely not put in the attic fan. You don’t need it.
TOM: Alright, Paolo? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, we talk to an expert from a door manufacturer that can talk to us about the kind of doors that you need to keep warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. Welcome back to this hour of 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.
Well, energy is a topic that we talk about very often when it’s cold and chilly out. But you know what, now is a much better time to tackle some energy-saving improvements.
LESLIE: Well, it’s a great time because not only is it a nice time of year to do some home improvements, but people also need to be aware that your energy dollars are most likely flying out your door whether it’s summer, winter, spring or fall; whatever your weather is.
So folks, did you realize that your energy dollars are likely flying out of your door? The door opening in your home can actually be a major source of heat loss in the winter and cool air in the warmer months. That’s right. Cool air in the summer could be flying out those openings. And not to mention that a flimsy front door invites security problems and can’t offer enough protection from wild weather.
TOM: Well, many front doors are being replaced this time of year. And what’s interesting is that most of the front doors that are out in the country, right now, are either wood or steel. But they’re not being replaced with wood or steel doors. They’re being replaced with fiberglass doors. It’s a totally new option. It’s a cool option. It offers a lot of energy efficient benefits. It offers a lot of security benefits.
Our next guest has the job of testing fiberglass doors from the company that invented the fiberglass door; that is Therma-Tru. And his job is to make sure they are meeting and exceeding all of the performance standards. Steve Jasperson is here to tell us why Therma-Tru’s entry door systems are a great option if you’re considering replacing your front door.
STEVE: Good day, Tom.
TOM: So Steve, your job is to check these doors out and make sure they’re doing the job. We know that … we hear, I should say, that fiberglass doors are a lot more energy efficient and a lot more secure. Let’s talk about the energy efficiency first. How do they stack up to wooden steel doors?
STEVE: They stack up very well. Our fiberglass doors actually have a urethane core. And the combination of the fiberglass and the urethane core gives the fiberglass door excellent thermal properties; about five times better than a solid wood door.
LESLIE: Well, that sounds …
TOM: Wow, five times more energy efficient than a wood door. Well, that would seem to make sense since wood really has almost no insulating ability whatsoever.
STEVE: That’s correct. Our doors perform so well, in terms of energy, that they … they’re actually Energy Star qualified. Energy Star is probably something you’re used to seeing on your hot water heater.
STEVE: But it’s become more and more important in windows and doors to have Energy Star qualified product. There are certain minimum performance standards that you have to meet in order to qualify for Energy Star.
TOM: That’s actually part of what you do, as an energy expert, at Therma-Tru. You check those doors to make sure they meet the standards.
Now, I’ve had the opportunity to actually tour your facility. And I’ve got to tell you, Leslie, it’s a pretty impressive place. The testing that you guys put these doors through …
LESLIE: I’ve seen the video …
TOM: … is amazing. Yeah.
LESLIE: … of the 2×4 being flung at the door at what seems like a bajillion miles an hour. What are you guys doing when you’re testing the door with that?
STEVE: We actually built a cannon, that you saw, that fires the 2×4. And what that’s for is to make sure that our doors are safe and secure in hurricanes. As you know, with all the storms we had in Florida and the gulf last year, it’s becoming more and more important to make sure that your entry door is not going to get blown away from flying debris. And the test is to shoot a 2×4 at the door, which is what we do at our lab here in Ohio.
TOM: Now, besides the door itself, a lot of doors, today, have glass components, Steve. How do you get the glass to be storm resistant as well as the actual, physical door sections itself?
STEVE: There’s actually a laminate that’s in between the glass panes that gives it it’s impact resistance and we do offer impact glass for those southern markets in our … in our patio products.
LESLIE: Now, why is it so important that the doors stand up to this high intensity. Is … will it lead to other problems in the house if the door system breaks down?
STEVE: It’s going to lead to huge problems. In studies they have done, they’ve found that a hole as small as three inches in your door can depressurize the home and your roof will actually come off.
STEVE: So it’s really important that your door is able to withstand those impacts from flying debris.
TOM: Now, besides storm resistance, fiberglass doors seem to be a lot stronger when it comes to preventing burglars from getting into your house. Is that because the material is just stronger than the wood? It always seems to me that when you put a lock into a door that’s wood, that you weaken the door because you take so much material away.
STEVE: Wood is a … is a fairly weak material. Fiberglass is much stronger. It’s not just the skin of the door, which is strong … much stronger to begin with. We also have other components that we have designed. We have a wrap-around security strike plate in the areas where a burglar would try and break in. In fact, we were just awarded the Home Safety Council Safety Innovation Award for our Classic-Craft doors …
LESLIE: Congratulations. That’s excellent.
STEVE: Oh, well, thank you. And that’s specifically for home security. We tested the door and found that we were able to withstand a 450-pound impact.
STEVE: And there’s not too many 450-pound burglars out there. (laughing)
TOM: I think my kids don’t even slam the door that hard.
LESLIE: They’re not very sneaky at that size. (laughing)
TOM: We’re talking to Steve Jasperson. He’s the code compliance manager for Therma-Tru doors. They’re a manufacturer of fiberglass doors. In fact, they actually invented the original fiberglass doors. How many years ago was that, Steve?
STEVE: That was 23 years ago.
TOM: Wow, it doesn’t seem that …
STEVE: We’ve been doing this for a … for a little while and we’ve gotten pretty good at it.
TOM: I guess so. You know, it’s funny. You would never think that the fiberglass door is almost a quarter century old because there’s still so many wooded and steel doors out there. Why is it taking so long for this to catch on with folks?
STEVE: With any new product, it takes a while for it to catch on. But it’s catching on very quickly. We’re finding that in the next 18 months, by 2007 – excuse me – fiberglass doors will make up 30 percent of the door market.
STEVE: And as you said …
LESLIE: Well, that’s excellent.
STEVE: … it’s taking share away from wood doors and steel doors. It’s the only type of door that’s actually gaining in market share.
TOM: Finally, Steve, I want to ask you about this independent study that was done by TNS – they’re a research organization that worked with Therma-Tru – about entry door systems. And as I understand this, you basically took average homes and you photo-shopped new entry ways on top of those average old doors. Then you showed both versions of the doors to focus groups and what happened was amazing because the folks that saw the door with the improved entry way thought that the home was worth a lot more money than the folks that saw it with the original entry way.
LESLIE: Well, that’s crazy.
STEVE: That’s correct, Tom. In fact, it was a lot more than we were expecting. We showed the before and after photographs of the home, where we asked potential home buyers, ‘How much would you pay for this home?’ We were asking them to value the home. When we showed a different group for the study the same home with a Therma-Tru door system on it, we found that the value of the home – the perceived value, for those people that were looking at buying homes – was as much as $24,000 more.
LESLIE: Wow. That’s a huge difference. I mean the doors look beautiful and they certainly are durable, so they do make an impact. Congratulations.
STEVE: They made a huge difference. Much more than we were thinking. So that’s good news.
TOM: Steve Jasperson from Therma-Tru. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. For more information, you can log onto their website at Thermatru.com.
LESLIE: Well, most cooking enthusiasts will tell you that gas appliances are the preferred way to make that delicious four-course spread for your family and friends. But gas appliances do have to be checked periodically. You can’t just leave them alone, everybody. And you need to make sure they’re working right.
TOM: So, coming up, your safety checklist for your gas appliances.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Metal Roofing Alliance. We call metal roofing investment-grade roofing. Because in your lifetime, a metal roof will save you money and add value to your home. To find a Metal Roofing Alliance contractor or to learn more about investment-grade roofing, visit www.metalroofing.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: So we’re talking about gas appliances. They can be very efficient but they need to be serviced by a qualified technician annually. All gas appliances need to have a clear, steady, blue flame.
You know, in all the years I spent as a home inspector, Leslie, I often found gas appliances that did not have that steady blue flame. And you know what that means?
LESLIE: Well, that something’s clogged, right?
TOM: It means carbon monoxide is getting into your house.
TOM: Yeah, because if you do not fully combust gas, you get a really strong deposit of carbon monoxide. That’s why it’s very important to have these things actually serviced at least once a year and certainly cleaned. And I’ve actually had situations or heard of situations where people have been sent to the hospital because they’re oven was not clean, cooked a big meal and they got a lot of carbon monoxide in the house. Traditional cooking appliances don’t produce enough carbon monoxide …
LESLIE: Yeah, but if you’re running an oven for four or five hours – say, roasting a turkey – you’re going to get that.
TOM: Exactly. So it’s an important thing to think about doing.
LESLIE: My goodness. Alright. Well, that’s good to know. And here are some other tips. Make sure you clear the area around all of your gas appliances. For example, don’t block vents and chimneys. And keep any volatile substances away from your gas appliances. Also, keep the area around your gas meter free of overgrown brush and obstructions to allow easy access in an emergency.
TOM: Coming up in this week’s newsletter, five more ways to make your gas appliances safer and more efficient. Now, if you don’t already have it, you can sign up for our free e-newsletter now at MoneyPit.com. That’s MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Heck, you can even call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Somebody is always standing by. And in fact, one of you callers who gets your question answered on air will get the opportunity to win a set of three bionic wrenches from Loggerhead Tools. They’re wrenches but they have a plier-like action that grips any of the nuts and screws all the way around and squeezes it really tight so you get good leverage so you’re not falling down or stripping any of those nuts. It’s a $100 value. So call in your home improvement question right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
LESLIE: Roger in West Virginia’s got a retaining wall problem. What’s going on?
ROGER: Yes, hi. I’ve got a wall that’s probably about waist high on the backside of the house. And it’s not actually holding any dirt back unless the hillside slid down into it; then it would stop it. But there’s probably about an inch tall concrete cap; this block, like, that goes all the way across the top of it, OK? This thing’s probably, maybe – I don’t know – 50, 60 foot long; something like that. Anyway, I keep noticing that this … these caps are crumbling. And I’m seeing little – oh, goodness – the pieces all falling down along the edge of the wall and I’m not really sure what’s going on or what I should actually do there?
TOM: Well, Roger, the way the retaining wall is constructed is probably leading to that situation. In a perfect world, that block wall would be built up and behind it would be probably a foot of stone. That’s fairly large stones; like one to two inch diameter stones. And on top of that, there would be some black cloth that stops the weeds from coming through. And on top of that, might be some …
LESLIE: Called weed blocker.
TOM: Weed blocker. Sorry, the technical term (laughing) escaped me for a moment. The weed blocker cloth. And on top of that, there could be anything; from nothing to the concrete cap. But it sounds to me like what’s happening here is there’s no drainage behind the wall so the water is getting trapped right behind that concrete cap and, of course, it’s freezing and spawling; spawling meaning a cracking as the water gets in there.
So you will continue to have to replace those, over the years, until that wall is draining properly. The solution on this might involve you excavating out parts of that wall to create those drains so that the water falls down and runs out through the wall, as opposed to over the wall. Or it could even involve regrading the top. Sometimes, if the soil hits behind the wall, as opposed to even with the top of the wall, the water will trap behind the wall and cause more damage. But that’s why it’s happening. The water is getting in there. It’s not draining through the wall like it’s normally supposed to. And that’s going to continue to cause spawling because the wall system is just not designed properly. OK?
TOM: Roger, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So, EPA studies show that the air quality inside some homes and buildings is actually much worse than the air outside. Kind of a scary thought. Is your home one of them?
TOM: We have Larry in Kansas standing by. He says stale air has been plaguing his home and we’re going to help him figure out what to do about it, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website is MoneyPit.com. If you go to MoneyPit.com, you can sync and go this broadcast right to your iPod. So if you’ve missed any portion of The Money Pit, you can always grab it off our website at MoneyPit.com. You can also call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or you can log onto MoneyPit.com and email us to [email protected].
And Leslie, we’ve got an email from a guy that’s got a stinky air problem to tackle this time.
LESLIE: Yeah, Larry in Kansas writes: ‘Last spring we had a contractor add onto our older farm house built in 1914. During the construction, we had a new high efficiency furnace air conditioning unit and completely new ductwork added to the whole house.’ It seems like a big job. ‘At first, the air was good with the new system. But later last summer, the air began to seem stale. Could have been from the construction. Maybe the dust provided a medium for the mold. The furnace has an electronic air filter that zaps airborne particles and I had them put in an air exchanger because of the bad air situation we had been dealing with. It seems like this house is just plagued with bad air quality. We do have an Alpine ozone machine which we run from time to time. But still the air is bad. What’s going on?’
TOM: Hmm. Boy, he’s got a whole host of problems there.
LESLIE: Yeah, that seems really not like a good situation.
TOM: Now he mentioned that he put in an air exchanger. I’m hoping that’s an air-to-air heat exchanger. And what that would be doing – and Larry, if you’re not done this yet, if we’re misunderstanding what you’ve done, I just want to re-explain this in the off chance you’ve not done it. An air-to-air heat exchanger is an essential part of your HVAC system for a very, very tight house; one that’s been added onto, sealed up over the years. And what that does is it takes out … takes fresh air in from the outside and it exchanges it with stale air from the inside. But it traps the temperature so that you don’t have to reheat all that air; for example, in the winter. Also has a …
LESLIE: Which is good because you’ve got to get some of that air from inside the house out.
TOM: Exactly. Now, if you’ve already done that and you’re still having airflow problems, I would recommend the next step and that is something called a blower door test. Have you ever seen one of those done, Leslie?
LESLIE: No, what is that?
TOM: They’re fascinating. What they do with a blower door test, basically, they can identify where all the air is moving in your house by either pressurizing the house or depressurizing the house. And they can do a subset of that, which is a duct blaster test where they seal the ducts to actually see where the air is moving. It’s basically a big fan that fits in your front door. You close all the windows, all the doors in the house. And you fill the house with air like you’re blowing up a balloon. And then …
LESLIE: That sounds kind of fun.
TOM: … you can go around and actually measure where all the air is moving. And if that … and you can tell how leaky the house is. If it turns out the house does not have enough ventilation, then you can add more ventilation to try to keep that air fresh. That plus check for other signs of pollutants – you know, like fans that are not venting properly and things of this nature – is the way to tackle this.
LESLIE: Who would Larry contact to get one of these blower tests done?
TOM: Well, that’s a good question. I would call the local utility company because, many times, this is done as part of the energy audits that are performed by local utility companies.
LESLIE: Well, hopefully, we helped you with problem, Larry out in Kansas. And if you guys have any other questions, you can log onto MoneyPit.com and click Ask Tom and Leslie and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. And don’t forget, 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re always here for you.
TOM: OK, folks. Once again, it is time for Leslie’s Last Word. Today’s edition features advice on how not to overdo your home improvement projects.
LESLIE: That’s right. Here’s some advice on how to make the most of your home improvements that you’re working on.
So when you’re thinking of renovations or redos, make sure you keep your home within neighborhood norms. The best way to boost the value of your house is to add square footage that brings your house up to, but not beyond – it’s very important – other homes within your area. Over improving to get a one-up on the Joneses doesn’t necessarily pay off when you’re the only one on the block with, say, a third story or a built-in swimming pool. And remember, renovations that update the style of your home or room will only sell your house faster when they’re in style. So keep things traditional and timely.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is our phone number. You can reach us 24 hours a day. Live call screeners always standing by to help you with your home improvement question.
Hey, coming up next week on The Money Pit, keeping your pet safe when you’re working on your latest project. Is this something that you’ve ever thought about? You know, we think about keeping the kids safe around power tools. But if you’re destroying your house to tackle a home improvement or a home renovation, remember that that destruction, that remodeling, can actually wreak havoc for a pet. We’re going to give you some specific safety tips to keep your pet safe through all of your home improvement projects.
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.
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(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.)