Least Expensive Way to Heat a House

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Here to help you plan your home improvement projects, to get them done right the first time out. If you’ve got a project in mind, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you’re thinking about maybe a project for the spring ahead, we could tackle that. If you are ready to redo some of your interior because after spending the long, cold winter staring at all those walls you know it’s time for a new kitchen, a new bathroom or just some new décor, we can chat about that. But help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Coming up on today’s show, when it comes to heating your home, there are a lot of choices in heating fuel. But have you ever wondered which is truly the most efficient, which one’s really going to cost you the least to get your house warm and comfy? We’re going to sort out the differences between oil, gas, propane and electric to help you determine just that. And you might be surprised at what we found.

LESLIE: Plus, are you ready for a new washing machine? Well, we’re going to have tips to help you find the best features for your laundry needs.

TOM: And speaking of appliances, stoves can be a real danger zone for kids. We’re going to have tips on how to make stoves safe, including an important note about how to prevent stoves from tipping over. Because I don’t know if this has happened to kids in your care but mine love to turn that oven door into a diving board and climb right up on it and jump off.

LESLIE: Yeah. Mine always love the warming drawer. I don’t know why.

But guys, whatever is going on at your money pit – kids playing with the oven? Don’t let them do it. Give us a call. We want to help you out.

TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Venny (sp) from Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. It seems like things are cracking up all around you. What’s going on?

VENNY (sp): I recently moved from the Northeast down here to Florida.

TOM: Hasn’t everybody recently moved from the Northeast to Florida? Is that the great migration?

VENNY (sp): Yes. Lower taxes and better weather.

TOM: Right.

VENNY (sp): Yeah. And I have a house. I’m doing major renovation. And I’m noticing not just my property but everywhere in Florida, because everything is on sand, there’s so many things, patios – I ripped out an entire back patio but there’s even – everywhere there’s a slab of concrete, it’s cracked, whether it’s cracked a little bit or cracked a lot.

TOM: Right.

VENNY (sp): And what I need is specific recommendations of what to do. Would you fill it and then do some kind of an epoxy paint? Or is there some kind of a resurfacing to be done? What’s the best way to go about it and what are the specific products you’d recommend to do that?

TOM: So we’re talking about patio slabs, right?

VENNY (sp): Yeah. If you go – let’s say even if you go out a sliding-glass door and you have a little slab of concrete there, my garage is, you know – and this is a relatively new house.

TOM: Right. Yep. Yeah.

VENNY (sp): The garage – and if you like closely, you’ll see small cracks or big cracks. The inside of the garage is cracked, the entranceway to the garage is cracked.

TOM: Right.

VENNY (sp): Some of them are big and some of them are small.

TOM: OK. The reason I asked you whether we’re talking about the patio is because there is a difference between how you would put down a slab for the house itself, including the garage, and how you would do that for a patio outside.

And typically, what happens is when homeowners have patios poured, the masons don’t make them thick enough or they don’t reinforce the patios. And concrete, if it’s not properly supported – which can easily happen, especially in sandy soil or in soil where the water is not diverted around or away from the patio – they can become unstable and they can crack very easily.

And in a case like that, if you were to seal the crack, you’re not really fixing the problem. It will continue to move. That concrete wants to bend and it can’t, so it cracks. Certainly, that will slow it down and stop water from getting through the crack and under it.

But in your garage, that’s a place that’s not really supposed to crack. And if the cracks are minor, that’s pretty typical. If they’re major – and by major, I mean they’ve opened up to ¼- or ½-inch – that’s a problem that needs further investigation by a structural pro.

But what you could do is you could fill those gaps with a silicone filler or an epoxy patching compound. And then once they’re filled, you certainly could finish that slab with any type of appropriate finish. An epoxy paint works really, really well if the slab is barely deteriorated. And up in the Northeast, we see a lot of deteriorated slabs because people put rock salt down. There are different resurfacing materials that you can use in your area that will give that concrete a new surface.

But I want to just explain to you that, again, if it’s outside the frame of the building, it’s most likely to continue to move. So if you’ve got a concrete apron at the front of the garage and it’s cracked, just because you’re covering or filling cracks doesn’t mean it’s not going to open up or continue to move, because that’s just kind of what it’s going to do. It’s a factor of how that was poured to begin with. Does that make sense?

VENNY (sp): Yes. And what I’m wondering is – it seems like there’s two major choices here. One is to fill it and paint it and the other is some kind of resurfacing. But I haven’t heard – I’ve got some different contractors looking at this.

By the way, you mentioned a patio. I had a rear patio and it was so cracked up, I had three different contractors come with all different – three different answers.

TOM: Yeah.

VENNY (sp): And some said to tile it, some said to fill it. We eventually just demoed it and then just put a deck on the back.

TOM: Right. Yeah.

VENNY (sp):  I really liked that a lot. Because they said, “Sooner or later, even if you fix it, it’s going to come back again.”

But for example, the entranceway to the house, that’s cracked.

TOM: Right.

VENNY (sp): I’m just shocked. And I’ve looked around. Now I’m very aware of this. But in these southern – any of these places where it’s on sand, this is a major problem. And I definitely – I checked out the website. I do hope you address this on – I love your site, by the way. I learned a lot on the site.

TOM: Thanks.

VENNY (sp): But that you – that there’s something that you could write up and give us some specific maybe products or …

TOM: Well, look, outside, those slabs, you’ve got to remember that’s structural, OK? That’s like your yard’s version of a rug, OK? That’s not designed to hold anything. It just gives you a clean surface for you to walk on, for your air conditioner to sit on and for guests coming up to your house to step on for – to make a bridge between a driveway and the garage slab itself.

So, you know, that – you say cracked concrete, you immediately think everything is structural. It’s really not. There’s some concrete that’s structural and some that’s not. If you’re a slab-on-grade house and you’ve got cracks going through the middle of your kitchen, which I’ve seen, that’s structural. But outside, it’s not. So it becomes cosmetic.

And in terms of whether or not you just fill it and paint it or whether you put a – if you were to resurface that, QUIKRETE has got some amazing products that will bond and stick like crazy to concrete surfaces. And those are great. And you’ll get a new, clean-looking surface. But that crack underneath can form all the way through the newly resurfaced material, so it depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

But don’t panic and don’t think that you’re having structural problems because you see patios and sidewalks and outside slabs cracked. It’s not important. It’s cosmetic only. Yes, we could have prevented it if the concrete was thicker, if it was reinforced. But look, they’re not doing it that way to save money, whatever. If you want to tear it out and do it right, you could do that. But until then, you’ve just got to kind of seal it, fill those cracks and just kind of live with it. That’s what I would do.

VENNY (sp): But you mentioned a product called QUIKRETE. I was worried about trying something to try to put a veneer on top of it, whatever that was. And I’m not sure of the products to go after but if you put a product, let’s say – I’ve heard of QUIKRETE. I don’t think I’ve ever used it.

TOM: Yeah. And QUIKRETE is a major brand. It’s the leading brand in concrete products for the home and commercial, as well. But it’s – these guys have the technology down. And one of their products is a resurfacer. So, yes, it’s not a miracle; it’s not going to reinforce the structure of that. It will still flex and bend and crack. But listen, you’re never going to get it to be totally crack-free. And if it bothers you that much, I’d say then go ahead and resurface it. And the crack, when it comes back, is going to be more hairline than sort of a gap, OK?

Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Zelda in North Carolina is looking for some help with a renovation. What can we do for you?

ZELDA: Yes. I’ve done a lot with my floors but I put some laminate in everywhere, because I have a little Chihuahua dog and didn’t want to get scratches on real wood. But there is a bathroom upstairs and a small hallway in front and I didn’t want laminate there, because you don’t want it in a bathroom. So, what else would be good? Because I didn’t want the grout issues of tile or – and I didn’t know what else to go to. I thought about bamboo or is there some tile that doesn’t have the grout-y stuff or …?

TOM: Well, there’s a wide variety of choices. Now, you mentioned that you didn’t want to put laminate there. Do you want something that gives you a wood look?

ZELDA: Not necessarily.

TOM: Alright. Well, one of the options that I was thinking would be a bamboo floor. Bamboo is very, very durable and it’s also very good in moist, damp areas. It doesn’t swell. And you can pick up bamboo as an engineered product, which means it’s made in multiple layers, which gives it dimensional stability. But of course, that is going to give you sort of that wood look.

There are also luxury vinyl products that are out today that are very, very thick and heavy vinyl tile that are not very expensive.

LESLIE: Yeah, it’s like a rubberized vinyl, even. They’re fairly thick. They’re available in a plank style, so it actually looks like wood. Some of those will – some will snap together as the rubberized vinyl. Some will sort of overlap and stick to one another. It depends on the quality of the product, to be honest with you. But they’re both – however much money you do spend on a rubberized vinyl, it goes together very easily and it looks fantastic. And it’s a little bit softer, so it’s more forgiving on your legs, knees, back when you’re standing in the room for a long time.

ZELDA: Well, yeah, because my first choice, when I went to look, was the bamboo. But I wasn’t sure if that could go in a bathroom. So that really is what I kind of liked the best. Yeah, great.

Thank you so much. That’s very helpful.

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

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire that pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros, for free.

TOM: Up next, gas, oil, propane or electric. With so many ways to heat your home, we’re going to help you sort out which is the most efficient and the most effective, after this.

Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Standing by on this February weekend to take your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really do have the best local pros for any home service.

LESLIE: That’s right. Doesn’t matter what the project is, they make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros.

TOM: And there are no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use. HomeAdvisor.com.

LESLIE: Going up north to Rhode Island where Doug has got a question about heat sources. What can we do for you, Doug?

DOUG: Yeah, hi. Good evening. I appreciate your show and I thank you for all your hard work in providing such wonderful answers.

My question has to do with – I’m looking – considering an alternative source for heat in the event of power loss. And I’m trying to weigh my options and I’m looking at pellet stoves and wood stoves. And I’m wondering what your opinions are and if there are – if there’s anything else that I should be considering.

TOM: Yeah, you should be considering a whole-home generator if you’re concerned about power failure. I mean look, it’s not just the heat that you need in a power failure. Have you thought about installing a generator?

DOUG: You know, if I did install one, it would have to be one that just kicks on: one of those whatever-they-call-it, the automatic style?

TOM: Yeah. It’s called – let me explain this to you, Doug. It’s called a “whole-home generator.” It’s a permanently installed appliance. It would be installed outside your house. You can buy one that can cover every single circuit in the house or you could buy a smaller one that would just cover select circuits like, for example, your furnace or your boiler. And when the power fails on the grid, the whole-home generator automatically kicks on and then repowers your entire house.

Now, these don’t run on gasoline. They can run on natural gas or propane, which means you never have to worry about fueling them or finding gasoline to fill a tank, for example. Because that’s what you’d have to do if you had a portable generator. So I would protect my power first.

Now, as to the question about installing some alternative heat source, like a pellet stove or a wood stove, sure, one of the other of those is fine. I think you’ll find maximum efficiency with the pellet stoves. And the most efficient stoves also have their own combustion air supply. That’s where most folks go wrong. Because if you don’t have an outside combustion air supply, where do you think all that air comes to fuel that fire? It comes from inside your house and that’s the air that you’ve already paid to heat through your heating system. So, you want to have an external combustion air supply to help improve the efficiency.

Does that make sense, Doug?

DOUG: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I do have natural gas.

TOM: Well, then, you’re all set up. I would take a look at the KOHLER generators or the Generac generators. Both great brands.

DOUG: Yeah, I’ll look into it.

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

LESLIE: So, have you ever been bombarded with ads compelling you to choose propane over oil or natural gas over electric? Well, all of these competing claims can make it very hard to find out what the best deal is for you, because that differs from person to person.

Now, according to the Department of Energy, the best home heating-fuel option for your home depends on a variety of factors, including the cost and availability of the fuel and the cost of maintenance and installation.

Now, the truth is that for most of us, our home heating-fuel options may not be up to us, since the fuel has to match the heating appliance that was installed in your home or your apartment or condo. And switching from one fuel to another usually isn’t practical. But there are ways you can save.

TOM: Well, that’s right. For example, if you heat by oil – or even, in some cases, propane – one way to cut costs is to join a fuel cooperative. These oil-fuel cooperatives are groups that form to purchase fuel oil in bulk. And they do so at a discount, which is then passed along to the end users.

Now, the cooperatives have been around for more than 20 years or so and joining one can give you some pretty significant savings. But just remember you have to kind of split out the service work, because the cooperative is not going to tune up your furnace and that sort of thing. So you are going to have to hire a pro to keep things in good working order or repair it if it breaks.

But purchasing the fuel, you definitely don’t have to do that through the same company. If you go through a cooperative, you can cut the costs.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Robin in Oregon who’s dealing with some mold issues. Tell us what’s going on.

ROBIN: In our bathroom, there just seems to be a lot of moisture. I don’t know if the exhaust fan is working properly or not. On one of your shows, you’d mentioned Concrobium, so I sprayed that in the shower and that seems to help stave it off. But we use a fan, we use the exhaust fan and we use a dehumidifier.

And I noticed on the outside, I guess, outtake vents, there’s a whole bunch of black stuff. And then, also, in our sinks, underneath the faucet, there’s mold back in behind that hole. So I’m wondering, is this going to be a health concern or how do I stop some of this mold?

TOM: Well, the solution comes down to managing moisture and it sounds like you’re doing the right things. But one common mistake that people make with exhaust fans is that they don’t leave them on long enough after you take a bath or a shower. They really have to stay on, sometimes, 15 or 20 minutes to properly dry out the room.

ROBIN: Well, I know – well, I can’t speak for my husband but I know that I do, just because I’ve got a fan running, I’ve got a dehumidifier and I’ve – we’ve also got the exhaust fan and it is the biggest one that you can have. And I’m wondering if just because of our moist area we need to get two of them so it’s directly over the shower? I don’t know. But I’m worried that through the whole pipe that leads to the outside, is that all filled with mold in there if the outside vent shows mold?

TOM: Well, the vent that’s taking the air from the bathroom out, is that what you’re seeing on the outside wall?

ROBIN: I’m not seeing on the wall, just on the vent itself, where the – I guess where the air goes out to the outside? That whole vent is all moldy looking.

TOM: Well, a lot of people look at vents that are dirty and call it “mold.” I think it would be unusual for it to be moldy, because you would have to have a pretty strong food source there. And the only thing you’re going to have coming out that vent is a bit of dust, which could be a mold source but it’s very unusual for it to really develop. So I think you might just be seeing a dirty vent. It’s much more likely that what you’re seeing there is dirt and not mold.

But I would say this: if you want to eliminate the possibility of moisture inside the bathroom, what you want to do is you want to make sure that the exhaust fan – the bathroom fan – is wired to a humidistat.

And if you take a look at the fans that are made by Broan-NuTone, they actually have a new one coming out, I know, that has a humidistatic control. And I think they have some others, as well. But we just saw one last week, though, at a major trade show called the International Builders’ Show that they were releasing for the first time.

But if you get one of these fans that’s got a humidistatic control in it, then you don’t have to worry about whether or not somebody’s leaving it on or not. It just stays on until the moisture goes down and then automatically goes off. So, it kind of takes you out of the equation.


TOM: And your husband. Because he could be the problem.

ROBIN: I don’t have to be a grouch and say, “Turn that back on.” OK.

TOM: You do not. You do not.

ROBIN: Alright. Well, I will try those. And the Concrobium is working great in the shower, so that was an excellent tip from before.

TOM: Our pleasure. Glad it worked out for you. Robin, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Still to come, are you looking to shop for a good bargain on a new washing machine? Well, one piece of advice: don’t scrimp too much. We’re going to tell you why spending more now can save you some later, after this.

TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: What are you working on? Do you need new flooring in your kitchen or your bathroom? Well, that’s a good question for us. So call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. HomeAdvisor can instantly match you with the right pro for jobs like that and so much more, for free.

LESLIE: Tony in Iowa is having a hot-and-cold water situation. What’s going on?

TONY: Well, I’ve got an electric water heater. And the main feed that comes in from the city, that goes into my electric water heater, it’s a cold line. But yeah, I get cold water to come out of my faucets and everything but that cold-water line, up around through the water heater there, it’s hot, the line, when I touch it. And I’m just curious what’s going on with that.

TOM: So, you have an electric water heater and that’s going to be fed by a cold-water line and it’s going to go through the water heater and come out as a hot-water line.

TONY: That’s correct.

TOM: OK. And so what’s the problem? So far, it’s normal.

TONY: The water line that goes into the water heater – the cold water?

TOM: Yes. Yep.

TONY: That line is hot.

TOM: Well, some of the heat from the water heater can be working its way back up the pipe. So you may be feeling some conductive heat that comes from – the hot water in the water heater itself could be making that pipe warm. But if you go farther down the line, you’re going to feel that it’s cold again.

It goes in cold and comes out hot but the fitting right around the top might feel like it’s a bit warm. But that’s only because of the conductive heat of the water in the water heater coming back up the metal pipe.

TONY: OK. That alleviates my concerns then.

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

LESLIE: Dana in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

DANA: Well, I have a shelf that needs to be cut down so it’ll fit in the base of our A-frame cabin that we just bought in the Ozarks. And so it’s about 20 inches tall and it’s about 3 feet long and it kind of has those baskets that fit in it. And so, what I’d like to do is I’d like to cut it at an angle so that it fits back in there and it’s not just sticking out into the flooring space.

LESLIE: So, Dana, what you need to do is that – really what you have to do is sort of resize this piece so that it will fit into that open-bay portion so that it’s not, as you say, sticking out into the room. And you really need to be creative with the angles to sort of figure out what needs to come out of where.

Can you tell me a little bit more about this A-frame and the size of the shelf?

DANA: Well, the A-frame is just a regular A-frame; it goes all the way from the top to the peak, all the way to the ground level. And so I was trying to figure out, how do you figure the angle so that I know what angle to cut this shelf on?

LESLIE: Well, there’s a tool that you’re going to want to get: T-bevel.

TOM: Yep.

LESLIE: And it’s like a plastic handle with this sort of a tic-tac, oval-shaped blade that’s got a slide set in the middle of it.

TOM: Blade. Mm-hmm.

LESLIE: And you’re going to open that up. You can get that at any tool area at the home center.


LESLIE: And you’re going to want to open it up and you put that right in the corner at the angle and then lock it in that position. And then you go ahead and put that at your T-square and that’s going to tell you exactly the angle that you need to cut at. Or you can then take that T-bevel and go right up to the bottom of your shelf, put it exactly where you’re going to want to put that cut and mark that line.


TOM: Yeah, it’s like an adjustable square and it’s called a “T-bevel.” And you should be able to find an inexpensive one, like Leslie said, at home center.

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It really is going to save your day and make this the easiest project.

DANA: Ours …

TOM: I use that all the time for different types of fancy mitering cuts in, too, because there’s a couple of tricks of the trade where you can measure an angle and then divide it so that you can make a miter that ends up perfect on both sides.

And we also use it sometimes to set the angle on saw blades, so I think you’ll find that it’d be a very handy tool for this particular project. OK, Dana?

DANA: Alright. Thank you very much.

TOM: Well, here’s a quick tip if you’re in the market for a new washing machine. You might be tempted to buy the least expensive model out there and save some money. But you’ll get better savings in the long run when you purchase a high-efficiency washer.

LESLIE: Now, high-efficiency washing machines use half the energy of a conventional washer and about a third less water. The spin cycle is super fast, so your clothes don’t need as much drying time, which is also going to save you energy with your dryer.

TOM: And you’ll also use about two-thirds less detergent in a high-efficiency washer. And these machines can even handle large, bulky items, like comforters and blankets and sleeping bags, a lot easier than the inefficient models. And that’s going to save all of those special trips you used to have to take to the dry cleaners or the laundromat. So definitely dig into the high-efficiency machines if you’re ready to replace your washer.

LESLIE: Don in Pennsylvania is on the line with a lighting question. How can we help you today?

DON: Now, we’re going to redo our kitchen ceiling this year and we have these 6-inch pot lights up in the ceiling.

TOM: OK. Yeah, the can lights?

DON: Yeah.


DON: And we were wondering if we would take them out, if we put the LED lights under the cabinets, if it would give us as much light.

TOM: No, I wouldn’t take them out. I would keep them in.

Now, one is for area lighting; one is for task lighting. So the LED lights that could go under the edge of the cabinet could give you task-specific lighting for food prep. And they also look darn cool when you dim them in a party or something like that.

DON: Yeah.

TOM: But I would keep the lights in the ceiling.

But by the way, you have a lot of options in the type of bulb that you can put in those ceiling lights. You could actually put in LED bulbs into those ceiling lights, too. And you may find the quality of light is better than what you have with the incandescents.

DON: I mean take them out and put maybe like 4-inch ones in smaller ones or just leave the 6 ones in there?

TOM: I would leave them. I think that – I think you could use the 6-inch ones that you have. I don’t think that’s part of the project that’s going to give you a good return on investment. But if you change the bulbs out, I think you’ll find that that will make a difference.

Take a look at those Philips bulbs. I’ve got several of those now in my house, including in the kitchen, as can lights. They’re LEDs and we matched them up with Lutron dimmers where you can adjust the dimming range. And they’re super bright and they cost a heck of a lot less to run than the incandescents. And they last a lot longer. We used to replace those incandescents all the time and these have been – I’ve never had to replace them and I think they say they last over 20 years.

DON: Where would you find the (inaudible) on that?

TOM: You can get them at Home Depot.


TOM: I know that I’ve gone there. They’re really interesting looking, Jack. They’re the ones that look – they look like yellow. They kind of look – I always think they look like bug lights.


TOM: But you’ll be amazed when the thing comes on how bright it is.


LESLIE: And they’re super efficient.

DON: Well, that’s what we’re looking for.

TOM: Alright, Don. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Up next, stoves can be a real danger zone for kids for so many reasons. We’re going to have tips on how to make stoves safe, including an important note about preventing stoves from tipping over, after this.

TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: What’s the one project that you would like to get done in the remainder of this year? Spring is just ahead. Great time to tackle projects both inside or outside your house before it gets too terribly hot. If you’ve got a project on your to-do list, slide it right over to ours by calling us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we will figure out the best way to get that project done.

LESLIE: Ann in Georgia, you are on the line with The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

ANN: Well, my house was built back in the 60s and I know now when they put up drywall, they use drywall screws.

TOM: Yep.

ANN: But back then, they used a hammer.

TOM: Yep. And nails, mm-hmm.

ANN: And I’ve got these dings on the walls and the ceiling. And I’ve tried to put spackle over the top of them and scrape it off and sand it and then paint it and there they are; they come right back again. Is there anything I can do to sort of cover it or do I have to take down all the drywall?

LESLIE: No, no. Are you sure it’s a hammer ding and not a nail pop? Does it seem like it’s raised or does it seem like it’s recessed?

ANN: They’re recessed.

TOM: They’re recessed. OK.

So, the solution here is spackling but it’s not just a one-shot thing. What you want to do is put multiple coats of spackle on, Ann. So you start – and you can go out to a home center or a hardware store and you can buy plastic spackle knives that are basically disposable.

So you start out with one that’s about 2 inches, then you go to one that’s about 4 or 5 inches, then you go with one that’s like 6- or 8-inches wide. And if you put on three layers like that, you’ll fill it in, it’ll be absolutely flat.

But you can’t just stop there. If you’re going to start doing this around the house, you’re going to have to repaint all of those surfaces and you should prime them first. Because if not, you’re going to get different absorption between the areas that were newly spackled and the old ones. And that will result in sort of like a weird kind of glazing or sort of shade difference with the way the paint kind of takes.

ANN: Oh, OK.

TOM: Alright? Now, if you have one that looks like it’s cracked – what Leslie was talking about are called “nail pops” – and frankly, that’s much more likely than the dents you’re describing, unless you just happen to have a really over-aggressive guy with a hammer that put that thing together back in the 60s.

LESLIE: Those dents are haunting you 50 years later.

ANN: I know.

TOM: Yeah. The nail pops, you could put another nail next to the one that’s sort of stuck out and drive it in. And that – the second nail will hold in the first nail. But remember, it’s really key that you sand, prime and paint to make this all go away.

And lastly, the type of paint you use is critical. Make sure you use flat paint; do not use anything with a sheen. Because when you put something with a sheen on a wall, any defect in the wall becomes magnified when the light hits it.

ANN: Well, that’s great advice.

TOM: Well, stoves can be a real danger zone for kids. And if you’d like to prevent accidental burns and fires, it’s real important that you pay attention to the angle of the pot and pan handles. They’ve got to be pushed away from the front of the stove. So always try to use those back burners and then turn the handles in so kids can’t possibly reach them, because they love to explore and you want to keep their hands away from those handles.

LESLIE: Yeah. And not only do they explore, they just run through the kitchen so quickly. So you have to make sure that you don’t have any of those handles hanging out where you can just have a potentially super-bad accident.

Now, another tip is to pull the knobs off of the stove when you’re not using them. Keep them nearby in a drawer. They come off very easily. You know, how many times does a kid brush by and maybe accidentally turns the knob and turns on the gas or turns on an electric burner? Whatever it might be, you’ve got to just take those extra precautions. And always teach the kids to stay away from you, stay away from Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, whoever is at the house when someone is cooking.

TOM: Now, also, here’s a tip that I think a lot of folks are not familiar with. If you’re putting in a new oven range, you want to make sure that you install the anti-tip brackets. Now, these are included now with all-new ranges and it’s a bracket that basically usually fits over the back legs of the stove. And when you push the stove – and it kind of locks the stove in place. It doesn’t lock it in the sense that you can’t pull it out again but it sort of traps it there so that if the kids were to open the oven door and climb up on it, the stove will not tip over. Because they are actually surprisingly unstable if you push down on an oven door. It could tip forward and fall over very easily.

So those tip brackets are really important to know about and to make sure that they are installed when it comes time to replacing that oven.

LESLIE: Joe in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

JOE: I have a single-story house that’s got hot water. I’ve got a boiler with a hot-water heat baseboard. And about eight years ago, I had air – central air conditioning installed.


JOE: And when they did all that, they ran all the trunk lines up in the attic, put all my registers in the ceiling.

TOM: Yep. Mm-hmm.

JOE: And now the problem I have is during wintertime, I’m getting condensation. I’ll go around and shut those registers off but it’s not 100-percent shut-off on those registers, of course. And I’m getting condensation that’s forming up in my trunk line and I’m getting condensation dripping out of my registers, which – I’m starting to get some water stains on my ceiling, around my registers, from this.

TOM: Alright. So you have an energy problem. The problem is that those registers are so cold that when the warm, moist air from the house strikes them, it condenses. And so, you need additional insulation in the space above that. You may need to insulate in or around those ducts. You may need to wrap those ducts with additional insulation. You need to keep those ducts warmer and frankly, the bigger problem is one that you can’t see. If it’s that cold at your ceiling, you’re probably losing a lot of heat through that ceiling. So, I would get up in that attic space and take a look.

In your part of the country, having 15 to 20 inches of insulation is not unheard of and it is certainly a good idea.

JOE: Well, basically, I know when they put it in there, they laid those trunk lines right on top. I’ve got like 20 inches of blown fiberglass and they laid those trunk lines. I need to peel that fiberglass back, bury those trunk lines and insulate all around that real good.

TOM: I think that would make a lot of sense.

JOE: Sounds good, then.

TOM: Alright, Joe. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Hey, is your home improvement wish list bigger than your budget? Well, put a dent in it this month with some of the best deals of the year. We’ll tell you where to find them, when The Money Pit continues.

TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. We’d love to hear what you’re working on in your money pit. The number to call us is 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

LESLIE: Well, now that it’s wintertime, a lot of us have been feeling the chill this winter season, just like Alan in Pennsylvania has been. Now, Alan writes: “My replacement windows are about 10 years old. I noticed that they freeze or frost up about a ½-inch on the bottom of the window. Every year, the area seems to get a little bigger. Is this a moisture problem or a window problem or no problem at all?”

TOM: Sounds to me like it’s definitely a window problem. If the windows are freezing up on the bottom, it means that they’re not insulated. And especially if you’ve got thermal-pane windows, there may be the seal that broke between the panes of glass. And it’s not going to get any better. It will only vary based on the difference in temperature between outside and inside. If it’s warm and moist inside and it’s cold and freezing outside, that’s where you get the frost.

So, this is definitely an opportunity for you, Alan, to think about replacement windows. They’re a lot easier to install than you might think, because you don’t have to tear out the siding. They’re going to fit inside those existing openings. And if you buy good ones – you know, good ENERGY STAR-rated replacement windows – you’ll find that it’s going to make a huge difference in the comfort of your home going forward.

LESLIE: And just outside of the warmth that you’re going to get from the new windows, there’s so many great features that make them so much more fantastic to use. You can flip them down to clean them, you can tilt them open. Depending on what you pick, you’re going to find a lot of great, new stuff that you’re going to appreciate.

TOM: Well, do you have a boring bathroom but maybe no bucks to spruce it up? There’s actually a lot you can do on the cheap with paint. Leslie has that how-to, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

Leslie? Paint your favorite, inexpensive product for totally overdoing a room, right?

LESLIE: It really is. It can make such a big difference. And there truly is no less expensive way to transform a bathroom or really any room in your house, for that matter, than with paint. And if you do it yourself, you can save even more. Now, here’s four ideas to get you started.

Stencil your ceiling. A lot of people think, “Oh, the ceiling, you just paint it white.” No, no, no, no, no. The ceiling is a totally underused canvas and you can create a really unexpected focal point. So, paint it in a contrasting color. That’s a great way to draw attention upward. Use a soft blush if you’re in a bedroom. Stencil the pattern on the ceiling. So many great options. Even paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. Why not? Make an entirely one-color room. You can totally do that.

Now, here’s another idea: create drama with some boldly-colored walls. Consider those saturated colors, like turquoise, terracotta, deep blues, deep grays, almost charcoal-y black greys, almost that green seaweed that’s so green it’s almost black. Those colors are so fantastic and can really change the look of a room. And you’d be surprised that that dark color can seem very, very crisp and fresh.

Now, here’s another idea: if you’ve got a little imagination and a paintbrush, you can actually paint a simple mural and add some pizazz to an otherwise ordinary bathroom. Now, keep in mind things like bare trees or blooms are easiest to master if you’re not exactly a Picasso. But you can find so many online tutorials and even Bob Ross. You can still catch him online somewhere and he’ll be painting happy, little trees. So can you. So take that time to create a beautiful, personal space in your bathroom with some creativity.

And now, here’s another idea: instead of replacing an outdated vanity, give it a makeover with paint and some new hardware. You’re going to find that the oil-based paint will work best in moist environments and it’s easier to clean. You just have to make sure that you’ve got some good ventilation in the room that you’re working on, since that oil-based paint does carry a lot of fumes. So you want to make sure that you protect yourself in the process.

TOM: Good advice.

This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Speaking of bathrooms, have you ever dreamed of having a futuristic bathroom, the kind that practically does everything for you? Well, coming up next time on the program, we’ll have tips on the cool, new gadgets that can help bring your bathroom into the 21st century.

But for now, that’s all the time we have. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


(Copyright 2019 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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