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Share ideas and learn about the latest in home improvement and décor from Tom and Leslie.

Money Pit Blogs

  My brother-in-law built a house that uses a tankless hot water system. The water takes 5-10 minutes to get hot. Is this normal, and if so is there a way to speed this warm-up period?

Tankless water heaters are a great way to deliver cost-effective hot water to your home.  They are energy...

About two years ago, I had noticed there was a leak coming through the ceiling in my bathroom which is connected to my bedroom.  My husband went up to the attic to see where the leak was coming from.  While he was up there, he fell through the ceiling in our dining room!  Undeterred, he thought...

A few weeks ago I had a leak in my roof which I had repaired. The problem started before the roof was fixed and I had water damage in the ceiling of one of the bedrooms.  Well, I used my Ryobi recip saw today to cut out the damaged drywall (5ft x 4 ft) and install a new piece.  The problem...

I have to replace my natural gas water heater but am concerned about the cost of the fuel.  Should I replace with another gas heater or electric?  phillib In the 10 years I have been answering home improvement questions on the radio, I never had anyone ask if electricity would actually be...

My contractor recently installed insulation directly on the inside of my roof. Does this make good sense? Should have he installed the material on the floor of the attic?murc98 - 10/15/06 11:44 AM Well, that depends.  If you are finishing your attic, then roof rafters is really the only place...

We have a Cape Cod styled home with attic vents on each end of the attic, along with a ridge vent.  The attic is insulated.  These vents are very helpful in the hot summer.  However, in the winter the upstairs is very cold.  I want to cover the vents in the winter when the air doesn't need to...

We bought a house with an attic fan that was improperly installed.   During a pounding rain storm water poured thru holes around the fan, across the ceiling joists, thru a heat duct and stained the ceiling below.  The blown-in insulation also got wet.  We put fans in the attic, dried out the...

Our shower upstairs is leaking down the wall to our basement. I've checked everywhere for leaks and it looks like it is in the plumbing somewhere between the shower and kitchen drain. I don't know what to do next except to start tearing the shower out and seeing if I can find the leak. What is...

The second floor of our home has some very loud squeaks that can wake the dead in the middle of the night.  Besides the noise, I'm concerned that these might mean our floors are weak.Shirley N., Lincoln, NE

Floor squeaks are annoying but rarely signal impending structural doom.  However, you...

We have an upstairs laundry room.  The hose came out of the washer and flooded the entire laundry room and caused water to drip through the lights of our kitchen, which is just below the laundry room.  To drain the water, we cut holes in the ceiling of the kitchen (a few small ones) and let them...

My basement just flooded in the latest storm.  I can't figure out the source of the leak and now have wet, moldy carpet.  I need to dry it out and figure out how to get the moldy smell out of the house.  Any suggestions? Darcy D., Chicago, IL

OK, first things first.  Basements that flood after...

I have a question about roof replacement. My composition shingle roof was installed in 1984 and is starting to curl at the edges.  Should I remove the shingles or would it be okay to apply a new layer on top of them? Leaving the old one on seems to provide an insulation in my mind, but I would...

We have a 1960 plantation style home with crown molding under the flashing (no gutters). My lot is 1.5 acres and has an elevation change of 25 feet from the street (high point) to the river (low point). We are installing a French drain system to carry water away from the house, but should we...

My clothes take a long time to dry and I'm wondering if the vent could be blocked.  I tried cleaning it with a vacuum but can't get too far.  Is there an easy way to clean a dryer duct yourself? Laurie in Kalamazoo MI Yes, there is if you have a right tool.  I use an inexpensive dryer duct...

I have a question that could save my life. My husband insists on burning newspaper in the winter, one sheet at a time to get warm as he sits directly in front of it. Now, this winter, he is going to roll up papers, tie them like a log and then burn them for warmth. I have warned him, my...

In our nine year old house, the spaces where the cabinets meet the drywall were caulked. After about three or four years the caulk began to crack leaving a space in this area. The space gets larger in winter - some as much as one eight of an inch - and in some places hardly noticeable in the...

I noticed some unsightly black stains on my shingles roof a few months ago.  I'm guessing they are the fungus/moss that grows on the north side of buildings and spreads from rooftop to rooftop.  What can I use to get rid of them?  Robert G. The best thing to do is to clean the roof with a 1/3...

I have seen a tub made completely of tile.  How does the tile hold water? I know that tile alone will hold water but grout won't.  I really want to make a tub like this but do you know how to make it waterproof?Sam T., Colorado Springs, CO You are correct that the grout will not hold water.  In...

After steaming & scraping off three layers of wallpaper on this wall, here's what I found: plaster unevenly meeting the wallboard where previous owners apparently covered a doorway. I'm not sure what to do.  I found it nearly impossible to remover paper from the plaster without ruing the...

We've had our dual chimneys inspected by 2 companies, and it appears that both have holes in the smoke chambers.  One company wants to reline both flues with stainless steel linings and install top sealing damper systems.   The estimate for this and a new crown is $4,000.  The 2nd company wants...