Putting off needed repairs can cost you in the long run. Discover the three home repairs you should never put off. Learn to make the most of less space by right-sizing your home, and live smaller and smarter. Find out why hiring a home inspector before a sale is a good idea and will help avoid surprises. Tom and Leslie explain why drafty attics will keep your house warmer and your insulation working at its best. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, replacing a door, pre fabricated homes, eliminating ants, replacing A/C filters, correcting a water problem, decking & roof options, siding information, dehumidifiers, drafty attics and replacement windows
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: Happy Fall, everybody. Take a look around your house. It is the Goldilocks season, which means it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold; it’s just the right time to tackle any fall home improvement project. Why not let us help? It’s a deal that can’t be beat. We’re going to get a lot of work done together this hour, because we’ve got a very, very busy show.
You know, sometimes we get calls to the show from listeners who have reached the desperation stage of a home repair. They’re working on something that could have been a lot easier to fix, say they had done it a little bit earlier. Does that sound familiar? Remind you of someone? A spouse? A perhaps significant other? Well …
LESLIE: Or yourself?
TOM: A word of advice: pretending it isn’t happening isn’t going to make it go away. That’s why, coming up, we’re going to talk about some key home repairs that you just can’t ignore and why doing those jobs now will cost you a lot less in the long run.
LESLIE: That’s right. And you know, a good way to find those repairs before it’s too late is a home inspection. In fact, getting one done before you list your home for sale will help you navigate the tricky road to that closing table.
Yes, it’s an added expense but knowing what potential buyers are going to flag – because they’re going to get a home inspection – will give you the upper hand. So we’re going to tell you how to find the right inspector, in just a bit.
TOM: And maybe you’re moving because you’ve outgrown your home but it turns out you might not need to. After a long trend in bigger homes, new houses are being built smaller and smaller. We’re going to talk to expert author, Gale Steves, about her new book, which is chock full of tips on how you can right-size your home to make the most of the space you have.
LESLIE: And we’ve got a great prize up for grabs this hour, you guys. We’re giving away a $100 Lowe’s gift card and that’s courtesy of the folks at Pella Windows and Doors. Good prize.
TOM: So call us right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to work.
LESLIE: Jackie in Kansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JACKIE: Yes. We’re remodeling a bedroom in our basement and we had a door in there that – to the closet; it’s a walk-in closet that opened into the room. And I would have – I would like to replace it with one of those pocket doors that – pocket doors that pull across so it won’t take out any of the room in the …
TOM: Yeah, you’re talking about the kind that slides in so it becomes hidden? It slides into the wall? Or are you talking about another …?
TOM: Alright. Not the kind that’s more like an accordion.
JACKIE: No, I want the kind that goes into the wall.
JACKIE: And our contractor told us that that’s a bearing wall and we can’t do that.
TOM: Alright. Well, look, even if it’s a bearing wall, you can frame for it but here’s what you have to do. If your door is 2 feet wide – the finished width is, say, 24 inches – the size of the opening that you need for this is double that.
LESLIE: It has to be like double it, right?
TOM: It’s even more than that; it’s more like 50, 52 inches. So you frame an opening for, say, a 52-inch-wide opening. You put the pocket door in and the hardware for it and you leave the exposed part and then it slides into the wall and that part gets covered with drywall. That’s why the header has to be twice as big.
It’s not – in a normal door, if it’s a two-foot door, it’s going to be a 26, 28-inch header. But with a pocket door, it has to be twice as big. So that may be why he’s trying to talk you out of it. I would further clarify that with him because you can put a header. I mean if you can have a two-foot door, you can have a four-foot door; it’s just a slightly different header size.
LESLIE: Yeah, but there’s – a pocket door goes in the wall. There’s something that they call – I think it’s like a barn-style door where you put this mechanism on the exterior of the wall, so you would see it in the room. And it can be kind of, you know, modern-looking or it could be kind of like funky and country looking and the door hangs on this track and will slide over the wall.
TOM: It slides over the wall. Right.
LESLIE: And you can get like a fantastic-looking door and a really great-looking track where it could be, you know, rustic and country and then a great, salvaged-wood-type door. So if it’s a look thing that you like, it can be functional and then you don’t have to worry about the load-bearing wall at all.
JACKIE: Oh, that sounds good. I can match it with track lighting.
LESLIE: Yeah, totally.
JACKIE: Yeah, that’s – I like that. In fact, I think I even like that better than the pocket door.
TOM: Alright. So there we go, giving you a new idea. Jackie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’re going to talk to Bill in Maryland now who’s in the market for a new home. How can we help you?
BILL: I’m thinking about buying a modular home and I was just trying to weigh the differences between a modular and a stick-built home.
BILL: And that would be in three different categories: one would be cost, the next would be structural integrity and then the third being resale. And I was just wondering if you guys could help me out on that.
TOM: Well, I think, first of all, that modular homes can be as well-built if not better built than conventional stick-built homes. The reason for that, Bill, is because they’re constructed in a factory where …
LESLIE: In a controlled environment.
TOM: Yeah, the quality is totally controlled. You know, they’re going to manufacture the wall exactly to what it needs to be without having to worry about weather and material fluctuations and things of this nature. You know, those modular companies also have very good buying-power because they’re just buying a lot of lumber all at the same time; not just one house at a time but tens and hundreds of homes at a time. So I think the quality is really quite good.
LESLIE: And as far as resale value, I think – you know, modern homebuyers are really open to a good-quality home, good construction, energy efficiency. And if the home offers all of that, I don’t think it matters to them if it’s modular or stick-built. As long as it meets the criteria for energy efficiency, carbon output, are we being environmentally conscious, I think it really does make a good effort if the home is just well put-together regardless of how it’s built.
TOM: And Bill, I can tell you, after being a home inspector for 20 years, that very many times I would inspect homes and I’d be the first one to tell the prospective homebuyer that it was a modular home. They’d have no idea because it’s just not that obvious.
BILL: OK, well, great. That helps a lot. I appreciate it.
TOM: Alright, Bill. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: I just like the idea of knowing that my subfloor wasn’t like sitting out in a rainstorm for months.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, you can be part of The Money Pit. Pick up the phone and give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, as the old saying goes, "A stitch in time saves nine." Well, that can apply to a home repair, too, except it can save you thousands. Up next, we’re going to have three easy fixes that just can’t wait.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. And you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $100 gift card to Lowe’s.
TOM: Well, alright.
LESLIE: That’s a great prize. And it’s courtesy of our friends over at Pella Windows and Doors. And Lowe’s is making it easy to jumpstart your next home improvement project with 31 ways to save during the 31 days in October. And you can spend your money wisely with energy-saving products like the 350 Series vinyl patio doors.
TOM: And speaking of doors, you know, replacing old windows and doors with more energy-efficient ones from Pella – as sold at Lowe’s – can help you save energy year-round. And it can also help you save at tax time, too.
One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win that $100 gift card. And if you don’t win today, tune in again next week; we’re going to give away a $100 gift card every week in October.
LESLIE: That’s a great prize. Hooray, Money Pit.
Alright, folks. Well, it might be very tempting to put off home repairs until the economy starts to get a little bit better. But some fixes – if you leave them undone, it can actually lead to thousands of dollars in repair bills later so – and it can actually even make your home unhealthy. So if you find something’s wrong, you should really fix it.
Now, here are a few repairs that you really cannot ignore. First up, mold. Even homes in dry climates are susceptible to mold because hot outdoor temps force even just a little water inside, where it’s going to condense on those cooler interior surfaces and then you could get mold growth.
TOM: That’s right. And there are some warning signs: generally, musty smells; damp, humid air; or that sort of stuffy or runny-nose feeling doesn’t seem to go away. Now they do sell mold test kits at home centers but beware: a recent Consumer Reports review found that most of them are unreliable. If you want more tips on how to correctly identify mold, take a look at our mold section for specific steps to take, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, another area that you cannot ignore is your foundation. Now, some of those cracks, they’re harmless, but others can mean serious trouble. So what you want to do is check those cracks with a pencil. Anything where the pencil point goes in up to the yellow part really needs another look.
Also, you want to double-check the cracks that are wider than 3/16 of an inch. Now, a structural engineer, they can let you know if those cracks pose any safety issues. And if they’re just cosmetics, those cracks can simply be filled with epoxy and it’s done.
TOM: Now the last one is super-easy and one we recommend very often. You want to make sure that your gutters and your downspouts are in good working order. You need to maintain the drainage around your house, folks. You’d be surprised at how much water can end up where you don’t want it, because of a badly-positioned downspout or a damaged gutter or a clogged window well or some sort of a drain around your house. You really need to pay attention to that because if you take care of those small projects right now, you can avoid serious, major issues later on with your house.
For more tips, head on over to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Sonny in Florida who’s dealing with some uninvited visitors to the home. What can we do for you?
SONNY: Aw, man I’ve got the sugar ants, pharaoh ants and there’s a few other names I want to call them. I mean it’s just – and I take that stuff that you buy at the store and you – the sugar stuff; whatever’s in it …
SONNY: I mean they chew on it for a couple of days and they disappear and they show up somewhere else. And I mean I’ve done it like three or four times.
TOM: This may be the time to stop being your own do-it-yourself pest control pro and hire a real one. You know, there are products out today for ants, Sonny, that are undetectable and what’s cool about these is that the ants – once these products are applied by a pro, the ants can march through them and not know that they’re exposing themselves to these chemicals. Then they take them back to the nest and it wipes out the whole colony. It’s a far more effective way than the baits, which requires each ant to actually eat it to be eradicated.
And there’s a lot more of them than there are of us, so you need to kind of get smart with it and having a pro come in and put down one of the undetectable pesticides is probably the best way to do this.
SONNY: Alrighty. I appreciate it.
TOM: Sonny, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we're going to talk to Kathy in South Carolina who's dealing with a central air conditioning problem. What can we do for you?
KATHY: Well, it seems that I have too much of a suction on the filter and the filter's being sucked in; not all the way in but it just doesn't look right to me. So I thought I'd call you folks; you always have good solutions.
TOM: OK, Kathy. What kind of an air conditioner are we talking about here? It's central air?
KATHY: Central air. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Alright, and what kind of filter do you have?
KATHY: What kind of filter?
TOM: It's a fiberglass filter?
KATHY: Fiberglass, yes.
TOM: And where are you installing the filter? Is it in the blower compartment for your furnace or is it in a register – you know, somewhere else in the house?
KATHY: Yes, you're right. It's in a register in the living room. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Well, you know, there is a tremendous amount of intake onto that register and the filter that you're using, is it held inside of sort of like a cardboard frame?
KATHY: Yes, it is. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Well, if it's a, you know, good-quality filter, it needs to be supported on all four sides and that may be – you know, it may be part of the mounting that's causing this to sort of buckle in. However, what I'll tell you about these filters is as good as that filter is, it's probably not doing a very good job cleaning your air.
The best kind of air cleaning system would be an electronic air cleaner, which would be mounted not at the register but at the furnace itself. And these electronic air cleaners can take out right down to virus-size particles in the air. You'll be doing a lot less house cleaning, it'll be a lot less dust and it's a lot healthier.
So fiberglass filters are OK; they're the sort of the cheap way out. But if you really want to have a filter that's going to do a really good job scrubbing your air, you need an electronic air cleaner. Aprilaire makes really, really good ones. You can check them out at Aprilaire.com.
LESLIE: And the filters in that device, you know, are meant to be changed once a year; not like the other one, which is every month practically.
TOM: Once a month. That's right.
KATHY: Mm-hmm. Well, thank you very much. You do such a wonderful service. I do appreciate it. I have a chemical sensitivity so it's very important that I have clean air and ...
TOM: Oh, you're going to enjoy that product.
LESLIE: Oh, this will help you so much.
TOM: Yeah, check it out.
KATHY: Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Kathy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Don in Virginia is dealing with a leak. Tell us about it.
DON: Yes, I’ve got a stone front. My house is stone stucco. It’s about three-and-a-half years old and it’s been – I didn’t notice at first because it’s in a guest room but apparently I’ve had water coming in almost the entire time. It’s coming in above the window.
DON: It’s not coming in through the window.
DON: I’ve eliminated the roof; I’ve eliminated – there’s no water in the attic. There is a little gable on that section. I’ve gone up – I’ve seen some cracks and some holes in the grout in the stone there and the trim around that window is stucco.
TOM: Right. OK.
DON: But I have checked that caulking and I mean I’ve not seen anything wrong with it. I’ve caulked it just to be safe.
TOM: Right. Have you been able to reproduce the leak? Have you ever tried to take a hose and simply saturate the area right above the window and reproduce it?
DON: Yes, and it …
TOM: And were you successful?
DON: Yes, and …
TOM: Well then, unfortunately, you’ve got a flashing problem.
DON: That’s what I’m afraid of.
TOM: Yeah, I think you’ve proved that by all this work that you’ve done. When you have a situation like this and you’ve filled all the cracks, you’ve caulked all the gaps and it’s still leaking – in fact, you can reproduce the problem by saturating that area with a hose – you’ve got a flashing problem. And the problem is not on the surface; it’s somewhere down deep because that stone’s going to get very wet and when it gets through it’s going to – that water is going to find its way in.
Now, fortunately, probably between now and the time this home was built, flashing has gotten a lot better and a lot smarter. You might want to take a look at some of the flexible flashing products that are made by Grace. They are the makers of Ice & Water Shield and they have a number of different types of flexible flashing products for windows and doors that are designed to sort of stretch around odd shapes and create a very, very water-tight membrane. But unfortunately, you’re going to have to take some of this stucco and some of this stone apart to be able to do this repair.
DON: That’s what I was afraid of. OK.
TOM: Yeah, I think that’s what we’re up to now. If you’ve taken it this far, I don’t see any other simple solution.
DON: Well, you’ve confirmed my suspicions.
DON: I do appreciate it very much.
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Caroline in Pennsylvania is looking to build a deck. What can we do for you today?
CAROLINE: Yeah, hi. We have an old house. It’s an old, brick house and we want to put a deck on the back of it and we’re shopping around for decking materials and there are these composites, there’s wood. You know, we’d like to make it as carefree and maintenance-free as possible since we have so much other work to do on this 100-year-old home.
And after looking at some of the material, we are just at a loss of what – where to start and what kind of material to build with. And we’re not particular about color and so, that’s what – well, that’s what we need help with; we need a little bit of help with what to make our deck out of.
TOM: Well, you’re stuck in analysis-paralysis. You’ve got too many decisions here, so let’s make it easier for you. First of all, composite is definitely the way to go today.
LESLIE: Especially for low maintenance.
TOM: Composites would be used on the deck surface and the railing. The structure would still be built out of pressure-treated lumber. Now Leslie, you just completed a composite deck with Fiberon; that’s great stuff.
LESLIE: We did. We used Fiberon decking materials for the top. We just resurfaced our existing deck. You know, we made sure that everything underneath that was made out of pressure-treated lumber was still in good shape and then just put the new Fiberon on top. It looks gorgeous. It comes in two sort of price points. They both look fantastic. You can really see that there is beautiful graining, so it looks like real wood. You will never have to paint it. You will never have to sand it or stain it.
If you go with wood, every two years you’re going to be putting something on it – refinishing, sanding something down. I mean there is just a lot of maintenance with a wood deck and that’s OK, because some people really like that look and want that and are committed to the upkeep. But if you’re like me and you feel a little lazy and you just want to enjoy the deck and you don’t really want to do a lot of work, a composite is fantastic. They just need a little bit of cleaning every season, just to get the yuck off that’s been on it for the winter. Fiberon is a great one; check them out.
TOM: I’ve never seen a product that looks more like natural wood.
LESLIE: It’s gorgeous.
TOM: Their website is FiberonDecking.com – F-i-b-e-r-o-n Decking.com.
LESLIE: We went with the Tropics line in the mahogany. It’s beautiful.
CAROLINE: Got it.
CAROLINE: Oh, mahogany sounds great because we have – our house is an old, red, clay, brick house and that sounds like that’ll match it pretty nicely. Thank you so much. I had one other question and it slipped my mind.
Oh, the one thing that I was concerned about – the wear on the stuff. Is it kind of like a – you know like how fiberglass kind of chips away and the fiber starts coming up like on an old boat or whatever?
TOM: This is tough stuff. You should have no concerns about the wear and tear. It’s really very, very durable. It’s the perfect choice for your house.
CAROLINE: Thank you so much. You have a great day.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: And you know what? We stupidly resurfaced the deck and then went and had the house painted.
LESLIE: And of course, the painter was not as tidy as we had hoped they might be and there were footprints and paint all over the place. And with a little bit of elbow grease, my husband and I were able to, you know, just scrub with some soapy water and use our fingernails, a little bit of steel wool and got all that paint off and there is no damage to the deck.
TOM: That’s fantastic.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, the bad economy has made downsizing a dirty word but not if we’re talking about your house. Now, smaller and smarter homes – they are certainly gaining in popularity. So up next, we’re going to find out how to make the most of less space, so stick around.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete. Well, for a long time bigger was better, especially when it came to houses. You know, Americans got used to sprawling homes that pretty much needed their own zip code. But changes in our economy have forced some people to downsize and have made other people realize that all that excess really isn’t a very good thing or even necessary.
TOM: Well, absolutely, especially when you think about the cost of heating and cooling those giant homes.
TOM: Well, our next guest prefers a term called "right-sizing," which means to use the space you have in the best way possible. Here to tell us how to do just that is Gale Steves. Gale is the former editor-in-chief of Home magazine and the author of Right-Sizing Your Home.
GALE: Hi there. How are you?
TOM: We are excellent and I understand that you live in New York City and you also have a house in the country. And I guess living in New York City, you really do need to get used to surviving in small spaces. Is that where the idea was born?
GALE: Well, I guess I’ve been right-sizing most of my adult life. I was telling someone before that my bathroom – my master bathroom – is slightly larger than a twin-size mattress, so that’s a really easy visual for most of us to pick up. And I’ve been coping with small spaces.
But I found, when I was working on this book – and I interviewed about 300 families in all walks of life – that the one thing everyone said they needed was more space. And even if they lived in a McMansion, they needed more space.
So I really felt maybe it was time for us to stop, take a look at our home and see what we have. Are there places that you’re not using? Are there rooms that are overused? And as life changes, can your house change along with your life?
LESLIE: Now, with the economy changing, why do you think it’s so important to think about right-sizing? Is it because people can’t afford to move and we just sort of have to figure out how to make do with what we’ve got?
GALE: Oh, that’s a good question, Leslie. I think most of us are not in a position to move and we all need to find more space. So, right-sizing is about rethinking your home.
I’ll give you a good example. Some of us have spouses or ourselves who are suddenly working from home when we hadn’t planned on it. So where are you going to find that room to work at home and you need a home office quickly? That’s a – it’s that. And I believe, also, that many people can’t sell their homes, so they know they’re going to be there for a while. So why not improve if you can’t move? That’s kind of my mantra. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: We’re talking to Gale Steves. She is the author of a new book called Right-Sizing Your Home.
So Gale, this sounds just like a big, fat organizational project. What’s different about right-sizing as opposed to just cleaning out the clutter?
GALE: Well, it’s two things. First of all, you can really know what your space is – and I’m talking about managing your space if you have a naked room. But most of us – and I’m not talking, you know – I’m talking about taking everything out of it and most of us can’t do that. But if you do take out the clutter, you’re going to be able to see the space better.
I encourage people to start by making a floor plan; actually seeing what the room is. And then it’s easy to imagine what it’s like without furniture because you’ve got a little basis to start. But getting rid of that clutter is a good idea.
LESLIE: Now how do you sort through all the clutter? I mean working on my new show, $100Makeover, we’ve seen a lot of people with a ton of clutter who just don’t want to get rid of things. So how do you sort of start to pare down things and realize what the essentials are?
GALE: Well, here’s how you start – and most of us have no idea how clutter accumulates. I mean does it come in the mail with you?
LESLIE: It’s the Clutter Fairy.
GALE: Does it walk through the door from the garage?
TOM: The Clutter Fairy, huh?
GALE: I mean all of a sudden, you turn around and you’ve got four egg-beaters and you have no idea how they got there. And that’s for, you know, just name it; something just multiplied during the night.
What you do is you don’t start with a whole room; you start with one drawer or one cabinet or part of a closet. And try to sort things so that you have things that you really use; things that, "Hmm, maybe"; and stuff that, you know, if you lose 25 pounds, you’re going to wear. That should get out of your closet (Leslie chuckles) because you’re probably not going to use that for quite some time.
But what I’m saying to people is, "You may not be able to do this yourself." So I invoke the idea of using a GF; a good friend. It might take a glass of wine or a cup of coffee but you can’t do it yourself. Most of us do not have the courage to go through our closets or even our kitchen, which is usually a good place to start with decluttering.
TOM: So you want to pick a clutter-buddy?
GALE: A clutter-buddy is good. And if you don’t have one or someone you really trust, you may have to call upon a professional organizer. And there’re all kinds and they can help you with small projects through big. But starting to get rid of the stuff really frees you up and it’ll be amazing how much space you find as a result.
TOM: Gale Steves, the editor of Right-Sizing Your Home. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice.
If you want more information on Gale and her book, you can head on over to her website at Right-Sizing.com. That’s Right-Sizing.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks again so much, Gale.
GALE: Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, regardless of the size of your house – the right size, too big or too small – a home inspection is something that can help you sell your house much more quickly and keep a lot of dollars in your pocket, so stick around.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac Automatic Standby Generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $100 gift card for Lowe’s, courtesy of our pals at Pella Windows and Doors. Lowe’s is making it easy to jumpstart your next home improvement project with 31 ways to save during 31 days of October. You can spend your money wisely with energy-saving products like the 350 Series vinyl patio doors.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, replacing your old windows and doors with more energy-efficient options from Pella – and those are sold at Lowe’s – can help you save energy year-round and it can actually help you save at tax time, too. So one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and if you don’t win today, tune in again next week because we are giving away a $100 gift card to Lowe’s every week in October.
TOM: Well, it’s certainly been a challenging time if you have a home on the market. But one of the smartest things that you can do to speed things up is to get your home ready for sale by hiring your own home inspector and here’s why: doing so will help avoid surprises, like when the buyer’s inspector announces that your electrical panel is shot and needs to be replaced.
I’ve got to tell you, that happened time and time again in the years I spent as a home inspector. It would be not that unusual for me to, you know, show up at eight in the morning, do an inspection and by eleven, they were wheeling in the new furnace because I found that the existing one had holes in it and was terribly unsafe.
LESLIE: Or the deal is gone.
TOM: So, getting a home inspection done early and upfront puts you on equal footing with the buyer’s home inspector. You’re far less likely to have surprises like that that can impact, you know, the price you’ve already negotiated down to, so to speak. So it’s a very good idea to do that.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what another advantage is to having a home inspection is that you’re going to have time on your side.
LESLIE: This way, you can make any repairs that are needed, on your own schedule, or you can choose to disclose them up-front to the buyer and then negotiate the price around that. Plus, if you choose to do the job, when the buyer knows about it, they’re going to be over your shoulder being like, "Don’t use that. Use this. I want that material. Why are you using that one?" This way, you can do it the way you want to do it, without that buyer second-guessing everything you’re working on.
TOM: Absolutely. Now, if you want to find a qualified home inspector in your area, you can use the American Society of Home Inspectors website at ASHI.org. And I recommend ASHI because they test and they certify their members and they definitely are the cream of the crop of home inspectors out there.
And every time I recommend them, I get hate mail from all the other associations , to which I say, "Make your standards as tough as ASHI and then we’ll be happy to recommend you, too."
LESLIE: David in Tyler, Texas needs some help with the exterior of his money pit. What’s going on?
DAVID: Just had a question. I have this house that’s kind of in the process of being constructed and, essentially, the 2x4 walls go on the outer edge of the slab and then you nail the OSB onto the outside of the 2x4 walls so that porous, rough edge of that OSB down along the line of the soil there and it’s got hardy plank over the top of it but, essentially, it’s exposed to the environment. And I was wondering if you all had some sort of a product that I could use to get up underneath the edge of that hardy board and paint the edging of that OSB that would preserve it for a long period of time.
Somebody told me something about, you know, use an oil-based paint or whatever and that’ll last about 10 years and I said, "Why, I bet those people on The Money Pit show know about some kind of a NASA, space-age polymer product that’ll last forever." I’m sure that the edge of that OSB would soak up whatever like a sponge.
TOM: Well, let me put on my rocket-scientist hat and see what we can do to help you out here. First of all, the OSB – for those that are unaware of what we’re talking about here – I hate when people start talking in abbreviations and nobody else is …
LESLIE: In letters.
TOM: In letters, yeah. I grew up with two parents that worked in the government and all of our dinnertime conversations were like this. OSB stands for oriented strand board and it’s that waferboard-kind-of-like material that’s used for exterior sheathing.
Now, in this particular situation, what is the distance between the siding and the grading?
DAVID: Well, basically, three-and-a-half inches.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a problem right there because you really need to have at least six inches of space between the siding and the soil. If you have it any closer than that, you’re going to get a lot of water that’s going to splash up in there and certainly, if you could squeeze, you know, a right-angle paintbrush in there – if there was such a thing (Leslie chuckles) – and seal the end of that, I don’t think it would totally solve the problem because it’s just going to be exposed to a lot of water.
What I would suggest that you do in this situation, David, is try to look for some ways to reduce the angle of that soil. Is there a way to get it down lower? Can you do some regrading and get yourself a little more room there? If that’s the case, I wouldn’t put anything on it; I think it’s fine the way it is. I just want to try to make sure we have enough air space in there for it to keep dry.
LESLIE: Going down to the basement with Stacy in New Jersey. How can we help?
STACY: I’m wondering if there’s an alternative to running a dehumidifier all the time. Is there something that we can have installed that will vent to the outside? It’s a finished basement. It just smells of mildew all the time.
TOM: Sure. How is your house heated and cooled, Stacy? Do you have a forced air system?
STACY: Yes, we have central air and heat.
TOM: And what about the basement? Is that covered by the central air system?
STACY: Yes. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Alright, well, this is good then. What you can do is you can install what’s called a whole-house or a whole-home dehumidifier. It actually gets installed into the HVAC system and it runs 24/7 to maintain the proper humidity; not only in the basement but throughout the entire house. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: Throughout the whole house. And it even, Stacy, will kick on more often within the basement zone where you end up with the most moisture and I think in tests it removed 90 pints of water a day, one of the products; one of the whole-home dehumidifiers from a company called Aprilaire.
TOM: Yeah, Aprilaire.com. Now, the other thing that you can do, Stacy, is to take some steps to reduce that humidity by looking outside your house and making sure your gutters are clean and free-flowing and that the grading around the house slopes away from the walls. Because, typically, basements get real humid before they have poor drainage conditions around the outside that allows the water to sort of saturate the foundation and then that water evaporates into the basement.
So it’s really a two-step process: outside you can improve the grading and drainage so you try to keep it as dry as possible; and then inside, add a whole-home dehumidifier and you’ll find that the home gets real dry and real comfortable very quickly.
STACY: Oh, perfect. It sounds good. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Stacy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Up next, drafty houses are bad things but drafty attic – well, that’s actually a good thing. We’re going to tell you why, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, why not help us redecorate our Facebook page by hanging your mug on our page; it’ll look better already. Just fan The Money Pit by visiting Facebook.com/moneypit.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can e-mail us your home improvement question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon on MoneyPit.com. Now, we’ve got one here from Holly who writes: "I’m looking to replace my windows. One thing I keep hearing about is foam-filled frames. Does it make a big difference?"
TOM: Here’s a problem with choosing replacement windows: every manufacturer out there has a list of features and benefits. And you go and you talk to these guys – especially the ones that are coming into your house, that are doing the replacement windows – and they say, "Well, we have foam-filled frames." Oh, really? "Well, we have welded windows." "Oh, we have virgin vinyl." "We have insulated glass." "We have dual-panes." "We have triple-panes."
You know, there are so many different components of a window, you cannot make an assessment as to whether or not the window is going to be the right choice for you by just looking at one particular part or one sort of line item. What you can do is look for the NFRC rating, which is the National Fenestration Rating Council. This is the sticker that’s on the glass.
Now, this measures the entire window unit. It measures the air infiltration; how well it stands up to wind. It measures its insulating ability, it measures its ability to reflect heat back outside and keep the heat in your house inside in the winter and it has some numbers on it.
If you find a window that’s 30/30 – in other words, it says .30/.30 – that’s a pretty good window. And that’s a window that’s energy-efficient enough to qualify for tax credits that are available and one that’s going to do a good job for you for a long time. So don’t get hung up on the individual features and benefits. Look at the whole window as a package because it really – it is a complete system.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that really will tell you how it’s going to work for you, so pay attention to those labels.
Alright. Ben writes: "What do you think of a steel roof that looks like a wood shingle? I’m just trying to get some sort of review before I make a choice for a new roof."
TOM: I think it’s a steel roof that has an identity crisis. Nothing wrong with that. There are a lot of patterned, steel roofs out there. You know what’s cool about metal roofs today is they have low-e paint, so even the roof is energy-efficient and it reflects a lot of that hot summer sun right back at the sun so it stays out of your house and makes your house less expensive to cool. So I think metal roofs are great.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And they certainly do last a very, very, very long time and are super-low maintenance, so it’s a great choice. If it’s in your budget, we say go for it.
TOM: Well, before you button up the house for colder weather ahead, you want to make sure you have a nice, drafty attic. And yes, I did say a drafty attic. Leslie tells you why, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. When it comes to sealing up your home and reducing drafts, that is excellent; but a sealed-up attic is bad. Now, your attic is the one place in your home that must be drafty, to keep the rest of your home warm during the winter season.
Now, drafty attics – they flush the moisture out of the insulation, which helps your heating work better. And even a slightly damp insulation is going to lose as much as one-third of its ability to insulate, so you’ve got to think about that. If it’s losing its ability to insulate, you’re going to spend more money trying to heat that house.
And well-ventilated attics reduce moisture, which make your insulation even more effective, makes your house warmer, keeps your energy dollars in your pocket. So before it gets too cold, get up in that attic and get to work.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, a new wood floor or laminate floor can really perk up a tired, old room. We’re going to have a guest stopping by that will really perk up any project in your house. It’s Tom Silva from This Old House. He’s going to teach us how floating floors are making that project so much easier.
I'm Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I'm Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(Copyright 2010 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.)