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: Pick up the phone, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We would love to talk to you about your home improvement plans, your home improvement projects. What do you have planned for the year ahead? Do you have some New Year’s resolutions that you’d like to set realistically to get done? We can help you with all of that at 888-666-3974.
Coming up, heat from a wood-burning stove can make winter easier to bear, so you want to make sure that your wood stove is burning the whole season long. We’ve got tips on how you can buy the best, cheapest and safest firewood, coming up.
LESLIE: And if you think you’ve had a hectic holiday season, what about your dog? We’re going to tell you how to help your pets handle the holiday stress, with tips on keeping them comfortable and safe.
TOM: And does the idea of a smart home send your head spinning? Well, get a taste of the future with small, high-tech changes that can add up to big convenience in savings. We’re going to have some tips on just that. Give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: John in Michigan is on the line and is having an HVAC issue. What’s going on at your money pit?
JOHN: Well, I’ve got a house I just bought recently and it’s on a – it’s a ranch on – with crawlspace. No basement.
JOHN: And my heating ducts are in the ceiling and the return is on the outside walls. But it’s not ducked (ph) back to the furnace and the crawlspace is just all open down there; there’s no ducking (ph).
TOM: Does the return duct run, also, through the attic, John?
JOHN: Yes. So the heat’s in the attic.
TOM: Alright. So what’s your question?
JOHN: Should it be ducked (ph) back to the furnace for the return?
TOM: What you’re telling me is that the duct system goes through the attic, the furnace is located in the garage. And when you pull the vent – the filter – off of the furnace, there seems to be no return connected to it whatsoever? Is that correct?
JOHN: That is correct.
TOM: That’s a problem, OK? Because the way an HVAC system works is it doesn’t heat the air up all at once; it recycles the air. And it gets warmer every time it goes through or in the summer, it gets cooler every time it goes through. So, you definitely have an incomplete HVAC system and you need to have a real HVAC professional come in and evaluate it and figure out the best way to get you a return system in that house.
JOHN: OK. That’s what I wanted to know.
TOM: Alright, John. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jane Ellen in Pennsylvania is looking at getting some new windows. How can we help you make that decision?
JANE ELLEN: Yes. Well, we are looking at getting – replacing our single-pane windows. And our question is: do you think it would be more cost-effective to spend the extra money on triple-pane windows or would double-pane windows be OK? Other than the windows, the house is fairly well-insulated; it’s not real drafty. We haven’t priced our options yet, so we just were looking for an opinion.
TOM: I think that double-pane windows will be fine. The thing is that when you shop for windows, you have all of these different features and benefits that you have to compare and contrast and sometimes it gets very confusing when you do that. What I would look for is a window that’s ENERGY STAR-rated and one that has double-pane glass. As long as the glass in insulated and has a low-E coating so it reflects the heat back, that’ll be fine.
It’s been my experience that unless you live in the most severe climates, triple-pane glass doesn’t really make up the additional cost in terms of return on investment.
JANE ELLEN: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
TOM: What kind of windows do you have now? Are they very drafty?
JANE ELLEN: Well, they’re single-pane windows. They’re relatively decent windows for single-pane but they’re old. They’re starting to – you can see the gas is starting to escape from them and they are a little drafty.
Our house has a field behind it; our backyard kind of opens up into a field. So, there’s a significant amount of wind that comes across the field and flows into the back of the house. And off the main back area, we have a three-season room, which helps to block some of the wind from the interior downstairs. But the upstairs bedrooms, you feel the wind a little bit more significantly. We notice the single-pane windows a little bit more there; it seems more drafty right there.
TOM: Well, I think these windows are going to make a big difference for you. Now, if you need to save some money and maybe not do them all at once, that’s fine, too. What I would do is the north and east sections of the house first – sides of the house first – and then the south and the west second. OK?
JANE ELLEN: OK. Sounds great.
LESLIE: I know given the winter that we’ve all had in the Northeast and pretty much all over the United States, you might think that a triple-pane glass is going to do the trick, especially when we’ve had, what, like an average of five degrees, Tom?
LESLIE: I’ve got to tell you, the days that we’ve had 30- and 40-degree temperatures, I’ve put on a light jacket. I’ve seen families out with no jackets. People are out of their minds when we get 40-degree days.
TOM: Yep. I know. We’re happy for it, right?
LESLIE: It’s like summer.
TOM: Alright. Well, Jane Ellen, I hope that helps you out. Thanks again 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. Now you can be part of our program 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just give us a call. We’re right here to help you with your home repair or your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, do you think you don’t have a smart-home budget? Well, there are very simple upgrades you can add for safety and convenience that don’t add up to a lot of cost. We’ll have the details, after this.
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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, is your pet ready for the year’s coldest temps? Well, don’t let that fur coat fool you. It doesn’t guarantee that your dog and cat are safe and warm. Get cold-weather tips that will get their tails wagging on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to John in Iowa who’s dealing with a leaky shower. Tell us what’s going on.
JOHN: Well, I’ve got a shower on my main floor, where it basically leaks onto the floor in the basement. And when I removed the 2-inch trap – this is a home that was built in ‘41 but it’s been remodeled recently, probably within the last 10 years or at least the shower has – I noticed there wasn’t a whole lot of room between the tile and the flooring or the main wood behind it, as well as they sealed up the drain. It was basically just a 2-inch PVC sealed with some sort of cement and then a drain popped on top of it.
And I’m curious – I mean how can I remedy this issue? Obviously, it needs a proper drain. But I couldn’t find anything to fit the hole that they had.
TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, it’s still leaking and you’re in the middle of this project? Is that correct, John?
JOHN: Well, I just bought this home and I basically said, “OK. We’re not using this shower. We have an upstairs shower that we can use during the remediation process.”
TOM: Is this a tile shower?
TOM: So, with a 1940 tile shower, the first thing I would expect to leak is the lead pan. And the way those showers are built is there’s a lead pan put in against the drain, then the tile is put on top of the lead. And so, over the years, those pans would crack. And the way you test a lead pan is simply by blocking the shower drain and then filling up the bottom of the shower with as much water as you can get in there – usually 4 or 5 inches of water – and then wait and see what happens.
So if it’s possible for you to test the pan, I would do that before I start assuming that the leak was at the drain. Because it might very well be that the drain is not leaking; the pan is leaking. And if that’s the case, then you have to tear out the shower base and rebuild it.
JOHN: Ah, I see. Alright.
TOM: It’s the lead pan. Because a pan that’s 60, 70 years old, they just don’t last that long.
TOM: OK? So seal it off, test it off. You know what works well? One of those – you know those rubber jar openers that are about 6 inches in diameter?
TOM: Put that across the drain, fill it up with water and then watch for a leak.
JOHN: Alright. I’ll try that.
TOM: OK, John. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, Leslie, in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, I used to check those pans for leaks all the time that way and we got – you get smart after the first time this happens to you. You never let that water sit very long. You fill it up, you go downstairs immediately and see if it’s leaking.
LESLIE: It’s that fast when you’ve got a crack in the pan?
TOM: Sometimes, yes. Because if it’s going to leak – if it’s a bad crack, you – it may never have been discovered or it might have been so slow. But by filling the whole pan up with water, you prove it very quickly that it’s leaking. So that’s why we always check very quickly to see if there’s a leak. And then if not, fill it up, let it sit there for a half-hour and go back and check again.
But it’s a very, very common area for a leak and unfortunately a very expensive one because – think about it: you’ve got to tear out all that tile and you’ve got to rebuild that pan. And today, of course, we don’t use lead; we usually use fiberglass. But it’s a pretty big renovation. Probably a couple thousand bucks worth of work.
LESLIE: Marta in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MARTA: I have a set of concrete steps that are adjoined to my concrete driveway. And they are separating. The step is separating from the driveway.
MARTA: And I have a big crack and it’s – and the concrete is kind of starting to eat away. But I also have sand coming out and I want to know what I can do to, well – because I’ve got to fix it. I don’t know if I can just – do I use concrete in there? Do I use a sealer in there? I don’t know. But I’ve got to do something and I don’t want the crack getting bigger, especially with winter coming.
TOM: Right. And you’re correct because if you do let it get bigger, what’s going to happen is water will get in there and it’ll freeze and expand. So you do want to seal that. I would take a look at QUIKRETE.com – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com. They’ve got step-by-step videos there that will take you through this process.
But essentially, you’re going to use one of a number of different types of crack-repair or concrete-repair products that they sell premixed, ready to rock and roll. And you’re just going to apply it. Some come in caulking tubes, for example; some come in squeeze bottles. You apply it to those cracks – let it flow, let it settle, let it dry – and that will seal the crack and stop it from any further deterioration.
MARTA: Because it’s up along the house, too. And I put some concrete in there but …
TOM: Well, the problem is that you can’t use regular concrete. Because if you put concrete in by itself, what happens is it will freeze and break and crack and fall out rather quickly. That’s why you need to use the products that are designed for repair because they both adhere to the old concrete and then they stop the water from flowing in.
TOM: And that’s going to do the job. OK, Marta?
MARTA: Sounds good. It was QUIKRETE.com?
TOM: QUIKRETE.com. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
So it turns out Americans are adopting smart-home technology at higher rates than the rest of the world, including Europe. Just in the last few years, home automation has made major strides and there’s virtually nothing now that can’t be remotely controlled.
LESLIE: Now, if you’re one of those homeowners who’s a little resistant to major changes, there are small, quick and relatively inexpensive ways that you can make your home into a smart home.
For example, new light bulbs can help you make your first move towards a smart home.
TOM: Now, not only can you turn the bulbs on and off from your phone or remote but many of these new bulbs, you can actually tune them to different colors: either whites, different hues of whites or you can change their colors completely, like perhaps when it’s party time.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And there are a couple of ways to get started upgrading your lights. You can either replace one at a time with connected bulbs or you can invest in a smart switch. Now, that’s going to mean that instead of replacing each bulb, you’ve made the entire circuit smart. So with this new switch, you can control any and all bulbs on that circuit even if they’re just regular light bulbs.
TOM: And that’s today’s Home Automation Tip, presented by The Home Depot, the destination for smart-home solutions and technology, with a huge variety of brands and expansive platforms. Check out the Lutron Caseta Wireless In-Wall Dimmer. It gives you the ability to set the right light for any activity. Whether it’s reading, watching TV, entertaining or having a casual dinner, you can control the lights from anywhere in the room with a remote or from your smartphone. Available at The Home Depot or online at HomeDepot.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Anthony, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ANTHONY: We have a three-burner gas range: you know, one in the oven and then two on top. And we have an odor emitting from one of the pilots that seems to be a little bit higher than the other one. And it’s building up like an ashy, creosote, real fine, black mess. If you touch it, it goes everywhere. And it smells in the mornings when you wake up. Is it not vented properly?
TOM: Here’s what I think is happening: the burner is somewhat partially blocked and so the gas is not fully combusting. And when you get a gas flame that doesn’t fully combust, it has sort of a sickeningly sweet smell to it, which actually contains a pretty high level of carbon monoxide.
So what you should do is take those burners apart and clean them thoroughly and get them operating properly again. There’s something obstructing the burner and that’s why it’s not fully combusting. It also accounts for the fact that it’s building up an additional carbon deposit. If the gas is not fully combusting, this is what happens.
ANTHONY: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Charlene in Tennessee with a flooring question. What can we do for you?
CHARLENE: Well, we built our house in 2006 and we purchased, from the mill, solid-oak hardwood planks that we were going to put down for flooring. And it’s 6 inches wide, tongue-and-groove.
Underneath that, we put – my husband thinks it’s called AdvanTech. It was a 50-year warranty and the mill told us between that and the tongue-and-groove solid oak to put 6 mil of plastic.
TOM: Alright. So what’s the problem we’re trying to solve here?
CHARLENE: The problem that we’re solving is in a few areas, one which is mainly the bath and the other is the kitchen, there’s a squeaking noise. It’s like you can’t sneak in that area. It’ll make that noise.
TOM: So when you go on a diet, your husband can hear you when you try to sneak into the kitchen to get to the refrigerator, huh?
CHARLENE: Yeah, something like that.
TOM: Alright. So, look, this has little to do with what is underneath the floor and more to do with just sort of normal wear and tear and expansion and contraction. The reason those floors are – those boards are squeaking is because they’re moving. And so, what you need to do is to tighten them up.
Now, since it’s a finished floor, you can’t just go willy-nilly throwing nails and screws into it; you’ve got to be a little more strategic. So what you want to do is find the place where there’s a floor joist underneath. And you can do that with a stud finder.
And once you identify that spot, you drill small holes through the floor and you use what’s called a “trim screw,” which is only a little bit bigger than a finish nail. You screw through the finished floor, into the floor joist and that will pull that floor down and make it tighter and reduce the amount of movement that it’s capable of. And that’s what’s going to quiet down your squeak. A little harder to do when it’s a finished floor but that’s the way to do it.
CHARLENE: OK. It sounds like it might be an easy fix.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Scott in Michigan is on the line with a garage door that just loves to stay frozen shut. Tell us what’s going on.
SCOTT: We have a – half of our basement is our garage. So on three sides, there’s two sides of dirt, one side’s the house. And I bought this house, cars – parked two cars in there in the winter. Snow melts off the cars, ends up freezing the doors to the ground. So it ends up salty and then getting iced on and I’m having to shovel it back out.
TOM: What kind of a seal do you have on the bottom of the garage doors?
SCOTT: They are old-school wood doors, so they just have a rubber seal on the bottom. Nothing fancy. But there’s no center drain. It’s sloped for the water to drain out the front of the doors.
TOM: Have you thought about replacing those rubber gaskets?
SCOTT: Yeah. And we’re actually – that’s where we’re kind of – this thing where we need to replace the doors because they’re getting in worse shape every year. But we don’t want to put the money into the doors if we’re just going to put new seals on it. We’re just going to hold the water inside then.
TOM: Well, rubber gaskets are designed not to stick to ice, so that might solve part of the problem here. And if you’re thinking about new doors, just replacing the gaskets – if you want to buy yourself a year or so is not going to add to a big expense. You know, we’re talking about probably $20, $30 in gasket material here and you can do the job yourself.
SCOTT: But do you think that would just hold the water inside and then it would just ice-dam inside and freeze?
TOM: No. It’s not that much of a gasket. It’ll let the water run wherever the water wants to run. It’s just I don’t think that those will stick to it as well.
SCOTT: Well, how is the water get to the – how is it going to get outside?
TOM: If the water’s just sitting there, you’re going to – there’s going to be no way for you to drain it and have it run outside. One thing that you could do is you could add garage tiles to the floor. Garage tiles are a floor made specifically for garages that sit up about a ½-inch or so off of the floor or ¾-inch off of the floor. And those are good because the water will drain through the tiles and kind of sit below them until it evaporates away. There’s a lot of different styles and colors online and they can actually be quite attractive and look kind of cool, as well.
SCOTT: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Scott, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, has the hectic hubbub of the holiday season rubbed off on your dog? Well, we’re going to help you keep your furry friend safe and comfortable. We’ve got expert advice on exactly how to do that, when The Money Pit returns.
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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.
Well, holiday celebrations are lots of fun for us humans. But loud sounds, unfamiliar sights and a disruption in the routine can be very uncomfortable for your fur babies and cause them to behave poorly.
TOM: Here with some advice on how to keep dogs calm and comfortable through the new year is Bryan Bailey, an expert animal behaviorist.
BRYAN: Thank you for having me.
TOM: So when you think about it, the holidays are fun but they can also be stressful for us. It’s hectic, there are lots of people coming and going. So, I can only imagine how disruptive it might be for your dog. Why do dogs have such a hard time with unfamiliar sights and sounds?
BRYAN: Well, they’re creatures of habit and also, they’re territorial creatures. And things that we would perceive as being fun, like good cheer, can bring good fear to a dog. Loud noises, party makers, being very boisterous, a red – a man wearing a red suit yelling, “Ho, ho, ho,” can be translated by the dog as “no, no, no.”
It’s a very stressful time for dogs. A lot of – you may have family coming over but to you, they’re family. But if your dog hasn’t seen these people in about a year, then they’re not family; they are intruders. They can be aliens, as far as alien people to them. And therefore, they can be considered a threat to them. So we just really have to go through the holidays and really look at it from the perspective of our dogs and not our own perspective.
LESLIE: So, Bryan, what can you do to help your pets?
BRYAN: Well, a couple things that you can do. First of all, if you’re going to – if it’s going to be during the new year, there’s going to be some loud noises. Try to just either A) just put the dog in a tight kennel and cover it up. Make it dark. Make it a tight space. Dogs are descendants from wolves, who are den-dwelling animals. And the den is not an environmental part of their lives; it’s a safety part. Because underneath the ground, they’re safe. They can be kept safe from other predators and other danger.
A lot of dogs will become destructive during noises, such as the – New Year’s, because they’re trying to escape. They’re trying to either get back to you – “Where are you? I’m trying to find you. Safety in numbers,” or “I’m just trying to get away from the loud noises.” I even had a client’s dog one time tunnel right through the living-room wall, all the way into the garage.
TOM: Oh, wow.
BRYAN: Yeah. Very destructive. Right through all of – you know, studs are 16 inches on center. Plenty of room for the dog to get through.
LESLIE: And he found it. He was like his own stud finder.
BRYAN: Absolutely. Yeah. He definitely had panicked and realized that that’s where the humans left. “They went out the certain door that led to the garage and I’m going to go find them.”
So it can be definitely be terrifying. But placing them in a kennel and covering the kennel up to where it’s dark inside definitely helps. And if your dog is – tends to be unusually nervous during times like that, then see a veterinarian prior to the event and maybe place the dog on something like alprazolam. Just use a mild sedative. Be almost like the equivalent of you having maybe two or three glasses of wine.
TOM: We’re talking to Bryan Bailey. His new book is called Embracing the Wild in Your Dog. It’s available on Amazon right now.
So, Bryan, we have a Bluetick Coonhound that we love. But this time of year, there’s lots of food lying about around the counter. And actually, it’s one of his only bad habits. We have to be very protective of our food. What do you do with dogs that like to counter-surf like that?
BRYAN: Well, counter-surfing can be very dangerous. Not only just annoying but very dangerous. We, as humans, tend to place things up on our counter and forget the fact that our dogs can reach it. So this is a problem that I think needs to be addressed year-round and not just during the holidays.
The key to training your dog not to counter-surf is to make sure that the dog understands that it’s the counter and not you. For example, if you walk in your kitchen and yell, “No,” and you catch a dog but then other times you don’t catch the dog, then the dog will soon learn that the counter is not dangerous; you are. “So I just won’t get on there if you’re around.”
I love using ScatMats: little, electrified mats that are just battery-operated. Just lay them on top, the dog steps up there on the counter, touches with his paws and he says, “Ouch. Counters are bad. I don’t think I want to touch counters anymore.” But whatever you do, just try to associate it with the counter and not you.
LESLIE: So, Bryan, this time of year I feel like a lot of people think it’s a great idea to give their children a puppy or a kitten or some other kind of a pet. What can we do to sort of help make that transition easier and is it a good idea?
BRYAN: It’s a good idea any time of year, just as long as we’re ready for it, as long as we accept the fact that we want a young dog in our lives.
Something that can make the transition easier for the dog and you is the ability to contain the dog. The dog doesn’t need to be out around the family all the time. Placing the dog in a kennel will help with his housebreaking and also cut down on the tendency of the animal to become destructive or to go potty in your home.
Once again, if you catch a dog going potty sometimes but then sometimes you don’t, what you teach the animal is it’s not dangerous to go potty in the house, just dangerous to go in front of humans. So they’ll slip off to that guest bedroom that never gets used or the formal dining room that we just use a couple times a year and that’s where they’ll go potty.
Same thing with chewing. So I love to have a 10-foot line for a dog, just a cotton-web lead where the dog’s out of the kennel attached to a human. Or when the dog cannot be supervised, just place the dog back in a kennel so you you’ll have a dog that’s perfectly housebroken inside your home.
TOM: Bryan Bailey, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Good advice.
Bryan’s new book,Embracing the Wild in Your Dog, is available on Amazon. To learn more, you can visit TamingTheWild.com. That’s TamingTheWild.com.
BRYAN: Thank you, sir.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. Still ahead, the wrong firewood won’t just burn dirtier; it can actually do a number on your wood-burning stove. We want to make sure that you’re burning the best wood for your stove and your health, when we share the details when we come back.
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, do you want to wow your houseguests this holiday season? Check out our Holiday Home Makeover Facebook Sweepstakes going on, right now, for a chance to win three fantastic prizes to help you host in style.
LESLIE: That’s right. Our first-prize winner is going to take home a Kartell by Laufen Designer Bathroom Stool and Mirror Set worth $1,125. It’s a perfect finishing touch for your at-home oasis. Visit Facebook.com/The Money Pit for you to enter.
TOM: Yeah. I don’t think I’d ever buy a bathroom stool and mirror worth 1,100 bucks. I’m just saying.
LESLIE: I probably would, although I would fall in love with it and then be sad that it’s so expensive and then somehow talk myself into buying it and then have a credit-card issue.
TOM: Yeah. But you see, if you enter the contest, you might not have to buy it because you can win it. Go to Facebook.com/The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Rudy in Tennessee joining us here at The Money Pit who had a leaky roof and now you’re trying to fix up all the remaining issues. Tell us what happened.
RUDY: So, we had a big rainstorm. And just got a call from my wife and I came in and looked at it and I had a bunch of water running down the seam of my drywall, into the – onto the landing inside my house. Then I called a handyman. He came and took down the drywall and wait, he noticed that it was kind of leaky. The roof was leaking and then it came in on the drywall.
I had a roofer come out, licensed. He came, he repaired the roof and also put some water guards to kind of channel the water away. And then the handy-guy put up the drywall and taped it, painted it over. And so then, probably about a month later, all that drywall – the new drywall – kind of buckled, kind of came out.
And there’s no more water. It’s rained here multiple times since then. I haven’t seen any more water come in but I didn’t know if it was moisture still in the wall or if it was just bulky drywall that the person put up.
TOM: Well, it’s not – is no such thing as bad drywall. There are bad drywall contractors but no such thing as bad drywall. And when you say “buckle,” is it swollen or is it sort of popped off the wall?
RUDY: It popped off the wall. Like you can push a little bit on it and you can see the exact place where the patched drywall was. You can look at the seam and it’s kind of uneven.
TOM: OK. So, if it sort of popped off the wall, then I suspect that it just wasn’t adhered properly and it might just need to be re-secured. You might need a few extra drywall screws or nails in that.
If it’s swollen and starting to look like it’s wet or damp or stained or moldy then, of course, the roof leak could be continuing. But if it’s just loose and came off the wall, then it might, in fact, be that it wasn’t attached very well and normal expansion and contraction of that area has forced it to sort of release. So I would go back to the contractor and ask if he can re-secure it and retape it, re-spackle it.
RUDY: Perfect. Thank you, guys. Enjoy listening to your show.
TOM: Well, thanks so much for calling, Rudy. We appreciate it.
Well, a wood-burning stove is a hallmark of a holiday season but you have to be careful. The wrong fuel can cause costly damage.
LESLIE: Yeah. You never want to burn trash or driftwood or any treated woods. Always use seasoned wood for the best heat release and minimal creosote buildup. And that’s going to help prevent the chances of a chimney fire.
TOM: And folks always say to use seasoned wood but what exactly is seasoned wood? Well, think about this: freshly-cut wood contains about 45-percent water. But seasoned wood, which is pretty much sat and dried out, is only going to contain about 20- to 25-percent water. And that makes it much more burnable and you get more BTUs out of it and that is the key.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, if you cut your own wood, you want to make sure that you’ve chopped it about six months to even a year before you plan on using it. Time and sun and wind, that’s going to remove all that excess moisture for free. And splitting logs also helps, too, because more surface area means more evaporation.
TOM: Now, if you buy wood for your stove, you want to look for logs that have darkened ends that are cracked and split, because this means the wood is fairly dry. It also should be lightweight. That means most of the moisture has evaporated out. And if you kind of clunk it together, there’ll be a sort of obvious noise to that when it hits another piece, again, that makes it sound very, very dry and solid.
LESLIE: Kevin in Texas is dealing with a dangerous situation. You’ve got water leaking through a light in your kitchen?
KEVIN: I actually live in an apartment but nevertheless, my concerns are obviously valid for my health and so forth. All of a sudden, water started coming through the light fixture in the kitchen. And I threw down buckets and went up and knocked on the gentleman upstairs’ door and it turned out his washing machine had gone crazy and had put a bunch of water in my ceiling that – most of which came right through the light fixture, point of least resistance.
LESLIE: Oh, wow.
KEVIN: However, I can tell that it got into the rest of the ceiling. There’s a place where this living room is bowed in with the stain, so I know that it got wet up inside there. And furthermore, the guy, when he was made aware of it, apparently thought that it wouldn’t act up anymore and actually turned on his washing machine again and went and stepped into the shower. And so it just leaked profusely until we could finally get his attention, between me and Maintenance.
TOM: Oh, my God.
KEVIN: Yeah. I mean we’re sitting there with shop vac, buckets and mops and just shaking our heads.
KEVIN: So it was a one-time event, so it wasn’t an ongoing leak. And I was wondering what my risks are of black mold. Is there a test? Is there a preventative? What’s the story with that?
TOM: Yeah, it’s a good question. But here’s the good news: a single leak like that that happened and then dried out is not going to become an ongoing mold problem. If it stays wet for a long, long time and especially if it’s in an unheated place, it’s more likely to become a mold problem. But a single leak like that is not.
And also, one more point and that is you mentioned that your ceiling bowed. If – and I hope it doesn’t – but if that ever happens to you again, what you want to do is somewhat counterintuitive but that is to poke a hole in the ceiling wherever you see that water starting to form.
TOM: Because it’s easier to fix a hole than it is to replace the entire ceiling, which is probably what’ll end up having to be done. But when you see water coming through like that, what you should do is grab a screwdriver and just poke a couple of holes until you find the spot where the water just starts dripping out.
TOM: The quicker you can empty that ceiling of water, the better off you’re going to be.
And we had a problem like that not too long ago because of a piece of flashing that blew off our roof. And the first thing I did was took a Phillips screwdriver and poked three or four holes until I found the right spot. All that water drained right out and all I had to do was fix those holes. And it didn’t even have a stain on the ceiling when we were done.
KEVIN: Wow, yeah. That’s good advice there. I guess I should have thought of that but when you’re renting, you’re a little bit reluctant to do that.
TOM: Yeah, you don’t know. And that’s why I always take the opportunity to mention it, because it’s – first of all, you don’t have the experience because, thankfully, people don’t get these kinds of leaks. But secondly, it’s very counterintuitive because you don’t want to damage your ceiling. Well, it’s already damaged once that water is behind it and it’s going to get a lot worse really fast unless you poke a hole in it.
LESLIE: Still ahead, no sooner do you trim it, well, then it’s time to get rid of it. Do Mother Nature a favor and dispose of your tree the Earth-friendly way. We’ll tell you how, when The Money Pit continues after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, if organization tops your resolutions list, start with the place that probably needs it most: your closet. We’ve got affordable, space-saving tips for closets big and small on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. And post your question just like Kevin did in our Community section. And Kevin writes: “Why are my plumbing pipes in the wall making a knocking sound after I have turned on the hot water in the bathtub?”
TOM: Yep, good question, Kevin, and very common, too. There are two general reasons that cause pipe noise. The first is expansion and the second is what’s known as water hammer. So, because your noise only occurs when running hot water, the culprit is probably expansion.
You know, copper pipes that are not securely attached to the wood studs in your wall can rub on that wood as it expands. And this can create a sound that’s very often described as sort of a knocking or a banging or even a dripping sound. But what it really is is the pipe very slowly but surely sort of creaking as it drags across that wood stud on the way out. And then, as it cools, it drags again sort of on the way back.
Now, the other plumbing noise, water hammer, generally occurs when the faucet is turned off. Water is very heavy – about 8 pounds per gallon – and you’ve got a lot of force that sort of shakes the pipe when it’s turned off, especially again that those pipes are loose. The solution is simply to better secure the pipes to the framing. And you can also install which is sort of a water shock-absorber into the system. It’s called a “water-hammer arrestor.” And it basically will take the impact of that force of the water running through the pipes and suddenly stop and give it kind of something to bounce against so the pipe doesn’t move quite as much.
LESLIE: Yeah. Basically, it’s your house’s way of disturbing your very peaceful bath.
TOM: Well, the holidays produce lots of waste but your tree doesn’t have to be a part of it. As the season winds down and you start to think about undecking the halls, you want to make Earth-friendly plans for your holiday tree. Leslie can tell you how, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. I love a real Christmas tree and you’ve got to remember that your holiday tree is good for more than just memories and photos. Get this, guys: every year, about 93 percent of real trees are tree-cycled, which means they’re returned back into the environment. Now, the results are quality mulch for our landscaping and gardens and groundcover for hiking trails and playgrounds. Recycled holiday trees are also used in beachfront-erosion prevention and then lake and river shoreline stabilization. And they’re even submerged for fish and wildlife habitats. Did you know that your tree was going to go on to have such an amazing adventure?
So, how do you go about returning your tree to where it came from? Now, the easiest way is to recycle it in your own yard. You could consider converting your holiday tree to a bird feeder, maybe a sanctuary for your yard animals. You want to do that but after you remove all of the decorations and make sure that ornament hooks and garlands and tinsels, all of that stuff is gone. Then go ahead and re-trim the tree with some orange slices and strung popcorn. That’s going to attract all of your fine, feathered friends. And within a year, your branches are going to be pretty brittle enough that you can pretty much break the tree apart by hand and then add it to your compost pile or run it through a wood chipper and that’ll create your own mulch.
Now, in some towns – my town does this: they always sort of put an ad in the paper and say, “This is the day, so put it out by this day.” You can actually recycle your tree the same way you’d throw it out: you just drag it to the curb. You want to check with your local waste-management company; they’ll tell you what their holiday-tree pickup plan is. And many actually integrate this into their ritual for recycling schedule, so pay attention to your local program date and make sure that your tree is ready to be hauled away by the date.
Don’t leave it out there for too many days. Don’t miss the day either, because then that tree is just going to sit there and look horrible for everybody and your neighbors and perhaps get snowed over. But again, make sure everything is off of it, because they do throw them right into the chipper and you don’t want lights on or anything. So make sure it’s ready to go for them.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, are you tired of shoveling after every storm? Well, a snow blower can do the job for you but they’re not one-size-fits-all. We’ll have tips on how you can choose the best snow blower for the job, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
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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