In this show, we’ve got hot tips for chilly season challenges, including how to keep pipes from freezing when the mercury drops, post-holiday decoration cleanup, and unsticking doors to ensure smooth entries and exits. Stay tuned for these and other topics in a jam-packed episode of winter home improvement!
- Frozen Pipes: When there’s frost in the forecast, know how to keep your pipes from freezing.
- Removing Holiday Decorations: If it’s time to wrap up the holidays, undeck the halls with these quick and easy steps.
- Sticking Doors: If you’re feeling stuck, we’ve got solutions for annoying doors that stick.
Top Questions & Answers
- Shower Odors: Heidi can’t get rid of the sour odor coming from the shower drain. We suggest scrubbing the drain carefully with a Borax solution and using a vent fan with a humidistat.
- Concrete Countertop: Should Lane build a DIY concrete countertop? It could be a lot of work, but with proper preparation, it’s a beautiful and inexpensive option.
- Insulation: The upstairs rooms are always colder or hotter than downstairs. Linda should add blown-in insulation to the attic and cover her whole house fan in winter.
- New Home Maintenance: After eight years in a new home, Greg wants advice on what maintenance he should be doing and gets tips on the most important things to watch.
- HVAC Cleaning: Jeannie is concerned that the HVAC system is making her friend sick. She should have a professional inspection to check for mold and other possible problems with the ducts and filters that the landlord may need to fix.
- Sheetrock Repair: Sheetrock tape keeps separating and lifting the paint, even after it’s been redone. Jeffrey should add a thin layer of new drywall over it and be sure it’s taped, primed, and painted properly.
- Worn Woodwork: Paula has worn and damaged woodwork throughout her house. It’s easier and less expensive to replace and repaint some areas than to tear it all out.
- Moisture Stains: A moisture problem under the house was fixed but left a powdery residue on the floors. Leta can easily remove the efflorescence with a vinegar solution.
- Storm Windows: Are storm windows over single-pane double-hung windows efficient enough? They should be fine and Ron can easily upgrade the storm windows if needed.
- Concrete Steps: The concrete mortar in Sandy’s brick steps is starting to deteriorate. It’s a common issue and she just needs to have a mason repoint the mortar.
|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: Happy New Year, everybody. What are you planning for the New Year? Ahead? You have some home improvement, New Year’s resolutions. Do you have some plans to update your kitchen, your bath basement, your attic, your garage, your yard building, a deck? Want to get that hot tub done once and for all so you can enjoy that. Hey, whatever’s on your to do list, we would love to help reach out to us with your home improvement questions at 1-888-Money-Pit. That’s 888-666-3974. Or post your questions at Money pit com/asked us click the blue microphone button coming up on today’s show. Well winter has officially arrived and can your home’s water pipes stand up for those cold temperatures? We hope you save lots of hassle and money with some tips to keep those pipes from freezing in just a bit and under.
|LESLIE: Decking the halls is never fun, but you might be making it tougher than it has to be. We’re going to give you some hacks for taking down holiday decorations quickly and easily.
|TOM: Plus, we’ll have a solution for doors that stick. It’s an annoying problem that really doesn’t have to be. So we’ll tell you how to make it go away once and for all.
|LESLIE: All right. But first, finish celebrating this wonderful year and all the new things that you’ve got looking forward to in 2024. And when you are ready, make a list of all the things you want to do in your Money Pit this year because we are standing by to help.
|TOM: The number here is 1888-Money-Pit or go to moneypit.com/ask. Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
|LESLIE: Heidi and Oregon’s dealing with a stinky shower. What’s going on?
|CALLER: We have a two story house. The one shower is in the basement downstairs. It’s a daylight basement, but it’s built back into the side hill. And what I’ve noticed is that after showering, you know, you leave the bathroom and you come back in and there is this sour towel smell. It’s not a sewer smell or a septic smell, but it smells like a towel that has been left damp somewhere. And it’s just been left to kind of mold or do whatever. But I’ve changed the towels and I come back in the bathroom and I’ve located the smell with my nose and gone right down to the drain. And it’s coming out of the drain in the shower.
|TOM: What this might be is something called bio gas. And when the water drains and he takes with it, the soaps come and everything else you can get. You can get germs that are going to grow in that and that biological material off gases and can make horrible smells so.
|CALLER: Well, you know, that’s what we thought, too, because it’s in both showers upstairs and downstairs and we only smell it obviously, after someone has showered and it was wet. So we’ve taken the grapes off. We’ve cleaned with a bottle brush. You know, I look with the flashlight down there and those pipes are they’re spick and span, clean all the way down to the petrol.
|TOM: Have you used any kind of an oxygenated bleach down those traps?
|CALLER: No, we don’t do that because we’re on a septic tank and we don’t want to kill all the good bacteria in the septic. And so I’ve been afraid to use anything. I’ve tried vinegar, I’ve used Lysol spray.
|TOM: Well, not so much vinegar. Yeah, well, okay, why don’t you use borax?
|CALLER: Borax. Okay. And pour it down into the drain, Because.
|TOM: Well, now what I want you to do is I want you to get a solution of hot, soapy water with borax in it, and I want you to scrub the inside of that, drain all the different parts, you know, with it, with a big, thick bottle brush. Get as much of that trap cleaned as you can and see if that reduces it. And by the way, do you have ventilation in those bathrooms?
|CALLER: Yeah, there’s windows.
|TOM: Do you have fans that you could leave on after?
|CALLER: Yes. Yes. And we always turn the pan on when we.
|LESLIE: Shower and keep it on when you’re done.
|CALLER: Well, no, we usually shut it off when we’re done.
|TOM: So. Yeah, that’s another thing. I would change that behavior. I would change. What I would do is I would replace the Bath fan switch with one that’s on a timer. Or you made a start so that after you are done showering and leave the bathroom, it stays on for another 15 or 20 minutes.
|CALLER: But we’ll go ahead and try that then and see what happens.
|TOM: All right, Heidi, thank you so much for calling us at 888-Money-Pit. Good luck with that project.
|LESLIE: Lane in Arkansas is looking to do some countertop updates with the cement countertop. How can we help you with that project?
|CALLER: I’ve been wanting to get granite countertops forever, and I can’t really afford it being a single dad and paying the mortgage and everything. So I was looking at the concrete method. I watched some videos on YouTube and whatnot, and I really like how it looks because it looks a lot like the granite. And my question kind of where is it pretty simple for a guy that knows a lot of not a lot about concrete, but you know a little about it and the edging stuff that they sell on websites. Do you need to buy that or is there a way that you can do it with just normal? I would or you can form it up yourself.
|TOM: So first of all, concrete countertops are beautiful, but they’re a lot of work to build. As you’ve learned. If you’ve watched all of those YouTube videos, which I commend you for doing in terms of the edging, you certainly having those tools certainly makes it a lot easier. But if you’re crafty, you probably could make your own edging tools okay to hit an acceptable edge to that concrete surface. The good news is that the materials itself is fairly inexpensive, so if you really screw it up, you could break it up, throw it in the garden and start again, you know, right? But the key is really the prep and making sure that you’ve got the form built correctly and you’re totally ready to go. You know exactly what you’re going to do once you start to pour in that concrete because you don’t get a second chance.
|CALLER: Would you recommend a certain type of concrete? You know.
|TOM: Quikrete makes a commercial grade countertop mix. All right. So I would just go by that. Okay. Yeah, you could pick that up at a home center hardware store and just go for that.
|CALLER: Well, that sounds good. That’s probably what I’ll end up doing then.
|TOM: All right, Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-Money-Pit.
|LESLIE: Now we’ve got Linda in Pennsylvania on the line with an insulation question. Welcome, Linda.
|CALLER: We have a three story house built in the late 1980s. In the winter, it’s colder upstairs than downstairs, and especially in the summer. It’s just really hot upstairs. Tom We also we have a whole house fan and it’s I don’t want to get rid of that. The one person that had come and talk to us about insulation said we should get rid of that. I don’t know whether the fan has blown some of the insulation over the blocks this off advance that we’re not getting enough circulation. So I guess I just don’t really know what to do about adding more insulation.
|TOM: All right. Well, first of all, a 1980s house probably has a minimal amount of insulation. What you really want is 15 or 20 inches of insulation. Do you have decent space in the attic? Can you walk around up there? No. Okay. So how is it how is it constructed? Is it made of trusses where it’s hard to get around?
|CALLER: Yes. And it’s not real high in the center. I mean, you can get around, but no, it’s not very high up there.
|TOM: I would have I would have blown it. Insulation installed because you can easily you know, a professional can get that where it has to go. Professionals are also good at making sure that the baffles are in place, which keeps it out of the soffit. And then when it comes to the whole House fan, you should have a cover for that for the wintertime just to kind of seal it up a little bit, perhaps cover it with some sort of an insulation blanket and then you can pull that off in the summertime. It will be a source of energy loss. So you have to kind of take that additional step. But I agree it’s a great thing to have. But I will say it must have good exit venting though, to the gable vents on the side walls of the house because if you turn that fan on, you know in a pressurized you are going to make that an air go out.
|CALLER: Now we have the ridge vent and when they replace the roof a couple of years ago, they did put in, they said there is a slightly larger size ridge and that’s what they put in part within.
|TOM: It’s probably big enough to handle the exhaust venting. So that’s what I would do. I would have blown an insulation all around the fan itself. What the installer will do is, is put sort of a wall around that made of sort of like a stiff cardboard or some type of material like that so that they can pile the insulation of higher against that opening and keep it away from the operation of the fan. Okay, it’s done all the time, Linda, And I’ll definitely make a big difference in how comfortable you feel in that house. Okay.
|CALLER: All right. Thank you very much.
|TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-Money-Pit.
|LESLIE: Hey, you’re tired of living in a money pit. Well, we’re here to help. And if you want us to help out, it would be awesome if you could leave us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. Just go to moneypit.com/review. It’s only going to take a minute and it means the world to us. Greg from Iowa is on the line is looking for some home maintenance tips how can we help.
|CALLER: You at my new house new construction eight years ago and I’ll be honest it’s kind of embarrassing but I’ve really done zero home maintenance since. Other than changing the air filters. Every once in a while I’ve done zero home maintenance things.
|TOM: Well, that’s why I bought a new house.
|CALLER: Yeah, exactly.
|TOM: But alas, it’s time to take on a few projects on what’s going on in the house now.
|CALLER: No, there’s nothing wrong. It was just more of general maintenance That needs to happen, and I just don’t know what to do.
|TOM: So general maintenance. So, first of all, you know, when it gets chilly like it is now, it’s time for you to do some heating system maintenance. Now, what kind of fuel do you have? You have gas. Natural gas.
|TOM: So it’s important to have your heating system serviced. You apparently not done that for eight years. You’re well overdue. The reason for that is even though when you turn the heat on, it comes on and provides heats your house, it could be doing so inefficiently or at worst it could be doing so dangerously. So every fall you need to have your heating system cleaned and service to make sure it’s running properly. And then in the summer you’ll have your air conditioning system service for the same reasons, not so much the danger, but more importantly, the efficiency. So those are two things you should be doing right now. And when your HPC technician comes, you’ll probably also take a look at the water heater because sometimes the burners can get coated with rust because natural gas is very corrosive when it burns. So that’s the kind of thing that you probably need to do right away. The other maintenance task are really going to depend on, you know, kind of what’s going on in the house. You know, if you’ve got a toilet that leaks or runs all the time, then you could need fill or flush valves. If you’ve got paint that’s cracking your peeling, you could need paint for the mechanical maintenance, I think is most important because that’s potentially dangerous. Does that make sense to us now? Are you seeing anything that you think needs attention?
|CALLER: No, nothing. Nothing much. It’s just been I think we’ve had a pretty lucky eight years and there’s been no crises at all.
|LESLIE: So you better be knocking on a piece of wood right now.
|CALLER: Right? It’s a So it’s time to get it maintained, I suppose. Get some maintenance done for the back. Yes. Yeah.
|LESLIE: And you know what’s something you probably don’t consider is your dryer vent. You know, the exhaust stack behind your dryer that exits the outside of your house. A lot of people don’t think to clean that because lint does go out there and then get to the outside and it can get stuck and it can get caught. And you should be cleaning that at least once a year, probably twice a year.
|CALLER: To pull out the dryer to do that.
|LESLIE: Yes, pull the dryer away from the wall. There is a product called it’s a guard is lint eater is one of the ones that we’ve used, Tom and I. And you actually put it through the exit vent on the exterior of the house and you sort of twist it through with like a drill driver motor. But you have to be very careful. And there’s a certain direction you have to put it in, but it goes through and the amount of stuff that comes out, I mean, it’s you’ve never seen so much junk on it.
|CALLER: Well, thanks a lot for the tips and anything else that comes up and anything else you can think of that is or there’s a big.
|TOM: Reason why there’s so much to be done. You know, I think you just need to be aware of it. Take care of those mechanical things, because that’s where you can get yourself in trouble. Okay.
|CALLER: All right. Thanks a lot.
|TOM: All right. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-Money-Pit. Well, for anyone who’s ever dealt with this problem, they can tell you this frozen pipes are a very expensive headache. Good news is there are a few things you can do to keep them from freezing in the first place.
|LESLIE: That’s right. On very cold nights, you can open the doors to any undressing cabinets that are along the outside walls, which is most likely in your kitchen, under your sink cabinet. That’s going to let the warm air from the heated room in and prevent it from becoming a freezer leading to those frozen water lines.
|TOM: Next, you want to bundle up pipes just like you do with a winter coat wrap insulation around the pipes in unheated crawl spaces, attics and basements. Now, you can use those foam tubes super handy because they’re split down the side. You can also find fiberglass tubes or fiberglass pipe wrap to do the same thing.
|LESLIE: And in your crawl space in your basement, those drafts can freeze on insulated pipes in a matter of few hours. So find those drafts and then consider using expanding foam sealant to seal them off.
|TOM: And finally, keep your heat above 55 degrees all winter long. Please, please, please. Because shutting off or lowering unused heating zones can cause water and heating lines to freeze in walls and ceilings. And by the way, one more thing I just thought of. Let’s talk about heat tape. You know, it seems like a good idea, right, to have this long strip that people wrap around pipes and plug in. It’s not meant to be a permanent appliance. People. You can plug it in and throw out a pipe. Don’t wrap it back on top of itself. This wrap it against the pipe. Sort of perils of the pipe. Attach it that way. Don’t go on top of it, because if you crisscross it, it’s super-hot and it’s not safe. But you can use it to throw out the pipe. Just don’t use it all the time. Use the find that all the time. When I was in the crawl space, I’d find the tape. It was permanently installed. And I can’t tell you how many times it was frayed and cracked and broken and super dangerous. Just a fire waiting to happen.
|LESLIE: Jean in Ohio is on the line with a crowd question What is going on at your money pit, my friend?
|CALLER: I’m afraid that her it seems like her apartment may be making her sick. Well, what do you see? And she has central air. She has COPD. Two weeks after they change the filter, if they get around to it, they’re dirty again. And she’s been like vacuuming them off and wiping around them with bleach, water and stuff like that. And she said out of the vents also, there’s like a brown something or the other and she doesn’t know what it is. And I don’t I don’t know. She doesn’t know. It might be mold.
|TOM: She has an apartment or she has a house. What kind of a place?
|CALLER: A one bedroom apartment. She lives with her son. She’s in her late fifties and he’s in his early thirties.
|TOM: Right. And it’s a forced air heating and cooling system. So it’s gas fired or what?
|TOM: Okay. So, I mean, obviously, the landlord needs to address this. And I would I would tell you to do first would be to have somebody look at the duct system and really look at the apartment for sources of mold. The problem is that landlords aren’t motivated to find more because that means they’re going to fix it up. But a good mold inspector could detect it. It’s hard to figure out what’s coming out of these ducts, and certainly the filter needs to be changed on a regular basis. And if you have a better quality filter, this filter comes with a wide range of qualities. But if you have a good quality filter, that’s going to do a pretty good job of trapping most of this, but you shouldn’t be seeing a constant source of substance coming out of those ducts unless you know they’re dirty and need to be cleaned. So that’s kind of one thing that comes to mind. You say that the house might be making her sick. Does she get better when she leaves the place or does she just not leave it? She there all the time, it seems.
|CALLER: Well, she’s been in the hospital a couple of times with bronchitis and other kinds of stuff that are breathing. I think I told you she has COPD.
|TOM: Obviously, there could be a lot of things that are causing her distress, but I think eliminating the apartment is one of them would at least make her feel better. I would have it inspected thoroughly by perhaps a home inspector or a mold professional to look for signs of it, because there are a lot of different places in a house where air quality can be impacted. You know, carpets can hide, dust mites and allergens and, you know, different types of mold can form under appliances. There’s just a lot of places. And so if you really suspect that there could be something of the mold nature going on there, I would have it inspected by a pro and figure out, you know, what’s there.
|CALLER: Yeah, she should talk about like an air purifier. But I said, if your system is dirty, I’m afraid it would fight each other.
|TOM: Yeah. Listen, you don’t want to go. You don’t want to go that way. You don’t want to add more filtration to this. I want you to inspect and determine if there’s a problem that exists. Then you can talk about the best way to clean it. So, you know, keep throwing money at this, get the information, figure out what’s going on, or maybe not going on, and then you can put your mind to rest. Yes. Having a good quality filter in your HPC system is important. There’s a website, by the way, called FilterEasy.com that I like because you can sign up for a subscription service for filters. They end up being less expensive than they are in the store. And you just sign up once and then they’ll send you a new filter like on whatever frequency you need, probably every about three months. So when it shows up, you just pop it in so it’ll always be clean. You mentioned that she was always vacuuming. You know, if you don’t have a HEPA vacuum, one that is a high efficiency vacuum, you could be redistributing that dust to the air. So there’s just a lot of ways that the air could be contaminated. And you really need to look at this holistically, not just at one doctor at a time. So that makes sense.
|CALLER: Yeah, the filter filter. What com filter?
|TOM: FilterEasy.com. Yeah, Check it out. It’s a great way to make sure your filters are always replaced when they should be.
|CALLER: Thank you so much.
|TOM: Good luck to you and thanks so much for calling us at 888-Money-Pit.
|LESLIE: Jeffrey in Louisiana is on the line. What can we do for.
|CALLER: You being that live in Louisiana? You know, a lot of moisture content in there.
|TOM: We’ve heard that.
|CALLER: Yeah. And after saying that in the west side of my house. Yes, I’ve noticed that my tape and float along with my sheet rust is just basically coming off the walls. I’ve had moisture content test done on my sheet and there is no it’s only on one side of my house and I can’t figure out why. I’m a construction worker. I have been for 35 years and a kitchen out. Where am I? Sheetrock is turning on.
|TOM: So did you say paint was coming off the sheetrock?
|CALLER: What’s happening is when the tape and float fills up, it brings the paint with it, of course.
|TOM: Oh, okay. All right. So that tape is separating. Oh, yeah. Well, jeez, I just want I wonder if I wonder if the guys that did that tape work just did a bad job or use some bad spackle or something like that. That shouldn’t be happening.
|CALLER: Well, maybe that’s so. You know, I thought that, too. But once they get it all, you know, remodel and everything, they did it again. Just don’t let it out of the house. Even deemed it one time as being settling in the house. And I even had some of my guys come in measured in only instead or two inch. And it was in the last two years. So that can’t be the problem.
|TOM: Let’s assume that there’s something there’s something wrong with that, with the adhesion issue there. And one thought that I might have, especially since the old walls in such bad shape, Why did you do this? How much work would it be for you to skin those walls with the second layer of drywall, but not a half inch? I would use a quarter inch drywall, so very thin drywall and you can overlap the joints. I would glue it and screw it to the wall. So now you have a clean brand new fresh set of drywall upon which you can take the seams properly, prime it and paint it. And that surely would be a one-time fix that wouldn’t have to be repeated.
|CALLER: Yeah, okay, I’ll do that.
|TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-Money-Pit in an 888-666-3974. Well, for all the preparation and the buildup, holidays definitely fly by fast and feeling like you just hung them up yesterday can make undecorated even a lot less fun.
|LESLIE: Yeah but on decking the holes doesn’t have to be a headache. You can take steps now. That’ll save time and trouble when you roll out the decorations again next year.
|TOM: Now, first up, you want to assess what you have and pick up replacements. Decorating next year will be extra fun when you open those boxes of brand new knickknacks and lights and ornaments. And buying during post-holiday sales means you’re going to stock up for a lot less.
|LESLIE: Yeah, and don’t pick anything away before you examine it first for any damage. You know, these days, lady string lights aren’t really repairable. So count of how many you need and then buy them again. But this time at a significant post-holiday discount.
|TOM: I used to buy lights for a 75 foot long picket fence that was for a house. And my elderly neighbor only love decorating for her every year. And after buying more strings each year, I got smart. I started taping the old receipts to the real that the lights came on. So I knew exactly where it was and if I wanted to make a warranty claim, it was right there. Now the lights are the three year warranty and I’m pretty sure I am one of the very few who took the seriously enough to keep those receipts and track and return broken or half lit light strings for a full three years after purchase. They get tired of seeing me there.
|LESLIE: That I’m.
|TOM: Like, Well, if your lights would last as long as the warranty did, then I wouldn’t have to keep coming back in. But I did. And that was the secret there. So make sure you keep those receipts.
|LESLIE: All right. Words for the wise. Now to store those holiday lights. You can cut cardboard into 12 by nine inch pieces and then wrap the string lights around them. Your lights are going to stay tidy and they’re going to be easier to work with next year for holiday decorations. You can store them in clear plastic bins. You can spot what’s inside and specialized storage cases and bags for artificial reefs and faux greenery help protect those decorations for years of use.
|TOM: You know what I did for a for artificial tree? I bought a bag just for that. It’s like the largest bag I’ve ever seen in my life. But it’s nice because when I pop it out every Christmas now it’s really easy to set up. So storing it right definitely makes the whole decorating process a lot easier next year.
|LESLIE: Paula in Ohio is on the line. Paula, what can we do for you today.
|CALLER: Me and my husband have an older house was built like in 1950. And the woodwork through the whole house, it’s all interconnected. The door frames everything. And we want to sell the house. So we’re trying to find what would be the best and the cheapest solution to fixing that would work without having to replace at all.
|TOM: So what’s going on with the wood work? Is it just worn? Is it is it just heavily painted? I mean, what exactly is your problem with your woodwork?
|CALLER: Yeah, it’s worn. It’s like I think somebody that lived there before us had a doll and suit on and it’s like we would replace You can’t replace parts of it because you can’t get the stain, the matte and we don’t really know what to do to make it look better, to get it ready to sell.
|TOM: So is this molding kind of like fancy molding in terms of if you were to fill in some of the grooves and the digs in it, could you paint it, never look halfway decent, or do you think you have to replace it?
|CALLER: I think some of it we’d have to replace it. Okay.
|TOM: Well, I mean, I think that’s kind of what you’re up against. If it’s painted now, you’re going to probably want to replace it with a paint grade molding. And I think if the areas that are really damaged, you mentioned dog damage. Even if it’s chewed on, then you may just want to pull that piece off and replace it. But I mean, a coat of paint can do wonders with something like that. I don’t know. There’s a way to kind of decorate around it and it would be an awful lot of work to replace all that trim. Certainly a possibility, but it’s a big job. Pull the trim off and replace it. So I think all you can really hope to do at this point is to clean it up, prime it, because that will give you a better paint finish and then just put a top coat of paint on it, kind of call it a day. Leslie do you have any other suggestions or do you think that’s about it?
|LESLIE: No, I really think, you know, priming and painting, it really is the best solution because once you get into replacing all of the trim work, I mean, first of all, it’s a tremendous expense and it’s a lot of work and the end up cutting and metering and it can be more complicated, whereas paint is a simple fix for frame. At least you can start there and see if it’s something that you like and can, you know, live with and work with decor wise. And if not, then you can at least explore the future options.
|CALLER: Okay, great. That help you out? That helps me out a lot.
|TOM: All right. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-Money-Pit.
|LESLIE: All right. We’ve got Lita on the line with a question about moisture. What can we do for you today?
|CALLER: I have a conventional foundation. The house built in 1970. Yeah, solid hardwood floors and rain was collecting paneling under the house. I think I’ve got that stopped. But I’m wondering, before I got it stopped, there was this, like, powdery gray, like a milk mold or mildew, not very wide, real narrow. And I’m wondering where that what that is and how to stop that if it comes back.
|LESLIE: Well, that’s just a mineral salt deposit. They called it like efflorescence. And that’s generally when the water gets into the wall and then dries out, you’re left with just the mineral layer on your wall. And that gives it sort of like a cloudy grayish. You know, look to it. And it’s actually easy to get rid of, especially if the water situation has fixed itself. What you would do is take a little bit of white vinegar and water and you can mix it in a spray bottle and you put it right on that and it wipes right away.
|TOM: Well, good luck with that project. I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at eight At 888-Money-Pit.
|LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got a sticking door, it can go one of two ways. You can either put up with it, letting that little annoyance build up over time, or you can resolve to fix it once and for all. We’re kind of advocates of that second approach, so here’s what you need to know.
|TOM: Yeah, definitely. So first, it helps to understand why doors actually stick the most doors are made of wood, so the best way to understand the sticking door problem is to think of it as a sponge. When the sponge is dry, it’s small, it’s compact and it’s hard. But when it gets moist, it swells up to its full size and becomes a bit softer. That’s exactly what’s going on with your door. As it swells and then dries out, the extreme temperature can cause it to stick. In fact, I know people where one spot sticks in the winter and the other spot sticks in the summer.
|LESLIE: Now, to fix a sticking door, your first task is to find out exactly where that stick begins. And you can discover this by kind of slowly opening and closing the door, kind of make a note of where that door is in relation to the frame. And when it starts to stick. If you want a visual guide, you can use a piece of chalk to color the door where it seems to be sticking. And then by opening and closing that door a couple of times, that chalk mark is going to transfer to the exact point where that sticking door touches its jamb and then you can easily wipe that off without a trace.
|TOM: Now the fix is the door. There’s really two methods which I will call easy and not so easy. First, you want to tighten the hinges, and if the door opens on the right and six towards the top, the most likely culprit will be the opposite hinge on the left. If you tighten that hinge or replace just one or two of its screws with ones that are long enough to go through the jamb and into the framing, what happens is that actually sort of pulls the door over just enough to free up the sticking situation. Now, the other option is to sand down the door where it’s sticking. You need to take a rough piece of sandpaper and rub it firmly against that section of the door that’s been sticking. Then you’ve got to repeat the process until the door no longer sticks in the frame. But try not to overdo it because once the door fits well, you’re going to use progressively finer sandpaper to smooth the rough edges and prepare to repaint what you do, that you should be good to go with the stick free door.
|LESLIE: Bryan in Virginia is on the line with the window question How can I help you today?
|CALLER: Yes, I just moved to Virginia from Florida. I bought a house, has single pane double home windows with aluminum storm windows on the outside. And I was wondering if that’s going to be efficient for the mild winters we get here. Should I look into insulated windows?
|LESLIE: Well, you know, generally when you’re talking about a single pane window, if it was truly on its own, we’d say it’s not that efficient. But because you have a storm window that automatically makes it that much more efficient. And a storm window is fairly easy to replace. I mean, you can get a new storm window that has a different type of coating on it that could improve its efficiency, because what you’re doing is you’re essentially creating that space of air between the storm window and the main window, and that’s allowing, you know, the cold air to stop before it gets into your home. So especially if you’re able to upgrade just the storm window itself, you’ll really be able to create quite an efficient window within your home and do well for the winter months.
|CALLER: Okay, that’s great. The windows, the storm windows do look, the original and a rather lightweight in structure. I do like the wood windows at the house as so I will look into that.
|TOM: Thank you. Great. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-Money-Pit.
|LESLIE: Heading over to Illinois. Sandy’s on the line with a question about some concrete steps. What are you working on?
|CALLER: My father has a house that was built in 1950 or so, and the front steps are brick and they are starting to separate like the grout between the bricks. So it’s starting to kind of deteriorate and crumble. And I have questions about if there’s anything that can be done to repair that without redoing the whole thing.
|TOM: Yeah, you don’t have to replace that whole thing. This is a typical way that that brick is going to wear. What you need to do is reappoint the concrete. That means that you have a mason come in and scrape away all that loose mortar and replace it with new mortar. We often have to do this two bricks and block work both outside the house like you describe, but also inside the house. You have an old foundation that’s got brick or blocks. The mortar will just get soft and deteriorate, both from age and from in case of a of a sidewalk area. Just a lot of water and weather on it over the years. So a very typical project, not a big deal. You should be able to restore that completely.
|LESLIE: Ashley in Illinois wrote in saying, I’m excited about my new high efficiency washing machine, but not about the part in the manual that says I might need to reinforce the floor beneath it. What’s this all about?
|TOM: Well, when you do a high efficiency washing machine, it does create quite a racket if it’s not level. And I think that’s what we’re getting to here. Ashley, when you put that machine in, it is really, really, really important that you level it properly. Most floors can handle that. But there is one other thing that you can do that will take some of that stress out of the machine. If you happen to maybe throw a quilt in or you got some shoes in there or something that’s odd that sometimes can knock it out a level and that is you can put what’s called antivirus station blocks underneath the feet of the washing machine. I’ve done this now for the last two laundry rooms I worked on, which were both upstairs laundry rooms. I put these anti vibration blocks underneath the washing machine and I got to tell you, it makes a big difference because it’s sort of a shock absorber for the machine, even though it’s level. It doesn’t make as much noise, especially if you’re like downstairs and listening to the whole floor rattle. It’s not that bad really. Once you had this in place, it put the anti-vibration blocks down and I think it will make a big difference in terms of the sturdiness of that machine. And I wouldn’t worry too much about reinforcing the floor. You got to have a pretty weak floor. That’d be necessary.
|LESLIE: Now we’ve got one from Brian who says we have a very small bathroom that has no character at all. How do we give that room a decorative makeover that it desperately needs?
|TOM: So I’m thinking, Leslie, improved lighting, additional storage, maybe some new faucets, and then maybe some wainscoting. There’s a pretty easy bathroom makeover. You just add that about halfway up the wall and by doing a few little things like that, I think it definitely will give it a step up.
|LESLIE: Yeah. And also, remember, paint and peel and stick wallpaper, those make huge changes.
|TOM: Well, if you received a gift that you need to return, navigating the nitty gritty of long lines and return rules and store policies that change from store to store can pretty much be a big hassle. Well, Leslie’s got some tips to make the return process go a lot smoother. In today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
|LESLIE: You know, you’re going to get a gift that you maybe didn’t like and, you know, it’s totally understandable. But definitely returning those gifts can be a huge pain in the butt. So here’s some rules, guys. Tip number one don’t dawdle. Times ticking. And those return lines can be longer than Santa’s naughty list. So hustle on over to the store before everybody else catches on. And don’t forget your gift receipt. It’s that VIP pass to return paradise. Without it, you’re going to end up stuck with a funky sweater or a blender. That’s just not your vibe. Next up. No, the store policies. They’re like the rules of a board game. And every store has got their own set of rules. Some have time limits, some won’t take opened items. It’s like return roulette out there. But you got to try. So definitely give it a go. Also, keep it chill, folks. Sure. That thoughtful gift might have missed the mark, but being cool to the store staff can make or break your return game. They’re just doing their job. So be kind. You know, it definitely pays to be nice. Now, here’s a pro move. Consider an exchange. That candle that smells like your grandma’s attic. Well, you can swap it for something that screams you. It’s like kind of hitting the holiday jackpot on round two. And last but not least, keep those eyes peeled for special holiday return windows. Some stores are going to extend their return policies during the festive season. That gives you extra time to make those exchanges or definitely keep an eye out for that. And if all else fails, you know, put it on the gifting shelf for when somebody’s birthday or next year rolls around.
|TOM: Yeah, regifting is totally okay.
|TOM: This is the Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, in 2024. Nothing says upscale kitchen more than a pro-style range, but can your home handle one of these brawny beauties? We’ll tell you what you need to know about adding a commercial range to your kitchen in 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.
|(Note: The above referenced transcript is AI-Generated, Unedited and Unproofed and as such may not accurately reflect the recorded audio. Copyright 2023 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.)