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: And what are you working on smack-dab in the middle of summer in your part of the country? I hope you’re enjoying the beautiful, warm summer weather. And maybe you’re doing so on an improvement that you’ve recently completed. But if you haven’t and you want to, you are in exactly the right place because we’re here to help. Short of picking up the hammers and the saws and the nail guns and the paintbrushes, we are here to give you some advice to help you get that project done.
LESLIE: We can pick up your motivation. How about that?
TOM: We can help pick up the motivation; that is absolutely right. So if you want to get motivated, you want to get started but you don’t know how to do just that, call us right now. Please do at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or post your how-to or décor dilemma to the Community section of MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s program, speaking of summer, you know, on a summer evening, there’s nothing better than sitting out on the porch, until the mosquitoes arrive. We’re going to have some tips on retractable screens that can keep those pesky pests away.
LESLIE: And you may think of ivy as a way to make your home look distinguished. But did you know that it can also wreak serious havoc on your walls, including broken bricks and major carpenter-ant problems? We’re going to have tips on the best way to manage those creepy vines.
TOM: And also ahead, a leaking shower pan is a project that can wreak real havoc in your home, not only causing structural damage but replacing it can shut down the entire bath when it’s time for repair. We’re going to share some tips on how to get that project done, in today’s Pro Project segment.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’ve got a very fun tool to give away. It’s the iconic, American-made prize pack, which includes the Arrow T50 Electric Staple Gun and Nailer, plus the Arrow Dual-Temperature Glue Gun, staples and glue sticks.
Now, this absolutely is my most favorite glue gun. I know everybody talks about the stapler but this glue gun, it has consistent feed. It works beautifully. It really is the best glue gun out there, so you guys are going to be lucky to have this.
TOM: And that Arrow prize pack, including Leslie’s favorite glue gun, is going out to one caller drawn at random. Is that you? You’ve got to pick up the phone first and give us a call with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Judy from Illinois is on the line and is dealing with some changes in a hardwood floor. How can we help you?
JUDY: Well, I have a little problem in the winter with my hardwood flooring separating. And I can kind of see down in there. And I was wondering about a whole-house humidifier in the winter to keep that from happening, because it’s fine in the summer, what you would suggest.
TOM: A whole-house humidifier is a good thing when you have forced-air heat that’s gas or oil or propane, because that tends to be extremely dry. I would encourage you to use a very good-quality unit, like an Aprilaire. Because there are a lot of units that don’t work very well and they don’t work very long, especially the kind that spray water into the duct system, as opposed to the Aprilaire unit, which has an evaporator pad where the water sort of trickles down this pad and then it evaporates into the house air that way.
So, a humidifier can help. If the gaps are particularly large, you can also fill them with jute – j-u-t-e – jute type of rope. And then you could refinish over top of that. Sometimes, if the gaps are really big, that’s a good thing to put in the middle of it because it kind of blends in with the floor and doesn’t show through.
LESLIE: Yeah. And Tom, sometimes I finish the jute roping before I even lay it in. Like I’ll dip it in a can of the same color of stain and sort of work it in with my fingers. And then once it dries, then I squish it into place with a painter’s knife.
JUDY: Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for contacting us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rob in Iowa whose basement walls seem to be coming in on themselves. What is going on at your money pit?
ROB: I’ve got some basement walls that are heaving in and I need a permanent solution that’s not going to bankrupt me.
ROB: Basically, what I’ve got is I’ve got some wall anchors that have been installed about seven years ago. I’ve been keeping those tight and the walls are still heaving in. We had a drought here in Iowa last summer and this year, we’ve had quite a bit of rain. So, walls are bowing in up to 2 inches in places and I’m getting a little worried.
TOM: Wow. Yeah, if your walls are bowed in 2 inches, Rob, unfortunately you’ve got a very serious problem on your hands that is not only impacting the structure of your home but also the value of your home. And if the walls have gotten that bad, we are well beyond the do-it-yourself-fix stage.
I can provide you some basic information about why this might be happening. Generally, the reason walls will heave is because you get a lot of water that collects around the foundation perimeter, especially if you don’t have terrific drainage. If the drainage is flat, if the gutters are dumping near the corners of the foundation, which is where most gutter contractors leave them, that water collects into the soil. And in the wintertime, it freezes, expands and then slowly but surely sort of ratchets that wall out.
Now, if yours have gone to the point where they’re 2 inches out of plumb, this is a problem. So, the way I would address this – and I would do it very specifically and very strategically – is as follows: I would retain a structural engineer to examine the problem and specify a repair. It’s very important that you just don’t call a contractor for this. Because if they don’t have the pedigree of an engineering degree, it’s not going to hold water when it comes time to sell your house.
So I would hire an engineer to analyze the problem and design a solution. And you could talk cost concerns with your engineer and options and all of that. Once you have that plan in place, at that point in time you can make the decision as to whether or not you’re going to do it yourself, which may be more possible with a plan than not, or whether or not you’re going to hire a pro.
But however you get it done, the third and most important final step is to have the engineer come back and examine the work and then give you an additional letter that says, “Yes, I identified this problem and I designed a fix. And I inspected the fix and it’s done correctly and there’s nothing further to worry about.”
Because ultimately, if you go to sell your house, the buyers are going to bring up this issue. You want to have that sort of pedigree in your hand so that you can prove that it was a repair that, yes, was structural in nature but was repaired correctly. Does that make sense?
ROB: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a very interesting approach. I have one kink to throw at you and that is the wall-anchor system that’s installed was warrantied. And the owner of that company came out and said that he’ll warranty the system and he’s willing to put in three more anchors which, in my mind, is an admission of liability. Do I let him do that or do I need to get the structural engineer first?
TOM: Is this wall-anchor contractor a structural engineer?
ROB: I doubt it.
TOM: Stop the repair process. Get the engineer. If the engineer thinks that’s a good idea, then that’s a different story. But warrantying doesn’t necessarily mean we put more in. If the product failed and your walls continued to bow as a result, then his liability, depending on where these walls were when he first put the system in and guaranteed that they were going to stop the walls from buckling in, his liability could be significant.
But I would get the engineer in first and let’s get some good, impartial, expert advice here from somebody that does not have a system to sell you. I don’t want you to get advice from somebody – sometimes, contractors give you advice from people that – because they sell the system. “Yeah, you’ve got a problem? I’m just the guy to fix it for you, you know?” And that’s not really good, expert, independent advice.
So go to the engineer first, Rob, and then you can deal with the contractor issue after you have the information.
ROB: OK, great. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. What are you working on and what’s your how-to or décor question? Whatever it is, we can lend a hand. Give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.
TOM: And just ahead, do you want a cool cross-breeze without the bugs? We’ve got tips on retractable screens that give you the airflow without the unwanted side effects, next.
Making good homes better, this is 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 presented by HomeAdvisor.
And if you do, we’ve got a handy set of tools going out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement or décor question or one that posts it to MoneyPit.com, because we’re giving away the Arrow T50 Electric Staple Gun and Nailer, plus the Arrow Dual-Temperature Glue Gun, along with a supply of staples and other glue sticks. The package is worth 95 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random.
And these are two tools that are super useful for a lot of projects around the house, from crafts to repairs. And Arrow is featuring a very cool project this month at ArrowFastener.com. It’s a DIY patriotic flag. It’s a great project for the entire family. Very creative project, I might say, because the flag is made simply of wood shims all stapled and glued together. All the details – including the materials list, photos – are all online at ArrowFastener.com. Just click on Projects.
If you want to win the fabulous Dual-Temperature Glue Gun from Arrow and the Arrow T50 Electric Stapler, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kathleen in Illinois on the line and she’s got a question about a vaulted ceiling. What can we do for you?
KATHLEEN: I’m calling about a renovation project that we are trying to do on a three-season sun porch. And it’s a 12×27 room. We did tackle doing window replacement by ourselves and we managed to do that. They’re vinyl-clad windows, the tilt-in kind and everything. But the ceiling right now is 12-inch tiles that are – they seem to be glued up to the ceiling. They’re not on a grid system; they’re just up there. And we want to put faux-tin ceilings. And we’re wondering if that’s a project that we could tackle or is that something best left to professionals or – we’re looking for your advice.
But we had some damage from rain on the roof and we’ve had the roof replaced. But I even painted over where the water stains were with Zinsser Stain Stop. And you can still see the – it did not cover it, so we need to change the ceiling.
TOM: Hey, they make these tiles that are a drop-ceiling type of a tile that looks just like tin. Have you seen those, Kathleen?
KATHLEEN: Yes, we have. And we thought that those were very cool and we didn’t know – do you think just LIQUID NAILS or something to put it up over these existing tiles?
TOM: What’s underneath the tiles? Plywood sheathing?
KATHLEEN: I don’t know. It feels really solid when you push a …
TOM: I would try to figure out what’s underneath it. You could take some pieces of the old tiles apart, see how thick that is. I would prefer to have a mechanical attachment, like a staple or something like that, than just simply the glue. The glue is OK.
LESLIE: I mean I would use LIQUID NAILS and something else.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
KATHLEEN: Uh-huh. And you don’t think it would – I don’t want it to look uneven, you know, how they – you see sometimes those grid systems where the tiles kind of droop and sloop and look …
TOM: No, if it’s done really well, it looks great. We’ve seen them at really high-end décor showrooms, where you have some really upscale decorating done and they look fantastic.
KATHLEEN: OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project, Kathleen, and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Do the cooler evening temperatures draw you to the front or back porch? Or would you like to be able to open up your doors to the breeze whenever you can? Well, to enjoy those summer breezes and lower cooling costs without harsh sun or bugs, why don’t you consider adding a retractable screen?
TOM: Yeah, that’s a great idea. Retractable screens can roll out when you need them and then they can fit sort of neatly back into their hidden casing compartment when they’re not in use. They can also be customized for literally any size. If you have a window or a door, no problem. But they’re even available for very large spaces. The entire back porch can easily be transformed into a shady, screened-in porch when those bugs are on the hunt and then back into a complete, open-air porch when you’re ready for full sun.
The screens are also available to cover large doors, even the kind that swing in or out. So, there’s all sorts of screen configurations available. And they really work well to keep those insects away when you’re just trying to enjoy some very cool summer weather.
LESLIE: And what’s really neat is that the screens are completely customizable. There’s so many different styles. And the mesh itself can be customized by its color or even the tightness of the weave. So, so many choices when it comes to screen design.
TOM: And some of those screens are so well made today, they’re absolutely almost practically clear, right? You can see right through, so they don’t even obstruct your view very much.
888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. We would love to help.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to Minnesota where Mike has some issues keeping his shingles on the roof. What’s going on?
MIKE: Since we added on – actually rebuilt – an attached garage to the side of our house, I’ve got a different kind of shingle on there. The ones on the two-and-a-half-story home itself were not worn out and so I just left them. They’re the interlock-type shingles.
MIKE: And I haven’t had – I put those on originally, because we’re kind of out in the country and we live in a very windy part of the country.
TOM: Right, yeah. And I bet they stayed – that they stayed in really good shape because they were completely locked down.
MIKE: Oh, yeah. Yeah. The interlocks I have had no problems with. But we put the salted (ph), regular asphalt shingles on the new garage area. And I know they’re supposed to seal down with the tar strip and all that kind of stuff that’s underneath them but we get high winds. And almost every time we get this windstorm out of the northwest, up to 40-mile-an-hour winds, I get a few shingles that blow off.
And I’ve been up there (audio gap) re-nailing, re-tarring, replacing shingles and all that. And I can’t find the interlock shingles in our area anymore. And so the person that did the roofing for me last time used these regular ones. I was nervous about them then because I was afraid they weren’t going to hold up to the wind that we get. And I just didn’t know if you had any suggestion.
TOM: Well, at this point, the shingles are already down. So if you were to replace the roof, there are shingles that are specifically designed for storm-prone areas, hurricane areas and that sort of thing that can stand winds up to – up and over 100 miles an hour. The typical shingle is not.
Now, when you put the shingles on also seems to make an effect, have a difference. If you put the shingles on in the spring and they had a good, long summer to seal down, that seems to last a lot longer than if you put them on in the winter and they never quite got a chance to seal until the following summer.
One thing that you could do now – you may already be doing it – is are you putting dabs of asphalt roof cement underneath the shingles?
MIKE: I haven’t been up there and done that to every one of them but I’ve done a number of them myself in the areas where they seem to want to take the worst beating. And to be up there and put, you know, a dollop of asphalt tar or shingle cement or whatever under every one of them, no, I haven’t done that yet.
TOM: Does that work? Do the ones that you’ve cemented still peel off?
MIKE: No, I think those typically stay. But I usually put another nail or two in them, too, and then put the tar over the head of the nails to make sure that that …
TOM: Yeah, not the best technique but OK.
So, all I can suggest, at this point, is to put dabs of asphalt cement under the shingle tabs or just keep replacing them. But if it comes time to actually re-roof, you want to use a high wind-resistant shingle. It’s a specific type of shingle that will last to over 100 miles an hour.
MIKE: Is that – I mean is there a – is that just a generic name? It’s just a high wind-resistant shingle or what – is there a title?
TOM: They’re available from different manufacturers. But for example, Owens Corning has one that’s called Duration STORM. And the Duration STORM shingles are warrantied up to 130 miles per hour with only four nails per shingle. So, just so you know that these products do exist. But what you bought was just a typical roof shingle and that’s obviously not going to stand up to the kind of wind that you have.
But if you use a wind-resistant shingle with that kind of warranty, it’s built differently. There’s more layers of material, so the shingles don’t tear off. The adhesive is different, so it really grips tightly and it holds it together.
MIKE: Yeah, I was going to ask if it was extra-thick or something compared to a standard shingle.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a different type of shingle. It’s designed specifically for high winds. We see them a lot in our part of the country on the shore, where homes are subjected to really high winds off the ocean. But they’ll work anywhere.
MIKE: I suppose those would be special order from my home building center, huh?
TOM: It may be. They may be. But it’ll be worth it.
MIKE: Oh, I appreciate the advice.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you might think of ivy as a way to make your home look distinguished. But did you know that it can also wreak some serious structural havoc? Roger Cook from This Old House is standing by to explain why, in just a bit.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And hey, whether you are planning a décor project, a remodeling project, you want to work on your kitchen or your bath, you want to fix a leak, maybe a squeak, we are here for you every step of the way. Call in your question, right now, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Michelle in Iowa on the line who’s looking to spend some more time outdoors with a fire pit. How can we help with that project?
MICHELLE: Well, we started making an outside fire pit with fieldstone. And our mortar that we seem to be using, it just seems like it’s awful dry and it’s like it’s cracking. So, didn’t know if you had a different brand that you thought would work or any suggestions.
TOM: Well, one tip is that if it’s a really warm, dry day when you’re working, you might want to consider putting some plastic over the areas that you’re working on, to slow the evaporation rate. Because if it dries really quickly, sometimes it can shrink and crack.
MICHELLE: And no certain brand of mortar you think would work best as what the stores recommend for outside fireplaces?
TOM: Well, QUIKRETE works extremely well, so you could look to the QUIKRETE brand. And one of the advantages of QUIKRETE is they’ve also got lots and lots and lots of videos online that give you the step-by-step on how to properly mix the product, for example, in this case.
MICHELLE: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, ivy can look beautiful and really distinguished when it’s growing up an old stone wall. But the truth is ivy can do serious damage and it’s actually really tough to get rid of.
TOM: That’s right. Ivy can destroy masonry walls, it can harbor wood-damaging carpenter ants and even kill trees. There is a solution, however, and with us to talk about just that is our friend, Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House.
ROGER: Welcome. Did you know one of my first jobs was pruning the ivy around the windows at Harvard University?
TOM: Is that right?
ROGER: Yep. And …
TOM: It just seems right.
ROGER: Well, it’s all gone now; they took it all down. They got it all off their building.
TOM: There should be a plaque there with your name on it.
ROGER: No, not at all. Not at all.
TOM: But a little bit of ivy can be attractive and that is what we think of when we think of high – when we think of the Ivy League colleges, like Harvard, and the beautiful ivy growing up a stone wall. But the truth is that ivy can really get in and certainly damage not only masonry but even wood, more particularly.
ROGER: It’s aggressive. You have to understand that that’s its nature. And it climbs and it grows and it just keeps going. And it’s not going to stop until you interfere with that cycle.
TOM: Because ivy really has no natural predators, does it?
ROGER: Well, not predators. It’s just – it’s aggressive; it’s just going to grow. It grows great in this climate and it just grows and grows and grows.
LESLIE: I mean do you really need to remove it? Especially if you’ve got a masonry house or building. I understand with wood, if you’ve got carpenter ants but do you really have to take it down?
ROGER: Well, they’ve found that it can hurt the masonry joints in between brick and block, that it will become a problem over time.
LESLIE: Oh, it’ll start to sort of pick it out. It sucks onto it. I’ve seen it when you’ve started to take things down and you almost see a webbing shadowing of the base.
ROGER: Right. It’s a tendril on this particular plant that literally attaches itself. And if we could ever find out what that glue adhesive is …
LESLIE: You’d make millions.
ROGER: Oh, yeah, we’d retire on that, I tell you.
TOM: That’d be the next, best super glue.
LESLIE: Roger’s Ivy Glue.
TOM: Now, if we are removing it from wood siding and we have all those tendrils that are sticking behind, how do we make sure that there’s no seeds, so to speak, that’s going to sort of regrow? How do we actually cut off the water supply? How do we stop it from coming back up again?
ROGER: Cut it right at the base.
ROGER: And I guarantee that it’s going to put out sprouts. It’s that aggressive. So what you have to do is then treat those with an herbicide, probably, or just keep cutting them and cutting them and cutting them.
TOM: And then once you do cut them and pull it down off the building, do you have to physically sand away all those leftover tendrils?
ROGER: Sometimes you do. I would wait a season to see if they break down. But one important tip is when you’re pulling the vine off a tree, you’ve got to be very careful, because you can literally pull a branch down on yourself.
And when you’re pulling it off a house or a building, you want to take it and go up from the top and peel down. Because if you stand at the bottom and try to pull, if it’s underneath a clapboard or something like that, you could literally pop it right off the house.
LESLIE: Because it’s so firmly attached.
ROGER: Because that’s the way it grew up; it grew up underneath. So if you go at the top and start peeling it down from the top, it comes off easily without pulling the – anything off the building.
LESLIE: Now, what about when you’re applying an herbicide to an ivy plant? I understand you have to do it in a method very different from a spray application, just so it’ll actually work, right?
ROGER: Well, it’s much easier to take a brush or a foam paintbrush, mix up an herbicide in a can, attach that brush to a long stick. Then you can dip it, go along and just treat the leaves of the ivy. Because usually, they’re in a plant bed and if you go spraying with an herbicide in a plant bed, you’re going to have problems. And this allows you to hit those new leaves; just coat them really quickly as they come up.
TOM: And Roger, if you are peeling the ivy down from your house, say, starting at the top and working down, that can be quite dangerous. Any tips for making that a little bit safer?
ROGER: Yeah, always use a ladder with the stabilizers on the side. It really helps keep you secure. Always have someone with you when you’re up on the ladder.
TOM: Now, that’s one of the large, U-shaped brackets that extend beyond the ladder and make it really hard for it to sort of wobble.
ROGER: Right. And while you’re doing that, you may be able to take a scraper or something and try to get rid of some of those tendrils and see if they come off easily when they’re green. Sometimes, when they dry on, they’re even harder to get off.
LESLIE: So is there a better time of year to sort of attack this removal, based on its growth cycle or just whenever you feel motivated?
ROGER: Whenever you’ve got a few hours to spend on the top of a ladder, go for it.
TOM: Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: Good luck with your ivy.
TOM: And I think we’re going to talk to Harvard about that plaque.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a step-by-step video on Roger’s ivy-removal tips from Harvard University, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: I’m pretty sure the plaque is there but it’s covered by ivy.
And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Gorilla Glue.
Just ahead, a leaking shower pan is a project that can wreak real havoc in your home, not only causing structural damage but replacing it, well, that can shut down the entire bath when it’s time for that repair. We’re going to share some tips on how to get that project done, in today’s Pro Project, after this.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
And here’s a great reason to reach out to us by phone or post your question to the Community section. I mean besides the awesome advice we’re going to hand out and help you get your project done, we’ve got a great prize this hour. Up for grabs, we’ve got two great tools from Arrow. They’re giving away the Arrow T50 Electric Staple Gun and Nailer, plus the Arrow Dual-Temperature Glue Gun, along with a supply of staples and glue sticks. And it’s a prize package worth $95.
Now, Arrow is a long-time standing U.S. company, which we love because they manufacture everything right in New Jersey, which is basically in Tom’s backyard. But what I really love most about Arrow is that they make these fantastic tools and then they help you use them.
So maybe you’re wondering, “How do I use this and how do I use the glue gun?” Well, go to ArrowFastener.com and there’s a project section. And right now, they’re featuring a really beautiful DIY patriotic flag. It’s a great project for the entire family. All the details – including the materials list, photos – right there online at ArrowFastener.com. Just click on Projects.
And there’s so many other projects online. It’s a great prize pack up for grabs, so give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: David in Delaware is on the line with an HVAC conundrum. What is going on at your money pit?
DAVID: I’ve been in this house for 29 years. I was the original owner. And I live in a two-story house. And on the second story, I’ve always had two roofs that were too hot in the summertime and too cold in the wintertime. So the first thing I did to the whole house was replace all the windows. It didn’t help it. Three years ago, I replaced my heat pump and got a bigger unit. Helped it out a little bit but not a whole lot.
And then after I got my solar panels, the guys came in and did a leak test on my house. And they said the house is good and tight but the guys said that most of your cold-air return is being sucked up in the basement. So I’ve got some big-time leaks down there. So, after looking around down there, the guy also clued me into that my cold-air return ducts they used or they did back in the day – your studs going up through the walls and the rafters in the basement …
TOM: Right. They used that as the duct itself. It basically used the stud bay as the duct.
DAVID: So where I found my problem to be is the main trunk of the cold-air return. They just kind of cut a great, big hole in it. And then they raised the trunk up to the floor joists. Well, I’ve got gaping holes up where the trunk does not hit the joists. And that’s on four different joists that I need to try to seal that up. And it’s in a bad spot to get to. And I was wondering, do you have any ideas?
TOM: So, yeah, first of all, duct sealing itself and leaky ducts are responsible for probably more energy loss than almost anything else in a forced-air system. Now, there’s a number of ways that you can attack this. You can do it sort of structurally and mechanically, where you try to get to every one of these ducts and try to repair it so it doesn’t have the leaks. Or you can do it with a product called Aeroseal.
Aeroseal is a product that’s sprayed into the duct system and basically sticks to the inside of the ducts, completely sealing them. And it’s designed to basically look for the gaps and then build up where the air is escaping in those gaps. And it makes the entire system much more efficient.
There’s a great video on this on ThisOldHouse.com. If you Google “This Old House” and “Aeroseal” – A-e-r-o-s-e-a-l – you’ll find that video. And you can kind of understand the whole story.
But basically, once it’s applied, it completely seals both the return and the supply ducts. And it might be just the ticket that you need to get this house working again. Because you’re right: if you don’t have proper air returns – you know, heating-and-cooling systems work not by just dumping cold air or warm air into the room, they work by recirculating air. Because it takes many passes of that air through the room to get it to the temperature that you want it to be. And if they’re full of holes, it’s just not going to work right.
So, take a look at Aeroseal. I think that might be the solution to your problem.
DAVID: And on your online thing, it’ll show how do apply it and how to do it?
TOM: It’s professionally applied. It’s not a do-it-yourself project. It requires special tools.
DAVID: Oh, professionally.
TOM: Yeah. And you’re better off doing it that way. This way, you know that it’s done right and all of those gaps are sealed. But I think it’ll make a big difference.
DAVID: I appreciate your help.
LESLIE: Well, if your shower pan starts to leak, replacing it quickly can stop structural damage. But if you don’t get the right pro on the job, it can also be a project that impacts the function of your bath for days.
TOM: Now, the first step is to actually confirm that the pan is really leaking. Easy trick of the trade to figure that out. What you need to do is cover the drain – you do that with a washcloth or a towel – and then fill the shower-pan area up with water. Just be careful not to overfill that pan. Once that’s done, if it leaks, the shower pan will most likely need to be replaced. If it doesn’t leak, then the leak is probably coming through the caulk or the grout or someplace else, maybe even the plumbing drain. But if the shower pan, once covered, leaks, it’s time to replace it.
LESLIE: Now, if the pan is fiberglass, that can be a fairly quick process. But if the floor of the shower is tile, it’s very likely the pan is made of lead, which is a lot more complicated to fix.
TOM: Now, in either case, the tile walls need to be removed above the pan. And the old pan needs to be torn out to make room for the new pan.
Now, if that shower pan is fiberglass, here’s one more pro trick. To make sure it doesn’t flex after it’s installed, pros will pour a loose mix of mortar under that pan and then press it down into that loose mortar. Once the mortar dries, it actually serves as sort of a backstop and that protects the pan from future flexing. And it prevents the stress cracks that may have caused the leak, that you’re trying to get rid of, in the first place.
LESLIE: Hey, you’ve got a window at home that’s all fogged up? You know it’s pretty tough to see through but is that window tough to fix, as well? We’re going to tell you, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And The Money Pit is presented by HomeAdvisor.com, where you can find top-rated home improvement pros you can trust. Call in your question, right now, or 24/7 to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Or you can post your question online in the Community section, just like Ted did. Now, Ted in New Jersey writes: “I have a double-pane window that’s fogged up inside. I wanted to know if it’s possible to clean it.”
TOM: Well, it’s not possible to repair it because what’s happened is the seal, which is between the two panes of glass, has actually leaked. It’s let in condensation, it’s let in moisture and then that condensation has dried to the inside of the glass.
The good news is that even though the thermal-pane seal has failed, it’s probably not affected its energy efficiency all that much. So if you’re just concerned about losing energy, probably not worth the fix. If you do want to replace it, though, because you need to see through it, yeah, then you’ve got to take the window apart and have a new replacement pane made.
So, not possible to clean but not affecting its energy efficiency.
LESLIE: I mean it’s terribly annoying because it’s like you’re looking at it and you want to fix it and you just can’t without actually replacing. So I feel your pain there, Ted.
Alright. Caroline is next up and she writes: “We installed a one-piece tub/shower in our basement about a year ago, as well as linoleum flooring. Already, the linoleum is rolling up where it meets the tub. What’s the best product to use to hold it down? We don’t want to use quarter round due to the moisture but we worry that caulking isn’t going to do the job.”
TOM: Well, you’re probably right that caulking won’t do the job. Basement bathrooms are great but they’re definitely apt to have more moisture than bathrooms that are on the first or second floor. So, I would steer away from trying to accomplish the repair with just adhesive.
Now, quarter round or shoe molding really is the best way to go. But if you’re concerned about the moisture, why not use composite molding instead? Composite molding is great. It looks just like wood. It cuts like wood. It paints like wood. But it will not rot when it’s exposed to moisture, because it’s not organic.
So it’s a really good solution to a situation like this, when you’re in a damp area and you’re worried about the exposure to the water, you want to deal with more mold or rot but you do need a positive sort of mechanical way to keep that floor intact down around the edge of the tub. Just go with the composite shoe or quarter-round molding and then nail it or screw it in place.
LESLIE: That’s really going to do the trick. It’s tough. You’re right: basements are just so moist that it’s difficult. And you’re so lucky to have that basement bath. It opens up so many opportunities for how you can better use that space for you and your family.
Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Jack in Georgia who writes: “My plaster ceilings are really deteriorated.” That’s a hard word. “Can I put drywall over them or am I asking for a moisture problem?”
TOM: Oh, I don’t think you’re going to have any moisture problems. And actually, when you have deteriorated plaster walls or ceilings, your choices are to completely tear them out, down to the framing. But that means you’re taking off – and if it’s really old plaster, the loose plaster, then the wood lath that was tacked to the framing. And you’ll find that the framing is not completely in plane either; it’s not completely flat. So even if you tack the drywall right to that, it might not be even.
So putting another layer of drywall on top of the old plaster is a really good solution. And it certainly will not lead to any moisture issues. In fact, you could even use 3/8-inch drywall, because you don’t need ½-inch drywall. You just kind of have to pack out – move the electrical boxes out so that they – so that there’s room for the cover plates to go back on, as well as any window or door molding.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? You have to take care of it because the plaster ceiling, when it’s ready to quit, it’s just going to end up on the floor.
TOM: And it’s really heavy.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope we’ve given you some great tips and ideas to help you with your projects and answered your questions. If you’ve got more questions, remember we’re available, 24/7, at MoneyPit.com. Just post your question to the Community page.
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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(Copyright 2018 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.)