In this episode…
If you’ve been enjoying a garden harvest this summer and would like to extend the goodness of all year long, preserving your fresh veggies is the way to do it. We’ll walk you through 3 options for preserving your harvest! Plus…
- It’s a great time of year for outdoor projects and if you want to step up your space, we’ve got tips on the easiest and most affordable way to create grill surrounds, fire pits, benches and more by simply stacking blocks.
- Sidewalks can get slippery, but not if you treat those sidewalks with a simple coating. Tips on a concrete treatment that protects you and loved ones from falls, coming up.
- Temperatures are nice now, but in a few months, you’ll want nothing less than to have to bundle up, head outdoors and deal with a home improvement problem in the dead of winter. We’ve got a few easy fix-ups you can take on now that can potentially save you a major repair hassle later.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, hiring an engineer, roof underlayment products, eliminating chipmunks, energy saving windows, installing attic insulation, relocating downspouts to eliminate flooding.
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: And what are you doing on this warm August weekend? If you are thinking about working on a project around your house, I’d recommend you work inside your house with your A/C on, because it’s getting ridiculously hot.
LESLIE: Very true.
TOM: Unless you start at the super-early part of the morning, you can get something done. I went out to the gym today and I was out of the house about 6:00 a.m. And I saw there was a guy trimming his bushes at about 6:15 in the morning. I’m like, “That guy’s smart.” He got up early to get this done because …
LESLIE: Yeah, except the neighbors are mad.
TOM: And actually, it was electric shears. It wasn’t really that bad.
LESLIE: Wasn’t too loud?
TOM: No. But I mean by the time it gets to around 8:00 or 9:00, it’s almost too hot to do those outside projects. But if you’ve got a project that you’re doing or planning to do and you’ve got questions, well, that’s why we’re here. We’re here to help cheer you on, give you some tips, some advice on how to get it done as easy as possible. But you’ve got to help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’ve been enjoying a garden harvest this summer and you’d like to extend that goodness all year long, preserving your fresh veggies is the best way to do just that. We’re going to walk you through three options for preserving your harvest, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And it’s a great time of year for outdoor projects if you want to step up your space. We’ve got some tips on the easiest and most affordable ways that you can create grill surrounds, fire pits, benches, all these wonderful outdoor projects simply by stacking blocks.
TOM: And with all of the water that we’re spraying on our sidewalks or splashing over the pool edges, sidewalks and patios can get pretty slippery. But if you treat those spaces with a simple coating, you can definitely increase the safety factor. We’re going to have tips on how to apply that coating and get those surfaces protected, in a bit.
LESLIE: But first, The Money Pit is all about what you guys are working on. So give us a call, let us know what projects are happening at your house and we’ll give you a hand. We’re happy to hear all about it. We even want to see photos, so don’t forget to post them on Money Pit’s Facebook page. Just get to us. We’d love to lend a hand.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Don in Illinois is on the line with a foundation question. What’s going on at your money pit?
DON: Yes. I’ve got an old farmhouse. They started building it back in the 1800s and the foundation is red brick on a crawlspace. And it’s sinking in one area real bad. And I had a guy tell me that I – because I can’t dig a footing tier because there’s an old system back here, also. He said that I could pour a large pad, go underneath the house and come out and make it like a sidewalk along the edge of the house and then pour – actually pour – the wall up as high as I could and then possibly either put, as a last row, a block in. Is that possible to do something like that?
TOM: Maybe, maybe not. You’re talking about a major structural piece of work here, Don. And the problem with this is – I’m going to presume you’re not a licensed structural engineer. If you start doing this kind of work on your own and then sometime in the future you want to sell this house and you’ve not had the right kind of professionals involved in this kind of a major repair, that’s going to be a huge red flag. That could make it very difficult for you to sell the house.
I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector, Don. And when I saw houses like this that had these kind of issues, I always recommended that the homeowner spend a little bit of money to have an engineer look at it and design a specific repair for that situation. Because this way, when you go to sell the house and if it becomes an issue, you can show that you had a professional review it and tell you exactly what to do and then you took action on that. And you can even have them come back and sort of certify that it was done right. Then you end up having sort of a pedigree on the quality of that repair, because this is not something to do yourself and get wrong. You could make it worse and you can devalue your house in a very major way.
DON: That’s what I was kind of wondering. It sounded kind of farfetched to me, in a way, and I was just like, “Well, I’ve been listening to you guys. I’m going to give it a shot, give you a call and see what you guys have got to say.”
TOM: Yeah. We’re glad you did and that will get you on the road to recovery, OK?
DON: OK. I know a couple engineers. I’ll see if I can get one out here. I appreciate the information.
TOM: You’re welcome, Don. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Judy in Missouri is on the line with a roofing question. How can we help you today?
JUDY: Yes, I was wondering if you had ever heard of – had a roof repair a few years ago and it’s been leaking ever since. They used what they called Tam-Shield. It’s a synthetic underlayment.
TOM: Yeah, mm-hmm.
JUDY: And it’s plastic and they used that instead of felt paper.
TOM: Yeah, right. It’s synthetic. And it’s actually an upgrade to standard, 15-pound felt paper. And it’s actually better than using standard felt paper under a roof.
The reason that your roof is leaking now is probably not because of the Tam-Shield; it’s probably because of something that went wrong with the repair. But I don’t think it would have been the underlayment, because that’s actually pretty good stuff.
How is it leaking, Judy? Tell me about the leak.
JUDY: Well, we really don’t know. It comes through in our bathroom and we get up in the attic and we can see drips. But they can’t seem to pinpoint it. They worked on it several times and they just can’t get it to go away.
TOM: Alright. Usually, if your roof is leaking above your bathroom – there’s a pipe that goes through the ceiling right there and up through the roof and it’s the plumbing-vent pipe. And right around that vent pipe, there’s like a rubber boot that seals that pipe between the pipe and the roof itself. And then there’s flashing that goes around that. That’s the most common place for a roof leak when you have it leak right above a bathroom.
Now, a lot of times, contractors will try to sort of tar that in place but that’s a bad idea. What I would recommend is to take out the plumbing-vent flashing. And you can do that easily by removing a few shingles in that area.
Roof shingles are actually pretty easy to disassemble if you know kind of a trick of the trade. I like to do it with a flat bar that you can slip up under the roof shingle, find the nail and sort of pry it from side to side and it’ll pop right out. And then you replace that plumbing-vent flashing and put it back together again and make sure you put everything in the right order so it – the roofing lays on top of the flashing. That usually stops that leak.
JUDY: But you – but leave the vent pipes there?
TOM: Oh, yeah. The vent pipe is there for an important reason. You’re going to start having problems flushing your toilet and all your sinks are going to start to gurgle if you take that out. But replace the plumbing-vent flashing there, OK?
JUDY: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Judy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: James in Virginia is on the line with a ceiling-fan question. What’s going on at your money pit?
JAMES: I live in a 1986 two-story ranch and we do not have overhead lighting in any of the bedrooms and there’s no lighting fixtures. And we want to add ceiling fans, so I was wondering how difficult it would be to do that in the bedrooms.
TOM: It’s not terribly difficult but it’s not terribly easy either. I would say that it would be very easy for an electrician to do that because they have the tools necessary to get the wiring where it needs to go. It’s kind of hard for a DIYer to do that.
And the other important thing about a ceiling fan is you need to make sure you use the right type of electrical connection in that ceiling so that you have some support on that fan. Because it gets very heavy and it also vibrates sometimes. So you need to have the right connection for the fan to the ceiling and of course, the wiring has to be in place.
Now, electricians can fish wires through there. There’s a couple of tricks of the trade that they use. They have these sort of long, skinny fiberglass rods that can be run in the space between ceiling joists to run wires where they need to be. But what I would do is if you’re thinking about maybe doing this in a couple of rooms, I would sort of pile those jobs together. Because there’s sort of a mobilization cost when you hire a pro for a small project like that. And maybe try to get all of your electrical work done at the same time.
Now, with a 1986 house, you might also want to find out if you’ve got ground-fault circuit interrupters protecting the bathroom and the kitchen outlets. That would be another easy thing to add to that to-do list that will protect you from shocks.
JAMES: OK. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your help and I love your show. Listen to it all the time.
TOM: Yeah. Good luck with that project and with all the work you’re doing to your new house. Call us back anytime, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve been enjoying a garden harvest this summer, now really is a good time to learn about ways that you can preserve those veggies into the cold weather ahead. And there are three ways that you can do that.
Now, first of all, the most simple method is to simply freeze your harvest. Now, you might have to have a big freezer or perhaps a second one, depending on how big of a haul you’ve gardened this season. But when you’re doing something, you need to think about the taste preference when it comes to freezing a vegetable over, you know, canning it or just eating it fresh. So now, frozen corn definitely tastes different than canned corn.
And all you need to do to freeze these veggies is a pot to blanch that veggie in, freezer bags or even a freezer container. And you can look online to find different times for blanching those fruits and vegetables, because it’s a certain amount of time for each kind. But we could go on forever as to that so you can just Google a chart there.
TOM: Now, the next way to preserve is called “canning.” And canning food preservation involves basically preserving food in jars with special lids. Getting started is pretty simple. Most people are going to start out with water-bath canners and canning high-acid foods like pickles and salsas and jellies and jams. Low-acid foods – like green beans, corn, soup or meats – require a pressure canner, so there’s a little bit more of an investment in equipment. But neither method is hard; it just takes some getting used to and understanding the differences between the high and the low-acid foods.
LESLIE: Now, another option is dehydrating the food. Now, dehydration of fruits and vegetables really is a great way to preserve them and it helps you save space. Now, when you dehydrate food, it’s going to shrink and then you can store it in an airtight container. The thing you have to remember, though, is you need to rehydrate that vegetable with water when you’re ready to use them. And then you’re good to go. And you can use your oven but to do it right, you really do need a dehydrator, which isn’t too expensive because it’s really all about a lower temperature at consistent amount of time and removing the moisture, which you can get in your oven, but it’s – it takes a little practice.
TOM: Yeah. And once you start canning and freezing and branch out beyond the basics, you could do soups and meatballs and chili and chicken. I’ll tell you what we’re going to give a try this year and that is tomatoes. We have an abundance of tomatoes.
LESLIE: Are you going to make a sauce?
TOM: I’m not quite sure what products we’re going to do. Probably sauce, maybe some salsa with the tomatoes. But we planted the tomatoes with the idea being that they would sort of come in slowly across the season. But now, once again, we got a huge harvest; they’re growing everywhere now and we’re just starting to get used to eating them. So we’re going to end up with a ton of tomatoes. I hate to throw them away.
And I haven’t given a lot away and I’ve done that in past years. But I think we’re going to try to canning now because we’re spending so much more time at home. It might be the right time to do just that.
LESLIE: Yeah. So, we have some good friends in town who are Italian and grow a ton of tomatoes. And at the end of every summer, they have a big pasta sauce-making party. And if you’re invited over to go, you assist in all of the process of making the sauce, jarring it, preserving it. I mean it’s an all-day affair with the biggest pot I’ve ever seen in my life to make sauce. And it’s all outside. But the bonus is if you volunteer for the day, essentially, you go home with a bunch of sauce.
TOM: You take home your sauce?
LESLIE: So it’s totally worth it.
TOM: Awesome. Of course, if it was my Italian family, there’d be 30 people in the kitchen and we can’t do that anymore. So, I’m afraid it’s going to be a …
LESLIE: No, they do – it’s outside.
TOM: Oh, it’s outside. I see.
LESLIE: We’ve always done it outside at our friends’ house. They put a big burner outside with the hugest pot.
TOM: But you’ve got to maintain your social distances, you know, family gatherings or not. But good tip. Really fun thing to try. And if you’ve enjoyed having a garden, so many more folks have been gardening this year and finding other ways to improve their home’s spaces. Canning is definitely the next step.
LESLIE: Linda in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LINDA: Well, I had an old garage torn down, so I had a prior cement pad. And I had a steel building put up. I have gaps now from – the steel building is not – the metal is more like a corrugated – it’s got a little ripple in it? And where it meets the floor and they put a 2×4 base around the inside to screw the metal to it, well, I’m getting chipmunks in there and everything like that in between. What can I use to seal it but still keep it so when the cold weather comes, it expands like it needs to?
TOM: You must be having some pretty big gaps there if the chipmunks are getting into that.
TOM: How much space are we talking about?
LINDA: Some spots it’s not very big at all. But some it’s like maybe 2 or 3 inches high.
TOM: Oh, wow.
LINDA: Because the cement pad was not really leveled or throughout the years, too, it could have sunk down in certain areas. I don’t know whether to put another board …
TOM: Yeah. So, listen, if you’ve got 2 or 3 inches of gaps, you’re going to have to add some additional sort of siding-type materials to cover that gap. You could actually use additional galvanized metal and form it to fit in that space.
If you have smaller gaps, those could be filled with, say, spray-foam insulation or you could use steel wool. Sometimes, when we’re trying to plug up little gaps, especially when it comes to rodent prevention, I’ll have folks put steel wool in there that they are not apt to chew through. But you can’t have a gap that big and not expect those types of animals to get by.
LINDA: Awesome. I’ll try that: the steel wool and the foam.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Linda. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David in Massachusetts is on the line and is installing an outdoor shower to a deck. How can we help you?
DAVID: We’re having a raised deck put on the back of our home. It’s going to be about 22 inches off the ground. And it’s going to be 12×30-ish. Anyhow, there’s going to be a shower along the – about halfway down the length. And it’ll be up against the house.
And I was kind of curious whether the water is just going to go through the floorboards into the AZEK material. So it’s not going to rot anything but – and pressure-treated floor joists. So, the bottom of the floor joists will be about 10, 12 inches off the ground. And I didn’t know whether the water coming from the shower going down should be diverted away from the house a little bit or if it doesn’t matter.
TOM: So, is this going to be kind of like a beach shower, just for sort of quick showering off when you come back from the beach or the lake?
TOM: So, you’re not going to be taking real long showers out there. It’s certainly – the deck’s going to be slippery because of this. But underneath, what you might want to do is just put in a drain using sort of a stone base and then a perforated drainpipe. And then run that – pitch that up away from the house so that water that gets in there doesn’t end up back into the basement or crawlspace, depending on what your structure is. But since you’re not putting a lot of water there, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I think, generally, those outside showers are pretty quick.
Is it going to be a shower stall or is it just going to be an open shower where you’re standing on the deck to wash off?
DAVID: No, it’s a shower stall. Actually, there’d be a little dressing area and a little shower area.
TOM: Yeah. If you’re going to do that, why don’t you just put a drain in it? I mean if you’re going to go with the whole stall – I thought it was just going to be kind of a shower sticking out of the back wall of the house. Put a drain in it and run the pipe under the deck and just discharge it away from the house somewhere.
DAVID: Are you talking about putting a shower floor in?
TOM: Yeah, yeah, pan – the shower pan. Yep. If it’s going to have a stall, you might as well have a pan. Sit it right on top of the deck and then put a drain in it and run it right out. That’s what I’d do.
DAVID: OK. It may be a little late for that now because they’ve already gotten – all the joists are in place and we’re ready for the …
TOM: Well, no. The joists are in place, that’s OK because it’s going to sit on top. So that shouldn’t affect anything. Just a little bit of plumbing work is what you need here.
DAVID: Alright. Well, I can discuss it with the contractor.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steve in Pennsylvania needs some help with a building project.
I love that you’re planning and you’ve asked us to help. What’s going on, Steve?
STEVE: Yeah. I have a small summer cabin at Lake Tahoe and the deck was built in the early 60s. And the step-up from the deck into the cabin is a stretch. So I was wanting to put a stoop or a landing or step, or whatever you want to call it, on top of the deck to help make the step-up into the cabin a little less severe. So, I was looking at maybe something about 54 inches wide and 6 to 7 inches tall but I didn’t – I don’t know how deep to make that step.
TOM: When you say deep to make the step, you mean what’s the tread depth when you put your foot on it?
TOM: So, what are you going to build it out of?
STEVE: I was just going to put in wood. Everything else is wood up there.
TOM: So I would just use a 2×12 for that step. Why not make a nice, big, deep step? You could use a 2×10. Most steps are narrower than that. But I think a 2×12, which is 11½ inches, would be fine.
STEVE: So 12 inches deep from the edge of the cabin door to the edge of the deck.
TOM: So, it’s just one step basically between the deck and the cabin doors. Is that correct, that you want to put in?
TOM: So I would make it a 2×12. Why not? It’s about 11½ inches deep and that’ll be fine.
STEVE: Well, thank you very much for your help. You have a great day.
LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to improve your outdoor space by adding an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, a grill enclosure, planters or even a bench, there’s a really easy way that you can do that and it’s by using a product called RumbleStone. Now, RumbleStone is made by Pavestone and they’re rustic-looking stones that come in project kits. And you simply stack them together, like a LEGO project, in a predetermined pattern to build all sorts of popular outdoor features.
Now, the idea of using a modular block design makes it fast and affordable for you to upgrade your backyard space, with amenities like an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, a bench. And they can be truly beautiful. And you can also use them in place of a traditional paver to do a project like a patio or even a wall or a landscape border.
TOM: Yeah, I love the RumbleStone design. It’s a really attractive addition to your outdoor-living space. And if you’d like to learn about projects like this, there’s even a step-by-step video of a beautiful outdoor kitchen. It’s topped with a QUIKRETE concrete countertop and it’s available online. Just Google “RumbleStone BBQ project.” “RumbleStone BBQ project.” You’ll find it right away and you’ll get those instructions.
And if you’d like to learn a little bit more about all the projects that you can build with Pavestone’s RumbleStone, visit Pavestone.com. And look for the RumbleStone videos under the How-To Guide tab.
LESLIE: Margaret, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MARGARET: Yes. I’d like to know what I can do about my popcorn ceilings. They’re getting dirty. They’re 20 years old.
LESLIE: Well, there’s a couple of solutions. Do you like them and want to keep them? Or you just want them to not look so dingy?
MARGARET: I would not rather – I would not like to keep them no more.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, generally, with popcorn ceiling, if it’s truly a popcorn ceiling and not a texturized stucco, what you can do to remove it is you can get one of those garden sprayers or those light-duty paint sprayers. Put water in it and you spray the ceiling to sort of saturate the popcorn. And then you take a wide spackle blade – as wide as the one you can find – and you sort of gently start peeling away at the popcorn ceiling – at the popcorn texture, I should say, from the ceiling.
And that generally does a pretty good job. Because if you’ve ever tried to paint it, if you don’t have the right roller, when it gets wet, it starts to peel away from the ceiling. So by getting it wet, you’re being able to remove it. You just want to make sure, with your blade or your scraper, that you’re not digging into the drywall below it. Because keep in mind whatever’s left underneath there is what you’re going to paint and then see.
MARGARET: OK. How do I go about cleaning if I decide to just go ahead and keep this?
LESLIE: Well, you wouldn’t clean it. You would paint over it.
MARGARET: Oh, no. No.
TOM: Yeah, there’s actually a special roller for that. It’s like a slitted roller. It’s a very thick roller that’s got slits in it and it’s designed to squeeze the paint into that popcorn area. And that’s exactly why I would do it. I would paint it. It’s going to look a lot better than cleaning it. You just can’t clean that stuff. There’s nothing cleanable about a popcorn ceiling. You’ve got to paint over it.
Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading to Nebraska now where Ellie is on the line with a window question. What can we do for you today?
ELLIE: I’m replacing a window in the lower level of our home and I was wondering if you had an opinion as to what would be the best material for the window. Vinyl? Wood? Composite?
TOM: What kind of a window do you have there now? Is it a standard sort of double-hung window?
ELLIE: No. It’s actually five windows in one. It’s 9 foot by 3 foot.
TOM: Oh, that’s a big job. Yeah. My first point would be that you need to make sure you’re buying an energy-efficient window. Because with a space that big, you want to make sure that you’re using well-insulated glass. So I would only buy one that was ENERGY STAR-rated.
TOM: And you want to make sure that the glass is going to have a low-emissivity coating or a low-E coating, because what that does is that reflects the sunlight back out so that it doesn’t overheat your house. Otherwise, you’re going to heat that space up like a big, old greenhouse with a 9-foot window.
In terms of the material itself, I think outside the house, you want something that’s very, very weatherproof, like vinyl. And inside the house, depending on the window you buy, it can be wood or it could be vinyl. So if you look at a window like an Andersen window, they have beautiful windows that are wood on the inside and vinyl on the outside. It kind of gives you the best of both worlds. But again, there are many different types of manufacturers out there. The most important thing is not as much the material but the certification, to make sure that it’s an efficient window that’s going to perform well for you and last a long, long time.
ELLIE: We will look for those energy ratings then.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kevin in Rhode Island has a question about keeping a basement dry. What can we do for you?
KEVIN: I removed the downspout extension that took the water away, maybe, 3 feet from the foundation.
KEVIN: And I replaced it, because someone said it didn’t look good. I replaced it with a cement kind of water carry-away, which is 2 feet. And I noticed I have some water in the basement. So, it’s very damp. It’s damp is what it is.
KEVIN: So I put a little crushed rock at the end of the extension, hoping that that would maybe help out on the water dispersing down or something.
TOM: Yeah, that’s not going to do anything except prevent erosion. If you want to make your basement drier, you’ve got to move the moisture away from it. You were on the right track with the downspout extension.
Now, if you don’t want to see that, you might want to explore the possibility of running your leader into a solid PVC pipe and running that underground. But it has to be pitched and then discharged somewhere. So it depends on kind of the shape of your property as to whether or not you could make that happen.
But I would rather see those downspouts extended away from the foundation wall than deal with the water that can accumulate in the basement as a result.
KEVIN: Good idea.
TOM: Alright, Kevin. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, just imagine that you’re walking into your house from the driveway or up the sidewalk. And of course, as we all do, your hands are full, you’ve got kids’ backpacks or groceries. Everything’s in your arms. You’re just overloaded and then bam, you slip and fall with the kids’ stuff and the eggs and the milk. Now it’s all over the sidewalk.
You know, concrete surfaces do get slippery and I’m not talking about only in the winter months. They often get covered with a thin layer of moss or algae in the summertime that makes them super slippery and even so all year round.
TOM: And that’s why we’ve got tips on how to update your sidewalks and driveways to make those surfaces slip-resistant, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Well, to cut the chances of tumbling on your own turf, you can have a pro apply a treatment that’s designed to prevent falls to those concrete surfaces. Now, it’s called a “textured-acrylic concrete coating.” And it not only provides a non-slip finish to those concrete surfaces, it does give it a new-look finish, changing it from that dull, old concrete, as well.
TOM: Yeah, the textured-acrylic concrete coating is actually a very heavy-duty resin that adheres very well to any concrete surface. So we’re talking about steps or sidewalks or patios or driveways or pool surrounds. And if your home has a handicap ramp, it’s a great way to improve the safety of that surface, as well.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.
TOM: That’s right. It doesn’t matter what the project is, they make it fast and easy to find top local pros for your project.
LESLIE: Plus, now they offer clear, up-front pricing on over a hundred everyday projects. To get started, just download the HomeAdvisor app today.
Jeff in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JEFF: I want to add some insulation into the attic of my old, old house that I just bought last year. And I don’t know which way I should go with either the loose fill or the batt. I want to do it myself to save money but the loose fill – I’m kind of uncomfortable with all the weird conduits and outlet boxes and stuff that are up there in the attic. It’s a walk-up attic and we have a little bit of storage area up there. I don’t know if stapling the rolls up against the roof is – I don’t know what’s going to give me the best R-value and time value and money value, obviously, for …
TOM: Alright. So first of all, let’s talk about where the insulation goes. This attic is unfinished, correct? It’s not a sleeping space, is it?
JEFF: Yes. Correct.
TOM: So the attic is not – the insulation, in this case, does not go up against the rafters. The attic – the insulation goes on the floor, what you would call the “floor of the attic” when you’re standing in it.
TOM: Now, is there a wood floor across the entire attic surface now?
JEFF: Not the entire attic, no.
TOM: There’s not? So it’s open beams there, right? You can look down into the – see the ceiling below?
JEFF: No. It’s got the rolls in between there. But like I said, we have a storage area, which is the center of it that has plywood down on top.
TOM: OK. That’s actually perfect. So, here’s what I think you should do. I would buy unfaced fiberglass batts and just like the word says, unfaced means no paper face, no vapor-barrier face. It’s just plain, old fiberglass batts.
Now, you lay these down perpendicular to the floor joist, so not parallel to but perpendicular. And you would lay these across the entire attic floor except for the area that you want to reserve for storage.
So this is an easy way to kind of, say, double or more than double the amount of insulation that’s there but still saving that storage space. Because once you put this down, it’s actually going to be higher than the thickness of the floor joist and you can’t crush insulation. If you crush it, it doesn’t work. So that’s why it has to sit on top. So if you were to put like 10 or 12-inch batts down like that, you would have a dramatic increase in energy efficiency.
JEFF: Woah. That’s not a bad idea. I like that. OK. Great. Thanks so much for your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Jeff. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Charles from Long Beach, New York has written in who says, “I live in a barrier-island sandbar. The house was built on a cement slab. Now, the slab has cracked and has resulted in an uneven floor peaking in the middle at some points. What options do I have?”
TOM: Well, if you live on a barrier island on a house …
LESLIE: Tom, this area was devastated from Sandy, so he’s probably on all-new build. And who knows what happened to the ground?
TOM: Yeah, I know. Well, we don’t know that it’s a new build. I mean it may be the old build. The thing is that with that kind of a – with soil, you’ve got to be built on – it’s got to be a pier system that’s reinforced. So even if it’s a slab on grade, which I doubt, it’s got to have a pier system so the concrete isn’t basically sitting on the soil; it’s being supporting by pilings that are in the soil. If it’s an old house, yeah, you may be in that situation but anything that’s rebuilt would be up.
I tell you, in this case, regardless, Charles, I would definitely have an expert look at it because I can’t give you advice. Only to say that that is a big concern when you’re in an unstable soil area like I believe you are. So I would hire one of maybe three different professionals. A structural engineer would be my first choice; a very experienced, local, professional home inspector would be my second choice; and then maybe an architect would be my third. But you need expert advice to figure out what’s going on with this place. Not all cracks require replacement or repair but you need to know what you’re dealing with now so you can plan accordingly.
LESLIE: Yeah. And Charles, make sure you do it because you live in a slice of paradise on Long Island. And I’m not far from you and I tend to come to your neighborhood because I love it so much. So fix it up and stay forever.
TOM: Now, there’s a fourth choice. He could always invite you to come over.
LESLIE: True, true, true.
TOM: Well, temperatures may be nice now but in a few months, you’ll want nothing less than to have to bundle up, head outdoors and deal with a home improvement problem in the dead of winter. To help, we’ve got a few easy fix-ups you can get done now that’ll save you potentially a major repair hassle later. And that’s coming up in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Something must have to do with water here.
LESLIE: Well, of course. Leaks are probably the worst. You know, a water-leak emergency, like pipes that freeze and break, are very common when it’s cold out. So now is the time that you need to locate and label all of those important water valves. And that includes the main water valve, your water heater’s valve and hose and ice-maker valves. Now, knowing where those are and what they do will spare you major damage and hassle if cold weather strikes.
Next, you’ve got to make sure that your roof is leak-free. After the next big fall rainstorm, grab a flashlight, head up into the attic and inspect areas around your chimney, plumbing, vent pipes, anything that sort of goes out through the roof or where sections of the roof meet up. Make sure – look there that there’s no leaks happening. Then go ahead and grab some binoculars and inspect all of those same spots from on top, scanning also for missing shingles, loose flashing, anything that might need to be replaced.
Next up, you want to look at handrails. Go around the house. Any sort of handrail that’s loose, that can actually result in an emergency. So you want to make sure that inside and outside, handrails are secure. Repair any loose railings, posts, spindles. You have to make sure that all of those pieces are extra sturdy if outdoors because when the condition gets icy, it can really cause some trouble.
Also, think about your chimney. You want to caulk that chimney crown. It’s a masonry coating that goes over the top of the chimney. And it can protect against water, which is extra risky over these winter months when it can cause chimney bricks and structures to freeze, break and even fall. So some prep work now is going to save you a lot in the long run.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, with the garage getting so much wear and tear, it makes sense to give the floors a protective coating that can do double-duty and also beautify the space. But what options do you have to create a floor that looks good, stands up and is stain-resistant? We’ll have those answers on the very 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.
(Copyright 2020 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.)