In this episode…
If your pancakes are salty and your meatloaf is sweet – you might not be lacking cooking skills but the right lighting in your kitchen! Tom & Leslie share tips for top task lighting. Plus…
- With U.S. home prices still rising, is buying a home that’s been foreclosed a good deal? We’ll share the pros and cons.
- If you’d like your home to be more energy efficient you first need to do is to stop wasting the energy you already have. Insulation is the key– IF it’s added to the right spaces. We’ll share key spaces where insulation does the most good.
- As weather turns cold, mice look for spaces inside your house to keep warm and fed! Learn how to stop mice from moving in for the winter.
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 welcome to the fall fix-up season. It is officially the Goldilocks season. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, so no excuses for projects inside or outside your house. If you don’t know where to start, start with us. Call us, right now, with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s episode, if you find that your cakes are salty and your meatloaf is sweet, well, what you might be lacking is not cooking skills but the right lighting in your kitchen. We’re going to share tips for the best task lighting, just ahead.
LESLIE: And with U.S. home prices still rising, it can be tempting to look for a good deal by buying a home that’s been foreclosed. But is it really? We’re going to share the pros and cons, in just a bit.
TOM: And if you’d like your home to be more energy-efficient, one of the first things you need to do is stop wasting the energy you already have. Insulation is the key to doing just that, so we’ll share some tips.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear from you. What are you working on this fall season? How are you getting ready? Are you thinking about decorating for Halloween? Because I am. Maybe we can help you with that. Are you already dreaming about the holidays? Because I am. So let us give you a hand. Give us a call anytime at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ron in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
RON: I have an 1865 farmhouse that is in very good condition, with about 2 foot-thick stone walls that are the basement walls. And from what I understand, those old, stone walls are made, basically, of stone and sometimes they put rubble in the middle. Somehow, field mice have found their way through from the outside and I’m trying to figure out how to maybe parge or put cement in between the stones to protect that from happening.
TOM: So, the mice, you think, are coming right through the foundation wall?
RON: Oh, yeah. They’re finding their way through. It’s been 150 years.
TOM: Why can’t you point the openings up? By pointing, I mean add mortar to those cracks or those crevices in the foundation wall, to try to seal those gaps up.
RON: My biggest question, I guess, is: how do I get that part cleaned out so that I can point that up? I guess I should use air rather than water to try to blast it out, to get the dust out of there so that the moisture would – so that the whatever cement I use will adhere. Would you recommend water or air to try to clean that?
TOM: I think you could probably do it with a pressure washer but you’re just going to have to make sure it dries really well before you go ahead and point it up.
RON: Is there any particular type of concrete product you would recommend or cement you would recommend for that?
TOM: I would take a look at the products that are made by QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. And you can find a mortar-patching compound that QUIKRETE makes and use that. Because it usually has sort of a stickier component to it, so it’s easier to press it in those places.
But listen, aside from just sealing up those gaps, just keep in mind that there’s a lot of different places that mice can get into your house. It might not just be those gaps in the foundation. They only need the space of about the width of a nickel to squeeze through.
RON: It’s amazing – pretty amazing – how easily they can get in. We don’t have a lot of trouble with them now as we did a little bit earlier. But I’d like to try to make those walls nicer again. They have the old horse-hair glass.
TOM: Yeah. Well, of course, and that will basically handle both of those challenges. Generally, you want to avoid doing anything around your house that could be a nesting site. So that could be stacks of firewood or newspapers or things like that. You want to make sure you’re careful with food in the house, especially pet food or types of food products that you keep on the ground, where it’s accessible. You want to make sure those things are in sealed containers.
You want to look for all those gaps. If you find any little gaps like that, another little trick of the trade, just temporarily, is just to put steel wool in there. Because mice can’t get through steel wool.
And then you want to use rodenticides. You want to be careful if you have pets. If you do, there are bait stations that the bait can be held by that pets can’t get into. But keeping those in and around the interior perimeter of the home, especially if it’s up on a basement or a crawlspace, are effective, as well.
RON: Yeah. Alright.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Ron. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cheryl is on the line with a decking question. How can we help you today?
CHERYL: I’m going to have a deck built at the back of my home. And I have a concrete pad outside the door. And when I asked someone to come and look at it and give me an estimate about a deck, they were wanting to put the supports right on this concrete pad that’s back here. But it’s all broken up and all uneven from a large – very large – maple tree that I have in the back. And the roots, they’re gnarly and they’re – a lot of them are near the surface. And so, I was wondering if it would even be – you even recommend that I even think of having a deck built back there with the tree roots and the situation I have.
TOM: So, first of all, this is a patio, so it’s a thin concrete slab and be 4 or 5 inches thick. Is that what you’re telling me you have?
CHERYL: Right, right.
TOM: OK. So that is not an appropriate foundation for a deck. And so anyone suggesting that it is would scare me because in your part of the country, you need to have the footings for that deck be below the frost line. So that means that those footings have to be about 3 feet in the ground. And then on top of those footings, you can build the deck. Otherwise, the deck’s going to ride up and down as the land freezes in the wintertime.
So, what I would do is I would break up that patio and take it out of there. If it’s already half-broken up, with a jackhammer you’d probably get that thing out of there in an hour or two. It actually will come out a lot faster than what you would imagine.
In terms of the tree roots, yeah, if you can get some of that out of there, it’s probably not a bad idea. But clearly, what you have to concentrate on is however you’re going to support this deck. If it’s pretty much a grade-level deck, you have to kind of put that beam in flush with the rest of the floor structure. If it’s going to be up a little bit, then you would basically put the beam underneath the floor joists and support it on however many columns it takes to make it compliant with building code.
But to do it right, it’s got to be on a foundation. So don’t just slap a deck structure over that patio. It’s just not going to be built correctly and I doubt it would pass building code. And it would also – could devalue your house in the event you tried to sell it in the future.
CHERYL: OK. Well, the contractor that I had out here, he was leery of – he didn’t want to disturb the tree roots too much for fear of killing this gigantic tree. And that was his …
TOM: Well, it wasn’t a solution, because the roots are going to be there with or without the patio. It’s not a solution. And he’s not going to disturb the tree roots that much. Yes, it’ll be hard to dig those holes and you may have to chop through some of them. But I don’t think just digging three or four holes for a footing is going to be enough to kill a tree.
CHERYL: OK. Well, I’m glad that I gave you a call then. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright, Cheryl. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Laura in South Dakota is on the line with a leaky basement. What’s going on?
LAURA: Oh, thanks for taking my call. We live in a lovely vintage home but we have for 25 years and we want to be here another 25 years. But we have this problem about – we’re in western South Dakota but every three, maybe four years, it rains a lot in June. It’s always in June. And it’s generally three to four days of continuous rain.
And what happens is water begins seeping into our basement. And it’s only happened maybe 3 to 5 times in the 25 years we’ve lived here. However, we don’t know how to fix it. We’ve had contractors come in who won’t even respond and give us a recommendation. But we really don’t know what to do and hoping you can give us some advice.
TOM: So it’s a really, really simple project to do and a simple problem to fix. And the reason it is is because you’ve explained to me that this water problem is caused by severe rain. And when you ever – whenever you have a basement-water or a crawlspace-water problem that’s tied into rainfall or snow melt, the solution is always to fix the drainage at the foundation perimeter. And there’s two ways to do that.
The first thing that you need to do is to look at the gutter system. You need to make sure you have a gutter system, that it’s big enough to handle all the water that’s coming off the roof. You need one downspout for every 600 to 800 square feet of roof surface. And if you stand back and try to kind of estimate that in your head, you can get a pretty good idea if it’s enough. And also, if you go out in a severe thunderstorm or something – and we don’t want you to get hurt but if you see the gutters overflowing, you know that they’re either clogged or they’re just not big enough. But that water has got to be managed – it comes off that roof.
When it goes down the downspout, that downspout’s got to be extended at least 4 to 6 feet from the foundation. A lot of times, we’ll find that those downspouts are dumping right at the corner of the foundation and then just dumps right back into the basement. So get the roof water under control first. That’s the biggest cause of wet basements right there and the easiest to fix.
LAURA: Oh, is it? OK. So it’s – is it possible to add spouts to your gutter system or …?
TOM: Yes. And sometimes, you have to do that. Sometimes, you can add a wider spout. Instead of having a 4-inch downspout, you could have a 6-inch downspout connected to the old gutter system. But you need to make sure you’ve got the downspouts, you’ve got the gutters and they’re flowing properly and that discharge is well away from the foundation perimeter. Most installers will turn it out about 12 inches at the bottom and put a splash block there but that’s just not enough. You’ve got to move that water well away from the house.
And the second thing is to look at the grading and the angle of the soil at the foundation perimeter and make sure it’s sloping away from the house. It should drop about 4 inches or 6 inches over 4 feet. And if it’s flat or if it’s tilted back into the house or if the grade is made up of a lot of mulch or a lot of stone or if you’ve got a brick scalloped edge that’s holding the water against the house, you basically want any water that lands in that first 4 feet at the foundation perimeter to run away from it. Does that make sense?
LAURA: Yeah, it does. So we would have then that front graded away from the foundation? OK. Because I do have some stone here and there and it’s – we haven’t changed the gardens a lot, you know, since we’ve been here. But that really – so there’s nothing to seal in the basement or we don’t need to worry about that?
TOM: Nope. There is nothing – there is absolutely nothing to seal. No. What you basically want to do is exactly what we said. You want to keep the water away. Believe me, it is that easy. In fact, if you go to MoneyPit.com, you will find on the home page an article about how to fix a leaky basement. And the reason it’s on our home page is because in the 16-year history of The Money Pit, it’s the most popular article we’ve ever written. It’s had hundreds of thousands of views and lots and lots of comments. And it’s had that kind of traffic because it works. And it’s surprisingly easy to fix.
LAURA: Oh. Well, thanks a lot. Gosh, that’s great because I’ve had these visions of adding – trying to add sump pumps and this and that and I was really concerned because the contractors wouldn’t even get back to us that we’ve called and …
TOM: Yep. Not necessary.
LAURA: OK. Well, thanks so much. And I really love your show. I listen every weekend when it’s out here, so …
TOM: So glad you do. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, there’s a missing element in most American kitchens and no, it’s not a $7,500 range or a 4-acre refrigerator. It’s simply good lighting. And a well-lit kitchen, guys, begins with under-cabinet task lighting.
Now, these hidden fixtures, which are fairly easy to add to upper-wall cabinets, provide the countertop with plenty of bright, white light, which is going to make it easier for everything that you’re doing in there, from dicing veggies to reading recipes. I mean you’re just going to find that you’re doing much better work in the kitchen when you have the right lighting.
Now, you can also connect these fixtures to a dimmer switch. That gives you the option to have some dramatic accent lighting or even a nightlight for your midnight snackers out there.
TOM: Now, if you want to forgo the electrical connection completely, you can consider attaching lights that can be plugged into an existing wall outlet or you can consider battery-operated lights that can be attached and placed. I love this option because a lot of the new LED versions are super bright, they use a tiny bit of electricity and they can do a really good job, especially if you want to avoid the hard-wiring.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Arthur in Tennessee on the line who’s dealing with a painting problem. What happened?
ARTHUR: Not much. I’m working on a building in old Downtown Johnson City, built in the 1890s, and trying to strip some brick.
TOM: Fantastic. OK.
ARTHUR: I’ve stripped part of the brick that was done in the 1950s and had good success. But this is older brick and I’m not even sure – I think it was made on site and it’s solid and everything. But I wondered what kind of modern options were out there for getting paint off of brick.
TOM: What did you use to get the paint off of the 1950s brick?
ARTHUR: I used a product called Peel Away and it worked great.
TOM: OK. And did you try the same product on the older brick?
ARTHUR: I’m afraid to use it because it’s got a rougher finish.
TOM: Well, that means you’re going to have more binding of the paint to the surface. But what I would do is I would try it in an area that was perhaps a bit less conspicuous, like not at eye level. Maybe down towards the bottom or if there’s any other area that you really don’t care as much about.
If you had good success with that particular product, I don’t see any reason not to continue with it, at least to see what happens. Is this a product that is environmentally friendly? Or do you find that it’s pretty caustic?
ARTHUR: It says it’s biodegradable and a water-based product but you do wear gloves and wear long sleeves. But it’s amazing how it works. I just – I’ve had people come by and say, “Well, why aren’t you using sand-blasting or dry ice?” And I didn’t know if that is an option or …
TOM: Well, here’s why you definitely can’t use sand-blasting, because those old bricks will be damaged by that process. And it’s costly, as well. So I would tell you if the product that you’re using is working well, I see no reason not to keep working with that. And I’m not really familiar with dry ice but I can’t imagine that that’s very easy to use. Certainly it’s very difficult to handle and potentially dangerous, as well.
ARTHUR: Well, I don’t see it being – taking off paint very well.
TOM: Yeah. I agree. I’d stick with what you’re working on. If you’ve got concerns about it, I would definitely try an inconspicuous area, whether that’s the back of the building or the bottom of the building, someplace that you don’t care about as much. We always give that advice when using a product like this. And then just go on from there.
ARTHUR: OK. Hey, I really appreciate it and I love you guys’ show.
TOM: Well, thanks, Art. Good luck with that project and congratulations. It sounds like it’s going to be a really beautiful building when you’re done.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Louise on the line who’s got some mystery stains on a mailbox. What’s going on?
LOUISE: OK, I have a brick mailbox and it seems to have salt deposits leaking through the outside of it.
TOM: Is it in the way of a lawn sprinkler, by any chance?
LOUISE: No, it isn’t.
TOM: Because, often, what happens is if it gets groundwater splashed on it – and that can happen if you have sprinklers and wells – a lot of mineral salts in there that will dry and basically adhere to the outside.
You know, what’s happening here is you are seeing some sort of mineral deposits and you’re going to have to clean it. And the best way to clean it, believe it or not, is to mix up a vinegar-and-water solution. Because vinegar melts the salts.
TOM: So you can mix them up in a bucket, splash it down with a nice, soft-bristle brush, scrub it. And that should make those disappear. They may come back but the other thing that you could think about doing, once it gets nice and dry and clean, is to apply a masonry sealer to it. And if you use a silicone-based masonry sealer, you want to get one that’s vapor-permeable so it doesn’t trap the water underneath the sealer surface. This lets it breathe and stops it from cracking and chipping. But that should slow down the showing up of any additional salt stains.
LOUISE: Well, thank you so, so much. I’ll do that.
TOM: Alright, Louise. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Darren in Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DARREN: Yes. I’m trying to convert my toilet from regular water in the house to a rain – 265-gallon rain barrel outside. So, piping it in underneath my house I had the CPVC, the smaller stuff. So what I was wondering is: do I have to filter that water? And if I pump it in there, what is the max PSI that I should use?
TOM: Are you putting a pump on it?
DARREN: I’m going to have a solar pump on it.
TOM: Alright. So first of all, no, you don’t have to filter toilet water because it’s waste water. It’s gray water. So it can go straight in.
Secondly, how much pressure do you need? Well, I guess that’s really going to depend on the toilet but I would think most water pressure in a house is going to be anywhere between 50 and 70 pounds. So that’s probably what your toilet’s used to working with.
And thirdly, you want to make sure – I know it’s – I mean it’s a great thing you’re doing trying to use rainwater for all this but let’s not forget the obvious: make sure your toilet itself is efficient. Toilets today can use as little as about 1.3 gallons of water per flush. So if you’d have an older toilet, you might want to upgrade it so you’d need even less water for the flushing mechanism.
DARREN: Alright. Well, that’s something to think about, also.
TOM: What other green upgrades are you making to the house?
DARREN: This actually all started with – I put in a drinking system for my pigs.
TOM: OK. Oh, you’ve got a farm there?
DARREN: I have a farm. I have a small farm in Damascus, Virginia and we piped, in the stalls, drinking nipples for the pigs because they kept spilling all their water. So now, they are totally self-sufficient. They have a solar-powered pump at 40 PSI going to these nipples and it’s coming off of their roof into a rain barrel that feeds it.
TOM: Wow. So this is a natural extension of that? And if it’s good enough for the pigs, I guess it’s going to be good enough for your home plumbing system, as well.
DARREN: Yeah, yeah. I definitely want to try to do as much as I can with Mother Nature before I have to depend on somebody else.
TOM: Alright. Well, it makes a lot of sense.
Darren, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, with U.S. home prices still rising, it can be very tempting to look for a good deal by buying a home that’s been foreclosed. Now, it’s not a bad way to get a potential price break but there are lots of pros and cons that you’ve got to consider before you take that plunge.
Now, here are some pros. You’ve got a lower cost and that’s really – the biggest advantage of buying a home in a foreclosure situation is the price. Because they’re being sold under duress, the foreclosed-upon homes are typically cheaper than comparable homes in the same area. Secondly, you’re going to have motivated sellers.
Now, the lenders don’t want to own foreclosed properties and are looking for a way to move them quickly. And some lenders will actually beautify the property or even make some repairs to get it to sell. And there’s really a good chance for you to build some equity here. If you’re buying a cheaper home that needs renovation, you’ve got a chance to increase your equity considerably when you fix it up.
Products like the FHA 203(k) mortgage can really help you. Now, this mortgage offers enough money to buy the house and then also rehab that property.
TOM: Ah, yes. But it’s not all sunny days and roses. There are some cons.
First of all, the properties are almost always sold as is. If you buy a home out of foreclosure, it means that you get the house warts and all. And some foreclosed homes have sever structural issues or code violations that can cost you a lot of money to fix. Keep in mind that homeowners that are being evicted may have either abused the home or certainly have not had the money to pay for needed repairs.
Also, prices are rising. While you still can get a substantial discount when you buy a foreclosed property, the discount situation is shrinking. If you look at the prices that are fetched on Auction.com, they sold more than 50,000 foreclosed and bank-owned properties in 2019. It reached a new high that year and the prices are still going up.
And finally, the home may never actually go up for sale. If you’ve got your eye on a house – you’re thinking, “Great, it’s in foreclosure; I’m going to wait until it goes on sale and buy it” – keep in mind it could take months or even years for that to happen, if it ever does. Most states give homeowners many, many opportunities, which they should, to catch back up on their mortgages.
But I think if you can adjust your strategy, you have the patience, the time and the expectations accordingly, buying a foreclosed home can still be a pretty good deal.
If you want more tips, we’ve got a great post about just that. It’s simply titled: “Is it Bad to Buy a Foreclosed Home?” And that’s on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Kay in Arkansas is on the line and needs some help changing a wall surface.
What’s going on, Kay?
KAY: Well, it is a sturdy home. Cinder block. Probably just that thick but it has the brick on the outside. But the inside, I would just like something a little more pleasant to look at.
TOM: OK. That makes sense. So, are we talking about a basement here?
KAY: Nope. This is an above-ground. It is a cabin on the lake property.
TOM: So you need a paint that can cover the masonry-block walls.
KAY: Well, a paint or a stucco or something that gives it a different texture than a cinder-block look.
TOM: Kay, the process of coating the interior walls isn’t as much stucco as it is plastering. So what has to happen is that wall surface has to be covered with a layer of plaster, much in the same way they used to build plaster walls many, many years ago in, say, the 30s or the 40s. In fact, in the late 40s, they used to plaster right over drywall and that was one of the best wall constructions ever. So those are the options that you have to choose from.
Doing the plaster is probably not the job you want to do as your first DIY project. But if you work with a plastering company – somebody who does this every day – they would have the skills to make the plaster look nice and smooth and have an attractive surface without really taking up much space, in terms of it getting too thick.
KAY: Right, right. So that’s strange. I have plaster walls on my house at home.
TOM: Oh, well, maybe they’re going to follow you to the new house.
KAY: Yeah. OK.
TOM: Kay, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’d like your home to be more energy-efficient, one of the first things that you need to do is stop wasting the energy you already have. And insulation is the key to doing just that.
Now, roughly 40 percent of the average home’s energy usage is attributed to heating and cooling. So, anything that you can do to lower the amount of energy your HVAC system uses is going to help you lower those costs. Insulation is your home’s best defense against high heating and cooling costs and it’s going to keep heat from escaping your home. But it can also seal air leaks to make sure that your HVAC system is not wasting energy by pumping air outside.
TOM: Now, when choosing insulation, you’ve got a few options. Fiberglass in the blanket form is – or the loose form – has been the standard insulation material for years. And with the proper protection, you can definitely install fiberglass insulation yourself. The loose-fill or cellulose insulation is made from recycled materials, making it very environmentally friendly as an option but that has to be installed by a pro.
LESLIE: Yeah. And spray foam is the most modern type of insulation and as the name suggests, it’s sprayed onto the walls where it then rapidly expands to fill every single nook and cranny. And spray foam isn’t going to sag or slide down over time like other insulation materials. And it can actually improve a home’s air quality by reducing outdoor allergens or pollutants that could come in.
TOM: Now, we’ve had a very good experience with spray-foam insulation in our 130-plus-year-old house. We applied it to the back side of the attic rafters and the attic gable walls and all of the box beam – that’s where the house hits the foundation – all the way around. And I tell you what, it was an amazing improvement in the space. And this summer, when it got to be 100-plus degrees out, I had a number of occasions to go up in the attic where it was a pleasant, I’d say, 75. It never got super hot up there because it’s just so well insulated. So we really like spray foam.
But it has to be applied by a pro because, basically, when it’s applied there is a special truck that comes that mixes two parts together, kind of like a part A and a part B, and then it’s sprayed. And the other thing that spray foam gives you is it expands at about a 100:1 ratio. So that when it’s put on, it expands. It seals every nook and cranny, which is so important because that helps stop all the air leakage that also contributes hugely to your energy loss.
So those are your options and now’s a great time for you to look into them.
LESLIE: Heading over to Illinois. Gail has got an issue with airflow at the roofline. What’s going on?
GAIL: Well, my home is a pole-barn constructed home, 3 years old, all metal, on 4 feet up off the ground. And my heating duct and the air-conditioning, it’s all in the ceiling. And I have high ceilings – vaulted ceilings. And I’m having trouble with settlement. It’s settling, as far as I’m concerned, way too much and I don’t know if there’s – in the tape that – from between the duct tape that there are – not the duct tape but the tape in the …
TOM: Yeah, the drywall tape. Yeah. So you’re getting some cracking and some movement in that ceiling area, Gail?
GAIL: Oh, yeah. I know I’ve got movement in the house because there’s – you know, it’s all open.
TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.
GAIL: And I know there’s not walls. The whole thing’s in place.
GAIL: So, therefore, I’m going to get some. But this one that concerns me is in the back because – my son’s in construction and he said, “Well, you don’t have it vented out. It could be a damp problem up there.” I had my contractor come out today and take a look at it and there’s no dampness in because they spray with some kind of a solvent that adheres to the floor – I mean up on the ceiling and around the sides and it seals it in. And my son was concerned that – he says, “Well, where’s the air vent?” I said, “Well, I guess we don’t have one.”
TOM: OK. So let me give you some background information on this type of an application. So, it sounds like your home has been insulated with spray foam. It’s an excellent product. In fact, I have it in my own house. And when you use a spray-foam application, you do not – do not – vent the attic. You only vent the attic if you’re using a batt insulation, like fiberglass or cellulose or mineral wool. In those cases, you need to vent the attic because it carts moisture out. When you use spray foam, your attic is not an unconditioned attic; it’s become a conditioned attic. And so in that case, you do not vent it.
I don’t think your problem is a lack of ventilation. In fact, I’m sure of that with a spray-foam house. I think what you’re describing to me is normal expansion and contraction in a newer home. Those types of situations where the drywall tape loosens up and cracks and pulls away, pretty typical in that particular type of scenario.
Now, the repair on this has to be done in such a way that you’re not just sort of putting back what’s there. You need to pull off the loose tape, all of it. Cut it away. And then you’re going to gently sand that area. And then you’re going to apply a type of drywall tape that’s perforated and made of fiberglass. It looks like netting. And it’s tacky, so you can basically stick it on across the crack. And then you put three coats of spackle over that. And what that tends to do is bridge the gap across that seam much better than just paper tape would and hopefully stop the crack from reforming.
So you can’t just try to respackle what’s there. It’ll just keep showing through again and again and again. You need to take off the loose tape and replace it with the perforated tape and then refinish it, prime it, paint it and you’re done.
LESLIE: Remember, you can always post your question to MoneyPit.com, just like Ed from New Jersey did. Now, Ed writes: “I want to have a storm door and an exterior door combination installed. What product information can you give me?”
TOM: Well, first of all, Ed, you don’t really need a storm door anymore. The exterior doors today are so much more energy-efficient than they ever used to be that they simply don’t require a “storm door” in order to keep the door sealed. What you could use is a screen door for sure but you definitely don’t need a storm door.
In terms of exterior doors, I would recommend any of the fiberglass exterior doors, because they are more energy-efficient than the wood doors. They’re about five times more energy-efficient. And then what I would do is I would select a very attractive, full-height screen door to go in front of it. Yes, you’ll need to leave the screen in year-round but heck, why not? If you’re creative, you could figure out a way to take it off in the off-season but I don’t really think you have to. And I think that that combination is exactly what you’re going to need. But you don’t need a storm door to keep it airtight.
And also, if you have a storm door what will happen, especially if you have glass panels on that exterior door, that storm door when it gets hot from the sun hitting it, you get the greenhouse effect and it raises the temperature so much that it will melt – literally melt – some of that vinyl trim around the door. And sometimes it can make your handles so hot that if you grab it from the other side, you could burn your hand.
LESLIE: Geez, Louise. Well I hope that helps you out, Ed. There’s so many beautiful door choices out there. You’re bound to find something that works beautifully for your type of home.
TOM: Well, when temperatures drop, mice, rats and other rodents love to make their way into your cozy home for relief from the chill. Leslie has tips to keep them from doing just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, you know, it’s not as easy as hanging a no-vacancy sign but you can make some changes that’ll keep mice and critters moving on and away from your house and then searching out that next worm haven which, hopefully, is still not your house.
Now, mice can squeeze through spaces smaller than a nickel, so you’ve got to seal any potential entrances to your home with sheet metal, steel wool or cement. Those expandable-foam insulations, they can be gnawed through. So if you take that route, you want to make sure you add some steel wool to the mix so that they can’t chew through it.
And think about your pets, guys. Your dog and your cat, they’re not the only animal that’s going to come running at the smell of pet food. Wet or dry, it’s definitely enticing to rodents, too. I mean so enticing that they’ll chew through heavy-duty food bags for a bite. So you want to make sure you keep dry pet food in sealed, metal canisters and rinse out pet-food bowls before heading to bed every single night. Go ahead and give your kitchen counters and tables a nice wipe clean every evening. This way, you get rid of crumbs and anything that could seem like an outdoor animal’s treat.
And while it doesn’t seem to help their IQ, critters like newspapers and magazines as much as we do, so get rid of stacks of papers and cardboard that mice and rodents can turn into really nice nesting sites.
It’s a lot of stuff but if you keep up these sort of daily-routine things, it’s definitely going to go a long way to keep those rodents out.
So, go on, if you want some more advice, to MoneyPit.com. There you can find some more solutions for all of the areas of your home, inside and out.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, if you’ve ever had a major storm hit your house, you know that a home which is generally safe and sound and secure can pretty much quickly turn into a leaking mess. That’s why after the storm passes it’s really important to give your house a very careful inspection. We’ll explain what needs to be looked at, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(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.)