In this episode…
Fall is the perfect time for outdoor painting but taking on an entire home is a big project that requires proper planning, preparation and tools. Tom and Leslie share pro tips to help you get the project home. Plus…
- As the days get shorter and the night gets longer, it’s a good time to think about adding security lighting to your home. And this is a job, surprisingly, that you may be able to do yourself.
- You might not even realize it, but one of the most common home accidents is a fall. We’ll have tips to help you avoid the slips and falls!
- Have you ever spotted fuzzy white growth on a basement wall and wondered if it was mold? We share how to tell for sure.
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: Hey, what are you working on this beautiful fall weekend? We hope there’s lots of fresh colors abound wherever you’re listening to us and that you’ve got some projects, maybe, that you’re taking on in the beautiful weather before it gets too chilly. If you need some help, you can always reach out to us.
A couple of ways to get in touch. You can post your question to The Money Pit website at MoneyPit.com. You can also post it to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’d like to paint the exterior of your home to boost its curb appeal, change a color you don’t like or refresh a dilapidated paint job, fall is the perfect time to get this project done. But painting an entire home is a big project. Requires proper planning, preparation and tools. So we’re going to share pro tips to help you get the project done, just ahead.
LESLIE: And as the days get shorter and the nights get longer, it’s a good time to think about adding security lighting to your home. And this is a job, surprisingly, that you might be able to do yourself. We’re going to explain, in just a bit.
TOM: And you might not even realize it but one of the most common home accidents is a fall. We’re going to have some tips to help you avoid those slips.
LESLIE: And fall is also a popular time to take on bath renos. We are giving away something that’s going to help. We’ve got $3,500 in bath products from American Standard and Grohe, available from RiverbendHome.com, to help you take on those projects. All you need to do is enter the Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
And if you’re thinking about updating your kitchen but you’re concerned about the cost, we’re going to have tips on easy updates, that you can do over a weekend, that will totally transform your space without the hassles, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
TOM: But first, we want to know what you want to know. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question on MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. We’re going out to Dale in Kansas who’s working on an attic makeover. How can we help you today?
DALE: Well, I bought this little house and it’s got a vented ridge down the center of the peak of the roof and then one 2×2-square opening on the end. And it doesn’t seem like that’s adequate ventilation to get rid of the heat.
TOM: So you have no soffit vents at all? You have – just have this ridge – you have the ridge vent, the gable vents and no soffit vents at the overhang of the roof? OK.
DALE: And I put a 12-inch turbine vent on it but I’m thinking I need more than just that 2-foot-square vent. I was thinking about putting four 12-inch – I don’t know what to call them besides “dump vents” – down towards the lower end of the roof.
TOM: OK. Well, you’re on the right track. So let’s talk about attic ventilation and the way it’s supposed to work.
So, the attic is always supposed to be the same temperature as the outside. So, if it’s hot outside, it should be hot in the attic. And if it’s cold outside, it should be cold in the attic. Basically, the attic has to be well ventilated for that happen. Now, you have, actually, half of what I usually recommend as a ventilation system and that’s a continuous ridge vent down the peak of the roof.
The second half of that, though, are soffit vents at the overhang of the roof. Soffit vents are good because as the wind blows across the house, that soffit area pressurizes and pushes air up into that soffit. That rides up underneath the roof sheathing, where it carts away heat in the summer and moisture in the winter, and then exits at the ridge. And that same wind that’s pushing positively against the side of the house and the soffit vents is actually creating sort of a negative pressure at the ridge. So you get this kind of nice, continuous flow.
And if you have that working for you then, actually, what you should do is block off those gable vents, because that’s going to kind of interrupt that nice flow that we’ve created.
Now, in your case, you have no soffit vents. I would first explore the potential of putting in soffit vents. The other idea that you suggested was putting in regular roof vents but lower on the roof. You know, not a terrible idea but not nearly as efficient as soffit vents.
And if you don’t have a soffit, there’s a type of vent called a “drip-edge vent,” which basically extends the roof line about 2 inches, creates a short soffit that’s pretty effective. But if you can get continuous soffit and ridge venting, that’s really all you need. The other types of ventilators – the turbine that you mentioned, that kind of stuff – it looks like it does a lot but it’s really nowhere near as effective as having that continuous, open ridge and the continuous, open soffit, OK?
DALE: I’ve never seen – I’m not familiar with that …
TOM: Drip-edge vent? Google “drip-edge vent” and I think CertainTeed – I know CertainTeed makes it. I’m sure others do, as well. And it’s a really effective, little vent. Now, you may have to do some modifications of your roof shingles at the overhang to get this in. But considering you’re going to have to modify your roof anyway to put those roof vents in, I think that’s probably the best way to go for homes that don’t have a soffit. Because it does create that intake point down low on the roof, which is going to really let a lot of air in. And I think you’ll see a big difference.
DALE: OK. Thanks.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Heading south to Florida where Dorothy is on the line. What’s going on at your money pit?
DOROTHY: Well, I have engineered flooring and I want to redo it. It’s worn in spots. And nobody seems to be able to tell me what to do with it, how to refinish it.
TOM: So, engineered flooring, Dorothy, is not a product that’s designed to be refinished. It’s not like hardwood floor where you can sand it, because it doesn’t have as thick of a surface. Engineered flooring is made up of layers. It’s more like plywood, where you have different types of wood that are glued together. And it gives you dimensional stability and it’s good for damp locations but it’s not necessarily designed to be refinished.
So this may be a case where you need to remove and replace rather than refinish it.
TOM: Now, there are a lot of different types of flooring that are available today, aside from the engineered-hardwood floor. You might want to take a look at the engineered vinyl plank, which can look just like wood or many other materials but it’s completely 100-percent waterproof. And you may even be able to install this on top of the old floor and not have to worry about even taking it up and avoiding the expense and the hassles of having to do a tear-out.
Is this engineered hardwood on a cement slab?
DOROTHY: Yes, it is.
TOM: Yeah. So it’s going to be hard to get up because it’s probably glued down. That’s how they usually do that. So, you may want to look at the engineered-vinyl plank. Take a look at Lumber Liquidators or as they go now, their new name is LL Flooring. And look at all the beautiful engineered-vinyl planks.
I put down two of those floors – one in a kitchen and one in a laundry room – and they really have worn very, very well. And they’re not expensive, either.
DOROTHY: Oh, OK. Alright. I’ll check that out.
TOM: Good luck, Dorothy. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
DOROTHY: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Heading over to South Carolina where we’ve got Ensley on the line. What’s happening at your money pit?
ENSLEY: I’m having problems with squirrels in my attic.
TOM: Oh, boy.
ENSLEY: And what I’d love to do is somehow run them out and then I have some wire mesh that I’m going to put on my soffit.
ENSLEY: And that, I’m hoping, will keep them out. But I’ve had problems in the past …
TOM: First of all, do you know where they’re getting in, Ensley? You see the openings? Did they chew a hole or something?
ENSLEY: Oh, yes. Yes.
TOM: OK. Here’s what I would do.
First of all, I would pick up a Havahart Trap. You know what that is? It’s a cage trap. It’s got a door. And what you want to do is you want to put an apple towards the back of the trap and get a piece of wire, like picture-framing wire, and thread the apple. And then tie it off to the back of the trap so that the squirrel can’t bat it around and get it to pop out. He’s got to actually go in the back of the trap to get to the food. Then you’ll trap yourself a squirrel. And then you can take that trap safely – take the squirrel far, far, far away from your house – open the door and he will run out and be happy to be free of you. And then you can, of course, seal up those spots around your house.
Now, the other thing that you can do is you can fashion a one-way door across that hole where, basically, the flap would let them out and it wouldn’t let them back in. But I think a Havahart Trap is the most positive and humane way, frankly, of evicting the squirrels or the squirrel family. I’m not sure how many you have there. And that is definitely something that is pretty straightforward to do and very well worth having.
I bought one years ago when we had problems with groundhogs. We’ve caught squirrels in them and other things when they started to get into spaces we didn’t want them in. It works great. You’ve just got to tie down the food. That’s the only thing they don’t tell you in the instructions.
ENSLEY: OK. Sounds great.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at The Money Pit.
ENSLEY: Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to paint the exterior of your home to boost its curb appeal, change a color you don’t like or refresh a dilapidated paint job, fall is the perfect time to get this project done. But painting an entire home is a big project that requires proper planning, preparation and tools. Now, in most cases, it’s best left to a pro but we’ve got some tips and a few factors that will affect your project’s budget.
TOM: First, understand that painting an average home between, say, around 1,500 and 2,500 square feet can cost anywhere between 1,000 and 6,000 bucks. Big range. Pros are going to provide estimates based primarily on the area of the walls or siding that you’re painting but not the home’s square feet. And that pricing, though, is going to be based on a few factors, which include the kind of siding you have and the height of the building, because taller buildings are much harder to work on.
Now, wood and vinyl generally cost less than brick and stucco to paint. And the taller the building, the higher the price tag’s going to be. Hard-to-reach areas require extra equipment and they take more setup and cleanup time, which all add to the cost.
LESLIE: Now, like many projects, there’s a lot more than the price to consider. The quality of the finished job is going to depend heavily on the quality of the workmanship and the quality of the materials. Now, painters that take shortcuts on the required prep, like scraping and sanding away the old finish, they might deliver a job that lasts a fraction of what a paint job actually should.
TOM: Now, likewise, failing to use primer, as well as choosing a cheaper paint, can result in a lower-quality finish that just won’t stand up. When painting, the labor is always the biggest part of the expense. So be sure to always insist on using the best-quality paint so that the finish lasts as long as possible. It’s actually a pretty small part of the overall budget.
LESLIE: And finally, you want to get cost estimates. Never take a quote without that pro coming to visit your home. You want to make sure that you always get at least three quotes and you want to always ask them for references.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s important you take the time to actually check those references. Call the folks on the list. Drive by the houses and make sure they look great. And in fact, you might be smart to do this with recent projects and also projects that are several years old so you can see how it all holds up.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Anna on the line who needs some help with some door improvement. Tell us what you’re working on.
ANNA: Hi. Yes, I have one metal door and three fiberglass doors that – I got a guy to paint it. And not knowing – when I got home, he actually painted with a spray-can paint. So when the heat hits the door, I can’t open the door because it’s sticking to the door jamb.
TOM: Oh, boy. What a mess. What a mess.
ANNA: How do I repair that?
TOM: Well, even though he painted it with spray paint, it should still work. I mean it should dry. The fact that it’s spray paint is not making it any more or less tacky than perhaps if you use paint out of a gallon. But the fact that it’s sticking might mean that the door needs a bit of adjustment inside the opening. Are all the doors sticking?
ANNA: All the doors stick right on the rubber of the door jamb. It’s like a – I think that it’s a shoo-shoo (ph) can paint, not – I’m like, “Well, you sprayed what to the door?”
TOM: What kind of paint did he use?
ANNA: I call it a “shoo-shoo (ph).” Regular can paint. He went to the hardware store, got a spray-can paint and sprayed it.
TOM: Well, look, what you should do now, if you’ve had a bad paint job, is you really have to pull that old paint off. So I would take the doors off of the hinges, lay them down horizontally, use a paint remover to pull off the paint that’s there.
Once you get it back down to where it was when you started, then I would prime the doors first. And I would use an oil-based primer, because that’s going to give you good adhesion to both the metal and the fiberglass doors. And then I would put a good, top-quality finish coat on that using a semi-gloss paint. Then let them dry really well and then reinstall them.
ANNA: So is it possible then to – this is on metal and fiberglass – to get a paint remover for this thing?
TOM: Yes. There’s paint removers – the citrus-based removers are the most effective. So use the citrus-based paint removers, pull off the old paint, prime the doors and then repaint them. You should be good to go. OK, Anna?
ANNA: Thank you so very much again.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania is on the line with moisture. What’s going on over at your money pit?
JIM: OK. I live in an old home. Has a wraparound porch. The only wall that’s exposed is – that goes out to the end of the porch – is our backyard. My backyard slopes very gently downhill. It’s been landscaped with several swales and I never have standing water in my yard. I have no drainage that goes out the back or anything. As a matter of fact, I’ve lived here for 30, 40 years and I’ve never had water in my basement until 5 years ago when we had a tropical storm come up the coast, come inland and dump almost 20 inches of rain right on us.
But two years ago, I had the same thing happen. This one dumped about 10 inches of rain. OK, I – water both times that I had to get out of there, out of my basement. It would just finish. But anyhow, my walls – even during those storms, my exposed walls, the other walls are completely dry and the water is coming up through, it looks like, the back side starting towards the middle of the back wall through the floor. I’m thinking it’s groundwater.
TOM: It’s not. It’s clearly not. And I know that with absolute certainty because it’s tied in with precipitation. Whenever you have heavy rain and you get any type of leakage, it’s always drainage. It starts from the top and works its way down. It just happens to be showing up under the floor. That can very easily happen because water can accumulate outside the foundation wall. Sometimes, it goes into the walls and leaks through the walls. Sometimes, it goes around the walls and pushes up through the floor. I’ve seen geysers show up in the middle of basement floors because somebody had a blocked gutter on the other side of the house. Water does strange things. But this is a drainage problem; that’s all it is. So you need to look at your drainage very, very carefully.
Now, you mentioned that you had a swale and I hope that swale is still working for you. If that swale is not working, just by the swale itself, you may have to install what’s called a “curtain drain” at the bottom of that swale to collect the excess water and run it around your house and then dump it out to a place that’s lower on the lot.
The other basic things that you could look at – the very easiest thing to look at is your gutters. You need to have at least one downspout for every 400 to 600 square feet of roof surface. And those downspouts need to be extended 4 to 6 feet from the house, minimum – minimum – not just out a foot into a splash block but 4 to 6 feet away. I say that because whenever you have a water problem, we’ve got to move that water away from that first 4 foot or so of soil that’s around the foundation perimeter.
So, gutters are really important, downspout discharge is really important and then finally, the slope of the soil at the foundation perimeter is important. But if you manage and maintain and improve the drainage conditions around the foundation perimeter, you won’t have enough water to push up around those walls and into the floor.
JIM: OK, OK. So a sump pump wouldn’t have worked?
TOM: No, I mean a sump will take the water out once it gets there but it doesn’t deal with stopping it from getting there in the first place.
JIM: The initial problem.
TOM: Right. And by the way, putting a sump pump in doesn’t do anything to improve the structural integrity of the foundation because, again, that water has to go around that foundation to get to where the pump is. So, deal with the drainage, keep that soil as dry as possible and you’ll make the whole thing go away.
JIM: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Hey, guys, Riverbend Home wants you to love where you live and that’s why they’ve partnered with American Standard and Grohe on the Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes. All you need to do to enter is go to MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. And you can enter once a day and win from 3,500 bucks in bath faucets, fixtures and more.
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TOM: So enter today. Head on over to MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: Taking a call from Dave in Massachusetts who’s trying to solve a plumbing mystery. What’s going on?
DAVE: Well, my plumbing mystery is – I inherited two homes on the same lot: one on one street and then one on the back street.
DAVE: I sold the double-decker that was in the family over – going back to the late 1800s. There’s no history on anything. The second house in back, I have someone living in it upstairs and there’s a two-car garage downstairs. The long and short of it is I can’t find the water meter.
TOM: Have you been paying a water bill?
DAVE: Been paying a water bill.
TOM: I’m wondering whether or not the utility company has been reading something in order to figure out how much you should be paying for water. Are you getting a normal water bill?
DAVE: Only for the front house, it appears: the one that I sold, the double-decker.
TOM: Well, look, first of all, you ought to figure out where the house side of the main water line is and the main water valve. Because if you were to have a water emergency, you need to be able to reach a faucet and turn it off. And if the only way to do that is to turn off the street service, which is what you’re describing – that pipe that goes down and provides access to the in-line water valve is the street service – you need to be able to have a valve inside the house.
So, I’ve actually – you know, in the years I spent as a home inspector, sometimes trying to find that valve would take a little bit of detective work. I’ve found valves in very strange places. I’ve found them in the back of kitchen cabinets where you had to remove drawers to get to it and in other strange places like that. I’ve seen them covered over by walls.
But you need to figure out where that valve is. There’s going to be one place where that water line comes into the house and it’s going to be in line where you think it is outside. And if you don’t have a water valve on the inside, that is definitely something you want to add so that you can access it in an emergency. If anything were to break or rupture inside the house, the first thing to do is to turn off the main water pipe. And you cannot do that, which means you could be facing thousands and thousands of dollars of damage.
As for whether or not there’s a meter on it or not, it’s kind of not your problem. But if you want to add one, they’re probably going to add it at the street. And that’s another place where you should have a turnoff. The turnoff shouldn’t be near your house, which it sounds like it is. It should be at the street.
I know in my home, which was built in the early 1800s, we have a water line that goes out to the street. And that’s where the main turnoff is and you have to use a key down through that pipe hole to get to it and switch it off.
So, it sounds like you’ve got a mystery on your hands. The most important thing for you, as an owner of that property, is to make sure you can easily turn the water off. So get that installed. And as for the rest of it, yeah, if it’s separated now and it’s no longer one owner for both properties, you’ve got to get a meter on it. So, I think you know what has to happen but I want to add to that to-do list the importance of having a valve inside the house that’s easily located, so that you can shut it off yourself in the event of an emergency without having to kind of dig up any dirt to get to it.
So, Dave, did we help you with your mystery?
DAVE: Yes, you did and I really, really appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if home is where the heart is, then the kitchens are clearly one of its vital organs that converts a house into a home. So it’s no surprise that kitchen renovations are among the most popular remodeling projects tackled every year.
But while any home improvement project can be complicated, major kitchen remodeling can turn your life completely upside-down, not to mention all of that fast-food poundage you’re going to be putting on waiting for the kitchen to welcome you back in.
TOM: Well, that’s right.
Now, to avoid the home improvement hassles, it makes sense to break down the project into modules: small parts that can be completed independently of one another. Not only does this make the project more manageable, these smaller changes can have a big visual impact and cut down on the need for more major makeovers later.
LESLIE: For example, changing your kitchen countertop, painting the cabinets or just replacing all of that cabinet hardware are projects that can be done in hours, not weeks, and result in a very attractive and quite frankly, a big transformation.
TOM: Yep. And replacing the kitchen floors, improving the kitchen lighting and just painting the room can give you a fresh, new look in that space. And you can also just replace faucets with water-efficient models, as well as switch out appliances for those that are more energy-efficient. Make sure they’re ENERGY STAR-certified and those will also lower utility costs across the board.
LESLIE: And today’s Smart Spending Tip is presented by the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. We’re all shopping for essentials online these days. Get rewarded for it with the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. You can choose to earn three-percent cash back on online shopping.
TOM: Visit BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding to apply now.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Michelle in Washington on the line who’s dealing with some flooring adhesive. What’s going on?
MICHELLE: We have pulled up our vinyl off our concrete floor. We have a slab floor and want to replace it with tile. But we have the residue left from the vinyl being pulled up. And I want to know the best way to get that up, if there’s any kind of chemical or just boiling water. I know it’s going to be scraping but I didn’t know what I could put on it ahead of time.
TOM: Adhesive goes down easy and sure doesn’t come up that way.
MICHELLE: No, it doesn’t. And it’s probably been there for 20 years, so …
TOM: Yeah. Is it fairly smooth or is it …?
MICHELLE: Oh, it’s fairly smooth. The vinyl came up but it left the paper backing.
TOM: So, if it’s fairly smooth and it’s well-adhered to the concrete, you might be able to just glue the tile down right on top of that. Because I’ve got to tell you, it’s really hard to get that adhesive up. It’s not like you could cover it with boiling water or vinegar or something like that. You might be able to use a citrus-based adhesive remover and that might help you a little bit. But if it’s already well-adhered to the concrete slab, then I don’t see why you couldn’t go on top of it with the new tile mastic.
MICHELLE: OK. I did that in my kitchen. I went right over the old tile because it was very flat. But now I’m doing another area. It’s not a big area – it’s an entryway – but we’re doing a whole big room that includes the entryway and it’s ceramic plank. And I was concerned about the – you use a different mastic, because I understand with the ceramic-plank floor – and I thought that heat might wet that paper enough to not give me good adhesion.
TOM: Well, if it’s just paper, you could probably do some abrasion, some sanding of that glue to get through the paper. Because yes, you don’t want to have a non-sort of adhesive layer in between the tile adhesive and what you’re going down to. But that shouldn’t be that big of a deal, especially if it’s a small area.
MICHELLE: Oh, OK.
TOM: But like I said, you could use a citrus-based adhesive remover. Try to see if that will loosen it up. There’s also a way to grind it off but it’s expensive and you need some specialized equipment.
MICHELLE: Great. I’ll try that. Thanks for taking my call.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bret in Rhode Island, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRET: We have the 1890s Victorian home in Wakefield. Gut rehab. Put in an 8×14 master bath in with Frank Lloyd Wright Arts and Crafts-style tile in it. And the shower in the corner, that’s a step-in shower. And over the last eight years, because the plastic floor of the shower wasn’t supported, it started to crack from the flexing. And I’m not sure how I can take care of those cracks without ripping out all the tile around the lip of the plastic floor of the shower.
TOM: So, there is one way to do it. And it’s not real pretty but you can do it this way. And that is that plastic base is made of fiberglass and you can use a fiberglass-repair kit and basically cover the split area with a fiberglass patch. And essentially, that means you’re going to put down resin and then you’re going to put down fiberglass itself and press it into the resin. Once that dries, you’re going to put down more resin and then more fiberglass in. You’re going to kind of crisscross it and essentially, you’re going to build up kind of a patch across that crack.
Now, of course, that’s going to be painfully obvious but maybe you don’t care about that. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’d rather have it just be patched and watertight than have to tear out the tile.” Because yes, replacing that kind of shower pan will require that you remove that tile around the first 8 to 12 inches, all the way around, to be able to get that pan out.
BRET: Yeah, I’m not sure that it’s fiberglass; I think it might be just hard, molded plastic. I got it at a big-box store.
TOM: The only way to try to repair it is with a fiberglass-repair kit. And you can pick that up at an auto-parts store. It’s like a body-repair kit. And essentially, it’s just those two things: it’s basically the resin itself and the fiberglass material. It may be some – it may have some sandpaper with it. But you’ve got nothing to lose; you might as well try it.
I did it once in a house that I owned – bought myself a year before I got around to tearing out the shower pan – and it worked great.
BRET: OK. It’s a great idea. We’ll give it a try. Thank you so very much.
TOM: Good luck, Bret. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, falls are one of the most common household accidents that send Americans to the emergency room. But did you know that a third of all home accidents can be prevented?
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, there are simple things that you can do, right now, to decrease the chances of you or a family member from taking a tumble.
For example, get rid of your throw rugs. You want to make sure those area rugs are held down with double-sided tape or skid-resistant padding underneath them. Rearrange furniture for clear, wide passageways. You want to make things easy for people to get around.
TOM: Also, take a look at improving your lighting. Today’s LEDs provide a much better-quality light than incandescent and also the old CFL bulbs. I never knew how lousy my light was until I got LED bulbs. They’re so much clearer. It’s so much easier to see. You also should be thinking about installing nightlights and using the highest-wattage bulb approved for the lamps and fixtures. And be alert to uneven steps and tighten up loose railings.
Just be aware of the trip-and-fall hazards. And by doing so, you’ll keep your family much more safe.
LESLIE: Judy in Minnesota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JUDY: We replaced our windows – all the windows – in our home over 10 years ago. And just this year, there appeared to be snow between the glass on two of the windows. So our question is: do we have to replace the windows again or is there some way to get that out?
LESLIE: Actual snow or was it just fogging up?
JUDY: No, it’s like – it looks like snow when the sun shines on it. It’s that noticeable.
LESLIE: So that’s probably more like a frost. And generally, what happens when you start to see condensation or frost or any sort of cloudiness in between two panes of glass, that usually means that the seal has failed. And that’s not generally something that’s fixable. Because when the seal fails, the gas that’s in there to keep the windows energy-efficient and put that thermal seal in there, that’s gone, too. So your window loses all of its energy efficiency, other than just the two panes of glass.
So, repairing that really isn’t worth it. At this point, you should probably look into a replacement window.
JUDY: Replace the windows. Not all the windows. Just those two windows?
LESLIE: Right. And it would be a replacement window, so the operable parts are what changes out. The side panels, that all stays. It’s the up-and-down parts that get changed out.
JUDY: So they can just replace that middle part then?
TOM: That’s correct. Especially if it’s a recent window and yeah, the manufacturer is still sort of available. When the seal fails like that, there’s no repair for it. You probably are not suffering through a lot of energy loss as a result of this. It’s mostly just a visual thing. But it’s not repairable; you need to have that sash itself replaced.
JUDY: OK. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
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LESLIE: Now that it’s fall, you’re probably working on a bunch of stuff around your money pit. And so we’re diving into our emails and posts to see what everybody else is doing.
I’ve got one here from Emily. Now, Emily writes: “There’s a fuzzy, white growth on my basement walls. Is this mold?”
TOM: You know, that’s a pretty common complaint that we get, right? It might be mold but it’s much more likely to be something that we call “efflorescence.” That’s kind of a good Scrabble word, don’t you think? Efflorescence. It’s basically crystals of mineral deposits that are left behind when moisture soaks through a foundation wall and then evaporates.
So, it’s not mold. And one way to tell for sure is if you wet it down with some white vinegar, you’ll see that it will instantly dissolve. And that will tell you for sure that you’re not looking at mold. And sometimes, it’s not even a white powder. It can be almost like a grayish powder.
LESLIE: It looks like a chalk.
TOM: Yeah, like a chalk. Right.
Now, if you want to reduce the moisture on the basement walls, you want to improve your roof- and surface-drainage conditions outside the foundation area. We’ve got lots of tips on how to do that, on MoneyPit.com. But the most common thing is clogged gutters. Make sure that they are clean, free-flowing and moving that water away from the foundation. If you keep the water away from your house, there’ll be nothing to soak through the foundation wall, dry out and leave those nasty mold-looking stains behind that are really not.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got another post here from Frank. Now, Frank writes: “Do you know of any options in accessible patio doors? My daughter is in a wheelchair and I need to replace the sliding-glass doors from the house to the patio deck. I’ve looked around and all the patio doors I’ve found have a 1-inch area at the bottom with rail slots. I need an accessible patio door that is relatively smooth at the bottom so that my daughter can use it without all the trauma of rolling over the sill.”
TOM: Yeah, it does take a little bit of work but there are manufacturers that make low-threshold, accessible patio doors that are designed for this purpose, Frank, instead of the traditional, sliding patio door.
Now, they’re available from manufacturers like Therma-Tru, for example. They have one that’s called a “public-access sill.” It’s an option for a hinged patio door or a French door. And instead of the standard, sort of 1 and 9/16- or almost 2-inch-high sill, the public-access sill height is only ½-inch and it’s sloped. It makes it actually easier to roll over with a wheelchair or even a baby carriage.
And Leslie, I think a lot of the universal-design products work well for households that don’t have disabled folks in them. It’s just easier to use, like lever handles and stuff, right?
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. I mean so much of it is just creating a smart shortcut to help things be more user-friendly so that if your hands are full as a young parent or if you just tend to be clumsy and tend to trip over thresholds, you can more easily transition from room to room. Things are really just made to improve the quality of your life at any age point. So why not incorporate some universal-design stuff early on?
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, guys, thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and ideas and inspiration to avoid the perspiration when it comes to taking on projects around your house. Remember, you can reach out to us by posting your questions to The Money Pit’s website at MoneyPit.com or also our Facebook page. Or you can call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
We love what we do. We love helping you get these projects done and solving those home improvement mysteries that seem to affect and hold up lots of projects. And we’d love to help you with whatever is going on in your money pit.
Until then, 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.)