Are you preparing to deck your halls this holiday season…and maybe even your windows, doors and trees? Make sure your holiday lights are working before you spend hours stringing and hanging them. We’ve got fast, free and easy holiday light fixes
- Home projects have never been more popular than they have over the last few months of the pandemic. But DIY doesn’t mean you need a full shop full of tools to tackle. We’ll share fun, smaller projects that you can get done with staplers, glue guns and simple materials around the home.
- Before you set out to travel this holiday season it’s important to make sure your home is safe and secure – ESPECIALLY your garage. We’ll share why the garage door can be a vulnerable point of entry for burglars… and what steps to take to secure it, coming up.
- Toy-making elves are popular during the holidays, so why not give your kids the tools – literally – to make some unique toys and projects of their own? How to keep young hands, brains and imaginations busy with a fun and practical take on building blocks.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, best caulk to use for windows, repairing decorative columns, eliminating bathroom moisture, insulating a cathedral ceiling
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: Here to help you take on the projects that you’d like to get done around your money pit. If you would like to pick up a décor project, pick up a repair project, plan a project for the year ahead, we would love to help you do just that. You can help yourself by reaching out to us.
Several ways to get in touch. You can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll call you back the next time we’re in the studio. You can also post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, are you prepared to deck your halls this holiday season and maybe even your windows and your doors and your trees? Well, if you do that, you want to make sure your holiday lights are working before you spend hours stringing and hanging them up. Because it never fails that they work last year, you take them out to hang them this year and they don’t work. So whatever happens in that 12-month period where they’re sitting in your basement or your garage or your attic is a complete mystery. But I’m smart enough to know now that I’ve got to test them before I string them on a tree or around a window, because you certainly don’t want to have to do it twice. So we’re going to give you some tips on how you can do just that.
LESLIE: And home projects have never been more popular than they have over the last few months of this pandemic. But DIY doesn’t mean you need a shop full of tools to tackle them. We’re going to share fun smaller projects that you can get done with staplers, glue guns and simple materials that you’ve got around the home.
TOM: And before you set out to travel this holiday season, it’s important to make sure your home is safe and secure, especially your garage. We’re going to share why the garage door can be a very vulnerable point of entry for burglars and what steps you can take to secure it.
LESLIE: But before all of that, we’d like to know what you are working on and how we can help. Whether you’re dealing with a repair or dreaming about a renovation, consider us your coach, your helper or your home improvement therapist for all things remodeling, décor and fix-up.
TOM: So let’s get to it, 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: We’re going to Mike in Michigan who’s got some concerns about working in the cooler temps.
MIKE: I heard a rumor that there’s sealant that can be applied in much colder temperatures. But upon my research, I haven’t found any company that sells it or has any knowledge of it.
TOM: You talking about caulk?
MIKE: Yeah. To seal joints and cracks.
TOM: Well, generally, the solvent-based caulks can be used in a lot lower temperatures than the latex-based caulks. Are you using silicone caulks?
MIKE: No, we’re also using polyurethane.
TOM: You might want to look at the silicone products. Now, this is nothing special; it’s not a new type of product. But I know that some painters use these down to 0 degrees.
Now, the trick is keeping it warm enough to apply it so it flows well. But if you can keep the caulking tube warm and then go outside and use it, the application should be OK down to almost 0 degrees, as I recall.
MIKE: OK. And the freeze/thaw cycle, I know, is water turns to ice, it expands. That will not expand the sealant being wet?
TOM: No. Because it’s solvent-based. You don’t have the same expansion issues.
MIKE: OK. And how well does that level out? Do you have to more or less putty it in and smooth it out yourself?
TOM: It is more difficult to level out because of the cold temperature. As you know, if you’ve ever used this kind of thing on warm day, it flows really nicely. But because it’s chilly, it definitely doesn’t flow as well. But if you’re skilled with the caulk gun, you should be fine with it. And cleanup is a little bit more difficult, as well. But again, it comes down to your skill and I’m sure if you’re doing it all these years that you’d be able to overcome that issue.
MIKE: Yes, yes. We’re just looking – when we heard about it, we figured, well, if we can get another month or two out of the season of doing sealing, we can make more money each year by doing so.
LESLIE: There’s also a product out there called a “caulk warmer.” And it looks like a – sort of like an insulated lunchbox but it’s more like an envelope-style. And you can hold two to five tubes, depending on which size you get. And that can help you keep the caulk at a flowable temperature while you’re getting ready to work.
MIKE: Oh, OK. I appreciate all your help and assistance. You folks have a great day.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carol in Rhode Island is on the line and needs some help with the exterior of her home. How can we help you?
CAROL: I have a 115-year-old Queen Anne Victorian. Twelve years ago, I replaced all the columns on the porch and they’re rotting out again. And they’re finger-jointed columns and I was told they were installed incorrectly, so I’d like to know the correct way to install them.
TOM: Why were you told that they were installed incorrectly?
CAROL: I was told that because the top was not sealed with some kind of flashing, that there was snow and rain getting in the top of the column and it was rotting the column from the inside out.
TOM: Well, that may or may not be the case. I mean certainly, you need to pay attention to water control when you do a project like that. It’s hard for me to imagine – usually, columns sit underneath an overhang. But if there was some aspect of it that was exposed, then maybe that could be the case.
Another area to make sure you keep it off the ground is at the bottom of the column. We usually advise columns be put on something called a “post dock (ph),” which is like a plate that keeps it up a ½-inch or an inch off of the floor or the slab, depending on how this is built, so that you have some room for the column to dry out and not collect water. But generally, any time you have water that collects in an area, you are going to have rot.
Now, replacing these columns is not a do-it-yourself project, so you need to proceed very carefully with this, because those columns hold a lot of weight and that weight has to be transferred while the repair is being made.
CAROL: So let me ask you this. I’m thinking now of replacing them with the new fiberglass or composite columns, whatever they’re made out of. And I was told by a friend of mine that I should still have some kind of a steel pole inserted in the middle to hold the weight of the porch.
TOM: Yeah, it depends on the column. There are those types of composite columns where there’s, essentially, a metal column, like a Lally column, that does all the work – the structural work. And then the decorative column kind of snaps around that.
CAROL: Oh, I didn’t realize that.
TOM: Because the composite itself may not be load-bearing. In fact, it will be unlikely for it to hold – to handle – almost any weight whatsoever.
CAROL: Thank you for the information. It’s confirming what my friend told me. He’s not a carpenter, so I was questioning him.
TOM: You tell him he’s very smart. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Eddie in Delaware on the line who is dealing with a moisture situation going on. Tell us about it.
EDDIE: I’m having a moisture problem with two out of the three bathrooms. It’s a three-bathroom home. And each bathroom has an in-line exhaust fan. And this occurred last season – last winter season – and we got a really severe winter and we’re getting a lot of condensation.
I have dampers in two of the bathrooms, at the ceiling. And last season – the last winter season – I installed an additional damper after the exhaust fan – after the in-line fan in the ceiling – and I was still getting a lot of moisture, actually, at the ceiling where the sheetrock was actually falling apart. That’s how much moisture we got.
TOM: OK. First of all, right above this space, is there an attic? What’s above it?
EDDIE: Yeah. It’s an attic, yeah.
TOM: Alright. And how much insulation do you have in that attic?
EDDIE: The home is only eight years old.
TOM: So, first of all, bathrooms are sources of warm, moist air. If the temperature of the drywall is chilly, it’s going to condense and cause condensation. So you want to make sure that the attic above it, that you’ve got at least 15 to 20 inches of insulation in there. That’s really important.
EDDIE: Oh, there is. There definitely is. And what I also did was – when I started having this problem, I replaced the flexible ductwork, which was originally R6, to the maximum of R8. And I’m still getting the problem. And these two bathrooms that I’m having the problem, they are not used for showers or bathing of any sort.
TOM: The second thing I want to suggest to you is – you mentioned that you have exhaust fans in two of the three?
EDDIE: No, no. All three have their own individual, in-line exhaust fans, yes.
TOM: OK. So in-line – in other words, it’s ducted out somewhere? They’re all connected together and ducted out at once, at one point?
EDDIE: No, no. They’re not connected together; they’re all different.
TOM: They all vent on their own out the building?
TOM: And you can confirm that the vents are working? So if you turn the fan on and you go outside, you’ll see the flapper?
TOM: So, hooking them up to a humidistat/timer might not be a bad idea. Because this way, when the humidity gets high in the room it’ll automatically come on. Leviton makes such a switch, designed specifically for bath fans. And I think that might be the next step. I think we need to move air – more air – through these rooms.
The second thing is, what’s underneath these bathrooms? Are these on the second floor or first floor? Are they over a slab?
EDDIE: It’s a ranch home.
TOM: And what’s underneath?
EDDIE: A crawlspace.
TOM: Crawlspace? OK. Does the crawlspace have a high humidity problem?
TOM: I would recommend that you replace that existing fan switch with a humidistatically-controlled fan switch.
EDDIE: Yeah, OK. I’ll try.
TOM: Eddie, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, which means millions of Americans are now planning their own personal light displays, big and small. But if instead of blinking lights you discover light repairs are needed, we’ve got five fast and easy ways you can get the mood back bright and shining once again.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you’ve got to inspect those strings of light before you hang them. That’s the best time to really do it, before you’ve already done all the work.
Now, all of your lights should bear the UL label. That’s the Underwriter Laboratory seal of approval. And they should be free of cracked lights or sockets, worn or frayed wires and any loose or damaged plugs. So you’ve got to check them out.
TOM: Now, even if they look good, you want to test each string to be absolutely sure, because extreme temperatures or movement could have damaged the lights in the year since you used them last.
LESLIE: Now, if the light string isn’t working, go ahead, unplug it and check each bulb to see if it’s loose. Now, you want to do this by gently pressing each bulb back into the socket. Even though most of the lights are designed to work if one bulb goes out, they won’t work if a bulb is unplugged. I know it seems strange but an unplug – very different from being out.
Now, once you’ve tightened the loose bulbs, plug that strong back in and see what happens.
TOM: And if it’s still not working, make sure you unplug it again and check the fuse, which is usually built into the plug. And it’s hard as heck to get out, I’ve got to say, but you’ve got to remove it carefully and then check to see if it isn’t burned out. And if it is, you want to replace it.
Now, most light strings are sold with a couple extra fuses taped to the string, somewhere in a very small, plastic bag that you probably lost long ago. But you could pick some up at a hardware store.
And if all else fails, it is time to update your lighting collection, go with LED strings. They’re much more efficient and they are super bright.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to Texas where Laurie had some sort of flooring incident and now the cabinets are all damaged. What the heck happened at your house?
LAURIE: Well, we had – we bought an old house built in 1939. When we took the carpet up, we had some beautiful hardwood floors, so we had them refinished. But as they were refinishing them and replacing some of the bad spots, they banged up our cabinets. And we’ve had to try to touch them up with the paint that we had our cabinets painted with. And it’s just – it’s not working. It looks – the sheen is different, it’s streaky. I just don’t know how to make them look uniform without repainting the whole kitchen.
TOM: So the cabinets were scratched and you’re trying to repaint them with household paint. And the problem is that they were probably sprayed, perhaps, with a lacquer or other type of finish and you’re just not able to match the exact sheen.
LAURIE: And we had – we actually have the exact paint that they used. And my husband touched them up and it just isn’t working. So we didn’t know if there was a – if we needed to sand them again.
TOM: Why is it not working?
LAURIE: Well, the sheen, it’s shinier. It’s streaked. So I don’t know if it was the brush or what. The paint’s probably a year-and-a-half old.
LESLIE: That’s the thing. When you’ve got paint sitting around for a while, you can’t just pick it up and use a stir stick and then go for it. You really should bring it back to the paint center and have them throw it in the tumbler.
TOM: Yeah. And also, as you go ahead and refinish these damaged areas, you want to kind of fill it in from the inside out. Don’t try to paint over the whole thing. Be very strategic and use a small brush and just get it into the scratched areas. And don’t try to overpaint the areas that are not scratched.
LAURIE: Alright. We’ll try that.
TOM: It’s kind of like the same procedure as touching up a car, as a way – in the same way. You sort of fill in the scratch rather than overpaint the whole thing. Because if you do, it’s going to lay over the factory finish and look more like a patch than you want it to.
LAURIE: Right. And I think that is kind of what’s happening. So, OK. We’ll try those things and see if that helps.
TOM: OK. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Roger in Alaska is on the line with an insulation question. What can we do for you?
ROGER: Yeah. My wife and I, we’re living the dream up here in Alaska. We bought an old bed-and-breakfast on the hillside. And we did a great energy audit on the main house. The problem is the master bedroom is like an add-on over the garage. And it wasn’t – we couldn’t access the attic when we insulated the attic of the main part of the house.
ROGER: And so now, the master bedroom is the coldest room in the house.
TOM: Yeah, I bet.
ROGER: And one thing I’m thinking about doing is – it’s got a high ceiling and I’d like to foam-board the ceiling and then put a – instead of that sheetrock, cover the sheetrock with foam board and then do a wood covering? And I’m wondering, do I need to be concerned about the vapor barrier? And two is should I cut a hole in that ceiling and stick my head in there and see what it’s got in there before – you know, as long as I’m going to cover it anyway?
TOM: So, this high ceiling, is it a high, flat ceiling or is it a cathedral ceiling?
TOM: So it’s probably attached to the bottom of the rafters then, correct?
ROGER: I think it is.
TOM: So that means you really don’t have very much insulation at all. So that’s always going to be a challenge for you.
So are you thinking of lowering the ceiling so that you have an area that you could insulate?
ROGER: No, nope. Not lowering it so much. Just adding the foam board to the surface, like the pink board or the blue board or something. And then, if I’m going to do that and I’m going to disrupt the sheetrock anyway, I’m considering cutting open the peak. And if I can blow foam insulation in there – not foam insulation; cellulose or something – if I can reinsulate that space or add insulation to it.
TOM: You certainly can take a look in there but I suspect you’re not going to find any space for that. Putting the foam insulation on the bottom of the drywall is not a bad idea. I mean you could basically create a layer that way. I don’t think you need any additional vapor barrier, though. You can probably attach it to the bottom of the drywall right now. Because the foam is a pretty good vapor barrier, frankly, by itself.
ROGER: Mm-hmm. And then the only other thing I considered doing is – that bedroom is the furthest from the furnace. Can you put a booster – a fan on your duct or something like that?
TOM: You can. But what you might want to do is just put a small electric-resistance heater in there as a supplement so on those coldest nights, you can just add a bit of heat to that room.
ROGER: Yeah, the problem is even in the middle of the day, with a – that room has southern-facing windows and it’s upstairs. Heat rises. In the middle of the day, that room – I’m just concerned – I guess I really need somebody to take a good look at it with the infrared guns or something to see where we’re losing heat at.
TOM: I think that’s probably a good idea. I’m also thinking that your floor may be not insulated well enough. Because being above the garage, you’re getting some temperature transference through there, as well.
ROGER: I think you’ve probably got a point there. Maybe I could bump up the temperature in the garage a little bit. I keep it pretty cold in there.
TOM: Or insulate the garage ceiling.
TOM: That’s one thing to check. If that garage ceiling is not insulated, that could be the biggest source of your problem right there.
ROGER: So how would you – when you say insulate the garage ceiling …
TOM: Is the garage ceiling open? Do you see the floor joists?
ROGER: No, it’s sealed with, I believe, plywood.
TOM: Well, take a peek above that and see if there’s insulation in there.
ROGER: Alright. Well, sounds good. Sounds like a plan.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, home projects have never been more popular than they’ve been over the last few months of the pandemic. But doing DIY doesn’t mean you need a full shop of tools to get them done.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, there are dozens of fun, smaller projects that you can get done with staplers, glue guns and simple materials that you’ve already got around the house. The team at Arrow Fastener has done a really great job detailing a lot of projects on ArrowFastener.com. And they’re going to talk to us about some of the more popular ones. So here we’ve got Bill Sokol.
BILL: Hi, guys.
TOM: Hey, Bill, I love what you guys have done with your website and your Projects section, because you guys have got dozens of projects here, including a lot that I’ve not thought about tackling myself. And you’ve got all the step-by-step, you’ve got all the materials lists and you’ve got all the tools. So what has been the really sort of hot projects that people have been tackling over this pandemic?
BILL: We have almost 100 projects on our website now and they come in all different levels of difficulty. But as you said, a lot of them are really easy to do and you can knock them out in a ½-hour or so.
The seasonally seen holiday-decorating ones are always really popular at the right time of year. And then we have some perennial favorites. We have one, right now, that’s trending very popular: reupholstering a stool with a t-shirt.
BILL: Now, you might think, “Wow, that’s really pretty simple, right?” But a t-shirt is actually a pretty cool thing to use for a reupholstery project. The materials tend to be great. They’re nice and elastic. They wear really well. But the cool thing about a t-shirt is that they come in a gazillion different messages, logos, imprints and everything else, so you can really customize something for yourself. On our website, we have instructions on how to do that using one of our staple guns and also our staples. And it’ll take about ½-hour to do it.
I recently came into possession of this really cool Bigfoot t-shirt. And my wife immediately told me that there would be no Sasquatch-themed furniture in our home.
TOM: Oh, is that right?
BILL: Uh-huh. Yes but …
TOM: That seems unfair.
LESLIE: But what if you put it in the man cave? I feel like it’s a man-cave appropriate seat.
BILL: Yeah. But think about t-shirts for a moment. You could have Bigfoot, you could have the Loch Ness Monster, you could do Area 51. You could do a whole conspiracy-theory barstool set. You could do whatever you want, really.
TOM: Now, you really don’t need very many tools to tackle that, right? What do you need? A staple gun and some padding?
BILL: You need some foam and some (inaudible), some staples and a staple gun and a pair of scissors.
TOM: And of course, Arrow is the perfect place to pick up your staples, because you guys have been making staples and staple guns, well, about a century if I remember correctly, right?
BILL: Ninety-one years this year.
TOM: Yeah. Well, let’s round it up, shall we?
You mentioned moving into the holiday season. What kinds of holiday projects do you have on the site right now, if people want to dig into something?
BILL: So, for Halloween, we had a really popular one which was a socially-distanced treat board that you could actually build really quickly. And you could put it out on your front stoop and then allow kids to come up to get candy without you having to actually hand it to them. And that was really popular.
And then, of course, at Christmas and Hanukkah we have a variety of different projects, including some ornamental wall hangings and some other things that are really cool and people enjoy building.
TOM: And super easy to take these on with these instructions, because you pretty much start with the entire tool and material list. And then you have photos of pretty much every step of the way. So, great job on this.
Let’s talk about some of the tools that you might be having come out for the holiday season, because I think nothing makes a great holiday gift like another stapler or glue gun or one of your other products. You guys really make them very well.
BILL: You’re singing our song there. In fact, we’ve got one that is becoming very popular right now. It’s our GT300 Glue Gun.
Glue guns are always big around the holidays, because there’s lots of crafting and décor projects that you can do with them.
And the GT300, this year, was named by Popular Mechanics Magazine as the best glue gun of 2020. As you may know, they test around 1,000 products a year. Each year, they release about 50 that they feel to be best in class. And our glue gun, the GT300, was listed as Best Glue Gun this year.
TOM: I have used this particular glue gun very recently, because my sister and I built a bottle-cap table for my nephew when he went back to college. And I needed a glue gun that I could do a lot of gluing with. And I’d had a small one before that but this is the big mama. This thing works so well. It’s so easy to distribute just the glue where you want it and it even has a flow control on it, which is the first time I’ve ever seen that on a glue gun.
Because you know, Leslie, it always gets really messy and you end up getting it on your hands and everywhere else you don’t want it to be.
LESLIE: Oh, for sure. You get it on your hands and that’s a big problem.
LESLIE: It’s super hot. I always – I know I say this all the time but I always keep a little dish of ice water right nearby when I’m using a hot-glue gun, because I want to make sure should I get it on my finger, I go right into the ice water. And it immediately cools that spot of glue and then I can just peel it off without being like, “Whaaa (ph),” as I’m shaking my hand and it’s just burning.
TOM: So that’ll be really popular around the holidays, because it can help you with a lot of your decorating and craft projects.
What about in the staple area?
BILL: In the staple area, we have our perennial favorite. The T50 Staple Gun is still the best-selling staple gun in America. We sell a lot of them going into the holiday season. And it’s not just for holidays. There’s a lot of projects that you do this time of year in the fall and heading into the winter, whether it’s insulation or putting up plastic on a porch or weather-stripping, door jambs, things like that that the staples and the staple guns are used for. So, we see a lot of increased buying activity around this time of year, with a combination of holiday projects and also just good, old-fashioned DIY stuff around the house.
TOM: We’re talking to Bill Sokol from Arrow Fastener about the wide range of projects that you can take on with tools like the Arrow T50 Staple Gun and the GT300 Glue Gun and other great products from Arrow. Over 100 projects outlined in great detail on their website at ArrowFastener.com.
Bill, what are you hearing from consumers as they get into more and more projects, with all the time we’re spending at home?
BILL: Oh, we’ve seen a huge increase in the demand for our products. And we’ve seen that across the board in a lot of home improvement categories. If you look at paint and hand tools and even lawn-and-garden tools this year, a lot of people bought products to – because they were at home, you know?
BILL: And you sit home all the time and you begin to notice those projects that you’ve been putting off for the last 5 years and a lot of them are getting done right now. So, we’ve actually found business to be very strong right now. We’ve had our own challenges in keeping up with that because of COVID. And we had to reconfigure our factory and how people sit and how the assembly lines are set up and everything else, so that we can be socially-distanced and adhere to guidelines. But business has been doing great and people are doing home improvement projects and it just keeps moving on.
TOM: Well, if you’d like to tackle some fun projects or fix-up projects around your house, whether they are repairs or improvements, check out the complete project list at ArrowFastener.com, where you’ll also find details on all the tools you need to get those projects done.
You can also join the fasten nation and get on the Arrow Fastener email list for tricks and tips and projects and promos sent right to your inbox.
Bill Sokol from Arrow Fastener, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
BILL: Tom, Leslie, it’s been great. Thanks.
TOM: Well, it’s the season for many things and unfortunately, one of the things it’s the season for is break-ins. The FBI says there are more than 400,000 burglaries in November and December alone. And this holiday season, home security should be definitely a concern for anyone planning a visit with family and friends that are in your little pandemic bubble.
And one place to pay attention is your garage door because these big, old doors can be very vulnerable to break-ins. So you want to take a few steps to make it harder for the burglars to breach your garage.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, if you’re leaving for an extended period of time, go ahead and just detach your electric garage-door opener. Now, most electric garage-door openers have a rope or a chain that you pull to disconnect that motor from the chain that’s going to operate the door. This way, if a thief uses a frequency-scanning device to get your code, it’s just not going to work.
TOM: Now, you also want to think about installing a manual sliding-bolt sort of style lock on the inside of your garage door. And this way, it can only be opened from the inside. Just remember to enter through your front door when you return back home.
LESLIE: And you also want to make sure that your garage door is properly functioning and that there are no damaged parts to the panels that a thief could use to get your way in. If you have windows, go ahead and cover them up so that if anybody’s looking in they’re not going to see that that space is empty or that no activity is happening inside of the house.
TOM: Yeah, definitely. And if you’ve got a door that leads from the garage door to the house, make sure that door is just as secure as any other door. Sometimes we feel this is more of an interior door, so we don’t have the same kinds of locks on it. No, you definitely need both a key and a deadbolt lock to make sure that everything is nice and tight.
If you want more holiday home security tips, we’ve got a whole list, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Jill in Washington is on the line with a question about a foundation. What’s going on at your money pit?
JILL: We’re having a small house built up here in the great, beautiful state of Washington. And the builder is recommending a double set of – how do I say it? For drainage. He wants to really be sure that the drainage all is tightlined. One system will be tightlined that joins with the downspouts from the roof. And then the other is kind of like a perforated, long, 200-foot piece of hose with a sleeve over it. Do you recommend both of those? Is that overkill or how would you do it?
TOM: So we’re talking about surface drainage here or are we talking about gutter drainage or both? These sound like, from your description, that these are all running away from the house. Is that right?
JILL: Yes. He wants it around the – they’ve simply just finished the foundation and are about to do the backfill. Before they do the backfill, they want two drainage systems put in place. One is a hard – I’m not sure of the correct terminology. It’s a 4-inch pipe …
TOM: Yeah, one’s for the downspouts and one’s for the foundation. Is that correct?
JILL: Correct. Exactly.
TOM: Alright. No, I mean I think he’s doing it right. And those steps will help. The one really important thing is that when he’s done with this is not only do those downspouts have to be extended away from the house, but you want to make sure that that finished grade also has a pitch that drops at least about 6 inches over the first 4 feet. Because with new construction, you’ll get a lot of settlement and you’ve got to have good pitch. But if you have downspouts that are extended out away from the house and you have good pitch, you’ll never have to worry about a water-infiltration problem.
And I also don’t suspect that those additional foundation drains will really come into use much, if at all. But since it’s all fully open right now, there’s no real – there’s no harm in doing that.
JILL: OK. So, it’s just bite the bullet and just put both systems in.
TOM: Yeah. Now, have they put the gutters in yet?
JILL: Oh, no, no. The house isn’t even built yet. No, just the …
TOM: OK. So, here’s a good tip. Most builders are going to put in what’s called a “4-inch case-style gutter.” That’s a standard gutter. Opt for the next size up – it’s a 6-inch gutter – for two reasons. Number one, it holds more runoff from your roof; it doesn’t get overwhelmed. And number two, it doesn’t clog as easily because the downspouts are much bigger.
JILL: I see. What a great tip.
TOM: OK. And they’re not that much more expensive, either.
JILL: Great. Well, you know what? When we get to that point, I’m going to call the show back and – because it always rains up here. And I will let you know that we took your grand advice and how it all came out.
TOM: Alright. Can’t wait. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Good luck with that brand-new home.
JILL: Thank you so much.
TOM: Building a new money pit.
LESLIE: Building something new that will become a money pit at some point.
TOM: That’s right. That’s right. As beautiful and as luxurious as these homes are, we know that everybody’s house becomes a money pit sooner or later. And so that’s why we’re in the money-pit prevention business.
LESLIE: Lizzie posted a question and she writes: “We recently discovered our refrigerator water line had been leaking for some time. Now, the leak ran under a wall into a parquet floor on the other side of the room. The leak’s been fixed and we’re working with restoration specialists provided by our insurance company. My question is: how much of that old floor needs to be removed? I don’t want to have water damage or mold to start to grow?”
TOM: We’ve heard questions like this before and basically, just because you have a leak doesn’t mean you’re going to have a water problem, especially if you fixed the leak. If the area remains wet for a long period of time, then it could be moldy. But if it’s just a leak that happens, you deal with it, you fix it, it dries out, there’s no further concern for that, Lizzie.
So I think you just take out any of the floor that’s physically damaged, warped, twisted. Make sure there’s no other moisture in there and you’re pretty much good to go.
LESLIE: Yeah, Lizzie. Try not to do more than you have to. But make sure you’re doing everything right and that floor is going to be gorgeous.
TOM: Well, the toy-making elves are popular during the holiday season, so why not give your kids the tools, literally, to make some unique toys and projects of their own? We’re going to tell you how to keep those young hands, brains and imaginations busy with a practical and fun take on building blocks, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie? What have you got?
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, most kids are naturally interested in building. They want to see how things are made. They want to get their hands dirty and try it out themselves. Well, you can harness that interest with an at-home workshop where they can make fun projects but also pick up the basic DIY skills in the process.
So, you want to start by explaining how the tools and the materials are a lot like other popular building blocks and playsets. And then prepare yourself for the fact that kids are going to make a mess. I mean it. They’re going to make a mess. It’s going to be way bigger than you thought, so just be ready for it, guys.
So, create an area in your workshop – whether it’s your home, garage, whatever it is – where you don’t mind the occasional hammer blow or a nail scratch or lots of paint dripping and perhaps spilling on the floor. So, just be prepared.
Now, as for tools, you want to start with the basics. You want to let them learn how to use a measuring tape, rulers, small hammers, screwdrivers, nails. And then go ahead and walk your child through safe and proper use of all of those. And from there, you can find age-appropriate projects. Now, they’re often available in books that are sold at home centers, that your child can complete and show off and be really proud of when they’re done with these projects.
Now, if you’re not sure where to start, let’s think about some themes that your kids really love, because then they’ll be super into it. So maybe a craft based on their favorite movie or holiday or hobby. That’s going to help them push through the boredom and then see it to its completion. And don’t forget to heed the same advice that you’re giving your kids: safety first. So, make sure that you are wearing proper eyewear and protection at all times. And remember, these are also sold in kids’ sizes at the home center, so you want to get the appropriate ones that are going to work for them.
And the most important safety step is making sure that the adult is supervising the kid in the project. Safety first, guys. But also, have fun.
TOM: The best part is, though, of starting the kids young? You’re training your future assistants.
LESLIE: Yes indeed.
TOM: My daughter came home this weekend. She came home from medical school and I put her right to work helping me with a landscaping project. Slid right into it.
LESLIE: She was like, “Ah, great.”
TOM: Didn’t miss a beat. “That’s why I love coming home, Dad.” Yep. It’s a great idea.
Well, coming up on the next time on The Money Pit, if you are tired of shoveling after every storm and your kids no longer come home to help you do that, a snow blower can do that for you. But they are not one-size-fits-all. There’s different types for different sizes and different applications. We’re going to walk you through how to choose the best snow blower for the job, 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.)
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