- Buying a single-family home to rent out has always been a popular approach for investors. Now however, investors are buying homes they plan to split into multiple rental units. We’ll share how to know if this makes economic sense for you.
- If you love the look of terrazzo floors but not the cost, we’ll share a new product that uses real stone to provides a terrazzo finish for concrete surfaces at a fraction of the price.
- Plus, if your family is like most, you probably use the garage as much as your front door for access and security. But if your garage door is old and worn, it could not only be unsafe, it could also be providing easy access for intruders when you are away. Replacing it is a big job best done by a pro. We’ll tell you what you need to know.
- Taking shorts, swimsuits and light jackets out of storage is a great way to start your spring – but it can turn into a huge disappointment if you find that they’ve been ravaged by insects or moths. Leslie’s shares a timeless solution you can build yourself.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions, tips on removing a popcorn ceiling, upgrading windows in your home, cleaning and eliminating black mold, installing a bathroom in the basement.
EPISODE #2089: Buying a Rental Home | Tips for Terrazzo Floors | Garage Door Do-Overs | Your Q & A
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: What are you working on this fine spring day? Are you trying to solve a problem? Are you dealing with a décor dilemma? Whatever project you’d like to get done, we would like to help. That’s what we do. We provide expert guidance and content to help you take on the projects that you need to do to create your best home ever. But you have to help yourself first by reaching out to us.
Couple of ways to do that. You can post your questions at MoneyPit.com or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leave us your question. We will call you back the next time we produce the show.
Coming up on today’s program, buying a single-family home that you might plan on renting, that has always been popular as an approach for investors. But now, what we’re seeing is that investors are buying these homes and then splitting them into multiple rental units. We’re going to share how you know if this makes economic sense for you or not.
LESLIE: And if you love the look of terrazzo floors but not the cost, we’re going to share a new product that uses real stone to provide a terrazzo finish for concrete surfaces at a fraction of the price.
TOM: Plus, if your family is like most, you probably use the garage door as much as you use your front door, for access and security. But if that door is old and worn, it could not only be unsafe, it might also be providing easy access for intruders when you’re away. Replacing it is a job best done by a pro but we’re going to tell you what you need to know to make those decisions, in just a bit.
LESLIE: But first, we’re here to help you plan and help you save money and spare you from those home improvement snafus that sometimes happen with projects. So give us a call and let us know what you are working on.
TOM: Let’s get to it. That number, again, is 1-888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Laurie in Missouri is on the line and needs help with some spackling. What’s going on?
LAURIE: Well, I have – it basically is that popcorn ceiling.
LAURIE: And I’d like to know an easy way that’s not so messy to remove it. I want to have a flat ceiling.
TOM: Unfortunately, you can’t do that without the mess, because it’s going to be quite a messy project. There are a couple of tricks of the trade that will help you, though, but let me kind of walk you through this.
The first thing you need to do is to test it for asbestos, because you want to make sure that there’s no asbestos in that sort of popcorn material. You can pick up an asbestos-testing kit at most home centers and major hardware stores or you could use an outside lab. It’s not terribly expensive.
Once we know that it’s not asbestos, then your first option is kind of what we call the “wet scrape.” And what you do is you start with kind of a 1-gallon garden sprayer – a garden pump sprayer – and you spray that popcorn material very lightly. You don’t want to overspray it but you want to kind of saturate it and let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes. And then you should be able to take a spackle knife or a putty knife and simply scrape off that ceiling. Go slow, start in a small area and make sure that it has absorbed the water. And once you’ve scraped that entire ceiling, you can kind of take a survey of the job because I’m sure you missed some spots.
And of course, the second option is to do that but do it dry. And it’s totally doable, meaning it’s been done though with varying levels of success. It’s not totally encouraged because if you do, of course, have any asbestos, obviously you can’t do it. If you have lead paint, it’s a problem. It’s much easier for stuff to become airborne. So it’s a very, very dusty way to go.
Now, there is a tool that’s available that kind of helps with this. And one is called a “popcorn-ceiling scraper.” It’s actually a vacuum attachment. It attaches to your shop vac or your wet/dry vac. And as you sort of pull it across that surface and the debris scrapes off, it goes right into the vacuum. And then there’s another one that Homax makes that’s just like a very, very wide scraper, kind of like – think of it as a 10- or 12-inch-wide spackle blade. And that can help you with the project, too.
But if your desire was to try to do it in a way that was less messy, it’s just not going to happen. By nature of the beast, it’s going to be very messy.
And then, Leslie, once that stuff is down, she’s probably not going to have a perfectly clean ceiling as much as you would have if it was brand new. But I think you do have to prime it before you’re painting it, right?
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. And I was going to say when you’re scraping, try not to gouge too deeply. You don’t want to damage the ceiling any further in the process to give you more stuff to repair. But a primer is going to be really imperative. You know, latex primers are available. You can get ones that are oil-based. You can get a B-I-N or a Zinsser. You really want to sort of seal in that surface.
And then always go with a flat paint on the ceiling and make sure you get ceiling paint, because that’s just going to adhere more nicely to a ceiling since it is over your head. And it does have a little bit more thickness than a regular wall paint would. But after that, I think you’re going to be super happy.
LAURIE: Alright. I appreciate it. And my husband’s laughing at me.
TOM: He’s laughing because he’s not going to do it.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lee from Maine on the line who’s got a question about windows. What’s going on?
LEE: Well, I have a really nice home. It was built in 2000. It’s a 3,000-square-foot, hip-roof Colonial, well-built except, I think, for the windows. I have low-E glass windows. Not the highest-quality windows. I think the builder could have done a better job there. And I notice during the day that I have a lot – well, when I wake up in the morning, I have a lot of moisture on the windows.
And I’ve read on your website about how to treat that. One of the things you mentioned was perhaps upgrading the windows to a replacement window. And I thought of that but at the same time, I have a concern. If you do a replacement window, do you lose some of the window area? And if you don’t use the replacement windows, would you have to take out the moldings around the windows and start from scratch, basically?
TOM: Yeah. So, first of all, the moisture that you’re seeing, is that condensation on the inside of the glass or is it between the panes of the glass?
LEE: It is on the glass, on the lower part of each upper and lower window. It’s the base – your basic window with a sash that has a lock. And I’m seeing it on the upper window and the lower window, at the bottoms.
TOM: It’s not thermal-pane windows where it’s in between the panes?
LESLIE: It’s not in between the glass?
LEE: No. You’re correct. That’s right.
TOM: OK. Alright. OK. So you have high humidity inside the home. And that’s worth taking a look at and things like making sure your kitchen vent fan is vented out and bath fans are vented out and all the different ways moisture gets into the house. Generally, poor drainage conditions at the foundation can turn that foundation into a big evaporative pad that soaks up water and lets it evaporate into the house. And all those reasons and more give you sources of high humidity. And simply eliminating some of that can help a little bit.
Now, in terms of these windows, I’d say a couple of options come to mind. There is such a thing as an interior storm window that you could consider, which would be less expensive than replacing the entire window. And that’s something that you might put in seasonally, because I suspect this is more of a cold-weather problem than a warm-weather problem.
Secondly, you asked about how the replacement window would work. Well, if we call it a “replacement window,” that by its very description means that we are not taking apart the siding and the trim from the inside and the outside. That would be a new-construction window. Replacement windows fit inside the openings of the existing wood-framed window.
Are you going to lose a little bit of area for the glass? Yeah. But I, frankly, have never heard of anyone complaining about that. It’s not so obvious. It’s really just the thickness of the window frame that might make the difference. And totally worth it when you can save thousands of dollars of construction work not having to take your home, frankly, apart to replace those windows.
So I think those are two options for you to consider. Either replacement windows and/or interior storm windows, in addition to try to do, again, everything that you can do to reduce the high levels of humidity inside that home will all contribute towards making that problem go away.
LEE: Well, I appreciate that. I like the idea of the replacement window. There’s two reasons. One is my current window, they don’t make – the company doesn’t even exist anymore. So maybe by getting that upgraded window, I would get a much better product. And I notice where I lock the windows – I guess that piece is called the “sash” – the windows don’t fit together very well, either. So maybe they’re, I don’t know, a ¼-inch off or so. So I feel like I get some air intrusion from there, as well. So, upgrading the windows maybe would give me better heating efficiency in the home, as well.
TOM: Yeah. When you choose a new window, look for one that’s been certified by ENERGY STAR. That’s usually a good place to start. There’s also a label on there called the “NFRC label.” It’s the National Fenestration Rating Council. And they have several measures on there, on that label, that you can use to compare and contrast between windows to determine the level of energy efficiency of the glass, because that’s really important.
LEE: OK. That sounds good. You’ve really put my mind at ease knowing that, you know, the replacement window is not – I’m not going to lose much area. So I appreciate that.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. It sounds like a beautiful home.
LEE: OK. Thanks again. Great talking with you. Bye.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Cheryl in Massachusetts on the line who’s dealing with a mold issue. Tell us what’s going on.
CHERY: I have a house about a year and 3 months. And we’re noticing that this January, we had some mold in the closet and on the ceiling. And on – the floor was all wet and that’s how we noticed it. And as the week has progressed, we noticed that the mold is going all the way around the perimeter of the house, all inside on the ceiling. And it’s getting worse and it’s all black mold.
CHERY: My question is: how can we go about fixing and making sure, once it’s fixed, the mold – making sure that the mold is all gone so it doesn’t come back? That’s the issue.
TOM: Mm-hmm. So, would you say that all in, you have more than 10 square feet of mold?
CHERY: Oh, yes. It’s all around a ranch house.
TOM: So, this is beyond the level of mold infestation that is recommended that you do yourself. It’s recommended that you – the CDC recommends that if you have more than 10 square feet of mold, you hire a professional remediation company to get it done.
The reason mold forms is because of the dampness and the humidity in these spaces and the presence of organic matter and oxygen. So, that could be drywall and air. There’s food and there’s the air and the humidity in the water. And the air is the other third part of it. And you get mold growth.
Now, once the mold is remediated and it’s clean, then you can look environmentally at that space and try to figure out how to dry it out so that you don’t create the conditions that are conducive to mold growth. But I’m afraid this is beyond the level that you can do yourself and you do have to have a pro that can help you do this.
So, I would suggest that you go to a site like HomeAdvisor.com and find a highly-referred remediation pro in your area – maybe two or three of them – and have them give you estimates and talk with you about the approach that they would take to solve this problem for you, because it’s beyond what you should do yourself. And if it is black mold, that has – that could contain what we call “mycotoxins,” which could be bad for people that have weak respiratory systems. So it’s not the kind of thing you want to dig into yourself, because you could make it worse or you could make yourself miserable in the process.
So, wish we had better news for you but that is what you’re up against. And thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, buying a single-family home has always been a great entry point for new investors looking to start a rental portfolio. But for those who want to create multiple streams of income, converting that single-family property to a multi-family home is becoming more and more common.
TOM: True. But before you start building walls and adding an extra door, you want to make sure it makes financial sense and do that in more ways than one.
Now, the first step is to contact your municipality and find out if it’s actually legal to do this in your neighborhood. And find out, also, what permits are required. Because, for example, if you need a zoning change, that’s really, really expensive to get and you’ve got to get the approval of a bunch of your neighbors, too. So it gets pretty expensive.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s also a good idea to do a comparative market analysis or a CMA to figure out what your home would be worth now and then after it’s split, to make sure that the remodeling is actually going to add real value to your property.
TOM: Yeah. And keep in mind, speaking of that, remember that the rent you now get for the entire house won’t be exactly doubled when you split the home. So figure out what that rent would be for each unit in a multi-family home value situation so you understand the big picture. Only then will you know if it makes economic sense or not.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Philip on the line who needs some help installing a bathroom. What are you working on?
PHILIP: Well, we have an unusual house. It’s all concrete – poured concrete – back in the 80s. So all of the walls and the upper and lower are concrete. Now, we have one bathroom in this house. However, we want to install a small half-bath in the bedroom, right next to the bathroom that’s in the basement now. So, we have a concrete wall between the two. We have concrete floors where the toilet and the bathtub is installed. Now, between the bathtub and the other wall, the plumbing is in there. That’s not concrete; that is framed in.
So that has – we have access to that in the room next door. But the question is – we want to install another bathroom – a half-bath – so we want a toilet and a sink. The sink is no problem as – because of what I just said about the plumbing being roughed-in there. But boy, how do – we really want to do this, so it’s going to take some, I assume, some demolition work to get down into that.
TOM: So what room do you want the half-bath to be in? Is it going to be on the same level as the existing bathrooms?
PHILIP: That is correct. It’s in the lower level. It’s basically the same as – you could just say it’s a basement. The only difference is is that the wall between the bath that is there now and the bedroom right next door, which where we want the half-bath, is a concrete wall.
TOM: OK. So you’re worried about getting through the wall that separates these two bath spaces. So you have concrete below, then you have a concrete dividing wall? What about the ceiling? Is that typical wood construction?
PHILIP: It is.
TOM: So, OK. Well, there’s two ways to do this. Number one, yes, you could dig out the floor and break that area out, try to find the intersection with the waste pipe on the other side of that wall. Or you could use what’s called a “lift pump.”
So there are toilets out there that have pumps that are built into them that when you flush them – and you can spill the water waste from the sink into this, as well – it essentially activates a pump, it grinds the waste, it runs it up through a pipe and then it would go up into the ceiling and then cut across to the waste line and be dropped down from there. So, that’d be less destructive. The mechanism is a little more complicated, perhaps a little louder than a typical toilet flush but they work very, very reliably. And they’re very often used in basement-bathroom situations where the toilet position is below the main waste line.
PHILIP: Well, no. The main waste line – since the only bath is in the lower level, right next to where I want the half-bath to be – so the waste line is in the floor and it runs out to the south through and right out. And it goes right down into the sewer line outside. So I don’t – there’s no – it’s the same level. So I would really like to hook up to the existing line that is right next to the half-bath that I want to put in.
TOM: Yep. So I’ve got two words for you: jackhammer. You can break up that floor and connect with that line or like I said, you can go up over the wall and drop into the vent pipe, which will no doubt be in that same space. And then, of course, 8 feet below that connects with the waste line. So those are your options. I hope one of those works for you.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, according to the Numerator report, sales of home improvement products were up a whopping 30 percent this January compared to a year ago, when we were all in our sort of non-COVID mode before life changed.
And not only are we focusing on at-home projects right now, this report also shows that online sales of products are nearly twice what they were this time last year. And that’s good news for both DIYers and our next guest, Peter Daich.
TOM: Peter is the president of Daich Coatings and he’s here today to talk about advances in his real stone-coating products.
PETER: Good day to you both. How are you doing?
TOM: We’re doing great.
You know, your products are super unique because you’ve perfected this concept of using real stone inside these coatings. And now, you’re launching a new do-it-yourself terrazzo product. There are few surfaces harder than terrazzo, so I really want to learn how you guys came up with this and how to use it.
PETER: Well, I’ll tell you, Tom, our whole passion with this is that we love stone and we love the way it looks. It’s got a very timeless look and it’s something that people are really drawn to. And we thought, “Let’s take our ingredients, put them together in a way that the outcome is beautiful and also make it something very easy to roll on.” And that’s exactly what we’ve done. You can roll this on and you can change just about any surface, indoors or out, with this product.
LESLIE: Now, what’s the process for applying the terrazzo finish? Do you have to sort of prep the existing surface? Clean it? How do I make sure this is going to stick?
PETER: Absolutely, Leslie. Good question.
And yeah, basically, you would clean your existing surface first. So, if you’re going outdoors on concrete, you would give it a good pressure wash to get all the dirt out of there. Or you could even use it indoors. You can use it on a basement floor. It can become your new very decorative floor. It can be something that you put over linoleum or vinyl or all kinds of surfaces.
And basically, once it’s on there, you have a very decorative surface that’s going to last and that will also offer some slip-resistance, as well.
TOM: That’s really interesting. So you can go on top of an old floor with this?
PETER: You really, truly can.
And the look is beautiful. It’s extremely decorative. And the beautiful thing is all you’re going to do is you’re going to roll this on. And nothing could be easier. It’s, frankly, mindlessly simple to put this on. And the effect is just stunning.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about the durability. I mean outside, especially, you’ve got a lot of wear and tear. You’ve got UV, you’ve got hot tires in the summer. We did a lot of snow-shoveling this year. The salt that comes off of the roads. How does this stand up to all that?
PETER: Absolutely beautifully. And it was all formulated specifically for that. Here, in North America, we have snow and we have slush and we have salt and we have everything that you’re going to throw at it. So, we know, from years of experience, what we need to do to make this work. So, basically, you can shovel it, you can drive on it, you can park your car on it. It’s incredibly tough. It stays looking beautiful. It cleans very easily. It’s something that’s really meant to last.
TOM: So the product is called Terrazzo. It’s available from Daich Coatings. You can go to DaichCoatings.com, learn more about it. You can also find it at Lowes.com.
Peter Daich, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Sounds like another great product.
PETER: Hey, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’re going to talk with Teresa in South Carolina who’s dealing with a wet basement.
Teresa, what’s going on at your money pit?
TERESA: Well, we’ve just recently bought this house and we’ve been here a little over a year. And we were told that the basement floods but we weren’t really aware of how bad it did flood. So, every time we get a heavy rain, it fills up a front landscaping area and it flows in through the bricks, I guess. I’m not sure how it comes in but it comes into the basement.
We’ve talked to several companies and they want to do things inside but I don’t understand why they don’t want to do something on the outside.
TOM: Well, you are absolutely correct because the solution to this problem is not inside. So, what happens in situations like this is, typically, a homeowner will contact a so-called basement-waterproofing company. I think that those titles are inaccurate because these contractors don’t really waterproof anything.
What they really do is just put in a water-evacuation system that allows the water to saturate the foundation perimeter, soak through the walls and fill up your basement. And then before it shows itself, kind of above the floor, they pump it out. But you have to know that that allows a lot of damage to happen, even before that water collects to the level where they can pump it. You have increased pressure against the foundation, you have mold growth, all sorts of things.
So, you are absolutely correct in that you need to stop this on the outside. And the good news is is it’s really not that hard, nor that expensive to do. So there’s two areas you need to focus on: one is grading and the other is roof drainage. So we’ll start with the biggest culprit and that’s roof drainage.
You need to look at all of the gutters that are on your house. You need to make sure that, first of all, you have gutters. Secondly, that you have an adequate number of downspouts on those gutters. And you want to kind of stand back sort of from the street level, look up at your roof, try to do a little sort of rough, back-of-the-hand math. Because you want 600 to 800 square feet of roof surface draining into each downspout. So if you have one downspout and you have a bunch of roof surfaces going into it, it might be that that gets overwhelmed and therefore, the gutter will overflow even if it’s not clogged. Of course, to that point, they have to be clog-free.
And most importantly of anything else is this: you must, must, must extend the discharge from that leader at least 4 to 6 feet from the house. Because we need to move this away from what’s called the “backfill zone.” That’s the area of soil that’s dug out when you build the foundation. You need to get the water beyond that 4- to 6-foot perimeter.
Now, you can do this simply by putting in an additional piece of leader material on there. And of course, it’s not very attractive; it’s somewhat unsightly. But I would at least do that for starters so that you can prove to yourself that this works. And then later on, if you want to try to make it neater, you could always sink some underground, solid PVC pipe and drain through that and perhaps discharge it into the street or some other lower area on your property.
Now, once that’s set, then you could look at the grading at that foundation perimeter, starting on the area where you see water collecting. And you want to make sure that the soil slopes away about 6 inches over 4 feet. And that soil has to be well-tamped fill dirt, not topsoil. Topsoil is very organic. Sometimes when folks have drainage issues, they put more topsoil on it. That’s kind of like throwing sponges around your house. You want to create that slope with clean fill dirt. It’s more of a kind of clay-like, compactable-type soil that can be sloped to drop that 6 inches over about 4 feet. Over that, you can put a little topsoil to sustain growth or plantings or whatever but you need to get that slope established first.
So this way, you have direct rainfall, hits that grade, runs off and all of the water that collects on the roof hits those downspouts and gets discharged well away from the house. Those two things will stop this wet basement. And I know that for certain because when you said that your basement floods after heavy rain, all of that always sources on the outside. It’s not a rising water table and that’s the only time you’d ever need to put in below-grade drains, such as what these waterproofing companies are suggesting.
TERESA: OK. Great. I really appreciate your help.
TOM: Well, you’re welcome. And I’m so glad we could get to you before you spent the money on waterproofers, because I can’t tell you how many times we get this same call after someone has spent $10,000 or $20,000 on a waterproofer only to find out that they still have the same problem.
TERESA: Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, if your family is like ours, you probably use your garage door more than your front door to get in and out of the house. But if that door is old and worn, it might not only be unsafe, it could also be providing easy access for intruders when you’re not home.
So, we’ve got a few tips on what to look for in a new garage door. First, the garage-door designs today are amazing. It used to be that you had to choose from heavy wood doors that needed a lot of upkeep, to metal doors that were prone to rust and very cold. But today, there’s a wide variety of composite and fiberglass doors available that look amazingly like wood. And they need virtually no care at all. Plus, the doors are really better insulated and they keep the drafts out of your garage. And that’s especially nice if you like to use that space to work in.
LESLIE: Yep. And in addition to better doors, we also now have much better door openers.
Now, today’s garage-door openers are fully-integrated, smart-home technology which enables you to open and close that door right from your smartphone, from virtually anywhere in the world.
Now, new openers even can trigger an alert if you’ve left your home and left that door open. Imagine that: no more worrying every day, “Did I close the door? I think I closed the door? Nah, maybe I didn’t.” Well, I mean it’s really a great piece of technology.
And the openers themselves are also safer than what they were years ago, with improved auto-reverse mechanisms that’s going to help prevent injury, as well as battery backups that can be super handy in the event you lose power.
TOM: Now, finally, replacing your garage door is one improvement that can also deliver a huge return on investment. Upwards of 90 percent, by the way, when it comes time to sell. All great reasons that now is a good time to upgrade your garage-door opener or the entire door.
LESLIE: Carl in Arkansas is on the line with a thermostat question. How can we help you?
CARL: I bought an older house and it’s – the thermostat that’s in it now for the heating and air conditioner is an old mercury switch. And what I bought is a Honeywell 5-2 switch, a programmer for 5 weekdays and then 2 weekend days. And what I’m wanting to know is, can I – is that something I can change out myself or is that something I need to hire an electrician to come do? The package says easy to install but I’ve looked it over and it doesn’t look like it’s that easy to me.
TOM: Well, look, if you’re uncomfortable with it, I would not hire an electrician. Kind of heat do you have? Is it gas? Oil? What is it?
CARL: It’s electric.
TOM: Oh, it’s electric heat. What kind of furnace do you have?
TOM: Is this a heat pump?
CARL: No, no, no. It’s not a heat pump. That’s one thing I didn’t want was a heat pump.
TOM: It’s a straight electric furnace?
CARL: Right. Straight electric furnace and it has an outside unit, which is also a Trane.
TOM: Uh-oh. Wait a minute. Listen to me. If you’re telling me you have an outside condensing unit that works with this, you’ve got a heat pump. You’ve got the compressor outside and then the furnace inside.
Now, a heat pump is a combination heat pump/electric furnace. That’s the way they’re designed to work. And the reason that that’s important is because the thermostat that you chose – and I don’t know that this is the case or not but it has to be rated for a heat pump.
Because the way heat pumps work is when you set your heat – let’s say you set your heat at 68 degrees. It starts getting cold outside, right? Then inside the house, it falls to 67, the heat pump comes on. Still cold, falls to 66, heat pump stays on. Still cold, falls to 65, now it’s at more than 2-degrees split between what it was set at and what it is. The heat pump says, “I can’t keep up with this. I’m going to bring on my friend, the electric furnace.” So now the electric-furnace coils kick on and then bring the house up to temperature.
But by you not having the right thermostat, what can happen is you can run more of the electric furnace and less of the heat pump, which will significantly increase your electric bill. So, the thermostat you choose has got to be designed for a heat pump.
So I would say your first thing to do is to confirm – I don’t know if you have an HVAC contractor that you work with but get that system serviced. All these compressors have to be serviced once a year. If you haven’t done it, get it serviced, get the refrigerant checked out. While that guy is in the house, have him install a heat pump-rated thermostat. Because you’re obviously uncomfortable with it and we don’t want you to have all those wires apart and just have a problem where you’ve got no heat or no air.
So I wouldn’t do it myself, because you’re uncomfortable with it. And when in doubt, don’t do it. But make sure you use the right thermostat. Otherwise, you may drive up those costs unexpectedly. OK?
CARL: OK. Well, I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, even if you can do it yourself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do it yourself. And just like Carl said, if he read the instructions and it still seems confusing to him, then don’t do it. If you’re not comfortable with it – and especially if it’s something like your furnace where if you hook up the wires wrong – you’re probably not going to break it but you’re not going to have heat and that could be very unpleasant.
LESLIE: Frank in California wants to replace windows this spring if he can get them out. Now, Frank says, “I want to replace windows in the walls of stucco. What’s the best way to cut and remove the stucco?”
I guess he wants to do replacement windows?
TOM: Well, no, I think he thinks he has to do new windows and he wants to tear out the walls from the outside.
You don’t have to do that, Frank. What you could do is use replacement windows. All you’ll need to do is remove the operable sashes. That’s the part of the window that slides up and down. Or if you have casement windows, the windows that tilt in and out. You remove those and then you can have new windows built that fit right into those existing old frames and not have to deal with any damage to the stucco whatsoever. That is definitely the easiest way to do new windows in a home like yours and frankly, for many homes.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you out, Frank.
Now, Ted writes: “I have water damage on a wall next to my chimney, where the paint is blistered, cracked and stained. I’ve never seen water run down the wall or collect but I’m not sure if it’s active. What’s the best way to know if it’s an ongoing problem and what do I need to do?”
TOM: What you want to do, to determine if it’s an ongoing problem, is – I mean the right way to do this is with a tool called a “moisture meter.” But I’m guessing, since you don’t have one of those, I think if it was an ongoing problem, you would know it. So what I would do is I would sand this area lightly to get rid of any loose material that’s there. And then I would use an oil-based primer on it, right? Not latex but oil-based, because it really seals it in well. And then I would repaint it and watch what happens.
You must use the primer, though, because if you don’t, those old stains will pull right through and then you’ll know for sure.
And by the way, if it’s your chimney, then the source is most likely the flashing right above it. And that could be easily fixed.
LESLIE: Yeah. And then you won’t have to paint ever again. Just do it once and then fix that leak and you’ll be good to go.
TOM: Well, are you ready to take out the shorts and the swimsuits and the light jackets out of storage? It’s a great way to start your spring. But it can turn into a pretty big disappointment if you find that they’ve been ravaged by insects or moths. Leslie shares a timeless solution you can build yourself, that can take care of all that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, for centuries, cedar has been used to keep bugs and moths from turning your wardrobe into their favorite food source. Now, cedar not only repels pests but it also resists mildew, which means that turning a standard closet into a cedar closet can keep your belongings safe for years to come.
Now, you can add as much or as little cedar as you want to the walls of an existing space. But it’s most effective if you line the space in full, including the ceiling and the back of the door.
To start, you want to make sure you go with aromatic red cedar. It’s the type that gives off a scent that’s going to keep the moths away. You an either nail the tongue-and-groove cedar to the studs, you can attach it using construction adhesive or you can do a combination of both. Now, you want to sand the cedar lightly once a year or so to rejuvenate that scent and bring it back to that wonderful aroma that the bugs hate.
And in addition to dealing with the moths, silverfish are another insect that can cause damage to your belongings. And there are a few natural solutions that can help, including citrus-fruit peels, cucumber peels, cinnamon cloves, lavender oil, cedar oil, even sachets of herbs that are having – rosemary, eucalyptus, sage, basil. They smell great to us but not so much to the silverfish.
Now, when you use peels, you have to make sure that you replace them every few days. But they double as a very natural air freshener and it’s going to keep your house smelling great.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, if you’re ready to take on a painting project this spring, using one of the new paint-and-primer-in-one products sounds like it can save you a step. But are the paint-and-primer products designed for every painting predicament? We say no and we’ll explain why, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2021 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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