- Replacing your garage door can be a simple and affordable project that delivers a 94% return on investment when the house is sold. Get tips on the many styles, colors and designs for garage doors and how to choose from and how to select a garage door that’s right for you.
- As the saying goes, good fences make great neighbors. But as simple as it seems, adding a fence is something many DIY’rs get wrong. We’ll walk you tips for picking out the best fence so you can get it right, the first time.
- If you’ve been dealing with expensive cooling bills, stuffy room or a dusty house, the problem may be your duct system. Learn how to check your ducts for leaks and fix them fast.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Tracy in Texas wants to know how to get started with a universally designed bathroom.
- Tyler asks how to deal with moles that are tearing up his lawn
- Janet in Georgia is wondering when the best time to stain a wood deck would be.
- Ian from Vancouver wants to know if there is a tip to nailing hardwood floor when you get close to the wall.
- Carol in Texas is wondering how to restore her sloped driveway without digging it out completely.
- Robert in Michigan asks if there is any composite material that can keep from fading.
- Judy in Florida wants to know how to refurbish her laminate countertop.
- Ed in Tennessee is trying to refurbish a crawlspace for his pets and wants to know what concerns he should have.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we hope you guys are surviving these dog days of August. It’s been very, very hot and humid and muggy in our part of the woods. But I’d rather have that than the below-freezing temperatures that I know are just a few months away.
LESLIE: I love the winter.
TOM: Yeah. I know, right? I don’t even want to think about that.
But if you guys are tackling some projects during these warmer days or maybe you’re dreaming of some projects you want to take on when it lightens up a little bit, maybe gets a little more refreshing to work outside in the fall, whatever’s on your to-do list – whether it’s a repair, an improvement, a decorating challenge, a decorating dilemma, if something broke down, you don’t know which way to go – this is the kind of thing that we can help you with. We’ve been at this for 20 years. We’ve got experience in everything you can imagine when it comes to houses. I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector. Leslie grew up with a pencil in her hand. She’s been decorating ever since, right?
LESLIE: It’s true.
TOM: I mean you grew up with a dad that was a famous architect and a decorator and taught you, from the first time you had a crayon in your hand, what colors go together, right? Or maybe you had to make up your own.
LESLIE: You know, I wasn’t allowed to move furniture without a floor plan, so …
TOM: There you go, right? So that’s what kind of experience that we have to help you. We’ll be happy to take your calls, your questions. You can reach out to us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Leave a message, we’ll call you back the next time we’re in the studio. Or post your questions to MoneyPit.com. We hope to get to as many of you today as we can.
Hey, coming up on today’s show, when you look outside your house, does the garage door rank as the most boring surface you see? It often does if it’s an older door. But today, there are many styles and colors and new looks for garage doors to choose from. And replacing that door can be a simple and affordable project. So we’re going to walk you through what’s out there and how to get the job done, just ahead.
LESLIE: And as the saying goes, good fences make great neighbors. But as simple as it seems, adding a fence is something many DIYers get wrong. We’re going to walk you through the project so you can get it right the first time.
TOM: And if you’ve been dealing with expensive cooling bills and stuffy rooms or a dusty house, the problem may be your duct system. We’re going to walk you through how to check your ducts for leaks and fix them fast, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you are working on. How can we help you create your best home ever? Whether you’re doing or dreaming, home improvement really is a fantastic adventure and we can help you get to the other side.
TOM: So reach out to us right now, again, by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 or posting your questions to MoneyPit.com.
So let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Tracy in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a universal-design project. Tell us what you’re working on.
TRACY: I have a daughter who’s 21 years old and we need some help when it comes to bathing her. We’re looking at doing a bathroom addition onto her room but we don’t even know, really, how to get started. Do we need to consult with an architect on the design advice? She’s homebound, medically fragile, 100-percent disabled and we just are looking at some advice on how to even get started to meet her needs so that we only have to do this one time.
LESLIE: Is a tub situation easier for you or is a shower?
TRACY: Probably a shower.
LESLIE: OK. Because there are the tubs with the doors that open. It depends on how difficult it would be to sort of move her from chair to seated tub position. It just depends on how comfortable you are with the bathing situation, if you want to get in there and get wet.
But Tom and I have actually done a lot of work with universal design and are quite familiar with some of the processes.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And I do think it’s a good idea to use a certified kitchen-and-bath designer and that’s somebody who is going to be specializing in universal design. You’re going to ask specifically for someone that has that talent, because they’re going to be up-to-speed on the best products that are out there for your particular situation, be able to recommend appropriately and you’re going to get a bathroom that actually looks nice and functions well for you.
I would not – would not – call a standard remodeling contractor. Because a remodeling contractor will say, “Yeah, I understand. I know what to do.” And you know what? They just don’t, because it’s very specialized.
In fact, some years ago, Leslie, didn’t the AARP have a special certification program for contractors and architects that were working with universal-design situations?
LESLIE: They did. It was through the Home Builders Association. And they had a special course that you could take to become certified as a universal-design specialist. So you might want to start with the AARP’s website, just to find some recommendations of folks in your area who are certified. I believe it was called the CAPS – Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist – Program.
And even though that’s not necessarily your need, it has similar associations. So you might want to start there, as far as just trying to find somebody who can help you find the right products. Because you want something that looks good; you don’t want it to feel like a hospital. You want it to function and you want it to be done right the first time.
TOM: They have a lot of resources for universal design. Probably the best collection anywhere online is on the AARP website. You just simply click on the Home & Family section and then Home Improvement and you’ll find a lot there.
They also have a section on livable communities, because the universal design just makes sense for folks of any age, whether you are a senior citizen, whether you are disabled or whether you are just a mom that comes home with her arms full of grocery bags and needs to pop open a door with her elbow because she can’t really turn a doorknob. There’s tips like that that really make it so much easier for you to live comfortably in your house, regardless of age or physical condition. So I would start there, as well.
But make sure you work with people that are experienced in universal design. There are lots and lots of people out there. You’ve just got to find them, OK?
TRACY: Great. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Tyler in South Dakota is on the line who’s got some unwanted visitors in the yard: moles. Have you bitten it more than once in the yard, due to their little hole-digging?
TYLER: Yes, it’s actually been quite the adventure having those little, friendly guys in your yard.
LESLIE: And they’re so adorable, aren’t they?
TYLER: Yeah, they are. They’re wonderful.
So, we’ve been having this problem with moles and I think what this animal is called is called a “vole” – v-o-l-e.
TOM: Vole. Yeah, very similar to a mole.
LESLIE: It’s like a mole/hamster.
TOM: The reason they’re there, Tyler, is they’re looking for food. And specifically, they’re looking for grubs.
TYLER: Oh, that was – I was going to ask you about that, because my backyard has been hit by these dry patches which, I just found out, I think are grubs.
TOM: Yeah. It all is making sense now, right?
TOM: Because the grubs are in your lawn, they’re killing your lawn. The moles are probably saving part of your grass, because they’re eating the grubs. But what you need to do is get some grub control at GrubEx on that lawn. And that will get rid of the grubs. And once the grubs are gone and there’s no food left, the moles will move on naturally to your neighbors and try to find where all the grubs are living.
TYLER: Every 6 weeks? Every 6 months? How often do I put down this …?
TOM: Just follow label directions. And some of these products, you put down once a season.
TYLER: Sounds great. Oh, that’s very helpful. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tyler. Good luck with that project. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Janet in Georgia on the line who wants help with a decking project. What’s going on at your money pit?
JANET: I just had a deck built last month and already, some of the boards are kind of shrinking because it’s been raining on and off a little bit.
JANET: And I was wondering when it would be the best time to stain the wood. Is it that I’m staining it against the water or I’m just staining it in general?
LESLIE: OK. Do you know what material your deck was made out of?
JANET: We bought the wood at Home Depot. It was supposed to be a pretreated wood?
LESLIE: So just a pressure-treated lumber.
JANET: Pressure-treated. That’s correct.
LESLIE: OK. So, really, what I always do with a pressure-treated lumber, just because of the fact that they inject a different type of chemical into the wood itself to make it weather-resistant – so it can be a little wet. And since you’re dealing with a high-moisture situation in your weather anyway, you might just want to give it the summer season to sort of dry out as best it can. And then in the autumn – when you’re dealing with some drier, low-humidity weather – it could be a great time to put a finish on it.
Now, you do want to let it dry out. So if you’re dealing with some wet weather as you’re getting into a weekend that you want to work on the project, wait until you’ve had a good few days of dryness and you know it’s going to be dry the day you’re working, so that that wood does get a chance to dry out. And then, depending on how it looks and the look that you want, I definitely wouldn’t paint it, because paint is just going to sit right on top of that lumber and then just peel off throughout the winter season. And you’ll have to do something again in the spring.
JANET: Right. I really didn’t want painting, because I just like the look of the wood. And I know that there’s something that I have to do every so often. They tell me every year I’d have to stain it or something.
LESLIE: It really depends on what manufacturer’s stain that you buy. And keep in mind there’s solid-color stains and there’s semi-transparent stains. So if you want to see the grain in the wood, you’ll want to go with something more semi-transparent so that you’ll actually get some color or just some natural tone. And you’ll be able to see that grain through it.
And you want to apply it just in the way that the manufacturer says. And you’re probably going to get about 3 years on horizontal surfaces, maybe 5 on vertical before you’ve got to tackle it again. Depends on how dry that lumber is on that decking when you do put the stain on.
JANET: OK. That sounds good.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you guys love pets like we do, we’ve got a fun, new contest that’s live now on MoneyPit.com. It’s called the Post a Picture of Your Pet Photo Contest and it is pawsented (ph) – get it? Pawsented (ph) by LL Flooring.
LESLIE: Now, to enter, guys, all you need to do is post a picture of your pet with a short description and then share your entry and invite your friends to vote. The top three vote-getters are going to receive a $1,000 gift card from LL Flooring, as well as a $50 gift card from Chewy. Something for you, something for your pet. I love it.
Now you can choose from any of LL …
TOM: All works out.
LESLIE: It really does.
Now you can choose from any of LL Flooring’s beautiful styles, including scratch-resistant floors, as well as water-resistant laminate, waterproof tile or waterproof vinyl.
TOM: Enter today at MoneyPit.com/Contest. That’s the Post a Picture of Your Pet Photo Contest at MoneyPit.com/Contest.
LESLIE: Heading north to Ian in Vancouver. Well, I guess north and west. Now, Ian is working on a flooring project and having some difficulty in the corner. Tell us about it.
IAN: I’m putting down hardwood floor in my son’s bedroom. And as I get close to the wall with the flooring stapler, I can’t drive the staples into the planks and into the plywood below. And so I’m wondering if I should take a finishing nailer and finish those planks as I get closer to the wall or if there’s another solution to that problem.
TOM: Hey, Mike. That’s a great question and I’ve certainly worked a lot with floors over the years. And I understand what you’re saying because the hardwood floor nailer – the nailer that’s designed to work with tongue and groove – you need some space between that – behind that so that you can drive the plank in. And when you get close to the wall, of course, you don’t have that space.
So here’s the trick of the trade: you drop the pieces of wood in as you get closer to the wall but because you can’t get to the tongue part of it to nail it in, you are going to use a finish nail. Now, the key to using a finish nail, though, is you can’t just drive it in the board because one of two things will happen: either the finish nail will bend or the board will crack. So what you want to do is essentially drill a hole – a pilot hole – for the finish nail.
But I’m going to give you a really creative way to do that that I’ve done for years and years and years. It works great. And that is to take that finish nail and stick the nail in your drill so that the nail itself becomes the drill bit. And in doing so, what it does is it sort of separates the fibers of the wood but it doesn’t really cut them. So, it allows the nail to pass through it but it doesn’t really put a lot of slack around the nail.
Now, you can do this with a finish nail as the drill bit itself or if you’re doing a lot of it, you can invest in a really handy tool. I think it’s made by Vermont American and it’s called the Nail Spinner. And it’s designed for just that. You put this in a drill and it’s kind of like a chuck that’s designed to hold a finish nail. You stick the finish nail on the end of the Nail Spinner, the Nail Spinner’s in the drill and then you spin it into the hardwood. Pull the drill and the Nail Spinner off and then finish it off by hammering it right through and down.
So, a finish nail is definitely the way to go. And make sure that you fill those holes and blend it in nicely and I might even put a little bit of glue under those boards. This way, you can use fewer nails when you’re trying to tie them down.
Well, from the top of the roof down to the grass on the lawn, the curb appeal of a home is determined by lots of things, including your garage door. But according to the 2021 Cost Versus Value study by Remodeling Magazine, a garage-door replacement has the highest cost recoup value of any home improvement project. The highest. It’s amazing.
LESLIE: Now, a new door can return 93.8 percent of the project’s cost when it comes time to sell, which is why now is a better time than ever to update that garage door. And if that’s a project that you’d like to tackle, here are three tips to help from the expert at Haas Door.
TOM: Now, first you want to take a step back and look at the home overall. Think about the style of the home’s exterior, the colors on the house and the textures. Then determine what kind of a garage door would look best – smooth or wood grain – and what color or texture would best complement the home’s overall exterior.
LESLIE: Yeah. Next, you’ve got to decide if a solid garage door or one with windows that allow light into the garage will work best for your home. If you’re choosing windows, you’ve got to look at the style of window on the front of the home, including the grids and along with the windows that you’ve got in the front door. Then, you want to look for a garage door that has a very similar window style.
TOM: And be sure you select a garage door that can handle weather conditions for your region. So, for example, if your home is in an area that is prone to hurricanes or high winds, you’ll need to choose a door that’s built to meet the Miami-Dade building code, which is pretty much well known as the strongest building code for hurricane resistance.
If you’d like more tips, you can read our post “How to Pick the Perfect Garage Door,” which is online now at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Pat in Iowa is on the line with a question about painting. What can we do for you today?
PAT: Yes. I would like to paint my aluminum siding on my home. I can’t afford to side it right now and I was wondering if it’s possible to paint aluminum siding.
TOM: Absolutely. There’s no reason you can’t paint aluminum siding. What you want to do is clean the house really well, power-wash it perhaps. And then you’re going to have to prime that siding. That’s really important.
LESLIE: Otherwise, nothing is going to stick.
TOM: Exactly. So you need to do a primer coat.
PAT: OK. Well, what kind of primer?
TOM: Well, you’re going to use a primer that’s designed to work with the paint that you select.
So, for example, if you’re going to work with the Benjamin Moore family of paints, you’re going to use a Benjamin Moore primer.
TOM: And the primer is the glue; it’s the adhesive coat. That’s what makes the paint stick. And then you put the topcoat on top of that.
PAT: Now, will this peel on the south side where the sun hits?
TOM: No, not if you do a good job on the prep. That’s why we’re telling you to prime it. And because the siding is metal, that paint job should last you a good 8 to 10 years. It lasts less if it’s an organic material, like wood siding. But with metal siding, it can last a long time if it’s done well.
PAT: Oh, good. That’s a good thing to know. OK. I wasn’t sure I could even do it. I thought maybe it would just peel right off.
Now, the power wash, is that with – I’d have to hire somebody to probably do that.
TOM: Yeah, unless you happen to have your own pressure washer, yeah, you’d have to hire somebody to do that. And they’ll use a detergent and clean off any dirt and debris and algae and so on that’s on the metal. Then you let it dry really, really well. Then you prime, then you paint.
It’s a big project, Pat. If you’re not comfortable with 10-foot and 20-foot ladders, depending on how high your house is, you might want to hire a painter to do this.
PAT: No, I’d probably hire someone else to do it but do you think it’d be real expensive? Or would I be better off to find a good vinyl-siding man to put …?
TOM: Well, I think that you don’t have to side the house. You don’t have to put siding. You can paint this house and paint it successfully and I think it will be less expensive than siding.
PAT: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
LESLIE: Well, whether it’s a matter of keeping your kids in or keeping the noises out or just getting some privacy, a good fence can really do all of those things for you and it also acts as sort of a stylish frame for your yard. But building a fence is more than a matter of just putting in some posts and putting up some fencing. There’s really a lot to consider. You’ve got to think about the design, the building regulations, all of that before you start.
So, Tom, first of all, what should we be thinking about when we’re planning a project of a fence?
TOM: Yeah, so there’s a few things to put into that initial plan. First of all, think about what your purpose is here, because it’s going to determine the types of fence and the landscaping you do around it. So, if it’s noise reduction, that’s one thing. If you’re trying to keep pets in, if this is just sort of an aesthetic statement, different designs are going to give you better results for some of these specific needs.
So if it’s noise reduction, for example, you’re going to want some dense landscaping that alternates with one row close to the fence and one row sort of away from the fence so it has the opportunity to break up the sound waves. If it’s pets, that’s another thing. If it’s aesthetics and you want to see the beautiful, green lawn beyond the fence, you’re going to use something that’s maybe like a black metal fence. So, you have to think about those purposes first.
Now, when it comes to your neighbors and local regulations, this is where you definitely don’t want to get it wrong. You need to figure out whether the fence meets zoning requirements and if any permits are required. Because in many towns, you’re going to have a height limitation, you may have some gate requirements and so on. If you’re in doubt, you need to talk to the planning or construction department of your municipality and find out what’s up.
Next, let your neighbors in on the plan. You know, people take things in different ways. They get weird sometimes. But if you just say, “Hey, just want to let you know I’m putting a fence up. And the good side’s going to face your property.” Because that’s a requirement, by the way: you have the good side out.
And of course, you need to be really sure where that property line is. You do not want to mess that up because if you do, you might be giving the neighbor a fence instead of one on your side. So make sure that you’re following that property line and you know exactly where that is.
And if you let them know in advance that this is going to happen, then it doesn’t bode any resentment from neighbor to neighbor, which is just something you can easily avoid if you just kind of bring them in on the communication.
LESLIE: So, Tom, you were mentioning different types of materials, different styles of fencing. How do you know what the right type of fence material is for your home? You want to make sure it’s going to wear well and withstand the elements, so how do you choose?
TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean you’ve got, for example, wood or vinyl or chain link. If you don’t want any maintenance at all, you would probably go with vinyl. But even saying that, I know that vinyl tends to grow algae and moss a little bit more quickly, in some cases, than wood. So no matter what you do, you’re going to have some level of maintenance.
But in my home, I’ve always gone with wood fences, because I just like the traditional wood fence. But before I put fencing up, first of all, I treat it with a preservative especially if it’s not a pressure-treated material. And then I stain it and I always stain it with solid color because I know that the more pigment in the stain, the longer it’s going to last.
And finally – and this is a really important tip and it’s one that you have to almost instruct fence installers to do if you’re not doing this yourself. And that is to make sure you keep adequate space below the fence, because the quickest way to wear out your fence is to have it sink into contact with grade. If it sinks into the lawn or if it sinks to the point where the grass is always sort of over top of it or the weeds are on top of it or they’re growing up over it so it’s always staying wet, it’s going to rot. So, I set my fences so they’re at least 6 inches off grade, maybe even a little bit more.
In my case, I wasn’t trying to keep a small dog inside the yard or anything like that. But this way, I know that air is getting under there and it’s drying it out. And frankly, I’ve had fencing last 15 years that was spruce, which should’ve rotted in 5 but last three times that much because I didn’t let it get too wet. And I made sure I treated it properly when I first installed it.
LESLIE: All of those are good tips. So when you’re thinking about a fence project, keep all of that in mind and remember: keep those neighbors happy, as well.
Robert in Michigan needs some help with a composite deck. How can we help you?
ROBERT: I was just wondering, have the composite materials for the deck – have they come up with anything yet that is good for not fading? I’ve run into some problems with the materials I have available to me here in Northern Michigan. I don’t know if it’s the weather or the sunshine or what but the composite materials seem to fade real bad up here.
TOM: That’s interesting. You know, I’ve not seen that and I’ve used composite decking for many, many years. There is a company out called Kleer – K-l-e-e-r. It’s got a product called Kleer Decking. They’re one of the new sponsors of our show. And I had a chance to look at their product up close at the Remodelers’ Show just a few months ago and I was pretty impressed by it.
And the Kleer Decking is made of PVC and so the color is solid through this. It comes in seven different colors and I don’t think you’d see any fade with that. And they’ve got a lifetime warranty, so I doubt they’d put that on there if there were any fade issues.
TOM: I think that the newer products are probably pretty good and going to protect against fade. Take a look at their website. It’s KleerDecking.com. It’s a good place to start. K-l-e-e-r-Decking.com.
ROBERT: OK. I’ll do that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Judy in Florida is on the line with a countertop situation. What happened? You scraped it? You cut it? What’d you do?
JUDY: The previous owners had painted it and I took a razor blade and went up under it and I was able to get all of that paint off. But evidently, they sanded the tops and I would like to bring some life back into the top.
LESLIE: So, wait, is it wood? Is it butcher block? Is it laminate?
JUDY: It’s laminate, yes. And it’s in good shape. It’s just that it’s dull. It’s got the marble look.
LESLIE: You’ve got a couple of options. You could paint it again. There are several different companies that make a laminate painting kit. Rust-Oleum has a couple of different products: Modern Masters and – oh, Tom, there was that one we saw in Vegas. It’s named after the guy’s daughter; it’s got two marbling kits in it.
JUDY: Yeah, I have seen that and I prefer not to do that. I read an article somewhere – and I cannot find the article – that said that you could use car wax, paste wax and buff it?
JUDY: Would that look – the countertop looks fine; it just needs a gloss. I don’t want a real high gloss; I just want it to look better.
TOM: Well, there’s no reason you couldn’t use the car wax. It’s not all – except that I wouldn’t want my food to be in contact with it. But other than that, I think it – probably OK.
JUDY: That’s a good idea, surely. Well, I thank you for your time, your suggestions.
TOM: You’re very welcome.
JUDY: I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, have you been paying high utility bills, maybe for your A/C, this summer? Do you feel like your rooms are a bit stuffy? Is there a lot of dust around the house? According to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, it could very well be your duct system. We’ve got some DIY tips to help you seal off those energy leaks and improve your comfort, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Cash Rewards Customized Credit Card.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, it’s important to understand the basics. Now, in houses with forced-air heating-and-cooling systems, the ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. And a duct system that is properly sealed and insulated can make your home more comfortable and more energy-efficient.
However, in a typical home, about 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, even poorly-installed ductwork. Now, the result is that your utility bill is going to be higher and get higher and higher. And then it’s hard to keep the house comfortable no matter what you set the thermostat at.
TOM: But how do you know if your ducts actually leak and what does it exactly take to fix them? Well, here’s a DIY approach to finding and sealing duct problems in your house.
You want to start by inspecting the ducts that you can see. So, ducts in the basement, in the attic, in the garage. Ask yourself a few questions. First, are there any obvious holes or gaps or disconnections in the ducts? If there is duct tape – the old-fashioned gray tape – is it dried out and loose and kind of cracking and crumbly? Are the connections, where the ducts connect to vents and registers, are they all well-sealed where they meet the floor and the wall and the ceiling? If you have flex ducts – those are the kind that are usually foil-faced and insulated – you want to make sure that there’s no places where there’s hard turns with those. They have to have gentle curves; they can’t have 90-degree curves. And they’re not ripped, they’re not torn, they’re not squashed. Often, they’ll get stepped on if you have storage up in the attic or you’ve had tradesmen up there. They can get completely disconnected.
I’ve found, in the years I spent as a professional home inspector, an entire piece of duct system disconnected. In fact, for those that work in attic spaces, I know that one of the tricks of the trade is to actually take a supply duct and disconnect it from one of the systems so that you can cool off the attic while you work and maybe they forgot to put it back.
Now, if you find any leaks or holes, you need to seal those but you need to seal them with something called “mastic,” which is a special type of putty sealant that’s designed for ducts. Or you could use tape but not the old, gray duct tape that you’re so familiar with for every other kind of repair. That is not actually designed for ducts, believe it or not. And what’ll happen is it will dry out and fall off.
There’s a type of tape that is metal-backed. It has a foil face. Its technical name is UL 181 tape and that’s what you need to seal in your ducts. Use that to wrap any of those loose connections, especially where the ducts go through unconditioned spaces: so again, attics, basements, crawlspaces, garages. Make sure those ducts are sealed and wrapped with duct insulation and that will keep them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter.
LESLIE: Well, that’s pretty straightforward. It really is an easy DIY project that will bring you year-round comfort and energy efficiency.
And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: Apply for yours at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Ed in Tennessee on the line who has a question about a crawlspace. How can we help you today?
ED: I’m thinking about putting my dogs in my crawlspace. I’ve got a large crawlspace and I was wanting to – they’re big dogs and I was going to take and build beds out of treated lumber and put shavings in them – cedar shavings. And just wondering if there’s something I haven’t thought about doing that, if there’s a downside to it.
TOM: Well, are they house-trained? Are they going to treat the crawlspace like the backyard, so to speak?
ED: They’re house-trained.
TOM: As long as they’re going to keep it clean down there, my friend, I don’t see any reason why you might not want to do that. It certainly will be cool and comfortable for them in that space in the summer.
ED: That’s what I was thinking, so …
TOM: It’s pretty much like leaving them outside except they’ve got a little shade.
TOM: But as long as they’re not going to cause any problems in there and use it as a bathroom, then I wouldn’t worry about it.
ED: Alright. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You know, Leslie, we were talking earlier about return on investment when you make an improvement to your house. And the front door, fixing that thing up, actually also is a great ROI because it changes the whole look of your house and really makes people pay attention. And I know that that’s a project you just did. How did it go?
LESLIE: It’s a great project. It’s funny. We have this big, solid mahogany door that I wanted to keep wood and make it look beautiful. But the staining was, quite frankly, a pain in the butt. And it was really looking worse for the wear, because we just get hit with the sun all day on the front door. And so I said, “I’m going to paint it this time and I’m going to paint it black.” And because I don’t have a screen door or anything, I painted it on the hinges. And I had to make sure it stayed open so the sun wasn’t beating on it and the dog didn’t get out. I mean it was a project-and-a-half.
And it’s funny, as the door started to close, the paint would bubble up a little bit. So it was really a battle of making sure the sun didn’t destroy it. And at the end, I closed the door when it was finally dry at the end of the day and there were two lines that were still the primer because of the way the sun was making a shadow on the (inaudible).
TOM: Oh, no.
LESLIE: I couldn’t see that I missed those two spots. But boy, what a difference. And the house looks amazing with the black door. And it’s such a simple, little change.
TOM: That’s a great project.
LESLIE: And I couldn’t believe I didn’t do it sooner.
TOM: Did you take it off the hinges to do it or did you do it in place?
LESLIE: I did it in place only because it’s crazy heavy.
TOM: I know it’s a really heavy door, yeah.
LESLIE: I don’t have a screen door. I don’t – I had no means of doing it on my own.
TOM: Yeah. Right.
LESLIE: So I was like, “I’m just keeping it on.”
TOM: Right, right. If you’re going to do that project yourself and you don’t have a really heavy door and you can take it off, it’s a lot easier to do it when it’s flat on a couple of sawhorses.
LESLIE: And then you can take it out of the sun.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Right.
LESLIE: Maybe wait for a cloudy day.
TOM: Alright. Maria has got a weird situation going on with her bathroom toilet. She says, “That when we flush one toilet, it sucks water from another. Why is it happening and is it a serious problem?”
Well, it’s not a serious problem but I can definitely tell you why it’s happening and it’s ventilation.
LESLIE: Are they vented together?
TOM: Not the bath fan ventilation but – no, the plumbing ventilation. You know those big pipes that come up through your roof that let air into your plumbing system? So, when the water drops, air gets pulled in from one of those pipes to kind of replace it. Now, if they get clogged – if a vent gets clogged between the toilet and the exit point, that’s when you get that gurgling sound or these weird things where it’s going to pull from another place, because it has to get some air in the pipe to resolve that pressure situation.
And so, somewhere, your ventilation system is either disconnected, it’s not installed right, it’s being blocked one way or the other, it could have something in it. But the vent is the issue. And you’re going to have to get a plumber to address that and figure out why the vent is doing that.
But it’s not a serious problem. It could lead to more toilet clogs but yeah, you really ought to get it resolved.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, Jack wrote in saying that his shed roof is under attack from a black walnut tree. He says, “Every year, the walnuts fall from the tree and there’s so many and so heavy that they create holes as big as walnuts in the roof.”
So what is – what can he do to help this? Is there a better roofing material? It’s a vinyl shed roof, by the way.
TOM: Yeah, there is a better – I mean in this case, Jack, I would simply use some roll roofing. Very inexpensive and it’s got a granular surface to it. It could definitely take those walnuts that are falling. It seems to me like your roof is a bit soft. And if it gets torn a little bit by those walnuts that are falling, those holes are going to open up and lead to rot. So I would just put some 3-foot roll roofing right on top of that. You overlap it every 18 inches. It doesn’t look great but it’s going to protect it and I think that’s what’s most important here.
LESLIE: Alright. It sounds like a plan. And I love walnuts. Send them to New York. I’ll eat them all up.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. You can download our podcast at MoneyPit.com/Podcast. We hope that we’ve given you some great tips and ideas and advice on today’s show. We hope that you are staying cool and comfortable in these dog days of summer. If you’ve got a project that you are thinking about doing, you don’t know where to start, reach out to us, 24/7, with those questions at 888-MONEY-PIT or post them to MoneyPit.com because we love to help.
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.)