TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Still in the beginning of a new year of home improvement. What’s on your to-do list for the year ahead? Give us a call. Let’s talk about it at 888-MONEY-PIT. Do you have a money pit improvement project in mind, a décor project, a maintenance project, a remodeling project, maybe an addition or maybe you’ve got had it and you’re ready to move and find a new money pit to work on? Let’s talk about it at 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, when the weather outside is frightful, icicles are not so delightful. They actually can be a sign of ice dams that are forming and those could lead to big roof leaks. We’re going to have tips to avoid that from happening to you, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Plus, have you checked out the prices in the produce aisle lately? You know, guys, fresh herbs and veggies, they’re expensive but you can have fresh, healthy foods year-round by growing your own with veggie container gardens. We’re going to tell you what plants grow best and how you can do that, in just a bit.
TOM: And good news for homeowners: electricity use is down compared to just a few years ago. We’re going to tell you why and give you tips to help you save even more, along with your calls to us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
[radio_anchor listorder=”3″]LESLIE: Wally in Texas is on the line with a question about an exhaust fan. What’s going on?
WALLY: I’ve got a metal roof. It’s a pretty low roof, probably about 6 or 8 foot from my ceiling. And I have an exhaust fan over the kitchen stove. When they put it in, they installed it but they didn’t hook it up. And as I crawled up in the attic, I see where there’s a hole that was drilled up to the plywood, where it exhausted out before. But now it’s just kind of hooked up there and exhaust blows into the attic. Yeah, I disconnected because I said, “This can’t be good.” But I’m not sure if there’s another option to vent it out of the attic or do I have to cut a hole in the metal roof?
TOM: Yeah, you’re going to have to cut a hole in the metal roof and that’s exactly what it’s intended for. So, you can cut you the hole and you can install a proper flange that’s going to be permanently attached to that roof and be assured that it’ll be watertight. But you absolutely have to get that out of the house. Because if not, you’re going to be carrying all that greasy air into the attic space and that’s going to cause a fire, not to mention render any insulation up there pretty much ineffective.
WALLY: Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of. When I moved in, it was disconnected but I thought, “Hmm, I wonder why they disconnected it.” And then when I got up in the attic, I said, “That’s why.”
TOM: Yeah. And the answer became very apparent. Yeah. I mean I guess you could probably turn it sideways and vent it out to a gable wall but it’s really designed to go straight up and out. So, I think that’s the best way to handle it. If it’s not something that you can do comfortably, get a roofing company in there that works on metal roofs. There are special flanges that are designed to go through those roofs and remain leak-free. And then you could install it with confidence.
WALLY: Super. Thank you so much. I’ve been wanting to get up and put that thing up pretty bad, so …
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
[radio_anchor listorder=”4″]LESLIE: Ooh, now we’ve got Catherine from Colorado on the line. Not something we like to deal with: pest control. What is going on with the mice and the rats?
CATHERINE: Well, the downstairs in the house is not finished. So, somehow, they’re getting in downstairs and I see little droppings, different days. So what I’ve been using so far is the – those green pellets of poison? But I’ve heard from a friend that there is a new product out there: the Ultrasonic Plug-In. So I wanted to get information about that, if you would know.
TOM: Yeah, I would skip that. I think that’s kind of junk science. So, I would skip any of those ultrasonic plug-in things.
What you want to do is a couple of things. First of all, you want to eliminate nesting areas. So around the area of your house, if you have firewood, trash cans, debris of any sort that’s anywhere near the foundation, those are nesting areas for rodents. You eliminate those. Secondly, you plug up any openings in the outside walls of that house. Now, mice need something the size of about a quarter or even less to get in, so any openings should be plugged.
Inside the house, you want to make sure that there’s no food for them. So, a lot of times, people will make mistakes by providing food when they don’t realize they’re doing it. For example, I had a friend who used to keep her pet food in the garage and it was a big sack, 50-pound, whatever it was, bag of pet food. Never really even noticed that the mice had dug themselves a nice, little front door for this that wasn’t obvious. And they were just getting a big meal every single day from the pet food. So, look for things like that where food is being left out for them. Moisture is also very attractive to rodents, so water that collects at the foundation perimeter can bring them in.
And inside the house, I think you’re doing the right thing using the baits and the poisons, because that’s – they’re very effective with most of the baits today: for example, the d-CON. One hit of that, so to speak, it takes them out. It’s just one and done.
So, I think all those things together is what’s going to control and reduce the rodent population around this house. OK, Catherine?
[radio_anchor listorder=”2″]LESLIE: Jim in North Carolina is on the line with an HVAC question. What can we do for you today?
JIM: Finishing my basement and looking for some pointers in framing out the HVAC vent runs. I have a vent that goes across the ceiling, perpendicular to the joists, comes to a T and the vents run parallel to the joists for a ways. And just trying to figure out how to frame that and box it in and especially with keeping in the fire-blocking pulls (ph) in mind. So didn’t know if you guys have any pointers on that or not.
TOM: So, you’re talking about return ducts here?
JIM: No, it’s not a return duct. It’s actually a feed duct, you know, a vent. It’s …
TOM: So the trunk line runs perpendicular to the floor joists and then what you’re asking is how do you turn those in between those floor joists, run them to the exterior wall and then up into the room itself?
JIM: Well, no. It’s more like these vents are already run. And I had an HVAC contractor actually come in and they ran flexible vents. I’m trying to frame it in so you can sheetrock it and everything.
TOM: Oh, OK. Well, that’s different.
TOM: So you just want to conceal these. You can build a frame around them. I’ve done that with 5/4×3 bridging material – it’s like a half size of a 2×4 – and constructed a wood frame, attached drywall to it and then spackled it and finished it traditionally. But I will say it’s an awful lot of work. And that’s why in basements, I much prefer drop ceilings these days, for two reasons. First of all, they go in quicker and they’re finished. And secondly, you’ll always have access to the pipes, the wires and the ducts if you need them, if it’s a dropped ceiling.
So, you could frame it in if you want and you would do that with a lighter building material, like five-quarter material. But it is a lot of work. That’s kind of your option.
JIM: OK. I’m finding out it’s a lot of work (inaudible at 0:08:16).
TOM: Yeah. It is.
TOM: It’s like an endless amount of small pieces of drywall and then it’s just way more spackle than you need to make it look right. And so that’s why – I used to do it that way and then I got smarter in my old age and started using dropped ceilings. And I’m a lot happier as a result. And the dropped ceilings today, if you haven’t looked at them recently, they are beautiful. And they can look like tin ceilings and they can look like traditional wood ceilings. There’s lots of options.
So check them out and make the best decision for you, Jim, OK? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, you want to cut your electricity bills? Well, you can with a few simple steps. We’ll have all those details, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now. We want to hear about your home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, I’ll tell you about a project that I tackled yesterday. And people think that you and I are the less famous versions of Bob Vila and Martha Stewart, that we get stuff done always perfectly in our houses all the time.
LESLIE: Oh, I think we’d love to be.
TOM: Well, I was trying to do a favor for Mom and install an attic stair yesterday. And I took the stair apart. And I was getting ready to get some tools out to start disassembling part of it when the alarm in the house went off unexpectedly, because I had apparently disabled one of the sensors that was attached to the stair. So I turned quickly to walk back in the house and shut it off and I tripped. And I fell face-first into some cabinets and I smacked my head, I cut my hand, I threw my back out and the project was done. I was done and the project was done right then and there.
LESLIE: That’s the worst.
TOM: Spent the afternoon in the emergency room. Feeling fine but it was quite an embarrassment, I’ve got to tell you. So, if it’s happened to you, it’s happened to us. Don’t feel bad. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can laugh at us or you can laugh with us.
[radio_anchor listorder=”1″]LESLIE: Cathleen in Texas is on the line and has some questions about a garage floor. What can we do for you?
CATHLEEN: I’ve been considering doing an epoxy covering on my floor with the paint flecks for quite some time. And I was told by someone who does flooring that he would not recommend that, because he said when your hot tires pull into the garage and sit on that flooring, that it breaks the seal. And then where those tires go, that is a constant wear factor. Is there anything better or newer on the market for that type of product or what would you suggest?
TOM: I don’t agree with that at all. In fact, epoxy floor coatings are designed specifically to stand up to hot tires and also icy and salt-covered cars that are dripping on them. If it’s done right, you’ll have proper adhesion. If it’s done wrong, you can get peel-up of the floor. But epoxy floors are designed for garages; they’re designed specifically to take that kind of punishment.
So, I just – I very much disagree with your painter. Maybe he had a bad experience. But if he did, all I can say that remember, it’s unusual to find bad paint but it’s fairly common to find bad painters. And if he skipped a step or didn’t prep the floor properly, that would cause that condition to occur.
CATHLEEN: OK. Well, this gentleman did the staining of concrete floors, so maybe he just didn’t like doing that type of work.
CATHLEEN: I don’t know but …
TOM: Maybe he doesn’t like to paint floors; he likes to stain them. But I’m just telling you I think it works well. Look at the products by QUIKRETE, for example. The epoxy floor products there are fantastic. They’re beautiful, they’re really durable and they go down pretty quickly.
CATHLEEN: Oh, well, that’s great. I really appreciate it.
TOM: Alright, Cathleen. Good luck with that project. Let us know how it comes out.
LESLIE: Well, electricity bills are trending downward, mostly due to the energy-efficient appliances and housing codes calling for more efficient windows, doors, insulation and more. But it also turns out that consumers are much more conscious of what they can do to influence their own energy bills every month, especially when it comes to these daily routines that tend to add to those electricity costs.
TOM: And there are a lot of little things that you can do that really will have an impact. For example, water heaters, right? Most people have these set way too high and that can cause a burn, can lead to scalding but it can also cost you some money. The EPA estimates that a water heater that’s set at 140 degrees or more can waste anywhere from $36 to $61 a year just trying to keep the water at that temperature and more than 400 bucks because of the cost of actually having to bring that water – that additional water – up to that temperature.
So, what you should be doing is keeping your water heater set to no higher than about 110 degrees. And if it’s electric, use a timer. So you turn the water heater off at night and in the middle of the day when nobody’s home. And it really ends up to significant savings. So be aware of those small things because they really do add up to saving you money, over the course of the year, on that electricity bill.
[radio_anchor listorder=”5″]LESLIE: Gayla in California is having an issue with a countertop. Tell us what’s going on.
GAYLA: I am. About four-and-a-half years ago, I remodeled my kitchen and installed Corian countertops. And I used the pattern called Savannah; it’s one of the light ones. So I’m getting ready now to sell my home and looking at the countertops, they’re really – there’s tons, like thousands of hairline scratches. And I’m wondering, how can I bring back their luster? They never were shiny but they were lustrous.
LESLIE: Yeah, they do have a satin finish that looks very rich and nice but obviously, over time, just from normal wear and tear, they are going to dull and not look so great.
There’s a good website that generally specializes in granite and marble care – it’s called StoneCare.com – but they do have some products for Corian. And there’s actually a spray. You know, it’s made to reduce a residue on the surface. I’m not sure it’s going to help you with the scratches but it could be a good starting point. It’s called their Deep Cleaner for Corian. And that might be a good place to start, at least.
GAYLA: OK. Yeah, I don’t know that they’re that dirty. I do keep them quite clean but it’s just a question – it’s just those hairline scratches. And when the sun comes through the window, you really see them.
TOM: What that product does is it will also pull out any residue from all the cleaning that you have been doing so religiously, which is a good thing. The other nice thing, though, about Corian is the scratches can be repaired. And if you – the Corian can be repolished, basically lightly sanded, so to speak and …
GAYLA: Oh, I was wondering about that.
TOM: Right. To actually pull those scratches right out. So that’s not something that I would recommend that you do the first time out.
GAYLA: No, I don’t think so.
TOM: But if you contact a kitchen-cabinet company, for example, they might have an installer and for a reasonably small fee, they might come out and repolish those tops for you. They’re going to have all the tools and the equipment, as well. And probably they can pull many of those scratches right out.
GAYLA: Well, thank you. That sounds like the way to go for me.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project and good luck selling your house.
GAYLA: Well, thank you and best to you both.
[radio_anchor listorder=”6″]LESLIE: Tracy in Missouri is on the line with an HVAC question. How can we help you today?
TRACY: Well, what really the deal is is I had a new unit put in a few years back. And when they put it in, I had that – my home was built in 1964 and they had what they called “spider ductwork” back then and it’s just the old, metal, 5-inch ductwork. And they put a new plenum in and extended off that in some area in my house for some bigger ductwork.
But they said that that existing ductwork would be fine. When they went in and checked it, they said that it was cooling the room fine, because it was in the summer when they did they work. They said there’s a degree or two difference where they expect – kind of normal, because the way it is.
But the problem I’ve got is, in the wintertime, my daughter’s room is the coldest room in the house and in the summer, it’s the hottest. They’ve been down there and checked; everything’s properly connected. And they say that they’ve dampered it down a little bit, so it would push air a little more that way and it’s still not getting in there.
So my question to you is: would it be wiser to just go and get 8- or 10-inch – one single duct going into that room and just have one duct or extend those two – make those – both of the two existing ones – a little bigger with maybe an 8-inch or something like that? Cost is an issue but I want to make sure that it heats or cools efficiently for my daughter.
TOM: Is this – does this house have a central return duct or is the return duct also in the same room?
TRACY: It has a central return duct.
TOM: Well, obviously, they got it wrong. It’s difficult when you try to use a duct system that was designed for a 1960s house. And I know exactly what you mean when you say “spider duct.” I mean basically, you had one big plenum that came off the heating plant and then a bunch of ducts that were like home runs: every duct went to a separate place in the house, as opposed to having a large duct go down the center of the house and then other ducts come off of that.
TRACY: Yes, sir.
TOM: So, clearly, it seems like they got it wrong when they re-laid out the duct system. When these guys have come and said everything’s fine, obviously it’s not fine, because they got it wrong.
There are calculations. It’s called a heat-loss analysis that you actually do if you know what you’re doing and you’re in the heating-and-cooling business, where you know what compass direction the exterior walls are, you measure how much glass is in the room and you take all these other factors into account. And then you design your system so you’re delivering enough BTUs, be it heating or cooling, to that room to be comfortable in the extremes of the summer and the extremes of the winter.
So what you’re suggesting now is can you just make a few changes and see if that makes a difference and my answer is: I don’t know. Because I’ve not done that heat-loss, you’ve not done that heat-loss and if I were you, I would get back with the HVAC contractor that put it in wrong to begin with, in the first place, and get them to do that heat-loss so that we get the right-size ducts going where they should be.
Now, if they’re not going to do that, then your options would be to hire somebody else that really knows what they’re doing, to try to get that adjusted. But generally speaking, airflow is critical, so you want to make sure you have enough airflow. And in terms of the return, improving the return situation can help.
And in a bedroom, often that means putting in a vent that goes through the wall, say, into the hall. It doesn’t really supply anything; it’s just kind of a pass-through where more air from the room can get drawn back to the return. Because the more that goes back to the return, the more supply kind of makes that up in terms on the supply side. And that can make the room more comfortable.
But I hate kind of guessing at this when I know that there is a reasonably accurate and scientific way to do that that these guys have not done.
TRACY: Alright. Thank you very much, Tom. Appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tracy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, do you want to learn how to grow fresh, healthy produce right in your home all winter long? We’re going to give you those steps, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Here to help you make your home more beautiful and more energy-efficient, to add to the home, to repair the home. All great things we love to chat about at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David in Tennessee is on the line with a roofing question. How can we help you?
DAVID: Well, I have a 1965 house with about a 1975 solar water-heater heating system that has – that quit working quite a while ago. And I have a leak somewhere underneath it, I think, but finding that leak has – I’ve been fighting that for a few years now. And of course, the fact is that where it drips from – where the water drips from – and stains my ceiling doesn’t seem to have much to do with the location of the actual leak.
TOM: So, first of all, this water heater – this solar water heater – is 40 years old? Is that what you’re saying?
DAVID: Yeah. Well, yeah. TBA had a program back in those days. We’ve been in this house for almost 45 years, so it really has been a while.
TOM: Yeah, it sounds that way. I’m pretty sure that water heater doesn’t really owe you anything but let’s see if we can help you figure out, at least, where it’s leaking.
Now, if it’s not leaking directly underneath where the water heater is, one of the things that you could do is you could try to run a hose across that roof and strategically move it from one end to the next or across the area where it’s most susceptible. And see if you can figure out what causes it to leak. If that doesn’t do it, then it’s most likely being caused by wind-driven rain and that becomes a lot more difficult for you to pinpoint. Does that make sense?
DAVID: Yeah. I think it’s probably not that because it – we do get windy rain here in Memphis but it will happen when we’re just getting a – just kind of slow drizzle. And it’s not a great deal of water but – I mean it always drops but – it’s enough drops but it’s going to do damage.
TOM: You know, the other thing that you could use that might help pinpoint where this is happening, David, is an infrared scanning device. So, infrared devices are often used by roofers to find leaks, because the temperature of the roofing where it’s wet is different than the temperature where it’s not wet. So, by using an infrared device, you can sometimes identify the full sort of path of the flow, from point of entry to where it shows up on your ceiling.
DAVID: Now, we’re not talking about these little devices with the temperature indication and the laser pointer? We’re talking about an infrared camera?
TOM: No, no. We’re talking about an actual – yeah, an actual infrared camera. And the thing is that they’ve become a lot less expensive. They used to be thousands of dollars but now you can buy one that snaps into the end of your iPhone and turns the phone into an infrared camera. So, they’re pretty affordable. Or if you’re dealing with a roofer, a roofer would have some more industrial equipment. But I think those are the kinds of things you ought to do to try to narrow down the possibilities. But you know what? After 40 years, it might be time to think about replacement.
DAVID: Well, I think I’ll just get rid of it. I’m thinking about putting in the tankless.
TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s true and that’s a much better investment. And you know what? There’s still some rebates on those, so you might pick up a tax credit by doing just that.
David, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you miss having fresh vegetables around during these cold winter months, container gardening is a solution for growing your own produce right now. A lot of us already do a form of container gardening: your houseplants. But with the right light, the right soil and the right potting, you can also grow herbs and even some veggies all year long, right in your home.
TOM: That’s right. Now, for the best results, you need a location with good lighting. You’re looking for about six hours of direct sunlight for certain vegetables. If you can get that or almost that much, that will be the spot for these containers.
Now, you also need room. We’re talking about containers here that are much bigger than those for a typical house plant. They need to be about 18 inches in diameter and at least about 18 inches deep. And of course, you’ll need a plan for watering them, too.
LESLIE: Now, if you’re wondering what you can actually plant inside your home, there’s really a lot of options for vegetables that are going to thrive in indoor container gardens. Now, Burpee – they’re a seed company – they even have a section on their website that breaks out all of the veggies that will grow really well in that type of space. Think of things like tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peppers. Check out their website. It’s Burpee.com/Vegetables – I think /Containers also.
TOM: Yep. And you can definitely be farming those vegetables all winter long.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Lulu in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
LULU: So, I noticed this fall that my bricks in the front steps were starting to break down. And I was paying attention, finally, on a rainy day and I said, “OK, there must be water coming from the gutters.” And I thought maybe – I’ve been in my house for three years, so I thought maybe the gutters need to be reattached. I had someone come out, because I also saw some screws coming out. And so they reattached them with some new screws. And then, of course, more rain came. Still running – coming down. My bricks on my front steps are decaying very rapidly. So I thought, “OK, let me do more research.”
Then I found out about the drip edge. So I was like, “Alright. Is there a drip edge or not drip edge on this house?” This was built in the 1950s, ‘48. And so I crawled up to the – onto the roof. I’m scared of heights.
LULU: And I went there and there is a drip edge but it was flat. So I decided to get one of those T drip edges, like those – the edges come out more – drip edge. And so I installed those underneath the edge.
TOM: So are we talking about putting in an additional piece of flashing underneath the shingles, to kind of extend the reach into the gutters?
LULU: Yes. I’m thinking that may be the problem. Still raining again. It’s still rainwater coming down onto the front of my steps a bit. It’s also well …
TOM: OK. So, first of all, what does this roof look like? Has it got a pretty steep pitch to it?
LULU: Like more than 45 degrees? Yeah.
TOM: Yes. So if you have a roof with a really steep pitch, you end up getting sort of a lot of inertia of that water sort of rolling down the roof. And it’ll tend to kind of jump across the gutters sometimes.
Are the gutters clogged and then leaking or is the water that does get in the gutter actually draining out?
LULU: It’s not. It’s not clogged. No. We cleaned it.
TOM: It’s not clogged? So it’s not – they’re not overflowing and leaking? They’re just – it’s the water just sort of missing the gutter.
LULU: Because I’ll look up and see that it’s coming through underneath the gutter. And then I’m like – I’m trying to understand how that’s possible.
TOM: The way that that’s possible is if the gutter does get clogged, it can back up and then sort of spill over the back edge of the gutter. That’s how that often happens. Now, if it’s not clogged, the water’s not getting there in the first place. And I think your approach is right but you need to make sure that the additional extension of the roof shingles into the gutters is done adequately enough. So, if the shingles are installed right, they should overlay the edge of the gutter by at least 2 inches.
LULU: I didn’t put shingles in. I just put that plastic, more like a drip edge. Like another drip edge that …
TOM: OK. Do the shingles overlay the gutter edge by a couple of inches or are they short of the gutter?
LULU: They’re short. They’re at the …
TOM: Yeah. So that’s obviously the problem then. Now, this drip edge that you put in, you said it was plastic?
LULU: Or metal? I don’t – it’s with – I got it at Home Depot.
TOM: What I would do, in a situation like this, is I would take 4-inch aluminum flashing, OK? Comes in a roll. Very inexpensive. It’s easier to work with if you cut it into maybe 4-foot-long strips. And I would work it underneath the shingles. It has to go under the shingles and then on top of the back edge of the gutter so that it truly does serve as a bridge. You need to extend the reach of that shingle into the gutter, because it sounds like the gutters are a little bit short of the edge of the shingles. And they’re never going to work well in that case. We’ve got to get the water running over the shingles, then onto the flashing and then into the gutters. You have to kind of create sort of an extension. If you do that, it should work well.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, is your roof ready for a redo? We’ll tell you how to choose the best material for a leak-free installation, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’d love to hear what you’re working on on this fine weekend day. Give us a call, right now, and tell us about it. Maybe we can help you get it done.
LESLIE: Well, guys, when you own a house, you learn a lot of different things. And some things you don’t learn until absolutely the very last second. And one of the things that we assume in homeownership is that roofs last a really long time. But what you might forget is that, eventually, your roof is going to need to be replaced. And we really start to see evidence of that in the winter. You get a lot of rough weather, it really puts a beating on the roof and then you can get ice dams forming on a regular basis.
TOM: Now, if you do need a roof, the process can be a little confusing because you’ve got to sort out a lot of choices. So first, let’s talk about metal roofing. It’s getting more and more popular. We love it. It saves energy, it can last a century literally but the downside is you’re going to have to shell out some more money for it.
A cheaper option but very durable is asphalt shingles. It’s a very popular roofing material. It’s going to last you 20 to 30 years. And you get a lot of décor options. It can be a basic black shingle or it could look like wood shakes or even clay tile. So, not to discount it. It’s still very popular, still very durable for a great reason.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, you know, there’s an even less expensive option and that’s asphalt roll roofing. Now, it’s one of the cheapest ways that you can go but it really is only a short-term solution. You’re going to see it used a lot on sheds and barns.
Now, built-up roofs are great for flat or low-slope applications but they can be really hard to repair, which is why a better solution is a rubberized roofing product. Now, these can go down in sheets and if the workmanship is done well, they really do offer a super-watertight solution.
TOM: Now, if you want to prevent ice dams, you also need to make sure the home is well insulated and the roof is well ventilated. Because the reason ice dams form is because the warmth of the house gets up into the attic space directly under the roof, causes some of that snow and ice to melt and then run down to the roof edge where it forms an ice dam. And then the water backs up, it gets into the roof shingles, drips down onto your house. It’s a real mess.
But if your attic is well insulated and if you’ve got good ventilation, that keeps that whole underside of the roof surface close to ambient temperatures, as close to outside temperature as possible, there’s just no way an ice dam can form. And we know they’re pretty, especially those icicles hanging off the side of the house but they do cause a lot of damage. So, keep it well insulated and you’ll save energy – you’ll save money with the energy bill, to boot.
LESLIE: James in Illinois is on the line and looking to tackle an electrical project. What are you working on?
JAMES: I have a – oh, probably a 50-year-old house. And everywhere, except my bathroom and my kitchen, I’m dealing with a two-prong outlet. And I’m just using these adapters, that are three-prong adapters, everywhere else. And I absolutely hate it.
And I don’t even know where to begin getting them fixed. I’m kind of not wanting to go the route with an electrician but the thought of doing something and doing it wrong and then having an even bigger mess scares me.
TOM: Yeah, you want to hire a pro. You don’t enough conductors for a three-prong; you don’t have the ground wire in the type of wiring system that was put in. Now, there’s a way to kind of get around it. You can install ground-fault outlets that have the ability, if they’re wired correctly, to basically shut off the outlet if there’s ever a diversion of current to a ground source, which is basically what happens when you get a shock. But even that needs to be done by a pro.
So I would have an electrician come in, look it over and figure out the easiest way to resolve it. I think it’s probably easier than you think. Electricians are pretty good at being able to run new wiring through finished walls and ceilings without disturbing a lot of the structure.
JAMES: Oh, that was my biggest fear was that it’s going to be a big mess but …
TOM: Yeah, they don’t have to tear it all out to do that. There’s different tools that can snake wires through those spaces, OK?
JAMES: OK. Great. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for joining us here at The Money Pit.
Still to come, is your new year’s resolution to be more organized already out the window? Well, we’ll tell you about one household item that’ll make organization a slam-dunk, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: If you’ve enjoyed this program, we’d love for you to subscribe to our podcast, which you can very easily do at MoneyPit.com or also on iTunes.
Up next, we will jump into the Community section and answer some questions. We’ve got one from Monty in Virginia.
LESLIE: Yeah. Monty writes: “Can you tell me the lowest temperature I can set my thermostat to keep my pipes from freezing while I’m away on vacation?”
TOM: Well, it depends, because there’s usually one set of pipes somewhere in the house that’s most susceptible to freezing. Perhaps they’re in an exterior wall or some area where there’s a gap in insulation. And that’s usually the place that you find out you’ve got a problem. So it’s kind of hard to say exactly what you should set it to but I wouldn’t set it, frankly, any lower than maybe about – I’d say about 65 degrees. I wouldn’t go much lower than that.
And I would also make sure that if I go on vacation, I turn off my main water valve because this way if you do get a frozen pipe, it’s not going to leak out all over the place. And while you’re at it, figure out which circuit breakers in your house are nonessential. By nonessential I mean, for example, outlets that maybe cover TVs and stereos or room outlets but not lights. These circuits that are nonessential, you might as well turn them off, de-energize them because you know what? They can’t possibly cause any trouble if they’re off, right? So, figure out which ones you don’t need and turn them off before you go away. Just some basic common-sense stuff to protect your house while you’re out of town.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one here from Joann who writes: “The seal around my dishwasher fell off and it leaks badly. What can I do to glue it back on?”
TOM: Well, Joann, that dishwasher seal was never glued on to begin with and it certainly can’t be glued back on. If it’s fallen off, it’s basically worn out. What you need to do is order yourself a brand-spanking-new one. And the good news is that it’s not very expensive to do that. And the repair procedure is pretty straightforward.
You just pull that entire old dishwasher gasket out. It’s going to be kind of in a track or a channel. Pull it out. If any pieces break off, grab a needle-nose pliers and yank them out, too. Clean the channel really well because it’s a good time to get rid of all that gunk. And then press the new seal back in place. That’s all there is to it. It’s a pretty simple, straightforward repair that will deliver to you a leak-free dishwasher in no time.
LESLIE: And we all want that. We want the dishes to be clean and the water to stay inside.
TOM: Well, as you look around the room, do you see piles of clutter everywhere? There is a very simple solution and that’s the subject of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, it’s that one household item I can’t live without. And once you try it out, you’re not going to be able to, either. I’m talking about baskets, guys. Now, baskets, they come in all shapes and sizes. They really are the easiest way that you can store away things that look unsightly and really just messy when they’re sitting out in the open. And yet you’re still going to have easy access to them when you need them.
For example, when you get home, are you just dumping your keys and your wallet and your cell phone maybe right on the kitchen counter? Well, put a small basket there or maybe even on a little foyer-entry table. Put a small basket or tray and put all of the stuff right there and boom, you’re instantly organized and it also looks very fashionable. Now, you can also use baskets for all of your electronic chargers, too. They’re really great for yours remotes and other TV-room gadgets, even your coasters.
Now, what about all those shoes in your front entry? Even in a closet, the shoes just become messy and they’re kind of all jumbled up in the bottom and it really is unorganized. Assign a basket to each member of the family and then suddenly, stray shoes are a thing of the past. Plus, then they can just go right in and get their own darn shoes. You don’t have to search through everything. It makes life so much easier.
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, when it comes to painting, the pros have some closely guarded secrets that they’re not always ready to share. But you know what? We are. We’ll tell you those insider tips to make sure all your paint projects deliver pro results, 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 2017 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.)