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 are so thrilled to have you here with us today. It is the fall home improvement season and you’re in exactly the right place, because we’re here to help you get those projects done around the house.
Now, for most of us, the leaves have not started to really come down yet but that’s coming soon. Right now, though, it’s a good time to think about stepping up your insulation, making sure your windows are caulked and sealed and tight, maybe freshening up some of the rooms inside your house, getting your heating system serviced. Or maybe it’s a project that you’d just like to do to make your house look better, because you know you’re going to be stuck inside all winter long. Whatever is on your to-do list, pick up the phone, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Just ahead, if homework time in your house is a constant battle of wills, there are a few easy design changes you can make to get those pencils moving. We’ll have some tips, coming up.
LESLIE: And laminate countertops can give you the look of natural stone without the price but they’re not quite as durable. But the good news is that laminate tops are actually pretty easy to repair. We’re going to share some tricks of the trade to keep your tops in tip-top shape.
TOM: Plus, if it’s time to take out your window screens and you change into storms or you just want to make sure your windows are ready to keep out the winter chills, we’re going to have solutions on the best step-by-step method to do just that, just ahead.
LESLIE: And if you’re planning a flooring project, we’ve got a fantastic giveaway going out to one lucky caller this hour. It’s a $200 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators.
TOM: So, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Allison in Illinois is on the line and has a question about some gutters. What’s going on at your money pit?
ALLISON: Hi. So, we just bought our first home. And it’s in the city, so it’s very close to the house next to us. They’re small lots. And so we’re probably 5 feet from our neighbors on the south side. And we’re hoping to finish our basement, so we are looking into waterproofing that. But we also just have this enormous puddle that happens every time it rains, in between the two houses, which is not in use.
ALLISON: But anyway, so giant puddle. I don’t actually know if a French drain is OK in Chicago. But yeah, just wondering what we can do about that. It’s pretty unlevel ground.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, you mentioned that you’re planning to waterproof your basement. If you do this right, you probably won’t have to do any further waterproofing of your basement. Because when your basements get damp and wet as a result of rainfall and puddles forming around the foundation, that is the source of the leak. So, if we can control that, we know that the basement will stay dry. Now, when you have two houses that are close together and there’s no place for the water to run, you need to try to do everything you can to kind of manage it.
Now, did the roofs on these houses both sort of dump into the space between it? Do they have gutters that are working? What kind of water management is there now?
ALLISON: Sure, yeah. Our gutters do work. We have a lot of trees, so we have to clean them out frequently but we’ve done that already. Our neighbors’ does not; his gutter goes into the ground. And it’s – we can see – there’s a little hole in the side of one of them that’s just packed with dirt and leaves.
TOM: OK. Yeah, so that’s going to be a problem because your neighbor is going to dump a lot of water in your way. Can you chat with your neighbor about fixing this?
LESLIE: Or diverting it?
ALLISON: I don’t even know how you clear out a gutter like that that goes into the ground.
TOM: Well, what you do is you basically – it’s kind of like Roto-Rooter. You know, you hire a drain cleaner.
TOM: And essentially, what has to happen here is you’ve got to manage this water any way you can. So I would tell you this: I would put oversized gutters on both houses. So, instead of a 4-inch gutter, I would put a 6-inch because they clog a lot less frequently. I would try to have the downspouts discharge to the lowest part of the property. And I would extend the downspouts so that the water does not collect around the foundation. Either over grade or underground, you extend them and get them out.
If I was still collecting water in the space between the two homes, what I would do is I would put a French drain. And basically, that’s a trench that’s roughly 12 to 18 inches square. And then you put some stone in the bottom of it. You lay a perforated pipe in the stone and then you put more dirt and stone around it. And essentially, what happens is as the water collects in that area, it goes into the pipe and it runs out.
There’s a type of French drain that’s actually premade these days, where you don’t have to do the whole stone thing. And then you’ll find that at home centers where it’s – it looks like a plastic perforated pipe but it’s wrapped in a cloth that has what looks like packing peanuts in between the cloth and the pipe itself. And that’s sort of the aggregate and that can go in in one piece. But however you do this, you’ve got to put that drain in and it’s got to pitch so – at least about a ¼-inch a foot so that the water that’s collecting there can go somewhere.
And that’s the key: you’ve got to find out where that somewhere is. If it’s the backyard, great. If it’s the front yard, you might be able to drop it into the street if the town lets you do that. But you’ve got to manage that water. If you don’t manage the water, it’s going to have no place to go but down, saturate those foundation walls and it will show up as a leak in both basements, potentially.
But you can fix this if you manage the water. If you search on our website how – if you search on our website at MoneyPit.com about leaky basements, you’ll find how to solve a leaky basement and stop a basement that floods. You’ll find some really good posts that we’ve done over the years on it. Some of the basement content on the site is some of the most popular that we have. That’ll actually walk you through this, step by step. It just shows you all the ways that this causes the floods, OK?
ALLISON: OK, great. And there’s room for that in between the two houses with the 5 feet?
TOM: Oh, that’s plenty of room for it. Done it with less. Alright?
TOM: OK, Allison. Good luck with that project.
ALLISON: Thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kamar in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
KAMAR: I have a brand-new home, just three months old. And I see a crack from outside, in the foundation. And when it rains, I’m seeing, in the basement, some water leaking, also.
TOM: It’s two separate problems, Kamar, or is this the same? Is the leaking coming through the crack?
KAMAR: It’s the same. It’s a yes. Looks like it’s from the – just below that, only I can see the water in the basement.
TOM: OK. And what kind of foundation is it? Poured concrete? Concrete block? What?
KAMAR: It’s a concrete.
TOM: Poured concrete? OK.
TOM: So, cracks are not unusual in new foundations. There’s a lot of settlement that goes on in the first few years of a home. And very often, cracks will form. And so, I wouldn’t be too worried about the fact that you had a crack. I would seal it. I would use a concrete caulk: in other words, caulk that’s specifically designed for concrete. QUIKRETE makes a number of these products. It’s going to adhere well and keep the water out.
Now, you could do this inside or outside. I’d probably do both sides of the crack. And you could choose a clear or a color that matches the concrete so it won’t be too obvious. But I would simply seal that up.
When you get water that comes through a crack after a rainfall, it’s a very simple fix. And just as it is, if you have water that comes in other places in the basement, it’s really an issue of managing the water. But in your case, if you’ve got a crack that’s open like that, I would simply seal it. I don’t think that crack is surprising or indicative of a major structural problem, in and of itself. If it got worse, then it could be an issue. But if it’s a small crack, for right now in the wall, usually that’s something that’s caused by concrete shrinkage. And it’s not likely to repeat itself.
KAMAR: Even though it’s required some work to fix it, do you think that because of that, the property value will go down when, let’s say …?
TOM: As long as it’s what I think is a normal crack and it’s not a serious foundation problem, I think it’ll have no effect on it. You would like to have it inspected by a structural engineer and certify that it’s within normal tolerances or it’s not going to get any worse or whatever. But I mean you want it certified by an independent structural engineer. They kind of have to live by the report that they provide you, OK? They’re not going to just try to assuage the homeowner; they’re going to make sure that they document the condition. And if there’s anything that has to be done, they’ll let you know, OK?
KAMAR: OK. Hey, thank you. Thanks for (inaudible).
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Kamar. 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.
We are in October. It is officially fall, so what are you doing around your money pit this weekend? Are you maybe decorating for the holiday? That’s right: fall, Halloween. I’m calling those a holiday. Are you perhaps getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday that’s just around the corner? I’m not rushing things but I’ve got turkey on the brain. So let us know what you are working on and how we can give you a hand. Give us a call, 24 hours a day, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, do you and your kids dread homework time? Well, it doesn’t have to be a hassle. We’ve got some easy design tips that add focus and fun, when The Money Pit returns.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
LESLIE: William in Rhode Island is on the line with a question about some stains on the roof. What’s going on?
WILLIAM: I just put a new architectural roof on the house a couple of years ago. It looks like I got the dark streaks coming down on the shingles. And I’m not that far away from the airport here in Rhode Island. And I’ve got planes that sometimes go over and I didn’t know if they were maybe dumping their (inaudible) fuel or whatever they do before they land, you know?
TOM: Think they’re flushing the bathrooms on your roof there, Will?
WILLIAM: I don’t know what they’re doing.
TOM: Listen, let me ask you a question. Before you put this roof on, did you take the old roof off?
WILLIAM: Oh, yes. Of course.
TOM: OK. Now, the old roof, did it have any streaking or stain problems?
WILLIAM: Not really, no.
TOM: Is your home shady?
WILLIAM: Yeah, there’s some shade in the front of the house, yeah.
TOM: You get more streaks on the front or the back?
WILLIAM: I just noticed it in the front a little bit, right above the entrance of the door. But I’ve got a barn shape-type house.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So, what I’m thinking here is that – typically, the area where the roof rafter touches the roof sheathing, right, where the wood basically is in solid contact, that’s a cooler spot than the area to the right and the left of it. So, sometimes, when we get these stripes on the roof, it’s a condition that’s called “ghosting.” And it’s because you get more condensation in those areas that are cold than the areas that are warm to the left and the right of it.
Now, also, on the shady side of the house or wherever you have shade, you’re also much more likely to pick up a little algae or lichen or moss. And that can also cause staining on the roof. So, before we jump to conclusions, what I would suggest you do is to use – take a very simple approach. There’s a roof cleaner out there that’s called Spray & Forget. It’s available in a ready-to-use bottle. You basically just snap a hose on a garden hose onto and then you can spray the roof down and just kind of walk away and see what happens.
I actually have had an extremely dirty shed roof that had so much moss on it, it was crazy because I just hadn’t done anything for a long time. So, last summer, when I was painting the fence and doing a few repairs outside, I decided I would take care of that. And I got the Spray & Forget and I put it on once and then I walked away for about a month. I noticed that almost all of it was gone. I put it on one more time and it’s perfectly clean like the day I put it down. It doesn’t happen instantly because, basically, what it does is it stops the growth from forming. Think of it as sort of as a weed killer for the moss. And it brightens the roof and then there’s a residual that stays on it and kind of protects it over the long haul.
So, I would try a product like that – it’s very simple, fairly inexpensive – and see if that does it, OK? And then if it does, then you kind of know what you’re dealing with. One natural thing that you can do to kind of slow that growth down is just to make – try to get a little more sunlight on that area. Sometimes, I’ve told folks to trim back trees and that sheds just enough light on it, because sunlight is a natural mildicide, as well. Does that make sense?
WILLIAM: Alright. I’ll give it a shot.
TOM: And hey, if you’ve got a flooring project in mind, we’ve got a $200 gift certificate going out to one lucky caller, from our friends at Lumber Liquidators. If you’d like to win it, you’ve got to pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
And Leslie, it’s not hard to think about one area in your home that could use new flooring, right?
LESLIE: There’s really so many places. But one place that I’m always like, “Man, if I could make a change,” it’s the foyer. The entry to your home takes a ton of abuse. So why not head on over to Lumber Liquidators where you can choose from over 400 varieties of first-quality flooring, including prefinished hardwood, bamboo, laminate, wood-look waterproof flooring? So many choices all at incredibly low prices. And you’ll find a lot of really super-adorable options.
TOM: Now, you can redeem that $200 gift certificate, if you win it, at one of Lumber Liquidators’ 375 stores nationwide. Or you can just call them at 800-HARDWOOD. But you’ve got to be in it to win it, so we want to hear from you. We want to hear about your home improvement, your remodeling, your décor project. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and you might just be getting some new, beautiful flooring this fall.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to North Carolina where Reba is dealing with a spider problem. Blah. What’s going on?
REBA: I have moved into a brand-new set of apartments and there are just spiders everywhere. But they have a lot of mulch around our apartments and – where they’ve planted new flowers and such. But there are some tiny spiders that are little black spiders and then there’s brown spiders that are as big as quarters. They’re the fastest spiders I’ve ever seen in my life.
TOM: Oh, boy. And the brown spiders that are as big as quarters, they sound like brown recluse spiders, which can bite. So those we don’t like at all.
REBA: Right. But I have tried – I have bought stuff from Lowe’s. I’ve sprayed all kinds of stuff all inside my house and all around the outside but they’re impossible to get rid of.
TOM: So, I hate to say this but have you considered hiring a professional? I know you’re probably saving some money. But whenever I hear somebody is buying lots and lots of pesticide and spraying it inside the house and spraying it outside the house, I’m kind of of the opinion that by the time you do all that, you’ve exposed yourself to so much excess pesticide that you would have been better off just having a pro come in, because they can buy stuff that you can’t buy.
Plus, they’re specifically trained on where to put the insecticide, how much to put. And also, the insecticides today are very specific and they remove only the insects that they’re supposed to remove. And they don’t remove the beneficial insects that you want to leave behind.
So if you’re having that much of an infestation, I would stop shopping for my own pesticide and call a pro and have them treat the house. And once you get the populations down to where they’re manageable, kind of more normal, then you could try to use some of those other products just on a maintenance basis. Does that make sense?
REBA: It sure does. But here’s the only question: when everybody else is having the same problem and the mulch is all around the whole entire neighborhood, is just me spraying going to help? Is it going to stop it?
TOM: Well, yeah, it’ll create sort of a barrier around your place. But let me ask you, is this an apartment you rent or is this a townhouse? What’s the form?
REBA: This is like – they just built this whole neighborhood of new apartments. There’s like 43 apartments.
TOM: So they’re rental apartments?
TOM: OK. So, if you get the exterminator out there and they tell you that you’ve got something like a brown recluse spider there and you bring that to the attention of the rental agent, I think you’d give them plenty of reason to treat the whole apartment complex and not ignore them to the point where people and kids start getting bitten.
REBA: OK. I thank you for your information.
TOM: Well, is homework time in your house a constant battle of wills? You know, with just a few changes, the only homework problems being solved might just be the ones on the page, right?
LESLIE: Wouldn’t that be a treat?
Here’s the formula, guys. First of all, you have to define the area where you want to do the homework. Now, whether you’re working with an entire room or even just a fraction of one, you have to establish the borders of homework territory and do your best to truly make this area only for homework.
TOM: Now, if your house includes a home office, you want to consider designating a small area of that space for the youngest learners. Now, if it’s already set up for, say, perhaps your own home office, the kids are going to have a good time sharing that special place with you.
LESLIE: Yeah. And really, guys, the fewer distractions, the better. You want to tone down sights and sounds that can take attention away from the books and consider opening a window. They’re cooped up inside these classrooms all day long. And I know September, for us, was a gajillion degrees and the classrooms aren’t air-conditioned. So these poor kids are sweating and trying to learn. So, throw open the window if you can. That fresh air really is good for the spirits and their concentration.
TOM: Yeah. And just like classrooms, homework areas are most appealing when they include a little bit of fun like, say, maybe some personalized décor touches. For starters, you could add some colorful bins. You could add some old, school-style lockers – they’re really fun – or maybe even a fun, divided cabinet to make assignments feel a little bit less like a chore. And hanging up those good grades might also be an extra boost that your student needs.
So, think about it: you can really make that space more enjoyable for them to be in. Keep them away from the TV, keep them away from the video games. Let them get that homework done first in a space that they’ll come to love and really appreciate as their own.
And we appreciate you listening to this program today and we’re here to help you with your home improvement and décor remodeling projects. Help yourself first, though: pick up the phone, call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community page at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit.
Up next, laminate countertops are less expensive but not quite as durable as other choices. They are, however, easy to repair. Tom Silva from This Old House stops by next with some tricks of the trade to keep your tops in tip-top shape.
TOM: And today’s edition of This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by ADT. Introducing ADT Go, the new family mobile safety app and service. Go to ADT.com to learn more today.
Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We’d love to hear from you about what’s going on in your money pit. If you’ve got a question, call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
LESLIE: Hey, do you have a laminate countertop that’s scratched or damaged? Just ahead, Tom Silva is standing by with some tricks of the trade to keep your tops in tip-top shape.
TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Get the latest fall trends in hardwood, bamboo, laminate and waterproof floors for less.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Kurt in North Carolina on the line who’s working on a restoration. Tell us about the project.
KURT: So I’ve got 2×6 floor joists spanning 15 feet. And I’d like to know if I rip some ¾-inch plywood and sister it up against the 2x6s and glue and screw it, if that would be sufficient. My crawlspace has six vents under the floor and I want to seal them up. I read it doesn’t need cross-ventilation. It’s kind of old-school. And I put six-mil poly on the ground. Your thoughts, please.
TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, in terms of beefing up the floor joists, sistering the floor joists by doubling them – I don’t necessarily think I would use plywood on them; I would double them.
KURT: Would it be flimsy?
TOM: Well, I mean it may not be flimsy but the thing is, if you want to sister a floor joist and help support it, you need to go from bearing point to bearing point. So if it’s going from a girder to an exterior wall, the sister beam has to go the same length.
TOM: Another thing that you could do, Kurt, is you could run another girder, at the midpoint of that 15 feet, from end to end. Now, it doesn’t necessarily have to be – has to be as strong as the main girder for the house, because you’re really just taking the flex out of it. So if you poured a small footing underneath it and just got something in there to kind of stiffen the floor, that would take the bounce out.
KURT: Right. Yeah, I thought about that on the main floor but my second story, I didn’t want to – if I put a glulam in, I only have 7 feet, 5 inches to ceiling height.
TOM: I understand. So, doubling them is a solution, as well as using a mid-span girder.
KURT: Alright, sir. I appreciate the information.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kurt. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, laminate countertops, they’re inexpensive and they can give you the look of natural stone, of course, without the price tag. And they certainly can last a long time but they aren’t quite as durable as stone.
TOM: That’s right. And the good news is, though, that some of the most typical problems can be repaired. Here to talk about that is Tom Silva, the general contractor for TV’s This Old House.
TOM SILVA: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.
TOM: Inadvertently laying down a hot pot or scratching the surface can definitely be one of those sort of “oh, no,” “holy cow,” and other-words-that-I-can’t-say-on-the-radio moments.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, I …
LESLIE: Which is what you’re saying.
TOM SILVA: Yeah.
TOM: How do you get out of those problems? Are those types of things fixable?
TOM SILVA: In some cases, if the hot pot is down there and it’s just bubbled the countertop, you may be able to reheat it. Sounds silly. The hot pot loosened it; now you’ve got to reheat it to put it back down.
TOM SILVA: But you’ve actually got to soften the adhesive underneath; it’s a contact adhesive. And sometimes, you can actually refasten it. If you have a roller, take out your old roller that you roll in the dough and roll that countertop until it cools down. And sometimes, you can refasten it.
TOM: Even without getting additional adhesive in there.
TOM SILVA: Right.
TOM: Just if you get it to restick itself sort of right away.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Yeah, exactly, exactly.
LESLIE: So this is a sort of – you’ve got to react as it’s happening.
TOM SILVA: Well, no, you can eat and then heat up the pan again and put it down. But it’s smarter to do it right away.
TOM: Smart advice.
TOM SILVA: “Oh, my God, I get the roller.”
TOM: What if you have physical damage in the countertop? Is there a way to kind of do selective surgery and just replace one chunk of it?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, you can cut in a cutting board. It’s probably the easiest way if it’s – if the cutting board is in a good location.
TOM SILVA: But …
TOM: So, basically, you’re essentially cutting out that area of laminate and replacing it with a cutting board.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. And they have different kinds of cutting boards. You can get a solid-surface cutting board. You can get – what do they call – like a Pyrex board? You can get a wooden cutting board.
TOM: You know what the beautiful thing is about doing that? And somebody else will come into your house the next week and go, “Wow, I didn’t know cutting boards were available. What a great idea. How do you get one of those?”
LESLIE: “What a great idea.”
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Yeah, exactly, exactly. Well, all you do is put one of the pans on your countertop that’ll ruin it and then you can cut one in.
LESLIE: Is it sort of done as a drop-in tray, almost as a drop-in sink would be installed?
TOM SILVA: Yeah.
LESLIE: And then the cutting boards sits in top of – in that?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, some of them, they have this little metal ring that goes around it.
TOM SILVA: And you put the metal ring in. Some of the counter boards just – cutting boards fit in that little ring. Drop it in. You can actually pop it out and flip it over, so when you wear it out – if you’re using a wooden one.
LESLIE: You know, one of the other common things that I’ve noticed – when we first bought our house, we had a lovely Pepto-Bismol pink laminate countertop. And while we lived with it for a while until we could afford the granite, the edge just kept popping off.
TOM SILVA: Yeah.
LESLIE: And I feel like that’s always one of the areas that fails first.
TOM SILVA: Yeah.
LESLIE: So what can you do to make that sort of either reattach or replace it?
TOM SILVA: Well, lots of times you can take an edge – it’s usually the corner. You’re dead-right on. It’s usually the corner, because you’re running by that counter and you catch it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You get stuck on it.
TOM SILVA: Once you’ve caught it, you’ve got to either try to heat it back on with an iron, soften it gently – the glue – and then push it back on with a roller or something firm. And if that doesn’t work and you can’t get it or your piece is broken-out, you’re going to have to replace it
And you’re going to have to find a piece somewhere in the kitchen, usually beside the stove or the refrigerator or in a dead corner – you can – may be able to steal a piece right out of that corner and patch it right into that piece that’s been damaged.
LESLIE: And you don’t use any buffer between the iron and the laminate itself? You don’t need a towel just to prevent further burning?
TOM SILVA: You’ve got to make sure that you don’t overheat the iron. You don’t – what’s – I don’t iron clothes but there’s got to be …
LESLIE: I’m like, “I sew. Full steam, high heat.” That’s …
TOM SILVA: Oh, (inaudible).
LESLIE: I get an iron, I go crazy with it.
TOM: Look, you can always go hotter. Start medium and work your way up from there, right?
TOM SILVA: That’s true, exactly. That’s good.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. See, I sew but I don’t iron.
LESLIE: So low heat, no steam, be careful.
TOM SILVA: Right. You don’t need that steam. Right.
TOM: What if you have more minor scratches? Is there such a thing as a scratch filler or a seam filler?
TOM SILVA: There is, there is. But you know what? I find that they don’t really work that great. It’s a temporary fix. If you’re going to eventually change it, you may be able to do it. But you can even try those sticks that they use in – wood fillers, like a (inaudible).
TOM: They look like the freezer pencils a little bit.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean …
TOM: But they’re – they have stain in them. Yeah, OK. Sometimes, though, that almost just highlights the scratch, right?
TOM SILVA: Exactly. Yeah, yeah. I’d find a good cookie jar or something like that.
LESLIE: A mixer, some sort of large appliance.
TOM SILVA: A mixer. A knife, a spoon. Just leave it – “Oh, no. I forgot to put that away.”
TOM: Good advice. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some step-by-step videos on how you can repair a laminate countertop, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot.
Just ahead, the best way to clean and store your window screens for the winter. We’ll have those solutions, after this.
Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call, let us know what you are working on. We’re here to lend a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.
And hey, guys, here’s a great reason to reach out to us by phone or the Community section right now: if you are working on a flooring project – and this really is a great time of year to tackle one – we’ve got a great prize up for grabs. It’s a $200 gift certificate to Lumber Liquidators that’s going out to one listener who calls in or posts their home improvement question to us at 888-MONEY-PIT or posts it at Money Pit Community section at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: Yeah. And there are so many floors to pick from. Lumber Liquidators has over 400 varieties of first-quality flooring, all at great prices. And you can redeem that gift certificate, also, at LumberLiquidators.com or at one of their 375 stores nationwide. So give us a call right now. That number, again: 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Shannon in North Carolina is on the line and needs help with a bathroom-vent switch. What’s going on?
SHANNON: The problem is I turn the switch on to it, sometimes it comes on, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I turn the switch on, it briefly takes between two to three minutes. And if it comes on after that …
TOM: Now, Shannon, is this powering an exhaust fan?
SHANNON: Yes, it is.
TOM: So I think probably the exhaust fan is starting to wear out. It sounds to me like the motor for the fan is perhaps dirty or the bearing is a little worn and it takes a while for it to kind of get going. And that’s a very kind of common symptom of a motor that’s wearing out.
Is this an old bath fan?
SHANNON: Yes. It’s about 18 years old.
TOM: Yeah, man, time to replace it. Don’t last forever.
SHANNON: Yeah, I know.
TOM: You know, it’s very simple. Does this bath fan have a light that’s built into it, as well?
SHANNON: No, sir.
TOM: Alright. Well, when you pull the cover off the fan, sometimes you’ll see that the fan is actually plugged into the side of the housing. And so you could plug a light into the side of that housing, unplug the fan and then go to the light switch and turn it on – I’m sorry, the bath fan. So turn it on/off, on/off. You’ll probably see the power come on and off like normally, as evidenced by the light bulb that you just plugged in for testing purposes. And again, that just means that the power is fine. It’s not a problem with the switch; it’s the fan.
And if you’re getting that kind of resistance out of it, I’d just replace the fan. They’re not very expensive. And the good thing is that even though it’s an 18-year-old bathroom-exhaust fan, the sizes are pretty standard. So, chances are you’ll be able to replace that without a lot of trouble.
SHANNON: OK. Sounds common and easy.
TOM: Yep. Pretty straightforward. Shannon, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Before winter sets in and weather begins to get cold, it’s a good idea to clean and store your window screens. I mean face it: they’ve battled the elements all summer long, so you do need to treat them gently. Here’s how to start.
LESLIE: First of all, you need to remove the screens. You can’t clean them while they’re in the window itself. And you need to put them on a flat surface, like maybe your driveway.
Now, go ahead and mix up a mild soap-and-water concoction and then you put it on with a soft-bristle brush to remove the dirt and grime. Then you need to clean both sides of that window screen and around the interior and exterior of the frame itself. And once you’ve got everything cleaned up really nice, you want to rinse everything off with lukewarm water. Don’t be too aggressive with your hose, guys.
TOM: Now, you need to let the window screen dry completely before replacing it in the window. And don’t even think about using a pressure washer.
Like you said, you can’t be too aggressive, Leslie. If you use a pressure washer on them, especially while those windows are closed, it’s going to be bad, really bad. It’s just too much force. So, do it with a hose. They’ll come out a lot better.
LESLIE: Yeah. And now you can put the screens back in. Or if you’d prefer, you can store the screens during the winter months. When you do so, though, you want to keep them upright or flat. Don’t lean them against anything or put anything on top of them. I always feel like if you lean them against something, you forget exactly what it is or what’s behind them. And then you can accidentally push something sharp through the screen and then you’re starting from scratch come spring.
TOM: Now, if you’re dropping storm windows into place to keep cold air out once you’ve cleaned those window screens, now is a good time to clean the windows, as well, and also lubricate the tracks. Because they tend to kind of get gunked up over the year.
And for all your windows, you also want to check the exterior space between the trim and the siding. Look for cracks, look for gaps and then recaulk as needed to keep the elements away. You will be a lot warmer and more comfortable if you can get rid of those drafts. And now is the right time to do it.
LESLIE: Elaine in Delaware is on the line with a bathroom-flooring question. How can we help you today?
ELAINE: I purchased an older house and when we went to replace the toilet, we’d seen some of the linoleum on the floor sticking up. So we pulled up the linoleum and underneath, we’d seen it looked like was rotted. So we started pulling it up and there was hardwood floor underneath.
So we decided we would stay with the hardwood floor. Now we can’t get the toilet to be flush, because we’re missing that linoleum and that subfloor.
TOM: Well, there’s a product out that’s designed for almost this very situation. And it’s a toilet gasket that is not made of wax. It’s called Sani Seal – S-a-n-i S-e-a-l. And it’s a very thick gasket that takes the place of the wax seal. And because it’s so thick, it takes up that big gap that you’re dealing with. And it’s an excellent option for situations where you have taken the floor apart and now don’t have exactly the same flush floor that you had before.
Take a look at their website. It’s SaniSeal.com – S-a-n-i-S-e-a-l. Very simple device. About an inch-and-change thick and really well-designed.
ELAINE: OK. Well, that sounds great.
TOM: OK? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, is old-fashioned paneling giving a dark look to your home? Well, there are brighter solutions out there. We’re going to share a few, right after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We’d love to hear from you about your home improvement projects, what you’re doing to your money pit.
You know, to us, the money pit, it’s a term of endearment. It means we care. We’ve all got homes that we’re pumping money into but our goal is to help you pump that money into the right projects to get it done once, get it done right so you don’t have to do it again. And we’re here to help you do that every step of the way. But help yourself first: call us at 888-MONEY-PIT which is presented, by the way, by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
LESLIE: Alright. And if you’re looking for some help on something specific, you know you can always post your questions to us here at The Money Pit Community section, just like Marcia did.
Now, Marcia writes: “We bought an older home and the whole house is paneled. Is there a way to fill those gaps in the paneling so you can paint and make it look like regular walls? I’m on a tight budget.”
Marcia, you’re going to spend all your money refilling those in and repainting every three months, because nothing is going to stick to cover that and make it look smooth.
TOM: It amazes me how many times we get this same question. Those grooves on the wall are not there – they’re not defects in the wall. That’s built right into the paneling and you can’t fill them.
LESLIE: It’s crazy. I feel like your better option is to either embrace it and paint it white and make it look lovely and lighter and do something different with it. Or you can put ¼-inch drywall on top of it to sort of just resheathe the surface. Chances are that paneling is just stuck directly to the studs; it’s just nailed in. So if you took those off, you’re able to put drywall right up. And while it’s expensive, yes, in the beginning and it’s time-consuming as far as doing the seams and painting and making sure everything is correctly done, in the long run it’s going to be amazing.
But also, Marcia, you don’t have to do it all at one time. Maybe just do one room in the house and paint the paneling in another room just to sort of bide the time as you eventually make the transition. But I wouldn’t try to fill them in with anything. I think it’s just a bad idea.
TOM: Yeah, it’s just going to fall right out and it’s going to look like heck, too.
Alright. Doris in Sheridan, Wyoming says, “I’ve got a 1970 modular home built on a poured-concrete basement. Some of the exterior siding comes close to the ground, overlaps the foundation and is rotted. We replaced some but then found a lot of insects in the wall. Can we seal the space where the siding overlaps the foundation with caulk?”
Ah, if it was only that easy. Every home improvement project preparer would be just a caulk tube away, right? No, you can’t do that. Your problem is grading. You need to have a dozen inches – 12 inches at least – between the bottom of the siding and the soil. But in your case, you’ve basically got soil-to-siding contact and that is a bridge for bugs and rot. And nothing’s going to change unless you do something about that.
Now, changing soil grade is sometimes difficult. If you cannot regrade the lawn so that it starts low on the siding, what you might have to do is put in sort of a well space, like a recessed area right within the first foot or so of that foundation, where you have – think of a window well, right? When you look down the bottom of it, there’s some stone but the dirt’s kind of held back. You may have to hold back some of that dirt in order to keep some air movement around that space. Because otherwise, you’re going to get bugs and rot. And termites, especially, would love to chew on a space like that.
So that’s the idea: you’ve got to get some air space between the siding and the grade. You can’t caulk it, you can’t seal it. It’s just not going to happen. You just need to have air so it breathes.
LESLIE: Alright. Good advice.
Doris, I hope that helps you out.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on this beautiful fall weekend. We hope it’s beautiful where you are, as well. If you’ve got a project in mind to tackle now that the weather is not too hot, not too cold – we like to call this the “Goldilocks season” – we will be here to help you. Now, if you couldn’t get through to the show today, you can post your question online to the Community page at MoneyPit.com or always call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we will be sure to call you back the next time we are.
Happy home improving. 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.
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(Copyright 2018 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.)