- Thinking about updating your kitchen in time for holiday meals but concerned about the timing and costs? Get tips on easy updates you can do over a weekend that can totally transform your space without the hassles.
- If you love the personality of older homes, some of that personality can come out in the way of a noisy plumbing system! We’ll share the source and the solution to all that banging and clanging.
- Chilly weather may leave your home looking dark and dreary, but not if you spruce up your front porch for the color of the seasons. Get tips on adding rich colors with accessories and simple hardware switch-outs you can do yourself.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Joe in Rhode Island wants to know wants to know if he needs to add attic ventilation in a home with spray foam insulation.
- Julianne from Massachusetts wants to know how to fill in a crack between a garage and driveway.
- Richard in Washington is looking for tips on how to replace his broken composite siding.
- Sandra from Arkansas has a problem with a blocked vent pipe in her plumbing.
- Mike in Delaware is asking what the best way to remove and reuse hardwood flooring.
- Courtney from Pennsylvania wants to know the best way to add air conditioning to a cape cod house.
- Craig in Tennessee wants to know the best type of fireplace: vented or ventless?
- Carol from Minnesota is tired of carpeting and wants our recommendation for a kid friendly flooring for stairs.
- Thomas in New York wants to know if he has to treat his composite decking.
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 here to help you with your fall home improvement projects, your pre-holiday décor items, your plans for the remainder of this year or next. If you’ve got a project you’ve got to get done, hey, we’re here to help. So let us do that. Reach out to us a couple of different ways. You can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 or you can post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’re thinking about updating your kitchen in time for holiday meals but you’re concerned about the timing and the costs, well, don’t be. Because we’re going to give you some easy updates that you can do over a weekend, that can totally transform your space without those hassles, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
LESLIE: And if you love older homes, you know that they definitely have their own personalities. And some of that personality can totally be plumbing noises. I mean it’s so strange the noises that an old house makes. So we’re going to share the source and the solution to all that banging and clanging.
TOM: And the chilly weather may leave your home looking dark and dreary but not if you spruce up your front porch with the colors of the seasons. We’ll have tips on adding rich tones and accessories and simple hardware switch-outs that you can all do yourself.
LESLIE: And while we love for you always to stick around for the show, we’ve got a really great way that you can refresh your home-sweet-home, because we’re giving away a bunch of products this hour that’s going to help you stick things together.
TOM: Yeah. We’ve got a package of products from The Original Super Glue Company, worth 57 bucks, going out to one caller drawn at random. And that includes SUPERUNIX. Now, this is a universal extreme adhesive that outperforms super glues.
So, if you want to win it, you’ve got to be in it. Pick up the phone, give us a call, reach out and post your questions. That number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT. Or post to MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Joe in Rhode Island, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on with your insulation?
JOE: Well, we built a new home.
JOE: And it’s 2×6 construction with a truss roof.
TOM: OK. Yep.
JOE: And I used opened-cell, sprayed-in insulation and they come in and then they shave it all down to the studs.
TOM: Yep. Yep.
JOE: So, we have a completely sealed envelope of the structure itself.
JOE: Now, when – it’s a truss roof, so there’s really no attic. But there is a space up there.
JOE: When you sheetrock the whole ceiling and close that off, do I need to be concerned with some sort of ventilation in the attic space?
TOM: No, not at all. Not at all.
Where did they insulate in the attic? Did they insulate under the roof itself or …?
JOE: They insulated the roof, right to the plywood roof.
TOM: Yeah. Nope, you absolutely do not need to ventilate a spray-foam house and here’s why: because, basically, now that attic is a conditioned space.
I have a spray-foamed attic. It’s terrific because it’s pretty much the same temperature as the rest of the house all the time. It used to be that it was, you know, super hot in the summer and really cold in the winter. Now, it’s pretty much even-steven. And the fact that you used spray foam means that it expanded and sealed all the little cracks and gaps and crevices, so you’re not going to have any problems with drafts getting in there.
TOM: So you do not need to ventilate that roof.
JOE: Oh. How about – we have mechanical equipment up there. I have the air-conditioning unit up there.
TOM: Yep. Mm-hmm.
JOE: No concerns with that, in that space, either?
TOM: No. It’ll even work better because now, when it’s trying to cool in the summer, it’s not going to be doing so in an attic space that’s 110 degrees.
JOE: Alright. I was concerned because there’s absolutely no ridge vent, no soffit vent and no …
TOM: Yeah. No, that is done correctly. And we have to start thinking differently. Now, we use attic ventilation when we use products like fiberglass, because we have to manage the moisture. But with spray foam, ventilation is not an issue. That is now a conditioned part of your house, just like any room in your house.
TOM: You may not have heating ducts up there but it does not need to be ventilated.
TOM: Alright? That’s a good choice.
JOE: Alright. Alright. Very good.
TOM: Good luck, Joe. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Julianne in Massachusetts, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JULIANNE: For the past several years, have used silicone caulking to fill in a ½-inch gap between the bottom of the back-door sill and the concrete walkway that comes up to it, to keep water and critters from coming through.
JULIANNE: It breaks down very easily, so it needs to be replaced. And it’s such a big gap it really doesn’t hold up well.
JULIANNE: So, I was thinking of using the expandable foam but I was told that is not waterproof.
JULIANNE: And someone else recommended using hydraulic cement to fill in that gap and make a lip there to keep the elements out, so I …
TOM: The sill is the bottom sill of the door? It’s not the – is it the kind of sill that could be removed off of the concrete?
JULIANNE: It is. It’s already off of the concrete but it’s that gap that’s there.
TOM: Right. OK.
JULIANNE: I’m trying to find out how to fill that in.
TOM: Is it – does it have some give when you step on it, because there’s a gap underneath it? Does it bend and twist at all?
JULIANNE: Not at all. It’s very sturdy.
TOM: So here’s what I would do. I would get some cement – epoxy patching – epoxy repair cement. It’s very adhesive, OK? And it’ll stick to the old concrete surface. Clean out as much as you can of what you’ve put in there before. And then I would very carefully, with a very small trowel – or you may even be able to do this with a putty knife – I would start to pack the underside of that sill with that epoxy patching cement and – until the point where it just starts to squeeze out ever so slightly from the bottom of that sill.
TOM: And then I would just let it harden right in place.
So, two things will happen. You’ll seal the gap and also, you’ll reinforce that open space. Because one of the reasons that the caulk falls out is because caulk is rubbery and it’s just going to bend and flex and tear away. But if you use a solid cement to fill that gap, you’re not going to have this problem anymore.
JULIANNE: Good idea. Thank you very much.
TOM: Hey, guys. We’re giving away a set of products today that can help with dozens of repairs around the house. It’s a package from The Original Super Glue Corporation and it includes SUPERUNIX.
This is a pretty neat adhesive. It’s a universal, instant, extreme adhesive. It uses a new technology that is designed to outperform the usual instant super glues that are out there. And I love that it’s able to bond to all materials – even foam and paper – and it sets in 10 seconds. Really fast. And it has a maximum strength of 2,800 PSI. So pretty strong stuff.
That package is going out to one caller drawn at random, so make that you. Call us with your DIY dilemmas, call us with your décor challenges. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
That package of 9 different products from The Original Super Glue Company is worth 57 bucks and going out to one listener drawn at random.
LESLIE: Alright. We are talking to Richard now about something going on with the siding at their money pit. Tell us about it.
RICHARD: My son ran into the handrail of the deck and it kind of burst a hole in the side of my house. I got it covered up with the ¼-inch plywood but I want to replace that piece with siding. I don’t know where to get it.
LESLIE: You know, Richard, I wonder. Do you have any extra siding, even if it’s a small, little piece? Or is there a spot that you can take a piece off and bring with you to a more high-end lumberyard or someplace that would carry perhaps more high-end composite siding?
TOM: Yeah. It does sound like a composite, because that’s probably why it was damaged so easily. Unfortunately, that stuff’s not very durable.
But I like the idea here, Leslie. If he can find a piece that’s in a non-visible area – like, for example, maybe you have a deck and underneath the deck, there’s some siding there that kind of is maybe a foot or two deep and it’s big enough to use to cover that one particular area. You could always put the bad siding down there and put the good siding up to kind of replace the area where that hole is. It’s kind of like when you have a carpet that gets badly stained and sometimes a good installer will steal a piece out of a closet, where you can’t see it, and use it to patch the good spot.
LESLIE: Yeah, totally.
TOM: So I think that’s probably the best bet. But what I might do is also take a picture of the siding, because you said it was a big sheet. And there’s a lot of different composites that are like that. But if you take a picture of the siding and go to a – I would go to a lumberyard. Not necessarily a home center because there’s – usually people that work at a lumberyard have a lot more experience sometimes. With all due respect to home centers, these guys are more in the business every day and I think they may be able to figure out what it is.
I’m thinking that it might be one of the LP products – the Louisiana Pacific products. They did a lot of that composite-siding pieces like that and maybe you can identify what this is. And if that’s the case, then you just buy a whole sheet. Sure, you’re going to have to take the whole sheet out of your house. So maybe, even though you had a hole, now you’re going to take a piece out that’s 4 feet wide and 8 feet tall. But at least it’ll be the same stuff you had. And then, of course, you’re going to have to paint it.
So, good luck with that project. Let us know how you make – and make your son help, by the way, because he caused all this, right?
LESLIE: Sandra in Arkansas is on the line with a pretty mysterious issue going on with the toilet. What’s happening?
SANDRA: I have the master bedroom and the hall bathroom backs up – it’s exactly on the other side of my bathroom. And whenever the other toilet gets flushed, it pulls the water out of my toilet. I come home from work sometimes – a lot, actually – and it’s all – the water’s all the way in the bowl part. It’s all the way down in that really thin part at the bottom.
TOM: Well, Sandra, I can see how that must be very frustrating. And I can tell you exactly why it’s happening. It’s happening because you have a blocked vent.
So, our plumbing systems have to breathe, so to speak. That’s why, when you look at a house and you look at the roof line, you see all these pipes that pop up through the roof? Those are the vent pipes. And they let the air into the plumbing system so that when you flush and water goes down, there’s some air behind it to replace it. Otherwise, it tries to find that air other places which, in your case, means stealing the water or stealing the air out of your toilet. That’s why it pulls that water. And you probably – if you were standing there would hear it gurgling as it does that.
So you need to get in touch with a plumber and find out what you can do to either clear the vent, if it’s blocked, or add an additional vent. And if you do that, both toilets will flush normally and both fill with the proper amount of water.
LESLIE: Well, if home is where the heart is, then kitchens are clearly one of the vital organs that convert the house into a home. So it’s no surprise that kitchen renovations are among the most popular remodeling projects tackled every year. But while any home improvement project can be complicated, major kitchen remodeling can definitely turn your life completely upside-down, not to mention all of that fast-food poundage you’re definitely going to be gaining because you’re just waiting for that kitchen to welcome you back in. And quite frankly, that could take forever.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. So, if you want to avoid those home improvement hassles, it makes sense to break down the projects into smaller pieces: small parts that can be completed independent of one another. Not only does this make the project more manageable, the smaller changes can also have a big visual impact and even cut down on the need for more major makeovers later on.
LESLIE: So, for example, changing the kitchen countertop, painting the cabinets or even simply replacing all of that cabinet hardware, these are projects that can be done in hours, not weeks. And they do result in a very attractive and quite frankly, big transformation. I mean we just painted our kitchen cabinets. And while, yes, it was messy and it was a lot of work, it looks amazing. It completely feels like a totally different space. It feels bigger, it feels brighter. So definitely a project that you can tackle over a week’s period for a huge difference.
TOM: And along those same lines, you could also replace the kitchen floor, you could improve the kitchen lighting. And, as you say, Leslie, just paint the room, paint the cabinets and you get a fresh, new look in that space.
And you can also thinking about replacing faucets with water-efficient models or switch out old appliances for more ENERGY STAR-certified models. All of these will lower the utility cost across the board. And my favorite quick fix: new cabinet hardware. Really inexpensive and it’s like adding new bling to your kitchen.
LESLIE: Oh, my God, that’s the best part picking out the hardware.
Well, 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: Mike in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MIKE: I’m actually calling to find out the best way to remove the trim on an old hardwood floor without tearing it all up.
TOM: So you want to remove just the trim? Is that what you said?
MIKE: The base mold, the quarter round and the existing previous hardwood. I’ve got new hardwood to put down.
TOM: Oh, you’ve got new hardwood to put down. But you said without tearing it up. You’re going to have to tear it up to remove it.
MIKE: Yeah. Without destroying it, to be able to repurpose it.
TOM: Oh, without – oh, oh, OK. Yeah, I see what you mean. You want to try to preserve it.
Man, I’ve got to tell you, it’s tough because if it’s traditional ¾-inch hardwood and it’s put in with flooring nails – these are flat, long steel nails that go on an angle and they go in the tongue part of this and it’s very, very difficult to take that floor up. Generally, you have to cut it out and pry it up.
It would be an enormous amount of work for you to get that floor out. Even if you sort of cut out, say, a foot of it so you can get some flat bars in there and started working it, I think you’re going to find that it’s going to be a lot of work to try to work each one of those boards loose to the point where you could back the nails out and preserve it. It’s certainly worth a shot and depending on what kind of materials – what kind of hardwood they used to put that together, Mike, you may have a chance of trying to save some of that.
But it’s very, very difficult because if it was put down properly, it would have been put down with a flooring nailer. And the way that thing works is it’s a hammer that kind of fits right into the tongue side of the board. And then you slam the mallet down and it shoots the nail deep into the wood and then countersinks it. So, it’s a hard fastener to get out. It’s really only designed to go one way.
MIKE: Oh. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Heading over to Pennsylvania. Courtney has got an HVAC question for us.
COURTNEY: I want to install air-conditioning system in my house. We currently use window units and we have baseboard heat with oil and hot water. So, I guess I’m wondering if the best way to do that – we have a Cape Cod house. We’ll need to put in ducting but there has been some talk from the contractors that I had come in talk about the difficulty based on the structure of the house. And also if I should consider taking out the baseboard heaters and just doing all one system for heating and A/C.
LESLIE: I don’t know, Courtney. I don’t like the idea of people removing a hot-water baseboard system. That’s really a fantastic heating system and it works so well.
TOM: Oh, man. Really. I totally agree with you there. That would be a really dumb thing to do. That’s a very exquisite system because it’s a moist heating system, it’s a quiet heating system. Nobody takes out a good, hot-water system like that and puts in ducts if they can help it.
Now, in terms of adding air conditioning to the rest of the house, there’s a couple of ways to do that. Now, you can do that with a duct system. There’s a type of duct system that is designed to be high-velocity, low-volume type of a system. It’s called SpacePak and they use these very, very small ducts that are the size of dryer vents. Can actually fit inside the walls and inside the floors.
Second to that, a good HVAC contractor can find ways to run ducting upstairs to that Cape Cod. And thirdly, you could do ducting on the first floor, traditionally, and then you could have the whole second floor be cooled from a mini-split ductless. This is one of those units that’s installed on the wall, has a second compressor, outside smaller one and designed only to cool that space. So there’s a bunch of ways to do this.
But the idea of tearing out a hot-water baseboard system and putting in one ducted system that’s heating and cooling, really bad idea. I would go with the A/C separate from the heat. You will be very happy if you do.
LESLIE: Craig in Tennessee needs some help with a fireplace. What’s going on?
CRAIG: I’m looking at adding a gas-log fireplace. I just wanted to know which one would be better: the ventless or the vented?
TOM: So, Craig, if you want to put in a gas fireplace, I’m going to presume that you’re talking about doing this from scratch. In other words, you’re not putting a gas log inside of an existing masonry fireplace, because that’s possible. But of course, you’ve got to make sure, if you do that, that the damper is essentially permanently left open. Otherwise, you could fill the house up with carbon monoxide. Plus, they’re super expensive to run, by the way, those gas logs.
Now, if you want to just get a regular gas fireplace, these are what we call “zero-clearance fireplaces” because they’re essentially manufactured appliances that fit inside the home and are designed to be close to combustible materials. They are vented and non-vented, as you say.
I would always, always, always prefer a vented fireplace: one that has a vent – a chimney – that goes outside. I don’t like the non-vented ones because, basically, that’s another way of saying it’s just going to dump the gas inside your house. And while the combustion is so – is such that when its running properly, it shouldn’t put out any level of carbon monoxide, I’m just not comfortable with that. I would much rather have a vented fireplace any day of the week.
LESLIE: Well, if you love old homes, you know that they definitely have a mind of their own, I mean almost like personalities. And sometimes, they’ve got a lot of personalities all mixed up in one. And you know what? A lot of the times, it can be noisy plumbing. And the plumbing system, I find, makes some really strange sounds and they are quite mysterious.
But while some of them are annoying, are a lot of them bad, Tom?
TOM: Well, sometimes they’re just a nuisance but sometimes they also could possibly signal a more serious problem. But most of the time, they’re kind of a nuisance, so it really depends.
For example, have you ever heard sort of like a ticking noise from a baseboard radiator? This happens when the radiator expands or contracts. And especially bad when you have one of the newer radiators. They’re made out of sort of finned aluminum, as opposed to cast-iron ones.
LESLIE: That’s what we have.
TOM: I was – I stayed at an Airbnb up in Vermont last winter – did a skiing trip with my daughter – and the homeowner had particularly loud radiators. And I mentioned it to him and he said, “Oh, yeah. I did this and I did that. And I took it apart and I changed this and I changed that.” And he had no idea what was causing it. I said, “All you’ve got to do is sort of file those gaps in the wall where the pipes go through,” because that’s what was happening. It was basically dragging against the framing. And as it does that, it makes this sort of cricking sound or ticking sound. And because they’re copper, it can sort of amplify and sound really bad.
So, again, it’s a very simple thing that doesn’t really cause any serious damage and has a really easy fix. But definitely has more stress associated with it than should, because it really is not that big of a deal.
LESLIE: Yeah. I always associate that with, “Ooh, the heat’s coming on. We’re going to be real cozy.” It’s the bright side of the banging and tinging of things.
TOM: Thinking positively.
LESLIE: The other sound that the plumbing system makes is water hammer. And that is a tremendous banging that you hear when, say, the washing-machine valve closes. Because when that water is turned off, it comes to this abrupt stop and it kind of shakes the pipes. So the best solution is a water-hammer arrestor that uses a rubber bladder and some air. And that’s going to absorb the shock.
Now, the water-hammer arrestor, without a rubber bladder that uses just air, eventually it’s going to become waterlogged. And then it’ll not work and you’ll end up with the same problem. But the arrestor should either be installed close to the valve that’s causing the problem or close to the sound of the hammer.
TOM: Now, we talked about noisy radiators. The same thing can happen with – when you have a ducted system. If you have a furnace and you have metal ducts, they can all sort of creep as they heat up because, again, they expand as they go. When that cold, metal furnace duct starts to rattle and whistle and the hot air rushes through, it’s going to heat up. And aside from that whistling sound, you’ll have all that sort of creaking sound.
So, the solution is simply just cushion the ducts against the wood framing with rubber pads. And also check there’s nothing blocking the air registers at the return, because that also causes pressure issues.
LESLIE: So, now, another thing is oil-canning and that’s like a loud, popping sound. It’s not just from The Wizard of Oz. But it’s kind of this loud pop and it happens when the forced-air systems come on and then the ductwork kind of fills with the air really quickly. And then it expands like a balloon. And if the ducts aren’t reinforced or designed properly, they definitely can make a loud banging sound as they’re flexing outward to accommodate all of that airflow that you’ve just called for.
TOM: Yeah. I’ll give you a quick trick on that. It’s not a big deal but if you find the place in the duct where – it’s usually somewhere near the heating system itself where that expansion and that popping is happening.
You can take a piece of wood, like a 1×2, and essentially screw it – use a drywall screw, because it’ll pierce right through the metal. Screw it to the outside of the duct in that area. It essentially just – even if it’s 4 or 5 feet long or 3 feet long, whatever it takes there, it will basically kind of reinforce the metal there. And it doesn’t look great but you’re not really doing it for looks. And it will do the job of stopping the duct from sort of popping out and making that really loud sound, because it can really freak you out.
And then, lastly, if you’ve got any banging radiators or whistling radiators – especially steam radiators this happens to – when that happens, the radiator usually is not draining properly. So when you look at the steam radiator, one side is usually higher than the other. And if it sort of settles down to where it’s level, then you get all that noise, which is basically little pops of steam exploding. If it’s pitched properly to drain properly, then that will go totally away.
So, simple things that cause this and none of this is really going to harm your plumbing system. But it can definitely quiet it down and not kind of be so annoying to those that are living in the house, especially when it happens overnight. That can really be kind of freaky.
LESLIE: Hey, we’re giving away a great set of products today that can help you with dozens of repairs around the house, from The Original Super Glue Corporation. And that’s including SUPERUNIX. Now, this is a universal, instant extreme adhesive and it uses a new technology that’s designed to outperform instant super glues.
I love that it’s really great for vertical applications, because sometimes you’re just trying to glue something to something upright that you can’t lay down. And this is instant adhesion. And it even works excellently with porous materials. Sometimes you put a glue on it, it just kinds of dissipates into the material itself and then doesn’t stick. Not here with SUPERUNIX.
And it’s also water-resistant, which makes it great for using outdoors. And that really – you know, think about it: you can fix something underwater, like a little water feature or a koi pond or something.
Totally a great prize. The SUPERUNIX retails for 4.99 but you can buy it at Amazon or in your local hardware store. But check it out if you want at SuperGlueCorp.com/SUPERUNIX.
TOM: We’ve got a package of nine different products, from The Super Glue Corporation, going out to one caller drawn at random. If you’d like to win it, give us a call, right now, or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Heading out to Minnesota. Carol has got a question about slippery steps. What’s going on?
CAROL: Just wondering what we can do with them besides carpeting, that would still be good when you have grandchildren and people going up and down. So, some kind of good-quality thing that would look nice.
LESLIE: Carol, there’s actually a couple of different options outside of carpeting for those steps. And you can do something that’s almost like an anti-slip tread that attaches to the step itself. And that’ll do the trick.
But I mean with carpeting, there’s also different ways that you can make sure that that carpeting is held down so it’s not slipping off of the tread itself. There’s different carpets that have a different texture so that they feel more grippy, as well. But there’s lots of options so you don’t feel slippy-slidey.
TOM: They can also be complementary to whatever the main carpet is, right? So, it doesn’t have to be the same color; it could be distinctive. And towards the top, you could have a very nice nosing that sets it off and aligns with the upper floor.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s a super-great idea, Tom. I love mixing and matching those colors and textures.
TOM: Occasionally, I get décor right. Once in a while.
Well, as the days become shorter, sometimes our home’s exterior seems to sort of fade away in the dark because of all of those shortened days. And that’s why now is a good time to think about your lighting. Adding a fixture or two can definitely wash your entryway in a light that can really help it stand out.
LESLIE: Yeah. And think about it: you can also add color and texture to your porch with planters. And if you fill them with seasonal colors, whether or not they’re silk arrangements that are meant for outside or found objects – sometimes even I know this is kind of pushing the holidays. But when we get our Christmas tree, I usually trim away a lot from the bottom. And so I use those extra branches to fill urns or window boxes or stuff outside to kind of just bring that seasonal look outside. And it lasts a long time.
So if you buy some cut greenery, you can put that in those urns and flower boxes outside now and have them last all through the winter. And you can add in some hints of orange for the autumn holidays, Thanksgiving or even just the month of November. And then come December, you can add in touches of metallics or reds. It’s really great because you’re just bringing in a hint of the season and you can ride it all the way through the winter.
TOM: Now, here’s a project that’s kind of a pet peeve of mine because too many of us don’t have this. And that is big, bright house numbers.
This is not sort of a décor statement. This is a safety thing, people. If the police or the fire department can’t find your house in an emergency, that attention is going to be delayed. So, a good time to mount new, large, bright house numbers on your house where they can be seen: the door, the steps.
Nothing too fancy. Use block letters. Don’t use anything too calligraphy-like. Sometimes you see these super-fancy numbers. I can’t even read them when I’m standing in front of them, let alone from the street. So, find some nice, clear numbers. Get them added to your house so that, in the event of an emergency, first responders can find your place quickly.
LESLIE: Thomas in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. I hear you want to take on a decking project. What’s going on?
THOMAS: I have a deck. It’s been in for years. It has composite on top. I guess it’s Trex. And then the joists underneath, holding the deck, are – I was wondering if that needs to be treated, because there’s a ¼-inch drainage between boards. And I’m wondering if that eventually will rot the joists underneath.
TOM: So, generally, when you have composite decking, the framing itself is pressure-treated lumber. So I would get under that deck and see if you’ve got that green, pressure-treated type of lumber. Because if that’s the case, there is really nothing further you would have to do. And frankly, today, I can’t imagine that anyone would have built a deck with non-treated lumber, because it could rot if that was the case. So I would check to see what kind of framing lumber that was used. And if you’ve got pressure-treated, as I suspect, there’s nothing further you need to do. You can rely on that treatment process to last 25 or 30 years.
And enjoy that composite surface because that was a smart thing to do. You’ve got no cracking, no checking. A little bit of cleaning to do now and again, because sometimes it gets a little full of mildew. But other than that, it should be a great surface to work with. And the fact that they left that ¼-inch space is good, because that helps it drain better.
LESLIE: Reach out to us anytime at MoneyPit.com, just like Maholly (sp) did. And they write: “A torrential rainstorm flooded our below-ground window well and rose up to the level of the dryer vent. I plan on sealing the gaps around the vent pipe with a waterproof sealant but I’m concerned that rainwater might still come through the dryer vent if it reaches that level.”
TOM: Yeah, okay. Well, you want to try to make – turn something into a water pipe that has no business being a water pipe and that is this dryer-vent opening. The solution here is to stop the flooding, not to seal the duct. You’re kind of going about this in the wrong way.
So, if you want to stop a window well from filling up, a couple of things that you should be doing. First of all, you should be very carefully looking at all of the drainage at the foundation perimeter and making sure that the soil slopes away and that your downspouts are extending away.
And also, because it’s around a window-well area, I might also put a cover on that window well. You generally don’t think they’re that important but since you’re having this problem, you might want to put a cover on it. Although having said that, it also occurs to me that it depends on how your duct – your dryer duct – is set, too. It’s got to still be able to come out through the other side of that window well.
So as long as you can get that dryer exhausted, then maybe putting a cover on that is a smart thing to do. Or you could reroute the dryer-exhaust duct. Take it up higher and bring it out through the box beam – that’s where the floor beams are – and run it out there so it’s a little higher on the house. It’s probably a good idea anyway.
So, couple of things you can do but this is not a situation where you want to try to let that water run in that – or even around that dryer-exhaust duct. It shouldn’t be piling up there in that window well at all. So, fix the drainage.
On MoneyPit.com, there is a post about stopping leaking and damp basements and crawlspaces. And it’s on our home page because it’s pretty much one of the most downloaded posts that we have. And that’ll give you some more step-by-step instruction on how to accomplish that.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, Mike wrote in saying, “I have a house that was built in 2005 in Christiansburg, Virginia. Both of my driveways have cracks and several slabs are now uneven. Is there a good way to stop all the cracking and shifting?”
TOM: You know, cracking and shifting are two words you don’t want associated with a house that’s 15 years old, driveway or not, right? I mean it’s most likely – I think, Leslie – the result of the initial concrete pour not being done well. A lot of times with newer construction, they dig out the hole to build the house. And then when they put the grade back, they don’t tamp it down properly. And so, we’re all in a darn hurry to finish, so they pour the concrete on top of the softer dirt and this is what happens. It starts to move a lot.
So, I think your best bet at this point, Mike, is to slow the movement by getting as much water away from that space as possible. Because if you’ve got drainage that’s getting on the – getting near the driveway, under the driveway, through the cracks, that water weakens the soil underneath. It’s like mud, right? If it’s wet, you sink in it. But when the soil is dry, you walk on top of it.
So, if you were to try to keep as much water away from that driveway as you can – even if you need to add something, like a curtain drain, to it – that will slow the deterioration that you’re seeing. But ultimately, you’re going to have to tear it out and do it again. You can’t fix something that wasn’t done right in the first place when it’s a concrete driveway.
LESLIE: Hey, you know what, Mike? If you head on over to the home center, QUIKRETE makes a lot of great sealants for that type of driveway. That’ll definitely help you keep things looking great and staying in presentable condition for some time. So definitely check out QUIKRETE.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. As we move through to the chilly days of fall, we hope that we find you safe and sound and comfortable in your house.
And hey, before we have to seal the doors, seal the windows, seal ourselves inside for the really cold part of the winter ahead, why not take on some projects to make that space more comfortable, more attractive for you, more organized for you? Because if you want to get those jobs done, we can help.
Remember, you can reach out to us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to us through our social-media accounts or at MoneyPit.com.
For now, though, that’s all the time we have. 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.)