- Ready to blast away piles of leaves this Fall? Paul Hope, the Home & Appliance Editor from Consumer Reports, dishes on this season’s best leaf blowers including some that won’t wake the neighborhood!
- As we move closer to Fall, we move closer to Fall storms which can bring on MOLD! But is getting rid of mold a DIY project, or do you always need a pro? The answer is – it depends! We’ll share DIY tips to help clear the air.
- If you’ve been putting off insulation because it’s always been an itchy and difficult job, we’ll share a new product that is as soft as cotton to handle.
- When temperatures drop: mice, rats and other rodents make their way into homes for relief from the chill – we have tips on how to keep them away.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Brent from West Virginia wants to know how to fix uneven heat in a split-level house.
- Sheila in Oklahoma wants to know if it’s possible to paint a countertop.
- Elizabeth in New Jersey is having a water pressure issue with her outdoor shower.
- Cody from Texas needs to know the best way to fix a disconnected dryer vent.
- Margaret from Virginia has a civil war era home and wants to know the best way to safely clean and protect her wood floors.
- Ryan from Georgia wants to know why his cold water pipes run hot water!
- Linda in Rhode Island wants to know what the proper procedure is for shutting down her AC system for the winter.
- Judith in Arkansas is concerned about a crack in her brick wall and wants to know if she can just seal it or if she has to replace the whole wall.
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 get your fall fix-up projects done, because it is the Goldilocks season. Because it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. It is just right to work inside, to work outside. So whether you’ve got a project on your to-do list, you have a problem you’re trying to solve – maybe you have a decorating dilemma. I’m sure Leslie will have a solution for that. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can reach us with those questions there. Plus, you can post them at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, as we move closer to fall, well, we move closer to those fall storms, which can bring on lots of mold. But is getting rid of mold a DIY project or do you always need a pro? Well, the answer is: it depends. We’re going to share DIY tips to help clear the air, just ahead.
LESLIE: And the fall season is on the way and that means crisp weather, beautiful leaves and loud leaf blowers about 7:00 a.m. on your Saturday mornings. Well, Paul Hope, the home and appliance editor from Consumer Reports, is joining us with a report on this season’s best leaf blowers, including some that won’t wake the neighborhood. I mean if that’s what you want to do. If you want to wake them up, we can suggest those, as well.
TOM: And if you’ve been putting off insulation because it’s always been an itchy and a difficult job, we’re going to share a new product that is as soft as cotton to handle.
LESLIE: And whether you’re doing or dreaming, we can help you make your home everything you want it to be. So give us a call, write in, post a question. Whatever it is you want to communicate with us, we are happy to lend a hand with all of your home décor and DIY concerns.
TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Brent in West Virginia is on the line with an HVAC question. What’s going on? You guys are freezing over there?
BRENT: So, I’ve got this two-level house that’s been cut in half. And then each level has been raised a half of a level, so it’s a four-level house.
TOM: So it’s a split-level house?
TOM: OK. And where’s the heating system located?
BRENT: Second floor.
TOM: Second floor, OK. And it’s hot air, so there’s ducts that supply the air to the lower levels?
BRENT: It’s forced air, correct.
TOM: Forced air, OK. Got it. Alright. So your problem is that your lower level is staying cold. And what about your upper level? Does that overheat in the summer?
BRENT: It does but the issue is that in the summertime, I can close the vents downstairs and I can cool the upstairs. And the downstairs stays cool because it’s underground. But the reverse does not happen in the wintertime.
TOM: Right. I’ll tell you that the split-level house is one of the most difficult homes to get even heating and cooling. So, one thing that you could do is add an additional – well, first of all, you want to make sure that’s what there is working properly so you have good airflow coming out of the registers and you have good return of the air in the room going back to the HVAC system. So, we take a look at the return and the supply.
But I will say that probably the easiest thing to do is to add supplemental heat to cover you on the coldest days. That would probably be less expensive than running all the ductwork that you’d have to do to run, to get it to work properly off just the forced air.
You could put electric-baseboard radiators in there as supplements. You could even put a through-the-wall heat pump which is something, actually, that Leslie did to bring some additional temperature consistency to her lower room of her house. And I’ve got one in a room in my house that had some inconsistent issues.
And it just provides additional supplemental heat to be able to even out that space. Because otherwise, what you probably find yourself doing is you overheat the rest of the house when it’s really cold downstairs. You turn the heat up to try to get – make that downstairs warmer and then the upstairs gets very hot and you’re wasting a lot of energy on that heat. So trying to get that balanced out is the right thing to do.
I would tell you electric baseboards only because they’re the least expensive way to go. Even though they’re expensive to run, they’re the least expensive to install and you’re probably not going to use them 24/7. You’ll use them selectively, so that’s a situation where I would do that. And I would also make sure they’re hooked up to a central thermostat that could be operated by a clock-setback mechanism.
BRENT: How about that? OK. I will certainly give that a try.
TOM: Alright, Brent. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to Oklahoma, right now, to talk to Sheila about a kitchen do-over. How can we help you paint those countertops?
SHEILA: I recently – my husband and I remodeled our kitchen and we refinished our cabinets and we – they had – we had some recessed lighting done and we didn’t have enough money for our counters. So, I’ve been looking at, online, some stuff about repainting your countertops. And I wanted to know your opinion about it or if you’d heard anyone doing that or what your thoughts are on that.
TOM: Yeah, the countertop paints have been out for probably 5 or 8 years now and they seem to do very, very well. I know Rust-Oleum has an extensive line of countertop paints out that are available in many, many colors. So I think it is a good option.
I think it’ll buy you a little bit of time on those countertops so that you can avoid having to replace them. And you’ll have the opportunity to paint in either a solid color or they have countertop paints now that kind of look like stone countertops. They look like granite and other types of natural materials. So I think they’re a very good option and I would encourage you to pursue it.
SHEILA: Yeah, I actually found a company online that sells them – their product – locally at one of our wallpaper stores and have actually purchased the items. I just haven’t started the project yet.
TOM: What you might want to do is try to get your hands on a piece of laminate. And you can go to a home center and buy a really small piece of laminate, like a scrap. And this way, you can practice a little bit before you actually get it on your countertop.
SHEILA: Do you know about the length of time and how durable it is as far as lasting?
TOM: It’s not as durable as the laminate but it’s pretty good.
SHEILA: Yeah, OK. Well, great. Thank you, Tom, for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sheila. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Are you ready to freshen up your home for fall but you need a little cash and some advice to get it done? Now through October 15th, we’re partnering with BobVila.com to launch the $2,500 Freshen Up For Fall Giveaway.
TOM: Enter every day at BobVila.com for a chance to win one of five $500 Amazon gift cards. Plenty of cash to get your next fall fix-up project done.
LESLIE: Elizabeth in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ELIZABETH: I have an outdoor shower and all of a sudden, the pressure just went very, very low. So I didn’t know what to do with it.
LESLIE: And it’s the only fixture that the pressure has changed on?
ELIZABETH: The rest of the – my hoses are fine outside. Inside is fine.
LESLIE: Well, have you thought about taking the showerhead off and sort of disassembling it? Because you may have just some sort of sediment or something that’s come in through the pipe and just sort of lodged itself at where the water outflow would come?
So if you unscrew the showerhead, then sort of start taking that aerator apart – but remember the order in which you’re taking things out, because it’s got to go back in, obviously, in the opposite order. And I would just start taking things out and rinsing things off, because there could be just some debris – I mean especially if it’s an outdoor shower – just something clogging it up in there. And that usually does the trick. I would start there. Just make sure you put it all back in the correct order and it’ll work fine.
ELIZABETH: I love the outdoor shower. It’s the greatest.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Cody in Texas who’s got a safety question: the dryer vent has become disconnected.
Yes, Cody, this is dangerous.
CODY: Say, so I was up in the attic the other day and I saw some of the insulation blowing. The dryer was running at the time. And I walked over there and I could feel the air from the dryer blowing in from between the walls, you know? And that kind of concerned me.
It seems to me like it’s not connected within the wall and it’s just blowing out. I’m wondering, is that a big deal? Do I need to go in the wall and replace that? Or is it going to be fine the way it is?
TOM: No, it’s not fine at all the way it is, for two reasons. Number one, it’s a fire hazard because all that dust is being trapped inside that wall cavity. That’s a major fire hazard. And secondly, all that moisture from your wet clothes is being blown up into the attic in that insulation. And once it makes the insulation damp, the insulation does not work. If you even add a minor amount of moisture to insulation, it loses about a third of its R-value.
So, you want to figure out what went wrong and get it fixed. It can vent up into the attic but it has to continue through the attic and out to an exterior wall or out to the roof or out to a soffit. So you need to figure out why it disconnected, what happened and get it fixed in the easiest way possible. But get that dryer vent pointed outside as quickly as you can.
CODY: OK. I’ll do that. There’s some cabinets hanging above the dryer, so I guess I need to pull those off and cut into the sheetrock to try to see where the disconnect is.
TOM: Well, maybe. Why don’t you just pull the dryer out to begin with, stick a light in that duct and see if it tells you anything and then go from there? Try to minimize the exploratory surgery, Cody. OK?
CODY: Yeah, OK. I’ll do that. I appreciate it.
TOM: The more you cut open, the more you’ve got to fix, man.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve found mold in your home, it can look pretty scary. But while many molds are harmless, some do contain mycotoxins and can be harmful, which is why it’s smart to identify the source of the mold problem and then take the steps to remove it. We’re going to share how, in today’s Pro Project presented by Angi, your home for everything home.
TOM: First up, you need to consider whether getting rid of mold is a DIY project or one that requires the specialized skills of a pro. And the answer is it pretty much depends. But generally speaking, if the affected area is small enough, mold removal can be a project you can do yourself.
So here is where to begin. First, before you consider whether to fight that mold battle, it’s important to understand the enemy. Mold does tend to thrive in very moist and damp environments but mold spores can spread quickly and easily through the air. Now, there are a number of ways to treat and go about mold removal but it’s important to know that the EPA recommends hiring a pro if the affected area is more than 10 square feet. So roughly 3-foot by 3-foot in size.
LESLIE: Now, if you’re a DIYer who wants to clean up a moldy problem, here are some tips you’ve got to follow.
You have to remember to always wear proper safety equipment and that includes eye protection, a mask and gloves that are not porous. Now, when you’re removing mold on non-porous materials like a tile, glass, countertop, here’s what you use. You want to do a mix of bleach and water, so it’s got to be at a ratio of 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon water. Then you go and apply it with a spray bottle or a sponge. You let it dry. Don’t rinse it off unless it’s an often-used surface or the kids can get to it or a pet can get to it, because that bleach is going to continue to work.
TOM: Now, if you’re trying to remove mold and it’s in a porous material, you want to use Borax. You want to mix a cup of Borax to a gallon of water, apply it with a spray bottle or a sponge, scrub it clean and then just wipe away the extra moisture or the mold particles and allow it to dry. And after you clean up your mold, be sure to prevent future mold occurrences. Check out our post “Ten Tips for Having a Mold-Free Home.” It’s at MoneyPit.com and you will find lots of details on how you can stop mold from growing.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by Angi. Angie’s List is now Angi. Angi connects you with top home improvement pros who can help with projects, big and small.
TOM: Check out Angi.com to start your next home project today.
Margaret in Virginia is next on The Money Pit. How can we help you, Margaret?
MARGARET: I have an old house. Part of it built Civil War era.
MARGARET: The floors in the oldest part are pine and they’re about – 2 of the boards are about 2½ inches wide. In the newer part, the boards of the floor are oak and they’re more narrow. I want to know how to safely clean them and keep them protected.
TOM: There’s a product called Trewax, which is perfect for this particular application. It’s made by the Beaumont Company. And Trewax has been around for many, many, many, many years. And it’s actually a natural cleaner for hardwood floors. So you can find that at retailers across the country. You could find that online.
But look for Trewax Natural Floor Cleaner. And it’s going to enable you to clean those floors very thoroughly without damaging the wood. And that’s what’s critical, because some of the floor products are not really designed for wood floors. Sometimes there’s too much moisture in them, they don’t evaporate well and they leave too much moisture in the wood. And that causes the wood to swell or stain further.
So, look up Trewax. It’s not expensive and it works very well.
MARGARET: OK. So is this a put on and wipe off?
MARGARET: OK. That sounds good.
TOM: Trewax is spelled T-r-e-w-a-x.
MARGARET: OK. One E. OK. Got it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ryan in Georgia is in hot water, literally.
What’s going on at your money pit, Ryan?
RYAN: Something kind of bested me for a little bit. I’ve got an idea of what it might be but I’m not 100-percent sure. I’ve got something that I have, which is very – it’s always very hot in Georgia about 80 percent of the time. And every time, when we turn – during the day, we turn on the cold water. It’s scalding, scalding hot for about 2 to 4 minutes and it depends – that the length on, I guess, what time of day it is. But the – I could even turn on the hot water and the hot water will be a lot colder than the cold water. And eventually, it will get colder. But I checked every other water source in my house.
I’ve checked the shower and the showers are fine; it’s not affected whatsoever. The only thing, assuming – that I think it might be, which you guys probably know more about this than I do is – the reason why it’s not doing it in the showers – because that has the – I don’t know if you want to call it the “thermostat” or a “temperature gauge” that controls the cold water and the hot water that makes sure it’s not too hot. And I think, since we’re in Georgia, a lot of the pipes are in the attic and attics. When it’s most – when it’s 90 to 100 degrees out, they – gets pretty hot in our attics.
TOM: Well, I think you’re right on track with that theory, Ryan, because I’ve seen that in my own home in New Jersey. I know it’s not in every fixture, of course, because it really depends on how the pipes are run. But I know that the way my kitchen is built, it was sort of an – it’s an addition that was done in the early 1900s. And the plumbing on that is sort of the – on the furthermost southern wall.
It gets very, very warm there during the day and sometimes, when we don’t use it all day – and then I turn it on, I do get hot water through the cold faucet. And I know that’s just because the pipes in that area are being exposed to a lot of heat. And the pipes are just warming up and it’s warming the water in turn. But after that warm water that’s in those pipes that are right in that surrounding area runs through the system, it gets cold again.
So I think that’s exactly what you’re seeing here. I don’t necessarily think it’s a problem. It’s more of an annoyance and yes, it does waste a little bit of water. But does this happen in the winter or is it just a summer issue?
RYAN: No, no. Not 100 percent if it happens in the winter but it might. But I know even our attics sometimes, in the winter, does get pretty decently warm, too. But the – I know it’s definitely in the spring, fall and summer.
TOM: I mean the only thing that you could do is you could insulate those pipes. If you can get access to them, you could put fiberglass insulating sleeves around your cold-water pipes and that would prevent them from overheating as they are right now.
RYAN: That’ll even make a difference, even though they’re – all the piping is all in the attic? The attic’s pretty hot.
TOM: Well, right, wherever they’re heating up. And that water gets to your faucet from the attic really quick.
RYAN: Alright. So just a fiberglass sleeve? I’ve seen a little – looks like foam – black foam sleeves. Does that work, too?
TOM: Yeah. You could do that, too. I think the fiberglass sleeves are a little bit more expensive but they’ll work better.
RYAN: OK. Yeah, I’ll definitely do that then.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Ryan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Glad we were able to solve that mystery.
Well, the fall season is upon us and that means some extra cleanup around the yard for homeowners. And two tools that can make that job a heck of a lot easier are a good leaf blower and a chainsaw.
LESLIE: And if you’re in the market for a replacement or an upgrade, Consumer Reports is an excellent resource to help you find the best products.
Paul Hope is their home and appliances reporter and is joining us now with some tips.
PAUL: Thank you.
TOM: The sound of the leaf blower is something that I think is notoriously famous for disrupting neighborhoods. But with all of the battery-powered products today, it’s not so bad anymore, huh?
PAUL: It’s really not as bad as it once was. There’s still definitely some noise to battery-powered leaf blowers but it’s nothing compared to the gas-guzzling, two-stroke engines that used to power most gas leaf blowers in the neighborhood.
TOM: So, with so many products available, how would you recommend that consumers sort of narrow down the choices that they would consider for their house? So let’s start with leaf blowers.
PAUL: Sure. So, within leaf blowers – you already touched upon it – the first real question to ask yourself is whether you want to go with gas or a new battery-powered model. In the past, the sort of only appeal of battery-powered models was that they were maintenance-free and quiet, which you mentioned. But in our most recent tests, they’ve really gotten good. Some of them run for anywhere from 12 to 30 minutes on a single charge, which may not sound like much but it’s actually enough for a sort of medium-sized yard up to about a half-acre. So that’s really the first question.
The advantage, obviously, with gas is that it runs indefinitely. So if you run out of gas, you can just quickly refuel. With an electric model, you do have to recharge the battery, which usually takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes and is, obviously, not what you want to be doing in the middle of your yard work.
Once you’ve sort of narrowed down the choice between gas and electric, the next thing you really want to focus on is whether you can make do with a handheld leaf blower – which is, I think, what most of us picture – or whether you want to trade up to a backpack-mounted leaf blower. You can get a backpack-mounted blower in either a battery configuration or a gas configuration. So it’s what a lot of us have probably seen landscaping crews use.
But a few companies now make them that run on batteries, so they have all those sort of advantages of being quiet. They still perform really well in our tests. And you obviously disperse the weight across your shoulders, so you don’t have to cart the thing around your yard. Just in your hands.
LESLIE: Paul, I’m so curious. What is the testing like for when you’re checking out all of these different leaf blowers? Is it like, “OK, you each get 20 leaves and whoever crosses the finish line first wins”? How do you do this?
PAUL: It’s pretty close to that, except with more than 20 leaves.
One of the big problems is a lot of leaf blowers actually are released in the summer, because a lot of manufacturers want them in Home Depot and Lowe’s before the big fall season. So what we actually do at Consumer Reports is at our testing facility in Yonkers, we start storing leaves a full year ahead, if not more.
PAUL: And in some years, we’ll store hundreds, if not a thousand-plus pounds of leaves just for our leaf-blower testing, just to make sure that we have a fresh supply of fallen leaves. And not unlike what you described, we basically cordon off a big section of our campus and we time how long it takes each leaf blower in our ratings to completely clear an area. And then we repeat the test on really higher, tall grass to see which ones sort of do a great job at getting rid of those leaves that get wet or damp or embedded in really tall grass and weeds, because that’s often what sort of makes or breaks a leaf blower. Most of them can clear it off of asphalt but the ones that can get it out of tall grass are really exceptional.
TOM: To make sure the test truly emulates real life, do you start all the testing at 7:00 a.m. in the morning?
LESLIE: On a Saturday?
PAUL: We make sure that in case your family’s sleeping nearby – that you try to sleep in before we fire any of them up.
TOM: We call them “leaf blowers” but I find that I use my leaf blower for a lot of other things like, for example, blowing out my garage. When I have the garage door open and the leaves kind of blow in and dirt and dust gets there, it’s my favorite go-to tool. I kind of just grab it all the time to clean out the garage once in a while. It’s faster than using a broom.
PAUL: Once you’ve used one of these things on leaves, your mind starts to wander. And I’ll be the first to admit I’ve used it to clean out my car. I’ll often open all four doors on my car and rather than fighting in there with the dustbuster, I’ll just let the thing rip and just blow dirt from one side of the car out through the other open door.
LESLIE: Maybe the test should be can it blow random French fries out of the child’s seat in the back? That should be your next test.
PAUL: Except the cupholder. That’s really the chaff (ph). The little cupholder embedded in the car seat is really where no leaf blower can get. But everywhere else, it does a pretty good job.
LESLIE: Now, what about chainsaws? I feel like more and more people are sort of expanding their home lawn maintenance and yard maintenance – you know, supply kits. And chainsaws definitely seem like a good addition. So where do we start looking for one of those?
PAUL: The story there is really similar to what we’ve seen in leaf blowers, which is that for years there were sort of these little rinky-dink, underpowered, battery chainsaws that flooded the market. And now, what we’ve seen again in our latest testing is that the best battery-powered chainsaws actually outperform gas chainsaws in many cases.
And by outperform, we test chainsaws by cutting through 10-inch square oak beams over and over and over and over again, timing how long it takes to make each cut. And then in the case of battery models, we count how many cuts a saw can make before you have to recharge its battery. And in some cases, we were able to cut through 130 pieces of this 10-inch oak beam on a single charge. And the saw is doing it just as fast as a gas saw would.
So, the first place to start, again, is definitely asking yourself whether you want to go with the battery-powered electric or whether you want to go with gas. But for more and more people, we really think the answer is definitely battery. Gas saws are really now just sort of essential for people who are landscapers, who are part of a cleanup crew where you really need to be able to run the tool indefinitely. But other than that, most people are pretty well-served in their home with a battery-powered chainsaw.
TOM: After cutting thousands of oak logs, do you have a Consumer Reports lumberjack team that maybe competes on the weekends at some of these shows?
PAUL: We should or see if we can get into some of that decorative wood carving or ice sculpting, which you can also do with a chainsaw.
TOM: Yeah, carving. There you go.
Paul Hope is the home and appliances reporter for Consumer Reports. And if you want to pick up any product, your first step should be ConsumerReports.org. See if they have evaluated it, because their work is flawless. They provide really good information.
And I particularly enjoyed a post that you had not too long ago. Not only do you talk about the best products, you actually outed all the worst products in some of your tests. So you guys don’t hold back.
PAUL: We don’t.
TOM: And you’re not sponsor-supported, so there’s no conflicts of interest. Their website, again, is ConsumerReports.org.
Paul Hope, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and have a great fall.
TOM: Hey, if you’re a pro contractor, if you’re a remodeler or a builder, we’ve just launched a brand new podcast presented by LL Flooring called the PRO Files Podcast. And in it, we profile successful pros who are setting examples, overcoming challenges and sharing what it takes to build a great business and a successful life, so we can all benefit from their experiences.
Episode Number Four hits this week and we feature Carlos Mongalo. Carlos is a second-generation Nicaraguan immigrant. And he went from being a medical student to running his father’s flooring business, to launching the National Flooring Contractor’s Apprenticeship Program. Which is neat because it’s a nationwide program that helps close the skills gap by training and connecting students with qualified contractors.
LESLIE: You can listen and follow the PRO Files Podcast at LLFlooring.com/Pro. That’s LLFlooring.com/Pro or wherever you get your pods.
Linda in Rhode Island is on the line and needs some help with winterizing the A/C unit. What’s going on?
LINDA: Well, I was wondering if someone could give me this proper procedure to shut down the unit for the winter. Because it was not successful last winter, I ended up with a problem when I went to start it up in the spring. So I thought, perhaps, I had not done something that maybe should have been done that I wasn’t aware of.
TOM: Ah, probably just bad luck, Linda. When you have an outside central air-conditioning compressor, there’s really not much to be done in the winter except that what we generally recommend is that you turn the power off to it. And then you cover the top of it. One thing you don’t want to do is cover the sides of it, because you have to let moisture move in and move out.
If you completely wrap it up – I’ve seen people completely wrap them up like a holiday package. Bad idea because that traps a lot of moisture inside. It can cause condensation and corrosion. You really just want to cover the top to kind of keep leaves out. But other than that, you just leave it exposed and nothing should happen to it as a result of that.
LINDA: Oh, very good. Well, I certainly will follow that this year, because I did exactly what you said: I wrapped it up like a package thinking I was protecting it.
TOM: And maybe that didn’t work out so well. So, yeah, I think you maybe gave it a little bit too much TLC. So just cover the top to stop the leaves from getting in but leave the sides open so it can air out properly, OK? So it can ventilate properly.
LINDA: Well, thank you ever so much.
TOM: Linda, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve been putting off adding insulation to your home because it’s always been an itchy and difficult job to do, there’s a new product out that makes this an easy, comfortable project to tackle.
TOM: Yeah, we’re talking about the next generation of insulation out from Owens Corning. It’s working to change your mind about fiberglass insulation and it’s called Owens Corning PINK Next Gen Fiberglas. And it’s interesting because it’s made with advanced fiber technology that makes it feel as soft as cotton, not kind of as scratchy as the fiberglass you may be used to.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s actually very comfortable to handle and it’s faster to install. It’s also stiffer, which makes it easy to slide right into that wall cavity and not compress or fall out.
Now, if you’ve ever tried to install insulation overhead, well, this is something that you’re really going to appreciate. Plus, in addition to making your home energy efficient, it can also help absorb sound so your house is quiet, as well as comfortable.
TOM: Check out the new Owens Corning PINK Next Gen Insulation at PINKNextGen.com. That’s PINKNextGen.com.
LESLIE: Judith in Arkansas is on the line and needs some help with some brickwork. What’s going on?
JUDITH: Well, we’ve got a little crack and it’s going up the wall. And we don’t know exactly what’s going on. We’d like to just repair it and not re-brick the whole side of the house. Does it seem to be a foundation issue? And I say that because there’s not any stress cracks on the inside, anywhere.
LESLIE: So the crack that you’re seeing is on the brick itself? Within the brick or in the mortar?
JUDITH: It starts in the mortar but then it crosses the brick.
TOM: Is it surrounding a window?
JUDITH: Let me look, because I’m walking out here to look at it.
JUDITH: No, there is no window on this side of the house.
TOM: And you’ve never seen a crack – is this brand new? Like how new are we talking here?
JUDITH: We bought this house in 2008, right before they gave the tax credit that you didn’t have to pay back. We got the one that you had to pay back.
TOM: OK. OK. So it’s new since 2008?
TOM: Look, there could be a lot of reasons that that’s happening. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem with your foundation. It could be a poor drainage condition around the house that’s making it cause more movement.
What I would do is unless it’s absolutely active – means it’s continuing to grow – I would simply seal it. I would choose a silicone sealant that would closely mimic the color of the brick and the mortar and I would seal it. Because the more water you let get in there, the faster it’s going to freeze and break and expand and get worse. Almost all, you know, brick homes and masonry foundations have some kind of crack in them, so it’s not unusual. But I would seal it and then I would monitor it. And if you think it’s continuing to grow, at that point I would have either a professional home inspector or a structural engineer look at it, OK?
JUDITH: OK. Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, Bea posted. She lives in Central New York and says last year, her 25-year-old attached garage – “We had it insulated and sheetrocked. Last winter, there was moisture on the windows for the first time.” And she wants to know how to get rid of all that excess moisture.
TOM: Congratulations, Bea. Your garage is doing exactly what you just made it do by putting all that insulation in. But what you’re seeing is condensation because the garage is now warm but the windows are not well-insulated. So that warm moisture – warmer, moist air in the garage is actually condensing on the cold glass.
An easy thing to do here would be to put some thermal blinds on the window so you have sort of a layer between the glass and the warm air. That will sort of interrupt that condensation flow a bit and I think you’ll find you’ll get a lot less moisture when that happens.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Vicky writes in saying, “We have a cedar deck that was finished twice with a dark stain. After about a year, the stain started peeling like paint. We took some of it off with a pressure washer, which has then splintered some of the wood. How do we remove the rest of the stain and what do we do to refinish it? I want to stop the peeling.”
TOM: So, if you’ve got paint that’s peeling or stain that’s peeling, you’ve got to get it off because you cannot put new stain or new paint on top of a bad surface. Because it’s just not going to stick, right? So I want you to continue to remove the rest of that.
But then I want you to take this interim step and that is to use what’s called a “high-bond primer.” This is a primer that has a lot of adhesive qualities. It will stick to that deteriorated wood. It will get into the nooks and the crannies, really lock it in. And then on top of that, you could put a last coat of paint and it’ll look just perfect. And it’ll last that way without painting off again.
LESLIE: Alright, Vicky. Good luck with that project. And really pick a good color you like because, hopefully, it’s going to stick around for a long time.
TOM: Well, when the temperatures drop, mice, rats and other rodents love to make their way into your homes for a relief from the chill. Leslie has tips on how to keep them from doing just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I wish it was as easy as hanging a no-vacancy sign outside of your house, to keep those mice and the critters away, but it’s not. But you can also make some changes that’ll keep them away and move onto the next warm haven.
So, here we go. You’ve got to remember that mice can squeeze through spaces smaller than a nickel. So you have to seal any potential entrances to your home with sheet metal, steel wool or even cement. Expandable foam insulation – I mean they can gnaw through that. So if you take that route, you want to add some steel wool to the mix so they just can’t chew through the foam.
Now, if your dog or cat isn’t the only animal that comes running at the smell of pet food – whether it’s wet or dry, the rodents love the smell of dog food, as well. It’s so enticing that I have seen them chew through heavy-duty food bags, even plastic bins just to get at the food. So you want to keep that dry pet food in sealed, metal containers and rinse out your pet-food bowls before heading to bed every night.
Now, you also want to give your kitchen counters and the tables a good cleaning in the evening. Get those crumbs off the surfaces. Any outdoor animal is going to say, “Ooh, look at this tiny, little crumb” and come running.
And while it doesn’t help to get their IQs, critters love newspapers and magazines just as much as we do. So get rid of stacks of papers and cardboard that all of these rodents can turn into wonderful nesting sites. You’re really handing them a great place to live if you’re leaving out stacks of papers.
If you’re looking for some more ways to keep your house critter-free, head over to MoneyPit.com where we have solutions for all the areas of your home, inside and out.
TOM: Absolutely. Time to show those mice the eviction sign.
Hey, coming up next time on the show, laminate countertops, they can give you the look of natural stone without the price but they are definitely not quite as durable. However, the good news is that laminate tops are actually pretty easy to repair. We’re going to share some tricks of the trade to do just that, in the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2021 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)