- Roofing: Find out whether it’s time to repair or replace that old, leaky roof and how to make roof shingles last.
- Washers and Dryers: Washers and dryers can cause leaks and fires if they’re not properly maintained. Here’s what to do.
- Heat Pumps: When temperatures plummet, you’ll want an energy-efficient heat pump system to improve comfort and air quality in your home. Know what to look for.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Soundproofing: Is your upstairs neighbor a ceiling stomper? Hopefully the noisy neighbor will agree to add soundproofing to the flooring while Tony uses soft goods to absorb the echo in his own apartment.
- HVAC: Gina has been advised to upgrade to a high-efficiency boiler with a direct vent system. We agree it’s worth the higher cost, which will be offset by rebates and energy savings, plus added home value.
- Concrete Repair: Need to fix cracks in a stamped concrete patio? Scott gets tips on how to color silicone caulk to match the existing concrete.
- Garage Insulation: Is it a good idea to insulate a detached garage? It’s worth adding spray foam insulation and fiberglass wallboard in case Christine decides to heat the garage in the future.
- Concrete Block Stains: The leaky cellar windows have been replaced and the problem stopped, but Ross still has stains on the concrete block wall. It should be easy to remove the efflorescence with a wire brush and apply concrete paint.
- Water Heater: Yuck! Lots of gunk came out of the old water heater when it was emptied. Gwen gets advice on draining the new water heater regularly to keep hard water mineral deposits from settling at the bottom.
- Refinishing Concrete: David’s concrete patio has gotten faded from the sun. We suggest some products for cleaning, staining, and refinishing the patio to make it attractive and durable.
- Sealing Gaps: There’s a recurring gap between the bottom doorsill and the concrete walkway behind Julianne’s house. We’ll tell her how to apply epoxy repair cement that will work better than the silicone caulking she’s been using.
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 take on the projects you want to get done around your house. You working inside? You working out? Dealing with a roof? Working on some outdoor décor for the holidays? Whatever is on your to-do list, you can move it over to ours by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your questions at MoneyPit.com by clicking on the blue microphone button.
Coming up on today’s show, now that we are in the roughest weather season of the year, it’s a good time to plan for roof repairs or replacement that might be needed to keep your home dry. But here’s the thing: which should it be? Can you repair it or do you have to replace the roof? We’re going to tell you how to make that call.
LESLIE: And your washer and dryer may clean your clothes but they can also be a source of major leaks and even fires if they’re not operating safely. We’ve pulled together a few tips to help keep them humming happily along.
TOM: And with winter approaching, now may be a great time to think about upgrading your HVAC system. We’re going to share a new technology in heat pumps that deliver efficient heat down to -13 degrees.
LESLIE: But first, we want to help you guys get those projects done. What are you working on? How can we help you? I hope that you guys have had a lovely Thanksgiving and you’re just relaxing this weekend, maybe decorating for the holidays. Well, whatever it is, give us a call, let us lend you a hand. Maybe we’ll give you a leftover recipe, too.
TOM: There you go. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can go to MoneyPit.com and click the blue microphone button. And those questions are coming in.
So, Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Tony on the line who’s dealing with a super-noisy neighbor.
Tell us about it. And hopefully, we can help quiet things down.
TONY: Oh, well, she just likes to stomp on my ceiling. And just trying to figure out what I can do to make it a little bit more quiet on my side.
TOM: A ceiling-stomper, huh? I’ll tell you what, that is tough. Is this a new problem? Did she change her flooring or anything like that?
TONY: She says she didn’t. I confronted her and the landlord. And she swears up and down she didn’t. But [in the end] (ph), we couldn’t see it.
TOM: Well, listen, I’ve got to tell you it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to do anything when you’re underneath a noisy neighbor like that. What could be done is on her side of it. And that would probably involve a new type of flooring that has a sound-resistant underlayment underneath it. You’re never going to get rid of all the sound.
Now, if she doesn’t – you can’t do that, you could put down throw rugs, area rugs, that sort of thing. But again, you’re kind of asking people to do this just for the good of the order and there’s no way to force them to do it. So, I don’t have any good solutions for you because sound-deadening usually starts above. You know, you – I mean even if you were to insulate that ceiling, that wouldn’t be your job to do if it’s an apartment.
TOM: And that would take an investment on the part of the landlord and I doubt the landlord is going to want to do that.
TONY: Did I mention that on my side is a ceramic tile?
TOM: Ceramic tile where? On your floor?
TONY: In my living room, yes.
TOM: Yeah. Well, look, if you want to soften some of that sound – Leslie, probably having some furniture or wall coverings would kind of help deal with that echo issue, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. And you didn’t mention having area rugs. So, with a ceramic floor like that, having an area rug is just going to help sound-deaden your own space. It kind of just absorbs a lot of that sound that’s going on and the reverberation from what’s going on upstairs.
So definitely add a rug or two if you can. If you don’t have any window treatments, put some up. The more things you have in each room – I’m not saying get it all cluttered, I’m not saying make a mess of your space. I’m just saying add some soft goods; that can definitely help absorb some of that sound. And I know a lot of guys are like, “But I’ve got a leather sofa.” That’s also like a ceramic-tile floor. Leather is just going to send it right back into the space again.
TOM: Now you’re messing with the guy’s man cave, Leslie. Come on.
LESLIE: I know. I’m sorry. But definitely think about things that can help absorb some of that sound. And the softer the better.
TONY: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. I hope that she will decide to quiet down for the good of the order, Tony.
TONY: Me, too. You guys have a good day.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to Gina in Massachusetts who’s got a question about the heating at her home.
What’s going on?
GINA: OK. So I have a rental property – two-family – and I’m updating the boilers. It’s gas. And I was going to go with the regular boilers, which are 85-percent efficiency and keep it going through a chimney. Or I was going to do the combis, I guess, Lochinvar and they’re direct; I guess they go outside.
TOM: Yeah, high-efficiency direct boiler. Right. OK.
GINA: My plumber is kind of saying that I should get liners in the chimney and keep the chimney hook-up and the water heaters.
TOM: Yeah. Yep.
GINA: And then I wouldn’t get the rebates and I wouldn’t get the 0-percent interest from National Grid Mass Save.
GINA: However, the combis, they’re saying that they need more maintenance and that’s what my problem is: that they don’t last as long and they require more maintenance. So, that’s where I’m at.
TOM: I don’t know if that’s true but is the combination boiler, the high-efficiency one, going to be a lot more expensive?
GINA: No, it’s going to end up – after the rebates, it’s going to end up the same amount of money.
TOM: Then there’s no question, in my mind, at all. I would definitely go with the high-efficiency. That’s definitely the right thing to do.
GINA: The ones that have the combis? The ones that have the water heater?
TOM: The direct-vent, yes. A direct-vent system, yeah. I think that’s really smart to do. And this way – because he’s right: you have an old house with an old chimney. You probably have to line it if you put even the 85-percent new boiler in.
And listen, why continue with the old technology when the new technology is there? You have the opportunity to have rebates. It’s probably being subsidized by the utility company because, generally, they’re a lot more expensive. That’s what I thought you were going to say. But if they are helping to keep those costs in line, I would definitely go high-efficiency.
GINA: It definitely – it is more expensive but after the rebates, it’s the same, so …
TOM: That’s what I mean. Yeah, because you have great rebates.
GINA: Oh, OK.
GINA: OK, OK.
TOM: So I would definitely take advantage of that. That’s a good opportunity for you.
GINA: So you haven’t heard that they need more maintenance, the …
TOM: No, no.
GINA: OK, OK.
TOM: And that’s – frankly, we saw the new equipment that comes out now. And that, to me, sounds like maybe a bit of rumor. But I really don’t think it’s true. Sure, they could break down like anything else – they’re more mechanical than the basic systems – but they’re high-efficiency. So, even if they do need a bit more maintenance or an occasional extra adjustment, I wouldn’t worry about it. I would definitely do that and enjoy the efficiency. It’s going to raise the value of your home and it’s also going to cost you less to heat it.
GINA: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Scott on the line who needs some help with a patio.
Tell us what you’re working on.
SCOTT: Yes, I had a patio put in about 2 years ago – it’s a stamped concrete patio.
SCOTT: The concrete was dyed gray.
SCOTT: It looks great. But I have a crack in two spots, where it’s a small hairline crack but it keeps getting bigger. And I’m not sure what to do for the repair.
TOM: OK. So, you can get gray silicone caulk. I know this because I just bought a couple of tubes myself for a kitchen project. But silicone is perfect for inside and out. And it sometimes is a little hard to find – and I happened to find mine at Home Depot but it wasn’t easy. And I wouldn’t expect that you can go to any Home Depot in the country and find it. But you certainly could order some online. But I would try to use a gray silicone caulk.
The problem with dyed – with concrete that’s dyed – if it was dyed all the way through, I could tell you how to create little concrete dust that was the same color of it. But usually, it’s dyed on the surface, so that’s not going to help you. This way, I think …
SCOTT: It’s dyed the whole way through.
TOM: It was dyed the whole way through, OK.
SCOTT: The concrete is dyed the whole way through.
TOM: So here’s a trick of the trade. Ready?
TOM: If you can expose an edge of that concrete that you don’t care about – I mean like a side of it. And if you could lay in maybe a piece of foil to catch the concrete dust and then take a masonry drill bit and drill into the side of that in an area, again, you don’t care about. And let that concrete dust get into the foil so you’re capturing it now.
So next – and you can do that silicone caulk into the crack and then sprinkle the concrete dust on top of it. And with your finger, push it in a little bit. So, basically, what you’re doing is you’re giving – the silicone will stop any more water from going in there. But the concrete dust you put on top will match the concrete that surrounds it. Does that make sense?
SCOTT: And then do I just put the concrete sealer on top of that?
TOM: You could if you wanted to. Yeah.
SCOTT: OK. That’s perfect. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Scott. And let us know how you make out, OK?
SCOTT: I sure will.
TOM: Alright. Take care now.
Well, now that we are in the roughest weather season of the year, it’s a good time to plan for roof repairs or replacement that might be needed. But which should it be: repair or replace? Well, here’s what you need to know to make that determination.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you’ve got to evaluate the wear and tear. Now, roof shingles are generally cotton or glass fiber that’s covered with an asphalt coating. And as the sun heats that roof, the asphalt starts to dry out. So you want to check your roof for signs of wear and tear, you want to look for cracked or curled or even broken shingles. And if the worn section is limited to just a small area, then you can repair it. But if the entire roof looks this way, replacement is going to be the best way to go.
TOM: Now, next up, it’s really important to understand layers. If you do need to replace your roof, you can usually add one additional layer of shingles for a total of two layers. Doing tear-offs, though, is not such a bad idea, even if you have only one layer. Second-roof layers do not cool well in the summer and therefore they wear out quicker than single-roof layers. So if you got 20 years out of your first roof layer, you’re probably only going to get 15 out of the second. So if you’re going to be in that house for a while, we recommend always removing the original layer of roof and starting clean.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, if your roof is leaking, you’ve got to check the flashing because that could be the only cause of your leak. Now, flashing is that metal or even that rubber material that makes the seal between the roof shingles and the plumbing pipes, the chimney or anything else that’s sticking through the roof. Now, loose or deteriorated flashing, that’s really responsible for a lot of leaks.
TOM: And lastly, if you do need a new roof, make sure you improve your roof ventilation. Cool attics help keep the roof cooler and cool roofs last a lot longer. Passive vents – those are the ones that don’t use any energy; they don’t have any motors – they’re much better than active vents like, say, attic fans. And one of the best is a continuous ridge and soffit-vent system. These vents are inexpensive and can usually be added to a house of any age.
And if you want a roof that’s going to last as long as possible, go with a lighter-colored roof over a darker-colored roof. Lighter-colored roofs reflect more UV and they definitely last a lot longer than their darker counterparts.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Christine from Ohio on the line and I think she’s got a lot of questions for us here at The Money Pit.
How can we help you?
CHRISTINE: So my first question is about the garage insulation. Our plans call for an uninsulated garage and we got some estimates on spray foam. And so I had them give me an estimate on the garage. I was wondering how much of an investment should we put on the insulation in the garage or is it worth it at all?
TOM: So, is this new construction, Christine?
CHRISTINE: Yes. Yep.
TOM: OK. So, garages don’t have to be insulated by building code. Usually, the only part of the garage that would naturally be insulated would be the wall between the garage and the house.
This is an attached garage?
TOM: Oh, detached. OK. So then it would have no insulation. So, the only reason to insulate this is if you, in the future, decide that you’re going to want to heat that space. And if it is a detached garage, that may very well be the case. And it’s never going to be easier than it is right now to insulate that space.
In terms of the insulation choice, since it is new construction, I would definitely recommend that you use spray-foam insulation because it’s very effective compared – much more effective than fiberglass. It also stops any drafts that are going through the walls.
TOM: So, my two cents would be – I would definitely insulate that garage and I would do it with spray foam before it’s all finished off. Because this way, you’ll be good to go.
Now, on the inside of that garage, if you’re going to put spray foam on those walls, you’re also going to need to cover them. So, think about that. You don’t want to leave that spray foam exposed, because it’ll just get beat up over time.
TOM: So you could put on any type of wallboard. I would maybe lean towards fiberglass wallboard. It looks like drywall but it’s a little bit harder and it doesn’t grow mold, because it’s outside.
CHRISTINE: Oh, OK. And in the crawlspace of the house, where we have the addition, we were going to get spray foam. Should we just get it on the joists or should it go all the way down the cinderblock?
TOM: Well, typically, it definitely goes on the underside of the floor joists and most importantly, at the box beam, which is the outside – right above that foundation. But the foam would not go down below that. If you do want to insulate the crawlspace walls, there’s a different type of a sort of a fiberglass batting that’s used for that, that’s contained inside of a wrap. It usually has a foil face. And that’s going to work better for that small section of fiberglass – of, excuse me, foundation wall.
CHRISTINE: OK, great. Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome, Christine. Very exciting. You’re getting a new house and we’re glad that we were able to help you make the right decisions for it.
LESLIE: Yeah, good luck with that.
CHRISTINE: Yes. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Alright. Heading to New York where we’ve got Ross on the line.
What’s going on at your money pit?
ROSS: When we bought the house, there had been prior leaking in the cellar, underneath a cellar window.
ROSS: I fixed the problem with a new window and had it properly installed. But years later, it’s still the staining and the mildew stain that’s on the concrete blocks below that window.
ROSS: I want to clean it and prep it to paint. The blocks are still in relatively good shape but I just want to know: what’s the best process and the best product to properly clean that wall and prep it for painting?
TOM: So, first of all, Ross, the window that was leaking, is this area still damp? Do you think that there’s any moisture that’s getting into that area under the window? Because it may not be coming from the window; it could be coming right through the wall, you know.
ROSS: We had an actual process done. Not only were the windows replaced just as normal upgrade but we had a process by a basement waterproofing company where they – every 2 feet on the outside of the building, they bored down through the dirt, all the way to the foundation and then they injected a liquid bentonite. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of that process but the liquid bentonite is kind of like a kitty litter almost. But when it gets injected near or into concrete block, it gets into the block and then it expands, like kitty litter would expand. And that process completely dried up the basement.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Alright. Well, listen, I would just say to you that the reason most basements leak is because of a problem with exterior drainage. So make sure your gutters are clean, your downspouts are extended and your soil slopes away from the house.
Now, aside from that, removing the stains is not that big of a deal. Usually, what you’re seeing is efflorescence. That’s the mineral salts that are left when the water evaporates – that gets in and then it dries out. So if it’s not an active leak, you just have these stains, I think, frankly, all you’ve got to do is wire-brush those walls to get rid of that loose stuff. Usually, it’s a white/grayish powder kind of a thing that’s stuck. If it’s on block, it’s not mold; it’s salts. And so, once you get that clear, then you can apply a concrete-block paint to that surface and you should be good to go.
ROSS: The drainage has been completely taken care of. There’s gutters, there’s downspouts, there’s – it slopes away from the house. Everything is check, check, check.
TOM: OK, good.
ROSS: The stains that are there are definitely a darker, blackish, mildew-y, old stain that just needs to – that’s left over from when there was a consistent moisture problem there.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Right. Yeah. But it’s not going to be mold or mildew, because you need a food source for that. And you have a masonry surface there, so you don’t have a food source. If it was drywall, I’d be more concerned. But as long as it’s dry, then it’s not active. I would just, like I say, brush it – wire-brush it – just to make sure any loose stuff is off. And then you can paint right over that. You should be good.
ROSS: OK. Terrific. Thanks very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ross. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Alright. Heading out to Tennessee. We’ve got Gwen on the line.
What is going on at your money pit?
GWEN: My water heater had – the element, we thought, had burned out. And so I had someone come and look at it. Was going to replace the element and he said, “Well, it’s clogged up.” And he couldn’t get it unclogged and he said, “We’re going to have to just pull this heater out and drain it, turn it on its side.” And what came out of the water heater was a gelatinous whatever.
TOM: Let’s call it by its technical name: “gunk.”
GWEN: Yeah, gunk was a good word. But I mean it was a lot of it and it wouldn’t – he couldn’t get it out until he turned the water heater over on its side and turned it around. And it was liquid and then it was just like this gel stuff.
TOM: Yeah, OK.
GWEN: And so, anyway, I have a water system – a Kinetico water system.
GWEN: And so, my thinking is – OK, I’m on a well. I should have said that.
GWEN: If water is coming from my well, through my water system that’s supposed to be filtering everything before it comes into the house – the Kinetico people don’t know what it is.
TOM: Right. Yeah.
GWEN: He first thought it was white slime but they checked all of my fixtures, commodes and everything and said, “No, it’s not white slime.” But he couldn’t – he didn’t know what it was, so he just hasn’t gotten back to me.
TOM: Well, listen …
GWEN: And I wondered if you all had heard of that.
TOM: No. But it sounds to me – before you’d even told me that you had run well water, I kind of knew what it was. I think it’s hard water. And I think what you’re seeing are mineral deposits that are settled into the bottom of the water heater.
What kind of water heater is this? Is it electric or gas?
GWEN: It’s electric.
TOM: OK. So, a lot of that stuff just settles down to the bottom. And I – and what happens is sometimes – in a gas water heater, especially – it ends up making it very inefficient, because the gas heat doesn’t get through all that stuff as efficiently.
How old is this water heater?
GWEN: It was only about 5 years old.
GWEN: And actually, what I did was – the contractor said I would be cheaper – I would be saving more money if I had just got a new water heater instead of him taking the time to try and get that stuff out of the one that I had.
TOM: Yeah, right.
GWEN: And so I bought – this was last year.
GWEN: And so, even – and he told me I need to drain it every 6 months.
TOM: Right. Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. You do need to drain it.
So you’ve got a drain at the bottom and you’ve got a little valve there. So you hook up a garden hose to it. And remember, it’s going to be hot so I would even maybe suggest turning the water heater off. You can turn off the breaker at your main panel maybe at night and in the morning, you can drain it or whenever – or turn it off in the morning and at night you can drain it. And then just open that valve up and let the water flow. And if you do it every 6 months, it’s going to wash away all – any minerals that are stuck down there.
It would be worth having a look, also, at the water-treatment system to make sure the water-softener portion of that is working correctly. Because I think with all those mineral deposits, probably more hard water is getting through than should. But if you flush it every 6 months like that, I don’t think this is going to happen again. I think you were just looking at 5 years of buildup.
GWEN: But that – with it being hard water, that would make it that jelly-type texture?
TOM: Yeah, because it’s minerals and it’s mixing with water and it’s going to sort of stick together. So, yeah, it can get gunky like that.
GWEN: OK. Good. Well, I hope that’s all it is. But you would think that the people who sold me the water system would think of the hard water.
TOM: Well, you would hope. But here’s something that you can do, also. You can – why don’t you just take a water sample and send it off to a testing lab? You can find one online or find one in the area. Don’t use the water company to – don’t use the Kinetico people to test it; get an independent test.
TOM: And this way, you’ll know if that system is working – really working properly and filtering out all the contaminants.
GWEN: Good idea. I will do that. Hey, I enjoy your show.
TOM: You’ve got it, Gwen. Have a great day.
LESLIE: Well, two of the hardest-working appliances in your home also have the ability to cause significant damage if they’re not properly maintained.
TOM: That’s right. We’re talking about your washer and your dryer. They may clean your clothes but they can also be the source of major leaks and even fires if they’re not operating safely. So, to help, we’ve got a few tips to help you keep them humming happily along.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, first, washer and dryer disasters are really more common than you think. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost 17,000 washer-and-dryer fires occur a year, which causes well over $200,000,000 in property damage. And 92 percent of these fires stem from dryers. Now, the good news is that these fires are easy to avoid if you know what to do.
TOM: Yep. So when it comes to dryers, most dryer fires occur because the dryer exhaust is dirty. So cleaning the lint trap after every load is good but it’s really not nearly enough to protect against a fire. The lint’s got to be removed from the dryer’s exhaust line. And that’s the vent that goes to the outside from the machine.
Now, besides cleaning, take a look at your dryer-exhaust duct itself. The best ones are made of metal because metal ducts are less likely to allow lint to stick to it. And they’re a lot easier to clean than vinyl or even flexible foil ducts.
So, check to determine what kind of dryer-exhaust duct you have and think about updating the ductwork if necessary.
LESLIE: Now, with your washing machine, you want to check those supply hoses. Because if you have rubber supply hoses on the washing machine, those can be a big weak link in the system. Those hoses can dry out, then they burst and that allows thousands of gallons of water to come rushing into your home.
Now, to avoid this plumbing problem, you want to check those hoses regularly for cracks and blisters. And be sure to turn off that water-supply valve to the washer before you leave home or – you know, for an extended period of time. I always turn ours off the second I’m done with the wash. So just get in the habit of turning it off.
Better yet, you can actually replace all of those hoses with braided-steel models. And then think about installing an easy-to-reach, single-lever, shut-off valve just for the washer. That’s exactly what we have and it makes life so easy. Up, it’s on. Down, it’s off. And then I know I’m ready to go.
TOM: Now, when it comes to high-efficiency machines, there’s really no difference from a safety perspective. But since these machines can have turbo rotation speeds of 1,200 RPMs and above, the machine can vibrate if it’s not supported and level. Now, if that’s the case, you definitely want to level it as best you can. But then you could add anti-vibration pads under the washer’s feet. They’re widely available and they can help steady the machine. They also make them run quieter.
Which, by the way, I just bought a new machine for an apartment that we rent. And we have a tenant that lives underneath the washer. So, I put the anti-vibration blocks in place. In addition to it being new and being level, those blocks really made a big difference in how quietly it runs. Otherwise, the floor tends to vibrate and you can really hear it.
LESLIE: David in Texas is on the line.
What can we help you work on this weekend?
DAVID: I’ve got a stained patio – concrete patio – that was done when they built my house.
DAVID: And it’s faded from the sun. But when you wet it with water, it looks like it was when they did it. Is there something I could put on that?
TOM: Yeah. So the wet look is working for you, in other words.
TOM: So I mean there are a number of different products out there that will work really, really well with concrete patios. So, you can always stain the patio, which will change it – will make it more uniform and it may blend in that stain.
But I think you might be better off looking at one of the refinishing products. One of our sponsors is a company called Daich – D-a-i-c-h – Daich Coatings. They’ve got a bunch of different patio and pool-surround finishes. And many of them use real stone as part of their makeup. And so you can have a finish that looks like marble or it has a decorative sort of epoxy grade to it. There’s a lot of different options to it. I would take a look at some of those products and maybe think about how that might work for you, because it’s a lot less expensive than replacing the patio. And they’re really durable finishes.
DAVID: Do they also – like a clear?
TOM: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm. They definitely have clear finish. And you’re thinking that if you put the clear on, that might just make it all an even color. I would try to test it, just to make sure it’s going to come out the way you expect. But yeah, they do have a clear epoxy finish, as a matter of fact.
DAVID: Yeah. Because they did – the inside of the house is done the same. And we have big bay windows. And so you see the outside and the inside and it’s just kind of uniform.
TOM: Yeah. There’s a product called Heavy-Duty Epoxy Clear Coat.
DAVID: OK. Well, I’ll give that a try then. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us.
LESLIE: Well, fall is a great time to look at some eco-friendly home upgrades. And that includes replacing old heating systems. Now, one option worth considering is the new Multi F Heat Pump System out from LG.
So, Tom, you looked into these systems. What’d you find out?
TOM: Yeah. You know, the heat-pump systems can actually reduce electricity that you use for heating by about 50 percent compared to an outdated gas furnace or an electric baseboard heater. And they can also improve indoor-air quality and home comfort, even in extreme climates.
Now, they’ve got a technology in them called LGRED, which stands for Reliable to Extreme Degrees. And here’s why that’s important: because it allows the heat pump to maintain its efficiency down to 5 degrees and can actually heat your home when it’s -13 degrees out, which we hope will never happen. But if it did, the LG system can handle it.
Now, the heat pumps with LGRED are ENERGY STAR-certified, which qualifies for a number of rebates. And the system works with the LG ThinQ connectivity app. And that includes a smart diagnosis function that can send maintenance alerts and reminders when filters need to be cleaned.
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: You’re welcome. Good luck that project.
LESLIE: Now, Donna wrote in saying, “I followed your tip about using plastic strips to get rid of woodpeckers and it worked. My question is: how do I fill the holes in the wood siding that they left behind?”
TOM: Ah, well, that’s great to hear.
So, for those that don’t know this tip or didn’t hear it, if you’ve got woodpeckers that are hassling you and they’re turning your house into a hole-y house that’s going to kind of look more like Swiss cheese than anything else, the way that you deter them is by putting strips of black plastic.
What I do is I’ll take a Hefty bag and I’ll cut it into streamers. So the strips may be about 2 inches wide but pretty long. And then tack it on the outside of the siding so that it sort of can blow in the breeze, flutter in the breeze. And it totally deters woodpeckers. They do not want to come back. They want nothing to do with that flopping plastic. Now, you can tie it off the trees if they’re attacking a tree or you can tack it to your house.
And now, in terms of the siding itself, well, in my experience, those holes are usually anywhere from a dime to a good quarter in diameter. So, if that’s the case, if it’s cedar siding where you can easily slip a piece of the siding out and replace it, I would do it that way. If it’s a long clapboard type of siding and your house is painted, then I would simply fill it. There’s a product called WoodEpox. It’s a two-part wood epoxy. It’s a putty. You kind of mix the two parts together and it dries in 24 hours, rock solid, and then you can sand it.
In fact, I used this on a sill that I was working on recently. A windowsill. It had an air conditioner in it that had leaked and the wood sill was all rotted out. I filled the whole thing with WoodEpox. Basically rebuilt it, sanded it down. You can’t tell. Painted, it looks just like a new sill now. So, check it out.
LESLIE: Alright, Donna. I hope that helps you out. And hopefully, those woodpeckers stay away for good.
Now, Marianne wrote in saying, “We have a rental with a very tall exterior natural-rock fireplace. Last winter, the chimney leaked and brought a lot of water inside the house. Is there a product we can coat it with and stop the rainwater from getting in?”
TOM: Well, I think it’s unusual that the entire chimney structure itself leaked. You may have had a directional rainfall that got in.
But a couple of things. The first thing you want to do if you have a leak is to check the top of the chimney. You want to make sure you have a chimney cap over there. You want to make sure a cap is covering the flue liner. And then around the flue liner, very often you will get cracks in that space. And so you want to seal the cracks that are around the flue and the concrete cap that basically goes from the flue to the outside of the chimney. Making sure that top is sealed up is really important.
And then next, after that, you can apply a masonry sealer to the rest of the chimney structure. Now, a masonry sealer will soak in and it will be – if you buy the right kind, it’ll be vapor-permeable. And the reason that’s important is because it will let moisture evaporate out; it won’t hold moisture in the chimney. And that’s important because if you get frost heave after that – you get freezing weather, you get frost heave – you’ll get cracks. And that can basically open the thing back up again.
So, fix up the chimney cap. Make sure there’s no cracks, make sure that there’s a hood on there, check the flashing and then apply masonry sealer to the rest of it. And you should be good to go.
LESLIE: Yeah, Marianne. It’s good to get this taken care of now because if water gets in there and then it freezes, everything could crack. I mean there’s a lot of stuff that can go wrong with the water getting into the rocks itself. So I would definitely get this taken care of because it’s always better to stay ahead and get things done before it gets real bad.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, guys, thank you so much for spending a little bit of your holiday weekend with us. We hope that we’ve given you a few ideas that will help you with your home improvement plans as the days and the weeks go on.
And if you’ve got questions, remember, if you couldn’t get through today, you can reach us anytime by going to MoneyPit.com and clicking on the blue microphone button.
Until then, 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 2022 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.)
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