How to Dodge Drafts and End Windy Winter Woes #0129182

More in:
  • winter_snow_tree_branches_window_shutterstock_177282701
  • window-1225741_1920
  • Install Floor Tile
  • Cedar Siding Church
  • Chimney
    Photo Credit: AxxLC / Pixabay
  • stucco_cement_siding_texture_repair_exterior_shutterstock_31923430
  • attic_insulation_stock
  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And what we do is help you with your décor and home improvement and remodeling projects. And the way we do that is you pick up the phone and you call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or you post a question to The Money Pit’s Community page at Then we’ll jump right into it and help get the job done for you. So, if you’re thinking about a project, now is a great time to reach out. 888-666-3974 is the phone number, so you don’t have to spell out “money pit” on your iPhone or your Android, which is always a pain in the neck.

    LESLIE: It is.

    TOM: But if you do reach out to us, we’d love to talk with you about the project going on in your house, your condo, your apartment, whether it’s a décor project, whether it’s a fix-up project. Maybe you’re paying just a bit too much in energy bills and you want to cut those costs. Give us a call, reach out on the Community page and we will get to work for you.

    Coming up on today’s program, has the winter weather been taking its toll on your home’s siding? That winter wind is awful. It can rip siding off, it can rip shingles off. And it can blast straight through your windows and end up giving you the chill of a lifetime and then you’re driving your heat up with the thermostat and costing you a lot of money. We’re going to have some ways for you to stop that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And you might, at this point, already have your food prepped and the flat-screen TV ready for that Super Bowl party. But if you really want to complete that whole experience, how about a home bar? We’re going to have some easy tips to build your own, coming up.

    TOM: Plus, installing a bookshelf is a nice addition to your décor. But it’s one that can turn into a big safety hazard if it’s not attached properly to a wall and if you’ve got kids. Because kids have another name for the bookshelf and they call it a “ladder.” We’re going to teach you how to make sure that shelf is safe so it doesn’t come tumbling down.

    So that and more coming up on today’s edition of The Money Pit. Help yourself first by joining the program at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online to the Community page at

    LESLIE: Don in Pennsylvania is on the line with a question about siding. What can we do for you today?

    DON: My house was built in 2001. It’s about 5,000 square feet. And it’s a lot of cracking in the stucco. And what they tell me – it was not applied properly back then and so water got behind it. And as a result – we’re in a cold-temperature area – it would crack.

    And so, anyways, I was wondering if there’s a low-cost solution to repair it. I’ve received estimates anywhere from $80,000 to $125,000, which is a big price spread between putting Hardie board on or ripping all the stucco off and applying new stucco with a different application.

    TOM: This is a masonry stucco? This is not an EIFS stucco: an exterior insulated-foam siding system? This is a masonry-stucco system?

    DON: Yeah, it’s a masonary (ph) stucco system with lath. And I think it was Dryvit at the time, as far as the stucco. But I understand it doesn’t matter if it’s Dryvit or not. I guess that was something that was smooth that you could paint on it.

    But I’ve also heard there’s been problems with Hardie board, too, that really doesn’t solve the solution or it doesn’t solve the problem. So I’m kind of wondering what the best application is.

    TOM: I’m still not convinced, by the way, that I understand fully what you have. Because you said Dryvit and Dryvit is a product that’s used on foam siding – on foam insulating boards – that looks like stucco but it’s not real stucco. It’s a synthetic stucco. If it’s a masonry stucco, it’s basically – you know, it’s lime and mortar mixed up and troweled on and textured over a wire mesh.

    DON: That’s exactly what it is. The trouble – what’s behind it is OBS plywood, I guess, or not a plywood but …

    TOM: Yeah. OSB, you mean. Yeah.

    DON: Yeah, OSB. And what happens with it behind – they tell me that they did not put either a drip seal or something where the water would fall down. I had a stucco house in Florida but it was concrete block.

    TOM: Right. That’s different, yeah.

    DON: And I never had any problems with it because the moisture would just go right in. I guess what happened behind this is moisture got behind it. And then, as a result, with the temperature change with freezing, there’s a tremendous amount of cracks all over, through the house.

    TOM: Right.

    DON: And other builders in the area, like Toll Brothers and Pulte and some of the other major builders, have stood behind it and they’ve actually redone the stucco on some of these houses. I have a different local custom builder that built the house. And I had him out probably about 8 or 10 years ago. He told it was my problem on maintenance, that I should have maintained the house better. So, that was his solution.

    But I found – subsequently found out that there’s been a lot of problems. A lot of houses in this area have the same problem.

    TOM: So here’s what I would be cautious about. It does sound like you’re not going to be able to put lipstick on a pig here. You’re not going to be able to do anything to this that’s going to make it any better. You’re probably already caulking it and sealing it and using the appropriate products for that.

    DON: Right.

    TOM: And it sounds like there might be an adhesion issue between the stucco and the wall or a water-resiliency issue. So you probably are going to end up having to take that stucco off.

    But here’s what I would not do. I would not hire a contractor that says they can do this job without first hiring an architect or a structural engineer to design the job that they are to do. Because there’s a lot of contractors that just think they know what they’re doing but they don’t.

    And if you have an engineer involved, I think it’s good for you for two reasons. Number one, you can document the condition of the property now and you can document the fix. Because you’re going to want to sell this house at some point in the future. And if a question came up about this work, there’s nothing better to show a potential buyer than the fact that you had it examined by a professional, they specified the repair and then you had contractors that basically executed that exact specification. They built it, they corrected it, they fixed it exactly like the engineer recommended it be done, so you have that sort of pedigree on the success of the repair modification in this case. And secondly, you can rest assured and sleep well at night that it was done properly.

    So, I just don’t want you to go to the first contractor that gives you a price you like and talks a good game without having a spec done first, because it is a big and expensive job. And the money that you’re going to spend on an engineer is going to be a very small but well worth piece of it. Does that make sense?

    DON: Yes, it surely does. And I know a lot of people are doing that, as far as having the house inspected before it goes for sale, to show that there’s no stucco damage on some of these other houses. And they have an engineering report where they write 8 or 10 pages on examining the house and doing things like that.

    TOM: Well, yes and no. But let me clarify that for you. So they have a home inspection report. And I was a home inspector for 20 years, so I know what that looks like. I’m not a structural engineer. I’m telling you to get a structural engineer, not a home inspector, to spec this out for you or an architect, one of those two professionals.

    DON: OK.

    TOM: And yes, if a home inspector comes in and sees the work is done – and that question can come up and you can present the history at that time. But I don’t want you to hire a home inspector; I want you to hire a structural engineer or an architect to spec this out for you.

    DON: OK, good.

    TOM: Because once you have that document, then you have contractors that come in. It’s not like, “How are you going to fix it?” And one guy says he’s going to do X and the other guy says he’s going to do Y. This way, you say, “Look, you’re going to all going to bid on this document. This is exactly how I want it fixed.”

    And you have all of those discussions with your professional and you decide what material you want as a finish and all of that. You give them all the specs. They’re all bidding apples to apples and then you have the engineer or the architect reinspect it, either even during the time, even maybe when the old stucco is pulled off to see if there’s damage. But you have partial inspections done or periodic inspections done and you have a final and then a final report. So, you know, if you have to spend a couple extra grand doing that on professional fees, that is a drop in the bucket and well worth …

    DON: Oh, that’s good. I appreciate it. That’s good advice. I truly appreciate the help.

    TOM: Alright. Sorry that happened to you. Let us know how you make out, OK? Take care.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit. What’s your how-to or your décor question? Whatever it is, give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    TOM: Still ahead, has winter wind wreaked havoc on your home? We’re going to have some easy steps to fix it fast, next.

    Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at And 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. Great source for expert help. If you’ve got a project that you need to get done, head on over to

    LESLIE: Laurie, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    LAURIE: We have a Chamberlain ¼-horsepower garage-door opener and it has no remote.

    TOM: OK.

    LAURIE: We bought the house as-is, so we have no remote for it. Also, it has a keypad on the outside, which I’m unable to use. So, my question was: if I go to Home Depot or Lowe’s, would a universal remote work or do I have to call a garage-door company out to sell us a Chamberlain remote and program it?

    TOM: Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you get the model number of the Chamberlain garage-door opener, which is probably printed on the back of the unit, go to the Chamberlain website and get the owner’s manual for the door opener? With that owner’s manual, you should be able to program the keypad. It’ll tell you the right sequence to do that. And also, you most likely can find out from Chamberlain exactly which remote is designed to work with that unit.

    Now, Chamberlain is a very good company and in fact, they have a new technology that’s called MyQ. And the cool thing about the MyQ technology is you can actually put this MyQ unit in your garage and then you’ll be able to open and close your garage door with your smartphone. So, they’re way ahead of the game on this stuff.

    LAURIE: Yeah. That’s what I was going to ask you, too. Is this one too old to do that?

    TOM: I think it actually works on every garage-door opener that was built after 1996, so it may not be. It might be fine.

    LESLIE: Can’t remember if it’s ‘96 or ‘94.

    TOM: Yeah, it goes back over 10 years.

    LAURIE: Good. OK. Because this one is about six years old.

    TOM: I think that’s how I would proceed. I would not just go buy something and hope it works. I would do the research and you’ll figure it out. OK, Laurie?

    LAURIE: OK. I’ll go on their web page. Thank you for the advice.

    TOM: Well, more than any other exterior element, siding makes the biggest visual impact for your house, right? The vinyl siding is super popular in the States, mainly because it’s really durable, it’s inexpensive and it requires very little maintenance unless you get a blast of winter wind.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, even though it’s not that often, vinyl siding will occasionally need some kind of fixing because pieces can become loose from a storm and then they start to peel back. Now, this isn’t a hard fix. You just need to pick up a tool called a “zipper.”

    TOM: Yeah. Because vinyl siding interlocks. So when it peels off of a – when a blast of winter wind grabs a corner and peels it back, it’s hard to snap it back together. But this handy tool works by locking the pieces back together as you slide it along, just like a zipper. So it makes it really easy to put that siding back in one place. It’s going to save you some time and money and that’s certainly two things that homeowners love doing. So, if that happens to you, go pick up the zipper tool. It’s a really easy fix for loose vinyl siding.

    LESLIE: Andrew is on the line. How can we help you today?

    ANDREW: I am adding a wood-burning add-on to my furnace. I live out in the country. I have a two-story Victorian house. I have to have the chimney go out. And I don’t know if it’s better to just hit the external wall from the basement and have it right alongside the house or if to have the chimney from the wood-burning add-on go up through my house, where the old chimney used to be. Obviously, put a new one but have it come out the roofline.

    TOM: Right. So, do you – where this old chimney used to be, that’s not being used anymore? There’s no part of the chimney that will be used after this conversion is done?

    ANDREW: Right. It’s just a shell right now. They brought it down below the roofline when they put a new roof on it, yeah.

    TOM: I see. Yeah, I would keep it inside the house then. It’s unsightly to have it go up the exterior of the house. If you have the opportunity and you just have an empty chimney void, why not run it up through the middle of the chimney and have it come up out through the roof like a typical chimney would?

    I presume that you’re talking about a B-vent. I’m sorry, not a B-vent but a wood-burning stove metal, prefabricated chimney vent?

    ANDREW: Yeah. It would have a blower on and I’d have it going to my furnace that would just have the fan running on my furnace to blow it to the vents.

    TOM: So this supplements the furnace. What kind of fuel is the furnace using?

    ANDREW: Right now, it’s natural gas.

    TOM: Well, where is that venting?

    ANDREW: Coming out the side of the house with PVC.

    TOM: Oh, so it’s a high-efficiency unit?

    ANDREW: Yeah.

    TOM: OK. Yeah, I think you could go – you can use the old chimney vent – chimney structure – to run that vent up through. That makes sense.

    ANDREW: OK. OK. And that soot that’s left on there wouldn’t affect the new stuff coming up through it?

    TOM: No, no. You’re going to not run it into the chimney; you’re going to line the chimney with the new vent.


    TOM: Because you don’t want to run it just up in the chimney. It may not be the right size or it may not be lined properly. No, you – I presume you’re going to drop – you’re going to line that chimney and run it up through the middle of it and then out the top.

    ANDREW: Yeah.

    TOM: And it’s going to be real important that you maintain it, as well.

    ANDREW: OK. Yeah. And I plan on doing – I’d have to cut the roofline and do that. I just didn’t know if it would be more cost-effective to do that or out the side of the house, as well. But it’s probably going to end up being the same amount.

    TOM: Right.

    ANDREW: Alright. Well, thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Julie in Missouri, which is probably freezing, just like everybody else in the United States of America has been this winter.

    JULIE: Yeah, like way below freezing. So, that’s part of my question. We have a couple of huge hot-water heaters: an 85-gallon and a couple of 50s. We have a bed-and-breakfast and the hot-water heaters are in the basement. And it seems like it’s always the people on the third floor that get up first. And so there’s a lot of water going down the drain of all that hot water. Plus, over the past couple of years, we’ve had frozen pipes and not the outside walls; it’s been in the middle of the room. Because the house was built in the 1800s, so there’s pretty drafty walls.

    So, I remember somebody telling me once about some recirculating hot water so the pipes always have hot water in them. Maybe those hot-water pipes wouldn’t freeze.

    TOM: Well, first of all, hot water is only half of the equation here. You know, you’re going to be running cold water up to those rooms, as well, correct? Like for a bathroom?

    JULIE: Well, I guess. That’s why I’m calling you, because you’re the man.

    TOM: Yeah. So I mean I would think recirculating hot water is not the solution here.

    Look, if you’ve got frozen pipes or pipes that are – that tend to freeze, there’s really only a couple of things that you can do about this. And the most sensible thing is to insulate them.

    Now, if it’s in an interior wall space and you know where that wall is, one thing that you could think about doing is adding blown-in insulation to the interior wall. Now, normally, you wouldn’t do this, right? Because why insulate an interior wall? But that would be a lot easier than tearing a wall open. You’ve got to get insulation on these pipes if they’re prone to freezing. And nothing else short of that is going to solve this.

    I have, in my house, a kitchen sink that had a pipe that ran up the exterior wall. And invariably, in the coldest winters, it would freeze. The only solution there is to insulate the pipe. And when we couldn’t get to that pipe to insulate it, what we ended up doing was actually moving the lines to a different location so they would be less likely to freeze.

    So there’s always a solution. It’s not always easy but you’ve got to insulate those, as a start. And if it’s an interior wall, I would simply blow insulation into that wall. That’s the fastest way to get some warmth around those pipes and stop them from freezing.

    In terms of recirculating hot water, yes, there are ways to do that. But it tends to be very wasteful and I don’t think it would be cost-effective when you consider all of the electricity it takes to run that water 24-7. Plus, when you’re running that water back to the water heater, remember, your water heater is going to run more frequently, too, because it’s actually going to be heating a lot more water: not only the water that’s in the water heater but all that extra water that’s running through the pipes.

    So I don’t think, from a cost-effective perspective – even though it seems like you’re wasting resources and wasting money and wasting water, I don’t think you’re wasting so much that it would be anywhere near a break-even for you to put in the equipment it would take to recirculate it.

    JULIE: OK. Alright. Well, thanks. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Julie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Nick in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    NICK: I want to add some blown-in insulation into my attic.

    TOM: OK.

    NICK: The house only has gable vents on three ends. Do I need to block the soffit area when I’m blowing in insulation?

    TOM: Yeah. Do you have soffit vents now, Nick?

    NICK: There are no soffit vents. Only the gable vents.

    TOM: So, you really – yeah, you really should open up the soffits. You should have continuous soffit ventilation. Then you would put insulation baffles in there, which basically holds the blown-in insulation back so that air can get into the soffits and ride up under the roof sheathing. And then you might also consider adding a ridge vent at the peak. The more ventilation, the better when you’re dealing with fiberglass insulation.

    NICK: OK. So even (audio gap) soffit vents, I still need to leave that area for air to flow.

    TOM: Yeah. And do you know what an insulation baffle is? It’s like a foam channel or a cardboard channel that fits in between the roof rafters. And it basically just makes sure the air can get over any insulation that’s piled up where the roof and the soffit comes together, because it gets kind of narrow down in that deep corner. So this keeps it open so that airflow can get in there.

    NICK: OK.

    TOM: And this way, it’ll – as it moves into the soffit, it’s going to push up under the roof sheathing and exit at the ridge.

    NICK: That makes sense.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling the show.

    NICK: Alright. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Hey, if you really want to wow your guests, have them belly-up to your very own homemade bar. We’re going to tell you what you need for this project, next.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Podcast. Thank you so much for spending this time with us. We’ve got some tips, we’ve got some advice to help you get on with your how-to projects. If you’ve got a question, though, we’d love for you to participate in the program. So call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, which is 888-666-3974, or post your question to right there in the Community page.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re talking to Georgia in Texas who’s got a question about tile flooring. How can we help you with your project?

    GEORGIA: Yes. I live in a house that my grandparents originally built back in 1950. The flooring in the kitchen is what I refer to as the old linoleum. A rubber-topped linoleum is what I thought. But it is crumbling and someone at a tile place told me it is probably asbestos, because of the age of it. So, I have been told, yes, I can it rip it up and it’s OK or no, don’t mess with it and put something over it, like cement board, and then retile.

    TOM: So, this tile floor is located where?

    GEORGIA: In the kitchen.

    TOM: And how old is the tile floor?

    GEORGIA: It was put in in 1950.

    TOM: Well, if you want to determine whether there’s asbestos in it, you’d have to take a piece of tile and have it tested.


    TOM: But if it’s the original floor and you want to put a different floor over it, there’s really no reason not to. I mean laminate floor, for example, would be a good choice for a kitchen. And there’s no reason you can’t lay that right over the existing tile.

    GEORGIA: Well, no, it is literally cracking and crumbling. I trip over it every day and another new piece goes flying across the floor.

    TOM: Again, what I would do is I would probably not – tell you not to tear it up. It’s most likely simply vinyl tile. But if you want to be safe, just leave it in place and go ahead and floor right over it.

    GEORGIA: OK. Well, I wasn’t sure, you know? The flooring underneath it – the wood underneath it – is still good. So, yeah, I just wasn’t sure which way to go or how to go about it, if I should go to the expense to put down the cement boarding and then put the – on top of the floor, screw it down and then put tile over on that.

    TOM: Well, why are you going to put the cement floor down? Are you going to put ceramic tile down?

    GEORGIA: It’d be nice. I grew up calling it “Mexican tile” or tile that’s made in Mexico.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    GEORGIA: And it’s heavy and you’ve got to putty it and you’ve got to work with it and stuff.

    TOM: Well, certainly, if you’re going to do it that way, you could put the board underneath the tile, right on top of the floor. There’s no reason you couldn’t do that, as well, OK?

    GEORGIA: OK. Thanks.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you want to step up your game for entertaining at home, have you thought about building an at-home bar? Now, come on, even if you don’t imbibe, bars really are a great place for your family and your friends to gather. You can do your homework there, you can eat your dinners there. But it’s truly just a hangout place.

    Now, the hardest part is finding the right place to put it. A lot of people really like to put these bars in their basements but you can put them in your family room, dining room or even simply convert a closet.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, you need to consider how much electricity you’ll need to power all of those fun bar gadgets and more importantly, how many outlets. Because you want to make sure you’re doing it right. And if the outlets are going to be near water, if you are going to have a sink, you want to make sure they’re ground-fault outlets.

    Now, the average height for a sit-down bar is about 42 inches and about 4 more inches for standing-room only. So you need to figure in at least a foot of overhang, as well. Because if you want that counter to overlap, you need to figure in that depth of the measurement so the knees won’t get locked.

    And also, keep in mind that if this bar is going to be a moveable bar, you need to balance it for that overhang. And if it’s not going to be a moveable bar, make sure it’s secured well, because people will lean on the outside edge of that bar. Because that’s what you do in a bar, right? You don’t want it to flip off or flip over.

    LESLIE: And the more time you spend there, the more you lean.

    TOM: The more you lean. Exactly.

    LESLIE: Now, guys, you can always hire an experienced craftsperson to construct this bar for you. But a better option is to look at salvage places for bars that have been tossed out in demolition, which might just need a bit of trimming and cleanup or slight retrofitting to make it work for your house.

    If you want a complete checklist of items that you need to create a spectacular at-home bar, just search “how to build a home bar” on

    Robin in South Dakota needs help keeping a basement dry. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROBIN: What we’ve got going on is I’d like to insulate the basement but before we do that, I’d like to seal it from water. Several years ago, I had dug up all around the outside of the house and put on that tar substance and that didn’t do it. So, I was just seeing if that spray-on poly spray would do both for me: both seal the basement up from some water coming in and also to insulate for me.

    TOM: Do you have more water problems when you get a heavy snow melt or a big rainstorm or something like that?

    ROBIN: Yeah, that is what’s coming in. It’s the rain. Actually, the rain hitting the foundation wall coming in is what causes it. It’s not groundwater coming up.

    TOM: Well, typically, the reason the basements leak is because when you have a heavy rain, water collects around the foundation perimeter. And many folks do try to seal walls from the outside or from the inside but we found it far easier and more effective to simply take some steps to divert that water away from the walls.

    If you take a look at our website, – in fact, on the home page, this is – we have the list of the most viewed articles. This is constantly in the top 10 articles and that is the step-by-step advice on how to stop a wet basement.

    But generally speaking, you’re going to do a couple of things. First of all, you’re going to examine the foundation perimeter of your home and look carefully at the grade. You want the soil to slope away about 6 inches over 4 feet. So you want kind of a 10-degree slope. And you want to make that slope happen with clean fill dirt, not topsoil because it’s too organic.

    Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, you want to take a look at your gutter system. First, you need to have enough downspouts. You need 1 downspout for every 600 to 800 square feet of roof surface. Next, those gutters obviously have to be clean and the downspouts have to be extended 4 to 6 feet away from your house.

    Now, most of the time when downspouts are installed, they turn into a splash block and go out maybe a couple of feet. But what happens is the water runs down there, does a U-turn and just saturates the foundation and leaks through the block wall, which is very hydroscopic, very absorbent and will show up as a leak inside.

    We’ve seen situations where just one downspout can cause an issue of flooding. And that water can either come through the wall and fall or it can go under the floor and come up. But if your basement is leaking consistent with rainfall, it is always, always, always due to grading and drainage on the outside. So address that and your problem will go away.

    ROBIN: OK. Sounds good.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Hey, a beautiful bookshelf can become a really terrible disaster if it’s not anchored correctly to a wall, especially if you’ve got young kids in the house. We’re going to tell you how to keep everyone safe, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, call us, right now, with your how-to or décor question at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust. Plus, it’s 100-percent free to use.

    LESLIE: Joyce in Massachusetts, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JOYCE: I have nine windows and we had someone caulk the windows where the window sills – because we live in Boston and the cold air has been blowing in. I want to know how I can seal them up, because it didn’t do one iota thing for the gentlemen caulking the nine windows.

    TOM: Didn’t do any good, huh? And did he caulk them from the outside or from the inside?

    JOYCE: From the inside, because this is an apartment building. And what – we’re on the seventh floor and we have windows going on different angles. And so I’m trying to find out what is the easiest way to prevent the cold from blowing in, because it’s unbearable.

    TOM: OK. Since you’re on the seventh floor, I presume that you don’t use your windows – you would never use your windows for emergency egress. Do any of them go to a fire escape or anything like that?

    JOYCE: No, no.

    TOM: OK. So, there’s two things that you can do here, one of which is you can use a shrink film. It’s a clear, plastic wrap that you cut to fit the size of the window. You attach it with a double-face – clear double-face tape that comes with it. And then you use your hair dryer to heat it and it becomes very taut and clear so it doesn’t obstruct the view.

    JOYCE: What about weather-stripping, like weather felt?

    TOM: Well, that’s all possible but there’s another option. And the reason I asked you if you needed to use your windows for egress is because I was going to recommend temporary weather-stripping.

    Now, there’s a caulk that’s like a weather-stripping sealant but it’s a temporary sealant, OK? So the way this works is you essentially caulk your windows shut. You caulk all the seams in the window, where they slide up and down, with this clear, temporary caulk. And then what happens is in the spring, you can actually grab the edge of this caulk and peel it right off. It comes off like a clear, rubbery strip. And it enables you to essentially seal your windows shut in the winter and then restore them in the spring.

    JOYCE: Thank you very much. And I enjoy your program immensely.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, if you’ve got kids and you’ve got bookshelves in your house, you’ve got a combination that can quickly turn unsafe, because kids have another use entirely for bookshelves. They can be a great décor item but they can easily tip over if the kids turn them into ladders.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And they’re bound to turn them into ladders. They’re going to see something on the top shelf or something on a piece of furniture kind of nearby that they need to get to because it’s higher. And well, they just look easy to climb.

    So, the easiest way to anchor a bookshelf is to just do it with 3-inch drywall screws. Now, first of all, you’ve got to find the studs behind the wall, which a stud finder really can help you out. It comes in super handy for this. And then you screw through the bookshelf itself, into that stud, in at least two or three places. This really is the most simple way to do it.

    TOM: Yeah. And there’s also a piece of hardware that’s available that can help. It’s essentially a small but a very strong strap that you can use. You screw one into the wall and the other to the bookcase, so it’s really handy if you don’t have a bar behind the bookcase that’s solid enough to kind of tie it in. Because some of those bookcase backers are really weak. This could just be one strap that kind of ties to the top of the bookcase. You don’t really see it when you’re standing on the ground, because it’s on top of the bookcase, but it will actually stop it from pulling away from the wall.

    So whatever hardware you decide to use, just make sure you secure it so it’s safe for the kids.

    LESLIE: Time to talk to Phillip in Rhode Island about a roofing question. What can we do for you?

    PHILLIP: Well, in Rhode Island, in my neighborhood in Jamestown, there’s a lot of beautiful, red cedar-shingled houses. And I just put brand-new, red-cedar shingles on my house, on my roof. I noticed some of the houses age beautifully. Like when I – what I mean in beautifully is they age darker red and sometimes little bits of black or streaks of black and red and deep, deep red. And some of them don’t age that way. It’s like – and I’m just wondering if you guys know anything about how to get them to age the way I want them to. I don’t want them to age light; I want them to age darker red.

    TOM: Yeah, we don’t always get to choose how we age, right? And that applies to our shingles, as well.

    So when you choose red cedar, that gets darker over time and it will turn to a very dark gray, typically, as it’s exposed to sunlight. I guess it’s possible that you could apply a stain to the cedar shingles, even though they’re roofing shingles, but most people don’t do that.

    So, what we typically get calls about, when it comes to cedar, is how to not to have – how to prevent them from getting darker. And one way to do that is to replace the vent across the ridge of the roof. Or if you don’t have a vent there, you can essentially do the same thing with a strip of copper.

    If you were to overlay the peak of the roof with, say, a 12-inch-wide strip of copper – so half goes on one side and half goes on the other – what happens is as rainwater strikes that, it releases some of the copper. And that acts as a mild mildicide and helps to keep the roof shingles clean and prevents algae growth.

    PHILLIP: Oh. But it still – then they wouldn’t age dark; they’d stay lighter.

    TOM: It would be less likely to get as dark and they certainly wouldn’t grow an algae. Perhaps you may have noticed that sometimes when you look at houses, especially around chimneys that have metal flashing, you’ll see bright streaks at the bottom of the chimney. That’s for the same reason. What happens is that metal flashing releases some of its copper and then cleans that area under the chimney. That’s why it gets streaky there. But if you do it across the whole peak of the roof, then it will sort of clean evenly.

    PHILLIP: It’ll clean evenly. But I’m looking for that aged look: the kind of the darker-shingle aged look, the darker color. And I guess it’s just up to Mother Nature is what you’re saying.

    TOM: It really is.

    PHILLIP: Yeah.

    TOM: It really is.

    PHILLIP: I appreciate it. Thanks very much, you guys.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Hey, did you ever wonder how much is too much when it comes to overloading an electrical outlet? We’ll tell you, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, Leslie, now that we’ve spent a good part of this show telling everybody what they should be doing to their own house, what are you doing to yours? Any projects coming up for the weekend?

    LESLIE: There’s so much that I want to do and I’m getting to the point where the built-ins that I had put in around the fireplace with the overmantel, some of the caulk where the built-ins meet the sidewall is coming out and I’ve got to fix that. It’s starting to show a little crack. I really want to paint my dining room. There’s lots of things that I’m sort of looking at and wanting to do but honestly, we’ve all been hit by the flu. The kids had it. I feel like I’m one day away from it. And all I do is spend my weekends cleaning. Clean, clean, clean. Bleach, bleach, bleach.

    TOM: Yeah, I feel your pain. Well, you know we always tell everybody else, “Just take one small project, one part of a project, and get that done. Feel the accomplishment from that and then just don’t get overwhelmed by everything else.” When you have a long list, it’s easy to get sort of analysis paralysis. But just take one job, get her done.

    LESLIE: That’s true.

    Alright. And don’t forget to post your questions online in the Community section, just like Louis did. Now, he writes: “I have two outlets in my home office with all my computer equipment plugged in. I have about a million things plugged into two surge protectors coming out of the outlets. How much can one outlet handle? Do I need to call an electrician and get more outlets installed?”

    This seems like a lot.

    TOM: Well, it – but it’s not so much how much the outlet itself can handle, because the outlet can handle as much as the circuit can handle. And typically, a circuit on the wall is going to be a 15-amp circuit. But the problem is if you’ve only got one outlet with two prongs in it and you’ve got a surge protector plugged into both, there’s not much room to grow.

    So, a reason to have an electrician in might be if you wanted to have an additional outlet. But that said, I do believe if the surge protectors that you put in there are good and safe and moderate equipment or if they’re just power strips, then they should be fine.

    One thing you want to not do, though, is if you do have surge-protecting power strips, don’t plug one into another because they kind of start to conflict. And that could become a big issue. So, as long as you just have those two plugged in – and frankly, the computer equipment doesn’t use that much. I mean a printer, really, more than anything else and only if it’s a big one. So you’re probably well under the 15-amp line.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Louis? Let’s think about color-coding these cords here. Make sure your cables are wrapped nicely. Maybe put a zip tie or something on them to keep them together. Put a little color tab on one end and down at the plug so you know what exactly is plugged in where. So when something does go wrong and you’re looking, you can find things fast.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve ever completed a fix-up project only to have it break down again a short time later, Leslie has tips for turning those nagging problems into one-and-done jobs, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, fixing that same problem over and over again really is a drag. And it only seems to happen with some projects more than the others. So, to bring an end to those vicious cycles, the solution here is to change the way you take on that project and actually get to the root of the issue.

    Now, peeling paint, that’s a classic example here. The next time you see some peeling paint, don’t just go and slap another coat of paint on top of it. Instead, strip away that old paint with a paint scraper or a chemical-stripping agent. And then, here’s the key, guys: you have to apply primer before you reapply that topcoat. The primer is what’s going to make that paint stick and stick really, really well.

    Now, if your basement seems to spring a leak every time you fix the last one, there’s a good chance that the real issue here is poor drainage. You want to make sure that you grade the soil away from your home’s foundation. And then make sure those gutters release water at least 4 to 6 feet from those exterior walls and you’ll find that you end up with a much drier space.

    And here’s another one, guys: put away that caulking gun once and for all. If the caulk between your shower tiles keeps cracking or breaking, fill your bathtub with water before you fill in that caulk one final time. Now, the weight of the water is going to expand the gaps that you need to fill, because it actually sinks the tub down. And once you fill the gaps with the caulk, let that cure and then drain the tub. And it’s going to sort of stick back up and it’s going to fill that space so much tighter and it’s going to last a lot longer.

    So these are some simple fixes that will really free up a lot of your time, guys.

    TOM: Absolutely. And most importantly, they’re one-and-done; you won’t have to go back at them over and over again.

    This is The Money Pit. Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about kitchen lighting. A kitchen is one of those places in your home that you really do need some task lighting. And one area that’s usually lacking is under the cabinets. We’re going to have some tips to help you shine some light and step up your style in those work areas, on 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 2018 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

  • Featured in this episode

Leave a Reply


More tips, ideas and inspiration to fuel your next home improvement, remodeling or décor project!