- If you’d like to step up the look of your home’s exterior, a good lighting design can help. We’ll share tips on what you need to know to get that project done.
- Spaces under decks can be dark, dirty wastelands. But if your deck is a 2nd story, there are lots of ways to add an underdeck ceiling that drains rainwater passing through and really cleans up the look below.
- If you live in an old house, finding out when your house was built, who lived there, and what changes happened over the years can be a fun and fascinating journey. We’ll share tips on how you can do just that.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Dreema from West Virginia has a crack in her load-bearing center wall that is spreading to other rooms and wants to know if she should call a contractor or an engineer for advice on how to fix it.
- Robert in North Carolina is having a dryer that is not drying even after two or three loads.
- Betty from Texas needs a permanent solution to cracks in her door frame.
- Joe in Illinois is having condensation on his central air system and needs to know how to prevent this.
- Cindy from Delaware has dual sinks that occasional give off a strong sewage smell.
- Bud in Oregon needs to how to replace a lighting fixture.
- Pauline from New Jersey needs to clean a mineral deposit from a granite countertop.
- Mike in Pennsylvania has a steel tub that is rusting out and wants to know if he should refinish it or just rip it out.
- Tammy from Missouri gets a buzzing from her breaker every time she turns on her new furnace.
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: Here to help you take on your home improvement projects. If you’ve got a job you’d like to do, give us a call and we will help. Lots of ways to reach out to us, including our brand-new app, a faster way to ask your questions. You can also get to the top of the queue when you download it, because the new Money Pit VoxPop app allows to record and send your questions in just seconds. You can grab that at MoneyPit.com/Ask. MoneyPit.com/Ask.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’d like to step up the look of your home’s exterior, a good lighting design can definitely help. So we’re going to share some tips on what you need to know to get that project done.
LESLIE: And the spaces under your deck, they can be dirty, dark. It’s totally like a wasteland. But if your deck is a second-story, there are lots of ways that you can add an under-deck ceiling that’s going to drain the rainwater passing through and really clean up the look below. We’re going to explain in just a bit.
TOM: And if you live in an old house, finding out when your house was built and who lived there and what changes happened over the years can definitely be a fun and fascinating journey. So we’re going to share some tips on how you can do just that.
LESLIE: And spring is almost here, which is super exciting. I’m so excited for the warmer weather and the chance to hang out outside again and really just relax. So, give us a call, let us know what you are working on to get those outdoor spaces in tip-top shape, to get your homes ready for the warmer weather. Whatever you’re doing, we can help.
And we’re giving away a set of great tools from Arrow today to one listener who connects with us to ask a question. We’ve got America’s bestselling staple gun, the T50 and its sidekick, the T50X, to give away. And those are prizes worth 65 bucks.
TOM: And if you want to get your questions answered first, just go to MoneyPit.com/Ask and download The Money Pit app. Or you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Dreama in West Virginia is on the line and could be dealing with a structural issue.
Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
DREAMA: Yes. I purchased a house about 13 years ago and the house is approximately 30 years old. And all of a sudden, last year, in the load-bearing center wall, I started getting a crack. And now, within a year, that crack has gapped approximately a ½-inch wide and it’s also – I noticed another room has a crack now. So I had a local handyman look at it and he suggested that I put in three piers – columns – to support the center wall.
And I guess my question is – I haven’t had an official, large construction company look at it yet. I’m getting ready to do that but I wanted to educate myself a little bit more. What would you all suggest?
TOM: How long have you been in this house?
DREAMA: Thirteen years.
LESLIE: And this is new.
DREAMA: Just started about a year ago.
TOM: See, here’s the thing. If you call a contractor, you’re going to get a contractor’s solution, which is to hire them to do something. What I would suggest you do first is to get an independent expert opinion, not necessarily an opinion from a contractor. So your options on that are two: one is low cost; one, I would say, is moderate cost.
The low-cost option would be to find a local professional home inspector. You can go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org.
TOM: And you can put in your zip code. They’ll shoot back a list of certified professional home inspectors in your area. You can call from that list, find somebody that’s experienced and have them look at it. Because they’re just there to find out what’s going on and what caused it and what it’s going to take to fix it.
The second way to go, which is the moderate cost, is to actually hire a structural engineer. Now, why may you want to do that, Dreama? Well, you might want to do that – if this is a fairly obvious problem, you want to certainly preserve the value of your house.
TOM: And if you have a structural engineer look at it and write a report as to what’s going on and what it’s going to take to fix it – and then you actually give that report to a contractor and say, “This is what I want you to do,” and then you have the engineer sort of recertify that it was done correctly. It’s kind of like having a pedigree that the repair is done correctly and then kind of sell with your house, so to speak.
Problem with contractors is that they’re not structural engineers; they’re just handy guys and they think that they have the expertise to fix stuff like this and they just don’t. They don’t have the schooling, they don’t have the education, they don’t have the training. And so, that’s not necessarily the best way to go about dealing with a situation like this.
I am a little concerned that it happened over this past year, because it sounds like it’s active and we want to get to the bottom of why it’s active and why it’s showing up all of a sudden.
DREAMA: Well, someone had mentioned that it’s a possibility – we’ve had a lot of dry – several dry summers and – because that could cause a settling in the foundation. Is that possible? I’ve never heard of that before.
TOM: No. I mean there are some expansive soils that behave differently when they dry out a lot but listen, there’s going to be a lot of opinions. Every neighbor you ask is going to have a different one. What we’re trying to do is move you towards an expert opinion so you really know what you’re dealing with.
So, as I said, contact a professional home inspector or a structural engineer. Get the assessment. It’s well worth it. Your home is a big investment. We want to make sure it’s protected, OK?
DREAMA: I hadn’t thought of a home inspector. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Dreama. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Robert in North Carolina is on the line and is dealing with a dryer that – guess what? – just is not drying. That’s the worst.
Tell us what’s going on.
ROBERT: Well, I’ve got a dryer; it’s about 5 or 6 years old. And here, lately, for about the past 6 or 8 months, it’s taken sometimes 3 cycles to dry a medium-to-large size load of clothes.
TOM: Oh, that makes no sense.
ROBERT: Yeah. And the heating element was replaced maybe a year-and-a-half, 2 years ago. We just don’t know what’s going on with it.
TOM: Do you get good airflow when the dryer runs, where it’s pushing warm air out the exhaust duct?
ROBERT: Yeah. I went up to the roof one time when it was running and it was coming out of there fairly decent and the air was warm.
TOM: You just may have uncovered one problem. When you take a dryer vent and you push it up against gravity – and so it’s driving all the way up to the roof from, I presume, the second floor – a dryer is not really designed to do that. And I know that a lot of times, folks install them that way but trying to force that hot air to go up all of that distance to the roof can sometimes be problematic.
Look, if your dryer’s not heating properly, there’s only a few things that could be causing that. One is the heating element. So, let’s presume that this is working correctly, although it certainly seems – sounds like it’s not. There could be multiple heating elements and one could be burned out. This is a reason you feel some warm air.
The next thing is the ductwork and you want to make sure that that’s clean. Not only the external ductwork but even internally. Sometimes, if you get something stuck in the internal ductwork in the dryer, that can block some of the airflow itself.
TOM: And the other thing that can happen is sometimes it can overheat and then cycle. So, if it’s overheating, what’ll happen is it’ll get really hot and then it’ll overheat and the heating element will go off. And then it’ll cool down and then it’ll come on again, it’ll get really hot and it’ll go off. And that kind of cycling of a thermostat can be a problem, as well.
At this point, it sounds to me like you’ve done almost everything that you can do on your own. You might want to either replace it or get it serviced.
How old is the dryer?
ROBERT: Probably no more than 6 years.
TOM: Yeah, well, you know, 6 to 8 years is not a terribly short period of time for a dryer. So, you might want to think about replacing it or getting a pro to fix it. Because I think it’s probably one of those three things that’s causing the issue.
ROBERT: Yeah. And another thing, it’s got about between 20, 25 feet of – it has the corrugated duct. And we were thinking about changing that to the smooth, stovepipe kind of duct. Would that help, also?
TOM: Where is this 20, 25 feet? You mean from the discharge port all the way up to the attic where it discharges?
TOM: That’s a long way and certainly, a solid metal duct is going to be better. Can you go up into the attic and then go sort of across the attic floor and down towards the soffit and install a vent right there?
ROBERT: It’s possible. It’s just a single-story house, so I’m sure I could do that. But the laundry room is in the middle of the house.
TOM: I’ve got to tell you, even if you had that venting perfectly, three – running this thing for three loads to dry one load of clothes sounds like it’s something else and not necessarily totally venting.
ROBERT: OK. Yeah, we were thinking about – just don’t think it’s worth it to call somebody out there to fix it. We’ve got – we found a fairly decent dryer. We know somebody that runs a childcare center and uses the one we’re thinking about getting. And they run it 5, 6 times a day and they’ve had theirs for 3 years.
TOM: I think that makes sense. Unfortunately, these products today are almost disposable because the cost of repair is so high. I will give you one other suggestion. There’s a website called RepairClinic.com that’s pretty good at helping you identify problems with appliances and then selling you the parts you need to fix it.
So, you may want to take a look at that. They have a little tool there where you can put in your model number and it’ll walk you through the scenarios. And who knows? It might be a common problem with that particular model.
Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, have you guys got a project you’d like to tackle? We’ve got some tools to give away that could help. From Arrow Fastener, we’ve got the T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and the T50X TacMate Staple Gun.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, the T50 is America’s bestselling staple gun. Now, both are very well-built. They’re durable tools. They will stand up to dozens and dozens and years and years of DIY Projects and pro projects, too.
Now, it’s a set of Arrow T50s, along with a supply of staples. It’s worth about $65 and it’s going out to one listener who’s drawn at random.
TOM: If you’d like a shot to win it, you’ve got to reach out to us with your questions. You can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions at MoneyPit.com/Ask by downloading The Money Pit app.
LESLIE: Betty in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BETTY: We live in a ranch-style home and we have several bedrooms and bathrooms where the door frames – up above the door frames on just one side – are cracking. And we have repeatedly had contract workers out here to repair them and it has not held.
TOM: You feel like it’s Groundhog Day? You’re fixing the same thing over and over again?
Yeah, it’s pretty common. Around the door frame and around windows, those are the weakest portions of the wall. So if you have some movement from a normal expansion and contraction, that’s where it’s going to show. Typically, what happens is you’ll have a painter or a handyman come out and they’ll spackle the crack and paint it and it seems to go away for a while. But of course, as soon as the wall moves again, it shows up.
What you really have to do here is sand down the area around the crack.
TOM: And then you have to cover it with a perforated spackle tape. And that usually looks like netting and it’s a little sticky. You put it across the crack and then you spackle over the tape. And that does a permanent repair, because it actually sort of melds one side of the wall with the other and it should not separate again the next time the wall moves.
BETTY: OK. Well, that sounds wonderful. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joe in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOE: I have a single-story house that’s got hot water. I’ve got a boiler with a hot-water heat baseboard. And about 8 years ago, I had air – central air conditioning installed.
JOE: And when they did all that, they ran all the trunk lines up in the attic, put all my registers in the ceiling.
TOM: Yep. Mm-hmm.
JOE: And now the problem I have is during wintertime, I’m getting condensation. I’ll go around and shut those registers off but it’s not 100-percent shut-off on those registers, of course. And I’m getting condensation that’s forming up in my trunk line and I’m getting condensation dripping out of my registers, which – I’m starting to get some water stains on my ceiling, around my registers, from this.
TOM: Alright. So you have an energy problem. The problem is that those registers are so cold that when the warm, moist air from the house strikes them, it condenses. And so, you need additional insulation in the space above that. You may need to insulate in or around those ducts. You may need to wrap those ducts with additional insulation. You need to keep those ducts warmer and frankly, the bigger problem is one that you can’t see. If it’s that cold at your ceiling, you’re probably losing a lot of heat through that ceiling. So, I would get up in that attic space and take a look.
In your part of the country, having 15 to 20 inches of insulation is not unheard of and it is certainly a good idea.
JOE: Well, basically, I know when they put it in there, they laid those trunk lines right on top. I’ve got like 20 inches of blown fiberglass and they laid those trunk lines. I need to peel that fiberglass back, bury those trunk lines and insulate all around that real good.
TOM: I think that would make a lot of sense.
JOE: Sounds good, then.
TOM: Alright, Joe. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to step up the look of your home’s exterior, a good lighting design can help. Now, lighting not only adds safety and security but style if you do it well. We’ve got some ideas, in today’s Pro Project presented by Angi.
Now, here’s what you’re going to need to consider. So, budget. How much do you want to spend? Because exterior lighting, that cost can range from a little to quite a lot. And adding a lightscape to a home where you plan to be for only a few years will merit a different level of exterior-lighting investment than a longer-term home that you’re staying in. But even for bigger lighting plans, this is one improvement that you can easily spread over a number of years, doing one type of project or one side of the house or one area at a time, for sure.
TOM: I can’t begin to tell you guys how many bad lighting systems I’ve seen that probably started out looking great. And within a year, they’re looking like hell. Half the lights are broken, they’re missing. And that’s because the quality of the fixture. It really makes sense to invest in good-quality fixtures and components so that it lasts a long time. Low voltage is definitely the way to go but you need to work with good materials, like copper and brass. There are a lot of cheap landscape lights out there and many rarely last more than a season or two.
So you’re always better off buying good-quality fixtures and breaking your project up into smaller chunks to spread out the costs.
LESLIE: Now, you also want to think about creating mood and a focus area of your exterior spaces. And there’s a range of outdoor-lighting fixtures that make it possible to illuminate the home’s exterior as well as any Hollywood lighting designer out there. Good focus. I mean that really is the key. You want to pick things and you want to focus on them and you want to make it look beautifully designed.
So, for a front and a backyard, you want to carefully choose those focal points to receive the brightest and most dramatic spotlight. And then build the rest of that outdoor-lighting scheme around them.
Overall, you want to shoot for a natural look that’s going to replicate moonlight that’s softly streaming from above, as opposed to those heavy doses of uplighting. And if you do a nice mix, it’s going to look great.
TOM: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by Angi. Get your home projects done right with Angi. Download the Angi app today.
LESLIE: Cindy in Delaware is on the line with some plumbing odors.
Tell us what is going on, Cindy.
CINDY: I have dual sinks in the master bathroom.
CINDY: And every once in a while, I get a strong sewer smell.
CINDY: I don’t know what’s causing it. It doesn’t matter if I run the water or flush the toilet but the left bowl connects the – underneath, the pipe connects to the right one and it goes down into the – you know, under the house.
TOM: OK. Well, assuming that they were plumbed correctly – and that you, in fact, have a plumbing trap there, which I’m going to presume you are – the odor is probably the result of something called “biogas,” which is – basically happens when you get a lot of debris over the years. And it lines the inside of the pipe and it lines the inside of the connections, the drain and so on. And then that material will start to produce a pretty strong odor.
So what you need to do is take the drain apart and use a bottle brush to scrub the inside of it. You can’t just run something down there. You physically have to scrub it – those pipes – out. And that usually will eliminate that material and therefore, the odor.
CINDY: OK. OK. Because I had used – tried vinegar and baking soda.
TOM: Yeah, that’s all good stuff but if it’s really building up like that, you’re going to have to remove the scum, so to speak, that’s containing all that bacteria that’s producing the odor.
CINDY: OK. Alright. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’re going to help Bud in Oregon avoid a hair-raising electrical situation.
What’s going on, Bud?
BUD: I’ve got 3 banks of the 2 bulbs each, 4-foot-long mounted up in the ceiling, built into a box directly over my cooktop. And during the summertime, when the humidity is higher, if I get any moisture up there it can take sometimes days before those lights will come on reliably on the first flip of the switch.
Now, in the winter, when I’m burning a wood stove, which means I’ve got lower humidity inside the house, if I’m cooking on the cooktop and don’t turn the lights on before, I get the same problem. Except as soon as the moisture stops going up there and I’ve got 10, 15 minutes, then the lights will start coming back on regularly and be reliable again.
So, what I need to know from you, if you’ve got some suggestions, is before I get up there and start looking for how to do something, I want to know what I need to have in stock. Is there something – a lubricant, a cleanser or whatever – to do something with contacts or got any suggestions?
TOM: I would give up on those fixtures.
BUD: Yeah, I would, too. I think you’re right.
TOM: I would just give up on them. They don’t sound safe to me. I’m not quite sure what exactly is going wrong with them but they certainly shouldn’t be behaving that way. And I would worry about them getting worse and potentially causing a fire.
The cost of a 4-foot, dual-bulb fluorescent fixture is not very much today. And so I would simply take this on as a project and replace each and every one of them. I wouldn’t try to change the ballast out, I wouldn’t try to clean it, I wouldn’t try to do anything like that. I would just replace them. It’s just not worth it.
BUD: It’s not what I wanted to hear but it’s a good thing and it’s probably cheaper in the long run to spend the $8, $10 per what you – put up 3 brand-new ones.
BUD: OK. I’ll just look for a good time when I can do it without breaking my neck.
TOM: That’s always important. Bud, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, guys, the area under second-story decks can be a dark, wet wasteland. But installing an under-deck ceiling can make that area totally useful. And we’re going to tell you how, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
LESLIE: That’s right. With all the rainwater that leaks through those second-story decks, the area underneath can get pretty nasty. A lot of times, you’re going to find these spaces – well, they’re going to be damp, wet. You’ll see a lot of green-algae growth and a host of moisture-loving bugs. So it’s really not a place that you want to hang out in. Now, the solution is to build or to buy an under-deck ceiling.
If you’re handy, you can build your ceiling out of corrugated fiberglass panels. We’ve got a video, a materials list and step-by-step instructions on our website – that’s been downloaded over 20,000 times a month – that’s going to help you get that job done.
TOM: Now, the other option is to purchase a prefabricated under-deck ceiling system. This is going to cost you a bit more but the ceiling actually is going to be a lot easier to install. And it tends to look much more finished when you’re done.
Some of the more popular prefabricated systems are UnderDeck, there’s TimberTech, there’s the Trex RainEscapes or deck drain. They each now have their own sort of unique design but all in all, they’re a lot easier to install than starting from scratch.
And once that ceiling is done, you can give that under-deck space a good cleaning and start enjoying that shade on a warm summer day.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip, presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. Earn three-percent cash back on online shopping.
TOM: Apply today at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: Now we’re talking to Pauline in New Jersey who needs some help with a countertop.
How can we help you today?
PAULINE: I have a lot of counters in both bathrooms and the kitchen. And from the – I have backsplashes, as well. And where the backsplash and the counter meet, it’s coming up white and it looks like dry paste. And also, what’s happened over the last few years – at first, I took a little bit off here with my nail but now it’s getting really bad. And it’s – there were splash marks, as though when they put the counter in, they didn’t clean off the – so whatever they used. And it looks like you splashed something on that dried up.
And I don’t want to use anything that isn’t right for the granite and ruin it. So I was wondering if you had a suggestion that might be easy for me to use and get rid of this stuff.
TOM: How long have you had these countertops? When were they first installed?
PAULINE: Seven years ago.
TOM: And they’ve never been sealed since?
PAULINE: No, no.
TOM: Well, granite tops do take quite a bit of maintenance. People think that they’re fairly maintenance-free because they’re somewhat indestructive (ph). But they really do need a lot of care and they need to be resealed from time to time.
And it sounds to me like the white stuff that you’re describing is most likely mineral salt. And what happens is the countertops, when they lose their seal, they absorb more moisture. Then the moisture evaporates off and it leaves behind the mineral-salt deposits that’s in the water. And that forms that white sort of crust; it’s like a grayish-white crust.
Now, what are you using to clean them on a daily basis?
PAULINE: Generally, just water and a little – they told me to use the Windex.
TOM: Yeah, you can make a homemade granite cleaner with rubbing alcohol – standard rubbing alcohol – mixed with maybe a half-a-dozen drops of dishwasher detergent.
PAULINE: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Head to Pennsylvania where Mike has a question about a bathtub.
What can we help you with?
MIKE: I have an old, steel tub that’s actually rusting out. And had a few quotes on having it refinished versus – you know, there’s companies out there that’ll put vinyl inserts and all. Or is it better just to have it ripped out and put a brand-new tub in?
TOM: I would vote for having it ripped out and putting in a brand-new tub, because I don’t think that you’re going to be able to refinish it and be happy with that. Most of the refinishing – if it’s done professionally, it can be OK. But man, I’ll tell you what, it’s an awfully big project, it’s a very messy project. They have to use some pretty coarse chemicals to prep that tub and get it ready for the new finish. And then the new finishes are certainly not going to last as long as the original finish.
So I think it’s probably a good option for either a new tub or you could do sort of a tub insert. There are companies out there that make inserts that fit inside the existing tub. Priced, not so coincidentally, just slightly less than tearing out the tub and starting from scratch.
LESLIE: Right. But it’s done in a day.
MIKE: Alright. I just – I appreciate that. Thanks for your time.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you live in an old house, finding out when your house was built, who lived there and what changes happened over the years, it can be fun. I mean it’s always great to learn a lot of stuff about the place you’re going to live in.
Now, the first place to start is to identify the era in which the structure of the house was built. You can do that with the help of an easy Google search on architectural styles. And most homeowners can kind of figure out a core style by examining the silhouette of the house, its layout, as well as the style of the windows, doors and other architectural features.
TOM: There’s also a lot of records out there that will kind of give you a guesstimate on when it was built. You can go to town records. In the 1900s is when owners had to start getting building permits for things like alterations or plumbing, so you can get the names of previous owners and see what was done back then.
You can also check county archives and state preservation trusts and local city or town historical societies. Because they often have catalogues of municipal information, including maps and archives of local newspapers and the genealogical info that can tell you, actually, a lot about the people who did live in your home. And there could also be some, what I call, the hidden chapters in the history of your house. Because contractors will frequently find an old wall, a few stairsteps or some other vestige of its prior self during renovations. So you always need to be on the lookout for that.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s super cool when you do find that stuff. I remember when we took off the siding, we found a whole different entrance underneath.
Now, next, you kind of want to observe your neighborhood. And while we rarely think of old neighborhoods as developments, you kind of have to remember that they were. Just like housing developments that too often fill up former farmlands today, those streets were just as vacant at one time. So by looking at the houses in your neighborhood, scoping out similar structures, you really might be able to get a better scope of the original blueprint.
TOM: Now, finally, a lot of construction details can help you sort of rough-date a house. For example, if you look just at the nails, if the nails are cut nails – which you might think of today as masonry nails but they were cut out of sheets of steel, as opposed to extruded – that basically means you’re talking late-1800s to the early-1900s. You can look at paint colors and moldings. Before the 20th century, all of these had styles that were very particular to certain eras.
And another one that’s kind of fun is plumbing fixtures. You know, a lot of folks don’t know this but the date the plumbing fixtures were made is usually stamped into the fixture somewhere. If you still have an old steel sink somewhere in your house, I can almost guarantee you that if you get on your hands and knees and look underneath that thing with a strong flashlight, you will find a date that was cast into that sink. And in more modern years, you could lift up the lid on a toilet and find out the date it was manufactured. So you can assume it was put in pretty much right after that.
In fact, we’ve got a complete list of building materials and methods by age on our website, in a post called “Home Repair Tips by Age of House.” “Home Repair Tips by Age of House.” It is on the home page at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to Missouri where Tammy is having issues with her new furnace.
What’s going on? Let’s talk you through this.
TAMMY: Oh, I replaced the furnace here before the beginning of winter. And since then, I’ve had a buzzing noise in my breaker box every time it kicks on. I would like to say that the furnace that I replaced was about up to my knees. And the newer furnace is about chest high. Would that have something to do with the pulling of the amps or …?
TOM: Well, the size of the – physical size of the unit may or may not be related to this. It’s more like how much power is it pulling and how is it wired into the breaker box? But if you’re getting a vibration in the breaker box itself, that’s not a good sign. The breaker could be deteriorating internally and what you’re hearing are the early stages of that or perhaps the advanced stages of that. I don’t know.
I would tell you that if you’ve got that kind of a signal, I would definitely have it checked out by an electrician. Open that panel up, have him pull out those breakers, look behind them. Make sure they’re – it’s sized properly. Make sure nothing is over-fused, for example, where the wrong size fuse is being used on a wire and therefore not protecting it from overheating.
It’s definitely not a good sign and shouldn’t be happening. And you need to get it checked out further, OK, Tammy?
TAMMY: Alright. Thank you.
LESLIE: Stephanie writes in. She’s got a question about a metal roof. Now, she says, “I’d like to get a metal roof to eliminate ice dams. They’re expensive, so I’m wondering if it’s worth it.”
TOM: Metal roofs are a great investment. But it really comes down to how long you’re going to live in that house. Because a metal roof is pretty much a lifetime roof. It doesn’t really wear out. So, if this is a house you’re going to be in for a very short period of time, like 5 to 10 years, you are probably not going to get the life out of that roof that you paid for. But if this is like the house that you’re going to be in until they roll you out of it, then maybe it makes sense for it.
They’re beautiful and the technology has changed also so that they can actually reflect some of the heat in the summer, keeping the place cooler. But it really depends on how long you’re going to be there to enjoy it.
LESLIE: I mean I really think so. And its dependent on whether or not you like the look of it.
Now, for the ice damming, Tom, that’s still a matter of the underlayment, regardless of the roofing material, correct?
TOM: Yeah. Very good point. You don’t need a metal roof to eliminate ice dams. What you need to do is to have ice-and-water shield under whichever roof you end up putting in. And that could be an asphalt-shingle roof, which is a lot less expensive. Ice-and-water shield goes from the roof edge, up about 3 feet, because that’s where those ice dams form.
And also, if you have proper ventilation in your attic, you’re going to reduce the propensity for ice dams, as well. But you do not need a metal roof to prevent ice dams. It doesn’t really matter if it’s metal or asphalt. You’re still going to get ice dams if the roof is not built right.
LESLIE: Alright. Steph, hope that helps you out.
Now we’ve got Charlene who’s cracking up in Indiana. She says, “I have a decent-sized crack in the sheetrock corner of my dining room. I spackled it last spring but it came back a few months later. What is the best way to fix this for good?”
TOM: Well, you’ve got to remember that walls are always moving. They’re always expanding and contracting. So simply spackling something is not going to do it.
There is a product out – if you’ve got one like this that’s really kind of bugging you, there’s a product out from Abatron called KRACK KOTE – K-R-A-C-K KOTE. And it’s a patch system for cracks. But one thing that’s different about it is it actually comes with sort of an adhesive, where you adhere a tape to that crack that covers both sides of it and seals it really, really well. And then you spackle over that with these KRACK KOTE products that come in the box. It’s kind of a kit; it’s all together. So, I think that that’s a really good option for a crack in a corner like that, where you’re always getting that movement.
If you want to do it another way and you can’t get this product, what you could do is lightly sand that crack, both sides of it. Use a perforated tape. It’s usually a fiberglass-mesh tape. And then you put three coats of spackle over that very, very thin, one at a time. Don’t put a lot on. You want to build it up over time because it’s a little tricky to get it smooth. And then once you’re done, you’ve got to prime it because you’re going to have a lot of new spackle there that’s dried. And then you can paint the room and it’ll all blend in. And hopefully, you won’t see it again.
LESLIE: Alright, Charlene. I hope that helps you out. Now, when you’re stuck on what color to paint the room, give us a call. We’ll help you with that. I know it’s hard.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on this – pretty much the first week of spring is about to roll out. So that means it’s time to get to work. You get to go outside, you get to tackle those deck projects, those patio projects, maybe plan some painting projects. Anything you do outside, escaping the inside after all the months we’ve spent there, is a wonderful way to spend a weekend. And we will be here to help you every step of the way.
Remember, you can reach out to us by downloading The Money Pit app at MoneyPit.com/Ask or call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
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.)