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Burgular Proof Your Home, Extending Use Of Your Yard And Patio Into Autumn And Winter, And The Trick To Preventing Falls On Walkways, Driveways And Concrete Stairs

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: What are you doing in your money pit today? We’d love to hear about it. We’ll help you take on your home improvement, your home décor projects. But help yourself, first, by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour on the program, we’re going to start by talking about summer. It’s a peak vacation season but unfortunately, it’s also a peak season for break-ins. We’ll have some tips on what burglars look for when they case houses and how to make sure your home does not get on that target list.

    LESLIE: And do you start getting the blues once the weather begins to turn cold? Well, you can keep your spirits up by spending even more time outside though the weather is chilly. We’re going to share with you some budget-friendly ideas to keep your yard warm.

    TOM: And have you ever tripped on concrete, perhaps a driveway or a walkway? Maybe there was a bit of a slippery spot? Well, there’s a new treatment that can protect you and loved ones from those falls. We’ll tell you about it.

    LESLIE: And do you hate spending your hard-earned money on cleaning products? Well, call us with your home improvement question and you could take home a prize pack of CLR cleaning products for absolutely free.

    TOM: That’s right. And whether you’re the winner or not, you can get something for free, too: your cleaning-personality type.

    Now, whether you clean when you get stressed or you prefer to avoid it altogether, there are different types of personalities associated with cleaning. And the folks over at CLR have figured that out and it’s all online at Facebook.com/CLRCleaners. If you go there, you could take the cleaning-personality quiz. It’s really fun. And then they’ll give you some tips on how to make your cleaning much more efficient, regardless of what type of cleaner you are.

    LESLIE: Alright. Give us a call right now. Let’s get started with the program. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Jim in Oregon is on the line with a driveway question. How can we help you today?

    JIM: It’s a brand-new home. I lived in it less than about three months. A strange odor started coming through in the master bedroom that can’t be detected. We had plumbers come in to check the sewage system. They did a smoke test on it. Couldn’t find that. We just don’t know what the problem is. It’s really an odd odor.

    TOM: How would you describe the odor?

    JIM: It’s a cross between garbage and sewage smell.

    TOM: Has anyone ever suggested biogas as the source of this?

    JIM: No one ever suggested that.

    TOM: Alright. So, this is a – I’m speculating here, alright? Now I realize that they’ve done all these tests and so on but sometimes, you get bacteria that deteriorates in the traps of sinks and toilets. And it can release a biogas, which has an absolutely terrible, terrible smell.

    One way to deal with that is to get a concentrated – like an oxygenated bleach solution mixed up and – like OxiClean or something like that – and then take a bottle brush and try to get that solution into the drain. Make sure you’re really scrubbing all the nooks and crannies of that drain and let it sit there for a bit. And if there’s any bacteria that’s forming there that could be contributing to this odor, that will eliminate it. So that’s one idea.

    The second potential cause for this is simply a dead rodent. We’ve seen in the past where the rodents get into the spaces in and under or in the wall or something like that. And then they decompose and you get that kind of odor. So I don’t have a lot of solutions for you on that but I would try the biogas solution first.

    And make sure you also get the overflow of the kitchen, of the – sorry – of the bathroom sink. That overflow channel? By letting the water run up, it’ll block the drain until it hits the overflow? Because if you have any of that bacteria in the overflow channel, that can contribute to it, as well.

    JIM: OK. Did you ever find this in a new home before?

    TOM: Yeah, I mean it can happen pretty quickly.

    JIM: Oh really? Hmm.

    TOM: Even though it’s a new home, it’s been under construction for some period of time and so, it could have preexisted.

    JIM: Well, I’ll definitely give it all a try.

    TOM: Give it a shot. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Lauren in Florida is on the line with a lead-paint question. How can we help you today?

    LAUREN: Hi. My husband and I are remodeling a 1907 home that’s been vacant for multiple years, so there’s lots of damage. A lot of the paint is chipping off the windows. There is – on the beadboard and wainscoting, a lot of the paint’s chipping off. And someone has gone in and put sheetrock mud to texture over the original plaster walls, so some of that’s chipping off. And we’ve got three young children, so we need to repaint this house and fix it but we’re really concerned about the lead-paint issue.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Understandably so. And your house is in the timeframe where you do need to be concerned about lead paint.

    Now, we had an issue when we put central air conditioning in the house when my son was six months old? You know, when he was little, I didn’t think that – any concern. And they did a great job. They were very tidy; they contained all the dust. But something must have gotten on something and when we had gone for his next exam, he had elevated lead levels probably from some dust getting on a toy and then the toy going in his mouth, anything. Anyway, it turned out, after we did the next blood work, his levels went back to normal. So we were really not concerned at that point. But it is a very scary issue.

    Now, I’m not sure, nationwide, what the rules are – and maybe Tom can speak better on this – but in New York, when you are fairly certain that you’ve got lead paint or the timeframe sort of dates it that way, you have to work with a painter or a contractor who’s certified in sort of lead-paint containment, if you will. Because even if you have it on a window frame and you’re opening and closing that window, you’re creating little specks of lead dust that are getting into the air. And with small children, you do need to be concerned.

    So you do need to make sure that, if you can, that this is done by a pro. There’s nothing that regulates when a homeowner does it themselves. But knowing that you probably have lead paint and with small children in the home, I would just have a pro do it. And you want to make sure that things are taped off and really sealed up and cleaned very thoroughly. There are specific rules, I know, in New York State that allow for a contractor to be certified. And that’s something you really want to look for.

    TOM: Yeah. And especially because the paint is flaking in deteriorated condition right now, that’s the highest risk for this, Lauren. So you’re wise to proceed very cautiously and make sure that the contractor that you’re working with is certified as a lead professional.

    LAUREN: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Lauren. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question. Whatever you are working on as the summer is wrapping up, let’s help you finish those projects before it starts to snow. That’s right. I said it. It’s coming. It’s a few weeks from now, so get those projects done. We’re here to lend you a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you want to keep your home safe while you’re on vacation this summer? Do you have too many dark corners and shadowy spots for burglars to hide? Well, we’re going to teach you how to eliminate those from around your house and cut down the chance that your home will be a target for thieves, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is sponsored by Pella Windows and Doors. Pella products with Insynctive technology can connect with compatible home automation systems so they can be programmed to help keep your home in sync with you. Learn more at Pella.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And if you give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question plus a chance to win a $50 prize pack of CLR cleaning products.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You’re going to love the CLR Barbecue Grill Cleaner. It’s perfect for this time of year, because I know that my grill starts to get super grimy right about now. It’s going to cut through all that baked-on food and grease and just yuck, giving you a nice, clean grill for those final burgers and hotdogs of the season. And I know a lot of you grill all through the winter, so let’s keep it clean.

    TOM: And you could use those CLR cleaning products to clean your house better and faster with CLR’s cleaning-personality quiz. It pinpoints your habits and gives you custom cleaning tips and advice. You could take that quiz, online, at Facebook.com/CLRCleaners.

    LESLIE: James in Virginia is on the line with a ceiling-fan question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    JAMES: I live in a 1986 2-story ranch and we do not have overhead lighting in any of the bedrooms and there’s no lighting fixtures. And we want to add ceiling fans, so I was wondering how difficult it would be to do that in the bedrooms.

    TOM: It’s not terribly difficult but it’s not terribly easy either. I would say that it would be very easy for an electrician to do that because they have the tools necessary to get the wiring where it needs to go. It’s kind of hard for a DIYer to do that.

    And the other important thing about a ceiling fan is you need to make sure you use the right type of electrical connection in that ceiling so that you have some support on that fan. Because it gets very heavy and it also vibrates sometimes. So you need to have the right connection for the fan to the ceiling and of course, the wiring has to be in place.

    Now, electricians can fish wires through there. There’s a couple of tricks of the trade that they use. They have these sort of long, skinny fiberglass rods that can be run in the space between ceiling joists to run wires where they need to be. But what I would do is if you’re thinking about maybe doing this in a couple of rooms, I would sort of pile those jobs together. Because there’s sort of a mobilization cost when you hire a pro for a small project like that. And maybe try to get all of your electrical work done at the same time.

    Now, with a 1986 house, you might also want to find out if you’ve got ground-fault circuit interrupters protecting the bathroom and the kitchen outlets. That would be another easy thing to add to that to-do list that will protect you from shocks.

    JAMES: OK. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your help and I love your show. Listen to it all the time.

    TOM: Yeah. Good luck with that project and with all the work you’re doing to your new house. Call us back anytime, 888-666-3974

    Well, hey, are you taking a vacation this summer? Maybe one more trip away before the weather turns chilly? Well, one thing you don’t want to come home to is a burglary. Summer is a peak time for break-ins but with a few, easy steps that you can take before you go away, you will cut way down on the chances that burglars will target your home.

    LESLIE: Now, you’ve got to look at your house in the way that a burglar would. So I mean put on a little mask and an all-black outfit and start tip-toeing around the house.

    TOM: And explain that to the cops when they pull up.

    LESLIE: Right. “I was trying to think like a burglar. You know, a cartoon burglar.”

    But you’ve got to look at it that way. Are there places to hide? Do you have a brush cover that’s near your doors or windows? Because that’s the perfect spot to hide. So, first, you want to get rid of all of those hiding spots. Trim back your bushes, especially if you’ve got them near or under your doors or your windows, wherever. If they can sort of sneak around behind them, you’ve got to cut those back.

    Next, you want to use lighting to get rid of dark corners. Low-voltage lighting kits, they are widely available. They’re an easy weekend do-it-yourself project and they’re super affordable.

    TOM: And nothing turns off burglars like a good security system like SimpliSafe. It installs in just 30 minutes without wiring and drilling. Plus, there are no long-term contracts. And for less than 15 bucks a month, you can have it professionally monitored, 24/7, and it will protect your home and give you peace of mind.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you’re going to get all the components that you need to set up your system. It is completely wireless and there’s even options for smoke or CO detectors, so you will be covered on all bases in your house.

    Now, Tom and I, we love SimpliSafe so much that we’ve partnered with them to give you guys, our Money Pit fans, an exclusive 10-percent-off deal. If you want to grab your discount, you visit SimpliSafeMoney.com. You can learn more there. That’s S-i-m-p-l-i-S-a-f-e-Money.com.

    TOM: Try it risk-free for 60 days with a money-back guarantee. Again, visit SimpliSafeMoney.com – S-i-m-p-l-i-S-a-f-e-Money.com.

    LESLIE: Heidi in Oregon is dealing with a stinky shower. What’s going on?

    HEIDI: We have a two-story house. The one shower is in the basement downstairs. It’s a daylight basement but it’s built back into the side hill. And what I’ve noticed is that after showering, you leave the bathroom and you come back in and there is this sour-towel smell. It’s not a sewer smell or a septic smell but it smells like a towel that has been left damp somewhere and it’s just been left to kind of mold or do whatever. But I’ve changed the towels and I come back in the bathroom and I’ve located the smell with my nose and gone right down to the drain. And it’s coming out of the drain in the shower.

    TOM: What this might be is something called “biogas.” And when the water drains and it takes with it the soap scum and everything else, you can get germs that are going to grow in that. And that biological material off-gasses and can make horrible smells. So …

    HEIDI: Well, that’s what we thought, too, because it’s in both showers: upstairs and downstairs. And we only smell it, obviously, after someone has showered and it was wet. So we’ve taken the grates off, we’ve cleaned with a bottle brush. I look with a flashlight down there and those pipes are – they’re spic-and-span clean all the way down to the P-trap.

    TOM: Have you used any kind of an oxygenated bleach down those traps?

    HEIDI: No, we don’t do that because we’re on a septic tank and we don’t want to kill all the good bacteria in the septic. And so I’ve been afraid to use anything.

    I’ve tried vinegar. I’ve used Lysol spray.

    TOM: Well, not so much vinegar, yeah. Well, OK, why don’t you use Borax?

    HEIDI: Borax. OK. And pour it down into the drain? Because …

    TOM: Well, no, what I want you to do is I want you to get a solution of hot, soapy water with Borax in it. And I want you to scrub the inside of that drain, all the different parts, with a big, thick bottle brush. Get as much of that trap cleaned as you can and see if that reduces it.

    And by the way, do you have ventilation in those bathrooms?

    HEIDI: Yeah. There’s windows, uh-huh.

    TOM: Do you have fans that you could leave on after? Bath fans?

    HEIDI: Yes, yes. And we always turn the fan on when we shower.

    LESLIE: And keep it on when you’re done?

    HEIDI: Well, no. We usually shut it off when we’re done.

    TOM: So, yeah, that’s another thing I would change. That behavior I would change. What I would do is I would replace the bath-fan switch with one that’s on a timer or a humidistat. So that after you are done showering and leave the bathroom, it stays on for another 15 or 20 minutes.

    HEIDI: But we’ll go ahead and try that, then, and see what happens.

    LESLIE: Kyle in Iowa needs some help installing some trim. Tell us what you’re working on.

    KYLE: We just put in some new Willamette wood floors a couple weeks ago and we decided to rip out all the old – you know, the construction trim that comes with the newer homes and …

    TOM: Baseboard molding?

    KYLE: Yeah, the baseboard molding. And we’ve decided to upgrade to – I think it’s about a 5¼-inch tall, almost ½-inch-thick baseboard, to kind of upgrade the look around the house.

    And I’m just having a hard time. I’m using my buddy’s miter saw and it’s not tall enough to do a vertical cut for my outside corners. And every time I lay it horizontally and try to tilt the miter saw to cut it, there’s no real clamping mechanism on it to hold the boards in place. And every time I push the miter saw into it, it moves it just slight enough to where my angles for when I try to do a scarfing or an outside corner – it just kind of pushes my angles off on it just a little bit and it’s making the process harder.

    TOM: Well, let me ask you this: when you’re making your baseboard cuts for an inside corner, are you mitering it?

    KYLE: For the inside corner, I’m doing a cope.

    TOM: Oh, good. OK. That’s what I was concerned about.

    KYLE: And the coping turns out to be easier than the outside corners for me, so …

    TOM: Now, actually, when you do the outside corner, the only part of the miter that’s got to be perfect is the top edge of that board. As long as you have a straight line, if you end up taking up a little bit too much wood on the inside of that cut, nobody is ever going to see that. In fact, many times, when I’m doing that type of a corner, I’ll sometimes cope out the back of the miter cut, take a little bit extra meat out of that so that it kind of gets out of the way and I can pull it together really nicely, tightly at the corner. As long as I have a crisp line that pulls together on the corner, then I’m happy with that.

    I understand you’ve got challenges with your tools. I’m not going to be able to give you a solution, because you don’t have the right tools. What you really need is a compound miter saw that’s sort of half miter saw, half radial-arm saw. And that will give you the exact capabilities that you’re looking for. But to do this by hand with a regular hand-miter box is just going to be a challenge.

    KYLE: So, it’d be easier maybe to try to find someone to borrow a compound one from?

    TOM: I think so. Yep. Yeah, you’ll be very happy. Because it sounds like you’ve got the skills. If you know how to cope a joint, then you’ve got the skills.

    And for those that have no idea what we’re talking about, when you put up baseboard molding or any kind of molding or even crown molding in a house, you don’t cut a 45-degree angle much like you would for a picture frame. You actually put one piece in whole and square it to the wall and the other piece, you cut that 45 as if it was going to be a miter but you take a coping saw and cut out the back of all of that wood, except for that crisp line that’s on the front of the angle of the miter. When you push that together, you get what appears to be a perfect, mitered cut but it’s actually not; it’s actually a butt joint but it looks like a miter.

    And it’s the best way to work with trim because it allows you to work with a house that’s not quite straight, because none of them are. And the other trick is I like to cut those boards just a little bit longer than what you need, because then it puts additional pressure on the joint and brings it together nice and tightly.

    So I think you’re on the right road. You just need to get some better tools to help you get there, OK?

    KYLE: OK. Thank you, guys.

    TOM: Good luck, Kyle.

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

    Up next, don’t let that cooler weather send you inside for good. With a few, small changes, you can use your outdoor space well into the fall. We’re going to share some details when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Haier, the world’s number-one appliance brand and a leader in air-quality solutions. Haier is a new kind of appliance brand, focused on home solutions designed for each stage of the emerging consumer’s life.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, if you love using your outdoor space all spring and summer long, wouldn’t it be great to extend that use into fall? Well, you can with a do-it-yourself fire-pit kit from RumbleStone by Pavestone.

    LESLIE: And here to tell us more about that project is Ryan King.

    Welcome, Ryan.

    RYAN: Hey, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.

    TOM: So, Ryan, this is a really interesting project, because you don’t think of a fire pit as being sort of a do-it-yourself kit-type thing. But you guys have taken all the essential components and packaged it. Do you think this is going to make it possible for a lot more folks to have fire pits?

    RYAN: You know what? I think it really is. The way that the Pavestone RumbleStone System has been designed, it creates the ultimate simplicity for both your average do-it-yourselfer and your contractor. The product has been designed in a way that it’s a simple step-by-step guide. You can basically take the RumbleStone piece by piece, follow the instructions and it ultimately creates both a great fire pit, outdoor fireplace and ultimate improvement to that outdoor-living design.

    TOM: And one of the things I like about it is that, typically, you use mortar to stack masonry bricks together. But you say that you could just use a construction adhesive to hold these in place. Is that right?

    RYAN: That’s correct. So, this piece from RumbleStone line is extremely simple, to the point that rather than stacking blocks, mixing up your mortar, laying it down and then using that in between your courses, all you’re doing is you’re basically taking your RumbleStone, you’re adding a course of QUIKRETE Construction Adhesive and then you’re applying that next block on top of it. So, extremely easy, great for both a do-it-yourselfer and your contractor.

    LESLIE: Now, is it strictly for a stacking purpose or can you use it more for a flat paver patio, as well?

    RYAN: The RumbleStone is designed with both your paver pieces, as well as a wall design. So, with our pavers, we’ve got, really, three great products to use for that. It’s your Mini, you have your Square and your Rec. Those are applied and in addition to it, obviously, we’ve got our matching wall that complete that ultimate project.

    TOM: And besides the pavers, patios and the fire pits, you guys have the capability to build grill enclosures or a mailbox surround, as well, with the same product, correct?

    RYAN: That is correct. So, in addition to your pavers, your fire pits, you can do your benches, you can do barbecue enclosures. You can top-off that barbecue enclosure with a QUIKRETE countertop. Makes it for a great countertop, as well. We have all these different products that are – projects that are available on Pavestone.com. And it gives the step-by-step instructions and it’s extremely simple.

    We’ve got a variety of colors. Our three most popular are the RumbleStone Sierra Blend, the Café and then we’ve also got the RumbleStone Greystone available. And these are all available through HomeDepot.com, as well, so that’s a great opportunity to buy that – each of these colors – from anywhere in the country.

    TOM: Terrific. So, you can check it out at Pavestone.com. You can pick up the products at HomeDepot.com.

    Ryan King from RumbleStone, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. And I’ll tell you what, a fire pit sounds like a great project to plan right now. And you’ll have it all good to go by the time the weather turns chilly. Thanks, Ryan.

    RYAN: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Alright. Coming up, did you know that more than half of trips and falls happen right in your home? We’re going to have tips and a product that keeps that from happening to you, when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is sponsored by Pella Windows and Doors. Pella products with Insynctive technology can connect with compatible home automation systems so they can be programmed to help keep your home in sync with you. Learn more at Pella.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and you might just take home a prize pack of CLR cleaning products worth 50 bucks.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The CLR – Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover – is going to make a huge difference in your home. It’s going to get rid of all those ugly deposits that you see in your tub and your toilet bowls, your sink, even your appliances.

    TOM: And speaking of cleaning, the CLR cleaning-personality quiz can show you how to get it done way faster, leaving more time for the things you really want to do. You can take the quiz, online, at Facebook.com/CLRCleaners.

    LESLIE: Lynn in Missouri is on the line and needs some help with a handrail. How can we help you?

    LYNN: I’m trying to figure out the proper procedure to align and be able to cut the proper angle for the top rail and a bottom rail between two posts.

    TOM: OK. So, are the posts level? Are they straight?

    LYNN: Well, no, not exactly. See, what it is is we took the old, wooden stuff off and we’re replacing it with vinyl. And so, basically, some of the posts are kind of warped a little here, a little there.

    TOM: Alright. So, here’s the way you do this. If the posts were straight, it would be a lot easier because, essentially, what you would do is you would lay the railing on the stairs, put a level – vertical level – up against it and once it’s absolutely straight, use that to determine the cut line. Because that will be, essentially, a vertical cut.

    Now, if the posts are not level – they’re out of level – what I would do is I would take the railing and I would clamp it any way I could to the side of the posts, even if it’s a bit sloppy, just so it’s held approximately in the position that you want and against the side of the posts with some big – maybe wood Jorgensen clamps or bar clamps or something like that.

    And then you can scribe, from the post to the rail, with a pencil that exact cut. You know, you hold the pencil – say, a carpenter’s pencil – flat on the post and then you just basically drag it against the rail. And then add a little bit of extra space, maybe make it a ¼-inch bigger than that. Cut it, put it in place, see how the cut looks. You can adjust if you have to trim it a little bit – I presume you’re using a power miter box – and then you’ll kind of dial it in. But that’s the way to do it, OK?

    LYNN: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    Well, falls can happen anywhere but more than half of them happen right at home on your very own property. And if you do slip and go down at home, the last place you want it to happen is on concrete, because it hurts.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But that’s often exactly where homeowners go down. You’re strolling up your walkway or you’re walking up the steps, you’ve got shopping bags in your arm and the next thing you know, you’re on the floor.

    TOM: Well, now you can cut down on the chances of tumbling on your own turf with a treatment designed to prevent falls. It’s called QUIKRETE Textured Acrylic Concrete Coating. And it not only provides a non-slip finish for concrete surfaces, it also gives sort of a new look to finish off that old, dull concrete, as well.

    LESLIE: The textured, acrylic concrete coating, it’s a heavy-duty resin and it’s going to adhere perfectly to any concrete surface, from steps to sidewalks, patios and driveways. If your home has a handicap ramp, this is the perfect way to counter that tricky slope that can really throw you off balance, especially if you’re carrying something or if you’re pushing a wheelchair.

    TOM: You can pick it up at your local home center and learn more about that product at QUIKRETE.com. That’s Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.

    LESLIE: Amy from Iowa is on the line with a roofing project gone awry. What’s going on?

    AMY: We do. We do have a troublesome roof. About five years ago, we got a new roof installed on our house. We were having a leaking problem, some ice dams in the winter. And we got the whole roof replaced and since then, we continue to have a leak. The problem never got solved and we are stuck with this issue once again. So, we’re kind of stuck, at this point, wondering if we go back to the original contractor and try to get him to replace or fix the problem or if we go elsewhere and have somebody completely replace and redo the entire roof.

    TOM: Well, first of all, when it comes to the contractor, has the contractor come back since the roof installation to address this yet?

    AMY: Yes. In the past couple of years, we actually have contacted him and told him about the issue and that it never was fixed. He did send out his roofing guy – a subcontractor – and nothing ever got solved. They said, “Oh, it looks fine. We don’t think it’s really going to be an issue.” And then we have water pouring in our living room and buckets on the carpet, so …

    TOM: So they never did anything?

    AMY: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. Now, tell me about the roof configuration over the area where the leak is showing.

    AMY: Right. We have been told, after having all of these other professionals come out, that we have a very tricky roof. The design of the house, I guess, is not the greatest. Basically, a lot of dead valleys is what they told us. So we have dead valleys that – holding the water and creating these problems where the water is sitting and coming in, which is causing our leak inside of the house.

    TOM: So you say “dead valleys.” It means the water is getting trapped in the valley?

    AMY: Yes. So, basically, the roofline is coming to a point where it runs right into the siding.

    TOM: Oh, OK. So, basically, the roof drains towards the siding?

    AMY: Yes, that’s correct.

    TOM: Yeah. That’s a really tough spot. Hmm. OK. So, if that’s the case and it’s just not fixed, it’s just not working, I think most likely you have to not only take the roof off but probably some of the siding. Because what you have to have there is a special type of flexible flashing that will essentially seal the siding to the roof.

    You probably also would want to cover that entire area of the roof with ice-and-water shield, which is sort of a bit tacky and will give you that waterproof capability and also stop ice dams from coming up under the shingles. But Grace makes both ice-and-water-shield and some very flexible flashings. Grace is a terrific building-products manufacturer, so you could look up some of those.

    But I do think you’re probably going to have to redo that, especially if you have an area where water is running into it. That’s a really common place for a leak and frankly, this roofer that came out and looked it and said everything’s fine, he doesn’t know because he didn’t take anything apart. And if you’ve gotten leaks underneath that, it’s not so fine. So you certainly could take another run at the contractor but I suspect it’s going to have to be taken apart and rebuilt properly. That didn’t happen the first time.

    AMY: Right. So do you suggest going back to the original contractor?

    TOM: At least once.

    AMY: Yeah. If he’s willing to do any repairs, I mean honestly, I am hesitant to have any of his crew come out. He did tell us that the people that worked on our roof no longer work for him. But I still am very hesitant to have the same contractor come out and try to make repairs when we’ve had other reputable roofing companies come out and say it’s the worst installation job they’ve ever seen. So that makes me really nervous as a homeowner.

    TOM: Well, maybe in that situation, if you’re just not – if you’ve just completely lost confidence in the contractor, then maybe you should just accept the inevitable and have a more professional roofer come out and fix it right.

    AMY: OK. OK. Yeah, it’s – that’s a tough one.

    TOM: The problem is when you have that kind of a hidden leak like that, it’s really hard to do any kind of repair from the surface of the roof. It really is a matter where you have to take things apart and reassemble them, because making that roof waterproof starts underneath the shingles.

    AMY: Sure, sure. OK. Well, that makes sense. Yeah, it just wasn’t done right the first time. So, we’re stuck in the same spot, unfortunately.

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

    You know, there’s a wide range of skills that roofers have and the majority of the roofs that are replaced today don’t need a really, really skilled roofer to do. It’s kind of hard to screw it up, your standard sort of two-story Colonial or Cape. Those are pretty easy roofs to install.

    When you get an older house that’s got a lot of angles to a roof, that requires somebody who’s a real good technician: a real master roofer that can configure the flashing underneath the roof shingles and use the latest products to keep that leak-free. And when you get your average-quality roofer that looks at a place like that, they think they can do it and clearly they cannot do it. That’s like trying to install a flat roof. You’ve got to make sure it can hold water against gravity.

    LESLIE: Up next, whether your kids are heading back to campus or maybe even moving there for the first time, you want to make sure that the college student in your life has everything they need to stay safe. We’re going to share with you some last-minute items to pack for your student, when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by QUIKRETE. It’s what America is made of. For project help from start to finish, download the new QUIKRETE mobile app.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And home may be where the heart is but the kitchen is certainly one of its most vital organs. If you want to give yours a jump-start and maybe you don’t have a big budget, we’ve got a story that could help. It’s on MoneyPit.com, right now, called “Kitchen Remodeling on the Cheap.” It’s on the homepage at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: OK. And don’t forget to post your questions in the Community section so we can help you out, just like Natalie did who writes: “My Moen Brand faucet is leaking. I tried fixing it but couldn’t undo the plastic piece to reach the washer. Any special tools I should be using?”

    TOM: Well, your best bet is to review Moen’s online troubleshooting tips, which includes an extensive section for faucet repair. I’ve used it myself; it’s very, very helpful. But keep in mind that disassembling plumbing does require special tools that you just might not have, Natalie. And also be sure, if you’re going to replace a part, you use genuine parts that are made by the same manufacturer.

    And here’s why: generic faucet-replacement parts may look identical but there are very fine differences and they can cause big problems. I put some together myself that I thought were going to be perfect, turned it on and it leaked like crazy. So make sure you’re using actual Moen parts. And frankly, if you write them and ask them for the parts, I’ve had many of these manufacturers send them at no cost whatsoever.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to hear from John who says, “Last fall, we applied Behr DECKOVER to our deck after the winter. Now we’re noticing big patches flaking off, especially in high-traffic areas like the stairs.”

    TOM: Not good. Now the Behr DECKOVER is a special product, John, as you know. It’s four-times thicker than traditional stains but like any finish, prepping the surface really is key to making it stick. It sounds to me like your surface was not prepped properly. You are going to have to remove all that finish and kind of start from scratch once again. Wish we had better news for you but it’s just not going to stick unless the surface is properly prepped.

    LESLIE: Yeah. If you do it once, you do it right, you’re not going to have to do it again.

    TOM: Well, you’ve probably already packed the shower shoes, the sheets and the instant noodles. But before your student heads off to college, you want to make sure they have a few essentials that can keep them safe in threatening situations. Leslie has got some safety items to slip into those bags before they leave, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s the last thing that you really want to think about. I know. It’s scary but let’s be realistic. You know there’s going to be nighttime parties and you know there’s going to be college drinking and that can really lead to a share of on-campus incidents. So to keep your student safe, you want to make sure that they keep pepper spray and a whistle on their keychain, just in case an emergency happens they are prepared.

    While you’re at it, you might want to load up on a portable backup charger for cellphones and put it on the key ring, too. It’s going to provide extra phone juice just in case you find yourself in a dire situation.

    And most dorm rooms only have a few electrical outlets, so power strips are very common. But you want to make sure that the one you bring is also a surge protector. That’s going to protect your laptop, your TV and any other electronics from any sort of damage that might happen from a power surge and any interference or noise that occurs on the power line.

    And speaking of your laptop, electronic devices contain financial information and other personal material, so you have to remind your child to keep their information safe with a locking device. Now, it can be a physical lock or an electronic barrier but you’ve got to have one. Because there is a ton of information there and a laptop, as we all know, can just walk away.

    And finally, we know your kids might roll their eyes at you. You know, this one’s really putting it out there but think about sending them off with a spare smoke detector for their room. Because when it comes to your kid’s safety, redundancy rocks and we’ve had to far too many on-campus dorm fires that just resulted in tragedy. So just give them that extra little bit. I know. Take the eye-rolling. I can hear it from here.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up next week on the program, we’re going to talk about old windows. Now, they have their charm but they have their challenges, too, including an annoying tendency to get stuck. We’re going to teach you how to get yours free without damaging the panes or shattering some glass, on the 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 2015 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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