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Fall Back In Love With Your Home, Keep Ice Dams From Causing Damage, and Get a Leg Up on Spring Cleaning

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you tackle the improvements in your money pit. We’ve got one; we know you’ve got one. Take a look around your home. Even your apartment can be a money pit. If there’s a project that you’d like to get done to make that place a little more comfortable, perhaps some more energy-efficient, perhaps help you find some more room, some more space, give us a call; we’re here to help, 888-666-3974.

    Well, Valentine’s Day is coming up later this month. But if you feel like perhaps you’ve fallen out of love with your house, we’re going to help. We’ve got tips on how you can bring back that loving feeling with a few simple improvements for your money pit, coming up.

    LESLIE: And if you’d like to treat your sweetheart with a big, practical gift, now is the time to buy it. We’ve got all you need to know about picking up big-ticket items at the lowest prices you’ll see all year, coming up.

    TOM: And while it’s still cold out and you’re stuck in your house anyway, why not get started early on an organization project? No sense to wait until spring. You want to get outside when the spring hits, so we’ve got tips for getting started cleaning out the clutter, this hour.

    LESLIE: And speaking of cleaning and organizing, our prize this hour gives one caller a head start. We’re giving away two sets of decorative wall hooks from The Home Depot: a 14-inch wooden rail featuring 3 antiqued hooks and a set of 5 smaller hooks. So there is no reason why you shouldn’t be hanging up your jackets or whatever you want to organize, because we’re giving you the tools to do it.

    TOM: It’s a prize package worth $25. Going out to one lucky caller, so pick up the phone, give us a call right now; we’re here to help, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Michaeline in Wisconsin is on the line needing some help insulating a crawlspace. Tell us what’s going on.

    MICHAELINE: Well, I hung some plastic and insulation from the ceiling of the crawlspace and all the way around, you know? And I’m still getting drafts and air coming in into the bedroom that faces the north, by the wall.

    TOM: So you’re getting drafts up through the walls? Is that where you feel like it’s coming up?

    MICHAELINE: Yeah. And up through the crawlspace. There’s half a basement, half crawlspace.

    TOM: OK. Now, what kind of insulation did you use, Michaeline?

    MICHAELINE: Well, I used the black plastic and I used the R-stuff with the …

    TOM: The R-stuff. Let’s back up for a second, OK? The insulation that you put in, is it – was it unfaced insulation? Did you press it up into the floor joist, like nice and fluffy?

    MICHAELINE: No, I didn’t press it into the floor joist.

    TOM: How did you hang it?

    MICHAELINE: I went with what the Reader’s Digest said, to hang it from the ceiling of the floor, down to the flooring of the crawlspace and let it …

    TOM: So, where is the – the insulation that goes up in that floor should be unfaced: should have no paper face, no plastic face; it should be unfaced. And it should be big and fluffy and should be as thick as the crawlspace floor.

    But here’s the steps. And if you had called me before you started this, here is what I would have told you to do. First of all, I would say the area on the outside of your house, where we have what’s called the “box joist” – that’s the beam that goes around the outside perimeter.

    MICHAELINE: Right.

    TOM: In that area, you want to seal the gaps with an expandable foam, like GREAT STUFF or a product like that, so you …

    MICHAELINE: On the inside?

    TOM: On the inside, right. You seal that, you spray it. Because you get little gaps that – where air can come in around that. Then once that dries, it gets nice and hard. Don’t try to scrape it away or cut it; it doesn’t matter. Just spray it, let it dry, stop right there, don’t cut away the excess. Then, add some insulation and the insulation would be unfaced fiberglass batts. If your floor joists were 2x10s, I would put 10-inch fiberglass batts there.

    How do you support those? You use insulation hangers. They’re like pieces of wire that stick in between the joists. And let it hang there. And then, on the crawlspace floor – is it a dirt floor?

    MICHAELINE: Yes.         

    TOM: So if it’s a dirt floor, then you want to add the plastic right on the dirt floor. Now, that’s not for drafts; that’s to stop moisture from coming up.

    LESLIE: That’s for moisture.


    TOM: And those things – that’s the best you can do for that crawlspace.

    LESLIE: And Michaeline, when you’re putting the plastic on the floor of the crawlspace, if you for some reason have to use more than one sheet, make sure you overlap by 2 or 3 feet so that you’re not getting any moisture releasing into it. Because, as Tom said, the moisture can really reduce the effect that the insulation is going to have.

    MICHAELINE: Do you – do I tape it then if I’ve got to use more than one sheet?

    LESLIE: If you overlap them by 2 or 3 feet, they’ll stay.


    TOM: Yeah, they’ll stay. Gravity will hold it in place.


    TOM: Alright? And that’s it. Alright, Michaeline? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Rich in West Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    RICH: Hi. I’ve got a drywall question. My house is only about nine years old but a lot of the seams between the sheets of drywall have – where the tape was – the tape is cracked and it’s curled up a little at the edges.

    TOM: Yep.

    RICH: It’s especially bad out in my garage – the unheated garage – on the ceiling pieces but even some in the house. I don’t know if – I’ve heard different things: that they could have put it in when it was cold and it froze before it set or …

    TOM: Let me tell you what’s going on, Rich. Nine years ago, as they do today, the builders will drywall the garage for one reason and one reason only: because they’re required to to maintain the fire separation between the garage and the rest of the house.

    But being builders, they only do what they absolutely have to do to get past code. I always tell these guys, “It’s like you guys are proud of being – of getting a D, not an F. You want to get a D. Nobody really strives for an A.” It’s like how would you feel if your kid came home from school and said, “Guess what, Dad? I got a D. Ain’t you proud?” The builders just do the absolute minimum.

    So in the drywall situation in the garage,that means this: they put on the tape and one coat of spackle. Only one. Where in the house, they put on three because that’s the normal thing you do. So they save a few pennies by only putting on one coat of spackle and you’re faced with tape that – what a surprise – falls off over the years.

    RICH: OK. Yeah.

    TOM: So, in this case, Rich, if it’s loose and separating, you really can’t put spackle on top of that because it’s not going to get between the paper tape and the drywall underneath. I would cut off any loose tape and then I would put another layer of tape on top of that or in lieu of that. And I would use perforated drywall tape, which is very forgiving, especially for somebody who’s an amateur spackler, because you don’t have to worry about getting the paste underneath the tape. It actually goes through the tape; it’s more like a netting.

    RICH: OK.

    TOM: And then you do that with three coats and sand it out in between. Take your time; it’ll take you a little while to kind of get used to it. But that’ll do the trick there. Then prime and paint.

    And as for the areas inside the house, it’s not at all unusual for a nine-year-old house to get some cracks in the seams or where corners come together or above windows or doors. And you pretty much handle those the same way. If the tape is absolutely loose, you have to take it off and replace it. But if it’s just cracking, you can actually put that same type of drywall tape on top of that, three coats of spackle, prime and paint and you’re done, OK?

    RICH: OK. Sounds good.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Rich. 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. We’re here to help you with all of your home improvement projects 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, has the honeymoon with your home come to a screeching halt? We’ll have tips to help you fall back in love with your space with a few, simple changes when The Money Pit continues, after this.

    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: Is your money pit giving you headaches? Call us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help.

    And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is also going to get twice the relief: help with their problem and this hour’s prize, because we’re giving away a collection of decorative hooks from The Home Depot.

    LESLIE: Yeah. They’re classic and industrial at the same time. But even more, they are perfect for keeping your jackets, bags and other stuff off of the floor – I’m talking about your foyers, your hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms. You name it, this will organize it.

    TOM: It’s a prize pack worth 25 bucks. Going out to one caller we talk to on the air this hour.

    You can learn more at HomeDepot.com. And give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ann on the line who’s got a ceiling issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    ANN: Well, what happened is I have a large living room. At one time, it had been two rooms and they combined it into one.


    ANN: On one of the sections, it has a metal or a tin ceiling. And what I want to do is install a ceiling to match in the other section. I located the manufacturer of the ceiling tile. However, I don’t know who to call to do the installation, because they could not provide me with any ideas. So, should I be looking for a sheet-metal person? Should I look for a tinsmith or a …?

    TOM: So you can’t find a tin-ceiling installer in the phone book? Is that what you’re trying to tell us?

    ANN: Right. There’s no one listed.

    TOM: Listen, it’s not a hard project, Linda. It’s really a job for a carpenter. It’s not a difficult project. A carpenter with a little bit of metalworking experience can handle this. And I’m very impressed that you actually found the product because it’s a little tough to find.

    LESLIE: Yeah, exactly what you’re looking for.

    TOM: Yeah.

    ANN: Right.

    TOM: So I would handle – a good carpenter or a good handyman. Really easy job to install that. And so that’s the way I would take it.

    ANN: Oh, thank you ever so much. I really appreciate all your help.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jim in North Carolina on the line with a roofing question.

    JIM: I need a new roof. I’m originally from the Northeast – New York – and up there, it was very common to not strip the old fiberglass roof before putting a new roof on. I’m wondering what the advantage is to not stripping the roof versus stripping it to put a new one on.

    TOM: That’s a great question, Jim, and the answer really depends on one thing and that is: how long are you going to spend in this house? Is this a house that you’re going to be in for the next 20 years or do you see yourself more in the 5-to-10-year range?

    JIM: We’re in the house for forever, the long – for long term.

    TOM: Forever? OK.

    JIM: Yeah, mm-hmm.

    TOM: Alright. They’re going to bury you in this place. Is that what you’re trying to tell me?

    JIM: Exact. We call it our “toes up.” We’re leaving toes up.

    TOM: Alright. It’s your toes-up house? Alright.

    So, if it’s your toes-up house, you’re going to want to make sure that that roof is going to last as long as possible and the way you’ll do that is by stripping the old layer. And here’s why I say that: if you have a second layer of roofing material under the exposed layer, that’s going to hold a lot of heat.

    And heat is the enemy of the roof. The hotter the roof gets, the quicker the asphalt and the other chemicals that make up the roof sheathing’s – the roof shingle’s ability to keep water away dry out, the shorter the roof life. So if you have a roof that’s really warm, it’s not going to last as long.

    And what I have found in the almost 20 years I spent as a professional home inspector, that when we saw roofs that had multiple layers, generally they lasted about a third less than a roof that was a single layer. So if the first roof lasted 20 years and you added a second layer, you might be looking at like, say, 14 or 15 years on the second layer. So that’s why I would suggest that you might be better off stripping off that first layer in your scenario and putting on just one layer.

    But if you had told me that “no, Tom, I’m only going to be in that house for 5 or 10 years,” well, then, who cares? Because you’re not going to be around to enjoy the benefit of the longer roof life, you know? That’s why it makes sense, if you’re going to be there for that whole life of the roof, to go ahead and pull off the first one.

    A couple other things to keep in mind with that roofing project: also a good opportunity to take a look at your ventilation, Jim. Now, in a 20-year-old house, typically you don’t have enough ventilation, because they just didn’t vent roofs well back then. But you want to think about adding a continuous ridge vent down the entire peak of the roof and then a continuous soffit vent down both sides of the soffit. So that this way you’ll have plenty of opportunity for air to enter at the soffit, ride up under the roof sheathing and exit at the ridge. And that will give you a nice cycle of air, 24-7, that’s keeping that attic space cooler which, of course, makes your air conditioning more efficient and also helps the roof last longer, as well.

    JIM: That’s great. That all makes perfectly good sense.

    TOM: Well, no matter how much you love your home, at some point it starts to feel like the same old, same old. Before you call a realtor or put it on the market, do anything drastic, consider some easy ways you can fall back in love with the place you already have.

    LESLIE: Now, smells can make or break your mood, so you want to make sure that the scent of your house brightens your spirits. So the next time you paint, think about mixing in special scent additives into the paint itself for traces of your favorite scent for years to come. Glade Products actually makes one in a bunch of different scent flavors, if you will, that you can mix into the paint that will actually help to freshen the air in your home or at least give you a nice fragrance.

    Now, if you have an unwanted smell that’s permeating your home, you want to consider odor-blocking paint formulas. For a shorter, more natural fix, you can fill a medium-size pot or even a crock pot with water. Add some natural scents like citrus or orange and cinnamon and then simmer on medium for a few hours and you’ll get a beautiful, aromatic bliss sort of scent wafting through your home. And that really does a great job of freshening things up.

    TOM: Now, another thing that you can do that always sort of de-stresses the space is to simply add plants. The research actually shows that keeping plants inside is good for emotional health. They’re also relaxing, pretty much, for all your senses.

    And indoor gardening can be a great hobby, as well. I know that one of the first winters that we were in our house, we made the innocent mistake of picking up some of that basil, with the roots attached, at the supermarket? We figured, what the heck, let’s try planting it. It took over part of the living room. It just grew like a bush. And we always had fresh basil around the house and it smelled so great. So, a little indoor gardening can really go a long way in the chilly weather.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I think it’s important that you also add some touches to your home that remind you of achievements or even the people that you love most, rather than furnishing your house with department-store finds.

    You can take repurposed salvaged wood, you can frame family photos or artwork. You can even replace existing house numbers with ones that you make or paint yourself. I mean really give your home some of your own personality.

    TOM: And finally, you want to set aside a day to fix all those small, somewhat annoying problems in your house: the squeaks, the creaks, the wobbles, the cracks, the scuffs. Pick a day, get it done, you’ll feel much better.

    888-666-3974. If you have some questions on how to tackle any of those projects, give us a call right now.

    LESLIE: Cynthia in New York is on the line and there seems to be a whole host of problems going on with this tile floor. I was going to start itemizing but why don’t you just tell us what’s going on?

    CYNTHIA: My house was built in 1948. It’s oak hardwood floors throughout. I bought 12-inch-square ceramic tile from Lowe’s in order to put in an area coming in from the front door, going through the foyer area. And last year, I installed – had it installed. And it was during a heavy rainstorm, so the repair people cut the tiles right inside my house and created tremendous – there was a cement dust throughout.

    And when the installers left, they told me that the grout should be sealed, which I did using a special spray can. And they said that they would return to finish on the edges to prevent tripping, et cetera, because it was raised slightly higher than the rest of the floors.

    After a few weeks, I noticed movement of the tiles and then a couple cracked. And now, all of the tiles move and the grout in the heaviest traveling areas has turned brown when I wet-mop it. The rest remains white.

    TOM: OK. So, Cynthia, let me just summarize this. Essentially, you’ve had this tile down for less than a year and the tiles are getting loose?

    CYNTHIA: Yes.

    TOM: Alright. So the installation was not done correctly. The grout – the porosity of the grout – whether it’s getting brown, red, yellow or blue I really don’t care so much about, because that’s all meaningless when the tile is not adhered well.

    So the problem here is that the installation sounds like it was done incorrectly. I don’t know how they adhered the tiles, I don’t know how they prepared the floor, but there is no way that tile should be loosening up inside of a year and having all of these problems associated with them. So, this is a situation where it really is the installer’s responsibility. And if you can get that installer back, I think they owe you a new floor.

    CYNTHIA: Yeah. I can’t stick one here and stick one there or that sort of thing.

    TOM: You’re fighting a losing battle, OK? Because you had – you saw it right away; they started to loosen up right away. Now it’s just getting worse. And the reason the tiles crack is because they’re not supported evenly underneath.

    So this all comes down to installation. If the floor was put down correctly, those tiles would be rock-solid. Insofar as the grout is concerned, yeah, you do seal the grout. It is a maintenance issue to maintain it. I’m not so concerned about that. It certainly wouldn’t crumble if the tiles were secure. But that really is the issue. The tiles have to be removed at this point. The adhesive has to be pulled out. You may need another layer of underlayment. I’m not quite sure, again, how it was attached. And if it’s done correctly, though, it literally can last indefinitely.

    Cynthia, thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, most of us want to be a little lighter before spring and your house is no exception. We’ve got tips for getting rid of excess junk now so you don’t have to do it come nicer weather, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: When you step into the grocery store, have you ever noticed that you can smell the cleaning products four aisles away? That’s indoor-air pollution and it’s exactly what happens when you take those cleaning products inside your home. Shaklee’s green, chemical-free cleaning innovations are a better option. Shop Shaklee Get Clean products today at GreenMyMoneyPit.com. That’s GreenMyMoneyPit.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, we may be in the thick of winter right now but spring is right around the corner: the traditional time of year for renewal, including a good spring cleaning. But why wait?

    TOM: Now is as good a time as any to get rid of the stuff you don’t want or you don’t need or you don’t use. Here to help us figure out where to start is Kelly Mack from 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

    Hey, Kelly. Welcome to the program.

    KELLY: Hi. Thanks for having me.

    TOM: So, spring must be the busiest time of year for you guys. Do you get a lot of calls from people that just don’t know where to begin?

    KELLY: Yeah, we really do. And spring is really a ramp-up through the summer, as well. So, a lot of people are calling us through the more warmer months in the north. And it continues through the south, as well.

    TOM: So, if you want to get going on sort of a major clutter project where you want to really clean up your act, so to speak, what’s the easiest way to kind of organize that practice so that you throw out what you don’t need and you don’t want, you don’t use, but you keep the stuff that’s important to you?

    KELLY: Right. Well, one tried method – tried and true method – we use is you want to sort out each room. And really, you want to break that down. So try not to tackle – you know, if you’ve got a big project ahead of you, don’t try and tackle the whole house in a weekend. Maybe try and get the garage done, maybe try and get the bedrooms done another weekend.

    Break the project down, first of all, so you can – you’re not feeling stressed, because it’s a stressful process. And then once you’ve decided how much you want to tackle that day, then you can sort your items. It’s important to get a sort going of what you know you’re going to keep, maybe what you’re not sure of or what you’d like to donate and then what you know is just clearly junk and that you’re going to get rid of.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But you’re saying “clearly junk” and I’ve seen, in the makeover projects I’ve worked on, that a lot of times clutter can really have emotional baggage with people. And so getting them to part with things might not be the easiest.

    KELLY: Yeah, it can. And in some situations – it could be your parents. If your parents are getting elderly or if you’re helping out a friend, a good idea there is to have them go out for the day. Take them out, get their mind off it. Say, “Leave it to me.” You can have 1-800-GOT-JUNK come in so it can be done quickly and they’re not there. Because we’ve done that for many, many clients where they’ve gotten the person who’s going to feel the most stressed from the situation – gotten them off site and been able to handle it quickly.

    TOM: That’s a great idea.

    We’re talking to Kelly Mack – he’s an operations manager with 1-800-GOT-JUNK – about the easiest way to clean out your clutter this winter and this spring, moving into the summer. Any time that really makes sense for you is a good time to do this project.

    But you are going to feel a lot better because it kind of frees up your mind, as well, don’t you think when you get more organized? I always feel a little better after all that junk is out of sight.

    KELLY: Yeah, I think people feel a large sense of accomplishment. You know it’s something that you’ve wanted to do for a long time. Finally, it’s done, it’s accomplished. Things are much more organized after and you can use – maybe buy some storage bins in advance. When you finish out that garage, you’ve got everything stored away.

    But yeah, there’s a great sense of accomplishment, release. Things feel cleaner. You’re less embarrassed if you’re having family or friends over if you had a real mess going on. So it’s – it can really – it’s a good way to brighten up your spring and leading into the summer.

    LESLIE: Now, what exactly do you guys do with everything at GOT JUNK? Do you guys sort through? Are you profiting from the items that you take away or do you donate it? I mean yeah, I’m sure you end up with a ton of stuff. So what do you do with it?

    KELLY: Yeah, we end up with hundreds of tons a year. We’re actually – system-wide, toward our worldwide operations, we divert up to 65 percent of what we take. So, we’re environmentally conscious. It makes us feel good. It makes our clients feel good. It’s definitely the right thing to do.

    So we’ll recycle things. We’ll take them to donation centers like the Salvation Army or wherever, even your local donation center. So there’s those options. You can look into recycling metal. There’s money in that if you’re doing it yourself.

    There’s a lot of things. There’s services available city to city. So depending on what city you’re in, you can sort of look up donation centers to bless donatables (ph). Talk to your city about what you can recycle. Or again, you can call us and we’re going to – we’re sort of the professionals in handling it, at a client level, coming in and taking care of that for them.

    TOM: Well, that’s great advice, Kelly. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and helping us get ramped up to clean our houses out for the year ahead.

    KELLY: Great. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: Kelly Mack is an operations manager with 1-800-GOT-JUNK. If you’d like more information on their services, simply go to 1800GOTJUNK.com.

    LESLIE: Well, are you admiring those icicles hanging from your gutters? Hey, don’t be blinded by their beauty. They might actually be signs of ice dams that can damage your roof and ceilings. Is your house at risk? Find out, coming up.

    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 one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to get more than just an answer. They’ll get a free set of decorative wall hooks from The Home Depot.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I’m constantly checking things out on Pinterest. I actually love going on there looking for great ideas. And these hooks really are straight off of a Pinterest board. They’re contemporary but they’re classic all at once. They’re black hooks and the larger ones set against a 14-inch piece of rustic wood so that you really bring that sort of industrial urban-chic kind of look to them.

    TOM: They’re worth $25 but going out to one caller we talk to on the air this hour. So give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win that set of beautiful decorative hooks from The Home Depot at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Cecily in Iowa is on the line with a wallpaper conundrum. What’s going on at your money pit?

    CECILY: Well, I have a probably 24-year-old townhome that I think the paper has been on the wall since – for that long.

    TOM: It was popular back then.

    CECILY: Yeah, yeah. Back then.

    I’m just wondering – person I had in here tried to, where the wallpaper butts up against the ceiling, there’s – it looks like a bad job and there’s some marks. And he thought he could wipe it down. And everywhere he wiped it down, there’s like a watermark all along where he – looks like icicles: an uneven line of watermark.

    And I don’t know if it can – I’ve been told you can paint over it. I mean we have vaulted ceilings; it’s a lot of paper. And I don’t know how you would – if what – they took it off. There’s actually some posts papered with it and I don’t know what’s underneath.

    TOM: I think the answer is you can remove it. It’s a lot of work, like any type of wallpaper.

    CECILY: Right.

    TOM: If you want to paint over it, it’s going to look like the wallpaper underneath.

    LESLIE: Textured paint.

    TOM: It’s going to look textured underneath. So, if you want to do like a really inexpensive, short-term fix, you could paint over it. I would recommend that you use a very thick roller on that because otherwise, it’s going to be very hard to get the paint in where it has to go. And maybe you might even need to use a slitted roller: the kind of roller that we use on textured ceilings where it has actually sort of slots in it. Because it really gets in and around and thick and will sort of fill out that whole surface with paint.

    CECILY: Mm-hmm. Is it terribly difficult to remove?

    LESLIE: It depends on how long it’s been there, what the prep process was to the wall below the paper. All of those can add up to an easy job or a tremendously difficult job. And it’s one of those things that you don’t know until you try. And there are ways to do it.

    Now, with a textured wall covering like this, whether it’s grass cloth or the string cloth, you can try to use a store-bought wallpaper remover, you can use a steamer, you can do homemade concoctions. One is white vinegar and hot water, another is fabric softener and hot water. Both situations, you super-saturate the walls and just sort of let it sit there for a few minutes. I’ve even heard of clothing starch with hot water and making a paste onto the wallpaper.

    And I’ve used the fabric softener and that does work. That was a traditional vinyl, which I had to score first. But I’ve also heard with grass cloths, that you can take a paint scraper and scrape the actual string cloth or the grass cloth off of the backing, so that might make it easier to remove. Either way, it’s going to be a lot of work and you never know what’s behind it. You could get everything off and the wall could be so textured and dinged up that you end up having to put a layer of drywall over it anyway.

    CECILY: Ah, OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. That’s very helpful and I’m glad I called.

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

    LESLIE: Well, most of us have seen some ice or snow this time of year and they really make a beautiful picture to post. But they could be signaling a dangerous problem. You want to make sure that ice isn’t causing ice dams. And that’s a buildup that can actually cause extensive damage to your house.

    TOM: So, here’s what you need to do. First, start by looking up at the roof and the gutter line, because the ice dams will build up there when the water freezes on your roof, usually in the area over the soffits.

    Now, the way this works is as melting snow water drips down, it hits that ice dam. And the reason that ice forms there is because the area right over the exterior walls of your house is warmer than the area around the soffit, which is completely surrounded by ambient temperature. That’s why it freezes at the edge. So as that water that melts from the upper roof down hits the ice dam, it backs up under the roof shingles and that can cause a leak through to your ceiling below.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And the melted ice can also damage shingles in underlayment. So, if you do see ice dams, you want to properly insulate and ventilate your attic space. And it should be the same temperature up in your attic as it is outside.

    Now, you can also install a premium underlayment, which is made to prevent ice damming in the first place. You’d have to remove some shingles to add it but it’s definitely worth the hassle.

    TOM: And finally, make sure ice has not damaged your gutter system in any way. Mounted gutters can easily get filled with very heavy ice and they could fall off the roof line. So double-check that all of your mountings are still securely fastened to your home’s structure.

    And remember, if you do suffer ice-dam damage, most of the time that is covered by your homeowners insurance. So don’t think you need to take the money out of your own pocket to fix it. Call your homeowners insurance company, file a claim. Get a public adjuster to work with you on it. They’ll make sure you get every dime that you’re entitled to to get that fixed.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now up, we’ve got Paul calling in from Tennessee who’s got an issue with a water pump. Tell us what’s going on.

    PAUL: I’m getting some air in this well water. The well is six-and-a-half years old, as is the house. And it goes down 350 feet and the casing goes down 105 feet where they grouted it. When they first put it in, I was bothered by the amount of turbidity I had in it and I was changing the whole-house filter about once a week.

    And I went back to the drilling company and they said, “Well, it would take about three months to quit that.” Well, it was 36 months. And then after about four years, I started getting some water hammer in the cold water, particularly in the basement although upstairs, it’ll do it, too.

    But then I’m getting air out of the faucets upstairs and it’s collecting air from somewhere and I can’t figure out where. And as far as I know, the well tank, with the bladder in it – the 40 pounds of air pressure hold the bladder. That seems to be OK, Tom.

    TOM: OK. Yeah, that was the first thing I was going to think: that if you had a leak in that bladder tank, that that would cause that. Other possible causes are bad siphons but I’m not quite sure how you could test that without having all the gear that you would need.

    Have you had the well company come back and take another look at this, specifically for the air-bubble problem?

    PAUL: No. Because it’s been quite a while and they – the guy they used to have there at the company, in the daytime, didn’t seem to know much about it. In fact, when he told me 3 months it was going to clear up and it was 36 months, I thought, “Maybe I’m talking to the wrong guy.” But I haven’t gotten a hold of him.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, he told you 3 months because his warranty was 90 days, right?

    PAUL: Yeah.

    TOM: Paul, obviously, we’re getting air into that system and if it’s not coming through the bladder tank, I’m not quite sure where it’s coming in. And I think you’re going to have to get a well expert there – a real expert – that understands these things and try to see if there’s any way they can determine exactly how that air is getting in.

    Do you have another well company that you might try?

    PAUL: Yeah, there’s several of them here because this area is very rural. We’re right at the edge of the Smokies.

    TOM: I would try another well company, because you didn’t have good luck with the first one, and see if you can get to the bottom of it. But I agree with you: if it’s not the tank, it more than likely is the pump.

    PAUL: OK. Well, very good. And thank you. I will try someone here local, then, and see if they can build (ph) it out.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, is your home improvement wish list bigger than your budget? Well, put a dent in it this month with some of the best deals of the year. We’ll tell you where to find them when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety and convenience, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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.

    And while Tom certainly never feels shy, you might feel a little shy to speak to him during a radio show. But guess what, guys, there’s actually more than one way that you can win big with The Money Pit. All you have to do is like us on Facebook and you’ll get some news and updates on all of our upcoming sweepstakes. Super-easy. Go to Facebook.com. We all know you’re on there anyway, so check out Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and click Like and you’ll get a ton of fun home improvement information there.

    And while you’re online, post a question, just like Bob did in New York who writes: “We’re planning to update the look of our home with new siding but want to select a low-maintenance, long-lasting material. Any suggestions?”

    TOM: So, you really want to consider the climate or the geography of your home. If you want something that’s really bulletproof, I would think about HardiePlank.

    Now, I’ve got a home that has HardiePlank on a detached garage. And we used it because the pattern of the HardiePlank – well, first, because we had to side the garage but the pattern of the HardiePlank actually matches the cedar shingles that are on the main house. So it looks very much like an old shingle but the maintenance is night and day. I mean the HardiePlank really – it came prepainted, which is a good way to order it, by the way. Because it lasts, when it’s factory-painted, probably more than 20 years.

    And it’s not an organic product, so it’s going to not have the same expansion and contraction that wood would. It’s not going to absorb moisture like a wood siding would, so I think it’s a great product. It’s not inexpensive. If you want an inexpensive option, of course, you could look at one of the vinyl siding – many vinyl choices that are out there. But I think the HardiePlank is a really good choice.

    If you’re really concerned about durability and low maintenance, that would be my choice.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I did the CertainTeed version of the fiber cement board and they are beautiful and low-maintenance; you’re not going to have to paint. It’s going to be gorgeous for the long run. But it is pricey, as Tom said, but definitely worth it.

    TOM: Well, Presidents’ Day is coming up and those sales are some of the best you’ll find all year. It’s a good time to stock up on those wish-list items that perhaps you didn’t get over the holidays. But where will you save the most? Leslie has some tips in how to shape your shopping strategy to take advantage of those sales, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, Presidents’ Day is the third Monday in February. So, for best deals, you want to plan to hit the stores the weekend before. You’ll find unbelievable bargains on big-ticket household items like furniture, appliances, electronics and rugs. But you’ll find a lot of shoppers, as well, so you’ve got to be savvy.

    But how do you go about getting the best merchandise before somebody else does? You’ve got to be fast, you’ve got to be willing to push people out of the way and you have to get up early. I’m just kidding, folks. But seriously, you kind of have to treat Presidents’ Day like Black Friday. You want to get up early so you beat the crowds and snag the best deals. The good news is you won’t be tired from all that turkey and mashed potatoes the day before.

    Now, make a list because that can help you keep your cool once you arrive and then you’re kind of bombarded by everything that’s on sale and all the people and who’s grabbing what. And you get all excited. It also keeps you from spending that extra money on the things that you don’t really need.

    Now, if you don’t know your way around the store that you’re going to, try to scout it out a few days beforehand so that you’re not wasting precious minutes vying for the items on your list.

    And speaking of preparation, coupons and discount codes can be found online and they are the key to the very best deals out there. One site to try is CouponConnector.com. And don’t forget to visit the websites for your favorite stores. And this way, you can browse through the sale flyers, right there on your computer screen or smartphone, before you even get in there to do the purchasing.

    TOM: A good time to pick up some additional appliances for your home.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on The Money Pit, we’re going to talk about touchless faucets, towel warmers and toasty toilet seats. There are so many ways to make your bathroom high-tech. We’ll give you the options, 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 2014 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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