How to Organize a Homework Zone, Learn to Prevent and Get Rid of Rodents
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: We are here to help you tackle your home improvement project. You need to solve your do-it-yourself dilemma? Is there a project that you’d like to take, maybe you’re thinking about taking on? Maybe you want to convince your spouse to take it on for you? Well, let us take the first step by helping you with some good advice. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, if you’ve sold your home, perhaps you’ve closed the deal and handed over the keys and you think you’re done. Well, not quite. We’ll have tips on what you need to do after you sell your home, to complete the transaction and make sure everything is sewn up the way it needs to be to give you the next step in your future.
LESLIE: Also ahead, has school barely started and already your kids are completely disorganized? Hi. Join the club. And if this sounds like you, we’ve got help and it’s on the way. We’re going to share some homework-space solutions, coming up.
TOM: And we’ve got a great prize we’re giving away to one caller and that is four 30-foot packs of GutterBrush. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to keep your gutters clean from debris and it’s a prize worth $400. Going out to one caller drawn at random, so let’s get to it. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Susan in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SUSAN: I have recently purchased a home and there are three areas in the home that seem to emit a cat-urine odor when it gets very …
TOM: Eww. Yuck.
TOM: Alright. So, is it on – is it carpet? What kind of flooring you got there?
SUSAN: Actually, I’m finding it in the garage, on concrete.
TOM: Oh, OK. OK.
SUSAN: And around the front door – which there’s a brick exterior and it’s a metal door. But then it also – have discovered that there’s an area in the bedroom. It seems to be under a window. So maybe on the drywall? The carpeting has been replaced.
SUSAN: The home – and when I purchased the home, the carpeting had been – all had been replaced.
TOM: Well, here’s the thing. Let’s take it one area at a time. If it’s the garage and you have a concrete floor there, that could have absorbed some of that unpleasant liquid. What I would suggest you do is take the opportunity to add a new epoxy garage-floor paint to that surface. Very easy to do. Comes in kits. Made by lots of different manufacturers. QUIKRETE makes it, Rust-Oleum makes it. And basically, you mix up the paint and the hardener and it takes about 45 minutes to apply it and then a couple of hours for it to dry and probably the next day, you’re moving the car back in.
SUSAN: Wonderful. That’d be a great idea.
TOM: So I would definitely put an epoxy paint down. That will seal in any type of odor that’s there.
Now, as far as that bedroom is concerned, my fear is that they pulled up the nasty carpet, put down new carpet but didn’t fix the problem underneath. But if there was dog or cat activity on that floor underneath, it should have been primed with an oil-based primer.
LESLIE: And it could be that the padding wasn’t replaced, as gross as that sounds. But I mean that’s a possibility; you never know that.
But Tom is right. If you have an odor issue associated with the carpet, when you pull up that carpet, that subfloor, whatever it is, does have to be painted with an oil-based primer just pretty much to seal in whatever is there.
Now, at this point, I hate to tell you you’ve got to go back down to that point and do it but that’s really probably going to be the only way. Because come cooler months, you’re not going to notice it as much but add moisture, high temps, humidity, you’re going to get that scent back again.
So, it’s possible that the same piece of carpeting can be reused but I would definitely look into making sure that that padding was replaced. If not, do it – and painting that subfloor.
TOM: I would think that the carpet could definitely be reused. You basically just have to pull it back up, pull the padding up. If the padding is not new, it should be replaced. And if it is new, just peel it back, prime that whole area of the floor and then put it back together. So you’ll need a carpet installer to help you with this, because it has to be tacked in properly. But you can absolutely do it without damaging the existing carpet, OK, Sue?
SUSAN: OK. Can I use just any oil base or do I need to use like a …?
TOM: I would use KILZ – K-I-L-Z – or B-I-N.
SUSAN: OK. Oh, OK.
TOM: As long as it’s oil-based, I think it will do a good job of sealing it out.
SUSAN: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
TOM: Sue, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Mike from Tennessee calling in. And what’s great is that Mike tuned into us on Facebook and knew that we were in studio and gave us a call through our Facebook fan network.
Hey, Mike. Welcome.
MIKE: Our house is on a slab and we’re wanting to change to possibly some type of wood flooring but trying to decide what type would be best and how to go about that decision.
TOM: OK. Well, it’s very easy. Because your house is on a slab, there’s only one type of wood flooring that you can put down and that’s called “engineered floor.” The reason it’s called “engineered floor,” Mike, is because it’s put together in layers, kind of like plywood where you have alternating layers of wood? And that’s necessary for it to be dimensionally stable.
If you were to try to put down solid hardwood floor on a concrete floor, that concrete is so damp and moist that the solid hardwood would very quickly warp and twist and it just wouldn’t work. So, you want engineered hardwood and that can be installed as a floating floor, which means the floor pieces themselves would lock together but they don’t really attach to the floor. They just kind of float and they go down over an underlayment which is usually, with engineered, like a thin foam, so it even gives you a little cushion when you walk on it. And you cut it to fit the room and you cover the exposed edge with some molding when you get out to the baseboard.
So it’s pretty straightforward, pretty easy project to do. I would buy the best-quality engineered that you can afford, because it really counts on the finish. If you get a commercial-grade, for example, finish, it’s going to be far more durable, because it is almost impossible to refinish. So you really do want to have a good-quality finish first time out of the box.
MIKE: Well, that’s great information. I appreciate it.
TOM: You got it. 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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, you’ve closed the deal and handed over your house keys to the new owners. Maybe you think your home sale transaction is complete? Well, not quite. We’ll have tips on what you need to do after you sell, from the experts at the National Association of Realtors, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
One caller that we talk to today is going to win four 30-foot packs of GutterBrush. It’s an inexpensive and easy alternative to a most hated autumn chore of gutter cleaning.
TOM: That’s a full 120 feet of gutter protection, valued at $400, going out to one caller drawn at random, so let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Sonya from Illinois on the line with a foundation question. What’s going on?
SONYA: Well, I have a – I live in a two-story house with a basement underneath. And attached to that house is a garage and behind the garage is a family room.
SONYA: And the family room is on a crawlspace. Now, the foundation between the garage and the family room has shifted and cracked due to settling of the house.
TOM: Alright. Sonya, let me stop you right there. What’s the crack look like? Is it vertical or horizontal?
SONYA: Vertical, actually.
SONYA: But it goes down for quite a few of the cinder blocks.
TOM: Blocks, blocks. OK. Is it hairline or is it opened up?
SONYA: Part of it is opened up.
TOM: Oh. And the rest of it’s hairline?
TOM: I wouldn’t worry too much about it. That’s a very typical kind of crack and it probably is from settlement.
So I would do two things: first of all, I would seal the crack with a silicone caulk; secondly, I would reassess the drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. Because if the soil around the outside of the house and the outside of the foundation is allowed to get overly wet – how would that happen? Well, if it’s flat, if the soil is sloped back to the house, if the gutters or the downspouts are overflowing or the downspouts are dropping a lot of water there, that tends to make the soil wet, which makes it weak, which makes the house settle. So I would just take a look and make sure that the soil is as stable and dry as possible. I would fix the crack and then I think that that probably will solve it.
Now, if the crack continues to move after all of that and you have some pretty good evidence that it continues to move, then at that point – and only at that point – would I suggest bringing in a home inspector or a structural engineer to take another look. But if it’s a hairline to 1/8-inch-or-so crack, it’s not displaced, that’s probably pretty typical. That may have happened a long time ago, too. I don’t know if this is something that you’re recently noticing.
SONYA: This is recent, because the door frame of the door between the garage and the family room actually shifted, also, to the point where we could not close the door.
TOM: Listen, if you want to be absolutely sure that you don’t have an ongoing problem here with movement, you could have it looked at by a structural expert. But I would encourage you to make that expert not a contractor and here’s why: contractors are going to sell you a repair, whether you need it or not. You want to have it looked at by an independent professional that’s an engineer or a home inspector and then make a decision based on that advice.
Sonya, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in California is on the line and dealing with some plumbing issues. Tell us what’s going on.
BOB: It is in regards to the water hammer that you get in the plumbing normally. I would say it’s either in the walls but mostly in the ceilings.
BOB: And what I understood is – and correct me if I’m wrong – is they run the plumbing in the attic and then they’ll run an extension up a foot or so that just goes up and deads (ph). And it’s to carry a volume of air, so instead of working as a hammer when you turn the water on and off and it hits hard, it uses that air.
TOM: That’s true. That is a way to create a water-hammer arrestor with air in the pipe. That’s sort of the old-fashioned way to do it. The high-tech way is with these sort of small diaphragms that are sort of stretched across the pipe, with compressed air on one side, that can actually be adjusted depending on the bang. And the rubber expands into the chamber and then pulls back again. So either is a viable option.
BOB: Ah, I never heard of the other one. But what my question was, being old-fashioned – and my question is: about how often would you put them and how tall? And would they be larger, such as like a hydraulic ram would be or would they just be the normal-size pipe? And I would think, as a preventive measure, you’d do that. The reason I ask is just recently, they changed the plumbing in the attic in the apartment and it developed a water hammer when they changed it.
TOM: So, the answer is they’re usually not very tall, the times that I’ve seen them. But today, I would use a water-hammer arrestor. So just look that up at the plumbing supply house – a water-hammer arrestor – and have your plumber install one of those on each line and that should deal with it permanently.
BOB: I appreciate it. I just thought maybe there was a rule of thumb on how often and how tall that extender was.
TOM: Yeah, you can do that but that’s the hard way. I would use the water-hammer arrestor and that will take care of it the easy way.
Bob, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
So, you put your house on the market and you sold it. Escrow closed, you’ve handed the keys over to the new homeowners and you’re thinking you’re all done with the home selling process. Well, according to the experts at the National Association of Realtors, it’s not time to celebrate just yet. Here’s what you need to know.
LESLIE: That’s right. For starters, you should organize copies of all of the paperwork related to the close of the sale. You’re going to need all of this when you file your taxes. And after that, it’s just smart to have the records on hand in case you’re audited. Oh, geez. I don’t even like to say those words.
TOM: And you need to keep proof of all the home improvements you did, as well. The IRS allows you to add the cost of improvements to your home’s cost basis while you own it. Pretty nice if you have a sizeable capital gain. But you need to have the receipts to make it official.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And also, after you sell, you want to put the proceeds in a money-market fund. It’s going to offer safety, a reasonable rate of return and daily access to your money until you find your next home.
TOM: And that’s your Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Considering selling your home? Today’s market conditions may mean it’s a good time. Every market’s different, so call a realtor today and visit Realtor.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Pamela in Tennessee on the line who’s got a shingle question. What can we do for you today?
PAMELA: Our house was built in 1994 and it’s at the point where it’s going to be needing a new roof and we started getting estimates. And the last man who came offered to put a new roof over the existing roof. And I had thought I had read somewhere that that was never a good idea but he gave us the two options: the price with removing the old and putting on the new and another one for just putting a new layer over the existing roof. And I was just trying to find out which is the best way to go on that.
TOM: Well, Pamela, both are viable options for a roof replacement. It kind of comes down to how long you expect to be in that house. So, is this a house where you think you’ll be in it for the next 15 or 20 years, which would be the life of the new roof?
PAMELA: Well, we would like to move tomorrow if we could. We’ve had it on the market a couple times in the last couple years and we haven’t even had any lookers with the economy being what it is. So, we haven’t really had any issues with leaking, as far as we know, but every time it storms or the winds blow really hard, we lose a few more shingles.
TOM: Right. OK, well, that’s really good to know. So, the answer is that you most likely will sell it, say, in the next 10 years because the economy will eventually recover in the real estate market.
And the reason I ask that is this, Pam: because when you put a second layer of shingles on a roof, the first layer tends to hold a lot of heat, which causes the second layer to wear out just a bit faster. I’ve seen it wear out anywhere from 25 percent to, say, 33 percent faster – from a quarter to a third faster. So that means that you’d have a bit of a shorter roof life. Instead of going 20 years on the next roof, maybe you’ll go 15. However, it does save you some money.
So when does it make sense to tear it off? Well, if you’re going to be there for the whole 20 years – 25 years of that roof – then I would say tear off, go down to the plywood sheathing and go up from there. If this is a short-term house for you and you’ve already got just one layer so you’re only putting a second layer on, no reason not to put a second layer of roof on that. It’s clearly going to last for the next several years and more. And by the time you’re ready to sell it, no one really cares whether there’s one layer or two; they only care whether it leaks. And when that new owner gets around to replacing the roof, then they’ll strip everything down to the sheathing.
TOM: But that’ll be their expense, not yours. So I think it’s OK to put a second layer on at this point.
PAMELA: OK. Well, I appreciate your answer. I had just not had anybody else give us that option; it was just this one guy. And so I didn’t know if it was a good idea to do that or not.
LESLIE: You know, I would also check with your village. The only reason I say this is that when we were looking into having our roof replaced, the rules within our village were that if you were putting a new roof on top of your existing shingles, you didn’t need any permitting. But if you were taking off the existing and putting on a new set of shingles, getting down to the sheathing, then you needed a permit. It’s just something to look into.
PAMELA: OK. Well, I appreciate that because I wasn’t aware of that. But I will check into that and I thank you both for your answer.
LESLIE: Anna in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ANNA: Well, I hope you can without involving me in too much work. I have …
TOM: OK. A tall order but we’re up for the challenge.
ANNA: I have two long slats from a bunk-bed set. Now, to use it as a bunk bed, you can’t get rid of these and I was thinking about throwing them out. And then when I looked at them, I thought, “Down the road, if somebody else would ever want these and use them as a bunk bed, I can’t throw them out.”
ANNA: But they’ve been outside and they’ve been kind of sheltered. But they’ve been outside for a couple years and they’re rusted; they’re metal. And so, I wondered how I could clean the metal off, power the rust off them so that – and treat them however – so that they could be used again.
TOM: Right. So, very simple. What you’re going to want to do is either wire-brush and/or sand the metal to get rid of all of that rust. Then wipe it down so it’s nice and clean and dry and then you’re going to paint it with a rust-proofing primer like Rust-Oleum. If it’s fairly flat, you can brush it on. If it’s got any kind of detail to it, you can buy it in a spray can and just spray it on.
It takes a couple of hours to dry the Rust-Oleum product but it’s worth it because it really does seal it in and protect it. Then after it dries, you can put a topcoat on of the same color that the slat was before, just so it doesn’t look like – it doesn’t have that primer color to it.
ANNA: OK. So I can get it in a color as a shade.
TOM: Oh, sure. Any color you want. But the rust-proofing primer is kind of like a rust color. And so after that dries, then you can paint whatever you want.
ANNA: Thank you for the advice and I like your show an awful lot.
TOM: Thanks very much, Anne Marie.
LESLIE: Well, coming up, do you drive past the same building or park or school every day and think to yourself, “Gosh, I just wish I had the money to fix that up.” Well, you and your town might be in luck. Stanley Tools is giving away $10,000 to help one lucky winner upgrade the community location of their choice. We’re going to share some details on how to get your town in the running, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America’s made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUKIRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
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: And hey, do you love the town you live in and want to make it better? Stanley Tools wants to hear how you’d use $10,000 to help fix up a location in your community and how upgrading it would benefit others.
LESLIE: That’s right. Stanley Black & Decker’s 2014 Build Your America Contest will award $10,000 to one lucky town’s school, park, historical landmark or some other important community site that needs a little TLC.
TOM: For official rules and to enter, head to StanleyTools.com/BuildYourAmerica or visit any retail location where Stanley hand tools are sold. Look for packages marked Made in the U.S.A With Global Materials or Build Your America and use your phone’s QR reader to get in on the chance to help your town. Deadline for entering is December 31st, so get to it today.
LESLIE: Now on the line, we’ve got Pat in Michigan who’s dealing with a problem in a home’s addition. Tell us what you’re working on.
PAT: Well, I had added onto my house in 2003 and added on a small room in a garage. And what I’ve noticed just recently is a door that exits this addition – that the security door won’t close.
PAT: And then if I looked into the house, I see where the door is also sagging and then I see a crack radiating from the corner of the door at the top. So, it looks to me like this addition is settling. That side has gone down, which has caused the security door to not close.
TOM: Now, can you clarify for me – you mentioned that this was over a garage?
PAT: No, no, no. This was an addition to the house, which included a room and a garage.
PAT: This room I’m talking about is 10×20. And it’s one of the walls – it’s one wall, which is 10 foot long and that’s where I see the problem. If you look on the outside of the house, it’s brick, this addition, and there’s nothing noticeable from the outside: no cracks in the brick, no movement of the brick that you could see. You’re just seeing it on the inside of the house.
TOM: I think you should rehang the door at this point. The type of crack that you are mentioning is pretty common because that’s the weakest part in the wall frame. And I’d like for you, before we do anything that’s too drastic in terms of reinforcing foundations during that kind of a project – we don’t know that it’s that bad. This might just be some normal settlement. So I’d like to suggest that you pull the door out and rehang it, square it up and then watch it and see what happens.
PAT: OK. I appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Alice in Michigan on the line who’s dealing with mold in the shower. Tell us where you’re seeing it.
ALICE: Hi. I am having issues to where my caulk keeps having black mold come through. I strip it, I redo it and the mold just keeps returning. What can I do to stop that?
TOM: A couple of things. You’re talking about the – just the shower or the shower/tub kind of a thing?
ALICE: The walls are separate from the actual tub, so I’ve got the caulk that attaches on.
ALICE: And I will strip it, I put bleach on it and then I put new caulk down but it just keeps coming through.
TOM: Have you tried DAP caulk? And the reason I bring that up is they have a kitchen-and-bath caulk that’s treated with an additive called Microban. And Microban absolutely, positively will not grow mold or algae in it.
ALICE: I don’t think I’ve tried that.
TOM: You might want to give that a try. And the other thing that I would do is – and I know you’ve been through this all before but remember to pull out all the old caulk. You can use a caulk softener, which is kind of like a paint stripper for caulk, to pull that out. You want to wipe that down and spray, with a bleach-and-water solution in a spray bottle, up into that gap so that we make sure we get up in there and kill any algae spores or mold spores that are left behind.
Now, this is on a tub?
TOM: OK. So next thing you do is fill the tub with water all the way up. And while the tub is full, caulk the seam between the walls and the tub. And then after the caulk dries, let the water out. That lets the tub sort of come back up and compress the caulk and helps seal it better so that moisture won’t get behind it and it won’t sort of tear out again.
ALICE: Oh, OK.
TOM: And then, finally, make sure you use the caulk that I suggested with the mildicide. And there are others but I just happen to have good experience with that particular one. It’s DAP Kitchen and Bath Caulk with Microban; that’s the additive.
ALICE: Oh, perfect. OK. Well, I really appreciate that. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Alice. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, school’s just started and I mean already, has homework time become more work for you than your kids? Well, subtract all the whining and add some fun by creating a homework station in your house. We’ve got tips coming up, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. If you forget to close your garage door, it alerts your smartphone, so you can control it from anywhere. Works with most garage-door openers. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.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.
TOM: Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to spend much less time on a ladder cleaning gutters this fall, because they’re going to receive four 30-foot packs of GutterBrush. GutterBrush fits into your gutters and stays there to help prevent clogs from leaves and other debris. And it’s a simple alternative to regular gutter cleaning or those pricey leaf guards.
And we’re giving away 120 feet of it, so give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Jim. Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JIM: Yes. I’m shopping for a new driveway.
JIM: My old one’s cracked really bad. And I was wondering what to look for as far as to know whether a guy is going to give me what I really need and something good that won’t crack again very well.
TOM: What kind of driveway do you have now? Is it a concrete or asphalt driveway?
JIM: It’s a concrete.
TOM: Well, the key here is going to be the preparation of the base. I mean that’s where the rubber meets the road. If the concrete is not thick enough, it’s not going to be strong enough. And if it’s not strong enough, it’s going to crack. So what I would focus on is making sure that you get a quality contractor first.
And how would I find a quality contractor? Well, I would thoroughly check the contractor’s references. I would go online and check some of the review sites. Take a look at Angie’s List, for example. And see if you can find somebody who’s got a good reputation for doing good work in the area.
And then, once you’ve selected one or two guys that are good, then get their estimates and compare those to try to make an apples-to-apples comparison, because there’s a lot of ways to kind of cut corners when it comes to driveways. You know, one guy could put 3 inches of concrete down and another guy could put 6 inches of concrete down. One guy could tamp the base really solid with equipment that’s designed to do that and another guy might just throw the mud down and drive off.
So, it really comes down to technique and making sure it’s applied correctly. And if it is, you’re going to have a concrete that can – a driveway that can last indefinitely.
JIM: OK. This one gentleman I was talking to about it said the concrete he uses was – has fiberglass in it?
TOM: Yeah. Well, there’s a way to put a – different types of material in concrete that help it resist cracking. And that’s just one of many elements that would go into a good driveway job.
JIM: OK. Do they still use mesh and rebar and stuff like that?
TOM: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm. Yep. They sure do.
JIM: OK. Well, I really appreciate the help.
TOM: Alright, Jim. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, for so many of us parents, back-to-school means back-to-back prodding and negotiating and just plain begging kids to do their homework. Well, with just a little organization and planning, you can create a homework space in your home that’ll keep heads out of the clouds and in the books.
TOM: Now, for starters, you want to define the workspace. Whether it’s a small desk or an entire room, make sure the area devoted to homework serves no other purpose during homework time. Get rid of distractions like the internet, phones or video games and consider an open window or an inspirational quote, framed schoolwork or some other detail that gives the space a special touch.
LESLIE: You also want to consider flexible furnishings: you know, maybe a foldout work surface, rolling chairs, even carts. It can maximize their workspace but it also makes it feel less like a classroom and maybe more like a workshop.
TOM: Finally, make sure supplies and equipment are within reach but not so close that they infringe on the work. And when it comes to storing those supplies, let each child pick out a locker, a cubby, a basket or other storage they can call their own. And with these changes, perhaps the only thing smarter than the homework space will be your kids. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Wendy in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
WENDY: I bought a large commercial building in a historic downtown of Atlantic, Iowa.
TOM: Oh, it sounds nice.
WENDY: And it had a roof leak and we have repaired that; we’ve put a new roof on. But there was a lot of damage to the second-story ceiling, which was lath and plaster.
WENDY: And we want to put a loft – a residential loft – up on the upstairs. We have about 1,500 square foot of lath and plaster that needs to come down. So my question is: is there something that’s available as an aid to funnel all of that dirt and lath and plaster down off of the ceiling and out to a dumpster?
TOM: Yeah. Let me give you some suggestions, having been through this very repair in my home which was all lath and plaster. I went about remodeling rooms in different stages. The first time, I decided I would take all the lath and plaster out and drywalled right on top of the original studs. And after going through that mess, I decided it wasn’t as important as I’d once thought to take the lath and plaster out.
And the next time I did it, I simply put a second layer of drywall over the old lath and plaster and screwed through that drywall up into the ceiling joists and the wall studs to support it. And that was a much neater, much easier way to get a nice, clean, new ceiling without all of the mess and the dust and the dirt and the debris.
So is the lath and plaster somewhat intact or is it all loose and falling off? What’s the status of it right now?
WENDY: In some places, where there was a water leak, the plaster wants to fall off. And then in some places, it’s not so bad.
TOM: Well, if you were to put 4×8 sheets of drywall over that and screw the drywall in, it’ll probably support any loose lath or plaster that’s there. And again, you won’t have this big mess of having to tear it all down, which is an awfully big project. Because it’s very heavy, you’ll be shoveling it off the floor, putting it in trash cans, carrying those cans down. And you can’t even fill up the cans because it’s too heavy to lift them.
So it’s a big, stinking mess and if you could apply some drywall to the ceiling as it is now and attach through that drywall into the ceiling joists, it should support the old lath and plaster and give you a nice, clean surface to start with.
WENDY: OK. Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: Judy in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JUDY: I’m in a house that my father built back in 1990.
JUDY: And while they lived there, they experienced black spots coming through on the drywall.
JUDY: And they called in a painter; a painter came in. He went over everything with KILZ first and painted it. Well, since then, they’ve both passed away and so I purchased the house.
JUDY: I had a friend take a look up in the attic and he told me, “Oh, I can’t believe that your father wrapped all this in plastic. Your house can’t breathe. We need to get up here and slice this plastic, let the house breathe and you won’t get any more of these black spots.”
TOM: So does he think the black spots are mold?
JUDY: I don’t know.
LESLIE: And what room were you seeing it in?
JUDY: Every different room. Yeah.
JUDY: It’s almost like it’s the nail heads are getting wet or something.
TOM: OK. So, up in the attic – let’s talk about that area. And you say he wrapped it in plastic. What exactly are you seeing?
JUDY: Well, I didn’t; I haven’t been up there.
TOM: Oh, your friend saw it.
JUDY: My neighbor went up.
TOM: Alright. Well, look, when it comes to vapor barrier, here’s the rule: the vapor barrier goes towards the heated side of the house. So a common mistake, for example, up in attics, is to put the insulation in backwards where they have the vapor barrier sort of facing up as you’re in the attic looking down.
And the solution to that is to cut the vapor barrier. I’ve seen that in crawlspaces, too, where they put the vapor barrier because it has the nailing flange on it. And the only tab on it – at the edge of the beams and it’s on the wrong side. So, as long as the vapor barrier is between the ceiling and the insulation, it’s done correctly. If not, then yes, you can go up and slice the vapor barrier and let it breathe more.
The other thing to do is to make sure that your attic has adequate ventilation. And the best ventilation is a continuous ridge vent, which goes down the peak of the roof, matched with soffit vents at the overhang.
JUDY: OK. That’s what I needed to know.
LESLIE: Hey, coming up, we want to make sure that the houseguests you’re hosting this fall are not of the small, furry rodent variety. Ugh. It’s gross. We’ve got just a few, easy steps that can keep your home from becoming a warm haven for mice, rats and other outdoor critters. We’ll tell you how to protect against them, after this.
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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, the days are getting shorter but after a summer spent relaxing, there’s a good chance your to-do list has gotten longer.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, preparing for colder weather is crucial but it doesn’t have to take up the entire weekend. We’re going to show you 10 fall home maintenance projects that can be done in 30 minutes or less, right at MoneyPit.com.
And you can post your question there, just like YurtGirl2000 did. And she writes: “I’d like to move my washer and dryer from the basement to the garage. Other than plumbing for the washer, do I need to add anything else, like insulation? The garage is unheated. Will uncontrolled temperatures be a problem for washing and drying?”
Now, I guess this would really depend on where in the country she lives.
TOM: But I would expect – I’m going to take a guess here, since she’s asking the question, that she lives somewhere where the weather does get below freezing. I think it’s a really bad idea to put the washer and the dryer into an uncontrolled-temperature space, for lots of reasons.
Let’s talk about drying. In the wintertime, that machine is going to be so cold it’s going to have to generate so much more energy to counteract that and heat those clothes enough to get them to dry. You’ll waste a ton of energy doing that. Of course, also you have the issue of frozen pipes. You can have the water lines behind the washer freeze. I mean you can’t let those trickle if it starts to get really cold. So I think it’s a really bad idea to put your washer and your dryer in an unfinished space like that.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? I wonder if the manufacturers have any sort of recommendations that it might affect a warranty. So, I wouldn’t even think about it at all from that point.
Alright. Now we’ve got a post from Philly10 (ph): “I need to install a bathroom exhaust fan. Is it better to exit through an exterior wall or through a roof?”
TOM: I’d say the shorter the distance, the better. The shorter the distance between the fan and the exterior, the more efficient that fan will be. So either way is fine but I would get it out as quick as I could, because you’re going to find it’ll be much more effective.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the less bends that you’ve got in the ductwork themselves, the better it will run, as well.
TOM: Well, when temperatures drop, you’re not the only one looking for shelter from the cold. Leslie has tips on keeping critters outdoors, where they belong, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. Fall is when mice and rats and other rodents start looking for ways to find food and shelter. And guess what? Your home is not off-limits.
So, here we go. You need a few repairs and adjustments and you can cut down your chances of hosting these unwelcome guests. So to start, you need to remember that mice – get this, mice – they can squeeze through small spaces. Smaller spaces than a nickel. And their rodent relatives are just as crafty. Sheet metal, steel wool or cement can be used to fill any of those small openings in your home’s exterior.
Now, if you opt for expandable foam insulation instead, you want to keep in mind that these pests can actually gnaw right through it. So combine it with steel wool and you’ll create a better barrier.
And when it comes to a good meal, rodents aren’t picky. They’re going to chew through the most durable pet-food bags, so you want to consider storing pet food indoors and put it in sealed canisters. And any time your pet is finished eating, make sure you clean their food dish completely, especially before you turn off the lights each night.
And if you’re looking for a reason to organize or recycle all those old newspapers, magazines, even cardboard boxes, here it is: paper and cardboard, they are prime nesting sites for rodents. So keep them packed away in solid, sealed containers, as well.
And if all else fails and you do see signs of critters, traps and rodenticides are the next line of defense. You just want to make sure that any poison is placed in lockable bait stations that are safe from kids and pets and that any traps you set are similarly family-friendly.
TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, if you look up, is all you see a plain, white ceiling? Well, why not jazz it up? We’ll have tips on how ceiling medallions can bring a lot of drama and sophistication to your ceiling, 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.
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(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.)