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How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing, Wallpaper Removal Tips, and the Easiest Way to Remove Holiday Decorations – While Also Finding Savings For Next Year

  • 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: Happy Holidays, all. It is time to put down the cheer, pick up the tools and get to work. We’re here to help you do just that. Call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. As you enjoy this end of the holiday season, perhaps your attention is turning towards the projects that you’d like to do in the days, weeks and months ahead. Great stuff for us to talk about on today’s program. Pick up the phone and let’s do just that.

    Coming up, winter is officially here and the question is: can your water pipes stand up to those frosty temperatures? We’re going to have some tips to help you avoid the hassle of freezing pipes, coming up.

    LESLIE: And un-decking the halls is never fun but you might be making it tougher than it has to be. We’re going to share some hacks for taking down your holiday decorations quickly and easily.

    TOM: And speaking of taking things down that’s not too easy, wallpaper is notoriously tough to remove but a few key steps can cut down on the time and effort. We’ll share those tricks, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And one lucky caller this hour can keep an eye on their doorstep from any location with the Ring Wireless Video Doorbell. It’s going to let you look at and even talk to anyone who rings your doorbell, from anywhere in the world.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth $199. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. And it is a fantastic safety feature. So give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    RHONDA: Hi there. Yeah, a couple of years ago, we had a moisture problem in our crawlspace. I live in a townhouse-style condo. And as a result, the adjoining wall down in the crawlspace – it has drywall on it and it’s got some mold. And I’m not sure how to get rid of that.

    TOM: OK. So, we’re talking about crawlspace areas in a condominium form of ownership?

    RHONDA: Yes.

    TOM: Typically, that’s – you have to check your public offering statement but generally, that part of the structure is owned by the association. And therefore, the association bears a responsibility of maintaining it. In most multi-family forms of ownership, in a townhouse/condominium kind of ownership, generally, what you own is inside sheetrock to inside sheetrock.


    TOM: And this is important to know because, for example, when you insure your home, you know, the insurance that you purchase has to cover things like paint and kitchen cabinets and flooring, carpets, stuff like that.


    TOM: But it doesn’t cover the wall or the floor structure because that’s covered by the association. So if you’ve got a mold problem in the common area – that’s called the “common area”; in other words, the area that’s common to the entire association – they are responsible for addressing it and that’s why you pay monthly maintenance fees.

    RHONDA: Really? Yeah.

    TOM: So make sure you know who owns what before you start messing with this.


    TOM: And especially in a multi-family situation, if you’ve got mold that’s festering in a crawlspace, that can get up into the units and really affect a lot of folks. So I would first address this with the association. I would address it in writing.


    TOM: Include pictures so you’re documenting it. And then ask them to have a professional take a look at it.


    TOM: And by the way, by professional, I mean industrial hygienist: somebody who’s an expert in mold, not the local handyman that’s going to come down there and try to scrub it away and in the process, distribute it to the entire unit.

    RHONDA: Yeah. Awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going over to Missouri where Jim has a question about a humidifier. How can we help you?

    JIM: Yeah, hi. I am just kind of curious. It would – obviously, with getting cold, just turning the heaters on and everything – and the whole-home humidifier has kind of intrigued me. And I wanted to know if it’s worth installing those onto the heater. Obviously, it would – if it works, it would help out with my dry skin. I’ve got a one-year-old boy and I’m obviously worried about his health, too. And so if I could put one of those on there, it’d be a quick, easy install? And is that worth doing?

    TOM: Well, absolutely. It’s not necessarily a quick, easy install but it is worth doing.

    Now, there are many different types of humidifiers. There’s the kind that atomize or spray water into the air. There’s other types that have sort of like a roller that sort of roll in a pan of water and then the air blows over them.

    There’s one that deals – that works off evaporator pads. I kind of like this. It’s made by Aprilaire, a great brand in the HVAC business. And the way it works is it has jets of water that drip water down an evaporator pad and then water rolls across that pad and that’s how it gets the humidity into the air.

    Then the more sophisticated ones have humidistats that calculate exactly what the humidity is in the house all the time and then adjust the humidifier to compensate for that. In fact, some of the better ones even have a thermometer that goes outside so they can calculate the difference between outside temperature and inside temperature and know exactly where the relative humidity is and then supplement that with the amount of moisture.

    So take a look at the humidifiers that are made by Aprilaire. I think that’s a good place to start.

    JIM: Alright. That’s great news. I appreciate that.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Jim. 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. Pick up the phone and give us a call. You’ve got a little bit of time left in this year and maybe you want to work on some projects quick, quick, quick before 2016. Well, whatever it is, we’re here to give you a hand. Just give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, winter is here. Can your pipes survive the cold? We’ve got easy, cheap ways to keep them from freezing, when The Money Pit returns 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: And if you pick up the phone and call us right now with your home improvement question, you might just win the Ring Wireless Video Doorbell.

    What a fantastic device. It’s the world’s first battery-operated, Wi-Fi-enabled, HD video doorbell. And it basically lets you see and speak with visitors from anywhere in the world by streaming that live audio and video of your doorstep – your front doorstep – directly to the iOS app or the iOS or Android app.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s really easy to set up because it mounts and syncs in minutes and it has a built-in battery. However, if you’ve got a hardwire doorbell, you can actually make it work through that existing doorbell wire.

    Now, you can get it at The Home Depot. It’s the destination for smart-home solutions and technology. They’ve got a lot of variety of brands and an expansive platform both in store and on HomeDepot.com. The prize for this hour, the Ring Wireless Video Doorbell, is worth $199.

    TOM: Going out to one caller drawn at random. Let’s get to it. The number again is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Elaine in Delaware is on the line with a bathroom-flooring question. How can we help you today?

    ELAINE: I purchased an older house and when we went to replace the toilet, we’d seen some of the linoleum on the floor sticking up. So we pulled up the linoleum and underneath, we’d seen it looked like was rotted. So we started pulling it up and there was hardwood floor underneath.

    So we decided we would stay with the hardwood floor. Now we can’t get the toilet to be flush, because we’re missing that linoleum and that subfloor.

    TOM: Well, there’s a product out that’s designed for almost this very situation. And it’s a toilet gasket that is not made of wax. It’s called Sani Seal – S-a-n-i S-e-a-l. And it’s a very thick gasket that takes the place of the wax seal. And because it’s so thick, it takes up that big gap that you’re dealing with. And it’s an excellent option for situations where you have taken the floor apart and now don’t have exactly the same flush floor that you had before.

    Take a look at their website. It’s SaniSeal.com – S-a-n-i-S-e-a-l. Very simple device. About an inch-and-change thick and really well-designed.

    ELAINE: OK. Well, that sounds great.

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

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

    WILLIAM: Well, I’ve got a wood stove in my living room. And I have my stovepipe coming out the back, through an elbow, going straight up about 5 or 6 feet and then got another 90-degree elbow. And it’s going through the wall, through an insulated piece of stovepipe, to the outside and then another 90-degree bend and going up about 4 or 5 feet to my – to the cap (inaudible at 0:11:00).

    TOM: You have three 90-degree bends in the wood-stove pipe?

    WILLIAM: One, two – yeah, got three in it. And what’s happening is right behind my wood stove, I have a big, 3×6-foot plate-glass window that’s framed in. And we’re getting some leakage of black creosote liquid. It’s condensation or water of some type. It’s got creosote in it. It is actually dripping down and running down the inside of the frame of the window.

    So the leak is in the – is inside the wall somewhere. And I have sealed and done everything that I possibly can and I don’t know how to stop this leak or what could be causing it or where to go from this point.

    TOM: So, does the pipe exit the wall above the window?

    WILLIAM: Yes, it does. Just above the window, to the left.

    TOM: Alright. Well, see, here’s what could be happening. First of all, I really don’t like the fact that you’ve got three 90-degree bends in this stovepipe. That’s a lot of resistance to kind of overcome. And also, with the three 90-degree bends, that pipe has lots of time to cool. And so the cooler the pipe gets, the more condensation you get. As the condensation forms inside the pipe, it basically washes down the pipe, comes out the seams of the pipe and carries away all of the charcoal debris that’s inside the pipe with it. So that’s probably the source.

    And I guess what I would be more tempted to do – it’s not so much the kind of thing where you’re finding a leak. I’d be more tempted to replace my stovepipe with at least a double-wall pipe that was insulated. Because then you’re not going to have that difference in temperature and it will – you will never have any of those kinds of condensation issues. And it’ll be a lot safer, too.

    My concern with that pipe is it’s really hard to clean and every time you have a 90-degree bend in a pipe, William, that’s equivalent, resistance-wise, to 20 foot of straight pipe.

    WILLIAM: Wow. So I might be better off just running that thing straight up through the roof rather than taking it out the side of the (audio gap).

    TOM: That’s the best thing to do, with an insulated pipe – a triple-walled, insulated pipe – straight up through the roof and out, without all those bends. Just make sure you’re following the National Fire Protection Association guidelines for this. Get it inspected. And I think you’re going to be a lot happier with it.

    William, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, anyone who’s dealt with them can tell you frozen, broken pipes are a really expensive headache. But the good news is that there are actually a few easy things that you can do to keep them from getting that way.

    LESLIE: Well, on very cold nights, you want to open the doors to any under-sink cabinets that are along your outside walls, which is most often your kitchen-sink cabinet. This is going to let the warm air in and that will prevent it from becoming a freezer underneath your sink which could, of course, lead to frozen pipes.

    TOM: That’s right. Now, next, you want to bundle up those pipes just like you do when you put on your coat. But the way you do it with pipes is easy. You just put insulation around the pipes in the unheated crawlspaces and attics and basements.

    Now, you can use foam tubes, which have sort of a slit that go down the side. They snap on the pipes. You can use fiberglass tubes or you can use fiberglass pipe wrap, which is kind of like a very thin piece of fiberglass. It’s on a roll and it’s easy to unwind and wrap it right around those pipes. And if you do that, it actually makes a really big difference in keeping those pipes warm and frost-free.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, another thing to remember is that crawlspaces and basement drafts, they can freeze uninsulated pipes in a matter of a few hours. Yeah, it can happen that fast. I don’t think people realize that. And once you find those drafts, you might want to consider using expanding foam – you know, one of those sealants – to seal off those drafty areas. And close your crawlspace vents for the coldest of months.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. So January, February, maybe December, keep those vents closed.

    And finally, even if you’re going away for a while, you want to make sure you keep your heat above 55 degrees all winter long. Even if you’ve left the house, turned off the main water valve, if you drop your heating way below that, you’re going to have some serious moisture problems, as well as a much higher risk of getting frozen, broken pipes waiting for you upon your return.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Heading over to Alabama now where Mary is trying to remove some old caulk from a bathroom fixture. What’s going on?

    MARY: Hi. I recently was trying to remove the caulk from around my bathtub and cannot get it removed.

    TOM: OK.

    MARY: I have purchased one of the tools at a home improvement store and it is so hard that it won’t remove. And I’m worried about scratching the bathtub and the edge if I get a razor blade.

    TOM: Have you ever used a paint remover to remove layers of paint?

    MARY: Yes.

    TOM: OK. Well, just like a paint remover will strip paint, there’s a product called a “caulk softener.” And the caulk softener gets applied to the caulk and it sort of reliquifies it, softens it up and makes it a lot easier for you to scrape it out.

    So you want to apply the caulk softener first. And once it works and softens the caulk, clean it really, really well. The next thing you want to do is take a bleach-and-water solution and wipe that seam down really well, because you want to kill any bacteria that’s in there. You want to make sure there’s no mold spores that are left behind.

    And the next thing that you want to do is fill the tub with water. We always caulk tubs when they’re full of water and here’s why: because when the caulk dries, the tub sort of comes back up. When you fill the tub with water, it sinks down. When you put the caulk in it, let the caulk dry and then let the water out of the tub, it comes back up and compresses the caulk and it’s not likely to fall out again or pull apart again at the seam, OK?

    So, those are the steps you want to follow. Start with a caulk softener, wipe it down with bleach and water, fill the tub with water, caulk it. When the caulk dries, let the tub water out and you’re good to go.

    MARY: Can you recommend a good caulk to replace it with?

    TOM: I would take a look at the DAP products that include Microban. Microban is an additive that stops any mold from growing inside the caulk.

    MARY: OK. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Mary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Larry in Ohio is on the line with a heating question. How can we help you?

    LARRY: Yes. I’ve got a house – it’s 6,000 square foot – and they divided the utilities up into two separate houses. And right now, I have a hot-water tank that we use all the time and we have a hot-water tank, that sits on the side that the kitchen is on, that is only used for the dishwasher.

    And I’m wondering, would I be better off to get me a tankless hot-water tank or just deal with the electric? I’ve got an electric, 50-gallon one. I don’t know which one would be more cost-efficient.

    TOM: So, the only thing that you’re using that water heater for, on that side of the house, is the dishwasher? And that’s a 50-gallon water heater?

    LARRY: Yes.

    TOM: Wow.

    LARRY: But like I say, this house was actually set up to be a bed and breakfast.

    TOM: If the only thing that water heater is serving is the dishwasher and there’s no way to get that dishwasher fed off of the other water heater, you just need a very small water heater for that dishwasher and I mean like a 20-gallon electric or something like that. Really small. Because there’s really not much water that it needs to heat and it would be foolish to have it heating 50 gallons, 40 gallons of water, 24-7, when you really don’t need it except to wash dishes and, I presume, to run the kitchen sink.

    So a very small electric water heater, perhaps even on a timer so that it only kicks on maybe in the evening hours when you’re using that dishwasher, would be the smart thing to do there and the least expensive way to both install the new water heater and to run the new water heater. OK?

    LARRY: OK. Actually, there’s two bathrooms that are also hooked to this but it’s just the idea right now – we’re not using it. We’ve got two bathrooms on the other side of the house, too.

    TOM: OK. Well, that’s different. That’s different. If you have two bathrooms – full bathrooms?

    LARRY: Yes. Full bathrooms.

    TOM: Well, then, OK, so that’s different. If there’s a full – two full bathrooms – I’d asked you if it was just the dishwasher and you said, “Yes.” But if it’s two full bathrooms on it, then you do need a larger water heater. And again, I would probably recommend – if you’re not using it that often, I’d probably recommend an electric water heater, in that situation, on a timer.

    LARRY: OK.

    TOM: But you’ll probably need more like a 40-gallon.

    LARRY: Actually, on the tankless ones, I’ve noticed the different amount of water per minute.

    TOM: Yeah, well – but you – do you have gas? Do you have natural gas?

    LARRY: I’ve got propane.

    TOM: You have propane? Well, you could use a tankless water heater. The installation cost will be a lot higher. It does deliver you, 24-7, endless supplies of hot water. Except in that side of the house, again, you’re not really using those bathrooms that much, so that’s not as big of a concern to you.

    That’s why I’m suggesting a minimum, inexpensive electric water heater for that. At least you’ll maintain your home value. Because if you didn’t have adequate – an adequate water heater to supply those two bathrooms plus the dishwasher, your home value would suffer. But I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you put in a $1,500 tankless, because I just don’t think it’s going to be cost-effective for you.

    LARRY: OK. That was my big question right there: would it be cost-effective (ph)?

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, is wallpaper the only thing standing between you and your dream room? Well, we’re going to share some tips for easy removal, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    ADAM: I’m Adam Carolla. I’ve built hundreds of houses and I can tell you how to avoid falling into that money pit: listen to Money Pit Radio with Tom and Leslie.

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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.

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    LESLIE: Heading over to Florida, where Peter has lost power in the bathroom.

    Peter, what’s going on and can you see what you’re doing?

    PETER: Yeah, I had a GFI go bad. And when I went to change it over, for some reason I couldn’t get any juice to the receptacle underneath the sink. So, I got juice to where I put the new one in but – so I went down to Home Depot – I listen to you folks all the time – and I got a new one. And the gentleman over there told me to find the hot wires go and put them on the receptacle where it says, “Line.” And then the other two hook up on the bottom of it.

    TOM: Peter, do you know that the ground-fault circuit worked properly and then it stopped working?

    PETER: Yes, sir.

    TOM: So it worked properly and then stopped working. Have you considered the fact that the ground-fault circuit interrupter could be doing its job and then there could be a problem elsewhere in the circuit?

    PETER: Yeah, I didn’t give a thought about that. No, I didn’t.

    TOM: So, I think that when ground-fault circuit interrupters start to trip, people say, “Oh, it must be a bad circuit breaker,” and they don’t consider the fact that the circuit breaker is, in fact, doing its job detecting a diversion of current to a ground source and tripping to prevent you from getting a shock.

    So, the solution wouldn’t be necessarily first to replace the ground fault. I would investigate further to see what exactly is happening and causing that to trip. I think, based on your description of what you’ve done thus far, that this might be just a little bit above your skill set. And while we can respect the fact that you’re doing this on your own, when it comes to electricity you want to get it right. And if you were to miswire that and in fact, perhaps, you – there are different ways to hook up ground faults. And if you do it one way, you can get it to trip and not protect the rest of the circuit. So, it would appear to be working correctly when, in fact, it wouldn’t.

    So this is not the kind of thing I would recommend that you do yourself, Peter, with all due respect. I would definitely have an electrician look at this because I suspect that the ground fault is doing its thing. They rarely go bad. And if it’s tripping, it’s probably tripping because something is going on elsewhere in the circuit.

    The ground faults will cover everything that’s on that circuit. So if you had, for example, a loose wire somewhere down the line and that was causing some sort of an arcing condition, that could trigger the ground fault to go off.

    So, contact an electrician. This is the kind of job that you should not do yourself, because I want to make sure that the problem is what you think it is and it gets properly fixed.

    Peter, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if wallpaper stands between you and your dream room, you’re not alone. Wallpaper removal is a dreaded task.

    TOM: But the right steps not only make it quicker and easier, they insure the smoothest possible results and make the next coat of paint or sheet of wallpaper that much easier to apply. Here to tell us more is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: So, removing wallpaper is one of those jobs that just has to get done sometimes and it’s rarely easy. But what’s the most efficient and effective way to tackle this task and why is it so important to do it right?

    KEVIN: Well, you are right about the fact that it is no fun to do. I’ve done it in the past. I don’t like it. In fact, I find it so tedious that I’m reluctant to even use wallpaper.

    LESLIE: Oh. But it’s so beautiful.

    KEVIN: I know but I always think about the fact that someone’s going to have to take it off eventually.

    I guess here are a couple of ways to think about it. The most common wall surface in American homes these days is drywall, right? And so, as you guys know, that’s gypsum and it’s got paper on both sides. So the wall that’s up there that we are putting wallpaper on has a paper base. So when it comes time to taking it off, we’re trying to remove that paper surface from a paper surface.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: So you actually have to do it right and make sure that you don’t damage the drywall in the process.

    And there are a couple tips that will help you do that. First of all, you want to think about scoring the wallpaper. You want to actually slice through it. They have scoring tools or a utility knife. Because you’re going to want to get some sort of a steam or some sort of a liquid behind the face of the wallpaper …

    TOM: Like a wallpaper remover, like …

    KEVIN: Like a wallpaper remover. Because it’s all put up there with glues, with adhesion, and you want to break that adhesion.

    So starting off by scoring it is a great way to go. Once it’s scored, you can apply steam to it so it will loosen up those glues. Start from the top, work your way down. Try to pull it off in the biggest sheets possible.

    TOM: Yeah. You don’t want to be picking off one little piece at a time.

    KEVIN: No, you don’t. And so the more you score, the more steam that’s going to get behind the wallpaper.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: But it also means …

    LESLIE: And the smaller the pieces.

    KEVIN: The smaller the pieces. So you have to kind of find that balance.

    TOM: The steaming really makes it easier to get off and I guess you can rent a wallpaper steamer pretty easily.

    KEVIN: You can go to the home center, you can rent these things by the day. Oftentimes they’re probably worth their weight in gold.

    Now, they may not always work or they may not do the complete job, so there’s a couple other things to think about. There are solutions there, wallpaper-removing solutions. You can make your own where you can actually use fabric softener, believe or not. Mix it with hot water, sort of a 1:1 ratio. Spray that up onto the wall. The trick there is work quickly. When the water’s warm, it’s working for you, so try to get that wallpaper off while the water’s warm and apply liberally.

    TOM: And once you have it off and the wallpaper is gone, now you have to sort of prep the walls for your next project, which is probably not to put on more wallpaper after having gone through all of that pain of removing the old stuff. What should you do to get the surface ready, say, for paint?

    KEVIN: Well, whether it’s paint or for new wallpaper, you do want to make sure that the surface you have is smooth and clean. And so one way to actually clean a wall where you’ve just stripped the wallpaper is by using distilled white vinegar mixed with water. That’s going to help you remove any of the glue that may have been left behind. You want to make sure that if you do that, that the surface is completely dry before you apply any primer or paint to that surface or any new wallpaper.

    LESLIE: Now, I know a lot of people want to cut corners and they’ll say, “Well, why can’t I just paint over my wallpaper or put the new paper over the old paper?” And that generally is a no-no.

    KEVIN: That is always a no-no.

    TOM: A really bad idea.

    KEVIN: It’s a really bad idea. For a guy who had to strip wallpaper with – three or four coats of wallpaper with paint on each one, I will hunt you down and find you if you paint over your wallpaper.

    It’s not a great idea because, eventually, the wallpaper may fail. And now your freshly-painted surface, it’s not going to look that great to begin with. But if that wallpaper that you’ve painted over ever comes off, now you’ve got a wall surface that’s completely ruined. So, my recommendation is live with the wallpaper you have or if you decide to paint, make sure you get it off in its entirety, clean that surface and then apply the paint.

    TOM: We’re talking to Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, about tips for removing wallpaper.

    Kevin, you work on a lot of old houses and many of those wallpaper projects that were done years ago include backing paper: kind of a second layer of paper that was underneath the decorative layer. Can you leave that in place or do you have to take that off, as well?

    KEVIN: Well, I think that the answer is it depends, you know? And in fact, we still use that backing paper today. We were on a project just two years ago and Tommy basically told the guy, “You’ve got to put the backing paper up,” because we had horsehair plaster walls. And you could spend a lifetime trying to fix those and make them perfectly flat or you can put that backing paper over the walls to give you a nice, smooth surface and then (inaudible at 0:29:12).

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s a little more forgiving.

    KEVIN: It’s a little more forgiving, absolutely. I guess the answer to your question, Tom, is once you get the wallpaper off, you really just have to inspect the backing paper. If it’s a clean surface that doesn’t have any imperfections, then you may be able to go over it with wallpaper. If it’s damaged in any way, unfortunately, I think you’re taking the backing paper off, as well, getting down to that bare wall surface.

    LESLIE: And that’s the same process as the first.

    KEVIN: That is the same process as the first.

    TOM: So it’s worth doing it once and doing it right so you don’t have to do it again.

    KEVIN: It’s always the case.

    TOM: Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, great advice as always. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Thank you, guys.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Up next, there’s a reason there’s not a song called “Undeck the Halls.” Taking down decorations is a hassle but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve got tips for quick and easy un-decorating, when The Money Pit returns after this.

    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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question, your decorating dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour we’re giving away a very cool prize. It’s the Ring Wireless Video Doorbell.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I love this. This is the world’s first battery-operated, WiFi-enabled, HD video doorbell which is going to enable you, as the homeowner, to see and speak with visitors at your home, on your front doorstep, from wherever in the world you are. So if you’re on vacation and somebody rings your doorbell, you can be like, “Hello, I just can’t answer the door right now,” even though you’re in Tahiti. I mean how cool is that and how awesome that you’re in Tahiti?

    It’s a really great prize and it works great. It streams live audio and video and it’s directly to a free app that’s for Apple or Android systems. So it’s a great prize.

    TOM: It’s got a built-in motion sensor, too, that detects movement up to 30 feet. So you pretty much know who’s walking up on your house at any time. It’s available at The Home Depot. The Home Depot is the destination for smart-home solutions and technology, with a huge variety of brands and expansive platforms both in store and online.

    It’s worth 199 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, for all the preparation and the buildup, holidays fly by fast. And feeling like you just hung the decorations up yesterday can make un-decorating even less fun.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But undecking the halls doesn’t have to be a headache. You can take steps that are going to save you time and some trouble when you roll out those decorations again next year.

    TOM: Yep. So first, you want to assess what you have and purchase any replacements that you need, especially while all those post-Christmas sales are driving the décor cost way down.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And don’t pack away anything before you examine it first for damage. So replace any burned-out bulbs on your lighting strings and check for frayed wires. Because if it’s not usable for next year, why save it?

    TOM: Yeah. One way to make sure your lights are in good shape next season is to store them carefully. So what you want to do is cut cardboard into 12-inch by 9-inch pieces and then wrap the light strings around them. This will keep the lights really orderly and also easier to work with next year. And it’ll protect them from damage because they won’t get all tangled up as easily.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? To make things easier to work with, try storing your holiday decorations in clear plastic bins. This way you can see exactly what’s inside. There’s specialized storage cases and bags for artificial wreaths and faux greenery. And that’s going to help protect your decorations for years of use.

    TOM: Yeah. I think the key is to start a seasonal rotation. You’ll thank yourself come spring. Once your winter holiday boxes are packed, you can move them to the back of your storage area and then bring those spring decorations forward for easy access. And the next season celebrations will be here before you know it and you’ll be totally good to go.

    888-666-3974. We are good to go to answer your home improvement questions, so give us a call right now.

    LESLIE: Stuart is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?

    STUART: I’m wondering at what point in a house life should you look at the insulation in your attic and reinsulating?

    TOM: Well, if you have insulation that’s old and you notice that it’s sort of sagging and compressed and no longer fluffy, at that point I would remove the insulation and replace it. If you’ve got insulation that’s still pretty fluffy and it holds a lot of air but you just don’t have enough of it, then you can add additional layers on top of that.

    You do that with unfaced fiberglass batts. You lay them in perpendicular to the existing insulation to try to get up to that, say, 15- to 20-inch level of insulation. Because at that level, you’re going to be super insulated and it’s really going to make a big savings in your heating costs.

    STUART: OK. But if it’s flat, it needs – remove before you put further insulation on top of it. It needs to have a little bounce to it, I guess.

    TOM: If it’s old and it’s flat and it’s compressed and it’s sagging, then I would take it out and start from scratch.

    STUART: Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Stuart. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, are laminate wood floors a good idea for laundry rooms and bathrooms or are they a recipe for disaster? We’ll tell you, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Glisten. Glisten makes it easy to clean, freshen and maintain your dishwasher, disposer, microwave and washing machine. So improve the performance of your appliances with cleaning solutions from Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts. Visit GlistenCleaners.com.

    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: Hey, are you looking to cut heating costs this winter? Well, start by sealing up drafts. It’s a very inexpensive, do-it-yourself project if you do it right. You can find out how on our home page, right now, online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And you know what else is a pretty easy do-it-yourself project if you pick the right material? That’s flooring. And I’ve got a post here from Rosie who writes: “We’re remodeling our laundry room, which is also our guest half-bath. Is laminate wood flooring safe under a washing machine or is ceramic tile better? Expense is an issue.”

    TOM: You know, either material will work fine. The laminate flooring, it’s not really wood; it’s really laminate. It’s really a plastic – melamine and plastic.

    LESLIE: Is there no wood dust in the glue?

    TOM: I don’t think so. I mean I guess you could argue that the medium-density fiberboard has cellulose in it. But it’s so dimensionally stable that I’ve seen this stuff even in floods and it doesn’t swell. So, I think that the laminate floor is a good choice for a laundry room. Certainly less expensive and a lot less hassle than doing a ceramic tile floor.

    What you might want to do is put anti-vibration pads under your washing machine. That will help keep it quieter, as well, as it operates, no matter what kind of floor you put down.

    LESLIE: And potentially taking a walk across the room.

    TOM: Yeah. And potentially taking a walk. That’s right. Even if – if it’s out of balance, that can definitely happen. We’ve been using those for years and it really did quiet down the machine. Even when the machine is new, it’s still quieter than it would be if you didn’t have that. Because ours is on a second floor and before we had that, man, you could really hear it no matter where you were in the house. So, it’s a good thing to do.

    So I think that’s a great choice, laminate floor. Even engineered hardwood, if you want to have something that’s a little bit more attractive but not quite as expensive as tile, is a good option, as well.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post from Roy who writes: “I have a ranch built in 1963. I recently built an addition which is well-insulated and sided with natural shingles. Now I need to insulate the exterior of the original home. I could sand the shingles and blow-in insulation but I’m concerned that the insulation will settle. The other option I’ve considered is to remove the old shingles, which I’d prefer not to do because they’re in good shape, and put foam-sheeting insulation underneath the new shingles. What do you think is most efficient?”

    TOM: Well, first things first, Roy. Before you go through all this trouble with respect to the wall insulation, you want to make sure that you have enough ceiling insulation. Because the amount of heat lost through your ceiling far, far exceeds that heat loss that’s going to happen at the wall, even a well-insulated wall. So go up in your attic and check. If you don’t have 19 to 22 inches of insulation there, you need to add that, first, as that’s going to deliver the biggest return on investment.

    Now, as for the walls, blown-in insulation is a good option. And if it’s done professionally, there’s really little risk of settlement being an issue because all of that stuff is easy to measure. They drill holes, usually, on the inside of your house or it could be on the outside. They blow in the insulation and then using infrared cameras, you can actually see which parts of the wall are insulated and which are not. You can blow the insulation in under a little bit of pressure so that it fills all the nooks and crannies. And if any place is missing, you could put a second hole there to kind of get that area.

    We’ve got more tips on these projects on our website at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Roy? You’re on the right track. Insulation really does make a huge difference.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Happy Holidays, everyone. I hope that you are having a wonderful week. Remember, we are here 24/7. If something breaks down, doesn’t matter what time of the day or night, you can call us and we will get back to you the next time we are in the studio.

    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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