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How to Stop Vinyl Siding Leaks, Getting Your Car’s Tires Cleaner Than Ever, and the Hottest New Kitchen Countertops

  • 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: It’s a great day to pick up the tools and get to work. What a nice fall weekend we’re having. If you’ve got a project planned around your money pit, pick up the phone first and call us at 888-666-3974. That’s 888-MONEY-PIT. If there’s a do-it-yourself project and you don’t know where to start, give us a call. Or perhaps it’s a job that you don’t want to do yourself. We can help you with that, too, especially when it comes time to find a contractor. That can be a real daunting challenge. We’ll have some tips to help you do just that, at 888-666-3974.

    Hey, coming up in this hour of the program, have you ever looked up in your house and noticed sort of a gray spot on your ceiling and maybe it just seems to never go away? Well, that might very well be a leak. And the cause of that leak might not necessarily be your roof. We’ll have tips to help you find and fix those tricky leaks, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And speaking of things that leak, have you ever seen that fuzzy, white stuff growing on your home’s foundation or your chimney and wondered, “Ugh, is that mold?” Well, we’ve got easy DIY tricks for finding out.

    TOM: And also ahead, European trends often set the stage for American kitchens. And it turns out it might be time to say goodbye to granite. We’ve got the lowdown on the six hottest countertop finishes hitting kitchens in Europe, coming up.

    LESLIE: And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour wins a prize pack from Dust-Off to help make cleanup a breeze. We’ve got Shop Mate Wipes. They are super tough, I mean really tough enough to clean dirt, grease, grime and latex paint from work surfaces, tools and even your hands.

    TOM: That prize package is worth 48 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone, call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Bob in Louisiana is on the line with a haunted attic. Wooooh! What kind of crazy noises are you hearing from up there?

    BOB: Hey, Leslie. It sounds like a compressor coming on. I have searched that place from one end to the other. The house has been empty – been vacant for about two years. It’s my mother-in-law’s home. And we moved furniture out recently. We even had a plumber come out and look at it. When you hear the noise, you can reach over behind the washing machine and feel the pipes and feel the vibration in the lines. I thought maybe somebody had left a compressor upstairs but nothing doing. And it’s adjacent to one of the water heaters. I have three 60-gallon electric heaters upstairs.

    TOM: So, you say, Bob, that you feel the vibration in the plumbing lines when you sort of touch them?

    BOB: You bet. Yes, sir.

    TOM: And are you on city water or are you on well water?

    BOB: We are on city water.

    TOM: Sometimes if you have a bad main valve, you can get sort of a vibration as the water forces its way through the valve, especially if it’s not completely open. I wonder if the water company might be consulted in this case and have them check the main valve, have them close it and then completely reopen it.

    The other thing that comes to mind that might have nothing to do with plumbing is, because you mentioned this is in the attic, is sometimes with attic ventilation – and I don’t know what kind of vents you have, whether you have ridge vents or soffit vents or roof vents. But sometimes, we’ve seen situations – in fact, in my own kitchen, I’ve got a kitchen that’s a one-story section of the house. And when the wind blows over from a certain direction, I get a noise. It’s not a whistling but it is a very low-pitch kind of hum, almost like a vibration-like sound into that attic. And I know it’s because of the vents. It’s the wind just sort of working their way over the vents and causing a little bit of friction there. And it’s leaving that sound behind.

    BOB: OK. I do have ridge vents in it. And so I’ll pay attention to that, too.

    TOM: Yeah, it could be the turbulence.

    BOB: The main valve is one thing that I had not even thought about. You guys are great.

    TOM: Alright, Bob. Well, you let us know if it worked and then we’ll accept the fact that we’re great, OK? But we’re glad we were able to give you some ideas. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to remote Alaska where Lonnie has an igloo question. I don’t think we’ve ever talked about an igloo.

    LONNIE: OK. Well, we have the opportunity to purchase a monolithic dome, which is – it looks like an igloo.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    LONNIE: And when we were touring it – it’s only a 20-foot in diameter. But they did have a dehumidifier inside. And on the outside, it had just been painted with a – like a vinyl paint. A thicker paint? And there were bubbles on the outside. And I took a knife and poked it and water drained out. So I’m wondering if there’s a condensation problem, especially for mold, and what it would take to remedy that.

    TOM: So what is this dome constructed out of? Is the entire thing concrete or what’s it made out of?

    LONNIE: It is concrete.

    TOM: Well, listen, you’ve got to have some sort of a system to try to manage moisture in a space like that. Because let’s face it, first of all, concrete is very hydroscopic. So water that will get into that concrete at the base, where it comes in contact with the soil, it’ll draw up into the concrete surface and essentially saturate the entire thing. If there’s bad drainage, it can get worse. But I could definitely see how it would stay very, very damp.

    The moisture that you are seeing inside that paint is clear evidence of the fact that this structure is holding a lot of water. Now, it could draw it from the soil or it could just be from the humidity in the air that’s getting into the walls. So, it definitely has to be managed and it sounds like just a dehumidifier by itself may not be the answer. You might need to really have an HVAC pro design a system that could manage that moisture.

    And in terms of the paint itself, you also have to choose a paint that is designed to stick well to concrete. You mentioned this is a really thick paint. We’ve seen a lot of paints out there that claim to be sort of almost like a liquid siding that are very thick. But the problem is that they’re not vapor-permeable, so they don’t breathe. As a result, everything stays underneath it and then when you see those bubbles and the water is just forming right there, it’s just going to continue to push that right off. And I imagine when it gets really, really cold, it’ll probably freeze and expand and crack that paint, basically making it worthless.

    So I think you have reason to be concerned. And I would definitely – if there’s a good, professional home inspector in that area that could look at it for you, that might be a pro to start with. But I definitely think you’re going to need to have an expert design a system that works for that.

    You know, typically, when you paint concrete, you want to use an epoxy-based paint that has really high adhesion and really strong durability. But it sounds to me like this paint that they used, in this case, was not that type of paint.

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

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Pick up the phone and give us a call. Whatever you are working on in this wonderful autumn weekend, we are here to give you hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are wet walls and floors in your future? We’ll have tips to help you troubleshoot costly ceiling leaks before they start. That and more 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: If you’re a messy DIYer, you want to call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Because we’ll give you the answer to your home improvement question, plus a chance at winning a great prize to keep things clean around your house.

    We’ve got a prize pack from Dust-Off and it includes the Shop Mate Wipes and Shop Mate Dusters. Basically, what these are is they remove grease, paint, dirt with one quick wipe and they’ll save you some time during the cleanup process.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I love it because you’ll actually spend more time on the project than you do cleaning up, which sometimes happens. But not with the Shop Mate Wipes. I mean they’re really great. They’re going to dispense right from a handy, upright tub and you’re going to get 40 premoistened wipes right there.

    You’re also going to get the Dust-Off Shop Mate Duster and that will help you get rid of dust and debris from all of the hard-to-reach work areas.

    TOM: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Nick in Rhode Island is on the line and needs some help converting a sunporch into a guest room. How can we help you?

    NICK: It was actually a previous homeowner that already transformed it into a bedroom.

    LESLIE: Oh, you’re not taking any credit for this.

    NICK: No, no. I think it was a terrible idea, personally, just because there’s 6 windows in an 8×10 room.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s a sunporch.

    NICK: It was a sunporch. I guess they decided to slap up some sheetrock and call it a “bedroom.” But there’s also an entryway in it, as well, and it’s just sapping all the heat out of my house. All of it. I cannot keep my house regulated, temperature-wise, at all. And I just – I’m not quite sure what to do.

    TOM: Why do you say it’s zapping heat? Because it’s cold and it’s drawing off a lot of the heat that you’re generating in the rest of the house?

    NICK: Yeah. My thermostat – although I should say the heat will always remain on because it senses that the house is not heating up. And it’s because if you walk in that – even that side of the house, it’s freezing cold.

    TOM: Where is the thermostat located?

    NICK: Outside of that room.

    TOM: That’s part of your problem right there. You may need to relocate that thermostat to more of the central area of the house where you’re really trying to regulate, so that the heat is where it needs to be in that part of the house. And then in the sunroom, you might need to add some supplemental heat.

    And the easiest way to do that is to add, say, some electric-resistance baseboard just to kind of top off the heat that’s not getting there from the rest of the house. It’s the most expensive kind of heat to run but the idea here is you would only use it on the coldest days.

    NICK: Now, my question would be: would that be more cost-efficient than, let’s say, tearing out those windows and putting in – it is insulated with that blue foam-board insulation, the walls in there. But if I tore the windows out and put the pink, fluffy stuff – I’m sorry with the terms I’m using; I just don’t know what everything’s officially called.

    TOM: Fiberglass, OK.

    NICK: Yeah, the big, fluffy stuff. Would that, in terms of that and those baseboards you said, which one would be more cost-effective long-term?

    TOM: In the best-case scenario, you would have those walls insulated. But I think one of your core problems is the fact that you’ve got the house thermostat located, which is – on what has essentially become an exterior wall. That’s why it’s not behaving properly. You need to get that thermostat securely mounted to an interior wall, where it can basically read the average temperature in the house and tell your heat to come on accordingly.

    NICK: Alright, alright.

    TOM: So do that first. Then everything else that you do will improve the energy efficiency of that space.

    NICK: Boy, that thermostat really needs to be moved.

    TOM: I think so.

    NICK: Alright, alright. Well, I appreciate the help.

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

    So, for a while now, the most popular countertop finish has been natural stone or granite, right? It looks and it costs high-end and it does stand up to a lot of wear and tear, which is why it’s been a top choice for so many years.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But that may change soon. You know, at the Eurocucina trade event in Milan, Italy, some new trends emerged, including a tempered-glass countertop, which really gives it a super sleek, modern look. It’s thick but it’s translucent. And despite what you might think, it’s really tough and it comes in a ton of colors.

    TOM: Now, another material that we’re seeing is ceramic. Now, it’s sort of warm to the touch, it’s scratch-resistant and it does play well with other finishes, like wood. And speaking of wood, the traditional butcher block is being replaced with solid wood in every species you can think of, including mahogany and bamboo.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And stainless steel is also hot and that’s really taking a front seat for industrial-style kitchens. And on the plus side, it’s easy to clean and sanitize. And something very unusual: one company has created a counter made with what they call “nanotech materials.” Now, the company touts that these counters are anti-reflective, anti-fingerprint, self-healing and soft to the touch.

    TOM: Wow. That’s a pretty bold statement. I like the idea of countertops being self-healing but you’ve got to wonder if that includes simple damage, like knife cuts. Or what happens when you set a hot pot on it? How many times have we gotten calls with folks looking for the miracle cure for a burned countertop and it just doesn’t exist?

    Well, lastly, tile may seem old school but it’s actually taking a new twist with seamless, groutless looks in new materials. So a lot of new finishes coming out of Europe in countertops. You can expect to see those in our local design showrooms in the next few weeks.

    LESLIE: Sylvia in Ohio is on the line and clearly spilled some glue somewhere. What’s going on?

    SYLVIA: No, I didn’t spill glue. We have – our carpet in our kitchen is glued down like 20 years ago.

    LESLIE: Did you say carpeting in your kitchen?

    SYLVIA: Yes, they used glue to put the carpet down. So my question is: how do we get it off the floor without tearing the whole floor out?

    TOM: What kind of flooring was it glued over? Is it hardwood?

    SYLVIA: No, just …

    TOM: Plywood?

    SYLVIA: Yes, uh-huh.

    TOM: Some sort of subfloor? So, really, you don’t have to get it completely off; you just have to kind of get it smooth so you can put whatever kind of flooring down you want to do over that.

    What kind of flooring do you want to end up with, Sylvia?

    SYLVIA: We want to put hardwood over it or on it.

    TOM: So, what you should do is get a citrus adhesive remover. There’s a number of different citrus-based adhesive removers. They’re not as caustic as some of the other adhesive removers. And what it will do is soften that adhesive. And your goal here is just to get any of the sort of the thicker, chunkier areas removed so that what you could do is put down another layer of plywood – an underlayment of plywood – say, like a ¼-inch luan or something like that. Then on top of that, you could install your hardwood floor.

    There’s lots of options with the hardwood floor. You can use engineered hardwood, which is thinner but very, very beautiful. And it’s more dimensionally stable and it would be probably a better choice for a kitchen. Because if you put regular hardwood down and you ever had a big leak, spilled a pot of anything, it will swell up and become damaged. But if you use engineered, it’s much more stable and resistant to any type of swelling when it gets damp or wet.

    SYLVIA: Oh, that’s great. Thank you.

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

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

    STAN: I’m at the end of my – remodeling my house.

    TOM: OK.

    STAN: And installed the new dishwasher because after the remodel, we’ll put it up for sale. And when I put the dishwasher in, I noticed we started getting an odor out of the dishwasher that I didn’t have before.

    TOM: Hmm. OK. And this is a brand-new dishwasher?

    STAN: Brand-new dishwasher, yes.

    TOM: Well, I wonder what kind of nasty debris would have collected so quickly. But here is what I would suggest. There’s a product on the market that is a dishwasher cleaner. It’s made by a company called Glisten. And it’s called Dishwasher Magic.

    And it is quite easy to use. It’s essentially a bottle where you loosen the cap, turn it upside down and put it in your dishwasher as it if it were another piece of glassware to wash. And the cleaner comes out during the wash cycle and completely scrubs and cleans and disinfects the dishwasher. In fact, it’s the only EPA-registered dishwasher cleaner. And I’ve used it at my house and it works really well. And it was quite amazing how bright and shiny and clean and odor-free the dishwasher was at the end of the cycle.

    STAN: OK. That’s Glisten, right?

    TOM: Yep. Glisten Dishwasher Magic. You can find it in your local supermarkets and home centers. Go to their website at GlistenCleaners.com. They have coupons there and a list of a whole bunch of stores where it’s available.

    STAN: OK. Appreciate it. I’ll try that.

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

    LESLIE: Natasha in Missouri is on the line with a molding question. What can we do for you today?

    NATASHA: Our house is about 11 years old and the interior walls – the sheetrock or the drywall – is finished with a nice, round, bullnose corner, so it doesn’t come to a right angle, so to speak. And just through wear and tear with kids and dogs, we have found several dents appearing. And I’m wondering if you have ideas on how we might repair that or if we are going to have to just replace that whole corner edging. Any thoughts?

    TOM: Yeah. I mean is this like the metal rounded corner?

    NATASHA: I think it’s metal. I tap on it and it sounds plasticky but it might be metal, which would explain the dents.

    TOM: Why not just plaster over those?

    NATASHA: I thought about that. Some of them are just little dimples but I don’t know if I can successfully fill and sand and patch. But that’s one thought we’ve had.

    TOM: Yeah. You could skim-coat it. And the other thing that you could do, if it’s a crisp dent, is you can use auto-body filler. We use that on metal doors, like metal doors that have dents in it and that sort of thing. It’s just a little harder to sand. But if it’s just the outside corner on drywall, you could use spackle for that. Build it up and then sand it. It sands really easily. You’re just going to have to prime it and repaint it.

    NATASHA: Yeah?

    TOM: Shouldn’t be a big deal.

    NATASHA: Great. Well, that’s exciting. Some other advice I’d had was to replace the whole corner, so I love your suggestion much, much more.

    TOM: Well, you can always do that but why don’t we try the easy stuff first?

    NATASHA: Maybe in the bedrooms where it’s not so obvious. We’ll try that first, so …

    TOM: Then you can practice and you’ll get good at it.

    NATASHA: That’s right. Hey, thanks so much. I really appreciate your help.

    LESLIE: Are you and your ceiling dreading the next big storm? Well, the only thing tougher than cleaning up after a leak is figuring out where it’s made its way in in the first place. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House has got the most common causes you haven’t even thought of, when The Money Pit continues.

    TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by the STANLEY Smart-Measure Pro. Bluetooth-enabled for quick and easy measurements, right from your smartphone. Snap, measure, share.

    ADAM: Hey, this is Adam Carolla. And when I’m not swinging a hammer, I’m catching up on The Money Pit with Tom and Leslie.

    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: Well, have you made your list and checked it twice? Or maybe you haven’t even thought about shopping yet. Either way, the holidays are upon us and they are some of the best times to pick up home improvement supplies and gear for less, if you know where to go and how. We’ve got home improvement holiday-shopping tips that will get you the most bang for your buck, coming up on our home page at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Joyce in Illinois who’s having a flooring issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOYCE: Well, a few years ago, I put down a new kitchen floor – Congoleum DuraCeramic kitchen floor. And it has all these marks and things on it that I had a guy come out and look at it and he said it was a problem from the factory. And I thought they were going to replace it and they never did replace it for me. And I was just wondering, what do I put down? I have home day care and I was wondering what I could put down to stand up to my home day care and still look nice.

    TOM: Laminate works really well and it’s gotten less expensive. It’s easier to install.

    Laminate floor is – can look like vinyl, it can look like stone, it can look like wood. It can look like anything. And it’s basically made of a medium-density fiberboard and then a color layer which has the pattern of the stone or whatever it is on it. And then the laminate is on top of that. So, basically, it’s a sandwich.

    And while people are comparing – would compare laminates to, say, a laminate countertop, like a Formica, a laminate floor is actually about 100 times more durable because they put more protection on it. Yeah, I’ve had a laminate floor down in my house, which is a very old house, for about 10 years. And it looks as good as the day we put it down, so I know it stands up well.

    JOYCE: Well, I know I have day care and the kids are throwing toys around and everything else.

    TOM: Sure. Absolutely.

    JOYCE: Yeah.

    TOM: Kids, dogs, toys, furniture. Yeah, I would take a look at laminates. Tough stuff and easy to clean.

    JOYCE: OK. OK.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s one of the biggest fears a homeowner faces: the telltale water signs that let you know you’ve got a leak somewhere. But the trick is determining where that leak is coming from so you can deal with it.

    TOM: This Old House general contractor Tom Silva has handled many a leak in his day. And he’s here now with tips on identifying and fixing a very common type of leak, one that stems from leaking vinyl siding.

    Welcome, Tom.

    TOM SILVA: Thanks, guys. Nice to be here.

    TOM: So, is vinyl siding any more or less leaky than any other type of siding?

    TOM SILVA: Well, vinyl siding, like all siding, should be installed correctly so that it doesn’t leak. It’s the raincoat that covers your building. If it’s got a hole in it, you’ve got a problem.

    TOM: Yeah, good point.

    So I guess the first issue is trying to figure out where it’s leaking and perhaps ruling out other types of leaks that could be causing this?

    TOM SILVA: Right. It could be a plumbing leak, it could be a window leak or it could be a roof leak. You’ve got to look at the location of the staining and what is above that leak or what’s above that area.

    For example, if you’ve got a stain in the ceiling, is there a bathroom up there?

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: So it may be from a toilet or it may be from a sink or it may be from a tub.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But I feel like with water, you know, it always seems to follow the path of least resistance. So, you could have a leak one place and the stain could shop up somewhere completely opposite of that. So you’ve got to be a detective.

    TOM SILVA: Very true. Water will find the path of least resistance if – for example, it will just run down and then when it wants to exit, it will.

    But you want to try to rule out things. And ruling out the bathroom or the window or the roof is the starting point.

    TOM: Now, the other issue with water is it could be wind-driven, so it may be one of these types of leaks that just shows up when the rain is blowing in from the north or something.

    TOM SILVA: The right direction, yeah. And it’s true: it is a lot – that happens a lot. That happens a lot. I mean a house that’s built in windy conditions can leak more in the sidewall than it can – because you have to build that house differently.

    TOM: Alright. So you know you’ve got a leak; you’re pretty sure it’s on, say, one particular side of the house. What is your first go-to place to look for a leak? Where is the weakest link? Is it around a window? Where?

    TOM SILVA: Alright. It’s a vinyl-sided house and there’s a leak and the stain is on the first floor. The first thing I look at is the room location. Then I go outside and I look at the room and the window location upstairs. And then I think, “OK, I know where that stain is. There’s a window down here, there’s a window up there and I know that that’s where the stain is, right below the second-floor window.”

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: So then I get a ladder, I go up there and I find out that the J-channel hasn’t been connected to the trim channel correctly. So, when I say that, it means that a good siding job is caulked behind the J-channel, where it meets the trim.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: And you want to make sure that you use the right type of caulking. You want a caulking that could be a butyl caulking, it could be a tripolymer caulking, polyurethane, something that will stick and expand and contract like the vinyl.

    TOM: Yeah, let’s talk about that J-channel, Tom, because that really is a critical area for vinyl siding. If you get it wrong, it’s going to leak.

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely. And that J-channel actually looks like a letter J and it goes around all the trim, like your window or your cornerboards or wherever you’re going to end that siding. You have to hide the end. The reason you have to hide the end is because that siding is going to expand and contract. And that joint at the end of the siding, where it meets the window, if you don’t have a J-channel, it’ll open up.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s the key because vinyl, unlike other sidings, does have a pretty big range of expansion and contraction.

    TOM SILVA: Around the window, that J-channel is the covering to allow for the movement of the siding. The siding also has an overlap of the joints in the field. And that joint in the field should be covered by about an inch-and-a-half. That’s a big deal. That allows for it to really move a lot.

    So if those things aren’t done correctly, the siding can leak, with the right conditions.

    TOM: Now, because siding is assembled from the bottom up, does repairing it really require you to disassemble from the top down?

    TOM SILVA: You can go anywhere you want on a siding wall. It’s the easiest product there is to repair, replace or tighten up. And it’s done with a zip tool. You just go in there and snap it free, pop the siding off and do your correction.

    TOM: So the zip tool, essentially, unzips the siding pieces wherever you want?

    TOM SILVA: Yep, yep. You just start at the joint. You put the zip tool up there. It’s just a little hook. You pull down on the siding, slide it by and the siding pops off. You then pick up the siding, pull the nails from the sheet below and snap them down.

    LESLIE: And does that damage the piece that you’ve taken off in any way? Or can you reuse that piece in its original place?

    TOM SILVA: You can reuse that piece, absolutely.

    TOM: Now, sometimes when we’re looking for a leak, we may try to reproduce it by using a garden hose. Do you ever go that far?

    TOM SILVA: I have gone that far, usually on a roof but not on a sidewall. Because you can usually spot it. If the siding isn’t nailed correctly, it’s too loose. A lot of people put siding up and they may put one nail every 2 or 3 feet, because they figure it’s not heavy. Well, it’s not correct. The siding is too loose off the wall and they don’t allow enough for the movement of the siding. Or they allow too much for the movement of the siding and it’s too tight.

    TOM: So the flip side of that is you could nail it too tight and then the siding sort of buckles. And I guess that could open up gaps for leaks, too.

    TOM SILVA: Absolutely. What I meant by it’s too tight, it can also push against the J-channel, causing it to form. Now, the J-channel is the channel that goes around any trim: windows, doors, cornerboards, whatever.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: And it has to be done correctly. So, like I say, a good bead of caulking behind that J-channel is very important.

    LESLIE: Now, if we’re looking for a roof leak, obviously it’s going to be on your top level on the ceiling. But have you ever seen the water sort of travel to a wall side to sort of make it a little bit more tricky to indicate that it’s the roof?

    TOM SILVA: I have seen a roof leak on one side of the roof go all the way to the middle of the house. And it’s amazing that the water will just come in. It actually was blown in on the – near the top of the roof, on the gable end, underneath the shingle. And when the wind was right, it would blow the water under the shingle and it would just follow down, like a set of stairs, on the shingles and get right into that. And it would leak always in the same spot.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: Crazy.

    TOM: So you really have to be quite a detective to figure out exactly what the source of this leak is. It’s easy to know where it ends up. But getting to the source, that’s an entirely different matter, which we are so pleased that you’ve been able to come and share that with us today.

    Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’sThis Old House, thank you so much for stopping by our money pit and teaching us how to keep it leak-free.

    TOM SILVA: It’s always nice to be here, guys. Good to see you.

    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 and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.

    Still ahead, learn how to get easy access, in and out of your home, when you’re on wheels, when we tell you which sliding-glass doors and strollers are wheelchair-friendly, 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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance to win a great prize, which this hour is the Dust-Off Prize Pack, including Shop Mate Wipes.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The Shop Mate Wipes, they’re amazing, guys. You know, they’re thick and durable and I mean durable enough for really tough cleaning on the jobs, like most surfaces. But they’re gentle enough so you can use them on your hands. So they’re really the ultimate cleaning companion for any workshop or home improvement project.

    TOM: The Shop Mate Wipes dispense from a handy, upright tub that includes 40 premoistened wipes. This prize package is worth 48 bucks. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    So, we are big believers in the philosophy that you can do it yourself, not only at home but also when it comes to your car. Maintaining your vehicle is just as important as keeping up your home.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But now you can shop for all your car-cleaning supplies, accessories and even everything you need for an oil change at The Home Depot. We’re helping spread the word and we even have some advice on how to do the job right when it comes to cleaning your car’s tires.

    TOM: Wheels and tires should be cleaned before you clean and protect your car’s paint. Try Barrett-Jackson Premium Wheel Cleaner that sprays on and hoses off, to remove brake dust, grime and dirt fast. It works with a deep, penetrating, foaming action and minimal scrubbing.

    LESLIE: Yeah. With growing demand in store and online, The Home Depot has increased its automotive selection to become a destination in cleaning, accessories and everything needed for an oil change.

    TOM: Look for Barrett-Jackson Premium Wheel Cleaner in the new auto section at The Home Depot near you and online at HomeDepot.com.

    LESLIE: Marlene in Iowa is dealing with some winter window issues. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARLENE: We had our siding and our windows replaced a couple years ago. And ever since we replaced the siding and the windows, in the wintertime when we turn the furnace on and get the heat started in the house, every morning when we get up, every window in the house has moisture buildup at the bottom of the window and even to the point where it makes little pools on the windowsills. So we have to go around to every window and take a towel and dry all that moisture off the bottom of the window and out of the windowsills.

    TOM: Well, the good news is you have to – you’re cleaning your windows every day, so they never get dirty.

    MARLENE: Thanks.

    TOM: So, the reason that’s happening is because your windows are not insulated very well. Are these thermal-pane windows?

    MARLENE: They were supposed to be. They were supposed to be very good windows but we had trouble with the siding that the guy put on, so I suppose he sold us a cheap window along with the siding that we had problems with.

    TOM: You see, the reason that you’re getting this condensation is because when it’s cold outside, the warm, moist air strikes the inside of the glass and it condenses. And so you probably have high humidity inside your house.

    There’s a couple of things we can do to try to reduce that. But if you don’t have good, insulated window glass, that problem gets really pretty bad. It can actually add up, as you discovered, to quite a bit of water.

    So, the fix, unfortunately, is to replace your windows, which is expensive. So what I would suggest that you do is take a look at all of the reasons that you get high humidity inside of a house. So, you get humidity from activities that people do: cooking, cleaning and bathing.

    Make sure that if you have exhaust fans in your bathrooms, that you have the fans, they’re ducted out of the house and that they’re run on timers so that when you’re done with showers and baths, they can continue to run for 15 or 20 minutes to pull that moisture out. Make sure that you have an exhaust fan over your range, of course, that’s also, again, ducted out and not a recirculating.

    Make sure that around the foundation perimeter of your house that your grading is adjusted properly. You want to make sure that soil slopes away from the walls and that your gutters and downspouts are extended. Because believe it or not, if they’re not – if the gutters are not clean, they’re not extended, if the grading is too flat, that water is going to collect in the soil around the outside of your house. It will be drawn into the foundation and then it will be wicked out of the air on the other side and work its way up through the house, increasing humidity the whole way.

    So, simply by making sure you keep water away from the house, you’ll reduce humidity inside the house. Does that make sense?

    MARLENE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: So that’s why it’s happening. Those are the few things that you can do inside to reduce the amount of humidity that you have.

    MARLENE: Alright. Well, you’ve been very helpful. At least I kind of understand what’s going on. Thank you and I enjoy your show.

    LESLIE: Coming up, that fuzzy, white growth on walls and chimneys? Is it mold or isn’t it? We’re going to tell you the DIY trick for finding out, 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. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, are your design visions bigger than your design budget? Happens to all of us, guys. There are plenty of ways to make a little spending go a long way. From wallet-friendly wall paneling to tricks that would make any interior designer proud, check out Money Pit’s “50 Design Projects for Under $50.” They are all right now on the home page at MoneyPit.com. Get ready to be inspired, guys.

    TOM: That’s MoneyPit.com. You can also post your question to our Community section. Emily says, “There’s a fuzzy, white growth on my basement walls. Is that mold?”

    You know, that’s a really common question, Emily. We typically hear from folks that are concerned about mold but the truth is is it’s just not mold. It’s most likely mineral deposits that are left over when moisture gets into those walls and then evaporates to the inside of the basement. What it leaves behind is those mineral deposits – those mineral-salt deposits – and they can look kind of troubling. Sometimes they look white, sometimes they look gray, sometimes they look a little crusty. If you want to prove once and for all that they are, in fact, salt and not mold, spray a little white vinegar on it. You’ll see that they will disappear instantly when the vinegar hits the salt.

    So just take this as a clue that perhaps your basement has too much moisture and take steps to try to reduce that. You want to make sure that your exterior drainage is properly adjusted so water is running away from the house, the downspouts are clean and also discharging away from the house. And you could also add a dehumidifier to the basement as a final step. And then consider painting those walls with a damp-proofing paint. All those steps will work together to make that problem go away and keep you much more comfortable in your house.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a question from Frank who writes: “Do you know of any options in accessible patio doors? My daughter is in a wheelchair and I want to replace the sliding doors from the house to the patio. But everything I see has a 1-inch area at the bottom with a rail and slots. I need an accessible door. Please help.”

    TOM: There are accessible doors. They’re called “low-threshold accessible patio doors.” And they’re designed exactly for this purpose. So instead of installing a traditional patio door, you just need to ask for an accessible, hinged patio-door format.

    For example, I know door manufacturers, like Therma-Tru – now, I’ve got a door made by Therma-Tru. It’s very, very well made and beautiful. They’ve got something called a “public-access sill option” for hinged patio doors. So instead of the standard inch-and-9/16-high sill, the public-access sill has a height of only ½-inch. So that makes it easier to roll over in a wheelchair or even in a baby carriage. But it doesn’t impact the ability of the door to stay weather-tight.

    So you just have to look for these doors. You are going to find them but you’re not going to find them, say, on the store shelves, for example, at the lumberyard or the home improvement retailers. You have to dig a little bit and they may have to be ordered. But they do exist. They’re well made. You’re not really giving up anything by ordering them, except you’re just getting better access in and out of your house.

    LESLIE: Yeah, just shop around a little. There’s even microwave drawers, so your daughter can still use a microwave because that goes below the countertop. So much. Just make sure you take a little time and do some searches online.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and some advice to help you improve your money pit.

    Whatever you’re tackling in the next few weeks – perhaps you’re getting your home ready for the holidays – remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’d love to hear from you if you’ve got a question. You can also post it to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    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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