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Keeping Mice and Critters Out as Weather Cools, DIY Storm-Proofing for Your Home, and Avoid Pricey Repairs Simply By Knowing What Year Your House Was Built

  • 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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. If there’s a project on your to-do-list, give us a call. We’ll help you slide it on over to that done pile and then you can pick up another project to take advantage of that beautiful weekend that we have in front of us. 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, you’re about to spend a lot more time indoors this fall. And mice and rodents would like nothing more than to head right inside with you. So we’re going to have some easy tips for keeping those critters outside where they belong.

    LESLIE: And do you look around your home, unsure where you should be investing your time and money? Well, here’s a sure bet: let the age of your house and the era that it was built show you where to start. We’re going to share some tips, just ahead.

    TOM: And if your house looks dated, why not bring it up to speed with some big, bold patterns? We’ve got tips on the hot design trends on deck for 2016 and advice on how you can add those to your walls for no more than you’d spend on a solid color.

    LESLIE: And if it’s been a while since your dishwasher and garbage disposer got a good, thorough cleaning, then today’s prize is for you. We are giving away a Glisten Family of Cleaners Prize Pack.

    TOM: Glisten are the machine-cleaning experts. Glisten gets rid of kitchen grunge, buildup, germs and that odor. It is a prize worth 50 bucks, so call us, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Laurel in Pennsylvania is dealing with some stinky drains at home. Tell us what’s going on.

    LAUREL: My bathroom drain and the kitchen drain, they’re starting to smell like garbage. And nothing I put down there helps. Can you help me?

    TOM: What have you tried to do in terms of cleaning them?

    LAUREL: Like dishwashing liquid and real hot, sudsy water.

    TOM: Laurel, the odor that you’re describing is most likely what we call “biogas” or “biofilm.”


    TOM: Because of the moisture and the waste that gets into these lines, they form sort of a mass of biological material that sort of gels together and releases an awful odor, kind of like something that’s rotting. And there’s no way to kind of make it simpler than that but it’s really kind of a gross thing.

    So, what you need to do is – just sort of rinsing it out with hot, soapy water is not going to do this. You’ve got to take the drain cover off, you’ve got to get into the drain with a bottle brush or something like that and scrub the inside of the pipe. And that will start to break down the biofilm and that should help eliminate the odor problem. It’s not just a matter of rinsing it out, because that’s kind of just feeding it. You literally have to abrade this gross stuff away to make it clean once again. OK?

    LAUREL: Alright. And I really enjoy your program every week.

    TOM: Thanks so much, Laurel. Good luck with that project and call again.

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

    JIM: Well, the reason I called is because I have an issue with my fireplace. It’s just a regular wood-burner. It doesn’t have an insert in it. And I want to seal the chimney for health and energy-loss reasons. I was thinking about putting a steel plate on the top. Because here in the Ozarks, whenever we get bad weather and that wind is howling, it sounds like a freight train coming through my fireplace and I have quite a bit of a draft. And the damper just does not hold securely enough so I don’t get that air through there.

    I was wondering, can you give me some advice as to who to contact if it’s feasible to do something like this? Is safety a concern?

    TOM: It’s certainly feasible to do this project. It’s sort of the kind of project that you’ve got to be a bit creative with, because what you’re going to want to do is try to form some sort of weather-tight shield across the top of the flue. I would tell you that whatever you do to this, make it removable because chances are if you sell this house at some point in the future, somebody might find it really attractive to have a fireplace there in the Ozarks and want to reactivate this chimney, so to speak.

    So, however you seal it across the top, you’ve got find out – find an easy way to do that. One thing that comes to mind is that there’s a damper that fits in the top of a chimney liner. And it’s sort of like a weighted, heavy, metal door. And the way it’s activated is that there’s a stainless-steel cable that goes down through the middle of the chimney and it’s hooked onto the side of the fireplace. And when you release the cable, the door flops open. So that would be a way to put a device up there that’s really designed for a flue and will serve the dual purpose of sealing off the draft from the top.

    JIM: OK. Well, I thank you very much for giving me the time. And I love your show. Listen to it two hours every Sunday morning.

    TOM: Alright. Well, thank you very much, Jim. It’s nice to hear. We appreciate it.

    LESLIE: You are tuned into 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.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you know when your house was built? Each era of home construction came with its own set of construction strengths and weaknesses. We’ll teach you how to match your home’s year to the help it needs most, 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: Well, whether you’ve just hung a For Sale sign, found the house of your dreams or both, there’s a home inspection on your horizon. We’ve got tips to help you prepare and make sure it’s a thorough one, online, with our home inspection checklist for buyers and sellers on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jan from Iowa on the line who’s dealing with a contractor that didn’t make good on his promises. How can we help you, Jan?

    JAN: I can’t get no money from him. He won’t call me or he won’t answer the phone or nothing. I can’t …

    TOM: Let’s start at the beginning, Jan. So, tell us what happened.

    JAN: Well, I hired him to fix up my sun deck, to shore it up and everything.

    TOM: OK.

    JAN: I had to put stairs on it and everything and it was a little loose different places, you know.

    TOM: Right.

    JAN: He took the job and I paid for the materials as he got them. And then he fixed it and then everything’s crooked on it. He left a jack there underneath there and it’s supposed to be a pool stair.

    TOM: So you got a contractor involved to fix your – up your sun deck. He purchased some materials – or you purchased some materials. He started putting some things together and he basically left it half-done and took off and you haven’t seen him since, right?

    JAN: Well, no. He says he’s all done and I paid him. And I had the inspector come out and everything was wrong. The steps are crooked. When you walk down them, you almost fall forward and …

    TOM: Alright. Now you’ve paid this guy?

    JAN: Yeah.

    TOM: You’ve paid him for the labor?

    JAN: Yes. And I bought the parts.

    TOM: So you paid him in full. Why did you pay him in full before the job was done?

    JAN: Well, I thought he was done. He said he was all done.

    TOM: Right. So, at this point, you’re probably going to have to take him to small-claims court. There’s a dispute about the quality of the work here. Unfortunately, it’s going to have to be sorted out that way.

    If he took your money and didn’t do any work, then you could charge him with theft. And that’s very effective, by the way, if you ever find yourself in that situation. If a contractor takes your money and just doesn’t do the work, you can actually file a criminal complaint against him and charge him with theft. But since he did some of the work but he didn’t do it well, now it’s a dispute over the quality of the work. And that’s going to have to be sorted out in a civil suit, unfortunately.

    JAN: Yeah. But I haven’t got any proof that I gave him money. I gave him cash.

    TOM: Let me give you a suggestion. The next time you want to hire somebody, stop hiring the guys that are walking up and down your street. Get online. Use a site like Angie’s List. Find some good-quality people with some reviews and you won’t have the same issues.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading on over to Ohio with Bobbie, who cut down a tree but is now wondering what’s going on with the dirt settling and sidewalk.

    This sounds like it’s got an interesting story, Bobbie. What happened to the tree?

    BOBBIE: Well, it got a disease in it. And they recommended that I cut it down before it falls on my house. So, I had it cut down and they ground out the stump. And now, I was wondering how long do I have to wait for the dirt to settle or if I even have to wait to extend my sidewalk.

    TOM: Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to build a sidewalk on top of all of the ground-out sawdust, because that clearly is going to decay away. I think the best thing to do is to try to add some stone to that stumped area. Maybe rake out all of the sawdust and pack it with stone and then make sure the new sidewalk is poured over that stone or even embed some of the stone into the concrete. Because otherwise, you’re going to build a sidewalk on top of an unstable piece of soil and that could crack.

    Another option there is to have the mason add some reinforcement to the sidewalk. And make sure the reinforcement straddles the weak area of the soil so that, again, if you do get some additional compression, the sidewalk won’t crack and sink in that area.

    You’re wise to raise this question. You do need to work around it and I think a good-quality mason can help you do that.

    BOBBIE: OK. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, as long as there have been homes, there have been home repairs. But if you know when your house was built, you can figure out what your home is likely to need most.

    LESLIE: Was your house built between 1900 and 1920? Then chimneys from this era were made of brick. No terracotta-clay liners. Now, if you peek up yours and you see brick only, you need to call an expert before lighting your next fire. There’s a good chance that your chimney is unsafe.

    TOM: And if your home went up between 1900 and 1940, water pressure could be an issue. You might be the owner of some original steel plumbing pipes. And those run the risk of bursting, even if they’ve not done so already.

    LESLIE: And just as steel plumbing was falling out of favor, asbestos, now known to be really harmful to your health, was on the rise. So check whether asbestos still exists on your old 1940s heating pipes. You want to call a pro to remove it and then reinsulate with a non-toxic product ASAP. Whatever you do, do not remove the asbestos yourself.

    TOM: And houses built between 1940 and 1960 often put all the electrical needs on one circuit, which could explain why your lights dim when the other appliances are turned on.

    LESLIE: And if your house went up as energy prices were up in the 70s, there’s a good chance it was constructed tightly. And that’s a feature that can lead to indoor air pollution or worse, toxic mold. Now, if you suspect that your home might not be ventilated properly, you can install an air-to-air heat exchanger. During cold winters, this device will bring fresh air into your home without wasting the heat.

    TOM: And if you suspect your home might not be ventilated properly, you can install an air-to-air heat exchanger. Now, during cold winters, this is the device that will bring fresh air into your home without wasting the heat.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Anthony in Tennessee on the line. How can we help you today?

    ANTHONY: Yeah, I’ve got a ’99 379 Peterbilt and it’s got one bed in it. And we pretty much live in the truck and we’re wanting to turn that one bed into a bunk bed. We tried to widen it and it didn’t work out too good. So I’ve got to go lightweight, because I’m heavy and the truck’s real heavy. So if I do it in 2x4s, it’s going to be a real heavy, heavy truck.

    TOM: Anthony, you know what comes to mind, that I think would be a good solution for you, is a metal bunk bed – an army-cot bunk bed. The army cots, if you just Google “army cots and bunk beds,” you will see a wide variety of metal bunk beds that are stackable. And they certainly have them in light-duty to heavy-duty designs.

    They’re not terribly expensive. I see them online for $300, $400, $500. And they’re not very heavy and they’re super strong and they can be two, full, twin-size beds stacked one on top of another.

    ANTHONY: OK. Well, the bed that’s in here, the frame of that bed is part of the truck.

    TOM: So it has to sit on top of that, correct?

    ANTHONY: Yeah, I have to set something into that framework above my bed.

    TOM: Right. So then maybe what you want is just basically one half of that cot-style bunk bed. And then you have to build supports to get it up in the air for the space. So I would take a look at these metal bunk beds online.


    TOM: I think you’re going to find your solution there and it’s going to be a lot easier to deal with than trying to frame something out of wood.

    ANTHONY: Yeah, because then I could just set it in place and mount it to my bed.

    TOM: Exactly.

    ANTHONY: Yeah, I hadn’t thought of that.

    TOM: Alright, Anthony. Well, I’m glad we helped you out. And I’ve got to say, this is one very unusual question for us and I’m glad we were able to come up with a solution.

    LESLIE: Tracy in Ohio is on the line with a question about storm windows. How can we help you today?

    TRACY: My condo is fairly new. It was built in 2005. But the way that my – the front of my condo faces, where the weather blows in – I don’t know if it’s east or west but last year, I tried the strip thing and the plastic. And it – and the wind blew so hard that it came loose. So then I tried duct-taping it and yeah, it didn’t work at all.

    So I’m wondering – you know, we can’t put storm windows on the outside because of the condo-association rules. But I’m wondering, is there a company that makes something that goes on the inside of the windows: something magnetic or something that could help?

    TOM: Well, you certainly can get interior storm windows. It is a product that’s available from – many window manufacturers will – you can order it, probably. I would go to a regular window company and order these. But there’s different types of interior storm windows that are available.

    The other thing that you could do that’s really cheap, especially if these are windows that you’re not going to have to open – we don’t like to recommend this for a bedroom window but for other windows because, of course, in a bedroom, you may have to open it for emergency egress, fire hazard, that sort of thing – is you can get a weather-stripping caulk. It’s a weather-stripping product that’s in a tube, like a caulk tube.

    And you, essentially, caulk the seams of the window shut. And the thing about the weather-stripping product is in the spring, you peel it off and it doesn’t damage the windows. It looks like that sort of white, gooey stuff that they stick credit cards to offers in the mail when you get the credit card and it’s on the back of the card? It’s like that rubbery stuff? It just peels right off and it doesn’t damage anything.

    So, that’s something that maybe you haven’t tried yet; you could give it a shot. And then, of course, if you want to go with maybe a more permanent solution, you could order interior storm windows and have them made.

    TRACY: Well, I could squirt that stuff on there and then in the spring, I could peel it back off?

    TOM: That’s correct. Yep. Unlike regular caulk, this is a temporary caulk.

    TRACY: Wonderful. That sounds wonderful. I will give that a try.

    TOM: Yeah, DAP makes a product called Seal ‘N Peel – the letter N, Peel. So, look it up. You might have to order it in a home center or a hardware store but it works great.

    TRACY: Alright. I will try that. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Ray in Minnesota who’s working on a decking project. How can we help you?

    RAY: Yeah. I just bought a house and it was built in 2008. And I have a big, wraparound porch and it looks like it’s never been really maintained since they built it. And so, especially with the Minnesota winters up here and the weather, looking to seal it but not really sure what to use and also not really wanting to have to do it every single year. So, just wanted to get some advice about what I could do.

    TOM: So, is the porch flooring a finished floor or is it like a deck, like pressure-treated?

    RAY: Pressure-treated wood. It’s a deck.

    LESLIE: And is there anything on it currently?

    RAY: No.

    TOM: So, what you can do is you could apply a solid-color deck stain to that.

    RAY: OK.

    TOM: And a solid-color stain is going to last longer than a semi-transparent or certainly a transparent stain. But you use a deck stain because deck stains also have some durability to them.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The benefit of the solid-color stain is that because it’s a stain, it’s actually going to penetrate the surface of the wood, so the color will actually get into the lumber itself. And then a solid stain, obviously, has more pigment to it. So, given the fact that your deck has had nothing on it for however many years, it probably looks a little worn in places and maybe worse for the wear. So a solid stain is going to sort of cover all of that up while giving you some color and still act as a stain, since that’s what it is.

    And you’re – generally, if you apply it correctly, you’re going to get about five years on horizontal surfaces and about seven years on vertical. It really depends on the weather conditions, the application, how you prep it. Is the wood totally dried out when you’re putting it on? But a solid stain is probably the best bet.

    RAY: OK, OK. I had one question about it. I have seen some commercials for some new products that are more kind of concrete-based, almost like more of a paint-type thing. What about those? Are those good or would you recommend using something like that or …?

    TOM: Don’t do it. I think you’re talking about the products that are like liquid siding and things of that nature. If you were going to consider a product like that, I would Google the name of that product and the word “complaints.” Because we’ve seen a lot of complaints about those products that claim to encapsulate the surfaces that they’re applied to. Just not working very well.

    I would stick with the basics. A good-quality, solid-color stain from a good manufacturer is going to last a long time and you certainly won’t be doing it every year.

    RAY: OK, great. Well, I really appreciate the information and the help. Thank you, again, for taking my call.

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

    LESLIE: Hey. If a hurricane hit tomorrow, how would your house hold up? Well, stop the guesswork. Weather-proofing your home using DIY materials designed exclusively to keep you safe. Where to find them, coming up.

    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, hurricane season is winding down but don’t let that fool you. The most active time of the year for these wicked storms in is early fall. And winter’s not far off, either.

    LESLIE: So how can you prepare for extreme weather? Well, here to tell us about how you can get storm-ready is Larry Shapiro from Grace Residential Building Materials.

    Welcome, Larry.

    LARRY: Hi, Leslie. Hi, Tom. Nice to be with you guys.

    TOM: So, Larry, when your home goes through the average rainstorm and stays generally dry, people are always amazed that when you get wind-driven rain, such as that which is brought about by severe weather, that the rules of gravity seem to know longer apply and water finds its way in.

    LARRY: Yeah, that’s the key. I mean houses generally keep water out because they shed water. That’s that gravity thing, right? So, any time you get water that’s moving against the force of gravity – i.e. driven by the wind – it goes up the slope of the roof. And when it does that, it goes right under the shingles, under the tile, under windows. It goes in through all the cracks around your windows. And if your siding is clapboard siding or something like that, it goes right up in between the clapboards and it gets into the house in all sorts of bad places.

    LESLIE: And this really isn’t something that you can even anticipate unless you do get that wind-driven rain. So, how do you best prepare?

    LARRY: Well, your best prepare is when you – if you doing your remodeling project or you’re building a new house, you want to make sure that not only does your house shed water but that part’s easy. That’s the kind of the standard way we build houses. But you want to make sure that underneath the sheathing and underneath the roof, you put a secondary layer that allows – that prevents leaks into the building envelope.

    So, that would be things like a fully-adhered underlayment, like Grace Ice & Water Shield on your roof. And that is a very simple product. Goes on the roof. It sticks before you put the shingles and the tile down. It seals around all the fasteners when you nail your roofing to it. And it prevents roof leaks. If water happens to get up under the shingles, it has nowhere to go; it doesn’t get in the house.

    TOM: And that’s a terrific idea. I have a family member who’s rebuilding their home just now that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Actually building a new home, I should say. And the builder did not spec out for Grace Ice & Water Shield underneath the roof shingles. And I looked at his plans and said, “You’ve got to put this on.” He’s like, “Why? The builder said I don’t need it.” “Yeah, you don’t need it, technically. But if those shingles blow off, where do you want that water to go?”

    And so he put it on. It was a minor, additional expense but it provides all this additional protection.

    LARRY: Absolutely. It’s really cheap insurance and it’s good for whenever the next hurricane is going to hit. And it’s also good when you get lots of snow up on your roof. That can cause water to get up under the shingles or tiles, as well.

    TOM: Let’s talk about the flashing around windows and doors. Because we get this call quite frequently where folks have tried many things. They’ve caulked, they’ve recaulked, they’ve adjusted J-channels, they’ve taken off drip edges and reinstalled them. And no matter how much of that material they throw at the leak, they can’t quite nail it down.

    And we always say, “Look, if you tried the easy stuff, at some point, you’ve just got to kind of go back to the beginning, because that’s where the problem originated. It’s how that building was put together around that window or around that door.”

    Now, it used to be that installing these flashing materials, that are designed to keep those areas dry, was difficult and required a higher degree of skill. You guys have come out, in the past, with very flexible and easy-to-install flashing materials. You mentioned the peel-and-stick nature of the Ice & Water Shield. You have flashing materials that do the same thing and I think what’s cool about them is it’s relatively easy to get that seal now. Where, before, if you got one part of the flashing assembly wrong, you were looking at a leak.

    LARRY: That’s right. Using a fully-adhered flashing is super easy. And the nice thing about that is you put a window inside – in a wall system, those things tend to move. The building heats up, it cools down, it’s got wind loads on it. Those things tend to move. So, anything else you’re going to use, like caulks or sealants, over time they break down, they split and you wind up with leaks.

    With a fully-adhered system like we offer, not only seals around the fasteners that end up going through it, it’s flexible, it bends, it stretches, it stays waterproof and it’s super easy. And it costs very little per window. I mean a few bucks per window, basically.

    LESLIE: Larry, there’s seems to be so many different products that Grace offers to make your home watertight. So, to avoid all that confusion, where do you start to really figure out what’s going to work best for your home?

    LARRY: Well, ultimately, you’re going to want to find a professional contractor to actually make the repairs or build the house in the first place and make sure that your house is built properly. But as a home owner, it’s going to be – you know, you’re spending a lot of money on your home; it’s one of your largest investments. You want to make sure that you’re an educated homeowner so you can talk to the contractor and make sure to ask him the right questions.

    Now, with the advantage of the internet, you can go online. Go to Grace.com and – or look up Grace Ice & Water Shield, look up Vycor flashing – V-y-c-o-r. And you can get a sense of really what the state of the art is in terms of technologies designed to keep water out of the building envelope. Keep the weather outside, even when it’s at its worst.

    And that’s for hurricane-force winds and driven rain or – it’s not too long we’re going to see some winter – for blizzards or heavy snow, which can be just as devastating. And of course, leaks always happen at the worst time and at the worst place. And a little prevention goes a long way, because it doesn’t cost a lot of money to make sure your house is weather-tight.

    TOM: Absolutely. And in fact, on Grace’s website – and that is Grace.com -they have a home waterproofing interactive product guide. It covers the areas of roofing, walls, windows, doors, decking and even your below-grade spaces. So take a look at that interactive guide on Grace.com.

    Larry Shapiro, the business director for Grace Residential Building Materials, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    LARRY: Thanks for having me, Tom. Thanks, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Alright. Up next, are you looking for a fresh look that won’t break the bank? We’re going to tell you about patterns on your walls and how you can give your bedroom, living room or home office a huge boost. Discover this cheap, easy way to make over your walls, when we return.

    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, your kitchen appliances touch your food and your utensils, so it’s important to keep them sanitized and clean. And today’s prize can do just that for you.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’re giving away a $50 prize pack of Glisten cleaning products, including Glisten Dishwasher Magic. It’s going to disinfect and deodorize the parts of your dishwasher that you just can’t reach.

    TOM: Learn more about Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts, at GlistenCleaners.com. And call us, right now, for home improvement help and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Rick in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    RICK: When our house was built, in place of the usual wooden boards that are used to trim around the edges of the roofs and around the bottom of the house, they used a plastic composite-type material.

    TOM: OK.

    RICK: And it’s used in place of wood and it’s maintenance-free, lasts forever, that kind of stuff. With the exception that any place this wood is – this composite material is cut, it becomes kind of a haven for mold and mildew. And you get green growth there and it’s – you spend a lot of time and effort continually pressure-washing to clean it out. So, what I’m looking for is some means of sealing – is there some way of sealing this to prevent this mold growth on what is otherwise a maintenance-free material?

    TOM: Well, if it’s composite, it may be a product called AZEK – A-Z-E-K. And that’s paintable. And so you could paint those areas and that might tend to seal it in a bit more. Because I think what you’re saying is that the cut areas are probably more absorbent than the surface areas and so you’re getting a little more moisture. Maybe it’s a trap. There’s a little rougher surface there that might be a trap for dirt that feeds mildew or algae and that sort of thing.

    So, what comes to mind right away is that you simply could paint it. But of course, you know what comes after paint: repaint.

    RICK: Exactly. It takes away the maintenance-free aspect of it.

    TOM: Exactly.

    RICK: But is there a type of paint that would be more conducive or last longer, like an epoxy-type paint or something like that?

    TOM: Not for a surface like that. No, you would just use an exterior paint and you would probably prime it first.

    RICK: So it wouldn’t be latex. It would be an enamel?

    TOM: No, you would use a 100-percent acrylic latex paint. That’s what AZEK recommends be used. And you also might want to take a look at Sherwin-Williams for the paint manufacturers. I know that they have paints that are specifically made for vinyl or PVC products, which is what that product is. AZEK is simply an extruded cellular PVC.

    LESLIE: Not everybody does this but some contractors tend to skip the step of filling holes when it comes to a composite trimming. You know, they’re like, “Eh, you can’t see it. It’s OK.” But this could give you the opportunity – if you’re going to paint the trim, as well – to go ahead and fill any nail holes. And that’ll really give it almost a more natural wood look, the brushstrokes. It could be a good thing.

    RICK: OK. Thank you very much. That’s a great idea.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, if a fresh coat of paint can instantly update a room, imagine what a crafty pattern can do. Patterns on walls and furniture are poised to be one of the hottest design looks of 2016.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Hot and affordable, too. You could use a simple stencil, straight edge or painter’s tape to add eye-catching arrangements to your space. Stay on trend with these up-and-coming patterns.

    TOM: Basic stripes are getting a boost. You can vary the width to give the lines you add character and dimension.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And remember that game Q*bert? Well, mod-optic 3D cubes will get you compliments and work especially well if you have solid-colored modern furniture.

    TOM: Or take your cue from the popular chevron patterns and swap out zig-zags for lines featuring sporadic angles and curves, all of which will deliver a spectacular-looking new space.

    LESLIE: Pam in Colorado is on the line. How can we help you today?

    PAM: We have floors throughout our house. Most of them are carpeted that squeaks, like bedrooms, hallway, living room, stairs, things like that and then a bathroom that has the vinyl flooring – the laminate flooring. And we’ve tried – there was a little kit that you could buy at Ace Hardware where you find the floor joists and then you put screws every so often down into the joists, I guess, and that didn’t work. It only made it worse.

    TOM: So you’re trying to fix a squeaky floor that’s under what kind of flooring material? Carpet?

    PAM: Yes, carpet. I’m sorry, yes, carpet.

    TOM: Alright. And it’s wall-to-wall carpet?

    PAM: Yes, it is.

    TOM: Alright. So, here’s the trick of the trade, Pam. You ready?

    PAM: I am ready. I am so ready.

    TOM: What you want to do – the first thing you need is a good stud finder. You’re going to get a Stanley stud sensor so that you can use a device – electronic device. It’ll allow you to sort of peek through the carpet and identify exactly where the floor joists are below.

    And once you identify the floor joists, what you’re going to do is take a Number 10 or Number 12 galvanized finish nail. And we say “galvanized” because it’s a little rougher than a regular, plated finish nail; it tends to hold better. And then you’re going to drive that at a slight angle, like about a 15-degree angle, right through the carpet and right through the subfloor and right into the floor joist.

    Now, when you do that, you’ll notice that the carpet sort of sags down and gets dimpled where the nailhead goes through. The trick is to grab the nap of the carpet right around the nailhead and pull it through the nailhead. It’ll pop through and then you sort of brush the carpet and you’ll – that nail will disappear below it and you won’t see it again. So you can get away with actually fixing a squeak through carpet with this trick of the trade.

    PAM: Oh, wow. That would be awesome. And again, could you tell me the type of nail one more time?

    TOM: Yeah, a Number 10 or a Number 12 galvanized finish nail.

    PAM: OK. Number 10 or Number 12, floor joist at a 15-degree angle.

    TOM: Yeah. But you’ve got to find that joist or you’re – you can’t be nailing into air, you know? You want to make sure you’re nailing into the floor joist, OK?

    PAM: OK. Thanks so much. You have an awesome show.

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

    Hey. If a cozy house is appealing to you, imagine how it looks to rodents who want to get in there. We’ve got tips to keep critters from joining you indoors this fall, after this.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And hey, are you tempted to step on it and just install the first floor you like? Well, with a little homework – and a little patience goes a long way when you’re picking out a floor. And it’s one of the bigger home investments you can make. We’ve got the pros and the cons for nine different flooring options to help you pick the best one for your home, your family and your budget, online, on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, post your question, just like Grant did who writes: “We just remodeled our basement. When we tore out some paneling around a window, thousands of little insect wings flew out all over the place. It was pretty disgusting. Any idea what these could be?”

    TOM: Yeah. Probably termites. Termites or carpenter ants but most likely termites. I mean they live in the soil and they build mud tubes to sort of travel in and out of your house for a free meal of luscious floor joists and wall studs or just about any other tasty, organic morsel they can find.

    And during the warmer months, they’re going to grow wings and they’re going to swarm. They’ll leave the safety of their nest, which is deep in the soil, and they’ll fly off and wreak more havoc on houses. So if I’m right, there’s no surprise that you found them near the window because once termites fly, they head right for that lighted space.

    So, here’s what you need to do. First off, I want you to contact a local pest-management pro and order a comprehensive inspection of your home. Because much of the damage termites cause might not be that obvious to you. But if you have a trained pro come in, they’ll be able to spot it pretty easily.

    Now, termites are often found in basements near windows, just like what happened to you. But if the termites are confirmed, you’re going to need to get a treatment. And I would request it be done with a fairly new class of high-tech, undetectable termite liquid called Termidor.

    It’s an undetectable termiticide. It’s applied to the soil. And because the termites can’t detect it, they willingly bring it back to their nest and they spread it to all their other termite pals and it wipes out the entire colony. Kind of like germ warfare for termites. It’s a good thing when you want to keep them away from your house.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you don’t need to feel guilty about it because you really don’t want them there, so just don’t even think about it. Use the termiticide, be happy and just know that they’ll go away. Don’t think about it.

    TOM: Well, it becomes a real problem when temperatures drop. Mice, rats and other rodents will make their way into homes for relief from the chill. But take heart: there are ways to keep them out today and avoid infestation for months to come. Leslie is going to tell you how, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s not as easy as hanging a no-vacancy sign. But you can make some changes that’ll keep mice and critters from moving on and away from your house and on, perhaps, to the next warm haven.

    Now, remember: mice can squeeze through spaces smaller than a nickel. So seal any potential entrances to your home with sheet metals, steel wool or cement. Expandable foam insulation, they can gnaw right through it, guys. So if you take that route, you want to add some steel wool to the mix.

    If your dog or cat isn’t the only animal that comes running at the smell of pet food, wet or dry, it is enticing to rodents, so enticing that they will chew through heavy-duty food bags just for a taste. So you want to keep dry pet food in sealed canisters and rinse out pet-food bowls before you head to bed each and every night.

    Now, give your kitchen counters and tables a sweep each evening, too, because your discarded crumbs are an outdoor animal’s feast. And while it doesn’t seem to help their IQ, critters like newspapers and magazines as much as you do. So get rid of stacks of paper and cardboard that mice and rodents can turn into nesting sites.

    Hey, if you need some more ways to keep your house critter-free, head to my blog. It’s got solutions for all areas of your home, inside and out, on Money Pit’s home page at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: Well, whether it’s your dream kitchen or one you’ve lived in for years, your older home’s small bathrooms are probably less than dreamy. But don’t bust out the blueprints just yet. Next time on The Money Pit, we’ve got big ideas for small baths.

    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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