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How to Find Hidden Drafts That Cost You Energy Dollars, Driveway Repairs You Can Do Yourself, Discover a Way to Make Your Windows Even More Energy Efficient, and More

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by to answer your home improvement questions, to help solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Whatever you are tackling this season, we are here to help you get it done. And it is the season for home repair. We’ve got a few precious weeks left before the really nasty winter sets in and so it’s time to do home improvement projects inside and outside your house in anticipation of the long, chilly and dark winter ahead. So what might you do? Well, maybe a décor project to help make those days that much brighter or another fix-up. Whatever it is, we are here to help you get the job done. Help yourself first by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up on today’s program, have you ever tried to find the source of one of those chilly drafts in your house? Well, you know it can be pretty tricky. Besides the typical spots around windows and doors, there are many less obvious places where energy wasters can sneak in. We’ll have tips to help you hunt them down and seal them up, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Also, those little cracks that you’ve got in your driveway could become full-blown potholes pretty soon if you don’t take some action. We’re going to get repair advice from This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook.

    TOM: And if you like to cook, you have no doubt been left with lots of stuck-on grease in places that you never imagined, like cabinet surfaces that can be really tough to clean. We’ll show you how to make it easy, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And we’ve got a great prize to give away this hour that will make you feel a little safer in your home. It’s a wireless home alarm system from Swann Security that will send a would-be intruder running with a super-loud siren.

    TOM: It’s worth $130. To qualify, pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.

    Now, we will select a winner by choosing from all of those that call us this hour on the program. But if you’d really like to get in on the goods of an awesome promotion that’s going on right now, you can go to Swann.com and sign up for the Get Connected, Be Protected Sweepstakes they’re running. These guys are giving away $10,000 in security gear: everything including a large-screen TV and an iPhone. Go to Swann.com – S-w-a-n-n.com. Enter the Get Connected, Be Protected Sweepstakes. It is very easy to do.

    And then if you share the sweepstakes with your friends on Facebook, guess what? You get five more entries for every person that also enters, so you can really get a whole bunch of entries and lots and lots of chances to win really cool gear from our friends at Swann. That’s online, right now, at Swann.com.

    And we are online right now and ready to take your home improvement questions, so let’s get started.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Karen in Tennessee who’s got a problem with a bathroom door. Tell us what’s going on.

    KAREN: The door fell down when we were putting the washer and dryer and it fell on the knob. It fell off. The hole is way oversized. I put a dowel in there, glued it, drilled a new hole but that didn’t last very long either. How can I get by or how can I put a knob on that door without buying a new bi-fold?

    TOM: OK. So the hole through which you attach the knob for the bi-fold door is oversized, correct?

    KAREN: Right. Both screws are oversized.

    TOM: Alright. So, in other words, it’s bigger than the screw itself, correct?

    KAREN: Yeah. Yes.

    TOM: So, here’s what I would do. I would turn a negative into a positive. Why not – now, is it – it’s not bigger than the handle, right?

    KAREN: No, no, no, no, no.

    TOM: Alright. So, why not just put a washer on the back of it? On the back of the screw. You’re not going to see the back of the door, so just put a washer through the screw and then put the screw in the hole and attach it to the handle. You’re done.

    LESLIE: This way, it’ll pull it flush.

    KAREN: OK. In other words, put an oversized screw in it that goes all the way through the door.

    TOM: Yeah, not an oversized – well, it would go all the way – yes, it would go all the way through the door but …

    KAREN: Well, it’d be longer.

    TOM: Well, you don’t need it to be that much longer. A washer is, you know, a 1/16-inch thick or less.

    KAREN: No. I mean the screw would have to be longer to go through – and drill a hole on the other side, because it’s a hollow door.

    TOM: OK. But does the screw go through now? Normally, when you attach a handle, it goes all the way through. Is that not the case?

    KAREN: It’s just one of those – it doesn’t even turn. It’s just a right handle/left handle type knob that you pull on it to open up the bi-fold.

    TOM: OK. So it’s just basically screwed right into the door – the face of the door – and it’s pulling out, correct?

    KAREN: Yes, yes.

    TOM: So, yeah. So then why – instead of using a wood screw to attach it, why don’t you use a machine screw and then put a small nut and washer on the back of it and drill all the way through the door? So measure the thickness of the door, head over to your local hardware store and have them look for a screw that’s long enough, with a nut and the washer on the back of it. You won’t see the nut and the washer, because it’s on the inside of the door. Just don’t make it any longer than it has to be.

    KAREN: Exactly. Fantastic. Why didn’t I think of that?

    TOM: And that’ll solve it. Alright?

    KAREN: OK. I went to all that trouble to put a dowel – oversized the hole, put a dowel in there, glue, redrill.

    TOM: Well, you know what? You get an A for effort.

    KAREN: And it came out again.

    TOM: Yeah. Alright. Well, this will solve it. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mike in Illinois is on the line. How can we help you today?

    MIKE: I have a – the drywall through the center of my house is separating at the seams.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And it’s straight through the center of the house, down the hallway through the center of the house. And I’m not sure if it’s due to moisture in the attic, drying out and expanding or if it’s the floor in the house moving.

    TOM: Mike, how old is your house?

    MIKE: I’d say 20 years old.

    TOM: OK. And is this relatively new or has it been around for a while?

    MIKE: It’s been there shortly after I moved in.

    TOM: Oh, so it’s been there like 20 years.

    MIKE: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, I think it’s probably shrinkage. When a house is first built, the lumber is very wet and over the first couple of heating seasons, it tends to shrink a lot and you’ll get a lot of movement.

    Now, over the years, you may have tried to patch it and then you just find that it opens up again. That’s very typical.

    MIKE: Right.

    TOM: What you want to do to patch it is you need to sand it down where it’s cracking. You need to use new drywall tape on top of that. You can use the perforated tape; it’s easier to work with, in terms of the spackle, because you don’t have to worry about air bubbles behind the paper tape. Use the perforated tape, put about three layers of spackle on there, sand in between, prime, paint; you should be good to go.

    MIKE: OK. If I have bathroom vents that are venting out into the attic, would that cause it or would that cure it if I …?

    TOM: No, I don’t think – well, first of all, I don’t think it’s caused that but that in and of itself is a problem. You shouldn’t be ducting bathroom exhaust fans into an attic; they should continue through the attic to the exterior.

    And the reason for that – you’re in the Chicago area, correct? Pretty cold there. And if you get that insulation damp, it’s not going to be very effective.

    MIKE: OK. So, with it venting in there, that’s decreasing my R-value of my insulation, too.

    LESLIE: Absolutely.

    TOM: It is. R-value is rated at 0-percent moisture. So when you add moisture to it, it goes down dramatically. So, the more moisture in the attic, the less effective the insulation becomes.

    MIKE: OK. To fix that, would it be alright to add insulation on top of that after I fix that problem?

    TOM: Yeah, you can add more insulation but you have to duct from the exhaust fan out of the attic. So, you can do that by going like sort of through the gable wall or up through a roof vent with a proper termination on the end of it so no water gets in there. And just get that warm, moist air out. Don’t leave it in the attic.

    MIKE: OK. And I’ve done some research on the internet. I’ve got two bathroom fans. To run them into one, they said to find a wire or a vent that’ll flip one side to the other so it doesn’t backdraft into the other bathroom. I cannot find that.

    TOM: Well, I don’t think you really need that because, for example, if you run it to the gable wall and you have a typical bath-duct terminating type of a hood on it, that’s got a spring on it that stays shut. So it’s only going to open when the air is blowing out.

    There’s another way to do this and that is to have a remote bath fan where they actually have the motor part that’s up in the attic space and the ducts just connect to the ceiling of the bathrooms. But that’s a nice system – it’s a quiet system – but it’s much more expensive to do. You see that a lot in hotels.

    MIKE: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question, whatever you are working on, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, could your windows stand up to an intruder? Learn why older windows could be a security risk, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Roxul, manufacturer of fire-resistant, water-repellant and sound-absorbent home insulation products. Keep your home efficient and comfortable this winter and all year long with Roxul ComfortBatt and Roxul Safe’n’Sound insulations. www.DIYWithRoxul.com. Roxul. That’s R-o-x-u-l.

    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: Hey, here’s a good reason to call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a wireless home security system from Swann. You don’t need a lot of DIY skills to install it. It gives you two window-and-door sensors and two motion sensors. These sensors trigger a siren that could rattle windows two states away. It’s 110 decibels and it’s worth 130 bucks.

    LESLIE: Yeah, this is a great prize. And you know what? It’s just one of many prizes that Swann is giving away in its Get Connected, Be Protected Sweepstakes, which is going on right now at Swann.com. And Money Pit listeners could win one of several Swann Security systems that are being given away. So enter now at Swann – S-w-a-n-n – .com.

    TOM: Yeah, they’re giving away like $10,000 worth of security prizes. And the grand prize? It includes everything you need to totally arm your house and protect your family. And they’re even giving you a large-screen TV and an iPad so you can monitor the whole thing no matter where you are. So enter today at Swann.com.

    LESLIE: Eric in Michigan is on the line. How can we help you with your water problem? What’s going on?

    ERIC: I’ve listened to you guys’ podcasts many times and have heard you talk about the basements and having your eaves drop clear and downspouts 4 to 6 feet away. Well, I’ve done that. I keep them clear and I still keep getting water in the basement: just a teeny little bit around the corner.

    And I was wondering if maybe you guys had an idea if the water is coming in just because the ground is getting so saturated when it rains. I don’t have very good grading and there’s no real way to get any better grading, because I’m so close to the neighbors. I didn’t know if you guys had any ideas besides going through and putting in that really expensive thing that they put in basements.

    TOM: OK. So, yeah, first of all, let’s just review what you have done. So you have gutters and the gutters are clean and they’re free-flowing. Is that correct?

    ERIC: Correct.

    TOM: And the downspouts, they are extended out from the foundation?

    ERIC: Yeah. About 6 feet.

    TOM: About 6 feet. And once that water drains from the downspout, does it continue to move away from the building or does it – circling back towards the foundation?

    ERIC: It’s very level right where it’s at; it doesn’t really slope away. So I mean I don’t know if it would circulate back towards the foundation but …

    TOM: Let me ask you this: the leakage that you are getting, is it consistent with storms? In other words, you get a pretty nasty storm, bad rainfall and you get more water?

    ERIC: Yeah.

    TOM: OK. So we absolutely know that it’s sourcing from surface drainage; this is not a rising water-table situation. It’s going – the solution is going to be in this drainage in the foundation perimeter. And you say you can’t improve the grading. What do you have around the foundation now? Is it grass? Are there plants? Mulch? What?

    ERIC: It’s just grass.

    TOM: It’s just grass? And you’re so – and how close are you to the neighbor?

    ERIC: Oh, 15 feet maybe?

    TOM: Alright. Well, you’ve got room to grade. What you want to do is just deal with the first 4 feet away from the foundation. That first 4 feet needs to pitch down 6 inches.

    ERIC: OK.

    TOM: So to do that, you would add clean fill dirt, not topsoil.

    ERIC: OK.

    TOM: Topsoil is very organic and it’ll hold a lot of water. But clean fill dirt added to the foundation perimeter, tamped in place with a tamping iron – you know, it’s a stick with a big metal plate at the bottom of it – so it’s solid, really packed-in well. And then on top of that, you can plant more grass, you can lay some sod. Now is a good time of year to do this, because it’s cool and it’s damp and it’s not hot. And so that means that the roots have a chance to really take hold before next summer happens.

    The purpose of that is just to prevent erosion. If you don’t want to put grass, you could put stone or mulch. But that first 4 to 6 feet is the most important area to make sure it slopes away from the building. And this way, if you do have any water that’s ponding back – because I suspect that’s what’s happening – it’s going to stop that from getting too close to the foundation.

    Now, the other thing to do here is you could take the downspouts and pipe them underground, away from the locations, and then discharge the water somewhere else. If your yard has any type of a slope where you could get away with this and actually pitch away the underground pipe and then have it poke out somewhere so that it discharges to grade somewhere else away from the house, then that’s another option.

    ERIC: OK. Do you think it matters – the windows in my basement are – the bottom of the windows are level with the ground. Would you recommend putting in a window well around them and then …?

    TOM: OK. So, yeah, in that case, you would put a window well around it because this will enable you to get the soil up higher.

    ERIC: OK.

    TOM: Because you don’t want to cover the windows. So you would put a window well. Don’t worry about covering the window well; just put the window well against the foundation, throw some stone in the bottom of it. And this way – and frankly, if the soil is level with the sill, you probably should take some of that soil out so it’s a few inches down. Throw some stone in the bottom of it and that actually will keep your windows cleaner because when the rain hits it, you won’t have mud splatter up on the window.

    ERIC: Sure, sure. Well, I think that answers my question. I really appreciate your help.

    TOM: Alright. I think you’ve made some progress. You’ve just got to make a few more tweaks and you should be there.

    ERIC: Alright. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, this is the time of year when you start planning your holiday travel. If that includes a vacation, you’re going to want to know that the holiday season is a top time of year for burglaries. Even if you’re not going away, the thought of all of those big-ticket holiday gifts piling up inside your house could be very enticing for criminals.

    Now, you may not be aware of this but older wooden windows could be a security risk.

    TOM: And that’s right and here’s why: if you’ve got older, potentially rotting window frames, it makes it that much easier for a thief to try to pry open the window. And if you’ve got just one pane of glass, it’s not hard to break that, either. So it might make some sense to think about replacing older windows in your home, even if you just do those that are on the first floor: the ones that are easy for an intruder to access.

    TOM: That’s right. When it comes time to actually choosing your replacement windows, a good choice is Pella’s 350 Series. They’re one of our sponsors and the windows are not only durable, they are extremely energy-efficient and just gorgeous, too.

    Now, some of the unique features that they have include InsulShield, which is an advanced Low-E, triple-paned glass with argon-4. And they also have interior welded corners with a smooth seam, making them virtually invisible.

    TOM: Yeah, great window. And adding to this, lots of between-the-glass options like shades and blinds, so now you’ve got the added security of keeping prying eyes from looking into your home, as well. Check out Pella’s 350 Series at Pella.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kirk in Georgia on the line who’s working on a decking project. How can we help you today?

    KIRK: We removed an old hot tub and relocated a new one to be on top of the deck at another level, up toward the pool. But the old one has a hole on a big space of decking and what I was thinking about is how to best cover or repair that area. I’ve got old deck wood all around it but it would be very expensive to replace the whole deck. I’m trying to find a creative way to cover that back up and possibly build a bench against the fence that the hot tub was up against before.

    TOM: OK. So the horizontal surface that has the hole – that portion of the deck – is that the entire deck or is that sort of one section? Is it separated in any way from the rest of the deck?

    KIRK: Yeah, it is. There’s about a 2-foot span that was against the wall. When the hot tub was there, the top of the hot tub came and it was all resting up against the one fence there. There’s about 3 feet on one side that’s got short, little boards and then the big hole. And then on another side that’s adjacent to that one, there’s 2 feet of decking.

    TOM: So, basically, it stands on a different plane, so to speak, than the rest of the deck.

    KIRK: Yeah. To clarify, the part that has 2 feet is the long way, so those boards are – there’s like 3 boards that make up that whole span. And then the other one, there’s a bunch of short, 3-foot boards – 15 of them or so – that make up that edge.

    TOM: Why can’t you redeck just this one area? Not the entire deck but just the one area where the hot tub is?

    KIRK: I absolutely can. The other wood is older; it’s been weather-beaten. It was painted before I got there. I had to strip the whole thing and of course, some of that wood can’t – the soft wood came out but I sand-belted the whole thing down and I got it to look fairly good. So, there’ll be a little difference, obviously, when I put in new wood but that was my plan.

    How do I – what do I do about the earth? Because there’s about a, whatever, 8×8-foot span there where there’s nothing, because the hot tub was supporting everything. I’m wondering how do I support that now?

    TOM: Right. What you’re going to have to do is you’re going to have to build the understructure for that. So, what I would do is I would add additional floor joists, so to speak, into that space. And the way you would attach those is with Teco brackets or joist-hanger brackets.

    These are these U-shaped, big metal clips. They’ll attach to the beam that’ll be perpendicular to this and that depends on what the shape is. But you’ll get the beam in there; it’ll be hung by these Teco brackets. And you’re essentially going to sort of build the understructure like it existed at the beginning. Depending on how hard it is to get under there and work under there, it might be a little bit tricky. But you will have to add those floor joists at either 16-inch or 24-inch centers, depending on what the top decking is.

    Is the top decking 2-by material or is it 5/4?

    KIRK: It’s 5/4.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, you probably could get away with having 2-foot centers but I generally like to put them in on 16-inch centers when it’s 5/4.

    And what I would think – what you might want to think about doing is restaining the entire deck, not just replacing it. But once you repair the section and kind of rebuild that one section but – you could restain the entire deck and then that would be less obvious that that’s a newer section.

    KIRK: Appreciate the help. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Good luck, Kirk. 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. If you’ve got little cracks in your driveway, they could turn into the Grand Canyon if you ignore them. We’re going to talk about driveway repair, after this.

    NORM: Hi. I’m Norm Abram from This Old House and when we’re working on our projects, we listen to The Money Pit.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit has been brought to you by Andersen Windows. Replacing windows or patio doors is always a big decision. Lowering energy bills? Well, that’s easy. And Andersen Windows, the number-one brand of windows in America, makes replacing your old, drafty windows easy with the new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Available at The Home Depot.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we typically think of spring as allergy season but truth is, you can get allergens in your home year-round. Go to our website at MoneyPit.com and search “allergy relief” and we can help. We’ve got 10 great tips on breathing easier in your home.

    LESLIE: Now we’re taking a call from Alberta in Arkansas working on a window project. How can we help you with that?

    ALBERTA: Yeah, I’ve got vinyl windows that are the drop-downs so you can clean them and they’re real stiff; they’re hard to open and close. And I was wondering if there’s anything I can do to make them easier.

    TOM: Have you tried to use any lithium grease on them?

    ALBERTA: I haven’t used anything, no.

    TOM: So what you might want to do is – there are different types of lubricants that are available. You know, WD-40 probably is one of the most famous ones.

    ALBERTA: Yeah.

    TOM: But you can also buy in a spray can, lithium, and it has a tube that comes out of the top of the spray nozzle. You can get it right into the area along the jambs, between the operating sash and the jamb of the window and kind of spray it up and down. If you overspray a little bit, you can go wipe it down. And that will lubricate that jamb and reduce the friction.

    ALBERTA: Is the lithium better than the WD-40?

    TOM: It tends to stick around a little bit longer. It’s a little thicker.


    TOM: In a pinch, you can use WD but you may have to do it again.

    ALBERTA: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, asphalt driveways are the personal roadways of our homes but just like the roads we travel to work, they certainly take a lot of abuse: extreme weather, sun, road salt, you name it.

    TOM: That’s right. And from cracks to potholes to just general wear and tear, asphalt driveways need regular care to be able to stand up to the test of time. Here to tell us how to do just that is landscaping contractor Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House.

    And Roger, this is a project I end up doing about every two years. I’d love to identify a more durable solution to keeping that driveway in good shape. Any ideas?

    ROGER: Move. No, it’s an ongoing process because you think about a driveway, it sits out and it bakes all summer long and then it freezes all winter long, so there is going to be some movement in it. And you will get, eventually, hairline cracks and even the pavement itself just needs to be recovered with the oil. The oil will dry out.

    TOM: And I think a lot of us assume that our driveways should be just as durable as the roads that we drive on but those roads are built quite different than a driveway. And driveways, there seems to be a wide variety to it in terms of how well they’re built. Some of them are thinner, some of them are thicker, some have a good base, some don’t. And you can tell as time goes on.

    ROGER: You sure can. In some cases, you can even get ruts in the driveway where you drive because it’s not good material underneath it. But the key is to save that driveway for as long as you can. It’s thousands of dollars to replace a driveway. It’s a big job that you cannot do yourself as a homeowner. But you can go out and you can fill cracks and you can reseal the driveway and get more life out of it.

    LESLIE: So is it better to sort of start with repairing the cracks, potholes, et cetera that you might be noticing in your driveway before you go ahead and reseal it?

    ROGER: Yes. Hopefully, it hasn’t gotten to that point when you’re there. You can catch everything early because like anything else, the smaller the crack, the easier it is to seal and keep from getting bigger. And that’s the thing: when a crack opens up in the driveway, water goes in and then it freezes and it opens the crack more, more and more. So we’re – hopefully, we can intervene in that cycle and stop it from ruining the driveway.

    TOM: Now, what about the low spots or the sort of the mini-potholes? Is there a patching product you can use for those?

    ROGER: There is. There’s a couple of them. One is a very – type that can go on very thin. But a lot of time, with those potholes, you really have to dig out and excavate and then use a different product which is good for 2 inches of compaction.

    TOM: And that’s more like a stone, kind of blacktop patch sort of product, right?

    ROGER: Yeah, it’s literally the stuff you see them using on the street again. And then, what you would do is after you patch that area, you should reseal the whole driveway. Because otherwise, you’re going to have little black spots all over the place.

    LESLIE: And that’s really a project that you need to have enough materials start to finish; you don’t want to stop midway.

    ROGER: Right.

    LESLIE: So how do you know that you’re getting enough for the job?

    ROGER: You buy that product in a 5-gallon bucket. It usually weighs about 55 pounds. Now, that bucket usually covers 300 to 400 feet. So you can get pretty close, boy, using that amount, because there’s nothing worse than getting halfway through the job and not having enough to finish. If you get an extra bucket, you can always return it. There’s nothing worse than trying to run down while the other stuff is drying and grab a bucket and get back in time to blend it all together.

    TOM: Now, any preferences on sealer type? I know there’s solvent-based and there’s latex products today.

    ROGER: I’ve been with the solvent-based ones and had good luck with those. The key, I think, is to use one of the squeegee-type brushes they have to put it on with and get a nice, even coat.

    TOM: Right. And those are inexpensive, so you pretty much can – one use and throw it away, right?

    ROGER: They’re really not good for anything after you have them spreading that …

    TOM: Yeah. You don’t want to have to clean those, right?

    ROGER: No, no, don’t try that.

    LESLIE: And wear good, protective clothing covers, because it does not come off of anything. I’ve got some work boots to show that it’s never going to go away.

    ROGER: And do not walk in the house afterwards without inspecting the shoes, because you don’t think you have any on you and you go walking across the kitchen floor and someone will bring to your attention that you will be cleaning the floor.

    TOM: And very quickly.

    Now, what if the driveway is just structurally deteriorated? Is there a point where it makes sense to have another layer added to it or just to take it completely down and start from scratch?

    ROGER: You know, if you put a layer on top of it, it’s still bad underneath.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: And eventually, it’s going to fail. So it’s the economics of is – it’s less expensive to just put a layer over the top than obviously it is to come and rip out what you have, take away a foot of material, put a foot of gravel, compact it and then come back and re-asphalt the driveway.

    TOM: Good advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Oh, it’s great. Primetime drive.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a step-by-step video on how you can repair your driveway, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you by Stanley. Stanley, make something great.

    Up next, drafts in your home can make you very uncomfortable but they are easy to fix if you can find them. We’ll tell you how to spot and seal up those sneaky draft spots, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by TotalProtect Home Warranty. Get total protection against unexpected home repair or replacement costs for appliances, air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical. Visit BuyTotalProtect.com to see if you qualify for a special offer. That’s BuyTotalProtect.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, one caller who makes it on the air with us is going to be able to scare off intruders with a high-tech home security system that delivers a 110-decibel siren. We’re giving away the Swann Security Wireless Home Security System this hour worth $130.

    The system sets with a remote and it won’t go off unless something really human-sized moves in front of it, so you’re not going to get false alarms if Fluffy, the neighborhood cat, jumps in front of it. Great prize up for grabs right now to one lucky caller chosen at random. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    PETE: Well, I’ve got lime deposits in my toilets and I’ve got probably five toilets in my house that I’d like to get them out of it. They’re around the upper part of the rim where the water comes out and then down in the bowl.

    TOM: OK.

    PETE: And I’ve tried LIME-A-WAY and I tried a vinegar soak. Maybe I just didn’t do it long enough but I’d like to find a way to get those lime deposits out of there and get my toilets looking nice.

    TOM: Have you tried CLR?

    PETE: Yes, I have.

    TOM: You have tried CLR and CLR didn’t do it either?

    PETE: Didn’t do it, no.

    TOM: Well, Pete, if the commercial cleaners like CLR and LIME-A-WAY are not working, there’s a couple other things that you can try but you have to be very careful. One of them is to use something that’s abrasive, like pumice or like a rubbing compound. And you can try to abrade away the deposit.

    Theoretically, these abrasives are softer than the porcelain but you have to do it very carefully. You don’t want to rough the surface of the porcelain because if you do, it’ll get dirtier that much quicker the next time around.

    Some folks also use muriatic acid. I don’t like to recommend that because it’s pretty harsh stuff and you’ve got to be super, super careful when you use it.

    PETE: Yeah.

    TOM: But it is a possibility, as well.

    And then, the other thing that you can try is you did use vinegar but I don’t know if you mixed it with baking soda.

    LESLIE: Yeah, because that helps.

    TOM: And that helps, as well. You kind of make it into a paste and let it stand for a while and then you rinse it.

    PETE: OK.

    TOM: So, there’s a couple of additional things that you can try.

    I also found a great article online. Whenever you find an article from a university or an extension service, it’s usually pretty well-researched. And if you just Google “removing mineral deposits and North Carolina Cooperative,” you’ll find it. And it’s an extensive article that’s a little old but has a lot of great suggestions in it. And specifically, it has solutions for the different types of deposits that you get on these fixtures, whether it’s rust, iron, copper, what kinds of stain it is and so on.

    PETE: That sounds great. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

    TOM: Well, it’s time now for today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron, makers of the Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch.

    LESLIE: Well, if you want to get the most out of your energy dollar, you know you’ve got to keep out the drafts. But drafts, they aren’t always found in those obvious places.

    TOM: Yes, there are many sneaky places that drafts can exist, like switch plates and outlets on exterior walls. One of my favorites to nail down, it’s that plate that covers the light switch and the plate that covers the wall outlet, again, only on the exterior wall. But the fix is easy. You can seal them with foam gaskets that are installed under the cover of the light switch or the outlet cover.

    LESLIE: And you know what? You really should have them, because foam gaskets cost just pennies. And they should be added under each and every light switch or outlet that you’ve got on the exterior walls of your home. You can also seal any larger gaps with expandable foam and that’ll stop the airflow.

    TOM: Easy fix. You can do it today for just pennies. And that’s today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron. Easy upgrades, big impact. Choose Lutron. Learn more at ChooseLutron.com.

    LESLIE: Katherine in Wisconsin is on the line with a soundproofing issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    KATHERINE: I live in a condo with a basement and there’s an I-beam that runs through the basement. And when I’m in the basement, I can hear my neighbors from two houses down talking in their living room, because their voices travel down the I-beam.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: Crazy.

    KATHERINE: So I was interested in covering the I-beam somehow to reduce the noise but I wasn’t sure what the best way to do that would be.

    TOM: Well, there’s a couple things you can do. First of all, can you frame in the I-beam so that it’s – like has something that we can attach a drywall to?

    KATHERINE: Yeah, yeah. I could. I just wasn’t sure what to do that with or if that would help.

    TOM: OK. So once you – yeah, once you frame it in, there’s a product called QuietRock.


    TOM: And it’s a soundproofing drywall. It’s sold at Lowe’s. It’s pretty expensive. I mean regular drywall is 5 bucks a sheet; QuietRock is about 40 bucks a sheet. So it’s pretty expensive but you don’t need a lot.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But if she can hear them, they can hear her.

    TOM: Yeah. But you don’t need a lot. You know, you don’t need a lot. So, if you can frame in that beam and you’re sure that’s where it’s coming from, you may want to think about using QuietRocks to actually cover the I-beam and that should do the trick.

    KATHERINE: Oh, really? So I wouldn’t need to put additional insulation between the …

    TOM: No. Insulation is – insulation doesn’t really work as a soundproofing material.


    TOM: It’s kind of a misnomer to think that insulation works on a wall. It’s cheap but it really doesn’t do much. The QuietRock absorbs the vibration of the sound and I think that’s what you need to do.

    KATHERINE: OK, great. And the QuietRock is just spelled like it sounds?

    TOM: Yep. Q-u-i-e-t – Rock. If you go to Lowes.com, you can find it right there. And I was able to find it; I needed it for a project. I was able to find it right in my local Lowe’s.

    KATHERINE: Thank you. Bye.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up, if you love to cook, you’ve probably been left with grease stuck on your kitchen cabinets from time to time. We’re going to have some easy cleaning tips, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit has been brought to you by Andersen Windows. Replacing windows or patio doors is always a big decision. Lowering energy bills? Well, that’s easy. And Andersen Windows, the number-one brand of windows in America, makes replacing your old, drafty windows easy with the new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Available at The Home Depot.

    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: Hey, have you ever heard a tip on The Money Pit and wished you could hear it again? Well, you can. Just go to our site and download the podcasts. It’s free or even better, you can download The Money Pit iPhone app and take us with you wherever you go. It all starts at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And while you’re online, you can head on over to the Community section of Money Pit, which is really great. You can share your projects, you can blog about what you’re working on, you can ask questions, just like Katie in California posted. And she writes: “My dad just moved into a new house. The kitchen cabinets are in good shape except they’ve got caked-on grease. It’s obviously been there a while and I can’t get it off. Do you have any cleaning suggestions?”

    Now, I know when I have a good buildup of grease on a situation, like a home makeover show that we’re working on, I use – simply spray Orange Glo. I find that that works really well. You may have to do a couple of applications, spray it on. You may even want to take the door off and kind of soak it on, if you’re dealing with a lot, and then really wipe it off.

    But Tom has got a little bit more of an industrial solution that might help, too.

    TOM: Well, I go in a different direction. That’s fine for the light grease but if you’ve really got caked-on grease, what other thing that you interact with every day of your life, like most of us, has caked-on grease? Your engine, right? Your car engine? So, there are products that are designed to degrease car engines that actually can work well in the house, too. And one of them is called Castrol.

    Castrol is an engine degreaser. Comes in a spray-on bottle so you have pretty good control of it. So you can take this with a rag, spray it on, let it sit a little bit and work on it. If you do it gingerly, you’re not going to damage the cabinet. And it’s a much better degreaser than what is usually sold for kitchen cabinets and for other types of degreasing around the stove. So take a look at that. It’s the stuff in the purple bottle: the Castrol Engine Degreaser.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that should really do the trick. But really, when it comes to degreasing cabinets, it’s going to be a little bit of elbow grease. Ha ha. But some elbow grease and then, of course, some maintenance. So, really, stay on top of it.

    Alright. Butch in Maine writes: “I have a ton of trees in my yard that seem to drop all of their leaves into my gutter system. Can you give me your opinion on gutter guards? Wow, there’s so many different kinds on the market.” True.

    TOM: Well, there are. And I do think it’s a good idea to have gutter guards. They do work well. There are a bunch that are on the market. The kind that I like the best are the ones that are usually louvered and they cover the entire top of the gutter. And what happens is the water will fall in through the louver and the debris will wash over the top.

    Now, there are also very similar ones where it’s solid on top and they really rely on the surface-tension capabilities of the water to kind of hug the gutter cover and then fall into the gutter below. The only problem with the solid-metal ones is that if you get a really major downfall, I’ve seen the water shoot right off the roof, right over the gutters, just kind of skid right out like a wave coming at you that it can’t just stop.

    But I do think that one of those types of gutter covers – either the solid one or the one that’s louvered – works very well and a whole lot better than screens, which just cake up and get gunked up and then you have to take them off and clean the gutters anyway.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s really a lot of scraping and everything just seems to build up on the screens. But definitely, having something over not having something will help a huge amount.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this beautiful fall hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some ideas to help with your fall fix-up projects. If there’s something that you need to do and you don’t know where to start, where to begin, you can get in touch with us by calling 888-MONEY-PIT 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or log on to MoneyPit.com and post your question in the Community section.

    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 2012 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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