Preventing Burglars from Ruining Your Vacation, Home Inspection Tips for Buyers and Sellers and Easy A/C Install Tips to Keep Cool in Summer
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: We are here to help you. So what are you working on on this beautiful summer weekend? If it’s your house, you’re in exactly the right place. Give us a call right now. Let’s talk about what’s on your to-do list. We’ll slide it over to the done list with some advice on how to get that project done quickly, efficiently and right so you won’t have to do it again. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We’d love to talk to you.
Coming up this hour, it’s the summer-vacation season. It’s often a bonanza, though, for burglars. So we’ve got some simple and low-cost steps that you can take, right now, to keep your home safe.
LESLIE: Plus, if you’re planning to buy or sell a home, you do not want to do that without getting a professional home inspector. But how do you find a good one? Well, we’re going to have tips from Randy Sipe, the president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, in a bit.
TOM: And as we head into the dog days of summer, are you ready for relief from that sweltering heat? We’ll have tips that can help, just ahead.
LESLIE: Plus, spray paint is an easy way to transform everyday objects into something new and unique. And we’ve got a supply of Krylon’s beautiful Sea Glass Finish to give away. It’s a really unique product that can turn your ordinary glass accents into beautiful, beach-inspired pieces in as little as 15 minutes.
TOM: Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Judy from Illinois is on the line and is dealing with some changes in a hardwood floor. How can we help you?
JUDY: Well, I have a little problem in the winter with my hardwood flooring separating. And I can kind of see down in there. And I was wondering about a whole-house humidifierin the winter to keep that from happening, because it’s fine in the summer, what you would suggest.
TOM: A whole-house humidifier is a good thing when you have forced-air heat that’s gas or oil or propane, because that tends to be extremely dry. I would encourage you to use a very good-quality unit, like an Aprilaire. Because there are a lot of units that don’t work very well and they don’t work very long, especially the kind that spray water into the duct system, as opposed to the Aprilaire unit, which has an evaporator pad where the water sort of trickles down this pad and then it evaporates into the house air that way.
So, a humidifier can help. If the gaps are particularly large, you can also fill them with jute – j-u-t-e – jute type of rope. And then you could refinish over top of that. Sometimes, if the gaps are really big, that’s a good thing to put in the middle of it because it kind of blends in with the floor and doesn’t show through.
LESLIE: Yeah. And Tom, sometimes I finish the jute roping before I even lay it in. Like I’ll dip it in a can of the same color of stain and sort of work it in with my fingers. And then once it dries, then I squish it into place with a painter’s knife.
JUDY: Well, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for contacting us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got David from Illinois on the line who’s got a question about a well system. How can we help you today?
DAVID: It’s my son’s well. He has a well in his house and it – the water system has air pockets in it quite often so that the water will be running and then an air pocket will expel water.
DAVID: And sometimes, it’ll shoot out of the sink or what-have-you. And so, I was wanting to know what you can do to get rid of the air pockets in a well system.
TOM: Does the system have a pressure tank on it, David?
DAVID: It has a pressure tank, I believe.
TOM: That sounds like a problem with the pressure tank. If the pressure tank is missing or if it’s not installed properly or if the bladder has failed, then you’re not getting a chance to build up pressure and then feed off the tank. You might be feeding directly from the well, which could account for the air blast.
So the first thing I would do is look at the pressure tank, see what kind of condition that that’s in. That’s most likely what’s causing the air getting into the lines. I think that’s the best step, OK?
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Kay is on the line now and she needs some help painting a door.
Kay, tell us about your project.
KAY: Yeah. And I listen to you every week you’re on.
TOM: Well, thank you so much.
LESLIE: Oh, thanks, Kay.
KAY: I wanted to paint my wood door. It’s a very old wood door. And we lived here since ’69 and I’m trying to keep it original. It’s red now.
KAY: My husband painted it only one coat and I think it was blue.
KAY: It needs another coat to make it real red but I want to paint it white.
TOM: Well, I mean the color is a personal preference. So, to paint this door, the best thing to do is to take it off of the hinges and lay it flat on a couple of sawhorses. And then you want to sand the old surface. You want to make sure you get rid of any flaking paint, any cracked paint, because you can’t put good paint over bad paint. You’ve got to get all that stuff off.
KAY: It’s not cracking or anything. It’s smooth as can be.
TOM: Alright. So then he must have done a great job when he painted it last time.
KAY: He did. He sanded it down to the wood. It was all, you know, original wood, so it’s really smooth. That’s why I wasn’t sure and I don’t know if I can get the paint off like if you – and I didn’t want to scrape it.
TOM: Well, I don’t think you have to take all the old paint off. If it’s adhering well, then you’re good to go on it. So sand it down and then I would recommend that you put a coat of primer on. Because this will make sure that the new paint adheres as well as the old paint did.
Primer is kind of the glue that makes the paint stick. So, put the primer on.
KAY: Will KILZ work? Because I’ve got a gallon of KILZ.
TOM: It’ll work fine, yep. You put the KILZ on, let it dry and then you could put your topcoat on that.
KAY: To sand it, what do I have to do? Knock the sheen off?
TOM: Yeah, knock the sheen off. Exactly right. You don’t have to sand it down to the raw wood but you have to get that sheen off. So a medium grit, like 100-grit sandpaper, would work really well, OK?
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, summer is a busy season for burglars, especially while you are away. We’ve got simple and low-cost ways to keep your house secure, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour we’re giving away a $40 supply of Krylon spray paint, including Krylon’s beautiful Sea Glass Finish to bring the colors of the beach and feel the ocean right into your home.
This is great stuff. It creates a semi-translucent and sort of a smooth, frosty finish that looks like glass that’s been tumbled smooth by the waves. It’s available in eight nature-inspired and on-trend colors. And it can be easily applied to glass, creating decorative accents inside the home. It can basically turn ordinary glass accents into beautiful, beach-inspired pieces in as little as 15 minutes.
That’s the Krylon Sea Glass Finish. Learn more at Krylon.com. Krylon, make it yours.
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.
JAN: I had to put stairs on it and everything and it was a little loose different places, you know.
JAN: He took the job and I paid for 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?
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: Now we’ve got Louis in South Carolina on the line who’s got a driveway question.
LOUIS: I’ve got about a 20-year-old driveway and the gravel apparently didn’t get shook down good.
TOM: OK. OK.
LOUIS: And the rocks are showing through.
LOUIS: And I put some salt on it one time and that didn’t help it.
TOM: No. That made it worse, I’m sure.
LOUIS: And what I need is – I was hoping I could finish it with something that would bond to it rather than just having to redo the whole driveway.
TOM: Yep. OK. So, you can use an epoxy patching compound and trowel that on the driveway. Epoxy is important because epoxy will adhere to the concrete surface.
LOUIS: And where would you get something like that?
TOM: Oh, you can find that at a home center. If you take a look at QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E – QUIKRETE.com, they make that product, as do others.
LOUIS: And I could find a contractor somewhere that could do that?
TOM: Yes, you could or you could do it yourself, depending on your skill level. But essentially, the epoxy is important because it will attach and glue and adhere to the old concrete.
TOM: If you just try to put more concrete on there, it’s not going to work right.
LOUIS: It won’t crack and flake off?
TOM: No. That’s why – it’s designed to stick to old concrete surfaces and not flake off.
LOUIS: Well, I sure appreciate your helping me.
TOM: You’re very welcome, sir. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Well, summer season is when many of us take long vacations and that’s why break-ins increase this time of year. Fortunately, burglars don’t want to work hard. So if your home is not an easy target, they’re just going to move on. So, here are a few simple and inexpensive things that you can do to keep your home safe.
TOM: That’s right. First, eliminate dark, shadowy spots around your house by trimming back bushes and shrubs. You want to add motion-sensor lighting around the perimeter, use timers on inside lights so it appears like somebody is home and make sure you set those timers to have lights come on and off in different rooms of your house at different times, because that’s what’s going to really resemble someone being home and having a sort of normal activity in the house.
LESLIE: Yeah. And don’t leave anything outside that a burglar could use to get inside your house. Tools and ladders, they should be stored in a garage or even locked away in a shed. You also want to make sure that someone is taking in your newspaper and your mail. Leave some drapes open. I mean having all of your drapes and shades closed for an extended period of time really does send a signal that no one’s home. Plus, if somebody does manage to get in, nobody from the outside is going to see that.
TOM: Now, also have a neighbor use your driveway. Those comings and goings of the neighbor is going to make it look like your home is occupied. And if you can, have your calls forwarded. If not, turn down the ringer. And lastly, don’t tell everybody on social media you’re going away. That is unless A) you trust your friends and B) you’ve got those privacy settings set up right so the general public has no idea what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis.
LESLIE: Now we’re going over to Alaska where Mary has a question about siding. How can we help you today?
MARY: We recently sided our house with concrete siding. It’s 25 years old and underneath is plywood and then Tyvek. We used 4×8 or 4×12 panels that are prepainted but I can’t remember if they’re 4×8 or 4×12. And they’re attached to the plywood walls and they’re attached vertically. On that, we attached 2-inch batten, which was also prepainted at the factory. And those 2-inch battens run vertical on 8-inch centers.
MARY: My first question is: do I need to caulk where the batten attaches to the panels? And secondly, do I need to caulk the nail holes on the batten?
TOM: Well, you wouldn’t caulk where the batten attaches to the panels. You might use an adhesive in that area if that’s recommended by the siding manufacturer. In terms of the nail holes, generally, you don’t have to caulk nail holes. You know, as long as you’re not smashing the nails and breaking the siding, they’re usually tight enough around them where you do not have to caulk each individual nail head.
MARY: The nail holes have broken through the painted surface.
TOM: So, if they broke through the painted surface, it’s not a bad idea to touch them up with a little bit of caulk. But I wouldn’t be too concerned about it.
MARY: OK. And then you think that it needed to be caulked or adhered to behind the batten before it was attached?
TOM: Well, no. What I said was I don’t think you need to caulk it, because there’s really no seal between the siding and the batten or the strip of wood. What you might need to do there is – or an option might be to use an adhesive, like a construction adhesive, to help adhere the siding pieces to the batten. But I wouldn’t do that unless it was recommended by the manufacturer of the siding. They’re going to have specifications for how to install the siding. And if it tells you to use an adhesive, use it; if not, you just fasten it with the nails.
MARY: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Mary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jackie in Colorado is working on a flooring project. How can we lend you a hand?
JACKIE: I have a battleship linoleum on the floor. I can live with it but it’s starting to crack in front of the door in the furnace. And it was probably put down in 1930 but …
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what, those old linoleum floors, they lasted a long time. But I think, Jackie, it’s time for you to consider redecorating.
JACKIE: There’s no way I’m going to get this floor up.
JACKIE: I know it’s underneath some old boards and I have a half-a-basement underneath. And when I walk across it, it squeaks, so I know it’s the flooring underneath the linoleum. It’s probably not good.
TOM: Well, the fact that it squeaks doesn’t mean it’s not good; it just means that it’s dry and there’s – perhaps loose and some boards are rubbing against each other. Quieting the squeaks is one thing; getting a new floor is another. So, let’s just talk about how to quiet the squeaks first.
And this is something that a pro can do for you. Your floor, no matter how old it is, is going to be installed and secured to floor joists below – floor beams below. A pro can identify where those beams are and they can drive screws from the floor, through the subfloor, through the linoleum and into the floor below. Doing that every 12 to 18 inches will stabilize that floor and cause it to squeak less. Be unlikely to expect no squeaks but you’ll definitely quiet it down.
Now, once that’s done, you could put a new floor on top of that. And one of the easiest, new floors to put down is laminate flooring. Laminate flooring doesn’t actually physically attach to the old floor; it floats over it. The panels all snap together and they are cut up to about a ¼-inch away from the wall. And then you trim the edge that’s left and it looks terrific and it’s incredibly durable. I’m not going to tell you it’s going to last the 80 years that your first floor lasted but I tell you what, I’ve had it in my house for over a decade and it’s worked great. And we brought three kids up on it.
JACKIE: I went to a department store in Home Depot and he said, well, the only thing he would recommend – he said, “You can’t put tile or anything like that, marble.” He said it will not work. But he said, “We have what they call a ‘floating floor.'”
TOM: Yeah, that’s the same thing. It’s not attached; it floats on the old floor. But laminate is the type of material that you’re interested in. They sell it at Home Depot. Lots of different types are there. You can also look at a website like LumberLiquidators.com. You can buy this laminate floor from anywhere from about, oh, roughly $3 a square foot to maybe $5 a square foot. So it’s not terribly expensive and it’s beautiful.
It comes in many different designs. If you want it to look like tile, it can. If you want it to look like old hardwood floors, it can. And if you want it to look like linoleum again, it could do that. So you choose the design that matches the house.
JACKIE: Sounds good then. So, I just need to go back and tell him I need a floating floor.
TOM: Yeah, laminate. Laminate is what you’re looking for. And have it installed professionally, OK, Jackie? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey. This time of year, are you guys thinking about buying or selling your house? Well, don’t do a thing until you get yourself a professional home inspector. Don’t know how to do it? Well, we’re going to share some tips when the ASHI president – that’s the American Society of Home Inspectors president – stops by, so stick around.
ANNOUNCER: Today’s Money Pit is presented by Haier, the world’s number-one appliance brand. Stay cool this summer with a Haier Serenity Series Air Conditioner. Quieter than the average window air conditioners, yet cool your home effectively and efficiently. Learn more at HaierAmerica.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.
TOM: Well, if you’re thinking of buying or even selling a home, there’s one step in the process that you don’t ever want to forget. And that’s getting a professional home inspection.
LESLIE: That’s right. Not only will your inspector help you make sure that your home is structurally and mechanically sound, they do that without any conflict of interest, because they never work on homes that they inspect.
TOM: With us to learn more is Randy Sipe, the president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, the nation’s leading home inspection association.
RANDY: Thank you, Tom and Leslie.
TOM: And by way of full disclosure, I am actually still a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. As you guys know, did it for about 20 years. So really glad to get you on today and find out kind of what’s new in the industry. What are home inspectors looking for today, Randy, that perhaps they didn’t years back?
RANDY: Things have changed a lot. The way that – the in-depthness (ph) of the inspection. People expect a lot more with the internet activity people have. They can Google about everything. So, they’re looking at the home inspector for the next step. So when the home inspector points things out to them, they’re going to have a lot more questions because they’re more knowledgeable as a buyer today.
TOM: And I think those educated buyers actually are a terrific compliment to the home inspector’s skill set because we love when folks ask us questions and do take that next sort of deep dive into the content.
RANDY: That is true. And I love your show, The Money Pit, because that’s exactly – a money pit can be everything from something that needs a lot of work to something that doesn’t need - or on the surface need a lot of work.
TOM: Well, for us, it’s a term of endearment, you know? We love our homes but we’re always pumping money into them.
For those that are not familiar with home inspectors, Randy, let’s talk about the unique skill set that inspectors have, which I think a lot of folks don’t appreciate, and also, just as important, how they avoid conflicts of interest. There are so many contractors out there that offer “free inspections” and then miraculously find problems that they invite you to hire them to fix.
RANDY: And you’re right, Tom. And that’s one thing that the ASHI members can be proud of is that our code of ethics prohibit us from making any other type of financial gain off the property that we inspected. So when we walk in on a property to do the inspection, we have nothing else to gain other than inform the buyer of the condition of the property that we’re looking at.
LESLIE: Is there a most common issue that the home inspectors are finding or is it just really so different from property to property?
RANDY: There’s always the same issues you see about on every house. Depending on the age, it changes. But grading issues are always something we have to pay attention to, especially for water getting intrusion into the basements or giving us foundation problems. Those seem to be a constant adjustment for people and they don’t realize that. And it’s as simple as gutters: gutters clogging up, backing water up to the house or causing ice dams in the winter. These are things that we commonly see.
TOM: Now, if folks are shopping for a home inspector, how do you do an apples-to-apples comparison? How do you find the best pro for your particular project?
RANDY: Well, that’s a great question. And you have to ask a lot of questions. The first thing, of course – and I being an ASHI inspector, I would ask that. Are you an ASHI-certified inspector? And let me tell you what that means because nobody else does that. A certified ASHI inspector means that they’ve undergone a rigorous battery of exams. There’s a third-party organization that has certified us as a truly certified organization. We’re the only people that have done that so far. So we don’t have a committee that says you’re certified. We actually have a third-party group that does national certifications that have already told us what the criterias that they have to meet to get to that stage.
So I would also ask questions. “How long have you done this?” “What did you do previously?” I think those are two of the key important things. Because what the current market condition – the way it is, lots of sales going on, people are saying, “I kind of like that profession. Maybe that’s what I want to do.” But I’m telling you that you have to have a good educational background in construction, you have to know – you have to have that third eye, you have to have that detective mind to go into a house and not just look at what’s on the surface. You have to actually really dig deep. When something doesn’t look right, you need to know where to look to find out why it is not right.
LESLIE: Now, Randy, because you have this investigative sort of background, as it goes into the home inspection arena, when you’re seeing all of these issues that are going on in a home, do you think there’s something that you’re learning there that you can share with homeowners so that maybe they can do some DIY maintenance that can help them avoid major issues?
RANDY: Well, sure, Leslie. And I’ll tell you what: everybody puts things off to the back burner and well, it just doesn’t seem that important to them. But I’m going to tell you, water intrusion is the worst thing that can happen to a house. If you have an old roof, be proactive, get the roof changed. If you have an old water heater that’s 12 years old, it’s getting on in its life, be proactive, get that water heater replaced. Because guess when it’s going to break and water’s going to go all over your home. It’s when you’re not at home and there’s no way to shut the water off. So you need to be proactive on things that have an expected life expectancy and get them changed before they fail on you.
TOM: We’re talking to Randy Sipe. He’s the president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. If you are buying or selling a home, you should not, not, not do that without the skill set of an American Society of Home Inspector-certified inspector taking a look at that.
We’ve talked about buyers. Let’s talk about sellers. I think there’s a lot of benefits that sellers can gain by having that home inspected before it goes on the market, right?
RANDY: Oh, absolutely, Tom. And it’s surprising. People get complacent with things. They forget about a dripping faucet. They forget about things. They just live with these things. So when that inspector comes in and he starts going through the house and he makes a good, what I call, “honey-do list” for these people, now he knows what he needs to do. Some things might be in their skill set, which would be an easy fix. Some things may be not. But he now has a full awareness, so if he doesn’t get up the 11th hour before closing and now, all of a sudden, the deal starts to fall apart because there’s too many things. He can be very proactive in that sense.
TOM: Good advice. If you are buying or selling a home, please get a professional home inspector. You can find the best ones in the nation by going to HomeInspector.org. That’s HomeInspector.org, the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Randy Sipe, the president, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
RANDY: Well, thank you, Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: Well, if the dog days of summer are getting you down, now might be a great time to install a new room air conditioner. We’re going to have tips on how to do just that, 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.
Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement questions. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a super-summery craft supply. We’ve got 40 bucks worth of Krylon spray paint. And that includes Krylon’s beautiful Sea Glass Finish.
I mean it really does bring the colors of the beach and the feel of the ocean into your home.
And I’ve seen the spray-paint colors. I used it on a couple of episodes of Good Bones. And the colors truly do replicate beach glass. Very, very beautiful. It’s available in eight, nature-inspired and on-trend colors that you can easily apply to any glass objects in your home. And that really creates a decorative accent that you’ve just made personal and all your own, right inside your house. And the best part is you can create beautiful, beach-inspired pieces in as little as 15 minutes.
You can learn more at Krylon.com. Krylon, make it yours.
TOM: Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mario in Iowa is on the line with a window question. What can we do for you?
MARIO: I have a frame and obviously, it’s a rectangle. But the top side of that rectangle on the existing frame of the masonry in the bedroom, it’s metal. It’s a metal bar. And I’m replacing my old window with a [Glass Works] (ph) preassembled window.
MARIO: And the mortar – the manufacturer of the mortar, I contacted them and they say that mortar does not adhere to metal. So, I am going to have a gap between the top side metal bar and the window at about a ½-inch. And I’m curious what your recommendation is: whether I should just seal it or actually try to find some material to bond it, not just seal it.
TOM: So, the gap is going to be on the top or the bottom? What about the sides?
MARIO: The sides are OK because they’re masonry; they’re cement. So that’s not a concern. It’s some sort of – there was some sort of reinforcing bar put into the top of the frame, I assume, for some structural reason. So that’s my only real concern. The other three sides are masonry and the mortar works fine there.
TOM: Is this the kind of thing that maybe you could use pressure-treated lumber – a ½-inch piece of – a ½-inch-thick piece of, say, pressure-treated lumber/plywood or pressure-treated plywood as a shim?
MARIO: Yes, I would think so, yes.
TOM: Yeah, because I think that’s what I would probably use, something like that. Because you want to basically close down the opening so that the window can be secured. And you could attach the pressure-treated lumber to the old masonry opening and then attach the window to that.
MARIO: OK. That’s a very good suggestion. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, it’s time now for another Cool Tip for a Hot Summer, presented by Haier, the world’s number-one appliance brand and your expert in air-quality solutions.
So, if the dog days of summer are getting to you, now might be a great time to install a new room air conditioner. But before you install room air conditioners, it’s a good idea to check your home’s wiring for the right circuit, amperage and voltage. You want to avoid lines that are loaded with appliances. If a fuse or circuit breaker keeps tripping, you need to shut off the unit and check the load and the wiring.
Now, if you can’t find a convenient outlet or the one that you use keeps tripping, it’s a smart idea to have an electrician add an additional circuit to make room for the new appliance.
LESLIE: Yeah. Also, you want to be sure that that outlet is properly grounded. Never remove the grounding prong from the plug. If it’s possible, try to install the unit in a shaded window.
Also, you want to keep warm air out by weatherstripping your doors and windows and keeping them tightly closed. And if you have a fireplace, by sure to close the dampers and seal the opening to the attic or any other uncooled area that’s connected to your home.
TOM: From air conditioners and dehumidifiers to space heaters and kitchen ventilation, Haier has just the thing to keep every room in your house comfortable this summer and year-round. Learn more at HaierAmerica.com. That’s H-a-i-e-r – America.com.
LESLIE: Ruth in California is on the line with a patio question. How can we help you today?
RUTH: I am wondering how I can get rid of the mold – permanently get rid of the mold – on my patio. It’s a pebble surface. And I’ve tried Roman Cleanser, you know, Clorox? And it takes care of it for a while and then it comes right back.
TOM: There’s a product on the market called Concrobium Mold Control and their website is CureMyMold.com. Now, they have a deck wash that I think would work for this. And the nice thing about the Concrobium products is they leave a protective barrier on the surface when it dries. So not only does it kill and help clean up the existing mold but it leaves a protective barrier that makes it a lot less likely for the mold to grow back.
Concrobium Mold Control. Just go to CureMyMold.com and that is a great product that’s non-toxic and works very well.
RUTH: OK. So it won’t bother the grass or anything around the patio.
TOM: Correct. Exactly.
RUTH: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Doug in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DOUG: I’ve got a 30-year-old home here in Northeast Texas. Wanting to know the best way to upgrade my insulation in the attic. It has what I would call – it looked like a recycled newspaper, maybe, blown in there. Probably about 2½, 3 inches thick. And wondering if I could just blow a new type of insulation on top of it. Or do I need to do preparation first?
TOM: Yeah, you can add additional insulation and that makes a lot of sense. But I would not put new insulation on top of that old insulation. Because the old insulation is probably settled down, compressed and it’s not insulating as well as it should. So what I would recommend is that you remove the existing insulation.
Then, if you want to go with blown-in, there’s actually a product out now that allows you to do your own blown-in insulation. It’s from Owens Corning and it’s called AttiCat. And the way AttiCat works is you go to your local Home Depot and you purchase the bags of AttiCat insulation. And if you buy 10 bags, they will give you the blowing machine for free. The rental – there’s no charge for the rental.
And then the blowing machine gets positioned outside your house or in your garage or whatever. The insulation packages slide into it. It’s almost designed as a slot; you put it right in the side. You take the hose up to your attic and it’s remote-controlled, so you can turn the machine on and off and control the flow.
And then, this type of insulation gets into the nooks and crannies, it expands nicely and it’s low dust. So it’s a very easy way to do your own blown-in insulation and get a really good, contiguous, solid application of insulation in that attic.
LESLIE: And a targeted application, as well.
TOM: Yeah. And you could do a whole house in about four hours.
DOUG: OK. Great. Well, I appreciate the advice. I’d like to maybe get a big vacuum cleaner to get the old up.
TOM: Yeah. The new insulation will go in in four hours. Getting the old stuff out, though, that’s going to be a day. Good luck with that project.
DOUG: Alright. Thank you for your help.
LESLIE: Coming up, what do you do with your indoor fireplace during the off-season? Well, you dress it up, of course, so you’ve got something beautiful to look at when there’s not a fire in it roaring. We’ll tell you what to do, next.
TOM: 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 or you can post your question online to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got a post here from Ed about a porch.
TOM: That’s right. Ed says, “My existing front stair and brick-concrete front porch needs extensive repair or replacement. Can I have a wood or composite stair and porch installed over the existing porch? Or does the existing need to be removed totally?”
Well, it’s possible, Ed, that you could skin that porch with a new wood porch but it’s really not the right thing to do. I think it’s going to come back to haunt you. I would tell you to remove the old porch first. And if you want to go with a wood porch, that’s great. Start from scratch, get a building permit, make sure that roof above the porch is properly supported. That’s where most of these projects go horribly wrong, because people start to disassemble the porch without supporting the roof above it. So that is the first thing that has to be done. The roof has to be supported, the old porch torn out and a new porch installed, in that order.
So, I just think that’s a much better job than trying to wrap it over the existing porch. It would be sloppy and unprofessional. I think it would devalue your house. So I would – try to stick to our general advice here, Ed, of do it once, do it right and not have to do it again.
Next up, we have a question from Bonnie who writes: “Is it possible my house is built over a spring that becomes active during periods of heavy rain as the result of a water table rising?”
It’s possible but here’s the thing, Bonnie: if you are getting floods that are consistent with those heavy rains, that is never caused by a rising water table; it’s always caused by poor drainage. If you do have a rising water table, it’s something that happens slowly over the entire season and it’s generally worse in the wintertime. It doesn’t happen sort of as an action-reaction to one heavy rainstorm. If you are getting leaks as a result of that storm, I would look at your gutters, your grading, your drainage, get those downspouts extended, because that’s usually what causes most of the leaks in situations like that.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it really could boil down to being something so small and easily fixable to cause a gigantic flood. I had a big flood in my basement and it was simply a disconnected downspout. And once we figured out where all this water was coming from – I mean it made a huge mess but once we got it all fixed up, the basement’s been dry. Luckily, we haven’t had a problem since. Here, I’m knocking on wood. I’m choosing my forehead.
TOM: Well, a fireplace is a welcome addition in the cold season but in the summer, it’s just kind of this big, brick hole, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Leslie has tips on how to spruce up that space in the off-season, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. Guys, a fireplace that’s not in use can sometimes be an eyesore in your room. But there are great ways that you can dress it up and then incorporate it into your décor scheme.
First of all, think about replacing the logs with a group of maybe large pillar candles or even a stylish candleholder that maybe has multiple levels. This way, even when it’s not lit, the candles will just be a nice touch.
You could also put fresh flowers or even a nice plant in there. Ferns do very well in the shade and they add a beautiful punch of life and green to your room, which just feels so summery to me.
And finally, consider a fireplace screen. Now, you can buy some really beautiful ones. You’ll probably find them on sale. I’ve even seen ones with little, glass votive holders that are sort of attached to the front, that really look lovely with candles in it themselves. Or you can make one out of wood. It’s really simple. You can use MDF or plywood, put three pieces together and then you can personalize it. You can paint an image on it, you can decoupage some images from magazines or little cutouts that you like or even family photos. There’s really no reason why you can’t make a piece that’s so beautiful and totally your own so that the fireplace works year-round.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, creating a beautiful living space outdoors doesn’t require walls or a ceiling, just a beautiful floor. We’re going to have tips on how to create the perfect patio, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2016 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.)