4 Things to Know Before Building a Shed

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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are so glad you’re here today with us. It is our job, our mission to educate, to inspire, to help you build confidence on projects you’d like to get done and to simply guide you on how to get those done once, get it done right so you don’t have to do them again. But your job is to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question to us at MoneyPit.com’s Community page.

    Coming up on today’s show, now that fall’s in full swing, you might be finding that, say, between the patio furniture and the lawn mowers and – what else? – well, the kids’ bikes, you may be a little tight on outside storage. I mean I always was about this time of year. The solution, though, could be building a shed. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to plan that project, just ahead.

    LESLIE: I always find I gain storage at this time of year because all of my crazy holiday decorations are out.

    TOM: I dare say that’s a special case just for you, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Alright, guys. Hey, if you like to enjoy clean, fresh water around your home without the taste of plastic water bottles, you can install a whole-home water filter. It’s a great solution. It just filters water from the moment it enters your house. So we’re going to share some details on that, in just a bit.

    TOM: And if you’re taking on some fall clean-up around the house, getting rid of the trash, well, that’s easy. But try getting rid of hazardous trash these days. Not so much. We’re talking about things like paint and pesticides and all of that. We’ll have tips on the easiest way to purge your home of those toxins, just ahead.

    LESLIE: First, we want to take your calls. We know this is the busy home improving time of year. Weather’s just right to get started on so many projects, so let us give you a hand.

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

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: James in Georgia is on the line with a new home that’s coming with a stinky scent. Tell us what’s going on.

    JAMES: Just got a home that had obviously been smoked in, not only cigarettes but cigars from the previous owner.

    LESLIE: Bleh.

    TOM: Bleh. Yuck.

    JAMES: And yeah, it is horrible, you know. And made my teenager just kind of sick even being in there. So, was going to do a slight remodel before we moved in anyway. I need to maybe pull the carpet out but other than that, I’m kind of at a loss. I didn’t know – would painting help? Should I clean the ductwork or – I’m just kind of really at a loss on maybe what I could do to get rid of the smell.

    TOM: The problem is that that smoke gets into everything. So we’re talking about the entire house here or is it just one room?

    JAMES: Oh, no, no. It’s the entire house.

    TOM: So, in order to really clean out that smell, you would have to pull the carpet. You could have it cleaned but I suspect that it – there’s still going to be some residual. And then once you pull the carpet, then you have to paint the subfloor underneath the carpet, because that smoke soaks in, yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you’ve got to lock that odor in.

    TOM: So you need to use a primer-quality paint to seal in that smoke odor. You need to do the same thing with the walls and ceilings. They have to be washed and then re-primed. And of course, you’ve got to get rid of any drapes or any other fabrics that are around.

    LESLIE: Well, even wallpaper.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. Wallpaper can soak it in.

    JAMES: Yeah. I noticed there was wallpaper in a couple of the rooms.

    TOM: Yep. And that all – so I think you’re just going to have to tackle it one step at a time. But basically, that smoke gets into everything and you have to pull out those materials and seal underneath them in order to try to clear it.

    JAMES: OK. And do you guys have any recommendations? Is there any way to clean the ductwork or anything? I just didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on all the rest of it, then it just gets kicked back in.

    TOM: Well, you – the ductwork may just be dusty. I don’t know that that’s going to be the biggest problem. I think you’re going to find that most of this odor is not so much the ductwork, because the ductwork is metal. It doesn’t really soak in stuff. So, I think you’re going to find most of this is going to be in the drywall and in the subfloor and in the carpet and in those surfaces. And that’s why they have to be cleaned and primed and then repainted.

    JAMES: Something with a sealer/primer?

    TOM: Yeah, I would recommend that you use an oil-based primer for this, because it really does a good job of sealing in whatever’s underneath it. And that will be all you’ll need at the subfloor and you can carpet back over that or put whatever flooring down you want over that. But for the walls, you can go ahead and prime them in and then you could do a top layer of paint over that. But you’ve got to do that first. I would use a solid-based or oil-based primer for it, OK?

    JAMES: Awesome. Thank you, guys. I greatly appreciate you taking my call.

    TOM: Yes, you’re very welcome. Sorry that happened to you and good luck with that project.

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

    KATHY: In our rental, we have a big wall of brick where the fireplace is. And it’s a dark corner. And I was wondering if we would be able to paint that brick without a whole lot of trouble, to brighten it up in that corner?

    TOM: You can paint it but you’d better be sure it’s what you want to do.

    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. I mean painting brick is – it’s kind of irreversible. Once you put the paint on, because the brick is so porous it’s just going to get sucked into every little interior nook and cranny of that brick. So should you ever decide that you would like it to be brick again, it’s a lot of stripping and sandblasting. It’s a big to-do. So you want to make sure that that’s something you really want to do. If it’s just the ugliest brick ever, I get it.

    KATHY: Well, it’s the only way to lighten up that area that I can think of.

    LESLIE: It’s a corner?

    KATHY: It’s a corner of the living room but it’s one wall of the living room. It’s the whole wall right up next to the sliding-glass door. So all the way over to the sliding-glass door it’s all brick, from floor to ceiling.

    LESLIE: Have you thought about putting mirrors, like an assorted group of mirrors, or adding a different light fixture? There are ways that you can brighten the space with decoration.

    KATHY: I hadn’t thought of the mirrors. That might be a good idea.

    LESLIE: If you do a cute cluster, almost like a little gallery grouping of different size and shape mirrors and mixing metals and doing something really purposeful and fun and creating a moment, that’s a great way to do it.

    KATHY: There’s no electrical in the ceiling.

    LESLIE: You don’t need electrical in the ceiling. There are plenty of pendant lamps that plug into an outlet that you can use as swag that – is that what it’s called, “swag”?

    TOM: Yeah.

    KATHY: It’s still called “swag”? Yeah.

    LESLIE: Right? Swag [the word] (ph)?

    TOM: Yeah, I think so.

    LESLIE: You can do something like that and there are really great ways to do that. So you plug in a light fixture and then suddenly, you have a beautiful mini-chandelier or something. There are so many. If you look online for a decorative light fixture with a plug-in, with a plug, you’ll find so many.

    KATHY: OK.

    LESLIE: And make sure you can get one of those things that looks like a scrunchie, that you wrap over the electrical cord itself so it hides just the wiring. It’s really easy to do.

    KATHY: Alright. I’ll think on those lines, yep. Easier than painting.

    LESLIE: There’s even sconces that are plug-in. So you can create a whole, little gallery thing with mirrors and plug-in sconces and really brighten up that space.

    KATHY: OK. Thank you, guys.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whatever it is that you are working on, we are here to lend a hand. We don’t judge. We might giggle a little bit. We definitely want to help you with whatever it is you are working on. And believe me, if you’ve run into an issue, we’ve probably done it, too. So let us give you a hand.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Up next, now that fall is in full swing, you might be finding that between the patio furniture and the lawn mowers and kids’ bikes, you could be a bit tight on outside storage. That’s why building a shed is a great solution. We’re going to tell you the four most important things to consider when planning one, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and it’s presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    LESLIE: Bob in Rhode Island is on the line and is having some mystery electrical issues at their house. What’s going on?

    BOB: I gutted the whole house out and I rewired – I had an electrician come in and rewire the whole house. And he finished up and I’m putting the plug covers on and I plug something in and I – it didn’t work. So I plugged another plug in; it didn’t work. I went to another one; didn’t work.

    So I called him back. He comes over and he says, “There must be a plug buried somewhere. There’s got to be an outlet buried underneath the new plaster.” My question is: how can I find it?

    TOM: So, this guy did all this wiring work and he missed the fact that he put in a whole bunch of outlets that had no power?

    BOB: Yeah. Can you imagine? He didn’t test the power when he was done?

    TOM: No. It’s ridiculous. This is ridiculous. This guy did not do his job and he should be able to track this down for you.

    BOB: Oh, yeah. He wanted – he started tracking but he wanted to be paid for tracking it.

    LESLIE: Wait.

    TOM: So, he wanted to be paid for missing it.

    LESLIE: “Give me more for my mistake.”

    TOM: Yeah.

    BOB: Yeah, he wanted more money.

    TOM: And you paid him for the rest of the work already.

    BOB: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I paid him for everything.

    TOM: No. Well, it’s not right. It’s going to be difficult for you to track this down without specialized tools, I’ll tell you that. It’s kind of a matter of just taking each circuit and starting at the panel and then following the wires up to see where they go and trying to figure out where the disconnect is.

    BOB: Yeah. I think it’s a little more complicated than that. Because as I looked, when he was explaining to me how he wired, I think it’s pretty odd he wired a key, come up with the live and he went from one box and then went left and then also went right from the same power source. I mean that’s kind of weird. Even being an amateur, I wouldn’t do that.

    TOM: Yeah. You might want to try tracking it from the sockets back. You may have better luck trying to figure out where the disconnect is. It sounds like he didn’t hook something up, though. If he rewired these outlets and didn’t figure out that they weren’t hot to begin with, that’s a real problem.

    BOB: Oh, no. He didn’t – no, he didn’t rewire. We rewired the whole house. We did – I took out all the wire in the house.

    TOM: You took all the wire in the house out.

    BOB: Oh, yeah. He started from scratch here. It’s all brand-new wire.

    TOM: Well, how is it possible he missed this? That’s what I’m not getting.

    BOB: Neither am I.

    TOM: So, when he went in to do the wiring, were the walls open? Did you pull the drywall out or what was the case?

    BOB: Oh, yeah, yeah. Gutted it. I totally, totally ripped everything up. Picture, just imagine an old house without any wood or plaster.

    TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Wow. So this guy goes in, he wires the whole house, you put the drywall in, he comes back in to hook everything up and he’s got a bunch of outlets that have no power. This is his problem, OK?

    LESLIE: Yeah. You shouldn’t be paying twice.

    TOM: So, this is his problem. You shouldn’t be paying him twice. He screwed this up and he needs to come back and fix it or you’re going to have to sue him or file a complaint against his license.

    LESLIE: Or all of the above.

    TOM: This is his problem. This guy is incompetent and you shouldn’t be paying him to fix his blunders. You paid him to wire the whole house. He obviously blew it.

    LESLIE: And an electrician is the last one you want doing shortcuts and not great work.

    TOM: Yeah.

    BOB: Yeah, exactly. I was shocked when he expected to be paid for the day he spent troubleshooting it.

    TOM: Yeah. And he spent a day troubleshooting and he still hasn’t figured it out?

    BOB: Correct. He wanted – he asked you – he had his hand out. I was like, “What? Are you kidding me? I’ve got to pay you for not doing it right?”

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. I think that’s your option.

    Now, if you don’t want him to come back, then the other thing you could do is hire a different electrician. But then you’re going to have to go after him for the cost.

    BOB: Right. Yeah.

    TOM: Alright? Well, I’m sorry that happened to you but that’s where you’re at, OK?

    BOB: Alright. Thank you.

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

    That’s nuts.

    LESLIE: “I know I messed up but …”

    TOM: “But I’d like to be paid for my mistakes. Is that OK?” Ridiculous.

    LESLIE: Well, now that fall is in full swing, you might be finding that between all that patio furniture and the lawn mowers and outdoor equipment and anything else you’ve got for the warm-weather seasons, you could be running a little tight on outside storage. Well, a shed can be a great solution and also a DIY project or a pro project. But before you begin, there are four important things you have to consider. Now, we’ve got those tips in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.

    TOM: Now, first, the average cost to build a shed is a pretty wide range. We’re talking about between 800 and about 4 grand. And it depends on the materials you choose and whether you’re going to build it yourself or hire a pro. But whether you decide to DIY or not, there are several basic questions you need to ask yourself before you start shopping.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, do you need a permit? I think a lot of people forget and think, “Oh, it’s my house and I can do whatever I want. And I’m going to build this thing or I’m going to put up a fence.” You can’t always just go and do that. You have to check your local building codes first to determine if you need a permit to build a shed on your property.

    Now, you don’t want to find out after you’ve finished the project that it’s got to come down because it violated some building code or a zoning code. That’s the last thing you want to do is invest a bunch of money and then have to take it all down and then do it again.

    Now, the other big thing you’ve got to think about is what size does your shed need to be and what style do you want it to be? Do you need something simple and primarily for just business needs? Putting the things in there and not making it cute or any other functions? Or do you want something decorative? There are so many different styles and sizes out there that you really need to evaluate your home and your property and how you’re going to use it so that you can determine the best style for what your shed’s going to be.

    TOM: Yeah. And part of that is deciding where the shed is going to go. Depending on the size of your property, you’ve got a lot of different options for the placement of that shed.

    Now, folks very commonly might put it close to the house, which makes running power and water lines easy. Or sometimes, folks will tuck it sort of to the side or the back of the property so that it’s less obvious. But put some thought into that because you’re going to be going back and forth a lot and you don’t want to regret that decision.

    And finally, what’s your budget? If you’ve got a tight budget, you could build a very simple shed that gets the job done without a lot of frills. But if you’ve got some wiggle room, you could think about adding some extra features, like integrated shelving inside, decorative trim on the outside. Or you could go all-out man cave or she-shed and maybe add electricity, heat, plumbing, wall-to-wall stereo, I don’t know. You know, you can really totally deck it out. Those are fun, too, but think it through and mind that budget so it comes out just the way you expect.

    LESLIE: Now, if you do go pro, we recommend getting estimates from at least two or three contractors before you choose the one pro that’s going to help you with this project. And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com. With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tammy in Philadelphia on the line who’s looking for a better shower. How can we help you today?

    TAMMY: Hi. I was calling in because I wanted to find out – I have an old Victorian house and I have a three – it’s three stories. I have a bathroom on the third floor and a bathroom on the second. And when I – if someone is in the shower on the second floor and then someone takes a shower or runs the water upstairs, on the third floor, the shower goes cold. And I’ve been asking my contractors and my plumbers and I’m not getting a consistent answer. So, I’d like to remedy that, because I’m doing remodeling.

    TOM: OK. So are you opening up walls as part of this remodeling?

    TAMMY: Yes. Completely stripped down to the studs.

    TOM: OK, great. So, first of all, the reasons you have reduced water pressure in older homes are generally because you have old steel pipes that suffer from internal rusting and they clog. They close down, kind of like a clogged artery, and then you can’t push enough water through it.

    Now, that could be your main water pipe, it could be the supply pipes that are inside the house or a combination of them. And so, since you’re taking the walls apart, the general rule of thumb is that whenever you expose these old, steel pipes, you want to replace them with copper pipes or with PEX, which is a different type – a newer type of plumbing pipe.

    Now, the other thing is that you may not have enough water pressure coming in from the street.

    TAMMY: Well, the pressure is not that big of a deal, because I think that the pressure is kind of OK. It’s just that, basically, we have two bathrooms in the house and you can only use one at a time. Like the water completely goes ice cold if you’re in the shower and somebody comes in and uses the sink.

    TOM: Well, that’s because the pipes may not be supplying that hot water. They may not be moving enough hot water.

    What size water heater do you have?

    TAMMY: Forty gallons.

    TOM: Alright. Well, that’s a minimum size but it should be OK for two bathrooms.

    TAMMY: OK.

    TOM: And is it an older water heater?

    TAMMY: No, I just replaced the water heater.

    TOM: When you replaced it, did they change any of the plumbing around it? Is it still going through the steel pipes?

    TAMMY: I don’t think that they changed the pipes around the – no, I don’t think so.

    TOM: So, you need to talk with your plumbers about what kind of pipes you have, whether or not that’s contributing to the problem. And you need to know what the water pressure is at the street. Because if you’re not getting enough pressure, that could be the whole cause of it.

    TAMMY: OK. Now, I Googled and I saw something online called a “pressure-balance valve.” Would that remedy the issue at all?

    TOM: So, a pressure-balance valve is designed to be used primarily in a shower. And what it does is it keeps the mix between hot and cold balanced so that you don’t get scorching or freezing-cold water when the pressure drops. So if somebody was to, say, run hot water downstairs and now rob all that hot water from the upstairs shower, it would not change the balance of water from – the mix of water between hot and cold. So the flow would be less – you’d have less of a stream – but it wouldn’t be – the temperature wouldn’t change.

    TAMMY: OK, OK.

    TOM: Right. So, no, that’s not it. I don’t think that’s the cause. I mean that would certainly be a good thing to have and something you should consider. But I don’t think that’s the reason you’re not getting hot water on the second floor. I just don’t think you’re moving enough water up there.

    TAMMY: OK. So, basically, what I need to do is tell them to check the piping around the water heater.

    TOM: Yeah. And the plumber should know this. Not only around the water heater but basically, if you’re going to open up those walls, what kind of pipes do you have and are they corroded? And should they be replaced to help alleviate this, OK? And if all else fails, you could always add a second water heater upstairs. You can add a tankless water heater, which would be a really small unit. And it would supply additional water to that second-floor bathroom.

    TAMMY: Oh, OK. OK, that’s interesting. OK. Well, I think that kind of remedies the problem.

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

    Hey, do you want fresh, clean water delivered to every tap in your home? Well, a single filter can do just that. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor from This Old House will be here next to explain.

    TOM: And today’s edition of This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by ADT. Introducing ADT Go, the new family mobile safety app and service. Go to ADT.com to learn more today.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we’re here to help you with your home improvement projects. You got one you’re thinking about doing? We’re here to give you some tips, some advice on how to get that done, maybe help you build a bit of confidence and guide you in the way to accomplish your home improvement dreams.

    You can pick up the phone and call us with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And that’s presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Darlene in South Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a dishwasher situation. What’s going on over there?

    DARLENE: Whenever you turn it on and turn it on Pots and Pans, it fills up and then it stops. Does nothing. And you can turn the knob around to the different cycles and everything and it does nothing.

    TOM: Have you checked the float, which is in the bottom of the dishwasher, to see if maybe it’s become clogged?

    DARLENE: No, I didn’t know there was …

    TOM: Yeah. Because if it’s clogged, it might think it’s – it might think that it’s about to overflow and it might shut the machine off. So in the bottom of the dishwasher, take a look at the float. And it’ll move kind of up and down – it’ll pop up and down a little bit – and a lot of times, it gets filled with food and grime and stuff. And if you clean it out, that might just be the thing to do it.

    And here’s a little trick of the trade: if you’re trying to clean out food from places you really can’t get to, you can use a wet/dry vacuum for that. It’ll sort of draw it right out.

    DARLENE: Oh, OK. [That I have] (ph).

    TOM: There you go. Good luck with that project, Darlene. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re tired of that plastic water bottle going out with your recycling – or worse, in the trash every week – a whole-house water filter might be a better option for you.

    TOM: That’s right. A whole-house unit filters the water at the main just as it comes into the house, bringing you crisp, clean water from every tap in your home. To learn more, we turn now to This Old House plumbing-and-heating expert Richard Trethewey.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hey there.

    TOM: Now, Americans sure have an aversion to tap water but filtering it has to be better and less expensive than buying bottles. Are they difficult to install, these filters?

    RICHARD: Well, it really depends. You have to think about attacking water filtration in steps. If it’s a whole house, you need a large unit that’s going to handle all the water that’s coming through and in that case, you’re going to be going after the really visible impurities: dirt and rust.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: When you think about the level of water you’re going to consume, you have to think locally. You have to think about a filter that’s going to sit underneath the kitchen sink to give you clean, beautiful water for both cooking and for your ice maker.

    TOM: Well, that’s true. Because if you put it at the main, not only are you filtering your drinking water but you’re also …

    LESLIE: Your bathing water.

    RICHARD: And toilet water.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. So it’s – you really have to do it in steps. There’s a whole industry. It’s an industry that’s growing, because people are more and more worried about the quality of the water. “What happens if the bad guys touch the water?” They want to have some level of security in their house.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So how do you go about choosing one and then getting it installed?

    RICHARD: Well, I think it’s – a dirt-and-rust filter is what you think about at the least case, at the water main coming in. And I think that’s going to be a function of local water quality. In so many parts in this country, the water is beautiful. We take it for granted in this country that the water is as good as it is. So, you may not need that.

    But if you had an old, rusty main that’s in your old town or you had a galvanized water main coming in that was going to give you a lot of rust, you’re not – and you can’t change that new main to a new main, you might want to have a dirt-and-rust filter.

    TOM: Now, what about a filter that goes actually at the tap? I’ve seen a wide variety of these types of filters. Sometimes you see the ones that screw on to where the aerator would go; other times, you see them to be large and fit inside the cabinet.

    RICHARD: Yep.

    TOM: What’s the best way to approach that?

    RICHARD: Well, I think there’s two. All the ones that you spoke about – the ones that go onto the end of a kitchen spout – they will usually include something called GAC – Granulated Activated Carbon. And water goes through this carbon and it cleans it up as it comes through. And so that’s at the least case, what you would put underneath the kitchen sink: either the little ones you see above the sink or the – these could be the ones that sit down in a canister, underneath, on your cold-water feed.

    The other thing that people will put in is a thing called an RO – Reverse Osmosis. Now, that is a unit which will bring water through a membrane and with high pressure, it’ll push through this membrane so only the clean water gets through the membrane and the rest of the water. It’ll push through this membrane – the clean water – and the rest of the water will discharge to a drain, so it’s a lot more elaborate to install in that you not only have a supply but you have a drain. And people will complain that they’re wasting some water.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: But the water level is clean and pure; it’s almost distilled.

    LESLIE: Now, when it comes to changing the filters, does the amount of time between filter changes really vary to the type of cleaning system you have and where it’s located?

    RICHARD: Well, it’s a function of water quality, again. Years ago, we had this filter that was so good that it would clog up all the time and people hated it. But the water was perfectly clean, because it was taking every bit out of it. So it’s this balance point between taking out the important stuff but not having it be that you have to change it every month or every two weeks, you know?

    TOM: But it is important to change it when it needs to be changed, because I remember in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, I’d seen filters that folks put in with great intentions and then never touched it again for two years. And in fact, if you do that, I guess it could become unsafe.

    RICHARD: I think it also becomes almost something you put on the list of when you’re going to change the batteries on smoke detectors.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: It’s an annual thing. It should be the change of a season, we’re doing everything we’re going to do. As we hunker down for the winter, let’s get our smoke detectors in and let’s change the water filter.

    TOM: Good advice. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: Glad to be here.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and a step-by-step video on choosing a whole-house water filter and other projects, you can visit This Old House.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC Trucks and SUVs.

    Just ahead, fall is a great time for garage and yard sales. But if you’re in the mood to purge, getting rid of what’s left may not be so easy. We’re going to have some tips on how to avoid the hassles of throwing out hazardous items, from paint to pesticide and more, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And what are you working on this beautiful fall weekend? We’re here to help you get those home improvement and décor projects done. Head on over to MoneyPit.com and post your question to The Money Pit’s Community section or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor.

    Now, winter is coming. It’s around the corner. Is your roof ready? Are you thinking about replacing that heating system? Those are the kinds of projects that HomeAdvisor can help with. They’ll instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Carl in Maryland on the line. Welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?

    CARL: My toilet is making a whistling sound. It’s a high-pitched monotone. Doesn’t do it all the time. It starts and stops intermittently. I’ve tracked it down to the – where the fill is, where the water comes into the toilet.

    TOM: Yeah. What’s causing that, Carl, is the fill valve and it’s not an unusual condition. We see that a lot; we’ve heard about it many times. And the reason it happens intermittently is it’s somewhat indicative on the expansion and contraction of those parts. And it’s going to vary based on the water temperature. But it also is only going to happen when the toilet’s refilling.

    So, what you should do is simply replace the fill and while you’re at it, the flush valve because they usually come in a set. They’re not very expensive; you can buy both for probably 15 bucks. And if you follow the instructions that come with these, it is a do-it-yourself project to be able to kind of pretty much rebuild your toilet.

    CARL: OK. Sounds good.

    Now, if I may point out something, it does it when the water is not running in the house at all, sometimes.

    TOM: Right. And here’s why that’s happening, OK? Because you probably have a leaky flush valve. That’s one of the reasons I said to replace both fill and flush valves. Because if you have a leaky flush valve and you’ve got a very slow leak of water out of the bowl, the fill valve will respond to that and refill that bowl. So you’re probably wasting some water because of this condition, as well. So it’s a good thing you found it but again, it’s an easy, inexpensive fix and you can do it yourself.

    CARL: OK. Very good, Tom. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, fall is the season of garage sales, yard sales and just general clean-out before the winter really kicks in. And that’s all fine and dandy except when it comes time to getting rid of the stuff that’s left over, especially if it’s trash that’s considered toxic. And what’s considered toxic might come as a surprise to you.

    TOM: Yeah. Paint, for example. I mean we put it on the walls of our kids’ rooms, right? But most authorities do consider getting rid of paint to be toxic, so you can’t just put paints and paint strippers and car oils and other chemical waste out with your household garbage. Instead, a lot of cities will offer household-waste drop-off sites that are set up especially for what they term “toxic waste,” and that includes paint.

    LESLIE: Yeah. We have – I think it’s once a month. It might be more frequently in the summer. But we have the S.T.O.P. Program. And they pick a park or the parking lot of a huge shopping center one Saturday a month. And it’s called Stop Throwing Out Pollutants. And you can bring all the different things, from tires and mattresses. It’s really amazing the things that are considered pollutants, so you have to be careful when you’re throwing out stuff.

    The other thing I think people forget are batteries and all different kinds of batteries. You know, a lot of those big-box retail stores offer return-to-vendor boxes that are made specifically for recycling batteries, especially for things from phones or anything that’s rechargeable.

    And speaking of the retailers out there, the EPA says that old computers, TVs and any other electronics can be dropped off at many national retailers for safe disposal. And some of those are Best Buy and Staples. So just really do your research a little bit before you just start driving around with your things being like, “Do you want my old computer?” Because not everybody is going to want it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. We want your calls, your questions to our show. Post them online at MoneyPit.com or pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Esther on the line from South Dakota with a gutter question. How can we help you today?

    ESTHER: Well, we need to replace our rain gutters but our shingles on our dearly beloved, old house are Portland cement shingles. And the first three people that are the first – the companies that I’ve talked to about replacing rain gutters, they all tell me how simple it is to just lift up the asphalt shingles and put the strapping in underneath it and fasten it. And I think, “OK. Asphalt is flexible but I think the cement shingles might crack.” So how do I find someone who knows how about preserving the shingles and putting up new rain gutters?

    TOM: Well, I think there are a number of ways to install gutters. You can put straps that go up under the asphalt shingles but they can also be attached directly. So what you’re going to want to do is attach those gutters directly to the fascia. And instead of using nails, you’re going to want to use gutter screws. They’re very long lag bolts – lightweight, thin lag bolts. Usually have a hex head on them.

    And the nice thing about these gutter bolts, so to speak, is that once you put them in, they don’t pull out. Sometimes the nails – the gutter spikes that they use – will pull out. But these gutter screws will not pull out. So you just need to use a different fastening system. And have you had – physically had somebody at the house that saw this configuration? Or are they just kind of telling you this on the phone?

    ESTHER: No. We had just moved to the area and I was just going down the Yellow Pages trying to get a …

    TOM: Well, once they get to your house, they’re going to figure out the best ways to attach the gutter. But rest assured, there’s a number of ways to do this. And no, you don’t have to take your shingles apart.

    And by the way, as long as those shingles – those roof shingles – look good, then there’s no reason to replace them. The cementitious roof shingles are very durable. The reason that most people replace them is they tend to grow a lot of algae and moss and they can look nasty after a while. But if they’re still looking decent and they’re – it’s not leaking, then you’re good to go.

    ESTHER: Yep. We’re good and there’s a whole pile of – or a little pallet, probably 200 or 300 of them down in the basement. So, if we have another hailstorm, we should have some shingles.

    TOM: Oh, boy. So you are good to go. Alright, Esther. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Just ahead, have you found yourself needing to clean out your gutters yet this fall season? Well, get this, guys: we’re going to talk to one listener who somehow, for the past 12 years, has managed to avoid this DIY task but suddenly needs our help. I can’t imagine that the 12 years has anything to do with it, so stick around.

    TOM: Yeah, what could go wrong?

    LESLIE: A lot.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Post your home improvement question to The Money Pit’s Community page, right now, at MoneyPit.com or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, be sure to post your questions in The Money Pit Community section.

    Now, Sarah did just that. Now, she’s from Virginia and she writes: “I have never cleaned out my gutters in the 12 years that I have lived in my home. There aren’t a whole lot of trees around but my gutters and roof are unusually high and very difficult to reach. The last big rainstorm, I noticed sheets of water falling from the gutter on one side of my home. Would could be causing this and what’s the best way to clear it, considering the difficulty of reaching my gutters?”

    That’s funny.

    TOM: It’s called “a ladder.” That’s how you get up there.

    I mean look, I get that you’ve been able to avoid gutter cleaning because you don’t have so many trees and they’re not the kind that maybe drop a lot of debris. But your time has come, Sarah. You have to join the rest of us now with doing a good job cleaning these gutters.

    Now, thankfully, because you’ve never had to do this before, you don’t – you may not be aware of the fact that there are pros that can help you do this. And they’re pretty affordable. I’ve used them from time to time around my house when I didn’t feel like going up two stories to empty out the gutters.

    So you do need to clean them, you need to make sure that all the parts are attached, the downspouts are extended. Because by the way, if you let those gutters go and you get a lot of water that overflows them, many bad things can happen. For example, in addition to the water falling all over your landscape, that water can saturate into the foundation and cause a basement leak. It can also destabilize the soil and lead to foundation cracks. Or if the water gets into the soil for the first, say, 3 or 4 feet and stays there and then the soil freezes in the winter, it can expand and crack the foundation wall. So, just a couple of things of the many things that could happen if you don’t maintain proper gutters.

    And if you’re listening to this and are kind of tired of cleaning your gutters, you might want to think about putting in larger gutters next time. We did this project on our house. We replaced the 4-inch gutters with 6-inch gutters. They’re more like commercial-size gutters.

    LESLIE: Is it deeper or wider off the house?

    TOM: It’s both wider off the house and slightly deeper. Holds more water. But the key is that the downspouts are much wider and so they don’t obstruct – they don’t get clogged – like the 4-inch gutters used to. So I’m really happy with these gutters.

    I’ve never really had to clean them out because they got blocked; they’ve really never got blocked since I’ve put them on. I clean them out because it gets some debris; it sticks in the bottom of them. But I’ve never had one that actually overflowed since I did this update and put in the larger gutters and leaders.

    So, just a couple of tips to make sure you’re aware of how important it is to keep those gutters clean. And certainly, don’t do it yourself if you’re not familiar but hire a pro, Sarah. OK? Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Joe in Florida who’s thinking of selling his house but wants to find out what’s required for a certificate of occupancy so he can make any necessary repairs or upgrades.

    That’s pretty smart to think about this before you list.

    TOM: It is. And what you want to do is really two things. First of all, you can check with your town, because they’re going to have a set of standards or requirements that are going to apply only to the homes in your town. And they may only be something as simple as making sure you have smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. But secondly, I would recommend you get a professional home inspection because, this way, you’ll know what the condition of your home is in the eyes of a potential buyer. And you’ll be able to make those repairs and updates before the buyer is involved, which is always a good time to get those done.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I feel like there’s something to being honest about that in the negotiating process like, “I know it needs X, Y, and Z so let’s talk about this,” rather than being like, “Oh, I’m hiding this stuff.” You know, it’s good to know these things.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope that we’ve inspired you with some tips and tricks to tackle some projects around your money pit.

    If you’ve got questions, remember, you can always reach out to us, when we’re on the air or off, by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.

    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 2018 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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