Affordable Apartment Décor

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  • Transcript

    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 what are you working on for this beautiful spring weekend? If it’s a project around your house, inside or out, working on it to beautify a room, update a kitchen, take on an outdoor-living project – maybe you want to spruce it up, maybe you’re doing something way out there like maybe building an outdoor kitchen – whatever is on your to-do list, we’d love to help. You can help yourself first, though, by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or post your question on our social-media pages at

    Coming up this show, for many of us moving into an apartment is the first stepping stone to buying a home. But while it’s great to be on your own and maybe do a little decorating, if you’re not careful you might find yourself short of your security deposit when you move out. We’re going to share some tips for affordable décor that looks great and won’t alienate that landlord at the same time.

    LESLIE: And if you’re looking for some bang for your home improvement buck, we’ve got an upgrade that’ll up your home’s look, safety rating and its resale value: adding a new garage door. We’ll have tips on how to pick the best door for you.

    TOM: Plus, energy-efficient home improvements top the list of must-haves for home shoppers. We’ll tell you why keeping your home green can even bring you some more green when it comes time to sell.

    LESLIE: And do you feel like you’re in a constant game of tug-of-war with your house and your house is winning? Well, we’re here to help you take back the lead. From advice to answers to hot, new products, we’re your one-stop shopping for all things DIY. Give us a call with your home improvement question, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s up first?

    LESLIE: Robert in North Carolina is on the line and is dealing with a dryer that – guess what? – just is not drying. That’s the worst. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROBERT: Well, I’ve got a dryer; it’s about five or six years old. And here, lately, for about the past six or eight months, it’s taken sometimes three cycles to dry a medium-to-large size load of clothes.

    TOM: Oh, that makes no sense.

    ROBERT: Yeah. And the heating element was replaced maybe a year-and-a-half, two years ago. We just don’t know what’s going on with it.

    TOM: Do you get good airflow when the dryer runs, where it’s pushing warm air out the exhaust duct?

    ROBERT: Yeah. I went up to the roof one time when it was running and it was coming out of there fairly decent and the air was warm.

    TOM: You just may have uncovered one problem. When you take a dryer vent and you push it up against gravity – and so it’s driving all the way up to the roof from, I presume, the second floor – a dryer is not really designed to do that. And I know that a lot of times, folks install them that way but trying to force that hot air to go up all of that distance to the roof can sometimes be problematic.

    Look, if your dryer’s not heating properly, there’s only a few things that could be causing that. One is the heating element. So, let’s presume that this is working correctly, although it certainly seems – sounds like it’s not. There could be multiple heating elements and one could be burned out. This is a reason you feel some warm air.

    The next thing is the ductwork and you want to make sure that that’s clean. Not only the external ductwork but even internally. Sometimes, if you get something stuck in the internal ductwork in the dryer, that can block some of the airflow itself.


    TOM: And the other thing that can happen is sometimes it can overheat and then cycle. So, if it’s overheating, what’ll happen is it’ll get really hot and then it’ll overheat and the heating element will go off. And then it’ll cool down and then it’ll come on again, it’ll get really hot and it’ll go off. And that kind of cycling of a thermostat can be a problem, as well.

    I mean at this point, it sounds to me like you’ve done almost everything that you can do on your own. You might want to either replace it or get it serviced.

    How old is the dryer?

    ROBERT: Probably no more than six years.

    TOM: Yeah, well, you know, six to eight years is not a terribly short period of time for a dryer. So, you might want to think about replacing it or getting a pro to fix it. Because I think it’s probably one of those three things that’s causing the issue.

    ROBERT: Yeah. And another thing, it’s got about between 20, 25 feet of – it has the corrugated duct. And we were thinking about changing that to the smooth, stovepipe kind of duct. Would that help, also?

    TOM: Where is this 20, 25 feet? You mean from the discharge port all the way up to the attic where it discharges?

    ROBERT: Yes.

    TOM: That’s a long way and certainly, a solid metal duct is going to be better. Can you go up into the attic and then go sort of across the attic floor and down towards the soffit and install a vent right there?

    ROBERT: It’s possible. It’s just a single-story house, so I’m sure I could do that. But the laundry room is in the middle of the house.

    TOM: I’ve got to tell you, even if you had that venting perfectly, three – running this thing for three loads to dry one load of clothes sounds like it’s something else and not necessarily totally venting.

    ROBERT: OK. Yeah, we were thinking about – just don’t think it’s worth it to call somebody out there to fix it. We’ve got – we found a fairly decent dryer. We know somebody that runs a childcare center and uses the one we’re thinking about getting. And they run it five, six times a day and they’ve had theirs for three years.

    TOM: I think that makes sense. Unfortunately, these products today are almost disposable because the cost of repair is so high. I will give you one other suggestion. There’s a website called that’s pretty good at helping you identify problems with appliances and then selling you the parts you need to fix it.

    So, you may want to take a look at that. They have a little tool there where you can put in your model number and it’ll walk you through the scenarios. And who knows? It might be a common problem with that particular model.

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

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

    LINDA: We bought the house next door to us, when the man passed away, and he had dogs and a cat. He apparently let them use his house as a bathroom.

    TOM: Oh, no. That’s terrible.

    LINDA: Oh, yeah.

    LESLIE: Never a good thing.

    LINDA: And the smell of urine was really bad. And my husband took up all the subfloor and put it outside, let it air out.

    TOM: You took up the plywood floor?

    LINDA: Yeah. It was boards – small boards.

    TOM: OK.

    LINDA: Like 1-inch boards or something.

    TOM: Alright. It probably was 1-by. Yeah, alright.

    LINDA: Yeah. And he had to take that up to fix the floor joist.

    TOM: OK.

    LINDA: So we put it outside hoping to air out the urine smell and then he put it back down. And he put ¾-inch OSB on top of that. But sometimes, when you walk in there, you still smell the urine smell.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Especially on a humid day.

    LINDA: Yes. So is there anything you can buy to put on there to get rid of that smell?

    LESLIE: I mean there are several things you can do. The OSB – have you put any actual flooring on top of that yet or can you still take that up?

    LINDA: No. We were wanting to put laminate on top of it.

    LESLIE: OK. So before you do that, pick up the OSB.

    LINDA: Right.

    LESLIE: And what I would recommend – at this point, because you’re dealing with 1-by – now, Tom, they essentially don’t need the 1-by, correct? The OSB could go directly on top of those floor joists and get rid of that …

    TOM: No. You didn’t have to put the 1-by back down again but the problem is you’ve already covered the problem with OSB. And what Leslie is leading to is that you – what you should have done is primed all of that subfloor with a good, oil-based primer because that would seal in the wood. And so now that you’ve put the OSB on top of that, I’m afraid even if you were to prime the OSB, the odor will still somehow work its way through.

    LESLIE: Right. So I’m thinking pick up the OSB, pull up the 1-by, put the OSB down and just get rid of the 1-by.

    TOM: Well, these animals are long gone but their smell has lingered on. And I think that if you take up that old flooring – and I know you tried to probably save a few bucks by putting it back. But if you either prime it or just replace it with the OSB, you’ll be much better off for it.

    Linda, 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 Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, are you ready to move into maybe a new apartment or a condo? Well, stay with us. We’ve got some simple decorating ideas that can not only make your apartment feel like home but it will also make sure you get that security deposit back at the end of your lease. That’s all coming up, 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: Call us, right now, with your home improvement or home décor question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by Never worry about overpaying for a job. Use HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide to see what others paid for similar projects, all for free at

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Derwin in Texas who’s dealing with a fascia-board situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    DERWIN: I have a fascia board that is rotten. The way it’s put on there is I have a 1×4 fascia board that’s nailed up on there and then a 1×2 is nailed on the top portion of the fascia board.

    TOM: Yep.

    DERWIN: Which kind of – and the gutter is nailed to the 1×2, so I guess the 1×2 keeps the gutter from resting up against the fascia board, to keep it from rotting.

    TOM: Got it. Mm-hmm.

    DERWIN: But the drip edge – there’s a drip edge that’s nailed to the top, so like a 2×2 drip edge. And the top part of the drip edge is nailed to the roof deck and then it lays – the other half is – lays into the gutter.

    TOM: So what you want to know is how can you get the rotted fascia board out without taking apart your gutter and your drip edge and your spacer and all that stuff, right?

    DERWIN: Right.

    TOM: There’s no way to surgically remove the fascia; it’s like one part of the assembly.

    DERWIN: Right.

    TOM: So you’d have to take the whole thing apart. Now, it’s not a – it sounds like a lot of work. It’s not a tremendous project to get a gutter off. It’s not something you can do yourself because you don’t want to bend it, so you have to do it with some help to take the gutter off in one piece.

    But there is an opportunity here and that is that when you replace the fascia, I would not put wood fascia back. What I would do is I would use a product called AZEK – A-Z-E-K. This looks like wood, so it could look like that old 1×4 that you had, except it’s made of cellular PVC. So, it cuts like wood and it looks like wood but it never rots. So I would definitely suggest that this is an opportunity to improve the material that you’re using there.


    TOM: Now, whether or not you put back the spacer and the gutter the way it was before is up to you. You really don’t need to have a spacer. You could put the gutter right up against the AZEK and then have the roof just lay into the top of the gutter. That would be the most normal assembly for that kind of thing.

    But if you want the spacer and it just works out better because that’s the way it was before, then what you could do is buy 1×6 AZEK, cut a 1½-inch strip off of it, use that as a spacer and use the rest as – you’ll have a 1×4 left and you use that for the fascia and you’ll have the strip just in one piece.

    DERWIN: So it cuts just like wood.

    TOM: Looks like wood, cuts like wood, doesn’t rot like wood. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: For many, moving into an apartment is the first stepping stone to buying that house. Now, not only are you on your own now but you’ve also got a chance to really show your creative side and decorate. But while it’s not that easy sometimes to find affordable décor, you can make it happen. Here’s a few ideas to help you get started.

    First of all, let’s talk about peelable, removable wallpaper. I absolutely love it. I’m super obsessed with wallpaper of all kinds. Of course, I tend to go for permanent but I just recently added the repositionable sort of peel-away paper in the powder room in my kitchen. It’s basically the only bathroom we have on the first floor. And it’s so, so ridiculously tiny that one roll from Target did the entire space.

    And it’s super easy to apply. You just have to apply carefully, making sure to get the bubbles out as you’re putting it on. But you can peel and restick and all those kinds of things. And for 20 bucks, you’ve got a totally transformed space.

    TOM: You know, another thing that you can do is you can add a large mirror to maybe your living room. If you do that, it will not only make the space seem a lot bigger but it can also act as a piece of very attractive wall décor. Just like that wallpaper idea, there are a ton of options to choose from. We just came back from the International Builders’ Show. And Sterling, which is a Kohler line, has a whole new line of lighted mirrors which are absolutely gorgeous and really, really affordable.

    And you could put these mirrors up – a lot of them – without worrying about putting holes in your walls. If you go with an oversize wall mirror, they can also be leaned against a wall which, of course, zero chance of damage. And that totally will open up the space.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And don’t be afraid to use multiple mirrors with similar styles but different shapes and sizes, to create sort of a whole mural of mirrors. It really looks great.

    Another fun idea is to place a shoe tray in your front room. I know it sounds weird, right, but it’s really not. I promise. Now, the shoe rack is going to act as a decorative piece, all the while saving your apartment from getting filthy. Most of these apartments have hardwood flooring. But if you all have carpeting like I do, you have to really think about people bringing in their dirty shoes and getting their foot marks all over your house or apartment. So the shoe tray says, “Hey, come on in. Take off your shoes.” And then everybody comes in with clean feet. It’s a great way to trick people and also be decorative.

    TOM: Now, Leslie, you talked about the removable wallpaper in the bathroom. Another thing that you could think about while you’re there is the shower curtain. That can also really add a big splash of color. And then kind of match it maybe with a little bath rug and some sink décor. You can also put some hanging signs in there. And if you do anything on the walls, make sure you use the adhesive hangers that are designed for damage-free removal.

    We’ve got a great post on on how to hang décor without damaging your walls and kind of screwing up your security deposit. So you can find more tips just there. And this way, when it’s time to move out, you’ll leave the place as good as you found it.

    LESLIE: Jan in California is having a wallpaper-removal situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    JAN: Hi. Been removing wallpaper and repapering for 50 years and never come across where you take the wallpaper off and it looks like there’s a paper lining behind it. I’ve had some people tell me that this is a filler for the texturing so the wallpaper looks smooth. And others tell me that it’s a liner and it fills the whole wall with pencil lines where the wallpaper goes. I don’t want to damage the sheetrock that’s underneath, so I’m a little leery about taking that off or leaving it on or what I should do with it.

    TOM: So your end game is to get down to the drywall?

    JAN: Well, it doesn’t have to be if I can texture over what’s there. But it’s almost like a paper and I don’t know if we can put the mud and everything on that.

    TOM: If it’s adhered well, then I don’t see why you couldn’t texture over it. Do you want to use a textured paint?

    JAN: No, I want to use the texture that I’ve had on the other walls.

    TOM: The key here is whether or not the surface that you’ve exposed is well-adhered to the drywall underneath. If it’s well-adhered, then you can go ahead and put your texture over that. If it’s not, then your texture could be on there for a couple of months and it could start falling off in chunks when that backer paper pulls off. As long as it’s well-adhered, then I don’t see any reason you can’t go on top of it, Jan.

    JAN: OK. I appreciate you and enjoy your program all the time.

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

    LESLIE: Murray in Illinois is on the line and he needs some advice on buying a new water heater. What can we help you with?

    MURRAY: Well, my issue is I have a house full of females and myself and we are having an issue with keeping up with hot water.


    MURRAY: I presently have a 40-gallon, natural-gas water heater and I was wondering if I could get you guys’ opinion. The bathroom they shower in is upstairs and we also have a washing machine up there.

    And I was wondering what you guys thought of the instantaneous water heaters. I’ve seen some small ones that it said would put out 3.3 gallons per minute and I had no idea what an actual shower takes. And I just wondered what you guys thought about that supplement, maybe, to the hot-water heater.

    TOM: OK. So, first of all, we are fans of tankless water-heating technology. And so, we do believe that if your water heater was failing, then that would be an appropriate thing to replace it with.

    In your case, you’re talking about supplementing, which is a bit different because you really have to have your water-heating needs zoned into two separate loops if you want to supplement. Because then you have half on the tank water heater and half on the tankless.

    The issue of your water heater being located a distance from the plumbing fixtures that you want to use most frequently is not going to be solved, regardless of what kind of water heater you have, because the water still has to travel the same distance. But if you’re concerned about running out of hot water, that’s not going to happen with a tankless; it just won’t. And you buy the tankless based on how many bathrooms you have in your house and there’ll be plenty of hot water to keep everybody in those bathrooms showered for as long as they want to stay in there.

    MURRAY: So you’re saying just – it’s best just to replace the natural-gas one I have and get a whole-house tankless?

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. How old is that one you have now?

    MURRAY: It’s probably, I’m guessing, five or six years, maybe.

    TOM: Yeah. So it’s still pretty new. They usually last about 10. So you’ve got a decision to make, you know? If you’re running out of hot water, then maybe it’s worth doing.

    MURRAY: OK. I appreciate your help very much. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Up next, garage doors are one of the best investments you can make if you buy the right one. Tips to picking out the right garage door, when The Money Pit continues.

    TOM: 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 and give us a call right now. We are here to help you take on your remodeling and other how-to projects. And maybe if it’s a project you don’t want to do yourself, we can give you some tips on how to hire the best pro to get that job done.

    Speaking of which, 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    LESLIE: Tara in Pennsylvania is on the line with an insect question. How can we help you?

    TARA: Hi. I was just wondering – we have a bunch of earwigs that’s up underneath our siding. And it seems like they’re always there and we were just wondering, what can we do to get rid of them? Is there anything that’s attracting them there?

    TOM: Well, look, they’re probably looking for food, so something is landing on that siding and attracting them. Generally, when they’re not up high like that, it’s advisable to trap them. Like a trapping program will reduce their population. But if they’re up on the side and crawling on the building, I’d probably go straight to a pesticide-management program, some sort of chemical control.

    The University of California recommends a pesticide called Spinosad – S-p-i-n-o-s-a-d. And there’s a number of commercial products that are available that have that in it. And that should be probably the best way to control them and stop them from coming back and encourage them to go to somebody else’s house to infest.

    TARA: That would be helpful. Oh, along those lines, as far as insects go, we get crickets down in our basement every …

    LESLIE: Spider crickets.

    TARA: I have – I guess they’re spider crickets; I’m not sure. Little black crickets. But every year, they drive me crazy because my bedroom is downstairs.

    TOM: Why don’t you call a pest-control operator, like Orkin, and have them just do a general spraying for insects? So you can probably put just the right pesticide in and around your home in a safe and effective way that will reduce both problems – stop the earwigs and stop the crickets – and just get you a lot more comfortable.

    TARA: Oh, that would be great.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Tara? With the cave crickets, we get them where I live on Long Island, in the basement. And I always feel bad when my sister and brother-in-law sleep over, because they’ll sleep on an air mattress in my basement and I’m like, “The spider crickets are going to leap on you.” Because they totally gross me out. But if you take some double-stick tape and just put it around the perimeter of the room, in the interim while you’re waiting to treat, they do tend to congregate there. And they’ll get stuck and then you can just pick it up and toss it in the morning.

    TARA: Oh, that’s a good idea. I was just using some indoor spray every year when they come around and then I’m sucking up the crickets constantly – dead crickets – everywhere. And along with them and stink bugs, it hasn’t been fun.

    TOM: Yeah, I bet. Tara, when it comes to making decisions to whether or not you should go with a professional or use the sort of the do-it-yourself approach, I always feel that if you go with a pro, they’re actually going to use less pesticide than you’re applying yourself. And it’ll be done in exactly the right manner, with just the right amount, to take care of the problem. I think people tend to overspray when it comes to the over-the-counter pesticides and actually put themselves in greater danger. Does that make sense?

    TARA: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: So your garage door takes up a large chunk of your home’s front façade. And if you replace that garage door, the annual Cost Versus Value Report from Remodeling Magazineshows that you’re going to get back more than 80 percent of your investment, proving that garage doors deliver and they’re an excellent return on investment.

    TOM: Yep. But that makes it all the more important to really consider your new garage door carefully. Here to discuss some options is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: So, today, it’s all about the ROI and the improvement it will deliver. And it’s encouraging to see such positive results from garage doors, because they’re one of the hardest working components of the house.

    KEVIN: They certainly are. Obviously, any time you do an upgrade, you’re thinking about what sort of return you’re going to get on your investment and the garage door is a pretty good one.

    When thinking about the garage door, I would suggest that there are two things that you need to consider. First of all, it should look good.

    TOM: Right.

    KEVIN: But it also should work right. And if you think about this, a lot of us actually come through the garage as the main entryway into our house, because we drive the car up into the garage and then go right from the garage to the house. So it’s something that we are going to use very frequently.

    LESLIE: And I think you have to really think about how you’re going to utilize this garage door. How will it function? What kind of opener do you need? Is this the primary entrance? What should you sort of start to look at, other than the aesthetics of it, when you’re considering a new garage door?

    KEVIN: Well, don’t discount the aesthetics, right? Because sometimes the garage door is the focal point of what you see, right?

    LESLIE: Well, that’s, of course, top of the list, the aesthetics.

    KEVIN: I mean many houses – right. It’s got to look good right there. But you’re right. You want to make sure that this thing works properly.

    An automatic garage-door opener, in my mind, is almost essential. You want to be able to have it push a button and have that heavy garage door open by itself. In that case, there are three types of openers to consider. There is a chain-drive opener, a screw drive or a belt drive. And they’ve got different characteristics.

    The chain drives, they’re very powerful. They’re great for heavy doors but they can be somewhat noisy; they’re sort of older technology and we hear them.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: And that affects people, especially if there’s living space above the garage.

    TOM: It kind of vibrates the whole house.

    KEVIN: The whole house, exactly.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: A screw drive is great if you have a one-piece door and it is actually on a tilt that actually opens, as opposed to a door that sort of has brakes and kind of rolls up into the ceiling.

    And then a belt drive, it’s probably the quietest option out there. You’re going to pay a little bit of a premium for that but if you’re concerned about the noise and the vibration, belt drive is a good way to go.

    TOM: We just switched to a belt drive and it was amazing how silent it is compared to our old garage-door opener.

    KEVIN: Do you have any living space above the garage?

    TOM: No. But just – I can just appreciate it, though.

    KEVIN: Sure.

    TOM: Yeah, you really have to pay attention when it’s going up and down because you don’t hear it.

    KEVIN: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: And I think it’s also important when you’re considering the type of mechanism for your garage door. You want to think about – what type of family are you? Do you need modern luxuries? Do you want to remotely monitor it? Which is all a possibility.

    KEVIN: Yeah, nowadays you can actually have these systems hooked up so that – obviously, you’ve got the controller in the car to operate it, open and close it. But there are systems that will allow you to do that as you drive away from the house or you’re very far away from the house.

    You know, you’re 20 miles down the highway, you realize you didn’t close the garage door, there are now apps from your smartphone that can say, “Oh, I’d like to close my garage door now” or even alert you. You can set it up so that if you do drive away and you get a certain distance and haven’t closed the garage door, you get a little ping to your smartphone that says, “Garage door is not closed. Would you like to do that remotely?”

    LESLIE: And it won’t even yell at you for doing that.

    KEVIN: It will not even yell at you.

    TOM: Hey, let’s talk about garage-door safety because once you have the garage-door openers set up, they do have to be properly maintained. So what’s important to do in terms of that?

    KEVIN: Well, garage-door safety has come a long way over the years and that’s a good thing. Because, obviously, when these things are working by themselves, you don’t want anything to get crushed, you don’t want your children or your pets to get hurt in this process.

    And there are two basic safety checks. There is, along the sides of the door, an optical eye. And it basically sends a beam of light across the opening of the doorway, so that if anything is in the way it’ll send the garage door back up. So check that on a monthly basis. Actually put something in front of that optical eye and make sure that the door does stop going up or down when that beam is broken.

    TOM: OK.

    KEVIN: And then secondly, you want to make sure that there is a sensor so that when the door comes down, if it feels any resistance before it’s closed, it will go back up again. So lay something, like a 2×4, about an inch-and-a-half off the ground so that the door can come down onto it. And make sure that when it hits that object, the door goes back up. That will prevent anyone from getting hurt or crushed by the door.

    LESLIE: And do not attempt that with your foot.

    KEVIN: You have something you want to confess, Leslie?

    TOM: Really bad idea. I do feel like there’s a story behind that.

    Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House, great advice on how to make sure we have a garage door that’s working well, safely and lasts us for a long time.

    KEVIN: Always great to be here, guys. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot.

    Coming up, energy-efficient upgrades sell homes. Find out what other improvements can add value, as well, when The Money Pit continues.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by You’ll never have to worry about overpaying for a job. Just use their True Cost Guide to see what others paid for similar projects. Then get matched with top-rated pros, read reviews and get quotes and book appointments, all for free at

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Charlene in Tennessee with a flooring question. What can we do for you?

    CHARLENE: Well, we built our house in 2006 and we purchased, from the mill, solid-oak hardwood planks that we were going to put down for flooring. And it’s 6 inches wide, tongue-and-groove.

    Underneath that, we put – my husband thinks it’s called AdvanTech. It was a 50-year warranty and the mill told us between that and the tongue-and-groove solid oak to put 6 mil of plastic.

    TOM: Alright. So what’s the problem we’re trying to solve here?

    CHARLENE: The problem that we’re solving is in a few areas, one which is mainly the bath and the other is the kitchen, there’s a squeaking noise. It’s like you can’t sneak in that area. It’ll make that noise.

    TOM: So when you go on a diet, your husband can hear you when you try to sneak into the kitchen to get to the refrigerator, huh?

    CHARLENE: Yeah, something like that.

    TOM: Alright. So, look, this has little to do with what is underneath the floor and more to do with just sort of normal wear and tear and expansion and contraction. The reason those floors are – those boards are squeaking is because they’re moving. And so, what you need to do is to tighten them up.

    Now, since it’s a finished floor, you can’t just go willy-nilly throwing nails and screws into it; you’ve got to be a little more strategic. So what you want to do is find the place where there’s a floor joist underneath. And you can do that with a stud finder.

    And once you identify that spot, you drill small holes through the floor and you use what’s called a “trim screw,” which is only a little bit bigger than a finish nail. You screw through the finished floor, into the floor joist, and that will pull that floor down and make it tighter and reduce the amount of movement that it’s capable of. And that’s what’s going to quiet down your squeak. A little harder to do when it’s a finished floor but that’s the way to do it.

    CHARLENE: OK. It sounds like it might be an easy fix.

    LESLIE: Hey, do you want to make your home more appealing to prospective buyers but you’re really not sure where to start? Well, a survey by The Demand Institute revealed that as far as wish lists go, most homeowners want energy efficiency above anything else.

    TOM: Yep. And it makes total sense. Electricity costs have jumped by leaps and bounds the past 15 years, which explains why 51 percent of homeowners surveyed are wishing for an energy-use monitor that shows where the energy and all that money is going. And another 49 percent would like smart appliances that can drive down utility bills.

    LESLIE: With all that in mind, adding insulation, eco-friendly appliances and other smart-home technology is likely to boost your home’s appeal.

    TOM: Yep. And it’s also going to save you plenty of money on utility bills, even between now and when you actually sell that house.

    So, if you need some tips on where to start with all those energy-saving improvements, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Sue in Florida is on the line with a shower that doesn’t drain. Tell us about it.

    SUE: Well, we’re getting ready to close on a home and after the home inspection, we found that the water stands on the shower floor and doesn’t drain.

    TOM: OK. So this came up during the home inspection, Sue?

    SUE: Yes.

    TOM: Well, I would have the seller fix this. What’s causing it? Who knows? Could be as simple as a clog, it could be something more complex, like a broken pipe beneath the slab or a missing vent pipe. But that’s a mechanical issue. And mechanical systems usually have to be in working-order condition at the time of closing. So I would ask the seller to repair that. And if they’re not going to repair it, to give you a substantial credit because you’re going to have to do the investigation to figure out what it is and get it fixed on your own.

    And when drains are in floors and probably inside of a slab floor, it could be very complicated. It could become expensive.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, do you want to make sure your home is protected from the damaging effects of power surges? We’re going to have some tips to help you do that, just ahead.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project, your how-to questions, your DIY dilemmas at 1-888-MONEY-PIT 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: Alright. But these two pros are jumping into our posts and our emails that we receive here over at And now I’ve got one from Jennifer in Ohio. Now, Jennifer writes: “Are there any problems associated with having a whole-house surge suppressor? Individual surge suppressors with backup battery and standby generator all working at the same time.”

    That seems like an awful lot of stuff.

    TOM: That’s a lot of stuff. I mean Jennifer is pretty serious about keeping her power flowing and making sure we don’t damage any equipment.

    You know, in my experience, there can definitely be conflicts between individual surge suppressors and battery backups. Usually, the battery backups today have the suppression built into it. And that’s why you need to look into those technical details, Jennifer, and sort of the fine print of your battery backups to determine if there’s going to be potential conflicts.

    One way to avoid the whole mess, if you can afford the upgrade, is just to install a whole-house generator. These generators have come down way in price over the last 5 to 10 years. And they really are the first sort of line of defense against power failures today. You really should take a look at the current pricing on those and the installation costs. It used to be you had to spend 15 or 20 grand for one of these things and now you can get them – big ones – for under 5. So, take a look at the new, whole-house generators.

    And then, if you’re going to put these individual suppressors in, just make sure you read the manufacturer info very, very carefully because I do know there can be some conflicts.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Allison posted on – Allison is from Chicago. She writes: “My windows drip condensation whenever it gets cold outside and leak down the wall below. What can I do to fix this?”

    TOM: That’s a really common problem, Allison, and it happens very often because there’s just too much moisture, too much humidity inside the house, coupled with windows that are just not very well insulated. They could be old windows, they could be single-pane windows, they could be thermal-pane windows that have no insulating gas between. You really have to look at the entire sort of science behind it.

    The best way to understand what’s happening is think about the summer, when you take a glass of cold water or iced tea outside and you get all that moisture, all that condensation that forms on the outside. That’s kind of what’s happening with your windows. That humidity inside the house is touching the cold glass. It’s chilling the air. As air chills, it releases moisture and the moisture is ending up on that glass.

    So what do you do? Well, first of all, you take lots of steps to try to reduce that moisture. The easiest thing to do is to start outside. Look at your grading and your drainage. If the soil around your house is not sloping away, if your gutters are clogged, if the downspouts are discharging near the foundation, all of that extra water gets sucked into the foundation. And it will go up and release as air – as moisture into the air and do all sorts of things: cause mold problems, cause the condensation and so on.

    Also, look at your fans – your vent fans – in your bathrooms and kitchens. Make sure that they’re outside – they’re venting outside and not just into the attic spaces. And in basements, look at that high humidity that you have down there. You can add something like an E•Z Breathe system or a dehumidifier to take that moisture out of the basement and get it outside. All of these things will work together to reduce that vapor pressure that fills inside your house and goes up.

    Now, the windows – we mentioned them earlier – if you’re ready for upgrades because they’re just not insulated, think about replacing them one side at a time starting with the north, which is the coldest side. And this way, you’ll reduce the condensation as you go.

    LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you out, Allison. And hopefully, you’re onto less leaky windows happening in the future. And it’s almost spring, so let’s go with that.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much for stopping by today. If you’ve got some home projects on your spring to-do list, we’d love to hear about them. You can call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post them to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at

    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 2019 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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