Best Places to Find Bonus Space – #0828171

  • Under stair pullout cabinets
    Desperately need more storage space? Every home has hidden nooks and crannies that are perfect for storage, such as under the stairs.
  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you tackle whatever home improvement or décor project is on your to-do list. Help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question to the Community page at

    We have got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, are you feeling a little cramped at home but maybe you’re not ready to take on a total addition? Well, then look up, look down and all around because your home may very likely already contain some hidden space ready for update. We’re going to tell you where to find the best bonus spaces, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, leaks that come from pipes can be easy to spot. But when the leaks come from condensation, finding that cause is a little more complicated. We’re going to have solutions to spot and solve these less obvious but equally damaging leaks.

    TOM: And it’s hard to believe it’s almost time to close up pools for the season. We’re going to have some tips to help avoid high repair bills next summer by winterizing it the right way.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’ll shed some light around your home because we’re giving away the two-pack NetBright High-Performance Security Lights from Mr Beams.

    TOM: This is a simple way to add light, without wiring, to any dark area outside your home. And they’re super bright and the batteries last for a full year.

    Now, that pair is worth 125 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. We’d love to talk to you. Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Steve in Delaware needs some electrical help. What’s going on at your money pit?

    STEVE: I have an outlet that died on me. I changed the outlet but it still doesn’t work or the breakers. None of the breakers went and all the GFIs are all good. It just doesn’t work.

    TOM: So it’s just one outlet?

    STEVE: That’s correct.

    TOM: And you have no ground faults that tripped it and you have no breakers that tripped it. Do you know if the wiring is hot in the outlet?

    STEVE: Right. I put a tester on it and it says it’s not hot. Now, all of a sudden, it just died.

    TOM: Well, it says the outlet’s not hot but I wonder if the wiring feeding the outlet is hot. That’s my question. So, you – first of all, you probably shouldn’t be doing this repair, Steve, unless you’re very, very competent with electrical work, because it’s potentially dangerous. But if I were you and I was faced with this problem, what I would do is I would take the cover plate off of the electrical outlet, I would use one of my electrical testers that detects current – not the outlet but current – and I would stick it in there and see if I actually have hot wires. If I have hot wires, then I know I’ve got a bad outlet. And if that’s the case, we need to turn the power off completely, make absolutely, positively sure that the power is off and then switch out that outlet with a new one.

    STEVE: Well, I checked the wires when I went to switch the outlet out, because there was a crack on the outlet.

    TOM: OK.

    STEVE: I switched the outlet out and I checked the wires when I did that. And I’m not getting any electric to the wires.

    TOM: So, Steve, this is now beyond the scope of what I think you probably should be doing yourself, because outlets can be wired in series. And so, the actual failure can be somewhere else done the line. And I think you ought to turn to an electrician and have them investigate it and repair it, just to make sure it’s safe, OK?

    STEVE: Alright. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Steve. Sometimes it’s a do-it-yourself project and sometimes it’s not.

    LESLIE: Rachel in Rhode Island is on the line with a wallpaper question. How can we help you today?

    RACHEL: I’ve had mold develop on our expensive designer wallpaper. It’s dark red and it’s about 18 inches above the beadboard molding on plaster walls. My house is 125 years old. I wondered if there’s any way of saving the wallpaper.

    LESLIE: Was there a leak? Do you know what caused this mold to develop over there?

    RACHEL: Well, I have a wet basement.

    TOM: So have you done anything to address the moisture problem in the basement?

    RACHEL: The walls are made out of fieldstone. So I don’t think there’s too much we can do.

    TOM: Oh, sure there is. There’s lots of things you can do. So let’s tackle these problems one at a time.

    Now, in terms of the wallpaper itself, if the mold has been there for a long time and it’s actually stained the wallpaper, it may be difficult for you to get that wallpaper back to its original color, because it’s physically changed. You might be able to try a mildicide on the wallpaper, at least to see if it will remove the mold. There’s a product called Spray & Forget that if the walls get any amount of light at all – sunlight – they’ll activate and kill any mold spores that are behind. And then once that happens, you could try to just simply to clean the wallpaper.

    Now, in terms of the wet basement that you feel that there’s nothing you can do about, most wet basements – whether it’s concrete wall, fieldstone, concrete block, I don’t care what it is – those wet basements are caused by two things and two things only, one of which is the fact that the gutter system at the outside of the house is not usually properly designed or discharging water far enough away from the foundation. The other thing is that the soil around the house is too flat; it doesn’t slope away from the wall.

    So those two things are the most common contributing factors to water problems, not rising water tables and other things that are more difficult to control. But certainly, looking at your gutter system and making sure that water that’s collecting at the roof edge is discharging 4 to 6 to 8 feet away from the house and that the soil is sloping away from the house. So I would concentrate on – certainly on the wet-basement issue, as well, because that’s going to stop more mold from forming in the future.

    And then in terms of the wallpaper that’s there now, you could try a product like Spray & Forget, which does not contain any bleach or lye or acid. So it’s not going to affect the color. And see if it can kill off the mold that’s there.

    RACHEL: OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Daniel in Louisiana is on the line with a stinky-water situation. What’s going on?

    DANIEL: OK. My girlfriend moved into a dentist office about a year ago. And the office sat vacant for couple years before she moved in. And now the water has a rotten-egg smell to it. It’s not coming from anything. It’s actually coming from the water itself. It’s not coming from a drain or anything like that. It’s actually coming from the water when you turn it on.

    TOM: Hmm. OK.

    DANIEL: Hot and cold water.

    TOM: Because if it’s coming just from the hot water, then that – what that means is that there’s a bad anode rod in the water heater itself. So that could be contributing to it. If it’s coming from both hot and cold water and it’s coming not just when you turn the water on but when it runs for a while, if it still smells that way then I think what you’re going to need to do is to put a charcoal filter in.

    DANIEL: Exactly.

    TOM: I would put a whole-house water filter in so that it’s installed at the main. And that will actually treat all of the water going through the house and take that smell away.

    DANIEL: OK. Just so – what kind would you – what kind is out there? I’m not sure. I’m not …

    TOM: Called a “whole-house water filter.” Lots of manufacturers out there. But you want a whole-house water filter, not just one at the faucet itself. A whole-house.

    DANIEL: OK. Good enough. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: And just ahead, if you’re feeling a little cramped at home, then look up, down and all around because there’s most likely a bonus space hiding in plain sight. We’ll share tips on the best conversions, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We’d love to talk with you about the project that’s on your to-do list. You can reach us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros. Plus, it’s 100-percent free to use.

    TOM: Finish those last-minute projects of summer before Labor Day by starting at

    And if you reach out to us, right now, with your home improvement question, you’ll get the answer plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. It’s a two-pack of Mr Beams NetBright High-Performance Security Lights.

    Now, these things are bright: 500 lumens. And that’s perfect for lighting a large garage area or a driveway or an entryway. And usually, that’s a hard area to light but these are battery-powered, so they’re super easy to light. And the batteries last about a full year.

    You’ll find them at Home Depot or The value for these two products is 125 bucks but it’s going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online to the Community page at

    And Leslie, I’ve got to tell you, I have two of the closet lights from Mr Beams. And I put one in Sue’s closet – my wife’s closet – and we put one in my son’s closet. And man, what a difference these things make. I have never had a closet light that was battery-powered that was so super bright. So, this product line is fantastic. And wherever you need to pick up some light, inside or out, Mr Beams has got a product that works there.

    LESLIE: No more dressing in the dark for you guys.

    TOM: No. At least we don’t have that excuse anymore, right?

    LESLIE: Right. You can’t blame your clothes on that anymore, OK?

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: Laura in Connecticut is on the line and wants to rearrange the kitchen. How can we help you?

    LAURA: It’s an old house. The house is 100-plus. And right underneath the kitchen floor, there is a portion of the floor that doesn’t have a beam under it. But we would like to put an appliance there. We would like to place an appliance there. So, we just need something that would just support it gently, just in case too much weight.

    TOM: So, I mean generally speaking, floor structures are designed to hold a refrigerator. They’re not that heavy. If you wanted to beef up the structure of that area, your kitchen already has existing floor joists. So the girder will go perpendicular to those. It’s not a true girder in the sense that it wouldn’t be supported with its own foundation.

    But what sometimes many folks will do is they’ll put a girder-like beam underneath those floor joists, on some Lally columns, maybe support it by a very small foundation that might be a 1-foot-by-1-foot-square pour of concrete, so that you can kind of take the bounce out of the middle of those beams.

    Sometimes, if you have long beams in a house or long floor joists in a house, you’ll get kind of a bounce when you walk across the floor. And that can make it feel weak, even though maybe it’s not, but it just has more flex than you’re accustomed to. So putting in the additional beam perpendicular to the floor joists can eliminate that. It’s not going to hold up more than that beam, so it doesn’t need to be substantially supported. But I think, still, you could do – a carpenter could do a good, clean job and give you that additional support that’s going to make you feel comfortable. Does that make sense?

    LAURA: Oh, yes, it does. OK. Now, if there is a dirt floor, would it be wise to put down a cement foundation?

    TOM: So you wouldn’t – you would support it by columns and the bottom of the column would be supported by concrete, not necessarily a complete floor. But what, generally, you’ll do is dig out maybe a 1-foot-by-1-foot-square hole, fill that up with concrete and have the column sit right on top of that.

    Again, it’s not the same kind of foundation that you would use to put a beam up that was holding up the entire house. But what you’re really doing here is just sort of taking the bounce out of that floor. You’re giving it a little bit of additional support.

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

    LESLIE: Well, with the turn of the seasons coming, now is a good time to start organizing once again. I feel like we are always organizing. It’s like let’s just stay organized.

    TOM: And it has a lot to do with kids. If the kids are young, like yours, you’re always organizing. And with mine, they’re all leaving, so we’re quick figuring out other ways to use that space before they come home.

    LESLIE: Well, if you guys are thinking that maybe a little more space can help you, why not take a look around your house? Because that space likely already exists. You might have a space that’s ready for conversion to a comfort zone or a storage space or even a recreation area.

    TOM: Yeah, this is what we call “bonus spaces.” And they’re the kind of spaces that are underutilized real estate in your home. If you think about it, a perfect example would be a basement or an attic, because they have pretty much the exact amount of square footage as a single floor on your house. But fixing them up is pretty much the least expensive addition you can do and it’s a nice way to come up with some very truly functional space.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, there’s lots of uses for these bonus spaces around your house, like extra bedrooms, a workshop, a hobby room, a hangout space for your teen. Maybe you want a home office. There’s really more things that you can do with those spaces. It just depends on what you do every day in your life that you’d like to have a space for in your home.

    Now, bonus-space conversions vary in scale and their structural requirements and style. So when you set your budget, you’ve got to start with an honest assessment of your existing space. And remember that 20-percent reserve rule. You’ve got to budget an extra 20 percent and that’ll go for any of those surprises that really do pop up, especially when we’re digging into walls and floors. And you truly don’t know what you’re going to find until you get into it.

    TOM: Yeah. And those surprises can be anywhere. But one advantage with projects like this is that you can build towards them over time as you have resources that become available. These were not spaces that you were counting on, which is why we call them “bonus spaces.” So it’s OK to build out these spaces a little bit at a time.

    And it’s not just attics and basements. It could be reconfiguring a closet. Or in my case, I had a staircase that came down from the first floor to the second floor. And there was a really big closet underneath it and a room that we basically converted. And now that former closet under the stair is now a beautiful desk area. And in the bottom third of it, we kind of walled it off and made this sort of triangle-shaped storage cubby. So there’s a lot of places like that where maybe it doesn’t strike you as obvious but when you stare at it and think about it for a while, man, there’s a great idea and you can tackle it. And it’s a really fun way to pick up some extra space.

    LESLIE: David in Delaware is on the line with an HVAC conundrum. What is going on at your money pit?

    DAVID: I’ve been in this house for 29 years. I was the original owner. And I live in a two-story house. And on the second story, I’ve always had two roofs that were too hot in the summertime and too cold in the wintertime. So the first thing I did to the whole house was replace all the windows. It didn’t help it. Three years ago, I replaced my heat pump and got a bigger unit. Helped it out a little bit but not a whole lot.

    And then after I got my solar panels, the guys came in and did a leak test on my house. And they said the house is good and tight but the guys said that most of your cold-air return is being sucked up in the basement. So I’ve got some big-time leaks down there. So, after looking around down there, the guy also clued me into that my cold-air return ducts they used or they did back in the day – your studs going up through the walls and the rafters in the basement …

    TOM: Right. They used that as the duct itself. It basically used the stud bay as the duct.

    DAVID: So where I found my problem to be is the main trunk of the cold-air return. They just kind of cut a great, big hole in it. And then they raised the trunk up to the floor joists. Well, I’ve got gaping holes up where the trunk does not hit the joists. And that’s on four different joists that I need to try to seal that up. And it’s in a bad spot to get to. And I was wondering, do you have any ideas?

    TOM: So, yeah, first of all, duct sealing itself and leaky ducts are responsible for probably more energy loss than almost anything else in a forced-air system. Now, there’s a number of ways that you can attack this. You can do it sort of structurally and mechanically, where you try to get to every one of these ducts and try to repair it so it doesn’t have the leaks. Or you can do it with a product called Aeroseal.

    Aeroseal is a product that’s sprayed into the duct system and basically sticks to the inside of the ducts, completely sealing them. And it’s designed to basically look for the gaps and then build up where the air is escaping in those gaps. And it makes the entire system much more efficient.

    There’s a great video on this on If you Google “This Old House” and “Aeroseal” – A-e-r-o-s-e-a-l – you’ll find that video. And you can kind of understand the whole story.

    But basically, once it’s applied, it completely seals both the return and the supply ducts. And it might be just the ticket that you need to get this house working again. Because you’re right: if you don’t have proper air returns – you know, heating-and-cooling systems work not by just dumping cold air or warm air into the room, they work by recirculating air. Because it takes many passes of that air through the room to get it to the temperature that you want it to be. And if they’re full of holes, it’s just not going to work right.

    So, take a look at Aeroseal. I think that might be the solution to your problem.

    DAVID: And on your online thing, it’ll show how do apply it and how to do it?

    TOM: It’s professionally applied. It’s not a do-it-yourself project. It requires special tools.

    DAVID: Oh, professionally.

    TOM: Yeah. And you’re better off doing it that way. This way, you know that it’s done right and all of those gaps are sealed. But I think it’ll make a big difference.

    DAVID: I appreciate your help.

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

    Well, a drippy, sweating toilet tank can actually cause quite a bit of water damage. Just ahead, Richard Trethewey of This Old House will be here with the fix.

    TOM: And today’s This Old House Tip on The Money Pit is presented by Lumber Liquidators, with over 400 varieties of bamboo, laminate, wood-look tile, vinyl plank and hardwood floors for less.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we would love to talk about your home improvement projects. You can post them to the Community page at or pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    And if you’re a service pro looking to grow your business and connect with project-ready homeowners, check out

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Linda on the line calling in from Florida. How can we help you today?

    LINDA: I have a cement floor that was originally stained. And then it was painted over with supposedly a really good stuff. And now, not doing well. And we want to take care of it but we don’t want to have to remove all that’s there. We just want to know if you have something we could put over it that will – it has heavy machinery in it and there’s gas and oil and all that sort of stuff there.

    TOM: So this is where? In the garage?

    LINDA: Actually it’s in a hangar.

    TOM: Oh, it’s in a hangar? Oh, OK.

    LINDA: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Yeah. So, usually, the best kind of floor for an industrial location like that is epoxy paint. And the way epoxy paint works is it’s a two-part paint. So when you purchase it, it probably comes in larger quantities, depending on how many square feet you want to apply. But typically, for a house, it would come in a gallon-size container. Except that when you open the gallon up, it’s only filled up about three-quarters of the way because you also get a quart of hardener. And the idea is you mix the two together. And then the chemical reaction is what gives you the durability and the drying of that epoxy surface.

    Now, because it was stained I’m not as concerned. Because it was painted, you will need to at least get off any loose paint material that’s there now. Because if you put good paint over bad paint, you’re still going to have flaking. Because the bad paint acts kind of as the Teflon there and it won’t let the new paint get into the floor itself. So you are going to have to pressure-wash that floor, you’re going to have to abrade that floor. You’ve got to get as much of that old paint off as you can so that you have a good surface.

    But I think the solution is epoxy paint. And they also have sort of a coloring fleck that can be added to that paint that gives it kind of a texture and helps sort of hide the dirt. So if you’re looking for a reasonably easy, inexpensive way to give that floor a whole new look and new life, I would recommend epoxy paint.

    LINDA: Well, thank you so much. I enjoy listening to you.

    TOM: Well, thank you, Linda. We appreciate the call, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Well, summertime is a great time of year for barbecues and pool parties. And it also causes you and your family and friends to sweat it out a little bit. But it also causes your toilet to do so, as well.

    And if you’ve ever noticed water dripping off of your toilet tank in the summer, you know what we mean.

    TOM: So why does a toilet sweat?

    LESLIE: It’s getting a workout.

    TOM: And what can we do about it? To help answer these questions, we’ve enlisted the skills of This Old House plumbing expert, Richard Trethewey.

    Hi, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hey, guys. Nice to be back.

    TOM: And it sounds funny but a sweating toilet can actually cause quite a bit of water damage, can’t it?

    RICHARD: Absolutely. You know, condensation is the problem. Any time you have too much of a temperature difference – you’ve got cold water on the inside of the tank and then you’ve got warm, moist air on the outside of the tank, it will actually sweat on the outside of that surface and drip down onto the floor. And so we see it – anywhere east of the Rockies, we’ve got this humidity issue. In the West, we don’t have a lot of that sort of thing.

    TOM: And we’ve seen some crazy solutions for this, including toilet-tank insulator kits and things like that.

    RICHARD: Right. And that – I don’t want to say they don’t work but they don’t always work, because it really depends on that humidity level in the building and just how cold that water is. And so, really, the best solution we’ve seen is this anti-sweat valve that is designed to be installed down underneath the toilet.

    And what it does is it sends cold water but it also mixes a little bit of hot water – not a lot – but just enough to raise the temperature of the water in the toilet tank to get below …

    TOM: Oh, interesting. So it warms up.

    RICHARD: Right. To get below the dew point that would cause that condensation to form.

    LESLIE: That’s interesting. I mean is that something that a homeowner can tackle themselves or because we’re dealing with water and the toilet and waste, is that something we just shouldn’t even mess with?

    RICHARD: Well, it really depends on your skill set. I think it does require soldering; it requires you to shut the water off and to do a little bit of plumbing.

    LESLIE: Which people forget: turning the water off. People forget.

    RICHARD: Yeah, it’s much better to do the work with the water shut off, yes. So it tends to be a professional solution and it’s really as a last resort. But we did one on Ask This Old House and this guy had lived with this sweating problem. He just – everything in his house was perfect and he just couldn’t stand that the water was dripping on the floor. And we finally fixed it and he was just – it was great joy in his house.

    TOM: I bet. Now, does it use a lot of hot water? Does it cost energy?

    RICHARD: It’s not a lot. It does cost some energy because you’re using some hot water.

    TOM: Right. Right.

    RICHARD: You’re not literally – you’re not making that hot water, that toilet tank, be filled with hot water; you’re only just trying to temper it a little bit just to get it down above that 45-degree or 50-degree temperature.

    TOM: And so I imagine this is a problem that’s much more common in a home that does not have central air conditioning.

    RICHARD: Yep, yep. Yeah. If you get drier air – if the air conditioner is on and you’ve dried the air out – there’s a good chance you’re not going to have this condition.

    TOM: Now, Richard, is this a problem that’s common to older toilets with the really big tanks or does it also happen with the more modern ones that are more efficient?

    RICHARD: Well, it’s really any conventional toilet tank that has water in it. And so, most of the models can have this issue in a high-humidity area.

    There are some pressure-assisted toilets. Now, if you looked inside the toilet tank on a pressure-assisted, you wouldn’t see the tank fill with water; you’ll actually look inside and see this black plastic tank or chamber. And in that case, you’re not going to have that temperature difference and it won’t sweat.

    LESLIE: Now, I imagine in some situations, you’re dealing with a leaky toilet. Maybe you’re getting phantom flushing or issues where the toilet is running. Is it important to make sure that that’s sort of fixed or maintained before you implement this system, to not waste hot water?

    RICHARD: Absolutely. Just imagine if water came into a toilet tank and even if it was cold, over time it would warm up. And so then the sweating problem is gone. But if you keep on adding new 40- and 45-degree water, that sweating problem will be a real issue. So you want to make the repair on two fronts: one to stop wasting water and the other is to help stop that condensation.

    TOM: That’s terrific. Now, you have a video on how to do just this on

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: Yeah. And it’s really interesting because you can see underneath the terrible damage that this toilet had been doing to this poor guy’s ceiling for years. And with a very small plumbing assembly, like you’ve just described, it all goes away.

    RICHARD: That’s right. Like magic.

    TOM: Very, very simple fix. Great idea. Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: Glad to be here.

    LESLIE: For more great home improvement advice, you can watch Richard and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Up next, if you’re lucky enough to have one, it’s almost time to close your pool. We’re going to help you avoid a common mistake that can make its water unsafe for next season, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call or post your question to the Community page at You’ll get the answer plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great product.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. We’ve got up for grabs a two-pack of the Mr Beams NetBright High-Performance Security Lights. I mean these lights are very bright. We’re talking 500 lumens. And you can use that to light large areas, like your driveway or an entryway, even a backyard or shed. They’re battery-powered, so they’re super easy to install wireless. Anybody, really, can do it.

    And it just uses a set of alkaline batteries, which will provide about a year of light with the average use of 8 to 10 activations a day. So you really can’t beat it and the light is fantastic.

    You can check them out at Home Depot or at And it’s a prize worth 125 bucks.

    TOM: We’ve got that two-pack of Mr Beams NetBright High-Performance Security Lights going out to one caller or one poster. You know, what’s interesting about all the product we give away is it’s not just for folks that call the show. If you go to the website at and you post your question – whether we use the question or not, because we can’t always get to everyone’s questions – everybody that calls, everybody that posts gets their name tossed in for that week’s prize. So you could win a great product if you do one of those two things: call us with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post it to the Community page at

    LESLIE: John in Oregon is on the line and has a question about a wood-burning stove. What can we do for you?

    JOHN: Yes. I know that they have them – they sell them. Just was wondering who actually makes them.

    TOM: Wood stoves?

    JOHN: Yeah. Fuel efficient. I guess they’re more efficient than the older-type wood stoves.

    TOM: Yeah. Look, all the major manufacturers are making more efficient wood stoves these days. In fact, just last year, the EPA introduced a new source performance standard that basically requires the wood stoves to measure and report how much particulate it distributes into the air. And that also plays into efficiency. So if you look for EPA-certified wood stoves that meet the 2015 standards, you’re going to be looking at a set of pretty efficient wood-stove products.

    JOHN: I guess you’ve answered my question. I appreciate it very much.

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

    Well, now that Labor Day is just about here, for those that have pools it’s just about time to close them for the season. But you know what? With a few simple steps, you can avoid winter damage and make sure your pool is good to go when it’s opened next year.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Your pool’s filtration system, that’s the most susceptible to freezing temperatures and really does require special attention. So to avoid those costly repairs, you need to thoroughly flush and drain the pipes and fixtures now before those cold-winter temps really start to set in.

    TOM: Yep. And an easy way to do just that is to blow compressed air through the pipes. You want to keep the pressure at less than around 20 pounds per square inch to prevent system damage.

    Now, if you’ve got a small pool and no compressor, here’s a little trick of the trade: use a wet/dry vacuum. You could put it on the blower setting and it’ll work just fine for those smaller systems.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Then you want to fill the system with antifreeze but I’m not talking about any automobile antifreeze. You’ve got to use a specially formulated one. It’s propylene glycol RV antifreeze. You’ve got to choose the right product, because it’s really important for the safety of swimmers come springtime and for people or the pets that might come in contact with and swallow any of that spilled or stored liquid.

    Now, this specialized antifreeze provides freeze-and-burst protection to as low as -50 below – 50 below Fahrenheit. And it’s generally safe for people and the environment.

    TOM: And of course, don’t forget to plug the skimmer. Otherwise, the system can fill with rainwater or melted snow and develop damage despite your best efforts. It’s worth taking the time now to do this right. And this way, next spring, you finally decide it’s time to take off the cover and fire up the pool, you’ll be good to go. You won’t have any expensive repairs to deal with. It’s worth it. Take your time to do it once, do it right and you won’t have to do it again.

    LESLIE: J.R. in Texas is on the line with a question about bees. It was a dream. That’s all I’m saying.

    TOM: Hey, J.R. How can we help you?

    J.R.: I have a particular question on some bees. I went to my water meter and in the water meter there’s a nest of bumblebees and – or honeybees. Sorry about that. And I’m looking to see what’s the correct way to maybe remove them – to relocate them – somewhere else before their nest gets destroyed.

    TOM: Boy, I’ll tell you what, I’ve got to say that I’ve seen them in trees and I know that beekeepers with the proper equipment and the proper procedure can move them. But if it’s attached to something very structural or mechanical like a water meter, that makes it a lot more difficult. Because you can’t clip the water meter off your house with the bees attached to it and carry it to a new location.

    So I’m going to have to punt on this and tell you to get some advice from a local bee expert and see if they can figure out a creative way to move that hive safely, because it is attached to the water meter. And I guess it’s really going to probably come down to how much inconvenience you’re going to want to go through. Because I don’t even know if it’s possible to get that water meter off your house. You’d have to shut the water off from the street.

    I applaud that you want to try to preserve these bees but this is a very difficult spot for you to have to extract them from.

    J.R.: [Save your time.] (ph) That is pretty much my question on that.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, are you thinking about upgrading your laundry room? Well, we’re going to have some tips on floors that can handle the moisture, after this. And a trick to stop washing machines that vibrate, just ahead.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by for your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by, where you can find top-rated home pros you can trust.

    LESLIE: And for local pros who want to grow their business, HomeAdvisor is the easy way to get connected with project-ready homeowners.

    TOM: Absolutely. Now, you can also call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at And that’s what Rachel did.

    And it looks like Rachel is doing a laundry project, Les.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Rachel writes: “We’re remodeling our laundry room, which is also our guest half-bath. Is laminate wood flooring safe under a washing machine or is a ceramic tile better? Expense is an issue.”

    TOM: You know, I think either are perfect choices for that space because they’re both moisture-resistant flooring products. I mean laminate flooring is a good choice for either a laundry or a bath. And it can even be installed over a ceramic floor that’s already down.

    The laminate floor is going to be both easier to install and less expensive than ceramic tile. But in either event, you want to make sure that under that washing machine you install a good-quality overflow pan, because that’s the place where it’s going to leak. It’s going to leak all over that floor if there’s any kind of a clog in the drain, an errant sock gets stuck and the water just flows over the top. You want to have a good-quality overflow pan.

    And by the way, there are poor-quality overflow pans and there are really good ones. Now, last time I did this project, I found one that was fiberglass. Really tough. And I really liked that because typically, the overflow pans are like these flexible kind of plastic gray things that unless you are Superman and can lift that washer up straight and drop it right down, you end up cracking it just putting the washer back. So, I like the fiberglass pans. A little bit more expensive but not terribly more. And it did a really good job.

    LESLIE: Alright. It seems like everybody is working on laundry-room projects this weekend. Got a post here from Andrew who writes: “The manual for my high-efficiency washer says I need to reinforce the floor. What does this mean? Do I need a new subfloor? How big of a job is this?”

    TOM: That sounds like one of those things that when they wrote the manual and ran it by the lawyers, they said, “Hey, you’d better put in there that they’re going to have to reinforce the floor.” That’s very, very rare. Unless you have a really old house with a really weak floor, I can’t imagine that you have to do much reinforcement on a floor.

    But I will say this: those high-efficiency machines spin very, very fast. They’re not perfectly balanced. And even if they are balanced, there’s going to be some degree of vibration. And if you’ve got an older home, especially, that can transmit into a very loud, annoying sound. I’ve seen these washers sort of walk across the floor because they were vibrating and sort of skidding across the floor.

    LESLIE: Oh, for sure.

    TOM: So there’s a product called an “anti-vibration block.” It’s like a rubber block and it goes under. There’s four of them in the package. It goes under each foot of those high-speed washing machines and it basically absorbs that vibration.

    Now, it’s still got to be level, right? I mean you can’t put it on anything that’s sloping. But it really does a good job of sort of silencing those machines and making them a lot steadier in place when they’re going through that very, very fast spin cycle.

    LESLIE: The best part is that they spin so much water out that it really reduces the drying time. So you’re saving a lot of efficiency there with the dryer. But you do have to make sure that your washer’s not going to go anywhere, because those buggers can move when they get going.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this final weekend of summer with us. So sad Labor Day is upon us. But you know what? That kicks off the fall home improvement season. As we always say, it’s the Goldilocks season because it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, it’s just right to tackle just about any how-to project on your to-do list. We will be here to help you every step of the way.

    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 2017 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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