How to Cut Water Heating Costs + Closet Organization Tips #0122181

  • closets
  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here for you, so take a look around your house, your apartment, your condo. What projects do you want to get done? You can ask us for help by picking up the phone and calling us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question, right now, to the Community page at

    LESLIE: Claudia in Massachusetts is on the line and has a question about insulation. How can we help you today?

    CLAUDIA: I’m working on doing some upgrades to my father’s house. And his attic has some insulation and it’s falling down in parts. And I wanted to find out, first of all, how do I know if it’s – and it seems like a simple enough job to do it myself but I don’t know if it’s safe to do it myself. The house was built in the – probably in the 1950s and he bought it in the late 70s. So I’m not sure – can I just remove the parts that are falling off and dispose of them?

    TOM: So you said the insulation is falling down or the ceiling is falling down?

    CLAUDIA: The insulation. The insulation. So the …

    TOM: And the insulation where?

    CLAUDIA: In the attic.

    TOM: OK.

    CLAUDIA: And the attic is – it’s a modified Cape Cod and he has a fan in the attic: a big attic fan that he uses the cool the house in the summer.

    TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.

    CLAUDIA: So I don’t like the idea that insulation – it’s just kind of hanging in parts or hanging down.

    TOM: Where is it hanging from? Is it in the roof rafters? Is it in the wall – the knee walls? Where is it?

    CLAUDIA: It’s in the roof. So it’s really the – the roof is – it’s a really steep roof on both sides.

    TOM: Right.

    CLAUDIA: And that, effectively, is – it makes up the walls of the space.

    TOM: Right. So there’s no drywall; it’s just exposed insulation. Is that what you’re saying?

    CLAUDIA: Exactly. Exactly.

    TOM: Yeah. OK. So, that’s not uncommon. But I will say that when you have that type of a cathedral ceiling, it’s called, you have to leave some space for ventilation. So, if those were 2×8 rafters, you couldn’t put 8 inches of insulation in it; you’d have to put 6-inch-deep insulation so you have some space behind it for ventilation. The fact that it’s falling off, it sounds like it might be a paper-faced or a foil-faced tab that very often …

    CLAUDIA: Yep. Paper face.

    TOM: Yeah, they’ll just deteriorate over time. It’s not designed to be a permanent, you know, ceiling surface. So probably just through exposure, over the years, it’s become dried out and weak and that’s why it’s dropping down. So it’s not a hard thing for you to replace.

    The other thing that you might want to consider, though, is adding spray-foam insulation to that space. And if you did that, it would make an enormous difference on the energy efficiency of the home. And you can do it because it’s not finished now. So, it’s fully exposed. If you did it with spray foam, you would basically be spraying foam into those rafter bays. And in some cases – like what I did at my house, I covered the rafters because I wanted thicker insulation. And it made an enormous difference in that space and the entire house by using spray foam, because spray foam will expand and seal in addition to insulate.

    So, yeah, that’s kind of a bigger improvement. You can just fix up the insulation that’s there now. But if you really want to do something that’s going to last for the ages, spray foam would be the right way to go.

    CLAUDIA: Is spray foam something that – would I have to have someone come and do that? (inaudible)

    TOM: Oh, yeah.


    TOM: Yeah, it has to be professionally applied. There’s special trucks where it’s kind of a two-part formula and it’s mixed together at the truck. And you have to have guys that are very used to applying it. And it goes on very, very thin, then it expands. It has a 50-to-1 or 100-to-1 expansion ratio.

    CLAUDIA: Oh, wow.

    TOM: So, it goes on as a thin coat and then it expands and fills the space.

    We used Icynene, which is probably the largest manufacturer of spray foam in the country. And those guys did a fantastic job in our house.


    TOM: In fact, if you go to, there is an e-book there – a free e-book – called The Money Pit Guide to Insulation. There’s actually pictures of my house and the spray foam as it was being applied, in that guidebook. And you can compare and contrast the different types of insulation and actually show you some utility bills from before and after. You see what effect it had.

    CLAUDIA: Oh, that’s wonderful. Thank you so much. I really appreciate the help.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. You’re a good daughter taking care of your dad’s house.

    CLAUDIA: I try. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Ryan is on the line and has a question about a driveway. What’s going on?

    RYAN: I have rubber marks in my asphalt driveway. Looks like some people were doing burnouts in it before …

    TOM: Say, who’s spinning – who’s burning rubber in your driveway? You’ve got a teenager?

    RYAN: Yeah, we just bought the house.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RYAN: And the previous people must have had some big parties or something but ­– so I tried a degreaser and a power washer but it didn’t come out. And I’m clueless; I can’t find anything else.

    TOM: I don’t think you’re going to get those out. I think you’re probably just going to have to let them ride until you decide to seal the driveway again. So, it’s a bit cold now but come spring – maybe spring or fall – this would be a good project and that’s to reseal the whole driveway and just kind of cover them over. I don’t think you’re going to be able to clean asphalt. It’s hard enough to get oil stains out but if you’ve got burn marks in it, I just don’t see it happening.

    RYAN: Oh, OK. That’s good to know. And is sealing the driveway – is that something I could do myself or should I hire a …?

    TOM: Sure. Yep. Well, yeah, either way. You definitely could do it yourself. You can buy good-quality sealer products at your home center, like Home Depot. I know QUIKRETE makes them. And what you’re also going to buy is an oversized squeegee. It’s like the squeegee the size of a big, old push broom. And you need to make sure that if there’s cracks, there’s products you use for that. And you make sure it’s nice and clean, then you kind of start down one end and work your way out. And give it a good day or two in the sunshine to dry up real nice and hard and then you’re good to go.

    It’s something you have to do every couple of years when you own an asphalt driveway, because the road salt, the ice, it really wears on it, as does the sun. And it’s going to shrink, it’s going to crack and the surface is going to wear off. It has to be resealed.

    RYAN: OK. Is there a specific product, Tom, that you recommend?

    TOM: I would look at the QUIKRETE products – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. I know those guys. They’re really good. Their formulations are really awesome. I saw – in fact, when I saw your note coming up here on our caller screen, I was wondering if it was a concrete driveway.

    Because I just came back from a trade show where they showed me a resurfacer product that was absolutely amazing. We get a lot of calls from folks that have old, deteriorated concrete surfaces. So they – and they always try to put more concrete on it or more cement on it and it peels off. They come up with this resurfacer product. And what they did was they did like a tensile-strength test on it where it’s, basically, apply the concrete and then they try to pull it apart, right, try to pull this resurfacer off the concrete. This stuff was so strong, it actually took chunks of the concrete, in aggregate, with it when they tried to pull it apart. So I mean that’s good chemistry right there.

    And so that’s what I mean: I trust those formulations and I think they put a lot into them to make sure that you have good adhesion and good performance out of it.

    RYAN: Alright. Well, thanks so much. And I listen to you guys all the time. I’ve learned a ton from you both.

    TOM: Alright. Well, we’re glad we can help you out, man. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit presented by, where you can find top-rated home pros you can trust. Call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if your hot water comes thanks to an electric water heater, you might know that electric water heaters may very well be one of the most expensive appliances in your house to run. Well, there’s some good news: there’s a new water heater on the market that’s almost 300-percent more efficient. And it might just be eligible for hundreds of dollars in rebates, as well. We’ll share those details on that new technology, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we want to hear from you. Pick up the phone, give us a call with your home improvement or repair question or décor dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: Sherry in Georgia is on the line with a question about cleaning bathroom tile. What’s going on?

    SHERRY: I bought a condo and the bathroom tiles are really, really pretty but they’re old. And they have lost their luster. And I think it – you know, I went looking for a solution that didn’t involve demolition.

    TOM: Well, that sounds like a possibility. Let’s see what we can do to help you.

    So you say the tiles have lost their luster. Is it really the grout or is it the tiles themselves?

    SHERRY: Oh, no, it’s the tiles. They have absolutely no shine to them whatsoever. They’re very, very matte and it’s sort – it should have that luster, like the subway tiles.

    TOM: Well, maybe. No, not necessarily. There’s a lot of tiles that have lost – that have matte finishes, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: There are tiles that have matte finishes that tend to get the dirt stuck to them a little bit more easily because the gloss is there, really, to protect that tile. And sometimes, tiles that are purposely meant to have a matte finish will have a coating on them that will help keep the dirt away. So it’s really – the goal here is do we want to clean the tile that you have? Do we want to change the tile? What’s your goal?

    SHERRY: In a perfect world, I would like to clean it and it stay clean and shiny. I would rather end up with a shiny.

    TOM: See, I don’t think she’s going to be able to bring it back to shiny if it’s a matte finish. It may not have ever been designed for that.

    LESLIE: Well, it might never have been shiny to begin with. And cleaning a matte-finish tile, it’s a different approach than cleaning a glossy-finish tile. Because you can use different things on one than on the other, because the matte is more porous. And you don’t want to put something on it that’s more aggressive in its cleaning style that you could use on something with a gloss finish.

    I think the issue with the unglazed tile is because the glaze isn’t on it, everything just sticks to it: the dirt sticks to it, the mold and mildew stick to it. So cleaning it, you can’t just pick up a commercial cleanser. It just might be too rough for the unglazed porcelain.

    So, generally, what we would recommend is using more natural ingredients. You can use vinegar and dish detergent and water. Simple mix of that. I would use about a cup of vinegar – a white vinegar; don’t use anything else – a teaspoon of the dish detergent and a gallon of warm water. And mix it around. It’s not going to hurt your hands, so you don’t have to worry about gloves. And then what you would do is you can scrub the dry tile – start with the dry tile with a stiff-bristle brush, not a metal bristle but a plastic-bristle brush, one meant for cleaning surfaces.


    LESLIE: And that will just sort of loosen up whatever dried adhesive, dirt, mildew, whatever is on there, whatever dirt has adhered to that surface. And then once you’ve sort of, I guess, loosened it up with that stiff-bristle brush, then take a wet rag. Dip a rag into that vinegar solution and then clean the tile with that. And you should see that the vinegar will start to dissolve whatever mold or salts or product, whatever is on there. And the dish detergent just helps to loosen that up.

    And just do it. Keep cleaning out your rag, going back into the solution. And then once you’re kind of satisfied with the cleanliness of it, then rinse everything with clear water. And now that should do the trick.

    Now, I don’t think you can put anything on it to give it a glazed surface, because that glaze is done in the baking process of the tiles.

    SHERRY: Oh. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. OK. Well, that sounds like a good plan, actually. I’ll give that a try. Thank you.

    LESLIE: You’re so welcome.

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

    SHERRY: Thank you. Bye.

    TOM: Well, electric water heaters are not an appliance that most folks choose. It’s pretty much what you’re stuck with if your home doesn’t have gas heat. And that’s because electric water heaters are really expensive to run and they can definitely drive up your home’s utility costs.

    LESLIE: Well, there’s good news for all those owners of electric water heaters: Rheem is out with a new product called the Rheem Hybrid Water Heater. And this water heater is the smartest, quietest and most efficient water heater on the market.

    Now, it features heat-pump technology, making it 282-percent more efficient than standard electric water heaters, which is a big relief for those costly electric bills.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s really going to cut those costs. And the Hybrid Water Heater has, actually, an estimated energy cost savings of up to about $4,700 over 10 years.

    And the way it works is the heat-pump technology uses air temperature to heat the water, which is really efficient. And that gives you up to about 475 bucks in energy-cost savings every year. And if you think about it, at that rate it can even pay for itself in two to three years. Plus, in a lot of places around the country, where utilities offer rebates, these products are eligible for hundreds of dollars in those rebates. So that drops the cost of the initial investment, as well.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, here’s another cool thing: besides being the most efficient, it’s also the smartest water heater out there. It even has a built-in leak-detection system and built-in Wi-Fi, so it can send alerts – like if something is leaking or something’s not working – right to your smartphone when you’re away.

    TOM: That is fantastic. The Rheem Hybrid Water Heater is available at The Home Depot and And you can also look up utility rebates in your area at And Rheem is spelled R-h-e-e-m – .com/HybridSavings.

    LESLIE: Kyle in Iowa needs some help installing some trim. Tell us what you’re working on.

    KYLE: We just put in some new Willamette wood floors a couple weeks ago and we decided to rip out all the old – the construction trim that comes with the newer homes and …

    TOM: Baseboard molding?

    KYLE: Yeah, the baseboard molding. And we’ve decided to upgrade to – I think it’s about a 5¼-inch tall, almost ½-inch-thick baseboard, to kind of upgrade the look around the house.

    And I’m just having a hard time. I’m using my buddy’s miter saw and it’s not tall enough to do a vertical cut for my outside corners. And every time I lay it horizontally and try to tilt the miter saw to cut it, there’s no real clamping mechanism on it to hold the boards in place. And every time I push the miter saw into it, it moves it just slight enough to where my angles for when I try to do a scarfing or an outside corner – it just kind of pushes my angles off on it just a little bit and it’s making the process harder.

    TOM: Well, let me ask you this: when you’re making your baseboard cuts for an inside corner, are you mitering it?

    KYLE: For the inside corner, I’m doing a cope.

    TOM: Oh, good. OK. That’s what I was concerned about.

    KYLE: And the coping turns out to be easier than the outside corners for me, so …

    TOM: Now, actually, when you do the outside corner, the only part of the miter that’s got to be perfect is the top edge of that board. As long as you have a straight line, if you end up taking up a little bit too much wood on the inside of that cut, nobody is ever going to see that. In fact, many times, when I’m doing that type of a corner, I’ll sometimes cope out the back of the miter cut, take a little bit extra meat out of that so that it kind of gets out of the way and I can pull it together really nicely, tightly at the corner. As long as I have a crisp line that pulls together on the corner, then I’m happy with that.

    I understand you’ve got challenges with your tools. I’m not going to be able to give you a solution, because you don’t have the right tools. What you really need is a compound miter saw that’s sort of half miter saw, half radial-arm saw. And that will give you the exact capabilities that you’re looking for. But to do this by hand with a regular hand-miter box is just going to be a challenge.

    KYLE: So, it’d be easier maybe to try to find someone to borrow a compound one from?

    TOM: I think so. Yep. Yeah, you’ll be very happy. Because it sounds like you’ve got the skills. If you know how to cope a joint, then you’ve got the skills.

    And for those that have no idea what we’re talking about, when you put up baseboard molding or any kind of molding or even crown molding in a house, you don’t cut a 45-degree angle much like you would for a picture frame. You actually put one piece in whole and square it to the wall and the other piece, you cut that 45 as if it was going to be a miter but you take a coping saw and cut out the back of all of that wood, except for that crisp line that’s on the front of the angle of the miter. When you push that together, you get what appears to be a perfect, mitered cut but it’s actually not; it’s actually a butt joint but it looks like a miter.

    And it’s the best way to work with trim because it allows you to work with a house that’s not quite straight, because none of them are. And the other trick is I like to cut those boards just a little bit longer than what you need, because then it puts additional pressure on the joint and brings it together nice and tightly.

    So I think you’re on the right road. You just need to get some better tools to help you get there, OK?

    KYLE: OK. Thank you, guys.

    TOM: Good luck, Kyle.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit.

    Has the beginning of this year found you overflowing with all the spoils of a lovely 2017? Well, if your closets are stuffed to the brim, fear not. We have some excellent organization tips to get you back in tip-top shape, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Podcast. What are you working on today? We’d love to help you get that project done. Give us a call, right now, 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.


    LESLIE: Jessica in Missouri is dealing with a floor that’s sinking in on itself. What is going on over there?

    JESSICA: Hi. I live in a 128-year-old house and my kitchen floor has settled, maybe, in the middle. If everything is not strapped to my walls, it will go towards the middle of my floor.

    TOM: Wow.

    JESSICA: Yeah. So I didn’t know if you guys had any thoughts about a repair on that, if you think maybe it’s like a joist underneath there or …

    TOM: Yeah, does it sit on a basement or a crawlspace, Jessica?

    JESSICA: No, it’s dirt.

    TOM: It’s dirt. So you can’t really get under it?

    JESSICA: I have a crawlspace that I can get underneath it but it’s in the opposite side of my house.

    TOM: OK. So, can you get down there and physically examine the beams to see what’s going on?

    JESSICA: Yes. But it would take the size of a small child to get underneath there.

    TOM: OK.

    JESSICA: So, there lies another problem – is how to see what’s going on, where the best place would be to go in at to try to get that …

    TOM: Listen, I had to do a plumbing repair project on my own home, in a crawlspace that was about 6 inches taller than me flat on my back. So I know how tough it is to work in spaces like that. You’ve got to kind of shimmy in to get there.

    But the thing is, I am concerned with this sagging, that somebody has a look at that – those beams – to make sure there’s nothing structural going on, like a termite infestation or something of that nature. If it’s just normal sagging, well, I mean there are some things that we can do from the top side to address that.

    One of which comes to mind is that you could use a floor-leveling compound on this old floor. To do so, you are really talking about the entire kitchen floor, including the cabinets. Because to do it just in the middle might not be enough. You really have to go wall to wall on this room. And because it’s a kitchen, it becomes very, very complicated to do that.

    But the first thing is to evaluate the structure to make sure that there’s nothing going on there. And then the second thing is to look for a solution above it. It’s generally not possible to raise up a floor that’s already sagged, especially in a really old house, because it took 120 years to get in that position and you’re just not going to bring it back up again. Sometimes you can reinforce it a little bit with some additional beaming and stiffen it up a bit. But generally, if you want to level it, you’ve got to do that from the top side and not from the underside in an old house, OK?

    JESSICA: OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate you guys’ time.

    TOM: You’re very welcome.

    LESLIE: Well, Tom and I both live in very old houses with very rich histories. And if you do, too, you might be interested to learn as much as you can about your home.

    TOM: That’s right. Finding out when your home was built, who lived within its walls and what changes were done over the years can be a bit challenging. But it can also be fascinating. With us to talk about that is a guy who’s uncovered the history of many old houses. He is the host of TV’s This Old House: Kevin O’Connor.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Great to be here, guys.

    TOM: So, Kevin, how do you get started? This is a real history project, isn’t it?

    KEVIN: It is. It can be a lot of fun, especially if you love old homes like I do. And I would say that the first step is to identify the era in which the structure was built. And you can do that with the help of architectural books. Most homeowners can figure out a core style by just examining the silhouette of the house that they live in and its layout, as well as the style of the windows and the doors and other features, all of which might be clues to tell you when your house was built.

    TOM: Now, there are also records available either in your local municipality or even at your county level that can give you some clues, as well.

    KEVIN: Yeah. Building permits is a great place to start. Sometime around the 1900s, we had to start pulling permits and so that becomes a permanent record in every town. But then there are also preservation officers, town historical societies that keep catalogues of this municipal information, old maps. Sometimes, local newspapers will have those.

    When I was doing the research on my old house, we were able to actually pull up old photographs from the historical society and they were taking pictures of the street. They had a picture from 1890; the home wasn’t there. They had another picture of 1894 and it was there.

    TOM: Well, there you go.

    KEVIN: So we were able to narrow it down to that four-year window.

    TOM: Good point. And that’s a real treat when you do have the pictures of the way the home used to look, because there’s been an awful lot of changes in the last 100 years. And let’s face it, nobody keeps track of that.

    KEVIN: No one keeps track of it. And those old pictures of your house always look so good. Whereas when you buy it, it looks so run-down.

    LESLIE: Aww. Now, Kevin, are these records fairly easy to get? Are they publicly accessible? Can you just walk in and ask or do you need permission?

    KEVIN: Well, it depends on where you’re getting them. The county records are all public records. Anything the town holds is public record. The historical societies, you’re going to have to ask for their permission but keep in mind, that’s what they’re there for.

    TOM: Now, another clue to how old the home is is to really look at what’s around the home. Look at the neighborhood; there’s a lot there that you can gain.

    In fact, I remember when you guys were doing the Brooklyn house, there were a lot of clues. You actually found parts of your – the house that you were doing in the project at other people’s houses.

    KEVIN: It was quite remarkable.

    TOM: They were like sharing some of the architectural details.

    KEVIN: Yeah. And so here’s the thing: it was early 1900s, late 1800s and a lot of these old, brick row houses were going up. And you wouldn’t think about it because they look so old and classic but it turned out it was just a subdivision.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: It was just a developer rolling up the street one block at a time, building 10 houses and moving on because they were building worker housing.

    TOM: And then when did development become a dirty word, you know? I mean we see beautiful, old neighborhoods and we see developments and developments are like, “Ugh. I don’t want to live in a development; I want a beautiful, old neighborhood.” But they were all developments.

    KEVIN: They were all developments.

    LESLIE: I think another great way, if you’re sort of stuck with determining the age of your home, are probably in the construction details. Because I imagine a lot of the way that houses were built are very significant to the time that they were actually built.

    KEVIN: Yeah, because the way our houses are built and the materials we use, they change over time. And so they can actually be really good indicators of when the home was built.

    For example, if you have knob-and-tube wiring in the house, well, that was used pretty much up until the 1920s, so that ought to be a good indication. Plumbing wasn’t always copper pipes; they used to make those pipes out of steel. And so those were used up until about the 1940s. But then you can look for other things like unlined chimneys. Is there any insulation in the walls? Are you using plaster and wood lath? All of those things can be really good indicators of when your home was built.

    TOM: Now, what about newspapers? Is it a good idea to check the history with newspapers? Clearly, there’s many, many years of newspapers contained in microfilm today.

    KEVIN: And there’s probably a lot of good stories from your town locally. There may even be a story about a bigger house in the neighborhood that was built, because it was a big event. And that might lead you to the date when your home was built, as well.

    TOM: This is a real fun detective project.

    KEVIN: Can be.

    TOM: Alright. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: My pleasure.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a lot of step-by-step videos on so many projects that you can tackle, visit

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Marvin Windows and Doors.

    Still to come, if your closets are overflowing but you’re overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning them, stay tuned for tips on closet organization that will help you bring this task down to a very manageable level.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, whether you’re buying, selling or just enjoying your home, we’re here for you every step of the way. Call in your improvement or décor question now at 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.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Trent in Florida on the line who’s dealing with a falling-apart popcorn ceiling. How can we help you?

    TRENT: Well, my popcorn ceiling is actually in my bathroom. I guess, on one night or something, my son had gotten it wet and when it dried, it started flaking off the ceiling. And now it’s just continuing to do it.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s funny because when you get a popcorn ceiling wet, that’s actually the way to remove it. You would spray it with some sort of garden sprayer and then scrape it off. So if you want it gone, he’s got you on the correct path.

    TOM: Now, is the time, right.

    But if you don’t want it gone, what I would do is this: I would take maybe a stiff-bristle brush and gently brush away – maybe like a dry paintbrush and just brush away all the loose stuff. And then you’re going to pick up some popcorn-ceiling patching material. There’s a number of different manufacturers of this. I know that Zinsser makes one, Homax makes one. It comes both in a trowel-on finish and also in a spray-on finish.

    LESLIE: It looks like cheese in a can when it comes out.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. It looks like Cheez Whiz. And you can spray that on and recreate the popcorn effect that way. And then, lastly, you’re probably going to have to paint that ceiling and paint the entire ceiling to blend it in.

    But you’ve got to get rid of the loose stuff, add the patching material and then repaint the ceiling and you’ll be good to go.

    TRENT: OK. Well, great. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: Now you’ve got options. You’re very welcome.

    LESLIE: Well, if your closet is looking a little messy, closet organization may be in order. But that’s one project that ranks right up there with probably dental work as something to look forward to. Am I right?

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.

    LESLIE: I have to tell you, my bathroom closet – you know, where the sheets are and all the toiletries – I don’t know what happens to it. It starts out so beautifully. I take a lot of time and I organize it. Maybe that lasts two months. Two months. And then it’s right back to the craziness that it was and then I have to start all over.

    But let me tell you, guys, having a completely organized space in your closet really isn’t that far off.

    TOM: Yeah. So, to begin, you need to have an idea of how you want to use the space and what you want to store in it. Is it going to be a storage area – a place that that you keep sort of everyday clothes – or is it going to be a spot to keep formal or off-season garments? Once you kind of lay out the rules, take everything out of the closet and then toss, donate or sell what you don’t want, what you don’t need or use on a regular basis. You’ve got to clear the deck.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And now is the time that you organize your closet and select the components that are going to hold your belongings, because now you really see what you’ve got to put back into that space and not just everything that you’ve taken out.

    Now, what you choose and how much you spend really is going to depend on your design priorities and the amount of closet space that you’ve got to work with. Remember, a really good closet system can be a positive selling point when it comes time to move.

    TOM: Absolutely. And once you’ve got that closet emptied out, take a look at all the closet-organization components that are now available at home improvement retailers. It’s amazing. There’s pretty much a rack or a shelf or a hook for everything.

    And I think once you have that, you’re going to use it, right? I mean when you have that hook on the wall, that shelf spot that you’ve created just for your shoes, your purses or your pants or whatever, take advantage of some of those products. Get that place cleaned out and then decked out and you will be good to go. And you’ll feel a lot better because your space is now nice and neat.

    LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania is on the line with a metal-roofing question. How can we help you today?

    JIM: My question is – metal roofs. What’s the advantage of the metal over the shingle or vice versa? The cost? I see a lot of my neighbors putting the metal on.

    TOM: So, metal roofs are probably the most durable roof available today. And so the main advantage is durability. The other thing that you can get with a metal roof is today, they’re coated with low-E coatings so they can actually reflect the sun in the summer and lower your cooling costs, as well.

    The downside of metal roofs is that they’re very expensive. They’re called “investment-grade roofs,” very frequently, for a good reason. Because it’s the kind of roof you put on when you really want to invest in the house and it’s the house that you’re going to be in for the long haul. If it’s a short-term house for you, I probably would not recommend a metal roof because I don’t think you’ll get the value out of it when you sell. Certainly, you’ll get some value out of it but I don’t think you’ll get the cost of it. But if you’re like, “Listen, this is the house I’m going to be in for the next 20 or 30 years, maybe longer. I want to really do something that’s going to stand up with literally no maintenance,” then maybe a metal roof is for you.

    Aesthetically, they’re beautiful. They come in all sorts of colors, all sorts of designs and they can really make your house stand out. But they are costly. Probably, I would say two to three times the cost of an asphalt-shingle roof.

    JIM: But they’ll last 30 years, you say, or more?

    TOM: They’ll last 50 years, they’ll last 75 years. They can last even longer than that.

    JIM: Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

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

    Hey, do your lights mysteriously flicker and then dim? Do you think maybe there’s a ghost in your house? Well, more likely there’s a problem with your electricity, which could be just as scary. We’ll tell you how to find the spooks in your wiring, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call with your how-to question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online, right now, to the Community page at

    We’ve got questions here from lots of folks that have been poking around on the site, including Robin in New Jersey who’s got an eight-year-old house with some crazy lighting, it looks like, huh?

    LESLIE: That’s right. Robin writes: “I live in an eight-year-old house that came with an upscale ceiling-fan light in the bedroom that operates by remote. It worked fine until a few days ago but now the light will come on by itself at odd times. The self-operating light scares and annoys me. Any ideas?”

    TOM: I wouldn’t do much more than possibly replace the bulb, just to make sure that the bulb is not failing. If there’s anything beyond that that’s wrong with this, I would replace the fixture. It’s just not worth it, because there could be a potential short circuit in this scenario that you described.

    But like I said, I would replace the bulb. Of if the bulb is the kind of thing that you could actually put in a different fixture – sometimes they’re kind of customized but if they can go to a different fixture, you can test it. And it goes on and off normally, I would get rid of the fan. I know it’s a nice, beautiful, fancy fan with a remote but frankly, eight years ago those were a lot more expensive than they are today. Today, they’re pretty inexpensive, even with the remotes. So I wouldn’t take a chance on it, Robin. I would tell you to replace it.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post here from Carol in Massachusetts who writes: “We recently moved into a new home and one of my first tasks was to install a dishwasher. My problem is the dishwasher has developed a foul odor. We have cleaned and sanitized the washer several times and it still smells. Did I mess something up during installation? Help me make my wife happy.”

    TOM: Oh, sounds like he’s in trouble.

    Listen, I will give you a pass on that. I don’t think it’s an installation issue. It’s not uncommon for the bacteria that forms in dishwashers – some dishwashers just don’t seem to drain well and don’t clean themselves of all those food particles as well as others. And when those food particles stay behind, they get into the arms and they get inside those arms that are sort of hollow and they have holes in them, so they spray the water up. And the bacteria sets in and it can just develop awful, awful odors.

    So, what I would tell you to do is to try to take the spray arms out, soak them in a bleach-and-water solution, for one, because that will kill the bacteria. You could try something really quick. Glisten has a product that’s a dishwasher cleaner. It’s like a small bottle and you open it up and stick it into your dishwasher rack and just basically run it through a cycle. And it does an OK job of cleaning the dishwasher out.

    But if you still have that odor, I would tell you it’s probably in the spray arms. Those food particles get in there and you’ve got to clean them really good, including inside the spray arms. And the best way to do that is to soak it in a solution of bleach and water.

    LESLIE: Hey, speaking of dishwashers, I’ve had a weird thing happen to my dishwasher. I bought it maybe two years ago. Bought it myself, a little gift. Wanted to have a nice, new dishwasher. Everything was installed perfectly, working fine. All of a sudden, the right side of the dishwasher has completely sprung free from the wall. And now every morning when I wake up and I run the dishwasher, the whole thing is angled, sticking out of its little spot.

    TOM: Oh, man. Wow.

    LESLIE: So, I don’t even see where a fastener has come undone. Every day, I open it and I shove that right side back in. What do I do?

    TOM: You know, there’s a – it’s interesting. Dishwashers don’t really have much of a fastening system. They have a little clip that usually goes from the top of the dishwasher, on each side, to the underside of the countertop. And depending on what kind of countertop you have, sometimes those screws will loosen up.

    LESLIE: Granite.

    TOM: It’s granite. OK. So I bet you however it’s attached there, either it wasn’t attached or the wood plug that was put in to take the screw has loosened up. So there’s going to be two clips you’re going to have to tighten up there or to replace.

    LESLIE: Alright. I’m going in.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Podcast. Hey, thanks for hanging out with us this past hour. Or more accurately, I think it’s about 38 minutes because we kill all the commercials, just for you guys, on the podcast.

    Hey, remember, if you’ve got questions, we would love to hear from you. All you’ve got to do is post your questions to The Money Pit’s Community page at Or you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll call you back the next time we produce the podcast.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.

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