Easy End of Summer Projects

  • 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: What are you working on this beautiful Labor Day weekend? If you’re going to actually put some labor into something, it might be your house and you can pick up the phone and call us. And we will help you make that project a lot easier to get done, with tips and advice to do it right the first time. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, as summer rolls to a close, now is the perfect time to take on a few easy projects that’ll help you avoid bigger and colder headaches as the weather changes. We’re going to share some projects that deliver the best bang for your buck, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, are your concrete steps, walkways, patios, even your drive just looking beat up? Well, we’re going to share a tip on a new product designed for DIYers, that can completely restore those surfaces for a fraction of the cost of replacement. And it’ll have them ready for winter’s wrath.

    TOM: And if you’ve got kids that are off to college or permanently flown the coop and left behind some unused space, we’ve got some creative ideas for putting all that extra square footage to good use.

    LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you want to know. Give us a call. Let us know what you are working on. Hopefully you’re only working at the grill this Labor Day weekend. But whatever it is, we are here for you. I won’t judge if you’re working on something. I, myself, plan to be relaxing as soon as I put up these headphones. So give us a call and let us know how we can help.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now.

    Let’s get to it. Leslie, the phones are lighting up, so I guess there are some folks out there that are working. Who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Heather in California on the line with a question here at The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    HEATHER: I just bought a house with my husband – our first house – and it was built in 1937. It is on a perimeter foundation. And the previous owners, actually, had some of the downspouts that were pointing at the foundation instead of away from the foundation. So, the concrete is basically destroyed on the foundation. There’s also some issues with soil settlement since the house was built. So, the floors aren’t completely level, either.

    So we’ve had some people come out and give us quotes in terms of a full foundation replacement on the house. And it’s looking like it will be upwards of $150,000 to do this.

    TOM: Let me stop you right there. The people that have come out to give you quotes on a new foundation, have you had any independent structural advice that wasn’t associated with a contractor? So, for example, have you had the foundation evaluated by a structural engineer?

    HEATHER: Only a structural engineer that worked for the general contractor that came out.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a direct conflict of interest. And of course, they’re going to tell you you’ve got a bad foundation and their guy is just the guy to fix it for you.


    TOM: So, first thing you need, especially with a repair of this size, is you need independent expert advice. That means a civil engineer or a structural engineer or an architect that can examine that foundation. Because I’ve got to say that I have almost never seen a house that needed a complete new foundation, even one that was built in the 30s.

    You say it’s destroyed because of the water. Define that. I mean the fact that the floors are out of level – look, my house was built in 1886. It’s got lots of floors that are out of level but it doesn’t mean I need a new foundation.

    HEATHER: Yeah.

    TOM: Well, why do you say it’s destroyed?

    HEATHER: Everyone that went under there said the concrete has vertical cracks in it and also is crumbling. So, even one of the inspectors took a video for us and he just touched the concrete and then it just came off in his hand.

    TOM: Well, that would be spalling. That’s not necessarily concrete that’s coming off that.

    HEATHER: Yeah, they did use that word: spalling.

    TOM: So, spalling could be concrete or it could be mineral salts, especially since you have a water problem there. Sometimes people think their foundation is deteriorating and it’s just mineral-salt deposits that fall right off the surface.

    Mineral-salt deposits are what’s left behind when the water that gets into it from the ground and from the rain evaporates and leaves behind its salt. So, it looks very much like concrete – it can be dark gray and crumbly – but that’s not concrete. So, I’m not convinced by what you’re telling me that you need a new foundation.

    Certainly, you may need some repairs. If it’s all cracked, you may need to re-skin the outside, re-stucco it. There’s a product that QUIKRETE makes called Re-Cap that would work on a concrete surface like that. You clearly need to get the downspouts, if you’ve not already done so, away from that foundation to prevent any further deterioration.

    But I would not tell you to spend $150,000 on any of these guys until you have independent, verified expert advice. Because that’s the only way you’re going to know if you really have a problem that needs to be repaired. I would definitely not take the advice of the contractor. It’s a huge conflict of interest.


    TOM: And you’re very likely to be scared into doing something that you don’t need to do.

    HEATHER: Yeah, it is – it feels very scary, I think, especially since it’s our first house.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    HEATHER: I feel like we don’t want to live in a house that has a bad foundation in California, where there are earthquakes.

    TOM: You know, the other thing that you could do is if you can’t identify a structural engineer easily enough, you could do something in the interim which is just to hire an independent professional home inspector to evaluate that for you. You want to find somebody who’s a member of the …

    HEATHER: We did. I did do that. So, I did that yesterday, actually.

    TOM: So what did the home inspector say? What did the home inspector say?

    HEATHER: He said the foundation was in really bad shape and we should have a foundation specialist come out.

    TOM: OK. Well, then you need to have a structural engineer look at it. That’s for sure.


    TOM: Alright? That’s your next step.

    HEATHER: OK. Yeah.

    TOM: It’s worth every dime. Because the structural engineer would not only look at the foundation but you would want him or her to actually design and plan the repair for you. And then after – then once you have those documents – the drawing of the repair, the specifications – that’s the document that you give to these contractors. You don’t let them figure out how they’re going to replace it. You say, “You’re going to replace it to these specifications.”

    And then, the last step is after the work’s done, you make sure that the structural engineer comes back and approves the work. So this way, you have sort of a pedigree, from start to finish, that you identified a problem, you got it fixed and you had an engineer involved the whole way. If I was to come to you five years from now and want to buy your house, I would ask questions about that brand-new foundation on that very old house. And you would whip out this report and show me that it was all done under the guidance of a licensed structural engineer. And I’d feel pretty darn good about that.

    HEATHER: OK. That makes a lot of sense.

    TOM: Follow me? OK. Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Sorry to hear that you had a house that’s got some problems there. But hopefully, we were able to get you on the road to recovery.

    HEATHER: Yeah. No, thank you very much. This is really, really helpful. I guess the only other thing that I would ask is: have you seen things like this before? And what could the possible complications be if it does need to have significant work done?

    TOM: Well, replacing a foundation is no easy task, because you have to support the house while you do that. But there’s a number of different ways that a house can be supported. It’s done all the time, especially when houses are moved.

    One of the most common ways is called “needle-beaming,” where they basically insert steel beams under several parts of the house. And then those beams are jacked up to essentially lift the house off the foundation or in your case, just to sort of take the pressure off it. These beams would be much wider than the house is, so the house would be suspended while one section of wall at a time was dug out and replaced.

    But again, let’s not go there until we find out that that’s really necessary.

    HEATHER: OK. OK. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate the time. This is really helpful and gives me some followed direction to go with.

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

    LESLIE: Doug, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    DOUG: I’m considering getting one of these water sensors to go on the water pipe, to sense if there’s any water running when there shouldn’t be any water running. And I’m wondering if that’s something that’s worth the investment.

    TOM: Yeah, actually, those sensors work quite well, because they – some of the smarter ones will actually measure your pattern. And if something outside of the pattern happens, they’ll alert you. Usually, they’re hooked up to Wi-Fi and they a have notification system so you can get alerts on your smartphone.

    If you’re just concerned about leaks, there’s another type of leak detector that’s out. It’s made by a company called SimpleSENCE – S-E-N-C-E. It’s a Wi-Fi-enabled detector that will detect water leaks and also freezing if your heat was to go off. And that also has an app that goes along with it.

    And again, it’ll alert you if you get a leak, say, in your basement, for example, or if you get a frozen – a freeze down there. It will alert you that you’ve got a problem so you could deal with it, hopefully, before it gets much worse.

    DOUG: Oh, OK. Yeah. So, generally, I guess I should do a little research and see exactly what my need would be and go from there. But basically, I guess it’s worth it then to do the investment.

    TOM: I do think it’s worth it. The leak-detection technology – there’s a company called StreamLabs that makes those. And those are very cool. They just clamp over the pipe, so you don’t even have a plumbing connection to make. And again, they’re going to tell you, via an alert, if you’re having a problem with a leak before it becomes a big, stinking mess that you’ve got to clean up.

    DOUG: Yes. I am familiar with that name. I did basic research and I’ve seen that name. So they are pretty efficient then.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    DOUG: OK. Listen, I appreciate that.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    DOUG: Great. Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    Well, home emergencies are enough of a hassle when the weather is warm. But when it gets cold, they can be much, much worse. We’re going to share the steps to take now to avoid home headaches when the chilly weather finally arrives. And it’s coming.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pat in Michigan, tell us what’s going on with the leak.

    PAT: Yes. We had some shingles that blew up and the water got underneath and it leaked and then onto my ceiling. And we had high winds with – like we call “side,” you know.

    And so I’ve had the roof repaired but I still have some leak – water stains on my ceiling. And I’m trying to figure out how to cover them up without having to paint all of the ceiling. And my ceilings have never been painted; it’s just raw drywall but it’s been textured.

    TOM: Now, since this was storm damage, did you think to call your homeowners insurance company?

    PAT: No. Because it’s – there’s only three little – like one is a dime size, one is a quarter size and the other one’s a dollar-bill size.

    TOM: Well, just for future reference, whenever you have shingles that blow off and leaks occur, that is why you pay for homeowners insurance. So, small or big, that’s the kind of thing that’s covered.

    If it was a worn-out roof, that’s one thing. But if you have storm damage where shingles blow off and water gets in, then you could have had that whole ceiling repainted at the expense of your insurance company.

    But OK, we’re past that now. So the question is: how do you deal with those stains? Whenever you have a water stain on a ceiling, you have to prime that spot. Since they’re small spots like that, you can spot-prime it, which basically means just to prime over those little spots themselves. And then you’ll paint over that.

    You’ll have to – if you don’t have some of the original paint, you’re going to have to pick up something that matches.

    PAT: There is no paint. This is just drywall – textured drywall – and they did not paint the drywall.

    TOM: They never painted the drywall?

    PAT: No. Ceilings here are not painted unless you ask for it.

    TOM: OK. Well, all I can tell you is if you want to get rid of the stain, you have to prime it. You have to prime on top of it. If you don’t prime on top of it, anything that you put over that is going to leak right through. So it might be time to think about painting the ceiling, Pat.

    PAT: Oh, boy. OK. Well, thank you very much. I certainly do appreciate your time.

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

    Well, temperatures are nice now but in a few months, you’re going to want nothing less than to have to bundle up to go outside and deal with a home improvement problem in the dead of winter.

    So, to help you avoid that situation, we’ve got a few easy fix-ups you can take on now that can potentially save you some major repair hassles later. And I think we should start with – by talking about leaks.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s a good one. Now, leaks or water emergencies, for that matter, can be pretty serious. So if you have something like a pipe that gets frozen and then breaks, that’s very common when it’s cold out.

    So now is the time to locate and label important water valves. And I’m talking about the water-main valve, the water-heater valve, hose valves, ice makers, all of that. Now, knowing where these valves are and what they do can spare you major damage and hassle if cold weather strikes.

    TOM: Next, you want to make sure your roof is truly leak-free. After the next big fall rainstorm, you want to grab a flashlight, head up into the attic and inspect some of those areas, especially around chimneys and plumbing vents, where those pipes meet the roof. Then grab some binoculars and inspect the same spots on top, scanning also for missing shingles or loose flashing that need to be replaced. Just a really careful review after a heavy rain is really smart to do, right now, before that water leaks through to a ceiling.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Also think about fixing loose handrails. I mean that can avoid an emergency this winter. You want to make sure that all of the handrails, inside and outside, are secure. Repair any loose railings, posts, spindles. These things need to be extra sturdy, especially when conditions are icy.

    TOM: And finally, think about caulking your chimney crown. Now, that’s the part that’s on top of the chimney. It’s between the brick edge and the clay liner. If you can’t do it yourself, hire a pro. But that’s a place that very frequently will crack. And when it cracks, the water gets inside the chimney. It can cause the chimney to further deteriorate or it could cause a leak inside your house. So that’s an important thing to seal and almost always needs some maintenance.

    So, take on one or two of those projects, right now, and you will avoid a major repair hassle when it gets cold out.

    LESLIE: John in Washington is on the line and has a question about painting siding. Tell us about it.

    JOHN: I recently had a real-estate agent come by to talk about selling my house. And they pointed out that I had a siding called LP siding – Louisiana-Pacific siding – self-sealing, supposedly, from the 1990s. And they – it was like a big, red flag, I guess, that people didn’t put any moisture barrier behind it and it was supposed to be self-sealing when it overlapped. And I was wondering if you guys have heard about it. There’s a big recall on it.

    TOM: Yeah. The LP siding was famous for its deterioration. It’s a composite type of a siding product and I think it was OK if it was installed perfectly. But the problem is that if you over-nail it and pierce the outside surface, it swells up and it starts to let the water in and it will start to deteriorate. And it does need paint.

    I used to joke years ago, when this was going on, that it was OK as long as you painted it every day before you go to work.

    LESLIE: That’s a lot of work.

    JOHN: Don’t tell me that.

    TOM: Because it does really swell. And so, I think your realtor is correct. It’s going to be a red flag. You’re going to be dealing with this in the transaction.

    What I would tell you to do, John, is before you put your home on the market, I would get a professional home inspection done, as a seller, so that you can find out how the house is going to show in the eyes of a buyer’s home inspector, who will ultimately come in once you have a contract on the place. Because the Louisiana-Pacific issue should be investigated and it should be disclosed. And by disclosing it, you’re not going to have to dance around with any reactions from the buyers now not wanting to buy your place or wanting a big credit as a result.

    Get to the bottom of it, get to the facts and get it from a professional. And this way, when buyers are looking at it, you can start the conversation with: “Yes, I know we have LP siding. There’s been concerns about it. It has not leaked. We don’t intend to replace it and I just want to make it clear, right now, before you have an inspector come in and tell you that it needs to be replaced. We’ve been following it. Here’s the information on it and I’m kind of putting that on the table.”

    So by identifying it early on, you’re not going to have to negotiate later. Because what ends up happening in situations like this is you go down as low as you can in the price, buyer is paying as much as they can on the price and then you find a major problem, the whole deal falls apart. So I’m trying to protect you from that happening.

    JOHN: That’s good advice. Now, do I go ahead – and should I paint it or – I mean it needs to be painted, right?

    TOM: Sure.

    JOHN: Yeah, OK.

    TOM: If it’s not structurally deteriorated – that’s why I say get a home inspector on it to take a look at it first and find out about not only the siding – but look, you’re going to pay one price for the inspector to come out.

    JOHN: Yeah.

    TOM: Let him do the whole house and find out what’s going on.

    JOHN: Yeah, OK.

    TOM: And this way, you can either disclose it or repair it at your option, at your leisure, instead of while a buyer is kind of looking over your shoulder at everything you do. You know what I mean?

    JOHN: I see. OK, OK. Yeah, that’s good advice. I hadn’t thought about that. I was in a hurry to get a painter in but maybe I should …

    TOM: Hmm. Slow down. Slow down a little bit.

    JOHN: OK. OK.

    TOM: Yeah, get the advice. It won’t take you long to schedule a home inspection. Then you’ll have a better idea what you’re doing.

    Go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. It’s HomeInspector.org. And you could find an ASHI-certified home inspector there. That will be your best place to start.

    JOHN: Is that pretty expensive?

    TOM: Probably $300 or $400. Well worth it.

    JOHN: Oh, that’s not bad. OK.

    TOM: Yep.

    JOHN: Yeah. Yeah, good. Thank you. That’s a good idea. I’m really – I’m glad I called. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Remember, you can reach us with your home repair or your home improvement question, 24 hours a day, right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Just ahead, are your concrete steps, walks, patios, even your driveway looking beat up? Well, we’re going to share a tip on a new product that’s designed for DIYers, that can completely restore those surfaces for a fraction of the cost of replacement and have them ready for winter’s wrath, after this.

    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, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Never worry about overpaying for a job. Just use HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. It’s all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    DARLENE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve got a concrete walkway or a driveway or a patio and it’s looking a bit worn, it used to be you had to put up with it until you had the time and budget to tear out all that concrete and start again.

    But now, there’s actually an easier solution. There’s a new product from QUIKRETE that will take care of that once and for all and it’s called Re-Cap.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, Re-Cap lets you recap and restore your concrete surfaces with a completely new surface at a fraction of the cost of replacing it. Now, that new finish, it’s beautiful. It’s going to last for years without separating from your old concrete surface below. It’s really easy to use, guys. You know, you can do this project yourself. All you need to do is wash the surface with a pressure washer and then apply it by squeegee, trowel, brush – whatever you’re comfortable with – and that’s it.

    TOM: Yeah. And the QUIKRETE Re-Cap really gives you a durable, new look that’s going to really stand up for years. I used it on some concrete curbing around our patio. It was all kind of cracked and deteriorated. And I tell you, it really came out great.

    You can watch the video for Re-Cap at QUIKRETE.com. That’s Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.

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

    RICHARD: Yes, hello. I have a large vent on my roof. It’s about 8 feet long, maybe longer – I can’t really tell – and about 1 foot wide. And during a hurricane, the water must have come in, because I had my roof checked and the roof seemed to be in good condition. So I’m figuring the water came in through that vent. And my neighbor said to put the pool doodle – these long doodles that float in the pool – into the vents to stop the water from coming in.

    TOM: Noodles, not doodles. I know what you mean.

    RICHARD: Noodles? I don’t know what they call them, because I don’t have a pool.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RICHARD: I don’t know what they use them for.

    TOM: Yeah. They’re things that people float on. But OK.

    So this is a ridge vent? It goes down the peak of the roof?

    RICHARD: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah. There’s a type of ridge vent called a “filter vent.” And it’s made by Air Vent Corporation. And the way a filter vent works is it has sort of a mesh inside of it that collects the water and then routes it to a drain channel when water blows in at a hard angle like that.

    Because this happened during a hurricane, I would expect it’s covered by insurance – your homeowners insurance.

    RICHARD: Well, it just stained the ceiling. They made a couple of watermarks on the ceiling. Not that bad but I mean we’ve got a lot of hurricanes down here, so …

    TOM: Well, it may be that you don’t have the right type of vent for an area that gets a lot of wind-driven rain. The product is called Air Vent. And you can learn more at AirVent.com. It’s actually a CertainTeed product but you’ll see that one of the options there is for a filter vent. And you can learn more about how that works.

    But I think that’s going to solve your problem. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Michelle in Minnesota is on the line with a bathroom-floor “thing” is all I can call it. What is going on? You’re getting moisture coming up through the floor?

    MICHELLE: Yes. It’s a laminate floor. This is my third summer in this house and it’s the first time that I’ve had this issue. And it was – it started around the warm and humid days. At first, I thought maybe that it was my toilet leaking, because I had a new toilet put in last summer. But the plumber did come out and pull the toilet and it didn’t look like it was leaking or that the seal was broken on it. So we’re thinking that it’s condensation from the concrete slab coming up between the slats of the laminate flooring.

    TOM: So the laminate flooring is on top of a concrete slab?

    MICHELLE: Correct, yep.

    TOM: What’s this looking – what’s this doing to the floor? Is it causing it to deform in any way? Or is it just showing up as a stain?

    MICHELLE: It is not buckling or anything along the edges. He thinks that maybe it’s a rubber flooring – more of a rubber-based flooring – rather than a wood. And so it has not curled edges or anything like that. It just seeps up as moisture and it comes – like beads up right along the edges of the laminate.

    TOM: Do you have air conditioning in this bathroom?

    MICHELLE: I do not. Uh-uh. Nope.

    TOM: Yeah, I was thinking cooler, moist air against a warmer floor could cause additional condensation.

    So look, if you want to reduce the moisture that’s coming up through the bathroom, there’s a couple of things I can suggest. First of all, you want to take a look at the grading and the drainage conditions outside that bathroom. Because the slab, if it’s getting very wet, is extremely hydroscopic. So all the moisture in the earth will be drawn into the slab and that’s going to wick up and show up in your bathroom, apparently.

    So, take a look at your gutters and downspouts. Make sure they’re clean and free-flowing and the spouts are extending 4 to 6 feet from the house. Get all that roof water away and then take a look at the angle of the soil and make sure that that’s sloping away.

    Now, do you have a fan in this bathroom?

    MICHELLE: Yes.

    TOM: That is helpful. You might want to think about replacing the fan with one that has a built-in humidistat, because that’s convenient in a couple of fronts. First of all, when you take a shower and you leave the bathroom and turn the switch off, it’ll actually stay on until all the moisture’s properly vented out of there. And if it does get humid on its own, then the humidistat will kick the fan on and also dry it out. They’re not terribly expensive; I know Broan makes a good one. There are a number of manufacturers you can find this from.

    And keep an eye on the floor. Some laminate floors stand up very well to moisture. I’ve seen laminate floors that can be submerged and they don’t seem to be affected by it. But others will buckle just like hardwood would. So just keep an eye on it. And if it ends up that it does have to be replaced, I would paint that cement slab underneath with a couple of coats of epoxy paint to kind of seal in and stop the moisture from evaporating through and into the room.

    MICHELLE: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: But only if you get that far. I wouldn’t tell you to tear up the floor now. But if you have to replace it, just make sure you seal the slab at the same time.

    MICHELLE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, OK. Thank you. That’s good, thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Give us a call anytime with your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Still to come, if your kids have flown the coop and you’re feeling a little bit blue about your empty nest, we’ve got ideas to turn that empty space into a place that you really can enjoy, when The Money Pit continues.

    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: Give us a call this Labor Day weekend. We’ll save you some labor on your home improvement projects. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

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

    LINDA: Well, I had an old garage torn down, so I had a prior cement pad. And I had a steel building put up. I have gaps now from – the steel building is not – the metal is more like a corrugated – it’s got a little ripple in it? And where it meets the floor and they put a 2×4 base around the inside to screw the metal to it, well, I’m getting chipmunks in there and everything like that in between. What can I use to seal it but still keep it so when the cold weather comes, it expands like it needs to?

    TOM: You must be having some pretty big gaps there if the chipmunks are getting into that.

    LINDA: Yeah.

    TOM: How much space are we talking about?

    LINDA: Some spots it’s not very big at all. But some it’s like maybe 2 or 3 inches high.

    TOM: Oh, wow.

    LINDA: Because the cement pad was not really leveled or throughout the years, too, it could have sunk down in certain areas. I don’t know whether to put another board …

    TOM: Yeah. So, listen, if you’ve got 2 or 3 inches of gaps, you’re going to have to add some additional sort of siding-type materials to cover that gap. You could actually use additional galvanized metal and form it to fit in that space.

    If you have smaller gaps, those could be filled with, say, spray-foam insulation or you could use steel wool. Sometimes, when we’re trying to plug up little gaps, especially when it comes to rodent prevention, I’ll have folks put steel wool in there that they are not apt to chew through. But you can’t have a gap that big and not expect those types of animals to get by.

    LINDA: Awesome. I’ll try that.

    TOM: Well, whether it’s the day you’ve been dreaming of or the one you’ve always dreaded, fall brings lots of empty nests for adults sending kids off to college, jobs or even those that take them to faraway places.

    LESLIE: Or maybe you’re on the opposite end of that timeline. Maybe you’re still growing into your big, new family home. Either way, you’ve got unused space in your house that you’d like to take better advantage of.

    TOM: Now, let’s talk about some of those common spaces and what you might do with it.

    First off, unused bedrooms. They make great home offices, craft rooms or even home gyms. If you add a bed or a pull-out sofa in that same space for overnight guests, you can kind of have the best of both words. And if the kids do return home, you can convert those rooms back to bedrooms very, very easily.

    LESLIE: But if your children have left the nest for good, you can go ahead and get creative.

    Now, a home spa is not only going to add luxury but like all your bathroom upgrades, it’s going to deliver a great return on investment. Now, you can mimic your favorite hotels, spa, bathroom, whatever you like with soothing colors, great linens, even fancy towels. Always think about unique lighting fixtures, because you’ve got to set the mood with the right dim lighting. You want the softest of luxurious materials in there. You want some great finishes. I love to mix metals but I’m really enjoying a brass in bathrooms these days.

    So just have some fun with it but totally up the luxury game. Even add an orchid or some greenery. It’ll be great.

    TOM: Great ideas.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call right now. We’re here to help you with your projects at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Natalie in Wisconsin is on the line and is having some issues with old windows. Tell us about the problem.

    NATALIE: Hi. I have vinyl windows, which served us very well. But now that they’re older and I want to raise them up, oh, 5 or 6 inches, they won’t stay there. So I have to brace them up or else they’ll fall down and they are quite heavy. Do you have any recommendations?

    TOM: So, the window jambs have springs in them and the springs have obviously broken down. And the problem with vinyl windows is, unless it’s a name brand where you can easily find parts, is that it’s really almost impossible to get those fixed.


    TOM: And so I’m not going to have a really good solution for you here, Natalie. If it was an old wood window, we could talk about ways to deal with that. But because it’s a vinyl window, it’s already an upgraded window. And if the internal parts are breaking down, it’s difficult to find repair parts for that.

    NATALIE: OK. Yes, I have been trying and I didn’t have any luck so far.

    TOM: Well, I would search online for the manufacturer and see if there are repair parts available. But short of that, it might be time to start thinking about new windows.

    NATALIE: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Give us a call anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with your home repair or your home improvement question right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, another half-used paint can in your garage is the last thing you need, right? Instead, why not put all that leftover paint to good use? We’re going to have money-saving ideas for using every last drop, when The Money Pit continues.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question, your DIY dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And don’t forget, you can post your question right here at MoneyPit.com, just like Molly did.

    Now, Molly writes: “Just last week, the central air-conditioning fan inside my home started making a constant, loud noise. What could be causing it? Is the fan hitting something?”

    TOM: Well, there could be a number of reasons for a noisy forced-air system. When the fan’s bearings, first off, begin to wear out, it’s generally characterized by a lot of vibration and quite a bit of racket. Because whatever happened to that fan, it tends to echo throughout the whole duct system, so it actually sounds a lot worse than it is.

    There’s also a possibility that that fan can be caked with dirt or dust, which forces it out of balance. And again, that results in vibration which transmits into noise and makes quite a loud sound throughout that entire house. And finally, there’s also a chance it could be rubbing against something inside the compartment that got loose.

    The bottom line is to get to the bottom of the problem, you really need to have that system evaluated by an HVAC technician. It’s kind of beyond the DIY level, so it’s important to have your pro look at it. And they’re going to look at all those things. And frankly, right now, if you’ve not had the system serviced, I would get it done all at the same time. We’re moving into the chillier weather, so it’s the right time to make sure the system is properly serviced so it operates smoothly and quietly but most importantly, safely. Because you want to make sure that it’s working correctly before you turn that gas on for the winter ahead.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Molly? While the technician is there, ask them if you can purchase whatever filters your system uses. One, more or whatever you’ve got, get a box of them. This way, you always have the correct ones and you can actually change them when you’re supposed to.

    TOM: Well, if there’s one thing that most home design projects have in common, it’s leftover paint. Well, don’t throw it out or stash it in your garage just yet. You can put all that leftover paint to good use. Leslie has some ideas, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, leftover paint can feel like a headache when every other aspect of a project is done. But with a little imagination and some creative flair, you can use paint leftovers to give your home extra appeal and have lots of fun in the process.

    First of all, maybe you’re looking for the perfect accessory for your freshly painted room. Adding a little of that leftover wall paint to canisters, vases, planters, flower pots, sort of those small accessories can really pull the room together. You can paint them one solid color or you can embellish them with patterns for an added punch. But that’s a great way to carry out that color tone, throughout the space, in smaller doses.

    Or maybe you want to tie that freshly painted room to the rest of the house. Go ahead and use that leftover paint. Maybe update baseboard trim, even a door in another room. Or you can breathe new life into a worn-out, old dresser, rocking chair, stool. Whatever it is that’s not quite looking its best you can add a great coat of paint to and it’ll feel fresh and brand new.

    You can also even pick up an inexpensive canvas from an art-supply store and create your own artwork using your home’s design palette. It’s a great way to carry that color palette throughout the space. And I always like to tie it together that way, by bringing in that color all throughout.

    And everybody these days is loving to paint the interior of bookshelves. It’s a great trend. I think it’s going to stick around, because it sort of helps clear up those blanks spaces when the décor, the accessories, whatever you’re putting on those bookshelves have some open spaces rather than just seeing a white back or a simple piece of wood. Whatever the material is, you get to see a little bit of a pop of color. And you can even add a topcoat to it to give it a glossy finish just to jazz up that color a little bit.

    Either way, some great trends to carrying color throughout the space, all with the paint that’s already under your sink, in your garage, wherever you keep it. I know you’ve got it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, smart houses are big on convenience but they can require a big budget unless you take the DIY approach. We’ll have tips for making your home a smart home without the big up-front cost, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (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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