Energy Efficient Attic Makeovers – #0904172

  • Finished Attic
  • 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: What are you working on on this beautiful, almost-fall weekend? If it’s your house, you are in exactly the right place, because we are here to help you with those do-it-yourself projects or the projects you want to hire out and have a pro help you with. Whether it’s home improvement or décor, give us a call, right now, and let’s talk, 888-666-3974. Or post your question online at

    Coming up on today’s show, an attic is one of the great untapped bonus spaces in any home, which is why finishing it is a project that can deliver real value. But when you’re taking on this job, what do you do with the piles of insulation that’s there now? We’re going to have a tip on how to insulate that space using a product that takes a lot less space and does a much better job of making you comfortable.

    LESLIE: Plus, now that fall is almost here, it’s a great time to really take a look at your steps and sidewalks. We’re going to have tips to help repair those that are cracked or broken. Really, you do want to take care of this before winter sets in.

    TOM: And it used to be that unless hardwood was installed when a home was built, it was darn near impossible to add it after the fact. But today, prefinished-hardwood floors have made that a very doable project that offers real value to a home. So we’re going to have the how-to on that project, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, we’ve also got a great reason for you to call us or write in with your question. We’re giving away a $50 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Speed Queen Washers and Dryers.

    TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random from those who have posted a question to us anytime this week to The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT. So give us a call or post your question. We are here to help.

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

    JOHN: My house was built in 1957. And the architect designed it with concealed gutters. And originally, the gutters were made of galvanized and they were covered with neoprene. And that lasted for many, many years but now, I have had some leaks. And I had a proposal to put on a product called GacoRoof – G-a-c-o-Roof – and to paint that on there. It’s not – it’s kind of a – looks like a rubbery stuff but it’s actually silicone. So, do you know anything about that product and you think that would work?

    TOM: Yeah. I mean it’s basically a flexible silicone roof-coating system. It’s been around for a long time.

    Now, when you have that built-in gutter, there’s usually two ways to deal with that. I actually had built-in gutters on my old house. And in our case, we decided that we would abandon those built-in gutters by basically roofing over them. You have to add another piece of plywood, basically, to extend the sheathing. So you take the pitch of the roof, you add an additional plywood piece that covers that old built-in gutter and then you just use a traditional seamless gutter on the outside. So you can basically abandon those gutters.

    Or if you want to keep them, yeah, you’ve got to reline them. So, what are your options for relining them? Well, you can reline them with a rubber roofing material. Or if they’re structurally sound – because this Gaco material has got to have something to stick to or to be applied to – you could consider using this roof-coating system. I would just be careful that the gutters are structurally sound, because I wouldn’t want holes to form in the silicone coating once it dries because maybe there’s a hole in the bottom of the structure.

    I’m very familiar with this as a roof coating for low-sloped roofs, in particular. I’ve not seen it used to line gutters but I don’t have any reason to believe that it won’t work. If the roofing company is very well-established, if they’ve had experience with the product and if they’re going to stand behind their work and guarantee it, I think I might be willing to give it a shot. Because I know the product will work well in other roofing applications.

    JOHN: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Carol in Texas is on the line with a crack in a ceiling. Tell us about it. Where do you see it?

    CAROL: I have a crack in the ceiling – a hairline crack – but you can see it. And it’s right in front of the front door.

    TOM: OK.

    CAROL: I want to fix it because we hope to put this property up for sale next year. And I don’t want to fix it and it keeps opening up and I have to keep fixing it.

    TOM: Well, that’s because – first of all, that’s a space that’s going to have a lot of expansion and contraction. And secondly, you can’t just patch that because you’re not really fixing the crack; you’re just covering it up. And it’s going to continue to open and close.

    So what you have to do is you have to sand it. Then you have to apply a perforated tape to that. The drywall tape, it’s about 2 inches wide and it’s tacky. So you put that across the crack and then you put about three coats of spackle over that. And that kind of reinforces that crack and sort of brings that board – both sides of it – into one solid piece so that it’s not going to move when it opens and closes.

    So do it in that order: sand it first so it’s nice and clean and dry, put the tape on it and then three coats of spackle. And then you’re going to have to prime it and paint it again. But that’s the way to fix it once and not have to worry about it occurring over and over again.

    CAROL: Tell me the name of the paint – the tape – again.

    TOM: Well, it’s perforated. It looks like netting. But you’ll find it in a home center or hardware store sold with the spackle and the other wall-repair tools. You’ll recognize this. It’s usually yellow.

    CAROL: And just put that over it and then put the spackle on top of it. But be sure and sand it first.

    TOM: You’ve got it.

    CAROL: Well, thank you so much. I hope for the best.

    TOM: Alright. Well, I think you’re well on your way to a crack-free ceiling.

    CAROL: Thank you, sir. I appreciate your time.

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

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    You know, my mom always told me, “If you’re cold, wear a hat.” But if it’s cold in your house, you’d better put that hat on it, with more insulation in your attic. We’re going to have tips on the best way to do just that, after this.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You’ll get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online, for free.

    And if you call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’ve got a great reason for you to do just that. We’re giving away a $50 Amazon gift card sponsored by Speed Queen. They make washers and dryers that are built to last 25 years. They have the industry’s best warranty. There’s over 100 years of commercial reliability and they’re available at 2,800 dealers nationwide.

    Their website is We appreciate that Speed Queen hooked us up with some Amazon gift cards to give away. Hey, you can even use them to pick up some laundry detergent for your machines. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call right now. One listener is going to win that $50 card.

    LESLIE: Cheryl is on the line with a decking question. How can we help you today?

    CHERYL: I’m going to have a deck built at the back of my home. And I have a concrete pad outside the door. And when I asked someone to come and look at it and give me an estimate about a deck, they were wanting to put the supports right on this concrete pad that’s back here. But it’s all broken up and all uneven from a large – very large – maple tree that I have in the back. And the roots, they’re gnarly and they’re – a lot of them are near the surface. And so, I was wondering if it would even be – you even recommend that I even think of having a deck built back there with the tree roots and the situation I have.

    TOM: So, first of all, this is a patio, so it’s a thin concrete slab and be 4 or 5 inches thick. Is that what you’re telling me you have?

    CHERYL: Right, right.

    TOM: OK. So that is not an appropriate foundation for a deck. And so anyone suggesting that it is would scare me because in your part of the country, you need to have the footings for that deck be below the frost line. So that means that those footings have to be about 3 feet in the ground. And then on top of those footings, you can build the deck. Otherwise, the deck’s going to ride up and down as the land freezes in the wintertime.

    So, what I would do is I would break up that patio and take it out of there. If it’s already half-broken up, with a jackhammer you’d probably get that thing out of there in an hour or two. It actually will come out a lot faster than what you would imagine.

    In terms of the tree roots, yeah, if you can get some of that out of there, it’s probably not a bad idea. But clearly, what you have to concentrate on is however you’re going to support this deck. If it’s pretty much a grade-level deck, you have to kind of put that beam in flush with the rest of the floor structure. If it’s going to be up a little bit, then you would basically put the beam underneath the floor joists and support it on however many columns it takes to make it compliant with building code.

    But to do it right, it’s got to be on a foundation. So don’t just slap a deck structure over that patio. It’s just not going to be built correctly and I doubt it would pass building code. And it would also – could devalue your house in the event you tried to sell it in the future.

    CHERYL: OK. Well, the contractor that I had out here, he was leery of – he didn’t want to disturb the tree roots too much for fear of killing this gigantic tree. And that was his …

    TOM: Well, it wasn’t a solution, because the roots are going to be there with or without the patio. It’s not a solution. And he’s not going to disturb the tree roots that much. Yes, it’ll be hard to dig those holes and you may have to chop through some of them. But I don’t think just digging three or four holes for a footing is going to be enough to kill a tree.

    CHERYL: OK. Well, I’m glad that I gave you a call then. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright, Cheryl. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, one of the greatest untapped spaces in any home is the attic. If you think about it, it’s basically like having an extra floor in your house. And that’s really why the attic is such a good place to renovate into a finished space. But given that in your attic you’ve got roof rafters and maybe some plumbing and wiring and lots and lots of insulation in the way, it’s a space that can be difficult to work in.

    Now, that’s especially true when it comes to your insulation. For unfinished attics, a lot of people just add extra layers of batt insulation to improve the home’s energy efficiency. But that insulation is so thick that you really can’t put a floor on top of it. So, the next obvious thing is to add insulation to your roof rafters and then finish the underside. But the problem there is really two-fold: first of all, most rafters are only about 6 to 8 inches deep, so that’s really not a lot of room for the proper amount of insulation; and secondly, you need to have at least 2 inches between the top of the insulation and the bottom of the roof sheathing for ventilation, further cutting back the amount of insulation that you can actually get into that space.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a really tough space to work in and that’s why the best solution is to probably go with spray-foam insulation. Now, I did this on my old home. It was built in 1886. And I chose Icynene Spray Foam.

    Now, this is a product that delivers a lot of benefits over fiberglass. First, it does a much better job of insulating, especially in those tight spaces. And it can also seal out drafts and that’s something that fiberglass can’t do.

    The Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation is really an effective one-step insulation product because it insulates, it seals and it reduces drafts. And that actually can account for as much as 40 percent of your energy use. So if you use Icynene, you could be saving as much as 40 percent on your monthly heating and cooling bills.

    Plus, they’ve got a new product out, Leslie, that’s ultra-low VOC, which I love. It means you can reoccupy the home in just two hours after it’s installed.

    LESLIE: I mean that really is amazing. Icynene is truly the evolution of insulation.

    You can visit to find out where your nearest licensed Icynene Spray-Foam Insulator contractor is. And that’s spelled Or you can give them a call at 800-758-7325. That’s 800-758-7325.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at
    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Lee in Maryland is on the line with a concrete question. What can we do for you today?

    LEE: House was built 30 years ago. And I’ve been told by several contractors that – my slab is 16×18 that I’m going to pour. I’ve been told by several contractors that I should put rebar into the house and connect it to the house. And then I’ve been told by other contractors that I should just put expansion joints in. And I don’t know what to do.

    TOM: OK. So this slab is for the garage?

    LEE: No. It’s off the side of my deck.

    TOM: Oh, OK. So a patio. Is that what you’re saying?

    LEE: Yeah. It’ll be right up against the house, so …

    TOM: OK. Yeah, listen, putting the rebar in and tying into the house is a good, solid way to do that. But if you prep the soil right underneath it, I tend to think you probably don’t have to do that. Most people, where they go wrong is they don’t prep the soil, they don’t prep the base. And if that soil is compressible – if it’s topsoil, if it’s mulch, if it’s not flattened out and really tamped down, mechanically, with a machine tamper – then you’re going to have all kinds of movement in that slab. And that’s where you get in trouble.

    So, if it’s just a matter of being concerned about it dropping, you know, I guess with all the work you’re doing it wouldn’t hurt to run the rebar into the house. You’d have to drill holes, set it inside the block wall and then run the rebar into the slab itself. But you want to make sure that slab is properly reinforced. If it’s 16×8, you’re probably going to want to put a seam in it to give it some room to move without cracking.

    But I think it’s not terribly necessary but I don’t think you can go wrong by doing it. But again, the most important thing is to tamp that base under where you’re going to pour the slab really, really well. Because invariably, that’s what causes the problems with slabs. And make sure you have a good pitch away from the house so that you don’t trap any water against the house, you don’t force water to run back into the house even when it settles, OK?

    LEE: OK. It had a base of concrete backwash tamped down really good and it was starting to set up pretty good. But I was going to bring in some more 57 limestone and then pack it down. You think that would be ample or a good choice of rock to use?

    TOM: Yep. I would go through the trouble of renting a mechanical tamper and using a mechanical tamper. Because I tell you what, when you put that base in and you tamp it mechanically, it itself becomes hard as concrete.

    LEE: OK.

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

    LESLIE: Betty in Nebraska is on the line with a mold question. What can we do for you today?

    BETTY: I am having a problem with some mold in the basement that is on cement-block walls. And I’ve heard you mention on your show the product Spray & Forget It. I’ve seen this product in a hardware store back here, in a spray bottle, and it’s for exterior use. And I am wondering if I should be looking for something for interior and where I could buy this.

    LESLIE: So you’re talking about what you think is mold on a cement block in a basement space?

    Now, the chances of that being mold are a little bit on the slim-to-none side because mold doesn’t really grow on the concrete and it needs an organic matter. So, more likely, it’s something called “efflorescence,” which is a mineral-salt deposit from when the blocks get wet and then they sort of – the water dissipates off of it and it leaves sort of a white, hazy-ish ring. Is that what you’re seeing?

    BETTY: No, this is black. Black, little spots, dots.

    TOM: Yeah, it would be very unusual for that to be mold because, as Leslie said, blocks are not organic. And you can have a moisture that gets into that block wall and then evaporates and leaves the salts behind. The salts could be white or gray or black but I’m telling you, it’s very unlikely that it’s mold. If it’s on concrete, if it’s on masonry, it’s likely not mold because there’s nothing there for it to grow on.

    Now, if you – and we’d be the first to tell you if it was. I’m just thinking what you’re describing is probably not mold. I would invite you to talk a picture of that and post it to our Facebook page at We would be happy to take a look at it and give you a better idea of what we think it is but it’s probably not.

    Now, you mentioned Spray & Forget. That’s a great product for getting rid of mold and mildew and algae that forms on the outside of your house. It’s not an interior product but in the case of the basement you describe, I don’t think you need it.
    Now, if you want to deal with the moisture issue, there’s a great story on about how to stop a basement or a crawlspace from leaking and it has to do with grading and drainage. It’s not hard to do but it will stop that moisture from coming through.

    BETTY: Mm-hmm. Now, we have had some water come into the basement and we have had the “trenching” or whatever you call that around to remove the water.

    TOM: Ah, yeah.

    BETTY: And so, I don’t know. I guess that’s why I was thinking when the blocks were wet just so far up …

    TOM: That even further confirms my opinion that it’s not mold. If you’ve got a moisture problem, here’s what you have to do: first of all, you have to address the gutter system at the outside of the roof edge. It has to be clean, free-flowing and the downspouts, most importantly, have to be discharging at least 6 feet from the foundation. If they’re not, that’s water’s going to go right back along the wall and show up in the basement.

    Then, secondly, the soil around the house has to slope away from the wall. It can’t just be flat. It can’t pitch in. It can’t have a lot of mulch or grass or even stone. It’s got to have a coarse slope away from the wall. We’d like it to drop about 6 inches over 4 feet.

    If you get those two areas of drainage under control, I think a couple of things will happen. First of all, the basement will stop leaking. And secondly, these spots that you see showing up will stop forming. Does that make sense?

    BETTY: Well, yeah. But we have a high water table.

    TOM: Does your basement leak after a heavy rain?

    BETTY: Mm-hmm. Yes.

    TOM: OK. It’s not your water table, alright? My biggest problem with this solution is people don’t believe me. It is not a water table. Water tables move seasonally, they move slowly. If your basement is leaking after a heavy rain or a snow melt, it is caused by your drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. It’s easy to fix, Betty. Trust me. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I have fixed thousands of wet basements this way.

    Go to Read the article on the home page about how to fix a wet basement. And read the comments below. You’ll hear a lot of people that speak to this issue and couldn’t believe it was easy to do as it turned out.

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

    LESLIE: Fall is a great time to fix up your cracked steps and sidewalks before the winter weather sets in. We’re going to have tips to help you do just that, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at We’d love to give you a hand. Or call us at 888-MONEY-PIT which is 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: Lance in Ohio is on the line with a plumbing question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    LANCE: Well, I have a problem with a cast-iron pipe. It comes out of my commode and it goes down into the basement. There’s a clean-out at the floor. But on the straight piece of cast-iron on one side, there’s a leak that looks like mud or – I don’t think it’s human waste, because there’s no smell to it. But it comes out of one side and drips – just kind of runs down. And on the other side, about maybe 6 inches lower, is another bulge of sediment or whatever going down the other side.

    Now, it’s a slow leak and it’s nothing on the floor as of yet. But I can see streaks where it’s – you know, it’s been maybe a month or so. And I’ve been watching it. And I just want to know what to do.

    TOM: So, Lance, this particular leak – you say you’ve been watching it. So you’re sure that what you’re seeing wasn’t there before? Because sometimes, those joints leak oil because there’s a material that’s like an oakum that’s used to pack those joints. And sometimes, it leaks oil and it leaves a stain, which looks like a leak. But you’re sure that it wasn’t there before and it actively is dripping now?

    LANCE: No. Our house was built in 1962. I’ve lived in it 13 years. And it’s not at a joint. It’s in the straight part of – there’s red joints. And this is maybe 6, 8 inches below a joint.

    TOM: OK.

    LANCE: And it’s in the straight piece of cast-iron. The cast iron is maybe 6 foot …?

    TOM: Yeah. I mean the cast-iron itself wouldn’t be leaking. It must be the joints. So the water must be coming back out of the joint.

    LANCE: Yeah. Nothing above the joint. It’s right there. It’s just coming out of the sides. That’s all.

    TOM: Hmm. I guess it’s possible a crack could develop in the cast-iron: a very small crack that’s hard to see. But that would be very, very unusual. So, I think at this point, you’re going to have to have a plumber look at this because it’s kind of beyond what you can do to repair it. If the joint itself is leaking – you mentioned it was sort of below the joint. If the joint itself was leaking, that may have to be repacked. If you look very carefully at that pipe – and I would do this with a good, strong light; you may have to run a work light over there – and find that there’s a crack in it, again, it would be very unusual. But if you did see it, then I guess that could explain it.

    Typically, when those pipes leak, there’s also a bit of a backup that causes this, because they’re not really designed to work under any kind of pressure or reverse flow. So, the other possibility is if there is any kind of backup, even a temporary one where it backs up and then it drains out, that could also lead to the leak, as well.

    But in any case, I think this is not a DIY job. We’d love to tell you that it is, Lance, but it’s not. So, get a plumber, OK? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, it used to be that working with concrete for small projects, like setting a fence post, was a big hassle because you had to buy all the raw materials and mix them up, probably using tools like your garden wheelbarrow, which you don’t normally mix concrete in, and a garden hoe. And then you have to clean them off before that concrete becomes permanently etched to the tools. It’s kind of a messy project.

    LESLIE: Well, QUIKRETE has made that a lot easier with their fast-setting concrete in the red bag. It’s a special blend of fast-setting cements, sand and gravel. And it’s decided to set in about 20 to 40 minutes.

    TOM: Yeah. You can use it for setting a fence post or a mailbox or making deck footings or even for pouring a slab. And for those posts, you don’t even have to premix it. I like this feature. You can just pour the dry mix into the hole, add water and the post is going to be solid in about 20 minutes. Piece of cake.

    LESLIE: Well, QUIKRETE is available at home improvement retailers nationwide. And right now, there’s a bonus bag available that has 20 percent more of the fast-setting cement.

    TOM: Look for it in the red bag or learn more at

    LESLIE: Charlotte in Georgia is on the line with an electrical question. How can we help you today?

    CHARLOTTE: I just put a breaker box in my house. The house was built in the late 50s. Two switches in one room do not work and the kitchen sometimes trips a breaker. Do you think it’s – I don’t want to do the – rewire the whole house. I just want to pull the wiring through the wall and I don’t want to take off any of the sheetrock.

    TOM: Well, generally, if there’s switches and outlets that are not working, it’s not the wiring itself in as much as it could be the switch or the outlets. Or it could be a problem where it’s actually connected to the switches or the outlets. And it’s obviously impossible for us to diagnose this for you.

    In answer to your general question, typically, you do not have to remove drywall except in rare circumstances. Electricians can almost always find a way to run wire through a wall. And they have tools that are specially designed to do that. They’re long fiberglass rods that the wire kind of gets tied onto the end of and they can use that to kind of snake it through the walls and pull it up where it needs to go.

    But I think the bigger question for you is: why is this happening and is it dangerous? Because if you’ve got things that are not working, we want to make sure that didn’t happen because something shorted out, which could lead to a fire. So, I would not advise you to do this yourself, Charlotte. I would advise you to get a professional to help you with it because I’m concerned that you need to get to the bottom of what caused the defect, whether it’s just broken switches. It would be unusual for all of these things to break at the same time. I have seen an occasional switch go bad but almost never an outlet go bad. So if you’ve got two switches and an outlet not working and you checked the breakers and the fuses, I think it’s time to call a pro.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, adding prefinished-hardwood floors is a very doable project that offers real value to a home. We’re going to have the how-to, in just a bit.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Call in your question now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project. And for local pros who want to grow their business, HomeAdvisor is the easy way to get connected with project-ready homeowners.

    LESLIE: Hey, we’ve also got a great reason for you to call us or write in with your question, thanks to our friends at Speed Queen. We’ve got up for grabs, this hour, a $50 Amazon gift card sponsored by Speed Queen. Speed Queen Washers and Dryers are built to last 25 years. I mean that’s a lot of laundry. Imagine how much laundry you’re doing over that period of time. They really come with the industry’s best warranty, as well. And they’ve got over 100 years of commercial reliability.

    You can check them out at over 2,800 dealers nationwide or online, right now, at

    TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, it used to be that unless hardwood was installed when a house was built, it was darn near impossible to add it after the fact. But today, we’ve got the availability of durable, prefinished-hardwood floors. And that’s made this project very doable and something that really can give value to a home. And that’s why you almost always see real-estate agents calling out the hardwood floor in their listings and advertisements, because people want to live in homes with hardwood floors.

    LESLIE: They really are beautiful and really make the space a neutral sort of palette for decorating, so you can go anywhere from there. I feel like you sometimes get pigeonholed with carpeting. You know, the beauty of selecting a solid-hardwood floor is that as trends change, you can have that floor sanded and refinished, either to that latest trend or to a traditional color that’s timeless.

    In fact, because you can sand and refinish it so many times, hardwood is really one of the longest-lasting floors. Plus, a solid-hardwood flooring won’t trap dust and dirt like carpeting does. So it’s really better for anybody who suffers from allergies. And the wood floors are going to last a lot longer than carpet.

    TOM: Now, when it comes to installation, the solid-hardwood flooring may be installed either on or above grade level. But they’re not recommended for below-grade spaces, like basements. Now, for those areas, there’s a special type of hardwood called “engineered hardwood.” And it’s basically made to stand up to moisture levels that are common in those underground areas.

    And finally, you want to keep in mind that solid hardwood does need to fully acclimate prior to installation. So that means if you’re going to put it in your house, you want to get it a few days before the installation. Kind of let it sit there and acclimate to the room and then you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: And that’s today’s Flooring Tip, presented by Lumber Liquidators. Choose from more than 140 top-quality, prefinished, ¾-inch solid-hardwood floors, including Bellawood Prefinished Hardwood, backed by a transferable 100-year warranty. Plus, get expert flooring help at every local store.

    TOM: For locations, call 1-800-HARDWOOD or visit Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.

    LESLIE: Abraham in New Jersey is on the line looking to vent an attic. What’s going on there?

    ABRAHAM: OK. I basically have a regular home; it’s a Colonial. And the attic is a rough attic with the spray-foam insulation. There is zero ventilation in that attic and the second floor has central air.

    So I would like to know two questions: would I be saving on air-conditioning if I would vent the attic – there’s no ceiling fan, nothing – if I put in either an attic fan or a window exhaust fan? And also, part of the attic has an entrance door – a heavy door – leading to attic. Would it take away the air-conditioning to leave that entrance door open, thereby allowing the hot air to enter the attic and leave with an exhaust fan? Or is that something I should not be doing?

    TOM: So, Abraham, that’s a great question. And if you told me that your attic was insulated with fiberglass insulation, as most are typically, we would talk about what kind of ventilation you’ll need. But you said your attic was insulated with spray foam. So, is the spray foam up on the underside of the roof rafters, as well as across the floor? Describe it to me.

    ABRAHAM: Not on the floor. The floor just has regular boards between the second floor and the attic. But there’s all – all the walls and the roof all have spray foam.

    TOM: So what you have, Abraham – and it’s actually the same kind of insulation setup that I have. It’s called a “conditioned attic.” In other words, the attic itself is conditioned and it does not need ventilation. So, no, you do not need to vent that. It’s actually pretty efficient right the way it is.

    Now, you mentioned that there was a door between those two spaces. If that door tends to get a little warm or the wall or the ceiling tends to get a little warm, you could add some additional insulation there. In my case, I actually had an older house. So my attic floor/second-floor ceiling already had fiberglass in it. We left that there. But then we spray-foamed the underside of the roof rafters and the gable walls. And it’s amazing. When we go up in our attic, it’s practically the same temperature as the rest of the house. It’s just done so well. So you do not need to ventilate an attic that was sprayed with foam, because it’s not the type of attic that needs to be vented.

    ABRAHAM: Yeah. Because when I go up to my attic, it is extremely hot. I know I never measure with a thermometer how much warmer it is. So that’s why I was wondering if that’s going to warm up the second floor, requiring me more air-conditioning to the second floor. So I was thinking of ventilating the attic to cool off the attic.

    TOM: I think that if it was done right, you don’t need to vent it. How long ago was the spray foam done? And who did it?

    ABRAHAM: It was done locally and it was within the past year; it’s a new home.

    TOM: Oh, really? Oh, it’s brand-new, within the past year.

    ABRAHAM: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah. I wonder if they put enough insulation in there. Because the insulation should be keeping that heat on the outside and the air-conditioning or the internal sort of ambient temperature of the house should be keeping it pretty comfortable on the inside. I wonder if you have enough insulation in there.

    And I have a suggestion for you that you speak with another spray-foam contractor, aside from the one that did it, and kind of have an opinion as to whether or not there’s enough insulation in there for your part of the country. I think that will actually make a lot of sense.

    ABRAHAM: OK. Thank you so much.

    TOM: I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you ready to put that grill away for the season? Hold on. There are three things that you need to do first to make sure it’s ready the next time you’d like to fire it up. We’re going to share those tips, coming up.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We’re here to help you with your home improvement project, your décor dilemmas. But help yourself first. Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you could find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and then instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s background-checked pros, for free.

    LESLIE: But if you’re in need of a question answered right now, go ahead and post your question at, just like Adrian did who writes: “We wanted to step up the curb appeal of our home and installed a new fiberglass front. It looks great but we realized it’s warped because we hadn’t sealed it. Is this common and is it too late to seal it? If not, is there anything else I can do to keep it from warping more?”

    I guess they’re talking about a front door.

    TOM: Yeah. And you know what? The thing is that fiberglass doors really can’t warp, because they’re fiberglass. So you don’t really get much movement in it. I suspect that the frame has moved for whatever reason. Either the house has settled or the frame has moved. And frankly, the easiest way to fix this – unless it’s a simple, maybe minor adjustment – is to separate the frame from the wall and kind of rehang that part of it.

    The way I do this is I pull off the trim from the inside and the outside. And I’ll take a reciprocating saw and basically cut through the nails so now that whole jamb can move. And then I’ll sort of get it exactly where I want it, re-shim it up and then almost one nail at a time, I’ll tack that frame back into place and get it nice and level.

    You know, doors are tricky. They seem like they should be easy to hang.

    LESLIE: They’re not.

    TOM: But they can move in, actually, six different directions. They can twist, they can go out of parallel and there’s just a lot of movement to that door. So when I hang these doors, what I’ll do is literally drive one or two nails, check the fit, drive one or two, check the fit. Just keep checking the fit over and over and over again. It takes a while but if you get it in right, the thing is just not going to move and you’ll never have to worry about it going out of whack again.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Adrian, a fiberglass door really is a beautiful choice because the graining pattern is set in and it’s beautiful; the color is set into it and it’s not going to ever fade away, because it’s not organic; and they will just last and last. And truly, the only maintenance you need for a fiberglass door is to just wash it once in a while if it gets dusty or colored with pollen. It’s not a bad thing to do. A fiberglass door really is a good part to put on your home. You did a good project there.

    TOM: Well, if you’ve enjoyed a summer of grilling sizzling steaks and juicy burgers, three simple steps can help make sure your grill is ready for a repeat performance when summer arrives once again. Leslie has got the step-by-step in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    Leslie, what’s first?

    LESLIE: Yeah, first of all, you’ve got to start by closing the lid and then heat that grill for 15 to 20 minutes. You want to put it on a pretty high setting. Now, once it cools, you can give the grates a good scrub using a nylon brush for porcelain or a metal brush for stainless-steel grill surfaces.

    Next, go ahead and remove the lava rocks and the burners and give them both a good brushing. You want to check those burners carefully for cracks, split seams or holes. And if any are found, that burner should be replaced. Then go ahead, reassemble the grill and test the propane connections for leaks by spraying soapy water on all those connections. The reason why you put soap in the water? Because if the bubbles start to appear, that means the gas is leaking and sort of blowing air into that bubbly water. That means you’ve got to fix it. Finally, you want to disconnect the propane tank and either cover the grill or bring it inside.

    If you want some more tips on cleaning your grill and getting it ready for the next grilling season, head on over to

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, fall is a season where we celebrate beautiful trees. But if you wish you had one of those in your yard, you don’t have to wait a full generation for it to grow. You can transplant a tree instead. We’ll have tips on that and more, on the 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 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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