Gutter Cleaning Made Easy #1003161

  • Rain Gutter full of leaves
  • 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: We are here to help you with your home improvement or home décor questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. What are you working on on this beautiful fall weekend? If you’ve got a project planned, you need some help getting started, give us a call, right now, at 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s show, if we told you there was one home improvement that can prevent cracked foundations, rotted siding and leaky roofs, would you do it? Well, I’d say most likely yes but surprisingly, many homeowners never clean their gutters. Yes, clogged gutters can cause these defects and many more. We’re going to have tips on how you can get those cleaned the easy way, coming up.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, if the summer has left your patio looking worn and pitted, maybe even cracked or stained, Roger Cook from This Old House will be stopping by with ideas for a patio makeover to make it better than ever.

    TOM: And also ahead, adding security lights to your home’s exterior is always a good move but one that’s always complicated by the need to run wiring to get them power. We’re going to tell you about a new, battery-powered version that’s just on the market that makes this project super easy and very affordable.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great prize to one lucky caller drawn at random. It’s called the AudioBulb and it’s a wireless music and lighting system that’s as easy to install as screwing in a light bulb, because that’s exactly where the music comes from: the bulb.

    TOM: That prize is worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Gerald in Arkansas is on the line with a question about a concrete slab. What’s going on?

    GERALD: Yeah, I’m having problems with the – my floor done rotted. I bought a house. In the part that they added onto the house, they used a wooden floor. And the wooden floor done rotted.

    TOM: OK.

    GERALD: If you walk on it, you just go all the way down to the ground. It’s that close to the ground.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    GERALD: The moisture has been getting up under there.

    TOM: That’s not good.

    GERALD: And I think there’s signs of mold in the – running up the walls. It’s a big – it’s about three bedrooms back there.

    TOM: Yeah. It sounds like you’ve got a big project on your hand, Gerald. So how do you think we can help with this?

    GERALD: Well, I was wondering if I could try to add flow-out and put a concrete slab or go back with wood or …

    TOM: Was the wood floor framed right on top of a crawlspace? In other words, once you go through the floor, you see floor joists and then you see dirt underneath that? Is that what you’re looking at?

    GERALD: Yeah, yeah. It’s a – the floor is so close to the ground and it’s an old-timer who built it. And that summer, he added onto the house and he’s the one who did that.

    TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you, it’s going to be a tricky situation no matter what. I mean generally, when buildings are designed to work with a floor framing system, they don’t easily convert to a slab. For one thing, the floor framing is going to go under the wall framing, so you’d always have to have some portion of it there. I think what you’re going to end up doing is pulling up that rotted floor and then replacing all of that framing and doing so with pressure-treated lumber this time.

    GERALD: I was thinking about tearing that part of the house off.

    TOM: Well, that’s going to …

    LESLIE: That’s one way to do it.

    TOM: Now that would fix it, wouldn’t it?

    GERALD: Yeah. That’s why I’m trying to get some advice.

    TOM: But what I think you would have to do is basically tear off all the rotted floor, then evaluate the floor structure, see how many of those beams you have to replace. And then while it’s open, you want to take some steps to try to get a vapor barrier underneath that floor structure. You could do that with some very thick plastic. And even if it – if you overlap that plastic, you want to do that by 5 or 6 feet if you have to use multiple pieces. And that’s going to stop the moisture from coming up.

    And then you want to find a place to vent that crawlspace, even if it’s a narrow vent, so you can get some fresh air in there. You could also install a fan in that space that’s based on a humidistat so that if the moisture builds up in the future, it’ll kick on and pull drier air in from the outside. But since you have all this decay, you have to open it up, evaluate what you have and then take action based on that. And when you put it back together, you do so in a way that will preserve it over the long haul.

    GERALD: Oh, OK. Thank you. That’s some good advice.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: We’ve got Sandra in Maryland on the line and she’s got a really old house and an electrical problem. What’s happening at your money pit?

    SANDRA: A hundred-and-three years old.

    TOM: Oh. That’s great. That’s a good age for houses. It’s just starting to get seasoned. Settling in a bit.

    SANDRA: Oh, it settles a lot.

    TOM: Yeah, I bet, I bet. So, has the wiring been updated at all or is it original? Is it knob-and-tube? What kind of wiring do you have?

    SANDRA: I have a mix of knob-and-tube and some updated. What’s down in the walls, I think, is still knob-and-tube.

    TOM: OK.

    SANDRA: Some of the stuff that’s more out has been replaced.

    TOM: And what are you planning to do? What’s precipitating this question? Is this just a general concern about safety? Are you doing some other remodeling?

    SANDRA: Well, what I’ve done is started redoing the kitchen.

    TOM: OK.

    SANDRA: And I took up the seven layers of linoleum and got all the creosote out and got all the stuff that probably I shouldn’t have been inhaling out of the kitchen. And we sanded the floors and kept the original, old, wood floors. And the paneling in the kitchen I’m not willing to tear down because it’s horsehair plaster behind it. And every time you touch the wall, you hear stuff fall.

    TOM: Right.

    SANDRA: So I’m not willing to replace it. We painted the paneling and I want to put new floorboard trim around. But all of the wiring – it’s those big, black wires that go from one outlet to another outlet.

    TOM: Let me give you some advice on this because it is time to update that wiring. First of all, any existing knob-and-tube wiring is very dangerous and here’s why: when it gets to be 100 years old, the insulation on that wiring is very dried out, very brittle, very crumbly. I can’t tell you how many times, in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, that I found that kind of wiring in a house and often found burn marks – very frightening – burn marks on the framing that surrounded it.

    So you definitely want to deactivate that wiring. You don’t have to physically pull it out of the walls as long as it’s not electrified. And then, of course, you want to update that with new, modern wiring that’s consistent with current electrical code.

    Now, for the kitchen, you really want to do something different than what it would’ve been done when the home was originally built. It had wiring but it had all of that kitchen, I’m sure, on one circuit. And that’s why an older home, sometimes, when you’re in a kitchen, you often see the lights dim when the refrigerators kick on, because they’re both – major appliance and lighting are on the same circuit.

    You want to have one circuit for your appliances, your dishwasher, your refrigerator, perhaps even more than one circuit for that and then a separate circuit for lighting and outlets. And of course, all of the outlets also should be ground-fault protected because this is a wet location. And ground-fault protection protects you from receiving a shock if you were using an appliance that shorted or had any other type of electrical incident that occurred.

    So, you are smart to be concerned about this. It is something that you should take care of, whether you do it one room at a time or the entire house at a time. You know, that’s going to be up to time and budget. But you should have on your overall remodeling plan the need to get rid of that knob-and-tube and completely de-energize it, because it is unsafe for the reasons I stated.

    And also, by the way, that particular wiring is not grounded nor is it groundable. So that’s another reason it’s unsafe. It’s just the way it was done back then.

    SANDRA: I think some of the kitchen had been done because I did have an electrician friend come in and install some new outlets. And he just ran from one to the next and I do have different circuit breakers downstairs and all that kind of stuff. But one of the things that when – I do have – I think the one wall hasn’t been done. I know that sounds odd. But when they have the wires that are out – the big, black wires going across on any of the wires – and I don’t want them to go behind the wall, because they can’t without damaging the wall. Do I need to put those metal covers over them before I can put the trim board down so I don’t …?

    TOM: Well, if you have – if you’re talking about the original knob-and-tube wiring being big black wires, you can’t bury that. That’s very unsafe.


    TOM: And here’s why: knob-and-tube wiring – the reason – and by the way, for those that are not familiar with this, if you’ve ever seen an old house where wires seem to be strung on little ceramic posts that stick off the side of beams, those are the knobs. And then where the wires go through the framing, there’s a ceramic tube. That’s the tube. That’s why it’s called knob-and-tube.

    And the reason that it sticks off the beam, Sandra, is because it has to be air-cooled. So that’s why you can’t bury knob-and-tube wiring under trim. You can’t even put insulation around it because it makes it doubly unsafe.

    SANDRA: So if it’s the big, black wire, then I know I’ve still got original knob-and-tube in there.

    TOM: I would have your electrician come in and determine where that wire’s being energized, make sure that if it’s knob-and-tube, it is completely disconnected and then run whatever you have to do from there. And if you can only do it one room at a time, you’ll be just that much more safe. But if you could do the whole house, then just do it.

    SANDRA: OK. Great. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Sandra. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at

    Hey, you guys, it’s October. Are you getting out the pumpkins? Are you making things look all festive and fall-like? Maybe you’re planting mums. What are you doing? We want to give you a hand. I like to make things look spooky, so if you have a Halloween-decorating question, I’m happy to answer those. But we’re here for you all of your home improvement needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Just ahead, cleaning your gutters isn’t exactly the kind of project you might look forward to but it’s one that can prevent a whole host of expensive repairs later. We’re going to have tips on how to tackle this job the most efficient and easy way possible, after this.

    FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Date night is a big night for us. Just me, my husband, some candles and time alone, finally. And Sean added his own flair: he installed a Caseta Smart Lighting System by Lutron. He makes a big deal out of taking out his phone and the lights come down low. Very romantic. I think I married the right guy.

    MALE ANNOUNCER: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart home upgrade, at No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

    ANNOUNCER: Today’s Money Pit is presented by Mr. Beams. Lighting solutions that can be installed in five minutes. No wires, no electrician, no kidding. Find Mr. Beam’s lights at major retailers and learn more at

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’d love to talk to you about your home improvement, your home décor, your home storage and organization, your home repair question. Whatever is going on in your money pit, we’d love to help you take on that project at 888-666-3974.

    And we’d also like to give you a great prize. We’re giving away this hour the AudioBulb, which is a wireless music and lighting system that revolutionizes how you play music throughout your home or office. Just screw in the bulb and it communicates, via Bluetooth, to an app on the phone. Lets you stream music wherever that bulb is installed. It’s as easy as that.

    It’s worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’re going out to Dale in Kansas who’s working on an attic makeover. How can we help you today?

    DALE: Well, I bought this little house and it’s got a vented ridge down the center of the peak of the roof and then one 2×2-square opening on the end. And it doesn’t seem like that’s adequate ventilation to get rid of the heat.

    TOM: So you have no soffit vents at all? You have – just have this ridge – you have the ridge vent, the gable vents and no soffit vents at the overhang of the roof? OK.

    DALE: And I put a 12-inch turbine vent on it but I’m thinking I need more than just that 2-foot-square vent. I was thinking about putting four 12-inch – I don’t know what to call them besides “dump vents” – down towards the lower end of the roof.

    TOM: OK. Well, you’re on the right track. So let’s talk about attic ventilation and the way it’s supposed to work.

    So, the attic is always supposed to be the same temperature as the outside. So, if it’s hot outside, it should be hot in the attic. And if it’s cold outside, it should be cold in the attic. Basically, the attic has to be well ventilated for that happen. Now, you have, actually, half of what I usually recommend as a ventilation system and that’s a continuous ridge vent down the peak of the roof.

    The second half of that, though, are soffit vents at the overhang of the roof. Soffit vents are good because as the wind blows across the house, that soffit area pressurizes and pushes air up into that soffit. That rides up underneath the roof sheathing, where it carts away heat in the summer and moisture in the winter, and then exits at the ridge. And that same wind that’s pushing positively against the side of the house and the soffit vents is actually creating sort of a negative pressure at the ridge. So you get this kind of nice, continuous flow.

    And if you have that working for you then, actually, what you should do is block off those gable vents, because that’s going to kind of interrupt that nice flow that we’ve created.

    Now, in your case, you have no soffit vents. I would first explore the potential of putting in soffit vents. The other idea that you suggested was putting in regular roof vents but lower on the roof. You know, not a terrible idea but not nearly as efficient as soffit vents.

    And if you don’t have a soffit, there’s a type of vent called a “drip-edge vent,” which basically extends the roof line about 2 inches, creates a short soffit that’s pretty effective. But if you can get continuous soffit and ridge venting, that’s really all you need. The other types of ventilators – the turbine that you mentioned, that kind of stuff – it looks like it does a lot but it’s really nowhere near as effective as having that continuous, open ridge and the continuous, open soffit, OK?

    DALE: I’ve never seen – I’m not familiar with that …

    TOM: Drip-edge vent? Google ­­­­­­­­­”drip-edge vent” and I think CertainTeed – I know CertainTeed makes it. I’m sure others do, as well. And it’s a really effective, little vent. Now, you may have to do some modifications of your roof shingles at the overhang to get this in. But considering you’re going to have to modify your roof anyway to put those roof vents in, I think that’s probably the best way to go for homes that don’t have a soffit. Because it does create that intake point down low on the roof, which is going to really let a lot of air in. And I think you’ll see a big difference.

    DALE: OK. Thanks.

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

    Well, gutters perform one duty: controlling the water around your home. But if clogs keep those gutters from doing their job, you can wind up with some pretty serious and expensive problems. My short list would include leaking basements, cracked foundations, rotted wood, leaking roofs and even wood-destroying insects, like termites.

    LESLIE: Now, if we’ve motivated you to take on this project, here are a few tips to help. First of all, guys, you’ve got to be careful. If you’re not comfortable with heights or don’t use tall ladders regularly, perhaps cleaning the gutters is not really a job for you. You might want to consider hiring a handyman to help with this chore.

    Now, as for the cleaning – using a ladder, work gloves and a hose – you want to clear the gutters beginning at one end and moving to the other. And you always want to work from the ladder and not from the roof. Because you lean wrong, you could flip right over and fall off the roof. So work off the ladder.

    TOM: Now, if you find any loose gutter sections, you want to tighten them up as you go. And it might be helpful to have a supply of these long gutter screws to use when you replace those loose or missing gutter spikes. I like the screws because they don’t pull out once you install them, so you usually have to do this just once.

    Now, when you get to the end of the gutter where the spout is, you want to spray the hose down the gutter to make sure it’s clear. And once the spouts are clear, make sure the discharge is extended at least 4 to 6 feet away from the house to avoid problems. And that is the most important part of this. If you get that discharge out 4 to 6 feet, you’re not going to have that water run back into your crawlspace or your basement or even under your slab, if that’s the kind of house you have.

    Now, once it’s done, it’s important that you check gutters periodically and be mindful of signs of clogging, like overflowing in a rainstorm. If you want to keep those gutters clear, it’s really the single most effective way to avoid a whole host of serious and potentially expensive repairs down the line.

    888-666-3974. If you’ve got a repair or an improvement that you need some help with, call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Julie in Colorado is on the line and has a heating question.

    JULIE: My question is regarding heat pumps and how energy-efficient they might be, because we’re an all-electric house. Our electric bill is very high.

    TOM: And how is your house heated right now, Julie?

    JULIE: It’s heated with baseboard. And actually, we don’t even really heat our house. We’ll heat one room because it’s so expensive.

    TOM: Right now, you’re heating with electric-resistance heat which, as you accurately stated, is the most expensive type of heat. Now, a heat-pump system would be far less expensive but it would require a duct system to be installed throughout the house. So, you would have that upfront cost of running the heating ducts.

    If you had that system installed – the way a heat pump works is it’s kind of like an air-conditioning system that runs all winter except that in the wintertime, the refrigeration system is reversed. Now, if you’ve ever walked, say, by a window air conditioner in the summer, you know it blows hot air out the back of it, out to the outside. If you sort of took that window air conditioner out and flipped it around and stuck it inside, you’d have a heat pump; it’d be blowing the hot air in the house. That’s essentially what happens: it reverses the refrigeration cycle in the wintertime.

    Now, generally speaking, heat pumps are not always recommended for very, very cold climates because heat pumps only maintain the heat when there’s a 2-degree differentiation between what the temperature is set at – what the temperature is and what the temperature is set at, I should say. So if you set your temperature at 70, it falls to 69, the heat goes on. If it falls inside to 68, the heat pump stays on. If it falls to 67, the heat pump says to its electric-resistance backup system, which is always part of a heat pump, “Hey, I can’t keep up with this. I need some help. Turn on the heating coils.” And then you’re not saving any money.

    So, will it save – will it be less expensive than baseboard electric? Yes. But it has a significant upfront cost in terms of the installation because you’d need a duct system, as well as the heat-pump equipment. Does that make sense?

    JULIE: OK. Sounds good. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, are you thinking about updating a concrete patio? Well, This Old House landscaping expert Roger Cook is stopping by with tips on how you can do that.

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

    ADAM: Hey, this is Adam Carolla. And when I’m not swinging a hammer, I’m catching up on The Money Pit with Tom and Leslie.

    FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Date night is a big night for us. Just me, my husband, some candles and time alone, finally. And Sean added his own flair: he installed a Caseta Smart Lighting System by Lutron. He makes a big deal out of taking out his phone and the lights come down low. Very romantic. I think I married the right guy.

    MALE ANNOUNCER: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart home upgrade, at No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 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 if you don’t want to do it yourself, give us a call and we’ll talk about how to hire a contractor to get that job done, what to include in the contract, how to get competing bids and that sort of thing. All great topics. And you know what? If you’re thinking about it, a lot of people are, too. Be the one that picks up the phone and asks that question. You’ll help out the entire community.

    Hey, if you’d like to conserve heat at night but avoid waking up to a cold house in the morning, you can get the best of both worlds by installing a clock-setback thermostat. But now these thermostats are getting even better with the smart-thermostat features that can even tell when you’re home or when you’re away.

    I love this because in my house, we have a schedule that’s kind of crazy. And with my thermostat, it’s set onto a geo-fence, which basically means when we leave the house, everything goes down into sort of an away vacation mode. And really, over time, that adds up by us spending less money on cooling in the summer and less money on heating in the winter. So it’s definitely worth investing in a smart thermostat. Put that project on your to-do list. You won’t be sorry.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Chuck in Delaware on the line whose kids dropped something in the bathtub, which caused a huge crack and now a leak. What is going on?

    CHUCK: Oh, they dropped a shave-cream can into the bottom of the tub. It put a semicircle crack in. And I’m wondering if there’s anything that I can use to stop this from – you know, when they step on it, it leaks.

    TOM: Yeah. I mean look, you can repair it. It’s not going to be pretty but you can repair it. And you said it’s a fiberglass tub?

    CHUCK: Yes.

    TOM: So, you could pick up a fiberglass repair kit. They’re available from a number of manufacturers. Two that you would know would be Bondo, which makes a lot of fiberglass products. They’re big in industry, they’re big in auto body. And then, of course, there’s Elmer’s. They have a tub-and-shower repair kit, as well. But I would probably get the Bondo kit and you could put a fiberglass patch on there.

    But the color on it is – it’s always going to show; it means you’re going to see it. But you can repair it structurally so it won’t leak, because they need to be able to step on it without it bending and cracking. And if you repair it with Bondo, you’re going to basically apply the resin, you’re going to press fiberglass into it and then apply additional resin to make it strong.

    CHUCK: Alright. Well, I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Well, a concrete patio is perfectly functional but it might leave something to be desired in the looks department.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And if your concrete patio is dragging down your outdoor living space, you can give it a facelift. Here to talk with us about options for updating just that is This Old House landscaping expert Roger Cook.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me.

    TOM: So there are so many folks that have concrete patios out there and they just never look better than the day they’re put down. In fact, most of the time, they look worse. They get dirty. They get covered with mildew and algae. Are there options for taking that surface and dressing it up?

    ROGER: There absolutely is. The first thing you want to do, though, is look at your concrete patio and see what kind of shape …

    TOM: Because you don’t want to put money into one that’s cracked and busted up.

    ROGER: Right. If it’s already starting showing it’s going to fail, there’s no sense putting good money on top of bad. But you can get a lot of things to put on top of it. There is ipe, which is a really, really hard wood. And they actually make it so it has a plastic grid on the back and you can lay it right on top of the concrete and snap it together. And it looks incredible. We did it on an Ask This Old House project.

    TOM: Wow. So you can take a concrete surface and lay a wood tile over it, essentially?

    ROGER: That’s right. You can do almost anything. There’s going to be one catch. If you do something that’s thick – like, let’s say, a brick or even a piece of bluestone – and you have a riser, you have to make sure that where you hit that riser after you add your new product, you’re not changing it to a tip step or you’re not causing water to run back towards the house.

    TOM: Now, when you say “riser,” you mean staircase?

    ROGER: Exactly. Because you’re putting on 2 inches or something like that. You could change it into a 3-inch step and that’s a pretty hard step for people to walk on.

    TOM: Yeah. Even though that’s a short step, it’s one that could definitely cause a tripping hazard because, I think, mechanically you expect all the steps to be the same height as the first one. And if you have a short step to start, you may just trip on the second one.

    ROGER: Right. And that’s why it may be good to try some of the thinner products like tiles, the ipe, anything that won’t change that riser drastically.

    LESLIE: And I will tell you, those ipe tiles, they’re sold in a box. I’ve used them a couple of times and they range anywhere between $25 and $40 a box. And I think it’s 10 square feet per box, which is a nice amount, you know. It’s not bad.

    TOM: It’s not bad.

    ROGER: That’s not bad at all.

    TOM: We’re talking $3 or $4 a square foot.

    LESLIE: And you really don’t have to cut anything. It’s snapping on the edges. So you can create an interesting pattern. You can do a straight run. You can give it a parquet look. I really like how it looks and I feel like as the ipe ages, it almost grays out. You can oil it to bring back that rich color to it. But I kind of like that beach-y wash-y look, as well.

    ROGER: Yeah. You’ve just got to watch to lay it out, like you said, so that you minimize cuts. Everything we do in something like this is – we want to try to minimize the labor involved, because we want to get it done right away.

    LESLIE: Right.

    ROGER: So if you can lay it out in such a way to minimize the cuts, that’s a plus.

    TOM: Now, aside from the ipe tiles that we’re talking about, let’s talk about some of the other materials that are options. Now, you mentioned avoiding, potentially, materials that are thick if you have stairs you’re dealing with. But if you don’t, what about simply covering that patio with a brick paver? Is that an option?

    ROGER: Yep. That’s an option. There’s quite a few other options. You could use brick pavers – you can get them in all different sizes – but you could also take and paint it or stain it. They make paints specific for this kind of application but the key, especially here, is to make sure you clean that concrete slab before you try to adhere anything to it. Power-washing, a good brush – stiff brush – and just getting it really clean.

    TOM: And I remember, Leslie, you once told me about a project that you did for, I think it was While You Were Out, where you actually painted a rug on a concrete patio so it looked like a carpet.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You’re right, Tom. If you buy the right paint for concrete, you can really create a beautiful outdoor design. It could be a rug, it could be an overall pattern. But I do like the idea of creating an outdoor rug using different stencils and different concrete paints and almost overlaying different patterns and designs to create this beautiful, dimensional-looking rug for the surface.

    TOM: Now, what about repairing that surface, Roger, if you have one that’s generally structurally sound but maybe you have some pitted areas or something of that nature? What’s the right way to patch that patio so it will really stand up to the weather that follows?

    ROGER: Well, they make material for cracks but you’ve really got to get that crack cleaned out before you put it in. It almost – they make a hydraulic cement that will go in and expand so you can fill in the joints before you do any of the work Leslie was talking about.

    TOM: And so many folks just try to put new concrete over old concrete or new mortar over old concrete. Never lasts. Seems to pop out the very next winter.

    ROGER: Yeah. It never seems to adhere to each other.

    TOM: You need to use the right product for the right job. And that’s something that we know you do every time out there.

    Roger Cook, the landscaping expert from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for being a part of The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Thank you.

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

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Gorilla Glue, for the toughest jobs on Planet Earth.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Coming up, a way to step up your outside safety and security lighting without running a single new wire. We’re going to share some details on super-bright, battery-powered LED spotlights, after this.

    FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Date night is a big night for us. Just me, my husband, some candles and time alone, finally. And Sean added his own flair: he installed a Caseta Smart Lighting System by Lutron. He makes a big deal out of taking out his phone and the lights come down low. Very romantic. I think I married the right guy.

    MALE ANNOUNCER: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart home upgrade, at No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

    ANNOUNCER: Today’s Money Pit is presented by Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart home upgrade, at No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement question, really, whatever it is you are working on. Between Tom and I, we know a thing or two about your homes and we’ll help you get those projects done. Plus, we’re giving away a kind of cool prize this hour. We’ve got up for grabs an AudioBulb.

    Now, this is a wireless music and lighting system and it really revolutionizes the way you play music throughout your home or maybe even your office. Simply screw in this light bulb and then the bulb itself communicates, via Bluetooth, with an app on your phone. And you can play the music wherever that bulb is installed. I mean how cool is that? You can just have the best of everything with music and lighting and lots of fun.

    It’s a $50 prize and it’s going out to one lucky caller drawn at random.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Audrey in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    AUDREY: Right. I was listening to your show last weekend and I heard you talking about some kind of contact paper but you put it on your kitchen wall and you can put tile on it for a backsplash.

    TOM: Yeah. That’s a product called Bondera Tile Mat Set. Kind of a long name but basically, it’s a two-sided adhesive sticky material that if you want to do a backsplash, or for that matter a countertop, you pull off the backing on one side of it, press it against the wall – in your case for the backsplash. Then you can stick the tiles right to the other side of it, pull off the backing on the other side and you stick the tiles right on. And then you can pretty much grout immediately thereafter, so you don’t have to wait for glue to dry or even mix up glue or get a tile glue that can kind of get all over the place. It’s all on the mat. So you cut it to fit, put it on the wall, pull off the back and then go ahead and glue tile right to it.

    I would caution you, though, that I would not recommend you put this right on drywall because it’s going to be a permanent. You’re never going to get it off. And if you ever want to replace it, you’d have to cut the wall out because it’ll just pull the paper right off.

    What you could do is just put a thin sheet of luan plywood on the wall first and then put the tile right on that.

    AUDREY: OK. Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you want to keep your home and your family safe, you can never go wrong by adding security lights to your home’s exterior. Now, security lighting can really help make your driveways, walkways and your steps a lot safer. But best of all, they can deter burglars who might be looking for a way in.

    TOM: Yes. But adding that kind of lighting usually requires running new wiring, which can be costly. Now, however, there’s a new product on the market from Mr. Beams called the High Performance Security Light. And it kind of makes this kind of lighting a lot easier to install.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And that’s because the High Performance Security Light is battery-powered, so there’s no wiring needed. In fact, you could install it in about five minutes and it is ridiculously super bright. It’s got a dual-head spotlight on it that has 500 lumens of light to increase the security and the safety all around your home. And the heads are easily adjustable so that you can customize your coverage area. And that’s really going to deliver the light exactly where you want it.

    TOM: And of course, it’s also motion-activated and it comes in original and a Net Bright version, which is pretty cool because it evens allows the light to communicate with other Net Bright spotlights. So when one light detects motion, guess what? They all come on. And that’s going to totally freak out any burglars that are lurking around your house. It’s really surprisingly bright anywhere you go.

    Prices run from 49.99 to 64.99. You’ll find Mr. Beam products at, as well as and at major hardware retailers, like Home Depot and Lowes. Very cool product. The High Performance Security Light, battery-powered light from Mr. Beams.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to talk to Tom who’s got a porch question. How can we help you today?

    TOM (CALLER): I have a three-season porch, aluminum. And the inside, on the struts – not the panels themselves but the support struts that support them – I have like an oxidation or mineral deposit. And it’s white and I’m trying to figure out how to take it off.

    TOM: Do you think it’s the result of a leak, Tom?

    TOM (CALLER): Yeah, moisture building up. It’s not just in one spot. It’s all along the whole bottom strut, on the whole porch.

    TOM: So if it’s a mineral deposit, the easiest way to get rid of that is with a vinegar – a white vinegar-and-water solution. Because the vinegar will melt the salts.


    TOM: Now, if that takes it off, great. It’s not going to stop it from reappearing. If that’s the condition, what you really need to do is look for ways to dehumidify that space. Because the moisture is going to continue to condense on that and form those deposits, even if you were to get it clean again.

    The other product that you could think about using is called CLR – Calcium, Lime, Rust Remover. That’s another type of mineral-salt cleaner that’s a little bit stronger than vinegar and water but that will also work, as well.

    TOM (CALLER): OK. That won’t take the – it’s anodized aluminum. It’s that brown, bronzed aluminum for a three-season porch. That won’t affect it? The CLR?

    TOM: I don’t believe it will. But you could always try it in a – you know, they always say test a small area. But I think you’re going to find that the reaction of that material on the salts will just melt it away.

    TOM (CALLER): OK. I’ll give that a try.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, just ahead, are you tired of stepping into a cloud of moisture every time you step out of a shower? Or maybe you’re just tired of cleaning up all that mold that it leaves behind? Well, we’re going to talk some ventilation solutions for your bathrooms, after this.

    FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Date night is a big night for us. Just me, my husband, some candles and time alone, finally. And Sean added his own flair: he installed a Caseta Smart Lighting System by Lutron. He makes a big deal out of taking out his phone and the lights come down low. Very romantic. I think I married the right guy.

    MALE ANNOUNCER: Caseta by Lutron. Simple to use, simple to set up. Learn how you can win a $5,000 smart home upgrade, at No purchase necessary. Ends 12/15/16.

    ANNOUNCER: Today’s Money Pit is presented by Mr. Beams. Lighting solutions that can be installed in five minutes. No wires, no electrician, no kidding. Find Mr. Beam’s lights at major retailers and learn more at

    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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects. Call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to our Facebook page at

    Hey, would you like to change the look of your favorite room for less than 40 bucks and about 15 minutes of work? There’s a new smart dimmer out from Leviton called the Decora Digital Dimmer, which I like because it works off an app and uses Bluetooth settings to let you create the ambiance pretty much from the comfort of your couch. Doesn’t get any easier than that. You just switch out the existing dimmer with this new Decora Digital Dimmer and then you have a free app that you download and you can turn it on/off, you can set the dim, you can set schedules. Pretty cool technology just out, now, from Leviton.

    LESLIE: That’s pretty amazing. We will soon sprout couches out of our behinds because we never have to get up for anything.

    TOM: You’ll never have to leave the couch. You can just do it all.

    LESLIE: It’s pretty awesome. Alright. Well, somebody who wants to do something herself is Liz in New York who writes: “My house was built in 1960 and there are no exhaust fans in the bathroom. I’d like to put up crown molding in the bathrooms but will it swell from the moisture? Is there a certain type I should use?”

    TOM: You know, instead of using wood crown molding in that space, Liz, I would use PVC. Now, there are different types of composites but the extruded PVC works really well. It’s lightweight, it looks great. You can’t really tell the difference between that and wooden molding once it’s painted. And you won’t have any issues about moisture.

    However, speaking of all the moisture that’s building up there, it’d be a really good idea for you to also add a ventilation fan to that space and one that’s on a timer. Because if you continue to have that level of humidity, you’re going to be facing a lifetime worth of cleaning up after mold, which is something I’m sure you’d like to avoid.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Most, for sure, because you really don’t want to deal with the mold in the bathroom. I mean I would do everything you can to get that moisture out of there.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Mike in New Jersey. And he writes: “What’s the best way to determine what my walls are made of? I want to hang some pictures.”

    TOM: That’s a great question. Now, I think if you gave me the age of your house, I could probably have a pretty good guess. If your home was built from the early 1900s about to maybe the late 1940s or mid-to-late 1940s, it’s probably plaster walls. If it’s from, say, the mid-40s up towards the 60s, it might be plaster lath, which is a very hard form of drywall. And then after that, it’s drywall.

    You can also tell by kind of knocking on the wall. I will tell you that plaster wood lath is a very dull thud. Plaster over plaster lath feels almost like ceramic. And drywall feels just like a soft wall. So those are a couple of ways that we tell the types of wall material you are. But if it’s based on the age alone, I think that gives you some sense as to what it’s most likely going to become.

    OK. Johnny is up next and writes: “Hi, guys. I just realized that my whole apartment – the previous tenant installed laminate flooring over the existing carpets. I’d like replace it but I think it’s been down for about five years. So what do I need to do? Do I need to pull out the old carpet or can I just pull off the old floor and leave that down?”

    Well, listen, Johnny, first of all, if this is an apartment you’re renting, you’re looking at a lot of expense here that you might want to kind of negotiate with the landlord. But the best practice would be to, yes, pull off the old laminate and pull off that original carpet, because it’s really not a good idea.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s probably so squished.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Or even if it’s thin carpet, it’s just a really bad idea to have that underneath. It’s not really an appropriate underlayment for that space. So, your best option is to really pull the whole thing out.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, Johnny? If you do get rid of all of that flooring that’s been hiding underneath all these years, when you go to install the new floor, it’s going to go down to easy and smooth and straight. It’ll be smooth sailing.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Just about out of time for today’s program but remember, you can call us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to our website at We’d love to hear from you about your home improvement projects.

    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 2016 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.)

Leave a Reply


More tips, ideas and inspiration to fuel your next home improvement, remodeling or décor project!