Make Drafts Disappear #1003162
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  • 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: Hey, what are you working on this fall weekend? If it’s a home improvement, a home décor, a home fix-up project of any type, we’d love to talk with you and help you get that job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Help yourself by calling us at 888-666-3974, because we exist to help make your home improvement projects easier and more successful.

    Coming up on today’s program, when a home gets built, it starts out as a hollow frame. And if you think about it, everything else that’s added is designed to keep heated and cooled air in and weather and water out. We’re going to have some advice on the most common places that that plan breaks down, to help make your home more comfortable and energy-efficient.

    LESLIE: Plus, if you’d like to keep the heat in and the cold out and therefore the energy bills down, replacement windows might be a great option. We’re going to have tips that can help, including a very affordable way to get those done.

    TOM: And if you’re thinking about making over your bedroom this fall, we’re going to highlight some trendy décor ideas that can add value and comfort.

    LESLIE: Plus, if you call in with your home improvement question to 888-MONEY-PIT, you’re going to get the answer, plus we’re giving away a great prize. We’ve got the RemoteLync camera from Kidde. Now, this is a battery-operated remote camera that will alert you, via your smartphone, when motion is detected inside your home while you’re away.

    TOM: It’s worth $199 but going out to one caller drawn at random, so make that you. Pick up the phone and call us now with your home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Arthur in Tennessee on the line who’s dealing with a painting problem. What happened?

    ARTHUR: Not much. I’m working on a building in old Downtown Johnson City, built in the 1890s, and trying to strip some brick.

    TOM: Fantastic. OK.

    ARTHUR: I’ve stripped part of the brick that was done in the 1950s and had good success. But this is older brick and I’m not even sure – I think it was made on site and it’s solid and everything. But I wondered what kind of modern options were out there for getting paint off of brick.

    TOM: What did you use to get the paint off of the 1950s brick?

    ARTHUR: I used a product called Peel Away and it worked great.

    TOM: OK. And did you try the same product on the older brick?

    ARTHUR: I’m afraid to use it because it’s got a rougher finish.

    TOM: Well, that means you’re going to have more binding of the paint to the surface but what I would do is I would try it in an area that was perhaps a bit less conspicuous, you know, like not at eye level. Maybe down towards the bottom more if there’s any other area that you really don’t care as much about.

    If you had good success with that particular product, I don’t see any reason not to continue with it, at least to see what happens. Is this a product that is environmentally friendly? Or do you find that it’s pretty caustic?

    ARTHUR: It says it’s biodegradable and a water-based product but you do wear gloves and wear long sleeves. But it’s amazing how it works. I just – I’ve had people come by and say, “Well why aren’t you using sand-blasting or dry ice?” And I didn’t know if that is an option or …

    TOM: Well, here’s why you definitely can’t use sand-blasting, because those old bricks will be damaged by that process. And it’s costly, as well. So I would tell you if the product that you’re using is working well, I see no reason not to keep working with that. And I’m not really familiar with dry ice but I can’t imagine that that’s very easy to use. Certainly it’s very difficult to handle and potentially dangerous, as well.

    ARTHUR: Well, I don’t see it being – taking off paint very well.

    TOM: Yeah. I agree. I’d stick with what you’re working on. If you’ve got concerns about it, I would definitely try an inconspicuous area, whether that’s the back of the building or the bottom of the building, someplace that you don’t care about as much. We always give that advice when using a product like this. And then just go on from there.

    ARTHUR: OK. Hey, I really appreciate it and I love you guys’ show.

    TOM: Well, thanks, Art. Good luck with that project and congratulations. It sounds like it’s going to be a really beautiful building when you’re done.

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

    KATHY: Hi, I have an exterior basement window that I need to try to waterproof some way. The house was built in about 1924 and landscaping and surrounding drainage problems have been an issue in the past. But we need to try to somehow waterproof the exterior window for the basement so we don’t get water in there from outside.

    TOM: So does the – is this window above grade or is it below grade?

    KATHY: It’s right at grade.

    TOM: It’s right at grade? So the bottom of it is kind of level with grade? Do you have a window well around it?

    KATHY: No.

    TOM: And the water that you’re getting in there, is it leaking through the window as if the window is bad? Or is it leaking through the wall?

    KATHY: No, it’s coming in through the window.

    TOM: So, basically, you just have a leaky window. The fact that it happens to be above your basement is not really relevant here, because it could be leaking no matter where it was in the house. What kind of window is this? Is it a double-hung window or what?

    KATHY: No, it is a – just a wooden window with – I think it’s Plexiglas that was put in it. And I think it’s just probably getting old but we still need to try to keep the water away from the window because when we get heavy rains, we get a lot of water coming in there.

    TOM: Whenever someone tells me that heavy rain leads to leakage problems in that kind of a space, it’s always related to – the cause is always related to the grading and the drainage at the perimeter. And the two ways that are most common to address that is first, to get a good, careful, honest look at your gutter system. Because many folks have gutters that are undersized, they don’t have enough downspouts or most importantly, they often have the downspouts discharge right at the corner of the foundation. They don’t run that spout out 4 to 6 feet. So that’s the first thing that causes an increase in the drainage problems in the basement.

    KATHY: OK. There used to be gutters on there but because we’ve had renters in there over the past few years, the gutters are no longer there.

    TOM: Yeah. There’s your – that’s the number-one cause of your problem right now. I wouldn’t do a thing until I put gutters on that house. You’re fighting an uphill battle unless you get gutters on that house, because all that water is coming off the roof. And sure, it’s going to land in and around the window and that whole basement area. It’s going to saturate the soil at the foundation perimeter and it’s going to end up in your basement or at the least, it’s going to raise the humidity levels inside that house.

    So I wouldn’t do a thing to that window until I got gutters on and I would make sure the downspouts are extended out 4 to 6 feet. It’s really critical and a lot of folks think it’s just to kind of keep water off your head when you’re going in and out of your house. It’s not. Gutters have a very important structural purpose and that is to keep that water away from the foundation. So, that’s what I would do, Kathy, and I think you’re going to see a big improvement after that.

    KATHY: OK. Sounds great.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Pick up the phone and give us a call. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT. We want to help you get all of your home improvement projects done.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, drafts are the arch enemy of high heating bills. We’ll have tips on how to find and fix them, 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.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, would you like to win a RemoteLync camera from Kidde? Well, pick up the phone and call us with your how-to question at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got one to give away.

    It’s a battery-operated remote camera that alerts you, via your smartphone, when motion is detected inside your home while you’re away. It installs anywhere in minutes, with no tools, and it’s worth $199. Going out to one caller drawn at random. If you’d like a chance to win, pick up the phone and help yourself at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Heading to North Carolina where Steve is on the line with a window question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    STEVE: Hi. I have a 30-year-old home where I put vinyl replacement windows in. And here in North Carolina, of course, we have very hot and humid nights. And one thing I noticed in the mornings, there would be condensation around – well, you know, it’s got – the cross pieces in the panes of glass are internal, not external. But I would notice some condensation around those and around the edges. And even some mornings, they were – one, well, it’s a tri-level house and the downstairs is on a concrete slab. And even some of those windows are completely kind of covered with condensation. I just wondered, is that normal or is there something wrong with the installation?

    TOM: So, it’s not normal, Steve. What you’re seeing is result of lack of efficiency of either the glass or the window frames themselves. What’s happening here is the cool that you’re generating inside the house, that air-conditioned air is basically chilling the windows themselves. Then when the warm, moist air on the outside of your house strikes them, it condenses. Because if you think about it, as you cool the air, it releases the water. Same thing happens when you walk outside with a glass of iced tea and you get water that forms on the outside of it. It’s because of the condensation. It’s because it’s the warm air striking it. So it does point to a potential inefficiency of the windows.

    Now, because the moisture is forming on the outside and not on the outside, you don’t have to worry about leaks and damage. But I don’t think you should be seeing as much as you are. And it does speak to an issue that’s potentially wrong with the windows themselves.

    STEVE: OK. I guess the – contact the manufacturer. Because they are argon gas, I believe. The manufacturer, is that who I would contact or the installer or …?

    TOM: So if the windows are covered by a warranty, I certainly would reach out to the manufacturer, as well as the installer. I would reach out to both of them and raise the issue, explain it very clearly, send some photographs if you can and see if they’re willing to do something about it. Because I sense that the windows were not insulated very well, because that should not be happening.

    STEVE: OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much for your help. Love your program. Listen to it every Saturday night.

    TOM: Thank you so much, Steve. Good luck with that project.

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

    PEGGY: Well, we have a slab concrete bottom and they built up with the board skeleton and it’s covered with vinyl siding. And being Louisiana, it rains a lot. And the rain comes on the porch where it’s eating the inside walls, which is wooden on the bottom. And I want to know how I can seal the outside vinyl siding to concrete slab to keep the water from coming in.

    TOM: So what’s happening is that your concrete slab is in contact with the bottom of the vinyl siding? Is that correct?

    PEGGY: Yes.

    TOM: And right under that siding, is that a wood wall all the way down to the bottom where that slab is? Because typically, you’d have about 6 inches of foundation before you started the siding, at a minimum. And then the vinyl siding would start. So if your vinyl siding is going down flush to the slab, it’s going to be almost impossible for you to seal it in any way, shape or form from the outside and stop that from happening.

    Your only chance would be to take the siding off and then to install some flexible flashings. There’s different types of flashing that you can use. There are rubberized flashings that are very good because you can basically form them wherever you need, to get that entire area as tight as you possibly can. And then put the siding back on on top of that.

    Siding itself, especially vinyl siding, if you were to caulk that or anything of that nature, it’s not really designed to seal in that way. So I feel like you’re just going to be kind of running yourself in circles there. And while it could stop to some extent or slow down at least temporarily that leakage that you’re reporting, the only way to really fix that and to get to the bottom of it is to pull that siding off and to flash it. And we’re only talking about the bottom of the siding here, not all the siding on the house. But the bottom couple of pieces would have to come off to do this job.

    PEGGY: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you think about it, when a home gets built out of wood, it’s pretty much a hollow frame and everything that goes in after that framing is really designed to keep water and air out.

    TOM: Yeah. And despite the fact that the builders make a very good effort at this, there are many ways that your heated or even cooled air, for that matter, can escape into unconditioned spaces of your homes.

    Now, one way that can happen is through the attic-stair opening. So if you’ve got an access in your living space, the gaps around it can definitely be a source of that air leakage. The solution is to weather-strip those gaps to significantly reduce the amount of air that can be passing through those spaces and into your attic.

    LESLIE: Now, another place that can affect your home’s energy efficiency is the garage door. But that solution’s pretty simple. Now, you can actually insulate your garage door itself by cutting panels of foam insulation to fit inside the panels of the door. Now, not only is this going to insulate the garage and help keep your home warmer, it’ll actually keep the garage warmer if you use it for work or a hobby space.

    TOM: Yeah. And if your hobby is something that might be keeping the neighbors up at night, the insulation will also help muffle that sound. We’ve got more money-saving tips like that on our website at

    LESLIE: Bob in South Dakota is dealing with a drywall issue. What’s going on at your house?

    BOB: We have a 1990s home and we had sheetrock nails that were put in that began popping, mainly toward the ceiling area and corners – inside corners – especially. And we had a contractor do – redo some. We redid some ourselves. One of the things they did and we did is we just drove the nails in and covered them and put a screw maybe 2 to 3 inches from it. But the nails reappeared after we did it. What’s the answer?

    TOM: Well, it would if you just drove it back in and didn’t put a second nail that overlaps it.

    LESLIE: And then it’s in the same hole, so it’s given the same movement area.

    Now, what Tom mentioned with the second nail is you’re right putting a screw in; a screw is a great way to do that. But if you’re putting a screw in, I would have taken out the nail instead of giving it the space to come back out.

    But what you can do, if you see the nail to start backing its way out, you can take a second nail and overlap it so that the two heads would overlap. So when you drive in the second nail, it pushes that first nail back down with it and will keep it in its place. Because the new nail is in fresh wood, so it’ll stay there. And then you go ahead and cover over it and sand it and spackle it, everything. Make it nice and smooth to prime and paint.

    But a screw really is the best way, because those won’t back themselves out.

    BOB: What do you think, in your professional opinion – I’ve listened to your show a lot and just as a plug for you guys, thanks a lot for all of the helpful hints. But what do you think has caused those screws to pop like that – or nails, I should say?

    TOM: Normal expansion and contraction. You know, the nails that are used to attach drywall have a glue coating on them. They’re like a rosin coating. And when you drive the nail in, it’s supposed to kind of stick in the wall but it doesn’t. And as the walls expand and contract, they very often will back out. It’s really typical. It would be unusual for it, frankly, to not happen.

    But the key is that when it does happen, if you just drive it back in it’s going to happen all over again. But if you were to overlap the old nailhead with a new nailhead so that you’re now creating sort of a second nail and a second nail hole that’s holding it in place, that’s effective. Or you pull out the drywall nail altogether and replace it with a drywall screw and it will never pull out.

    The fact that you put the screw 2 or 3 inches from the old one will help keep that board tight but it’s not going to stop the drywall nail from expanding and contracting and pushing itself back out, as you’ve learned. You just – you really need to sort of reinforce it by overlapping the heads with a new nail.

    BOB: OK. Yeah, that sounds good. And I think, from what I’ve seen, if we pull the old nail and put a screw in a ways away, I think that’s the best solution. Because then we don’t have any possibility of anything happening there again and doing away with the situation completely.

    TOM: Trial and error is the best, right?

    BOB: Absolutely. Thank you guys so much. Thank you for the great show.

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

    LESLIE: Linda in Rhode Island is on the line and needs some help with winterizing the A/C unit. What’s going on?

    LINDA: Well, I was wondering if someone could give me this proper procedure to shut down the unit for the winter. Because it was not successful last winter, I ended up with a problem when I went to start it up in the spring. So I thought, perhaps, I had not done something that maybe should have been done that I wasn’t aware of.

    TOM: Ah, probably just bad luck, Linda. When you have an outside central air-conditioning compressor, there’s really not much to be done in the winter. Except that what we generally recommend is that you turn the power off to it and then you cover the top of it. One thing you don’t want to do is cover the sides of it, because you have to let moisture move in and move out.

    If you completely wrap it up – I’ve seen people completely wrap them up like a holiday package. Bad idea because that traps a lot of moisture inside. It can cause condensation and corrosion. You really just want to cover the top to kind of keep leaves out. But other than that, you just leave it exposed and nothing should happen to it as a result of that.

    LINDA: Oh, very good. Well, I certainly will follow that this year, because I did exactly what you said: I wrapped it up like a package thinking I was protecting it.

    TOM: And maybe that didn’t work out so well. So, yeah, I think you maybe gave it a little bit too much TLC. So just cover the top to stop the leaves from getting in but leave the sides open so it can air out properly, OK? So it can ventilate properly.

    LINDA: Well, thank you ever so much.

    TOM: Linda, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Up next, do you want to keep that heat in and the cold out and therefore keep those energy bills down? Well, replacement windows can help. We’ll highlight affordable options, 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.

    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: Standing by to take your call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Ernie in Arkansas on the line who needs some help with a flooring project. What are you working on?

    ERNIE: Well, it’s actually my son’s garage and he has a concrete floor, which is at ground level. And I’m really concerned about what kind of carpeting or wood I should put on that floor because I know concrete, of course, breathes and moisture will come up through it. So I want to make sure that I prevent any potential mold or mildew from putting the wrong thing down. Should I seal it first? So I really don’t know what to do. Or should I put some wood down on top of the concrete? I’m at a loss.

    TOM: So, has this garage been converted to an office already, I mean structurally speaking? What’s it look like now?

    ERNIE: No. It’s actually a 1-car garage – 1½-car garage – and it’s about 45, 50 feet long. So the cars are stacked in at – and the back of the garage actually has two nice-sized windows and a door that leads out to a patio. This is in Charleston, South Carolina. So it’s not unusual for them to have the first floor actually one story up. And that’s the way this is structured. And so we did build a wall about 12 feet out from the back. And our – we framed it in with a wall, I should say. And now I …

    TOM: OK. So you framed in kind of the back corner of the garage, it sounds like. Is that correct?

    ERNIE: Yes. That’s exactly right. The back corner. Correct.

    TOM: And how are you cooling and heating that space?

    ERNIE: Well, the – we are thinking about using a window air unit – heat-and-air unit.

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.

    ERNIE: This is a small space.

    TOM: Well, alright. So, one recommendation I might have for you is to look into a split-ductless because a split-ductless could provide both heat and air conditioning. And you wouldn’t have to give up your window for it. The unit kind of hangs on the wall. There’s a very small compressor that goes outside. Of course, it’s more expensive than a window unit but I think it’s a really good option. I’ve used them for years and they’re so quiet. I even have one in our studio because you just can’t hear it. So that’s an option for that.

    In terms of your flooring question, yeah, I think that you probably do want to be concerned about dampness and humidity. What kind of flooring do you want to put in? You mentioned carpet. Was that correct? Because that’s not a great thing to put on top of concrete.

    ERNIE: We were looking at some of that indoor-outdoor carpeting that they have, that they sell in some of the big-box retail stores.

    TOM: You know, I’d rather see you use a flooring that’s more durable for moisture. So a flooring like laminate flooring or engineered-hardwood flooring. And then if you want to bring in a touch of carpet, find yourself a nice throw rug that can look good, like an area rug.

    Yeah, I think having this hour carpet against the concrete surface – and even if you were to put a wood floor in there – of course, you’d have a step up to that if you did. Having that carpet in close proximity to that concrete is going to make it moist all the time. You have a lot of organic matter that gets trapped inside the carpet, in addition to insects, like dust mites. And so, environmentally, it’s not the healthiest way to go. You could have mold that would form, as well.

    So I don’t think carpet’s the right choice. I would use a laminate floor or I would use an engineered-hardwood floor. Or I might even use tile, which would be fine, as well. And then add yourself an area rug in there and it’ll look nicer, as well.

    ERNIE: Perfect. That’s what we’ll do. Yeah. We just were – we obviously did all the searches on Google and there were multiple responses to it and just didn’t feel comfortable with any of them. So I thought I’d give you a call.

    TOM: Well, that’s why. Because I think carpet on a – and I don’t ever keep carpet in a basement either, for the same reasons. We have carpet in our home on the second floor and it’s wonderful and it’s great when you get out of bed in the morning and you put your foot down on something soft. But an office space like that, you’re going to have a chair that you’re going to want to drag over it. And so you’re going to have to use one of those liners under the chair. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense. I would say that laminate is probably the toughest, least expensive way to go.

    ERNIE: Absolutely. Thanks for all your tips. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’ve got it, Ernie. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, if you’d like to keep home heating dollars from going out the windows, replacing those windows with more efficient models may be a good idea. Leaky and drafty windows waste the energy dollars that you spend to make your home comfortable. So, before home heating season kicks in, installing replacement windows can really deliver a very improved view of your energy efficiency.

    LESLIE: Now, replacement windows, they’re pretty easy to install. Now, unlike windows for new construction, replacement windows, these are designed to fit inside the existing window opening. And that’s going to allow you to actually leave the interior trim and frame and all that exterior siding right in place. You don’t have to touch it.

    TOM: Now, the key to a successful install, though, is to make sure the windows are measured correctly when they’re ordered. You need to be really sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Or better yet, ask your supplier to send out a pro to do that measuring for you. Because if you get the measuring right, the installation is really going to go smoothly.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the installation is actually pretty easy and it takes about an hour to do each window. Now, if you want to spread out the cost over several seasons, you might want to think about doing just maybe one side of your house a year. Now, if you want to save on those heating costs, you should start on the north side of your house. But if you’re looking to save on your cooling costs, you want to start on the south side.

    TOM: And if you don’t know where to start with your next home improvement project, pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Elizabeth in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ELIZABETH: I have an outdoor shower and all of a sudden, the pressure just went very, very low. So I didn’t know what to do with it.

    LESLIE: And it’s the only fixture that the pressure has changed on?

    ELIZABETH: The rest of the – my hoses are fine outside. Inside is fine.

    LESLIE: Well, have you thought about taking the showerhead off and sort of disassembling it? Because you may have just some sort of sediment or something that’s come in through the pipe and just sort of lodged itself at where the water outflow would come?

    So if you unscrew the showerhead, then sort of start taking that aerator apart – but remember the order in which you’re taking things out, because it’s got to go back in, obviously, in the opposite order. And I would just start taking things out and rinsing things off, because there could be just some debris – I mean especially if it’s an outdoor shower – just something clogging it up in there. And that usually does the trick. I would start there. Just make sure you put it all back in the correct order and it’ll work fine.

    ELIZABETH: I love the outdoor shower. It’s the greatest.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, now that it’s getting chilly out, many of you guys are turning to indoor improvements to get through the cold weather that’s ahead. Now, if you’re planning a bedroom makeover, we’re going to have some great décor ideas that could help you create a beautiful, new space on a budget, 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.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, 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. We’re going to help you with whatever it is you are working on. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a RemoteLync camera from Kidde.

    Now, this is a battery-operated remote camera and what it’s going to do is alert you, right on your smartphone, if it detects motion in your house while you’re away. Now, the RemoteLync installs anywhere in about a few minutes, no tools. And it’s got a magnetic base mounted with adhesive strips and that’s why it goes on so easy. Plus, that battery is going to last around three months on a single charge. So you’ll feel nice and safe when you’re away from home. It’s a prize valued at $199.

    TOM: Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Sherry in Georgia is on the line and needs some help revamping a dresser. Tell us about your project.

    SHERRY: Yes. I’ve got this dresser that my father found in a garage. It’s all wood and it’s beautiful but somebody has painted it white. And I would like to get the white paint off.

    LESLIE: For good or to put stain on or to paint over it again?

    SHERRY: Yeah, I’m thinking to put stain on. I think it’s all wood. It looks like a really nice piece of furniture. But it also has framed drawers. I don’t know; I guess that’s what it’s called. It has the wood around the drawers. So I’m thinking that’s going to make it really hard.

    LESLIE: So it’s like a glass front door with a wood frame?

    SHERRY: Well, it’s not glass. It’s all wood but the wood has a good frame around it.

    LESLIE: Alright. It shouldn’t be a problem.

    What you have to do is if there’s any doors or drawer fronts or things, you want to either pull out the drawers or just take off the drawer fronts. You really want to make it easy to work on things, so you need a lot of flat surfaces.

    So with the doors, with the framework, try to take them off if you can. Leave the hinges either on the door back or in the dresser itself. And then get everything on a flat surface. And you need to find a good paint remover, a stripper product. I’ve used Rock Miracle before. I like it because it’s got a really thick consistency and you kind of slather it on there. And you can actually see where it is, rather than brushing something on and making – wondering if you’ve covered all spots. And then you really want to follow the directions.

    So you have to let it sit on there as long as they tell you to. And then you want to use a paint scraper to gently sort of scrape the paint off the surface, because you don’t want to gouge anything into it. Because that will show up when you start working on it in the future. And you could have to do it a couple of times.

    Now, depending on the type of wood that’s underneath that white paint, you might not be able to get all of the paint off. So you really have to kind of experiment with it and see how well it is removable.

    And then once you’ve done that a couple of times, you’re going to wipe it down. Then you might still have to sand it in a couple of places with a very fine sandpaper, to make sure that you get all the last bits of the paint off. Then you want to wipe it down with a tack cloth and then prep it for staining.

    So, that’s when you really want to make sure that you’ve got it perfectly beautiful and clean and ready to go before you put the stain on. Because once you start to put the stain on, everything’s going to show.

    SHERRY: OK. Now, what was the name of that product again?

    LESLIE: I like one called Rock Miracle. It comes in what almost looks like a turpentine can. But there are all different kinds. So, you know, you might want to pop into your local home improvement center, ask them which one they like to work with because you might not be able to find Rock Miracle at your place. But definitely feel it out and ask somebody at your local home center what they recommend. But that’s the one I like; I’ve used it a lot of times.

    SHERRY: OK. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: You’re so welcome. Good luck with it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Well, with your kids off to college, maybe you’re looking forward to having an empty nest. But did you know that fall really is a great time to tackle home improvement and home décor projects? So maybe you want to plan a bedroom makeover. Well, here are a few tips, presented by C by GE’s new C-Sleep.

    And now this is a connected lighting system that’s going to help you get a good night’s sleep.

    TOM: Now, a spare bedroom can make a great home office, a craft room or even a home gym. And these uses are all easy enough to convert from a bedroom. And you can still have room for a bed or a pullout sofa in that same space to accommodate the guest. And if the kids do return home, converting those rooms back to bedrooms is also not a difficult project.

    LESLIE: But if your kids have left the nest for good, you can go ahead and splurge on this project. I mean you might even want to consider expanding your own bedroom, maybe break through a wall into one of the kids’ rooms. There’s a lot of great ways to get that master bedroom that you’ve always been dreaming of. And taking the kid’s room isn’t – it’s one of them.

    TOM: Now, no matter what you decide, you want to keep in mind that permanently removing a bedroom could impact your home’s value. However, with the popularity these days of the master-suite concept, where you have the beautiful bedroom and the beautiful bathroom and the big old closet, if you’ve added any of those to that space, you may be raising your value, as well. So it could all balance out.

    LESLIE: And today’s makeover tip has been presented by C-Sleep, part of the new line of connected bulbs from GE called C by GE. Now, if you’ve ever had any trouble sleeping at night, it turns out that the problem might actually be your bedroom’s lighting interrupting your body’s circadian rhythm.

    TOM: C-Sleep has morning, daytime and nighttime settings to provide you just the right light throughout the day. And it’s easily controlled from your smartphone via a Bluetooth connection. C-Sleep is available at Target in a two-pack for around 50 bucks and in a single-pack at Lowes for around 25. Learn more at

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Cody in Texas who’s got a safety question: the dryer vent has become disconnected.

    Yes, Cody, this is dangerous.

    CODY: Say, so I was up in the attic the other day and I saw some of the insulation blowing. The dryer was running at the time. And I walked over there and I could feel the air from the dryer blowing in from between the walls, you know? And that kind of concerned me.

    It seems to me like it’s not connected within the wall and it’s just blowing out. I’m wondering, is that a big deal? Do I need to go in the wall and replace that? Or is it going to be fine the way it is?

    TOM: No, it’s not fine at all the way it is, for two reasons. Number one, it’s a fire hazard because all that dust is being trapped inside that wall cavity; that’s a major fire hazard. And secondly, all that moisture from your wet clothes is being blown up into the attic in that insulation. And once it makes the insulation damp, the insulation does not work. If you even add a minor amount of moisture to insulation, it loses about a third of its R-value.

    So, you want to figure out what went wrong and get it fixed. It can vent up into the attic but it has to continue through the attic and out to an exterior wall or out to the roof or out to a soffit. So you need to figure out why it disconnected, what happened and get it fixed in the easiest way possible. But get that dryer vent pointed outside as quickly as you can.

    CODY: OK. I’ll do that. There’s some cabinets hanging above the dryer, so I guess I need to pull those off and cut into the sheetrock to try to see where the disconnect is.

    TOM: Well, maybe. Why don’t you just pull the dryer out to begin with, stick a light in that duct and see if it tells you anything and then go from there? Try to minimize the exploratory surgery, Cody. OK?

    CODY: Yeah, OK. I’ll do that. I appreciate it.

    TOM: The more you cut open, the more you’ve got to fix, man.

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

    Are too many trees stopping the sun from hitting your house? We’ll tell you what you can do to let the sun shine down, 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.

    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: Hey, have you ever wondered if all the chemicals in cleaning supplies are safe for your family? Well, it turns out that you might have everything you need for a clean and healthy house in your kitchen cabinets. You can get do-it-yourself recipes for natural cleaning products, using ingredients that are safe enough to eat. It’s on the home page, right now, at

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, post your question, just like Jillian in Oregon did. Jillian writes: “My roof and my house, for that matter, get barely any sun with all of the shade trees around here and gets very stained as a result. Many of them are evergreens, so the sun doesn’t even get through in the winter. Could I try to thin out the branches myself? Is this something I can do on my own?”

    TOM: Well, it’s a very dangerous thing for pros, not to mention for DIY-ers, for you to have to go up in a tree and thin out branches. Gravity can work against you and it really sucks when it wins. So, I certainly don’t recommend that you do that kind of work yourself, Jillian. But what you should do is, yes, have a pro come in and thin out those trees.

    In terms of the roof itself and the stains that are forming on the roof, you can apply a product called Spray & Forget. Now, what that will do is actually stop that mold and mildew, algae or moss from growing. And then over a short period of time, it will kind of disappear and go away. And now that you’ve thinned out the trees, the sun getting to that roof acts as a perfect, natural mildicide and will stop anything further from forming. But definitely not something you want to do yourself. It’s pretty dangerous to be up there at all, not to mention being up there with a chainsaw.

    LESLIE: Alright. Jack writes: “How do I check to see if I have lead pipes? My home was built in 1922 and I’m concerned.”

    TOM: Well, hopefully, between now and then your main has been replaced. But if you go down to the main pipe and you scrape it with the side of a knife, if you can see a very sort of dark gray but shiny surface coming up, then it’s probably lead.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And that’s not good, Jack.

    TOM: Well, are you sick and tired of waiting in line to take a shower or a long bath in your very own home? There’s a new design trend that can get rid of those waits and makes quite a statement. Leslie’s got the lowdown, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah. Whether you want to feel like royalty or you just want some added convenience, you might want to consider adding a bathtub to your bedroom. As it turns out, bathtubs were really common in bedrooms in the 19th century. And before moving forward with your modern take on this old-school trend, though, it’s important that you’ve got to make sure that your bedroom can actually hold a bathtub. Because think about it: a lot of water, bathtub, they weigh quite a bit.

    So the first thing you need to do is hire a few plumbers. They’ve got to come in, they’ve got to give you some quotes on what the cost is going to be to connect water and the drainage pipes and even tell you if it’s a possibility to get the bathtub into your bedroom area.

    Next – this is where the weight comes in, guys – you want to be careful. You’ve got to calculate the weight of the tub, not when it’s empty but when it’s full of water and your body weight. So you have to make sure that your bedroom floor is structurally sound enough to accommodate all of that added weight. Free-standing tubs, guys, they’re often heavier than the standard versions. So it’s not a bad idea to reinforce your floor, regardless.

    And if your bedroom is all carpeted, you want to make sure that the flooring material immediately surrounding the bottom of the tub is waterproof. And that’s going to keep the mold and mildew out of your luxurious, new bedroom.

    Now, don’t think you can just go ahead and plop a bathtub in the corner of your bedroom and be like, “Ooh, look how cool I am.” I mean this really needs to be a well thought-out design space that gives you some privacy in the bathing area, makes it more of a spa destination. Don’t just leap before you think about it. There’s a lot of great design inspiration online and make sure you do your research because it’s a great, new trend.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, decorative shutters look great and they add curb appeal. But real shutters are functional and they can actually help safeguard your windows in a storm and keep out that harsh sun in the winter. Tom Silva from This Old House will be stopping by with advice on how you can add these real shutters to your home, 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 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.)

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