Fast Fixes for Drywall Cracks # 0611181

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: What are you working on this summer weekend? If it’s your house, you’re in exactly the right place because we are, too. What a coincidence. We’re here to help you get those projects done around the house. Help yourself first: call us right now. Tell us what you’re working on, tell us what you want to do, what you plan to do, what maybe you give up on and need some help getting started again on. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, we’re going to start by teaching you how to repair a very annoying problem: drywall. You know, drywall walls are great but they get cracks, they get nail pops, they get seams that split open.

    And what happens, Leslie, is people fix them and then they fix them again.

    LESLIE: And again.

    TOM: And then they fix them again and again and again, because you’re not doing it right the first time. We’re going to tell you how to do it once and be done with it for the long haul.

    LESLIE: And also coming up, are you planning a new landscape and perhaps you’re at the point when you’re shopping for plants and materials? That really makes it a super-fun project. But when you actually start to dig and then you hit some big rocks, ugh, not so much fun there. But don’t give up your landscaping dreams just yet. We’re going to have tips to help you move mountains, just ahead.

    TOM: And are you considering redecorating your child’s room with furniture that maybe adds some style, organization and safety? We’ll tell you how to do that, as well.

    But first, we want to talk with you about what’s going on in your money pit. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Annette in Mississippi is on the line and has a flooring question. What can we do for you today?

    ANNETTE: I have ceramic tile in my kitchen and den. And I’ve noticed condensate on top of the surface of the tiles. And I was just wondering, what causes that?

    TOM: The difference between a cold floor and a warm, humid house. So, when you have – think about it this way. When you go outside in the summer and if you’ve got a cold glass – an ice-filled glass of water or iced tea – you get moisture on the outside of that glass. Well, why is that happening? Because warm, moist air is striking the outside of the glass, it’s cooling and it’s releasing the water, right? Because the warmer air holds more water than colder air.

    So in your house, you have, again, moist air striking a cold surface and it’s condensing. Dehumidifying that space can help. And there’s a couple of ways to do that, one of which is an appliance called a “whole-home dehumidifier.” It fits into your HVAC system and it can take out a lot of water – about 90 pints of water a day – out of the air. And it can also reduce the cost of air conditioning. Because everybody thinks that air conditioning is the only way to dehumidify a house. It’s actually not. And it’s not that good of a dehumidifier, frankly.

    If you were to add a whole-home dehumidifier, in addition to air conditioning, you will find that it will pull a lot of moisture out of the air and it’ll make the air a lot more comfortable and not quite so clammy. And it will dramatically reduce or completely eliminate the condensation that you’re getting now on your floors. Because that can get slippery, too, so you’ve got to be careful.

    ANNETTE: Right. Is that common for ceramic-tile floors?

    TOM: It’s not the material, OK? It’s the environment that’s causing this. It’s not the floor that’s making this happen, it’s the environment. So you have high humidity in your house. Why? I don’t know. But you want to check to make sure your bathroom exhaust fans are going outside and you want to make sure that your kitchen range duct/hood is ducting outside. You want to look at the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter. If you have a lot of water that piles along the outside of the foundation, overflowing gutters, that can raise the dampness and the humidity level. All those things contribute and you can certainly take a look at those things. But an appliance like a whole-home dehumidifier might be the best solution.

    OK, Annette?

    ANNETTE: OK. Well, I currently use just the single-room dehumidifier but – and I haven’t noticed it in any other place in the house. It’s just that one area.

    TOM: Yep. Well, this is an option. You could certainly try another dehumidifier in that space but it is an environmental issue and it’s not the building materials.

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

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

    STEVE: My daughter, about two years ago, bought her dream home, so to speak. She had it for years. Anyhow, she had this house inspected by a noted, reputable house inspector. And here about two weeks ago, I was in to change out the range or cook stove in the kitchen that was on a separate island. And putting in the new stove, I had to move the outlets. So I decided, well, I’m going to shut the power off because of the – where the screws and everything were.

    TOM: That was wise.

    STEVE: And I, yeah, went out to the breaker box. Figured it was the 50-amp breaker. Most of the stuff was not labeled or allegedly labeled. And I shut the 50-amp breaker off and came back in the kitchen and the lights went out. And I started thinking about it. They shouldn’t be on the 50-amp breaker but maybe it’s coming from the back of the stove. There was maybe a plug-in or something that they – anyhow, further checking, I found that virtually nothing in the kitchen had any ground wires, even though they were GFIC breakers or plug-in. I call them “breakers” but they do trip if there is a current demand or a supposedly …

    TOM: When you say ground wire, are you telling me it’s a two-wire system instead of a three-wire system?

    STEVE: There was – I opened the plate up on the breaker and there are no ground wires at all running anywhere. And most everything in the house has got a three-prong outlet.

    TOM: Because there was a time when you just had two wires; you didn’t have a third ground wire. And it was grounded through the neutral. So is that what you’re saying?

    STEVE: Well, none of the outlets, with the little cheap-y tester, show that it is grounded. It could be in the GFI breakers.

    TOM: That’s another – that’s a second issue, Steve, OK?

    STEVE: OK.

    TOM: Because you can use a ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet even if you don’t have a ground wire. Because, basically, you – it’s sort of a trick of the trade. But you can – you’re essentially creating the ground protection even though it’s not actually grounded. So if there’s a diversion of current to a ground source, it turns the outlet off. So, it’s possible to use a GFCI even if you don’t have that third wire.

    When was this house built?

    STEVE: Roughly ‘61 or roughly around ‘60 so …

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I mean it could have a two – it might be a two-wire house. So, look, if you have concerns about this …

    STEVE: Yeah, most everything was two-wire.

    TOM: Right. Well, then, it’s not that it’s not – the whole house is not grounded, it’s just it’s grounded through the neutral. And then you have a combination of three-prong outlets that don’t really have a ground wire attached to them. So, I get that. And that probably shouldn’t have been done and I’m sure there’s going to be work to be done to straighten that out.

    A home inspector should have, at least, tested a representative sample of outlets to see if they were grounded or ungrounded. And that would have been a very simple thing to do. But if that didn’t happen – and I’m sorry for that. But you may be wise to have a good electrician do an evaluation, to kind of get a good sense as to exactly where you are so that you don’t falsely rely on an outlet being grounded only to find out that it’s not. Because if it’s not grounded, guess who becomes the ground? You, right? You plug something in, you become the ground.

    STEVE: That’s what I was always told but …

    TOM: And that’s not good. So, the ground-fault outlets, you know, are a possible solution. But I think you need, at this point, to get a sense as to what you have and what you don’t have. I think you’ve identified some important issues, Steve, and I think the next step would be for you to bring in a pro. I would recommend as a good, independent site where you could consider a wide variety of electricians. And see if you can find one that is highly rated, that other folks have used and have been happy with. And maybe just start right there, OK?

    STEVE: OK. Good.

    TOM: Good luck, Steve. You’re a good dad. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. Give us a call. Let us help you out with whatever it is you are working on. We are here, standing by, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the best home service pros in your area. You can read reviews, compare prices and book appointments all online.

    TOM: Just ahead, are drywall repairs driving you nuts because you usually have to do them twice? We’ve got advice to help make sure they are one and done, after this.

    Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    LESLIE: Cindy in North Carolina is on the line and is having some issues with an epoxy floor coating.

    What happened, Cindy?

    CINDY: My husband and I have a townhome and it was owned by several other people. From what I understand, the previous owners used to fix cars in the garage, so – it’s a two-car garage. There are no cracks in the floor but it does have a very gritty surface to it and it looks horrible. I don’t really know what I can do. At first I thought, “Well, maybe I can just” – is there some kind of paint I can paint over it or maybe – or is it something where I have to do another epoxy on top of the epoxy? Is it something a typical homeowner can work on?

    TOM: Mm-hmm. So, Cindy, the floor that’s there now, is it well adhered to the concrete? Is it peeling off in any way or does it look like it’s pretty down there and pretty durable?

    CINDY: It looks like it’s on there pretty good.

    TOM: OK. So what I think you should do is clean it and then put another coat of epoxy on top of that – one or two coats over that. And I think that can brighten it up. So many choices and colors today and you’ve got manufacturers, like QUIKRETE, that make good products that can go there. There’s different types of texturing material you can add or color flakes you can add to give it some personality.

    But trying to take that off wouldn’t make any sense. I don’t think it’s really buying you anything. Even though it’s got a texture to it, I would paint over it after it was cleaned and properly prepped.

    CINDY: Can I ask how hard it is to handle the epoxy paint?

    TOM: It’s not difficult. The way it works is it’s chemical-cured. So when you buy epoxy paint, you actually get two cans.

    CINDY: OK.

    TOM: So you’ll get one that’s a gallon can but when you open it up, it’s only going to be filled three-quarters of the way. And then you’ll get a second can that’s a quart can and that’s the hardener. So the first thing you do when you open up the gallon can and the quart can is you mix them together. And that becomes the paint that you’re working with.

    Now, remember, though, once you start mixing them, the clock starts ticking. And you’re only going to have probably, I guess, maybe two, three hours to use it up. But it won’t take that long, because you’re going to be applying it with a brush first on the outside perimeter and then a roller. And then you kind of work your way out of the garage. And as you apply it wet and they usually – they’ll give you these color flakes that you kind of shake over it to give it that personality and they stick in there and you just keep moving.

    CINDY: Right.

    TOM: And I would do a 4-foot strip – wide strip – all the way down, then I would put my color flakes in. Then I would do another 4 foot and another 4 foot and pretty soon you’ll be right out the door. They’re really not that hard to do. The key is just to be organized and to prep it properly so that once you actually mix up the paint, you’re good to go.

    LESLIE: And then don’t paint yourself in a corner.

    TOM: Yeah.

    CINDY: Would I need more than one can for a two-car garage, as far as you know?

    TOM: I would check the coverage on the can to see how many square feet that it covers.

    LESLIE: Yeah. A gallon usually does 400 square feet, so …

    CINDY: So, realistically, it’s something I can do in a couple of hours or …?

    TOM: Oh, absolutely.

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. For sure.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm.

    CINDY: OK. Alright. Well, that sounds great. I really was afraid it was going to be a lot harder than that.

    TOM: Dive in, Debbie. The water’s fine.

    CINDY: OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

    CINDY: Thank you. Bye-bye.

    TOM: And once Debbie tackles that, who knows where she’ll go, right? I mean it just takes one project to kind of get your confidence up and away you go.

    Well, drywall repairs are some of the most common home maintenance chores that homeowners have to take on. But if you don’t do them right, you’ll be doing them again and again and again.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Truly, again and again and again. Now, the three most common types of drywall repairs needed are nail pops and holes and cracks.

    Now, nail pops result from a nail that has loosened and then starts to back its way out of the drywall. You can simply tap it back in and then drive a new nail right next to it. You want to make sure that you cover the head of the old nail with the head of the new one. Then spackle the area, smooth it, allow it to dry well, sand and then touch up the entire area.

    Now, you can use drywall screws instead of nails altogether and that will avoid that problem in the future. There’s no way a screw is going to back itself out.

    TOM: Now, the best way for you to fix a wall or a ceiling crack is to use a strong, perforated drywall tape. Now, this type of tape has sort of large squares and looks almost like netting. You want to apply this first to kind of bridge the gap in the crack and then smooth a generous supply of spackle or mud over the wall or ceiling crack. And once that area is dry, it could be sanded and then repainted.

    LESLIE: Now, for holes, there is no kit needed. You just need a scrap of drywall, a leftover piece of window screening, some joint compound and a few common tools truly are all it takes. Our favorite patching method includes a great tip: now, if you cut the hole to fit the patch and not the other way around, even if it means making that hole a little bit bigger, that will ensure foolproof patching success. This method really is virtually foolproof.

    TOM: Now, when you’re working with a joint compound, it’s kind of like an art. You want to apply thin coats and don’t fuss with it. After two or three strokes, leave it alone until it’s dry. Then sand and paint and you are as good as new.

    888-666-3974. If you’ve got a project that you’re working on, give us a call. We’d love to help, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Vinnie in Pennsylvania is on the line and needs some help leveling out a yard. Tell us what you’re working on.

    VINNIE: We recently purchased our first home and the backyard has somewhat of a swale effect, kind of like between two crests of a wave. And we’re thinking about bringing in, I don’t know, 9, 10 dump trucks’ worth of dirt to flatten it. And we’re not sure if, first if all, if that’s a good idea and second of all, what implications may come of that with effects of rain and things I’ll have to worry about with the neighbors next to me.

    TOM: When you say that the yard is sort of a wave, can you be a little more specific than that, Vinnie?

    VINNIE: Yeah, sure. The back of the house is level but then the yard will slowly, gradually crest like a hill and then go downwards. And then as it nears the back of the property and the alleyway, the property comes back up. So it’s almost like a low U-shape.

    TOM: OK. So, let me ask you this: from the foundation outward, does the property slope away from the house?

    VINNIE: It does.

    TOM: Is water able to run completely away from the house, through that normal drainage?

    VINNIE: Yeah. Water can normally drain away from the house.

    TOM: So it’s just that it pitches downward and you want to kind of bring it up a little bit. Is that what I’m hearing?

    VINNIE: Yeah. And all the way at the back end of the property, where the property meets the road in the back, that’s also the low – the level of the back of the house.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Right. OK.

    VINNIE: So if we were to level it, it would be a nice, slowly grading property.

    TOM: If you want to add that much soil, it sounds like you’re talking an awful lot of soil. And if you add too much of it, it’s just going to kind of wash away. Typically, if you need to raise a soil level that much, you have to use something to retain it, like a retaining wall. Either a stone wall or a wood wall. You know, adding soil to the top of that is enabling it to build up. It’s probably not the best strategy because it’s not going to have any root growth in there. It’s not going to be compacted. You’d have to get the grass to really knit and I’m afraid that you’d get a lot of erosion, especially if you get a lot of heavy rain.

    If the water – is the water ponding anywhere? Is that part of the issue? Is it getting stuck anywhere or is it completely draining properly?

    VINNIE: Well, it doesn’t pond but because it’s so low effect, it’s definitely more wet than soupier.

    TOM: So there’s a different solution to that and it’s called a “curtain drain.”

    Now, what a curtain drain is is a drain that sits just below the top of the soil and it sits in a trench. It’s perforated pipe and the water runs to it, right? It runs to it and then it fills in the pipe and then the pipe runs further downhill and out to daylight somewhere. And then that drains that swampy area. So, that’s the way to solve that. And I don’t think adding soil is the solution; I think you’ve got to get rid of the water. And a curtain drain – sometimes called a “French drain” but more accurately, it’s a curtain drain – will do just that.

    Sometimes we see properties that slope away from the building but then the water gets stuck somewhere in the middle of the backyard. And the curtain drain is the way to do that. Once it’s installed, you’re never going to see it because it’s below the surface. But basically, it’s a trench that’s roughly 12×12 and you’ve got some stone in the bottom of it. Then the curtain drain is covered by more stone, a filter cloth and then soil and seed or soil and sod and it becomes invisible. But as the water runs there, it falls into the trench, fills up in the pipe and then shoots out the end. Does that make sense?

    VINNIE: Yeah. So you don’t think that bringing in that dirt and even putting a retaining wall would help? It would be more of an …

    TOM: If you put a retaining wall in, you could do it but it’s just going to be a really big job. And it doesn’t sound like it’s that traumatic to you.

    I tell you what, if you want to take some pictures of your backyard and post them in The Money Pit’s Community section, we can take another look and see if we’d like to modify that answer. But I suspect that just dealing with the drainage is going to be the best way for you to handle this.

    VINNIE: OK. Sure. I’ve heard of a French drain. People have been telling me about that. But I think I’ll look into that. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, are you planning a new landscape and you’ve already started shopping for those plants and the materials? You know you’re having a great time. That’s the fun part. But not so fun is when you start to dig and you hit those big rocks. But seriously, guys, don’t give up your dream on those landscaping plans just yet. We’ve got landscaping contractor Roger Cook from This Old House stopping by to tell us how to get rid of those big boulders.

    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: Love to hear from you about the project you’re working on on your money pit. Is it inside? Is it outside? Are you trying to spiff up your deck or your patio or maybe planning a new kitchen? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Heading to Nebraska now where Ellie is on the line with a window question. What can we do for you today?

    ELLIE: I’m replacing a window in the lower level of our home and I was wondering if you had an opinion as to what would be the best material for the window. Vinyl? Wood? Composite?

    TOM: What kind of a window do you have there now? Is it a standard sort of double-hung window?

    ELLIE: No. It’s actually five windows in one. It’s 9 foot by 3 foot.

    TOM: Oh, that’s a big job. Yeah. My first point would be that you need to make sure you’re buying an energy-efficient window. Because with a space that big, you want to make sure that you’re using well-insulated glass. So I would only buy one that was ENERGY STAR-rated.

    ELLIE: OK.

    TOM: And you want to make sure that the glass is going to have a low-emissivity coating or a low-E coating, because what that does is that reflects the sunlight back out so that it doesn’t overheat your house. Otherwise, you’re going to heat that space up like a big, old greenhouse with a 9-foot window.

    In terms of the material itself, I think outside the house, you want something that’s very, very weatherproof, like vinyl. And inside the house, depending on the window you buy, it can be wood or it could be vinyl. So if you look at a window like an Andersen window, they have beautiful windows that are wood on the inside and vinyl on the outside. It kind of gives you the best of both worlds. But again, there are many different types of manufacturers out there. The most important thing is not as much the material but the certification, to make sure that it’s an efficient window that’s going to perform well for you and last a long, long time.

    ELLIE: We will look for those energy ratings then.

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

    LESLIE: Planning a new landscaping project and then shopping for the plants and all the materials can really be a fun project. But when you start to actually dig and then you hit big rocks, well, not so much.

    TOM: And it only gets worse if you find that you have just begun to unearth not just any rock but one big enough to truly qualify as a boulder. You don’t have to give up those landscaping plans just yet. Landscaping contractor Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House, is here to tell us how to get rid of it.

    Roger, hearing that telltale ping of the shovel striking a seemingly immovable object can be a pretty depressing moment in a landscaping project for most people.

    ROGER: Well, do what I tell most people: sell the house and move to one that doesn’t have any boulders.

    LESLIE: Pick a new spot.

    ROGER: There you go.

    Well, you really have to get creative when you hit rock. The first thing you want to do is try to find out how big the rock you’ve hit is.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: And that can involve digging around with a shovel or taking an iron bar or go around and feeling your way out. Fortunately, if it’s for a plant bed, you may have the ability to build up on top of it or move slightly and still be able to get in. In one case, on Ask This Old House, we were putting in a wall and we had to remove some rock that was right in the middle of where the wall had to go.

    TOM: Now, if the wall is going to sit on top of the rock and the rock is a pretty good piece of the foundation, as well, is there any chance that the building inspector would let you build on top of it?

    ROGER: Oh, absolutely. But the problem is if the rock sticks out into where the wall is going to go, beyond what would have been the face of the wall. And that’s what we had there.

    So we started off by drilling some small ½-inch holes and using what are called “feathers and wedges.” It’s a wedge that slides into the hole between the feathers.

    LESLIE: And what’s a feather exactly?

    ROGER: Piece of steel that sits on the outside of the hole so that the wedge has some steel to push against.

    LESLIE: Gotcha.

    ROGER: Think of it as a steel V and then you put the wedge right down into the middle. Then you start tapping them lightly, lightly tapping them and work your way down. And it exerts enough pressure that it pops a piece of the rock out. Depending on what type of stone it is, some will split better than others.

    TOM: And how big of a section can you split with the feather-and-wedge approach?

    ROGER: Probably like a 2- or 3-inch section.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: You’re not going to get a whole lot off of there at one time. And that’s why we sometimes switch to a big compressor with a probably 3-inch drill and drill some really serious holes in there. And then you use a huge feather with big wedges and break off the stone better that way. But that’s …

    LESLIE: Now, is the goal to completely remove this rock or just get enough of it off to make your project work?

    ROGER: All we’re trying to do is get enough of it off to make the project work. If we’re trying to completely remove it, we would probably come in with a huge excavator and dig a big hole in the yard until we got rid of that stone – hopefully got rid of that stone.

    There’s one other thing that’s new and we – I haven’t tried it yet and I’ve been just reading about it. And it’s called a “non-explosive cracking agent.”

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: And this is a powder that you mix up. You drill holes in the stone and then you put it in the holes. And then, overnight, it expands and exerts 12,000 psi on the sides of that hole and will crack the stone.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    TOM: Oh, interesting.

    ROGER: I’ve seen it done before but I have not done it myself yet. But it’s going to be an interesting thing to try.

    TOM: Yeah, now that sounds like what happens when water gets into soil and it freezes and it expands. If this is an agent that’s designed specifically to transmit an incredible amount of force, that would break that rock right apart.

    ROGER: Right. You think about ice gets in and over time, very slowly, it’ll break off a piece of rock. This does it overnight.

    TOM: Now, how big of a rock do you think you could split with something like that?

    ROGER: The ones I saw were pretty big boulders, like 3 or 4 feet across.

    TOM: Wow.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    TOM: Wow, that’s quite a bit.

    Now, if you do need to go out and rent some equipment to help you with this, is that something that would be at a local rental yard? Are we talking about sort of jackhammers and big compressors and that sort of thing?

    ROGER: Exactly. You can get it all from a rental place and bring it home. And it’s a lot of work. I will tell you, leave a whole day, if not two days, to do this and have someone to help you. Because running an 80-pound jackhammer for a while becomes really tiring.

    LESLIE: And if these are tools that you’re not familiar with, I mean really read the directions, get proper safety gear, earphones, safety goggles. You need all of that, correct?

    ROGER: Exactly. You have to be safe. You’re drilling a hole in rock and the rock is flying everywhere while you’re drilling. So you’ve got to be real careful and so do the people around you.

    TOM: And you might just want to consider that that landscaping project will look just as good 2 feet to the left.

    ROGER: Not a bad idea. I’d rather see you put the time and energy into plants than into the rocks. So, yeah, let’s see if we can slide the bed over a little bit.

    TOM: Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and to watch a step-by-step video on this fun boulder-removing project, you can visit

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by American Standard.

    Up next, are you ready to spruce up your baby’s room with furniture that adds style, organization and safety? We’ll have tips to do just that, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated home improvement pros for any home project. Simply go to

    LESLIE: Joe in Delaware is on the line with a question about a metal roof. What can we do for you?

    JOE: I’m looking for a roof that has standing seam and it’s about maybe 24 or 30 inches wide. But I want a good roof. Now, do they make them in different grades of metal? Do they have a 20-year or a 50-year roof?

    TOM: Well, if you’re talking about a metal roof, that’s going to be more like a 50- to 100-year roof that – when it’s done right. There’s a really good website that will educate you thoroughly about metal roofing and it’s done by a manufacturer’s association. It’s called the Metal Roofing Alliance. It’s simply

    And they’ve got a great section about Metal Roofing 101 and all of the basics and all the options for you to consider when it comes to metal roofing. But I tell you, it’s never been better. Because first of all, metal roofing has always been great. Because if you ever see an old building with a metal roof that’s been properly maintained, it’s still probably in good structural shape because they just don’t wear out. But today, the metal roofing is not only made better, it’s coated with low-E paint so that when the sun beats down on it, it can reflect a lot of the heat off of the roof. And that lowers your cooling costs, too.

    So, I would definitely consider it. It’s an investment-grade roof in the sense that you’re going to have to do it once and do it right and you’re not going to have to do it again for 100 years, you know? So you know it lasts forever, it’s fire-resistant. So I would definitely consider it.

    LESLIE: They look really good, too.

    TOM: Yeah, they’re beautiful.

    JOE: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    Well, are you ready to spruce up your child’s room with furniture that adds style, organization and safety? Here are some smart ideas to help.

    First, always look for furniture pieces that are durable, classically styled and that work for a range of ages. We call these “convertible furniture.” A crib that morphs into a starter bed is a smart choice. But even if you just shop for finishes, look for ones that coordinate well with additions you might add later on. And this way, you’ll be in good shape when it’s time to update the room.

    LESLIE: Yeah. That’s really a smart move.

    Now, you can bring the fun of vintage graphics and styling to a room with cool furnishings and accessories that you might find at antique shows, tag sales and even those online treasure troves. Now, this approach works for kid spaces, too, with a few precautions. You want to steer clear of anything with a chippy, even possibly lead-based finish. So if it doesn’t look like the finish is in great shape, skip over that one.

    Going with vintage furniture is also possibly a budget-friendly move. But if you go vintage, go carefully. You want to avoid cribs and other furnishings with out-of-date latches, hardware and construction. And make sure that any railings or open-work trims won’t allow inquiring hands or heads to get stuck. I mean it’s amazing to me how tiny of an opening these kids can sort of squiggle their ways into and then suddenly become stuck.

    You want to make sure that your furniture is safe, also, so search the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. It’s You can check there for recalls to make sure any vintage finds that you like aren’t going to create an unsafe situation in your house.

    TOM: And lastly, choose colors that are timeless, why don’t you? If you don’t mind repainting over the current color a few years from now, great. But remember, there’s a lot you can do to update the look of furniture that’s chosen well without having to paint or repaper, if they’ve been selected with a fair amount of sort of neutrality in mind.

    For more tips, you can check out our latest post: “Create a Kids Room That Will Grow with Your Child.” It’s on right now.

    Darlene in New York, you’re next on The Money Pit. How can we help?

    DARLENE: Hi. I seem to be having a problem with a woodchuck. It goes from my neighbor’s shed in the backyard to the – to across our yard, into the other yard.

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.

    DARLENE: And we’re getting all holes in our backyard. They’re destroying our yard.

    TOM: Now, you’re sure they’re woodchucks and not moles?

    DARLENE: No, they’re huge.

    TOM: OK.

    DARLENE: It’s a mother and maybe three babies.

    TOM: Alright. Well, there’s a couple of things that you can do to kind of discourage woodchucks. One of them I’m not sure applies to you and that is just to make sure your yard is less attractive to woodchucks by removing any kinds of stumps or wood or brush piles. They do like to chew on wood to keep their teeth filed down. So if there’s some good stuff around your yard, they’re going to be gnawing at that.

    The other thing that you can do is to repel the woodchucks with something like hot-pepper spray. If you have liquid-pepper spray or hot-pepper spray, you can spray it in the holes and they will not go in there. They do not like that. Or you can use one of their natural predators, which is fox or dog or raccoon. That’s available as a spray and it basically replicates their urine and kind of keeps them away.

    And then on your plants, if you were to apply something like a Deer Off type of a spray, which basically sits on the leaves of the plants or the bushes – and if the woodchuck was to eat it, it has a really nasty taste to it and that keeps them away, as well. So there’s a couple of things that you can try without calling in a pro, to see if we can try to minimize the woodchuck visit to your backyard.

    DARLENE: OK. So if I do use the hot-pepper spray then, I just spray it inside of the holes in our yard?

    TOM: Yeah, in that area, right, to kind of discourage them from using them. And maybe they will not create any more. That’s what we hope, alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Coming up, questions from The Money Pit’s online community. You can check it out now at

    TOM: And this week, we’re helping Steven with his water-temperature problems. He wants to know why hot water works fine for most of the house but not all the faucets. Does that ever happen to you? We’ll have a solution, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    TOM: Give us a call with your home improvement question or post it to the Community page, just like Steven did, who apparently is running out of hot water.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Steven writes: “I own a two-story house with hot water that consistently runs out at just two faucets while the rest seem fine. Any suggestions?”

    TOM: You know, the fact that you’ve got all these other faucets working fine and only two that don’t means we can eliminate the problem is with the water heater or the water pump. It’s got to be in the valves or faucets themselves. If the valves are not fully open, it’s possible that when it heats up, it could expand and interrupt that mix of hot and cold water. The same could happen internally for the faucet, so I would concentrate your search for your plumbing system and not so much on the water heater or pump itself.

    I mean it’s probably worth just replacing one of those faucets to see if it makes a difference. I suspect that it will.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post here from Abby who writes: “I’m a novice when it comes to home improvement DIY work. And I’m interested in refinishing to fix some sun damage on my front door but wondering how to sand and prep the door to get it all ready.”

    TOM: Well, that’s a fun project. Now, you did that one, didn’t you, Leslie? You have a beautiful wood door that you had refinished.

    LESLIE: I have a gorgeous front door. The problem is you have to take it off the hinges and lay it down flat, plain and simple.

    TOM: Yep. That’s right.

    LESLIE: So you have to have a plan for that.

    TOM: Yeah. Because gravity being what it is – and it helps to have it be level. But I think if you plan it right, you can. You’re going to need some help, because doors are heavy. But if you get that door off of the hinges – you pull those three hinge pins, lay it down flat. And then it also helps if you have a sander, like a power sander, like a half-sheet sander?

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: It is so worth – even if you’re never going to do a sanding project again, it is so worth going out and buying an inexpensive sander, like maybe a RYOBI or a Black & Decker that – probably 20, 25 bucks.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: It will save you so much aggravation. And you could sand that door. Make sure you get that finish off. Get it down to the raw wood if that’s how far you want to go with it. And then you want to make sure that you go ahead and put a very good coat of stain and then probably two or three coats of urethane on that. And you want to make sure you’re using an exterior urethane because it has more UV protection in it. If it doesn’t have UV protection in it, it’s just going to peel off and last a very short period of time.

    If you want the best type of finish, you could use marine varnish. That’s what they use on boats. That has the maximum amount of protection in it. Now, it’s going to be solvent-based, so it’s not water cleanup, but it’s worth it. Get the turpentine, clean up the brushes. Because you want to do this job once, do it right and not do it for a decade, right?

    LESLIE: And not do it again for a long time. Right.

    TOM: Totally.

    LESLIE: And the whole interesting part of this project is what do you do when the door is down? At my house, I don’t have a screen door.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: So, for me, it was a lot of figuring out – “What do I do with the dog? How do I keep the bugs out?”

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: It had to be the perfect-temperature day so the house wasn’t hot or cold. And I had to make sure that the finish was handleable enough that I could put the door back on at the end of the day, so …

    TOM: Yeah. Because you can’t leave it off overnight.

    LESLIE: No. It was really a juggling event of the day. We couldn’t go anywhere. Stay put.

    TOM: Yeah. Think about it, if it’s a nice day, if you start early, you get the door of the hinges. You sand it, you put your first coat on. As long as it doesn’t rain, you get two or three hours of dry time, you could put the door back on.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: And then don’t rush it. Let it sit, even if you have to wait two days to do the next coat. And then just do it like that. When you have a clear day and you have time, take it off and do the finishing and then put it back on. It won’t take that long to finish and it’s a really easy job. And I think it will be very well worth it.

    LESLIE: And hopefully, you have a screen door, which will make your life a lot easier. Just saying.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit. Thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope we’ve given you some ideas, some inspiration to take on some projects that you’ve been thinking about doing around your house. If you get stuck, remember we are a call away at 888-MONEY-PIT. You can call us any time of the day or night. If we’re not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are.

    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 2018 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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