Fast Fixes to Step Up Home Value

  • Selling a Home
  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: What are you working on this beautiful September day? If it’s in your house, you are in the right place. We’re here to help you with those home improvement, those décor projects. We’re trying to stop you from becoming a do-it-to-yourselfer by taking on more than, perhaps, you can handle. But whatever it is, give us a call because we would love to lend a hand. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, if you’re planning to put your home on the market, getting it ready is no small feat. We’re going to share a few quick and easy and inexpensive projects that will add value immediately and that buyers will absolutely love.

    LESLIE: Plus, one home improvement that consistently delivers the best return on investment is a new kitchen. But how do you actually get started on planning such a major makeover? We’re going to share some tips, in just a bit.

    TOM: And if you’re about to close a vacation home or a boat or an RV, there’s a good chance you may find mold when you open it up next spring. But not if you follow our tips to stop mold cold. We’ll have those, in just a bit.

    So first, though, give us a call right now. We want to hear what you’re working on. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Pam in Colorado is on the line. How can we help you today?

    PAM: We have floors throughout our house. Most of them are carpeted that squeaks, like bedrooms, hallway, living room, stairs, things like that and then a bathroom that has the vinyl flooring – the laminate flooring. And we’ve tried – there was a little kit that you could buy at Ace Hardware where you find the floor joists and then you put screws every so often down into the joists, I guess, and that didn’t work. It only made it worse.

    TOM: So you’re trying to fix a squeaky floor that’s under what kind of flooring material? Carpet?

    PAM: Yes, carpet. I’m sorry, yes, carpet.

    TOM: Alright. And it’s wall-to-wall carpet?

    PAM: Yes, it is.

    TOM: Alright. So, here’s the trick of the trade, Pam. You ready?

    PAM: I am ready. I am so ready.

    TOM: What you want to do – the first thing you need is a good stud finder. You’re going to get a Stanley stud sensor so that you can use a device – electronic device. It’ll allow you to sort of peek through the carpet and identify exactly where the floor joists are below.

    And once you identify the floor joists, what you’re going to do is take a Number 10 or Number 12 galvanized finish nail. And we say “galvanized” because it’s a little rougher than a regular, plated finish nail; it tends to hold better. And then you’re going to drive that at a slight angle, like about a 15-degree angle, right through the carpet and right through the subfloor and right into the floor joist.

    Now, when you do that, you’ll notice that the carpet sort of sags down and gets dimpled where the nailhead goes through. The trick is to grab the nap of the carpet right around the nailhead and pull it through the nailhead. It’ll pop through and then you sort of brush the carpet and you’ll – that nail will disappear below it and you won’t see it again. So you can get away with actually fixing a squeak through carpet with this trick of the trade.

    PAM: Oh, wow. That would be awesome. And again, could you tell me the type of nail one more time?

    TOM: Yeah, a Number 10 or a Number 12 galvanized finish nail.

    PAM: OK. Number 10 or Number 12, floor joist at a 15-degree angle.

    TOM: Yeah. But you’ve got to find that joist or you’re – you can’t be nailing into air, you know? You want to make sure you’re nailing into the floor joist, OK?

    PAM: OK. Thanks so much. You have an awesome show.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rick in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with a sinking driveway. Tell us what’s going on.

    RICK: It’s starting to drop down. The house is a townhouse, actually, and it’s only about eight years old. What’s happening is my driveway is sinking down about an inch-and-a-half from my garage floor and I don’t know for sure how to cure this. It’s starting to crack down. I’ve got a crack about, oh, probably 6 foot going down from the garage.

    TOM: So tell me something, Rick. Because it’s a townhouse, are you responsible for the driveway?

    RICK: Yes, I am.

    TOM: OK. Hmm. Well, unfortunately, the reason it happens is – and especially in a newer townhouse like this – is it’s obviously the last thing that’s installed. And all of the soil that was excavated to build that townhouse settles and it settles a lot in the first decade that the home is up. And the driveway, they probably didn’t do a very good job tamping down that soil and properly preparing the base, so that’s kind of what you’re stuck with.

    So your options are to put an additional layer on the driveway or to tear it up and build it anew from scratch and kind of do it right. I would be tempted, since it’s down an inch-and-a-half, to put another layer on that because the settlement on it is probably fairly slow. And I think you could probably get away with putting another layer on and get away with it for several years. And at that point, if it settles any further, you can go ahead and tear it up.

    But you might want to get prices both ways. Because if you tear it up and you put in a proper stone base and it’s tamped correctly, the driveway doesn’t have to ever crack. But the standards, in terms of what makes a good driveway, have to be kind of established.

    A driveway is a light-duty version of a road and you don’t see roads sink and crack that readily but you see that more with driveways because the contractors don’t put the stone depth into it, they don’t compact it like you do a road. And you can do all that and have a driveway be permanent.

    But I think I would also think about how long I’m going to be in the townhouse. If it’s a really long-term home for me, then I’m more likely to make a deeper investment than if it’s a short-term home.

    Alright, Rick. Well, there’s your options. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mary in Illinois is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?

    MARY: I want to paint a fireplace that’s brick and just want to know if there’s – if you can do that, first of all, and if there’s a certain kind of paint you need to use.

    LESLIE: Has it been painted before or is it natural brick?

    MARY: No. It’s natural brick – original brick.

    TOM: Well, you certainly can paint it but I would think very carefully before you do this. Because once you paint, you have to repaint eventually. And fireplaces tend to get very dirty and very smoky and they’re hard to keep clean. If it’s just the color that you don’t like, there may be some ways to sort of decorate around that color. But I would really hesitate to tell you to paint it.

    We get a lot of calls from folks that are not happy with a painted fireplace and they want to know how to do the exact opposite, which is get the paint off. And once you paint it, it’s just really hard to do that.

    MARY: OK. I was kind of worried about whether it would peel or – when you say just to – you just have to keep repainting because of …

    LESLIE: Well, paint, over time, is going to crack and dry out. And it will get so dirty, just from the exhaust and the use of the fireplace, that you’ll get sort of that haze around the upper portion of it regardless of what type of screen you have.

    Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that since this will be its first time being painted, the brick is so porous that you’re going to put a lot of time into priming, because it’s just going to absorb all of that primer. And you want to get a good-quality primer, you want to make sure that you brush in the grout lines, roll on the surfaces of the brick, brush again. So it’s a lot of steps. It can be done.

    But as Tom said, if you want to take that paint off, it’s now a chemical stripper. And because that brick is so porous, it’s going to have sucked in all of that color and so it’ll never get back to that original brick look again. It’ll have that sort of hue of whatever color it was.

    MARY: Uh-huh. OK. OK. Great. Well, thank you for your help. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Still ahead, getting your home ready to sell is no small feat. But we can help you figure out what buyers are looking for. Learn three simple things that you can do to increase your home’s value instantly, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by You’ll never have to worry about overpaying for a job. Just use their True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project and then get matched with top-rated pros, read reviews, get quotes and book appointments. It’s all for free at

    LESLIE: Brian in Arkansas is on the line and has a mysterious odor in the house. What’s going on?

    BRIAN: I’ve got a crawlspace under my house of about 1,900 square feet. And we’ve noticed, the last several years – only in the summer, when we go away for the long weekend – we come back on a Sunday night and there’s a peculiar odor in the house. It’s a musty smell, if you will, but again only in the summertime.

    TOM: Well, it’s typically more humid in the summer and you mentioned that it only happens when you’re away. So you have less air movement inside the house, doors are not being opened and closed. Is this crawlspace – under your house, does it have a vapor barrier over it, Brian?

    BRIAN: Well, when the house was built 15 years ago, they put down some probably 4- or 6-mil sheeting but it wasn’t completely encapsulated. So, what I have done, in the last two weeks, is gotten some 15-mil poly and I have totally encapsulated under the house. I’ve lapped the pillars, I’ve sealed the walls and I’ve taped the seams.

    TOM: So that’s great. So, something else that you can do is you could add an exhaust fan into that crawlspace and have it set to work off a humidistat. And the way you do that is they have crawlspace fans that are basically 8×16 inches, which is the same size as a concrete block. So in lieu of one of the vents, you install this fan in and you wire it to a humidistat, maybe mounted somewhere in the middle of the crawlspace. And then when the moisture gets really high, the humidistat will kick on the fan and it will draw some drier air through the crawlspace.

    Now, the third thing that you can do is just to be very careful with your outdoor-drainage maintenance. So by that I mean make sure you have gutters on the house, that the downspouts are discharging away from the house and that the soil around the crawlspace perimeter slopes away from the house. By trying to keep that water away from those walls, you will reduce the amount of moisture that’s building up in the crawlspace. Does that make sense?

    BRIAN: It does. And I think I’ve got all that covered at this point. What about a dehumidifier? I’ve been told that’s the next step.

    TOM: You could put a dehumidifier in but I would rather see you put that simple ventilation fan hooked up to a humidistat on first. But if you want to put a dehumidifier in, I would take a look at the one by Santa Fe.

    I actually just put a Santa Fe dehumidifier in my basement and it’s working really, really well. And I liked it because it’s not very big. It hangs from the rafters and it was only 12x12x22. So it was a pretty small unit, so it didn’t take up a lot of space. And it’s doing a really good job. The one I put in takes out 70 pints of water a day.

    BRIAN: Wow. Well, as I take each step here, I’m trying to go and see if I’m doing everything correct. Could there be anything else that I’m missing or am I assuming that the smell is coming from under the house, up into the first floor?

    TOM: Well, the only other typical source of smells in houses is plumbing smells. So, sometimes you get biogas in the drains of your sinks or your tubs that can cause an odor. But if you clean those out with an oxygenated bleach, that will keep that under control.

    But if you have that kind of humid, musty smell, it may very well be coming from the crawlspace.

    BRIAN: OK. So if I totally encapsulate it and either put a fan in and/or a dehumidifier, should I see results in just a couple weeks, maybe?

    TOM: I think so, yes.

    BRIAN: OK. Because that takes care of the air under the house, which affects the first floor, as well, I guess.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    BRIAN: I will proceed with that.

    TOM: Well, if you’re planning to put your home on the market, getting it ready is no small feat. But there are a few quick and relatively inexpensive projects you can do that will add value very quickly and really resonate with potential buyers.

    LESLIE: First up, curb appeal is still the easiest, least expensive and fastest way to increase the value of your home.

    Now, landscaping can cost as little as a few hundred dollars and make a lasting impression that will increase your home’s value by thousands. Go for plants that add color and complement your home’s décor, because people react to color emotionally and they’re going to be drawn to the property.

    Next, replacing your front door makes a huge impact, as well. And if you go with fiberglass, you can talk up the energy-efficiency angle to the potential buyers, as well.

    TOM: Finally, give buyers a place to put their stuff as soon as they move in. adding storage kits to the garage, basement or closets will make your house look bigger and less cluttered. You’ve got to remember that the people that are buying houses are usually moving from one that’s too small. So show them how roomy and organized yours can be and you’ll make a great first impression.

    888-666-3974. If you’re struggling with a storage project, décor project or any kind of remodeling job, give us a call right now. We’d love to help you get that done at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’re heading out to Delaware where Mary has got a question about a roof. What’s going on at your money pit?

    MARY: I have a two-story house with three-tab shingles that are 25 years old. And I’m about to replace them with architectural. I have an attic fan currently. It’s about 30 years old and I don’t really have to keep that. But my question is regarding a replacement attic fan versus the ridge vent.

    TOM: So, we would definitely recommend a ridge vent over a replacement attic fan, for a lot of reasons.

    Here’s why. In the summer, many times folks will install attic fans to try to cool their attic thinking that it will lower their cooling cost. But what generally happens is when an attic fan kicks on, it will depressurize your attic. And then it needs to replace that negative pressure. So what will happen is it will reach down into your house and actually pull some of that air-conditioned air up into the attic.

    Now, how that happens is interesting. It’ll pull it out from gaps around, say, where your attic door is or it’ll pull it through the walls, through gaps around plumbing pipes or electrical wires or outlets that go through. There’s usually some sort of thermal connection between the inside and the outside. And by using an attic fan, you’re going to potentially drive the cooling costs up, not down.

    A better option is a ridge vent – a continuous ridge vent – that goes down the peak of the entire roof. And that will exhaust attic air. But the ridge vent should always be matched with soffit vents at the overhang of the roof so that the air will enter down low in the roof, roll up underneath the roof sheathing and then exit at the ridge. And that sort of convective loop will do a much better job of keeping your attic cool than an attic fan. It will not – and it will not drive up your cooling costs.

    MARY: And you’d close off the current attic fan?

    TOM: That’s right. I would actually – if you were going to be replacing your roof, I would simply take that whole fan out, tap off the wires and disconnect it. You don’t need it.

    MARY: OK. The other question is I also have a whole-house fan, which I rarely use. Can you still use a whole-house fan with the ridge vent?

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Now, let’s talk about the difference between a whole-house fan and an attic fan. An attic fan is just that: it draws air out of the attic. A whole-house fan is mounted, generally, on the ceiling of the upper floor of the house. And it’s going to draw air from your house itself, push it up into the attic where it will be exhausted.

    Now, the key with a whole-house fan is you have to have enough exhaust ventilation up in the attic. If you end up having a continuous ridge vent and continuous soffit vents, I think you probably will have plenty of exhaust ventilation up there in the attic.

    I would suggest, if you don’t have it already, to put that whole-house fan on a timer. Because it’s really effective, especially at night, when you can set it for an hour or so when you’re going to sleep, to kind of keep that air moving through the house. And then it’ll just go off by the time you fall asleep and the air gets cooler.

    MARY: Vents in the eaves in the house, which were built in the house, are they closed off when you get the ridge vent?

    TOM: Generally, yes. Those small vents that are on the ends of the gable walls, you do want to close those off and make sure you have continuous soffit and ridge vents. Because you’ll get some turbulence between the ridge vent and that end gable vent that can impact the flow of the air.

    Alright, Mary?

    MARY: Alright. I hope we – that’s what I need and I’m about to call a contractor tomorrow.

    TOM: Alright. And now you know what to get done. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Doug in Rhode Island is on the line with a ventilation question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    DOUG: I have two bathroom vents and also a hood exhaust vent over the cooktop. So I have two 4-inch vents and a 6-inch vent that I need to put through the roof somehow. And I’d rather not do it in three different vents. I’m wondering if there’s an option.

    TOM: Well, the bathroom vents, if they’re near each other, could be brought together in the attic and then brought out to one termination point. You obviously don’t want to dump all that air into the attic. It’s warm, it’s moist, it’s humid and it’s going to ruin your insulation’s effect.

    In terms of the kitchen vent, that I would keep separate because that could potentially be greasy. And you just don’t want to mix that in with the bathroom ventilation.

    DOUG: OK.

    TOM: And make sure – in all cases, I would recommend you avoid the flexible vent ducting and use metal ducting, not the flexible metal ducting but the smooth metal ducting, because it just has less resistance as the air blows through it and it’s easier to clean if you have to.

    DOUG: OK. Now, do I have to use an insulated – to connect the hosing?

    TOM: No, you don’t have to insulate the ducting. That’s not necessary.

    DOUG: No, OK.

    TOM: Nope. Just use a solid-metal duct to do this, OK? You can buy these in home centers and hardware stores. What I don’t want you to do is use those flexible plastic ducts or flexible metal ducts.

    DOUG: OK. I gotcha.

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

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

    Hey, are you thinking about updating your kitchen? Well, repeating its existing layout can be tempting but the real kitchen of your dreams probably includes updated functionality and flow. Now, pro design services can help you get there. We’re going to share those tips, in today’s Pro Project presented by, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

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

    LESLIE: Tammy in Arkansas is on the line and is having an issue with the bricks on her home. What’s going on?

    TAMMY: OK. I’ve got a home that sits on a concrete slab. They’re made out of the cinder blocks. And the cracks are beginning to crack on the outside and the inside. And somebody told me to use concrete with it and I’m wanting to do it myself. So what do I need to do to seal those cracks?

    TOM: Yeah, you don’t want to use concrete because concrete is not going to fill cracks very well. Are we talking about sort of hairline or fairly thin cracks here, Tammy?

    TAMMY: Well, maybe a ½-inch. They’re kind of separating there but they’re separating into seams of the block.

    TOM: But you really think it’s a full ½-inch? That’s an awfully big crack.

    TAMMY: Well, you can put your finger up to it. It’s pretty deep. You can see on the outside and you can see on the inside.

    TOM: OK. Well, listen, if you’re getting that kind of movement in the wall, you need to have this looked at by an expert. I would have a professional home inspector or a structural engineer look at it because that’s a huge crack in the building. A ½-inch crack is really big if it’s pulling apart. That means that the house is sliding apart at that wall or settling on one end of the building, causing that to crack. And I would like to know why that’s happening.

    Are those cracks new or have they always been there?

    TAMMY: No, no, no, no. They just started, because the place was built in 1969.

    TOM: Yep. You’ve got to get to the bottom of it, Tammy, because there’s something wrong with the house for those cracks to occur like that.

    Now, you’re not talking about mortar that fell out, are you? You’re talking about physical cracks; all the mortar is still there. It’s just separated.

    TAMMY: It’s just separating. It’s all it is. The mortar is still there.

    TOM: Yeah. I would – here’s what I would do, Tammy: I would go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. It’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. Find a certified home inspector in your area or have a structural engineer look at it, get their recommendations and then you can take it from there. If the cracks are that big, I want to stop the building from moving before we begin to think about sealing them up, OK?

    TAMMY: OK. OK. I sure appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, fall is actually the most popular time of year for kitchen renos, because everybody is in a rush to get them done for the holidays. So, if you’ve been thinking of updating your kitchen, the hardest part can be just figuring out where to start. We’ve got tips to help, in today’s Pro Project presented by

    TOM: First, it’s easy to stick with the same, old current design. But thinking outside those old boxes can bring inspiration on a brand-new and perhaps even more efficient kitchen layout. If you change the location of the sink and the functionality of the countertop, add or even remove an island to free up space and get strategic with lighting to make sure you have both task and accent lights, those are all things a pro designer can help you achieve.

    LESLIE: Now, to help find an experienced design pro, the National Kitchen and Bath Association, or NKBA, offers a certification program. To become an NKBA-certified kitchen-and-bath designer, pros must have at least five years of a design experience and must complete at least 60 hours of continuing education.

    TOM: Now, the really nice thing about working with a pro designer is that you can pretty much wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. So, the sky’s really the limit. Seeing beautiful kitchen designs or showrooms or websites can be fun but it can also feel overwhelming. And the skills of a design pro can definitely make the difference and help you achieve all that’s possible for the space you have to work with. Plus, they can do that while potentially saving you the money, time and hassle of figuring it all out on your own.

    LESLIE: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.

    LESLIE: Steve in Massachusetts is on the line with a leak in the ceiling. What’s going on?

    STEVE: I have a two-story Colonial and I have a number of water leaks, especially down in my first floor, in a foyer, a living room, a kitchen and a first-floor bathroom and also on a second-room bathroom. And they’re not big leaks but they are noticeable.

    And I want to kind of correct the problem and I know – and paint over it but I want to correct the problem first. So I had a roofer tell me that maybe I should put a ridge vent and I know what – a lot of the ice dams we had last year. I’m just wondering – I’m kind of dumbfounded why all on the first floor and none other than the bathroom on the second floor, you know?

    TOM: So these seem to be from condensation?

    STEVE: Could be, I guess. They’re yellowish and that. I do have a little overhang in my kitchen area and that came about four years ago. I painted over it, I used Kilt and that but then it came back again a year later. So I don’t know whether it’s an insulation problem or a roof problem. I did put a second roof on back about five years ago. Up to that point, I never had any problems, so …

    TOM: Because it doesn’t sound like a roof leak or a plumbing leak. It’s just showing up in the oddest of places.

    STEVE: You know what? I’m dumbfounded where to go, I mean.

    TOM: Now, how much water do you see when you say you see a leak? Well, how much water are you seeing?

    STEVE: I just see the stains. I don’t really see the leak.

    TOM: Have you ever confirmed that it’s actually wet?

    STEVE: Not really.

    TOM: There’s a moisture meter that you can use. We used to use them in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector. And there’s a kind that you can just basically wave over the spot and it will read what the moisture level is. It’d be interesting. If I saw those stains, I would take a reading at the stain and I would take a reading at the ceiling somewhere else. And if it’s the same number, then it’s not really wet. It may have been wet but it’s no longer wet.

    If the stain is wetter than the other areas, then that would tell you something different; it would tell you it was an active leak. But what we have to do is get to the bottom of the moisture source and then get these leak stains eliminated. And I think you’re on the right step with the right process with that. You want to basically paint them over with a primer – an oil-based primer – and then put a finish topcoat of paint on top of that.

    But if it’s actively leaking, we have to deal with that. So, I would say that the first thing we need to do is – and since you have so many of these – is it might make sense for you to have a professional home inspector come by, take a look at these up close and personal. Home inspectors always carry moisture meters with them. Try to figure out what’s going on and then get it resolved. I wouldn’t do anything in terms of repair until I got some independent, expert advice from somebody who doesn’t want to sell you anything.

    That’s the problem with getting the advice from the roofer there. You ask them how to solve the problem and they’re always going to give you a solution where they’re a part of it. Part of it includes hiring them. So, just avoid that conflict of interest in a situation where you have so many areas that you’re seeing leaks. I would get some independent, expert advice in person.

    STEVE: Alright. Very good. Thanks a lot.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call with your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, sadly, summer is coming to an end in a few weeks. And if you’re getting ready to close up an RV, vacation home, a boat or even a shed, do you know how to keep mold from forming? We’ve got tips for keeping those spaces mold-free, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Doesn’t matter what the project is, they make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros.

    TOM: And there are no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use.

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

    MAISY: Just asking about – how can you get rid of the gnats going in through your house?

    TOM: They’re eating you up, huh?

    MAISY: Yes. I’m about gone.

    TOM: Well, one of the things that you can do is to create a somewhat natural repellant for those gnats. And you take apple-cider vinegar, put it in a small bowl and then add in a surfactant, like dishwashing detergent – just a bit of that – mix it together. And then you cover that bowl with plastic wrap and you put a few holes in it so that the bugs can get in there but they can’t get out of there. And they’ll be attracted to that.

    It ends up being sort of a one-way trap, though. Because once they get in there, they can’t get out.

    MAISY: I love that idea.

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

    LESLIE: Well, you take steps to keep intruders out of your vacation home, your boat or RV during the winter season. But there’s a potential squatter you’ve maybe been overlooking. I’m talking about mold.

    Now, if you leave it alone for long stretches, sealed-up spaces can become breeding grounds for it.

    TOM: Now, there are a couple of ways to stop this from happening. First, controlling humidity is the first key to preventing mold in any space but especially important in a space that’s unoccupied and closed for days or weeks or months at a time.

    Now, if we’re talking about a vacation home, one way to control the relative humidity is to use your programmable thermostat strategically. You want to set the air conditioning to 72 degrees for two hours every morning – and once again before sunset – and to 88 degrees for the rest of the day and night. This is going to prevent mold by removing moisture from the air when the relative humidity is high.

    LESLIE: Also, portable dehumidifiers can be another great option to keeping mold away, especially for basements. But you do need to make sure that they can drain automatically, like with a line that goes to a sump pump or with a condensate pump that lifts that water up and away. Because draining it tends to be the most difficult part, so take that part of the equation away for you and let the system do it itself.

    Plus, you can also reduce humidity by making sure that your home’s outside drainage is set up right. You want to make sure that your house has gutters and downspouts and an adequate amount of downspouts. You want to make sure that those downspouts extend away from the foundation of your home; 3 to 6 feet is ideal. You need to make sure everything is connected. If some points go underground, try to check it out and make sure things are still connected properly. Because if water gets right close to your foundation, it’s going to find its way inside.

    And make sure that the soil around the house is on a grade away from the house. You don’t want to trap water back towards the foundation. These are all recipes for disaster, so get that water away.

    TOM: Now, if it’s a boat, an RV or a shed that you’re worried about, think about pretreating the surfaces, inside and out, with mold cleaners prior to locking it up for the winter and again as soon as they’re opened up next season. And to the extent it’s possible, avoid using materials in these spaces that can feed mold, like cardboard boxes, so you’ll have little or no mold that needs to be cleaned up next spring.

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

    GREG: I have a – I just moved into a house in Milford, Delaware. And I have a limescale buildup on my shower door from the previous owners. And I tried every chemical possible – Kaboom and CLR – and it was ineffective. I’m wanting to know, what’s the best solution or the best tool I can use to get limescale buildup off a glass shower door?

    TOM: If it’s limescale for sure and CLR is not removing it, then I wonder if it’s something else. Because CLR is really effective at removing limescale buildup.

    Have you tried to test this deposit with some vinegar?

    GREG: No.

    TOM: Because if you put some white vinegar – saturate a sponge with white vinegar and wash across that what you’re calling a “lime deposit,” it will instantly melt it, if it really is lime. If it’s really calcium and lime, it will instantly melt it and then you can rinse it off.

    If it’s not, then I wonder if there’s something else that’s staining the door.

    GREG: Oh. What else could it be?

    TOM: Sometimes, depending on the types of cleaners that people have used in the past, they can actually scratch those doors. If you use something that was an abrasive cleaner to clean the shower door, you can put kind of like a fog across it that looks a little bit like a limescale buildup. But it’s really just the damage to the surface of the door.

    Do the vinegar test, Greg. See what happens and then let us know, OK?

    GREG: OK. I definitely will.

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

    Up next, if you’ve got kids, do you know the golden rules for installing and using a child’s car seat? We’re going to have the step-by-step you need to keep kids safe, when The Money Pit continues.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We’d love to hear from you. What are you working on? Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

    LESLIE: And don’t forget, while you’re online post your question in The Money Pit’s Community section, just like Jack in Georgia did.

    Now, Jack writes: “My plaster ceilings are really deteriorated. Can I put drywall over them or am I asking for a moisture problem?”

    TOM: Well, you’ve got a lot of options, Jack. I mean if they’re deteriorated, if they’re loose and sort of falling-off-the-ceiling deteriorated, you know, there are possible repairs that you can do to secure up that old plaster but it does need a lot a lot of maintenance. In that case, you can either remove the plaster completely or – and put up drywall. Or you can put the drywall over the old plaster. You’re not going to have any moisture issues associated with covering the old plaster but the walls and the ceilings become a bit thicker.

    Now, I’ve done it both ways. One of the things that I found, that I kind of wasn’t counting on but I probably should have when I took off all the old plaster, was that those old walls are not exactly very flat, because those old studs are not exactly very straight. So, well, when we have wet plaster that was put on 100 years ago, the tradesmen then could smooth it out and make it even. But because it’s now – we’re doing this with drywall, you don’t have that option. So you have to do a lot of shimming and kind of futzing with the wall to get it to lay right.

    So, for that reason and others, I’ve come to the opinion that the best thing to do is to put the drywall on top of the old plaster. Screw right through the old plaster, into the studs, and just kind of call it a day right there. You may have to make some adjustments with the window trim or the door trim or the outlets and the light switches, because the wall now will be a little bit thicker. But I think it’s definitely the best way to go.

    The other problem that you’re going to have – which is just a big mess. When you take that plaster down, man, it gets everywhere. It’s super heavy, so you’re going to avoid that hassle, too.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got one from Carolyn who writes: “We installed a one-piece tub shower in our basement only a year ago, as well as linoleum flooring. Already, the lino is rolling up where it meets the tub.”

    TOM: I found it very difficult to try to reglue that back down. So I would recommend you use quarter-round molding or shoe molding. Definitely the best way and it’s available as a composite, so that’s going to be made of plastic or PVC, not of wood. So it won’t even rot.

    LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you out, Carolyn.

    TOM: Well, with school underway and fall activities in full swing, there’s a good chance your kids are spending a lot of time in the car. To make sure they’re as safe as the road they’re on, Leslie has some surprising news about car-seat safety, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah. Constantly getting in and out of cars with kids can be a real drag. And you might be tempted to boot the booster seat once your child is a little bit older. But don’t let the hassle of straps and seat belts get the best of your judgement or your little one’s safety.

    Now, studies show that many parents are getting rid of booster seats long before their child is big enough to ride safely with just that seat belt. Parents are also bending safety rules by letting kids ride in the front seat or without any seat belts at all.

    Keep in mind your child needs to be at least 57 inches tall – that’s 4 feet, 9 inches – and weigh 80 to 100 pounds to ride with just a seat belt. Yes, that means that many kids are going to be in booster seats well into elementary school. I know it’s embarrassing. Make them sit in it. Remember that a booster seat’s no good if it’s not buckled in properly. So check on a regular basis to make sure that those seats are strapped in.

    And finally, set a good example. Click your own seat belt before you put that car into drive. You’ve got to be a good example. Kids have to know that they need to stay safe and you’ve got to do it right.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, if you can’t get that lush, green lawn of your dreams, we’ve got some good news. Grass is not the only option. We’re going to have some tips for choosing and planting the best alternative groundcovers for your outdoor space, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2019 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)


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