Five Ideas to Get Your Family Storm Ready – #0904171

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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: And what are you working on now that we are smack dab heading right into September, where the weather starts to turn cooler and the trees start to get more beautiful? If there is a project on your to-do list, inside or out, we’d love to help you out with some tips and some advice to get it done right. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

    Coming up on today’s show, the weather experts have spoken and we are now in the midst of what’s expected to be one of the worst hurricane seasons in recent memory. So, are you ready? We’re going to have some tips on making sure everyone stays safe, coming up.

    LESLIE: And have you ever needed to replace a broken tile only to discover that you’ve got no extra ones lying around? Well, we’re going to have some tips to find matching tiles even where none seem to exist.

    TOM: And also ahead, a room is just a room until you add some amazing trim details. It’s a project that involves a bit of carpentry but don’t let that scare you. It’s pretty easy. And we’re going to have tips and info on a terrific video that can walk you right through the project, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, we’ve also got a great reason for you to call or write us with your question. We’ve got up for grabs a $50 Amazon gift card. And that’s courtesy of Speed Queen Washers and Dryers. It’s going out to one lucky listener drawn at random from those that have posted a question to us anytime this week.

    TOM: So call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s talk about what’s going on in your house, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Heather in Rhode Island is dealing with a termite situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    HEATHER: My fiancé and I – just over in the process of hopefully purchasing a home.

    TOM: Congratulations.

    HEATHER: Thank you so much. We’re very excited. But we had our inspection on Friday, which was a bit of a roller coaster.

    TOM: OK. Alright.

    HEATHER: It actually – it wasn’t bad. There were just some very minor things. But right as the inspector was about to leave – she’s walking out the garage – and he sees on the wall, just about a foot up, a termite tunnel.

    TOM: OK.

    HEATHER: And so, we – you know, when we talk about this with different people, some people are saying, “Oh, that’s no big deal.” Others are saying, “Oh, man, you’ve got to have that looked into.” So we’re actually – our realtor – we were waiting for some other tests to come back: the radon and all that. So he’s going to now get in touch with our – with the buyer’s realtor to talk a little bit about the termite situation. But we just don’t know if we should be really concerned about it or how much we should push back on the homeowner.

    TOM: OK. So I can help you with that. I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector doing that exact job and have surprised many a couple, like yourself, over the years with things that we’ve found. I actually found termites or evidence of termites in about one out of three homes that I inspected, because it was very common where I lived and where I worked.

    Now, let me ask you about this house. Is it a house on a basement or a crawlspace or is it a slab?

    HEATHER: There’s a basement.

    TOM: OK. And is the basement finished? Is the ceiling finished? Can you see all of the floor joists?

    HEATHER: No, it’s not finished.

    TOM: Not finished. OK, good. Well, look, you need to have a very thorough termite inspection – a wood-destroying insect inspection – done, first off, where an inspector is going to examine the floor framing where it is along the outside wall. Usually, they’ll tap it with a probe or a long, heavy screwdriver to see if any damage has gotten into the wood. It’s good that the basement is open and exposed like that, because termites live in the soil and they come to the wood to feed. Then they go back to the soil, basically, for moisture. So, by checking that wood, that’s the most common place.

    Coming up in the garage, it’s not unusual either. And it sounds like they come up along the outside of that foundation – of the interior foundation wall. That’s fine. But you also need to sort of be aware that it could go into the wall if it’s behind drywall.

    Is the garage finished on that side or can you see right up into the framing?

    HEATHER: Yep, it’s finished.

    TOM: OK. So then they’re – that gets a little trickier to find. But a good inspector knows what to look for. One little trick of the trade, by the way, is if you take a high-powered flashlight and you lay it flat on the wall, you will see every little defect in the drywall surface itself. And if there’s termite tunnels in there, you can almost see the tunnels because they’ll be laying right below the paint. The termites are very tricky. If you think about drywall, it’s plaster, then paper, then paint. Well, they’ll leave the plaster, leave the paint but eat the paper. So, you can – I kind of see it that way.

    But once you have a thorough inspection done and you have a better idea of whether or not you have damage – the fact that you have termites means nothing. Anybody could have termites – and I’ll tell you how to treat them in a second – but you really want to know if you have termite damage.

    And by the way, it’s traditional for the seller to pay for termite treatment and termite-damage repair. Because mortgage companies will generally not loan on a home that doesn’t have a clear termite certification. So, I think this falls all on the seller’s lap but you need to be sure that a very thorough inspection was done.

    Now, in terms of the treatment, that’s changed a lot, too, over the last couple of decades. Now, the treatment options that they use are treatments that are undetectable termiticides. So they’re chemicals that are applied – insecticides that are applied – to the soil and they’re put below the slab in the garage. And they’re put in the walls of the house. And as the termites pass through these cavities, that insecticide gets on them and they take it back to their nest. And then it kind of wipes out the entire nest. It’s kind of like germ warfare for termites. It’s really effective.

    The brand that I would recommend is called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r. It’s made by BASF. And it’s a fantastic product. And if you have it done professionally, I think it can be installed safely and give you years of protection against further termite infestations.

    HEATHER: Awesome. That’s great news. I’m glad to – thanks for sharing that usually that’s on the seller to hopefully pay.

    TOM: Yep. Absolutely.

    HEATHER: That was part of our concern.

    TOM: Yep. Good. Alright. Well, good luck with that and congratulations again. When are you guys getting married?

    HEATHER: Thanks so much. Next May.

    TOM: Good luck and call us back when it’s time to build a nursery.

    HEATHER: Will do. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: Alright. Bye-bye.

    LESLIE: Sal in Massachusetts is on the line with a question about an asphalt driveway. What’s going on?
    SAL: Last year, I had a driveway asphalted. They took out the old driveway and put it in a new.

    TOM: OK.

    SAL: And this year, I noticed that there were some cracks starting to evolve along the sides – the edges of the driveway. But they were going into the asphalt and looked like a concave trough in the top of the driveway.

    TOM: It was almost settling?

    SAL: Exactly.

    TOM: It sounds a lot like the company that did the driveway for you didn’t prep properly. Because if they didn’t compact the grade underneath that driveway as part of this or if they didn’t put enough asphalt, then that’s going to happen. So, I think you need to go back to the company that did the original installation, because I think this is something that should have been warrantied. It’s indicative of poor workmanship, in my view.

    SAL: Oh, OK. I didn’t realize that. I did call the original contractor and he came out, looked at it. And he said it was chipmunks. I said, “Wait. Are you crazy?” I said (inaudible).

    TOM: Chipmunks? You mean groundhogs?

    SAL: So I said, “I’ve never heard of that before.” And he said, “Oh, yeah.” He said he got a lot of calls on that. So I said, “Well, he knows better than I do. So, he’s got more experience than I have.”

    TOM: Ugh. Listen, I’ve had plenty of groundhogs in homes that I’ve owned. And I ultimately get rid of them because we use grub control on the soil, on the grass. But this kind of a settling like this, it sounds bigger than what would happen if there was a tunnel from a groundhog. Yeah, I think it wasn’t prepped properly. But it’s a very creative excuse. I’ll give him that.

    LESLIE: It just doesn’t seem possible.

    TOM: Alright. Sorry we don’t have better news for you. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Give us a call with your question now at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros that you can trust for any home project. And if you’re a service pro looking to grow your business and connect with project-ready homeowners, check out

    And we’ve got a great reason now for you to call us with your home improvement question or post it to The Money Pit’s Community page at, thanks to our friends at Speed Queen who have given us $50 Amazon gift cards to give away. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post that question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

    We’ll be back with more of the answers you need, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Post your question online at or call in your question now to 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros that you can trust for any home project. And if you’re a service pro looking to grow your business and connect with project-ready homeowners, you should also check out

    Hey, if you do reach out to us with your home improvement question, we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat because we’ve got a $50 Amazon gift card sponsored by Speed Queen. You know, they do make the best washers and dryers that are built to last. They’re built to last, actually, 25 years. They come with the industry’s best warranty and there’s over 100 years of commercial reliability behind those machines.

    You’ll find them at 2,800 dealers nationwide. The website is And they’ve given us an Amazon gift card worth 50 bucks to go out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, a funny story in the – that happened in New Jersey just a couple of weeks ago.

    LESLIE: Yeah?

    TOM: A woman reached for eye drops and ended up gluing her eyes shut. Because guess what? What she thought was the eye drops was Super Glue. Apparently, this happens quite frequently.

    LESLIE: That’s not funny.

    TOM: It’s pretty scary.

    LESLIE: Tom, let me tell you, in our medicine cabinet in the bathroom at home, I have one shelf that has a couple of nail polishes and nail glue. And on the little shelf above it is my eye drops. And I don’t know why I keep them in such close proximity to one another. But every single time I take out those eye drops – which is not often. But when I do, I will read that label 18,000 times. I’m like, “This is eye drops. Eye drops, not nail glue. Eye drops?”

    TOM: But I don’t get that, right? Why is – you use Super …?

    LESLIE: They’re the same size, the same shape.

    TOM: But wait a minute. I know that. But why do you keep them together? Do you use Super Glue when you do your nails or something? Why do you keep it in the medicine cabinet?

    LESLIE: Sometimes, if you break your nail, you have to put a little drop of glue on it and it keeps it together.

    TOM: Ah, OK. Alright. I see, I see. So it – OK, see now, being a guy, I didn’t get that. I was just wondering why they would be in the same proximity. Because I’m thinking – for me, I’m thinking I keep glue on the shelf with my tools. And I would keep eye drops in the medicine cabinet and never the twain shall meet. But I guess I could see your point.

    And I guess if that’s the case, what you really ought to do is – one of those manufacturers ought to have a pretty dramatically-looking different bottle. Or you ought to take a piece of tape or something and mark it “Caution” so that you don’t physically grab the last one.

    But anyway, it turns out that – she was OK. Painful, obviously. But it turns out that the proteins in your eye actually – will, after a number of hours, sort of dissolve the Super Glue. So, that’s why I think it all worked out.

    LESLIE: Hmm. So if I Super-Glue my fingers together, I should just start crying on my hand?

    TOM: Yeah, there you go. And that’ll do it.

    LESLIE: Alright. Lesson learned. But I’m telling you, it has scarred me for life. It’s never happened to me.

    TOM: Now I know why that some folks keep it so close together. See, I’ve never had to repair a broken nail with Super Glue or perhaps I would do the same thing.

    LESLIE: Well, next time you’re getting ready for a big black-tie affair and you break a nail, I won’t tell you how to fix it.

    TOM: I’ll do that.

    LESLIE: Sherry in Texas is on the line with a question about a rusty washing machine. How can we help?

    SHERRY: I am – I moved into a condo about a year ago and it came with a washer and dryer. The washing machine is a Kenmore Elite top-loader and it has a liquid-bleach dispenser in the top area, on the left-hand side. Well, clearly, it looks to me as though when you pour the bleach in, it must be eating from the inside out, because it’s rusted.

    TOM: Right.

    SHERRY: And I don’t know what to do, if I can do anything about it. So I thought I would give you a call and see what you think.

    TOM: How old is this washing machine?

    SHERRY: Well, I’m not 100-percent sure. I moved in a year ago. It’s got to be maybe three, four years at least.

    TOM: If it’s less than five, it probably should have some number of years left on it. It’s probably worth fixing. The nice thing about Kenmore machines is they’re very, very good with repair parts. So, there’s a good chance you can find repair parts to replace whatever is rusted out.

    The downside is, of course, this is really not a do-it-yourself project unless you’re super handy. So you’re going to have to have an appliance-repair pro do the work for you. But I would say that if it’s a young appliance like that, then it’s probably worth it. If it’s an older appliance or one that’s a pretty economically-inexpensive appliance, then you might just kind of want to live with it as long as you can and then replace it.

    Speed Queen is a brand that we’ve been recommending a lot the last few months, because they kind of blew us away with the fact that these machines are tested to 10,400 cycles, which is 25 years of normal use. So if you decide to get a new one, take a look at that brand.

    SHERRY: OK, OK. So, best bet is to contact Kenmore and see what they can offer me or help me out with?

    TOM: Any repair person will have access to those parts and know how to get those parts, as well.
    TOM: You don’t necessarily have to work through Sears, OK?

    SHERRY: OK. OK. Well, thank you.

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

    Well, as we move towards what’s predicted to be a pretty bad hurricane season, it’s very important to make sure every member of the household is ready for the storm. So, here are a few tips that can help you out.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Obviously, guys, you need food, water and other survival basics. But you should also make sure that your emergency kit meets the day-to-day needs of your youngest and oldest loved ones living in your house. So you want to make a list of everything your child uses over the course of a few days and stock your emergency kit with them. And then update what’s in those kits and the supplies as your children grow. And don’t forget about any occasional remedies, like a pain reliever or allergy medicine, all that kind of stuff. You want it in one big bin ready to go.

    TOM: Now, if you’re on prescription meds that need a refill soon, you want to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about getting those filled early. Now, this can be an issue with insurance companies, because they don’t like to fill things early, right? So, in that case, what you want to do is ask for what’s called a “vacation waiver.” These are provided when medicines could run out while a patient is away from home. So if you ask for the waiver, there is a way to refill that prescription early.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you also – guys, think about it: you might be without power, so have a plan for power. If this is the year that you’ve decided to get a standby generator, don’t wait for a storm to push those prices up and create those big installation delays. Do it now. You are never going to have to worry about losing power again.

    I will tell you since we put in our standby generator, maybe the power has gone out once for 30 minutes, maybe twice. And it’s been four years, almost five years. And not that I’m saying I’m waiting for a big power outage but to know that I’m prepared and it doesn’t need to be used, it’s kind of six of one, half of the other.

    TOM: It’s a good feeling, absolutely.

    LESLIE: It really is.

    TOM: Yeah. I mean you and I were both scarred by Hurricane Sandy, being without power for two weeks. So, never will that happen again to us.

    LESLIE: Never.

    TOM: And it shouldn’t happen to you, either. You know, the standby generator prices have come way down.

    If you’d like some more tips on how to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you, we’ve got lots of resources online at

    LESLIE: Alright. Don in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    DON: I’ve called in about installing assist bar in a fiberglass shower stall.

    TOM: Now, the wall that this would be installed on, is it an exterior wall? Is it an interior wall? Any thoughts on that?

    DON: It backs up to an exterior wall.

    TOM: Hey, Don, I can certainly understand that problem with your fiberglass shower stall. There is a type of connector that I’m familiar with that’s made by Moen. And it’s called Secure Mount. And basically, it’s a system where you can essentially pinch that fiberglass wall and connect the grab bar right to it. Or you can go through it completely and connect it to the back side of the drywall that’s right below it. It’s actually strong enough for that. It’s a system that’s engineered for scenarios like this and helps you to avoid having to use a stud to connect that grab bar to.

    I know that the Secure Mount anchors are sold at The Home Depot. The thing is you have to make sure that you buy – if you buy the Secure Mount anchors – and there’s videos online at If you buy the Secure Mount anchors, you have to buy the grab bar that’s rated for Secure Mount, because it’s kind of like a system and they all sort of bolt together. So I would look for the Secure Mount-type of grab-bar anchor and see if you think that’ll do the trick, OK?

    DON: Thank you. Have a great day.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever had to replace a cracked tile in the wall or the floor, the hardest part of the job is finding a replacement tile that matches it. Just ahead, Kevin O’Connor from This Old House is stopping by with a tip to help you do that.

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

    MARILU: Hi. This is Marilu Henner from The Marilu Henner Show. And I’m obsessed with these guys. You’re listening to The Money Pit, my buddies Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, has that For Sale sign been out on your lawn for longer than you were hoping for? Well, if so, you might want to think beyond just your curb appeal. We’ve got a few proven tricks for making your home more appealing to the next prospective buyer. Just search “10 home staging tips for a fast sale” on

    TOM: And whether you are buying, selling or just enjoying your home, we’re here for you every step of the way. Call in your home improvement question or your décor question, right now, to 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 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: Phyllis in New York is working on a deck project. How can we help?

    PHYLLIS: Well, I was wondering how long I had to wait. But the deck was replaced. Was treated lumber. And I was told that I had to wait six months before it’s going to be stained. Is that true?

    TOM: It’s not a bad idea, because the wood is so damp and so wet that if you stain it now, you don’t get as much absorption. So I think you could wait six months to a year before you stain it the first time. And when you do that, you want to make sure you use a primer first and then a topcoat over that. And that will give you maximum adhesion and a good, long-lasting deck finish.

    PHYLLIS: OK. Alright. Very good. Thanks for the information. It’s a very informative program that you have.

    TOM: Well, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

    LESLIE: Well, ceramic tiles, you know they’re durable and easy to care for. But from time to time, you might need to make repairs to your ceramic-tile floor or your shower or your walls. And those repairs can vary from grouting repairs to even replacing some cracked tiles.

    TOM: Ah, yes. But the problem with replacing tiles is often not having matching tile handy. Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, joins us now with some magic tricks to make them reappear.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: Well, this is actually something that happens an awful lot as you set out to do a bath remodel and it’s not always with an old house. Even a 10-year-old tile can sometimes be hard to get your hands on.

    KEVIN: If you’ve got a little kid and he drops his tricycle on the bathroom floor because he’s riding where he shouldn’t be, you’re going to need a new tile from time to time. It’s true.

    The number-one tip that I would give people is there might be or there should be an extra tile squirreled away somewhere. If you’re doing a tile job or someone’s doing a tile job for you, get a little extra, put it in a box, label it and put it down into the basement. That is the easiest way to get a perfect match.

    TOM: And that is so true because in all of the years that I was a professional home inspector and I went through thousands and thousands of basements and attics, you found boxes of tile everywhere.

    LESLIE: Did you always find tile?

    TOM: They do – people do squirrel them away. They put them up in the floor joist, they put them in all kinds of crazy places.

    LESLIE: Even if you mis-order a tile for a job and, say, you’re 10-square-feet short, suddenly that manufacturer is looking to match that dye lot. You really have to go back and take into consideration how was yours dyed, what was it baked at, to make sure that they match consistently, especially if you’re covering an area where it’s going to be obvious to the eye.

    TOM: Exactly. Now, what if you searched high and low and you can’t find any extra tile? What are your options?

    KEVIN: Well, go hang your head and cry because you didn’t do what you were supposed to do. But there are other options. I would start with a well-stocked, well-respected tile store. They’re going to probably be your best resource to find you that tile. Because they’re going to recognize what you have, they’re going to know the manufacturer, the style or such. And they’re really going to have good resources to dig deep and go far into the tile industry.

    We’ve actually had good luck with one of the tile guys that we’ve worked with, where he’s able to turn a tile around, look at the back and just from either the markings or an indication on the back, tell us exactly where that tile came from, who made it and such. So a good tile store, a really experienced tile man or woman, they’re going to be your first line of defense.

    LESLIE: Now, if you can’t get your hands on a tile genie, as you are able to do so, is it possible, without damaging a tile, to, say, move the refrigerator and take one from under there?

    KEVIN: Absolutely. I mean we do it with wood floors all the time, right? You’re down to the last two or three square feet on a repair, you go into the closet and you harvest some of that wood. Well, do the same thing with tile. There are a lot of places where you’re not looking at it all the time or can’t see at all, as you point out, Leslie, underneath the refrigerator. Go harvest one of those tiles and that’ll save you a lot of time and energy trying to track down an exact match, because you know that that tile on the floor is going to be a match.

    TOM: Now, if it’s really, really important to you, can you actually find tile companies out there that will make them for you to match?

    KEVIN: Yeah, believe it or not, you can get custom-made tiles just for what you want. It’s going to be a little bit more expensive than the tile off the shelves. We’ve seen some that are about $30 a square foot. But you’re not going to need much, so it’s not going to cost you a ton of money and it is going to save you a lot of leg work and a lot of research.

    LESLIE: And then you can squirrel those extras away.

    KEVIN: Buy a couple extra and be a good citizen: leave them for the people afterwards.

    LESLIE: Now, let’s say you try your best, you’ve gone everywhere, they can’t match it, they can’t custom-make it, what can you do to fill that void but yet have the whole story make sense?

    KEVIN: Well, now you’re out of magic and you’re sort of into artwork.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    KEVIN: Now you’re getting creative and you’re going to probably start thinking about an accent tile. You’ve got a little void in the floor or in the wall. You’re going to put in something different and so now, all of a sudden, you’re going to continue that accent maybe throughout the rest of the bathroom, the kitchen or the floor. And you’re going to make it look like it was a deliberate choice.

    TOM: So fake it until you make it.

    Kevin O’Connor from This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: My pleasure, guys. Thank you.

    TOM: And for more tips just like that, including a great story about how to match old ceramic tile, head on over to

    LESLIE: And you can watch Kevin and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

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

    Up next, do you want an easy way to dress up a boring room? Well, why not add some trim? It’s a simple carpentry project that we’re about to make even easier. We’ll have that tip, after this.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’re going to get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a $50 Amazon gift card sponsored by our friends over at Speed Queen.

    You know, Speed Queen, they’ve been making washers and dryers that are built to last 25 years. And they really do include the industry’s best warranty. They’ve got over 100 years of commercial reliability. And you can find them at over 2,800 dealers nationwide.
    Check them out at but call us, right now, for your chance to win an Amazon gift card worth 50 bucks that maybe you could even use to pick up some laundry detergent, for all that laundry that seems to pile up so very easily.

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

    LESLIE: Taylor in North Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    TAYLOR: I have a two-story house. I live in North Dakota. And I have a two-story house that has a forced-air system. And it’s just not getting the cooling up to the second floor and the heating up to the second floor like I feel it should. I had a contractor come in and they recommended a product to me that I was wondering if you guys had any knowledge on it. It’s a product called Aeroseal where they actually seal the ductwork from the inside. And they claim that it’ll seal up the ductwork and get me more airflow.

    TOM: Is this guy an Aeroseal dealer?

    TAYLOR: Correct.

    TOM: OK. So my only concern here is the reason that you’re not having adequate heating and cooling on the second floor is due to a core error in the sizing of the system. And while duct systems can certainly be leaky, I doubt that that’s your entire problem, Taylor. I think that there’s an issue with the design here that’s at the core of this. And while that’s kind of a nice thing to do and yeah, it’d probably help a little bit, I don’t necessarily think that’s the first thing I would do at all.

    I think you ought to talk to some other HVAC contractors and really, what they need to do is look at a heat-loss calculation here and figure out how much air you’re moving up there, making sure you have enough supply air going up there, making sure you have adequate return ducts, that nothing is blocked or disconnected.

    TAYLOR: This is the second company that came in. The first company actually recommended for me to talk to this company because he felt the same way, actually.

    TOM: Well, why did they think that your duct system is so leaky that it’s causing this problem? I mean certainly, leaking ducts can contribute to it but I don’t think – I really, really don’t think it’s the main cause here. I can’t imagine it’s so inefficient, that your ducts are so poorly put together that simply sealing them is going to solve this problem. You have a very significant issue with inadequate heating and cooling getting to the second floor of the house. So, I think this is an issue of airflow, it’s an issue of design and I would explore ways that that can be improved.

    And if you can’t easily improve it, then what you might want to think about is adding supplemental heating and cooling to the second floor vis-à-vis, for example, a split-ductless system, which would – could supply both warm air and cool air, depending on the design of the model that you get. But I don’t think this is all about duct defects in terms of leaky ducts. I think this is a design defect that you have to – just haven’t nailed it yet. OK, Taylor? Does that make sense?

    TAYLOR: Alright. Sounds good.

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

    LESLIE: Well, chair-rail molding really does add a bit of elegance to any room. It does serve as a good transition between wall colors, if you’re looking to have two different colors in one space. And you can also use it to cap wainscoting.

    Now, to install the chair-rail molding, it’s something that you can do on your own in about 45 minutes per wall.

    TOM: Yeah. And it’s a pretty easy carpentry project. You’re going to need a few tools for this. You’re going to need a measuring tape and a stud finder, a good miter saw and a sanding block. But that’s a good place to start with learning how to cut and install molding. Once you kind of nail that down, then you could start working on putting some additional molding around doors or windows. And then you can work yourself up to crown molding. Now, that can be one of the hardest moldings to do but there’s a great video that can help you figure that out. And it’s online, right now, at

    LESLIE: Yeah. Our friends over at DIYZ put together a terrific video laying out all of the steps for one of the toughest kinds of molding projects: crown molding. It’s not that difficult if you follow the right steps. And it looks gorgeous.

    TOM: That’s online, right now, at Just search “how to cut and install crown molding.”

    LESLIE: Bonnie in Pennsylvania is on the line with a dippy driveway. Tell us what’s going on.

    BONNIE: Well, our driveway was asphalt originally and it’s probably 30, 40 years ago. And there really isn’t much left to it now. But it – most of it is fine. It stays solid. But there’s one part – two parts, actually, have great, big dips in them so you kind of go down in. And the water collects in there. So I was wondering what we could fill that in with. It’s not left the driveway. It’s kind of non-existent now but it’s not a …

    TOM: Well, at least you have a speed bump built into your driveway, you know?

    BONNIE: Yes.

    TOM: Probably safer that way.

    BONNIE: Yes.

    TOM: If you’ve got a 30- or 40-year-old driveway, that driveway doesn’t really owe you any money. You can patch it. You can have it professionally patched with more asphalt material. But my concern is that whatever’s causing that dip is an underlying problem and it’s just going to reform over and over again. Once you start to get a dip, of course, the water gets in there and it sort of exacerbates it.

    But I think your options are to topcoat that driveway, which you could do with more asphalt material. It’s a professional project; it’s not one you can do yourself. Or if you want to go ahead and invest the time and the money right now, you could just tear it out and build it again. When it gets to be that age, it really does have to be replaced. So if you think about it, roads have to be replaced far more frequently than that. But if you’ve got a 30- or 40-year-old driveway, it’s probably reached the end of a normal life cycle and it’s time for it to be torn out and completely replaced, not topcoated. But you could buy yourself some time by doing the topcoat application.

    BONNIE: Could you just fill it in with stone or something for now or no?

    TOM: No, because it’s just going to fall out. It’s not really a do-it-yourself project. You have to put more asphalt mixed with stone, under pressure, rolled over it. But my concern about recoating a driveway that’s that old is it’s just not going to last that long.

    BONNIE: Yeah. There’s nothing much left to recoat it.

    TOM: Right. Yeah. So it’s not worth it, OK, Bonnie?

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Just ahead, if you have an electric stove, is it worth it to convert to gas? We’re going to help you sort out the costs and benefits, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by You can find top-rated home pros you can trust right there. And for local pros that want to grow their business, HomeAdvisor is the easy way to get connected with project-ready homeowners.

    LESLIE: Hey, now that it’s getting cooler outside, your kids might be spending more of the afternoon outside instead of running between all of those air-conditioned spaces. Well, here’s a great idea for a backyard project to entertain kids both big and small. Why not build a giant backyard board game? You can lay out a huge checkerboard set or even a Jenga game in the yard. It really is a fun way to bring all the people together. You’re going to find that the adults want to get in the mix with the kids. It really is creative fun. And outdoor play as a family or just as a gathering with friends really does make for a wonderful afternoon.

    TOM: Good advice.

    Alright. Let’s jump into The Money Pit’s Community page. We’ve got some posts here. Take on one here from Carrie. She’s got – “We currently have an old electric stove. We’re not sure if we want to add a gas line and put in a new gas stove. Would there be a good return on the investment or are electric stoves now more energy-efficient and have more benefits than before?”

    So, let’s talk first about the cooking quality here, Leslie. I know some people really do love their electric stove because they feel like it has more controllable heat. Is that true?

    LESLIE: I mean I think it really depends. People do love electric ovens, especially if they’re electric and convection, which means it sort of heats at an even temperature. And then the convection part of it blows the heat around, just sort of uniformly cooks all around. With gas stoves, people tend to think that there is a hotter spot in certain parts of the stove itself, depending on where that flame is.

    Now, I think most chefs truly like a dual-fuel option, where the range or the cooktop is gas but the oven itself is electric. I think it’s truly a preference of how you like to cook. I have a dual-fuel and I love it.

    TOM: Well, converting an electric to gas stove will result in a lower operating cost by about 25 percent, according to some of the gas-conversion estimates that are out there. But like most things, it’s really not that simple. You’ve got to factor in the cost of the new appliance and it would take many, many years for any real savings to occur. So if it’s purely economics, it’s going to take a long time.

    But if the electric stove is old and you need to replace it soon anyway, now would probably be a good time to make the switch. The other benefit, of course, is an environmental one because you’ll have a reduced CO2 emission as a result of that. And you’ll have more precise control of your cooking temperature. Plus, there could be rebates also available from your local utility company.

    So, my suggestion would be to contact the utility company next. Ask about the rebates and also find out if there’s going to be any cost to run the gas line to your home. In my experience, as long as you’re installing at least one gas appliance, there will be very little to no charge from the utility company for that hookup. And plus, you’ll now have another reason to consider that fuel when it comes time to replace your water heater or your furnace, as well.

    LESLIE: So, Tom, really, where is the value or is it a value to convert from electric to gas or oil to gas when you’re thinking about heating the home?

    TOM: Well, I think that there’s a lot of advantages there because – especially if you’ve had oil. There’s a lot of risk with having an oil tank these days. And gas is clearly one of the least expensive fuels when it comes to heat and way, way, way more affordable than electric, which is the most expensive way to go.

    So if you’re going to wrap into – your heating appliances to this, to this conversion, then I think the economics really start to lean in your favor. And you might want to start a journey of replacing all those electric appliances with gas if now it’s brought into the house, into the street and you have these opportunities. I say go for it.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I really think it’s just such a huge benefit and you’re going to see a big savings.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thanks so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, some ideas, some inspiration to avoid the perspiration when it comes to projects around your house. We’ve got lots more online at, where the show does continue.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2017 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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