Getting Ready for Summer #0306171
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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. We’re here to help you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. No matter where you are or when you’re hearing this program, you can call us, 24/7, at that number. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are.
Hey, we’ve got some great things coming up in this hour. If you saw high heating bills last winter or just felt uncomfortable, well, guess what? Bad news. You’re probably going to feel that same way this summer. And that’s why now is a great time to think about updating your insulation. We’re going to have some advice, coming up.
LESLIE: Plus, if you’ve ever tripped going up or down a staircase, chances are the stair might not have been built correctly to begin with. We’re going to get tips on how you can build them right from our friend, Tommy Silva, of This Old House.
TOM: And if you call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, we’ll also help you breathe easier in your home, because we’ve got a 1-year subscription to FilterEasy.com going out to one caller drawn at random. And now is a great time to think about changing filters because allergy season is just ahead. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to the phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
DENNIS: Hey, that is some jazzy music you’ve got on hold.
TOM: Alright. We’re glad you enjoy it, Dennis. What’s going on?
DENNIS: I just finished building a ranch-style home and I did the regular stick frame, 2×6 fiberglass insulation, T1-11 outside. But my question is – I’m going to put some cedar-log siding on it and I thought I might fur the outside, get a few more Rs out of it. And I’m kind of concerned about possibly trapping moisture between the inside vapor barrier. And if I use blue board or some type of foam insulation on the outside, I didn’t want to trap water inside the wall. And I hope that made sense.
TOM: Well, so you basically used T1-11 as the sheathing but that’s a finished siding type of a product. That’s not designed to be a sheathing. Are you sure you meant T1-11 when you said that? Because it has sort of vertical grooves in it.
DENNIS: Yeah, it was just a temporary sheathing is all.
TOM: Yeah, because for many buildings, that is the siding. But OK. So you want to know how to cover that? Well, I would put tar paper on it or I would put vapor barrier on it, like Tyvek. And then I would put the blue board over that.
DENNIS: Vapor barrier and then Tyvek and then the blue board. OK. Yeah, I was just concerned about trapping moisture inside the wall.
TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t put the foam right against it because that’s going to be like holding sponges against it. No, you want to put the moisture barrier against the wood.
DENNIS: So, do I need to put any type of a – some type of drainage on the bottom of the wall then or …?
TOM: Well, not for blue board, no. What you would do is you put the vapor barrier up and then you put the foam on it and you attach it with long nails that are flat-headed. They look like super-long roofing nails.
TOM: And they have other special fasteners for it, alright? And then you could put your furring strips over that and your siding on top of it.
DENNIS: Oh, OK. So you don’t actually butt it up to the furring strips; you put the furring strips right over it.
TOM: Right. Exactly. I mean that’s the way I would do it. I sided a house that way and that was 30 years ago. Hasn’t leaked yet.
DENNIS: Good enough then. That’s my project for this coming summer.
LYNN: I was just wondering if you could advise me as to whether or not I could do this myself or whether I had to get a company to help me. And what it is is my basement is partially finished and partially a crawlspace. And in the crawlspace, there’s just bare dirt. And it typically doesn’t have a lot of moisture unless it’s really, really, really rainy. And I just felt – feel like I need to cover it with some sort of plastic or some sort of barrier to help keep that humidity down.
TOM: You’re exactly right, Lynn, and it definitely is a project that you can do yourself as long as you can, you know, physically get into that crawlspace. But let’s start outside because the moisture does form from the outside in. You want to make sure that your gutter system is clean, that the downspouts are extended not 2 feet, which is the way they normally are, but 4 to 6 feet from the house. You really want to go through a good effort to get those downspouts at least a few feet out from the house.
And then, thirdly, make sure the soil around the house slopes away. Those three things – gutters clean, downspouts extended and soil sloping away – do most of the work in terms of keeping those below-grade spaces dry.
Now, in terms of the crawlspace itself, what you want to do is – I typically would say rake the dirt surface so it’s nice and flat and there’s nothing in there that can kind of break through the plastic. And then what you want to do is just take some very heavy plastic, some clear plastic like Visqueen, and then start laying it down across the crawlspace-dirt surface.
And you want to put it in in as few pieces as possible. And if you have to overlap it, overlap it 3 feet, alright? Because that’ll do a good job of keeping that moisture and humidity from evaporating out of that soil and then getting into the air and the basement and working its way up into your house. So it’s really as simple as that.
LYNN: OK. And any particular type of plastic or are we talking just go to Lowes or Home Depot and get …
TOM: Well, what you want to do is find a plastic that’s about 6-mil thick. It’s usually just called “reinforced polyethylene construction film” or something of that nature. It comes in rolls that are usually about 12-feet wide and about 100-feet long. No, the roll’s not 12 feet; it’s usually about 4 feet and it’s just overlapped. But you buy these big rolls and you roll it out and cut it and then unfold it. And again, get it across that whole floor surface. You can let it lay up against the wall a little bit. And then if you have to overlap it, go ahead and make sure you overlap it by about 3 feet.
LYNN: And do you pin it with something of some sort? Do you pin it with some sort of nail?
TOM: No, it just stays there by its lonesome. It’s not going to go anywhere as long as you’re not – as long as you guys don’t like to crawl up in that crawlspace a lot.
TOM: No, it’s a really easy project to do yourself.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with whatever you are working on.
You guys, we are approaching springtime. So you want to get your house ready because soon we’re going to be opening those windows and enjoying those outdoor spaces. So let’s get it right before that beautiful weather hits. Give us a call, 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, if you saw high heating bills last winter or just felt uncomfortable, you’re likely to feel that same way this summer unless you update your insulation. We’ll have tips on the many choices, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. 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. If you do, we’ll give you the best answer we can possibly come up with. Plus, we’ll toss your name in the Money Pit hard hat because this hour, we’ve got a one-year subscription to FilterEasy.com.
This is a great concept. You know, people put their filter in once maybe when – or maybe the HVAC guy puts it in, right, when he services your unit once a year? And then you pretty much forget it. Well, that’s a bad thing to do because if you don’t change that filter, you can get a lot of dirt and dust and allergens inside your house.
What FilterEasy does is it’s kind of a subscription service for air filters. Once you sign up with them, every couple of months, depending on the frequency you choose, they send you a new air filter so that when the filter shows up, you know it’s time to change it. A lot less thinking going on with that. And it’s going to cost less than going to the store.
So we’ve got a one-year subscription to FilterEasy.com going to one lucky caller. It’s worth 240 bucks. The winner just tells us their quantity and the size of the filters and FilterEasy is going to do the rest. So give us a call right now. You might just win that FilterEasy subscription and most importantly, you’ll get your home improvement question answered at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Beth in Illinois is on the line with a question about tiles. What can we do for you today?
BETH: Hey, I got a great deal on some porcelain tile and the measurements are 4×28, I believe. So, I bought four skids of it. I have some rental property, so I was going to take up the carpet and put that down.
BETH: Actually, I’m not quite ready but I do have to have it delivered. And they – I want to know if it’s OK to leave it sit outside with a tarp on it, if the weather would be OK. It is porcelain, though, and it is in the actual – on the pallets that they deliver it on.
TOM: I think as long as you keep it covered and out of the weather as much as possible, I don’t really see anything bad happening to it. I guess if you got water or snow in there and they got wet, they could expand and start to crack.
LESLIE: And then freeze and crack.
TOM: But if you keep them tray – yeah, freeze and crack. But if you keep it dry, I don’t see why you can’t keep them outside.
BETH: Do the best I can to keep it dry and then I can use them in a month or so?
TOM: Yeah. Sure.
BETH: I mean 60 cents a square foot. What a deal.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a great deal. That’s a great deal.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you want to – you’re in an area that might see some snow, so you want to make sure that if it does snow, it doesn’t get underneath. Or if there’s a lot of rain, it doesn’t kick up underneath.
BETH: Uh-huh. So as long as I keep it somewhat dry and the tarp down, I’ll be safe for the month or so.
TOM: I think so. And just remember that when you are ready to install it, bring them inside, get it all to be room temperature. Because you don’t want to have the floor surface – the subfloor being warm, the tile being cold. You may have some issues with adhesion.
BETH: Right. And so concrete floors – as long as I scrape the carpet and the padding up and get the glue up the best I can, I can put it right on the concrete. Is that right?
TOM: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. As long as you …
BETH: Without putting a subfloor.
TOM: Just remember that you have long tiles. Or you said they were 20-something inches long? They’re not going to bend, so you have to have a good, totally flat surface there. If you have any looseness under that, they will crack.
BETH: Oh, yeah. OK.
BETH: And when you go down the hallway, do you think I – and I know this one question led to another but should you go straight or from side to side?
TOM: Well, I don’t know.
Leslie, what do you think? You’re the decorator. These are 4×20-something, so they’re almost hardwood floor-like strips except they’re porcelain tile.
LESLIE: I usually – if something is in plank style, I make sure that I run the length of the plank along the longest run of the room.
BETH: Uh-huh. OK.
LESLIE: This way, it makes that hallway seem longer and more uniform. If you’re going side to side, you’re just going to see a whole bunch of staggered seams.
LESLIE: This way, it looks almost like a wood floor, like a plank.
BETH: Yeah, yeah. I think that is a great idea. OK. Well, I appreciate your help. I know you’d have the answer for me. I listen to you guys all the time.
TOM: Alright. Well, good. So glad to help you out with that and good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if last winter’s heating bills were too high or you just felt uncomfortable, you’re likely to feel the same way this summer. Well, you can reduce your monthly heating-and-cooling bills by investing in the right insulation for your home.
TOM: That’s right. Now, insulation is something that a lot of folks don’t think about. It’s there when you move into your home and unless you’re uncomfortable or you’re facing big utility bills, it pretty much gets ignored. But it’s actually one of the most improvements you can make. So we’ve got some tips on the basic types of insulation, presented by Icynene. And basically, there’s four types to know about.
LESLIE: Well, I think the first one that everybody’s most familiar with is fiberglass insulation. Now, that’s made from really fine fiberglass fibers and you can find it in batts or loose fill. And that really works well in walls and ceilings of new construction homes. And you can use it to improve your attic spaces and your crawlspaces, as well, in an existing home. It’s easy to work with but you’ve got to remember you need to wear long sleeves and eye protection because it can, if it touches your skin, make you kind of itchy.
TOM: Absolutely. Now, cellulose is another option. That’s available, typically, in a loose-fill situation. It’s a green product because it’s mostly made from recycled paper. And it can be blown into existing walls and ceilings and it can pack really tightly around those spaces, especially around obstructions like pipes and wires.
LESLIE: Yeah. Another option is mineral wool. Now, that really does seem to be making a comeback and it can either be man-made rock wool, which is derived from natural minerals, or even slag wool. And that can come from blast furnaces that are used to melt metal. Plus, the mineral wool is also fire-resistant, so that’s a really important trait.
TOM: And next, there’s spray foam and that’s what I used to improve my home. It can be sprayed, it can be poured, it can be injected. It’s really lightweight but it has really good coverage. And it gives you a very high R-value, which makes it super warm. It also – and this is the big differentiator between this type of insulation and all the rest – it sticks to surfaces. So it avoids the pitfalls of those other traditional products, like drafts, because it creates sort of an air barrier.
You know, I’ve got a really old house built in 1886. We sprayed this against the exterior walls in the attic and the underside of the roof and it prevented all drafts from coming into that space. My attic now is just as warm as the rest of the house. The heating bills have never been lower, as well as the cooling bills. So it’s pretty astounding what you can do when you apply this product to those surfaces.
So those are the four types of insulation you have to choose from and you want to make the choice that’s right for you.
LESLIE: That’s right. Today’s Insulation Tip was presented by Icynene Classic Max Spray-Foam Insulation. Icynene Classic Max is a high performance, ultra-low-VOC, open-cell spray-foam insulation product that provides both insulating R-value, as well as air-sealing, to maximize energy efficiency and of course, the comfort of your home.
TOM: It’s also GREENGUARD Gold-certified, which allows you to reoccupy your home just two hours after the application. Icynene is the leading brand of insulation and it’s insulated over 600,000 homes since 1986. Learn more at Icynene.com. That’s I-c-y-n-e-n-e.com.
BELINDA: I live in this apartment. It’s a senior complex. It was an old school at one time. It’s three stories. It was completely gutted. Everything’s new on the inside. New double-pane windows. But I’m – it’s in the northeast-corner of the building and I’m having an awful lot of problems with drafts and then cold air coming from the walls, underneath the windows. Because it’s brick and stone on the outside and so there’s the air pocket and the inside wall. And so, at night it’s like living inside a refrigerator and try – really, really. And trying to …
TOM: That does not sound very pleasant.
BELINDA: It’s not. It’s not. I lay in bed at night and I don’t sleep. It’s because I’m just listening – and it’s the heat pump, too, that they put in these. And so it’s going all night long; it never shuts off. And so I’m just wondering if they would – or they probably could, if they would. Because the National Historic Association is also in on this, being it’s an old building.
TOM: So you’re essentially wondering, Belinda, what you can do because you’re a tenant, right? So you don’t own the building.
BELINDA: Right, right.
TOM: You can’t replace the windows. So what are your options? So you have a couple of options.
So, first of all, if you wanted to spend some money, you could order interior storm windows. But of course, your – it’d have to be custom-made to fit the windows and they may be pricey. If you want an inexpensive option, there’s two ways to go. One thing is you could use shrink film, which is basically a window film that gets, essentially, double face-taped to the inside trim and then you use a hair dryer to shrink it so it’s taut and clear.
And the other thing that you can use is weather-stripping – caulk weather-stripping. Basically, it’s a temporary caulk product and it’s clear, like a silicone, but it’s not silicone. And you essentially caulk your windows shut with this temporary caulk. And then, in the spring, you can peel it right off. It comes off like in a rubbery strip.
Now, the only thing bad about using the temporary caulk is that you will not be able to open or close the window once it’s done, because it’s pretty much sealed shut. So you don’t want to do this to your bedroom window where you may have to use it to get out in the event of an emergency.
BELINDA: Actually, they pretty much tried all that. See, the problem is the National Historic Association won’t let them do a lot of stuff. And they hadn’t caulked around the cracks, where the frame of the windows meet the window sill and along the walls. So they came up, they did that.
TOM: So let me say that again, Belinda. We’re not talking about caulking outside the window; we’re talking about caulking inside the window. So, basically, right around the sash, where the sash meets the sill, where the sash meets the jamb, those are the areas that you typically would not caulk, you would never caulk. But if you use the temporary weather-stripping caulk, you can caulk right over those seams where all of the air gets in. And then, again, in the spring, you grab a little end of it and you peel it and it comes off in one – usually one – solid piece.
It works quite well. You may have to order it if you don’t find it on your store shelves. I know Red Devil makes one called Seal ‘N Peel. So you could look at – look up that brand.
Belinda, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, if you’ve ever tripped going up or down a staircase – which, come on, we’ve all done it – chances are it’s not you. It might actually be that the stairs aren’t built correctly. Tommy Silva from This Old House is joining us next with advice on how to build stairs that are safe and sturdy.
TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Get the latest spring trends and hottest styles in bamboo, laminate, wood-look tile, vinyl plank and hardwood floors for less.
ADAM: Hey, this is Adam Carolla. And when I’m not swinging a hammer, I’m catching up on The Money Pit with Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, just ahead, Tom Silva from This Old House will be by with tips to help you get your deck ready for summer, brought to you by Proudly Propane. Clean American energy.
But first, let’s get to more of your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
PHILLIP: Well, in Rhode Island, in my neighborhood in Jamestown, there’s a lot of beautiful, red cedar-shingled houses. And I just put brand-new, red-cedar shingles on my house, on my roof. I noticed some of the houses age beautifully. Like when I – what I mean in beautifully is they age darker red and sometimes little bits of black or streaks of black and red and deep, deep red. And some of them don’t age that way. It’s like – and I’m just wondering if you guys know anything about how to get them to age the way I want them to. I don’t want them to age light; I want them to age darker red.
TOM: Yeah, we don’t always get to choose how we age, right? And that applies to our shingles, as well.
So when you choose red cedar, that gets darker over time and it will turn to a very dark gray, typically, as it’s exposed to sunlight. I guess it’s possible that you could apply a stain to the cedar shingles, even though they’re roofing shingles, but most people don’t do that.
So, what we typically get calls about, when it comes to cedar, is how to not to have – how to prevent them from getting darker. And one way to do that is to replace the vent across the ridge of the roof. Or if you don’t have a vent there, you can essentially do the same thing with a strip of copper.
If you were to overlay the peak of the roof with, say, a 12-inch-wide strip of copper – so half goes on one side and half goes on the other – what happens is as rainwater strikes that, it releases some of the copper. And that acts as a mild mildicide and helps to keep the roof shingles clean and prevents algae growth.
PHILLIP: Oh. But it still – then they wouldn’t age dark; they’d stay lighter.
TOM: It would be less likely to get as dark and they certainly wouldn’t grow an algae. Perhaps you may have noticed that sometimes when you look at houses, especially around chimneys that have metal flashing, you’ll see bright streaks at the bottom of the chimney. That’s for the same reason. What happens is that metal flashing releases some of its copper and then cleans that area under the chimney. That’s why it gets streaky there. But if you do it across the whole peak of the roof, then it will sort of clean evenly.
PHILLIP: It’ll clean evenly. But I’m looking for that aged look: the kind of the darker-shingle aged look, the darker color. And I guess it’s just up to Mother Nature is what you’re saying.
TOM: It really is.
TOM: It really is.
PHILLIP: I appreciate it. Thanks very much, you guys.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, calculating the rise and run of a staircase can be maddening but the actual construction is rather straightforward.
TOM: Well, that’s right. But if you get it wrong, it can be a real tripping hazard. Here with some tips to get it right is Tom Silva, the general contractor for This Old House.
TOM SILVA: Well, thank you. It’s nice to be here, as always.
TOM: You know, invariably, when I walk up and down a step, if I occasionally catch my foot or something feels a little bit off, I’ll look at it. It will be because some part of the stair was not built correctly. Maybe the last step was shorter than the second step. And I think what folks don’t understand is that you sort of get programmed to a step height. And once you take that first step, you expect everything else to be exactly the same.
TOM SILVA: And legally, it’s supposed to be, according to building code. The building code says that a stairway cannot vary over its entire run more than 3/8-inch. That means that risers can’t change their height over the entire run of the stair. So it’s very important that they all match.
LESLIE: Now, is the equation based on the distance you’re trying to cover or is it always an 8-inch rise and a 10-inch run?
TOM SILVA: It’s based on the distance that you’re trying to cover. And the most comfortable riser height is about 7½ inches.
TOM SILVA: To get to that number equally over the run, you take the number that is from the finished at the bottom to the finished at the top and you divide that by eight. The reason that you divide that by eight is because that’s the maximum height that I would want the riser to be. I divide that number by eight, I have a fraction. Let’s say the fraction is 13½. That means that I have 13½ risers. I don’t want a half. I want to round it off to the next. I want 14 risers. I take that 14 and I divide it into that same number that I divided the 8 into and that will end up in a fraction of 7 and something.
TOM: So it has to be eight or less?
TOM SILVA: Eight or less.
TOM: Let’s say we’re building a deck stair and we go from the surface of the deck down to the sidewalk and it’s exactly 48 inches. That’s easy.
TOM SILVA: Mm-hmm. That’s easy.
TOM: We’ve got six risers.
TOM SILVA: You’ve got 6 risers at 8 inches.
TOM: Right. But if it turns out that it’s 50 inches, well, then it’s not so easy because you can’t have an 8¼-inch step or something like that.
TOM SILVA: No. Legally, you can but it’s too high.
TOM SILVA: You take that 8 that you divided into 50 and now you’re going to have a fraction of 6½. So you take the 50 and divide that by 7 and you have a riser height that is 7-1/16.
TOM: Seven-something, right.
LESLIE: Now, if you’re dealing with common core, you have to put the 10s in one column and the 1s in another and then that’s a whole other problem.
TOM SILVA: It sounds complicated but if you remember eight and round it off to the next fraction up and then divide that in.
TOM: Now, we also see stair stringers sold in home centers. And those distances can almost never work out right.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, yeah, it’s true. But if you’re going to use them, I would always say that make the step at the bottom – the riser height at the bottom – be the one that you have to alter. And you can alter that by changing the grade around it. Maybe bring some gravel in, make a step that – out of masonry that will bring it flush to that bottom step.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a great point. Easy way to adjust it at the bottom. Dirt’s a lot easier to handle than calculating the stair stringer.
TOM SILVA: Calculations aren’t that bad.
TOM: Tom Silva, the general contractor from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: Always a pleasure. Nice to be here.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing. We’ll be back with more of your calls, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to help you get whatever project you are working on done right. Plus, we’re giving away a great prize this hour. We’ve got up for grabs a one-year subscription to FilterEasy.com.
It’s a really great concept. I mean this is a service that will take the hassle out of buying your air filters. That’s right. FilterEasy.com, it will help you get the right filter for your house. And it’ll improve those indoor air-quality situations that everybody’s dealing with, especially if you’ve got asthma or allergies or pets in the house. It also makes your house a lot easier to clean.
And then a benefit of having a good air filter is that all of your heating-and-cooling equipment is going to operate more efficiently, which can reduce your energy bill by up to 15 percent when you change your filters regularly. It’s going to cost less than going to the store. Plus, you don’t have to remember when or which filters to buy. Kind of makes it really easy for you.
Check out their website. It’s FilterEasy.com. It’s a year subscription, which is worth about 240 bucks.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
DALE: Our house was built in 1937 and it’s still settling back and forth, spring and winter and summer. And the front door, I’ve had problems getting it to catch the striker plate, so I’ve had to move it back and forth. And we’re at a point now where the house has settled again and I can’t even latch the front door.
TOM: How convinced are you that the house is actually moving, as opposed to the front door just kind of getting out of whack?
DALE: Just about positive. I can see – there’s a different gap at different times of the year. It’ll be like at the top in the summertime and at the bottom in the wintertime and …
TOM: And what kind of door is this? Is this a metal door? A wood door?
DALE: No, it’s a solid-wood door.
TOM: A solid-wood door. And you really like this wood door?
DALE: Yeah, it’s – I think it’s the original door. It’s got the handmade glass in it and the ornate decoration around the edges and …
TOM: Right. So you have no interest in replacing the door?
DALE: No. I put a new door on the back but I really don’t want to lose this door, if I can …
TOM: What I would probably do is, essentially, rehang the door. So what that’s going to require is you removing the trim from around the door, inside and out, so you can see just the jambs. Because I suspect that the jambs are not securely attached to the framing or they may have loosened up over the years. I would basically want to rehang this as if it was a new door but maybe with not doing all the work that would be responsible for that.
So if you pull the trim out, then you’re going to look at the attachment points for the jambs. You’re going to do one final adjustment to getting the door exactly where you want it and then you’re going to re-secure the door jambs to the door frame.
You need to make sure that the space between the door jamb and the door frame is completely shimmed with a wood shim. So you would use wood blocks followed by, usually, cedar shingles, one from one side, one for the other. If you push them together, they get wider and they get thicker and they get nice and tight.
And then, what I would do is – I wouldn’t nail it in. I would actually use a drywall-styled screw – so a long, case-hardened screw – that you can set just below the surface of the door jamb and then putty over it. Because if you attach them with screws and you shim it properly, that door really shouldn’t move.
The expansion and the contraction of the door is about all you really should be – have left. And if it gets tight at one point in the year, I would take the door off and I would trim it a little bit, just to make enough room for it to close when it’s fully expanded.
DALE: OK. That’s something I didn’t think of. Alright. Well, I do appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
GEORGE: Well, we had – I have a geothermal system now. It’s 15 years old. And a couple weeks ago, the compressor went up. And the guy came out who normally services the unit. He went – he recommends not replacing the compressor. He recommends an entirely new unit, everything, the whole shebang.
TOM: OK. How old is the existing system, George?
GEORGE: Fifteen years old.
TOM: OK. I would agree with that.
GEORGE: Oh, OK. OK. That’s …
TOM: That pretty much your question?
GEORGE: Why, yeah, that’s my – because my stepson, who is in the field, keeps insisting to me that – just to replace the compressor. But I – after I went online and I saw the pros and cons of doing that and I hate to just do piecemeal and something happen, you know. I spend money for a compressor and a couple years later, something else goes up.
TOM: Well, the old saying is you don’t want to throw good money after bad.
GEORGE: Right. Sure.
TOM: And if the system is 15 years old, frankly, George, it doesn’t owe you a dime. That’s pretty good life expectancy. So you’ve gotten all your money out of that.
If you replace the whole thing, you’re going to get a much more efficient system out of it, because everything is balanced in systems today. Plus, there’s new refrigerants that are safer. So, I really do think you’re better off replacing it.
GEORGE: Oh, great. OK, OK. Fine. How do you feel about buying a – I want to say another – he wants to do – this guy is recommending not another hot-water heater, like a storage tank to keep the water hot so that we don’t have to use the hot-water heater as much as we do now.
TOM: OK. That’s not an unusual approach. I have a storage tank in my home because my hot water is provided by my boiler, not by a water heater.
GEORGE: Right, right. We used to have that.
TOM: And so by having a storage tank next to the boiler, the storage tank can supply a certain amount of hot water and the boiler doesn’t have to come on every time we need more hot water in the house. So that’s not an unusual approach.
The other thing that you might want to think about is a tankless water heater. That’s another way to go.
GEORGE: Oh, OK. OK. Fine.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, if your bathroom is full of mold, that might be one reason alone to update your bath fan. We’ll be back with more info, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: So pleased you’re here with us today. And we want to let your know that you can join us by podcast. You can subscribe at MoneyPit.com, where you’ll also find several other podcasts that we’re offering right now. We’ve got one, brand new, called “Your Calls, Our Answers.” And you guessed it, it’s just your questions and our answers. You’ve asked for it. It’s up there at MoneyPit.com. Subscribe today and let us know what you think.
And speaking of your questions, Ronnie actually posted one in the Community section. Let’s jump into that right now.
LESLIE: That’s right. Ronnie writes: “The fan on my bathroom light fixture isn’t working. Now, this is a 20-year-old unit that has 3 components with each having its own switch: light, fan and heat light, which has a timer switch that doesn’t seem to work. What’s the simplest way to get things working?”
And holy cow, I know exactly what this light fixture is. We had this in my house growing up as a kid. And that was in the early 80s.
TOM: Is that right? Yeah, it’s an antique.
LESLIE: It’s a classic.
TOM: Hey, Ronnie, here’s the solution. It’s really simple: replace it. It’s not worth saving this. It’s not worth trying to repair it. It’s kind of antiquated. And the thing is there are so many amazing features in the new bath-exhaust fans these days. Those humidistats are built right in so you don’t have to think about a switch.
If your kid jumps in there and takes a shower like mine does and just builds up a whole head of steam in there, well, as soon as that steam starts to form, the fan comes on. And when they leave the bathroom and it’s still wet and damp and humid in there, it stays on. And if it does that, what it’s going to do is cut back on the moisture that’s sitting on the walls, which is going to stop the mold growth.
So for that and a whole bunch of other reasons, in terms of efficiency and cleanliness and preventing mold, you ought to just replace that unit. Could you play around with this thing and fix it and rewire it and take it apart, put it back together? Yeah. But why would you want to do that? I mean geez, for …
LESLIE: And the best part is the heat lamp, is those – seriously, Tom, do you remember those red light bulbs that make you feel like you’re under – like how fast food is …?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Right. And I always thought about the fact that they’re right next to wood framing, too.
LESLIE: Oh, so bad.
TOM: So, who knows if they cause fires over the years but I wouldn’t be surprised. So, again, I would replace it, Ronnie. That’s not the kind of thing you want to mess with. It’s pretty easy now and the new ones are just so efficient.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post from Jimmy. And Jimmy writes: “I live in Northeast Ohio, where we occasionally have subfreezing temperatures. I need to caulk along a concrete slab but most caulking and sealers suggest using above 40 degrees. Can you give me a suggestion for a caulking or sealant that will work in below-freezing temperatures?”
This sounds like something that’s super specialized.
TOM: First of all, we feel your pain. But that’s tough work, man, working out in that weather.
TOM: But there’s actually caulks that do work in that. They’re generally silicone caulks. And I know that OSI has one calked QUAD Max. And the QUAD Max product, on the label, says it can be applied down to 0 degrees. So it stays flexible because it’s not acrylic-based – it’s silicone-based – and you can apply it down to super-cold temperatures. So, good luck. My advice? Do it quickly and get back inside.
LESLIE: Yeah. Working outside, especially in those temperatures, that’s not fun. It’s tough.
TOM: Ugh, I’m having flashbacks even thinking about it. I did that for a long time working construction. And you always dress – overdress, right? You put on lots and lots of layers and then you start to perspire right away and start taking them off. So you’re never comfortable. You’re either too hot or you’re too cold and everything hurts because it’s just hard to move around in that space.
So you want to find products that are going to cooperate with you because think about it: you’ve pretty much got to fight everything else, right, when you’re working in those temperatures? But boy, we used to build houses and build decks in January, because they just had to get done to move those houses to the closing table. And it was tough work.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s definitely not fun. You know what I just got for this past Christmas were some gloves that have built-in heaters. That definitely makes life a lot easier.
TOM: Oh, perfect. Yeah. We didn’t have that when I was banging nails.
LESLIE: No. No, no, no.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for listening. We’re so pleased that you joined us for this program. And we’d love to talk with you about any project that you’re doing in your house. The way to get in touch with us is by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT any time of the day or night. Or you can post your question, perhaps with a photo or two, in the Community section of MoneyPit.com.
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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