Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

  • 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: And what are you working on this beautiful April weekend? We hope it’s your house, well, unless your house is in perfect condition. And then you can have the weekend off. But I tell you nobody’s house is in perfect condition, especially ours.

    LESLIE: Okay. Nobody’s house is in perfect condition. Even if it seems it, there’s always something to do.

    TOM: Yeah, I know. I had to put down the paintbrush just to get to the microphone today, alright? So, no matter what’s going on, we’re here to help you improve that house, because it is the home improvement season. That’s the one thing we love about spring.

    Yeah, people think of it – “That’s spring. It’s flowers and all that.” No, it’s home improvement. That’s what spring means to us. You know, it means people are out fixing up their houses. They’re replacing kitchens and bathrooms and decks and patios and fixing up the yards with the gardening.

    Hey, whatever you’re working on, we’d like to be a part of that project. Slide it over to our to-do list and we’ll work on it together. Call us first at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll get you started, 888-666-3974.

    Well, coming up on today’s show – as the saying goes, Leslie – good fences make good neighbors. But the question becomes: how do you build a good fence? I mean for me, that’s the kind you don’t have to build over and over again because it gets destroyed by rot, termites and carpenter ants. So we’re going to have some solutions for solid fencing, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, it’s all fun and games until you have to actually pay for your home improvement projects. We’re going to have some tips on the best ways to finance those projects, both big and small, as well as insights on the most popular projects of the season.

    TOM: And hey, are you looking forward to laying out on a beautiful, green lawn this summer? Well, you’re going to need to beat back the weeds first. We’ll have some tips on what needs to get done right now to stop those weeds from getting started.

    But first, we want to hear from you. What are you working on? What can we help you with? Be a part of the conversation. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Nick in Iowa is on the line and is doing a tiling project. What can we do for you?

    NICK: I did a project in my bathroom, on the second floor, a couple years ago. And I laid ¾-inch tongue-and-groove down.

    TOM: Plywood?

    NICK: Yes. And then I laid down a ¼-inch fiber-cement underlayment that is meant for tile. And I made sure that the seams weren’t in the same spot as the tongue-and-groove.

    TOM: Right.

    NICK: And it’s been – like I say, it’s been probably two years and I’ve got just a hairline crack running through all my tile that’s right on that tongue-and-groove seam. And I’m getting ready to start a kitchen project where I’m going to do some tiling. And I guess I want to know if you had any suggestions on where I might have went wrong.

    TOM: Well, the very best floor base for a tile project is called a “mud floor.” Do you know what a mud floor is?

    NICK: No, I do not.

    TOM: So a mud floor is one where you put down tar paper first, then you put down woven wire mesh, then you mix up a sand-and-cement – essentially, mud. It’s a very dry mix; not a lot of water to it. Generally, it’s one bag of Portland cement to about 40 shovels of sand. And when you mix it perfectly, you can kind of hold it and it forms sort of a ball in your hand, right?

    Now, you take that mud and that mud mix and you spread it out across the woven wire mesh. And you’ve got to be a pretty good do-it-yourselfer to pull this off, because it’s really a professional tile guy’s way of doing this. But you spread it over the mud. You use a long, straight edge to kind of get it absolutely perfectly flat and you let it dry. And it’s got to be a minimum of maybe 1-inch thick and it could go up to whatever you need it to be.

    For example, I have a laundry room in the second floor of my house. Really old house. And we decided to tile that and there’s just no way I could level this floor any other way. And so, we put down a mud floor. It was about 1 inch on one side of the room. By the time we got to the other side of the room, it was about 2½ inches because the floor had that kind of a slope in it. But then when we were done, it was perfectly flat and absolutely rock solid.

    If you put a mud floor down, you will never, ever, ever get a crack, if you do it right. That’s the best way to do it. Any of those tile-backer products are subject to expansion and contraction and that may help develop some cracks, not to mention the fact that it can’t really help you level a floor that’s out of level.

    Now, when – you said you were doing this in the kitchen. We’ll give you an additional caution: you’ve got to be very careful around the dishwasher. Because if you put a thick floor around that dishwasher, you may not be able to get the dishwasher back in again. Or you can do as this ridiculous tile guy did at my sister’s house. He tiled her dishwasher in. So when the dishwasher had to be replaced, I had to help her take the countertop off of the sink, off of the cabinets, take the sink out, take the countertop up in order to lift the dishwasher out from the cabinets and replace it, which was really ridiculous and very annoying.

    NICK: That doesn’t sound like what I want to do, no.

    TOM: No. So don’t tile your dishwasher in and watch the thickness of the floor so that you can actually get the dishwasher back in if you take it out.

    NICK: Alright. Sounds good. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Call us. We’ll give you more work, 888-666-3974. Thanks so much, Nick.

    You know, we always say, “Do it once, do it right and you won’t have to do it again.” And that is absolutely true when it comes to putting down tile. If you don’t take the time to put in a proper base, you will ultimately be repeating the process.

    LESLIE: We’re going to talk with Dot in Wisconsin who’s got a decking question. How can we help you with your project?

    DOT: Yes. My deck is located on the south side of my house and every year, we’ve been putting a paint on it. And it’s where we get a lot of sun. And I’m wondering if there’s a special kind of paint I should use, because it peels a lot.

    TOM: So, there are special paints for decks. And if you’re continuing to put more coats of paint on the old deck, my concern is that you’re never going to get good adhesion. You may have too many coats of paint on that now.

    Are you using paint or stain, Dot?

    DOT: I believe it’s a paint.

    TOM: I’m afraid, at this point, what you really need to do is to remove that paint so you can get down to the original wood. Because you can’t put good paint over bad paint; it’s going to continue to peel. And once you get down to that wood, then you should prime it and then paint it.

    But if you’re able to get most of the paint off – and perhaps you can because, apparently, it’s not sticking well, where you really don’t have too much left – then I would recommend not using paint on it. I would use solid-color stain. It’s still going to give you a continuous color but it’s going to absorb better into the wood and it’ll kind of fade rather than peel. And I think that’s what you’re shooting for.

    DOT: OK. Is there a certain type of product to remove the stuff that’s on there now?

    TOM: Yeah, there’s a wide variety of paint strippers out there. I would look for one of the citrus-based products and try that. You’re going to – you may have to try a couple of them until you find the one that works best with your particular deck.

    DOT: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Dan in Pennsylvania is on the line with a plumbing question. What can we help you with?

    DAN: Yes, my son has an older house with cast-iron or steel drainpipes and they go – the main line goes straight down from the toilet and then under the basement floor. And he’s continually getting clogs because of the – the cast iron gets rough over time and tends to catch things.

    So I’m wondering – I realize normal drain lines, you drop them an inch a foot so you don’t get too fast a drain and siphon out the traps. But can you – with the main line, can you do pretty much whatever you want with that? Like, say, two 45s and then straight down to get it to the edge of the property? And then that way I’d only have to tear up a little bit to get to – out of the house with the plastic pipe.

    TOM: Well, you may not have to tear anything up. There’s a pipe-lining technology that you can consider where, essentially, they reline the cast-iron pipes with a fiberglass sleeve that’s smooth and doesn’t have those types of obstructions. It also helps stop root growth that can sometimes get into the seams of cast-iron piping.

    DAN: Awesome.

    TOM: And that can be done with the pipes in place. You wouldn’t have to tear anything up.

    DAN: I would have to cut the pipe though, I’m guessing, because if it goes down and then underneath the portion of the basement at some sort of a – probably a 90. And there may be a trap in – under the basement floor, as well.

    TOM: But all of this can be done without you having to access it. Because the way the pipe lining works is – first of all, they put a camera down there to figure out which way the drains are going and they can do that with a pipe camera. And then they run what looks kind of like a fiberglass sock through the pipe.

    And it’s kind of like – if you can imagine turning a sock inside out, they do that with water pressure. And it turns inside out and sort of forms against the inner walls of the cast-iron pipe and then sort of dries and hardens to this sort of very strong, smooth surface that won’t obstruct the flow.

    DAN: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Just ahead, they say good fences make good neighbors. But they also add style and value to your home. We’ll have tips on how to pick and build the best fences, in today’s Pro Project presented by, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: From demolition to décor, we’ve got you covered with tips and advice to help you get the jobs done around your house. Give us a call, right now, with your questions, your comments at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. HomeAdvisor can instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.

    LESLIE: John in Wisconsin is on the line with a washer/dryer question. Tell us what you’re thinking about there.

    JOHN: We were thinking of putting a washer and dryer in our spare bedroom. And where we want to is next to an inner wall. And I was wondering, if we vented it up through into the attic, through the insulation so it’d come out on top, would that be damaging to the – it’d be too much moisture in there or not?

    LESLIE: Now, would this still remain a guest room or would this become a new, snazzy laundry room?

    JOHN: Yeah, it’d be a laundry room, yeah.

    LESLIE: Generally, when you talk about resale value, the amount that you could possibly resell your house for directly correlates to the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms that you have. So, you may want to start by talking with a local realtor who’s familiar with home values in your neighborhood, as to what the effect might be to removing a bedroom.

    Now, if you have no intention to sell and you’ve got this dream to have just a kick-butt, gigantic laundry room with perhaps a sewing area and enough ironing space, then this could be awesome for you guys.

    TOM: Now, in terms of your technical questions, obviously, you’re going to have to get hot and cold water there and you’re going to have to get electricity there for your washer and your dryer and 240-volt if it’s electric dryer. Venting was the one question you had and can you go up through the wall into the attic? Yes. But you can’t stop there. You have to continue with that vent, John, until it gets outside. You cannot dump the warm, moist, lint-ladened dryer exhaust up into the attic; you’ve got to take it outside.

    So, what you should do is only use solid-metal piping, not flex ducting. Get it up in the attic and turn it 90 degrees and then run it across the floor, so to speak, above the joists and then out the side wall of the house, with a proper dryer-vent termination on the outside of it. And the test is when you turn the dryer on, you look outside, you should see the flap open up. You really don’t want to have any restriction. It’s very important you get that lint out, because there’s a lot of dryer fires that happen because people collect too much lint inside those pipes.

    JOHN: Oh, I see. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Alright?

    JOHN: Yeah. Very good.

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

    Well, putting up a fence can add style and security and value to your property but it can also be an eyesore, it can be a maintenance headache and it can cause a battle with your neighbors. So, to avoid the pitfalls, you need a pro and you have to plan carefully. We’re going to share tips on how to do just that, in today’s Pro Project presented by

    Now, first – and this is really, really important – you need to check your property lines. I know you think you know where your lines are but unless you have a survey done and maybe some corners set – and you don’t want to build in your neighbor’s yard. Because if you find out that you’re just a scooch over the line, they can make you tear the whole darn thing down. You’re also going to want to check with local officials to make sure you don’t need a permit to build your fence, because many do. And once you’re sure about those things, you can start thinking about what kind of fence you want to buy.

    LESLIE: Now, fencing’s available in so many materials and that includes natural and pressure-treated woods, vinyl and metal.

    Now, the natural wood can be beautiful but it’s going to require the most maintenance. You’ve also got to remember that there are two sides to that fence and it’s got to look good from the outside, as well as the inside. And most building codes require that the good side – the better side, the one you pick out – actually faces your neighbors.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. And don’t try to save money on the gate, either. That part of your fence is going to take the most wear and tear and it can also be a security risk or a danger if it’s left open. Especially if you’re using a pool fence, it’s got to have a spring hinge that will help swing it back into place to prevent kids from wandering into that pool area. So, real important that you have a very good-quality gate on that fence.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, let’s talk about the cost. Now, according to’s True Cost Guide, homeowners on average are spending $2,550 on a fence project. But prices do vary by the region, material and project, as well as the size and the difficulty. So it’s important to keep specific materials and dimensions in mind as you’re estimating your project price and then build a budget from there.

    For example, wood options average around $2,700 while a chain-link fence averages around $1,900. And the vinyl fences are far more expensive and they range closer to 3,500.

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

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

    DIANE: We live in New Jersey. And my dad had the Pennsylvania Dutch come all the way to New Jersey. And they put up a beautiful gambrel pole barn with that nice shape to it.

    TOM: OK.

    DIANE: But I noticed there are little rafters along the edge. And even though they have little holes in them, every year the flies come in through there and I have hundreds, all dead, at the end of summer. And I don’t know what I could do to stop that problem.

    TOM: So, you have – this is a barn that you have and it’s a fairly open barn? I mean you’re not going to keep the flies out of the barn. You can’t make it that tight because by the nature of the building, it’s pretty drafty, correct?

    DIANE: Well, actually, my dad – we never had any animals near stalls but he – it’s completely closed all the time. It’s got two electric doors at either end and a door, so it is contained. The only way they’re getting in is through – under the edges of the roof, there’s a – it looks like a – I don’t know. You know the gutters, sort of? It looks like gutters – gutter situation. And there’s an opening there and the sunlight and the air go through, which I guess you need for animals. But we’re not using it for animals.

    TOM: So at the room edge, the rafters, does it have a complete soffit? Is it constructed so that you have a flat, vented area underneath it? Or is it just wide open?

    DIANE: No. There is a vented area. They have looked at it closely. And it appears to have – and it’s got little holes in it big enough for flies.

    TOM: So they’re not getting in this soffit area where you’re suspecting.

    DIANE: I don’t know. I thought they were coming through those holes.

    TOM: Yeah. But if they’re that small, they’re not coming in. Look, typically, soffit ventilation is too small for insects to get into. So they’re probably coming in a different way. Do you have a ridge vent at the peak?

    DIANE: Actually it’s just for looks because when I – there is a staircase that goes up to the top of the barn and there’s no openings in the roof.

    TOM: Diane, if you’re trying to keep these barn flies out of the barn, there’s really two ways to approach this. Mechanical, which is what we’re talking about in terms of making sure that you have screening wherever it’s necessary. And this would include any vents, gable vents, cupola vents, soffit vents and the like. And of course, you mentioned that it has large doors that generally stay closed. I guess there’s not much you can do right there.

    But the second technique is chemical. And there are professional pesticides that are designed specifically to deal with these flies. There’s usually some formulation of pyrethrin that essentially is sprayed inside the barn to control these insect populations. And in fact, in some cases where you actually have livestock, there are formulations that can also be applied to the livestock without harming them.

    So, I would do two things: I would make sure that I examine the barn very carefully for any additional openings where these flies can get in; and then I would consult a pest-management professional for an appropriate application of pesticide, because you have such a severe problem. I don’t think this is anything you’re going to be able to handle with, say, a more natural, smaller-scale approach like I might give you for your house. In this case, I think you need to choose the right product and have it applied properly. And when done, in accordance with all the label directions, I think it is a relatively safe thing to do.

    I hope that helps you out. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit. Hey, do you have a home improvement project in your spring to-do list? Well, we can help. Give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the best home service pros in your area. You can read reviews and book appointments online.

    TOM: And just ahead, it’s all fun and games until you have to actually pay for your home improvement projects. We’re going to have tips on the best ways to finance your projects, both small and big, as well as insights on the most popular projects of the season, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, home improvement is hot this year. According to a new survey by LightStream, 73 percent of homeowners plan to renovate their homes this year. That’s actually a 26-percent increase from 2018.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And what’s also surprising is that Americans are now prioritizing personalization over increasing the value of their home for resale.

    TOM: With us to talk about that and share some tips on how to pay for your home improvement projects is Todd Nelson. Todd is the senior vice president of strategic partnerships for LightStream.

    Welcome, Todd.

    TODD: Thanks, Tom. Thanks, Leslie.

    TOM: So, you guys have been doing this survey now for six years. And some of the trends you’ve seen develop are really interesting, including this latest trend this year with a renewed interest in personalization. What’s driving it?

    TODD: You know, it’s interesting. So, this year, I was surprised when we got the results back. And as you mentioned, nearly three-quarters of people are planning on making a home improvement. I think the big driver is that people are telling us that they’re planning on staying in their homes for longer periods of time. I think it was nearly 60 percent of the people said that they’re going to stay in their home 10 years or more or have no plans of ever moving out. And so, staying put means you’re going to be in your house, you want it reflect your lifestyle and people are making changes so that they can enjoy the home they’re in, rather than thinking about flipping it and moving on to the next one.

    LESLIE: Now, do you find that they’re spending more money because it’s a personal drive on the decision there?

    TODD: They are. And so this year, in our sixth year, this was the highest average amount that people plan to spend. It was just over $9,000 this year and that was up 32 percent over last year.

    TOM: Wow, that’s pretty significant. But for 9,000 bucks, you’re not going to do a kitchen or a bathroom. Aside from those sort of typical big repairs and big improvements, what other sorts of projects were they doing, Todd?

    TODD: Well, so keep in mind that’s an average, right? So, nearly three-quarters said that they were going to do something. If you look at what people told us they were looking to do, about 29 percent said they were going to tackle some kind of home repair. So that could include windows, roofing, maybe doors or solar. Thirty-one percent said they wanted to do a kitchen renovation. And 37 percent said they wanted to tackle a bathroom renovation. That’s very similar to what we saw last year.

    The biggest thing people said that they were planning for 2019 was outdoor. And 41 percent of the people that we surveyed said that they wanted to tackle some kind of outdoor project this year.

    LESLIE: I mean that’s great. Everybody wants to get outside.

    Do you even look into how people are thinking about paying for these renovations? Are they dipping into savings? Are they borrowing money?

    TOM: We did. And so the survey this year, 60 percent of the people that we surveyed said they planned on using their savings to pay for all or part of their project. Another 32 percent said they planned on using a card. Home equity and home improvement loans were another 13 and 10 percent respectively. And then six percent said they planned to dip into their investments in order to pay for their home improvement project.

    TOM: That sounds a little scary: dipping into your investments to pay for home improvement. What are some of the questions you should ask yourself when trying to decide how you should pay for it? Let’s assume you have some options. You’ve got a credit card where maybe the interest rate is a bit crazy, maybe you have some equity in your home so you can get a home equity loan. What kinds of questions should you be asking yourself to determine what’s the best way to go for the project?

    TODD: Well, certainly, savings is a nice option. If you have the cash, it’s nice not to have to take on any additional debt. But oftentimes, people want to have some money set aside for emergency fund or other things. So, you might not want to liquidate your savings for a home improvement project. Credit cards are certainly a very convenient option. And I think for smaller projects – if you’re just going to do, say, paint a room or do some small repairs – credit cards make a ton of sense.

    For larger projects, though, there are lots of options. And so if you happen to have equity in your home, certainly you could look at a home equity loan. And now, the unsecured consumer-loan options, like the ones that LightStream provides, very low interest rates and no fees. And so, someone can get up to $100,000 from a lender like LightStream in as quickly as a day. And our interest rates in home improvement start below six percent, so that’s a pretty attractive option. Certainly lower than the interest rate that someone might pay on a credit card.

    TOM: That’s interesting, because I guess you’ve got to assume that folks that are improving their home are probably pretty responsible people if they’re taking the time to take care of the place that takes care of them.

    TODD: Absolutely. And being a homeowner comes with both a responsibility but also a sense of pride. And so, I think people, like we talked about earlier, want to personalize their home. They want to have it reflect their lifestyle, whether it’s redoing their backyard and putting up a pergola or some other outdoor-living features. They want things that reflect the things they’re interested in, help them entertain their friends and family and really enjoy their home space more.

    LESLIE: Either way, I think whatever direction you go in, improving your home is such a great decision. But really thinking about how you’re paying for this improvement can totally relieve the stress and help you just enjoy the process and the project that much more.

    TODD: And we think it’s important that the first thing that any homeowner do is really create a budget. Make sure that you think through how much money can you really afford to spend on the project. And then get into the details. Figure out whether or not it’s something that you can tackle as a do-it-yourself project. Or is it something that involves a plumber or an electrician where you really want to hire a pro to make sure that you don’t have any problems down the road? So, setting a budget and being smart about it and doing your research.

    If you’re going to have a contractor come in, get multiple bids. I can tell you, from my own experience in the last month, we got three different bids for a fairly small project. And the costs varied so much for the same exact work, so it does pay to shop around, to have multiple bids and to do your homework. Do the research and find out what the materials are going to cost. Find out what other people in your area have paid. That’ll really go a long way towards helping a homeowner set their budget.

    TOM: Yeah, we always tell our audience that the more you know before the pro comes in, the better off you are because, essentially, you’re creating your own spec. And all the pros that walk in the door are going to bid sort of apples to apples. It’ll be easy to compare what each is charging for your project.

    TODD: So true. That’s great advice.

    Todd Nelson, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for LightStream, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Todd.

    Hey, if you’d like more information about all the options LightStream offers for home improvement project financing, visit their website at That’s

    Thanks again, Todd.

    TODD: Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Hey, if you’re looking forward to laying out on a beautiful, green, lush lawn this summer, we’ve got some steps that you need to take right now to keep the weeds at bay. We’ll share those tips to stop the weeds from getting started, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, floorboards to shingles, gazebos to garages, give us a call now with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You’ll find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: And what are you working on this fine spring weekend? We really want to hear and we want to help. Give us a call, right now, at 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Louise in Delaware is on the line with some carpenter bees visiting her home. Tell us what’s going on.

    LOUISE: Yes, ma’am. I have a deck in my – at my back door and I have a roof. It doesn’t extend all the way out to the end of the deck. Just about halfway. And I’ve been having, for several years, a major problem with carpenter bees. They actually make perfectly round holes in the roof of the deck.

    And I had an exterminator a couple of years ago and he said he would spray it but no guarantees. And he sprayed it and maybe for about five days I didn’t see them but they came right back. But someone told me – it was actually another exterminator, a really older lady. She said to get steel wool and put steel wool in the holes because they can’t get out through the steel wool. Because my cousin put cotton balls soaked in bleach in the holes she had on her deck and they actually ate through the cotton balls and they ate through the caulking.

    TOM: There’s the do-it-yourself methods and there’s the professional methods. I’m troubled by the fact that you hired an exterminator – it sounds like it was some time ago – and he wouldn’t guarantee a result. That’s not acceptable. Most professional exterminators have the tools, the knowledge and the pesticides to effectively eliminate carpenter bees with a reasonable guarantee of success.

    So, if you have such a serious problem as this, I would definitely suggest that you go find yourself a new exterminator, maybe from a national-brand company like Orkin. You’d have better success with that.

    Now, if you want to do this yourself, the reason that the bees form those holes is because they’re nesting. And so the way they’re treated is you spray a pesticide inside those holes. You can also spray something that’s petroleum-based inside the holes, because they don’t like that. You can fill them with steel wool.

    There’s lots of ways that you could try this yourself. But given the severity of the problem, I would suggest you find a good exterminator that can treat it with the right type of pesticide and you not have to worry about it. And I don’t think you had a pro last time. You get a pro to address this problem and just get it done, once and for all, alright?

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

    Well, we all love a lush, green lawn but sometimes, what’s green isn’t exactly grass nor is it very lush. In fact, weeds can destroy a lawn and remove any chance of turning your backyard into a perfect putting spot.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. But when you consider that just one dandelion plant can make up to 15,000 weed seeds, it’s a wonder that any of us win this battle against the green invaders at all.

    TOM: Well, there is a great way to beat back weeds in your lawn and it’s easy to apply. It’s a product called Weed Beater Ultra. It’s made by Bonide and it can kill over 200 broad-leaf weeds without harming the lawn. And this weekend is really a good time to apply the product.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And usually, after you apply a weed killer, you need to wait a month before you reseed the lawn. And that’s another reason we like this product is that you can actually reseed just two weeks after application. So you’re going to get that full lawn going that much faster.

    TOM: Weed Beater Ultra works in cool temperatures, down to 45 degrees, so chilly spring nights are not a problem. Bonide products are family-made in the U.S.A. for over 90 years. Learn more by visiting

    LESLIE: Alan in Idaho is on the line with a crack in a foundation. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    ALAN: You know, when I first bought the house, a contractor buddy of mine said it was no big deal and he gave me some epoxy. Said to drill some holes in it and squirt it in there until it mushed out all the way through and then just go ahead and smooth it off. Well, I didn’t seal it but it’s cracked right again beside it.

    TOM: OK. So you have a crack in the foundation that you filled with epoxy and it’s continuing to crack. Is that the case?

    ALAN: Correct.

    TOM: How old is your house?

    ALAN: Sixty-seven is when it was built.

    TOM: Alright. So it’s concrete-block wall or cinderblock wall, correct?

    ALAN: It’s concrete.

    TOM: Now, do you have any drainage issues around the house?

    ALAN: Not that I know of.

    TOM: Have you had any moisture in the basement or signs of that?

    ALAN: The only time I’ve ever had any moisture in the basement is a previous owner drilled a hole in the floor and ran the condensate drain through the air conditioner into the floor.

    TOM: Alright. That’s not the kind of moisture we’re concerned about. The reason I asked that question is because it sounds like your wall is a little unstable and that it’s continuing to move. And the first thing to do when that happens – if it’s not a serious crack, not one where the wall is being displaced – is to make sure that your grading and your drainage conditions are absolutely letter-perfect. Because the more water that soaks around the outside of that house, the more water that comes off gutters and gets discharged against the wall, the weaker that foundation gets.

    It’s kind of like this: when it’s rainy and you walk across a field, you sink into the mud because wet dirt is not as strong as dry dirt. So we want to try to keep the dirt around your house – and specifically, under your footing – as dry as possible. So drainage control is important.

    Now, beyond that, if this is just sort of a hairline crack that’s forming – is that what we’re talking about here?

    ALAN: Yeah, yeah, it is. Well, the original one was a pretty good-sized crack but …

    TOM: Well, what I would do if it’s a hairline crack is I would fill it with silicone caulk, because it will expand and contract and won’t – epoxy is pretty stiff if it’s going to break and crack through it. So I would just fill it with silicone caulk; that will just keep out some moisture and drafts from coming through it.

    ALAN: Alright. And now, if I dig down – I know it doesn’t go clear to the footing because I’ve been down that far. I dug down to see how far it went down. And so, dig down and suggest maybe tarring it up below grade?

    TOM: I wouldn’t go through all that. I mean right now, it’s – I would just improve the drainage conditions and seal the crack from the inside where you can.

    ALAN: OK.

    TOM: Alright? I don’t think it’s going to really add to it to tar up the whole foundation. You don’t seem to have any major moisture problem here, so we’re just trying to deal with the drafts and any potential leakage in the future.

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

    LESLIE: Well, with the beautiful weather, it’s also picnic time. And while picnic and barbecues can be fun, they come with their very own set of stains. We’re going to have quick cleanups for spilled sauce, grease, mustard and more, after this.

    I feel like you’re talking to me, Tom. You know it.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us, right now, with your home improvement question on the listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, 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: And remember, while you’re online, you can post your questions on The Money Pit’s website at the Community section. And I’ve got one here from Rachel who writes: “I recently bought a small home made in 1991. It’s a fine home that sits on a hill. I discovered that there’s no vapor barrier on the ground in the crawlspace. I don’t notice any resulting problems but the first floor feels cold to my bare feet even though there’s insulation under the floor. Should I be adding a vapor barrier? And if so, why?”

    TOM: Well, vapor barriers are always a good idea when you have a crawlspace. They reduce humidity in that space and they’re also going to reduce the amount of moisture that can evaporate of off the soil of the – that’s under the floor of the crawlspace. And that has a couple of benefits, Rachel.

    First of all, it reduces the risk of mold and decay forming on the floor framing. Because all that humidity rests on the wood and then the woods get damp and it starts to rot away. And also, it’s going to make your insulation work better. Because if you keep the insulation drier at those lower humidity levels, it actually insulates more. But it is not likely, though, to make your floor feel warmer to those bare feet. For that, you need to much improve the insulation or maybe even the type of insulation.

    So, our advice: yes, put the crawlspace vapor barrier down. That will help for all the reasons that we said. But for the floor joists itself, you might want to add some additional unfaced fiberglass batts there and perhaps a few area rugs on top to care of those chilly tootsies in the morning.

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. Area rugs really do help a tremendous amount. Plus, they look good and you really can finish up the décor of a space by adding in a beautiful area rug.

    And it gives you an opportunity to change them seasonally, too. It’s the best way to add in the colors of the season. It can feel like a holiday, it can feel like springtime, it can have materials of summer. It’s a really inexpensive and easy way to bring that season into the house, so think about it. Store those rugs nicely and you can change the look any time you want.

    TOM: Well, now that the weather is turning warm, it is picnic time once again. Don’t let the inevitable stains that accompany that outdoor eating, though, ruin the fun. Leslie has quick fixes for stains, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    Leslie? You are the expert at making stains, so I guess you’re the expert at cleaning them up.

    LESLIE: You know, for being super tidy and organized, I’m a terribly messy eater. It’s so ridiculous. I’m constantly ruining shirts. So this is very, very helpful.

    Picnics, they really are a summertime tradition. But eating outside can be messy. I mean where do you put your plate? How do you hold everything? Inevitably, a drink spills or a sandwich drops or the rib spills on your blouse. So, you’ve got to know how to treat those stains so they don’t ruin all of your new, fun summer clothing.

    Now, if we’re talking about barbecue sauce, you need to flush the cold water from the underside of the fabric and blot with liquid laundry detergent, then sponge with white vinegar. Now, you can apply a stain treatment and then wash. The same step is going to work for ketchup and mustard, so this is your condiment killer there. Okay, you guys?

    Now, if we’re talking about berries – because summer is berry time, cobblers, all those things. You’re eating strawberries, you’re eating blueberries. You’re just eating berries and you should be. So what you have to do there is mix a tablespoon of white vinegar with a ½-teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent and a quart of water. Now, this time, you’ve got to let the fabric soak for about 15 minutes and then wash. If it’s a really tough stain, you can blot with alcohol.

    I know you’re going to make some more messes. We’ve got grass stains, we’ve got everything else that happens in the summertime. So head on over to and you’ll find a ton about stain removal.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending part of your weekend with us. If you’ve got questions you can’t get answers to about your home project, your décor projects, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or always through our social-media channels, including, Twitter and Instagram.

    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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