Home Improvement You Must Do Right Now

  • Do it yourselfer
  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: What are you working on this fall weekend? If it’s in your house, you are in the right place. That’s what we’re doing, too. And if you’ve got a project that you’d like to take on and don’t know how to get started, maybe you’re stuck in the middle of a project, those would be great reasons to pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Maybe you want to do a job but you don’t know if you can do it yourself or you need to hire a pro. Maybe you have hired a pro and you’re not so sure if they’re doing the right job. Hey, whatever job, whatever project, whatever task you are working on around your house, we would love to help. Help yourself first, though, by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, if we told you there was one home improvement – just one – that could prevent cracked foundations, rotten siding and leaky roofs, would you do it? Of course you would yet surprisingly, many people don’t. We’re going to tell you what that project is, just a bit.

    LESLIE: And if you’re planning a home improvement project, you know you have to budget for materials, the cost of the contractor for help, all of those things. But did you also know that you need to budget for the hidden costs of home improvements, as well? We’re going to share some of those money drains and tell you how you can prepare.

    TOM: And fall is upon us. But with all those leaves falling from the trees, what’s the best way to get rid of them? We’ll have that answer, coming up.

    LESLIE: But first, we want to hear from you. What are you working on, guys? Give us a call. We’ve got tips, we’ve got answers. You want to talk decorating? You want to remodel? You want some holiday tips? Whatever it is, we’re here to lend a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    I’m happy to see we’ve got a lot of fall home improvers out there. Let’s get to those calls. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Tim in Arkansas, who’s got some concrete issues with his patio and his garage. You know, maybe he wouldn’t have these problems if his friends didn’t help him with it.

    What’s going on, Tim?

    TIM: When it rains, it’s busting it and causing it to have holes in the concrete. And it’s just like it’s washing it away. And then I do have a 4-inch slab and the concrete is cracking.

    TOM: Alright. So the patio is a 4-inch slab, the concrete is cracking. Are there a lot of cracks in it? Like is it severely deteriorated?

    TIM: Well, no. But it’s like – I don’t know. It’s kind of like going to the center of the garage and it’s like it started from the 4×4 part, the 8×8 pole. And it’s just kind of – oh, it’s just, I don’t know, just cracking. I don’t know how deep it is but it’s just kind for cracking all the way across.

    TOM: So is the concrete slab inside the garage or is it next to the garage?

    TIM: Right, right. It’s just inside the garage. It’s bent over the …

    TOM: So, look, there’s no easy way to fix this. All you can do is seal the cracks and cut down on the moisture that’s getting through there. Generally, when those slabs crack, it’s because there was some organic material underneath them that rotted away or perhaps the soil wasn’t compacted enough when it was first installed.

    Replacing the slab is a project. Not probably as big of a project as you might think but it is a project. But unless it’s so cracked and so deformed that it’s causing a tripping hazard or some other concern like that, I wouldn’t do anything further than just sealing it and moving on.

    TIM: OK. Well, it’s just a hairline crack. Yeah, you don’t think it’ll get any worse, do you?

    TOM: It could but it’s not unusual for these slabs to have hairline cracks.

    TIM: OK, OK. It’s not bothering anything. I just don’t know how deep it is or …

    TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t panic over it. It’s not a structural issue, because the floor is basically just there to give you a surface to drive on. It’s not tied into the foundation of the house.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going over to Michigan, where Linda is on the line and wants to add onto a farmhouse. How can we help you with that?

    LINDA: Well, I have about a 100-year-old farmhouse and I – the only bathroom is upstairs. It’s a two-story farmhouse. And I want to age in place, so I want to add another bathroom downstairs. And also, I inherited a doll collection from my mother and it’s stored in all the storage in all the rooms, so I kind of want to bring it into one room and add another room for that and hobbies.

    People have been suggesting that I just – oh, just add a – break up one of the rooms in the house and just put a bathroom any old place. But the rooms are really well proportioned; it’s good cross-ventilation. I don’t want to have a mess. I want to have some style to the additions, so people have suggested that I go to either an architect or a drafter or interior designer. I don’t know – I’m not sure what that process involves and how many I should go to or …

    TOM: Well, I think that you hit the nail on the head and that is to hire an architect. Because, essentially, you want to make sure that whatever you do to this house flows and maintains its structural integrity, as well as its design integrity. So an architect can help you do just that.

    Selecting where to put that bathroom will be a balance of compromises trying to decide where it fits best in the design, where the plumbing is now, what it would take to get the plumbing where it needs to be for this particular bathroom and then how best to design those rooms for your collections and that sort of thing. The architect can handle with the structure and the mechanical systems. Once that’s done, then you could consider bringing in an interior designer to help lay it out and choose colors, choose furniture and make it work for you visually.

    LESLIE: And I think the other good thing about bringing in the architect is they may have an interior designer that they work with. You can bring in your own. They’ll be able to sort of work together to help you specify the right materials for the right areas. So it really is a strong partnership.

    LINDA: I see. Now, do I bring – do I talk or consult with two architects and get their ideas? Or do I just go with one and get the designs?

    TOM: What I would do is I would bring in one or two or maybe three architects to see the property, tell them what you want to accomplish, find out how they work. You get a feel for them, yeah, they get a feel for you and then you make a decision based on that.

    LESLIE: I think you meet with somebody – you meet with two or three architects, as Tom suggested. Just get a feel for them, because you’re going to know if you want to work with them, you’re going to know how well you communicate back and forth. You’ll sort of spitball ideas there during that meeting and get a really good sense of how much they’re understanding you. And whoever you feel the most comfortable with, I think, is what’s going to lead you to the right decision. And then you’ll start drawings.

    LINDA: OK. I did get a card from someone who used them but – used this person but he was – this card says he’s a drafting consultant.

    TOM: You don’t want a drafter, OK? You want an architect. You just want an architect – a good-quality architect. So focus on that first. You can take – usually, they’ll have books that show some of their past projects. You can see what kind of work they do.

    You know, it’s going to be – you’ll figure out, through a process of elimination, which one you’re most comfortable with and that’s the person that’s going to get the job. But they’re well worth the investment because they’re going to make this process easy and they’re going to be – you’re going to be assured that it comes out exactly as you plan.

    If you bring in some – if you go right to the contractor step, they’re just going to squeeze this bathroom in wherever they think it fits and you’re not going to be happy with it. So get the architect; they’re well worth their investment.

    LINDA: OK. Great.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Richard in Illinois on the line who’s getting some water through the foundation. Tell us what’s going on.

    RICHARD: What it is is over time – I’ve got a ranch house with a walkout basement. And on the walkout, when you come out, there is a retaining wall that is about 8 foot tall where it meets the house. It hasn’t really separated from the house but there is water that gets in between the retaining wall and the foundation and then it gathers right at the bottom, on a heavy rain, and then seeps back into the basement. So, I’m trying to figure out – the previous owner that had this house is – put something in there, like a caulking of some type, that has gotten hard over time and it’s not slowing it down too much.

    TOM: So this is a gravity situation, so let’s give you a gravity solution. Let’s have the drainage work with you and not against you. And by the way, you can seal this until the cows come home and it’s still going to find its way in. What you have to do is stop the water from accumulating.

    So, on the opposite side of this retaining wall, I’m guessing that there’s some runoff that goes towards the wall?

    RICHARD: Yes, there is.

    TOM: So what you’re going to want to do is intercept that runoff so we don’t get as much water that collects in that area. What we want to try to do is limit the amount of water that gets in that area to just direct rainfall with no runoff. That means no gutter discharge, no runoff from higher elevations. So, the way we do that is, first of all, examine the gutter situation and make sure there’s no water dropping at the high side of this where it could work its way down. If there is, you’ve got to run a pipe underground to get it to a place where it’s not going to interfere with leakage into the basement.

    Secondly, in terms of intercepting the runoff, what you could do is install something called a “curtain drain,” Richard. It’s a really – it’s a rather simple drain that you might construct yourself. You dig a trench that’s about 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide, you put some stone in that trench. Then you put a perforated pipe on top of the stone, surround it with more stone, lay a piece of filter cloth across the top and cover it with soil. So when it’s all done, it’s invisible.

    And the end of that drain that you just installed should exit to daylight somewhere, so you need to figure out the best way to do that based on the configuration of your yard. What that will do is it’ll intercept the water that’s coming down from higher elevations. It’ll fall into that trench, come up into the pipe and then run around the house as opposed to collecting in that particular corner. If we can keep the water from collecting in that area, you will probably be just fine, because it’s rare that just direct rainfall accumulates enough water to actually leak in the house. It’s almost always the runoff from gutters and from drainage.

    RICHARD: Right. And needless to say, I’ll probably have to do some – get rid of some landscaping, because it’s got some little, green bushes there along that wall, as well, so …

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s a good point, because sometimes you can make the problem worse by having landscaping that traps water. So just think in terms of water control here, not in terms of trying to seal that water out, and I think you’ll be in good shape.

    Richard, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    Just ahead, cleaning your gutters isn’t exactly the kind of project that you look forward to but it’s one that can prevent a whole host of expensive repairs if you leave it undone. We’re going to have tips on the easiest way to tackle that job, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show.

    The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call with your home improvement questions at 888-666-3974 presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

    LESLIE: Mindy in Kentucky is on the line and has a flooring question. How can we help you with your project?

    MINDY: Yes. We have a really hideous linoleum in our – on our kitchen floor that’s actually been in the house since we bought it. And of course, it’s starting to peel up and there’s actually other linoleum under it. And actually, I’m really afraid to dig any deeper to see how many levels might be on it.

    I was just wondering, is it worth the time and effort and possible extra cost to just take everything up?

    TOM: Do you have a dishwasher in that kitchen?

    MINDY: No, we do not. I’d love to have one but I do not have one, no.

    TOM: Well, the reason I ask you is because if you don’t take up the old floor, you’d end up sort of sealing in the dishwasher and it’s hard to remove it after that.

    I mean generally speaking, I’m an advocate of taking up the old flooring, because I think it’s kind of sloppy to put new layers over the old. But I can see if it’s difficult to get it out or for budget reasons that you don’t want to go in that direction. But I would recommend you take it up if you can.

    MINDY: OK. OK. Alright. Well, I really appreciate that. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, gutters perform one duty, right: controlling the water around your home. But if the gutters get clogged, it stops them from doing their job. And you could wind up with some surprisingly very expensive problems. My short list would include flooded basements, cracked foundations, rotten wood, leaking roofs and even wood-destroying insects like termites and carpenter ants.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Have we motivated you guys to take on this project? Well, if we have, here are some tips to help you out.

    First of all, be careful. If you’re not comfortable with heights or don’t use tall ladders regularly, cleaning gutters might not be the job for you. You can consider hiring a handyman to help out.

    Now, as for the cleaning, use a ladder, work gloves and a hose. You want to clear the gutters beginning at one end and then move to the other. And always work from the ladder and not from the roof or you could very easily fall off.

    TOM: Now, if you do find any loose gutter sections, you want to tighten them up as you go. It may, though, be very helpful to have a supply of long gutter screws.

    I love these and I always use them when I’m replacing loose or missing gutter spikes, because the screws are not going to pull out like the spikes. So once you put it in, it’s a one-time repair; you’re never going to have to do it again.

    Now, when you get to the end of the gutter where the spout is, you want to spray the hose down the gutter spout to make sure it’s clear. And once those spouts are clear, make sure that discharge is extended at least 4 to 6 feet away from the house, to avoid problems. This is critically important if you have any type of flooding problem below-grade in your crawlspace or your basement. Because if that water is dropping right at the outside of that foundation, it will find its way back in.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s very true.

    Now, you’ve done a great job. Once you’re done with this project, you’ve got to sort of keep up at it, guys. Remember to check those gutters periodically and be mindful of signs that there’s something clogged, like maybe they’re overflowing in a rainstorm. I had a neighbor who had plants growing out of it and a foot tall. That’s a good sign that things are going on.

    TOM: Yeah. That’s a clue, right? Definitely.

    Listen, keeping those gutters clean is the single most effective way to avoid a whole host of very serious and expensive problems. So, get on it.

    And we’re ready to get on with more of your calls. So, pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement questions at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Scott in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    SCOTT: Approximately two weeks ago, we had a major thunderstorm down here. We got 8 inches of rain in 1 hour. We bought this house two, three months ago. Previous owners told us they never had rain in the basement – water in the basement. Well, in the front corner side, we got rain that come – that water came in the foundation, up and under the carpet. Not a little but not a lot. Enough to where we had to tear the carpet out and get rid of it.

    And the front of the house is – we’ve got this landscape. Got a retaining block, like a landscape retaining wall, where they’ve got it graded level and bushes and stuff in there. I’m wondering – and that seemed to be the area where it came in at – first come into the basement. Is there something I can do? Do I have to tear that down and just keep it sloped away or …?

    TOM: First of all, a couple of things. Because this happened with such a tremendous storm, I wonder if some of this might be covered by your homeowners insurance. So that’s one thing to look into if you’ve not done it yet. This is not sort of a normal occurrence; this is something that was more of a one-time occurrence brought on by, you know, 8 inches of rainfall. That weather pattern will be well documented. It might, in fact, be something that’s covered by homeowners insurance.

    In terms of the solution, basements flood after rainstorms because of two things that usually go wrong with the drainage. One – and the most important one – is the gutter system. The gutter system has to be free-flowing and the downspouts have to be extended. If your home is susceptible to water in the basement, they need to be extended about 4 to 6 feet away from the house, minimum. Now, most of the time, gutters will be discharging within a foot or so of the foundation. And that water will just go, basically, from your roof right into your basement non-stop.

    Now, the second thing, of course, is grading. And as you mentioned, as you’ve described, when you have a retaining wall right in that sort of – we call the “backfill” zone around the house, where the house is originally excavated and then the soil was pushed back in against the foundation, then you build a retaining wall over that. You’re really preventing any drainage whatsoever from getting away from that wall.

    And you’re right: fixing that is kind of a big deal because you have to take the retaining wall down or you have to improve the grading in some way to get it moving away. You may have to use some stone at the front edge of that so water can get through it.

    What I would suggest to you is to work on the gutter system first, because that causes most of the problems, in my experience. And then if you still have an ongoing issue, then deal with the drainage second. But fixing the gutter system is the easiest first step. Make sure that those downspouts are extended away from the house.

    If you want to really do something on a permanent basis, you could run those downspouts underground through solid PVC pipe. Not the perforated kind but solid PVC pipe. And then break that out to grade somewhere or through a curb into the street, whatever is permitted by your local municipality. Or you could possibly go out solid for, say, 20 feet and then use perforated pipe in a stone trench and have it run back in the soil there when it’s well away from the house. But manage that roof water first and then worry about the drainage second, because that’s obviously much more difficult and more costly to correct.

    Now, if you tackle those projects in that order, I think you’ll be good to go and pretty much flood-free. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    Hey, if you’re thinking about taking on a tiling project, you want to choose the right look for your home. But remember, that’s only a part of the project. We’re going to have tips on how you can choose the best type of tile for that project, just ahead, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com, 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.

    TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now. We’d love to talk about what’s going on in your home. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Just go to HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: Sue in Rhode Island needs some help removing paint from something. What’s going on?

    SUE: I have a large deck that’s probably 12×30. And for the first couple of years, we had oil-based stain on it.

    TOM: OK.

    SUE: And then we accidentally put a latex over the stain.

    TOM: Bet that didn’t work out too well considering that oil and water don’t usually mix.

    SUE: Oh, I know. I thought it was the right stain when I put it on but nonetheless, we ended up putting it on.

    TOM: Yeah. And it’s probably peeling up, right? Is it peeling up like crazy right now?

    SUE: Oh, it was horrible.

    TOM: Yeah.

    SUE: So I power-washed the heck out of it. I probably power-washed it three, four, five times. I’ve used paint remover on it that you would use when you refurnish something. And I probably got about three-quarters of it off. But the rest of it is not coming off.

    TOM: So it’s not coming off? There’s just no way it’s coming off? You’ve scraped it, you can’t get it off, even with a hand scraper?

    SUE: Even with a hand scraper.

    TOM: Alright. Well, then let’s assume it’s got good attachment to the deck and now we’ve got to get a new coating of stain on there. So, the most important thing you have to do right now is you have to use an oil-based primer on that entire deck. You’ve got to put the primer on first and then you could put an oil-based stain on top of that, get good adhesion. Stay in the same manufacturing family. So if you’re going to use Sherwin or Ben Moore, just make sure you stay within that same family of products and use the recommended primer for that type of stain.

    But if you’ve tried everything to get that old stain off and it’s not coming off, then I think we can safely assume that it’s in for good and you’ve just got to get a new coat on there. But you want to prime it first, because the primer is a different characteristic than the stain and it’s going to make sure you have good adhesion to that entire deck surface and stop the peeling from happening again. Does that make sense?

    SUE: Alright. Oh, that’s been really helpful. I can’t wait to stain my deck.

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

    Well, if you’re planning a new tile project, you’ll probably start your selection by narrowing down those tile colors and design. But before you get that far, it’s a good idea to understand the types of tile that are available.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got tips, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.

    Now, for most projects, you’re going to be deciding between two types: ceramic tile and porcelain tile. Now, the ceramic tile is made from a mixture of special clays and natural materials that are mined from the earth, formed into a shape and then heated in kilns.

    Now, the ceramic tile can be naturally colored or left unglazed, like terracotta. Or they can feature colored or highly-designed surfaces, which can then be glazed. Most of these ceramic tiles either have a white- or red-body coloration underneath that glazing/colored top.

    TOM: Now, porcelain tile is actually a type of ceramic tile – it’s sort of a form of it – and it’s really popular around homeowners. The tiles are made of very fine porcelain clays that are fired at a much higher temperature than ceramic tiles. And that makes them more dense, less porous, much harder and less prone to moisture and stain-absorption than those ceramic tiles. All great reasons that most porcelain tiles are suitable for both indoor and outdoor projects.

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

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

    LESLIE: Sam in Tennessee is on the line with a water-pressure question. How can we help you today?

    SAM: Yes, I have just purchased a home that is about 75 years old. And we’re refurbishing it and we’re trying to keep everything as original as we can. I have great water pressure in every room that has water but my bathtub.

    TOM: Sam, does your 75-year-old home have steel water pipes?

    SAM: It has the old – we’re eventually going to replace all the water system. But we’re having to live in part of the home now and redoing the other half while we live here.

    TOM: If you have the original steel water pipes in a 75-year-old home, they are absolutely going to suffer from interior rusting. What happens with steel is it rusts and it expands inward, so it kind of clogs like an artery, so to speak. And the older it is, the more that can occur. It’s possible that that – you may have a bad pipe on the way to that tub and that’s why you have such a slow fill out of that. The other possible issue is the valve itself that’s feeding water.

    In that same bathroom, I presume you have a sink and a toilet. Do you notice any water pressure problems with those appliances?

    SAM: No, sir. We have, like I said, great pressure everywhere except for that one spigot. And it’s the hot and cold runs into one.

    TOM: The other thing it could be is a bad – it also could be a bad faucet on that tub. But if the pressure is pretty good everywhere else, it’s not likely to be rusted just at the bathroom – at the one fixture itself. So, I would suggest that maybe you want to replace that tub – that set of tub valves, because it’s probably obstructing there.

    SAM: Right. Well, actually, it’s got the old-timey butterfly controls on it and we were really wanting to keep it but …

    TOM: You can find those valves today. There’s a lot of sources of antique plumbing. And some of the new fixtures and faucets are designed to basically go – you’d be using a retrofit situation like that. So you can find modern versions that look old.

    SAM: Yes, sir. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Remember, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, now that fall is upon us, as well as all of those leaves falling from the trees, but burn or bag, whatever you do, what’s the best way to get rid of them? We’re going to have the answer, when The Money Pit returns.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. Never worry about overpaying for a job. Just use HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide to see what others paid for similar projects. That’s all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: Abraham in New Jersey is on the line looking to vent an attic. What’s going on there?

    ABRAHAM: OK. I basically have a regular home; it’s a Colonial. And the attic is a rough attic with the spray-foam insulation. There is zero ventilation in that attic and the second floor has central air.

    So I would like to know two questions: would I be saving on air-conditioning if I would vent the attic – there’s no ceiling fan, nothing – if I put in either an attic fan or a window exhaust fan? And also, currently the attic has an entrance door – a heavy door – leading to attic. Would it take away the air-conditioning to leave that entrance door open, thereby allowing the hot air to enter the attic and leave with an exhaust fan? Or is that something I should not be doing?

    TOM: So, Abraham, that’s a great question. And if you told me that your attic was insulated with fiberglass insulation, as most are typically, we would talk about what kind of ventilation you’ll need. But you said your attic was insulated with spray foam. So, is the spray foam up on the underside of the roof rafters, as well as across the floor? Describe it to me.

    ABRAHAM: Not on the floor. The floor just has regular boards between the second floor and the attic. But there’s all – all the walls and the roof all have spray foam.

    TOM: So what you have, Abraham – and it’s actually the same kind of insulation setup that I have. It’s called a “conditioned attic.” In other words, the attic itself is conditioned and it does not need ventilation. So, no, you do not need to vent that. It’s actually pretty efficient right the way it is.

    Now, you mentioned that there was a door between those two spaces. If that door tends to get a little warm or the wall or the ceiling tends to get a little warm, you could add some additional insulation there. In my case, I actually had an older house. So my attic floor/second-floor ceiling already had fiberglass in it. We left that there. But then we spray-foamed the underside of the roof rafters and the gable walls. And it’s amazing. When we go up in our attic, it’s practically the same temperature as the rest of the house. It’s just done so well. So you do not need to ventilate an attic that was sprayed with foam, because it’s not the type of attic that needs to be vented.

    ABRAHAM: Yeah. Because when I go up to my attic, it is extremely hot. I know I never measure with a thermometer how much warmer it is. So that’s why I was wondering if that’s going to warm up the second floor, requiring me more air-conditioning to the second floor. So I was thinking of ventilating the attic to cool off the attic.

    TOM: I think that if it was done right, you don’t need to vent it. How long ago was the spray foam done? And who did it?

    ABRAHAM: It was done locally and it was within the past year; it’s a new home.

    TOM: Oh, really? Oh, it’s brand-new, within the past year.

    ABRAHAM: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah. I wonder if they put enough insulation in there. Because the insulation should be keeping that heat on the outside and the air-conditioning or the internal sort of ambient temperature of the house should be keeping it pretty comfortable on the inside. I wonder if you have enough insulation there.

    And I have a suggestion for you that you speak with another spray-foam contractor, aside from the one that did it, and kind of have an opinion as to whether or not there’s enough insulation there for your part of the country. I think that will actually make a lot of sense.

    ABRAHAM: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    Well, fall is upon us. And with all those leaves falling from the trees, have you ever noticed that many people love to burn those leaves?

    LESLIE: Yeah. But you know what? Burning them isn’t necessarily the best idea. Those flames can spread very easily. Plus, you’re giving up nutrients that may have helped to feed the rest of your yard.

    Now, a much safer option is to toss those leaves into a compost bin. Then you can nurture flowers and vegetable gardens come springtime. I mean it’s really very useful that way.

    Also, if you’ve got a lawn mower that’s suited for mulching, you can run it over the leaves. Now, those chopped-up pieces are going to help feed the grass as it remains dormant through the winter months.

    TOM: And of course, if your town does offer leaf pickup, you may be able to just rake them to the curb.

    Here’s a trick for that, though: lay out a tarp on the grass and then rake the leaves onto the tarp; then just drag that tarp over to the curb. It makes it a lot easier. Takes the stress out of all of that work and allows you to get them over there quickly and in a lot bigger pile, frankly, than you could do with a wheelbarrow.

    LESLIE: It’s much better than me sort of just continually raking it closer and closer and closer to the curb.

    TOM: Just no jumping in the leaves if they’re in the street, kids.

    LESLIE: True.

    Peggy in Louisiana is on the line with a concrete question. What can we do for you today?

    PEGGY: Well, we have a slab-concrete bottom and they built up with the board skeleton and it’s covered with vinyl siding. And being Louisiana, it rains a lot. And the rain comes on the porch to where it’s eating the inside wall, which is wooden on the bottom. And I want to know how I can seal the outside vinyl siding to concrete slab to keep the water from coming in.

    TOM: So what’s happening is that your concrete slab is in contact with the bottom of the vinyl siding? Is that correct?

    PEGGY: Yes.

    TOM: And right under that siding, is that a wood wall all the way down to the bottom where that slab is? Because typically, you’d have about 6 inches of foundation before you started the siding, at a minimum. And then the vinyl siding would start. So if your vinyl siding is going down flush to the slab, it’s going to be almost impossible for you to seal it in any way, shape or form from the outside and stop that from happening.

    Your only chance would be to take the siding off and then to install some flexible flashings. There’s different types of flashing that you can use. There are rubberized flashings that are very good because you can basically form them wherever you need, to get that entire area as tight as you possibly can. And then put the siding back on on top of that.

    Siding itself, especially vinyl siding, if you were to caulk that or anything of that nature, it’s not really designed to seal in that way. So I feel like you’re just going to be kind of running yourself in circles there. And while it could stop to some extent or slow down at least temporarily that leakage that you’re reporting, the only way to really fix that and to get to the bottom of it is to pull that siding off and to flash it. And we’re only talking about the bottom of the siding here, not all the siding on the house. But the bottom couple of pieces would have to come off to do this job.

    PEGGY: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

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

    Well, maybe you’re thinking about adding some insulation to your attic but you’re not really wanting to give up that storage space that you use for all the stuff that you keep up there. We’re going to share a tip that’ll help you have both, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. You never have to worry about overpaying for a job again. Just use their True Cost Guide and you can see what others have paid for similar projects. And then you can get matched with top-rated pros, read their reviews, get quotes, book appointments. It’s all for free online at HomeAdvisor.com.

    And while you’re online, post your questions to The Money Pit’s Community section or on our Facebook page. And we’ll jump into those, just like I’ve got one here from Will who writes: “I want to add insulation beneath my attic floor but I’d have to pull that floor up first to do it. How will this affect my second-floor ceiling? I’m also worried that the ceiling beneath it is protected by the attic floor.”

    TOM: Well, all good questions, Will, and I’ll be happy to tell you you are totally overthinking this. Because to add insulation beneath that attic floor, you don’t really have to remove the attic floor. As long as you don’t mind giving up some storage space, you could insulate right on top of that floor.

    There’s no reason you can’t leave the wood as part of that mix. What we would advise you to do – head on out to the home center, pick up some very thick fiberglass batts. Make sure they’re unfaced. And then lay them side by side, edge to edge, right across that floor wherever you want the additional insulation. Just leave a space maybe in the middle of it, where there’s no extra insulation, and you could store in that area. But everywhere else, you can add the insulation on top of the floor and you’ll get a lot more efficiency and comfort and cut those heating costs in the process.

    LESLIE: Alright, Will. You’re going to find your energy bills are coming down and you’ll be super cozy.

    TOM: Well, if you’re an animal lover, can you also have stylish décor and co-exist? Leslie says you can and has the details, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? You can have pets and you can have home décor that you love. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. You just have to remember durable, easy-to-clean paints, antimicrobial stain-resistant rugs and more. All of that means that a beautiful home and a furry pet are no longer incompatible.

    Now, there are a lot of paint companies out there that have flat paints that are wipeable. And that’s a feature that previously was only offered with a more glossy finish. And that’s great because if you like the look of a smoother, less shiny wall, you’re going to go for a flat or a scrubbable matte. And you want to make sure that it’s washable because, for some reason, these dogs love to drag themselves against the wall.

    Sherman made a whole collar mark across the wall in the dining room when we first got him.

    TOM: Oh, man.

    LESLIE: But I mean it was able to be cleaned and he doesn’t do it anymore. But when you first get a pet, sometimes they do weird things, especially rescues. Remember, adopt, don’t shop.

    Now, when we’re talking about fabrics, you can find stain-resistant and antimicrobial fabrics, as well, in a range of styles, even soft textures. And you want to look for tiles that are made with nanotechs. Now, that’s going to make those fibers stain-resistant and waterproof.

    The other thing you want to check when you’re dealing with a fabric and you’ve got a dog or a cat, you want to sort of do the scratch test on it. Anything that has sort of an open weave or a bigger loop to it, an animal’s claws are going to get stuck in it and they’re going to pull it. And it’s going to just look terrible in a very short amount of time, so sort of give it the scratch test first to make sure there is nothing they can drag and pull apart.

    Now, also, guys, it could be a luxury to just devote a single room or have a large enough mud room to create that sort of pet bedroom but it is becoming more common. So, even if the space does double-duty as an office or a laundry room, you can create a secure area for your pet by keeping their food, their bed, all their familiar toys in one place. And it’s also good because if you have company over that maybe isn’t so comfortable around an animal, they’re comfortable in that space. And you can sort of cordon that animal into area while the guest is over so everybody feels happy. Because even though your guest is nervous, your pet’s nervous, too.

    So, take care of the animals. Have a beautiful home. You can have it all at the same time.

    TOM: Good advice.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, did you know that fall is the best time of the year to plant next year’s flower bulbs? We’ll tell you the steps you can take, right now, for your best and brightest garden yet, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (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.)