How to be Storm-Ready for the Storm-Season

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  • 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 on this beautiful day? If it’s your house, you’re in exactly the right place because that’s what we do, too. But we do it for you. We’re here to help you with your home improvement and décor questions, whether you live in a home, whether you live in an apartment, a condo, even a tent. Hope you’re doing some glamping out there. I’ve got some ideas for that. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.

    Hey, coming up on today’s program, storm season is here and that’s why September is actually National Preparedness Month. So we’re going to help you make sure your home is ready for whatever Mother Nature has in mind, with an easy-to-follow, three-step checklist just ahead.

    LESLIE: And do you love the look of hardwood floors but feel like the price is way outside of your budget? Well, there’s a durable, budget-friendly option available that does just that for under $3 a foot. We’re going to share those details in just a bit.

    TOM: And almost every fridge these days has water in the door or at least a built-in ice maker. But that also means they have a filter that needs changing before it turns toxic. We’re going to tell you how to take on that simple DIY project in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the Onelink Safe & Sound by First Alert. Now, this is a cool, new product just out from First Alert that’s going to notify you, on your cellphone, in the event of a smoke or carbon-monoxide emergency no matter where you are. Plus – and this is a really cool feature – in addition to keeping you super safe, it can kind of help you have a good time at home. It’s got a premium speaker that plays music or even answers voice commands with built-in Alexa.

    TOM: That Onelink Safe & Sound by First Alert is worth $249 and going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Michael in Texas is on the line with some flooring issues. What is going on?

    MICHAEL: I have hardwood floors that we had installed – glued down – all throughout the home. And I’ve noticed that some of the boards – it was glued down on the slab and they’re coming apart in the front of the house. And we’re not sure how to resolve that issue. We’ve never seen that before. So we’re just curious on how to repair or fix that or address that issue.

    TOM: So when you say they’re coming apart, you mean they’re loosening up and coming up or separating from the slab?

    MICHAEL: No, not coming up. Well, they’re pulling apart.

    TOM: Are you getting bigger gaps or are you telling me that they’re pressing together like they’re swelling?

    MICHAEL: Bigger gaps.

    TOM: Alright. Well, I was kind of concerned about the other – going the other way because typically, you don’t put hardwood floors on a slab. You put engineered floors on a slab but not solid hardwood, because they are very susceptible to dampness. So you’re getting more shrinkage than what you expected and that’s causing these gaps.

    Now, are the boards loose or are they just opening up these gaps?

    MICHAEL: No, the boards are not loose. They’re glued down and this is not hardwood. Maybe I got that wrong. I think this is engineered hardwood.

    TOM: OK.

    MICHAEL: I mean it’s hardwood on the surface but I believe it’s engineered. It was from Lumber Liquidators. Forgot to mention that.

    TOM: OK. Well, that’s certainly a good brand.

    So, I suspect what has happened here is it probably has something to do with the installation. And unfortunately, there’s no way to repair this kind of from the condition it is right now. You can’t – there’s no such thing as a board stretcher, OK? I can’t make it go back the way it was. What you are going to have to do is remove some of the tiles in the areas that’s affected and then replace them and try to figure out why this is occurring.

    One of the things I suspect is that you may not have glued the seams together. And even if they’re locked together, engineered hardwood-flooring pieces, I always recommend that you glue those seams together because that helps prevent some of that tension where it pulls the board apart. So, you’re looking at a remove and replace for at least some of this lumber here.

    But listen, if it’s not really obvious, you might just decide to live with it, too, you know? It’s not affecting the durability of the floor. It’s really going to be a cosmetic question for you, in terms of how much work you want to put into this. Area rugs can be very attractive.

    MICHAEL: Yeah, yeah. I just thought that – I didn’t know if I was going to have to take the individual pieces up and put new …

    TOM: Yeah, you will because by the time you take it up, you’re not going to be able to kind of get it back in place. And what I also find with the joining systems of the boards today, it’s kind of a one-and-done thing. A lot of these click together. If you try to put it together two or three times, it doesn’t work. I would tell you the next time you put it down is to make sure you’re gluing those seams together, as well.

    MICHAEL: Alright. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your help.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and let us know how you make out.

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

    LINDA: I have water. When it rains, it pools by the garage door. It’s causing the bottom of the garage door to deteriorate. I was wondering how I could keep it from pooling there.

    TOM: Is it running to that location from another location? Is it draining down into there?

    LINDA: I think it’s the concrete around it has changed over time.

    TOM: You’re not going to be able to lift that concrete back up. You could consider putting a drain across the driveway area in front of the garage but it’s a pretty big job. It might just make more sense, if you’re just worried about that door, to scrape, prime and paint it, put a new rubber gasket on the bottom of it. And if it starts to really decay, then replace it and maybe use a vinyl door next time. Because to restore that driveway to a point to where it has pitch is just a big project and it’s going to involve tearing out a part of that driveway. And I just don’t feel it’s worth that unless it gets a lot worse than what it sounds like it is right now.

    LINDA: So I guess it’s actually the doorframe. The door itself is fiberglass or something.

    TOM: OK, so it’s the doorframe. So, then, what you can is take out the old doorframe and replace it with pressure-treated lumber, which is decay-resistant. It could also be wrapped with aluminum, which will make it look real nice. But rot on the bottom of that door jamb on a garage door is extremely common. And I bet you that when the contractor did that, that that door jamb is in direct contact with the concrete or even imbedded into it.

    LINDA: Yes.

    TOM: When you tear it out, you want to have about a ½-inch to an inch gap between the bottom of the door jamb and the top of the concrete so that it can dry. And that makes a big difference, OK?

    LINDA: Sure.

    TOM: That’s a repair I’ve had to do many times. I know what it looks like.

    LINDA: OK. So I guess I’ll have to hire someone to do that job.

    TOM: Yeah. Go to and you can find a local carpenter that can do a small project like that for you.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call with whatever it is that you are working on this time of year at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    TOM: Storm season is here and that’s why September marks National Preparedness Month. Up next, we’re going to help you make sure your home is ready for whatever Mother Nature has in mind, with an easy-to-follow, three-step checklist after this.

    Where home solutions live, 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 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You need new flooring in your kitchen or bath? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the pro for the job, for free.

    LESLIE: Give us a call. We’d love to lend a hand and of course, give you the tools to get the job done and in this case, keep your family safe. We’re giving away the Onelink Safe & Sound by First Alert.

    Now, it’s worth 249 bucks. And the Onelink Safe & Sound is a premium smoke, fire, and carbon-monoxide detector but it also does so much more. It lets you play music with premium sound, thanks to the natural acoustic backdrop from the ceiling. You can even use simple hands-free commands with the built-in Alexa. So yes, you or your kids could be asking your carbon-monoxide/smoke-detector monitor from First Alert, “Hey, tell us something cool,” or “What’s the weather,” or “Tell me a joke.” That my kids’ favorite thing to ask Alexa.

    TOM: Or “Play The Money Pit.”

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM: The device also alerts you on your cellphone in the event of a smoke or carbon-monoxide emergency no matter where you are. And it has voice and location technology and that’s going to help you be alerted as to the type of danger and its location when in the home.
    This product is worth 249 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Joe in New York is on the line and looking for some clean air at home. How can we help?

    JOE: I seem to have a problem with excessive dust in the house. I know I dry-dust the wood floors every week and there’s a significant accumulation of dust on the mop head. And after about two weeks, there’s a slight dust film on some of the wood furniture. But I still had to wonder if maybe it is – it’s my heating system or maybe something else. I have a forced-air heating system but I also have an Aprilaire house HEPA air-cleaning system with that.

    I change that filter once a year, just before the heating season when it really – when I’m really using it. And I tried to use higher-quality air ducts – pleated air filters for the return ducts, which I change about once every one to three months, depending on how much use I get out of the heat or the A/C. But I guess the question is – I hate to call somebody and have duct-cleaning. I’ve heard so many negative things about duct-cleaning not really being the issue.

    TOM: Yeah. And I don’t know if it’s the issue in this case. You have – the Aprilaire filter that you have right now, is it the one that’s really thick, about 3 inches thick?

    JOE: It’s like an accordion-style. You take it out of a box, you pull it out of the bottom and then it’s like an accordion. And I know when I take it out, it’s not – it doesn’t look dirty, in terms of brown, but there is a lot of white particles that I guess – I don’t know, maybe that’s where the filters traps it.

    TOM: Right.

    JOE: But when I take it out and shake it, it’s a lot of the whities (ph) and white filters.

    Now, I do know that the return-vent filters – they’re pretty dirty when I pull them out. So, there’s something going on there. I don’t know. I’ve also seen advertised these electrostatic register-vent filters. Will that help if I put – you know, can you cut them and put them into the individual vents?

    TOM: Before I went there, I would probably upgrade the static filters I have right now. I think you could be a good candidate for an electric air cleaner. That would be mounted to the return side of the ducts. It’s actually a combination of media filter and electronic charging grid.

    JOE: OK.

    TOM: And what it does is it charges the dust particles so that they stick to the grid more efficiently.

    JOE: Oh, wow, OK.

    TOM: And if I did that, I might have the ducts cleaned at the same time, just to kind of check that box.

    JOE: OK.

    TOM: But I agree with you that it’s rarely – you rarely have to do that unless you’ve done some kind of remodeling in the house that’s caused a lot of ducts to …

    JOE: Yeah, this is – the house was built about 18 years ago. It’s a fairly new house, so the whole system was built in back then.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah.

    JOE: So, I’m OK. And it’s a ranch house.

    TOM: I would take a look at the Aprilaire Model 5000 Whole-House Electronic Air Cleaner.

    JOE: OK.

    TOM: And there’s another one by Trane – it’s called CleanEffects – that’s also equally good. Trane CleanEffects or the Aprilaire 5000. Both of those are very good whole-house air cleaners and I think you’ll notice a difference.

    JOE: And that would be an upgrade of what I have now, probably which is an older version.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Yep. Exactly.

    JOE: 18 years old. And I guess it would be much more efficient then. OK.

    TOM: Exactly.

    JOE: Alright, great. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

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

    Well, summer storm season is here, so to help you make sure your home is ready for whatever Mother Nature has in mind, we’re going to highlight a three-step checklist for you to follow.

    Now, first, you need to do a roof check. Now, your roof is one of the most vital protections that stand between you and the weather. And in the winter, you can get wind and ice and that can cause big damage that lets the water get through. So, to check your roof, I want you to grab a pair of binoculars. Now, if you don’t have a pair of binoculars, that’s fine. You have a camera with a telephoto lens? That works, too. Because you want to look at the roof safely from the ground.

    And you want to check the whole area for anything that’s loose. So you have loose shingles, loose flashing. Look at the places that roof sections come together, look at the area around the chimney, around the plumbing vents. If you see anything out of place there, now is the time to hire a pro to fix it because those are the areas where wind, rain, water and ice are going to leak through.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, here’s another thing that you have to do and you really have to be doing this from time to time anyway: you want to review your insurance policy. I mean it really is a good time to make sure that your insurance policy is going to cover the full cost of rebuilding or repairing if your home is lost or damaged in a storm.

    Now, a lot of people insure their home to what the value of the home is. But the cost of rebuilding could be more. So you want to make sure that your policy provides for replacement-cost coverage for both the building and the contents. Also, never insure your home for less than what it’s worth. If you do, even if you have that full replacement-coverage cost in there, your insurance company may not pay for the full value of it.

    Tom, you’ve had some experience with this, right?

    TOM: Well, not as somebody who had to file a claim but I know how it works. Essentially, if your home is worth – let’s say your home is worth $400,000 but you only insured it for $300,000. The insurance company may be justified in only paying 75 percent of those repair costs, because you didn’t really insure it for the full amount, right?

    So you can’t under-insure the house and then expect them to pay the full value of replacement. Their rates are based on the value of your house that you’re insuring it for. So if you don’t insure it for the full value, then they’re just not going to pay the full claim.

    So it’s real important basically, as you said, to make sure that you’re checking this insurance and making sure it’s accurate and that your home – if it’s now worth more than it was 10 years ago, maybe, when you got the policy, that’s adjusted.

    LESLIE: That’s all good points. Plus, you could be paying way more for insurance than you’re supposed to be and get better value at a different agency. So just always review these things, guys.

    TOM: Now, the last thing you want to do is service your heating system especially, of course, if you didn’t do it at the end of last year. Because furnaces, they burn fossil fuel, gas, oil, propane and they get dirty and they’ve got to be cleaned. Now, if you have a fireplace and chimney, they have to be cleaned, too.

    Now, bottom line, if you take care of these three things now – check the roof, check the insurance policy and get the heating system serviced – your home will be in excellent shape for the seasons ahead and will very likely stand up just fine to any storm that Mother Nature cares to dish out.

    LESLIE: Ray in North Carolina is on the – on the floor, I was going to say.

    RAY: You sound like me today.

    LESLIE: Sorry, Ray. I’m reading what your question is about and I introduce you as “Ray is calling in from the floor.”

    No, we’ve got Ray from North Carolina on the phone who’s got a crack in the garage floor. Tell us what’s going on there.

    RAY: Unbelievable. We’ve got a very small – not unbelievable but had a very small crack since we moved in, which is back in 1996. And it never really moved. And we had a little earthquake here. I don’t know if you heard about it but it was a small, little earthquake that – the one that affected the Washington Monument and all that.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RAY: But it did drag down here. But anyway, I don’t know if it’s really related to that or not but there are no cars in the garage because I’ve had too much junk, unfortunately.

    LESLIE: Join the club.

    RAY: But now the crack is now about a ¼-inch to, in a couple of spots, almost a ½-inch wide. And it goes from one end to the other. We’re talking about 17 feet. I don’t know what to do.

    TOM: Well, first of all, the concrete floor is not structural in the sense that it’s not helping to hold up the building, in most cases.

    LESLIE: And essentially, it’s right over dirt.

    RAY: Right.

    TOM: Yeah. Think of it as a very stiff type of flooring because that’s basically what it is.

    RAY: OK.

    TOM: Now, to fix that crack – you’re never going to make it go away but what you can do is seal it. And when you seal it, you stop moisture from getting in there: water that runs off the car, for example, in the wintertime. That could freeze and cause it move more quickly.

    So, there’s a couple of products out there that will do this. I would take a look at a very basic and effective product called QUIKRETE Concrete Repair. Basically, it’s a crack sealer that’s in a tube, like a caulking tube.

    RAY: Right.

    TOM: And you cut the tip off, you try to keep it to about an 1/8-inch, if it’s a ¼-inch crack. You can fill that crack from one end to the other, let it dry. And then you could put a concrete floor paint on top of that. And so that will make it very difficult for you to see, especially if you paint the floor and you use one of the products that has sort of a color chip in it. Gives it a little bit of a pattern and makes it harder to see; it’s not quite as obvious.

    So, I would simply fill it, paint it and call it a day.

    RAY: Very good. Yeah, it actually is painted now. And let me ask you this. The only other problem I’ve had in the past, real quickly, is that when I have tried to fill it, if I wait too long, it’s too high. And obviously, it’s very hard to sand down flat or level. Is this a self-leveling product? Can I just grind it down with a grinder?

    TOM: Well, it’s not going to be stiff like concrete. It’s a sealer, OK? It’s a repair product, so it doesn’t – it’s not hard like concrete.

    RAY: OK. I’ve got you.

    TOM: But you basically want to put it in so it sits just below the surface.

    Now, a little trick of the trade is if you have a really deep crack, you can sort of stuff the crack first with a backer rod or some other type of product like that so that the repair material stays up towards the surface.

    RAY: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: They have another product called a “self-leveling, polyurethane sealant.” And with that, it will definitely flow nice and even.

    RAY: Excellent. Well, I appreciate your help very much and I enjoy your show.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, do you love the look of hardwood floors but feel like the price of adding hardwood to your house is just way outside your budget? Or maybe you just need a floor that can handle wet locations, like your kitchen. Well, there’s a budget-friendly option that does both and it’s under $3 a foot. We’re going to share those details in today’s Flooring Tip, presented by Lumber Liquidators, 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: Give us a call with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    You know, Leslie, as I travel around the country, I often see different things, different elements, unique elements to buildings that I’m always annoying my family by pointing out. But I did see something that was pretty cool during a recent trip to a lake area. There were homes there that had large roofs with large overhangs, like 4-foot overhangs. And one in particular had a chain that was attached to the edge of the roof. Now, it had no gutters, but it had a chain that went from the top of the roof down to grade. Do you know what that chain was there for?

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: That is called a rain chain. And essentially, the way it works is there’s a diverter on the roof surface because it has no gutters. It moves the water towards the area where the chain was attached. There’s a bit of a stainless-steel kind of scupper, like a little tiny gutter that kind of forces it to the chain. But once the water strikes the chain, it follows it all the way down to the grade. And it’s kind of a cool thing to do and you could only do it because you had these really long overhangs. And when that chain got towards the ground, under the soil there, there was a drain that collected the water and moved it out, away from the house. So you didn’t even let the water kind of collect around the house.

    So it’s kind of a cool, almost statue piece of artwork kind of way to move that water around the house, which I really enjoyed seeing. It was very well thought-out and probably the only house with gutters that I would approve, because you know how we feel about gutters. They cause so many problems if they’re not on your house. But in this case, they had totally nailed it and it was a pretty neat thing to see.

    LESLIE: Susan in Pennsylvania is dealing with a woodpecker, except it’s not Woody the Woodpecker giving her the heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.

    Although he might be, as he’s making holes in your house. What’s going on, Susan?

    SUSAN: Well, thank you very much for taking my call. I’ve learned so much from listening to this show. I live with my daughter and son-in-law and there is a woodpecker every morning. He comes and has breakfast, compliments of our home. And my son-in-law has looked and there is damage and of course, he’s going to have that taken care of. But we’re trying to find out how do we deter this woodpecker from coming back or just picking another spot.

    TOM: Does he generally like to pick the same kind of spot?

    SUSAN: Yeah. He seems to be right over top of their bedroom, right in that area on the side of the house.

    TOM: Oh, great. So it can wake them up in the morning.

    Alright. So, let me give you a couple of things that you can try that are really easy. One of which is to get some tin pie plates, like the aluminum pie plates. Hang them from fishing line or sort of a thin cord or something so that they sort of dangle in the area where the woodpecker likes to hang out. Because they really are annoying to the birds and they don’t like to see their reflection; they think there’s other birds around. And sometimes, that’s all it takes to make them go away.

    Another thing that you can do is you could take strips of a plastic Hefty bag, cut it into 3-inch strips so that it kind of blows around in the breeze. That kind of has the freak-out effect. And neither of these, obviously, hurt the birds. You don’t want to leave them on for very long but they do work pretty well at keeping the woodpeckers away from your house. And maybe they’ll just decide that your neighbor’s house is a better place to be.

    SUSAN: Oh. OK. That’s fantastic. Yes.

    LESLIE: I had a woodpecker put a pretty nice-size hole in the soffit material of my home. And I was re-siding and changing out all of the soffit material for one of those AZEK type of extruded PVC product that looks like wood but obviously, the woodpecker is not going to eat it. So I didn’t bother repairing this pretty nice-size hole that the woodpecker made. And in the process of the work happening, before that soffit and fascia material came off, a whole family of squirrels moved in.

    SUSAN: Oh, aren’t you lucky? Well, thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Well, fall is a very popular time to update your floors. And if adding hardwood flooring is a project you’d just love to tackle but can’t afford, laminate floors offer a very budget-friendly option that can give you the look and feel of hardwood. And they come in water-resistant designs for under $3 a square foot. We’ve got the details, in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators.

    TOM: Yep, that’s right. Now, if you haven’t seen laminate floor recently, it’s a good time to take another look because the advances in technology are pretty amazing. I mean the laminate flooring today resembles hardwood so closely it’s honestly hard to tell that it’s not the real thing.

    In fact, the only thing that doesn’t resemble real hardwood is that price. It’s a lot more affordable and it comes in styles, making the warmth and beauty of hardwood flooring available on a budget and allows you to put it in lots of different locations where you couldn’t normally put that hardwood flooring, like basements and bathrooms.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And today’s laminates don’t only look like hardwood floors, they feel that way, too. And that’s thanks to a technology called EIR. Now, that stands for Embossed in Register, which provides a surface that really so closely resembles real solid, rustic wood that sometimes even experts have to look hard to tell the difference.

    TOM: And laminate is also very durable. It really works for any lifestyle. It stands up to busy homes and it looks good doing it. You have kids, you’ve got pets, you like to entertain. You can look for laminates with the best scratch-, stain- and wear-resistance for peace of mind that your floor will definitely pass that test of time.

    LESLIE: Plus, some laminate floors are highly water-resistant through and through, which means daily spills, splashes and messes will not damage that floor.

    TOM: Yep. And they’re also very easy for DIY-ers to install and also very stable. So, you can choose styles that feature long and wide boards, for example, for large and open-concept spaces. And you don’t need any unsightly transition moldings because the boards can do the job themselves.

    LESLIE: Today’s Flooring Tip was presented by Lumber Liquidators, where you’ll find the new Dream Home Ultra X2O Laminate flooring. It’s more water-resistant than standard laminate flooring, which provides better protection from common household spills, as well as extremely durable with the highest wear layer for abrasion resistance. Plus, now it comes in 16 styles ranging from 10-millimeters to 14-mil thick and in planks up to 9½ inches wide and 7 feet long, really making it easy to create the perfect flooring style for your house.

    TOM: You’ll find Dream Home Ultra X2O Laminate priced from 2.79 to 2.99 a square foot and available at Lumber Liquidators stores nationwide and online at Lumber

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

    ANTHONY: We have a three-burner gas range: you know, one in the oven and then two on top. And we have an odor emitting from one of the pilots that seems to be a little bit higher than the other one. And it’s building up like an ashy, creosote, real fine, black mess. If you touch it, it goes everywhere. And it smells in the mornings when you wake up. Is it not vented properly?

    TOM: Here’s what I think is happening: the burner is somewhat partially blocked and so the gas is not fully combusting. And when you get a gas flame that doesn’t fully combust, it has sort of a sickeningly sweet smell to it, which actually contains a pretty high level of carbon monoxide.

    So, what you should do is take those burners apart and clean them thoroughly and get them operating properly again. There’s something obstructing the burner and that’s why it’s not fully combusting. It also accounts for the fact that it’s building up an additional carbon deposit. If the gas is not fully combusting, this is what happens.

    ANTHONY: Alright. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Almost every fridge these days has water in the door or at least a built-in ice maker. But that also means that they’ll have a filter that needs changing before it turns toxic. We’re going to tell you how to take on that simple DIY project, 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, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the best home service pros in your area. You can read reviews, compare prices and book appointments online, all for free.

    LESLIE: Natalie in Wisconsin is on the line and is having some issues with old windows. Tell us about the problem.

    NATALIE: Hi. I have vinyl windows, which served us very well. But now that they’re older and I want to raise them up, oh, 5 or 6 inches, they won’t stay there. So I have to brace them up or else they’ll fall down and they are quite heavy. Do you have any recommendations?

    TOM: So, the window jambs have springs in them and the springs have obviously broken down. And the problem with vinyl windows is, unless it’s a name brand where you can easily find parts, is that it’s really almost impossible to get those fixed.


    TOM: And so I’m not going to have a really good solution for you here, Natalie. If it was an old wood window, we could talk about ways to deal with that. But because it’s a vinyl window, it’s already an upgraded window. And if the internal parts are breaking down, it’s difficult to find repair parts for that.

    NATALIE: OK. Yes, I have been trying and I didn’t have any luck so far.

    TOM: Well, I would search online for the manufacturer and see if there are repair parts available. But short of that, it might be time to start thinking about new windows.

    NATALIE: OK. Thank you so much.

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

    Well, almost every fridge these days has water in the door or at least a built-in ice maker. But that also means they’re going to have a filter that needs changing before it turns toxic. You need to consider that tap water travels through miles and miles of infrastructure before it gets to your home and it can pick up contaminates along the way. So those filters are not going to last forever.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, most appliance manufacturers recommend changing that water filter every six months. So now is a great time to make that filter change and keep enjoying filtered drinking water, cooking water and ice.

    Now mark your calendar for another water filter change every six months. Clean filters not only improve the water’s taste but those filters that can too long between changes can actually become unhealthy.

    TOM: In addition to marking your calendar, your datebook, or your email, I always grab a Sharpie and I write the date I replaced the filter on the filter itself. Because this way, it’s always easier to see exactly when we did it.

    LESLIE: Smart.

    TOM: And of course, not only is filtered water delicious and tasty, it’s always convenient and it’s a lot less expensive than buying bottled water all the time. So just be smart about it. Jot the date down, replace the filter regularly and it will be clean and safe and good to go.

    LESLIE: Jeanette in Colorado is on the line and needs some help with a radiant-heating question. What can we do for you?

    JEANETTE: I would like to know if it would be good to do the radiant floor ourselves or to have someone else do it. Is it going to increase my electric bill quite a bit? And if it is something I could do, what materials would be best to do?

    TOM: Wow. Lots of questions.

    LESLIE: Yeah. We only said one question, lady.

    TOM: Alright. So, the bathroom is the only room in the house that you want to have a warm floor?

    JEANETTE: Well, for starters. We would like to do it in the kitchen, also. But we thought we’d start with the small project as the bathroom.

    TOM: And what kind of a house do you have? Is it a ranch? Colonial? What are we talking about?

    JEANETTE: No, it’s more of a ranch. It has a – the bottom is not sitting completely on the ground because it’s lots of rocks and stuff in the mountains there. So it does have crawlspaces underneath.

    TOM: It does.

    JEANETTE: Yes, it does have crawlspaces where you – we have sump pumps in there to help anything that might cause that. So you can crawl under the house but it’s not very much room.

    TOM: OK. And how is it heated? Is it hot water or a hot-air system?

    JEANETTE: Hot air but we mostly use pellet stoves.

    TOM: So, it sounds to me like you’re going to be limited to an electric radiant-heating system. There are different types of heating underlayments, so to speak, that you would put on a bathroom floor and you would tile on top of.

    Now, is it expensive? Yes. It’s electric heat. It’s expensive to purchase and install, it’s expensive to run. It’s not a way to save money on your heating bill. There’s nothing cost-effective about electric heat. It’s very pleasant and nice to have that warm floor but it is an expensive project and it’s expensive to run. That said, if you put it on its own timer so it’s only on, say, in the morning or in the evenings for a limited period of time, you could manage that expense.

    Is it a do-it-yourself project? Yes, if you’re pretty experienced. Because the tile mats usually have to be ordered custom-made. And you have to make sure that they’re installed properly because if you get that floor down and it doesn’t work, you’ve got a big problem. You’d end up having to tear it up.

    Frankly, my advice would be to not do it yourself, because I would rather have a contractor do it that’s worked with it time and time again. I’d hate to see the whole thing get together and you’ve got a problem with it and you’ve got to tear it all up and start again. So, the amount of additional expense for labor, I think, would have sort of an insurance quality to it to make sure it comes out right.

    JEANETTE: Well, thank you all for your advice and I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, to replace or not to replace a furnace. You know, winter’s ahead and we’re going to help one listener figure out if it’s time for an old furnace to go, 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.

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

    TOM: Paul is reaching out on The Money Pit’s Community page. He says, “I enjoy hearing your show and wanted your opinion on replacing my furnace. It’s a 31-year-old, lowboy oil-fired furnace. I service it every year but it had problems with popping and sputtering last year, going on and off more than it should. Before the winter sets in, should I kind of bite the bullet and replace the furnace based on its age and hassles?”

    I say yes because 31 years old, that furnace does not owe you a dime, Paul, and you’re going to get so much better efficiency out of the new systems today than you ever would’ve got out of something 30 years ago. So you’re going to save a lot of money right from the get-go by replacing it before the winter.

    Well, love it or hate it, the 80s are back. And whether you’re wearing acid-washed denim or not, the most stylish place to keep your clothes is in a lacquered dresser or chest of drawers. And that sheen doesn’t have to stop there. Leslie’s got tips on adding high gloss for high style, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    Leslie? Does this mean that bell bottoms are back, too?

    LESLIE: Actually, you’re not far off because denim is featuring a slightly fuller leg at the bottom, thank goodness.

    TOM: Yes, we call it a “full leg” now, not a bell bottom.

    LESLIE: I know. If only these high-waisted jeans would give us a break, I’d be thrilled.

    Also, you’ll never guess what I saw in the store: a scrunchie. Do you remember scrunchies, Tom?

    TOM: Oh, yeah.

    LESLIE: Ponytail holder wrapped in fabric that were all big and poufy that we wore on our hair in the 80s?

    TOM: That’s because you had big hair back then, too.

    LESLIE: I know. Big hair, don’t care.

    However, furnishings, details, decorative details, lacquer is huge. And I feel like it’s really in full-swing right now. And it makes a gorgeous statement wherever you use a lacquer finish. You’re seeing it in furnishings, you’re seeing it in accessories. It’s gorgeous. So if you want that look, you’ve got to think about the right way to do it. First of all, that wood has got to be properly prepared, sanded, and sealed.

    Now, before you apply that lacquer, you want to clean thoroughly with a tack cloth and then use only aerosol-spray lacquer. And make sure you protect your working area with drop cloths or newspaper. And absolutely work in a well-ventilated space outside or in a room specifically made for using spray paint.

    Now, you want to apply that lacquer slowly and evenly, holding the spray can about 18 inches from the surface that you’re working on. Any further than that and you’re going to see that the lacquer can get sort of an orange-peel or dimpled appearance. Closer, you’re going to get too much lacquer and then it’s going to build up and you’ll get runs. It’s not going to look good, so you’ve got to sort of experiment with that right distance.

    As you work, you want to overlap the lacquer-spray pattern slightly. Several thin coats, you guys. Not all at once. Several thin coats is going to get you that high-gloss look as opposed to a couple of heavy ones. And then follow the instructions and dry completely in between those coats.

    Now, you can use lacquer on most woods but you can’t use it on mahogany and rosewood. The oils that are in those woods are just simply going to bleed through the finish. And it also can’t be used over certain finishes, including oil-based stains and a lot of different types of wood fillers.

    So, sadly, it’s a lot of trial and error. But if you know the basics of what you can and cannot do, you really can start off on a good foot there. And it’s going to be a great project. I have lacquer on the hand railings on the staircase in my house in a burgundy, like such a dark burgundy brown. And it has been 15 years since I’ve moved into my house and that lacquer has stayed perfectly and I still love it absolutely as much as that first day.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, as you plan home improvement projects, would you like to make sure they’re eco-friendly, too? Well, there’s never been more options to help you do just that. And we’re going to show you how to pick home improvement products and projects that are good for you and the environment, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2018 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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