How to Choose a Chimney Sweep #1113172

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are so pleased that you’re here with us today on this chilly November weekend. You getting your house ready for Turkey Day? Coming up, right? Just, what, another other week or so. So, you want to make sure it’s good to go? Can we help? Pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Want some tips and ideas? If you’re having company over, we’ll tell you how to improve your spaces for guests just enough they’ll be comfortable for the weekend but they won’t hang out longer than that. Because we can get rid of them, get back to your life as usual, right?

    LESLIE: You don’t want them to be too comfortable.

    TOM: Nah, not too much. Not too much.

    But if you’re thinking about making an improvement, perhaps you want to reduce the energy consumption of your home, we could chat about that or maybe another kind of décor project because you’re going to be stuck inside it these long, dark days of winter. So whatever is going on, basically, in your money pit, here’s the connecting thread here, folks: whatever is going on, we can help you with.

    We don’t talk politics on the show; we talk about your house.

    LESLIE: I want to. You won’t let me.

    TOM: Now, what was it? There’s a reason that I sit at the right end of the broadcast table and you sit at the left. But that’s as far as our politics go.

    LESLIE: We meet in the middle and we shake hands.

    TOM: That’s right. And then we share our common love of home improvement, so that’s what we’re here to do for you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 888-666-3974.

    Hey, coming up this hour, is your chimney ready for the colder temperatures? We’re going to have some advice on how you can find a chimney pro to get this chimney fixed up and evaluated or cleaned without getting ripped off, which is a big problem in the chimney-cleaning business.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because it is fireplace season. I mean it’s the holidays. You want a beautiful, roaring fire for all your family to gather around. And while they’re there, they’re going to be using your bathroom. So, it really is a great time to think about updating the bathroom before all of those guests arrive. We’re going to tell you about a new toilet that’s not only efficient but get this: it cleans itself.

    TOM: Yep. And if you want to give your walls a new look, we’re going to have some tips on wall coverings that can add interest and color to your décor.

    Plus, mold in a home can be a big concern if you’re buying or selling a house or just looking out for your family’s health. So, this hour, we’re giving away a package of mold-control solutions, worth 105 bucks, from our friends at Healthful Home. It includes the 5-Minute Mold Test Kit.

    So, let’s get to it. Lots to talk about, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Our next caller has a question that I’m happy to answer over the phone but will not go see in person. William in Delaware has mice. What is going on over there?

    WILLIAM: Yeah, we recently – back in March, moved into our Habitat for Humanity home and we really enjoyed (inaudible) in downtown Wilmington. And for the first, I’d say, four or five months, we had no problems with mice or anything else. But the last three or four months, man, we’ve been getting mice coming in from the basement. I think that’s where they’re coming from.

    We’ve caught like 25 mice in the last 3 or 4 months. That’s why we’ve got sticky traps out. Going around and putting little standing foam in skinny cracks I can find and basement-penetration stuff but I don’t know where they’re coming in other than that. And I was wondering if you had any ideas or what next – what to do next.

    TOM: Well, why don’t you get a cat and a snake? Problem will be solved.

    WILLIAM: Right. Well, unfortunately, my family is allergic to dogs and cats, so I can’t do that.

    TOM: Well, look, have you tried bait yet?

    WILLIAM: Oh, yeah. I had some bait traps outside but they’re still coming in.

    TOM: OK. So, is it – getting rid of rodents is sort of a management problem, alright? You know, they’re so small they can squeeze into the space the size of a nickel. And so you’re doing all of the right things.

    Now, outside the house – and since this is a newer house, this may not be the case but we always tell people to not store firewood against a house, not store garbage against a house to make sure that there’s no areas where mice can sort of linger around the outside of the house. Inside the house, you want to make sure you don’t have any kind of food source. So if you had a pet that might be – the dog-food bag or if you have a pantry that might be the – not keeping the cereal boxes on the bottom shelf where they can be chewed into by mice. Those are all the normal things.

    Beyond that, it’s a maintenance issue where you’re going to make sure you keep some baits outside. I would put bait inside. What I would do is – is this on a basement or a crawlspace?

    WILLIAM: Yeah. So, it has a basement.

    TOM: So I would – and the basement is not finished?

    WILLIAM: No, it’s not.

    TOM: So what I would do is I would get some bait stations, put it up on the ledge between the concrete block and the bottom sill, where the framing is. That’s sort of the highway that the mice will use to crawl all around the outside of the house. So put your bait stations right there so that they can have some of that delectable poison and then go outside and die.

    WILLIAM: Hopefully, that’s what – well, that’s what I was a little leery about. I’m afraid that if they eat bait, they might die inside the house someplace where I can’t get to them.

    TOM: Nah. Occasionally, you can find one inside the house but it’s unusual. Normally, they’ll go outside. The thing is, as the weather gets colder, they go inside because they like a nice, warm house, as well. But you’ve got to prevent them by sealing up all the gaps and putting out bait stations.

    WILLIAM: OK. Well, I’ll try more of the bait stations outside then.

    TOM: Not outside. Put the bait inside, on that ledge, OK?

    WILLIAM: Oh, OK. Yes, I will.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that problem.

    WILLIAM: OK. Thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Susan in Missouri has a question about a fireplace. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    SUSAN: Well, I have a gas fireplace and it’s one of those where they seem to have cut the hole in the wall and stuck the fireplace in there and now I cannot stop the wind from blowing in. I don’t know what to do.

    TOM: OK. So, is the wind coming in the hole where the gas pipe is coming through?

    SUSAN: It seems to be coming from all around the fireplace. It’s got the mantel and it comes from around the mantel. And anywhere where there’s – where it’s been put together, it seems to have air coming in. And of course, it is coming in – it’s got the outside box, I guess. They have the exhaust.

    TOM: OK. So this sounds to me like it’s a manufactured fireplace as opposed to an old, brick one that was converted to gas. Is that correct?

    SUSAN: Absolutely. Absolutely, yes.

    TOM: And it has doors on it, too?

    SUSAN: No. It does not.

    TOM: Do you know what the brand is of the fireplace?

    SUSAN: A Lennox, I believe.

    TOM: Well, the first thing I would do is I would take a look at the installation. And very often, there’s probably gaps somewhere around that box that were not properly sealed. I could – I would also consider contacting Lennox and getting the original installation instructions. You may even be able to download those, which would give you or your contractor a guide to determine if it was correctly installed. And then, thirdly, I would find out if doors are available for that fireplace, because that could solve all your problems.

    SUSAN: Oh, OK. OK.

    TOM: Especially if it’s a gas fireplace premade and it has a combustion air supply, you may be able to keep that all behind the glass doors to stop all the drafts from coming through.

    SUSAN: Oh, that’s a great idea. Thank you. I’ll try that.

    TOM: Alright. 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 on air and online at Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: Up next, we want to help you make sure Santa can slide down your chimney next month. We’re going to have some chimney-cleaning and maintenance tips that’ll keep your family safe long after Santa’s gone back to the North Pole, when we return.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call now on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    TOM: And hey, here’s another great reason to reach out to us by phone or by posting your question to The Money Pit’s community, because we are giving away a package of mold-control solutions from Healthful Home.

    You know, mold in a house can be a serious concern if you’re buying the house, if you’re selling a house or you’re just looking out for your family’s health. But mold tests take days to complete. The cool thing about Healthful Home is they do the mold test in five minutes. Pretty much all DIY. It can identify the presence of bad or unhealthy molds in five minutes or less. There’s no lab fees required, you don’t have to hire an inspector and it’s available at Ace Hardware.

    If you want to learn more, check out But this great giveaway is going to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Bill in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    BILL: I’m looking for the best way to seal up a French door on my house. Where the two doors go together or shut together, they won’t – they don’t seal.

    TOM: They don’t seal properly?

    BILL: No.

    TOM: So, that’s called the “astragal” where they come together; that’s that molding configuration. And so are you getting water through these doors, Bill? Or are you getting just drafts?

    BILL: Just drafts.

    TOM: The first thing I would do is I would examine the fit of the doors when they come together, to see if the doors are actually closing evenly up and down. So if there’s a little bit more of a gap at the top or the bottom, that’s a different issue and you’d have to physically adjust the door so that that doesn’t happen anymore.

    The second thing is I would look at the seal – sorry, the sill – where the door closes, to make sure that the sill is continuous. And an easy way to do that is with light. If you were to kneel down on one side of that door and shine a flashlight in to see if you saw the light coming under the door, that might give you an indication as to whether or not you have gaps at that sill level.

    The third thing is that there is typically a hole in that configuration of the door where air gets in at the very top and at the very bottom, where you need about a 1-inch-square piece of weather-stripping to seal it. And that’s where the doors come together at the top and the bottom.

    And then the rest of that, I would just look at the existing weather-stripping that’s on that door, make sure it’s getting a tight seal all the way up and down. You really have to look at it in components, to try to determine which part of that is broken down and which part of it is most responsible for the air leakage that you’re getting in there, Bill.

    BILL: Oh, OK. Take a look at those items then.

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

    LESLIE: Going out to California where Marlene has got a question about a rotten-egg smell in the bath. What’s going on?

    MARLENE: In our master-bathroom shower, when you turn on the hot-water faucet, it smells like rotten eggs. It’s really awful. And this lasts for several minutes and then it’ll go away. We have, oh, six other hot-water faucets in the house, including a shower, and none of these faucets do this. And so we were wondering, should we call a plumber? Would a plumber know what to do to change this?

    TOM: Marlene, that odor usually stems from your water heater. Even though you’re only smelling it in those couple of bathrooms, I suspect it could be forming in your water heater. That sort of rotten-egg or sulfur smell is actually caused by a bacteria in the water. And it’s reacting to the deterioration of the sacrificial anode, which is inside a water heater. It’s usually made of magnesium or aluminum and it will react with that and cause that odor.

    So, one of the solutions is to replace that anode. And if you look at the top of the water heater, it looks like there’s a bolt sort of stuck into the top of the water heater? That’s the anode there. And if you pull that anode out and replace it, even with one – a better bet is one that’s made of zinc. There’s a type of anode called “zinc alloy.” That will stop that odor from happening.

    MARLENE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: It’s probably best to have a plumber do that, yeah. But if you call a plumber about this rotten-egg odor and tell him to look at your anode, I think you might find the solution right there.

    MARLENE: That’d be wonderful.

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

    Well, if you expect Santa to reach those cookies and milk that you set out on Christmas Eve, you want to make sure your chimney is clean and safe, right? And a winter full of roaring fires can follow, as well. Chimneys that are dirty can collapse, they can cause serious issues, from fires to carbon-monoxide poisoning, if they’re not up to snuff. So, a good time to make sure yours is good to go.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Creosote is actually one of the greatest chimney-safety hazards. It’s that residue that sticks to the inside of your chimney when vapor mixes with condensation and then cools. And creosote, guys, is hugely flammable. But you can keep it to a minimum with a yearly chimney inspection and regular cleanings.

    TOM: Now, if you’re not sure you need a cleaning, you want to just open the damper, which is above the fireplace, and look up inside that flue with a strong flashlight. Now, if you can’t see the sides of the clay or the metal liner clearly, you’re probably overdue for that cleaning.

    LESLIE: Now, the outside of your chimney can pose major risks, as well. So, you want to inspect it from the outside to see if it leans or if it’s separating from your home. If it does either, you need to call a professional to come check it out ASAP. Loose bricks or cracks are easier fixes. Replace them or seal them as needed.

    TOM: Now, you also want to keep an eye out for vegetation at the top of the chimney. Ivy, for example, can grow across the top of the chimney and obstruct the flow of exhaust gases out of it. And if your chimney exhausts through a metal vent pipe, it can easily become disconnected. So make sure it hasn’t become dislodged or it’s rusted out.

    If you keep an eye on your chimney, it’s going to continue to serve you for a long time to come. It’s the kind of thing, though, that if you ignore it can really become quite dangerous. So now is the time to get to it.

    LESLIE: Lane in Arkansas is looking to do some countertop updates with a cement countertop. How can we help you with that project?

    LANE: I’ve been wanting to get granite countertops forever and I can’t really afford it, being a single dad and paying the mortgage and everything. So, I was looking at the concrete method. I’ve watched some videos on YouTube and whatnot and I really like how it looks, because it looks a lot like the granite.

    And my question kind of – or is it pretty simple for a guy that knows a lot – not a lot about concrete but a little about it? And the edging stuff that they sell on websites, do you need to buy that or can – is there a way that you can do it with just normal wood, where you can form it up yourself?

    TOM: So, first of all, concrete countertops are beautiful but they’re a lot of work to build, as you’ve learned if you’ve watched all of those YouTube videos, which I commend you for doing.

    In terms of the edging, you certainly – having those tools certainly makes it a lot easier. But if you’re crafty, you probably could make your own edging tools to get an acceptable edge to that concrete surface.

    LANE: OK.

    TOM: The good news is that the material itself is fairly inexpensive. So if you really screw it up, you could break it up, throw it in the garden and start again.

    LANE: Right.

    TOM: But the key is really the prep and making sure that you’ve got the form built correctly and you’re totally ready to go, you know exactly what you’re going to do once you start to pour in that concrete. Because you don’t get a second chance.

    LANE: Would you recommend a certain type of concrete?

    TOM: QUIKRETE makes a commercial-grade countertop mix.

    LANE: Alright.

    TOM: So I would just go buy that.

    LANE: OK.

    TOM: You could pick that up at a home center/hardware store and just go for that.

    LANE: Well, that sounds good. That’s probably what I’ll end up doing then.

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

    LESLIE: Renee in North Carolina needs some help weatherproofing. What can we do for you?

    RENEE: I just recently moved into a brand-new apartment complex. So, the windows are pretty good windows but what I’ve found is that it is freezing in here now that the temperature has dropped. So I’m looking for suggestions on how to put up temporary fixes to the windows leaking air in. And also the sliding door. I have a big, sliding-glass door that I’m not sure how to weatherproof that.

    TOM: Alright. Renee, first of all, as far as the windows are concerned, one of the things you might want to look into is weather-stripping caulk. There’s a certain type of caulk that’s designed to be removable. And one of the products is called Seal ‘N Peel with the letter N – Seal ‘N Peel. And I think that one is by Red Devil or DAP. Both manufacturers have a version of this.

    And the way it works is you essentially can caulk the windows shut. So you can caulk around all those gaps. And then in the spring, you can grab the caulk bead and peel it off. And it comes off like a piece of rubber.

    LESLIE: Just make sure you leave one window unclosed, unsealed because – just in case you need it for an egress in the event of an emergency. Because it comes out but it just doesn’t come out that fast.

    TOM: Now, as far as the door is concerned, I would just use shrink film for that. So the shrink film – basically, you put a two-sided adhesive tape around the door and then you attach the film to that. And then you take a hair dryer and warm the film and it shrinks and gets nice and taut and crystal-clear.

    RENEE: OK. So the film would actually prevent the door – the sliding-glass door – from opening?

    TOM: Correct. You would not be able to use that door in the winter, mm-hmm.

    RENEE: OK.

    TOM: If you have to be able to use it, then you’d just have to use weather-stripping. But it’s probably not going to be as effective.

    RENEE: OK. Well, this has been very helpful. I’ve just been afraid to put up anything that was going to destroy the window or the paint.

    TOM: I know. You want to get that security deposit back, eventually, right?

    RENEE: Definitely. Or not pay more.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, the holidays are coming up. Is your bathroom ready? We’re going to tell you about a new fixture from American Standard that can help. It not only performs, it actually cleans itself.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online, for free.

    LESLIE: Olin (sp) is on the line with a wainscoting question. How can we help you today?

    OLIN (sp): Yes. I was wanting to do some wainscoting in my living room. And I’d seen some people do it with pallets, actually taking the pieces off and using the slats for the wainscoting. And I know they do treat them with some chemicals and stuff. And as long as I run it through a planer and everything, would that pretty much treat it, as long as its sealed up with polyurethane and all that to keep it from being toxic from – for the children and stuff?

    TOM: Well, I can’t really answer that question because I’m not sure how they treat the pallets. And frankly, I’ve torn a lot of pallets apart in my day, as things have been delivered, and I never really had a concern about treatment and never actually can recall smelling an odor from the treatment.

    OLIN (sp): Well, I never would have thought about it but I looked at some pallet ideas online and I saw where some people had done wood floors with them and the wainscoting and it just – it looks stunning, really. It was totally different-looking from what you’d think a pallet would usually be, you know. And so that’s what gave me the idea and I thought, “Well, that would be a cheap idea to use.”

    TOM: Yeah. And hey, it’s an upcycling, too, Leslie. I mean you’re taking something and reusing it in a new and creative way. Better than sending it to ground to a dump.

    OLIN (sp): Yes.

    TOM: Well, I wouldn’t be, personally, too concerned about treatment, because I’m not sure that they are treated. But I would say that if you detect any odors and you think that they’re treated, then by virtue of the fact that you’re going to seal them will probably minimize that.

    So I – for me, I don’t think it would be a concern.

    OLIN (sp): OK. Well, that sounds good then. I appreciate it, guys.

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

    LESLIE: Well, the holidays are coming up. Is your bathroom ready? Now is a great time to think about updating your bath before the guests arrive. There’s a new toilet on the market that’s not only efficient, it actually cleans itself.

    TOM: Yep. It’s called the VorMax Plus Toilet and it’s made by American Standard. It’s designed to not only clean but freshen with every flush. Now, this toilet has these VorMax jets that are up under the rim and they pretty much blast away the grime when you flush. And then they’ve combined it with what’s called the VorMax FreshInfuser. And that releases Lysol cleaner into the bowl to keep it clean and smelling fresh, flush after flush.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what I like? The FreshInfuser is hidden in a compartment, which is really easy to access, and there’s nothing hanging inside the bowl. So when you combine these two things together, you get a really forceful VorMax jetted scrub and that allows the Lysol cleaner to scrub the entire bowl, including under the rim where the dirt really gets trapped and hides.

    TOM: Yep. And that’s why they say the VorMax Plus is a self-cleaning toilet that freshens with every flush. You can check it out at

    LESLIE: Terry in Illinois is on the line with a water-pressure sort of issue going on, because the shower is just not strong enough.

    Tell us what’s going on, Terry.

    TERRY: I live in the country. My home is about 1,300 or 1,400 feet from my meter. And we have somewhat of a pressure problem. The biggest problem is the temperature that gets robbed when you’re in the shower or one of the faucets, if another faucet is turned on or if the washing machine starts up or whatever.

    TOM: And so you’re getting shower shock, right? You’re getting – the temperature in the water is changing, getting hot or cold and causing a domestic disturbance in the house?

    TERRY: Mostly when I’m in the shower.

    LESLIE: Of course.

    TOM: Alright. So, Terry, we have the technology; we have a solution. And it’s called a “pressure-balanced valve.” This is going to save your domestic tranquility. We’ll return it to its natural state of peace and calm.

    And here is how it works. Basically, a pressure-balance valve makes sure that the mix between the hot water and the cold water, once set, does not change regardless of what happens to the pressure on either side of the equation. So while the mix is locked in, you might find – you may find that the flow changes. You might get a little more water or a little less water, depending on what’s going on with other fixtures in the house, but the mix won’t change. And because the mix doesn’t change, your temperature is steady.

    LESLIE: Your temperature is going to stay.

    TOM: Does that make sense?

    TERRY: Yes.

    TOM: So you want to replace that shower valve with one that’s called a “pressure-balanced valve” and that will solve that problem.

    TERRY: OK. Alright.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, we’ll share some easy tips to add color and some décor pop to your home with wall coverings. We’ll explain those projects, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, are you concerned about mold in your house? It can be pretty serious, especially if you’re buying or selling or just looking out for your family’s health. And while most mold tests take days to complete, the Healthful Home 5-Minute Mold Test does not. It identifies the presence of bad molds in five minutes or less.

    And it turns out we’re giving away a whole package of mold-control solution products from Healthful Home. There’s no lab fees required. There’s no need to hire an inspector. It’s a total DIY test for mold. You’ll find it at Ace Hardware.

    You can learn more at But if you give us a call, right now, it’s going to go out to one listener drawn at random. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ann in Missouri, what’s going on at your money pit?

    ANN: I bought a modular home that sits on a foundation. And the people that lived in it before we did had it kind of fixed up like a living area. Well, when we bought it, we degutted the whole thing and noticed that while we were degutting it, when the rain came, it would flood. So we dug out around the basement but we left an awning on the top part of my mother-in-law’s house and got it all finished. And the last couple of years, when it rains, water comes in and my whole flooring – my beautiful flooring – is just welted up and ruined.

    TOM: So is this flooring – you mentioned that you dug around the foundation. Not quite sure why you did that because it probably wasn’t necessary. But is the water coming into a lower level, like a basement level, or is the water coming in around this roof – this awning roof?

    ANN: I’m not sure. I thought it was coming around the basement so I pulled it out, tarred the whole thing except for that area. And it doesn’t leak anywhere else but that area where the awning is at now. And I noticed that there is a crack between the house and the actual concrete of the awning.

    TOM: You say “crack.” You mean between the roof, where the awning attaches or do you mean at the foundation level?

    ANN: At the foundation level.

    TOM: OK, yeah. That’s called “rotation.” What happens is those concrete stoops pull away from the walls and they rotate.

    Look, if this is caused by water – if this water infiltration is caused by a basement leakage or foundation leakage, you’re not going to seal your house well enough to stop that from happening no matter how much tar you put on the foundation. So what I want you to do is to go to our website at And on the home page, there’s an article about how to stop a basement from leaking that walks you through this step by step.

    But conceptually, what you’re going to do is regrade the foundation perimeter to make sure all that soil that you took out is tamped, now, well and packed in nice and tight around the foundation. We want it to slope down about 6 inches over 4 feet.

    And secondly, we want to know that you have gutters on the house, they’re clean, they’re free-flowing and the downspouts are discharging out 4 to 6 feet – not inches, feet – away from the foundation. If you keep the water from the roof and the natural rainfall away from that foundation, you won’t get any leakage into that area. It’s just not going to happen.

    So do that first and see if the leaks continue. If they continue, then we’ve got to look for another source. But I want you to get the most obvious one out of the way first.

    Ann, thanks for calling 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, wall coverings can have a big impact on a room’s décor scheme, both in design and – if you’re not careful – your wallet. Fortunately, affordable products are making it easier than ever to achieve professional results on a DIY budget.

    TOM: Now, when you’re looking at the wallpaper, you want to choose the best-quality paper you can afford and then use it sparingly. Consider papering, maybe, a powder room, for example, or maybe just choose one wall to be the focus wall in the family room. Or you could use wallpaper inside squares that are trimmed out in the molding of a dining room. Paper the bottom half of the walls under the chair rail. I mean you get the idea. Use it strategically.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It really is a great way to add just such a focal design point that’s gorgeous. It could be simple, it could be very design-oriented or detail-oriented with a pattern. Another thing I like to use is repositionable vinyl, which is a wallpaper. It’s adhesive-backed. It goes on very easily. You do have to use a little burnish or one of those plastic squeegees to get out any bubbles and sort of work slowly to get it smooth. But you can take any photo and have it printed onto these vinyl wall coverings and then use it as a mural.

    You know, for example, I’m designing a little girl’s room that she loves the winter scene of the Nutcracker ballet. And so I found this beautiful photograph of some winter birch trees with snow. And I’m using that as a wallpaper for her main wall in the bedroom that the bed will be on. I think it’s a great way to just bring in the outdoors or a beautiful scene or a crazy pattern. And it’s repositionable, so it’s temporary and you’re not going to damage the wall surface. And it’s truly affordable, if you find the right source.

    TOM: Now, could maybe even do a sports-themed mural for a man cave?

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. We looked at a house that had huge, blown-up baseballs as the wall covering in a little boy’s room. It was so great.

    TOM: Oh, great, great. That’s a very cool idea.

    LESLIE: Really great.

    TOM: Yep, yep. Good tip.

    LESLIE: Don in Pennsylvania has got a question about windows. What can we help you with?

    DON: These windows are mid-1700s. That’s before the Revolution. The ones I’m working on, there is – the building actually had a date on it: 1746.

    TOM: Wow. That’s impressive.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    DON: And the glass on these was like poured glass; it wasn’t manufactured the way they make them now. And I’m trying to save the glass and I’m trying not to damage the wood at all. But I’m scraping and painting and weatherizing these windows. And the reason I’m doing that is because a lot of the glaze is falling out and the paint is flaking away and everything. But some of that glaze that’s on there – and this hasn’t been done, I would say, for more than 30 years. Because we’ve lived here 30 years and have never done it to this window.

    And so that – some of the glaze is falling out but others, it’s really tenacious and stuck to that wood and that glass. And I don’t want to ruin the glass or ruin the wood, so what’s the best way to get that old glaze out of there?

    TOM: Are you using any heat to help you here?

    DON: Not yet.

    TOM: So, what you want to try to do is get a heat gun, which kind of looks like an industrial-size hair dryer.

    DON: Yeah, I have an electric heat gun and I’ve used that to help remove some of the paint. But I don’t know the temperature of that heat gun but …

    TOM: Well, you want to use it cautiously. I wouldn’t lean into it with the nozzle but I would try to warm that old putty. Generally, if you warm it, it loosens up.

    Now, some guys that do windows all the time will actually use steam to soften the putty. And I’ve seen guys create almost like steam chambers, where they kind of build a box, fill it with warm steam and then slide the sashes in there and then pull them out. And now they’re warm and they strip them off.

    One way that you could try to do this without sort of building that chamber might be to get a wallpaper steamer. And then use some of that steam – use it against the window, warm it. That warm, moist steam may also help to loosen it up.

    But if you’ve already got the heat gun, I would try trying to warm it up gently and see how the old glazing reacts to that.

    DON: Oh, OK. I will. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. Still to come, want to make sure your fridge can handle all of those leftovers as the holidays are about to begin? We’re going to have the step-by-step tips, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, what’s on your fall fix-up to-do list? Post your home décor or improvement question to The Money Pit’s Community page at or call us, 24/7, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: Also, don’t forget the Community section on The Money Pit page. We’ve got a ton of questions there that people are posting, just like Gabriela from New York who writes: “I live in an apartment with hot-water steam heat. The paint on the wall above one of the units is peeling and has dark specks that look like mold. Is that caused by the heating unit? If so, what can I do to fix it or stop it from happening?”

    Tom, have you ever lived in a New York City apartment?

    TOM: No. But I’ve seen plenty of them and I can tell you that that’s probably the least likely place that mold would grow, because of all that heat coming off of there. The conditions are just not right. It’s more likely that because of the convective loop, Leslie, where you have a lot of sort of cold air fall, strikes the radiator and then rises, that that sort of loop of warm air, carrying with it all the contaminants that are in the average house from dust, dirt – if you like to light a lot of candles, you get a lot of carbon in the air if you’re a smoker. Whatever is in the air sort of washes against the wall and kind of makes it really dirty above a radiator.

    So, it’s not mold at all; it’s really just a cleaning project, Gabriela. So don’t worry.

    LESLIE: I mean my goodness, New York City apartments, once they turn the heat on, those rooms are 8,000 degrees.

    TOM: I’m always so surprised, though, when I see that they’re so poorly controlled that people actually open their windows because it’s so hot. What a waste of energy.

    LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. You could put the air conditioning on in the winter. Those rooms are 8,000 million-zillion degrees. But when it’s super cold, you kind of want that. And you can wear shorts all winter.

    TOM: There you go.

    Well, when it comes to keeping those leftovers around for another meal, a fridge that’s running at its best is key. Leslie has got advice on how you can improve your refrigerator’s efficiency, with today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, to make sure your fridge is running optimally, you first want to make sure that it’s not too cold. You really need to keep that temperature between 37 and 40 degrees. Also, you’ve got to make sure that the seal is airtight so cold air isn’t escaping. Now, the best way to test this is with a dollar bill. You sort of stick it into the fridge door, close the door. If you can slide it out easily, that gasket isn’t working right. Now, you can replace door gaskets for a better seal.

    Here’s another idea that you might not have considered: if you want to reduce the cost, be sure to cover the food. Why? Uncovered foods and liquids, they’re going to release moisture and that makes your fridge work harder.

    Now, it might seem counterintuitive but a near-empty fridge uses more power than a full one. Those foods and liquids that you have in there collect and store the cold, so your fridge actually works harder to maintain that cold when it’s empty. Now, here’s another thing: you might want to take into consideration how much food you actually store and then consider downsizing to a smaller one, if you are finding that it’s more empty than full on normal occasions.

    Now, if you’re in my house, mom of two small boys, make sure that the fridge door is actually closed. Because half the time, kids are leaving it wide open.

    TOM: And perhaps padlocked.

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Great ideas. And today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word was presented by Jiawei. Safeguard your home and loved ones with the Smart Security Light by Maximus Lighting, the porch light redefined. Equipped with 2-way talk, high-definition camera, 17-feet motion detection and a 100-decibel siren alarm.

    Coming up next time on The Money Pit, do you get stuck when it comes time to picking the perfect glue for your project? With a gazillion adhesives to choose from out there, you can hardly know which works best for your job. We’ll have some simple tips that can help, though, on the next edition to 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 2017 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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