How to Plan the Perfect Addition

  • Hands of Couple Looking at Blueprints
  • 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 summer day? If it’s your house, if it’s your home, if it’s your apartment, hey, we’re here to help you get those projects done. If you don’t know where to start or you’re in the middle of a project, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or post your question online to The Money Pit’s Community page at

    Hey, if your home is getting tight for your growing family, expanding your home with a beautiful, new addition could be a great move. We’re going to have tips on how to plan that project, to make sure the new space serves you for many, many years to come, in today’s Pro Project, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, this is a fantastic time of year for outdoor living. And if you want to step up your outdoor space, we’ve got some tips on how you can create projects like grill surrounds, fire pits and benches. They’re as easy to build as stacking blocks.

    TOM: Plus, mold remains a serious problem across the country. It’s one that is on the sort of freak-out list for people when they see it, right?

    LESLIE: It’s true.

    TOM: Well, there’s one common storage product in your house that is a leading mold contributor. We’ll tell you what that is and what you can do about it, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And I hate to tell you this, guys, but fall is just around the corner. So if you’re dreading needing to rake those leaves around your house, you are going to love the product we are giving away this hour. It’s the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower with battery and battery charger. Super lightweight, weighing less than 8 pounds when it’s fully operational. And it’s going to save you a ton of time getting the leaves all cleaned up around your home.

    It’s worth 249 bucks but we’ve got one to give away this hour and that could be going to you.

    TOM: So call us, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by That’s 888-666-3974.

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

    LESLIE: Rachel in Rhode Island is on the line with a wallpaper question. How can we help you today?

    RACHEL: I’ve had mold develop on our expensive designer wallpaper. It’s dark red and it’s about 18 inches above the beadboard molding on plaster walls. My house is 125 years old. I wondered if there’s any way of saving the wallpaper.

    LESLIE: Was there a leak? Do you know what caused this mold to develop over there?

    RACHEL: Well, I have a wet basement.

    TOM: So have you done anything to address the moisture problem in the basement?

    RACHEL: The walls are made out of fieldstone. So I don’t think there’s too much we can do.

    TOM: Oh, sure there is. There’s lots of things you can do. So let’s tackle these problems one at a time.

    Now, in terms of the wallpaper itself, if the mold has been there for a long time and it’s actually stained the wallpaper, it may be difficult for you to get that wallpaper back to its original color because it’s physically changed. You might be able to try a mildicide on the wallpaper, at least to see if it will remove the mold. There’s a product called Spray & Forget that if the walls get any amount of light at all – sunlight – they’ll activate and kill any mold spores that are behind. And then once that happens, you could try to just simply clean the wallpaper.

    Now, in terms of the wet basement that you feel that there’s nothing you can do about, most wet basements – whether it’s concrete, wall, fieldstone, concrete block, I don’t care what it is – those wet basements are caused by two things and two things only, one of which is the fact that the gutter system at the outside of the house is not usually properly designed or discharging water far enough away from the foundation. The other thing is that the soil around the house is too flat; it doesn’t slope away from the wall.

    So those two things are the most common contributing factors to water problems, not rising water tables and other things that are more difficult to control. But certainly, looking at your gutter system and making sure that water that’s collecting at the roof edge is discharging 4 to 6 to 8 feet away from the house and that the soil is sloping away from the house. So I would concentrate on – certainly on the wet-basement issue, as well, because that’s going to stop more mold from forming in the future.

    And then in terms of the wallpaper that’s there now, you could try a product like Spray & Forget, which does not contain any bleach or lye or acid. So it’s not going to affect the color. And see if it can kill off the mold that’s there.

    RACHEL: OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Stuart in Louisiana is on the line and has a question about light bulbs. What can we do for you?

    STUART: I was curious about choosing the correct kind of light bulb – fluorescent versus LED – and what wattage if I – whichever one I choose.

    TOM: So, compact-fluorescent technology is pretty much fading now – pardon the pun – and I think what you really want to look at is some of the many choices in LEDs. In terms of wattage, you know, it’s not really measured in wattage anymore; it’s measured in lumens. But generally speaking, if you do see a wattage indicator on the bulb, it’s going to be about 25 percent of what you’re used to getting in terms of light output.

    So, for example, a bulb that would deliver the equivalent of around 100 watts of light, that you might be used to in an incandescent bulb, is only going to use about 25 watts or less of electricity, only because it’s that much more efficient. A lot of folks don’t recognize that wattage is a measure of power; it’s not a measure of light. Light’s measured by lumens. But we’re just so accustomed, over the years, to choosing the wattage when it comes to bulb and understanding how much light that delivers.

    But if you’re trying to figure out about what the conversion rate is, it’s about 25 percent. It uses about 25 percent of the power to deliver the same light that you would’ve gotten out of, say, the 100-watt incandescent bulb in my example. Does that make sense?

    STUART: It does indeed. So what lumen range would I be basically looking for if I wanted to have the same amount of wattage – I’m sorry – same amount of light as a 100-watt light bulb?

    TOM: Good question. A 100-watt incandescent bulb is going to deliver about 1,600 lumens. So, not that easy to do the math. It’s not really convenient. But that’s what it is. A 100-watt bulb delivers about 1,600 lumens; 75-watt bulb would deliver around, say, 1,000 to 1,100 lumens. So that’s the range that you’re looking for.

    STUART: Fantastic. Thank you very much for your assistance.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at Give us a call. We are nearing the end of the summer season. I only say that with such enthusiasm because I love the fall. Summer is too hot for me. Aw, I’m a winter baby. So what are you guys working on to get your house ready? Because soon, you’re going to be cooped up inside or outside raking up those leaves. We are here to give you a hand, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, is your home feeling a little tight for your growing family? Have you sorted and organized and reorganized but finally decided you just need more space? Well, if this sounds like you, adding a beautiful, new addition could be a great move. We’ll have tips on how to plan to make sure the new space serves you for many years to come, in this week’s Pro Project Tip presented by, 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, at 1-888-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. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pat in Michigan, tell us what’s going on with the leak.

    PAT: Yes. We had some shingles that blew up and the water got underneath and it leaked and then onto my ceiling. And we had high winds with – like we call “side,” you know.

    And so I’ve had the roof repaired but I still have some leak – water stains on my ceiling. And I’m trying to figure out how to cover them up without having to paint all of the ceiling. And my ceilings have never been painted; it’s just raw drywall but it’s been textured.

    TOM: Now, since this was storm damage, did you think to call your homeowners insurance company?

    PAT: No. Because it’s – there’s only three little – like one is a dime size, one is a quarter size and the other one’s a dollar-bill size.

    TOM: Well, just for future reference, whenever you have shingles that blow off and leaks occur, that is why you pay for homeowners insurance. So, small or big, that’s the kind of thing that’s covered.

    If it was a worn-out roof, that’s one thing. But if you have storm damage where shingles blow off and water gets in, then you could have had that whole ceiling repainted at the expense of your insurance company.

    But OK, we’re past that now. So the question is: how do you deal with those stains? Whenever you have a water stain on a ceiling, you have to prime that spot. Since they’re small spots like that, you can spot-prime it, which basically means just to prime over those little spots themselves. And then you’ll paint over that.

    You’ll have to – if you don’t have some of the original paint, you’re going to have to pick up something that matches.

    PAT: There is no paint. This is just drywall – textured drywall – and they did not paint the drywall.

    TOM: They never painted the drywall?

    PAT: No. Ceilings here are not painted unless you ask for it.

    TOM: OK. Well, all I can tell you is if you want to get rid of the stain, you have to prime it. You have to prime on top of it. If you don’t prime on top of it, anything that you put over that is going to leak right through. So it might be time to think about painting the ceiling, Pat.

    PAT: Oh, boy. OK. Well, thank you very much. I certainly do appreciate your time.

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

    Well, hey, if you are dreading the fall season, which is just ahead, because you just hate picking up leaves – I mean there’s a reason it’s called “fall,” folks, right? – we’ve got a great product we’re giving away this hour to help you with all that fall cleanup.

    LESLIE: It’s true.

    TOM: It’s the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower with battery and battery charger worth 249 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, this product delivers wind speeds of up to 140 miles per hour. It’s lightweight; weighs less than 8 pounds when it’s fully operational. And what I love most is it is all battery-powered. It’s kind of hassle-free to use. There’s no gas or oil to mix and pour. You just pop in the battery and you are good to go.

    You can learn more at but if you pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question to 1-888-MONEY-PIT, you might just be the lucky listener that wins this tool. Give us a call right now, 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Dante in Rhode Island is on the line with a painting question. Tell us what you are working on.

    DANTE: Well, I had my house painted a couple – two years ago. Then my wife decided she wanted to take the towel rack off the wall. I took it off the wall, I compounded it, I sanded it. And I had some paint: a brand-new can of the gray paint, pint.

    TOM: Right.

    DANTE: I opened it, I stirred it up, put it on the wall. It dried a different color.

    TOM: Are you repainting a wall but you just happened to have an extra can of this stuff? Is that what you’re doing?

    DANTE: The painter told me – he said, “Why don’t you just buy a can of this paint?”

    TOM: Oh, OK. And now it’s not matching. Yeah, I understand. Problem is that with exposure to sunlight, the color changes, it fades.

    How big is this room?

    DANTE: It’s a bathroom; it’s not big.

    TOM: Alright. So it’s a small room. Alright. Listen, I think the easiest thing for you to do, at this point, is to repaint the whole room. Because with all the aggravation you’re going through to try to match this old paint, by the time you just mask everything off – put one coat of primer on first. That is really important. Do not skip the primer step. You will be very sad.

    Prime the walls first because this will seal in whatever’s there. And then just put one coat of paint on top, over that, and you’ll be good to go. I think, at this point, you made every effort that you should reasonably make to find the color that matches the old paint. That was – you were unsuccessful. So let’s go and start from scratch, especially since it’s only a bathroom and a fairly small room and easy to paint. OK?

    DANTE: Not like this – that it’s old. The can was brand new.

    TOM: I hear you but it’s not working. So, there’s a point where you kind of throw in the towel and that’s what I would do. I would – if that was me, I wouldn’t mess with it any further. I would just throw in the towel, put a coat of primer on everything, repaint the walls and call it a day.

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

    LESLIE: Adding on a kitchen, bathroom, family room or bedroom, even a study can be a great way to stay in your home and neighborhood for a lot less time, expense and hassle of selling your home and buying a bigger one. But it’s a project that needs careful planning to make sure that it goes smoothly. We’ve got some tips on how to plan a beautiful, new addition that will serve your family for years to come, in today’s Pro Project presented by

    TOM: OK. So, to get started, there are really three things to consider. First, you want to dig out your home’s survey and review your property lines. The distance between your home and the property line will likely be restricted by local zoning laws. So you need to understand how close to the line your new addition can be, because that’s going to show you how much space you potentially have to work with.

    LESLIE: Next, planning makes perfect. Bring on a design pro to help make sure the new addition compliments your existing house. A good architect or design-build pro can help. Don’t just think about how you live in your addition. Also consider how it architecturally affects the look of your home from the outside and your home’s value. Plus, it’s a lot less expensive to move walls around on paper than it is once the new foundation is set.

    TOM: That is absolutely correct.

    Now, once that design is done, your pro will be able to create a detailed set of drawings that lists every element of the project, from precise measurements to a list of materials and products that will go into the home. Now, these are key because with that set of very carefully developed plans in hand, you’ll be able to seek bids from qualified builders for the project. And you’ll know that every pro is bidding sort of apples to apples, so you’ll be able to fairly compare the prices and services they offer.

    LESLIE: And today’s Pro Project has been presented by With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area and 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: Alright. Now we’ve got Phyllis from the Jersey Shore calling in. What can we do for you today?

    PHYLLIS: I am looking to purchase a home. And the problem is I’m looking at a very specific area because I don’t want to leave the current school district the children are in. And all the homes around here were built in the 60s. So my first question is: what should I look for in that era of home construction that might be a red flag? And also, the way the homes are all built, the bottom floor has radiant-floor heat and upstairs is hot-water baseboard. And I just – I can’t imagine that 50-year-old pipes are not going to go at some point. And I’m wondering, how do I make sure they’re OK or look for signs that they’re getting weak?

    TOM: So you’re basically looking for the good, the bad and the ugly of 1960s construction.

    PHYLLIS: Correct.

    TOM: And the story is that it’s actually a pretty good time for home construction. You had copper plumbing, you had decent wiring. Sometimes, the services were a little small but if the homes were mostly natural gas, you really don’t need more than about 100 amps to power pretty much everything, including central air conditioning. And you’ve got hardwood floors. Very frequently, you had hardwood floors in 1960 houses. And it’s interesting because they put the hardwood floors in and they very promptly covered them with wall-to-wall carpet.

    LESLIE: With shag carpeting.

    TOM: Or shag, yeah. That’s right. Which actually protects them very nicely and didn’t allow them to wear. So, it’s a pretty good year for home construction.

    Now, because it’s a 50-year-old house, you’re obviously going to have – how old is the furnace? How old is the water heater? Stuff like that to consider. What’s the general maintenance been? But in terms of an era of home construction, I think it’s a really strong era.

    Now, if you’d asked me about the 80s, I would tell you, eh, not so much. Those houses were put together pretty fast and not always in the best possible way. But the 60s is a pretty good year for construction.

    PHYLLIS: Oh, good. Because I’m moving up. I live in an 80s house now.

    TOM: Oh, there you go. So you’re going to get better.

    In terms of that radiant heat, that’s probably one – the one weak link that that home has. But the thing is, you can’t really determine how far along it is and whether or not it’s going to break. It probably will eventually fail and when that happens, you’re going to be faced with a pretty costly repair. You’ll have to put in some sort of alternative heat system, because it’s virtually impossible to repair those pipes in the slab.

    So the first floor of your house will either be running new baseboard pipes or you’ll be running electric radiant or you’ll be adding an air-to-water heat exchanger so that you can take hot water from the boiler, run it through a heat exchanger and blow air over it through your HVAC system, the same one you use to cool the house.

    But I wouldn’t obsess about that. I mean it’s probably going to happen eventually but it may not even happen in the time that you own this next house. So if you like the neighborhood, 1960s is a pretty good era for home construction.

    PHYLLIS: Great. That’s great news. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, are you ready to fire up the fire pit for some s’mores this fall? What? You don’t have a fire pit? Well, we can fix that, too. We’re going to share some tips on how to build your own, 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, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question or décor dilemma.

    So, my project this past week was to replace a driveway. Now, I say my but it wasn’t really mine because I hired a paving company to do it for me. But it was really great because these guys work together so well. They basically came in and removed all of the old pavement and then they installed brand-new asphalt.

    And I was impressed by the fact that – you know, they bring a truck in with the asphalt and it’s loose and they kind of shovel it out or dump it out. And then it gets spread and then it gets compacted. When they were done, Leslie, I’m telling you, there must have been two shovelfuls of asphalt left in this truck. They figured it out exactly. And it’s not like I have a perfectly square driveway. It’s kind of got some weird twists and turns in it. So, the guy that estimated this just did a phenomenal job and it came out perfect.

    And I found them, by the way, on I got two bids because it’s not like there’s going to be a ton of driveway contractors in my area. But one was significantly more expensive that the other, by about 25 percent, and the guy that was less expensive actually was much more informative. And I thought he was great. And it’s nice because, being on the radio, they didn’t necessarily know who I was when they showed up to my house to bid me. But once they do, I’m able to see through it very quickly and found the right guy and he did a great job. So, very, very happy with that project.

    LESLIE: It’s a really – a great project. And hopefully, it lasts for ages and ages and you don’t have to do this anytime in the near future.

    Now we’ve got Vernon in Colorado who’s fixing up the bath. How can we help you?

    VERNON: I had heard a while back on your show, if you’re going to recaulk your bathtub, to fill it up with water? But I do not remember if anything was said about removing the water immediately after it was caulked or letting the caulk set up first before you would let the water out. So I wanted to check on that before I started my project with some good kitchen-and-bath caulk.

    LESLIE: Well, absolutely. The tip you heard about filling the tub with water is totally correct. And the reason why we do that is when you fill the tub with water, it sort of weighs down and sits down onto the base a little more.

    So if you fill it with water and then go ahead and caulk, then you let the caulk dry and then you drain the bath. When it sort of empties out, it’s going to lift back up and compress that caulk. So the next time you actually go to take a bath or a shower and you’re standing in there and the tub presses down on the base, it’s going to stretch the caulk and it’s all going to stay in place.

    So that’s really a good trick of the trade, because it keeps it in its place longer and it really lets it adhere to where it needs to be.

    VERNON: Perfect. OK. That’s what I’ll do. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, does your family enjoy standing around a fire, maybe making s’mores or sipping a glass of wine? You can have that campfire feeling all year long, in your very own backyard, when you build your own fire pit.

    Now, it’s not a difficult project and it’s made even easier when you use RumbleStone from Pavestone. Now, RumbleStone is an outdoor building block, basically. And the RumbleStones are beautiful. They have a weathered look and feel and they fit together quickly and easily.

    Now, you can use them to create dozens of outdoor projects, including benches, fire pits, planters, even an outdoor kitchen. They’re super easy to stack and install. No mortar required. They’re like building blocks for adults. So if you love to build with Legos, you are going to love using RumbleStone.

    They also come in six different weathered blocks. And they cover a variety of shapes, sizes, styles and designs. So whatever your imagination is, you’re going to find the right pieces to create that.

    TOM: And this is a good example of how easy it is to work with this product. If you want to build a round fire pit that’s about, say, I don’t know, 10 inches high and about 45 inches across, you only need two sizes of RumbleStone: the mini-blocks and the trapezoidal-shaped blocks.

    Now, the step-by-step is pretty simple. You first grab a shovel and you level out the project area where you want to build your pit. Then you just lay out the trapezoidal and mini-blocks in a circle. You can alternate each one. They can even be secured with construction adhesive, which is very cool because there’s no mortar necessary.

    LESLIE: And you know what? Three layers of RumbleStone really is all you need. For the second and third level, you just want to offset the blocks from the layer beneath it and then just line the bottom with sand.

    TOM: Now, for a complete material list and instructions with more information, you can visit and just look for the RumbleStone videos under the Projects tab. RumbleStone by Pavestone is available at Home Depot and Walmart.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Ladonna in Colorado who’s got a gardening question. Welcome to The Money Pit.

    LADONNA: Yeah, I have a sod issue. I laid some brand-new sod in my backyard and I’m watering several times a day to keep it so it catches and stuff. But I have lots and lots of mushrooms. I’m picking mushrooms in the morning, picking mushrooms at night and they’re not even edible. I have dogs, cats and grandkids who are on the yard, so I don’t want to use anything, you know, that would be bad for them. So I need something organic to get rid of mushrooms. Any ideas?

    TOM: Great question. Now, if you don’t want to use a commercially-available fungicide – because that’s what will take care of the mushrooms – you can also sort of make your own by mixing baking soda and water. If you put about a ¼-cup of baking soda per gallon of water and spray that whenever you see the new mushroom growth, that will help to deter it.

    And the other thing that you could do is add lime, because mushrooms love acidic soil and lime can make that soil less acidic so that the mushrooms will tend to not grow. So there’s two ways to help limit or reduce the amount of mushroom growth on your lawn without turning to chemicals.

    LADONNA: OK, great. Well, I will go ahead and try that.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, did you know that there’s one common product inside your home that mold just loves to grow on? We’re going to share what it is and how to stop mold cold, after this.

    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: And we’d love to hear from you on this beautiful summer day. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area and 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: Dave in New York is on the line and has a plumbing question. What are you working on?

    DAVE: I had a couple electric, plumbing and heating contractors go ahead and come give me estimates and now I’m – PEX piping put in. And they discouraged me from it because they were told that it was made with soy oil so that they could put a green label on it. And they already had to replace, in some homes, the PEX piping because rodents had been chewing on the pipes.

    TOM: Yeah, I guess I could see that. I mean I can see rodents potentially chewing on plastic pipes. But I will tell you that I have not heard that as a long-term – as a widespread problem. PEX piping is really quite good and enables you do things that you can’t do with metal piping – with copper piping. And it’s just a lot less expensive to install, as well.

    So, I don’t think it’s a wide enough problem that I would stop using it. I would continue to use it.

    DAVE: But you don’t know if they make it with soy oil or not.

    TOM: No, I don’t. But I tell you what, rodents will chew anything. So it doesn’t surprise me that maybe they had some rodent issues with it. But I don’t think it’s a problem that would prevent me from using PEX.

    DAVE: OK. I was just curious to know.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Give us a call. Let us know what you are working on. And just because you gave us a call or you posted a question, we are putting your name in The Money Pit hard hat for a great prize. This hour’s prize is going to make your autumn season all the more happier.

    We’ve got up for grabs a Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower with battery and battery charger. It is ridiculously powerful, you guys: 140 mile-per-hour wind speeds. How cool is that? You can blow all those leaves all around your property, into your neighbor’s. Whatever. I’m not going to judge. It’s probably better to remove them.

    It’s super lightweight. So once you put the backpack on, it weighs less than 8 pounds. That’s 17 pounds lighter than a comparable, gas-powered backpack blower. Hassle-free operation, guys. No gas, no oil to mix, pour. You just pop in a battery, push one button and it starts right up.

    Check it out because it’s really impressive. Actually, the whole line of Greenworks tools are very impressive. Their website is And it’s a prize worth 249 bucks.

    TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make it you. Post your question online to The Money Pit’s Community page at or call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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

    JANET: My house is over 100 years old and there was a large, three-trunk tree in the backyard that had to be cut down. But it had so many nails in the tree that after using two chainsaws and losing the chains because there were so many nails in it, we have this humungous trunk left in the backyard. And I’d like to know how to get rid of it, because I can’t use the grinder on it.

    TOM: Why can’t you use a – well, you mentioned chainsaws. But why not a trunk grinder: the type of grinder that tree services have that basically ground down or grind down the stumps to below-grade? That sort of grinder should certainly be strong enough to handle the nails that are in the tree.

    JANET: OK.

    TOM: So I would have a pro come out and use a stump grinder. And that’s the best way to get rid of that. You don’t have to get it all out; just get it down to below the surface and Mother Nature will do the rest.

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

    Well, if you have a basement or an attic that’s moisture-prone, you’re no doubt familiar with the battle of mold. But did you know that there’s one common culprit, that you probably have in your home right now, that can be a big contributor?

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you’ve probably got a ton of them in your basement right now. I bet some of them are sitting right there on your concrete floor, getting damp all the dang time. I’m talking about cardboard boxes. Everybody’s got them. You’ve had them at one point or another. But getting rid of them can cut down on the chances of mold taking a hold in your home almost immediately.

    Those cardboard storage boxes can become a mold feast in a damp basement or attic, because mold needs both moisture and food to grow. And cardboard boxes are like a gourmet buffet to mold. They see cardboard and those spores just latch right on and just continue to feast. So get rid of the boxes, you guys.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, instead, you might want to store your items on plastic or metal shelving instead of on the basement floors and in those cardboard boxes. Also, make sure you’re dealing with any basement water leaks. There’s tons of tips on on how to take care of that problem. And if mold has already started to grow, you’re best to hire a mold-remediation pro to clean up that space.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got William from Texas on the line.

    William, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?

    WILLIAM: Well, my daughter bought a house. And the person that she bought the house from smokes cigarettes. And the house – when you walk – as soon as you walk in the door, the cigarette smell hits you. And it was basically throughout the house. And we’re in the process of trying to figure out how we’re going to get all that smell out, short of ripping the walls out.

    TOM: Does the house have carpet?

    WILLIAM: Yes.

    TOM: Then it’s probably got to go.


    TOM: You can try steam-cleaning it but it gets into the padding and everything else. The least you have to do is steam-clean it. But what you want to do on the walls is you want to paint the walls with a really good primer. And so an oil-based primer or an alkyd-based primer will seal in that odor.

    Clean the walls well, use a TSP – trisodium phosphate – to wash them down and then prime the walls. If you don’t prime the walls, the odor will basically permeate right through the new paint. But if you clean them and you prime them well, that will do a – go a long way towards getting rid of a lot of that odor. That plus removing the carpet or at least steam-cleaning the carpet are the two most important things to do.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? If you do end up removing the carpet, make sure they remove the padding, as well. And if it’s a wood subfloor, you want to paint it again with that same odor-blocking primer because that will do a lot to help with that, as well. And I don’t know if you’ve held on to any of the draperies or any other soft goods from the previous owners. Just get rid of them or really have them cleaned well.

    WILLIAM: OK. That will work. I appreciate your answer.

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

    LESLIE: Coming up, tips for keeping your garage cool in the heat of the summer days that are left, coming up.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call your question in, right now, to us 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.

    And you can post your questions to The Money Pit’s Community page at, which is what Barbara from Wappingers Falls, New York just did.

    LESLIE: That’s a great name for a place to live; I’ve got to say it. Wappingers? I bet it’s lovely but I love the name even more.

    Alright. Barbara writes: “We are thinking of having a retractable awning installed. However, the contractors want to install it with a roof mount. We’re afraid of having holes drilled into the roof and just having caulking around it, possibly causing leaks. The roof is only two years old. Are we being overly concerned?”

    That’s odd that you would do the roof mount. I guess it depends on the line.

    TOM: Yeah, well, that’s right. Because remember, those awnings, they have to get up pretty high to start. So there’s probably a good reason for doing that. And yeah, certainly, it doesn’t sound like it makes a lot of sense for you to mount something to a roof.

    But that said, this isn’t just a matter, if it’s a good contractor, of slapping a couple of things on the roof and putting some holes in it. If it’s built into that roof and it’s flashed, just like anything else that goes through a roof would be – think about all the things that come through your roof: chimneys and vent pipes and the second story of your house may pop through the roof. As long as it’s sealed properly – and I don’t just mean by throwing tar on it, either; I mean properly built in, attached to the roof and flashed – I don’t see any risks. And if they’re a good-quality contractor, that’s probably exactly how they’re going to do it.

    LESLIE: Barbara, awnings are such a great idea. Depending on the architectural style of the house, they really just put a cute, little, decorative detail. Also, totally functional as far as providing shade, helping with heating and cooling costs in the house. They really are so wonderful and it’s just going to make your house look really cute.

    TOM: Well, if you’re struggling to keep your home cool this summer, you might want to consider that your attached garage could be adding to the struggle. Leslie has tips to help, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: That’s right. The struggle is real, my friends. I’m talking about the summer heat and keeping your house nice and cool without spending a ton of money. The key here, guys, is to keep your garage as cool as possible. And it’s not just so your car can live in luxury. You know, garages can really become boiling in the summer and that heat goes right into your house.

    So, to stop this, first of all, you’ve got to make sure that the wall between your garage and the house is well insulated. Many homeowners think that the garage itself is insulation. Not so. You should also insulate the ceiling overhead and the additional exterior walls of the garage.

    Now, if you’re well insulated and still reaching those record temps, be sure that your south-facing windows are shaded. And better yet, consider adding a low-E film to the glass. And that’s going to reflect the sun’s heat away.

    Now, if your garage doubles as a hobby space, it might be worth adding some air conditioning. A split-ductless heat-pump system really is the way to go. It’s an air handler that mounts on the wall inside the garage and the compressor is outside. And you only run it when you need it. You just want to make sure that you get one that’s ENERGY STAR-rated.

    And I’ve got one in my basement. I know Tom has got a split system at home. And they really are fantastic, super quiet, super affordable. And truly, you only use them when you need it. So it’s a great option. Guys, keep your garages cool so your house stays cool, as well.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, a new front door can do wonders for your curb appeal. But if you’re wondering how hard it will be to get that new door in the old frame, there are a few tricks of the trade that can make it super easy. We’ll share that stress-free repair advice, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.

    Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. That’s all the time we have. The show does continue online, though.

    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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