Perfect Fall Outdoor Projects

  • Metal Roof Home in Fall
  • 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 we hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall weekend. What is on your to-do list? If it’s inside or out, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Fall is actually the perfect time to take on some big projects around your house we’re going to talk about on today’s show and some projects, especially, that will add some enjoyment next spring and for many years to come. And one is to build a deck or a patio. You know, the weather is perfect outside for this and it’s a project that a lot of DIYers are doing themselves. We’ll have some tips, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And they call it “fall” for a reason. And if raking leaves is the last thing that you want to do with your weekend, we’ve got some tips, some techniques and some tools that will make leaf-collection a lot easier.

    TOM: And now that the heating season has arrived, it’s a good time to think about how to stop the one thing that makes us reach for that thermostat more than we probably should. And that’s those chilly, chilly drafts. We’re going to have tips on how to track down and seal off virtually every draft in the house.

    LESLIE: And if we told you that there was just one simple improvement, that costs less than $300, and it could help cut your electricity bills and make your house safer and more sustainable all at the same time, would you be in?

    TOM: Well, we bet you would. And that improvement is the Sense Home Energy Monitor. It tells you where all that electricity you get billed for every month is going. And it’s literally the single best way to reduce your electric bill. You have to see the video at GetSense.com. That’s GetSense.com. But we’ve also got one to give away, right now, to one listener.

    It’s worth 299 bucks. Going out to one listener drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. Want to give it a shot? Pick up the phone, call us right now. We need to hear about your home improvement question, your décor dilemma. Whatever is on your to-do list, slide it over to ours and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    LESLIE: Daniel in Illinois is on the line dealing with a dipping bathroom floor. What’s going on?

    DANIEL: I’ve got an older house that I’m doing some work on. And the bathroom floor seems to dip from the bathtub on one side, down and from the sink and the toilet on the other side, down towards the middle.

    TOM: OK.

    DANIEL: And I’m wondering what would be the easiest way to – for a homeowner to be able to fix something like that.

    TOM: Bathroom floors typically get weak in two places. One is at the edge of the bathtub. And that happens from just years and years of water splashing over the side of the tub or as you get in and out of the tub, just water dripping down there getting the floor wet and it started to decay. And the other area is right around the base of the toilet.

    Based on that, do you think that any of this could be decay or do you sense it’s more of a structural defect?

    DANIEL: I’m thinking it probably is more of the decay, because it’s more prominent towards the toilet side of the floor.

    TOM: OK. So what you’re going to need to do in that situation is basically replace the floor. So you’d have to take out the toilet and you would have to tear up the floor and get to the – whatever is below the tile. I presume you have tile. There’s probably going to be plywood there.

    And you want to get down to something that’s reasonably flat. It doesn’t have to be completely rot-free because if it has some structural integrity, you can put a new layer of plywood on top of that. And that will transfer the support to that upper layer and it will work quite well.

    The other thing to keep in mind is the toilet flange may have to be adjusted by your plumber up a bit so that it ends up being flush with whatever the new floor level is going to be. But when the floor decays like that, there’s no way it can be patched. It really is a structural issue and it has to be properly repaired. It’s kind of a pain-in-the-neck job because you’ve got to work in such a small place and you’ve got to take the toilet out to do it. But it really is the best way to do it.

    DANIEL: OK. Alright. Sounds great. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Mary in North Dakota needs some help with a concrete floor. What can we do for you?

    MARY: We’ve got crumbling concrete on the basement floor after water problems this spring.

    TOM: OK. Alright.

    MARY: And it’s very crumbly and powdery. And there are places on it that I’d like to paint, if I could.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Do you want to try to stabilize the deterioration of the concrete?

    MARY: Yeah. I was wondering if there was some kind of sealant that could be sprayed or poured on it.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, in terms of the water problem, is this a problem that happened after a heavy rainfall?

    MARY: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. So if you’ve got water that comes in after a heavy rainfall, I want to make sure we try to slow this down so it doesn’t happen again. Adding sump pumps, things of that nature, is not going to stop this from happening again. What stops the heavy rainfall from getting in is outside: looking at your gutters and your grading, making sure the downspouts are discharging away from the house, making sure your gutters are clean, making sure soil slopes away from the house.

    We’ve got extensive articles – actually, several of them – on MoneyPit.com. Just search “how to stop a leaking basement” and it’s the same advice. And we talk about the proper drainage improvements. So, do that first.

    And then, in terms of the concrete itself, you can use a patching compound. QUIKRETE has a patching-compound product. You definitely want to use the patching compound because it’s designed to stick to the old concrete. If you try to put new concrete over it, it’s not going to stick. So, the ready-to-use patching compounds are trowel-applied. They’re latex formulas, so it’s easy to clean up. But that will seal the old concrete.

    Then, once that dries, then you can paint it. And what I would look for is an epoxy floor paint. The epoxy paints I like because they’re a chemical cure. When you buy the floor paint, you get the paint in a gallon can that’s about three-quarters filled and then a quart of hardener. You mix them together, stir them up and then you apply the paint. Sometimes, there is an additive that goes in after the fact that gives you some texture to the floor, helps kind of hide the dirt. But patching it first, then adding an epoxy paint will have that looking like new in no time.

    MARY: OK. But the name of the sealant was called what?

    TOM: QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. It’s QUIKRETE Concrete Patching Compound. Good stuff.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Chuck in Delaware on the line whose kids dropped something in the bathtub, which caused a huge crack and now a leak. What is going on?

    CHUCK: Oh, they dropped a shave-cream can into the bottom of the tub. It put a semicircle crack in. And I’m wondering if there’s anything that I can use to stop this from – you know, when they step on it, it leaks.

    TOM: Yeah. I mean look, you can repair it. It’s not going to be pretty but you can repair it. And you said it’s a fiberglass tub?

    CHUCK: Yes.

    TOM: So, you could pick up a fiberglass repair kit. They’re available from a number of manufacturers. Two that you would know would be Bondo, which makes a lot of fiberglass products. They’re big in industry, they’re big in auto body. And then, of course, there’s Elmer’s. They have a tub-and-shower repair kit, as well. But I would probably get the Bondo kit and you could put a fiberglass patch on there.

    But the color on it is – it’s always going to show; it means you’re going to see it. But you can repair it structurally so it won’t leak, because they need to be able to step on it without it bending and cracking. And if you repair it with Bondo, you’re going to basically apply the resin, you’re going to press fiberglass into it and then apply additional resin to make it strong.

    CHUCK: Alright. Well, I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: You can call us with your décor or your home improvement questions anytime, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.

    TOM: Well, fall is a great time to take on big projects that are going to add some enjoyment next spring and for many years to come. And one is to build a deck. The weather is perfect for that outside work and it’s a project that a lot of DIYers are doing themselves. We’ll have tips to help you do just that, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call in your home improvement question, right now, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online, all for free.

    Hey, if you’ve been paying some electric bills and wondering where all the electricity in your house is going and why they are so darn high, we’ve got a great solution. We’re giving away, on today’s show, the Sense Home Energy Monitor. It’s worth 299 bucks. And I’ve got to tell you, it is the single best way that we’ve found to help you save energy and know what’s going on in your house.

    Check out the video on how it all works at GetSense.com. GetSense.com. It’s available for 299 bucks but we’ve got one to give away, right now, on the show. So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Nancy in Pennsylvania is on the line with a question about asbestos. How can we help you today?

    NANCY: I live in a home that was built in the mid-1950s. And on the ceiling, there are 1×1 square ceiling tiles. And I would like to take those off and just have a smooth ceiling put up. But I see on all these home improvement shows where they get into pulling things out of older houses and some of the things have asbestos in them. And I’m wondering how you tell that.

    TOM: Asbestos can’t be visually identified; it has to be tested. And what you could potentially do is take a sample of one of those ceiling tiles and send it to an asbestos testing lab and have it identified.

    NANCY: How do you find an asbestos testing lab?

    LESLIE: You can buy kits at any sort of major home center. I know Home Depot carries one. I think that one of the main brands that you can find in stores is PRO-LAB. And then you send a piece of whatever you’re concerned about to this company and they run a test and get it back to you with whatever their findings are.

    Now, the issue with asbestos is that it’s so lightweight that if it becomes particulate, if it breaks up and gets into the air, it takes almost a full day for it ever to reach to the ground. So that’s why there is such a concern when there is asbestos present. But most likely, your ceiling tiles are hopefully fine.

    TOM: Yeah, they’re probably just a fiber tile, which we saw millions of these used in the 50s. But if you’re concerned, that would be the way to do it: to send a sample to an asbestos-testing lab. You can use one that’s available in retail or if you just Google “asbestos testing lab,” you’ll find these all over the country. Find a good one, slip a piece in a plastic bag, send it off and they’ll read it for you.

    NANCY: OK, great. I didn’t know they existed.

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

    LESLIE: Fall is actually the perfect time to take on a big project that’s going to add enjoyment next spring and for many years to come. And that project is building a deck or a patio.

    Now, the weather outside is perfect right now for this work. And this is a project that more and more DIYers are doing themselves. We’ve got tips to help you do just that, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz.

    TOM: First, there’s an interesting reason why so many people are now building decks themselves. The decking-material manufacturers are telling us that the pros are incredibly backed up right now and they have been all year long, so it’s really hard to find a pro to do the job for you. They’ve got more work than they can hope to get to. And therefore, a lot of manufacturers are even aiming promotions just at the DIYers, because the DIY deck demand is so huge.

    And there are a lot of good reasons to add a backyard deck. It’s a surefire way to increase your home’s living space for more than half the year. Plus, a well-designed wooden deck can actually increase the value of your home.

    LESLIE: Now, the first step is literally to have a plan, guys. Now, you can get deck plans online or you can even find them at your local home improvement or big-box store. And most are going to come with a materials list, which could spare you the task of having to figure it all out and create this idea of what the deck is and what you need all by yourself.

    And step-by-step instructions could come in handy, too, especially if you’re not completely sure of your skill set. And this could be your first time building a backyard deck, so this is very, very helpful.

    Next, you’re going to need a good design. So you want to think about traffic flow and convenience. Now, a lot of people like their decks to be just off the kitchen, which is going to make summer barbecuing and even wintertime grilling a breeze. Also, you want to make sure that you include room for a dining area with chairs and that it’s not in between you and the pathway from the inside or your kitchen, or wherever you’re coming from, to that grill.

    And don’t forget to consider options like built-in benches, planters, even lighting, all of which can help make your backyard deck more accommodating and comfortable.

    TOM: Now, you’re also going to need to think about the materials. If you choose to build a wooden deck, keep in mind that the least expensive option – pressure-treated wood – requires upkeep in the form of stain and sealants to keep out the weather.

    Now, pressure-treated wood is not going to rot but it will crack and check and that’s why it has to be stained and sealed. Composite decking is another option. It requires very little or no upkeep at all but it’s a lot more expensive than most wood decking and a lot heavier to handle.

    And speaking of heavy, remember, you’ve got to get all that lumber, concrete for the footings and hardware to your house, which is a great reason to turn to Hertz to rent a truck or a van for the day.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And one last step, guys: you’ve got to get permission. And we mean you really have to get permission. A lot of cities and towns are going to require that you get a permit if you’re planning to add a deck to your house. Although you’re not going to love that idea, maybe, of having to shell out extra money and taking the time to get that permit, not to mention you’ve got to pass an inspection by your local building inspector, you’re going to be so glad that you do this in the end. You know, there is nothing worse than putting all of that time and effort into building a deck only to have that building inspector eventually come along and tell you, “Hey, you didn’t get this permitted right. You’ve got to take it down.” And it happens.

    TOM: But it absolutely does.

    And that’s today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz. For any home project, store pickup or a move that needs more than your car can handle, remember HDTV: Hertz Does Trucks and Vans. Book now at Hertz.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Deb in Missouri on the line who needs help with a flooring question. How can we help you?

    DEB: Yes. Well, we replaced our flooring but we destroyed most of the molding trying to get it off the – along the mopboard.

    TOM: OK.

    DEB: And we were wondering, what’s the best way to put new on? What would be the best to use? The walls are all plaster. It looked like the nails had been set before the plaster was dry, because we had to cut them off.

    TOM: And so how high up the walls did the molding go? Because usually with plaster walls, the molding is a lot taller than a standard 3½-inch base molding.

    DEB: It’s 3½ inches.

    TOM: It is 3½ inches?

    DEB: Yes. But we could go a wee bit higher and it still look nice.

    TOM: Right. OK. Do you want the molding to be painted or natural?

    DEB: Well, I don’t think we’ll ever match the doors. It’s all wood and I don’t think we’d ever match that.

    TOM: OK. So do you want the molding to be painted, then?

    DEB: Yes. We’ll probably go painted, yes. But adhering it to the walls is going to be a real pain because of that plaster.

    TOM: Hmm. Yeah. Well, you’re going to do it with a combination of trim screws and LIQUID NAILS. So you’re not going to nail it, OK?

    What you’re going to do is – probably the least expensive thing to buy is something called “finger-joint Colonial baseboard molding.” It’s a very straightforward molding with a little bit of a fluted edge on top. It looks nice; it looks finished.

    Is it – does the thickness matter? Does it have to be a certain thickness to cover a gap between the wall and the floor?

    DEB: At least a ¼-inch, yes.

    TOM: Quarter-inch? OK. So all you’re going to need is the molding then. Because you could put the molding and then shoe molding over that, which would extend it out to almost an inch. But no, you’re going to buy finger-joint baseboard molding. Finger-joint means it’s ready for paint.

    Now, before you apply it to the walls, I would prime it so it’s a lot easier to paint this molding. In fact, I would prime it and I’d put one finish coat of paint on it, because it’s a lot easier to paint it when it’s up on some sawhorses than when it’s attached to your house.

    And then when it comes to installation, you’re going to – and you know what? You might want to get a carpenter that knows how to do this because, frankly, it’s just a lot easier if you know how to make a corner joint, which is called a “coped joint.” And you do it with a coping saw.

    But the way you attach it is with – after it’s all cut to fit, you apply some LIQUID NAILS to the back of the molding and then you put in only as many trim screws – and trim screws are kind of like drywall screws except they have a really tiny head, like a finish nail. But you only put enough of those in to hold it while it’s drying. So you’re not going to have nearly as many trim screws as you will nails. And it’ll be really solid.

    And the last thing you do is fill those holes. And you put one finish coat of paint on when – and then you’re completely done. So by putting the paint on ahead of time, you’re halfway there. All you do is touch it up, fill the holes, one more coat of paint, you’re good to go. OK?

    DEB: Awesome. Thank you so very much.

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

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

    While we’re on the topic of home improvement, guys, are you waiting for those leaves to rake themselves up? Guess what? They’re not gonna. Not ever. Even in a windstorm, it’s not going to rake them into a nice pile. But there are ways that you can make that job easier and safer, too. When we come back, we’re going to have some leaf-cleanup tips.

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

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

    CODY: Yes, ma’am. I was calling because I’m having a problem with scorpions and bugs and stuff. And I was going to see if you could recommend an economical way to treat them, both inside and out. We’ve used commercial businesses in the past to come in and spray. That’s just not in the budget right now. And I’ve tried Sevin Dust granules outside and just wanted to see if you could recommend anything that would be good inside and out.

    TOM: Well, if you’re concerned about spiders, there’s a new product out called Miss Muffet’s Revenge, that’s made by the Wet & Forget Company, that’s inexpensive and can keep them out for a year. But I don’t think that’s going to keep the scorpions out.

    CODY: OK.

    TOM: One natural product that folks have reported good success with is boric acid. And boric acid can be applied a number of ways. You can sprinkle the powder, you can mix the powder with water and spray it. But you have to remember it doesn’t kill on contact; it essentially kind of messes with the skeleton system of the scorpion and causes them to die from dehydration. So, it’s more a preventative than it is sort of an immediate use – an immediate-result product.

    CODY: Spray it around the foundation, on the exterior of the home? Also wouldn’t want to spray that inside or would it be OK to spray inside?

    TOM: Well, you could spray it inside, as well. I mean it’s pretty safe to spray inside and outside.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Another natural oil that they just don’t seem to like, for whatever reason, is cedar oil. So if you mix cedar oil with water and then spray that around your perimeter or if you’ve got gaps or cracks in your foundation or on your interior, you can use that, as well. They also don’t like lavender. So if you plant some lavender around your foundation, they’ll tend to stay away.

    CODY: Awesome. I appreciate the help, guy. You all have a great rest of the day.

    LESLIE: Well, raking up fallen leaves is a time-honored autumn chore and a totally strenuous task if you go about it the wrong way.

    TOM: Yes. But like any task, you’ll save time, sweat and stress if you’ve got the right tools and the right techniques.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, first of all, guys, you might be thinking, “Why can’t I just leave the leaves?” You know, it might be tempting to do that but there are several reasons that you should and you need to actually rake them up.

    First of all, those dead leaves are going to deprive your grass of crucial sunlight during the fall months. It’s already limited the amount of sunlight they’re going to get. And if the leaves are on top, it’s going to block whatever light that it needs to grow. So get rid of the leaves for that reason.

    Also, they can accumulate and get wet, which would then lead to mold growth, attract some pests. You might get termites. That’s another terrible reason. And heavy rain. It can wash those leaves down to a nearby storm drain and then prevent that water from draining. And this can lead to your yard, the street, your basement, a whole host of places getting majorly flooded.

    TOM: If we’ve convinced you you’ve got to get rid of those leaves, there are a few ways to make this process a bit easier.

    First of all, my favorite one. If you’re raking, use a leaf rake and rake leaves into a pile or better yet, rake them onto a plastic tarp. When I discovered this, my leaf-raking chores got so much easier. I would rake the leaves onto one of those blue, plastic tarps. You can make bigger piles that way. And then you drag the leaves over to the compost pile. And my measure of a big pile is one that is just small enough not to fall off the tarp. I want to get as many on that as I possibly can.

    And in our town, the town will actually come and vacuum them up. So all you’ve got to do is dump that whole tarp worth of leaves into the curb. And that’s what we do. You pull the tarp over the top of the pile and it just sort of dumps the leaves in the street as you go and you’re done.

    Now, in some towns, you need to put them in paper bags. And if that’s the case, you want to make sure you use some sort of a cardboard collar, or something to hold that bag open and closed, so they don’t end up all over the place. But if you don’t need to do that, just put them on the tarp, drag the tarp over and dump it. It’s super easy.

    LESLIE: Alright. Maybe you’re the type of person that needs a motivational item to help you get the project done. And perhaps for you, that’s a power tool. Well, here you go: let’s add a power tool to the mix.

    A portable leaf blower is really helpful to corral all of those leaves into a big pile. And you don’t have to wake up the neighbors, either. You can look at battery-powered blowers made by Greenworks, for example. They’re quiet, they’re super powerful. And speaking of battery-operated, you can also use a battery-powered lawn mower to collect and pulverize those leaves. I mean great ways to get a new tool and do a project that you need to.

    TOM: Exactly. And for bigger lawns, you can also use a walk-behind power vacuum to collect and shred those leaves. If you’ve got a really big lawn, you can probably rent one. And when that collection bag is full, just dump the leaves into a compost pile and you can pretty much do the same thing with a riding lawn mower.

    You can add a heavy-duty leaf vacuum. It’s pulled behind the mower, it’s got an impeller and it grinds up those leaves. It reduces them to a 10-to-1 ratio, so you’d be amazed how many of those leaves you can pretty much make disappear with those very fun power tools.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going over to Alaska where Mary has a question about siding. How can we help you today?

    MARY: We recently sided our house with concrete siding. It’s 25 years old and underneath is plywood and then Tyvek. We used 4×8 or 4×12 panels that are prepainted but I can’t remember if they’re 4×8 or 4×12. And they’re attached to the plywood walls and they’re attached vertically. On that, we attached 2-inch batten, which was also prepainted at the factory. And those 2-inch battens run vertical on 8-inch centers.

    TOM: OK.

    MARY: My first question is: do I need to caulk where the batten attaches to the panels? And secondly, do I need to caulk the nail holes on the batten?

    TOM: Well, you wouldn’t caulk where the batten attaches to the panels. You might use an adhesive in that area if that’s recommended by the siding manufacturer. In terms of the nail holes, generally, you don’t have to caulk nail holes. As long as you’re not smashing the nails in and breaking the siding, they’re usually tight enough around them where you do not have to caulk each individual nail head.

    MARY: The nail holes have broken through the painted surface.

    TOM: So, if they broke through the painted surface, it’s not a bad idea to touch them up with a little bit of caulk. But I wouldn’t be too concerned about it.

    MARY: OK. And then you think that it needed to be caulked or adhered to behind the batten before it was attached?

    TOM: Well, no. What I said was I don’t think you need to caulk it, because there’s really no seal between the siding and the batten or the strip of wood. What you might need to do there is – or an option might be to use an adhesive, like a construction adhesive, to help adhere the siding pieces to the batten. But I wouldn’t do that unless it was recommended by the manufacturer of the siding. They’re going to have specifications for how to install the siding. And if it tells you to use an adhesive, use it; if not, you just fasten it with the nails.

    MARY: OK. Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Remember, you can reach us anytime at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home repair or your home improvement question. We’re here to lend a hand.

    Hey, now that heating season has arrived, it’s official: A/C’s off, heating is on. I love it. It means the holidays are around the corner. It’s a good time, guys, right now to stop the thing that makes us reach for that thermostat far more often than we need to and that’s those chilly drafts. We’re going to have tips on how to track them down and seal off every last one of those drafts in your house, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com, next.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is 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.

    Hey, have you ever wondered where all the electricity in your home is going? Well, most of us have a few energy guzzlers that we’re not even aware of. And we’ve got a great solution because we’re giving away the Sense Home Energy Monitor worth 299 bucks.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Sense is the single best way that we’ve found that’s going to help you save some energy and know exactly what’s going on with energy usage in your house. Check out their video demo at GetSense.com. Once it’s installed, you’re going to have the Sense app on your phone. And it’s going to tell you what’s on, what’s off, how much energy is being used. And it’s all in real time, so you can understand where your house is using power, when, what costs the most amount of money. And then you can make changes that will help you save some energy at home and then save some energy dollars.

    And another cool benefit is you might see something kick on that’s never usually on and you’re using more power than usual. And maybe it’s telling you something like, “Ooh, there’s a sump pump that’s still running.” Or something’s happening that’s signaling, “Oh, gosh. There’s something else going on. There’s a leak. There’s something that’s causing this power to kick on.” And it could save you a ton of dollars that way, as well.

    Check it all out. Very cool technology. It’s going to help you understand how things work at home. You can find them at GetSense.com. But give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here to lend a hand.

    TOM: That website, again, is GetSense.com. Take a look at the video right on the home page. GetSense.com.

    Well, now that the heating season has arrived, you can expect those big heating bills to also start showing up very shortly. But there is one thing you could do to keep them in check and that is to hire a pro to track down the source and seal off drafts before you need to start reaching for the thermostat. We have tips on how to do just that, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Having an energy-efficient home is an ongoing job. And it really – for every homeowner, there’s a lot of stuff to do. There are so many parts that can be changed to increase your home’s energy efficiency. But one area that frequently is difficult to track down and improve is those areas that are causing drafts.

    TOM: Yeah. And drafts don’t just make you feel chilly if you happen to be in the path of one. If your heater is blasting warm air but the room never seems to get any warmer, it’s also very likely the result of air leaks. And with all that cold air leaking in, the real indoor temperature can never be accurately gauged. And that’s going to overtax your heating system in the winter. And by the way, it’ll overtax your cooling system in the summer, even though you’re not feeling drafts, because the air is warm.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? One of the best ways to track down the source of all of those drafts and air leaks is by hiring a professional home energy auditor.

    Now, a home energy auditor is going to have the tools and the knowledge to see where the biggest draft offenders are in your home. They’re going to use tools such as blower doors, which can pinpoint the exact source of drafts, and infrared cameras that can even find spaces where insulation could be missing.

    TOM: And with the results of a home energy audit, you’ll know exactly where your home is leaking and you’ll be able to reach every single area and address it with certainty, which is going to make your home more comfortable and a lot less expensive to heat and cool all year long.

    LESLIE: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com. 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: Randy in Ohio is on the line with a decking question. How can we help you today?

    RANDY: I just built a deck. And it’s got that new-wood look, you know? What kind of stain can I put on it?

    TOM: So you have a number of options. You said you just built it, so you might want to let it dry out. Sometimes we don’t recommend staining until about the second year, because the pressure-treated lumber is going to have a lot of moisture in it. But when you are ready to treat it, what I would recommend that you use is a solid-color deck stain. Deck stains come in solid color and semi-transparent. And if you use solid color, it basically has more pigment in it, so it tends to last a lot longer. So, go for a good brand – a good-quality brand – of a solid-color deck stain. And I think that’s something that you’ll hope to get maybe two or three seasons out, depending on the use of your deck.

    RANDY: Alright. Yes it does. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: You can reach us anytime with your design, décor, home repair, home improvement questions. Whatever you’re working on, we’re here to lend a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, as the weather is getting colder, you may begin to think about how you can save on your heating bills. Replacing windows is usually a good bet but what if you can’t afford that or maybe you live in an apartment? We’re going to have an option, when The Money Pit continues.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

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

    TOM: So this week, I got a call from one of my kids, who is on her way to Washington D.C. from New Jersey, a four-hour drive. And she says, “Dad, I’ve got a situation.” I’m like, “Those are words you don’t want to hear from your kid, right?”

    But then she goes on to say that when she was leaving home, she thought she heard a meow but kind of blew it off because maybe it was outside. Her window was open. So she got in the car and she drove on down four hours to Washington D.C. and pulled into a parking garage at her friend’s house. And she heard another meow. And it turned out that there was a cat that had lodged itself in the engine of the car.

    LESLIE: Holy cow.

    TOM: The cat somehow had crawled up, I guess, from underneath, sat on a metal plate and took a ride for 200-plus miles down the turnpike, down 95 all the way to D.C.

    LESLIE: That’s crazy.

    TOM: I know, right?

    LESLIE: So now you have a cat.

    TOM: Now there’s a cat in the car. And so, she does the right thing: she calls Animal Control. And the Animal Control lady comes over and looks inside and tries to sort of lift the cat out from the top side. Because if you look way down in the engine, you could see it. Well, the cat was having none of that and just crawled …

    LESLIE: Because the cat was terrified.

    TOM: Of course. The cat was just digging itself in more and more. And then she’s like, “Well, can we take part of the car apart to get to the cat? And can we call AAA?” And AAA is like, “Yeah, right. We’re not going to come unless your car is disabled.” And the Animal Control lady is like, “Well, it is disabled. She can’t drive it like this.”

    Anyway, they called the cop. The cop came over. Big guy. D.C. cop. He tried. He couldn’t fit his arm down there, because he was a big man. Finally called the fire department, because you know the story. If the cat’s stuck anywhere …

    LESLIE: They get cats out of trees.

    TOM: They get cats out of trees. You call the fire department. And the fire department gets there – in full turn-out gear, by the way – with the truck parked at the edge of the parking garage, because they couldn’t get it in.

    And they come in. There’s four guys looking at this cat and the cat decided to give up at that moment, knowing that it was going to happen one way or the other, and crawled out of the engine on its own. At what point – at which point Animal Control lady grabbed the cat and then took it back to the shelter to check to see if it had a microchip. And if it did, my daughter was going to bring it back to New Jersey because – and let it out because, obviously, it belonged to somebody up here. Drop it off at whoever belonged to it. But it turned out it didn’t, so now that cat was the newest addition to the animal shelter there in D.C.

    But that was the cat story.

    LESLIE: I thought for sure you guys were going to adopt a cat.

    TOM: I know. Well, you know what? That could have happened. My wife is badly allergic to them, so it wasn’t going to happen but …

    LESLIE: I thought you were going to be like, “And now, we have a cat.”

    TOM: What a story. That poor cat. Four whole hours riding in the engine compartment.

    LESLIE: That’s crazy.

    TOM: Alright. Let’s help Julie here in New York City, who says, “Once it turns cold, lots of us start to think about how we might save on heating costs. Replacing windows is a good bet but what do you do if you can’t afford that or you might live in an apartment like me?”

    LESLIE: You know, you can actually, Julie, get some shades that’ll help you with those heating bills. You can get a shade that’s maybe insulated, that’s going to keep the heat inside the apartment and the cold air outside. And you can get the ones – they’re called “cellular shades.” And they kind of look like a honeycomb. They have a honeycomb shape, so you’ve got an air pocket in between two layers of fabric. And what that does is it stops the cold air from getting through that shade and then getting into the house.

    They’re usually pretty affordable. I know I’ve seen them in a couple of big-box stores, even Bed Bath & Beyond. You can get fancy ones and order them in. But either way, that’s going to do the trick.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Remember, if you’ve got questions, couldn’t get through to us or you’d like to just send us an email, you can do that by writing the show at MoneyPit.com or post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    For now, though, the show does continue online. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    END HOUR 1 TEXT

    (Copyright 2019 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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