How to Pick Projects that Pay You Back #0212182

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here for you. If you love décor, if you love remodeling, if you love how-to projects, the first thing you need to do is to call us at 888-MONEY-PIT because we do, too, and we’re here to help you get those jobs done. 888-666-3974 is the phone number. You can also post your question online at Join The Money Pit community and we would love to help you out.

    Coming up on today’s program, as the weather turns to spring, are you planning a project to improve your outdoor living but maybe you want to be confident the project is a good investment? Let’s face it: not all home improvement projects add value to your house. We’re going to share the details on a project that can deliver years of enjoyment and good ROI, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, if you heat water with an electric water heater, you may know that this is pretty much the most expensive way that there is to get hot water in your home. Well, there’s a new water heater on the market that’s almost 300-percent more efficient and may be eligible for hundreds in rebates. We’ll share details, just ahead.

    TOM: And also ahead, do some of your meals come out half-baked? Well, don’t blame the cook. You might be able to blame the oven. We’re going to explain why oven temperatures vary and how to fix the problem.

    But first, we want to hear from you. We want your questions, your challenges, your projects, even your home improvement disasters. Call us right now. We won’t judge. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    LESLIE: Jeff in Iowa needs some help with a low-flow showerhead. In true Seinfeld fashion, you’re just not getting a good wash going?

    JEFF: No. No, I’m not. My house is a 1978 ranch. We’ve lived here about 10 years. I’ve always had good water – what I felt was reasonably good water pressure. Still has the original showers and showerheads in it, so I decided to upgrade everything to more eco-friendly stuff. Replaced the toilets, no problems. But the showerheads, I put these low-flow showerheads on and it’s like the water is just barely – I expected some decrease in performance, obviously, but the water is just like falling out of them. It’s not spraying out like I would expect.

    TOM: Is this just happening at one showerhead, Jeff, or is it happening at several showerheads?

    JEFF: Two showerheads.

    TOM: Two showerheads, OK. So, we can rule out any kind of blockage because it wouldn’t be happening to both at the same time.

    Now, what kind of showerheads did you put in there? Can you tell me the brand?

    JEFF: Well, the first one was the home improvement store’s brand showerhead. The second one I’ve got is a Waterpik. It’s not the highest end of – I thought maybe I just went too cheap on the first one, so I went kind of middle-of-the-road. Made it – I didn’t know if I maybe needed to upgrade even more or just go back to the old showerheads.

    TOM: So, when you install a low-flow showerhead and you didn’t have one before, you are correct in that you’re going to get a reduction in the power of the shower that perhaps you were used to.

    Now, there should be an adequate amount of water. And the fact that you’re not feeling that means that maybe you don’t have the right showerhead or there’s something wrong with the installation. I’d like to, for the purpose of this conversation, rule out the installation, rule out any clogging, although that is entirely possible. And you might want to take it off to look behind it to make sure that’s the case.

    But what I would recommend is that you upgrade the showerhead to a name brand, like a Moen or perhaps a Delta. Because these guys spend a lot of time and a lot of money engineering their showerheads so that they don’t decrease performance when they save you water. And the other thing to look for is a certification called WaterSense. And it’s sort of like ENERGY STAR for appliances but it’s like measuring water efficiency for faucets and showerheads.

    JEFF: I will definitely give that a try because what I’ve got going on now, it takes me so long to shower and get film and stuff, I might as well use the high-flow and …

    TOM: Not going to work, right? Yeah.

    JEFF: Then in and out, you know? It takes the lumps. So, yeah, it’s not doing the trick. I will look into the more expensive one and see what that does for me.

    TOM: Alright. Yeah, you can always take it back if that doesn’t work. But take a look at the installation first, just to be sure. Make sure you don’t have any plumbing tape that got jammed in there or anything of that nature, OK?

    JEFF: OK. Sounds good. Thanks, guys.

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

    LESLIE: Tara in Pennsylvania is on the line with an insect question. How can we help you?

    TARA: Hi. I was just wondering – we have a bunch of earwigs that’s up underneath our siding. And it seems like they’re always there and we were just wondering, what can we do to get rid of them? Is there anything that’s attracting them there?

    TOM: Well, look, they’re probably looking for food, so something is landing on that siding and attracting them. Generally, when they’re not up high like that, it’s advisable to trap them. Like a trapping program will reduce their population. But if they’re up on the side and crawling on the building, I’d probably go straight to a pesticide-management program, some sort of chemical control.

    The University of California recommends a pesticide called Spinosad – S-p-i-n-o-s-a-d. And there’s a number of commercial products that are available that have that in it. And that should be probably the best way to control them and stop them from coming back and encourage them to go to somebody else’s house to infest.

    TARA: That would be helpful. Oh, along those lines, as far as insects go, we get crickets down in our basement every …

    LESLIE: Spider crickets.

    TARA: I have – I guess they’re spider crickets; I’m not sure. Little black crickets. But every year, they drive me crazy because my bedroom is downstairs.

    TOM: Why don’t you call a pest-control operator, like Orkin, and have them just do a general spraying for insects? So you can probably put just the right pesticide in and around your home in a safe and effective way that will reduce both problems – stop the earwigs and stop the crickets – and just get you a lot more comfortable.

    TARA: Oh, that would be great.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Tara? With the cave crickets, we get them where I live on Long Island, in the basement. And I always feel bad when my sister and brother-in-law sleep over, because they’ll sleep on an air mattress in my basement and I’m like, “The spider crickets are going to leap on you.” Because they totally gross me out. But if you take some double-stick tape and just put it around the perimeter of the room, in the interim while you’re waiting to treat, they do tend to congregate there. And they’ll get stuck and then you can just pick it up and toss it in the morning.

    TARA: Oh, that’s a good idea. I was just using some indoor spray every year when they come around and then I’m sucking up the crickets constantly – dead crickets – everywhere. And along with them and stink bugs, it hasn’t been fun.

    TOM: Yeah, I bet. Tara, when it comes to making decisions to whether or not you should go with a professional or use the sort of the do-it-yourself approach, I always feel that if you go with a pro, they’re actually going to use less pesticide than you’re applying yourself. And it’ll be done in exactly the right manner, with just the right amount, to take care of the problem. I think people tend to overspray when it comes to the over-the-counter pesticides and actually put themselves in greater danger. Does that make sense?

    TARA: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. For help with your next home improvement project, call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can get matched with background-checked home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments all online, for free.

    LESLIE: Coming up, as the weather turns to spring, are you planning a project to improve your outdoor living but you need to be confident that that project is a good investment? Well, we’re going to share the details on a project that can deliver years of enjoyment and a good ROI when you sell, on today’s Building With Confidence Tip presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, are you trying to fix up your money pit? Well, we are, too. And we’re here to help you out. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: And hey, going on right now at The Money Pit, we are looking to help you get an amazing night’s sleep. That’s right. The Money Pit’s Good Night’s Sleep Sweepstakes, presented by Tuft & Needle, is going on right now at Tuft & Needle makes the most comfortable mattress on the internet. And we know because we each have them in our homes and we love them.

    TOM: Absolutely. There’s actually over $4,000 in prizes, including your choice of any size Tuft & Needle mattress, plus pillows and sheets. Enter today at

    LESLIE: Sparky in Georgia is on the line with a question about cleaning a bathroom. How can we help you today?

    SPARKY: I live in a subdivision, about 65 employees out in the country. I actually test the water on a daily basis for the chlorine and report that at the end of the month to the local provider. I’ve got a two-bedroom house. In one bathroom, I’ve got no problem with the water in the tank or the bowl. In the master bedroom, I’ve got the bath where it’s got a black ring – water ring. And I’ve replaced the water line, the inside of the water tank, replaced the entire bowl and it continues to come up. Even after we clean the bowl, we still get that black water ring.

    LESLIE: So you’re able to remove it but it comes back.

    SPARKY: That’s correct.

    TOM: And it only shows up on that bathroom and not others.

    SPARKY: That’s correct. And the products that we’ve gotten from the – off the store shelf have not been able to help, either. And we’ve actually gone to the internet and it says the more chlorine you put in it, the more that black ring will come back. But we’ve cleaned the bath – both bathrooms with the same products.

    TOM: Are the toilets the same age?

    SPARKY: The same age, yes. I’ve called the water company and they said they don’t have a clue. And I said I’d sampled the water and tested it every day for the monthly reports.

    TOM: I wonder if there’s something different about the porcelain finish on that toilet. For example, if it – if one toilet’s finish was – maybe it was scrubbed more over the years and as a result, it’s worn off some of its porcelain so it’s a bit more porous and becomes more of a trap for bacteria to kind of grow in. And I’m speculating here. I’m kind of shooting from the hip, Sparky, because I know that you’ve tried all of the – all the sort of normal things. But it’s confusing that it happens just in this one particular bathroom with this one particular toilet.

    I guess, given everything that you’ve done, have you considered just replacing the toilet and seeing if that does it?

    SPARKY: Well, that we’ve done. In fact, I’ve got to go back and – you may be onto something. Because one bowl is round, which is the one issue that we’ve got. The other bathroom is oblong. So they work – same manufacturer but two different bowls.

    TOM: That would be the only thing that seems left, because you’ve done everything else.

    SPARKY: I was just wondering if there was some product on the market, other than Coca-Cola.

    TOM: Yeah. Look, there’s a lot of products that clean this but it’s not going to stop it from coming back. The go-to product for me is CLR. Have you used that yet?

    SPARKY: No, I have not.

    TOM: So that’s an old standby. Take a look at CLR Calcium – it stands for Calcium, Lime and Rust. It basically is the – one of the best toilet-bowl cleaners out there. Inexpensive. And give that a shot. But if it continues to develop that issue, I might consider replacing the toilet if it’s really bothersome. Either that or get one of those Ty-D-Bol men with the blue dye so you just don’t notice it.

    SPARKY: Correct. Yeah, there you go. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, now that spring is approaching, millions of homeowners are thinking about ways to improve their outdoor spaces. I mean why not? We all want to get out there and enjoy that warm weather that, I promise you, is coming. It’s just around the corner.

    But not all of those home improvements deliver a return on investment that you can count on. But one that does, and has proven to do so year after year, is building a deck.

    TOM: Yeah, definitely. Now, the cost of building a deck can vary widely based on the number of levels the deck has, as well as, of course, the deck material. But regardless, decks do deliver one of the 10 best returns on your remodeling investment when it comes time to sell. Building a deck also is going to help your home stand out in the marketplace, which is important, because that makes it a much more desirable home to buy. This could increase buyer competition for your home and result in a sale at the highest possible price.

    LESLIE: And today’s Building With Confidence Tip has been brought to you by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. It’s completely online, reduces annoying and time-consuming paperwork and gives you a real, accurate and personalized mortgage solution based on your unique financial situation, with no hidden fees or hassles.

    TOM: Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. Apply simply, understand fully, mortgage confidently.

    LESLIE: Penny in Illinois is on the line and she’s dealing with some frost on a meter. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    PENNY: Well, we have a brand-new home and the outside is where the meter is and stuff like that. Well, cold air gets into that little pipe area and then comes into the basement and puts a patch of frost on the wall in the basement downstairs. And I was wondering if there was anything I can do to put something over that gas meter to protect it from getting so cold.

    TOM: You don’t have to worry about the gas meter getting – being protected, because gas meters are meant to be outside in all sorts of weather. That said, though, if you’re getting that kind of cold air in your basement, that’s got to be causing you big energy losses. So I would try to seal those spaces where that cold air is getting in, to try to keep that space as warm as possible. Because that is going to add to your heating cost.

    PENNY: OK. But I talked to the builder and he said you really can’t do anything inside because then you’re looking at a fire hazard. If you try to insulate inside, then there could be a fire hazard there.

    TOM: What, in the basement? With basement-wall insulation?

    PENNY: I was thinking by where the gas meter was. That’s where I kind of …

    TOM: But again, you don’t have to worry about the gas meter. That said, you can insulate any – you can add insulation to exterior walls and you certainly can add insulation near a gas meter. It’s not like it’s a source of flame, OK? It’s a piece of equipment where – through which all the plumbing passes. But it’s not like there’s a flame there.

    So if your builder is telling you that, it sounds to me like he’s trying to get out of a project.

    PENNY: Gotcha. OK. Thank you. I appreciate your help on that.

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

    Tell that guy to get to work.

    PENNY: I will.

    LESLIE: Tim in New Mexico is on the line with a question about windows. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    TIM: Well, I am considering – my wife and I are considering putting in some energy-efficient windows and so we’ve been shopping that a little bit. And it seems that there’s quite a myriad of available products in that market.

    And one thing that I was looking at was the – just the air-void-type windows versus the gas-filled windows. And one salesperson told us that he recommended that just get the air void because the gas-filled – that gas, after a year or two, will dissipate out of the window, which I had never heard that before. But in essence, you’re just left with an air void.

    So, anyway, I’m just looking for some guidance in that subject.

    TOM: Alright. So, when you say “air void,” what exactly do you mean? Because I’m not at all familiar with that term.

    TIM: Well, basically, the double-paned window with just dead space in it and there’s – it’s not gas-filled, per …

    TOM: So instead of argon, it’s just got air?

    TIM: Right.

    TOM: That’s not going to insulate. The reason to use those gases is because the gases are insulating gases. And I don’t buy at all the fact that the gases leak out; that’s just not true.

    LESLIE: The only way the gas will leak out is if you have a seal that fails.

    TOM: Yeah. These good-quality windows, these seals will last a long time. Twenty years is not unusual for these glass seals to last that long. So this sounds to me like you’re getting advice from a salesman that wants to move his product over another one. It’s not a given that this gas leaks out in a year. That’s ridiculous.

    I would buy a good-quality window from a name manufacturer, you know? Buy a Marvin, buy an Andersen, buy a Pella. Stick with a good name brand and you’re going to get a good-quality glass panel there that’s going to last a long, long time.

    TIM: OK. OK. I believe these were – Henredon, I think, was the brand of these?

    TOM: Yeah. There’s a lot of really small brands out there that are basically made for the remodeling industry and for the replacement-window industry.

    TIM: OK.

    LESLIE: And they’re just manufacturing a replacement window in their own brand. They’re just putting the whole thing together but there’s not a super manufacturer behind it that, should you have a problem down the road, would have your back.

    TOM: Yeah, I would look at the name brand and I would look at, also, at ENERGY STAR-certified windows.

    TIM: OK. I appreciate it.

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

    Learning something new every day, Leslie.

    LESLIE: An air void. I’ve never heard that term.

    TOM: That’s a new one. They turned un-insulated glass into something that sounds good.

    LESLIE: Right. It’s an air void.

    TOM: Oh, no. That’s an air void.

    LESLIE: You’re going to end up with an air void, anyway, at some point.

    TOM: Yes. And this window is insulation-free. So you’re not going to have to worry about any of that pesky insulation getting in the way of your view.

    LESLIE: Hey, if you get your hot water thanks to an electric water heater, you probably already know this: you’ve got the most expensive appliance in your home to heat that water that you love to use.

    TOM: Well, there’s a new water heater on the market that’s almost 300-percent more efficient and you might even be eligible for hundreds in rebates. We’re going to share those details, just ahead.

    Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And hey, now that Valentine’s Day is over with, why not keep that romance flowing with a potentially romantic home improvement, like new bedding? You can enter The Money Pit’s Good Night’s Sleep Sweepstakes, presented by Tuft & Needle, makers of the most comfortable on the internet.

    TOM: Yep. There’s over $4,000 in prizes, including your choice of a Tuft & Needle mattress. You can choose any size you want, plus pillows and sheets. Enter today at and you can even earn more chances to win by visiting Tuft & Needle’s website at or even sharing the sweeps online with friends.

    Enter today. It’s all at

    LESLIE: Chris in Arkansas is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?

    CHRIS: Well, I bought a house and it has two bathrooms. And the tile – sink and tubs are baby pink and baby blue.

    TOM: What’s wrong with that?

    CHRIS: Well, it’s not exactly what I had in mind. But I was wondering if you can successfully – until I get to redo the bathrooms, if you can successively paint over them without it looking terrible.

    LESLIE: Yes and no. I mean you can. There’s quite an extensive process to it to make sure that you get proper adhesion and it sticks very well. However, whenever you’re dealing with a painted surface and water is involved and areas that you have to clean, as well, you’re going to get some wear and tear. So I don’t think it’s the best idea.

    There are kits that you can buy online. Basically, if you want to do it without a kit – and of course, then you don’t want to paint the grout. But a lot of people do paint the grout and then that looks weird, also. So you’ve got to think about all these things. But you’re going to want to use a very, very durable oil-based primer. And of course, you’ve got to clean those tiles very, very well before you even think about putting a drop of primer on them.

    TOM: And I think Sherwin-Williams actually makes a primer that is super, super adhesive. And the reason I know about this is because the way they demo’d it was by painting it on tile and then putting a second layer of paint on it. But even though it’s a really adhesive paint, I agree with you completely that eventually – in a very short period of time, especially if you’re cleaning the surface – you’re going to start wearing through it.

    CHRIS: OK. And like I said, not knowing if I could or not, I just was thinking if I could buy myself some time and just paint it until I can redo – or maybe it’s sounding like I should just wait until I can redo.

    TOM: Well, the bad news about those old tile bathrooms is that they have these very traditional, 1960s-like colors. The good news is that the tile quality is usually really good and the way it’s installed is really solid. And that’s why, if at all possible, maybe you could think about decorating around this tile.

    So you said that you had – is it pink and blue?

    CHRIS: Yes.

    LESLIE: With the pink, I think we’re seeing such a big trend in pink really making a comeback in bathroom spaces. You could go overload on the pink, you can add in florals, you can add in different tones of pink. You can sort of tone in down with neutral beiges and grays and hints of gold and sort of make it glamorous and more girly. There are ways you can do that.

    Blue tile, I feel like, is just a poor choice. Blue tile is blue tile.

    CHRIS: I totally agree with you.

    LESLIE: Maybe everything else goes super clean. But I just feel like if you attempt to paint the tile, you’re going to be sad in the long run. And it’s going to – it will perhaps motivate you to do the permanent work more quickly.

    CHRIS: OK. Well, exactly that and that’s why I called. I just wasn’t sure if there was some miracle cure that I – “Hey, this works great” or not. And I am trying my best at decorating around but the pink, yes, has worked better than the blue.

    TOM: At least we solved half the problem, Christine.

    CHRIS: I appreciate it. I appreciate it so much.

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

    Well, electric water heaters are not an appliance that most folks choose. It’s pretty much what you’re stuck with if you own a home that does not have access to gas or even oil heat. And electric water heaters are very expensive to run. That’s why nobody chooses it. And they can really drive up your home’s utility costs.

    LESLIE: Well, there is some good news for all of those owners out there of electric water heaters. Rheem is out with a brand-new product called the Rheem Hybrid Water Heater.

    Now, this water heater is the smartest, quietest and most efficient water heater on the market. It features heat-pump technology, which makes it 282-percent more efficient than those standard electric water heaters. And that’s a big relief for those costly electric bills.

    TOM: Yep. And this hybrid water heater has an estimated energy-cost savings of up to $4,700 over 10 years. The heat-pump technology uses air temperature to heat the water, which makes it super efficient. It delivers up to about 475 bucks in energy-cost savings every year. And frankly, at that rate, it’s going to pay for itself in just two to three years.

    And there’s even areas of the country where utilities are offering hundreds of bucks in rebates you might be able to take advantage of.

    LESLIE: Now, besides being the most efficient water heater, it’s also the smartest. It even has a built-in leak-detection system and built-in Wi-Fi. So it can send alerts directly to you like those leaks are happening when you’re away.

    TOM: The Rheem Hybrid Water Heater is available at The Home Depot and You can also look up utility rebates in your area by visiting

    LESLIE: Head to Pennsylvania where Mike has a question about a bathtub. What can we help you with?

    MIKE: I have an old, steel tub that’s actually rusting out. And had a few quotes on having it refinished versus – you know, there’s companies out there that’ll put vinyl inserts and all. Or is it better just to have it ripped out and put a brand-new tub in?

    TOM: I would vote for having it ripped out and putting in a brand-new tub, because I don’t think that you’re going to be able to refinish it and be happy with that. Most of the refinishing – if it’s done professionally, it can be OK. But man, I’ll tell you what, it’s an awfully big project, it’s a very messy project. They have to use some pretty coarse chemicals to prep that tub and get it ready for the new finish. And then the new finishes are certainly not going to last as long as the original finish.

    So I think it’s probably a good option for either a new tub or you could do sort of a tub insert. There are companies out there that make inserts that fit inside the existing tub. Priced, not so coincidentally, just slightly less than tearing out the tub and starting from scratch.

    LESLIE: Right. But it’s done in a day.

    MIKE: Alright. I just – I appreciate that. Thanks for your time.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, does your oven temperature seem to be a little off? Well, if your culinary masterpieces are coming out half-baked, you might need to check your oven out. We’ll tell you what to look for, after this.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Post your home improvement or décor question, right now, to The Money Pit’s Community page at Or call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

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

    BELINDA: I live in this apartment. It’s a senior complex. It was an old school at one time. It’s three stories. It was completely gutted. Everything’s new on the inside. New double-pane windows. But I’m – it’s in the northeast-corner of the building and I’m having an awful lot of problems with drafts and then cold air coming from the walls, underneath the windows. Because it’s brick and stone on the outside and so there’s the air pocket and the inside wall. And so, at night it’s like living inside a refrigerator and try – really, really. And trying to …

    TOM: That does not sound very pleasant.

    BELINDA: It’s not. It’s not. I lay in bed at night and I don’t sleep. It’s because I’m just listening – and it’s the heat pump, too, that they put in these. And so it’s going all night long; it never shuts off. And so I’m just wondering if they would – or they probably could, if they would. Because the National Historic Association is also in on this, being it’s an old building.

    TOM: So you’re essentially wondering, Belinda, what you can do because you’re a tenant, right? So you don’t own the building.

    BELINDA: Right, right.

    TOM: You can’t replace the windows. So what are your options? So you have a couple of options.

    So, first of all, if you wanted to spend some money, you could order interior storm windows. But of course, your – it’d have to be custom-made to fit the windows and they may be pricey. If you want an inexpensive option, there’s two ways to go. One thing is you could use shrink film, which is basically a window film that gets, essentially, double face-taped to the inside trim and then you use a hair dryer to shrink it so it’s taut and clear.

    And the other thing that you can use is weather-stripping – caulk weather-stripping. Basically, it’s a temporary caulk product and it’s clear, like a silicone, but it’s not silicone. And you essentially caulk your windows shut with this temporary caulk. And then, in the spring, you can peel it right off. It comes off like in a rubbery strip.

    Now, the only thing bad about using the temporary caulk is that you will not be able to open or close the window once it’s done, because it’s pretty much sealed shut. So you don’t want to do this to your bedroom window where you may have to use it to get out in the event of an emergency.

    BELINDA: Actually, they pretty much tried all that. See, the problem is the National Historic Association won’t let them do a lot of stuff. And they hadn’t caulked around the cracks, where the frame of the windows meet the window sill and along the walls. So they came up, they did that.

    TOM: So let me say that again, Belinda. We’re not talking about caulking outside the window; we’re talking about caulking inside the window. So, basically, right around the sash, where the sash meets the sill, where the sash meets the jamb, those are the areas that you typically would not caulk, you would never caulk. But if you use the temporary weather-stripping caulk, you can caulk right over those seams where all of the air gets in. And then, again, in the spring, you grab a little end of it and you peel it and it comes off in one – usually one – solid piece.

    It works quite well. You may have to order it if you don’t find it on your store shelves. I know Red Devil makes one called Seal ‘N Peel. So you could look at – look up that brand.

    Belinda, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, have you ever wondered why you get such inconsistent results from your oven-baked culinary masterpieces? If you find out that your baked dishes just aren’t coming out right every single time, don’t blame the chef. Maybe I should start using this around my house and I went to culinary school. “Hey, guys, it wasn’t me. It’s the oven. Totally the oven.”

    TOM: “It was the oven.”

    LESLIE: But really, you know, it’s possible that your oven’s built-in thermostat isn’t working exactly the way it should be.

    TOM: And it’s really surprising how inaccurate some of those thermostats can be. So it’s a good idea to check yours at home.

    Now, I used to test this all the time in the 20-plus years I spent as a home inspector. And what we would do is we would put an oven thermometer – and the glass-bulb kinds are the best ones – in the oven and heat it up to 350. And it’s best to let it sit there for a while. You want it to cycle on and off at least two or three times before you read it. This way, you’re going to get a really accurate reading.

    And then once you open the door, you’re going to read it pretty quickly. If it doesn’t reflect the temperature that you set on the dial, then you know right away something isn’t right.

    LESLIE: So, what exactly could be wrong? Now, there are several possibilities. Over time, the rubber gasket around the oven door itself, it can become torn or stretched out of shape or even just simply deformed. Now, that’s going to cause heat to escape from the oven. So, first, inspect the gaskets to make sure that they’re in good condition and they’re still doing their job. If not, replace those.

    TOM: Now, the other way heat can escape from your oven and kind of mess with the temperature is if the oven door isn’t closing properly. The oven door needs to close evenly and form a really nice, tight seal. If it doesn’t, you want to check for broken or bent door hinges or door springs. Listen, if you’ve got kids, man, I hate this but they open the door and sometimes try to stand on it. That’s why you always have to have the anti-tilt brackets on these things. But they can all ruin the oven’s ability to hold its temperature.

    The good news is they can all be replaced and some of the replacements are pretty inexpensive. And this way, you’re going to become a much better cook in the process. If you get that oven to hold that temperature steady, all the recipes will magically start to work out.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right.

    TOM: Folks will wonder, “What happened? Why is all of your baking perfect now? All the cakes, all the pies, all the roasts never have an issue. Never overcooked, never undercooked. It’s just better.” So don’t tell them that you fixed the thermostat, right? Just sort of take credit for …

    LESLIE: I tell you, Tom, with my boys, Henry never did anything with the oven but Charlie, I would turn the corner and he’d be in the warming drawer at least once a week.

    TOM: Crazy.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you tired of those same boring cabinets? Well, dress them up with fabric. We’re going to tell you how, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, what are you working on? We are here to help. Call us at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    Hey, are you ready for a basement makeover you can enjoy all year long? HomeAdvisor can instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.

    LESLIE: Alright. But looking for a pro right at this moment? You’ve got two of them right here with Tom and myself. And everybody loves to post their questions online and we’re going to grab one there that George posted. Now, George writes: “Does it ever make sense to make a two-story house a one-story home? We like our location but we don’t need the room anymore. We need a new roof, so this feels like the right time to make this big change if we’re going to do it.”

    I mean that’s a massive undertaking, not to mention, I think, weird.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. People are going to really wonder what happened to your house.

    Listen, I know – I get that you love the neighborhood, George, but believe me, it is not worth taking that house down to half its size. Why would you kill its value like that? Structurally, you could do it but you’re going to really hurt its value. If you’re concerned about your ability to use the house as you grow older, there’s a lot less expensive ways than cutting the value by tearing it down.

    There’s actually a class of contractor called a “certified aging-in-place specialist.” These are folks that are specially trained to make the house accessible, which does not mean making it kind of hospital-esque. There are so many great manufacturers out there today that have beautiful trim and furnishings and hardware that’s just easier to use if you have limited physical abilities. And it doesn’t look like a stainless-steel kind of hospital physical-therapy studio. And so I would tell you to look at improvements like that and forget this idea of taking down the second floor of the house.

    Well, if you’re tired of old cabinets or furniture but you don’t have the budget to replace them, you can totally change the look with some decorative fabric panels. It’s not a hard project and Leslie is going to tell you how. She’s got the step-by-step in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    So, Leslie, how do we get this project done?

    LESLIE: This is really a project I’ve done in my lower-budget home makeover TV shows because you want to change the look of the cabinets. Painting cabinets in a short amount of time isn’t always ideal because the prep work is super important and you want to make sure paint sticks. But you can change the look of a cabinet-door face or even the drawer fronts by adding a panel that’s covered either in fabric or wallpaper.

    Now, the easiest way to do that is to get a rigid hardboard, whether it’s a ¼-inch luan, something that’ll hold its shape. You don’t want to use foam core or paper; you want something that’s a lumber material. So I always go with hardboard or luan. And then decide how much of that door front and drawer front you want to cover. Are you going to see an inch around of the existing door frame – of the existing cabinet door, rather – or the drawer? So decide what that is and then have all of those pieces cut to size.

    And then, simply, cover it with your fabric or your wallpaper. And either use a very thin staple on the backside, if you’re using fabric, or a good double-stick adhesive if you’re using wallpaper. And then go ahead and attach those to the cabinet and door fronts with a little finishing nail or a crown stapler, something like that that doesn’t go all the way through the door, so it’s not going to poke you any time you’re going into those cabinets. And it really does a great job of just updating that look. It really will buy you so much more time in that kitchen without spending a ton of money at this point. You know what I’m saying? And you could love it, you know?

    TOM: Sounds like a great weekend project.

    Coming up next time on the program, if the sight of a crack in your home’s foundation kind of is sending a shiver of fear up your spine, not to worry. Not all cracks need to be so terrifying. And we’re going to help you sort out the simple from the serious, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (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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