Prevent Frozen Pipe Breaks | Space Saving Bathrooms | Removing Wallpaper

  • Frozen Burst Water Pipe
  • 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’re here to help you take on your home improvement projects, get those décor projects done. If you’ve got a décor dilemma, a DIY dilemma, don’t know where to start, don’t know what you need, whether you can do it yourself or need to get help, we can help with all of those questions. Help yourself first, though, by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question on

    Coming up on today’s show, temperatures are dropping quickly. So, a question: are your home’s water lines ready to stand up to that freezing weather? If you have ever had a frozen pipe – or worse, a pipe break – now is the time to take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen this winter. We’re going to tell you some tips that you can follow to make sure your pipes keep the flow and not – and don’t explode once they freeze and break. Because I tell you, it’s a really tough one to repair once that happens.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, is your home suffering from old, worn and dated wallpaper? Well, removing it is not as hard as you might think. Alright, it’s kind of hard but it’s definitely worth it. But we’re going to have some steps to make it quicker and easier, including tricks that make the next coat of paint or wallpaper going on that much easier to apply.

    TOM: Plus, one of the most popular projects for this time of year is bath remodeling. Everybody wants it done, you know, before the end of the year, before we have friends and family over around Christmas and New Year’s and all the other holidays. So we’re going to give you some step-by-step advice for DIYers and pros to get that job done quickly.

    LESLIE: Plus, it’s winter season and that means fire season. Do you have all the gear that you need to protect your home? Well, you might not if you’re missing a kitchen fire extinguisher.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. And that’s because kitchen extinguishers are special and they’re designed specifically to handle grease and electrical fires, which are more common to that space and certainly a bigger risk now with all the holiday cooking going on. So we’re going to give away a kitchen fire extinguisher, along with a whole host of products from our friends at First Alert, to one lucky listener drawn at random.

    So, if you want it to be you, you’ve got to pick up the phone and call us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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

    LESLIE: Robert in Alaska is on the line with a crawlspace situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROBERT: Basically, what I’ve got going on is we had a lot of rain this summer, so I had water kind of penetrate the foundation. And I was wondering if there is anything I could do from the inside to maybe stop some of that penetration from coming in and getting on the wood that’s holding up the, I guess, the floor.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Now, are you talking about concrete-block walls?

    ROBERT: Yes.

    TOM: OK. So, a couple of things. First of all, we want to make sure that you are doing what you can to slow the collection of water from outside moving inside. So that means looking at your gutter system, making sure you have gutters and that they’re diverting water away from the house, not just a couple of feet from the foundation but well away. And make sure that the angle of the soil around the foundation slopes away. And that will do a lot to move the water away from that backfill zone.

    Inside the crawlspace, you can add a vapor barrier to the soil and that will stop moisture from evaporating up. And on the blocks themselves, you can apply a product called Ames’ Blue Max, which is a rubber paint. It’s very stretchable and it adheres really well. And when you apply it to the block, it stops any moisture from coming through the block. Ames is spelled A-m-e-s and the product is called Blue Max. You can search for it online. Their website is

    ROBERT: OK. Good deal. Yeah, I’ve got a company coming in to, I guess, dig the outside of the foundation and lay some drainage this spring – this coming spring – so …

    TOM: OK. Well, let me stop you right there, OK? Because that’s not likely going to help you and it’s not necessary.

    ROBERT: Oh, OK.

    TOM: If that moisture is consistent with rainfall – in other words, you get a lot of rain, like you mentioned, and then you get leakage – then putting all those drainage pipes and disturbing all that soil is really not the way to go. If you improve your gutter system and you improve the grading – the angle of the soil around the foundation perimeter – that stops the majority of that surface water from getting in.


    TOM: The only time we recommend drainage systems, like what you’re describing, is when you have a rising water table which, if you did, you wouldn’t be getting leakage that’s consistent with rainfall.

    ROBERT: Ah, OK. Well, good. That’s important to know then.

    TOM: Yep. So now there you go; saved you a bunch of money.

    ROBERT: Oh, yes, you did.

    TOM: You’ve got it, Robert. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Christine from Ohio on the line and I think she’s got a lot of questions for us here at The Money Pit. How can we help you?

    CHRISTINE: So my first question is about the garage insulation. Our plans call for an uninsulated garage and we got some estimates on spray foam. And so I had them give me an estimate on the garage. I was wondering how much of an investment should we put on the insulation in the garage or is it worth it at all?

    TOM: So, is this new construction, Christine?

    CHRISTINE: Yes. Yep.

    TOM: OK. So, garages don’t have to be insulated by building code. Usually, the only part of the garage that would naturally be insulated would be the wall between the garage and the house.

    This is an attached garage?

    CHRISTINE: Detached.

    TOM: Oh, detached. OK. So then it would have no insulation. So, the only reason to insulate this is if you, in the future, decide that you’re going to want to heat that space. And if it is a detached garage, that may very well be the case. And it’s never going to be easier than it is right now to insulate that space.

    In terms of the insulation choice, since it is new construction, I would definitely recommend that you use spray-foam insulation because it’s very effective compared – much more effective than fiberglass. It also stops any drafts that are going through the walls.


    TOM: So, my two cents would be – I would definitely insulate that garage and I would do it with spray foam before it’s all finished off. Because this way, you’ll be good to go.

    Now, on the inside of that garage, if you’re going to put spray foam on those walls, you’re also going to need to cover them. So, think about that. You don’t want to leave that spray foam exposed, because it’ll just get beat up over time.

    CHRISTINE: Right.

    TOM: So you could put on any type of wallboard. I would maybe lean towards fiberglass wallboard. It looks like drywall but it’s a little bit harder and it doesn’t grow mold, because it’s outside.

    CHRISTINE: Oh, OK. And in the crawlspace of the house, where we have the addition, we were going to get spray foam. Should we just get it on the joists or should it go all the way down the cinderblock?

    TOM: Well, typically, it definitely goes on the underside of the floor joists and most importantly, at the box beam, which is the outside – right above that foundation. But the foam would not go down below that. If you do want to insulate the crawlspace walls, there’s a different type of a sort of a fiberglass batting that’s used for that, that’s contained inside of a wrap. It usually has a foil face. And that’s going to work better for that small section of fiberglass – of, excuse me, foundation wall.

    CHRISTINE: OK, great. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome, Christine. Very exciting. You’re getting a new house and we’re glad that we were able to help you make the right decisions for it.

    LESLIE: Yeah, good luck with that.

    CHRISTINE: Yes. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call with your décor or your home improvement questions now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to

    TOM: And just ahead, can your plumbing pipes survive the cold? We’re going to give you some easy, inexpensive ways to keep them from freezing and breaking, after this.

    Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We’d love to hear from you right now. Just pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement questions.

    And 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online for free.

    And you know what else you can get for free? Well, if you give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, you might just win the First Alert Home Safety Kit. We’re giving one away and it includes a kitchen fire extinguisher, which is easy to use and designed specifically to fight the flammable liquid and electrical fires you would find in the kitchen. That package is worth 145 bucks. It includes a smoke detector, carbon-monoxide detector, combo alarm, a whole bunch of stuff.

    And I love the fact that these alarms now, Leslie, they’ve got 10-year batteries. So you don’t have to change them every year like when you change the clocks, right? Ten years and you’re good to go.

    So, it’s going out to one caller drawn at random. One listener. Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now I’ve got Roland on the line. What’s going on at your money pit?

    ROLAND: I have got a huge master bedroom with synthetic-marble plates and all. And it’s always just had mold around the very bottom of the seams. I have to cut it out about every six to nine months and replace it. It’s driving me crazy. All the mold products you buy, caulkings say 10 years. I’ve found any that last more than a year. Can you give me an alternative plan for this? I’ve been doing this since ‘05.

    TOM: Wow. So, this marble is around what again?

    ROLAND: The very bottom, between the horizontal sheets that come down. It’s like the last three feet in the corners and then where the base of the shower meets the walls.

    TOM: Alright. So, a couple of things come to mind.

    First of all, when you have a big mold problem, you have to be extra careful with the ventilation in the space. What kind of bath ventilation do you have right now?

    ROLAND: I think it’s like 700 CFM fan in the – above it.

    TOM: And do you use this fan, you know, religiously when you take showers, to keep the moisture out of the space?

    ROLAND: I do.

    TOM: OK.

    ROLAND: I just – I’m trying to think. And then there’s another fan, right outside of it, for the bathroom.

    TOM: Well, that’s what I’m talking about. See, what I’m going to recommend you do is look at your bath ventilation and make sure that you upgrade that bathroom fan. And you can find one that’s on a humidistat or on a timer so that it’s basically running anytime there’s high humidity in that space. If you were to reduce the amount of humidity that’s in that space all the time, you’re going to get far less mold growth. So that’s one thing. And make sure, of course, that wherever that vents it’s outside your house.

    ROLAND: Yeah. I’ve never had a problem from chest-high up. It’s always waist-high and below.

    TOM: Well, that’s because the lower parts of that slab, it’s going to be colder than what’s up higher. And so you’re going to get more condensation and more saturation lower down on the wall than you are higher up on the wall. So that’s the reason you’re seeing it at the bottom. That’s pretty common.

    Now, the next thing is you want to make sure that when you do caulk this that, first of all, you take steps to remove all of the old caulk. And there’s a product that’s kind of like a paint stripper but it’s for caulk. It’s called a “caulk softener.” And when you apply this stuff, you’ll be able to get all the old caulk softened up and be able to get it all completely removed.

    And then, before you put new caulk on, what I want you to do is to take a very strong – like a 50/50 bleach-and-water solution and then spray all of those joints down so that we kill any mildew or mold that’s behind that slab area. And let it sit there for a good half-hour and then make sure it’s wiped off and dries really well.

    And then, when you apply the new caulk I want you to look for caulk that has Microban in it. And probably silicone caulk with Microban. Because silicone is much less likely to grow mold and the Microban is an additive that I know, personally, to be very effective in stopping mold. So I think it’s a combination of reducing the humid conditions in that space. Even people that use bath fans always turn them off when they leave the room. And of course, the room stays damp for quite a long time. So if you have one that’s on …

    LESLIE: It even gets more condensation, because the door’s open.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. So if you were to have one that’s on a humidistat, then it’s going to run as long as it has to to dry that space out. And then do a good, proper caulking job, making sure to kill anything that’s been left behind. And I think that you’ll see a big difference if you take those steps.

    ROLAND: OK. I may do – I may – I actually thought about pulling a small vent fan through the wall, into the bedroom, so that anytime the shower was on it would ventilate around through the walls and just try to remove that, too. But I didn’t.

    TOM: Yeah, I don’t think you have to go above and beyond what we’ve suggested here. I think the combination of these few things is going to do it for you.

    ROLAND: Alright. Fantastic. I’ve been using the Microban but I will try to, before I recaulk it this time, take those extra measures. And I thank you so much.

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

    Well, anybody who’s dealt with them can tell you frozen pipes are one big, expensive headache. The good news is, though, there are a few things you can do to stop them from freezing in the first place.

    LESLIE: Yeah. On those super-duper cold nights, you guys, why don’t you open the door to any of those under-sink cabinets along the exterior walls of your house? Yeah. And this is most often where your kitchen sink lives, so you want to let that warm air in. And that’s going to prevent it from becoming a freezer, which can then lead to those frozen water lines.

    TOM: Now, you also want to bundle up pipes, just like you do with a winter coat. I recommend you wrap insulation around the pipes if they’re in an unheated crawlspace, in an attic or in a basement. You can use foam tubes, you can use fiberglass tubes, you can use fiberglass wrap, pipe wrap. Whatever you do, insulate them because that is going to stop them from freezing in the first place.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Those crawlspace and basement drafts can actually freeze those uninsulated pipes in just a matter of a few hours. So it can happen far more quickly than you think.

    Now, once you find those drafts, you want to consider using an expanding foam sealant. And that’s going to seal everything off and cut those drafts out.

    TOM: Now, finally, keep all your heat above 55 degrees all winter long, even if you’re not home, even if you’ve turned your water off, which we hope you do if you’re leaving in the winter. But if you shut off the lower, unused heating zones, that can cause water and heating lines to freeze up in the walls and the ceilings.

    So, a few things to do to keep the water flowing through those pipes and stop those frozen pipes from breaking. Because you know what happens when they thaw? You flood your house. It’s not pretty. So, don’t skip that step.

    LESLIE: Next up, our caller has a great name. We’ve got Leslie on the line who’s got a question about cutting down a door.

    Welcome, Leslie.

    LESLIE (CALLER): We have one door that I need to cut down. Goes into the basement.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE (CALLER): It’s also a six-panel, solid-core oak door.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE (CALLER): When we went to cut it off, there seems to be staples or some kind of small metal pieces inside the – there’s about 8 inches that go across the bottom. We were cutting that off or a portion of it ­– 6 inches of it. And it’s totally ruined a saw blade.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE (CALLER): Do you have any suggestions as how to cut off a solid-core door?

    TOM: Yeah, having the staples inside of that is not unusual. Depends on how – they might have been used in the manufacturing process. I’ll be willing to bet that you used a non-carbide saw blade, because had you used a carbide saw blade, it would have probably cut through the metal and all.

    LESLIE (CALLER): OK. So just use a carbide.

    TOM: Use a carbide blade and safety glasses and not a great carbide blade, because it will ruin the blade. But generally, it’ll cut right through something like that.

    LESLIE (CALLER): Alright. Thank you so much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Rich in Illinois is on the line and working on a concrete project. How can we help you today?

    RICH: Well, I’ll tell you what, we’ve had a new house built for us and because it was in a flood zone, we decided to have the house built on 9-foot poured concrete walls. Now, originally what we thought was going to happen is they were going to be concrete-slab walls and we were going to wrap a nice façade river rock around the whole bottom.

    TOM: OK.

    RICH: This is out in the country, in a forest setting on a lake and it’s got nice cedar siding. And when they poured the concrete, they poured it in forms, rather than being a slab, that looked like bricks.

    TOM: OK.

    RICH: And we ended up looking at it and thinking, “You know, we kind of like the look of this – these forms left.” Instead of spending a lot of money to wrap it in river rock, we were thinking about leaving it. And then somebody came by and said there’s a technique that you can use to paint this brick-like concrete so it actually looks a lot like brick. And I’d never heard of that. And they said they had seen it but they didn’t know how it was done. I was wondering if you guys knew anything about that.

    TOM: So, Rich, this is a poured concrete wall that has a brick pattern but of course, it looks like gray concrete, so we’re not fooling anybody into thinking it’s real brick, correct?

    RICH: Right.

    TOM: So, there is a way to add color.

    I would suggest acid staining, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And there’s several manufacturers that do make an acid-staining product. And it’s – it really is a chemical reaction done onto the surface of the concrete that causes the concrete to truly change its color; it’s not something that’s applied to it. There’s an etching process and then the coloration process.

    QUIKRETE makes them. If you look up online, you’ll find a ton of different manufacturers that do also make them. And if you get a little creative, you can mix and match and give it the depth and texture of an aged brick. I would recommend working on an area behind a bush or somewhere on the back side of the house until you get comfortable with your technique and the coloration, so you know what you’re going to get.

    RICH: Right. OK. Fantastic. Thank you.

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

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

    TOM: And still ahead, is wallpaper the only thing standing between you and your dream room? We’re going to have tips for easy removal, when The Money Pit returns.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are presented by Never worry about overpaying for a job. Just use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others paid for similar projects. That’s all for free at

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Joyce in Illinois who’s having a flooring issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOYCE: Well, a few years ago, I put down a new kitchen floor – Congoleum DuraCeramic kitchen floor. And it has all these marks and things on it that I had a guy come out and look at it and he said it was a problem from the factory. And I thought they were going to replace it and they never did replace it for me. And I was just wondering, what do I put down? I have home day care and I was wondering what I could put down to stand up to my home day care and still look nice?

    TOM: Laminate works really well and it’s gotten less expensive. It’s easier to install.

    Laminate floor is – can look like vinyl, it can look like stone, it can look like wood. It can look like anything. And it’s basically made of a medium-density fiberboard and then a color layer, which has the pattern of the stone or whatever it is on it. And then the laminate is on top of that. So, basically, it’s a sandwich.

    And while people are comparing – would compare laminates to, say, a laminate countertop, like a Formica, a laminate floor is actually about 100 times more durable because they put more protection on it. Yeah, I’ve had a laminate floor down in my house, which is a very old house, for about 10 years. And it looks as good as the day we put it down, so I know it stands up well.

    JOYCE: Well, I know I have day care and the kids are throwing toys around and everything else.

    TOM: Sure. Absolutely.

    JOYCE: Yeah.

    TOM: Kids, dogs, toys, furniture. Yeah, I would take a look at laminates. Tough stuff and easy to clean.

    JOYCE: OK. OK.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve been staring at some old, worn-out wallpaper but you’re putting off removing it because of the hassle, we get it. Trying to separate that wallpaper from the wall requires hard work, patience and persistence. And around this time of year, we’re all short on all of those things. But if you understand the options for removing it, you can actually save some time, energy, even some hassle in your quest to make that paper disappear. And there are really four steps that you’ve got to follow.

    TOM: Yeah. First off, you’ve got to score the wallpaper. When we say score, we mean cut it.

    LESLIE: Wallpaper one, homeowner zero.

    TOM: Exactly. Yeah, right.

    Use a utility knife, a wallpaper scorer, which is a very cool tool. I think it’s called a “paper tiger,” one of the ones I’m familiar with. And you run it over the wall and it creates really small holes or really thin slits in the paper. And the reason you’re doing that is because it allows steam, which we’ll get to in a moment, to get through to the adhesive base and loosen it up.

    Now, keep in mind the closer and more abundant those scored holes and slices are, the smaller the pieces of paper that are pulled off. So if you prefer to remove wallpaper in larger sheets, then score less.

    Now, as to the steam, clearly, absolutely, the number-one easiest way for you to remove wallpaper is by renting a steamer. Totally worth the cost and the hassle. You can work from the top down. That steam gets into that wallpaper. It melts away the glue that’s holding it up. And then you can peel it off one section at a time.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, here’s the other trick: you’ve got to add solution. If that wallpaper is just resisting removal, you want to mix hot water and fabric softener, equal parts one to one. And then pour that solution into a spray bottle and apply to those tough-to-remove spaces. You’ve got to work quickly, because that solution is going to lose its effectiveness after about 15 minutes.

    Now, once you do get that wallpaper off, you have to prep the wall and you have to prep the wall really well. You want to use a mixture of distilled white vinegar and water. And that’s going to help you remove any remaining glue. Now, you’ve got to wait until that surface is completely dry. And once it is, you want to apply primer. And you’ll do that whether you’re putting up more wallpaper or you’re painting. So, primer first. Let it dry really well and then go ahead and finish off with whatever that desired look is, because that’s going to give you the best surface.

    Now, if this all seems like way too much work, you may be wondering: is painting or wallpapering over existing wallpaper an option? Our answer is sure, it’s an option but we don’t necessarily recommend it. Because if you paint over wallpaper, that kind of jeopardizes the integrity of the space, which could factor into a buyer’s interest and even the value of the home down the road. And even more, it makes the next paint- or wallpaper-removal job way more difficult.

    So, if you’re not happy with the paper, do it now. Spend the time. Get the steamer. Pull it off now. Don’t put it off. Don’t paint over it. You’ll be much happier in the long run.

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

    Just ahead, one of the most popular projects for this time of year is bath remodeling. Everybody wants it done and they want it done now, right before the holidays. So we’re going to have some step-by-step advice for DIYers out there and the pros to help get that job done, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz, 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: Hey, did you know that cooking fires are the primary cause of home fires and home fire injuries? Well, even if you didn’t, you should know. And you ought to have a kitchen fire extinguisher in that kitchen to protect you. If you don’t, no problem; we’ve got one to give away.

    We’re giving away the First Alert Home Safety Kit, which includes their kitchen fire extinguisher. It is small enough to fit in a cabinet or mount on a wall using a bracket. Very attractive. Designed to meet those demanding needs. Easy to operate. It is part of the First Alert Home Safety Kit, which is valued at 145 bucks. It also includes the smoke, carbon-monoxide and combo alarms, all with 10-year batteries. So we’re going to basically step up your home safety in a pretty big way if you win this product.

    The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Wade in South Dakota is on the line and has a question about siding. How can we help you?

    WADE: Hi. We had a big hailstorm come through and it took out a bunch of our siding – our steel siding. And I’m kind of fighting with the insurance company to find an exact match. My question, I guess, is – the house is close to 20 years old. What are the chances that the siding that they pick is going to match up with the color?

    TOM: Between little and none.

    WADE: That’s kind of what I figured.

    TOM: And listen, Wade, when – this is not a new argument with insurance companies. It happens all the time with roof damage, you know?

    Like say you get ice-dam damage and you have to just replace like 3 feet of roof on the front of the house or maybe you get leaks around a vent or something and you have to replace a piece of roof. Insurance companies traditionally replace the entire roof. And in your case, they should be replacing all of your siding, without argument, because they’ve got to restore it at least as good as it was before. And giving you mismatched siding isn’t what you contracted them to do.

    So I would stick to your guns. And sure, give them the opportunity to find a replacement but they won’t be able to. And you don’t have to accept it and you can insist that it all be replaced with brand-new siding.

    Do you have a private adjustor on this to help you with the claim?

    WADE: Somebody that the insurance company contacted, yes.

    TOM: That adjustor is working for the insurance company. What you want to do is get a public adjustor. And a public adjustor works for you, the public. And they work on commission, so it doesn’t really cost you much to have these guys on the job. And they’re there to find every single, solitary thing that they can claim for and get that into the claim.

    So, everything from picking up the nails on your property that will be part of that construction project, to getting the whole house re-sided. They try to get that claim as full as possible because the more they find, the more money they make. Because they’re all on commission.

    So I would definitely find a good-quality public adjustor. Perhaps check with your attorney. Do your research. Find somebody that has a lot of experience and let them fight for you so you don’t have to fight with the insurance company.

    WADE: Great. I’ll definitely look into that. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Well, bathroom remodeling is one of the most popular projects for this time of year, because everybody wants it done before the holidays. Now, the biggest challenge is that it can be complicated and costly to get it done, not to mention inconvenient, especially if it’s the only bathroom in the house.

    TOM: Well, fortunately, you don’t need to tear into walls or totally completely reconfigure plumbing to get great results. We’ve got some tips for how to make small-scale changes and additions to your bathroom to create the kind of space you really need, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz.

    LESLIE: Yep. First of all, let’s talk about a few ways that you can increase the space in your bathroom. First of all, think about a corner sink. I know they’re kind of out of the ordinary but they can make your bathroom get a lot of space that was previously occupied by a vanity. They’re pedestal style. There’s wall-mounted. That corner sink is going to give you some functional charm and again, free up a lot of that floor space.

    Now, another option is to add a cabinet-mounted vessel sink. Now, these sinks are mounted on top of a scaled-down cabinet or even a less traditional type of furnishing, like maybe a small, antique dresser. And that can deliver a lot of style and a little bit of storage in that bathroom. So it’s providing double-duty, which is great in a small space.

    TOM: Now, next, if you’re thinking about changing out your toilet, maybe get one that has a WaterSense rating, so it uses less water. Look for one that’s got a flat tank top. This is going to give you another storage spot. So whether you place an organizer directly on top of it or maybe you take advantage of the wall space above it, for hanging a cabinet or for shelving, it’s definitely going to make sense and it’s going to save you some space.

    Next, consider adding a curved-quadrant shower unit. Now, you might be thinking, “What the heck is a curved quadrant?” Well, these are the shower units that have two straight sides and they’re mounted into a corner and then a curved entry. And that basically saves at least a square foot or two of space, compared with traditional units.

    LESLIE: Now, if you’ve got to have a tub, take a look at ones that are smaller but deeper. These are going to offer a great soak with a deep-set seating. There’s even small, clawfoot tubs that are an option. And modern fixtures that are inspired by traditional Japanese tubs are also becoming pretty popular.

    Of course, getting rid of that old tub and bringing home a new one from the home center is a project that requires a big truck or van. But it’s easy to rent one for the day from Hertz, who has a wide variety of both.

    Now, lastly, use lower-profile faucets and fixtures. You’re going to find that visual space will open up once you select that low-profile fixture. And while the range of styles available allows you to beautifully accessorize a small bath, you’re going to notice that extra space. It’s those little things that really do make a big difference.

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

    LESLIE: Cindy in Illinois is on the line with a basement question. What’s going on?

    CINDY: I lived in my home for over 40 years and had no trouble with water in the basement. And then, about 3 years ago, we had a terrible drought here and it seems like ever since then, if we get a hard rain, I end up with water coming up through the floor of the basement.

    TOM: So, the reason you’re getting water that comes up through the floor of the basement in a hard rain is because there’s some defect in your drainage conditions outside the house. So, you need to start by looking at the roof and making sure your gutter system is clean and making sure the downspouts are extended away from the house. It should be out 3 or 4 feet.

    If that’s all in good shape, then I would take a look at the angle of the dirt around the house, the grade. If it’s really flat or if there’s an area where it’s tilting in or you’re getting neighboring water from runoff from a different lot or something of that nature, you’ve got to regrade to keep the water away from the house.

    The only way it’s getting down there is it’s coming from the top and pushing under. It’s not a rising water table, because that takes months to happen. If it’s reactive to the rain, then it’s a problem with drainage, Cindy. So you need to look carefully in that area and I’m certain you’ll find the cause of it and be able to stop it.

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

    LESLIE: Give us a call anytime with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re going to help you get in tip-top shape for the holidays right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Still ahead, is your garage so full that it hardly fits your car? We’re going to have some tips on making the most of garage space, including an important caution when it comes to storing kids’ stuff – like bikes, balls and games – after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Presented by Hey, you’ll never have to worry about overpaying for a job. Just use HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide to see what others paid for similar projects. Then get matched with top-rated pros, read reviews and get quotes and book appointments, all online, for free at

    LESLIE: And remember, you can reach Tom and I anytime on our website or at Facebook’s Money Pit page. And you can post your questions there.

    Now, Sean writes: “I’ve decided I’d like to start parking my car inside the garage.”

    TOM: What a concept.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s a novel concept.

    “Do you have any tips for organizing and storing all the stuff that’s parked in there right now?”

    TOM: You know, garage storage is something that really has to be set up once and then maintained daily by all members of the family. So it requires sort of a family commitment. But I think the key should be safety. Because if you think about it, the garage is the only place where you have toys and toxins right in the same room. So you’ve got to be first careful to make sure you keep that stuff separate.

    So, for toxins, we’re talking about the paint, the oil, the cans of fuel, the cans of lubricant. All that sort of stuff ought to up high, locked away in cabinets so that the kids can’t get their hands on it.

    And also, from a safety perspective, you do want to keep stuff off the ground. So, if that means a ladder, that needs to be hung up on the wall. If it means all the kids’ bats and balls, you’ve got to hang maybe a net – what do you call those net cargo things, Leslie?

    LESLIE: I mean that’s exactly what it is. They’re almost like a hammock.

    TOM: It’s called a “net cargo thing?” Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s like a …

    TOM: It’s like a – right, it’s like a hammock, yeah.

    And that’s an easy thing to do because you get two hooks, you sling the hammock up there and you throw all the balls in there and they’re off the floor. Because you can go into the space at night. Shorter days now. You could trip, you could fall. You really want to think about safety and organization. But the bottom line is you’ve got to get everybody to sort of buy into it. Because if not, it’s all going to fall apart very, very quickly.

    LESLIE: Oh. And it does. I feel like it falls apart every time the kids go in there and take something out. So I’m constantly doing an upkeep of the garage.

    I also like to rotate things seasonally, put the stuff that we’re using more frequently to the front and the stuff we’re not using towards the back. You’ve got to really think about the ways that you can use the space so it keeps everybody safe and also sort of intuitively keeps everybody organized. That’s the tricky part.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got one here from Ray. Now, Ray writes: “How do you heat and convert an attached garage to a year-round living space for older people who like it warmer in the winter and cool in the summer?”

    TOM: Well, first of all, I’ve seen a lot of garage conversions, especially in the 20 years that I spent as a home inspector, and I’ve rarely seen them done well. People always take shortcuts with these things. And if you’re going to convert a garage to living space, you pretty much have to treat it just like an addition. That means it’s got to include removing the overhead door, you’ve got to reframe the opening, you’ve got to add siding from the outside. You need to build up the foundation so that it’s level across the front, just like the foundation on the rest of your house.

    You’re also going to need to deal with the floor, because garage floors are sloped, right? So, since this garage floor slopes, it’s going to have to be repoured so that it’s flat. And then, of course, once all that’s done you can think about the mechanicals. Think about the rough mechanicals, including the heating of the garage. It is not likely, Ray, that your home’s existing system is going to be able to step up to add enough heat to that garage.

    So, if you’re going to take this on, you’ve got to do it right and you’ve got to pretty much treat it like it’s an addition to your house. Because only then will you not detract from your home value and end up with a space that is truly livable.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. We hope that you are having a really good day. We appreciate you taking part of that to listen to us. If you’re out and about shopping for the holiday or if you’re doing some last-minute fix-ups, whatever is on your to-do list, it can always be slid over to ours when you call us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we will call you the next time we are. And remember, you can always post your question online at

    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 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.)