Preventing Summer Storm Floods #0821172

  • Heavy Rainstorm
  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And what are you working on this beautiful summer weekend? If it’s your house, well, you’re in exactly the right place because we’re your labor team. We’re here to help you get the job done.

    LESLIE: I want to say that we’re your virtual labor team. Let’s not confuse (inaudible at 0:00:51).

    TOM: We’re your virtual contractors. That’s true, virtual. Because we can’t come there and with a paintbrush in hand, although we’d very much like to. We love doing that. But we can answer your questions. So if you’ve got a challenge that you’re trying to tackle, if you’ve got a surface to paint and the paint just won’t stick, maybe the stains keep coming through, maybe you’ve kind of had it with your existing deck and you want some advice on building a new one so you can have it good to go for next summer, maybe you’re thinking ahead – you’re a planner – and you’re thinking, “Man, I know it’s hot now but pretty soon, I’m going to be spending a lot of money on my energy bills,” we can give you some advice to help you cut those energy bills. Whatever is on your to-do list, let’s add it to our to-do list. But help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question to’s Community page.

    Coming up on today’s show, have you ever noticed that storms in late summer and early fall can be the worst? Well, that’s why now is the best time to make sure your house is storm-ready, including making sure your sump pump is good to handle that wet weather. We’ll have tips, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, if you love the look of real hardwood floors but you don’t have the budget to manage it, engineered hardwood might be a perfect solution for you. We’re going to explain why, in just a bit.

    TOM: Plus, your carpet’s looking a bit dingy? Well, instead of replacing them, a cleaning can help you get a few more years of use by removing the number-one item that shortens carpet life. We’ll tell you what that is and answer your questions to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Steve in Kansas, you’ve got The Money Pit and you want to talk about a leaky roof. How can we help you out today?

    STEVE: Well, we live in a house that was built in 1937. And sometime after the original house was built, there was an addition put on one end of the house that’s – the house is a two-story house but the addition is single-story. Where the roof ties into the wall – when we get a hard rain with a lot of wind, which we tend to do in Kansas once in a while, we get water that comes in and it leaks out – drips from the ceiling in that addition.

    And we have a wood-burning fireplace. The chimney is made out of brick and I have caulked every place I can caulk. I’ve put sealer, I’ve had a new roof put on the addition and we still get water in there whenever it rains really hard. And I don’t know where it’s coming from.

    TOM: Well, it’s the flashing, obviously. So you say this is between the roof and the addition?

    STEVE: Between the wall of the house and the addition.

    TOM: The problem here is the flashing and unfortunately, sometimes when this is done, even when you put a new roof on it, they tend to reuse the old flashing. In your case, that flashing has got to be leaking. It’s letting water get in when the wind hits it just in the right direction. Really, what has to happen here is for the siding against that roof intersection to be removed or peeled back. Because the flashing has to go from under the roof well up under that siding to make it really, really tight.

    Now, there are different flashing products to do that with. Grace, who makes Ice & Water Shield, makes a flexible siding product that’s designed for this purpose. It’s like a membrane with an adhesive on it and you can literally seal in any of that kind of space against exactly this condition: that driving rain that’s going to come up between the roof shingles, through the traditional aluminum flashing and get into that space between the roof and the siding itself. It’s the only way to fix it.

    STEVE: OK. Well, at least that gives me something to go on.

    TOM: Alright, well, sorry it’s not better news but sometimes it’s better off to take it back to the beginning and do it right the first time. As we always say – that if you can do it once and do it right, you won’t have to do it again.

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    STEVE: Thank you.

    LESLIE: We’ve got Rebecca from Kansas on the line. What can we do for you today?

    REBECCA: We have a room that has the old wood paneling in it with the grooves and such that we’d really like to not remove it. But is there some way we can get the drywall look without putting up drywall, with putting on mud by hand or splattering it and kind of doing a knockdown? Or would it stick or – what do we need to do?

    LESLIE: Well, I feel like whatever you put on top of it, whether you fill it with mud or you use something to make the grooves go away and then try to smooth out the surface, you’re going to get so much movement from the walls, just in general. Not that your house is moving but it does. And it gets a lot of movement just from people walking by that none of that’s going to stick in there. And it’s going to end up falling off and looking weird and you’re going to have to do it again.

    So, my suggestion is either embrace the paneling look, as far as the grooves and paint it to give it a different effect, or put a ½-inch drywall over it.

    REBECCA: If you painted it, would you have to put some kind of a primer so it’ll stick or would you need to do a light sand on it or …?

    LESLIE: Yes and yes. You want to make sure that the surface is clean, obviously.

    REBECCA: Right.

    LESLIE: So if there’s anything sticky or gross on it, you want to give it a good cleaning. You could use something like TSP, which is trisodium phosphate. And that’s a good wall-prep product. Or you can give it a light sanding. But if you give it a nice – if there’s a sheen to it, you may want to give it a light sanding but not necessarily.

    And then I would use a really good, heavy-duty primer: something perhaps like a B-I-N or a Zinsser; something that’s hard-core that’s going to stick to anything. And then let that dry and once that’s done, you can go ahead and put a latex topcoat on it.

    REBECCA: OK. If we elected to do the ½-inch drywall, we’d just treat it like a normal drywall: tape it, put the mud on and sand it and paint it.

    LESLIE: Absolutely. The only thing to consider is that any electrical outlets – your boxes, things like that – are going to have to be pulled out a little bit.

    REBECCA: Oh, we’re going to have to bring them out.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Trim, as well.

    REBECCA: OK. Very good. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question to 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: And just ahead, late summer and early fall storms can be the most severe and the most damaging. We’ll have tips to help you stay storm-ready, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: You can get matched with background-checked home service pros in your area, compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments all online and all for free. No matter what type of job you’ve got, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    So Leslie, the other night I was out and I came back and found my son and 15 of his closest personal friends sitting around our fire pit. It was late evening.

    LESLIE: Were they expecting you home?

    TOM: It was fine. They’re all good kids. I’d rather them be at my house than out and about somewhere else. But they were making s’mores and having a good old time. But by the time everybody got to bed, it was probably close to midnight. Well, the next day, around lunchtime, we were out in the same area and we were fixing a kite that had a tear in it. And I look over at the fire pit and it was still smoking. So, 12 hours later, the fire was still smoking, even though he thought he put it out the night before. You know, you never can really tell.

    The embers down deep in that ash bed were nice and hot, so you’ve got to be so careful with that. Now, in our case, it was never much of a risk because it’s out in the middle of the yard. But I just thought it was fascinating that 12 hours later, there was enough heat in that fire to come right back up again. So, if you’re going to have fires in the fall when it starts to get a bit chilly out, make sure they are out.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you always hear in the wintertime about families who have the ash buckets outside and they don’t put them far enough away from their house and then tragedy happens. So, luckily, yours is far enough away but it’s definitely a lesson to learn.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Dennis in Massachusetts on the line is having some issues with some steps. What’s going on?

    DENNIS: I have a 1989-built modular home and I have 4 steps going up to the front door. It’s a one-piece cement piece and it’s become so pitted now because of salt and ice and whatever else. And I just wanted to ask you if there was any way that I could refurbish that to make it look nice.

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. I mean there’s actually lots of ways. So, now, when you’re talking about pitting, you’ve got little holes where the salts have been sitting on it – have just sort of eaten away at the surface. So you can fill those. There are actually epoxy patching compounds that you can get. Several of the concrete manufacturers will make them. You have to make sure that it is a cement/concrete patching compound; otherwise, it’s not going to stick.

    You can’t take brand-new cement and try to fill it in there because they won’t stick to one another. And it’s made specifically for cement. And some of them are self-leveling, some of them are not. You may want to put – over the entire surface, you might want to fill the holes and then coat the whole surface so you’ve got a nice, smooth surface when you’re finished. Now, the only thing is the color. It’s not going to match that worn cement.

    DENNIS: Yeah, that’s why I called you, because I know it’s not going to match the color. So, should I get a professional to come and do it and match the color or …?

    TOM: My advice would be to use a complimentary color. You’re never going to get it to match exactly.

    DENNIS: Alright. So, if I think – I live in Carver, Mass, which is the cranberry capital of New England. And if I wanted to stain it cranberry, I could do that maybe?

    TOM: Sure.

    LESLIE: But make sure you get a concrete stain or a concrete paint.

    DENNIS: OK. So, one more time, what is the name of the product again?

    LESLIE: It’s an epoxy – e-p-o-x-y – epoxy patching compound. Several of the cement manufacturers will make one. QUIKRETE has one. There’s a bunch out there.

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

    LESLIE: Kathy in Arizona is on the line and needs some help cleaning the garage. What can we do for you?

    KATHY: Well, we bought this house last fall and the garage floor is, I’m sure, grease from the cars but I don’t know how to clean it up. I’m just wondering if I can do that myself or if I’ve got to hire somebody to do that.

    TOM: I think you can do it yourself. What you want to do is pick up some trisodium phosphate. It’s known as TSP. You’ll see it in the hardware store or paint aisle of a home center. Mix that up into a paste-like consistency and cover the area of the stain. Let it sit for a while and then wash it out. Now, old oil stains are among the most difficult to take up but it will brighten it up a bit.

    And if you want it to be cleaner than that, what I would do is I would wash the floor, let it dry really well and then paint it. You could use an epoxy painting – garage-floor painting system. It’s a two-part epoxy that’s chemical-cured. So you mix the two parts of the paint together, you apply it to the floor, then you wait an hour or two and it basically hardens right up for you. And then it’ll be a lot easier to clean after that.

    KATHY: OK. So I can still put that epoxy over if I don’t get all this grease up?

    TOM: No. Once you clean up the grease, as I mentioned, you may – it may – the grease may be up but it might still be stained. And if you wanted to make it look nicer, then you could paint it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because the beginning part of this kit is usually like an etching compound that sort of prepares the floor to receive the coating. So if you can just get the actual grease off, even though the stain is there, it’ll prepare it so that it will adhere to it.

    KATHY: Alright. OK. Alright. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Now, we’re heading to South Dakota where David is on the line. What can we do for you today?

    DAVID: Yes. Thanks for taking my call. I just had my 120-year-old house sided with new vinyl siding. I got relatively new vinyl windows. And I’m curious, do I caulk between the J-channel and the window frame on the outside?

    TOM: No, you don’t have to.

    DAVID: OK. That’s not necessary?

    TOM: No, it’s not necessary. It should be watertight the way – if the installers put it in correctly, it should be watertight as it is. If they need – if it needed to be caulked, they would have done that. I know it looks like there’s a big gap there but that’s pretty typical. And you generally don’t have to caulk between the back of the J-channel and the side of the window.

    DAVID: Yeah, I was just worried about if it rains from a certain angle it’s going to, you know, wick down through that gap and then run behind the siding?

    TOM: Usually, that’s pretty tight and it won’t happen. There’s no reason you can’t caulk it but I don’t necessarily think you have to do it.

    DAVID: OK. That’s all I wanted to know.

    TOM: Well, homeowners across the country have experienced heavy rains and even some flooding this summer. When the forecast calls for that severe weather, though, it’s important to make sure you are ready for the storm.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, some homes with basements should have sump pumps installed to remove excess groundwater. And it’s also important to make sure that your system is in working order before that severe storm strikes. Now, in some cases the sump pump might not have been running for months, maybe even years, which is a good thing unless you need it and then you need it and it doesn’t work.

    But Tom, there’s a trick on how you can test it so that you really know if you’re ready.

    TOM: Yeah, there’s two ways. It depends on the type of sump pump you have. But if you have one that’s float actuated – it’s a floater that kind of looks like the float in a toilet tank – those are easy. You just get a hose and fill them up and when the float kicks on, starts to pump water out, you know it’s good to go.

    There’s another type that has sort of a pressure switch. Now, with those, the plug is going to have a little straw. It’s the best way – it’s a little tube; sticks out of the side of it. Now, this may sound a little bit gross but this is the way inspectors would test these. And there’s supposed to be an extension to this but there never is. Basically, if you suck on that little straw that’s sticking out the side of it, you’ll hear a click. That closes the circuit and that’s what happens when there’s pressure in it but that’s why that straw is there. You put your finger over it after you hear that click, plug it in and if it comes on, you’re good to go. But either way, it’s a good idea to kind of check that to make sure the sump pump is ready.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because if they’re not working, they’re not working. Now, a failed system in the middle of one of those heavy rains could result in your basement flooding. Now, we all know that can cause damage to the floors, the walls, whatever you store down there. I mean truly, if you get water in the basement, there are so many things that can get ruined.

    Now, most of your sump pumps are going to run on electricity, so a battery backup is a great idea. But most of those backup batteries will only run for a limited amount of time. So, if you live in an area that’s prone to the flooding and you really rely on your sump pump, a whole-house generator is going to keep that sump pump running, even if a major storm knocks out the power for an extended amount of time.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a really smart move. A whole-house generator gets installed outside your house, it comes on automatically literally within seconds of a power outage.

    If you’d like to learn more about generators, we’ve got lots of great articles on our website at I can tell you that both Leslie and I have whole-house generators in our homes and when they come on, it’s just great, especially when you’re coming home at night and you’re the only house on the street with lights.

    LESLIE: It’s amazing. In the few years – I think I’ve had mine four years – I think it’s been on for a total of 11 minutes. But this came off of a 17-day no-power situation and so, luckily, it hasn’t been on. But at the same time, I kind of wish the power would go out so it would …

    TOM: Because you’re ready.

    LESLIE: I’m ready for it. That’s why it will never go out ever again.

    TOM: Reminds me of the first time I bought a snow blower. After horrible snowstorms the winter before, I bought a snow blower. Didn’t snow a lick.

    LESLIE: Well, you keep buying snow blowers and avoid the snow. I’ll be happy with that.

    TOM: Oh, you like that, huh? Alright. We’ll do just that.

    888-666-3974. No need to avoid your next home improvement project. We’re here to help. Give us a call or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Len in South Dakota on the line with a painting question. What can we do for you today?

    LEN: I want to refinish some windows. Now, the frames themselves, there’s something wrong right now. I have Andersen windows and they’re badly in need of refinishing, because the – well, it’s been 39 years. So, there has been some flooding and stuff, so especially the sills are bad.

    TOM: OK.

    LEN: And I’ve heard about a paint that was actually mentioned on This Old House, from their house where they had refinished some kitchen cabinets. And they’re talking about a special paint they’ve got now that you don’t have to sand or anything like that. You’ve got to degrease a little but you didn’t have to sand or anything. And you can just – the paint was very, I guess, adhesive. It just …

    TOM: I think you’re talking about these one-step products that are basically primer and paint in one. And sure, they exist out there, because everybody was looking for – kind of cut corners and make it all happen a little bit easier. I personally am not a fan of those products. I am a traditionalist in that I know that I want to clean my surface, sand my surface, prime my surface. And only if I do those three things do I know that the paint’s really going to last. And I’ve had great success doing this.

    I mean I’ve had paint surfaces on the outside of my house that have lasted over 10 years by kind of following this path, so I really don’t think it’s worth, you know, just kind of skipping that priming step to use an all-in-one product. Plus, I’ve noticed that when you put a second coat on, it tends to be kind of gloppy, because it’s really thick.

    LEN: Oh, OK.

    TOM: OK? So that’s my two cents on it.

    LEN: OK. It was very expensive. And they said it actually – it was actually used on streets.

    TOM: I’m sure there’s great products out there like that but I just don’t think you have to go there. You’re just talking about saving one coat of paint and a little bit of sanding, so I would definitely do that the right way, OK?

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

    I don’t know why folks really hate that sanding step. It’s not that big of a deal.

    LESLIE: It’s so important, though.

    TOM: And the prep makes the whole job.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Just ahead, if you love the look of real hardwood but don’t have the budget to manage it, engineered hardwood might be a perfect solution. We’re going to share those details, in just a bit.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement project, your décor dilemma. Whatever is going on in your house, we’d love to talk about it at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

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

    STAN: I’ve got excessive humidity to the point that sometimes I even see drops off one of the registers in the bathroom. In the second floor of my home, I have a heat pump or air-conditioner unit in the attic, just above the second floor.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.

    STAN: And I’ve had to turn on a dehumidifier in my bedroom just to keep most of the humidity out. And I was wondering if there was any really good way – not too expensive – to get most of the humidity out of the attic space which, of course, is affecting the humidity in the second floor.

    TOM: Couple of things. First of all, is some of that condensation coming off the metal ducts in the attic?

    STAN: I can’t say for sure it’s – most of the things that are up there are wasps and it’s hard enough just to put my head up there, so …

    TOM: That’s the business end, OK?

    STAN: Right.

    TOM: That’s where you’ve got to go, so if you’ve got to get an exterminator to handle those wasps, then go ahead and do that.

    But two things. Number one, you need to insulate those ducts because that warm, moist air in the attic is probably what the source of a lot of that condensation is, especially where the register – if it’s close to the ceiling.

    STAN: OK.

    TOM: So you want to add additional insulation there.

    And then the other thing that you could do is you could add what’s called a “whole-house dehumidifier.” It’s actually built into the HVAC system. And while air conditioners themselves do have a dehumidifying effect, they’re not efficient dehumidifiers. A whole-house dehumidifier is. And it’ll basically run and it can pull – some of them can pull, I don’t know, 90 to 100 quarts of water out a day. They’re really efficient.

    STAN: OK. Could that be an add-on or does it have to actually come with the …?

    TOM: Oh, no, no. It’s an add-on. Yeah, it’s like when you add an electric air filter or something of that nature. Basically, you put it in on the return-duct side.

    STAN: Yeah, OK. It’s going to be kind of a tight squeeze, because there’s not much room between there and a metal roof.

    TOM: Yeah.

    STAN: So I guess I’ll probably have to throw another couple of dollars and a couple of cases of beer to whoever will install it.

    TOM: Well, my advice would be to not throw the money or the beer until the job is done.

    STAN: Of course. Oh, yes, yes.

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

    STAN: Thank you again.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly floor option but don’t have the budget for a solid-hardwood floor, engineered hardwood is an excellent option. We’ve got details in today’s Flooring Tip, presented by Lumber Liquidators.

    TOM: Now, engineered hardwood is made with real hardwood. It’s got a real hardwood top layer but that’s then attached to a structured wood core. And once it’s installed, the engineered hardwood looks just like solid hardwood but because there’s less hardwood needed, engineered-hardwood floors can cost a lot less.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And that’s a huge savings.

    Now, another big benefit of engineered hardwood is that the core structure makes that flooring dimensionally stable. And that’s going to give you a lot more options when it comes to installation. Now, it’s a lot less likely to be impacted by humidity and temperature change, so you can use it in a wide variety of climates, including those below-grade spaces where dampness can really just ruin a solid-hardwood floor.

    OM: There are also a lot of options when it comes to installation. Engineered hardwood is available as a tongue-and-groove flooring product that can be nailed down or glued down or even edge-glued together to form a floating floor.

    Now, if you’re looking for an even easier installation, it also comes as a quick-click floor, meaning that the boards basically just lock together with no adhesive or even clamping required. And that makes it perfect for a DIY floating-floor application.

    LESLIE: Now, before you install that engineered flooring, it is a good idea to let that flooring acclimate to the room that you’re going to use it in. So pick up the flooring a few days before you plan to install it and then leave it in the house, in the room you’re going to put it, so that it gets used to all those climate conditions in that space. Now, if you’re doing the installing yourself, just be sure to follow those instructions that are provided by the manufacturer. The whole process is pretty easy and you’re going to be amazed with the results and so proud of yourself.

    TOM: And today’s Flooring Tip was presented by Lumber Liquidators, where you can get the best selection of prefinished engineered-hardwood floors for less. Choose from a wide variety of styles, from light to dark hardwoods, smooth or distressed and domestic species, like oak and hickory and exotic species, like Brazilian cherry and Brazilian pecan.

    Engineered hardwood is regularly priced from $1.99 per square foot up to $6.29 per square foot and available at Lumber Liquidators stores nationwide and online, at

    LESLIE: Valerie in Washington is on the line and has a question about outdoor décor. What’s going on?

    VALERIE: I have a simple railing on my front porch and it’s cedar. Part of it’s stained to keep it from deteriorating, so it’s orange-colored. And the rest is just naturally-aged cedar-silvery. And I want it to be white to match the rest of my trim. So, there’s two different colors and do I do an undercoat – a primer? And is it oil-based? And can I get a stain – a pure-white stain – for it?

    TOM: So, you probably can. What I would suggest is a two-fold approach. I would prime it first and then I would use a solid-color stain. Because I think that will give you the sort of more natural look that you seem to be looking for. But you should prime it and then apply the solid-color stain.

    Now, because this is off-color orange, as you describe it, if you don’t prime it, you may get some of that that comes through. That’s why I want you to prime it first. You’d use an exterior-grade primer and you’d use a solid-color stain. If you buy both the primer and the stain from the same manufacturer, you can be sure that they’ll work well together.

    VALERIE: OK. Does this matter if it’s oil-based or not?

    TOM: I would probably recommend an oil-based primer, only because you’re going to get better coverage over that darker color. But in terms of the stain itself, that could be latex-based.

    VALERIE: Oh. OK, then. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it and I enjoy your program.

    TOM: Well, thank you very much, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Still to come, steam-cleaning is a simple way to make your carpeting last longer and look better, if it’s done right. We’re going to have tips, after this.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can find trusted home service pros, compare prices and book appointments online, all for free.

    LESLIE: Alright. Dorothy in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    DOROTHY: I respect all life but when you have a centipede crawling up a wall, that left the basement coming up into the house, it looks very ugly and scary. I understand they’re carnivores, so maybe they’d eat other bugs but I don’t really know how to get rid of them. And also, I’d like to know about crickets, how I could catch them.

    LESLIE: What kind of crickets are you talking about? Those weird-looking ones that hop and they’re like gigantic in your basement? They look like prehistoric?

    DOROTHY: The black ones that live outside but as soon as it turns cold, they come in and you hear them singing in your garage.

    LESLIE: Oh, OK. And you don’t want to kill anything, correct?

    DOROTHY: Well, I guess I could. But personally, I have a pet that eats crickets. I’d like to catch them. I read on the internet – I can’t seem to come up with a way to capture them. And we’re – I’d like to capture them and get them out.

    The centipedes, I’m open to, you know, extermination.

    LESLIE: Well, I was going to say, for your basement, I would start by making sure that everything is sealed off. So if you have anything that protrudes through the foundation wall – dryer vents, anything – make sure that it’s all sealed around. Anything can come in through the tiniest opening. So whether you use an expandable foam or a steel wool, you want to make a combination of things to close up every opening that you see, because that’s how they’re getting in.

    Now, once you’ve done that, if you see a centipede in the house, I would suggest – you could take a vacuum and you can put a piece of pantyhose at the end of the intake hose. So before it gets into the bag or gets into the area, it gets caught in that little piece of pantyhose.

    DOROTHY: Oh, that’s a good idea.

    LESLIE: And you can vacuum them into the pantyhose and then release them into the wild or whatever you like or feed the crickets to your lizard or snake friend.

    Now, as far as the crickets in the garage, I would do the same. I’d make sure everything is sealed up. I don’t know of any sort of traps that you can place and leave and go and then collect any of the crickets. I’ve done – and I’ve seen this done with bait – with people who have crickets in the basement, specifically the cave crickets. They take tape and lay it sticky-side up around the entire perimeter of the room. And then the crickets, when they crawl in under the walls, they get stuck to the tape.

    Now, they’re still alive stuck to the tape. I would usually think people throw away the tape but you might be able to, I don’t know, feed them to your friend that way?

    DOROTHY: Right. OK. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Well, if you have wall-to-wall carpeting at home, you know kids, pets, family traffic, all of the day-to-day can lead to some pretty dingy-looking carpets rather quickly. I mean I hate to say it but you can definitely see where people go walking on all the wall-to-wall carpeting in my house. Now, fortunately, it’s not hard to steam-clean those carpets yourself.

    Now, this is something that you can do at least once a year to keep your carpets looking new and smelling fresh and it’s going to actually help them last longer, as well. Because the number-one reason that carpets wear out – get this, guys – is dirt. How gross is that? It’s like sandpaper that gets ground into the carpet and then it breaks down all the fibers. And it just makes it look gross and it makes it fall apart.

    TOM: Now, you get a rent a steam cleaner at your local home center or even a supermarket near you. You want to make sure you get the right amount and type of cleaning fluid to go with that machine, because it’s very specific to the way the machine works. Follow the directions for mixing it up carefully and consider getting the upholstery attachment for those hard-to-reach areas, like furniture and stairs.

    I think using a steam cleaner is kind of like using a pressure washer. Once you get going you don’t want to stop, so have all the tools right there, good to go. And I tell you, I have cleaned some carpets that I was pretty sure I had to replace, especially in a rental property that we owned. And we had thought we had to replace this carpet about three times but after I steam-clean it, it looks good as new. I’m like, “Alright. Good for another year.” So, check it out and I think you’ll find that the result is well worth the small effort it takes to get it done.

    LESLIE: Patrick in Wyoming is on the line with a question about cracking drywall. Tell us what’s going on.

    PATRICK: I have a recurring problem with cracks in the walls. And I’ve spackled them four or five times and I’ve spread the spray rubber sealant over them and they just keep returning.

    LESLIE: And when you’re talking about cracks on the wall, do you mean by the door, by trim work, by windows or smack in the middle of the wall?

    PATRICK: Both. I have one by a front door that keeps recurring and then I have one stair – going down a set of stairs.

    TOM: Well, by the stairs is pretty typical because you get a lot of movement and by doors.

    LESLIE: And the front door, too.

    TOM: Yeah, a lot of movement in that space. So, I think he’s just not fixing it right, Leslie.

    LESLIE: And the issue is, Patrick, whatever you do to fix them, it’s not a once-and-for-all thing. Because you’re dealing with movement that continually, over time, could eventually lead to whatever you’ve used to fix that crack to dry out. So, there’s got to be a way to fix it.

    PATRICK: Yeah, the hardware store sold me this rubber-spray compound that’s supposed to flex and give with the wall. And it doesn’t seem to work. I’m just wondering what’s the best solution. Paneling?

    LESLIE: No, I’ve never used a rubber-spray compound but what I have done, in areas where I have a crack or any sort of seaming, instead of using a paper tape like you would do when you’re putting two sheets of drywall together, I use a fiberglass tape. And it looks almost like a sticky mesh. And you use that to go over your crack and then you put the compound over it and feather it out. Try to make it smooth and then let it dry and sand it. And you do a couple of applications of that, allowing it to super dry, sand it smooth, add another layer. And that does the trick because that fiberglass tape that’s sort of mesh-y looking does its best to span the crack, spread the surface over it and makes it adhere much better than you would with a paper tape or no tape at all. And that should give you a much longer time.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, whether you own an old home or are thinking about buying one, they’re easier to navigate and improve when you know their history. We’re going to tell you how to track it down, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show returns.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And what are you working on this beautiful weekend? Whatever it is, we’d like to help. Give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you’ll find the best local pros for any home service.

    LESLIE: That’s right. It doesn’t matter what the project is. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros. And there are no membership fees; it’s 100-percent free to use. Just check them out at But remember, post your questions, right now, at The Money Pit Community section. And here we have one from Jen who writes: “Do you have any specific suggestions on painting stucco after repairs have been made?”

    TOM: It’s pretty much the same as painting any exterior surface. You want to make sure you clean it really well, use a primer – I prefer a solvent-based primer, an oil based primer – let it dry really well and then paint it. Now, before you do that, though, you want to make sure that you fix up any loose stucco and seal any cracks. And use a product that’s designed for stucco repair, not just a caulk, for example, that’s designed for sealing drafts.

    The caulks and the sealants are very specific for masonry. QUIKRETE has a bunch of good ones. And then you can prime it and paint it, you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, I’ve got a post here from Gabe, who’s thinking about the fall already. He says, “How often, now that the weather is going to be getting colder sooner, do I need to seal my pitted driveway? And what should I be using?”

    TOM: Well, if it’s pitted, you’ve got to do it now, Gabe, because you don’t want to leave those holes in there. It’s going to – the water and the ice are going to get in there and freeze and break apart.

    So, listen, it’s a pretty easy job. You want to basically get yourself a 5-gallon bucket of driveway sealer and an applicator. Clean the driveway really good. Just sort of squeegee it on. You don’t need any sort of primer. If you’ve got cracks, you’ve got to fill them first. But after it’s done, you want to make sure that you’re using salt that’s not corrosive when winter comes, because those that use the corrosive salts, like rock salt, well, they end up fixing up concrete and driveways with lots of holes in it. So, choose carefully, my friend, and you’ll be good to go for a long time.

    LESLIE: Yeah, Gabe, when you’re getting the salts, look for calcium chloride. That is the one that will do the least amount of damage.

    TOM: Well, if you own an older house or you’re thinking about buying one, you might just wish its walls could talk. Because if you know about the history, you might be able to prevent some problems. Leslie has actually got some tips on how you can do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, the biggest key here, guys, is knowing your older home’s exact age. I mean that is valuable, since homes built in the same era tend to face similar problems. Now, with the help of an architecture book or two, most homeowners can narrow their home down to a core style and a time period.

    But here’s the key, guys: public records are huge; if you can get your hands on them, they will tell you a ton. So visit your local building department, the tax assessor or even the Register of Deeds Office to find the deeds, maps, plot plans, building permits, each of which could fill you in to a key piece of the home’s history. Even insurance companies, they keep maps since the mid-1800s. And that’s a great way to find out more of your house. They’re going to catalog the buildings in your area, descriptions, layout, materials used. If you can’t get any of that, start doing the exploration around your house.

    Take a look at the type of wiring. If you’ve got knob-and-tube wiring and steel plumbing pipes, that’s kind of key to the 1900s to 1940 area. If you’re seeing fuse-type electrical systems and plaster-lath walls, you’re thinking more 1940 to 1960. And finally, look around. You might be lucky enough to find dates stamped onto the plumbing fixtures, like your toilets and sinks. And it’s a pretty safe bet that your home was built right after those fixtures were made. Because, guys, knowing a lot about your home’s past can actually help you plan for that home’s future. And it really makes it a fun learning experience and a fun project.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to find out about some leaks. Now, the leaks that come from pipes, they can be easy to spot. But when they come from condensation, that solution is a little more complicated. We’ll share it, though, 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 2017 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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