How to Silence Scary House Noises #0626171
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How to Silence Scary House Noises #0626171

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    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 a how-to project, we are here to help you get it done. Give us a call, right now, and help yourself first at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or head on over to and post your question to the Community page.

    Coming up on today’s show, squeaks, creaks, drips, bangs and hisses. These are all noises your house makes, right? But if you’ve ever wondered what’s behind them, we’re going to teach you how to sniff them out and silence the most common house noises. And we’re going to talk about whether those noises might signal a bigger problem than you can fix.

    LESLIE: Plus, if your tub is looking a little worn, can the surface be restored? Well, it can if it gets done right. We’re going to share details on how to do this project, just ahead.

    TOM: And the summer season is when burglars get busy. So to help, we’ve got a bunch of great home security products we’re giving away from Lowe’s Iris, including the Iris Security Starter Pack and the Iris Smart Hub, plus three free months of professional home monitoring. That package is worth over 214 bucks. Going out to one listener who calls in their home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT or posts it online at

    So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Priscilla in Massachusetts is on the line and while we all love birdhouses, guess who else likes them? Squirrels. Let’s help her keep them out. What can we do for you today?

    PRISCILLA: They’ve chewed away at the holes of it so that they actually have made it – the holes bigger. And because of that, the birds are not going in there because the squirrel can go in there. So, I’ve already tried PVC piping, because I figured that’s something I can put in there – insert it just in the hole – and it’s not too big, kind of narrow. But I can’t find one that fits.

    TOM: OK. Most of the solutions for bird feeders or birdhouses are really in two categories. One, they make it rather unpleasant for the squirrel to be able to get up that high, with things like cones or plastic bottles or slippery pipes or ducts or Slinkies or things like that that slide around and make a lot of noise.

    PRISCILLA: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: Or simply move it completely away from where squirrels can get to it. So, for example, if you were to string a wire between two trees and not have overhanging branches above, the squirrels would never be able to get to that birdhouse.

    PRISCILLA: Could I have – do you know of something I can insert in the hole, though?

    TOM: Right. But if you insert it in the hole, the squirrels are still going to hang out in that birdhouse and they might try to chew their way in via another area.

    PRISCILLA: Right.

    TOM: So that’s why I’m saying that I would not focus on reinforcing the birdhouse as much as I would focus on moving it to an area that’s less likely to be attacked by squirrels.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading out to Las Vegas where Bruce is on the line with a question about windows. What can we do for you today?

    BRUCE: I wanted to know about your opinion on the effectiveness of E-windows. I have an approximately 3,000-square-foot home. It’s two stories. But I actually don’t put the air conditioning on until it’s about 110 outside and then it’s – then I put it on to about 85. And I have some shutters in the house, so I wondered what you thought of E-windows.

    TOM: Well, when you say E-windows, Bruce, are you talking about low-E?

    BRUCE: Yes. I think that’s what they’re called, right?

    TOM: OK. Yeah. So, yeah. So, low-E – and the E stands for Emittance. And basically, what it is is a reflective coating that is on the glass. And most high-efficiency windows – I would dare to say almost all of them – have a low-E coating. And what it does is it takes the UV from the sun and reflects it back outside. So very, very important to have low-E window glass in Las Vegas, especially, with the heat that you experience. That’s going to make a dramatic difference on how much heat actually gets into the house itself, because the low-E glass will reflect it back out. So it is definitely a measure of efficiency and something you want to look for when you’re shopping for those windows.

    BRUCE: Well, with the caveat – like I said, I don’t put the air on until it gets to be about 110 outside.

    TOM: I understand. But no matter what comfort level you like to use that air conditioning, you’re going to be using less of it if you have low-E glass.

    BRUCE: And any idea of approximate cost of – and the difference of …?

    TOM: You know, I wouldn’t consider, for a second, not using low-E glass in a house, no matter where it was in the country that I was building or putting windows in. I wouldn’t be able to tell you what the cost difference is but if it’s a thermal pane – average-quality thermal pane window – it’s going to have low-E glass.

    BRUCE: Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Martin on the line who wants to talk about fascia boards. That is an excellent design detail on the exterior. What can we do for you?

    MARTIN: The fascia boarding that connects the ceiling of my porch roof to the overhang has separated from the ceiling. And I want to know if I need to – do I need to rip that out and replace it? Or can I just seal it and maybe put a larger molding over it?

    TOM: Well, if the fascia board is loosening up, then I would tell you to re-secure it. And that’s actually not an unusual thing to happen, because the nails that hold that are usually going into the ends of the rafters behind it. They tend to expand and contract a lot.

    But what I would do is I would tell you to re-secure it but do it with screws, not with nails. If you use long screws – like 2½-inch, case-hardened drywall screws or wood-trim screws – that will pull that fascia board back in tight and it’ll be impossible for it to loosen up again.

    So don’t think of it in terms of something covering it. Just put it back where it was but use screws instead of nails and it won’t come out again, OK?

    MARTIN: And do I do that by going under the molding?

    TOM: Well, you want to try to get that fascia board re-secured in, so if that is going to require you to take off a piece of molding to get to it, then that’s what you do. But you want to get to the original fascia and tighten it up.

    MARTIN: OK. I can do that, then. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Give us a call now with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find a home service pro you can trust. You can read reviews, compare prices and book appointments online.

    TOM: So give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Up next, do house noises keep you awake or just keep you wondering? We’re going to have solutions to silence all of those strange happenings, when The Money Pit continues 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, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Need new flooring in your kitchen or bathroom? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.

    Now, if you pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement question or post it online at’s Community section, you will get the answer. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the Iris Smart Hub and Iris Security Starter Pack, plus three months of home monitoring. Basically, a fantastic home security package by Iris, which is at Lowe’s. It delivers all the benefits of professional security monitoring, with a smart-home management system, for total peace of mind. And now Iris customers can also enroll in a professional monitoring-service plan for 14.95 a month. Pretty much the best value among smart-home security systems.

    You can pick up Iris by Lowe’s at Lowe’s or Or you might just win this Iris Security Pack if you call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to talk to Bill from Illinois who’s got some questions about what’s going on with a bathtub. How can we help you?

    BILL: Yeah. I have a – it’s a 28-year-old shower/tub and I’m not sure if it’s ceramic or fiberglass. And I have couple of cracks in it.

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t think there’s an easy fix for a crack in a tub that’s physically cracked. I mean we’ve repaired shower pans, for example, by using fiberglass repair – a fiberglass-repair kit – where, basically, you’re applying a rosin and then you’re impressing fiberglass sort of into the mix and then putting multiple layers of additional rosin on top of that. But it’s not a very attractive finish.

    And I’ve done this in an emergency basis where I had a cracked shower pan. I had a rental apartment, for example, and I wanted to just make it stop leaking so we weren’t bothering the lady below. And we did it and it worked but eventually had to take it out and replace it anyway. So, for a tub that’s physically cracked like that, I don’t have a good solution for you.

    BILL: Figured it would be a tough one.

    TOM: Yeah.

    BILL: I’ve heard of these overlap coverings.

    TOM: Oh, the inserts. Yeah, yeah, uh-huh. Yeah, I think one of the companies is Bath Fitter that does it. It’s not a bad idea except that what we’ve found is that, economically, the cost of a complete bathroom renovation and the cost of doing an insert are not so far apart. It is less expensive than a complete reno but you are restricted to the tub you have now, obviously, and the size of that tub which gets smaller when you put an insert into it. And if you do the renovation, you might have some opportunities to improve the place, improve that space a little bit more than you could by just doing an insert. So it definitely is an option.

    And with the tub that you have now, though, I would suspect if it did physically crack, it’s probably a fiberglass tub that was not properly supported. Because what you’re supposed to do when you put them in is to put a loose mortar mix underneath the tub and then press the tub down into that, which gives it complete and total support across the whole floor. Sometimes, if contractors skip that step, it ends up being a little flexible. And over the years, just getting in and out of the tub, it eventually wears and cracks.

    BILL: Well, actually, I took a fall.

    TOM: Oh, you did? And that’s how it happened?

    BILL: Yeah, that’s how it happened. And I’m OK but just the crack was there and it’s on the upper slope of the tub. So it’s not at the bottom. And I have not had any leakage problem.

    TOM: Well, the proof’s in the pudding. I’d say your options are to tear out and replace or to do an insert. But in terms of patching it, I couldn’t really tell you anything that’s going to be very attractive other than the fiberglass trick.

    BILL: OK.

    TOM: Alright, Bill?

    BILL: Alright. I appreciate that.

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

    Well, if you hear squeaks and creaks and drips and bangs and hisses, your house might be trying to tell you something. Fortunately, here at The Money Pit, we do speak house and we can definitely help.

    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: We sure do. There really is a good chance that some of your home’s noises come from plumbing, in one of two ways. Now, the first way is pipe expansion. Expansion will happen as the temperatures rise, causing those loose copper pipes to sort of rub against those wood studs. And that’s that sound you hear: that sort of that rubbing, squeaking weirdness that you’re thinking, “Where the heck is that coming from?”

    Well, you can stop them from touching by replacing those U-shaped clips on the exposed pipes. And those are actually called “Mickey clips,” which I never actually knew the name of those. I’m always like, “Pipe clamps? Pipe clips? You know, the U-shaped things that hold the pipe to the stud?”

    TOM: Listen, when you go into a plumbing-supply store and you ask for Mickey clips, they know you know what you’re talking about, so …

    LESLIE: Right. Or if you say the U-shaped clips that hold the pipe to the stud, they kind of know what you’re …

    TOM: Kind of know. But they know you’re not an expert, OK? So this way, you kind of get the respect of the counter guy by using the right phraseology.

    Well, the next most common issue with house noises from plumbing is what’s called “water hammer.” Now, that happens when the faucets or the valves are turned off and that causes the water that’s running through the pipes to kind of come to a screeching halt. And if you think about it, water is pretty heavy, right? It weighs, actually, 8 pounds per gallon. So as that mass is running forward and it stops suddenly, it has a little bit of momentum there and it kind of shakes the pipe. And that’s the hammer effect that you hear. It can be a bang or it can be like a loud rattle.

    But there’s basically a way to fix it that’s kind of like a shock absorber that goes into the plumbing system. And it does exactly that: it absorbs that force of the water running through the pipes and it will stop it from shaking the pipes.

    Water hammer really doesn’t cause any damage. If it’s really bad, it might shake a connection loose but that would be the worst thing. But it is kind of annoying to listen to it all day long.

    LESLIE: Yeah. That one really is sort of a sound that’s jarring and you think is bad but it’s not really as bad as it sounds.

    Lastly, if you guys take care of all of this and you’re still hearing those sounds at night, you want to check your furnace for oil-canning. Now, oil-canning refers to ductwork that expands and contracts as the temperatures around the unit fluctuate. And that can actually make sort of a popping – it’s almost as if the duct itself is sort of bursting out and popping back in. So that makes a really kind of loud, unsettling sound. And that could be the other thing if you’re not seeing the water hammer or the pipes rubbing. That’s the next step.

    TOM: Yeah. Pretty much when you turn the HVAC system on, those ducts will expand. And if they’re not reinforced properly, they will pop or bang and it can be really loud. And because we’re talking about metal parts here, of course, it resonates everywhere. The solution is simply to add some bracing. It’s actually really easy to do. It’s a little bit of a trick of the trade. You can take a furring strip that’s like a 1×2 and kind of lay it right diagonally across the duct, where it’s making the noise, and shoot some drywall screws right through the wood, into the metal. It has the effect of reinforcing that piece of metal. Nobody ever sees it, right, because it’s in the basement. And it’ll stop the oil-canning sound from happening.

    So, all of those sounds have a reason. It’s a good idea to figure out why they’re happening and determine if it’s going to be a bigger problem or if not, if it’s just an annoyance and then you know exactly what you need to do to get it done.

    LESLIE: Heading over to Oklahoma, right now, to talk to Sheila about a kitchen do-over. How can we help you paint those countertops?

    SHEILA: I recently – my husband and I remodeled our kitchen and we refinished our cabinets and we – they had – we had some recessed lighting done and we didn’t have enough money for our counters. So, I’ve been looking at, online, some stuff about repainting your countertops. And I wanted to know your opinion about it or if you’d heard anyone doing that or what your thoughts are on that.

    TOM: Yeah, the countertop paints have been out for probably five or eight years now and they seem to do very, very well. I know Rust-Oleum has an extensive line of countertop paints out that are available in many, many colors. So I think it is a good option.

    I think it’ll buy you a little bit of time on those countertops so that you can avoid having to replace them. And you’ll have the opportunity to paint in either a solid color or they have countertop paints now that kind of look like stone countertops. They look like granite and other types of natural materials. So I think they’re a very good option and I would encourage you to pursue it.

    SHEILA: Yeah, I actually found a company online that sells them – their product locally at one of our wallpaper stores and have actually purchased the items. I just haven’t started the project yet.

    TOM: What you might want to do is try to get your hands on a piece of laminate. And you can go to a home center and buy a really small piece of laminate, like a scrap. And this way, you can practice a little bit before you actually get it on your countertop.

    SHEILA: Do you know about the length of time and how durable it is as far as lasting?

    TOM: It’s not as durable as the laminate but it’s pretty good.

    SHEILA: Yeah, OK. Well, great. Thank you, Tom, for taking my call.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lee in South Carolina on the line who wants to build a koi pond. How can we help you?

    LEE: Off the deck of my house, in the one corner, I’ve got a bridge going to a gazebo. What I want to do is – 2 feet off of the gazebo, I’m doing a raised flowerbed. And from the flowerbed – 4 feet out, all the way around the gazebo – I want to do a koi pond.

    And everyone keeps telling me that you’ve got to do it in concrete, because it’s – with liners, it would cause too many – you’d have to have too many liners and then sealing them. And it’d be a lot more of a problem.

    TOM: Well, there’s a lot of ways to build a koi pond and most folks use liners.

    LESLIE: Well, you have to use something. So, you can either build almost like you would a small pool and pour a concrete – I say “foundation” for lack of a better word but a concrete form. Or you can get a plastic pool form. They’re black. You see them at – I know the home center by me that sells koi – it’s actually a garden center that sells koi and pump equipment for water features – has a variety of sizes of these black sort of – they look like kiddie pools, essentially. But they’re interesting shapes and you dig out and then place this in the ground.

    Or you can get the black liner, which comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses. And then you would dig out the formation that you like, especially it seems like yours is a bit more specialized and free-formed and has to sort of fit into a different area of measurements that you have specific ideas in mind. So the liner is probably better, because it will work with your specific dimensions.

    And you’ll dig out. You’ll have to dig the slope into it, as well, if you want shallow areas or deep areas. You’ll have to dig that all in, as well. Then you’ll put sand down, just to keep a smooth area, and then you’ll put the liner in.

    And it sort of, when you put the water in, will start to take the shape of that area. And then what you’ll have to do around the top, on those edges, is you’ll have to use all-natural rocks and large stones to hold that down and hide all of that lining. But there’s no reason why you can’t use a plastic liner.

    LEE: OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, if your tub is looking a little worn, we’ll tell you what you need to know to get it professionally restored, after this.

    KEVIN: I’m Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. When I’m not working on old houses, I’m making sure my house doesn’t turn into a money pit, with help from Tom and Leslie.

    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 we would love to talk with you if you pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT on The Money Pit’s listener line, which is presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: That’s right. 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.

    TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.

    LESLIE: Dave in New York is on the line and has a plumbing question. What are you working on?

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

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

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

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

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

    DAVE: OK. I was just curious to know.

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

    LESLIE: Well, painting a room, painting a floor or even painting your kitchen cabinets are all a can-do, do-it-yourself project. But painting your bathtub is not.

    TOM: Absolutely right. You know, refinishing a cast-iron tub is something that can be done by a pro who, with the right tools, can deliver a finish that will last for many, many years. With details on how this project gets done is Kevin O’Connor, host of TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: It’s great to be here, guys.

    TOM: And this is one of those projects that many DIYers have tried but few have ever achieved a good result. But there is a big difference, though, when a project like this is approached by a pro, correct?

    KEVIN: Well, there certainly is and I can understand why so many people want to try to do this themselves because these old tubs, well, they can be beautiful. They’re great historic pieces – whether they’re built into the wall or if they’re these gold, claw-foot tubs – and a lot of people want to save them. But it is definitely a project for a professional and I think you’ll appreciate that when you understand the steps that are involved.

    TOM: Alright. So where does it all begin when the pros come in?

    KEVIN: Well, if it’s built into the wall, if it’s part of the tile surround – tub surround – you want to remove the caulk that goes around the perimeter first. That’s the easy part. But then after that, it starts to get a little bit more difficult.

    Next, you have to clean the tub and you’re going to do that with an acid-based, commercial cleaner. Now, it can be a very dangerous product, so you’ll see the pros who use it, they wear a full face mask and a respirator to make sure that they don’t breathe in the acid or get any of it into their eyes.

    LESLIE: And Kevin, these are products that a do-it-yourselfer can’t get their hands on, so you really do need to go to a pro for this, right?

    KEVIN: Well, you know what, Leslie? Even if you could get your hand on these things, you don’t want it in the hands of an amateur, because they’re just dangerous. So, it really shouldn’t even be considered.

    TOM: And that’s not the only acid step. Isn’t there an etch process after that?

    KEVIN: Well, that’s the next step. And so once you have it cleaned, you actually have to etch up the tub so that the paint can actually adhere to it. And so there is an acid etching paste that really digs into the old finish and it gets it ready to accept the primer coat, which is the third step.

    The primer is applied using a paint sprayer and this helps to make sure that the paint goes on smoothly and easily. And if you’ve ever used a paint sprayer, it really takes a fine touch to get that nice and even, so that’s another project for a pro.

    TOM: Right, with no drips whatsoever. So the adhesion really is what I’m hearing is the absolute key here. And then, of course, after the primer, there’s a topcoat that looks just a bit like the original enamel finish?

    KEVIN: Well, it’s a topcoat. It’s also put on with a sprayer and is a combination of paint and polyurethane. And when it dries, well, it delivers this beautiful shine that looks very much like the original, porcelain enamel once did. And it can be a fantastic finish.

    LESLIE: Kevin, there’s so many steps. How long does this process take?

    KEVIN: Well, the good news is a professional could do it all in one day.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: And then how long will that last for?

    KEVIN: Years. Decades, if it’s done well.

    LESLIE: Really?

    KEVIN: Yeah.

    TOM: Wow. Definitely a great project and a way to really preserve a piece of history in your very own house.

    KEVIN: But a job for a professional.

    TOM: Absolutely. Kevin O’Connor, host of TV’s This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice.

    KEVIN: Great to be here, guys.

    TOM: And if you’d like to see a video of how this is done, you can visit

    LESLIE: And you can watch Kevin and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Gorilla Glue. For the toughest jobs on Planet Earth.

    Just ahead, summer months are peak periods for home burglaries. We’re going to have tips to help you secure your home, when The Money Pit continues 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: And bathroom makeovers are a very popular project all year long because they give you a great return on investment. And you are in the midst of doing just that, aren’t you?

    LESLIE: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s something that I can actually do. So, backstory is that it’s been four years since my husband passed away and I never cleaned out his closets. And his closets – he’s got two in my bedroom and then I had a closet sort of off of our bedroom, which was an old storage room that had been converted into a dressier, little closet. My dad and I did it when we first bought the house years ago.

    So I cleaned out Ed’s closets and sorted through things – Goodwill, what I wanted to save for the boys – and then I stood there looking at these two empty spaces and thought, “What if I moved all my stuff into here? Can I make my little room a bathroom?”

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.

    LESLIE: Because geez, I would love to have my own bathroom space, especially as the boys are getting older and bigger and taking more time in there.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: I would like to have my own space for privacy. So I’m actually going to meet with an architect in the coming week to see – first of all, it’s over – kind of partially over a screened-in porch, which has been there since the 40s. So I don’t know if, structurally, the screened-in porch can support the weight of a bathroom.

    TOM: It can work, yeah.

    LESLIE: I’m OK with just a shower. I would love a tub but I want to see sort of what my – what I can do and what the possibilities are.

    TOM: Right. Possibilities are? Yeah.

    LESLIE: The benefit is it backs right up to the one full bath in the house.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: So, getting access to the plumbing shouldn’t be a problem. But then it opens up the whole thing of what does this do for my taxes, all these different things that you have to consider in adding the bath.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: But I know that if I had my own bathroom space, I’d feel like a lovely lady again that didn’t step on weird Legos and toy cars and …

    TOM: Right. Somehow you would all work out.

    LESLIE: Right. I would just love to have my own space. So we’ll see. I mean I’ll keep you guys posted as this goes forward. But adding a bath, truly, I think if you’re not taking away a bedroom space or something that sort of restructures what the capacity is of your home, I think it can only add to its value. And I know for me, personally, it can definitely add to my enjoyment. So, we shall see. I’ll keep you posted.

    TOM: Alright. Well, we can’t wait.

    Hey, do you have a bathroom project on your to-do list? Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. No matter what’s going on that you need to get done in your house, we are here to help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    TOM: They never painted the drywall?

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

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

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

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

    LESLIE: Well, now that summer is here, it’s vacation season once again. And that, unfortunately, also means it’s the season for break-ins. Now, whether you’re planning a day trip or a month-long adventure, it’s important to secure your home while you’re away. So we’ve got a few suggestions in today’s Home Security Tip, presented by Iris Smart-Home Security.

    First of all, lock up, you guys. Now, this totally sounds elementary but it is surprising to learn how many homes are accessed through an open door or an open window. So, make sure that all of your windows and doors are securely locked before you leave for vacation. That said, I know some things happen by accident. But I know plenty of people across this United States of America who are like, “I live in a safe town. I never lock my door.” Lock your doors, guys. Come on.

    Now, lights on timers. That seems like a no-brainer, as well. It really does improve your home’s security by putting lights in those main living areas on timers and then set them to sort of simulate your occupancy. So maybe the living room goes on and turns off in an hour and then a bedroom upstairs turns on. Kind of make it look like somebody is actually in the house.

    And lastly, don’t broadcast your absence. Now, a burglar can easily be tipped off to your absence by an unanswered phone, a public Facebook or Twitter page that says, “I’m on vacation. Look at me. I’m in Fiji. I am so far away, I will never know for days and days and hours if you’ve broken into my house.” So, really, guys, be smart about your social-media postings.

    And also, those piles of mail and packages and newspapers at your front door, that’s another dead giveaway. So, have a neighbor or a friend – or go to the post office and say, “Hold my mail for a couple of days.” Just be smart about it, guys. Don’t give it away.

    TOM: Now, there are some things you can do to the outside of your house, before you take off, that will make it harder to break into. First, you want to finish up any major yard work. And make sure that you trim back trees and shrubs that are near windows or doors. Because burglars don’t need much to hide. And it’s kind of a sneaky crime and they like to hide, so don’t give them that opportunity.

    Improve your lighting. You know, if you don’t have motion detection, floodlights or porch lights on, get them. I mean they’re so inexpensive today. You can get a fixture or you can get an insert for an existing fixture that will give you that capability. And this way, you’ll have lights that will come on if there’s any motion around your property.

    And this way, you’ll know if anyone’s poking around your yard, your house, those lights are going to come on and hopefully scare them away.

    LESLIE: That’s today’s Home Security Tip, which was presented by Iris Smart-Home Security, a DIY system that connects an entire range of compatible smart devices in your home, through one single app. It lets homeowners create a do-it-yourself, tailored system that’s not only convenient but effective with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week monitored protection for as little as $15 a month.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s a good product. The service gives the homeowner an ability to kind of have emergency responders dispatched to your house in the event of a security problem, a smoke or carbon-monoxide or even a panic alarm. There’s no long-term contracts. So whether you’re at work or across the country, you can pretty much rest easy with the monitoring that’s provided by Iris Smart-Home Security. You’ll find it at Lowe’s, and Amazon. The Iris Smart Hub retails for 69.99 and the Security Starter Pack is just 99.99. So, check it out.

    888-666-3974. And you can check us out at

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Chris in Georgia is on the line with an electrical question. What’s going on?

    CHRIS: Yes, ma’am. Got a question with an electrical issue in our bedroom. We bought this house and trying to find out some answer to why the bottom plug of a duplex receptacle would work but if you plug into the top part of the outlet, it won’t work. There’s no power.

    TOM: Is there any possibility that the top outlet is on a switch?

    CHRIS: Could be.

    TOM: OK. I’ve seen that. And you don’t see it very often but I have seen it where what looks like a normal outlet is actually split and the top one is wired to a switch and the bottom one isn’t.

    CHRIS: Oh. OK.

    TOM: So, theoretically, you would have your light on that top one. Now, if that’s not the case, then obviously something is wrong with the outlet and I would just replace the outlet. It shouldn’t be a big deal.

    CHRIS: Awesome. I appreciate the advice.

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

    CHRIS: Very good. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Hey, is your house overrun with flies? Gross. We have got a solution that will keep you fly-free before you know it, 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: Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT, which is presented by HomeAdvisor. Find trusted home service pros, compare prices and book appointments online, all for free.

    Hey, if you guys have a pool, now is a really good time to be thinking about your summer pool safety. There’s lots of things that you need to do. One of which, though, is to make sure the pools are fenced in and that the gates have self-closing hinges. If your gates have gotten worn and they no longer slam shut, why not take an hour to replace those hinges and keep the kids that much safer?

    LESLIE: Alright. And if you need help with some other home safety tips for the summertime, don’t forget to head on over to And while you’re there, post in the Community section, just like Dan writes. Now, he says, “Our home is overrun with houseflies. There’s no apparent cause, such as open trash or food being left out, but I kill up to 25 to 30 flies per day. No kidding.”

    Oh, that’s terrible.

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: “The worst part is the next day, there are that many right back. Can you suggest either a fix or a possible cause for this? It’s driving me absolutely nuts.”

    I mean I know when one fly gets into my house, I don’t stop until that one fly is no longer living. I know it’s bad.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, this sounds like cluster flies. They live outside. They feed entirely on earthworms but then they come inside, in considerable numbers at a time, to hibernate. And it happens this time of year. So the good news is that they don’t feed or lay eggs in human food and they don’t indicate the presence of something dead like other flies. But the bad news is they’re kind of hard to get rid of.

    There is a non-toxic trap that has a pretty good reputation you might want to look into, Dan. It’s called Cluster Buster and it reportedly works very well. So check that out online. I’m sure you could find it by searching “Cluster Buster.”

    LESLIE: Cluster Buster. Who even knew that there was such a thing as cluster flies?

    TOM: Bust those cluster flies.

    LESLIE: My goodness. Alright. Next up, I’ve got a post here from Castine who writes: “I have a three-year-old home with vinyl windows which are tight. There’s weather-stripping around all the doors and I cannot figure out how this house gets so dusty within a matter of a couple of days. I’m wondering, how do I get rid of the dust and how do I find the source of my problem?”

    Well, when Pig-Pen moves in with you – no, I’m kidding. I feel like houses just generate dust. It just happens.

    TOM: Yeah, I don’t think it’s dust coming in from the outside; I think it’s dust that’s generating inside the house. And I think most of us generate a lot more dust than we realize. And reducing it starts not only with cleaning surfaces, like rugs or furniture, but more importantly cleaning the air. That’s the single most effective way of reducing dust and most homes just don’t have good-quality air cleaners in them.

    So, if you have a forced-air heating system, it’s easy to do. What you want to do is pick up either a very good-quality static filter or you can pick up an electronic air cleaner. That one you’d have to have professionally installed. But with the right kind of filtration, you can trap – with those electronic air filters, gosh, you could trap 99 percent of all the particulates that go through the air.

    And remember, everything that gets trapped is less dust that’s going to settle on all of those surfaces. And you’ll find that in the times of year when you’re running that HVAC system, it’s just a lot cleaner inside the house with a good-quality filter.

    All those years I spent home inspections – doing home inspections, Leslie, half the time I’d pull out a filter, it’d be the first time somebody had seen it in years.

    LESLIE: Oh, sometimes I forget. And when I’m getting my air conditioning serviced and I know the guys are coming, I will quickly run and change it because I know they’re going to make fun of me. Because the one time I didn’t, they’re like, “Hey, Segrete, when was the last time you changed the filter?” I’m like, “Ooh, I know.”

    TOM: Exactly.

    LESLIE: I know. So I’m just like you guys. Sometimes I forget.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this part of your summer day with us. We hope we’ve given you some great ideas and tips and inspiration to tackle the projects that you’d like to get done around your house.

    Remember, we are a resource 24/7. You can always call in a home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT. And if you do, you’ll be eligible to win one of the great home improvement products we give away every single week. Or you can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page 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 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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