Simple Storage Hacks

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  • 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 what are you working on this fine winter weekend? If it’s your house, maybe by now, at this point of the year, you’re kind of tired of staring at those four walls and have – are now totally motivated to do something about it. Well, we hope you’re totally motivated to pick up the phone and call us, because we can help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We’re here with tips, ideas, inspiration to avoid the perspiration when it comes to getting the home improvement jobs done around your home.

    Coming up this hour, one household item that can help improve your home’s organization by giving you a key spot to get rid of clutter. Know what it is? Well, we’ll have that and more storage hacks, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, we’ve got the top mistakes folks are making when it comes time to dig out after a dumping of snow. And we’ll bet you make a few of these yourself. But first, before you pick up that shovel, we want to hear what you are working on inside the money pit. Heck, we’ll even talk about stuff you’re doing outside in the snow, out of the snow. Maybe you live somewhere warm and you’re working on something more summery. Whatever it is, we’re here to lend a hand. So give us a call or post your questions online.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or you can post your questions on The Money Pit’s Community page at

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, this problem is something we probably have all dealt with: your water is taking way too long to heat up.

    Monty in Alabama, tell us about it.

    MONTY: We’ve got a – our water heater – we moved into a house a few months ago and it’s taking about 90 to 120 seconds for the – in the kitchen – for the hot water to heat up. And it was just this tremendous waste of water.

    And it’s an electric water heater and it’s located on the other side of the house, upstairs, so it’s having to travel so far, I’m sure. Is there any reasonable solution to that?

    TOM: Yeah, well, you hit the nail on the head. The reason it takes that long for the water to get hot is because that’s how long it takes for the water to travel that long run down the pipe and to get over to the kitchen from the other side of the house.

    What I might suggest that you consider is adding a second water heater. Now, you could pick up a tankless water heater and they do actually have some reasonably energy-efficient, electric tankless water heaters right now. I never used to say that but I recently saw some new ones. The technology is getting a little bit better. They actually have heat-pump water heaters that are pretty efficient. But if you were to split the run to get the water heater a little closer to the kitchen, that would make a difference.

    Now, is the kitchen the only place you’re having this? Is it – is the hot water reasonably quick, in terms of where the bathrooms are located?

    MONTY: Yes.

    TOM: Yes, since the bathrooms are more important than the kitchen, in terms of the speed with which the hot water arrives, especially if it’s you standing on a cold floor waiting for the water to get warm before you hop in the shower, I would probably tolerate it, if it was me. I would tolerate it and deal with it.

    Now, the other thing that you could do is you could put a point-of-use water heater, right under the kitchen cabinet, to supply additional hot water. But again, it’s kind of an expensive project and I don’t know if you would ever make that up in terms of the savings on water cost and that sort of thing.

    MONTY: Mm-hmm. Yeah. If it’s not something that we can make up, it’s not really worth doing because …

    TOM: I don’t think it’s worth doing then, Monty, because it’s not really inconvenient because it’s not near the bathroom. It’s just you have to be patient a little bit waiting for that warm water to arrive. And I imagine after it arrives, it stays warm in the pipes a little bit longer.

    One thing you could think about doing is insulating that hot-water pipe so that once the warm water gets in it, it stays warm a bit longer. And that would …

    MONTY: Mm-hmm. Yeah, that’s a good thought and that would be inexpensive.

    TOM: Inexpensive, right. And make it a little bit more convenient. OK?

    MONTY: OK, Tom. Thank you so much. Enjoy your show.

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

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

    MARY: My husband and I are trying to install central air in our home. It’s a ranch-style and we bought the central-air unit and the ductwork from a building that had been torn down. And I wondered if we could simply attach the ductwork – and when we’ve cut the holes in the wall – in the ceilings – for the vents, I wondered if we could just go ahead and attach the ductwork that was there from the previous building or if we had to redo all the ductwork – I mean all the vent piping.

    TOM: I guess the answer is maybe. And the reason is because the duct design is going to be dependent on the building. And it depends on the size of the building and the distance that the air has to travel. And if it’s not done right, what will happen is you’ll either create a situation where you have either too much or too little heating or cooling. And most likely, you’ll have too little. And if that happens, you end up wasting, actually, a lot of energy, because the system has to run a lot more to try to make the building comfortable.

    So, I would suggest to you that insofar as the duct design is concerned, you really need to have somebody that is experienced in designing these systems lay it out for you. It’s definitely not a do-it-yourself project; it’s not the kind of thing that you can tackle, even if you’re very industrious first time out, because you might get it wrong.

    It depends a lot on the size of your building, how many windows are in your building, where the building faces. There’s a heat-loss calculation that’s done and then based on that, you determine how much warm or cold air you have to get to each room. So you can’t necessarily sort of just completely copy what was done in an older house unless it happens to be an identical house.

    So this is a point where it’s good that you got the equipment inexpensively, you got the ductwork inexpensively. You do need to spend a little bit of money on getting it laid out properly, Mary, or you just won’t be comfortable. Does that make sense?

    MARY: Yeah, that was what I wanted to check, because we’re pretty self-sufficient but I had a feeling this might be more than we could tackle.

    TOM: I think that’s a good idea. Mary, 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 at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    TOM: And still to come, one household item can help improve your home’s organization by giving you a key spot to get rid of clutter. We’ll have that and more organization hacks, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really do have the best local pros for any home service.

    LESLIE: That’s right. It doesn’t matter what that project is, they make it fast and easy to find the top-rated pros.

    TOM: And there are no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use,

    And hey, if you’ve been thinking about adding smart-home technology to your home, we’ve got a great way for you to do just that. Because if you do call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, you just might be the lucky winner of the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart-Lighting Dimmer Switch Starter Kit.

    Now, that’s a lot of words but what it means is that you’re going to have some of the coolest lighting inside your house for not a lot of work or a lot of money. Because the Caseta puts that smart-lighting control at the switch, so you can use almost any dimmable bulb and it’s going to easily control your lights from anywhere using that free Lutron app.

    You know, the guys at Lutron, they invented the dimmer. So, this is just the super-modern version of that. And the Caseta is the most connected smart-lighting control brand, so it totally integrates with other leading smart-home devices. So, you’ve got Alexa, Siri, whatever. You can make it really easy to use and expand your system over time.

    That package is worth 99.95. Going out to one caller, so is that going to be you? It will only be you if you pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Gary in New York on the line who’s got a question about a new roof. How can we help you with that?

    GARY: Back in 2011, down here in Binghamton, New York, we had had a flood hit pretty bad. And we had thought that part of the storm that rolled through had damaged our roof. Turns out that the insurance company found out that the roof tiles weren’t installed correctly. I guess they had tacked them in too high and with too much PSI, I guess, with the air hammer or whatever.

    And that’s long-term, so we had a patch actually sliding down, which we paid to have fixed. It was probably about 350, 400 bucks to have it patched. And now, a couple years later, we have another patch that’s very close to the original patch job that’s starting to slide down, as well. And I have never really looked into getting a new roof. I was kind of curious what you guys might have for advice for me.

    TOM: So, Gary, the old roof is a standard, asphalt-shingle roof?

    GARY: I believe so, yeah.

    TOM: Because when you say tile that slid down, I think you’re just saying – you should explain that the shingle slid down.

    GARY: Yes.

    TOM: And so, Gary, at this point, you just want to figure out the best way to replace that existing asphalt-shingle roof, correct?

    GARY: Well, one of the questions me and my wife have been discussing is the last time we paid to have this patched, where we had the problem where a large portion was sliding down, we paid like 350, 400 bucks. And it lasted about three or four years before we saw any other problems.

    What we’re curious about is there’s probably about – I think it was – we figured out about nine years left on the life of the roof, from when it was installed. And we were curious if we should just keep patching it at 300, 400 bucks a year – 300, 400 bucks every couple of years – or if we should just go ahead and get a whole new roof.

    TOM: How long are you going to be in the house?

    GARY: If we win the lottery, I’m not moving unless they heckle me too much.

    TOM: So, you intend to be in this for most of the life of the roof, whether it’s the existing one or a new one?

    GARY: We’re looking at staying in this house for pretty much as long as we live.

    TOM: Well, if it’s 300 bucks and it’s going to last you three or four years and you’ve got to do it once in a while, I might be OK with patching. But I guess if I had to do that time and time again, then I would start thinking about a new roof. And if I was going to do a new roof, I would remove the old roof, right down to the roof sheathing, and then reroof from there. It’s not a good idea to put a second layer on top of the existing layer.

    First of all, the second layer never lasts as long because the first layer holds a lot of heat. Plus, you’ve already got attachment problems with that first layer, so you wouldn’t want to compound it by putting more roofing shingles on top of that. So, I guess I’d be tempted to do it once or twice but after that, I’d be ready for a new roof.

    GARY: OK. I guess the other question that I had had – and in regards to this – is about a year or two after we had the patch job done, we had had insulation put into the attic. And that cost us a pretty penny to get done because we had – I think it was R30 insulation installed and they had to sister out the joists on the rafters and everything. And since then, we hadn’t noticed any water infiltrating but we just put up drywall inside the attic, as well. Is there any way to check and see if there’s water infiltration?

    TOM: Well, if there’s water infiltration you’re going to see it, especially if you have drywall, because it’s going to stain. So, if you’re not seeing it, then I wouldn’t expect that you’re getting any leakage.

    GARY: And considering we’re in upstate New York, do we have to worry about the weather? Like when should we get the roof redone if we choose to do so?

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t think it’s a good idea to do it mid-winter, obviously, but any other time of the year it’s fine. One of the things that you might want to consider when you do redo the roof, because you are in upstate New York, is to make sure that you have ice-and-water shield installed. This is an additional layer of roofing material that goes from the edge of the roof up 3 or 4 feet into the roof structure.

    And it’s specifically designed so that if you get an ice dam, where ice forms at the gutter line and then the snow above that starts to melts, that water is not going to hit the dam and back up into the house. And because you’re going to pull the old shingles off, it’s the perfect opportunity to do that.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Gary? Here’s a tip from somebody who just had their roof redone last summer: get yourself one of those nail magnets. It’s like a big magnet on a stick that you kind of wander around your backyard with? Because I swear we still find nails in the backyard that show up at the most random times in the most random places. So no matter how well your guys look, there’s still going to be more.

    And also, if you are going to be home at all during this project, try to get out. Because let me tell you, being in your home – I had a little guy, a youngish baby at the time. Charlie was only like six months. It was the loudest, most unnerving thing to deal with: the sound of people on your roof and hammers and …

    TOM: It’s like being awake during surgery.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s like you’re under attack. We just had to get the heck out of the house. So it’s like try to make plans to not be around.

    TOM: Alright, Gary. Hope that helps you out.

    GARY: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, as you look around the room, do you see piles of clutter everywhere? I did but then my kids went back to school and they disappeared.

    Well, when your stuff doesn’t have a home, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed about where to keep it. And that’s especially true for things you need and use every single day.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But there really is only one very simple solution that we like. And it’s the one household item that I can’t live without. And once you try it out, you’re not going to be able to, either. I’m talking about baskets.

    Now, baskets come in all shapes and sizes. And they’re the easiest way to store away things that look unsightly and just messy when they’re out in the open. And yet you still have easy access to them when you need them.

    TOM: Yeah. For example, when you get home, do you dump your keys, your wallet, your cell phone on the kitchen counter? Why? Put a small basket there; keep it all contained. You can use baskets for all of your electronic chargers, too. And in our house, we use them for remotes. We’ve got some baskets under sort of the coffee table and we have all the remotes there and other room gadgets and coasters and stuff like that. They’re super convenient.

    LESLIE: And I’m going to say we’re being broad with the term baskets here. Now, I use a small tray on my entry table that holds the keys, loose change, anything that’s coming out of my pockets. You know, I use a larger tray on the coffee table in the living room that sort of contains those things. So, think basket, tray, cute dish. All of those things sort of fall into the organizing section of basket. It just depends on what it is that you have to put in there.

    And there’s even ways that you can store bigger things, like shoes in your front entry, even in a closet. At the bottom of the closet, it’s usually just a mound of shoes and you can’t find the mate to the one you’re looking for. So if you put a nice basket in the bottom of a closet, you can then put their shoes in there. If you have a bench in the front entry, maybe put a basket under the bench for each of your kids so that all their shoes go right into that one basket, so there’s no fighting and everything’s in one place. You’ve got to streamline your activities and get the clutter put away.

    TOM: Good advice.

    The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got more advice where that came from, for just about any home improvement project you might be thinking about doing. Give us a call, right now, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Kathy in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    KATHY: I have a problem with the squirrels chewing into my roof.

    TOM: OK.

    KATHY: And I was wondering, how can I – what can I repair this with and what can I put in there to keep them out?

    TOM: Now, where are they chewing? Are they chewing through the trim or the soffits trying to get into the attic space? What’s the story?

    KATHY: Well, they have gotten into the attic space.

    TOM: The holes. Are you repairing those holes or what are you doing?

    KATHY: No. I was calling you to see how you could help me, because I listen to your show all the time and you give such good advice.

    TOM: Well, if they get into your attic, you can trap them and release them. You can use something called a Havahart trap. And this is a trap that is a wire cage with a trap door. And the way to bait it is to take an apple and put it in the far end of the cage and wire the apple to the cage; don’t just put it in there. But usually, I’ll take a hanger or a piece of picture-frame wire or something like that and I’ll thread it through the apple and wire it off so that it can’t bounce around.

    And if they’re in the attic, they’ll come looking for that food. They’ll get trapped in there. Then you can pick the whole cage up and take it far away from your house and then release them. And believe me, as soon as you lift the door up, they’re out like a light.

    LESLIE: They’re gone.

    TOM: They just fly right out there and they’ll take off. They want nothing to do with you, so it’s completely safe.

    Now, in terms of those holes, you have to repair them. Now, you can put – if it’s a small hole, you can put steel wool in it or something like that. But if it’s a bigger hole, you really should simply rebuild it or repair it, whatever it takes. So if it’s wood or if it’s vinyl or if it’s metal soffit material, you really just need to completely rebuild that.

    And then, the other thing I’ll mention that seems to have been pretty effective over the years – and that is if you were to put moth balls down in your attic, that does seem to have a deterring effect on the squirrels, as well. So if you spread them …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It will, though – that odor does seep into the house, so don’t go crazy with it.

    TOM: Yeah, right. You sprinkle them in there, yeah. Especially along the eaves.

    KATHY: But is there anything else I can put up there to keep more from coming in?

    TOM: Well, we want to identify the holes and get those fixed. It’s really an entry issue. You’ve got to basically close the door on them here. And so, if we can identify those holes and those entry points and seal them up, then you shouldn’t have a problem with squirrels. They don’t naturally live in the attic but they’re obviously finding a way into your house.

    If you’re not quite sure where they’re getting in, you obviously can’t get in there – up there – to kind of look that closely, then work from the street level, walking around the outside of the house and looking up. Try to get a pair of binoculars or borrow one and see if you can spot the holes where they’re getting in. But that’s what has to be closed up.

    KATHY: OK. Thank you so much. I’m so grateful.

    TOM: Just ahead, do you have kids or maybe at least just kids that visit? Well, childproofing is a key to their safety. We’re going to have some tips about how you can childproof areas you may never have considered.

    Plus, you might know that smart-home products can make life more convenient but did you realize they can also help you save money, as well? We’re going to tell you how, in today’s Smart-Home Tip presented by Lutron. That’s all coming up, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, Leslie, I was thinking about child safety while I was just on a recent trip to Florida, helping my mom move into her winter place down there. And I’ve got to tell you this story.

    I was in a Publix doing some shopping with her. And we’re in line and I’m packing up her groceries. And then the cashier next to me I’m facing, I’m seeing a mom with a small child, maybe two-ish, standing up in the basket and leaning towards Mommy except Mommy had her back to the child. So, if small child thought he was going to grab Mommy, it wasn’t going to happen and he was going to face-plant right on that floor of that Publix. And myself and another parent that was in the same line was like, “Excuse me, excuse me. Hello.”

    LESLIE: It’s like your instinct is to grab a child.

    TOM: Yeah, I know. It’s just like if you’re a parent or even not, you’re just ready to make the catch, you know? That’s what was happening there. And the thing is that kids, they do these things so fast. They learn new skills every day. Who knows? Maybe that was the first time the kid ever stood up in the shopping cart.

    But you need to be so on top of it. And on, we’ve got great tips and checklists on childproofing your spaces, childproofing your house and specific areas inside your house, like your bathroom. So check it out. It’s online, right now, at

    LESLIE: And we’ll tell you, they do the craziest things. Charlie. I have this whole area in my foyer with – everybody’s got a hook for their coats. And Charlie is standing on the bench holding onto the coat, which is still on the hook, but kind of leaning back like he’s rappelling with the coat as a rope?

    TOM: Oh, like swinging?

    LESLIE: And it’s like had the coat slipped off the hook or his hands slipped off, he would have flown off the bench and hit his head. And I’m like, “Dudes.” It’s like you don’t want to get mad but you want them to be scared and not do it again. And at the same time, you’re like, “Guys, I get it.”

    TOM: Right. It’s cute, yeah. Yeah.

    LESLIE: So you always have to be thinking, because they’re going to figure out how to use something for an unintended purpose. And you sort of have to be ahead of that.

    TOM: How about the one I call the “indoor diving board”? The oven door, right? They open the oven doors and climb up on them. And I bet a lot of folks don’t know this: there’s actually a bracket that you’re supposed to have under the rear legs of your oven – your range oven – that will hold it to the floor in case that happens. Otherwise, it can easily tip over. I mean they’re kind of topsy-turvy in terms of how they’re balanced. So, yeah, you’ve got to be on top of this all the time.

    And again, that checklist is online, right now, at Or give us a call. We can chat about it. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, you may know that smart-home products can make life more convenient. But did you realize they can also help you save money? Well, they can. You know, today, smart-home security technology can control nearly every aspect of a home’s appliances and utilities, from turning on lights to arming a fully-fledged security system. And as an added bonus to all that, these same technologies can help you save money along the way. Here’s a few ways they do just that.

    First off, insurance companies, they’re now rewarding homeowners and even renters who invest in smart technology to make their home safer. They’ll offer discounts on home insurance premiums for alarm systems that include window and door sensors, along with an audible alarm.

    And let’s talk about smart thermostats. They can prevent frozen pipes during the winter, which could potentially prevent a very expensive plumbing emergency from a burst pipe and all the water damage that follows. And they can also generate substantial savings just by reducing the use of your heat when no one’s in the home.

    And smart lighting can also reduce energy use by bringing lights on only when needed or they can even prevent break-ins by randomly turning lights on and off, which will provide the appearance that your house is occupied even if you are many, many miles away.

    And even bigger appliances, like smart washers and dryers and dishwashers can be set to run during non-peak hours when utility rates are typically lower. And if you don’t have all of those expensive smart appliances, well, you can even plug regular appliances into smart plugs instead of directly into the wall socket. And that will instantly transform them into very smart appliances.

    LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Tip presented by Lutron, the makers of the Caseta Wireless Smart-Lighting Dimmer Switch Starter Kit. With Caseta by Lutron’s Smart-Lighting Control, you can set your lights to come on every night at dusk. And the Sunset Tracker will automatically adjust as the seasons change, so you know that no matter what time of year your family is always coming back to a well-lit home.

    TOM: Caseta by Lutron. Welcome home to peace of mind.

    LESLIE: Now, we’ve got Charlotte on the line with a leaky-window question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    CHARLOTTE: We have a problem with our double-pane windows. I go around every morning in the winter and dry out the windows. And we’ve got mold showing up in there. I’ve tried the ceiling fans running. I’ve also tried those deflectors. And we took the deflectors away because the manufacturer – the person we bought it from – said that was not a good idea. And we’re still going around wiping the windows out and I’ve got mold. I’ve tried cleaning them with a little bit of different things: peroxide, bleach water. Any suggestions on what can keep this down?

    TOM: Wow. I’m sorry to hear that. And you know what? The reason that’s happening is because the windows are not insulated very well. Even though they may be thermal-pane windows, what’s happening is you have warm, moist air on the inside of your house striking cold glass and then condensing on the glass surface and then dripping down. So, the long-term solution here is to get new windows.

    Now, a shorter-term solution might be to examine all the ways that moisture is building up inside your house. And it can build up in a surprising number of ways. First of all, cooking, right? If you have an exhaust fan that is recirculating that moisture back into the house, that builds up moisture. If you have bath-exhaust fans in your bathrooms, if those are not run during and say, 15 minutes after showers, all that moisture gets into your house.

    If the grading around the outside of your house is flat or sunken in, that lets more moisture under the house, which will eventually wick up. And finally, if you don’t have good attic ventilation, you get what’s called “vapor pressure” that can build up inside the house.

    So if you try to reduce the amount of moisture that’s inside the house, that will control some of that. But unfortunately, the long-term solution here is to replace the windows. They absolutely should not be condensing. And if they were properly insulated, that would not be happening. Does that make sense?

    CHARLOTTE: That makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, do you live in a snowy climate with no garage to keep your car? Well, that’s OK. We’ve got some tips to help clear car snow quickly and easily, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Standing by for your calls, your questions on The Money Pit’s listener line at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.

    LESLIE: And hey, if you’ve been thinking about adding smart-home technology to your money pit, we’ve got a great reason for you to do just that. We’re giving away, this hour, the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart-Lighting Dimmer Switch Starter Kit worth 99.95. It’s a great kit because it puts the dimming control right at the switch, so you can control more than one fixture that’s on that switch. You can do it all right from the app. And a super-fun thing that they’ve added in is you can control the lights to come on at dusk, no matter what time dusk is throughout the year. Super-smart technology, super easy to tackle.

    TOM: It’s worth 99.95. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Shironnie (sp) in Colorado is on the line and has a question about mold. What can we do for you today?

    SHIRONNIE (sp): The pipes have broken inside the walls and we fixed the pipes and everything. Now we’ve got this problem with mildew and the mold, so we have – we want to know what’s the best way to treat it.

    TOM: Yeah. First of all, when that happened, did you file a claim with your homeowners insurance company?

    SHIRONNIE (sp): No, we just got the house. We got it as is, so we’re fixing it before we move in.

    TOM: Oh, oh. OK. Got it, got it, got it. OK. Well, is it a lot of mold or is it a little bit of mold?

    SHIRONNIE (sp): A lot. We’re ripping out drywall and as we rip it out, we’re finding more.

    TOM: Oh, boy. Yeah. Yeah, this is generally not a do-it-yourself project because when you have a lot of mold, you can contaminate parts of the house with this. I really think this is the kind of thing that you want to stop and get some professional help with, Shironnie (sp). Because if you release all those mold spores into the air, you potentially could be causing a bigger problem.

    Generally, when you have that much mold – you say a lot of mold – you have to be careful about how you take that apart. What you generally do is you depressurize the house, you put fans in the house so that it pulls the air out as you’re breaking out that – the drywall and so on and flushes all of those mold spores to the outside. And then all of the framing gets sprayed down so that you kill anything that’s left behind. You get it good and dry and then you reinsulate and re-drywall.

    But it’s a pretty big job and when you have a lot of mold like that, you can be exposing yourself to that mold and that could make you sick. So I would say to proceed very cautiously when you’re trying to rebuild a house that’s got heavy mold damage. It’s not an easy problem to resolve.

    SHIRONNIE (sp): Oh, OK.

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

    LESLIE: So you live in a place where snow is common this time of year but you don’t have a garage. It’s a pain, I know, to clear all that snow and ice off of your car but you’ve got to do it. It’s really dangerous, actually, to drive that way.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, here’s a mistake that I guarantee you’ll only make once, because that’s the total number of times that I made it. And that’s not parking at the end of your driveway.

    Yeah, the snowplows are going to push a little pile-up against your car but it still makes the distance that you need to shovel or clear a lot closer to your end point. And the same goes for a parking space at a condo or apartment complex. Grab a spot near the exit when possible. It’s just a lot easier to get out.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, another trick is to put up the windshield wipers so that they don’t freeze to the car window. Also, you want to use a long-handled broom to get snow off the top of your car before you open the door or a heap of wet snow is going to fall right in.

    I think something like this happened to you, Tom.

    TOM: Well, you know, it did and it was the windshield-wiper thing. And it was on my SUV and it was the rear window. And I did not pull it off the window. And honestly, I’ve never done it before because it doesn’t bend like the front ones do. But I could have but I just didn’t do it. But guess what happened? It froze and stuck to the window and the wiper arm actually cracked. It came in two, so I had to replace that whole wiper arm because of that. So, yeah, it’s a good idea to pull them off of the windows.

    And don’t forget to clear snow around your headlights and your taillights. And if your driver’s door is frozen shut, try all the doors. There might be ones that face the sun that you’ll be able to get into. And you can also use a lock deicer for frozen locks or doors or even WD-40 works really, really well.

    LESLIE: Bill in Texas has a question about rusty grout in a bathroom project. What’s going on?

    BILL: Yes, ma’am. A couple of years ago, I put in a tile shower. I’d removed a fiberglass shower and I put in a tile shower. And the problem is – you know how you put the rubber barrier up like 42 or 48 inches? I put that up but I’m guessing that I should have used stainless-steel screws. Because in two spots, you can kind of detect a rust color kind of seeping through the grout? And I’m wondering if I should remove the grout and maybe try – they have that epoxy-based grout, if I should do that or if there’s – when I remove the grout, if there’s a product I should apply to kind of neutralize the rust.

    Basically, that’s what’s going on. I’ve just – I’m decently handy, so I know I can remove the grout and everything but I’m just wondering what steps I should take to prevent the rust from coming back.

    TOM: Well, the sand-based grout certainly is going to allow any rust stains to kind of permeate right through. Epoxy grout probably would not. That might be the simplest solution if it’s just minor surface rust. It’s a little bit late now to pull tile off and start changing fasteners, so I think that probably makes the most sense, Bill – would be just to remove the old grout with a grout saw and then regrout it with epoxy-based grout which, by the way, is a little harder to work with. So make sure you take your time, maybe practice off those bathroom walls before you apply it to it. But I think that’s probably the best solution in the short term.

    BILL: Now, the – for automotive, they have POR-15 and different products to neutralize the rust. Is there anything like that that you – would it be worthwhile to even try to attempt that or is it not worth my time?

    TOM: I’m not familiar with those products but my concern would be that if you got one, it’ll probably open up somewhere else along the way, so it’s kind of like you’re chasing a ghost after a while.

    BILL: OK. So maybe try the epoxy grout and cross my fingers?

    TOM: I would say so. I think there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to work out, Bill, OK?

    BILL: OK. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Well, falls at home injure millions of Americans every year. And one of the most common places that they happen is in your bath. We’ve got some easy advice on how to make that space safer, 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: Standing by for your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 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, all for free.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got a post here from Jake who wrote in the Community section: “I just bought a new Cape Cod-styled home with return vents on the exterior walls of my house. It’s our first winter we’re here and I’m noticing we’re getting a lot of cold air and drafts coming from the returns when my heat is not on. I even took the return covers off and I can see the old, wood siding on the exterior of my house. Is there a way I can insulate the vents or seal them up so I don’t get the drafts?”

    TOM: Yeah. The problem isn’t the ducts, it’s the lack of insulation around them. So you, first of all, need to evaluate whether or not you actually have insulation in those exterior walls. You probably do but it may be pulled back around the ducts. So, the other thing that you could do is you could spray a polyurethane foam in around those edges.

    But I will caution you that you need to use the one that is called “window and door foam.” It’s the kind that’s used to seal the gap between windows and doors. And the reason you’re going to use that is because when it dries, it’s spongy. If you use the one that is just designed to seal gaps, then what’s going to happen is that gets really hard and it’s very powerful. So as it expands, it will buckle the wall or buckle the duct and you won’t be happy with it. If you use the one that’s designed for windows and doors, even if it spills out a little bit, no big deal. Let it dry. You can cut it clean with a knife and you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Jake? That’s really going to be what you need to help slow down and maybe even stop those drafts completely. And that’s what you want to keep you guys comfortable in the winter months.

    TOM: Well, falls at home injure millions of Americans every year. Leslie has got tips on how to prevent those accidents and more in the bathroom, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, if you’ve got small boys in the house, tell them that jumping in the shower is a terrible idea.

    TOM: Bad idea.

    LESLIE: The purpose of the bath mat – it’s a bad idea. But truly, guys, outside of having kids and making sure they’re safe in the bath, there’s a lot of things that all of us should be doing for the entire family. And they’re pretty simple.

    First of all, use a non-slip mat or install adhesive safety strips or decals all along your bathtub or shower floor. Now, if you do use a bath mat on that floor, you have to make sure you choose one that has a non-skid bottom. Because even if you’ve got a bath mat suctioned down to the bathtub floor, you could still step on that and that could be slippery. So make sure that’s step number one.

    Secondly, you can install grab bars in your bath and in the shower stall. And don’t use towel racks or wall-mounted soap dishes as grab bars. They can come loose very easily. I mean they’re not made for that. Their brackets aren’t made for the extra strength that are required to hold somebody in the event that they’re falling or give some support when standing. So you have to buy the right type of item for the right purpose.

    So if you’re looking for a grab bar, you can find some that are very stylishly designed, that will be put properly onto the wall with the correct bracket to keep you safe but still look good while it’s doing so.

    Next, you want to make sure that you keep the floor clean and dry. If you step out of the shower to adjust something with the lighting or do something and the floor gets a little wet, dry it up right away. You just have to be careful, because those floors are super-duper slippery. And especially if you drop some hand lotion or some makeup remover, something that might feel a little greasy on the floor, again a super-duper slippery hazard.

    Now, lastly, if you use a throw rug in your bathroom or frankly, anywhere in the house, you want to make sure that you put them over a rug liner or you choose a rug with a non-skid backing. That’s going to reduce the chance of slipping. I mean it is a super-common trip-and-fall hazard at home.

    So if you take these steps, start in the bathroom, extend to the rest of the house. They’re all common-sense tips that you can put into play to keep everybody safe.

    TOM: In fact, we’ve got a preventing-falls-at-home checklist you can also check out at

    Coming up next time on the program, as simple as it might seem to add insulation, it’s a project that many DIYers get wrong. We’ll have tips to help you get it right, on the very 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 2019 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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