Solving Paint Problems #0102171

  • Painting
  • open_floor_plan_hardwood_flooring_living_room_kitchen_shutterstock_176526584
  • water_damage_ceiling_tile_mold_rain_storm_shutterstock_9780073
  • dollar-1443244
  • remodeling project
  • bathroom-393388_1920
  • spackle_drywall_repair_sheetrock_putty_knife_shutterstock_57801595
  • 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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, because we want to hear from you about your home improvement project. What are you working on? What are you thinking about? What is your New Year’s resolution to get done in your house? Because unlike most resolutions, we want to help make sure this actually happens. But we’re going to help you out 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up on today’s program, new year, new hue and that’s h-u-e. We’re talking 2017 paint colors this hour and which ones are right for your house. We’ve got some colorful room-by-room advice, coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And speaking of painting, preparation is really key to getting your paint to go on properly and most importantly, to stay on. We’re going to share those steps, coming up.

    TOM: And also ahead, if you’ve made a resolution to take more time to enjoy the little pleasures, we’ve got a great idea for you. How about creating a hobby room so you can focus on the pastime you’ve always wanted to take on? Wondering how that could fit into your footprint? We’ll tell you exactly where those hidden spaces are, just ahead.

    So give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Deborah in Missouri has a question about energy. What can we do for you?

    DEBORAH: I have a 1,450-square-foot home and a split-level. And our energy bills are like $350 a month. Trying to figure out, basically, where the hole is and how to patch it up.

    TOM: Is that consistent across the year? Or is that a winter high or a summer high or what?

    DEBORAH: It seems to be a – well, definitely a summer high. We just got through the summer. We’re pretty consistent throughout those three months. In the winter, we usually – most years it’s been around 250 to 300.

    TOM: You know, your question is a good one, because a lot of people try to figure out where their home is using the most energy. So I have a couple of suggestions for you. One of which is to contact your local utility company and find out if they have the ability to do an energy audit of your home.

    Some utility companies, as part of their licensing requirements, will offer services like this for a small fee or sometimes free, where they’ll have an energy auditor come to your house and look at all of the ways your home is using energy and give you some advice on where you should be concentrating on your improvements.

    Short of that, we can always – only talk sort of generically. But the number-one place you should be trying to make more efficient would be your attic, because most homes don’t have enough insulation. And if you popped your head up in your attic, what we would want you to see is 15 to 20 inches of fluffy insulation. If you don’t see that, then that’s the first place where you’re wasting a lot of energy.

    DEBORAH: Yeah, that sounds great. Thanks for the resources.

    LESLIE: Lloyd in Missouri is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you with your project?

    LLOYD: I have a 58-year-old house and we’ll put in rental. And the floors are solid-oak hardwood floors. They’re not particularly worn but the finish, in places, is worn off. And I had carpet on it for a while and thought I would see if there was a good, economic way of finishing those without all the big sanders and all that stuff.

    TOM: So here’s what you have to do: you do have to do some amount of sanding here. Now, there’s – I would say there’s two levels of this. If you want to sand the floor but maybe you want to do it yourself, there’s a machine that you can rent called a U-Sand Machine. The initial U-Sand. You Google it, you’ll see what I mean. It’s basically a sander that has four vibrating discs under sort of a housing. And the reason I like this machine is you can’t really screw it up. You can leave the thing going in one spot and you’re not going to ruin the floor.

    With the big floor sanders – the belt sanders – if you sneeze while using one of these things, you’re going to tear out part of your floor. It just – it really takes a lot of skill and practice to use it. So, that would take off the surface or a good portion of the old finish, which is good. And in the areas where it’s worn through, it’ll sand just enough of that to let a new finish take hold.

    The other way you can do this – and your floor may be too worn for this but you can rent a floor-waxing machine, like the commercial kind with the spinning wheel, but you put a sanding screen on that instead of a buffing pad. And then you run the sanding screen over the whole floor and it does the same thing. It takes a little bit of that finish off, kind of cleans it up, gets it ready for the new finish.

    So, either way, you’ve got to sand the floor. And if you want to do it yourself, those are your two options. If you don’t want to do it yourself, by all means hire a pro to sand it. They’ll come in with a belt sander and they’ll be done in two hours and you’ll be very happy.

    Now, in terms of finishing it, you’re going to want to use an oil-based polyurethane – good-quality polyurethane – and then kind of work your way out. You brush – you use a brush on the corners and on the walls. And then you can use what’s called a “lambswool applicator,” which kind of looks like a wet mop, to put on the rest of the finish, work your way out the door and don’t come back for four or five hours. And do that twice and you’ll be good to go.

    LLOYD: Well, I appreciate your help.

    TOM: Well, you’re welcome, Lloyd. Good luck with that project. I’m sure your floors are going to look great.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, if you’re like most Americans, now is the time you might be thinking about the changes you’d most like to make for the new year ahead. But whether it’s losing weight, getting organized or making more money, your house can help you keep those New Year’s resolutions. We’ll tell you how, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: So, I figure about this time, you’re thinking about maybe those New Year’s resolutions that you’d like to tackle. And most people have resolutions. And it usually includes stuff like this: make more money, stay on a budget, lose weight, get in shape, eat better. The way I look at this, Leslie, you can do all of that with your house.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Alright. Let’s talk about losing weight. You’re not going to make your house skinnier and you certainly don’t want to make your house smaller but let’s talk about it as a clutter situation, you guys. You know, crowded spaces are just hard to work with, so clean up the rooms, get organized. That’s really the best way to make your house lose weight, so to speak.

    TOM: Now, if you want to make more money, then I say be careful about the projects you take on because some projects, they give you a great return on investment, right? Bathroom upgrades, kitchen upgrades, decks. Decks are huge. Patios, adding outdoor living space can give you a very solid return on investment when it comes time to sell your house. Other projects? Maybe that very unique decorating scheme, perhaps, that you like but maybe no one else does? Enjoy it but don’t expect to make money on it.

    LESLIE: That’s true. Now, if you want to stay on a budget – because money is always a big topic this time of year – you want to try to keep your house from costing more next year, so lower your energy usage. Small fix-ups like insulation, caulking around your windows, sealing gaps around outlets and light switches on the exterior walls, that can dramatically reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home. And that’s going to save some bucks.

    TOM: Now, finally, get in shape. In fact, we’re talking about your house, not you, so you can go back to sitting on the couch. But we’re talking about lack of maintenance, right? It’s the number-one cause of deterioration in homes today. So even if you don’t have a lot of time for taking care of your house, take on those small maintenance jobs. Small projects can sometimes save thousands of dollars by avoiding big headaches that happen later on. Make a little bit of a list.

    We’ve got a list on our website, at, of 30 projects you can do in under 30 minutes. I mean there’s lot of projects like that. Take one small one, accomplish it, bathe in the glory of having gotten that done by yourself and then you can add on from there. And bottom line is that you take care of your house and it can take care of you, including helping to satisfy all of those New Year’s resolutions.

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

    RICHARD: Well, what I’ve got is an older house. And in the bathroom, where the faucet comes out of the system, there’s a stopper there that engages the shower, alright? When you – it’s worn out. And I went to try to change that spout but I put a large [pipe thing] (ph) on it and it didn’t move very good. And I was afraid that behind the system there is copper pipe. And I was afraid to pinch that pipe and cause a leak behind the wall, so I quit. So, I don’t know – do I have to tear the wall open on the backside to get a hold of it so I can do that?

    TOM: That’s the way the job’s usually done, yes. What’s on the backside? Does it happen to be a closet or something like that where you don’t care so much what it looks like?

    RICHARD: Well, no. It’s an insert where the toilet is.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    RICHARD: But it’s just a small, little tag wall there. And I was wondering if I had to take the sheetrock off of that to get – make sure I had a firm grip on that before I …

    TOM: Working from an open stud bay like that is really the best way to do this. And anything else is going to leave you open to leaks and probably not a happy end to this project. So, I think removing the wall and cutting it open and properly re-seaming is probably the best way to go.

    RICHARD: That settles that in my mind. And I thank you very much.

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

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

    LINDA: The house that we live in was built in ‘53. It’s ours and we’ve paid it off and trying to keep – upkeep it and keep it in good shape. But in between the dining room and the living room, apparently before we purchased it, there was a wall that had been removed. And the only sign is on the ceiling, where the wall was removed, there’s a double crack on each side of a 2×4 is what it looks like, about that width in the drywall.

    And I’ve tried – it’s a textured ceiling they did. We actually had knockdown put on it. But it – we can’t fill the crack. We’ve tried to use drywall mud. It just returns. What can I do to fix this crack?

    TOM: So this was opposite both sides of a wall that was torn out? So, they must have slipped in some drywall to patch it? Is that what you’re thinking?

    LINDA: Maybe, maybe.

    TOM: So that’s not the best way to fix that sort of thing. You can’t put a narrow strip in there and have it ever look like a normal ceiling. If you’ve got a hole like that where you pull the wall out, what you have to do is cut a bigger piece of drywall out, maybe about a foot or two on each side of it. And you do that right on the edge where the floor joists are – the ceiling joists are – in this case. Then you have a bigger seam to tape and spackle and secure. And if it’s done well, then you’re never going to see it again.
    So you putting all of this spackle on it time and time again, over all of this period of time, has probably made more of a mess and it’s kind of hard to fix at this point. So what I would tell you to do is to cut out that whole repair, put a bigger piece of drywall in, tape it, spackle it, prime the whole ceiling and then repaint the whole ceiling. And that would be the one to do – the way to do this permanently. Otherwise, you’re always going to see that.

    LINDA: OK. Thank you for telling me that.

    LESLIE: Well, now that we are in the new year, nothing says “fresh start” like a new coat of paint. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing your colors, a paint wheel is a really good place to start.

    A paint wheel, a fan deck, whatever you want to call it, you get it from your paint manufacturer that you like to work with. Benjamin Moore, BEHR, Sherwin-Williams, all of them, they have this big, beautiful sort of fan of colors that shows you every color that they make. And it starts with the darkest hue on the bottom and the lightest hue in that one tone. And so you’ll be able to see a color that you like and go all the way through the different tones of it. And that’s really a great way to help you choose your color.

    TOM: Now, speaking of color, if you’re nervous about choosing the wrong color, don’t be. There are more surfaces in a room to paint than just walls. A white ceiling can be boring but you could paint a little bit of color over your head and add a very warm touch. Doors and window trim, they don’t have to be white, either. You can use shades of your wall color in a high-gloss paint to kind of make them really pop.

    LESLIE: Now, a good trick of the trade to make sure that you’re happy with your colors is always to sample your paint colors. Now, you can use a board that can be moved around the room and you want to be sure to look at the paint in different lighting. You want to look at both natural lighting and artificial lighting. And you also want to get a sense of what that paint color is going to look like at different times of the day. So you really have to stick with your sample and sort of check it out all the time to make sure you really like it. Once you do, go for it.

    TOM: Yeah. You kind of live with it for a while and it makes a lot of sense.

    888-666-3974. If you’ve got a project on your to-do list, let’s do it together and slide it over and mark it done.

    LESLIE: Martin in Wisconsin is on the line with a question about a load-bearing wall. What’s going on?

    MARTIN: I’ve got a wall between my kitchen and living room that I’d like to open up. And there’s already a doorway there that I’d like to open up and make an open area. And the walls – it’s a main support wall. It’s a structural support wall. I want to take out about 12 – the span would be about 12 feet. There’s a doorway there that’s already 4-foot wide and so about – I’m going to try and open up another 8 foot of it. And I was wondering about, structurally, if it would be possible to put in a micro-limb? I think that’s what they call them.

    TOM: Look, I don’t recommend this project for the faint of heart or inexperienced contractor, because it’s not the kind of job you should be doing as your first foray into home improvement. I can explain to you, conceptually, how it’s done. And let’s assume that you have a bearing wall here and you need to disassemble that wall.

    So, the way it is done, conceptually, is that there is a temporary wall built on both sides of the bearing wall that has to come out. So, basically, you’re building a load-bearing wall on one side of the wall that’s coming out – maybe 6 inches or a foot away – and one wall on the other side. And then once those temporary walls are in place, then and only then do you disassemble the bearing wall.

    And in terms of that laminated beam, yes, once you put that beam in, it’s got to be properly supported. So the ends of the beam have to be sitting on something, like another part of the bearing wall, so that the load is transferred down to your foundation. So, again, it’s really a pretty complicated project and one that has to be done right or the consequences are pretty devastating.

    So, it can be done but it’s a big project and it’s not the kind of project I would recommend you tackle unless you have a lot more experience than it sounds like you have.

    MARTIN: Yeah. That’s kind of my thought about it. I just thought I would reach out to you guys.

    TOM: Alright. Well, I think you’re on the right path now. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Fran in Tennessee is on the line and her French door has developed rot. What is going on?

    FRAN: Well, we live in a 150-year-old house. And over the years, as we moved in here, we’ve done repairs and modernized some things. And we had a French door put in the dining room. It’s covered in a metal flashing around the outside. But we didn’t realize, at the outset, that it was a composite door. And over the years, it has developed – rain rot is the only thing I can – you know, it has just fallen away at the bottom, about 6 to 8 inches up. We covered the door with a 4×8 piece of plywood to keep rain off of it but we don’t know what to do. Is it repairable or would it be best just to replace the entire door?

    TOM: This is screaming replacement to me.

    FRAN: I was afraid you were going to say that.

    TOM: Well, listen, you’ve already covered it with a sheet of plywood. So I mean if you called me and you said, “Listen, I’ve got a hole in my door because it’s rotted out and it’s a few inches from the bottom,” I would tell you there’s different materials that you can use to fill those rotted holes back in with that are sort of like packing a cavity. There’s two-part epoxy patching materials, you mix them together, you put it in there, you sand it and then you can prime it and paint it. You can use auto-body putty for stuff like that, too. And you press it in there, let it dry. Again, sand it, paint it and you’re good to go.

    But at this point, it sounds to me like this door has given you all the years of service it has to offer and I would think about getting a new door. And I would tell you specifically, Fran, to look at the new fiberglass entry doors that are out there, because they could look like a painted door or they could look like a beautiful, wood door. There’s lots of qualities of that fiberglass today where it looks pretty darn good. And the nice thing about it is it’s completely impervious to water and it’s five or six times more energy-efficient than wood.

    FRAN: It does and thank you for talking with me. I appreciate it.

    TOM: I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Scott in North Dakota is on the line with a water-heater question. What’s going on?

    SCOTT: I’ve got a cabin that we’re going to remodel and I was wondering if it’s better to go with a tankless water heater or a tank one, because we’ve got – well, we’ve got to drain everything in the winter. But I was kind of looking online and stuff and what the difference between them. And the tankless ones only raise at a certain amount of temperature. And up here, the groundwater is usually about 40 degrees, so …

    TOM: So, first of all, we’re talking about an electric water heater versus an electric tankless?

    SCOTT: Correct. Yep, yep.

    TOM: Yep. I would definitely go with an electric water heater. And I would install that water heater on a timer so that you can control when it comes on and off. Because especially being a vacation property, you’re not going to want that on in the middle of the day. You’re probably going to want to have it come on for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. And that will save you a lot of cost.

    SCOTT: Well, great. That answered a lot of questions.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Painting is a hard enough project to get done but staring days later at a painted surface that’s all bubbled up is a major bummer. Now, there are definitely some notoriously difficult surfaces to paint but it can be done with the right approach. We’re going to share the tips and tricks for success, next.

    JOE: Hi, this is Joe Namath. And if you want to move the ball on your home improvement projects, listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, here’s an example of a quick home improvement project you might consider this weekend – it’s one that I actually made to my house recently – and that is to replace the house numbers. Now, in our case, we were doing some exterior painting, so I figured why not. But I was thinking that it’s a really good idea to take an objective look at what you’ve got on your house now, because over the years it could become faded. And it occurred to me that these numbers don’t only need to be seen by people that want to visit you but most importantly, they need to be visible by emergency personnel or emergency responders that have to get to your house in the event that happens.

    So make sure your house numbers are big and bold and bright and visible from the street. And if you live in a home that has a long driveway that comes in, of course that same advice applies to out near the street at the mailbox. Make sure your house can be seen. Replacing those numbers is a really simple, quick project that can ensure your safety.

    LESLIE: Leroy in Delaware is on the line with a flooring question. What can we do for you?

    LEROY: I have a question on the laminated flooring. Number one is: is it a solid color all the way through? And number two, where I would be using this has chairs with rollers on them. And I was wondering if you thought that would hold up with it being the chairs had rollers on them.

    TOM: Alright. So, first of all, is this solid color all the way through? No, that’s not the way laminate floors work. So the way laminate floors work is you have different types of composite materials and then you have sort of the color layer, which is essentially sort of a photograph. And then you have the wear layer on top of that, which can be textured so it could look like stone or feel like stone, I should say, or wood boards.

    Now, this textured sort of wear-layer surface, it’s available in different levels of durability. Some floors are designed for light use, some floors are designed for commercial use. If you buy a tougher floor, one of the better-quality floors that’s designed for the heavier use, I don’t think you can have any trouble with those chairs on the rollers.

    Now, are all the chairs on rollers or is this like a desk-chair situation?

    LEROY: Actually, it’s a kitchen table with four chairs and rollers on them.

    TOM: Oh, OK, alright. Yeah, I think that a laminate floor is a good choice for that. But like I said, you’ve got to buy a good-quality one.

    LEROY: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, paint is really a remarkable material. It’s cheap, anyone can use it and it completely transforms whatever it is you’re applying it to. But what if you can’t get the darn stuff to stick?

    TOM: Well, there are definitely some notoriously difficult surfaces to paint but it can be done with a right approach. Here to give us the tips and tricks for success is This Old House host Kevin O’Connor.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be back.

    TOM: So let’s start with one that a lot of people are probably wondering about: vinyl siding. If I want to give my vinyl siding a new look, how do I get the paint to adhere to it?

    KEVIN: It’s a good question. So vinyl is the most used siding in the country. And people love it. It’s known for its low maintenance. It can look pretty good but it is prone to fading, so it does make sense that people want to sort of freshen it up and give it a new look. It’s been traditionally hard to paint vinyl siding because it expands and contracts so much. It’s a thin material, heats up, cools down. Expansion and contraction is always a problem when you’re painting surfaces.

    So, you definitely want to start with a latex paint. That’s going to be flexible so that it can move with the vinyl as it expands and contracts. And you also want to check with the manufacturer, because some companies will void the warranty if you go and you paint their siding.

    LESLIE: Now, are there any pointers on color because it does expand and contract so much? Do you want to make sure that it doesn’t absorb to much heat with a dark color or …?

    KEVIN: That’s a good point. Dark colors will absorb more heat, so avoid them if you can. But really, the number-one trick is to try to pick a color that is similar or to your point, a little lighter than the original color. You don’t want to have to do too much to hide the color underneath and you want to sort of just bring up and refresh that paint.

    TOM: Let’s talk about another common home improvement product that sits around a lot and gets pretty nasty looking: plastic lawn furniture, right? Those chairs sit out there, they get beat by the sun. Some people don’t take them in in the winter. They get covered with mildew and algae. Is that a surface that we can freshen up with paint?

    KEVIN: Yeah. I mean it is and you would start the same way with this as you would with a vinyl siding, which is you want to make sure that you clean it thoroughly. And then you let it dry thoroughly, as well. And when it comes to the lawn furniture, spray paint is probably the best way to go. Spray-paint technology has come a long way. They’ve got some really good formulas: formulas that will actually bond to plastic. So start with that.

    And then in terms of technique, think about holding the can 6 to 8 inches from the surface. Use a sweeping, side-to-side motion and think about a little bit of overlap between your passes. And also think about using multiple coats.

    LESLIE: Now, what about a cast-iron tub? You know, so many people – tubs get really worn out, you get rust spots for some – just situations in the tub that just don’t look good. Can you refinish them?

    KEVIN: Yeah. We have refinished on the plot – last three projects, I would say, we have taken old, beautiful, claw-foot tubs, cast-iron tubs and we have refinished them to great effect. However, this is one situation where I would not recommend that a homeowner do it themselves. The process of doing this properly includes a lot of really nasty chemicals so that you can strip away a lot of the surface and etch it. And then the new paints that you put on, you need spray boost, great ventilation, lots of protective gear. Better off left to the pros.

    TOM: Good advice. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: My pleasure to be here. Great to see you guys.

    LESLIE: You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating. Make comfort personal.

    Up next, with all the time we spend inside, winter is a great time to pick up a hobby. But do you have the space? Well, you just might. We’ve got tips to help you find a dedicated hobby space, after this.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. And Happy New Year to all. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We’d love to talk with you about the projects on your to-do list. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dana in Georgia is on the line with a mold question. How can we help you?

    DANA: I’m in Santa, Georgia, where it’s already hot and humid and we’re already fighting mold a lot of the time during the warmer months. Right after Hurricane Matthew, it just seems to go on turbo where I’m having to clean it off all the wood furniture and some of the walls. And it’s even coming out of – or was coming out of the vents from the A/C heating unit. So I just replaced those vents rather than try to clean them. And my question really is – is there anything else I should be doing and should I be concerned about my kid’s health because of it coming out of the vents?

    TOM: Well, not even it coming out of the vents. The fact that you’ve got this growing on the walls and furniture is a pretty serious problem. You need – you have the scope of a problem where you need actual professional-remediation help because it’s so prevalent. The problem is that these – some types of molds that kids and adults can have allergic reactions to. They produce mycotoxins that can get out and make some people really sick.

    I’ve known folks over the years who had – in fact, I had someone very close to me that I diagnosed this for because she had kids that had a really bad year of illness. And we noticed that when they went on vacation – they went away for a month over the holidays and they felt great. And they came back and they felt lousy.

    So it all turned out to be mold that actually got into the attic of this house, that was finding its way back into the living space through holes around where the lights came through the ceiling. And so, in this case, all of the insulation actually had to be taken out of the attic and the whole thing had to be sprayed and cleaned and then put all back together again.

    So, if you’ve got that much mold in the house, you’ve got to get to the bottom of it. And I really think you need some professional help. But what you want is someone who does occupational safety and health as a living, as a profession. You don’t want the latest Johnny-come-lately mold-remediator guy that has no professional training. You want somebody who really has some skills and certifications, from a consultancy basis, to get to the bottom of this.

    I’m going to recommend a website and that website is – May, like the month – You will find books on that website by Jeff May, who is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met about mold and indoor-air quality. He has an interesting backstory. He was very, very allergic to mold and it led him to a whole new course of study. He’s written three or four books on mold, including some written for the Johns Hopkins University press.

    So I think that would be a good source of information for you. And he’s not from your area but he may be able to recommend to you some contractors in that particular area, some consultants in that area that he knows professionally. But that’s a good source for you to kind of get to the bottom of this, OK?

    DANA: Great. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you ever thought it’d be nice to have a space in your home dedicated to a workshop, a sewing room or an art studio or even any other hobby, now is a great time to get started with basic planning.

    TOM: Yep. And finding space is usually the first step. But if you’re short on it, get creative. For example, think about how you might take advantage of a closet space with the doors removed. I did just that when I needed a little space to do some recording in my house. I actually opened up a closet, took out all the shelves, gutted all the clothes, et cetera, put some foam padding on the wall. And all of a sudden, I had a small recording studio at home because that was kind of my hobby. But there is space in places like that. You’ve just got to look for it.

    Think about converting, perhaps, a small section of a basement or a garage or maybe just parsing out space in a bigger room in your home that maybe doesn’t get used every single day. I mean just because it’s called the “dining room” doesn’t mean you have to use it that way, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah. That’s true. You really need to think outside of the box as what the usage is of the different spaces in your home. Now, when planning your room, you want to think about the three most important areas of that space. For example, if you’re creating a sewing room, your key areas are going to be your cutting table, your sewing area and an ironing board.

    TOM: Yep. And let’s say you’re a woodworker, it might be the table saw and the workbench. So design that hobby room so that you can maintain a short distance between those key workstations in the room and you will be very pleased with the results.

    888-666-3974. We’d like to help you with that project and many more. Give us a call, right now, and help yourself, first, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ronnie in Maryland is on the line and has a question about a paintsicle (ph): you know, when a gallon of paint freezes and you wonder if you can still use it.

    Welcome, Ronnie. How can we help you?

    RONNIE: Yes. I was wondering if that’s – I have some latex paint. It was out in the garage. Live in that – in part of Maryland here where things freeze up. I was wondering if the paint was still good when it’s frozen. And if it is frozen, how I find out if it was frozen or not.

    LESLIE: Alright. So is it currently frozen? Do you know? Has it been frozen only once or have you had it like a year or two and it’s probably frozen a couple of times?

    RONNIE: I have no idea how old it is. It was actually – I bought a house and there were just lots of gallons of leftover paints that were in the garage.

    TOM: You not only have frozen paint, you have old, frozen paint that could have had a long history to it. The short answer is a definite maybe.

    I think that if you asked the manufacturers, Leslie, they’d say no. But I think we’ve all used some frozen paint before.

    RONNIE: They’re brand-new cans of paint I opened up. I could see that they’re separated a little bit but the – that’s why I didn’t know if they were actually good or if they were bad. If I mixed them back up they were good or …?

    LESLIE: Well, here’s the deal. I would start by bringing the paint indoors. Let it get to room temperature and then stir it. If it stirs and starts to go creamy, then it’s probably OK. If it still looks lumpy, then I’d say no. The issue is that latex paint has a large quantity of water in it. So, obviously, that’s going to freeze and cause things to separate. And then you might end up with problems with adhesion and peeling and perhaps color not matching.

    RONNIE: That’s why I thought if there was any lumpy stuff that might – then I could run it through a cheesecloth or something like that.

    LESLIE: No, you wouldn’t want to. If it’s lumpy or cottage-cheesy looking in any kind of way, that just means that all of the additives that cause it to adhere have completely separated and are not sort of going back into the paint itself. So I wouldn’t strain it off, because then it’s just truly not going to stick.

    So if it’s separating like that, chuck it. But if you mix it and it looks creamy and it seems OK, I’d give it a go.

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

    LESLIE: Still to come, if your heating system is chugging along but your house still stays cold, the problem might not be the furnace. We’ll explain, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: Today’s Money Pit is presented by Mr. Beams. Lighting solutions that can be installed in five minutes. No wires, no electrician, no kidding. Find Mr. Beams lights at major retailers and learn more at

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, Leslie, let’s face it: bathrooms can be pretty smelly places sometimes but not all of those smells originate from the humans that are using them.

    LESLIE: I mean truly, we have a sink at home. It’s actually two sinks. And I know you and I have talked about this before and when you turn one on, the other one will back up. And when they drain down, it smells horrible. But you’re right. It’s something that’s known as biogas and it’s actually an easy fix.

    TOM: Yeah. That’s right. It’s basically bacteria that grows in the drain lines of the sink. And the solution is to fill the sink with hot water until it reaches the overflow. Then slowly let it down to a trickle so it kind of runs over the overflow but not the sink itself. Once it’s all set, then add a couple of cups of bleach to the water. That bleach is going to run down the overflow channel and kill any bacteria it finds. Then after a few minutes, you can add another cup or two of bleach and let the sink drain out very slowly so it’ll do the same for that waste line under the sink. And you should be odor-free.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’re going to jump into some e-mails. I’ve got one here from Jake who writes: “I have a 1942 Cape Cod-style home with forced air. My cold-air return vents all run on the exterior walls of my house. Since the weather has gotten cold, I’ve noticed that I’m getting a lot of cold air and drafts coming from the returns when my heat is not on. I’ve taken the return covers off and I can see the old wood siding on the exterior of my house. Is there a way that I can insulate the vents or seal them up so I don’t get these drafts?”

    TOM: Well, the problem is not the ducts; it’s the lack of insulation around the ducts. So, you might need to consider going with a blown-in insulation or at least sealing those seams around the register. I think you could probably do this with a polyurethane foam that is sold in the cans or the spray cans.

    But I would buy one that is designed for windows and doors. And the reason is this: if you buy the other type of spray foam, then it expands and it gets really hard. And if you put too much in that space, it’ll actually push the wall right off of the studs. But if you use the one that’s designed for windows and doors, when it dries, it sort of remains squishy and it’s not – and it will seal but it’s not going to push things sort of out of whack.

    I think that’s probably your best option, Jake.

    LESLIE: Yeah. It really is going to make a huge difference. You’re right: it’s just getting all that cold air and then the duct is cold and it’s just not going to work for you.

    Alright. Now, I’ve got a post here from Keloboe who writes: “We own a house with an old oil furnace that works. The house was built in the 60s and has industrial blowers that are obsolete. They continuously break and parts are impossible to find. We had the A/C unit replaced in 2010 and a contractor said he could replace the oil furnace with a heat pump and use the existing ductwork. Would we be better served to replace the furnace or the blowers and is there anything comparable to them?”

    TOM: Well, one thing that concerns me and that is if you’re used to oil heat and now you’re going to switch to a heat pump, you are not going to be happy. Because the air that comes out of a ducted oil furnace is going to be at about 140 degrees. And the air that comes out of a heat-pump system is going to be at about 100-110 degrees. It will still warm the house but I think you’re definitely going to have some comfort issues.

    You’ve got a really old furnace there. It might just be time for a new one. And while I’m not a big fan of oil, I don’t necessarily think I would ever switch out of it to go to a heat pump. So I think you should stay with the fuel but perhaps just upgrade that furnace.

    LESLIE: And it’s really the most straightforward solution because the ducting can stay the same. And that’s going to save you a lot of money and make everything far more efficient.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this first weekend of the new year with us. We hope we’ve given you some ideas and inspiration on projects you’d like to get done in your home this coming year. Remember, we will be here to help you at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question to our brand-spanking-new website 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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