Staying Safe from Summer Ticks

  • 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: What are you working on this fine summer weekend? If it’s your house, you’re in exactly the right place. We’re here to help you get those jobs done. Whether it’s a job you’re doing now or one you want to plan for the future, give us a call and we will help you out. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    And now that we are here in the hottest part of the summer – I guess we call this the “dog days of summer” – we’re also at the peak season for ticks. That’s right. Those ticks can carry some pretty dangerous disease and we’re going to share the surprising way that ticks can grab hold of anyone passing by and how to keep them off for good.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s been a bad summer. When we were at my mom’s at the beginning of the summer, early July, I climbed behind the house to take the covers off the air conditioning. And I had about five on my pant leg. And luckily, I had pants on.

    TOM: It’s amazing, right?

    LESLIE: But I mean five on my pant leg. And then the next day, I noticed a different spot on Henry’s arm and I was like, “What’s on your arm?” And he’s like, “Ugh, it’s a tick.” You know, it’s crazy. And it’s amazing how you really do know every speck and spot on your child that when something’s there, you’re like, “That’s new.”

    Also ahead, guys, this hour, when it comes to your outdoor-living spaces, what’s old is new again. But this time, you’re getting an energy-saving benefit. I’m talking about awnings. They’re so beautiful, they’re easy to operate today and they can reduce your cooling bills by as much as 15 percent.

    TOM: And also, a front door is more than just an entry, it’s a focal point for the first impression a visitor gets. And if it’s done well, it can very significantly add to the perceived value of your home. We’re going to have tips on sprucing up or adding a new front door so it delivers more than just protection from the elements.

    LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you are working on. There’s still a few weeks left of this summer season to enjoy. So get out there and enjoy it and let us help you do that. Give us a call anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Gene in Tennessee is up with a roofing problem. Tell us what’s going on.

    GENE: About 12 years ago, I built me a screened-in porch on my house. I’ve got a ranch-type house.

    TOM: OK.

    GENE: And I used the metal clips – the little hangers – to hang my rafters. And I went in beside of my rafters coming off my existing house and it only gives me a 1-inch drop per foot. And I had a little trouble with it leaking and so I had the regular asphalt shingles put on and it leaks.

    So, when I had my new roof put on about two years ago, I – seven years ago, I roofed the house and they recommended I put a rubber roof on a 10×30 addition to my house so the water would run off regular. And here, recently, about two years ago, I had one of the new shingles put on my roof. And I noticed that while I was up there, that the rubber seems to be kindly breaking down a little.

    TOM: OK. So, a couple of things. First of all, you have a low-slope roof. You originally had asphalt shingles on that, which was a mistake because asphalt shingles, you really need at least a 3:12 pitch to put those on. If you’ve got a 1:12 pitch, that’s not enough.

    So now you replaced that with a rubber roof, which was the right thing to do. But now you’re seeing the rubber roof start to crack. So your question is: “How do I stop that? How do I protect it? How do I preserve it?” Correct?

    GENE: Yeah, well, I want to add a few more. It was guaranteed 10 years but it’s about 7 years old now and I want to make it last a little longer, yeah. Some kind of coating?

    TOM: So what you want is simply roof paint. Now, roof paint is a very specialized type of paint. It’s usually aluminum in color and sometimes they call it “fibrous aluminum.” And what it does, it has a high degree of UV reflectivity, so it reflects the UV from the sun back out again. And that keeps the roof cooler and makes it last longer.

    So, I would definitely give it a coat of roof paint. And if you go to a home center or a roofing-supply center and look for roof paint, you shouldn’t have any problem finding it. It’s very, very specialized. And we’re not talking about the kind of paint you put on your walls; it’s a roofing product. OK?

    GENE: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Della in Iowa is on the line with an attic-fan question. How can we help you?

    DELLA: My husband and I – our attic fan went out.

    TOM: OK.

    DELLA: And we don’t know the first thing about attic fans.

    TOM: OK. Do you have central air conditioning, Della?

    DELLA: Yes, we do.

    TOM: OK. How old is your house?

    DELLA: It’s like 35 years old, 40 maybe.

    TOM: And what kinds of roof vents do you have?

    DELLA: We have a slanted – all one roof. It goes straight down. We just have a little portion of the home that’s attic. We have the – it doesn’t have any attic above the living room and the dining-room area.

    TOM: Alright. Because generally, we don’t recommend attic fans for homes that have central air conditioning and here’s why: because when the attic fan operates, it depressurizes the attic and then it draws air from inside the house and up into the attic and exhausts it. So what that does is kind of robs some of your air conditioning, because most attic fans are overpowered for the attic spaces that they’re in.

    A better approach is just to use passive vents where you have, say, ridge vents that go down the peak of the roof and soffit vents that …

    DELLA: We have that.

    TOM: You have that.

    DELLA: We have huge overhang with the little vents all the way around.

    TOM: Then I wouldn’t worry about the attic fan.

    DELLA: A guy – one of the guys says that make sure – see, we have three story – it’s not a real story; it’s like 12, 14 to the upper level. Then we have the basement, first floor and then all of our bedrooms and guest rooms are up on the third level. But we thought it would be cooler to get that hot air out of the attic.

    TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about it. I don’t think you need another attic fan. It sounds like you’ve got exactly what you need to have right now.

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

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

    STUART: Hey. Well, I was calling to ask you about, though – I’ve got the stucco house.

    TOM: OK.

    STUART: One of a kind here in East Atlanta, (inaudible).

    TOM: Alright.

    STUART: But I’m noticing the small cracks and (inaudible), nothing really serious. And it’s specifically in the paint.

    And so we had it painted. About six years ago, they pressure-washed it. Did a really nice prime coat and then two topcoats. It’s about time to repaint it, I think, so question is: is about six years right on repainting? So the – every six years or is there a better strategy so it’d be more complete and protect my stucco?

    TOM: It feels a little light. Six years for an outside paint job seems like it – I’d rather see you try to get eight to ten years out of it. But if it needs paint, it needs paint.

    Now, in terms of the cracks, is the stucco cracking or is it just the paint that’s cracking?

    STUART: Both.

    TOM: OK. So, for the stucco cracks, once you prime the surface and clean the old paint, before you repaint – reprime, in this case – you’re going to want to seal those. If they’re very fine cracks, like under a ½-inch in terms of width …

    STUART: Oh, yeah, they’re small, very small. In width, in terms of width, like 1/8-, 1/16-inch.

    TOM: OK. So you can use a crack sealant. And QUIKRETE makes one that’s designed for stucco repair, that has kind of like a sanded sort of feel to it.

    STUART: Right.

    TOM: And it blends in with the stucco and it’s paintable; it’s an acrylic formula.


    TOM: So get some of the QUIKRETE Stucco Repair. It looks like caulk; it comes in a caulk-like tube. Designed specifically for stucco repair, though, because then you get that sanded formula and it’ll, texture-wise, kind of fit in with the rest of the stucco.

    But make sure you seal up all those cracks because otherwise, if you get water in there, then it expands and causes additional havoc, you know? So just make sure you seal them up first and then repaint the place.

    STUART: Alright. Well, thanks a whole lot. I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to

    TOM: And just ahead, don’t let ticks ruin summer fun. We’re going to tell you how these bugs hitch a ride and how to avoid those bites and the diseases that could follow, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: That’s right. That’s 1-888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Tracy in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a universal-design project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    TRACY: I have a daughter who’s 21 years old and we need some help when it comes to bathing her. We’re looking at doing a bathroom addition onto her room but we don’t even know, really, how to get started. Do we need to consult with an architect on the design advice? She’s homebound, medically fragile, 100-percent disabled and we just are looking at some advice on how to even get started to meet her needs so that we only have to do this one time.

    LESLIE: Is a tub situation easier for you or is a shower?

    TRACY: Probably a shower.

    LESLIE: OK. Because there are the tubs with the doors that open. It depends on how difficult it would be to sort of move her from chair to seated tub position. It just depends on how comfortable you are with the bathing situation, if you want to get in there and get wet.

    But Tom and I have actually done a lot of work with universal design and are quite familiar with some of the processes.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And I do think it’s a good idea to use a certified kitchen-and-bath designer and that’s somebody who is going to be specializing in universal design. You’re going to ask specifically for someone that has that talent, because they’re going to be up-to-speed on the best products that are out there for your particular situation, be able to recommend appropriately and you’re going to get a bathroom that actually looks nice and functions well for you.

    I would not – would not – call a standard remodeling contractor. Because a remodeling contractor will say, “Yeah, I understand. I know what to do.” And you know what? They just don’t, because it’s very specialized.

    In fact, some years ago, Leslie, didn’t the AARP have a special certification program for contractors and architects that were working with universal-design situations?

    LESLIE: They did. It was through the Homebuilders Association. And they had a special course that you could take to become certified as a universal-design specialist. So you might want to start with the AARP’s website, just to find some recommendations of folks in your area who are certified. I believe it was called the CAPS – Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist – Program.

    And even though that’s not necessarily your need, it has similar associations. So you might want to start there as far as just trying to find somebody who can help you find the right products. Because you want something that looks good; you don’t want it to feel like a hospital. You want it to function and you want it to be done right the first time.

    TOM: They have a lot of resources for universal design. Probably the best collection anywhere online is on the AARP website. You just simply click on the Home & Family section and then Home Improvement and you’ll find a lot there.

    They also have a section on livable communities, because the universal design just makes sense for folks of any age, whether you are a senior citizen, whether you are disabled or whether you are just a mom that comes home with her arms full of grocery bags and needs to pop open a door with her elbow because she can’t really turn a door knob. There’s tips like that that really make it so much easier for you to live comfortably in your house, regardless of age or physical condition. So I would start there, as well.

    But make sure you work with people that are experienced in universal design. There are lots and lots of people out there. You’ve just got to find them, OK?

    TRACY: Great. Thank you so much for your help.

    TOM: Well, we are in what is traditionally the hottest part of the summer. And it’s also the most active time of year for many types of insects, including ticks. Now, it’s super important to take steps to make sure those ticks don’t ruin your summer fun, because they very easily could.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Ticks and the Lyme disease that they carry are major threats to your health. So you have to be smart about protecting yourself and your family whenever you’re outdoors.

    Now, you want to always wear long sleeves. You want to tuck your pant cuffs into boots or your socks. I know it looks a little silly but trust me, it really was helpful when I was dealing with the air conditioning, because they just sort of stuck to the outside of my clothing and never actually touched my skin. And you want to make sure that you choose light colors, simply because the ticks are brown and you’ll spot them more easily against a lighter-color fabric. Then make sure that you layer on insect repellant that’s designed to be applied both to your skin and to your clothing. There’s a different type, so you want to make sure that it says that you can do both or apply it in the correct way.

    TOM: And while you’re outdoors, you want to be sure to stay to the center of hiking paths and avoid grassy and marshy areas. The interesting thing about ticks is they don’t jump. Instead, they kind of hang on shrubs and they hang on the edges of tall grass, which you hardly feel as you’re walking by. And that’s kind of what they’re counting on because as you brush by, the tick grabs hold of you. And before it bites, you want to spot it and get rid of it. So always keep that in mind.

    Inspect yourself and your kids once you get home, to make sure that they are not carrying any extra intruders with them.

    LESLIE: Leslie in Tennessee – I feel like I’m talking to myself – welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?

    LESLIE IN TENNESSEE: Yes. I’m an avid listener of your show. We really love it.

    We have a question. After several years of having an outdoor pool and enjoying it but not being able to use it because of the full four seasons here in East Tennessee, we were wanting to add an addition on the house. And we’d love to put a small indoor pool, just like a little lap pool, only about probably half the size of our outdoor pool. And we were wondering what would be the best type of construction.

    Our house is a frame house with brick but you have moisture problems, I know, with an indoor pool. So, for an addition, I want to see if you all had any recommendations for certain materials or a certain type of system to reduce the moisture in the home or how – what would you do?

    TOM: Well, there are dehumidifiers that are designed for pool rooms. I mean they’re similar to whole-house dehumidifiers, where they take out a lot of water from the air. I would definitely isolate the area where the pool is, from the rest of the house, so that the moisture is contained into one space. And that makes it easier for you to manage that level of moisture. You know, it could maybe just be a sliding glass door or something like that that separates it.

    But in terms of the material, you have to be very careful with the venting. For example, in the roof above, you have to choose materials that are mold-resistant in terms of the surface. For example, instead of using paper-faced drywall, you might use fiberglass-faced drywall. That doesn’t grow mold because it’s not organic. So with a few things like that and the right mechanical system – and the pool manufacturers that you’re talking to, the installers, they’ll be very familiar with this because these pools are being put into inside spaces. You’ve got to deal with the evaporation.

    LESLIE IN TENNESSEE: Alright. Well, that’s helpful there. And so, just – so more or less probably a pool manufacturer or a pool place around here would have that recommendation then.

    TOM: Well, they would. And generally going to probably talk about mechanical dehumidification. And then in terms of the construction of the space, just be mindful to choose materials that are not easily going to grow mold and certainly one that’s – materials that are cleanable, OK?

    LESLIE IN TENNESSEE: That’s great. Well, thank you very much and I appreciate you all being on our radio here in Northeast Tennessee.

    TOM: Alright, Leslie. Thank you so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Vernon in Colorado who’s fixing up the bath. How can we help you?

    VERNON: I had heard a while back on your show, if you’re going to recaulk your bathtub, to fill it up with water? But I do not remember if anything was said about removing the water immediately after it was caulked or letting the caulk set up first before you would let the water out. So I wanted to check on that before I started my project with some good kitchen-and-bath caulk.

    LESLIE: Well, absolutely. The tip you heard about filling the tub with water is totally correct. And the reason why we do that is when you fill the tub with water, it sort of weighs down and sits down onto the base a little more.

    So if you fill it with water and then go ahead and caulk, then you let the caulk dry and then you drain the bath. When it sort of empties out, it’s going to lift back up and compress that caulk. So the next time you actually go to take a bath or a shower and you’re standing in there and the tub presses down on the base, it’s going to stretch the caulk and it’s all going to stay in place.

    So that’s really a good trick of the trade, because it keeps it in its place longer and it really lets it adhere to where it needs to be.

    VERNON: Perfect. OK. That’s what I’ll do. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    You can reach us anytime with your home repair or your home improvement question. We are always standing by at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, it’s the dog days of summer. Are your cooling bills out of control? We’re going to have tips to how you can cut cooling costs and add some outdoor style at the same time, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We are presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire that pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

    Judy from Illinois is on the line and is dealing with some changes in a hardwood floor. How can we help you?

    JUDY: Well, I have a little problem in the winter with my hardwood flooring separating. And I can kind of see down in there. And I was wondering about a whole-house humidifier in the winter to keep that from happening, because it’s fine in the summer, what you would suggest.

    TOM: A whole-house humidifier is a good thing when you have forced-air heat that’s gas or oil or propane, because that tends to be extremely dry. I would encourage you to use a very good-quality unit, like an Aprilaire. Because there are a lot of units that don’t work very well and they don’t work very long, especially the kind that spray water into the duct system, as opposed to the Aprilaire unit, which has an evaporator pad where the water sort of trickles down this pad and then it evaporates into the house air that way.

    So, a humidifier can help. If the gaps are particularly large, you can also fill them with jute – j-u-t-e – jute type of rope. And then you could refinish over top of that. Sometimes, if the gaps are really big, that’s a good thing to put in the middle of it because it kind of blends in with the floor and doesn’t show through.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And Tom, sometimes I finish the jute roping before I even lay it in. Like I’ll dip it in a can of the same color of stain and sort of work it in with my fingers. And then once it dries, then I squish it into place with a painter’s knife.

    JUDY: Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, awnings have always been a functional addition to your home’s exterior. But today, they’re gaining popularity as an improvement that can deliver not only energy savings but also increased home value.

    TOM: That’s right. And if you’re thinking that awnings are kind of dreary and dated structures that are made of aluminum and canvas and rusty bolts, well, it turns out that is not true anymore.

    Let’s take a look at these numbers. Awnings extending from windows and doors and patios can actually cut a household’s summer energy bills by as much as 15 percent. And because home cooling costs are so much higher than the cost of energy-efficient lighting, those savings are not undone by the need to turn on an additional light or two to make up for any loss of natural light.

    LESLIE: Even more, fabric awnings can be beautiful. But today, they’re high-tech.

    Now, computerized awning systems feature light sensors and wind-speed devices that will measure that wind speed and really look at weather conditions, to allow those awnings to extend and retract according to what’s happening in your local area with the weather. And the awnings can also increase your living space by turning those outdoor areas that are sort of exposed into protected living spaces. And that adds to your home’s value and resale appeal.

    TOM: Yep. Those are all good points.

    Now, if you’re thinking about this investment for your house, you want to really consider a few questions beforehand.

    First up, what’s the goal? Is it an aesthetic goal or is it a function goal? If energy savings is what you’re going for, then you might want to choose a lighter color for your awning so it ultimately blocks and reflects all of that sunlight. You also want to decide whether they should be stationary or retractable. Now, retractable awnings can be extended either manually or with a motor.

    And as Leslie – as you were saying, that could happen automatically, as well, because many are computerized. Of course, they’re going to be more expensive. But if that’s not what you need, you can just go with a stationary awning.

    And lastly, you want to choose the best material. You really have two choices: cotton canvas, which is kind of that classic look – but that material generally doesn’t hold up over years very well or retain its shape – or you can go with acrylic-coated polyester, which is a synthetic product that’s stretch-resistant and weatherproof.

    So, lots of choices, lots of options. But I’ll tell you, they are more beautiful than ever and they can really save you some money on the energy and be super easy and convenient to operate. So, think about it.

    Margaret in Virginia is next on The Money Pit. How can we help you, Margaret?

    MARGARET: I have an old house. Part of it built Civil War era.

    TOM: OK.

    MARGARET: The floors in the oldest part are pine and they’re about – 2 of the boards are about 2½ inches wide. In the newer part, the boards of the floor are oak and they’re more narrow. I want to know how to safely clean them and keep them protected.

    TOM: There’s a product called Trewax, which is perfect for this particular application. It’s made by the Beaumont Company. And Trewax has been around for many, many, many, many years. And it’s actually a natural cleaner for hardwood floors. So you can find that at retailers across the country. You could find that online.

    But look for Trewax Natural Floor Cleaner. And it’s going to enable you to clean those floors very thoroughly without damaging the wood. And that’s what’s critical, because some of the floor products are not really designed for wood floors. Sometimes there’s too much moisture in them, they don’t evaporate well and they leave too much moisture in the wood. And that causes the wood to swell or stain further.

    So, look up Trewax. It’s not expensive and it works very well.

    MARGARET: OK. So is this a put on and wipe off?

    TOM: Yes.

    MARGARET: OK. That sounds good.

    TOM: Trewax is spelled T-r-e-w-a-x.

    MARGARET: OK. One E. OK. Got it.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, a front door is more than just an entry, it’s a focal point for the first impression that a visitor gets. And if you do it well, it can significantly add to the perceived value of your home.

    TOM: We’re going to have tips for sprucing up or adding a new front entry that’ll deliver more than just protection from the elements, in today’s Pro Project presented by, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    You know, Leslie, I just – earlier, we were talking about ticks.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: My son came back from visiting Australia. He was going to college over there. And while he was living there, he actually stayed in some youth hostels that had bed bugs. So I was very concerned about him bringing a crop of bed bugs back into our home.

    So, I talked to a friend of mine who actually makes a product called the Bed Bug Plug and he told me exactly what to do. And when he got home, we put all of his clothes inside vacuum bags, which are those bags that you kind of hook up to your vacuum and you suck all the air out and they shrink them down to like, I don’t know, a quarter.

    LESLIE: Did they have to stay in there for weeks and weeks?

    TOM: No. We put them in the vacuum bags outside and then we just put the vacuum bags out in the warm summer sun for about a day or two days. And that was it. He said that’ll take care of it. We brought them inside, opened them up, washed all that stinky stuff and he was good to go. No bed bugs have arrived as a result of that process.

    So, good trick of the trade from my friend, Pete, who runs the Bed Bug Plug Company.

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. Well, I’m glad you found a solution but I’m still a little grossed out.

    Bob in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    BOB: I have a friend who has a house with a metal roof on it. Their cell service is pretty severely impacted every time somebody tries to call him on his cell phone when he’s inside his house.

    TOM: First off, your cell is probably always – very frequently, I should say – inside buildings that have metal roofs. Think about it: your church, your post office, your bank, restaurants. There’s a lot of metal roofs out there. And if he’s having a problem just in his own house, I would suspect that the signal is weak to begin with. And I think the solution is a little device called a “cell-phone booster.”

    A booster can be basically plugged into the house – inside of the house – and it can double or triple the range of the phone. So if I was having that issue, I would just get a cell-phone booster, install it in my house – it’s not a very expensive piece of equipment – and solve my problem once and for all.

    BOB: OK. Interesting. Well, I just wondered about that.

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

    Well, a new front door is a great way to add value and style to your home without spending a lot of money. And if that’s a project you’d like to consider, it’s probably best to turn to a pro. We’ve got tips that’ll help you do just that, in today’s Pro Project presented by

    Now, first thing to consider is material. You have lots of options. You can choose simple solid steel, fiberglass, even very ornate wooden doors. And each can have its transoms and coordinating skylights, intricate glasswork. And while it’s easy to save money by opting for a lower cost model, there are definitely pros and cons associated with every type of door you might consider.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First off, let’s talk about a fiberglass entry door. Now, these doors can cost anywhere from $150 to $2,000. There’s extremely ornate models, as well, with sidelights and transoms. And those can run $3,000 or more. So, the price is going to vary depending on how detailed you want that door to be.

    Now, fiberglass, however, is a very popular option that gives you a really realistic wood look, with increased durability and excellent insulation value. And I mean these doors look exactly like the real deal. They are gorgeous. You will never know that it’s not wood until you truly go up to it and touch it and scratch it and you’re like, “Oh, this isn’t wood. It’s way better.” So that’s a fiberglass door.

    TOM: Now, if you need to save some money, steel front doors are still an option. They’re going to range from $200 to maybe $500, though. They can reach maybe even more than that if you’ve got a lot of additions to it, like sidelights and glasswork.

    Steel, though, is the least expensive option but it’s less popular because it has that harsher metallic look. And even if you want that plain steel look, frankly, today fiberglass doors come in those same plain styles. And they still give you more benefit from the reduced maintenance and energy efficiency.

    So I’ve got to say that steel door’s on the way out. Can’t think of a really good reason to use one today. Even if you want a plain, inexpensive-looking door, you can get that with fiberglass and have better energy efficiency.

    LESLIE: Now, if you’re looking for something that has a more traditional look and you don’t mind putting in some work in the form of maintenance, a wood entry door could be the door for you.

    Now, engineered-wood doors cost only about 200 to 500, while solid wood is the most expensive option. And those can range from 500 to 5,000, even more, again depending on the additions, the details, the overall look of the door. That adds to the price.

    Now, wood is the most traditional and customizable option but it is the one that requires active maintenance. You’ve got to keep on it. Otherwise, your door could warp, rot. Your finish is going to fade and wear off. So it does require a lot of work. But in the end, if this is a look that you love, it’s definitely worth it.

    TOM: Now, remember, once you choose the door, there are lots of options in both the sidelights and in the transoms. Now, that’s that feature on top of the door. It’s usually that glass, arched feature. These can add, though, a lot of money in terms of cost but they do really add, as well, to the curb appeal. Which, in fact, according to one major study, a nice, new door can actually add as much as about 24,000 bucks to the perceived value of your home. So it’s a pretty significant improvement that delivers a lot more than what it costs.

    LESLIE: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, compare prices, 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: Going out to Wisconsin, right now, where Beth is dealing with a stinky refrigerator.

    Beth, you’ve tried everything. What’s going on?

    BETH: I’ve had a stinkiness for about a month now. I keep washing it down and the stink still stays. I put baking soda in it. Nothing’s getting rid of it. I was wondering if mold could grow in the walls of the refrigerator or if there’s some sort of filter in there or …

    TOM: Well, bacteria can certainly grow. And sometimes when – especially if you’ve had a power failure or if a refrigerator sits outside and it kind of gets damp and moist, you get bacteria that will grow in the foam that’s in the wall or the insulation that’s in the wall. If the insulation got damp, that could be causing it.

    The one suggestion that I might have for you, if you want to try this one more time, is to take everything out and clean the whole thing down with oxygenated bleach. So not just a simple kitchen spray but true, oxygenated bleach because that has the best chance of killing any bacteria. But the problem, again, is if the bacteria is in the insulation, you’re not going to get to that. So, I would give it a good cleaning with oxygenated bleach and see if that will solve the issue.

    BETH: OK. Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for giving us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

    And just ahead, are you ready to hire a pro for your next big home remodeling project but you don’t really know what questions to ask? We’re going to share tips on what you really need to find out before signing on that dotted line, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. If you’ve got a project that you are thinking about doing in the fall, now would be a great time to start planning that project. Give us a call. We’ll walk you through the steps. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    You can also post your questions online, which is what Vicky did in Hawaii, where it’s summer all the time.

    LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. And the most wonderful place.

    Now, Vicky writes: “We are about to interview two different contractors who are willing to build our house. What are important questions that I should know when meeting with these guys? We already know that they build the whole house and it comes with everything from floors to the roof, even appliances, kitchen, bath, electrical, plumbing, et cetera. I want to be able to compare these bids equally.”

    TOM: Well, Vicky, the first thing that you need to do, if you want to compare any costs with a contractor, is you have to make sure that they are all basically giving you a price based on the exact same product, right? Now, if you went to the store and said, “I want to buy a stove,” but you didn’t say what kind of stove, you know, there’s going to be a stove that’s going to be 400 bucks and there’s going to be a stove that’s 4,000 bucks. But they’re both called a “stove,” right? But they’re a lot different.

    Same thing applies to a house. You need to have a set of specifications developed. And this is where it pays to hire an architect or to work with a designer, so that you’re going to have a set of plans that’s going to say everything that goes into that house: everything from the foundation to the framing, to the insulation, to the faucets, to the sinks, to the appliances.

    Everything would be specced out. Because this way, you eliminate any chance of Builder A selling you the $400 stove and looking like a real bargain to have him build your house and then the other guy threw in the $4,000 stove but didn’t tell you much about it, so you didn’t realize the value you were getting. See what I mean? You’ve got to get down to the nitty gritty on those specifications. It’s so important, even with small projects, to make sure you’re talking apples to apples.

    The next thing that I think I would want to do is to research the reputations of these builders. I would want to find out how many homes they’ve built, where these homes have been built, they in my area or relative to my area. I would try to get in touch with people that are living in these homes: both people that maybe just moved in and people, more importantly, that have been there two, four, six, eight years so you can see how the home has aged. And you can ask questions like, “Has the builder been responsive if you’ve had any issues?” Because it’s going to happen.

    And then then the last thing I will tell you is that builders may offer you a what they call a “homeowners warranty” and it’s even required in some states. And I don’t know if it actually is in Hawaii or not but it is in most other states. If you’re offered a homeowners warranty, you have to understand that the specification standards to which the warranty companies hold the builders are very, very – how do we say? – a little loosey-goosey?

    LESLIE: I do like that term.

    TOM: I remember reading one of these policies once and if there was a molding that had a ¼-inch gap in it in a miter, that was OK. That was supposed to be in the specifications. So it’s stuff like that. And I’ve also known a house where there was a major crack through about a third of the house and because it hadn’t fallen into oblivion, they didn’t consider it a major structural problem.

    So, the warranty companies are mostly there, in my view, to protect the builders, not to protect consumers. So, hopefully, that gives you some direction and you’ll be able to follow that advice and get yourself a fine house at the end of the process.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that project.

    Betty in Alabama writes: “When I flush a toilet, at the end of the refilling process all of the pipes in my house knock against each other. How do I fix this?”

    TOM: Yeah, water hammer. Because the water is running through the pipes and then all of a sudden, it stops. But it has a lot of force because of the way the water sort of moves the pipe forward and that kind of shakes the pipe. So you need to add more attachment points from the pipes to the walls or the floor joists that they’re going by. If you do that, you’ll get rid of that banging pipe.

    And there’s also something called “water hammer arrestor,” which can be at the end of the line. It’s kind of like a shock absorber that will control that, as well.

    LESLIE: Yeah. See, there isn’t something living in the sewer system, underneath your house, that wants in. It’s just the pipes.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending this part of your summer day with us. We hope we’ve given you a few tips and ideas to help you improve your home. If you’ve got questions, you can always reach us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. But for now, the show does continue online at

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2019 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)


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