Stop Chimney Fires | How-to Buy the Perfect Mattress | Thanksgiving Table Décor

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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: We are here to help you take on your home improvement, décor and remodeling projects as we sail towards the end of the year. If there’s a project on your to-do list, you are in exactly the right place because we are here to lend a hand. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement questions at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up on today’s program, are you looking forward to a winter full of enjoying a roaring fireplace? Well, you’d better make sure your chimney is up for the challenge. Way too many chimney fires happening these days. And we’re going to give you some tips to teach you how to keep your home safe and structurally sound.

    LESLIE: And if you’re thinking of updating your bedroom with a new mattress or some new furniture, we’re going to have some tips to make sure your purchase results in a better night’s sleep.

    TOM: And if you’re a serious DIYer and you love the outdoors, chances are that a chainsaw is a tool you already have or one, perhaps, you wish you did when the inevitable big branch, limb or tree comes a falling down. We’re going to highlight a brand-new 18-inch chainsaw that needs no messy gas or oil. It actually runs on a battery and check this out: it can make over 180 cuts on a single charge. So that’s a pretty serious piece of equipment.

    LESLIE: Yeah, seriously. And you get a lot of stuff done with that.

    But first, we want to know what it is you are working on. How can we help you? Give us a call. Thanksgiving is a-knocking on your door. There’s still some time to finish up those projects before the family comes knocking. So give us a call.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s on the line?

    LESLIE: Justin in Rhode Island is on the line with an interesting project at a very old building. How can we help you?

    JUSTIN: I’m calling about a property that I just purchased. It is a church building that I’m in the process of converting to a residential. And I have some questions about a heating system for this building.

    TOM: How can we help?

    JUSTIN: It’s an enormous building. It’s about 2,800 square foot on the top main level and about 2,600 square feet on the bottom. And in the past, there was a coal system with radiators. For about 20 years, there’s actually been no heating in the entire building and I just finished replacing a lot of the damage that was caused by that. And now, with the winter coming, I’m looking to having a heating system as soon as possible, really. And I’ve searched around quite a bit, different HVAC specialists, and they seem a little uncertain about how to heat something this size.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s more of a commercial project than a residential project. Now, the work that you’ve done to repair, do we know if the radiators are in good condition? What kinds of radiators are there?

    JUSTIN: Actually, there’s nothing left currently. The previous owner had removed everything.

    TOM: Oh, so you’ve got nothing.

    JUSTIN: Everything. It’s a pretty blank slate.

    TOM: Do you want to air-condition the home, as well?

    JUSTIN: It’s not necessary, 100 percent, but it wouldn’t be bad to have that, certainly.

    TOM: So, first of all, you have to decide if you want to use a forced-air system or a hot-water system. If you use a forced-air system, you’re going to have a duct system installed that will provide both warm air and cool air in the summer, warm air in the winter. If you want to use a water system – a hot-water baseboard system or a radiator system – then that would cover the heating but not the air-conditioning. Most folks today use forced-air even though it’s a drier heat. It’s less expensive because you’re not kind of putting in two separate systems. So I think that this is completely doable.

    You probably need to speak to – not your sort of your local HVAC residential contractor but somebody who’s more experienced with commercial work to figure out the best way to get the duct system run, to make it look good, put it in such a way where it could be hidden behind ceilings or walls or featured, if that’s the kind of look you’re going for: sort of that industrial look.

    But there’s calculations that are involved to be able to tell, based on this many square feet and more importantly, this many cubic feet that have to be heated or cooled, how many BTUs you need of heat, how many BTUs you need of cooling power to be able to make that building comfortable. And that sounds to me like you just haven’t found the right guy yet.

    JUSTIN: More recently, I’ve been kind of reading into radiant heating from the floor. The forced hot air was the first thought and it’s become somewhat of an issue because of the original tin ceilings, actually, on both levels. And we really didn’t want to disrupt, without having to replace any of that again, by running ductwork through the basement or through the attic. So I was really interested in what your opinion was on radiant-floor heating for something this size.

    TOM: I think radiant-floor heating is fantastic. You can do a lot with PEX piping today – cross-linked polyethylene – and it certainly is an option. But again, it’s a big project. And given the size of your home, it’s going to have to split up into many zones. Are you taking – was it a big, open space that you’re sort of dividing into rooms?

    JUSTIN: The plan is to have, really, just one enormous space. It’s about 70 by 40, roughly. Just a big, open rectangle for the most part.

    TOM: OK. Well, I think radiant-floor heat is a great idea but of course, that doesn’t help you on the air-conditioning side. If it comes to air-conditioning, there’s a type of system called SpacePak, which is a high-velocity, low-volume system where you have very small air-conditioning hoses, so to speak. They’re about 3 inches in diameter that are a lot easier to hide. And they’re very often used in buildings that are design-sensitive, where you don’t want to do a lot of disruption to put in big, old heating ducts.

    JUSTIN: OK. OK, great. OK. Thanks so much for your call.

    TOM: Sounds like a fun project, Justin. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    PHYLLIS: I have a trellis. It’s on – I just have a small porch. And in the wintertime, especially, the wind comes ferociously from the Northwest. And the trellis is put up on – screwed up on 2x4s. And I was wondering – I was going to get a good grade of plastic. Should it be put on the outside or the inside of the trellis?

    LESLIE: Plastic to protect from the wind or plastic to protect the lumber?

    PHYLLIS: No. Plastic so the wind doesn’t blow into my front door. And I had the trellis put up so I could – in the spring, I want to put flowers that vine up there. But for now, I want plastic to keep the wind away from my front door.

    TOM: Do you have a storm door on your front door?

    PHYLLIS: Yes. But it still comes through.

    TOM: Now this trellis, as you describe it, I mean there’s a lot of different types of trellises. Is this a trellis that’s flat on the wall or is this sort of a portico where it kind of goes out and surrounds the door?

    PHYLLIS: No. It’s on the porch. I imagine my porch is probably maybe 4 or 5 feet wide. But it’s on the porch, on the outside of the porch, on 2x4s.

    TOM: I see. So basically – and the porch has a roof, right? So it’s not just a deck?

    PHYLLIS: Right. It’s got the – it’s got a roof, uh-huh.

    TOM: So you kind of want to enclose your porch, so to speak, with this plastic sheeting, is what you’re suggesting.

    PHYLLIS: On that one spot, yes, where the – it’s right there as I go in and out the door.

    TOM: Alright. Well, it – probably not going to be that attractive but I guess what I would do is put it on the outside. Because this way, as the wind blows against it, it’ll press against the trellis and it will be less likely to tear. If you put it on the inside, the wind’s going to go through it and it will constantly pull itself off the trellis. 


    TOM: So I think it’ll be securer if you put it on the outside. And as the wind blows against it, that trellis will help support it.

    PHYLLIS: OK. Fine. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Alfred, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    ALFRED: I’ve got a duplex. And I got this idea from truck-stop restrooms – from the truck-stop showers? I drive a truck. Anyways, my question is – in the showers that I’ve seen or the bathrooms I’ve seen, the floor covering goes up on the sides of the – up to the wall, say, about 3 or 4 inches. So I guess when you spill water or something like that, it doesn’t go down in the floor or whatever. Because the problem I had in my duplex is that someone would run the bathtub over or something will leak and it goes down to my kitchen down below. And I’m redoing that bathroom and I’ve seen this thing in the commercial bathrooms. And I was wondering, is there something that I can do similar? Is it like a liquid epoxy?

    TOM: Yeah. So what they’re doing in that situation is they’re essentially taking the entire floor and turning it into a shower pan. You know how if you have a shower where you have a tile pan and the pan has the drain in it and you step in the shower and the water falls in the floor and then it runs in the drain. So think about that but for the same size, the basically full width of the shower – of the bathroom itself.

    I’ve seen bathrooms in Europe that are done that way. I’ve seen some in the United States but it’s not too common. So, sure, it’s entirely possible to do that but it dramatically raises the cost of the bathroom build-out, which could be weighed against the occasional leak getting through. It’s not a common occurrence for leaks to come through bathrooms, so much so that I would recommend that everyone do that. But if you want to kind of go the extra mile and don’t mind the expense and work, you certainly could build a shower pan that’s the entire width of your bathroom.

    ALFRED: Oh, I gotcha. Do you have an idea what I could – what product I can use that does that? How would I actually do that?

    TOM: So, shower pans can be made of lead or they can be made of fiberglass. They essentially have to be sort of molded in place and then they’re covered with tile.

    ALFRED: OK. That’s how it’s done. I gotcha, I gotcha.

    TOM: It’s like a pool. Think about if you were trying to build a pool, you know? It has to – the base itself has to be absolutely waterproof and then the tile covers it.

    ALFRED: Oh, OK. I gotcha, I gotcha. Awesome, awesome. Well, that’s great. Well, I definitely appreciate your time to answer my question. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Our pleasure, Alfred. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    He brings up a very good point that you can get ideas and inspiration no matter where you are. Here he is, a long-haul trucker and sees this kind of a shower setup in one of the establishments that he stopped in and was thinking about whether he could do it at home. Makes sense.

    LESLIE: Give us a call anytime at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Need new flooring in your kitchen or your bathroom? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job for free.

    Also ahead, are you looking forward to a winter full of roaring fires? Well, you’d better make sure your chimney is ready to lend a hand. We’re going to share tips to protect your home from fire, smoke and carbon monoxide, next.

    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 to help you take on those end-of-year home improvement projects. If it’s on your to-do list, it’s on our to-do list. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by Never worry about overpaying for a job. Just use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others paid for similar projects. It’s all for free at

    LESLIE: Marilyn, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    MARILYN: We are a military family. My husband’s in the military and I’m a stay-at-home mom to five kids and we home-school. And basically, in the past when we’ve moved, we’ve always bought a house and – basically, thinking that if you pay yourself it’s better than paying someone else. However, we’re moving to Illinois this time and the property taxes are quite excruciatingly high. And we’re just trying to decide if it’s better to buy or to rent this time.

    TOM: So do you know how long your husband – well, first of all, thank you for your service and your family’s service. Do you know how long you will be in the Illinois area?

    MARILYN: Well, it could be anywhere from two years to three, four, five. You never know with the military.

    TOM: Because you know what the risk is if you buy a house and then it turns out you have to move again. If you can’t sell it or if you – if the market turns and it ends up not being worth what you paid for it, you could get underwater pretty quick on that. And so, in circumstances when you’re in the military, I think a lot of times it does make sense to rent. Because the other thing is you don’t want to have to move out of there – “Now I need to carry two houses” – maybe find yourself being a distant landlord to a property. Now, these are all difficult scenarios that you really want to avoid.

    Have you spoken with your accountant about the tax consequences of perhaps renting instead of buying? Because there may be some advantages there.

    MARILYN: We haven’t yet because we just found out a couple days ago, so …

    TOM: And you know what? You can always rent first. Renting is a short-term commitment. I understand that moving is a hassle but you could always rent first, get to know the area, get more comfortable and then make a decision later if it looks like you’re going to stay. You don’t have to do it all in once.

    MARILYN: OK. I guess my hesitation with that is that we have five small children. So I’d like to move as little as possible.

    TOM: I would think that – better off selling it now, putting it on the market now. Maybe you’ll find a cooperative buyer who can delay the closing date until you guys are ready to move out. But I wouldn’t want to find you stuck not being able to get a buyer, running out of time, while your family needs to move on to the new location. So I think a bird in a hand is worth two in the bush, as my dad always used to say. So I would try to put that on the market now and hopefully it’ll sell quickly and you’ll be able to take your time getting to the new location.

    And by the way, since I can imagine, with five kids, you find the house just chock full with stuff, the best way to get your house ready to sell – there’s a great article on our website at about this. But conceptually, what we’d like to see you do is to try to declutter as much as possible, make those rooms look big and bright. Because anybody that’s going to buy your house is going to probably move in from, say, another crowded house or crowded apartment. You want to make sure it looks like your stuff can – their stuff can fit in there. And then if you have any rooms that need to be repainted, just choose neutral colors for the same reason. Make it look open and inviting and that will help you sell the property as quickly as possible.

    Well, are you lucky enough to have a fireplace and maybe you’re looking forward to a winter full of roaring fires to follow? That is fantastic but don’t do it unless your chimney is in good shape. The chimneys can cause some serious issues, from fires to carbon-monoxide poisoning, if they are not up to snuff.

    LESLIE: Now, creosote. It’s one of the greatest chimney safety hazards. And what it is, really – it’s that residue that sticks to the inside of your chimney when vapor mixes with condensation and then it all cools. And creosote is hugely flammable. But you can keep it to a minimum with a yearly chimney inspection and regular cleanings.

    TOM: Now, it’s important to clean that chimney once for every cord of wood that’s burned. And if you’re wondering if you need a cleaning, what you could do is also open up the damper above the fireplace and look up inside the flue. Now, you’re going to need a really strong flashlight to do this. But if you cannot see the sides of the clay or the metal liner clearly – and I don’t mean they’re totally coated; I mean they’re just dirty. If you can’t see through that, you are probably overdue for a cleaning.

    LESLIE: Now, the outside of your chimney, there’s some risks there, as well. You want to inspect it from the outside, see if it leans or if it’s separating from your house. If it’s doing either, you’ve got to call a professional to come check it out ASAP. Because loose bricks and cracks, those are easy fixes. But bigger stuff you’ve got to get a pro. And anything that you see loose or cracking, you can replace them or seal them as needed. But definitely take a look from the outside, as well.

    TOM: Now, also keep an eye out for vegetation across the top of the chimney. I can’t tell you how many times, as a professional home inspector, I’ve been up at roofs looking at chimneys and found that there were literally bushes or ivy growing across the top of them.

    Surprisingly, when those seeds get airborne, they stick to the masonry chimney and they get saturated with all that moisture and then they grow. They just grow and grow and grow. So if you’ve got any kind of vegetation on top of the chimney, it’s really important to clear it out. Otherwise, you’d be blocking the flow of exhaust gases and that could be very dangerous. And if your chimney exhausts through a metal vent pipe, you also want to make sure it hasn’t dislodged or rusted.

    So, all good things to keep an eye out for before you fire up that fireplace for the season ahead.

    LESLIE: Mark in North Carolina is having some issues with door paint. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARK: I’ve got a metal door. It faces east. The sun rises on it. It’s a solid-white steel door but it’s got a solid-glass storm door in front of it. And I have painted it for the last 19 years and the paint peels off. Looks like Shirley Temple’s curls.

    TOM: So here’s what happens. When you keep putting paint upon paint upon paint, eventually those layers just delaminate and they will not stick. So, what you have to do, at this point, is pull that door off and strip it all the way down to the metal. You need to get all that old paint off.

    Once all that old paint is off, you sand it very lightly. And then I want you to use an oil-based primer, like a Rust-Oleum. Paint it on, let it dry. And once it’s good and solid, then you can put one or two coats of topcoat over that.

    But I think you’re putting good paint over bad paint and it’s just finding a new layer and separating. And you’re right: when you have those storm doors on, it does add to the stress of that finish. But I think if you strip down all that old paint, get it back down to the metal, sand it up, put a primer on it and a couple of coats of finish paint over that, I think it’ll stick that time, Mark.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: You can get matched with 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: Well, if you’re thinking of updating your bedroom with a new mattress or some new furniture, we’ve got some tips to make sure that your purchase results in a better night’s sleep, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

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

    So, have you got out the lights yet to get ready to decorate your house, Leslie? Or is it already done?

    LESLIE: I’m going to be honest with you. I hire a service now to do the lights outside.

    TOM: Ah, yeah.

    LESLIE: And I always say I’m happy to be one of the first. So, mine are already up.

    TOM: Well, I actually beat you this year, because we put our …

    LESLIE: Did you?

    TOM: Yeah, we put our lights up at Halloween.

    You know, if you remember, last year I bought some of those LED lights that work off the fancy app and you could change the colors of the light?

    LESLIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    TOM: So we put the lights up around the front porch. And I’ve been running them in orange for Halloween and now I’m running them sort of in the golden browns for Thanksgiving. So they’re already there.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s nice.

    TOM: I’ll turn them off for a week or two and then fire them right back up for Christmas.

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. I’ve just got the beautiful, white LED lights all around the house which – I’m telling you, spending the money to have the pro do it really was fantastic. I’ve got lights in places I could never reach or dare to reach ever before. I just leave the bin outside and they say, “We’re coming by today,” and it’s done. And all I have to do is flip a switch. And I kind of want to do it now but I’ll wait until Thanksgiving.

    TOM: And you’re not blowing circuit breakers right and left, either.

    LESLIE: Nothing. No. And it’s costing nothing to operate.

    TOM: Give us a call with your home improvement question. Maybe you’ve got a décor question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Heading to Minnesota where Deb is having some issues with an unlevel floor. What’s going on?

    DEB: We’re in a house that the main part of the house was built in the 1930s. And that’s our problem right now, although the rest of the house has got issues, too. It’s over – a little over 3,000 square feet and we tried to sell it. Can’t sell it, so we’re staying but we don’t – there’s only two people living in this big of a house.

    So we want to block off the upstairs and just live on the main floor. We were going to change the stairs and enclose them. Right now, they’re open stairways. But when we started doing that, the floor behind it is probably real close to an inch-and-a-half dip.

    TOM: And why is it important to you that you try to take this dip out of the floor? Because, generally, when dips form over many, many years, everything gets – kind of gets settled in that space and it’s not always a good idea. In fact, it’s rarely a good idea to try to pick it back up unless it’s an active structural problem, which I doubt this is.

    DEB: We want to replace the steps going upstairs. And we can’t do that because the steps that are there right now are actually twisting from the dip.

    TOM: Well, that’s not a problem. It’s easier to build a set of steps that fits the existing floor structure then it is to try to fix the floor structure. You can easily make a set of steps that has a stringer that’s longer on one side than the other. Very often, when stairs are made sometimes, especially custom stairs, they leave the stringers running long and the carpenters cut them on site so they fit perfectly in the home. But I don’t think it’s necessary to try to rebuild your floor just to fix the stairs.

    OK, Deb? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, we all spend about a third of our lives in bed. Kind of crazy to think about it that way, isn’t it? But the right mattress is a must to make those sleepy hours pleasant. You know, if you’ve got an old, saggy mattress, it’s not going to give you the support you need for healthy sleep. And that can leave you achy and sore and generally in a lousy mood.

    And mattresses, they do need to be replaced. The average lifespan is five to seven years. But buying a new mattress, though, is kind of a big project. And it’s big in more ways than one. Not only is it a large and heavy piece of your bedroom belongings, there’s also the need to get rid of the old one at the same time.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re due for a replacement, we’ve got some smart shopping suggestions, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz.

    Now, first, you need to know the different comfort levels that are available. You can choose from firm, plush and pillow-top mattresses.

    Now, firm is self-explanatory and plush offers support but allows more pressure points to sink into the mattress. And pillow-top is going to be the softest option of all.

    Now, you’re also going to see some labels that are kind of pushing their coolness, like maybe ultra-firm or super-plush. And they’re trying to just get your attention but don’t pay attention to that hype. There’s no regulation for these categories, so it’s tough to determine what they actually mean.

    TOM: Now, you should also be aware that the stuff that makes up a mattress can impact the comfort and wellbeing. If you’ve got allergies and sensitivities, you should shop for mattresses that are made from all-natural and hypo-allergenic materials, like organic cotton or synthetic-free latex fills and also naturally flame-retardant wool casings.

    Also, be totally ready to test out that mattress comfort level in the showroom. Don’t be ashamed. Lay down, get comfortable. You might mistakenly believe you need a firm mattress, for example, when what maybe you really need is the basic support you’ve not been getting from that worn-out mattress you’ve been sleeping on for years.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And also, you’ve got to find out if the store is going to provide free delivery or if it’s up to you. And if that’s the case, Hertz rents trucks and vans that can help. And you can use the opportunity to clear out any other big pieces that you want to throw out or donate.

    Now, as you shop, you’ve got to keep in mind that while a higher spring count can be impressive, the number of springs doesn’t really affect the comfort of the mattress in question. You’ve got to try before you buy and you’ll rest easy with your carefully selected mattress purchase.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz. For any home project, store pickup or a move that needs more than your car can handle, remember HDTV: Hertz Does Trucks and Vans. Book now at

    LESLIE: Charles in Arkansas is on the line and needs some help putting in a door. What can we do for you?

    CHARLES: Got an old door I’m replacing on the front of my house. It’s an exterior door. I bought an oak door – solid door – to replace it. I did not measure for the hinges when I bought the door. I just measured for the doorknob and I don’t know how to cut those grooves for the hinges: those 4-inch hinges that go on the door.

    TOM: So we know the door fits into the jambs, it fits into the opening? We just need to figure out to get it hinged? Is that correct?

    CHARLES: I just need to know how to cut the door for the hinges.

    TOM: But the door does fit the opening right now, so you have an existing opening it can fit into.

    CHARLES: Well, yes. A matter of fact, you know, if you ask for 84-inch door, you’re going to get about 83- or 82½-inch door, so it’s just adequate on size. It’s just a matter of the cutting of the hinges.

    TOM: OK. So it’s really just a case here of being very accurate in how you lay this out. So you have to remember that when you set the door in the opening, you need about a ¼-inch of space above the door just to allow for expansion and contraction and adjusting the door. So what you want to do is measure down from the top of the door and measure up from the bottom of the door until your first hinge position. I would put those maybe 8 or 10 inches down from the top and equally – equidistant – up from the bottom and then the third one right in between.

    And remember that what you want to do is – you can take that door, set it on its side. You can lay the hinge right over it where it’s going to be attached and you can draw an outline of that hinge onto the door. And then with a really sharp chisel, you’re essentially going to notch out the thickness of the hinge material itself, which is really something in the order of a 1/16-inch or so of material that will come off of that, so that when the hinge is on the door it lays completely flat. The idea here is that the hinges don’t really take up any space.

    And now, once you have those set on a door, you’re going to put the exact same – in the exact same locations, you’re going to notch them out into the jamb in much the same way. You’ve just got to be really accurate with your measurements to make sure they line up properly. Another way to do this is to put them in the jamb first, set the door in place, kind of shim it up and get it exactly where you want, then transfer the marks over. Either way, the alignment is key.

    And once you do that, when you’re ready to put it all together, the trick of the trade is when you

    start to drive the screws in and hold the hinge plates on, don’t drive them all the way home. Leave them a little bit loose so you have some slop in that hinge. It’ll make it a lot easier for you to get it all back together. And then you can tighten it up once the hinge pins are in place.

    CHARLES: That’s what I wanted to find out.

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

    LESLIE: You can reach us anytime at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Coming up, have you ever had a large branch come flying down during a winter storm and then maybe you needed a chainsaw to get rid of it? Well, today, you can have a saw at the ready without needing all the gas, oil and hassles of getting it started. We’re going to share the tips on a new battery-powered tool that can handle jobs like that and more, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by You’ll never have to worry about overpaying for a job. Just use their True Cost Guide to see what others paid for similar projects. Then get matched with top-rated pros, read reviews, get quotes and book appointments, all for free at

    LESLIE: Kathy in Michigan is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?

    KATHY: I have a cinder-block house and it seems to peel kind of easy. And one side of the house, where the water’s located, I seem to have rust spots coming through but not from the inside, only the outside.

    TOM: OK. Do you have sprinklers?

    KATHY: No.

    TOM: And the rust spots are on the inside you say?

    KATHY: Outside.

    TOM: I wonder where that rust is coming from, Leslie. I wonder if there are maybe some metal ties inside the block walls that could be releasing that rust.

    LESLIE: It could be, because that does happen very commonly. And the cinder block does tend to be very hydroscopic, meaning it’s going to just suck up all the water from the surrounding areas and just kind of hold onto it at times. So if there is any metal in that, you can see rusting.

    TOM: So I think what you’re going to need to do is to spot-prime those rust areas and you need to use a good-quality primer. I would use an oil-based primer – an oil-based exterior primer. After you sand those rust spots away, I would spot-prime them with the oil-based primer and then put the topcoat back on top of it.

    I think this is going to be a situation where you’re going to have to manage that paint job, Kathy, so that this doesn’t get worse. And if you ever get ready to do the entire house, then you would simply remove that old paint and then prime the entire surface. And I think that would also do a good job of sealing in any rust spots that form.

    KATHY: OK. I like that. I thank you.

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

    Well, if you’re a serious do-it-yourselfer and especially one that loves the outdoors, the chances are that a chainsaw is a tool that you might already have. Or maybe it’s one that you wish you did when the inevitable big branches start to fall in the winter or perhaps if you like to cut your own firewood.

    Now, these tools, however, are not only costly, they need gas, they need oil, they need maintenance. I mean a lot of maintenance, especially if you only need to saw once in a while.

    LESLIE: And now, thanks to advances in battery and motor technology, Greenworks has chainsaws that are powered by battery, which means that they’re always at the ready, they’re quiet and they need only a small bit of the maintenance that are required by big, noisy and messy gas machines.

    Now, the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Cordless Chainsaw provides the power that you need for up to 180 cuts on one fully-charged battery. And it has a high-efficiency, brushless motor that’s engineered to provide plenty of power, torque, quiet operation and longer motor life.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a serious tool for serious do-it-yourselfers. It’s got an 18-inch Oregon bar and chain. It’s also got a built-in automatic oiler that keeps the chain lubricated, plus a chain brake that halts the chain movement and prevents kickback. And our favorite feature is this: the push-button start. No messy gas, no pull cords. Just pop the battery in and away you go.

    It’s available at Lowe’s and for 329 bucks. Check it out. It is a really well-designed machine.

    LESLIE: Cynthia in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    CYNTHIA: I have a little cottage that I’ve been renovating and I put on a metal roof. And I was advised that it would be a good idea to put gutters on this metal roof. Well, I had some old gutters and I put – had those put on but I didn’t – couldn’t get the connection to – for the downspout and that they are 3-inch-square connections, like little elbow things to connect from the gutter to a downspout. Can’t find any 3-inch-square connections anymore. So it was – I was told that there’s a – I don’t need gutters. It’s sort of like a downspout …

    TOM: Yeah, Cindy, I know what you’re talking about. There’s a product that fits on the edge of the roof that is not a gutter. It’s called a “rain handler.” And the way a rain handler works is as water comes down the roof, it hits this rain handler and it disperses the rain into a wider pattern, so it’s not like the water rolls off your roof and hits the ground.

    I think it’s OK in an area where there’s not a concern about a wet basement and flooding around the foundation or erosion. If you’re just trying to disperse that water, that’s probably an option. But it’s not a complete replacement for a gutter because a gutter’s a water-management system and this is really a water-dispersal system, if that makes sense to you. You can find more information on that product online. It’s simply called

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

    LESLIE: Remember, give us a call with whatever it is you are doing around your money pit, even during the holiday season. We’re here to lend a hand. I should say especially during the holiday season. Whatever it is you’re working on, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up, have you ever tried to paint over an old leak stain, only to find that it comes back over and over and over again? Well, there’s one key step that you might be missing. And no, I’m not talking about fixing the leak, although you should probably do that, too. We’re going to have a painting tip when we come back.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us, right now, with your home improvement question or post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at, which is exactly what Jack did out of Nevada.

    Now, Jack is in Nevada, so he probably isn’t going to get too much rain. But apparently, he had this one bad storm, because he’s got some bubbled walls and ceilings to deal with.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Or perhaps listen to this: he had a leak in his bathroom.

    TOM: Oh, maybe that. Oh, there you go. That makes sense.

    LESLIE: So he’s writing: “I’ve got bubbled walls and ceilings but a – from a leak in my upstairs bath. How do I repair that ceiling?”

    TOM: Well, you fix the leak first, right? Because that’s key.

    LESLIE: Hopefully that’s step one.

    TOM: Now, when you get the bubbled walls and the ceilings from a leak, what you need to do – if the wall is deformed, Jack, which means you let that leak sit too long, you have to actually cut that wall out. Cut that section of the wall or ceiling out, because it will never go back. If we’re talking about bubbled paint, that’s another matter. In that case, you’re going to scrape all that paint away.

    And here’s the key missing step and that is priming. You have to prime the new surface. If you don’t, what’ll happen is all of those stains that you see – those brownish stains – well, that leaches out of the drywall and it doesn’t go away. And it’ll come right through basic, flat finish paint, so you have to prime first. If it’s a little spot, you could prime just the spot. But if it’s a big spot, you need to prime the entire ceiling. Because the other thing that will happen is once you paint over it, you’ll get sort of a different sheen over the area that’s primed versus not primed.

    So, if it’s warped, it’s got to go. If not, you can fix it but don’t forget the priming step.

    LESLIE: Alright, Jack. Good luck with the project. And quick, get it done before the holiday.

    TOM: Well, is your home the center of the Thanksgiving gathering? No need to stress out on the prep. Leslie has tips today to help you get ready, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah, you guys. You know, Thanksgiving is a little more than a week away but time does fly when you’ve got a ton of stuff to do. Now, if you’re the host for this year’s family feast, you can get a jump on early preparations and set yourself up for a very relaxed holiday, with five easy steps.

    First of all, number one: you’ve got to do an inventory check. Get started this weekend by gathering everything that you’re going to need. Pull together your table decorations, candles. Make sure you’ve got a working candle lighter and backup matches on hand.

    Number two: prep your tableware. Wash the china, the stemware, the serving pieces. Give the silver a good polishing so all of this on your table is ready to go. I also like to go so far as any of the service ware, I put a sticky note on it and say “Turkey,” “Carrots,” “Mashed Potatoes,” “Stuffing” so I know exactly what’s going where.

    And here’s a good tip, guys. This way, if a friend or a family member says, “What can I do?” you can say, “Hand me the bowl that says ‘Mashed Potatoes.’” Instantly, someone’s helping in the right way.

    Now, you’ve got to set early. If your home’s routine and traffic allows, set that dining table a few days ahead of Thanksgiving if you can. It’s going to save you time and spare you the stress as the dinner deadline approaches.

    Lay out those linens. You can’t tackle the table until Thursday. Iron your table linens ahead of time. They’re going to stay tidy, compact, wrinkle-free if you roll them up on a wrapping-paper roll or a shipping tube after you iron them. That really is the best trick of the trade.

    And finally, number five: let those kids help. Finally get your family’s young artists involved in the prep. Keep them busy while you are busy. Invite them to create something special for the festivities. Maybe it’s a custom place card or a banner or a collage or a guest-participation project with a give-thanks theme. All of this is going to keep everybody focused on the central meaning of the day and allow you to finish up the big stuff for the big meal.

    Get started, guys. Thanksgiving is coming. Have the table ready. It’s going to help you enjoy a smoother, less stressful holiday and leave you with more time to just simply enjoy the company of your family and friends.

    Happy Thanksgiving, guys.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, did you know that more homes go up in flames over the winter than any other time of the year? Is your house properly fireproofed or is it fire-prone? We’re going to talk fire-prevention tips you may never have thought of, 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.)