How to Stop Ice Dams Cold #1225171

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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And Happy New Year. We hope that you guys have had a great holiday season thus far. And now that it’s coming to an end, it’s time to focus our sights on the projects ahead. So, if you’ve got a New Year’s resolution to redo your bath, your kitchen, do some decorating, plan for some spring updates outside, now is a great time to pick up the phone and call us because we are here to help. 888-666-3974 is the phone number or you can post your question online to our community at

    Coming up on today’s show, flea markets and garage sales, well, you know that they’re great places to find bargains but that’s only if you know what to look for. We’re going to tell you how to spot deals for décor that can help you spruce up your space in some very surprising ways.

    LESLIE: And if your roof starts to leak when the snow starts to melt, you might have a common problem known as an ice dam. Tommy Silva from This Old House is stopping by to start off the new year with tips to melt this problem away.

    TOM: And more and more homeowners are taking on DIY projects which, of course, is fantastic. But if you’re among those that are frustrated because you can’t get your project done, it turns out you’ve got a lot of company according to a new survey. We’re going to share some tips to move those projects along, just ahead. But first, let’s get to your calls right now. That number, again: 888-666-3974.

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

    LESLIE: Ron in Alaska is on the line and needs some help with energy efficiency. What can we do for you today?

    RON: Well, I’ve got a house that was pretty extensively remodeled and all polyurethane spray-foam insulation.

    TOM: Nice.

    RON: And we went in – yeah, that’s what I thought. Well, we went into the first winter season – about into about 10-degree Fahrenheit weather – I notice a lot of frost buildup in various areas in my eaves. And as I looked closer, the more I find. And then we come out of the cold – well, it kind of cycles through about, I don’t know, a period when we come into some warmer weather and I’ve got water leaks around various areas, down the side of the house and everything.

    So then I start taking a ladder and going up and I’ve got what I would call a “hut (ph).” So I’ve got tongue-and-groove – it’s (inaudible) and they put 2×12 rafters with OSB on top and then the shingles. And in between the rafters, they put the spray-foam urethane. Well, I can look up, because I don’t have my soffits closed in yet. I can look up with a bright light up in there and I see balls of ice on the bottom of the OSB, so it’s – you know, basically, what’s happening is we’ve got a lot of little air leaks where hot, humid air from inside the house is venting out and then it condensates, I guess, and freezes.

    TOM: You know what’s interesting about this story is it sounds to me like the insulation was not applied correctly. Because when you do spray-foam insulation, you convert your attic from a non-conditioned space to a conditioned space. It more becomes part of the living space than the exterior space. And when you use spray-foam insulation, you typically do not need ventilation. In fact, sometimes, the best thing to do is to seal off the old ventilation because spray-foam insulation, again, when properly installed, does not need to be vented.

    Now, you said you put this up between the rafters. Did it cover the rafters or was it just sort of covering the sheathing?

    RON: Well, the rafters go all the – because it is vented. So the rafters go all the way up to the OSB.

    TOM: Of course. But the thickness of the foam insulation, did it actually cover the rafters when it was applied?

    RON: No, they put in 12-inch-high rafters and they only went with 8 inches of foam so there’d be 4 inches of venting.

    TOM: I see. If you don’t mind me asking, what brand insulation did you put in here?

    RON: Ooh, I don’t know. I know the company I used but I don’t know what brand they used.

    TOM: I think you need to reach out to the manufacturer and send some photos, because I suspect that this was not put in correctly. When you do foam insulation, you don’t have to vent that space. And the fact that it is vented now means that you’re going to have the same kinds of condensation issues that you had before but maybe even potentially a little bit worse. So I suspect it was an issue with the installation.

    This should not be happening. I personally have a spray-foam – converted spray-foam – attic where I have a very old house from the 1800s. And when the guys I hired put this in, they completely covered the rafters. And that space always amazes me, especially when it’s very cold or very hot outside, because when I go up there it’s the same temperature as the rest of the house. We knew we’d lose no heat out of the attic. But there’s no ventilation. Where there was a vent, we have a window and we never had soffits.

    RON: Yeah, so I see what you’re saying. You applied more of a complete blanket across the whole roof, where I’ve got breaks. Every time there’s a rafter, there’s a break.

    TOM: Exactly.

    RON: So they’ve done it in rows.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

    RON: Ah, very interesting. And I bet you that – I bet you you’re on to something there because that’s – I’ve thought about every little angle other than that.

    TOM: Yeah. So here’s the thing. I mean if you go back to your contractor, they’re probably going to have a bunch of excuses at this point. I would take photographs. I would figure out who the manufacturer is. I would contact their technical-services department and say, “Here’s my situation. Can you help me out? Tell me what’s going on. And how do I fix it?” And they’re probably going to point at the installation as the cause but they’ll tell you exactly what’s going on. And then, once you have that, then maybe you can go back to the contractor and say, “Look, you guys made a mistake here and here’s how – here’s what has to happen.” And at least you won’t waste any time being baffled by any potential contractor BS, if you know what I mean.

    RON: Yeah. And that’s what I’m getting. And I’ve got $36,000 into this roof and there’s no access. It’s demolition to get to any of this area (inaudible).

    TOM: Yeah, well, that’s why I say you need to get the right information here. And if you can’t get it from the manufacturer, then I would hire my own expert. I would find a good-quality professional home inspector or an engineer to evaluate that project, compare it against the specs and write a report determining what’s happening and what has to be done to fix it, OK?

    RON: Alright. Good help. One quick, last question: do you – what type of engineer would I look for? Just a mechanical engineer?

    TOM: No, probably a structural engineer.

    RON: OK. OK.

    TOM: Yeah. Or a home inspector. You can go to – A-S-H-I – the American Society of Home Inspectors – .org. And actually, I think it’s Let me correct myself. And you could find an ASHI-certified member in your area. You’ll probably get a list of two or three or four by ZIP code and I would talk to each one, tell them what’s going on and find out who’s going to be the most competent to come out and evaluate it and write a report about it.

    RON: OK. Very helpful. Very much appreciated.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Still ahead, even if you’re OCD about cleaning, your home could be at risk still for mold. We’re going to tell you where mold loves to hide, even in the cleanest of homes, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your how-to question, your décor dilemma. Whatever you’re working on at your home, you can slide it on over to our to-do list if you pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, before the break, we were talking about mold. Now, it’s not something that you normally think about in the winter but I want to take this opportunity to tell you a story about a discovery of a mold problem that I made in the least likeliest of places, Leslie, not too long ago.

    I was up in an attic and I was taking a look at it for a very good friend of mine who was not feeling too happy in the house – not feeling too good in the house. And she did mention that when they went away – because they had recently gone on vacation – they felt a lot better and I’m thinking, “Hmm. Sick house.” So I’m looking around this house and there’s no obvious sources of mold. But kind of as an afterthought, I grabbed a bit of insulation on the way out.

    Now, insulation is a non-organic product, right? So it’s not supposed to be able to grow mold. But much to our surprise, it turned out that the insulation itself did not grow mold but what did grow mold was dust that was trapped inside the insulation. The dust was the organic matter. That’s where the mold found something to kind of feed on. And the way it got in there is also interesting, because it came up through light fixtures in the ceiling. She had those high-hat light fixtures, right, that are flush with the ceiling.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: And there are little air gaps around there. So as the ventilation sort of pulled air from the house on up and out, it actually pulled dust into that insulation and that’s what grew the mold. Because attics can be fairly moist places. All you need is oxygen, moisture and organic matter, which you had. All were in that dust in that insulation.

    So, in her case, it turned out she had to actually sort of take the house apart from the roof, take a big chunk of the roof off and then remove the insulation – all of it – from that point out and then basically redo the whole thing. So it was a really big project but it was interesting because that’s a place you normally don’t think you could find mold. But even there, in a super-clean house, there was a pretty serious mold problem that was making that family sick.

    LESLIE: Wow, that’s crazy.

    Frank in Rhode Island is on the line with a wiring question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    FRANK: I live in a Colonial farmhouse – a Cape, really – and it’s the oldest house in Chepachet. Was built in 1753 by a Revolutionary War patriot. And I’m having a problem with radio interference.

    Historically, there seems to be three overlays of wiring there. There is the old knob-and-tube, there’s some cable, there’s something recently that was put in and I know even more recent than that, it was modified – the panel was modified so we can put an electric stove in here. And if it’s a wiring issue – I’m not sure it is. I have three radios and one of them is a battery-powered radio and it’s still getting this interference. It started about two months ago and it seems to be more on the AM dial but at certain times, it’s on both dials.

    TOM: The first thing I would suspect is it has something to do with grounding that has gone bad. Perhaps the grounding for your main electric panel would be a place to start, because usually it’s grounding or shielding that when you get a bad ground, that it causes that kind of a static. But I think the first thing you need to do is make sure that it isn’t something, in fact, in the house and not something that’s caused by an outside source.

    So I would pay attention to the quality of the signal. Maybe if you choose one station to compare to and you try that in the house and out of the house, in the car and see if it really is getting worse around the house. And then if that’s the case, I suspect it might have something to do with the grounding at your main electric panel.

    FRANK: Makes a lot of sense and I thank you.

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

    So, if you’re looking for a bargain way to dress up your apartment or your condo, flea markets and garage sales are a great place. But you’ve got to know what to look for.

    And Leslie, I have seen you do some pretty amazing transformations on design shows, just what you find in flea markets, garage sales and even on the side of a curb, right?

    LESLIE: But it is really true. You’d be amazed at the bargains you can find, as long as you’re open to doing some footwork and some painting and some sanding and some upholstery. Just a couple of things. But here’s a few tips for the novice vintage shopper.

    First of all, guys, you’ve got to be wary of upholstered pieces that people are leaving roadside with a free sign on them. You know, in the past I probably would have stopped and picked it up and been like, “Yeah, I can fix it.” But you don’t know how long it’s been outside, you don’t know if there’s mold. And I feel like, this day and age, we’ve got to start worrying about bed bugs, all that gross stuff, rodents. It could be an issue. So, unless you know the person who’s pitching that piece of furniture, just don’t take it. Do yourself a favor. It could be a lot more problem than it’s worth.

    Also, you want to stay away from antique shops. You’re unlikely to find any real bargains there, so stick with thrift shops and stores that advertise as used furniture or a second-hand store, that type of thing.

    Now, glossy white paint, that’s really amazing. It can transform old wooden tables, chairs, dressers, anything into really chic-looking pieces. Think shabby-chic. If you go the opposite end of the spectrum and buy some glossy black paint, woo-hoo. It is a modern furniture paradise. So think about that black and white. It really makes a big difference.

    And if over the holidays you’d wish that you had some fancy china, you can even start collecting old white dishes and cups and create your very own set of chic dinnerware. And remember, you can mix and match your platters and your serveware, even little salad plates or bowls, whatever it is. As long as you’ve just got a base of a white dinner plate, you can mix and match the rest and it’s the best.

    TOM: And for more tips just like that, check out “How to Decorate Your Apartment on a Limited Budget.” It’s online, right now, at

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading out to Wisconsin where Kimmy has a question about mold. What can we do for you today?

    KIMMY: It’s on the walls and it started at the bottom of the wall. It’s just like black mold and in some areas, it’s somewhat green but most of it is black. And I was trying to get the basement refurnished. And when the guy came and started it, he had to stop because the mold is coming through the panel and you can still see it at the bottom.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, this is a home that you own, Kimmy?

    KIMMY: No. I’m renting.

    TOM: You’re renting it. OK. So, this is the landlord’s problem; this isn’t your problem. And it’s a potentially serious problem, depending on how much of it is there. That type of mold that you describe is what’s known as Stachybotrys: that sort of blackish, greenish mold. And in some cases, it can be – cause an allergic-like effect on people. Could make you not feel very well. And people that are really sensitive to molds can get super sick around it.

    Removing it is possible but there’s a process to it. It’s not just a matter of tearing out the old walls or scrubbing it away. Because if you do it incorrectly, you can release those mold spores and they float around the air. And it can get up into the parts of the house that don’t have mold and kind of contaminate it.

    So, I would take some pictures of it. I would send a letter to the landlord and let him know what’s going on. And he’s got to address it, because this is a potentially very serious problem. You can’t let it continue.

    KIMMY: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. I noticed that since I moved here – asthma runs in my family but I never had asthma. And now I have asthma, I have bronchitis.

    TOM: You may be living in a sick house. Your dog seems quite happy, though.

    KIMMY: You know, they tried – I even – they even said that it could be dog hair.

    TOM: No, no. If you’ve got that kind of mold, you’ve got a serious problem. You need to put him on notice that they’ve got to fix it.

    Kimmy, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading to Tennessee where Bruce is on the line with a question about a driveway. What’s going on at your money pit?

    BRUCE: Hey, guys. I’ve got a driveway that’s kind of – it’s not cracking but it’s kind of crumbling into small pebbles and pieces. I have heard, from a buddy of mine that used to do some summer work, that you can take that black top and put a little bit of, I guess, sand in it and mix it up into a putty and maybe save it for a couple of years. What have you guys heard?

    TOM: So I think that that would work as sort of a temporary patch but I wouldn’t expect it …

    BRUCE: Right.

    LESLIE: And certainly not for the whole surface, like to just …

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, I mean that’s the kind of thing where if you’re resurfacing the driveway and you all of a sudden find that maybe there’s a little hole that you mixed that you missed, you could take some of that sealant, mix it with some sand, stick it into that hole and kind of call it a day. But if you want to have – if you want to do this to the entire surface, you need to use the products that are designed for that, because they’re designed to adhere properly to the surfaces that are below. And I think just trying to sort of make this from scratch doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    BRUCE: OK. What would you suggest?

    TOM: So, there’s a lot of good-quality latex products that are out today and what you want to do is start with the patching compounds. Clean the driveway really well, use the patching compounds next, fill in those cracks, fill in those holes. If you have a really deep one, then there’s essentially like an aggregate that you pack in first, then you seal the surface. And then once those dry, then you go ahead and put your topcoat on and kind of broom your way out.

    You want to buy one of those driveway squeegees, which is kind of like the size of a push broom but it has a squeegee on it, and just very carefully start as close to the house as possible, then bring yourself out to the street. And do it at a time where the weather is decent and when you can try to keep cars off it for two or three days, at least. Because the longer you let it sit, the better it is.

    BRUCE: Do you suggest a certain temperature?

    TOM: Well, the temperature range is going to be dictated by the manufacturer. But as long as it’s not freezing and as long as it’s not 100 degrees out, you’re probably OK.

    BRUCE: Awesome. Thanks, guys.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, if you get a heavy snowfall followed by some warm days, you might also get ice dams, which can cause a lot of damage inside your home. There is a solution and Tom Silva from This Old House is stopping by to tell us all about it.

    TOM: And today’s edition of This Old House on The Money Pit is presented by GCP Applied Technologies, the inventors and manufacturers of the original and best-in-class Grace Ice & Water Shield Self-Adhered Roofing Underlayment. In 2018, Grace Ice & Water Shield Underlayment celebrates its 40th anniversary. Learn more at

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: On this, the very first show of the new year for us. We hope that you’ve had a wonderful holiday season and that you’re planning some projects for the year ahead, which is where we come in because we’re here to help you get those jobs done. Help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And you can also head on over to for tips and answers to your home improvement questions big and small. And while you’re there, sign up for our newsletter. This way, you can stay ahead of home maintenance year-round. It’s all online, it’s all free at

    LESLIE: Well, if your roof starts to leak when the snow starts to melt, you might have a common problem known as an ice dam.

    TOM: That’s right. Heavy snowfall followed by those warm days often allows ice to dam up at the roof edge, where it blocks that melting snow and can cause some serious leaks inside your house. There is a solution, though, and here to tell us about that is Tom Silva, the general contractor from TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Tom.

    TOM SILVA: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.

    TOM: And since roofs usually leak when it rains and not when it snows, this is a problem that has surprised most people. How do we make sure that that meltdown doesn’t end up melting away the walls inside our homes?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. Ice dams can be a major problem. And this last winter, there was a lot of it.

    TOM: Yeah.

    TOM SILVA: Roofs that never even had backup had it this year because there was so much snow. That snow is laying on the roof. Think of that snow as a big insulation blanket. So if you have heat loss in your attic, like not enough insulation …

    TOM: Which almost everyone does.

    TOM SILVA: That heat is getting through the roof and the snow is being melted underneath. So the water is running down under the snow. When it hits that cold overhang, it freezes. The water continually comes down, the freeze gets bigger. It’s a dam; it’s holding back the water. The water is now running up the roof shingles and not down the roof shingles, getting into the roof below.

    TOM: Now, ice-and-water shield is the product that we usually apply to stop this but that’s not required in all parts of the country where ice dams happen, correct?

    TOM SILVA: Right. Ice-and-water shield, a great product. It’s basically a self-sealing membrane but it needs to be installed correctly.

    TOM: Just to make sure we’re clear here, it goes under the shingles, pretty much the first thing on top of the sheathing?

    TOM SILVA: Right. But what a lot of people don’t understand is that first course of Ice & Water Shield should come down onto your fascia board. It should come down the lower edge of the roof. It should wrap the edge of the roof up under the roof sheathing and down onto the fascia board at least an inch to an inch-and-a-half. And then that should get covered by the drip edge and maybe even a piece of trim, because you don’t want ultraviolet light to hit it; it’ll break it down.

    Now, I always like to use a minimum of two rows of Ice & Water Shield, because you never know how bad the snow is going to get during the wintertime. And basically, what happens is it’s – basically, it’s an insurance policy to stop your roof from leaking if the water should get under the roof shingles.

    LESLIE: Now, what are some of the steps that you can take on the inside of your attic, to sort of keep conditions just right for a proper melt and removal of that water?

    TOM SILVA: Alright. Well, the first thing to understand is you want to think about your roof on your house as an umbrella that keeps your house dry. You live in the box below the angled umbrella. If you could take that roof and you could hold it above your house 1 foot, the air outside would run under the roof, keeping the whole roof the same temperature on both sides, the snow won’t melt.

    TOM: So in a perfectly ventilated home, the temperature in your attic really should be the same as the outside; it should be ambient.

    TOM SILVA: Exactly. Unless you want to make your attic conditioned space. So really, what you need to do is make sure that the insulation in your house is plentiful. The more you have, the better it is. You don’t want to compact the insulation against the edge of the roof at the eave line, because then you could stop the movement of air that’s ventilating air.

    Because the warm air that’s in your house is swollen with moisture and when it gets through the attic, it needs to be drawn out. You draw that out a couple of different ways. You can use a ridge vent or you could use a gable vent or you could use mechanical ventilation. But you have to be able to let air in while the bad air can be drawn out. That requires soffit vents. Soffit vents cannot be blocked.

    TOM: So if you have a lot of insulation, as the insulation sort of piles down near where the roof meets the exterior wall, we need to put some baffles in there to kind of press that insulation down just enough to let the air flow over top of it.

    TOM SILVA: Have an inch-in-a-half to 2 inches of space and that should flow really freely.

    Now, one of the issues that I always – I’m always concerned about is if you have a ridge vent on your house and we have a real bad winter, that ridge vent is going to get blocked by the snow for quite a while. So you’re not going to have that warm, moist air being drawn out of the house until you can get some of that ridge vent clear. So you’ve got to be careful of that.

    LESLIE: In a case like that, does it make sense to have a gable vent, as well, just to sort of give you that movement? Or get on your roof and do some maintenance?

    TOM SILVA: I never like to tell people to get on their roof, especially in the winter.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I mean especially in the winter.

    TOM: The wintertime.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, no. A lot of people get hurt when they get up there. Gable vents are fantastic. Plenty of them. Bigger is always better but you don’t want to have – this is silly – but you don’t want to have a gable vent and a ridge vent work together, because they will take the path of least resistance from your soffit vents.

    In other words, the gable vent will be – the air from the gable vent will be drawn in through the ridge vent and it short-circuits …

    TOM: And short-circuits 90 percent of the attic. Right, so …

    TOM SILVA: That’s right. So your soffit vents won’t be working, so you might as well have the insulation up against the roof at your soffit vent.

    TOM: So, really, if you have a completely-vented soffit, completely-vented ridge and that’s it, that’s going to handle it most of the time.

    TOM SILVA: Right, exactly.

    TOM: Because that air is going to enter at the soffit, ride up under the roof sheathing, exit at the ridge, take out the moisture in the winter, take out the heat of the summer.

    TOM SILVA: Right. And when it’s not working and you get ice dams, what happens is that ice-and-water shield will prevent the ice from getting into the house, because it can’t get through that self-sealing membrane.

    TOM: Yeah. That’s great advice. And if all else fails, what I’ve found is it usually – not always but usually, homeowners’ insurance will cover ice-dam damage.

    TOM SILVA: Right. My biggest issue with this whole situation this last winter, where there were so much problems – so many problems with houses – people were getting their insurance company to come in and fix the damage from the ice dams but they weren’t fixing the correct – to solve the problem.

    LESLIE: No corrections.

    TOM: Right, right. They fix the drywall but it’s going to happen again and again and again.

    TOM SILVA: Exactly. You’ve got to get up there and fix the roof, yeah. Yeah.

    TOM: Oh, that’s great advice. That’s definitely the right way to do it. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, you’re going to help us keep our homes dry if we get another bad winter, once again.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some great articles on ice damming, you can visit

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Gorilla Glue.

    Still to come, more and more homeowners are taking on do-it-yourself projects, which is fantastic. But if you’re frustrated because you seem to not be able to get your projects done, don’t be, because you have got a lot of company. We’ll explain, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And I hear you’re flush with excitement. You’ve already got one project done for the new year already, huh?

    LESLIE: I do. This is really exciting. So our friends over at American Standard sent us – well, myself, my family, the boys and I – a VorMax Plus Self-Cleaning Toilet. Now, what’s awesome about this is – I’m sure you guys have totally heard me talk about my very messy children, who are boys, who have a very difficult time keeping the first-floor bathroom tidy.

    TOM: Accuracy is a skill that boys take a while to master.

    LESLIE: Can I tell you, though? It’s my nine-year-old. It’s not even my five-year-old. I don’t understand. And they could care less.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And for me, as the only lady in the house, I’m like, “You guys, this bathroom smells horrible.”

    So American Standard sent me the VorMax Plus Self-Cleaning Toilet. Now, it features a built-in Lysol cleaner, which is amazing because I’ve only had the toilet in the house probably a week and this little powder room smells so good. And I don’t know if this is a common thing for people but I have never had a new toilet. This is my first brand-new toilet that our …

    TOM: Well, it’s not the kind of thing that needs to be replaced very frequently, because they really don’t wear out.

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: But what’s cool about the technology today, that we’re seeing with VorMax, is that my gosh, it’s a self-cleaning toilet. That’s one of the most …

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it smells fantastic.

    TOM: And that’s one of the most dreaded jobs in the house. So now you don’t even have to do that.

    LESLIE: No, it’s really great. So far, we’ve only put in the first Lysol cartridge and that truly is what it is: it’s a cartridge and there’s sort of a little flap built into the back side of the seat, which is super easy to install and really simple to change. As of now, I can’t tell you if accuracy has improved at all but the bathroom smells fantastic.

    TOM: But it smells a lot better and the toilet’s a lot cleaner.

    LESLIE: So, yeah, so for me, it’s a win-win.

    TOM: Alright.

    LESLIE: So I can’t thank our friends at American Standard enough.

    TOM: Well, check it out. They’re available right now, the VorMax Plus Self-Cleaning Toilet.

    Well, more homeowners than ever are taking on do-it-yourself projects, which is great. But if you’re frustrated because you seem to not be able to get your projects done, well, don’t be, because it turns out you have a lot of company. In a survey of 700 homeowners, between the ages of 25 and 45, more than half said they’ve got unfinished projects that they need to complete. Most had 1 or 2 that were incomplete but about 18 percent had 5 or more projects in various stages of completion.

    A lot of unfinished but well-intended projects out there, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And the main reason, guys, was time. Now, more than three-quarters of respondents said they just didn’t have enough time. And more than half said they didn’t have enough money. So it’s time or it’s money. And you know what? It’s so easy to let life get in the way of those half-finished projects. So, to make sure your projects reach the finish line, you want to start by making a budget and then stick to that budget. You’ve got to purchase all of your supplies and materials before you actually begin so there’s no dilly-dallying and running out to the store or “I forgot this.” You understand. Get everything in advance.

    And then go ahead and plan a timeline. When you don’t have a lot of other stuff going on on your plate, although it truly is a motiving factor – I mean who doesn’t love to procrastinate? – but trying to plan a project for a specific deadline, like a milestone anniversary or the holidays, all it does is stress you out. And then you’re going to just be less likely to finish it to begin with.

    So, take your time, make a budget. Just stick to it, guys.

    TOM: Yep. And just be realistic. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. And if you plan time to work on your project regularly, it’ll get done for sure.

    And we’re here to help you get those projects done. But help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Evan in Florida is on the line and has a question about venting. How can we help you today?

    EVAN: Well, my wife and I have a long-standing disagreement on what’s best during the winter months for vents in unused rooms.

    TOM: OK.

    EVAN: I say close them but she says leave them open.

    TOM: You both might be right.

    LESLIE: Everybody wins.

    TOM: Yeah, if you close …

    EVAN: Oh, no. That’s not going to help us out.

    TOM: That’s not going to help you out? If you close the vents in some rooms, especially if it’s anywhere near plumbing, you may have the temperatures drop to the point where freezing is an issue.

    EVAN: OK.

    TOM: But generally speaking, I think you can close those vents in unused rooms if you’re truly not going to use them. But it might be better to close them, actually, closer to the air handler itself or the furnace itself because a duct damper is much more efficient than the wall damper. The wall – the vent itself, once you close it, it tends to whistle and a lot of air leaks through it.

    EVAN: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: But in line with the ducts themselves, they should have dampers, too, which are more like sort of a valve for a duct that sort of totally closes off the air to that space.

    EVAN: OK. Yeah. Seeing as – in line this was and they’re a little different.

    TOM: Yeah, they’re a little tricky. There’s usually a rod that goes through the duct. And if you look at it, it’s got a flat on the end of it. It’s only – it’s very narrow; it’s like the size of a screwdriver tip. But if it’s parallel to the duct, then it’s fully open. And if it’s perpendicular, then it’s fully closed.

    EVAN: Alright. OK. That solves our issue but I don’t know if I should tell her I’m right or wrong. I don’t know.

    TOM: It didn’t settle the bet. It solved the problem but didn’t settle the bet. But like Leslie said, “Everybody’s a winner today.”

    LESLIE: Everybody’s a winner.

    EVAN: There you go.

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

    EVAN: Thank you.

    TOM: Nothing comes between spouses like home improvement.

    LESLIE: That is true.

    Well, it’s the holiday season and we’re all dealing with a lot of stuff. But what do you do when you have a mysterious leak in your house and you really just can’t figure out where exactly it’s coming from? Guess what, guys? It could be coming from a lot of different places but all from the same source. We’ll tell you how to figure that out, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or post your question to the Community question, which is exactly how Sarah reached us.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Sarah writes: “I recently bought a home and I’m experiencing a problem with the copper water lines’ pipes corroding from the inside out. So far, the corrosion appears to be limited to just the hot-water lines but I’m afraid to look inside the cold-water lines. What can I do to fix this?”

    TOM: You know, this sounds a lot like what is known as “copper pinhole leaks.” It’s a condition that is somewhat newer than your 50-year-old house. But basically, the way it happens is it’s corrosion that’s due to a chemical reaction between the water and the copper. And unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about this. When you start to get these pinhole leaks in the copper pipes, the copper pipes are done and they have to be replaced. And when you replace them, you want to replace them with PEX piping – that’s cross-linked polyethylene – which is a lot easier to do than it was originally to run the copper, because PEX is very, very flexible.

    If you start to see them form, one of the things you don’t want to do is – as the water leaks out of it, it’ll sort of scab over as the mineral-salt deposits dry out. Don’t break those scabs because you’ll get a leak. And whenever you’re doing remodeling in a house that’s got a problem with pinhole copper leaks and you expose pipes, you pretty much are just going to replace them with the PEX while you’re at it, because it’ll never be any easier than right there while everything is exposed.

    So, it’s a tricky problem. There’s a lot of causes to it. It has a lot to do with the acidity in the water but it’s basically a corrosion that’s going to continue, very slowly, but it will continue.

    LESLIE: I mean it’s amazing. I feel like it’s more common in certain areas than other areas. Where I live – I live in Garden City, New York, which is on Long Island – and I ended up replacing all of the copper piping in my basement ceiling with all the hot-water lines because I had sprung some pinhole leaks in probably a 6-foot section.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: And replacing that just was not acceptable to me. I just did more work than I needed to for the peace of mind. And I see on our Facebook for the town and the community, so many people deal with it. So it’s definitely a water thing. And it’s good to at least know about it so you’re aware and prepared and can make smart choices.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Pace who writes: “I live in an area prone to hurricanes and want to strengthen my roof. The house was built in the mid-80s before local codes were updated after Hurricane Hugo. One solution is to screw the roof decking to the rafters but I’m still five years away from needing to reshingle my roof. Is there something that I can do from the attic’s inside? Would applying a spray-on insulation to the underside have the added advantage of strengthening the attachment between the decking and the rafters?”

    TOM: It’s not an issue of the attachment between the decking and the rafters or the plywood and the rafters. The issue of attachment is between the rafters and the rest of the house. Because in a severe storm, those wind forces are going to try to lift that roof off the house. So adding the spray-foam insulation, while obviously a fantastic way to lower your energy costs, is going to have no effect on that.

    So the best option for an existing home is to basically reinforce the roof by adding some strapping. And there are other types of hardware that are basically designed to connect the rafters to the exterior walls of the house.

    Simpson Strong-Tie is pretty much the main brand for stuff like that. And I’ve got to say, it’s a project that’s probably best left to the pros. It’s difficult work. You’ve got to get access into tight spaces and you need to have good workmanship. Because if those straps are not properly installed and securely attached, the whole job’s kind of pointless.

    So, if it’s a concern for you, I would definitely hire a pro. It’s probably a couple thousand-dollar project.

    LESLIE: And you know what? Why don’t you start by checking with your insurance company? Making this sort of improvement to your home, to be prepared against a storm, could give you a discounted rate. It’s worth asking.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show coming to you, for the very first time, in 2018. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. As the year rolls on, we will be here for you every step of the way, to help you tackle those projects you want to get done around your house or give the advice that you need to hire a pro to get it done for you.

    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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