Tips for Streak Free Windows, Creating Curb Appeal & Best Improvements for ROI #0226182
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Tips for Streak Free Windows, Creating Curb Appeal & Best Improvements for ROI #0226182

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: What are you working on today? If it’s your house or if you’re just thinking about maybe planning a project that you’d like to get done in the near future, you’re in exactly the right place because we’re here to help. Put us on your team. Just give us a call with your question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post it to the Community page at

    Coming up on today’s show, you know we could all use a little more sunshine this time of year. And spotless windows can help. We’re going to have some tips on how you can clean your windows just like a pro. And check this out: you won’t even need any paper towels.

    LESLIE: Alright. I love that tip. Plus, this spring home selling season is fast approaching. And if you’re planning on putting your home on the market, we’ll share the key improvements that need to get done first if you’d like to nail a quick sale, in today’s Building with Confidence Tip presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans.

    TOM: And you spend a lot of money on your house but how much of it will you ever really see again? Well, you can actually see quite a bit of it if you choose upgrades that add value to your home. So we’re going to tell you how to choose the best ones to do just that.

    But first, we’d love to talk with you about what’s going on in your home. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your question online to The Money Pit’s Community page at

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

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

    BECKY: Hi. I’m having trouble with leaking on my back porch. I have a 20×12 porch and it’s not completely flat. It is part of the house but it’s got rolled roofing instead of the shingles like on the house. And there’s a little bit of a pitch but I had a new roof put on in 2006 and have had the people come out several times because of leaking in the middle, under the ceiling part of it. And also, the chimney is right there on the edge and it’s leaked around there, too.

    But they fixed that but we’ve had ice before, which I’ve never had trouble until last week. And I had them come out because it was leaking and there was ice on the – because of all the bad weather. And they said it was an ice – caused by an ice dam. And some roofs do it and some don’t. And there’s nothing they can really do to fix it. But it was leaking in the same place that I had just regular rain leaks before.

    And my concern is I can’t – I think they should fix it but they said that it’s an ice dam and there’s nothing that can be done. And I’m just wondering if there is something that can be done for that.

    TOM: OK. You want the good news or the bad news?

    BECKY: Start with the bad.

    TOM: So the bad news is that you do need to take your roof off and rebuild it. Now, you want the good news?

    BECKY: Yes.

    TOM: It’s probably covered by homeowners insurance.

    BECKY: Really?

    TOM: Ice-dam damage and ice dams are typically covered by homeowners insurance. And the way they’re fixed is basically you have to take the roof apart and you have to apply something called “ice-and-water shield,” which kind of looks like rolled roofing but it’s designed to sort of seal right up against the roof sheathing. And it’s kind of like putting a rubber membrane, almost, across the underside of your entire roof. And then, over that, you put the roll roofing or whatever other type of low-slope roofing product you want to install.

    And when you’re doing the ice-dam repair with the ice-and-water shield, you will, of course, replace all the flashing around the chimney. Because we are going to be working around it, so you pretty much have to do it. And that will deal with that issue.

    So what I would do is I would contact a public adjuster, not your insurance company, first. Although you could report it to them but a public adjuster – because these guys are independent. They work for the homeowners. They work on a commission based on what they collect from your insurance company. And have them write up a claim and file a claim for you. If it’s done well, you could get the roof, you could get the ceiling painted, the whole nine yards.

    BECKY: Oh, well, yeah. That’s wonderful. So, how are they listed as far as a contact – I mean a public adjuster?

    TOM: That’s how they’re listed. They’re public insurance adjusters. I would check with friends, check with attorneys. You could check with your insurance agent. Might have a lead. There’s obviously – like anything, some are good and some are bad, so you want to find a good public insurance adjuster. But I think you may have a potential claim there and perhaps you’ll get a new roof out of it.

    BECKY: Alright. I will do that. And thank you so much. Appreciate your show.

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

    LESLIE: Rob from Utah is on the line who’s looking to save some green by going green and needs some help with an energy audit.

    How are you doing today, Rob?

    ROB: We are interested in getting a home energy audit and mostly trying to figure out what to expect. Like how much should it cost?

    TOM: Well, that’s a great question. Now, have you looked around for audit providers?

    ROB: I haven’t really reached out to people yet but tried to get in a little bit. But no, not really.

    TOM: OK. So I would start with your local utility company. Because sometimes, they provide home energy audits themselves or will provide those at a discount. What I would like to see you find is someone that’s not tied in with a repair operation, so you get somebody that’s truly independent. There are some energy auditors that work for the same companies that offer insulation services and weather-stripping and that sort of thing. And what you really want to do is find someone who’s completely independent.

    The scale of the energy audit can vary dramatically. A couple of things that I would look for – one thing that is really good to get is what’s called a “blower door test.” And this is where they take a device and pressurize your house with air or depressurize it and can measure the amount of leakage your house has. And that can help you pinpoint the worst offenders and teach you how to get those sealed up.

    Other parts of an energy audit would determine how energy-efficient your windows are, how much insulation you have in your attic space. Does it match with the right kind of ventilation? How efficient are your appliances? You know, it really looks at all of those areas.

    And then it should boil down to a specific list of recommendations that are prioritized. Because I think a lot of times when we try to make our homes more efficient, we guess. We guess at where we’re suffering the most, whether it’s new windows or insulation or whatever we think we need or a salesperson tries to sell you. It ends up being a guess. But an energy audit really can nail that down with some cold, hard facts and help you prioritize where to put the money.

    ROB: OK. Great. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. What’s your how-to or décor question? Call in now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    TOM: Up next, daylight savings time is just around the corner: March 11. We’re going to have some tips to help soak up all that extra sunlight with spotless windows, when The Money Pit continues.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, going on, right now, at is the Good Night’s Sleep Sweepstakes. We could all use one, so we’re giving away over $4,000 in prizes in bedding, pillows, sheets and a mattress from our favorite mattress maker, Tuft & Needle. You can enter once a day at and share the sweepstakes to earn bonus entries, which we love because that increases your chance to win.

    TOM: We’d also like to help you with the answer to your home improvement question, so give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joyce in Alabama on the line who’s got a question about a sink odor. What’s going on?

    JOYCE: Well, this is in a bathroom sink. It’s about 25 years old. It’s a type that has three air-vent holes in it or overflow holes in it. And the odor seems to be emanating primarily from there. It’s a very musty odor and came down to that conclusion because I finally took some paper and stuffed up those holes. And things smelled much better in the bathroom that way.

    TOM: Well, sometimes what happens is you’ll get some bacteria that will grow in that overflow trap. So, what I would suggest you do is this: that is to fill the sink up with hot water and add some bleach to it and let the bleach very slowly trickle over that overflow. And so it saturates it and hopefully, that will kill that mold or that bacteria.

    Now, the other thing that you can do is you could take the bathroom-sink trap apart and clean it out with a bottle brush. Now, some of the traps today are just plastic. They’re easy to unscrew and put back together. Under the sink, sometimes you can clean that. And again, you get that biogas that forms in there. If you clean it with a bleach solution, that usually makes things smell a lot better in the bathroom. OK, Joyce?

    JOYCE: Alright. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, cleaning windows is something that takes an awful lot of time to do. But when you’re done, do you kind of feel like your windows don’t look all that much better? It’s probably because you’re rubbing the glass with paper towels or maybe even cloth towels. And that creates static. So, before you know it, dust and dirt are stuck right back to that window again.

    TOM: Yeah. And a better option is to always use squeegees. Throw away the paper towels, throw away the cloths and use squeegees. Just start at the top corner and move the squeegee back and forth while moving it down, kind of like you’re drawing a letter S. And here’s the real secret: after each stroke with that squeegee, you need to wipe the blade dry but not just with any towel. You want to use a lint-free towel, like a cloth diaper or an old table linen. That is what makes those windows come out perfectly streak-free every single time – is by wiping that squeegee after every time you use it.

    LESLIE: Now, if you find that your window has panes, which then probably won’t fit a squeegee that you find out there, you can actually use a utility knife to cut that squeegee so it fits the width of the pane. And then be sure to pull it down in one single stroke.

    Also, you don’t need any fancy store-bought cleaners. You can stick with a homemade solution made of liquid detergent and warm water. Now, when it drips, you want to use a shammy cloth to soak up that extra water because it absorbs without the streaks.

    TOM: Good tip. For more streak-free solutions to your home improvement questions, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Adam in Louisiana is on the line looking to add some space to the home. Tell us what you’re working on.

    ADAM: Well, I just bought a house – my first home – and it’s pretty small. It’s 1,150 square feet. So it was originally one bedroom and one bathroom. And it’s a pier-and-beam style house. They had put an add-on on the house. They put a concrete slab down and they built an additional bedroom that’s the entire length of the house.

    TOM: OK.

    ADAM: What I’d like to do is put a second bathroom in. The existing one is really small and it’s kind of in an awkward spot of the house as compared to where the nice, large bedroom is. So I’d like to build one in the large bedroom, sacrifice a little bit of the space – I don’t need a 400-square-foot bedroom – and put a nice bathroom in there.

    TOM: Right.

    ADAM: My concern, though, is with the house being pier-and-beam, it’s raised higher than the addition is. So I have no idea what kind of project it would be regarding plumbing.

    TOM: So, the plumbing would – is going into the slab section of the house?

    ADAM: Correct.

    TOM: And you have an attic above that section, as well?

    ADAM: No, there’s no attic.

    TOM: There’s no attic?

    ADAM: Not on the add-on, no. Not in the addition.

    TOM: Is it a cathedral ceiling?

    ADAM: Yes. So I guess, in theory, I could raise the bathroom.

    TOM: Yeah. But that’s going to be kind of weird. Now you have another layer in the house.

    Look, the drain is not a problem because for the drain, you can – you’re basically going to have to bust through the slab. But you will hook up the drains outside and then run them to the sewer or to the septic. It’s the water supply that’s a little harder to get to. And that’s why I asked you if you had an attic. Because if that was the case, I would run insulated pipes across the ceiling and then down. But you don’t have those, so we’ve got to get the water supply to that bathroom.

    Could the bathroom be on the wall between the old and the new? Is it possible we could bring the plumbing in there?

    ADAM: Yes. So I guess, for you to visualize, if you were to walk into the current bathroom – so let’s say facing you, directly in front of you at 12:00 is the shower. At 10:00 is where the toilet is and at about 2:00 is where the hot-water heater is.

    TOM: OK.

    ADAM: On the wall opposite the hot-water heater – so I guess it would be about 3:00 ­– that’s the wall to the new bedroom – for the add-on bedroom.

    TOM: OK. And you would back the bathroom up to that? Because that would make the most sense.

    ADAM: I would think that’d be the easiest thing to do, yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, I think it would make the most sense because you can take advantage of the plumbing there.

    I suspect that this is going to end up being a partial renovation of the original bathroom, too, by the time you get all the plumbing reconfigured. But that is going to be probably the best way to do that.

    ADAM: OK. I mean is it a major, major undertaking? I’m not really the most handy person on the house except for a couple of YouTube videos and …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s not a like, “Hey, let’s – what am I going to do for my first DIY project? I’m going to build a new bathroom.” Not recommended.

    ADAM: Right.

    TOM: OK? But look, what you might be able to do is to get the help of a professional plumber with the hard stuff, right? Have the drains run, have the supply pipes run, bring everything out into the room where it belongs. Then you could do all the finish work and you have the plumber come back and hook everything up or you hook it up. So, maybe you could just sub out those more complicated parts of this project and do the finish work yourself.

    ADAM: Do you have any idea – I know, of course, location, everything else matters. Ballpark idea of how much I should try to budget for a project like this?

    TOM: Well, a bathroom is usually a few thousand bucks. But what I might do is try to reach a good-quality plumber. I’m thinking how you should do that. I would go to and see who’s listed in your area of the country.

    ADAM: OK. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: And then create a description that fairly assesses the project to be done: adding an additional bathroom. You’re looking for rough and finish plumbing to be completed in those spaces. And put it out there and see what plumbers reply on that.

    The nice thing about HomeAdvisor is that you can read the reviews of folks these guys have worked for in the past. I used them when I needed to get emergency plumbing work done for my mom’s house. And I’m in New Jersey and she was in Florida and she wasn’t even there.

    ADAM: OK.

    TOM: It was a winter home and we got a letter from the water company saying that she’d used 10,000 gallons last month in an empty house. I’m thinking, “Hmm. That’s not good.”

    ADAM: Right, right.

    TOM: And I was able to find somebody quickly to go in there and figure out what happened and get it fixed. And it turned out to not be a big deal. It was a valve that we thought was off that was on and it was leaking water from the toilet. And we got it resolved.

    But the point is that I’d made that decision quickly and easily because I was able to read the reviews on these guys, even though I wasn’t there. So, I would use that service, try to find a plumber. You know, they don’t charge for estimates, generally. And have a couple of them come in and talk with you about the work and probably give you some more ideas on how to get it done. Then you could take it from there.

    ADAM: I’ve never owned a home before and this place is 70 years old. Anything I should be on the lookout for? Potential problems or catastrophic issues that I might overlook?

    TOM: Yeah. On our website at, we have an article that is – that talks about what goes wrong with houses based on the year that they were built.

    ADAM: OK.

    TOM: But a 70-year-old house, you’d be looking at the plumbing. You could start there. You may have some steel plumbing in there and that’s plumbing that will rust. You may have an antiquated electrical system. There’s a type of wiring called “knob-and-tube” that was common in that time of – that timeframe. It’s an ungrounded system.

    Beyond that, it’s pretty much just wear-and-tear things that you would expect.

    ADAM: OK.

    TOM: On the flip side, the structures are usually pretty well built and you often get hardwood floors and pretty solid wall framing and roof framing and floor framing. OK?

    ADAM: OK. Well, thank you very much for your help. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Sue in Wisconsin is on the line with a question about a humidifier. How can we help you today?

    SUE: Yeah, hi. Just want to say I love your show.

    TOM: Thank you, Sue.

    LESLIE: Hey, thanks.

    SUE: And I had a humidifier, a little kind of unorthodox one for 10 or 15 years. But now that’s gone and is there any humidifier that the homeowner can put on the furnace?

    TOM: Well, not really. They’re not designed for homeowners to install. If you’re super handy, I don’t see why you couldn’t do it. But usually, it involves cutting into the ductwork, getting it set right. There’s plumbing involved and there’s electric involved. If you have an outlet nearby that you can plug it into, then that solves that. The plumbing’s not terrible but you have to have a small water line that goes into it. If you’ve got an old water line that you can tap into, that may not be too bad.

    SUE: Yeah. I do. I have both of those.

    TOM: And the other thing is, though, that the humidifier technology has changed a lot today. And so the old ones that maybe had that sort of squirrel cage-looking drum that would circle around through a puddle of water, those are really ineffective and they grow mold in there. The new ones – newer ones – that have a trickle-down coil and they can work on humidistats that sense outside temperature, they’re actually computer-driven. They sense outside temperature and inside temperature. They can calculate exactly how much moisture you need.

    So there’s a lot of benefits from getting a higher-quality unit than perhaps what you had before. And then, of course, you would have that professionally installed. So, can you do it yourself? Yeah. I would put it in the advanced-DIY category. But if you buy a better-quality one, I think you’re going to get more use and comfort out of it.

    SUE: I see. Do you have any recommendations?

    TOM: I would take a look at Aprilaire for one. They make a very good one, OK?

    SUE: OK. Well, thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Just ahead, the spring home selling season is quickly approaching. And if you’re planning on putting your home on the market, we’re going to share the key improvements that need to get done first to nail a quick sale, in today’s Building with Confidence Tip presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And whether you are buying, selling or just enjoying your home, we are here for you every step of the way. Décor, remodeling, repair, you name it, just call in your question, right now, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a big remodel.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tim on the line who’s dealing with a big crack in a driveway, causing some unevenness. Tell us what’s going on.

    TIM: Well, I have a concrete driveway. It’s 3 inches thick; I found that out after I saw the crack in the driveway. And they poured this driveway in one – as far as width. And they put it – it’s probably 16-foot wide and they poured it in 16×12-foot sections with – it looks like fracture pieces in it instead of the actual expansion joints? And where it goes over my drop – the ditch over my cupboard – it has a spot about a – 1 foot in a triangle – 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot – where it has dropped.

    And I’m trying to find some way to bring that piece back up level with the rest. That way, I can see – I’ve already had it sealed but I put a silicone in there along the joints to keep any further erosion from happening.

    TOM: How big is the piece that’s dropped? You said – is it cracked 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot?

    TIM: Yes. It’s a 1-foot triangle piece.

    TOM: So can you dig that piece out?

    TIM: No, I can’t, because it did not break on a smooth line. It fractured and it dropped down.

    TOM: Yeah. Because you know – I tell you what, I’ve broken sidewalks in half before, because I had to run pipes underneath them and then put them back in place kind of right where they were and just sort of filled them up and made it level. So, it would be sweet if you could extract that piece of concrete but I guess you can’t. And so now you’re going to have to pour a new piece.

    How thick is the – how far down has it dropped?

    TIM: The front – on the back edge of it, it’s still level. On the front, it’s probably dropped about 3 inches.

    TOM: OK. Well, not so bad. What you’re going to do is you’re going to mix up an epoxy-based, concrete-repair product that has good adhesion.

    TIM: OK.

    TOM: And then you’re going to put a second layer on that. And QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E …

    TIM: OK.

    TOM: Yeah, you want to use the type of concrete mix that’s made to be a patch. And the difference is that it sticks to the old stuff. If you use regular concrete mix, it won’t stick. But if you use the patch mix, then it will stick. And they also have good step-by-step videos on their website to kind of show you how to do this.

    TIM: OK. Would I be better off by just knocking that one piece – that piece – out and refilling it, since it’s not that big of a piece?

    TOM: Yeah, you might be, because I want to make sure it’s stable underneath. But they – there’s a vinyl, concrete patcher product that can be used on top of this. And it’s designed to adhere to what was there before and not crack again. OK?

    TIM: I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re planning on selling your home this spring, creating curb appeal is key to a quick sale. Today, however, curb appeal doesn’t just mean looking good for a drive-by of a potential buyer. It means looking good online, as well. All the more reason to take steps to spruce up your home’s first impression before it goes on the market.

    TOM: Now, landscaping is one of the easiest ways to make a good impression for very little cost. In fact, just planting colorful flowers in landscaping beds or grooming a lawn or adding some greenery, maybe potted plants, can create a really dramatic transformation and a much higher perceived value.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Next, you want to check all the exterior surfaces for wear and tear. If you spot flaky paint, mold, moss, mildew, it’s got to go. And while you’re at it, make sure the service records are up to date on your heating, cooling and any other systems that need regular TLC.

    Now, I’ve heard Tom talk about this many times, from all his years as a home inspector, that if you don’t keep up all these important systems in your home by having them serviced, that kind of leaves those potential buyers fearing that maybe other major flaws could exist.

    TOM: Now, finally, according to the National Association of Realtors, about 80 percent of those potential home buyers start their search online. So guess what? Good photographs are a must. Think about hiring a pro to take yours or if you’re going to do it yourself, you want to choose a clear but overcast day for the best results. If it’s too sunny, it casts a lot of weird shadows. So, overcast days are really best.

    And hey, since photos are digital these days, take a ton of pictures. Experiment with different angles and different views. Then you can choose those that make your home look its best.

    LESLIE: And today’s Building with Confidence Tip has been brought to you by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. It’s completely online, reduces annoying and time-consuming paperwork and gives you a real, accurate and personalized mortgage solution based on your unique financial situation, with no hidden fees or hassles.

    TOM: Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. Apply simply, understand fully, mortgage confidently.

    LESLIE: Shawnie (sp) in North Carolina needs some help with a backyard problem. What’s going on at your money pit?

    SHAWNIE (sp): And on my roof, I knew it would rain. All the water would drain toward the back, since it’s on a downslope.

    TOM: Right.

    SHAWNIE (sp): And then I had some – a contractor come in and connect all of my downspouts and all to this black pipe. And they connected all of it and ran it out to one source toward, you know, that little creek. And in doing so – I mean everything was fine; it worked fine. And they thought where I was having such water problems, they sort of made a horseshoe out of the black pipe, with the Styrofoam peanuts and all of that in it.

    But what they did, when they dug around the horseshoe area, they found that that was dry. Because they figured if it was wet, it would drain and take care of the problem. But when they put that horseshoe in, wherever they put it, it was completely dry and it was further down that they realized that I had an underground spring.

    So, all of my drainpipes, everything is draining perfectly but it’s one little problem I had with that underground spring.

    TOM: But is that underground spring rising up to the point where the yard is flooding? And how much flooding are we talking about here?

    SHAWNIE (sp): It’s not necessarily flooding but it stays so wet I can’t mow it.

    TOM: It’s just wet?

    SHAWNIE (sp): And there’s a place about – I’m going to say 12-inches square-ish, maybe, that is – has puddled.

    TOM: I don’t think this is a problem worth solving. I think it’s a fairly small area of the yard. And areas of the yard that get soft like that, yeah, the grass can be hard to cut sometimes; sometimes, you have to cut it by hand instead of using a power mower on it. But I don’t think it’s worth you doing anything about it. You would have to do some major, major work to try to take the water that’s collecting there, run it downstream and have it sit somewhere else. So, I don’t think it’s necessarily a big issue.

    Shawnie (sp), thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, we all know how easy it is to drop a lot of money at a hardware store or home center. But you might just see that cash again if you choose the right home improvements to spend it on. We’ll share those tips, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And going on, right now, at is the Good Night’s Sleep Sweepstakes. Everybody loves and looks for that amazing, good night’s sleep so we are going to help. We’re giving away over $4,000 in prizes in bedding, pillows, sheets and a mattress from our favorite mattress maker, Tuft & Needle. You can enter once a day at and share the sweepstakes to earn bonus entries, which will increase your chance to win.

    Donna in Tennessee has got a funky guesthouse. Let’s just call it that.

    What’s going on, Donna?

    DONNA: We have been in this property – on this property – for two-and-a-half years. And when we purchased the property, the guesthouse had tenants. And they moved out a little over a year-and-a-half ago. However, there’s a very funky odor in the house that, instead of fading over time, is becoming more and more prevalent. The odor is best described, perhaps, as a stale cologne, so it’s not very pleasant.

    LESLIE: Stale cologne. That’s interesting because, generally, when you get a funky odor in a space that’s not used that often, it usually has something to do with a sink not getting water down it and the trap drying out and sewer gases coming back up. So you could get a funky sewer smell but cologne? Are you sure the house isn’t haunted?

    DONNA: We did pull up any carpeting that was in the house. And there wasn’t that much; it was just in the bedroom and the bathroom. The rest of the floors are wood and tile.

    TOM: Have you done any painting yet?

    DONNA: No. It had been – it was fairly recently painted prior to our purchasing the house and so I didn’t. However, after the tenants moved out, I really thoroughly cleaned the house. Actually, we moved all the appliances, everything like that. But I haven’t repainted.

    TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you that sometimes when a house is empty, it tends to get a little dank sometimes. Are you running the heating system the way you would if somebody was living there?

    DONNA: No.

    TOM: Yeah. So you get more moisture and sometimes there can be odors associated with that. So unless it’s really pervasive, I don’t think I would worry too much about it. You’re doing the right things. You pulled up the carpet. If you haven’t painted and you’re going to paint, I would suggest one additional step and that is to make sure you prime the walls. Because if there’s anything in the walls, that will block it.

    DONNA: Mm-hmm. What type of primer?

    TOM: Well, you could use an alkyd primer, which is a water-based primer, or you could use an oil-based primer: something like KILZ or B-I-N or one of the Behr products. But the primer is kind of the glue that makes the paint stick and will also seal in any stains that have absorbed into the walls themselves.

    DONNA: OK. So if it is the paint, then the primer could actually …

    TOM: Right, exactly. In fact, sometimes we tell people that when they have carpets that are very odorous, to also prime the plywood floor before they put new carpet back down again.

    DONNA: Hmm. OK.

    TOM: Because if anything kind of soaked through the carpet and got into the floor, that’s a way to kind of seal it off.

    DONNA: OK. Very good.

    TOM: Well, there’s a reason we call a house a “money pit.” I mean houses can eat up more of your hard-earned cash than most of us really wish. But one way to take the edge off all that spending is to choose home improvements that can recoup their cost when you go to sell.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Like the housing market itself, these things fluctuate from year to year. But right now, homeowners are getting the highest returns by making relatively small changes to their home’s exteriors.

    TOM: Yep. For example, installing a new exterior door. That tops the list of a worthwhile investment. It’s an upgrade that actually is making sellers money. With some projects, it’s recouping more than 100 percent of what it costs.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Also, adding decks and patios are huge right now as really, people love outdoor living. Who doesn’t?

    TOM: Yeah. And here’s another one. Whether it’s a contractor-grade or a custom, adding a new garage door definitely is something that gives you good return on investment. It’s going to boost your profit. And things like that – things like the new front door, landscaping – also do wonders for your curb appeal. And that just means you’re going to get more buyers in the door and perhaps create a bit of competition around your house. So, think about what the return on investment value is for some of these projects. And guys, I hate to tell you, there’s not much ROI on a man cave but maybe a deck.

    LESLIE: Or a she shed. It goes both ways.

    TOM: Or maybe a deck. There you go.


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

    HUGO: I’m redoing my kitchen and bathroom. And I’m wondering what you would recommend for flooring it. I’ve got carpet in it now and I sincerely dislike the carpet. And I want to put something else in and would you recommend a composite material or vinyl or linoleum or what?

    TOM: Well, I can’t think of two rooms that are worse for carpeting than kitchens and bathrooms.

    HUGO: I know. Tell me about it. I bought the house seven years ago and it had that in it, so …

    TOM: Yeah. Bad décor choice but I think you can do a lot better. I think one thing that you might want to take a look at is laminate flooring, because laminate flooring can come in a wide range of designs. It can look like tile, it can look like stone or it could look like wood. And it’s really durable when it comes to moist/damp places.

    HUGO: What about – will a stove and refrigerator leave dents in it?

    TOM: I’ve had laminate flooring down in my kitchen for 10 years and we pull the refrigerator out whenever it’s necessary. I never worry about it.

    HUGO: Well, I appreciate the information. I thank you and I’ll look into it.

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

    LESLIE: Well, one trend we’re seeing is that smart-home technology is on the rise. But who is embracing those smart homes quicker than any other homeowner? The answer might surprise you, so stick around.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Post your home improvement question to us, right now, at or call it in, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    LESLIE: But you can ask these two pros, right now, what’s going on at your money pit, just like Joan did from Florida who posted: “How do I get nice, clean lines when repainting my living spaces?”

    TOM: Now, I’ve seen you create beautiful walls with painter’s tape. And you’ve got an interesting trick of the trade to make sure you do get that clean line. Let’s talk about it.

    LESLIE: Well, traditionally, before tape sort of became futuristic, I would always paint the wall the first color, then put a line of painter’s tape and then roll back over that painter’s tape to seal the edge with that same color, so that the color that I wanted to make the stripe wouldn’t bleed underneath. But there are so many advances in painter’s tape today that have sort of a painter’s locking edge or this absorbent technology. So, as the paint sticks to the wall, it really creates this bond that nothing else can get under, which is fantastic. And then you can create stripes and patterns, anything really, which makes a fantastic painted wall.

    TOM: Yeah. And if you do it in that order, you’ll have that perfect moment when the paint’s drying, you pull the tape off and nothing breaks away, right? You have a very clean, sharp line and you’ll feel great.

    If you don’t follow those steps, it gets all ragged and you feel like you’ve got to do it all over again. So, definitely get that tape down, paint over it and you will be good to go.

    Well, with the wide availability of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, we’ve got lots and lots of options for smart-home innovations today that we never had before: everything from thermostats that can anticipate when you’re going to be home and then adjust the temperature, to refrigerators that politely remind you that a late-night snack is probably not in the best interest of your waistline.

    They have these things out there. It does all of that stuff, even at that annoying level. But it turns out that millennials are the ones most likely to adopt this technology.

    And Leslie, you’ve got some tips why in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s true: every trend does start with its early adopters. Those are the people that are simply willing to roll the dice, give it a go even though not everybody’s doing it. They want to take it on first. And when it comes to smart homes, women under 35 are the group most interested in bringing innovative technology through their front doors and into their homes.

    Now, female homeowners are also admitting that smart-home technology can be expensive and sometimes it’s hard to set up. But they see those upfront costs as worthwhile because of the money smart-home technology saves in the long run.

    Now, that doesn’t mean millennial women are living in smart homes just yet. Most of that cutting-edge technology – like security cameras, programmable window blinds – a lot of that does tend to be still out of reach for this group. But their interest is sparking new innovations developed with forward-thinking female homeowners in mind. I mean so much is available to you in things such as – simple as home security systems or a doorbell that alerts you that somebody is at the door and a camera so that can see what’s going on and the ability to talk to them. Those are expanding within their own systems to feature security lighting, cameras all around the yard, even interior features. So those platforms that are very simple to install and set up on your own are expanding to cover so many other areas of the home that it’s not as challenging as people might think to set up.

    I always find, for myself, that technology does seem a little difficult for me. And I’m always worried that I’m setting something up right or wrong. And is it going to work? And I find that these platforms, even as simple as the Ring, are just innovative and simple to use but yet super effective.

    So don’t be afraid to take things on and don’t be afraid to think about things from programmable thermostats, programmable temperatures on your water heater. There’s so many simple things like that, which will save you money in energy dollars but make you feel comfortable and confident in being in charge of your own home.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit. Coming up next time on the program, getting a jump on your beautiful lawn, it does take work to maintain it. And one of those necessary steps is fertilizer. We’re going to have tips to make that easy so your lawn can be the envy of your entire block, on the 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 2018 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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