Winter Fire Safety, How to Increase Outdoor Lighting, Create a Comfortable Guest Space, How to Build Your Own Retaining Wall and more
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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects. Let us help you solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Trying to decide if you want to do a project yourself or hire some help? We can help you with that, as well. Help yourself first, though, by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your question, 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour, are you looking for ways to raise your home’s list price? We’re going to have tips on which home improvement projects get the most bang for your buck when it comes time to sell and which don’t. We’re going to teach you about the breakdown you need to know to get the most at closing.
LESLIE: And it’s not called a “green thumb” for nothing. If you’re looking for ways to help Mother Nature, your yard offers even more eco-friendly opportunities than you might realize. We’re going to help you go even greener with fall gardening.
TOM: And a growing number of homeowners near water are facing a big project they never counted on: elevating their houses. Now, some are doing this voluntarily and some are doing it to avoid sky-high insurance premiums that affect flood zones. Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House counseled Hurricane Sandy victims facing that very serious dilemma. He’s going to stop by with sage advice to help you avoid flooding in your own home.
LESLIE: And winter is just around the corner and it’s also a tough time to tackle outdoor home improvement projects, for lots of reasons. One of which is if you need glue, it’s just not going to dry. And that’s just one reason that you might want to check out LIQUID NAILS Brand Extreme Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive.
TOM: The adhesive works on most indoor and outdoor surfaces and it can withstand below-freezing temperatures. We’ve got a case of it that we’re giving away to one caller this hour. So call us, right now, with your home improvement question, inside or out, 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Steven in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVEN: I’ve got this porch and it’s got really, really old wood. I guess it’s about 15, 20 years old. Anyway, I cut it up to make a long, shorter porch and I winter-protected it about two years ago with Thompson’s WaterSeal which – it did a job. It just turned pretty looking wood into ugly wood. And I water-treated it. Now I’ve got my wood back and I want to treat it again but I don’t want it to go ugly on me.
TOM: You don’t want it to go ugly on you, huh?
STEVEN: Right. Yeah.
TOM: Well, what kind of wood is the floor, Steven?
STEVEN: I’m pretty sure it’s pine.
TOM: Pine. OK. So, what I would recommend you do is apply a solid stain to that floor. Because a solid-color stain is going to have enough pigment in it where you’ll see the grain come through it but it’s not going to wear off and go ugly on you, I should say. Solid-color staining is what we use on decks. It’s also what we use on porch floors. It’s not like paint; it’s stain. But it’s going to show that grain.
STEVEN: OK. Do I need to water-seal it after that?
TOM: You do not. It’s all built in. Alright? So look for solid-color wood stain and that’ll do it.
STEVEN: Oh, man, I appreciate that. Because I was dreading it, you know? Because (inaudible at 0:03:40) it’s just pretty to look at. We’ve got nice, good-textured wood and I just remember what happened last time. Man, I just don’t want to do that again.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a lot of work just to use the sealer and stop right there. Because what happens is the UV-radiation from the sun gets to it, it breaks down the wood fibers and it starts to gray out on you. So, if you use a solid-color stain – and you can go right on top of what’s there now; just make sure it’s clean – you’ll be good to go.
STEVEN: Yeah. We just got through pressure-washing it and that’s what got all the Thompson’s WaterSeal up.
TOM: Yeah, just make sure it dries thoroughly before you stain it, OK?
STEVEN: Hey, man, I appreciate you and I listen to you all the time. You all are great.
TOM: Alright. Thank you so much. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jenise (sp) in Kansas on the line who’s got a question about grout. What can we do for you today?
JENISE (sp): I had installed a porcelain tile. It’s a heavy-duty tile. So I used epoxy grout on the floor and all throughout the shower, the floors, the ceiling, the walls. And what I’m wondering is, do I need to seal it? If I need to seal it, what kind of sealer should I use on an epoxy grout?
TOM: I don’t think you need to seal epoxy grout, because the epoxy is going to prevent things from soaking into it. It’s really the sand grouts that we want to seal.
JENISE (sp): Well, I’ve already noticed some discoloration and it was white grout and it’s already sort of a brownish tint.
TOM: Oh, is that right? That’s probably water stains.
JENISE (sp): Oh, OK.
TOM: Yeah, that – usually that’s mineral salts that dry out. So try to wipe it down with a white-vinegar solution – white vinegar and water. That might clear it up.
JENISE (sp): Was that a good choice to use epoxy, do you think, or …?
TOM: I think so, yeah. Absolutely. For a bathroom? Perfect location for that.
JENISE (sp): Thank you so much. I appreciate it. You have a good day now.
TOM: You’re very welcome. 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 MoneyPit.com.
And holy moly, guys, it’s November. Where has this entire year gone? And with that said, it means that the holidays are knocking on our door, pretty much. So if you’ve got something that you just have to get done by Thanksgiving, we can help you with that. If you’ve got the other holidays in mind, we can get you there, too. You’ve got to start by giving us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, are you thinking of selling your house and you want to squeeze every penny from that sale? We’re going to have tips from the experts at the National Association of Realtors on which home improvements bring the best return on your investment, 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. We are standing by to help at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a case of LIQUID NAILS Brand Extreme Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive. It holds strong even in below-freezing temperatures, so you get to stay inside where it’s warm rather than heading out to make the fix.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s strong and it’s safe for the environment. LIQUID NAILS Brand Extreme Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive is also low-emitting material. And that helps builders meet U.S. Green Building Council green requirements, which is great.
TOM: It’s a great adhesive that is a really reliable solution, just like us. We stick around.
Check it out at LIQUIDNAILS.com and give us a call with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Floyd in Iowa on the line who needs some help with a crawlspace. Tell us about it.
FLOYD: OK. I just recently purchased a home. And in part of the basement, I have a crawlspace. And when the inspector came in to do the inspection on the house, he recommended that I put plastic down and to close the vent. When I was listening to you guys’ show the other day, I noticed that you guys said something about keeping the vents open so nothing ventilates into the house. So I was just kind of trying to find out, you know, which direction should I go? What kind of plastic should I use? And does it sound like a good idea?
TOM: OK. So, let me clarify for you. First of all, putting a plastic vapor barrier down across the floor of a crawlspace is always a good idea. You use the plastic Visqueen – the big, wide sheets – overlap them about 3 feet. Try to get as much of that surface covered. What you’re doing is preventing some of the evaporation of soil – of moisture up through the soil – so that’s a good thing.
In terms of the vents, the vents should be opened throughout most of the year except, perhaps, just the coldest months of the winter. So if you close it, say, November and December and maybe January, that’d be OK. But for the rest of the year, those vents should be open because it helps take the moisture out.
FLOYD: Now, I also have insulation up in the rafters of the floor joists. Is it a good idea to put – or to seal that with any kind of plastic at all or should I leave those exposed?
TOM: Nope. No, you can leave it exposed just like that. It needs to ventilate.
FLOYD: OK. Good deal.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike in Ohio is on the line and needs some suggestions with heating a home in the event of a power outage.
MIKE: Yes, yes. We do, indeed, because of the terrible winter weather. Especially December, January to February is bad. So it’s three months and – yeah, emergency sources of – and safe, especially safe, sources of indoor heating inside the home in case the furnace goes out.
TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, do you have a fireplace?
MIKE: No, I do not.
TOM: Alright. So, let me just suggest, then, that the safest indoor heating source is your furnace, which can be made operable through the installation of a standby generator.
Do you run on gas?
MIKE: Yes. Natural gas, forced hot air.
TOM: So, what we would recommend is that you invest in a standby generator. Leslie just put one of these in. I’m actually putting in – in fact, I met with the KOHLER Generator representative today to size one for my home. I had a smaller one that actually got me through Hurricane Sandy – speaking of natural disasters – and now I’m ready to upgrade to a bigger one.
And I’ve got to tell you, the prices have come down on them. They’re very efficient and in some cases, depending on the size, they will repower your entire house. Because if you lose power, you’re going to be able to restore some heat, maybe, if you had something like a kerosene space heater. But I’m not going to tell you that’s safe; it’s not. There’s thousands of fires that happen all the time, every year, because of things like that.
So, I would recommend that you think about investing in a standby generator. Now, you can either get one that covers the entire house or KOHLER also recently had a line that came out that is as small as an 8k, a 10k or a 12k generator. So they have a smaller generator line and a larger generator line, all permanently installed standbys. So, basically, they come on automatically when the power goes out. That is definitely the safest way to repower your house, reheat your house in an emergency.
MIKE: What would we do in the case that the furnace actually broke and say, they couldn’t get a part through expedited mail for a day or two and worst case scenario, we’re looking at 10 to 15 degrees below zero?
TOM: You’re in trouble, Mike. Because there is no space heater that is going to be able to heat that entire house. You could have portable electric heaters, you can have some kerosene heaters but you’re never going to get the same level and same comfort that you’re going to get in that house. And frankly, I doubt that that would ever happen. You’d have to have a really oddball furnace, because most furnaces have pretty standardized parts and it doesn’t take days or weeks to get them fixed.
MIKE: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Mike, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, when you plan a home improvement project, do you ever wonder if it’ll bring value when it comes time to sell your house? In fact, do you ever use that to convince your spouse you need a new kitchen or maybe even a man cave? I mean the truth is that some improvements do and some just don’t add value.
LESLIE: Well, according to the experts at the National Association of Realtors, not all improvements have the power to draw potential buyers and fill your pocket when you sell. So you’ve got to stick to the ones that truly make a difference.
For example, starting with the view from the curb, you can replace your front door or upgrade it with paint and new hardware. A new garage door also makes a difference, spiking up the appearance your home has from the street.
TOM: And no matter where you live, buyers want outdoor living space. So think about adding a deck or a patio or maybe even spruce up an existing outdoor room with a water feature, a fireplace or maybe some new landscaping.
LESLIE: Buyers are also interested in the look and efficiency of a home’s windows. So if you’ve got old, drafty ones, investing in windows that will trim energy costs while sprucing up views from both the inside and the outside is a smart spend.
TOM: And that’s your Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Considering selling your home? Today’s market conditions may mean it’s a good time. Every market is different, so call a realtor today and visit Realtor.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rivella (sp) on the line who wants to talk about painting furniture. How can we help you today?
RIVELLA (sp): We just bought some outdoor furniture and we were sort of going to try adding some spray paint to it. But it already started to chip and it’s the outdoor spray paint. So, before I paint it again and it’s the winter months coming, I don’t know if it would be best just to – what would be the best way to protect the furniture for the winter from it chipping even more?
LESLIE: Hmm. Alright. So you’ve already painted it and it’s just not holding up. Are you – where are you located?
RIVELLA (sp): Pittsburgh.
LESLIE: OK. So you’re going to get a colder winter. Are you able to store the furniture in a garage or do you have to store it outside?
RIVELLA (sp): It has to be outside. There’s not enough room in the garage, unfortunately.
LESLIE: OK. So if you can stack them or get them sort of clustered together, I would just put them, you know, with a furniture cover over them, just to sort of help keep them from snow and ice and water just sitting on it all winter long. And then once the weather does warm up, I would sort of give them a good wire brush to sort of get away whatever’s chipping and cracking. And then lightly sand or sand as much as you’re going to need to to sort of even out those edges between the chipped pieces and the raw metal.
And then once you get it to a nice feel, Krylon, actually, has a great spray paint. It’s called the Dual Superbond Paint + Primer, so it’s all in one product. And when it goes on, it really bonds to those hard-to-adhere-to surfaces. It works really well on metal, even plastics. And it comes in a lot of fun colors, which is what I always find challenging when you’re dealing with spray paints. And we’ve had great results with it.
RIVELLA (sp): OK, yeah, I’ll definitely give that brand a try. Maybe it’s the brand I’m using. Who knows?
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kirk in Georgia on the line who’s working on a decking project. How can we help you today?
KIRK: We removed an old hot tub and relocated a new one to be on top of the deck at another level, up toward the pool. But the old one has a hole on a big space of decking and what I was thinking about is how to best cover or repair that area. I’ve got old deck wood all around it but it would be very expensive to replace the whole deck. I’m trying to find a creative way to cover that back up and possibly build a bench against the fence that the hot tub was up against before.
TOM: OK. So the horizontal surface that has the hole – that portion of the deck – is that the entire deck or is that sort of one section? Is it separated in any way from the rest of the deck?
KIRK: Yeah, it is. There’s about a 2-foot span that was against the wall. When the hot tub was there, the top of the hot tub came and it was all resting up against the one fence there. There’s about 3 feet on one side that’s got short, little boards and then the big hole. And then on another side that’s adjacent to that one, there’s 2 feet of decking.
TOM: So, basically, it stands on a different plane, so to speak, than the rest of the deck.
KIRK: Yeah. To clarify, the part that has 2 feet is the long way, so those boards are – there’s like 3 boards that make up that whole span. And then the other one, there’s a bunch of short, 3-foot boards – 15 of them or so – that make up that edge.
TOM: Why can’t you redeck just this one area? Not the entire deck but just the one area where the hot tub is?
KIRK: I absolutely can. The other wood is older; it’s been weather-beaten. It was painted before I got there. I had to strip the whole thing and of course, some of that wood can’t – the soft wood came out but I sand-belted the whole thing down and I got it to look fairly good. So, there’ll be a little difference, obviously, when I put in new wood but that was my plan.
How do I – what do I do about the earth? Because there’s about a, whatever, 8×8-foot span there where there’s nothing because the hot tub was supporting everything. I’m wondering, how do I support that now?
TOM: Right. What you’re going to have to do is you’re going to have to build the understructure for that. So, what I would do is I would add additional floor joists, so to speak, into that space. And the way you would attach those is with TECO brackets or joist-hanger brackets.
These are these U-shaped, big, metal clips. They’ll attach to the beam that’ll be perpendicular to this and that depends on what the shape is. But you’ll get the beam in there; it’ll be hung by these TECO brackets. And you’re essentially going to sort of build the understructure like it existed at the beginning. Depending on how hard it is to get under there and work under there, it might be a little bit tricky. But you will have to add those floor joists at either 16-inch or 24-inch centers, depending on what the top decking is.
Is the top decking 2-by material or is it 5/4?
KIRK: It’s 5/4.
TOM: Yeah. Well, you probably could get away with having 2-foot centers but I generally like to put them in on 16-inch centers when it’s 5/4.
And what I would think – what you might want to think about doing is restaining the entire deck, not just replacing it. But once you repair the section and kind of rebuild that one section but – you could restain the entire deck and then that would be less obvious that that’s a newer section.
KIRK: Appreciate the help. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck, Kirk. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Coming up, are you looking to make your green thumb even greener? We’ve got easy and unexpected ways to tend to the Earth as you’re tending to your fall lawn chores, just ahead.
TOM: Plus, Kevin O’Connor from This Old House will be stopping by with tips on the best way to keep your house safe from flooding.
And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by the Stanley Cubix Cross-Line Laser, where compact, lightweight design meets performance and accuracy.
KEVIN: Hi. I’m Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House on PBS. From floorboards to shingles, you are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show with Tom and Leslie.
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: Hey, if you like listening to The Money Pit, you might want to like us on Facebook. You can get a steady stream of home improvement tips, behind-the-scenes pics and more, all at your fingertips. Follow us on Twitter, too. The handle is @MoneyPit. And give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elizabeth in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a brick situation. Tell us what’s going on.
ELIZABETH: I have a crack in my brick wall. It is about a ¼-inch wide and it goes from a window sill down to the sidewalk.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s pretty typical. Around windows or around doors, that’s the weakest part of the wall. So if it’s ¼-inch wide, what I would do is I would seal it with caulk, because you want to stop the water from getting in there.
Now, one of the options that you might want to think about is a new product from DAP called DAP 3.0. They have a clear caulk, so it’ll blend nicely with the brick. And it’s not like silicone that looks kind of gray and mucky; it looks really crystal-clear. And it’s easy to use because it dries in 30 minutes. So I would use a product like that. I would caulk it to keep the water out because if you don’t, what happens is the water gets in there. In the winter, it will freeze and expand and start to widen that and break down the brick.
So caulk it and just accept it as normal wear and tear.
ELIZABETH: OK. And that was DAP?
TOM: DAP 3.0 it’s called, yep. DAP 3.0.
ELIZABETH: Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: Well, if you live in the part of the Northeast where Hurricane Sandy hit, you know we’ve given a whole, new meaning to the term “raising the roof,” as hundreds of homeowners rebuild their storm-ravaged homes at higher elevations.
TOM: Some are choosing this to be safer in case of another devastating storm and some are being forced to raise their homes as new maps drawn by the Federal Emergency Management Agency outline new flood zones. This Old House host Kevin O’Connor got to see different ways a home can be raised and joins us now with some insight.
KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.
TOM: It’s kind of a peculiar sight when you first see these highly perched houses. But it’s becoming more common along the Jersey Shore as homeowners decide that they don’t ever want to worry about the rising tide again.
KEVIN: Well, I mean there’s really one way to combat against the rising tide and that’s to go up.
KEVIN: You just – you can’t stop the water from rising when it’s coming. And everyone down in New Jersey learned that thanks to Sandy. Not that we didn’t know it but it certainly made the point very clear to lots of people.
LESLIE: Well, we didn’t think it was ever going to happen to us, you know?
KEVIN: You never do. It’s correct.
KEVIN: And it was a doozy. It’s something that was – I think it was an anomaly but it doesn’t matter; the waters rose. A lot of people were devastated. A lot of houses were damaged by that and so, one of the best solutions is to actually raise the house.
TOM: Now, if you’re going to raise the house, you’ve got options. There is more than one way to accomplish this. What are those options and how do you make sense of what’s the best way to go for your particular situation?
KEVIN: Well, there’s several of them. The simplest and I would say the most common and least expensive is using pressure-treated pine pilings. So, southern yellow pine pilings. Basically telephone poles.
We’ve seen these before. And what’s great about these is they’re cost-effective. You actually drive them, sort of vibrate them into the ground with a portion of them sticking above grade that you can then build your house on. They could be 30 feet long and so they give you a good footing to put that house on, hopefully put your house above the water but also allows the water to flow underneath the house.
KEVIN: It’s the most conventional way and as I say, it’s one of the least expensive ways. What’s critical, though, is that because they’re 30-foot-long pilings, that you have room to work.
KEVIN: So it kind of assumes that there’s no house on that – in the way, right.
TOM: In the way. Yeah.
KEVIN: That’s not the case for a lot of folks whose houses are still there and need to go up and you can’t get the house out of the way. In those situations, you’ve got to figure out – “OK. Well, how do I get the house up?” And in many cases, you’re talking about up 4 feet, maybe 9 feet. You still might have to go down 30 feet.
KEVIN: And in fact, we did in New Jersey. We had to actually get under houses, go down through – how do you do that? Well, one of them is a pretty cool technology. It’s actually an old technology. It’s called the “screw-down, helical pile.” I think it was invented by the British for lighthouse construction but it works very much the same way that a driller would work.
They will drill a length into the ground – say 9 or 10 feet – and then when that bottoms out, they will add another length to it and continue to drill down, adding lengths as you go.
LESLIE: Are they connecting as they go down?
KEVIN: They are connecting as they go down. And so we actually – underneath the house, that gives you the ability to take a 9-foot length that you can stand upright underneath the raised house, drill it down into the ground, add the next one and keep going until you go as far as you have to go.
TOM: And then how do you go up from there? How do you actually raise the house? Are you adding sections to it? Are you turning them all at once? How does that work?
KEVIN: Well, in those cases, we actually raise the house first.
KEVIN: We jack the house up. We’d use a traditional steel-I-beam-and-cribbing system and jack it up with pumps.
TOM: Got it.
KEVIN: And then you set it in place with temporary cribbing. That gave you room to work of about 9 feet or so. Then you drill down, screw these piles in. Once they’re all in and there’s a last segment sticking above grade, you can set the house back down on it.
TOM: Got it.
KEVIN: And you’ve got a really firm connection to the ground but also the ability for the water to flow underneath.
TOM: And as you said, unlike the pressure-treated pine pilings, this can be done under the house without any need for all that heavy equipment to get on top of it and drive pilings.
KEVIN: Exactly. And it’s a technology used a lot in commercial construction. And sometimes, they use it even when there’s no building in place. But for residential construction, it’s a good alternative.
It is pricey. Of the options that we saw, it was the most expensive option that was out there.
LESLIE: Yeah. But part of that has to be just maintaining the structure of the home as you’re jacking it up so that you can work under it, so that nothing is askew by even a tiny bit that would cause any sort of racking or damage to the structure, true?
KEVIN: Well, we saw some beautiful technology. I don’t think it’s new technology; I think it’s been around for quite a while. But there are these hydraulic lifts. So they actually – it’s a hydraulic system that’s going to these hydraulic pump jacks.
And there’s a main system. Think of it as sort of a manifold with lots of lines coming out of it. It’s intelligent enough that as it pushes the house up, it’s equally distributing the pressure to each one of those jacks. Because as you point out, the house isn’t symmetrical, the weight isn’t evenly distributed. These guys were able to lift these houses without cracking the plaster.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s amazing.
KEVIN: It really is.
LESLIE: Do you keep the furniture inside? Just a question.
KEVIN: I joke, because they could do it without cracking the plaster but they did actually punch holes in the side of the house so they could get these steel I-beams through, so …
TOM: He has to kind of thread them through. I think that’s called “needle-beaming.”
KEVIN: It shows you how sophisticated the technology is and how well-developed the house-jacking industry is.
TOM: So we talked about pressure-treated pilings – the pine pilings. We talked about helical pilings. There’s also something called “concrete piers.” How do they differ from the first two options?
KEVIN: Well, we used those, as well. And the easiest way to think about these is it’s a pier but it’s constructed piece by piece. In this case, we used concrete block.
So, again, we had a house that was already raised but we only had about 9 feet or so of elevation to work underneath it. We poured traditional footings out of poured concrete, reinforced in a frame. And then we actually started building, with concrete block, a pier from that footing up to the bottom of the house. So good, strong structure.
In this case, we were able to do it because that particular house was in what they called an A-zone, which basically means they weren’t expecting wave action. They weren’t expecting movement of water that could imperil that block construction. So a helical, screw-down pile wasn’t necessary. This was a good alternative. They were able to save some money, get the structural support that they were – that was necessary for the house and then lower it back down onto those piers.
So that’s three different ways that we did it. And I think they encompass a good choice for homeowners out there who have to raise a house.
LESLIE: Now, if you’re raising this house so that the water can pass through underneath it, in theory, can you use that space? Does it become your parking spot? Do you store things? Do you just leave it empty?
KEVIN: You can use it but you can’t use it as living space. And so, as you point out, yes, you can use it for storage, you can use it for a garage. But you cannot put the basement family room down there. You do not want to have living space down there. The assumption is it will take water, it will get damaged. And so you don’t want to finish it off; you just want to have it for storage or cars. Again, you would think that you can get those things out of there or you could replace those if they end up getting flooded.
TOM: So if you own a beautiful seaside home and your extended family wants to visit for the summer, that’s where you make them stay.
KEVIN: Absolutely. Just don’t tell anybody.
TOM: Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Always a pleasure. Thank you, guys.
LESLIE: Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are presented by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.
Still ahead, do you want to make a gardening effort even more Earth-friendly? Well, you can do that with plastic. Learn how, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a case of LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive, which is a very handy product to have around for dozens of home improvement projects.
LESLIE: It can withstand below-freezing temperatures, so you can stay inside this winter and build a fire rather than rebuild materials that have come apart in the cold. Unless, of course, you’d like to build a fire pit, which LIQUID NAILS is also perfect to help with.
TOM: Our winner gets some other fun stuff, too, like a level, a t-shirt and a cooler.
Check it out at LIQUIDNAILS.com. Give us a call, right now, with your question, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve been tackling the last few chores to close up your garden for the fall, you might know that that’s the best way to make sure your garden comes back nice and strong in the spring. But you may not know that the tools and supplies used for those chores are helping reduce waste. Here’s how, with a tip presented by Plastics Make it Possible.
TOM: Plastic actually helps make your lawn and garden greener, in more ways than one. A variety of garden tools, planters, pots and other essentials are made with recycled plastics to help prevent used plastics from going to waste.
LESLIE: Plastic garden tools and equipment, from shovels to planters, are durable and weather-resistant. So you don’t need to replace them often, leading to less waste.
TOM: Some garden supplies, like plastic pots, can be recycled at hardware stores or in the curbside programs. And some garden products also come wrapped in plastic shrink film that can be recycled by returning it to participating store locations.
LESLIE: And if you choose composite decking, you’ll be glad to know that it’s made with recycled plastics, making it a durable, attractive, weather-resistant option for backyard decks that also keeps used plastics out of the landfills.
TOM: This tip was presented by Plastics Make it Possible. For more information, visit PlasticsMakeItPossible.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Karen in Tennessee who’s got a problem with a bathroom door. Tell us what’s going on.
KAREN: The door fell down when we were putting the washer and dryer and it fell on the knob. It fell off. The hole is way oversized. I put a dowel in there, glued it, drilled a new hole but that didn’t last very long, either. How can I get by or how can I put a knob on that door without buying a new bi-fold?
TOM: OK. So the hole through which you attached the knob for the bi-fold door is oversized, correct?
KAREN: Right. Both screws are oversized.
TOM: Alright. So, in other words, it’s bigger than the screw itself, correct?
KAREN: Yeah. Yes.
TOM: So, here’s what I would do. I would turn a negative into a positive. Why not – now, is it – it’s not bigger than the handle, right?
KAREN: No, no, no, no, no.
TOM: Alright. So, why not just put a washer on the back of it? On the back of the screw. You’re not going to see the back of the door, so just put a washer through the screw and then put the screw in the hole and attach it to the handle. You’re done.
LESLIE: This way, it’ll pull it flush.
KAREN: OK. In other words, put an oversized screw in it that goes all the way through the door.
TOM: Yeah, not an oversized – well, it would go all the way – yes, it would go all the way through the door but …
KAREN: Well, it’d be longer.
TOM: Well, you don’t need it to be that much longer. A washer is 1/16-inch thick or less.
KAREN: No. The screw would have to be longer to go through – and drill a hole on the other side, because it’s a hollow door.
TOM: OK. But does the screw go through now? Normally, when you attach a handle, it goes all the way through. Is that not the case?
KAREN: It’s just one of those – it doesn’t even turn. It’s just a right handle/left handle type knob that you pull on it to open up the bi-fold.
TOM: OK. So it’s just basically screwed right into the door – the face of the door – and it’s pulling out, correct?
KAREN: Yes, yes.
TOM: So, yeah. So then why – instead of using a wood screw to attach it, why don’t you use a machine screw and then put a small nut and washer on the back of it and drill all the way through the door? So measure the thickness of the door, head over to your local hardware store and have them look for a screw that’s long enough, with a nut and the washer on the back of it. You won’t see the nut and the washer, because it’s on the inside of the door. Just don’t make it any longer than it has to be.
KAREN: Exactly. Fantastic. Why didn’t I think of that?
TOM: And that’ll solve it. Alright?
KAREN: OK. I went to all that trouble to put a dowel – oversized the hole, put a dowel in there, glue, redrill.
TOM: Well, you know what? You get an A for effort.
KAREN: And it came out again.
TOM: Yeah. Alright. Well, this will solve it. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, if you’re trying to cut heating costs this winter, have you ever wondered if closing vents in rooms you don’t use could save money? We’ll find out, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
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: Well, colder weather is upon us and this time of year, many callers we hear from here at The Money Pit want advice on saving on their heating bills.
LESLIE: And one of the best solutions is also one of the simplest: cellular shades. As it gets colder, these unique, pocketed shades will actually help to insulate your home by trapping the frosty air right at the window. You can choose between a single, double or triple cell to pick the right level of insulation for you.
Now, in the summer, these same shades can actually cut back on the heat in your home by almost half.
TOM: Now, if you combine cellular shades with drapes or curtains, you can get an even stronger barrier against the cold. And remember, warm sun shines in from the south and the west. So when it comes to adding layers, windows facing north and east are the priority.
LESLIE: And cellular shades, they’re available at Blindsgalore.com, which makes it easier than ever to get window dressings without hassle, creating 100-percent custom blinds and shades fitted specifically for your windows.
You can check out the countless options at Blindsgalore.com. And the first 25 listeners who select Money Pit at checkout will get a free copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.
TOM: Post here from George who says, “My home is 50 years old. Central heating and air were installed 15 years ago, which included 5 vents in the basement. An energy-conservation expert suggested sealing off those basement vents, since it’s not used as living space. But an HVAC expert says closing the vents will build pressure and strain the HVAC system. I want to save money each month but not if it’ll cost me in the long run. So what’s the right move?”
Well, given those facts, I don’t see any reason you can’t close off those ducts in the basement. I mean all of these registers are designed to be used either open or closed. So I would tell you to close them off and then just keep an eye on the system. If anything seems to be acting strangely, perhaps short-cycling or it’s going on and off more quickly, then you might want to call back your HVAC expert and have a second look. But I don’t see any reason you cannot shut off ducts in unused rooms. It doesn’t make sense. You’re not going to use the space, you don’t have to heat it.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post that says, “My house was built in 1960 and there are no exhaust fans in the bathrooms. I’d like to put up crown molding in the bath but will it swell from moisture? Is there a certain type I should use?”
Well, I think you’re definitely going to need exhaust fans in the bath before you even think about crown.
TOM: Yeah, let’s give you the first project first and that is to add exhaust to that bathroom. It’s really important because if that moisture condenses in there, you’re going to get all kinds of mold problems, mildew problems. It’s just not a healthy situation, so I would definitely add an exhaust fan. If it’s a second floor, duct that up through the attic into the outside.
Now, in terms of the molding, yes, certainly there are composite moldings that are available made of extruded plastic, for example. They’re actually easier to install than the wood moldings and they would be completely impervious. But I don’t think it’s just the moldings that are the issue. You’ve got to get rid of that moisture. Because remember, even that drywall is paper-faced and with all that moisture, it’s just going to grow mold eventually.
LESLIE: Alright. So install the fan, install humidistats so it actually is on when you need to get the moisture out of the bathroom. Once you get that project done, then you can get to the crown molding.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We hope that we’ve been able to share with you some great tips this hour on ways that you can make your home more comfortable, more attractive and more energy-efficient. We’ve got great content, online, at MoneyPit.com and on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, which we’d also love to share if you would like us right there.
That’s all the time we have for now, though. 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.
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(Copyright 2014 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.)