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Winter Storm Preparation Tips, Holiday Door Decorations, How to Save Time on Painting Projects and more

  • Transcript

    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 it’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, it’s not Christmas yet. It’s fall. And fall is the best time for home improvements. Why? Because you can work outside, you can work inside. You can tackle projects going to give you long-term benefit, like energy-saving work and maybe some indoor décor work, some remodeling so that when you do close up the house for the long, cold winter ahead, it looks great, it is comfortable for you. Whatever project you are thinking about tackling right now, we’d love to talk with you. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Because we are here to help.

    And it’s a busy time of year around the house for family gatherings and big, busy meals and lots of visitors. So we’re going to have some tips, this hour, on how you can keep your plumbing system running smoothly so that that will not interrupt any of those festivities. And you know what I’m talking about.

    LESLIE: And don’t forget, guys, that November is still right in the heart of storm season. And severe storms, they can happen any time of the year in any part of the country. So stay with us so you can learn how to assemble a storm kit that you’ll keep at the ready, just in case of a weather emergency.

    TOM: And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a $50 gift card from True Value Hardware, a great neighborhood resource for supplies and advice on all your do-it-yourself projects. So, give us a call right now. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    MARTA: I have a set of concrete steps that are adjoined to my concrete driveway. And they are separating. The step is separating from the driveway.

    TOM: OK.

    MARTA: And I have a big crack and it’s – and the concrete is kind of starting to eat away. But I also have sand coming out and I want to know what I can do to, well – because I’ve got to fix it. I don’t know if I can just – do I use concrete in there? Do I use a sealer in there? I don’t know. But I’ve got to do something and I don’t want the crack getting bigger, especially with winter coming.

    TOM: Right. And you’re correct because if you do let it get bigger, what’s going to happen is water will get in there and it’ll freeze and expand. So you do want to seal that. I would take a look at QUIKRETE.com – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com. They’ve got step-by-step videos there that will take you through this process.

    But essentially, you’re going to use one of a number of different types of crack-repair or concrete-repair products that they sell premixed, ready to rock and roll. And you’re just going to apply it. Some come in caulking tubes, for example; some come in squeeze bottles. You apply it to those cracks – let it flow, let it settle, let it dry – and that will seal the crack and stop it from any further deterioration.

    MARTA: Because it’s up along the house, too. And I put some concrete in there but …

    TOM: Well, the problem is you can’t use regular concrete. Because if you put concrete in by itself, what happens is it will freeze and break and crack and fall out rather quickly. That’s why you need to use the products that are designed for repair because they both adhere to the old concrete and then they stop the water from flowing in.

    MARTA: OK.

    TOM: And that’s going to do the job. OK, Marta?

    MARTA: Sounds good. It was QUIKRETE.com?

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Anthony, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ANTHONY: We have a three-burner gas range: you know, one in the oven and then two on top. And we have an odor emitting from one of the pilots that seems to be a little bit higher than the other one. And it’s building up like an ashy, creosote, real fine, black mess. If you touch it, it goes everywhere. And it smells in the mornings when you wake up. Is it not vented properly?

    TOM: Here’s what I think is happening: the burner is somewhat partially blocked and so the gas is not fully combusting. And when you get a gas flame that doesn’t fully combust, it has sort of a sickeningly sweet smell to it, which actually contains a pretty high level of carbon monoxide.

    So what you should do is take those burners apart and clean them thoroughly and get them operating properly again. There’s something obstructing the burner and that’s why it’s not fully combusting. It also accounts for the fact that it’s building up an additional carbon deposit. If the gas is not fully combusting, this is what happens.

    ANTHONY: Alright. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Norma in Delaware is on the line with a flooring question. What are you working on?

    NORMA: I would like to know if – how difficult or how practical it would be to insert – I have wood floors. And in the foyer – and I have a rug there but I’m constantly cleaning it. So, I would like to know if – how practical would it be to make a circle – cut out the floor in a circle and insert some granite in there?

    TOM: So you want to put granite inside the wood floor? Is that correct?

    NORMA: Right, right. That’s correct.

    TOM: That sounds like a pretty difficult project. Sure, it could be done but you’re going to need a really good craftsman and a really good tile guy. And the wood-floor guy and the tile guy are going to be two separate guys, unless you happen to find somebody that’s really talented. Because you’ve got to get that cut just right and then you’ve got to cut the granite to fit just right.

    So you’re talking about a pretty expensive solution to a rather common problem. It seems like there might be other options, though.

    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: I think the issue is here – you’re dealing with a lot of wood – a lot of dirt that’s coming in. I hate to say it – and I never follow this rule – but it’s like the best thing to do when you come into your house is take off your shoes. And if you go ahead and do that, that’s really going to go a long way in how much you do have to clean after that.

    I think what you can do is there are some rug options. If you’re looking at items that are made for commercial arenas – like if you, say, like the look of a sisal rug, if you go to a carpet vendor, they make a faux sisal that looks like a sisal but it’s really like a polypropylene. And it even feels like a sisal rug but you can take it outside and hose it down. So you’re sort of taking away certain steps if you think creatively.

    Another thing is, if you’re dealing with wear and tear on your wood floor, is if you put a more industrial type of coating on top of the wood floor so that you’re not dealing with scratches or staining onto the wood floor from just high traffic.

    And then the other thing is you can always tile the area and sort of make it a mud room. But that’s really committing to a look but then again, so is cutting a circle in your floor and inserting a piece of granite.

    NORMA: Thank you for your advice.

    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. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, it’s the worst scenario: you’ve got a house full of guests and your toilet overflows or perhaps the hot water runs out during your mother-in-law’s shower. Oh, no! We’re going to teach you how to avoid those household holiday emergencies, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Bostitch Mechanics Tools deliver the rugged reliability you’ve come to expect from Bostitch. Designed for the professional, built to last. For more information, visit Bostitch.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    One caller we talk to this hour is going to win a True Value gift card worth 50 bucks. True Value is where you’ll find local experts with personalized advice for all of your do-it-yourself weekend projects.

    TOM: To find a local store near you, visit TrueValue.com. And for more project ideas and advice, you can visit StartRightStartHere.com or follow True Value on Facebook.

    Our number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win that $50 gift card to True Value and True Value.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Gene from South Dakota on the line who’s got a question about a thermostat. What can we do for you today?

    GENE: My wife and I, we’ve lived in our house for 14 years. And we inherited the furnace; it’s 24 years old. We do due diligence and get it serviced and looked at every fall. And that’s proved prudent but I was thinking about adding a programmable thermostat to see if that’s going to save me money. Or should I just wait until the furnace lives its full useful life – some people say that’s already past with 24 years – and then just replace the whole deal? Or will I end up saving money if I’m able to put in a programmable thermostat now with the old furnace?

    TOM: Well, I absolutely think that you should go ahead and move forward with that thermostat. You know, thermostats, in most cases, are not specific to the heating system that they operate. They’re really a stand-alone unit.

    Gene, do you have a wireless network inside your house?

    GENE: We do.

    TOM: Well, one that you might want to take a look at is the Nest Thermostat – N-e-s-t. I’ve got two of these in my house and I absolutely love it because it’s a really smart thermostat. And the return on investment you will get rather immediately. But what the Nest thing does is in addition to setting it for the peak times, it’s got this cool capability called Auto-Away. So that there’s no movement near the thermostat, so nobody’s walking back and forth by it, it knows the house is empty and it automatically brings it down to that lower temperature.

    So it’s kind of smarter than you are when you program it. It has a mind of its own and it does a really good job. And it really does cut your energy bills. So take a look at that or frankly, any other programmable thermostat. Any thermostat you put in there that’s programmable is going to save you money over a standard thermostat. And then you can reuse it when the new furnace is put in.

    GENE: Good deal. Thanks. I’m glad I called.

    TOM: Yeah, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lorraine in Arizona who needs some help with a paneling decorating project. Welcome, Lorraine.

    LORRAINE: We have an older home that has two walls that has paneling on. And I was told that if we took the paneling off, it would probably damage the drywall. So I was considering maybe trying to put something over top of the paneling to give it a different look and wanted some suggestions.

    LESLIE: Well, it depends. It depends on how it’s attached to whatever is behind it. There may not be any drywall behind it; it might just be the paneling attached directly to the studs, in which case you would have to put drywall up. It could be that the paneling was glued to the drywall. Then you would never get it off without completely destroying the drywall. Or it could be that it was just nailed on. You’re not really going to know until you sort of peer at a corner or an area where you can take off a little bit of trim work and see what exactly is going on before you make a decision. So that’s probably best-step number one.

    Now, if you find out that there’s really no removing it and your choices are to deal with the paneling and make it look better or cover over it with ¼-inch drywall, you can do that. It depends on how much work you want to do.

    Painting paneling certainly is an excellent option. I mean it creates a totally different look when you paint paneling a crisp, glossy white or an off-white or something that really just poses a good, neutral backdrop and just sort of go with it.

    LORRAINE: OK. This is very light paneling anyway.

    LESLIE: And are you at a point where you just want to see it be darker, different or gone?

    LORRAINE: Different.

    LESLIE: Painting it really does look nice. It doesn’t have to be something that, in the end, you’re going to think, “Ooh, that doesn’t look good.” You just have to make sure that you clean it, you prime it well and then you give it a good top coat.

    Now, I would really start by just taking off a piece of trimming and door frame and seeing how it’s attached. And if you want to truly start with just a fresh look, you can absolutely cover over the entire space with ¼-inch drywall without losing too much space. You’re just going to have to sort of bump out your electrical boxes, your switches, your trim work, et cetera which, for a handy person, isn’t that big of a deal. So it could be a project you could do on your own. Or to hire somebody wouldn’t be that expensive.

    LORRAINE: OK. Sounds good.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s time now for The Money Pit’s Pinterest Tip of the Week, presented by Citrus Magic Air Freshener.

    It’s that time of year for lots and lots of cooking and lots of visitors, which can actually put a huge strain on your home’s systems and appliances. We’ve got some advice now to keep everything running smoothly.

    TOM: First, in the kitchen, you want to avoid pouring fats or cooking oils down the drain. Because what happens is they solidify in your pipes and they cause clogs. So be sure to simply wipe or pour grease from pans and just throw it away.

    And also, don’t put stringy, fibrous waste in the disposal. So you’re saying, “What’s a stringy, fibrous waste?” Well, pulp – pumpkin pulp – celery, fruit peels, shrimp shells. All of that stuff can jam up the disposer, get it clogged up and then you’ll need to call a plumber on the most expensive day for plumbers of the year: one of the holidays.

    LESLIE: Right. Now, to save the hot water for guests in the morning, you want to make sure that you run your dishwasher and your washing machine at night or during those off-times of the day. This also might be a good time to check the temperature on your water heater and turn it down a bit, especially if you’ve got older relatives and younger relatives coming for a visit. It can keep your guests safe and also save you some energy.

    TOM: And of course, this is the best time of year to deal with leaky faucets or running toilets because plumbers say the holidays are the busiest time of year for them. So don’t wait until the last minute to make those repairs. They’ll cost a lot more when they become an emergency.

    LESLIE: And that’s your Pinterest Tip of the Week, presented by Citrus Magic Air Freshener. There’s magic in the air. Visit our Pinterest page and check out our Tip of the Week Board for more on this and other ideas.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Jo from Kentucky is on the line with some help with a bathroom cleaning project. What can we do for you?

    JO: Yes. I have an old bathtub and where the water has leaked, I have some porcelain – I guess it’s a porcelain tub. I have some orange spots in there and they look like they’re going to eventually just give way on me. I want to know how I could patch that up.

    LESLIE: Are they super-tiny or are they, you know, an inch or so?

    JO: Yes. Oh, yes, they’re very small.

    TOM: There are touch-ups but you know what? They will show.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I’ve used one. When we bought our house, there was a tiny – I mean super-tiny – little rust spot in our tub. And I used a product called Porc-a-Fix? And you can get it in – pretty much in any home center. It comes in a variety of whites and off-whites, so you kind of have to guess which one is going to work close enough to your exact white or bisque or whatever you want to call it.

    JO: Right.

    LESLIE: And it almost looks like it’s a nail-polish bottle, kind of.

    JO: OK.

    LESLIE: And you apply it in gradual layers, letting it set up and then going back the next day and putting another one on until you build it up. And it’s done a fairly good job. We’ve been in the house eight years and it’s still there, it’s still covered up. But I know exactly where it is.

    JO: OK. Well, I thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Cecily in Iowa is on the line with a wallpaper conundrum. What’s going on at your money pit?

    CECILY: Well, I have a probably 24-year-old townhome that I think the paper has been on the wall since – for that long.

    TOM: It was popular back then.

    CECILY: Yeah, yeah. Back then.

    I’m just wondering – person I had in here tried to, where the wallpaper butts up against the ceiling, there’s – it looks like a bad job and there’s some marks. And he thought he could wipe it down. And everywhere he wiped it down, there’s like a watermark all along where he – looks like icicles: an uneven line of watermark.

    And I don’t know if it can – I’ve been told you can paint over it. I mean we have vaulted ceilings; it’s a lot of paper. And I don’t know how you would – if what – they took it off. There’s actually some posts papered with it and I don’t know what’s underneath.

    TOM: I think the answer is you can remove it. It’s a lot of work, like any type of wallpaper.

    CECILY: Right.

    TOM: If you want to paint over it, it’s going to look like the wallpaper underneath.

    LESLIE: Textured paint.

    TOM: It’s going to look textured underneath. So, if you want to do like a really inexpensive, short-term fix, you could paint over it. I would recommend that you use a very thick roller on that because otherwise, it’s going to be very hard to get the paint in where it has to go. And maybe you might even need to use a slitted roller: the kind of roller that we use on textured ceilings where it has actually sort of slots in it. Because it really gets in and around and thick and will sort of fill out that whole surface with paint.

    CECILY: Mm-hmm. Is it terribly difficult to remove?

    LESLIE: It depends on how long it’s been there, what the prep process was to the wall below the paper. All of those can add up to an easy job or a tremendously difficult job. And it’s one of those things that you don’t know until you try. And there are ways to do it.

    Now, with a textured wall covering like this, whether it’s grass cloth or the string cloth, you can try to use a store-bought wallpaper remover, you can use a steamer, you can do homemade concoctions. One is white vinegar and hot water, another is fabric softener and hot water. Both situations, you super-saturate the walls and just sort of let it sit there for a few minutes. I’ve even heard of clothing starch with hot water and making a paste onto the wallpaper.

    And I’ve used the fabric softener and that does work. That was a traditional vinyl, which I had to score first. But I’ve also heard with grass cloths, that you can take a paint scraper and scrape the actual string cloth or the grass cloth off of the backing, so that might make it easier to remove. Either way, it’s going to be a lot of work and you never know what’s behind it. You could get everything off and the wall could be so textured and dinged up that you end up having to put a layer of drywall over it anyway.

    CECILY: Ah, OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. That’s very helpful and I’m glad I called.

    TOM: Terrific. Cecily, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still to come, when severe weather is in the forecast, it’s almost too late to start your preparations. Stores are crowded, everything gets chaotic. But you can prepare now and be ready and rest assured when you do hear that the storm is on the way. We’re going to tell you how to do that, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, if a severe storm is forecast in your area, it is important to take every precaution to protect your home and your family from damage.

    TOM: And a good place to start that prep is outside. Here to tell us how is Ed Del Grande. He’s a master plumber and home improvement expert for KOHLER Generators.

    Welcome, Ed.

    ED: Oh, it’s a pleasure to be back and I’m happy to be giving some information on – about such an important topic.

    TOM: Well, I think the main culprit, when it comes to damage in a severe storm outside your house, is wind, correct? And there’s a lot of areas that we need to reinforce so that doesn’t become a problem.

    ED: Oh, absolutely. And if it’s not the wind itself just beating against the house, any objects that it’s pushing around – that it breaks limbs off trees or loose objects in the yard – that’s now a projectile. So you’ll not only get the wind damage but you’ll get projectile damage, as well, if you don’t prepare.

    TOM: So where do we start?

    ED: Well, the first thing that I like to tell people to start is make sure you protect your windows, like everybody does and you see it. They put the plywood up, which is a great idea. But a lot of times, you may not have the resources or the time to put up the plywood. So putting up storm shutters ahead of time – or the other thing, Tom and Leslie, I tell people to look into the hurricane windows if you live by the ocean because the window itself is now the storm shutter.

    LESLIE: That’s very smart. And that can be done as a replacement part, as well? It has nothing to do with the framing?

    ED: Right. Now, you may not want to change your windows if they’re in great shape now and just swap them all out. That could be expensive. But if you live in a hurricane-prone area and you’re changing the windows anyway, that’s the time to look in the upgrade.

    LESLIE: Now, what about garage doors? I feel like so many of us have attached garages. And if the garage door does sort of fail due to depressurization, then your whole house becomes compromised. So what can you do to shore up a garage door?

    ED: Well, I’ll tell you – from my firsthand experience here in New England, because I also live in a hurricane zone – when I was younger and we were building houses, they were more or less just the single-car garages or the two single doors together and they were a little stronger. But nowadays, with styling and also to save a little money by putting in one big door instead of two smaller ones, that large door could get a little weak in the middle. So it’s a good idea to brace up the garage doors if you think they’re going to be a little bit weak for the storm.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. We always suggest that people put 2x4s behind those doors and then unplug the openers. Because there’s no need to keep it plugged in during the storm. You can reinforce the door and then take it all apart after the storm passes, right?

    ED: Right. You can do that and that’s good because you can be ready for the storm. But the other thing I’ve seen people do with great success is they may contact their garage-door company or their garage-opener company and look into how they could support that door a little bit more. And sometimes, you may even get an upgrade kit from the factory where you can make a permanent, structural fix to that door and make it just a little bit stronger if you live in a hurricane-prone neighborhood.

    TOM: Now, let’s talk about roofs. Loose shingles often fly off during a storm. Is it a good idea to survey your roof for any loose areas ahead of time?

    ED: Yeah. You know what? It’s always a good idea to check your whole house before the storm. But the truth is, you want to prepare before hurricane season even starts. Have your roofer come up. Walk the roof, check for weak areas, loose shingles and things like that. And making the repairs before hurricane season could really save you a lot of money if the storm hits. Because let’s face it, guys, if the storm is coming, the last thing you’re going to be able to get probably coming down to your house is a roofer to fix up all these loose areas.

    LESLIE: You know, Ed, after dealing with Hurricane Sandy here in the Northeast, I cannot even believe the spike in generator sales. Is it a good idea to invest in a standby or can you get by with a portable one?

    ED: Well, in years past, because of the extra price of standby generators and because of maybe a lot of people didn’t even realize standby generators were available, portable generators seem to have been the standard. But now that people realize that portable generators are very competitive – I mean they’re very affordable now to have your own standby power system installed in your house and the fact that people are realizing standby generators are automatic and there’s really nothing to do with them before the storm – they’ll come on by themselves – well, things have changed.

    Now the normal, with all the contractors I know, is going to the standby generators. So, it’s something that, I think, every homeowner should look into. And you could go to KOHLERGenerators.com and they could set you up with a dealer in your area. They’ll come down and do the job for you.

    TOM: Good advice. Ed Del Grande, Master Plumber and Home Improvement Expert for KOHLER Generators, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ED: My pleasure.

    TOM: And if you’d like more information, you can visit KOHLER Generators’ website at KOHLER – that’s spelled K-O-H-L-E-R – Generators.com. That’s KOHLERGenerators.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, you want to give your walls a fresh, new look but the thought of all that prep work is just giving you a headache? We’ve got some tips on a product that can cut prep time but still give you a perfect, finished result, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain MyQ Garage. When you forget, it alerts your smartphone so you can close your door from anywhere, on most garage-door openers. Available now. For more information, go to Chamberlain.com.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Get on the air with us right now and we’ll toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat to win a $50 gift card for True Value and TrueValue.com.

    True Value has inspirational ideas on how to use that gift card for your next weekend project on the True Value Pinterest page, as well.

    LESLIE: True Value is your one-stop shop for all the tools, supplies and advice to get your do-it-yourself fall weekend project done right. You can also get great project ideas at StartRightStartHere.com and find your local True Value store at TrueValue.com.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dreama in West Virginia is on the line and could be dealing with a structural issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    DREAMA: Yes. I purchased a house about 13 years ago and the house is approximately 30 years old. And all of a sudden, last year, in the load-bearing center wall, I started getting a crack. And now, within a year, that crack has gapped approximately a ½-inch wide and it’s also – I noticed another room has a crack now. So I had a local handyman look at it and he suggested that I put in three piers – columns – to support the center wall.

    And I guess my question is – I haven’t had an official, large construction company look at it yet. I’m getting ready to do that. But I wanted to educate myself a little bit more. What would you all suggest?

    TOM: How long have you been in this house?

    DREAMA: Thirteen years.

    LESLIE: And this is new.

    DREAMA: Just started about a year ago.

    TOM: See, here’s the thing. If you call a contractor, you’re going to get a contractor’s solution, which is to hire them to do something. What I would suggest you do first is to get an independent expert opinion, not necessarily an opinion from a contractor. So your options on that are two: one is low-cost; one, I would say, is moderate cost.

    The low-cost option would be to find a local professional home inspector. You can go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org.


    TOM: And you can put in your zip code. They’ll shoot back a list of certified professional home inspectors in your area. You can call from that list, find somebody that’s experienced and have them look at it. Because they’re just there to find out what’s going on and what caused it and what it’s going to take to fix it.

    The second way to go, which is the moderate cost, is to actually hire a structural engineer. Now, why may you want to do that, Dreama? Well, you might want to do that – if this is a fairly obvious problem, you want to certainly preserve the value of your house.

    DREAMA: Right.

    TOM: And if you have a structural engineer look at it and write a report as to what’s going on and what it’s going to take to fix it and then you actually give that report to a contractor and say, “This is what I want you to do,” and then you have the engineer sort of recertify that it was done correctly. It’s kind of like having a pedigree that the repair is done correctly and then kind of sell with your house, so to speak.

    Problem with contractors is that they’re not structural engineers; they’re just handy guys and they think that they have the expertise to fix stuff like this and they just don’t. They don’t have the schooling, they don’t have the education, they don’t have the training. And so, that’s not necessarily the best way to go about dealing with a situation like this.

    I am a little concerned that it happened over this past year because it sounds like it’s active and we want to get to the bottom of why it’s active and why it’s showing up all of a sudden.

    DREAMA: Well, someone had mentioned that it’s a possibility – we’ve had a lot of dry – several dry summers and – because that could cause a settling in the foundation. Is that possible? I’ve never heard of that before.

    TOM: No. I mean there are some expansive soils that behave differently when they dry out a lot but listen, there’s going to be a lot of opinions. Every neighbor you ask is going to have a different one. What we’re trying to do is move you towards an expert opinion so you really know what you’re dealing with.

    So, as I said, contact a professional home inspector or a structural engineer. Get the assessment. It’s well worth it. Your home is a big investment. We want to make sure it’s protected, OK?

    DREAMA: I hadn’t thought of a home inspector. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, one of the most time-consuming parts of painting is, of course, the prep work. It’s got to be done for a flawless, finished product. And that’s why there’s a big opportunity for products that can help cut that time and Red Devil has one that can do just that. It’s called Red Devil ONETIME Patch & Prime.

    And here’s how it works. It’s a lightweight formula that allows you to fill holes in one easy application, with no shrinking or sagging. It dries fast, it’s ready to paint in just minutes and you don’t have to sand it. And because the primer is kind of built in, you don’t have to prime it first before you put your finish coat. You can just go right to the finish coat and you’re good to go.

    LESLIE: Now, the tub is square, which makes it much easier to use with a putty knife. Because when you try to scrape off the excess with a round tub, it’s kind of awkward. You know, this way, you can actually get a flat edge to scrape your putty knife against. And each pint-size tub of Patch & Prime comes with a free putty knife, which is ready for your next spackling job.

    Visit SaveOnRedDevil.com for more information and special offers.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Our special offer to you is to pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Mark in South Carolina is on the line with a showerhead question. What can we do for you?

    MARK: Yes. My wife has been after me for several years. She said that the pressure coming out of our shower nozzle just can’t get the shampoo out of her hair. And I put four different shower nozzles on there. I had a plumber that actually went out to the line out at the street, where we tapped into the line, and they’re all saying there’s nothing I can do. Do you have any suggestions for me?

    TOM: Mark, do you have hard water?

    MARK: I don’t know. How do you know if you have hard water?

    TOM: Because you have hard water, that’s exactly what it would feel like: it would feel like you can’t get your …

    LESLIE: It makes it feel like you can’t get the shampoo or the soap off.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. Do you have well water or do you have city water?

    MARK: City water.

    TOM: Are there any other showers in the house that she uses and seems to work fine?

    MARK: No. She went to the other shower and said that didn’t work either. So I kept changing out the shower nozzles. Nothing seems to work.

    TOM: Yeah, you might want to get a water test done because that’s exactly the symptom of a hard-water problem that you described.

    MARK: Hard water. OK.

    TOM: Yeah. And then you could – there’s a number of ways that you could put water softeners in and that will make that go away.

    Now, in terms of the showerhead itself, yeah, the newer, water-efficient showerheads, there are some folks that complain about not having enough water in there.

    MARK: Yeah.

    TOM: But I will say that the better ones seem to have engineered that out.

    Like, for example, I know Moen has a couple of different ones that are available, that have multiple settings. And they’ve engineered these so that you get a good spread of water across the showerhead but you still have the water savings.

    MARK: OK. Moen. Got that.

    TOM: Yeah. Check the hardware out. Then take a look at the better showerheads, like the ones by Moen. Those are really terrific. And I’ve got one, actually, in a shower upstairs that’s like a rain shower, kind of wide head. And it works great.

    MARK: Well, that’s a good suggestion. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Is your front door looking drab and dreary? Well, you can give it a boost with some color and texture for the fall season. We’re going to tell you how, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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: Hey, if you head on over to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, you can get in on the Weekend Warrior Sweepstakes. We’ve got some fantastic prizes up for grabs, including three lawn-and-garden power tools from Black & Decker and the GutterClear 365 Gutter-Protection System. That’s online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: And our grand prize, guys, is a set of lithium-ion, 20-volt power tools from PORTER-CABLE worth 600 bucks. We’ve got $1,500 worth of prizes up for grabs in all, so “fan” us on Facebook to enter today. If you share it with your friends, you’re going to get bonus entries. It’s all at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    TOM: And while you’re on MoneyPit.com, why not post your home improvement question? That’s what David from Colorado did and he’s talking about a very common problem this time of year. He says, “I’ve heard what I can only describe as scampering in my walls. What’s the best way to get rid of rodents?”

    When it gets cold outside, the rodents come inside. So, there’s a few things that you can do, David. First of all, you want to survey the outside of your house. Avoid the nesting sites: stacks of newspaper, firewood piled up, that sort of thing. You want to secure the home from the outside. Any gaps or cracks should be stuffed with steel wool or caulked. You want to keep a clean house, because the rodents love that, and you want to use baits.

    Also, check out The Money Pit’s pest-prevention podcast for an extensive list of solutions for this problem, at MoneyPit.com/PestPreventionPodcast.

    Well, there is no one that loves decorating more, in my life, than Leslie Segrete and she does it all year long but especially around Thanksgiving. And there’s no place better to decorate for the season than your entryway. As luck would have it, that is the topic for today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Your entryway serves as a perfect place to show off your love of this season. And I’ve got a few ideas to hopefully inspire you. I know a lot of people think I’m crazy but yes, I decorate for Thanksgiving and pretty much any other festive time throughout the year.

    Now, fall wreaths, they’re really a beautiful touch and you can do them a couple of ways. You can buy a basic Styrofoam ring or you can get a grapevine wreath from your local crafts store. And then you can gather things from your own yard and you pin them to it. You can use leaves or pine cones, acorns, whatever says “autumn” to you.

    And there’s a couple of ways to do it. If you go with a grapevine wreath, you can attach whatever you find to picks and sort of poke them in there. If you go with a wire form, you can just lay your different branches over it and then wrap floral wire to sort of hold it in. And if you go with the Styrofoam, you can use straight pins, really, as the best way. It all, again, depends on what you’re putting on it.

    Now, when it comes time for hanging up your fall festive wreath, you want to avoid putting a hole in your front door. It could damage it, it could void the warranty. Whatever it is, you just don’t want to do it.

    Now, you can get a small easel and you can prop the wreath up on your porch or you can use some fishing line and a suction cup-and-hook to sort of hang it from either the exterior or loop back over into the interior.

    And speaking of your door, have you ever thought about framing it with garland? Garlands aren’t just for Christmas. You can use something as simple as rope to attach your fall décor items to or you can frame your door by propping up tall corn husks on either side and putting pumpkins next to them. Or even that artificial leaf garland. It looks lovely. I mean you can find some really nice ones at good prices at those crafting stores.

    And I loves orange lights this time of year. I usually put them up around Halloween. Maybe I’ll mix in some purple to give it that Halloween-y, spooky effect. And then sure enough, November 1st, I’ve removed the purple ones and now I just have my autumn lights.

    So, really, think creatively. Make your home festive. It’s just such a nice way to dress things up for the holiday season.

    TOM: Great tips. Coming up next time on The Money Pit, we’re going to talk about leaking roofs. They can be a tough problem to fix. First you’ve got to find the leak and that’s not always as easy as it sounds but we can help. We’re going to teach you how to diagnose and fix a roof leak, 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 2013 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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