- Home Buying: Find out how millennials are buying their first homes in a tough real estate market.
- Home Improvement Advice: If you think tackling one home improvement project is tough, join our conversation with a popular HGTV expert about doing multiple projects at once.
- Babyproofing: If you’ve got a baby on the way, it’s time to start babyproofing your home! Here are important steps to keep babies safe.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Water Use: With no condensate pump draining from his tankless water heater, Sergio is collecting the water in a bucket and wonders about reusing it for his garden. We agree there’s no reason not to.
- Basement Mold: Is it really mold in the basement? Judy is thinking of using a service that claims she needs to have mold removed, but she’s being misled.
- Bathroom Vent: When the bathroom vent stopped working, Mike discovered it’s not vented through the roof and is thinking of redirecting it. We tell him how to vent it properly.
- Deck Stain: Paula wants a combination deck stain and sealer to match the house trim. She’s got lots of choices with a good quality solid color stain that will last longer.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Here to help you take on the projects you want to get done around your house, because it is just about springtime. Officially, spring starts next week. We’ve been doing spring projects for a while because we just couldn’t wait. But if you’re just getting started, we would love to help.
Reach out to us with your spring fix-up questions. Maybe it’s spring cleaning, maybe it’s organization, maybe it’s building a deck. Maybe it’s doing a beautiful, new lanai outside. Whatever is on your to-do list, you can swing it over to our to-do list by going to MoneyPit.com/Ask. Click the blue microphone button. You can record your question and send us the voicemail and we will answer it the next time we are on the show. Or you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, according to a new survey, the real-estate market has been very tough for millennials looking to buy their first home. In fact, 65 percent say they’d buy a fixer-upper to save money. We’re going to share what this newest class of home buyer is doing to get into that first home, just ahead.
And Mina Starsiak Hawk, you might know her as the host of HGTV’s Good Bones and she’s got a new podcast called Mina AF. Let me tell you, this girl tells it exactly like it is on that podcast. You get to know her – the good, the bad and the ugly – although she’s lovely. So, she’s going to be joining us soon and we love her.
TOM: And is your family growing? Well, before you hear the pitter-patter of those little feet, it’s smart to make sure that home-sweet-home is safe. So we’ve got everything you need to know about babyproofing your money pit, coming up.
LESLIE: But first, we want to help you create your best home ever. Spring is almost officially here, so let’s get you kicking off your spring projects with all the tips you need to get those jobs done right.
TOM: Plus, wouldn’t it be great if there was a guide to walk you through every step of your project?
LESLIE: Why, yes, it would be.
TOM: Wouldn’t it? Well, it just so happens we’re giving one away because we’re giving away our book, which is called My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. So give us a call right now. It’s going out to one caller or one poster drawn at random. You can also post your questions at MoneyPit.com/Ask.
LESLIE: Sergio in Arizona has a question about water heating.
What can we do for you?
SERGIO: I have a tankless water heater that was put into our house before we moved in.
SERGIO: The plumber forgot to put the hose on the – what is it? – the condensate outlet. So my question is – that water that’s coming out of there is dripping into a bucket now.
SERGIO: Can I use that water? Do you guys happen to know if it’s acidic?
TOM: It’s condensation; it should not be acidic. I think you can use it.
TOM: I mean usually, you drain it outside. Now, it’s going into a bucket – and typically if you don’t, it depends on how your – the system is set up. But if it drains down towards the floor and your plumbing is up high, as most is, typically you would drain it into a condensate pump, which is a small pump about 6×9, 6×12 kind of pump. It sits on the floor, it’s float-actuated. And then you’d have a hose on that and it would just go up a small tube. The tube’s less than ½-inch in diameter. And then you’d either drill a hole through the outside wall, right about level with the floor, and let it go out into the garden.
TOM: Or you could drop it into a drain if you had one. But I don’t see any reason you couldn’t use that water. I commend you for trying to be very Earth-friendly. And this the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, right, this year?
SERGIO: Yeah. I think, yeah (inaudible).
TOM: So why not? I don’t see any reason you can’t. Yep.
SERGIO: Right. No. And that was my other question. We have an organic raised bed in the backyard, so that – tankless water heater’s in the front, so I’d have to be poking a hole out in the front wall, which leads to nowhere. So, I was wondering, can I dump that – and that was my question. Can I dump that water into my raised bed garden in the backyard?
TOM: Yep. I think you can.
SERGIO: Yep, that was my question. I couldn’t get a solid answer anywhere in town, really. Everybody was like 50-50, you know? They say they don’t use it and some were saying yes, use it, so …
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. No, I think it’s just pure condensation, so I don’t think it’s an issue. Alright?
Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
SERGIO: Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Judy on the line.
Judy, what’s going on at your money pit?
JUDY: Well, at our money pit – that money pit – we have a problem in our basement. We have mold and so we have people coming to look at it. And they’re supposed to be working on fixing it. But I was wondering if there’s something we can do instead of having to hire somebody to do it. We put a dehumidifier down there. I’ve cleaned it out as best I can. And so, it’s just an old, 98-year-old house that we love and we don’t want it to do that. So, what can we do?
TOM: So, Judy, first of all, what kinds of folks are you talking to? Are these basement waterproofers?
JUDY: They said they specialize in mold removal and they told us that we had to get everything out of the – it’s got seven different rooms in it. And so they said that the two – we had them redo the gutters first and that seems to really have helped. And we have a dehumidifier still down there. And I’ve cleaned it all out, moved everything out of two of the rooms where they did flashlights or something and figured out that – what the – like a light that detects mold in the ceiling and two of the walls. And so they want to do those two rooms for sure, they said. I don’t know what they do but …
TOM: Well, here’s my concern. First of all, there’s a lot of folks out there that claim to be mold detectives. And the reason I asked you about waterproofers – because that’s a side business for those guys. The things that you did do, in terms of improving the gutter system, will definitely have a big improvement. Because the reason it gets damp down there is because water collects at the foundation perimeter. So clean gutters, extended downspouts and soil that slopes away from the outside walls is the best way to dry out that going forward.
Now, the mold that you are seeing, do you physically, personally see mold or are they just telling you that it’s there? And describe to me what you have seen.
JUDY: I’ve only seen – I mean it’s like – is it the – to me, it looks like the cement blocks, the porous stuff in between …
TOM: Uh-huh. The concrete blocks?
JUDY: In between the concrete blocks. That you can see – it’s almost like they’re not really hard. There’s the places where it’s kind of – it looks like it could decay or whatever you want to call it.
TOM: So, OK. So, yeah. So does it look like white or grayish and kind of crusty?
JUDY: Gray and crusty. There you go. Yep.
TOM: Yeah. See, that’s not mold. This is exactly what I was concerned about. That is not mold. What you are seeing is simply mineral deposits.
When those blocks get wet – and they’re very absorbative; they’re very hydroscopic. The water gets drawn into those walls and then it evaporates and it leaves behind its ground salt. And so, all that stuff that you’re seeing has nothing to do with mold. In fact, mold is not going to grow on concrete blocks, because they’re not organic.
So, I think you are definitely being misled. I would suggest that you not work with a mold-remediation contractor. But if you want a good set of independent eyes on that place – from somebody who doesn’t have a dog in the hunt, so to speak – I would hire a home inspector: a home inspector who’s a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
TOM: Have them look at the place and let them tell you what they see. It may very well be that you don’t have mold and what you need to do is to dry that basement out and maybe even – once it’s all dried out, you can clean out – clean off that mineral deposit. Usually, it’s – a vinegar-and-water solution will make that disappear.
And then maybe you can paint the walls with damp-proofing paint to stop them from holding as much water, letting the water at least evaporate out. That’s not the first thing you do. It’s the last thing you do, because you’re not going to keep the water out that way. But that will be the last step in terms of making that room as dry as possible.
But I think you can hold your money on the mold guys with the special flashlights that detect mold. I’ve never heard of such a thing. That was kind of a giveaway right there.
JUDY: OK, OK. Well, that is some – but because they had some – not just a flashlight but some little gadget that they were looking on the ceiling. And they said – well, they thought on the wood and the – in the ceiling area, too, that there was something. But maybe there’s not.
So you think a home inspector?
TOM: Yep. You want to go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. And you can use their Find an Inspector tool. You get somebody there. And the nice thing about ASHI inspectors is they have a standard of practice and a code of ethics where they cannot be involved in the repair work of anything on a house that they’re inspecting. So you get complete independence of advice, OK?
JUDY: OK. Sounds perfect. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck, Judy. You’re very welcome.
JUDY: Thank you. Thank you. Bye.
TOM: Well, if you’re inspired to plan your next home improvement adventure, now would be a very good time to reach out to us at MoneyPit.com/Ask, because it just so happens we’re giving away a guide to help you get through those adventures themselves.
LESLIE: Yeah. And we’ve got a copy of our book. That’s what we’re talking about: My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. That’s going to go out to one listener drawn at random, so make that you.
TOM: Someone described our book once, Leslie, by saying, “It’s the owner’s manual you never had.” You know, you buy a toaster, you get an owner’s manual. You buy a mixer, you get an owner’s manual. You buy a house, you’re pretty much on your own.
LESLIE: Yes. Same thing with a baby. Two biggest things in your life. No instructions.
TOM: Yeah, right? You could use them sometimes, too.
Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you do with your home improvement question – or you could post it at MoneyPit.com/Ask – we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and send you out a brand-new copy of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. Or we will send you a graffiti-strewn one that includes our signatures. Whatever you want.
The number here, again: 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mike in Arkansas on the line who’s got a bathroom-venting question.
What’s going on?
MIKE: Well, I’ve lived in my house for about 20 years now and it didn’t seem like I had any issues with excessive moisture up in the attic. But my vent for one of my bathrooms recently went out. And I went up there to replace it and I noticed that it wasn’t vented through the roof. And it’s probably something I should have noticed much sooner than this, seeing as how I had a metal roof put on a couple years ago and they didn’t mention anything.
Well, my question is – there is, obviously, a 3-inch drain-line vent that goes through the roof. And it’s right in between these two bathrooms that are – essentially share a wall. So, what my question is is whether or not I could put a T in that vent up in the attic and tie those two bathroom-vent fans to that T. And so exit at the roof.
TOM: OK, yeah. I understand what you’re trying to do and the answer is no. You can’t do that, because the plumbing vent you’re describing is just for that: it’s to vent your plumbing system. The bath vent for the humidity in the room is a completely different purpose, so no.
What you need to do with a bath-exhaust vent is to essentially duct it right to the outside. Couple of ways to do that. You could go up through the roof. There is a piece of flashing that will, essentially, go under the shingles and through the roof and the water will run around it. It will not leak. And then the bath-exhaust duct will be attached to that. Or you could turn it horizontally and go up towards, say, the gable vent, if there’s one on the outside end of the building. Or if you happen to have a ridge vent, you could actually terminate it right near there if you didn’t want to pierce the roof.
But you can’t tie in a bathroom-fan vent with a bathroom-plumbing vent. It seems like a good idea. I understand it. But no, you don’t want – it’s not designed to go together like that. Yeah, you can also get water that would come down that pipe and it would get into the exhaust duct for the vent fan. And then you’d start getting water inside your bathroom.
MIKE: I understand. I appreciate you getting back to me.
TOM: You’re welcome, Mike. Thanks for listening to the show.
LESLIE: Well, according to the newly-released Millennial Home Buying Report – yes, that’s a thing – millennial home buyers, they just can’t catch a break. After weathering two economic recessions that delayed their ability to buy a home, they have entered one of the most expensive markets in U.S. history. And boy, it is nuts out there still.
TOM: It is. And high interest rates are millennials’ number-one obstacle to owning a home. And 80 percent are in debt. Eighty percent. One in eight millennials are so desperate for a home, they’re actually not paying other bills which, I guess, makes it hard to qualify for a mortgage. Or they’re going into debt to save for that down payment.
LESLIE: That’s an interesting approach.
So, what else are they doing about it? Well, in an effort to achieve their goal of home ownership, 45 percent of millennials are cutting back on non-essential spending and 38 percent are working a second job or a side hustle to earn an additional source of income.
TOM: Yes. But there is, apparently, some good news: 75 percent of those surveyed think the housing market is in a bubble that could burst in 2023. And almost two-thirds believe that the buyer competition, that’s been driving up the prices, will no longer be an issue. To that, I say, “Wish list.” I don’t think it’s going to go away.
LESLIE: Well, I was going to say – are we talking about 75 percent of the millennials we asked? This is what they think is going to happen or some sort of home buying expert?
TOM: Yeah. Exactly. And now we know why they got themselves in such a jam.
But the funny thing is that 65 percent are considering buying fixer-uppers. But one in six that bought the fixer-uppers severely regret it. So it didn’t turn out – hasn’t turned out so well.
LESLIE: I mean it’s crazy. There’s been so many houses in town – I live on Long Island – that come on the market and they seem, you know, high – like a million, say – and need a ton of work. But not like, “Oh, you know what? I’m going to buy it and knock it down.” I can’t even imagine. Every time I pass a house like that, that I’m walking the dog by – somebody bought a house for a million – a little over a million – and just knock it down and start over. I’m like, “First of all, where is everybody getting this money?” But also, you can do so much to something that’s already there to make it amazing.
TOM: We see it in our neighborhood, too. The buyers come in and they go, “Well, we just want to do our own thing.” So they just bulldoze it. And in my area, most of the folks come from New York and they come over to New Jersey and they’re deathly afraid of trees falling on their house.
LESLIE: It’s crazy.
TOM: So they turn around and take out all the trees, which is awful.
LESLIE: Knock them all down.
TOM: You don’t have – it’s not – it’s a very rare circumstance when a tree falls on anything. It really is. But to take them all down is really sad.
LESLIE: Well, that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to help you understand the dos and the don’ts and the pitfalls that could happen. So don’t cut down every tree and knock down a house. Let us give you a hand.
TOM: The number here, again: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to it.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Paula from Arkansas on the line.
How can we help you?
PAULA: Well, I was looking for a sealer for my deck but I also wanted it stained. I don’t want it looking like the wood – the original wood. I think it’s pine. And I’d like to have it – something to match the trim of our home.
PAULA: I’d like a stain and a sealer all in one, if that’s possible.
TOM: Yeah. Well, first of all, you don’t have to buy these things separate, because exterior stains are just that: they are sealers and stains in one. What you need to know about it, Paula, is that you’re going to have different choices on the transparency or the translucence of the stain itself. Because you can buy clear stain, which is just that – it doesn’t have any color – or you can buy semi-transparent, which is sort of a medium amount. Or you can buy solid color, which is completely opaque. Although the grain will show through, you won’t have any differentiation in grade. Semi-transparent will give you some differentiation.
So you want to buy a good-quality exterior stain. I would recommend solid color because it lasts a lot longer. And in terms of which color you choose, there’s lots of options. You can get a cedar, you can get a redwood, you can get sort of a nice sort of charcoal gray. All the major manufacturers have a good selection of colors with that product.
Most importantly, you need to do a good job on the prep. You’ll follow the manufacturer’s instructions. But generally, you’re going to want to pressure-wash the deck and wait a few days of sunny weather so it dries out really nicely. And then you can apply the solid-color stain after that, OK?
PAULA: OK. So this is a stain and a sealer?
TOM: It’s a stain. It’s an exterior stain. Don’t get confused by looking for two products, OK? It’s one product: exterior deck stain. It seals and stains together, OK?
PAULA: OK. I was trying to confuse you but I guess I can’t.
TOM: Nope. Nope. Try harder.
PAULA: I don’t want to.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joining us today, we have a good friend and a super-fantastic HGTV superwoman, Mina Starsiak Hawk. You know her from Good Bones. She’s the daughter of the mother/daughter team and owner of Two Chicks and a Hammer with her mom and a brand-new, fun podcast. Mina is here to chat all things.
So, welcome, Mina.
MINA: Thank you. I’m so excited.
TOM: So you’ve been really successful with Good Bones. You guys have – just wrapping up your eighth season. So congratulations. A lot of good TV you’ve put out there.
MINA: Yeah. We haven’t got fired yet, so very excited.
LESLIE: I don’t know if you guys know. I worked with Mina on the first two seasons of the show. We definitely got into some hairy home improvement situations. But we were flying at an insane speed in the early time of the seasons. So, overlapping houses. It’s non-stop.
How many houses are you tackling in a season currently?
MINA: Right now – well, the most recent season that aired was 7 and I believe there were 12 episodes. So 12 full houses. And usually, we’re anywhere between 12 and 15.
LESLIE: And you guys seriously do a ton of work.
If you guys aren’t familiar with Good Bones, Mina and her team and her mom, Karen, they totally take these homes down to the bones and start from scratch.
MINA: I often get asked a lot about the show name being Good Bones. “And explain what that is for you guys.” And unfortunately, although it is a very cute name, our homes don’t really have good bones.
TOM: You wouldn’t have a show if they all had good bones.
MINA: Yeah. That implies you’ve got a good foundation, you don’t have any rot in your framing. Maybe a sturdy roof structure. And we rarely, if ever, get those few things. So, that’s kind of what became our schtick is we just – we could only really afford the worst of the worst. So that’s what we’ve been doing.
TOM: So as you’re tearing these houses apart, you’re frequently finding surprises. In fact, that’s probably what makes the show most interesting. What’s some of the craziest situations you’ve ever gotten yourself into, that maybe you didn’t expect when you first started tearing into the walls or the floors or the roof?
MINA: Oh, we had a house – I think it was Season 6. It wasn’t terribly long ago but we did demo and left on a Friday and came back on a Monday and the house had fallen over.
TOM: Oh, my God.
MINA: So that was definitely a surprise. Yeah. I was like, “Well, did neighborhood kids prank us? Did they push it over? It’s not a funny prank.” And there had just – there was a storm over the weekend. And a lot of times, on these older homes, the siding will end up being part of the structural integrity. So when you’re taking it off, you might have roof ties that aren’t actually nailed together. They literally are just leaning on each other. Once you pull that one thread then, you know, all bets are off.
LESLIE: And I think it’s so interesting. You guys obviously love Indianapolis so much. This is where you guys are born and raised and where you’ve started Good Bones and Two Chicks and a Hammer. And I love that you have become so dedicated to your city that you’re reviving all of these neighborhoods, over the course of the years, and really breathing new life and bringing new home ownership.
MINA: Thank you. Yeah, it’s definitely changed. You can see the change in the neighborhood. Where before, when I moved into Fountain Square, it was, gosh, 2009, 2010. People weren’t really out and about a ton. It was a much more artistic community, so it was these young kind of more on the fringe people living here that were wildly creative. But you weren’t seeing a lot of families; young, single women; anything like that.
And not that one is better or worse but the neighborhood has just developed so much, residentially and commercially, that there is a much more diverse group of people. There’s families. You see young, single gals out walking their doodles left and right. So, it’s just definitely changed a lot.
TOM: Now, you’re doing a lot of the work yourself, so you’ve got the sweat equity in there. But you’re also working with contractors. And I presume that you’re using contracts with these contractors which I think is something that, unfortunately, so many folks that we talk to, they get themselves in a jam maybe because they had a bad contractor or a bad experience or it didn’t come out exactly like they wished it to come out. They’re not really paying careful attention to what’s in that contract.
So what have you learned, over the years, is important to check for when you’re hiring a pro to tackle on some of those projects that you don’t want to do yourself?
MINA: I have an amazing list and great recommendations I can give to everyone. And you can still get screwed. Literally happened to us last week.
So, what I tell people is when you’re working with a contractor, if you’re asking questions and they’re annoyed, then that’s probably not a good start. But ask all the questions. Make sure – you were doing the research on your own, so you are informed enough not to do the job yourself but be able to know if it’s happening wrong. And then I always tell people, “Don’t sign a contract that says bathroom renovation.” Because what does that mean? So have it say, “OK, bathroom renovation to include the following: labor and materials or just labor or just materials, full gut down to original framing, removal and replacement of subfloor, replacement of Durock or green board.” Literally every single thing. Line-item it out.
And then I always recommend tying payment to milestones. So, not just you’re going to give them 10 grand up front and 10 grand at the end. And I think it’s a reasonable conversation to have with a contractor that if they’re not shady, I think they’ll understand. “Hey, this has happened before. I would really like to figure out a payment schedule that we’re both comfortable with. So you’re getting paid maybe in more increments but spread out over the period so I can really feel comfortable with this.”
And most contractors, as long as they’re getting paid, seem to be OK with that. But we had – we even personally had an experience where a new contractor came, did $12,000 worth of work. We closed down our store for a week. Did a huge refresh and busted butt. Was there until 2:00 in the morning. Worked with a crazy schedule. Just nailed it. Crushed it. And said, “OK, what else you got for me?” And we said, “You can do this, that and the other.” It was a $20,000 chunk of stuff. Concrete, sidewalks, things like that. And gave him the $10,000 deposit. They framed a deck, which was part of it, and disappeared.
TOM: Oh, man. So, great experience all this time.
MINA: So, yeah.
TOM: And then they start another project. You figure, “Well, the guy’s proven himself.”
TOM: And still you can’t trust him.
TOM: That’s awful.
MINA: Yep. So, it happens to even the most experienced people. So you just never – I guess never let your guard down. I let my guard down a bit.
LESLIE: It’s hard. I mean you want to trust people and then you realize. It’s like, “We’ve got to really stay on top of all of this.” But I think you’re absolutely right to tie all of those payments to certain completion points or markers. Because that’s really the only way everybody is going to hold each other accountable.
TOM: We’re talking to Mina Starsiak Hawk. She is the owner of Two Chicks and a Hammer, host of Good Bones and the brand-new Mina AF podcast.
So tell us about your new podcast.
MINA: Oh, the new podcast, it is – it’s definitely not a different version of me but not one probably that most people who know me, just based on the show, are necessarily familiar with. It’s very reflective of my social-media personal account, which is a lot of – it’s personal. It’s my kids, it’s my husband, it’s my life.
LESLIE: It’s everything.
MINA: It’s literally everything. It’s poop stories and love it or hate it, it’s me. And I think one of the things that’s been really cool about having a platform, now built elsewhere, is that I have a voice that people want to listen to for who knows what reason. But this is, I think, a really good way to talk about the things that don’t get talked about a lot.
Because it’s hard to hear the things from people you’re not comfortable. If you wanted to learn about sex, sex therapy from – as a couple and you ended up talking to this wild dominatrix or someone very outside the box, you may not even have that conversation because the comfort level is not there. And I think because who I am, what I represent to a lot of people, just – I’m Midwest. I am comfortable. So it’s a comfortable platform to talk about the uncomfortable things that everyone wants to talk about.
TOM: Well put.
MINA: They’re just afraid to talk about.
LESLIE: Well, you are always definitely true to yourself and you say it like it is. And we love getting to know the real you. And I’ve always loved the real you, Mina, so I’m glad that you’re sharing her with everybody.
MINA: Oh, well, thank you.
TOM: Mina Starsiak Hawk, host of Good Bones and the brand-new Mina AF podcast. Mina, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and sharing your new ventures. And congratulations on another successful season of Good Bones. Just wrapping up the eighth season and hopefully more to come.
Mina’s website is TwoChicksAndAHammer.com. You can check her out there. And remember, download her new podcast, Mina AF podcast.
Thanks again, Mina.
MINA: Thank you, guys, so much.
TOM: Well, when it comes to protecting kids, nothing short of a rubber room can be totally child-safe. But with just a little bit of work, you’ll be able to remove the most worrisome hazards.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, let’s talk about your windows. Now, they might look completely harmless. But if your window blinds still have cords, know that they’re one of the most dangerous items in your house for babies and young kids. So you want to shorten all long cords and tie them up and away from the reach of those little hands.
You can actually Google “Window Covering Safety Council.” You’ve got some information there on that website. Plus, you can also get a free tassel-shortening kit, which is definitely important if you still have those window tassels.
TOM: Now, another concern is furniture-tipping. Kids love to climb. So anything you have that’s got shelving on it is going to be very attractive. So make sure bookcases, large TV stands, other climbable furniture is anchored to the wall.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, here’s another one. You can finally use this as an excuse to not clean these sliding-glass doors. I’ve seen it happen with grown people, so think about it with the little kids. You clean that glass on a sliding door and it is clear and beautiful. And then a lot of times, you get people – kids, adults – no matter what who forget that that door is there. And then just walk or run straight into it. So, if that glass breaks, you can have some serious injury at hand.
So, apply those decorative details at your child’s eye level and that will give them a constant reminder that the door is closed. And throw one or two up at an adult-eye height, too. They’ll thank you for it.
TOM: There you go.
And finally, check your stairs and railings, why don’t you? You know, railings need to be at least 36 inches tall and they can have no more than a 4-inch space between any of the spindles. At the same time, make sure handrails are in place for all the stairs. And make sure those handrails have a closed end. Handrails that don’t wrap around to the wall can easily catch loose sleeves and cause a fall.
We’ve got more kid-safety tips to help you get your house good to go, for when the babies arrive, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Ready to chat with Bobby from Chicago, who wrote in to Team Money Pit. Now, Bobby says, “I have a water issue in my basement. After a heavy rain, the water is seeping up through the cracks in the floor. What can I do about these spots?”
TOM: That can be very deceptive. You see that happening and you think – most people think, “Oh, my water table must be rising.” Well, not exactly.
Here’s how that happens. Water collects at the foundation perimeter through all the sources that our loyal listeners have heard me talk about many times before: gutters being clogged, downspouts not being extended, soil being too flat, all that sort of thing.
When that water collects at the outside, a lot of times it will push, actually, down that foundation wall, underneath the footing and ride up underneath the basement slab. And then it sprouts like a geyser right from the middle of the floor. And I’ve found that, in cases like this, once you’ve solved the problem that’s causing the water to collect at the foundation perimeter, it goes away instantly.
So, Leslie, didn’t you have a situation once where there was a tennis ball or a toy or something that was stuck in a gutter? That once you pulled that out, the water just went away?
LESLIE: Why, yes, as a matter of fact.
TOM: I do remember that, because you were away. And I remember you called me in a little bit of a panic when you came back from shooting – was it While You Were Out or some TV show?
LESLIE: Two separate instances with the same gutter.
So, years ago, something with the downspout disconnected underground. Water rose in the basement. Pulled the rug. It was right after we’d bought the house. But more recently, I’m like, “Why is this floor all wet?” Turns out the boy children in my home threw tennis balls at the roof, because that’s what you do. And they clogged up the downspout and then, again, caused water in the basement.
And I don’t like getting on ladders with the roof. So I called the gutter guy and he came over. And he was like, “Well, you’re going to owe me a lot of money for this one.” And he literally went – the tennis ball popped out and made the funniest suction sound. And water just came flying out and I was like, “Oh, yeah.”
TOM: A very expensive tennis ball.
LESLIE: Yeah. He’s like, “You’ve got boy children, huh?” I’m like, “Mm-hmm. Yep. That’s what they do.”
TOM: Well, there you have it. Living the dream.
LESLIE: Yeah, if that’s what you want to call a dream. I’m in it, Tom.
TOM: Are you ready for new window treatments this spring? Leslie shares how the right kind of treatments can both freshen your space and lower your energy bills, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. Window treatments do a lot more than actually just make those windows look good. They can also increase the comfort of your home by helping keep the heat in during the winter and keep the heat out during the summer.
So, let’s talk about drapes. They add beauty but they also add efficiency to your windows. And they’re going to help reduce that heat loss by 10 percent – up to 10 percent.
Now, insulated cellular shades, those are typically considered to have the highest R-value of all window coverings. And they’re so energy-efficient that you may actually qualify for a tax credit for putting up a shade. It’s kind of amazing. I mean they’re a great choice if you’re looking for significant energy savings, as well as comfort, privacy and increased home resale value.
Now, the way you use your window coverings can also have a positive impact on your energy savings, as well. So during the winter, you want to open the drapes on the sunny side of the house during the day. And then allow that passive solar energy to help heat your home. And during the summer, just keep those shades down, especially on the south and west sides of the home, because that’s going to reduce heat gain from all that summer sunshine and lower those cooling costs.
Now, about 30 percent of a home’s heating energy is lost through those windows. And by using window coverings strategically, you can freshen up your décor and get your energy bills looking a lot better.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time, if you’ve been striving to create a lush, green lawn around your house but you feel like you’re constantly losing the battle, you may be tempted to throw in the towel and start from scratch. Well, don’t panic. We’re going to share tips on the best way to restore a luscious, green lawn, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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