- Top Home Improvement Projects: Some home improvement projects are more popular than ever. Learn what projects homeowners are making the most purchases for.
- Garage Doors: New garage doors provide the best ROI on your home. Here’s what to look for when installing new ones.
- Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide poses a real danger and can come from various sources. Learn what you can do to keep your family safe.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Wood Decks: After tearing down an old deck made of untreated lumber, David wants to know how to choose the wood for a new deck. We explain how to compare the ratings of pressure-treated wood depending on how it’s used.
- Cedar Shingles: Ivy may look lovely on exterior walls, but it causes lots of problems. We have advice for Lauren about restoring or replacing her cedar siding after removing the overgrown ivy.
- Floors: Is that dip in the bathroom floor caused by decay or a structural defect? Daniel finds out the most common cause and how to repair the floor to make it level again.
- Plumbing: Kate just discovered that her kitchen plumbing vent is sealed. It may have been overlooked when the vent was pressure-tested, but it should be okay to leave it alone if it’s not causing any problems.
- Insulation: What is the best way to upgrade insulation that’s blown into an attic? It’s a DIY project, but Doug needs to remove the old insulation first before adding new blown-in insulation that will provide a solid, targeted application.
- Molding: The nice bullnose corner molding in Natasha’s house has gotten dented over the years. We’ve got instructions on how to repair and repaint the molding without having to remove it.
- Window Leaks: The way Adam’s bay window and skylight line up seems to be causing some leaks. We’ll tell him how to add a diverter on the roof to redirect the water and put caulk around the windows to seal them better.
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: What are you working on this week, this weekend, this day? If you are working on a project inside or outside your house and you’ve run into a problem, a question, a frustration, a surprise, you don’t know how to proceed or you just need some help planning, that’s what we’re here for. We’ve been doing this for 20 years and we’re here to give you the tips and advice you need to get your projects done.
Help yourself first by reaching out to us with your questions. There are a couple of ways to do that. First, you can go to MoneyPit.com/Podcast, click the blue microphone button and leave us your question. Or you can call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, have you bought more home improvement products since the pandemic started? Well, turns out you’re in very good company. A recent survey details that these purchases have jumped since then and they are continuing to rise. We’re going to share which products have been most in demand.
LESLIE: And you know your garage door takes up a big chunk of the front face of your home. But here’s something about the garage door that you may not know: it turns out installing one gives you the highest return on investment of any project you do to the house. We’re going to tell you how much that is and how you can pick the best door for your home, just ahead.
TOM: And you can’t see it or smell it but according to the EPA, hundreds of people die accidentally each year from carbon-monoxide poisoning caused by heating systems. We’ll have a way to keep you safe.
LESLIE: But first, we want to help you create your best home ever. From bathrooms to basements, demolition to décor, we’re your coach, your counselor, your cheerleader. Whatever size project, big or small, we’re here to lend a hand.
TOM: We’re sometimes even your home improvement therapist if it really gets bad. But we’ll get you through it. Reach out to us with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or go to MoneyPit.com and click the blue microphone button.
Leslie, let’s get to it. Who’s first?
LESLIE: David from Mississippi is on the line and has a question about a decking project.
What’s going on?
DAVID: I tore down my old deck – a wooden deck – for the most part. It was built was untreated lumber.
DAVID: So, I’ve been pricing lumber at Lowe’s and a local place called Marvin’s. And Marvin’s has that yellow wood and Lowe’s doesn’t. Is there a difference in the lumbers – exterior lumbers?
TOM: Well, the yellow wood is actually not the color yellow. It’s Y-e-l-l-a; it’s a brand name. But they’re both treated lumber. And basically, I think you can fairly compare one to the other by making sure that your – what the rating is for it.
Now, on the end of the lumber, there’s really two ratings: above-ground or ground-contact. So above-ground is going to have less preservative in it and ground-contact, that’s kind of for 6×6 timbers where you’re, say, building a retaining wall and that sort of thing. But I think if you compare the above-ground contract boards in either retailer, you’re going to be able to make apples-to-apples comparison. I think they’re pretty similar.
DAVID: OK. So that’s all I really was wanting to know. So I appreciate that.
TOM: Alright. Did the deck come down easy because of all the rot from the untreated lumber?
DAVID: Oh, yeah. Came down real easy. Putting it up was easier than taking it down.
TOM: That’s right. Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Lauren on the line who’s got a question about some siding issues from some overgrowth.
Tell us what’s going on.
LAUREN: Last year, my husband and I moved into a split-level ranch that was built in 1957. And at the time that we moved in, it had been vacant for a while and it was somewhat neglected. And there was a lot of ivy and other plants that had grown up against the house. So when we moved in and had those removed, we noticed that there was a lot of damage to the siding underneath.
The siding is cedar siding. And as far as we can tell, it’s not been well-maintained. So we aren’t sure when it was sealed last or painted last. Missing a lot of caulk, a lot of gaps in addition to the damage that the plants have done to it.
So, we’re wondering if cedar siding is always worth salvaging or if we should maybe consider a different siding material? And then the other question is: if the cedar siding is worth saving and fixing up, who would we contact to do that? What type of contractor? Would we contact a painter? Are painters usually equipped to also do cedar-siding repair?
TOM: You know, ivy always seemed like a good idea when it’s first planted and it’s so cute.
LESLIE: So pretty, too.
TOM: Right. It’s pretty when it’s on a brick building. And I think – but when you put it on a …
LESLIE: Even then it’s not so great. But it’s beautiful to look at.
TOM: Yeah, that’s true. But when you put it on a house that’s got wood siding, oh man, it thinks the siding is the dirt and it just will go in between the boards. And if it gets bad, it can pop them off the wall and cause leaks. And so I’m so glad that you got rid of that, Lauren.
But as to your questions, look, cedar is absolutely beautiful. Yeah, sure, it’s more maintenance than vinyl siding and some other sidings but it’s gorgeous. I don’t think the fact that you’ve had some damage to it means that you should completely go in a different direction.
What I would suggest is you get a good painter to work on prepping that material. It’s going to have to probably be wire-brushed, sanded, scraped, whatever it takes to get it ready to accept new paint. When you do that, then at that point you’ll know how many boards have to be replaced. The painter may be able to do that but you probably will need to hire just a carpenter to come and take care of that piece of it.
Then, in terms of staining it, I would recommend that you prime it and then use a solid-color stain, because that’s going to last the longest. And after it’s stained, then you can go ahead and caulk the seams. And that’s – or caulk it around the windows and doors. And that’s something that the painter will definitely do.
But if you do decide to take it all off, I would probably recommend that you go with a HardiePlank siding, because Hardie is a composite material. I have it on my old house, on the garage, and it actually matches the original cedar shingles that are on the house pretty darn well. I like the fact that it was factory-painted. And I’ve had it for, I don’t know, probably 20 years now. I haven’t had to touch it with a paintbrush, I’ll tell you that. It still looks as good as the day it was installed. But it’s expensive.
So, those are your options. I don’t think you have to tear it all out just because the ivy got a little too close to it. I do think you can restore it.
LESLIE: It’s so interesting when you see all the little suckers from the ivy.
LESLIE: The remnants of what it leaves on the siding, whether it’s brick or any other material. It’s just amazing how strong it is.
TOM: Yeah. And it can grab into anything. But when you have cedar, it’s like a perfect medium for it.
LESLIE: Yeah. I even have the HardieShingles on the side of the house. And it got underneath it on the side as I was cleaning stuff up. I was amazed it – for sure. I was amazed at how quickly it got in and around and under things.
Hey, guys. What are you working on? Maybe you’ve just completed a project.
I actually just finished wallpapering my bathroom. I finally got around to doing it. Not going to lie, it’s Harry Potter wallpaper and it’s outstanding. And it’s funny. I was showing it to people at work and they were like, “Oh, which bathroom are you putting this in in your home?” I was like, “The only one.” And they’re like, “Oh. You’re putting Harry Potter bathroom wallpaper in the only bathroom you have?” And I’m like, “Mm-hmm. And I love it. And everybody be quiet about it.” So, that’s what I’m working on and I just finished that.
What are you guys working on? Maybe you need some help looking for the next project. Well, why not join us every Monday and Thursday on our podcast at MoneyPit.com/Podcast? You’re going to find great DIY info and you can listen whenever you like. So check it out.
TOM: We get all these calls from people that want to get rid of wallpaper. And they’re like, “What were they thinking when they put up this wallpaper?” Well, sometime, way in the future – way, way, way in the future – when you’re not in that house …
LESLIE: Somebody’s going to call. “We just moved into this house and it has Harry Potter wallpaper in the only bathroom in the house. Who would do that?” Me. Shut it.
TOM: “I’ve heard this before. Only once. I know. Not only do I know the house, I know who put it up.”
LESLIE: It was me. And I really like it.
Daniel in Illinois is on the line dealing with a dipping bathroom floor.
What’s going on?
DANIEL: I’ve got an older house that I’m doing some work on. And the bathroom floor seems to dip from the bathtub on one side, down and from the sink and the toilet on the other side, down towards the middle.
DANIEL: And I’m wondering what would be the easiest way to – for a homeowner to be able to fix something like that.
TOM: Bathroom floors typically get weak in two places. One is at the edge of the bathtub. And that happens from just years and years of water splashing over the side of the tub or as you get in and out of the tub, just water dripping down there getting the floor wet and it started to decay. And the other area is right around the base of the toilet.
Based on that, do you think that any of this could be decay or do you sense it’s more of a structural defect?
DANIEL: I’m thinking it probably is more of the decay, because it’s more prominent towards the toilet side of the floor.
TOM: OK. So what you’re going to need to do in that situation is basically replace the floor. So you’d have to take out the toilet and you would have to tear up the floor and get to the – whatever is below the tile. I presume you have tile. There’s probably going to be plywood there.
And you want to get down to something that’s reasonably flat. It doesn’t have to be completely rot-free because if it has some structural integrity, you can put a new layer of plywood on top of that. And that will transfer the support to that upper layer and it will work quite well.
The other thing to keep in mind is the toilet flange may have to be adjusted by your plumber up a bit so that it ends up being flush with whatever the new floor level is going to be. But when the floor decays like that, there’s no way it can be patched. It really is a structural issue and it has to be properly repaired. It’s kind of a pain-in-the-neck job because you’ve got to work in such a small place and you’ve got to take the toilet out to do it. But it really is the best way to do it.
DANIEL: OK. Alright. Sounds great. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Daniel. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kate in Minnesota, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
KATE: I live in a 50s rambler in Minnesota. And when I moved in, the inspector said that our kitchen-plumbing vent had been covered. So, this summer, I went up there to uncover it. But the cap come off and it’s still welded across the top. Is there a reason that this would be sealed off like this? And what’s the easiest way to uncover that for a DIYer?
TOM: Hey, Leslie, I’ve actually seen this before. When plumbers put systems in, sometimes they do cap it so that they can check the pressure on the whole system. They’ll blow air in it and see if they have any leaks. Problem is that this guy forgot to take the cap back off.
So, in your case, Kate, you could cut off that end of the pipe to basically restore your vent. But I’m not sure where it is. If it’s probably up in the attic, you really should extend it through the roof. Now, having said all that, if it’s been like this for a long time and you’re not seeing a sluggishness of the drains or hearing any gurgling or anything like that, it’s probably working fine. They’ll be pulling air from other places in the plumbing system and you might just want to leave it alone.
But if you do decide to cut it, remember, you’ve got to extend it up and out through the roof. You’ll need a piece of plumbing-vent flashing to do that. You’ve got to go on the roof. So it is kind of a potentially treacherous job for a DIYer that’s not used to working in that environment.
Well, have you guys been doing more home improvement projects since the pandemic started? It turns out a lot of people are. Because since 2020, people have been investing a lot more money in their homes. And according to the Home Improvement Research Institute, sales of home improvement products are continuing to rise. So we thought it might be interesting to see exactly what projects people are making the most purchases for.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, outdoor spaces continue to get a lot of attention. Now, the lawn-and-garden category leads the list with nearly 70 percent of homeowners stocking up on lawn products, as well as yard equipment, so they can improve and enjoy their outdoor-living space. I mean no kidding with the pandemic and everybody being stuck at home. Those outdoor spaces became so valuable and so amazing to make look fantastic for you.
Now, inside the home, painting, that’s clearly a very popular do-it-yourself project, with more than 60 percent of homeowners stocking up on various painting supplies to give their rooms a fresh, new look. And some other popular indoor projects involved electrical and lighting products, like some new light fixtures, plus plumbing repairs so that things were like new faucets, water heaters, toilets. So some of these seem like necessities, while others of them were improvements.
TOM: Well, they’re probably getting more wear and tear, too.
LESLIE: True. Everybody’s home.
TOM: Now, all those home improvement projects, both indoors and outdoors, require having the right tools, including products to keep all those DIYers safe. So nearly half of the homeowner purchases in 2022 were for protective gear, like gloves and knee pads or useful items like work lights and utility knives.
And if you’re wondering who’s buying all these home improvement products, well, baby-boomers are in the lead, mostly because they represent a higher percentage of home ownership than the younger generations. Plus, they also live generally in homes that are older and that they’ve owned for a long time and that are due for some DIY repairs and renos.
LESLIE: Now, for all age groups though, guys, planning for more home improvements and investing in the best products and materials needed to get them done is still a growing market. So bottom line, there’s a big, big shift towards improving home spaces and truly no indication that it’s slowing down any time soon. So that’s great for everybody.
TOM: Especially us. I call it job security.
LESLIE: Seriously. There’s always going to be something to work on at home.
Hey, if you’ve got some projects you’re working on at home, reach out to us with your questions. We’re here to help: 1-888-MONEY-PIT or go to MoneyPit.com/Ask.
LESLIE: Doug in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DOUG: I’ve got a 30-year-old home here in Northeast Texas. Wanting to know the best way to upgrade my insulation in the attic. It has what I would call – it looked like a recycled newspaper, maybe, blown in there. Probably about 2½, 3 inches thick. And wondering if I could just blow a new type of insulation on top of it. Or do I need to do preparation first?
TOM: Yeah, you can add additional insulation and that makes a lot of sense. But I would not put new insulation on top of that old insulation because the old insulation is probably settled down, compressed and it’s not insulating as well as it should. So what I would recommend is that you remove the existing insulation.
Then, if you want to go with blown-in, there’s actually a product out now that allows you to do your own blown-in insulation. It’s from Owens Corning and it’s called AttiCat. And the way AttiCat works is you go to your local Home Depot and you purchase the bags of AttiCat insulation. And if you buy 10 bags, they will give you the blowing machine for free. The rental – there’s no charge for the rental.
And then the blowing machine gets positioned outside your house or in your garage or whatever. The insulation packages slide into it. It’s almost designed as a slot; you put it right in the side. You take the hose up to your attic and it’s remote-controlled, so you can turn the machine on and off and control the flow.
And then, this type of insulation gets into the nooks and crannies, it expands nicely and it’s low dust. So it’s a very easy way to do your own blown-in insulation and get a really good, contiguous, solid application of insulation in that attic.
LESLIE: And a targeted application, as well.
TOM: Yeah. And you could do a whole house in about 4 hours.
DOUG: OK. Great. Well, I appreciate the advice. I’d like to maybe get a big vacuum cleaner to get the old up.
TOM: Yeah. The new insulation will go in in 4 hours. Getting the old stuff out, though, that’s going to be a day. Good luck with that project.
DOUG: Alright. Thank you for your help.
LESLIE: Natasha in Missouri is on the line with a molding question.
What can we do for you today?
NATASHA: Our house is about 11 years old and the interior walls – the sheetrock or the drywall – is finished with a nice, round, bullnose corner. So it doesn’t come to a right angle, so to speak. And just through wear and tear with kids and dogs, we have found several dents appearing. And I’m wondering if you have ideas on how we might repair that or if we are going to have to just replace that whole corner edging. Any thoughts?
TOM: Yeah. Is this like the metal rounded corner?
NATASHA: I think it’s metal. I tap on it and it sounds plasticky but it might be metal, which would explain the dents.
TOM: Why not just plaster over those?
NATASHA: I thought about that. Some of them are just little dimples but I don’t know if I can successfully fill and sand and patch. But that’s one thought we’ve had.
TOM: Yeah. You could skim-coat it. And the other thing that you could do, if it’s a crisp dent, is you can use auto-body filler. We use that on metal doors, like metal doors that have dents in it and that sort of thing. It’s just a little harder to sand. But if it’s just the outside corner on drywall, you could use spackle for that. Build it up and then sand it. It sands really easily. You’re just going to have to prime it and repaint it.
TOM: Shouldn’t be a big deal.
NATASHA: Great. Well, that’s exciting. Some other advice I’d had was to replace the whole corner, so I love your suggestion much, much more.
TOM: Well, you can always do that but why don’t we try the easy stuff first?
NATASHA: Maybe in the bedrooms where it’s not so obvious. We’ll try that first, so …
TOM: Then you can practice and you’ll get good at it.
NATASHA: That’s right. Hey, thanks so much. I really appreciate your help.
LESLIE: Hey, guys. Are you working on some projects and maybe you’re thinking, “I wish I had some more tools”? Well, guess what? You could win a whole workshop full of tools to take on your fall fix-up projects and more. You can enter The Money Pit’s Fantastic Fall Fix-Up Sweepstakes presented by Arrow.
TOM: That’s right. One grand-prize winner is going to receive 750 bucks worth of Arrow tools, including the TacMate Heavy Duty Staplegun, which is super durable and really easy to use, and the 5-in-1 Manual Staple Gun, which drives 5 different types of fasteners, allowing one tool to be used for lots of different projects.
LESLIE: Yeah. There’s also going to be five runner-up winners who will receive the Arrow Holiday Light Helper Prize Pack worth $100. And that includes the Arrow T25X WireMate Staple Gun and the Arrow T59 Wiring Tacker. Plus, all of the winners are going to get plenty of staples and glue sticks to get all of those fall projects started and finished.
TOM: You want to win it? You’ve got to be in it. So you can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. That’s MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes, where you can also earn bonus entries for additional chances to win. That’s MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: Hey, guys. Here’s a question that you should be thinking about: what home improvement project gives you the very best return on your investment? Is it a new kitchen, maybe a new bath or a new deck?
Well, the answer is none of those deliver the best ROI. That honor goes to replacing your garage door. Well, according to the latest Cost Versus Value Report from Remodeling Magazine, installing a new garage door delivers 93.8 percent of the cost, which is the highest return on your investment of any home project. That’s huge. But think about it: how much of your home’s front is the garage door? So you’ve got to choose that door carefully. And here’s a few things that you should know.
TOM: Now, first, let’s talk about the appearance and the operation. The door has to do really two things: it’s got to look good and it’s got to work right. And by right, I also mean safely, especially because so many of us use our garage door more than any other entry to our homes, including that front door.
Now, another thing to consider is the type of opener. There are really three: belt drive, chain drive and screw drive. Now, the chain drives, these are really the most powerful. They’re useful for very heavy doors. The screw drives are good for one-piece doors that tilt open. And then there’s the belt drive. Now, the belt drive is definitely the quietest and the most expensive type of garage-door opener but it works really, really well, nicely and smoothly. And that’s the model you really ought to be going for.
LESLIE: Alright. So now, that’s the mechanics of it. But now let’s talk about the door. There are so many different materials that these garage doors are made out of. I mean lots of options. It can be steel, wood, even aluminum. Now, steel and aluminum, they’re probably the most popular because they’re the most budget-friendly.
Wood doors have a distinctive look that, truly, other materials just can’t mimic and they do stand up best to basketballs. Don’t ask me how I know but the kids definitely like to hurl things against the garage. And those definitely don’t ding or dent in the way a steel or aluminum one might. But once you get into an exotic wood, because maybe you like the look of that grain, those can be pretty expensive. So you’ve got to kind of weigh the costs here. How much do you want it to look like something and how much money are you willing to spend?
Now, if you work in your garage, you might want to consider a garage door with some sections of windows to just help let in some natural daylight. Style of that garage door is super important. You’ve got to think about what does your house look like. Do you have a Colonial home, Craftsman, Tudor? You want that door to compliment the façade and not stand out in a bad way. So there’s definitely a design of a garage door that will work with the style of your house. You might just have to research it a little bit.
TOM: Now, last but not least, let’s talk about safety. Garage-door openers have come a long way over the years but it’s still important that they be checked regularly for safe operation. Now, your door should include modern safety features, like the ability to automatically reverse if something gets in its way, like a person or a car or a bike. And some doors also have a pinch-free design to protect your fingers. And for safety and convenience, there are even garage-door openers you could operate from an app on your smartphone, which is super helpful because it will alert you if the door gets left open.
Bottom line, if you’ve been thinking that the kitchen reno, the bath reno, a new deck were all the top projects to add value to your house, it turns out it is just the garage-door opener. Which is great news because that costs a lot less to do than those other projects.
LESLIE: You know, Tom …
LESLIE: I love that people always think of us as the radio couple, like we’re married or something. So, I’m going to look at my role here on The Money Pit as creating the National Honey-Do List.
LESLIE: I’m really, really good at helping everybody, all of you guys come up with more projects for your to-do lists. I’m going to start just giving you a ton of projects. Fix this, fix that, repair that, maintain this. But I do it in the most loving and supportive way possible.
TOM: I accept, on behalf of all men listening.
LESLIE: OK, good.
TOM: We will do our best to take care of our homes because – I don’t want be, you know – go all guy on you but we’re kind of responsible for the cave in many ways.
LESLIE: That is true. You’ve got to be responsible for the cave. I will help be responsible with the adding the projects to your list.
TOM: There you go.
LESLIE: So, guys and ladies, whoever’s listening out there, if you are stuck with some projects or maybe you need some help deciphering ones you’re already working on or you need an idea for your next one, check out The Money Pit Podcast. You’re going to get it Mondays and Thursdays, brand-new episodes twice a week. Give you lots of ideas to tackle the projects you’re already working on and help you figure out some new ones for your next honey-do list. So, stick around. We’ve got lots more projects coming up.
TOM: Well, carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that results from the combustion of fuel, natural gas, oil, kerosene. And it can make you really sick or it can cause death. And in the many years I spent inspecting homes before getting out of the crawlspace and into the radio studio, I found carbon-monoxide leaks with surprising frequency.
LESLIE: Yeah. And that’s why you absolutely must have your heating system tuned up every single year.
Now, Tom, we always say that but what exactly do you think a tech should be looking for that could lead to a toxic situation?
TOM: Well, first, good combustion. When you have a gas flame, you want to see a blue flame. You don’t want to see a blue-orange-y flame because that means that the gas is not fully combusting. And that also goes for smelling a sweet kind of an acrid odor. Because those things mean that you don’t have enough combustion. And when you don’t have enough combustion, you’re getting a higher concentration of carbon monoxide in the exhaust gas.
You also need to make sure that your heat exchanger is in good shape. Now, the heat exchanger’s an interesting part of the furnace. It really keeps the combustion gas and the house air separate. It’s sort of like a – think of a radiator, right? You can imagine a radiator where water circulates inside it and then the warm air blows over the outside? It’s like that except what’s circulating inside is combustion gas on the way to the chimney.
Now, if it turns out that heat exchanger has cracks – which is how they sort of basically wear out – then you could have a mixture of the two. When I was inspecting, I would find situations where I would inspect the heat exchanger, I’d find a big crack. And literally, before I was done with the inspection, they would’ve been tearing that furnace out and putting a new one in. So sometimes these things happen. You don’t know what’s going on until somebody looks at them, which is reason that you need to have it inspected on a regular basis. But that kind of thing happens.
Also, if you have a block in the vent, that can happen, too. I also remember a time where I was on a roof looking down a chimney. And I saw a nest from some animal – I wasn’t even sure what it was. But it turned out that the combustion gases were not venting properly. And the woman that lived there was pregnant and she was not feeling well and thought it was sickness related to pregnancy. But it turned out she had sort of a low-level carbon-monoxide poisoning going on. And she was able to get that fixed and get healthy right away.
So, you never know. There’s a lot of ways it can happen.
LESLIE: Yeah. And we should probably talk about some other forms or sources of carbon monoxide that can be hazardous, that maybe you don’t always think to be so dangerous. But your common sense here, guys. So, don’t run a car in an open garage or use a barbeque in a garage or run a generator or a lawn mower. Anything that can produce those gases in a garage, even if that door is open, it’s technically still an enclosed space. And those fumes can build up and really cause a lot of illnesses and poisoning there, as well.
TOM: People don’t understand this but they rise up, they get into the house just as badly as if the door was closed. So you can’t do that. And even if everything’s operating properly, it’s always a good idea to have carbon-monoxide detectors. In fact, they’re not just a good idea, they’re mandatory in many jurisdictions. You want one on every floor and definitely want to make sure you’re covering the outside of every bedroom. Because that’s when most poisonings happen: when people are sleeping.
So, if you have those detectors and if you don’t do dumb things when you’re running those generators and stuff like that, you can definitely stay safe.
LESLIE: Adam in Rhode Island is on the line with a leaky skylight.
What’s going on?
ADAM: I have a bay window in my bedroom and it’s below a skylight. And for a while, it started to create those brown stains on my ceiling. But for the most part, the biggest problem was there was a leak in the bay window. So, my father and I went up there. We put a new flashing kit on the skylight and it seemed to help the problem but it did not eliminate the problem.
And I had a contractor friend over who took a look at it, as well, and he noticed that if you go out on the outside, the bay window abuts the gutter where the gutter attaches to the roof above it. And it’s his opinion that there should be, perhaps, some 6- to 8-inch gap there between where the gutter meets the house and where the bay window starts. So it’s his opinion that the bay window might have been improperly installed.
TOM: So, it sounds like the bay window is up too high? Is that what you’re saying? So it basically goes right up under the gutter?
ADAM: Right. It certainly – there’s certainly no separation between the soffit but there’s also no separation from where the gutter meets the house, either.
TOM: Alright. And does the bay window have its own roof on it? Or is the roof sort of built into the soffit structure?
ADAM: No. It’s under the overhang.
TOM: Oh, it is under the overhang. OK. Mm-hmm. Is it possible that the gutter is overfilling and perhaps the water is backing up through the gutter, getting into the soffit and running into the bay?
ADAM: I thought that at one point. And I have gone up and checked and the gutters are clean.
TOM: OK. And where this is on the roof, is there sort of a long stretch of roof that goes down before this – before it hits the skylight?
ADAM: Yeah. I guess so. Maybe 10 or 15 feet.
TOM: So, I’m going to give a trick of the trade and this might solve it. You might be getting so much water against that skylight that it’s just sort of forcing its way in. One thing you might want to do is to try to put a diverter on the roof, right above the skylight. And this – see if this works. It’s really easy to do and so there’s kind of no reason not to try it.
But you make a – you take a piece of aluminum in the shape of an L and you basically attach it to the roof. And you essentially want to intercept that flow of water down the roof and have it run around the skylight and around the bay window. So you’re slowing the volume of water that’s coming down that roof, running full steam towards that skylight and that bay-window area and running it around that space. And all you’ve got to do is tack that onto the roofing shingles, put some silicone caulk to help seal the edge and see what happens.
ADAM: So you caulk the edge of the L with silicone. And how do you affix the aluminum to the roof?
TOM: Yeah, you could simply nail through the shingle and with a roofing nail.
TOM: Because you’re – well, the caulk will help seal it. And basically, you’re capturing that water as it’s running down the roof. And it’s sort of running right around that skylight/bay-window roof combination and then off to the gutter.
ADAM: Alright. Sounds good. I’m willing to try it.
TOM: Good luck, Adam. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jacqueline wrote in. She’s worried about her creaking wood floor. Now, Jacqueline says, “I had the crawlspace of my home sealed and a dehumidifier installed.”
LESLIE: “Now, a few months later, the floors are creaking when we walk on it. What can we do?”
TOM: Well, I think that’s a good problem to have. Because that means that you’ve done a really good job of drying out that crawlspace. And in doing so, you should know that your insulation is now going to work a lot better. Because when it’s damp, it doesn’t work, so your heating bills will go down.
In terms of the creaking, that is simply boards that are loose boards that are moving. And so what you want to do is identify where these are. Now, I don’t know if you have hardwood or they’re creaking under carpet. But I’ll just give you a couple of examples.
If you’ve got a squeaking, creaking floor and it’s under a carpet, you want to find in that carpet where the floor joists are running underneath. They’re going to be running perpendicular, usually to the front and rear walls of the house.
And right where those floor joists are, what I want you to do is to drive a nail – preferably a galvanized finish nail because it’s got a little texture to it and tends to work better. You can go ahead and drive it right through the carpet. Yes, I’m giving you permission to nail through your carpet. When it gets flat with that floor, you’ll see the carpet will look like it has a dimple. All you’ve got to do is grab the nap of the carpet and pull it up and it will disappear. And if you do that in a couple of places, you will secure the floor sheathing to the floor joists and that will address that movement.
Now, if it’s hardwood, you can also use either finish nails or trim screws. But you have to predrill it first with a hole that is slightly smaller than what you’re trying to drive in. But again, find those loose places and tack it down.
We’ve got step-by-step tips on how to do all this, on MoneyPit.com. Just search “squeaky floor.”
LESLIE: Alright. Hope that helps you out there, Jacqueline.
Now we’ve got Natalie from Minnesota who says, “I have a fairly new wood-burning stove in my living room.” She says it was installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. “The problem is it works so well that the drywall behind the stove gets pretty hot to the touch. Does ½-inch drywall have a flashpoint?”
Now, should you be using regular drywall behind a stove like that?
TOM: It depends on the distance. Now, generally, if you have no fire shield, you have to have that stove 3 feet at least from that drywall. And if she’s not done that, that’s a big problem. Now, if she moved it closer to the drywall than that, she has to have a heat shield and …
LESLIE: Is that just like a piece of metal or something or a specific material?
TOM: It’s a piece of metal but it sticks out away from the wall and allows air to circulate behind it. So it creates kind of like a convective loop that sort of cools that space. And if you have that, you can move it closer.
But I would say, at this point, what you should do is you need to go back to your installer and you need to make sure that that stove was installed in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association Guidelines. Because yes, drywall does have a flashpoint, as does everything else in your house. And if it’s that hot, then it’s – I suspect something may not be done correctly. So you need to dig into this further because it could be really unsafe.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you out, Natalie, because that is scary. So go ahead and revisit the installation guidelines, make sure it’s all done correctly and safely and then you can actually just enjoy it with peace of mind.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. And it is a beautiful fall day where we are. I hope it is where you are, as well. We love fall because it’s a great time of year to do projects both inside and outside your house. So wherever you are and whatever you’re working on, you can count on us to help you solve those DIY dilemmas, help you get started on the right foot and get those projects done once, done right so you can get back to enjoying that beautiful fall foliage.
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 2022 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.)