- Home Additions: If you need a bigger home for your growing family, a home addition may be your best option. Here’s how to plan a home expansion.
- Standby Generators: Losing power is a common headache after seasonal storms, but a reliable standby generator will keep the lights on and ensure your HVAC and appliances are up and running. We’ve got recommendations.
- Preventing Mold: This common household item is one of the biggest causes of mold. Find out what it is and how to keep mold at bay.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Water Heater: What’s that leak under the hot water heater in Michael’s garage? It’s probably just the pressure relief valve, but it may still be time to replace the old water heater.
- Termite Trouble: Heather’s about to buy a home, but a termite tunnel was found in the garage. We’ve got advice about termite inspection and who should pay for any termite damage and treatment.
- Indoor/Outdoor Carpet: Does indoor/outdoor carpeting in a screened-in porch require an underlayer to prevent moisture? Tom has a unique suggestion on a product that Kendall could use.
- Deck Stain: Phyllis asks if she really needs to wait six months before staining the deck she just replaced. Find out why treated lumber needs some time before stain is applied.
- Lightbulbs: Fluorescent vs. LED and watts vs. lumens: Stuart wants to know the pros, cons, and differences when choosing among different types of lightbulbs.
- Cooling the Attic: When Mary replaces her old shingles with an architectural roof, should she remove the attic fan? Tom recommends cooling the attic with a ridge vent instead.
- Sliding Patio Doors: Hardened grit in the sliding door is making it difficult for Tracy to open and close. We’ve got tips on the best ways to clean out the gunk and keep things moving smoothly.
- Houseflies: There’s more than just air coming from the ducts in Nels’ house; the furnace is blowing out flies, too. He needs to find and eliminate the nest.
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: And we are here to help you take on the projects you want to get done around your house, your home, your condo, your yurt. Whatever you consider home, we would love to help you make it the home that you want it to be.
This is Episode 2235. You can follow along with The Money Pit podcast when you go to MoneyPit.com/Podcast. But as you look around the space you call home, if there’s a project that you need some help on right now, well, we would love to pitch in. If it’s a decorating dilemma, if it’s a repair, if it’s a project you want to plan for the future – all these great questions to reach out to us for at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, if your home is getting tight for your growing family, expanding your home with a beautiful, new addition could be a great move. We’re going to have tips on how to plan that project to make sure the new space serves you for many years to come, just ahead.
LESLIE: And power failures have become increasingly more common. Whether it’s a summer thunderstorm or a winter ice storm, you just can’t rely on your electric utilities to keep that electricity flowing 24/7. And you know what? Standby generators really do offer the best backup solution. So we’re going to review the latest technology and share our experiences with these handy powerhouses, just ahead.
TOM: And also ahead, mold remains a very serious problem across most of the country. We’re going to share the one common storage product – we guarantee you have this in your house – and it turns out it is a leading contributor to mold problems.
LESLIE: Plus, do you have any big projects to take on this coming Labor Day weekend? Well, we’ve got a big giveaway that can help you. We have a Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer up for grabs and we are ready to send it out to one lucky listener.
TOM: It’s worth 379 bucks. Available exclusively at Lowe’s. But we’ve got one to give away to one lucky listener drawn at random. If you’d like to be in that drawing, you’ve got to reach out with your home improvement or décor question.
Couple of ways to do that. You can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
So let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Michael in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MICHAEL: We have a hot-water heater in our garage, on an elevated plateau. And we noticed the other day, there was a slight leak underneath it but it looked like it might have been coming from a PVC-type tube coming from the top of our water heater. And it’s the length of the water heater. It’s a tube. And we’ve never seen water under that area before and we now notice some of that. So I wasn’t sure why – if it was a sweating situation or what – some type of relief valve, maybe, or something like that. But I’m not sure why water would have been there.
TOM: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a temperature-and-pressure relief valve. It’s mounted on the side of the water heater. It’s designed to open up if the water heater develops too much pressure, as a safety mechanism.
However, they frequently wear and leak. So, I’m going to tell you what you can try to do but I’m also going to warn you. There’s a lever on the side of that and sometimes you get a little bit of a debris that’s stuck inside that temperature-and-pressure valve. When you pull the lever, it’ll shoot some water out that tube. You want to make sure you have a bucket under it. Just two or three times; it’ll kind of blast some hot water out of there.
However, the warning is that sometimes, once you do that, the valve never sits back properly and it ends up leaking worse. So it’s possible you could make it worse by doing this but that’s worth trying. If you just want to leave a bucket under it and monitor it for a little while – how old is this water heater?
MICHAEL: About 1990, 1998.
TOM: Oh. Oh, well, you know what? You’re due for a new one. So, 1998 – I wouldn’t wait too much longer before I replace that because let’s face it, it’s about, what, 15 years old now? And so, a water heater that gets past 10 is well on its way to needing – to the end of its useful life. So, I would – you could monitor it, stick a bucket under there, keep an eye on it. But I think it’s about time to think about replacing.
It’s not an emergency replacement, so you’ve got some time to shop around. One of the problems with water heaters is once they do leak, they usually have to be done immediately and people get taken advantage of because they need it today. But you’re not in that situation, Michael, so you could take some time and shop around and find the one – the contractor – that you want. But a 15-year-old water heater, you might want to think about replacing it.
MICHAEL: Alright, sir. I appreciate that very much.
LESLIE: Heather in Rhode Island is dealing with a termite situation.
Tell us what’s going on.
HEATHER: My fiancé and I – just over in the process of hopefully purchasing a home.
HEATHER: Thank you so much. We’re very excited. But we had our inspection on Friday, which was a bit of a roller coaster.
TOM: OK. Alright.
HEATHER: It actually – it wasn’t bad. There were just some very minor things. But right as the inspector was about to leave – she’s walking out the garage – and he sees on the wall, just about a foot up, a termite tunnel.
HEATHER: And so, we – you know, when we talk about this with different people, some people are saying, “Oh, that’s no big deal.” Others are saying, “Oh, man, you’ve got to have that looked into.” So we’re actually – our realtor – we were waiting for some other tests to come back: the radon and all that. So he’s going to now get in touch with our – with the buyer’s realtor to talk a little bit about the termite situation. But we just don’t know if we should be really concerned about it or how much we should push back on the homeowner.
TOM: OK. So I can help you with that. I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector doing that exact job and have surprised many a couple, like yourself, over the years with things that we’ve found. I actually found termites or evidence of termites in about one out of three homes that I inspected, because it was very common where I lived and where I worked.
Now, let me ask you about this house. Is it a house on a basement or a crawlspace or is it a slab?
HEATHER: There’s a basement.
TOM: OK. And is the basement finished? Is the ceiling finished? Can you see all of the floor joists?
HEATHER: No, it’s not finished.
TOM: Not finished. OK, good. Well, look, you need to have a very thorough termite inspection – a wood-destroying insect inspection – done, first off, where an inspector is going to examine the floor framing where it is along the outside wall. Usually, they’ll tap it with a probe or a long, heavy screwdriver to see if any damage has gotten into the wood. It’s good that the basement is open and exposed like that, because termites live in the soil and they come to the wood to feed. Then they go back to the soil, basically, for moisture. So, by checking that wood, that’s the most common place.
Coming up in the garage, it’s not unusual either. And it sounds like they come up along the outside of that foundation – of the interior foundation wall. That’s fine. But you also need to sort of be aware that it could go into the wall if it’s behind drywall.
Is the garage finished on that side or can you see right up into the framing?
HEATHER: Yep, it’s finished.
TOM: OK. So then they’re – that gets a little trickier to find. But a good inspector knows what to look for. One little trick of the trade, by the way, is if you take a high-powered flashlight and you lay it flat on the wall, you will see every little defect in the drywall surface itself. And if there’s termite tunnels in there, you can almost see the tunnels because they’ll be laying right below the paint. The termites are very tricky. If you think about drywall, it’s plaster, then paper, then paint. Well, they’ll leave the plaster, leave the paint but eat the paper. So, you can – I kind of see it that way.
But once you have a thorough inspection done and you have a better idea of whether or not you have damage – the fact that you have termites means nothing. Anybody could have termites – and I’ll tell you how to treat them in a second – but you really want to know if you have termite damage.
And by the way, it’s traditional for the seller to pay for termite treatment and termite-damage repair. Because mortgage companies will generally not loan on a home that doesn’t have a clear termite certification. So, I think this falls all on the seller’s lap but you need to be sure that a very thorough inspection was done.
Now, in terms of the treatment, that’s changed a lot, too, over the last couple of decades. Now, the treatment options that they use are treatments that are undetectable termiticides. So they’re chemicals that are applied – insecticides that are applied – to the soil and they’re put below the slab in the garage. And they’re put in the walls of the house. And as the termites pass through these cavities, that insecticide gets on them and they take it back to their nest. And then it kind of wipes out the entire nest. It’s kind of like germ warfare for termites. It’s really effective.
The brand that I would recommend is called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r. It’s made by BASF. And it’s a fantastic product. And if you have it done professionally, I think it can be installed safely and give you years of protection against further termite infestations.
HEATHER: Awesome. That’s great news. I’m glad to – thanks for sharing that usually that’s on the seller to hopefully pay.
TOM: Yep. Absolutely.
HEATHER: That was part of our concern.
TOM: Yep. Good. Alright. Well, good luck with that and congratulations again. When are you guys getting married?
HEATHER: Thanks so much. Next May.
TOM: Good luck and call us back when it’s time to build a nursery.
HEATHER: Will do. Thanks a lot.
TOM: Alright. Bye-bye.
Well, if you’ve got a big project to take on over the upcoming Labor Day weekend, we’ve got a big giveaway that can help. Because we’ve got the Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer to give away to one lucky listener.
And if you’ve done a big paint project, you have not lived until you have used one of these paint sprayers, because it makes it so much easier. It uses less paint, it creates 55-percent less overspray than regular airless sprayers. It goes on about three times faster than a roller. And you can get these big projects done yourself rather than hire a pro. So, fence, shed, porch, deck, you know, anything like that. It’s a whole lot easier when you use one of these terrific high-efficiency airless paint sprayers.
So we’re going to give one away today on The Money Pit. It’s worth 375 bucks, the Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer. If you’d like to win it, you’ve got to reach out to us with your questions to qualify at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post them at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. You’ve got home improvement questions but you don’t know where to turn for answers? Well, turn to us. We can help you save money, save time and avoid home improvement hassles that can slow you down on the road to your dream house.
Kendall in Arkansas is on the line with a question about carpeting.
What can we do for you today?
KENDALL: Taking a porch and screening it in. And I’ve got 2x6s laid down as a floor over about a 3-foot-high crawlspace under my house.
KENDALL: And I’m going to put indoor/outdoor carpet down. And I just want – maybe concerned whether or not I need to put something underneath that, some sort of underlayment for maybe moisture barrier or even critter barrier.
TOM: So what are you constructing this floor of?
KENDALL: It’s a porch. It’s a covered area of my deck.
TOM: Oh, it’s a covered porch. OK. Yeah.
KENDALL: It’s a covered deck and I’m just taking in the covered area and making it a screened porch.
TOM: I see. OK.
KENDALL: But I don’t want water intrusion, nor do I want to lay down carpet that’s going to end up becoming moldy or something underneath it.
TOM: Yeah. Indoor/outdoor carpeting does tend to hold a lot of water and moisture and dampness against the wood. It certainly can contribute towards decay.
Is this porch going to be fully covered?
KENDALL: Yes. It is completely covered. In fact, I’m going to – I’ve set in Plexiglas on the bottom 3-feet of the height of walls for the sake of any potential rain to come in through the sides. I think I’m OK there. My concern, I guess, is just if it’s going to develop a condensation issue or something beneath the carpet that I’m putting down.
TOM: Look, it’s always possible. I’ll give you one suggestion that is a little unorthodox but I think it would work. As long as you cover – you’re covering this with the indoor/outdoor carpet, why not lay down ice-and-water shield across the porch floor? It’s usually used on a roof and it provides complete moisture barrier between – right underneath the roofing shingles. But if you put that down and then covered it with the carpet, that would give you an additional protection for the structure. And you could always scrape it back up if you had to.
KENDALL: Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, adding on a kitchen, a bathroom, a family room, a bedroom or a study, it can really be a great way to stay in your home and neighborhood for a lot less time, expense and hassle of selling your home and then buying a bigger one. But it’s a project that needs careful planning to make sure it goes smoothly. We’ve got tips on how to plan a beautiful, new addition that will serve your family for years to come.
TOM: So, to get started, there are really three things you need to consider. First, dig out your home’s survey and review your property lines. Now, the distance between your home and the property line will likely be restricted by local zoning laws. So you need to understand how close to the line your new addition can be and that’s going to tell you how much space that you have to really work with.
LESLIE: Now, next, planning makes perfect. You want to bring on a design pro to help make sure the new addition complements your existing home. A good architect or a design-build pro can help with that. Don’t just think about how you’re going to live in your addition; you want to also consider how it architecturally affects the look of your home from the outside and then your home’s value. Plus, it’s a lot less expensive to move walls around on paper than it is once you kind of start the project.
TOM: Now, once that design is set, your pro will be able to create a detailed set of drawings that lists every element of the project. We’re talking about everything from precise measurements to a list of materials and products that are going to go into the home. And these are really key because with a set of very carefully developed plans in your hand, you will then be able to seek bids from qualified builders for the project and know that every pro is bidding apples to apples.
Too many times, folks just take bids from builders and they’re all over the map. Some are using one type of lumber, some are using another; one type of roof, another; one type of faucet, one type of fixture or a different type of cabinet. There’s no way for you to compare it.
So you do the shopping first, you work with a design pro, spec it out. Then you can truly compare and contrast. And in the end, you’ll have a home that you’re really proud of and one that will work well for you for all the years that you plan to live there.
LESLIE: Phyllis in New York is working on a deck project.
How can we help?
PHYLLIS: Well, I was wondering how long I had to wait. But the deck was replaced. Was treated lumber. And I was told that I had to wait 6 months before it’s going to be stained. Is that true?
TOM: It’s not a bad idea, because the wood is so damp and so wet that if you stain it now, you don’t get as much absorption. So I think you could wait 6 months to a year before you stain it the first time. And when you do that, you want to make sure you use a primer first and then a topcoat over that. And that will give you maximum adhesion and a good, long-lasting deck finish.
PHYLLIS: OK. Alright. Very good. Thanks for the information. It’s a very informative program that you have.
TOM: Well, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
LESLIE: Stuart in Louisiana is on the line and has a question about light bulbs.
What can we do for you?
STUART: I was curious about choosing the correct kind of light bulb – fluorescent versus LED – and what wattage if I – whichever one I choose.
TOM: So, compact-fluorescent technology is pretty much fading now – pardon the pun – and I think what you really want to look at is some of the many choices in LEDs. In terms of wattage, it’s not really measured in wattage anymore; it’s measured in lumens. But generally speaking, if you do see a wattage indicator on the bulb, it’s going to be about 25 percent of what you’re used to getting in terms of light output.
So, for example, a bulb that would deliver the equivalent of around 100 watts of light, that you might be used to in an incandescent bulb, is only going to use about 25 watts or less of electricity, only because it’s that much more efficient. A lot of folks don’t recognize that wattage is a measure of power; it’s not a measure of light. Light’s measured by lumens. But we’re just so accustomed, over the years, to choosing the wattage when it comes to bulb and understanding how much light that delivers.
But if you’re trying to figure out about what the conversion rate is, it’s about 25 percent. It uses about 25 percent of the power to deliver the same light that you would’ve gotten out of, say, the 100-watt incandescent bulb in my example. Does that make sense?
STUART: It does indeed. So what lumen range would I be basically looking for if I wanted to have the same amount of wattage – I’m sorry – same amount of light as a 100-watt light bulb?
TOM: Good question. A 100-watt incandescent bulb is going to deliver about 1,600 lumens. So, not that easy to do the math. It’s not really convenient. But that’s what it is. A 100-watt bulb delivers about 1,600 lumens; 75-watt bulb would deliver around, say, 1,000 to 1,100 lumens. So that’s the range that you’re looking for.
STUART: Fantastic. Thank you very much for your assistance.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. We’re heading out to Delaware where Mary has got a question about a roof.
What’s going on at your money pit?
MARY: I have a two-story house with three-tab shingles that are 25 years old. And I’m about to replace them with architectural. I have an attic fan currently. It’s about 30 years old and I don’t really have to keep that. But my question is regarding a replacement attic fan versus the ridge vent.
TOM: So, we would definitely recommend a ridge vent over a replacement attic fan, for a lot of reasons.
Here’s why. In the summer, many times folks will install attic fans to try to cool their attic thinking that it will lower their cooling cost. But what generally happens is when an attic fan kicks on, it will depressurize your attic. And then it needs to replace that negative pressure. So what will happen is it will reach down into your house and actually pull some of that air-conditioned air up into the attic.
Now, how that happens is interesting. It’ll pull it out from gaps around, say, where your attic door is or it’ll pull it through the walls, through gaps around plumbing pipes or electrical wires or outlets that go through. There’s usually some sort of thermal connection between the inside and the outside. And by using an attic fan, you’re going to potentially drive the cooling costs up, not down.
A better option is a ridge vent – a continuous ridge vent – that goes down the peak of the entire roof. And that will exhaust attic air. But the ridge vent should always be matched with soffit vents at the overhang of the roof so that the air will enter down low in the roof, roll up underneath the roof sheathing and then exit at the ridge. And that sort of convective loop will do a much better job of keeping your attic cool than an attic fan. It will not – and it will not drive up your cooling costs.
MARY: And you’d close off the current attic fan?
TOM: That’s right. I would actually – if you were going to be replacing your roof, I would simply take that whole fan out, tap off the wires and disconnect it. You don’t need it.
MARY: OK. The other question is I also have a whole-house fan, which I rarely use. Can you still use a whole-house fan with the ridge vent?
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Now, let’s talk about the difference between a whole-house fan and an attic fan. An attic fan is just that: it draws air out of the attic. A whole-house fan is mounted, generally, on the ceiling of the upper floor of the house. And it’s going to draw air from your house itself, push it up into the attic where it will be exhausted.
Now, the key with a whole-house fan is you have to have enough exhaust ventilation up in the attic. If you end up having a continuous ridge vent and continuous soffit vents, I think you probably will have plenty of exhaust ventilation up there in the attic.
I would suggest, if you don’t have it already, to put that whole-house fan on a timer. Because it’s really effective, especially at night, when you can set it for an hour or so when you’re going to sleep, to kind of keep that air moving through the house. And then it’ll just go off by the time you fall asleep and the air gets cooler.
MARY: Vents in the eaves in the house, which were built in the house, are they closed off when you get the ridge vent?
TOM: Generally, yes. Those small vents that are on the ends of the gable walls, you do want to close those off and make sure you have continuous soffit and ridge vents. Because you’ll get some turbulence between the ridge vent and that end gable vent that can impact the flow of the air.
MARY: Alright. I hope we – that’s what I need and I’m about to call a contractor tomorrow.
TOM: Alright. And now you know what to get done. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, guys, power failures have become increasingly more common. Think about it. Whether it’s a summer thunderstorm or winter ice, you just can’t rely on the electric utility to keep that electricity flowing 24/7. And that’s why Leslie and I have both invested in Kohler standby generators. This way, we protect our homes year-round.
Now, I think we’ve had our units now, Leslie – it’s almost 10 years. And there is nothing better than knowing your house is powered, even when the rest of the street is dark. Right?
LESLIE: It’s pretty nice. It also feels a little selfish when everybody else is sitting in the dark and it’s hot and I feel nice and cool in my house. I’m always like, “Kids, don’t turn on every light. I don’t want anybody to be upset.”
TOM: Well, you know, we have the open-door policy when that happens – I mean the open refrigerator door. We’ve got neighbors bringing me their milk and their ice cream. Everything else is going to go bad.
LESLIE: Us, too. And the elderly neighbors can come chill out.
TOM: Yep. Exactly.
LESLIE: They never say yes, but I’m always like, “Come on, you’re welcome to hang out here.”
We kind of splurged. I went with a 20kW standby generator. And something that large is really capable of providing whole-home power to the average house. And it really does have some great features. First of all, I don’t trust myself with anything that I have to turn on or that’s gas-powered or something dangerous like that.
LESLIE: What I love about the 20kW Kohler is that it’s completely automatic. It’s a standby generator, it uses an automatic transfer switch. It’s going to turn on automatically when utility power is out. In less than 10 seconds, your home is up and running like nothing ever happened. It’s really amazing.
TOM: And it’s incredibly reliable, too. Kohler generator engines are built and they’re tested to withstand extreme loads for years to come.
And it’s interesting. Hospitals, airports, even the National Weather Service – the people that tell you about hurricanes – trust Kohler generators for their own backup-power needs. And I can tell you, there’s even been a time or two – as you will well remember, my friend – when our Kohler generators actually saved this show. We were experiencing blackouts, literally, while we were on the air. But we continued on the air because of the Kohler generator.
LESLIE: It’s great because they also feature an exclusive, unique, PowerBoost Technology. And you’re only going to find that on Kohler generators. And this helps to make sure that when your generator comes on, it can handle all of those large starting loads, like if your air conditioner was on, for example. And it can do that, start up that A/C, without dropping the power to the other appliances that are also on that generator.
Now, if you’d like to learn more or get a free quote, you can reach out to your local authorized Kohler dealer. They’re located all across the country. Just go to PoweredByKohler.com. And that’s PoweredByKohler – K-o-h-l-e-r – .com.
TOM: And check this out. Because right now through September 15th, you can receive a free, comprehensive 7-year extended warranty. Now, that’s worth almost 700 bucks, so it’s smart to hop on this with a purchase of a 10- to 20-watt Kohler generator when you go to PoweredByKohler.com. PoweredByK-o-h-l-e-r.com.
So, do what we do and invest in a Kohler generator. You will never be without a reliable source of power again.
LESLIE: What are you guys working on? You’ve got a big project that you want to take on over the upcoming Labor Day weekend? Well, we have a big giveaway that can help. We’ve got up for grabs the Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer.
Now, with Wagner’s Control Pro 170, you – the homeowner – can act like a super pro contractor/painter out there. Because the results you will get are just flawless. It really is a fantastic paint sprayer that will give you the results that a pro can get. It’s got up to 55-percent less overspray than a traditional airless sprayer and it goes on 3 times faster than a roller. Really easy to use, really easy to clean. It’s never been easier to paint like a pro.
Check it out. It’s available both in-store and online at Lowe’s Home Improvement.
TOM: That Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us now with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tracy in Hawaii who needs some help with a sliding-door situation.
What’s going on?
TRACY: The slider door has got – it’s got grit in it. And I had sprayed it with something. It was on sale. I don’t remember because I got rid of it. But it’s like real – it hardened, whatever it was. And it’s very hard to – I want to know if I can find something to loosen it. And then what should I use on it that won’t harden when I spray it, to make it easy?
TOM: Well, first of all, what I would do is I would get a really stiff brush and I would try to – I would brush those tracks to try to loosen up all of that gunk that’s there and then get a vacuum to kind of suck it out of there so that you can kind of get the loose dirt out and the junk out of there. And then what I would spray it with is white lithium grease. It comes in a can, just like WD-40 but it’s not; it’s a little thicker and it stays around longer.
And another thing that you could think about doing is if you can take the door out of the tracks, it makes the whole thing easier. But it’s a bit of a tricky job because – depends on how your door is built. But generally, you can lift it right out of the track. It’ll make the whole thing easier to handle.
TRACY: OK. That sounds wonderful.
TOM: Well, if you’ve got a basement or an attic that’s moisture-prone, you are no doubt familiar with the battle of mold. But did you know that there is one common culprit that you probably have in your home right now that could definitely be a big mold contributor?
LESLIE: Yep. I’m talking about cardboard boxes, guys. You know, we all have had these in our storage areas at one time or another. And getting rid of them can cut down on the chances of mold taking hold in your home almost immediately. Cardboard storage boxes can become a mold feast in a damp environment or even the attic. Because all mold needs really is moisture and food and then it’s growing. Now, cardboard boxes are like the gourmet restaurant to mold. They’re like, “Ooh, this is tasty.”
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. So if you want to protect your belongings and your home’s air quality from threat of mold, you want to make sure you store on plastic or metal shelving instead of on the basement floor and in cardboard boxes. And of course, you want to address any basement water leaks. And if the mold has already started to grow, make sure you hire a mold-remediation pro to help clean up that space.
LESLIE: Nells in Oregon, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
NELLS: I’ve got a problem with flies. We have three heat pumps in the house and it takes in the air at the base of the windows. And every year, we get flies that come up out of those return ducts. There’s electronic filters down there and I can’t imagine where they’re coming from or …
TOM: Well, they may be nesting in the house and they’re birthing themselves right into existence. And the reason they’re probably hanging out around the return ducts is because that’s where air gets drawn into the furnace and they just might be part of that airflow.
I can’t really diagnose exactly what you need to do to get rid of those but I do know somebody that can. And if you go to the Orkin website, our show expert is a guy named Greg Baumann, who I’ve known for many years. He used to be the expert for the National Pest Management Association; now he’s the director of training for Orkin. They have an expert section on their website and if you post that question there and maybe even put a photo of the flies, I’m sure that you’ll be able to get to the bottom of it very quickly.
NELLS: Great. Okie-dokie.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sarah is having some issues with a faucet at her home. And she wrote in saying, “I’m having a problem with dripping faucets. I live in a condo in Lincoln, California that’s 13 years old. I had a plumber out because the tub spout was dripping. He was able to stop the dripping by applying pressure but told me that I had high water pressure of 95. And he suggests that we install a gadget on the water source outside the building to reduce it. In all of my life, I have never been told that I had high water pressure. It’s going to cost me around 525. Is this a correct diagnosis?”
TOM: Yeah. Actually, your plumber is right on with that diagnosis. I mean normal water pressure is more like 50 to 75 pounds, Sarah. And when the pressure is too high, you get problems. You get plumbing problems like pipe noise and dripping faucets and running toilets and high water bills. So the solution is to install a pressure-reducing valve. That’s the gadget he’s talking about.
However, I do have one additional suggestion. Before you hire the plumber for the project, call your water company to report the problem because that is excessively high pressure. And in my view, it’s their job to deliver the proper pressure to your house.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s interesting.
TOM: Yeah. So, hopefully, they might offer to install that valve for you or have another way to deliver a more normal pressure situation.
LESLIE: How is that even monitored? Is it where it’s coming in to your main on the meter? Is there a different way to sort of check where that’s coming in?
TOM: Yeah, you would check – they would check it at the meter or in a valve right where it comes into your house. But typically at the meter, the plumbers will tap in right there with a gauge and figure out what the water pressure was. And if it’s too high – the other thing that can happen is you can even have a prematurely failing water heater as a result of that. So a lot of bad things can happen if that pressure is too high. That’s why I think it’s more of a water-company problem than your own problem.
TOM: Because you can’t control that but they certainly can. That’s their job; that’s why you pay them every month for your water.
LESLIE: That’s definitely a good place to start. And then worst-case scenario, it’s just the time of the phone call. So, good tip there, Sarah. Hope that’s the issue.
TOM: Well, if you’re struggling to keep your home cool this summer, you might want to consider that your attached garage might be adding to the struggle. Leslie has tips that can help, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. Keeping your garage as cool as possible is not just so your cars can live in luxury. Garages can become super hot – even boiling in the summer – and then that sends the heat right into your home.
So, to stop this, first of all you want to make sure that the wall between your garage and your house is very well-insulated. A lot of homeowners think that the garage itself kind of acts like enough insulation but that’s not true. You should also insulate the ceiling overhead and the additional exterior walls.
Now, if you’re well-insulated and you’re still getting those higher temps in the garage space, you want to be sure that your south-facing windows are shaded. And better yet, even consider adding low-E film to the glass, which is going to reflect that sun’s heat away.
And if your garage doubles as a hobby space or a hangout zone or whatever, you might consider adding some air conditioning. Now, a split-ductless heat-pump system really is the best way to go. It’s an air handler. It’s going to mount on the wall inside the garage. The compressor itself is outside. You only turn it on when you want it.
You want to get one that’s ENERGY STAR-rated because those’ll be the most efficient. But it’s a great way to give you extra heat, extra cooling, whatever it might be in that space. And they certainly don’t take up a lot of wall space, which is great.
So, definitely some great options to consider so you can get the most use out of that space and keep your house comfy.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, they say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But try telling that to somebody who’s got hundreds of pounds of junk on hand after a home improvement project. You know, before you can add the new, you’ve got to get rid of the old. And we’re going to share some tips on the best ways to do just that, in 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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