- Winter weather can be especially hard on your home’s plumbing system – especially if your pipes freeze and break. We’ll share simple tips to stop this from happening this holiday season.
- Now that we’ve sailed past Thanksgiving, Christmas is right around the corner so if you’re thinking about decking those halls – you might be wondering whether you should go with a fresh or fake tree this year. Coming up – we’ll talk pros and cons of each, including some tips on how to choose the freshest fresh tree available.
- If you have an older house with beautiful – but drafty – windows, then adding a storm window may be a smart move, especially because today’s storm windows have gone high-tech with coatings that make them even more efficient – details ahead.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Dena in Iowa has floor to ceiling brown paneling and wants to know how she can cover it up.
- Luke from North Carolina has floors that are buckling and wants to know how to fix it.
- Christy in Delaware has a back porch that has chipped away around her storm door.
- Rudy from Tennessee had a leaky roof that was fixed but still may have moisture in the drywall after having it replaced.
- Marilyn in South Dakota wants to know how to preserve kitchen cabinets from her old home and put them in her new home.
- John from New York wants to know how to slope soil away when there is an overwhelming grade from the property going into the house to deal with overflowing.
- Anna needs help with a sticky doors after having her doors repainted.
- Brian in Washington is having a problem with bleeding galvanized nails and wants to know how to fix it.
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 get projects done that you’d like to take on around your house. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or not, we want to help you get the advice and the tips and ideas that you need to take on projects that you’re doing or ones you need to hire a pro for. Now that we are approaching the end of the year, you might be thinking about projects you want to tackle next year. Or maybe there’s a room that you’re spending a lot of time in now that it’s super cold out and you want to spruce it up. You know, paint’s a quick way to do that. Moving furniture around is a quick way to do that.
Leslie, you love to talk about shopping your house, right, when it comes to finding pieces that can work in different places. And it can really dramatically change the whole look of the place.
LESLIE: Yeah. I think it’s interesting. I have a closet – I call it my “prop closet” just because of what I do at work – and I’m always going through their different throw pillows, different tchotchkes, different things, different pieces of art that kind of always cycle through the different spaces. If you’re working on something like this at home, just put everything you’ve got on your dining table, just for the time you’re working on it, and you’ll find something can go to a nice, new spot.
TOM: Whether you’ve got a repair to take on or want some help solving a decorating dilemma, give us a call. Let us help. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, winter weather can be especially hard on your plumbing system, especially if your pipes tend to freeze, because they can break. We’re going to share some simple tips to stop this from happening to you, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
LESLIE: And now that we’ve sailed right past Thanksgiving, Christmas is around the corner. So if you’re thinking about decking those halls, you might be wondering whether you should go with a fresh or a fake tree this year. So coming up, we’re going to talk pros and cons of each, including some tips on how to choose the freshest fresh-cut tree available.
TOM: And if you’ve got an older house with beautiful but drafty windows, then adding storm windows may be a smart move, especially because today’s storm windows have gone high-tech. They now are available with coatings that make them even more efficient. So we’ll share details on that update.
LESLIE: But first, whether you’re doing or you’re dreaming, we want to help you make your home everything that you want it to be, including the holiday house of your dreams. So whatever it is, give us a call. We’re here to lend a hand and we’re certainly happy to help you tackle your next home improvement adventure.
TOM: And we’ve got another great reason for you to reach out, because today we’re giving away the Green Machine 62-Volt Brushless Chainsaw to one listener. That’s worth 289 bucks. So if you want to be in this giveaway, you’ve got to call us with a home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your question to MoneyPit.com. We will send the Green Machine Chainsaw out to one listener drawn at random. So make that you. Give us a call, right now, with your DIY question.
LESLIE: Dina in Iowa is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?
DINA: I have this brown paneling and it goes all the way from the floor to the ceiling in every room. And I wondered if I can paint over this or wallpaper or what is your suggestion?
TOM: Wow. That’s a – what’s that, 1970s?
DINA: Yeah. Yep.
TOM: Yeah. You know, I kind of remember that growing up. We had those – that era in my house. And it’s always better to remove it but you can paint it.
What you want to do, Dina, is you want to prime it. So, the first thing you would do is you would clean it. You would lightly sand it. And because there’s so much of it, I would – when I go the paint store, I would get a sanding extension. It’s on a pole. It’s like a pole with an indexing head at the bottom – at the end of it, I should say. And you can run this pole over the surface and sand it, rough it up a little bit.
And then you’re going to want to prime it. And I would use a good-quality, oil-based primer. It’ll go on nice and thick. It’ll give you a good, solid surface on which to add the wall paint. And then you can use latex wall paint on top of that. And I think it’ll come out nice and it’ll go on easy if you do those steps in that order. Because once you prime it, you get a very nice, even surface. It fills in any of the imperfections in the surface and it will make sure that that topcoat can be accepted properly.
DINA: What about those grooves?
TOM: You’re always going to have those grooves. You can’t do anything about it unless you want to take the paneling down which, by the way, could be an option. Because sometimes, when they put the paneling up, they just nailed it with these types of small, very thin ring nails. You could experiment with the possibility of taking that paneling off the walls. And you may find that underneath it is drywall.
Now, generally, you have to do a lot of spackling, sometimes retaping and that kind of thing. But it is possible that underneath that paneling are some decent, typical drywall-covered walls.
DINA: OK. It sounds like a Saturday job.
TOM: Yeah. Well, at least, if you’ve got that much paneling. It might be a couple of Saturdays’ jobs. A lot of Saturdays.
TOM: Alright, Dina. Good luck with that project. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Luke in North Carolina is on the line with some floors that are buckling. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
LUKE: Underneath my home, I’ve got a crawlspace. And I have HVAC in my house. It was built in 1986. And the wood floors that we had put in are starting to buckle in one place. Nice, big, plank wood floors. And I believe it’s due to the humidity, possibly, in the crawlspace or the way that the – I’m not really sure. But I’m kind of wondering how that can be fixed.
TOM: Well, Luke, buckling wood floors could definitely be caused by very humid air in the crawlspace. So, let’s start there. I’m going to kind of run you through the basics of what you need to do to try to dry that out.
First of all, you want to make sure that you have a vapor barrier. You want plastic sheeting across the entire floor of that crawlspace. You secondly want to make sure that there are crawlspace vents that are opened up on those exterior walls. And thirdly, you want to take steps to reduce the amount of moisture that has a chance to get into that crawlspace. And the way you do that is by making sure that your gutters are clean and free-flowing and extended at least 6 feet away from the house so you’re moving all that water well away from the crawlspace. Then also making sure that the soil slopes away from the house so it’s not sort of recessed or holding water against it. That’s what will dry out a crawlspace.
Now, you could also add a whole-house dehumidifier down there. There are some good models that Santa Fe makes that will be suspended from the crawlspace ceiling and run on a humidistat to, again, pull that moisture out. But that would be the way that you would try to reduce moisture in that crawlspace.
I would be curious, though – you really should see some other signs of moisture, if it’s really that bad to be affecting the floors upstairs. You might see some mold, you might – some algae growth. You may even have some rotted beams. So I would inspect it first and then, if you need to dry it out, those are the steps I would follow.
Good luck with that project.
Well, I love the fall season as I watch all of those beautiful leaves float gently from the trees around my house and land on my grass, which I promptly clean up. But when they’re off the branches, sometimes they reveal big, heavy branches that are weak: branches that, with a little bit of winter ice on them, might come crashing down onto my home, onto our vehicles. So, this means it’s a really good time to sort of assess those weak ones and actually trim them back. And you can do that with a fantastic tool we’re giving away today from our friends at Green Machine.
LESLIE: Yeah. We’ve got, up for grabs, the Green Machine 62-Volt Brushless Chainsaw with 16-inch Oregon bar and chain. It’s got an easy-trigger start, no pull cord. It is battery-operated, so it’s zero gas, no harmful fumes. And the battery is super powerful: a 62-volt lithium battery. It’s going to run for ages and ages. I mean you’ll probably stop wanting to work before the tool actually runs out of juice. So, it’s a great tool to get a lot of stuff done around the house.
You can check it out. It’s available exclusively at The Home Depot for 289 bucks.
TOM: That Green Machine Brushless Chainsaw is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Post your questions to MoneyPit.com or call us at 1-888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Christy in Delaware is on the line. How can we help you today?
CHRISTY: I have a back porch that is on a concrete slab and I recently installed a storm door. It’s a 36-inch door and the bottom of the door has the built-in weather-stripping. But it was installed and everything’s fine but there’s pieces of that concrete slab, right where the door is, that over time has chipped away and more specifically, in each of the corners. And I’m wondering, what can I do to build it up, fill it in without having to buy a whole bag of Sakrete?
TOM: So you’re going to want to use a patching compound on that. And you’re right: it’s not typical – it’s not a typical, bagged concrete mix. It’s made by the same manufacturers. Take a look at QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. They have a patching compound. And basically, the difference is the patching compounds are designed to stick to the original concrete surface. So if you have some chips or broken-out sections there, you can repair it with the patching compound. And this way, it’ll stay through the weather.
And in terms of that door that’s not striking properly, what you could do is put a sweep on the outside of that door. They have door sweeps that attach to the outside. And they’re adjustable so that you can have one side be lower than the other. And some of them are rubber where you can actually scroll it – take a marker and trace the uneven concrete surface to the bottom of the door sweep and basically cut it to fit.
CHRISTY: Yeah. Because the problem that I’m having is little critters get in – slugs, crickets, that kind of thing – and it’s really not – it’s just the corners.
TOM: I would do both. I would patch the concrete and if the door sweep is still not in constant contact, I would replace it and then adjust it to fit.
CHRISTY: OK. Great.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Christy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, winter weather can be especially hard on your home’s plumbing system, especially if your pipes are prone to freezing. Because those pipes can expand and break and that can result in some pretty significant water damage around your house.
LESLIE: Yeah. But fortunately, there are some simple steps that you can be taking to protect your home’s plumbing this winter season.
First of all, you want to think about insulting those pipes. Insulation, it’s like snuggling up in a cozy blanket, except this one keeps the pipes warm and not you. Well, the pipes are going to keep you warm, so you’ve got to all work together here, folks. And it’s really one of the best measures that you can take to prevent freezing.
You want to use a high-quality fiberglass insulative wrap or even pipe heat tape. Those are some great options to do the project.
TOM: You also want to make sure you’re keeping the heat on its sort of normal settings when you go away. Even though you’re heading to a warm location, you might think, “Well, I don’t need to heat the house that much while I’m away.” I think you do. Because if you turn that heat down too much and you do get a deep freeze, the pipes are much more likely to freeze and burst and cause major flooding in your home.
The other way, though, to avoid all of that is to turn off the main water line before you go away. So if you’re going away for more than a day, I would say, make sure you know where that main water valve is and turn it off. It should be an easy thing to do. And then when you come back, you can turn it back on again. This way, if the pipes do freeze and break – which can still happen, even if the water is turned off – you’ll discover it quickly when you turn that water back on and avoid a whole bunch of damage.
Just imagine if you were away, you got a freeze and a break and it just started to leak and flood. I mean I remember, years ago, this happened to a house that I was home inspecting. And I came back after – when they were getting ready to close and I was the one that discovered, literally, about 4 feet of water in the basement because of a freeze break. So, needless to say, that transaction did not go through on time, at least.
But a simple thing is to just turn off the main if it’s going to be vacant for any period of time.
LESLIE: My goodness. And such damage can happen so quickly and it usually can be very significant.
Now, another thing that you can do, guys, is opening your sink-cabinet doors. By just simply opening the cabinets where those pipes are, it can allow that warmer air to get into the cabinet. You can also keep the ambient temperature from getting low enough to freeze those pipes. So especially if you’ve got any pipes on an exterior wall, try to keep those cabinet doors open a bit.
TOM: And finally, let the faucets drip. Turn on the faucets to allow a slow drip during a freeze in temperatures. Keeping that water moving makes it a lot less likely to freeze and break.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. Apply for yours at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
Alright. Next up, we’ve got Rudy in Tennessee joining us here at The Money Pit who had a leaky roof and now you’re trying to fix up all the remaining issues. Tell us what happened.
RUDY: So, we had a big rainstorm. And just got a call from my wife and I came in and looked at it and I had a bunch of water running down the seam of my drywall, into the – onto the landing inside my house. Then I called a handyman. He came and took down the drywall and wait, he noticed that it was kind of leaky. The roof was leaking and then it came in on the drywall.
I had a roofer come out, licensed. He came, he repaired the roof and also put some water guards to kind of channel the water away. And then the handy-guy put up the drywall and taped it, painted it over. And so then, probably about a month later, all that drywall – the new drywall – kind of buckled, kind of came out.
And there’s no more water. It’s rained here multiple times since then. I haven’t seen any more water come in but I didn’t know if it was moisture still in the wall or if it was just bulky drywall that the person put up.
TOM: Well, it’s not – is no such thing as bad drywall. There are bad drywall contractors but no such thing as bad drywall. And when you say buckle, is it swollen or is it sort of popped off the wall?
RUDY: It popped off the wall. Like you can push a little bit on it and you can see the exact place where the patched drywall was. You can look at the seam and it’s kind of uneven.
TOM: OK. So, if it sort of popped off the wall, then I suspect that it just wasn’t adhered properly and it might just need to be re-secured. You might need a few extra drywall screws or nails in that.
If it’s swollen and starting to look like it’s wet or damp or stained or moldy then, of course, the roof leak could be continuing. But if it’s just loose and came off the wall, then it might, in fact, be that it wasn’t attached very well and normal expansion and contraction of that area has forced it to sort of release. So I would go back to the contractor and ask if he can re-secure it and retape it, re-spackle it.
RUDY: Perfect. Thank you, guys. Enjoy listening to your show.
TOM: Well, thanks so much for calling, Rudy. We appreciate it.
LESLIE: Marilyn in South Dakota is on the line with a cabinet question. How can we help you today?
MARILYN: A galley kitchen. It’s very small. We just live in a small ranch but I – we put in quarter-sawn, custom-built cabinets with the crown molding to the ceiling – the French cabinets up to the ceiling. And they’re European-style. And so, we’re going to be putting the house on the market. And my husband and I are having a little debate because I want to take them out and bring them with. They’re quarter-sawn solid oak and we put them in years ago where if we had to repeat this again, now it would be three times the cost.
And so I want to take them out and I’m designing a new home. So, I have the galley design sort of drawn in. And so we could put them, basically, in the same configuration with just a little bit more room on both ends for other living space. So I was wanting to get in your opinion on that.
TOM: Sure. Why not? You can basically disassemble it the same way that you assembled it. You mentioned that you have crown molding on the cabinets all the way up to the ceiling. That’d be the place to start. And I would take the doors off – take the molding apart, take the doors off next – because you don’t want to have to work on those cabinets with the doors on them.
So I would take the doors off at the hinges, carefully pack them and store them and label them so you know which cabinet they go to. Then just start taking the boxes apart. Start with the wall cabinets and work your way down to the base cabinets. And the difficulty of the project is going to be totally based on how they put it together the first time. But hopefully, you can get everything apart pretty quickly. With just some very gentle prying off of the molding and with the removing of those cabinets the same way they were assembled – they were probably screwed into the wall – you should be good to go.
I would be careful that – the wall cabinets are usually also screwed together. And so you may have to pull out more fasteners than you expect. But I certainly don’t see any reason you can’t disassemble them, especially given the fact that they’re good-quality cabinets and that you feel like there’s a place for them in the new home.
MARILYN: I’ve been wanting to kind of call about this but we weren’t sure until we found out for sure we were going to be moving.
TOM: Alright. Well, it sounds like we’ve got a plan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, John in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOHN: Last week, I heard something about a guy talking about drainage issues in the basement. And he started talking about certain things to make sure of with the gutters and the footer drains and making sure the soil slopes away from your house.
JOHN: My situation is a little weird. I have a salt-box style house, 1,750 square feet. A very steep hill my house is built into. So, basically, three sides of the – two sides of the basement are partially in the soil.
JOHN: One side butts up to the garage, at the ground level, on one side of the house. And one wall of the basement is below the ground completely.
I have very good drainage. I’m on a hill, like I said. However, when it rains heavily, I do get that seep around the foundation. And my thought was, how do you slope soil away in a situation where there’s an overwhelming grade on the property coming right up against the house?
TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point. So, in your situation, the grade is not as important as what you can do to intercept that runoff through your property. So, two things.
First of all, the advice that we gave you about gutters, that’s really critical even in your situation. The gutters have got to be clean, free-flowing and those downspouts have got to be discharging away from the house. In your case, you’re going to probably want to go from the uphill side to the downhill side. You might want to run them underground through solid PVC pipe and have them break out to daylight somewhere on the downhill side. So you’re really managing that roof water.
In terms of the runoff, the way you handle that is with something called a “curtain drain.”
TOM: Basically, it’s a trough drain and it gets laid into the soil. And as the water runs down the hill, it falls into this drain and then it gets intercepted and sort of run around the house. Now, instead of going through all the work to construct a French drain where you have to dig trenches and use perforated pipe and stone and filter cloth, there’s another type of a prefabricated French drainpipe that you could pick up at Home Depot. And it’s made by NDS.
It’s an EZ-Drain pipe. And you’ll recognize it when you see it, because it’s a plastic drainage pipe that’s surrounded with – it looks kind of like a packing peanut and then there’s a filter cloth around that. So they’re one piece. They’re modular. And you basically stack these up side by side and then put the soil back on top of them. It’s a very fast, easy way to put that French drain in without going through all of the work that you would have to if you were building it kind of from scratch.
So, in your case, you have to put this drain in to intercept the runoff of the water, run it around the house, again, out to daylight and then I think that your water problems will go away.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, now that we’ve sailed right past Thanksgiving, Christmas is around the corner and that means many of you guys are spending these weekends shopping for the holiday tree. Or maybe this is the year that you decide to skip the trip to the tree farm or the roadside stand and pick up an artificial tree. There’s a lot of good reasons out there for you to go either way, so we’re going to give you a hand.
TOM: Now, first, let’s talk about live trees. They smell fresh, plus, the whole routine of just picking that tree out is a favorite family tradition that never gets old. But getting a tree from the nearby farm or stand also helps support your local economy, especially since many local organizations use that as a fundraiser, as well. The downsides are, of course, dealing with the fact that all the needles are going to fall out and even though you cleaned it up after the holidays, you’ll continue to find them through April, for sure. But you also have to water it. So, you need to do that because you don’t want to let it dry out because that increases your risk of fire.
LESLIE: It’s funny – I feel like this time of year is the only time that I order more vacuum bags, because I don’t vacuum nearly as much as I do as when the tree is around. And I’m always like, “Oh, got to get some more of these.”
LESLIE: And then that lasts me for ages and ages and then the tree comes back around. And you know when you turn it on for the first time after Christmas and you’re like, “Whoo, pine needles.” It’s all up in there.
Now, a good thing, guys, about getting a fake tree is that you can use them year after year. And I’ve got to tell you, I have never been pro fake tree but the ones I have been seeing recently, especially the past few years, truly look just like the real thing. And they can come with amazing light systems that have thousands of lights. They’re so much easier to maintain. You don’t have to worry about allergies to sap, vacuuming, watering, all of those things. But you’ve got to make sure that you do spend a little bit of money to get the tree that really looks fantastic, because there are some great options out there at a variety of price points.
TOM: You know, we got a good one – say, this’ll be the second, no, the third year with it – because we had one year where it was really, really hard to find a tree. And we ended up going through tree farm after tree farm and finally found the perfect Charlie Brown Christmas tree – you know what I mean – and sort of settled for that.
So, we got one that is a fake tree. And I think I got it on Amazon. It was maybe between three …
LESLIE: And he didn’t even look at it in person.
TOM: No. But I read reviews and I saw what the history of the product had been. And it looked pretty good, especially because it had built-in lighting and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to just die after the first year. But I read reviews from people that had had these for years; they were really happy with them. And we’re happy with them, too. Because it really looks good and it’s kind of fun that you can just change the lights up if you want them to be a white tree or a multicolored tree or you want them to sparkle or glow. You can do all that now with the LED light systems.
LESLIE: Yeah. You’re just giving me excuses to keep my tree up for the entire year. That’s what would happen.
TOM: There you go. Because you don’t want to have a dated tree, Les.
LESLIE: No. I want to have a birthday tree and a Valentine’s tree and an Easter tree. I want the tree all the time. I think that’s partially why I get the real tree, because then it makes me take it down.
TOM: I could’ve had it up for Halloween. It would’ve been a Halloween tree.
LESLIE: Yeah. Black-and-orange ornaments, fun purple-and orange-lighting. Come on, Tom. What are you doing?
TOM: Well, if you’re going to buy a fresh tree and you have a good supply locally, one way to tell if the needles are fresh is to break them. If they break quickly, then it’s dried out. But if they bend, then you’re probably OK. So, little trick of the trade to make sure you’re actually getting a fresh tree.
I also found out that a lot of the tree farms, so to speak, even those that grow trees, they also bring in trees. And they stack them up there as if they came off the farm when they really didn’t; they came from somewhere else in the country. So, I feel a little disappointed when I see that.
LESLIE: Can’t trust anybody, Tom.
TOM: Well, if you’ve held off buying battery-powered tools just because you didn’t think they would work as well as gas, our giveaway today is a good example of how far this technology has come.
LESLIE: Yeah. We’ve got up for grabs, this hour, a fantastic chainsaw. But I’m talking about a Green Machine 62-Volt Brushless Chainsaw with 16-inch Oregon bar and chain. It’s got an easy-trigger start, which I think is the best part of the entire thing, because I always struggled with pull cords but not here. It’s got zero gas, so you don’t have to worry about any harmful fumes, and a really powerful 62-volt lithium battery. So you’re going to get a lot of run time out of this baby.
It’s available exclusively at The Home Depot for $289. But we’ve got one going out to a lucky listener this hour.
TOM: Yeah. You know, it’s pretty amazing. This saw actually serves up 45 minutes of run time. So the way I look at this, we are more likely to run out of juice – I am more likely to get tired and run out of juice before that saw does. Because that’s a lot of cutting time. I’m not talking about 45 minutes for the whole project. I mean 45 minutes of actually sawing through lumber. You could have this thing out there for 3 hours and not use up that battery.
So if you want to be a believer and you want to win yourself a Green Machine Brushless Cordless Chainsaw, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post them to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Anna on the line who needs some help with some door improvement. Tell us what you’re working on.
ANNA: Hi. Yes, I have one metal door and three fiberglass doors that – I got a guy to paint it. And not knowing – when I got home, he actually painted with a spray-can paint. So when the heat hits the door, I can’t open the door because it’s sticking to the door jamb.
TOM: Oh, boy. What a mess. What a mess.
ANNA: How do I repair that?
TOM: Well, even though he painted it with spray paint, it should still work. I mean it should dry. The fact that it’s spray paint is not making it any more or less tacky than perhaps if you use paint out of a gallon. But the fact that it’s sticking might mean that the door needs a bit of adjustment inside the opening. Are all the doors sticking?
ANNA: All the doors stick right on the rubber of the door jamb. It’s like a – I think that it’s a shoo-shoo (ph) can paint, not – I’m like, “Well, you sprayed what to the door?”
TOM: What kind of paint did he use?
ANNA: I call it a “shoo-shoo (ph).” Regular can paint. He went to the hardware store, got a spray-can paint and sprayed it.
TOM: Well, look, what you should do now, if you’ve had a bad paint job, is you really have to pull that old paint off. So I would take the doors off of the hinges, lay them down horizontally, use a paint remover to pull off the paint that’s there.
Once you get it back down to where it was when you started, then I would prime the doors first. And I would use an oil-based primer, because that’s going to give you good adhesion to both the metal and the fiberglass doors. And then I would put a good, top-quality finish coat on that using a semi-gloss paint. Then let them dry really well and then reinstall them.
ANNA: So is it possible then to – this is on metal and fiberglass – to get a paint remover for this thing?
TOM: Yes. There’s paint removers – the citrus-based removers are the most effective. So use the citrus-based paint removers, pull off the old paint, prime the doors and then repaint them. You should be good to go. OK, Anna?
ANNA: Thank you so very much again.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you have beautiful, old but super-drafty windows, installing storm windows could be one of the most cost-effective solutions for plugging those energy leaks. They’re really easy to install. They cost a fraction of actually replacing a window. And in fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, storm windows with low emissivity – low-E coatings – can actually lower that utility bill just as much as if you have replaced that entire window.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s because low-E windows reflect infrared heat back into the home. And that improves the window’s – essentially, the window’s insulation ability. And it lowers your heating and your cooling costs. On average, low-E storm windows can save you between 12 and 33 percent in heating-and-cooling costs. So you’re going to get year-round savings.
Plus, it’s possible to install these yourself but the most important step in the process is measuring. You want to get that right and if you do, this is a great investment for your home.
LESLIE: Brian in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRIAN: Last summer, I repainted the exterior of my house and I used quite a few nails to kind of shore up some different things. I also fixed a window. And after I repainted, I used galvanized nails. But this year, I already have a lot of bleeding of rust from the nails coming through. So I also did some caulking between the pieces of wood and that seems to be peeling out already. So I was just wondering if there was something that I could go over the heads of the nails with: something quick, something that I didn’t have to redo the whole side of the house.
TOM: When you did the side of the house last summer, did you prime it or did you just put the paint over the old paint?
BRIAN: I put lots of primer.
TOM: Lots of primer?
TOM: What kind of primer? Like a – was it a latex primer? Oil primer? What was it?
BRIAN: Gosh, I don’t know that. I didn’t buy the paint but we put a …
TOM: But you did prime. You primed over those nail heads?
BRIAN: Yes, we did. Yes.
TOM: And it’s coming through. Because, generally – well, you say you used galvanized, so that’s good. Was this cedar siding?
BRIAN: No. It’s just conventional horizontals, yeah.
TOM: So standard? Well, unfortunately, it seems like the nails – the galvanized coating on the nails – didn’t really stand up very well. But generally, the advice is this: when you finish nailing off that, you need to spot-prime those nail heads. But if you’re telling me you’ve already spot-primed them and the stain’s coming right through, then I’m not really sure that we have any other suggestions for you.
There are differences in the quality of primers. I would always recommend an oil-based primer over a latex primer when I have a stain issue to deal with, because it tends to seal it in better. So, that’s the only additional thing you might want to try is to sand those down to the heads and then touch them up with an oil-based primer and paint them again.
BRIAN: Alright. Well, I guess that answered my question.
TOM: Alright, Brian. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Roy recently wrote in saying, “I bought a ranch-styled home built in the 60s and I’d like to insulate the exterior walls. Is blown-in insulation a good option?”
TOM: Well, it is but first things first. You want to make sure that you are insulating the areas of your home that are subject to the most heat loss before you even think about the walls. So if you don’t already have between, I’d say, 18 and 22 inches of insulation in the ceilings of your home – the ceiling between the house and the attic – that’s where you start. So you beef up the ceiling insulation first, then you do the floor insulation. If you have exposed floors – like if your floor is over a crawlspace or a basement – put in floor insulation there. And then you can use cellulose blown-in insulation for the walls. But do it in the right priority. You could make those walls nice and tight but if you’re losing a lot of heat overhead, it’s not going to make any difference whatsoever.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean you’ve got to think about the roof of the house as like a hat. So anything you do in the attic is just putting on a better hat.
TOM: Well, the holiday season is here and it is time to deck the halls. But whether you plan to go all out with a light display that could be seen from Mars or not, starting your holiday décor at the front door is a great first step. Leslie has got some simple ideas for a memorable and festive entryway, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie, take it away.
LESLIE: Yeah, you know what? Any day now – or perhaps, everybody around you has already done this – but you’re going to notice that houses are becoming decked out with lights, garland, inflatable decorations. But there are, actually, plenty of other ways to make a splash in small but effective ways, starting with your front door.
Now, you can never go wrong with an evergreen Christmas wreath or a swag. They’re definitely holiday classics. They look great as-is but they also leave you some room to put on a personal or a playful holiday touch. You can use sleigh bells, you can pick out a theme for this year. Is it reindeer? Is it pink ornaments? Whatever it is that you’re feeling is kind of the trend – silver, sparkly snowflakes. Whatever you like, you can use that to decorate the swags, the garlands, the wreaths. And it kind of keeps the cost down, because I feel like every time you pick up a wreath that has a couple of decorative balls thrown on it, it’s three times as much as the plain wreath.
So definitely go ahead, scour the sale aisles at the crafting store. And you can find some really cool things to decorate your custom garlands for the house. Or any ornament that doesn’t make its way to the tree, as long as it’s not an heirloom, why not use that?
Now, definitely think about it. There’s no rules. It doesn’t have to seem exactly traditional holiday. If you love the ocean or you live somewhere by the sea, you can use shells. Make an ornament of shells. If you’re loving of nature and animals, you can use a set of antlers and hang a ribbon off of that or put an evergreen bow off of that, as well. All of that can definitely give that holiday feel and that sort of whimsical touch that still reads holiday without being what you traditionally think of as holiday décor.
Whatever your approach, guys, don’t go ahead and just throw a nail, ride it smack into that front door. Because it’s going to be not the best thing, especially if you don’t get it in the right spot to begin with. So, look at door hangers or maybe hang that wreath from the knocker, if you’ve got one. You can also place a hook at the top of the door and then extend a clear fishing line and the wreath from it.
Now, once you go inside, the foyer or the entryway, these are really great canvases, as well, to showcase your holiday fun. Again, you can stay classic with garland and lights. You can be seasonal with pinecones or snowflakes or pick a theme: beachy, woodland, nutcracker. Whatever it is, that can be your holiday décor for this year. So go with it and have some fun.
TOM: Great ideas. We’d love to see all those decked-out doors, so post photos of your finished project at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
Coming up next time on the program, bathtubs can last a lifetime but their finishes? Not so much. If your bathtub finish is worn, you don’t have to get rid of the entire tub. We’re going to share much less expensive solutions for quick spruce-ups, 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.
(Copyright 2021 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.)