TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement projects on this holiday weekend at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. If you’re out shopping until you’re dropping and you don’t have time for your home improvements around the house, why don’t we talk about a project that you might want to plan for the year to come? Whatever is on your to-do list, you can slide right over to ours by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question online at MoneyPit.com.
Hey, coming up on today’s show, over the holidays our kitchens are getting a real workout. And that’s one reason it’s also the time of year that many people start thinking about getting a new kitchen. So if that’s on your wish list, we’ve got tips on how you can get a professional design done for free, coming up.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we begin our series on home improvement’s best bloggers. Brittany Bailey from Pretty Handy Girl blog will be by with some fun stories of DIY projects that she’s tackled and blogged about.
TOM: And if you’re a renter, did you know your possessions may not be covered by the building’s insurance? We’re going to tell you how to make sure that you have what you need should your home or apartment be damaged. Plus, we’re here to take your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s up first?
LESLIE: Denise in Ohio is on the line with some window condensation. Tell us what’s going on.
DENISE: I’ve got some windows; they’re double-pane. The house is about 10 years old. And I am constantly battling condensation in the windows. I typically, with a lot of the windows, open them daily and close them at nighttime. If there’s some windows that I don’t get to in the wintertime, when it gets really cold, there is water dripping. It pools, it turns to ice. I try and get some of that putty-type stuff that you can put in the bottom and along the sides.
TOM: Is the condensation inside the panes of the windows or is it like on the inside surface?
DENISE: Inside surface of the house.
TOM: Alright. And these are thermal-pane windows or single-pane windows?
TOM: Well, clearly, the insulated glass is not insulated, so that’s why you’re getting this level of condensation. If you had truly insulated glass, it would be too warm for this condensation to occur. But you have warm, moist air in the house. It’s striking the very, very cold, virtually uninsulated glass and then condensing on that glass and dripping down. So that’s what’s going on; that’s what’s causing the moisture. It’s nothing more than, unfortunately, bad windows.
So, with that said, replacement windows are in your future. Now, you don’t have to do it immediately but it’s a project you’re going to have to face. I mean the good news is that replacement windows, the costs have come down. They’re all custom-made by just by nature, so the company will measure the windows in your house. And by replacing them, they simply pull out the sashes – the old sashes – and slip in a new window into the old hole. And it looks great, it works well. It’s just a good system. So that’s in your future.
For now, though, what we need to do is two things: we need to take as much humidity out of the house as we can and secondly, I’d like to see you get a barrier in front of those windows. So, if you could use, for example, an insulated shade – one that has sort of those honeycomb kind of designs – that would help a little bit.
DENISE: I’ve got double right now and I’ve just ordered triple for some other windows.
TOM: Well, that will help because that, basically, will stop some of that warm, moist air from hitting the window. And also drapes. Shades and drapes help the situation.
In terms of the humidity, there are a number of ways we can attack this. First of all, you want to make sure you start outside your house, looking at the drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. Because believe it or not, if water is allowed to collect around the foundation and it doesn’t run away from your house, if the gutters aren’t extended away from the house, that foundation will absorb water and it will release into the air once it gets inside. That adds to the humidity. So I would definitely do that.
Secondly, I would ask you to check to make sure that all your vent fans are venting out, not recirculating. Because that will help, as well.
And thirdly, up in the attic, you want to make sure that you’re well-ventilated. Because that vapor pressure starts at the basement or first floor – will permeate all the building materials and end up in the attic. And if the attic’s not ventilated enough, it’s going to kind of hang right there.
So, those are ways to reduce humidity inside the house. Of course, you could also use a whole-home dehumidifier. But I think, in this case, if we just control moisture and try to get something that’s protecting those windows, that’s the best you’re going to do short of replacing them.
DENISE: Well, what about getting some circulation? If I open them earlier in the morning and get some circulation going, will that …?
TOM: Nah, you’re – listen, this is just science, OK? Warm, moist air against cold surface equals condensation, you know? You see this in the summer when you go outside with a glass of iced tea and moisture forms on the outside of it. It’s the same thing. It’s just happening in the winter in your house because everything is reversed: the warm, moist air is inside the house and that cold glass is your window.
DENISE: Yes. And unfortunately, we have to keep the humidity at a certain temperature because of asthma and allergies.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah.
DENISE: Alright. Didn’t get as good a window as I thought I did. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Denise. Sorry we couldn’t give you better news but maybe you’ll get through with that.
LESLIE: Joe in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JOE: Yes, I have a stone fireplace. It’s a natural stone over a block frame or whatever you call it. And some of the mortar is coming out. I’m getting some water into my basement, I think, from where the mortar is cracked. And I had an individual, a mason, come out and look at it and he gave me a price of about $8,000 to correct this. And I can’t – I wondered if there was something that, possibly, we could do ourselves.
TOM: What is he proposing to do for eight grand?
JOE: Take it all off and start – put it all back up.
TOM: So, he’s going to basically take the whole wall apart and put it back together again? It sounds to me from what you’re saying that it’s just that the mortar is deteriorating between the stone. And when that happens, usually the cure is to repoint it, not to rebuild it completely. Is he seeing something that’s so bad it has to be completely rebuilt?
JOE: Well, I don’t think so. I think it’s just – he just acts like it all needs to come off to go back anew.
TOM: Maybe he just needs to sell you a project of that size and scope.
JOE: Yeah. Maybe.
TOM: Maybe it doesn’t need to come off.
So, listen, what you normally would do if you had deteriorated mortar between brick or stone or block is you chip out the old mortar, just the loose stuff, and then you repoint it. Pointing mix is sort of a thicker type of mortar mix that has good adhesion. And then a mason would repoint those surfaces.
The last thing, once you get that all done, that you could do is you could put a masonry sealer on it. And the type of masonry sealer you want is one that’s silicone-based and vapor-permeable. And the reason you say “vapor-permeable” is because it needs to breathe. This way, moisture won’t get trapped underneath the surface and then freeze and then chip off that surface of that stone.
But I don’t – I can’t imagine why you would want to tear the whole thing down unless there’s something that I don’t know based on what he saw. And if there was, he should’ve been very clear with explaining to you why he’s prescribing this very expensive repair for your house.
JOE: So, two things. What about – how do you get it – the mortar – to stay in between and not fall back in the void behind the stone?
TOM: Masons do that when they repoint and there’s trowels that are specifically designed for this that are basically the size of a mortar joint. So, just pack it in. It’s detail work but it can be done.
JOE: OK. And on the sealer, do you seal everything or just try to seal the mortar?
TOM: No, you seal everything.
JOE: OK. So you just spray it over with a pump-up sprayer or something then?
TOM: Well, you would – yeah, you could use a pump-up sprayer. That’s true. You could do that. Or you can use a paint sprayer. One or the other.
JOE: That sounds like it’s very doable.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with your home improvement or your home repair question. We’re here to lend a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, do you dream of designing a new kitchen for your home but you just don’t know where to start? We’ve got simple steps you can take, right now, to figure out what you want and a tip on a no-obligation design service that can pull it all together for you for free. It’s all coming up, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are here to help you with your home improvement project.
LESLIE: Laura in Connecticut is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?
LAURA: I’m calling for my son; he purchased a home. But he has two kitchens, OK, that he wants to insulate. They’re outside-wall kitchens. The house is over 100 years old. It’s perched high. It’s a coastal home, alright? The washer and dryer on the first floor and it shimmies a little bit. The walls – we took down a couple of the walls and we noticed he has some [little clapboard] (ph) walls. They are horizontal planks. They’re spaced, OK? And they do have a couple of nail holes due to poor insulation. No, I’m sorry, poor vinyl siding, OK? During the winter, we also noticed that the heat is very challenged. You can actually see your breath. How do we insulate these walls?
TOM: So you have a really old house, 100 years-plus. And you’ve got some very cold walls that are – cold rooms that are so cold, you can see your breath. So, there’s a couple of things. We have to start at the beginning with this. Is this a one-story house or a two?
LAURA: It’s a two-story house. In fact, both kitchens are on the same side of the house and one above the other. And the kitchen on the first floor, not only does it have the washer and dryer and shimmies the floor somewhat but it has a dirt basement.
TOM: So, the kitchens are on top – stacked on top of each other. First of all, we need to – when you’re trying to evaluate how much insulation the house has and try to make it as warm as possible, the easiest and the most important place to start is the attic. And you’re in Connecticut, so you need 15 to 20 inches of fiberglass insulation across the floor of that attic. And if you don’t have that much, then you’re wasting a lot of heat. So you’ve got to really insulate the attic.
Now, if you’ve got some insulation, that’s great. You could add more to that on top of it. You want to use unfaced fiberglass batts and then stack them side by side.
TOM: Now, the other thing to look at is the type of heating system you have in this house. Is it forced air or is it hot water?
LAURA: Oh, it’s electric.
TOM: Oh, it’s electric. Yeah, no, even more reason to make sure that place is well-insulated. Did he get a home inspection done when he bought the house?
LAURA: He said he did. I wasn’t here. I’m here now, freezing. That’s why I called. And I wasn’t in this state. I happened to come in to help him out with whatever and to find out it’s really poorly insulated.
TOM: Alright. Look, you have a lot going on with this house. I can only sort of poke around on this from, you know, from a distance. But I would say that if you don’t have – if you have a cold and uncomfortable house, you have insufficient insulation and probably insufficient heat. Now, the insulation is the easiest, quickest, fastest thing you can fix. And you can start in the attic. Insulating exterior walls is rather difficult because they’re already built, although there are ways to do that.
But since this is a new house for you guys and since you say your son had a home inspection, the next call I would make would be to my home inspector. And I would ask him to revisit the house with you guys together, because you’re having some pretty serious problems with it and you’re hoping that maybe he can give you some advice. And in a nice sort of way, why didn’t this come up on the inspection, as well? So I would do those two things because you need more information to determine what’s going on with this. But I can tell you for certain you don’t have enough insulation.
Laura, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, this is the time of year when our kitchens get a real workout. And not so surprisingly, it’s also the time of year when many of us start thinking about a new kitchen. If that’s you, the first step is figuring out exactly what you want in a new kitchen. And that can be pretty overwhelming sometimes.
TOM: Yeah. But it really doesn’t have to be, especially with sites like Pinterest or Houzz or CliqStudios.com where you’ll find hundreds of kitchen designs to review. So what you want to do is start bookmarking or printing out these designs that you find really attractive. And it’s going to help you narrow down the choices for your own space.
LESLIE: Next, get the help of a professional kitchen designer. Now, this is super important because a kitchen is something that most folks do about once in a lifetime. So you want to work with a pro to get it just right. Sites like CliqStudios actually have professional designers who work with you and offer free cabinet-design services. Just fill out a form and upload a rough sketch of your kitchen dimensions and the CliqStudios pros do the rest.
TOM: CliqStudios.com manufactures beautiful, affordable kitchen cabinets and they make it so easy to take your ideas and turn them into reality. So why not give that a shot? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Visit CliqStudios.com/Free. That’s Cliq – spelled C-l-i-q – Studios.com/Free.
LESLIE: And hey, if your spouse doesn’t know what to get you for the holidays, get the free design done and then you can not-so-subtly hand that off to your spouse as your wish list.
TOM: And right now, there’s another great reason to head to CliqStudios.com/Free. They have a very cool guide that you can download for free that was created by the editors at This Old House. It is chock-full of expert tips and tricks and ideas to help inspire your own kitchen-design plan. Just go to CliqStudios.com/Free to get the free guide. That’s CliqStudios.com/Free – C-l-i-q-Studios.com/Free.
LESLIE: Mike in Michigan is on the line with a question about heating and cooling. What’s going on at your money pit?
MIKE: I’ve got a large, open space – about 4,000 square feet – and I’m wondering what would be the most efficient way to condition the space. There’s currently natural gas, a radiating element on the ceiling – about 15-foot-high ceilings. What do we do to bring air-conditioning into the space? Is a split-ductless system better versus forced air? What do you think?
LESLIE: Now, you said the space is 4,000 square feet?
LESLIE: What kind of heat source do you have there now? What is your fuel? Is it forced air? What goes on there already?
MIKE: There is no forced air. There is a natural gas – this is currently an industrial space. It was previously an industrial space.
MIKE: It’s being reclaimed for something else. There’s currently a radiating element running down the middle of the room, about 96 feet. And it’s natural gas.
TOM: Your gas bills must be pretty high.
MIKE: Yes. Exactly.
TOM: Is the place insulated, Mike, or is it kind of like a warehouse?
MIKE: It is. It is very well-insulated. It’s an old, brick building. I think insulation will not be a problem.
TOM: Well, I think that you’re probably going to want to put in a forced-air ducted system. This is well beyond split-ductless, the size of this place. And I think you’re going to want to do a forced-air heating-and-cooling system with the ducts that go down the middle of that building. Perhaps you can feed it from the roof down and bring the – it’d be nice if you could bring the ducts down to floor level through a wall, at least for the heating side of this. Because this way, that heat won’t stay at the ceiling.
The fact that you have that strip heater up at the top of the ceiling means all the heat stays up there and you need that many more BTUs to push it down. But in a perfect world, you would bring those ducts down to the floor level so that they would discharge. That’s why you see ducts typically only about 12 inches off the floor because heat rises and it’s more effective that way.
Now, there are some designs where you have two registers: one near the floor and one near the ceiling. And in that type of design, you would open up the ceiling register when it was running air-conditioning and you would open up the floor register when it was running heat. But I think a ducted system is probably going to be the most effective for this big industrial space and enable you to convert it into whatever you need it to be after that.
You know, if you went with split-ductless, you would have to have multiple units on the outside wall. And I just suspect that that will probably be a lot more expensive by the time you buy all those units, install all those units and run all those units than a well-designed, well-installed standard, ducted system.
MIKE: Gotcha. About what square footage is a ductless system capable of handling?
TOM: Well, I mean it really can handle any size that you need. You can just stack on additional units. So it really depends on how big the split-ductless system is. Typically, in a home at least, you would estimate that 600 to 800 square feet of space would require a ton of air-conditioning, just kind of rule of thumb. But there’s a lot of things that impact that. And a professional heating-and-cooling contractor, the first thing that that pro should do is a heat-loss analysis, which is a calculation that determines exactly how many BTUs that you need in heating and cooling power to keep that place comfortable on the coldest and the warmest days of the year.
MIKE: Well, thank you, guys. I will – thanks for sending me in the right direction and my next step will be to call a professional.
TOM: You’ve got it, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: On The Money Pit. Up next, if your home needed a new kitchen badly, would you just do it yourself? Our next guest did just that and has the blog post to prove it. Brittany Bailey from the Pretty Handy Girl blog joins us next with that story and others that may inspire your next project, after this.
TOM: Up until now, you purchased insulation to insulate, to help keep warm spaces warm and cool spaces cool.
LESLIE: But now, Owens Corning has changed all of that with Pure Safety High Performance Insulation. Pure Safety not only insulates but also actually contributes to a healthier, safer and more comfortable environment for your family.
TOM: That’s right. First, it’s a high-density, all-purpose insulation that efficiently fills cavities in your home with a layer of thermal protection. Next, Pure Safety contributes to healthier indoor air. It stays put in walls and floors and produces 50 percent less dust than some other insulation products. That means healthier air for your family to breathe.
LESLIE: Pure Safety is also fire-resistant. In case of a fire, you’re going to have extra minutes to escape to safety. And those are minutes that can make all the difference.
TOM: And finally, Pure Safety reduces noise up to 50 percent. It helps to keep outside noise out and reduces inside noise from traveling from room to room inside.
Pure Safety High Performance insulation from Owens Corning, a single product that will enhance your family’s health, safety and comfort. Learn more at PureSafetyInsulation.com. Pure Safety, the greatest home improvement you’ll never see.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Our next guest is a licensed general contractor and the powerhouse behind PrettyHandyGirl.com, a blog filled with DIY tutorials.
TOM: Brittany Bailey originally had the idea to host workshops for women on how to use power tools and accomplish home repairs and improvements. But her husband suggested she’d reach more people with a blog. And it turns out he was right. Brittany now reaches more than a half-million readers every month with tips and advice to help them get their projects done.
BRITTANY: Hi. Thanks for having me.
TOM: You know, I had the idea to help women with – not with a blog but with a do-it-yourself class many, many years ago. I used to go to school at a place called the College of New Jersey and my buddies and I, we were all in the same fraternity. And we thought, “We could probably meet a lot of girls if we taught them how to take care of their car.”
BRITTANY: Oh, no.
TOM: And so we came up – now, we came up with a class and it was great. It was well-attended. But it was back in the day when you could name things without being concerned about the political correctness of it.
TOM: And we called it Powder-Puff Mechanics.
TOM: Which I think would get me slapped today.
BRITTANY: Probably, yes.
LESLIE: Brittany, we could slap him over the radio. It’s fine.
BRITTANY: At least by me, I’d slap you.
TOM: So your story is interesting. You really came out of a graphic- and web-design business, so we can see that – where you got kind of your décor chops and decided to really pick up the tools and get to work and share those projects with your readers. How long have you had the blog?
BRITTANY: I’ve been writing the blog for over six years now.
TOM: And that’s a big commitment. How often do you put up new articles? Is this something that our audience would see once a week or so or what?
BRITTANY: No. So, typically, there’s a new tutorial at least three to four times a week.
LESLIE: That’s really great. Do you sort of get the ideas seasonally, as far as what the tutorials are going to be? Or do you follow a theme?
BRITTANY: So, some things follow a theme. Like right now, I definitely have a fall home tour with just decorating tips for fall decorating. But a lot of it is really dictated by my home and what’s going on. So, last week, I had to replace a toilet in our house, not by choice. So, look for that tutorial coming soon.
TOM: There you go. There you go. Now, I guess you, like us, probably follow all these projects around your house. Are you ever concerned you’re going to run out?
BRITTANY: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I mean our house is 30 years old so there’s always something breaking. And then there’s a couple rooms that I’ve repainted twice. But my husband has said, “You really need to get out of our house.” So, I’m currently looking for a house to flip. So that should solve that problem, hopefully.
TOM: Yeah. There you go. We call people like you and ourselves “serial renovators.” We just can’t let it go. We’ve just got to keep going.
BRITTANY: Yeah. Exactly.
TOM: When the house is done, you find another one or you sell the one you have and do whatever it takes just to keep fixing, right?
BRITTANY: Yeah. No, I love that kind of before and after. And the thing that gives me such a kick is when I see what potential there is and I see it in my head and I just want to make it happen.
TOM: We’re talking to Brittany Bailey. She is the author of the Pretty Handy Girl blog and she’s a pretty handy girl herself.
Brittany, tell us about your audience. Who’s reading and what kind of feedback do you get?
BRITTANY: Most of my readers are women from that – at least that I can tell from the comments. Although I’ve caught a few guys reading, because they’ll send me an e-mail privately.
TOM: You caught them, huh?
BRITTANY: So then I’m like, “Ah, I knew you were out there.”
LESLIE: Well, I think it’s interesting. Your step-by-steps are beautifully done. They’re very informative, yet I think the best part about it is it doesn’t sort of dumb down everything. You write in a very smart and creative way that I think is inspiring, which is fantastic.
BRITTANY: Yeah. Honestly, when I started writing them, I realized there’s kind of a deficit of tutorials, really – I don’t want to say “written for women,” because I think anybody can read them. But I think when you go on the web and you read tutorials, a lot of them on the big websites, it’s just a lot of jargon. And I think women – a lot of us are more visual learners, so it’s helpful to have just the step-by-step pictures explaining what each step is. And just by doing that, it really breaks it down for the reader.
TOM: And your projects are both large and small. I asked you to send us a couple of your favorites and I was pretty impressed by this kitchen renovation. It sounds like you really cut your teeth on that one. That was a big project for you, huh?
BRITTANY: Yeah. That was another not-planned project. We had a small leak that turned into a major renovation and we went from having a kitchen to no kitchen in three days. And we had a renovation – we had the restoration team come in, take care of some mold issues. But they were really hounding me to pick fixtures and I just – I don’t work that way. Like I said, I like to see it in my head before I move forward. So my husband, luckily he said, “Hey, listen, if you want to tell them to leave and you want to take over, I’m OK with that.”
And it took me 13 months to build back our kitchen but I wouldn’t have had it any other way, because it really gave me time to think through each thing. And the really funny thing that I – that happened with this is the building inspector, when he came, he was inspecting and he said, “Hey, have you ever thought about becoming a general contractor?” And I said, “Absolutely not.” And I just thought, “That is the craziest idea I have ever heard.” And lo and behold, I actually got my license this January. So I think he kind of planted that seed.
TOM: Now, you also have a new project coming up with the BernzOmatic Company. We’ve done some work with them. It’s a great company. What are you doing?
BRITTANY: I’m not – I can’t tell you yet because we haven’t agreed on it but I’m – I can’t tell you how excited I am. Because when I went to college, I went to art school and I took a metals class. And so we did a lot of soldering and working with fire and I haven’t done that since college. So I’m super excited to work with fire again, do some soldering, really make some cool stuff.
TOM: Yeah. It doesn’t get much better than that, working with fire, right?
BRITTANY: Right. Better than working with mold and dirty toilets.
TOM: That’s right. Brittany Bailey. The website is PrettyHandyGirl.com. Beautiful website. Lots of great info and advice and step-by-step tutorials on a whole host of projects. Encourage you to check it out.
Brittany, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Congratulations on a very successful platform.
BRITTANY: Hey, thanks for having me. It was nice talking to you.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, if you want to rent a home or an apartment, did you know that your possessions may not be covered in the event of a fire or other emergency? We’ll tell you what you need to know to make sure your stuff is protected, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on this busy holiday weekend. What are you working on right now? Perhaps nothing because you’re just exhausted, because it is the holidays. Well, that’s OK, too. But if you’ve got a project that you’d like to get done or maybe a quick fix that’s got to be tackled before the next load of guests show up at your front door, we’re here to help at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jeff in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JEFF: So what we’ve got – we just purchased a home recently and the inspection – we noticed that the tar paper that covers – or there is tar paper that covers the ridge vent. And of course, that should be removed under normal installation.
JEFF: But I’m wondering if I can utilize that throughout the winter, to build heat and preserve heat in the attic, to maybe help warm the living space and then remove that in the spring once the warm weather comes back.
TOM: Depends on whether or not you want your insulation to work well or not, Jeff. Because the ridge vent is designed to help vent moisture out of that attic space and make the insulation more effective. So, it’s designed – in a perfectly insulated home, the insulation layer is at that ceiling level, right? And above that, it should be ambient. In other words, the attic should be the same temperature as the outside. So your attic is not designed to hold heat in. Not this type of installation. There’s another type that is. But this particular type is not.
So I would recommend that you grab a utility knife. And can you reach that – the underside of the ridge from the attic?
JEFF: I can. It really wouldn’t be a big task at all to get it removed. It was actually when I was about to address that that I thought, “Wait a second, I might be able to utilize this heat over the winter.”
TOM: Yeah. You have other vents in the roof, as well. You may have gable vents or soffit vents, so you’re not really changing the dynamic of the ventilation in the attic. But no, I would recommend that you cut that tar paper out.
That’s actually, shockingly, not that uncommon. What happens is the roofers put tar paper across the entire roof, put the shingles up and then the guy – the last guy that puts that ridge vent on top of that ridge is supposed to cut out the tar paper. But if he was – if he didn’t go to ridge-vent class that day, he missed that step and he leaves the tar paper in place. And then, of course, it blocks the vent and then it just doesn’t work.
So, the reason I said it impacts your insulation is because the insulation, if it gets damp, it’s not effective. So, fresh air should be pushing in the soffit vents underneath the roof sheathing and out the ridge. That keeps everything nice and dry. So go ahead and cut that out and that’s the way you should be all winter long and thereafter.
JEFF: Perfect. I appreciate the help. I appreciate the advice.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Jeff. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Good questions from Jeff in Georgia.
LESLIE: Well, from cooking to space heaters, winter, it turns out, is the time of year when fire is the most likely to break out in your home. Now, prevention is the first priority. But if a blaze does break out in your space, you want to be sure you have insurance you need to cover the belongings that are damaged and ruined.
TOM: That’s right. Now, if you own your own home, most homeowner’s policies cover this. But if you rent your home or if you rent an apartment, there’s a really good chance that your belongings are not covered by your landlord’s insurance policy. That policy is going to cover the landlord and the building and the plumbing and the cabinets and the carpet and stuff like that. But it’s not going to cover your stuff, which is why renters need to have their own tenant-contents insurance to take care of that.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, the great thing about contents insurance is that it’s going to cover more than just fire damage. Most of these policies will protect your possessions against 16 different causes. And they’re going to range from the usual suspects, like fire to theft, to even the unlikely catastrophes like explosions.
TOM: Yep. And the best news, renter’s content insurance is inexpensive. It can be purchased for as little as about 10 bucks a month, which is a very small price to pay for that peace of mind. So, think about it, check it out. If you rent, you may not be covered but it’s easy to fix that with renter’s insurance.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to South Carolina where Caroline is on the phone with a question about oak flooring. What can we do for you today?
CAROLINE: I have an old house built in 1940. Hardwood floors. And I’ve got two almost holes near the living-room door. And on into the hallway here, where each room meets – the hallway is the center – I have this iron grate. It’s about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long and that’s where the return is for the heating and air-conditioning. And the wood seems to be caving a little bit around that. And I was wondering, can he fix that back as good as it – I mean is it possible to fix that back as good as it was the way they built it in 1940? Or will there be a problem around the return?
TOM: Are you still using that return? Is that still an active part of your heating-and-cooling system?
CAROLINE: It is.
TOM: So, yeah. Certainly, when you have worn-out oak floorboards, sometimes they’ll wear through or they’ll become insect-damaged. They absolutely can be rebuilt the same way they were when they were originally installed. It’s a bit of a tricky carpentry job but it’s not too terribly difficult.
What the contractor has to do is he’ll cut out the old board. Usually, he’ll use a circular saw, he’ll plunge-cut down the middle and then use a chisel to kind of break it out. And then putting the new board in is a bit tricky, especially if it’s tongue-and-groove, which most of them are. Because what you have to do is you have to cut the back of the groove piece off so that you can sort of put it in and overlap the older piece with that. Because you can’t use one that’s a full groove because, obviously, you can’t get it in there. It’s like trying to put in a puzzle piece. But you cut the back of the groove side off and then it becomes sort of a lap joint, you drop the new board in.
Now, if there’s one tricky part, it’s really just in the finishing. I had a floor that was much like that where we had an old floor furnace that took up a big space in the middle of the room. And so we were able to frame that out and actually put new hardwood floor in there and sort of feather it, like almost like a finger joint with the original floor. The floors were different colors for a while because they had a natural finish on it. But over the course of about the next year, it sort of faded and darkened and then blended and now you could never tell the difference between the repair and – the new wood that was repaired and the old wood that was there existing.
CAROLINE: OK. I need to have my house checked for termites, I think.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, holiday décor is in full swing right now. And if you’re ready to deck the halls, we’ve got a review of the coolest décor for the season, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, this is the time of year that brings out the festive side in all of us. And one of the fun things that we get to do, as hosts, is go to previews where we get to see products before they’re on the store shelves. Got a chance to do that with the folks at The Home Depot a few months ago. And now it’s kind of fun because we’re seeing all that product on the store shelves. And I’ve got to tell you, there’s a lot of really beautiful ways to decorate your home for this holiday season, both inside and out.
LESLIE: You know, I think one of my favorite trends that we saw at the launch and what we’re seeing every season and especially this season is the idea of just celebrating winter itself. So, you’re not committing to any holiday there. And the best way to really just enjoy what winter has to offer is to embrace greenery and lighting. And that’s really the easiest way to celebrate this time of year. Luckily, for all of us, evergreen really is in abundance in both natural and artificial options.
Now, artificial wreaths, garlands and swags every year become more and more foolproof. And they’re made even more user-friendly by arriving pre-lit.
TOM: Isn’t that cool?
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? It really makes things effortless. And I think that’s the part that makes holiday decorating challenging for a lot of people is the effort that you sometimes have to put in to achieve that magazine-ready look. And it’s so much more easily achievable when the items do arrive pre-lit.
TOM: Now, I love garlands. They really give you that sort of instant feeling of the season. And for a neutral evergreen feel, the National Tree Company has a pre-lit Douglas-fir garland that looks every bit the part. It’s really stunning. Multiple garlands can be strung together and really give you that sort of full décor plan. And I like to also have maybe a bit of evergreen on the mantel. And so many of us have adopted that sort of above-the-mantel TV look. So we really have easy access to outlets.
And if you’ve got hard-to-reach locations that you really want to dress up, not an issue because the battery-operated garlands and the swag at The Home Depot are just stunning. The battery power is perfect for, say, a staircase. Just any place that you really feel needs to be dressed but you just can’t reach the outlet, try the battery-powered. I mean with the LED technology today, it’s amazing how long those lights will last. Definitely, you’ll probably not even go through a set of batteries for the full season.
LESLIE: Yeah. We actually saw a Norwood brand fir 9-foot garland that’s battery-operated. And the coolest part about having an LED feature is that you got to select dual color. So you could go from a clear light to a color light just with the flip of a switch.
Now, I always like to start with a simple, undecorated garland, pre-lit. Choose a garland or a wreath or a swag that’s undecorated and this is going to allow you to modify your décor from season to season. One year you celebrate a winter season just with greenery, lighting and maybe hints of snow and sparkle. If you add in a woodland friend, you can really set a whimsical tone that’s going to make all of your guests so happy. And when stored properly, all of your greenery will last season after season.
TOM: Yeah. Good point. And next season, maybe you can pick up some colorful ornaments and decorative pics. You can really go with any color palette you choose. I love the mixed-metal look. It’s so hot right now: mercury, glass and copper. They kind of make for that antique sort of glisten that’s really, really stunning. So, lots of options, lots of technology, lots of beautiful ways to decorate your home for the holiday. Check them all out at The Home Depot.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, coming up next time on the program, if you ever needed to buy a new heating or cooling system, you might have found that all the lingo that’s used in that industry makes it impossible to figure out the best way to go. It’s like alphabet soup: HVAC, BTUs, you name it. We’re going to help sort out what you need to know to make an intelligent choice when you’re shopping for your new HVAC system, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2016 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.)