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: What are you working on this beautiful fall weekend? Hey, Halloween is just a week away. Have you been decorating your house? Are all those lights and pumpkins exactly where you need them to be? Hey, whatever project is on your to-do list, I’ve got a deal for you: you can put it on ours. How about that? Pick up the phone and call us, right now, with your home improvement or décor question to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post it online to the Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up this hour, you know the old saying “a rolling stone gathers no moss?” Well, that’s true. But a roof, on the other hand, pretty much gathers everything that hits it. So, coming up, we’re going to share some tips on how to clean your roof of moss, once and for all, without damaging the shingles in the process.
LESLIE: And also ahead, if you’ve enjoyed beautiful roses around your yard through the warm months of the year, there are a few things that you need to do, right now, to make sure that they’re going to come back just as strong next spring. We’ll share those tips, just ahead.
TOM: Plus, as the chilly drafts start to find their way into your home, we’ll have tips on the best window coverings to help you warm up your windows, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Plus, if you call in your question now to 888-MONEY-PIT or post it to The Money Pit Community page, we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat for the Mr Beams Home Safety and Security Lighting Bundle, which will for sure brighten your day.
TOM: Yep. It includes the Security Light, the 360XT LED Spotlight and the very cool UltraBright Ceiling Light, which I often rely on to choose the appropriate colors for my wardrobe every day because my closet’s very dark.
It’s a package worth 109 bucks so call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Mary from Massachusetts is on the line and needs some help with finishing a project. What can we do for you?
MARY: Well, I live in a very old home. And the front – I have double front doors that are made of walnut. They’re very heavy and very thick but somewhere along the line, somebody put some kind of finish on them. So now they’re peeling. They face the east, so they get a – I mean the west. So they get a lot of summer – hot sun. And I just don’t know how to get everything off and then refinish them.
TOM: So, what are the doors made out of? Are they wood doors?
MARY: Oh, yes. They’re solid walnut. And they’re about an inch-and-a-half thick.
TOM: OK. And the finish that’s on it, is it a clear, like a urethane-type finish that’s peeling?
MARY: Yes. It looks like that. And then there’s some kind of stain on the door that turns really dark, dark wood.
TOM: OK. So, listen, first of all, congratulations on having a really beautiful set of doors. Walnut doors are very rare and that’s terrific. So they’re worth putting the time into it and time you will need for this project, Mary.
What you need to do is you need to strip all that old finish off. What I would do is I would take the doors off of the hinges, I’d lay them on a couple of sawhorses. I’d have a vibrating sander. I would just start to sand that finish away and get all of that down to raw wood. It is totally worth it because you can’t put, you know, good finish over bad finish. You’ve got to get down to that wood.
Now, once you’re down to the wood, since it’s a darker wood, you may or may not want to stain it. If it turns out that there – maybe there’s some unevenness in the coloring of the wood, you could think about adding a stain to try to sort of blend it all in. And then on top of that, you’re going to put a new finish.
Now, since these doors face the sun, what I would use is I would use a marine varnish on that. And the key difference with marine varnish is it has exceptionally high UV protection. So it’s going to stand up to that UV radiation from the sun and not peel off quite as easily as just any other exterior UV would. So, strip it down to the raw wood, stain it as needed and then refinish it with a marine varnish. I would use a satin, not a gloss, because it’ll make the doors look a lot nicer. And then just enjoy them. If you do this, even though it’s going to take you a long time, it’s going to last for years to come.
Now, look, it’s also not the kind of project you can bang out in an afternoon. So, this may be a situation where you pop the door off the hinges, which is pretty easy to do, you get it out on the sawhorse, you do as much as you can for the day, you put the door back on the hinges and you close it in whatever shape it’s in at that moment. And then the next time you have time to do this, you take the door off and continue. So it can just kind of continue on.
I don’t want you to try to do this vertically. It’s going to make you much more tired. Believe me, gravity plays a big part in being able to do this well. And if it’s laid out flat on a couple of sawhorses in a shady area, it’s just going to be a lot easier for you to work on it.
MARY: OK. Just one other quick question: what weight of sandpaper do you use on the vibrating sander?
TOM: That’s a great question. It depends on kind of how it behaves, so to speak, when you start to use it. But I would start with a medium grit. So that’s going to be around 100 to 125, maybe 150. The thing is if you go too fine to start it, you might find that the paper clogs up.
There’s also a type of paper that’s available that looks more like screening or netting. And when you’re working with finishes, that type of material tends to clog less. So if you’re in the home center aisle and you see that as an option, that’s something that you might want to give it a try until you find the paper that works the best.
Try not to put too much pressure on it. You don’t want to – if you lean in and push hard down on it and not let the machine do its work, what’ll happen is some of that old finish can heat up, it’ll kind of gunk up the paper and ruin it and you’ll just have to get a new piece and continue. But you’re going – it’s going to take you a while and you’re going to have to do a lot of handwork, as well.
And speaking of which, if you have sort of nooks and crannies, if you have sort of moldings in this door that you have to get into, there are sanding sponges that companies like 3M make. I also see these in the home center paint aisle at Home Depot. And these sanding sponges – I really like them because they’re squishy but they’re abrasive. So you can actually crush it up against that uneven molding, press it in there, work it up and down and it does a good job, OK?
MARY: Oh, OK. Because there are – there is molding in it. They’re not even, flush doors.
TOM: Yeah. You’ll find that sanding sponge really handy.
MARY: OK. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate your help.
TOM: Good luck, Mary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call with your question, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
TOM: Just ahead, if you’ve enjoyed beautiful roses around your yard this past spring and summer, there are a few things you need to do, right now, to make sure they’ll come back just as strong next spring. We’ll share those tips, after this.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
TOM: And here’s a great reason to reach out by phone or by posting your question to The Money Pit’s community, because we are giving away the Mr Beams Home Safety and Home Security Lighting Bundle, which includes the Security Light, the LED Spotlight and the very cool UltraBright Ceiling Light. That is a package worth about 110 bucks.
And I’ve got to tell you about this UltraBright Ceiling Light, because we actually use this in our home. And it is really, really bright. It gives you 300 lumens of light and that’s enough to kind of light a closet or a shower or a shed or a pantry, any place that you just don’t have enough light to get to. It’s got a cool diffuser that basically spreads the light so it covers a wide area of about 300 square feet. And it’s battery-powered, so you get about 1 year of light if it comes on 8 to 10 times a day, which is actually a lot more than it comes on in my house. The batteries will last for a full year.
So that’s just one of the items that we’re giving away this hour with the Mr Beams Safety and Security Lighting Bundle. Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online sometime before Monday. If you do it before Monday, you’ll be eligible for this drawing. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Randall in Texas is on the line and has a question for us. How can we help you today?
RANDALL: Yes, I had a question about a bathroom vent that’s on a second floor.
RANDALL: And the duct to it is vented up into the attic but it’s not going out through the roof. It’s just kind of up there in the attic. And of course, the roof has ridge vents and everything. And one of the questions that I had – would that pass an inspection if I’m going to sell the house?
TOM: Right. So, basically, your bathroom vent – your plumbing vent – is terminating in the attic. It does not go through the roof to the exterior. Is that correct?
RANDALL: Not the plumbing vent. The exhaust vent.
TOM: Oh, the exhaust vent for the bathroom. OK. Alright.
TOM: So, the answer to your question is no. It is not done correctly. And the reason for that is because when you take all that warm, moist air that accumulates in the bathroom from bathing and you vent it up into the attic, the first thing it’s going to do is condense on the underside of the coldest part, which is the roof sheathing.
Now, a couple of things can happen when that occurs. In the wintertime, that condensation will be drippy and it will get down in the insulation. And when the insulation gets damp, it doesn’t insulate nearly as well. Secondly, most of the year, it’ll keep that lumber and that sheathing wet and damp. And if that wood stays over about 25-percent wet, it starts to delaminate and very often, you’ll see mold and plywood deterioration because a bath was not properly ventilated.
The solution is pretty easy, though. You’re going to want to add a duct from that vent fan to the exterior in the shortest way possible. But I would definitely do that to avoid dumping all that moist air into the attic. That’s the right way to fix that, OK?
RANDALL: OK. So I need a roofer so he can cut the roof and …
TOM: You know, you don’t necessarily need a roofer. A carpenter could do this. Go to HomeAdvisor.com and look for a carpenter or a handyman or a roofer. And read the reviews, because they’re – all of the guys on that site are thoroughly reviewed. And this is exactly what I would do if I was going to find – need to find somebody in my area. In fact, I have done it this way. And you’ll find a roofer or a carpenter or a handyman that can do this job.
It’s a very small project. It’s very easy, very straightforward. And that would be the best way to get it accomplished, OK?
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us, Randall, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, roses are so beautiful but if you want them to come back next spring just as strong, you’ve got to prepare them for their dormant period, right now, by all of this cool weather that we’re dealing with in the fall. So here’s what you’ve got to do.
First of all, you need to remove all the old mulch from underneath and around that rose bush itself. The reason here is that it could contain insect eggs or any other diseased materials just from the falling leaves. Then, right before the first really cold frost, you want to spread fresh mulch all around the base of the plant and extend out about as wide as the branches of that rose bush go themselves. Then water those roses thoroughly, especially if the summer has been dry. You want to really give them a good watering.
TOM: Now, once the ground freezes, it’s time to actually add more mulch. And you want to run it about a foot up the base of the plant. The purpose is is that it insulates the soil and it helps maintain an even temperature, especially important if you don’t have snow cover that comes in consistently, which will also protect the plants.
Now, you can also add more mulch after every freeze. Or a little trick of the trade: you can drop a tube over the top of the plant – like one of those solid tubes, for example – and then fill that up with mulch and leave it just that way to protect your plant until the ground thaws in the spring. You can pull it off, get rid of all that old mulch again, put in some fresh mulch, a bit of fertilizer and you are good to go.
LESLIE: Sam in South Carolina has a question about a counter. What can we do for you?
SAM: I have a countertop that – I guess it’s Formica on wood. And it comes up at the back, kind of rolls like maybe it’s a cove. Anyway, it rolls. It’s about 3½ inches up the wall. And then it rolls on the edge, too. I’m thinking Formica on wood? It was constructed in maybe ‘80.
My question is – it expands and contracts away from this wall during different cycles of winter/summer and just a little bit. It pulls away from the wall and I wondered – I wanted – always wanted to put, oh, glass or tile as a backsplash up from it. But as it expands and contracts, there’s no way to seal it next to the wall.
TOM: So, first of all, you’re talking about something that’s called a “post-formed countertop,” with that sort of rounded edge that sort of goes up and over. Now, what you can do is you can put in what’s called a “backer rod,” which is like a foam tube that goes right – push it down behind the countertop in that space. That kind of takes up the gap. And then you could use a flowable caulk on top of that, which would stick to the wall and the countertop. And it would expand and contract as the house moved.
But I do like your idea of the backsplash and that sounds like a perfect application for that.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the small, glass tiles really do look great on a backsplash. And they’re really easy to install as a do-it-yourselfer, because there’s not a lot of cutting or snipping or shaping of tile to make it work for the puzzle that becomes the backsplash.
SAM: Fantastic. Now what did you say to put in there?
TOM: So you want to use – there’s a foam rod called a “backer rod.” It’s like a thin foam tube that you’ll find at home centers. And you kind of want to fill that up. Because if you just caulk the caulk, it’s going to sort of fall down into that big gap. So you want to stuff something in there so the caulk sort of sits on top. And then you push it down just right below the surface and then you caulk over that.
SAM: Great. OK. That sounds like a perfect solution. I really appreciate that and I’m looking forward to having it just much more attractive.
LESLIE: Hezekiah in Maryland, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
HEZEKIAH: I have a crawlspace. It’s about 4 foot high. And I had – always have this moisture problem inside the house. I mean the house fogs up, the windows fog up really bad. And after doing some research, I don’t know – I was assuming that it was my crawlspace was doing that. So I went out and bought those vapor barriers to put underneath there but I came up with this problem where I don’t know how to secure it to the wall or how far up the wall I should put it. Because I don’t really want to punch any more holes in that wall.
TOM: Here’s the thing. There’s a lot of reasons that you may have high humidity in the house. What I would suggest you do is to get a very thick Visqueen vapor barrier, lay it edge to edge in the crawlspace and let it overlap about 4 feet. I wouldn’t worry so much about sealing it against the wall. Yeah, it’ll make it a little bit better but I think we can – it’ll probably do an amazing job just by itself.
But you don’t want to stop there. You want to address the reason that the crawlspace is so damp and that’s outside. Typically, what happens is if the grade around the yard – especially right near the house, the first 4 to 6 feet – is flat, you’ll have a lot of water that will soak into that soil and work its way into the crawlspace.
The other thing is if your gutters are clogged or if your downspouts are not extended away from the walls – typically, downspouts will dump about a foot or two away from a foundation wall and that’s kind of silly because the water just does a U-turn and runs right back under the house. But if you were to extend those downspouts, make sure the gutters are nice and clean and regrade the soil at the perimeter so that it slopes away, all of those things will reduce the amount of moisture that gets into the crawlspace and heads up into the house. Because the vapor will move up through the floor structure and get in the rest of the house.
And then in the house, you could address ventilation in the attic by adding a ridge vent and a soffit vent. And that will kind of help flush it out. And essentially, you’ll have a system that will move that moisture right through.
But I wouldn’t get too hung up on how to attach that plastic to the walls. I would just lay it down as best you can, with as few seams as possible, and then improve the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter. And I think you’ll see a big difference just with those couple of things.
HEZEKIAH: Oh, that sounds like a better idea than I had. And I was just trying to rack my brain figuring out how to secure it to the wall and how far up the wall I should go. But I think I’d try what you said now and see if that works.
TOM: I’ll give you one other trick and that is that if it turns out you still have a lot of humidity in the crawlspace, there is a type of vent fan that’s designed to work in a crawlspace. It actually fits in the space of a typical crawlspace vent. And you can get these fans and have them hooked up to a humidistat, which is a humidity-sensing switch. And then when the humidity gets high in the crawlspace, the fan comes on and helps to pull in some dry air from the outside.
HEZEKIAH: Oh, wow.
TOM: I would do that after you do everything else we’re talking about. But that’s just one other tip that you might be able to use, OK?
HEZEKIAH: Is there any specific place you can get the humidistat and that vent fan from?
TOM: Well, the vent fans, you could find them online and they come with humidistats or you can order it, OK? It’s kind of like the same kind of switch you might have for an attic fan – which I don’t recommend, by the way – but it’s humidity-based instead of temperature-based.
HEZEKIAH: Oh, OK. Alright. Thank you, thank you.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Just ahead, as the old saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. But a roof, on the other hand, pretty much gathers everything. Am I right?
LESLIE: Coming up – I mean truly. Coming up, Tommy Silva from This Old House will be stopping by with tips on how to clean your roof of moss, once and for all, without damaging those shingles.
TOM: And today’s edition of This Old House on The Money Pit is presented by Healthful Home. Detect the worst molds with the 5-Minute Mold Test Kit and then treat mold, bacteria and airborne allergens with the Fog-U Mold Aerosol. Find innovative Healthful Home solutions, exclusively at Ace Hardware or HealthfulHome.com.
JOE: Hi, this is Joe Namath. And if you want to move the ball on your home improvement projects, listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Whether you are buying, selling or just enjoying your home, we are here for you every step of the way. Call in your home improvement or your décor question, right now, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
LESLIE: Russell in Rhode Island is on the line and he’s having some trouble finding the correct hardware for doors and drawers. What is going on?
RUSSELL: Drawer knobs and hardware that we’re looking to replace.
TOM: So we’re looking for kitchen cabinets?
RUSSELL: Yes, yeah.
LESLIE: Are you trying to match something or you want all brand new?
RUSSELL: We would be replacing everything.
LESLIE: I think that’s pretty good.
TOM: Yeah. It’s a pretty straightforward project. Are these cabinets pretty old?
RUSSELL: No, no. It’s a 3-inch center on the hardware. And we’ve been around to a couple of different places and not really liking what we see.
TOM: There are a lot of great cabinet-hardware websites where you could find just an incredible variety of products out there.
RUSSELL: Oh, OK.
TOM: You can pretty much find whatever you want. So, you know, you could start with the basics like Home Depot but then you have a lot of specialty shops. There’s a website called Knobs4Less.com. There’s one called My Knobs, a site called Signature Hardware.
TOM: And you can see lots of photos and you can see the measurements – the center-by-center measurements – on these handles and …
LESLIE: That’s the trick. You want to make sure you match it because, otherwise, you’re going to be trying to cover up holes and repair things.
TOM: Right. Yeah.
RUSSELL: Right, right. Yep, exactly.
TOM: And check the depth of the screws to make sure that they’re going to be thick enough for your doors.
RUSSELL: Right. OK.
TOM: It really shouldn’t be difficult. It’s true there are fairly limited styles and designs when you go to the home centers, because they have to sell to the mass market. But there’s a lot of really stepped-up hardware out there online these days.
RUSSELL: Alright. Cool. Excellent.
TOM: Even Restoration Hardware, too, I think has a good selection.
LESLIE: Yeah. Restoration Hardware has beautiful pieces.
RUSSELL: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’d forgotten about them, yep.
LESLIE: But I also really love Anthropologie. Like if you’re looking – which is a woman’s clothing store. But if you’re looking for something that’s a little quirky and maybe has an interesting feel to it, I always check them out, too.
RUSSELL: Anthropologie? OK.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s with an i-e at the end.
RUSSELL: Yep, OK. Excellent. Alright. Well, thank you, folks, and love the show.
TOM: Well, thank you. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, as the saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. But a roof, especially one that doesn’t get much sun, sure can. Moss on the roof isn’t going to cause much harm but it can look pretty ugly.
TOM: Definitely. And there are ways to clean the roof and things you can do to keep that moss from coming back. Here with some ideas on how to do just that is This Old House general contractor, Tom Silva.
TOM SILVA: Well, thank you. It’s nice to be here.
TOM: You know, we get a lot of calls and everyone calls that stuff on the roof that’s green and black and ugly “mold.” But it’s not always mold; in some cases, it’s moss or other things, right?
TOM SILVA: Right. It’s also – lichen is another word for it, too.
TOM: Now, that attaches to the shingles. Why does – why is a shingle surface so attractive to the moss and the lichen and the algae?
TOM SILVA: Since we started using fire-rated shingles, there’s actually a ceramic crystal in the shingle that the moss, the mold or the lichen attach themselves to.
TOM: Oh, interesting. So it’s not really interested in the asphalt qualities of it; it’s really that ceramic coating that it’s going after.
TOM SILVA: Exactly, exactly.
TOM: Now, is that why this seems to be more of a problem in the last 10 to 20 years than ever before?
TOM SILVA: You hit it right on. It started about 20 years ago, when we started using what they call “Class A shingles.”
LESLIE: So now, since this mold or moss or whatever it is is attaching itself to this fire coating – fireproof coating – when you do remove it, are you damaging or lessening the effect of the fireproof coating?
TOM SILVA: Not generally but it really depends on how you remove it.
TOM: So what’s your secret solution?
TOM SILVA: Well, my secret solution is bleach and water.
TOM SILVA: But you’ve got to remember, bleach is going to destroy your clothes and anything else it touches, so you want to protect yourself and the surroundings, like your plants. You want to wet them down first before you do anything and even cover them with plastic.
And the solution that I like is about 50/50.
TOM SILVA: So it’s strong.
LESLIE: And you have to be really careful because it’s super-slippery on that surface.
TOM SILVA: The moss up on that roof can be like ice, so you don’t want to step on it. And when you wet it down with the bleach-and-water, it’s really slippery.
TOM: Now, if you don’t want to use bleach, are there any less-damaging potential solutions that you can use?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, there’s some biodegradable chemicals out there that do a great job.
LESLIE: Now, it always seems like it comes down to a maintenance issue. Is there anything or any preventative steps that you can take to sort of lesson the work you’ll have to do down the road?
TOM SILVA: Sure. There are – right above the area that you get the moss, the lichen or the mold, you can actually attach – to the underside of the tab of the shingle, exposing about 2 inches to the weather – they call “zinc strips.”
TOM: OK. So this kind of looks like a piece of flashing and you slip it up underneath the shingle, let a little bit hang down and it’s made of zinc?
TOM SILVA: Right. Right. It comes in rolls or strips.
TOM: Now, why is zinc the important metal here? What does it do?
TOM SILVA: Well, basically, when it rains, the rain collects the particulates off of the zinc and it runs down the roof and it kills the moss or mold or mildew. It doesn’t like it; it won’t grow there. It says, “I don’t want to be here.” So, your roof stays clean.
TOM: So it’s sort of a natural mildicide, in a way.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, absolutely.
TOM: Now, what about if you have – we always find that this is worse on homes that have a lot of shade. Is it a good idea to kind of look at the tree-scape around the house, to see if you can get a little more sunlight there, if it’s possible?
TOM SILVA: If you can prune out the trees and get a little bit of light on that roof, it definitely helps. You notice that you always get it on one side of the roof and not on the other side.
LESLIE: All of this work that we’re doing to remove the algae or the moss or the mildew, it’s not going to hurt the roof shingles in any way, shape or form?
TOM SILVA: Well, not by removing it with the water or chemicals. You don’t want to get up there and scrape it because the scraping will definitely damage the shingles.
TOM: Now, Tom, the moss on the roof, it looks horrible but does it ever get to a point where it really damages the shingles?
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. It can not only damage the shingles, it shortens the lifetime of the shingles. But it can get into the roof because it’s holding the shingles and keeping them wet so much, it’ll damage the substrate below. And eventually, it could rot the roof.
TOM: So definitely an important home maintenance project. Tom Silva, the general contractor from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: It’s my pleasure.
TOM: And for more great tips just like that, including a video that will teach you how to keep your roof clean, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And make sure you watch Tommy and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.
Just ahead, as the chilly drafts start to find their way into your home, we’re going to have some tips on the best window coverings to help you warm up your windows, after this.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, how are the Halloween decorations looking over there at the Segrete household, Leslie?
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness, so good. And so far, the squirrels have not eaten my pumpkins. I repeat – as I knock on wood, also – the squirrels have not eaten the pumpkins. And you know what the trick is, Tom?
LESLIE: I watered down cayenne pepper and sprayed it all over the pumpkins.
TOM: Oh, that makes sense. I need to do that with my Indian corn. I like to hang the Indian corn around but the squirrels will eat that.
LESLIE: Oh, they eat everything.
TOM: That’s a great idea. So, cayenne pepper watered down. Spray it on your corn, spray it on your pumpkins and keep those squirrels away.
LESLIE: So far, they hate it. Who knows? Maybe they will get a taste for spicy foods. But as of now, we’re good.
TOM: Well, no tricks here, only treats. We’ve got great advice for your next home improvement project. So call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
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So enter at MoneyPit.com and check this out. The way it works is once you enter, if you share the sweeps – and by that I mean post it on your Facebook page, share it with your friends on Instagram, whatever – however you do it, we’re going to give you a URL. When you enter, you post that very tiny URL that is your custom entry link. Anybody who enters with that link, guess what? You get five bonus entries on top of the one that you did yourself.
LESLIE: That’s awesome.
TOM: So I’m telling you, you will really get a lot of entries into this contest. We’ve got a lot of prizes. Forty prizes going out. Good chance that you’re going to win something compared to a lot of sweeps that we see out there. So go ahead and enter today, right now, at MoneyPit.com. You will love it.
LESLIE: Brenda in Michigan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRENDA: Yes, hi. We were just wondering – we have a basement that we’d like to remodel. And the only problem is that, right now, it currently has a glued-on carpet. It has paneling in the walls. And we had a termite problem. So we want to know: what would you put for – once we gut everything all out, because the termite problem has been corrected, what kind of walling material could you use that would be anti-termite, anti-mold-resistant and moisture? And it’s against a block basement. What would you recommend?
TOM: So, first of all, what you would do is you would frame the wall out away from the block wall. You don’t want to attach anything directly to the block wall. Because you need to have sort of an air space between the wall and the concrete block so that it can breathe. If there’s moisture that gets into the wall, it can evaporate.
In terms of what kinds of materials you use, you’re going to use either steel framing or you’re going to use a pressure-treated sill plate. That’s the bottom piece of wood – the bottom 2×4 – and then typical traditional 2x4s on top of that.
In terms of the wall covering, there’s a type of drywall called DensArmor, which is fiberglass-faced as opposed to paper-faced. And that’s a good option for a basement because this way, that paper face can’t feed a mold problem.
In terms of the termites, if the home was properly treated, you shouldn’t have to worry about those. It’s not like you need to worry about building a termite-proof basement down there. The termite-proofing is the application of the right pesticides that keep them at bay. Typically, today they use a type of pesticide that’s called an “undetectable pesticide.” It goes in the soil, at the foundation perimeter. As the termites pass through that, as they go to the nest, they pick it up and spread it to the rest of the insects in the nest, kind of like germ warfare. And that wipes out the whole colony.
And those treatments are effective for 10 years-plus. So if it was done, you shouldn’t have to worry about that. Just concentrate now on the best materials for finishing that basement.
BRENDA: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
LESLIE: Well, with fall comes the start of the season of those chilly drafts, right?
LESLIE: Not necessarily, guys. You don’t have to have the drafts. Because if you’ve got good, energy-efficient windows, you can obviously cut down those drafts. But for those that sneak through, your window coverings, they really can play a key role in making your house a lot more comfortable.
TOM: Yeah, that’s interesting. And here’s why: because not only do you feel cold because outside air is sneaking in, sometimes what most people call a “draft,” Leslie, is actually just caused by convection. What happens is that warm air inside your house hits that cold glass of the window. And then, when it’s chilled, it sort of falls downward and guess what? If you’re sitting under that window, with your easy chair or in the couch, that’s going to cause what many folks think are drafts. And what they normally do is head over to the thermostat and kick it up. But the truth is that if you improve your window coverings, you may not have to do that.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? One of the best solutions out there is actually one of the simplest. And they can be pretty affordable, depending on the kind you get. I’m talking about cellular shades.
Now, as it gets colder, these unique, pocketed shades – it’s the shade that kind of looks like an accordion or a honeycomb, whatever you want to call it – those pocketed shades help you to insulate the house because it traps that frosty air at the window.
Now, you can choose between a single, double or triple cell. Single would just be one honeycomb. Obviously two, then three when you get to the triple. And which one you pick will bring that level of insulation for your home.
Now, in the summer, those same shades will cut back on the heat that gets into your house by almost half, so it’s a win-win year-round.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. And you can also combine the cellular shades with drapes or curtains and that’ll give you even a better barrier against that chill. And remember, the warm sun is going to shine in on the south and the west. So when it comes to adding layers, if you had to decide between all the windows in your house, the north and the east windows are the priority. They are going to be the coldest.
So, give it a shot. I think you’ll be very surprised with how much warmer you will feel once you have the right kinds of shades on those windows.
LESLIE: Hey, are you tired of waiting for hot water to find its way to your tap for your morning shower? Well, we’re going to explore the solutions, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Post your question, right now, to The Money Pit’s Community page or call us at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com, where you can find top-rated home pros you can trust.
LESLIE: And also, remember to post your question at MoneyPit.com. And I’ve got one here from Larry in Connecticut who writes: “I need to replace two 14-year-old water heaters in my attic. I want to minimize wait time for hot water on the far side of the house. Should I use a circulating pump or a tankless water heater?”
TOM: Yeah, that’s a great question. And you really need to think about how much time and water is wasted every time you do this, because you’re waiting for that water to make the trip from wherever the water heater is all the way over to – it’s usually your master bath, right? Because that’s the first place you step into in the morning and your shower you use.
TOM: And you’re just waiting for it to warm up because you want to get woken up gently, not with a cold-water shock. So, that takes a while and it wastes a lot of water and it can waste a lot of energy.
LESLIE: That’s true.
TOM: You basically have two solutions. Now, first, there’s a product at The Home Depot that’s called the Watts Hot-Water Recirculating System. And it’s pretty cool because it provides instant hot water pretty much to every faucet or shower in the house when you need it. It’s very easy to install. Not very expensive and it’s not going to waste a lot of energy. Pretty innovative product there, the Watts System. Take a look at that. It’s at Home Depot or at HomeDepot.com.
And the other way to go is to continue to have two water heaters but go tankless and then relocate them closer to the actual bathrooms or kitchens or whatever that they serve. And because tankless water heaters – you mentioned yours is in the attic. I’m kind of wondering why that is. You would need – like if you had a Cape, I can see that you might need the full height of the roof structure to hold a traditional tank water heater.
But for tankless, they’re really small. They’re about a quarter to a third of the size of a traditional water heater, so you can pretty much squeeze them into a closet or any kind of nook or cranny or even the attic but use a lot less space. And you can put them closer to the source. The downside is, of course, it’s going to be a lot more expensive to buy two tankless water heaters.
But those are your options. It is a physical problem of getting the machine that makes the water warm close to the showers where you use it. And if you can get that water heater close, you’re not going to have to wait as long. Or you could go with a recirculating system and have it be warm all the time.
And by the way, those recirculating systems work on timers. So, they don’t circulate hot water 24-7. You might set it to come on for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening, for example.
LESLIE: Alright. And all of that, bottom line, gets you some more hot water.
Now, Joanne in Illinois also has a bathroom question. None of her bathrooms have exhaust fans and she wants to put up crown molding but is worried about the moisture.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s a good question. There are molding products that are not wood. There’s one that’s foam that’s called Easy Crown Molding. It works very well. It’s not affected by moisture because it’s foam. It’s easy to cut. And they actually use a peel-and-stick system to adhere it to the wall. So not only does it make it easy to make the fancy crown-molding inside corner joints, the peel-and-stick, you can’t beat that. So a really easy system to use. I think the website is EasyCrownMolding.com. Check it out. I think that might be the solution to your problem, Joanne.
LESLIE: And you know what, Joanne? You really could benefit from an exhaust fan in the bath. If you’re going to do some work, see how much it is to put one in. It shouldn’t be too crazy.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this beautiful fall, almost-Halloween weekend with us. We hope that all of the ghosts and goblins are decorating your house and making it very, very fun for next week’s festivities, especially if you’ve got kids.
And remember, we don’t want to play any tricks on you when it comes to home improvement. Only treats here. So you have a question, you have a problem, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. And remember, you can also enter this week The Money Pit’s Weekend Warrior Sweepstakes and maybe also win a bunch of tools for your next home improvement project.
That’s all for us. 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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(Copyright 2017 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.)