TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I am Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here for you on this beautiful September day. We’re here to help you with your home improvement projects, your décor dilemmas. Whether you’re taking on a remodeling project or a little repair, give us a call right now. We’d love to hear about it and help you get the job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Hey, coming up this hour – you know, when you say an appliance sucks, Leslie, it’s usually a bad thing, except if you’re talking about a vacuum cleaner. Because there, you really want it to suck a lot.
But if yours is not doing the job, we’re going to have some easy troubleshooting tips to help improve its performance.
LESLIE: And it’s September, which means the most active part of the hurricane season is upon us. And there’s no one more vulnerable to those effects than seniors, especially if they live alone. So we’re going to share some tips to help those senior citizens in your life, keep them safe from weather emergencies.
TOM: Plus, your stove’s exhaust vent hood is there for every cooking adventure. But if you think about it, it rarely gets much attention except during those smoky emergencies. We’re going to tell you what you need to do to keep your vent hood in tip-top shape.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear what’s going on at your money pit. So give us a call, let us know what you are working on and how we can lend a hand.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: David in Alabama is on the line, looking to do some renovations. What’s going on at your money pit and how can we help?
DAVID: I have a 1942 bungalow, North Alabama. Has all 2½-inch tongue-and-groove oak hardwood floors, except for the …
DAVID: Yes, thank you. Except for the kitchen and the bath as …
DAVID: And I’m looking to add on a bedroom. And I want to retain the character. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get new boards or if I should just look for salvage or reclamation and wanted you all’s recommendation on that.
TOM: Salvage is always an option. Of course, those boards have to be sourced and then you have to make sure that they’re suitable for installation and then refinishing. And then, of course, the old boards that you purchase for this purpose may not match your own old boards. So, even if you go through all that work, you want to make sure that it does look natural.
If you are looking for new product, you can take a look at WeShipFloors.com. That’s a provider that has very good prices on hardwood floors and many other types of flooring, as well. And for that kitchen, if you want to think about maybe doing something other than hardwood so that you have something that stands up to the moisture that would be in a kitchen, take a look at some of the composite products that are available right now. Because some of the composites look just like the original, organic hardwood project.
They make one called SUPERCore, for example, that is so tough you can smash the thing with a hammer and you know you wouldn’t even see a dent. And it looks fantastic. So, these composite products have gotten a lot better over the years and will give you resistance to abrasion and impact like that. But they’re not going to fall apart when they get wet, which is the key.
DAVID: I can’t hardly tell the difference when I see them.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. They’re beautiful.
DAVID: Well, I appreciate the info on the hardwood for the rest of the house. That gives me a good tip. And that’s WeShip.com?
TOM: WeShipFloors.com. The website is WeShipFloors.com, yeah.
DAVID: WeShipFloors.com. OK. I’ll check it out and that’ll give me a heads-up and maybe I can start there.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Betty in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on?
BETTY: OK. I’m in Tennessee and for several weeks on end, we have temperatures from the mid-80s and up to the – almost 100. During that time, when it’s really hot there is mold that comes into my closet that leads to the attic stairs.
BETTY: And it comes out from a couple of vents, in a couple of bathrooms and sort of on the ceiling in the hallway adjacent to the attic stairs.
TOM: How do you know it’s mold and not something else?
BETTY: Well, I mean it’s little black spots and you know …
TOM: The reason I say that is sometimes, if you have a difference in temperatures, you will get condensation of basically the airflow on those surfaces. Now, that condensation can deposit some of the dirt that’s in the air. And it’s not like you have a dirty house; it’s just that sometimes you get dirt particles in the air on the walls. And they’ll stick to the cooler parts and not so much to the warmer parts.
So, one question I have is: is it really mold that you’re seeing? Because mold doesn’t usually become airborne; it just kind of grows on a surface.
BETTY: Well, I don’t think it’s sticking to cooler parts, because the closet that leads to the attic stairs, the heat is intense in there. And I try to leave the door open as much as I can.
TOM: So, if it is mold that’s forming, it sounds to me like it might potentially be in your duct system, which is unusual. But I’m wondering where else it could be. Have you had that system cleaned? Have you had the filters replaced on your systems? Because that should be trapping mold spores.
BETTY: No, I just really didn’t know what to do.
TOM: Alright. Well, here’s what I would do. I would have the HVAC system inspected by your heating-and-cooling company to see if they find any of these deposits inside the system. If that’s the case, I would have that and the duct system thoroughly cleaned. I usually don’t recommend that, because it’s almost never necessary. But if you’re getting this much mold forming in those areas, it may be that there are deposits inside the ducts and it does need to be cleaned. Just make sure it’s done by a professional so it doesn’t get released to other parts of the house, OK?
BETTY: OK. Who would be the professional?
TOM: Duct-cleaning experts that have dealt with this problem before. And your HVAC company may be able to point you in the right direction.
BETTY: Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Russ in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
RUSS: I have some casement windows. The old crank-style ones?
TOM: OK. Yep.
RUSS: And I want – we need to replace windows but can those be replaced with double-hung windows easily or is it going to be major work?
TOM: Well, if it’s a casement window, you don’t have an existing sort of window jamb that would stay behind. If it was an old double-hung and you took out the sashes, you could slip a replacement window in between that and use the old sort of frame but just replace the sashes. Because it’s a casement window, you physically have to take the entire window out. So it’s more like doing a new-construction window installation where you have to, you know, kind of mess with the siding to get the whole window out and then put a new window in.
In terms of the shape of it, too, if it’s sort of shaped for a double-hung, double-hungs are more tall than they are wide. Casements can be kind of squatty in terms of their style. So you want to make sure it’s going to look good.
But listen, if you’re going to take the casement out and it’s not going to fit a double-hung well, why not put in a new casement but just put in a good-quality casement, like an Andersen, for example? And that can fit alongside double-hungs quite well. In fact, I’ve got both casements and double-hungs in my home and they look quite natural together.
RUSS: OK. I just had – every house we’ve had has had casements and they’ve all rotted and had problems.
TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
RUSS: So, I was looking – something different. But OK, that answers my question.
TOM: What kind of siding do you have?
TOM: Yeah. So you’re going to have to peel back the vinyl to do this. There’s no way around that. Because you have to basically set the new double-hung against the sheathing and then put the J-channel in and fill the vinyl in around it.
Now, if these new vinyl, double-hung windows are bigger than the casement, you’re not going to have any issues with needing to try to replace siding. Just make sure it’s a little bit bigger and then be careful about the siding that you remove.
The siding does come down pretty easily. And what I would tell you to do is number each piece with a piece of tape and a number on it so you make sure you get it back in the right order. And you can basically cut it to fit. So, it’s more work but it can look fantastic when you’re done.
RUSS: OK. OK. Alright. Thanks, guys.
TOM: Good luck, Russ. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call anytime over here at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any project. Just go to HomeAdvisor.com.
TOM: And just ahead, when your vacuum doesn’t suck, it kind of sucks. But it’s not hard to figure out the problem. We’re going to have some easy vacuum-cleaner troubleshooting tips, after this.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Here’s what we’d like you to do: pick up the phone, right now, and call us. If you’ve got a project going on at your money pit, we’d love to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and you can book appointments online for free.
LESLIE: Steve in Wisconsin is on the line with some cracks in the driveway. It’s good to take care of these things now before the winter sets in. What’s going on?
STEVE: Not actually the crack but the expansion joint between the garage and the driveway. And if I could fill that with some type of caulking so the water doesn’t run down in there and freeze …
TOM: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Because if you let the water accumulate under the driveway and under the edge of the garage, not only will you have issues with freezing but the water can wash out the soil and then you can get some cracks in the slabs.
So, the best way to fill that is not with caulking, per se, but there’s a type of self-leveling sealant that’s perfect for that. QUIKRETE makes it. It’s called an Advanced Polymer Self-Leveling Sealant.
And the way you use it is you have to insert a backer rod into that gap first. And that’s like a foam tube that you buy. You buy the size that’s slightly bigger than the gap and you push it in place and you get it sort of below the surface of where you’re going to apply the sealant. And then that stops the sealant from falling down into the big void underneath it. And then you apply the self-leveling sealant. It flows out. Gets tacky in about an hour, so it doesn’t take a long time to set. And then it will expand and contract with the driveway.
Now, I’ve used this because I like the fact that it stops all the debris from falling in there. Because you can debris and you’ll get seeds that’ll sprout weeds and things like that. But it’s also very easy to use. And because it expands and contracts, you’re not going to have to do this every couple of years. If you do it once and you do it right, you won’t have to do it again for a while.
STEVE: Well, thanks, Tom. And that is Advanced Polymer, huh?
TOM: Yep, that’s right. It’s called QUIKRETE’s Advanced Polymer Self-Leveling Sealant. It’s the self-leveling aspect that’s perfect for this driveway.
STEVE: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Claire in Alaska on the line who’s dealing with a first-time basement. What can we do for you?
CLAIRE: Well, I have purchased a 1900 house and it has this basement that is getting moisture. It has this sticky, black paper on the outside but it is not functioning properly, apparently, because there’s a lot of moisture coming in.
CLAIRE: And it would require digging out on the outside to do the outside. Is there any way to address it from the inside?
TOM: Well, there’s another way to address it on the outside and that is to pay attention to the angle of the soil around the house. So when it does warm up and you have the opportunity to regrade the foundation perimeter and make sure that the angle of the soil, the angle of the grade slopes away from the building …
CLAIRE: Well, I put French drains in all around the property and sloped it and put gravel.
TOM: So there’s – well, OK. Now, if he sloped it with gravel, then he didn’t really do you a favor, because the gravel is porous. So the water goes through the gravel, back to the dirt underneath and into your basement. So if you’re going to slope it – yeah, give him an A for effort but it’s not going to be successful. You have to grade it with clean fill dirt so that you can tamp it and the water will run away from it. Water is not going to run over gravel; it falls through it.
But there’s a second thing to check and that is: do you have gutters on the roof?
CLAIRE: No, because the snow pulled them off.
TOM: Right, OK. Well, look, if you can collect the water at the roof edge – and even if you have deep gutters or if you use the type of gutters that have the warming cables up on the roof, if you prevent water from running off the roof and against that foundation perimeter, you’ll prevent a wet basement because most of the water collects at the outside.
Protect the perimeter; keep it as dry as possible. And a lot of wet basements are caused because gutters are missing or gutters are clogged and the water rolls off the roof right against the foundation. Soil is flat, so the water has got nowhere to go and it just sits there and leaks into the basement.
CLAIRE: OK. So I’ve got to work on that.
LESLIE: Well, now that the weather is getting more cool outside and we’re officially entering the fall season, I bet everybody’s gearing up to stay inside for those long winters and maybe you’re starting to do some winter cleaning. And that usually involves the vacuum. You want to keep the area dust-free but what happens when your vacuum cleaner is acting up? You know, maybe the suction’s not so great. And that fix is actually easier than you think.
If the suction is poor or maybe not even happening at all, there could be a clog in the hose, the bag or the filter. Or it could be the fact that the canister might simply be full and need to be replaced or emptied.
TOM: Now, if you’re hearing a sort of funny noise or vibration, first you want to try to find out where that’s coming from. If it sounds like it’s coming from the motor area, it may very well be a broken fan blade. Pretty common condition as vacuums wear. But if the noise is coming from the brush area, then it could be a defective brush, a roller bearing or the brush roller itself. But if either is defective, it needs replacing and that’s not really that hard to do.
LESLIE: Now, if you’re finding that the vacuum itself is hard to push, it might have a broken or worn belt or it might have come off the motor spindle.
Finally, if the vacuum kind of has that burning-rubber smell, it could be coming from the belt. So you want to check the brush roller for any obstructions and clear away any hair or carpet fibers. And if the brush roller spins freely with that belt removed, you can reinstall the belt and then test again for proper operation.
TOM: And here’s a trick. If you do need to replace your vacuum-cleaner belt, let’s face it: it’s not always the easiest thing to find. I mean you can find it online but what I usually do is buy two, because I know it’s going to happen again. And what I’ll do is I’ll tape the extra one to the vacuum handle so it’s always there. And I have actually had to use that extra one from time to time, so I’m kind of glad that I did that.
If you’d like some more vacuum troubleshooting tips, check out MoneyPit.com. If you search “vacuum cleaner,” you’ll find all of our tips for making sure that machine works perfectly every single time.
LESLIE: James in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JAMES: Well, my daughter – I got a house that I gave to her, that was my father’s old home. So she was cleaning, though, and doing some remodeling to it and had wallpaper on this wall. So they tore it all off and then it had newspaper on it from 1941.
JAMES: And they had a whole bunch of stuff about FDR and before World War II.
TOM: Oh, that’s amazing.
JAMES: Took all that down. And then the wall is made up of boards that are 12 inches wide, 8 feet tall. It’s an inch-and-a-half thick. So, looking at it, it’s all American chestnut.
TOM: Oh, wow. That’s beautiful.
JAMES: So she wants this covered back up. I said, “No way.”
TOM: Oh, no. No.
JAMES: No, no, no. I said, “If you don’t want it, take it out.” I said, “You ought to be able to get quite a bit of money for it.”
TOM: That is so classy today, yeah. You’re suggesting that she remove them? Or do you want to use those as the final (inaudible)?
JAMES: Well, she thought about that but then she said, “Well, I’m just going to paint it because they don’t match what I’ve got.” I said, “No, no, no.”
TOM: Ah, no, no. Yeah.
JAMES: And I’m trying to talk her out of this very seriously, because – I said, “They don’t make that stuff anymore.”
TOM: Yeah. No, they don’t. That’s really a very rare find. And I think if you were to sand it and refinish it, you’d have a really lovely wall surface. And even if the color wasn’t quite right, I’d rather see you stain it to bring the color closer to what she wants it to be and still have all of that character.
Leslie, what do you think?
LESLIE: It’s always so rare to find such beautiful wood in good condition. And I think there’s some ways to enhance it, enjoy it and make it sort of go along with the rest of the décor, whether it’s changing the stain slightly on it, adding just sort of a clear coat to just really bring out that graining. I wouldn’t be afraid of it and I’m not afraid to mix different types of woods, as well, and then different types of wall features. Of course, you can still hang your art, you can still hang pieces of fabric or woven items. There’s different ways to make it work and I would hope that she would embrace that.
JAMES: Looking at it, the boards are an inch-and-a-half thick. They’re not – I said, “You can take that thing down and probably have them sawed up even greater and have a lot more wood to work with.”
TOM: Or just have them planed. You could have them planed and smoothed out. If they come out easy enough, that might be an option. I’d consider that because, obviously, sanding them when they’re vertical is a lot of hard work. But you could take them to a mill and have them planed so that they would basically take just an 1/8-inch off the surface. And you’d have a perfectly clean, new American chestnut surface to work with after that.
JAMES: OK. Well, I’ll just (inaudible). I don’t know what the stuff is worth but I’ve been told it’s worth – it’s very valuable.
TOM: Yeah. Well, listen, I mean you certainly – you could sell the material but I think the most value is in this beautiful home that you’ve given your daughter. And I think it could – it really speaks to the age and the character of the building. So, I agree with you. I’d try to talk her out of it.
JAMES: Alright. Well, I thought – I was listening to you all over the weekend. I said, “Man, I’m going to ask you people what you all think.” Yeah, so I guess I’ll try to work on her some more.
TOM: Alright. Well, we’re glad you reached out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT-MONEY-PIT.
JAMES: Alright. Thank you.
LESLIE: Remember, you can reach us anytime with your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, we’re all at risk when emergencies happen to strike but seniors who live alone face the most danger. Creating a weather-emergency plan for the senior in your life, that’s what we’re going to help you do, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What are you working on this beautiful fall day? If it’s your home, you’re in exactly the right place. We’re here to help you get those jobs done, so pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. Never worry about overpaying for a job. Just use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. It’s all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Annette in Arizona is on the line and needs some help with a patio project. Tell us about it.
ANNETTE: The problem that I’m having is I’ve been wanting a patio cover put on my house for the last 20 years.
ANNETTE: Well, now that my kids have grown up, I’m able to do that now. So, the problem is everyone is telling me that I have a very low roof and my ceilings in my house are only 7½-feet ceilings.
ANNETTE: So, I don’t have much of a clearance. So, of course, everything else seems to be lower in the backyard.
I’ve called probably eight or nine different builders now to see how much it would cost, this patio cover. And it’s straight across, so it’s 56 feet long, the whole length of the house.
ANNETTE: And I think probably six of them never called me back.
TOM: That’s pretty typical.
ANNETTE: And so the two that have, one of them is a very good friend of mine and I really do trust him in building this top patio cover. But he says I need to cut 6 feet into my roof in order to get the pitch that I need for at the very end. So I really wanted a 56-feet-wide by 10-feet-out patio cover.
TOM: Right. So what he’s saying is that if he adds a roof that starts at the edge of your roof and then kind of comes out from that, you’re not going to have much pitch, is that correct? Because you’re starting so low.
TOM: So I think your builder friend is probably correct, from your description. That said, the problem that you have with different builders giving you different advice can be completely avoided if you get a design professional to go in there first.
So if you’re able to find, for example, an architect in your area that wanted to take on a small project, have them design this patio cover for you and then you’ll have a set of specifications. You can work through all the angles with the architect or the designer. Then you’ll have a set of specifications. You can call those contractors back and say, “This is exactly what I want. Now, just give me a price to build it.”
Otherwise, you have no way of comparing apples to apples, because every builder is going to have their own solution. And you’re going to get different prices and you’re really not going to know how to compare them, because who knows what one guy is doing versus another? Does that make sense to you?
ANNETTE: Yeah, I understand. And the problem is I wouldn’t mind him doing it but I am so afraid that wherever he cuts into it to build out – I’m so worried that I’m going to start having problems leaking.
TOM: I really wouldn’t worry about it, OK? Because builders know how to build roofs and they know how to build roofs that don’t leak. And somebody built that roof that’s over your house right now and there’s no reason to think that your builder can’t attach another roof to it and then reroof that area properly so that you don’t get leaks. I think he’s giving you the right advice, because you can’t – if you start low and then go out, you’re going to end up with almost a flat roof and that’s going to leak like a sieve.
So if you have a good pitch, that’s going to be the surest way to avoid leaks. I would not worry at all about a contractor that has to dig into an existing roof; that’s done all the time. It’s not a big deal. If somebody knows what they’re doing, they can roof it properly, flash it properly and you will have no leaking issues – new leaking issues – as a result.
ANNETTE: Alright. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate your answer because my worry was it’s going to start leaking. And then I’m going to have major problems because it’s going to be leaking over the family room, the dining room, the kitchen and the bedroom and the – I said that’s another problem that I don’t want to get into.
TOM: Yeah, well, now that the kids are gone, I think it’s time for you to get that project done and enjoy it, right?
ANNETTE: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Annette. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, with hurricane season in full swing, it’s important to think of how you take care of everybody in your family. And more than 60 million families out there have members that include children, seniors or someone who’s disabled. And when those weather-related emergencies do strike, getting help to those families is crucial but often, they’re also the most difficult to reach.
TOM: Well, that’s a good point. I mean we see seniors get stuck in high-rise buildings or those without transportation to leave their homes. The main thing to do is to keep in mind that needs do change and the capabilities change. So you kind of have to be prepared and plan for that.
So, first thing you should do is identify the threats where you live. Is it a hurricane? A tornado? Wildfires? Flooding? What are the emergencies you or your loved one could face? And then make a plan.
Now, a really good place to start is a resource that is put together by the federal government called Ready.gov. That website is run by FEMA to promote emergency preparedness. And it has a simple planning sheet that’ll kind of walk you through what you need to plan for. And you kind of just download that and get started.
LESLIE: Yeah. And there’s a couple of other things that you should be considering, as well. You know, where would you or your loved one go if the area was evacuated? Do you go to a friend’s house, a family member or a shelter? What if you have pets? Not all those places allow animals, so you’ve got to think about where you go in the event you do have a dog or a cat. And can you bring them? You don’t want to find yourself being turned away because you haven’t thought about all the details.
Another thing is – I think people forget – is how do you communicate? You’ve got to have a friend or a family member as a designated contact who lives outside of the immediate area. And check in with this contact during that emergency, because it might be easier than connecting within the disaster area where cell towers might be down or damaged or overloaded. So it’s good to think of somebody outside of the area that can be sort of the central point for everybody.
TOM: Yeah, good point. It’s also important to be ready to text instead of calling. Because if those lines are jammed like – Leslie, like you were saying – the texts are a lot easier to get through because they take basically less resources, less bandwidth. But when it comes to texting, of course, if you’ve got seniors in your life you’ve got to make sure they know, actually, how to do that. So, that’s one thing you might want to spend some time with them on.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you’ve also got to prepare an emergency kit. And I think it’s important to remember that if you’ve got one at home that maybe you’ve prepared a few seasons ago, it’s expired or gone bad. So make sure you’re constantly upkeeping an emergency kit at home.
And inside this kit, you should include enough water and non-perishable food to sustain each person for three days. You also want to make sure that you have medicines to last at least a week, extra glasses, hearing aids, hearing-aid batteries. And think about your medications. If you can’t obtain an emergency supply, be sure to always fill your prescriptions on the first day that you’re eligible for that refill, rather than waiting for them to run out. This way, you’ll always have plenty on hand. And in case of an evacuation order, you’re going to have enough warning to stash those. Just grab them and throw them in the kit.
TOM: Now, one final tip: it’s a great idea to keep hard copies of important documents – like birth certificates, insurance policies, et cetera – because when disasters strike, your hard drives can fail, your batteries in your phones and the computers can fail. And it can be really hard to get your hands on that stuff even if you do have digital copies.
By all means, you could put a digital copy of everything, say, on a flash drive and then throw that in your kit. But always a good idea to have a paper copy available in that sort of go-bag, so that you know you’ll have some basic materials that you might need to identify yourself or your house or contact your insurance company if you were in an area that was struck by a disaster. We hope that never happens to you but hopefully, we’ve given you some tips that in the event it does, you are ready.
And we are ready to help you with your next home improvement project, so call us right now. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Give us a call anytime with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, your stove’s vent hood quietly does its job – day in, day out – but it rarely gets the attention that it really does deserve. We’re going to help you show your appreciation by keeping it in tip-top shape. We’ll give you the step-by-steps, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.
TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tom in Alaska on the line who’s dealing with a roofing problem. Tell us what’s going on.
TOM IN ALASKA: I have a rafter or a trussed – in this case, they’re 9×3½ inches – 9 inches by 3½ inches, 32 inches on center.
TOM IN ALASKA: Now, on top of that, I have 2×6 tongue-and-groove wood. Now, on top of that is where the insulation goes and the insulation currently is some kind of – it’s all one piece. It’s 2 inches or 2¼ of a yellow foam with about 3/8-inch or ½-inch of some kind of – I don’t know. It crinkles; it can be broken off with your fingers. And then on top of that, connected to it is what looks like roofing paper?
TOM: Right. Probably tar paper.
TOM IN ALASKA: Right.
TOM: OK. So, what you’re describing is a cathedral ceiling with a sandwich-type roof structure above it. So, in other words, typically in a ceiling you would have the insulation in between the rafters. Because your rafters are part of the architectural beauty of the home, the insulation is actually stacked on top of the rafters, kind of on the roof-shingle side almost.
TOM IN ALASKA: Right.
TOM: And that’s not unusual in that type of home. It ends up creating a bit of a deeper fascia at the front edge because of the amount of material you have there but it’s a good, sensible way to insulate that style of home. So what’s your question about this? Are you having problems with it?
TOM IN ALASKA: I would assume that that’s only about R-19, if that.
TOM: It can depend on what exact materials are being used. And you’re right: it’s probably not enough. And so your question might be: “How do I make that better?”
TOM IN ALASKA: Right. And I was thinking of putting something on the inside, which I will lose the visual effect, but I thought if I put maybe a little furring strip or something on the inside, put in a blown-in, rigid foam …
TOM: Well, if you put in blown-in, that’s going to totally mess up the appearance of those rafters. It’s hard to do that neatly. So what you might want to think about doing is adding some rigid foam insulation inside the ceiling, in between the ceiling rafters, and then some other type of wood paneling over that so that when you look up, it appears that you’re looking at the underside of the roof still. You understand what I mean?
TOM IN ALASKA: Right.
TOM: So you can even use a tongue-and-groove thin, pine paneling that’s like 3/8- or ¼-inch thick but have that cover the insulation. And that would still give you the appearance – even if you’re losing a little bit of depth, you might be able to pick up a fair amount of additional insulation.
Tom, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, we’re about to enter the busiest time of year for your kitchen: the holidays. I said it. I said the H word. It’s coming, you guys.
TOM: And that means a lot of cooking and a lot of baking.
LESLIE: Truly. It means a lot of things going on in your oven, on the cooktop, all around your kitchen. And that stove’s exhaust vent hood is there for every single one of those holiday-cooking adventures. But I mean does anybody give it any love or attention that it needs? Well, except, of course, during a smoky kitchen incident or when it decides to turn itself on because it’s like, “Hey, there’s too much smoke.”
But guys, you’ve got to keep it operating safely. And that filter in your stove vent hood really does need regular attention.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s easy. What you need to do to clean standard filters is just use a degreasing solution. So you take it out, soak them in the degreasing solution and then follow that by warm, soapy water or you can even put it in the top rack of your dishwasher.
And if your vent hood uses an activated-charcoal filter, well, just replace it. Those filters last pretty much about three months. So, buy some online, keep a stack of them and remember to change it every quarter and you’re going to see a big improvement in the performance of that vent fan.
And remember, if the vent fan does its job, you’re going to be doing less cleaning. So that ought to motivate you to make sure that filter is cleaned as much as possible. You won’t be wiping down nearly as much dirt and debris and grease from those kitchen cabinets in that area if that filter is properly maintained.
LESLIE: Give us a call anytime with whatever it is you’re working on, whether it’s a home repair, a home décor question, home improvement or maybe you’re just planning something. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, whatever you are working on, you know, some of those DIY projects might just be better left to the pros. We’re going to explain why, when The Money Pit continues.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
LESLIE: Alright. And Brian did just that.
Now, Brian writes: “I recently lost power to two rooms in my house. A friend had me test a few things and said that there’s a bad wire somewhere in the wiring. I would hire an electrician but we’re trying to save money right now, so I’m going to have to do this job myself. Is there a device that I can use to test the wiring to find the bad wire? Better yet, how should I do this?”
These are a lot of questions that all involve the risk of death.
TOM: Yeah, yeah. Or certainly electrical fire.
So, Brian, look, there’s a reason electricians work for a number of years before earning their licenses. It is a hazardous sport, so to speak, especially in a situation like yours. You’re kind of trying to find a needle in the haystack. And you have all the indications that you have a problem, because you have these circuits that are not working. And that could be something very simple or it could be something like a wire or a connection that is burning up.
I just, this past weekend, was visiting my son at college. And he moved into a new house that he was renting with his buddies. And I thought, well, being a home inspector – ex-home inspector dad – I’d better do the home inspector thing. I popped open the electrical panel, which looked brand new from the outside.
And you know what I found in there, Leslie? A burned wire. Yep. A burned wire in a fairly new electric panel.
So, you never know. But it takes that level of skill to find it. So while I understand, Brian, that you’re trying to save some money, I would hire an electrician for this project. And by the way, while the electrician is at your house, think about other things that you might want to have the electrician do. Because part of the expense here is just kind of getting them to make the trip – sort of that trip-charge part of it – even if the repair is minor.
So, if it ends up that it’s a quick fix, maybe you can have them add a light fixture or add an outlet or do something of that nature to make the house a little bit more comfortable for you guys. But this kind of troubleshooting definitely should be left up to a pro.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, I’ve got a post here from Jordan in Massachusetts who writes: “We recently dug out an old garden patch that was up against our house. Just wondering what the best type of fill to use to bring the soil level back up to the foundation. We’ve got some mixed three-quarter, minus sand and soil, left over from a patio project and wonder if that would do. We would, of course, grade it away from the house.”
TOM: Well, I’m not quite sure what he’s referring to by the three quarters, unless he’s talking about an aggregate. Maybe it has some rock in it. If it does and you mix it in with top – not topsoil but with clean fill dirt, so it’s real solid and firm, that might be OK to build up the grade.
I think the mistake that most people make is that they try to build up grade with topsoil or soil that’s very organic, alright? We even see people try to do it with mulch.
LESLIE: And super moisture-holding.
TOM: Yeah. It’s kind of like throwing sponges around your house. It’s really not a good idea. You want to make sure that grade is created with solidly-packed soil. And clean fill dirt is what to use for that. But then, once it slopes away, you could put on top of that some topsoil or something else. But you’ve got to make the slope first with material that will drain. Otherwise, when you get heavier rain, the water is not going to run away from the foundation. You’ll be calling us on how to fix your wet basement.
So we don’t want to have – put you through that, so just make sure you pack that soil in well and get that drainage right the first time out.
LESLIE: Alright, Jordan? Thanks so much for reaching us at MoneyPit.com or posting it on The Money Pit’s Facebook page. You can reach us there anytime. We’re happy to help.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this beautiful September part of your day with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and ideas and inspiration to avoid the perspiration when it comes time to tackle your home improvement, décor and remodeling projects.
If you’ve got questions, though, and could not reach us on today’s show, we get it and we will be here for you when you’re ready to talk and when you can get through. So, remember, you can pick up the phone, 24/7. Call 888-MONEY-PIT, get into our studio, talk with our pros, leave your information. We’ll call you back the next time we’re in the studio to produce the show. You can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
Until then, 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 2019 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.)