- Loading Your Dishwasher: Are you loading your dishwasher the wrong way? Here’s how to make sure your dishwasher is cleaning as efficiently as possible.
- Painting Tips: Painting professionals know how to save paint, time, and effort while getting the best results. We’ll share some helpful painting secrets.
- Snowstorm Preparation: Are you prepared for snowstorms this season? Find out tips and tools for clearing away snow and ice.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Ceiling Renovation: Mary wants to remove the ceiling joists to create a cathedral ceiling in her seasonal home. A project like this may have structural effects, so she needs an architect or structural engineer to spec it out safely.
- Retaining Wall: Drainage pipes by Terry’s retaining wall are sending mud down his driveway. He has to decide whether to regrade the area and rebuild the retaining wall, redirect the downspouts, or keep cleaning the driveway.
- Pet Stains and Odors: A tenant’s puppy has left stains and odors in the carpet of Carol’s rental home. She can try neutralizing the area with an odor-removal product or replace the flooring with tile, laminate, or stain-resistant carpeting.
- Ceiling Leaks: A flood in the upstairs apartment leaked through Kevin’s kitchen light fixture and the ceiling is stained and bowed. Mold won’t be a problem if the leak is fixed, but we’ve got advice on what to do if the ceiling gets wet again.
- Soundproofing: Catherine can actually hear her neighbors two houses down through an I-beam in her basement! Framing the beam and attaching soundproofing drywall should keep things private again.
- Toilet Stains: What’s the best way to clean stubborn lime deposit stains in the toilet? Pete gets tips on how to carefully try abrasives, muriatic acid, or a paste of vinegar and baking soda.
- Dryer Vents: Clara wonders how to clean the lint from a long dryer duct vent. We recommend a handy tool to easily remove the lint buildup and prevent a fire hazard.
- Concrete Patio Stains: A new concrete patio wasn’t sealed and now has leaf stains. It’s not too late for Jeff to scrub, dry, and use a vapor-permeable concrete sealer to keep the patio clean.
- Pest Control: Squirrels chewing through the roof are making Kathy nuts! She needs to use a humane cage to trap and release any that have gotten inside, then fill the holes and spread mothballs along the eaves to keep squirrels away.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you take on the projects you want to get done around your house. So, what are you working on this weekend? If it’s a project you need a hand with, you’re in the right place. Reach out to us with your questions by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or better yet, going to MoneyPit.com, clicking the blue microphone button and posting your question right there.
Coming up on today’s show, did you know there is a right and a wrong way to load a dishwasher? I know so many people probably have arguments about this amongst the family.
LESLIE: Oh, my God, utensils up, utensils down …
TOM: It actually does make a difference, saving you money and energy and actually making sure your dishes come out clean when you load them correctly. So, we will walk you through and maybe solve some of that mystery.
LESLIE: And when it comes to painting, the pros always have a few closely guarded secrets to making sure that that job goes smoothly. But we’ve got a few tips up our sleeves, as well, and we’re happy to share those time-saving secrets with you.
TOM: And some of the harshest winter weather hits in February and March. Are you ready? We’re going to have your snow-survival checklist just ahead.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you want to know. What are you guys working on? What are you planning to tackle these winter months while it’s too chilly to get outside and do anything on the outside project list? So, what have you got for the indoors? Are you renovating a kitchen? Maybe you’re just redecorating. Thinking of updating a bath? Whatever it is, give us a call. We’re happy to lend a hand.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT or better yet, post your questions on MoneyPit.com. Just click the blue microphone button.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Well, it’s time to talk remodeling with Mary. We’re heading up to Utica, New York to do that.
Mary, tell us what you’re working on.
MARY: I have a seasonal home in – it’s from the 1960s, the early – all paneling and everything.
MARY: My son took all of that down, right down to the studs and the ceiling and everything. And he would like to do away – and part of it with the ceiling joist and go up to the rafters so that – to make it look more like it has an open space all there.
MARY: And I’m worried about the structural integrity of the place.
TOM: Yeah, you definitely should be worried about that, because you can’t just take away the ceiling joists. They’re keeping the walls from spreading outward. You need an architect to look at that and to tell you exactly how to accomplish this, because you’re going to have to make some structural adjustments to make that happen. You can’t just take away all the ceiling joists, because the outside walls will bow.
MARY: Even if you put a collar up there?
TOM: Well, you are going to put some sort of a collar tie across but where you put that, how you attach it, what the width of that is, what the size of that is, those are all structural questions that have calculable answers if you have an engineer or an architect spec it out for you. But to just guess at it is really risky.
MARY: Oh, OK.
TOM: It’s also going to be harder to insulate, by the way, that area because your ceiling joists are probably not that deep. So it’s very hard to insulate a cathedral ceiling unless you use spray-foam insulation. And if you do that …
MARY: That’s what he was going to use. Spray foam on it.
TOM: Yeah. If you use spray foam – and you’re going to have to have a contractor do that, obviously. If you use spray foam, then you don’t have to worry about the ventilation part of it and it’ll be a much more efficient way to go.
MARY: Yeah. I just thought maybe there was a rule of thumb of how far down you should put the collars but apparently not.
TOM: Yeah. That’s going to depend on a lot of factors, so that’s why you’re going to have an expert look at it, OK?
MARY: Yep. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project.
MARY: Alright. Bye-bye.
LESLIE: Terry in Tennessee needs some help with a retaining-wall problem.
Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
TERRY: Yes. I have a leak problem from a drain on my back end of my house. I have a full basement and it’s heated and cool but I use it as a garage/work area, et cetera. From my garage, there’s a retainer wall that goes past the end of my drive. It’s about 20 yards long. I have two drainpipes at the bottom of that.
And when it rains, well, mud is coming out, so undoubtedly it’s stopped up. And I’m hoping that you can give me the name of some apparatus without digging out the whole entire back of the retainer wall.
TOM: So the mud gets from behind the retainer wall and then comes out the bottom of it on the low side and what, runs down your driveway or something?
TERRY: Yeah, the retainer wall is right at the end of my driveway, coming up from the street to the end of the house.
TOM: So, the solution here would have been in the way the retaining wall was built to begin with. Because behind the retaining wall, it sounds like there’s a lot of dirt sort of pressed right up against it. The way to build this is dig down around the retaining wall, probably about 2 feet behind it. And then you’re going to have stone that is about 12 inches away from the retaining wall. Behind that, you’d have filter cloth and then behind that, you would have soil. I’m talking vertically now.
So, up against the retaining wall, you have stone. Right behind the stone, you have filter cloth. Right behind that, you have the soil. And so, if you don’t have something like that and you’re getting a lot of dirt that’s just basically turning into mud and running through the wall, then that’s going to happen.
Now, I guess your question is: is it really worth it to regrade the area behind the retaining wall to put in the proper type of drainage stone and so on? Or do you just put up with cleaning your driveway every once in a while? For me, if I bought into a house that was like that, I’d probably clean the driveway every once in a while.
TERRY: Yeah. Well, you know, it’s almost a constant thing when it rains. But when the drainpipe – of course, it was put all the way around the house: the proper drainage factor, like the drainage pipe; the gravel over the pipe; the cover over that. So it was all done that way, as far as having that done.
TERRY: It’s just, over time, it’s – the house is 17 years old. Well, it started to leak and some way or another, it filtered down into the drainpipe, which drains past my driveway or it did at one time, anyway.
TOM: Well, you could always rerun those downspouts so that they’re not discharging that close to the house and keep them well away. That could help you a bit, as well. But it really comes down to how that soil is put together behind the wall, if that makes sense to you.
TERRY: OK. OK. Well, that was my question and I thank you so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Carol on the line from Oregon.
How can we help you today?
CAROL: Well, I’ve got a problem. I should know better but I have rented to people with – who brought in a puppy.
TOM: OK. Oh, that’s terrible.
CAROL: And now I’ve got to deal with lots of urine, fecal. It’s damage that’s probably been on there too long, too deep. Gone through the carpet to the pad, to the subfloor. So, my question is: can the stain ever be removed? I’m thinking I should just take everything up. My question would be what to put down new. Replace the subfloors? Solution? People have said something about KILZ and something like Zenix (ph) or something like that.
LESLIE: Well, I mean it really depends. If you even want to attempt salvaging the rug that’s there – generally, with a rental situation, you’re probably better off with a tile or a laminate floor, just because of cleanability. And then let the folks bring in their own area rugs. But if you want to attempt to sort of get the stain away, get the odor away, there’s a product that I used when I was training our dog, who was untrainable for the first year. And it’s on a website called JustRite and it’s R-i-t-e.com. And it’s called 1-2-3 Odor Free.
And it’s a series of different products. One’s a stain remover, one’s an odor remover and it sort of neutralizes through enzymes. And there’s an injector that you use to get through the carpet and into the padding and into the subfloor. And I kid you not, it works. Because there was a spot at the top of the steps that Daisy just loved and no problems to this day.
So, you might want to try that. However, if there is a lot of stuff to deal with, your best bet is probably to just pull everything off and you’re right about wanting to seal that subfloor. Because if you don’t put a primer – a good one – on top of it, whatever you put on top, get a humid day and you’re going to notice it.
TOM: Yeah, so that’s why, Carol, what you want to do is use an oil-based primer like a KILZ or a B-I-N. There are a number of different primers out there but I would use the oil-based ones for a problem like this, because they’re going to do a better job of sealing in odor.
CAROL: OK. And if I do decide to put down a rug – because this is a house I would like to sell future forward; it’s a nice house – is there a type of rug that can better be cleaned?
LESLIE: OK, yeah. It is from Mohawk and it’s a carpet that they call SmartStrand. And it’s got built-in stain-and-soil resistance that’s never, never, never going to wear off or wash off or clean off. And it feels soft. And it’s environmentally friendly because it’s made in part with a recycled plastic.
And I think it was last year at the Builders’ Show – Tom and I were at the event and they were just launching this SmartStrand product. And they had taken carpeting and carpeted the pen of an elephant at the zoo and left it in there for a year and then took it off, cleaned it and brought a patch in and had half under the cover of glass and half out. And there was a little door that you could open up to the dirty side and you opened that up and of course, I didn’t smell just because I always do strange things like that. And it like reeked horribly. And the side that was cleaned was beautiful, clean, soft, smelled fantastic.
So, I’m not really sure about the price point but it is an amazing product and available in a lot of different looks, different piles. So I would start with Mohawk, their SmartStrand.
CAROL: OK. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Well, besides saving you from dishpan hands, a new dishwasher can save you more than 8,000 gallons of water each year. And it costs only about $35 annually to run. But there are things that you can do to make your dishwasher perform even better.
First of all, don’t bother prerinsing the dishes. I love this tip. Don’t prerinse; just put them right in there. Just scrape off the food, let the dishwasher do the work. And instead of washing by hand, be sure to use the dishwasher for any plates, pots, pans – basically, if it’s dishwasher-safe, it should go in there.
TOM: Now, loading the dishwasher properly makes a difference, too. So, check the user manual for illustrations on the right way to position dishes, utensils, glassware and cookware so they’ll get as clean as possible using the best feature settings.
LESLIE: Yeah. And speaking of settings, most people tend to always use the same one. Now, if you have it, try using the Eco mode instead, which will automatically optimize the features for reducing water and energy. If not, take time to match the setting to actually the type of load that you’re putting in there. Don’t just one-size-fits-all; really look at it.
TOM: Now, besides detergent, it’s really a good idea to use a rinse aid, especially if you live in an area with hard water. This will help prevent spots and streaks and makes the dishes dry faster. And to save even more energy, use the air-dry setting instead of using the heated-dry setting. Only use heated dry when you have to do several dishwasher loads in a row and just kind of want to move through that process quicker. Otherwise, always use just air dry.
LESLIE: Yeah. And whatever model you have, always run the dishwasher with a full load but don’t overload it. And be sure not to block the arms or any other moving parts. I can’t tell you how many times there’s like one pan that blocks the little tray that opens up to release the dishwasher-pod thing.
TOM: Yeah. Kids think if you stack the dishes in the sink, you should stack them in the dishwasher, too. Not so much.
LESLIE: So, it happens. But no, you’ll get a hang of it, guys.
Kevin in Texas is dealing with a dangerous situation.
You’ve got water leaking through a light in your kitchen?
KEVIN: I actually live in an apartment but nevertheless, my concerns are obviously valid for my health and so forth. All of a sudden, water started coming through the light fixture in the kitchen. And I threw down buckets and went up and knocked on the gentleman upstairs’ door and it turned out his washing machine had gone crazy and had put a bunch of water in my ceiling that – most of which came right through the light fixture, point of least resistance.
LESLIE: Oh, wow.
KEVIN: However, I can tell that it got into the rest of the ceiling. There’s a place where this living room is bowed in with the stain, so I know that it got wet up inside there. And furthermore, the guy, when he was made aware of it, apparently thought that it wouldn’t act up anymore and actually turned on his washing machine again and went and stepped into the shower. And so it just leaked profusely until we could finally get his attention, between me and Maintenance.
TOM: Oh, my God.
KEVIN: Yeah. I mean we’re sitting there with shop vac, buckets and mops and just shaking our heads.
KEVIN: So it was a one-time event, so it wasn’t an ongoing leak. And I was wondering what my risks are of black mold. Is there a test? Is there a preventative? What’s the story with that?
TOM: Yeah, it’s a good question. But here’s the good news: a single leak like that, that happened and then dried out, is not going to become an ongoing mold problem. If it stays wet for a long, long time and especially if it’s in an unheated place, it’s more likely to become a mold problem. But a single leak like that is not.
And also, one more point and that is you mentioned that your ceiling bowed. If – and I hope it doesn’t – but if that ever happens to you again, what you want to do is somewhat counterintuitive but that is to poke a hole in the ceiling wherever you see that water starting to form.
TOM: Because it’s easier to fix a hole than it is to replace the entire ceiling, which is probably what’ll end up having to be done. But when you see water coming through like that, what you should do is grab a screwdriver and just poke a couple of holes until you find the spot where the water just starts dripping out.
TOM: The quicker you can empty that ceiling of water, the better off you’re going to be.
And we had a problem like that not too long ago because of a piece of flashing that blew off our roof. And the first thing I did was took a Phillips screwdriver and poked three or four holes until I found the right spot. All that water drained right out and all I had to do was fix those holes. And it didn’t even have a stain on the ceiling when we were done.
KEVIN: Wow, yeah. That’s good advice there. I guess I should have thought of that but when you’re renting, you’re a little bit reluctant to do that.
TOM: Yeah, you don’t know. And that’s why I always take the opportunity to mention it, because it’s – first of all, you don’t have the experience because, thankfully, people don’t get these kinds of leaks. But secondly, it’s very counterintuitive because you don’t want to damage your ceiling. Well, it’s already damaged once that water is behind it and it’s going to get a lot worse really fast unless you poke a hole in it.
KEVIN: Good point, though. Good point. Alright. Thank you, guys.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Katherine in Wisconsin is on the line with a soundproofing issue.
Tell us what’s going on.
KATHERINE: I live in a condo with a basement and there’s an I-beam that runs through the basement. And when I’m in the basement, I can hear my neighbors from two houses down talking in their living room, because their voices travel down the I-beam.
KATHERINE: So I was – yeah. So I was interested in covering the I-beam somehow to reduce the noise but I wasn’t sure what the best way to do that would be.
TOM: Well, there’s a couple things you can do. First of all, can you frame in the I-beam so that it’s – like has something that we can attach a drywall to?
KATHERINE: Yeah, yeah, I could. I just wasn’t sure what to do that with or if that would help.
TOM: OK. So once you – yeah, once you frame it in, there’s a product called QuietRock.
TOM: And it’s a soundproofing drywall. It’s sold at Lowe’s. It’s pretty expensive. Regular drywall is 5 bucks a sheet; QuietRock is about 40 bucks a sheet. So it’s pretty expensive but you don’t need a lot.
LESLIE: Yeah. But if she can hear them, they can hear her.
TOM: Yeah. But you don’t need a lot. You don’t need a lot. So, if you can frame-in that beam and you’re sure that’s where it’s coming from, you may want to think about using QuietRocks to actually cover the I-beam and that should do the trick.
KATHERINE: Oh, really? So I wouldn’t need to put additional insulation between the …
TOM: No. Insulation is – insulation doesn’t really work as a soundproofing material.
KATHERINE: OK, OK.
TOM: It’s kind of a misnomer to think that insulation works on a wall. It’s cheap but it really doesn’t do much. The QuietRock absorbs the vibration of the sound and I think that’s what you need to do.
KATHERINE: OK, great. And the QuietRock is just spelled like it sounds?
TOM: Yep. Q-u-i-e-t-Rock. If you go to Lowes.com, you can find it right there. And I was able to find it; I needed it for a project. I was able to find it right in my local Lowe’s.
KATHERINE: Thank you. Bye.
LESLIE: Pete in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PETE: Well, I’ve got lime deposits in my toilets and I’ve got probably five toilets in my house that I’d like to get them out of it. They’re around the upper part of the rim, where the water comes out and then down in the bowl.
PETE: And I’ve tried LIME-A-WAY and I tried a vinegar soak. Maybe I just didn’t do it long enough but I’d like to find a way to get those lime deposits out of there and get my toilets looking nice.
TOM: Have you tried CLR?
PETE: Yes, I have.
TOM: You have tried CLR and CLR didn’t do it either?
PETE: Didn’t do it, no.
TOM: Well, Pete, if the commercial cleaners like CLR and LIME-A-WAY are not working, there’s a couple other things that you can try but you have to be very careful. One of them is to use something that’s abrasive, like pumice or a rubbing compound. And you can try to abrade away the deposit.
Theoretically, these abrasives are softer than the porcelain but you have to do it very carefully. You don’t want to rough the surface of the porcelain because if you do, it’ll get dirtier that much quicker the next time around.
Some folks also use muriatic acid. I don’t like to recommend that because it’s pretty harsh stuff and you’ve got to be super, super careful when you use it.
TOM: But it is a possibility, as well.
And then, you know, the other thing that you can try is you did use vinegar but I don’t know if you mixed it with baking soda.
LESLIE: Yeah. Because that helps.
TOM: And that helps, as well. You kind of make it into a paste and let it stand for a while and then you rinse it.
TOM: So, there’s a couple of additional things that you can try.
I also found a great article online. Whenever you find an article from a university or an extension service, it’s usually pretty well-researched. And if you just Google “removing mineral deposits and North Carolina Cooperative,” you’ll find it. And it’s an extensive article that’s a little old but has a lot of great suggestions in it. And specifically, it has solutions for the different types of deposits that you get on these fixtures, whether it’s rust, iron, copper, what kinds of stain it is and so on.
PETE: That sounds great. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, when it comes to painting, the pros always have a few closely guarded secrets to making sure that the job goes smoothly. But we have a few tips up our sleeves, as well, and we are happy to share those with you.
TOM: Absolutely. So, let’s start with a key element of any paint project: the primer. Primer is what makes the paint stick and it can also hide whatever you’re trying to cover. So, the pro trick is this: tint that primer. Choose a gray or a color that’s similar to the finished paint compared to the plain white primer. It does a much better job of covering up the existing paint color so the finished coat will be more vibrant and may even require fewer coats.
LESLIE: Alright, you’ve got to love that.
Now, here’s how you avoid those ugly brush marks. The secret here is mixing in a paint extender – it’s also called a “paint conditioner” – right into the paint. And this is going to do two things. First of all, it slows down the paint drying time. And that’s going to give you a longer window to overlap those just-painted areas without getting ugly lap marks that happen when you paint over dried paint and then darken the color. Secondly, paint extender levels out the paint so brushstrokes are virtually eliminated or at least a lot less obvious.
TOM: That’s makes a big difference.
Now, next up, let’s talk about protecting your floors and furniture; that is definitely a key to success. So, you’re thinking, “Well, I’m just going to cover everything with plastic tarps, right?” Well, plastic is a totally amateur move and here’s why. Plastic contains the spills but it keeps the paint wet for a long time, so it usually ends up on your shoes and then gets tracked all over the house.
Instead, use canvas tarps. They’re not as slippery and they absorb splatters. But it’s still a good idea to wipe up any large spills so they don’t bleed through.
LESLIE: Now, what about when it comes to actually putting the paint on the brush? Well, there’s a trick there, too. So, to get the most mileage out of a single fill-up and make fewer trips to the paint container, pros take a load-and-go approach.
Now, by contrast, homeowners often go with a load-and-dump approach, which means they drag the loaded brush along the sides of the container and then wipe off most of the paint right off the brush. It doesn’t do any good to dunk your brush and paint and then immediately remove it.
TOM: Yeah. And finally, here’s a great trick for using painter’s tape. To stop that paint from bleeding through, do a thorough job of adhering the painter’s tape before you start. So, after you apply the tape, run a putty knife over the top to press it down for a really good seal. And if you do that, your project is good to go and you came out just like a pro.
LESLIE: Clara in Minneapolis, Kansas is on the line with a dryer-venting question.
How can we help you?
CLARA: Our dryer is in the basement – is the beginning part of the problem. So when we hook it up to the vent, the vent goes straight up.
TOM: How far up does it go?
CLARA: Well, it’s probably 8 foot.
CLARA: And then it goes vertical – I mean horizontal – probably about 25 feet to the back side of the house.
TOM: Wow. OK.
CLARA: And then that’s where the exhaust comes out of the house. And we can get part of it cleaned.
TOM: Is it a metal exhaust duct or a plastic exhaust duct?
CLARA: It’s a metal.
TOM: OK, good. Perfect. We’ve got a solution for you. It’s called a Gardus LintEater. And it’s a special brush that fits inside the dryer-exhaust ducts and it’s on fiberglass rods. And as you …
LESLIE: So it’s flexible.
TOM: It’s flexible. And so what you do is you start with like 3 foot or 6 foot of the fiberglass rod, you hook it up to a drill and the drill is what spins it. You run it into the duct, pull it out a couple of times. Then you add another length of fiberglass and another length of fiberglass rod and so on.
LESLIE: And it’s the coolest thing, because you will be amazed – both, I should say, amazed and disgusted – at the amount of lint that is going to come out of your vent the first time you do it.
TOM: Yeah, it’s fun.
CLARA: I imagine.
TOM: Just Google it – LintEater, Lint-E-a-t-e-r – and you’ll find it.
TOM: It’s a really handy tool to have. Once you have one, you can use it a lot. You can do it from the outside. They’ve got other attachments that help you get in closer to the dryer and so on but it’s a great product, OK?
CLARA: OK. OK.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? If you don’t do it, you really need to be careful because all of that lint is sort of just building up in there and it could be a fire hazard. So you really do have to get on this.
CLARA: Yeah. That’s what we were concerned about.
TOM: And that’s actually their website, too: it’s LintEater.com. So check it out.
CLARA: OK. That sounds great.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, that’s such an important thing to do, Leslie, because there’s a lot of fires that happen in homes because of dirty dryer-exhaust ducts. So, a good idea to keep it clean.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s funny. I was just noticing the lint buildup in my driveway again and I was like, “Ah, it’s time. Time to get out there.”
TOM: It’s time again. Yep.
LESLIE: Jeff in Missouri is on the line and needs some help with a patio project.
What are you working on?
JEFF: I really already got it done but I failed to put a sealer on my patio. And I was wondering what I can do about that at this late date. It’s been poured about 6 months.
TOM: So, why do you want to put a sealer on it?
JEFF: Because the leaves and the grass stain it.
TOM: You could clean it. You could use a trisodium-phosphate solution to scrub it and clean it and brighten it up again. But then you have to wait until it’s really dry, so doing this in the chilly weather is not a good idea. You want to make sure it’s super dry and then you could add a concrete sealer on top of that.
The concrete sealers that you want to make sure you get are ones that are vapor-permeable and that means that the moisture moves in and out. You don’t want to completely seal the brick, because then what’ll happen is the moisture will still get in it but it’ll freeze and start to break apart or spall, as the technical term goes.
So if you get a good-quality concrete sealer and get it clean to start with, certainly you can reduce some of that staining going forward.
JEFF: Good. And what do you call it so it breathes in and out?
JEFF: I appreciate that. Thank you, you guys, for what you do.
TOM: Well, some of the coldest temperatures of the year hit this month and next month, as well. So make sure you’re prepared. The first thing you want to do is make sure you’ve got a good snow shovel.
Now, in our part of the nation, we don’t ever get so much snow that my snow shovel never really wears out. But a couple years back, I decided to upgrade and I found a sturdy, metal shovel with an ergonomic, sort of bent handle. And that made it really easy to use and was a heck of a lot easier on my back.
LESLIE: Yeah. And now, once you’ve got that snow clear, it’s time to tackle the ice. So, rock salt is the most popular for melting ice but it can be hard on your plants and especially the sidewalks. Now, you’re better off using a deicing pellet that are non-corrosive. Plus, there’s liquid products available now, like what we see snowplows putting down.
You’re also going to want to pick up a can or two of a WD-40, like a spray lubricant. It’s really great for deicing those frozen locks in your house and in your car. And if you spray your shovels before you start shoveling all that snow, you’ll see that snow is going to kind of slide off faster. So, lots of good uses there.
TOM: Finally, be sure to protect your hands. Now, gloves have changed a lot since the ones that we used to wear years ago and kind of made our hands sweat. Look for pairs with three layers: a waterproof outer shell, an insulation layer that extends up to your fingertips and an inner liner for wicking away that moisture. That wicking element, that is so important. Make sure your hands stay warm and comfortable when you’re outside in that cold weather.
LESLIE: Kathy in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KATHY: I have a problem with the squirrels chewing into my roof.
KATHY: And I was wondering, how can I – what can I repair this with and what can I put in there to keep them out?
TOM: Now, where are they chewing? Are they chewing through the trim or the soffits trying to get into the attic space? What’s the story?
KATHY: Well, they have gotten into the attic space.
TOM: The holes. Are you repairing those holes or what are you doing?
KATHY: No. I was calling you to see how you could help me, because I listen to your show all the time and you give such good advice.
TOM: Well, if they get into your attic, you can trap them and release them. You can use something called a Havahart trap. And this is a trap that is a wire cage with a trap door. And the way to bait it is to take an apple and put it in the far end of the cage and wire the apple to the cage; don’t just put it in there. But usually, I’ll take a hanger or a piece of picture-frame wire or something like that and I’ll thread it through the apple and wire it off so that it can’t bounce around.
And if they’re in the attic, they’ll come looking for that food. They’ll get trapped in there. Then you can pick the whole cage up and take it far away from your house and then release them. And believe me, as soon as you lift the door up, they’re out like a light.
LESLIE: They’re gone.
TOM: They just fly right out there and they’ll take off. They want nothing to do with you, so it’s completely safe.
Now, in terms of those holes, you have to repair them. Now, you can put – if it’s a small hole, you can put steel wool in it or something like that. But if it’s a bigger hole, you really should simply rebuild it or repair it, whatever it takes. So if it’s wood or if it’s vinyl or if it’s metal soffit material, you really just need to completely rebuild that.
And then, the other thing I’ll mention that seems to have been pretty effective over the years – and that is if you were to put moth balls down in your attic, that does seem to have a deterring effect on the squirrels, as well. So if you spread them …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It will, though – that odor does seep into the house, so don’t go crazy with it.
TOM: Yeah, right. You sprinkle them in there, yeah. Especially along the eaves.
KATHY: But is there anything else I can put up there to keep more from coming in?
TOM: Well, we want to identify the holes and get those fixed. It’s really an entry issue. You’ve got to basically close the door on them here. And so, if we can identify those holes and those entry points and seal them up, then you shouldn’t have a problem with squirrels. They don’t naturally live in the attic but they’re obviously finding a way into your house.
If you’re not quite sure where they’re getting in, you obviously can’t get in there – up there – to kind of look that closely, then work from the street level, walking around the outside of the house and looking up. Try to get a pair of binoculars or borrow one and see if you can spot the holes where they’re getting in. But that’s what has to be closed up.
KATHY: OK. Thank you so much. I’m so grateful.
TOM: You’re very welcome.
LESLIE: Well, Sean wrote in to Team Money Pit and he says, “I’m looking to get rid of a poorly made sunroom addition and hire a contractor to put on a new one. To save myself a few thousand bucks, is it safe to do my own demolition of this and the old deck? Any tips? I know I have to turn off the power to the outlets and the lights but other than that, it should be straightforward starting at the top.”
TOM: Gravity sucks. That’s the first tip that comes to mind. I mean look, demolition is not difficult. It’s a lot of labor but if you get it wrong, there’s a couple of bad things that can happen. You don’t know exactly how the circuits that go there are wired, you don’t know if there’s any plumbing involved. When you take it off, you may be exposing some parts of the rest of your house to allowing the weather to get in.
So, it’s not – it may not be as straightforward as you see and it also can be somewhat dangerous. As you start to disassemble a structure, remember, you have to keep the weight under that and you have to make sure that every piece that’s removed gets down safely to the ground.
So, it may sound easy, Sean, but I’m telling you it’s a lot of work. And also, I will say this: a few thousand dollars sounds like a pretty expensive quote for taking out a sunroom addition, so you may want to rethink that. But I would tend to say that it’s not a job for a novice DIY-er, because there’s a lot that could potentially go wrong.
LESLIE: Alright. Hope that helps you out, Sean. It is a big project. Also, think about how are you going to get rid of everything. You know, your normal trash is not going to take it, so you’ve got to figure out how and where to dispose of everything properly. So that’s another factor to consider.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point because you’re going to have a rent a dumpster and that’s going to cost you some bucks.
LESLIE: Or bring it to the local dump or the municipality dump, whatever it is. But that’s going to cost you some money. You’re going to need a special vehicle for it, so there’s a lot of other stuff that goes into the demo.
Alright. Now we’ve got one here from Ed who says, “My concrete driveway is on a slight slope. The end expansion joint has begun to widen to about ½-inch. The driveway is approximately 10 years old. Do you have any suggestions?”
TOM: Yeah, that’s a pretty common occurrence, Ed. So, what happens is, of course, over the years the slabs start to separate and pull apart. You can get water under there and that can actually lead to more cracking of the driveway.
So this is what I would do. I would remove any spacers that are left in that spot. Sometimes, you’ll see a black spacer in there. I would dig that out, clean out that slot so it’s basically empty down the 4-inch-thick of the driveway. I would basically clean that out. Then I would use a foam tube. Now, you’ll find these in home centers, you’ll find these wherever masonry products are sold. You basically compress this and you stick it into that gap and you leave it down about an inch from the surface. And then you use a sealant on top of that. The tube basically stops that sealant from falling down into the bottom of that joint.
And so, once it’s in place, you can go ahead and put a sealant on top of it. And then, once it dries, it will expand and contract with the driveway and prevent the vast majority of water from getting down there. You might still get a little bit but that’s really the way to fix that once and for all.
LESLIE: Alright, Ed. I hope that works out for you. Having a beautiful driveway – I mean just one that’s well-maintained and even just updated slightly – is so fantastic. It just sharpens the look of the house. So if you take care of that crack, it’s going to be great.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on this chilly January day. We hope that you are enjoying the program and picked up a tip or two to help you as you move about improving your house.
Remember, if you’ve got questions, we would love to hear from you and we’d love to help you with your individual project. You can call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or simply post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
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 2023 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.)
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