- Are you living with the heating system that was in your house when you bought it? Old furnaces and boilers can be inefficient. We help you figure out if a replacement or conversion to another tup of heat is worth it.
- If you’ve shopped for a house in what’s been a crazy market, you probably spent more than you wanted to. That leaves little for hidden home repairs that can cost you big bucks. We identify the top home buying hazards to watch out for.
- 90% of homes in America are wasting energy dollars due to a lack of adequate insulation. We’ll share where all that lost energy is going and how to cut the waste and increase comfort.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions.
- Keri from Nebraska wants to know whether to go upstairs or downstairs with her new bathroom.
- Kevin from Ohio needs help dealing with ants taking over his property.
- Rochelle from Nebraska need to replace her facia board and replace gutters
- Ed from Arkansas is asking if it’s safe to use coal in a regular fireplace.
- Kumar from Delaware is having a crack issue in his new concrete foundation and wants to know how to fix it.
- Sherry from Georgia is trying refresh and re-stain an old wooden dresser.
- Joe from Delaware wants to know more about metal roofing.
- Natalie from Wisconsin wants to know if she can repair her vinyl windows or if she has to look for new ones.
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 on your to-do list and slide them right over to the done list. If you’ve got a project in mind you’d like to take on, we’d love to help. The number here to ask your questions is 888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your questions to MoneyPit.com. So, as you look around your house, as you look around your yard, we know there’s something you’d like to get done. So, let us help. That is what we do.
Hey, coming up on today’s show, whether you live in a climate that’s warm or cold, insulation is the key to keeping your home comfortable. And now that we’re going into fall, it’s a good time to assess your home’s insulation needs because most homes simply don’t have enough. We’re going to share a new product that’ll allow you to get that insulation done fast and safe, just ahead.
LESLIE: And also ahead, it’s that time of year when all of that beautiful foliage is going to assemble onto your rooftop into one gigantic mess, which is going to clog your gutters. And this is going to happen everywhere. Oh, my goodness.
Well, we’re going to take a look at the most popular gutter guards and talk about what works and what doesn’t.
TOM: And if you guys have a big job to do that requires a construction adhesive – maybe like installing a mirror, for example – you know that that construction adhesive is very strong, right? But it’s also super messy. Well, now there’s a new double-sided construction adhesive tape that is way strong and it can hold 300 pounds with 0 mess. So we’re going to tell you all about that.
LESLIE: Plus, if you like to build projects that maybe require a little bit of joinery to keep it all together, we’ve got a great tool to give away today from Kreg Tool. And it’s the Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 520PRO and it’s worth $99. But it’s going out to one lucky listener drawn at random.
TOM: So, call us, right now, with your home improvement, your décor, your reno questions. That number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or post your questions, right now, to MoneyPit.com.
Leslie, looks like there’s a lot of folks that are planning some end-of-summer and early-fall projects, so let’s get to it. Who’s first?
LESLIE: We’ve got Rebecca from Kansas on the line. What can we do for you today?
REBECCA: We have a room that has the old wood paneling in it with the grooves and such that we’d really like to not remove it. But is there some way we can get the drywall look without putting up drywall, with putting on mud by hand or splattering it and kind of doing a knockdown? Or would it stick or – what do we need to do?
LESLIE: Well, I feel like whatever you put on top of it, whether you fill it with mud or you use something to make the grooves go away and then try to smooth out the surface, you’re going to get so much movement from the walls, just in general. Not that your house is moving but it does. And it gets a lot of movement just from people walking by that none of that’s going to stick in there. And it’s going to end up falling off and looking weird and you’re going to have to do it again.
So, my suggestion is either embrace the paneling look, as far as the grooves, and paint it to give it a different effect or put a ½-inch drywall over it.
REBECCA: If you painted it, would you have to put some kind of a primer so it’ll stick or would you need to do a light sand on it or …?
LESLIE: Yes and yes. You want to make sure that the surface is clean, obviously.
LESLIE: So if there’s anything sticky or gross on it, you want to give it a good cleaning. You could use something like TSP, which is trisodium phosphate. And that’s a good wall-prep product. Or you can give it a light sanding. But if you give it a nice – if there’s a sheen to it, you may want to give it a light sanding but not necessarily.
And then I would use a really good, heavy-duty primer: something perhaps like a B-I-N or a Zinsser; something that’s hard-core that’s going to stick to anything. And then let that dry and once that’s done, you can go ahead and put a latex topcoat on it.
REBECCA: OK. If we elected to do the ½-inch drywall, we’d just treat it like a normal drywall: tape it, put the mud on and sand it and paint it.
LESLIE: Absolutely. The only thing to consider is that any electrical outlets – your boxes, things like that – are going to have to be pulled out a little bit.
REBECCA: Oh, we’re going to have to bring them out.
LESLIE: Yeah. Trim, as well.
REBECCA: OK. Very good. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Chad in Michigan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CHAD: I attended an energy show where they were showing an energy shield or a wrap made out of aluminum. What it was designed to do was to basically block the radiant heat from penetrating your house in the summer. Thus, you’re using less energy, I guess, to stay cooler.
And then, in the wintertime, what it does – it prevents your heat from escaping, very much like the astronauts use from the extreme temperature in space. Since I’m building a new house, could you put this wrap between your ceiling drywall and the bottom of your trusses? Or is there a better way of keeping the radiant heat from penetrating your house in the summer?
TOM: What you’re talking about here is a product called “reflective barrier.” And I have to say that I’m not convinced that it works really well and would not necessarily recommend it. And usually, it’s put in a home that’s already constructed. It’s a little bit easier to put in a home that, obviously, is being built.
But there are far better alternatives if you really want to make your home energy-efficient. I would tell you to look into spray-foam insulation, specifically Icynene. Because when you use a spray-foam insulation in new construction, it does two things: not only does it insulate but it seals every possible little gap that is going to be throughout that building. And when the walls are open like that, you can have it sprayed and it’s going to do that. It’s also quieter in terms of preventing sound transmission. It just has so many wonderful benefits. I would tell you to focus on something like that to give yourself a real benefit and stay away from the radiant-barrier products.
CHAD: Oh, OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Chad. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mindy in Kentucky is on the line and has a flooring question. How can we help you with your project?
MINDY: Yes. We have a really hideous linoleum in our – on our kitchen floor that’s actually been in the house since we bought it. And of course, it’s starting to peel up and there’s actually other linoleum under it. And actually, I’m really afraid to dig any deeper to see how many levels might be on it.
I was just wondering, is it worth the time and effort and possible extra cost to just take everything up?
TOM: Do you have a dishwasher in that kitchen?
MINDY: No, we do not. I’d love to have one but I do not have one, no.
TOM: Well, the reason I ask you is because if you don’t take up the old floor, you’d end up sort of sealing in the dishwasher and it’s hard to remove it after that.
Generally speaking, I’m an advocate of taking up the old flooring, because I think it’s kind of sloppy to put new layers over the old. But I can see if it’s difficult to get it out or for budget reasons that you don’t want to go in that direction. But I would recommend you take it up if you can.
MINDY: OK. OK. Alright. Well, I really appreciate that. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Mindy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, if you guys like to build projects where you have to join boards together, that can be a difficult part of the project. Well, it won’t be if you have the Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 520PRO. It’s a fantastic tool and we’ve got one to give away to one lucky listener on today’s program.
The Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig makes it easy to work with a wide variety of materials. You can work with wood, plywood, composites, 1-by, 2-by, hardwoods, you name it. You can join these boards together with the Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 520PRO.
It’s worth 99.99 and it’s going out to one caller, one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Why not? Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and we might be able to send that Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 520PRO out to you.
It’s available at KregTool.com or nationwide at Home Depot, Lowe’s and other home centers, hardware stores and woodworking retailers but we’ve got one to give away. So make that you. Give us a call. We want to hear what you’re working on, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ron in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
RON: I have an 1865 farmhouse that is in very good condition, with about 2-foot-thick stone walls that are the basement walls. And from what I understand, those old, stone walls are made, basically, of stone and sometimes they put rubble in the middle. Somehow, field mice have found their way through from the outside and I’m trying to figure out how to maybe parge or put cement in between the stones to protect that from happening.
TOM: So, the mice, you think, are coming right through the foundation wall?
RON: Oh, yeah. They’re finding their way through. It’s been 150 years.
TOM: Why can’t you point the openings up? By pointing, I mean add mortar to those cracks or those crevices in the foundation wall, to try to seal those gaps up.
RON: My biggest question, I guess, is: how do I get that part cleaned out so that I can point that up? I guess I should use air rather than water to try to blast it out, to get the dust out of there so that the moisture would – so that the whatever cement I use will adhere. Would you recommend water or air to try to clean that?
TOM: I think you could probably do it with a pressure washer but you’re just going to have to make sure it dries really well before you go ahead and point it up.
RON: Is there any particular type of concrete product you would recommend or cement you would recommend for that?
TOM: I would take a look at the products that are made by QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. And you can find a mortar-patching compound that QUIKRETE makes and use that. Because it usually has sort of a stickier component to it, so it’s easier to press it in those places.
But listen, aside from just sealing up those gaps, just keep in mind that there’s a lot of different places that mice can get into your house. It might not just be those gaps in the foundation. They only need the space of about the width of a nickel to squeeze through.
RON: It’s amazing – pretty amazing – how easily they can get in. We don’t have a lot of trouble with them now as we did a little bit earlier. But I’d like to try to make those walls nicer again. They have the old horse-hair glass.
TOM: Yeah. Well, of course. And that will basically handle both of those challenges. Generally, you want to avoid doing anything around your house that could be a nesting site. So that could be stacks of firewood or newspapers or things like that. You want to make sure you’re careful with food in the house, especially pet food or types of food products that you keep on the ground, where it’s accessible. You want to make sure those things are in sealed containers.
You want to look for all those gaps. If you find any little gaps like that, another little trick of the trade, just temporarily, is just to put steel wool in there. Because mice can’t get through steel wool.
And then you want to use rodenticides. You want to be careful if you have pets. If you do, there are bait stations that the bait can be held by that pets can’t get into. But keeping those in and around the interior perimeter of the home, especially if it’s up on a basement or a crawlspace, are effective, as well.
RON: Yeah. Alright.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Ron. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, whether you live in a climate that’s warm or cold, insulation really is the key to keeping your home comfortable. And now that we’re going into the fall season, it really is a good time to assess your home’s insulation needs because most homes simply don’t have enough.
TOM: That’s right. But with an increased focus on the safety of the materials we choose for our homes, how do contractors and DIYers choose insulation products that are safe to work and live with?
LESLIE: Well, Owens Corning’s new PINK Next Gen Fiberglas Insulation is made with safe, proven ingredients. Since fiberglass is noncombustible, no chemicals are added to make it fire-resistant, which means more peace of mind for contractors, builders and homeowners.
TOM: Plus, its advanced fiber technology makes it feel soft and install quickly, so it’s easy to get the job done right without extra time, special equipment or messy cleanup. To learn more about the new PINK Next Gen Fiberglas Insulation, go to PINKNextGen.com. That’s PINK – P-I-N-K – Next – G-E-N.com.
LESLIE: Cheryl is on the line with a decking question. How can we help you today?
CHERYL: I’m going to have a deck built at the back of my home. And I have a concrete pad outside the door. And when I asked someone to come and look at it and give me an estimate about a deck, they were wanting to put the supports right on this concrete pad that’s back here. But it’s all broken up and all uneven from a large – very large – maple tree that I have in the back. And the roots, they’re gnarly and they’re – a lot of them are near the surface. And so, I was wondering if it would even be – you even recommend that I even think of having a deck built back there with the tree roots and the situation I have.
TOM: So, first of all, this is a patio, so it’s a thin concrete slab and be 4 or 5 inches thick. Is that what you’re telling me you have?
CHERYL: Right, right.
TOM: OK. So that is not an appropriate foundation for a deck. And so anyone suggesting that it is would scare me because in your part of the country, you need to have the footings for that deck be below the frost line. So that means that those footings have to be about 3 feet in the ground. And then on top of those footings, you can build the deck. Otherwise, the deck’s going to ride up and down as the land freezes in the wintertime.
So, what I would do is I would break up that patio and take it out of there. If it’s already half-broken up, with a jackhammer you’d probably get that thing out of there in an hour or two. It actually will come out a lot faster than what you would imagine.
In terms of the tree roots, yeah, if you can get some of that out of there, it’s probably not a bad idea. But clearly, what you have to concentrate on is however you’re going to support this deck. If it’s pretty much a grade-level deck, you have to kind of put that beam in flush with the rest of the floor structure. If it’s going to be up a little bit, then you would basically put the beam underneath the floor joists and support it on however many columns it takes to make it compliant with building code.
But to do it right, it’s got to be on a foundation. So don’t just slap a deck structure over that patio. It’s just not going to be built correctly and I doubt it would pass building code. And it would also – could devalue your house in the event you tried to sell it in the future.
CHERYL: OK. Well, the contractor that I had out here, he was leery of – he didn’t want to disturb the tree roots too much for fear of killing this gigantic tree. And that was his …
TOM: Well, it wasn’t a solution, because the roots are going to be there with or without the patio. It’s not a solution. And he’s not going to disturb the tree roots that much. Yes, it’ll be hard to dig those holes and you may have to chop through some of them. But I don’t think just digging three or four holes for a footing is going to be enough to kill a tree.
CHERYL: OK. Well, I’m glad that I gave you a call then. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright, Cheryl. Well, good luck.
LESLIE: Well, fall is upon us and it’s the time of year when beautiful foliage assembles, not on a tree but onto your rooftop and then makes a big, rotted mess and then clogs your gutters. And it’s not just a Northeast thing; it happens all over the whole United States. Pretty much everywhere, actually.
And one thing is certain, that cleaning your gutters is really a good idea. Because causing water to overflow in a heavy rain, blocked gutters can cause a dozen or more severe home defects, including flooded basements, cracked foundations. I mean the list goes on and on.
TOM: Yeah. People really don’t understand how bad this can be. But getting rid of those leaves, it’s a simple enough project but it can also be dangerous for the untrained weekend warrior. So, alternatively, there are types of gutter-guard systems on the market to choose from. And all of them offer some sort of protection for your gutters, at a widely-varying cost.
LESLIE: Yeah. And I think it’s interesting, Tom, because a lot of homeowners just don’t even think about gutters. And then when something bad happens, probably some significant damage and problems, that main cause could be those gutters, especially if you’re not maintaining them, right?
TOM: Yeah. If the gutters leak, that is literally the number-one cause of basement-water problems and crawlspace-flooding problems and cracked foundations, all for the same reason. Because you throw a lot of water around your foundation and the soil gets unstable and that’s when it leaks and that’s when it cracks and shifts. So that’s really bad.
It can cause leaking roofs because ice dams will form on top of those clogged gutters. The water will back up into the roof and leak. And then, of course, you’ve got slippery sidewalks and possibly one of the worst things: wood-destroying insects. Ever wonder why you’ve got termites and carpenter ants hanging out around your house? Well, it’s because you’re feeding them or at least giving them a drink with all that moisture, right?
LESLIE: You don’t mean to do it but it’s happening.
So, I’ve seen so many different types of gutter guards available. So how do you know what the best options are and what might work best for your house?
TOM: Yeah, there’s a lot of poppycock out there, Leslie. You know what I mean? There’s a lot of claims.
LESLIE: What everybody says, they’re the best.
TOM: They’re all the best. They’re all the best. “Use us. We’re the best.”
I’ll tell you this: if you hire a contractor to do these, you just better make sure you’re not getting ripped off. Because we have seen crazy prices, from a few dollars a foot to a hundred dollars a foot.
LESLIE: It’s amazing. Thousands of dollars.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s not worth it. It’s not worth that kind of money. But they’re going to sell you, not the job.
But I’ll give you some general guidance. There is a type of gutter guard called a “reverse curve” where, basically, it’s like a piece of metal that covers the top of the gutter. And the idea is that the water, because of the principles of gravity, the surface tension holds onto the gutter guard’s surface and drains back into the gutter while leaves wash off. Works OK but in really heavy rainfall, we’ve found that the water will just push right over that and basically end up on the ground because there’s too much force, right?
The other type, which I think has the most promise, is the stainless-steel mesh. This is kind of a stainless-steel material. Usually has thousands of holes per square inch. It works really well. But again, if you hire a pro to do this, there are a couple of brands that are particularly troublesome in how they try to sell you. You’ll find it’s crazy expensive.
It’s interesting. I found one manufacturer that, if you hire them, it was – I don’t know; I forget – maybe $20, $30 a foot. But if you go to Amazon, you can buy the product for, you know, five bucks a foot. Same exact product. They changed the name but they were the manufacturer, so I think the product is the same. I recommended it to a friend of mine the other day that was looking for a DIY option. So, stainless steel mesh, I think, is good.
There’s also these bottle brushes or foam where they kind of stuff the gutter with brushes or foam. And the idea is that it will stop the gutter from leaking because it blocks the leaves from getting into the drains. But I don’t know, the idea of stuffing the gutter with anything just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, so …
LESLIE: Yeah. Because you want things to flow through.
TOM: Yeah, it does. But I think at some point, I feel like it wouldn’t. That’s why I think the steel mesh is probably the best way to go.
LESLIE: Yeah. But I think even the most fancy, high-tech gutter guards aren’t going to be 100-percent perfect, right? So, when it comes to gutter guards, you can’t just set it and forget it. You’ve got to still kind of stay on top of it, right?
TOM: Yeah. And that’s why I always say the best time to check what’s happening with the water around your house is to grab an umbrella, go out in a heavy rainstorm. No thunder or lightning, just pounding rain. Go out, stand back from your house and watch your roof. You’ll be surprised. You may see water just streaming right off of that from a blocked gutter or disconnected spouts. And if something gets clogged, that’s a good way to know it. Just be aware of it.
To the trained eye – I could walk around a house in the middle of summer when there’s no rain and know it’s got a gutter problem, because I’ll see an erosion line at the soil under the gutter. Or I’ll see that the foundation is sort of chipped away or worn away because the water hits the ground and bounces up against the foundation. If there’s stucco there, the stucco will fall off.
So there are subtle signs that somebody who’s very familiar with these conditions could spot. But for you, grab an umbrella, go outside, watch your house every few months and see what’s happening. This way, you’ll know and be able to take quick action on it before it gets bad.
LESLIE: Heading up north to Ontario where we’ve got Roxanne on the line with a leaky roof. What’s going on at your money pit?
ROXANNE: Well, I’m up in an upper duplex and my ceilings are leaking. And I’m just wondering if he has to replace the roof.
TOM: You say your ceilings are leaking. How many places are you seeing these leaks?
ROXANNE: About three places.
TOM: Three places? Wow. Man, well, obviously something’s going on here. Is one of these over the bathroom, by any chance?
ROXANNE: One’s in the bathroom, one’s in the hallway and one, I think, was in the living room.
TOM: You’re going to have to have a professional take a look at this roof and figure out where it’s leaking. I asked you about the bathroom because, typically, there’s vent pipes that go through the roof there that often get gaps around them as they get exposed to the sun. And that can very frequently cause water to run down that vent pipe and show up on your bathroom ceiling. But your problem is worse than this so – does it mean that you have to necessarily replace the roof? Not necessarily, no. It depends on how bad the roofing condition is and why it’s leaking.
Most of the time, leaks occur because of flashing. In other words, the intersection between the shingles themselves or the shingles go around chimneys or where they go in between the roof and different parts of the upper building, like a second story that’s on top of a one-story, like that kind of thing. That’s generally where the leaks form. You’re just going to have somebody get up there and take a look at it, try to figure out what’s causing it and then get the leak fixed from there. OK?
ROXANNE: OK. Why, thank you. Good show.
LESLIE: Hey. And you don’t want to miss a chance to win a great prize. We’ve got, up for grabs, the Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 520PRO. I mean if you’re building projects where you’ve got to join some boards together, this really is the best way to achieve a perfect joint every single time. And it’s great for building indoor projects. Say you like to build furniture or cabinets or shelving. You want to do some outdoor projects? It’s fantastic for trellises and pergolas.
It’s 99.99 and you can check out the Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 520PRO at Kreg.Tool.com or nationwide at Home Depot, Lowe’s, other home centers, hardware stores and woodworking retailers.
TOM: Give us a call with your home improvement questions and you might just be the lucky winner of that Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 520PRO.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading to South Dakota where David is on the line. What can we do for you today?
DAVID: Yes, thanks for taking my call. I just had my 120-year-old house sided with new vinyl siding. I got relatively new vinyl windows. And I’m curious, do I caulk between the J-channel and the window frame on the outside?
TOM: No, you don’t have to.
DAVID: OK. That’s not necessary?
TOM: Nah, it’s not necessary. It should be watertight the way – if the installers put it in correctly, it should be watertight as it is. If they need – if it needed to be caulked, they would have done that. I know it looks like there’s a big gap there but that’s pretty typical. And you generally don’t have to caulk between the back of the J-channel and the side of the window.
DAVID: Yeah, I was just worried about if it rains from a certain angle it’s going to wick down through that gap and then run behind the siding?
TOM: Usually, that’s pretty tight and it won’t happen. There’s no reason you can’t caulk it but I don’t necessarily think you have to do it.
DAVID: OK. That’s all I wanted to know.
LESLIE: Well, if you work in construction or you’re a serious DIYer, you know that construction adhesive is one of the strongest adhesive products that you can use. But the main problem with construction adhesive is that it’s really messy. It comes in a tube and you’ve got to use a caulking gun to apply it. Plus, you can’t reseal that tube after it’s opened and you can’t save any extra that’s left behind and then it’s all over your hands. It’s just a gigantic mess.
TOM: Well, now, there’s another that I think is a very handy option, Leslie. It’s called the Total Tape. Now, it’s The Original Super Glue Total Tape and what they’ve done is they take that messy construction adhesive and they transformed it into a double-sided construction adhesive tape. Except that unlike any other kind of double-sided tape, this tape delivers extreme strength. It can hold up to 300 pounds per roll. And it’s also mesh-reinforced and it works on all materials and – check this out – in all weather conditions, too.
LESLIE: Yeah. So whether you want to hang something inside the house, like a mirror or a heavy picture or even a towel bar, Total Tape is going to do that job. And you can even use it outside to attach house numbers, electricity boxes, tiles, you name it. Total Tape works quickly and easily.
TOM: You know, I even repaired a dishwasher recently that had lost its connection with the countertop. The screw had actually worn out. It was in my son’s apartment and the screw that holds the dishwasher to the underside of this granite countertop had worn out.
LESLIE: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: And so, what I did was I used Total Tape under the tab and then I screwed through it and just kind of clamped it for a bit and it held. It’s been 2 months now. So, pretty impressive stuff.
LESLIE: I mean that’s awesome, especially because it’s always hard to figure out what adhesive to choose for what material.
TOM: I know, right?
LESLIE: And here you’ve named two completely opposite materials and it worked awesome.
TOM: Exactly. And I love that it’s handy to have around. You can kind of keep it in the toolbox and you’re not always having to buy a new tube. How many tubes have I thrown out over the years – tons – that were half done? Because you can’t save the stuff. You just can’t. But this works great.
LESLIE: No. You really can’t.
TOM: You’ll find Total Tape at Amazon or in your local hardware store. You can learn more at SuperGlueCorp.com/TotalTape.
LESLIE: Rosemary in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROSEMARY: Yes, hi. I’m having a problem with the light bulb for the garage door. The light bulb keeps going out and I understand there’s a special one to use but I haven’t had time to check it out. Have you heard of such a thing?
TOM: Well, sometimes with all the vibrations associated with that operation of that garage-door opener, you can get a lot of vibration. Sometimes, that will ruin a standard incandescent bulb. There’s a type of bulb called a “rough-duty bulb.” You may have a hard time finding that in a normal hardware store or home center. I think a better idea is just to get yourself an LED light bulb. I think the LED bulbs are much more durable than incandescents, in addition to being much more cost-effective. And I think that will solve it.
ROSEMARY: Oh, OK. Thank you so much. I’ll try that.
TOM: You’re welcome, Rosemary. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jordan reached out and he says, “We recently dug out an old garden patch that was up against the house. I’m just wondering what the best type of fill to use to bring the soil level back up above the foundation.”
TOM: Well, any type of clean fill dirt that’s absent of any kind of organic material, like branches or leaves or grass, is a fine thing to use to bring back that level soil with the rest of the house. As you mentioned, though, it’s important to slope it properly. And you’ve got to do that with the clean fill dirt, because you can’t do it with the topsoil. Because if you do that, it’s just going to hold water around the house. You don’t want to do that.
So, go ahead and get some clean fill with no organic matter in it. Fill up that hole you’ve created by pulling out that old garden section. And then, once you’ve got that slope just right, you can put a little topsoil over that or some mulch and you’ll be good to go. And maybe in the fall, you could also plant some grass seed. And this way, come spring, you’ll have a green border around your house all over again.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, now we’ve got Grant who reached out because he’s got quite a surprise when he was remodeling the basement. He says that – “When we tore out some paneling around a window, thousands of little insect wings flew out all over the place. It was pretty disgusting. Any idea what these could be?”
Now, do you think the wings were attached to bugs or just wings came falling out?
TOM: Actually, what happens is – I think they’re termites and the termites will shed their wings. You’ll often find wings separate from termites. But here’s the thing. What happens is when the termites swarm, right – and it sounds like this happened some time ago, because he only found the wings; he didn’t find the termites. But when termites swarm and they fly around, they fly towards the light. That’s why you find them around basement windows. Used to see it all the time in the years I spent as a home inspector. And so, it’ll happen in the warmer months. May even happened that spring. Could’ve happened a spring before.
But basically, what it means, Jordan, is you’ve got termites. You’ve got evidence of termites. So your next step here is to get a good inspection done. I would hire a local pest-control pro, have them do a termite inspection. They’ll check all the framing around those windows. They’ll check the area above it. They can search for other subtle signs of termite infestation.
Because if they’re found – and frankly, we know that they’ve been there at some point. If the house has not been treated, even if you don’t find more of that, I would have it treated just to be safe. This way, you won’t have to worry about those termites infesting again next spring and for months and years to come.
You’ll have a choice in how you have this done. I recommend a product called Termidor. It is an undetectable termiticide. It’s a liquid. It’s applied from the outside. And what that means is it gets injected into the soil around the house. And the termites, as they pass through this, can’t detect that it’s there, so they carry the Termidor back to their nest. And this way, it eliminates the entire colony.
Other products are sort of blockers, you know? It blocks them but they could find a way around that. That’s why I like the Termidor. I’ve been recommending that for years. It’s a BASF product. It works really well.
LESLIE: I know. You always love that one. It works really well for you, which is great. And you just want to get them out of the house, because they really can do some damage.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show and we are so glad you are. We are moving into the fall season, which is the perfect time to take on all sorts of projects around your house. In fact, we call it the “Goldilocks season,” because it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold.
So, as you look about your home, as you think of things you want to get done, if you need help, if you need advice, if you need a product recommendation, if you need us to tell you how to compare or contrast two bids, if you want us to look at bids from contractors, we will help you sort out whatever you need to do so that you can always have your best home ever.
But for today, that’s all the time we have. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2021 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)