Stop Shocking Electricity Bills

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 with your décor projects, your remodeling projects, your questions about repairs that need to get done around your house or maybe just some help to plan some projects for the future. If you love your home like we love our home, give us a call, right now, and let’s talk about how to make it better. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. You can also post questions online to the Community page at

Coming up on today’s show, now that we’ve all paid, perhaps, our first big electric bill of the summer and been shocked by it in more ways than one, it was a good time to think about ways to reduce that. And it turns out that utility companies are often required to offer programs to help you use less of their product, which I think is great. You know, they’re paid to teach you how to spend less money with them. So, I think that’s fantastic. They may not love it but we’re going to review that program and give you some tips on how to take advantage of that savings, just ahead.

LESLIE: Plus, if you are a gardener, do you feel like you may be losing a battle against the bugs? Well, we’re going to have tips on an organic solution to control a wide variety of those critters and stop them from destroying your plants, in just a bit.

TOM: And you feel like your air conditioning just isn’t doing the job it should? We’ll share a trick of the trade you can use to test your A/C so you know exactly how well it’s performing. But first, we want to hear from you. Give us a call right now. Let’s talk about your house, your home, your apartment, your condo. Wherever you call home is where we call home. So give us a call, right now, with those questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Naomi in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

NAOMI: What I have is my backyard, over the past several years we’ve taken down a couple of major trees. They’ve died. And now, whenever it rains, pretty much I have standing water for a long period of time and it’s really nasty.

So, I’ve been looking online for ideas. I’ve gone to garden centers looking for plants that do well in standing water. And in the Northeast, we don’t have a long growing season, so a lot of the plants that I’m looking up don’t seem to be doing well.

So, other ideas my husband and I have kicked around are putting a floating deck, I see, that you can build out there?

TOM: Floating deck? That’s called a “raft.”

NAOMI: Yeah. Spring …

TOM: I don’t think you have to become Tom Sawyer here, Naomi, OK and build a raft to float down the river.

NAOMI: Well, my husband’s idea was to put stone all over.

TOM: How about this idea? How about if we drain the backyard of water? You like that idea?

NAOMI: Well, how do you go about doing that? We were not sure …

TOM: So, first of all, it sounds like the backyard is sloped in such a way that the water runs into it but doesn’t run out of it. Is that fair to say?

NAOMI: That’s pretty – yes, pretty fair to say. My neighbor’s yard is slightly higher.

TOM: And then is an area below your house that’s slightly lower than the backyard?

NAOMI: After we bought the house, we found out it was built on a swamp, so everybody has drainage problems.

TOM: I’m pretty sure that you’re not looking at the water table there; you’re looking at some water that’s staying around. So here’s the solution: it’s called a “curtain drain.”

And what a curtain drain is is a trench that you construct from the part where the water is ponding to somewhere lower than that in the elevation. Now, the curtain drain is a trench that’s about 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep. You put in a couple of inches of stone, then you put in a perforated PVC pipe. And then you put more stone and some filter cloth and you cover it with soil so it’s completely invisible when it’s done.

But here’s what happens: as the water runs down to that area where it’s ponding now, it falls into the trench, it comes up into the pipe and then it runs down through the pipe and discharges at a lower area of your property. So you are essentially collecting the water, shooting it around the house and then discharging it somewhere at a lower elevation.

NAOMI: Does this require a backhoe or is this something that we can do with shovel and …?

TOM: No, you can do it with a shovel. And you don’t need much pitch either: you need about a ¼-inch a foot – per foot – on the pipe. So just as long as you get a nice, clean trench dug, you get the stone in there, you get the perforated pipe in there, it’ll work very well. And it’ll drain that yard whenever it fills up.

NAOMI: And I look for the wettest part of the yard to start it in and then I go to a – you said a ¼-inch per foot?

TOM: Foot, yeah. And you want to bring it down to someplace lower on the yard where you can discharge it. And the best thing to do is to discharge it to daylight; in other words, have the pipe actually pop out somewhere so the water can run out.

NAOMI: OK, great. Terrific. Thank you so much.

TOM: You’re welcome, Naomi. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Ben in Minnesota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

BEN: I have a really old house, kind of like what you guys have, and it’s built in the early – probably early 1900s. Don’t know exactly. But it’s got a rock foundation and we’re in Southwest Minnesota, so the ground does freeze pretty deep.

And basically, the mortar between all of the rocks has pretty much turned to sand. Some places, they worked on re-tuckpointing it here and there. But it’s all kind of coming apart again and some of the rocks, especially on the corners, are even tipping out a little bit. So I’m trying to figure out what I need to do to fix that, if I need to dig down. I have access to equipment. I work in the HVAC business, so we have lots of equipment and I do lots of stuff on my own. So, just seeing if you guys had any pointers for me.

TOM: So, the foundation is damaged or you’re just concerned about the rocks that are sticking out?

BEN: Yeah, well, the foundation isn’t particular damaged; it’s actually pretty solid. It’s just that the mortar – since it’s so old, the mortar between all of the rocks has deteriorated to the point where it’s almost like sand. You know what I mean? And it just falls out from between the rocks.

TOM: So what you need to do is simply to repoint or replace that mortar. Pointing is the act of mixing up new mortar and pulling out the old stuff and then pressing new mortar into place.

And the type of mortar that you use for repointing is a little stickier than the mortar that would have been done originally. Usually, it has a bit more lime in it, which tends to make it a bit gooier and it sticks to the old stuff pretty well.

So, what you do is you work one section at a time. You do remove all that loose stuff and then you repoint it up with new mortar. And that’s pretty much normal maintenance with a 1900 foundation. You do have to eventually repoint a foundation like that; it’s not unusual. You can slow it down with proper drainage and things like that but essentially, that’s what we would expect, OK?

BEN: Right, OK. Perfect. Hey, thanks so much for your time and the advice.

TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call, let us know what you are working on.

Holy moly, July 4th is this week. Are you having a big party? Is your deck in tip-top shape? What are you cooking? Let’s talk about the grill first and foremost. Well, whatever it is, we are here to lend a hand. Give us a call to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros, compare prices and book appointments online, all for free.

TOM: 888-666-3974.

Up next, has your electricity bill reached new heights? We’ll have tips on how your own utility company can help you hand over less of your hard-earned cash to cover those costs, after this.

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, 888-666-3974 presented by HomeAdvisor.

LESLIE: You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

TOM: No matter what the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros. Give us a call, right now, because we’ve got a couple of local pros right here, behind the mics, ready to help you with your home improvement questions, 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Ollie (sp) in South Carolina has a painting and design question. What can we do for you?

OLLIE (sp): I’ve got paneling. I don’t know if it’s laminated paneling or not but it’s got little grooves in it all the way down and it’s darker than the other paneling itself. And I wanted to paint it. Do I have to do something to fill it in – lines or cracks or what you want to call it?

LESLIE: Now, the lines that you’re talking about, those are like the beading. It’s like a decorative feature; it’s supposed to be there. Is that what we’re talking about?

OLLIE (sp): Yeah.

LESLIE: OK. You don’t want to fill that in only because if you try to fill it in with joint compound or wood filler, it’s just going to dry out, crack, detach. It’s never going to last.

So you kind of have to think about it. Can you embrace the look of the paneling, as far as a core element but paint it a different color and love that vertical lining? Or do you just hate that so much that you want to sort of try to remove it or cover it up?

OLLIE (sp): No, I’d like to leave it if it would make a nice design, you know?

LESLIE: I personally like it. I think painted paneling can be very lovely in the right type of space with the right type of décor and if you choose a good color. Now, the fact that you don’t know whether it’s wood or laminate, that could be a little bit of a concern only because we want to make sure that you have good adhesion.

So if the finish on the paneling, right now, is a little bit glossy or has a shine to it, you want to use a product like a liquid sander. And that’s something that you just wipe on and it sort of abrades the surface.

First, I’d give it a good cleaning, then I’d lightly abrade it with a liquid sander. Then I would prime it and I would prime it well with a good-quality primer. And then once that’s done, I would paint it. And I really enjoy the look of a paneling that’s in a glossy white. But I think if you go with a neutral color and try not to get crazy and just sort of let it be a neutral background with a decorative detail in it, I think it’ll be great.

OLLIE (sp): I think it would look nice. But thank you. You have a good day.

TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Michigan where Roger has got a door problem. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

ROGER: Yeah, I have a mid-70s, ranch-style house. It has all maple doors on the interior. And we’re just putting paint on here for the first time. It’s been white all along and I’m putting color into it and these doors just don’t look right. And I wondered what kind of alternative I have to making them look different, besides swapping them out for six panels or whatever and exchanging it all out. But I don’t want to go to that expense.

TOM: OK. So the doors are wood doors. And have they ever been painted before or are they finished clear?

ROGER: No, they’re finished, though, with maple – they’re maple-pressed doors or whatever or – I don’t know what they called them back then but …

TOM: And so you say they don’t look right against the painted walls? Is that your concern?

ROGER: They might to somebody but I just – I’m doing the trim in bright white and it just doesn’t look right with the colors on the walls and everything.

TOM: Typically, you would not do the trim; the trim would be natural, as well.

ROGER: Well, it would have been, yeah, but that’s not how the house was originated. Yeah, that would be a way to do it is just change out the trim but that’s not …

TOM: Well, that’s a lot less work than changing out the doors. And you would have a lot of options if you were to change out the trim.

So, it may not look right to you because you have painted trim and you have a clear-finish door. But if the trim is really the missing perimeter to this that’s going to frame it all in there nicely, why don’t – you could do this. Why don’t you go pick up a couple of pieces of trim and lightly tack them around the door, without even taking off the old stuff. Just kind of stick it up there, step back, take a look at it and see if it starts to make more sense to you visually.

ROGER: That’s a good idea.

TOM: Alright? Take small steps that way.

And the other thing to keep in mind when you’re doing a project like this, Gene, is just remember once you paint, it’s going to look different. So that’s going to take a certain amount of getting used to.

ROGER: You’re right about that, also.

TOM: Alright? So, I would go out and pick up some trim, tack it up there, see how it looks. Maybe try a complimentary color? You could do a two-tone, something like that. And see if that does the trick for you, OK?

ROGER: That’s a good idea.

TOM: And good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

Well, was your last electric bill a huge shock? Believe it or not, your electric company actually wants you to save money and most have energy-saving programs for you to do just that.

LESLIE: That’s right. For example, some utilities help homeowners power down through periods of high demand with pricing plans that reward off-peak use. Plus, many utilities offer a menu of rebates on improvements that help you trim power or even go green at home. You want to ask your utility company if they have the option for smart metering, which tracks usage by time and then it adjusts those rates accordingly.

TOM: Now, you might also consider adding your own energy monitor. Now, these are pretty easy to use and easy to install. And they give you real-time info on energy use and cost. It’s kind of like the more you know about where the energy is going, the more you can see the ways you could save money on those costs. If you get that info, you’ll be able to trim back those bills once and for all.

888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We’d love to chat with you about what you’re working on in your house. Whether it’s an energy-saving project or an improvement project, the number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Sue from New York who’s dealing with some moldy caulking. Tell us what’s going on.

SUE: I have a bathroom that has mold all over the caulking.


SUE: I’ve tried bleach and water but I was wondering if there’s something else I can do to get rid of the mold on the caulking.

TOM: Well, sometimes the mold really takes hold, literally, in the caulk and it grows into it and it discolors the caulk. So if you’ve cleaned it in those traditional ways, probably not going to come out. So I would recommend that you recaulk the bathroom tub. And let me tell you how to do that successfully.

First of all, you can purchase a product that’s called a “caulk softener.” It’s kind of like a paint softener or a paint stripper but it softens the caulk and makes it easy to get all of the old stuff out of the tub and the joint between the tub and the tile wall and so on. Then once you’ve got it all out of there and all cleaned up and dried out – and I like to wipe the wall with a bleach-and-water solution in between, just to make sure we’re killing any mold spores that are left behind.

The next thing that you’re going to do, Sue, is fill the tub with water. And you’re doing that because you’re going to kind of weight it down. And then once it’s filled, you can go ahead and recaulk that seam.

Now, the caulk that you use, make sure you use one that has a mildicide in it. So if you use a kitchen-and-bath caulk, it probably is going to have a mildicide. I know that the DAP products have an additive called Microban; I’m sure there’s others, as well. And then once that caulk dries, then you let the water out of the tub, because then it comes back up and compresses the caulk. And when you step in to take a shower, it doesn’t cause as much stress to that caulk seam between the tub and the wall and it stays in place.

So, again, if you’ve already cleaned it, it’s probably a foregone conclusion that you’re not going to be able to get that mold out of the old caulk. I would just replace it. It’s not a hard job and it’ll look really nice when you’re done, OK?

SUE: Very good. Thank you very much. I really appreciate all your help.

TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Ray in North Carolina who’s dealing with a roofing problem. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

RAY: Make a long story short, I’m getting a new roof put on tomorrow, so I wanted to find out what questions to ask. I’ve already asked a lot, as you can imagine. But what is occurring right now is that I have very rotten fascia boards, if I’m pronouncing it correctly. And the gutters seem to leak a little bit, so I’m concerned. It seems to be two separate entities but when they put the roof on, what do I need to ask and what should I be looking for? This is – just so you know, it’s a – I believe it’s called a “dimensional roof.” You know, it’s kind of the upgraded dimensional shingles.

TOM: It’s a dimensional shingle. OK. Well, first of all, the first thing I’d check is the weather report; let’s make sure we’re not running into a lot of rain.

RAY: Yeah. Luckily, we’re in good shape on that end.

TOM: Alright, good. Good. Check. That’s good.

Now, next, are they taking off the old layer or are they putting a second layer?

RAY: Correct.

TOM: They’re taking it off. Good. That’s good.

So, what do you need to ask? Well, first of all, you want to ask them how they plan to dispose of the old shingles. I mean the right thing to do here is to put tarps around your house so that when they throw the shingles off the roof, you don’t end up with a million little pieces of this. So get their sort of plan and their cleanup plan for this.

In terms of that fascia, now that’s not uncommon. And typically, what happens is the gutters back up a little bit over the years and the water gets up there and it saturates against that fascia and it rots it out. Now is the time, however, to replace that. To do that, though, you need to take the gutters down, obviously.

RAY: Exactly. And my biggest question is is that I’ve heard various things. Basically, the roofer is saying it’s a separate situation. “We’ll do the roof first” – because it’s stupid to mess with the gutters, as far as he’s concerned – “because if you put new gutters up or whatever you do, it’s going to create a mess. So let’s do the roof first and then address the fascia and the gutters second.” Is that – does that sound proper?

TOM: It’s fine. You could do it all at once or you could do it separately.

RAY: Gotcha.

TOM: It just – one doesn’t affect the other. You can put the roof on with the old gutters or the new gutters. But one more thing I’m going to suggest to you and that is instead of putting wood back up as a fascia, take a look at a product called AZEK – A-Z-E-K.


TOM: A-Z-E-K, right.


TOM: It’s an extruded PVC material. It’s air-entrained so it kind of looks like it has sort of a wood structure to it but it’s made of PVC. So it doesn’t rot, bugs won’t eat it and you’ll never have to deal with this again. And you can paint it.

RAY: And if they put it up properly, it should last, so to speak, forever?

TOM: Forever, exactly.

RAY: Very good. Well, that’s a good idea.

LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

Just ahead, if you’re a gardener, do you feel like you’re losing a battle against the bugs? We’re going to have some tips on an organic solution to stop bugs from destroying your plants, just ahead.

TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Well, now that we’re getting deep into summer, the bugs might be getting deep into your lawn and garden. A great way to control those insects, though, is with a product called Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew. Great stuff. It’s made by Bonide, who’s been helping homeowners and pros alike, for like 90 years, grow beautiful lawns and gardens. With us to talk about that is Jim Wood with Bonide.

Hey, Jim.

JIM: Hello, Tom. How are you? Thanks for having me.

TOM: Hey, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for taking some time. You answer a lot of questions for folks about all of the Bonide products. And the thing that I thought was interesting about Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew is it’s great for organic gardens, which is so popular these days. Talk to me about it.

JIM: Yeah, that’s for sure.

It’s an all-natural insecticide, Tom, that contains Spinosad. And it’s highly effective against leaf-eating and sucking insects that are troublesome in many vegetable gardens and ornamental flower beds.

TOM: Yeah. And that’s definitely – you definitely want to be concerned about what you’re putting on the food that you’re growing to eat, as opposed to the greenery you’re growing just to admire, right? So people need to be particularly careful about this.

Now, Spinosad, you said it’s an all-natural insecticide. And it actually covers a pretty wide range of insects, so it seems like a very good solution.

JIM: Yes, it is. It does cover quite a few different insects, you know: insects such as bagworm, tomato hornworm, cabbage looper, leaf miners, borers. Does a phenomenal job on bagworms, which are a common problem in many areas of the country. And it does a great job on thrips, which is an insect that most people don’t realize they have. But it’s highly effective against that particular insect.

TOM: Those tomato hornworms, we had a run-in with them. And I always think that they look like miniature dragons.

JIM: Yeah, that’s for sure. And they do tend to get a little on the large size.

TOM: And they can really devour your tomato plants, so that’s great.

Now, if you’re applying this particular product – we’re talking about Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew – are there some options? Is it a liquid? Is it a powder? How does it work?

JIM: Well, it – this particular product’s available as a dust. So when someone uses a dust product, it’s ready to use right out of the container.


JIM: It’s also available in a liquid ready-to-use formulation. And it’s also available in hose-end, which is one where they just hook up their hose and spray it on the plants that they want to spray. And then also available in a concentrate, if they have large areas that they need to treat.

TOM: So it really depends on the size of area that you want to treat and I guess, also, of course, weather conditions. With the dust version, you want to be conscious of the wind direction. And perhaps, if you’ve just got a small area to treat, that might be a good option. But as you say, with the ready-to-use formulations, you have the option to apply it in a wide range, as well.

Now, what time of day is it wise to apply a product like this? Is it an early-morning thing?

JIM: Tom, in the instance of a dust, the ideal time to apply that would be early in the morning, when there’s dew or right after a rain, that type of thing, so it adheres to the foliage.

TOM: OK. So it sticks? Right.

JIM: But the overall common denominator, when you apply a pesticide like this insecticide, is to apply it late in the day when there’s not many pollinators visiting the plant. So, late in the day, late in the evening, that would be ideal.

TOM: So when we talk about pollinators, we’re talking about bees and other insects that might be beneficial?

JIM: Yeah, bees and other beneficial insects, yes.

TOM: Now, is this a product that can be used inside? Or is it strictly an outside product?

JIM: This is strictly an outside product, Tom. It has an outdoor-use label and it has no houseplants on the label, so the homeowner should only use this for outdoor plants.

TOM: Talking to Jim Wood – he’s an expert with Bonide Products; they’ve been making products for over 90 years to help us grow beautiful lawns and gardens – about Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew.

So, Jim, what are some of the questions that you will get this time of year here that we’ve kicked off summer and folks are starting to see these gardens bloom and their lawns get green? What are kind of questions that you guys get at Bonide HQ that folks are struggling with?

JIM: Well, we find that at this time of year, albeit a little bit of a late start to the spring and summer season, we’re finding a fair amount of insect questions and also disease questions. And there’s a variety of products that we sell that can take care of these particular insects and diseases. And it’s just a matter of identifying them properly so we can make the right recommendation on products.

But as we get into the summer season, Captain Jack’s turns out to be a pretty good insecticide for controlling a wide array of insects.

TOM: The product called Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew. It’s made by Bonide Products. You can learn more at That’s

Jim Wood, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

JIM: Thank you, Tom. Take care now.

LESLIE: Still ahead, is your air conditioner doing a good job with keeping up to the demand or is it an energy-waster? We’re going to share a simple test that can give you the answer, next.

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, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Johanna from Michigan who wants to get out and enjoy the deck. How can we help you with that project?

JOHANNA: Hey. We’re getting ready to put a deck on the back of our house. It’s going to be about 20×20. And we’re looking at the composite products and in doing some research, I have come across some hair-raising images of black mold, chipping, cracking, crumbling and so on. And I would just like to get your opinion on the composite decking and if it truly holds up the way it says it does or if there are things we need to look out for.

TOM: I think it absolutely does hold up. Originally, the very first composite products that were out there had wood fiber in them, as well as the plastics. And the wood fiber would tend to grow sometimes algae and things like that and people didn’t like that.

I think it’s a perception issue. If you think that there is zero maintenance – “I’m never going to have to do anything at all” – you’re not going to find any product like that. Because even though it’s composite, it’s going to get dirty, it may grow a bit of algae and need to be cleaned once in a while. But realistically, I think it’s going to stand up a lot better than pressure-treated.

Just give you an example. My son recently completed his Eagle Scout project about a year ago. And his project was to build a 30-foot bridge across a stream. And we chose, for that project, composite decking. This is going to be in a park, it’s going to get lots and lots and lots of foot traffic. That’s been up now for a year and it still looks as good as the day we put it down.

So, I think composite is a good choice. Stick with a name brand; stick with Trex, for example. Good product, good history. And I think it’s going to cut down on the maintenance overall and it’s going to look terrific at the same time. And you won’t have to paint it and stain it and all that.

Now, you realize that you do – the framing of this is all done through standard pressure-treated, right?

JOHANNA: Right, right. And we will have benches and stuff built in and we’re going to use, I think, cedar for that.

TOM: OK. Well, I mean you can use composite for the built-in benches, too. Anything that’s going to be exposed like that, there’s no reason not to use the composite.

JOHANNA: And it’s a very sunny area, so …

TOM: Yeah, if you have a lot of sun, you really won’t have a lot of problems with mildew and algae growth, because the sun is a very natural mildicide. It’s usually the real shady decks that have the issues.

JOHANNA: Yeah. The images I saw were from ‘07, ‘08. So it made me think, too, maybe there was a bad run at that time?

TOM: And you know what? Composite has changed in the last five years, too.

JOHANNA: OK. Well, good. Thank you very much.

TOM: Alright, Johanna. Good luck with that project and let us know when the party is, OK?

JOHANNA: Hey, it’s next Friday.

TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

JOHANNA: Thanks.

LESLIE: So is your A/C on but your house just doesn’t seem to be getting cool? Well, there’s a quick and easy way to check if everything is working OK without calling in a pro.

TOM: Yep. All you need to do is take a thermometer, like a refrigerator thermometer, and then measure the airflow at the supply duct and then the return duct. Now, try to choose ducts that are nearest the blower, because they’re going to be the strongest. The temperature difference between the two should be between 12 and 20 degrees. If it’s not, your system may not be running efficiently and probably needs refrigerant. And that can be added by your local HVAC pro. But if it’s closer to that 12 degree mark – I’ve seen it 8, 10, 12 – just think about it: your A/C system has to run a lot longer to cool the house. And the longer it runs, the more it costs you. So, making sure that that system is cooling properly is key to cutting back on cooling costs.

LESLIE: Alright. Now up, we’ve got Paul calling in from Tennessee who’s got an issue with a water pump. Tell us what’s going on.

PAUL: I’m getting some air in this well water. The well is six-and-a-half years old, as is the house. And it goes down 350 feet and the casing goes down 105 feet where they grouted it. When they first put it in, I was bothered by the amount of turbidity I had in it and I was changing the whole-house filter about once a week.

And I went back to the drilling company and they said, “Well, it would take about three months to quit that.” Well, it was 36 months. And then after about four years, I started getting some water hammer in the cold water, particularly in the basement. Although upstairs, it’ll do it, too.

But then I’m getting air out of the faucets upstairs and it’s collecting air from somewhere and I can’t figure out where. And as far as I know, the well tank, with the bladder in it – the 40 pounds of air pressure hold the bladder. That seems to be OK, Tom.

TOM: OK. Yeah, that was the first thing I was going to think: that if you had a leak in that bladder tank, that that would cause that. Other possible causes are bad siphons but I’m not quite sure how you could test that without having all the gear that you would need.

Have you had the well company come back and take another look at this, specifically for the air-bubble problem?

PAUL: No. Because it’s been quite a while and they – the guy they used to have there at the company, in the daytime, didn’t seem to know much about it. In fact, when he told me 3 months it was going to clear up and it was 36 months, I thought, “Maybe I’m talking to the wrong guy.” But I haven’t gotten a hold of him.

TOM: Yeah. Well, he told you 3 months because his warranty was 90 days, right?

PAUL: Yeah.

TOM: Paul, obviously, we’re getting air into that system and if it’s not coming through the bladder tank, I’m not quite sure where it’s coming in. And I think you’re going to have to get a well expert there – a real expert – that understands these things and try to see if there’s any way they can determine exactly how that air is getting in.

Do you have another well company that you might try?

PAUL: Yeah, there’s several of them here because this area is very rural. We’re right at the edge of the Smokies.

TOM: I would try another well company, because you didn’t have good luck with the first one, and see if you can get to the bottom of it. But I agree with you: if it’s not the tank, it more than likely is the pump.

PAUL: OK. Well, very good. And thank you. I will try someone here local, then, and see if they can build (ph) it out.

TOM: Alright, Paul. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Ed in Tennessee on the line who has a question about a crawlspace. How can we help you today?

ED: I’m thinking about putting my dogs in my crawlspace. I’ve got a large crawlspace and I was wanting to – they’re big dogs and I was going to take and build beds out of treated lumber and put shavings in them – cedar shavings. And just wondering if there’s something I haven’t thought about doing that, if there’s a downside to it.

TOM: Well, are they housetrained? Are they going to treat the crawlspace like the backyard, so to speak?

ED: They’re housetrained.

TOM: As long as they’re going to keep it clean down there, my friend, I don’t see any reason why you might not want to do that. It certainly will be cool and comfortable for them in that space in the summer.

ED: That’s what I was thinking, so …

TOM: You know, it’s pretty much like leaving them outside except they’ve got a little shade.

ED: Right.

TOM: But as long as they’re not going to cause any problems in there and use it as a bathroom, then I wouldn’t worry about it.

ED: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

Well, roof leaks, they can be tough to fix. But leaks around your chimney can be even worse, especially since they’re usually repaired in all the wrong ways. We’re going to talk you through the step-by-step to fix chimneys the right way, after this.

TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can find top-rated home pros, compare prices and book appointments online, all for free.

And hey, online, right now at, we’ve got a great post on the top five ways to reduce hurricane damage. You can check that out and learn how to keep your home and your family safe. That’s online, right now, at

LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re learning about keeping your family safe, post your question. We’ll help you out with whatever it is you are working on.

And Jen from Oregon posted in the Community section. She writes: “After an especially bad rainstorm, water started leaking into the ceilings and walls around the chimney. I called a contractor out who suggested sealing the chimney area with silicone. My roof’s in good shape and only five years old. Does this seem like the right fix?”

TOM: No. Because what happens is contractors try to repair these chimneys by putting more sealant on them. Typically, if that chimney flashing is going to leak, it probably wasn’t put on right in the first place. Chimney flashing should be a two-piece …

LESLIE: Or sometimes not at all.

TOM: Yeah. It should be a two-piece system. It should be a base flashing that goes under the roof shingles and up against the side of the chimney and then a counterflashing, which goes into the mortar joints of the chimney and then over that base flashing. You need that because they’re going to move differently. The chimney is going to expand and contract differently than the roof, especially with the wind, which actually can move a chimney, as well. So if that chimney flashing is not assembled properly, you will get leaks. And by sealing it, you’re just delaying the inevitable, which is more leaks.

So I say take the flashing off and redo it. And this way, it’ll never leak again.

LESLIE: Now, wait a second. You said the chimney actually moves in the wind? Is it supposed to?

TOM: Yeah, it actually does. I’ll tell you, as a home inspector, sometimes up on a – I was up on a roof kind of grabbing a chimney to check a few things. And if I didn’t – if I wasn’t careful, I could actually push it away from the house. So, yeah, they do move a little bit. You’d be surprised. But they expand and contract and the wind moves them. And that’s why that flashing joint is designed to move. And if it’s just sealed it place, it’s going to break free and then leak again.

Would you like an easy way to spruce up your patio this summer? Leslie tells us how to create a unique area rug that totally stands up to the weather, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

Leslie, rugs aren’t usually something you can put outside but this one you can.

LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? And this is project I really, really love. It’s definitely a confidence booster. If you don’t feel like you’re super crafty or that talented of an artist, there are ways to create this project and be super successful with very limited skills. I’m talking about a painted rug that you can do right outside on your concrete patio.

Now, first of all, you’ve got to make sure that surface is prepped. Because if you paint a dirty surface, it’s never going to last and it’s just going to wear off. And you want to really create something that’s going to stay. So to clean it, you want to mop it with one cup of vinegar per one cup of water and then spray it away with the hose. Now, once that’s all dried off, you want to mark off the area that you’re creating this faux rug with painter’s tape. And make sure you get those lines straight and sort of create that perimeter.

Now, you can go ahead and use concrete paint. And you get it at most home improvement stores and you can tint it to any color that you want. So go ahead and paint that background color first and then let it dry overnight. Of course, you want to do this when you know the forecast isn’t calling for rain for a couple of days so it has time to really dry and really set.

Then you go ahead and add the detail to the rug. Now, this could be as simple as using stencils to create the design. Or if you’re a little bit more crafty and arty, you can hand-paint something. I mean if you Google “rugs,” go ahead and look at all the different types of rugs out there. Find patterns you like, find colors you like. You can find inspiration right there and then you can go ahead and create that look for your own home. Once it’s all done, you want to finish it with three coats of a water-based polyurethane and let it dry completely.

Once you’re done, that drab slab of concrete is now a complete, unique focal point and you’re going to love it. Everybody else is going to be so, so thrilled with your end result.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, we are in hurricane season right now. And even if you’re not in a hurricane area, there are an awful lot of severe storms rolling around the country. So here’s a question: if an emergency is declared, will your home be ready to go? Can you get out quick? We’re going to explain exactly how to do just that, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


(Copyright 2018 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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