Fix Leaks Before More Damage

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 for you, to help with your home improvement and décor projects. But help yourself first and join the conversation. Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. Tell us what’s going on in your money pit. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

And now that we are smack-dab in the middle of summer, we’re also smack-dab in the middle of the major summer-storm season. And have you ever noticed that if a major storm hits an area, homes that were otherwise generally safe and sound can quickly turn into a leaking, mold-free mess? I mean it’s terrible how quickly it happens. So, we’re going to have some tips, this hour, on how to find and fix the kind of leaks that cause that kind of damage before it gets started.

LESLIE: And when you’re renting an apartment for the first time, there are many things to consider outside of just the apartment itself. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to make the best choice in where you live.

TOM: And the hottest part of the summer always brings out the most bugs, including the dreaded, disease-carrying ticks. So we’ll have some tips to help you stop those ticks from taking a bite out of your summer fun.

But first, we want to hear from you. Look around your home. I know there’s a project or two – or in our case, about a dozen – that you want to get started or maybe that you’re in the middle of. Let’s talk about it. Let’s see if we can get you moving along. The number, again: 888-666-3974.

Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Richard in Tennessee is on the line and has an interesting question involving an antique soda machine. Tell us about it.

RICHARD: Well, I bought an antique soda machine that actually worked. And I wanted to put the old quarter in and slide the bottle out. But I took it and put it in the garage, plugged it in. And as soon as the compressor kicked on, it tripped the GFCI breaker or the GFCI circuit on the plug. So, I reset it and it wouldn’t stay reset.

TOM: Well, that is totally expected because refrigerators, when they kick on, have a very big draw of current. And that’s necessary to get them going and then it kind of goes down after that. But refrigerators are not supposed to be installed on ground-fault circuits. And as a result, yours is going to keep tripping as it has.

So, your proper solution would be to run a circuit just for that machine. And if it’s just for that machine, it does not have to be ground-fault protected. The reason it’s ground-fault protected – the circuit in the garage is ground-fault protected – is because it’s a wet location. But for a dedicated service to one machine, it would not have to be. You’ll have to have an electrician do that.

I would not, you know, disconnect the current ground fault, because that covers the rest of the outlets in the garage. It could even cover outside outlets or bathroom outlets. Sometimes, that circuit can wind its way through the house. But I would put it in a dedicated outlet just for that machine and then your problem should go away.

RICHARD: Thank you very much.

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

LESLIE: That sounds kind of fun to have that in the house.

TOM: It does, yeah. Well, like everything, you think, “I’ve got the machine. I’m good to go. All I’ve got to do is plug it in.” Ah, not so quick. There’s other expenses to making sure it works right. When that machine was common, you didn’t have to worry about ground faults because we didn’t have them yet.

LESLIE: Right.

TOM: So, never had the issue. Today we do and so, now you’ve got to …

LESLIE: They were far more dangerous then.

TOM: Yeah. Now you’ve got to add the circuit.

LESLIE: Debbie in Ontario is on the line and has a question about concrete. What’s going on?

DEBBIE: My question is to do with concrete – is that we had a cement porch and patio attached to the back of the house.


DEBBIE: We had to have a large portion of that – the porch, for sure, and a large portion of the patio – removed because we had around our foundation dug. New cement was poured. The porch first and then the patio was replaced. What happened is within about four days or so, it – they did the cuts the next day after the pour. But a few more days after that, we noticed two cracks came in the two cement pads that butt up against the porch. And left and right side, the crack goes diagonally across the pad.

We’re kind of wondering – the contractor saw what happened and he’s sick about it. And we were just wondering if there’s anything that can be done without having to remove those two large pads of cement, that attach to the house, and go through all that jackhammering and all that again.

TOM: So these pads, is this like a stoop that – you say they lead up to the porch? Are these parts of sort of the sidewalk?

DEBBIE: The patio – and then the porch is the only thing that’s higher than the patio. So, the patio is level with the cement driveway.

TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.

DEBBIE: And then the porch is up from that. So it’s on the patio itself.

TOM: And that’s where the crack is? Through the patio?

DEBBIE: Yeah, the patio. So the two cement slabs that are on either side of the porch. And the cuts that were made in the cement come up to the corner – the outside corner – of the porch on either side. But then you know how they can’t cut right up to …?

TOM: Right. But these are – OK. So you’re talking about a patio and you’re talking about two cement slabs that are opposite ends of the porch. So, I’m having a real hard time – as I’m sure others listening are, too – trying to figure out what this is all about. But it sounds to me like you’ve got slab-on-grade sections, right, and you’re calling that a “patio” or a “pad.”

DEBBIE: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Correct. Correct.

TOM: Then you have the porch section. The porch seems to be fine. Is that correct?

DEBBIE: Correct.

TOM: OK. So, I would think that the soil underneath the patio areas would need to be especially well compacted before those slabs were poured. Because considering the amount of demolition that had to have happened, I suspect that that soil outside the porch area would not have been compacted. And that would have been really key to make sure that those slabs don’t crack. The reason that they’re cracking is probably because there is some compaction that happened, based on the weight of the concrete and the drying and such. And that’s why they’re cracking now.

Now, can you do anything about it? Well, whatever you do about it is going to be cosmetic, not structural. Also, if that concrete was not reinforced, that’s another reason that it would crack. There’s ways to put concrete in that’s just plain concrete and then there’s other ways that you could do it where it’s reinforced. So if it wasn’t reinforced correctly, that could be another issue.

But there’s nothing that you can do to repair it, structurally, at this point. You’re always going to have a crack. So, what you could do is seal that crack with a special caulk-like – it’s not caulk but it’s a caulk-like product that’s designed to seal concrete. But you’re always going to be looking at that crack unless you resurface the whole patio section. And again, there are products that are designed specifically for that, that will stick to the old concrete slab – which is actually pretty new, in your case – and perhaps cover the crack.

But that crack’s always going to be sort of a place where the patio decides to expand and contract with the seasons. So I do suspect you’ll always see some part of it. So, you either live with it and repair it cosmetically or just have it torn out and repoured. I mean a slab itself is not that big of a deal to get out, even though it seems like a big deal. But frankly, they break up pretty quickly.

And then, again, key is making sure that that base is properly compacted and properly tamped and that the slab is properly reinforced. If that’s done right, with the right concrete mix, this should not have happened.

DEBBIE: OK. Would it be alright, even, just to replace – like cut out maybe 2 feet along that slab and make – just take out the corner square of it?

TOM: You’re going to have that be separate slabs now. Depends on whether or not you want to see that. It’s always going to be a cut. So, no, probably not unless you want to make it an expansion joint and have it be completely separate pieces of concrete.

DEBBIE: OK. Very good.

TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Sorry that happened to you and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

DEBBIE: Thank you.

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the best home service pros in your area. You can read reviews, compare prices and book appointments all online.

TOM: Just ahead, you know someone getting ready to rent an apartment, possibly, for the first time? Well, there are many things to consider outside of just the four walls. We’ll tell you what you need to know to make the best choice in where you live, after this.

This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: And we’d love to know what’s going on in your home. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement or décor questions on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

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

TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.

Speaking of which, I just used HomeAdvisor again because my mom got ants in her house.

LESLIE: Better than in her pants, Tom.

TOM: Yeah, exactly.

So, you know what was great? They gave me three companies and I looked at them all. They all had good reviews but one had many, many more than everyone else and also was squarely located in the area. So we booked that company and they came on out, actually, the day – the next day. They said they’d be there between 8:00 and 9:00 and they were there at 7:30 in the morning.

So, they got in. Luckily, Mom was up. They got the whole house taken care of and now she’s good to go for another year. So, very happy with the service.

LESLIE: That’s fantastic.

Now we’ve got Jeff in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a ventilation situation. What can we do for you today?

JEFF: Yeah, I should vent a little bit, because I had to insulate that attic up there.


JEFF: Yeah. So, you know, it’s an old addition and when they built it, they covered the old gable up. And so, when I went up there to insulate this spring, I had to kind of cut a hole through the old gable end to get into the addition. So my question is: do I need to – should I keep cutting away at that or do I – how do I properly vent that? I don’t want to cut the whole thing out because I suppose there’s some supports there.

TOM: OK. So they – basically, when you added the addition, they added it onto the gable end of the old roof. So when you go up in the attic, you kind of see the old roof structure and the old gable end where the vent used to be, correct?

JEFF: Right. In fact – and I couldn’t get through there. There was – the vent was too small for me to get through to get into the addition to insulate.

TOM: Oh, so there wasn’t even any access in there to insulate. They didn’t insulate when they built the addition?

JEFF: They did. They did insulate but how they actually got it in there, I don’t know. But I couldn’t get to it, I know that.

TOM: The answer to your question is that you want to basically treat each space separately in terms of ventilation. And the best type of ventilation is – actually no longer do we consider gable vents to be the best type of ventilation. The best type of ventilation: a continuous ridge vent that goes down the peak of the roof, matched with soffit vents at the overhang. So this way, we take air in down low, we run it up under the roof sheathing and exit it at the ridge. And that cycle will repeat 24-7, 365.

JEFF: Yeah. The only problem is there’s no soffits in this house.

TOM: Alright. So if you did want to improve the ventilation, you could use a type of vent called a “drip-edge vent,” which would require a little bit of carpentry. You’d have to extend or actually re-shingle the bottom layer of shingles at the edge. But the drip-edge vent actually extends that roof line by about 2 inches and creates a continuous soffit.

And if you go to – that’s the website for the CertainTeed air-vent companies – I know they’ve got a good diagram of one right there. So that’s the way to improve that.

Now, if you can’t do that or you don’t want to do that, for all the obvious reasons, and maybe you’re not seeing that you have a big ventilation problem right now, then I guess what I would suggest to you is to put in the ridge vents, since that’s something that you can always do, and then couple that with as many other roof vents as you can.

LESLIE: Well, are you or someone you know getting ready to rent an apartment? Now, moving itself is a big step, especially if it’s your first time doing so. Now, choosing the best rental for you is key but you have to make sure that you think about your commute and the neighborhood, because those are equally important.

TOM: Absolutely. So, let’s talk first about driving distance. It could be the perfect apartment but if it’s a half-hour or more commute from your job or your school, it’s going to get real old, real quick. So, distance doesn’t have to be the deciding factor but it does matter. Not only does that commute mean time spent on the road every day, it means money spent in gas and that also can strain your budget even more than that.

LESLIE: Now, you also have to consider the traffic patterns around the neighborhood that you’re considering. If you’ve got a car, is there a reasonable place to park it? If you don’t have a car, can you easily access public transportation? How long is it going to take you to get to work, whether you have to drive or use public transportation? These are all things that are pretty important when you’re considering where you’re living.

TOM: Yeah. And don’t forget to check out the local grocery stores, the restaurants, the bars, the social scene. Checking out that neighborhood thoroughly is going to tell you a lot about the atmosphere and whether or not it’s a place you really want to live.

For more tips, check out “8 Things You Need To Know Before Getting Your First Apartment.” And that’s our blog post, this week, on

LESLIE: Helen in Arizona is on the line with a question about some bubbling paint. What is going on?

HELEN: I had my – the exterior of my home painted last summer. And the painter had power-washed it. Came back in a couple of days – a day or two – and actually did the painting. And it was about two months after that, I happened to notice little bubbles appearing under the paint. And I presume that’s because there’s water under that paint.

TOM: Not necessarily. What you have is an adhesion issue. So the paint’s not sticking to the wood siding or the substrate, whatever it is. This is a wood-sided house?

HELEN: Yeah, it’s a manufactured home, yes.

TOM: OK. Do you know if your painter applied a primer? Or did he just put the topcoat paint on?

HELEN: I’m trying to think if my paint did have primer in it.

TOM: Well, it wouldn’t have it in it; it would be a second coat. See, the right procedure would have been to scrape or pressure-wash – as he did, in this case – to get rid of the loose paint, algae or mildew and so on, let it dry and then prime it.

HELEN: Right.

TOM: Because primer is what makes the paint stick. Now, if he didn’t prime it and the paint’s separating after two months, that’s a big problem. And it’s a problem for your painter because he did something wrong. There’s no way that paint should be failing after two months.

HELEN: I had it painted the fall prior and the person did a terrible job. And so, I decided to change colors and have it done again.

TOM: The new painter – the guy who does it accepts the condition of the house. So, if the first guy made any mistakes, then the second guy’s job is to correct those mistakes so that his work looks good.

HELEN: But there was no bubbling after the first paint job.

TOM: OK. I heard you on that. But OK, no matter what was there before, you need to make sure that the house was not only cleaned and loose paint removed but primed. Because at some point, you’re going to – you can’t keep putting layers upon layers of paint and expect every one to stick to the one before it.

Primer is the glue that makes the paint stick. And if he did not prime – and I think that’s probably a good reason that this paint is failing. Two days in warm weather should probably have been enough to deal with any moisture from the pressure-washing. Heck, it’s not much more than just a heavy rainfall. So, I think what you need to do is to contact that painter and have them back and have a discussion as to why your paint’s failing after a short period of time. It absolutely should not be happening.

Thanks for calling us and wish you the best of luck with that project.

LESLIE: John in Maryland is on the line with a water-heater question. How can we help you?

JOHN: Have a gas hot-water heater right now that vents up through – it’s not really a chimney stack but it’s the sheet-metal pipe. And that takes up a lot of space in a bathroom I have and I’d like to kind of eliminate that. And I was wondering if there are any side-venting gas water heaters, similar to how they have some high-efficiency furnaces that sort of vent out of the side of the house. I was wondering what you guys’ opinion on are – of gas water heaters that might do the same. And that would allow me to get rid of that unusable space in my bathroom, for renovation.

TOM: Yeah, you’re correct. There are what – it’s called a “direct-vent appliance.” And there are direct-vent water heaters. And if you are going to replace your water heater, I would consider a tankless water heater. You mentioned space. Tankless water heaters are about a quarter of the size of the traditional tanked water heater. And yes, they are available as a direct-vent type of installation.

In fact, that’s one of the things that makes them so cool is that they’re so small and they’re so easily vented that you can pretty much put them anywhere. So, I think your solution is a directly-vented tankless water heater.

JOHN: OK. And there’s no issue there with any problem with the – you’re always worried about getting flue gas and all that stuff. That side vent – those are safe to vent out and there’s no issue, right?

TOM: Well, there’s rules about where you put them. Like, for example, there has to be so many feet away from a potentially open window and that kind of thing. And it has to be so far off the ground so it doesn’t get covered with snow – the vent doesn’t get covered with snow. So there are some basic rules about where you put in a direct vent. But as long as you follow those then no, there’s no issue about them getting blocked.

JOHN: Great. Alright, guys. Thanks a lot for your help. Love your show.

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

Well, if you’ve ever had a major storm hit your area, you know that a home which is generally safe, sound, secure and dry can quickly turn into a leaking mess. Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House, is next with tips on how to find and fix the leaks before they cause more damage.

TOM: And today’s edition of This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by ADT. Introducing ADT Go, the new family mobile safety app and service. Go to to learn more today.

Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Give us a call right now. We’d love to talk about your home improvement or décor question at 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 Eleanor in Virginia on the line with a decking question. How can we help you today?

ELEANOR: The question I have is we have Trex Decking on our – for our deck, which is – and also the porch – screened-in porch. But on the deck – which is not covered by any roof or anything like that; it’s all open to the environment – we have spots on that, which are – it’s a gray-colored decking. And we have these dark spots all over it. Almost kind of looks like a mold. And we do not know what it’s caused by.

My husband has tried to use a power washer with the soap that is recommended for that power washer. Also bleach with a scrub brush. He has – he can get it lightened but not totally gone. And we’re wondering if there’s – if you’ve ever heard of that with Trex Decking and have any suggestions.

TOM: Yeah. I mean some of the composite materials out there do have some wood-fiber component and they will grow algae, which is most likely what you’re seeing.

Now, one of the treatments that we would recommend is a product called JOMAX – J-O-M-A-X. And JOMAX actually has a deck wash. And JOMAX is a detergent that also gets mixed with bleach, gets applied to the deck. You let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then you scrub it off. I would be very careful with the power washer except for just rinsing purposes. Because too much pressure can actually ruin that deck.

Now, another possibility is that those black spots are what’s called “artillery fungus.” They kind of look like a shotgun kind of a pellet size. Artillery fungus is particularly difficult to get off. And one of the sources of it is mulch. Do you have mulch around your house or around your yard?


TOM: Well, sometimes the mulch that’s sort of the ground much – the shredded-bark mulch – will contain artillery fungus. And once that gets out and attaches to surfaces, like decks or sometimes even cars, it’s really, really difficult to get rid of it. So, if that is what’s going on, we would recommend that you don’t do that again. Don’t put the shredded mulch back on. Only use the bark mulch that’s in pieces. That seems to not have the issue. It’s the shredded mulch that attracts and contains artillery fungus.

I would try the JOMAX Deck Wash and Cleaner. I think you’ll have better success with that than you did with straight bleach, OK?


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

LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever had a major storm hit your house, you know that a home which is generally safe, sound, secure and dry can quickly turn into a leaking mess.

TOM: That’s right. And it’s especially true when wind gets behind all of that water and the rules of gravity no longer apply. That’s why after a storm passes, it’s really important to give your house a careful inspection. To show us how, we turn now to Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.

Welcome, Kevin.

KEVIN: Thanks for having me, guys.

TOM: Now, obvious storm damage, like a broken window, that’s easy to spot. But if you don’t look closely, little problems could be missed and develop into big repair bills down the line, right?

KEVIN: Well, it’s true. And when wind and water are working together, they can really do some significant damage to your house, both structurally and to the mechanical equipment. So you want to check out for them and actually, you want to do it quickly because time is your friend here.

TOM: So let’s talk about wind damage. High winds can rip through exterior walls, they can tear shingles off your house. Good idea to check for that kind of exterior damage first?

KEVIN: Yeah, absolutely. You want to do a visual inspection of the house, walking all the way around it, looking at the claps or the shingles. There are places that you might not easily be able to see with your eyes, so get out a pair of binoculars or a telephoto lens and look up at that roof to make sure that the shingles are still on or none of the trim boards have been ripped off by the wind. Give it a good look.

LESLIE: Now, with Hurricane Irene and a lot of the crazy storms that we experienced in unusual parts of the country this year, we’ve seen a lot of flooded basements and therefore, flooded fixtures. What do you do when you’ve had a lot of water in the basement and it’s gotten to your outlets and any of your major appliances?

KEVIN: Well, unfortunately, electrical fixtures that get really wet or submerged, they’ve got to go. You know, there could be some serious damage caused to those fixtures, so you want to have those things replaced.

And in terms of the flooded basements, water on the outside of your house’s foundation can actually build up quite a bit of pressure. And it can cause those foundations to crack, it can force its way in through those concrete foundations. So you want to do a visual inspection outside and in of those foundations to see if there are any new cracks there or any ways that the foundation has started to fail.

TOM: Now, speaking of flooded basements and flooded crawlspaces, we’ve seen floods in those places that really, you could have owned the house for 20 years and it never, ever flooded. No reason to panic, though, just because it happened after one major storm.

KEVIN: No, absolutely not, because the basement can actually be cleaned out. So you want to get in there. Obviously, you want to get all of the water out and dried out and you want to remove the damaged belongings from that basement. And then you want to go back and you want to check it, right? You want to make sure that you don’t have any new cracks where the water can return.

And also, think about where the water is coming from. Sure, it’s raining or flooding but it’s also coming off your roof. So check those gutters and get the water away from the house.

LESLIE: And I imagine with a flooded basement, especially if insurance has to become involved, you want to take some pictures of things that were damaged. Document everything so you really have a good catalog of what’s been destroyed, if you will.

KEVIN: Absolutely. Call the insurance company early, take those pictures. You really shouldn’t do too much work to the house other than securing it, stopping any problems that might cause it to get worse. So plug the leaks but don’t start tearing apart your basement until the insurance company has shown up and done their inspection.

TOM: We’re talking to Kevin O’Connor – he’s the host of TV’s This Old House – about how to check your house after a storm.

Now, Kevin, when it comes to cleaning up after that water recedes, good idea to use a good-quality disinfectant?

KEVIN: Yeah, I think it is. Borax with some water – some hot water – and some elbow grease is going to do a good job of cleaning that stuff up. And also, keep in mind, if you’re going to – if you’re worried about mold, well, mold needs water to grow and so you want to dry out those areas. Pump the water out and then use a dehumidifier. Get some good circulation or even a heat lamp to dry out those materials so that mold doesn’t grow. And do it quickly.

LESLIE: What about power failures? We’ve seen just an astronomical amount of power outages and ones that last a long, long time due to so many storms this past year. What can we do to be better prepared in advance of this event that could cause a power outage?

KEVIN: We love a standby generator. We’ve installed a couple of these on Ask This Old House.

And basically, the idea is – there are a lot of generators out there but many of them are portable and you pour some gasoline into them and they run for a couple hours. A standby generator is actually installed near or around your house. It is tied right into the natural-gas line. It’ll check itself weekly to make sure that it’s running properly and if and when the power goes out, it kicks on, burns that natural gas to make electricity and it’ll feed the critical circuits in your house pretty much for as long as the blackout lasts. And so it’s a great way – a great, preventative way – to make sure you’ve got power during and after a storm.

TOM: Good advice. And one final damage: insurance is what we pay for to cover us for storm damage. Important to get that claim documented and as quickly as possible, though, right?

KEVIN: Absolutely. As Leslie said, get those pictures taken, make some notes, make that phone call to them very quickly. And again, don’t do too much work. The work you should be doing is just to stop the problems, to stop the leak. Get the inspector out there from your insurance company and let him make some decisions and work with them.

TOM: Good advice. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

KEVIN: It’s my pleasure to be here.

LESLIE: And you can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and some step-by-step videos and more projects you can do at your home and a lot of great, informative articles on home improvement projects, visit

TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by American Standard.

Still ahead, don’t let ticks take a bite out of your summer fun. We’ll have tips on how to avoid those disease-carrying bugs, after this.

Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Leslie, tackled a major project this weekend. We decided that it was time to paint the fence once again.


TOM: And in doing so and taking care of it over the years, the fence has lasted over 20 years now. And that’s pretty darn good for a wood fence, right?

LESLIE: That’s a long time, Tom.

TOM: But just as it happens in so many other projects around the house, I was thinking, “Well, I’ll just get it quickly weeded out and pressure-washed and be good to start painting, you know, within a few hours.” Well, not so fast. After I got into the fence and I started looking at it carefully, a lot of weeds were coming through from not only my side but my neighbor’s side. So I had to kind of go over to the neighbor’s side, weed their area against the fence, then weed my area. And then, of course, I’m looking at the fence now very carefully and finding all these loose boards.

Bottom line: it took me both days of the weekend to weed it and clean it. So the painting project’s now moved off to next weekend. So, folks, I’m telling you these stories because it happens to us, too. Sometimes the projects that look so simple end up taking twice as long. But that’s OK. I find it very therapeutic and fun to take on projects like that. And I know it’s going to look great once we are done.

If you’ve got a project that is on your to-do list, why don’t you slide it on over to ours? The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s talk about it, help you get it done. You can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

LESLIE: Jim in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

JIM: Well, I’ve got a couple of exterior doors in the garage I added onto my house. And I’m getting water coming inside the doors. And two of them are coming through the latch-side bottom corner. I’ve tried siliconing the threshold up to where it meets the jamb. Tried running a little bead of silicone in there to seal that up but I can’t seem to find where it’s coming in at. But every time it rains and if there’s a breeze and pushing the rain against the latch side of the door, it’s running down and coming to the inside.

TOM: I’ve seen that kind of thing before. It’s very frustrating. You’re talking about a standard exterior door, not an overhead door, right? You’re talking about one that has hinges?

JIM: Right. Yeah. An exterior walk-through door. Yep.

TOM: The first thing I would check is to make sure the door is perfectly hung. And by that, I mean it has an even reveal top, side, bottom. And then looking under the door, sometimes with a flashlight you can see gaps. So if you use a flashlight at the saddle, you could shine it on one side and look underneath and see if there’s any gaps there.

The type of weather-stripping you have is the kind that kind of looks like what’s on a refrigerator door?

JIM: Yeah, yeah. It’s that – the style or old style, whatever you want to call it, yeah.

TOM: That’s actually pretty durable.

Now, does this door open into the garage or does it open out to the backyard?

JIM: Inward.

TOM: So, pretty much like a standard door.

Well, listen, if you don’t find anything there, I think you’re going to have to go with a storm door, because it’s definitely breaking down with the weather-stripping.

JIM: I’m going to have to give that a try.

TOM: Alright? Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

Well, now that we are traditionally in the hottest part of summer, it’s also the most active time of year for many types of insects, including ticks. So it’s important that you take steps to make sure those ticks don’t ruin your summer fun.

LESLIE: Yeah. Ticks, they carry Lyme disease. Not all of them but some of them do and they can be a major threat to your health. So you want to be smart about protecting yourself and your family whenever you go outdoors.

First of all, always wear long sleeves, tuck your pant cuffs into boots or socks and choose light-colored clothing that will make it easy to spot the ticks on. Then layer on insect repellant that’s designed to be applied to both skin and clothing. You do have to check the bottle. It’s amazing how some say, “Don’t apply to skin. Only apply to clothing.” So be sure you’re using them correctly.

TOM: Yeah. And while you’re outdoors, you want to make sure you stay to the center of hiking paths and avoid the grassy and the marshy areas. It’s interesting. Everybody thinks that ticks jump. They really don’t. They kind of hang on the shrubs and the tall grass. And when you brush by, they kind of jump onto you or at least grab onto you.

LESLIE: Just grab on.

TOM: Right. So, once you get back home, you want to make sure you inspect yourself, you check your kids for any ticks that are clinging before those bites happen. It’s kind of freaky when you start to find some on you or your kids when you get home but it’s the best way to avoid them digging in, if you know what I mean.

We are ready, however, to dig in to help you with chores and projects around your house, maybe a décor project that you’re planning. Maybe you’re doing an outdoor project to make the space a little more enjoyable for the rest of summer. Give us a call, right now, or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

LESLIE: Still ahead, your refrigerator is one of the most heavily used appliances in the house. And it can cost you a bundle if it’s not running efficiently. We’ll have tips, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

Thanks so much for chatting with us this hour. We love to hear what it is that you are working on at your money pit or at least dreaming of tackling. You can always reach us online or by phone at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros, for free.

TOM: You can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page, as well, at And we’ve got one here from Roshonda (sp) in Maryland who says, “What, if any, maintenance does a fridge need? Mine is only a few years old but when I happened to be cleaning it, I noticed that the back feels a little warmer than I think it should.”

You know, Roshonda (sp), that’s a great question. A refrigerator really doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. And the fact that the outside is warm is actually normal, because the refrigeration process basically exchanges cold temperatures with warm temperatures. And those coils on the back are typically very warm and that’s because that’s how we are getting rid of the heat and replacing it with the cold, so to speak. It has to do with the refrigerant – refrigeration cycle – and the flow of refrigerant through your system. Now, the fact that it’s warm is not necessarily an odd thing for you to detect.

But I will give you a few things that you should be checking to make sure your refrigerator is working properly. First, you want to make sure that you’ve got sort of the right level of cold. Your refrigerator should be cold inside but not too terribly cold. You want to get an interior temperature of somewhere between about 37 and 40 degrees. Also, check that door seal. When it’s not tight, then you get a lot of cold air that escapes and your refrigerator has to work harder to cool the space inside again. And that adds up to a lot of money in energy costs.

What you can do is take a dollar bill or any bill and slip it – try to close the door on it. Now, if you can pull it out, it’s probably a little bit too loose; perhaps it needs to be replaced. That’s a fairly typical appliance repair.

Make sure that you are properly storing your food. Uncovered foods and liquids will release a lot of moisture and also odor that gets into the body of the refrigerator and becomes almost impossible, sometimes, to get out.

And then clean those coils. If you do have exposed coils in the back of a refrigerator, dust them because this helps those coils cool quicker. We talked about the refrigeration cycle and that makes it a bit more efficient. And check underneath the refrigerator because you may have a drain pan that’s under there that collects condensate. And you want to take that out and clean it.

So, a few things that you could do to maintain your refrigerator. But the fact that yours is a little bit warm in the back is perfectly normal.

LESLIE: Man, there’s so many places to check on the fridge.

TOM: Yeah.

LESLIE: You would think – I mean who would have known that there’s so much maintenance to do?

TOM: Most of the checking that we do on fridges are when we’re hungry.

LESLIE: Yeah. “What’s inside? Can I have that drink? Is this still good?”

TOM: Right.

LESLIE: Those are those things.

Alright. Next up, we have a post from Kevin in New York who writes: “ My home was built in 1969 and the upstairs lights sometimes flicker when you first turn them on. It stops after a few seconds but I’m concerned. Should I be?”

TOM: Yeah, you definitely should be. You shouldn’t have that kind of flickering. There’s a lot of things that could cause that. There could be – it sounds like there may be some degradation in some part of that electrical circuit: either the switch, the outlet, the circuit breaker. What also concerns me is that in 1969, we were seeing a lot of aluminum wiring being used in homes. It was pretty much from ‘65 to ‘72. And that’s a real fire hazard.

So, Kevin, I would get that checked out by a pro. You could find one at Make sure that the wiring is safe and determine exactly the cause of that flickering. Whether it’s fixtures, circuit breakers, whatever, you just want to make sure there’s not an electrical fire that’s brewing there.

LESLIE: Yeah, seriously, Kevin. Flickering lights is never good. So, glad you wrote in.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show coming to you on a beautiful summer weekend. We hope that your home improvement projects are going well but if they’re not, we are here to help, 24/7. You can reach us at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are. You can join us on the radio show or on the podcast. You can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

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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