Garage Door Do Overs

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 what are you working on this muggy summer weekend? If it’s your house, you are in the right place because that’s where we are, too. We’re here with you, side by side, ready to take on the projects that you want to get done around your house, your apartment, your condo, your co-op. Whatever you call home, if you’d like to improve it, we’d love to help you get that job done. Help yourself first: pick up the phone or post your question. You could reach us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online to The Money Pit’s Community page at

Coming up on today’s show, when you look at the outside of your home, does the garage door rank as pretty much the most boring surface you see? Well, today, there are many styles and colors and looks for garage doors to choose from. And replacing that door can be a simple and affordable project that delivers an awesome return on investment. New data out from the 2018 Cost Versus Remodeling Survey shows that those garage-door upgrades are returning over 98 percent of their value when it comes time to sell your home. So we’ll have some tips on how to get that job done, just ahead.

LESLIE: And you can’t see it or smell it or taste it but radon gas causes cancer. And it’s found in 1 of every 15 American homes. We’re going to tell you how to make sure yours isn’t one of them.

TOM: And solid hardwood is one of the oldest forms of flooring for the home. It’s not only durable and gorgeous, it offers options other floorings might not. We’ll have details on how you can add hardwood to your home, just ahead.

LESLIE: But first, what’s going on at your money pit? Give us a call with your décor, repair, renovation, home buying. Whatever it is that is home-related, we are here to give a hand. So call us anytime at 888-MONEY-PIT.

In fact, we’ve got three copies of our book, My Home, My Money Pit, to give away to three callers drawn at random. So make that you.

TOM: 888-666-3974.

And 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. You could find top-rated home service pros, compare prices and book appointments online, all for free.

Now, let’s get to those calls. Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Mary in Virginia, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

MARY: I’m looking to purchase a home that has a slab foundation. And when I went in, I kind of smelled a musty, mildew-y odor. And I’m just wondering, how would you know that water is coming up from the ground and saturating that slab? And how do you protect a home that has just – that’s built just on a slab. There’s nothing under for water to drain under or anything.

TOM: Was this a home that was vacant or did it have a family living in it?

MARY: It has been vacant for a while.

TOM: And that makes sense. Because when you don’t run the HVAC system as frequently as you would if it was occupied, sometimes you’re going to get high humidity inside the homes. But because it’s a slab doesn’t make it any more or less susceptible to water infiltration. But of course, because it’s above grade, you don’t get floods. What you do get is the power of the – it’s the concrete basically drawing water up from the ground – it’s called “capillarity” – and then letting it evaporate into the air.

The correction for that is the same thing you would do even if you did have a basement, which is to improve your drainage on the outside: extend the downspouts, the gutters; improve the soil slope so that water is sort of shunted away from the foundation perimeter. But I think that once you move into the house and use the HVAC system, you’re going to find that that moisture is not nearly as detectable as it is right now. And if it does become more detectable, you could always add a dehumidifier.

MARY: OK. So it’s the – that smell I’m getting is not coming from the carpeting that’s on top of the – laying on top of the slab?

TOM: Ooh. Carpet on top of slab? That’s a bad thing.

MARY: Well, I mean I don’t know what’s under the carpet and I’m assuming that there’s some kind of subfloor there. But yeah, it’s wall-to-wall carpeting and I know underneath it is basically a …

TOM: Yeah. We don’t like carpet on concrete, for a whole bunch of reasons. So I would be recommending that you find another type of flooring for that. Because when you put carpet, which is largely an organic material, against those damp, moist, concrete slabs, bad things happen. You get mold and mildew growth, you get allergens that form, you’re going to get dust mites, things like that. So, we really don’t like carpet on concrete slabs. If you can choose a different type of flooring, if you’re going to do some remodeling, that would really help out a lot.

MARY: OK. Thank you so much.

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

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lee in South Carolina on the line who wants to build a koi pond. How can we help you?

LEE: Off the deck of my house, in the one corner, I’ve got a bridge going to a gazebo. What I want to do is – 2 feet off of the gazebo, I’m doing a raised flower bed. And from the flower bed – 4 feet out, all the way around the gazebo – I want to do a koi pond.

And everyone keeps telling me that you’ve got to do it in concrete, because it’s – with liners, it would cause too many – you’d have to have too many liners and then sealing them. And it’d be a lot more of a problem.

TOM: Well, there’s a lot of ways to build a koi pond and most folks use liners.

LESLIE: Well, you have to use something. So, you can either build almost like you would a small pool and pour a concrete – I say “foundation” for lack of a better word but a concrete form. Or you can get a plastic pool form. They’re black. You see them at – I know the home center by me that sells koi – it’s actually a garden center that sells koi and pump equipment for water features – has a variety of sizes of these black sort of – they look like kiddie pools, essentially. But they’re interesting shapes and you dig out and then place this in the ground.

Or you can get the black liner, which comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses. And then you would dig out the formation that you like, especially it seems like yours is a bit more specialized and free-formed and has to sort of fit into a different area of measurements that you have specific ideas in mind. So the liner is probably better, because it will work with your specific dimensions.

And you’ll dig out. You’ll have to dig the slope into it, as well, if you want shallow areas or deep areas. You’ll have to dig that all in, as well. Then you’ll put sand down, just to keep a smooth area, and then you’ll put the liner in.

And it sort of, when you put the water in, will start to take the shape of that area. And then what you’ll have to do around the top, on those edges, is you’ll have to use all-natural rocks and large stones to hold that down and hide all of that lining. But there’s no reason why you can’t use a plastic liner.

LEE: OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call with whatever you are working on. And when I say working on, I also mean thinking about working on, procrastinating working on. Whatever it is that’s going on at your money pit, we are here to give a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

TOM: Still to come, getting a return on your home improvement investment is one of the most important measures of a project these days. Everybody wants to get more out of their house than they put into it. And you can almost do that if you install a new garage door. We’ll tell you about the options that are available, just ahead.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: So, you know when you start a project and it kind of takes a whole, new direction from where you thought it was going to go?


TOM: Well, that happened to me today. What happened was my oven was taking a long time to heat up. So, I figured out that the pilot itself – or they call it the “igniter”; it’s an electric igniter – had gone bad. So, I opened up the oven to kind of check out the igniter and figure out what part I needed and got ready to order it on Amazon. I’ll have it in a couple of days. And then I plugged it back in and I noticed that the outlet was dead. I’m thinking, “That’s really weird because it was just working a little while ago.” And I was really perplexed by it.

So what did I do? I checked the breakers, I checked the ground faults, I checked every place the circuit could have been turned off. Nothing, right? They were all on. Now it’s getting interesting. I go downstairs to the basement and I have my – it’s called a “tic tracer.” It’s like a voltage detector; there’s different types of them. I start check – I find the wire from – that’s feeding that one outlet. It’s dead.

I start, you know, checking all the wires. It’s dead, right, all of a sudden. I’m checking all the wires in the basement. Can’t figure out what’s going on. I’m seeing where it goes, where it junctions. And then, when I was ready to leave – because I had to get – I had a call that came in. I checked that wire one more time and now it’s not dead. Now it’s alive. I’m like, “Whoa. This is really weird.”

LESLIE: That’s really weird.

TOM: And it’s not good, because it shouldn’t be going on and off without me touching a switch or a breaker.

So, OK. So, I had to take a call. A couple hours go by and I go back to the oven and I noticed it’s off again. So now it went dead, right? So it was off, then it was on, then it was off, then it was on. I’m like (inaudible).

LESLIE: I mean who knows how long it’s been doing this, too?

TOM: Well, I don’t think it was happening, because I would have noticed – I may have noticed that the clock was reset. Because you know how the digital display will blink?

LESLIE: Yeah, yeah.

TOM: But here’s what was going on. So as I set up a voltage detector on the wire – that was audible, so I could listen to it as I worked my way around the basement – I came to a junction box where this wire went in and sort of joined with others to get power. And as I moved the wire, it went off and on and off and on. So there was a bad connection inside of this metal junction box in my 100-plus-year-old house.

Took the whole apart. Turned the power off, of course. Remade the connections. And I found a burned wire inside of that box. So, it was scary.

LESLIE: That’s so scary.

TOM: It was burning and there was no reason for it. But sometimes, these things happen. So, I basically – there were a series of connections in there. I basically cut all the old wires off and remade all the connections, put on new wire not – so were properly sized, nice and tight, and put it back together. And now it’s good to go.

But you just never know. Sometimes you start one repair expecting it to be fairly straight and it led you in a whole different direction. And in our case, it may have prevented a fire.

LESLIE: But do you still need the new piece that you ordered on Amazon?

TOM: Yeah, right.


TOM: I still need to replace the – by the way, the pilot is still not fixed.

LESLIE: So, OK. Good. So, fire averted, scary discovery, still need to repair.

TOM: Fire averted, oven soon to be repaired, yeah. Yeah, we’ll be baking cakes again shortly.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ben in Illinois on the line with a popcorn-ceiling question. How can we help you today?

BEN: Got a probably 70s, ranch-style home.

TOM: 1970 was a very good year for popcorn.

BEN: Yes, it was. They had this popcorn ceiling all the way in the TV room, uninterrupted, that goes through the kitchen.


BEN: And uninterrupted flow goes all the way down the hallway.

TOM: OK. So what happened? Did you have a leak or something?

BEN: Had some wind damage to some shingles and it came down through the attic. And it stained some of the popcorn ceiling in the TV room. I since put a new roof on but it – yeah, it stained it and some of the popcorn stuff came off.

TOM: So, is the popcorn physically damaged except for losing a few kernels, so to speak?

BEN: Well, there’s still a little bit of staining on the stuff that didn’t fall. But there’s some sections that did.

TOM: You’re going to have to repaint the popcorn ceiling. And it’s kind of a pain-in-the-neck job but it can be done. The key here is this: you want to use a very, very thick roller and one that’s slit. The rollers are about ¾-inch or even an inch thick and they have a slice, kind of, in them every inch or so. And so it uses a lot of paint.

And the key thing is you’re going to want to use a primer first. Don’t just do this with topcoat, because that leak stain will come right through. So you prime the popcorn ceiling first and then you paint it.

Now, if you’re missing a bunch of area of popcorn and you want to touch that up, there are a number of companies that make popcorn-repair products. One of it’s called Homax – H-o-m-a-x. And they have a spray where it’s as easy as using an aerosol spray-can that you basically shoot up there and it will replace the texture. So you can kind of fill in the area where some of that material has come off. And then, since you’re painting, you paint the whole thing over again.

Now, whether you go from end to end in the house is up to you or whether you, you know, just kind of decide where you’re going to stop painting. That’s your call. Maybe there’s a natural place for that, maybe there’s not. But you have to paint it; that’s the only way you’re going to be able to get this to look normal again.

And by the way, one final thing, when you do paint it with the topcoat, make sure you use flat ceiling paint.

BEN: Gotcha. And I guess a two-prong question here, if I still have time. To fill in those spots where the popcorn ceiling came off, how do I avoid this major overlap if I use this aerosol spray that’s supposed to fill in?

TOM: Well, you’re just going to kind of thin it out in the areas where it already exists and then go a little bit heavier. You have some control over it. It’s not going to look like a patch. It will be whiter than everything else but you’re going to paint this whole thing, anyway, when you’re done. So, what we want to do is really just replace the texture and then you’re going to paint everything. And so it’ll all blend in nicely when it’s done.

BEN: OK. And I would plan on doing a transition: maybe a fancy wood deal that goes over to block that TV-room ceiling off from where it goes into the kitchen. And I could connect it to the kitchen counters that extend out a little bit. That way I wouldn’t have to do the non-damaged sections and repaint them, as well.

TOM: Why don’t you do that after you paint the section that’s damaged and see how you like it? Because you’re going to – you’ll be surprised with how dirty and dingy that ceiling has gotten when it has some new paint against it. It’s going to look pretty fresh and clean and might inspire you to do the whole thing.

BEN: And that just might. That’s a very good point. I appreciate that very much, Tom.

TOM: Three most expensive words in home improvement, my friend: might as well.

BEN: You’ve got it right, brother. OK. Well, you got me motivated.

TOM: Sounds good. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

Well, from the top of the roof down to the grass and the lawn, the curb appeal of a home is determined by a lot of things, including your garage door. But according to the 2018 Cost Versus Value Study – a very excellent study, by the way; it’s done by Remodeling Magazine every year – they found, this year, that a garage-door replacement has the highest recoup value of any home improvement project. In other words, if you want to sell your house, you’re going to get almost all your money back, because that’s how much extra your home will be worth just by doing that one project.

LESLIE: I mean it’s really amazing how huge of a transformation a garage door makes. And you can really create some beautiful style there.

Now, a new door can return 98.3. That’s a lot of percentage of the project’s cost when it comes time to sell your house, which is why now is a better time than ever to update that door.

Now, if this is a project that you’re thinking of tackling, here are three tips to help, from experts at Haas Door.

TOM: First, you want to take a step back and look at the home overall. Think about the style of the exterior, the colors on the house and the textures. And with that information in mind, you can think about determining what kind of garage door would be best. Is it going to look best to be a smooth finish or a wood-grain finish? And what color or texture is going to complement that home’s overall exterior? Because you want it to blend and not compete with your house.

LESLIE: Now, next, you’ve got to decide if a solid garage door or one with windows that allows light into the garage will work best for your home. If you’re choosing windows, you want to look at the style of windows on the front side of the home, including the grids, along with the windows in the front door. Then, look for a garage door that has similar window styles.

TOM: Now, you also want to select a garage door that can handle weather conditions for your region. For example, if you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes or severe storms, really, of any kind, you want a door that’s built to meet the Miami-Dade building code. That is well known as the strongest building code in the nation for storm-resistance. If the door meets that code, you know you’ve got a good door on your hands.

And if you’d like more tips on how to pick the perfect garage door, we’ve got a post about just that online, right now, at

LESLIE: Mary in Illinois is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?

MARY: I want to paint a fireplace that’s brick and just want to know if there’s – if you can do that, first of all, and if there’s a certain kind of paint you need to use.

LESLIE: Has it been painted before or is it natural brick?

MARY: No. It’s natural brick – original brick.

TOM: Well, you certainly can paint it but I would think very carefully before you do this. Because once you paint, you have to repaint eventually. And fireplaces tend to get very dirty and very smoky and they’re hard to keep clean. If it’s just the color that you don’t like, there may be some ways to sort of decorate around that color. But I would really hesitate to tell you to paint it.

We get a lot of calls from folks that are not happy with a painted fireplace and they want to know how – do the exact opposite, which is get the paint off. And once you paint it, it’s just really hard to do that.

MARY: OK. I was kind of worried about whether it would peel or – when you say just to – you just have to keep repainting because of …

LESLIE: Well, paint, over time, is going to crack and dry out. And it will get so dirty, just from the exhaust and the use of the fireplace, that you’ll get sort of that haze around the upper portion of it regardless of what type of screen you have.

Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that since this will be its first time being painted, the brick is so porous that you’re going to put a lot of time into priming, because it’s just going to absorb all of that primer. And you want to get a good-quality primer, you want to make sure that you brush in the grout lines, roll on the surfaces of the brick, brush again. So it’s a lot of steps. It can be done.

But as Tom said, if you want to take that paint off, it’s now a chemical stripper. And because that brick is so porous, it’s going to have sucked in all of that color and so it’ll never get back to that original brick look again. It’ll have that sort of hue of whatever color it was.

MARY: Uh-huh. OK. OK. Great. Well, thank you for your help. I appreciate it.

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

Now, radon is an odorless, colorless gas and it poses a real health threat to homeowners. Could it be lurking in your house? We’re going to tell you how to find out and send it packing if you do have it, when The Money Pit continues.

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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

LESLIE: You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area and 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. So, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

MAISY: Just asking about – how can you get rid of the gnats going in through your house?

TOM: They’re eating you up, huh?

MAISY: Yes. I’m about gone.

TOM: Well, one of the things that you can do is to create a somewhat natural repellant for those gnats. And you take apple-cider vinegar, put it in a small bowl and then add in a surfactant, like dishwashing detergent – just a bit of that – mix it together. And then you cover that bowl with plastic wrap and you put a few holes in it so that the bugs can get in there but they can’t get out of there. And they’ll be attracted to that.

It ends up being sort of a one-way trap, though. Because once they get in there, they can’t get out.

MAISY: I love that idea.

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

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rob in Maryland on the line with a building with a dirt floor and he needs some help with it. How can we help you?

ROB: Yeah. Hi. I have an 18-foot-diameter round space outside. It’s a little hut and I have a dirt floor. And just want to see if there’s some type of concrete that I can just pour down there or pour on it and it’ll just find its own level.

TOM: Well, concrete, to some extent, finds its own level. You have access to this space, right? Is there any reason you can’t float it out?

ROB: Yeah. Yes. It’s easy to do.

TOM: Yeah. So then what you’re going to want to do is a couple of things. First of all – this is an unheated space?

ROB: Correct.

TOM: Alright. So what you want to do is you would want to make sure that the dirt is solidly tamped down, right? And then you’re going to add concrete to that, to a thickness of at least 4 inches but maybe even 6. And then float the concrete.

It takes a little skill. You’re going to have to do some research on how to do this. But essentially, when the concrete comes off the truck, there’s stone that’s embedded in it. And as you spread it out with a shovel and a rake, you sort of float it. You shake it with a float – a trowel. It’s like a big trowel. And then the stones sink to the bottom of the concrete and sort of the cream comes to the top and that’s what gives you that nice finish. And you’ll sort of work the concrete smooth and then work your way out the door. So I think it’s as simple as putting in a concrete slab floor.

ROB: Is there anything like a dust cover?

TOM: Yeah. You can – there’s plastic dust covers and things like that. But you want a floor that you could actually use, so the concrete is the best way to go.

ROB: OK. Alright.

TOM: You could probably do something with brick pavers. But it’d be a lot of work because you’d have to cut all those round edges.

ROB: Alright. Well, thanks a lot.

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

Well, you might have tested your house for radon when you bought it but there’s a good chance you haven’t thought much about it since you moved in, right?

LESLIE: You know, radon gets so little attention compared to another odorless gas that we all are very familiar with: carbon monoxide. But radon is naturally occurring and it poses a very serious health risk if it’s dangerous.

Now, it’s proven to cause cancer and it can make its way into your home at any time.

TOM: Yeah. And how exactly does it do that? Well, it gets in through cracks and gaps in basement floors and walls. And it’s a lot more common than you think. About 1 in every 15 homes in the U.S. is believed to have elevated radon levels. And if you do have radon, the solution is called a “radon-mitigation system.” It’s basically a fan, that is connected to a series of pipes, that pulls the radon gas from beneath the slab of the basement or from the foundation walls and then vents it safely outside so it does not have any chance of building up inside of your house.

So, you’re better off to be aware, as Leslie said. The test is very inexpensive and easy to do. And now is a great time to get that done. So, check it out. And if you have any questions about the results, just call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Harry in Arkansas on the line who wants to talk about water heating. What can we do for you today?

HARRY: So I heard you talking about the waterless water heater the other day and I was curious. Suppose (inaudible) I understand the principle of it. But I’ve got a family of about six or seven, eight and they’re packed in and – plus visiting plus the home folks. And I’m wondering about the recovery on those. How rapid is – can they recover to take care of, for example, everybody taking a bath in the morning before running off to school?

TOM: Yeah, they actually recover quicker than a tanked water heater. And there’s no problem with using them for a big family. I mean heck, they’re used for hotels all the time. And the nice thing about tankless water heaters is that they’re, essentially, on demand. So as long as you’ve got water flow, you’re going to have hot-water flow.

And you just want to make sure that it’s sized correctly, because they’re like any type of water heater. They’re purchased based on how many bathrooms that you have and how many other points of plumbing in the house that are going to need it, whether you have one kitchen, you have a tub and a slop sink, perhaps, in your laundry room, that kind of thing. So as long as it’s sized properly and installed properly, you won’t have any problem.

Now, do you have natural gas on this home?

HARRY: No, no. We are in an electric home.

TOM: Ah, OK. That changes the answer. So, electric tankless water heaters are not going to deliver nearly the efficiency that a gas-fired tankless water heater would. So I would not recommend an electric tankless water heater.

In that case, what I would suggest you take a look at is a fairly new technology called a “heat-pump water heater.” Now, a heat-pump water heater uses the same heating/cooling technology in traditional heat pumps but they use it to cool – excuse me, to heat – the water in a water heater. So that can give you a pretty healthy supply of water – that hot water that can stand up to – that could serve all of those bathrooms in your home. But it will keep the cost down.

HARRY: Mm-hmm. OK. Thank you very much. I appreciate your answer.

TOM: You’re welcome, Henry. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

Well, solid hardwood is one of the oldest forms of flooring for the home. Now, it’s not only durable and gorgeous but it also offers options other floorings might not. We’re going to have details just ahead, in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators, next.

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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. If you do, you might just win a copy of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. And we will even autograph it for you. If you’d like the graffitied copy, we will do that for you. We will sign it and send it out.

We’ve got three books to give away. One could be yours if you pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT which is presented by HomeAdvisor. Hey, do you need new flooring in your kitchen or your bath? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.

LESLIE: Tammy in Arkansas is on the line and is having an issue with the bricks on her home. What’s going on?

TAMMY: OK. I’ve got a home that sits on a concrete slab. They’re made out of the cinder blocks. And the cracks are beginning to crack on the outside and the inside. And somebody told me to use concrete with it and I’m wanting to do it myself. So what do I need to do to seal those cracks?

TOM: Yeah, you don’t want to use concrete because concrete is not going to fill cracks very well. Are we talking about sort of hairline or fairly thin cracks here, Tammy?

TAMMY: Well, maybe a ½-inch. They’re kind of separating there but they’re separating into seams of the block.

TOM: But you really think it’s a full ½-inch? That’s an awfully big crack.

TAMMY: Well, you can put your finger up to it. It’s pretty deep. You can see on the outside and you can see on the inside.

TOM: OK. Well, listen, if you’re getting that kind of movement in the wall, you need to have this looked at by an expert. I would have a professional home inspector or a structural engineer look at it because that’s a huge crack in the building. A ½-inch crack is really big if it’s pulling apart. That means that the house is sliding apart at that wall or settling on one end of the building, causing that to crack. And I would like to know why that’s happening.

Are those cracks new or have they always been there?

TAMMY: No, no, no, no. They just started, because the place was built in 1969.

TOM: Yep. You’ve got to get to the bottom of it, Tammy, because there’s something wrong with the house for those cracks to occur like that.

Now, you’re not talking about mortar that fell out, are you? You’re talking about physical cracks; all the mortar is still there. It’s just separated.

TAMMY: It’s just separating. It’s all it is. The mortar is still there.

TOM: Yeah. I would – here’s what I would do, Tammy: I would go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. It’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. Find a certified home inspector in your area or have a structural engineer look at it, get their recommendations and then you can take it from there. If the cracks are that big, I want to stop the building from moving before we begin to think about sealing them up, OK?

TAMMY: OK. OK. I sure appreciate it.

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

Well, solid hardwood is one of the oldest forms of flooring for the home. It’s not only durable and gorgeous, it offers options other flooring might not. We’ve got details, in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators.

LESLIE: Now, solid-hardwood flooring is milled from solid wood and you can get it unfinished, where you would apply your own stain, or prefinished. And that gives you easy, mess and odor-free installation.

TOM: Now, it’s important to note that hardwood flooring is best installed on or above grade level. And you also want to allow it to fully acclimate to the home prior to installing. So, you can do that by just having the flooring delivered to your home a day or two before it’s actually ready to go down. And this way, it’ll acclimate properly.

LESLIE: Now, the beauty here, guys, in selecting a hardwood floor is that it can last for decades. And as trends change, you can have the floor sanded and refinished either to that latest trend or to a traditional color that’ll be timeless. Even distressed solid hardwood can be refinished. So if you want to make a change in the future, don’t worry about it. You can.

TOM: Now, that’s right. For instance, a ¾-inch, solid-hardwood floor can be sanded and refinished two to three times over its life. So it really can last a very, very long time.

LESLIE: And today’s Flooring Tip has been presented by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators carries over 130 varieties of prefinished, domestic and exotic solid-hardwood flooring styles, including Bellawood, as well as over 30 domestic and exotic unfinished options. Prefinished solid hardwood is regularly priced at $3.19 per square foot to $12.49 per square.

TOM: You can visit Lumber Liquidators stores nationwide today or online at

LESLIE: Sylvia in Ohio is on the line and clearly spilled some glue somewhere. What’s going on?

SYLVIA: No, I didn’t spill glue. We have – our carpet in our kitchen is glued down like 20 years ago.

LESLIE: Did you say carpeting in your kitchen?

SYLVIA: Yes, they used glue to put the carpet down. So my question is: how do we get it off the floor without tearing the whole floor out?

TOM: What kind of flooring was it glued over? Is it hardwood?

SYLVIA: No, just …

TOM: Plywood?

SYLVIA: Yes, uh-huh.

TOM: Some sort of subfloor? So, really, you don’t have to get it completely off; you just have to kind of get it smooth so you can put whatever kind of flooring down you want to do over that.

What kind of flooring do you want to end up with, Sylvia?

SYLVIA: We want to put hardwood over it or on it.

TOM: So, what you should do is get a citrus adhesive remover. There’s a number of different citrus-based adhesive removers. They’re not as caustic as some of the other adhesive removers. And what it will do is soften that adhesive. And your goal here is just to get any of the sort of the thicker, chunkier areas removed so that what you could do is put down another layer of plywood – an underlayment of plywood – say, like a ¼-inch luan or something like that. Then on top of that, you could install your hardwood floor.

There’s lots of options with the hardwood floor. You can use engineered hardwood, which is thinner but very, very beautiful. And it’s more dimensionally stable and it would be probably a better choice for a kitchen. Because if you put regular hardwood down and you ever had a big leak, spilled a pot of anything, it will swell up and become damaged. But if you use engineered, it’s much more stable and resistant to any type of swelling when it gets damp or wet.

SYLVIA: Oh, that’s great. Thank you.

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

LESLIE: Still ahead, are you wondering if your kitchen is an addition or part of the original footprint of your home? Well, whether you own an old home or you’re thinking about buying one, they’re easier to navigate and improve when you know their history. We’ll tell you how to track it down, when The Money Pit returns.

TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: We’d love to talk with you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if you pick up the phone and give us a call, you might just win a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.

LESLIE: Alright. And be sure to give us a call here at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.

TOM: That’s right. It doesn’t matter what the project is, they make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros.

LESLIE: And there are no membership feels. It’s 100-percent free to use.

TOM: Rebecca has got a problem. She posted it to the Community page. Says, “I’ve already fixed two pinhole leaks in my copper pipes and now have another one. What’s causing this and is there anything I can do about it?”

LESLIE: Ugh. I’ve had the same problem at my money pit, let me tell you.

TOM: Yeah. And Rebecca, if you do head over to, there is a step-by-step guide to repairing these leaks in copper pipes.

But to be aware of these leaks, the cause is up for debate. It’s widely believed to be the result of a chemical reaction between water and copper and probably not anything on behalf that’s being caused by your water company.

But what you have to do is when you find these leaks, you have to fix them. And if they’re in accessible areas, like where all the plumbing is easy to access and you have a plumber in to do the job, I would rather have him replace as much of that pipe as possible with PEX – cross-linked polyethylene, which is a much better pipe these days – and avoid future holes forming in those pipes. Because it’s likely to happen at the least opportune time.

LESLIE: Oh, yeah.

TOM: And you don’t want to come home to a flood one of these days, right?

LESLIE: Oh, yeah. I mean started in one small section in the ceiling. And as long as they had everything opened, I was like, “You know what? Let’s just open it up and finish it out. I don’t want to deal with this again.”

TOM: Well, if you own an older home like us or you’re thinking of buying one, you probably wish its walls could talk. Well, no talking walls are needed. Leslie has got some ideas on how you can learn about your home’s past. And it can actually help you avoid future problems and make you aware of previous ones, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


LESLIE: That’s right. Knowing your older home’s exact age is valuable, since homes built in the same era tend to face similar problems.

Now, with the help of a quick online search on architectural styles, most homeowners can narrow their home down to a core style and time period. Now, public records also hold key information about your home. So researching public records is a great idea if you’re the prospective owner of a home and you want to know what changes have taken place over the years before you buy it.

So, to do that, you want to visit your local building department, tax assessor or the registrar of deeds to find the deeds, the maps, the plot plans, even building permits that have been filed. Each of which could fill in a big chunk of your home’s history.

Now, maps used by insurance companies since the mid-1800s, those are also a great way to find out more about your house. They’re used to catalog buildings in your area and give exact descriptions of size, layout, materials. They are very detailed.

Now, you can also learn a lot by just observing the materials that the home is built with. For example, knob-and-tube wiring, steel plumbing pipes, those are all common from 1900 to 1940, whereas small, fuse-type electrical systems and plaster-lath walls were used from 1940 to 1960.

And finally, take a really good look around. You might be lucky enough to find dates stamped on plumbing fixtures, like toilets and sinks. Now, if these are original fixtures, you can bet your home was built just after those were made.

You know, knowing your home’s past can definitely help you plan for your home’s future. It all gets better when you know where you’re coming from.

TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about vacation homes. They’re a great way to get away but the unique thing about a vacation home is it’s really likely to remain empty for half a year or even more. We’ll have tips on how you can handle a shutdown of your vacation home so it stays in great shape for the next time you need a little break, on the very 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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