Do-Overs: Solutions for Potholes, Cracks and Stains

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 home improvement projects. Whether it’s décor, remodeling, new construction, whether you’re going to do it yourself or hire it out, we’d love to help you get those projects done the right way the first time. You can help yourself first, though, by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your question, right now, to The Money Pit’s Community page at

Coming up on today’s show, from cracks to potholes to just general wear and tear, asphalt driveways need a lot of regular TLC to be able to stand up to the test of time, not to mention all of the road salt that lies ahead. We’re going to have the step-by-step to make sure yours is ready for the rough weather, in just a bit.

LESLIE: And updating your home with beautiful, new flooring is one of the most popular projects for this time of year. But is this a project that you can do yourself? We’ll sort out the pros and the cons.

TOM: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the perfect product to help you clean up your outdoor furniture for the season with all that dirt, mildew, mold and general grime that might have it covered right now. We’re giving away Spray & Forget’s Outdoor Furniture Cleaner. It’s the go-to product to really spruce that furniture right back up.

We’ve got a supply going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Ken in Illinois might have an issue with a tree causing some problems with the foundation. What’s going on?

KEN: Well, I have got a tree or – either that or a very stubborn, big weed that is growing right next to my foundation.

TOM: Now, does it appear to be causing any issues? Or you’re not seeing any cracks in the foundation, are you?

KEN: Not yet. Because it’s probably about the size of maybe between a quarter and a half-dollar.

TOM: Yeah, this is kind of a nuisance right now. And as long as it’s not, you know, part of your prized tree collection, I would not let it continue to grow that close to the foundation. I would cut it away.

I mean a lot of folks are concerned about the impact of roots on foundations. And for the level of concern, the times I actually find scenarios where roots have actually impacted a foundation are rare.


TOM: So, it’s nothing to panic over but it’s not wise to allow anything like that to grow that close to the foundation, especially at this early stage. So I would definitely cut it back.

KEN: Every time I cut it back, it just keeps growing. So, I want to somehow get rid of it and I don’t know how to actually kill it.

TOM: So, can’t you just dig it out?

KEN: Well, you know what? I would but we just had a termite treatment around there. And they told me not to disturb the dirt.

TOM: Oh, I get it. Yeah. You don’t want to disturb the treatment chemicals, yeah.

KEN: Right.

TOM: Well, I tell you what, I think that if you were to dig carefully around it and just cut it down below the surface a little bit, you probably wouldn’t have much effect on those treatment chemicals.

KEN: On the treatment? OK. Well, I might …

TOM: Yeah, I just wouldn’t pull dirt out and put in fresh dirt or anything like that. I would just try to put back what I took out.


TOM: But I really don’t think it’s going to affect you.

KEN: OK. Well, we’ll give that a try.

TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Ken. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

KEN: Thank you. Have a good day.

LESLIE: Suzanne from South Dakota is on the line who’s got some unwanted visitors in the house.

What have you got going on over there? Some carpenter ants?

SUZANNE: Well, we’re not sure where. We don’t see what they’re doing but – and this isn’t the first time. But it seems like in the spring and early summer we get quite a few in the house. And we were just needing to try to get rid of them somehow.

TOM: They may be a different type of ant. But look, here’s the bottom-line answer, Suzanne. If you’re having a significant ant infestation, there are always things that you can do that are low-toxic and sort of natural remedies, like putting Borax around and baking soda and things like that. But truth be told, if you really want to get rid of these insects kind of once and for all – if you want to do it once, do it right – you do need the help of a professional exterminator that’s licensed and has access to the proper products.

Today, the products that are put down to control insects are very well engineered and very heavily tested and monitored. It takes a company an extraordinary amount of time and expense to get their products approved. And when they come in and apply these products, they’re designed not to kill everything in sight but just to basically help you eliminate the insect that you’re trying to avoid which, in this case, are your ants.

So, if it’s a significant population of ants, you’re seeing them frequently, don’t tolerate it. It’s going to be a nuisance to you, even if you kind of – in fits and spurts was able to manage them with some over-the-counter products. If they’re just going to be a constant presence, I would hire a pro to exterminate them.

I would tell you to go to and use that website to find exterminators in your area that are highly reviewed by your neighbors, because that’s how that works. And then select one and have the house treated. OK?

SUZANNE: I see. OK. Thank you very much.

TOM: You’re welcome, Suzanne. 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. I hope you guys had a fantastic Labor Day weekend. I know, for me, the kids are finally back at school. And this time, I’ve got two at school all day, all the time. How amazing is this? What am I going to redo first?

What are you guys going to redo first? Are you painting? Are you cleaning the upholstery? What are you doing to get the house back to yours? Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to

TOM: Just ahead, there’s an old saying that good fences make great neighbors. But that’s only if you can get the fence built. We’re going to have some tips to make that project a lot easier, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Standing by to take your calls, your questions to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros, compare prices and book appointments online, all for free.

And after the long summer, if your outside furniture is looking a bit dirty or moldy, the best product to spruce it up is Spray & Forget’s Outdoor Furniture Cleaner. And we’ve got a supply of just that to give away to one listener who calls in their home improvement question or posts it, online, at

LESLIE: Yeah. I’ve got to say the best part about Spray & Forget Outdoor Furniture Cleaner is it’s a no-rinse formula. So it’s going to remove the dirt, grime, all those bird droppings, sap, all the yucky stuff that comes from the trees right from the fabric and the hard surfaces. It also will remove green and black biological stains that you find are caused by algae or mold or even mildew.

You can use it on patio furniture, the furniture covers, the grill, the grill cover, awnings, hammocks, flags, you name it. Any outdoor surface you can get clean. It also gives you UV protection and helps to keep the color from fading over time.

Check them out at

TOM: The value of the Spray & Forget Outdoor Furniture Cleaner is 29.90. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Linda from Rhode Island on the line who’s having a hard time being patriotic.

What’s going on, Linda?

LINDA: Well, what I have – the flagpole I have is the actual bracket that you put the aluminum pole into.


LINDA: And I was trying to attach it to the front column, which is aluminum, on my porch.


LINDA: The column is not perfectly smooth. It’s variegated with indents.

TOM: OK. Right.

LINDA: And it is right up close to the frame of the door.


LINDA: So, I put one – I was able to put one screw in that came with it. And when I put the other screw in, it held for maybe a day the first day the flag was up.

TOM: Right.

LINDA: And the next time I went to put it up, the other screw – one of the screws pulled out.

TOM: Just popped out, yeah. OK.


TOM: So, let me – you want to put this on the column. You say the column is next to your door? Is that right?

LINDA: Right next to the doorframe. It’s a very small area but the whole area in the front is small.

TOM: Alright. So, a couple of ideas. First of all, in a scenario like that, the hardware that comes with the bracket is probably not good enough. Because what you want is a screw that’s going to go deep into that column or deep through the column. And if, in your case, the column is part of the front façade of the house, it would go into the frame. So, a longer screw is going to be helpful.

And the second thing is that you’re going to want to pilot-hole those screws before you put them in, not just try to force them into the column metal. So you’re going to want to use a drill that is smaller than the screw. If you can imagine a screw has the threads and has sort of the solid part in the middle, you want the pilot drill to be just a little bit smaller than that solid part of metal in the middle of the screw.

Now, the other thing that you could possibly do – if you’re having trouble because, as you described, it’s uneven and sort of variegated, I think, was the word you used – is you could put another block on that column first. Now, you could do this with metal, you could do it with a piece of oak, like wood that was finished. And you would attach that really solidly and then you put the bracket on top of that. So, this way, you’ll have another piece in between but it might make, collectively, for a more secure installation by not putting the bracket right on that variegated, uneven column.

So, those are a couple of options for you. But I think you’re going to need better hardware, not just what came with the bracket. Because you’re right: it has to be really secure, especially when that flag starts whipping in the wind. Those brackets take a lot of force. And if it’s not held in well, it’s going to pop out.

LINDA: Oh, well, thank you ever so much. I certainly will take your advice and I will try it.

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

LINDA: Thank you.

TOM: Well, you know, it used to be that when you wanted to work with concrete for small projects, like maybe setting a fence post, it was pretty much a hassle because you had to buy all the raw materials, you had to mix them up. You probably had to use tools like your garden wheelbarrow or your garden hoe and then clean them off before the concrete became permanently attached to the tools. It was a big mess.

LESLIE: Well, QUIKRETE has made it a lot easier with their Fast-Setting Concrete in the red bag. It’s a special blend of fast-setting cements, sand and gravel that are designed to set in about 20 to 40 minutes. Now, you can use it for setting a fence post, a mailbox, deck footings or even pouring a small concrete slab.

And for those posts, you don’t even have to premix it. You just pour the dry mix into the hole, add the water and the post is going to be solid-set in 20 minutes.

TOM: QUIKRETE Fast-Setting Concrete is available at all home improvement retailers for about $5 per bag, so look for it in the red bag.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Michael in California on the line who wants to start an A/C debate. Let’s hear it.

MICHAEL: I had a question with regards to a window unit changing out to a split system and what your feelings are in regards to cost-saving.

TOM: Yeah, Leslie and I both have split-ductless systems in our homes. Now, I have one in my office and I actually have a central air-conditioning system. But on this side of the house, in the west side of the house, it gets so much sun that the central A/C can’t keep up with it. And so, as a result, it gets really hot, especially on the super warm, summer days.

So I use split-ductless there. It can handle a bigger area than a window unit. It’s going to be quieter than a window unit and it’s actually more energy-efficient than a window unit.

LESLIE: I mean, Michael, they truly do kick butt. We have one in our basement at home because, apparently, we’re the only house in the Northeast of the United States that has a super-hot basement in the summer. Every other person I know, you go down in their basement it’s freezing; ours, it’s like a sauna. So we put a split system down there and it cools fantastically. And to be honest, ours sort of works as an air conditioner, a dehumidifier and we also have the optional heat pump so that we could have supplementary heat in the basement in the winter months.

And in the summertime, I practically never even put it on air condition, just because the dehumidification option cools the space fantastically. It’s super quiet; you would never even know it’s on. The condensing unit, which will go outside, is slim and small; it does not occupy a large footprint. I thought it was an affordable option and it works fantastic.

MICHAEL: And do you have a recommendation for any particular brand?

TOM: Yeah, take a look at Mitsubishi Electric’s Cooling & Heating System. They are one of the leaders in the split-ductless category. Their systems are very energy-efficient and they have a technology that works like a cruise control in a car and then it ramps up to the cooling temperature that you want very quickly. And then it maintains there without turning on and off and on and off; it kind of slows down and speeds up. It actually feeds that cool temperature, leaves it nice and steady. Super-quiet system and also has a couple of cool features.

For example, it has a smartphone app that you can use to run it. So, if you like gadgets, like me, you like good-quality, energy-efficient equipment, take a look at that Mitsubishi system.

MICHAEL: Alright. Well, thank you. I appreciate the info.

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

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

RUTH: I have – it’s on the inside of my house. I have redwood stain and I have a white film. I’ve used furniture polish and got it off, thinking that took care of it, but it’s back again.

LESLIE: Where is this stain? Is it trim work? Is it …?

RUTH: It’s the banister and the doors.

TOM: And you have a redwood stain on these areas?

RUTH: Yes. It’s a redwood stain on it.

TOM: Well, if it’s trim work and banisters, doesn’t it have a finish coat on it, like a polyurethane?

RUTH: No, it does not.

TOM: Typically, for banisters and trim, you would use the stain first, then you would have a clear coat on top of that.

RUTH: No, it does not have that.

TOM: So, is it fairly rough to the touch then?

RUTH: Yes, it is.

TOM: So, what I would do then – because the stain is not designed to be the finish coat. Stain is designed to be covered with a urethane. So I would do this and I would do this in an experimental way to start with. I would clean it again, make sure it’s nice and dry and then I would seal it or urethane it.

And I think on the trim, you could use water-based urethane; get a quart of it. And it goes on real thin, it dries very quick and it will seal in that stain. And see if that protects it in the way you expect it to behave. Because stain is really just designed to color the wood and make the grain come out. It’s the urethane that gives you the wear-and-tear protection.

RUTH: I appreciate your help. Thank you.

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

LESLIE: Joe in California is on the line with a leaky chimney. Tell us what’s going on.

JOE: Well, it’s an old one from the 60s, I believe, but it was beautifully built. It’s 15 foot wide and 2 stories up and I’m on the second story. But the water is going through the mortar coming in and it’s terrible. It’s like a waterfall in the wintertime.

TOM: So, you say that water is coming through the mortar. Do you know for a fact that it’s coming through in a particular place? Because, generally, when chimneys leak, there’s two areas that we concentrate on. The first is the very top of the chimney. And if it’s a masonry chimney, you probably have a clay flue liner. Is that correct?

JOE: Yes, it is.

TOM: Alright. And then so the space between the clay flue liner and the outside edge of the brick chimney, that has to have a concrete cap on it. And that should be sloped away from the flue liner to the outside edge. It can’t have any cracks or holes or gaps in it. And very often, you have to caulk it, if that does develop, around the flue liner, as well as through the cracks.

The second place that chimneys typically leak is at their intersection with roofs. And unfortunately, roofers have almost universally lost the skill set that would have enabled them to be able to flash this joint properly between the chimney and the roof. Because the proper way to do this is with a two-piece flashing system where you have a base flashing that goes underneath the roof shingle and up against the side of the chimney. Then counter flashing, which is carved into the mortar joint, folds over the outside edge of the chimney and also over the base flashing.

And the reason that sort of two-piece design is important is because chimneys are always moving and roofs are always moving and they don’t move together. And so, this is sort of a slip joint, so to speak, where they can actually move and shift with the wind and the heat and the rain and the expansion and contraction without actually breaking down.

So, I would look at those two areas. And then I’ll just give you one other tip. If you have a roof where there’s a lot of water running down before it hits the base of the chimney, in a situation like that, what you want to do is put a diverter on the roof, midway, to kind of short-circuit some of the water that’s running down towards the chimney and run it around the chimney. And that will just simply reduce the volume of water that’s getting in there and potentially leaking through into your house.

JOE: This has got a flat, metal top over the top of the chimney that mostly keeps the rain from coming down the chimney but I haven’t really looked at the flue liner up there. That’s a good point.

TOM: Yep. Take a careful look, Joe, OK?

JOE: OK. Alrighty. Thank you very much.

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

LESLIE: Well, from cracks to potholes to just general wear and tear, asphalt driveways need regular care to be able to stand up to the test of time. We’re going to have the step-by-step to make sure yours is ready for the rough weather ahead, when Roger Cook stops by.

TOM: And today’s This Old House segment on The Money Pit is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Get the latest fall trends in hardwood, bamboo, laminate and waterproof floors for less.

We’ll be back with more tips and your questions, 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: And we’d love to hear from you right now. So pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.

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

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

LESLIE: Alright. Kay is on the line now and she needs some help painting a door.

Kay, tell us about your project.

KAY: Yeah. And I listen to you every week you’re on.

TOM: Well, thank you so much.

LESLIE: Oh, thanks, Kay.

KAY: I wanted to paint my wood door. It’s a very old wood door. And we lived here since ‘69 and I’m trying to keep it original. It’s red now.


KAY: My husband painted it only one coat and I think it was blue.


KAY: It needs another coat to make it real red but I want to paint it white.

TOM: Well, I mean the color is a personal preference. So, to paint this door, the best thing to do is to take it off of the hinges and lay it flat on a couple of sawhorses. And then you want to sand the old surface. You want to make sure you get rid of any flaking paint, any cracked paint, because you can’t put good paint over bad paint. You’ve got to get all that stuff off.

KAY: It’s not cracking or anything. It’s smooth as can be.

TOM: Alright. So then he must have done a great job when he painted it last time.

KAY: He did. He sanded it down to the wood. It was all, you know, original wood, so it’s really smooth. That’s why I wasn’t sure and I don’t know if I can get the paint off like if you – and I didn’t want to scrape it.

TOM: Well, I don’t think you have to take all the old paint off. If it’s adhering well, then you’re good to go on it. So sand it down and then I would recommend that you put a coat of primer on. Because this will make sure that the new paint adheres as well as the old paint did.

Primer is kind of the glue that makes the paint stick. So, put the primer on.

KAY: Will KILZ work? Because I’ve got a gallon of KILZ.

TOM: It’ll work fine, yep. You put the KILZ on, let it dry and then you could put your topcoat on that.

KAY: To sand it, what do I have to do? Knock the sheen off?

TOM: Yeah, knock the sheen off. Exactly right. You don’t have to sand it down to the raw wood but you have to get that sheen off. So a medium grit, like 100-grit sandpaper, would work really well, OK?


LESLIE: Well, asphalt driveways are the personal roadways of our homes. But just like the roads we travel to work, they certainly take a lot of abuse: extreme weather, sun, road salt, you name it.

TOM: That’s right. And from cracks to potholes to just general wear and tear, asphalt driveways need regular care to be able to stand up to the test of time. Here to tell us how to do just that is landscaping contractor Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House.

And Roger, this is a project I end up doing about every two years. I’d love to identify a more durable solution to keeping that driveway in good shape. Any ideas?

ROGER: Move. No, it’s an ongoing process because you think about a driveway, it sits out and it bakes all summer long and then it freezes all winter long, so there is going to be some movement in it. And you will get, eventually, hairline cracks and even the pavement itself just needs to be recovered with the oil. The oil will dry out.

TOM: And I think a lot of us assume that our driveways should be just as durable as the roads that we drive on but those roads are built quite different than a driveway. And driveways, there seems to be a wide variety to it in terms of how well they’re built. Some of them are thinner, some of them are thicker, some have a good base, some don’t. And you can tell as time goes on.

ROGER: You sure can. In some cases, you can even get ruts in the driveway where you drive because it’s not good material underneath it. But the key is to save that driveway for as long as you can. It’s thousands of dollars to replace a driveway. It’s a big job that you cannot do yourself as a homeowner. But you can go out and you can fill cracks and you can reseal the driveway and get more life out of it.

LESLIE: So is it better to sort of start with repairing the cracks, potholes, et cetera that you might be noticing in your driveway before you go ahead and reseal it?

ROGER: Yes. Hopefully, it hasn’t gotten to that point when you’re there. You can catch everything early because like anything else, the smaller the crack, the easier it is to seal and keep from getting bigger. And that’s the thing: when a crack opens up in the driveway, water goes in and then it freezes and it opens the crack more, more and more. So we’re – hopefully, we can intervene in that cycle and stop it from ruining the driveway.

TOM: Now, what about the low spots or the sort of the mini-potholes? Is there a patching product you can use for those?

ROGER: There is. There’s a couple of them. One is a very – type that can go on very thin. But a lot of time, with those potholes, you really have to dig out and excavate and then use a different product which is good for 2 inches of compaction.

TOM: And that’s more like a stone, kind of blacktop patch sort of product, right?

ROGER: Yeah, it’s literally the stuff you see them using on the street again. And then, what you would do is after you patch that area, you should reseal the whole driveway. Because otherwise, you’re going to have little black spots all over the place.

LESLIE: And that’s really a project that you need to have enough materials start to finish; you don’t want to stop midway.

ROGER: Right.

LESLIE: So how do you know that you’re getting enough for the job?

ROGER: You buy that product in a 5-gallon bucket. It usually weighs about 55 pounds. Now, that bucket usually covers 300 to 400 feet. So you can get pretty close, boy, using that amount, because there’s nothing worse than getting halfway through the job and not having enough to finish. If you get an extra bucket, you can always return it. There’s nothing worse than trying to run down while the other stuff is drying and grab a bucket and get back in time to blend it all together.

TOM: Now, any preferences on sealer type? I know there’s solvent-based and there’s latex products today.

ROGER: I’ve been with the solvent-based ones and had good luck with those. The key, I think, is to use one of the squeegee-type brushes they have to put it on with and get a nice, even coat.

TOM: Right. And those are inexpensive, so you pretty much can – one use and throw it away, right?

ROGER: They’re really not good for anything after you have them spreading that …

TOM: Yeah. You don’t want to have to clean those, right?

ROGER: No, no, don’t try that.

LESLIE: And wear good, protective clothing covers, because it does not come off of anything. I’ve got some work boots to show that it’s never going to go away.

ROGER: And do not walk in the house afterwards without inspecting the shoes, because you don’t think you have any on you and you go walking across the kitchen floor and someone will bring to your attention that you will be cleaning the floor.

TOM: And very quickly.

Now, what if the driveway is just structurally deteriorated? Is there a point where it makes sense to have another layer added to it or just to take it completely down and start from scratch?

ROGER: You know, if you put a layer on top of it, it’s still bad underneath.

TOM: Right.

ROGER: And eventually, it’s going to fail. So it’s the economics of is – it’s less expensive to just put a layer over the top than obviously it is to come and rip out what you have, take away a foot of material, put a foot of gravel, compact it and then come back and re-asphalt the driveway.

TOM: Good advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

ROGER: Oh, it’s great. Primetime drive.

LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a step-by-step video on how you can repair your driveway, visit

TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC Trucks and SUVs.

Up next, updating your home with beautiful, new flooring is one of the most popular projects for this time of year. But is it a project you can do yourself? We’ll have details, just ahead, in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators, next.

Where home solutions live, welcome back to 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.

LESLIE: Well, we’ve just come off of a really big holiday weekend, sort of officially ending summer. I mean not the actual end-of-summer date but you guys know what I mean. Well, when you were outside, did you notice maybe your outdoor furnishings or the deck kind of looking a little worse for the wear? Maybe you see some dirt, maybe some mold? They’ve been sitting out there in the elements all summer long.

Well, we’ve got a great product to help you spruce up that furniture. It’s Spray & Forget’s Outdoor Furniture Cleaner. And we’re giving away a supply to one lucky listener who calls us or posts their home improvement question or even a décor question. We’ve got up for grabs the Spray & Forget Outdoor Furniture Cleaner worth 29 bucks.

TOM: Yep. It’s a no-rinse formula. It’s takes out the dirt, the grime, the bird droppings and the tannins that are left in fabric and hard surfaces. It also takes out the green and the black biological stains that are caused by algae, mold and mildew. It works great on furniture covers. It works great on cushions, all that upholstery. It really is going to make it look terrific.

It also leaves some UV protection behind, so that’s going to rejuvenate and prevent color-fade protection over time. And it’s friendly for the planet.

You can get more info at It’s worth 29.90 but we’ve got a supply going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your question online at

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

RICHARD: I’m interested – I have an older home I remodeled. It’s built in the 30s and I wanted to put in a whole-house water-filtration system. And I was going to connect right to the service line going in.

And I’ve been shopping around. I found the small canister types and then it just jumps up to a big, 33-gallon, barrel-type filtration, which is too much. And I just wanted to know what a good brand is and what I need – reverse-osmosis and all that.

TOM: Richard, 3M makes the Filtrete line. That’s F-i-l-t-r-e-t-e. And they have single filters for use under maybe your kitchen sink or bathroom but they also have a whole-house system. It’s not terribly expensive; I think it’s under 100 bucks. And installation is pretty straightforward, so perhaps you could even do it yourself. And they also have various levels of filtration.

So I would take a look at the Filtrete Whole-House System Water Filters and I think that’s a good choice to make sure your water is tasting good throughout the entire home.

Well, updating your home with beautiful, new flooring is a great way to add value and enjoyment to it for years to come. But is this a project you can do yourself or should you hire a pro to help? We’ll help you sort that out, in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators.

LESLIE: First, just like any project, just because you can do the job yourself doesn’t mean that you should. Now, some floors can be difficult to install and can require special tools that you might not have. Plus, if you’re not experienced, mistakes made could even ruin the flooring or impact the product’s warranty, only adding to that project’s overall expense.

TOM: Now, that said, whether you’re DIY-savvy or not, there are a lot of benefits to having floors professionally installed, like having licensed and insured installers to assess, measure, install and even clean up that installation mess. Pros can also make sure your floor is installed the right way, which means you can have the peace of mind the job was done right and just get on with enjoying your floor.

LESLIE: And today’s Flooring Tip has been presented by Lumber Liquidators. Now offering professional installation nationwide. With Lumber Liquidators Install+, you’ll get the floor you want, the quality installation you need and the value you deserve.

TOM: Visit your local Lumber Liquidators store nationwide today or online at Lumber Lumber Liquidators, beautiful floors for less.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joseph on the line with an electrical question. What’s going on at your money pit?

JOSEPH: I’ve got an older house. It was built in the 1940s and my daughter’s nursery, the overhead fan and lights work but none of the sockets in the room function. And I have no breakers that have tripped.

TOM: So, somewhere, those sockets are disconnected. Now, are you sure the sockets are not connected to a light switch?

JOSEPH: I am 99-percent positive, sir.

TOM: There’s a seed of a doubt there that perhaps they could be. You know, sometimes the light – the outlets are operated by a light switch. But I would say that it’s not normal for that to happen in a 1940s house.

But what you need to do is this – and when I say you need to do, more accurately an electrician needs to do. You’ve got to get into the wiring that’s supplying those outlets and try to figure out why it’s disconnected. I can’t imagine a reason it would have been physically disconnected, which means it’s most likely some failure in the wiring of the outlets themselves. But if you open up the outlets, you can see if you have hot wires there and try to figure out at what point they became de-energized. Because they are probably wired in series, so the wiring goes from one to the next to the next. And you need to do a little bit more investigation to figure out why that is.

But it’s really not a do-it-yourself project. I don’t want you to make a mistake and I don’t want you to get electrocuted.

JOSEPH: Yes, sir. Then I will definitely look at calling an electrician.

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

Still ahead, when the water pressure in the shower is low, blood pressure can get sky-high. Find out what’s causing your home’s water pressure to fluctuate and what to do about it, 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: Hey, we’re here to answer all your home improvement questions. There’s lots of ways to get in touch with us. You can post your question online to The Money Pit’s Community page at or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Now, Kathy from California posted her question and she’s having an issue with water pressure.

LESLIE: That’s right. Now, Kathy writes: “The water pressure throughout my house is intermittently high and low. Within a 1-minute period, it goes from being very low to wonderful for maybe 6 to 8 seconds and then low again. It makes laundry take forever, washing dishes a pain and showers less than enjoyable. Any advice on what the problem might be and how to fix it?”

That sounds terrible, Kathy. I’m very sorry.

TOM: It absolutely does. And if it’s happening throughout the house, you’ve got to start by looking at the main valve.

Now, I wonder if you are on city water or this is well water. Because it would explain a lot of it was well water. But it could be an issue with the pump that’s cycling like that.

But the first step, Kathy, is determining how much pressure you have at the main water line, because that needs to be constant throughout the entire house. And if you don’t have enough pressure there, then that could be the reason you’re having this inconsistency. So, I would have a plumber check the water pressure at the main.

Now, if you do have well water, you may very well need to take one additional step and check not only the well water but also a pressure tank. Because what happens is the well water is pumped into the pressure tank and then supplied from the pressure tank to the rest of the house, with the tank sort of maintaining pressure throughout that entire period of time.

So, a couple things to look into, depending on whether or not you get your water from the ground or from the municipal main water line. Hope that helps and thanks so much for writing us at

LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Richard in Connecticut who writes: “The skylight in my kitchen ceiling condenses in the winter, dripping water down the drywall and wrecking the paint around the opening of the skylight. The best solution I’ve come up with is using a plastic sheet to seal off room air from reaching the skylight. Needless to say, it doesn’t look very nice. Any better suggestions?”

TOM: Well, Richard, look, the reason you’re getting this condensation is because you have two things happening here.

First of all, you have a lot of wet, humid air in the kitchen. So, I would ask that you check your vent fan over the range and make sure it’s venting out and not recycling, if that’s at all possible.

Secondly, the skylight itself is obviously not insulated or the insulation in the glass, if it is glass, has failed. So, unless you have an insulated glass surface, when that warm, moist air strikes the cold surface, you get condensation and the drips and the mess.

Now, the idea of putting in some sort of a barrier in between will help but as you mentioned, it’s kind of ugly. There is an opportunity, though, to put in what’s called an “interior storm window.” These are custom-made to fit how windows – like old, wood windows that are drafty in old houses, where you love the windows but you hate the drafts. And they go in temporarily, basically, during the winter season on the inside. But frankly, it’s so much darn work to have one of those made. I’d almost rather see you replace the skylight if at all possible.

If you did, make sure you get a good-quality skylight with low-E glass that’s going to insulate your home well. And since it will be insulated glass, you won’t have the problem of the warm, moist air striking the cold glass and then dripping down all over the place in your kitchen.

LESLIE: Yeah. Because that’s a mess you really don’t need to deal with. Plus, anything’s better than that piece of plastic.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. As we ride closer towards the fall season, we’re here to help you with all your fall home improvement projects, whether they’re do-it-yourself projects or ones you want to hire out a pro. If we didn’t get to your call today, remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. And always post your questions online at

Thanks so much for listening. 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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