Picking out The Perfect Paint Brush & More

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. We’re here to educate, to help you get confidence in taking these projects on. If you need a coach, we’re sort of your home improvement coach. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or someone who wants to hire out the job, we are here to guide you, give you tips, advice, confidence, inspiration to avoid the perspiration when you take on those projects around your house. Now, your job is to help yourself first by picking up the phone or reaching out to us on our Community page at MoneyPit.com or calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.

Coming up on today’s show, if you’ve been thinking about a remodeling project and wondering what to do with your ceiling, I will bet there’s one ceiling that you are definitely not considering: a drop ceiling, right?

LESLIE: Oh, yeah. For sure. I get it. They look old, they’re dated. Well, you might want to give drop ceilings a second look because those that are coming out today can be absolutely stunning. In fact, it’s even hard to tell that they are drop ceilings. We’re going to share some details on that, in just a bit.

TOM: Plus, do you spend more time picking out paint for a project than you do actually picking out the paintbrush you’ll use? We’re going to share tips on how to choose a brush that won’t leave marks, waste paint or have bristles that break off and get stuck in the wet paint. I hate when that happens.

LESLIE: That’s really the worst. That’s like you get a whole project done and then you’re picking at the one loose bristle.

TOM: Really.

LESLIE: Alright. It’s time for fireplace season again. And if you are lighting your fireplace for the first time, it might make you feel a little nervous and that’s for good reason. You know, dirty chimneys can send your relaxation up in smoke. We’re going to tell you how to make sure that your fireplace is ready to fire up for the season ahead.

TOM: Plus, we’ve got a great giveaway this hour. We’ve got a product that Leslie had – both protects your home and entertains you both at the same time.

LESLIE: Ah, those are two pretty good things.

TOM: It will protect you at the same time; we just hope it doesn’t alarm you at the same time. Because we’re talking about the Onelink Safe & Sound by First Alert. It’s a detector that will notify you, on your cell phone, in the event of a smoke or carbon-monoxide emergency. Plus, it’s got a premium speaker that plays music. It even answers voice commands because it’s got built-in Alexa. Really interesting combination of smart-home technology.

We’ve got one to give away from First Alert worth almost 250 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Does that sound like a great prize? Well, help yourself first: pick up the phone, call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and you might just be winning that great, new product from First Alert: the Onelink Safe & Sound worth almost 250 bucks.

LESLIE: Mike in Iowa is on the line with an insulation question. What can we do for you today?

MIKE: I’m looking to put some fiberglass insulation up in my attic. I have access to some 6-inch that’s faced on one side and it has foil on the other. Could I lay that down in my attic without having any problems?

TOM: You already have existing insulation there, right, Mike?

MIKE: Yeah, I’ve got 10 inches in my ceilings.

TOM: The answer is no and here’s why: the foil face is a vapor barrier and if you put a vapor barrier in there, you’re going to trap moisture. Now, a very common scenario is people put that up in the attic, they leave the vapor barrier facing up but that’s actually wrong. The only place a vapor barrier belongs is against the heated space, which would be under the 10 inches of insulation you already have there.

So, the foil face is not a good thing. Now, I will say that you – if you really want to be frugal about this, you could probably pull that foil off and lay the unfaced batt perpendicular to what you have right now. It’ll be a bit of a messy job, because it sounds like it’s older insulation, so you’re going to have to protect yourself with dust masks and safety glasses, long sleeves and all of that.

MIKE: I don’t care to do that. But right now, in my attic, at one time I had a flat roof. And right now, I’ve got rolled tar – or not tar paper but rolled shingling up in my attic floor. That’s probably acting as a vapor barrier, I would guess, today.

TOM: It probably is, yeah. Because it would stop humidity from getting through it. The problem is that it traps it in the insulation and when it does that, the insulation doesn’t work well. Insulation that’s damp does not insulate, so that humidity is working against you.

MIKE: I have wood heat and it takes a lot of moisture out of the house. That’s probably in my favor, I would guess.

TOM: I would think so. Now, you want to preserve that wood floor? You want to use all of that wood floor space?

MIKE: I’d like to use as much as possible, yes.

TOM: Well, why don’t you do this? Kind of a way to kind of have your cake and eat it, too, is to carve out an area in the center of the attic that you reserve, basically, just for storage. And then you add unfaced fiberglass batts on top of the wood floor to the other areas. Yeah, it’s not perfect having that whatever floor covering you have in between but I still think it’s going to add some insulation to that space and help cut some of your energy bills. And unfaced fiberglass batts are not that expensive and pretty easy to handle.


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

LESLIE: Natasha in Missouri is on the line with a molding question. What can we do for you today?

NATASHA: Our house is about 11 years old and the interior walls – the sheetrock or the drywall – is finished with a nice, round, bullnose corner. So it doesn’t come to a right angle, so to speak. And just through wear and tear with kids and dogs, we have found several dents appearing. And I’m wondering if you have ideas on how we might repair that or if we are going to have to just replace that whole corner edging. Any thoughts?

TOM: Yeah. I mean is this like the metal rounded corner?

NATASHA: I think it’s metal. I tap on it and it sounds plasticky but it might be metal, which would explain the dents.

TOM: Why not just plaster over those?

NATASHA: I thought about that. Some of them are just little dimples but I don’t know if I can successfully fill and sand and patch. But that’s one thought we’ve had.

TOM: Yeah. You could skim-coat it. And the other thing that you could do, if it’s a crisp dent, is you can use auto-body filler. We use that on metal doors, like metal doors that have dents in it and that sort of thing. It’s just a little harder to sand. But if it’s just the outside corner on drywall, you could use spackle for that. Build it up and then sand it. It sands really easily. You’re just going to have to prime it and repaint it.


TOM: Shouldn’t be a big deal.

NATASHA: Great. Well, that’s exciting. Some other advice I’d had was to replace the whole corner, so I love your suggestion much, much more.

TOM: Well, you can always do that but why don’t we try the easy stuff first?

NATASHA: Maybe in the bedrooms where it’s not so obvious. We’ll try that first, so …

TOM: Then you can practice and you’ll get good at it.

NATASHA: That’s right. Hey, thanks so much. I really appreciate your help.

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

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Call in your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

TOM: And just ahead, do you think drop ceilings look old and dated? Well, you might want to give them a second look because those coming out today can be absolutely stunning. We’ll share the new options, 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: And we try to make good homes better. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Rudy in Tennessee joining us here at The Money Pit who had a leaky roof and now you’re trying to fix up all the remaining issues. Tell us what happened.

RUDY: So, we had a big rainstorm. And just got a call from my wife and I came in and looked at it and I had a bunch of water running down the seam of my drywall, into the – onto the landing inside my house. Then I called a handyman. He came and took down the drywall and wait, he noticed that it was kind of leaky. The roof was leaking and then it came in on the drywall.

I had a roofer come out, licensed. He came, he repaired the roof and also put some water guards to kind of channel the water away. And then the handy-guy put up the drywall and taped it, painted it over. And so then, probably about a month later, all that drywall – the new drywall – kind of buckled, kind of came out.

And there’s no more water. It’s rained here multiple times since then. I haven’t seen any more water come in but I didn’t know if it was moisture still in the wall or if it was just bulky drywall that the person put up.

TOM: Well, it’s not – is no such thing as bad drywall. There are bad drywall contractors but no such thing as bad drywall. And when you say buckle, is it swollen or is it sort of popped off the wall?

RUDY: It popped off the wall. Like you can push a little bit on it and you can see the exact place where the patched drywall was. You can look at the seam and it’s kind of uneven.

TOM: OK. So, if it sort of popped off the wall, then I suspect that it just wasn’t adhered properly and it might just need to be re-secured. You might need a few extra drywall screws or nails in that.

If it’s swollen and starting to look like it’s wet or damp or stained or moldy then, of course, the roof leak could be continuing. But if it’s just loose and came off the wall, then it might, in fact, be that it wasn’t attached very well and normal expansion and contraction of that area has forced it to sort of release. So I would go back to the contractor and ask if he can re-secure it and retape it, re-spackle it.

RUDY: Perfect. Thank you, guys. Enjoy listening to your show.

TOM: Well, thanks so much for calling, Rudy. We appreciate it.

LESLIE: Hey, the holidays are ahead and we want to make sure that your house is both safe and ready for entertaining. Well, we’ve got a product that can do both. We’re giving away, this hour, the very cool Onelink Safe & Sound by First Alert.

Now, this is an alarm system and sort of an entertainment system, if you could, that’s worth 250 bucks. Now, the Onelink Safe & Sound, it’s a smoke, fire and carbon-monoxide detector but it does so much more. It actually lets you play music with some built-in premium speakers and you can use simple, hands-free commands with built-in Alexa. So, she can play The Money Pit, she can help your kids with homework, she can give you all kinds of advice and guidance, even show you how to get out of the front door in an emergency.

It’s really great. It’s going to alert you on your cell phone in the event of a smoke or carbon-monoxide emergency, no matter where you are. And it also has voice-and-location technology to alert users to the type of danger and its location. I mean that’s huge. You can get ahead of things before you even know something’s happening, all when you’re in the house. This is fantastic.

Check it out at Onelink.FirstAlert.com. Again, it’s worth 250 bucks but it’s going out to one random listener.

TOM: Make that you. Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Linda in Ohio is on the line and needs some advice on purchasing a generator. How can we help you? By the way, great idea.

LINDA: Is it possible to use a generator when you live in an apartment?

TOM: So are you talking about what kind of generator – like a portable generator or a standby generator?

LINDA: Maybe some standby if my power goes out.

TOM: So, for an apartment, you have to understand that a standby generator or a whole-house generator is something that’s permanently installed, Linda. So the answer would be no. That said, you could use a portable generator but of course, you’d have to run wires – extension cords – from the generator itself into the house. So it’s not very convenient.

There is something called a “transfer switch” that can work for a portable generator where it’s kind of like having a mini-electrical panel inside. But again, it’s something that requires some installation. And generally, when it’s an apartment, you can’t do that. So, the only thing you could really do would be to have a portable generator: one that you took out of storage, put outside – because you can’t run it in the apartment – and then run extension cords in to try to deal with that short-term, hopefully, power outage.

LINDA: Wow. That sounds like it would be difficult.

TOM: Yeah. It’s not the best answer but it’s – see, because generators are something that are permanently installed into the building’s sort of core electrical system? And that’s why it’s real important that they be done correctly. You can’t – when you install these transfer switches inside, they have technology built into them to prevent what’s called a “backfeed,” so that electricity doesn’t go back through the wiring and can hurt a lineman, for example, that’s working on the power lines. So, you can’t really run it without the transfer switch and that has to be permanently installed. And the generator itself is a very big appliance. That said, a portable generator is much smaller.

Now, if you just want to power a couple of things, you could use a very small generator. Generac has one that’s called the iQ that’s 2,000 watts. That’s under 1,000 bucks and will power a fair number of household items: small appliances, lights, that sort of thing. But you have some options there. But again, you have to use an extension cord.

LINDA: OK. Well, thank you.

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

Well, if you’ve been thinking about a remodeling project and wondering what to do with your ceiling, I’ll bet there’s one ceiling that you’re probably not even thinking of considering and that is a drop ceiling.

LESLIE: They look old and dated, right? But you might want to give drop ceilings a second look because those coming out today can be absolutely stunning.

Now, there are multiple options for ceiling tiles. And as with any DIY project, it’s important to balance simplicity, cost, appearance and a lot of other factors. But today, you can find drop ceilings that look like old-fashioned tin ceilings, wood paneling and really, so much more. You know, you can get a coffered-ceiling look that would take a craftsman hours and days to create, not to mention cost hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Plus, with the right kind of finish, it’s really hard to tell that they actually are drop ceilings.

TOM: Yeah. And with a drop ceiling, you really have countless choices for color and texture and material. But with drywall, you’re limited to what color you want to paint it. And while white’s generally a great color for smaller spaces because of the sense of openness, if you’re looking for something bold or different, you could look at some colored, textured tiles, for example, with those drop ceilings. And that could be a really cool idea.

LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, if you want to make sure that a drop ceiling is going to work for you, you’ve got to consider the available headspace. Now, it’s not just a practical consideration but an aesthetic one, as well.

Now, you really have to consider that space above the window frame to the ceiling. Keep in mind, when you install a drop ceiling you’re going to lose about 6 to 8 inches of headroom. So if you can’t sacrifice that space, that might not be an option for you. But in a lot of cases, you can. And depending on the profile of the tile you pick, it will then sort of increase or decrease that headspace even more. But a grander drop ceiling can sometimes make a space feel much, much, much larger. So you’ve got to consider your ceiling height, where that window falls into the space to the ceiling before you make that final decision. Because it will make a huge difference.

TOM: Now, one last benefit of drop ceilings is this: they do provide for easy access if any of your mechanical systems are behind them, like pipes and wiring. And that’s especially useful if you use a drop ceiling in say, for example, a finished basement. So, take a second look. I think you’ll be really surprised. And the next time I do my kitchen, I want to take a look at the ceilings that look like tin. I’ve seen these fantastic, sort of patina-paint jobs that you can do on it and it really is a gorgeous look.

LESLIE: And they’re gorgeously detailed. Then after – you have to do a great paint job on it to achieve that affect. But keep in mind there’s some great metallic paints out there. If you’re looking for just a straight copper look or a metal look to create that tin, you can very easily. Now, Tom is talking about the verdigris, which is a little bit of faux finishing in there. But done right, it’s gorgeous.

John in New York is on the line with a fungus issue. What’s going on at your money pit?

JOHN: Well, the thing is I heard about your substance – whatever treatment it was. It was called Spray & Forget. And I wondered if there was such a preparation for internal use in a house, like basement walls.

TOM: OK. So what are you seeing in your basement walls?

JOHN: Well, I think I do have some dampness in the basement and possible fungus and I thought…

TOM: And so you would like to make that go away. And when you look at these walls, does it look kind of like white and gray and crusty?

JOHN: Yeah, in some areas. And it’s just a few places.

TOM: OK. So the white, gray, crusty stuff is not a fungus. It’s not mold. It’s not mildew. It’s mineral-salt deposits. What happens when a basement gets damp, the water evaporates from the – or goes from the groundwater and gets drawn into the basement walls and then evaporates out. And it leaves its mineral-salt deposits behind. And I’ll tell you an easy way to prove that that’s exactly what’s going on here is grab some white vinegar, put a bit in a spray bottle and spray it on that gray substance. You’re going to see the salt melt away when it strikes the vinegar. And you’ll know for sure that’s exactly what it is.

The only time you’re going to want to use a mildicide, like a bleach-and-water solution in a scenario like that, is when you truly do have mold or a fungus. And that’s almost never – it almost never grows on a block wall. It always grows on something that’s more organic, like a drywall or wood, paper. The block wall, I mean it’s possible you can get mold on it because sometimes you get dust that sticks to it and the dust feeds the mold. But usually, it’s mineral-salt deposits that’s indicative of just a damp basement.

What I would also tell you to do is, after you get that cleaned up, is to look outside your house and make sure that your gutters are clean and free-flowing and those downspouts are well away from the house. I’m talking like 4 to 6 feet because that will stop a lot of that water from collecting at that foundation perimeter and pulling up into those walls. Does that make sense?

JOHN: Yes, yes. I appreciate your time, man.

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

LESLIE: Just ahead, when you pick out the paint for your project, do you spend as much time picking out the paintbrush that you’re going to apply it with? Probably not. You’re probably really focused on that color and then maybe what the right sheen is.

Well, you should be paying that much attention to the brush. We’re going to tell you why, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

Well, fall is the perfect time of year for DIYers to take on a painting project. But too often, their focus is on picking the right paint – the color, the type – and not actually picking the right paintbrush or roller to apply it with.

TOM: Yep. That is definitely true. And the fact of the matter is if you use a lousy brush, you’re going to get a lousy result. Well, our next guest has a mission to make sure that that doesn’t happen to you. She is Erica Yacobozzi, the brand manager for Purdy Professional Painting Tools.

Welcome, Erica.

ERICA: Hi. Thanks for having me on the show. Appreciate it.

TOM: So, I think this is definitely a scene that we have seen play out time after time. People are spending a lot of time making that color selection and the quality selection and looking at paint chips and samples and all of that. And then the last thing they do is – “Oh, yeah, I need a paintbrush,” and they throw a sponge brush or something in the basket and expect to get a good job out of it. And that just doesn’t do the trick.

ERICA: That is correct, yeah. We do see a lot of consumers that do that, especially DIYers. But they spend a lot of time painting in the – picking the paint color and the paint they’re going to use but then they don’t invest in their application tools, so their paintbrushes or their rollers.

And Purdy, what we do is we actually have products that are really chosen by the professional painters but are just as great for the DIYers. So, we want to make sure that with our products – with our brushes and rollers – that you’re getting the perfect finish every time. Because the last thing you want to do is spend hours painting and then going back and having to redo it because the applicator didn’t give you the right result. So, with Purdy, that’s not going to happen.

TOM: Well, exactly. And I think the things that happen when you use an inferior brush or roller is you get lousy paint distribution, right? The paint runs out quick on the brush, which means you’re going back to the bucket many more times. You can’t get a sharp line like when you’re trying to cut in around corners and trim and stuff like that. You’re going to get brushstrokes or marks or the absolute worst: you get bristles that come off the brush and get stuck in your wet paint. Ugh. I hate when that happens.


TOM: And that’s why you need a good-quality brush. And you guys have been making brushes since 1925, which is pretty amazing. One of the things I found interesting about your operation is that you actually have brush makers that have been making brushes for 20 or 30 years. Is that right?

ERICA: That’s correct, yeah. Our brushes have been handcrafted in the U.S.A. – in Portland, Oregon – since 1925. And they continue to this day, so it’s a really great quality story. Made in America. And like you said, our brush makers, a lot of times they’ve been making brushes for 20 or 30 years. They really take pride in their work. They’re craftsmen, too; they want to make sure that their brushes are perfect before it even leaves our Portland facility – our Portland, Oregon facility.

LESLIE: I love that each one of your brush makers sort of signs the brush with a sticker that’s special to them. I love it. It’s like the original maker movement. It’s fantastic.

ERICA: Yeah, they’re like artists, like mini-artists that actually – they’re so proud they’re putting their signature on every brush and – because they’re proud of it, which is really exciting. And we actually have some pro painters that actually find brushes that are made by certain brush makers, because they have an affinity towards that brush maker. So, kind of …

TOM: Oh, that’s interesting.

LESLIE: Oh, how funny.

ERICA: Isn’t that funny?

TOM: Yeah.

ERICA: Yeah.

TOM: We’re talking to Erica Yacobozzi. She’s the brand manager for Purdy Professional Painting Tools.

Now, Erica, aside from brushes, Purdy makes pretty much every other painting tool that you might need. I want to ask you about rollers. Now, that is something that I have seen many times over the years. You know, you think you’re buying a good roller but at some point – and usually when you’re not too far into the process, the roller sort of breaks down and you start to get those roller marks that are left as you pass over the wall. Why does that happen and what are the differences in the way the roller is made that will stop it from happening with a Purdy product?

ERICA: Yeah, that’s a great question. We hear that complaint a lot, especially for DIYers. Once again, they’re purchasing the paint, they’re not thinking about the roller. They’re grabbing one of those really cheap rollers and not thinking, “Oh, if I actually get – spend a little bit more, you get a quality product from Purdy, I’m not going to have those problems.”

What’s happening is actually the fabric is breaking down and matting, because the quality of the fabric that’s actually on a roller cover isn’t durable and it’s not lasting. But with Purdy, you’re going to keep dipping that roller in the paint and kind of putting it up to different conditions. And it’s going to withstand that, so you’re not going to get those marks in your wall. You’re not going to get the lint on your wall, which is kind of like that whole getting bristles stuck in your paint. You’re not going to get the lint stuck in your paint that you’re going to have to go in and pick out afterwards.

So, our fabric is really great fabric. We have cores that are made out of plastic. They’re not cardboard, where other brands have cardboard cores that are in the roller cover that break down after it gets soggy with paint. We really want to make sure our products are durable, stand up to really every painting condition.

TOM: And speaking of durable, I read a story once where you actually have pros that are handing their brushes down to their kids. And that’s how long these brushes can last when they’re properly cared for.

ERICA: Yep. Yeah, yeah. That’s the key. You do have to properly care for it. Because if you don’t take the time to clean it afterwards, you’re probably not going to be able to pass it down. But for those that do take care of it, it is something that lasts a really long time.

TOM: Alright. I’ve got to ask you this. So, what is the proper way to clean a paintbrush? Let’s say it’s latex paint. What’s the proper way? Hot water? Cold water? I mean how do you do it?

ERICA: Sure. As long as you have a sink or some sort of water, room temperature. You don’t want it to be too hot or too cold. And you really want to make sure that you’re not using something hard, like a wire brush. Because some people that are cleaning out with a wire brush, well, that’s going to cause some bristles to fall out because you’re actually trying to pull out the bristles.

Yeah, you just take your hands with water and just ensure that – you just really have to take the time to make sure the water runs out 100 percent.

TOM: Right.

ERICA: So, really, that’s it. It’s just the time.

TOM: I imagine a good-quality brush is actually easier to clean. Sometimes, if you don’t have a good brush, the paint does get stuck deep in the bristles. But if it’s a good brush, it probably cleans better, as well.

ERICA: Yes. You are correct. Yep. Definitely.

TOM: Well, it’s good information. It’s a great product. And we’re making like these are super expensive; they’re really not. You can get a three-pack of Purdy brushes starting at around 20 bucks. So, definitely need to consider the Purdy products when you’re in the store. Their XL line is great for DIYers because it can really handle any type of paint.

Erica Yacobozzi, the brand manager for Purdy Professional Paint Tools, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

ERICA: Thank you, guys.

TOM: And you can review the entire line at Purdy.com – P-u-r-d-y.com.

LESLIE: Hey, everybody. Are you looking forward to that first crackling fire? Well, hold that match until you’re sure that your fireplace and chimney are safe and secure. We’ll tell you what to look for, after this.

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 and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 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 us. HomeAdvisor.com.

Well, whether or not you’ve used your fireplace yet this season, don’t light another match just yet. Fireplaces and chimneys do have a big job to do. And making sure they’re up for it is really key to your family’s safety.

LESLIE: Yeah. Seasonal chimney maintenance is going to ensure that the smoke, fire, ember, ashes are all going to stay contained in that fireplace and in the chimney. Now, they’re also going to check for creosote. And that’s a highly combustible buildup that can lead to chimney fires.

Now, your chimney has got to be checked for creosote at least once a year or maybe after about 80 fires. You can head on over to HomeAdvisor.com and find a certified chimney sweep with good reviews right there.

TOM: Now, even a safe fireplace can also use some backup, so you want to make sure that you put a non-flammable rug in front of the fireplace to keep all those loose sparks from damaging your floors or worse. And if your wood is not dry enough, you’ll get more sparks. Because what happens is the moisture in the wood sort of boils, right? And those little gas pockets pop and that’s what sends those sparks flying. So, important you have those floors protected.

LESLIE: Yeah. And here’s another thing I think people forget a lot until, all of a sudden, you have an unwanted visitor in the house. Make sure that you’ve got chimney caps on. You want to have them installed. It’s going to keep wildlife from using your chimney as a passageway into your home. It’s nice and warm in there. They’re finding an easy way into the house and you don’t want that to happen.

I remember we first bought our house, a squirrel came down through the chimney. And luckily, we had those glass doors on the fireplace when we moved in. And we heard a ruckus and we couldn’t believe it that there was, literally, a squirrel sitting in there.

TOM: It’s funny because I remember one of my early years as a home inspector, I always would look up the chimney, right, from the fireplace? And I was lifting that damper door and it was heavy. I’m thinking, “This is weird. It’s heavy.”

LESLIE: Oh, no. What was in there?

TOM: So, listen – so I lift the damper door up and then a tail drops through the door. It’s like, “Whoa.”

LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. Was it alive or dead?

TOM: So there was – I think it – no, I think it – oh, it was alive. Very alive. I think it was a raccoon. And I think I scared him more than he scared me. And so he scampered out the chimney.

LESLIE: I don’t know. I feel like you can’t scare a raccoon. They’ve got masks on and they don’t seem very shifty.

TOM: Yeah. Well, listen, another thing to do is to also clean out your firebox. And that’s the area where logs burn. And you want to be sure, though, when you clean it out you take those ashes that you pull out. Even if they seem to be completely out, totally cool, don’t trust it. Always, always, always put those ashes in a metal container and keep it well away from the outside of your house. Don’t store it near the fireplace, don’t store it next to your wall. Get it away from your house. I can’t tell you how many times those ashes fire back up and they can cause a serious problem with your house, a serious fire. So make sure you get them away from your house.

LESLIE: Now we’re heading to South Dakota where Esther has a garage question. What can we do for you today?

ESTHER: Well, we have a long, skinny garage with one door. And I would like to extend the cement floor, of course, and loosen all those bolts that fasten it to the cement and turn it on its side and put two doors or a double door on this long side so we could fit two cars in there.

TOM: So you want to take the door from the end of the house – where it just basically opens up to this long, extra-long garage – and you want to swing the doors over to the side of the house so you can have room for a double door. Is that correct?

ESTHER: Yeah. I just want to turn the garage. I’d leave the hole on the end, you know. I would make that into a sliding door instead of overhead door so it wouldn’t get in the way of the trams up on top.

TOM: Right.

ESTHER: But someone said that they didn’t think that that way – then the tracks would be going parallel with the stringers across the top.

TOM: So your first challenge here – before we talk about yours doors, because that’s the last thing that you have to deal with. The first challenge is you have to actually structurally change that long side of the house to be able to have these now two large garage doors in it. So that is going to require rebuilding those walls. And is this a two-story house on that side?

ESTHER: OK, no. This is not an attached garage. This is a free-standing garage.

TOM: So on that long side, though, is that where the roof sits?


TOM: The roof rafters come down on that side? Alright. So that is a load-bearing wall, Esther, so it has to be reframed for a standard garage opening. That’s a big job. This is not just a matter of moving the tracks over and knocking out a few 2x4s. This is a big job. You’re going to have to have a header across that that serves as a beam that’s going to support that roof.

ESTHER: Now, would it be better to have one wide, wide door with the beam across or two separate doors with a column in?

TOM: Just as much work. Doesn’t matter.


TOM: Big job. Not a do-it-yourself job. A job for a pro. Frame that out and then you’ll – and then you could – perhaps you could preserve the old garage door and move it to one side. But I’ve got to tell you, garage doors are a real pain-in-the-neck to take apart. They’ve got about a million pieces to them and they’re a lot easier to put together when you start all disassembled and are built in place.

ESTHER: Well, we have turned garages before, in different places where we live.

TOM: Alright. So this is a project that you are very familiar with, except in this case, you’re going to have to reframe that exterior wall. And that is the bigger part of this project.


LESLIE: Still to come, holiday celebrations mean a lot of food, which can mean a lot of cooking. If you want to make your kitchen a safe and functional place to make that food prep easier, stick around. We’ve got advice on how to do just that, when The Money Pit continues.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: What are you working on? If it’s your house, your condo, your yurt, whatever you call home, give us a call with your how-to questions at 888-666-3974, which happens to spell 888-MONEY-PIT. And that’s presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro. And you can instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

LESLIE: Alright. But while you’re online, post your question to The Money Pit Community section and we will answer them, just like we always do every week. And first up, we’ve got one here from Ann in Florida.

Now, Ann writes: “I live in a second-floor condo of a three-story building. The neighbor next to me just discovered that she has black mold growing on several of her walls. I have walls that are adjacent to some of them. Should I worry?”

TOM: Well, certainly it’s an issue that’s got to be dealt with. I would be a little bit concerned. I’d like to know what the cause of the mold is, whether it’s being started by a leak, for example, in the building. Because it could be growing in the walls before it starts to grow on the walls.

What I would recommend, Ann, is that you document what’s happening here in a letter to the condo management. And just don’t put a maintenance ticket in but make sure it’s documented. Because the faster it gets fixed, the lower your risk.

LESLIE: Yeah. You’ve got to jump on that mold quickly because it can spread so fast. And you just don’t want to mess with it.

TOM: Well, many of us will be spending more and more time in the kitchen as we get ready for holiday celebrations and all sorts of festivities throughout the new year. So, if you’re looking for shortcuts to make that process a little bit easier, Leslie has got tips on how to create a kitchen that is safe and functional, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

Leslie, take it away.

LESLIE: You know, it’s true. I really do love cooking for my family and my friends but there are several tips and tricks that I always keep in mind to make sure that I’m working safely and I’m working smart.

First of all, you’ve got to remember that raw poultry can carry Salmonella. And preparing it requires an extra step of disinfecting. You’ve got to wash your hands often. You should use a plastic cutting board, not wood because that wood’s just going to hold all those germs in the small cuts on that board’s surface. And if you want some quicker cleanup, what I tend to do – and it depends on what else I’m working on and how many cutting boards have gotten use – you can flip over that board right after you do the poultry prep. But you have to make sure that you wipe down that counter with a disinfectant afterwards. And even if I’m switching to another cutting board, I always wipe everything down in between there, including the faucet and the handles to turn the water on and off. Because it gets everywhere, the poultry, and you just don’t want to get anybody sick.

Now, heavy pots and pans, they can be tricky on their own just to move them from place to place. So when you’re filling, you want to place the pot on the stove first and then add your ingredients. You can get an extra-long hose for your sink sprayer so you can fill the pots with water without moving them. Granted, you’ll still have to move them after things are cooked but it’s one initial step saving yourself from moving something heavy.

Now, lighting. A lot of times, you think of the kitchen, you want to have mood lighting but you really need to have task lighting. And it’s not difficult to do. You can stick on those LEDs – they run on batteries – and put them under your cabinets. Because that’s going to help you really see what you’re working on in the kitchen. And this is the busy time of year in there, so you have to make sure you can see what you’re doing. I mean nobody wants a half-stuffed turkey. Am I right, you guys?

Finally, you’ve got to remember that half of all burns treated in the ER result from a scalding injury. So make sure that you set your home’s water temperature to 120 degrees. And that’s going to avoid water coming from the tap at a dangerous temperature. You might have people in your house who aren’t used to the water temperature range in your home, so just help everybody stay safe this holiday season. And enjoy it and enjoy your family and your friends and all the tasty foods of the season.

TOM: Good tip.

This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, have you ever had a deal with a drippy, leaky faucet? Well, faucets have come a long way and now they’ve got better valves and finishes. So we’re going to share how you can find faucets that can deliver years of drip-free use, 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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