Repair or Replace? How to Know if Your Roof Needs to Go

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, solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. If you’re working on a project to spruce up your house now that we are knee-deep in the holiday season, we are here to help you get that job done on time, on budget and before the relatives show up. But help yourself first: give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to The Money Pit Community page at

Coming up on today’s program, your roof weathers every storm and protects your home’s structure. And it keeps you warm and dry. But it’s not going to last forever. We’re going to tell you what you need to know when your roof’s got to go.

LESLIE: And smart-home products are everywhere these days. But if you’ve not taken the step to join the smart-home generation, we’ll have tips to help you figure out if smart-home products are smart for you, just ahead.

TOM: And did you know the most expensive way to heat water is with an electric water heater? We’re going to share some tips on a popular technology that’s so cost-effective, you might not even notice a bump in your utility bill.

LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’ve got a fun tool to give away. It’s the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, along with a supply of staples, worth 50 bucks.

TOM: Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Jill in Washington is on the line with a question about a foundation. What’s going on at your money pit?

JILL: We’re having a small house built up here in the great, beautiful state of Washington. And the builder is recommending a double set of – how do I say it? For drainage. He wants to really be sure that the drainage all is tightlined. One system will be tightlined that joins with the downspouts from the roof. And then the other is kind of like a perforated, long, 200-foot piece of hose with a sleeve over it. Do you recommend both of those? Is that overkill or how would you do it?

TOM: So we’re talking about surface drainage here or are we talking about gutter drainage or both? These sound like, from your description, that these are all running away from the house. Is that right?

JILL: Yes. He wants it around the – they’ve simply just finished the foundation and are about to do the backfill. Before they do the backfill, they want two drainage systems put in place. One is a hard – I’m not sure of the correct terminology. It’s a 4-inch pipe …

TOM: Yeah, one’s for the downspouts and one’s for the foundation. Is that correct?

JILL: Correct. Exactly.

TOM: Alright. No, I mean I think he’s doing it right. And those steps will help. The one really important thing is that when he’s done with this is not only do those downspouts have to be extended away from the house, but you want to make sure that that finished grade also has a pitch that drops at least about 6 inches over the first 4 feet. Because with new construction, you’ll get a lot of settlement and you’ve got to have good pitch. But if you have downspouts that are extended out away from the house and you have good pitch, you’ll never have to worry about a water-infiltration problem.

And I also don’t suspect that those additional foundation drains will really come into use much, if at all. But since it’s all fully open right now, there’s no real – there’s no harm in doing that.

JILL: OK. So, it’s just bite the bullet and just put both systems in.

TOM: Yeah. Now, have they put the gutters in yet?

JILL: Oh, no, no. The house isn’t even built yet. No, just the …

TOM: OK. So, here’s a good tip. Most builders are going to put in what’s called a “4-inch case-style gutter.” That’s a standard gutter. Opt for the next size up – it’s a 6-inch gutter – for two reasons. Number one, it holds more runoff from your roof; it doesn’t get overwhelmed. And number two, it doesn’t clog as easily because the downspouts are much bigger.

JILL: I see. What a great tip.

TOM: OK. And they’re not that much more expensive, either.

JILL: Great. Well, you know what? When we get to that point, I’m going to call the show back and – because it always rains up here. And I will let you know that we took your grand advice and how it all came out.

LESLIE: Alright.

TOM: Alright. Can’t wait. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Good luck with that brand-new home.

JILL: Thank you so much.

TOM: Building a new money pit.

LESLIE: Building something new that will become a money pit at some point.

TOM: That’s right. That’s right. As beautiful and as luxurious as these homes are, we know that everybody’s house becomes a money pit sooner or later. And so that’s why we’re in the money-pit prevention business.

LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Randall on the line joining us here at The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

RANDALL: Got a condo. The condominium complex was built in probably the early 60s to the mid-60s. I did a recent renovation of the entire complex. And when they completed the plumbing process in my bathroom, after they finished everything they put new faucets, new tub/shower combo. And now, whenever you turn on any of the water faucets, there’s a rusty-brown color that comes from the – from this faucet. And it only comes out for about three to five seconds and then it clears immediately and goes away.

But I never had this problem ever before prior to doing the renovation. And I don’t have it in any of the other rooms, except for the master bedroom that is kind of connected to the same pipes. So I’m just wondering if my plumber had put in the wrong piping to go into the fixtures or if it’s rust that’s built up in the old pipes, since it’s such an older complex.

TOM: Anything is possible. Kind of hard to diagnose why that’s happening. But I’ll tell you where the solution lies and it’s not that complicated of a project. And that’s at the main water line when it comes into the unit. What I would do is I would put a whole-house water filter right there. They’re not terribly expensive. You do have to turn off the main water line. And this is a plumbing job, so you’d have to hire a plumber for it to cut in the filter. But the filters could last anywhere from three months to a year or more, depending on which type of system you buy.

And the filter, at that level, is designed to take out the bigger particulates, like rust. It can improve taste but it’s mostly designed to take out particulates. So if you put it there, no matter where it’s coming from that’ll pull it out.

RANDALL: Now, let me ask a question because I was told, possibly, that I need to flush my hot-water heater.

TOM: I mean I guess it’s possible. But frankly, I don’t really see the need to do hot water-heater flushing unless you have really hard water. I don’t think – you can’t really hurt it by doing it. But I will tell you sometimes when you do flush the water heater, you will find that the valve at the bottom – you can open it but then it becomes hard to close; it doesn’t close all the way. You also have to release the pressure-relief valve on the side. And that also can get kind of clogged with debris and sometimes it doesn’t close all the way.

So, if you do take on that project, keep in mind that you might end up having to do more than you counted on. Because what you would do is turn the water valves off to it at the top and then you would open up the hose at the bottom. You would probably have a rubber hose connected to that, by the way, going to a sink. And you would have to pull open the tab on the pressure-relief valve on the side to let air into the tank. Otherwise, it won’t drain.


TOM: So, it’s possible that you can do that. But I’m very cautious about that, because I know from experience that sometimes when you mess with those valves that haven’t been opened or touched in years, they don’t always go back.

RANDALL: Right, right. OK. Alright. Great. I really appreciate you all’s comments and help. And I’ll lean maybe towards the filter system, like you were discussing, and I’ll go from there.

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

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at 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, smart-home products are everywhere these days. But if you’ve not taken that step to join the smart-home generation, we’re going to have some tips to help you figure out if smart-home products are a smart move for you, in today’s Smart Tip presented by Lutron, 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 what are you working on? We’d love to hear all about it. Give us a call if you’ve got a question, right now, 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.

And if you do pick up the phone, we’ve got both the tips and the tools you need for your home improvement project because we are giving away the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, along with a supply of staples. It is the most popular, American-made staple gun ever. It’s got all-chrome/steel housing, a jam-resistant mechanism, a powerful coil spring, a nice viewing window and steel working parts.

There’s a lot of things you can do with that Arrow T50 Staple Gun, including creating light-up wall art which is a project, right now, online at the Arrow Fastener website. Just go to You can read all about the light-up wall-art project. You’ll get step-by-step tips and everything you need to get that project done, at Just click on Projects.

And that Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun is going out to one caller, one listener drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Leslie in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with an oversized oak door. What happened? Did it grow?

LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: What I did was – I live in a 100-year-old, German bungalow-style house.

TOM: Nice.

LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: And I changed the doors. It had been remodeled and it just had the flat, hollow-core doors in it. I changed them out for solid – for oak doors. And in one room, the door now – the hinges are in the very corner, as it were. But at the bottom, it meets and at the top, there’s about a ½-inch gap where we put wedges. So I’m wondering how to trim that out appropriately.

The original doors had 1-by trim with the flat board on top, so they butt against the board on the top. And I’m wondering what I can do to make this work.

TOM: So, if I understand this correctly, you purchased a prehung door, you installed it into the old opening. In order to make it fit, you had to shim it in quite a bit. And as a result, now you have large gaps between the prehung and the old door opening. Is that correct?


TOM: Alright. So, you need a wider trim, obviously; that’s where you’re going to have to start with this.

Now, the most traditional trim is clamshell – which is, I think, quite boring – 2½-inch or 2¼-inch wide, surrounds the door. A more interesting way to do this might be to trim it off with a two-piece trim. So what you could use is you could use a piece of baseboard molding as the first layer of trim. So this would give you a wide molding all around the door.

And you could make this as wide as you have to. Baseboard molding is usually either 2½ inches or 3½ inches wide. So you treat – use that as casing, if that makes sense. And then on top of the outside edge of the baseboard, you can put corner molding. And so it becomes sort of – its outside corner mold, so it becomes stepped. So, the fluted part of the baseboard is against the hinge and then it steps up at the end with the outside corner molding. And this gives you sort of a two-tiered casement arrangement all around the entire door.

This can be very, very attractive. I once did an entire house like this and it looked really good. Gives you a lot of dimension and it kind of brings you back to the day when all the moldings around doors were done in a really fancy way like this and gives that particular door a lot of personality.

LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: Thank you so much for your help.

TOM: Well, everywhere you look these days, smart-home products are available to make homes safer, more secure, more efficient and more convenient. But if you’re still staring at a flip phone, maybe, instead of a smartphone or maybe you made the leap to an iPhone or an Android but you just haven’t added those products yet, our advice is the water is fine and it’s time to jump in.

LESLIE: Yeah. You know, the nice thing about today’s smart-home products is that it’s super easy to start small and then add products that you think bring benefit to your routine, one at a time.

For example, going into winter might be a great time to add a smart thermostat. Now, these thermostats know when you’re home and when you’re not. And they can automatically adjust the heat to save you from heating an empty house.

TOM: And lighting is also a big area where smart-home technology can help. For example, Lutron makes a product called Caseta that’s a smart lighting control that gives you the ability to set your lights to come on at dusk so your family always comes back to a well-lit home.

LESLIE: Yeah, now even your plumbing can get smarter with smart-home technology, as well. They’re easy-to-install water monitors. And you can set them to measure your home’s water usage and even alert you when you waste water or if there’s a major leak, even when you’re not at home.

TOM: And here’s one of my favorites: a garage-door controller that alerts you if you forget to shut the door when you leave.

There’s also smart window blinds that can go up and down to adjust the light level in your home during all hours of the day. Point is, large or small, there are smart-home products that make life safer, secure, efficient and convenient. So, pick one to start with and we bet, before too long, you’ll become a happy member of that smart-home generation.

LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Tip presented by Lutron, makers of the Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch Starter Kit. With Caseta by Lutron’s Smart Lighting Control, you can set your lights to come on every night at dusk. And the sunset tracker automatically adjusts as the seasons change, so you know your family will always come back to a well-lit home.

TOM: Caseta by Lutron. Welcome home to peace of mind.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Corey in Michigan who is dealing with an addition that’s having a hard time maintaining its heat. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

COREY: I purchased a foreclosure a couple years ago and they put an addition on the back of the house. And the house has a basement but there’s a crawlspace under the addition. And I’ve noticed the past couple years that I’ve been here – the addition in the back, it’s just one room. It’s like a great room; it’s about 18×20 feet. And it’s always colder; it’s around 10 to 15 degrees colder than the rest of the house.

LESLIE: And what type of heating do you have in that space?

COREY: We have forced-air heating throughout the house and they put an additional duct going to that room. And we also have a gas fireplace in the back. But unfortunately, I’m always finding myself having to put the fireplace on to try and even out the …

TOM: So, did they try to extend the heating system from the main house into the addition?

COREY: They did. And that was part of my concern when I was looking at it, because they ran a duct right off of the main duct off the furnace.

TOM: Yeah.

COREY: So, I was thinking maybe kind of like how air would take the path of least resistance, it’s just continuing through the large duct and not really being forced into the smaller duct that goes right into that room. Because the furnace is actually very close to that room.

TOM: So it sounds like what they tried to do is take the inexpensive way out, which is to extend the existing heating system into that room, which may or may not have been properly done. So, have you had an HVAC contractor look at this and look at the duct runs?

COREY: No, I haven’t, no.

TOM: Yeah, so I would do this: I would look at the duct runs first and see if the duct system can be adjusted or additional ducts can be installed to get more air into that room. You need more heat in that room. That would be the least expensive way to go. If you’re running this gas fireplace to try to balance off the chilliness in that room, you might want to think about – because we’re just sort of working with – I guess the coldest days is when you need this, I would imagine? You might want to think about adding electric baseboard heat.

Now, we almost never recommend that because it’s the most expensive but in a situation where you’re trying to add supplemental heat to a room, that’s not a bad way to go, because it’s inexpensive to install and you’re only going to run it when you really need it.

COREY: OK. OK. What do you think about maybe putting like – I know they have those fans that you can stick inside ducts to maybe help pull the air into the duct?

TOM: I wouldn’t go that route until I had a good HVAC installer – not a service guy, not a guy who just tunes up furnaces but somebody that really knows how to lay out a duct system for a house – look at it. That’s called a “duct booster.” It might be an alternative; it might not. It depends on how the duct was put together, how much supply air and return air is getting back.

Because remember, you can’t just throw the air in there. You’ve got to pull the cold air out of there and send it back to the heating system. So if they’ve just got supplies and no return, that could also be an issue.

COREY: OK. Yeah, there is a return but yeah, it’s – I don’t know. I’m not sure exactly how many corners they cut, because I know in the crawlspace there, they didn’t put no Visqueen down or anything like that, also.

TOM: Yeah, well, I would talk to an HVAC contractor about the duct layout, see if you can get some additional feedback on that and then just look at all the alternatives. What’s it going to cost to get the duct system working right? Can it work right? Is the existing furnace big enough to supply the amount of heat that that room is going to need, given its location, given how much glass is there and so on? And remember, keep that as a fallback position that you could always add electric baseboard to supplement what you have.


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

LESLIE: Well, your roof weathers every storm, protects your home’s structure and keeps you and your family warm and dry. But it’s not going to last forever. We’ll tell you what you need to know when your roof’s got to go.

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: What are you working on this weekend? Are you thinking about putting up some holiday lights? If you are, you’re probably sorting through those strings now to make sure they’re all still working. If they’re not, my advice: buy LED. They’re a little more expensive, true, but they’re brighter and they just don’t wear out. Plus, they’ve got some cool gadgets out there right now where you can even change the patterns.

So, think about updating your lighting instead of trying to figure out which one of those bulbs is the one that’s burnt out. Because I’ve got to tell you, you get the first one fixed, you’re going to find about three more after that. Probably after you get that string up on a ladder, too – up high on the house on a ladder and you’re like, “Darn it. I had it working and now it’s not.”

LESLIE: Gayla in California is having an issue with a countertop. Tell us what’s going on.

GAYLA: I am. About four-and-a-half years ago, I remodeled my kitchen and installed Corian countertops. And I used the pattern called Savannah; it’s one of the light ones. So I’m getting ready now to sell my home and looking at the countertops, they’re really – there’s tons, like thousands of hairline scratches. And I’m wondering, how can I bring back their luster? They never were shiny but they were lustrous.

LESLIE: Yeah, they do have a satin finish that looks very rich and nice but obviously, over time, just from normal wear and tear, they are going to dull and not look so great.

There’s a good website that generally specializes in granite and marble care – it’s called – but they do have some products for Corian. And there’s actually a spray. You know, it’s made to reduce a residue on the surface. I’m not sure it’s going to help you with the scratches but it could be a good starting point. It’s called their Deep Cleaner for Corian. And that might be a good place to start, at least.

GAYLA: OK. Yeah, I don’t know that they’re that dirty. I do keep them quite clean but it’s just a question – it’s just those hairline scratches. And when the sun comes through the window, you really see them.

TOM: What that product does is it will also pull out any residue from all the cleaning that you have been doing so religiously, which is a good thing. The other nice thing, though, about Corian is the scratches can be repaired. And if you – the Corian can be repolished, basically lightly sanded, so to speak and …

GAYLA: Oh, I was wondering about that.

TOM: Right. To actually pull those scratches right out. So that’s not something that I would recommend that you do the first time out.

GAYLA: No, I don’t think so.

TOM: But if you contact a kitchen-cabinet company, for example, they might have an installer and for a reasonably small fee, they might come out and repolish those tops for you. They’re going to have all the tools and the equipment, as well. And probably they can pull many of those scratches right out.

GAYLA: Well, thank you. That sounds like the way to go for me.

TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project and good luck selling your house.

GAYLA: Well, thank you and best to you both.

LESLIE: Well, one of the most important structural components of your home might not just be the foundation. We’re actually talking about your roof. It’s going to weather every storm, it protects the rest of your home’s structure and of course, it keeps you warm and dry if it’s in good shape.

TOM: That’s right. But with all the beating your roof takes, a roof replacement is usually in every homeowner’s future at one time or another. Here with tips to help us through that project is Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House.

Welcome, Tommy.

TOM SILVA: Thanks, guys. Nice to be here.

TOM: Nice to have you back again. And Tom, just because you have a leak in a roof might not mean that you need a new roof. But what are some of the key signs we should be looking for to know if our roof really has reached the end of its life?

TOM SILVA: If you don’t like to be up on a roof, I’d say a nice pair of binoculars to look from the ground, to look at the condition of the shingles.

TOM: Good advice.

TOM SILVA: Usually, the granules will start to wear off. If you clean your gutters and there’s a lot of granules in your gutters, usually at the end of the season, that means that they’re starting to wear down. If the roof is cupped or if the corners are peeled up, that’s a sign that the roof is getting ready to be replaced.

They wear out. The rainwater comes down, hits them and they get abuse from the wind, the rain.

TOM: And the sun, the UV.

TOM SILVA: The sun, yes. Yep.

TOM: Yep. Mm-hmm.

LESLIE: Now, here’s something that we talk about a lot on the show. We talk about when you’re replacing your roof, do you put the new roof on top of the existing roof shingle? Do you take everything off? I know we looked into replacing our roof and in our village, you needed to sort of jump through the hoops to remove the existing layers of shingles there. But if you wanted to just go right on top, you didn’t need any paperwork at all. And I feel like you should take it off.

TOM SILVA: Yeah. Well, I don’t ever put a roof on a roof. I do not like it. I think it’s absolutely stupid. That roof is going to end up in a landfill, eventually, anyway.

TOM: Right.

TOM SILVA: So, for someone to say, “Oh, no, leave it on and go over it,” that’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong. You’re adding problems because, number one, you’re adding more weight – constant weight – to your roof. And you’re shortening the lifetime of that shingle anyways because it’s sitting on top of an insulation bed, so it can get hotter. And if it gets hotter, it’s going to wear out faster.

TOM: Now, if you are going to strip your roof off, you have an opportunity to reconstruct it, really take advantage of some of the more modern materials that are available today. What would you recommend in terms of, you know, underlayments and ice-and-water shields and that sort of thing, to kind of make sure the base is good to go? And would that change based on what part of the country you’re in? So, for example, if you’re down in Florida – an area that’s prone to hurricanes – might you build it different than you were up in Vermont?

TOM SILVA: Mm-hmm. Well, yeah, absolutely. There are a lot of products out there that will basically keep your house dry and the roof shingle, in this case, becomes basically aesthetic. And their materials are really great.

But one of the things that I look at, when I strip a roof, is I now am able to look at the existing sheathing. What’s the condition of it? Does it need to be replaced? Are there boards that have to be fixed? Then I can look at that, fix what I have to fix and then I automatically renail off the whole sheathing, tighten it back up to the roof structure. That’s important.

Now, if I live in a climate that has a lot of snow and ice, I want to think about ice protection from ice dams. And I’d want to put on a self-sealing membrane. There’s a few of them out there. For example, Grace Ice & Water Shield is probably the one that’s most known for.

But a lot of people put that on incorrectly and even roofers put it on incorrectly. The first layer – the first row – should overhang the roof edge by at least 3 or 4 inches. That should then wrap down around the leading edge of the sheathing, down under and onto the fascia board. Then that has to get protected by another piece of wood because the sun will break it down. Then you put your first course of drip edge on that. It’s a self-sealing membrane. So when you nail through it, the water won’t leak.

TOM: And that’s a great reason, right there, to strip the roof off down to the sheathing every single time. Because you couldn’t do that if you were putting a second layer on.

TOM SILVA: No, you cannot do that. Yeah, absolutely.

TOM: And another point that you made, which I think is great, is about that sheathing. What I used to see in all the years I spent as a home inspector was that the older homes – especially the homes that were built, say, in the 60s or 70s which, of course, to a guy from This Old House is not that old. But that said, those homes, I find, in that era, the ventilation was very poorly done and you see a lot of damaged sheathing.

TOM SILVA: Oh, yeah. A lot of damaged sheathing and lots of times, the sheathing is too thin.

TOM: Right.

TOM SILVA: Because they started using plywood back then. It was a new deal and the plywood – “Oh, this is really strong. We can put in ½-inch when you shouldn’t put ½-inch on a roof.” You should have a minimum of 5/8. And if you’re replacing a board when older ­– in older houses, you want to make sure that the board you use is the same thickness that the board’s existing. Because with the shingles that they have today, if you use a standard three-tab, fiberglass shingle, that shingle will actually fall into that little valley and you’ll see a dip in the roof shingles.

So, it’s not – structurally, it’s fine. It’s just appearance-wise. And those are the little things that bug me. If it’s not perfect, it’s not right.

TOM: That’s right. And that’s our motto: do it once, do it right, you won’t have to do it again for a very long time.

Tom Silva, General Contractor from TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

TOM SILVA: My pleasure. Nice to be here.

LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some step-by-step videos on many common home improvement projects, visit

TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by Marvin Windows and Doors.

Just ahead, do you know the most expensive way to heat water is with an electric water heater? We’ll share tips on a popular technology that’s so cost-effective as an alternative, you might not even notice a bump in your bill.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: We’d love to hear what you’re working on. Give us a call, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

LESLIE: You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, 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.

LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’ve got the answers to help you out with whatever it is you are working on. But we’ve also got some great prizes to give away each hour. And this one is a pretty fantastic tool that will help you with so many things around the house and I’m sure projects that you didn’t even know you could use it for. We’ve got up for grabs the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, with a ton of staples.

It is the most popular, American-made staple gun ever. I mean these things last forever. They’ve got an all-chrome housing that is just super durable. I know Tom still uses his grandfather’s. I’ve had one for ages and ages and ages that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

And there’s so many things that you can do with the Arrow T50 Staple Gun. You can create a pretty cool project that they’re featuring on their website, right now, which is light-up wall art. Head on over to, look in the Projects section. Check out light-up wall art and you’re going to get all the step-by-step tips, even advice that you need to get that project done. Again, head on over to and click on Projects for some great ideas.

TOM: And that Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Shirley in Nebraska on the line who has a foundation question. What’s going on at your money pit?

SHIRLEY: I have a townhome and the dirt around my foundation, due to the drought, pulled away. I had somebody come in and grade it, fill it with dirt and some river rock on top of that. However, my basement is a poured-concrete basement, where they have the metal rods in different – in the sections? And I have some fine lines of cracks going down and maybe going out about 6 inches from those rods. Do I have to be concerned about that? Do I have to fill those in with something or do something? Paint over it or …?

TOM: Generally, those are shrinkage cracks. Whenever you pour that much concrete, you get a fair amount of shrinkage cracking. And so if they’re fine lines like you’re describing, I wouldn’t worry too much about them, Shirley.


TOM: That’s considered fairly normal with a poured-concrete foundation which, by the way, is one of the most – is one of the stronger foundations that you could have.

SHIRLEY: Mm-hmm. I just didn’t have all those before the dirt problem, so that’s why I was wondering about it.

TOM: Yeah. And I would make sure that you maintain proper drainage around the house so that you’re restoring the dirt that shrunk away and that it’s always sloping away from the wall. Because that’s going to keep – that’s going to make sure you don’t make excessive moisture, because the other thing could happen: when it’s not dry out and you get very wet weather, the excessive moisture, that can have an adverse effect on a foundation. So just make sure you always maintain the proper slope on the outside and fill in those gaps as they occur.

SHIRLEY: OK. Thank you so much.

TOM: Well, do you have an electric water heater? Do you keep the temperature down low or even turn it off when you’re not home because it’s just so darn expensive to run? Well, now there is actually a better way. It’s called an “integrated air-source heat-pump water heater.”

LESLIE: Yeah. Now, this kind of water heater is not only going to cut your water-heating costs but it will reduce your family’s carbon footprint by nearly 2 tons every year. It has more than twice the efficiency of standard electric water heaters and it’s even cheaper to run than both an electric or gas water heater.

You know, example here: if your annual energy costs for hot water is about $550, you can save as much as $300 a year. That’s a huge savings.

TOM: Yep. And its ENERGY STAR rating also allows it to qualify for a federal tax credit and maybe even local credits through your state or your utility company.

So, next time your water heater goes, if it’s electric, think about installing an integrated air-source heat-pump water heater and your wallet will thank you, as will Mother Nature.


We’d love to hear from you about your next home improvement project. Give us a call right now.

LESLIE: Up next, the risk of dryer fires is a very real one. We’re going to talk about cleaning the lint from your dryer. Yeah, folks, it’s something that you have to do from time to time. And it’s actually pretty easy and kind of fun once you get started. First of all, if you haven’t ever done it, you’re going to be amazed at what does come out. But it’s a project you’re probably going to want to do every single year.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Hey, what are you working on? If it’s your home, you’re in exactly the right place. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

LESLIE: That’s right. But two pros are standing right now to help you out. Post your questions online in The Money Pit Community section.

And I’ve got one here from Carrie. Now, Carrie writes: “We’ve an old barn that is about 30×40 feet in Western Massachusetts. The first floor of the barn is open and has granite footings under the posts. There’s currently a dirt floor but we want to make the bottom level of the barn a woodshop and are wondering if it would work to pour a concrete slab or if you’ve got a better option for transforming the space into a usable shop.”

TOM: You know, I’m envious because that barn sounds like a great space for a woodshop, right?

LESLIE: It sounds pretty gorgeous.

TOM: I mean a concrete floor would probably make the most sense but since the building itself is supporting the floor, it will have no structural purpose. So, you don’t need to have this be any thicker than around, I don’t know, 5 or 6 inches or so.

Now, you want to make sure the slab doesn’t crack, so I’d be sure to use a good-quality mason to do this. Preparing the grade is really key. That stone base under the slab, absolutely important because it needs to be tamped down to eliminate any settlement under the slab. That’s why slabs move and crack. And if you really want to make sure you get no cracks, make sure you put wire reinforcement into that slab.

And given that you’re in Massachusetts, I’d also think about insulating under that slab, to make it a bit more comfortable to work on in cold weather. That’s really easy to do. You just put insulation down before you put – pour the concrete. And that floor temperature will not be very super cold in the winter. If you don’t, it’ll be like standing on a sheet of ice. A non-slippery sheet of ice but nonetheless, a sheet of ice.

So, great project. Good luck with that.

LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Samantha in Washington. Now, she writes: “I have a gray porcelain sink in my bathroom and the bottom – the part near the drain – is now dull and staining. What can I use to reseal it or clean it?”

TOM: Nothing. Because what you’re seeing there is not a stain. A lot of times, folks see these discolorations in their plumbing fixture and think it’s a stain but it’s actually wear and tear on that plumbing fixture itself. As that finish starts to wear off, you get that discoloration. And obviously, since it’s really a surface that’s worn, it’s not going to be something that you can remove.

Now, there are different ways to try to refinish those fixtures. But frankly, I’m not really thrilled with any of them and I think you’re probably better off just replacing that sink.

LESLIE: Yeah. And Sam, if you’re looking for a sink that sort of has that same style or even in those same color palettes, you might want to try an architectural salvage, or some sort of upcycling center, where they sell things from older home renovations that are in perfectly good shape that are just simply not going to be used anymore, which is a shame. So it’s great that these centers exist.

I’m sure if you Google in your area, you’ll find an architectural salvage or one of these recycling centers for building materials. And you can pop on over to there; they’re open to the public. And you can find everything from sinks to flooring to faucets, truly all kinds of things for projects at a very discounted price and sometimes in huge quantities. I’ve seen flooring that’ll do an entire room because, perhaps, it was – the wrong item arrived or it wasn’t ordered correctly or it was extra. And the builders and homeowners are giving them there so that it helps out a great organization and helps a homeowner, as well.

TOM: Good advice.

You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on another beautiful fall weekend. We hope that you’ve had a great fall thus far, enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday and are now preparing for all of the holidays that are lying just ahead of us. And if those holidays include some projects to help fix up your house before all your friends and family show up, remember, you can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your questions online at

But for now, that’s all the time we have. The show does continue online.

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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