How to Get Ready for Any Storm

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’d like to wish you a very Happy New Year. We’ve come to that transition weekend: out with the old, in with the new. Are you planning on some improvements to your money pit in 2019? If you are, you’re in exactly the right place. We’re here to guide you, coach you, encourage you and keep you out of do-it-yourself trouble if it’s a project that maybe you should turning a pro to get done. But help yourself first. We’d love to hear about what your plans are for projects or answer your home improvement or décor questions. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, which is 888-666-3974. We’d love to hear what’s on your list.

Coming up on today’s show, we’re going to chat about winter-storm protection. You know, those storms can pop up unexpectedly and they can be a lot worse than what they’re predicted. We’re going to give you some tips on the emergency supplies you need to have on hand so that you can really handle any storm that’s coming up.

LESLIE: And now that it’s really cold outside – I mean January cold – it’s winter, you guys. Are you getting a bit tired of having to walk the dog in this bitter, cold weather? Well, if you install a doggie door, think about it: your dog can walk himself. Well, kind of.

TOM: That’s right.

LESLIE: They at least can get outside on their own. So, we’re going to share the latest options in “pet portals” – let’s call them that – so you can do just that.

TOM: And are you planning a new project for the new year? We’re going to highlight some very creative, new financing options that stores are rolling out right now to help you pay for it. All that’s coming up. But first, we want to hear from you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Denise in Ohio is on the line with some window condensation. Tell us what’s going on.

DENISE: I’ve got some windows; they’re double-pane. The house is about 10 years old. And I am constantly battling condensation in the windows. I typically, with a lot of the windows, open them daily and close them at nighttime. If there’s some windows that I don’t get to in the wintertime, when it gets really cold, there is water dripping. It pools, it turns to ice. I try and get some of that putty-type stuff that you can put in the bottom and along the sides.

TOM: Is the condensation inside the panes of the windows or is it like on the inside surface?

DENISE: Inside surface of the house.

TOM: Alright. And these are thermal-pane windows or single-pane windows?

DENISE: Double.

TOM: Well, clearly, the insulated glass is not insulated, so that’s why you’re getting this level of condensation. If you had truly insulated glass, it would be too warm for this condensation to occur. But you have warm, moist air in the house. It’s striking the very, very cold, virtually uninsulated glass and then condensing on that glass and dripping down. So that’s what’s going on; that’s what’s causing the moisture. It’s nothing more than, unfortunately, bad windows.

So, with that said, replacement windows are in your future. Now, you don’t have to do it immediately but it’s a project you’re going to have to face. I mean the good news is that replacement windows, the costs have come down. They’re all custom-made by just by nature, so the company will measure the windows in your house. And by replacing them, they simply pull out the sashes – the old sashes – and slip in a new window into the old hole. And it looks great, it works well. It’s just a good system. So that’s in your future.

For now, though, what we need to do is two things: we need to take as much humidity out of the house as we can and secondly, I’d like to see you get a barrier in front of those windows. So, if you could use, for example, an insulated shade – one that has sort of those honeycomb kind of designs – that would help a little bit.

DENISE: I’ve got double right now and I’ve just ordered triple for some other windows.

TOM: Well, that will help because that, basically, will stop some of that warm, moist air from hitting the window. And also drapes. Shades and drapes help the situation.

In terms of the humidity, there are a number of ways we can attack this. First of all, you want to make sure you start outside your house, looking at the drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. Because believe it or not, if water is allowed to collect around the foundation and it doesn’t run away from your house, if the gutters aren’t extended away from the house, that foundation will absorb water and it will release into the air once it gets inside. That adds to the humidity. So I would definitely do that.

Secondly, I would ask you to check to make sure that all your vent fans are venting out, not recirculating. Because that will help, as well.

And thirdly, up in the attic, you want to make sure that you’re well-ventilated. Because that vapor pressure starts at the basement or first floor – will permeate all the building materials and end up in the attic. And if the attic’s not ventilated enough, it’s going to kind of hang right there.

So, those are ways to reduce humidity inside the house. Of course, you could also use a whole-home dehumidifier. But I think, in this case, if we just control moisture and try to get something that’s protecting those windows, that’s the best you’re going to do short of replacing them.

DENISE: Well, what about getting some circulation? If I open them earlier in the morning and get some circulation going, will that …?

TOM: Nah, you’re – listen, this is just science, OK? Warm, moist air against cold surface equals condensation, you know? The flip – you see this in the summer when you go outside with a glass of iced tea and moisture forms on the outside of it. It’s the same thing. It’s just happening in the winter in your house because everything is reversed: the warm, moist air is inside the house and that cold glass is your window.

DENISE: Yes. And unfortunately, we have to keep the humidity at a certain temperature because of asthma and allergies.

TOM: Hmm. Yeah.

DENISE: Alright. Didn’t get as good a window as I thought I did. Alright. Thank you.

TOM: Alright, Denise. Sorry we couldn’t give you better news but maybe you’ll get through with that.


LESLIE: Lane in Arkansas is looking to do some countertop updates with a cement countertop. How can we help you with that project?

LANE: I’ve been wanting to get granite countertops forever and I can’t really afford it, being a single dad and paying the mortgage and everything. So, I was looking at the concrete method. I’ve watched some videos on YouTube and whatnot and I really like how it looks, because it looks a lot like the granite.

And my question kind of – or is it pretty simple for a guy that knows a lot – not a lot about concrete but a little about it? And the edging stuff that they sell on websites, do you need to buy that or can – is there a way that you can do it with just normal wood, where you can form it up yourself?

TOM: So, first of all, concrete countertops are beautiful but they’re a lot of work to build, as you’ve learned if you’ve watched all of those YouTube videos, which I commend you for doing.

In terms of the edging, you certainly – having those tools certainly makes it a lot easier. But if you’re crafty, you probably could make your own edging tools to get an acceptable edge to that concrete surface.


TOM: The good news is that the material itself is fairly inexpensive. So if you really screw it up, you could break it up, throw it in the garden and start again.

LANE: Right.

TOM: But the key is really the prep and making sure that you’ve got the form built correctly and you’re totally ready to go, you know exactly what you’re going to do once you start to pour in that concrete. Because you don’t get a second chance.

LANE: Would you recommend a certain type of concrete?

TOM: QUIKRETE makes a commercial-grade countertop mix.

LANE: Alright.

TOM: So I would just go buy that.


TOM: You could pick that up at a home center/hardware store and just go for that.

LANE: Well, that sounds good. That’s probably what I’ll end up doing then.

TOM: Alright. Well, 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 on air and online at Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

TOM: 888-666-3974.

Up next, winter storms are on the way. If it happens to you, do you have the right emergency supplies to get you through it? We’re going to give you a tip on what you need to get through any storm, after this.

Making good homes better, 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, your DIY dilemma, your New Year’s resolution. If it has something to do with your house, the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Millions of people have a resolution to lose weight this time of year, Leslie.


TOM: So, I say lose weight with your house. Declutter. Get rid of that junk. That’s a way to lose weight and get ‘er done, right? 888-666-3974. And you can have a pizza when you’re done, right? There’s no other way you can lose weight and then have a pizza. But if you’re decluttering, you’re welcome to have a pizza when you’re done.


Susan in Missouri has a question about a fireplace. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

SUSAN: Well, I have a gas fireplace and it’s one of those where they seem to have cut the hole in the wall and stuck the fireplace in there and now I cannot stop the wind from blowing in. I don’t know what to do.

TOM: OK. So, is the wind coming in the hole where the gas pipe is coming through?

SUSAN: It seems to be coming from all around the fireplace. It’s got the mantel and it comes from around the mantel. And anywhere where there’s – where it’s been put together, it seems to have air coming in. And of course, it is coming in – it’s got the outside box, I guess. They have the exhaust.

TOM: OK. So this sounds to me like it’s a manufactured fireplace as opposed to an old, brick one that was converted to gas. Is that correct?

SUSAN: Absolutely. Absolutely, yes.

TOM: And it has doors on it, too?

SUSAN: No. It does not.

TOM: Do you know what the brand is of the fireplace?

SUSAN: A Lennox, I believe.

TOM: Well, the first thing I would do is I would take a look at the installation. And very often, there’s probably gaps somewhere around that box that were not properly sealed. I could – I would also consider contacting Lennox and getting the original installation instructions. You may even be able to download those, which would give you or your contractor a guide to determine if it was correctly installed. And then, thirdly, I would find out if doors are available for that fireplace, because that could solve all your problems.


TOM: Especially if it’s a gas fireplace premade and it has a combustion air supply, you may be able to keep that all behind the glass doors and stop all the drafts from coming through.

SUSAN: Oh, that’s a great idea. Thank you. I’ll try that.

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

LESLIE: Jake is calling in from Ontario, Canada with a painting question. How can we help you today?

JAKE: Just calling because I’m doing some home renovations, obviously. And I’m starting to paint a room and I’m wondering what my best option is with regards to which order I should do things. So, I have baseboards on the walls. Just wondering if it’s a good idea to take the baseboards off before painting or should I paint with the baseboards on? And what order? Walls first? Baseboards first? Stuff like that.

TOM: There’s an amazing invention called “masking tape,” Jake. And it does the trick with protecting those baseboards.

So, obviously, you need to prep and prep is really the hardest part of painting. So getting the drop cloths down and getting everything masked off so you can separate the colors.

Now, are the baseboards painted now?

JAKE: They are, yeah. I just don’t like the color.

TOM: So what I would do is I would paint the baseboards first. I would paint all the trim first, because you can be a little sloppy about that. You don’t have to mask them off. Because if it gets on the wall, you’re going to paint the wall anyway. So I would go ahead and paint the baseboards first and the trim. And then, after it dries for a couple of days, then I would mask it off very, very carefully so that you can paint the wall colors whatever color you want.

Then, of course, the first step with wall painting is to do the – what we call the “cut-in,” where you paint along that masking-tape line and establish that edge around that border, around the walls and around the floor where the baseboard is. And then you can fill the rest in with a roller.

JAKE: So with the masking tape, is it a good idea to remove the masking tape right away? Or should I let the paint dry and then remove it?

TOM: Yeah, let it dry first.


TOM: And if it takes – if it starts to peel a little bit of the paint off – sometimes that happens – just take a razor blade and just slice the sort of the paint that went between the masking tape and the wall.

And there’s also different types of masking tape that have absorbents built into it that’s designed to specifically stop that from happening. One is FrogTape. A little bit more expensive but it has an absorbent built into it so it sort of gives you a much cleaner edge without that sort of rip-py kind of masking-tape edge that can happen sometimes.

JAKE: OK. Perfect. Thanks very much.

TOM: Well, winter storms can pop up very quickly. But a few quick tips might help with everything from minor annoyances to major problems. First, one of the most difficult situations to get out of is a car stuck in the snow. The tires can spin endlessly, there’s no traction anywhere. You’re totally stuck. So here’s a solution: keep a bag of kitty litter or birdseed in the trunk. If you spread it under the tires, it will improve the traction and it might just get you out of a jam.

LESLIE: I always think, whenever I hear birdseed for a car – we had a very old garage door a million-zillion years ago at my parents’ house. And a raccoon broke into the garage. And when my dad got home, he found the raccoon sitting in his car eating a bag of birdseed.

TOM: Oh, man.

LESLIE: I always think about that when I think of this birdseed tip for the winter season.

Now, here’s another great thing that you want to keep on hand in the winter months: deicer. It’s really, really handy, especially when it comes to your car’s windshield. Now, you can make your own deicer. All you need is a teaspoon of a grease-fighting dish detergent, like Dawn, a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol and a ½-gallon of warm water and it really works so ridiculously quickly.

TOM: Yeah, you can use the solution on driveways and walkways and windshields to prevent those wet surfaces from freezing over. It’s kind of a DIY version of the stuff they put down on roadways, right, to stop the ice from freezing?

LESLIE: Works so fast, too.

TOM: Yep. So you use it before the storm. It’s going to keep the ice from sticking to those hard surfaces.

Next, you want to choose the right shovel. Look for one that’s got an ergonomic handle and a non-stick surface. It makes a big difference.

LESLIE: Now, here’s a good tip when it comes to your shovel and it’s a hack that you’ve probably never thought of. Spray that shovel with cooking spray or even a lubricant like WD-40. Because when you are shoveling, you know how the first couple of times the snow slides right off and then it sticks and it just gets heavier? But if you lubricate the shovel itself, the snow is going to slide right off and that’s going to make shoveling a lot easier for your back.

And in case of a power outage, you want to freeze some plastic bags of water ahead of time. And then you can use those in your fridge and that’ll help keep your food cold.

TOM: Now, you can also use outside spaces to keep the food from spoiling if the temperature is 40 degrees or below. You can pretty much put any kind of hardy perishable, like fruits or veggies, in a cooler and just leave them on your deck or patio or front porch. But don’t leave them unprotected; otherwise, the animals are going to get them because they’re hungry, too.

LESLIE: Marilyn, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

MARILYN: We are a military family. My husband’s in the military and I’m a stay-at-home mom to five kids and we home-school. And basically, in the past when we’ve moved, we’ve always bought a house and – basically, thinking that if you pay yourself it’s better than paying someone else. However, we’re moving to Illinois this time and the property taxes are quite excruciatingly high. And we’re just trying to decide if it’s better to buy or to rent this time.

TOM: So do you know how long your husband – well, first of all, thank you for your service and your family’s service. Do you know how long you will be in the Illinois area?

MARILYN: Well, it could be anywhere from two years to three, four, five. You never know with the military, you know.

TOM: Because you know what the risk is if you buy a house and then it turns out you have to move again. If you can’t sell it or if you – if the market turns and it ends up not being worth what you paid for it, you could get underwater pretty quick on that. And so, in circumstances when you’re in the military, I think a lot of times it does make sense to rent. Because the other thing is you don’t want to have to move out of there – “Now I need to carry two houses” – maybe find yourself being a distant landlord to a property. Now, these are all difficult scenarios that you really want to avoid.

Have you spoken with your accountant about the tax consequences of perhaps renting instead of buying? Because there may be some advantages there.

MARILYN: We haven’t yet because we just found out a couple days ago, so …

TOM: And you know what? You can always rent first. Renting is a short-term commitment. I understand that moving is a hassle but you could always rent first, get to know the area, get more comfortable and then make a decision later if it looks like you’re going to stay. You don’t have to do it all in once.

MARILYN: OK. I guess my hesitation with that is that we have five small children. So I’d like to move as little as possible.

TOM: I would think that – better off selling it now, putting it on the market now. Maybe you’ll find a cooperative buyer who can delay the closing date until you guys are ready to move out. But I wouldn’t want to find you stuck not being able to get a buyer, running out of time, while your family needs to move on to the new location. So I think a bird in a hand is worth two in the bush, as my dad always used to say. So I would try to put that on the market now and hopefully it’ll sell quickly and you’ll be able to take your time getting to the new location.

And by the way, since I can imagine, with five kids, you find the house just chock full with stuff, the best way to get your house ready to sell – there’s a great article on our website at about this. But conceptually, what we’d like to see you do is to try to declutter as much as possible, make those rooms look big and bright. Because anybody that’s going to buy your house is going to probably move in from, say, another crowded house or crowded apartment. You want to make sure it looks like your stuff can – their stuff can fit in there. And then if you have any rooms that need to be repainted, just choose neutral colors for the same reason. Make it look open and inviting and that will help you sell the property as quickly as possible.

LESLIE: Well, now that it is truly wintertime, it’s real cold outside, you guys. Are you tired of walking that dog in this cold weather? Well, we’re going to help you install a doggie door so that that dog can walk themselves. We’ll share the latest option for those pet portals, 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: And Happy New Year. Do you have a New Year’s resolution that has to do with your home? You’re in the right place because we can help you get that job done and keep that New Year’s resolution. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got John in Missouri on the line. John, what’s going on?

JOHN: Well, I live in an old house built in 1892 and it has plastered walls. And I’ve got a – I had a leak this spring. I had a gutter overflow and it got behind some flashing and created what I call “plaster cancer,” which is this sort of crystalline stuff that grows out of the plaster.


JOHN: I mean it didn’t make the whole thing fall down. It just is crystal. And I got the leak fixed and I tried – I scraped all that stuff off and put a sealer on it – quick sealer paint – one of those alcohol-based things.

TOM: Right.

JOHN: And the cancer keeps going. Now it’s blown that paint off. It’s not as much but it tends to continue. And I wondered if there was something you can do to stop that from happening short of tearing that whole plaster down.

TOM: So, the plaster, when it gets wet, there are sort of fingers, so to speak, that wrap around the lath behind it. And when it gets wet, it loosens up.

JOHN: This plaster is actually on brick.

TOM: Oh, it’s on brick? OK. Alright. Strike that. So, what else could be happening is if it’s on brick and the brick got wet – the bricks are very hydroscopic, so you could be continually pulling more moisture through there. Are you absolutely certain that you’ve addressed the leak completely? Because it doesn’t sound that way. It sounds like you’ve still got some moisture in there.

JOHN: There could still be some moisture in the brick, I suppose, but it’s been super dry here in St. Louis since the end of July. And this – I got the thing fixed about the middle of July: all the flashing on the – it’s on a bay window. All the flashing above that was redone and – but it hasn’t rained pretty much at all since then.

TOM: How big is the patched area?

JOHN: It’s, oh, I don’t know, maybe 10 square feet. It’s not huge.

TOM: And that whole area is breaking up and forming these crystals?

JOHN: Yeah. Well, it’s doing this crystal-growth thing, which blows off whatever paint you put on the surface on it.

TOM: I wonder if part of what you’re seeing is the paint basically disconnecting or delaminating from the plaster itself.

JOHN: Well, yeah. This cancer sort of grows below the paint. But it’s – my problem is it’s dried up now. It hasn’t rained, so it couldn’t possibly leak; it hasn’t rained. And also, the thing is repaired.

TOM: What I would do here is this: is I would try to strip out all the paint that I could and I would probably use a paint stripper to get whatever is left behind. Maybe a gel-based stripper. And then I would put another skim coat of plaster over it. Let it dry really, really well. And then I would prime it with an oil-based paint and then repaint it.

But I think the plaster is basically disintegrated, in some respects, and I think you’re going to have to do some partial rebuilding of that surface.

JOHN: Yeah. OK. Well, because it’s – yeah, the plaster is this two-layer plaster. It’s got kind of a – looks like cement at the base layer and then it’s got a real fine, white layer that’s the finish layer. So just reapply that, huh?

TOM: That’s right. After you get rid of any loose material that’s there. You really want to make sure you have a solid base and then you can put a new skim coat on it.

JOHN: OK. Alright. I’ll give that a try.

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

LESLIE: Well, are you tired of getting up to let your pet outside and then let them back in or maybe even just tired of walking that dog? Installing a doggie door for your pooch is a great way to cut down on those trips and give your faithful pal some independence in the process. But picking the right pet door and getting it properly installed and then teaching your pet to use it are all very important steps on your way to that DIY doggie duty.

TOM: Yeah. And there are a lot of options. But you’ll be sure to be able to find one that works for you.

For example, let’s talk about the basics: door in a door. Now, that’s probably the most common type. It’s also the easiest to install but you’ve got to buy a good-quality door that’s going to have a good weather seal on it. And that really applies to all of this, to make sure you don’t damage your door in the process.

Now, you can also pick up a wall door. If you don’t want to damage or open up or put a hole in your exterior door, you could put it right through the wall. It gives you access to an area of the house where, perhaps, there isn’t a door available, as well. It’s a good solution for puppies or older pets, because it allows you to limit any chewing or messes to the laundry room or another kind of area like that that’s easy to clean, as opposed to just letting them out the regular back door with everybody else.

LESLIE: Now, there’s another option that I think a lot of people forget even is an option. They make doggie doors for sliding-glass doors. There’s a panel. Now, these are really great because they typically have a panel above that pet door to fill in all that empty space. And if you choose this option, you want to make sure that you can secure that pet door in place and place a stout dowel rod in the track behind the door so that it cannot be pushed open. You always have to think about security when you’re thinking about these doggie doors out there.

Now, another option is an electronic pet door. And these doors are going to open automatically when your pet approaches, because it’s got a remote sensor that’s built into the door and then also worn on your pet’s collar. And these are probably the best combo of convenience and security, because you can’t open that door without the sensor. So it really is a win-win situation there.

TOM: Now, remember, once you get that dog door installed and you’re really proud of it, you’re still going to have to train your dog how to use it. And for tips on that, we’ve got a full article on doggie doors, on Just go to, search on “doggie doors.” You’ll get tips on there on all these different types of doors and how to convince your dog to actually use it when you’re done.

LESLIE: Hey, are you thinking about a renovation in the new year? Well, we’re going to highlight some financing options to pay for that remodeling project, after this.

TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Happy New Year. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: Happy New Year, guys. I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project, your DIY dilemma or perhaps a New Year’s resolution project that’s on your to-do list. You need some help getting it done? We’ll get you started off on the right step in this brand-new year. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Laura in Connecticut is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?

LAURA: I’m calling for my son; he purchased a home. But he has two kitchens, OK, that he wants to insulate. They’re outside-wall kitchens. The house is over 100 years old. It’s perched high. It’s a coastal home, alright? The washer and dryer are on the first floor and it shimmies a little bit. The walls – we took down a couple of the walls and we noticed he has some [little clapboard] (ph) walls. They are horizontal planks. They’re spaced, OK? And they do have a couple of nail holes due to poor insulation. No, I’m sorry, poor vinyl siding, OK? During the winter, we also noticed that the heat is very challenged. You can actually see your breath. How do we insulate these walls?

TOM: So you have a really old house, 100 years-plus. And you’ve got some very cold walls that are – cold rooms that are so cold, you can see your breath. So, there’s a couple of things. We have to start at the beginning with this. Is this a one-story house or a two?

LAURA: It’s a two-story house. In fact, both kitchens are on the same side of the house and one above the other. And the kitchen on the first floor, not only does it have the washer and dryer and shimmies the floor somewhat but it has a dirt basement.

TOM: So, the kitchens are on top – stacked on top of each other. First of all, we need to – when you’re trying to evaluate how much insulation the house has and try to make it as warm as possible, the easiest and the most important place to start is the attic. And you’re in Connecticut, so you need 15 to 20 inches of fiberglass insulation across the floor of that attic. And if you don’t have that much, then you’re wasting a lot of heat. So you’ve got to really insulate the attic.

Now, if you’ve got some insulation, that’s great. You could add more to that on top of it. You want to use unfaced fiberglass batts and then stack them side by side.


TOM: Now, the other thing to look at is the type of heating system you have in this house. Is it forced air or is it hot water?

LAURA: Oh, it’s electric.

TOM: Oh, it’s electric. Yeah, no, even more reason to make sure that place is well-insulated. Did he get a home inspection done when he bought the house?

LAURA: He said he did. I wasn’t here. I’m here now, freezing. That’s why I called. And I wasn’t in this state. I happened to come in to help him out with whatever and to find out it’s really poorly insulated.

TOM: Alright. Look, you have a lot going on with this house. I can only sort of poke around on this from, you know, from a distance. But I would say that if you don’t have – if you have a cold and uncomfortable house, you have insufficient insulation and probably insufficient heat. Now, the insulation is the easiest, quickest, fastest thing you can fix. And you can start in the attic. Insulating exterior walls is rather difficult because they’re already built, although there are ways to do that.

But since this is a new house for you guys and since you say your son had a home inspection, the next call I would make would be to my home inspector. And I would ask him to revisit the house with you guys together, because you’re having some pretty serious problems with it and you’re hoping that maybe he can give you some advice. And in a nice sort of way, why didn’t this come up on the inspection, as well? So I would do those two things because you need more information to determine what’s going on with this. But I can tell you for certain you don’t have enough insulation.

Laura, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, are you thinking about a renovation in the new year? If so, there’s more than one way to pay for that new remodeling bling using credit cards.

Now, we’re not suggesting that you run out and open 29 new credit-card accounts. However, if you have a healthy credit score and the opportunity presents itself and it’s worth it, you can take advantage of a lot of new credit-card perks out there.

TOM: Yeah, that’s right.

Now, a lot of stores are going to have incentives for opening these cards like, say, 20-percent off your entire purchase the day you open the card or 25 bucks off a purchase of 100 bucks or more. You just need to figure out if the potential deal is actually worth it and offers a significant value. That’s really key.

LESLIE: Now, if you already have credit cards at your local home improvement stores, make sure that you’re still reaping the benefits offered to you. Let’s say you’re beginning a project that you’ve estimated will cost a total of $500 to complete but you know you’re not going to be buying all of your materials at once. Consider buying yourself a $500 gift card and paying for that gift card with your store credit card to receive those promotional financing options.

For example, Home Depot offers six months financing on purchases of $299 or more.

TOM: Now, this means you have six months to pay off that 500 bucks without paying interest. And anytime you need some more supplies for those projects, you just swipe the gift card without having to pay any more interest.

888-666-3974. Now, since we figured out how you’re going to pay for the project, now let us help you figure out what project you want to get done. Give us a call, we’ll talk it through. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Kurt in North Carolina on the line who’s working on a restoration. Tell us about the project.

KURT: So I’ve got 2×6 floor joists spanning 15 feet. And I’d like to know if I rip some ¾-inch plywood and sister it up against the 2x6s and glue and screw it, if that would be sufficient. My crawlspace has six vents under the floor and I want to seal them up. I read it doesn’t need cross-ventilation. It’s kind of old-school. And I put six-mil poly on the ground. Your thoughts, please.

TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, in terms of beefing up the floor joists, sistering the floor joists by doubling them – I don’t necessarily think I would use plywood on them; I would double them.

KURT: Would it be flimsy?

TOM: Well, I mean it may not be flimsy but the thing is, if you want to sister a floor joist and help support it, you need to go from bearing point to bearing point. So if it’s going from a girder to an exterior wall, the sister beam has to go the same length.

KURT: Yeah.

TOM: Another thing that you could do, Kurt, is you could run another girder, at the midpoint of that 15 feet, from end to end. Now, it doesn’t necessarily have to be – has to be as strong as the main girder for the house, because you’re really just taking the flex out of it. So if you poured a small footing underneath it and just got something in there to kind of stiffen the floor, that would take the bounce out.

KURT: Right. Yeah, I thought about that on the main floor but my second story, I didn’t want to – if I put a glulam in, I only have 7 feet, 5 inches to ceiling height.

TOM: I understand. So, doubling them is a solution, as well as using a mid-span girder.

KURT: Alright, sir. I appreciate the information.

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

LESLIE: Hey, skylights are one of those projects that seem like a good idea at the time, that is, until they leak. Now, if you’re ready to say goodbye to your skylights, don’t make a move. We’re going to tell you where to start, coming up.

TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: On this New Year’s weekend, we’re so glad that you are here with us. If you’ve got a question, if you’ve got a project you want to take on, give us a call right now. Or post your questions to The Money Pit’s Community page at

First up, we’ve got a question from Joanne in Ohio.

LESLIE: That’s right. Joanne writes: “My house has skylights – seven of them – that constantly leak.” First, I got excited for her and then I got very sad for her. She says, “Adding the light isn’t necessary, so I’d like to get rid of them. I have no idea where to start. Do I do it myself? Hire a contractor? What should my first steps be?”

TOM: That is a very big project, Joanne. It’s definitely not DIY. And if you’re going to take out seven skylights, that’s going to result in exactly seven holes in your roof. And patching that is not an easy project. In fact, if you do patch it, it’s going to look exactly like that. So, that’s the kind of project that you want to do when you’re ready to replace the roof. Because in the course of that, you can remove all the old shingles, all the old skylights. The contractors can fill in those skylight holes. They can go ahead and roof over and it’ll disappear, at least from the outside.

But remember, you also have the holes on the inside you’ve got to deal with, right? And depending on whether or not you have a cathedral ceiling, it’s easier because it’s a smaller hole. But if you have a regular ceiling, where you have a flat ceiling and then a roof above, you’re going to have this long light shaft to deal with.

Perhaps another option might be just to replace the skylights, because it is possible to have skylights that don’t leak. I know. It sounds crazy but really, it’s true. The key is you want to find a skylight that has a curb: in other words, a frame that sits up off the roof wherein that skylight can be flashed between the roof and the skylight itself.

A lot of the old skylights had curbs but they were sort of, I’m going to say, glued down because that’s kind of what it was. You’d put a sealant underneath it, you’d stick it down and shingle over it. They leaked like crazy. But the newer ones do a much better job. I’ve had some Andersen skylights on my roof for years and they’ve never leaked, because the flashing goes up along the side, there’s a counterflashing piece goes down the top. It’s a great system and they don’t leak.

So, if you can find skylights like that, you’d be much better off than going through all of this work of tearing the old ones out and having to reroof and do all the drywall that it would take to fix those holes. I think you’ll be happier having them and it’ll probably add value to your house.

Don’t you think, Leslie?

LESLIE: I mean they really are lovely when they work correctly. So if you can take the steps to preserve them and keep them and enjoy them, I say go for it, Joanne.

TOM: Well, if you need help in an emergency, could the right people find your house? Leslie has got tips on how to put your house on the map, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

LESLIE: Yeah. Did you guys know that residential fires really peak during the winter months? So you have to make sure that it’s not difficult for emergency crews to find your home in the event that the unthinkable happens to you and your family.

So, here’s what you’ve got to do so you can be found. You want to place large numbers on your home or your mailbox. Now, if you’ve got a long driveway or maybe you can’t really see the front entryway to your home, you want to make sure that the address is in plain view from the street and that it’s well lit.

Now, some communities even offer to spray-paint your house number on the curb, near your house, with reflective paint. So you can check into your town or your village or your community and see if that’s something that they offer.

I can’t tell you how many times – you know, when you have kids is when you really start to look for people’s home addresses, because you’re dropping the kids off or you’re dropping something off at the house. And I can’t tell you how many times, on a dark evening, we’ve driven up and down a block being like, “Well, that one’s number 72, so it must be this one,” because you can’t see. Now, that’s just us dropping something silly off. Imagine it’s your life that depends on somebody finding your house.

So, take the time. Make sure now that people can find you easily before disaster happens.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, hanging pictures can be a daunting project, especially if they’re really heavy. But no matter what surface you need to drill into, we’re going to have a tried and true way that you can secure your wall hanging safely and beautifully, 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. Happy New Year, everybody.


(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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