DIY Solar Systems that Save

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: Here to help you with your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. What do you have planned? What’s on the docket for 2019? Is there a project you’d like to get done? Would you like to make your home more comfortable, more energy-efficient? Are you planning some décor improvements? Maybe you’re looking forward to some spring updates outside: adding a deck, adding a patio? Just sprucing up the place? Whatever is on your to-do list, we’d love for you to swing it over to ours by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

We’re kind of like your coaches. We’re your supporters. We’re your fan club. We’re here to cheer you on, give you the tips and the advice that you need to get that job done, whether you’re doing it yourself or whether you’re hiring a pro.

Now, speaking of hiring a pro, I had an experience, Leslie, a couple of weeks back.


TOM: And I wanted to buy a solar-energy system for my home. And you would think that it should be pretty easy to do. But the problem is, I’ve decided, is that it’s just not. It is amazing how many so-called solar experts are out there. And they’re using high-pressure, confusing sales tactics to kind of double-talk you into a system that is just not the right fit for your house.

We’re going to help you, because I went through this experience personally. We’re going to help you cut through the tips and talk about a DIY solar option that’s available now, that can help you put together the perfect system for your house at a cost that’s about 40 to 80 percent less than what those solar companies are charging.

LESLIE: Wow. That’s huge.

TOM: I loved sitting in on these presentations, because one of the advantages of being on the radio is that they don’t always recognize me, you know? And as long as I don’t talk much, they don’t know that they’re talking to somebody who knows a little bit about how these houses get put together.

And this guy was nuts. He had pitched a system for our roof. And I said, “Well, we have this detached garage.” He says, “Oh, we can put panels there,” and promptly doubled the system so he could sell more to me. I’m like, “That’s not the way this is done. You figure out what you need to put on and then you work within the available space.” Just because I had a second roof didn’t mean that I need to double the number of collectors.

And it was stuff like that and there was a lot. But they give you all kinds of double-talk and I just figured out that there’s a much better way to do it. We’ll share those tips, in just a bit.

LESLIE: Alright. And also ahead this hour, I know a lot of people don’t think about decorating because they can’t figure out how to hang the things on their walls. So, before you get overwhelmed, we’re going to help you out with whatever surface you plan on drilling into. We’re going to share a tried-and-true way to secure all of those wall hangings securely and safely.

TOM: And if you’re a renter, did you know that your possessions may not be covered by the building’s insurance? We’re going to tell you how to make sure you have what you need should your home or apartment be damaged.

LESLIE: Plus, if you’ve already seen your share of slippery sidewalks and driveways, you’re going to love this hour’s giveaway. We’ve got, up for grabs, a supply of the new liquid, Entry Ice Melt, and a 1-gallon sprayer. Plus, it’s chloride-free, which means it’s not going to break up your concrete surfaces in the process.

TOM: That package is worth 45 bucks. Going out to one listener who reaches us with their call. You can reach us by phone to 888-MONEY-PIT, you can post on social media or through The Money Pit’s Community page at So let’s get to it. That number, again: 888-666-3974.

Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Nadine in Iowa has an interesting question. Your countertop has gotten noisy? Tell us what’s going on.

NADINE: Yes, it does. We had it installed, I would say, between three and five years ago. And right after we had this Corian counter installed, we started getting very sharp, loud bangs occasionally. And I mean like somebody-just-shot-up-the-house bangs. And it has been going on since we had it installed, to varying degrees. Louder sometimes than others.

But they’ve been out to check and can’t figure it out and I don’t – the only unusual thing that happened when they put it in was that one corner didn’t want to go down, so the guy had to put his full weight on it to push it down and finally make it go down. And my feeling is – or something must be bound in there that every once in a while builds up enough energy to really snap.

TOM: Well, that’s certainly an unusual situation, because countertops aren’t known for their noise.


TOM: We get squeaky-floor questions, we get banging-pipe questions.

I don’t think we’ve ever gotten any loud-countertop questions, huh, Leslie?

NADINE: Well, I doubt that it’s the countertop. My feeling is something might be bound in there, having been caused by having the countertop put on.

TOM: Well, you might be correct and what could be happening is that you could have expansion and contraction going on, either with the walls or even with the plumbing. Especially with the water being right there, when a pipe heats up it tends to expand. And if it’s attached to the framing very, very tightly, it will rub across that framing and it can make a creaking sound or a banging sound.


TOM: And I’ve heard that before in bathrooms and also in kitchens.


TOM: The other thought is that if the countertop is bound, as you say, against part of the frame of the house and you’re getting expansion and contraction, that could be the source of the sound. Although, I tend to think that, even though it’s annoying, it probably isn’t really very damaging if it’s one of the other of those things.

NADINE: No, I don’t think it is damaging at all. It’s just that when you have guests and their eyes get wide and they start to go for the floor, you think maybe – I mean it is quite loud when it does it. So you think it could possibly be plumbing?

TOM: It could very well be, because plumbing really carries the sound. And especially if you’re running a dishwasher and the hot water comes on, that could cause a noise.

NADINE: However, we’ve kind of checked that out – what’s on, what’s running and all of that – and that doesn’t seem to come into play. What would your suggestion be as to sleuthing this problem out?

TOM: Well, I guess I would have to be sitting there staring at it, thinking about it for a long time. But reinstalling the countertop would probably be the best solution, although it’s a boatload of work and you can potentially damage the countertop in the process. If they had to really squeeze it in, I suspect that something is a little bit too tight in its intention and it’s really not designed to be pulled out.

NADINE: Yeah. Alright. Thanks so much.

LESLIE: How do you know it’s winter? Well, Ken in Wisconsin is dealing with ice and snow in the gutters.

Ken, sorry you are dealing with this weather. How can we help you today?

KEN: Well, what I’ve got is I’ve got a ranch-style home. I put an addition on and since I put the addition on, now, when I get snow – we had this snow – I got about 8 inches on the roof but now I’ve got an ice buildup in the gutters and it’s now backed up a little bit. And I’ve got icicles probably 4 or 5 foot long and I’m afraid it’s going to back up into the house. How do I stop that or is there a way to get it melted and get rid of it?

TOM: OK. So, this is an addition and it’s only happening on the addition and it’s not happening on the main house?

KEN: No, it’s happening on the main house and the addition.

TOM: Both. OK. So, this is what is known as ice damming. And the reason ice dams happen is because warm air gets up into your attic space around sort of the middle of your house, because you don’t have enough insulation. And then it heats the roof right above the heated space of the house and that lets the snow melt. And then the snow washes down the roof edge until it gets to that line of about – right above the exterior wall. That’s when it starts to get a lot colder and starts to form ice. And then more snow melts, more ice forms, more snow melts, more ice forms. So, that’s what’s happening; that’s the reason this is happening.

How can we stop this? Well, a few things. First of all, it’s a good idea to take a look at your level of insulation. And in your part of the country, you really should have 15 to 20 inches of insulation if not a bit more. Adding insulation will stop the ice dams from forming, because you won’t have as much water running down your roof all at once and freezing at the roof edge.

The second thing that you can do is take a look at the ventilation. If you have good ventilation that goes in the soffit, up under the roof sheathing and out like, for example, at a ridge vent, again, that ventilation stops the difference in temperature across that particular area.

Remember, we’re holding the heat at the ceiling of the house. Above the insulation, in a perfect world, we want that to actually be the same temperature as the outside. Because if it is, you’re not going to have this disproportional melting of snow up higher on the roof and that water running down and freezing at the roof edge.

KEN: I’m guessing we have – nothing was a problem until I put the addition on. I wonder if they didn’t put enough insulation in the addition and that’s where I’m having an issue.

TOM: It may very well have been – that’s why I was trying to figure out if it happens all the way around or just the addition, because I was kind of thinking the same thing myself.

Now, the other thing that you can do is – and of course, you can’t do it now when your roof is full of ice. But there are heating coils that are designed to go at a roof edge but it’s not the solution. It’s a temporary solution, if anything. And of course, it’s expensive to run and it’s expensive to buy and install. But sometimes in commercial buildings or restaurants, hotels where they want to be sure that none of the ice is going to fall and hurt somebody, you’ll see these electric coils right above those areas for this purpose: to kind of melt the ice and turn it back to water and be done with it. So, that’s an opportunity for you.

But again, I would rather see you put the insulation in. Because besides stopping the ice from forming, you’re going to lower your heating costs, which are going to be astronomical if you don’t have enough insulation. So take a look at the insulation, take a look at the ventilation. I think your solution lies right there.

KEN: I will do that. I appreciate the advice.

TOM: Good luck, Ken. 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 Give us a call this first weekend of the new year. What are you working on? Are you trying to get things in shape? Are you getting rid of the tree? Are you getting yourself in shape? I can’t help you with that but I can help you make the bathroom look really pretty and get you a nice, skinny mirror. That’s what I can contribute for the new year.

Well, whatever it is you are working on, give us a call. We’re here to lend a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

TOM: 888-666-3974.

Up next, would you like to add a solar-energy system to your home and spend 40- to 80-percent less than what typical solar companies charge? You can if you do the project yourself. We’ll share the details on a site that provides the expertise and equipment to help you get it done, 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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself or décor dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

And if, hey, you’ve already seen perhaps your share of slippery sidewalks this winter, you’re going to love this hour’s giveaway because we’ve got a supply of a very cool, new product called Entry Ice Melt.

It’s a liquid and it comes with a 1-gallon sprayer. It’s going out to a listener that’s drawn at random. And I like it because it’s very easy to use. It’s a clear liquid. It’s chloride-free, so it doesn’t track messes inside and it’s much safer for pets and surfaces and the planet.

And speaking of surfaces, it’s really great for concrete surfaces. So you’re not going to be calling us in a couple of months, complaining about the fact that your concrete’s all busted up because you used rock salt. This is a great product and a little goes a long way. Actually, a ½-gallon is equal to about 50 pounds of rock salt, in terms of what it does.

So, you can learn more about the product at You can stock up on Amazon but right now, we’re giving this deicing bundle out to one lucky listener drawn at random. Make that you. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Jean has a question about her heating-and-cooling system. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

JEAN: I have a five-year-old, high-efficiency furnace with the PVC pipe that comes out for the intake and the exhaust. And at the first joint – it’s about a 45-degree angle. And we noticed that that joint wasn’t totally sealed. But our question is – we noticed that there was condensation dripping out of that joint. So if we seal it, will that condensation go into our furnace and cause damage? We’re not sure what we should do with it.

TOM: How old is this furnace?

JEAN: Five years.

TOM: What’s the efficiency of the furnace?

JEAN: In the 90s.

TOM: I ask you this because some furnaces are designed to trap the condensation and pump it out. And so if you have a condensing furnace, then that might not be as much of an issue.

Because what happens with those high-efficiency systems is they put the exhaust gases out at such a low temperature, that they quickly turn from gas back to water. And then the moisture drains back through the vent pipe, gets caught by a condensate system and then pumped out.

So have you had it serviced this winter yet?

JEAN: Not this winter.

TOM: Yeah, you really need to do it every year because the fact that the gas burns, it burns dirty and then you get combustion deposits on the burners. And then they can become inefficient. They’re wasting money and potentially be dangerous. So, I would address this with the service contractor when he comes out to do your service, which you’re going to call for tomorrow, OK? You want to make sure you get that done because it’s important, every winter, to have a heating system serviced.

JEAN: OK. Thank you.

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

You know, buying a solar-energy system for your home to cut energy costs seems like it should be pretty easy to do. But the problem I found is it’s just not.

Now, I tried and I was shocked to find out how many of these so-called solar experts are out there. And they’re using high-pressure, confusing sales tactics and they’re trying to double-talk you into systems that are just not right for you or right for the house.

The pitch is nuts. They pitch you systems you can buy, systems you can lease. They pitch you power-purchase agreements, tax credits, energy-renewal credits. Basically, they leave you so dazed and confused, Leslie, you don’t know which way to go. It’s really too much.

LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it really is very overwhelming. That’s why we’re really glad that the guys from reached out to us. Now, these guys are straight shooters. They’re experts in their fields and they offer do-it-yourself solar systems. Yeah, I totally said it: DIY. And why not? It’s really not that difficult.

Now, the experienced pros over at Wholesale Solar can create a perfectly-designed system, with wholesale pricing, that you install and save money. Their solar systems cost homeowners an average of $5,000 to $10,000 and that’s 40- to 80-percent less than those installed systems.

TOM: Now, I know some of you are thinking, “There is no way that I’m climbing up a ladder to do this myself.” Understood. We get it. We don’t want you to be unsafe. If that’s you, Wholesale Solar can also help you find a local installer that’ll help and you will still save money.

Look, if the thought of having a tiny electric bill every month is attractive, go to Check out their informative guides. This is one of the nicest sites I’ve ever seen. They’ve got really well-done videos and guides and posts. And you can talk to one of their technicians. They’re super knowledgeable. They can answer all your questions. They can help you put together a system that is perfect for your home, with wholesale pricing on the quality solar equipment that you need to get the job done.

LESLIE: Yeah. And right now, they’re even offering Money Pit listeners a 10-percent discount on the purchase of equipment. Just remember to tell them that you heard about them on The Money Pit. Plus, you may also be able to claim a 30-percent federal tax credit.

TOM: You know, we always say you could do it yourself but you don’t have to do it alone. Go to and then call and mention The Money Pit to get 10-percent off and free yourself of high electricity bills once and for all.

LESLIE: Frank in Rhode Island is on the line with a wiring question. What’s going on at your money pit?

FRANK: I live in a Colonial farmhouse – a Cape, really – and it’s the oldest house in Chepachet. It was built in 1753 by a Revolutionary War patriot. And I’m having a problem with radio interference.

Historically, there seems to be three overlays of wiring there. There is the old knob-and-tube, there’s some cable, there’s something recently that was put in and I know even more recent than that, it was modified – the panel was modified so we can put an electric stove in here. And if it’s a wiring issue – I’m not sure it is. I have three radios and one of them is a battery-powered radio and it’s still getting this interference. It started about two months ago and it seems to be more on the AM dial but at certain times, it’s on both dials.

TOM: The first thing I would suspect is it has something to do with grounding that has gone bad. Perhaps the grounding for your main electric panel would be a place to start, because usually it’s grounding or shielding that when you get a bad ground, that it causes that kind of a static. But I think the first thing you need to do is make sure that it isn’t something, in fact, in the house and not something that’s caused by an outside source.

So I would pay attention to the quality of the signal. Maybe if you choose one station to compare to and you try that in the house and out of the house, in the car and see if it really is getting worse around the house. And then if that’s the case, I suspect it might have something to do with the grounding at your main electric panel.

FRANK: Makes a lot of sense and I thank you.

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

LESLIE: Hey, have you ever wanted to hang a picture or even some sort of wall art but you weren’t exactly sure what kind of wall you’d be nailing into?

TOM: Or what kind of picture-hanging hardware would make sure that project doesn’t come crashing down, most importantly, right?

LESLIE: That’s right. We’re going to share a tried-and-true way to secure your wall hangings safely, after this.

TOM: Making good homes better, this is 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. We’re here to help you with your home improvement projects at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

DOT: I was wondering which would be the best paint to paint on the outside of the house, on the windows and the door trim, that would last a long time and it would weather properly.

TOM: Dot, what is the condition of the trim right now on the doors and windows? Is it flaky?

DOT: Not very good.

TOM: OK. So, what you have to do first, Dot, is get rid of the old paint. You’ve got to sand that or wire-brush that, because you cannot put good paint over bad paint, if that makes sense. And once you’ve got that sanded and the loose paint is removed, the next thing to do – the best thing to do would be to apply a primer, which is a type of paint that sort of provides the adhesion and the coverage. So you put the primer coat on first, then you put the exterior paint over that.

And it doesn’t really matter so much to me what type of exterior paint you choose, as long as it’s a name manufacturer. But I do want to see you remove the loose paint, put the primer on next and then put the topcoat over that. And that will give you the best setup for a long-lasting paint job. Done well, your paint project should last you, easily, five to eight years.

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

LESLIE: It’s not unusual to hit a wall, so to speak, somewhere between actually framing a picture and then putting it on the wall.

TOM: That’s right. Hanging pictures can be daunting, especially if they’re heavy. But no matter what surface you’re drilling into, there’s a tried-and-true way to secure your wall hanging safely. Here to tell us more is This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.

Hey, Tom.

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

TOM: Thanks for hanging around with us. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

TOM SILVA: Oh, that’s a good one, Tom.

TOM: There’s so many different types of walls out there, from exposed brick to traditional drywall to surfaces that are covered in tile. How does the material drive what you actually use to hang the picture?

TOM SILVA: Well, the fastener, as you may think, is probably the most important part when you want to hang a picture. You don’t want that picture falling down. So you’ve got to think about whether it’s going to be a nail, whether it’s going to be a screw, a toggle, a moggle, a molly or whatever you want to call it.

TOM: Right.

TOM SILVA: It’s got to be able to hang the picture that you want.

TOM: Now there’s always a difference between where you want the picture and where the picture ends up on the wall sometimes.

TOM SILVA: Yeah, that’s right.

TOM: Any tricks of the trade for getting that picture aligned properly?

TOM SILVA: Well, eyeballing it is pretty good if you have an eye for it.

TOM: Right.

TOM SILVA: But most people don’t. So, marking it with a level, positioning them on the wall with first having a couple people hold them, say, “Do I like them there? Is it too high, too low?” But you’ve got to get them right and then you’ve got to then figure out the distance from the cable or the hook to the pin that you want to put on the wall.

TOM: Maybe even mark it off with painter’s tape or something like that.

TOM SILVA: Painter’s tape is a great way to do it.

TOM: Now, let’s talk about some of the fastening options. The easiest, of course, would be if you’re dealing with drywall unless the picture is very heavy, correct?

TOM SILVA: Right. If you’re dealing with drywall, you can use a small brad, like a 1-inch brad, and just put in on a 40-, 45-degree angle and drop the picture on that. Now, if you need something heavier, they have the plastic inserts that you drill a hole and you drive it into the wall. And then you put your screw into that and leave it sticking out so your picture will hang on that.

TOM: And that actually expands a little bit and holds it towards the wall?

TOM SILVA: Yeah. As the screw goes in, it drives in. They also have a plastic or a metal one that you can screw into the wall. It actually screws into the drywall and then the screw goes into the – in center of that. And so that’s another way to …

TOM: Have you seen this fastener called the Monkey Hook, where it pushes like a hook and it pushes the wall and it ends behind it and grabs it?

TOM SILVA: It’s a fine wire.

TOM: Yeah.

TOM SILVA: Yeah, yeah.

TOM: Yeah.

TOM SILVA: It works pretty good.

TOM: Yeah.

TOM SILVA: I tried it with a paper clip. It didn’t work.

TOM: Now, what about plaster? You work on lots of old houses. Plaster is obviously very delicate, especially as the older it gets it starts to separate from the lath that’s behind it. How would you approach the project differently if it was a plaster wall?

TOM SILVA: Yeah, the old horsehair-and-lath plaster.

TOM: Yeah.

TOM SILVA: It is brittle, you’re right.

Well, sometimes, if you’re lucky and the picture is small enough, you can try – take a small drill bit and drill a hole where you think you want to put the hanger. And with a – if you can hit a lath, you may be able to use a small enough screw. But you want to predrill it, because you don’t want to split the lath.

TOM: Because that lath is wood, so you’re actually grabbing a little piece of wood behind the plaster.

TOM SILVA: Right. And the lath is a ¼- to 3/8-inch thick, so it’s strong enough for a picture, unless you’ve got a heavy picture.

TOM: Yeah.

TOM SILVA: And then you’ve got to think about a fastener that’s going to go through the wall and grab behind the lath. That would be some type of a …

TOM: Mirror or something like that, maybe?

TOM SILVA: Yeah. A heavy mirror, obviously.

TOM: Yeah.

TOM SILVA: They have expanding anchors and also hollow-wall anchors that are good for those, too.

TOM: Sometimes, you absolutely, positively have to just find that stud, correct?

TOM SILVA: Yeah. I mean if you’ve got a valuable picture or a big mirror with a wonderful frame on it, you want to make sure that sucker’s not coming down.

TOM: Now what about masonry, if you happen to have the need to drill into brick or stone? How would you approach that?

TOM SILVA: Well, masonry anchors, they have all kinds of masonry anchors that you could attach to. Let’s face it: we attach structure to masonry walls.

TOM: Right.

TOM SILVA: So they have them light-duty, small-duty. And you can go to your home center and pick out – you could spend an hour there just trying to find a fastener that will do it. But they’re all labeled for what they are good for: drywall, masonry. You don’t need anything too big.

TOM: I’ve seen these masonry screws. They come, actually, with a drill bit included in the package so you know just what to use.

TOM SILVA: Yep. Yeah, they’re great. They’re great.

TOM: Let’s talk about really heavy objects. Molly bolts. They kind of combine the ease of the expansion of the plastic anchor with a lot more strength, correct?

TOM SILVA: A molly bolt is like a spring-loaded system that when you drill a hole, you pop this – the molly bolt through the hole with the screw on it. Pop it in, the spring will open up inside the wall. You pull back on it and then you can tighten it right in. They also have one that’s on a plastic strip.

TOM: Right.

TOM SILVA: That’s a molly and it’s called a “snap tie.” If you drill the same hole, you pull it in, you pull back on the snap tie and screw it in. They’re pretty quick. I like them.

TOM: Well, clearly there’s a fastener for every project. You’ve got to pick the right one and we can do that now with your help. Thank you so much, Tom Silva, from TV’s This Old House.

TOM SILVA: Always nice to be here.

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

TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot.

Up next, if you rent a home or apartment, did you know that your possessions may not be covered in the event of a fire or another emergency? We’ll tell you what you need to know to make sure your stuff is actually protected, 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: What project is on your to-do list for 2019? We’d love to hear about it. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and this hour, you might just win a great product because we’re giving away a product called Entry.

Now, this is an ice-melt product and it’s designed to melt ice and snow super fast and prevent it from refreezing to temperatures well down below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It kind of reminds me of the product that you see that the municipalities and the state put on the roads to stop the ice from forming. It’s a clear liquid.

LESLIE: It makes me feel like I work at the airport. I’m deicing your plane.

TOM: Yeah, right?

LESLIE: It’s amazing. If this sprayer was only slightly more powerful, then I would actually feel like I were deicing a plane. It’s really amazing that this clear liquid is chloride-free, so it works fantastically well without making a sort of a mess of the inside of your house. It’s safer for your pets. It’s not going to pock all the surfaces of the concrete outside and it’s great for the planet.

TOM: Yeah. And a little goes a long way. A ½-gallon of the Entry product covers as much surface as 50 pounds of rock salt and other granular deicers.

You can pick it up on Amazon or you can check out their website at But this hour, we’ve got a bundle going out to one listener drawn at random. It’s worth 45 bucks, so pick up the phone. Why not make it you? The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

RICHARD: Well, what I’ve got is an older house. And in the bathroom, where the faucet comes out of the system, there’s a stopper there that engages the shower, alright? When you – it’s worn out. And I went to try to change that spout but I put a large [pipe pinch] (ph) on it and it didn’t move very good. And I was afraid that behind the system there is copper pipe. And I was afraid to pinch that pipe and cause a leak behind the wall, so I quit. So, I don’t know – do I have to tear the wall open on the backside to get a hold of it so I can do that?

TOM: That’s the way the job’s usually done, yes. What’s on the backside? Does it happen to be a closet or something like that where you don’t care so much what it looks like?

RICHARD: Well, no. It’s an insert where the toilet is.

TOM: Oh, OK.

RICHARD: But it’s just a small, little tag wall there. And I was wondering if I had to take the sheetrock off of that to get – make sure I had a firm grip on that before I …

TOM: Working from an open stud bay like that is really the best way to do this. And anything else is going to leave you open to leaks and probably not a happy end to this project. So, I think removing the wall and cutting it open and properly re-seaming is probably the best way to go.

RICHARD: That settles that in my mind. And I thank you very much.

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

LESLIE: Well, from all the cooking that goes on, to space heaters to roaring fireplaces, winter, it turns out, is the time of year when fire is most likely to break out in your home. Now, prevention is the first priority. But if a blaze does break out in your space, you want to be sure that you’ve got the right insurance to cover your belongings that are damaged or ruined.

TOM: Now, if you own a home, most homeowners policies are going to cover this. But if you’re a renter, there’s a good chance your belongings are not covered by the landlord’s insurance policy. And that’s why renters need to have their own tenants contents insurance.

LESLIE: Now, the great thing about contents insurance is that it covers more than just fire damage. Most policies protect your possessions against 16 different causes. And they range from the usual suspects, like fire to theft, to unlikely catastrophes like explosions.

TOM: And the best news? Renters content insurance can be purchase for as little as 10 bucks a month. It’s a very small price to pay for making sure your stuff is covered. So if you are a renter, make sure you have contents insurance so that your stuff stays protected.

LESLIE: Judy in Arkansas is on the line with a floor that’s coming apart. Tell us what’s happening.

JUDY: Well, it’s been down about 13 years. It’s like a $5,000 floor is what it cost us. A thousand-square-foot room. It’s Pergo. We have some seams that have kind of bubbled up a little bit. Is there any way to fix this? I don’t intend to replace it, OK?

TOM: So, you say the seams have bubbled up on laminate floor? So, they’re pressing together and sort of pushing up?

JUDY: Yeah, just a little bit. I have some extra boxes out there but not enough to fix all of this.

TOM: Yeah. If that’s happening, though – if that’s happening on a wide-scale basis, then I suspect something was done incorrectly in the installation. A couple of things to remember about laminate floor. First of all, the floor that it goes down on top of has to be pretty flat. It’s got a very low tolerance to floors that are even the least bit out of level, that have any kind of bumps or rolls in it. Secondly, if it’s put on too tight so that it doesn’t have enough room to expand and contract, then you can see that floors will buckle up. They’ll press in because they’re expanding and they’ll push up and have those seams come apart. So those are the things that you really need to look into with this.

I would get your contractor back and have them address this, because that definitely should not have happened once that floor was put down.

JUDY: Even 13 or 14 years out?

TOM: It definitely shouldn’t have happened.

JUDY: Do you think it could be moisture?

TOM: It could be. It could be moisture-related. Have you had an excessive amount of moisture recently when this started to happen?

JUDY: No. Uh-uh. Not at all.

LESLIE: Yeah. But it could just be consistent moisture from the hydroscopic nature of the concrete over time.

TOM: Yeah. It could be.

JUDY: And the house is about 30 years old.

TOM: How long ago did it start to come up?

JUDY: It’s been going on. We’ve been noticing spots off and on for a while.

TOM: Well, Leslie’s correct. It could very well be moisture-related if it’s going to – if it’s that frequent and it laid down flat for all the other years up to that.

JUDY: OK. There’s nothing else I can do?

TOM: No. You can’t fix something like that, Judy. Unfortunately, you have to replace it. Well, what I would do if I replaced it, I would be very careful about measuring the moisture in the concrete to make sure it’s not wetter than what the manufacturers allow. And secondly, I’ll give you a trick of the trade, which is that even though the laminate floors today are lock together-type pieces, you can add glue to those seams, as well. And that gives you a more permanent protection against this happening again.

JUDY: OK. Well, thank you.

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

LESLIE: Up next, are you dealing with some areas of stretched carpeting and wondering if you can fix it? We’re going to share the most likely cause of that saggy carpet and talk you through the steps to get it back in shape, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Pick up the phone right now and give us a call with your home improvement questions, your do-it-yourself dilemmas, your décor questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can also post those questions to The Money Pit’s Facebook page or on

And that’s what Ashley did. And Ashley is buying a new, very old home.

LESLIE: It’s not that old. She said, “We just purchased a 1960s old home with a full basement. The previous owners installed carpet on top of what looks like a ¼-inch cement board, which is on top of those old asbestos tiles. We’d like to install ceramic tile but don’t know where to begin with all these layers to deal with.”

TOM: First of all, adhering ceramic tile to a solid floor is really important. And the assembly that you describe gives me a few concerns. I mean the best approach, if you really want that tile, is to remove the cement board and then properly – and I underscore properly – remove the asbestos tile, which means it has to be done by a pro. And then you’d adhere the ceramic tile to the original floor.

But that is a ton of work, Ashley, and it’s also going to be really expensive. Plus, why do you want to use ceramic tile? On a basement floor, it’s going to be ice cold.

LESLIE: Freezing.

TOM: I think a much better and far less expensive alternative would be to leave that cement board in place and then add a laminate floor or maybe an engineered-vinyl extruded product – an EVP floor – or an engineered-hardwood floor on top of that. These are all good products that are available for basements and rated for basement-dampness areas. And you’re going to find that there’s so many varieties, especially if you look – if you like the tile look, there’s going to be a laminate that looks just like tile, by the way. We’ve had a laminate floor in our kitchen for years. And our laminate looks like stone and it really is very well done.

So, there’s a lot of options that would save you a lot more money than what you’re thinking you need to do. And I strongly suggest that you look into the laminates, the EVPs or the engineered-hardwood products for that basement and forget your idea of doing the tile. Do the tile upstairs; don’t do it in the basement.

LESLIE: No. You’d be freezing. And the best part of using a laminate or something similar in the basement area is you can still use area rugs to sort of cozy things up and make it a usable space without feeling so cold, which sometimes basements just tend to be very, very, very chilly.

Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Patricia in Boynton Beach, Florida. Now, Patricia writes: “The carpet in our home is becoming loose and wrinkled. We’re wondering what happened and whether it can be fixed. Any ideas?”

TOM: Yeah. You know, the reason that carpets stretch – there’s actually a number of reasons. First of all, it could just be poor installation, right, that it was not properly stretched when it was first put down. But it’s more than likely that the padding underneath the carpet has deteriorated over time. And as the padding loses its ability to support the carpet, the carpet tends to stretch. And then when you walk over it, because it’s loose you kind of tend to pull it every time you take a step, right? And then, eventually, it just gets really saggy and it looks just absolutely terrible.

So, your options would be to try to restretch that carpet. If it turns out the padding is not so bad, you might be able to get away with that. But you can only do it once. If it doesn’t work that time, you’re really going to have to take it up and replace it.

LESLIE: And you know what, Patricia? I wouldn’t be afraid of replacing it, in the long run, because you can find a carpet that has a much better fiber, that’s more wearable, that’s easier to clean. And so many great choices with a wide range of pricing. You’ll find something that works really well for you.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you for spending this part of your day with us, in this brand-new year doing some brand-new planning on projects that you want to get done and – or problems you want to fix around your house. We’re going to be here for you every step of the way. But if you’ve got some ideas about things you’d like to tackle, you can reach out to us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post a question on one of our social-media pages or on our Community page at We’d love to hear from you and help share some knowledge that will help you get that job done quickly, effectively and save some money in the process.

But for now, that’s all the time we have. 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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