Want to do something different for your 4th of July celebration this year? Turn a ‘progressive dinner party’ on its ear and host a traveling BBQ instead! You’ll combine some interactive fun to go along with the good eats and invite your friends and neighbors to join in the celebration.
Have veggies and dips at one house, those ever-popular picnic salads at the next, and fire up the grill at the 4th house for some good old-fashioned hamburgers and hotdogs. Cap off the meal at the last house with an ice cream sundae bar. Finish off your day by enjoying the fireworks as a group.
Here’s everything you’ll need to pull off a truly spectacular celebration:Get your red, white and blue on
Red, white & blue decorations put your guests in a patriotic mood. Encourage each host to decorate their yard for the occasion. You could even hold a ‘Patriot’s Favorite’ vote to choose the crowd favorite. Make these cute star wands for all the entrants and provide a super-sized version for the winner!
Get the kids in on the action by having a group of them form an assembly line to make these adorable (and handy!) 4th of July utensil packets.House #1 – Let’s get this party started!
Start your traveling BBQ off with finger foods and ice cold drinks. How about a big platter of fresh veggies with a choice of dips and hummus? Or try Inside-Out Veggie Dip with the dip stuffed inside hollowed out vegetables.
Offer an assortment of crunchy chips and crackers to go with the dips, too. Colorful disposable bowls will let your guests mingle while they munch. Bowls do a better job of corraling dip and dippers than plates.
Serve up big pitchers of icy cold drinks to wash down the appetizers. Iced tea is a perennial favorite, as is lemonade. Looking for something a little more festive? Strawberry lemonade is a pretty variation with a refreshingly sweet-tart flavor.House #2 – What’s a BBQ without a salad?
You could serve a traditional potato salad, but why not mix it up with a Red, White & Blue Potato Salad? Made with new or fingerling potatoes, this version has a light lemon juice and olive oil dressing in place of a heavier mayo dressing. Make it the day before – it gets even yummier after marinating for a while!
Of course, if you’re having potato salad, someone is going to expect coleslaw! This unique Crunchy Cabbage & Peanut Slaw pairs cabbage with scallions, cilantro, peanuts, and a tangy Asian-inspired dressing. Broccoli slaw is another option and this Light & Easy Broccoli Salad is a healthier version of the mayo-heavy original.
Instead of corn-on-the-cob, serve this Fresh Corn Salad. It’s quick, easy, and delicious!
Serve a traditional Seven-Layer Salad in a Mason jar for a bit of nostalgic Americana style. Tie several strands of thin red or blue ribbon around the jar rim and leave long streamers hanging loose for a ‘fireworks’ look. Party-goers can take their jars with them to the next house to finish eating while the grilling begins.
Since the kids probably won’t spend as much time eating salad as the adults, keep them busy with a 4th of July scavenger hunt. Give each child a piece of paper with patriotic things to find: 7 red stripes, 6 white stripes, 13 white stars, something that’s solid blue, a 4, 1, two sevens, a 6, etc.
For younger children, provide a paper with picture outlines of stars, stripes, something red, something blue, etc. Provide crayons so they can fill in the outlines as they find each item.House #4 – It’s time to fire up the grill Photo credit: Skitterphoto / Pixabay
Put up a patriotic backdrop and provide plenty of costume pieces and printable 4th of July props (there are more here). Everyone can enjoy the ‘photo booth’ while the meats are cooking. Just make sure the booth is facing awayfrom the sun so squinting eyes won’t ruin the pictures.House #5 – And to top it off…
Set up a DIY ice cream sundae bar. Vanilla ice cream balls, squeeze bottles of toppings, a range of add-ins… Pretty much anything sweet goes with ice cream! Use these patriotic sundae bar printables to label the items on your all-American dessert bar.
Don’t forget the red, white, and blue toppings! We suggest fresh strawberry topping, fresh blueberries cooked with a little sugar and lemon just until they pop, and whipped cream. The fruit toppings are too chunky for squeeze bottles, so serve them in small canning jars with spoons. Oh! And don’t forget the red, white, and blue 4th of July sprinkles!
For those who can’t eat dairy or are watching their calories, offer these adorable Fireworks Fruit Kabobs.The Grand Finale!
Organize a carpool to get everyone to a favorite spot for watching your community’s Independence Day light show. Ask for volunteers to bring folding chairs, lawn blankets, water, and other essentials. A sign-up sheet will help keep things organized and make sure nothing is forgotten – either when going or coming back. Now congratulate yourselves for a holiday well-celebrated and fun well-shared!
The post Get Your Red, White & Blue on with a Traveling BBQ for the 4th of July appeared first on The Money Pit.
From Source Article: moneypit.com
For many families, Christmas trees are the beautiful centerpiece of their holiday decor. Whether gathering around the tree to hang lights and ornaments, take a family photo or open presents, it’s at the heart of so many traditions and memories.
But while the scent and feel of a real Christmas tree is preferred by some, live trees can be a lot of work! Between the need for watering, the constant vacuuming of dried-out needles and the cost of purchase, the time, trouble and expense of enjoying a live Christmas tree can really add up, year after year.
For these reasons, coupled with advances in better-built and more realistic artificial trees, as well as amazing advances in LED lighting, many folks are taking a fresh new look at artificial Christmas trees and deciding to take the leap.
But with so many styles and options available for artificial Christmas trees, finding the perfect one for your family can be overwhelming! How can you be sure you’re making the right choice on a purchase you’ll have for a decade?
To make a confident, informed decision when selecting an artificial Christmas tree, consider these 5 tips:1. Choose the type of artificial Christmas trees
Artificial Christmas trees can look like they’ve been plucked fresh from the forest, dusted with new snow or even old-school metallic:Fir: Artificial fir trees have a bushy, full appearance, making them a great choice if you want to go light on the ornaments, since they won’t look bare even when sparsely decorated. Artificial fir trees mimic the look of popular live trees in the South and West. Pine: Artificial pine trees feature a classic needle construction that provides plenty of room for all your favorite ornaments. These artificial trees mimic the look of popular live trees in the South. Spruce: Artificial spruce trees have a more traditional shape and style that’s perfect for lots of ornaments. These artificial trees mimic the look of popular live trees in the Midwest and East Coast. Flocked: The branches of a flocked artificial tree are treated to look like they’ve been dusted with snow, creating a winter wonderland effect indoors. Tinsel/metallic: These trees have a nostalgic, retro-vintage appeal. An old-school color wheel adds to the fun and brings a pop of color to the holidays. 2. Choose the material
Plastics makes it possible here, with technology advances in both molded and manufactured that deliver a durable structure that’ll stand up to years of use.PE: Artificial Christmas trees made of 3-D molded polyethylene are the most realistic looking trees, and are also flame-retardant. PVC: Trees cut from PVC sheets have a lifelike evergreen look and are a popular and affordable alternative to PE trees.
3. Choose the right tree size
Have you ever picked a real Christmas tree from a roadside stand or tree farm , only to take it home and find it mysteriously grew from the size you imaged it would be? While that problem is easily resolved with the cut of a saw, buying an artificial Christmas tree that doesn’t fit isn’t so easy to adjust!TREE HEIGHT
The average home has a ceiling height between 8 and 9 feet, but those with ceilings that are over 10 feet, or cathedral or vaulted ceilings, will have room for a more dramatic tree. Be sure to leave at least 6” to 12” between the top of the tree and your ceiling so there’s room for your topper.6’ to 6’5” tree: safe for the average home 7’ to 7’5” tree: the most popular height-wise 9’ to 13’ tree: perfect for a great room or a two-story foyer TREE WIDTH
You’ll also want to measure the width of the area where you’ll set up your tree to ensure a good fit. Artificial trees generally come in three widths:Full: Most full trees are 7’ to 7’5” tall and 56” to 64” wide Medium: Most tall trees come in a medium width Slim: Includes pencil trees; great for small spaces. 4. Choose your tree lighting options
Here’s where some of the biggest advances in artificial Christmas trees have happened. Say goodbye to the frustrations of past years where string lights that were perfectly good last Christmas, now seem to only half light or not illuminate at all. With many durable built-in lighting options, backed by solid warranties, you can expect your tree to light beautifully from year to year.
Pre-lit: Pre-lit artificial Christmas trees are great for any home because they remove the need for traditional string lights. These trees come come pre-wired and strung with lights, which cannot be removed and are usually embedded within the artificial branches. This helps avoid tangled cords near your electrical outlet and simplifies the decorating process.LED: LED lights are cool to the touch and have a longer life than traditional bulbs. Color-changing: With color-changing lights, you can choose to set your tree on white or multi-color lights. Multi-function: Color-changing lights with many more options. Dual function lights: Lights that can alternate between clear and multicolored for a festive look. Remote controlled lights: This feature enables you to control the tree’s features all by a push of a button. Quickset construction: With this functionality, light plugs are located inside the tree pole and will illuminate automatically as each section of the tree is connected. It comes in three pieces that are easy to assemble, saving you time and minimizing hassle.
5. Set up your artificial Christmas tree to look its best
When you first pull your artificial tree from the box, it will need reshaping to bring it to life. Here are some tricks to do just that:Once your tree is set up, ensure that each branch is in its proper place. Starting from the bottom up, fluff it from the inner branch tips, working your way outwards. Carefully point the outer tips in different directions and fan them out from the center for good volume. For taller artificial Christmas trees, it is a good idea to remove the top, shape it, and then place it on tree body. If the tree is not already pre-lit, wrap the light strings starting from the base and work your way to the top. Make sure they spread out evenly throughout.
Whether flocked for a winter wonderland effect or pre-lit for convenience, artificial Christmas trees offer a lot of advantages over traditional trees. Now that you know your options when it comes to type, size, material and lighting features, you’ll be able to find the artificial Christmas tree that suits your family’s preferences and is perfect for your home.
The post 5 Tips for Buying Amazing Artificial Christmas Trees appeared first on The Money Pit.
From Source Article: moneypit.com
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: Standing by to help you take on your home improvement projects, solve your remodeling challenges, your décor dilemmas. If you’re enjoying a beautiful weekend, that’s cool. You can stay in the lounge chair with the cool drink. But if you’re thinking about getting a project done or you’re in the midst of one, we can help. But help yourself first: post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com or call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, we’re about halfway through summer, which means, Leslie, it’s that time of year when millions of folks transform their garages and yards into a storefront to get rid of the junk they no longer want, right?
LESLIE: Yes. There’s even a National Garage Sale Day. It’s held every year on the second Saturday of August.
TOM: Well, whether you want to clear clutter or maybe make a few bucks or both, we’re going to have some tips to help your garage sales go smoothly.
LESLIE: Yeah, like telling people no early birds. Because man, they will show up at 4:00 a.m. They are serious about it.
Also ahead this hour, guys, now that we are moving towards the end of the summer, have you taken a good look at your driveway? Late summer and early fall are really the best times to replace worn, cracked driveways. We’re going to have some tips to help you hire the best pro to get that job done, in today’s Pro Project, coming up.
TOM: And also ahead, if you’ve got kids that are old enough to stay home, are they also old enough to handle a home-related emergency? We’ll help you prepare them for the basics of what could go wrong.
LESLIE: But before all that, we’d love to hear from you. Post your question to The Money Pit Community page or give us a call right now. We’re here to help.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Amanda in Connecticut is on the line with an A/C system that’s not doing the C part of the cooling. What’s going on, Amanda?
AMANDA: Hi. I don’t really know. It’s a brand-new system.
LESLIE: Brand new as in the entire central air-conditioning system is new to the house or just a new condensing unit outside?
AMANDA: The new condensing unit. The house already had the venting in it but it didn’t have the unit.
TOM: OK. So they added the compressor outside, correct?
TOM: And who did this work? Was it a contractor?
AMANDA: Uh-huh, yeah.
TOM: Did they not test it to make sure it was working?
AMANDA: They said they would come back when it was hot. And so I called them and – the hot day. And they came back and it just didn’t cool after four hours. And he told me it’s because the house is an older house and that the returns are on the outside walls and makes it harder for it to cool down – longer for it to cool down?
TOM: Well, look. You hired these guys to complete your cooling system. So, any good contractor is going to look at the house and they’re going to identify any problems with the size of the ducts or where the ducts are run. They’re going to make sure that they’re sized properly.
Do we know that the compressor is actually working outside?
AMANDA: Yeah. They did – they came back again after that and made sure that it had the Freon in it and checked to make sure that it was working properly.
TOM: Well, obviously, something is not working properly, OK? And it’s either the compressor or there could be something with the way the ducts are installed. I can’t begin to diagnose it for you except to tell you that it’s not right. The contractor should know better than this. I don’t think you’re getting the best advice or service from this contractor, because it shouldn’t be that difficult for an HVAC contractor to figure out why a house is not getting cool. This is their business.
So, if you’re not getting anywhere with these guys, you might want to think about bringing in another contractor to get a second opinion, maybe not even share with them that you had this unit installed recently and see if they can figure out why it’s not cooling. See what kind of advice you get.
But it seems to me that this first contractor had a responsibility to do what it takes or at least to complete the job or advise you if there was something that was going to prevent the compressor from cooling the house. Then why were they willing to sell you the compressor in the first place? You see what I mean? They’re the experts here.
AMANDA: He’s saying to me that four hours is not a long time.
TOM: That’s not true at all. That’s ridiculous.
AMANDA: I pretty much said I had to go outside to cool off.
TOM: Listen, I would get another contractor or an expert in there to find out why exactly it’s not working, take a look at all the things that impact cooling. And then at least you’ll know what was done or not done and you can take it from there. But it doesn’t sound to me like you’re getting the best advice here.
AMANDA: Thank you and I love listening to your show.
TOM: Oh, thank you very much. And I hope we’ve helped you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Scott in West Virginia is on the line with a kitchen faucet that’s leaking. Tell us what’s going on.
SCOTT: Well, I’ve got a little problem in my kitchen. My wife is driving me crazy about it and it’s driving me crazy, also.
TOM: Alright. What’s going on?
SCOTT: Most of the time, you have a drippy faucet in your kitchen or something like that. My problem is is that it’s leaking around the handles: the hot and cold. And I’ve never had that to happen before and I’m like, “OK. Do I have to replace the whole thing or is there a kit that I can buy that – to stop this mess?”
TOM: Do you know what manufacturer of the faucet you have?
SCOTT: I knew you were going to ask me that and I thought about looking and I just didn’t. And I believe it’s Delta but I’m not sure about that.
TOM: See, here’s the thing. If you can identify the manufacturer, you can get a rebuild kit with new washers and so on for those faucets. But if you can’t figure it out, do not ever use a generic. Because if you use a generic, even though it looks perfectly, it doesn’t fit.
Now, that said, if it’s an older faucet and you replace it now, the new faucets are going to have ceramic discs – ceramic disc valves – which the older they are, the tighter they get. So they really never leak. So the technology has gotten so much better now with the way faucets are made that you might want to consider just replacing it, rather than trying to take it apart and put it back together and maybe they’ll still leak.
SCOTT: Right. It’s probably, I’d say, 10 or 12 years old, so …
TOM: Yeah. Might be due for a new one.
Hey, listen, we saw one not too long ago that actually is a touch – motion-activated that – Moen makes it. It’s called – I think it’s called MotionSense. And you wave your hand over the top of this thing and it comes on or you bring a dish sort of up to it and automatically it comes on. Or it has a regular …
LESLIE: It’s like, “Look, I’m washing your dish.”
TOM: Or like a regular faucet. Right. It’s like how many times do you walk up to the faucet to fill your cup – coffee cup – up or to rinse it out, I mean? Just by walking up to it, it comes on.
LESLIE: Or with your hands from chicken breasts, you know? It’s like you don’t want to touch the faucet.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, that was pretty cool. So I think it’s called MotionSense. It’s by Moen.
SCOTT: OK. That sounds worth looking into.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck, Scott.
SCOTT: OK. Thanks, you guys, for the info.
TOM: You’re very welcome. And make your wife happy and replace it, will you?
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 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 HomeAdvisor.com.
TOM: Still ahead, summer is always the best time of year to turn your trash into someone else’s treasure. We’re going to have tips for a great garage, yard or tag sale, after this.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’d love to hear from you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online, all for free.
LESLIE: Jim in California needs help with a decking project. What can we do for you today?
JIM: I’ve got two decks that I rebuilt approximately three summers ago and had never treated them. Did a real nice job: mitered corners, rounded everything, routed everything. And of course, not treating them, they have weathered and I need to clean them.
LESLIE: OK. And so your issue is you’re seeing some wear and tear but the big problem is discoloration?
JIM: Yes. The oxidization.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So everything looks a little gray and just weathered?
LESLIE: Now, with the discoloration, that’s normal wear and tear of any type of wood surface. And if you were to just, say, put a sealer on there, yes, you’re going to protect the wood from any further cracking or checking and you may help it, depending on the kind that you use, from further damage from, say, the sun. But if you want the color to be really what you restore, you’re going to have to go with a stain that has a color in it.
So depending on the condition of that decking, you can go with a semi-transparent, which will deposit color on but still allow you to see the condition of the wood through it, you know, through the stain itself. Or you can go with a solid stain, which gives you a little bit of longer time between having to refinish it, gives you more protection because it is a further saturation of color and a heavier pigmentation of color. So it really depends on what kind of look you want and really, the condition of the wood itself.
JIM: Yes. Well, my wife wants me to bring the color back.
TOM: That color is long gone, my friend. You can’t bring it back once it grays out like that but you can restore it if you stain it, like Leslie suggested. And you can use semi-transparent or solid color and it will look really good and you’ll still see the grain. So you’re not going to lose the grain of the wood. But once it turns gray like that, you’re not going to be able to restore it unless you sand it and that’s really pretty much a waste of effort.
LESLIE: Well, with the last blast of garage-sale season ahead, it’s a good time and a great reminder to dig into those crammed storage spaces, get organized and make a profit in the process.
TOM: Yeah. Now, to get started, lightening your load is a lot easier when you have a system. So, here’s kind of our system. When you go through belongings, you want to sort them into piles of things to keep, things to trash and things to sell. Now, once you’ve taken out the trash and reorganized the keepers, you can team up with neighbors and friends to come up with a good selection of good-quality items.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, remember this, guys: the serious shoppers, they come early. So be prepared with your best wares a few minutes before the start time listed in your ad. Also, guys, though, they will come very, very, very early. So be prepared for that. You also want to be careful about selling things that may have updated safety features, like baby furniture, car seats. Those things you have to be super careful about.
Now, furniture, housewares, electronics, even kids’ sporting equipment, they always sell very, very well. So if you’ve got those, you could be sitting on some cash.
TOM: And you might be surprised how much new space you’ll create by cleaning things out and how much money you’ll make by letting go of what you don’t need.
Now, if the garage-sale idea is not for you, we’ve got a great post on MoneyPit.com called “How to Sell Your Stuff Online in the Age of Apps.” We walk you through all of the latest apps that are out there for selling stuff online. It’s never been easier and frankly, you may even make more money doing it that way than having that sale, because you have a much bigger marketplace of everybody across the country that might be interested in your stuff. So check it out, online, at MoneyPit.com: “How to Sell Your Stuff in the Age of Apps.”
LESLIE: Tracy in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a universal-design project. Tell us what you’re working on.
TRACY: I have a daughter who’s 21 years old and we need some help when it comes to bathing her. We’re looking at doing a bathroom addition onto her room but we don’t even know, really, how to get started. Do we need to consult with an architect on the design advice? She’s homebound, medically fragile, 100-percent disabled and we just are looking at some advice on how to even get started to meet her needs so that we only have to do this one time.
LESLIE: Is a tub situation easier for you or is a shower?
TRACY: Probably a shower.
LESLIE: OK. Because there are the tubs with the doors that open. It depends on how difficult it would be to sort of move her from chair to seated tub position. It just depends on how comfortable you are with the bathing situation, if you want to get in there and get wet.
But Tom and I have actually done a lot of work with universal design and are quite familiar with some of the processes.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And I do think it’s a good idea to use a certified kitchen-and-bath designer and that’s somebody who is going to be specializing in universal design. You’re going to ask specifically for someone that has that talent, because they’re going to be up-to-speed on the best products that are out there for your particular situation, be able to recommend appropriately and you’re going to get a bathroom that actually looks nice and functions well for you.
I would not, would not call a standard remodeling contractor. Because a remodeling contractor will say, “Yeah, I understand. I know what to do.” And you know what? They just don’t, because it’s very specialized.
In fact, some years ago, Leslie, didn’t the AARP have a special certification program for contractors and architects that were working with universal-design situations?
LESLIE: They did. It was through the Homebuilders Association. And they had a special course that you could take to become certified as a universal-design specialist. So you might want to start with the AARP’s website, just to find some recommendations of folks in your area who are certified. I believe it was called the CAPS – Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist – Program.
And even though that’s not necessarily your need, it has similar associations. So you might want to start there as far as just trying to find somebody who can help you find the right products. Because you want something that looks good; you don’t want it to feel like a hospital. You want it to function and you want it to be done right the first time.
TOM: They have a lot of resources for universal design. Probably the best collection anywhere online is on the AARP website. You just simply click on the Home & Family section and then Home Improvement and you’ll find a lot there.
They also have a section on livable communities, because the universal design just makes sense for folks of any age, whether you are a senior citizen, whether you are disabled or whether you are just a mom that comes home with her arms full of grocery bags and needs to pop open a door with her elbow because she can’t really turn a door knob. There’s tips like that that really make it so much easier for you to live comfortably in your house, regardless of age or physical condition. So I would start there, as well.
But make sure you work with people that are experienced in universal design. There are lots and lots of people out there. You’ve just got to find them, OK?
TRACY: Great. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Ben in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with a hot attic. Tell us what’s going on.
BEN: My attic temperature has been peaking at about, oh, 45 to 48 above ambient temperature. And I could describe what kind of roof. It’s a hip roof and it’s probably about 42 feet long. And I’ve got 13 feet of ridge (audio gap) up above and I was just wondering what would be the way to go: a ridge vent or wind turbine or maybe electric roof fan?
TOM: OK. Well, first of all, a hip roof is among the most difficult types of roofs to vent because you have such a small ridge. That said, what I would do is make sure that you have a continuous ridge vent on that ridge. That’s the first part. The second part is you need to make sure you have continuous soffit vents all around the overhang at the edge of the roof. Because the air, theoretically, will enter the soffit, go up under the roof sheathing and exit at the ridge. Does that make sense?
BEN: Well, it was a place built in ‘76 and it had vinyl soffing (ph) put over it and darn few vents. And I just recently got done putting some extra soffit space in there but that didn’t really seem to make any difference.
TOM: Well, are the soffits fully vented right now, Ben?
BEN: No. Just over the old holes. They put in a couple panels of vented.
TOM: Oh, so they covered the old wood soffits with ventilated panels? Is that what you’re saying?
BEN: Yeah, the old wood soffits were about 14×6 and there were three in the long end and two in the short.
TOM: Yeah, you have – I know exactly what you’re talking about; I’ve seen this many times. In fact, when I was a home inspector, I used to check for this by sort of pressing up on that soft, vinyl soffit – it looks all pretty and vented – to find solid plywood underneath.
It’s a problem. You really have to take the vinyl soffit material down and remove all of the old wood soffit material so that now it’s fully open. Then you can put the vinyl, perforated soffit material back up and you’ll have a fully vented soffit.
TOM: You can’t just put vented vinyl on top of wood soffit that has even vents sort of cut into it, because you’re just not getting enough airflow in. With a hip roof, the best place to get airflow is at the soffits and if they’re choked off, it’s never going to be cool up there.
So I would start by opening up those soffits and adding a good-quality ridge vent. Take a look at the vents that are made by CertainTeed – the Air Vent Corporation. And I say that because those vents have sort of a baffle design that improves the negative pressure at the ridge, which helps draw more air out of it. I don’t like the ridge vents that look kind of like corrugated cardboard; they don’t have enough cross-ventilation, enough way to get air out. I like to see vents that are big and fully open so that the air can really pull out of that. But I think a good-quality ridge vent and soffit vents that are properly open all around are really going to solve this issue for you, Ben, OK?
BEN: Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Just ahead, asphalt driveways take a beating from Mother Nature. And now that we’re moving towards the end of summer, have you taken a really good look at your driveway? Late summer and early fall are truly the best times to replace worn and cracked driveways. We’re going to have some tips to help you hire the best pro to get that job done, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com, 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: Standing by for your calls, your questions to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Charlotte in North Carolina on the line who has got a popcorn ceiling that doesn’t have butter on it.
Charlotte, tell us what’s going on.
CHARLOTTE: Well, what happens now – we have a brown stain on the ceiling from the leak but we’ve had the leak repaired, of course. And it’s a popcorn ceiling. I’ve always hated this popcorn ceiling; I’m not opposed to getting rid of it. But I’m just wondering, what’s the best way to make the repair here? Because I’m afraid if we just take off the section where the stain is, it’s not going to match anymore and it’ll – you can – it’ll be like a repaired look. What would be your suggestion?
LESLIE: Now, is it truly a popcorn ceiling? Like when you reach up, you sort of end up with remnants of it? Or is it like a textured stucco ceiling?
CHARLOTTE: Whatever that drywall is that they kind of make and they spray on the ceiling.
TOM: Yeah. So, here’s the thing. You’ve had the roof leak. The roof leak is now repaired?
TOM: Has it physically damaged the ceiling or is it just the stains you’re concerned about?
CHARLOTTE: It mostly looks like the stains. To me, it looks like there might be one small section that might have a little bit of a bulge in it.
TOM: Alright. Well, let’s ignore that for the moment. What I would suggest you do is to use a good-quality primer and repaint that ceiling.
Now, if it’s just a very limited area, you could prime just the stain and leave the rest. If it’s a bigger area, you’ve got to prime the whole ceiling. But if you use a good-quality primer there, like a KILZ or a B-I-N or something like that, then that should seal in the stain and you could put paint on top of that. You will have to paint the whole ceiling if it’s not been done recently. But if you seal it with a primer and then paint it, that will make the ceiling stain disappear and preserve the popcorn.
Removing the popcorn, at this point, is just a whole lot of work but it sounds like it’s really not necessary for you to do, unless you just don’t like the look of it.
CHARLOTTE: Thank you very much. That’ll help a lot. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Charlotte. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, asphalt driveways take a beating from Mother Nature. You know, sun, moisture, those freeze/thaw cycles, they all combine to cause cracks, exposing the aggregate and really aging the binders that hold your driveway together. That’s why it’s important to repair driveway cracks or potholes and apply driveway sealing on a regular basis to protect it.
But if you’ve done that or maybe you should’ve done that and now it seems that the driveway is ready for replacement, here’s a few things that you should know before you call a pro.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And we’ve got that info, in today’s Pro Project Tip presented by HomeAdvisor.com.
First, you need to know what you’re buying. Aside from driveway sealing, which is when a very thin coating of asphalt sealer is applied, there are really only two ways to redo a driveway. Now, a pro can add a layer to what you have already or they can completely tear out the driveway and start from scratch.
Now, if the driveway is just worn but it doesn’t have big potholes or cracks, a topcoat could be an option. But if the driveway is in really bad shape, adding a topcoat won’t change that and the new asphalt will likely sag and crack pretty quickly.
LESLIE: Now, for a driveway replacement, the most important thing is the preparation of the base. Once that old asphalt is removed, a new gravel base, typically about 6 inches, should be installed and then it’s rolled.
Now, think about a steamroller. A giant, rolling, truck-type thing is going to roll over until it’s almost as solid as a finished road. If this part is done well, you can expect your new driveway to look like the day it was put down for many, many years.
Now, it’s also important that the driveway be sloped for proper drainage. Nothing wears out a driveway faster than puddles of water.
TOM: Absolutely. Now, lastly, it’s really important to choose the right type of asphalt. Yes, there are different types. Some asphalt has more aggregate or stone in it than others. If you put asphalt down that is too sandy, which is sort of the other end of that spectrum, you’re going to have problems in a couple of years. You put one down that’s got a lot of aggregate, it’s going to last 10 or more years.
Now, the difference is really in the appearance. The sandy asphalt has more of a glossy, shiny kind of nicer look to it. But the devil is in the details. It’s just not going to hold up. You’re much better off with driveway mix, which is an asphalt that has an aggregate in it, so it really stands up. It’s just a lot stronger and it’s going to last a lot longer and that’s going to make you really happy.
LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with all your driveway projects, guys. They’re going to look gorgeous.
Today’s Pro Project has been presented by HomeAdvisor.com. With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area and compare prices, 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: Alright. Now we’ve got Eva in North Carolina on the line with a water-heating question. How can we help you today?
EVA: Our home is about 11 years old. We have a hot-water heater on our third floor of our home. And I’m a little nervous about it being up on the third floor. And with it aging out, I’m concerned about it potentially bursting or leaking. So what we’d like to do is replace the hot-water heater in this house.
However, we’re not sure. We kind of have a disagreement. We’re broke right now, financially, but we would – for peace of mind’s sake, I would like to possibly look into a tankless. My husband thinks we should just replace the current one that we have upstairs on the third floor with the same darn thing because he’s like, “If it’s new, it won’t leak and it won’t burst.” So what do you guys suggest?
TOM: How old is the water heater?
EVA: As old as the house, I presume. The house is about 11 or 12 years old.
TOM: Well, if it’s an 11-year-old house, it’s going to have an 11-year-old water heater. And while, yeah, that’s closer to the end of a normal life than not, believe it or not, it’s not horribly old. I’ve seen water heaters go 15, 20 years.
EVA: But because it’s on the third floor of the house, I’m nervous because water is going to – it’s not like it’s in the basement or the garage. So if there is a leak or something like that, I’m concerned about there being a lot of water damage to our home.
TOM: I understand. And you could – that would happen if a pipe broke, as well. So, if you want to replace it with a tankless, that is going to be more expensive than a tanked water heater. But it’s definitely worthwhile because they last a lot longer and they also give you on-demand hot water, so you never really ever run out of warm water.
If you’re concerned about your plumbing system’s reliability in general, just make it a practice that whenever you guys go away for a weekend or longer, you turn the main water valve off. You don’t need to leave water on when you’re not home for an extended period of time. So, that might also be something you might want to start doing on a regular basis.
EVA: So whenever you’re going to be gone for the weekend or more than a couple days, turn the main water valve off.
TOM: That’s right. Because you don’t need it on. And this way, if the water heater ever were to break, it would lose the 40 or 50 gallons that’s in it but it would not constantly run, run, run.
EVA: Gotcha. So, going back to my original question, what do you guys suggest we do? Because my husband thinks, well, let’s just get a new one, the same thing. And then he thinks it’s going to give me some peace of mind.
TOM: OK. Here’s what I would do. You said that money is tight. I don’t want you to throw good money at bad ideas and I think replacing it with the same thing is kind of a bad idea, especially since it’s 11 years old. What I would prefer to see you do is live with that for another year or two, save up some money and then put in a tankless.
EVA: OK. And do you recommend tanklesses (ph) go in the crawlspace or in the garage or outside?
TOM: Well, they can pretty much go wherever you want. If you put them outside, they get a little less efficient because, of course, the outside temperature is cold and that means they have to work a little bit harder.
TOM: And sometimes, they’re put in rooms that are insulated or outside closets and that sort of thing. But you have the flexibility because a tankless water heater is going to be about a quarter of the size of your tanked water heater.
EVA: OK. So it sounds like that’s what you recommend is a tankless but maybe just live with this one for another year or two.
TOM: I think that makes the most sense. OK, Eva?
EVA: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
I don’t feel like 11 years old is a terribly old water heater.
LESLIE: No. I mean given that a lifespan is 10,12 years. And you’re right: before we moved in, the one in our house was like 20 years old.
TOM: I used to see that all the time as a home inspector. And yeah, it’s old but not worth emergency replacing.
LESLIE: You can live with it. No. Just for peace of mind. There are other things that you can do.
TOM: There’s enough life left in that to risk not doing it now and saving up your money for a year or two and then going tankless. Because tankless is definitely the technology that is state of the art today and worth every penny of its cost.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Still to come, you’ve decided your kid is old enough to be home alone but can they handle a home-related emergency? Learn how to prepare them, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Hey, are you ready to get that deck you’ve been dreaming of? Well, stop dreaming. Head online because HomeAdvisor.com can instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Patrick on the line who’s got a roofing question. How can we help you today?
PATRICK: I had a question about a metal roof versus a shingle roof. Our roof is about 17 years old and it’s ready for – it’s ready to change.
LESLIE: Now, is it ready to change because you don’t like the way it looks or is it failing in some way?
PATRICK: Oh, no. It’s actually fine; the shingles are fine. But I was kind of wondering about the cost benefit of spending twice as much for a metal roof versus a shingle roof for another – you know what? How long will the shingle – how long should that metal roof last? What’s the gauge of the metal? That kind of thing.
TOM: How long do you plan on staying in the house?
TOM: Forever. OK, that’s important information.
So, if you put a metal roof on this house, I think it can last, for all intents and purposes, forever. The metal roofs of yesteryear, when they were properly maintained, would easily last 50 to 100 years. The metal roofs of today will do the same thing and they can even do it more successfully because of some of the modern elements of technology that are added to it.
For example – you are in Florida? Is that correct?
PATRICK: Yes. Port Charlotte.
TOM: The one nice thing is that metal roofs have a reflective paint; it’s like a low-E paint. And they actually reflect some of that radiant heat back off of the roof. So instead of having a roof that’s like a heat collector, you’re going to have a roof that’s a heat reflector. So there’s also an energy-efficiency element to it, as well.
But I think that metal roofs last literally indefinitely, as long as they’re properly maintained. They don’t need a lot of maintenance. Of course, if there’s a storm and that sort of thing, they stand up a lot better; they don’t fly off like shingles do. And even though it’s twice as expensive, it’ll probably be the last roof you’ll ever have to put on that house.
PATRICK: If I do this $11,000 roof, will I report that to my homeowners insurance and will I get a benefit from that or no?
TOM: That’s a good question for your broker. Certainly, a metal roof is more fire-resistant. I also would look into energy – any energy-efficiency rebates. Because since it’s a low-E roof coating, you may actually qualify for an energy rebate. So I would look into that, as well.
PATRICK: And how would I look into that?
TOM: A good source is the Metal Roofing Alliance. That’s a trade association for the metal-roof industry. Go to MetalRoofing.com. And in fact, they have a section on their website about tax incentives, so they are available for metal roofs.
PATRICK: Alright. I appreciate your help.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, at some point, every parent faces the decision of determining whether or not a child is OK to stay home alone. Now, as a parent of three, I know that every child is going to be different. So, it’s important to make sure that they not only can handle themselves but also handle things that could go wrong in your house.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, kids should know how to call 911. They should know that number and know, actually, how to use it. But beyond that, there are other good things to know and that’s really dependent on your child’s age and ability.
For example, does your child know how to find and shut off the water main in case of a major leak? Do you know where that valve is? Well, go find it and put a big tag on it and then share that location with your kids.
Now, here’s another thing: can your child safely operate a fire extinguisher? Does your child know what to do if the smoke detector goes off? What should he or she do if the power goes out? These are all things you’ve got to consider.
TOM: Yep. These are all questions to ask yourself and to teach your children, again, only if you feel they’re ready.
For a complete, comprehensive guide to help you get your kids ready for any emergency, you can head on over to Ready.gov. Great website, chock full of tips and advice on how to handle small disasters, as well as the big ones.
LESLIE: Up next, there’s a popular household cleaner that’s sending thousands of kids to the hospital and calling Poison Control. Find out what it is, 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: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: And while you’re online, you’ve got two pros here ready to answer your questions that you post in the Community section, just like Chris in Oklahoma did. Now, Chris writes: “My neighbors just told me that they found termites in their wood trim. Does this mean I’m going to get them? What should I do?”
TOM: Probably already do have them.
LESLIE: Oh, no.
TOM: If they’re in the neighborhood, they’re in the neighborhood. Just it may have hit – they may have hit your house – your neighbor’s house first.
Look, you need to do an inspection on a regular basis if you live in an area that has subterranean termites, because they live in the soil, they come up into the house to feed, then they go back to the soil for water. And so, an inspector is going to know how to identify them.
If you want to try to do your own, you need a super-bright flashlight. You need to look at the outside foundation perimeter. You’re looking for mud tubes. These are sand-colored tunnels that termites will build on the outside of a foundation wall. They’ll also tunnel up through firewood if you have any wood on the ground. Not a good idea but if you have any, you turn it over and see if they’re infesting it.
And then inside, you want to look at the foundation walls, up where the framing meets it, and look for those tubes. Tap on all the floor joists, see if anything sounds hollow. If you’ve got termites, you need to have it professionally treated. It’s easy to do these days. It’s not DIY. But you do it once. If it’s done right, you won’t have to worry about them for a very, very long time.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, all of these wood-eating insects – you’ve got carpenter ants, carpenter bees, termites – they can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.
LESLIE: And they can cause it rather quickly. So, the only way you can really stay on top of that is if you have a professional come and do an annual inspection, to make sure that your house is OK and keeping those bugs out.
TOM: Well, you know better than to leave medicine in reach of kids. But what about basic household cleaners? Turns out they can be just as toxic. Leslie has tips to help keep the little ones clear of cleaning products, including one newer product that’s causing more harm than the rest, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Well, come on, you guys. You know there’s a ton of things out there that are made to make life easier. But I feel like sometimes, as people, we’re not becoming smarter or figuring out ways to be even more silly when it comes to household products.
Now, liquid laundry detergent, those little packets, they make life super easy but they really complicate things, as well. They’re small, they’re colorful, they’re these little packets. I mean they have prompted more than 32,000 calls to Poison Control centers since 2012. That’s a number so high because the packets resemble candy.
Now, it’s not just a matter of keeping the laundry packets out of your kids’ mouths. They shouldn’t even be handled by your children. Because they’re used in washing machines, these laundry packets dissolve very quickly when they come in contact with moisture. And that could be a sweaty, wet, little hand. And that releases toxic chemicals that can linger and then make their way into your children’s eyes or mouth, even hours later.
And the laundry packets aren’t the only danger to kids. You never want to store toxins in containers for juice or milk unless they are clearly and properly labeled with the contents. And keep all of your household cleaners locked up and out of reach, no different than you would treat medicine.
And speaking of, if you’ve got older kids at home, you want to make sure that all of your medicines are in a locked medicine cabinet, chest, whatever. And dispose of medicines that you no longer use or need, quickly. Lots of places have medicine-collection days. Pharmacies do it. Some of your town centers have it. I know we have a Stop Throwing Out Pollutants and they have a Prescription Drug Day. So, pay attention to this. Don’t just put them in the trash and don’t just keep them around.
TOM: Good advice.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, natural wood adds beauty to any home. We’re talking about wood siding, wood trim. It’s gorgeous. But it’s also an invitation for bugs and rot. Another option is synthetic siding. It’s available now. It looks just like wood but it does not have the headaches. We’ll have tips on the latest technology in synthetic siding and trim, on the 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.
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