TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show


I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: And we are here to help you take on your home projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Whether it’s décor, repair, remodeling, whatever is on your to-do list we are here to help. Give us a call, right now, and help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

Coming up on today’s show, are you in the market for maybe some new furniture but you don’t have a big budget to buy new? Well, if that’s the case, upcycling may be for you. We’re going to have tips to help you get started, including tips on what makes the best type of upcycled find.

LESLIE: And you might be noticing that the days are getting shorter and it’s getting darker earlier. Well, now would be a great time to update your home’s lighting. You know, LED offers a long-term energy savings but between understanding those lumens, watts, color temperature, there’s so much on that label today that it’s really kind of hard to figure out which one is the best one for you. So we’re going to shed some light on a solution, in just a bit.

TOM: And also ahead, are you getting ready to replace leaky or drafty windows? We’ll have some tips on the best ways to get that project done for year-round energy savings.

LESLIE: And we try to help you keep your projects together on The Money Pit. And today, we’ve got a giveaway that does that, as well.

TOM: That’s right. We’ve got a set of four Jorgensen Steel Bar Clamps worth 140 bucks. Perfect for clamping all sorts of home projects. So, you’ve got to be in it to win it, so pick up the phone, right now, and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That set of four clamps is going out to one caller drawn at random.

Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

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

LORETTA: We’re in the process of building a beach house. And we have a crawlspace, no basement, because of the water level there. Basements are not allowed. Everything we’ve looked up – and just trying to find out what flooring to put in. We were hoping for 90-percent of the floor to be hardwood floor.

But there’s third – everybody’s telling us no, we can’t do hardwood. So we’ve been looking around and we’ve seen different types – laminate, vinyl – and have read so many mixed things about it that we just were undecided of what to do now.

TOM: OK. So, if you’re thinking solid hardwood, I would agree. There is, however, a type of hardwood called “engineered hardwood” that is much more dimensionally stable and can work very successfully in damp locations.

Engineered hardwood is – if you can think of the way plywood is made, where you have different layers of wood that are glued together in opposing angles but the top surface is what you see, that’s kind of what engineered hardwood is in terms of how it’s made. There are different layers that are glued together at 90 degrees. And when you see the finished board, the top of it that is all that you see when it’s all down, is the hardwood. And the rest of it, basically, is the part that gives it this sort of structural rigidity in different conditions.

So you definitely could use an engineered hardwood. But that said, sure, there are lots of great laminate products. And also, the new type of product that looks like pretty much laminate or can look like hardwood is called EVP, which stands for Engineered Vinyl Plank.

I just put a beautiful EVP floor down in my mom’s kitchen for her, so we’re on a floor that was going to take the traffic and handle the moisture and the spills and that sort of stuff and the chair scuffs. And man, it looked great. It looks like an antique-y kind of an old, wood floor. And the whole thing is made out of vinyl but I’m telling you, nobody can tell when they walk in this kitchen and look down at it. Vinyl is the last thing you would guess, because they’ve done such a great job now with how these products are made and the colors that they put in and the textures that they put in. It looks just like the real thing which, in our case, was an old, wood floor.

LORETTA: Mm-hmm. And it’s definitely good with humidity and …

TOM: Well, it’s vinyl. You could use it underwater and have no effect.


TOM: Right. So, I would take a look at those products and I think you’ll find something that is going to work well for you.

LORETTA: OK. OK. How about price-wise?

TOM: The EVP is going to probably be less expensive than the engineered hardwood but it’s not terribly expensive either way.

LORETTA: Alright. We’ll take a look at it.

TOM: Alright, Loretta. Good luck with that house. Let us know how you make out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Michael in Louisiana is on the line with a question about insulation and the different types. How can we help you?

MICHAEL: Hey. My question is about closed-cell versus open-cell foam and in a roof-deck application, the difference between using open- and closed-cell foam and roof-deck rot.

TOM: So, first of all, it’s a really good product to use for any type of a roof insulation. Spray-foam insulation is really the best way to go. It’s not subjected to the same types of humidity and decay issues that traditional fiberglass would, because it’s essentially designed to be in a conditioned space. You don’t have to vent it.

Now, in terms of the differences, open-cell foam characteristically is a little softer and more flexible. It has – the cells are deliberately left open. And closed cell is just as the name implies: they basically are sealed together, stiffer and harder.

The R-value on closed cell is usually higher than open cell. So that means you can get more insulation in the same physical space with closed cell compared to open cell. But the other side of it is it’s usually more expensive.

So what I would do is I would compare and contrast total R-value on making the assessment, not just how many inches of insulation. Because that’s what you’re paying for, right? You’re paying for the insulation value. And I will say that if it’s an area where I’m concerned about moisture more so, closed cell is probably the better way to go.

For example, we see houses along the beach where the underside of the floor structure is sprayed. In those applications, I like to recommend closed cell over open.

MICHAEL: So I think I understood that the industry, several years ago, was recommending closed cell for roof-deck scenarios. But then they kind of got away from that and went back to open cell due to moisture accumulation in the roof deck.

TOM: Yeah, I’m not familiar with that. I mean I would talk to the manufacturer of the product that you’re deciding to work with. I did my house and I used Icynene. I was really happy with them. They’re a Canadian company, one of the biggest in the world with that product. But there are lots of good companies.

It also comes down to the installer, because it’s a product that has to be mixed on site. It’s not like you’re heading to the home center and picking up some rolls of insulation. This stuff is mixed and applied right there, so the experience of their installer is really important, as well, in getting the job done right.

MICHAEL: So we had our entire roof foam-insulated about a year or so ago. And I’ve noticed that the interior humidity level since then has been higher than what we had previous to that.


MICHAEL: So I don’t know if the overall envelope of the house – obviously, it’s much tighter. But our – the home was built in the mid-90s, so we have kind of builder-grade insulation and builder-grade windows in the exterior walls.

TOM: Right. Right.

MICHAEL: So, I know that the roof deck and the eaves and all that are much tighter.

TOM: You know, it’s entirely – I understand what you’re saying, Michael, and it’s entirely possible because you have now less natural ventilation. You basically may have taken a home that had several air changes per hour and now cut that way back. It is possible that you could have a bit more humidity inside. But I think that that’s not a problem. I think it’s just a condition that you should manage and especially in an area like Louisiana, where you are 100-percent humidity 9 months of the year, it would seem, right?

You might want to think about using a piece of equipment that’s designed specifically to reduce humidity. For example, there’s a type of product called a “whole-home dehumidifier.” Now, don’t confuse this with a dehumidifier you typically see on a lower level of a house that’s hooked up to a bucket and just dumps water out. This is actually installed into the duct system as part of the HVAC system. And it runs on a humidistat. And when it comes on, it is designed only to pull humidity out of the air. And it can do so in a really surprising volume. It can take out 100 pints of water a day.

So in your area, that might be something I would consider, especially if I’m seeing excessive humidity inside the house. But I think you’re on the right path with the spray foam.

MICHAEL: Very good. Thank you.

TOM: Alright. 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 Show. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’d love to hear what you are working on. And The Money Pit is presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online for free.

TOM: And just ahead, are you in the market for new furniture – maybe a table, some chairs or a cabinet – but you don’t have a big budget to buy new? Well, if that’s the case, upcycling may be for you. We’re going to have tips to help you get started, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz, next.

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 the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

And if you pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, we’ll give you the answer to your home improvement project and some extra help to keep it all together, because today we’re giving away the Jorgensen Steel Bar Clamp Package. There’s four clamps in the package and it’s worth 140 bucks.

Now, these are my – first of all, Jorgensen is my very favorite brand of clamp. And I know that that’s kind of weird. Who has a favorite brand of clamp? Well, if you’re a home improver like me, you have a favorite brand because you need to have something you can really rely on and count on to get the job done.

And I love the Jorgensen products. Now, these Steel Bar Clamps have this fast-acting sliding head, which basically makes it easy to adjust to whatever size project you’re working on. It’s got a big, easy-grip handle. It’s got a swivel pad. Really strong and they hold 80,000 pounds a square inch. And it has this multiple-disk clutch design. That means that when you’re trying to slide the different parts of the clamp to hold securely to any spot in the whole path, it does that really easily. So you could pretty much put any size that you need in there.

And listen, if you’re trying to clamp together or maybe a bureau that the top came off on and you want to reglue it or a drawer front or something like that, you need this kind of thing. So, check it out at

But if you’d like to win that set of four Jorgensen Steel Bar Clamps, worth 140 bucks, you’ve got to call us right now. It’s going to one listener drawn at random. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Evelyn in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

EVELYN: Yes, ma’am. I have wanted to redo my – they call it a “living room” now but it’s mostly your front room? And I wanted to know if I wanted to have it made over – the whole room – do you have any suggestions about how I could go about getting that done? The exception is I have this really big, huge desk that I have to keep in the room.

TOM: So you’re looking for a decorator to help you sort of redo the room. Is that correct?


LESLIE: Well, there is an association of interior decorators; it’s ASID. And these are folks that are registered with the Interior Decorating Society. And they’re listed by zip code. You can go to the website, ASID – I don’t know if it’s .org, .com. And that way, you can find a decorator in your area.

I will let you know that pricing ranges from decorator to decorator. Some will do an hourly consulting fee, some will do a flat fee, some will do a percentage of the items ordered. It really depends on the project. I think if you start at that website and start looking for people in your area, visit their websites. Take a look at the style of work that they do; this way, you can find somebody that matches your décor. And then that’s a good way to find somebody that’ll fit well.

EVELYN: OK. Well, listen, that was what I wanted to know. You think that would be worth the while?

LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. I think it makes sense to start that way.

EVELYN: Oh, OK. Well, thank you.

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

LESLIE: Are you in the market for some new furniture but maybe you don’t have the big budget to buy new? If so, upcycling might be for you. We have some tips to help you get started, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz.

First of all, guys, some basics here. Now, upcycling is essentially a term that’s the opposite of downcycling, which is what happens when you just throw something away. Now, in between upcycling and downcycling is recycling, which still puts waste back into the environment but in a much more responsible way.

But we really do love upcycling because it provides an opportunity to find useful furniture and other household items. And with a little creativity and a small budget for some supplies, it gives them a second life in your home or your apartment. And that really just does good all around.

TOM: Yeah. And the idea of upcycling is really popular right now. In fact, there’s a fun and useful Instagram page that I discovered called Stooping in New York City or Stooping in NYC, where people that spot items being thrown out in the trash, they take a picture of it and they upload it to the site with its location. Now, those pics on Stooping in NYC are seen by thousands of people. And if someone thinks it looks good, they can head on over to the location to hopefully be the very first one to score a great upcycled find.

Now, outside of urban areas, though, there are a lot of towns and cities that have a bulk trash collection day, which is pretty much code for free stuff.

LESLIE: It’s true.

TOM: And knowing when that happens in your own neighborhood, as well as the surrounding communities, that can be a good way to find a great bed frame, a cabinet, a dresser, table or chair that maybe with just a little TLC, a touch of paint, it could become a very welcome addition to your home.

LESLIE: It’s funny. My sisters live out on the East End of Long Island and there, you have to bring your garbage to a dump. And at the dump, they have what everybody calls the “dump store,” which is where you bring furniture and toys and games and all things that you’re done using but really aren’t ready for the trash. And everybody goes there and waits outside and is like, “I want that dresser.” It looks like …

TOM: And they watch what comes out of each truck and man, as it comes up to the dump store, right?

LESLIE: I mean it’s really true. It’s free shopping and you’re allowed to loiter in the parking lot. But you can’t take anything out of a person’s hands. It’s got to physically go into the dump store – which is basically just a chained, fenced area – and then you can grab it.

TOM: OK. Race for it.

LESLIE: It’s amazing. Now, it’s really great.

Now, guys, if you’re shopping for a piece to upcycle yourself, here’s a few things that you want to keep in mind when you’re doing your shopping. And you can’t see me doing air quotes but I’m doing it: “shopping.”

So, first of all, you want to make sure that that piece is structurally sound and doesn’t need any major repairs to be able to use. Cosmetic updates like cleaning, painting, those are easy DIY projects and pretty much expected sometimes when you’re doing these projects. But if it needs a bigger repair, it just might simply not be worth it.

And if you’ve got some big stuff, guys, you might need to get a truck. Because the challenge can just be finding a way to get it home. We’ve all seen things people have tried to strap to the top of their car to move. Tom even saw a picture recently where somebody tried to strap down a mattress, to a car roof, with painter’s tape.

TOM: Yeah.

LESLIE: Instead, guys – that’s not going to hold anything down. Instead, get a truck and move it safely.

You know, Hertz does trucks and vans. And they’ve got a great selection that can help get those materials, furnishings, whatever you find home quickly, easily and safely.

TOM: Now, let’s talk about what to avoid when you are “shopping,” with air quotes, as Leslie said.

LESLIE: I saw them.

TOM: You want to avoid upholstery and bedding. There’s no telling where upholstered furniture – like couches, bedding, easy chairs or big cushions – have been and what may be living inside, like bed bugs, right? Stay away from the upholstery.

The only exception might be a wood chair that’s got an upholstered seat or upholstered back. That’ll be easy to remove and completely replace. Otherwise, it’s just not worth taking a chance.

Now, upcycling, it’s a fun – it’s a meaningful way to take an item on its way to the trash heap and maybe, with just a bit of sweat equity, make it totally your own and something you can treasure for years to come.

And that’s today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz. For any home project, store pickup or a move that needs more than your car can handle, remember HDTV: Hertz Does Trucks and Vans. Book now at

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

BUCK: I was calling to ask a question about a built-up roof, about 4,000 square foot. I was thinking about taking and putting a coating on top of it. No insulation in the attic. And was wanting to know if it really would actually defer the heat in the lower floor by putting a brilliant-white roof coating on top.

TOM: Well, those types of roof paints do have UV reflectors in there and they’re designed to make the roof cooler. And certainly, it will be a heck of a lot cooler than the black roof that you’re starting with. So I think that that’s probably a good idea in your situation, especially being in such a warm part of the country, Buck.

BUCK: Any particular product brand that you can suggest going on top of tar?

TOM: No. But make sure it’s a roof paint. I mean typically, you use a fibrous aluminum paint for something like that. What you really want to look for is the UV reflectivity of it. Because the more UV it reflects, the better the job it’s going to do.

And by the way, it will also extend the roof life, as well, because the cooler the roof is, that means less of the oil is going to evaporate out of the asphalt and it’ll last a lot longer.

BUCK: OK. Good.

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’d love to lend a hand.

Hey, have you been really wanting to change to LED bulbs at home but you’re really not sure where to start or if it’s really going to save any money? We’ve got the facts to help you make the switch, 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. Hey, do you need some new flooring in your kitchen or your bathroom? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job for free.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elizabeth in Idaho who’s dealing with some siding that’s coming apart. Tell us about it.

ELIZABETH: I have a 1970-built house and with composite siding on the entire house. But on the west side – where it gets most of the weather, the heat and the rain and wind and so forth – the horizontal siding has split where the siding joins themselves and has spread open as much as a ¼- to ½-inch.

TOM: Was it just in one area or is it all over the place?

ELIZABETH: It’s mostly on the west side of the house that gets the brunt of the weather.

TOM: OK. So many places it’s coming apart or just a couple of places?

ELIZABETH: Quite a few, quite a few. I’d say 10 places on the back of the house.

TOM: I would caulk the seams. If it’s ¼- to ½-inch, I would caulk it. I would get caulk that’s colored to match the siding and I would apply a bead of caulk. Because the other thing to do, of course, is to put new siding in. You would have to cut out the old siding and overlap that space and then paint it and it’s a really big project. So, I would caulk it and call it a day.

ELIZABETH: OK. We have tried that and we’ve used a product – is it OK if I say the name of the product?

TOM: Sure.


TOM: Right.

ELIZABETH: And we used DAP DYNAFLEX 230. And we’ve also tried DAP ALEX PLUS. And after we put that in, we went out to look at it after about two or three days and then the – that area has just gone concave. So it’s just sunk into the siding, so it leaves a big, concave area where it was once just a crack.

Now, can we put something over that? Should we just keep putting layers on?

TOM: I think there’s a misunderstanding with what you’re trying to accomplish here, OK? What we want to do is keep the moisture from getting in there. And when you caulk, yes, it is going to dry and it’s going to shrink and actually sort of fill in very tightly any gap that you have there. You’re not using a wood filler, OK? You’re using a caulk.

And so I would not worry about small, concave gaps like that in between the caulk; that’s what I would expect it to do. Doing that, if you want to paint it over so it’s all the same color, you can probably blend it in more. But that is exactly what it should be doing.

ELIZABETH: Alright. Well, it’s just kind of unsightly where it comes together; it’s just a big, concave area. But it looks better than the crack, so …

TOM: Let’s hope that’s the biggest problem you ever have with your house, OK?

ELIZABETH: I hope so.

TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

Well, if you’ve been considering going LED at home but you’re not really sure about the cost savings, we have found that upgrading to LED bulbs really is a great way to save some money. And that’s because LED bulbs use a heck of a lot less energy and they can last for decades.

LESLIE: Now, maybe you’ve been feeling a little put off by the price of LEDs. I mean I know I was when they first came out. But now the cost has come way down in just the past year. And you don’t need to buy a ton of bulbs to start seeing that savings.

TOM: Yep. So to get started, you want to replace bulbs in the lights that you use most often or the ones that stay on the most. If you replace those first, they’re going to have the biggest immediate impact on your energy savings. And from there, you can replace the old bulbs with LEDs on fixtures that have multiple bulbs, you know, as the old bulbs wear out. Just update them with LEDs.

LESLIE: Yeah. And finally, to make sure that you get the best results from your new LED bulbs, you want to make sure that they’re rated for the specific use or fixture that you’re working with.

For example, if you’re using a dimmer, make sure it’s a type that works with LED bulbs. You’ve got to make sure things sort of pair up well together for the best results.

TOM: And for the best results for your home projects, let us give you a hand. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

Just ahead, between sky-high electric bills and expensive heating costs this winter, are you finally getting ready to replace those leaky or drafty windows? We’re going to have tips on the best way to get that project done, in today’s Pro Project presented by, next.

TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show presented by Never worry about overpaying for a job. Just use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. That’s all for free at

LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’re going to help you keep your projects together, always, here at The Money Pit. But today, we’re giving away a product that does that, as well.

We’ve got Tom’s favorite clamps up for grabs. We’ve got a Jorgensen Steel Bar Clamp Package. It’s four clamps worth 140 bucks. And what’s really great about how these clamps work is they’ve got a fast-acting sliding head and a really large, easy-to-grip handle. So, you can do this very easily with sort of holding pieces together and trying to assemble everything. That clamp is going to work for you. And it packs 80,000 pounds per square inch of tensile strength, so it’s really going to keep your project together while it fastens.

Go to to view the entire Pony Jorgensen product line. And that Jorgensen Steel Bar Clamp Package is worth 140 bucks and going out to one listener drawn today at random, so make that you. Give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

TOM: 888-666-3974.

LESLIE: Julie in Colorado is on the line and has a heating question.

JULIE: My question is regarding heat pumps and how energy-efficient they might be, because we’re an all-electric house. Our electric bill is very high.

TOM: And how is your house heated right now, Julie?

JULIE: It’s heated with baseboard. And actually, we don’t even really heat our house. We’ll heat one room because it’s so expensive.

TOM: Right now, you’re heating with electric-resistance heat which, as you accurately stated, is the most expensive type of heat. Now, a heat-pump system would be far less expensive but it would require a duct system to be installed throughout the house. So, you would have that upfront cost of running the heating ducts.

If you had that system installed – the way a heat pump works is it’s kind of like an air-conditioning system that runs all winter except that in the wintertime, the refrigeration system is reversed. Now, if you’ve ever walked, say, by a window air conditioner in the summer, you know it blows hot air out the back of it, out to the outside. If you sort of took that window air conditioner out and flipped it around and stuck it inside, you’d have a heat pump; it’d be blowing the hot air in the house. That’s essentially what happens: it reverses the refrigeration cycle in the wintertime.

Now, generally speaking, heat pumps are not always recommended for very, very cold climates, because heat pumps only maintain the heat when there’s a 2-degree differentiation between what the temperature is set at – what the temperature is and what the temperature is set at, I should say. So if you set your temperature at 70, it falls to 69, the heat goes on. If it falls inside to 68, the heat pump stays on. If it falls to 67, the heat pump says to its electric-resistance backup system, which is always part of a heat pump, “Hey, I can’t keep up with this. I need some help. Turn on the heating coils.” And then you’re not saving any money.

So, will it save – will it be less expensive than baseboard electric? Yes. But it has a significant upfront cost in terms of the installation because you’d need a duct system, as well as the heat-pump equipment. Does that make sense?

JULIE: OK. Sounds good. Thank you.

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

Well, between sky-high electric bills and expensive heating costs this year, are you finally getting ready to maybe replace those leaky or drafty windows? Window replacement is a job best left for a pro but we’ve got a few tips to help make sure it goes smoothly, in today’s Pro Project presented by

LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between a replacement window and a new-construction window.

Now, replacement windows are just that: they’re custom-sized and they’re designed to replace an old window but they fit in the exact same-size opening. Unlike those new-construction windows, there’s no need to remove any siding.

TOM: Next, once you determine the pro you’ll hire for the project, it’s important to let that pro measure for the new windows. Some folks like to do this themselves but that can be a very big mistake. You know, all replacement-window manufacturers’ specs can vary. And it’s really important if a pro measures for the window and it doesn’t fit, it’s their responsibility to fix that problem.

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Once the installation day arrives, you want to be sure to remove window treatments, clear the window-installation area as much as possible. You want to make sure that the process will actually go even more quickly. And helping make sure that your house is ready when those pros arrive truly is the best way to assure a very smooth install.

TOM: And last, you’ve got to make a rain plan, right? I mean find out what your window installer’s weather policy is and decide together on an acceptable weather condition for your projects.

Now, windows can be replaced one or two at a time, so you won’t have to worry about your entire home being sort of left open to the elements. But working together with the pros is going to help make sure that there are no surprises.

LESLIE: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by 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: Bob in Louisiana is on the line with a haunted attic. Wooooh! What kind of crazy noises are you hearing from up there?

BOB: Hey, Leslie. It sounds like a compressor coming on. I have searched that place from one end to the other. The house has been empty – been vacant for about two years. It’s my mother-in-law’s home. And we moved furniture out recently. We even had a plumber come out and look at it.

When you hear the noise, you can reach over behind the washing machine and feel the pipes and feel the vibration in the lines. I thought maybe somebody had left a compressor upstairs but nothing doing. And it’s adjacent to one of the water heaters. I have three 60-gallon electric heaters upstairs.

TOM: So, you say, Bob, that you feel the vibration in the plumbing lines when you sort of touch them?

BOB: You bet. Yes, sir.

TOM: And are you on city water or are you on well water?

BOB: We are on city water.

TOM: Sometimes, if you have a bad main valve, you can get sort of a vibration as the water forces its way through the valve, especially if it’s not completely open. I wonder if the water company might be consulted in this case and have them check the main valve, have them close it and then completely reopen it.

The other thing that comes to mind that might have nothing to do with plumbing is, because you mentioned this is in the attic, is sometimes with attic ventilation – and I don’t know what kind of vents you have, whether you have ridge vents or soffit vents or roof vents. But sometimes, we’ve seen situations – in fact, in my own kitchen, I’ve got a kitchen that’s a one-story section of the house. And when the wind blows over from a certain direction, I get a noise. It’s not a whistling but it is a very low-pitch kind of hum, almost like a vibration-like sound into that attic. And I know it’s because of the vents. It’s the wind just sort of working their way over the vents and causing a little bit of friction there. And it’s leaving that sound behind.

BOB: OK. I do have ridge vents in it. And so I’ll pay attention to that, too.

TOM: Yeah, it could be the turbulence.

BOB: The main valve is one thing that I had not even thought about. You guys are great.

TOM: Alright, Bob. Well, you let us know if it worked and then we’ll accept the fact that we’re great, OK? But we’re glad we were able to give you some ideas. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Give us a call anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

TOM: 888-666-3974.

Up next, is the outside of your home, perhaps your doors or your windows, looking a bit faded and wondering how do you get them refinished without letting the elements in at the same time? We’ll have tips to take on that project, 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: Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your questions to us at The Money Pit’s website at, which is what Claire did.

Seems like Claire is working on a door project, Leslie.

LESLIE: Alright. Claire in Tennessee, she writes: “My front door is super faded and I’d like to refinish it. And I’m wondering how to sand and prep the door for the new finish. For example, do I take the door off its hinges? Can I hand-sand? Do I need a power sander? And how long can I expect the project to take knowing that that door needs two layers of finish and the first layer has to dry completely?”

TOM: Those are all really good questions. And I would say, Claire, that if you hired painters, they would usually refinish the door while it’s on the hinges. I personally have found it to be a lot easier to take the door off the hinges, because I generally find that it’s not difficult to do that. And by taking it off the hinges – and you’re going to need somebody to help, especially it sounds like you have a wood door, so it could be a bit heavy. You can lay it out flat on some sawhorses and then it just becomes a lot easier for you to work on it.

You can – you definitely do need to sand it. Certainly, you could do it by hand. It depends on how much material you have to take off. Or if you happen to have to have a quarter-sheet sander, a vibrating sander, that makes it a lot easier. But you want to get the old finish roughed up, at least, if not off completely. Then you can apply the first and the second layer of whatever finish you’re going to use.

You want to make sure you use an exterior urethane or exterior varnish, because it’s going to have UV protection in it and won’t break down from exposure to the sun. Yep, you’re going to need a couple of coats. It does have to dry completely. But frankly, if you tackle this project over, say, a nice weekend, you can do a coat in the morning, flip it over, do a coat in the afternoon, put the door on – back on – for the overnight shift, so to speak. And then repeat the process the next day. Just work with the weather to get it done so that you’re not stuck with that door being off the hinges when you really need to keep the water out of your house during a rainstorm or a big windstorm, for example.

LESLIE: Right, seriously. Water, bugs, all the things.

TOM: All that stuff, yeah.

LESLIE: Kind of like having a door.

Alright. Next up, I’ve got a post here from Mike in New Jersey. Now, Mike writes: “I need to hang some heavy pictures and I’m wondering how to know what my walls are made of.”

TOM: Good question, Mike. So, generally speaking, most homes are going to have drywall. If your home was built in the 40s or the 50s, you could have plaster lath, which is sort of the early version of drywall, where they put plaster on top of it. Those walls are very, very hard. They sound different if you kind of knock on them with your knuckles. They sound almost like ceramic.

And then if you have a really old house – like one that was built, say, earlier in the 40s, maybe the 30s or 20s or earlier than that – it may have wood lath, which is where you had plaster that was pressed into wood slats.

Now, depending on the kind of wall you have, if it’s something really heavy, you’re almost always better off to find the stud. And those are going to be generally either 16 or 24 inches on center. You can pick up a stud finder. That will help you find those.

My stud finder is my knuckles. If it’s a house with drywall, you can knock on it and you can see them. And here’s a little trick. If you take a flashlight – like a pretty strong flashlight – and hold it at an angle to the wall, like flat with the wall, you’ll actually see where the nails are in the wall, attached to those studs. And it can tell you exactly where it is. So if you try to get the fasteners into that, you’ll be good to go.

If it has to be in the middle of the drywall, between the studs, you have to use the right fastener. You know, we like this little fastener called the Monkey Hook, which is a wire that slides up behind the back of the drywall. It’s really easy to put in and it holds 50 pounds. So just choose a fastener that’s going to work for the material you’re working with.

LESLIE: Alright. Well, good luck with that and I hope all the decorating goes really, really well.

TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve inspired your fall projects with some tips and ideas to help you get that job done.

If you’ve got questions, remember, you can reach us, 24/7, always at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at

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 2019 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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