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

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I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I am Leslie Segrete.

TOM: On a beautiful fall weekend, it’s a great time to get outside and do projects outside your house, inside your house, from the basement to the attic. You want to cut those energy bills? Maybe you’re looking to beautify the insides of your kitchens, your bathrooms, your bedrooms. Whatever project is on your to-do list, swing it right over to us by picking up the phone and calling us with your home improvement, décor and remodeling questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Hey, coming up on today’s show, are you looking for some fast, free ways to save on energy around your home this winter? We’re going to share 10 ways you can do just that.

LESLIE: And it might be getting chilly but that doesn’t mean outdoor living has to end. With the right patio heater, you could hang out in your yard or on your deck well into the fall. We’re going to share some tips on how to pick the perfect patio heater for your house.

TOM: And fall is also the perfect season to beef up the insulation in your attic. But do you know how much insulation you really need, what the best way is to install it, and how the heck will you even get all those huge rolls of insulation back to your house? We’ll have that answer, in just a bit.

But first, want to hear what you are working on. What are your home projects? Give us a call for tips or the answer to a décor, remodeling, home fix-up, home improvement project. Whatever it is you guys are working on, we are here to lend a hand. So give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Katherine, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?

KATHERINE: I have lighting in the basement and it is something we started initially and we changed our mind. And so there are outlets or holes that are intended for light fixtures and then also a ceiling fan. And we’re changing how we’re going to do things down there. Is there some way that we can patch it up and start all over? Or do we need to have an electrician in and resurface everything and do everything all over again?

TOM: OK. So, your main concern is that you have the holes that you’re not using anymore, so you want to know if you can patch those?

KATHERINE: Yes.

TOM: Yeah. Sure you can.

KATHERINE: Yes. And then the wires are already there.

TOM: Oh, the wires are there? Well, if the wires are there, if they’re live, if they’re connected on the other end, if they’re energized to a panel, then they have to be disconnected for sure.

KATHERINE: OK.

TOM: You could just put wire nuts on the end of it and cover the box. And there’s different types of ceiling plates that could cover that. But frankly, if you’re never going to use that wiring, I wouldn’t have extra energized wiring through the ceiling. I would just disconnect it at the panel or wherever it was given power.

If it’s a matter of there’s no wiring behind it or you’ve totally disconnected it and now you’ve got these big, old holes, you can do it one of two ways.

KATHERINE: Yes.

TOM: You can either put a decorative plate – let’s say it’s a round fixture, a round electrical box. There are electrical plates that are designed to fit over ceilings, that can cover that. You can paint it white; it’s not that noticeable.

Or if you wanted to completely repair the ceiling as if it never happened at all, then what I would do is I would probably – if I was repairing that, I would square off the hole first so – because it’s a lot easier to patch a square hole than it is a round hole. And then what you do is you take another piece of drywall and you basically measure out a piece that’s – well, let’s say it’s about 2 inches wider on all sides. So if it was 4×4 of the hole, I would look – cut a piece that was 8×8 or so.

KATHERINE: OK.

TOM: Because what you’re going to do – and this is a little tricky. You’re going to turn that piece of drywall upside down and you’re going to sort of score where that 4-inch piece would be in the middle. Then you’re going to peel off all of the plaster that’s on the drywall, except for the paper on the outside edge. Because that’s going to actually act as the drywall tape. And then if you put spackle and you put that little piece back up there – and you may have to tack it in place with a screw or something while it’s holding, while it’s drying – you can spackle that and it will magically disappear.

But when it’s time to paint, make sure you prime it and then always use a flat paint. Because otherwise, all the spackle you put up there, even if you do a good job, is going to be really obvious. OK?

KATHERINE: OK. Excellent. Thank you so much.

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

LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’re going to talk foundations with Randy in Idaho. How can we help you today?

RANDY: Well, I’m – I’ve got a crack in my foundation and I’m wondering if what I want to do is a good idea.

TOM: Alright. What’s your plan?

RANDY: Well, first of all, it’s a crack that’s about an inch, inch-and-a-half wide. It’s right on the corner about, oh, 4 or 5 inches up from the bottom of the – from the floor of the basement.

TOM: OK.

RANDY: And it’s buried; there’s several feet of dirt above it. And a crack appeared on the floor in the basement and then just dropped down about an inch-and-a-half. And the soil from outside was coming in from the outside and moisture and whatnot.

TOM: This crack is in the basement floor or the basement walls?

RANDY: The wall, in the corner.

TOM: OK. And you said that the crack is an inch-and-a-half wide or it’s an inch-and-a-half long?

RANDY: About an inch to an inch-and-a-half wide.

TOM: Wow, that’s a big crack.

RANDY: And about eight – yeah, about – well, the floor just dropped a little bit.

TOM: Man.

RANDY: And it’s about 8 inches on either side of the corner.

TOM: OK. So, the crack formed and the floor dropped. Is that correct? Both of those things happened?

RANDY: Correct.

TOM: Alright. So, obviously, something got very disturbed under there. I don’t know if it was settlement or whatever it was but it sounds like you lost some soil in there. As a result, you lost the support.

A crack that’s an inch-and-a-half wide is a very large crack. And typically, it’s something that we would recommend you have a professional inspect before you just repair it on your own. But with that as our general advice, what is your plan?

RANDY: Well, I thought that what I’d do is I’d put some BLACK JACK in the very back of it. I dug out as much soil as I could and cleaned it with a toothbrush or a wire brush.

TOM: Right. Well, that’s all – you’re talking about patching the crack; I’m talking about supporting it so it doesn’t get any worse. You can fill it five different ways. What I’m concerned about is making sure that this instability isn’t going to continue and get worse and affect the structural integrity of the wall. If you’ve got a crack that truly opened up an inch-and-a-half, that is a very big crack. I mean most of the time, people talk to us about hairline cracks or cracks that open a ¼-inch and are very concerned. If you’ve got a crack that’s opened up an inch-and-a-half, that’s a huge crack.

So here’s what I would do. I would have – I would consult with a structural engineer. Have them inspect your house, look at the foundation, look at the crack and then write you a report that gives you step-by-step instructions on what should be done to address this. Either you do the repair yourself or you have an engineer – a contractor – do it; it doesn’t matter to me.

But what’s most important is that you have the structural engineer come back after the repair is done and certify that it was done sufficiently. And the reason you’re going to do that is because eventually, you’re going to want to sell this house. And if you have this repair done under the supervision of an engineer like that, it’s sort of like a pedigree that says all is well. And it will alleviate any fears from a potential home buyer.

RANDY: I see. I see. That’s kind of like a cover-yourself kind of thing.

TOM: Absolutely. Yep. And you’re going to do it right and most importantly, since you had the crack form and the floor drop, I’m concerned about what’s going on underneath this. That’s a very unusual set of circumstances and it leads me to conclude that there’s some instability underneath that corner of the foundation.

RANDY: Alright. Well, I think I’ll just start nosing around for one.

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

LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with your how-to, your décor, your remodeling questions, whatever it is you are working on, right now, to 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: And just ahead, are you looking for fast, free ways to save on energy around your home this winter? We’re going to share 10 ways you can do just that, in today’s Energy-Saving Tip presented by Sense Smart-Home Energy Monitors. Check them out at GetSense.com. That’s all coming up, after this.

Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.

TOM: We want to know what you want to know. So give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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

WENDY: I bought a large commercial building in a historic downtown of Atlantic, Iowa.

TOM: Oh, it sounds nice.

WENDY: And it had a roof leak and we have repaired that; we’ve put a new roof on. But there was a lot of damage to the second-story ceiling, which was lath and plaster.

TOM: OK.

WENDY: And we want to put a loft – a residential loft – up on the upstairs. We have about 1,500 square foot of lath and plaster that needs to come down. So my question is: is there something that’s available as an aid to funnel all of that dirt and lath and plaster down off of the ceiling and out to a dumpster?

TOM: Yeah. Let me give you some suggestions, having been through this very repair in my home which was all lath and plaster. I went about remodeling rooms in different stages. The first time, I decided I would take all the lath and plaster out and drywalled right on top of the original studs. And after going through that mess, I decided it wasn’t as important as I’d once thought to take the lath and plaster out.

And the next time I did it, I simply put a second layer of drywall over the old lath and plaster and screwed through that drywall up into the ceiling joists and the wall studs to support it. And that was a much neater, much easier way to get a nice, clean, new ceiling without all of the mess and the dust and the dirt and the debris.

So, is the lath and plaster somewhat intact or is it all loose and falling off? What’s the status of it right now?

WENDY: In some places, where there was a water leak, the plaster wants to fall off. And then in some places, it’s not so bad.

TOM: Well, if you were to put 4×8 sheets of drywall over that and screw the drywall in, it’ll probably support any loose lath or plaster that’s there. And again, you won’t have this big mess of having to tear it all down, which is an awfully big project. Because it’s very heavy, you’ll be shoveling it off the floor, putting it in trash cans, carrying those cans down. And you can’t even fill up the cans because it’s too heavy to lift them.

So it’s a big, stinking mess and if you could apply some drywall to the ceiling as it is now and attach through that drywall into the ceiling joists, it should support the old lath and plaster and give you a nice, clean surface to start with.

WENDY: OK. Well, thank you very much.

TOM: Well, you’re very welcome, Wendy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to save energy this winter but you don’t have a budget for improvements, there are lots of ways to reduce those costs without spending even a dime.

TOM: That’s right. We’ve got 10 no-cost tips to get you started, in today’s Energy-Saving Tip presented by Sense Smart-Home Energy Monitors, available at GetSense.com.

Now, first, how about this idea? Lock your windows. Now, what the heck does that have to do with saving energy? Well, if you just close them, they can be leaky and let air in. But if you lock them, you will create an airtight seal. If you’ve ever rotated the lock on a double-hung window, you know that when you rotate it, it actually pushes the window down to the sill and really creates a very tight seal. So by locking those windows, you will actually seal out some drafts.

Now, just like windows, you want to close the doors and the heating vents in rooms that don’t get a lot of use, like walk-in closets, laundry rooms, guest bedrooms. That’s going to reduce the heat use in those areas.

LESLIE: Now, you also want to remember to turn off the lights when you leave a room. I mean that’s an easy one but so many people just walk out.

Children, I’m talking to you.

So many people just walk out and leave every single light on. So make sure you turn them off when you’re leaving the room.

Also think about getting free solar heat during the day by opening up the blinds and shades on all of the windows, especially on those south-facing ones that get a lot of sun during the daytime.

And remember, when you’re doing your laundry, try to use cold water. That uses far less energy. So use that cold-water setting when you can.

And try wearing a sweater around the house. You can lower the thermostat, throw on a sweater. Because get this: for every degree that you lower that thermostat, you might be able to save five percent on your heating costs.

TOM: Now, here’s Tip Number Seven: run only full loads in your dishwasher.

You also want to remember to remove lint often from your clothes dryer and its outside vent. And run your dryer in the evening when extra heat helps to warm your house.

Number Nine: plug power-draining computers and electronic equipment into a power strip with a switch so they could easily be turned off when not in use.

LESLIE: Alright. And finally, Number 10, you guys: snuggle up under more blankets at night. Keep that thermostat down in the nighttime and then have it come on up in the morning when everybody’s getting up to take a shower. Doing that is going to save a ton of energy.

You know, guys, small things like this really do add up to big energy savings at home. You’ll be surprised to find that your energy bill can drop maybe 20, 30, even more dollars a month when you consistently make an effort.

TOM: And that’s today’s Energy-Saving Tip presented by Sense Smart-Home Energy Monitor. Learn more at GetSense.com.

I love my Sense Smart-Home Energy Monitor. I have found it, Leslie, to be the single best way to save energy at my home, because it tells me what’s on, what’s off and I can always understand how those dollars are being spent.

Check out the video at GetSense.com. You’ll be really impressed with this product. GetSense.com.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Sylvester on the line from Louisiana who’s dealing with some hurricane damage, possibly, with a leaky attic. Tell us what’s going on.

SYLVESTER: My top of the roof is about – at a vertex, is probably 46, 49 feet. Well, there’s a – where the attic breathes, sometimes there’s squares, some rectangular, some round where it has the …

TOM: Yeah, the vents. Uh-huh. The attic vents.

SYLVESTER: I’m getting blowing rainwater that’s coming in there, running down the wall, coming in to a bedroom window below on the second.

TOM: Mm-hmm. Oh, boy. OK.

SYLVESTER: How is that – and it has happened before. But it’s only when it’s a strong, blowing wind blowing the rain …

TOM: Is it always in the same spot?

SYLVESTER: Yes.

TOM: So it’s probably not all of the vents. It’s just one or two of the vents?

SYLVESTER: I would think so. I don’t know. I haven’t actually gone into the attic yet to see which – where most of it’s coming from.

TOM: So I would do that as my next step, because I would go up in the attic and I would look for the leaks.

Now, it might be that maybe it’s not blowing in the vents; it might be blowing around the vents. The vents could be leaking. Because every one of those vents has to be cut through the roof, so this may not really be what you think it is. But I would get up in the attic with a high-powered flashlight and take a look in the area of the problem. Remember that water will run downhill, so it might start up high, run down a rafter and then drip off down below into – and show up in your bedroom or wherever.

But I would take a careful look to try to find those leak stains. That would tell me exactly where it’s leaking. And if I can identify the vent that’s leaking, I would just simply reseal it or replace it.

SYLVESTER: Thank you much.

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

LESLIE: Now we’re going to Louisiana with Lois who’s dealing with a grout issue in the bath. Tell us what’s going on.

LOIS: After talking to the people that sold me the grout, on the second complaint they finally acknowledged that there was something wrong with the grout, so now I’ve got it turning white. And it’s a mocha-brown kind of color in the bottom of my shower and I guess the only way to resolve it is to clean it out but how do I do that?

TOM: So how do you remove grout that’s already installed? Is that correct? So this is grout that’s in the wall?

LOIS: Floor of the shower.

TOM: Oh, the floor of the shower. And so the grout’s the wrong color. And it’s a darker color than you want?

LOIS: No, it’s changed color because they didn’t – they sold me – there was a problem, apparently, from the factory with the grout.

TOM: OK.

LOIS: And of course, I didn’t find out about it until after the fact. Now it’s turning white.

TOM: Right. Alright. So listen. What you might want to think about doing – only because if this doesn’t work, you have to take the grout out anyway – is you might want to think about applying a grout dye. Grout dye is available; it’s kind of like a stain for grout and it changes the color of the grout. It goes from – it can make grout that’s lighter go darker. It doesn’t work the other way around, of course. So I would give that a try first because, really, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Now, if that doesn’t work, you’ve got to take the grout out.

LOIS: Right.

TOM: To take the grout out, there are a number of tools on the market that can help you do that, that come into the category of grout saws. There is a type of saw that fits into the end of a reciprocating saw that enables you to cut through grout. There is a grout saw that works in a Dremel that enables you to take grout out. But you have to grind the old grout out and then regrout the tiles. It’s a big job; don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy but it can be done. That’s why I suggest you try a grout dye first.

You can take a look online at The Home Depot. They sell a product that’s called Grout Renew and it’s made by Polyblend which is, I believe, one of the grout manufacturers. And so they have a product – they have several different colors and they’re designed to stain and seal the grout in one application. So like I said, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying this out.

There’s also a website that just sells grout dye, called GroutDye.com.

LOIS: Alright, sir. Thank you.

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.

And hey, guys, here’s an easy solution for beating the cold-weather blues. I’m talking about patio heaters. They let you use your outdoor space all year long. We’re going to tell you what you need to know before you buy one, in just a bit.

TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home improvement project, before you hire that pro, and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

TOM: The number is 1-888-666-3974.

LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re welcoming Tim from Illinois to The Money Pit with a water-heating question. What’s going on?

TIM: Oh, I have a nine-year-old water tank and I’m trying to get the rod that collects all the minerals out. And it didn’t want to come, so I was afraid to have busted some pipes. So I was curious, should I just – should leave it alone? And with it being nine years old, it’s almost at the end of its life as far as the water tank. Because I understand that water tanks are usually from 8 to 12 years for a replacement?

TOM: Yeah. So you’re – you’ve been trying to replace the anode and having a hard time getting it out, correct?

TIM: Yeah. I think it’s rusted in or I …

TOM: Sometimes, you have to put – get a little leverage on the wrench to do that. And once you get the wrench on the anode, sometimes you have to kind of extend that wrench handle to really get that out. It’s a bit of a tricky job. But considering the age of the tank, I probably wouldn’t spend much money on it because I think you’re right: 10, 12 years is a pretty average life expectancy for a standard water heater.

And when it comes time to replace the water heater, you might even decide to upgrade it and go with a tankless water heater, which is going to last you a lot longer and be far more efficient.

TIM: And that might be a good choice for me, because I’m single and no one else lives in the household and I’m gone most of the time.

TOM: Yeah, well, that’s the difference between a tankless water heater and a standard water heater: the water heater is kind of dumb. It just – it heats the water, 24/7, whether you need it or not. And when the water cools down, it comes back on and heats it some more.

A tankless water heater is going to heat on demand. And so, because that’s going to be a lot more efficient for a single guy – but even a big family with teenage daughters, for example, that don’t know the meaning of a short shower, they never run out of hot water when they have tankless. Could just – works very well in both extremes.

TIM: So how much is something like – cost for installation and so forth?

TOM: Well, if you compare it against a high-efficiency, tanked water heater, it’s similar. But if you compare it against a standard, sort of low-efficiency, it’s probably going to be about twice as much. But it will last longer, too, and you’re going to save money on the energy bills, too.

TIM: I thank you for your time.

LESLIE: Well, as the weather cools down and summer turns to fall, you might be wishing that there was a way you could keep enjoying your deck or patio even with that little nip in the air.

TOM: Well, with the right patio heater, you can keep dining and entertaining in your beautiful outdoor spaces well into autumn. Here’s what you need to consider when picking the best one for your backyard.

LESLIE: First of all, you’ve got to choose what type of fuel you want to use. Now, patio heaters are designed to work with one of three different fuel types. And we’re talking about propane, natural gas or electricity.

Now, the natural gas, that’s used for permanent or stationary heaters. Propane, that’s conveniently available in tanks and it allows that heater to be moved around. And infrared heaters are often powered by electricity, though some are run by natural gas.

TOM: Next, you want to decide if you want to go with a portable heater or one that’s built-in.

Now, portable patio heaters can be either freestanding or tabletop models. And they could be super convenient because you can move them from one location to another. But depending on their size, you’re either going to need to refill or replace that propane tank when it runs out.

On the other hand, permanently-installed stationary heaters definitely have some advantages, because they do hook up to your natural gas line. So you’re not going to be schlepping out to the home center or gas station or wherever you go to get those propane tanks refilled.

So, if you plan on moving a heater to different locations, you want to go with portable. But if you want a heater just in one location, consider investing in a permanent one. It’s a lot easier in the long run.

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And another consideration, guys, is the size of that heater in BTUs.

Now, the heating power of a patio heater is going to be rated in BTUs. That’s British Thermal Units. And as an example, a 45,000-BTU heater is going to produce a 20-foot heat diameter. Of course, the higher the BTUs, the more gas it’s going to use. So you want to pick one that covers the space you want to heat but no more because, otherwise, you’re just going to be wasting that fuel source.

TOM: That’s right.

And finally, remember to be safe. No matter what you choose, remember that gas heaters must always be used outside, as in under the big, beautiful sky. You cannot use them under any type of overhang, roof, screened-in porch, open garage door, I don’t care. You cannot use them inside any space like that. You’ve got to use them outside – under the big, beautiful sky – for them to operate properly and operate safely. And remember, check out the manufacturer’s instructions, take it seriously and you will enjoy a warmed outdoor-living space well into the end of fall.

This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. If you’ve got a question about, perhaps, a fall fix-up for your home, we’d love to answer it. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Jeanette in Colorado is on the line and needs some help with a radiant-heating question. What can we do for you?

JEANETTE: I would like to know if it would be good to do the radiant floor ourselves or to have someone else do it. Is it going to increase my electric bill quite a bit? And if it is something I could do, what materials would be best to do?

TOM: Wow. Lots of questions.

LESLIE: Yeah. We only said one question, lady.

TOM: Alright. So, the bathroom is the only room in the house that you want to have a warm floor?

JEANETTE: Well, for starters. We would like to do it in the kitchen, also. But we thought we’d start with the small project as the bathroom.

TOM: And what kind of a house do you have? Is it a ranch? Colonial? What are we talking about?

JEANETTE: No, it’s more of a ranch. It has a – the bottom is not sitting completely on the ground because it’s lots of rocks and stuff in the mountains there. So it does have crawlspaces underneath.

TOM: It does.

JEANETTE: Yes, it does have crawlspaces where you – we have sump pumps in there to help anything that might cause that. So you can crawl under the house but it’s not very much room.

TOM: OK. And how is it heated? Is it hot water or a hot-air system?

JEANETTE: Hot air but we mostly use pellet stoves.

TOM: So, it sounds to me like you’re going to be limited to an electric radiant-heating system. There are different types of heating underlayments, so to speak, that you would put on a bathroom floor and you would tile on top of.

Now, is it expensive? Yes. It’s electric heat. It’s expensive to purchase and install, it’s expensive to run. It’s not a way to save money on your heating bill. There’s nothing cost-effective about electric heat. It’s very pleasant and nice to have that warm floor but it is an expensive project and it’s expensive to run. That said, if you put it on its own timer so it’s only on, say, in the morning or in the evenings for a limited period of time, you could manage that expense.

Is it a do-it-yourself project? Yes, if you’re pretty experienced. Because the tile mats usually have to be ordered custom-made. And you have to make sure that they’re installed properly because if you get that floor down and it doesn’t work, you’ve got a big problem. You’d end up having to tear it up.

Frankly, my advice would be to not do it yourself, because I would rather have a contractor do it that’s worked with it time and time again. I’d hate to see the whole thing get together and you’ve got a problem with it and you’ve got to tear it all up and start again. So, the amount of additional expense for labor, I think, would have sort of an insurance quality to it to make sure it comes out right.

JEANETTE: Well, thank you all for your advice and I appreciate it.

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

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

TOM: 888-666-3974.

Well, now that it’s fall, it’s the perfect season to beef up the insulation in your attic. But how do you know how much insulation you really need, what’s the best way to install it and how exactly are you going to get all of those big rolls back to your house?

LESLIE: We’re going to have that answer, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz, next.

TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: What are you working on? We’d love to help you get those jobs done around your house. Give us a call with your home improvement, décor and remodeling questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, did you know that if you want to cut heating costs this winter, the single most effective way to do that is just by adding insulation? Now, most homes simply just don’t have enough and many more have insulation that’s settled and then it becomes really ineffective.

TOM: Well, the good news is that this could be a very easy DIY project to take on. We’ve got tips to help you get the job done, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz.

Now, if you want to step up your insulation, the first thing to do is to figure out how much insulation you have now. The Department of Energy recommends homes have between 10 and 20 inches of fiberglass insulation. So, head up to the attic with a ruler and measure the depth of the insulation that’s there now. If you’ve got less than 10 to 20 inches, there is an easy opportunity for you to add more and cut those costly heating bills in the process.

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know, to improve your home’s energy efficiency and comfort, you’re going to need to add a second layer of insulation on top of that old insulation. And then run it perpendicular to the original fiberglass batts. It’s really an easy job but you just have to be careful where you step.

Now, as long as you’re working on top of those ceiling joists, you’re going to be fine. Just really try not to. And don’t ever step between them or you could potentially create a new skylight to the room below that you weren’t planning on having.

TOM: That’s right. Safety is key. So, for this job, you’re also going to want to wear a long-sleeve shirt, work gloves and use a dust mask to avoid breathing any of that dust that gets stirred up.

Now, because you’re adding a second layer, you’re going to want to head to the home center or lumberyard to buy insulation that’s labeled as unfaced, which means there’s no paper backing. Now, insulation is sold in large rolls or packages and you may need a lot of them to cover your entire attic.

For example, 1 bundle of 10-inch-thick unfaced fiberglass batts will only cover about 47 square feet. So, for an 800-square-foot attic, you’d need 17 rolls. So you’d better be thinking about how you’re going to get that insulation home.

Hertz does trucks and vans and has a great selection that can help you get those materials home quickly and easily.

LESLIE: Lastly, here’s one more tip: if your attic has a floor and not much insulation underneath of it, you can still add more insulation on top without ripping up that flooring. You just have to lay the batts side by side on top of that old floor and it’s going to have the very same insulation effect.

And if you do need your attic floor for storage, what we’d suggest is designating a section of that floor for storage and then add the new second layer everywhere else. Just remember, you can’t store things on top of the insulation, because crushed insulation is not going to do very much insulating at all. It has to be fluffy if it’s going to work.

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

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

CYNTHIA: I have white dust on my shoes – my leather shoes – and my purses inside my closet. And my shoes can be inside of a shoebox and I don’t understand what it is.

TOM: Do you have a heating duct inside that closet?

CYNTHIA: No. But right outside the closet, I do.

TOM: Well, generally, if you get a lot of dust in the air, then you don’t have good filtration in your heating system. And so, if you have a forced-air system, you ought to have a good-quality filter on the return duct. And unfortunately, a lot of folks use those fiberglass filters, which don’t filter very much. I always call them “rock-stoppers” because everything else goes right through.

But if you improve the quality of the filtration on your heating system, that will go a long way to cleaning the air in your home and reducing the amount of dust that’s laying not only on your shoes, in this case, but on your tables and chairs and everything else in the house.

CYNTHIA: OK, great. Thank you. Have a great day.

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

LESLIE: Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.

Just ahead, guys, from fixing nail pops in walls to stopping circuit breakers popping in panels, we’re going to have some solutions, when The Money Pit continues.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. You can give us a call or you can post your question online at MoneyPit.com. And that’s what Jim from Ohio recently did.

LESLIE: That’s right. Jim writes: “I recently had a new roof installed and now I’m noticing nail pops are showing on the ceiling. Can I drive the nails back through and patch the paint over?”

TOM: Well, the answer is both yes and no. And Jim, that happened to me, as well, when I did a new roof. And the reason is is because the roofers, when they’re on top of your roof and they’re banging and they’re stripping off all those old shingles, that actually kind of causes quite a bit of movement to the roof rafters and the structure below it. And that can loosen up those nails and cause some of those nail pops that you’re seeing.

But to your question about – “Can I drive them back in?” No. You can’t just drive them back in, because now they’re kind of loose in that space and they’ll pop right back out again. So there’s two ways to fix this once and for all.

You could drive a second nail and make sure it overlaps the head of the loose nail and then spackle that. Or you could remove the loose nail and you could use a drywall screw in that hole. And then screw it in to where it just starts to compress the drywall and sits right below the surface. Either way, you’ll be left with a nice, recessed area that you can patch. Remember to put a little primer on there, too, before you paint it and you’ll never have to worry about those nail pops again.

LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from John in Bedford, New York.

Now, John writes: “My house recently lost power and when the power was restored, I found that one of the circuit breakers had tripped. I reset the breaker; it tripped again. The breaker controls the living room, which has eight outlets. I unplugged everything and tried to reset the breaker but it still pops. Do you have any suggestions as to what to look for next?”

TOM: The first thing that comes to mind, John, is that you need to respect the breaker. It is doing its job by not allowing you to energize that circuit, because something is horribly wrong in that circuit. There is some sort of a short, a disconnect in that circuit. And when it energizes, it is not behaving normally, so it’s potentially dangerous.

You know, since it’s only this one circuit, an electrician should be able to track this down. It could be a whole bunch of things. I mean it could be a burned wire. It could be something that’s improperly wired. It could be that maybe one of the reasons you lost power is because you had a lightning strike and that has somehow affected the connections in those wires.

It’s kind of hard to say exactly why it’s happening but I do know that this is not something you should be tackling yourself as a basic do-it-yourselfer. You definitely should be contacting an electrician to do the work, because it’s the kind of thing that has to be done just right. And it’s absolutely not something that you should be doing as sort of an amateur electrician.

Removing and replacing an outlet or a light switch when you know to turn the power off, that’s great. But tracking down why you’ve got this situation in the circuit breaker is an entirely different mission.

And I’m always surprised sometimes when I discover electrical defects. And just a few weeks ago, I was at my son’s house – he was renting it and he goes to college – and it had a newer panel. So, because I spent 20 years as a home inspector, I did what most parents do: I opened up the panel, right? But I didn’t just open it; I took it apart and looked inside of it, Leslie. And guess what I found? I found a burned wire in the brand-new electrical panel, because the wire was loose.

LESLIE: Thank goodness that you’re there to check these things out. And so much – homeowners, renters, people aren’t checking for those things.

TOM: Right.

LESLIE: And it’s such a danger.

TOM: So definitely get a pro to take care of that, John. You could find a pro at HomeAdvisor.com.

LESLIE: Alright, John. Good luck with that.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on a beautiful fall weekend. We hope you’re enjoying what’s our favorite season of the year, because you can work inside, outside, all around the house, get plenty of projects done. It’s kind of why we call it the “Goldilocks season,” right? It’s not too hot.

LESLIE: Oh, my God, it’s the best.

TOM: It’s not too cold.

So, whatever is on your to-do list, remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can always post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

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.

END HOUR 1 TEXT

(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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