Affordable Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Flooring

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 for you. We’re here to help you with your home improvement projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Now, this is Labor Day weekend right now. And we will actually give you the weekend off, just because it’s Labor Day weekend. We don’t want you to do any labor. But we could help you plan for some projects for next weekend or the weekend after that.

I mean it’s going to get chilly pretty soon. You know, we’re coming to the very end of summer. And if you’ve got a project you’d like to tackle this fall, that will set you up for the chillier months ahead, that’d be a great topic. But whatever is on your to-do list, slide it over to ours by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question online to The Money Pit’s Community page at

Coming up on today’s program, if you love the look of solid-hardwood floors but you don’t have the money for it, well, no worries. Engineered hardwood or engineered bamboo can be the perfect solution. We’ll sort that out for you, just ahead.

LESLIE: And vacation homes make a great getaway but they’re also likely to remain empty for a majority of the year. We’re going to have some tips on how to shut down your vacation home so it stays in great shape for the next time you need a little break.

TOM: And as summer turns to fall, it’s a great time to get your heating system serviced. Now, it doesn’t matter if you heat by gas, oil, propane or even electric, an annual service by a pro is really important to make sure the system remains safe. We’ll have tips on what that service should include, in today’s Pro Project, just ahead.

LESLIE: Plus, the fall season is almost upon us and it’s called “fall” for a good reason. We’ve got a great product to give away that can make leaf cleanup simple and fast.

TOM: And fun. It’s the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower with battery and battery charger. It’s lightweight; it weighs less than 8 pounds. You hook it up, you sling it over your back and you get right to work cleaning up all those leaves in a jiffy.

It’s worth almost 250 bucks but we’ve got one to give away to one caller. Is that going to be you? Are you the listener that’s going to win the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower? Well, you’ve got to be in it to win it. Pick up the phone and call us with your best home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. Or post it to the Community page at That’s going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Chris in Colorado is on the line dealing with some bathroom mold. Tell us about it.

CHRIS: Well, I have tenants living in a rental of mine and as it turns out, I think there were several people using the shower downstairs. And subsequently, we’ve got a lot of mold on the walls. They’re taking off here at the end of July and I want to go in there and completely take all that mold out of there and paint it or put something in place to try and help prevent that from happening again. What can I do?

LESLIE: OK. Now, where are you seeing this mold? Is it strictly on the caulk? Is it on the ceiling?

CHRIS: It’s on the ceiling, on the walls. Just right around the shower.

LESLIE: And what is your bathroom venting situation? Do you have a vent fan? Is it just a window?

CHRIS: There’s no window. There is a vent. However, I think the vent fan could probably be replaced. I’m not – I think the last time I checked it, it was working but it was somewhat weak.

LESLIE: Now, that’s – the big cause of your problem there is the venting situation.

So first off, let’s get rid of the mold. You’re going to want to clean your ceiling with a bleach-and-water solution. Be very careful, obviously, because you’re working overhead. But you want to just do that to kill the mold spores and get rid of what’s already up there.

Once that’s done and it’s dry, then I say prime the ceiling, the walls with a really good-quality primer like a KILZ or one of those B-I-N Zinsser primers. Prime everything and then go ahead and paint everything.

And replace that vent fan. You want to get something that’s really powerful, that’s properly vented to the exterior. And you might want to, because it’s a tenant situation and it’s not somebody that you can sort of be on top of to make sure they’re putting it on and there’s no window, you may want to have it installed with an occupancy sensor. So that when someone walks into the bathroom, it triggers that vent fan to come on. It’ll run while they’re in there and then after they leave, it’s set to stay on for 10, 15 minutes.

This way, when they’ve showered and have opened the door, that’s when you get that high points of condensation, because you’ve got that moist air from the shower and it’s warm and then you get the cool air from opening the door. And then suddenly, you get condensation on every surface. So that could be the best plan of attack, especially since these are people that you’re renting to.

CHRIS: Terrific. Well, thank you so much for your help.

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

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Janet in Georgia on the line who wants help with a decking project. What’s going on at your money pit?

JANET: I just had a deck built last month and already, some of the boards are kind of shrinking because it’s been raining on and off a little bit.

TOM: Right.


JANET: And I was wondering when it would be the best time to stain the wood. Is it that I’m staining it against the water or I’m just staining it in general?

LESLIE: OK. Do you know what material your deck was made out of?

JANET: We bought the wood at Home Depot. It was supposed to be a pretreated wood?

LESLIE: So just a pressure-treated lumber.

JANET: Pressure-treated. That’s correct.

LESLIE: OK. So, really, what I always do with a pressure-treated lumber, just because of the fact that they inject a different type of chemical into the wood itself to make it weather-resistant – so it can be a little wet. And since you’re dealing with a high-moisture situation in your weather anyway, you might just want to give it the summer season to sort of dry out as best it can. And then in the autumn – when you’re dealing with some drier, low-humidity weather – it could be a great time to put a finish on it.

Now, you do want to let it dry out. So if you’re dealing with some wet weather as you’re getting into a weekend that you want to work on the project, wait until you’ve had a good few days of dryness and you know it’s going to be dry the day you’re working, so that that wood does get a chance to dry out. And then, depending on how it looks and the look that you want, I definitely wouldn’t paint it, because paint is just going to sit right on top of that lumber and then just peel off throughout the winter season and you’ll have to do something again in the spring.

JANET: Right. I really didn’t want painting, because I just like the look of the wood. And I know that there’s something that I have to do every so often. They tell me every year I’d have to stain it or something.

LESLIE: It really depends on what manufacturer’s stain that you buy. And keep in mind there’s solid-color stains and there’s semi-transparent stains. So if you want to see the grain in the wood, you’ll want to go with something more semi-transparent so that you’ll actually get some color or just some natural tone. And you’ll be able to see that grain through it.

And you want to apply it just in the way that the manufacturer says. And you’re probably going to get about three years on horizontal surfaces, maybe five on vertical before you’ve got to tackle it again. Depends on how dry that lumber is on that decking when you do, you know, put the stain on.

JANET: OK. That sounds good.

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 Radio Show on air and online. Give us a call, let us know what you are working on. The fall season is the perfect time of year to plan a ton of home improvement projects. You’ve got great weather, it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. Great for inside work, outside work. Believe me, we can help you find a project and we can help you do it right.

Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the best home service pros in your area. You can read reviews, compare prices and book appointments all online.

TOM: Just ahead, if you love the look of solid-hardwood floors but don’t have the budget to manage it, engineered hardwood or engineered bamboo can be a perfect solution. We’ll have details, just ahead, in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators, after this.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: And we are standing by for your calls and your questions about whatever project you’ve got to get done in your home. Call us, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line. That’s 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

LESLIE: 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.

Well, Labor Day weekend is here, which means fall is not far behind. So we’ve got a real labor-saver to give away, this hour, to one listener who calls in their question to us at 888-MONEY-PIT or posts it online to the Community section of We’ve got the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower with battery and battery charger.

This is a tool that makes leaf cleanup fun, right?

LESLIE: It really is. Anytime I see a backpack blower, I always think of a jetpack.

But this one truly packs the power, you guys. It’s a 60-volt backpack blower with battery and backup charger. It’s super powerful. I mean it delivers wind speeds up to 140 miles an hour. So, no, you’re not going to fly off the ground but it will make those leaves move.

It’s super lightweight, weighing less than 8 pounds when it’s fully operational. That’s 17 pounds lighter than a comparable, gas-powered backpack blower. It’s hassle-free operation. No gas, no oil, nothing to mix or pour. You just pop in the battery and push one button to start.

You can check it out at It’s a prize worth 249 bucks but it could be yours for free.

TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-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.


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. 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.

Well, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly floor option but don’t have the budget for a solid-hardwood floor, engineered hardwood or engineered bamboo are excellent options. We’ve got the details, in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators.

LESLIE: That’s right. You know, engineered floors are made with a real hardwood or bamboo top layer, which is then attached to a structured wood core. Now, once it’s installed, engineered-hardwood floors look just like solid hardwood. But because there’s less hardwood needed, engineered-hardwood floors cost a lot less.

TOM: That’s right. Now, another big benefit for engineered hardwood is that the core structure makes the floor dimensionally stable. Now, that makes it a great option for every level of the home. It’s a lot less likely to be impacted by humidity and temperature changes, so you can use it in a wide variety of climates, including below-grade spaces where dampness would ruin solid-hardwood floors.

LESLIE: Now, there’s a lot of options when it comes to the installation.

Now, engineered hardwood is available as tongue-and-groove flooring that can be nailed down, glued down or even edge-glued together to form a floating floor. If you’re looking for an even easier installation, it also comes as a quick-click floor meaning that the boards just lock together with no adhesive or clamping required, which really is perfect for a DIY floating application.

TOM: Now, here’s a tip: before you install engineered flooring, it’s a good idea to let the floor acclimate to the room that it’s planned for. So pick the flooring a few days in advance, leave it in the house so it can kind of get used to the temperature. And if you’re doing the install yourself, just be sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The whole process is really pretty easy and you will be amazed with the results.

LESLIE: Today’s Flooring Tip has been presented by Lumber Liquidators. With over 90 varieties of engineered hardwood and bamboo in a wide array of textures and colors, Lumber Liquidators is sure to have the perfect engineered-flooring choice for any level of your home.

TOM: Visit Lumber Liquidators stores nationwide today or online at

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Peg from Rhode Island on the line with a question about a fiberglass shower insert. Let me guess, the tiles are pink or green or something really dated.

PEG: Definitely. Green. Yes, lime green. So, right now, I have a whole under-the-sea thing going on in there to try to accommodate that.

LESLIE: Holy moly. Well, generally, you’re doing the right thing there when you try to decorate around the color scheme or make something of it.

PEG: Right.

LESLIE: But I get it. That color can become tiresome rather quickly. So, short of retiling your bath, there are a couple things you can do. You do have the option to paint tile which – it never lasts, in my opinion. It’s something that’s sort of just a temporary placeholder until you can actually redo that bath. But there are shower inserts that sort of surround the existing tile and can create a whole new bath and shower surround in a day.

PEG: Right. Actually, it’s a fiberglass insert. It’s not tile. It’s a fiberglass insert that would need to be cut out. We actually did have one of those companies come out to put an insert. But because it’s a fiberglass all one piece from, probably, ‘72 or ‘73, the entire thing would have to be cut out.

TOM: Right.

PEG: So, mainly, I want to find – is that refinishing spray worth the effort? Or cut it out and get rid of it?

TOM: So, you’re asking can you reglaze, so to speak, the fiberglass shower stall that you have right now or does it …?

PEG: Right.


PEG: Right. You see these companies for these resurfacing sprays.

TOM: Right.

PEG: Whether or not it’s something it’s even worth doing, doing ourselves or hiring a professional or get the saw and go to town.

TOM: Yeah, I hear you. I think that you’re probably not going to be totally happy with that. Because once that fiberglass surface starts to wear, unless it’s made in a factory like it was the first time, it’s never going to be as nice as it used to be.


TOM: It’s a pretty labor-intensive project, as well. So, I think if you do want to tear it out and do something else, you’d probably be better off doing that.


TOM: I know it’s a big job; it’s a completely restoration. But there’s just no shortcuts when you want to do something that’s going to last you for the next 20, 30, 40 years.

PEG: Right. I don’t mind the green shower myself. My husband minds it more than I do. With my beautiful, tropical shower curtain, it looks great. White sink, white toilet. We’re good but you know …

LESLIE: I bet it’s cute.

TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean like Leslie said, you can decorate around it, too. There’s always an option.

PEG: That’s what we’ve done. That’s definitely what we’ve done. Alright. So that was the main thing: was it worth it to refinish it? And probably not.

TOM: Yeah. No, I don’t think it is. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: When we come back, we’re going to have some tips on how you can handle a shutdown of your vacation home. You’re not out there all the time, so you have to make sure that you close it correctly so that it stays in great shape for the next time you and your family need a little break. When we come back, Richard Trethewey from This Old House is going to share some tips to keep your second home in top shape.

TOM: And today’s edition of This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by ADT. Introducing ADT Go, the new family mobile safety app and service. Go to to learn more today.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: And we’re here to help you with your home improvement project. So help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT 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.

LESLIE: And now that summer is ending, just ahead, Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor from This Old House, is going to be here with tips on how you can shut down a vacation home for the season.

TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Get the latest fall trends in hardwood, bamboo, laminate and waterproof floors for less.

LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’re going to talk about cracks in driveways with Todd in North Dakota. What can we do for you today?

TODD: Yes. I was wondering if there’s something that I could put on my concrete driveway, because I have hairline cracks all over in the driveway. And it’s not that old.

TOM: Yes. There is a product that’s available from QUIKRETE. It’s simply called Concrete Repair and it’s a sanded, acrylic latex formula. So it’s called “sanded” because it has this sort of texture to it, like …

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So it looks concrete-y.

TOM: Yeah, concrete-y, yeah. Hey, there’s another word you made up, Leslie: concrete-y.

LESLIE: I know. It’s my Money Pit-isms.

TOM: Exactly. So it’s very easy to apply because it comes in a caulking tube. There’s either a …

LESLIE: It also comes in a squeezy tube. So whichever way you feel more comfortable.

TOM: Yeah, squeezy tube, too. Yep. And you can go through and seal all those cracks.

And that’s a good thing to do because if you leave them exposed, water tends to soak into them and then it can freeze and expand those cracks even further. So, I would look for the Concrete Repair product that comes in the caulk tube. It’s available from QUIKRETE. Very easy to do.

TODD: And if there’s – they’re pretty small hairline cracks. Would they – would you get that stuff – that into the cracks or …?

TOM: Yeah, it’s a caulk tube and so what you want to do is you cut a very small opening at the end of the tube and then you could press it right up against the crack and squeeze it in.

TODD: How about if I – could you take – you see advertised sometimes these – you can paint your floors and stuff. Would that seal them up, too, or …?

TOM: It’s not designed for that. Why don’t you use the product that’s specifically designed to fill cracks with?

LESLIE: And also, do you want to paint your driveway?

TODD: No, no, I don’t.

TOM and LESLIE: Yeah.

TODD: OK. Well, thank you.

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

LESLIE: Well, if you are lucky enough to own a vacation home, you know it’s a great investment and a wonderful place to get away that you can actually call your own. But the unique thing about a second home is that it likely remains empty for half of the year or even more, making maintenance and care of it super important.

TOM: And shutting down the home for the season, especially if it’s the winter season, has to be done just right to avoid big plumbing problems later. With us to talk about that is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor from TV’s This Old House.

Welcome, Richard.

RICHARD: Hi, guys.

TOM: Now, most people would think that draining a plumbing system should be an easy thing to do. But a lot of people get it wrong and keep lots of plumbers very busy come spring.

RICHARD: Well, that’s right. Any water left in that pipe is going to freeze and break the pipe. And it won’t show up until the next spring when you turn the water back on. This, more than almost anything, is a function of how well the plumbing was done initially. Many vacation houses are done well so that you can open up one valve and all the water will just drain right out of all the main pipes, because they’ve been installed perfectly with no traps and no places where water can sit.

TOM: And conversely, many vacation homes were done poorly where they started off as being real bare-bones winter cabins and then plumbing was added to it, electricity was added to it and so on. So it never really had a comprehensive plan. And in those situations, you really have to be very, very careful to get every speck of water out of that.

RICHARD: Absolutely. So it starts by turning that water main off. And now you’re going to say, “How do I get rid of this water?” So you can open up the draw-off somewhere in the building and drain the water out but that’s not going to guarantee that it all gets out of there. So, probably the most effective way is to get an air compressor and to connect it with a double-ended hose to that compressor, again, to that outside sillcock or some faucet.

TOM: Right.

RICHARD: And then one by one, go along and open up – let that air pressure push all the water that could be trapped in elbows and T-fittings and push it right out. So that’s going to get most of it out but you still have other places where you have to watch out for.

LESLIE: Now, is this a necessity, draining the system, if you keep the house conditioned during the winter season but it’s unoccupied?

RICHARD: People worry about the risk. I’m a believer in leaving the house in a low-temperature state, not completely letting it go to an icebox and freeze. But people still – if they don’t winterize their plumbing, they still live with that fear that one pipe will split and run all the time. So, most people will feel much more comfortable to get that plumbing system drained out. They might leave the heating on low and a lot of times, the heating system might have a little antifreeze in it, as well.

TOM: Now, Richard, you mentioned blowing out the water with the compressor. What about the traps? What about the water that stays in on the drain side? Because the air compressor is only going to affect the supply pipes, correct?

RICHARD: That’s right, on the hot- and cold-water system. On the drain side, it’s a completely separate system. In that case, you have to put propylene glycol – non-toxic antifreeze, often used in the RV world or the marine world – and actually go into every trap and every place where water could sit in the drain system.


RICHARD: There’s some places that are obvious: underneath every sink, every kitchen sink, every lavatory. There’s some traps that are not obvious: underneath the bathtub; people forget that there’s one under there. And also, the toilet itself is a trap; it’s integrally built into the bowl. And putting a little bit of that antifreeze into the toilet tank itself, lifting the cover, is also a good …

TOM: Now, are there any other places we may have missed?

RICHARD: Well, there’s a couple of hidden valves that you – if you have a dishwasher or a washing machine, those valves only open electrically. So, when you have your compressor on, make sure you run the dishwasher or run the washing machine to get the air out. Don’t forget the hoses on the washing machine, as well.

And what I like to do on the dishwasher itself is to actually disconnect that supply to the dishwasher solenoid valve, down low in front of the dishwasher. Because if a little water gets in there and splits that solenoid, it’s a very expensive repair.

TOM: Yeah, we don’t want any surprises when we’re ready to start our vacation.

LESLIE: Right.

RICHARD: That’s right.

TOM: Good advice. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor from TV’s This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

RICHARD: Great to be here.

LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and a step-by-step video on how you can drain pipes on your vacation home and other how-to videos, visit

TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Marvin Windows and Doors.

Just ahead, as summer turns to fall, it’s a great time to get your heating system serviced. Now, it doesn’t matter if you heat by gas or oil or propane or even electric, an annual service by a pro is key to making sure the system remains safe and efficient. We’ll have tips on what that service should include, in today’s Pro Project presented by, next.

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

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: And we are here for you, to help you with your home improvement project. We’re also here to hook you up with the tools you need to get projects done around your house.

And right now, we’ve got a great giveaway: the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower. It’s going to go out to one lucky caller drawn at random. I mean Labor Day weekend is here, which mean’s fall is not far behind, right? So, this is a great labor-saver to go out to one listener.

Now, if you’d like to win it, you’ve got to pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. Or you can post it to the Community section at But we’d love to send this product out to you.

This thing is great. It delivers air at 140 miles an hour, so that’s going to send those leaves flying off your lawn and into the street so you can collect them up. You want to learn more? Head on over to It’s worth almost 250 bucks. Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Again, that number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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.

LESLIE: Well, as summer turns to fall, it’s time to get your heating system serviced. We’ve got tips on how to best get that project done, in today’s Pro Project presented by

TOM: Now, if you’re thinking, “Hey, the heating system worked fine last winter, so it should work this winter. So maybe I don’t need to have it serviced,” well, by that logic, it doesn’t necessarily hold. Because it doesn’t matter if you heat by gas or oil or propane or electric, an annual service by a pro is really important to make sure the system remains safe and efficient.

LESLIE: Yeah. Now, not only can your heating system become inefficient, costing you more to operate, dangerous conditions can build up, like carbon monoxide, that might only be spotted by a pro with years of experience.

TOM: Yeah. Now, for homes that are heated with gas, oil or propane, those fuels leave deposits on the burners. And that can cause them to become blocked. And if that happens, you would get incomplete combustion and that’s not good.

Now, a pro can clean and adjust those burners to make sure they’re running properly. And they’ll also check other key elements of the system, like the heat exchanger, which can develop cracks. And if that happens, you could have a mix of combustion gas, like carbon monoxide, leak right into the air in your home. So, it’s real important to have a thorough service done.

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, your blower motor also needs to be checked and cleaned. And filters need to be replaced, as well. And if your home is heated by electric, like with a heat pump or even electric furnaces, those systems also need to be checked to make sure they’re not wasting energy, especially since electric is pretty much the most expensive way that you can heat your house.

TOM: Absolutely. And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free. No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.

LESLIE: Hey, are you looking to expand your living space for your expanding family? We’re going to share some design ideas to help you do just that, 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: And we are here to help you with your home improvement project. Help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-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.

LESLIE: And while you’re online, check out Always a lot of great information going on there: new projects, new everything every single day, plus you guys. Post your questions in the Community section so we can help you out there, just like Joel did.

Now, Joel writes: “My basement floor is poured concrete but has a lot of rise and fall of 9 inches from one end to the other. What do you suggest for making it level? The ceiling height ranges from 98 inches to 107.”

TOM: That’s kind of crazy, huh?

LESLIE: That’s a big difference.

TOM: I wonder why that was.

Now, I mean if it’s cracked, like it looks like it was active movement, then that’s a problem. You need to figure out why that’s happened. If the foundation is otherwise level all the way around – we’re not talking about areas that were added on over the years, Joel – I suspect that there could have just been some pretty significant settlement. Sometimes, if it’s not backfilled properly, that can happen. But if it appears that maybe this has just dropped and settled – and sometimes you’ll see sort of the old lines on the foundation, where it used to be – you may be better off just tearing it out and sort of leveling the whole surface out.

The good news is at least, at the lowest point, you’ve got 98 inches. So you could always bring it up to 98 across the whole floor and it will still be an 8-foot ceiling, right? So, you need to figure out why that’s happening, though. And tearing that out may be necessary.

Now, the good news, also, is that that foundation is not impacted by the floor. The floors are usually separate from the foundation. They’re really just there, you know, to give you a surface to walk on; they’re not part of the structure of the house except in areas, perhaps, where there may be some columns or beams that are supported. Now, if those areas are moving, then that’s another issue.

So, I think you need to get this evaluated first before you move forward on it. I would recommend a professional home inspector, such as a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. They have a find-an-inspector tool there at that would be really good for you to check out. Because this way, you’ll get an opinion from someone who understands structures but is not there to help sell you a repair. And once you figure it out, you can get that done.

But it’s definitely going to be a bit of a hassle but it’s got to be addressed before you finish that basement.

LESLIE: Yeah, for real.

Alright. Good luck with that project, Joel. That really is a big difference.

Next up, we’ve got a post here from Vic in Florida. Now, Vic writes: “I live in a condo on the seventh floor of nine floors. Would it be possible to have a powerful air-vent fan above the stove to eliminate odors when cooking?”

TOM: Yeah, well, only if your building allows it, which is unlikely. You would have to have a direct vent in to get that greasy air out.

Now, if the building does have such a structure where all of those vents are joined together somehow and they’re all ported out in some way, then you possibly could do it. But if not, you’re just going to have to find a high-efficiency recirculating fan. The better ones have better efficiency in terms of how much grease they can take out. Yeah, it is putting the steam back in your house but at least it’s taking out the dirty air in the process, with all the cooking fats and odors and such. It does need a lot more maintenance, too, than one that is vented out. But if you can’t vent it out because it’s an apartment complex like that – a multi-story building – then you’re going to have to use a high-efficiency unit. Those by Broan, for example, are very good-quality ones.

This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on this beautiful Labor Day weekend. We hope that you’re maybe taking some time off from working around your money pit. And that’s OK with us. We’re here to help you, though. When you’re ready to get back at it after the long weekend, all you need to do is reach out to us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions online at

But for now, the show continues online. That’s all the time we have. Thanks so much for spending this hour with us.

I’m Tom Kraeutler.

LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


(Copyright 2018 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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