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Painting Basement Walls

What can I use to paint my basement walls – especially those dark, discolored spots?

Ron,

Thanks for a great question!

If the existing paint is solid and appears in good shape, the use of a good Kilz primer per manufacturer’s directions should take care of those dark patches.

We always suggest that you use the plastic test for moisture prior to painting in the basement.

Place a sheet of plastic/saran over a couple spots on the floor/walls and seal the edges with duct tape.

Check ..read more

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Conventional Furnace vs. Geothermal System

We’re trying to decide on conventional furnace or a geothermal system.

Chris,

Thanks for the great questions – we appreciate you being part of the show!

You have to ask yourself – “has the house been comfortable? Has it been efficient? Was I feeling I needed to “change something” when the old furnace began acting up?

Geotherm will be a large, up front, investment. If you stay in the home, it will certainly pay you back several times since it supplies nearly “free” heating and ..read more

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Porch Repairs

Should I have my porch repaired/replaced before we re-do the siding and roof? Is wood better than metal rails or a concrete cap?

Robin,

Thank you for being a part of the show – we appreciate you!

For that front porch you could go either way – concrete or wood, depending on the type of look you want when the work is complete.

The same thinking applies regarding the rails/guards. Wood vs metal – either can be beautiful and work well – it depends ..read more

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Dip Tube on Water Heater

How can I obtain a copper dip tube for my water heater?

Steve,

Thanks for a great question – we appreciate you.

The dip tube is the tube that brings fresh, cold water in to the heater.

It is generally made of a plastic – although there was a time a few years ago when the plastic disintegrated and caused some issues.

Why are you thinking you want it made of copper? Some have heard of the horror stories of the cheap plastic tubes that ..read more

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Soot on Ceilings and Walls

Why are we getting what appears to be soot on the walls and ceilings?

Bob,

Thanks for the inquiry – we appreciate you.

That soot could be the nasty result of several factors – wood/pellet burners, an inefficient gas furnace and/or cheap candles. It’s a fairly common problem in tighter homes.

The charged particles are carried in the air and deposited in areas of higher heat loss – usually on the painted surfaces covering ceiling framing and upper wall framing.

Do you have a ducted ..read more

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Critters Not Welcome!

We hear what we think is critters in the ceiling. How important is it for us to remove them?

Beverly,

Thank you for the inquiry.

The cold weather has sent a lot of critters in to people’s homes to survive. Unfortunately, once they get inside they tend to contaminate the area and multiply. Critters in the attic can cause major damage to the wiring, plumbing, and structure and become become carriers for diseases.

It is considered wise to get them out as soon as possible! ..read more

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Effects of the Cold on Your Home

What does this bitter cold do to your home? 

Kathee,

Thanks for a great question – we appreciate you.

Can this bitter cold have adverse effects on your home? Yes….but…..

If you are keeping the home heated and you have a slab-on-grade home or basement, you are not likely to experience a lot of serious negative effects.

Natural, though unwanted, heat loss will generally protect your home.

The biggest culprit to creating damage is freezing components – freezing footings and foundations, water and sewer pipes, framing ..read more

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Warning! Frost Heave!

How can I resolve frost heave that cracks bricks?

Michael,

Thanks for the great comments and for the inquiry.

Frost heave is the result of water-saturated soils that freeze, expand and then lift whatever is on top of them.

The trick is to minimize water in the soil under the brick and to have well-drained soil that has enough voids to absorb some freezing water effects without a lot of dimensional movement.

If you could remove a portion of the concrete directly under the wall ..read more

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Ice on Exterior Doors

My exterior doors are sweating and icing over at the threshold.

Thank you for the inquiry – we appreciate you.

This extremely cold weather has “shown” us some of our home’s faults – in this case doors and door thresholds that conduct a lot of heat right through to the outside! When this occurs, moisture in the air inside condenses, then freezes on the cold surface.

Another consideration is that the door may not be insulated, which means that excessive humidity may not ..read more

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Testing for Radon and Installing Mitigation System

Our home tested high for Radon. Who can install a mitigation system for us?

John,

Thank you for a great question.

Hopefully you tested over a wide range of your basement and home space and over a couple time periods since some tests can be skewed.

A radon mitigation system should allow for sub-soil gases to flow directly through a sealed pipe out through the roof of the house.

PVC pipes will usually extend through walls in the heated portions of the home into the ..read more

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