Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Winter Home Prep Repairs and Improvements

By: Danny Lipford
Danny Lipford on extension ladder preparing to clean gutters for winter.

Danny Lipford preparing to clean gutters for winter.

We’re repairing this house—both inside and out—to get it ready for the cold, winter weather ahead.

Projects Include:

  • Cleaning gutters and installing GutterBrush gutter guards.
  • Sealing up cracks and gaps with Titebond caulk.
  • Repairing exterior door trim.
  • Replacing rotten eave boards with Royal Cellular PVC.
  • Applying Duck Brand insulating window film.
  • Installing Roxul stone wool insulation in the attic.

Read episode article to find out more.

Further Information

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re taking on the fall fix up list to get ready for cooler weather. I understand last winter you had a guest that you didn’t necessarily want in the house.

Elyse Weeks: Yes, we had a possum in the basement.

Danny Lipford: When cooler weather arrives, there are some chores that you just know you’ll be handling. Homeowners, Robert and Elyse Weeks have a few of these projects on their list.

Robert Weeks: We’ve lived in the house for about five years. And we really like the size of the yard, and there’s lots of room for Annalise to run around and play and for us to just be out of the house.

Some of the things we don’t like, the maintenance, we have a large oak tree growing over the house and so maintenance from leaves and limbs falling. And then part of the house is 40 years younger than the rest of the house, so there’s some differences and how the two things were done and so it’s a little bit of a temperature difference in the winter between the two sides of the house.

Elyse Weeks: My comfort level is always off because it can get pretty chilly in the winter time.

Robert Weeks: Our gas bill goes up real high in the winters. Especially around December, January and February. It tends to skyrocket. The biggest thing that we deal with especially in the fall are leaves from the trees in the yard and then, cleaning out the gutters repeatedly.

Danny Lipford: So, we’re going to see what we could do to help.

Elyse Weeks: Hi.

Robert Weeks: Hey, Danny, how’s it going?

Danny Lipford: All right, how are we doing? The front of the house here looks pretty nice and I love the tree and what are some of the things that are really frustrating you about the house?

Robert Weeks: Well, the tree is a good place to start. You see our gutters here. We have a lot of work to do…

Danny Lipford: Oh, man, I bet you spend a lot of time cleaning leaves out of those gutters.

Robert Weeks: We do. We’ve tried some different screens and things like that. It doesn’t seem to help a whole lot. We still end up digging leaves out all the time and you see the front of them is really dirty.

Danny Lipford: I see the small down spout, really is a problem because, you know if you have a larger down spout, it’ll move a lot of those leaves out of there but I think we have something we can put in the gutter that’ll keep the majority of those leaves out. I understand, last winter you had a guest that you didn’t necessarily want in the house. Tell us about that.

Elyse Weeks: Yes, we had a possum in the basement. And so, it would be nice if we could, kind of get things to where they can be secure.

Danny Lipford: You know, a house like this and a foundation like this, usually pretty easy to seal it up.

Robert Weeks: That sounds great. We might have some other problems too.

Danny Lipford: Uh-oh.

Robert Weeks: We’d had some electrical problems before from, wires being chewed on and there’s a rotten spot in one of the soffits that I think maybe some squirrels or other rodents have been up…

Danny Lipford: I bet you have a lot of squirrels around here.

Robert Weeks: Right, we do.

Danny Lipford: And you probably, like, hear them from time to time?

Robert Weeks: We hear them on the roof all the time. Running back and forth.

Danny Lipford: Well, we can seal all of that up. What are some of the other things bugging you?

Robert Weeks: Well, there’s a door around back that… It’s a really nice door but when it was installed, it just doesn’t look right. It’s not quite fitting with the rest of the house.

Danny Lipford: Well, that sounds interesting. Show me that. That’s weird.

Robert Weeks: It’s a nice door but we’ve got a concrete block over here and there’s just a huge gap all the way around and it looks like it’s just not quite finished.

Danny Lipford: We can cut some pieces to trim all of this out. It’ll look like it’s been that way forever.

Robert Weeks: Okay, thank sounds great. There’s a couple of other areas around the house that the trim looks a little odd and like this corner over here, it’s just… ROBERT: Not quite right.

Danny Lipford: Well, we’ll see what we can do. We’ll have a lot of fun work here to do.

Robert Weeks: Okay, sounds great.

Elyse Weeks: Sounds good.

Danny Lipford: When Allen and I arrive with tools and materials it’s time to go to work, but not before a brief rain delay. The most important tool for cleaning gutters is a good pair of gloves, not just because rotty leaves are slimy and gross, the raw inside edges of gutters are sharp and it’s easy to cut your hands. You must have to do this all the time with this oak tree over here.

Robert Weeks: Oh, yeah, we have leaves year round falling off of it.

Danny Lipford: Allen’s plan is to use a product called GutterBrush to keep out the unwanted leaves.

Allen Lyle: I’m very confident we’re going to have all the water still go into the gutter, but not the debris.

Danny Lipford: Without a doubt when you have gutters you better be ready do some maintenance on them. Or in this case, with us trying this device, with GutterBrush, it might be just the thing to keep that maintenance down to a minimum.

Allen Lyle: No tools to put it in place. You’ve got these in about, lot of diameters from three and a quarter inch all the way up to eight-inch in diameter, so no matter what size gutter you’ve got in your house.

So what you’ve got, all the sheet action on the roof, the water comes down, all the water goes in. The debris hits this and either rolls of or stays here. And when you’re ready to clean it off, you just simply take it out, shake it off, put I back in.

Danny Lipford: Now Robert you have another kind of gutter guard on the back. How’s that worked out for you?

Robert Weeks: We have to get up there and clean them off all the time and have to actually scrape the stuff out because it sticks on top…

Danny Lipford: They always seem to be dislodged.

Robert Weeks: Right. They don’t quite stay in place very well. I guess the heavy rains or heavy winds blow them around a lot.

Danny Lipford: When the brushes are in place they disappear from the view of the neighbors. Once we scrub the mildew off the front of the gutters, they’ll be good as new.

Joe Truini: Portable fans are really great for circulating air in enclosed spaces where you may have stale really musty air—basement, garage, workshop, playroom, anything like that. And if the space is also used to store trash and recycling and work boots, not only do you want to circulate that air, but also deodorize it.

And one way to do that is with dryer sheets. You can get these at any supermarket, and they’re used for putting into a clothes dryer. And if you buy the scented kind, this is lavender, you can use them to deodorize the air, and here’s how.

Take a small strip of duct tape, and stick the dryer sheet to the back of the fan. And this is the rear of the fan where it’s drawing air in. You just have to tape it right near the top like that.

And now, when you turn on the fan, as it draws air through the dryer sheet, on this side you’ll get cool circulating air that smells great.

Danny Lipford: This week, we’re helping Robert and Elyse get their home ready for the cooler temperatures ahead.

Allen Lyle: Things that you may think are… “It’s too soon to do that.” Not really.

Danny Lipford: When it gets cold it’s not a whole lot of fun to be out working, so that’s why it’s so important to get a jump on it. We’ve already cleaned the gutters and protected them from falling leaves. Now it’s time to seal up the cracks and gaps that can let in the cold air.

Robert, I wanted to ask you about this. You showed me the door earlier that had been installed, but what exactly happened over here?

Robert Weeks: Well, when we were putting the door in, it didn’t exactly fit right and so we kept cutting and kept cutting and made it a little too big. You see, I kind of caulked over here some and it just took a whole lot of caulk to fill in the gap.

Danny Lipford: This would take quite a bit of caulking.

Robert Weeks: Yes.

Danny Lipford: In this case that means using foam backer rod to feel the deeper part of the void, so the caulk doesn’t have to be as thick. This WeatherMaster caulk we’re using is ideal for this application because it can cover wider gaps and remain flexible, so it won’t crack over time.

Once the door is sealed, Allen and Robert protect the outside facets from the cold that’ll eventually be here and I get some hardware caulk cut to cover those foundation vents. Elyse seemed pretty keen about getting this place sealed up and keeping any of those rodents out this winter.

Robert Weeks: Yeah, I think this will make her real happy.

Danny Lipford: Good, that’s what we want. That’s what we want. All right, well, I’ll cut a few more of these.

I’ll tell you what, you know, when we get finished with all of the little projects we’re doing, Robert and Elyse will still have a fair amount of work to do with all the pressure washing and a few more minor repairs.

A little more caulking, but I’ve got a feeling, we’ve got them inspired. I think this place will look pretty good in about a month.

Allen Lyle: Robert, I’m guessing this is the beginning of the great American novel that you always wanted.

Robert Weeks: I have no idea. That’s been here for years. We did not go with that custom paint job.

Allen Lyle: Really? It’s so unique. If you can squirt some of that construction adhesive within there. Danny should be doing this ’cause he loves construction adhesive.

Danny Lipford: I do love construction adhesive. But in this case, we’re also driving in some masonry screws to help secure the screen. Now we need to tackle that rotten soffit.

Robert Weeks: My father-in-law and I were standing there trying to figure out what happened to the soffit and so we got up there and just started pulling a little bit of wood and more and more kept coming off because it was rotten and so, we didn’t really know where to go from there and we’re left with a bigger hole in this rotten piece of wood.

Danny Lipford: After a quick survey, Allen and I began removing the gutter, and the damaged wood that needs to be replaced. Well, you have your strengths, and I have my strengths.

Allen Lyle: That is true.

Danny Lipford: And strengths lie in what you like and dislike.

Allen Lyle: I notice that you like to sing but you’re not very good at it.

Danny Lipford: I don’t like attics, but you’re good at it.

Allen Lyle: Is that an omen of things to come?

Danny Lipford: When Allen gets the soffit removed, we get a better idea of what’s causing this problem.

Allen Lyle: You got a hole in the flashing, right here. That’s what’s allowing it all to flow in right behind. Right there,

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Allen Lyle: All flowing right behind the soffit.

Danny Lipford: Oh, that’s not long enough. That should stick out of… So, I bet…

Allen Lyle: It should’ve gone further out.

Danny Lipford: So, the upper fascia board has to come out. There we go.

Allen Lyle: All right, good to go.

Danny Lipford: To correct the problem, we’re replacing the flashing and cutting a new piece of fascia from the cellular PVC material we brought. This stuff is made by Royal Building Products, and although it looks like wood, it won’t warp, rot or crack. So, it’s perfect for this location.

People tend to replace rotten wood over and over and over in the exact same spot. Well, years ago, there wasn’t a lot of options, a lot of alternatives there, but now with the composite materials, and cellular PVC, like what we’re using here, you’re only going to replace it once and it’s done, and it’ll look just like the wood that’s being replaced.

All right, now, I’ve tucked under, good there…

Oh, man! Sweet man.

We got that in place just in time, because once again, the rain rolls in and delays our work. When the rain passes, it makes the roof a stain bath. Now, we can replace the lower fascia with more PVC material. And finally, we cut a sheet of three-eight inch cellular PVC, to replace the soffit itself.

Allen Lyle: Tap it again. It’s about to fit.

Danny Lipford: Once we install the bed molding, cock the joints, and replace the gutter, it looks as good as new. And this stuff will last.

Jodi Marks: You know, I have to say, I think that painting is my favorite project to do. Because you don’t need a lot of tools, it’s not expensive, and it can really transform the look of the room.

But you do need to have another tool on hand, besides your paint roller and your brush. This is the Husky Multi Tool. And it’s perfect for all of your painting projects. Now, you see all these gadgets right here? Take a look down here, on this five-gallon bucket.

I have laid out all of the tools that this one tool houses, everything from a utility knife to a can opener. Let me show you, first of all, it’s got…if you have to use an opener for your five-gallon bucket, it’ll open that lid.

Then, on this side right here, this is where all the action is, I mean, I’ve got a scraper, I’ve got a can opener, I’ve got a roller-cleaner right here. A bottle-opener here. There’s even a rounded scraper there, so that’s a nice little tool.

But I love this utility knife, because it’s got a very easy quick change. Let me take the guard off. You just push this little top button right here. And that blade will come right out, and it pops right back into place.

So if you’re doing your painting projects, this is definitely the tool to have on hand.

Danny Lipford: Our project helping Robert and Elyse get their home ready for the coming fall weather has been hampered by the current weather. Instead of cool dry days, we’ve had rain combined with steamy heat.

Allen Lyle: Anytime you’re doing an outdoor project, weather’s an issue. But this week has just been… Just insane.

Danny Lipford: But for now, it’s dry. So we’re about to tackle that rotting corner board Robert showed us earlier.

Allen Lyle: All right, Robert. Again, before it gets too cold we want to get the outside work done that we can… I noticed this was a little bit of an issue, so we’re going to replace this. I’ve got some great material here from Royal, that, it’s an outside corner already put together. I love this. No seams.

Danny Lipford: The old corner boards come off easily enough…

Allen Lyle: Timber!

But unfortunately, the rain returns, so… They’re moving inside to deal with some drafty windows.

Robert Weeks: Recently, before we bought the house, the owners had double-pane windows put in through most of the house, but this room still has the older windows. So, you have the single-pane windows in here. It gets a little bit drafty in here every once in a while. It gets pretty cool in the winter…

Allen Lyle: Right.

Robert Weeks: …and a little bit warmer in the summer.

Allen Lyle: Well, obviously, the solution is replacement windows, not in everybody’s budget. So, until you’re ready for that, I’ve got a solution for less than $10. We can actually take care of this entire room.

It’s just a window insulating kit. Now, this is actually their heavy-duty plastic, I’ve done some kits that are about, a little bit thin of this. They still look good, but it’s so easy to do. Oh, we need a hair dryer.

Robert Weeks: Right.

Allen Lyle: Which you use a lot, I see.

Robert Weeks: All the time. Yeah. All the time.

Danny Lipford: After cleaning the window tram, they apply the double-sided tape that comes with the duct brand kit, around the perimeter of the window.

Allen Lyle: Basically, it creates an air pocket, between the film and the window. So, it’s like having an insulated window.

Robert Weeks: Let’s see if I can remember how to use one of these things.

Danny Lipford: As soon as the hot air contacts the plastic film, it begins shrinking tight, removing all of the wrinkles, and creating a perfectly transparent cushion, of insulating air.

Robert Weeks: Now, that’s pretty neat…

Allen Lyle: All right, the only left thing to do is trim all the excess off all the edges.

Danny Lipford: By the time the rain ends, Robert has to head to work, so Allen and I pick up where they left off on the corner board. Just a little trim on each side.

Allen Lyle: Yeah, take a little bit off on each side of it… We’ll probably have to shin this one out like this is.

Danny Lipford: Got you.

Allen Lyle: And it’ll… Actually that’ll be a perfect fit afterwards.

Danny Lipford: Now I think we get to you some construction adhesive here.

Allen Lyle: Oh, no!

Danny Lipford: It’s going to be great. This is how your PVC cuts just as easily as wood. So trimming the edges and creating spacers is easy enough. Then we glue the spacers in places with a fast-setting construction adhesive.

But before we can finish the job. It rains, then it rains and then it rains some more. And at a certain point, you just throw-in the towel waiting for another day. We got a good day today.

Once we dry fit the new corner-board, we applied an adhesive, to the inside edges. But this time, we are using PVC cement. That’s what the folks at Royal Building Products recommend for bonding these materials to itself. Essentially, it wields the two pieces together.

That means all we have to do, is shoot in a few finish nails to hold it in place while the glue dries and we’re on to the next project. Notice this is concrete, this is some kind of composite, this is wood, but I think if we use some of the one by four.

Allen Lyle: Right.

Danny Lipford: PVC material and brought this out.

Allen Lyle: So basically, you want to widen the jam.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, widen the jam.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Danny Lipford: And so that means we need about an inch clearance everywhere, which is pretty good.

Allen Lyle: How much do we have over here though?

Danny Lipford: This right here going to need a little bit of work. Yeah that’s not even three quarters.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Danny Lipford: So the first step, is trimming out some of the jagged concrete, with an abrasive blade. That looks perfect.

Allen Lyle: Say it again. It looks what?

Danny Lipford: This looks okay.

Allen Lyle: No, no the word you used was…

Danny Lipford: I can make it work.

Allen Lyle: Perfect. That’s not what you said…

Danny Lipford: I’ve got caught. Now that we have the room, we need we can glue our spacers to the concrete blocks. Hey, did anyone mention that I really love construction adhesive?

Then we simply build a jam extension, using more of the cellular PVC and cap it with PVC brick mold. Finally we can set the unit in place, and nail it to the spacers we glued in earlier.

Once we caulked the joints and cleaned up outside, it’s time to add a little more comfort inside the home. Well I thought about, these bundles are so big, I don’t think we should really be pushing those up into the attic.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Danny Lipford: So… I’ll cut them and hand them up to you, piece at a time, you can install them. I can keep feeding them up, huh?

Allen Lyle: You’re coming up to help, right?

Danny Lipford: You need help?

Allen Lyle: Yes.

Danny Lipford: I thought you would say that. I just happen to bring my shirt.

Allen Lyle: Oh you happen to…

Danny Lipford: I’ll help you out a little bit.

Allen Lyle: All right, well good.

Danny Lipford: The insulation we are using here is Roxul Stone wool which doesn’t irritate the skin. But the old, inadequate insulation in the attic does and that’s why we are wearing protective gear.

Another advantage of this insulation is that it delays the spread of fire, because it won’t burn or release toxic gases when exposed to high heat. That gives you and your family extra time to escape in the event of a fire.

Man, this does work well! Look out! Blankets is right in there. And it’s working out great.

Allen Lyle: I guess what lot of people don’t know Danny is the fact that you see how compressed, this old insulation has gone over time. That’s less effective right now. Plus as you’ve said, when you can see the top of your joist…

Danny Lipford: Yeah, yeah you got to have some more insulation when you’re doing that. It’s pretty good man. This is going to get way up on the energy efficiency level here, and it should keep Robert’s family more comfortable this winter.

One of the things people often ask this time of the year is, “How frequently should they have their fireplace inspected and cleaned?”

An inspection is a good idea before the beginning of each heating season. Although, depending on how often it’s used, a fireplace may or may not need to be cleaned that frequently.

A good inspection includes several things in addition to inspecting the fire-box for damaged or missing mortar, checking the damper for proper operation and surveying the inside of the chimney for dangerous creosote buildup.

It’s also important to inspect the top of the chimney from the outside to ensure the cap is in good shape and that birds or rodents haven’t built nests that would obstruct the flue or pose a fire risk.

Even if you haven’t used the fireplace all year, these conditions could be present. So it’s important to look for them, and have them corrected by professional before the fireplace is used.

Danny Lipford: Robert and Elyse are young couple with an older home. That means there is always plenty of maintenance to be done. This week we’ve tried to help them with some chores that will get them ready for the approaching change in weather.

Elyse Weeks: I just think that the work that y’all did was wonderful and we really appreciate it. It looks so much better.

Danny Lipford: Cleaning and protecting their gutters from the inevitable onslaught of leaves, sealing up the gaps, cracks and the voids around the house that might let in cold air or critters. Repairing some water damaged wood and missing molding and adding an extra layer of comfort between their family and the chilly winter’s temperature ahead.

Robert Weeks: All the work you all did looks great now. The doors look much more finished—the corner board looks tons better than it did. Before it was repaired, it was rotted and then afterwards it didn’t look right. So that looks much better now. And the soffit, that’s just tons better.

Danny Lipford: You know it really is a lot of fun to help home-owners like Robert and Elyse with a lot of the projects that may be they’ve been putting off a little bit. Or not really sure how to get them started. That’s all part of being a homeowner. You’re going to face those challenges. You don’t have to do everything at one time.

But get started and you will be amazed to how gratifying it is when it all comes together. And you know what we’re going to do it again, next week right here, on Today’s Homeowner. Hope you’ll join us. I’m Danny Lipford. I wouldn’t put my hand in that right side of that…

Allen Lyle: Yeah, thanks.



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