TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects, solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. If you’re working on a project to spruce up your house now that we are knee-deep in the holiday season, we are here to help you get that job done on time, on budget and before the relatives show up. But help yourself first: give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to The Money Pit Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s program, your roof weathers every storm and protects your home’s structure. And it keeps you warm and dry. But it’s not going to last forever. We’re going to tell you what you need to know when your roof’s got to go.
LESLIE: And smart-home products are everywhere these days. But if you’ve not taken the step to join the smart-home generation, we’ll have tips to help you figure out if smart-home products are smart for you, just ahead.
TOM: And did you know the most expensive way to heat water is with an electric water heater? We’re going to share some tips on a popular technology that’s so cost-effective, you might not even notice a bump in your utility bill.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’ve got a fun tool to give away. It’s the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, along with a supply of staples, worth 50 bucks.
TOM: Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Jill in Washington is on the line with a question about a foundation. What’s going on at your money pit?
JILL: We’re having a small house built up here in the great, beautiful state of Washington. And the builder is recommending a double set of – how do I say it? For drainage. He wants to really be sure that the drainage all is tightlined. One system will be tightlined that joins with the downspouts from the roof. And then the other is kind of like a perforated, long, 200-foot piece of hose with a sleeve over it. Do you recommend both of those? Is that overkill or how would you do it?
TOM: So we’re talking about surface drainage here or are we talking about gutter drainage or both? These sound like, from your description, that these are all running away from the house. Is that right?
JILL: Yes. He wants it around the – they’ve simply just finished the foundation and are about to do the backfill. Before they do the backfill, they want two drainage systems put in place. One is a hard – I’m not sure of the correct terminology. It’s a 4-inch pipe …
TOM: Yeah, one’s for the downspouts and one’s for the foundation. Is that correct?
JILL: Correct. Exactly.
TOM: Alright. No, I mean I think he’s doing it right. And those steps will help. The one really important thing is that when he’s done with this is not only do those downspouts have to be extended away from the house, but you want to make sure that that finished grade also has a pitch that drops at least about 6 inches over the first 4 feet. Because with new construction, you’ll get a lot of settlement and you’ve got to have good pitch. But if you have downspouts that are extended out away from the house and you have good pitch, you’ll never have to worry about a water-infiltration problem.
And I also don’t suspect that those additional foundation drains will really come into use much, if at all. But since it’s all fully open right now, there’s no real – there’s no harm in doing that.
JILL: OK. So, it’s just bite the bullet and just put both systems in.
TOM: Yeah. Now, have they put the gutters in yet?
JILL: Oh, no, no. The house isn’t even built yet. No, just the …
TOM: OK. So, here’s a good tip. Most builders are going to put in what’s called a “4-inch case-style gutter.” That’s a standard gutter. Opt for the next size up – it’s a 6-inch gutter – for two reasons. Number one, it holds more runoff from your roof; it doesn’t get overwhelmed. And number two, it doesn’t clog as easily because the downspouts are much bigger.
JILL: I see. What a great tip.
TOM: OK. And they’re not that much more expensive, either.
JILL: Great. Well, you know what? When we get to that point, I’m going to call the show back and – because it always rains up here. And I will let you know that we took your grand advice and how it all came out.
TOM: Alright. Can’t wait. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Good luck with that brand-new home.
JILL: Thank you so much.
TOM: Building a new money pit.
LESLIE: Building something new that will become a money pit at some point.
TOM: That’s right. That’s right. As beautiful and as luxurious as these homes are, we know that everybody’s house becomes a money pit sooner or later. And so that’s why we’re in the money-pit prevention business.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Randall on the line joining us here at The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
RANDALL: Got a condo. The condominium complex was built in probably the early 60s to the mid-60s. I did a recent renovation of the entire complex. And when they completed the plumbing process in my bathroom, after they finished everything they put new faucets, new tub/shower combo. And now, whenever you turn on any of the water faucets, there’s a rusty-brown color that comes from the – from this faucet. And it only comes out for about three to five seconds and then it clears immediately and goes away.
But I never had this problem ever before prior to doing the renovation. And I don’t have it in any of the other rooms, except for the master bedroom that is kind of connected to the same pipes. So I’m just wondering if my plumber had put in the wrong piping to go into the fixtures or if it’s rust that’s built up in the old pipes, since it’s such an older complex.
TOM: Anything is possible. Kind of hard to diagnose why that’s happening. But I’ll tell you where the solution lies and it’s not that complicated of a project. And that’s at the main water line when it comes into the unit. What I would do is I would put a whole-house water filter right there. They’re not terribly expensive. You do have to turn off the main water line. And this is a plumbing job, so you’d have to hire a plumber for it to cut in the filter. But the filters could last anywhere from three months to a year or more, depending on which type of system you buy.
And the filter, at that level, is designed to take out the bigger particulates, like rust. It can improve taste but it’s mostly designed to take out particulates. So if you put it there, no matter where it’s coming from that’ll pull it out.
RANDALL: Now, let me ask a question because I was told, possibly, that I need to flush my hot-water heater.
TOM: I mean I guess it’s possible. But frankly, I don’t really see the need to do hot water-heater flushing unless you have really hard water. I don’t think – you can’t really hurt it by doing it. But I will tell you sometimes when you do flush the water heater, you will find that the valve at the bottom – you can open it but then it becomes hard to close; it doesn’t close all the way. You also have to release the pressure-relief valve on the side. And that also can get kind of clogged with debris and sometimes it doesn’t close all the way.
So, if you do take on that project, keep in mind that you might end up having to do more than you counted on. Because what you would do is turn the water valves off to it at the top and then you would open up the hose at the bottom. You would probably have a rubber hose connected to that, by the way, going to a sink. And you would have to pull open the tab on the pressure-relief valve on the side to let air into the tank. Otherwise, it won’t drain.
TOM: So, it’s possible that you can do that. But I’m very cautious about that, because I know from experience that sometimes when you mess with those valves that haven’t been opened or touched in years, they don’t always go back.
RANDALL: Right, right. OK. Alright. Great. I really appreciate you all’s comments and help. And I’ll lean maybe towards the filter system, like you were discussing, and I’ll go from there.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-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 at 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: Just ahead, smart-home products are everywhere these days. But if you’ve not taken that step to join the smart-home generation, we’re going to have some tips to help you figure out if smart-home products are a smart move for you, in today’s Smart Tip presented by Lutron, after this.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And what are you working on? We’d love to hear all about it. Give us a call if you’ve got a question, right now, 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.
And if you do pick up the phone, we’ve got both the tips and the tools you need for your home improvement project because we are giving away the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, along with a supply of staples. It is the most popular, American-made staple gun ever. It’s got all-chrome/steel housing, a jam-resistant mechanism, a powerful coil spring, a nice viewing window and steel working parts.
There’s a lot of things you can do with that Arrow T50 Staple Gun, including creating light-up wall art which is a project, right now, online at the Arrow Fastener website. Just go to ArrowFastener.com/Projects. You can read all about the light-up wall-art project. You’ll get step-by-step tips and everything you need to get that project done, at ArrowFastener.com. Just click on Projects.
And that Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun is going out to one caller, one listener drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Leslie in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with an oversized oak door. What happened? Did it grow?
LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: What I did was – I live in a 100-year-old, German bungalow-style house.
LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: And I changed the doors. It had been remodeled and it just had the flat, hollow-core doors in it. I changed them out for solid – for oak doors. And in one room, the door now – the hinges are in the very corner, as it were. But at the bottom, it meets and at the top, there’s about a ½-inch gap where we put wedges. So I’m wondering how to trim that out appropriately.
The original doors had 1-by trim with the flat board on top, so they butt against the board on the top. And I’m wondering what I can do to make this work.
TOM: So, if I understand this correctly, you purchased a prehung door, you installed it into the old opening. In order to make it fit, you had to shim it in quite a bit. And as a result, now you have large gaps between the prehung and the old door opening. Is that correct?
LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: Correct.
TOM: Alright. So, you need a wider trim, obviously; that’s where you’re going to have to start with this.
Now, the most traditional trim is clamshell – which is, I think, quite boring – 2½-inch or 2¼-inch wide, surrounds the door. A more interesting way to do this might be to trim it off with a two-piece trim. So what you could use is you could use a piece of baseboard molding as the first layer of trim. So this would give you a wide molding all around the door.
And you could make this as wide as you have to. Baseboard molding is usually either 2½ inches or 3½ inches wide. So you treat – use that as casing, if that makes sense. And then on top of the outside edge of the baseboard, you can put corner molding. And so it becomes sort of – its outside corner mold, so it becomes stepped. So, the fluted part of the baseboard is against the hinge and then it steps up at the end with the outside corner molding. And this gives you sort of a two-tiered casement arrangement all around the entire door.
This can be very, very attractive. I once did an entire house like this and it looked really good. Gives you a lot of dimension and it kind of brings you back to the day when all the moldings around doors were done in a really fancy way like this and gives that particular door a lot of personality.
LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: Well, everywhere you look these days, smart-home products are available to make homes safer, more secure, more efficient and more convenient. But if you’re still staring at a flip phone, maybe, instead of a smartphone or maybe you made the leap to an iPhone or an Android but you just haven’t added those products yet, our advice is the water is fine and it’s time to jump in.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, the nice thing about today’s smart-home products is that it’s super easy to start small and then add products that you think bring benefit to your routine, one at a time.
For example, going into winter might be a great time to add a smart thermostat. Now, these thermostats know when you’re home and when you’re not. And they can automatically adjust the heat to save you from heating an empty house.
TOM: And lighting is also a big area where smart-home technology can help. For example, Lutron makes a product called Caseta that’s a smart lighting control that gives you the ability to set your lights to come on at dusk so your family always comes back to a well-lit home.
LESLIE: Yeah, now even your plumbing can get smarter with smart-home technology, as well. They’re easy-to-install water monitors. And you can set them to measure your home’s water usage and even alert you when you waste water or if there’s a major leak, even when you’re not at home.
TOM: And here’s one of my favorites: a garage-door controller that alerts you if you forget to shut the door when you leave.
There’s also smart window blinds that can go up and down to adjust the light level in your home during all hours of the day. Point is, large or small, there are smart-home products that make life safer, secure, efficient and convenient. So, pick one to start with and we bet, before too long, you’ll become a happy member of that smart-home generation.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Tip presented by Lutron, makers of the Caseta Wireless Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch Starter Kit. With Caseta by Lutron’s Smart Lighting Control, you can set your lights to come on every night at dusk. And the sunset tracker automatically adjusts as the seasons change, so you know your family will always come back to a well-lit home.
TOM: Caseta by Lutron. Welcome home to peace of mind.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Corey in Michigan who is dealing with an addition that’s having a hard time maintaining its heat. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
COREY: I purchased a foreclosure a couple years ago and they put an addition on the back of the house. And the house has a basement but there’s a crawlspace under the addition. And I’ve noticed the past couple years that I’ve been here – the addition in the back, it’s just one room. It’s like a great room; it’s about 18×20 feet. And it’s always colder; it’s around 10 to 15 degrees colder than the rest of the house.
LESLIE: And what type of heating do you have in that space?
COREY: We have forced-air heating throughout the house and they put an additional duct going to that room. And we also have a gas fireplace in the back. But unfortunately, I’m always finding myself having to put the fireplace on to try and even out the …
TOM: So, did they try to extend the heating system from the main house into the addition?
COREY: They did. And that was part of my concern when I was looking at it, because they ran a duct right off of the main duct off the furnace.
COREY: So, I was thinking maybe kind of like how air would take the path of least resistance, it’s just continuing through the large duct and not really being forced into the smaller duct that goes right into that room. Because the furnace is actually very close to that room.
TOM: So it sounds like what they tried to do is take the inexpensive way out, which is to extend the existing heating system into that room, which may or may not have been properly done. So, have you had an HVAC contractor look at this and look at the duct runs?
COREY: No, I haven’t, no.
TOM: Yeah, so I would do this: I would look at the duct runs first and see if the duct system can be adjusted or additional ducts can be installed to get more air into that room. You need more heat in that room. That would be the least expensive way to go. If you’re running this gas fireplace to try to balance off the chilliness in that room, you might want to think about – because we’re just sort of working with – I guess the coldest days is when you need this, I would imagine? You might want to think about adding electric baseboard heat.
Now, we almost never recommend that because it’s the most expensive but in a situation where you’re trying to add supplemental heat to a room, that’s not a bad way to go, because it’s inexpensive to install and you’re only going to run it when you really need it.
COREY: OK. OK. What do you think about maybe putting like – I know they have those fans that you can stick inside ducts to maybe help pull the air into the duct?
TOM: I wouldn’t go that route until I had a good HVAC installer – not a service guy, not a guy who just tunes up furnaces but somebody that really knows how to lay out a duct system for a house – look at it. That’s called a “duct booster.” It might be an alternative; it might not. It depends on how the duct was put together, how much supply air and return air is getting back.
Because remember, you can’t just throw the air in there. You’ve got to pull the cold air out of there and send it back to the heating system. So if they’ve just got supplies and no return, that could also be an issue.
COREY: OK. Yeah, there is a return but yeah, it’s – I don’t know. I’m not sure exactly how many corners they cut, because I know in the crawlspace there, they didn’t put no Visqueen down or anything like that, also.
TOM: Yeah, well, I would talk to an HVAC contractor about the duct layout, see if you can get some additional feedback on that and then just look at all the alternatives. What’s it going to cost to get the duct system working right? Can it work right? Is the existing furnace big enough to supply the amount of heat that that room is going to need, given its location, given how much glass is there and so on? And remember, keep that as a fallback position that you could always add electric baseboard to supplement what you have.
COREY: Oh, OK.
TOM: Alright, Corey. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, your roof weathers every storm, protects your home’s structure and keeps you and your family warm and dry. But it’s not going to last forever. We’ll tell you what you need to know when your roof’s got to go.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What are you working on this weekend? Are you thinking about putting up some holiday lights? If you are, you’re probably sorting through those strings now to make sure they’re all still working. If they’re not, my advice: buy LED. They’re a little more expensive, true, but they’re brighter and they just don’t wear out. Plus, they’ve got some cool gadgets out there right now where you can even change the patterns.
So, think about updating your lighting instead of trying to figure out which one of those bulbs is the one that’s burnt out. Because I’ve got to tell you, you get the first one fixed, you’re going to find about three more after that. Probably after you get that string up on a ladder, too – up high on the house on a ladder and you’re like, “Darn it. I had it working and now it’s not.”
LESLIE: Gayla in California is having an issue with a countertop. Tell us what’s going on.
GAYLA: I am. About four-and-a-half years ago, I remodeled my kitchen and installed Corian countertops. And I used the pattern called Savannah; it’s one of the light ones. So I’m getting ready now to sell my home and looking at the countertops, they’re really – there’s tons, like thousands of hairline scratches. And I’m wondering, how can I bring back their luster? They never were shiny but they were lustrous.
LESLIE: Yeah, they do have a satin finish that looks very rich and nice but obviously, over time, just from normal wear and tear, they are going to dull and not look so great.
There’s a good website that generally specializes in granite and marble care – it’s called StoneCare.com – but they do have some products for Corian. And there’s actually a spray. You know, it’s made to reduce a residue on the surface. I’m not sure it’s going to help you with the scratches but it could be a good starting point. It’s called their Deep Cleaner for Corian. And that might be a good place to start, at least.
GAYLA: OK. Yeah, I don’t know that they’re that dirty. I do keep them quite clean but it’s just a question – it’s just those hairline scratches. And when the sun comes through the window, you really see them.
TOM: What that product does is it will also pull out any residue from all the cleaning that you have been doing so religiously, which is a good thing. The other nice thing, though, about Corian is the scratches can be repaired. And if you – the Corian can be repolished, basically lightly sanded, so to speak and …
GAYLA: Oh, I was wondering about that.
TOM: Right. To actually pull those scratches right out. So that’s not something that I would recommend that you do the first time out.
GAYLA: No, I don’t think so.
TOM: But if you contact a kitchen-cabinet company, for example, they might have an installer and for a reasonably small fee, they might come out and repolish those tops for you. They’re going to have all the tools and the equipment, as well. And probably they can pull many of those scratches right out.
GAYLA: Well, thank you. That sounds like the way to go for me.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project and good luck selling your house.
GAYLA: Well, thank you and best to you both.
LESLIE: Well, one of the most important structural components of your home might not just be the foundation. We’re actually talking about your roof. It’s going to weather every storm, it protects the rest of your home’s structure and of course, it keeps you warm and dry if it’s in good shape.
TOM: That’s right. But with all the beating your roof takes, a roof replacement is usually in every homeowner’s future at one time or another. Here with tips to help us through that project is Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House.
TOM SILVA: Thanks, guys. Nice to be here.
TOM: Nice to have you back again. And Tom, just because you have a leak in a roof might not mean that you need a new roof. But what are some of the key signs we should be looking for to know if our roof really has reached the end of its life?
TOM SILVA: If you don’t like to be up on a roof, I’d say a nice pair of binoculars to look from the ground, to look at the condition of the shingles.
TOM: Good advice.
TOM SILVA: Usually, the granules will start to wear off. If you clean your gutters and there’s a lot of granules in your gutters, usually at the end of the season, that means that they’re starting to wear down. If the roof is cupped or if the corners are peeled up, that’s a sign that the roof is getting ready to be replaced.
They wear out. The rainwater comes down, hits them and they get abuse from the wind, the rain.
TOM: And the sun, the UV.
TOM SILVA: The sun, yes. Yep.
TOM: Yep. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: Now, here’s something that we talk about a lot on the show. We talk about when you’re replacing your roof, do you put the new roof on top of the existing roof shingle? Do you take everything off? I know we looked into replacing our roof and in our village, you needed to sort of jump through the hoops to remove the existing layers of shingles there. But if you wanted to just go right on top, you didn’t need any paperwork at all. And I feel like you should take it off.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Well, I don’t ever put a roof on a roof. I do not like it. I think it’s absolutely stupid. That roof is going to end up in a landfill, eventually, anyway.
TOM SILVA: So, for someone to say, “Oh, no, leave it on and go over it,” that’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong. You’re adding problems because, number one, you’re adding more weight – constant weight – to your roof. And you’re shortening the lifetime of that shingle anyways because it’s sitting on top of an insulation bed, so it can get hotter. And if it gets hotter, it’s going to wear out faster.
TOM: Now, if you are going to strip your roof off, you have an opportunity to reconstruct it, really take advantage of some of the more modern materials that are available today. What would you recommend in terms of, you know, underlayments and ice-and-water shields and that sort of thing, to kind of make sure the base is good to go? And would that change based on what part of the country you’re in? So, for example, if you’re down in Florida – an area that’s prone to hurricanes – might you build it different than you were up in Vermont?
TOM SILVA: Mm-hmm. Well, yeah, absolutely. There are a lot of products out there that will basically keep your house dry and the roof shingle, in this case, becomes basically aesthetic. And their materials are really great.
But one of the things that I look at, when I strip a roof, is I now am able to look at the existing sheathing. What’s the condition of it? Does it need to be replaced? Are there boards that have to be fixed? Then I can look at that, fix what I have to fix and then I automatically renail off the whole sheathing, tighten it back up to the roof structure. That’s important.
Now, if I live in a climate that has a lot of snow and ice, I want to think about ice protection from ice dams. And I’d want to put on a self-sealing membrane. There’s a few of them out there. For example, Grace Ice & Water Shield is probably the one that’s most known for.
But a lot of people put that on incorrectly and even roofers put it on incorrectly. The first layer – the first row – should overhang the roof edge by at least 3 or 4 inches. That should then wrap down around the leading edge of the sheathing, down under and onto the fascia board. Then that has to get protected by another piece of wood because the sun will break it down. Then you put your first course of drip edge on that. It’s a self-sealing membrane. So when you nail through it, the water won’t leak.
TOM: And that’s a great reason, right there, to strip the roof off down to the sheathing every single time. Because you couldn’t do that if you were putting a second layer on.
TOM SILVA: No, you cannot do that. Yeah, absolutely.
TOM: And another point that you made, which I think is great, is about that sheathing. What I used to see in all the years I spent as a home inspector was that the older homes – especially the homes that were built, say, in the 60s or 70s which, of course, to a guy from This Old House is not that old. But that said, those homes, I find, in that era, the ventilation was very poorly done and you see a lot of damaged sheathing.
TOM SILVA: Oh, yeah. A lot of damaged sheathing and lots of times, the sheathing is too thin.
TOM SILVA: Because they started using plywood back then. It was a new deal and the plywood – “Oh, this is really strong. We can put in ½-inch when you shouldn’t put ½-inch on a roof.” You should have a minimum of 5/8. And if you’re replacing a board when older – in older houses, you want to make sure that the board you use is the same thickness that the board’s existing. Because with the shingles that they have today, if you use a standard three-tab, fiberglass shingle, that shingle will actually fall into that little valley and you’ll see a dip in the roof shingles.
So, it’s not – structurally, it’s fine. It’s just appearance-wise. And those are the little things that bug me. If it’s not perfect, it’s not right.
TOM: That’s right. And that’s our motto: do it once, do it right, you won’t have to do it again for a very long time.
Tom Silva, General Contractor from TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure. Nice to be here.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some step-by-step videos on many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by Marvin Windows and Doors.
Just ahead, do you know the most expensive way to heat water is with an electric water heater? We’ll share tips on a popular technology that’s so cost-effective as an alternative, you might not even notice a bump in your bill.
Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We’d love to hear what you’re working on. Give us a call, right now, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.
TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.
LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’ve got the answers to help you out with whatever it is you are working on. But we’ve also got some great prizes to give away each hour. And this one is a pretty fantastic tool that will help you with so many things around the house and I’m sure projects that you didn’t even know you could use it for. We’ve got up for grabs the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, with a ton of staples.
It is the most popular, American-made staple gun ever. I mean these things last forever. They’ve got an all-chrome housing that is just super durable. I know Tom still uses his grandfather’s. I’ve had one for ages and ages and ages that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
And there’s so many things that you can do with the Arrow T50 Staple Gun. You can create a pretty cool project that they’re featuring on their website, right now, which is light-up wall art. Head on over to ArrowFastener.com, look in the Projects section. Check out light-up wall art and you’re going to get all the step-by-step tips, even advice that you need to get that project done. Again, head on over to ArrowFastener.com and click on Projects for some great ideas.
TOM: And that Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Shirley in Nebraska on the line who has a foundation question. What’s going on at your money pit?
SHIRLEY: I have a townhome and the dirt around my foundation, due to the drought, pulled away. I had somebody come in and grade it, fill it with dirt and some river rock on top of that. However, my basement is a poured-concrete basement, where they have the metal rods in different – in the sections? And I have some fine lines of cracks going down and maybe going out about 6 inches from those rods. Do I have to be concerned about that? Do I have to fill those in with something or do something? Paint over it or …?
TOM: Generally, those are shrinkage cracks. Whenever you pour that much concrete, you get a fair amount of shrinkage cracking. And so if they’re fine lines like you’re describing, I wouldn’t worry too much about them, Shirley.
TOM: That’s considered fairly normal with a poured-concrete foundation which, by the way, is one of the most – is one of the stronger foundations that you could have.
SHIRLEY: Mm-hmm. I just didn’t have all those before the dirt problem, so that’s why I was wondering about it.
TOM: Yeah. And I would make sure that you maintain proper drainage around the house so that you’re restoring the dirt that shrunk away and that it’s always sloping away from the wall. Because that’s going to keep – that’s going to make sure you don’t make excessive moisture, because the other thing could happen: when it’s not dry out and you get very wet weather, the excessive moisture, that can have an adverse effect on a foundation. So just make sure you always maintain the proper slope on the outside and fill in those gaps as they occur.
SHIRLEY: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, do you have an electric water heater? Do you keep the temperature down low or even turn it off when you’re not home because it’s just so darn expensive to run? Well, now there is actually a better way. It’s called an “integrated air-source heat-pump water heater.”
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, this kind of water heater is not only going to cut your water-heating costs but it will reduce your family’s carbon footprint by nearly 2 tons every year. It has more than twice the efficiency of standard electric water heaters and it’s even cheaper to run than both an electric or gas water heater.
You know, example here: if your annual energy costs for hot water is about $550, you can save as much as $300 a year. That’s a huge savings.
TOM: Yep. And its ENERGY STAR rating also allows it to qualify for a federal tax credit and maybe even local credits through your state or your utility company.
So, next time your water heater goes, if it’s electric, think about installing an integrated air-source heat-pump water heater and your wallet will thank you, as will Mother Nature.
We’d love to hear from you about your next home improvement project. Give us a call right now.
LESLIE: Up next, the risk of dryer fires is a very real one. We’re going to talk about cleaning the lint from your dryer. Yeah, folks, it’s something that you have to do from time to time. And it’s actually pretty easy and kind of fun once you get started. First of all, if you haven’t ever done it, you’re going to be amazed at what does come out. But it’s a project you’re probably going to want to do every single year.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, what are you working on? If it’s your home, you’re in exactly the right place. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.
LESLIE: That’s right. But two pros are standing right now to help you out. Post your questions online in The Money Pit Community section.
And I’ve got one here from Carrie. Now, Carrie writes: “We’ve an old barn that is about 30×40 feet in Western Massachusetts. The first floor of the barn is open and has granite footings under the posts. There’s currently a dirt floor but we want to make the bottom level of the barn a woodshop and are wondering if it would work to pour a concrete slab or if you’ve got a better option for transforming the space into a usable shop.”
TOM: You know, I’m envious because that barn sounds like a great space for a woodshop, right?
LESLIE: It sounds pretty gorgeous.
TOM: I mean a concrete floor would probably make the most sense but since the building itself is supporting the floor, it will have no structural purpose. So, you don’t need to have this be any thicker than around, I don’t know, 5 or 6 inches or so.
Now, you want to make sure the slab doesn’t crack, so I’d be sure to use a good-quality mason to do this. Preparing the grade is really key. That stone base under the slab, absolutely important because it needs to be tamped down to eliminate any settlement under the slab. That’s why slabs move and crack. And if you really want to make sure you get no cracks, make sure you put wire reinforcement into that slab.
And given that you’re in Massachusetts, I’d also think about insulating under that slab, to make it a bit more comfortable to work on in cold weather. That’s really easy to do. You just put insulation down before you put – pour the concrete. And that floor temperature will not be very super cold in the winter. If you don’t, it’ll be like standing on a sheet of ice. A non-slippery sheet of ice but nonetheless, a sheet of ice.
So, great project. Good luck with that.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Samantha in Washington. Now, she writes: “I have a gray porcelain sink in my bathroom and the bottom – the part near the drain – is now dull and staining. What can I use to reseal it or clean it?”
TOM: Nothing. Because what you’re seeing there is not a stain. A lot of times, folks see these discolorations in their plumbing fixture and think it’s a stain but it’s actually wear and tear on that plumbing fixture itself. As that finish starts to wear off, you get that discoloration. And obviously, since it’s really a surface that’s worn, it’s not going to be something that you can remove.
Now, there are different ways to try to refinish those fixtures. But frankly, I’m not really thrilled with any of them and I think you’re probably better off just replacing that sink.
LESLIE: Yeah. And Sam, if you’re looking for a sink that sort of has that same style or even in those same color palettes, you might want to try an architectural salvage, or some sort of upcycling center, where they sell things from older home renovations that are in perfectly good shape that are just simply not going to be used anymore, which is a shame. So it’s great that these centers exist.
I’m sure if you Google in your area, you’ll find an architectural salvage or one of these recycling centers for building materials. And you can pop on over to there; they’re open to the public. And you can find everything from sinks to flooring to faucets, truly all kinds of things for projects at a very discounted price and sometimes in huge quantities. I’ve seen flooring that’ll do an entire room because, perhaps, it was – the wrong item arrived or it wasn’t ordered correctly or it was extra. And the builders and homeowners are giving them there so that it helps out a great organization and helps a homeowner, as well.
TOM: Good advice.
You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on another beautiful fall weekend. We hope that you’ve had a great fall thus far, enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday and are now preparing for all of the holidays that are lying just ahead of us. And if those holidays include some projects to help fix up your house before all your friends and family show up, remember, you can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your questions online at MoneyPit.com.
But for now, that’s all the time we have. The show does continue online.
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 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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From Source Article: moneypit.com
Instead of buying organic produce at your local supermarket, why not grow your own? Organic gardening is easier than you may think. You don’t even need much space for your new organic garden – a raised bed or even a container garden can provide a surprising amount of delicious, healthy produce. Of course, you can also grow a traditional long row garden organically.Photo Creditdbreen / Pixabay What Makes an Organic Garden?
It’s a garden “growing in harmony with nature” rather than in conflict with the world around it. Applying chemical agents like herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers create chaos in your tiny section of the ecosystem.
By improving your soil naturally, and relying on non-chemical means of removing weeds and preventing pests in your garden, you’re doing your part in keeping the ecosystem healthy and well balanced. According to Horticulture Agent Charlotte Glen, the goal of an organic gardener is “cultivating an ecosystem that sustains and nourishes plants, soil microbes, and beneficial insects rather than simply making plants grow.”Choose Your Garden Spot
Whether it’s a few pots on your balcony or a more traditional garden space, your organic garden needs plenty of sunshine (at least 6 hours a day), access to water, and good drainage. Good soil helps, too.
You’ll enjoy it more (and notice any potential problems sooner) if it’s close by rather than somewhere ‘outback’. This is especially important for an organic garden, where you’re not depending on chemicals to repel invaders.Photo CreditCounselling / Pixabay Decide on a Garden Type
A traditional garden consists of long rows of vegetables. It requires a lot of hard work and compost to get this kind of garden in shape for growing things organically. This type of garden also requires the most work throughout the growing season – thinning, weeding, and watering. It’s also probably best suited to large families or those dedicated to ‘putting food by’ through canning, freezing, or dehydrating.
A raised garden bed provides perfect growing conditions for your organic vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. Like a container garden, it allows you to control the quality of the soil. It also lets you grow quite a variety of produce for such a small space. If you’re sure you need more space, just add another raised bed.Create The Perfect Soil
Healthy soil produces healthy plants, which are better able to fend off pests and diseases. Many native soils are low in organic matter (humus or compost) and lack the perfect drainage most garden plants crave. So, what can you do to help? Add compost! Unlike chemical fertilizers, compost not only improves drainage and water retention, but it provides plenty of the macro and micro-nutrients healthy plants need to thrive, as well as beneficial nematodes and microbes. It’s also easy to make using kitchen scraps and yard waste.
If you need to purchase compost while your homemade pile is ‘cooking’, choose as wide a variety as you can find. The more different composted materials you add to your garden, the wider the variety of nutrients they’ll provide. A turkey’s diet is much different from a cow’s or earthworm’s and so is the output. Then there are things like composted corn cobs, cocoa shells, cottonseed meal… Kelp and seaweed are great because they provide additional nutrients not found in land-based sources.Photo Creditmayurankushe / Pixabay Plant a ‘Patchwork’ Garden
Planting a patchwork of different plants close together has several benefits in an organic garden. It’ll crowd out weeds and confuse pests. It’s hard for a bean beetle to find a few bean plants when they’re surrounded by carrots, onions, parsley, and even marigolds. What’s a poor pest to do? He’ll go bother someone else’s garden!
This patchwork technique works especially well in raised beds. It lets you harvest a smaller amount of a larger variety of crops and it looks pretty, too! Planting in raised beds also lets you save water. All the water goes directly to your plants instead of to muddy pathways or (shudder!) weeds.
A thick layer of grass clippings or wood shavings around your plants also saves water and keeps your garden looking neat. This organic mulch will also deter those pesky weeds and keep the soil cooler and moister in the heat of summer.Don’t Go Overboard
It’s easy to overplant your new organic garden, especially if it’s your very first garden. If you plant that entire packet of carrot seeds, you could end up with a truckload of carrots! Even Bugs Bunny might be a little intimidated by that harvest! Instead, plant what you think your family will enjoy fresh this year and save the rest of the seeds for next year. Properly stored seeds will last through several growing seasons.
And remember, you don’t have to plant every kind of vegetable or herb the first year. Let everyone in the family pick one or two favorites (as long as they’ll grow in your area) and enjoy your first organic harvest. You can always try a few more varieties next year.Photo CreditThorstenF / Pixabay Avoid Over-Watering Your Organic Garden
Now that you have your garden in full-bloom, the last thing you want to do is over-water it. You want to make sure that your garden is getting enough sun throughout the day, but there are certain times where your garden should be getting water – typically early in the morning or in the evening. Adding a drip irrigation system is a great way to ensure that your organic garden is getting exactly what it needs. If you use a hose sprinkler, pick up a timer that will hook up between your hose and your water spout. With some smart irrigation systems are controlled by your phone and will automatically disperse water at your request.Use Only Organic Pesticides
One of the greatest advantages of growing your own vegetables organically is that they won’t have any of the nasty pesticide residues that plague the ‘dirty dozen’. Not only is this better for your health, but it’s also better for beneficial insects, essential pollinators, and the environment in general. Plus your vegetables and herbs will just naturally taste better without the tinge of chemicals!
For more interesting garden tips, read this article and then get outside and start your very own organic garden! You’ll reap a harvest of fresh air, healthy exercise, and delicious vegetables.
From Source Article: moneypit.com
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you tackle your next home improvement adventure. What’s on the to-do list today? Give us a call. Let’s talk through it at 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, if your child’s room is space-challenged and maybe you’re thinking about making some changes so you don’t have to, I don’t know, step on Legos anymore, we’re going to have some tips to help you design a room that can grow as fast as they do.
LESLIE: And let me tell you, stepping on those Legos, especially in the middle of the night barefoot, it’s not a fun thing (inaudible).
LESLIE: Alright. And also ahead, you know, between bad weather and more deliberate forms of vandalism, mailboxes really can take a beating. We’re going to have tips on how to build a mailbox that can stand the test of time and the neighborhood kids.
TOM: And now that spring rains are upon us, is your house truly watertight? We’ve got tips on how to prevent all the sneaky ways water finds its way in, just ahead.
But first, let’s take your calls, your questions and get you some answers, 888-666-3974, 888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call right now.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Anastasia in Colorado is on the line with a bathtub question. What’s going on?
ANASTASIA: Well, I have a tub drain. Trying to get that out – the drain out because it’s – I can’t put a plug in it now. So, what I’ve tried is the drain-remover tool or it’s a plug wrench. And then I also tried that flaring tool to get it out and neither one of them works, because the little crosshairs in the bottom aren’t still in there, because it’s from 1960 tub.
TOM: Oh. So you have nothing to grab onto, is that what you’re saying?
ANASTASIA: Yeah. So, I’ve tried to get WD-40 in there, underneath the tray, but I can’t reach under there. And then I could crawl under the house but I don’t want to do that. So I was trying to think of a better way of getting it out.
TOM: If I understand it correctly, this normally would unscrew but what you’re driving – what you’re trying to grab onto is either stripped or completely gone.
TOM: I have only two suggestions for you. Number one is to hire a plumber, which is probably – you didn’t need me to tell you that. But I will say that the plumbers deal with this kind of thing all the time. And secondly, if I was a plumber and I was faced with this and there was absolutely no other way to get this off, I would probably drill it off and chisel it away, which you could do with a cold chisel.
And it’s not a pleasant process and it’s time-consuming and kind of a pain in the neck but when all else fails and you’ve just got nothing to grab onto, that’s a way to get it done.
ANASTASIA: Alright. That’s what I thought but I thought you might have a little trick up your sleeve.
TOM: But that’s a trick but it’s a lot of hard work. Anastasia, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Art in Pennsylvania is on the line working on some storm repair. Tell us what happened.
ART: About a month ago, we had a windstorm and it took off three sections of shingles off of the roof. And I was able to retrieve them. They were, ironically, in pretty good shape.
But I remember seeing a program on PBS where they were redoing homes down in Florida, in the section where they get a lot of storms down there. And I think there is a requirement for the way that shingles are to be installed down there and I’m thinking, if I remember it right – and I didn’t have a chance to see the whole program. But on mine, when I took mine off, there was only like three nails in each of these shingles there. And I think, if I remember correctly, that down there they were requiring that there be more nails than that used to install shingles.
TOM: Well, Art, your goal now is to replace the shingles that you lost. And did you save the shingles? Were they intact enough to use the actual shingle for the repair? Because this way, the color will match.
ART: Yes. Yes, they were; they were in very good shape, yes.
TOM: Alright. So then what I would do is I’d get back up there and – assuming you can do this safely – and you’ll nail the new shingles back in. You want to put nails – you can put them pretty much where the old nails were but of course, not in the same holes because they’re going to be broken-through now.
You can’t really put too many nails on them. If you want to put an extra nail or two, that’s fine. But the key is after you get done nailing all of these down again, what I want you to do is to get an asphalt cement. And you can get it in a caulking tube and put a little dab under the loose end of the shingles so that the tab presses down and reseals. Because when shingles are new, they have an adhesive on the back of the tab that seals it to the shingle below. But when they’re torn off, that adhesive is gone. So you put a little dab of asphalt cement in there and that will keep it in place and stop it from sort of lifting up the next time you get a strong wind that comes across. Does that make sense?
ART: OK. Well, I thank you very much. You’ve been very helpful.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. What’s your how-to or your décor question? What are you working on? Call in now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.
TOM: And just ahead, is your child’s room space-challenged? We’re going to have some tips to help you design a room that can grow as fast as they do, after this.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And hey, whether you’re planning a décor project, remodeling your kitchen, your bath, fixing a leak or fixing a squeak, we are here for you every step of the way. So call in your question, right now, to 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.
And sometimes, a small repair can feel like it turns into a major remodel.
LESLIE: What happened?
TOM: I had an issue this week. Our dishwasher stopped working. All of a sudden, we noticed that there was no water coming out and we had that kind of scary, burning kind of a smell.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: So, yep, killed the power. Decided it was an older dishwasher; it wasn’t worth fixing. So I ordered up a new one and then as I was waiting for it to come in, which took a couple of days, I decided I had some time to yank out the old one. So I yanked out the old one and underneath the dishwasher, to my surprise, was nothing but a wet, mushy mess. There had been a very slow leak that had gone undetected for a long time and it rotted out a good piece of that floor. I was surprised. We saw nothing, we smelled nothing. There was no evidence of it whatsoever.
LESLIE: I’m surprised the dishwasher didn’t fall into the basement.
TOM: I know, right? So I yanked this out. I’m like, “Oh, my goodness. You’ve got to be kidding me,” and picking up these pieces of what was like plywood. And it looks like mud in my hands. It was terrible.
So not to mention the fact that I’ve got a really old house, so I didn’t really have a square hole for my dishwasher. I went in thinking it was a parallelogram, like the sides were square. I decided, I think it was – what’s the other one where they’re all different? Is it rhomboid, where there’s four of them that just – sides that just – nothing lines up? So I had to kind of start with a level platform and work it up to a flat, level space and then just kind of let everything else sort of fall where it was.
So, all of those folks that we talk to on air and online through social media go, “Oh, your house must be perfect.” Yeah, not so much. We have the same issues going on as you do in your house. So give us a call and we will help you through what’s going on, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Tony in Florida is on the line with some noisy plumbing. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
TONY: It’s in the walls. It seems like the clanking is going on in the walls. And I can’t get to the pipes because they’re hidden – they’re all covered by the walls. So every time I put the faucet on, hot or cold, bang, it’s one slam and that’s it. That’s what I get. And I’m just wondering, is there some easy, quick fix for something like that, you know?
TOM: Yeah. So does this happen, Tony, when you open and close the faucets? Is that when it’s worst?
TOM: Alright. That’s called “water hammer.” And what water hammer is – you have to remember that water is very heavy; it weighs, actually, 8 pounds per gallon. And so, as the water is traveling through the plumbing line and you open or close a faucet, the inertia of that water just keeps moving. And it’ll shake the pipe and that’s what makes the banging sound. And of course, pipes transmit sound like crazy and so you’re getting that kind of sound to it.
So, what can you do? There’s two things that you can do. All the piping that you could possibly access – so that would be like in the basement or crawlspace or attic. Any place where you can see a pipe, you want to add some additional strapping to the wall so that takes some of the bounce out of it.
The second thing that you can do is you can install – or have a plumber install – something called a “water-hammer arrestor,” which is, essentially, a shock absorber for a plumbing system. And it will take that inertia from the water and absorb it slowly so it doesn’t bang the pipe.
But what you’re describing is a very typical, very normal condition in an older house. Generally, unless it’s really super-bad, doesn’t cause damage. But it’s more of an annoyance than anything else.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pam in Missouri is on the line with a lighting question. How can we help you today?
PAM: I have fluorescent lights in my kitchen and two other rooms and they are recessed into the ceiling. They’re the kind like you would put maybe into a shop: those 3- or 4-foot-long tubes, T8 bulbs that I hear are going away?
TOM: Yep. Yes. Uh-huh.
PAM: What can I do?
TOM: So, are you having trouble finding the bulbs? Is that what you’re concerned about?
PAM: I am not now but I’m – hear that they will be not used anymore.
TOM: Yeah. But they last so darn long. Why don’t you just go shop online and buy a case of them and call it a day? I mean really. Yeah, they’ll be harder to find but they’re going to be available, because a lot – there’s a lot of industrial folks that use those in offices and that sort of thing. So I wouldn’t fret too much about that.
Listen, if you want to change your lights at some point, then you can plan that project. But I wouldn’t tell you to rip out and remove all your lighting fixtures now just because you’re worried about a supply problem. I’d just go pick up a case of these things. They last forever. And then put the project off until you’re ready to do some real remodeling.
PAM: I’d rather do that because, otherwise, I’d have a big hole in the ceiling that would have to be patched.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. It’s a bigger project for you because they’re built-in. So you’re going to have to take them out, you’re going to have to drywall over the holes. It’s a big job, so – no, I would just pick up a case of the bulbs and live with it for a while, OK?
PAM: Great. That’s easy for me. Thanks.
TOM: Yeah, they’re not too expensive. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, is your child’s room space-challenged? If you’re tired of tripping over Legos or dealing with lost puzzle pieces, we’ve got some easy décor tips that can help you design a room that can really change as fast as they do.
First, you always want to plan spaces that can grow with your child. Now, that includes everything from choosing a color palette that’s going to work and serve for the long-term backdrop for all their ever-changing tastes and interests and buying better furniture pieces. Now, that includes everything from choosing paint colors that can serve as sort of a long-term backdrop for all of those ever-changing tastes and their interests and buying better furniture pieces that can really stand up over time.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s super important. The room has got to grow with the kid.
Next, you want to think about smart storage. And storage, perhaps, has the biggest impact on the design of a kid space, as it not only gives you the room you need to hide all of their stuff – and they’ve got a lot of stuff – but it also frees up floor space for any activities that you want to have in the room. And that’s important to design in.
Now, storage needs to be flexible for their changing needs. Now, closets are always a great place to find storage but that’s only if they’re organized. So, think about your closet and what you can do to get the most use of the space in there. Is it adding smart organizers? Is it putting bi-level clothing rods? Look at what they’ve got in there, think about what they’re going to put in there and put pieces in that will help you store those items correctly.
And finally, be on the lookout for opportunities to create two-for-one solutions. If you can add a window seat, for example, that creates a great place to sit but it also gives you handy storage for toys or books. Really, think about double-duty items for kids’ rooms. It’s going to save you a lot of space and a lot of headaches.
TOM: For more tips, check out our brand-new post, “Create a Kids Room That Will Grow with Your Child.” That’s online, right now, at MoneyPit.com: “Creating a Kids Room That Will Grow with Your Child.”
LESLIE: Doug in Rhode Island is up next with an electrical question. How can we help you?
DOUG: I did some remodeling work in upgrading the island. And it used to be a floating island. And now that it’s fixed to the floor, I’m considering putting electrical outlets. And I’m just curious as to what might be the best location, as well as what the code – the electrical code – might require.
TOM: Well, are you over a basement or a crawlspace?
DOUG: I’m over a basement.
TOM: OK. Because what you’re going to want to do is run the wire up from the basement below, into the side of the island. Is it a standard kitchen cabinet that you’ve used to create this island with?
TOM: Because you can mount the electrical outlet, basically cut it into the side of the cabinet. You’re going to want it off the countertop, down below on the side of the cabinet. And the key safety aspect here is you want to make sure that it’s a ground-fault outlet. Those are the outlets that have the test and reset buttons in them for wet locations.
DOUG: I did see something online concerning that.
TOM: Yeah. So as long as you use a ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet and you just bring the wire up from the basement, that’ll be the most practical way to do it. It’ll probably end up not being on the same circuit as the kitchen because, generally, what you do in a situation like that is you grab the closest power source that you can, that’s convenient and safe, and just kind of go up from there.
DOUG: OK. Sounds good. Thanks for your help.
LESLIE: Patrick in Iowa is on the line with a roofing question. How can we help you today?
PATRICK: OK. I bought a home; it was a for-sale-by-owner. The roof was put on about four or five years ago. And in the disclosure, he mentioned there was nothing wrong with the roof. But since moving in – now, being in Iowa, we get severe weather and I understand a couple shingles might rip off during a windstorm or something like that. But it’s literally – it’s daily, shingles are coming off.
So I patched some of the shingles but it is – it’s every time we get a wind, shingles are just blowing off. And so I ask him, “Can I have the name of the company that did the roof?” And so, I got the name and phone number and I talked to the workers that did it and they said, “We’ve been out there every single year, year after year. We told him it’s no longer covered. He has to pay for it himself.” And he – and they asked, “Didn’t he mention that in the disclosure?” And I looked through the disclosure and of course, there’s nothing in the disclosure that mentions anything about it.
TOM: Right. Of course. Yeah. Wow. Sounds like you have a pretty strong case of fraud.
PATRICK: And of course, I don’t want to go down a road that is going to take months and months and months or years. But it is – it’s just one of those cases that if it’s not in the disclosure – but then I can prove that it is. I mean is there any recourse whatsoever?
TOM: Well, yeah. The recourse is to hold him legally responsible for the cost of replacing the roof. And this is really more of a question for an attorney than for home improvement experts like ourselves.
But I was a professional home inspector for many years. I’ve seen these situations before. And if you have a seller that outright misrepresents the condition of part of the property on the disclosure, then they should be held liable for that and in some cases, can be held liable for multiples of what the actual damage is which, in this case, is essentially going to be the cost of a new roof.
PATRICK: And it’s not just that. If I was told, then I could have just budgeted for …
TOM: Right. You could have headed it off, exactly. But it’s – some people just want to make sure – just want to misrepresent their home and try to hide all the problems. And that’s why you have professional home inspectors out there which – by the way, did you get a home inspection done, Patrick?
PATRICK: Yes. There is a mortgage on it. Of course, the mortgage company did their inspections.
TOM: Well, no, besides the mortgage company, did you have your own, independent, professional home inspection done?
PATRICK: I did not.
TOM: Yeah. So that probably was a mistake. Because home inspectors work for you and not for the mortgage company. And a good-quality home inspector – for example, one that’s a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors – would have spent two to three hours going over that house and probably would have seen all of the repaired shingles. Because that’s something that’s actually fairly obvious to see.
So, unfortunately, you can’t focus on the past but you should try to hold the seller responsible and maybe you could take him to small-claims court. I don’t know. Again, question for a lawyer but it sounds like you’re going to need a new roof.
PATRICK: Well, I know that it’s a metal roof that’s going to be going on, so …
TOM: OK. Alright. Well, good luck. Sorry that happened to you, Patrick. Good luck with the project, though. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, between bad weather and more deliberate forms of vandalism, our mailboxes really can take a beating. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House is stopping by with tips on how to build a mailbox that can stand the test of time.
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 ADT.com to learn more today.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Well, whether you are buying, selling or just enjoying your home, we are here for you every step of the way. Call in your improvement or décor question now to 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.
Kevin in Maryland, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KEVIN: Hi. I’ve got a washer and a dryer on the second floor of my house. And it seems, in the last year, I’m getting a lot more vibration, a lot more sound out of those units. And I can feel it a lot more in the second floor. So I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do to kind of reinforce something in order to limit that vibration. Because I’ve got three small children now and my amount of washing and drying is not going to go down at all.
TOM: Well, two things. First of all, you want to double-check that the appliance is absolutely level. Because if it’s slightly out of level, you’ll get more vibration. Then the second thing that you could do is pick up some anti-vibration pads for the feet of the washing machine. These are like rubber blocks that are indented where the washing machine legs sort of sit inside of it. Then they sit on the floor and they help absorb some of the vibration.
I have the washer and the dryer actually stacked – full-size units – stacked on the second floor of my house. And I put the anti-vibration pads in it and whenever the machine is spinning, I can literally look at those pads and see them working, because the vibration is really being absorbed by them. And in fact, I have – also have the washer sitting inside of an overflow pan that’s made out of fiberglass. So to get that to work, I had to sort of carve the bottom of the vibration pads to fit sort of the angle of the pan that they’re sitting in. So even with that modification, they work and they work well.
So I would pick up the anti-vibration pads. They’re about 25 bucks for a set of four and you could find those online or I think I found mine at Home Depot.
KEVIN: Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Kevin. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, the roadside mailbox at your driveway may be the first impression your house makes to visitors. And there are some very decorative and stylized options available now.
TOM: Well, that’s right. But roadside mailboxes also need to be built tough to stand up. Between bad weather, snowfall, snow plows and the occasional more deliberate forms of vandalism, mailboxes can take a real beating.
Here to teach us how to build a mailbox that can stand the test of time and everything else is landscaping contractor Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House.
ROGER: Thank you. And I’ve got to tell you that this winter wreaked havoc on mailboxes in the New England area.
TOM: I can only imagine. In New Jersey, as well, there were – seemed to be more laying down than standing up.
ROGER: Between the snow that was pushed on top of them or the plows hitting them themselves, the lawns were literally littered with mailboxes in the spring.
LESLIE: Once it all melted.
TOM: Alright. So, Roger, let’s say the snow has melted and we saw the scattered remains of our formerly beautiful mailbox. We’ve got to put it back together or we’re going to build one right from scratch. The position of that mailbox is really important; it’s actually controlled by the federal government, correct?
ROGER: It is very important but there’s one more step that is really super important and that’s calling your utility-locating service.
ROGER: Now, you can reach them by dialing 811 nationwide.
TOM: So, across the country, 811 works.
ROGER: Right. And they’re going to come out and you have to give them 72 hours and they’ll mark out all the utilities in the street. So you’ll know that – where you can put in the mailbox and not hit, say, a gas line. Because taking your post-hole diggers and digging a hole in a gas line can ruin your whole day.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: And that’s really because the location of the mailbox is just on the perimeter of your property. And that’s, you know, really the property of the town/village/city. That’s where they put all those utilities for your home and everybody else’s.
ROGER: Yep. That’s where all the lines tend to be.
TOM: Now, once we’ve cleared that the lines are not there and we’re safe to dig, what’s the key to making sure that that mailbox can really stand up?
ROGER: Well, first you have to consider that when you’re putting it in, that the federal government has regulations. They want that mailbox 41 to 45 inches high and they want it 8 inches back from the street. Once you have those measurements and you know where you’re going to put it, then you can decide what type of material you want to work with. There’s everything from plastic, wood or even wrought iron.
TOM: Now, when you set that mailbox post, that’s really the first part here. Digging that hole, concrete? No concrete? Stone? What do you think?
ROGER: Well, if it’s vulnerable to snow and a plow, I would say put concrete around it. If it’s not, just pack it in good gravel and it should be OK.
LESLIE: How do you make sure that that post is square and standing up straight?
ROGER: They make a special level – a fencepost level – that fits onto the board of the mailbox. And it’s great because you tie it, strap it onto the mailbox. Your hands are free and you can just look at it as you’re moving that post around and level it up very easily rather than taking the handheld and going from one side to the other. Makes short work of leveling up the post.
TOM: Now, you mentioned the materials before. PVC is becoming very popular. Is that strong enough to stand up as a mailbox post?
ROGER: You have to reinforce it a little bit. What we do is we either slide a 6×6, if it’s a 6×6 vinyl post, inside it and that’ll give it some strength. Or we fill it with concrete.
TOM: Alright, Roger. And as a final tip, when we’ve got that new mailbox installed, any tips for landscaping around it?
ROGER: I like to use some perennials around it or some real hardy annuals, because it’s going to be a high-traffic area.
ROGER: So you want to make sure whatever plants are there can withstand the traffic.
TOM: Good advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit with a plan to build a mailbox that will never miss a letter, moving forward.
ROGER: Hey, Tom, they have this new thing? It’s called email.
LESLIE: Alright. And now that Tom and Roger won’t be getting any mail this year, you can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a step-by-step video on how you can install a new mailbox, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Marvin Windows and Doors.
Up next, now that spring rains are in full swing, it’s a good time to make sure your home is leakproof. We’ll have tips to help you keep it dry, from your roof all the way down to your basement, after this.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’d love to talk with you about your next home improvement adventure. We call them “home improvement adventures” because if you think about it, adventures are exciting, they’re exhilarating and they never quite end up exactly like you planned, right?
LESLIE: You don’t really know where they’re going.
TOM: And that’s what happens with a home improvement project. So, whatever is going on in your money pit, we’d love to hear about it, right now, 888-666-3974. Or you can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: We’re going to talk with Dot in Wisconsin who’s got a decking question. How can we help you with your project?
DOT: Yes. My deck is located on the south side of my house and every year, we’ve been putting a paint on it. And it’s where we get a lot of sun. And I’m wondering if there’s a special kind of paint I should use, because it peels a lot.
TOM: So, there are special paints for decks. And if you’re continuing to put more coats of paint on the old deck, my concern is that you’re never going to get good adhesion. You may have too many coats of paint on that now.
Are you using paint or stain, Dot?
DOT: I believe it’s a paint.
TOM: I’m afraid, at this point, what you really need to do is to remove that paint so you can get down to the original wood. Because you can’t put good paint over bad paint; it’s going to continue to peel. And once you get down to that wood, then you should prime it and then paint it.
But if you’re able to get most of the paint off – and perhaps you can because, apparently, it’s not sticking well, where you really don’t have too much left – then I would recommend not using paint on it. I would use solid-color stain. It’s still going to give you a continuous color but it’s going to absorb better into the wood and it’ll kind of fade rather than peel. And I think that’s what you’re shooting for.
DOT: OK. Is there a certain type of product to remove the stuff that’s on there now?
TOM: Yeah, there’s a wide variety of paint strippers out there. I would look for one of the citrus-based products and try that. You’re going to – you may have to try a couple of them until you find the one that works best with your particular deck.
DOT: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, now that the warm weather is ahead, it’s a good time to inspect the outside of your home for signs of wear and tear brought on by that winter weather. And I want you to start with a roof check. Now, you can do this safely by using binoculars to look for shingles that are missing or broken or buckling or blistering, any of which can cause a leak to occur.
LESLIE: Now, next you want to clean and inspect your home’s siding. Now, you can use a product like Spray & Forget to clear away all the dirt and algae. But remember, if you use a pressure washer, you want to make sure you adjust the setting carefully, based on your siding, so you don’t puncture any holes in whatever your siding is.
TOM: Next, you want to take a look at the angle of the grading at the perimeter of your home. You want to make sure it hasn’t settled so much that it no longer sort of drains water away from your house.
LESLIE: Yeah. Because you don’t want – now is the time that we start to hear about all of those spring rainstorms leaking into basements and crawlspaces. So you want to make sure that you add that soil, get rid of anything that’s settled down. Add more to it to maintain that slope and get everything going away from the foundation. That’s what you want: you want things to go away from your house.
TOM: Yep. And most importantly, be sure to keep those gutters clean and the downspouts extended, as well, because that causes so many flooding problems. It’s just unbelievable.
So, easy stuff to do. Really important. And every one of these steps will help you keep water out of your house.
LESLIE: OK. Let’s welcome Donna from North Carolina with some squeaking floors. What’s going on?
DONNA: We have a 13-year-old home in Raleigh, North Carolina, which was purchased as new construction. We have squeaky floors – wood floors – primarily in the kitchen, in front of the sink. Originally, we – there were shims placed between the joists to even the floor after we moved in. But after a first frost, there were raised areas of flooring, particularly in the kitchen. And some of the shims were removed to even the floors once again.
Currently, we’re selling our house and my concern is that when the purchaser employs a home inspector, that the squeaky floors would be so obvious that we would need to resolve the problem. And I wondered what you would suggest we do.
TOM: I was a home inspector for 20 years and I’ve never ever, in those 20 years, reported squeaky floors as a structural problem.
TOM: So, on that point, I don’t think you have a lot to worry about unless you have somebody that really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Sometimes, if you get an inspector that is really under-skilled, they will take the minute, normal occurrences of a home and turn it into a major issue. But that’s it.
It is kind of annoying. And trying to figure out why it squeaks requires you understanding which part of that floor assembly is moving, because it’s evidence of movement. So, if there’s movement between the subfloor and the floor joist underneath, that could be one source. Or if there’s movement between the finished hardwood floor and the subfloor and the floor joist, that’s another type of movement.
You can deal with all of this if you were to be able to identify where – from the top side, from the kitchen side – the floor joists are underneath that area that’s loose. And then you can drive what’s called a “trim screw,” which is about as wide as a finish nail, with the proper prep. Which means you have to pre-drill the floor. But you can drive a couple of those into the hardwood floor to kind of tie it all together. And once you do that, you’ll find that you’ll quiet it down quite a bit. And the size hole that you’ll have to fill is no more than the width of a finish nail.
DONNA: OK. So the key is finding the joist, I would guess.
TOM: Floor joist. And there’s a way to do that, too. And you can do that by measuring it out or you could simply get a stud finder – a stud sensor. They have them today where they’re good enough where they can actually see through 2, 3 inches of building material and find the floor joist below with great precision. Stanley makes a number of very good-quality and inexpensive stud sensors that can do that.
But don’t panic. A squeaky floor is pretty much typical and it’s not indicative of a structural issue.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. It’s just more annoying. And I think one of the benefits of you saying – you know, you seem to have so much knowledge of the shims and what’s going on there. It makes me feel like you have access to the thing, so it should be fairly easy for you to get to the bottom of.
DONNA: Alright. Well, thank you so much for that information. It’s encouraging.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Coming up, patios should be for collecting friends and family, not collecting rainwater. We’re going to have some tips for keeping the water off of your outdoor space, when The Money Pit continues.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com, where you can find top-rated home improvement pros you can trust. Call in your home improvement question, 24/7, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Or post your question on The Money Pit Community section, just like Heather did.
Now, Heather writes: “ I have a concrete patio. It holds water when it rains and then turns green in the middle. My husband seems to think that the builder didn’t put a plastic barrier. How can I fix this or keep it clean? Thanks for your help.”
TOM: You know, your husband is right in that plastic often goes under concrete but it doesn’t go under concrete patios. You only use it under the floors inside your house, like when cement slabs are poured in basements and crawlspaces and even sometimes in garages. But for patios, you want water to drain off and you want it to drain through.
Your problem is that your patio doesn’t do that because it’s not sloped properly, Heather. And unfortunately, this is almost impossible to fix at this stage of the game. I mean you could put an additional layer of an epoxy compound of – an additional layer of concrete that’s specially formulated to stick to old concrete on top of that but it’s a difficult, messy undertaking.
And frankly, because it’s a patio, I’d rather just see you tear it out and replace it. It’s not that big of a deal and almost just as much work as would be to recoat the whole thing. You’ll be surprised that the average 4- or 5-inch-thick patio slab can be broken up with a jackhammer in probably a half-hour or less. And a little bit more time to cart all that away and pour a new one.
And when you do pour it, you might opt to do something like a paver patio, which doesn’t even require concrete underneath it and it looks really attractive. You just want to make sure you prep that base. That’s where most people make mistakes, whether they’re patios or pavers. They don’t prep the base. It’s got to be properly prepared with the right layers and the right kind of material and tamped down and sloped properly. And if you do that, you’ll no longer have any drainage issues and it can really last you a heck of a long time.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post here from Jake who writes: “I have plaster walls in my house and they have cracks. I’ve tried to fix the cracks with paper tape and nylon wall tape but the cracks keep coming through. How can I fix them permanently?”
TOM: Well, cracks in plaster walls are pretty typical. It would be unusual to see a house that didn’t have them. When the plaster is first installed, it’s troweled through what kind of looks like wood sticks called “plaster lath.”
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Well, it gives it something to stick to otherwise.
TOM: Oh, I’m sorry, yeah, it’s either wood lath or plaster lath. But it’s troweled on and then it sort of spreads and that’s how it sticks to the wall. And when it cracks, as the structure settles, it’s pretty normal.
Now, one thing you can do with this kind of crack is you could use a repair product that’s like a plastic washer. It’s like a fender washer, in a sense, that it’s really wide and has a small hole. And essentially, you screw it right into the crack and it grabs both sides of that broken piece of plaster and pulls it in tight. And then you put a couple of layers of plaster over it or even drywall compound on top of it. And that will sort of secure it in place.
But I’d only do that if the plaster was really, really lose. If it’s just a normal crack, I wouldn’t worry about it. But if you feel like it’s in danger of falling, then I would try to repair it.
LESLIE: I mean plaster really does take a lot of upkeep. You have to really want to maintain that traditional plaster look and keep that in your home. But it takes work.
TOM: It does, it does. But we call it “charm.”
LESLIE: Right. It really is gorgeous.
It’s funny because our houses are both 100 years old. And mine has plaster walls in some areas and then you can see where the new pieces went up that are drywall. So I’ve got the mix.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thanks so much for stopping by, spending a little time with us. We hope that we’ve fueled your passion for fix-up around your house, for décor, for repair, for improvement inside and out. If you’ve got questions, check out our website at MoneyPit.com. Community section right there. There is, I think, about 1,000 answered questions there right now, plus even more articles on the site at MoneyPit.com, as well as videos. You can also follow us on Facebook, on Instagram, on Pinterest. Or you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and Google Play.
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.
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