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 so glad to be here with you on this beautiful day, to help you with your home improvement projects, your décor projects. Whatever you are working on in your money pit, slide it over to our list by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s program, we’re going to talk a bit about multigenerational households. You know, whether it’s college graduates that are coming home to live in your basement or if you, as parents, are moving in with kids to avoid the cost of housing, hey, why not, right? But the bottom line is that more and more people are living in these multigenerational households right now. So we’ve got a list of tips to make that space work better for all those involved, just ahead.
LESLIE: And when you’re tackling a project that involves lumber, you head on over to the store, you look at all the different types of wood, what they’re made of, what the length of the board is, all the different things. And sometimes, it can seem very overwhelming. Well, if you think that’s overwhelming, think about what it’s like when it comes to picking up vinyl fencing. So many choices out there. So we’re going to tell you which ones will really stand up to the test of time, which is what you’re looking for.
TOM: And now that we’re in the dreaded dog days of summer, we’ve got some easy ways to save water on the house without giving up green grass, strong showers or even toilets that actually flush.
LESLIE: And speaking of green lawns, fall, it’s not too far off, guys. And those lawns are soon going to be covered by falling leaves. We’ve got a great product to give away that can make leaf cleanup simple and fast.
TOM: That’s right. If you pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat for the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower worth $249. It comes with a battery and a battery charger. It’s lightweight; weighs less than 8 pounds. It’s going to help you get that leaf cleanup done around your yard super quick. So, give us a call, right now, or post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Tyler in South Dakota is on the line who’s got some unwanted visitors in the yard: moles. Have you bitten it more than once in the yard, due to their little hole-digging?
TYLER: Yes, it’s actually been quite the adventure having those little, friendly guys in your yard.
LESLIE: And they’re so adorable, aren’t they?
TYLER: Yeah, they are. They’re wonderful.
So, we’ve been having this problem with moles and I think what this animal is called is called a “vole” – v-o-l-e.
TOM: Vole. Yeah, very similar to a mole.
LESLIE: It’s like a mole/hamster.
TOM: The reason they’re there, Tyler, is they’re looking for food. And specifically, they’re looking for grubs.
TYLER: Oh, that was – I was going to ask you about that, because my backyard has been hit by these dry patches which, I just found out, I think are grubs.
TOM: Yeah. It all is making sense now, right?
TOM: Because the grubs are in your lawn, they’re killing your lawn. The moles are probably saving part of your grass, because they’re eating the grubs. But what you need to do is get some grub control at GrubEx on that lawn. And that will get rid of the grubs. And once the grubs are gone and there’s no food left, the moles will move on naturally to your neighbors and try to find where all the grubs are living.
TYLER: Every six weeks? Every six months? How often do I put down this …?
TOM: Just follow label directions. And some of these products, you put down once a season.
TYLER: Sounds great. Oh, that’s very helpful. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tyler. Good luck with that project. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Estella in Alaska is on the line with a question. What’s going on at your money pit?
ESTELLA: We just purchased, actually, last month a strip mall. And they built in 1984.
ESTELLA: And our fascia part is aluminum and metal all around the building. And the front is, I think, clear-coated wood siding. I think at that area maybe it must be very popular.
ESTELLA: And the boards are so faded. It looks so ugly. I’d like to paint it, the fascia part, a metal and clear coat. I don’t know. Some people say stain, some people say clear coat on the wood.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
ESTELLA: And I’d like to get rid of all that, put really nice paint over it and brighten up the building and the model looking …
TOM: OK. Well, if the siding itself has a clear sealer on it or a clear coat, then staining it is going to be very difficult. Because stain relies on the absorptive qualities of the wood. And if it was sealed, you’re not going to get it all out because it’s down deep in the pores.
In that case, you’re better off just sanding it lightly, putting on a primer. And that’s really important. You have to make sure that your painter applies a very good-quality primer. I would recommend a solvent-based primer, which is like an oil-based primer, because it has the best adhesion, the best sort of stickiness. And then once the primer has dried good, then you could put a topcoat over that of whatever kind of paint you want. But if you don’t do it in that order, what’ll happen is that paint won’t last nearly as long and you’ll find yourself doing this over and over and over again.
So it sounds like a beautiful building and a nice project but you’ve got to do it correctly. Because if not, the paint won’t last. You’ll get a lot of peeling and that’s going to kind of make you pretty sad after doing all this work.
ESTELLA: Oh, I see. OK.
TOM: OK? Because the primer is different than the topcoat. The primer has different qualities. It’s sticky, it adheres really well to the base – in this case, siding – and the topcoat, which is where you have the color, sticks to the primer. But if you just put the paint on over the wood as it is now, it probably won’t stick because it also has that clear coat underneath it. And you’re just not going to get the absorption.
ESTELLA: Oh, I see.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the best home service pros in your area. You can read reviews, compare prices and book appointments online.
TOM: Just ahead, high housing costs, rising interest rates and the obligations of the so-called “sandwich generation” are driving a new trend in housing: multigenerational living. We’ll have tips to help make sure you all can get along, after this.
Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by to help you out with your home improvement and décor projects. What are you working on? Hey, if it’s an outside project, you’d love the product we’re giving away this hour. We’ve got the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower going out to one caller drawn at random.
This puppy comes with the battery and the battery charger. It’s super powerful. Delivers wind speeds of up to 540 CFM. That translates to 140 miles an hour. So just imagine, that’ll be how fast the leaves will be blowing off your property with this Backpack Blower. Weighs only 8 pounds and it’s nice because it’s hassle-free.
I’ve got a lot of these Greenworks battery-powered tools. I’ve got the chainsaw, I’ve got the string trimmer. And I just love the fact that there’s no mixing, there’s no mussing with the oil and the gas. You just pop in the battery and you are good to go.
We’ve got that Backpack Blower going out to one caller. Now, if you’d like to win it, here’s how it works: call in your question, right now, to 888-MONEY-PIT or post it online to MoneyPit.com. Doesn’t matter when you’re hearing the show, we will draw one listener from the list of those that call or post, every single week. And that one lucky person is going to get that Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower worth 249 bucks.
LESLIE: Gloria in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
GLORIA: Yeah. Oh, hi. I’m calling about the product SUNDEK. It’s also called Kool Deck. And I really just find – it’s that product that keeps your feet very cool? I had a pool put in and so when you get out of the water, it’s nice and cool on the feet; you don’t have the hot cement.
But I find it very hard to keep clean. It looks kind of unsightly and when it rains, it just seems to attract dirt. Prior to the SUNDEK, I had cement and I found that it dried very quickly. I could take the hose and it was all very fresh. And this product just tends to hold water. I believe it’s an acrylic base. I just wondered, you know – I don’t know if I could even have it removed somehow, kind of with some solution or if there’s some suggestion about how to take care of it.
TOM: Gloria, I don’t think you have to remove or strip the Kool Deck paint to get it to clean it. Kool Deck is actually made by a company called Mortex – M-o-r-t-e-x. Their website is Mortex.com. And they make not only the Kool Deck but they make a cleaner that can be used on top of that; it’s a commercial-quality cleaner.
So I would go to their website and look up the Kool Deck product, look up the cleaners. There is a website – there’s a – sorry, a link and a telephone number there where you can call and purchase the product. I don’t think you’ll find it in a home center or a hardware store; you may have to go direct. But we have the technology. No need to repair or replace what you have. You can keep it clean.
GLORIA: Well, thank you so much. That’s going to be wonderful. I really appreciate your help.
LESLIE: Jason in Delaware is on the line and needs some help with an electrical update at their money pit. Tell us what’s going on.
JASON: Hi. Well, let’s see. We bought an older home: probably like 1940, 1950. It’s a great home, no doubt about it. We thought we were going to have a bunch of problems: we thought we were going to have to replace the roof, we thought we were going to have to replace the foundation. But it’s pretty much like somebody built the house and never really lived in it.
TOM: I think we’re getting to a “but.” Everything’s great but what’s happening?
JASON: But the breaker box is outdated. And the total cost of replacing that – hiring a certified and professional contractor and everyone – or the electrician to do it – is going to cost us around $5,000.
TOM: Alright. Why do you say it’s outdated? What’s wrong with it?
JASON: It’s a 100-amp box.
JASON: And you can’t run more than two air conditioners in the house at one time.
TOM: Take a breath. I’ve got great news for you, alright?
JASON: What’s that?
TOM: You don’t have central air, right? You’re running window units?
JASON: Window units.
TOM: You do not need a new panel. A hundred amps is way more than enough power to run that house. What you need …
LESLIE: Unless you’re planning on making those updates.
TOM: Yeah. What you need are some new circuits, which are easier to run.
TOM: You see, the reason you’re tripping those breakers is because whatever circuit those air conditioners are on is pulling more power than that one circuit can handle.
Now, most circuits that go to bedrooms, for example, are 15-amp circuits. You put an air conditioner or two on a 15-amp circuit, it’s going to pop, especially an older air conditioner that’s not as energy-efficient, because it’s going to start pulling more power. And if you happen to have those two air conditioners on the same circuit, there’s not a chance that you’re going to be able to run that when you have to.
What you do is you add more circuits. So you add another circuit that’s just for that air conditioner, from the point where it’s installed to the panel. Put that on its own 15-amp circuit and there you have it; you’re done. No $5,000 for a new panel.
See, this is another example – when electricians come in and they size you up and they give you a price on doing a job that you really don’t need. A hundred amps is a lot of power. I doubt in a house that’s probably gas-fired – is that right? It’s gas-powered?
TOM: So you have a gas-powered house, so you’ve got gas heat, gas stove, gas water heater. You know, if you pulled 30 amps when everything was running in that house, I’d be surprised. So you don’t need a new box; you need more circuits.
JASON: OK. Well, thank you, guys, so very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Save the money. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, according to the Pew Research Center report, the number of Americans living in multigenerational-family households has continued to rise, with a record 64 million people. Or that’s about 20 percent of the U.S. population living with multiple generations under one roof.
TOM: Although many families make do with their existing homes, others are driving demand for new homes that are specifically intended for the multigenerational family. Now, builders are responding to this need by offering homes that are designed that way so that multiple generations can live under the same roof.
LESLIE: That’s right. For example, a typical multifamily floor plan would include a private living room, bedroom, full bath, kitchenette and a single-car garage. Now, there’s a separate entrance, as well as a door into the main home, so that occupants can retain their privacy but also feel close, like a family.
TOM: Wouldn’t it be nice if we had that when our kids were small? “Sorry. Mom and Dad are in the apartment.”
LESLIE: Oh, my God. Can I still have that?
TOM: Well, listen, even if you don’t …
LESLIE: I would want that now.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Just a place to escape to.
But seriously, even if you don’t currently need a multigenerational home, if you’re planning to buy a house in the future, you might want to think about this. Or if you’re updating your house, think about ways that you can improve your home so that it works well for every generation in your family.
888-666-3974. Hey, we’ll help you with projects related to that task and so many more if you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steve in Nevada has got a project he’s working on. Tell us about it.
STEVE: I was building a chair mat out of 5-foot by 5-foot piece of plywood, in which I laminated – I glued some laminate flooring on.
STEVE: Unfortunately, the Liquid Nails didn’t quite hold and I think I know why. I think I put it down when it was cold and I clamped it so tight that the air didn’t get at it. Finally, it took weeks to dry and it dried and it held.
TOM: Oh, boy.
STEVE: What’s the best laminate – best adhesive to use on laminate flooring going on plywood?
TOM: Well, typically, you don’t put an adhesive on laminate floor going on plywood.
LESLIE: It just kind of floats there.
TOM: Yeah, most laminates today have a lock-together joint and they just float there. And you leave a ¼-inch gap between the floor and the wall, then you put trim over top of it.
STEVE: OK. But see, my system – my situation is unique. I live in an apartment. I’ve got a medium-pile rug with a soft pad underneath.
STEVE: Every kind of expensive floor mat under the sun cracks. And you can ask anybody at the floor-supply store.
TOM: Oh, I see what you’re saying. Yeah.
STEVE: Because what it is, the pressure of the wheels – it’s like the size of your baby’s fingernail – it cracks all the plastic.
TOM: Yeah. Right.
STEVE: So I went through buying $200 ¼-inch-thick PVC mats. I throw them all away.
TOM: Didn’t work, huh? Yeah.
STEVE: What I finally did was build out my own mat out of 5-foot by 5-foot plywood with laminate flooring.
STEVE: That’s the best thing of all. It rolled nice. I got it to match my carpet. But the thing is, next time when I glue it, what should I use to glue the laminate to the plywood? Because you have to glue it because it’s just a little island in the middle of the room, you know?
TOM: OK. So does the laminate interlock? Did you have a type of laminate where it locks together?
STEVE: Yeah. It does interlock, yep. But remember, I’m rolling the chair on this, too: a 55-pound chair with a 150-pound guy. So there’s a lot of pressure – lateral pressure – on this, too.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean I would have thought a construction adhesive would work. Contact cement will work but it depends on how difficult it is for you to assemble these pieces. Because contact cement is just that: once you make contact, it doesn’t come apart.
STEVE: Right, right.
TOM: Have you ever worked with contact cement?
STEVE: Yeah, I have, believe it or not.
TOM: Well, you apply it to both surfaces. And they have a lot – but they have a lot of different formulations of that, so …
STEVE: Oh, I didn’t know that.
TOM: Oh, yeah. And also, in your case, I suspect that the problem wasn’t the plywood; the problem was the laminate floor, because it’s a laminate.
STEVE: Yeah. Right.
TOM: So, it’s not going to stick. It has nothing to really grab onto. So that’s why it (inaudible) …
STEVE: Yeah, I roughed it up with a sander, too. I used a medium-grit sandpaper and I sanded every – the back.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah.
STEVE: Because you’re right: it’s kind of a shiny, glossy finish and you’ve got to get that off, too.
TOM: Yeah. How big is this piece when it’s all done? How big is your pad?
STEVE: OK. It’s actually 50x55x67. I made it big so I can roll the chair back. But it actually came out pretty nice.
TOM: What if you were to assemble this entire 50×50 square upside-down, right? So the good side is facing down on a big workbench or a very flat area of the floor, right?
STEVE: That way, yeah.
TOM: And then once it was all locked together and perfectly square, then you coated the whole square with contact cement and you coated the plywood with contact cement. You get a buddy and you drop it in one time, being very careful to get it lined up right. Flip it over and you’re good to go.
And then what you might want to do as a final step is to trim the edge. And if it doesn’t line up just perfect, like around the outside edge, don’t worry about it. I’d go so far as to make it an inch wider and an inch longer than what I needed. And then when it was glued together …
STEVE: Oh, yeah. We did. We routed the edges, sir. Yep. We routed the edges, too.
TOM: Right. Well, what I was going to say is that I’d make it an inch bigger all the way around. And then I would take my circular saw and make four clean cuts so that the edges of the laminate and the edge of the plywood aligns perfectly. Then you could put a nice piece of trim around it.
Say, however you want to do it, that’s fine. But I think contact cement – which has a little give to it and is really tough stuff. And I wouldn’t use the water-based. I’d use the good stuff. Use the solvent-based.
STEVE: Oh, OK. Use the one that really stinks. That’s the one that – the strongest one.
TOM: Alright? Yep. Really stinks.
STEVE: Right, right.
TOM: The smellier the better.
TOM: Well, good luck with that project. That sounds like a fun project and I’m glad you finally figured it out.
LESLIE: Landscaping contractor Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House is a guy who has probably installed enough fencing in his career to surround the entire city of Boston, maybe even twice. He’s going to be joining us with tips on vinyl fencing, just ahead.
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.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. And 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Caitlin in Iowa is on the line and needs some help restoring an old bath. Tell us what’s going on.
CAITLIN: Hi. My husband and I moved into our 1917 farmhouse about a year ago. And our main bathroom only has a clawfoot tub and we would like a shower in it. So I was wondering if you had any tips on restoring the clawfoot tub and installing a shower kit.
TOM: So, you want to keep the tub, right? You don’t want to put a separate shower. You just want to basically plumb up a showerhead into that, correct?
TOM: Since it’s a clawfoot tub, if you disconnect the plumbing, then you can get that out of the house. Because the best way to refinish that or resurface that is to send it out to a company that does that. Because if you do it in the house itself, they can come in with acids and they can etch the old finish and they can add a new finish and then they can bring in heat lights and bake it on. But I’ve found that it doesn’t work nearly as well as basically sending it out to a place that’s set up to re-enamel a tub. And then you’re going to have one that really lasts for the long haul.
And after that, installing a shower kit to that is pretty much a plumbing project. Lots of places, like Restoration Hardware, have kits or you can find them online. Or you could basically plumb up the pipe that comes up and then arcs over for the showerhead. And you need a circular shower curtain – shower bar above it for a curtain – and all that’s easy. But the hard part is getting the tub re-enameled.
CAITLIN: OK. And how costly is re-enameling a tub?
TOM: It’s probably not as expensive as buying a new tub and it’s going to last indefinitely.
CAITLIN: OK. Well, thank you for your advice.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s a slice of the American dream: a little house with a white picket fence out front. But what do you do when that dream’s paint starts to chip?
TOM: Well, you might never have to worry about that if you choose a vinyl fence. Landscaping contractor Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House, is a guy who has probably installed enough fencing in his career to surround the entire city of Boston. And he’s here to fill us in on the options available in vinyl fencing today.
ROGER: That’s a lot of fence.
TOM: It sure is. You sure have hung a lot of sections in your day and of course, you started, like we all did, with just wood fencing. But the last decade has really been the decade of vinyl fencing in that particular industry. It’s got a lot of advantages, doesn’t it?
ROGER: Well, it’s come a long way since the first pieces we saw and now it’s good because you can get stuff, especially at the pro level, that’s really heavy fencing, that will really stand up to even gusts of wind to 75 miles per hour.
TOM: And kids and dogs and slamming gates.
ROGER: All that good stuff, too, yeah. I don’t know how it does with a baseball but we’ll find out about that.
TOM: Now, there are different levels of vinyl fencing. You know, I guess we could probably put them in the budget and the high-end sort of category. The budget. What are you giving up when you go for the budget level of vinyl fence?
ROGER: Well, it’s a thinner material. It’s got a little more spacing in it. The detail probably isn’t as good as the high-end. The fitting-together, the parts are not going to be as tight as the more expensive pro one will be.
LESLIE: Roger, what about yellowing? I know that tends to be an issue with certain grades of vinyl fencing. Is it really the more you spend, the less it will yellow?
ROGER: They have a process where there’s two layers on it. And the outside layer on a good fence is a titanium oxide and that’s the part that keeps it from yellowing. So if a fence has that, it’s not going to yellow.
The other thing that bothers me sometimes is the shininess.
ROGER: When you drive down the road, you can still see that shiny. But they’ve come up with some that almost have a buff exterior on them now and it’s come a long way.
TOM: We’re talking to TV’s Roger Cook, from This Old House, about vinyl fencing.
Roger, what about installation? How does this differ from sort of the standard wood-fence install?
ROGER: Pretty much the same. It’s panels and posts that go in together. But some of them have posts that you have to fill with concrete to make them structural, especially if it’s a gate. You have to go do extra work on that part of it. But they just snap together. The wood ones slide together and these ones snap together.
LESLIE: And what about maintenance? Any sort of cleaning tips? Anything you have to do?
ROGER: It can mildew. You get vinyl – anything vinyl can get mildew on it. But that’s simply – a little Clorox bleach and spray it on and wash it off and it should take care of it. But other than that, it should be – you know what they say: vinyl is final.
TOM: Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: My pleasure.
LESLIE: You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and a step-by-step video on vinyl fencing and other projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by American Standard.
And just ahead, now that we’ve hit the official dog days of summer, it’s a good time to think about how to manage your water use to keep utility costs down. We’ve got five easy projects that you can take on to do just that, in today’s Building with Confidence Tip presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, next.
Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
We’d love to help you get started on your next home improvement project, so give us a call or post your home improvement question to The Money Pit’s Community page or call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: And 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. They really do have the best local pros for any home service.
LESLIE: That’s right. Doesn’t matter what the project is, they make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros.
TOM: And there’s no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use. Check out HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got David from Illinois on the line who’s got a question about a well system. How can we help you today?
DAVID: It’s my son’s well. He has a well in his house and it – the water system has air pockets in it quite often so that the water will be running and then an air pocket will expel water.
DAVID: And sometimes, it’ll shoot out of the sink or what-have-you. And so, I was wanting to know what you can do to get rid of the air pockets in a well system.
TOM: Does the system have a pressure tank on it, David?
DAVID: It has a pressure tank, I believe.
TOM: That sounds like a problem with the pressure tank. If the pressure tank is missing or if it’s not installed properly or if the bladder has failed, then you’re not getting a chance to build up pressure and then feed off the tank. You might be feeding directly from the well, which could account for the air blast.
So the first thing I would do is look at the pressure tank, see what kind of condition that that’s in. That’s most likely what’s causing the air getting into the lines. I think that’s the best step, OK?
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Now, you’ve got a chance to win a super-great prize and all of you do, as well. Give us a call, right now, or post your question online for a chance to win the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Backpack Blower with battery and battery charger.
Now, it’s super powerful. I mean it delivers wind speeds up to 140 miles an hour. You can make your own leaf tornado right out front of your home. It’s pretty amazing. It’s lightweight; it really weighs less than 8 pounds when it’s fully operational. Now, that’s 17 pounds lighter than a comparable, gas-powered backpack blower. It’s got hassle-free operation, no gas or oil to mix or pour or spill on the floor. Not that that ever happens. You just push the button to start it. It really works that easily.
Check it out, right now, at GreenworksTools.com.
TOM: And that 60-Volt Backpack Blower is worth 249. If you’d like to win it, you’ve got to be in it. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to Mel in Arkansas who’s got a question about a shower. What can we do for you today?
MEL: Well, we need to change a tub into a shower. And it is for a handicapped person that uses a shower chair. And everything that we are finding so far is a fiberglass-type stuff that is not rated for the person’s weight that’s going to have to be using it. And they use a shower chair. Any suggestions on how to stabilize it so that it’s not going to break through when the shower chair goes in it?
TOM: You’re looking at zero-threshold showers that basically are flush with the floor?
MEL: Not necessarily. It doesn’t have to be the zero-threshold but it needs to be a shower, not a tub.
TOM: Right. OK. So, when you put in a fiberglass shower pan, you’re right: sometimes there’s flex underneath of it. But there’s an easy trick of the trade to deal with that. And that is that you can mix up a concrete mix or a cement mix or mortar mix and basically, you put it underneath the pan while it’s wet and then you press the pan down into it. And what that does is that takes out all of the space between the pan itself and the floor. It provides a rock-solid base to that fiberglass shower stall. Does that make sense?
TOM: Alright, Mel? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, now that we’ve hit the official dog days of summer, it’s a good time to think about how to save water around the house. So to help, we’ve got five easy projects that you can do, starting with finding and fixing leaky toilets.
Now, while toilets themselves don’t really ever wear out, the moving parts certainly do. And the result could be leaks that could waste a lot of water. We’re talking about 78,000 gallons of water in one year, which is pretty much enough to fill an entire backyard pool.
So, if you want to see if your toilet is leaking, it happens very slowly. It’s almost invisible. So to do this test, pour a little food coloring in the tank. And then, after about 20 minutes, take a look at the bowl and see if the dye shows up. If it does, you probably need a new flush valve. Good news is that’s a part that costs just a few bucks. Pretty easy to install yourself but will save you a lot of wasted water.
LESLIE: Now, next, you could upgrade to a toilet that uses less water itself. If you happen to have a unit dating before 1994, you want to replace it with one of the WaterSense-labeled high-efficiency toilets. Those are going to be labeled HETs and they’re pretty much available everywhere. And they use only 1.28 gallons per flush versus the 3.5 gallons per flush of older, less efficient models.
TOM: Now, next, you could try to reduce the water usage at the sink by installing high-efficiency bathroom faucets that are WaterSense-certified. Now, that’s a program that’s kind of like ENERGY STAR but it covers your plumbing faucets and fixtures. And that will reduce water flow by about 30 percent without sacrificing performance, which is really important, especially when you’re talking about toilets, right?
LESLIE: Truly. The other thing you can think about doing is extending water savings with a smarter shower. Everybody always goes back and thinks of that Seinfeld episode. It’s not like that. You’ve got to think about this, guys: 17 percent of your home’s water use goes towards showers. But the new and improved technologies behind today’s smart showerheads give you a really strong shower using far less water.
TOM: Now, a lot of water gets wasted outside. I really hate when I drive down the street and see sprinklers that are watering sidewalks and roadways. It’s a total waste.
So, you need to be careful about your outdoor irrigation. Make sure that your sprinklers are set up correctly. Make sure they’re aimed properly. You can also switch to a WaterSense-certified sprinkler head, which is going to reduce the amount of water. Or you can go all the way with a drip-irrigation system, which is the best way to irrigate any plants, because it basically delivers the water right where it needs it, at the root, and has very little evaporation compared to a traditional sprinkler system, say, for your garden.
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LESLIE: John in Oregon is on the line and has a question about a wood-burning stove. What can we do for you?
JOHN: Yes. I know that they have them – they sell them. I just was wondering who actually makes them.
TOM: Wood stoves?
JOHN: Yeah. Fuel efficient. I guess they’re more efficient than the older type wood stoves.
TOM: Yeah. I mean look, all the major manufacturers are making more efficient wood stoves these days. The EPA introduced a new source performance standard that basically requires the wood stoves to measure and report how much particulate it distributes into the air. And that also plays into efficiency. So if you look for EPA-certified wood stoves that meet the 2015 standards, you’re going to be looking at a set of pretty efficient wood-stove products.
JOHN: I guess you’ve answered my question. I appreciate it very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, is your deck all cracked up and splintery? We’re going to have tips on a deck makeover that could be a lot less expensive than replacing the deck altogether, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now. We would love to hear what’s going on in your money pit. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
Hey, do you need new flooring in your kitchen or bathroom? That’s a great project for the fall season ahead. Or perhaps you are sick and tired of that deck and you want to step it up with a brand-new deck. HomeAdvisor can instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
LESLIE: Take advantage of it. They really do a great job of finding the perfect person for your project.
Speaking of perfect folks, we are jumping into the posts right now. You’ve got Tom and I answering those questions. Now, Rose in New Jersey posted: “I have a 12×20-foot deck, which is about 6 years old. Each year, I have to refinish it.”
Every year? I’m like, “Am I reading this right?”
TOM: Wow. Not quite sure what she’s using but OK.
LESLIE: Seriously. She wants to give the deck a good finish and then put a composite deck over it to cut down on the maintenance. What do you think?
TOM: Well, OK, yes, conceptually you can do just that but not, I think, in the way you’re thinking. You’re thinking of putting a finish down on the existing deck boards and then cover them. That’s not how you do this.
This type of sort of a deck-remodel project – take the deck flooring boards away. So if they’re 5/4×6 or 2×6, you’re going to pry those up, take them off. You’re probably going to take the railing off, as well. Then you’re going to use composite on that existing deck frame.
Now, I must caution you, though, this is going to look beautiful, look fantastic. But there’s a key difference between a composite board and a regular two-by or even five-quarter pressure-treated board. And the key difference is the composite board, while it’s virtually indestructible, it’s really floppy compared to the wood lumber. So, it bends much more easily. That means that if your floor joists are not perfectly flat, if they – all the surfaces of those joists don’t line up, you’re going to have high spots and low spots that’s going to cause unevenness in the deck finish, which could look pretty unsightly on a composite deck.
So, take your time after the deck boards – the old boards – have been removed to check the levelness of that deck surface. You can run a string across the whole thing. You can find floor joists that are a little bit high. If they’re crowning, which means they curve up, those can be planed or cut so that they’re flat. Get that deck surface as nice and flat and straight as you can. If you’ve got to replace some joists, do that.
Once you’re satisfied that it’s all flat, then and only then should you cover it with the new composite decking, which will look amazing. You can use some of the trim pieces on the face, the box joists all the way around. And a lot of these composite companies have beautiful railing systems that could be installed there after.
So it’s a great project. It’s going to look completely new. It’ll cost you a lot less than a new deck but just keep in mind that the composite deck boards are a lot different than the traditional lumber boards, in terms of their flexibility. And you want to make sure that’s going to look great when it’s all finished.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post here from Sharon in New Jersey who writes: “We have well water, which is very cold. In the spring and summer, the toilets sweat water and the tanks drip all over the floor. What can we do about this?”
TOM: Yeah. That happens because of the difference in the cold water or the temperature of the surface and the humidity in the air, especially in homes that maybe are not air-conditioned.
And so, a couple of things you can do. First of all, you can reduce humidity in your house as much as possible. Secondly, you could install a valve that spills just a tiny bit of warm water into that toilet water. And that will actually take the temperature down so you get it beyond that condensation point, that dew point. There actually is a valve designed to do just that. Or you could insulate the inside of the toilet tank.
So, three ways to stop that condensation problem from forming water and dripping all over your bathroom floor.
LESLIE: Alright. And those are all fairly easy to do on your own.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show coming to you on this beautiful summer day. Well, I mean it is here. I hope it is in your part of the country. And we thank you so much for tuning in to the show this hour. If you’ve got questions about your home improvement projects, your décor dilemmas, didn’t get a chance to pick up the phone or go online and post those questions to the Community page, remember you can do both of those things, 24/7, by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT or posting at MoneyPit.com.
But for now, that’s all the time we have. Thank you so much for listening. 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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