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: What are you working on on this beautiful fall day? If it’s your house, you’re in exactly the right place because we’re here, too. I know. Don’t look around. We’re not standing behind you but hey, we’re here to help you with your home improvement projects, your décor projects. Look, the holidays are, what, two weeks away now? Gosh. If you are thinking about doing a quick fix-up before the guests show up, this is the time to get going and we’re here to help you do just that. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call that number. We’ll chat about your question. We’ll give you an answer and help you get going on that next how-to project.
Coming up on today’s program, vacation season’s upon us and that also means it’s the time of year when burglars like to strike. So, we’ve got some tips on how to secure the weakest entry point to your house. You know what that is? It’s your garage door. Isn’t that crazy? We’re going to show you how to tighten it up real quick.
LESLIE: I know. It’s pretty darn easy to get in there if you’re not careful.
And also ahead, have you ever had to deal with a drippy and leaky faucet? It’s pretty annoying, if you have. Well, faucets have really come a long way with better valves and finishes. We’re going to share how you can find faucets that really deliver years and years of drip-free use.
TOM: Plus, it’s tailgating season. And if you love gathering around a tailgate for a game, we’ve got some tips on how to stay warm. And an important warning about what not to do unless, of course, you want to set a group of cars on fire, which is exactly what happened not too long ago at a Giants game.
LESLIE: Oh, geez, Louise. That’s the craziest story. Really, such a crazy story.
But first, we want to hear from you. So give us a call. Let us know what you are working on. As you know, this time of year I will also answer a turkey-cooking question. I am never afraid to help out with a Thanksgiving turkey.
TOM: It’s like your personal Butterball hotline, yeah.
LESLIE: It really is. So give us a call. We’re here to lend a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: And hey, if you do call, we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat because we’re giving away a brand-new smart-home product today. And this one could actually help you avoid major water damage in your home. It’s really cool. It’s called the Streamlabs Smart Home Water Monitor.
Now, what it is is an easy-to-install device that helps you monitor your water usage in real time and get updates to your smartphone. Now, there’s no plumbing required. It installs over top of the pipe. It connects to your Wi-Fi and then it uses ultrasonic technology to track water use. Why is that important? Because it’s going to alert you, in real time, of changes in water pressure or use, like what would happen if you got a big leak. Imagine you’re on vacation this time of year and the main water pipe breaks in your house. It would really stink to find out about that, what, a week later? With this, you’ll find out immediately and you can take action.
The product is worth 199 bucks. It’s going out to one caller drawn at random, so pick up the phone and make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joan in South Carolina is on the line with a countertop question. How can we help you today?
JOAN: I’ve always gotten granite countertops because of the durability factor. And this time, I was thinking of getting marble. I like the looks of a white marble with a gray vein going through it.
LESLIE: Oh, the Carrara marble that every person loves right now, right?
JOAN: Yeah. I was told that it scratches really easily, though. So I was wondering if that’s true and if it is true, can it be sealed like granite can be?
LESLIE: Well, Joan, you’re right. Carrara marble – I mean generally, when you think of kitchen, even a bathroom, granite seems to be the number-one choice. It’s much more hard, I should say. It’s harder than marble and it’s sealed. Marble can also be sealed. But let’s talk about the differences here.
Carrara marble, first of all, has seen a huge resurgence. It’s very popular in a lot of spaces. It’s gorgeous. You’re right: it’s white with the gray veining. And you can pick your slabs to have more veining or less veining, so it really can be a very, very beautiful piece.
Now, in kitchens, because the marble is softer than granite even though, yes, it’s a hard surface, it has just a more innate softness to it so that it can scratch more easily. But I think more importantly is it can stain more easily. And in a kitchen, you’re prone to a lot more things that could potentially stain the marble surface.
Olive oil. A lot people don’t think that oils would stain something but because the marble is softer and therefore more porous, even with the sealer, it can suck in that oil and then leave a stain or a discoloration within the marble itself. Tomato sauce, lemon. Lemon will also stain the surface.
So I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m just saying you have to be very careful with it. Because I too love Carrara marble in a kitchen and I’m actually considering doing it myself. Well, not putting it in myself but putting it in my own kitchen. But you can seal it. Anytime you go with anything that’s a lighter color, like the Carrara, it has to be sealed more often. Some places are going to recommend once a year. You would want to have it professionally sealed and at the same time, if you did encounter any staining or scratching, they can sort of resurface it a little bit to create a fresher look and then seal it again. So it’s going to take a lot more maintenance.
And I’m going to tell you, Carrara marble is expensive. I just did a Carrara slab for my fireplace and it’s funny. I thought I bought a Carrara tile and a Carrara slab for the fireplace surround and the fireplace for the hearth. And I thought they charged me for both and I ended up paying 400 bucks for all the tile. And I thought it also included the slab and I was like, “Wow! I got such a great deal.” And then I got a phone call that said, “And here is your bill for the slab. We had to wait until they cut your piece. It’s $1,200.” And I was like, “Ugh.”
So, Joan, I know that you’re thinking, “Don’t go with the Carrara.” But if it’s because of the price and it’s because of the maintenance, look at some of the quartz products. There’s Zodiac, Cosentino. There’s a whole bunch of different brands out there and I forget which one but one of them – and if you go to Home Depot, they actually have it – has a quartz product that looks just like Carrara and it’s half the maintenance. It’s actually zero maintenance.
JOAN: Oh, wow. That’s good to know. Well, maybe I’ll look into that again. I think you’ve talked me back into it again.
TOM: Alright, Joan. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dan in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DAN: I have a back porch that I turned into a salon and – for my wife. And it was never insulated out there. And I’ve insulated the walls and ceiling and I need a way to insulate the floors. And what it is – it’s just about a foot off the ground, at the front of it, and maybe a foot-and-a-half at the back of it. And there’s not really a good way to crawl under there and try to insulate. I was wondering the best way to try to insulate that to keep the pipes from freezing.
TOM: Yeah, that’s going to be difficult because you have no access to that space. In a perfect world, you’d be able to get under there and push some fiberglass batts underneath the floor but you can’t do that.
Now, what kind of flooring is down from the top side? Is there any way you can remove that floor and insulate and then reinstall it?
DAN: No, not without great difficulty. It’s got old, 2×6 flooring with sheeting on top of that and then I’ve got a laminate-type flooring on top of that.
TOM: Mm-hmm. So the flooring is finished, too, correct?
DAN: Yes, yes.
TOM: I don’t have a good solution for you, because you have no access to that space.
DAN: Very, very little access around the edges. I can get to the edges and insulate around the outside but I wouldn’t even know…
TOM: If you could get creative and get those insulation batts up and pressed up under that floor, that’s going to help. But it’s very difficult.
You know, one thing you could also consider doing is spray-foam insulation. A spray-foam pro might – might – be able to get the tools back down into the nooks and crannies of that floor space to be able to foam it and sort of work their work out. Spray foam, you spray it and it expands. There’s a very significant expansion ratio of maybe 100 to 1 or so. So if they put a thin coating on the inside of the floor, it will fill up to 8 inches or 10 inches thick. So that’s a possibility but again, it’s tricky.
DAN: And I got – I ran plumbing and water, so I need to somehow …
TOM: Well, if you ran the plumbing and the water, why didn’t you insulate the pipes at the same time?
DAN: Well, I was planning on – I thought there’d be a way to insulate around the outside of it or insulate – I ran everything through a window, through the basement, to get out there. So I’ve got airflow through my basement, so if I could somehow insulate around the edges, I think it would – might keep it enough to …
TOM: Right. You might want to dig out some of that crawlspace, create kind of a Yankee basement there. Not enough to do anything more than crawl in there but you may need to lower some of it to get access to that space and do all – everything that you need to do. That’s a problem when you convert spaces like that. They were never intended to be a living space when they were first constructed, so they’re very challenging to work around, just like you’re experiencing.
DAN: Yeah, I’m finding that out. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We know you guys are so very, very busy this time of year. That’s why we are here to lend a hand and try to make a lot of those things that could seem difficult be a lot easier. So give us a call or post your questions to The Money Pit Community page at MoneyPit.com or call us 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 and book appointments online.
TOM: Still to come, holiday season is peak season for break-ins. Is your garage door your home’s weakest link? Find out how to tighten it up, 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: We’d love to hear from you about your home improvement questions, your décor dilemmas, what projects you’re working on to get ready for the seasons ahead. Call us, 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.
LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call because we’re going to help you out with whatever it is you are working on. But we’re also giving away a brand-new smart-home product today that could help you avoid major water damage in your home.
It’s called the Streamlabs Smart Home Water Monitor. Now, it’s really easy to install and it’s a device that helps you monitor your water usage in real time. And then you get updates on your smartphone. I mean we’re all looking at the smartphone all the darn time, so it might as well be telling us something useful.
There is no plumbing required. It installs over the pipe and connects to your Wi-Fi and uses ultrasonic technology to track your water use. And more importantly, it’s going to alert you, in real time, of changes in water pressure or use. And that’s what would happen if there was suddenly a big leak. So it’s really, really super helpful. It’s a smart way to save water, take control of your water bills and stop leaks before the big damage sets in.
It’s worth 199 bucks. You can check it out at StreamlabsWater.com.
TOM: That Streamlabs Smart Home Water Monitor going out to one listener at random. Is that you? It’s only going to be if you pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement or décor question, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carol in Rhode Island is on the line and needs some help with the exterior of her home. How can we help you?
CAROL: I have a 115-year-old Queen Anne Victorian. Twelve years ago, I replaced all the columns on the porch and they’re rotting out again. And they’re finger-jointed columns and I was told they were installed incorrectly, so I’d like to know the correct way to install them.
TOM: Why were you told that they were installed incorrectly?
CAROL: I was told that because the top was not sealed with some kind of flashing, that there was snow and rain getting in the top of the column and it was rotting the column from the inside out.
TOM: Well, that may or may not be the case. Certainly, you need to pay attention to water control when you do a project like that. It’s hard for me to imagine – usually, columns sit underneath an overhang. But if there was some aspect of it that was exposed, then maybe that could be the case.
Another area to make sure you keep it off the ground is at the bottom of the column. We usually advise columns be put on something called a “post dock (ph),” which is like a plate that keeps it up a ½-inch or an inch off of the floor or the slab, depending on how this is built, so that you have some room for the column to dry out and not collect water. But generally, any time you have water that collects in an area, you are going to have rot.
Now, replacing these columns is not a do-it-yourself project, so you need to proceed very carefully with this, because those columns hold a lot of weight and that weight has to be transferred while the repair is being made.
CAROL: So let me ask you this. I’m thinking now of replacing them with the new fiberglass or composite columns, whatever they’re made out of. And I was told by a friend of mine that I should still have some kind of a steel pole inserted in the middle to hold the weight of the porch.
TOM: Yeah, it depends on the column. There are those types of composite columns where there’s, essentially, a metal column, like a Lally column, that does all the work – the structural work. And then the decorative column kind of snaps around that.
CAROL: Oh, I didn’t realize that.
TOM: Because the composite itself may not be load-bearing. In fact, it will be unlikely for it to hold – to handle – almost any weight whatsoever.
CAROL: Thank you for the information. It’s confirming what my friend told me. He’s not a carpenter, so I was questioning him.
TOM: You tell him he’s very smart. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, we’re coming up on vacation season, which means we’re also coming up on peak break-in season. Now, the FBI says that there are more than 400,000 burglaries in November and December alone, so it’s a great time to improve home security. And one place to pay attention is your garage door.
TOM: Yeah. And garages can be surprisingly easy to break into but there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
First off, if you’re leaving for an extended period of time, unplug the door opener. And nowadays, since many openers have battery backups, you need to remove the battery, as well.
LESLIE: Yeah. And that, I think, is something a lot of people forget about doing.
Next up, you want to install a manual, sliding, bolt-style lock on the inside of your garage door that can only be opened from the inside. You have to just remember to enter through your front door when you return.
Also, if your garage door has windows, cover them up and that’ll keep any prying eyes away.
TOM: And listen, if you’ve got a door that leads from the garage to the house, make sure that door is as secure as any other entry door, with both a keyed and a deadbolt lock. So many times, we see those doors just have the handle lock and not the deadbolt and that makes them really easy to break into once a burglar slides through that big, old garage door that we just talked about.
Hey, if you want some more holiday home security tips, they’re online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Jim in Washington is on the line and is having a door issue. What’s going on at your money pit?
JIM: Well, I have, actually, two doors with a similar problem. Gradually, it’s grown worse over the last several years. The door does not fit tightly up against the weather-stripping. And I’ve finally resulted (ph) to putting in small wedges. And this is a front door and a door to the garage. To keep it pressed up against there, I have replaced with new weather-stripping twice but it still doesn’t get up there tight. What can I do to correct that, outside of replacing the door?
TOM: So, if you close the door and you push it tighter closed, does that make the seal?
JIM: Yes. And that’s why I’ve resorted to …
TOM: So then why didn’t you just replace the – why didn’t you just adjust the lock?
JIM: I don’t know how to do that. I didn’t know you can do that.
TOM: OK. So, basically, what you need to do is – where the lock strike is – OK, that’s the metal plate in the jam?
TOM: You need to move that closer to the weather-stripping so that the door has to actually shut more before it latches. Because you need that weather-stripping to compress a little bit before it latches.
Now, does this have a deadbolt on it?
JIM: Yes, it does.
TOM: Well, you could probably just do it with a deadbolt. Sometimes the deadbolt – if you just push in the door a little bit, put some pressure on it, then turn the bolt so you kind of create that seal, that would make a lot more sense than trying to wedge it against that. Because that’s exactly what the lock does: it holds it – holds the door tightly closed. So I would adjust the lock and forget about the weather-stripping for the moment.
Are these wood jambs with the weather-stripping sort of inserted into a groove?
JIM: Yes. Yes, they are.
TOM: So those pieces of trim with the weather-stripping inserted into it, those usually will come off the door. So another thing to do here is you could take that weather-stripping – those pieces – off and actually move that. It’s, essentially, a piece of trim. Move that closer to the door and reattach it, as well.
So, either way, you need to basically get the door closer to the weather-stripping. The easiest way to do it is just to adjust the lock, though. So you’re adjusting the striker, not the lockset. You’re adjusting the strike: that metal plate that’s in the door jamb.
JIM: OK. And because, naturally, that’s screwed into there, do I just fill the old screw hole with …?
TOM: No. What you do here is you unscrew it. You pull it out, right? And then you move the plate closer by a ¼-inch or whatever gap you have to close, OK? You’ll probably have to notch out the door jamb to fit the new one. Then look at how the holes line up. You may be moved over far enough where you actually will have a shot at making a brand-new hole and you can ignore the old one.
If you can’t, what you want to do is take a small piece of wood. I usually use pieces of cedar shingles. I put a little glue on them, I shove them in the old screw hole, break them off flush to kind of create a wood plug and then you can drive a new screw next to it.
JIM: Fantastic. Alright. I think I will try that first. And if that doesn’t work, then I’ll try moving the trim.
TOM: OK. Good luck, Jim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, you know, faucets have really come a long way. They’ve got better valves and really beautiful finishes. Richard Trethewey, our favorite plumber from This Old House, is joining us next with tips on how to find faucets that can deliver years and years of drip-free use.
TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is presented by ADT. Introducing ADT Go, the new family mobile safety app and service. Get ADT Go with 24/7 emergency response with any ADT security system. Go to ADT.com to learn more today.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’d love to hear what you’re working on in your money pit. Listen, to us, a money pit, well, it’s a term of love, it’s a term of endearment. We all have a home that we’ve got to pump some money into now and again and we’re here to make sure you’re doing it right, doing it once so you won’t have to do it again. So pick up the phone and give us a call. Join the conversation. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT and it’s presented by HomeAdvisor.
Do you need some flooring in your kitchen, maybe your bath? Maybe you need a new roof? Are you thinking about popping on a deck this fall so it’s good to go next spring? HomeAdvisor can instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
LESLIE: Well, if your old faucets are hard to operate, emit strange sounds or are constantly dripping, it might be time to think about replacing them.
TOM: And the good news is that faucets have come a long way, with better valves and finishes that can deliver years of flawless faucet performance. Here to walk us through the process of picking the perfect, new faucet is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating expert for TV’s This Old House.
RICHARD: Hello, guys.
TOM: Now, many of these faucet woes can be repaired but sometimes, especially with the better technology of faucets today, does it make sense just to replace it?
RICHARD: Well, I think we’re reaching a point that it’s become a replace-versus-repair market for faucets.
TOM: Yeah. In so many things, right?
RICHARD: I mean man, just in the years I’ve been in the plumbing industry, we used to keep an inventory of every kind of repair part ever.
RICHARD: And nowadays, I think the cost of labor is so high for the plumber and the people just say, “Just change the faucet out.” So we’re seeing people change a faucet with much more regularity.
But you’d know you’d want to replace it if the finish is completely pitted and looks really dirty or if the drip – and even after you do repair it, it means that you just – there’s nothing more you can do to it. And then, some people change it for style that …
RICHARD: “I’m in a place right now that my kitchen – I think it’s a little dated. It might be time for me to actually get a new faucet.”
LESLIE: No, I think choosing the style, as difficult as that could be sometimes, is kind of the easy part in the entire process.
RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
LESLIE: Because when you dive a little deeper, what they’re made of – there’s so many different components.
RICHARD: That’s right. Yeah.
LESLIE: How do you know what’s right for you?
RICHARD: They all look shiny on the outside but it’s a question of what they’re made of.
TOM: Yeah, right?
RICHARD: And so, I’m a believer and feel very strongly about a good brass faucet. It’s still time-proven to be the best material for being able to work and turn on and off and last for a good period of time.
So, they have – solid-brass bodies are available. The downside of that is that they’re the most expensive. And then you’re seeing more plastic. It’s ironic. The plastic stuff is getting better than I ever dreamt as far as being non-corrosive and some of the finishes. So I would take – brass would be my first choice. Ironically, plastic would be my second and I think zinc alloy would be my third.
TOM: And the plastic is a great entry-level faucet if you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money.
RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. The other thing is it’s amazing what the technology behind plastics nowadays.
RICHARD: It’s not just plastic goo that’s going to fail; there’s some real engineering in it, so …
TOM: Yep. Now, finish is another consideration that really determines how long you’re going to put up with that faucet.
RICHARD: Yeah. That’s right.
TOM: Like you said, if it’s all faded and pitted – but there have been some advances in the plating that’s used on finishes today, where you can get smudge-free finishes.
RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, yeah.
TOM: And some finishes – I’ve seen finishes that you can literally rub with steel wool and it doesn’t dull.
RICHARD: That’s right. When we first did anything but chrome – say you did the polished brass. Within a year or two, the lamination, which was covering the brass, was gone and it was pitted. It looked like it had the measles, these things.
Nowadays, these finishes are unbelievable. It’s that same finish that is used on some of the higher-end door hardware that’s available, where you’ve got some of these door knobs and door accessories that the finish is beautiful and it lasts forever. And so, the choices are really dramatic. Once you go to those finishes, now it becomes a decorative part of the kitchen. You can sort of think about how to use this as part of the decoration plan.
But the finishes that always catch my eye is just pewter and nickel. That nickel – I like the nickel finish. It’s not quite a chrome but it’s got a little …
LESLIE: It’s got an interesting color to it.
RICHARD: Yeah, yeah, it really does.
RICHARD: And in the first days we used to offer it to people, we were always worried we wouldn’t be able to get the soap dishes and all the other accessories or all the other things – but nowadays, you really can. These finishes have become very real and very available.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think that the finishes that are available today – whether you go with a satin, nickel or something that’s more of a polished finish on that same color – you’re still seeing that same durability, that same resistance to smudging, the toothpaste stains, all of that.
RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. That’s the big difference. It used to be that if you were brave enough to go to a gold or polished brass or polished nickel, you had to suffer the fact that within a fixed and finite amount of time – three to five years – you were going to be mad at it and you had to change it again, so …
LESLIE: Satin, nickel. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Yeah, you’d be tired of maintaining it, yeah.
RICHARD: That’s right. Yeah.
LESLIE: Now, I think when we think about advancements in faucets, a part of that brings us to what universal design is or accessibility.
LESLIE: And it’s interesting to see that something as common in a commercial space – hands-free faucets – are really entering the home marketplace.
RICHARD: Yeah, absolutely. This technology was just – it was a dream at one point, you know. It was like magic that it would work.
LESLIE: Kind of like The Jetsons.
RICHARD: Right. And so, what – and this was an interesting innovation where it started in the commercial market but now it’s coming back to the residential, as you said. So, we see it all the time now. There’s one that we just showed on the show that – just a single touch to it. You can touch it and bring it on and off.
So, all these sort of cool sort of Jetsons-type stuff, at one time, is now very, very doable. And I think, from a hygiene standpoint, not having everybody touch these handles – so you can say, “Oh, we just washed them.” No, you didn’t.
TOM: Yeah, with …
LESLIE: And I think, in a kitchen, how many times are you handling raw meat or poultry or something and then you’ve got to then turn on the water to wash your hands.
RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. Yep. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah.
LESLIE: Now you’ve contaminated the hot and the cold, the soap dispenser, everything.
RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah.
LESLIE: So when you’re seeing more of this hands-free technology in the water-dispensing and in the soap-dispensing, from a germ and ickiness standpoint, it really is nice to know that it’s out there.
RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. I think I’m still most partial to a single-lever handle in a kitchen. You can use it like a gear shift on your car where you shift from hot to cold and on and off. And that, to me, is the most functional. I think hands-free would be my second choice and the least favorite, for me, is these two separate handles, hot and cold, to your point, having your hands all gunked up trying to adjust them.
But there’s some choices. It’s pretty fun.
TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey. He is the plumbing-and-heating expert on TV’s This Old House.
Richard, final question. There seems to be another benefit of replacing faucets today and that is the valve technology. Ceramic disk valves have really become sort of a part of the mainstay now, in terms of how these are made. And what I love about ceramic disks is that the longer you use them, the tighter they get.
RICHARD: Yeah. That’s right. And so, for people who don’t know, instead of having a rubber washer – which was a big part of our family business: going out and replacing the washers on faucets. And they would last a fixed period of time because you were turning that handle and just wearing out the rubber. With this, these two, finely-milled ceramic disks are together and they’re so beautifully milled that no water can pass between them.
And so – to your point, Tom – the more you use it, the more it hones the stones, so to speak. And it just runs and runs and runs. It’s a revolution, really, I think, in faucet technology.
TOM: That’s a great point.
TOM: Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating expert on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on the facts on faucets.
RICHARD: Good to be here.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of 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 The Home Depot.
Up next, for many of us, it is the most wonderful time of the year: football season. But before you head out to cheer on your favorite – it is for me. Before you head out to cheer on your favorite team this winter, you want to make sure your tailgate is poised for victory. So we’ll have tips for a winning tailgate, coming up, along with some safety warnings about how not to burn the entire parking lot up with your hot charcoals when you’re done.
LESLIE: I’m sure it was a good party and it probably makes for a good story.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire the pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros, for free.
TOM: So, Leslie, you know I’ve got some kids in college right now. And I’ve learned something about the housing market that surrounds college campuses. And I thought it might be a good time to offer a few warnings for college parents about off-campus rentals. Because about this time of year, what happens is the kids are already looking for the house or the apartment or the condo for the next school year. They start really, really early. And the problem is that there are a ton of companies out there that prey on the desperation that these kids have to make a really rash decision.
And the kids are not savvy enough because, yeah, they’re technically adults, right, but they’re not – and they’re legally old enough to sign a lease but they aren’t legally old enough to understand that lease. And you see a lot of crazy things.
For example, a lot of these companies have fine structures that charge kids for what they call “normal wear and tear.” And that might be changing a light bulb. I’ve seen fees of $10, $20 for changing a light bulb.
TOM: I saw a punch list on a move-out once where a real-estate company actually charged the kids that were in this place for debris that was left behind. Let me define debris: one Bounce dryer sheet tucked between the dryer or the washer and the dryer on the floor.
LESLIE: Get out of town.
TOM: They actually took – they took the time …
LESLIE: What about all the socks that are in there?
TOM: Listen to me. They took the time to photograph the Bounce dryer sheet, put it in a report, assign a value to it and send it to the parents to get paid. It was crazy.
LESLIE: What was the value?
TOM: I think it was an $8 charge for removing the Bounce …
LESLIE: Get out.
TOM: I swear, I swear.
LESLIE: You know what? That must have been an unused dryer sheet. I’m just saying.
TOM: Right. But this is the best and I just saw this yesterday, which made me think about it. The lease, right? These leases are horrible. You would never, as a landlord, use a lease like this. They’re just so horrendous for the kids but they have all kinds of charges.
And one that I saw was the routine-maintenance fee. On top of the rent, they threw 1,000 bucks on for routine maintenance. When I asked the realtor what that was all about, she said, “Well, when you move out, they have to repaint the place.” I’m like, “You own the house. You’re supposed to do that as a landlord: repaint when you move. That’s not routine maintenance.” There’s just a hidden fee for additional profit.
And the other thing is I was writing this real-estate agent. She didn’t know who I was or what I did. And I had some questions about the lease. So she referred me to the lease video on their website. I thought, “Oh, this is interesting. Let me take a look.” I kid you not, they had a guy in a chair reading a 20-page lease word for word.
TOM: That was the lease video. Word for word. I said to my son, “If you ever have trouble sleeping, here’s the video to watch.” So I mean these guys are crazy.
And what happens is with these bigger leasing companies and all these fees is I think they try to keep it right below the pain threshold for parents, right? So think about – you’re a parent, you’re paying these fees and these rent fees every month and now there’s a 10 fee – $10 fee for this, $20 fee for that. But these companies are doing it times tens of thousands of units across the country, because some of them are big companies. That’s a major profit center for them. And it’s all based on these little, tiny rules and regulations that they set up so that they can make more money.
So, you’ve got to be careful with your kids. Try to let them know this is going to happen and to not be pressured by the need to make a rash decision. There’s usually plenty of housing. If you don’t get the first house, you’ll get the next and so on. Because you’ve got to really watch what they’re signing. It’s crazy what they try to get out of these kids. And the colleges do nothing about it because they’re all off-campus.
LESLIE: It’s crazy. Well, good luck out there, kids.
Hey, if you enjoy tailgating, now is the time of year when those gatherings get pretty darn cold, which is why a little tailgate barbecue grilling can help warm the soul. But if you do decide to cook at the tailgate, you need to make sure that the fire is out before you go in and enjoy the game.
TOM: Yeah. And this little known fact escaped some Giant fans recently when they left hot coals in the parking lot, setting seven cars on fire.
LESLIE: It’s amazing.
TOM: Seven cars. You know, they were cooking with charcoal and of course, it’s not the best choice for a tailgate because it takes hours for those coals to go out.
Now, some stadiums offer these special disposal areas, probably like metal trash cans.
TOM: But really, think about this. With all those people around and all the drinking and the ball-playing and the cornhole-toss games, do you really want to be walking hot coals through the parking lot? Hey, what could possibly go wrong, right?
LESLIE: A lot. It’s really crazy. You’re so much better off with a small propane grill that you can turn on and turn off when it’s time for the game and know it’s off.
TOM: And today’s Common Sense Tip brought to you by 888-MONEY-PIT. Call us, right now, with your home improvement question. We’re ready to lend a hand.
LESLIE: Still ahead, everybody loves those good, old details in kitchens, like cast-iron sinks. They certainly last for ages and ages but they do need a little upkeep. If yours is looking a little worse for the wear, can you bring it back to new? We’re going to jump into The Money Pit community and answer that question, next.
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: Now, you can pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or you can go online, post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page or perhaps our Facebook page or our Pinterest page and ask your question that way, which is what Grant did who is looking to do a low-cost kitchen makeover it sounds like.
What is Grant asking us, Les?
LESLIE: Alright. Grant says, “My kitchen countertop is tile and my old, cast-iron sink has begun to rust. Can the sink be replaced without removing the tile around it or is there some product that I can use to sand down the sink and recoat it in place?”
TOM: Yeah. Grant, you should be able to get that sink out without taking the countertop apart or at least too much apart. You want to use a tile saw to kind of grind or saw the grout out around that sink, to create a little bit of a gap between the sink and the tile. Of course, you need to remove the plumbing and then work that sink loose. You’ll be surprised that with a cast-iron sink, they’re so heavy. There’s really not much that holds them in place except the grout around them and the plumbing below.
Now, you asked about whether or not you can redo that sink and maybe leave it in place and just kind of resurface it. The answer is no. It’s not really an option. I mean cast-iron sink finishes are baked on by the manufacturer and there is absolutely no over-the-counter product that even comes close to replicating that level of durability.
So I would focus on getting it out and then just replacing it that way. It’s a great project. It’s going to take you pretty much, I would guess, the whole weekend. But listen, if you break any of those tiles, set them aside. You can probably put them – if they come loose, you just set them aside. You can probably reglue them back in place.
And if you do break any, a little trick of the trade: find a complementary tile color to surround that – just the sink with. And this way, you’ll have extra pieces.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post here from Jesse. Now, Jesse writes: “The vinyl flooring in my kitchen has yellow stains around the perimeter and near the floor vents. I suspect that the stains are from glue used to install it. I’ll be installing new laminate flooring soon. How do I make sure this doesn’t happen again?”
TOM: You’re right on it with that. That’s a chemical reaction between the glue and the flooring. But the new floor you put on top of that, it won’t happen because you were talking about laminate. Laminate is a floating floor, so it’s going to sit on top of that old floor. Or you could remove it down to the substrate. Either way, you’re not going to have that glue stain come back again.
Now, just be careful when you put the laminate down. It’s going to be about ¼- to 3/8-inch thick. You don’t want to go too high and block in your dishwasher because then you can’t get it out if it ultimately breaks down, which is going to happen, and you need to tear it out. If the flooring is higher than the legs of the dishwasher, you’ll end up having to take your countertop off to get the dishwasher out.
Don’t ask me how I know. It wasn’t my house. It was my – it was another – it was a family member’s but I had to take the whole top out to get the dishwasher out once, because the installer had blocked it in with tile. What a job.
LESLIE: It’s amazing when a simple project becomes an entire day and frustrations flare. That is Tom’s dishwasher story.
TOM: “You want to help me change my dishwasher, Tom?” “Oh, sure.” I’m thinking it’ll take a couple house. No, no. It was like all freaking day.
LESLIE: I’m sorry.
Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Bosley who writes: “Dear my angels.” No, I’m kidding. Bosley writes: “My mounted bathroom mirror is wedged in and glued to the wall. It extends more than 8 feet across and 3½ feet from top to bottom. I want to remove the mirror and replace it with framed mirrors but I have no idea how to get it off the wall. What’s the best way to do it?”
TOM: Yeah, exactly. You don’t want all that bad luck when you break the mirror, right?
No, listen, there’s a little trick of the trade of this. There’s really two methods. First of all, you could just cut the drywall out and that might be the safest thing to do. You, of course, are going to have to replace the drywall. But the other way you can do this is you can run a wire saw behind the mirror and kind of slice through the glue and then the mirror will come off. Even if you did that, though, you’re going to probably damage the drywall so much that I would go back to option A and just cut it out and put a new piece of drywall in place and call it a day.
LESLIE: It’s a lot of work. It’s more work than you think.
TOM: It is a lot of work.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thanks so much for hanging out with us for today’s show. If you’ve got questions, couldn’t get through, hey, we get it. You can always reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 or post your questions to The Money Pit’s Community page. We’d love to lend a hand.
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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