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 the holidays are now, what, two weeks away? So if you’re planning on fixing up your house before everybody shows up, you’d better get going. The good news is we’re here to help. If you’ve got a home improvement, a décor question, a remodeling question, maybe you’re planning a project for now or the near future or the next year, we’re here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re sort of your home improvement coaches. So give us a call, right now, with your how-to question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up in today’s show, have you ever seen this: a gorgeous, wall-mounted, high-def TV that’s surrounded by a gazillion wires? Well, you don’t have to live with that if that sounds like your house.
LESLIE: That’s the worst.
TOM: There are some ways to make those wires magically disappear and you’ll never have to see them again. We’ll have some tips on how to take on that project, just ahead.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, do you feel like you throw that same, old holiday party every year? Well, we’re going to help you kick that déjà vu to the curb. We’ve got some ideas for gatherings that your guests will remember for years to come. And none of these ideas are going to cost you more than a few bucks.
TOM: And if you’re doing a good job recycling plastics in your house, you probably drag them all out to the curb each week: all those cartons and containers and milk bottles and stuff. And once you do that, you don’t ever expect to see them again. Well, what if we told you that those plastics may have actually returned to your home in the form of, say, furniture or décor, carpet, wall hangings, all sorts of things? It’s amazing what they’re making with recyclables these days. We’re going to give you some updates on all of that, coming up.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear from you. So let us know what you are working on this almost-holiday season. Yeah, it’s almost the holiday season, so you’d better be grocery shopping and painting and getting new linens and fixing up your house, because the people are coming a-knocking and it’s happening soon. So give us a call before they do at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Plus, if you do give us a call, we’re giving away a brand-new smart-home product today. It could go out to one caller drawn at random. It’s made by our friends at Streamlabs and it’s the Streamlabs Smart Home Water Monitor.
This is pretty cool because, basically, what this is does is – it’s a very easy-to-install device. It helps you monitor your water usage. It does that in real time and it sends those updates to your smartphone. Now, why would you want to know how much water you’re using? Because it also detects changes in water pressure.
So, for example, if you were to get a big leak, you’re going to have a change of water pressure and that would be important for you to know fast, right? Well, it’s worth 199 bucks and it’s a new, cool, smart-home product that’s just out in the market. And we’re giving it away to one caller, so make that you. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mary in Virginia is dealing with some tricky wood flooring. Tell us what’s going on.
MARY: Well, in our bedroom, there’s a hump in the floor – I mean in the flooring. The house has all wood floors – no carpet or anything – and we don’t know what’s wrong with it. When we bought the house, a structural engineer looked at it and supposedly fixed it but he didn’t fix it. Supposedly, he put a crossbeam.
And then, when you go downstairs and look up at the basement ceiling – which is the floor of the upper bedroom, right? – you can see the cross piece but the hump is still there. So, we’ve had a couple people look at it. One flooring company told us they thought the floor had warped or something and we’d need new floors but we don’t know what it is.
TOM: So, the question is: is the deflection or the warping, is that in the floor joists or is that in the flooring material itself? What kind of flooring material do you have now? Let’s start with that.
MARY: It’s wood flooring.
TOM: Is it carpet? Hardwood? What is it?
MARY: No, no, no. It’s hardwood floors. No carpet.
TOM: It’s hardwood floor, OK. The work that the – the work that this engineer did, that was addressing the floor joists, I imagine, correct?
MARY: Well, I don’t know. Supposedly, supposedly. I’m not sure what happened. This was when we bought the house and supposedly, this fixed it.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Alright.
MARY: But to me, it doesn’t look like it’s been fixed, because there’s still the hump there.
TOM: The hump is still there, yeah.
Well, we’ve got to figure out what’s causing that hump. And it’s not unusual for a floor beam, for example, to warp or twist and press up and cause a floor to deform. But unfortunately, I have no way of diagnosing this from this view, over the radio.
LESLIE: But you can actually take some pictures and post them on our website.
TOM: Yeah, that’d be a great idea. If you could take some photos and post in the Community section of MoneyPit.com – now, I’d ask you to take some photos from the top down and also from the basement up so we can have a look at it. We might be able to give you some further advice.
But if it is a floor joist that happened to buckle, there’s a way to lower that down and it’s a repair that we used to do all the time when – and new construction was really when that happens most. How old is this house, by the way?
MARY: I think it was built in ‘68.
TOM: Sixty-eight? OK. Well, it’s a little old for this particular scenario to happen. But if it is a joist that’s twisted, typically what you do is you actually cut the joist. And you can put pressure on from above and get it to sort of lay down a bit. And then you reinforce it by putting two new joists on either side of it and create a new beam.
MARY: So you don’t need to replace the whole floor, like this flooring company is telling us?
TOM: If the floor structure is not the – is the problem, replacing the floor is not going to change that, OK? But if – listen, if it’s not really, really bad, I wouldn’t be too concerned about it with a house that’s built in 1968. Why don’t you just chalk it up to charm?
MARY: Yeah. But we’re trying to sell it in the spring and these days, everything has to be pretty much turnkey-perfect, you know?
TOM: OK, look. Here’s what you should do. Listen, if you’re getting ready to put the house on the market, go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org. Using their zip-code locator, find an ASHI-certified home inspector in your area. Because of the market and because of the issues that you’re concerned about, have your home inspected by a professional home inspector.
You’re doing this for a couple of reasons. First of all, the inspector is an independent expert that should be able to diagnose this floor problem for you and tell you whether it’s something to be concerned about or not. Secondly, the inspector will be able to identify other potential issues that could come up in the house sale and give you the opportunity to fix them or not without a buyer looking over your shoulder.
So if the goal here is to get the house ready for sale, let’s not speculate on what’s going on. Let’s get a trained set of eyes in there that is – and somebody who’s not working for a contractor trying to sell you flooring or God-knows-what-else. And let them look at the house and figure out what’s going on. And this way, you’ll know and you’ll have the time to do the job right, OK?
So, again, the website is ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.o-r-g.
MARY: OK. Thank you.
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 Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online, for free.
TOM: Up next, did you pay big bucks for a top-notch flat-screen TV in high-def picture but now you’re staring at all those ugly wires you need to hook it up with? We’ll have tips to make that mess disappear, 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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project. Hey, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, we’d love to chat. But most importantly, if you’re a do-it-for-me kind of home improver, we can help you, too. If it’s a project you don’t want to do, you just want to make sure you’re hiring the right people or getting it done right, we’re happy to lend a hand with some tips and advice on that project. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s fast and easy to find top-rated local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone or post your question. And if you are lucky enough to be selected by The Money Pit team, we’re giving away a brand-new smart-home product today that could help you avoid major water damage in your home.
Now, it’s an easy-to-install device that helps you monitor your water usage in real time and get updates to your smartphone. No plumbing is required. It installs, actually, over the pipe and then connects to your Wi-Fi. And it uses ultrasonic technology to track your water use.
Now, here’s the really important part: it’s going to alert you, in real time, if there are changes in water pressure or use. And that’s what would happen if there was a really big leak in your house. So, basically, you’re getting notified right at the point of it happening. And that could save you thousands of dollars in damage, not to mention it can help you save money on your water bills.
So, check it out online at StreamlabsWater.com or try to win it for free by calling or posting your question at MoneyPit.com. It’s a prize worth 199 bucks, so check it out today.
TOM: The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That Streamlabs Smart Home Water Monitor is going out to one listener drawn at random. Give us a call, right now, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Andrew in North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with shower-drain issues. What’s going on?
ANDREW: When you take a shower, about a couple minutes after the water has been running, it’ll start to back up, to some degree, into the shower itself. And if you take a plunger and you use the plunger up and down, up and down maybe four or five times and you pull it up, all of a sudden, as the water starts to go out slowly, you’ll get a slurping noise. And then you get through taking a shower and it’s running out. But you can go back in and 20 minutes later and the same thing happens again.
TOM: Right. So you know what that slurping noise is?
ANDREW: No, sir.
TOM: It’s your shower drain gasping for air. For some reason, that shower drain is not vented properly. So as the water drains out, you create sort of a suction and that’s what slows it down. And so I suspect with you using that plunger, you’re freeing up that suction and loosening up the water so it has a chance to grab enough air and go down.
Was this shower added after the home was built, by any chance?
ANDREW: No, sir. It’s been that way and – of course, the plumber said there was nothing wrong. I said, “Well, there has to be something wrong.”
TOM: Yeah, if you’re getting a gurgling sound like that, you’re not getting enough air in it. And so it sounds to me like you probably need to add an additional vent. This is assuming that there’s no clog there.
ANDREW: Right. Because we used – my wife has used Liquid-Plumr, I’ve used a plunger, the plunger, the plungers and it goes out. But then when you stop, the same thing happens again.
TOM: Right. Well, I wouldn’t use the chemicals. What you could do is run a snake down that line and make sure it’s clear.
TOM: Just to make sure there’s no hair or any other kind of gunk that’s trapped in there. But generally, when you have a drain like that that’s gurgling, it’s looking for additional air. And it usually means that the vent is not there or the vent is obstructed and that’s what’s really going to be the source of this: making sure we have enough air in there.
If you had to add additional vents to it, depending on how easy or difficult it is to get to that line, it is possible.
ANDREW: I appreciate your help and thank you, again.
TOM: Well, a wall-mounted flat-screen TV can provide great views of touching moments and touchdowns. But sometimes, it can include a sight that’s not so appealing: all those dangling cords and wires.
LESLIE: Now, this is where cord-management systems come in. They’re covers that are designed specifically for the job and they can be painted to blend in with your wall colors. So, basically, they just disappear. They hide an ugly problem and then they disappear completely. It’s a win-win.
Now, if you’re not looking for one of those cover systems, you can try a variation on the same project, which is using a door threshold. And those are designed, as well, to protect cables because they do have that notch on the back side. And then you can hide everything behind them. It keeps them out of eyeshot when they extend across doorways. It really is a great way to keep things in check. And such a simple project to do and it really just buttons up the whole look of a room, so give it a try. Everybody will be so happy.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pam in Florida has a porch question. How can we help you today?
PAM: We live on the water and in Florida, there’s a lot of wind on the water. We’re close to the Gulf of Mexico. And we have a screened porch with aluminum railings and the wind keeps blowing the screen sections out. We’ve tried all different types of screens and double-screening them and all different types of splines. And I wondered if you had any better ideas for us.
TOM: Are we talking about on doors or windows?
PAM: We’re talking about screen sections on a screened porch.
TOM: Screened porch. OK. And so, how big are these sections?
PAM: Probably 4×6.
TOM: Pretty big. Are you using vinyl screening or are you using metal screening?
TOM: Yeah, I think that’s the issue. The vinyl screening is pretty soft and pretty flexible. Not very sturdy. I think you’re going to need to use a heavier-gauge screening in order to make this more permanent. And you’re also going to need to consider not only the attachment points – I’m not quite sure how you’re doing that – but it’s got to be super-secure. And you might want to add grilles to divide that up into a bit smaller space. It could be a thin grille but it could – but a grille would give it some additional strength.
So I think you’re going to need to use much heavier screening and not vinyl screening, OK? Because I think putting on a double layer of the vinyl is going to really not get you where you need to be. It really should be heavy metal screening when it’s that – when it’s a 4×6-foot area.
PAM: Right. Do you know if metal screening comes in a fine enough mesh to keep no-see-ums out?
TOM: Oh, yeah. It comes in different mesh densities and different gauge metals. You’ve just got to find a good source or supply down there for it.
PAM: Thank you very much. Appreciate the help.
TOM: You’re very welcome.
LESLIE: Doug in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DOUG: I’ve got a 30-year-old home here in Northeast Texas. Wanting to know the best way to upgrade my insulation in the attic. It has what I would call – it looked like a recycled newspaper, maybe, blown in there. Probably about 2½, 3 inches thick. And wondering if I could just blow a new type of insulation on top of it. Or do I need to do preparation first?
TOM: Yeah, you can add additional insulation and that makes a lot of sense. But I would not put new insulation on top of that old insulation. Because the old insulation is probably settled down, compressed and it’s not insulating as well as it should. So what I would recommend is that you remove the existing insulation.
Then, if you want to go with blown-in, there’s actually a product out now that allows you to do your own blown-in insulation. It’s from Owens Corning and it’s called AttiCat. And the way AttiCat works is you go to your local Home Depot and you purchase the bags of AttiCat insulation. And if you buy 10 bags, they will give you the blowing machine for free. The rental – there’s no charge for the rental.
And then the blowing machine gets positioned outside your house or in your garage or whatever. The insulation packages slide into it. It’s almost designed as a slot; you put it right in the side. You take the hose up to your attic and it’s remote-controlled, so you can turn the machine on and off and control the flow.
And then, this type of insulation gets into the nooks and crannies, it expands nicely and it’s low dust. So it’s a very easy way to do your own blown-in insulation and get a really good, contiguous, solid application of insulation in that attic.
LESLIE: And a targeted application, as well.
TOM: Yeah. And you could do a whole house in about four hours.
DOUG: OK. Great. Well, I appreciate the advice. I’d like to maybe get a big vacuum cleaner to get the old up.
TOM: Yeah. The new insulation will go in in four hours. Getting the old stuff out, though, that’s going to be a day. Good luck with that project.
DOUG: Alright. Thank you for your help.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to go to Pat in South Dakota. You’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PAT: We have a problem with our deck. We need to replace it. And we have investigated using composite materials and find that that’s really expensive and I don’t think we’ll be able to afford to do that. So, we’re wondering about how well using cedar as the flooring and then using the composite on the rails would work.
LESLIE: I just actually put composite in our screened-in porch as a replacement to some old lumber that was there that just needed constant upkeep, even though it was a screened-in porch not fully exposed to the elements. And I found, believe it or not, the cost of the decking material and the cost of the railing material, from the same manufacturer, were the exact same price. Equally expensive.
So I don’t know if you want to mix it up in that capacity. I mean yes, maintaining a spindle or a railing system is a lot of work, if you were to go with a cedar or a pressure-treated type of lumber, but I don’t know that you’re going to save that much money there by going with a composite railing system.
TOM: And also, cedar does require a lot of care. I know that it’s insect-resistant and decay-resistant but if you don’t stain it, it’s going to crack and check and split. And in doing so, you’re going to have to restain it every few years, so it is going to cost you some money. And I wonder, on a lineal-foot basis, how much you’re really saving.
I don’t know what kind of composite you priced out but the composite that’s available at home centers – like at Home Depot, the Veranda product – it’s not terribly expensive. And it’s really pretty indestructible stuff. Once you put that down, you don’t have to worry about it any further in terms of any type of maintenance.
So, I would think carefully about using cedar over composite because I think that it’s going to be a fair amount of maintenance expense for you. It looks great for a year, then it gets all dark gray and blackish and then you’ve got to stain it.
PAT: OK. Well, that gave me the information. I can go forward with it.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, are your holiday parties starting to feel like a case of déjà vu? Well, a few simple steps can break up the monotony and have you hosting an event that your guests will never forget. We’re going to have some money-saving holiday-party tips, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Do you have a home improvement question, a décor dilemma? Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
Do you need new flooring in your kitchen or bathroom? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
LESLIE: Peggy in Louisiana is on the line with a concrete question. What can we do for you today?
PEGGY: Well, we have a slab-concrete bottom and they built up with the board skeleton and it’s covered with vinyl siding. And being Louisiana, it rains a lot. And the rain comes on the porch to where it’s eating the inside wall, which is wooden on the bottom. And I want to know how I can seal the outside vinyl siding to concrete slab to keep the water from coming in.
TOM: So what’s happening is that your concrete slab is in contact with the bottom of the vinyl siding? Is that correct?
TOM: And right under that siding, is that a wood wall all the way down to the bottom where that slab is? Because typically, you’d have about 6 inches of foundation before you started the siding, at a minimum. And then the vinyl siding would start. So if your vinyl siding is going down flush to the slab, it’s going to be almost impossible for you to seal it in any way, shape or form from the outside and stop that from happening.
Your only chance would be to take the siding off and then to install some flexible flashings. There’s different types of flashing that you can use. There are rubberized flashings that are very good because you can basically form them wherever you need, to get that entire area as tight as you possibly can. And then put the siding back on on top of that.
Siding itself, especially vinyl siding, if you were to caulk that or anything of that nature, it’s not really designed to seal in that way. So I feel like you’re just going to be kind of running yourself in circles there. And while it could stop to some extent or slow down at least temporarily that leakage that you’re reporting, the only way to really fix that and to get to the bottom of it is to pull that siding off and to flash it. And we’re only talking about the bottom of the siding here, not all the siding on the house. But the bottom couple of pieces would have to come off to do this job.
PEGGY: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, from the shopping to the menu to the cleaning and the decorating, holiday entertaining is a lot of work. But whether you’re throwing an intimate dinner or a total, all-out bash, there’s so much prep that it’s easy to run out of steam or money. But the good news is my favorite party planner, Leslie, is here with some tips.
So, Leslie, you’ve thrown a lot of family parties. How do you do this without totally overwhelming yourself?
LESLIE: I really think it’s about organizing, being prepared in advance and making a ton of lists. And when I make lists, I even put, you know, notepads or sticky notes on platters that are used for what food and when they’re being served and even instructions on how to prep the food for the night. So I try to really be prepared.
But more than that, you want to take a really good look around your house and think about how that party is going to happen. Are people going to stay in one room? Are they moving from place to place? Is your furniture set up in a way that really allows for successful entertaining? You want to think about rearranging furniture into groups. Try to create small gathering areas if you’re having a large party so people have a place to sort of land and chat. Or you can move all of your furniture the perimeter of the room. And that clears up floor space in the center if you’re having an impromptu dance party or just a ton of people to the house.
You also want to make sure that there’s plenty of seating and places to put down snacks and drinks. Because if you don’t have places for people to put down those snacks and the drinks, they’re going to end up spilled on your upholstery and on the floor. And you don’t want to deal with that when you’re hosting a party. You really want to try to enjoy yourself.
Now, rather than crowding your dining table with added chairs, think about adding smaller tables. Think bistro tables, card tables. You don’t have to go crazy. Use what you’ve got. Borrow from a neighbor. And that really helps create more seating without cramming everybody around a smaller space. Or just go super casual with your holiday party and have hors d’oeurvres. It’s really lovely to just have passed foods. Do standing tables, avoid chairs altogether.
So many ways that you can make sure that everybody has a good time. But I think, more importantly, you have a good time. Because if you’re not enjoying the party, nobody’s going to.
TOM: Yes. Make your guests stand for the party. This way, they’ll get tired and they’ll leave quicker.
LESLIE: That’s right. Get them out the door.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. We don’t want you to head out the door just yet, because we’re here to help with your home improvement questions. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Scott in Missouri is on the line needing some advice on a rental property. How can we help you with that?
SCOTT: I’ve inherited some rental properties from my late father. They’re in pretty bad shape, needing roofs. And when you look at them, you can see the roofs starting to bow in. And I was wondering who I can get with to find out the building codes for rental properties.
TOM: So, probably the best thing for you to do is to hire an independent, professional home inspector. And you may have to do some interviewing of the home inspectors to find one that’s particularly savvy and experienced with commercial inspections, because that’s what you’re talking about. And there are specialists that are out there. And they can review this property with an eye towards identifying a punch list for you, of elements that will probably have to be repaired or replaced to make those apartments safe and viable for tenants.
If you go the route of having contractors do these inspections, you’re basically letting – you’re kind of letting the mouse into the cheese house, so to speak. Because they’re just going to find stuff they want to sell you to fix. You understand what I mean?
TOM: This way, you’re better off with somebody who’s an independent inspection professional who just wants to give you the right advice. And that, in the end, is going to save you money and give you the ability to make good decisions on what has to be done.
SCOTT: Yes. Who can I talk to to find the building codes and the standards for rental properties?
TOM: That would be the building department of your local municipality. And they’re going to have a set of codes that they apply to just rental properties in their jurisdiction. And it’s not necessarily going to be up-to-date building code: the same code that you would have if it was, say, a new construction. They’re going to have some safety codes that they’re going to want you to apply to your house. So we’re talking about things like, in an apartment, making sure that the windows operate so you can get out in the event of a fire and making sure you have smoke detectors in – covering every bedroom and making sure you have a carbon-monoxide detector and things of that nature.
So, they’re going to have a set of standards for their area. You need to get that list from the building department. But to the major, many bigger areas that could need repair or replacement, that’s what a home inspector would help you with. And you can find one by going to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org.
SCOTT: OK. Great. Well, I appreciate the information.
LESLIE: Hey, did you ever wonder what actually happens to those recyclables that you diligently rinse out and drag to the curb each week? Well, it turns out they’re being resurrected more stylishly than you might guess. We’re going to fill you in on what your old plastics are up to these days, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement questions on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: That’s right. 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: Phyllis in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PHYLLIS: I have a trellis. It’s on – I just have a small porch. And in the wintertime, especially, the wind comes ferociously from the Northwest. And the trellis is put up on – screwed up on 2x4s. And I was wondering – I was going to get a good grade of plastic. Should it be put on the outside or the inside of the trellis?
LESLIE: Plastic to protect from the wind or plastic to protect the lumber?
PHYLLIS: No. Plastic so the wind doesn’t blow into my front door. And I had the trellis put up so I could – in the spring, I want to put flowers that vine up there. But for now, I want plastic to keep the wind away from my front door.
TOM: Do you have a storm door on your front door?
PHYLLIS: Yes. But it still comes through.
TOM: Now this trellis as you describe it, I mean there’s a lot of different types of trellises. Is this a trellis that’s flat on the wall or is this sort of a portico where it kind of goes out and surrounds the door?
PHYLLIS: No. It’s on the porch. I imagine my porch is probably maybe 4 or 5 feet wide. But it’s on the porch, on the outside of the porch, on 2x4s.
TOM: I see. So basically – and the porch has a roof, right? So it’s not just a deck?
PHYLLIS: Right. It’s got the – it’s got a roof, uh-huh.
TOM: So you kind of want to enclose your porch, so to speak, with this plastic sheeting, is what you’re suggesting.
PHYLLIS: On that one spot, yes, where the – it’s right there as I go in and out the door.
TOM: Alright. Well, it – probably not going to be that attractive but I guess what I would do is put it on the outside. Because this way, as the wind blows against it, it’ll press against the trellis and it will be less likely to tear. If you put it on the inside, the wind’s going to go through it and it will constantly pull itself off the trellis.
TOM: So I think it’ll be securer if you put it on the outside. And as the wind blows against it, that trellis will help support it.
PHYLLIS: OK. Fine. Thank you.
TOM: Well, recycling is a great way to do your part for the environment. But do you ever wonder what happens once those plastics are recycled? It turns out that many of those plastics are showing up in home building and design. Here are just a few examples.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, they’re making their way into interior-design materials, like floor tiles and countertops. Those are made with used plastics, like milk jugs. Now, these tiles and countertops make super-durable surfaces for your kitchen, bathroom, even your laundry room. And they come in a bunch of colors that’ll suit any décor.
TOM: Now, if you’ve ever seen the very soft, durable carpeting that’s showing up in the market now, that’s increasingly being made with recycled plastics. They’re taking the plastics they use in packaging, like – and also beverage bottles. And they’re turning them into carpet or even carpet underlay. And it’s made with that recycled polyurethane. It’s amazing that this could have been a water bottle and now I’m walking all over it.
LESLIE: Yeah. And surprisingly, even furniture is made with recycled plastics and it’s available for use both inside and outside of the house. And it’s also really easy to find outdoor rugs that are woven with recycled polypropylene. Now, that’s a plastic that’s made from those yogurt cups and margarine containers. Those rugs are all weather-resistant, fade-resistant and easy to clean but not as delicious as the yogurt and the butter. I’m just saying.
TOM: Pretty tough stuff.
So, listen, the next time you put out that plastic milk jug in the recycling bin, remember it might not be the last time you see it. It could come back in the form of some furniture or carpeting or tile or whatever. It’s pretty interesting. Nice to see that we’re taking all that stuff and really making some cool products out of it.
LESLIE: Olin (sp) is on the line with a wainscoting question. How can we help you today?
OLIN (sp): Yes. I was wanting to do some wainscoting in my living room. And I’d seen some people do it with pallets, actually taking the pieces off and using the slats for the wainscoting. And I know they do treat them with some chemicals and stuff. And as long as I run it through a planer and everything, would that pretty much treat it, as long as its sealed up with polyurethane and all that to keep it from being toxic from – for the children and stuff?
TOM: Well, I can’t really answer that question because I’m not sure how they treat the pallets. And frankly, I’ve torn a lot of pallets apart in my day, as things have been delivered, and I never really had a concern about treatment and never actually can recall smelling an odor from the treatment.
OLIN (sp): Well, I never would have thought about it but I looked at some pallet ideas online and I saw where some people had done wood floors with them and the wainscoting and it just – it looks stunning, really. It was totally different-looking from what you’d think a pallet would usually be, you know. And so that’s what gave me the idea and I thought, “Well, that would be a cheap idea to use.”
TOM: Yeah. And hey, it’s an upcycling, too, Leslie. I mean you’re taking something and reusing it in a new and creative way. Better than sending it to ground to a dump.
OLIN (sp): Yes.
TOM: Well, I wouldn’t be, personally, too concerned about treatment, because I’m not sure that they are treated. But I would say that if you detect any odors and you think that they’re treated, then by virtue of the fact that you’re going to seal them will probably minimize that.
So I – for me, I don’t think it would be a concern.
OLIN (sp): OK. Well, that sounds good then. I appreciate it, guys.
TOM: Alright, Olin (sp). Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it turns out that skylights are the tattoos of home improvement. So many of you out there get them and then, a few years later, you just want them gone. Except maybe it doesn’t say the name of an ex on it. I’m just saying.
Well, if you’re ready to say goodbye to your skylights, we’re going to tell you how to choose a skylight you won’t tire of, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: You can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT but you might just want to post your question in The Money Pit’s Community page. That’s what Rachel did from Florida.
And she’s having kind of a love/hate relationship with her skylights, Leslie.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, a lot of people do. But Rachel writes here: “My house has skylights – seven of them – that constantly leak.” I’m adding her exacerbation there; I just imagine it’s a lot. Now, she says, “The added light isn’t necessary so I’d like to get rid of them. But I have no idea where to start. Do I do it myself? Hire a contractor? What are my first steps?”
She sounds really frustrated, at least in my mind.
TOM: I wouldn’t get rid of the skylights completely. I think if you replace them with the right kind of skylight, you can have a long-term, leak-free solution for your house. Because, frankly, if you tear them out, it’s going to be so much work. And with seven of them, it might just be cheaper to replace the roof, really.
But what I would do is I would replace them with a good-quality skylight. I like the VELUX skylights, I like the Andersen skylights, the Pella skylights. These are types of skylights that have a curb. It’s a 4-inch box. Makes up the frame. It sits up off the roof. And then they’re flashed with metal flashing that basically weaves in between the roof shingles and comes over the top of those boxes and against the glass, so they’re really almost 100-percent leak-free.
A lot of the older skylights, they relied on sealants, like roof cement, to try to keep them leak-free. And of course, those sealants break down and they become very problematic and people put more tar and gook on them over the years. And it’s just a real mess.
So, I would tell you to take them out, one at a time, and just replace it with a really good-quality skylight. If you have the right kind there, you can get one that has low-E glass, which means it’s not going to overheat your place in the summer. Because that could add a lot of heat that you have to air-condition against. That’s another possibility to look at, at the same time. But I would definitely not throw them out. I think you’ll be happier if you have those skylights and it will also add more value to your home by keeping them rather than getting – removing them. Because you’re just going to see patch upon patch on the roof and also on the ceilings where those light shafts came through. It’ll just be a lot nicer if you keep them.
Nobody likes a dark house, Leslie, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. Skylights really do just make a house feel so much brighter and warmer. And they really do something, I think, to the architecture. So, it’s worth it to try to keep them if you’re interested in upgrading. I think what you’ve got now is just not working out for you. But there are ways to make it really lovely.
TOM: Well, when you run your dishwasher, do the dishes come out dirtier than when they went in? The culprit might be a clogged drain valve. It’s a repair that’s easy to make and Leslie has some tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, dishwasher drain valves, they should only open during the draining cycle. But if that valve is clogged, it’s also going to start to let water out during that wash cycle. So you need to listen very carefully during the wash cycle. And if you hear water flowing into the sink, it’s making that gurgle-y, sink-y sound – you know the sound I’m talking about; I’m not going to do it but you know what I’m saying – that means that the drain valve is definitely clogged. You also want to check the bottom of your dishwasher for any buildup of food particles.
Now, so many dishwashers are going to have that ball-style check valve. And that can get gummed up and that’s going to prevent that dirty water from draining out of the unit altogether. A wet/dry vac is really all you’re going to need to clean out those hard-to-reach areas and get that drain working again.
Bottom line: this is not a hard fix. If you take just a couple of steps, those clogs will be fixed and your dishes are going to become clean once again.
TOM: Yep. And no need to call in a plumber.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about your roof. I mean it weathers every storm and protects your home’s structure. It keeps you warm and dry. But it’s not going to last forever. If it’s time for your roof to go, we’ll have tips on how you can get a great roof to replace it with, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
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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