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 almost spring weekend? We can think ahead, can’t we? I mean come on, spring.
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. Come on, spring.
TOM: We are ready for you to get here so that we can get outside and take on some of those projects, maybe spruce up the outdoor-living space. Or maybe we want to just throw open the windows and get some fresh air inside and do some painting and some kitchen makeovers and bathroom updates. Whatever is on your to-do list, we are here to help. But help yourself first: pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, mixed-metal finishes. Now, that’s a technique that is breaking design rules now for kitchens: you know, having different metal finishes on faucets and hardware and countertops and appliances. We’re going to share why this trend will continue and how it’s making kitchens look a lot livelier.
LESLIE: And if you have a finished or unfinished basement or even a crawlspace, it’s always a challenge to keep that space dry. We’re going to walk you through the steps to stem that moisture.
TOM: And if you’ve found yourself stuck with a house that smells like smoke, we’re going to have tips to make that stink disappear.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the Arrow PT Pneumatic Staple Gun and a supply of staples. Perfect for a huge variety of repair and décor projects, like outdoor-lattice work around the deck or carpeting stair treads or even being brave and upholstering furniture. It’s super easy, especially with a pneumatic staple gun.
It’s worth 50 bucks and it’s going out to one listener.
TOM: But first, your calls. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Hi, Roger from Pennsylvania. You’ve got Tom and Leslie from The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROGER: I was wondering – I live in a house. It was built in 1958. It was a model home. I have a crack in the ceiling and it’s hard plaster. I was wondering if there’s an epoxy or something I could shoot up in under that and push it up in before it falls down.
TOM: So, is the plaster separating from the plaster lath, which is between that and the framing?
ROGER: Yeah, just a little, wee bit. You can see the crack and you can see where it’s coming down just a little bit.
TOM: Just a little bit? Because, typically, Roger, what I would tell you to do in a situation like that is to not reglue the plaster but simply pull it down all the way and then replaster it, then prime it and paint it.
You could possibly squeeze something like LIQUID NAILS in there but then you’d have to support it while it was drying. But then it’s just going to break somewhere else. So if you’ve got an area of loose plaster like that, I would just tell you to just gently break it out of there and then simply respackle that, sand it nicely, then prime it and paint the whole surface. I think it’s a much more permanent and cleaner repair in the long run.
ROGER: That’s what I was wondering. I can do drywall but I never did hard plaster.
TOM: Yeah, it’s not that hard to do. If you can handle spackle, you can handle plaster. Remember, a little bit goes a long way. You’re better off putting it on in thin coats, then putting successive coats on top of that.
And by the way, a house built in 1958, that was a very good year for home construction. You’ve probably got excellent Douglas-pine framing in that home. You probably have hardwood floors, copper pipes. That was a great year for construction. If you’ve got plaster-lath walls and ceilings, you already know they’re very hard and very durable. Yeah, they crack once in a while but you can feel good about the structure of that home.
ROGER: Yeah. Yeah, we do have hardwood floors. We’re actually redoing them a little bit at a time and it is all copper.
TOM: Yeah, the nice thing about those houses that were built in the late 50s and early 60s is people put in these beautiful hardwood floors and they promptly covered them with wall-to-wall carpet. So, for the next 20 or 30 years, they were protected from any wear and tear.
ROGER: Yeah, that’s what happened in here. We’re tearing it up room by room.
TOM: Alright, Roger. Well, good luck with that project. It sounds like a great house.
ROGER: Thank you very much for your help.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Melanie in California on the line with a decorating question. What can we do for you today?
MELANIE: I have untreated (inaudible) knotty pine throughout the house. I would like to continue into an 8×12 bathroom with the same. Is this the best application for the bathroom or will untreated wood hold up to condensation?
LESLIE: Now, where are you seeing this? On the walls? On the ceiling?
MELANIE: Oh, well, I’d like to do the whole bathroom. Yes, walls and ceiling.
TOM: I would say, Leslie, that knotty – untreated, knotty pine is a really bad idea for a bathroom.
TOM: I actually do have a bathroom that’s got pine wainscoting but it’s completely sealed. And it goes up about halfway up the wall. I would definitely not put unfinished wood in a bathroom because it’s going to soak up the moisture. It’s going to grow mold or mildew and just is not going to look right. You can’t clean it, either. So, a bad idea for the ceiling.
That said, if you like the look of wood, there are many ceiling-tile products that do look quite a lot like wood.
MELANIE: OK. We’re limited. We’re in a small area, so we’re limited as far as hardwares go and paneling. We’ve checked out our local hardware stores. And where’s the best place to find, oh, say, ceiling paneling and …?
LESLIE: Well, now, a clever, creative idea – which, you know, you might be able to source online and perhaps you haven’t looked at some of this in the local places to you – would be a laminate flooring that’s a plank that looks like a knotty pine so that we could utilize that in the same application that you’re talking about. But it’s made to withstand high-moisture situations because it’s a manufactured product and not a natural product.
MELANIE: Sure, sure.
LESLIE: And that, because it’s sold in planks, if you do have to order it online or if somebody has to order it from the vendor directly through your local stores, it ships really easily because of its packaging. And being plank size, you’re not going to have a hard time getting it in, rather than a sheet product.
MELANIE: Oh, OK. Very good. And I think that would look far better than a sheet product. We just – I think that’s why I don’t care – the wainscoting or coating, how do you pronounce that?
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely.
MELANIE: Is that …?
LESLIE: I say wainscoting but I think everybody says it every way they feel like. Tomato, tomato.
MELANIE: OK. It’s just very attractive. But we need to do this complete, up the walls.
TOM: You don’t have to. You could go partially up the walls and then trim off the top edge of it.
MELANIE: Hmm. And then would – OK.
TOM: It depends on what look you’re going for. For example, Leslie, you’ve often given the suggestion that you can take an old door, turn it on its side and that could be a wainscoting.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That works out beautifully, especially because it gives you the paneling sort of built right into the door. The only issue there is that anywhere you’ve got an electrical outlet or something that might protrude from the wall, you’re going to have to bump that out to accommodate the extra thickness of the door. Not a big deal but it’s an extra step.
MELANIE: Boy, it sure is. Oh, boy. OK. Well, thank you so much. That’s a lot to think about and I really like that plank-flooring idea. That was a thought that never even crossed my mind, so – nor my husband’s.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project.
MELANIE: Thank you so much. And thank you for taking my call.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DAVID: I have a native stone-based fireplace, I guess, with a cinder-block core. And it’s, thankfully, on the outside of the house. However, the roof line continues so that it covers our carport. And if it rains, oh, substantially, after a bit it begins to get a little ripplage (ph) of water that drains on the outside of the stone, into the carport. So, it’s a bit puzzling. We use – we tried to reface the flashing with just black tar and that sort of thing. But still seems to leak a bit when there’s substantial rain.
TOM: So, I’m having trouble imagining the layout here but is this a situation where you have water from the roof that’s running down towards the chimney?
TOM: And does the chimney have a cricket? Do you know what a cricket is? It’s like sort of a peaked piece of flashing that diverts the water around it.
DAVID: It does have a flashing that runs around it. That’s correct.
TOM: OK. Well, a cricket is not just the flashing. A chimney cricket is like a modification of the roof plane, where it pitches upwards so that the water doesn’t actually strike the back of the chimney. It goes around the chimney.
DAVID: Oh, no, no. It’s a consistent roofline sloping downward.
TOM: So, one thing that you could do is you could put a piece of flashing on the roof to intercept the runoff from the roof that’s heading towards the chimney and sort of divert it around it. And that kind of sort of diverter move will reduce the volume of water that’s striking the chimney. And that can help minimize the problem.
Now, in terms of the flashing repair itself, you mentioned tar. It’s probably the worst thing you could put on a chimney and I know that folks do it all the time. But the right way to do it, if you have a flashing leak, is to replace the flashing. And flashing is always installed in two pieces. You have a base flashing that goes under the roof shingles and against the chimney. And you have a counterflashing that goes in the chimney mortar joints and then down on top of the base flashing. And it’s done that way so it can expand and contract with the movement, because the chimney’s going to move differently than the roof. The tar might give you a temporary seal but eventually, it’s just going to crack.
So I would recommend you install a diverter, try to move some of the water around the chimney. And if it continues, do a better job repairing the flashing in the chimney, because it shouldn’t happen.
DAVID: OK. Will do. I appreciate it so much. Enjoy your show.
TOM: Well, thank you so much. We appreciate your call, David.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, are you ready to spruce up your home for spring? Well, we are ready to help. Give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online, for free.
TOM: Still ahead, mixed-metal finishes is a trend that’s breaking design rules for kitchens. We’ll share how this one project can infuse energy into your kitchen design, next.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What’s on your to-do list? Give us a call right now. We’ll give you a hand, whether you’re planning a project or stuck in the middle. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Just go to HomeAdvisor.com.
And if you’re a DIYer, we’ve got a great tool to give away this hour that’ll come in pretty handy. It’s from our friends at Arrow Fastener. It’s the Arrow PT50 Pneumatic Staple Gun and a supply of staples.
And there are lots of things you can do with the Arrow PT50 Staple Gun, including repairing lattice around your deck. That’s one of the many projects featured on ArrowFastener.com. Just click on Projects. You’ll get all the step-by-step tips and advice you need to get that project done.
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Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The prize package is worth 50 bucks and the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Angela in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ANGELA: I am purchasing a beautiful 1940s home. It’s two stories with a basement and I was just wondering you guys’ thoughts on the second floor. Basically, there’s a very tiny staircase that goes up to the second floor and I’m worried about if there was a fire, something that blocked the stairway. Are there products out there that you can purchase – well, yeah, I don’t know, a roll-down ladder or some kind of alarm or something? What do you guys know about that?
TOM: Sure. There’s all sorts of things. In terms of egress, if you have just the staircase and you want another option, you could always get a ladder that – it’s like a chain ladder that hooks over the window and you drop it down the outside wall of your house. Problem with those, though, is that in – from a practical matter, in a fire you have black smoke filling the house. It’s really hard to find that ladder and set it up.
LESLIE: Some of them are actually built into window-box units that look like a decorative window box that you can attach to the exterior of your home. And it would be right outside of the window. But then again, that’s not really ideal if it’s a kid’s room.
ANGELA: Right, right. Yeah. And that’s – it’s just me and two kids and we all have our own room, so …
TOM: So I would make sure that you have a good-quality smoke-alarm system. You know, if you can afford to use one that’s centrally monitored, I think that’s best because now you know the system – the home is being monitored 24/7. And you could add carbon-monoxide protection to that and even flood protection to that and temperature protection to that all in the same system.
ANGELA: Is there some kind of system that – I don’t want to have to hard-wire it in the house. But is there a system that maybe uses Bluetooth or some things that have to talk to each other?
TOM: Yes. If you have hardwired smoke detectors now – so if you have a detector that’s already wired – not battery-powered but hardwired – you can replace that with a Nest Protect. And the Nest is the brand, Protect is the detector. And the Nest Protect is a combination dual-technology smoke detector, so it works for both with a photoelectric sensor and an ionization sensor, which basically means it’ll detect smoldering fires and flash fires but it also protects you against carbon monoxide.
Now, what I like about this system is if you also install it with the Nest Thermostat, if either of those things were to happen – if you had a fire or you had a carbon-monoxide alert – it will actually turn the thermostat off, which is important. Because if it’s carbon monoxide, the most likely source in the home is the furnace or the boiler, depending on what kind of system you have. And if you have a fire, running that furnace during the fire helps to spread the smoke.
You definitely can install it yourself. It’s not difficult. Nest provides great instruction on how to do that. In fact, I just replaced – I have a centrally monitored system in my house but I decided – we also had, sort of as a redundant system, two hardwired detectors: one on the first floor, one on the second floor. I’ve just replaced those with the Nest Protect. And I’m really happy with it. I think it’s a really good system and just gives me some added peace of mind.
ANGELA: OK. Well, thank you so much. That’s a great idea. I think that’s the way I’m going to go.
TOM: Well, if you’re considering an updated look for your kitchen, mixed metals is one trend you might want to try. It’s a modern look that really shuns that sort of matchy-matchy styles that were so popular in the past, where everything had to be the same.
LESLIE: Yeah. Maybe you’ve heard that design rule that says the finishes of your appliances should match the finishes of your plumbing fixtures, hardware and lighting. Well, not anymore.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. The mixed-metals trend is going to really add a layer of interest and dimension to the room. You can combine silver and gold or chrome and brass or add that beautiful, oil-rubbed bronze finish to existing fixtures. And all in all, it’s going to make your kitchen look a lot livelier.
LESLIE: And if you’re wondering if that mixed-metals trend is going to work in your home, the good news is it’s going to. I mean it’s a look that can be a universal trend. It’s going to work with pretty much any color palette and style. All types of homes – including transitional, rustic, even contemporary – can benefit from mixed metals. It doesn’t have to be a huge variety of mixtures of the metal. But a good mix, good tones, even adding in a mercury glass, so many ways that you can make this new trend really work for you. And it’s lovely.
TOM: Check out all the design trends, including a gallery showing that mixed-metals look, on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Jim in Washington is on the line with a water-in-the-crawlspace situation. What’s going on?
JIM: Well, we live on the West Coast and like most of the homes out here that are less than 40 years old, we have a crawlspace instead of a basement.
JIM: And in December, we had record rains – the most ever – and we discovered, by chance, that we had about 3 or 4 inches of water in our crawlspace.
JIM: The dirt floor is covered with plastic. It’s about 1,500 square foot of area, so that was a considerable amount of water.
TOM: Has that drained out?
JIM: Well, we rented a pump and I pumped for a couple of days and then I used my shop vac and took out 5 gallons of water at a time. And yes, it is all out now.
TOM: And we don’t want it to come back, right?
JIM: Well, not only that but I just don’t know what to do to make sure there was no further damage.
TOM: Alright. Well, I have fantastic news for you. It’s so great that your crawlspace flooded after a heavy rainfall, because that tells me that the solution involves your gutters and your grading.
This is not a rising water-table situation. This is a scenario where you have to reduce the amount of water that’s collecting at the foundation perimeter. And usually, that happens because the gutters become clogged and overflow and dump all their water right at the foundation perimeter. Or the downspouts are not extended far enough away and dump water right near the corner of the foundation. Or the grading around the house is too flat or in some cases, even sloped backwards into the house so that the water never has a chance to run away. So when you have a lot of rain and that results in a flood in a crawlspace or a basement, that is always, always, always the cause. So the solution is just to reverse all that.
Now, in terms of damage, if the water was only in there for a short period of time – a week or two and you got it pumped out – I don’t think there’ll be any ongoing issues. If these spaces stay wet for a really long time, you can get increased decay or insect activity. But an occasional flood like that is not likely to have any effect on the house. More important that you make sure it doesn’t happen again by trying to address whatever drainage deficiencies you find.
JIM: Fantastic. Well, that is what I will start doing then. I’ll see what I can find. Thank you. Appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Jim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, if you’ve got a finished or even an unfinished basement or perhaps a crawlspace, you know that it’s always a challenge to keep that space dry and healthy. Well, we’re going to share some info on a product that can help you do just that, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Well, as we continue to make our homes more and more energy-efficient, we may very well also be trapping unhealthy air inside with us. In fact, the EPA reports that the air inside the homes can be five times more polluted than the air outside.
TOM: And that’s why now is a great time to look at ways we can continue to enjoy energy efficiency while breathing easier at the same time. With us to talk about that is Erika Lacroix, President of E•Z Breathe Ventilation Systems.
ERIKA: Hello. Thank you.
TOM: So, it seems kind of counterintuitive that we put all this effort, you know, into making our homes tighter and more efficient. But I guess you can go overboard with that and make them unhealthy at the same time. So, how do you strike a balance?
ERIKA: Well, that’s exactly it. A balance is what’s needed. Unfortunately, for the last maybe 30, 40 years, we’ve been on this quest of greater and greater energy efficiency, which is wonderful. Less energy costs, more energy efficiency. But what we’re missing is the balance part of it. We need to address what’s going on inside the house and add ventilation. We need to start talking about the indoor-air quality and how buttoning up the homes may be great for our energy costs but it’s actually detrimental to the indoor-air quality.
LESLIE: And I think to your point of keeping the homes airtight, now we’re also bringing things in: we’re bringing in new furniture, we’re bringing in flooring products, we’re bring in materials. And some of those are made from chemicals that aren’t really the best for us and they’re off-gassing in the process of getting acclimated to your house. And if you’re not turning over the air in the house on a regular basis, you’re just being trapped with all of those not-so-great things.
ERIKA: You said it. That’s exactly it. We’re getting trapped inside these very tight building envelopes and we’re not allowing that toxic off-gassing of chemicals. There’s no place for it to go; there’s no path of escape. So, oftentimes they concentrate to a very, very unhealthy level. It’s just not good air that we’re breathing.
TOM: So, it’d be rather simple to open a window but that’s going to not do too much for our energy efficiency. So, how do you bring in fresh air without driving up your energy costs at the same time?
ERIKA: Well, just like you said, we’re opening windows, we’re opening doors just in our everyday living. But unfortunately, we’re not getting anything out of the house. As we open doors and we open windows, our house sucks air in. So we’re not getting air out.
So what we really need to do is we need to start exhausting the air. We have exhaust fans in our kitchens, where we produce pollutants, right? We have steam, we have cooking odors, we have fans. We have fans in our bathrooms where, again, we’re producing moisture, we’re producing contaminants. So we have spot-ventilation in these places in our homes. But one of the largest contributors to poor indoor-air quality is in our foundation: our basements, our crawlspaces. Through the stack effect, that air rises up. So we start breathing basement and crawlspace air.
So, at E•Z Breathe, we source the exhaust ventilation in the foundation: in the basement and in the crawlspace. So we create air exchanges from that level.
TOM: So when you say you source the air down there, so you mean that you are exhausting to those spaces?
ERIKA: No, we are exhausting the air that resides in those spaces.
TOM: Oh, OK.
ERIKA: And by doing that, we create a very slight draw that brings the air from the upper levels down into those foundation spaces, like a basement space or a crawlspace space, and we protect the living environment from that bad air that typically lives in basements from rising up, threatening the good air upstairs.
TOM: So, is what you’re saying is that you’re slightly depressurizing those lower spaces – the basements and the crawlspaces – and then that’s being replenished with air that’s being replaced from the upper sections of the house. Is that about right?
ERIKA: You got it. That’s exactly it.
TOM: OK. Got it.
ERIKA: So it’s exhaust and replenishing, yep.
TOM: That’s really interesting. And so I guess by doing so, you’re doing it in a controlled way where you’re not really wasting heated air but you’re giving the house an opportunity to kind of refresh itself in the process?
ERIKA: Absolutely. We have a variable fan speed, so people can determine how quickly they want the air to move. And it’s governed by a humidistat. So when the dry, clean air is sent, E•Z Breathe will cycle off.
But what you’ll find is your home loses six times more energy and heat through the roof and through the walls, through the natural stack effect, than what E•Z Breathe could ever exhaust. E•Z Breathe is a gentle draw.
TOM: We’re talking to Erika Lacroix – she’s the president of E•Z Breathe – about how to make our homes better ventilated so that we can enjoy healthy living.
LESLIE: Erika, are you finding that now that people have installed the E•Z Breathe and they’re getting more air circulation in the house, what are some of the benefits that they’re noticing? Are you testing to see what these new results are?
ERIKA: Oh, absolutely, Leslie. We’ve been testing this for over a decade now. And what we find time and time again is not only do people report that they have less odors, they have less humidity levels, they notice that their air feels lighter and fresher. But our scientific testing has proven that the indoor-particulate count, which is really just a fancy word for everything that you see floating in the air – anything you might find through a sunlight ray that comes through the window and you see all those little floaties? Those are technically particulates.
And E•Z Breathe will reduce the overall particulate count in a home by up to 85 percent. So that is a much improved indoor-air quality. And people find they don’t sneeze as much, they don’t cough as much because there’s not so much stuff in the air that’s irritating their respiratory tract. So they feel better.
TOM: That makes a lot of sense.
Erika Lacroix, the president of E•Z Breathe, thank you so much for being a part of The Money Pit.
If you’d like to learn more about E•Z Breathe, head on over to their website. That’s EZBreathe.com – E-Z-B-r-e-a-t-h-e.com.
ERIKA: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: You know, there are few things more disgusting than to have to clean up a house or apartment that’s been saturated to the core with cigarette or tobacco-smoke smell. If you’ve ever spent time around a smoker, you know that that odor lingers long after they leave the room. We’re going to discuss ways to clean up those odors, when The Money Pit continues.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now on The Money Pit’s listener line with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: You can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.
TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.
And if you do pick up the phone and call us, right now, you might just win the Arrow PT50 Pneumatic Staple Gun and a supply of staples. That package is worth 50 bucks. Lots of things you can do with that very fun tool, including repairing deck lattice. You can find the step-by-step instructions at ArrowFastener.com. Just click on Projects. You’ll get everything you need to get that project done.
That package is worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller. It’s only going to be you if you pick up the phone, though, and call us with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hugo in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
HUGO: I’m redoing my kitchen and bathroom. And I’m wondering what you would recommend for flooring it. I’ve got carpet in it now and I sincerely dislike the carpet. And I want to put something else in and would you recommend a composite material or vinyl or linoleum or what?
TOM: Well, I can’t think of two rooms that are worse for carpeting than kitchens and bathrooms.
HUGO: I know. Tell me about it. I bought the house seven years ago and it had that in it, so …
TOM: Yeah. Bad décor choice but I think you can do a lot better. I think one thing that you might want to take a look at is laminate flooring, because laminate flooring can come in a wide range of designs. It can look like tile, it can look like stone or it could look like wood. And it’s really durable when it comes to moist/damp places.
HUGO: What about – will a stove and refrigerator leave dents in it?
TOM: I’ve had laminate flooring down in my kitchen for 10 years and we pull the refrigerator out whenever it’s necessary. I never worry about it.
HUGO: Well, I appreciate the information. I thank you and I’ll look into it.
TOM: Alright, Hugo. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, for homes or apartments where smokers lived, that nasty odor can stay for years. And the reason is simple: that smoke, it gets everywhere from deep in the carpet to furniture and window coverings. It can hang in the air, it can stick to walls and ceilings and floors, it can stick to kitchen cabinets. It even gets trapped deep inside heating ducts where it can spread throughout your entire house.
So, if you’ve found yourself stuck with a smelly home to live in or to rent or to sell, there is a way to remove that stink and actually clear the air. It’s not easy but it can happen.
LESLIE: Now, the first step to the deep-cleaning process is to understand what exactly you’re dealing with. Now, when cigarette smoke floats into the air, it spreads out and it sticks to whatever it touches. And I mean everything. Now, what doesn’t stick to surfaces, walls and the ceiling will eventually settle back down onto the floor and into the carpet.
Now, these particles are then ground in with your feet when you walk. If you’ve got light-colored surfaces, the patina of a cigarette residue is faintly yellow. And it grows more intensely yellow with layers and time.
TOM: Now that you know what you’re dealing with, you want to be prepared to blast that tobacco smoke smell and yellow residue from virtually every surface and material in the home. The best way to do this is to work from top to bottom on all furniture, on the countertops, the cabinetry.
You want to mix up a solution of TSP. That’s trisodium phosphate. It’s sort of a soapy cleaner. You’ll find it in hardware stores or in the paint aisles of your favorite home center. And you want to use a combination of moist paper towels and soapy sponges to get every hard or smooth surface in the house. Be sure to change those towels out frequently so you don’t end up spreading the smoky residue around. You want to get into the corners, the undersides and especially the upper areas where the smoke does tend to linger.
LESLIE: Now, another way to get to those hard-to-reach places is by using a sponge mop. Now, you want to get a brand-new one that’s never scrubbed a floor. And get it damp with that soapy TSP water and then scrub away. But you have to make sure that you rinse it frequently and change that soapy water often.
TOM: Now, with clean surfaces, your home will finally be rid of that tobacco-smoke smell and ready to house a non-smoking family. But whether the effort has been for your health or happiness after you quit or simply found yourself in charge of a nicotine-tinged house, with a complete and thorough deep clean like this, even a home that’s been smoked in for decades can be restored to almost hypoallergenic perfection. And that’s exactly how you clear the air.
888-666-3974. Would you like us to clear a home improvement project off your to-do list? Give us a call right now.
LESLIE: Mary in North Carolina is on the line with a mossy roof. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
MARY: Well, we have a 10-year-old roof – asphalt shingles, I believe they are – and the sections between shingles are beginning to be filled up with moss.
LESLIE: It’s like a mossy grout line.
MARY: Yeah, that’s right. I’d like to know how to get it safely clean and keep it from growing back again. It isn’t the entire roof. We are in an A-frame house, so it’s very sharp, very steep roof. And it’s just about the 8 or 10 feet closest to the edge.
LESLIE: OK. Do you see it all the way around or do you just see it on, say, the north-facing side or in the area …?
MARY: It’s just on this north-facing part.
LESLIE: OK. So that’s the area that gets the least amount of sunlight.
LESLIE: Do you have a large tree that’s adding more shade to this area?
MARY: We have a lot of trees, yeah.
LESLIE: A lot of trees.
TOM: Yeah, therein lies the problem.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, the best solution here is – can you trim out or thin out those trees in any way to get more sunlight onto that portion of the roof? Because if you can do that, sunlight really is your best weapon in getting rid of this moss and keeping it away. Now, you’ll have to do some work to get it to be gone in the first place but if you can add more sunlight, you’re going to help it stay away.
MARY: Alright. Very good. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, reclaimed furniture can be a great way to save money and the environment. But you have to take one extra step to make sure that old furniture is safe. We’re going to tell you what you need to know, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.
TOM: And while you are online, you might want to swing by The Money Pit’s Community page and post your home improvement question. Michael did just that.
He’s got an interesting question, Leslie. He says, “I live in a townhouse with a steel I-beam that runs through the basement, through all the houses in my row. The I-beam seems to carry a lot of noise. When I’m in the basement, I can hear the conversations that my neighbors two doors down are having. How can I insulate the I-beam so that the sounds don’t travel so much?”
You know, he’s connecting the dots here thinking that that I-beam is like a big, fat telephone wire that’s moving that sound down. But I think it’s unlikely that the I-beam is actually doing that transmission. The problem is more likely traced to the way those walls were constructed, including the possibility of openings that are right around that I-beam, as well as lights and outlets and switches that are just too large. Because we know from experience that when you try to quiet a room, you have to seal up all of those gaps.
And there are a couple of ways to do that. One option is to insulate and to include the joints and the – where the I-beam goes through. And you want to add a second layer of drywall across that surface and use a material called Green Glue that provides sound resistance between the boards.
Or another option is to actually pick up and install what’s known as “sound-resistant drywall.” There’s one called QuietRock and there are others. You basically put it over the existing drywall and you have to pay extra attention to outlets and lights and switches. There’s actually a special soundproofing material – it’s kind of like a putty – that needs to go behind them. And it requires you to unwire those outlets and switches, pull the box out and put this clay-like stuff behind it.
So it’s a big project but it’s the only way you’re going to truly be able to quiet that noise that you’re hearing in the basement space.
LESLIE: I mean there’s even a quiet adhesive that you put in between the two sheets of drywall. It’s a process to make rooms really, really quiet. So you’ve got to want to do it.
TOM: Well, upcycling is a great way to redecorate. There are many vintage pieces just waiting for that right touch. And you know the saying: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But you need to be careful about reusing those older items, especially when it comes to kids’ rooms. Leslie tells you why, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. If you do decide to do a little garage- or even estate-saling (ph) to save some cash, you do want to be careful about which vintage pieces you choose for your child’s room.
Now, first of all, you want to make sure that you don’t get anything with old chipping or potentially lead-based paint. And you can kind of tell from the finish and the layers of paint on it if it’s something that’s worth trying to strip or maybe you should just stay away from. Because you really don’t want to get into a big project, especially when you’re not sure what that finish is. And you don’t want to release any chemicals into the air that could be harmful or chips that the child could eat and be even more harmful.
Now, you also want to make sure that you stay away from furniture with out-of-date latches and hardware. I’m talking about chests and cribs. Any crib with a drop-down side, that is just not even happening anymore. So go ahead and check out the Consumer Products Safety Commission, which is CPSC.gov. You’ll find a list there of recalled items and that’s going to help you really make good decisions about what you can and cannot purchase when you’re at these sales.
You don’t want to be afraid of salvaging old pieces. It’s going to be great for you, it’s going to be great for the environment. You’ll be able to show your creativity. You just have to be cautious about the pieces you do bring in. Make sure you’re keeping everybody safe.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, do you want a pop of color to greet friends and family at your front door? Well, you can enhance that front entrance with the right flowers and plantings and create a very colorful, new welcome. We’ll have tips on how to take on that project, 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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(Copyright 2019 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)
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