Find out about occupancy and vacancy sensors, the easiest way to make sure your lights are never accidentally left on. Learn about wind-resistant roofing to protect your roof from heavy wind and wild weather. Get important inspection tips for checking your deck before summer use and find out about new composite materials to consider if you are building a new deck. Plus get the answers to the following questions: wood floor repairs, water heater options, setting interior doors, vinyl siding, replacing ceiling tile, solar panels, mold on shingles and bath tubs, blistering paint, bed bugs and installing laminate flooring.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we’ve got a great show for you today. You know, growing up, my parents would always say – and this isn’t even my fault; I’m going to blame this on my sisters right here. But my sisters would leave the lights on and Mom and Dad would always be yelling, “Who left the lights on? Hey, are you going to pay for the electric bill?”
Well, needless to say, now I pay for the electric bill. So we are going to share some interesting new technology with you guys that will help you to not ask “Who left those lights on?” ever again.
And also ahead this hour, we’re going to talk about high winds. It is the spring. We’re gearing into the storm season. And sometimes, those winds can help you lose some roof shingles. So we’re going to share some information with you about some wind-resistant roofing that can help you eliminate that problem.
And we’re leading into the summer season, which is great. The weather is warming up; we all want to take advantage of our outside spaces. And your deck’s been sitting out there all winter long. So before you go and have that big Memorial Day party – which, believe it or not, is right around the corner – we’re going to teach you how to properly inspect your deck so that you don’t have a disaster come the summer-party season.
And we’ve got a great prize up for grabs this hour to one lucky caller who gets on the air with us. We’re giving away a spring-cleaning package from our friends over at Casabella, worth 50 bucks.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is the telephone number. Give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win that great prize from Casabella. Let’s get right to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Brian in Ohio is dealing with a settling house. Tell us what’s going on.
BRIAN: Ah, well, I have a real nice, 1930s, brick Colonial. And in a number of areas, you can see that the house has settled so that the doors aren’t square in the door frames. And the tile on one wall in the bathroom is about an inch below where the tile line on the other wall is. And there’s some cracks in the outside of the brick structure.
And I just wondered if it – if there’s a way to fix this to sort of square up the house. Because, among other things, if I redo the bathroom, I’m afraid that if the house is moving or twisting, so to speak, and I put new, beautiful tile on the floor or the wall, that it’ll crack that next.
TOM: Brian, did you have a home inspection done when you bought the house?
BRIAN: Well, I’m in the real estate business, so I kind of knew what I was getting into from the standpoint of the structure. So I did not have a home inspection done, no.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah. Or not.
OK, well, as a former professional home inspector, my first advice would be to determine if the home is still actively moving. And that’s the type of observation that takes a bit of a trained eye. You want to see if there’s anything that tells you that those cracks or active or not. It may very well be that in a 1930s house, this is just normal settlement that’s happened over time.
In terms of re-squaring the house, really bad idea; you never want to put a house back where you think it belongs. Because it took many, many, many, many years to get into that sort of skewed, settled state. If you try to lift up different pieces, you’ll end up cracking more walls, breaking wires, breaking pipes and that sort of thing.
So, what you would do, if you redid the bathroom, is basically just live with that. Chalk it up to another real estate word, “charm,” and just live with it, OK?
BRIAN: Nice. Great. Great insight, OK.
TOM: Alright? There you go. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Veronica in Iowa on the line who needs some help repairing some flooring. Tell us what’s going on.
VERONICA: Well, we have wood laminate floors throughout our home and when moving some furniture, we scratched the floor. And so I’m trying to find out if there’s an easy way to fix that.
TOM: Do you know what manufacturer of the floor is?
VERONICA: I don’t. I’m assuming that the floor was bought at Home Depot. The prior owner was an executive at Home Depot, so everything they put in the house came from Home Depot. But I don’t know the actual manufacturer.
TOM: Veronica, if you don’t know the manufacturer of the floor, there are some generic products that you can use. One that I would take a look at is Bruce. Bruce is, of course, a big floor manufacturer but they make one that’s supposed to work well on any type of laminate floor.
And it’s simply called Acrylic Wood Filler. I know it’s sold at The Home Depot, so that stays in the family of Home Depot products that are in your house. And it’s about 6 bucks a tube and you can also find it online. It’s going to come in different colors, so you choose the color that’s closest to your floor. And if it’s not exact, then what you could do is go a little bit lighter, a little bit darker and kind of mix the two together. Does that make sense?
VERONICA: Yeah, OK. Great.
TOM: Alright. Well, there you go. Good luck with that project. Problem solved. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, have you ever come home at night and wondered, “Who left the lights on?” Well, we’re going to help you solve that problem once and for all, with a Money Pit Green Home Tip, after this.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one lucky caller this hour is going to have a spring-cleaning package – no, it’s not a genie coming to your house to clean. We’re giving you the supplies so that actually you can do the cleaning.
It’s a giveaway pack from our friends over at Casabella. You can check out all their cleaning products at Casabella.com. It’s a prize pack worth 50 bucks, so give us a call right now for your chance to win, and help with your home improvement project, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Shirley in Nebraska is on the line and has some issues with heating water. Tell us what’s going on. You’ve had 4 in 28 years? That is an amazing turnover rate and not in a good way.
SHIRLEY: No, it’s not a good one. It’s not. And when I talked to someone from our gas company – we have a maintenance thing with the gas company. And they said, “Well, the one thing is maybe” – I said, “I thought with a water softener, you were supposed to be able to prolong the life of your appliances.” And he said, “Well, maybe your salt level is too high.”
Our plumber does not think so, so I just kind of wondered what your take was on it.
TOM: OK. First of all, if you have city water, then you shouldn’t need a water softener; you should just be able to work with that water right out of the tap. I think you’ve had extraordinarily bad luck having to replace the 4 water heaters in 28 years. If you feel that the water, even the city water, is a little bit hard then, of course, you can use a water softener. And you might want to consider using one that is a no-salt-water softener, if corrosion is a concern.
There’s a product called EasyWater that uses electricity to polarize the hard-water minerals inside and force them to not stick to the sides of pipes and faucets and fixtures. So that’s another option, as well.
But the next time you buy a water heater, I would look for one that’s got the best warranty because you haven’t had very good luck with this and at least it’ll be covered.
SHIRLEY: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jeff in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JEFF: Hi. I’m calling because I have a house that’s about 16 years old.
JEFF: And where the brick front matches up to the vinyl siding, the sealant is starting to crack. And I’m not sure if it’s caulk that’s drying out or mortar that’s just cracked. So, I guess the question is: what’s the right kind of sealant to put between that brick front and the vinyl siding?
TOM: Yeah, I’m sure it’s caulk because – you know, the caulk’s not going to last 16 years.
TOM: So, what you need to do is to scrape out the old stuff and then recaulk it. And to do that, you’re just going to use a good-quality exterior caulk. I might suggest that you consider using silicone for this because that’s going to give you the best probably long-term durability. A little bit harder to use, Jeff, but it will last the longest.
JEFF: Now, I notice that the gap, in some places, is somewhere between half and a full inch. Do I need to put something behind it once I clean that?
TOM: Ooh, that’s huge. That’s really big. That’s not caulkable. You can only caulk with maybe a ¼- to 3/8-inch. Is that entire space filled up with some material now?
JEFF: Yes. And that’s – and it’s hard as a rock. That’s why I wondered if it was mortar behind the brick going into that.
TOM: Oh, it might not be caulk. I mean there are different types of urethane sealants and I can’t really be sure. Here’s what I suggest you do, Jeff. Would you take a photograph of this and post it in the Community section at MoneyPit.com? We’ll take a look at it and then get back to you with a recommendation. Does that make sense?
JEFF: OK. That’s great. I appreciate it.
LESLIE: Well, it’s time now for today’s Green Home Tip, presented by Lutron.
One of the easiest ways to cut down on your energy bill is to cut down on your electric bill.
TOM: Now, you’ve probably already switched to more energy-efficient light bulbs and maybe cut down on unnecessary lamps. But all of that is useless if you simply forget to turn the lights off when you leave a room or worse, when you leave the house. They can stay on all day long.
LESLIE: And that’s where the Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch by Lutron comes in.
Now, it’s going to sense when somebody walks into the room and automatically turn those lights on. And then when you leave the room, it’s going to turn those lights off for you. It really has some innovative sensing technology that truly knows when the room is occupied, even when there’s no movement. So it’s still going to work in a room where you’re sitting still, watching TV, reading a book. It senses you turning the page of a book, so it’s really super-sensitive. So don’t worry about sitting at your desk and the lights going off.
TOM: That’s right. And the same sensor can also be used in what’s called “vacancy mode.” In this case, the lights are turned on manually and then they automatically go off when a vacancy is detected. Now, this is great for kids’ rooms and playrooms where the lights are often left on.
And that is your Green Home Tip for today, presented by Lutron. Lutron products are available from your local home center, lighting showroom or electrical professional. For more energy-saving ideas, check out our online Green Home Guide and visit LutronSensor.com.
LESLIE: Julian in Louisiana is working on a tile-ceiling makeover project. Tell us what you’re working on.
JULIAN: I’m wanting to repair my ceiling. The old, Styrofoam, square – 12-inch square – tiles are in bad need of repair. Some of them are broken loose and some of them are stained. And I want to do something to cover that up but I’m not sure if I need to take those down or if I can cover – put something over the top of them.
TOM: I would recommend that you take the tile down and not sandwich them in between new drywall.
TOM: Now, when you take those down, Julian, what you’re probably going to find are wood strips underneath that. We call it “furring strips,” yeah.
TOM: It’s going to be a pain in the neck because you’re going to have hundreds of staples to pull out one at a time or un-flat (ph).
JULIAN: Right, right.
TOM: But when you do take them out, get all those staples nice and flat and then go ahead and add the drywall right to the wood strips. And I would recommend you use drywall screws to hold it in place because sometimes those strips get a little bouncy if you try to nail into them. And the screws will be the easiest way to handle getting those sheets in place. And that’ll do a real good job and you’ll be very happy with it, I’m sure.
JULIAN: OK, OK. Is it very hard to do the design on the ceiling, like the “stomp and drag”? That’s what type of finish I was trying to get. Is that hard to do yourself?
TOM: Can I tell you how many calls we get from people that want to take that away?
JULIAN: Oh, really?
TOM: Seemed like a good idea at the time but we get dozens of calls every month from folks that want to remove textured ceilings.
TOM: So, we’d say don’t do it. Yeah, don’t do it.
LESLIE: Don’t do it. Do a good job with your tapes. Instead of doing just the paper tape when you’re doing the joints on the drywall on the ceiling, use the fiberglass tape.
JULIAN: OK. Alright.
LESLIE: Do thin coats. Do several coats and get wider as you go out from each coat. Let it dry well, sand in between, then prime it because you’ve got brand-spanking new drywall. Prime it, let it dry. Then you want a ceiling paint because it’s going to adhere differently. Use a flat paint, white, you’re good to go.
JULIAN: Thanks. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Julian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Shirley in Oregon is on the line with a solar-panel question. How can we help you?
SHIRLEY: Hi. Yes. I had heard that with solar panels or solar shakes on the roof, that if you had a fire, that the Fire Department would not be able to start fighting that fire until the sun went down because you’re actually creating electricity? And I just was considering putting solar and I just wanted to make sure if that is correct that they didn’t want to get the water on anything that was actively creating electricity.
TOM: So let’s just think about this, Shirley. Your house is on fire, the Fire Department pulls up, they spot the solar panels and say, “Ah, you know what? We’ll be back, say, what, 6:30, 7:00? Sun should be down by then. Then we’ll take care of it.”
SHIRLEY: That’s what I thought was ridiculous.
SHIRLEY: That’s why I’m thinking, “Why is anybody doing solar if that’s the case, is there?”
TOM: No. I mean look, there’s electricity all throughout your house. Why would electricity on the roof have – be any different? If electricity is a concern, the Fire Department is going to go over and turn the power off; they’ll pull the meter.
SHIRLEY: Well, they said that solar creates its own electricity so even if the meter was turned off or pulled, that it still would be creating. Is that not correct with the solar?
TOM: Let’s think about what you’re saying. You can fight a fire in a power plant if you had to.
TOM: So, this is not an issue. Somebody is pulling your leg, Shirley, OK?
SHIRLEY: I think it was just somebody that was kind of ignorant and I said I couldn’t hardly believe it. But I was going to ask before I – thank you.
TOM: Shirley, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sean, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SEAN: I was noticing – last fall, I was up cleaning my gutters out. And I’m getting mold or a mildew type of growth on my asphalt shingles. And I’m wondering if that’s a problem I need to deal with or just let it go and deal with it, I guess.
TOM: Well, it’s mostly a cosmetic issue. So it’s not going to affect the longevity of the roof. If it got really thick – sometimes we see moss that gets up there and can actually lift and crack shingles.
Now, if you want to try to get rid of it because it doesn’t look that nice, there’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, the green solution is to get more sunlight on it because the more sunlight, the less chance that you’re going to have any type of algae growth on that roof surface.
The second thing is that you could use a product called Wet & Forget. If you go to WetAndForget.com, it’s a product that you mix up. It’s in a concentrated form that you mix it up, you apply it with a garden-type sprayer, let it sit there for a bit of time. And then eventually, the Wet & Forget product will completely destroy the mold, the mildew, the algae, the moss and clean that roof right up.
And then thirdly, a little trick of the trade is you could put a copper strip across the top of that roof, from end to end. And with a metal strip made out of copper, you can slip it under one row of shingles, as well. Every time it rains, it will release a little bit of that copper and that is also a mildicide and will keep the roof clean.
SEAN: Wow. OK. Alright. I think we’ll try the spray on it first, then maybe get a piece of copper and run it across the roof.
TOM: There you go. Good luck with that project, Sean. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Erica in Illinois is dealing with a paint situation. Tell us what’s going on. You’ve got peeling and bubbling?
ERICA: Yes. I had my paint – my ceiling painted by someone probably about three years ago. And just recently, the ceiling has started peeling and the walls have started, oh, crackling almost. Like it looks like underneath, there’s a crackle to it that if I pressed it hard, it would flake off.
TOM: OK. So I suspect that when it was painted last time, the walls may not have been prepped properly. They clearly were not primed. I think now is an opportunity, Erica, where you’re going to have to get rid of all of that old, loose paint. Sand the ceiling down, sand the walls down and apply a primer. The primer is going to be key here because whatever that unknown surface is underneath that layer, we want to make sure we have something that can attach to it. And primer you should think of as sort of the glue that makes the paint stick.
So prep what you have, prime it thoroughly, then put a second top coat on. And that last coat, make sure you use a really good-quality paint and make sure it’s flat for the ceiling. And that will hide any imperfections that might be left behind. Does that make sense?
ERICA: Yes. Now, as far as my wall, do I need to try to scrape it off so I don’t have any of this crackle looking on my wall?
TOM: Yeah, I definitely would. I would definitely try to get rid of as much of that loose paint as possible and the same thing goes: prime them and then do a top coat after that.
ERICA: OK. Alright. Sounds like a job but I’ll take it on.
TOM: And I know you can do it, Erica. 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. Well, if you find yourself crossing your fingers every single time that wind starts rattling your roof, maybe it’s time to discuss some wind-resistant roofing here, folks. We’re going to walk you through the choices, after this.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, we love holidays, so are you celebrating Earth Day at your money pit? Well, we’re going to share several Earth-friendly ideas on MoneyPit.com, like how to safely set up a rainwater collection system. Doesn’t get more green than that. Check it out. Your water bill and your lawn will thank us.
TOM: Now, let’s get back to the phones, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: John in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JOHN: Being that I’m trying to be more conscious of the energy that we use and most times that we don’t use, as far as wasting – so one thing that I’m contemplating whether or not to do is putting on a timer for my water heater in my home.
JOHN: Being the fact that we only really need the hot water in the early morning, taking a shower, or in the evening times when we come home, is it doable? Is it worth investing and putting a timer in your system for that? And is that something that the average homeowner can do or is that something that you have to get a licensed contractor for?
TOM: Well, first of all, it is a good project to do because you’re right: you don’t need your water heater heating water to 110 degrees 24-7. You only need it when you are home, when you’re showering, when you’re bathing, things like that. And it will stay warm for the rest of the time, so setting the water to heat only for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening makes sense.
TOM: That said, unless you’re very experienced with electricity, it’s definitely not a do-it-yourself project because it is or could be quite dangerous. You have to turn off the power at the breaker panel and then you have to install an electrical box between the water heater and the panel.
And there’s a type of timer made by Intermatic called – the Little Grey Box is what it usually says on it. It’s the Little Grey Box.
JOHN: OK. Well, that’s great. Well, thank you. Hey, it’s a great show. I enjoy listening. Getting a lot of ideas.
TOM: Appreciate the call. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: When a storm rolls through, it’s important to check your home for damage. Now, the most common type of storm damage is probably going to be a torn roof or torn roofing shingles.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And if this has ever happened to you, you might be happy to learn that there is a solution. There are roofing materials available that are made to withstand extremely high winds. Here to tell us more is Tom Silva, the general contractor for TV’s This Old House.
TOM SILVA: Well, thanks, guys. Nice to be here, as always.
TOM: So, what is the difference between sort of a standard asphalt shingle and one that’s categorized as being more wind-resistant?
TOM SILVA: Well, the adhesive underneath the tab of the shingle or the type of shingle and the weight of the shingle.
TOM SILVA: Also, the way that it is fastened. You usually have to use, oh, a couple more nails per shingle. And you usually nail them closer to the reveal or the part of the shingle that you see.
TOM: So it’s both a special shingle and a more conservative installation approach.
TOM SILVA: Exactly. Yeah, yeah.
TOM: And some of these shingles, I’ve seen ratings where it could stand up to 130 miles an hour, which seems insane. I don’t know if the rest of the house could take that but good news is your roof will be intact.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Yeah, well, that’s always good to have a roof when – especially when it’s raining.
LESLIE: And I feel like if you’re going to all of these steps to have specialty shingles because of, you know, a wind situation, what about underlayments or flashing? Do you need to go that step, as well, and really upgrade those?
TOM SILVA: I believe that no matter what kind of a roof you’re going to put on there – whether or not you’re in a high-wind area or just a standard roof – the underlayment is key. You want to make sure that you use a good underlayment. You want to make sure that you use a recommended underlayment by the manufacturer. They also have underlayments that are self-sealing membranes that if the roof blows off, it won’t leak anyways because of that membrane that’s under there.
Now, they have a couple of different types of those membranes. There’s a kind that doesn’t have any protection on it at all. And those self-sealing membranes have to be protected by the shingle themselves.
TOM: And that’s because if they weren’t covered by the shingles, they would just be exposed and break down because of the sun, correct?
TOM SILVA: Right. The UV will break it down.
TOM SILVA: But they have a self-sealing membrane with a granule on it. That granule protects it from the sun and it’s also less slippery for the guy that’s installing it, when they’re walking on it. So if that roof should blow off, you’re protected; you don’t have to worry about jumping up and redoing the roof or protecting that, because it’s not going to break down.
TOM: And if you keep the water out, your home is that much more protected structurally, of course.
TOM SILVA: Oh, absolutely. You don’t have to worry about mold, you don’t have to worry about insulation getting ruined, you don’t have to worry about it wrecking your drywall. So, the water is the enemy, that’s for sure.
TOM: And when we’re talking about underlayment, most people would be thinking about tar paper. But tar paper gives you almost no protection, correct?
TOM SILVA: Tar paper is a separation between the underside of the roof shingle and the surface of the sheathing. It does some collection of condensation but originally, it was started years ago. They used felt paper to protect the roof from breaking down from the pine that was in the pine boards, because they didn’t have plywood then. But it was basically a release so the shingles would slip. It’s still good to use a felt underlayment, though, of some type.
LESLIE: So if you’re considering a new roof, why not consider wind-resistant shingles, regardless of where you are? And if this is your step, do you put it over your existing roofing shingle or do you just start from scratch?
TOM SILVA: Well, let me answer the last question first. I don’t roof over any roof with a wind-resistant shingle or a standard shingle. I think it’s crazy to do that. It’s a – you’re going to have to pay to get rid of the shingles eventually anyways. If you’re just shingling because you want to shingle a house because you’re going to move, well, I still wouldn’t do it. I would strip off the roof, put the new shingles on. That way, I can check the condition of the sheathing, see if anything has to be repaired. And you’re lightening the load of the existing structure anyways.
LESLIE: And considering these high-wind shingles are more heavy …
TOM SILVA: They’re much more heavy.
TOM: And this way, you can really evaluate the structure and then attach it properly, because so much of this is making sure the installation is done correct. And if you’re trying to nail those through into old shingles, you’re just not going to have that same bite with the fasteners.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. No, I wouldn’t do it. Simple as that.
TOM: Good advice. Now, what about other roofing materials that might be suitable for high-wind areas? Metal roofs? Tile roofs? What do you think?
TOM SILVA: Well, a tile roof – for example, a composite roof shingle – they’re heavier, they’re stiffer. A wood roof, for example, is great because it doesn’t have very much flex in it at all. Again, the thickness of the shingle makes a big difference, too. We use a lot of wood roofs by the water, by the ocean, because of the wind; they don’t blow off. But you want to use a thicker shingle. You don’t want to use a sidewall wood shingle.
Metal roofs work good but again, they may require extra fasteners and you want to make sure that you use a heavy-gauge metal as opposed to the lighter-gauge metal. Because once the wind gets it, it’s going to roll back and fold.
TOM: Yeah, like a tin can, right?
LESLIE: Hmm. Peel it right back.
TOM: Peel it right back.
Good advice. Tom Silva, the general contractor on TV’s This Old House, good tips on how to make sure that your roof stays put, regardless of where you live and how much wind you get. Thanks, Tommy.
TOM SILVA: Thank you. It was my pleasure.
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 by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.
Up next, do you have a dirty deck? Well, before you head out back with a pressure washer, that might not be the best solution. We’ll explain the best way to get that deck clean for the season, next.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Now, one lucky caller who gets on the air with us is going to have a helping hand with your spring cleaning. And by helping hand, I mean we’re giving you the products so, in essence, we’re helping. We’re saving you some money. We’re not going to clean for you but we’re going to help you get it done a lot more easily.
It’s a prize pack from our friends over at Casabella. It’s worth 50 bucks and it includes a microfiber window washer. It squirts out just enough water to get your glass squeaky-clean. You’ve got to love it.
You can check it out online at Casabella.com. But pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Well, if you have a wood deck, part of your spring outdoor to-do list is probably going to include an inspection and a cleaning. And now is a good time to do that. You want to check those boards to see which ones are split, you want to check for worn fasteners, you want to check for loose railings. You want to check all those connection points where the deck is attached to the house. That is a really critical area to make sure you don’t have any rot or rust.
Now, it’s also a good time to clean your deck. And a good way to do this is to simply mix laundry detergent with water and then use a push broom to scrub it down. That works very well. Now, you might be tempted to grab a pressure washer and that might seem easier but here’s the problem: pressure washers can damage the wood pretty quickly.
And if the deck looks worn or faded after you’ve cleaned it, it might be a good time to think about staining and sealing the deck. And if that all sounds like a lot of work for you, it’s because it is, which is why maybe you’re also thinking this could be a good time to consider how you built your deck in the first place. And maybe it’s time for at least a restoration.
LESLIE: And if you’re considering a new deck or you want to restore an old deck by replacing the decking and railing materials, you might want to consider composite decking, like Trex Enhance. It’s in stock at The Home Depot.
Now, you’re going to get a realistic wood look but with none of those maintenance issues and hassles. Trex Enhance is a high-performance composite material. It’s not going to rot, warp, crack, splinter, which really saves a lot of maintenance headaches. And unlike wood, you will never, ever, ever need to stain, sand it, paint it. Nothing.
Now, Trex Enhance is a sponsor of our program and the product has a protective, three-sided shell that’s going to defend against severe weather and heavy foot traffic. Plus, it’s resistant to staining, fading, scratching and mold. And it’s backed by a 25-year limited residential fade and stain warranty.
TOM: And maintenance is really simple because the spills wash off very easily. And if you just give it a light cleaning once in a while with soap and water, that’s all you need to keep your deck looking great for years to come. In fact, by using Trex Enhance, you will spend your weekends relaxing on rather than maintaining your deck.
Hey, you can visit HomeDepot.Trex.com and see it for yourself. That’s HomeDepot.Trex.com.
LESLIE: Rob in Iowa is on the line with a bug/creepy-crawly question. Tell us what’s going on.
ROB: My wife and I picked up some bed bugs from a hotel we were in.
TOM: Oh, no.
ROB: Even though it was – oh, gosh, it’s been a mess. And we’ve had a professional come in. We’ve done – we’ve moved everything out of the room. We’ve bagged up all of our clothing and run it through the dryer. And we still – they’ve sprayed and we’ve still got residual bed bugs. Is there anything else we can do?
TOM: You know, there is a system out there where a professional can pretty much super-heat your house; they kind of turn the house into a bit of an oven inside. It’s a pretty big deal because you have to take out your plants and all that kind of stuff. But they pump in hot air and basically, what they do is they drive up with this, essentially, like a furnace on a truck. And they put these big supply ducts into the house and they overheat the house. And I forget what the temperature is they have to get it up to. It’s not a dangerous temperature but it basically …
LESLIE: No. I want to say it’s like 120 degrees or something.
TOM: It’s something like that but it heats everything up in the house for some number of hours and that completely wipes out the bed bugs, no matter where they are. So you don’t have to find them with the spray to catch them; you just overheat the house.
So if you can find an exterminator in your area that does heat treatments like that, that’s proven very effective at wiping bed-bug populations out for good.
ROB: Very good. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
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. So, does your home have some floors that are bumpy or maybe lumpy or just kind of plain uneven? We’re going to have a fix for those issues, after this.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
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TOM: And you can also get in on the second-place prize, which is one of five Honeywell Smart Wi-Fi Thermostats. And the third prize is enough energy-efficient light bulbs to power your whole house. Just go to MoneyPit.com, find the Facebook logo and start clicking.
And if you share the contest with your friends, you could win bonus entries for even more chances to win. So head on over to our website and get going, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And while you’re online, you can head on over to the Community section and post your question, just like Phil in Kansas did. And Phil writes: “I have a carpet on one of my floors now. I want to put down laminate but I know the concrete floor underneath the carpet isn’t perfectly flat. There’s some bumps. Is that going to be a problem?”
TOM: That is a pretty common question, Phil, because concrete is never perfectly flat. It looks flat to the eye but it usually isn’t flat when it comes to something like putting laminate on top of it.
So, a couple of things come to mind. First of all, you want to actually get a level out and measure how high those bumps are. Compare that to the manufacturer’s specs for how much of a bend in the floor, so to speak, the laminate is designed to take. Because they’re all designed to take a little bit and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got some laminate down in a kitchen floor and in my house – really old house – with a big hump in one place over near the sink. And we didn’t use a leveling compound, which is your other option. I just put it across that curve and I glued the laminate together. Even though it was locked together, I glued it. And it’s held that way for many years.
So, your other option, though, is – if you do have to straighten it out – is to use floor-leveling compound, which is a mix. It’s a powdered mix. You mix it up, you trowel it on and it sort of finds level in the floor. And you can take out or smooth out any of those rapid rises in the height of the floor so that you have more of an even transition.
And then the last thing to remember is this: when it comes to laminate floor, there’s always an underlayment that goes under it. And the underlayment is designed to take out some of those fine defects in the floor and give it a little more cushion and a bit of insulation.
So between all of those, I think you’ll be fine. Just remember the first thing to do is to actually measure the floor with a level to try to find out how far out it really is. And then you make your repair decisions based on that.
LESLIE: Alright. And Paul in Illinois wrote: “I keep getting mold growing under the grout around my bathtub. I pull the grout up and get rid of the mold, replace the grout and a month or so later, more mold. How do I stop this?”
TOM: Yeah. You know, Paul, when you have to keep doing the same project over and over and over again, that’s kind of what we call the Groundhog Day Home Improvement Project. Because, just like the movie, it just seems to repeat itself.
I think I know what’s going on, though. The problem is with probably the type of caulk that you’re using. First of all, you say you pulled the grout up to get rid of it. I think what you mean is the caulk. The grout is the stuff that goes between the tile. The caulk is what goes between the tile and the tub.
So, let me give you the step-by-step now to get rid of this once and for all and make sure it doesn’t come back. I want you to use a caulk softener, which is sort of like a paint stripper for caulk. And it will make sure that all of the caulk that’s in that seam between the tub and the tile is soft. You’ll be able to get it all scraped out.
Then I want you to wipe it down with a bleach-and-water solution and that will kill any mold that’s there. Then I want you to fill the tub with water so it’s nice and full and heavy, caulk it with a type of caulk that includes a mildicide. I would recommend DAP – D-A-P – because it has a product in it called Microban, which will simply not grow mold. After it dries, let the water out and you’ll be good to go.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. That’s all the time we have.
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 2013 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.)