Learn how to clean your stove’s vent hood for optimal performance. Find out how cleaning your shower head can increase your water pressure at little to no cost. Get info on switch plates that can be easily switched out to color coordinate with any décor at any time. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, adding insulation, garage floor repair, shutter installation, eliminating bathroom moisture, painting cabinets, leaky showers
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.
TOM: Happy Holidays, everybody. If you are busy tackling a home improvement project this time of year, it’s almost too late. No, actually, not really. There are a lot of quick and easy things that you can do to make your house ready for holiday guests that may be coming in the next couple of weeks. We are here to help at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And just as important, now is a great time to plan your projects for the year ahead. So if there’s something on your to-do list for 2014, we’d love to hear about it at 888-666-3974.
And with the holiday season here, it is also the season of cooking and hosting parties. And that means that your cooking equipment – your stoves, your ranges, your microwaves – they all get a good workout this time of year. So we’re going to start with a few tips this hour on how to take care of one of those appliances and that is your stove’s range hood. Because it turns out that it has a big impact on the air quality in your house. We’ll have some tips on how to keep that clean and working properly, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, if you’re finding that maybe you’ve got a lot of houseguests, everybody’s taking a shower, maybe you’re noticing that your morning shower doesn’t quite have the kick that you’re used to. Well, low water pressure, that could be the culprit. We’re going to tell you how to get that invigorating flow back.
TOM: Plus, we’re going to talk about a quick and easy way to add a touch of dramatic décor to your lighting.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a Bostitch 246-Piece Mechanics Tool Set. It’s worth $200. It makes a great gift but it could also be an awesome gift for you. Hey, there’s no reason why you can’t give yourself a holiday present.
But if you’re in the need of a gift for a do-it-yourselfer out there, you should check out our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. It’s sponsored by our friends over at Stanley. And you can find it all at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: And if you’d like to win that Bostitch 246-Piece Mechanics Tool Set, you need to go to the phone, dial us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and ask us your home improvement question. We’re standing by, so give us a call right now, 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That kit’s going out to one caller drawn at random at the end of today’s program. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Carol in Texas is working on a painting project. How can we lend a hand?
CAROL: We are painting our bathroom cabinets. They are – they were put in the bathroom in 1980-something. I’m not sure about the date. We bought this house – the people lived in it 28 years and we’ve been here almost 9 years. And they’re kind of a maple color and they’re not very attractive. I’ve used that Orange Glo on them trying to make them look better. I don’t know what they used on them. Probably Liquid Gold or something trying to bring out the sheen.
But it’s just almost beyond the point. And I’d like to have new cabinets but when we do, we’re probably going to have to redo the whole bathroom, so we decided we would paint them kind of an off-white color.
What we want to know is: what’s the approach to making that paint stay on?
LESLIE: Now, you said that the cabinets are maple color. Are they actually wood and they’re stained?
CAROL: Yeah, that’s the stain on them. They’re stained.
LESLIE: So they’re stained wood. It’s not like a thermofoil that looks like wood or a laminate? It’s wood.
CAROL: No, it’s real wood. They’re real wood cabinets.
LESLIE: Now, if they’ve been stained and restained over the course of a couple of years and you’ve got a lot of coatings of a cleaner on there, your best bet would be – and this is how I would kind of tackle it. I would remove the doors and the drawer fronts, being very careful about labeling which goes where, you know? A little piece of painters tape on the back side and a little piece on the hinge saying, “A-A or 1-1,” just so you know exactly where things go back.
And I would leave the hinges either on the door or on the box. It’s kind of easier to leave them on the box, just for painting issues. And this way, you know exactly where everything goes back; that just kind of keeps things tidy.
And then, you really need to get some of that sheen off. So you could do it a couple of different ways. You could use something that’s like a liquid sandpaper that you wipe on that gets rid of some of that sheen. But if it’s a super-high gloss and they’ve been oiled or polished over the years and they’re very sort of gunked up, almost, with a lot of finish on them, you may want to sand them down a little bit. Because you need to get down to something that’s a little bit not so glossy and so built up from years of cleaning and just the yuck that happens in the bathroom, just so that you’ve got a surface that the paint’s going to stick to.
And once you’ve done that to the doors or drawer fronts and the boxes themselves in the bathroom, you need to prime it very well with a high-quality primer. I would use KILZ or Zinsser – one of those that’ll stick very, very well – let that dry very thoroughly and then go ahead with your top-coat paint. And because it’s in a bathroom and because it’s a high-moisture area and it’s something that you’re going to want to be cleaning a lot, I would go with a glossy finish and an oil base if I can get my hands on one. If not, a glossy latex will do the trick but more durable, of course, would be the oil base.
CAROL: Thank you and I appreciate your help.
TOM: Carol, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to John in Iowa who’s dealing with a leaky shower. Tell us what’s going on.
JOHN: Went and got a shower on my main floor, where it basically leaks onto the floor in the basement. And when I removed the 2-inch trap – this is a home that was built in ‘41 but it’s been remodeled recently, probably within the last 10 years or at least the shower has – I noticed there wasn’t a whole lot of room between the tile and the flooring or the main wood behind it, as well as they sealed up the drain. It was basically just a 2-inch PVC sealed with some sort of cement and then a drain popped on top of it.
And I’m curious – I mean how can I remedy this issue? Obviously, it needs a proper drain. But I couldn’t find anything to fit the hole that they had.
TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, it’s still leaking and you’re in the middle of this project? Is that correct, John?
JOHN: Well, I just bought this home and I basically said, “OK. We’re not using this shower. We have an upstairs shower that we can use during the remediation process.”
TOM: Is this a tile shower?
TOM: So, with a 1940 tile shower, the first thing I would expect to leak is the lead pan. And the way those showers are built is there’s a lead pan put in against the drain, then the tile is put on top of the lead. And so, over the years, those pans would crack. And the way you test a lead pan is simply by blocking the shower drain and then filling up the bottom of the shower with as much water as you can get in there – usually 4 or 5 inches of water – and then wait and see what happens.
So if it’s possible for you to test the pan, I would do that before I start assuming that the leak was at the drain. Because it might very well be that the drain is not leaking; the pan is leaking. And if that’s the case, then you have to tear out the shower base and rebuild it.
JOHN: Ah, I see. Alright.
TOM: It’s the lead pan. Because a pan that’s 60, 70 years old, they just don’t last that long.
TOM: OK? So seal it off, test it off. You know what works well? One of those – you know those rubber jar openers that are about 6 inches in diameter?
TOM: Put that across the drain, fill it up with water and then watch for a leak.
JOHN: Alright. I’ll try that.
TOM: OK, John. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, I used to check those pans for leaks all the time that way. And we got – you get smart after the first time this happens to you – is that you never let that water sit very long. Like you fill it up, you go downstairs immediately and see if it’s leaking.
LESLIE: Really? It’s that fast when you’ve got a crack in the pan?
TOM: Sometimes, yes. Because if it’s going to leak, if it’s a bad crack, you – it may never have been discovered or it might have been so slow. But by filling the whole pan up with water, you prove it very quickly that it’s leaking. So that’s why we always check very quickly to see if there’s a leak. And then if not, fill it up, let it sit there for a half hour and go back and check again.
But it’s a very, very common area for a leak and unfortunately, a very expensive one because think about it: you’ve got to tear out all that tile and you’ve got to rebuild that pan. And today, of course, we don’t use lead; we usually use fiberglass. But it’s a pretty big renovation. Probably a couple thousand bucks worth of work.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Just a few, short weeks left to the big holiday. So if you’ve got guests, if you’ve got some projects you want to finish up before they come a-knocking or Santa jumps down that chimney, give us a call. We’ll help you get everything in tip-top shape. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
TOM: At 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Still to come, with the holiday season upon us, your cooking appliances are probably getting a bit of a workout. So we’ve got tips on the easiest way to keep your range hood clean and grease-free, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Diamond Crystal Salt. The benefits are bigger than you expected. After all, you’re worth your salt. Diamond Crystal Salt. A brilliant choice since 1886.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain MyQ Garage. When you forget, it alerts your smartphone so you can close your door from anywhere, on most garage-door openers. Available now. For more information, go to Chamberlain.com.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we have got a great prize to give away to one lucky caller on today’s program. It’s a 246-piece mechanics tool set from Bostitch. It’s got a lot of cool things in it. The ratchet handle is contoured, it’s ergonomically designed for a very comfortable grip. The socket sizes are very easy to identify with stamped markers and it comes with the Bostitch lifetime warranty.
Going out to one caller drawn at random, so get on the phone and call us right now with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? We both think that this Bostitch set is so amazing that we’re actually featuring it on our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. And you can check out this gift and other ideas at MoneyPit.com, especially if you’ve got a do-it-yourselfer on your list and you’re just stumped as to what’s new out there. Got some good ideas for you to get the perfect present.
LESLIE: Mark in Tennessee needs some help adding some insulation to the attic space. Tell us about the project.
MARK: What I have is a 23-year-old, split-level home. And I’ve got about 800 square feet over the bedrooms and the two bathrooms upstairs, with only very, very limited access to the attic area. There’s one hole that’s 18x12, which was put in the original house, and the other is an outside gable vent, which is 18x18. And those are the only two ways that I can get into to add insulation. Neither one would be good for a blower or the rolls couldn’t get through the holes. Help me, help me.
TOM: Put a bigger attic access in there. It’s a very easy thing to do. You simply have to cut more of the drywall out. In the same way that that access point was put in to begin with, you could certainly put a larger one in. Just cut the drywall back along the ceiling joist. You need to sort of frame it out so it’s square on the ends and then you can make a panel that drops in there to keep it closed. Best place to do that, of course, is in a closet where it’s not very obvious.
Now, do you have much height in that attic? Would it be worth putting a stair – an attic stair – in?
MARK: Well, it would be too tight for a stair. And the current access is located in a shallow closet anyway.
TOM: Can that be opened up and made larger?
MARK: Not the depth of the closet, no. I could go width of the closet but I’m guessing I’m going to be hitting some trusses.
TOM: Well, the thing is you’re going to work around the trusses. If you’ve got trusses, they’re probably 24 inches on center. That’s where most trusses are set. So make the width of the opening 24 inches and make the depth of it about 36. And that would be plenty big enough to get a ladder up into that hole and get yourself up there and anything else that you need to get up there, as well.
MARK: Well, outstanding. That’s why I listen and that’s why I call.
TOM: Good luck, Mark. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, this is the time of year when cooking and kitchen use peaks and that includes your stove’s range hood. And at least in my house, I found that is something very difficult to keep clean. But it’s important because besides removing the grease, that range hood can actually help make sure your indoor air quality is better than just about any other appliance in the kitchen.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, while some kitchens are designed with either recirculating hoods or hoods that are incorporated into a microwave unit, the best choice that you can make, if you can make this choice, is a range hood that vents to the outside of your house and not back into the kitchen space.
TOM: Yeah. Because if you think about it, whenever you cook a meal, you get the smoke, the grease and all the other pollutants that come off of that food. And they can linger for days and then they can settle on the surfaces, on the cabinets, on the countertops. They can discolor your wall finishes and they can really stink up the house, as well. So it’s important to have a properly functioning, good-quality range hood to keep that air clean.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And also important is no matter what type of range hood that you do have at home, you want to make sure that you clean it regularly. You know, a simple solution of ammonia and water is going to work very, very well as a degreaser. Also, whatever your filter is on that vent hood, you need to clean it or change it as often as needed.
Now, they get covered in grease and they’re not going to perform efficiently. And in addition to not working great, they also become a fire hazard when they’re caked on with all that grease. So, stay on top of it, change out the filters. If you’ve got one that you can wash – some of them, you can even put in the dishwasher. So just pay attention to the manufacturer’s direction and stay on top of that unit and it’ll work really well for you.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question.
Remember, we’ve got that great Bostitch 246-Piece Mechanics Tool Set going out to one lucky caller to today’s program.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Robin in Oregon who’s dealing with some mold issues. Tell us what’s going on.
ROBIN: In our bathroom, there just seems to be a lot of moisture. I don’t know if the exhaust fan is working properly or not. On one of your shows, you’d mentioned Concrobium, so I sprayed that in the shower and that seems to help stave it off. But we use a fan, we use the exhaust fan and we use a dehumidifier.
And I noticed on the outside, I guess, outtake vents, there’s a whole bunch of black stuff. And then also in our sinks, underneath the faucet, there’s mold back in behind that hole. So I’m wondering, is this going to be a health concern or how do I stop some of this mold?
TOM: Well, I mean the solution comes down to managing moisture and it sounds like you’re doing the right things. But one common mistake that people make with exhaust fans is that they don’t leave them on long enough after you take a bath or a shower. They really have to stay on, sometimes, 15 or 20 minutes to properly dry out the room.
ROBIN: Well, I know – well, I can’t speak for my husband but I know that I do, just because I’ve got a fan running, I’ve got a dehumidifier and I’ve – we’ve also got the exhaust fan and it is the biggest one that you can have. And I’m wondering if just because of our moist area we need to get two of them so it’s directly over the shower? I don’t know. But I’m worried that through the whole pipe that leads to the outside, is that all filled with mold in there if the outside vent shows mold?
TOM: Well, the vent that’s taking the air from the bathroom out, is that what you’re seeing on the outside wall?
ROBIN: I’m not seeing on the wall, just on the vent itself, you know where the – I guess where the air goes out to the outside? That whole vent is all moldy-looking.
TOM: Well, a lot of people look at vents that are dirty and call it mold. I think it would be unusual for it to be moldy, because you would have to have a pretty strong food source there. And the only thing you’re going to have coming out that vent is a bit of dust, which could be a mold source but it’s very unusual for it to really develop. So I think you might just be seeing a dirty vent. It’s much more likely that what you’re seeing there is dirt and not mold.
But I would say this: if you want to eliminate the possibility of moisture inside the bathroom, what you want to do is you want to make sure that the exhaust fan – the bathroom fan – is wired to a humidistat.
And if you take a look at the fans that are made by Broan-NuTone, they actually have a new one coming out, I know, that has a humidistatic control. And I think they have some others, as well. But we just saw one last week, though, at a major trade show called the International Builders’ Show that they were releasing for the first time.
But if you get one of these fans that’s got a humidistatic control in it, then you don’t have to worry about whether or not somebody’s leaving it on or not. It just stays on until the moisture goes down and then automatically goes off. So, it kind of takes you out of the equation.
TOM: And your husband. Because he could be the problem.
ROBIN: I don’t have to be a grouch and say, “Turn that back on.” OK.
TOM: You do not. You do not.
ROBIN: Alright. Well, I will try those. And the Concrobium is working great in the shower, so that was an excellent tip from before.
TOM: Our pleasure. Glad it worked out for you. Robin, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still to come, tips on how to fix problems with low water pressure. You might be surprised to learn that it’s not actually a plumbing issue; it’s a cleaning one. We’re not commenting on your cleaning habits. It might even be somewhere you didn’t even think to look. We’re going to give you the solution, next.
MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and look, if you think I’ve got it dirty, listen to Tom. He works in a pit. Well, it’s a money pit but you get the idea. It’s still filthy.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, if you have a home improvement question or you’d like to show off your project and find out what other folks are working on, you can visit MoneyPit.com and check out the Community section. You’ll get answers to all your questions and you can also check in with other Money Pit fans, as well. It’s all free, it’s all online at MoneyPit.com. And we will be answering some of those questions from our Community section, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Ruth in Michigan on the line. How can we help you today?
RUTH: I have an older house that’s in need of some pizzazz and wanted to put shutters over my vinyl siding. Is that possible? And how would I attach them?
TOM: Yeah, it’s done all the time. And there are special fasteners that are used in that situation so that you pierce the siding without causing a leak to happen. And most of the shutter companies will sell those as part of the shutter, too, so you certainly can do that.
You do want to be careful not to squish the siding because, remember, the siding is somewhat soft. And so as long as you’re careful about the way they attach, you certainly can have shutters on top of vinyl. OK, Ruth?
RUTH: Alright. Well, good. I was wondering if it could be a do-it-yourself project.
TOM: Absolutely. Ruth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever stepped into a shower hoping for a good wakening, only to find a less-than-inspiring trickle, you know how frustrating poor water pressure can be.
TOM: Ah, yes. But the power of a good shower may not be out of reach. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating expert on TV’s This Old House is here with tips to help restore the flow once again.
RICHARD: Hi, guys. Nice to be back.
TOM: Now, if you’re faced with poor water pressure, where does that diagnosis begin?
RICHARD: Well, you’ve got to figure out where the restriction is. So let’s think about a plumbing system. Most people have their water that comes from the municipal water supply. So if all the house, every fixture has low water pressure, you have to think, “OK. That means it must be in the water main that’s coming in from the street.”
So, there are people with water mains that are made out of galvanized – even old lead lines. And what happens is over time, the inside of those pipes can get so small that you can look in them when you cut them out later and it might be no bigger than a pencil.
LESLIE: It’s like a clogged artery.
RICHARD: Absolutely. Completely clogged.
RICHARD: And so, you’d start and you’d have to really replace the entire water main from the front of your building – from inside the front of your building – all the way out to the sidewalk. So that’s if it’s the whole …
LESLIE: And that’s a homeowner cost, I’m assuming.
RICHARD: Yes. They got us. The town takes it from their street.
TOM: They’re pretty smart about that.
RICHARD: That’s right. And so, that’s one that we see quite a bit. More than you’d think. People live with this old water main and they don’t want to go to that expense to live – to dig up the front yard.
Now, if your water pressure is just low on the hot-water side but everywhere in the building, you could – you should look at how the hot water is made and is there either a thing called a tankless – it’s inside of a boiler. And the cold water goes in and gets heated and then it comes back, yeah, after it’s been heated and goes through a really small, little mixing valve. And that could be clogged down. And so, if just the hot fixtures are low in pressure, then look at your hot-water supply and there’s some impediment to flow that you’ve got to get rid of or clean.
And then, finally, if it’s just at a fixture, then you’ve got to look at is …
LESLIE: Now, is that the easiest fix?
RICHARD: Yeah, then it’s an aerator or – we had one that we did on Ask This Old House that the water pressure was so low. And we opened up the aerator on the bottom of the faucet and we found all Teflon tape and all kinds of things that had clogged it. But the symptom that it gave you was low water pressure. And it really wasn’t; it just was that it couldn’t get through the fixture.
TOM: Very, very simple matter of relieving that clog, essentially, and the flow is restored once again.
RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right. Right. But you really start by thinking like a detective. “OK. Where is the problem? And let’s work backwards and sort of solve for X by figuring out where the low water pressure is.”
So, the other thing is the piping system in a building. Now, in the 30s and 40s, in many parts of this country, they used not copper piping but they used galvanized-steel piping. And so, galvanized-steel piping is indeed a metal, so now it can rust from the inside. And so, if hot and cold is low pressure in the house but you proved that you’ve got good water pressure coming in from the street, then you’ve got to literally repipe the house.
And that sounds scary. Most people, at first glance, would do it with copper. But nowadays, we’re seeing alternative plastics. There’s a thing called PEX, which is this soft, plastic piping that you can run like wire. And you can completely repipe a house in way shorter a period of time and get new, clean water supply anywhere in the building.
TOM: And if you do have that galvanized piping, I guess the rule of thumb is that if you do open up a wall, do any kind of renovation, never put it back together without replacing it.
RICHARD: Oh, yeah. Every chance you open up a wall, think about how to do it for the next 50 years. Don’t leave a little piece of it in there; get rid of it when you can.
LESLIE: Is there ever a need to install a pressure booster? That you’ve tried every source and really investigated every possibility and it’s just low water pressure?
RICHARD: Yeah. I mean there are towns in my local area that the town itself cannot provide much more than 30 to 40 pounds of pressure. Now, that’s not always enough for some people; they want 50 and a little bit more.
So for that, down in the basement, they put in a pressure booster. And it’s a way to bring water in and have a little pump that’s sort of going to pump water to a higher pressure, into a little holding reservoir/tank that’s down in your basement. Now, when you open your faucet, you get that higher pressure. It’s painful because it’s expensive to do but anybody that’s lived with low water pressure and sort of sat under a showerhead hoping to get enough water, the pain of that pressure booster goes away really quick.
TOM: Goes away really pretty quickly, right?
RICHARD: That’s right. Nothing beats a really good shower.
TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey. He is the plumbing-and-heating expert on TV’s This Old House and Ask This Old House.
So, Richard, another problem that we have with water pressure occurs when you get this – sort of this imbalance in hot and cold, usually while your spouse is taking a shower and you hear a shriek from the shower?
RICHARD: Oh, yeah. Oh.
TOM: How do we deal with that? What’s causing that to have a pressure problem?
RICHARD: This is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart, you know? When we have a standard, old-fashioned showerhead – a hot handle and a cold handle – the two temperatures would mix and come out through the showerhead. And when you flush the toilet, all of a sudden, the cold pressure disappeared. That meant nothing but hot coming out of the showerhead.
They make a thing called a “pressure-balance shower valve.” They make it that you can retrofit them into any house, with a little repair plate that’s just – it’s just brilliant. It means no matter what happens, somebody flushes the toilet, you get the same, consistent temperature. It really eliminates any chance of scalding in the shower.
And it’s a dangerous condition. You’re very vulnerable being in there with way too hot a water, stuck behind your little shower curtain with your little ducky and your little shower cap, so …
LESLIE: And small kids who love to flush toilets.
RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.
TOM: So what happens is the flow may change, the flow may reduce but that balance between hot and cold stays consistent. The mix …
LESLIE: The mix is the same.
RICHARD: That’s right. It stays always in proportion with each other. And so, if cold drops, hot drops, too. But the key is that the temperature stays consistent.
TOM: Fantastic invention. That will save marriages.
RICHARD: Yeah. It’s a little …
LESLIE: Yes. But I still like to fill a pitcher with icy-cold water and dump it over the top of the shower once in a while.
TOM: That’s cruel.
RICHARD: Well, I don’t do marriage counseling.
LESLIE: Once in a while.
TOM: Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating expert on TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
RICHARD: Always great to be here.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.
And still ahead, when you decide to makeover a room, you paint the walls, you get all done, then you’ve got to put the switch plates back and you go, “Oh, no. They don’t match.” Well, guess what? There’s a new type of outlet, a new type of dimmer, a new type of switch out there that has interchangeable switch plates that allow you to change it to match any new décor you choose. We’re going to tell you all about it, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
One of you lucky callers who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a very great prize. We’ve got a 246-piece mechanics tool set from Bostitch.
Now, it’s a heavy-duty ratchet that’s got a 72-tooth gear system, so you’re going to get great torque, super-accessibility. All of the sockets have anti-slip rings, so they’re going to grip really easily. And it all comes with that fantastic Bostitch lifetime warranty.
TOM: The Bostitch 246-Piece Mechanics Tool Set is just one of the prizes featured in our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide online, right now, at MoneyPit.com. Check it out. Lots of great gift ideas right there. You’ll find the perfect gift for the do-it-yourselfer on your gift list.
And give us a call right now if you’d like to win that Bostitch 246-Piece Mechanics Tool Set. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, when you change the color of your room’s walls and your accessories, the color choices for the switches, the outlets and the dimmers is usually limited to the following: you’ve got white, ivory, light almond or brown, right? Well, not anymore.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, there’s a great, new product line on the market from Leviton called Renu. And it actually gives homeowners the opportunity to have all of your wall accents in a palette of 20 different colors, including a stainless-steel look, which would really be fantastic in a kitchen.
TOM: And the cool part is this: once Renu is installed, you can change the colors very simply. So there’s an innovative color-change kit. You can change your mind and your décor as often as you like. You simply pop off the old one, pop on the new one and you’re good to go in seconds, literally.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the cool part is that the Renu wall plates are screwless. And all Renu devices are textured, so they’re actually going to help mask those fingermarks, where if you’ve got small kids like me, I feel like fingermarks are on everything.
LESLIE: So, anything you can do to make those fingermarks less obvious, this is great. And because the wall plates and the color kits are easily removable, it really makes cleaning them a snap. Prices for all of the wall plates start at just $6, so it really is an affordable, sort of room do-over that you can do. It comes in vibrant colors, sculpted lines. It really is an instant makeover.
Check them out – they’re very cool – at Leviton.com/Renu. And that’s R-e-n-u.
TOM: Leviton.com/Renu. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. If you’ve got a décor project on your mind, we’d love to hear it. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got John in Missouri on the line with a garage question. Tell us what’s going on.
JOHN: This drainage has caused the one part of the garage slab to drop.
JOHN: And we knew it when we bought the house. It’s gotten a little worse every year. And I guess my big question is: what are my options as far as repairing it? And then, what I’ve – kind of look into – I haven’t got anybody out to look at it and give me estimates yet. Is mudjacking and curing it as opposed to just not doing anything – and then when it’s too bad, just ripping out the concrete and repouring another slab. So I guess that’s the question that I have.
TOM: The fact that you had all these contractors come out and look at the slab and look at the house and give you a whole wide range of solutions is typical. When you call somebody that’s in the concrete-repair business, they’re going to come out and recommend a concrete repair. So you were very smart to call in the independent, professional home inspector and therein got the correct advice – was simply fix the drainage and everything else will take care of itself.
JOHN: The best 500 bucks I ever spent in my life.
TOM: Exactly. So now that you fixed the drainage, you’ve got this slab that’s settled down and you’re wondering, “What do I do with it?” I would not recommend, with a garage slab, doing anything as expensive as mudjacking or anything of that nature. The cost of that procedure is not worth just trying to save the slab. That slab will break up very, very easily – surprisingly easily – with a jackhammer or even a sledgehammer, frankly.
And you would tear that out, relevel the floor, compress it, pack it properly and pour a new slab. So that’s the most cost-effective and permanent, long-term solution. Everything else would – I think would be a waste of money and very speculative.
JOHN: Thank you. I appreciate that. Like I said, I haven’t had anybody come out and really look at it yet. It’s kind of one of those ankle-biter kind of things that …
TOM: Well, here’s what’s going to happen, John. If you have somebody that’s in the mudjacking business come out there, they’re going to say, “Hey, you need mudjacking,” OK? If you have a mason come out there and he tells you to tear it out and put a new one in, I’d agree with that. I think that’s the best thing to do.
John, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, regardless of whether your home is just a few years old or much older, chances are it might not be up to today’s insulation standards. We’re going to tell you how to get it there, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, celebrating their 170-year anniversary. At Stanley, making history is our future. To learn more, visit StanleyTools.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And hey, if you follow us on Facebook, you can get a shot at winning one of three fantastic prizes we’re giving away in the Santa’s Sweepstakes. We’ve got a gorgeous electric fireplace from Dimplex. A Dimplex fireplaces gives you added heat and a beautiful focal point to any room of your house. Enter now, at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
LESLIE: And while you’re online, if you’ve got a question that you just don’t feel like asking us over the phone, maybe you’re feeling shy, you can post your question in the Community section at MoneyPit.com, just like Mark from Ohio did. And he writes: “I’m debating on getting my old home insulated. It was built in 1941 and I don’t believe there is any insulation. Where should I add insulation first?”
Now, Mark, this is a project that I actually just tackled. And I know where Tom is going to go with this and I sort of had a two-prong approach.
TOM: Yeah. I mean look, it depends on how much work you want to do. I will say that remember this: heat rises, OK? So the first place to look is up in the attic. And as luck would have it, it’s also the easiest place for you to add additional insulation.
If you have existing insulation, if it’s not too settled or sagged, you can add more right on top of that. You want to use unfaced fiberglass batts or blown-in fiberglass. They can go right on top of the existing insulation.
If you’ve got a floor down there, what you might want to think about doing is – you don’t have to tear up the floor. You can carve off a part of that floor, sort of reserve that for storage, then just lay the fiberglass batts on top of the other areas of the floor. So, again, you build up that sort of 12 to 18 inches of insulation. That’s the easiest place to go.
Second easiest to that would be the floor. If you’re on a crawlspace, this is particularly important. You want to insulate from the bottom up. The worst place to have to do this – as Leslie will testify to, I’m sure – is your walls. But of course, that makes it much more comfortable in terms of preventing the drafts.
So, Leslie, you tackled this by sort of working from the outside in and you did it in conjunction with another project, which was to re-side your house. I think that’s important to note. Because if you weren’t doing that siding project, you probably wouldn’t have done the insulation because it just would have been impossibly difficult.
LESLIE: No. And I think it’s hard for me to sort of gauge whether it’s the wall insulation or the additional insulation I add in the attic is making the significant difference. Because we – in November, we had some extremely cold days and I noticed that when the house would heat up, it would stay warm and I wouldn’t have to continually crank the heat. And I didn’t feel the drafts blowing across my lap, as I had prior to.
So I can’t tell you whether it’s the walls or whether it’s the attic but I think working together – and you’re right: I wanted to re-side the house, I wanted to add the insulation. I didn’t want to blow in from the interior because I live in a 100-year-old house that’s all plaster on the inside. And granted, it’s small, but when you’ve got young kids – and the idea of drilling into plaster walls to blow in from the interior and then reskim-coating every surface and then painting – you know, it may have been easier in the long run, with the process that I had to re-side this house.
LESLIE: But the process of – once my siding was off and I was open to the sheathing, they – a truck showed up and blew this in, literally, in five hours in my entire house. So, it was amazing.
TOM: The installation part takes seconds. It’s the get-ready that costs the money.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the re-putting up the siding after.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We hope that your holiday season is going well. If you are pondering a project for this time of year or the new year, we’d love to hear from you at 888-MONEY-PIT. Any time of the day or night, you can pick up the phone and call us. If we’re not in the studio, we will take the message and get back to you the next time we are.
Remember, you can also post your question on our Facebook page or also in the Community section at MoneyPit.com. Any way you like to work, we’d like to answer your question. So let’s get to it. The number, again: 888-MONEY-PIT. The website: MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online.
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.