The one downside to technology is that there is always the latest version of every gadget to upgrade! Learn where and how to get rid of those old electronics you are quickly out growing. Trees go dormant winter but that doesn’t mean they don’t need care. Learn what to do in winter to help them thrive this spring. And find out what ice dams are and why they could spell trouble for your roof. Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, stained siding, pet damaged floors, pellet stoves, pressure valves, attic venting, painting a brick fireplace, universal design in bathrooms.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And this officially concludes the ho-ho-home improvement season, Leslie.
LESLIE: It sure does.
TOM: The holidays have passed. New Year’s is just ahead. And we are here to help you plan for a fantastic new year when it comes to taking care of your house.
So think about it: do you have a New Year’s resolution in mind to paint a room, replace a roof, add a deck, replace your kitchen, buy a house? Let’s talk about those plans. We’re here to help you get the job done or at least get started on the right foot. You’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Well, if you picked up a new gadget – a new electronic gadget – this holiday season, you may find that you’ve got some old, outdated ones that you don’t know what to do with. We’ve got some tips, this hour, on how you can recycle all that e-trash, including computers and phones and more, and in some cases make a few bucks in the process.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, in the hubbub of all the holiday season, you know, winter actually sneaks in on us on December 21st. So if you were too distracted by the Christmas tree, know that it is now officially winter. And looking around your yard, your trees might look dead during this season but actually, they’re just hibernating. And what happens now will actually affect how well they thrive come springtime. So we’re going to share some expert advice from an arborist on six things that you should be doing now for great growth later.
TOM: Plus, speaking of looking around your yard, have you looked up at your roof lately? Spotted some of those pretty icicles hanging off the edge of your roof? Well, they look nice but they can lead to leaks, which can destroy the walls and the ceilings inside your house. It’s called an “ice dam.” We’re going to talk about that, this hour, and give you some tips on how you can avoid it once and for all.
LESLIE: And one caller is going to win the gift of advice for the entire year. We’re giving away a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. And it’ll actually give you a lifetime of home improvement advice. We’ll even sign it for you, so pick up the phone and give us a call.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Sandra in South Dakota has a question about tile flooring. How can we help you with your project?
SANDRA: We bought a house that was built in ‘78 and I don’t think it’s been updated since then.
SANDRA: And I want to start my redo with my bathroom.
SANDRA: And I’ve been wondering – I don’t know whether I should go porcelain or ceramic or – I’m stuck on what type of tile I should use.
TOM: OK. So, I see here that you told our screener that you want a tile that can hold up to cats, dogs and kids.
TOM: Either porcelain or ceramic will work but porcelain will be very expensive for you. And ceramic tile, there’s so many options in it. As long as you get a glazed tile and that you use an epoxy grout, that combination will be very easy to clean.
SANDRA: OK, great. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Kurt in North Carolina on the line who’s working on a restoration. Tell us about the project.
KURT: So I’ve got 2x6 floor joists spanning 15 feet. And I’d like to know if I rip some ¾-inch plywood and sister it up against the 2x6s and glue and screw it, if that would be sufficient. My crawlspace has six vents under the floor and I want to seal them up. I read it doesn’t need cross-ventilation. It’s kind of old-school. And I put six-mil poly on the ground. Your thoughts, please.
TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, in terms of beefing up the floor joists, sistering the floor joists by doubling them – I don’t necessarily think I would use plywood on them; I would double them. Well, I mean it may not be flimsy but the thing is, if you want to sister a floor joist and help support it, you need to go from bearing point to bearing point. So if it’s going from a girder to an exterior wall, the sister beam has to go the same length.
TOM: You know, another thing that you could do, Kurt, is you could run another girder, at the midpoint of that 15 feet, from end to end. Now, it doesn’t necessarily have to be – has to be as strong as the main girder for the house, because you’re really just taking the flex out of it. So if you poured a small footing underneath it and just got something in there to kind of stiffen the floor, that would take the bounce out.
KURT: Right. Yeah, I thought about that on the main floor but my second story, I didn’t want to – if I put a glulam in, I only have 7 feet, 5 inches to ceiling height.
TOM: I understand. So, doubling them is a solution, as well as using a mid-span girder.
KURT: Alright, sir. I appreciate the information.
TOM: You’re welcome, Kurt. 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. Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question or even your home improvement resolution for 2014. We’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, out with the old and in with the new. Electronics, that is. We’re going to teach you how to get rid of those electronics the right way and maybe even make a few bucks in the process.
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: Happy New Year, everybody. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a fantastic prize. It is a graffiti-strewn copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. And if you prefer us not sign it so perhaps you can resell it on eBay for a couple of bucks, we can do that, too.
So give us a call, right now, for your chance to win an autographed copy of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure and the answer to your home improvement question, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Louis from Michigan on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you?
LOUIS: The house was built in 1929. The siding – it’s a siding question. The siding is asbestos concrete shingles. We have iron in our well water. When spring – the flowers – the water has accumulated, over the years, on the shingles. Now, one wall of the house now has a golden glow. Any recommendations for removing the iron-golden glow?
TOM: Well, if it’s siding, you’re going to have to clean it and paint it. That’s the only thing you can really do. You could wash this house down, you can use a TSP – trisodium phosphate. That will tend to take out some of that. But you’re going to end up having to paint this siding.
The nice thing about asbestos is it lasts forever. The not-so-nice thing about it is it has to be painted forever. But it’s a non-organic product, so it will not rot, it will not fall apart organically. But it doesn’t look very nice and it does absorb a stain and needs to be constantly maintained.
Because the asbestos is held inside of a cement binder, it’s not a safety risk; it’s just really a maintenance headache.
LOUIS: Appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Carol on the line from Oregon. How can we help you today?
CAROL: Well, I’ve got a problem. I should know better but I have rented to people with – who brought in a puppy.
TOM: OK. Oh, that’s terrible.
CAROL: And now I’ve got to deal with lots of urine, fecal. It’s damage that’s probably been on there too long, too deep. Gone through the carpet to the pad to the subfloor. So, my question is: can the stain ever be removed? I’m thinking I should just take everything up. My question would be what to put down new. Replace the subfloors? Solution? People have said something about KILZ and something like Zenix (ph) or something like that.
LESLIE: Well, it really depends. If you even want to attempt salvaging the rug that’s there – generally, with a rental situation, you’re probably better off with a tile or a laminate floor just because of cleanability. And then let the folks bring in their own area rugs. But if you want to attempt to sort of get the stain away, get the odor away, there’s a product that I used when I was training our dog, who was untrainable for the first year. And it’s on a website called JustRite and it’s R-i-t-e.com. And it’s called 1-2-3 Odor Free.
And it’s like a series of different products. One’s a stain remover, one’s an odor remover and it sort of neutralizes through enzymes. And there’s an injector that you use to get through the carpet and into the padding and into the subfloor. And I kid you not, it works. Because there was a spot at the top of the steps that Daisy just loved and no problems to this day.
So, you might want to try that. However, if there is a lot of stuff to deal with, your best bet is probably to just pull everything off and you’re right about wanting to seal that subfloor. Because if you don’t put a primer – a good one – on top of it, whatever you put on top, get a humid day and you’re going to notice it.
TOM: Yeah, so that’s why, Carol, what you want to do is use an oil-based primer like a KILZ or a B-I-N. There are a number of different primers out there but I would use the oil-based ones for a problem like this because they’re going to do a better job of sealing in odor.
CAROL: OK. And if I do decide to put down a rug – because this is a house I would like to sell future forward; it’s a nice house – is there a type of rug that can better be cleaned?
LESLIE: OK, yeah. It is from Mohawk and it’s a carpet that they call SmartStrand. And it’s got built-in stain- and soil-resistance that’s never, never, never going to wear off or wash off or clean off. And it feels soft. And it’s environmentally friendly because it’s made in part with a recycled plastic.
And I think it was last year at the Builders’ Show – Tom and I were at the event – and they were just launching this SmartStrand product. And they had taken carpeting and carpeted the pen of an elephant at the zoo and left it in there for a year and then took it off, cleaned it and brought a patch in and had half under the cover of glass and half out. And there was a little door that you could open up to the dirty side and you opened that up and of course, I didn’t smell because I always do strange things like that. And it like reeked horribly. And the side that was cleaned was beautiful, clean, soft, smelled fantastic.
So, I’m not really sure about the price point but it is an amazing product and available in a lot of different looks, different piles. So I would start with Mohawk, their SmartStrand.
CAROL: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, if you’re looking for a way to get rid of old electronics to make room for some of the shiny, new ones you scored this holiday season, there is a growing number of very green ways to turn e-trash into treasure.
First, there are a number of websites that allow you to mail in used electronics for a check or a PayPal deposit. For example, Gazelle.com will take old cell phones, cameras and even DVDs. But if you hold onto your stuff for too long, it will lose its value. So now is a good time to purge the old stuff, send it in and maybe make a few dollars in the process.
LESLIE: Now, in addition, there’s actually several national retailers that will let you trade in your old device towards future purchases, including Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, Walmart and so many others. You want to make it a habit to ask about sellback programs at any stores that you’re shopping for electronics at.
Now, another idea is to donate your old desktop computer or even your cell phone to charity and then take a tax deduction. You want to check with your local YMCA, your Boys & Girls Clubs or even a local shelter. And if you really just want to get rid of your stuff or it’s just simply too old to even be put to good use, you can look into programs that you can actually get rid of your electronic trash properly, especially those batteries, which you really just should not be tossing into your household garbage.
TOM: Trash-to-treasure also works when you’re renovating your home. So as you clean out your house over the holidays, you might want to think about how you can also reuse some of those finds elsewhere in your home.
In fact, Leslie, that’s a big decorating trend now, isn’t it, when you maybe shop in your own attic or your own garage and then repurpose some of those old family finds?
LESLIE: I mean I definitely feel like you can find great surprises in your own home or in a relative’s house, of things that they’re not currently using. It’s sort of great to recycle even through families and through friendships. If you’ve got a piece of furniture that’s not working for you right now, maybe your friend has got something that’s doing the same. And just swap because something that’s old and tired to you is new and exciting to someone else.
So, definitely take advantage of what you’ve already got. And I kind of like to cycle through things in my own house, as well. I’ll put certain accessories or different things away at different times of year and then forget about them for a little while and then pop them out a year later. And all of a sudden, it’s new and exciting. So it’s definitely something that’s good for your wallet but also good for the environment.
TOM: Good point. You know, there are a lot of ways to be green in your home. And if that’s a resolution you’d like to pick up on for this coming year, you don’t have to do a major renovation to be green. Simply reusing an old item in your house, in a new way, is a way to be very green because you’re not purchasing new stuff and you’re not throwing old stuff into a landfill.
LESLIE: Susan is on the line with a cold-water shower that I imagine she doesn’t like very much. Tell us what’s going on.
SUSAN: Rather shocking.
TOM: I bet.
LESLIE: I can imagine.
SUSAN: The hot-water faucet in the upstairs shower is the only hot-water faucet that does this – is when I adjust the hot water and it’s right – a good mix with the cold water. Step in the shower, then (audio gap) the hot water stops flowing and the water turns cold. It’s almost like the faucet shut itself off or …
TOM: What kind of water heater do you have, Susan? Is it gas or electric?
TOM: And does this problem exist with any other fixture in the bathroom or the house for that matter?
SUSAN: No. It’s the only one that works that way. The hot – the kitchen does not do that; the other bathroom sinks and faucets don’t do that.
TOM: So this is a single-handle faucet?
SUSAN: No. It’s a – there are two handles. They have separate handles.
TOM: Well, I think you’ve got a bad valve in there somewhere. Because if it’s just happening in one location like that, that’s the only thing it could be. We have plenty of hot water for the rest of the house. I suspect that there’s a problem with the valve. You might just want to replace the faucet set.
SUSAN: Oh, OK.
TOM: That would make sense as to its …
SUSAN: I just wondered, why would that do that?
TOM: I’ll just speculate here. As the water heats up the pipe, the metal expands and causes the valve to squeeze shut a little bit or something like that. There are a lot of reasons it could happen but I think it’s mechanical because it’s only happening in one location, so it has to be the valve.
SUSAN: Oh. That’s correct. Yeah.
TOM: It’s not – there’s nothing mysterious about this. It’s got to be the valve.
SUSAN: Alright. Well, great. Thank you for the diagnosis.
TOM: What you might want to think about when you replace this is talk to your plumber about something called a pressure-balancing valve. Now, I’m not sure if he’ll be able to find this for this kind of configuration that you have.
But what a pressure-balancing valve does is it keeps the mix ratio between hot and cold steady, regardless of what’s happening in the rest of the house. So that if you were to hop in the shower and somebody else flushes a toilet somewhere, you don’t get sort of that shock of hot or shock of cold water as one fixture sort of steals water from the other. It keeps the ratio the same. So while you may have less or more water, the temperature of the water never changes. If you’re going to spend the money on a plumber and valves, I would definitely look into getting a pressure-balanced valve set if I could.
SUSAN: Well, I’m glad to know about that. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project, Susan, and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ann in Georgia, you are on the line with The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ANN: Well, my house was built back in the 60s and I know now when they put up drywall, they use drywall screws.
ANN: But back then, they used a hammer.
TOM: Yep. And nails, mm-hmm.
ANN: And I’ve got these dings on the walls and the ceiling. And I’ve tried to put spackle over the top of them and scrape it off and sand it and then paint it and there they are; they come right back again. Is there anything I can do to sort of cover it or do I have to take down all the drywall?
LESLIE: No, no. Are you sure it’s a hammer ding and not a nail pop? Does it seem like it’s raised or does it seem like it’s recessed?
ANN: They’re recessed.
TOM: They’re recessed. OK.
So, the solution here is spackling but it’s not just a one-shot thing. What you want to do is put multiple coats of spackle on, Ann. So you start – and you can go out to a home center or a hardware store and you can buy plastic spackle knives that are basically disposable.
So you start out with one that’s about 2 inches, then you go to one that’s about 4 or 5 inches, then you go with one that’s like 6- or 8-inches wide. And if you put on three layers like that, you’ll fill it in, it’ll be absolutely flat.
But you can’t just stop there. If you’re going to start doing this around the house, you’re going to have to repaint all of those surfaces and you should prime them first. Because if not, you’re going to get different absorption between the areas that were newly spackled and the old ones. And that will result in sort of like a weird kind of glazing or sort of shade difference with the way the paint kind of takes.
ANN: Oh, OK.
TOM: Alright? Now, if you have one that looks like it’s cracked – what Leslie was talking about are called “nail pops” – and frankly, that’s much more likely than the dents you’re describing, unless you just happen to have a really over-aggressive guy with a hammer that put that thing together back in the 60s.
LESLIE: Those dents are haunting you 50 years later.
ANN: I know.
TOM: Yeah. The nail pops, you could put another nail next to the one that’s sort of stuck out and drive it in. And that – the second nail will hold in the first nail. But remember, it’s really key that you sand, prime and paint to make this all go away.
And lastly, the type of paint you use is critical. Make sure you use flat paint; do not use anything with a sheen. Because when you put something with a sheen on a wall, any defect in the wall becomes magnified when the light hits it.
ANN: Well, that’s great advice.
TOM: Alright, Ann. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still to come, six steps that you should be taking right now to help your trees thrive come springtime. The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, after this.
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: Well, the tree-filled landscapes of winter just look barren and dead. But those trees will be coming back. Just count the days until spring.
LESLIE: That’s right. The problem is only when spring comes, then you can tell whether a tree has saved enough resources to respond to that new season of growth. But you can help with some simple chores. Here to tell us what they are is Casey Combs, an arborist certified with the International Society of Arboriculture.
CASEY: Thanks for having me.
TOM: So you say that there are six critical things that we should be doing for our trees in the winter. I think it’s kind of a little bit out of sight, out of mind when the leaves go away. But what should we be doing to take care of them through the rough season ahead?
CASEY: Well, there’s a few things that you definitely want to do and now would be the great time to do it, to ensure that the trees are going to be healthy for the spring.
Probably the most important thing is to lay down a good layer of mulch: about 3 inches around the base of the tree. But you want to avoid piling that mulch right around the base so that you aren’t making a “mulch volcano,” as we call it in the business.
TOM: Right. Yeah, don’t pile it up but …
TOM: And 3 inches of mulch is a lot of mulch. Right, Leslie? I don’t think that we usually see people put that much down but I guess that’s what it takes to really protect it.
CASEY: Yeah. You want to get insulation and obviously, the more north you are, the more protection it gives you.
LESLIE: Now, what about wrapping trees? I constantly see neighbors wrapping up these entire cypresses and they look just ridiculous. But do you need to do it?
CASEY: Well, if you have a younger tree, specifically, that you just planted in last year or two and the bark hasn’t fully developed, you do want to put some kind of wraparound to – just to avoid any kind of mechanical damage from rodents that’ll get in there or deer. Sometimes they’ll rub their antlers on there.
TOM: Now, another tip that you offer, you say now is the time to correct any structural faults and deadwood and trim the tree. You know, in the spring, it’s easy to see what the dead branches are. But how do you do that in the winter and make sure you’re not cutting the ones that are ready to come back?
CASEY: Well, usually, you can kind of do a bark test; you can actually take your fingernail and scrape along that branch. Then you won’t see any green under there. And if you do see green, the wood is generally healthy underneath.
LESLIE: So, instantly, in the winter months, you’ll see the green? It doesn’t happen later on in the season?
CASEY: No, you should see the green year-round. It’ll still be green under that – that cambium layer will still show you if the tree is alive or not.
LESLIE: And what about fertilizer? I feel like so many people just get confused as to when do you fertilize, how much, what kind. Is now the time you want to do it?
CASEY: You actually would want to make sure you’re doing it in the winter. You don’t want to do it any time from probably July to November because that’s when the tree is trying to store all of its sugars and harden off. And when you give it fertilizer at that time, it thinks that you’re trying to make it grow and it puts out some new buds and new branches that don’t have time to harden off before the winter.
TOM: We’re talking to Casey Combs. He’s an arborist certified with the International Society of Arboriculture.
These are great tips, Casey. One more question. One thing that we don’t think about in the wintertime is watering anything, really, outside. But you say that it’s a good idea to water the tree even – as long as the ground is not frozen. Is that correct?
CASEY: Right. It’s generally a good idea any time that the ground is above 40 degrees. You can water one to two times per month, especially the conifers. It’s not as important with deciduous trees, like the birches, the maples. But conifers really are taking in water throughout the winter.
TOM: And finally, it’s the holiday season and the number-one tree on our minds right now is the holiday tree: the Christmas tree, whatever type of tree you have that you’re celebrating with. Now that the season is wrapping towards a close in a very few, short days, what’s a good thing to do with those cut trees?
CASEY: I think the best option is to contact your local municipality. A lot of them run recycling programs and can actually come – there’s either a drop-off site or they’ll come and pick up the trees themselves. And they’ll recycle that and turn it into mulch for you.
TOM: And what if folks have opted to go with a live holiday tree? They can’t plant it now the ground is frozen. How do they store it through the season?
CASEY: If you can keep it in a garage or someplace where it’s getting just a little bit of sun but you don’t want those roots to freeze. And you just want to keep that root ball moist and then plant it, basically, as soon as the ground thaws.
TOM: Great advice. Casey Combs from the International Society of Arboriculture, thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us.
The website for more tips is TreesAreGood.org. That’s TreesAreGood.org.
Thanks again, Casey. Have a great day.
CASEY: Thank you. You too.
LESLIE: Well, icicles on trees really are pretty but icicles on your roof, though pretty, they might cause some leaks and they probably will. So still to come, we’re going to teach you how to prevent ice dams for this winter season.
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: 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: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. We’ll even sign it for you, so give us a call for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ken on the line who’s dealing with a very moist situation in the attic. Tell us what’s going on.
KEN: OK, yeah. Say, we live – Dorothy and I – about three blocks from the Pacific Ocean, next to the Columbia River. I purchased a house here with a flat roof. Basically, it has about a 3/12 pitch. It had a torch-down system on it and I opted to go – an IB Teflon system.
KEN: And it was about a $10,000 system. Well, after they put it in, about a year later I noticed mold on the underside of the roof. And they put three vents – about 8-inch-diameter vents – in the ridge. And when I saw the mold, well, they said, “Well, you’re not getting adequate ventilation in the (inaudible at 0:26:11).” Well, anyway, they put six more vents in there and they had messed up and left about a half-a-dozen little holes where they had bad leaks. And so I had water in between the IB system and the torch-down and my plywood.
KEN: So I put the fan in there and my question now is – and putting those additional six vents on the bottom.
TOM: Are you talking about – when you say “the bottom,” are you talking about the underside of the overhang, at the soffit level?
KEN: Well, no. I don’t have any overhang.
TOM: You don’t have any of the – OK.
KEN: It’s a flat roof and it just comes to the walls. And so, after they put the six – three on the – or four on the top ridge about – I had mentioned to them we should put some vents down low and they said, “No, you don’t need vents up here with that little” – but probably wouldn’t have had to have but they were incompetent.
KEN: And they did because they left about a half-a-dozen holes and leaks in that Teflon.
TOM: Alright. So here’s the situation. So you had a minimal amount of vent. You spotted some mold, you added additional vents and now you’re – are you still seeing mold in the attic or not?
KEN: No, I think – they came in and they wiped it down with whatever.
TOM: So you’re not seeing the mold anymore in the attic. And the question is do – is it possible to have too much ventilation? The answer is no. In fact, a perfectly ventilated attic space is going to be at ambient temperature all the time.
Now, because it’s a flat roof, it’s much more difficult to vent. If this was a pitched roof with an overhang, you would have soffit vents down across the soffit, ridge vents across the peak. It would essentially be wide open all the time, constantly circulating air. And what that does is in the wintertime, it takes out moisture, which can condense and lead to mold. In the summer, it takes out heat which, of course, drives up your cooling costs. So I don’t think it’s possible to have too much attic ventilation.
Did you also mention that you put a fan in there?
KEN: Well, I put a fan in there to dry out the moisture first and that’s what my concern was. Maybe I shouldn’t have put the fan, because I’m spreading those mold spores around by doing that.
TOM: Well, if the mold was treated, I wouldn’t worry too much about that. But here’s the thing about fans. Now, the fans – the attic fans – are only going to work on a heat-sensitive switch unless you wired them somehow differently. And so those fans – those attic fans – typically only work in the summertime; they don’t work in the wintertime.
KEN: It was in the fall, so it was relatively cool.
TOM: Right. But there’s – but those attic fans work on a thermostat, which is generally, if it’s installed correctly, set at around 100 degrees. So it would have to be an awfully warm, fall day for that to kick on. I would say that if you’re not spotting the mold any further and the attic doesn’t seem to be leaking, you addressed all those issues, that you’re just good the way it is and I would just stop right there and enjoy it.
KEN: Right, right. Well, this is about the eighth house – we retired in the last four years. It’s kind of like watching gold rush here; you’re always going to find something in an old house. So, we enjoy it but it’s a lot of work.
TOM: Alright, Ken. Well, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s officially winter. And while snow on your roof and icicles on the eaves might sort of be just a picturesque winter scene, it could actually mean that you’ve got a problem at your money pit.
Now, heavy snowfalls, especially when they’re followed by warm days, are going to allow that ice to sort of dam up at your roof’s edge. And then it’s going to block melting snow and that could potentially cause some serious leaks inside your house.
So, to prevent this, you want to be sure that your roof is adequately ventilated. If you plan to replace your roof soon, make sure you have your contractor install an ice-and-water shield. And that’s really just an extra layer of protection against ice damming.
TOM: Yes. And in southern climates, an ice-and-water shield underlayment can also protect against leaks from heavy wind and rain. You know, if you get a bad hurricane, tropical storm, that sort of thing, using the ice-and-water shield across your entire roof is a really good barrier to serious damage.
The driving rain can get up under the roof shingles easily but it can’t get through that ice-and-water shield. So, a good idea to think about, especially if you’re tackling a roof project in 2014.
LESLIE: Beverly in Nebraska is on the line and is looking to do a flooring, I guess, tiling project. Tell us what’s going on.
BEVERLY: Well, I have a brick fireplace that I would like to reface with ceramic tile.
LESLIE: Oh, great. It’s a fireplace question.
BEVERLY: Yes. I want to know if what – if I need to do any special steps to prep the brick. I’ve heard yes and I’ve heard no, so thought I might call somebody that might have a real answer.
TOM: As long as the brick is not dirty or doesn’t have loose paint on it or anything of that nature, I don’t think there’s a lot of prep involved there. What’s going to be really important is that you get a good coat of adhesive underneath it. And you can use a tile mastic on top of that brick to attach the tile to.
LESLIE: And what size are the tiles that you’re looking at, Bev, to put over this?
BEVERLY: Twelve by twelve, probably.
LESLIE: Tom, are there any concerns with the difference between the brick and the mortar line for unevenness? Or because the tile is so large, it’s going to …
TOM: No, because you know what? Think about it. When you put tile down, you use a notched trowel, right? So you never have a complete 100-percent contact of the tile with the substrate. So the fact that there’s recessed mortar on this brick fireplace is not of a concern to me. It’s just more of a concern that we get a good, solid coat of adhesive there and that they dry well, they’re nice and stable.
And really, you want to make sure that you plan this out carefully, Bev. I mean frankly, it’s really small spaces to get that to fit right, to look right, to make sure the corners are done properly. If it’s sloppy, you’re going to be kicking yourself because it’ll be obvious to anybody that looks at this that it wasn’t done by a pro. So just make sure it’s done really well so that it looks like it was almost intended to be that way the first time the fireplace and the hearth was envisioned, OK?
BEVERLY: OK. One thing that I’d heard about, the brick mortar line sucks up the moisture out of the mastic quicker. Is that something I need to worry about or just …?
TOM: Nah. Nope. Wouldn’t worry about it at all. That makes no sense to me. Look, people put concrete – put tile down on concrete and will tell you the same issue. Just plan it correctly, Bev, so that you have all the corners line up right, you have the right pieces, the right – the types of tile that you’re choosing are the ones that, for example, have closed corners where they wrap around the outside.
And make sure it’s going to work. You may find that 12-inch is too wide for that; it might be easier if you use a smaller tile because you’d have a little more flexibility.
BEVERLY: Like maybe a six or eight?
TOM: Like a six, yeah, or an eight. Yep, exactly.
Depending on the shape, right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah. It really depends on what look you’re going for. And with a ceramic tile, think about the finish on them. You know, a glazed tile is going to clean better when you get dirt and debris from the smoke in the fireplace itself. But an unglazed one might have a more hearth-y, traditional look. So think about the overall look you’re trying to get.
And you can also – a 12-by is kind of large so if you’re looking to put a decorative tile, say, as cornerstones around your mantle or something, think about adding in little detail pieces and then you can size your tiles accordingly.
TOM: So does that help you out?
BEVERLY: Yeah. We’re just trying to make it look a little more modern.
TOM: Yeah, I think that’s definitely a good idea. I think it will look more modern; I think it’ll be very attractive. Just take your time, do it once, do it right and you won’t have to do it again.
BEVERLY: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Coming up, we’re going to share some easy idea to help make your bathroom more accessible for family members of any age, so stick around.
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LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’ve got a brand-new board on our Pinterest page. It’s called New Year’s Resolutions for your Home. We’ve got tips on what you can do to start the new year off right, including some ideas on how to save money and energy around the house. It’s on our Pinterest page. Get to it from MoneyPit.com.
You can also post your question to us on MoneyPit.com or on our Facebook page. Julie from Bozeman, Montana has written us and asks what can she do to make her bathroom more accessible for her and her husband as they age.
Well, there are lots of things that you can do, Julie.
LESLIE: Yeah. Julie, you may want to ditch the tub altogether and go with an open-threshold type of showering space, with some conveniently-placed walls just to sort of keep you warmer. If you’re replacing the floor, you want to look at something with a non-skid surface. Your doors should be a little bit wider to accommodate any sort of extra accessibility you might need. Add plenty of lighting. You really could think about using stylish grab bars that actually look like towel bars, just in case you need that extra assistance.
And in fact, Julie, we’ve got several great articles on this topic at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: Well, as you get ready to raise a glass and say goodbye to 2013, you want to keep in mind that wine and champagne bottles are excellent materials for home décor. Although not a reason to drink more wine or champagne, I might add. Leslie has got some ideas on how to use those bottles, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Although I do think it could be a good opportunity to throw a party and have some more beverages consumed. You do want to hold onto those empty wine, champagne, any sort of spirit bottles that you might have around, because there are so many things that you can do with them.
First of all, a hairdryer works wonders to heat up the glue and remove those labels. Because a special bottle can be remembered forever if you frame that label. You can put it with a picture of what you guys did that night. It’s a really great thing for scrapbooking. You can create a collage with the many labels that you have for the years to come to mark milestones, like an anniversary or the birth of a child. Really nice project there.
Now, if you save the corks from those bottles, you can use them to make a holiday wreath for next year or you can even glue them around the outside of small framed photo. Or even an oversized wine glass can hold a collection of corks, which can make a great centerpiece or conversation starter. Sometimes it’s fun if you take the cork from a special occasion and you write the date on it and maybe where you had it, on the end. And you can reach in and pull one out and have a little conversation starter, while you’re having dinner with your family and friends, about where you were that evening and what was so special.
Now, the bottles themselves, you can actually use those, as well. You can either decoupage the entire bottle with colorful bits of wrapping paper or photos. Or if you remember the old child’s craft using pieces of overlapped masking tape, well, just rub your shoe-polish color of choice for some cute décor items. And use different sizes and heights and you can actually create a collection of all of these fun, wrapped-up bottles and it’ll complete the look. It’s a little out-of-the-box and I know it’s a bit crafty for some but it’s a great way to temporarily use some of those empties from your New Year’s festivities.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Happy New Year, everybody, on this final broadcast of our program for the year 2013. We look forward to giving you tips and advice as you start your 2014 home improvement projects and encourage you to reach out to us 24-7 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post them to our website at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up next time on The Money Pit, we’re going to start the year off by giving you some tips on how to replace faucets. If your faucets are hard to operate, they drip, they’re just plain dated, it might be time to replace them. The good news is that the new faucets out there are virtually leakproof. And the longer you use them, the more leakproof they get because of the way the valves are designed. We’ll have tips, on the 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 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.)