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 we are here to help you tackle your home improvement projects. Let us help you solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. Help yourself, first, by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Hey, whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a direct-it-yourselfer, whether you need help choosing the right color paint to buy or help hiring the pro to get the job done, we’re here to help you at 888-666-3974.
Coming up this hour on the program, as homeowners there are lots of things you can prevent and some that you actually have no control over. But when it comes to electrical fires, there is something you can do. We’re going to have tips on an easy-to-install solution that can save your home and your life for less than 30 bucks.
LESLIE: And outdoor kitchens are hot this year and not as expensive as you might think. Kevin O’Connor from This Old House is joining us with advice for making this sizzling edition to your porch or your yard.
TOM: Plus, don’t set one foot on the rung of your ladder without getting advice on safety. Do you know ladder falls send thousands of do-it-yourselfers to emergency rooms every year? So, we’re going to help you not become a statistic, with tips on how to keep that ladder sturdy, coming up.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a Dremel Micro 8-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Cordless Rotary Tool. It’s not just cordless, it’s really lightweight. So you can transport it very easily to any jobsite.
TOM: It’s worth $89 but going home free to one caller we talk to on the air this hour. So let’s get to it. Make that caller you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Going to the Great North. We’ve got Gunner in Alaska on the line who needs some help with a window problem. What’s going on over there?
GUNNER: I had double-pane windows that fogged. I understand that they fogged because the seal breaks. But I had a contractor come up that they advertised on the radio that rather than buy new windows, they had a way of removing that condensation.
What they did is they – on the outside panes, they drill a small hole on the bottom and a small hole at the top. And they did a cleaning. I think they even squirted water in there and evacuated it. I didn’t see it done but I’ve seen it on YouTube. And then they put these little, plastic plugs here where the holes used to be.
Didn’t really clear up. It almost looked like it got worse, so I called and complained and the contractor says, “Well, in 3 to 12 weeks, it should go away. It should be – it should clear up.” And by golly, it did, which kind of shocked me. Because I’m an engineer and all my training says that if you have something open to the outside air, it’s going to have moisture in it. And that’s one reason why it fogged in the first place. And I don’t think they created a vacuum, so I didn’t know how that worked.
TOM: Well, this is the first I’ve heard of that system, Gunner. I’m not familiar with it at all. I would have the same reaction that you would. I would think it’s not the kind of thing that would be my first choice.
I would, generally, tell people that when you get fogged windows, yeah, the window is slightly less efficient but it doesn’t necessarily mean the window has to be replaced. If you’re concerned about appearance, you want to make sure you can see clearly through it, I could see where perhaps, on a limited basis, that you might want to experiment with something like that.
But what they’ve done is essentially just cleaned the window, washed the window from the inside out it sounds like. And I would expect that that condensation may come back, giving it a season or two. So this may not be the end of it. But if it’s giving you some temporary relief, then OK.
GUNNER: Yeah. And in fact, they had a guarantee. Their guarantee is that they’d be happy to replace the windows at a discount. But they charge you for the – and when I heard that, I kind of laughed to myself. Said, “Oh, geez, what a way to get into your house, you know?”
TOM: Yeah. Exactly.
GUNNER: But so I – OK. So you kind of agree with me. It’s not black magic.
GUNNER: To me, it’s like black magic. What on Earth happened here? It’s not possible. They talked, “Well, around the perimeter, on the inside, there’s a material that absorbs excess moisture and keeps the window clear.”
Well, some of the new ones were putting new windows out on – I’m with the FAA. We’re putting new windows out in a place called Cold Bay. And they’re triple-paned and I looked at the rim in between the panes and it is serrated as if it’s open to some kind of sponge or some kind of material that might …
TOM: Yeah, you know what that material is called, Gunner?
GUNNER: No, I don’t.
TOM: It’s got a funny name. It’s called “swiggle.”
GUNNER: Swiggle. OK. Well, my windows don’t have that. That’s just a solid strip so that there’s no swiggle, as you put it, as far as I can tell. Because it’s an older home; I think the home was built in like ‘85.
TOM: Well, I mean you’re in the part of the country where triple-pane makes sense. The colder it gets, the more that makes economic sense even though those windows are more expensive.
But back to your original question. I think what they’ve done is essentially cleaned the windows. And depending on the dew point, yeah, it’s either going to appear or reappear, depending on how much condensation you get inside those – inside that glass. But I think that, at this point, just understand what you have and that when you can afford it, when you want to budget for it, go ahead and replace the windows.
And remember, you don’t have to do all your windows at the same time. A lot of times, I tell folks they can do them in stages. You can do the north side first and then move to the east side, the west side and the south side, since the cold is the biggest issue in your part of the country. If you lived down south, you’d do it – you’d do the south and the west windows first. OK, Gunner?
GUNNER: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sandy in Iowa is on the line and she has got a problem where the stairs meet the wall. What’s going on there?
SANDY: In my stairwell, where the sheetrock meets the floor joist, when they originally did that, they put that – you know how they use that heavy paper stuff and then they mud over that? Well, that cracked. And I peeled that off and now I’m trying to figure out how to smooth that over there between the sheetrock and the floor joist in the basement. Because it’s sheetrock to wood, I don’t know what material to use to fill that crack so that I can paint over and it look smooth.
TOM: So, what you want to do – it sounds like you pulled the old tape off – the paper tape off. Is that correct?
SANDY: I did.
TOM: Well, that’s OK. Because what you want to do now is you want to go out and buy some fiberglass tape.
Now, fiberglass drywall tape is perforated. It’s kind of like netting; it’s a little tacky. And you cut a piece off, you put it on top of that seam. And what that’s going to do is bridge the gap across the seam. And then you cover that with spackle.
And you want to do about three very, very thin coats. Don’t put too much on. A little bit of spackle goes a long way. Sand in between in each one and then just build it out and build it up over those three coats. And that’ll be fine. And because you put the tape over – the fiberglass tape – it shouldn’t crack again.
SANDY: That sounds like something I can do.
TOM: I think you can, Sandy. 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. What are you working on at your money pit now that we’ve got these gorgeous, warmer-weather weekends? Well, if you don’t have a project, let us give you one. We can always help you find something that needs working on, 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Coming up next, there’s a new device on the market that can stop electrical fires before they happen. It’s called an “arc-fault circuit interrupter.” It costs less than 30 bucks and you can actually win one for free at GetSafeToday.com. We’ll have the details, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And hey, if we take your call this hour, you get more than home improvement advice. You could win the Dremel Micro 8-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Cordless Rotary Tool Kit. That is a mouthful but it’s a pretty good tool.
LESLIE: It’s a long name for a small tool but let me tell you, that name matches the power that it packs. So lightweight and really portable, you can take it to any jobsite and know you’ll get the job done.
TOM: And the Dremel Rotary Tool Kit’s docking station keeps the battery charged so it’s ready to go when you are. It’s a prize worth $89, available at The Home Depot but also goes home with one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. Make that you. Please do. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Blair in Virginia who’s taking on a painting project. Tell us about the ceiling you’re working on.
BLAIR: I pulled out my power washer and decided to clean off the deck and the walls and the ceiling. But now the ceiling needs to be repainted. And it was originally painted with an oil-based paint. I would like to not use oil base; I would like to go over it with a water base. But I don’t know, first off, if I can do that or – and what would be the best brand to look into?
TOM: So, the first question is adhesion. What’s the ceiling made out of? Is this a drywall ceiling? A wood ceiling? What is it?
BLAIR: It’s a wood ceiling.
TOM: What kind of wood?
BLAIR: It’s just a plywood.
TOM: The first thing I would do, now that you’ve got this all cleaned off, is I would prime it. And I would use either an alkyd primer, which is water-based or I would use an oil primer. Just the primer.
The primer, it’s important that it sticks really, really well. And it’s also important that it adheres to whatever was there initially. And through the life of that ceiling, it may have had different paints, different finishes on it. We want to make sure we get primer on there that’s going to have a real adhesive effect. Because once you get primer that sticks really well, then you could put latex ceiling paint or any type of solid stain or something like that on top of it. But you’ve got to use a good-quality primer. That’s really critical.
So do the primer first. On top of that, since it’s wood, you could use solid stain or you could use exterior paint. I would stick with a flat, though, if you’re going to use the paint.
BLAIR: Right, right. OK. So as long as I prime it well.
TOM: You’d probably be more tempted to use that than oil-based but honestly, oil-based works better than anything else. I just repainted my entire house and I have a cedar house. And we used solid stain, which I’m always promoting on the radio show, because it has the most pigment in it. But what I don’t mention is that we had to prime this – prime the entire house. And the last time – you know when the last time was I painted my house?
TOM: Fourteen years ago. Fourteen years because I used oil-based primer back then and solid stain. And I did the same thing all over again because I want to get another 14 years out of it. But that’s what you’ll get if you do it right.
BLAIR: OK. I can do that then. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, you may admit to doing this from time to time: kind of lying awake at night thinking about all the things that could go wrong in your house? Well, they can’t all be avoided, of course, but now you can prevent one of the most nerve-wracking home hazards out there: electrical fires.
LESLIE: Yeah. One of our partners, Leviton, has created a website where you can learn all about electrical safety. And I think electrical safety or even electrical issues are kind of a mystery to a lot of homeowners, so this is very helpful. You have to visit their website. It’s GetSafeToday.com.
And in the case of electrical arcing, the solution is a no-brainer. You can replace your standard receptacle with a Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Outlet and the electrical faults in your home’s wiring won’t just be detected, they’ll actually be stopped before it can start a fire.
TOM: Yeah. That’s right. Good point. The website is GetSafeToday.com and that is really the key feature. The interrupter outlet isn’t just a detector, it actually prevents the fires from happening in the first place. Because basically, it just cuts off power when there’s trouble. Kind of like having a watchman on duty to make sure your house is safe while you’re gone all day and sleeping all night. Very, very cool.
LESLIE: Yeah. Except it’s a lot cheaper than having that person monitor all of these outlets in your home.
Now, the Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter is not only a DIY-friendly project, it’s also wallet-friendly, too. It’s easier to install than a traditional outlet and costs less than $30.
TOM: You can pick it up at Home Depot or on Amazon or maybe even take one home for free. Every day this month, Leviton is giving away a prize pack, including one Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter. For your chance to win, head to GetSafeToday.com. That’s GetSafeToday.com. Go there now, GetSafeToday.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lee in South Carolina on the line who wants to build a koi pond. How can we help you?
LEE: Off the deck of my house, in the one corner, I’ve got a bridge going to a gazebo. What I want to do is – 2 feet off of the gazebo, I’m doing a raised flowerbed. And from the flowerbed – 4 feet out, all the way around the gazebo – I want to do a koi pond.
And everyone keeps telling me that you’ve got to do it in concrete, because it’s – with liners, it would cause too many – you’d have to have too many liners and then sealing them. And it’d be a lot more of a problem.
TOM: Well, there’s a lot of ways to build a koi pond and most folks use liners.
LESLIE: Well, you have to use something. So, you can either build almost like you would a small pool and pour a concrete – I say “foundation” for lack of a better word but a concrete form. Or you can get a plastic pool form. They’re black. You see them at – I know the home center by me that sells koi – it’s actually a garden center that sells koi and pump equipment for water features – has a variety of sizes of these black sort of – they look like kiddie pools, essentially. But they’re interesting shapes and you dig out and then place this in the ground.
Or you can get the black liner, which comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses. And then you would dig out the formation that you like, especially it seems like yours is a bit more specialized and free-formed and has to sort of fit into a different area of measurements that you have specific ideas in mind. So the liner is probably better, because it will work with your specific dimensions.
And you’ll dig out. You’ll have to dig the slope into it, as well, if you want shallow areas or deep areas. You’ll have to dig that all in, as well. Then you’ll put sand down, just to keep a smooth area, and then you’ll put the liner in.
And it sort of, when you put the water in, will start to take the shape of that area. And then what you’ll have to do around the top, on those edges, is you’ll have to use all-natural rocks and large stones to hold that down and hide all of that lining. But there’s no reason why you can’t use a plastic liner.
LEE: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Brian in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRIAN: Last summer, I repainted the exterior of my house and I used quite a few nails to kind of shore up some different things. I also fixed a window. And after I repainted, I used galvanized nails. But this year, I already have a lot of bleeding of rust from the nails coming through. So I also did some caulking between the pieces of wood and that seems to be peeling out already. So I was just wondering if there was something that I could, you know, go over the heads of the nails with: something quick, something that I didn’t have to redo the whole side of the house.
TOM: When you did the side of the house last summer, did you prime it or did you just put the paint over the old paint?
BRIAN: Put lots of primer.
TOM: Lots of primer?
TOM: What kind of primer? Like a – was it a latex primer? An oil primer? What was it?
BRIAN: Gosh, I don’t know that. I didn’t buy the paint but we put a …
TOM: But you did prime. You primed over those nail heads?
BRIAN: Yes, we did. Yes.
TOM: And it’s coming through. Because, generally – well, you say you used galvanized, so that’s good. Was this cedar siding?
BRIAN: No. It’s just conventional, horizontal…
TOM: A close standard? Well, unfortunately, it seems like the nails – the galvanized coating on the nails didn’t really stand up very well. But generally, the advice is this: when you finish nailing off that, you need to spot-prime those nail heads. But if you’re telling me you’ve already spot-primed them and the stain’s coming right through, then I’m not really sure that we have any other suggestions for you.
There are differences in the quality of primers. I would always recommend an oil-based primer over a latex primer when I have a stain issue to deal with, because it tends to seal it in better. So, that’s the only additional thing you might want to try is to sand those down to the heads and then touch them up with an oil-based primer and paint them again.
BRIAN: Alright. Well, I guess that answered my question.
TOM: Alright, Brian. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, the weather is gorgeous. Are you looking to get outside and get cooking? Well, outdoor kitchens are not as expensive as you think. We’ve got Kevin O’Connor, host of TV’s This Old House joining us to tell us how to get a great, designed outdoor kitchen.
TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by the new Stanley FatMax Tape Rule. It’s an efficient tape with a versatile, interchangeable hook and 13 feet of standout. That’s coming up, next.
JONATHAN: Hey, this is Jonathan Scott, host of HGTV’s Property Brothers. Don’t let your home become a real-life money pit. Listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show with Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the smart solution for all your electrical needs. Learn how to help improve your home’s electrical safety at GetSafeToday.com. And be sure to enter their June Safety Products Giveaway. That’s GetSafeToday.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, have you ever wished you had round-the-clock home improvement advice for when the drain backs up or the water comes dripping down? Well, you do. Just head to The Money Pit’s Community page for thousands of answers to questions big and small. It’s all online, it’s all free at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Maisy, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MAISY: Just asking about – how can you get rid of the gnats going in through your house?
TOM: They’re eating you up, huh?
MAISY: Yes. I’m about gone.
TOM: Well, one of the things that you can do is to create a somewhat natural repellent for those gnats. And you take apple-cider vinegar, put it in a small bowl and then add in a surfactant, like dishwashing detergent – just a bit of that – mix it together. And then you cover that bowl with like plastic wrap and you put a few holes in it so that the bugs can get in there but they can’t get out of there. And they’ll be attracted to that.
It ends up being sort of a one-way trap, though. Because once they get in there, they can’t get out.
MAISY: I love that idea.
TOM: Terrific. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So on TV’s This Old House, we see some pretty tricked-out outdoor kitchens, like the one we just saw created for the homeowners of the Greek Revival row house in the 35th anniversary season in the Charlestown area of Boston.
TOM: That’s right. Outdoor kitchens can be a great addition to your backyard entertaining space but they don’t have to be as expensive or as extensive as the ones on TV to do the job. This Old House host Kevin O’Connor is here with some DIY and budget-friendly options.
KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.
TOM: So, I’m sure you never saw a budget you didn’t like when it comes to these outdoor kitchens.
KEVIN: You know, they don’t have to be as extensive as ones we put on but you really want to do it.
TOM: Yeah. You really, really want that.
KEVIN: You guys saw that when we put it, he was like, “Oh.”
TOM: Oh, my God, it’s so amazing.
LESLIE: I mean they’re beautiful.
KEVIN: Yeah, it was really nice. They really are. And you want to just – when you see it, now all of a sudden you just want to live your entire life out there on your patio.
LESLIE: Oh, I know. But most of us cannot afford to spend $25,000 on an outdoor kitchen.
KEVIN: No, I guess that is true. But you don’t have to, which is the good point. And when you’re thinking about the outdoor kitchen, think about what you have in the indoor kitchen, right? There are basically three things that you need. You need a work surface to prepare your food, you need a place to clean up after you’re done cooking and then, obviously, you need the surface to cook on. So the grill …
LESLIE: And a pizza maker and a sink and a Kegerator. All sorts of things.
KEVIN: Did you say Kegerator?
LESLIE: I may have. I may have.
KEVIN: I’m all in.
TOM: On a budget.
KEVIN: On a budget.
TOM: That’ll be the next edition of Money Pit and This Old House.
KEVIN: Right. So when you get the grill, obviously the grill is the place where you go and do the cooking, so you can check that off the list. And some of these grills – a lot of them now, actually – come with a little side area where you can actually do some prep work or put some bowls down or platters while you’re doing the cooking. They’re probably not big enough or sturdy enough to do the hardcore prep work – the chopping and stuff like that – but that shouldn’t stop you from adding one.
KEVIN: And there a couple of things that you can do to add one. You can bring in sort of a rolling kitchen table, put it up next to the grill. You do that, you can have a better surface to work on. Think about the materials in that case; obviously, something that’s going to withstand the weather is going to be a good idea. So, protected wood or stainless steel even would be great. But then, if you want, if you’ve got some good carpentry skills, you can build your own.
You can think about a frame made out of wood and then also think about the material that you want to put on. There’s a stone top that will stand up to the weather. It will be a great thing.
Or you can build these things up. There’s a lot of pavers out there right now, a lot of these do-it-yourself kits where you can build these out of masonry products. It can be a great look, you can do it yourself and you can create yourself a good-looking outdoor kitchen with that prep area.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it can kind of look like it’s built-in, so that’s really neat, too.
KEVIN: Absolutely. And you can buy grills that are made to be built-in. Or you can build it around an existing grill just to at least have that feel of the built-in look.
TOM: Now, one of the challenges is really the plumbing part of this. You do need water for cleanup. It’s darn convenient if you have it outside. What are some inexpensive ways to create that in your outdoor kitchen?
KEVIN: To be honest with you, I think you’ve got to think long and hard about whether or not you want to add water to this. Because where I live, all of that stuff has to be shut down in the off-season. It is great to have but it’s a whole ‘nother level of thinking in terms of the off-season.
However, if you want to go for it, chances are you’ve already got an outdoor hose spigot in the backyard and that can be modified so that you can bring some water over to the grilling area for cleanup. There are actually some manually powered sinks available that can hook up via hose and then you can use a pump with your foot for water flow. And then the sink drain can also be diverted away with a hose to avoid any puddles at your feet.
And then they’ve got the old-fashioned sort of potting sinks that you would use for gardening. You can get those at a garden-supply center. I think about using one of those next to the grill. But for me, I just bring the dirty dishes inside and tell the kids to start scrubbing.
LESLIE: I think another luxury – which really isn’t a luxury when you’re thinking about cooking outdoors; it’s almost a necessity – is refrigeration. Because a lot of times you’re sort of staggering the cooking process to keep things at the ready. Or if you’re entertaining for a long period of time, can you do an outdoor refrigerator in there?
KEVIN: You certainly can. It is probably a luxury, like you say. But if you’ve got power out there, you can bring in a small refrigerator. And they actually make refrigerators that are rated to be outdoors and so you want to think about that. Again, anytime you’re talking about those outdoor kitchens, no matter what you add out there, think about the weather. Do you want it to be able to live out there through the rain, the snow, the heat and all that type of stuff? And there are small refrigerators rated to do that and that could be a nice option. Keep the drinks going, keep the side salads cold while you’re cooking the burgers and such.
TOM: What’s great about this advice, Kevin, is that you really can approach it in a modular basis. You can start small with, say, just a good grill with some cooking surface and then build on from there. You can add the rolling cart, you could add some cabinetry, you could add the outdoor refrigerator and kind of, over time, create this kitchen.
KEVIN: And I think when you’re working outdoors, the projects, I think they’re just a lot more forgiving, right? It’s not always finished carpentry and fancy moldings.
KEVIN: I’m doing just that: building a side table for my grill. It’s got a little wood frame and a big, solid, 4-inch-thick wooden top. It’s just – it’s not that complicated and it doesn’t have to look so refined. It is the outdoors after all.
TOM: Let us know when it’s ready. We’ll be by for steaks.
KEVIN: You got it.
TOM: Kevin O’Connor from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
KEVIN: Always a pleasure to be here, guys. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. 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 on PBS by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.
Up next, save yourself a trip to the ER and take our advice on how to use a ladder safely. Learn the dos and don’ts, with this week’s Pro Tip presented by Grayne Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. That and more when The Money Pit continues, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, right now, and you might get the answer to your home improvement question, plus a chance to win a Dremel Micro 8-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Cordless Rotary Tool Kit.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s lightweight but it’s big on power. And it makes it really easy to handle for any detailed projects or if you’re working in a tight space. And it’s designed to be held like a pen or a pencil, so it gives you that extra control.
TOM: The Dremel Rotary Tool Kit is worth $89 and is available at The Home Depot. Check it out at Dremel.com and give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question and for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Tennessee where Steve wants to talk about water heating. How can we help you?
STEVE: My water heater seems to be going out. It’s about five or six years old. And I’ve been hearing commercials on your show about tankless water heaters and other forms of water-heating solutions. And I was just wondering, is that costly? Or is that a better way to go than putting another tank in?
TOM: OK. So you say the water heater is going out. Is this a gas water heater?
STEVE: It’s electric.
TOM: It’s electric? And it’s going out. So what’s happening to it?
STEVE: It’s leaking.
TOM: Oh, it’s leaking at five or six years? Really? That’s just plain bad luck, Steve.
STEVE: Yeah, I know.
TOM: Sorry. Well, let me ask you this question: how long are you planning on staying in your current house? Is this the house for a while?
STEVE: Oh, yeah, it’s forever house, hopefully.
TOM: Generally, I would say I wouldn’t hesitate to install a tankless water heater, except – and this is a big except – tankless water heaters that are powered by electricity don’t work that well. They don’t save you that much money. If you have the ability to power it with propane, for example, then it’s more realistic. But if you’re planning on powering it with electricity, then it’s not.
So in that case, your options are to replace it with a standard, tanked electric water heater or you can use a real new type of electric water heater called a “heat-pump water heater.” Heat-pump water heaters are more expensive but they’re much, much, much more efficient than a standard electric water heater.
STEVE: Are those costly?
TOM: Yeah, they’re more costly than a standard water heater. You know, you’re probably looking at maybe around 1,500 bucks for one, plus installation. So they’re much more expensive but they’re far more efficient.
STEVE: That’s what I’ll do then. I thank you for answering my question.
TOM: Sorry to hear about that leak and hopefully, we’ve helped you get back on track. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, look, if you’re heading outside for some home repairs and they’re up high, a good ladder is a must. But besides having that ladder, you need to really understand how to use it properly so that you don’t have gravity kind of working against you.
Ladder falls send hundreds of people to emergency rooms every year and some falls can even be fatal, so you’ve got to be careful. That’s why we’ve got ladder safety tips, in this week’s Pro Tip presented by Grayne Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group.
LESLIE: Yeah. The biggest mistake that you can make is taking shortcuts. So in order to be safe, a ladder needs to remain stationary. For extension ladders, you need to level the feet by digging out the ground or you can even use ladder levelers. Yes, they exist. You need to get them.
TOM: They do. And on hard, dry ground, you can rest the feet flat and make sure that it’s free of any slippery, plastic tarps. You don’t want to put your ladder on top of the tarp or any debris. And then make sure that the texture of rubber pads are intact. On soft grass or soft ground, you can flip the feet up and sort of drive their spiked ends into the ground or lay the feet flat and then tie them down on the side or brace them in front with stakes.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you want to position the ladder so that the distance from its base to the wall is one-quarter of the height of the ladder at its resting point. So you’re creating a 75-degree angle there. For a quick check on the angle of your ladder, you want to stand facing it with your feet touching its feet and your arms extended. Your palms should be able to rest on a rung at shoulder height and that’s how you know.
TOM: And here’s another tip: always look up for overhead wires before you carry or set up a ladder. And don’t rest an extension ladder against a tree or a pole; it’s just not going to be sturdy enough. And that is today’s Pro Tip, presented by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group.
The uncompromising beauty of Grayne’s 5-inch shingle siding offers the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com today – that’s G-r-a-y-n-e.com – or ask your pro.
LESLIE: Laurie, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LAURIE: We have a Chamberlain ¼-horsepower, garage-door opener and it has no remote.
LAURIE: We bought the house as-is, so we have no remote for it. Also, it has the keypad on the outside, which I’m unable to use. So, my question was: if I go to Home Depot or Lowe’s, would a universal remote work or do I have to call a garage-door company out to sell us a Chamberlain remote and program it?
TOM: Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you get the model number of the Chamberlain garage-door opener, which is probably printed on the back of the unit, go to the Chamberlain website and get the owner’s manual for the door opener? With that owner’s manual, you should be able to program the keypad. It’ll tell you the right sequence to do that. And also, you most likely can find out from Chamberlain exactly which remote is designed to work with that unit.
Now, Chamberlain is a very good company and in fact, they have a new technology that’s called MyQ. And the cool thing about the MyQ technology is you can actually put this MyQ unit in your garage and then you’ll be able to open and close your garage door with your smartphone. So, they’re way ahead of the game on this stuff.
LAURIE: Yeah. That’s what I was going to ask you, too. Is this one too old to do that?
TOM: I think it actually works on every garage-door opener that was built after 1996, so it may not be. It might be fine.
LESLIE: Can’t remember if it’s ‘96 or ‘94.
TOM: Yeah, it goes back over 10 years.
LAURIE: Good. OK. Because this one is about six years old.
TOM: I think that’s how I would proceed. I would not just go buy something and hope it works. I would do the research and you’ll figure it out. OK, Laurie?
LAURIE: OK. I’ll go on their web page. Thank you for the advice.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, we all know that do-it-yourself is way cheaper than hiring a guy but to do it right, you’re going to need the right tools. We’re going to tell you which saws get you the best bang for your buck, coming up.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, does your money pit have you feeling down in the dumps? Well, don’t suffer alone. You can head on over to MoneyPit.com’s Community page for questions, comments and conversation with other homeowners who are feeling it, just like you. And then you can head to the Radio and Podcast section to subscribe to the feeds of new articles, videos, blogs. It’s all right online on our homepage at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: And you can also post your question in the Community section, like Christian did who says, “I’m thinking about buying either a table saw or a sliding miter saw. I want a lower-priced one since I don’t do all that many DIY projects. Something between $100 and $150 would be in my price range. Which would be good for general projects around the house?”
Well, it’s a good question. It’s kind of hard to compare the tools because they actually do quite different things right? So our advice would be: buy both, right? Because you can never have too many tools.
LESLIE: Yeah. Get them both. Why not?
TOM: But I think your first decision is whether a table saw or the sliding miter is best considering that they are so different. So if you’re working on small projects, the sliding miter is probably all you need. It’s good because it can handle crosscut boards that are a few inches wide. It also gives you the flexibility of being able to deliver an angled cut, too. Like, say, crown molding.
Now, a table saw, on the other hand, is designed for bigger projects, like cabinet-making. And you’re not going to find many choices in your budget, though, for a table saw. For a sliding miter, there’s quite a good selection of tools under $200. And my gut tells me that a sliding miter is probably what you’re after. I mean a table saw is good for that big, flat work, like cutting sheets of plywood and particle board and composite and stuff like that. But for most …
LESLIE: Yeah. But you can only go with the grain, really.
TOM: Well, you could cut across the grain but the thing is to cut trim with that is – it’s not the saw for that. You know, so even cutting a board that’s like – if you had to, say, cut a shelf, right, and the shelf was 12 inches deep and you wanted to make it 3 foot long …
LESLIE: You can do that on a sliding miter-type saw.
TOM: Yeah. You could and it will be – you could do it on a table saw but it’d be really hard to do it. Almost borders on a bit dangerous. Don’t ask me how I know that.
TOM: It’s just not a smart idea, alright?
LESLIE: Please, I have had a piece of shelving come flying back at me on a table saw. It’s like it was against my better judgment to cut against the grain and to do this but I was like, “Eh, let’s just do it.” And it came flying at me.
I also think, Christian, if you are not tackling all of your DIY projects yourself for things around the house, you’re probably not going to be comfortable with the aggressiveness, shall we say, of a table saw. They’re scary. You’ve got a blade sticking straight up and most people’s first response is to take off the safety, which is so bad but seems to be the case with all the pros.
So, you’ve got to be careful. I feel like the sliding miter is really all you need.
TOM: OK. Up next, we have a post from Maggie who says: “We’re building a new house. The first floor has a concrete slab, which we stained and sealed. Can we put wooden baseboards, which are primed and painted, directly on the finished concrete?”
I don’t see why you can’t do that. What I might do is allow for a very small air gap, like maybe 1/8-inch between the bottom of the baseboard and the top of the surface. You could maybe take some small wood shims and set it under there just so you have a little bit of space. But I really don’t see any reason you can’t do that.
If you’re really concerned about moisture, you might also choose to use a composite baseboard, which is made out of extruded PVC, rather than a wood baseboard. But either option, I think, would work well.
LESLIE: And Maggie, this is a really good opportunity for you to save some time in your painting project. You can actually take those pieces of molding and paint them before you install them. This way, you’ve got them flat on a sawhorse or a table. Give them two good coats outside or wherever you’re working, let them dry, then install them. And then all you really have to do is fill the nail holes and then brush another coat on over it. But with a beautifully sealed and stained concrete floor you’re not going to want to go messing around with masking things off and getting paint on it. So it’s better to do it without installing it.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us on this beautiful, almost-summer day. Hey, we’re here to help you, 24/7, so you can pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT any time a home improvement question comes to mind. You can also check us out on Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, where we frequently post the answers to your questions, as well.
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 2015 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.)