Join us on this week’s podcast as we start by delving into the nitty-gritty of remodeling woes, revealing common mistakes to dodge. Then, from transforming your garage into a DIY haven to ensuring your home’s address stands out, we’ve got you covered with practical insights and expert advice for all your home improvement questions!
- Remodeling Mistakes: These 5 common remodeling mistakes can lead to renovation regrets.
- DIY Workspace: Create a comfortable and convenient garage workspace for less than $500.
- House Numbers: Make your home easier for guests and emergency responders to find with more visible house numbers.
Top Questions & Answers
- Garage Floor: How can you treat a garage floor that’s covered in oil and grease? Laurie gets tips for using TSP and a pressure washer, then applying an epoxy finish.
- Snow and Insulation: Ash is worried about attic insulation preventing roof snow from melting. Fast-melting snow actually poses a bigger risk because of added weight.
- Hiring Contractors: Rita is frustrated by pushy, uncooperative contractors and gets advice on searching online to get the well-prepared, proper estimates that she needs.
- Refinishing Stairs: Should Jason use water-based polyurethane on his wood stairs? It would be better to use a satin, solvent-based polyurethane that is more durable.
- Soundproofing: Tony’s noisy upstairs neighbor is a ceiling stomper! Aside from insulating the ceiling or having the neighbor put down rugs, the best he can do is use soft goods to absorb the sound in his apartment.
- Wall Tile: Shen wants to put tile over a cement wall in the garage. She’ll need a waterproof uncoupling membrane between the wall and tile to prevent moisture and cracking.
- Basement Ceiling: Drop ceiling or exposed ceiling in the basement? Gonzalo could tidy up the wiring and paint it, but he should really look at great new drop ceiling options.
- Ventilation and Insulation: Kathy’s Cape Cod home is hard to ventilate to prevent moisture, so we suggest using spray foam insulation to seal it completely.
- Toilet Plumbing: The basement toilet gurgles and won’t flush all the way. Rick will need a plumber to clear out the blockage that his standard snake can’t reach.
|TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is the Money Pit Home Improvement show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
|LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
|TOM: What are you guys working on this weekend? If it’s your house, you’re in the right place because you’re probably doing that, too. And if you’ve got a project or two, you like to get done and need some tips to get that done right the first time. Reach out to us right now at 1-888-Money-Pit or go to MoneyPit.com/ask. Are you stuck on a project that you would like to do but don’t know what the first step is? Or worse, you’ve done the first, second, third and fourth step. It’s that fifth step that you just can’t figure out. So you’re kind of in the middle of it. We would love to help. Hey, coming up on today’s show, are you planning a home improvement project for the New Year? Well, if so, we’re going to start you out right by warning you of the top five most common remodeling mistakes.
|LESLIE: And also ahead, are you a do-it-yourself year, but you need a better do it yourself workspace? Well, we’ve got ideas on how to create a comfortable and convenient area to work in in your garage.
|TOM: And when holiday guests travel over the river and through the woods for a visit, it’s a good idea to make sure they can spot your house by the numbers. We’ll have some tips for showing off your address.
|LESLIE: All right. But first, guys, do you love your home? I know we all love our homes, but sometimes. Do you just feel like it’s an endless pit that you’re throwing money into for all those home improvements and repairs? We get it, guys. Your houses cost a ton of money. Well, let us help you save some of those moneys. Do these repairs, get that maintenance done? Do those projects that you’re dreaming of? Whatever it is that’s going on at your Money Pit? We are here to lend a hand.
|TOM: So reach out to us right now at 1-888-Money-Pit. That’s 888-666-3974 or better yet, just go to moneypit.com/ask and click the blue microphone button for the fastest possible response. So let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
|LESLIE: We’ve got Laurie in New Jersey on the line who’s dealing with a very greasy garage floor. What’s going on over there?
|CALLER: I have a question about my daughter. She just bought a home in Bricktown and she has a garage floor that is coated probably about a quarter of an inch thick with oil and grease, probably from changing the oil in the car. So anyway, we were wondering how to deal with that and what would be the best way to get that oil or grease up or can it just be covered over with something?
|TOM: So, Laurie, I think that an epoxy floor finished product would be really good in this situation. You do have to clean the floor and that’s going to be done by pressure washing it. You can use a TSP solution that will help you loosen up some of that old oil that’s in there. And also, if you use a product like a garage floor refinishing kit, I actually am working right now with a product from Daich Coatings called Die Hard 100. It’s designed to be a garage floor kit. I’m actually using it in a basement for the same reason, and it’s a two part epoxy that you mix up and then you pour on and it has sort of a color flake in it. So it sort of hides the dirt once it’s hardened. But before you get there, you really need to clean this floor very well. You can do that with a pressure washer. Also, there is a concrete area that you can use that the nice coatings company also sells. And in your case, since it sounds like it’s so thick and so persistent, you’re going to really want to spend a lot of time cleaning this floor and then make sure that’s dried very, very well. You can’t, like, wash it on Saturday and put the floor down on Sunday. You got to let that water evaporate out. So plan accordingly. And I think you will have a very beautiful garage floor for what sounds like the first time ever in the life of this home.
|LESLIE: Now we’ve got ash in South Carolina on the line. What is going on in your Money Pit?
|CALLER: Well, I had I had been listening on my trip down here and I heard you mentioned something about insulation in the attic and. Yeah, and you know how it closes everything up. But it caused me to recall a conversation that I had with a building inspector up in Massachusetts who was all for the insulation. But then he went. But don’t forget, when you do that, you’re also keeping the heat from getting to your shingles or your roof surface, whatever that is. So consequently, you’re not getting the heat to melt the snow as fast as you used to. So that translates into a longer duration for your snow load in your house. And so I was just wondering if you guys had heard that or whatever. I took him at his word, so I didn’t use it. I just used pink. But yeah, I thought I’d ask. Okay. So first of all, just to summarize this, talking about different prevented attic and an unwanted attic. So if rented attic would be like a traditional attic where you have that insulation and you have soffit vents and ridge vents, an unmentioned attic is one where you spray foam insulation, seal the whole thing up. I have a house that’s built with spray from the very old house, and we spray foam that had been very happy with the energy bills that have gone down dramatically since we did that several years back. Now, in terms of this idea, there’s it cost an increase in snow load. in my experience, most of the time where you have damage caused by snow load, it’s when you have warm days that melt the snow and it gets kind of wet and heavy and does it run off the roof. So my thinking, I would imagine a slow melt in the snow is probably better than a real fast one, because if it gets really wet, that’s what has a tremendous amount of weight. water is the key here. It’s 8 pounds per gallon. And when you have snow that’s just soaking, sopping wet and doesn’t move, boy, that adds a lot of weight to a roof. In fact, usually when I hear about reports of roof collapses across the country, it usually follows a rainfall. When the temperatures got up there, the point was no longer snowing.
|TOM: It was raining and that’s what really added the weight. So I kind of see his point. But especially up in New England, he has some pretty steep roofs. I would imagine that is that straight from there’s just fine up there and doesn’t cause any increased risk of snow issues.
|CALLER: Awesome. Okay. Yeah, that sounds good. Like I said, he was the only one I’ve ever run across that conversation with. And then, lo and behold, you guys are talking about it. So I was like, Well, let’s see. And I appreciate.
|TOM: It. Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for reaching out.
|CALLER: Yes, sir. Have a good day.
|LESLIE: Hey, you want to make our day? Well, go ahead and leave us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts and we’ll be jumping for joy. Plus, you guys, your feedback helps us make the show even better for you. Just go to MoneyPit.com/review. We’ve got Rita on the line from Arkansas who’s looking to put in a metal roof. How can I help you?
|CALLER: The contractors that I talked to, they seem to have really sour attitudes, and that’s okay. Nicest word I could put it.
|TOM: What do they seem to be so miserable about?
|CALLER: They get offended that I ask questions like, What are the measurements on my roof? And they want me to sign paperwork as soon as they show up. Yeah, things like that. I want to know a streamlined way to get estimates.
|TOM: So one thing that you can do is you can use a service called Angi. And so if you go online and to angi.com, and then you put in what you’re looking for. So in this case you’re looking for a roofer to install a metal roof and they may ask you a couple of questions. And then what happens is Angie then sends your information out to a limited number of contractors in your area that have already identified themselves as doing this sort of work. So you’re only going to hear from those that are most qualified and most interested in your project because they actually are paying for the leads to get your contact information. It’s an advertising expense for them. So then when they show up, they’re totally prepared to do a proper estimate and don’t expect you to sign something on the dotted line right there. if they’re trying to push you to get you to hire them without you having a chance to think about it, that’s a bad sign right there. And I would go no further with someone that did that to me. A friend of mine the other day, I had to get an estimate for Windows and it was nine windows and the estimate was $35,000, which is ridiculous. But secondly, the guy goes, Well, if you can decide the next 20 minutes, it goes down to $26,000. are you kidding me? So she basically tossed him out of the house with a few choice words to boot. But anybody tries to push you like that is just bad business. So I would not I would not lose any sleep over that. I would just not work with him at all. But I think if you try, Angie, you’ll get an entirely different result.
|CALLER: Thank you.
|LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, Rita? There’s other people reviewing that contractor, letting you know how they were to work with their prices were fair, what the project was like, the end result. So there’s like a community that you can kind of compare things with right there to get a better sense.
|CALLER: Thank you.
|LESLIE: All right. Now let’s welcome Jason who’s looking to refinish some steps and needs help with the finish. What’s going on?
|CALLER: I’m about to put a coat of polish on a set of stairs that are just raw pine have never been coated before, So I’m going to give them a sanding. And I wanted to use a water based polish. I thought I heard recently that you counseled someone refinishing a wood floor against using a water based polish. I’ve seen a couple of products buy everything. I believe mint wax makes one as well that claim to be water based Polish formulations that are made for floors. So I was just wondering what you thought about these kinds of products and if they were this special formulations allegedly are durable enough for floors and stairs.
|TOM: Hey, Jason, thanks for reaching out. So, yes, I have a concern about using water based polyurethane on a floor or in your case, on steps, because I have found in the time that I’ve used it that it just simply does not have the same abrasion resistance as a solvent based polymer thing does. So when I do floors or steps, I always use one that is solvent based. I had some bad experiences with the water base for that reason. So I’m not really likely to ever try it again. So in your case, especially since stairs are so darn hard to refinish, so much work associated with them, I would definitely recommend that you use a solvent based polyurethane oil based polyurethane suck it up and clean the brushes with mineral spheres when you’re done. But it really does work better. It will lay nice and flat. And I would recommend also that you use satin and not gloss because satin, especially in an older stair like that, is not going to show any defects in the wood as well as a high gloss product would. So good luck with that project. Hope that makes sense.
|LESLIE: Well, home improvement can be one of the most rewarding times of homeownership, but with the excitement of planning that new project, it is really easy to make some errors that can end up driving those costs way beyond what you’ve budgeted. So here’s our list of big errors that we hear about and that come up over and over again. First of all, over improving, you’re like, that’s the thing. Yeah. a lot of projects contribute real value to your property. Others have about same resale value as a used lottery ticket. So not there, you guys. So it really depends now if the value of your current home plus the cost of the improvement that you’ve planned for far exceeds the average value of homes in your area, you’re going to see very little to no return on your home improvement investment. Now things like bathrooms, kitchens adding on a deck, those are the type of improvements that provide the best return on investment projects that are geared more toward personal taste, like decorating, for example, usually is not going to significantly improve your value. So only do those if you plan on staying that home a long time and you really want to enjoy them or sometimes you just have to have that new wallpaper or whatever.
|TOM: Next to plan your work and work your plan. Before hiring a remodeling contractor. You need to do your homework. So research projects read reviews with a mind towards developing a spec or specification for your project that identifies the products you’d like included in your remodel. Now, for small projects, you can do this yourself, but for larger jobs, it’s definitely a good idea to hire an architect or designer this way. When you go out to bid with contractors, they’re all bidding on the same set of plans, same work to be done. So you can really compare apples to apples.
|LESLIE: All right. Another big mistake we see again and again is not minding the zone. if you’re building a new shed or a fence, definitely seems like an easy enough home improvement project, but it can quickly turn into a legal nightmare if you don’t first check the local land zoning codes for your property, even if your project gets completed without a visit from that local zoning official, a violation could definitely haunt you years later. When it comes time to sell your home. And sometimes you’re faced with taking it down or huge fines or both. So never a funding.
|TOM: Next, you want to review your contract. You want to make sure you have a contract and make sure all of your agreements with the contractors are in writing. good contracts are going to include a very clear statement of the scope of work, the list of materials in the total contract price and a schedule of payments, the job start time and the completion dates. Now for small projects, get in the habit of writing a quick email back to the contractor who may have given you a price verbally. To confirm those details In writing, you conclude the price and the schedule can be very friendly email. But setting an out that way just avoids confusion, helps keep everybody on the same schedule. And if the contractor doesn’t deliver or tries to charge you extra, you can always refer back to that.
|LESLIE: Now here’s another big no no. Having no permit in a lot of areas of the country, getting a building permit is a requirement before you even start a home improvement project. Now, some contractors might attempt to make getting that permit the responsibility of the homeowner, and that is a costly mistake. You need to make your contractor responsible for getting the permit and complying with building codes every single step of the way. And that local building inspector is going to be your best resource for making sure that you get the job done properly and you, as a regular homeowner who may be not familiar with all of these intricacies. we do this for a living and I don’t even understand all that stuff. So you need the pros who know how to get it done. So you’re not facing big issues down the road.
|TOM: But the bottom line here is we want you to be able to do it, wants to do it right so you don’t have to do it again. So follow these tips and reach out to us with questions about projects you’re thinking about doing. The number here again is one 888-Money-Pit.
|LESLIE: All right. We’ve got Toni on the line, who is dealing with a super noisy neighbor. Tell us about it and hopefully we can help quiet things down.
|CALLER: Oh, well, she just likes to stomp all my ceiling and just trying to figure out what I could do to make it a little bit more quiet on my side.
|TOM: A ceiling stopper, huh? I tell you what, that is tough. Is this a new problem that she change her flooring or anything like that?
|CALLER: She says she didn’t. I confronted her and the landlord and she’s very sharp down. She didn’t you know, we couldn’t see it.
|TOM: Well, listen, I got to tell you, it’s very difficult. If not impossible to do anything when you’re underneath a noisy neighbor like that. The what could be done is on her side of it. And that would probably involve a new type of flooring that has a sound resistant underlayment underneath it. You’re never going to get rid of all the sound. Now, if she doesn’t, you can’t do that. You could put down throw rugs, area rugs, that sort of thing. But again, you’re kind of asking people to do this just for the good, the order, and there’s no way to force them to do it. So I don’t have any good solutions for you because sound, sound deadening usually starts above you mean even if you were to insulate that ceiling, you would that wouldn’t be your job to do. If it’s an apartment and I take an investment on the part of the of the landlord and I doubt the landlord’s going to want to do that.
|CALLER: Because I mentioned her on my side is a ceramic tile.
|TOM: Ceramic tile where? On your floor?
|CALLER: In my living room. Yes.
|TOM: Yeah. Well, look, if you want to soften some of that sound, Leslie, probably having some furniture or wall coverings would kind of help deal with that echo issue, right?
|LESLIE: Yeah. And you didn’t mention having area rugs, so with a ceramic floor like that, having an area rug is just going to help sound dead in your own space. It kind of just absorbs a lot of that sound that’s going on and the reverberation from what’s going on upstairs. So definitely add a rug or two if you can. if you don’t have any window treatments, put some up. The more things you have in each room. I’m not saying get it all cluttered. I’m not saying make a mess of your space. I’m just saying add some soft goods that can definitely help absorb some of that sound. And I know a lot of guys would like, but I’ve got a leather sofa that’s also like a ceramic tile for the leathers. She’s going to send it right back into the space.
|TOM: Are you messing with the guy’s man cave lesson?
|LESLIE: No, I’m sorry, but definitely think about things that could help absorb some of that sound. And then the softer, the better.
|CALLER: Okay, Well, thank you very much.
|TOM: Good luck with that project. I hope that she will decide to quiet down for the good of the order.
|CALLER: Tony Lee, do you guys have a good day. Bye bye.
|LESLIE: Bye now. We’ve got Shana. Need some help? Tiling a concrete wall. What’s going on? Hi. They’re calling from New Hampshire.
|CALLER: I have a staircase that goes from a garage into the living area. And at the bottom garage level of the staircase, there are poured cement walls that I would like to cover with tile. And I am wondering the best way to prep this surface, both to keep out moisture and to accept the tiles that I would like to put on.
|TOM: So and a couple of things come to mind. First of all, because you’re seeing signs of moisture there, I would take steps to try to reduce that. And it’s almost always caused by a problem with gutters being overflowing with leaves and getting clogged up or downspouts that are dumping water near the wall or soil that’s just sort of sitting there and not allowing water to run away could be reversed back into the wall. Or you could have, I don’t know, a walk in way in there or some bricks in there. It’s holding water against the wall. So basically you want to move water away from the foundation. In terms of tiling, Yes, definitely could tile over those foundation walls. There’s one important step that you may not be aware of that I would recommend. And it’s called an uncoupling membrane. It’s basically a waterproof membrane that would be adhered to the wall, the tile would be adhered to that. And by doing that, if there’s any differential movement, which always happens between the tile and the wall itself, it won’t crack the tile and cause them to pop off. So definitely a project that you could do. Of course you have to have the right materials like the membrane that I talked about and the right adhesives are going to be rated for all that. I would take a look at a product called Detroit DIY trades made by Schluter CHL You TR They’re a company that specializes in these types of waterproofing membranes and use a product like that in between the tile and the wall and you should be good to go.
|LESLIE: Well, if you’re a do it yourself or you need a space where you can easily tackle those projects because if it’s not convenient for what you’re working on and where your tools are, you’re never going to get any of these projects done If you’re always looking for everything. Now, if you have a garage, you don’t need to spend a lot to set up a basic workspace. According to House logic dot com, you can build a garage workshop complete with lighting for less than 500 bucks and with minimal effort.
|TOM: The first essential to buy or build is a good workbench with a hard heavy top. Now typically it should be about 24 inches deep and 38 inches high and have some drawers, shelves and a couple of cases. Now pre-made ventures cost about maybe 2 to $500, but you can build one yourself in a day for probably less than a hundred bucks.
|LESLIE: Now, your work surface is also going to need some bright lighting and high intensity LED lights. These are great for task lighting over your workbench and recessed lighting in the ceiling is very useful for both task and ambient lighting ceiling. Mounted fluorescent light fixtures are an inexpensive classic option, and when planning your lighting, the rule of thumb here is to use 130 to 150 lumens per square foot of workspace. So get those math brains, working guys.
|TOM: Now let’s talk about power. You need to have adequate electrical service with enough outlets and capacity to fire up your power tools. So if you don’t have enough outlets you want, install them near that workspace rather than use extension cords. This helps to avoid tripping hazards. And if you’ve not already done so, you might want to upgrade to throw amp circuits and run heavier gauge wire from circuit breaker to the garage. You have a sub panel in the garage and this way you can create additional circuits that won’t trip household circuits.
|LESLIE: Now smart storage is going to make things very easy when it comes to the workspace. You’ll be able to find tools, nuts, bolts, all the items that you need. Modular systems. Great, because they allow you to arrange those shelving the bins, the hooks, however you want them in a way that’s going to fit your space. And there are lots of garage storage systems available on the market that you can just purchase and put together.
|LESLIE: Now for those larger tools and supplies, plastic bins with lids, they’re fantastic. Plus, you can see what you’re looking for.
|TOM: Absolutely. Now, another practical way to furnish your workspace is by repurposing old kitchen cabinets. This is a favorite of mine. I’ve done this in a couple of houses with Victoria Kitchens. you can either find salvaged building materials or if you’re lucky enough like I was, you can reuse the cabinets that you’re taking out of an old kitchen. They provide lots and lots of storage and they’re just deep enough for a workbench. Just really a great way to pick up cabinets space without having to build them from scratch or buy them.
|LESLIE: All right. We’ve got Gonzalo on the line who’s looking for some help with the basement ceiling.
|CALLER: So my fall and winter project will be to revamp our basement. I’m going to start with the ceilings. Right now, we have the old school drop down ceilings, which we’re not fond of, and we’re not looking to put in the newer styles drop dropped out of here. So far, the idea has been to put drywall to drywall the ceiling. However, my wife has really tried to convince me to not put anything and just leave the wood exposed.
|LESLIE: All right. Yeah. Basement ceilings can be tough because you are given limited height. You kind of want to finish off the space. And there’s lots of things potentially that you need to hide in a basement ceiling, plumbing, electrical, wiring, all that kind of stuff. So couple of things. You can tidy up the wiring that’s in there, maybe tuck it against those beams and paint the ceiling if you just want to leave it as is. But you say no to a drop ceiling. Drop ceilings can be beautiful. Perhaps you haven’t taken a good look at them lately and maybe if you and your wife were to look at these together, there’s a lot of options. yes, you’re dealing with the framework of a drop ceiling, but the tiles that go into them, they can have a coffered style. They can have sort of a tin look. They can have all kinds of looks that feel like a constructed and finish to space. So I wouldn’t pooh pooh that idea yet. I’d kind of take a look again. basements are tough and you want to make it a usable space. So really think about ways that you can finish it. If you’ve got the height to put in the drop ceiling, then I definitely think it’s a great option. Kathy in New Hampshire is on the line with some questions about condensation. What is happening at your Money Pit?
|CALLER: We have a cape, 35 year old house cape that a lot of the homes here in New England get trapped moisture. We’ve had two roofs put on, but in the meantime we have some mold. It’s not toxic up in the attic that we would like to take care of ourselves and then either add more insulation but possibly have it blown in. Just wondering what your thoughts are on the blown in insulation cost wise compared to the old insulation on rolls?
|TOM: A couple of things. First of all, your problem is not that you need more insulation, it’s that you need more ventilation because attics in the winter get very damp, and when they get damp, you get a lot of condensation in the conversations. What leads to mold grows, especially on the inside of the sheathing. The way to battle that is with ventilation.
|TOM: That said, a Cape Cod is probably one of the most difficult home styles to ventilate because the center section of it usually is occupied by a ceiling up that goes up to the bottom of the roof rafters. And then the sort of knee wall is open, has a very limited amount of storage space. But doesn’t really give you the opportunity to put much ventilation in there because then and you also got to be insulated because that basically becomes the that becomes the exterior wall of the house. What I would do if it was my house is I would use spray foam insulation because spray foam insulation does not have to be ventilated. Now, I don’t know how much reconstruction this is going to require you to do to open up, especially the top half of that roof section. But you can essentially spray the underside all the way across that surface. You can spray the knee walls, you’ll seal it in very well because it will expand and lock in against any drafts. You’ll also have an improved amount of insulation because the spring foam is very good. You’ll also increase the insulation because spray foam is very efficient. So you need less of that to basically give you a higher r-value. Don’t get me wrong, loan is a great option. It’s just that in a cheap shot, it’s just very hard to ventilate to keep that moisture from building up. Well, hardest Bond house numbers aren’t just frustrating for visitors. They can also slow emergency response if they need to find your house in a hurry. So to prevent confusion, you want to make sure you’re displaying large, clear numbers on both your home and your mailbox.
|LESLIE: Yeah, if you’ve got a long driveway or a hard to spot entrance, you want to make sure that your address is easily visible to those that are driving by and illuminated after dark.
|TOM: And if your community allows, you can also spray paint your house numbers on your curb with reflective paint.
|LESLIE: Yeah, you’ve got to make sure that your house number is super visible. The more visible it is, the better you are at keeping your family safe and your visitors happy. Rick in Delaware is dealing with some plumbing issues. Tell us what’s happening in your Money Pit.
|CALLER: Okay. I have a bathroom in the basement and the toilet won’t flush all away. Okay, I. I’ve dealt with it before with a toilet snake, and it took care of it, but it seemed like it’s probably something different now than just screams around. And then it gurgles.
|TOM: So it sounds like a blockage then. This is not a problem with the flush valve or the fill valve in the toilet That part works. It just doesn’t drain. Is that correct?
|CALLER: Right. Because I thought the five gallon bucket actually imported down and it still wouldn’t go down.
|TOM: Yeah, well, obviously, you’ve got to get to the bottom of it with this blockage. You said you tried a snake, but how far did that snake go down?
|CALLER: It didn’t go down too far, I guess. It’s. Yeah, Standard snake. Yeah. I hear you’re a regular. Another snake in there. Yeah.
|TOM: You’re going to have to have that actually professionally cleaned out by a sewer during a sewer drain cleaning company like a router type company. Because whatever blockage you’re experiencing there is obviously beyond the reach of that snake. Don’t feel bad. I’ll tell you a funny story about what happened to me. It was on the morning of when one of my kids was getting being christened.
|TOM: And of course, when you have that, your family coming over, you don’t have a bathroom emergency. Well, the toilet just would not flush. It would not go down. And I was very frustrated, but I was absolutely positive that I knew because I am a home improvement expert. So I know this stuff. I knew it was the willow tree and the roots outside the window. So I said, Oh, darn it, I got to go get a shovel, got to go expose the pipe, break it open, get those roots out. Of course, I head out there virtually a my Sunday best, although I think a chance to get that pipe exposed and I could not find the problem. And I was scratching my head and I figure, okay, it’s between this hole and the toilet. So I pull the toilet off, I flip it upside down and it turns out that one, my darling children had flushed a toy down there. It was a toy telephone that was lodged in this place. And I’m looking at the bowl and thinking and looking at the bottom. I think there’s some blue. There’s nothing supposed to be blue in that toilet. It was a toy phone and that’s what had blocked it. So some home improvement expert. I was there. I was with a big hole of you. Big, big hole, big pile of dirt and busted up a sewer line that had nothing to do with it. I pulled that phone out there, put it back together, and the day went on as planned.
|CALLER: Let me ask you a question, though. Could it actually could it be anything with the vent pipe?
|TOM: Yes, it could. The gurgling means it’s struggling for air and so it could be a blockage of the vent pipe or the drainpipe. And in either event, you have to have the right tools. Now the drain clean companies are probably going to snake down there both ways and call it a day if they’re really perplexed, they can run a camera down there. There’s line cameras that they can sneak in and actually see with the blockages. All right. So I think that’s what you’re going have to do here. And unfortunately, we hate to call a pro, we can fix it ourselves, but this is just a specialized repair, specialized piece of maintenance. You’ve got to get done. Good luck with our project.
|LESLIE: Mark reached out to Money Pit and says, I have a 25-year-old detached garage that is built into a hill and has developed cracks. The back is eight feet below the dirt line and the side is up to about four feet. I had someone come out to give me a quote on what it would take to correct, and his estimate was around $26,000. Wowsers. That was for a French drain inside a sump pump and something to straighten the walls. Does this sound right?
|TOM: Not at all. Leslie, remember we had a foundation expert, Bob Brown, on a few weeks back, and we were talking with him about the amateur foundation repair companies that are out there that they claim to be able to diagnose this stuff, but they just can’t. This guy is completely wrong with his approach. And let me tell you why. First of all, the fact it’s a cracking in the walls when it’s built sort of into a hill, that’s not unusual. And the reason it happened is because there’s probably water collecting on the high side of the garage and it’s soaking in and it’s freezing and expanding and it’s pushing down word against those walls, causing that movement and that shift. Now, if you were to take the $26,000 advice from the contractor, all you got to do is put it in a French drain and a sump pump inside. This is the same thing that this so that the waterproofing company shown I always say is the bad move and here’s why. Because if you put that in there, what’s how is that going to change? The amount of water is collecting against the back wall. It doesn’t change one iota. The water still collects against that wall. It’s still going to freeze and expand push on the wall further. So you definitely don’t need to put drains in. What you do need to do is to make sure that you reshape the soil around the outside of this garage so that the water has a swale, basically falls a drainage past around the garage and passed it. Now there’s a hill coming down to the top of this. The other thing that you could do is you could put in a curtain drain or a French drain in the soil itself, basically a dig, a trench you lay in perforated pipe. There’s a type of pipe called easy drain that actually has the filter cloth built right into it, and then that collects the water and runs it around the outside when the project’s done to fill it with soil and with and you see the top of it, you never see it, but it intercepts that water in a way down the hill and runs it around the garage. So basically what you need to do here, Mark, is manage that water, keep it away from that back wall. In terms of the repair, You can seal up those cracks with silicone or you could use a crack patching compound like those from Kwikrete. But you definitely, definitely, definitely don’t need to hire a guy with jackhammers to bust out your floor and put in some pumps that only get worse.
|LESLIE: All right. Now we’ve got Julie in Chicago who says the sliding glass doors on my tub enclosure were looking disgusting. So I remove them, including the frame strips. Can I replace the doors myself, or should I hire someone? And is there anything tricky I should know about the project.
|TOM: That’s out of your price? These shower enclosures lately, they are ridiculously expensive when you have them done custom, but there are lots and lots and lots of pre manufactured shelters out there that you can install yourself. Julie So I think you definitely should see if you can find one that fits the tub that you have and if it does install it yourself, because if you hire someone to do it, you go to a bathhouse where they make them custom, it’s going to be thousands of dollars.
|LESLIE: Yeah, that’s super expensive. So you may be coming up with an interesting configuration, but you’re going to for sure be able to do it yourself.
|TOM: You are listening to the Money Pit Home Improvement show, and we are so glad that you are. We’re just about out of time, but we hope that we’ve helped you out with a tip or two to help make your home improvements easier to tackle. Maybe help you with some planning for projects ahead. If you’ve got questions though, and could not get through to the show for this edition, remember you can reach us 24 seven. Just go to Money Pit icon /ask. Click the blue microphone button, record your question and we’ll get back to you as soon as absolutely possible. Until next time, 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.
|(Note: The above referenced transcript is AI-Generated, Unedited and Unproofed and as such may not accurately reflect the recorded audio. Copyright 2023 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.)