- We’ve got 3 low-cost kitchen renos you can get done for well under a thousand bucks to add style and convenience without draining your bank account!
- Creating an outdoor living space is a popular home improvement project. But what’s best for your home: a deck or a patio? We’ll walk you through the options.
- You don’t think too much about your roof until it leaks. Then its ALL you can think about. We’ll share tips to spot small problems before they become big ones.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions.
- Cedar may be rot resistant but its not rot proof. We help Beverly select the best stain for her cedar covered patio.
- Taking on home improvement project can lead to lots of surprises, but Nils discovered a huge snakeskin when taking on his, along with a whole host of insects. Tom offers tips to avoid infestations, and the best pesticides to use.
- Mercedes needs help dealing with roof leaks caused by nail holes that were mistaken made inside metal flashing. We share the best way to repair a roof for a permanent fix.
- John needs tips to increase the output of solar panels, that have become dirty due to pollen and tree droppings.
- Popcorn ceilings may have been popular a long time ago but now they’re a big pain! Leslie shares tips on how to remove a popcorn ceiling.
- Brian needs help with a septic system that seems to be creating a sink hole! Tom quickly nails down the problem and provides the solution.
- Mil needs a solution for repairing a cracked shower pan. Tom shares a trick of the trade to set a shower pan and make sure it never cracks again.
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: And we’re here to help you tackle projects you want to get done around your house, inside or out. Whether it’s landscaping, outdoor living, perhaps you need to do a new roof, some new siding, want to install some windows, fix up the kitchen, these are projects that we have done time and time again over the many years we’ve been hosting this show. And we have answered these questions time and time again. But we are ready to answer them again for you, for your particular project, your particular job, to help you get it done once, get it done right so you can get back to enjoying that space you call home.
If you’ve got questions, a couple of ways to get in touch with us. First up, you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974. Better yet, you can record your own question on The Money Pit website. Just click the blue microphone button. That gets sent right direct to our studio and we can answer you on the next show. Whichever way, though, reach out to us because we do want to help.
Hey, coming up on today’s show, we’re going to talk about outdoor-living space. You know, creating a space beyond the four walls of your home is a really popular home improvement project. But how do you decide what’s the best way to go: a deck or a patio? We’re going to walk you through those options.
LESLIE: And you don’t want to think too much about your roof until it leaks but then it’s all you’re going to be thinking about. We’re going to share some tips on how to spot small problems before they become big ones.
TOM: And remodeling your kitchen is a project that always adds to the value of your home. But it’s also one that can get pretty expensive to do. So we’re going to share 3 kitchen renos that you can get done for under 1,000 bucks, with all that style and convenience, without draining your wallet.
LESLIE: Alright. What are you guys working on? Is it a kitchen? Is it an outdoor project? You’re trying to make the most of your money pit for the summer season? Well, whatever it is, we can lend a hand, so give us a call.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Beverly in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BEVERLY: Well, I have a house that’s just been built a year-and-a-half ago but I have a covered patio. And my builder put cedar posts out there. The rest of my trim is all white. So I wanted to cover or paint the cedar but he’s telling me I can’t do it because I’ll rot them out. And I – that doesn’t sound right to me but I’m not sure.
TOM: So, what would you – in a perfect world, Beverly, what would you like to see on those cedar posts? Would you like them to be white and match the rest of the house?
BEVERLY: Yeah. All of my trim is white and so I would rather them be white. They’re a year-and-a-half old now, so they’re starting to turn the cedar look and get all dark.
TOM: Right. Are they kind of decorative?
TOM: OK. See, here’s what I would do. The first thing I would – I’m going to recommend a staining process. So, the first thing you’re going to do is prime them with an oil-based primer or a solvent-based primer. And then you’re going to stain them and I would use a solid-color stain. And a solid-color stain is not going to look like paint, so it won’t tend to peel; it’ll fade over time. But it’ll soak in really nicely. And you can get a white stain – a solid-white stain – and it’ll look quite attractive.
Painting wood does not cause it to rot; it prevents it from rotting.
LESLIE: It just requires a lot of repainting.
BEVERLY: Yeah. He said if I covered it or painted them, that it causes the moisture to pull to the base and then they rot.
TOM: I would disagree with that. I think if you stain them, you’ll find that they’re quite attractive and that the moisture will wick in and out just fine.
BEVERLY: Good. Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.
TOM: Good luck with that project. You’re very welcome.
LESLIE: Nils in Delaware is on the line with a fly problem at a new house.
What’s going on?
NILS: Girlfriend purchased a historical home that was located in our county seat where all the court buildings are. It was built in 1806 and they moved it out of town. And so now we’re redoing it a room at a time but we’re trying to keep it in period, because it’s in the register. So, I guess we’ve got to be careful what we do.
But when we opened up the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom, there was a humongous snake that had died in the ceiling.
TOM: Oh, no.
NILS: And all that was left was the skin and she was done when she saw that.
TOM: Wow. That’s freaky.
NILS: But we’ve got all these different types of frogs in the yard. We’ve got a million ticks and now we’ve got these – everybody’s calling them “furnace flies” that sees them. But we don’t have a furnace. We’ve got a boiler but that’s out in what’s called a “potting shed” and it’s a detached building from the home. So I don’t know where these flies are coming from.
TOM: Well, listen, Nils, we can give you some advice on how to tackle the flies. But between the flies and the ticks and everything else that’s going on in this house, I really think you should just cut the pain and pick up the phone and call a pest-control operator – a licensed pest-control professional. Because they have the tools and the techniques and the products that can effectively and safely make this house a lot less insect-infested.
Now, with the flies, you can make your own fly traps out of apple-cider vinegar. All you do is you take a cup or a jar, you put a couple inches of vinegar – apple-cider vinegar – in it, you cover the top of that jar with plastic, punch some holes in it that are big enough for the flies to get in and they’ll find their way in there and they won’t be able to get out. So I mean we can give you some sort of home remedies like that. But if you’ve got this level of insect infestation in this old house and even the surrounding yards …
NILS: Oh, no, no, no. There is no infestation in the house. It’s just we’ve got flies that go around the kitchen and her family room. Most of the floor is like 18-inch planks, 18 inches wide. And we just don’t know where the flies are coming from and how to get rid of them. And I have to be careful, because our neighbor was killed in a car accident and we’ve inherited all five of her cats because they had nowhere to go, I guess.
TOM: Well, I still think that you could have the house professionally treated, safely, even with the animals inside of it. And it’s going to be a lot more effective than chasing them down with any other type of remedy. There are pyrethrin sprays that you can buy over the counter but I just don’t think you should use them.
A professional is going to come in and sometimes people think, “Well, if the professionals come in, they’re using the really strong stuff.” Well, I always put it this way: they’re using the right stuff and they’re using the right amount of it to do the job at hand. Pesticides today are heavily regulated and they have to be applied very specifically and consistent with the label directions. And they do a pretty good job, because the guys are trained to know how to do it. And so, considering the level of issue you’ve got going on here, that’s exactly what I would do here. OK, Nils?
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading on over to Minnesota where Mercedes is having some roofing issues.
What’s going on at your money pit?
MERCEDES: Well, I had roofing put on a few years ago and they nailed it in the valleys instead of on the ridges.
TOM: Oh, OK.
MERCEDES: And then now that it has rained these – you know, quite a bit in between, then my paint in my kitchen ceiling is peeling off and the sheetrock is wet because of the moisture coming in.
TOM: So, basically, it’s leaking through the metal valleys because there’s holes in those valleys, Mercedes?
MERCEDES: Yes. Yes, in the valley.
TOM: So, obviously, that wasn’t done right. And so, you have really two choices: you can either replace that valley flashing – and that’s a project, because the metal roof has to be loosened up to get the new valley underneath it – or what you could do is silicone-caulk those holes and hope for the best.
Silicone, you’ll probably get a good couple of years out of that but you may have to do it again.
MERCEDES: Well, now, I wonder, did you hear about this product that – they put an undercoat on a metal roof to repair it? And then they put a second coat over the top of that?
TOM: No. And I don’t know how you get an undercoat under a metal roof that’s already down.
So, metal roofs have been around for over 100 years and they’re super-durable roofs. But the problem is that a lot of times, the contractors don’t have the skill set to properly construct them and properly repair them.
If they’re installed properly, then they can last indefinitely and be leak-free. It sounds like there were some errors made in the installation of your roof. And so you have to kind of decide now whether you want to take this apart and fix those errors or just continue to explore opportunities for patching.
If it was me, I would try to disassemble it and replace that flashing, because it’s going to be a sore spot moving forward, not only with water but also, you’re going to have ice dams that’ll form there in your part of the country. The water will get behind it and that can also work its way into the roof.
OK, Mercedes? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, creating an outdoor-living space is a popular home improvement project. But how do you decide which is the best for your home: a deck or a patio? We’re going to help you figure that out, in today’s Home Solution Tip presented by Angi.
First, you want to consider the space that you have to work with at home. Now, if it’s ground level, for example, where the ground is a foot or so lower than the door, a patio is really going to be your best solution. Building a deck that low to the ground means you have to bury part of the wood frame and that’s just never a good idea.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Now, from a do-it-yourself perspective, a patio is a definite possibility. Brick, natural stones, cement pavers, these are the main paving choices to work with. And all three types are installed in sand, with irregularly-shaped natural stone being probably the biggest challenge to work with because it’s kind of like assembling a giant outdoor jigsaw puzzle.
Now, you want to start your patio project by really carefully assessing the space that you have sort of dedicated for placement and then planning for the necessary drainage. You want it to slope a bit. Then take time to excavate and level and align that patio area for a really long-lasting, trip-proof result.
Now, the most common paver-patio mistake comes from not properly prepping the base. So don’t rush through the patio-brick installation or the bricks will loosen and weeds will form just as fast.
LESLIE: Now, when it comes to decks, the cost and looks of a deck can vary widely, due to the many choices of materials that are available. Wood decks are going to be the least expensive but they have a lot to maintain. If your budget is healthy and your tolerance for maintenance is low, you might like to consider composite decking, which is going to look great, it’s super durable and it’s really, really easy to clean.
Now, whatever the decking surface or railing material that you choose, pressure-treated lumber is generally the standard for the construction area of the floor framing and the support structure of the deck. And that’s one reason we say that building a deck is not a project for an inexperienced DIYer.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s really important. Because between the very, very heavy lumber and the need to get it properly attached to the house, there is a lot that can go wrong and lead to even a potential collapse. So, if it’s a deck you want, you really are best to turn that project over to a pro.
Now, when it comes to maintenance, patios need virtually none. But decks? Well, they actually need quite a bit. For example, even if you have a wood deck that’s decay-resistant – it could be pressure-treated, it could be cedar, it could be redwood – it’s still going to warp and split. So you really need to make sure the deck is sealed within, say, the first 3 to 6 months after it’s been built and then repeat that process every 2 to 5 years.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, whichever way you do go, you want to make sure that you get a permit before you begin. That way, the local inspectors can make sure it’s built correctly. And that approval can come in handy if you decide to sell your home.
If you want some more tips to make your outdoor-living projects a success, check out the Solution Center at Angi.com.
TOM: And that’s today’s Home Solution Tip presented by Angi. When it comes to home projects, they know you want to nail it every time. Angi does the heavy lifting for you, with top pros who get the job done right. Download the Angi app today.
LESLIE: John in Rhode Island has a question about solar panels.
How can we help you today?
JOHN: Solar panels installed the latter half of March. And I have been noticing a steady increase in production up until about 2 weeks ago. And I have noticed the production falling off. And of course, the pollen has increased. And I’m wondering if there’s anything on the market that I could treat the panels with.
The panels are located kind of high on the roof. It’s difficult to get to. And just like I said, I’m just wondering if there’s something that I could add to it to have the pollen wash off quicker.
TOM: So it’s pollen and tree droppings, huh?
JOHN: Yeah. Well, actually, the tree’s on the good shade with – but it’s really, basically, the pollen. I live in a wooded area. And like I said, I’ve watched the production with these inverters. You can really carefully monitor what the system is doing. So, although the day is getting longer and the sun is getting higher in the sky, production is off. And the only thing I can relate it to is the pollen.
TOM: John, that’s actually a surprisingly common problem. And the solution is simply to clean those panels.
Now, in your case, that may be easier said than done because you’re telling me they’re difficult to reach. It might also be possible to install sort of a cleaning system that consists of manifolds that are installed right above those solar panels, where you basically can turn on the water and run water over them, occasionally, to clean them out. But of course, that’s a lot of work.
Is it possible for you to get a ladder up against the side of that house there and use a hose or with something – maybe a high-pressure hose to be able to kind of wash the pollen off those panels? Because it’s pretty well documented that solar production goes down, as you’ve discovered, when those pollen – when those panels get covered with dirt or pollen.
JOHN: Right, right. Well, I guess the thing – I’m sure there’s something I could invest in. Certainly a better ladder, a taller ladder. And also, there’s got to be something where I can actually get the hose on a pole – I have a pruning pole – and maybe point it at an angle where it could wash the panels. But again, I thought maybe the solution would be, well, in the spring, get up on the roof, treat the panels and then I should be all set. But maybe it’s just a simple as a hose.
TOM: Yeah. I’m not aware of any treatment there that’s going to basically make them more slippery. I guess there’s – I was thinking in terms of a wax. But Hyde Tools – H-y-d-e – they have a product called Pivot Pro that attaches to a regular hose and it has an angular nozzle at top. And it’s designed for cleaning gutters and then cleaning boats and getting underneath spaces and things like that. And basically, the head pivots so you can get all sorts of different angles with it. And it also steps up the pressure of water coming out it. Pretty inexpensive tool there. You might want to look that up online and give it a shot.
JOHN: I think I will. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now I’ve got Nancy in Arkansas on the line with a painting question.
How can we help you?
NANCY: Calling on behalf of my mom and she has an older home. And there – she has a lot of – she has a popcorn ceiling. And she has a lot of cobwebs and stuff. And I’m just wondering, what would be the best way of removing those to eliminate as much debris falling in the carpet and that sort of thing and to give it a fresh look?
LESLIE: Well, I think with a popcorn ceiling, number one, you’re fighting the texture. So everything kind of wants to get stuck up there.
So, first off is I would start with one of those Swiffers that look like a feather duster, just to get all of that dust and that – the cobwebs down so that you’ve got a clean surface. And if that looks OK, then you might want to stop there.
You can’t really clean a popcorn ceiling, because the way you remove a popcorn ceiling is to spray it with water and then you scrape it off. So if you try to clean it with any sort of cleanser or moisture, you’re going to start to disintegrate the popcorn and make that come off, if it’s truly a popcorn ceiling and not a textured stucco or something like that. So I think once you get the spiderwebs and things off of it, you might be better off just painting it and giving it a fresh coat to just sort of freshen up the ceiling space a little bit.
But if you do decide to paint the popcorn ceiling, you have to get a very specialized roller. It looks like a – it’s a foam roller that has a spiral cut to it. And that will open up to sort of accommodate the popcorn-ceiling texture. If you use a regular roller, it’s going to paint it and then pull the texture off. So you have to be careful in your application. But that’ll do a great job of freshening it up.
NANCY: OK. Well, great. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: Well, the summer season is rough on your skin, right? It’s when you really have to protect yourself against getting burned. Well, guess what? That summer heat is also rough on your home, especially your roof. All that exposure to UV really sets that roof back in its condition, sometimes by years. But fortunately, there’s a way that you can actually reverse the aging process. Too bad it doesn’t work for your skin but it will work for your roof. It’s a process called Roof Maxx.
LESLIE: That’s right. Mike Feazel from Roof Maxx is joining us to explain how this product works.
MIKE: Hey, thanks for having me on.
TOM: I always think of your product as a moisturizer for your roof.
MIKE: You know, that’s a great way to explain it. I say it’s a skin moisturizer for your shingles, essentially. That’s really what it is, in essence.
TOM: Well, before we talk about Roof Maxx, just sort of walk our audience through what happens in the summer to roofing products. Because I don’t think that everyone fully understands what’s going on at that level. I’ve been on those roofs when it’s 100 degrees out and you can see the moisture basically baking right out of it.
MIKE: Yeah. Asphalt shingles have petrochemical oil within the asphalt that allows that asphalt to remain flexible. A flexible roof is a strong roof. Also, it allows it to remain waterproof. So, as that heat builds up in the summer – not just from the direct UV but also the heat in your attic, baking the asphalt from the bottom side – those oils are evaporating, they’re drying out. And that roof is losing its ability to contract and expand.
LESLIE: I mean it’s like a convection oven. It’s like those roofing shingles are getting it from both sides all the time, constantly. So, of course, it’s drying out.
MIKE: Yeah, absolutely.
Our product, as we put it on, it soaks down into the shingle. And we’re replacing the lost petrochemical oil with a natural bio-oil – a 100-percent safe bio-oil.
So, think about in the summer when it’s 90 degrees and the sun’s out, that roof is 140, 150 degrees. The attic can be 130, 140 degrees. Thunderstorm hits, the roof cools down to 70 degrees instantly. The thunderstorm passes and the roof then goes back up to 140, 150 degrees. That’s called “thermal shock.” And so that’s when the roof starts to shed the coating. The UV protection for the shingle is called the “granule.” It’s a ceramic coating. That starts to shed off into the gutters and the roof slowly starts to break apart. The more oil that’s lost, the less ability it has to contract and expand.
So we want to replenish that roof with natural oil so that that roof can stay flexible, can contract and expand and help slow down that aging process and really reverse the aging process. If enough oil is out, we can reverse the aging process.
TOM: I’ve seen shingles that have gone through that. As a home inspector, walking those roofs, we often would find cracks in the shadow line. That’s the slot between the shingle tabs. And you could actually see where the shingle is starting to break in half, right through all that granule cover and actually separating it, sometimes into two pieces.
MIKE: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, you get thermal cracking.
LESLIE: So, Mike, is there sort of a sweet-spot time to treat with Roof Maxx? Or should you just start maybe 5 years into having the roof?
MIKE: In a perfect world, in a Southern market, you would do it right around the 5- to 7-year range. In a Northern market, 7- to 10-year range. And really, the key indicator is when the granule coating starts to shed off into the gutters and you’ll start to fill up the bottom of the gutter, where you can’t see the bottom pan of the gutter. If you put the product on too early and the shingles are still fully saturated with an oil, they’re properly contracting and expanding, then you really don’t get your money’s worth.
So, in a perfect world, that’s the timeframe. We have a lot of customers that will apply the product at the very – what they believe to be the end of its life. They’ve been told by some roofers that they need to replace the roof. They hear about Roof Maxx, we come out, assess the roof. If it does qualify – our dealers will look at the roof to see that it qualifies. And if it does – and the majority of the time, it does – we can treat that roof and bring it back to life. About 9 out of 10 roofs going to the landfill, we’re able to give a treatment and extend its life by 5 years.
TOM: And I think that inspection is so important. Because so many times, when it comes to roof leaks, they all start with a very small problem. And then that problem gets bigger and bigger. And when it gets big enough, that’s when you’re sort of alerted to it. But you’re usually alerted because you’ve got a leak at that point. But a lot of times, having those inspections done can identify those small problems and fix them before that happens.
MIKE: Yeah, absolutely. Part of our process, prior to treatment, is inspecting the roof, as I said, to make sure that the shingles can accept our product but also to look for minor issues. And we will do a tune-up – a maintenance tune-up – prior to treatment. And many times, it’s not even fixing a leak. It could be some exposed nails on the roofs, nail pops that back up and lift the shingles a little bit. Just general maintenance, caulking around the flashings: chimney flashings, skylights and so on.
TOM: The product is called Roof Maxx. The website is RoofMaxx.com. That’s R-o-o-f-M-a-x-x.com. Or you can get more information by calling Mike and his team at 855-ROOF-MAXX. The product is put on by dealers nationwide. They have treated over 50 million square feet of asphalt products with Roof Maxx. And man, I tell you what, that’s a lot of roofing you’ve kept out of the landfill as a result.
Mike, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
MIKE: Hey, appreciate you having me on.
LESLIE: Brian, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRIAN: I’ve got a problem with our septic system. And our septic system zigzags back and forth in the backyard. And then where the end of it is, there’s a sinkhole developing.
TOM: How old is this septic system? Has it ever been inspected or cleaned?
BRIAN: We’ve cleaned it twice. It’s just my wife and I. This thing, I noticed, started developing kind of right after we moved into the house. Our house is about 20 years old.
TOM: Because I wonder if – if you say this is towards the end of the distribution field, I wonder if the field is not absorbing water like it should – absorbing the effluent as it should. And most of it is sort of running towards the end of the pipe like it’s a long drain. And as a result, it’s causing erosion in that area.
I think that probably the first thing I would do is have a septic inspection done with an examination of the field to check the percolation of it. Because if it’s not percolating, if it’s not draining properly, you could be spilling a lot of effluent into the ground unknowingly without it having a chance to really soak properly back into the soil. I think what we’re hearing here is a potential failure of your septic field, more than a problem with a sinkhole. I suspect that this is erosion that you’re seeing.
BRIAN: OK. It’s not just a matter of dumping a bunch of dirt in there and covering that up.
TOM: No. That would fill it up again but I’m afraid it would probably wash out again. So, that’s kind of what I would lean to is having that field inspected and just getting a sense of – listen, you want to find out now. You don’t want this thing to fail at the least opportune time. And if you find out early, at least you can plan a replacement if you have to.
LESLIE: Well, remodeling your kitchen can easily add to the value of a home. But a total renovation can also cost you a bundle of cash. But you don’t always need a major renovation to spruce up that space. We’ve got 3 projects that you can get done – for well under 1,000 bucks – to get some of that same style, safety and convenience.
First of all, as many a clotheshorse will tell you, a great look is all about the accessories. And the same goes for an on-display room, like the kitchen. Think about changing out the knobs and poles on the cabinetry. It’s an easy, cost-effective way to liven things up.
Next, another focal point in the kitchen is the faucet. And with a wide range of faucet styles in the neighborhood of 200 bucks, you can easily amp up the style standard while also saving water. So make sure you look out for faucets with the EPA’s WaterSense seal. And they’re going to use a lot less water without giving up the features you love, like a built-in spray head.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about those cabinets. Replacing cabinets is one of the most expensive parts of doing a kitchen reno. But painting the cabinets, well, that is a really great alternate. And today, a painted solid-finish cabinet is actually even more popular than ever. It’s more popular than the wood-look stained cabinets.
Now, when you’re ready to paint, painting cabinets is a pretty similar project to painting just about everything else, with a couple of exceptions. First, you need to use a special type of primer. It’s called a “high-bond primer.” Basically, it sticks to smooth surfaces better than the kind of primer that you might use on a wall and it’s made by most paint manufacturers.
Now, after the primer goes on, I also strongly recommend that you use a solvent or oil-based semigloss paint. Even though cleanup is harder with solvent-based paints, it actually delivers a much harder finish, so it’s more durable. And that’s really important when you’re doing cabinets, because think about all the doors and drawers that are opening and closing and slamming shut. You want to make sure the paint doesn’t start to chip away.
But that’s really all there is to it. It’s really an easy project and your place will absolutely look fantastic when it’s done.
Leslie, you did painted cabinets not too long ago, right?
LESLIE: You know, we did. And it was really such a great option. Because I thought maybe I was going to renovate the house, expand the kitchen area. But I was really tired of the look – or was I going to sell? So, rather than doing a major kitchen overhaul, I went and had the cabinets painted. The guy came, took all the doors and drawer fronts and everything with him. And then I emptied everything out and sort of put it all aside. And then we went away for a few days and left the key with the painter, which was great because we came back to a completely transformed space.
And it’s amazing how just going from that reddish sort of oak and coming home to a beautiful, crisp, light-ish off-white was just brilliant. The room seems bigger, it seems happier. It’s like a whole new space. And it wasn’t a ton of money. And it’s definitely a DIY project, unless you just didn’t want to put in the time, which I did not.
Alright. Now we’re going to Mel in Arkansas who’s got a question about a shower.
What can we do for you today?
MEL: Well, we need to change a tub into a shower. And it is for a handicapped person that uses a shower chair. And everything that we are finding so far is a fiberglass-type stuff that is not rated for the person’s weight that’s going to have to be using it. And they use a shower chair. Any suggestions on how to stabilize it so that it’s not going to break through when the shower chair goes in it?
TOM: You’re looking at zero-threshold showers that basically are flush with the floor?
MEL: Not necessarily. It doesn’t have to be the zero-threshold but it needs to be a shower, not a tub.
TOM: Right. OK. So, when you put in a fiberglass shower pan, you’re right: sometimes there’s flex underneath of it. But there’s an easy trick of the trade to deal with that. And that is that you can mix up a concrete mix or a cement mix or mortar mix and basically, you put it underneath the pan while it’s wet and then you press the pan down into it. And what that does is that takes out all of the space between the pan itself and the floor. It provides a rock-solid base to that fiberglass shower stall. Does that make sense?
TOM: Alright, Mel? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Robin in New Jersey wrote in saying, “I live in an 8-year-old house that came with an upscale ceiling-fan light in the bedroom that operates via remote. It worked fine until a few days ago but now the light comes on by itself at weird times. The self-operating light scares and annoys me. Any ideas?”
First of all, I love that her name is Robin and the lights are flickering and she’s scared, because that’s a character in Stranger Things and the same thing happens to her. So, sorry. Let’s hope it’s not Vecna.
TOM: Life imitates what we’re seeing in the entertainment industry or is it the other way around?
Well, listen. Whenever you see lights that are flickering, that is a very bad sign because it usually means there’s a loose wire or short circuit somewhere. And even though it seems to happen all by itself, wind shifting of the walls is not unusual. We get a lot of movement in houses that’s so slight you don’t feel it but it could definitely cause an arc or a spark. I think you need some further investigation here because it’s potentially dangerous to have this kind of malfunction, because it could lead to a fire. If you see this sort of thing happening, it’s really important to turn to a pro, call an electrician, have it checked out.
And by the way, if you’re going to have a pro come in, ask about arc-fault circuit interrupters. These are special circuit breakers that will turn off if you ever got such a thing to happen again. They’re a little bit different than ground faults. They’re specifically designed to detect that arc, which is that same thing as the spark, and shut the circuit down before anything bad can happen.
LESLIE: Alright, Robin. I hope that helps you out. And let’s hope it’s not some spooky things going on from the Upside Down in your home.
TOM: Well, if you own a dishwasher, it’s tempting to throw just about everything but the kitchen sink into it. But there’s a chance your dishwasher might be doing more harm than good. To find out which kitchen items always deserve that white-glove treatment or at least the rubber-glove treatment, we’re going to turn to Leslie, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. It goes without saying that anything marked “hand-wash” should be hand-washed. But those aren’t the only items that should never make their way into your dishwasher.
Now, a seasoned, cast-iron skillet is generally a point of pride for any cook out there. But you can completely undo those years of seasoning with one cycle in the dishwasher. So always hand-wash cast iron but not with soap. You want to scrub it with cooking oil and salt instead and then wipe it dry with a paper or cloth towel to keep it from rusting.
And if you fill an insulated travel mug with coffee every morning, you need to also wash that by hand every night. Now, the force of water in your dishwasher can actually get between that mug’s outer and inner layers. And that can cause some odors and some mold and just make it downright yucky.
Also, think about your nonstick pans. Some of them are dishwasher-safe but others are going to lose their nonstick quality in extreme heat. So, either check with your pan’s manufacturer or just play it completely on the safe side all around. The minute or two that you spend hand-washing a nonstick pan really does beat a ruined pan and a ruined meal.
And finally, anything made of wood does not belong in the dishwasher. Not only because that wood is porous and that it’s going to absorb soap and other germs, but all of that heat and all of that water and everything that goes on in the dishwasher is eventually going to cause that spatula or whatever that’s wooden that you’re putting in there to crack and split.
So, sometimes, it really is just better to hand-wash, although I hear you guys. I love to put everything in the dishwasher. But not everything goes in there.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, shutting the refrigerator door and turning off the lights might save electricity. But did you know that your home’s real energy-wasters live in your laundry room? A standard clothes dryer can actually use more power than a refrigerator. We’ll give you some tips to help cut down those costs, on the very 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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