- Energy Efficiency: Fall is not too late to make your home energy-efficient and comfortable with these 3 easy steps.
- Insulation: New, easy to install, Thermafiber Fire & Sound Guard insulation but offers both sound resistance and fire protection.
- Portable Infrared Heaters: Need some extra warmth in your room? Portable infrared heaters can keep things cozy while turning down the furnace to save money.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Driveway Repairs: What’s the best way to repair cracks in a concrete driveway? George learns the products to use to fill the gaps and seal his driveway.
- Phone Lines: Donna is frustrated by phones that aren’t working when connected to the lines inside her home. We’ve got a suggestion on how to tell if the problem is her phones or the wiring.
- Plumbing: What is causing a basement drain to back up when the washer and upstairs sink are used? We’ll explain to Kevin about using a lift pump to send the water into the main waste line.
- Window Shutters: How can Lisa decide what color and style of shutters will look best on her house? Siding clips can be used to hold up the shutters temporarily without drilling holes before making a commitment.
- Foundation Cracks: Tom’s got cracks in his basement floor and water seeping through the wall seams. We advise how to seal the cracks with epoxy and improve the outside drainage to keep the walls dry.
- Backsplash Tiles: Putting up backsplash tiles is made easy with adhesive contact paper. We know the product that Audrey can use.
- Electrical: Bob is shocked when he realizes the electrician he hired installed wiring throughout his house that’s not connected and is now covered up behind walls. We confirm it’s the contractor’s responsibility to fix it.
- Brick Floor: A brick floor in an old farmhouse kitchen and dining room has layers of discolored wax that must be removed. Barb can try a wax stripping product before refinishing the floor and adding a new solvent-based wax polish.
- Door Swing: The light switch is awkwardly located behind the door in Scott’s bathroom. It will be easier for him to move the switch to the other side rather than flip the swing of the door.
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 are here for one thing and one thing only.
What’s that, Leslie?
LESLIE: Home improvement fun?
TOM: Yeah, that’s true. Home improvement fun. Home improvement, I think of it as home improvement adventure because, you know, you start your adventures with a good plan but it doesn’t always work out exactly like you thought it would. But that’s not always bad, either.
So if you are in the midst of a home improvement adventure of your own and you need some help, we could be your adventure guides, your coaches, your counselors, your therapists if that’s necessary. And sometimes it is. We would love to help you get your projects done. But help yourself first by reaching out to us with your home improvement questions. The number here: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, now that fall is well underway, you might be thinking it’s a bit late to start planning some ways to make your home more efficient and comfortable. But the Department of Energy says it’s not and recommends three simple steps to make a big difference and prep your house for the coming chilly season ahead. We’ll share those tips, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And fall is the perfect time to beef up your insulation. But if you’d also like your home to be more sound- and fire-resistant at the same time, there’s a new insulation product that offers all these benefits and more. We’re going to share those details just ahead.
TOM: And with the chilly weather setting in, do you have one room in your house that just never seems to get warm? Well, infrared space heating might be the solution. We’re going to tell you how to shop for a heater that can supplement your whole-home heat and reduce your overall utility expense.
LESLIE: Alright. But first, what are you guys working on? Tell us. We want to hear all about all of your autumn projects that are going on at your money pit. Are you getting ready for guests that are coming for the big holiday season now that we’re all really gathering? Maybe your home is just on display for the first time in a while or perhaps you’re getting the outside all buttoned up for that winter weather. Well, whatever it is, give us a call so we can lend a hand.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: George in Texas is on the line with a driveway question.
What can we do for you today?
GEORGE: Well, I was wondering about some – found big cracks in my concrete driveway. There anything to do with that?
TOM: So, are these new cracks, George? Or have they been there for a while?
GEORGE: Yeah, they’ve been there for a while. The concrete’s probably 40 years old.
TOM: OK. And how wide are the cracks? How far open are they?
GEORGE: Maybe a ½-inch.
TOM: Two things. Number one, you can repair these. And QUIKRETE makes a number of products that can help. But one thing that you want to do is, because the cracks are so wide, is you’re going to have to insert what’s called a “backer rod” in there first, which is like a very small foam tube. And you press that down until it’s about a ½-inch below the surface or maybe 3/8-inch below the surface. And then you can use a flowable urethane caulk on top of that. And the reason you’re putting the backer rod in there is so that you don’t lose a lot of the joint-sealing material down all the way down to the ground.
And once you do this and if you do it right, then that seal will expand and contract and it won’t crack again, OK? So you stuff the crack with the backer rod and then you repair it with a urethane sealant.
GEORGE: OK. What is it I’m putting first in the crack?
TOM: It’s called a “backer rod.” It’s like a foam tube.
GEORGE: Oh, OK.
TOM: It’s like a Styrofoam tube. And it comes in different diameters.
LESLIE: Just to fill the gap.
TOM: It’s just to fill the gap.
GEORGE: I see. OK. And then all those smaller ones just don’t do that? Put the second item in there?
TOM: And then you apply the flowable urethane, OK? And that ought to do it.
GEORGE: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Donna in Georgia is on the line and is having an issue with a phone line.
What’s going on?
DONNA: Oh, boy, am I ever. I’m hoping this won’t turn into more of my money pit.
We’re moved – we’ve moved recently into a new home. We have four phones. They all work; we’ve tested them at other people’s houses. Two of them work. One will ring, one won’t. They both have dial tones. The other two phones don’t work unless we pick up the main phone, the first two that work. If they work, then you can pick up the other one and talk. But if I hang this one up, the other ones are cut off.
We’ve talked to people. The phone company says their lines are fine. We know our phones work because they work at other people’s houses out of town. What the heck is going on? We’re afraid we’re going to have this huge in-wall rewiring problem.
TOM: So these phones – this is a traditional, copper-wired system that you’re using? They’re not …
DONNA: It’d be traditional copper-wired. The phone company, when they opened up the wall, plugs, they were all over the place. Some of them were never even connected. But of those that were connected, he said all phones should work either way they’re wired. But they had to flip the wiring to get the two that are working to work. But it’s traditional, in-the-wall copper wiring.
TOM: And these phones that you have, they’re older phones or they’re newer phones? Where do they come from?
DONNA: Yeah, they’re older phones. We’ve had them for years that worked just fine. And like I said, two of them are working and we brought the other two that weren’t working to our friends and they worked fine at her house, so it’s not the phone.
TOM: Yeah. What if you switched positions in the house with the phones? Does that change anything?
DONNA: We’ve put – we’ve tried all the phones in different locations in the house and it doesn’t change. The only time the others ones will work is if they’re plugged into just this – these two lines that work. The other lines, all of the phone plugs in the house don’t work for any of them.
TOM: Are these typical – are these handset phones or are they ones that hang on the wall?
DONNA: These are handset. Some of them you can hook on a wall if you want to but they’re regular handset.
TOM: So you know what I would do? Here’s what I would do. I would go out and I would buy four phones – four brand-new phones – because you can take them back, right? And I would plug four brand-new, decent-quality phones into these jacks and see what happens. If they all work, it’s the phones, OK? If they don’t work, it’s the wiring and you’ll know what you have to do.
DONNA: My biggest problem with the new phones is they’re all so digital and you have to go through layers of programming to do – identify my preprogrammed push buttons. Right now, I just have to push one button and I’ve got the name next to it. And I’m not real-tech savvy and I don’t like to have to go through a bunch of computer crap just to be able to find the buttons for the people. I don’t like the new phones. I’d really like to find some good, old-fashioned ones.
TOM: You know, I feel your pain in all the programming but I’m not telling you to get anything more complicated than a very, very basic phone. You can get – there’s a phone that was made popular by AT&T called a Trimline phone. It’s really common. The buttons are in the handset and you have the base, you plug it in with one wire. They’re about 10 bucks a piece on Amazon, I’m sure. Probably even have free shipping.
So I would pick up some very basic, reliable phones like that, plug them in and see what happens. Like I said, if the phones work, then you know it’s the wiring. If they don’t work or they work the same way that your older phones work, then you know where you’re at.
DONNA: Could it be split wires in the house where they took a single wire and split it or took two wires and connected them? I’ve heard possibilities like that, so that they’re operating as if on one line.
TOM: Yeah, it’s possible but here’s the thing: do you want to spend $250 to have an electrician trace all this down?
LESLIE: Figuring it out.
TOM: Or do you want to spend 40 bucks on four basic phones? And then when the basic phones work the same as the old phones, you can call the phone company back and say, “Hey, you fix it,” and be done with it.
So, yeah, it could be all those things but I think you’re wasting a lot of energy trying to figure out or diagnose this when there’s a really simple solution. Get some different phones, plug them in, see what happens. And then you’ll know what to do.
DONNA: I’ll try to find those online. That’s a good idea because we can’t find them in any of the big stores.
DONNA: They’re all (inaudible).
TOM: They’re on Amazon. I mean you can buy them on Amazon.
DONNA: Yeah. OK.
TOM: If you have Amazon Prime, the shipping’s free, OK?
DONNA: Yeah, we’ll try that. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright, look for the Trimline. You’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s called Trimline Corded Phone.
DONNA: I will. I wrote it down.
TOM: Alright. Thank you. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
I guess it’s a good thing she actually was able to call us.
LESLIE: Right. I’m like, “How did she call us then?”
LESLIE: Kevin in North Dakota is on the line.
How can we help you?
KEVIN: Yes, I have a problem in the basement. I had some people come out. I had a drain in the basement that backs up. It comes from the sink in the laundry. And they found clay when they went into the line. And they said that I have to bust up the tile and the concrete and then get to that pipe. Is that the only option?
TOM: The drain that you’re trying to get to is for the laundry and the sink? What actually is draining into that pipe?
KEVIN: Both the laundry – the washer and the upstairs sink.
TOM: OK. Where does the rest of the waste from the house plumbing system drain out? In particular, is there another drainpipe there, even if it’s up higher?
TOM: So, another solution might be what’s called a “lift pump.” And this is – it can look like a small bucket or it can be actually installed in the floor. But it’s a bucket that – or bucket. It’s like a circular container, about the size of a large bucket, like about the size of a 5-gallon bucket that – inside of which it’s all sealed. The water drains there and then it’s float-activated, just like the float in a toilet, right? And once it gets filled to a certain level, this float comes on and it takes the water and it pumps it up, against gravity, high enough so that it can – gravity then feeds into the main drainpipe.
That’s a better option, because it sounds to me like this pipe, that’s going out underground and getting clogged through the clay, is probably a gray-water line that’s discharging somewhere but it may not be the main waste line. So if you were to use a lift pump in – as an alternative, you would – you’d be able to completely eliminate that run, both the laundry, the washer and that sink from upstairs into the same lift pump and then just drain it to the main waste vent. And you’ll have a lot less maintenance to deal with over the years.
KEVIN: That’d be great. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, now that fall is underway, you might be thinking it’s a bit late to start thinking about making your home more efficient and comfortable. But the Department of Energy says it’s not too late and recommends three simple steps that’ll make a big difference and prepare your house for the coming season ahead.
TOM: Now, first up, think about getting a home energy assessment. This will show you if your home is losing energy. It looks at windows, it looks at insulation and leaks, because these can all lead to losing cool air in the summer and hot air in the winter.
Now, a home energy assessment, it’s done by a pro. It’s generally somebody who goes into great detail to assess your home’s energy use. The assessor is going to do a room-by-room examination of the house, as well as an examination of past utility bills. And the cool thing is when they’re done, they can give you very specific recommendations for improvements that – and this is important – give you the quickest return on investment. So you’re not guessing as to which projects you should tackle.
If you add insulation, you’ll get a return on investment at this point in time, windows, doors and so on. So it’s really good information to have.
LESLIE: Next, you want to try and find and seal all of those air leaks, because dealing with these now is going to mean that you don’t have to deal with them when those cold drafts are actually coming in full force in the winter months. So, check door-and-window frames. You want to check the outlets and switches on exterior walls. And even check for gaps around pipes and wires, foundation seals, mail slots.
All of these spaces contribute to the drafts that will make you feel uncomfortable in the winter. And sealing them now really is a simple, easy DIY project. So definitely something worth tackling.
TOM: Now, last, be sure to service your heating system to make sure it’s not only efficient but safe for the deep freeze ahead. It’s got to be done every fall. So if yours is not done, do it now.
LESLIE: Lisa in Michigan is on the line with a window question.
What’s going on at your money pit?
LISA: So what I wanted to do is I wanted to put shutters on the house but I’m not sure which color or which style.
LISA: But the only way to fasten the shutters is to drill into the siding.
TOM: Oh, interesting. OK.
LISA: So I don’t really want to do that because if it doesn’t work out, then I have holes in my siding.
TOM: Get a hole in your siding, yeah. That’s a good question. Hmm. Got to get creative on this.
Well, let’s – let me ask you this: if you put the shutters up, are they all going to be about the same size?
TOM: Well, then, I don’t think it really matters, because the – you could make sure that the drill pattern is the same no matter what style shutter you put up.
LISA: But I may find out that shutters don’t work at all.
LESLIE: Now, Lisa, do you have any friends who are good at Photoshop?
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LISA: OK. I just didn’t know if there were any fasteners that locked into the …
TOM: To the siding? You know, there is a – there are types of fasteners that are designed to snap into vinyl siding without causing damage. And they’re often used by electricians or cable-TV installers. And they’re actually called “siding clips.” And basically, they’re designed to kind of hold a wire. And they clip under the siding so you don’t have to actually pierce the siding. You may be able to find those and install some of those clips and then try to figure out a way to hang the shutter to the clip, at least temporarily, so you can have an idea as to whether or not it looks good and you’re happy with it before making that commitment.
So, look for those vinyl-siding hanging – “sliding clips,” they’re called. And maybe that will get you where you want to go. Or as Leslie said, “Best bet: learn Photoshop.”
LESLIE: Tom in Ohio is on the line and has a question about a basement.
What’s going on at your money pit?
TOM IN OHIO: I have a basement with some cracking issues. The house was built in 2000 and the floor is cracking in numerous places. They’re not wide cracks. Some of them, they’re – none of them are greater than a quarter. They’re usually about an eighth. And I’ve also got a poured basement wall and I’ve got a couple of seams that when it rains really hard, I’ve got a little bit of water seepage. Nothing puddling on the floor, per se, but just on two spots in the whole entire basement.
And I’m just wondering if that’s – these new epoxies where you can inject it into these walls for the leaks, if those things are something that would work for my situation. And as far as the cracks in the basement, I don’t think they’re structural but it’s settling, I think. But anyway, I’m just wondering if you guys have any kind of suggestions on that.
TOM: Absolutely. We can fix both of those issues for you.
So, first of all, let’s talk about the basement floor. The basement floor, you mentioned it may be settlement. It might just be a poor installation if it wasn’t reinforced, if the concrete wasn’t mixed right. There’s all sorts of reasons it could get cracking. But the floor itself is not structural, so that’s really just to be a separator between you and the soil below. So, for those cracks, you certainly could seal them with an epoxy crack sealant that you can find in any home center. QUIKRETE makes a bunch of products for that that will work well.
In terms of the basement leakage, the leakage through the wall, the fact that this is happening when you have a bad rainstorm is indicative of the cause. The cause of this is a drainage situation right outside those walls. So, it’s going to be one of two things or it could be both of these things, one of which is if your gutters are overflowing, if they’re insufficient and not handling – you don’t have enough leaders to handle the runoff or if the leaders, the spouts are not discharging far enough away from the wall.
Anything that collects water or keeps water close to the foundation allows it to build up in that first 4- to 6-foot area between the house and the yard. That’s going to lead to a leak in your walls. It could even push down around the walls and show up coming up through the floors. It is not caused by a water table; it’s simply a drainage issue caused by this heavy rain.
So, to that, you want to look at those areas. Look for the gutters that are overflowing, look for the downspouts that are not extended. You want them to be at least 4 to 6 feet out from the house. And those two things will solve that. Gutters and grading, leading cause of almost all wet-basement problems. A lot of folks blame rising water tables and things like this and look towards expensive solutions like sump pumps. Virtually never needed. You just need to fix the gutters and the grading.
And then if you want to seal the cracks as a last step, that’s fine. But remember, Tom, it’s the last step; it’s not the first step. You can’t seal every crack in the wall and expect to hold back the tide. You’ve got to stop the water from getting there by fixing up the drainage first, OK? Does that make sense?
TOM IN OHIO: Yeah, that makes sense. Thank you. I appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Audrey in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
AUDREY: Right. I was listening to your show last weekend and I heard you talking about some kind of contact paper but you put it on your kitchen wall and you can put tile on it for a backsplash.
TOM: Yeah. That’s a product called Bondera Tile Mat Set. Kind of a long name but basically, it’s a two-sided adhesive sticky material that if you want to do a backsplash or for that matter, a countertop, you pull off the backing on one side of it, press it against the wall – in your case, for the backsplash. Then you can stick the tiles right to the other side of it, pull off the backing on the other side and you stick the tiles right on. And then you can pretty much grout immediately thereafter, so you don’t have to wait for glue to dry or even mix up glue or get a tile glue that can kind of get all over the place. It’s all on the mat. So you cut it to fit, put it on the wall, pull off the back and then go ahead and glue the tile right to it.
I would caution you, though, that I would not recommend you put this right on drywall because it’s going to be a permanent. You’re never going to get it off. And if you ever want to replace it, you’d have to cut the wall out because it’ll just pull the paper right off.
What you could do is just put a thin sheet of luan plywood on the wall first and then put the tile right on that.
AUDREY: OK. Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, as many in this audience have heard me say before, I live in an old house. I mean a very old house. And because it’s old, it was never very well-insulated. Now, we’ve changed most of that over the years except for the floor. And for that, I turned to a new product from Owens Corning. It’s called Thermafiber Fire & Sound Guard Plus.
Now, here’s why: this new product has several very unique qualities, which made it a great choice for really any insulation project. First, it is a very good insulator. It’s made our home a lot more comfortable. But aside from that – and as the name implies – Thermafiber Fire & Sound Guard Plus helps protect our home from fire and it helps soundproof the floors, the walls or the ceiling wherever it’s installed.
LESLIE: Now, the other thing that we like about this is that it’s easy to cut and then fit around pipes and wiring. It’s flexible, so really all you need to do is just squeeze and then insert those batts. And they’ll naturally expand to fill that space for a secure, custom fit.
It’s really a good choice for residential and light-commercial interior and external walls, ceilings, basements, crawlspaces. And it will even help control moisture and prevent mold.
TOM: Thermafiber Fire & Sound Guard Plus is available at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Or you can visit OwensCorning.com to learn more.
LESLIE: Bob in Rhode Island is on the line and is having some mystery electrical issues at their house.
What’s going on?
BOB: I gutted the whole house out and I rewired – I had an electrician come in and rewire the whole house. And he finished up and I’m putting the plug covers on and I plug something in and I – it didn’t work. So I plugged another plug in; it didn’t work. I went to another one; didn’t work.
So I called him back. He comes over and he says, “There must be a plug buried somewhere. There’s got to be an outlet buried underneath the new plaster.” My question is: how can I find it?
TOM: So, this guy did all this wiring work and he missed the fact that he put in a whole bunch of outlets that had no power?
BOB: Yeah. Can you imagine? He didn’t test the power when he was done?
TOM: No. It’s ridiculous. This is ridiculous. This guy did not do his job and he should be able to track this down for you.
BOB: Oh, yeah. He wanted – he started tracking but he wanted to be paid for tracking it.
TOM: So, he wanted to be paid for missing it.
LESLIE: “Give me more for my mistake.”
BOB: Yeah, he wanted more money.
TOM: And you paid him for the rest of the work already.
BOB: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I paid him for everything.
TOM: No. Well, it’s not right. It’s going to be difficult for you to track this down without specialized tools, I’ll tell you that. It’s kind of a matter of just taking each circuit and starting at the panel and then following the wires up to see where they go and trying to figure out where the disconnect is.
BOB: Yeah. I think it’s a little more complicated than that. Because as I looked, when he was explaining to me how he wired, I think it’s pretty odd he wired a key, come up with the live and he went from one box and then went left and then also went right from the same power source. I mean that’s kind of weird. Even being an amateur, I wouldn’t do that.
TOM: Yeah. You might want to try tracking it from the sockets back. You may have better luck trying to figure out where the disconnect is. It sounds like he didn’t hook something up, though. If he rewired these outlets and didn’t figure out that they weren’t hot to begin with, that’s a real problem.
BOB: Oh, no. He didn’t – no, he didn’t rewire. We rewired the whole house. We did – I took out all the wire in the house.
TOM: You took all the wire in the house out.
BOB: Oh, yeah. He started from scratch here. It’s all brand-new wire.
TOM: Well, how is it possible he missed this? That’s what I’m not getting.
BOB: Neither am I.
TOM: So, when he went in to do the wiring, were the walls open? Did you pull the drywall out or what was the case?
BOB: Oh, yeah, yeah. Gutted it. I totally, totally ripped everything up. Picture, just imagine an old house without any wood or plaster.
TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Wow. So this guy goes in, he wires the whole house, you put the drywall in, he comes back in to hook everything up and he’s got a bunch of outlets that have no power. This is his problem, OK?
LESLIE: Yeah. You shouldn’t be paying twice.
TOM: So, this is his problem. You shouldn’t be paying him twice. He screwed this up and he needs to come back and fix it or you’re going to have to sue him or file a complaint against his license.
LESLIE: Or all of the above.
TOM: This is his problem. This guy is incompetent and you shouldn’t be paying him to fix his blunders. You paid him to wire the whole house. He obviously blew it.
LESLIE: And an electrician is the last one you want doing shortcuts and not great work.
BOB: Yeah, exactly. I was shocked when he expected to be paid for the day he spent troubleshooting it.
TOM: Yeah. And he spent a day troubleshooting and he still hasn’t figured it out?
BOB: Correct. He wanted – he asked you – he had his hand out. I was like, “What? Are you kidding me? I’ve got to pay you for not doing it right?”
TOM: Yeah, exactly. I think that’s your option.
Now, if you don’t want him to come back, then the other thing you could do is hire a different electrician. But then you’re going to have to go after him for the cost.
BOB: Right. Yeah.
TOM: Alright? Well, I’m sorry that happened to you but that’s where you’re at, OK?
BOB: Alright. Thank you.
LESLIE: Barbara in Ohio is on the line and is dealing with something that’s on the floor.
Is it something we need to get up? What is it?
BARBARA: Well, I have a brick floor in my kitchen and dining room.
TOM: That’s unusual.
BARBARA: Well, I kind of like it. It was a farmhouse and when we moved in, it had, I would say, 10 layers of wax on it. So, I’ve slowly tried to get it off. I’ve used ammonia, let it soak, scrubbed it. I’ve got about half of it done now but everyone is telling me replace it and I don’t really want to because it kind of adds to the structure of the house and that kind of thing.
But my question is – I’ve got some of it cleared of the wax. I’m using ammonia. I don’t know if there’s another product that I can get to – because it really is a lot of wax. I don’t want to have particles in the seal, so I have to scrub the floor again, get it all clean. How long do I have to leave it dry before I reseal it? Because I don’t want it to have wet bubbles in it. I just don’t know what I’m doing, I guess.
TOM: Well, we feel your pain. You probably should be using a wax-removing product or a wax-stripping product, as opposed to the bleach and the ammonia, which just sounds like an awful mess. And that’s going to do what it can do.
And there’s actually a good article online about brick floors and how to pull the wax off of them. But brick is very, very porous.
TOM: And because it’s very porous, when you do wash it, if you let it dry for a few days I don’t think you’re going to have any issues with it forcing a new finish to kind of release.
BARBARA: Well, see, the whole thing is I have to move everything out of my kitchen and dining room. So I was – I didn’t know if I had to wait a day, 2 days. So you’re suggesting 3 days then.
TOM: Yeah, I would definitely wait a couple of days. You can still use the floor while that time is going on. You don’t have to move it all out. But I would definitely wait 2 or 3 days before I put my next layer of finish on it.
BARBARA: What do you recommend as a finish?
TOM: I probably would try to keep it as natural as possible. If you use a solvent-based wax, that is another option. Because if you did that, you wouldn’t have to strip the floor. The solvent-based polish can actually be applied over an old wax, because it’ll sort of give it good adhesion; it’ll stick to it. So, you’re probably going to end up with a new wax finish. So, if that’s the case, you may not need to move as much of that old as you thought you did, if the new wax is solvent-based.
BARBARA: It looks like it’s black.
TOM: I bet.
BARBARA: They put this on and never cleaned it.
TOM: No matter what you do, this floor is going to be a lot of work, OK?
LESLIE: Oh, truly.
TOM: Because it’s a brick floor, it’s just going to use a lot of work.
LESLIE: And if you don’t get the old wax off, the new one you put on is going to lock in that color.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. That’s another good point.
BARBARA: Yeah, I think I need to take it off. I’ve got about half of it done. I just thought – when I was listening to your show, I thought, “Well, maybe they might have a better idea.” Because you’re right: it is a lot of work.
TOM: Nothing that hard work won’t fix.
BARBARA: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Well, if you haven’t already, pretty soon you’ll be turning up that thermostat to get warm. But did you know that every 2 degrees you lower your thermostat in the winter could save you 10 percent off of your energy bills? So to supplement heat in the rooms that you’re using more often, you might want to consider a portable heater.
TOM: Now, I am totally loving this because I have one room in my house that’s always cold and can benefit from this product. It’s an electronic, infrared zone heater.
Now, this type of heater is a supplemental heater. It uses infrared heating to warm any area of your home. And you can turn down the furnace and stay warm and save money, because you’re only heating the space that you’re in.
LESLIE: Now, if you’re thinking about picking one of these up, you need to understand how these infrared heaters work. Basically, an infrared heater heats the object in a defined space and not the air, like central-heating systems would.
Now, it’s like the difference between being directly in the sunlight versus sitting in the shade. We feel warm in the sun because the light is hitting our clothes and our skin and it keeps us warm.
TOM: So with that in mind, make sure you’re choosing right-size heater for your space. Now, portable, infrared heaters come in models that can handle about 300 square feet up to a thousand square feet. And a lot of models have a programmable thermostat to start the heater just before you get home. And your favorite chair, this way, will be nice and warm for you to plop into.
So buy one that’s just big enough but don’t go too big or you’ll definitely be wasting energy.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Scott on the line who needs some help rearranging a door swing.
What’s going on?
SCOTT: We just bought a new place and in our downstairs bathroom, the door now swings into the left. But the problem is the light switch is then behind the door.
TOM: Oh, yeah. So you’ve got to walk in the bathroom, close the door in the dark, fumble for the light switch and turn it on.
SCOTT: Yes, that’s pretty much it. So I’m just curious if there’s a way to switch the handing of the door without replacing the whole casing and everything.
TOM: Not easily. It’s probably easier to run a new light switch on the other side than it is to change out the door. Because the hole is drilled where the hole is drilled. And if you were to change the hand, you’d basically have to put a new hole on the other side, I would think.
TOM: Yeah, doors don’t flip right and left too easily unless you’re talking about the door in your washing machine that’s designed to do that, you know. An interior door doesn’t turn very easily, so I would suggest you just run a new switch on the other side. And you could just put a blank-out plate across the one that’s there now because, frankly, nobody’s going to see it.
SCOTT: Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’ve got Frank in New Jersey writing in about some tricky wallpaper that really just doesn’t want to stay on the walls. Listen to what he says. Frank writes: “I have textured wallpaper with seams that are separating. I have tried every glue and seam-repair product out there. I can’t find anything to fix those seams and I can’t remove the paper without damaging the walls. Can you help?”
TOM: I think his paper is talking to him saying it’s got to go. “Time to go.”
But he makes a good point when he started to take this off and it’s sticking to the walls. You really don’t have a lot of options here.
LESLIE: No. I mean you’re kind of stuck. I would have recommended wallpaper-seam repair, using wallpaper paste, using a paper glue meant for wallpaper just to fix those seams. But they don’t seem to be working.
So, I think, Frank, sadly – especially because your paper is textured – it’s going to have to come down. And that is going to require some work and then it’s going to require some repair work on the back side.
So, generally, you’re going to start with something called a “paper tiger” and that’s just sort of perforating the front layer of the wallpaper so that when you use a wallpaper steamer, it can saturate through and get to the adhesive layer. And then that’ll help you peel it off.
So, there’s lots of ways to do that. It’s going to take a lot of work. Then you’re going to have to sort of prep that wall surface with a primer, let that sit and then go for a low-sheen paint to hide any of those things. Or you can re-wallpaper.
TOM: Well, when temperatures drop, rodents – we’re talking mice, rats and those kinds of creatures – are going to make their way into your home for relief from the chill. Because they go inside, too, in the winter, guys.
But not to fear. Leslie has some tips to keep them from doing just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s not easy as putting up a no-vacancy sign but you can make changes that will keep those mice and critters from moving in and then hopefully staying away from your house and finding a new place to go.
So you need to know this – and it’s totally crazy – mice can squeeze through spaces that are smaller than a nickel. So you’ve got to seal any potential entrances to your home with sheet metal, steel wool or cement. If you go with expandable foam, they’re just going to gnaw right through it. So if you take that route, you can add some steel wool to the mix, which’ll make it so that they can’t chew through it.
Now, your dog and your cat, they’re not the only animal that comes running at the smell of their pet food. Whether it’s wet or dry, the rodents love that scent, too. So they’re going to chew through heavy-duty food bags, plastic bins – the thin ones – all of it. They’re going to try to get in there to eat that food. So you should keep your pet’s dry food in sealed metal canisters and then rinse out the food bowls before you head to bed every night.
And you also want to make sure you give your kitchen counters and tables a nice wipe-down each evening. You want to make sure that those discarded crumbs are not making a nice, lovely meal for an animal who’s like, “I’m going to come in and get all those tasty crumbles.”
And while it doesn’t seem to help their IQ, critters love newspapers and magazines as much as we do. So get rid of those stacks of paper and cardboard that mice and rodents can turn into nesting sites.
If you’re looking for some more ways to keep your house critter-free, head to MoneyPit.com where we have solutions for all areas of your home, inside and out.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, few things are better to find in an upscale kitchen like a commercial range. So we’re going to share some tips on how to choose a pro-style range to boost your cooking powers and your resale value, 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.
(Copyright 2022 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.)