- Buying a house in 2022? We’ve got 4 key questions you might want to ask the home seller before you move in.
- Kitchen floors can take a real beating, especially over the holidays. If your floors are ready for a refresh, we’ll share tips on the best kitchen flooring for this hardworking space.
- Undecking the halls is never fun, but you might be making it tougher than it has to be. Get hacks for taking down and storing holiday decorations quickly and easily.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Kathy in Indiana noticed that snow melts on her roof quicker in some areas more than others. She wonders if her heat pump is the cause? Its not, but she’s close! We explain why.
- Cheryl in Texas has plywood countertops and wants an affordable temporary option to replace it.
- Jim from Louisiana is concerned a loose brick wall in his garage and wants to know how to determine if it’s a structural problem.
- Laurie in Texas needs help matching the sheen of paint originally used on her cabinets.
- Ken from Michigan wants to know how to clean his water softener.
- Kris in Pennsylvania needs advice on fixing a small copper pipe leak leading to her radiator.
- Stuart from Rhode Island wants to know the best way to fix deteriorating concrete on the steps of his home.
- Barbara in Texas needs to repair a brick and mortar patio for her home and wants to know how to match the old mortar color with the new, and if this is a DIY project.
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: Here with our first show of the brand-new year. And we’ve got a lot of folks that are planning projects in ‘22. People have been investing in their homes at an incredible rate. I mean with COVID here, we’re spending more time at home, we’re seeing our home’s strengths and weaknesses, we’re picking on projects to do. If they’re simple projects like décor or they’re major projects like additions, we are here to help you figure out how to get that stuff done.
Whether it’s a house, whether it’s an apartment, whether it’s a yurt, we don’t care. We love to help you work on home sweet home. If you’ve got questions, you can reach us by posting your questions to MoneyPit.com or calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, buying a house can be a pretty overwhelming experience. But if that’s in your plan for 2022, we’ve got four key questions you might want to ask the home seller before you move in.
LESLIE: And if you’ve slugged through another holiday with a kitchen that needs an update, new kitchen floors could be on your to-do list. We’re going to have some tips on how to choose the best flooring for your hardest working space in the house.
TOM: And un-decking the halls is never fun but you might be making it tougher than it has to be. We’re going to give you some hacks for taking down holiday decorations quickly and easily.
LESLIE: Yeah. Just don’t – leave them up for a while longer.
TOM: Yeah. A project that Leslie tackles in March.
LESLIE: I just love everything. It’s so sparkly and I don’t want to take it down.
But guys, you know what? Most importantly, we’re here for you, not my ridiculous love of holiday décor. We’re here to help you whatever you’re working on, whatever questions you have like, “How can I leave my holiday decorations up longer?”
Whatever it is, guys, seriously, whatever you’re working on, whatever you’re planning to tackle in the new year, let us help you do all of those projects and get them done right.
TOM: And if you need even more motivation to reach out to us at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’re giving away a Green Machine 62-volt, 25-inch hedge trimmer to one lucky listener. You’ve got to have a home improvement question to qualify. But if you call us or you post your questions to MoneyPit.com, we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat. And we are giving away this fun tool, which will come in handy come spring, to one lucky listener. So make that you. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, let’s get to it. Who’s first?
LESLIE: Kathy in Indiana is on the line and is dealing with a bald spot on her roof when it’s snowy out. And we’ve been getting a lot of snow this winter, so your house must look like it’s in need of a toupée.
What’s going on, Kathy?
KATHY: Hi. Yes, we just moved down here from Wisconsin, down to Indiana. We bought this house and we’ve been doing a lot of work on it. And when we got our first snow, I noticed, on the back part, there is a – like a foot-and-a-half-inch diameter bald spot every time we get a snowfall. And we had a friend – a contractor – come down. He went up in the attic and he’s like, “There is nothing going on here.” So the only thing we thought, well, maybe is going on is we have a heat pump and we also have our dryer vent in that same area back there.
And so now I had two different suggestions. He said to put a soffit venting on that whole area to get more air going up through there and possibly maybe it’s coming from the heat pump. But then I went to The Home Depot and I was talking to the guy there that seemed to know quite a bit. And he said – and what he would do is take it and remove all the vented area – vented soffit in that area. And so if there is heat coming up – he said, “But this shouldn’t happen.” He said, “This is what people do. They put their heat pumps outside.” And he’d never heard of anything like this before.
So we ended up doing that and so we don’t know yet if that actually helped it or not but …
TOM: Yeah, it’s not hurting the roof not having snow on that one spot. If you want to know why it’s happening, it’s because that spot is warmer than the other spots around it. Now, why is it warmer? Well, you mentioned there is a dryer-exhaust duct near there. If the dryer-exhaust duct is not completely sealed, if it’s dumping warm air in there, that’s going to heat up that spot over the roof and then any snow that hits there is going to melt and roll down. If the insulation has some gap in it of some sort in there where more room air can get up and heat that area right above it, that could cause it, as well.
But I would not tell you to start messing with your venting and everything else just because you’ve got a foot-and-a-half spot that doesn’t – where snow doesn’t stick. It’s curious but it’s not a major problem and I wouldn’t recommend major work for it.
KATHY: OK. So it’s – we don’t have to be concerned that there is heat getting up there and it’s going to cause mold and issues going on?
TOM: Well, I mean I would try – I would determine if there’s an obvious source of warmth that’s getting into that spot. But actually adding heat to that area is not necessarily going to cause mold. You’ll get more mold in the less heated spaces, frankly. Because when you warm moist – when you warm air, it uses more moisture, essentially. That’s why the warm air holds more moisture, so that’s not really a concern. It’s just kind of a curious thing.
And if you’ve got a dryer vent that’s right near there, I’d start with that because that would make perfect sense. If the dryer vent is losing some of its air right in that space, that’s not a good idea, either, because you don’t want to be dumping any lint into the attic. That could be dangerous, OK?
KATHY: OK. Well, very good. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Kathy.
LESLIE: Now, we’re heading to North Dakota and this really is an interesting question. We’ve got Roland on the line who wants to build a monument.
What’s this for exactly? What’s going on? How can we help?
ROLAND: Yeah, I’m in the process of building a monument for my land that I would like to stay for, well, many, many years in the future. How do I get a monument that’s not going to sink into the ground or be buried by dust and dirt over the future years? And I’m talking lots and lots of years, you know. Hundreds of years.
TOM: Well, look. South Dakota has Mount Rushmore. Roland is going to have his own monument, right?
LESLIE: I guess. This is very exciting.
TOM: I would say that this is the same thing that you would do if you were building a building, Roland. You need to have a footing that goes down to the frost line, a good 3 feet. It’s got to be wide enough to support whatever structure you envision that you’re building.
And I would say that if you’re going to make this out of concrete, I would keep in mind – don’t have any flat surfaces where water is going to accumulate. Because I’m imagining you’re not going to want to do a lot of maintenance to this thing and you want it to last. So, if you make sure that everything is designed to slope so water doesn’t sit on it, then you’re not going to have deterioration where the water soaks in and freezes in your harsh environment there, then chips away at the concrete. So I would think in terms of how to make sure we have good drainage around this. That’s the best thing you can do to preserve its stability and its wearability in that really rough weather.
So, good luck with the project and send us some pictures when you’re done. We can’t wait to see it.
LESLIE: And I hope we get free admission to view the monument.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. We’re on the build team. We should.
LESLIE: We’re consultants.
TOM: Might be winter right now but the spring will be here soon enough. And when that happens, you might be interested in a great product we’re giving away on today’s show. It’s the Green Machine 62-Volt 25-Inch Hedge Trimmer. It’s worth 169 bucks and it is perfect for all the trimming projects you’ll need to do when the weather turns warm.
LESLIE: That’s right. And it’s going to allow you to work around your yard for 2 hours on a fully-charged battery.
It’s a great prize. For you, it costs nothing. For everybody else out there, it’s $169 and you should check out that Green Machine. But give us a call, post a question, however you like to reach out to us for your chance to win.
TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cheryl in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you?
CHERYL: I have some countertops that are plywood. I just purchased a house recently and I’m planning to do a total remodel in about a year. But right now, the countertops are plywood. And so I wanted an idea to put on the countertops so that I don’t have water damage to the plywood and – plus something that looks nice. And I was wondering if you might have an idea.
LESLIE: Well, there’s a lot of different options, of course, at a variety of price points. And if you’re looking for something that’s just going to be temporary but still stylish and functional, probably your quickest and most DIY and affordable option could be tile.
Now, that’s going to be something that you could easily do on your own. And there’s a lot of different choices to keep you within a variety of price points. And that, generally, can look really, really great. The other options are laminate countertops, which you can get precut at the local home center. And that just depends on how much of a run you need and how much actual cutting to fit to size that you have to get.
But those are probably going to be your two most affordable. I think with tile, it really gives you an opportunity to make it really stylish and your own and something that you can feel proud of doing yourself and lasts you through the long haul, until you’re ready to do a major remodel.
CHERYL: OK. And what do you usually adhere the tile with? I’m not really much of a DIY person but I’m sure – I think I could do it. But I was just kind of curious, with the water, what adheres that tile and keeps that countertop protected?
TOM: So there’s two options. There’s tile mastic, which is sort of like a glue that you trowel onto the plywood and you stick the tiles onto that. And then there’s a tile mat that’s like a two-sided adhesive mat that you glue that down to the wood surface, in your case, and you peel off a backing and you can stick the tiles right on top of that. So there’s a couple of ways to do that. If you can find the mat, what’s interesting about that is you can grout right away. If you use the mastic, you’ve got to let it dry overnight and then you can grout.
CHERYL: OK. I like those ideas. OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’re planning to buy a house in 2022, it can be a pretty overwhelming experience. But it’s one that can be made a bit easier if you get four key questions answered by the home seller before you move in.
LESLIE: Yeah. One of the questions you should talk to them about is: “What home improvement project do you wish that you had done?” Considering that the seller knows this home and the layout better than you, because they’ve been in there for a while, they may offer some insights that you might not have even considered. Regardless, they’re going to be able to indicate what needs to be improved so that you don’t have to waste your time figuring it out for yourself.
TOM: Yeah. The next question you might want to ask is: “How much did you spend on utilities?” Estimating the gas, the electric and the water costs can help you budget your monthly home costs. It can also help you prioritize home improvement projects.
Now, in some states, the utility companies will give this to you as it’s considered public information. But in others, they might give you limited information or none at all. So, you can them for this. If you can see some bills, it’ll give you an idea of what you’re up against.
LESLIE: Yeah, especially if the home is a significantly different size than the home you’re coming from or an apartment. You really have no idea what that expense is going to be.
The next thing is to ask: “Do you have the manuals for the appliances? Are there any warranties that are still open for coverage?” Now, most homeowners don’t think about this until after they’ve settled and it’s too late to reach out to that previous owner. So asking the seller or your agent about any extended warranties, protection programs associated with certain appliances – like the stove or the refrigerator, the dishwasher, washer/dryer – all of it can be super helpful.
It’s funny. I keep everything in some manilla folder shoved away in the laundry room in the event that I ever move. But sometimes, you have to reach out. I had to adjust the temperature on the water heater and I knew exactly where to go and what to do without making sure I didn’t mess anything up.
TOM: Now, one final question – and it’s an important question, because you would never know to look for this particular thing until it’s too late and you’re smack dab in the middle of a major emergency. And that is: “Where are the shutoff valves for the water and the gas?” Knowing how to shut off the water or gas line quickly can reduce the potential for major damage if there was ever a leak. And unfortunately, many homeowners don’t even think about this until they’re smack dab in the middle of the emergency. So, take the time to figure it out. I always recommend you put a big label – especially on a water valve, because there’s so many valves – that just says, “Main,” so you know that it’s there.
And by the way, try to turn it off now because sometimes they get stuck. And a stuck valve is as good as no valve. If it is stuck, at least you have to have a chance to fix it without the house filling up with water. So, take the time to do it now and you’ll be ready if you ever have an emergency.
LESLIE: Jim in Louisiana, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on with your foundation?
JIM: The question is how to secure or repair a loosened wall of about 15 feet of brick on the backside of my garage that, when I just leaned up against it, even though my home’s 13 years old, it moved. Apparently, it’s not attached to the studs or the exterior of that garage wall. Moves slightly and I see a vertical, nearly perfectly vertical crack at the top 6 foot of that brick wall.
LESLIE: It seems like brick walls really were not meant to move.
TOM: Yeah, right?
LESLIE: They are meant to stay put.
TOM: Yeah. Any time your brick wall moves, it’s a problem.
So the way this could happen, Leslie, is when you build a brick wall as a layer to an exterior of a building, you use a clip that attaches to the house. And then the bricks – the clip actually goes into one of the mortar seams on every several rows of brick. And so it becomes like one unit, you know? And if this brick wall is moving in and out, it’s definitely not built right and it’s not going to get any better. And frankly, depending on the height, this could be dangerous.
So, I think that you need to monitor this very, very carefully, Jim. And I think it’s going to need, probably, to be taken apart to fix it. I can only hope that the brick, maybe, is only on the garage. Because if this is on the rest of the house and it was done the same way, you could have a much bigger problem on your hands.
What you might want to do is maybe have an expert look at this. And by that I mean not somebody, like a mason, that’s going to sell you a repair despite what they may find. Maybe hire a professional home inspector that kind of doesn’t have a horse in the race. And have it looked at carefully and determine whether or not the brick is solidly attached to the house or not. Because it could be a sign of a bigger problem that you don’t know about. It would be unusual to have an error like this only show itself in one area. If the whole house is brick, it probably is in other areas, as well.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to Texas where Laurie had some sort of flooring incident and now the cabinets are all damaged. What the heck happened at your house?
LAURIE: Well, we had – we bought an old house built in 1939. When we took the carpet up, we had some beautiful hardwood floors, so we had them refinished. But as they were refinishing them and replacing some of the bad spots, they banged up our cabinets. And we’ve had to try to touch them up with the paint that we had our cabinets painted with. And it’s just – it’s not working. It looks – the sheen is different, it’s streaky. I just don’t know how to make them look uniform without repainting the whole kitchen.
TOM: So the cabinets were scratched and you’re trying to repaint them with household paint. And the problem is that they were probably sprayed, perhaps, with a lacquer or other type of finish and you’re just not able to match the exact sheen.
LAURIE: And we had – we actually have the exact paint that they used. And my husband touched them up and it just isn’t working. So we didn’t know if there was a – if we needed to sand them again.
TOM: Why is it not working?
LAURIE: Well, the sheen, it’s shinier. It’s streaked. So I don’t know if it was the brush or what. The paint’s probably a year-and-a-half old.
LESLIE: That’s the thing. When you’ve got paint sitting around for a while, you can’t just pick it up and use a stir stick and then go for it. You really should bring it back to the paint center and have them throw it in the tumbler.
TOM: Yeah. And also, as you go ahead and refinish these damaged areas, you want to kind of fill it in from the inside out. Don’t try to paint over the whole thing. Be very strategic and use a small brush and just get it into the scratched areas. And don’t try to overpaint the areas that are not scratched.
LAURIE: Alright. We’ll try that.
TOM: It’s kind of like the same procedure as touching up a car, as a way – in the same way. You sort of fill in the scratch rather than overpaint the whole thing. Because if you do, it’s going to lay over the factory finish and look more like a patch than you want it to.
LAURIE: Right. And I think that is kind of what’s happening. So, OK. We’ll try those things and see if that helps.
LESLIE: Ken in Michigan is on the line and needs some help with a water softener. What can we do for you?
KEN: Well, I’ve got a 22-year-old house that we built and I had a contractor put the water softener in. And my question is: how do I go about cleaning it or do I know that it’s still working? Or am I just throwing money away at salt and dumping it in?
TOM: Well, if it wasn’t working, you would probably notice a difference in the – in your ability to use the water, in terms of whether it got soapy and just sort of felt right on your clothes and your hair and that sort of thing.
In terms of cleaning it, you know, there’s quite a few steps involved. That’s why most people have service companies that do this. But essentially, you have to siphon or get rid of the water out of the brine tank. And you need to be careful where you put that since it’s so salty it could damage your lawn, your landscape.
And then you have to clean it with a soapy-water solution. And then, generally, you have to put a bleach solution after that and let it sit for a while so it kills any bacteria. And then you have to rinse that whole thing and put it all back together. So, there’s kind of a lot of steps to it.
And do you know what – who made this brine tank, what the manufacturer is? Because I’m thinking you might be able to find step-by-step instructions on their website.
KEN: I just looked and I couldn’t find anything on the machine. And all I could find was a – it said Puretec. And so I’m not sure who made it or where it came from. I had – like I said, I had a contractor put it in about 22 years ago. I’m not even sure whether they’re still in business or not.
TOM: I’m not familiar with that brand but if you jump online, I found a couple of references to the procedure for cleaning those tanks. And one is on a blog called WaterTech, which seems pretty well written. So just Google it and I think you’ll find the step-by-step. But there’s about 10 or 15 steps involved in cleaning it correctly.
KEN: Alrighty. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, kitchen renos always peak this time of year, thanks in part to the workouts our kitchens get over the holidays and the realization that – “Hey, maybe it’s time I get rid of my crappy kitchen. It’s just not working for me.”
And of all the decisions you need to make for that project, choosing the right floor for that space is really an important part of the process.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, your kitchen floors, they take a lot of punishment. Between the fact that it’s potentially a wet location, as well as that kitchens are usually the one area in every home where everybody loves to hang out, you’ve got to choose a floor that can really stand up to the use.
TOM: Now, the most common choices over the years have always been sort of vinyl or maybe ceramic tile. But today, good news: there are dozens of choices that are durable, they’re water-resistant or they’re completely waterproof. And for example, there are water-resistant laminates or waterproof products, like engineered vinyl plank. Or even my new favorite floor: the hybrid resilient floors that are also kid-proof and pet-proof and offer extreme dent-resistance. Plus, these products look just like hardwood but they are totally resistant to damage and water.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the other thing you’ve got to consider is your kitchen obviously butts up to other spaces, whether it’s an open floor plan or you actually have some sort of entryway from room to room. You have to think about the transition. How is the floor in the kitchen transitioning to the floor in the other rooms, both from a carpentry perspective but really from a décor perspective, as well? So it’s important to plan those transitions. You want to make sure that these spaces flow visually.
But you’ve got to make sure that you’re avoiding any trip hazards. So, you want it to be a minimal transition, not so much of a drastic step down or step up just because of unevenness in the flooring or the types of flooring that you choose. There are transitional thresholds where you see this sort of uniform piece of wood on the surface area but below it, it’s these different notches that accommodate the different heights of the flooring. So you’ve got to look at all of that and make sure things flow well from space to space.
TOM: Now, aside from the transitions between rooms, remember to be sure to floor under your appliances so you don’t inadvertently block them in. For example, one of my family members needed a new dishwasher once and I discovered that the previous owner to her house had actually put tile down on top of the old floor. And the tile was sitting up higher than the floor that was in at the time the dishwasher was installed. So guess what? I couldn’t get the dishwasher out. I had to actually physically remove the entire countertop to be able to lift the dishwasher up above that old floor and out. It was a big pain in the neck. So, don’t ever floor up to the appliances. Make sure you floor completely under them.
LESLIE: Chris in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
CHRIS: Well, I’m calling about a leak in a copper pipe that is coming from the boiler in the basement, up and running along the ceiling of the living-room wall and into the radiator, which sits in the bathroom. And right in the ceiling, in the living room, it’s dripping about one drop per minute. And we’re emptying the bowl.
And I had a fellow look at it. He said that there is a leak where the two pipes are connected. And it’s called “the 90.”
TOM: Right. Mm-hmm. That’s a 90-degree bend. OK.
CHRIS: Yes, which is something I did not understand. And then he said he would be back to repair it and hasn’t come back yet. The boiler is also working but we have to kind of watch the water and the pressure in it.
TOM: Do you have a hot-water system or a steam system?
CHRIS: It’s a hot-water boiler.
TOM: So it probably has an automatic-feed valve that puts more water in it if it starts to get low. Do you know if that’s the case?
CHRIS: No, I think we turn the valve in the basement and it adds water.
TOM: Well, you certainly have to have it fixed, unfortunately. To do that, they’re going to have to drain the boiler off to below where that leaking joint is. And then the plumber can go in and repair it and then refill the boiler.
So, you’re definitely going to need to have your plumber or your heating contractor come out – come back and take care of that. If this guy is ignoring you now, then you’re going to have to call somebody else. Maybe he got busy.
CHRIS: Alright. Yes, well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: Give us a call, post a question. Whatever it is, send a smoke signal. We are here to help. Even a carrier pigeon. We’re standing by.
And if you do reach out, we’ve got a great reason for you to do so. We’ve got, up for grabs, this hour the Green Machine 62-Volt 25-Inch Hedge Trimmer.
TOM: Yep. It’s got dual 25-inch cutting blades with a 1-inch cut capacity. And it’s got a rotating handle so it lets you sort of twist and turn and get to all the nooks and the crannies and the sides of your hedge. And it runs up to 2 hours on a fully-charged 62-volt battery. So, no fumes, no smell, no gasoline, none of that.
It’s worth $169 but going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us with your home improvement question. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading to Rhode Island. Stuart, what’s going on with these concrete steps? Are they falling apart? They’re broken? What’s happening?
STUART: The reason I’m calling – I have a set of steps on one of my houses that’s – we installed it probably 30 years ago, concrete steps. And it’s near the ocean, the salt water and so forth. And over the years, there’s been some deterioration on some of the steps (inaudible) to the front of the steps, crystallizing and falling off and so forth and decaying. And one of the corners fell off from the steps. That’s pretty much the extent of the damage. What I’d like to do is repair it and then put some new railings on and so forth but I have to fix the steps before I do that.
TOM: You know, when you’re oceanfront like that or near ocean and salt water and you have so much humidity and moisture in the air, that settles into the concrete. And then, over time, it will expand and crack and cause deterioration.
So, the good news is that we have products out there today that you can use to rebuild these deteriorated steps without having to take them out. If the deterioration is minor, I say maybe less than about an inch in terms of the depth of the break – the broken areas – it’s not really severely cracked but just sort of minor, you can use a product called Re-Cap. It’s made by QUIKRETE and it’s designed to resurface concrete and adheres very, very well to those steps.
If it’s deeper than that, if you have to kind of rebuild like, say, a third of a step, that’s got to be more like new construction or doing it brand-new, where you’re kind of cleaning out the old and then restructurally building it. And then on top of that, you might want to use a concrete surfacer so it looks all uniform when you’re completely done.
But this kind of work is not unusual, not difficult these days because of these products that work very, very well as an additional layer to the concrete that’s there. You have to use a resurfacer, though. Otherwise, it’ll just split off and break and you’re going to be back in the same situation you’re in now, a year or two down the road.
Well, for all the prep and the buildup, holidays do fly by fast. And feeling like you’ve just hung them up yesterday can make un-decorating your home even a lot less fun.
LESLIE: Yeah. But you know what? Un-decking the halls doesn’t have to be a big headache. You can take steps that are going to save time and trouble when you roll out the decorations again next year.
TOM: Yeah. So, first up, you want to assess what you have. And make sure you pick up replacement boxes for decorations so that next year will be extra fun when you open those boxes of brand-new knickknacks and lights and ornaments. And if you buy during the post-holiday sales, it means you’ll be able to stock up for less.
LESLIE: Yeah. And when you’re packing things away, don’t pack things away before you take a good look at them. Look for damage. If there’s any burnt-out bulbs, replace them. If there’s frayed wires, get rid of them. Really take a good look.
TOM: Now, to store your holiday lights, here’s a little trick that I do: I just use slices of cardboard that are about 9×12 and I wrap the light strings around them. This way, the lights kind of stay tidy, they don’t get all sort of jumbled together, they don’t get stressed out. And they’ll be a lot easier to work with next year when I simply unwind them and hang them up again.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you want to store your holiday decorations in clear, plastic bins. This way, you can very easily spot what you’ve got inside. And there are specialized storage cases and bags for artificial wreaths, faux greenery to keep things dust-free, protect all those decorations for use year after year. Because the better you take care of them, the longer you’ll be able to use them.
TOM: Yeah. And if you start a seasonal rotation, you’ll thank yourself come spring. Because once your winter holiday boxes are packed, move them to the back storage area of your attic or your garage or wherever you store them. And then you can bring the spring decorations forward for easy access.
Next season, your celebrations will be here and your décor will be ready and waiting for you when you need it.
LESLIE: Barbara in Texas is on the line with a brick question. What’s going on?
BARBARA: Well, I have brick around my house and the mortar is coming out. Back when it was built around 40 years ago, they didn’t put in enough of the cement so it would stay in. So, I don’t know if that’s something I should attempt to try to fill in. I know matching the grout color is real important. What do you all recommend?
TOM: So do you have a lot of this to do, Barbara? Or is this just sort of some minor repairs?
BARBARA: No, there’s quite a bit.
TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend you do it yourself. I’d have a mason do this because there is some technique to this. You have to mix up the mortar just right. It’s got to be kind of sticky. And once it’s laid in, it really takes a skilled hand to do it. So, I would have a professional do that. I would not make that a do-it-yourself project.
If it was just some areas that were broken out and needed some minor fix, then I’d say OK. But if there’s a lot of repointing to do, I would not suggest you do that yourself, only because it takes an awful lot of practice and sort of a steady hand. That is something you wouldn’t be able to do right out of the gate.
BARBARA: OK. [My need is] (ph) going to get it right like that. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Lisa reached out and now she says, “We have a 1970s ranch-style home and we’re planning to add laminate flooring throughout and trying to decide which underlayment is best. We appreciate your show and hope you might have a recommendation.”
TOM: Well, first, it’s important to consider what laminate underlayment is designed to do. There are a lot of benefits to underlayment and basically, the denser it is, Lisa, the better. Because underlayment is going to absorb sound transmission, including footsteps from walking around and kids jumping up and down. It also makes walking and standing a lot more comfortable because it gives you a little bit of a cushion to that hard-surface floor. And it can also add a layer of insulation. And finally, it could include moisture-vapor protection. That’s especially important if you’re going to go over concrete. And it also does smooth out some imperfections in your subfloor which, of course, we all find, especially those of us that have an older home.
Now, in terms of a recommendation, my first question would be: does the laminate you’ve purchased already have a foam backer on it? A lot of the products do and if that’s the case, you don’t need an additional underlayment. So you can save some time and money there. And if not, I would recommend a product that’s sold by LL Flooring. It’s called CoreLuxe Underlayment. It provides most of the benefits we just talked about and it’s about 65 bucks a roll, which covers 100 square feet.
If you head on over to an LL Flooring store, I’ve found that their sales folks are really knowledgeable in this space, too. And if you talk to them a little bit more about your exact home and what you’re using the floor for, what rooms it’s covering – over wood, concrete, et cetera – narrow that choice down even further.
LESLIE: I mean that all makes sense, Lisa. I hope you enjoy this new flooring project and good luck.
TOM: Well, projects that can reduce your heating bills are popular this time of year because we’re paying a lot for heat. And the Department of Energy just released a DIY guide to help you tackle a lot of these projects yourself. Leslie explains, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, according to the Department of Energy, a typical American family spends nearly $2,000 per year on their home energy bills. And much of that money, however, is wasted through leaky windows, ducts, old appliances, inefficient heating or cooling systems. These are all things that you can correct.
So, to help you, the Department of Energy has created energy-saver do-it-yourself savings projects. Now, the guides are on their website at Energy.gov/EnergySaver and they offer easy, step-by-step instructions for home energy-efficiency improvements that will help you save energy and money.
For example, how to insulate your water heater tank. And that’s going to give you steps for insulating that hot-water tank to improve its efficiency and help you save you some money.
They also want to tell you about how to lower water-heating temperature. This is going to show you how to turn down your water-heater temperature so that you’ve got a safe, comfortable temperature. It’s going to help keep your family safe but it’s also going to save you some energy and some money. And there’s also a step-by-step guide on the best way to air-seal windows and doors with weather-stripping to help stop those drafts. And they even feature a step-by-step guide to installing a new type of exterior storm window with low-E coating. Now, that coating can help reduce heat loss through your windows.
All-in-all, there’s over a dozen easy projects, each with step-by-step instructions. So, check them out. Start saving today. It’s the new year. Have a nice, new approach to your home and how you spend money on it and in it. So check out their website. Again, it’s Energy.gov/EnergySaver.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, painting is the easiest and least expensive way to completely change the look of a room. But unfortunately, many DIYers struggle when it comes to selecting the best color for their projects. We’ll share simple tips to help you nail down that perfect color, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2021 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.)