- Want to refresh your home with new décor but aren’t sure if your budget is ready to handle the hit. We’ll share 5 ways to save lots of money decorating your home sweet home.
- The real estate market is very hot and for first time home buyers, that makes it even tougher to find an affordable house. We’ll share new data on the best and worst markets for first time buyers.
- Window screens let fresh air into your home, while keeping pesky bugs out! If yours aren’t doing the job, we’ll tell you about new technology options in invisible screening that does just that and a whole lot more.
- If you’ve ever had to do deal with an uneven concrete walkway that’s causing people to trip, the solution may be easier than you think. We’ll share the best fix.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Sherri from TN needs help with strange dryer problem. Her machine generates moisture when the load is finished.
- Tim from Michigan has a 2nd floor deck and wants to know how to install fiberglass floor to prevent leaks to the space below.
- Leah from CA needs a solution for an air conditioner that is constantly leaking Freon
- Michael from CA wants to know if it’s possible to purchase gutters and leaders from a home center to do the job himself or hire a gutter company to install seamless gutters, which are more expensive.
- Jim in PA is having difficulty getting rid of hard water calcium deposits out of his water heater asks what’s the best way to clean out a calcium deposit in his water heater?
- Butch from AK lives downhill from his neighbors and needs help stopping rainwater runoff from getting into his garage.
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 to help you, on this beautiful summer day, create your best home ever. So, if you look around the house, if you look around the yard, if you’re thinking about updating your deck or maybe sprucing up the patio or planning a kitchen project for the fall, whatever’s on your to-do list, we’re here to help. So pick up the phone, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can also post your questions to us at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’d like to refresh your home with some new décor but you’re not sure if your budget is ready to handle the hit quite yet, we’re going to share five ways that you can save lots of money decorating your home-sweet-home in today’s Smart Spending Tip, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And much like the summer weather, the real-estate market has been very hot this past year. And for first-time home buyers, that makes it even tougher to find an affordable house. We’re going to share a new survey that lists the best and worst markets for first-time home buyers, in just a bit.
TOM: And window screens are simple enough. I mean they let fresh air into your house while keeping the pesky bugs out. But now there are new options in screening that does just that and a lot more.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear what you are working on. From bathrooms to basements and demolition to décor, we’re here to share expert advice to help you tackle your to-dos with confidence.
TOM: So let’s get to it. Give us a call with your home improvement questions at 888-MONEY-PIT or post them at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Sherri in Tennessee is on the line with a question about a dryer. What is going on at your money pit?
SHERRI: We have recently renovated our home and the – we have noticed that with our dryer, if – they’ll be dry and sometimes I have just left them in there and I have to re-fluff them to get the wrinkles out or something. But when I go back to them, if it’s been overnight, they’re pretty damp and I didn’t know if that was more of a dryer issue or maybe it’s the way we have it hooked up. It’s in the laundry room, which is outside the kitchen and accessed through a vent just through the main – the wall into the outside.
TOM: Right. So, let me ask you a question about this. If you were standing at the dryer and the signal goes off, signaling that the drying load is done, are the clothes damp then? Or did they become more damp when they sit overnight?
SHERRI: They become more damp overnight.
LESLIE: This sounds like a condensation thing where you’ve got the dryers all warm and toasty from the clothes being dried and perhaps then it’s on a cold wall or exposed to air conditioning or something. Right, Tom?
TOM: Maybe. It’s a really odd problem. I can’t imagine what’s causing it, unless there is high humidity. Do you have any evidence of high humidity anywhere else in that area? Do you see condensation? Do you see any mold growth? Does it feel humid and sort of the air is thick down there? Or is it only in the dryer?
SHERRI: I’ve not really noticed it.
TOM: Do you have a steam dryer? Or does it have a water line that’s hooked up to it? Is it a newer dryer that has a steam setting?
TOM: I can’t imagine what’s causing this but for – like you say, Leslie – the humidity down there. And so, I’m going to give you some general advice on dehumidifying that space.
TOM: Which is all that humidity starts on the outside of the house. It starts when you have gutters that are clogged. It starts when the soil around the house is really flat so you don’t get any runoff or the downspouts aren’t directed at least 4, 5, 6 feet away from the foundation. Because when you have a lot of water that collects around the house like that, it shows up first in the way of high humidity and much later, if it continues, in the form of flooding. So I would definitely look at the dampness issue and see if we can dry that space down there.
You might want to try a portable dehumidifier for a while, just to see if that has an effect on it. But even if you have that running, stopping the moisture from forming at the outside is usually the way that you get this under control.
TOM: And it’s something you can do yourself, too. It’s not terribly expensive but just – you just have to understand why this is happening.
We have a post on MoneyPit.com – it’s almost always on the home page because it’s so popular – about how to stop a basement from flooding. Now, of course, you said you don’t have a basement that’s flooding and I understand that but the advice is exactly the same. And we lay out, step by step, what you need to do to reduce moisture accumulation around the foundation perimeter of your house. So why don’t you take a look at that as well, Sherri, OK?
SHERRI: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Tim from Michigan is on the line and needs to do some renovations to a second-story deck. What’s going on?
TIM: I’ve got a home on a lake. We’ve got a large, screened-in porch. Above the screened-in porch is a deck for the master bedroom. The deck for the master-bedroom flooring used to be outdoor carpet. We removed the outdoor carpet, tried to replace it with a marine vinyl and it failed miserably. I’m looking for options on what would be a good surface for this upper deck.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean a second-story deck that’s leaking is kind of tricky because I feel like, at this point, you’ve kind of exhausted some possibilities. And you’re kind of stuck with fiberglass as the last option, right?
TOM: Yeah. I think it really should be the first option and only option for this kind of an assembly because with fiberglass, it’s basically – the deck is basically covered with fiberglass material. And the fiberglass goes up under the siding and over the saddle of the door that goes, in your case, to the bedroom. And it’s kind of like what you would see in a bathtub or a shower pan. You know, it’s absolutely impenetrable by water once it’s done. But if you try to use any other type of material – like you talked about vinyl – that’s just not going to cut it, because it’s really a permanent installation where it goes under the siding, over the saddle, across the deck and the water runs off of it.
And in a lot of these fiberglass-decking products have, also, an additive: a sort of a grit that gives them some traction because they can get slippery, especially if you happen to step out there in the wintertime. So, that’s a really good thing to look for, as well. And I think fiberglass is the solution here to your problem.
LESLIE: Reach out, let us know what you are working on because we are giving away a great set of products today that can help you with dozens or repairs around the house or even on the job site.
We’ve got, up for grabs, The Original Super Glue’s Total Tech. Now, Total Tech is the perfect mix of a heavy-duty construction adhesive and an all-purpose sealant. Plus, it’s paintable. You can check it out at Amazon or even in your local hardware store or head on over to SuperGlueCorp.com/TotalTech so you can check it out today.
TOM: We’re giving away a package of 8 different Total Tech products worth 64 bucks. So give us a call, right now, with those home improvement questions or post them at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Leah from California is on the line with a question about an A/C Freon leak.
What’s going on, Leah?
LEAH: My dad has a home and he had paid a gentleman to replace his air conditioner/heating unit, so he has the one unit outside and then there’s the unit on the inside. It has the heating coil, I believe it is. Basically, the unit’s been leaking Freon for the last 3 to 4 years and the guy came and re-jacked it up two times and – it’s the R22, so the bad type.
We keep getting mixed information regarding how dangerous that Freon leak is and if it’s something that you need to be concerned with, as far as having the ducting cleaned out or if just getting the machine repaired itself will be sufficient.
TOM: So, this sounds like a split-ductless system where you have a compressor outside and you have an air handler mounted on the wall inside. I can tell you, Leah, that both Leslie and I have split-ductless systems in our home. We think the technology is really good; it’s really solid.
Unfortunately, in your case – or in your dad’s case – it sounds like this refrigerant leak – the Freon leak – has not been actually identified. So we know it exists because you lose Freon but you don’t know – we don’t know why it exists or where it exists. And so the focus really should be here on finding that spot and testing the whole system for that leak. Because if we can identify where it’s leaking, then you can fix it. The solution is not to just keep putting more in it.
And yes, it is an antiquated refrigerant and it is changing now. I am sure that continued exposure to it is not a good thing, although it’s probably a fairly small amount. And in most cases, this stuff will evaporate out very slowly over time. So I don’t think it’s a huge exposure but certainly, any exposure is not good. And I think if you can focus on identifying the source of the leak and not just keep putting more in, then I think you’ve got a chance of getting it fixed.
Now, the fact that it’s using Freon over a more modern refrigerant is not a problem. Most older systems do. And yeah, we are changing over to better refrigerants now but it’s not a reason in and of itself to replace the entire system. If you can’t identify the source of the leak, then you’ve got to make a decision as to whether or not you do want to replace it, because I don’t see any other sort of half-measure that you could take.
I hope that makes sense. Thanks so much for giving us a call at The Money Pit.
Well, one of the most exciting things about owning a new home is decorating it. But if you rush into that decorating project and you buy some pricey furniture, you might be making some choices that you’ll later regret. Instead, our advice is to think ahead and come up with a plan. We’ve got five ways that you can do just that, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s super exciting when you get a new space, even a new room, even a small space. Whatever it is, you want to make it look great and you want to have some new stuff for it.
But first of all, guys, spread out those expensive purchases. You’re going to buying a number of high-ticket items: think about a couch, a bed, a television. All of those things you want but you don’t need them all immediately. So make a list of the pieces that you’re going to buy and then sort of prioritize the sort of need, want, have to have immediately, all of that and then go from there.
Next, you want to avoid trendy design choices, because trendy things are generally going to go out of style. And sometimes, they go out more quickly than they even sort of last as a trend. So don’t plunk down a ton of money on that patterned couch. Think about, truly, whether you’re going to like it 5 years from now.
Another thing is if you’re going to splurge, splurge on an essential. Classic pieces are really worth investing in and you can always cover the trends with inexpensive home accents. That’s a great way to bring in that color or that pattern or that sheen. Whatever it is, don’t go and make the couch that crazy pattern. Go ahead and make the couch classic but then put on a throw pillow that works to satisfy that trend.
Also, decorate around a statement piece. If you’ve got an item that you love, let that piece anchor that room. Now, that could be a piece of art, a rug, a piece of furniture. Whatever it is, make that the focal point and then design around it.
And another great option – you’ve got a ton of stuff, you’re moving from somewhere, you’re redecorating a room from another spot – repurpose what you already have. I mean it could be as simple as repainting a piece of furniture or taking something from one room and moving it into another, sort of repurposing the stuff around the house. It’s a great way to upcycle everything that you’ve got at home. Plus, it helps you save a ton of decorating dollars.
TOM: Yeah, great advice. And I’ve got one more tip that I swear can save you thousands. And it’s simply this: if you’re moving into a new home, wait at least 2 or 3 months before making big purchases or making big changes. Why? Well, one of two things is going to happen: you’re either going to get used to the old décor and shift some of that existing furnishings around and discover maybe it’s not so bad, or the desire to decorate is going to increase and you’ll take on the project anyway. But I can guarantee you that a lot of folks will find that as they get used to the old place, that their plans for updating, their plans for change shift. And it almost always results in you saving lots of money.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: Apply for yours at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: Michael from California is on the line and is looking to do some gutter work himself. Let’s find out if this is a good idea. What’s going on?
MICHAEL: I just had my roof replaced on my home and now I’m looking at the rain gutter. Would it be a mistake for me to buy the rain gutter sections at Home Depot – the aluminum ones – and the caulking and rivets and everything and do this project myself? Or would I regret to not hiring a gutter company to come out and install the one-piece gutters? I have talked to two companies that is quite expensive. I could save quite a bit of money if I just bought the stuff at Home Depot.
TOM: I think that installing the gutters yourself, Michael, is definitely a do-it-yourself project. However, the one thing that you would not have, that gutter companies do have, is the ability to make those gutters seamless. You’re going to have to use gutter sections and join them together, which can be done and it can be effective. It’s just a little sloppier, maybe, than just having it in one piece. I have a garage that’s 30 feet long, because it’s a garage shop. And they could just basically roll out one 30-foot piece of gutter for that and not have any seams in the middle.
So, look, you can do it yourself. You’re definitely going to save some money. You’re going to have to be very careful with your craftsmanship to make sure that everything is attached properly. I’ll give you one tip on that: don’t use gutter spikes. There’s a type of screw that you can replace that with. It’s like a long lag bolt designed just for gutters. And this way, once you attach it, it won’t fall out.
And you want to make sure that they slope properly. Because you’re going to be putting these in in sections, you’re going to have to sort of plot out that slope maybe by running a chalk line and snapping a line down the fascia to make sure you maintain the proper angle of these pieces as they get assembled. And then where they join together, you’re going to have to use a sealant on all of those seams to make sure they don’t leak.
So, you definitely can do it yourself. It will save you some money. May not look as perfect as it would if a gutter company did it. But if they’re charging you crazy prices, then maybe it’s just not worth using a pro and you should go DIY.
LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JIM: Yes. I have hard water in my house and every, I don’t know, year about I have to clean out my water heater to get the calcium deposits out. So, my question is: first of all, is there a better tool than a shop vac with a piece of copper tubing taped to it to get into the – you know, I take the bottom element out and I shove that in there and try to clean that calcium out. Is there a way to liquefy that so that I could wash it out? Or is there a water heater on the market that provides access to that?
TOM: So, how much calcium do you actually think you’re getting out of this when you open it up?
JIM: Oh, my. It gets to the point where it’s almost to the bottom element.
TOM: I wonder if you could put a filtration system in before the water heater that will take some of that away.
Yeah, the problem with calcium is not so much that it shortens the life of the water heater, it just acts as an insulator. And so, if you have it – I’m sorry, you have a gas – do you have electric water heater?
JIM: It’s electric, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. So it’s probably not even affecting your efficiency much, because it’s just taking up room.
See, if you have a gas water heater and the flame is underneath it, then it acts as an insulator and the gas has to run longer to heat the water up. But because you have an electric water heater, where the elements are embedded up higher in the unit, I don’t think it has any effect on the efficiency.
JIM: Well, how I found out about this was the element went bad.
JIM: The bottom element. And I took it out to replace it and I couldn’t hardly get it out. It was actually above the element, at that point, the first time.
TOM: Yeah. You know why? Because it probably – that might have shortened the life of the element, because it basically held the heat into it, didn’t allow it to cool like it normally does. So I could definitely see it shortening the life of it.
Do you have any other type of filtration system on the well?
JIM: Just an in-line filter that we put on. We had the water tested and an ultraviolet light and an in-line filter is all we have.
TOM: There is an electronic device called EasyWater that basically will help suspend those water particles – those mineral salts – in the water and kind of let it flush right through, as opposed to collecting.
TOM: And I like it because it’s no salt involved. It basically doesn’t add to the salinity of the water. It does it electronically. It’s at EasyWater.com.
Take a look at it. They also have an extraordinarily good warranty. If you install it and you don’t like it, they’ll send you your money back.
JIM: Alright. Great. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: So, Leslie, I have a killer cat that is roaming the yard here around The Money Pit HQ. And so far, this killer cat has taken out two blue jays and one cardinal. And I’m getting really frustrated trying to keep it away.
LESLIE: Are you sure it’s a cat?
TOM: Oh, yeah. And here’s how I know. Because when I walk out my back door and I look at my bird feeder, where all the seed spills over and the birds go on the ground to try to pick it up, this big, black cat – of course it has to be black, right? It’s a big, black cat, really spooky-looking thing – is sort of tucked under the bushes. I can see he’s ready to strike and when I open the door, I scare him and he runs off. So I’m trying to figure out what I can do about this cat. And I decided that I would use a Havahart trap to try to trap the cat, because it’s not going to hurt him and I can take him to a shelter.
I was talking with my neighbor, who is sort of the cat lady of the street. I said, “What can I put in the trap, as a bait, that will attract the cat but not the squirrels and other little, furry creatures that love to roam the yard but are not quite of the same serial-killer nature?” She said, “Use the old kinds of tuna that come with the oil built into it.” The really cheap, old tuna. Not the kind with the water but the kind that’s really oily. And the cats won’t be able to resist it. And I thought, “Wow. That makes a lot of sense.” So, it’s on our shopping list and I’ll have to let you know what happened.
LESLIE: You could have a new pet.
TOM: It’s sad. You go outside and I see, literally, a pile of feathers. Like it’s a crime scene.
LESLIE: It’s amazing. And they destroy those birds. It’s so insane. Well, hopefully, you can relocate that kitty and he won’t cause anymore troubles.
LESLIE: Well, the real-estate market has been very hot this past year with 14 percent more people becoming first-time homeowners compared to the previous year. Now, with that in mind, the experts at the personal finance website WalletHub released its report on 2021’s Best & Worst Cities for First-Time Home Buyers.
TOM: Yeah. So to figure this out, they looked at 300 cities of varying sizes. Now, they looked at housing-affordability numbers, property-tax rates and about 20 other factors. And here’s what they found.
So, the list for the best cities for first-time home buyers starts with Chesapeake, Virginia, the number-one position. Then Gilbert, Arizona; Lincoln, Nebraska; Cape Coral, Florida; Boise, Idaho; Hampton, Virginia; Peoria, Arizona; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Norfolk, Virginia; and Surprise, Arizona.
Now, the surprise to me in looking at this list was 4 of the Top 10 are literally, in my view, in the same market. I mean Chesapeake, Hampton, Virginia Beach and Norfolk are all adjoining areas in Virginia Beach.
LESLIE: They’re all kind of near each other.
TOM: Yeah. If you drew a 1-hour circle around them, you hit all four. And then – so I said, “Let me take a look at Arizona.” And sure enough, Gilbert and Peoria and Surprise, Arizona are also fairly close together. So if you look at this Top 10, it’s really 5 markets that are great places for first-time home buyers. But that is very contrary to what we find when we look at the worst cities for first-time home buyers. Right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah. There’s a commonality here. First off, we’re talking about Boston, Massachusetts. And then, we’ve got Burbank, California; Glendale; Santa Barbara; San Mateo; Los Angeles; Santa Monica; San Francisco; Oakland and Berkeley. What do those nine cities have in common?
TOM: Gee, I wonder.
LESLIE: They are all in California.
TOM: Stay out of California.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. Talk about a beautiful place to be and the West Coast is lovely but horrible for you first-time home buyers out there.
TOM: Alright. Toledo, Ohio may be a better choice, because Toledo has the most affordable housing. It’s 19.1 times cheaper than Santa Barbara, California which is the city, of course, with the least-affordable housing. And then you look at Honolulu: lowest real-estate tax rate, 0.29 percent, which is 12.9 times lower than Waterbury, Connecticut. However, New Orleans has the lowest home energy cost per month at $97 a month, which is 4.8 times lower than Honolulu. So in Honolulu, you get cheap taxes but you’re going to pay almost $500 a month in energy bills.
LESLIE: But it’s also the most beautiful place ever, so I’ll take it.
TOM: That’s true. That’s true. You definitely have that.
So, really interesting data there when you look at affordability. Such a crazy market right now. I know folks that have been asking me what I think about buying a house now. And I say, “Wait.”
TOM: Wait it out, because these prices are definitely inflated. I think it’s going to come down, settle out in another 6 months to a year.
LESLIE: Whether you need a quick fix or a bigger repair, it’s always helpful to have the right sealant on hand. And we’re giving away one today that works on dozens of repairs around the house or even in your job site.
I’m talking about The Original Super Glue’s Total Tech. Now, it grabs instantly, it dries ridiculously fast and it creates a 100-percent watertight seal. So it really is ideal for use in and around a pool, a sink, a bathtub, anywhere you’ve got some water.
Now, check it out. You can look at their website: SuperGlueCorp.com/TotalTech. You can check it out on Amazon. You can even find it in a local hardware store. And we’ve got, up for grabs, a package with 8 different Total Tech products worth $64 going out to one lucky home improver drawn at random.
TOM: Give us a call with those questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading to Arkansas with Butch on the line. What is going on at your money pit?
BUTCH: Hi, guys. Yeah, I’ve got some water that’s coming into my garage. And we bought this house about 4 years ago and about …
TOM: And this wasn’t a planned water feature, huh?
BUTCH: No, no. Unfortunately not. In fact, I did two things wrong. I added a parking pad to the double-wide driveway and ruined the sprinkler system in the process. But that’s not where the water’s coming from. But I think it’s – my uphill neighbor’s flows down and I think the water is coming down from some of that and then a little bit of it is getting into the garage.
TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.
BUTCH: And I’m not sure with all that now parking area if I – I don’t know that I can divert it but I didn’t know if they made something like a weather strip for the garage-floor door that you could glue down, just to keep it from coming in.
BUTCH: It’s not a lot but yeah.
TOM: Right. Yeah, I mean there are those products. There are kind of saddles for the garage floor and for the bottom of the door but they’re not made to hold back much water. If you’ve got a steady stream that’s coming downhill or running down the driveway, the only way to really permanently deal with that is to put in a driveway drain or a curtain driveway. Basically, it’s sort of like a narrow trough that gets cut into the driveway, all across the front apron of the garage.
BUTCH: Oh, OK.
TOM: And the idea is that the water falls into that, collects and then runs out the end. You pitch them. And you can hook up drains to them, depending on how the yard is basically set up. But you’ve got to move the water from in front of the garage to behind it so it doesn’t go through the garage on its way to dissipation, if that makes sense.
BUTCH: Yeah. And the problem is it’s coming down almost parallel to the garage door but obviously a little bit, you know – and in a heavy rain, we’ll get a 3- or 4-foot puddle in the middle of the garage.
TOM: Yeah. That’s not good.
Well, here, what you want to do is put in a drain across the front of the garage and also, if it’s coming sort of pointing towards the side, you could put a curtain drain in there. There’s a material for imbedding in the soil called EZ Drain, which is kind of like a drain with aggregate sort of built into it. It’s got a foam – kind of looks like Styrofoam peanuts that stick to the pipe and then it’s surrounded by a filter cloth.
TOM: Right. So you drop it in place after you build your trench and then that fills up and runs the water away. And then for the area right in front of that garage, again – that, you would have to actually put an apron in for a curtain drain, right in front of that apron, which is a different type of drainage sort of assembly. You’ll have to order it. And then you just drop it in place there and you probably could have them both tied together so the water runs through one pipe. And then discharge it wherever you can.
TOM: So, depending on how your yard is set up, get it down past where it’s backing into the car – into the garage – and then let it out to daylight there.
BUTCH: Excellent. Well, thank you.
TOM: Yeah. You’re welcome, Butch. Thanks for listening and good luck with that project.
BUTCH: Sure. Bye now.
LESLIE: Well, window screens are about as low-tech as it gets. But window screens do play a big role in improving your home’s comfort during the milder months. They’re going to let you open your windows, get that fresh air into the house, all the while keeping out those pesky bugs and insects from getting inside.
TOM: Yeah. And most of us don’t pay a lot of attention to our window screens until they fail or they begin to look worn and tattered. And if that sounds like your house, we’ve got some ideas that can help.
Now, first, we should note that window screens have changed a lot since we were kids. I remember them always made of very stiff, strong metal. But today, most of the stock window screens are soft and fiberglass. So let’s start there.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, the fiberglass window screens, they’re going to come in fine, standard and heavy-duty grades. And each grade has a very different purpose.
So, the fine fiberglass window screen, that really is best to use if you just want to keep out a lot of small insects. Now, this type of window screen is often used in marshy and coastal areas where you’ve got gnats or sandflies. And those are a problem, especially during summer months. And those are super-duper teeny.
Now, a standard fiberglass screen is the most common and it’s the least expensive type out there. And that’s why you’re going to find it in most homes around the U.S. It’s reasonably durable for the cost but it can break down quickly from UV rays when you’ve got a window and full sun, like on the south side of your house.
And last, we’ve got the heavy-duty fiberglass option. It’s typically used in larger windows, where that screen needs to be strong and it needs to cover a larger window opening.
TOM: Yeah. And keep in mind that fiberglass screens pop out easily. So, if you grew up with screens that were metal and they were inside tracks and they were really sturdy, just keep in mind that the fiberglass screens are not. So you’ve got to be careful around kids’ rooms and pets, where they could pop out of the window with just a little bit of pressure.
Now, if you do want to have those heavy-duty metal screens, they are still available in aluminum. And they’re rust-resistant, so they don’t sag and they’ve usually got a protective coating that can withstand corrosion. And those are also really helpful in the coastal areas where, sometimes, all that moisture contains a lot of salt.
But here’s one that I really like and that’s a pet screen. If you’ve got pets that scratch at your screens or you’ve got young kids who can be rough on screens, pet screens are a great choice. Now, these are made of very heavy-duty, vinyl-coated polyester, which is a lot stronger than regular screening material. And they also can tolerate some stretching and pressure strains without sagging.
Now, we don’t have pets and we don’t have young kids but I still used this pet screening in my screen door last year because the regular screening – it’s a full size screen door, right, so it’s full open; there’s no reinforcement. And what would happen is, even though we were careful over the year, eventually the screening would sort of pull loose from the track. And so I switched it out to pet screening. Hasn’t come out since. So, good stuff. A little bit more expensive but definitely worth it.
LESLIE: Well, that’s really smart.
Now, there’s a newer type out there and it’s called “high-visibility screening.” And it’s made of super-duper-duper fine fiber and it makes it almost invisible. It is more costly but it’s worth it for the windows in your home that look out on your favorite views, because I’m telling you, you cannot see it. It’s really amazing.
TOM: So lots of options to consider if your screens are ready for replacement.
LESLIE: Kelly reached out and says, “My house has a concrete walk to the front door with a slight bump where one section has settled. The bump is 2 inches at most and sometimes, people miss knowing it’s there and trip. I know I should have done something about it long before now but what? Do I paint it? Light it? Add some sort of cement to turn it into a gentle slope? How do I fix this?”
TOM: Yeah. You probably should have done something a lot sooner than this. You certainly don’t want to have a trip hazard around your house.
So, what I think the best option to do is to actually add some sort of cement, as you put it. But you can’t use any type of cement. Because whenever you do a patch like this, where you’re putting new product or new cement or new mortar on top of existing concrete, you have to choose a product that is specifically not designed for that. Otherwise, it just doesn’t stick. And what happens is if you live in an area where it gets below zero, it’s going to come off really quickly. The first time it freezes, it will just pop off. And if you live in a warmer climate, it’ll take a little bit longer but guarantee, it will not stick.
So you want to use a product like – QUIKRETE has one that’s called a “polymer modified structural repair.” Long name. It basically is a mortar mix that is designed to adhere to that old surface and they’re really good at that. This is a product that I think is one of their best-selling repair products, just because it works so darn well. And you could use it to basically trowel out under that sidewalk and slope it so that you have a nice, even slope wherever it drops like that. And if it drops some more, you may have to add more and you can do that. So, you definitely need to use a product designed to stick to the old concrete and that is probably the best way to handle this.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Tony says every year or two, he takes the time to remove the bottom element on his water heater and suck out the calcium deposits. “The first challenge I have, though, is to rig up a piece of copper to my Shop-Vac and tape it to the heater to accomplish this. Is there a better tool out there for this task? P.S. I love your show.”
TOM: I think you’re probably working too hard. That internal drain valve should be more than sufficient for getting rid of the calcium deposits from your water heater. And by the way, the only thing that you gain by removing the calcium is a little bit more efficiency, because the calcium – if it is laying across the bottom of the tank – it can act as an insulator between the flame and the water. But it really has no effect on corrosion.
That valve in your water heater has some threads on it, so you just thread on a garden hose and run it somewhere where the water can run out. And then open that valve and just let it drain. And that will do it. You don’t have to make yourself any fancy tools or figure out a way to do this. We’ve got the technology; it’s designed to do just that.
LESLIE: Now, is it true, Tom, if you’ve never drained the water tank, don’t do it? It’s either do it all the time or just ignore it. What’s the story with that?
TOM: I’ve never really ever drained my water heaters and I also don’t – have never lived in places that had really hard water. But if you did have an area where – let’s say you had well water and it was hard water, you know when you have it, right? Because it doesn’t get very soapy when you try to wash. I think I might do it once in a while but I really don’t feel like it’s a necessary thing.
And I’ll tell you something else that’s not necessary. That pressure-relief valve that’s on the side of the tank, sometimes people will tell you to open it and close it a few times to kind of flush out any mineral deposits that are in there. Big mistake because I’m telling you, every three or four times you try to do that, it’s – one time it’s going to get stuck open and you’ll never get it shut again. And you’ll end up with a big plumbing repair.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean you’ve really got to fight the temptation to kind of mess around with the water heater. They do tend to run on their own. I know that’s at least how I managed it at my house. But you want to be careful, because you want them to stick around and you want them to work.
TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. And thank you so much for doing just that. We hope that we’ve been able to give you some tips and ideas to help improve the spaces that you’d like to work on around your house. Just a reminder that you can reach us with your questions, 24/7, when you post them at MoneyPit.com or call them in to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Until next time, I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(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.)