- Getting ready to refresh your home with some new décor for the year ahead? We’ll share 5 ways to save lots of money decorating your home sweet home for 2022!
- We know your kids are counting the minutes, but is your chimney ready for Santa – and for the colder temperatures right behind him? We’ve got advice for chimney repair and cleaning tips that keep your home safe and structurally sound.
- Lots of cleaning going in this month with all the holiday visits happening – one of the harder surfaces to get clean are tile floors. We’ve got some quick cleaning tips to help you get tile bright and clean tile floors in no time at all.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Laurie in Nevada wants to know how to repair a cement sink.
- Lawrence from Wisconsin needs help fixing a rotting porch post.
- Kathy in Florida is asking about a product to seal a door.
- Ames from Colorado has horizontal cracks in his masonry stucco siding.
- Nora in Texas needs help painting a textured wall.
- Peter from Florida needs a fix for covering up dents in a doorframe.
- Barb in Iowa is asking if they should switch from radiant system to an alternative.
- Orv from South Dakota has a stain that darker than he thought it would be and wants to undo it.
- Pam in Montana has a gurgling kitchen sink.
- Terry from Tennessee needs to fix his retaining wall in order to keep mud from leaking out from behind it.
- Shawnee in North Carolina is having a flooding issue in her backyard due to an underground spring.
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 it is – and I can only say this once a year, Leslie – it is the ho-ho-home improvement time. It is the ho-ho-home improvement time to fix up your house. Well, you probably don’t have a lot of time to do any fix-up before the ho-ho comes down the chimney to fill your house with gifts and candy and laughter. But you could be planning some projects for the year ahead, the seasons ahead and maybe thinking past the winter, into the spring, when you want to get outside. Because if you’ve got a project you’d like to get done around your house, now or then, we are here to help you get it done. To help you figure out where that first step is, what tools you need, should you do it yourself, should you get some help, give us a call and we will help you first at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Now, home improvement costs money and if you’re getting ready to refresh your home with some new décor for the year ahead, you may not be sure if your budget is ready to handle that hit. So we’re going to talk about five ways to save lots of money decorating your home, in today’s Smart Spending Tip, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And we know your kids are counting the minutes but is your chimney ready for Santa and for the colder temperatures that are right behind him? This hour, we’ve got advice for chimney repair and cleaning tips that keep your home safe and structurally sound.
TOM: And lots of cleaning going on this month with all the holiday visits happening. And one of the harder surfaces to get clean are tile floors. We’re going to share some quick cleaning tips to help you get that tile and the grout bright and shiny in just no time at all.
LESLIE: And no matter when you listen to The Money Pit, you can always get in on our fun giveaways. And this one is sure to make you want to stick around. We’ve got, up for grabs, the Arrow GT300 Glue Gun, which is a favorite in my household, worth 49 bucks.
TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random, so make that you. Give us a call with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post them to MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Laurie in Nevada is on the line with The Money Pit. Has got a question about a cement sink. What can we do for you?
LAURIE: Yeah, hi there. Yeah, we – you know, I’m helping my parents out with their very old home. Unfortunately, we’re really low on funds, et cetera, et cetera. We have a sink in our old home; it’s in the basement. And the sink is part of the washer/dryer setup there. And it’s an old cement sink that has a crack in it. I was hoping that we could do something to repair it just until they’re ready to move on, because we’re trying to do the downsizing and stuff.
TOM: OK. Is the crack really severe where it’s in two pieces or is it just like one crack that – where water gets through?
LAURIE: Well, it’s kind of like a little forked crack that’s in part of the sink, on the base of it, so …
TOM: So, what I would recommend is you use an epoxy on this. There’s a product called PC-7. It’s sort of like a putty and it comes in a container that has the A part and the B part and you mix it together. And so it ends up being, when it’s mixed together, kind of like Play-Doh. And you can press it into place and get it troweled out and pressed into this crack. And leave it alone for about 24 hours and it will never, ever leak again.
So good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, we’ve got Lawrence in Wisconsin on the line who’s dealing with a porch post that’s rotting. Tell us what’s going on.
LAWRENCE: It’s an outdoor porch on the front of the house. And where that post and the floor come together there, the corners of the post – about an inch in on each corner – are rotting away. And I was wondering if there was a way I can fix that or does that entire post have to come out?
TOM: So, is it just the base of the post, because the moisture collects there?
TOM: Can you sort of dig out the rotted area? Because if it’s just a small area like that, you can dig it out and fill it back in with a product like an Elmer’s Wood Filler, which will take shape and you can kind of work it like wood after it dries. So you don’t necessarily have to tear it out.
Now, the other little trick of the trade for dealing with those porch-column bottoms – is it a square column?
TOM: So, what you could do is you could add another piece of trim on the outside of that, on all four sides, and put a skirting on the bottom of the column. And that’ll – if you do it well, it looks like it was always designed to be that way. Does that make sense?
LAWRENCE: Yeah, the – when the builders built, they put a little piece of wood all the way around it.
TOM: Yeah, like a piece of trim? So you put a bigger piece of wood – like a taller piece of wood – all the way around it. If it’s just a small quarter round or something like that, you could put a 3-inch or even a 6-inch skirting around the bottom of that, on all four sides, and you’ll completely cover up the rotted area.
LAWRENCE: OK. I’ll give that a try.
TOM: A lot easier to replace than the post, right?
LAWRENCE: Yes, it is.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kathy in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KATHY: I have a problem – not I but my daughter has a problem with her sliding doors.
KATHY: In winter, it’s awfully drafty. And on a previous show, you mentioned a product to put on that you can peel off in springtime very easily and that seals the doors and windows. But I did not get the name, so that’s why I’m calling back, if you remember that or if you can help me with this problem?
LESLIE: Now, Kathy, it’s a very common product that we talk about often. DAP has one; it’s called Seal ‘N Peel Caulk. A lot of different manufacturers make one. But once she seals this door, it’s not something that you’re going to want to peel off and reapply. Is this a door that she uses often or could she call this doorway closed for the season?
KATHY: No, she doesn’t use it in winter at all.
TOM: OK. So then you could seal it off for the winter, as long as – and the thing that concerns me, though, in telling you this is while you can seal it off for the winter, you’re also sort of sealing it shut. So if this is an emergency exit out of the house, in the event of a fire or something like that, you might not want to do this. But the product is a weather-stripping caulk. It’s clear; it looks like silicone but it’s not. And you essentially caulk drafty windows or doors. And then in the spring, you peel it off and it doesn’t damage the underlying door.
But like I said, because it’s a door, we don’t recommend that you seal it shut because then you won’t be able to get out.
LESLIE: And that’s a good option if the draft is coming in from around the door, like in the operable parts, the doorway itself, for lack of a better area to describe? If you feel that the draft is coming from the glass itself, there’s also those clear sheetings that you can attach, in addition to sealing off the other part, that you sort of blow-dry in place, that sort of seals off an additional layer if the draft is coming through the glass, as well. And a combination of those two things might work.
TOM: It’s shrink film and it would attach to the outside frame of the door. It sort of has like a double-face tape attachment and then you heat it with a hair dryer and it shrinks and pulls really tight and taut. And of course, that would stop the drafts but in the event you had to get out in an emergency, you just break through and go on out.
Alright, Kathy? So I hope that those are some good ideas that help you and your daughter out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: No matter when you listen to The Money Pit, you can always get in on our fun giveaways. And this one is sure to make you want to stick around.
We’ve got, up for grabs, the Arrow GT300 Glue Gun. It’s got a great design, so it feels very comfortable in your hand. I mean I always find that my hand cramps up with a smaller glue gun or one that’s not designed as well. This one, no problem no matter how long I use this glue gun. The nose design actually helps you get to those hard-to-reach corners, so it’s great for things like school and craft projects, home repairs, carpentry. I love it for upholstery. You guys are going to love it, so give us a call for your chance to win.
TOM: And you can do that by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat. But you must have a home improvement question.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ames from Colorado on the line who’s got a question about repairing stucco. How can we help you?
AMES: We have a home that’s 8 or 9 years old. It has a stucco exterior and it has cracks – horizontal cracks.
TOM: Is it a masonry-stucco house or is it a synthetic-stucco house?
AMES: I don’t know.
TOM: So, is it like a concrete kind of a finish to it? Does it feel like concrete or does it feel soft? Like could you put your finger and push it and it would be spongy?
AMES: It’s hard.
TOM: It’s hard, OK. And so you’ve got cracks in horizontal stucco, 8-year-old house. You’re going to want to get those cracks sealed because what happens with stucco, if the water gets behind it, especially in a cold environment, it will tend to do two things: number one, it will freeze and as it does, it will push and loosen the stucco; and number two, there’s probably a metal mesh that was applied to the home first, that holds that stucco in place and the moisture will rust that away.
So, the best thing to do is to use an exterior caulk. You can get one that matches the color of the stucco or you could use a clear, silicone-like caulk and seal those cracks to try to minimize the chance for moisture to get through. And that’s going to be pretty much normal maintenance with a stucco surface.
Does it appear like any chunks are coming off or is it just the crack that is forming?
AMES: Yeah, it’s just a crack.
TOM: Yeah, so stay on top of it, Ames, and you’ll really minimize it. And it’ll last for a long time.
AMES: Alright. And then it also has rust stains, probably from that metal lath.
TOM: Yeah. And so, after you get all of the cracks sealed, if you’re getting – next time you repaint the house, I want you to prime it first. That will seal in the rust stains and prevent them from coming through quite so quickly.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Nora in Texas is on the line with a textured-wall question. Tell us what you’re working on.
NORA: We are remodeling our house and we have a room that has a wall that has some flaws in the wall: some bumps and things that I know I won’t get out. But we were going to – we were texturing it with a lightweight joint compound and a paint roller. But when I put it on, I kind of went above my head and came down and then I dipped again, went across the wall and then went across the top about a foot from the ceiling to the – where I’d started. Then went across the bottom from the foot – from the – where I ended to the floor. Is it going to show line – how do you keep from showing line marks and …?
TOM: Well, Nora, there’s paints that are designed to do that; you don’t have to use spackling. But I can respect the fact that you probably had some spackle and maybe you just tried to make that work. How do you avoid paint lines or how do you avoid trowel lines with that? You only get one shot to do it and that’s when you work it when it’s wet.
TOM: It’s OK to cut-in like that. But before it dries, what you have to do is go across the wall and sort of break into those sort of bands so that you have a pattern there.
TOM: I probably would not have used spackle for that, if it was me. I would have used a good-quality textured paint, which would have given you the same effect. But it sounds like that ship has sailed and now you’re working with the spackle. Is that correct?
NORA: Well, yes. What kind of paint has texture in it?
TOM: Oh, there’s lots of different paints. I know, for example, I think it’s Valspar has got about a dozen different ones. And I’m sure every major paint manufacturer has a textured paint.
NORA: So you just roll it on like paint and it …?
TOM: That’s right. It has less coverage. So while regular paint covers about 400 square feet per gallon, textured paint will cover between 150 and 200 square feet per gallon.
LESLIE: And it also depends – the application depends on the type of texture that you choose. Some of them have certain rollers that are required – certain applicators, I should say – that will achieve that look for you.
NORA: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Well, one of the most exciting things about owning a new home is decorating it but rushing into decorating and buying furniture can mean making choices you might later regret. Instead, think ahead and come up with a plan. We’ll share how, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
LESLIE: So, here are some ways to help you stick to a reasonable budget and save some money. You want to try to spread out your expensive purchases. If you’re buying a number of high-ticket items, like a couch or a bed, you don’t have to get them all at once. You can make a list of the pieces that you need to buy and then prioritize.
Now, you should also avoid trendy design choices that are likely going to go out of style. You’re going to plunk down a lot of money on this furniture, so don’t spend a ton of cash on that crazy patterned couch. Think about it in the long term: am I going to like this 5 years from now? Does this seem like something that’s going to last over the years? You have to think about that because you’re going to be spending a lot of money on these items.
Now, you want to also splurge on the essentials. Classic pieces, those are worth investing in. You can always cover the trends with those inexpensive home accents. Now, think about decorating around a statement piece. So you want to let one item anchor your room. It can be a piece of furniture, it can be artwork, it can be a rug, it can be a fabric for a drapery. Whatever it is, choose that something to be the focal point and then design around it.
And here’s the best thing that I love to do. I want to repurpose the things I already have, so I kind of look around my house, think about the stuff that I have. Maybe it doesn’t work in one room, maybe I can move it to another room. Maybe if I paint it with some leftover paint from something that I used in another space can bring that room together. Lots of different ways that you can incorporate something old into a new style. And maybe, if your couch has got good bones and is still super comfy but you don’t love the fabric or it’s a little worn, you can reupholster it instead of buying a new one. It’s really an upcycling project. It’s an excellent approach to maximizing those decorating dollars.
TOM: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. Apply for yours at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: Peter in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PETER: We built our house in ‘06, so it’s a brand-new house; we had it built. My wife was in a wheelchair, so we made the doors wider, like instead of 2-8, 3-0.
PETER: And we’re still bumping up against the door frames, you know? And they’re not too bad but they’re – when we’re backing up and stuff, we’re hitting the walls and the door frames. And we were just wondering if there was anything that you might be able to – maybe to cover up the dents in the wood.
TOM: So do you want to repair the wood or do you want to – like do you want some advice on how you can put a guard on those door frames?
PETER: I think maybe just to try and repair them or cover up the dents.
TOM: Well, that becomes a pretty easy repair. I mean basically, what you want to do is sand out the paint there and sand out any rough spot around that. And then you want to fill it. There’s a wide variety of products you could choose from. Elmer’s has got a great line of wood fillers that are easy to sand. And then you touch up with some primer and then you paint it again and that will cover it up.
And you also might want to think about taking a look at some of the clear corner guards that are available that can protect that. They kind of blend into the material so you don’t really see them. But it’ll help you protect from gouging it any further.
LESLIE: Oddly enough, at the home centers, Peter, they are found in the painting aisle. And I know this because the steps going down to our basement, my 4-year-old likes to run down and grab onto that corner and he peels off the wallpaper every time he goes down. And it’s been driving me nuts.
PETER: OK, great. Hey, thank you very much for your help. Yeah, we love listening to your show. We have a new house, so we don’t have all the problems like people have with dirt cellars and all that, so …
TOM: Well, that’s right. We’re glad we can help you out with the small repairs, as well as the big one. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Barb in Iowa on the line who’s got a heating question. How can we help you today?
BARB: Yes. My son recently purchased a house and it has the hot-water heat. And was wondering about if we replace that, if you’d suggest staying with that system or going with maybe the forced-air natural gas?
TOM: Oh, no, I would – well, first of all, is it a gas-fired heating system? It’s just heated by hot water instead of ducts?
BARB: Yeah, it has kind of – the radiators along the …
TOM: Oh, listen, Barb, you’ve got the best heating system available. So, you definitely don’t want to take – never take apart a radiant system.
Now, if you want to add air conditioning, you add a separate set of ducts for that. But you never disable that hot-water baseboard system because it delivers warm, moist heat. Now, most builders today don’t put these in because they’re too expensive. But if you bought a house that’s got one, you definitely want to keep it and enjoy it.
BARB: OK. And then if – just repair it if it would need any …
TOM: Well, I mean hot-water systems rarely need repair; it’s just that the boiler needs maintenance. But most hot-water, gas-fired boilers will last 25 or 30 years.
BARB: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Barb. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Orv in South Dakota is on the line with a log-cabin question. Tell us what you’re working on.
ORV: This is a cedar log cabin. Actually, it’s 4x6s with the edges eased. And 4 or 5 years ago, we stained it and it got – we stained it too dark. And I’d like to know if we can – or what needs to be done to bring it back to its original color?
TOM: OK. So, if you stained it and it’s too dark and you want to lighten it up again, it’s not practical to sand down the logs to try to get to the natural wood, nor do I think you have to. What you could do is you could apply a solid-color stain, which is essentially going to be – the color that comes out of the can is the color you’re going to get. It’s kind of like paint except that the grain of the wood shows through. So if you were to put a solid-color stain on those logs, you could definitely lighten it up.
And frankly, when we are asked about staining homes, wood siding and the like, we almost always recommend solid-color stain because it lasts the longest. It has more pigment in it than semi-transparent stains and so I think that’s the way to go, Orv. Just pick up some solid-color stain, any color you want. Apply it to the logs and you could definitely lighten up the look.
ORV: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, if you expect Santa to make it down the chimney to reach those cookies and milk that you left as a special treat, you want to make sure that your chimney is clean and safe. Chimneys can collapse and cause serious issues, from fires to carbon-monoxide poisoning, if they are not well maintained and up to snuff.
LESLIE: Yeah, creosote, it’s one of the greatest chimney safety hazards. It’s that residue that sticks to the inside of the chimney when the vapor mixes with condensation and then it cools. The creosote, guys, is hugely flammable. But you can keep it to a minimum with a yearly chimney inspection and regular cleaning.
TOM: And are you not sure you need a cleaning? Well, open the damper above the fireplace and look up inside that flue with a strong flashlight. If you cannot see the sides of the clay or the metal liner clearly, you are probably overdue for that cleaning. Generally, you need one about once for every cord of wood you burn.
LESLIE: Now, the outside of your chimney can also pose some major risks, as well. You want to inspect it from the outside, see if it’s leaning or if it’s separating from the house. And if it’s doing either, you want to call a professional to come check it out ASAP. Loose bricks or cracks, those are easier fixes. You can replace them, you can seal them as needed but you definitely need to call a pro for something bigger.
TOM: And also keep an eye out for vegetation that might be growing across the top of the chimney. Ivy, for example, can go across the top of the chimney and block the flow of gases coming out that chimney.
And if your chimney exhausts through a metal vent pipe, make sure that it has not dislodged or rusted. Used to find those shifted parts a lot in the years I spent as a home inspector. And if it’s not properly connected, it’s just not going to vent as it’s intended to and it could be unsafe.
LESLIE: Pam in Missouri is dealing with some mysterious water noises. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
PAM: When I run water down the kitchen sink and after I stop running the water, that kitchen sink gurgles.
TOM: Well, your problem is very simple: you have to stop running water and flushing toilets.
PAM: Can’t do that.
LESLIE: Stop using the plumbing.
TOM: Alright, look, what’s going on here is your plumbing system is starved for air; you don’t have enough ventilation. And you know when you look at a house from the outside and you see the plumbing pipes sticking up through the roof?
TOM: Those are vent pipes. And what they do is they let air into the system so that when the water runs out, it’s replaced by air without gurgling. When your plumbing can’t get enough air, it gurgles like that.
And the solution here is going to be figuring out what’s wrong with the existing plumbing-ventilation system. You may have a blockage somewhere that’s causing this. There are ways to add additional vents if necessary but you’ve got to get to the bottom of it, first, and figure out why it’s blocked.
How old is your house?
PAM: It’s 14 years old.
TOM: Has it always been this way?
PAM: I don’t think it has always been that way. It seems like the more that we use – when I’m home on a weekend and use it a lot, it gurgles more.
TOM: I think you have to have a plumber take a look at that, because you don’t have enough air getting into the system.
TOM: Something is wrong with the venting and you may need to open that drainway’s vent pipe up somewhere else to get some more air in there.
Pam, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pick up the phone, give us a call, send us a note. Whatever it is, we are here to lend a hand with all of your home improvement adventures. Whether it’s just getting ready for the holidays or thinking bigger into the new year, we’re here to lend a hand. And we’re also here to give away some great tools.
We’ve got up for grabs, this hour, one of my favorite products. I use it a lot. It is the Arrow GT300 Glue Gun and it was named the best glue gun by Popular Mechanics. And we’ve got one to give away to one lucky DIYer.
Again, it’s the Arrow GT300 Glue Gun. It’s going to feel great in your hand. You can use it for DIY projects, pro projects. It’s going to heat up fast. It’s got a drip-resistant nozzle and a glue control knob. You’re going to love it. You’re not going to waste a lot of glue and you will be crafting and project-ing in no time. So give us a call for your chance to win.
TOM: It’s worth 49 bucks. Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. You can reach us by posting your questions to MoneyPit.com or calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Terry in Tennessee needs some help with a retaining-wall problem. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
TERRY: Yes. I have a leak problem from a drain on my back end of my house. I have a full basement and it’s heated and cool but I use it as a garage/work area, et cetera. From my garage, there’s a retainer wall that goes past the end of my drive. It’s about 20 yards long. I have two drainpipes at the bottom of that.
And when it rains, well, mud is coming out, so undoubtedly it’s stopped up. And I’m hoping that you can give me the name of some apparatus without digging out the whole entire back of the retainer wall.
TOM: So the mud gets from behind the retainer wall and then comes out the bottom of it on the low side and what, runs down your driveway or something?
TERRY: Yeah, the retainer wall is right at the end of my driveway, coming up from the street to the end of the house.
TOM: So, the solution here would have been in the way the retaining wall was built to begin with. Because behind the retaining wall, it sounds like there’s a lot of dirt sort of pressed right up against it. The way to build this is dig down around the retaining wall, probably about 2 feet behind it. And then you’re going to have stone that is about 12 inches away from the retaining wall. Behind that, you’d have filter cloth and then behind that, you would have soil. I’m talking vertically now.
So, up against the retaining wall, you have stone. Right behind the stone, you have filter cloth. Right behind that, you have the soil. And so, if you don’t have something like that and you’re getting a lot of dirt that’s just basically turning into mud and running through the wall, then that’s going to happen.
Now, I guess your question is: is it really worth it to regrade the area behind the retaining wall to put in the proper type of drainage stone and so on? Or do you just put up with cleaning your driveway every once in a while? For me, if I bought into a house that was like that, I’d probably clean the driveway every once in a while.
TERRY: Yeah. Well, you know, it’s almost a constant thing when it rains. But when the drainpipe – of course, it was put all the way around the house: the proper drainage factor, like the drainage pipe; the gravel over the pipe; the cover over that. So it was all done that way, as far as having that done.
TERRY: It’s just, over time, it’s – the house is 17 years old. Well, it started to leak and some way or another, it filtered down into the drainpipe, which drains past my driveway or it did at one time, anyway.
TOM: Well, you could always rerun those downspouts so that they’re not discharging that close to the house and keep them well away. That could help you a bit, as well. But it really comes down to how that soil is put together behind the wall, if that makes sense to you.
TERRY: OK. OK. Well, that was my question and I thank you so much for your help.
TOM: Well, there’s lots of cleaning going on this month with all the holiday visiting that’s happening. But one of the harder surfaces to get clean are tile floors. Have you ever noticed that they almost never look as good as the day that you put them down?
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s true. We’re rounding up some tips here, because we want to tell you how to remove those top six stubborn stains from ceramic tile so maybe you can get it on its way to looking brand-new again.
First of all, gum, wax, sticky substances, all of those kind of yucky things, you want to place ice cubes in a resealable plastic bag and then lay that ice pack on top of the sticky stain. And leave it until the sticky residue has solidified. Then you can carefully chip it away using a popsicle stick or something that’s not going to scratch the tile floor. Don’t go grabbing a paint scraper or something. Get something a little bit more gentle.
Now, blood. Bleach really is the key here. You want to mix up a solution that’s diluted just enough to lift the stain. And you have to make sure that you rinse the tile very thoroughly. Coffee, tea, juice, that seems to be a very common stain when you’ve got people over for the holidays. You want to wash that stain first with a detergent and soap and then use that same diluted bleach solution to lift the stain. And you want to blot it and dab. And that should do the trick for those.
TOM: Now, if you have grease stains, you want to mix up a non-abrasive floor cleaner, like a Soft Scrub with club soda or carbonated water, and work it into the stain and then rinse it out.
Now, for ink or clothing dye, diluted bleach helps here, too, but you can step up the strength by soaking a cloth in the bleach and placing it on top of the ink stain. Let it sit there in place until the stain has dissolved, then rinse the tile well.
And finally, nail polish. If you happen to spill nail polish, use a little nail-polish remover to lift that nail polish from the tile. And if the stain remains on the tile, use diluted bleach solution, once again, by dabbing it until the color lifts. And that should do it and leave those tile floors looking a lot brighter than they were before.
LESLIE: Shawnie (sp) in North Carolina needs some help with a backyard problem. What’s going on at your money pit?
SHAWNIE (sp): And on my roof, I knew it would rain. All the water would drain toward the back, since it’s on a downslope.
SHAWNIE (sp): And then I had some – a contractor come in and connect all of my downspouts and all to this black pipe. And they connected all of it and ran it out to one source toward that little creek. And in doing so – everything was fine; it worked fine. And they thought where I was having such water problems, they sort of made a horseshoe out of the black pipe, with the Styrofoam peanuts and all of that in it.
But what they did, when they dug around the horseshoe area, they found that that was dry. Because they figured if it was wet, it would drain and take care of the problem. But when they put that horseshoe in, wherever they put it, it was completely dry and it was further down that they realized that I had an underground spring.
So, all of my drainpipes, everything is draining perfectly but it’s one little problem I had with that underground spring.
TOM: But is that underground spring rising up to the point where the yard is flooding? And how much flooding are we talking about here?
SHAWNIE (sp): It’s not necessarily flooding but it stays so wet I can’t mow it.
TOM: It’s just wet?
SHAWNIE (sp): And there’s a place about – I’m going to say 12-inches square-ish, maybe, that is – has puddled.
TOM: I don’t think this is a problem worth solving. I think it’s a fairly small area of the yard. And areas of the yard that get soft like that, yeah, the grass can be hard to cut sometimes; sometimes, you have to cut it by hand instead of using a power mower on it. But I don’t think it’s worth you doing anything about it. You would have to do some major, major work to try to take the water that’s collecting there, run it downstream and have it sit somewhere else. So, I don’t think it’s necessarily a big issue.
LESLIE: Greg reached out to The Money Pit and he says, “My wife and I are in the process of buying a home and we’ve decided to have an inspection and a radon test done. The inspection came out fine but the radon test came in at 18, which is more than 4 times the safe level. What should I do?”
TOM: So, that’s not an uncommon situation, depending on where you are in the country. That’s probably a moderate radon level; I’ve seen it in the hundreds. And I would say, Greg, that there’s no need to panic here. You do need a repair. You need to have installed what’s called a “radon-mitigation system.”
Now, I don’t know what your house structure is but I’m going to presume, if it’s like most homes that have radon problems, it probably has a basement. And what would happen, in this case, is a radon mitigator – a special contractor that does radon-removal work – would basically install a pipe into the floor. And it’s done in such a way where they hook up a fan to that pipe, that kind of acts as a big vacuum cleaner and pulls the gas out from underneath that floor. So, basically, it takes it from the soil directly and then vents it out of the house.
These radon-mitigation systems are very well done these days. They don’t use a lot of electricity. There is an indicator on there so you know that the pipe is always working, because it’s very quiet, as well. And the most important thing, though, is that after it’s installed, that they do a post-installation test to see what the levels are. And if you do that and do it right – make sure you use a licensed radon mitigator – I don’t think you’re devaluing your house or creating sort of a house that nobody wants to buy. Because it’s a radon problem because all the other homes in that neighborhood are going to have the same thing. And it’s really a tried-and-true system now.
So, don’t panic that you’ve got a radon problem. There’s a radon solution. Take care of that and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got Maureen in New Jersey and she says she needs to order carpeting for her double set of stairs – that means there’s a landing in between – and a hallway upstairs, odd-shaped nooks and corners. She doesn’t want to be short or pay for extra that she doesn’t need. How should she best measure the carpeting for this space?
TOM: Well, the flat spaces – the landing and the hallway – you would measure that as you always would. But in terms of the stairs, my rule of thumb for that, Leslie, is you do 1 yard per stair – per step. So, if you’ve got 12 steps, that’s 12 yards for the carpet. And that covers the tread and the landing with a little bit extra.
The thing I don’t know is – you say odd-shaped nooks and crannies. Of course, depending on how many seams you want in the carpet, you may have to over-buy carpet if you don’t want to have some seams. And that becomes more of an issue, too, if there’s a pattern that you’re trying to match. I mean if there is no pattern, it’s easier to seam carpet. But if you’ve got a pattern, then that limits your options. And often, there’s more waste with that, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. So you really want to make sure that you’re thinking about all those little spaces, what the width of that carpeting is so you’re making the best plan for all that little spots you’ve got around the house.
And Maureen, you should think about what material you’re picking for this carpeting. The staircase gets a ton of usage, so you want to make sure you get something that’s super durable, easy to clean. You want it to last a long time because this is a big project and you want it to look good for as long as it can.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Or I should say it’s The Money Pit Ho-Ho-Home Improvement Show because it’s the holiday season. And we know that you’re probably not knee-deep in a project right now. We hope that you are enjoying this time of peace and celebration with your family and your friends. But if you are planning or thinking about a project you’d like to get done when you get done digesting the turkey, well, you could always reach out to us for some help. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if we’re not in when you make that call, we’ll call you back the next time we’re in the studio.
Happy Holidays. 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.)