- Affordable Home Projects: Home upgrades can be expensive, but we’ve got 7 affordable home improvement projects that cost less than $1,000.
- Plaster Walls: Older homes have plaster walls instead of drywall, and cracks are common. Learn the right way to repair cracks in plaster walls.
- Garage Doors: Parking your car in the garage keeps snow and ice off the vehicle, but what happens if your garage door is frozen shut? Try these tips.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Frozen Pipes: Would a recirculating hot water system prevent pipes from freezing inside Julie’s old home? A better solution would be to blow insulation inside the walls to insulate the pipes.
- Tile Grout: Rust is seeping through the grout in a tile shower. The simplest thing Bill can do is replace it with some epoxy grout.
- Cleaning Laminate Flooring: Debra wants to know how to remove dried nail polish that spilled without damaging the laminate floor. Carefully using a small amount of nail polish remover should be fine.
- Wet Basement: Moisture in the basement is causing a bad odor throughout the house. Ed needs to improve the outside drainage, install a dehumidifier, and remove any paneling and carpet where bacteria may be lingering.
- Drain Odors: Joyce has a bad smell coming from her bathroom sink. She can kill bacteria by filling the sink with a bleach solution to run into the overflow holes or taking the trap apart and cleaning it well.
- Deck Tiles: The anti-slip coating on the deck is starting to wear off. Laura should check out the attractive composite tiles she can use to cover the deck instead.
- Clogged Toilet: Beth says the water in the toilet bowl is filling all the way to the top and emptying slowly. Sounds like a partial clog that needs to be cleared by a plumber.
- Sump Pump: Louis wants to know if his sump pump should be routed outside his house rather than into the sewer line. He’s correct and we recommend draining it at least 4 to 6 feet away from the foundation.
- Toilet Bowl Ring: A mysterious persistent black ring keeps returning in just one of Sparky’s toilets. We suspect there may be something different about the porcelain finish of that bowl and he might have to replace the toilet.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here for one reason and one reason only and that is to help you take on the projects you want to get done around your house or maybe plan some projects you’d like to do in the future. If you’ve got one in mind, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to MoneyPit.com and we will do our very best to help you out.
Coming up on today’s episode, do you have champagne home makeover dreams but only, sadly, a beer budget? Well, you don’t have to give up those dreams, because we’ve got tips on 7 – count them – 7 upgrades you can do with less than 1,000 bucks, coming up.
LESLIE: Alright. And plaster walls, they’re super common in older homes but cracks are almost as common after decades of settling. We’re going to share a trick of the trade to make repairing those cracks easy and fast.
TOM: And if you’ve been chipping away a lot of ice this winter, we’re going to share a trick of the trade to help make it disappear, especially when it happens to freeze a garage door shut. Tough way to start the day. We’re going to solve it.
LESLIE: For sure. But first, guys, what projects do you want to tackle this weekend? Are they big? Are they small? Whatever it is that you want to tackle but maybe you don’t know where to start or you don’t know the right supplies or you’re just stuck, well, we can help you out. So give us a call anytime.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974. Or you can post your questions by clicking the blue microphone button on MoneyPit.com and shoot us a voicemail.
Let’s get started. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Julie in Missouri, which is probably freezing just like everybody else in the United States of America has been this winter.
JULIE: Yeah, way below freezing. So, that’s part of my question. We have a couple of huge hot-water heaters: an 85-gallon and a couple of 50s. We have a bed-and-breakfast and the hot-water heaters are in the basement. And it seems like it’s always the people on the third floor that get up first. And so there’s a lot of water going down the drain of all that hot water. Plus, over the past couple of years, we’ve had frozen pipes and not the outside walls; it’s been in the middle of the room. Because the house was built in the 1800s, so they’re pretty drafty walls.
So, I remember somebody telling me once about some recirculating hot water so the pipes always have hot water in them. Maybe those hot-water pipes wouldn’t freeze.
TOM: Well, first of all, hot water is only half of the equation here. You know, you’re going to be running cold water up to those rooms, as well, correct? Like for a bathroom?
JULIE: Well, I guess. That’s why I’m calling you, because you’re the man.
TOM: Yeah. So I mean I would think recirculating hot water is not the solution here.
Look, if you’ve got frozen pipes or pipes that are – that tend to freeze, there’s really only a couple of things that you can do about this. And the most sensible thing is to insulate them.
Now, if it’s in an interior wall space and you know where that wall is, one thing that you could think about doing is adding blown-in insulation to the interior wall. Now, normally, you wouldn’t do this, right? Because why insulate an interior wall? But that would be a lot easier than tearing a wall open. You’ve got to get insulation on these pipes if they’re prone to freezing. And nothing else short of that is going to solve this.
I have, in my house, a kitchen sink that had a pipe that ran up the exterior wall. And invariably, in the coldest winters, it would freeze. The only solution there is to insulate the pipe. And when we couldn’t get to that pipe to insulate it, what we ended up doing was actually moving the lines to a different location so they would be less likely to freeze.
So there’s always a solution. It’s not always easy but you’ve got to insulate those, as a start. And if it’s an interior wall, I would simply blow insulation into that wall. That’s the fastest way to get some warmth around those pipes and stop them from freezing.
In terms of recirculating hot water, yes, there are ways to do that. But it tends to be very wasteful and I don’t think it would be cost-effective when you consider all of the electricity it takes to run that water 24/7. Plus, when you’re running that water back to the water heater, remember, your water heater is going to run more frequently, too, because it’s actually going to be heating a lot more water: not only the water that’s in the water heater but all that extra water that’s running through the pipes.
So I don’t think, from a cost-effective perspective – even though it seems like you’re wasting resources and wasting money and wasting water, I don’t think you’re wasting so much that it would be anywhere near a break-even for you to put in the equipment it would take to recirculate it.
JULIE: OK. Alright. Well, thanks. I appreciate it.
TOM: Julie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in Texas has a question about rusty grout in a bathroom project.
What’s going on?
BILL: Yes, ma’am. A couple of years ago, I put in a tile shower. I’d removed a fiberglass shower and I put in a tile shower. And the problem is – you know how you put the rubber barrier up like 42 or 48 inches? I put that up but I’m guessing that I should have used stainless-steel screws. Because in two spots, you can kind of detect a rust color kind of seeping through the grout? And I’m wondering if I should remove the grout and maybe try – they have that epoxy-based grout, if I should do that or if there’s – when I remove the grout, if there’s a product I should apply to kind of neutralize the rust.
Basically, that’s what’s going on. I’ve just – I’m decently handy, so I know I can remove the grout and everything but I’m just wondering what steps I should take to prevent the rust from coming back.
TOM: Well, the sand-based grout certainly is going to allow any rust stains to kind of permeate right through. Epoxy grout probably would not. That might be the simplest solution if it’s just minor surface rust. It’s a little bit late now to pull tile off and start changing fasteners, so I think that probably makes the most sense, Bill – would be just to remove the old grout with a grout saw and then regrout it with epoxy-based grout which, by the way, is a little harder to work with. So make sure you take your time, maybe practice off those bathroom walls before you apply it to it. But I think that’s probably the best solution in the short term.
BILL: Now, the – for automotive, they have POR-15 and different products to neutralize the rust. Is there anything like that that you – would it be worthwhile to even try to attempt that or is it not worth my time?
TOM: I’m not familiar with those products but my concern would be that if you got one, it’ll probably open up somewhere else along the way, so it’s kind of like you’re chasing a ghost after a while.
BILL: OK. So maybe try the epoxy grout and cross my fingers?
TOM: I would say so. I think there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to work out, Bill, OK?
BILL: OK. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Deborah in Georgia is on the line with a laminate question.
What can we do for you?
DEBORAH: I have some laminate floor covering that, unfortunately, some nail polish was spilled onto. It’s dried. It’s clear. But how can I get it up? Because you can see it at an angle but I’d really like for it to be gone.
TOM: Was there a story behind that accident?
DEBORAH: Yeah, my grandson picked up a bag and dropped it.
TOM: Bless his heart. Have you tried nail-polish remover?
DEBORAH: I was afraid to try it.
TOM: You know what? I have enough confidence in your laminate that I think that’s probably OK. But here’s what I would do. I would not soak it. I would put a little bit on a cotton ball or a little bit on a paper towel and then just work at it a little bit at a time.
TOM: But I bet you that’s probably the quickest way. That’s acetone. And that’s the quickest way, probably, to get that off of the floor.
DEBORAH: OK. Well, I didn’t know if the non-acetone nail polish might work even better. I don’t – I was afraid to try anything.
TOM: Yeah. Well, listen, if you’ve got a concern about it, what you could do is go to an area of the floor that’s not so visible, like maybe in a closet or underneath the kickboard or a piece of furniture and just try a little bit right there. I suspect it won’t have any effect on it, because that stuff is pretty tough.
DEBORAH: Well, great. That’s wonderful. That’s the best news I’ve had.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading out to Delaware where Ed has got a problem in the basement and some sort of mysterious odor.
What’s going on down there?
ED: I purchased a home back in 2015 of August. And about 3 months into it, I lost power in the basement and it turns out I had some moisture in the electrical outlets. So, those outlets have since been closed off and I was told I had to get them rewired. But apparently, there was some moisture coming in somewhere.
But ever since I purchased the home, I’m – there’s this odor that radiates from the basement and it’s just like a chemical odor. And it comes upstairs and literally gets in everything that’s – the clothes and everything. It goes with you to work and it stays in the clothes. I just can’t seem to get rid of it.
TOM: Is the basement unfinished, Ed?
ED: No. Unfortunately, it’s finished. It has paneling against the wall.
TOM: It has paneling?
TOM: And does it have carpets?
ED: Half the basement has carpet, yes. And the carpet seems dry and everything, so I was hoping it was something radiating from the carpet. But that seems to be OK. So my next option is basically to get a waterproofer in here and potentially have the basement gutted and finished, seal the walls.
TOM: You don’t want to do that. So, I do think that most likely source of the odor is simply dampness. And because it’s partially finished, the materials can – when they get wet, they can also hold bacteria and that can cause an odor. The carpet is absolutely terrible. That will hold dust and dust mites and dirt and can really contribute to the smell. But the solution is never, ever to call a basement waterproofer. Those guys generally install one kind of system and one kind of system only. And that’s a series of drains and pumps that pump water out.
But your problem can be easily resolved by doing two things. Number one, improving the drainage condition of the foundation perimeter. So, that means adding soil where it’s flat, sloping it away from the walls and that sort of thing. And secondly and even more importantly, looking at the gutter system, making sure the downspouts are clean, free-flowing and extending from the foundation perimeter at least 4 to 6 feet. So those two things will reduce the amount of moisture that collects at the perimeter. And that will reduce humidity in the basement and certainly reduce any chance of flooding.
Once that’s done, I would probably also opt to install a dehumidifier in the basement. And I would put in a good-quality dehumidifier, such as one from Santa Fe. They have some nice units that hang from the ceiling that really do an effective job at pulling moisture out. And you can set up that drain so it basically drains outside or to a condensate pump, so it’s not like you’re going to have to empty a pan of water now and again.
Then, at some point you’re going to have to decide what you want to do with that basement. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen paneling pulled off to find lots and lots of mold behind it. And that may or may not be the case there. But I think if you reduce the moisture in that basement, then I think you’ll find that a lot of the odor will dissipate.
ED: OK. And as far as the electrical outlets in that basement containing a little bit of moisture …
TOM: Condensation. It’s all related; it’s all the same issue. You’ve got a lot of condensation there.
TOM: Take a look at MoneyPit.com. Right on the home page, there’s a good article, one of the most popular ones on the site, about how to solve basement-moisture problems and flooding.
ED: OK. I will do.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Ed. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joyce in Alabama on the line who’s got a question about a sink odor.
What’s going on?
JOYCE: Well, this is in a bathroom sink. It’s about 25 years old. It’s a type that has three air-vent holes in it or overflow holes in it. And the odor seems to be emanating primarily from there. It’s a very musty odor and came down to that conclusion because I finally took some paper and stuffed up those holes. And things smelled much better in the bathroom that way.
TOM: Well, sometimes what happens is you’ll get some bacteria that will grow in that overflow trap. So, what I would suggest you do is this: that is to fill the sink up with hot water and add some bleach to it and let the bleach very slowly trickle over that overflow. And so it saturates it and hopefully, that will kill that mold or that bacteria.
Now, the other thing that you can do is you could take the bathroom-sink trap apart and clean it out with a bottle brush. Now, some of the traps today are just plastic. They’re easy to unscrew and put back together. Under the sink, sometimes you can clean that. And again, you get that biogas that forms in there. If you clean it with a bleach solution, that usually makes things smell a lot better in the bathroom. OK, Joyce?
JOYCE: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, no doubt, sometimes home improvements can cost a bundle but you might be surprised to learn how many can deliver a very large impact at a fraction of that big cost, including 7 that you can get done with less than 1,000 bucks.
LESLIE: Alright. So let’s start in the kitchen. Now, upgrading kitchen work surfaces, that’s an affordable home improvement because there’s several sleek, budget-friendly materials that you can choose from, including lots of green options like stainless steel, cast-concrete, even solid surfacing. And you can update your cabinet hardware, maybe add some new paint and your kitchen is going to look brand-new.
TOM: And then there’s the bath. Usually a very expensive update but just add some accessories to your bathroom and you can increase water savings, comfort and safety, especially if you plan on being in your home for a while. These could include, for example, easy-to-grasp door and cabinet hardware, rocker light switches, grab-bars and water-saving shower fixtures or even a water-saving toilet.
LESLIE: Yeah. And then, guys, there’s my secret décor weapon. I’m talking about paint. You know, paint really is just so underrated. It’s the easiest, cheapest and most transformative home improvement product out there, so use it. I mean seriously. You can pick any color under the rainbow or any tone thereof and completely change the look and feel of any space in your home. I know it’s overwhelming. There’s lots of colors. But take the time, bring home swatches, paint a little bit on the wall, look at it over the course of a couple of days and I promise you, it’s going to make a huge difference.
TOM: And while you’re at it, organize. You can organize to create more spaces and less clutter. Improvements like shelving and safe stowing zones are a very inexpensive way to convert a crammed garage into a place where you can actually park a car.
Oh, my God. Park a car in a garage. What will they think of next? And easily access all that gear.
LESLIE: Next, you’ve got to move outside. Now, outdoor living is huge. Now, building a small deck or patio, whatever. Brick, natural stone, even cement pavers can expand both your living space and your home’s value. You could also update landscaping or even upgrade your front entry door. All of this adds major curb appeal.
TOM: And a great way to stretch your dollar is to make improvements that save money, like upgrading your home’s insulation. These are really easy and cost-effective improvements we’re talking about, guys. They’re going to give you a big bang for your buck for many years to come.
LESLIE: Laura in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LAURA: We have a deck on the back of our house that we, about 2 years ago, put a product on it that makes it like an anti-slip texture? And the coating is starting to chip off in big chunks, so we were thinking about using that DECKOVER or OVERDECK, I think it’s called?
And when we were at Home Depot, we noticed that they have something else that was an option. They’re actually foot-squared tiles. They’re like a thick rubber that you actually use a glue to adhere onto the deck and then you cover your deck that way. My concern is if you apply that onto the deck, will that rot the wood?
TOM: Well, Laura, I’m not familiar with rubber tiles but there are polypropylene tiles or plastic tiles or composite tiles that are on the market that are designed to cover old decks. And the way these work is they sit on top of the deck boards and they usually lock together. And some of them are quite attractive. There’s a product called Coverdeck that comes in dozens of different colors and shapes and designs that could look really neat. And it’s not going to be slippery and it’s going to look great.
I am concerned if you’re gluing something down to the wood deck, I agree that something like rubber glued to wood is bound to let some water underneath and it’s certainly not going to evaporate. These composite tiles or the plastic tiles usually have a bit of space under them which allows the wood to breathe and dry out. And then really, that’s the issue: if you hold water against it, you will get decay.
So I would take a look at some of the tile products that allow you to cover these decks and probably avoid anything that’s rubbery that you’re going to glue down.
LAURA: OK. So the glue is OK as long as there’s a gap or some sort of gap between the wood?
TOM: It’s OK to cover it as long as there’s air space so it dries out.
LAURA: OK, perfect. Alright. Thank you.
LESLIE: Heading to Minnesota where Beth is doing some work in the bathroom.
And you want some toilet help. What’s going on?
BETH: Toilet kept running. The water kept running into it, so I decided to install a new fill valve and flapper. And I measured everything and I followed the instructions and I did solve the original problem. But now I developed a new one. When I flush it, the water goes into the bowl OK, except now anything in the bowl goes to the top of the bowl, almost to the rim. And then when the tank itself is filled, then the bowl goes down slowly and it flushes but then it only leaves a little water in the bowl.
So I called the manufacturer and talked to them. He said, “Well, try plunging it because it might be a clog.” So I did that. I tried hot water and bleach to see if I could get that if it is a clog. And nothing has worked. And I don’t know what to do. I give up.
LESLIE: That’s what happens, typically, in a clog is it’ll fill to the top and then the tank will fill and then it’ll – the suction force will just bring everything down.
TOM: Yeah. And the ones that are the trickiest to diagnose is when you have a partial clog where you have some water that’s getting past but not a lot. So I wonder if something is lodged in either the trap of the toilet or the line beyond that. And really, the next step is to have a plumber come out and do a drain-cleaning on that.
I’ll tell you a funny story about how this happened when my kids were younger. We had a toilet that was clogged in a downstairs bathroom and I – outside this bathroom, we had a willow tree. And I knew that the willow-tree roots used to get into the plumbing line, so I immediately assumed that that was what it was. And I went outside and dug up my yard and found the pipe cleanout, which was a couple of feet below the surface. And I snaked one way and snaked the other way and I couldn’t find any clog.
So, I thought, “Well, maybe it’s between the pipe break and the toilet.” So I decided to pull the toilet off. And don’t you know that when I did that, I turned it over and noticed something blue in the bottom of the toilet. And of course, you’re not supposed to have anything blue in a ceramic toilet. It turned out to be a little toy telephone that one of my kids had dropped down there that was letting just enough water through to trick us.
And so you never know what’s going to be in there. And if you have a partial obstruction like that, that could explain for what’s happening.
BETH: OK. Well, the only thing I can do then is to get a plumber?
TOM: Yep. You don’t want a carpenter, that’s for sure.
Beth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, long before we had walls of drywall, plaster was really the material of choice for wall and ceiling construction. But often, older homes will settle and that allows cracks to form in the plaster. And just kind of painting over those cracks really solves nothing. And tearing off all that plaster to redo is time-consuming and it can be really expensive. But there is a way that you can repair those plaster walls.
TOM: Yeah, that’s true. There really is only one correct way to make repairs to plaster walls that will really last and look good.
So, let’s start by describing kind of how plaster and lath, which are the wood strips that are under the plaster, are constructed. The lath is laid over framing. So, think of lath as kind of like those wood sticks that you use to support tomatoes and plants in your garden. They’re like an inch-and-a-half wide and maybe a quarter-or-so-inch thick. Well, those are nailed up across the framing. And then the plasterer – yes, at one time, there was a job called a “plasterer” – the plasterer would push the plaster through the lath to force it kind of out the back. And when it sort squished out the back, it sort of formed a hook that grabbed onto the lath and that’s what held up the walls and the ceilings.
LESLIE: Yeah. But what about the cracks? I mean what really is the best way for you to repair those?
TOM: Well, the reason the cracks fail is because with that plaster sort of squished through the lath, well, it gets loose, it breaks and then the plaster starts to separate from the lath. And that’s when, especially if it’s in the ceiling, it can get really loose and actually fall down. It could even hurt somebody if it’s a big enough piece.
So, here’s how you basically fix it before it gets that bad. What you want to do is use a masonry bit and drill holes along the sides, along both sides of the crack. And you use the masonry bit so that you don’t drill through the lath. Now, if you hit a void, which is sort of between the strips of lath, just move the bit to the left or the right and make sure you have enough holes in that area. Then grab a vacuum cleaner, clean out all that loose debris from the drill sites.
And then what you’re going to want to do is apply an adhesive that comes in a tube, kind of similar to caulk. You cut that tip of that tube at the end and then insert that tip into the drilled hole and basically squish in as much of it as you can. And mark where it stops so you can cut the tip off of the tube exactly to the size you need. One good squeeze in each hole is probably going to be all that you’ll need and then just wipe off the excess.
LESLIE: Alright. But now that you’ve kind of got that repair in place, how do you know that it’s really adhering to that lath and holding on?
TOM: Ah, that’s a good question. There’s one more step and that you need to tighten it up with screws. It’s something called a “plaster washer.” So, think of a fender washer, which is a really wide washer with a small hole, except made of plastic. And you put a screw through it and that wider plastic washer pulls the plaster in tight and it holds it in place while it’s drying.
Now, you can either remove the screws and the plaster washer when the wall is dry – when that glue is dry – or you could leave them in place. Because some of them are designed to be very flat and actually countersunk a bit so that you can kind of spackle right over it. But once it’s solid, then you can add some spackling tape and then a couple of coats of spackle on top of that and it should stay and not move again.
Problem is that people just try to throw plaster on top of that or throw spackle on top of it or tape over it without fixing the loose plaster underneath. And then it just continues to move and it never solves a thing. But that’s the way to fix it once, fix it right and you don’t have to deal with it again.
TOM: Until the next crack forms, which is going to happen in an old house. We call it “charm.”
LESLIE: Louis, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LOUIS: I have a question regarding a sump pump – drainage water. The previous owner has it routed to the sewer line going to the bathroom in the basement. That’s where the sump pump is, also. And I was wondering, should I reroute that to the outside of the house or should it – is it OK where it is?
TOM: Well, you’re technically not supposed to connect a sump pump to a sewer line. You’re correct in that it’s supposed to go outside the house. Part of the issue is that if you don’t have a check valve, for sure, if you have any backup in the sewer, it can come right straight back up into the sump pump and that’s not going to be a pleasant situation.
So, it would be preferable that it drain outside and at least 4 to 6 feet away from your foundation of your home so it doesn’t drop water back against the foundation wall.
LOUIS: OK, then. Well, I did put a check valve in the – I put a heavy-duty sump pump in it and it requires you to put a check valve in it, which I did. But they put a flex hose from there to the sewer line into the wall and I’m not comfortable with that. And I didn’t think it should go there but thanks for that. I’ll take care of that.
TOM: Yeah. And you are correct. So make sure you repair the sewer line when you pull that hose out, OK?
LOUIS: I will do that. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, storing your car in a garage can help keep it frost-free but the same can’t be said for the garage door. And they often become stuck in super-cold weather and that’s going to trap you and your car inside. So, if you find yourself frozen in, first try disconnecting that automatic garage-door opener and then try to open it manually.
TOM: Now, if that doesn’t work, don’t force it or you could damage the door. What you want to do is spray a lock deicer along the bottom of the door. And if you don’t happen to have one, you can use WD-40 as a deicing tool and that’s another one of its many uses. You can also pour lukewarm water along the base, then slide a putty knife between the rubber bottom and the concrete slab to kind of break away any remaining ice that has stuck that door to the concrete floor.
LESLIE: Sparky in Georgia is on the line with a question about cleaning a bathroom.
How can we help you today?
SPARKY: I live in a subdivision, about 65 employees out in the country. I actually test the water on a daily basis for the chlorine and report that at the end of the month to the local provider. I’ve got a two-bedroom house. In one bathroom, I’ve got no problem with the water in the tank or the bowl. In the master bedroom, I’ve got the bath where it’s got a black ring – water ring. And I’ve replaced the water line, the inside of the water tank, replaced the entire bowl and it continues to come up. Even after we clean the bowl, we still get that black water ring.
LESLIE: So you’re able to remove it but it comes back.
SPARKY: That’s correct.
TOM: And it only shows up on that bathroom and not others.
SPARKY: That’s correct. And the products that we’ve gotten from the – off the store shelf have not been able to help, either. And we’ve actually gone to the internet and it says the more chlorine you put in it, the more that black ring will come back. But we’ve cleaned the bath – both bathrooms with the same products.
TOM: Are the toilets the same age?
SPARKY: The same age, yes. I’ve called the water company and they said they don’t have a clue. And I said I’d sampled the water and tested it every day for the monthly reports.
TOM: I wonder if there’s something different about the porcelain finish on that toilet. For example, if it – if one toilet’s finish was – maybe it was scrubbed more over the years and as a result, it’s worn off some of its porcelain so it’s a bit more porous and becomes more of a trap for bacteria to kind of grow in. And I’m speculating here. I’m kind of shooting from the hip, Sparky, because I know that you’ve tried all of the – all the sort of normal things. But it’s confusing that it happens just in this one particular bathroom with this one particular toilet.
I guess, given everything that you’ve done, have you considered just replacing the toilet and seeing if that does it?
SPARKY: Well, that we’ve done. In fact, I’ve got to go back and – you may be onto something. Because one bowl is round, which is the one issue that we’ve got. The other bathroom is oblong. So they work – same manufacturer but two different bowls.
TOM: That would be the only thing that seems left, because you’ve done everything else.
SPARKY: I was just wondering if there was some product on the market, other than Coca-Cola.
TOM: Yeah. Look, there’s a lot of products that clean this but it’s not going to stop it from coming back. The go-to product for me is CLR. Have you used that yet?
SPARKY: No, I have not.
TOM: So that’s an old standby. Take a look at CLR Calcium – it stands for Calcium, Lime and Rust. It basically is the – one of the best toilet-bowl cleaners out there. Inexpensive. And give that a shot. But if it continues to develop that issue, I might consider replacing the toilet if it’s really bothersome. Either that or get one of those Ty-D-Bol men with the blue dye so you just don’t notice it.
SPARKY: Correct. Yeah, there you go. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Sparky. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rick reached out to Team Money Pit and he says, “I have vinyl floors in my kitchen and bathroom that I want to replace. One option that I’m considering is tiling over top of the vinyl but I don’t know if that’s possible. The other option is using a vinyl wood-looking floating floor. I know that can be done but I would prefer to use some type of tile.”
TOM: You know, some people just love tile. Even though we have so many amazing floor products today, they really just love that ceramic tile. So, your question is: “Can I tile over top of the vinyl?” You can’t tile over top of the vinyl because the ceramic tile will not stick to it. But assuming that the floor is strong enough – and by strong enough, I mean kind of stiff enough. Because remember, if you put tile down on a subfloor that is too soft, the tile is going to crack and crack very quickly. So, depending on how that subfloor is built, you may do something as simple as put a layer of plywood down on top of the old vinyl and then tile over that.
But remember, you’re talking about a kitchen here and if you’ve got a dishwasher, that means you need to make sure there’s enough room from the new height of that tile floor to the underside of that countertop to slide the dishwasher in and out. Otherwise, you’ll be kind of tiling your dishwasher in place, which actually happened once. Not that we tiled something in but my sister had bought a house where her dishwasher failed and we had to get it out. And I got there thinking that it was going to be an easy removal and replacement and then I looked at the tile floor. I’m like, “Oh, man,” and realized what the guy had done. They had put a 1-inch mud-job tile floor, which was a great tile floor but it was so high, you literally could not get the dishwasher out.
You know what we had to do? We had to pull the sink and pull the countertop up off of those cabinets in order to lift that dishwasher up and out of that hole, which is where it’d become and get the new one installed.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s a big pain in the butt.
TOM: It was a huge pain in the butt. So, that’s one to keep in mind as you consider these options. But really the easiest thing today, if you decide that you can live without tile, you really need to look at the new vinyl-plank floor and the new stone-hybrid floors that are out there, because they are incredibly durable. Beautiful, waterproof, durable. Just a lot better and a lot nicer than anything you would imagine vinyl could be. And you may find one that you really, really like as a result and save yourself a heck of a lot of work.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, while we’re on the topic of tile, Emily has got a question and she says, “I have a gas fireplace that’s surrounded by 12-inch by 12-inch flat ceramic tiles. Is there a way to adhere new tiles on top of the existing ones to avoid having to remove the old tiles?”
TOM: Well, definitely. I mean see while you can’t, in the first case, glue tiles to vinyl, you certainly can glue new tiles to old tiles. Tile installers do it all the time. Just make sure you offset the seam so that they’re not lining up. That’ll make that a little bit of a stronger installation and it’s definitely the easiest way to get that done. As long as the thickness doesn’t become an issue.
LESLIE: You know, Emily, there’s so many choices of tile out there and you’re probably going to go with something that’s similarly sized. And if that’s the case, you’re going to end up with a sanded grout. And you want to make sure that you seal the grout, just in case these tiles are on the hearth and they get extra dirty. This way, it’ll keep it looking nice and clean. But so many choices out there. I think you’re going to have a great time redesigning this fireplace.
TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show and we are so glad you are. We hope that you’ve picked up a trick or two that’s going to help you improve your space. And if you’ve got questions and could not get through to us today, we apologize. But remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or better yet, use our brand-new voicemail by clicking on the blue microphone button on MoneyPit.com. You can record your question to us and we will do our best to answer it in the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2023 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.)
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