- Do you feel like your A/C just isn’t doing the job it should? We’ll share a trick of the trade you can use to test your air conditioning, so you’ll know exactly how well it’s performing, or if it’s wasting your cold hard cash.
- Painting is a project that’s among the most basic of DIY projects, and one most homeowners are happy to tackle themselves. But it’s also a project that can go terribly wrong if you don’t take just three steps before you start. We’ll share important painting tips.
- Do summertime allergies have you hacking and sneezing on even the sunniest of days? We’ll share five things you can do inside your home to breathe easy all summer long. Does having a solar energy system really improve the value of your home? Solar energy sellers will universally say yes, but we think otherwise and explain why.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- How to deal with high humidity and moisture in your home?
- What might be the reason why your exterior door isn’t quite sealed?
- What product to use when resurfacing a concrete driveway?
- Is it smart to replace an oil-fired water heater with an electric one?
- How to change your two prong outlets to three prongs?
- How to apply wood paneling to your wall for a rustic style?
- What causes smelly sink drains and how to deal with it?
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 take on the projects you’d like to get done to maybe be independent from home improvement. Hope you guys have enjoyed the Independence Holiday and are still in that sort of relaxing mode and thinking about projects you want to get done in the warm weather ahead. Whatever’s on your to-do list, slide it over to ours by picking up the phone and calling us. Couple of ways to get in touch with us: you can dial us at 888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, it’s been hot – I mean really hot – across the nation. And do you feel like your A/C just isn’t doing the job it should? Well, we’re going to share with you a home inspector’s trick of the trade that I used for years to quickly tell whether or not the air conditioning is up to snuff or not. It’s really simple, it’s DIY, it requires almost no tools and it can save you a bunch of cold, hard cash.
LESLIE: And also ahead, when it comes to maintaining your home, painting is a project that’s among the most basic of DIY projects out there and one which a lot of homeowners are super happy to tackle themselves. But it’s also a project that can go terribly wrong if you just don’t take those three steps before you start. What are they? We’re going to share those three steps, in a bit, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
TOM: Plus, do summertime allergies have you hacking and sneezing even on the sunniest of days? Did you think that maybe once the spring passed, that was going to pass as well? Well, not so much. We’re going to share five things you can do inside your home to breathe easy all summer long.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness, I cannot wait for these allergies to end. I feel like it’s just a different version of phlegm for the entire summer/spring.
TOM: Allergies 2.0.
LESLIE: Allergies aside, guys, we can still do home improvements even if we’re sneezing and hacking. So let us know what you are working on. It’s a big summer. Everybody’s anxious to get together and get outside and we’ve all been looking at our homes a lot. So, what can we do to help you make yours better? Whatever it is, give us a call.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Gail in Massachusetts is on the line and suspects that there could be mold afoot at The Money Pit. What’s going on?
GAIL: My den has a moldy kind of smell to it but mostly after it rains. And I don’t know if there’s a device that can be used to put it up against – the device against the wall to see if there’s any moisture or mold or anything like that.
TOM: So your den smells damp after it rains. OK. How is your den constructed? Is it on a concrete slab or is it on a crawlspace or a basement?
GAIL: It’s right above my garage.
TOM: Well, you’re probably getting a lot of humidity from that garage that’s working its way up into that space. So it’s not totally surprising.
TOM: Think necessarily what you’re smelling is mold. It could be some mold in there but I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion. It might just be the dampness and the humidity as it passes through the building materials, getting up in that space and just leaving some odors behind. I think ventilation is a solution for you here and probably better air conditioning and perhaps even some dehumidification.
You have a central air-conditioning system?
GAIL: I do.
TOM: So there’s a whole-home dehumidifier that can be added to that that will speed up the amount of moisture that it will take out. Because, you know, air conditioners will take out moisture but what happens is they tend to not take out enough. And sometimes, it can still feel kind of clammy. But a whole-house dehumidifier does it all and it’ll take out – most whole-house dehumidifiers can take out 100 quarts of water a day. And that can be built right into the system.
LESLIE: And you know what? The other ones rely on the owner to empty them, make sure it’s set to the right humidistat. It’s much better to have the whole-house one.
GAIL: Yeah, yeah. Because I have one in my basement right now that I keep emptying.
TOM: Yeah, that’s way too much work. You don’t have to do that.
And by the way, the fact that you have moisture in the basement and you have this up above the garage, you may want to look at just, generally speaking, all of the drainage sources around the outside of your house. Because if your gutters are clogged, if your downspouts aren’t extended away, if the soil around the house is too flat, you’re basically holding a lot of water against that foundation perimeter. And that could be a problem because that’s going to lead to dampness, humidity and potentially even flooding.
GAIL: Oh, OK. So, we don’t really have a water problem in our basement but I’m wondering if the – so if I just make sure the gutters are cleared out …
TOM: Well, let me just stop you right there. The fact that you have to use a dehumidifier that collects enough water that has to be dumped, that is a water problem, OK? You’re just not seeing it yet, OK? So you do have a water problem; you just don’t know it.
GAIL: Yeah, yeah. And also, the washer and dryer are in the closet of the den. And I didn’t know whether – it was just recently installed. And so I didn’t know whether that was kind of a problem, because it almost smells like kind of a bathroom.
TOM: Yeah. I think you’ve got to stop chasing these smells down and start dealing with the core issue, which is the high humidity and the moisture. I think that’s going to solve it all.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JIM: Well, I’ve got a couple of exterior doors in the garage I added onto my house. And I’m getting water coming inside the doors. And two of them are coming through the latch-side bottom corner. I’ve tried siliconing the threshold up to where it meets the jamb. Tried running a little bead of silicone in there to seal that up but I can’t seem to find where it is coming in at. But every time it rains and if there’s a breeze and pushing the rain against the latch side of the door, it’s running down and coming to the inside.
TOM: I’ve seen that kind of thing before. It’s very frustrating. You’re talking about a standard exterior door, not an overhead door, right? You’re talking about one that has hinges?
JIM: Right. Yeah. An exterior walk-through door. Yep.
TOM: The first thing I would check is to make sure the door is perfectly hung. And by that, I mean it has an even reveal top, side, bottom. And then looking under the door, sometimes with a flashlight you can see gaps. So if you use a flashlight at the saddle, you could shine it on one side and look underneath and see if there’s any gaps there.
The type of weather-stripping you have is the kind that kind of looks like what’s on a refrigerator door?
JIM: Yeah, yeah. It’s that – the style or old style, whatever you want to call it, yeah.
TOM: That’s actually pretty durable.
Now, does this door open into the garage or does it open out to the backyard?
TOM: So, pretty much like a standard door.
Well, listen, if you don’t find anything there, I think you’re going to have to go with a storm door, because it’s definitely breaking down with the weather-stripping.
JIM: I’m going to have to give that a try.
TOM: Alright? Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
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LESLIE: Karen in Texas is on the line with a driveway that is just cracking up. What’s going on?
KAREN: My home was built in the late 1970s. And that’s what’s going on – is my driveway has just gotten full of cracks and everything. So, when I was looking into replacing – tearing it out and replacing the concrete – I had someone suggest to me that there’s some newer products on the market that you can overlay over top of the concrete.
TOM: Yeah. So, this is a concrete surface, right? We’re not talking about asphalt. It’s definitely concrete?
KAREN: Definitely concrete.
TOM: Alright. Now, the cracks that you’re seeing, is the driveway sagging or is it – just have these sort of fissures in it? I’m asking you this question because I want to know if it’s structurally unstable. Because no matter what you put over it, if it’s got a weak base, it’s just going to continue to move and crack. It’ll look better but it’ll still do that.
KAREN: I wouldn’t say it’s unstable. There are quite a few that run. They’re not small, short ones. They’ve gotten pretty big. There is one area at the bottom of the driveway, by the street, that seems to have had a little bit of a collapse.
TOM: Shift? Yeah.
KAREN: Nothing you can’t – yeah. Nothing that can’t be dealt with.
TOM: Alright. So, here’s what I would do. There’s a new product out just this year from QUIKRETE. It’s called Re-Cap. And it’s a really interesting product because they’ve designed a product that will absolutely bind to old concrete and not separate.
And it’s fairly simple to apply. You put it on. You wet the – you clean the concrete, you put it on. And when the concrete’s wet – and you work it, smooth it out. You trowel it out. You can use a squeegee. You can use a broom to give it a bit of a broom finish. And then the whole thing dries in just a few hours. I think that would be a great addition.
In terms of the end of the driveway, where it reaches the street, that’s the part we call the “apron.” What I would recommend you do there is to go ahead and tear that out. You can pick up a few bags of QUIKRETE and mix it up in a wheelbarrow and repour that. And this way, you can make sure it’s nice and thick and structurally stable. And then even sort of extend the Re-Cap color onto that so it’ll all look like one piece when it’s all done.
But I think that that’s probably the best. Because if the concrete continues to move – and by that I mean sort of shift a little bit, expand and contract, freeze/thaw cycle, whatever – those cracks will show back up. But most of them will be filled in by the Re-Cap product. I think you’ll like how it works.
KAREN: Awesome. That was what I was hoping to hear, because it’s got to be a whole lot less expensive than having it torn out and completely repoured.
TOM: Well, absolutely. And by the way, there’s one other option, too. If you’d love to have a paver driveway, there’s a new paver out from Pavestone. It’s called Milano. And what’s cool about these Milano pavers is they’re half the thickness of a normal paver. And they’re designed specifically to go over old concrete patio and driveway surfaces.
So, you could look into those, as well. Probably a little more expensive – ah, probably a lot more expensive – than the Re-Cap product. But it looks absolutely gorgeous when it’s done and you really can’t tell that it’s not a full-thickness paver when you see it.
So there’s two options for you.
KAREN: OK. Awesome. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, is your air conditioning on but the house just doesn’t seem to be getting cool? There is a quick and easy way to check if everything is working OK without calling in a pro.
TOM: Yeah, this is a trick that I used for years as professional home inspector, when I had to go in and figure out very quickly whether or not the air conditioning was working properly or not. And just feeling the temperature in the house is really too subjective.
So, what you do is you take a thermometer – like a refrigerator thermometer, one of those really simple thermometers – and you stick it in the register – the supply register – that is probably closest to the air conditioner itself. So, if you’ve got air blowing out of a register, put it in there.
And then the second thing you do, after you take that temperature, is you move it to the return or maybe just near the thermostat and you take the room temperature. Now, if there’s a difference of between 15 and 20 degrees between those two readings – in other words, between the temperature of the air in the house and the temperature that’s coming out of the supply – you are good to go. But if it’s like 8, 10, maybe 12, that means that the air conditioner is not cooling properly. Sure, it’s running and sure, you maybe feel comfortable inside the house but it has to run a lot longer to do the same thing and that’s why it drives up your cooling bills.
So, measure the temperature of the air at the supplies and at the returns, look to the difference – figure out the difference – and if it’s less than 15 to 20 degrees, you know that you’ve got some maintenance that has to get done and you should contact your HVAC company.
LESLIE: Stuart in Rhode Island has got a water-heating question for us. What can we do for you today?
STUART: Had an oil-fired, hot-water heater – a separate oil-fired, hot-water heater – separate from the oil burner. And it finally went bad after 13 years. I guess that was a good time period. And my plumber is urging me to replace it with an electric hot-water heater with a timer on it. It’s much more cheaper to do that than buy a – to replace the oil-fired, hot-water heater that I had. But I’m just wondering, are there any negatives to it?
TOM: Well, it’s a little more expensive to run than oil but as you say, it’s a lot less expensive to buy. I’m actually surprised that it only lasted 13 years, because oil-fired water heaters seem to last a lot longer than standard water heaters. If you’ve still got the warranties, the standard water heaters – the electric water heaters – may have a 5-year warranty on the tank, maybe a 10-year warranty on the tank. But I’ve found that oil-fired water heaters last 20 to 25 years on a regular basis. So the fact that it failed at 13 is just plain bad luck.
I have nothing against the idea of you putting an electric water heater and saving some money there, as long as you are using it with a timer. It won’t last probably as long as what I would have thought your oil water heater would have lasted but it will save you some money.
I presume your house also has oil heat. Is that correct?
STUART: It does.
TOM: And is it hot air or hot water?
STUART: It’s hot air.
TOM: It’s hot air. OK. Yeah, so the water heater is completely stand-alone. Yeah, so I think it’s a potential – I don’t really have a strong feeling one way or the other. It’s really a personal preference. But if you want to save some money, there’s no problem putting – there’s no reason not to put the electric water heater as long as it’s sized properly and it is on a timer. Because, of course, you only want that to run when you have to.
Water heaters are dumb; they heat the water, 24-7, whether you use it or not. So you want to make sure that it’s properly insulated and the timer is set up so it’s not running all night long when you don’t really need it running.
STUART: Right. OK. Any idea how many hours I should probably have that shut off?
TOM: Well, what I would do is I would shut it off kind of after you’re done with your evening cleaning tasks, because the water will stay warm for a while. So, if you like to shower and bathe at night, whenever that part of the evening is done, that’s when you want to shut it down. Then bring it on about an hour before you wake up in the morning.
If you leave to go to work on a regular basis, you can turn it off while you’re away at work. But if you’re home or you work from home and you need it on during the day, you might have to skip that cycle. But the key time to have it off is in the middle of the night.
STUART: OK. Very good, then. I think I’ll stick with it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: James in Illinois is on the line and looking to tackle an electrical project. What are you working on?
JAMES: I have a – oh, probably a 50-year-old house. And everywhere, except my bathroom and my kitchen, I’m dealing with a two-prong outlet. And I’m just using these adapters, that are three-prong adapters, everywhere else. And I absolutely hate it.
And I don’t even know where to begin getting them fixed. I’m kind of not wanting to go the route with an electrician but the thought of doing something and doing it wrong and then having an even bigger mess scares me.
TOM: Yeah, you want to hire a pro. You don’t enough conductors for a three-prong; you don’t have the ground wire in the type of wiring system that was put in. Now, there’s a way to kind of get around it. You can install ground-fault outlets that have the ability, if they’re wired correctly, to basically shut off the outlet if there’s ever a diversion of current to a ground source, which is basically what happens when you get a shock. But even that needs to be done by a pro.
So I would have an electrician come in, look it over and figure out the easiest way to resolve it. I think it’s probably easier than you think. Electricians are pretty good at being able to run new wiring through finished walls and ceilings without disturbing a lot of the structure.
JAMES: Oh, that was my biggest fear was that it’s going to be a big mess but …
TOM: Yeah, they don’t have to tear it all out to do that. There’s different tools that can snake wires through those spaces, OK?
JAMES: OK. Great. Thank you.
TOM: So, Les, I had a home improvement project to take on in my kitchen this weekend.
TOM: I noticed that the kitchen faucet was not delivering the water flow – the water pressure – that we had been used to. And honestly, it wasn’t great to begin with at that one faucet, which just happens to be one of these fancy American Standard faucets. Which is a really well-made faucet except it’s got, you know, built-in water savers and all that stuff. And it just takes a long time to fill up a pot of water but it was getting worse and worse and worse. So I’m like, “Alright. I’ve got to get into this.”
So, I unscrewed the aerator. That’s that little screen part that’s at the front of the faucet.
LESLIE: Right, right.
TOM: It was the most complicated aerator assembly I’d ever seen. It was three levels …
LESLIE: And you’d better take it apart and put it down in the order that you’ve taken it apart from so you know how to put it back together.
TOM: Oh, yeah. There was a lot of gunk in there but it had the teeniest, tiniest holes I’ve ever seen. And so, what I did was I got the big stuff out and then I soaked it in vinegar for about a couple of hours. That did the trick. The vinegar melted away all of those mineral deposits. And just gave it a quick brush and I’m telling you, when I put it back, I had three times the water pressure after that. Three times.
LESLIE: It’s really amazing.
TOM: Saved myself a lot of trouble with that vinegar trick
LESLIE: Janet in South Carolina is working on a kitchen makeover. How can we help you?
JANET: I have a kitchen. It’s not a very large kitchen but the walls have been painted numerous times and not the best paint jobs. So, I have decided to possibly add some type of wood to kind of give it a rustic feel, because I really like that, on the entire walls of the kitchen. And I was wondering, could you suggest to me something I could use? I’ve had people suggest beadboard, the wainscot-type board. Could you suggest to me something to use on my walls to give it that rustic look?
LESLIE: Let’s talk about your style of rustic, because there’s so many different ways to interpret that. And beadboard’s a great way to do a really classic, more country look, especially if you paint it a white gloss. That just tends to be really clean. But if you’re looking for more something – you know, something more natural or an age-y piece of wood, there’s ways to do that, too.
JANET: That’s it. I want to go with a light, natural-looking wood. Not too light because my cabinets are the lighter color of wood.
LESLIE: Well, what you can do is you can actually get – and this would have a nice finish to it. You can look at flooring – wood-plank flooring. And you can get one that has sort of a white, rustic, beachy wash to it. And you can even go with a vinyl flooring, because that’s going to be super easy to install. And you can install the planks directly to your wall. And you can do that with an adhesive, you can do that with a double-sided tape. There’s so many different ways you can attach it to the wall, depending on the weight of the product itself. And that – if you put that on with the planks running vertically or horizontally, that can give a different kind of rustic look in comparison to the beadboard.
Now, it seems to me like you want to go floor to ceiling with this. Is this correct?
JANET: That’s right. I do. Now, I do have cabinets that do not go all the way up to the ceiling.
LESLIE: Well, I think that’s OK, because you’re generally dealing with maybe a foot to 18 inches of space up there. And that’s really not terrible. You can keep that as a painted surface and just decorate up there with some very clean baskets or something just to give you a little bit of extra storage, plus to mask that space a little bit. But I think the beadboard is an excellent idea and that’s a very easy do-it-yourself project.
Using a wood-flooring product, whether it’s vinyl or actual wood, there’s a company – Tom, is it Timberchic, I think, is the name?
TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm. That’s right.
LESLIE: And they do actual pieces of reclaimed lumber, almost like a veneer. And that you can attach to the walls. But I’ve done it with that VCR: that vinyl tile that looks like a wood plank. I’ve done that for an HGTV show in a variety of different finishes, horizontally on the wall. And that gives a great, rustic look. So it depends on what your interpretation of rustic is.
JANET: OK, OK. Would you suggest now – would you suggest to put it over the cabinets, also? Or you stated to possibly leave it just painted? Or could I cover that, also?
LESLIE: You can. If you feel confident – if you’re using a wood-flooring planking product, you’re probably going to get two or three pieces in there without having to do any cuts. If you’re doing a beadboard, that’s something you’re going to have to cut down to that exact height and put up there. It depends on how much of it you see from the floor and what you feel comfortable with. I think if you’re going to do it, do it full out. But if you’re not confident in your abilities or it’s too high or you don’t really see it, then I think there’s other ways to mask it with some decorative accessories.
JANET: OK. I understand. OK, great. Well, thank you for your ideas.
TOM: You’re welcome, Janet. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, when it comes to maintaining your home, painting or even staining wood surfaces is important to keep your siding and trim in good shape. But while painting is a task that’s among the most basic of DIY projects, it’s also one where simple mistakes can lead to big heartache. So we’ve got some tips to help, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: So, first up, the most important step to a long-lasting paint project is preparation. Don’t be in such a hurry to slap on some paint; your patience will be rewarded. If you’ve got weathered surfaces, they need to be cleaned, any loose paint removed before you even think about opening a can a paint. If not, that new paint simply won’t stick. I mean yeah, it’ll stick for a little while but it’ll start peeling off within months. And talk about heartbreak, after you go through all that work, see that paint just falling off the surfaces, that’s something that can really bum you out.
LESLIE: Yeah. You’re just going to have to do it all again.
So, next up, it’s really smart to apply a coat of primer first, because primer is really formulated differently than paint and it’s meant to be a finished coat, that paint itself. So the primer’s going to have better adhesion, it’s going to stick better to those old surfaces and that’s what’s going to prevent the new paint from peeling.
TOM: Yeah. And finally, if you want a really nice, finished look, be sure to choose the right kind of paintbrush. I know it seems like any paintbrush will do. And sure, any brush will hold paint. But if you follow that logic, you could paint with a hairbrush. You want to make sure you use a good-quality, natural-bristle brush. They’re best for applying oil-based paints. If you have latex, use synthetic-bristle brushes.
These give you the best results. They help maintain the value of your home. The paint goes on evenly, it doesn’t look lumpy, it doesn’t leave brushstrokes and you’ll really be rewarded for your efforts.
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: Dave in Iowa has got an issue at his money pit where something smells a little stinky, like rotten eggs. What’s going on?
DAVE: Oh. Well, I just bought a farmhouse about 3, 4 years ago. And I have this rotten-egg smell in my house all the time. And I also – my sinks and my toilets and my bathtubs are all rusty. I was wondering if you have any ideas for me. I do have a water softener.
TOM: So, first of all, the rotten-egg smell usually happens because of a bad anode in the water heater itself. That’s a rod that’s immersed into the water. And over time, it deteriorates. And if you have a bad anode, it can be removed and replaced without replacing the entire water heater.
The other potential cause of this is the water quality itself. But is this well water?
DAVE: Yeah, this is well water.
TOM: So, have you had it tested lately to see, among other things, what the sulfur content is?
DAVE: No, I haven’t.
TOM: So I would be smart to do that. And this way, you want to make sure that nothing has changed that you’re not aware of, in terms of the quality of the water. But typically, it’s because of a problem with the water heater that leads to that odor.
Now, in terms of the rusty fixtures, that’s just going to be wear and tear. That’s going to have nothing to do with the water quality, for the most part.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re one of the millions of people who have seasonal allergies, summer means sneezing, congestion, runny noses. But according to the Mayo Clinic, there are a few strategies for reducing exposure to allergy triggers that really work. Now, the key is to reduce your exposure to the things that trigger your allergy signs and symptoms.
So, stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain because that’s going to just help clear pollen from the air.
TOM: Now, if there’s lawn-mowing to be done, delegate it. Hopefully, you have a teenager that can do that job for you, as well as weed-pulling or other gardening chores. These always stir up allergens, so you really should try to avoid them.
And here’s a tip that I thought was really one that I hadn’t thought of, Leslie, and I’m glad the Mayo Clinic brought it up. And that is to remove clothes that you’ve worn outside and then shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair. And if I think about it, every morning we find pollen on our cars, so it’s out there.
LESLIE: Oh, for sure.
TOM: And so, if you’re out and about, that pollen gets on your clothes, you bring it in the house and you’re kind of bringing the misery with you. So, if you’ve been outside, change your clothes, wash them, put them in a hamper where the pollen’s not going to escape or get them right into the washer. And then grab a shower so you’re not carrying that pollen around with you.
And finally, along the same lines, don’t hang your laundry outside, because pollen will stick to those sheets and those towels. And when it’s nice and fluffy and clean and you stick your head into it at night when you make your bed with those fresh, clean sheets, you’re going to be breathing up that pollen instantly.
LESLIE: I tell you, we’ve always known about the taking off the clothes and taking a shower, et cetera, when you come home. And my kids both suffer tremendously from pollen. And you know, the first week or so, they’re all on board: changing clothes, washing hands, washing faces.
LESLIE: By Week Two, they’re like, “I’d just rather deal with it.”
TOM: Not so much.
LESLIE: Heading to Arizona with Yvonne on the line who has got a stinky bathroom sink.
Gross, Yvonne. What’s going on?
YVONNE: Yeah. So, it doesn’t happen all the time but every once in a while, I’ll be running the water in the bathroom sink and this foul odor comes out of the drain. So I’m wondering what could be causing that.
TOM: Usually, it’s bacteria. You get bacteria that will decay in those drains and it will cause what’s called a “biogas.” And the best way to clean this is to really take the drain completely apart – that’s the trap that’s underneath that – and to really do a good job of scrubbing it clean. I would use some oxidized bleach for that, as well. If you can get that super clean, that will kill the bacteria. And if you can even plug the pipe and sort of fill it up with some of that bleach solution, that will also kill the bacteria that’s in there. And I think you’ll find that if you can deal with that biogas, it’ll start smelling a lot better.
YVONNE: So I have to actually scrub it? I can’t just pour some bleach down there?
TOM: No. No, you definitely need to scrub it. And that’s why you probably want to take it apart from underneath the sink cabinets. It’s probably going to have a trap, the U-shape pipe. If it doesn’t, by the way, that’s the source of your problem. But I’m sure it does. Take that trap apart and then really scrub the inside of that with some oxygenated bleach. And I think that that will kill that bacteria and then the biogas will go away.
YVONNE: OK. Sounds like a lot of work but I’ll certainly give it a try.
TOM: Hey, we never said it was going to be easy. But we will save you the work.
YVONNE: No. Nothing ever is, it seems like.
TOM: Alright, Yvonne. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, Jeff says, “What’s the best way to replace a home air-conditioning unit?” He says he’s got three estimates for having his home A/C system replaced: one makes no mention of copper lines, one says they’re going to flush the lines and the last one says they’ll replace the lines. Oh, this is like a Goldilocks scenario.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: Which is the correct one to pursue?
TOM: If you’re getting a new A/C system, there are so many other things to consider, in addition to whether or not your refrigerant lines – which is what he’s talking about – are replaced or simply flushed out and kept. I mean copper lines don’t usually break down. The insulation gets kind of worn on the outside but that’s easy to fix. So it really doesn’t bother me, if it was my house, if they replaced them or not because I know they’re not going to wear out.
But more importantly, you want to look at the energy efficiency. And if you’re just talking about replacing that outside compressor, whatever it says in terms of efficiency is not true unless you’re replacing the inside condensing unit, as well. They’re a pair. Don’t be confused by that. Don’t think that if it says it’s super energy-efficient outside, you’re going to get all of that efficiency. Because it only happens if you match it against the condensing unit inside.
So, like I said, a lot of other things to consider but whether or not they replace refrigerant lines, either way is perfectly fine.
LESLIE: And make sure you size it correctly for the house. You want to make sure it’s perfectly sized so you get great energy efficiency and the right amount of cooling.
TOM: Well, you guys have a patio that could use a bit of a spruce-up this summer? Leslie tells us how to create a unique area rug that stands up to the weather, in today’s addition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Well, it’s not exactly an area rug. It’s a painted area rug, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. It looks like an area rug and you can make it as creative or plain or simple. Whatever you like and however you like your rugs, it’s just out of paint. So, it’s going to be something that doesn’t require cleaning and it can be super personalized to your space.
So, to do this, first of all, you’ve got to make sure that that patio area is super clean. So you want to mop it with a cup of vinegar per 1 quart of water and then spray it away with a hose.
Now, mark off the area once it’s dry. You want to mark off the area for this faux rug with painter’s tape. Really get a sense of how big you want this rug to be or how small and really where it sits. And you want to make sure that you get your lines all straight and that it looks good.
Next, you want to make sure that you use concrete paint. You can get it at most home improvement stores and they’ll tint it to any color you want. And your first step is to paint the entire rug in that background color or whatever that base color is and then let it dry overnight.
Then, go ahead and add your details. Now, you can do that with tape, stencils, found objects – whatever it is. Generally look online. Look for inspiration for outdoor rooms that you like the look of, rugs that you like the look of, color palettes that you like the look of and use that to help you determine what your rug is going to look like. And there really are some creative ways to make some interesting patterns. So if you see something that seems a little tricky, give us a call, send us a picture. We’d love to lend a hand, because we want you to be creative, we want you to have a great yard.
Now, when you finish it, you want to give it three coats of water-based polyurethane and let it dry completely. And all of a sudden, that drab slab of concrete is now a totally unique focal point that is specific to you.
TOM: Great advice. I love the concept of the painted rug because it looks so pretty when it’s all done and you’ve got your furniture on it. It truly does look like an outdoor extension of your inside space.
Coming up next time on The Money Pit, kitchen backsplashes, well, they protect your walls from splashes and food. But when they’re made from tile, they can add style at a fraction of the cost of most major design upgrades. We’ll tell you how to get that project done, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 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.)