- Firewood: Find out how to choose the right kind of firewood for comfort and safety before lighting up that fireplace.
- Ice Dams: Melting ice on your roof can cause expensive damage. Learn how to prevent ice dams and maybe even how to get your insurance to pay for a brand new roof!
- Disinfecting Your Home: ‘Tis the season for all kinds of nasty germs and viruses! We’ve got the best ways to clean and disinfect your home effectively.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Refinishing Wood Floors: Is there an easy way to refinish hardwood floors that are dull but not damaged? Jamie just needs to do a light sanding with a floor buffer to remove some old finish before applying a new coat of urethane.
- Wood Stove: Melana is installing a wood stove but wants to be sure it won’t damage the new electrical behind it. She must make sure the stove is placed far enough from the walls and add a heat shield behind it.
- Heated Driveway: Installing a heated driveway would be a big help when there’s lots of snow! Dylan gets info about outdoor radiant heating systems that are available, but they can also be expensive to operate.
- Wood Trim: There is worn and damaged woodwork throughout the home Paula is selling. It will be easier and less expensive to fill, prime, and repaint the damaged areas of molding than to replace it all.
- Cold Floors: John’s getting cold feet in the small room over a cinderblock crawlspace. He can either break through the wall to add access for insulation or add a layer of insulated subfloor in the room.
- Garbage Disposal: Every time Eden turns on the garbage disposal, it backs up gunk into the other drain of her double sink. She needs to clear the obstruction in the main drain line by blocking the disposal drain while plunging the other one.
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 around your house. You’ve got a reno in mind for ‘23? Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ve got a project you’re trying to get done now, maybe before the next week or so before the end of the year arrives? Give us a call – 888-666-3974 – or click the blue microphone button on MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, you know, a warm fire from a wood stove or a fireplace can add some comfort to a chilly day, of course. But did you guys know that not all firewood delivers the same level of heat? Some firewood just doesn’t put out as much heat as other types. So, we’re going to share tips on how you can select the best firewood for your comfort and your safety.
LESLIE: Alright. That’s good to know.
And if your roof starts to leak when the snow starts to melt, you might have a common problem known as an ice dam. We’re going to share the solution to avoiding serious damage and maybe even how to get your homeowners-insurance company to pay for it.
TOM: And did you guys know that according to the CDC many of us are actually not cleaning and disinfecting our homes the right way? So, we’re going to share a simple tip to help make sure you’re actually getting rid of the bacteria and viruses on the hard surfaces in your house.
LESLIE: But first, we want to help you create your best home ever. From bathrooms to basements and demolition to décor, we’re your coach, your counselor, your cheerleader for all of your projects, big and small. So reach out. We’re standing by.
TOM: Hey, what do you guys want to do in the year ahead? Outside projects? Inside projects? We want to know because we can help. Reach out to us right now. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Heading out to Maine, where we’ve got Jamie on the line who’s got a question about refinishing a wood floor.
How can we help you?
JAMIE: We have a 100-year-old house – over 100-year-old house – 800 square feet. And the flooring, I just didn’t want to spend time sanding it all down. And I was looking for something to easily kind of refinish it, give it a nice look but not spend a whole lot of time on it.
TOM: Alright, so let me ask you a question. Is the flooring hardwood?
TOM: OK. Is it physically in good shape? In other words, is it cracked? Is the existing finish worn down to the raw wood or is it just sort of dull?
JAMIE: No, it’s just dull. It’s not worn down at all but it’s just very dull.
JAMIE: And I just wanted to spruce it up.
TOM: OK. So, here’s what you can do. So you don’t have to sand it down to the raw wood if it’s like that. You can basically lightly sand the surface and then refinish it. And there’s a couple of different machines that you can do that with but the most common one is simply a floor buffer, like the machines that you see in commercial buildings or the mall with the round disc on the bottom of it. Except instead of a polishing pad or a scrubbing pad, you put a sanding screen on that. And that’s a piece of a material that’s kind of like – a window screen is what it looks like.
And it comes in different grits and you use that to sand the surface of the floor. Of course, you’ve got to take all of the furniture out, like usual, and you’re going to have to hand-sand against the walls. But you’re basically going to use that to abrade that surface. And this is going to take off a little bit of the finish and get it ready for the new finish.
Now, once you do that, you’re going to vacuum it very, very thoroughly. I like to do a damp-mop step where I don’t get it wet but I just use the damp mop – slightly damp – to pull off any final bit of dust off of that thing. Let it dry really well. And then you apply the urethane. I would use oil-based urethane. Don’t use the water base, don’t use the latex base; it just doesn’t wear. And what you’re going to want to do is cut in on the outside perimeter. You do that with a brush. So you’re going to go in a few inches all the way around by hand.
And then what you do is you apply the rest with a lambswool applicator, which is a piece of lambswool that has a wood block that it’s sort of attached to and then a stick, like you would have on a mop. And this lambswool applicator allows you to – you can pour a little urethane on. And I usually put it in a paint tray and I dip the lambswool into the paint tray. It fits just perfectly inside of that and then I sort of mop it on very carefully and work my way across the room. And then I leave and I usually like to at least double the drying time to make sure it’s really, really dry.
And I’ll put on another – a second coat definitely and sometimes even a third coat. The key is to make sure it’s super dry. Because if you put it on and it’s tacky, it will remain tacky and it will – you’ll have to take it all the way down to the wood at that point. So, I think just a light sanding and some new urethane is all you need. Typically with my floors, I’ll do that three or four times for every time that I have to sand something down to raw wood. I’d go three or four more times when I’m just refinishing the surface like that. Because there’s really no reason to sand that wood unless it’s physically damaged.
JAMIE: OK. So that’s good to know, because I was just afraid I’d have to take everything down and get right down to the wood, which I’ve hired contractors to do at another place and it’s just a lot of work.
TOM: Right. Yeah, it definitely is a lot of work and it’s the kind of thing that you’ve got to have somebody that’s really good and knows how to handle that. We just did that – did a floor in an apartment that we bought as an investment property. And I’ve got to tell you, this is a 1906 building. That floor was in a terrible condition. It was cracked, it was checked, it was painted in some places. It had some really terrible repairs done to it and I hired a really good floor-refinishing guy to do that work. And I’ll tell you what, it was an amazing transformation when it was done.
But I definitely, even with my skills, probably couldn’t have done as good of a job, because he knew exactly what he was doing. And even with the repairs, this guy hand-finished the new wood that we used to match the old wood. Like hand-stained it so it blended in nicely. It didn’t have a lighter piece and a darker piece and it really came out good. But it’s a job that takes a lot of skill. It may seem easy just renting those machines and doing it yourself but if you get it wrong, you’re going to damage that floor.
But in your case, you don’t have to do that because your floor’s in good structural condition. You can just lightly sand it and then refinish it from there. I’ve got a post on MoneyPit.com, by the way, with a step-by-step on how to do that. So you could look it up there, as well.
JAMIE: OK, great. Cool. Thanks very much.
TOM: Good luck, Jamie.
JAMIE: Thanks. Bye-bye.
LESLIE: Heading to Texas, we’ve got Marlena on the line who’s working on a wood stove.
Tell us about it.
MARLENA: We just had electrical installed – all new electrical in the home that we’re flipping. And we’re going to install a wood stove.
MARLENA: Would that wood stove harm the electrical behind the wall?
TOM: Well, not if it’s installed properly. You have to have a heat shield behind the wood stove. Depending on how close it is to the wall, that determines how much of a heat shield you need.
Now, if you have no heat shield at all, that wood stove has to be 3 feet away from the wall in most areas. There is, however, a heat-shield assembly that’s available, which is kind of like – it’s sort of like a piece of metal that is mounted on the wall but has spacers behind it so that air moves behind this piece of metal that provides the shielding of the wall. Because aside from harming electrical wires, you’ve got to remember that you’ve got wood framing there and it’s a fire hazard.
So, safety is really, really important when you install a wood stove. So you either have to have the minimum-required distance between the stove and the wall or you have to have heat shields or both. So just make sure that whoever is doing the installation is familiar with this principle, Marlena, and it’ll be safe and your wires will be fine.
MARLENA: OK. And I was thinking about making a wood frame and then laying a metal – a sheet metal on the back. Would that be safe? Would that …?
TOM: Well, here’s the thing: it sounds to me like you’re trying to invent a heat shield and I don’t think you should do that. It’s not sort of a thing that you hack together to – I mean I’ve seen it done this way but it’s not recommended.
Here’s where you start. The manufacturer of your wood stove is going to have a specification for heat shields and I would start with that. So if you don’t happen to have the manual anymore, all of those manuals are online somewhere on the internet. Just Google it and look at their recommendations for installation, in particular, when it comes to the heat shield. As long as you follow that manufacturer’s spec, then I’m comfortable that the job will be done right. OK?
MARLENA: OK. Sounds good. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Well, the West Coast has been certainly getting pounded with their fair share of snowfall, especially Utah. Now, us East Coast skiers were pretty jealous about all that snowfall that’s happening over there.
LESLIE: But Dillon, who lives in Utah, is pretty tired of shoveling.
So, what have you got going on over there, Dillon? Besides snow.
DILLON: Yeah. You know, we’ve been getting – just like you said, we’ve been getting hit with a lot of snow. I just woke up this morning to 12 inches of new snow overnight. And where I’m located is just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah in Cottonwood Heights. We’re at the base of the Wasatch Mountain, which, on average, those mountains can see 500 inches of snow.
TOM: Wow. Oh, my gosh.
DILLON: So, we get a fair share of snowstorms and I have to break out the – the shovel pretty much just lives outside, at this point, with a bag of salt next to it.
But my question for you guys, today, is I’m looking at – in this upcoming spring, I really want to replace my driveway. And with the amount of snow we’ve got season – in and out and all the way through spring, we get it. So, we’re looking and thinking about doing a heated driveway. Just seeing if you guys have any recommendations or any experience there.
TOM: Sure. It’s basically – it’s kind of like a radiant-floor heating system where you put the heating cables underneath the driveway or you can embed them in the concrete. It can be underneath a brick driveway or it could be embedded in the concrete when it’s poured. Of course, you’ve got to do it very carefully.
And then when it gets cold, you click it on and it warms up the driveway and everything melts. The thing you have to consider is the cost of operation. And for that, you’re going to want to think about how many square feet you need to heat. Sometimes, folks will heat the entire driveway. Sometimes, folks will heat a portion of the driveway. Sometimes, folks will only heat where the tire tracks are, sort of that split between the two tires at width. And you’ll see sometimes that – you’ll see driveways that have no snow right there but a lot of snow around it. And that’s often because that’s where they chose to put the heating cables in an effort to control costs.
There’s a company called WarmlyYours that we know well because of their radiant-floor systems for interiors, especially bathrooms, which is super nice. But they actually make an exterior product, too. And one thing I like is that on their website, they have a calculator so that you can actually figure out what the cost of operation is.
Now, what most folks will do is be – weigh this against the cost of paying for snow removal and kind of seeing where you end up on that. But it’s essentially just that. You put these cables underneath. They come sort of wound together in a mat, in the concrete itself, and then they have – the circuitry is inside the house and you turn it on and off. You can do it based on the temperature or you could do it just based on an on/off switch. But you really want to calculate that operating cost, because you don’t want to find that, yeah, you’ve got no snow but it’s now costing you a thousand bucks a month in electricity costs to have no snow. So it’s really going to be a trade-off on those two things.
LESLIE: But you won’t have to shovel.
TOM: Yes, there is that. Yeah. Or you can buy a snow blower.
Now, I am guaranteeing, those listening, that we will not have any major snowstorms in the Northeast area. And I can tell you with absolute confidence. You know why? Because I bought a brand-new two-stage snow blower. It’s ready, it’s good to go, it’s sitting in my garage. I’m ready to take it out but I’m telling you right now, it’s not going to happen.
DILLON: You’ve cursed us all.
TOM: Only those in my area. You’re still going to get plenty of snow there at the bottom of the Wasatch Mountain, my friend.
DILLON: Well, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Yeah, I’ve heard about potentially doing a boiler system but I think that sounds like a lot better of a system.
TOM: Well, yes. You can do a hot-water hydronic system but then again, you’ve got to deal with frozen – well, you would need antifreeze in there so it wouldn’t freeze. But still, you’ve still got to pay for the water to be heated for the heating coil to kind of bring it up, if it’s electric, or for the water to be heated if it’s a hydronic system. So, to me, I think the electric system makes a lot more sense. And I could see it being used on a porch and on steps where safety is an issue. You’d have to really be annoyed and unable to do any snow-shoveling to do the whole driveway, because it’s going to cost you a bundle.
DILLON: Yeah. But a pretty awesome product, though.
TOM: Absolutely. Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, a warm fire from a wood stove or a fireplace is certainly the hallmark of the holiday season but you need to be careful when you’re choosing firewood. You know, the wrong fuel can damage your wood-burning stove and it can also leave dangerous levels of creosote on the walls of that fireplace chimney.
Now, you never want to burn trash, driftwood or even treated woods. You always want to use seasoned wood for the best heat release and minimal creosote buildup. And that’s really how you prevent the chances of a chimney fire. You have to be certainly careful about what you burn into your fireplace or your wood stove, for safety purposes.
TOM: So, what is your preferred wood seasoning, Leslie? A little salt? Garlic?
LESLIE: Yes, I like the barbecue spices.
TOM: Well, look, freshly-cut wood contains up to about 45-percent water. So when we say seasoned wood, we’re basically saying wood that’s sat out for a while so it’s down to about 20 or 25 percent. The harder the wood you choose the better. So that’s why you want to burn oak or maple but not pine or fir. The harder the wood, the longer it burns and the more heat it actually gives out.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you also want to make sure that that wood is dry. It’s got to have been cut for at least 6 months before you’re going to use it. I mean a year is even better but 6 months, for sure, will do. It really does take that much time, from the sun and the wind, to get rid of all of that extra moisture. And Mother Nature takes care of that for you. So the longer you let it sit, the better it will be for the fire.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s why we split firewood, as well, because it gives it more surface area, which means more evaporation. So it will dry even more quickly.
LESLIE: Paula in Ohio is on the line.
Paula, what can we do for you today?
PAULA: Me and my husband have an older house. It was built in 1950. And the woodwork through the whole house, it’s all interconnected: the door frames, everything. And we want to sell the house, so we’re trying to find what would be the best and the cheapest solution to fixing that woodwork without having to replace it all.
TOM: So, what’s going on with the woodwork? Is it just worn? Is it just heavily painted? What exactly is your problem with your woodwork?
PAULA: Yeah. It’s worn. I think somebody that lived there before us had a dog and some of it’s been chewed on.
TOM: Oh, boy.
PAULA: And it’s like we would replace – you can’t replace parts of it because you can’t get the stain to match. And we don’t really know what to do to make it look better to get it ready to sell.
TOM: So, is this molding kind of fancy molding in terms of – if you were to fill in some of the grooves and the digs in it, could you paint it and have it look halfway decent? Or do you think you have to replace it?
PAULA: I think some of it we’d have to replace it.
TOM: OK. Well, I think that’s kind of what you’re up against. If it’s painted now, you’re going to probably want to replace it with a paint-grade molding. And I think if the areas that are really damaged – you mentioned dog damage. If it’s chewed on, then you may just want to pull that piece off and replace it. But a coat of paint can do wonders with something like that.
I don’t know if there’s a way to kind of decorate around it. And it would be an awful lot of work to replace all that trim. Certainly a possibility but it’s a big job to pull all the trim off and replace it. So I think all you can really hope to do, at this point, is to clean it up, prime it – because that will give you a better paint finish – and then just put a topcoat of paint on it and kind of call it a day.
Leslie, do you have any other suggestions or do you think that’s about it?
LESLIE: No. I really think priming and painting it really is the best solution. Because once you get into replacing all of the trim work, first of all, it’s a tremendous expense and it’s a lot of work. And you end up cutting and mitering and it can be more complicated, whereas paint is a simple fix for now. At least you can start there and see if it’s something that you like and can live with and work with, décor-wise. And if not, then you can at least explore the future options.
PAULA: OK. Great.
TOM: That help you out?
PAULA: That helps me out a lot.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if your roof starts to leak when the snow starts to melt, you could have a common problem known as an ice dam. Now, there’s a solution to avoiding serious damage and you might even get your homeowners-insurance company to pay for it.
TOM: Yeah. So, first, here’s what we mean by an ice dam. When you get a heavy snow and that’s followed by warm, sunny days, that melted snow will often freeze up at the roof edge and create a dam. Literally, a dam that’s made of ice. And that dam will stop the flow of water which now, having nowhere else to go, decides to do a U-turn and back up into your house by going underneath your shingles. And then it leaks in along the outside wall of your house and it makes a real mess.
Now, to stop that from happening, in principle, it’s pretty simple: you need to keep the entire roof at the same temperature as the eaves. And to accomplish that, you’ll want to do three things: increase your attic ventilation, add insulation and seal off those places where warm air from your house escapes up to the attic.
LESLIE: Yeah. But let’s talk about insulation and ventilation first. Now, more insulation on the attic floor is going to keep that heat where it belongs. But most homes need about 15 to 20 inches of fiberglass insulation. If you don’t have that much, you should be adding more.
Plus, it’s also smart, at this time, to improve your attic ventilation. Now, if you’re working up there, you might as well do this if you don’t already have this. A ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents is going to circulate that cold air under the entire roof. And that really helps keep everything going where it’s supposed to.
TOM: And lastly – and this is an easy one – you want to seal the attic stairs or the attic hatch. An unsealed attic hatch is really a massive opening for heat to escape and then warms the underside of your roof and increases the melting and leaking snow. So, make sure your attic stairs, your hatches are both insulated so you have insulation on top of that area and secondly, they have some sort of a weather-stripping gasket around the opening. And that’s going to keep the heat in your house where it belongs, which is inside your house and not up in your attic where it gets wasted.
LESLIE: So, Tom, though, is there a way that you can build your roof that you can avoid developing an ice dam in the first place?
TOM: Yeah, there is and it comes down to a product that’s called, very simply, “ice-and-water shield.” Now, it’s a roofing material that is about 3 feet wide and you put it along the lower edge of the roof before you put on the roof shingles. So you have the plywood sheathing, then you put in the ice-and-water shield. And then you start putting the shingles and the tar paper and everything else on top of that.
And the reason you only do it for that first 3 feet – because that’s where the ice dams form, right? So if water was to back up, it’s not going to be able to get through the ice-and-water shield. It’ll get under the shingles, it could get under the tar paper but when it hits that ice-and-water shield, it has sort of a rubbery sealant sort of capability to it. It even seals around the nail. So, having ice-and-water shield, it’s required in certain parts of the country – the northern parts of the country – but I think it’s smart to use it no matter where you’re replacing the roof. Because frankly, it doesn’t add that much expense.
LESLIE: Now, I mean is this sort of something that an insurance company might consider as a preventative project? So maybe you could get some money back or get them to pay for it since, potentially, you’d be saving them thousands of dollars from a bigger repair?
TOM: Well, actually, you can get them to pay for it but not for the reasons you stated. The reason that they’ll pay for it is because storm damage, like snow that forms into leaks in your roof, well, that’s typically a covered repair – a covered issue – with a lot of homeowners policies. And to fix that, you need to tear the roof off. You can’t just do a little patch repair. You end up having to tear the whole roof off.
So I’ve seen insurance companies have to pay for entire new roofs because a roof failed due to ice dams. You can’t just repair a section; you’ve got to do the whole thing. So, yeah, you could get your insurance company to pay for it. They’re not necessarily looking to save themselves money but look, if it’s storm damage – which a snowstorm is – and then it starts to leak, well, that’s something that’s covered.
LESLIE: Well, with all this chilly weather, nobody likes chilly tootsies. John in Wisconsin is dealing with some cold feet on a cold floor.
What’s going on?
JOHN: Hi. I have a little room off the front of my home, which is just over some cinder-block wall area, where – in a crawlspace, I guess, would be properly to describe it.
JOHN: And there’s no heat to it. And then I have no way to insulate the floor, I guess. What is my option to get away from the cold floor?
TOM: So, do you have access to the crawlspace?
JOHN: I’m afraid I do not.
TOM: OK. That is a bit of a challenge. And did you say that this room is not heated now?
JOHN: It is. It is just connecting off of my living room. It’s kind of the entranceway to my living room, to the front door.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.
JOHN: And then there’s a little closet area there. So there’s no heat except what – the air transfer.
TOM: OK. Like a foyer, yeah. OK.
TOM: So, I’ll give you two options.
First of all, you really should have access to this crawlspace area. If there’s a way that you can provide it by breaking through that block wall and putting in an access space, I can see a lot of reasons to have that. But in this case, you’d be able to insulate that space fully from below.
JOHN: That makes sense.
TOM: Now, if you can’t do that, another thing that you could think about doing is you could put an additional layer of insulation above that floor. There is a type of subfloor that is designed for basements and it helps make cold basement slabs warm and comfortable. It’s called DRICORE Subfloor and then they have a version called Subfloor +.
TOM: The thing that’s unique about this product is they have an air-gap technology that keeps the subfloor part of it up off the floor underneath. Now, in your case, you’re not going on top of concrete, although I’m thinking this could work, as well, because the Subfloor + has a layer of insulation under it. So, this would help put not only some air space but also a layer of insulation between the present floor and your too-cold feet, as you’re feeling it right now.
It’s not exactly how it’s designed to be used but I think it may work. As I said earlier, it’s typically used on a basement floor that’s very cold and you want to finish it. And it makes it nice and warm and cozy and it stays up off the concrete surface, so you don’t get any dampness or moisture.
JOHN: That’s great advice. I actually have – my back door is that exact similar situation. It is on a concrete slab and it’s cold, also. But I will make access to that front crawlspace and it is a great idea. And I am a contractor and I tell you what, I love your show. I get a lot of good tips from you guys. Keep up the good work.
TOM: Well, thanks very much, John, and good luck with that project. Let us know how you make out.
JOHN: Thank you very much. Bye now.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Eden in Arizona on the line who’s got a question about a garbage disposal.
What’s going on?
EDEN: My question is that every time we turn on the garbage disposal, the sink that is next to the sink that has the disposal in it has all the junky stuff come up through the drain, up into that sink. And we had a guy come out to adjust the garbage disposal for a different reason and I hoped somehow that would fix it. But it’s still doing it.
So, basically, I turn on the garbage disposal and everything that’s in the garbage disposal goes into the other sink. So, it’s really gross.
TOM: So if your garbage disposal – into a double sink and a disposal – is backing up into the other sink, that means that that main drain line is somehow obstructed. And the water is trying to get down there but it just can’t. And because it can’t, the only place it has to go is back into your sink. And because the drain on that side is the path of least resistance, it’s going to bubble up there and bring all of that gunk that the garbage disposal ground up. So, this is a situation where you’re going to have to clear that drain.
Now, it is a little trickier when you have a double sink because you have to block one sink so that your air – so that when you actually use a plunger, it doesn’t try to push air out that side. So you block, say, the disposal side. And you can put a rubber jar opener or something like that across that sink and hold it in place while you plunge the other side to see if we can get that pipe moving.
Now, if that’s not enough to clear it, at that point you’ll need to have a drain-cleaning service come in. But if it’s properly cleared, it should not be backing up into the opposite sink. It’s just a simple matter of fixing a clogged drain.
LESLIE: Well, we’re all doing our best to keep our homes clean and safe from viruses and bacteria these days. But did you know that germs can hide beneath dirt and grease on surfaces where disinfectants can’t reach them? Well, they can and that’s what the CDC is saying. They’re reminding us that we need to clean before we disinfect. I kind of thought they were the same thing but this is a good point.
TOM: Yeah. And here’s why. I mean think of it this way: if you’re baking a cake, there’s a good chance your counter is covered in residue from eggs and flour and sugar and other ingredients. This can also be a recipe that leads to Salmonella contamination, which can make you pretty sick.
So, if you want to eliminate the risk, it’s important to clean the counter first, with an all-purpose cleaner, to remove all that visible dirt. And then you can disinfect to eliminate any lingering germs. Now, the same thing applies to greasy messes, like grease on the stove. You’ve got to clean to remove the grease first and then disinfect. Otherwise, you’re actually leaving – and this is kind of gross – a layer of bacteria or viruses underneath that grease. So, it’s sort of like a bacteria sandwich and that may never come in contact with your disinfectant, so it’s just going to stay there.
LESLIE: Ugh. That’s really gross when you think about it. Now, you have to remember that not all of your disinfectants are created equal. So you have to be sure to follow the label directions for proper disinfecting procedures, especially when it comes to something called “dwell time.” Now, dwell time is the amount of time a disinfectant has to stay on that surface in order to effectively kill germs. And get this: it can be anywhere between 2 minutes and 10 minutes. And it’s not just a quick spritz and you’re done; it’s got to sit there and then it does its job. And then you wipe it away. So, it’s like you really have to read the directions. It’s not so much like, “Ooh, spray and clean and we’re all good.”
TOM: Yeah. And here’s an example of how that just goes terribly wrong.
Now, you like to go out to a nice restaurant once in a while, right?
LESLIE: Yeah, I sure do.
TOM: How many times have you gone – maybe you had a reservation and they say, “Oh, Ms. Segrete, your table will be ready in just a moment.” And then you watch the staff go over to the table. They’re cleaning the plates away and then they take the bottle and they spritz, spritz, spritz. They wipe, wipe, wipe and they go, “OK, good to go.” Right?
Well, guess what? No dwell time there, right? So, any disinfectant that was part of that solution didn’t have a chance to work. You’re sitting down at a table that is not fully disinfected. Hence, not fully cleaned and you’re ready to start a new meal with it. So, there’s a lot of lack of knowledge about the way this works.
Now, you can, to your point earlier, have a combination product that’s a cleaner and a disinfectant, which is fine. But that doesn’t change the requirement for the dwell time. It’s got to sit there to do its job before it’s really disinfected.
LESLIE: I’m always more concerned about the questionable towel that they’re using to clean the tables. I’m like, “Huh, where’d that come from? How long have you been using it? Oh, well, it’s time to eat. I’m hungry. Let’s sit down.”
TOM: Hey, if you’ve got questions about your projects you want to get done around your house, you can always reach out to us and post your questions to MoneyPit.com, just like Roy did.
LESLIE: That’s right. Roy says, “I recently bought a ranch-styled home. It’s built in the 60s and I’d like to insulate the exterior walls. Is blown-in insulation a good option?”
TOM: Well, if you have no insulation, blown-in insulation is a good option. It’s installed from the inside of your home. The installers will drill holes in a couple of locations in every bay – the stud bay, which means the space in between the studs – and then blow in insulation there and put it under a certain level of compression so it can account for potential settlement.
Now, it’s not a good option for every type of home construction. And it usually needs to be preceded by an infrared scan so you can tell if there’s any blockages in the way the home was framed. I will say it’s going to be pretty expensive as an insulation option. And I would put it there for – in the priority of making sure my attic is better insulated first, because that’s where most of the heat loss happens.
So, before your spend money on the walls, make sure you’ve got 15, 20, 25 inches or so of insulation in the attic. That is the most effective place to spend your insulation dollars. And then, secondly, your floors, especially if they’re over unheated spaces. I just completed a project in my own house where I had an old dirt crawlspace and the floor was not insulated above it. So I got down there, put on my dust mask, my glasses, my hat and got in there and insulated the whole place. It wasn’t a happy project. It wasn’t something I enjoyed but it was something that had to be done. And now, the floors are much more comfortable.
So, think about priority in terms of where you’re putting that insulation. And if the walls are truly empty of insulation, blown-in is an option.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got a question from Jessica, who wants to know: “Why are my plumbing pipes in the wall making a knocking sound after I turn on the hot water in the bathtub?”
TOM: Well, there are two common causes of plumbing-pipe noise. The first is expansion and the second is what’s known as water hammer. But because your noise occurs only when running hot water, the culprit is probably expansion of the pipes.
Copper pipes are often not snugly attached to the wood studs in your wall and they rub on that wood as it expands. And that can create a sound that is sometimes described as a knock or a bang or even a drip. And the other plumbing-pipe noise, water hammer, happens when the faucet is turned off. Water is very heavy if you think about it; it weighs about 8 pounds per gallon. As it runs through the pipe and then you turn off the water, it picks up some speed and then the force of all that shakes the pipe when it’s turned off.
So, the solution, then, is simply secure the pipe to the frame and also to install, if it’s really bad, something called a “water-hammer arrestor.” Kind of like a shock absorber for your plumbing system. But really, the good news is that while both these plumbing-pipe noises are kind of annoying, they very rarely cause any plumbing damage or leaks.
LESLIE: Yeah. And then if none of this works, you just go back to my original theory, which is ghosts. I thinks that’s always, you know …
TOM: Always. Yeah.
LESLIE: When you hear weird noises, it’s always a ghost, right?
TOM: Well, I mean maybe you can convince your ghost to go in the wall and tighten up the pipe (inaudible).
LESLIE: This way you don’t have to open anything up.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: Yeah. So, the plan is make friends with the ghost and then teach them how to make plumbing repairs.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: I think that’s definitely a good plan.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, guys, thank you so much for spending this part of your holiday weekend with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and ideas to help improve your home today, tomorrow and in the year ahead. And we are here, in the year ahead, to help you just like we’ve done for the last – oh, my gosh – what, 20 years with answers to your questions about the home project you want to take on. You can reach out to us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Until we talk again, 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 2022 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.)