- Frozen Pipes: Frozen pipes that break are a winter worry that can cause expensive damage. Find out how to keep your pipes from freezing.
- Choosing a Mattress: The right mattress can help you sleep soundly and avoid an aching back. Learn what to look for when mattress shopping.
- DIY Bathroom Remodel: Want to remodel your bathroom in time for the holidays? It can be done with these DIY tips.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- New Flooring: Do you need to strip a stained concrete floor before installing a new floor over it? Ted’s got lots of DIY options for floating flooring that doesn’t require any prep work.
- Old Wiring: Sandra’s house has very old knob and tube wiring and she’s starting to update her kitchen. Brittle, ungrounded wiring can be dangerous, so it’s time to update the electrical system.
- Fireplace Cleaning: How do you clean the creosote in a woodburning fireplace? Bill gets suggestions on what to use depending on how much soot there is, plus safety advice on proper venting.
- Sealing Concrete: The vinyl siding on Peggy’s home goes all the way down to the concrete slab and traps moisture. It’s nearly impossible to seal, so she’ll need to remove some of the bottom siding and install rubberized flashing.
- Storm Windows: Should single-pane double-hung windows be replaced with insulated windows? Upgrading his storm windows may be all that Ron needs to do.
- Garage Flooring: There’s a low spot in the garage floor where water pools and freezes. Mona can try a patching compound to level the floor or modular garage flooring tiles to provide drainage and traction.
- Painting Doors: The layers of paint on Mark’s exterior metal door keep curling. He’ll have to remove the door, then strip, sand, and prime it so a new coat of paint can adhere properly.
- Cement Repair: An area of the porch that’s been cemented over keeps breaking off. Denise should use a patching product for better adhesion instead of adding cement on top of cement.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on a beautiful fall weekend. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: You guys enjoying the crisp weather? Have you seen your energy bill yet? Once that heating bill arrives, it kind of takes the – it’s takes the fun out of those beautiful, cool days. But you know what? If you want to make that bill go down, you need some energy-saving improvements, you want to fix up your space before the rest of the holidays get here, that’s what we do. We’re here to help you get those projects done. So reach out to us with your questions. You can go to MoneyPit.com and click the blue microphone button or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, temperatures are dropping very quickly. Are your water lines ready to stand up to the freezing weather? We’re going to give you some tips to prevent plumbing pipes from freezing and breaking, which is a huge mess.
I once saw that happen in a house, Leslie, that I was inspecting. I had to come back on a reinspection and it was vacant. By the time I got back there, there was 4 feet of water in the basement. Four feet.
TOM: These poor folks weren’t …
LESLIE: How much time was that?
TOM: I think it was about a month.
LESLIE: That’s a lot.
TOM: But the relocation company had owned the place and they forgot to turn off the water or the heat or something. And these poor people. They were – literally, all their stuff was in a moving truck ready to move in. I’m like, “Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to happen today.”
LESLIE: Oh, goodness. That is a lot of work.
TOM: We can make sure that does not happen to you, though, with some tips on how to protect those pipes.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got some tips to help you guys who are thinking about updating your bedroom. Maybe you’re thinking about a new mattress or some new furniture. So we’re going to share some ideas that’ll help you make your purchase result in actually getting a better night’s sleep. And also looking good. But getting a better night’s sleep first.
TOM: Yeah. They go hand-in-hand, right?
And also, one of the most popular projects for this time of year is bath remodeling. I mean everybody wants it done before the end of the year. So we’re going to have step-by-step advice for both DIYers and pros.
LESLIE: And guys, do you love your home? Do you often feel like maybe you’re just throwing money into your money pit? Listen, we get it. We use money pit as a term of endearment. We love our homes. We do call them “money pits.” But we get it and we can totally help. So make sure you reach out and let us know how we can help you with all those home improvement projects.
TOM: Plus, if you do call us with your home improvement question, we’ll toss your name in the Money Pit hard hat. Because from Arrow Fastener, we’ve got a Cordless 5-in-1 Professional Staple and Nail Gun to give away to one lucky listener drawn at random. So make that you. Call us now with your questions. Again, the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions on MoneyPit.com by clicking the blue microphone button.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Ted in Texas is on the line with a flooring question.
How can we help you?
TED: I’ve got a concrete floor that’s been stained.
TED: It has in the – kind of in the living area, we put down a couple – a few times we put down, you know, wax. We waxed it and it’s pretty much worn off now. But it’s a dark – it’s a real dark red stain. It’s pretty dark and we’re really tired of that.
TED: So, we were thinking of putting down some flooring.
TED: And just wondered, do we need to strip the floor for – use the stripper on it first? Or can we just lay it down on top of it? What’s a good thing?
TOM: You don’t have to strip anything off that old concrete floor. With all the flooring products that are available today, you can lay it right on top of the concrete.
And you’ve got a lot of choices, Ted. You can use a laminate floor.
TOM: You can use an engineered vinyl plank. The EVP floors are absolutely gorgeous. You can use an engineered-hardwood floor. If you’d like to have real wood, you can use an engineered hardwood – not solid hardwood but engineered hardwood – because that is dimensionally stable and it’s not going to swell if exposed to any moisture that comes off the concrete.
Now, those floors would lock together and they would go right up sort of the baseboard/molding area. And then you would trim them with some quarter round or some shoe molding and you’d be good to go.
So that’s a pretty straightforward project right there. Just pay attention to the saddles and where it goes around doorways. If you’re in a kitchen area, make sure you don’t lock in your dishwasher, which has to be slid out if it has to be replaced. Things like that. Just be aware of that. But you can go right on top of that.
And it sounds like that old floor has really served you well, though. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of somebody that has sealed and waxed a concrete – a dyed concrete floor like that for all those years. It must have been pretty interesting.
TED: Yeah. And one other question, too. I’ve noticed, in probably over the last couple years, there’s been several cracks. They’re not wide cracks. I can stick my fingernail in it, in some places.
TOM: Yeah, I think that’s pretty typical of expansion and contraction of a floor like that. You don’t have to worry about that. You can just, again, put the new flooring right on top of the old.
TED: OK. Good, good. Good deal. OK. So, any of those is good? They all have …
TOM: All good choices.
TED: Some of them have glue-down and some of them are not. You don’t need to glue down …
TOM: None of the ones that I mentioned are glue-down products; those are all floating floors.
TOM: I don’t really think there’s a need to use a glue-down product.
TOM: Typically, if you’re using engineered hardwood on a slab, the only place you might glue down would be like maybe at an intersection. My sister just had some engineered hardwood put on a floor. And the installers glued some trim pieces around where her fireplace kind of came into the room, just because there was no other way to really attach it.
But for the most part, you don’t really need any adhesive. It’s designed to float on top and it’s not going to move; it’s rock-solid when it’s done.
TED: It’s not going to click-click when you walk on it, right?
TOM: No. No, no. Not at all.
TED: Gotcha. OK. Well, good. Well, thanks for the call back. I really appreciate it and I enjoy your show.
TOM: Well, you’re welcome, Ted. Thanks so much for calling us at The Money Pit.
TED: Yes, sir. You bet.
LESLIE: We’ve got Sandra in Maryland on the line and she’s got a really old house and an electrical problem.
What’s happening at your money pit?
SANDRA: A hundred-and-three years old.
TOM: Oh. That’s great. That’s a good age for houses. It’s just starting to get seasoned. Settling in a bit.
SANDRA: Oh, it settles a lot.
TOM: Yeah, I bet, I bet. So, has the wiring been updated at all or is it original? Is it knob-and-tube? What kind of wiring do you have?
SANDRA: I have a mix of knob-and-tube and some updated. What’s down in the walls, I think, is still knob-and-tube.
SANDRA: Some of the stuff that’s more out has been replaced.
TOM: And what are you planning to do? What’s precipitating this question? Is this just a general concern about safety? Are you doing some other remodeling?
SANDRA: Well, what I’ve done is started redoing the kitchen.
SANDRA: And I took up the seven layers of linoleum and got all the creosote out and got all the stuff that probably I shouldn’t have been inhaling out of the kitchen. And we sanded the floors and kept the original, old, wood floors. And the paneling in the kitchen I’m not willing to tear down because it’s horsehair plaster behind it. And every time you touch the wall, you hear stuff fall.
SANDRA: So, I’m not willing to replace it. We painted the paneling and I want to put new floorboard trim around. But all of the wiring – it’s those big, black wires that go from one outlet to another outlet.
TOM: Let me give you some advice on this because it is time to update that wiring. First of all, any existing knob-and-tube wiring is very dangerous and here’s why: when it gets to be 100 years old, the insulation on that wiring is very dried out, very brittle, very crumbly. I can’t tell you how many times, in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, that I found that kind of wiring in a house and often found burn marks – very frightening – burn marks on the framing that surrounded it.
So, you definitely want to deactivate that wiring. You don’t have to physically pull it out of the walls as long as it’s not electrified. And then, of course, you want to update that with new, modern wiring that’s consistent with current electrical code.
Now, for the kitchen, you really want to do something different than what would’ve been done when the home was originally built. It had wiring but it had all of that kitchen, I’m sure, on one circuit. And that’s why an older home, sometimes, when you’re in a kitchen, you often see the lights dim when the refrigerators kick on, because they’re both – major appliance and lighting are on the same circuit.
You want to have one circuit for your appliances – your dishwasher, your refrigerator – perhaps even more than one circuit for that and then a separate circuit for lighting and outlets. And of course, all of the outlets also should be ground-fault protected because this is a wet location. And ground-fault protection protects you from receiving a shock if you were using an appliance that shorted or had any other type of electrical incident that occurred.
So, you are smart to be concerned about this. It is something that you should take care of, whether you do it one room at a time or the entire house at a time. You know, that’s going to be up to time and budget. But you should have on your overall remodeling plan the need to get rid of that knob-and-tube and completely de-energize it, because it is unsafe for the reasons I stated.
And also, by the way, that particular wiring is not grounded nor is it groundable. So that’s another reason it’s unsafe. It’s just the way it was done back then.
SANDRA: I think some of the kitchen had been done because I did have an electrician friend come in and install some new outlets. And he just ran from one to the next and I do have different circuit breakers downstairs and all that kind of stuff. But one of the things that when – I do have – I think the one wall hasn’t been done. I know that sounds odd. But when they have the wires that are out – the big, black wires going across on any of the wires – and I don’t want them to go behind the wall, because they can’t without damaging the wall. Do I need to put those metal covers over them before I can put the trim board down so I don’t …?
TOM: Well, if you have – if you’re talking about the original knob-and-tube wiring being big black wires, you can’t bury that. That’s very unsafe and here’s why: knob-and-tube wiring – the reason – and by the way, for those that are not familiar with this, if you’ve ever seen an old house where wires seem to be strung on little ceramic posts that stick off the side of beams, those are the knobs. And then where the wires go through the framing, there’s a ceramic tube. And that’s the tube. That’s why it’s called “knob-and-tube.”
And the reason that it sticks off the beam, Sandra, is because it has to be air-cooled. So that’s why you can’t bury knob-and-tube wiring under trim. You can’t even put insulation around it because it makes it doubly unsafe.
SANDRA: So if it’s the big, black wire, then I know I’ve still got original knob-and-tube in there.
TOM: I would have your electrician come in and determine where that wire’s being energized, make sure that if it’s knob-and-tube, it is completely disconnected and then run whatever you have to do from there. And if you can only do it one room at a time, you’ll be just that much more safe. But if you could do the whole house, then just do it.
SANDRA: OK. Great. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sandra. Good luck with that project.
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Bill in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BILL: I have a wood-burning fireplace and it has a brick firebox. And I’m going to put gas logs into it. And I’d like to clean it out as best I can before putting the gas logs in. And there’s soot, I guess, and creosote in it. I wonder if there’s any good way to clean that off the brick.
LESLIE: There’s actually so – there’s a ton of different products out there, actually. You can try – it really depends on how much is caked on there, because they all kind of work differently.
First might be starting with a TSP, which is a trisodium phosphate. But that’s generally going to only work for not that much of a buildup. And since you’re talking about the interior, try that. The TSP you can find in any of the home centers, in the paint-prep aisle. You mix it up. You can make it more of a thicker paste. And then you put that on there and then you can brush that off or clean that off and see if that will do it. There’s a couple of other things.
Many of the stone companies will make something called a “brick and stone cleaner” or a “fireplace brick and stone cleaner.” Can find it online if you search for those exact words. You can even go to – I know my local Ace Hardware has one that’s in a tub. It’s called a Soot Remover. There’s soot erasers but I think that, again, is only going to really work for a little bit of a buildup. But because you’re on the interior, you might want to go for the heavy-duty stuff.
BILL: Alright. Yeah, I tried sodium or baking soda. You sort of paint it on and it actually did a fairly good job but there’s just some areas that are just a little more resistant to that.
TOM: And you have to remember that that brick surface is very absorbent, so you may not end up getting it all out. But as long as it looks kind of even, I think you’ll be good to go.
Now, you also mentioned you’re putting in a gas log here. Be very careful that you have proper venting for this gas log, because they throw out a lot of BTUs. Now, in some cases, what you might want to do is actually physically wire the damper open and then maybe put doors on this so that the damper can never be left shut by accident. There have been so many tragedies when those dampers have been left shut with gas logs, where people have suffered horribly from carbon-monoxide poisoning. So, you need to be really careful to make sure you’re not creating an unsafe situation. I’d rather see the damper be wired open so it can’t be shut. Then you can put a pair of glass doors on that fireplace to keep the drafts from getting into the house. OK?
BILL: Yeah, OK. Thanks a lot.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, anyone who’s dealt with them can tell you this: frozen pipes are an expensive headache. But the good news is there are several things you can do to keep them from freezing in the first place.
LESLIE: Now, if it’s a very cold night, go ahead and open the doors to any of those under-sink cabinets that are along the outside walls. This really is most often your kitchen-sink cabinet. Now, this is going to let some warm air in and it prevents it from becoming a freezer under there, leading to those frozen water lines.
TOM: Next, you want to bundle up your pipes, just like you do with a winter coat. You can wrap insulation around the pipes in underheated crawlspaces, attics and basements. And you can use foam tubes, fiberglass tubes or fiberglass pipe wrap to make sure they stay nice and toasty.
LESLIE: Yeah. And think about all those drafts that you feel in the crawlspace and the basement. Now, those drafts can actually freeze uninsulated pipes in a matter of just a few hours. So once you find those drafts, consider using expanding foam sealant and that can help you seal out all of those drafts for good.
TOM: And finally, keep your heat always above 55 degrees all winter long. Shutting off or lowering unused heating zones can definitely cause water-heating lines to freeze in walls and ceilings.
And by the way, if they do freeze, don’t use heat tape as a permanent appliance. Heat tape is like this long strip that warms up and it’s good for freeing up a frozen pipe. But you can’t leave it on 24/7. It is not a solution and you should never, ever insulate over it.
I can’t tell you, Leslie, how many times, in the years I’ve spent as a home inspector, I found burnt insulation right on top of a heat tape. So, really dangerous thing to do that.
LESLIE: Peggy in Louisiana is on the line with a concrete question.
What can we do for you today?
PEGGY: Well, we have a slab-concrete bottom and they built up with the board skeleton and it’s covered with vinyl siding. And being Louisiana, it rains a lot. And the rain comes on the porch to where it’s eating the inside wall, which is wooden on the bottom. And I want to know how I can seal the outside vinyl siding to concrete slab to keep the water from coming in.
TOM: So what’s happening is that your concrete slab is in contact with the bottom of the vinyl siding? Is that correct?
TOM: And right under that siding, is that a wood wall all the way down to the bottom where that slab is? Because, typically, you’d have about 6 inches of foundation before you started the siding, at a minimum. And then the vinyl siding would start. So if your vinyl siding is going down flush to the slab, it’s going to be almost impossible for you to seal it in any way, shape or form from the outside and stop that from happening.
Your only chance would be to take the siding off and then to install some flexible flashings. There’s different types of flashing that you can use. There are rubberized flashings that are very good because you can basically form them wherever you need, to get that entire area as tight as you possibly can. And then put the siding back on on top of that.
Siding itself, especially vinyl siding, if you were to caulk that or anything of that nature, it’s not really designed to seal in that way. So I feel like you’re just going to be kind of running yourself in circles there. And while it could stop to some extent or slow down, at least temporarily, that leakage that you’re reporting, the only way to really fix that and to get to the bottom of it is to pull that siding off and to flash it. And we’re only talking about the bottom of the siding here, not all the siding on the house. But the bottom couple of pieces would have to come off to do this job.
PEGGY: OK. Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: Ron in Virginia is on the line with a window question.
How can we help you today?
RON: Yes. I just moved to Virginia from Florida and I bought a house that has single-pane, double-hung windows. We have aluminum storm windows on the outside. And I was wondering if that’s going to be efficient for the wild winters we get here. Or should I look into insulated windows?
LESLIE: Well, you know, generally, when you’re talking about a single-pane window, if it was truly on its own, we’d say it’s not that efficient. But because you have a storm window, that automatically makes it that much more efficient.
And a storm window is fairly easy to replace. I mean you can get a new storm window that has a different type of coating on it that could improve its efficiency. Because what you’re doing is you’re essentially creating that space of air between the storm window and the main window and that’s allowing the cold air to stop before it gets into your home. So, especially if you’re able to upgrade just the storm window itself, you’ll really be able to create quite an efficient window within your home and do well for the winter months.
RON: OK. That’s great. And the windows – the storm windows – do look the original and rather lightweight in structure. I do like the wood windows that the house has, so I will look into that. Thank you.
TOM: Great. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, we all spend a third of our life in bed, so the right mattress is a must. If you’ve got an old, saggy mattress, that’s just not going to provide the support that you need for healthy sleep. And that’s going to leave you feeling icky, achy and sore in the morning.
Now, 5 to 7 years is usually a lifespan for a mattress. But if you buy a new mattress, it’s a big project in more ways than one. Not only is it a large and heavy piece of your bedroom belongings, there’s the need to get rid of the old one at the same time.
LESLIE: Yeah. It really is kind of a lot of work. And there’s so many choices, because there’s a lot of things out there. So if you’re due for a replacement, we’re going to help you with some smart shopping suggestions. That’s a lot of Ss. Smart shopping suggestions.
Now, first of all, guys, you need to know the different comfort levels that are available to you. You can choose from firm, plush or pillowtop mattresses. Now, firm is self-explanatory. Plush is going to offer support but it does allow more pressure points to kind of sink into that mattress. And a pillowtop is going to be the softest of all.
Now, you may also see some sales-y labeling with wording like ultra-firm or super-plush but don’t go ahead – like ignore that stuff; that’s all hype. There’s really no regulation to those categories, so it’s kind of hard to determine what exactly they mean.
TOM: Also, be aware that the stuff that makes up a mattress can also impact your comfort. Those with allergies, for example, or sensitivity should shop for mattresses that are constructed from all-natural, hypoallergenic materials like organic cotton, synthetic-free latex fills and naturally flame-retardant wool casings.
LESLIE: Yeah. And as you shop, kind in mind that while higher spring counts can be impressive, the number of springs really doesn’t affect the comfort of the mattress in question.
And lastly, take advantage of manufacturers’ sort of try-before-you-buy programs. Because that’s going to guarantee comfort. They’re going to let you use that mattress for – some say 90 days at your own home, sleep on it. And then, if you don’t like it, they’ll totally refund your purchase. Now, usually they’ll tell you you have to donate it somewhere, so you’re going to have to figure that out. But it’s totally worth it to try it at home.
TOM: So many companies are doing that today. I think I could do that every 3 months, have a new mattress. It’s kind of like a mattress-replacement program.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. Could you imagine? But how much better is it than going into the store? I remember the last time I bought a mattress, going to the store and laying down on each one and being like, “I don’t know. Is it good? Do I like it?”
TOM: I think anything like that after COVID is not going to be a very popular or sanitary way of checking anything out.
TOM: I am not going to be laying down on a mattress in a store anytime soon, that’s for sure.
LESLIE: Well, you don’t want to put your face into a stranger’s pillow? Come on.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: Mona in Wyoming, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MONA: I’ve got a garage that has a low spot in it up by the front tire. And the snow comes off of it and then sits there; it doesn’t drain out. And then it freezes and then I have a skating rink.
TOM: Oh, boy.
MONA: Yeah. And I’m just wondering if there’s anything that I can use to either kind of fill in that hole and spread it out, you know, make it more level or if – what would happen if I drilled holes down through it?
TOM: Well, that was my first thought, Mona. If you were to fill this in, if I was to tell you how to fill this in, do you think that that would allow the water to drain out?
MONA: Probably not.
TOM: OK. That’s what I was afraid of.
MONA: Unless I filled it quite a bit and then sloped it back.
TOM: There is a way to do that. There are materials called “patching compounds.” They’re epoxy in nature or they’re made of other materials that are designed specifically to adhere to the old floor. And so, one thing you could do would be to basically relevel the floor using an epoxy patching compound to smooth out those areas.
Another idea that comes to mind is that there are a number of garage floors out there that are modular in nature, that can be assembled on top of the concrete and basically give you about an extra ½-inch of height. And the water, if it collects at all, would be kind of below that level. They’re made to drain, they’re perforated, they’re durable and they look pretty cool, too. I’m thinking of one that snaps together and looks like tiles that can actually be quite a décor element, as well, and has more traction than the concrete would itself.
MONA: And it would go over the low spot and still be level?
TOM: You would put it over the entire floor. You basically would redo the whole floor of the garage with this material.
MONA: And so what about drilling holes in it? You think then I may have more water come up through? That was my concern.
TOM: Probably not. Because I think what’ll happen is it’ll just clog up. I don’t think it’s going to be effective. I mean I guess it’s possible you could put a drain in there if you really drilled a big hole but we don’t know what we’re going to run up against when you get through that concrete.
MONA: No. No, it’s gravel underneath but …
TOM: Yeah. But it’s a pretty big job and if you were to drill it, I think you’re probably just going to clog up. I don’t think it would be an effective drain unless you actually put a properly sized drain in there and that’s just a bigger project. If you think smoothing this out – that low spot’s going to solve it, then I would just use a patching compound on it and try it. You’ve got nothing to lose and see what happens. If you decide you don’t like that, you could always go with a floor-tile option after that.
MONA: You have a tile option – a manufacturer that you would recommend for that?
TOM: Yeah. Home Depot has dozens of these garage-floor tiles. Now, they’re not going to have them in the store but if you go to HomeDepot.com and just search “garage-floor tiles,” you’ll see what the options are. Lots and lots of options and some of them are quite attractive.
MONA: OK. Well, I appreciate your help. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Give us a call, shoot us an email, post your question. Whatever you do, here is a great reason to reach out: we’re giving away a Cordless 5-in-1 Professional Staple and Nail Gun from Arrow Fastener.
It’s really great; it combines power and performance along with comfort and convenience. And you can do some really great projects for upholstering, woodworking, insulation, crafting, lots of stuff for you to help you get through the holiday season and make it really nice. And it’s got a powerful lithium-ion battery that’s going to fire over 1,000 staples per full charge. It’s available for 75 bucks but it could be yours for free.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mark in North Carolina is having some issues with door paint.
Tell us what’s going on.
MARK: I’ve got a metal door. It faces east. The sun rises on it. It’s a solid-white steel door but it’s got a solid-glass storm door in front of it. And I have painted it for the last 19 years and the paint peels off. Looks like Shirley Temple’s curls.
TOM: So here’s what happens. When you keep putting paint upon paint upon paint, eventually those layers just delaminate and they will not stick. So, what you have to do, at this point, is pull that door off and strip it all the way down to the metal. You need to get all that old paint off.
Once all that old paint is off, you sand it very lightly. And then I want you to use an oil-based primer, like a Rust-Oleum. Paint it on, let it dry. And once it’s good and solid, then you can put one or two coats of topcoat over that.
But I think you’re putting good paint over bad paint and it’s just finding a new layer and separating. And you’re right: when you have those storm doors on, it does add to the stress of that finish. But I think if you strip down all that old paint, get it back down to the metal, sand it up, put a primer on it and a couple of coats of finish paint over that, I think it’ll stick that time, Mark.
LESLIE: Well, bathroom remodeling is one of the most popular projects for this time of year because everybody wants it done before the holidays. Now, the biggest challenge is that it can be complicated and costly to get done, not to mention inconvenient, especially if it’s the only bathroom you’ve got in the house.
TOM: Well, luckily, you don’t need to tear into walls or completely reconfigure plumbing to get great results. So we’re going to share some tips for making small-scale improvements and changes to your bathroom that will create the kind of space that you need.
LESLIE: Yeah. So, first, let’s talk about a few ways that you can increase the space in your small bathroom.
So, think about adding a corner sink: pedestal style, wall-mounted. Whichever option you choose, a corner sink is going to give you that functional charm but free up that floor space in the bathroom. Something with a bigger footprint can definitely feel like it takes up a lot of space, so this is a good trick to make a small space seem bigger.
Now, another option is adding a cabinet-mounted vessel sink. So, the sink is then mounted on top of a scaled-down cabinet or perhaps a less traditional piece of furniture, like an antique dresser, that’s going to give you some style but it also can help you find a little bit of needed storage.
TOM: Now, you can also switch out your toilet to one with a flat tank top. This gives you another storage spot where you can place organizers directly on top of it. Or you can take advantage of the wall space above it for, say, a hanging cabinet or some shelving.
Now, in terms of showers, consider adding a curved what’s called a “quadrant shower unit.” Curved quadrant showers sport two straight sides and they’re mounted into a corner and then they have a curved entry, which is where the door is. Now, that actually saves you at least a square foot of space compared with a traditional square shower unit.
LESLIE: Now, here’s another option: you can go with a smaller, deeper tub because you’re going to get a great soak with a deep-set seating. Small clawfoot tubs are an option. And modern fixtures that are inspired by Japanese tubs, they’re becoming pretty popular and they do take up a small footprint while looking amazingly great and giving you that lovely bath that you want.
And lastly, use lower-profile faucets and fixtures. You’re going to find that visual space is going to open up when you select these low-profile fixtures, while the range of styles – there’s a ton out there. So it really does allow you to beautifully accessorize a very small bath. And I’m telling you, with just these little changes, you can definitely feel like you have a much larger space.
Denise in Michigan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DENISE: I have a front porch. We fixed it last year, the front of it. And the cement that we used fell off. What is the best product to use?
TOM: Well, the reason it fell off is because you used cement on cement or cement on concrete. You need to use a patching product. There are special mixes of concrete products that are designed for patching and they have better adhesion to them. So, take a look at the products available from QUIKRETE and if you can find – you’ll find their patching product sticks very, very well. Generally, you have to make sure that the original surface is clean and then you could apply this. And you’ll find that it has good adhesion and that’s the key.
You just can’t put new concrete on old concrete or new cement on old concrete because it’s not designed to stay. The water gets under it and starts to loosen things up. But if you use the patching compounds, I’ll think you’ll find that it will stick around for quite a long time.
DENISE: OK. Thank you so much for your help. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sherry reached out saying, “I have bubbled walls and ceilings from a leak in my upstairs bathroom. How do I repair the ceiling?”
TOM: First, you repair the leak, right?
LESLIE: Yes. You hope that’s done.
TOM: Want to make sure the leak’s under control. So, it’s a great question.
Now, the first thing you want to do, if the wall or the ceiling is physically deformed – and I don’t just mean like bubbles of paint but actually physically swollen. Because sometimes, if a leak goes on a long time, that can happen. If that’s the case, you have to cut out the damaged drywall, unfortunately.
But if it’s just like paint bubbles and you can scrape them away, what you’re going to want to do is spackle everything smooth. Then – and this is really important – you have to prime the ceiling or the walls over those stains. If you don’t prime them, that sort of dark, rust-colored stain that always forms when you have a water leak, it will just bleed right through the finish paint. You’ve got to seal it first by priming it and then you paint over the whole thing. And you should be good to go.
And by the way, if you do get a leak – and I talked about the drywall swelling – the first thing you want to do – and it’s kind of counterintuitive. But if you’ve got a leak and water’s coming through a ceiling, poke holes in it. It’s a lot easier to poke holes and drain the water behind it than it is to tear down the entire ceiling and replace it.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, Jessica wrote in asking if there’s a simple way to tell if a wall is load-bearing. “Or do I need to find the blueprints to my home?”
Well, don’t knock it down to find out.
TOM: Yeah. Is there a simple way? I can’t say there’s a simple way. I can tell you, generally speaking, load-bearing walls are parallel to the front and rear walls of the house. Typically, the wall in between that goes down the middle of the house, that’s load-bearing but not always. If you go to your basement and you see a beam in that area, you can kind of figure out that the load-bearing walls are going to be in the middle. Usually – and I say usually, because not always – but walls that are perpendicular to the front and rear wall are not.
So that’s about as general advice I can give you now. But if you’re going to do a serious project, you need to find a pro that can tell you for absolute sure what kind of walls you’re dealing with.
LESLIE: And you know, Jessica, even if it is a load-bearing wall, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. You just have to take some extra steps to make sure everything is shored up while you properly support everything else. And you can still achieve the look you want. So don’t be afraid.
TOM: Well, are leftovers taking over your fridge? Now is an excellent time to clean out and freshen up this very hardworking appliance. Leslie has seen her share of leftovers left too long and has some tips on how to freshen the fridge once again, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, guys. I mean the fridge definitely is a hardworking spot in your kitchen. And if you tend to just stuff that fridge with all of the things you’ve got kicking around but not really clean it, you’re going to be sorry in the long run.
Now, here’s why. That insulating material in the fridge is made of foam. And once that foam absorbs whatever foul, stinky odor you’ve got in there, there’s really no way to get rid of them. We’ve seen refrigerators that work perfectly well need to be tossed to the curb because of those forgotten leftovers that just sort of stunk up those inside spaces.
So, here’s what you can do to avoid that. You want to get in the habit of cleaning up any spills that happen in the fridge immediately. Toss your leftovers once a week or so. Check out old condiments. They’re dated for a reason. So if they’re old, get rid of them.
Now, if you want a fresh-smelling fridge, there’s really an easy trick. Empty the fridge out, clean all those surfaces with a solution of water and baking soda, then soak a paper towel with vanilla extract and leave it in the fridge overnight. When it comes morning time, that fridge is really going to smell so wonderful. So it’s a good start. And go ahead, maintain that cleanliness in that fridge space and you’ll be so happy with the scents coming out of there for a long while.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time, rain gutters are not a very exciting part of your home. But if they’re not maintained, some pretty serious damage can occur. So we’re going to share some tips to keep your gutters in tip-top shape, 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.
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