TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And hey, what are you working on this fine winter day? If home improvement is on your to-do list or perhaps décor, maintenance, repair, honey-do lists, we’d love to chat about that with you and help you out. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
We’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, bathrooms are a space that usually we feel pretty stuck with. It’s a little space, it’s small, it might already be tiled. And changing all that is very expensive. But there are a lot of little things you can do in just a weekend and for just a few bucks that can truly make a big difference. We’ll share some of the décor-on-a-dime tips, just ahead.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, if you own a home, nobody likes surprises, you know, like when things break down unexpectedly. But by setting a realistic household budget for some home maintenance, you can reduce those surprises and the expense of emergency repairs. We’re going to have a rule of thumb to do just that, coming up.
TOM: So give us a call right now. We’d love to talk with you about your home improvement project, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Marcia in Illinois needs some help getting a window unstuck. Tell us about it.
MARCIA: I have a window over my sink in my kitchen, so I have to lean over the sink to raise this window. And it’s always been extremely hard to get up or down and I just don’t know what to do with it. I think I’ve tried WD-40.
TOM: Is this a wood window, Marcia?
MARCIA: Yes, it’s a wood window.
TOM: So, probably over the years, it’s gotten bigger, swollen in its place. And it’s gotten tighter in the jambs. And I’ll presume with paint, too, over the years that that didn’t make it any better. So, why don’t you think about a replacement window? Look, we can talk to you about taking this whole window apart and sanding down the jambs and sanding down the sashes and making it easier to use and replacing the cords and the balance and all that work. But I think this would be a good time to treat yourself to a replacement window.
You don’t have to do all the windows in the house. You can buy a double-hung replacement window at a home center today for a couple hundred bucks and it’s a pretty good-quality window. So, you may want to think about replacing just this one window. Or in the alternative, you can pull the trim off, you can take the sashes apart and you could sand them and sand them well. And that will make them a little bit smaller all the way around and make them easier to operate. And of course, also make sure that the balances are working.
Now, if it’s an old, wood window, you may have cords or chains that go up and you want to make sure that they’re still attached, because that gives you a little bit of assistance as you open and close the window.
MARCIA: OK. Well, I appreciate your advice. I guess I’ll have to invest in a new window.
TOM: I think it’s going to be easier than all the work it would take to get the old window working. And I’m all for easy and that’s why I suggest that. OK, Marcia? Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
And look, if you’ve got these old windows, you can work on them and put 8, 10 hours into a window and sure, it’ll be just as good as new. But why? It’s still going to be an old, drafty, wood window when you can go buy a double-pane, vinyl-clad window – a replacement window – that slips inside the existing opening and just have better energy efficiency and a window that really works, tilts in to clean, the works. Just doesn’t make any sense.
LESLIE: You’re still going to have to reach over that sink. It’s just going to be easier to work.
LESLIE: Jesse in Nevada is on the line with a heating issue. What’s going on at your money pit?
JESSE: I have a two-story house and my furnace is upstairs. So when I turn the heater on and I set my temperature to 68 degrees, all the three bedrooms are too hot. And so I kind of set the temperature to 65. And downstairs is just too cold. And it seems like it’s not circulating – the heat is not circulating downstairs. And I called the heater company and a guy that came told me that there’s nothing that he can do about it and that’s why I called.
TOM: So, what kind of heat do you? Is it forced air or hot water?
JESSE: It’s forced air.
TOM: And have you checked the airflow at all of the registers to make sure you’re getting a good flow of air at all those spaces, Jesse?
JESSE: No, sir, I did not.
TOM: First of all, it’s always warmer upstairs, right? And it’s going to be warmer in the winter and also warmer in the summer.
TOM: So, what you need to do is a couple of things. First of all, you want to make sure you have good airflow at all of the rooms. So you check the registers. An easy way to do this is to take a paper towel and hold it in front of the register when the heat’s on to make sure it’s blowing pretty good.
Equally important is you need return ducts. You need that air from the registers to get to the return ducts. So, you want to check the return ducts. You can do it the same way: hold the paper towel against it. It should suck flat against that return duct, just hold itself right there in midair.
If you don’t have a good airflow, in some cases you can adjust the airflow on heating systems. Some duct systems have dampers built into them where they can be adjusted. If it’s not a matter of adjusting and you still have good airflow, then there’s some imbalance in the design. And that’s when it comes to figuring out how to deal with that.
Can you add additional duct lines to provide additional heat or maybe should you consider supplemental heat? Should you consider, perhaps, an electric-resistant strip heater in a room or a wall – a through-the-wall heat pump in the room or something of that nature? So, you really need to kind of break it down and making sure the heating system is doing what it’s designed to do. And then, beyond that, try to figure out how to accommodate the areas that are still uncomfortable.
JESSE: OK. I’m going to try that.
TOM: Alright, Jesse. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Shawnie (sp) in North Carolina needs some help with a backyard problem. What’s going on at your money pit?
SHAWNIE (sp): And on my roof, I knew it would rain. All the water would drain toward the back, since it’s on a downslope.
SHAWNIE (sp): And then I had some – a contractor come in and connect all my downspouts and all to this black pipe. And they connected all of it and ran it out to one source toward, you know, that little creek. And in doing so – I mean everything was fine; it worked fine. And they thought where I was having such water problems, they sort of made a horseshoe out of the black pipe, with the Styrofoam peanuts and all of that in it.
But what they did, when they dug around the horseshoe area, they found that that was dry. Because they figured if it was wet, it would drain and take care of the problem. But when they put that horseshoe in, wherever they put it, it was completely dry and it was further down that they realized that I had an underground spring.
So, all of my drain pipes, everything is draining perfectly but it’s one little problem I had with that underground spring.
TOM: But is that underground spring rising up to the point where the yard is flooding? And how much flooding are we talking about here?
SHAWNIE (sp): It’s not necessarily flooding but it stays so wet I can’t mow it.
TOM: It’s just wet?
SHAWNIE (sp): And there’s a place about – I’m going to say 12-inches square-ish, maybe, that is – has puddled.
TOM: I don’t think this is a problem worth solving. I think it’s a fairly small area of the yard. And areas of the yard that get soft like that, yeah, the grass can be hard to cut sometimes; sometimes, you have to cut it by hand instead of using a power mower on it. But I don’t think it’s worth you doing anything about it. You would have to do some major, major work to try to take the water that’s collecting there, run it downstream and have it sit somewhere else. So, I don’t think it’s necessarily a big issue.
Shawnie (sp), thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll give you a hand with whatever you are working on. Maybe you’ve got a boring bathroom or one that’s simply stuck in the past. We’re going to share some easy bathroom-makeover ideas, after this.
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ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by CliqStudios.com, the smarter way to a designer kitchen. Tell us more about your project at CliqStudios.com/Radio and receive a free custom-kitchen design. That’s C-l-i-q-Studios.com/Radio.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What’s on your to-do list this weekend? Slide it over to ours. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tim on the line who’s dealing with a big crack in a driveway, causing some unevenness. Tell us what’s going on.
TIM: Well, I have a concrete driveway. It’s 3 inches thick; I found that out after I saw the crack in the driveway. And they poured this driveway in one – as far as width. And they put it – it’s probably 16-foot wide and they poured it in 16×12-foot sections with – it looks like fracture pieces in it instead of the actual expansion joints? And where it goes over my drop – the ditch over my cupboard – it has a spot about a – 1 foot in a triangle – 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot – where it has dropped.
And I’m trying to find some way to bring that piece back up level with the rest. That way, I can see – I’ve already had it sealed but I put a silicone in there along the joints to keep any further erosion from happening.
TOM: How big is the piece that’s dropped? You said – is it cracked 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot?
TIM: Yes. It’s a 1-foot triangle piece.
TOM: So can you dig that piece out?
TIM: No, I can’t, because it did not break on a smooth line. It fractured and it dropped down.
TOM: Yeah. Because you know – I tell you what, I’ve broken sidewalks in half before, because I had to run pipes underneath them and then put them back in place kind of right where they were and just sort of filled them up and made it level. So, it would be sweet if you could extract that piece of concrete but I guess you can’t. And so now you’re going to have to pour a new piece.
How thick is the – how far down has it dropped?
TIM: The front – on the back edge of it, it’s still level. On the front, it’s probably dropped about 3 inches.
TOM: OK. Well, not so bad. What you’re going to do is you’re going to mix up an epoxy-based, concrete-repair product that has good adhesion.
TOM: And then you’re going to put a second layer on that. And QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E …
TOM: Yeah, you want to use the type of concrete mix that’s made to be a patch. And the difference is that it sticks to the old stuff. If you use regular concrete mix, it won’t stick. But if you use the patch mix, then it will stick. And they also have good step-by-step videos on their website to kind of show you how to do this.
TIM: OK. Would I be better off by just knocking that one piece – that piece – out and refilling it, since it’s not that big of a piece?
TOM: Yeah, you might be, because I want to make sure it’s stable underneath. But they – there’s a vinyl, concrete patcher product that can be used on top of this. And it’s designed to adhere to what was there before and not crack again. OK?
TIM: I appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, bathrooms can be challenging spaces to work in but making those spaces look better and feel more comfortable doesn’t have to include a major makeover.
You know, you guys, I want to talk about bathroom vanities. I want to say that they can be super expensive or they can be very, very affordable. And changing out an existing sink is an easy project and completely transforms the look of a bathroom. So, look into some options. You can find some on sale. You can find some whether you’re looking at a vintage piece of furniture, maybe a dresser that you can modify with a sink on top or a new countertop on top and then maybe a vessel sink. There’s lots of different ways that you can do it. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. And they can really transform the look of the space.
The other thing that can be truly transformative other than paint, of course – let’s always assume paint is the top of the list. You paint, your spaces look different; you’ve suddenly got a changed space. But lighting has a similar effect. Change your lighting fixtures in your bathroom and suddenly, it becomes a new space. It could become way more functional, as well, if you add a dimmer. And a ceiling fixture doesn’t just have to be a high-hat. You can do a really great mini chandelier or a mini ceiling-drum pendant. Something like that and suddenly, you’ve got a brand-new bathroom space.
TOM: Now, another option is wainscoting. That can make the room stand out no matter how big or small it is. And traditionally, wainscoting is about 3 feet tall and it’s mounted along the bottom of the wall. But the easiest way to do this is to buy beadboard. And the best thing is that beadboard is available in vinyl. It looks like wood but it’s made of vinyl, which is perfect for the bathroom. So you could have a nice, beautiful beadboard wainscoting, one piece of trim to cover the top edge and you will totally transform the look of that space for not a lot of money and frankly, in just a weekend.
LESLIE: Anne in Illinois is on the line with some sort of odor coming around her money pit. What’s going on?
ANNE: My mom is 87 and she was born and is still living in the exact same house. And she has a basement. It is a cement floor and it has two floor drains. In one drain, the air conditioner and furnace drips into. And then in the other drain, the shower and the washer drains into that. But periodically, we get that old, earthy, old smell that waffles around the basement and comes – starts coming upstairs. We’ve tried, for years, a bucket of water down the drain hoping that that gets rid of it but that really doesn’t last for long. So, do you have an easy solution for me?
TOM: Do you have any idea where these drains go – where these floor drains go?
ANNE: Yeah. No, I don’t.
TOM: Yeah. You don’t know if they’re connecting up with the main waste line of the house or not. Floor drains should, in a perfect world, connect with the rest of the waste lines for the house. And they tend to sometimes get an odor in them because the traps dry out. And the solution to that is, like you know, is to put a bucket of water in now and again. Because then that U-shape part of the pipe fills up with water and stops the sewage gas from backing up.
Is the smell that you’re getting a sewage-gas smell? Or is it just a dampness smell?
ANNE: It’s a damp, earthy smell.
TOM: Do you have any other evidence of moisture in that basement? Do you see efflorescence or mineral deposits on the walls? Does it look like they’ve leaked? Have you ever had a flood, that kind of thing?
ANNE: Nope, no flood. Occasionally, a crack in the foundation that …
TOM: Well, I think the first thing you need to do is figure out where those pipes are going. And one way to do that is to have a drain-cleaning company run a camera down there. It’s a pretty common test these days. It’s like a camera on the end of a snake and you can stick it in the pipe. And they can basically figure out where it’s going. Because if it’s not installed right, then that is an issue.
You might also consider abandoning some of those drains. And instead of running the – what was it? – the shower and the sink and the washer, sorry, into that, what you would do is you would install what’s called a “lift pump,” which is kind of a sealed container that gets filled up with water. And then a pump carries that water up high enough to let gravity drain it into the main waste line of the house. If that’s the case, then you could seal off that drain and not have to worry about it.
ANNE: Have you ever heard of something called a “drainger” (ph)?
TOM: That’s a good idea. And that’s an approach. And basically, what it is is it’s a drain that also prevents back-gassing or backdrafting out of that drain. So it’s kind of like a ball valve that the water can flow through it but the valve itself – the check valve – stops the sewage gas from getting back in. If you want to keep running that washer and that shower into the drain, then that’s probably a good option. But I really don’t like the idea of the washer and the shower running into that drain. I think it should be properly plumbed through a lift pump so it lifts it up and out and directly into the waste line going out of the house.
ANNE: Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Bill in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BILL: I’m trying to clean some pressure-treated deck. This is on the second floor of my house and also on the ground is stone. What we have here in Tennessee is Crab Orchard stone; it’s a soft stone. And it’s turned black. The stone has turned black over time and it’s about 15 years old. And the pressure-treated wood has turned black, also, and I wanted to see what the best thing to clean both of them – I’ve tried cleaner on the end of a garden hose and it don’t – and I followed the instructions but it didn’t do much at all.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean it sounds like a combination of the wood aging and also mold or algae.
Now, you know, a pressure washer set to an aggressive but gentle setting, if that makes any sense, will probably do the best to kind of attack this growth on it. If you could use some bleach and water or Wet & Forget – a product like that that will do a good job of – I’m not going to say “attacking” but you know what I mean: really aggressively going at this growth. That will probably do a good job of getting to the base of it and removing it from it.
If you can get more sunlight on the area to sort of beat this shady mold growth that’s happening, that will help tremendously. There’s some things that you can do there.
BILL: OK. That’s good. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, if you’re a family that’s got to deal with food allergies, first of all, you know how serious they are and you know how challenging they can be, as well. But you also know that you’ve got to keep separate storage and prep areas in your kitchen. That truly is a must. We’re going to have some kitchen-design ideas presented by CliqStudios.com that can help, after this.
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LESLIE: Making good homes better, you are tuned to The Money Pit. I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And I’m Tom Kraeutler. So happy to have you with us today.
Hey, you can also listen to The Money Pit by podcast. Simply go to MoneyPit.com and subscribe to the podcast. It’s also available on Google Play and on iTunes.
LESLIE: Heading over to Florida, where Peter has lost power in the bathroom.
Peter, what’s going on and can you see what you’re doing?
PETER: Yeah, I had a GFI go bad. And when I went to change it over, for some reason I couldn’t get any juice to the receptacle underneath the sink. So, I got juice to where I put the new one in but – so I went down to Home Depot – I listen to you folks all the time – and I got a new one. And the gentleman over there told me to find the hot wires go and put them on the receptacle where it says “line.” And then the other two hook up on the bottom of it.
TOM: Peter, do you know that the ground-fault circuit worked properly and then it stopped working?
PETER: Yes, sir.
TOM: So it worked properly and then stopped working. Have you considered the fact that the ground-fault circuit interrupter could be doing its job and then there could be a problem elsewhere in the circuit?
PETER: Yeah, I didn’t give a thought about that. No, I didn’t.
TOM: So, I think that when ground-fault circuit interrupters start to trip, people say, “Oh, it must be a bad circuit breaker,” and they don’t consider the fact that the circuit breaker is, in fact, doing its job detecting a diversion of current to a ground source and tripping to prevent you from getting a shock.
So, the solution wouldn’t be necessarily first to replace the ground fault. I would investigate further to see what exactly is happening and causing that to trip. I think, based on your description of what you’ve done thus far, that this might be just a little bit above your skill set. And while we can respect the fact that you’re doing this on your own, when it comes to electricity you want to get it right. And if you were to miswire that and in fact, perhaps, you – there are different ways to hook up ground faults. And if you do it one way, you can get it to trip and not protect the rest of the circuit. So, it would appear to be working correctly when, in fact, it wouldn’t.
So this is not the kind of thing I would recommend that you do yourself, Peter, with all due respect. I would definitely have an electrician look at this because I suspect that the ground fault is doing its thing. They rarely go bad. And if it’s tripping, it’s probably tripping because something is going on elsewhere in the circuit.
The ground faults will cover everything that’s on that circuit. So if you had, for example, a loose wire somewhere down the line and that was causing some sort of an arcing condition, that could trigger the ground fault to go off.
So, contact an electrician. This is the kind of job that you should not do yourself, because I want to make sure that the problem is what you think it is and it gets properly fixed.
Peter, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen, getting a design that works is really the first step. But for the 15 million Americans that suffer from food allergies, that design has to be even more carefully thought out with separate storage and prep and even cleanup areas to meet the dietary and food and allergy needs of the users.
LESLIE: Yeah. For example, for those families, they really do need dedicated storage areas for equipment or even products that can’t be mixed with their other household goods – like pots and pans, utensils, even plates – because you’ve got to avoid cross-contamination. And you’re also going to want to use surfaces in your new kitchen design that are really easy to clean, like a quartz countertop and tile or even wood flooring. Cleaning is key here, guys.
TOM: And that’s just another reason that kitchen design really should be left to the pros, which is why we like to recommend CliqStudios.com. You know, CliqStudios.com is very unique in that they offer a free, no-obligation design service. And that means that you get to work with their design team to design your new kitchen-cabinet layout so it can meet your own family’s needs. And you can do that at no cost. To take advantage of it, just go to CliqStudios.com/Free and sign up for the free design consultation.
LESLIE: Yeah. It really is a great service because all you do is head to CliqStudios.com/Free and you sign up with a few details about your kitchen, like its size. And you can even upload the pictures of what your space looks like now. Then, the CliqStudios.com team is going to match you with one of their professional kitchen designers who’s going to work with you to create a set of plans for your individual, personalized dream kitchen.
TOM: And if you’re looking for inspiration and ideas, you can also download a free design guide that was put together by the editors at This Old House. It’s all free at CliqStudios.com/Free. And Cliq is spelled C-l-i-q-Studios – with an S – .com. That’s C-l-i-q-Studios.com/Free.
LESLIE: Kathy in Indiana is on the line and is dealing with a bald spot on her roof when it’s snowy out. And we’ve been getting a lot of snow this winter, so your house must look like it’s in need of a toupée.
What’s going on, Kathy?
KATHY: Hi. Yes, we just moved down here from Wisconsin, down to Indiana. We bought this house and we’ve been doing a lot of work on it. And when we got our first snow, I noticed, on the back part, there is a – like a foot-and-a-half-inch diameter bald spot every time we get a snowfall. And we had a friend – a contractor – come down. He went up in the attic and he’s like, “There is nothing going on here.” So the only thing we thought, well, maybe is going on is we have a heat pump and we also have our dryer vent in that same area back there.
And so now I had two different suggestions. He said to put a soffit venting on that whole area to get more air going up through there and possibly maybe it’s coming from the heat pump. But then I went to The Home Depot and I was talking to the guy there that seemed to know quite a bit. And he said – and what he would do is take it and remove all the vented area – vented soffit in that area. And so if there is heat coming up – he said, “But this shouldn’t happen.” He said, “This is what people do. They put their heat pumps outside.” And he’d never heard of anything like this before.
So we ended up doing that and so we don’t know yet if that actually helped it or not but …
TOM: Yeah, it’s not hurting the roof not having snow on that one spot. If you want to know why it’s happening, it’s because that spot is warmer than the other spots around it. Now, why is it warmer? Well, you mentioned there is a dryer exhaust duct near there. If the dryer exhaust duct is not completely sealed, if it’s dumping warm air in there, that’s going to heat up that spot over the roof and then any snow that hits there is going to melt and roll down. If the insulation has some gap in it of some sort in there where more room air can get up and heat that area right above it, that could cause it, as well.
But I would not tell you to start messing with your venting and everything else just because you’ve got a foot-and-a-half spot that doesn’t – where snow doesn’t stick. It’s curious but it’s not a major problem and I wouldn’t recommend major work for it.
KATHY: OK. So it’s – we don’t have to be concerned that there is heat getting up there and it’s going to cause mold and issues going on?
TOM: Well, I mean I would try – I would determine if there’s an obvious source of warmth that’s getting into that spot. But actually adding heat to that area is not necessarily going to cause mold. You’ll get more mold in the less heated spaces, frankly. Because when you warm moist – when you warm air, it uses more moisture, essentially. That’s why the warm air holds more moisture, so that’s not really a concern. It’s just kind of a curious thing.
And if you’ve got a dryer vent that’s right near there, I’d start with that because that would make perfect sense. If the dryer vent is losing some of its air right in that space, that’s not a good idea, either, because you don’t want to be dumping any lint into the attic. That could be dangerous, OK?
KATHY: OK. Well, very good. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, are you getting around to formulating your yearly budget? Do you know how much money you should set aside for maintenance in your home each year? Well, we’re going to give you a formula to help figure that out, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, give us a call. What are you working on? Is it a décor project? We would love to give you some tips and advice at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania is on the line with a metal-roofing question. How can we help you today?
JIM: My question is – metal roofs. What’s the advantage of the metal over the shingle or vice versa? The cost? I see a lot of my neighbors putting the metal on.
TOM: So, metal roofs are probably the most durable roof available today. And so the main advantage is durability. The other thing that you can get with a metal roof is today, they’re coated with low-E coatings so they can actually reflect the sun in the summer and lower your cooling costs, as well.
The downside of metal roofs is that they’re very expensive. They’re called “investment-grade roofs,” very frequently, for a good reason. Because it’s the kind of roof you put on when you really want to invest in the house and it’s the house that you’re going to be in for the long haul. If it’s a short-term house for you, I probably would not recommend a metal roof because I don’t think you’ll get the value out of it when you sell. Certainly, you’ll get some value out of it but I don’t think you’ll get the cost of it. But if you’re like, “Listen, this is the house I’m going to be in for the next 20 or 30 years, maybe longer. I want to really do something that’s going to stand up with literally no maintenance,” then maybe a metal roof is for you.
Aesthetically, they’re beautiful. They come in all sorts of colors, all sorts of designs and they can really make your house stand out. But they are costly. Probably, I would say two to three times the cost of an asphalt-shingle roof.
JIM: But they’ll last 30 years, you say, or more?
TOM: They’ll last 50 years, they’ll last 75 years. They can last even longer than that.
JIM: Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s always a good idea to start a rainy-day fund for your house so that if it rains and say the roof leaks, you’re going to have some money set aside for those repairs. But how much exactly do you need to be saving? Well, here’s a good rule of thumb: you want to try to set aside about 1 percent of your home’s value to cover a year’s worth of repairs and maintenance. So if your home is worth $250,000, you should plan on spending about $2,500 over the course of the year on your house.
TOM: Now, that doesn’t include big expenses that you should anticipate every once in a while like, say, a new furnace or air conditioner or new roof or water heater, that sort of thing. If those components are aging from the start, it’s a good idea to set aside even more. And when it comes to appliances, it’s often cheaper to replace them than to repair them, especially older ones. We’ve got a quick reference guide on how to determine if it makes sense to repair or replace an appliance, online, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Ireda (sp) in Oregon, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
IREDA (sp): I have a house and it’s located on a slope, so my backyard’s actually sloping towards my dining room.
IREDA (sp): And recently, we had a big storm and I noticed that there is a couple of inches of standing water in the crawlspace.
IREDA (sp): So, I talked to a couple of people and then I did the research and they basically have two options. One suggestion is to do a French-pipe system outside of the house. Another thing is to have a French pipe inside of the house, in the crawlspace, with the pump and seal the whole crawlspace. And those two projects, they are in a different kind of budget price range. So I was wondering what you guys would recommend.
TOM: The problem that you’re having is a drainage issue and you have to figure out a way of intercepting that runoff before it gets to your crawlspace. You definitely don’t want to put this system in your crawlspace. Those are very expensive systems and what happens is you’re still going to have a lot of water in and around that crawlspace, which can make the structure unstable.
So, what you want to do is to put in a French drain that intercepts that water as it comes down the lawn and then runs around your house. The good news is is that there’s a new product out right now that makes that easier than ever and it’s simply called an EZ-Drain. And basically, it’s a French drain that’s wrapped in an aggregate that’s made out of foam pellets and then covered with a filter cloth.
Before, you used to have to dig a hole, put in stone, put in a perforated pipe, put in more stone, put in more filter cloth and then put in dirt. A lot of work. Now you just basically dig the hole, throw the EZ-Drain pipe in it, cover it up with dirt and you’re good to go. So, it’s really cut the expense and the time it takes to get this fixed down to nothing.
So, I think you are going to put in – need to put in a French drain in the backyard and using the EZ-Drain approach is the best way to go.
IREDA (sp): Oh, thank you. Is it OK if I put the soil – the existing soil or do – I heard that I need to purchase another type of soil because it’s all clay and everything when we dig out.
TOM: If you do have clay, you may want to use a clean fill dirt around that pipe. That would be just a little more porous and help the water flow into it easier.
TOM: Generally, I would say no, you know. If you have clay, you don’t want it to cake up. So I think that’s what you’re …
IREDA: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Yeah. The product is called EZ-Drain. It’s made by NDS and I think they sell it at The Home Depot. Just Google “EZ-Drain.” You should find it.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, are you tired of living with dust? Well, a few simple changes in your cleaning routine can make all of that dust disappear. We’ll have that tip, after this.
LESLIE: Making good homes better, you’ve got The Money Pit. I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: Hey, what are you working on this Money Pit weekend? Give us a call, shoot us an e-mail, post online. Whatever it is, we’d love to answer your questions. And I’ve got one here from Rachel who writes: “I want to convert my electric range to a gas range. But when the technician came to connect the gas, they told me they couldn’t because the local code requires 18 inches clearance from the top of the countertop to the bottom of the upper cabinets. And our clearance was about ¾-inch short. Our options seem to be to cut the cabinets lower to accommodate them or just cancel the project. What’s the best option that’s not going to break my wallet?”
TOM: Wow. Well, that means you have to go through an awful lot of work to get this gas system in. I’d frankly tell you to forget about gas. I don’t think it’s worth it to you to do that. You’re not going to have any economic savings because you’re going to have to pay to have the gas line put in, you’re going to have to have – pay to have a 120-volt outlet put in because you have a 240-volt outlet right now.
And modifying cabinets? Wow. That’s a lot of work. If you had the space, you could raise the wall cabinets up. That would be easier than working on the lower cabinets. But still, it’s an awful lot of work and expense just to go to a different fuel for cooking. I’d really tell you to stick with the gas – stick with the electric range.
Maybe pick up a new one. There’s a lot of great features out there. The induction ranges are beautiful.
LESLIE: Induction ranges are fantastic, super-efficient. I mean forget about burning your hands because those burners stay super cool to the touch. They only heat up when they have a magnetized pan or pot on it. And they heat up super fast. You can boil water almost instantaneously. So I would look into a better, well-designed, more modern electrical range and stove and you’ll find that you’ve got some good options out there.
TOM: Well, with the chilly weather ahead keeping us all inside, you might be finding that your home seems to get pretty dusty. Leslie has got some tips that can help keep that house dust in check, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. It really does start with vacuuming frequently. I truly enjoy vacuuming; I think it’s one of my favorite hobbies to do around the house. And I call it a “hobby” because I’ve decided now I just keep my vacuum out in the dining room, because I …
TOM: And you’re probably one of the only women in America or guys that would call vacuuming a “hobby” but OK. That works.
LESLIE: It’s fun. Tom, you and I have the same vacuum. We both have that Miele, the meal – I forget how to say the name. And it’s a great vacuum, so I find that I’m vacuuming more often than I should. But it’s fun. And it’s generally something that you should be doing.
And you want a vacuum that’s fitted with a HEPA filter. That’s a high-efficiency particulate air filter. Vacuums with HEPA filters are just much better at trapping those small particles than any other vacuum, because other vacuums just tend to shoot those right back into the air. And that’s truly an allergen-causing thing in your home. So if you have a HEPA filter, that’s going to take all of those particulates out of the air and then reduce the dust that’s in the space, because those are the particles that are floating around making more dust.
Now, if you’ve got a floor that’s not carpeted, you want to go ahead and use a wet mop. And that’s going to prevent the dust from accumulating. A dry mop? They can kind of just push that dust around, which doesn’t help with anything.
Now, your furniture, it really is a good idea to wipe it down with a microfiber cloth because those cloths have those smaller fibers and it kind of attracts all those little particles right to it. So you’re being – cleaning more efficiently, let’s say. Use the correct tools, clean better. Clean smarter, not harder. I think that’s a good saying there.
And you also want to make sure that if you’ve got a forced-air heating system in your home, you want to use those really high-quality air filters there. It also needs to be the right size. Otherwise, if you put the wrong size filter in – if it’s too small, the air is just going to kind of push around and not trap all the particulates. Tom always likes to say that the inexpensive ones are pebble-stoppers because that’s truly all that’s going to get stopped by those filters.
Spend a little bit more money, you’ll trap more particulates, you’ll reduce the amount of dust in the house, you won’t have to vacuum as often. Everybody is going to be happier. I’ll be sad because I’m not going to be vacuuming at your house but you never know. I could stop by.
TOM: I’m sure there are a lot of people that would love to have you come do just that.
LESLIE: I really would enjoy it.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, big houses, they sometimes get a bad rap from an environmental perspective but what matters is how we operate them. Kevin O’Connor is going to be stopping by with tips that can help us do just that, on the 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 2017 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.)