- Adding a basement bathroom can make the space more useable and but below grade bathrooms need special designs in order to drain. We’ll share what you need to know to make sure your bathroom will “go with the flow”.
- When you ask for a 2×4 at the local lumber yard, did you now that the wood they give you actually measures a lot less? These days it’s not always easy to get what you pay for – and that includes buying lumber. We share why and how make sure your money goes as far as it can when buying materials.
- Wondering how much it costs to maintain a house? We share a simple formula to lay out what you should you budget for the cost of home repair and maintenance.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Nadine in Iowa has an unusually noisy countertop.
- Tyler from Indiana wants to know if he should do a full basement remodel to sell his house.
- Don in Illinois has a slippery sidewalk and wants to know if he can put a sealer on the sidewalk to give it more traction.
- Sandra from North Carolina wants to know if high quality air filters are worth the expense.
- Randy in Arkansas wants to replace the tub and install a handicap shower kit.
- Jessica from Missouri has a floor that has settled in the middle and needs tips on how to repair it.
- Barry is looking for the best air filter for his HVAC.
- Jane Ellen in Pennsylvania wants to know if double-pane or triple-pane windows are most efficient for her part of the country.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. What’s going on, guys? I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Are you still sitting around your house? We hope not. We hope maybe you’re starting to get outside, even if it’s cold weather out there, and enjoy some of the great outdoors. And maybe you’re thinking about doing a great outdoors project to get your house ready for when it warms up. Maybe you’re thinking about a kitchen, maybe you’re thinking about a bathroom. Maybe you just want to do some painting.
I’ve got to do a little bit of all those projects, Leslie, because my wife and I own a condominium that we actually bought when we first got married. And we kept it, we rented it through the years. And we’ve had a tenant. A great tenant moved out and so we were over there checking it out. And so my to-do list is regrout the master-bathroom shower.
TOM: And then the laundry room, which is kind of a small laundry room, we notice that all of the tiles are sort of getting loose. Because when you kind of go and you always stand in front of the washer – so those are kind of getting loose. I want to put a new floor in and then I’m going to put that Duravana floor in, by the way, from LL. Because I think it’s going to be really solid, right? With a condo, you don’t want to have to do any maintenance.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s perfect.
TOM: And then I’ve got to paint the whole place and that’s it. Oh and did I mention the hardwood floor? The hardwood floor hasn’t been done in a long time but – so I’m going – and it’s not the whole place. It’s, you know, maybe half of it. So I’m going to put a coat of urethane on that.
So, yeah, so that’s my to-do list. Fun, fun, fun.
LESLIE: Geez, Louise.
TOM: Luckily, it’s all inside stuff right now.
But if you’ve got some projects you’d like to tackle, we would like to help you get them done. You can reach out to us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 24/7. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back next time we are. Or head on over to MoneyPit.com and post your questions right now.
Coming up on today’s show, did you guys know that even though we call lumber that we use for building homes “2 by something” – 2×4, 2×6, 2×8 – it actually measures a lot less than that? A 2×4 is not 2 inches by 4 inches. We’re going to share why you might not actually be getting what you think you’re paying for, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
LESLIE: And if you have a basement space, adding a bathroom can actually make that space more usable and add to your home’s value. But gravity being what it is, bathrooms that are below grade do need some special considerations in order to drain correctly. So we’re going to share what you need to know to make sure your bathroom will go with the flow, in just a bit. And I’ve got that project coming up on my big renovation, so I’m excited.
TOM: And your house is your biggest investment, so it makes sense to take care of it. But how much should that cost? And more importantly, what should you budget? What should you set aside for home maintenance? We’re going to share a simple formula, that we have tested over time, that will help you determine what that number is, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Alright. But give us a call now so we can know what you are working and give you a hand with all of those projects. I know everybody’s got a lot of things on their to-do list. So whether it’s a big project, a small project, a touch-up, a teardown, whatever it is we are here to lend a hand, so give us a call.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Nadine in Iowa has an interesting question.
Your countertop has gotten noisy? Tell us what’s going on.
NADINE: Yes, it does. We had it installed, I would say, between 3 and 5 years ago. And right after we had this Corian counter installed, we started getting very sharp, loud bangs occasionally. And I mean like somebody-just-shot-up-the-house bangs. And it has been going on since we had it installed, to varying degrees. Louder sometimes than others.
But they’ve been out to check and can’t figure it out and I don’t – the only unusual thing that happened when they put it in was that one corner didn’t want to go down, so the guy had to put his full weight on it to push it down and finally make it go down. And my feeling is – or something must be bound in there that every once in a while builds up enough energy to really snap.
TOM: Well, that’s certainly an unusual situation, because countertops aren’t known for their noise.
TOM: We get squeaky-floor questions, we get banging-pipe questions.
I don’t think we’ve ever gotten any loud-countertop questions, huh, Leslie?
NADINE: Well, I doubt that it’s the countertop. My feeling is something might be bound in there, having been caused by having the countertop put on.
TOM: Well, you might be correct and what could be happening is that you could have expansion and contraction going on, either with the walls or even with the plumbing. Especially with the water being right there, when a pipe heats up it tends to expand. And if it’s attached to the framing very, very tightly, it will rub across that framing and it can make a creaking sound or a banging sound.
TOM: And I’ve heard that before in bathrooms and also in kitchens.
TOM: The other thought is that if the countertop is bound, as you say, against part of the frame of the house and you’re getting expansion and contraction, that could be the source of the sound. Although, I tend to think that, even though it’s annoying, it probably isn’t really very damaging if it’s one of the other of those things.
NADINE: No, I don’t think it is damaging at all. It’s just that when you have guests and their eyes get wide and they start to go for the floor, you think maybe – I mean it is quite loud when it does it. So you think it could possibly be plumbing?
TOM: It could very well be, because plumbing really carries the sound. And especially if you’re running a dishwasher and the hot water comes on, that could cause a noise.
NADINE: However, we’ve kind of checked that out – what’s on, what’s running and all of that – and that doesn’t seem to come into play. What would your suggestion be as to sleuthing this problem out?
TOM: Well, I guess I would have to be sitting there staring at it, thinking about it for a long time. But reinstalling the countertop would probably be the best solution, although it’s a boatload of work and you can potentially damage the countertop in the process. If they had to really squeeze it in, I suspect that something is a little bit too tight in its intention and it’s really not designed to be pulled out.
NADINE: Yeah. Alright. Thanks so much.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tyler from Indiana on the line who’s dealing with some basement issues.
What’s going on?
TYLER: I’m trying to get my house ready to sell and I was thinking about refinishing the basement but not sure if it’s an option or not. I’ve been listening to your show for quite some time now and I’ve got the drainage issue on the outside of the house fixed.
TYLER: It’s running 6 to 8 feet or more outside of the house.
TYLER: But I’m still having some water issues and I don’t know if it’s just from all the groundwater still around the house, because I recently just fixed that. But I also have a sump pump that’s in the basement. And I don’t know if it’d be worth trying to refinish the basement or just kind of sprucing it up and if you have any ideas on what I can do to the floors and the walls without doing a complete refinish.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, you mentioned that you had done something to address groundwater. What exactly did you do?
TYLER: So I took all of the downspouts and I put extensions on them probably about 8 foot.
TOM: Right. Right.
TYLER: And then it’s all going downhill.
TYLER: There’s hills on all sides of my house.
TOM: The water from the roof is properly managed now, it’s all away from the house by the time it starts to drain. Is that correct?
TOM: And you said though, despite that, you still are getting some water in the basement? What are you seeing?
TYLER: It’s only in one corner, really.
TYLER: And I’m not – like I said, I’m not sure if it’s from just the rest of the groundwater that might be in that corner of the house.
TOM: So what are you seeing? Are you seeing a stain in the corner? Are you seeing a puddle? What do you see?
TYLER: Just a small – when it rains really, really hard. We just had a really hard rain a few days ago.
TOM: So here’s what I want you to do. Because I feel like you’re close now with this drainage issue but there’s something missing. It could be an overflowing gutter, it could be a separated seam in the gutter. There could be all sorts of little things that cause this.
The next time you get a really hard rain, I want you to go outside and look up at that area, see what’s happening to the water. Notice which way it’s running, which way it’s draining, which way it’s ponding. And see if there’s anything that’s happening there that would be contributing to an excess amount of water in that corner. Because by virtue of the fact that you have this small leak now only when it rains, it has nothing to do with rising water tables or anything of that nature. It’s some piece of that exterior drainage is not quite perfect just yet. So, let’s deal with that.
On that sump pump, are you seeing water in the bottom of the sump or is it dry mostly?
TYLER: It’s dry, mostly.
TOM: Yeah, see, I don’t there’s anything coming up here. It’s what’s going down.
Now, as to the question as to whether or not you should refinish a basement just to sell the house, the market is so strong right now across the country. I don’t feel like you have to take on that level of remodeling project. If you were to do nothing but address this drainage, maybe just paint the block walls or something of that nature to kind of clean it up and make sure it presents well so it looks very finishable, that’s probably all I might do at this stage. I don’t think I would remodel a basement just for the purpose of selling my house, because I don’t think you’ll get the actual cost back in terms of return on investment when you do sell. I just don’t feel like it’s necessary.
Leslie, what do you think?
LESLIE: I don’t think you really need to do that for the return on investment. If you’re managing all the water and you’re keeping the basement dry and moisture-free, I think you should be good.
TOM: Yeah. When you fix up your house to sell it, I’m all for maintenance. If you’ve got a little rotted wood, fix that up. If something needs a coat of paint, take care of that and make sure your heating, your cooling systems have been serviced recently, fresh filters.
LESLIE: Yeah. All the things are up to working order.
TOM: Yeah, all that sort of thing. If you want to invest in one thing, which is a heck of a lot less expensive than remodeling a basement, you could even consider getting your own professional home inspection done before you put it on the market. Because that will give you a sense as to how the house shows in the eyes of a structure and mechanical expert. And you may head off some problem that you are not aware of before you have a buyer involved. And the emotions are always at a peak at that time. So, sometimes folks will get inspections done for their own benefit, on their own house, just to get a sense as to how it will appear to a potential home buyer.
TYLER: I appreciate it, guys.
LESLIE: Alright. Good luck.
Now we’ve got Don from Illinois on the line who’s dealing with some slippery sidewalks.
What’s going on?
DON: My driveway – I have a new house, 4 years old. Driveway and sidewalks always retain moisture. And of course, in the climate I live, it freezes. So it gets slick quite frequently. Is there a product I can put on to repel the moisture to get it to run off?
TOM: So, Don, I don’t really think it’s appropriate to seal a sidewalk. I mean you could use a concrete sealer on it. That would stop some of the moisture from soaking in. But if you were to do something like put an epoxy finish on that sidewalk, you’re still going to have some water that sits there and it’ll freeze and it’ll be doubly as slippery.
So I would tell you to use a non-corrosive ice melt on that, something like potassium chloride. Not salt – not rock salt – because that will tear up the sidewalks. But you want to basically take some potassium chloride, mix it in a bucket with some maybe playground sand to give it some traction. And keep it near the doors, near the sidewalk so that it’s easy to sprinkle on when the snow hits.
But you’re not going to stop the water from basically wetting down the sidewalk. Because even a very, very thin layer of moisture can be very, very dangerous and slippery. So I don’t think sealing these sidewalks, beyond just using a basic sealer – which will not interrupt the surface grip of it. But anything that’s like an epoxy coating or something of that nature could make it even more dangerous. So I would tell you just to use a potassium-chloride mix and use that to basically manage the salt in the winter, in the winters of Illinois where you live.
Well, if you’re just getting started in home improvement projects, you might be confused by the way lumber is sold. Because you actually get a lot less wood than you think you may have paid for. We’re going to explain why, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
LESLIE: Let’s say, for example, you guys are taking on a shed project. You’re getting ready to build. You’ve purchased a bunch of 2x4s for the walls and you’re expecting that they’re going to measure 2 inches by 4 inches. But what you’re going to find is that even though they’re called “2x4s,” they actually measure 1-5/8 by 3½. Same is going to go for a 1×6. You’re expecting it to actually be 1 inch by 6 inches but you’re going to find that it’s ¾ by 5½ inches. So, what the heck is happening to all that missing lumber that you thought you bought and you paid for?
TOM: Well, it’s actually the effects of more modern lumber production. If you’ve ever seen a 2×4 in a really old house, only there you might notice that it really is 2 inches by 4 inches. But now, when a tree is cut up into lumber, those boards still start at 2 inches by 4 inches. But when they’re dried – which actually makes them stronger, by the way – and then planed to remove all those saw curves, what you’re left with is less. That 2×4 is now 1½ by 3½, a 2×6 is 1½ by 5½ and so on.
LESLIE: Now, the lumber industry uses two forms of measurement. They’re talking about dimensional and nominal. So dimensional is the size of the board when it’s first milled at the lumber yard, which is the 2×4. And the nominal is the size after it’s dried and planed and this is ultimately what you’re getting at the lumber yard, which would be that 1-5/8 by 3½.
TOM: Yeah. But that’s where the differences end, because the length is still always the length. So an 8-foot 2×4 is really an 8-foot – is really 8 feet long but it’s 1½ inches by 3½ inches wide. Well, except for if you buy something called a “2×4 stud,” which is actually shorter.
You know what a 2×4 stud actually measures, Leslie?
TOM: It’s 93 inches long. Why is that?
TOM: Well, the reason is because when you build a wall, you have an 8-foot-tall wall, which is standard in a house, right? That’s why you have pieces of sheetrock or drywall that are 4×8, so that you can put two on top of each other and you get 8 foot without any kind of extra cutting. So to get that 8-foot wall, you wouldn’t want to have to take all of those 96-inch-long 2x4s and cut them down to 93. You buy them at 93 because you have a bottom cord and a top cord of that wall – a bottom plate and a top plate. That makes up for the extra 3 inches.
LESLIE: Listen, I love that it’s already doing the math for me. I don’t have to do anything extra, so I’ll take it.
TOM: You don’t have to ask any questions. Just do it.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, this is all good info. And that is today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: Apply for yours at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: Sandra in North Carolina is on the line. How can we help you today?
SANDRA: We’re trying to decide which quality of filter to use for our furnace filter – switch out? Should we use the ones that are cheaper, like the 4-for-$2 or should we use the HEPA-filter quality ones that are like $20 for your furnace filters, when you change them out?
LESLIE: Well, with filters, you’re definitely getting what you pay for. And it really depends on what the situations are with everybody in your house.
Now, the less expensive a filter, the thinner that membrane is going to be and of course, the wider that webbing is, if you will, so it’s really not going to stop very much. You know, Tom and I always joke that they’re called “pebble stoppers,” because that’s really the only thing that’s not getting through there.
LESLIE: So it really depends. The less money you spend, the less things that are getting trapped. If you’ve got somebody with allergens in the house, you want to spend a little bit more money, because you’re definitely going to get what you pay for.
SANDRA: OK. So I need to go to a quality filter, because I have a lot of allergies. And the people that built the house say to go with a cheaper filter so you can let air circulate.
TOM: Yeah, well, look, a good-quality filter does not block the air, whether it’s one that’s designed for better filtration or one that’s designed for lesser filtration. None of these things block the air. So if you have allergy issues, you have asthma issues, you definitely want to use a good-quality filter.
And if you want the ultimate in filtration, what you might want to think about doing at some point is installing an electronic air cleaner. This is a device that’s built into the HVAC system right near the furnace, generally. And these are incredibly efficient at taking out 95-percent plus of the contaminants that are in the air. These electronic air cleaners today can take out microscopic-size particles.
SANDRA: OK. Well, I really appreciate your information. You’ve been very helpful.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Sandra. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading to Little Rock, Arkansas where we’ve got Randy on the line.
What’s going on at your money pit?
RANDY: I’ve got an older bathroom and now I want to take the tub out and the shower kit and install more of a handicapped top shower kit.
RANDY: I’m getting about – to be about 60 years old, so I want to kind of go ahead and make it handicapped.
TOM: Prepare for the future? Yeah.
TOM: Sure. Right. Why not?
RANDY: Have something to hold onto, anyway. You know?
TOM: Well, it makes a lot of sense.
So, there are prefabricated, accessible, one-piece shower-unit designs that are a possibility. But if you want to build something that’s maybe a little more customized, a little nicer, maybe you want to have a built-in bench and do it with tile, I would tell you to take a look at Schluter Systems.
Now, Schluter is a company that makes a whole host of tile underlayments. And they have a system that’s called KERDI, K-E-R-D-I. And the KERDI System has components for every piece of that shower assembly. And it’s designed to basically go together so that you don’t have any leakage whatsoever. Once it’s all installed, then you basically tile over top of the whole thing.
And the part that really is where the sort of the rubber meets the road, when it comes to water integrity, are all of those different types of seams and the shower pans and such. And with the KERDI system, that’s all eliminated. It’s all built in together so it works well together.
So take a look at Schluter Systems and in particular, their line of products called KERDI. And I think you will find a system there that will give you everything that you need to accomplish this as quickly and easily as possible. And you’ll also have something that just will not leak and it will be there for the ages.
RANDY: Hey, that sounds great. I’ll sure take a look at that.
TOM: Alright, Randy. Good luck with that project.
RANDY: Thanks a lot.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got a basement space, adding a bathroom can definitely make that space more usable and for sure, it is going to add to your home’s value. But getting that below-grade bathroom to drain properly really isn’t an easy task. Now, the biggest issue is how you transport the waste from the basement bath up high enough so that it can flow into the home’s main sewer or septic system. Because obviously, it’s not going on its own.
TOM: Exactly. So, there are a few options.
First of all, you can potentially use your existing waste line if it’s already deep enough in the property. You might have to tap into those, dig down to expose those. But if your house is built in such a way where your waste line is already below the basement floor, then you might be able to just kind of grab into that. Although you will have to tear up the floor to get to it.
The next option is what is called a “macerator” or an “up-flushing unit.” It basically is sort of a box-sealed pump that sits on the basement floor, so you don’t need to break up anything. And it activates on a flush. Once the flush happens, it grinds the waste and it pumps it up to that main drain line, which is overhead somewhere.
And then, finally, there is a sewage-ejector system. This is probably the most common for full-basement bathrooms. A sewage-ejector tank and pump basically is a pump that is below the basement floor. It usually sits in a hole. Kind of acts a little bit like the macerator in that it grinds up and then lifts that waste up until a point where it can get, again, dropped into that main waste line outside, for example, and then go on its merry way out to the sewage system of your town or your septic system.
So, that’s why it is more complicated to put in a bathroom in your basement, because you’ve got to find a way of lifting that wastewater uphill so that it can drain properly.
LESLIE: And I mean really, this is the same whether you’re going with a half-bath or a full bath. So, either way you’re doing this, there’s really no benefit to choosing a half over a full to sort of save a step, correct?
TOM: Yeah. A toilet is a toilet. You’ve got to grind that waste and get it out. Now, if you only had a sink – sometimes people have a laundry tub, for example, in the basement.
If you have a rural property, you may be able to get away with just running a drain line outside and draining it somewhere towards the back of your property. Because that’s what we call “gray water.” In other words, it doesn’t have waste in it.
TOM: It just has dirt and soap and stuff like that. And that you can – may be able just to drain out to the property. But when you have a toilet, you’ve got no choice. You’ve got to treat that properly so that you don’t cause an unhealthy situation.
LESLIE: Alright. Good tips.
Jessica in Missouri is dealing with a floor that’s sinking in on itself.
What is going on over there?
JESSICA: Hi. I live in a 128-year-old house and my kitchen floor has settled, maybe, in the middle. If everything is not strapped to my walls, it will go towards the middle of my floor.
JESSICA: Yeah. So I didn’t know if you guys had any thoughts about a repair on that, if you think maybe it’s like a joist underneath there or …
TOM: Yeah, is this on a basement or a crawlspace, Jessica?
JESSICA: No, it’s dirt.
TOM: It’s dirt. So you can’t really get under it?
JESSICA: I have a crawlspace that I can get underneath it but it’s in the opposite side of my house.
TOM: OK. So, can you get down there and physically examine the beams to see what’s going on?
JESSICA: Yes. But it would take the size of a small child to get underneath there.
JESSICA: So, there lies another problem – is how to see what’s going on, where the best place would be to go in at to try to get that …
TOM: Listen, I had to do a plumbing repair project on my own home, in a crawlspace that was about 6 inches taller than me flat on my back. So, I know how tough it is to work in spaces like that. You’ve got to kind of shimmy in to get there.
But the thing is, I am concerned with this sagging, that somebody has a look at that – those beams – to make sure there’s nothing structural going on, like a termite infestation or something of that nature. If it’s just normal sagging, well, there are some things that we can do from the top side to address that.
One of which comes to mind is that you could use a floor-leveling compound on this old floor. To do so, you are really talking about the entire kitchen floor, including the cabinets. Because to do it just in the middle might not be enough. You really have to go wall to wall on this room. And because it’s a kitchen, it becomes very, very complicated to do that.
But the first thing is to evaluate the structure to make sure that there’s nothing going on there. And then the second thing is to look for a solution above it. It’s generally not possible to raise up a floor that’s already sagged, especially in a really old house, because it took 120 years to get in that position and you’re just not going to bring it back up again. Sometimes you can reinforce it a little bit with some additional beaming and stiffen it up a bit. But generally, if you want to level it, you’ve got to do that from the top side and not from the underside in an old house, OK?
JESSICA: OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate you guys’ time.
TOM: You’re very welcome.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to take a call from Barry.
What’s going on at your money pit?
BARRY: Well, I have a bedroom and I have books and clothes and consequently, blankets. And when you change everything, it accumulates a lot of dust and I was wondering if there was a dust collector that could be purchased or how I could solve that problem.
TOM: Hey, Barry, what kind of heating system do you have? Is it forced air?
BARRY: Yes. Gas.
TOM: So, the forced hot-air system is going to have a filter for it – a built-in filter – and there’s a wide variety of efficiencies of filters. The best thing that you can do is to make sure that you have a very good-quality filter.
Now, you can use a fiberglass filter. There’s a larger sort of a pleated filter that you can use. Or if you really want the ultimate in clean air, you would use an electronic air cleaner – electronic air filter – which is built into the system. So it really depends on what your budget is.
But a basic filter – basic fiberglass filters that cost a dollar or two are not very effective when it comes to dust. But if you get a little bit better filter – and there are different ratings and you can read about them on the package. But you get one that’s a really effective dust collector and filter, I think you’ll find that you won’t see nearly as much dust assemble. You don’t really want to have any kind of an air filter in the house, in the room itself. You could do that. It’d be somewhat wasteful and it probably wouldn’t be very efficient.
But if you replaced whatever you’re using now with a really good-quality filter all the way up to and including an electronic air cleaner, which is basically so effective it can take out virus-sized particles from the air, I think then you’ll find that your air will be super clean and you’ll be doing a lot less house cleaning as a result.
Barry, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Well, if your sidewalks have been slippery from the snow and the ice and you’ve been tossing on some salt to cause that ice to melt, you might find that, come springtime, you’re going to have some concrete-sidewalk damage to fix. Because what happens is that salt will deteriorate concrete if it’s not the right kind of salt. Because it corrodes it away, it leaves it pitted and chipped. And you’ll need to call us to figure out how to fix it, which we can help you with. But hey, why make a project if you can avoid it right now with one simple switch?
LESLIE: Yeah. I think people don’t realize there’s a lot of different salt options out there when you do go to the home center. So the best sidewalk salt out there is made from potassium chloride. Now, this type of sidewalk salt is going to melt the ice but not damage those concrete surfaces the way the other so-called rock salt, which you know as sodium chloride, will do. So you have to pay attention to what you’re buying.
So, for best results, you want to purchase the potassium chloride well in advance of those winter storms. You want to mix it with some playground sand and then keep a supply stored near each entrance to your home. Now, the sand is going to provide immediate traction for those icy surfaces and then it’s going to give the time for the potassium chloride to melt that ice.
TOM: And most importantly, your sidewalks will no longer be slippery and they will also remain intact and solid. And you won’t have to face a big sidewalk repair come spring.
LESLIE: Jane Ellen in Pennsylvania is looking at getting some new windows. How can we help you make that decision?
JANE ELLEN: Yes. Well, we are looking at getting – replacing our single-pane windows. And our question is: do you think it would be more cost-effective to spend the extra money on triple-pane windows or would double-pane windows be OK? Other than the windows, the house is fairly well-insulated; it’s not real drafty. We haven’t priced our options yet, so we just were looking for an opinion.
TOM: I think that double-pane windows will be fine. The thing is that when you shop for windows, you have all of these different features and benefits that you have to compare and contrast and sometimes, it gets very confusing when you do that. What I would look for is a window that’s ENERGY STAR-rated and one that has double-pane glass. As long as the glass is insulated and has a low-E coating so it reflects the heat back, that’ll be fine.
It’s been my experience that unless you live in the most severe climates, triple-pane glass doesn’t really make up the additional cost in terms of return on investment.
JANE ELLEN: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
TOM: What kind of windows do you have now? Are they very drafty?
JANE ELLEN: Well, they’re single-pane windows. They’re relatively decent windows for single-pane but they’re old. They’re starting to – you can see the gas is starting to escape from them and they are a little drafty.
Our house has a field behind it; our backyard kind of opens up into a field. So, there’s a significant amount of wind that comes across the field and blows into the back of the house. And off the main back area, we have a three-season room, which helps to block some of the wind from the interior downstairs. But the upstairs bedrooms, you feel the wind a little bit more significantly. We notice the single-pane windows a little bit more there; it seems more drafty right there.
TOM: Well, I think these windows are going to make a big difference for you. Now, if you need to save some money and maybe not do them all at once, that’s fine, too. What I would do is the north and east sections of the house first – sides of the house first – and then the south and the west second. OK?
JANE ELLEN: OK. Sounds great.
LESLIE: I know given the winter that we’ve all had in the Northeast and pretty much all over the United States, you might think that a triple-pane glass is going to do the trick, especially when we’ve had, what, like an average of 5 degrees, Tom?
LESLIE: I’ve got to tell you, the days that we’ve had 30- and 40-degree temperatures, I’ve put on a light jacket. I’ve seen families out with no jackets. People are out of their minds when we get 40-degree days.
TOM: Yep. I know. We’re happy for it, right?
LESLIE: It’s like summer.
TOM: Alright. Well, Jane Ellen, I hope that helps you out. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carrie wrote in and she’s got a question about a crack in her dining-room ceiling that she’s worried about. She says, “My dining room has a textured ceiling and there’s a line in the texture that looks like the beginning of a crack. Do I need to fix this? I’m worried about it getting worse.”
TOM: So, Leslie, I think when it comes to repairing cracks in textured ceilings, you’ve got to really make the call as to whether it’s worth it, right?
LESLIE: What, worth saving the texture or worth making the repair?
TOM: Well, it’s just – well, first of all, this is a cosmetic repair, right? We’re not talking about something that’s structural here. All drywall is going to form cracks, whether it’s covered by paint, by plaster or by a textured material. Those cracks are going to show through.
And to fix it, when you have a textured ceiling, the reason I say you’ve got to make sure it’s worth it is because you really do have to strip off that texture. You have to scrape it off a couple – 2, 3 inches either side of the crack. Then you have to repair the crack, then you have to re-texture it. And when you re-texture it, even though there are repair materials in a spray can that will give you that textured ceiling, color is not going to match. Now you’re talking about painting the entire textured ceiling. So you can see how it ends up being a really big project for a very minor situation.
And you know what else is going to happen. You know as soon as you’re done, you’re going to spot a crack on the other side of the room because there’s just so many that will form.
LESLIE: Of course.
TOM: So, in your particular case, Carrie, you’re just saying you’re starting to see a crack in your dining-room textured ceiling. I wouldn’t worry too much about that, mostly because it’s pretty normal to have minor cracks. And secondly, because it’s just a whole lot of work to repair it.
Now, if you’re seeing a crack and you don’t have texture, there is a product out that I think is really effective. And I love it because of the way they’ve kind of added sort of a built-in security to the fact it’s not going to re-crack. And that is a product called KRACK KOTE, which is spelled with Ks: K-R-A-C-K and K-O-T-E. It’s a product that’s made by Abatron.
And what’s interesting about this KRACK KOTE product is they have sort of – I’ll call it maybe like a “primer,” an adhesive that you basically paint on the crack area. And then you put the tape across it, then you paint over the tape with the same sort of adhesive material. And it totally locks that – both sides of that crack in so they don’t move. And then when you do your final coats of spackle over top of it, it doesn’t reopen.
Because if you just spackle this, it’s just going to reopen again because that’s sort of like the expansion joint now that’s in that ceiling. And it’s just going to open the same place – seasonally, probably – over and over again.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, Carrie, I hope that helps you out and makes you feel better about what’s going on at your money pit.
Now I’ve got a post here from Darren who says, “We’re planning a kitchen remodel but we’re not sure where to start after the kitchen is gutted. Do we start with the cabinets? Do we do the flooring? What’s first?”
TOM: The first thing you do is not gut your kitchen and then decide what you’re going to do.
LESLIE: Right. “Ooh, now we need a plan.”
TOM: Now what? Yeah. “Great that we’re going to remodel our kitchen, honey. And I already took out all the cabinets and now I’ve just got to figure out what I’m going to do next.”
TOM: Well, listen, a kitchen is one of those projects that have to be really well-planned in advance, mostly because the labor is not instantly available. You need several different trades. And secondly, most of those products, especially cabinets, have a long, long order time now. They always had a long order time, right? Like 6 to 8 weeks.
LESLIE: But now, with the pandemic, it’s forever and a day.
TOM: Right. Could be months.
LESLIE: And if you don’t pick it up right away, bye-bye your appliance. Somebody else is stealing it.
TOM: That’s right. They’ll sell it right out from under you and when you thought (inaudible).
LESLIE: It’s happened to so many friends. So you’ve really got to be careful.
TOM: Yeah? Oh, man, that’s kind of crazy. Yeah.
LESLIE: Plumbing fixtures, all that stuff.
TOM: We would tell you to take a step back and take some time and do a design. And by the way, you can do a really nice design if you hire a kitchen designer. If you want to save some money, though, you can go to a home center. You know, the home center designers are pretty darn good. They do it every day. They understand how cabinetry has to go together and they can give you some good suggestions and help lay out some of the cabinets that you’ll need. And this will help you budget for it. And do all that work in advance and then you can start taking it apart.
Because the actual work of a kitchen remodel, it doesn’t actually have to take that long, especially if you’re not changing the layout. If you’re keeping your sink, you’re keeping your oven where it is, tearing out the cabinets and putting in a new set can happen in a day or two. It’s not that big of a deal. But it’s all that getting ready that takes the time.
LESLIE: Alright, Darren. Good luck with that.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. We are so happy to have you with us today. If you’ve got questions you weren’t able to get through to us today, remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
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.)