- Building an outdoor kitchen may be on your “someday” list. But someday could be today thanks to a new type of very affordable modular brick. Find out how building a complete outdoor kitchen could be as easy as stacking blocks.
- It’s always nice to hear the sounds of birds around your home – unless it’s he sound of a bird crashing into your window! Bird strikes are surprisingly common. We’ll share tips on how to protect your feathered friends.
- If your Spring Cleaning includes power washing stained concrete surfaces, we’ll share a sealer you can use to protect against a wide variety of stains and more.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Mike in Vermont needs advice to deal with his deck stain that is starting to peel.
- Dana has picture windows where the glazing is starting to come undone.
- John from Virginia wants to know what he can do to hide the rust on his standing seam metal roof.
- Joan in Montana is looking to make an enclosed addition to her home and wants tips for building it.
- Jeff from South Carolina has a feral cat problem terrorizing his backyard.
- Renee in Delaware has a sump pump that’s making some worrisome noises and wants to know what the cause might be.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And this is Episode 2207. We so appreciate you taking a part of your day to listen to us. And we’re here to help you, give you some tips and some ideas on how to get projects done around your house or your apartment. Wherever you live, if you’ve got a to-do on that list that has to do with home improvement, remodeling, repair, décor, you can slide it over to our list by reaching out to us.
Couple of ways to do that. We recommend highly that you go to MoneyPit.com and click on that little, blue button on the right side that says, “Leave a message.” Because this way, you’ll be able to record your question right to us. And we will put you at the head of the line for getting back to you with an answer. Or you can also call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, if you enjoy cooking outdoors, building an outdoor kitchen may be on your someday list: you know, the projects you want to get done someday, always sort of putting it off. Well, we’ve got some news for you: that day could come a lot sooner than you think, thanks to a new type of very affordable and modular brick that makes building fire pits and benches and even a complete outdoor kitchen as easy as stacking blocks. Think LEGO. If you can build with LEGO, you can build a complete kitchen. We’re going to tell you all about it.
LESLIE: And also ahead, it’s always nice to hear the sounds of birds around the house, unless what you hear is the sound of a bird crashing into your window. Bird strikes are surprisingly common and pretty unsettling. And most of the time, the birds just kind of get up and walk away, which is totally bizarre. So we’re going to share some tips on how to protect your feathered friends.
TOM: And if your spring cleaning includes power-washing stained concrete surfaces, we’re going to share a new sealer that you can use to protect against a wide variety of those stains and a lot more.
LESLIE: But first, you need some help with a renovation, a repair, even a decorating project? Whatever it is, we are here to help you create your best home ever and tackle your to-dos with confidence. So let us know what you’re working on.
TOM: Plus, we’ve got a great giveaway. If you’ve got a spring painting project planned, we’re giving away the Wagner Control Pro Airless Paint Sprayer. This is an awesome tool. It’s going out to one listener who calls us with their home improvement question. We will draw you at random – hopefully you – out of The Money Pit hard hat and send the Wagner Control Pro 170 out to your door.
This thing actually lets you get painting projects done three times faster than using a roller, so you don’t want to miss it. Click on the Leave a Message button – that blue button – on our website at MoneyPit.com and record your question, send it to us and you will be in the pot to win the Wagner Control Pro 170.
So let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Mike is on the line and has a question about staining the deck.
What is going on? Because we want to get you ready for the summer. How can we help?
MIKE: I have two decks. And a few years ago, I stripped the deck clean, did it the right way, sanded it and restained it. And now, it has turned back into what it was. So, I’m questioning whether I need to replace all the boards or is there something else that I could do to get this deck looking good again?
TOM: So, when you say it turned back into what it was, is it stain you put on? So is it peeling or what are you seeing in terms of surface? Is it just …?
MIKE: It is. It’s peeling, it’s discolored. And I have two decks: one that’s directly on Lake Champlain in Vermont and the one that’s back in the hills of Vermont. And so it gets pretty tough weather here. But I just – I’ve flown back a couple years and it didn’t last like I had hoped.
TOM: Yeah. And did you use paint or stain?
MIKE: I used stain.
TOM: Because stain typically doesn’t peel. Stain usually just fades and wears away. But you definitely have an adhesion issue.
Look, if I was to do this again, I wanted to keep it as a wood deck, what I would do is I would prime it. I would take it down again to the surface and I would use an oil-based primer. You can use – very often with cedar, for example, we use an anti-tannin primer because that basically will really grab the cedar. And then on top of that, we put a solid-color stain and that seems to work really well. I did that when I was staining my house and the stain lasted a ridiculously long time, maybe 15 or 18 years, because we had done it that way by priming it first.
If you want another option – and due to this extreme weather that you’re experiencing in those parts of the country, there could be a good – this could be a good reason for you to do what we call a “deck makeover,” where you essentially take off all the decking boards and the railings and replace only those portions. If the structure is good – so if the structure is still well-attached to the house, properly supported and no issues there – then you take off the wood decking boards and just put composite decking down as the decking surface.
And depending on how far you want to take it, you could also do a composite decking railing or you could use one of these sort of nuanced railing systems that are cable rails or clear rails. All of those options are open to you. But you won’t be having anymore issues with staining and sealing and all of that if you go with composite.
And I think the prices have come down. It’s available from so many resources today, so many different places from the giant home centers to the manufacturers and the lumberyards.
MIKE: Well, thank you so much.
Just a one side question: you wouldn’t ever take the boards up and turn them over, would you?
TOM: Well, you certainly could do that but we usually tell people to do that if the boards are cracked and checked, if you have a bad board. Now, I mean you certainly could do that if you want to stay with the staining and start with a fresh surface. But I still think you’ll – given 2 or 3 years, you’re probably going to be looking at a similar situation once again.
MIKE: Alright. Well, I appreciate your help so much.
TOM: Yeah. And remember, any angled cuts are not going to work if you flip them upside down, unless it’s just a straight cut of the board. That’s going to be an issue.
MIKE: No. But it’s good timing and I really appreciate your help.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Mike.
MIKE: Later. I love the show.
TOM: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Dana on the line who’s got a question about window glazing.
What’s going on?
DANA: I have a number of fixed-pane picture windows in my home that the glazing is kind of pulling out of. It’s not the kind of old-school glazing that gets hard and chips off but it’s kind of like a little bit sticky and soft and it’s just coming out of – and so I’m wondering how I can fix this without having to actually take the window out. I could probably take the trim off on the exterior fairly easily. But some of these are quite large and I really don’t want to mess with taking out the interior trim.
TOM: So, Dana, you’re on the right track here. The glazing that you’re talking about is actually what’s known as wet glazing. And wet glazing is the glazing that’s between the fixed-pane windows – so that’s all a sealed window unit, right? – and then the frame that it’s contained within which, in your case, sounds like it’s wood. And it seems to me like the original manufactured wet glazing that was in there is starting to deteriorate and fall out, as you’ve described it.
So I would do kind of what you’re suggesting, in the sense that I would take off the trim to get to the side of that, to get to the – be able to see all of that. I’d pull out anything that is loose or deteriorated and easily comes out and then simply replace that with a silicone caulk. A good-quality silicone caulk can take the place of that old, wet glazing.
And here’s a little trick of the trade. You want to try to get that filled up as much as you can. If you wet your hand or wet your finger or use something like a little bit of window-cleaning solution on the tips of your fingers, it will slide over that glazing, over that caulk and leave a nice, perfect bead in its place. Usually, you can’t do – you can do this with the latex but when it’s silicone, you can’t. That’s why you’ve got to wet your hand first and use my favorite trowel, which are my fingers, to sort of smooth it in there and have it laying nice and tight.
So, it’s a project. So I would try to do everything you know exists in one attempt and this way, you’ll have some number of years before, perhaps, any additional glazing starts to separate.
Hey, are you guys ready to take on some painting projects this spring? If you are, we’ve got a great product we’re giving away from our friends at Wagner. It’s the Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer.
Now, I used this on a fencing project around my house. I had a long fence to do and I love it. It allowed me to hook up my 5-gallon can of stain and then just take it all the way down to the end of the fence line without having to change out 1 gallon at a time. Now, if you have smaller projects, you can do that but in this one, it was just nice to have that capability.
This allows you to take on big projects like that by yourself. Instead of hiring a pro, this saves you some money and you’ll get up to 55-percent less overspray than traditional airless paint sprayers. And the best news? Your stuff is going to go on – your paint, your stain is going to go on three times faster than a roller.
It’s available both in-store and online at Lowe’s Home Improvement but we’ve got one to give out to a lucky listener. Make that you. Reach out to us with your home improvement question. Go to MoneyPit.com, click on Leave a Message or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in Virginia is on the line with a roofing question.
Tell us what you’re working on.
JOHN: My house is a 70-year-old house with a rolled metal roof that’s showing some signs of rust. So I’m wondering if I should think about replacing it. Or is there some kind of painting that I could put on there that would help?
TOM: You said rolled metal roof?
JOHN: They rolled the seams and it’s treated with a reflective paint.
TOM: OK. You mean – has it got a slope to it?
JOHN: Oh, yeah.
TOM: I think what you’re talking about is what we call a “standing-seam metal roof,” where the seams are folded together. Now, you say it’s starting to add some rust – get some rust. Generally, the mistake with metal roofs is that when they start to rust out again – rust out – people will use a sealant, like tar or roof cement. And that actually starts the clock on further deterioration, because water will still get under that but now it has nowhere to go or dry out, so it rusts it out even further.
A proper metal-roof repair is going to involve metal. And you essentially are going to solder a piece of metal on top of that old roof. And if you do that and maintain it properly, that roof could literally last indefinitely.
It sounds to me like you’ve got some reflective paint on there and such, so that helps to preserve it, too. But you’re going to have to pull all that off to make this repair. So it really comes down to how much rust is there. And the quicker you can repair that, the better off you’re going to be.
JOHN: So, sandblast? Sand it? How do you prepare the surface?
TOM: I wouldn’t sandblast. I think you could sand it, scrape it and sand it and get it off that way. But you’re going to have to get a clean surface so that you could adhere that new metal.
And you know what? You could also – if you can’t solder it in place or brace it in place, you could cut a piece of metal and with a silicone sealant underneath, put a layer of metal over the old one and then screw it down. Make it a mechanical sort of patch.
LESLIE: Well, outdoor kitchens are a growing trend and for good reason. If you’re big on summer barbecues but tired of running back and forth from your kitchen to your grill, an outdoor kitchen is the perfect way to put prep, cooking and cleanup all in one place while keeping you close to the party. But if this is a project that you’ve been putting off, there is an easy way to build a complete outdoor kitchen yourself using stackable blocks.
TOM: Yeah. It’s called RumbleStone and it’s a product made by Pavestone. Now, these look like rustic stones and they come in kits that stack, you know, kind of just like LEGOs. They’re modular and they can be used to build all sorts of popular outdoor features. So, fire pit, grill enclosure, planters or yes, even a complete outdoor kitchen.
The process is pretty simple. You start by laying out the base and setting your first row of RumbleStone blocks right on top of your concrete patio. And from there, the next rows are stacked right on top of each other. Now, there’s no need for mortar in between, which makes it super easy. You just run a bead of QUIKRETE Advanced Polymer Construction Adhesive between the stones.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, the RumbleStone kits, they’re available in a variety of sizes and a variety of components. So the prices are going to vary but they start around $250 and they can also be used for traditional paver projects, like patios, walls, even landscape borders. QUIKRETE also has a step-by-step video of a beautiful outdoor kitchen made with RumbleStones and then topped with a concrete countertop, available online. So definitely worth checking out.
TOM: RumbleStones are a great way to build a beautiful outdoor kitchen yourself. Learn more at Pavestone.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joan in Missouri on the line who needs some help building a habitat for some furry friends.
What’s going on?
JOAN: I’d like to put an enclosed space on the back of my house for my cat. Not with a solid roof but with a wire roof.
JOAN: But the issue is that it’s going to be 24×22.
JOAN: And I don’t know – I’ve built small things but I’m not sure how to span something that wide, because I don’t want the uprights in the middle.
TOM: Hmm. You must have a really important cat. You’re making over 400 square feet of space for that cat. Is that right?
JOAN: Well, the idea is it’s going to just enclose the patio and then it – I haven’t poured the patio yet.
TOM: I see. I see. Well, look, anything that big is – qualifies as an addition. It’s not just a pen or a patio. This is a pretty significant addition, so my first question is whether or not you’re impacting any zoning laws in your town that would limit what you can do.
Now, if you’re going to …
JOAN: No, we have very low limits here.
TOM: Alright. You have very low limits? OK. But at the same time, you want to make sure that whatever you put, in terms of the patio, can support this structure.
So you say you want to enclose it and I presume, since it’s an open roof, you don’t want – ever want to heat it. Is that right?
TOM: You said it would be open but you’re not going to have any rain protection over it?
TOM: Well, what kind of roof structure are you thinking about?
JOAN: I’m thinking hardware cloth? I just want something that will keep birds, obviously, out and wildlife, stray cats, that sort of thing.
TOM: I don’t know. It seems to me if you’re going to build something that’s 22×24, that’s a pretty big construction project. I’d put a roof on it at the same time because who knows? Maybe somebody who buys your house in the future would love to have an enclosed patio. And it would be particularly important that it have a roof at the same time.
JOAN: I guess that’s possible.
TOM: Because anything that you put on there, in terms of cloth, are temporary. It’s just not going to last very long. And frankly, it won’t be tough enough to keep birds and insects from nesting it.
JOAN: Oh, no. Hardware cloth is like large, square screen wire.
TOM: Yeah. No, I know what you’re talking about but I’m just thinking that you’re going to have to put – to have something that that’s span, if it’s going to be, say, 22 foot off your house, you have to have some sort of a structure to support that.
JOAN: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
TOM: You can’t – the hardware cloth or whatever you use is not going to just sit by itself; it’s going to have to have kind of a roof structure – a roof-rafter structure. So that’s …
JOAN: Right. That’s what I’m – I don’t know how to do.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s a good question because it’s actually a lot of work to do that.
First of all, what – is this a one-story house or is it a two-story house? What would this …?
JOAN: Yes. Yeah, one story.
TOM: One story. So that those beams – those rafters – to have any kind of slope to them would have to start up way high on the roof. And this means you have to intersect them with your existing roof.
This is a big project and it’s not something I think you should take on lightly. But anything of that size is an awful lot of work and I think you would be …
JOAN: I wasn’t going to do it myself. I was going to have my sons do it. But I would have to be the one to design it and tell them what – you know, how to do it.
TOM: But you don’t have the skill set to do that.
TOM: So, I think you would be wise to get some professional help, at least on the layout and the specs for this, because there’s a lot of changes – a lot of decisions – that have to be made. And most of the time, if you tackle something like this – I can just tell you, I’ve seen it time and time again. If you tackle something like this and it’s not done well, it is going to devalue your house. It is going to be an eyesore, it’s going to be a maintenance headache and people are going to be really turned off by it if you ever want to sell.
JOAN: I see.
TOM: So, I would put the time and the effort into it to design a nice, solid-roof patio space. You can have it furnished if you want. You can let the cats in there. You keep the water out. You could even think about heating it at some point in the future or cooling it. But I would not do it …
JOAN: So this is pretty much a professional project.
TOM: It really is a professional project. Of that size? Yeah, that’s a professional project.
JOAN: Alright. Well, thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
TOM: So, tell me about the new basketball net going in, Leslie. What’s the story?
LESLIE: Let me tell you. It’s going to be a project-and-a-half. What started off so easy – it was like a negotiation like, “Hey kids. You’re 14 and 10. Can we get rid of the play set that no one’s touched for 2 years?” And they’re like, “Ugh.” I’m like, “What if I put up a basketball net?”
Now, Tom. You’ve been to my house. You’ve seen – my backyard’s maybe, what, like 10×20?
TOM: Yeah, yeah.
LESLIE: It’s super small.
TOM: It won’t be a full-court game going on there, that’s for sure.
LESLIE: Oh, gosh. It’s going to be a game of horse at best.
LESLIE: I can’t have a freestanding one. So, of course, I’ve got a little guy and a tall guy, so I want one of those height-adjustable, garage-mounted hoops.
TOM: Right. Yep.
LESLIE: No problem. You can buy one. They’re not terribly expensive but they’re certainly not inexpensive.
LESLIE: And I can’t imagine that my garage is going to be, on that little front eave there, is going to be able to support this. I imagine I’m going to have to build some sort of structure on the inside to kind of help take that weight.
And then we have that – I think ours are – I have the CertainTeed shingle. It’s kind of like the HardieShingle. It’s that prefabricated one.
LESLIE: And I wonder how I’m going to drill through that without cracking them and ruining everything. It’s a bigger project than I want.
TOM: Yeah. You’re going to drill through it, that’s for sure. And you’re going to make sure that – if it’s a shingle, you’re going to have to put a pad underneath it, like a cedar shingle or something like that, so it comes out flat. And the key is to try to distribute the weight so you’re not over any hollow part of that shingle.
So you’ve got some work to do there for sure. I’m sure you’ve got a couple of extra shingles so that when they turn 24, you can take it down and put the shingles back together.
LESLIE: Oh, you mean when they never move out and I never move to a bigger house because of what things are? You know, be here forever playing basketball in my postage-stamp backyard.
Well, birds of a feather flock together, except for the ones that unexpectedly fly into your window.
LESLIE: Now, the American – oh, my gosh, I can’t even believe how often it does happen. The American Bird Conservancy reports an average of two birds are killed per home every year because of window strikes, which happen mostly during the spring and fall migration. And here’s why that happens and what you can do to keep your house off of the flight path.
TOM: Now, the reason birds fly straight into windows and then also sliding-glass doors, is usually because of an optical illusion. Birds may think they can fly in one window and out an opposite window of your home or they’re kind of fooled by the reflection of the glass. And they think seeing trees and shrubs or a clear sky means they’ve got a clear path. And this even happens at night because they can crash into the lighted windows, because they see plants inside and they see indoors but they think that they can sort of fly right through.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s disturbing to find those injured birds around the house but there are easy things that you can do to prevent these window strikes. Now, the basic idea is to make that glass less reflective and more visible to the birds. So here’s some affordable DIY tricks that are going to work.
Outside, you can hang reflective items outside the windows, like decals or wind chimes, and that’s going to distract birds away from it. And you can also apply closely-spaced white or black tape strips or other decals on the glass. Or you can even draw high-contrast patterns on the window with soap or washable paint, which could be a cool project for the kids. I mean no one wants to have the birds hit the window. It’s terrible.
TOM: Now, you can also close shutters, of course, and any window that’s not in use or use shades or awnings to minimize the reflection. Make sure you move bird feeders and bird baths either within 3 feet, like really close, or more than 30 feet away from the windows. And you could also consider attaching a window screen or a light netting to the outside window frame to provide sort of a cushioning effect if the bird still manages to hit that window.
LESLIE: Now, there are simple things that you can do indoors, as well, like keeping your blinds, the shades or even the curtains at least partially closed and turning off lights at night. And if these do-it-yourself options don’t work, you can find anti-collision products online, like specialized stickers that you can add to your windows to make sure that the birds can see the window before they crash into them.
TOM: Anti-collision products. I could’ve used that when my kids were little because they were always running into things, right?
LESLIE: Please. I find that we run into screens more often than the glass. So, either way, somebody’s banging into something. Whether you’re a bird or a human, it’s happening.
TOM: It sounds like a baby-proofing item: an anti-collision sticker. Well, alright. Let’s save a few birds out there, shall we people?
Well, painting is a great spring project and if that’s on your to-do list, we have a fantastic product to give away to one listener: the Wagner Control Pro 170 High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayer.
This makes those projects go pretty fast, right, Les?
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. You can paint three times faster than if you were painting with a roller. Plus, you’re going to use way less paint because it’s 55-percent less overspray than traditional airless sprayers. And what’s so great about the Wagner Control Pro 170 is that as a homeowner, you can tackle far bigger projects than you would have on your own before. You’d just have gone out and hired a pro but now you can tackle it yourself.
It’s super easy to use, it applies a high-quality finish that you can be proud of and you can say, “Yeah, I hired a pro. That’s me.”
TOM: It’s available both in-store and online at Lowe’s Home Improvement. That Wagner Control Pro 170 Paint Sprayer going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Reach out to us with your home improvement question by clicking on Leave a Message on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Jeff in South Carolina is dealing with some unwanted visitors to their money pit. Tell us what’s going on.
JEFF: I have a couple of feral cats that are running around in my backyard. I have a birdbath and the cats stop at that birdbath. And when the birds come in to take a drink and then splash, they jump up and they kill the bird. And what I’ve done is I’ve poured the water out of the birdbath to keep the birds away. But how do I get rid of the cats?
TOM: There’s a lot of initiatives around the country, with organizations that will help deal with the feral-cat issue. Many of them run what’s called a TNR program, which is Trap, Neuter and Return. So, the idea is that they trap the cats humanely, like with a Havahart trap or something like that. They neuter them, then they return them to the environment but hopefully not in your neighborhood where they’re used to finding that source of food.
And so I would turn to an organization like that that can help you trap the cats and get them off of your property. And if they have the added support that they can neuter the cats – and that helps the overall community from stopping these cats from reproducing.
LESLIE: And you know what else? We had an issue years ago when – there’s a person on our block who feeds every cat in town. Has about 30 cats and kittens just living in their backyard. And the neighbor next door was doing a ton of work. There was a dumpster with food scraps and stuff in it. And so all the cats kind of just meandered into my yard.
And I had called the village because honestly, I didn’t mind the cats being there but they were killing a possum. And now, all of a sudden, I had to clean up a dead possum and birds. And I really don’t want to be doing that. So I called the village and the village referred me to the town. So, long story short, I made a bunch of calls to finally get to someone in the county who told me that where I live, feral cats have the same rights as squirrels, which means you can do nothing about them.
But if you do find a local cat rescue, they might be willing to come and help you take the cats, find them a place to be adopted by. And maybe if you find a place that you feel comfortable with, a donation might not hurt in helping them to get the cats off your property. So, you never know. I might make a call to your town or your village and see where that goes, too.
JEFF: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’ve ever poured a fresh, new concrete porch or a patio or a driveway or a sidewalk, you might notice that while it’s new, it looks fantastic but it can quickly lose that new concrete luster. Well, QUIKRETE has a product that both cures new concrete and seals new or existing concrete to protect it against a wide range of stains.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s called QUIKRETE Cure & Seal and it works for both new or existing concrete. For new concrete, Cure & Seal promotes proper curing and that’s going to help make that concrete stronger. It’s also going to increase its durability and reduce shrinkage cracks.
TOM: And for existing concrete, it will repel water, as well as protect and seal surfaces from acids and grease and road salt and more. I also like that it makes the surface a lot easier to clean. And when winter comes along, it’s going to protect it from winter damage caused by freeze-and-thaw cycles, too.
LESLIE: To learn more about QUIKRETE Cure & Seal, head to QUIKRETE.com. QUIKRETE, it’s what America is made of.
Renee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RENEE: My question is concerning my sump pump. Obviously, a sump pump in the basement. And for a long time – for several months, I had not heard the sump pump going on. A few weeks – a few months ago, when it was raining very hard, I went down to the basement to see why the sump pump wasn’t kicking on and it was the well was filled with water. So, I went ahead and I drained the water out by bucketing – taking buckets of this, pouring buckets of water out until I got down to see where the ball was. And it still wouldn’t come on. So I tapped the ball and eventually, when the water rose, it did kick on again.
But then now I’m hearing this gurgling sound in my kitchen-sink piping. And I want to know why.
TOM: Where is the sump pump discharging? Is it discharging into this basement sink?
RENEE: The sump pump discharges – it’s connected to the outside sewer line. And that’s – I guess that sewer – the line is connected to the basement – the kitchen sink.
TOM: OK. So first of all, it has to go through a trap. If it doesn’t go through a trap, you may get sewage gas that comes back into the basement. So that’s the first thing.
Secondly, the gurgling might just – because it doesn’t have enough water in the sump itself. You’re probably pulling a lot of air in there.
And thirdly, because your sump pump was filling up when you had heavy rain, the source of that water is easily within your ability to repair and stop. Generally, when your sump pump fills up after a heavy rain, it’s because your gutters are clogged or overflowing or your downspouts are not discharging away from the foundation. Or the soil around the house is not sloping away from the outside walls. That’s what causes problems with water filling up in basements and floods in a sort – because that outside surface drainage is just not set up right.
So I would focus on improving your exterior drainage. There’s a great article on MoneyPit.com about how to solve wet basements. A lot of that advice applies to this. And then you’ll find that the sump pump will have to run that much less.
RENEE: OK. That’s great news.
LESLIE: Tracy has written in with a question. And this is a question we get pretty often but I always wonder the opposite: why not put up wallpaper? But that’s not Tracy’s question. Tracy is saying, “How can I take off wallpaper that’s on top of plaster? Do I just sheetrock over it? Can I take it off completely?” I say just put on a nicer, new wallpaper. But let’s help you out with what you want.
TOM: But that’s you. Yeah. And then, 10 years from now, whoever has to take that off is going to take off 2 layers of wallpaper, which is even worse.
LESLIE: I told you. I’m never moving.
Well, look, Tracy, I am of the opinion that you should always take the wallpaper off. It is a lot easier than what you think. There’s a handy tool called a Paper Tiger that will score or put little, tiny holes in that wallpaper. And then the key is to saturate it. I mean really saturate it. If you have enough water that you rub over that wall or spray over that wall, with a pump-up garden sprayer kind of saturate – you know, look, if you’ve got hardwood floors underneath, you’ve got to protect them but you’ve got to make it wet. You’ve got to do it a section at a time. If you can catch an edge, especially if it’s a coated paper, you might be able to peel it off. But if not, you start at one side, work to the other, scrape it off until it comes off completely.
If you’re really having a hard time, the surefire way to make it easier is to go out and rent a steam wallpaper remover. A wallpaper steamer, basically, will put some hot steam right where it has to be and that definitely will melt the adhesive and have that paper coming off in sheets.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you, Tracy. But listen, wallpaper is super nice. So start with a fresh surface and then put up a new wallpaper. They’re really fun.
Alright. So, Tom, we’ve got a quick one here. Frank in California wants to replace some windows but they’re in stucco. So what’s the best way to cut and remove them from the stucco?
TOM: Yeah, so you’d think it’s a big answer; it’s not. You don’t remove the stucco. What you do is you order replacement windows, which are custom-made to fit inside the existing window openings. That’s going to save you a whole lot of work, Frank. So just go ahead and order replacements. It’s a different type of window than a new-construction window and they will go in perfectly every time.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you out, Frank. And it seems like your project got a lot smaller, so well done.
TOM: Well, when it comes to a green lifestyle, the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – are key. Leslie has tips to help with one green building project that delivers all three, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. This is truly about the fourth R. Let’s talk about that: repurposing. And it really is a great trick of the trade. You just take usual items that you have around your house and you turn them into functional and quite good-looking side tables. You know those glazed, ceramic garden stools? A lot of people use them outside on their porches and their decks. You can find them pretty much everywhere, from discount shops to even super high-end stores. Now, those look fantastic as a little unexpected side table or even in the bathroom as just a place to put an orchid (ph) and a candle or some rolled-up towels. Something really cute but it’s just another use for something that might normally go outside, that can look really sharp and special inside.
Other things to consider: rain drums, vintage wire baskets, old suitcases stacked, even musical instruments. All of these can work really well as a table base. I mean sometimes you might say, “A violin? How am I going to do that?” But if you get a very simple table base and kind of attach these instruments to that base with the top, suddenly you have a very unique and interesting side table.
So don’t let the item that you have sort of dissuade you from building something, because there’s always a way to make that piece work. All you need, really, is that tempered glass on the top and you are good to go. So if you find something around your house that you need some help figuring out how to make it work, send us a photo. We’ll happily help you out.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, do you love water pools and features? Well, we’re going to share a very cool option to create a natural in-ground pool that is beautiful and Earth-friendly, 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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