Are your kitchen cabinets tired and worn? Tom and Leslie tell you how to choose new cabinets that’ll step up the space and not blow the budget.
If you’re thinking about an outdoor project, and love the sound of a babbling brook, we’re going to tell you how to create your very own water feature for your yard
Ready to take on an outdoor paint project? We’ll highlight new paint sprayers that makes paint projects quick and easy.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Options for adding GFCI’s to bathrooms that don’t have them.
- How to repair exposed rebar around your pool?
- Tricks for finding the source of a window leak
- Tips for humane ways to get rid of squirrels who have made a home in your home!
- How to reduce condensation in basements
- How to seal and preserve a brick chimney?
- Is it less expensive to build or buy wall shelves?
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’re here to help you create your best home ever. And I’m pleased to announce the arrival of summer. Yes, it’s finally here. It’s officially summer and we are so psyched about that. Because all those projects you’ve been tackling in spring to get ready for summer, you get to start to enjoy them. And if you haven’t finished a project yet or maybe even haven’t started a project yet, we can help you do just that.
Couple of ways to get in touch with us: you can pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT – if we’re not in the studio, we will capture your information and call you back the next time we are – or you can post your question to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, are you thinking about getting some new kitchen cabinets? Well, if your kitchen cabinets are tired and worn, we’re going to tell you how to choose new ones that’ll step up the space and not totally blow the reno budget in the process.
LESLIE: And if you’re thinking about an outdoor project and love the sound of a babbling brook, we’re going to tell you how to create your very own water feature for your yard.
TOM: And if you’re ready to take on an outdoor paint project, well, we’re going to highlight what’s new in paint sprayers, including a technology that can help you get this project done faster and come out better than ever.
LESLIE: But first, we want to help you with your projects. So give us a call, let us know what you are working on because as the weather warms up, we can help you figure out a whole list of projects to tackle around your money pit. So don’t hesitate. Let us put you to work.
TOM: Yeah. No doubt, if you don’t have a to-do list, we would be happy to complete one for you. Give us a call – that number, 1-888-MONEY-PIT – or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: John in Virginia is on the line and looking to upgrade some electrical outlets in the bath. But some tiles got you trapped? What’s going on?
JOHN: So, I got the bathroom that’s attached to my daughter’s room. The outlet isn’t ground fault – like a ground-fault outlet.
TOM: Yep. OK.
JOHN: But it’s tiled into the bathroom. I can’t switch it out because there’s tile around the outlet.
TOM: Oh, no.
JOHN: So I was wondering, is there any way to make that outlet safe without having to block out the tile?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, here’s what you can do. You can make the entire circuit ground-fault protected. So you want to trace that circuit back to your main circuit-breaker panel and you can replace the circuit breaker with a ground-fault circuit breaker. So, in other words, the entire circuit now is ground-fault protected, not just that outlet.
And depending on how your house was wired, that could be inconvenient if it happens to include some area that you don’t want to be on the ground fault. Like you trip the ground fault and I don’t know, the lights go off in the kitchen or something. But that’s the way to do it. This way you don’t have to tear that old outlet out. And I would also keep an eye on it, though, because at some point that outlet’s going to fail and need to be replaced.
TOM: But if you want – you know, if you want to get the protection, you just create a ground-fault circuit. In newer homes, what they do is, actually, do one circuit for all of the bathrooms and put that in the main panel often. Or sometimes, they’ll do one circuit for all the bathrooms and have it tied in and just one GFCI kind of acts as the circuit breaker for everything, located in one of the bathrooms.
But that’s the way to do it and not too complicated. An electrician could hook you up pretty quickly with that.
JOHN: Wow. Alright. That seems pretty easy.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us.
JOHN: Thanks. Bye.
LESLIE: Heading now to Arizona, where it’s been super hot.
Barb, what’s going on with your pool? How can we help?
BARB: We have an older pool. We live in Arizona. The pool is used a lot.
BARB: The pool deck has lots of cracks in it. The tile needs to be replaced. There’s some rebar that has come up from the pool deck. We would like to go over and retile and plaster the pool again.
TOM: So, essentially, what you’re telling me is that when the pool was originally constructed, there was rebar – reinforcing bar – that was imbedded into the pool so that the pool would be properly supported. And you’re seeing that this is exposed in some areas, which means that maybe some of the surface came away, perhaps there’s some rust that’s set in. And you want to know if that means you have to completely replace the pool or whether it’s repairable. Is that about right?
BARB: That’s right.
TOM: OK. So, yes, I think it’s repairable. I think it’s a normal thing, for an older pool, for this to happen to. And there are going to be a number of products that I suspect that they’re going to be epoxy-based, because they stick the best to the old surfaces of pools and they’re suitable for underwater. And I don’t see any reason that you couldn’t make a repair to that particular area.
I would just caution you, Barb, to be aware that sometimes you’ll have contractors that always want to kind of sell you the worst-case scenario in terms of the work. And I suspect that repairing an area where some rebar has exposed – has become exposed – is not an enormous job. I would think that it’s almost a normal seasonal job that you might have to do from time to time, just to make sure that that surface stays in good shape. So if everything else is working well, then I think you probably should just make that repair.
And in terms of the pool deck – of course, if it’s tile and it’s chipped and broken, then that’s a different story. But there are a lot of cool products that are out today that are literally paintable. In fact, there’s a product that’s called RollerRock. There’s another one that’s a terrazzo coating. There’s a product called SpreadStone. A lot of the good ones are made by a company called Daich Coatings. And you essentially can clean that pool deck surface – not on top of tile, mind you, but let’s say if it’s a concrete surface – and then apply these products. And you can get really beautiful finishes without spending a whole lot of money.
So I think those are some options for you to kind of spruce this up as we get into summer here and not really have a lot of work to be done before you can actually enjoy that pool, because that’s why you have it. You live in a warm area of the country and this way, you can get it fixed up quickly and start to enjoy it once again.
If you reach out to us and ask your question on today’s program, we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat, because we’re giving away a set of products today that can help with literally dozens of repairs around the house or the job site. It is The Original Super Glue’s Total Tech.
Now, Total Tech is the perfect mix of a heavy-duty construction adhesive and an all-purpose sealant in one product. You can use it to repair any type of material, indoors or outdoors. It works in all weather conditions. And check this out: it even works underwater. It’ll bond with incredible strength and flexibility and it’s paintable.
You’ll find it at Amazon or in your local hardware store but we have got a package of 8 different Total Tech products to give away today, worth 64 bucks, going out to one listener drawn at random. So give us a call, right now, with your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike in Alaska, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
MIKE: I have an upstairs window that leaks when it rains. I noticed the soffits are dripping on the outside of the windowsill and I’m wondering if the reason for the window leaking is because of the soffits. Or could it be the roof that’s leaking or even the window that’s leaking? I don’t know who to call first.
TOM: Your soffits are the overhang where a roof overhangs the exterior wall. So are you saying that that’s where you’re seeing the water come out?
MIKE: Yeah, I’m seeing drips coming from the soffit.
TOM: Do you have gutters?
TOM: Alright. And sometimes, gutters get backed up and then the water will overflow the back of the gutter and drip out through the soffit. Do you think that might be what you’re seeing?
MIKE: That’s possible, too. I’m just wondering why I see drips coming from the soffits.
TOM: Right. Because, as I said, the water will get behind the gutters and then it will work its way into the soffit area. And once it does that, it’s just going to run out the path of least resistance, which could very well be what you’re seeing with the drips.
Is the soffit above the window?
TOM: OK. So the window’s a first-floor window?
MIKE: Second floor.
TOM: And there’s a soffit above it. And you think the window’s leaking. Why do you think the window’s leaking when the water is coming out the soffit?
MIKE: Because it drips and I have to put a towel around the window because – dripping when it rains.
TOM: So, there could be two issues here. It might be flashing around the window or it could be an issue with the gutter. But here’s one way that you can diagnose this. What you could do is take a garden hose and get it up on that roof and let it run down the roof, right around where that – where the window is under it, you know what I mean? Not blast it but just saturate it for a good 10, 15 minutes and see if you can make it leak. If you can make it leak, you probably have a leaky gutter or a leaky roof.
Now, if it doesn’t leak, then that’s good. So the next thing you do is you take that water and now you start holding it around the sides of the window. Of course, the window has to be closed, right? But you hold the – between the siding and the window, not right up against it. But just try to sort of flood that area with water and again, see if it leaks. If it leaks then, then it’s very likely the flashing around the window. And to fix that, you’ll have to remove, most likely, the siding in that area and then have a pro reseal that window. It’s not usually a matter where you can caulk it; usually, you have to reflash it because there’s a breakdown somewhere that’s letting that water in.
But those two very simple checks can tell you which part of the area assembly is leaking. It’s kind of hard, as you’ve discovered, to track this down. So you have to be a bit of a detective and that’s one way to do it. If you can make it leak, you’re going to know where that area is.
Just do one side at a time so that if it leaks on the right side, for example, and the water is on the right, then you know kind of where to look for the failure that’s causing it. If you just blast the whole side of the house with water, you’re not going to know anything except it leaks. But you knew that when you started. So you’ve got to be kind of smart and strategic about it.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re planning a kitchen remodel, new cabinets might be one of the most expensive components that there are in that design. But, they’re also one of the most important parts when it comes to getting the kitchen design that you want. We’re going to lay out the options, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: Alright. First up, if you’re planning to replace the cabinets, you should understand there are basically three levels of cabinet customization to consider.
Now, the first are stock cabinets. These are the least expensive, they’re mass-produced – you’ll find them at home centers and other retailers – and the only downside is they’re not very easily modified. Now, that said, manufacturers do have a lot of variety and it can be a really good solution that saves a lot of cost.
One source that I really like is IKEA. I’ve used them for years for kitchens. And one of the reasons is because instead of sort of messing around with the leveling and the shimming to install cabinets straight – which is, you know, always a big hassle in my old house – they provide a bar system. So it’s a bar that’s mounted on the wall, then you actually hang the cabinets from that. And their floor cabinets have adjustable legs, which is super smart because this way, you can make sure the cabinets are straight even though your floor is not.
LESLIE: And it really does make life a lot easier with that option right there.
Now, the next sort of middle-ground cost option here is a semi-custom cabinet. And it’s kind of a mix between a stock and a custom cabinet. And this variety will allow for you to have some slight modifications. And that could be height, width, depth, all of that sort of those minimal adjustments at the time of production. And there’s a wider array of associated moldings, trims, all of the finishes that are available. And of course, you’re going to see the price go up accordingly.
And finally, these are the most expensive we’re talking here. These are custom cabinets. And these are going to be created especially for you and your kitchen, with pricing determined by the complexity of your design and the materials that you pick to make them out of. Now, if you demand fine craftsmanship or significant customization, custom cabinets really are the only way to go. But they also, again, are going to be super expensive.
TOM: Now, in terms of popularity, light-colored cabinets with a mix of open shelves and glass-fronted doors are really common right now, because they provide that visual depth that kind of opens up the kitchen in a really cool way.
Now, I always think, Leslie, the flip side of that is, “Yeah but it doesn’t hide all my stuff. So, I’ve got to make sure all my dishes are stacked in the perfect pile.”
LESLIE: Yeah. And they’d better look nice.
TOM: And they have to look nice, right? I think, at least, you need some cabinets with full doors on it because nobody is that neat.
Now, speaking of small changes, hardware is one that has a big impact. So, one of the things to keep in mind is to make sure you are replacing your hardware. Sometimes, you can choose one or two feature pieces but it can make a really big difference in the overall look of the kitchen.
LESLIE: And that’s 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: Alright. Now we’ve got Stephanie on the line from Tennessee who needs some help around the money pit. What’s going on?
STEPHANIE: We have a somewhat – it’s not a shower wrap. Two walls is of acrylic-type material, marble-looking.
STEPHANIE: And then it has a glass door with a look-through glass side.
I was in the shower and it sounds like little pop-pop-pop-pops. Now, I noticed I have little, teeny spider cracks – just real thin – on the side wall.
STEPHANIE: So, I let the shower dry, put Gorilla Tape – waterproof Gorilla Tape – on it so it wouldn’t get any more wet.
TOM: OK. What? No duct tape was available?
STEPHANIE: The duct tape or Gorilla Tape is everybody’s best friend.
TOM: There you go. OK.
STEPHANIE: But I put it on there to prevent more moisture in there.
STEPHANIE: But it just made these little spider marks. I haven’t had any more. You can barely see them but I really don’t want to tear out a shower.
TOM: So the sides are acrylic?
STEPHANIE: Yeah. It’s like acrylic marble. The head wall where the faucet and the showerhead is and the side where the soap dish is in the shower stall.
TOM: Right. OK. So it’s kind of like a liner almost, it sounds like. It’s over the wall structure that’s acrylic. Does that sound about right?
TOM: Are these cracks all the way through or are they just on the surface? Because it might be the glazing on top of the acrylic.
STEPHANIE: OK. Actually, I believe they’re on the surface.
STEPHANIE: And they all seem to originate from the embedded – I don’t know if that’s the right word – soap dish. But they’re just spider and – but there’s – you can’t feel them.
TOM: Yeah. You probably stressed that part of the liner. Maybe you grabbed on the soap dish, I don’t know. Plus, it’s an area where you’re going to have an expansion-and-contraction pattern that’s different than the rest of it.
If they’re not going through – they’re just the surface – I would not worry about that. I’ll give you one trick of the trade to kind of maybe make them less obvious. And that is if you were to apply car wax to the walls of the shower – not the floor, alright? Because you’re going to slip and break something.
STEPHANIE: Right. Oh, yes.
TOM: But to the walls. You will find that that will buff in really nicely and the water will, of course, run right off it. And I think it might help to hide some of those spider-vein kinds of cracks, the same way it does that on the finish of a car.
STEPHANIE: Oh, great idea.
STEPHANIE: Because, actually, we’re going to be selling our house in about 6 months and I was like – I’m trying to be ahead of the ballgame on things I know I need to address, without having to do the whole enchilada.
TOM: Well, here’s what you do. Here’s what you do. You polish up that shower, right? And when you sell your house, you take a brand-new can of car wax and you put a bow on it and you make that the housewarming gift for the new owners. And then you can tell them about your call with The Money Pit and explain to them how to use it.
STEPHANIE: Hey, I really appreciate that. I really do. I listen to you all’s show. A lot of good information. We appreciate you down here in Tennessee.
TOM: Now that we are officially in the vacation season, home security is something that we’re all probably thinking about. And if you would like to keep your home secure and prevent break-ins and package thefts and other various forms of hooliganism, you guys need to enter our Safe at Home Sweepstakes, right now, at MoneyPit.com. It’s presented by Deep Sentinel Home Security Systems.
LESLIE: With Deep Sentinel’s live guards watching your camera feeds, they are proactive in preventing crime before it happens – security systems like ADT or Brinks are reactive; they’re going to wait for a break-in before a monitoring center is notified – and there are no false alarms.
TOM: You can win a 3-camera system worth nearly 1,900 bucks or one of five 1-camera systems, plus a full year of live-guard surveillance.
LESLIE: Now, you can enter the Safe at Home Sweepstakes once a day at MoneyPit.com. Plus, if you share the sweeps with friends, you can earn bonus entries.
TOM: That’s right. So enter today, enter every day at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Ken in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
KEN: We had a contractor rebuild a little cottage. The upstairs is 790 foot and then the bottom is a garage. And we might make up with it in another bedroom. But we were debating on whether to put in the ductless mini-split system or they mentioned this high-velocity, little 3-inch vent system. But I think I’m pretty much going to go with the ductless mini-split.
TOM: Yeah. The high-velocity systems are good for – especially for older houses where it’s hard to run ductwork. But I found that they’re pretty expensive, especially in a small project like that. I think a ductless mini-split will work fine and you can get one that both heats and cools.
Now, how many rooms are in this 700-square-foot cottage?
KEN: Well, it’s like 795 upstairs. But what I was figuring on is going with the 48,000 BTU and then go – or 4,800, excuse me. And then do two 18 where we’re going to live at, 18 upstairs and one 12,000 downstairs. Does that sound right?
TOM: Well, there’s a heat-loss calculation that you can do and your HVAC contractor should do for you. But my – the reason I asked you about how many rooms is you just want to make sure that the A/C can get to all the rooms, because split-ductless means it’s one point.
KEN: It’s one great, big room upstairs: you know, one open room upstairs. And I was going to put one on each end.
LESLIE: I think you’re best to consult with an HVAC pro. You have to also keep in mind that each of the split systems – the one piece that’s on the inside goes to its own individual condensing unit on the exterior. Now, there are commercial-grade split systems that I’ve used on episodes of Hotel Impossible that contain multiple interior units that go to one condensing unit. So, speaking with a pro, they might be able to give you a better idea of which options would work well to minimize the amount of units on the exterior and maximize the amount of cooling.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, water features like ponds and waterfalls, they can help turn your landscape into something really special. Gives you a focal point and it attracts wildlife. And they can be complicated or really simple to build. Now, at garden centers – we’ve got them everywhere across this country – you can find some manufactured forms, premade forms in a variety of shapes and sizes. And that kind of makes the whole process of digging out and starting your water feature super simple. And you’ve really got to decide how big it is, how small it is. Is the design complicated? Because that’s really what’s going to set the tone.
TOM: Yeah. Now, most water features are built with liners for the ponds, which are available in any size you want. And once you do the excavation, you line that with sand and then the liner goes down from there. Now, that is very common, especially with the bigger water features but you’ll also find a big selection of the preformed liners, like those you see at home-and-garden centers. And these come in all sorts of shapes and they really simplify the installation. It’s kind of like taking a kiddie pool, minus the octopuses and the little fancy sea animals on it, and sticking it in the ground, right?
LESLIE: Although you could probably use that.
TOM: I mean if that’s the look you’re going for, right?
LESLIE: No. It’s whimsical.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: You know, we used to actually build water features all the time on While You Were Out and it was always a fun project to do. We usually would start with those preformed liners and then sort of customize the area around them. And then you have to make sure that you size the pump for that water feature perfectly.
Now, you just have to keep in mind that water features really should look natural. So you can add lilies and other sort of greenery to the pond to give you that natural, wild feel. And if the pond is deep enough – usually it’s about 3 feet depth of water – you can add koi fish and they stay there all winter long. I really don’t understand how this happens. Do they go dormant? Are they mummified? What do they do in the winter?
TOM: It’s amazing. Yep. Yep.
LESLIE: It’s so strange because they’re still and frozen but not dead. And then they come back.
TOM: Yeah. I do understand that you don’t dare feed them cause that kind of will kill them. They’re just used to just being there and not eating somehow. They hibernate just like bears, I guess. But underwater bears.
Anyway, just keep in mind that if you’re not planning on making your water feature a koi pond, you do need to drain it every year. And even during the year, they do need to be cleaned like a pool. So, they take a little work, but they can be a really fun addition to your outdoor space.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Allison in New York on the line who has an unwanted visitor at their money pit. What’s going on?
ALLISON: My husband – I wish he was on with me – but our mission is to humanely trap we believe to be a squirrel that’s running between the drop ceiling in our basement. And my husband said, “Two-by-eight joint rafters.” There’s like a 2-inch space only and …
TOM: What I want you to do is to go out and pick up a trap called a Havahart trap. Now, these Havahart traps are live traps in that they’re going to catch this squirrel. And then you’re going to pull this trap out and you can take them out to the woods somewhere and release them.
What you do with the Havahart trap is once you get it set up, in the back of the trap where you want this squirrel to kind of end up, put an apple back there. And don’t just put it back there but wire it to the back wall of the trap. Take a piece of picture wire, thread it through the apple and kind of tie it off. Because I’ll tell you what, even though these traps are good, those squirrels and other small rascals can sometimes grab that without tripping the door. But if you wire it to the back of the trap, they don’t have a chance. And set it near the opening, wherever you can get access to it.
And I’ll tell you, sooner or later, that squirrel is going to wander in that trap and bam, you’ll hear the door slap and they will not be happy. They’ll kind of be running in circles trying to figure out a way to get out. But you can cover them with a blanket, throw them in the back of your car, in the trunk, and take it out somewhere. And then as you open that up, believe me, they’re not going to stand around to kind of talk about it with you; they’ll just bolt. As soon as you lift that door, they will bolt into the woods.
TOM: I hope that helps you out, Allison. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We want to help you out with whatever projects you are working on. Plus, we’ve got a great set of products today to give away, that can help with dozens of repairs around your house or even on a job site.
We’ve got, up for grabs, The Original Super Glue’s Total Tech. Now, Total Tech is the perfect mix of a heavy-duty construction adhesive but also an all-purpose sealant. So it’s going to grab instantly, it’s going to dry fast and then it’s going to create a seal that is 100-percent watertight. So think about it: it’s ideal for use in and around pools, sinks, bathtubs, I mean so many uses. It is a great prize.
TOM: And it’s paintable. You’ll find it at Amazon or your local hardware store. Or you can learn more at SuperGlueCorp.com/TotalTech.
We’ve got a package of 8 different Total Tech products, worth 64 bucks, going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us with your home improvement question or post it online. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re planning a painting project – like painting a fence, a deck, or even the outside of your house – usually this is a project that you’re like, “Bleh, I don’t want to do it. Let me hire a pro. It’s just I want to get it done and I don’t want to do it.” But thanks to some new technology in paint-spraying equipment from Wagner, the process really is now simple and efficient that just about any DIYer can get that job done really well without the expense of hiring a pro.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s really fun to do with these paint sprayers. We’re talking about the Wagner Control Pro High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayers. They’re designed to allow homeowners, just like you, to take on big projects all by yourself instead of hiring a contractor and save money.
Now, one of the things that’s really unique about them is, first of all, they’re airless. And they also feature a high-efficiency airless technology. And that produces up to 55-percent less overspray. So you’re not going to waste paint. It’s not going to be a big mess. And the sprayers apply a high-quality finish actually three times faster than a roller, so you can get those big jobs done quickly.
And, they work with water or oil-based paints, as well as stains. We stained a fence two summers ago. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be done again. We did it two summers ago and I’ve got to tell you, because I am so smart and I know everything about home improvement, I decided, “Hey, let’s do it in the middle of July, when it’s freaking 125 degrees out.” So, I kind of wish I had a tool like this to get it done quicker, because I chose my time so poorly. And you’re really going to enjoy it.
LESLIE: Yeah. Check out the Wagner Control Pro High-Efficiency Airless Paint Sprayers at WagnerSprayTech.com. Now, the Control Pro 130 is available at all major retailers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, Amazon. It is a great tool to add to your toolbox.
Judy in Minnesota is on the line with a moisture issue. What’s going on?
JUDY: Our house is about 40 years old. And it has – in the room that we’re talking about, we’re painting it. We painted it once before without a primer. And it turned out really – I thought it looked really nice. But now we repainted it a different color. And on the inside, then, is that rough paneling. And it’s separated by – it’s got the insulation in there with a plastic on it. And we noticed now – and we’re going to paint it – that there’s moisture halfway down on the paneling. We think that’s caused by condensation.
TOM: It may very well be if it’s a damp space.
Now, there are some things that you can do to reduce condensation in below-grade spaces. It’s kind of the same steps that you would take if you were having an actual flood. You want to make sure that your exterior drainage is set up so that no moisture is being trapped against the outside foundation wall. And that means making sure the gutters are clean, the downspouts are extended and the soil slopes away from the walls.
If you’ve done all those things, then the next thing I would do is I would install a dehumidifier in that space. And try to find one that has a built-in condensate pump so that it collects water and pumps it out. Otherwise, you’ll be emptying buckets upon buckets of water.
And then, finally, it’s also possible to install a whole-home dehumidifier, which is an appliance that is attached to your HVAC system. These are highly effective at pulling moisture out. In fact, most of them will take 99 or 100 pints of water out a day. So, those are three different ways that you can reduce moisture in that space.
Judy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dee Dee wrote in and she says, “We recently tore out plaster-and-lath walls in our 1930s home. We like the look of brick, so we left the chimney exposed instead of covering it with drywall. My question is: what is the best way to seal that brick so it stops dropping dust into the room?”
What does that mean? Is it just so worn from being hidden behind the wall for so long that it’s missing that outer sealant or it’s just crumbling?
TOM: You know, I wonder. First of all, tearing out plaster and lath is one the dustiest jobs you can do in an old house. I know because I’ve done it. And in fact, I did it once when we rebuilt – we had sort of a mother-daughter house and we rebuilt one section of it to become a little office for me and a little studio for me. And I went right down to the studs and – because that’s kind of the way my mind was thinking. “Oh, let’s just take it all out and start again.”
Well, it was so dirty, it was so dusty. The plaster was so thick and so heavy and so much extra work. The next time I did a room in the house, I said, “You know what? It’s not so bad. I’ll leave it there and just skin it.” I went right on top of it.
So, when you do that kind of project, you generate a ton of dust. And I do wonder if a lot of that dust kind of got stuck and sort of embedded in the chimney. She might be seeing some of that. Generally, the chimney brick itself doesn’t deteriorate unless it’s been a leak there and you get some mineral-salt deposits on the outside.
But either way, what I would do, Dee Dee, is I would brush with a stiff broom brush: a stiff bristle like that, like the kind of brush you might use for a floor. I would brush that chimney down to loosen up any material that’s on the outside of it. Then I would use a wet/dry vacuum and vacuum it really good so we know we got as much of the debris off it.
And then, I would use a masonry sealer. Couple of coats of good masonry sealer ought to stop any remaining dust that’s on that from flaking off into your newly-remodeled room. And it’s not going to add a sheen to it, because that would just ruin the whole thing, right? You don’t want to see a shiny chimney. It’ll still look pretty natural but it will stop anything else from releasing from it.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jerilyn (sp) who wants to know: “Do DIY shelves cost more than store-bought? I need more shelves in my bathroom, but I’m thinking it might be less expensive to buy them.”
TOM: You know, that’s kind of a really good point and it’s one that I sometimes choose to ignore, because I love doing the projects. It’s not exactly the most cost-effective thing sometimes to build something that you could buy for a lot less money. But for me, it’s kind of like therapy, so there’s a benefit right there.
But I think, in this case, there are so many bathroom-shelf configurations out there that she’s probably going to – if cost is the only factor, you probably would spend a lot less by buying them yourself. I think if it’s an area where you want to customize something, then I think the economics change a little bit and it may be more cost-effective for you to build it.
What do you think?
LESLIE: I mean it depends. So now, you’re going to get a way better finish with something that’s store-bought. And I think in a bathroom environment, you want a secure, sealed finish that will last in that sort of humid environment. But if you feel confident in how you can sand and finish and you know, really create something beautiful and durable and you want the challenge, go for it. But I always find making something is always more expensive.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. And Happy Summer, everybody. We’re so glad to be here with you to help welcome a new, warm, wonderful summer. We hope you are all spending lots of time outside, breathing the fresh air and enjoying your spaces. If you’ve got some improvements in mind, remember, we are here to help you, 24/7. There’s also a ton of resources on our website at MoneyPit.com.
But for today, that’s all the time we have. 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 2021 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.)