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 are so thrilled to be here talking with you today about your home improvement projects, because it is the fall season. It is just about upon us and the leaves are starting to change and the temperatures are starting to drop. And it’s a really popular time for home improvements because it’s that time where we – the weather is nice enough to work outside or inside. And we’re also thinking about the fact that just ahead, we’re going to be stuck inside when it gets really cold.
So, whether you’ve got a project inside your house or outside your house, we’d love to help you get it done. We can give you step-by-step tips to get that project going or maybe talk with you about what has to happen if you want to hire a pro to get it done. We’ve got the ideas. All you’ve got to do is pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, it’s a good time to take a look at your gutters before those leaves start to drop. You know, they do a lot more than just keeping water from overflowing onto your head as you dart in and out of your house. If you don’t have gutters or if they’re in bad shape, you can be looking at some pretty serious structural problems that could result. So we will walk you through the best options for new and improved gutters, just ahead.
LESLIE: And if you’re trying to give a small bathroom a makeover, you’ve got to make every single inch count. We’re going to have tips on smart designs to make the most of a small space.
TOM: And speaking of smart designs, with smart-home technology today it is easier than ever to add home security cameras. But aside from protecting your home from break-ins, we’re going to have some tips on other ways cameras can be used that you might not have thought of.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the Onelink Safe & Sound by First Alert. Now, this is a cool, new product just out from First Alert that’s going to notify you, on your cellphone, in the event of a smoke or carbon-monoxide emergency, no matter where you are. Plus, it has a premium speaker and can play music or even answer voice commands with its built-in Alexa.
TOM: That Onelink Safe & Sound by First Alert is worth $249.99. And it’s going out to one caller drawn at random. Now, if you call us, we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat. We’re going to send that Onelink Safe & Sound product out to you. And this is going to include those that posted their questions not only today but the previous week on MoneyPit.com. Either way, let’s talk about your next project.
LESLIE: Angela in Georgia is on the line and would love to tackle a painting project. How can we help?
ANGELA: We have vinyl flooring in our kitchen and it’s more than 20 years old. And there are just a few areas where it’s starting to yellow. And it’s coming, probably, from underneath because bleach doesn’t work. And it’s got nicks on it – in it.
Anyway, I was thinking, I have always wanted to have a black-and-white checkered floor. And this pattern is like a grid – it’s 6-inch squares – so it’s already all lined out. And I was thinking about painting it black and white or whatever color scheme I decide upon. But I don’t know what type of product to use.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t think painting a vinyl floor is a very good idea. I don’t think there’s any product designed for that, especially a 20-year-old vinyl floor. If you wanted that type of pattern, I would just get a new piece of vinyl. I mean they’re not that expensive. The yellow that you describe is not a stain. It’s a chemical reaction. What happens with vinyl as it ages, especially if it’s had throw rugs over it or rubber-back carpets over it, is it’s an oxidation that occurs that changes the color of the vinyl.
A lot of people think those are stains but they’re really not. It’s just a physical change of the vinyl material. But I don’t think vinyl can be painted. Vinyl siding can barely be painted and I don’t recommend that, either. There are some high-adhesion primers that you use for that but take that to the floor and now you’ve got to have something that’s really durable, that can take chairs being rubbed across the floor and that kind of thing. So, I don’t think painting is a possibility. I would be considering another type of product.
And you know what? There are so many new floors today. The prices have come so far down. You can get beautiful laminate floor now, that’s super water-resistant, for under about three bucks a foot. So, I would take a look at the new flooring and treat yourself to a floor that looks like that pattern that you envisioned but is much newer and more durable.
ANGELA: OK. Could that new type of flooring just be applied on top of this, just right on top of it?
TOM: You can put it on top. If the old flooring comes up easily, I always like to take as much of that up as I can. I don’t like putting layers down. But you know what? If it’s solid and it’s flat and it’s well-adhered, then I think it’s OK to go on top of it. Just keep in mind that when you do that, you make the floor thicker than it was before, taller than it was before.
And sometimes, not so much just with vinyl – but sometimes, if you have a dishwasher – if this is a kitchen and you have a dishwasher, you could be at risk of sort of flooring in the dishwasher, so to speak. In other words, you could have flooring that’s thicker than the legs of that dishwasher. So, what you really have to do is take the dishwasher out, floor all the way into it and then adjust the legs and slide it back in again.
ANGELA: Alrighty. Well, all of the appliances probably could be pulled out. Yeah, that wouldn’t be a problem.
TOM: Alright. Well, then, good luck with that project. The good news is you’re getting a whole new floor. It’s going to be a lot easier than painting the old one, I’ll tell you that.
ANGELA: A lot less work, I’m sure, yeah.
TOM: Absolutely. Yep. Now and in the future. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
ANGELA: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve Al in Arkansas on the line.
And perhaps, Al, now we can finally answer this question: how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I think you can help us with that. What’s going on?
AL: That’s a good one, Leslie. I’ve got a hill that runs down to a creek. And when it floods, the bottom of the hill gets wet. And some woodchucks had moved in a few years ago and they dug holes. And when the water got up there, it kind of washed out and caved in. And then it came up the hill more and now here, this year, there – I’ve got a 6-foot-deep section of earth missing and I – my wife doesn’t want me to shoot these woodchucks. And they can chuck a lot of dirt and they can climb trees.
LESLIE: That sounds crazy.
TOM: Yeah. So it sounds like they’re taking over. Well, would you like to evict them? How about that if we’re not going to shoot them? You want to evict them?
TOM: Because I think you could use a Havahart trap. Havahart traps are great. They work for groundhogs and woodchucks. Pretty much the same size animal, same type animal. There are slight differences, of course, but the Havahart trap is a good option.
Now, the problem is you’re going to have to take the animal for a ride, miles away, and let him go.
LESLIE: You have to put it in your car.
TOM: But what you do is you get this Havahart trap and you get the one that’s sized for woodchucks. You’ve got to bait it. Now, a little trick for that is if you take some fruit, like an apple, and you put it in the back of the trap, you take a wire – like a piece of picture-frame wire or something like that – and you thread it through the apple. Or a piece of electrical wire, something that you can thread through the apple. And then you tie it off to the back of the cage. Because this way, he can’t smack it towards himself, right, and just grab it and run. He’s got to go back there to have the treat and then the door slams.
Now, when that happens, the animals are going to panic and especially if you approach them. But what you want to do is throw a cloth over it, pick the cage up safely using the handle and then you can take it out somewhere, well away from your property, and let them go. And then go reset it again and do it again the next day or the next few days. And eventually, you’ll lower that population and that will give you a chance – a fighting chance – of getting that hill back in shape.
AL: I appreciate it. Thank you very much. Good job.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, if you get the answer to Leslie’s question, please do let us know how much wood a woodchuck can chuck.
LESLIE: We’re dying to know.
You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Just ahead, good gutters are key to more than just keeping water from overflowing onto your head as you dart in and out of your house. But if you don’t have gutters or if yours are in a bad way, serious structural problems can be the result. We’re going to walk you through the best options for new and improved gutters, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, we might just be able to send you a product that’s going to make your home safer and a lot more fun, because we’ve got from First Alert the Onelink Safe & Sound to give away. It’s worth $249.99.
Now, this is a very interesting product. It’s a premium smoke and carbon-monoxide detector but it also does a lot more because it lets you play music with premium sound, thanks to the natural acoustic background from the ceiling. They even use a simple, hands-free command with the built-in Alexa to maybe play a song that you like to hear. Or you can say, “Hey, Alexa, play The Money Pit,” and your smoke detector will start playing that.
LESLIE: In every room, everywhere you go.
TOM: Now, the device will also alert you on your cellphone in the event of a smoke or carbon-monoxide emergency, no matter where you are. And it also has voice and location technology. And that’s going to allow it to alert users to the type of danger and the location of the danger within the house.
That product is worth $249.99. Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Laurie in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LAURIE: I am trying to put a freestanding deck in my backyard. And my backyard has blackberry bushes in it, so I have to get rid of the blackberry bushes first.
LAURIE: And I don’t want them to, you know, grow back up through the deck.
LAURIE: So how could I do that?
TOM: Well, they’re probably not going to grow through the deck, because the deck is going to block all sunlight to it. That said, as you prep the soil, what you’re going to want to do is – obviously, you have to build footings for this, right? So you build the footings and then you take off whatever the top surface is there, if there’s grass, whatever. And then you lay down weed block – which is sort of this black, burlap-y kind of fabric. And you lay that down underneath the deck and then you can go ahead and frame over that.
What you might end up doing is do the framing and then kind of lay the fabric down at the very last minute because, frankly, it’s kind of hard to walk on it while you’re framing this deck. So you might end up even putting the floor joists down, then lay the fabric under it, then finish it off. And that’ll help slow down anything that wants to come up right away.
But I think that once this deck is built, it’s going to be so dark under there that you’re not going to have problems with the blackberry bushes coming up through the deck. It certainly would come around it but not through it.
LAURIE: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Laurie. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Richard in Washington on the line who’s doing an addition and needs a hand. What can we do for you today?
RICHARD: Actually, here’s what I’ve got. I’ve got a house built in 1938: a footprint – essentially, it’s shaped like a cross.
RICHARD: The bottom portion of that cross used to be the garage. They turned it into living space and what they simply did with that bottom left quadrant, they poured about a 4-foot-high concrete wall.
What I’m wanting to do is try to gain as much ceiling height as possible. It’s currently framed with 2×10 for the ceiling joists. And I just didn’t know if some of the new engineered lumber would allow me to perhaps get away with something a little shallower, while still retaining the strength. But I need to go 16 on center – pardon me, 12 on center instead of 16. I’m willing to do that.
TOM: So, Richard, let me ask – let me stop you, OK? Because you’ve got a complicated question. And my first question to you about this is: do you have an architect working with you on this project?
RICHARD: Not currently.
TOM: You need one, OK?
TOM: This is not a do-it-yourself, general-contracting kind of project. You’ve got a house that you started with that’s got problems. It sounds like – it definitely sounds like the guy before you didn’t have an architect; otherwise, he wouldn’t have designed all these drainage problems into it. And then the guy that came before that, that originally built the house, didn’t have an architect: at least one that knew what he was doing. You, my friend, need an architect.
An architect can look at this situation, address these questions in terms of the design, the elevation and spec out the lumber that you’re going to need to get you where you want to go. Yes, will TJIs or laminated beams help you get more span with less depth? Yes, they will. But it’s an engineering problem to figure out which ones you use and how you lay it all together.
So I would tell you, “Stop, right now.” Stop wasting time trying to figure this out on your own and focus on finding an architect to help you. You will be spending some money on this design. It will be well worth it. You will avoid a whole host of problems with the design later on. And secondly, you’re also going to have a set of specs that you can use to go to different contractors and get some prices. So that’s definitely your next step.
RICHARD: OK. I guess that covers it.
TOM: Well, as we head towards fall, now is a good time to take a look at your gutters. You know, they are key to more than just keeping water from overflowing on your head as you kind of move in and out of your house. So we’re going to walk you through the best options for new and improved gutters, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, gutters perform one duty and that’s controlling the water around your house. But if the gutters are missing, disconnected or clogged, you could be facing major and expensive home repairs.
Now, not managing that water around your home can cause flooded basements, cracked foundations and sidewalks, leaky roofs and even lead to wood-destroying insects finding your house a pretty darn tasty meal.
TOM: Now, if you’re choosing new gutters, the most common types are vinyl and aluminum but they have some significant differences. Now, first, the vinyl gutters are going to range in price from around $4 to $8 a linear foot. They’re less expensive than aluminum but also, some of the cheaper vinyl gutters can be really thin. So that means they can sag or become brittle in extreme temperatures. They also tend to leak more frequently than aluminum, so you can expect to have some regular repairs to keep them watertight.
LESLIE: Now, aluminum gutters, they tend to be much more durable. They range in price from about $6 to $12 per linear foot but they are so much more durable, so they’re worth that expense.
Now, the aluminum gutters, they’re installed by pros who can custom-build a single gutter for each roof section. And then plan for those adequate downspouts to make sure that your gutters don’t back up during a heavy rainfall.
TOM: Now, once gutters are installed, they do need to be kept clean. And do-it-yourself gutter cleaning is simple enough but it can be a dangerous job for the untrained, say, weekend warrior. So, in the alternative, there are a lot of types of gutter-guard systems in the market to choose from. And all of them offer some sort of protection for your gutter at different costs.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com. With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments all online, for free.
TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.
LESLIE: Bob in California is on the line and dealing with some plumbing issues. Tell us what’s going on.
BOB: It is in regards to the water hammer that you get in the plumbing normally. I would say it’s either in the walls but mostly in the ceilings.
BOB: And what I understood is – and correct me if I’m wrong – is they run the plumbing in the attic and then they’ll run an extension up a foot or so that just goes up and deads (ph). And it’s to carry a volume of air, so instead of working as a hammer when you turn the water on and off and it hits hard, it uses that air.
TOM: That’s true. That is a way to create a water-hammer arrestor with air in the pipe. That’s sort of the old-fashioned way to do it. The high-tech way is with these sort of small diaphragms that are sort of stretched across the pipe, with compressed air on one side, that can actually be adjusted depending on the bang. And the rubber expands into the chamber and then pulls back again. So either is a viable option.
BOB: Ah, I never heard of the other one. But what my question was, being old-fashioned – and my question is: about how often would you put them and how tall? And would they be larger, such as like a hydraulic ram would be or would they just be the normal-size pipe? And I would think, as a preventive measure, you’d do that. The reason I ask is just recently, they changed the plumbing in the attic in the apartment and it developed a water hammer when they changed it.
TOM: So, the answer is they’re usually not very tall, the times that I’ve seen them. But today, I would use a water-hammer arrestor. So just look that up at the plumbing supply house – a water-hammer arrestor – and have your plumber install one of those on each line and that should deal with it permanently.
BOB: I appreciate it. I just thought maybe there was a rule of thumb on how often and how tall that extender was.
TOM: Yeah, you can do that but that’s the hard way. I would use the water-hammer arrestor and that will take care of it the easy way.
Bob, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, if you’re trying to give a small bathroom a major makeover, you have got to make every single inch count. Just ahead, Tommy Silva from TV’s This Old House stops by with tips on smart designs to make the most of that small space.
TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Get the latest fall trends in hardwood, bamboo, laminate and waterproof floors for less.
Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
Winter is coming. Is your roof ready? Is it time to replace the heating system? I mean HomeAdvisor can instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free, for any of those projects or many others. Check them out at HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Laurel in Pennsylvania is on the line.
And I’m reading, Laurel, that your ceiling fell down? What the heck happened to your apartment?
LAUREL: Well, the lady upstairs had a problem in her kitchen and her bathroom. And I don’t know if there was a fire or what but she flooded the upstairs. And so some of my kitchen ceiling fell in with all the water coming down. It smells like smoke, it smells like rotted wood, wet wood. What do I do?
TOM: Well, by the way, why are you dealing with this as opposed to a landlord or an insurance company?
LAUREL: Well, he swept it up and then put another – put a new tile in the suspended ceiling and that was it. He didn’t repair the whole …
TOM: Well, first of all, you asked about smoke smell and the way to deal with smoke smell is to use TSP and scrub the walls and scrub the ceiling. Trisodium phosphate. That will cut through the tar and the nicotine that sticks to the walls.
Now, if you’re concerned about mold, there’s a product called Concrobium, which is excellent. Specifically designed to kill the mold. It’s far more effective than bleach. And the other quality I like about Concrobium is it leaves a protective coating on the surface when it dries so that the mold can’t grow back.
Their website is CureMyMold.com – C-u-r-e – CureMyMold.com. Check it out. I think that that is the solution to your mold issue, Laurel.
LESLIE: Well, one overlooked space where we spend a lot of time is the bathroom. And if you’re trying to give a small bathroom a makeover, you have got to make every inch count.
TOM: That’s right. And if you’re going for a renovation, you need to think smart design to make the most of a small space. Joining us now with advice on how to do just that is This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.
TOM SILVA: Thanks, guys. Nice to be here.
TOM: Now, why is it so important to think through this carefully before going ahead with any makeover or renovation?
TOM SILVA: You always want to know where you’re going to put things. And if you have a small bathroom, guess what? You’re going to need the same things in the small bathroom that you need in a big bathroom. But you have to know how to place them and what to use to make the bathroom look like it’s bigger than it actually is.
TOM: Well, that’s true, because every bathroom pretty much has the same things. If it’s a full bath, it’s going to have a shower or – and a tub or one of the other. It’s going to have a sink, it’s going to have a toilet. So beyond that, your space is your own and if you don’t have a lot of it, there are some tricks of the trade to actually take advantage of some of those hidden nooks and crannies, right?
TOM SILVA: Right. I think the first is how you’re going to get in or out of the bathroom, so you think about the door, the swing of the door if it’s a small space. Do I even have place to swing the door? A pocket door comes in great for this.
TOM: Now, how does a pocket door differ?
TOM SILVA: Well, a pocket door will actually go into the wall cavity or you can mount it on the face of the outside wall before you even go into the bathroom. And that can be a nice, little feature that you’re trying to celebrate.
TOM SILVA: A pocket door will go into that wall and be right out of the space; it won’t take space for that door to be.
LESLIE: And if you’re dealing with a super-small bathroom, you might not, as you mentioned, have that space in the wall cavity because of plumbing.
TOM SILVA: Right.
LESLIE: And that barn sort of hardware that mounts on the outside, it really can be beautiful and really be a modern or industrial kind of look for the space.
TOM SILVA: Surface mount, yeah.
LESLIE: Now, what about tricks that you can do? I mean every space needs a mirror. Is there anything, as far as choosing my mirror for that space, that’s going to make it feel bigger?
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. The larger the mirror, the bigger the space will be. A mirror will double the size of the space. So if you have a mirrored wall – and you may laugh but a mirrored ceiling makes a huge difference. You take a boat, for example, with a small bathroom, what do they do? They mirror the ceilings because it gives you the illusion of the space going up and up and up.
TOM: Now, what about the color of the finish materials? Probably lighter has got to be better, right?
TOM SILVA: Lighter is always better. That means the tile, if you’re going to use tile, the paint finishes and the shower glass door. If you use a shower glass door that’s not clear glass, guess what? That’s a wall.
TOM: Yeah, good point.
TOM SILVA: You want to be able to look through the back wall to see the back wall of the shower. You don’t want it to stop at that door.
LESLIE: Now, having a small bath myself, at our money pit, storage is always a big, big problem. So how can you cleverly sneak out those spaces very sneakily to get you all the storage you need?
TOM SILVA: Right. It’s difficult and sometimes, you can put a recessed mirror above the sink. But sometimes, you run into a vent line or a vent pipe, so you’re stuck with maybe recessing the cabinet into a wall cavity somewhere else in the room. You want to be careful not to recess that cavity into an exterior wall, because you don’t want to have a cold spot.
TOM SILVA: So interior walls are great for making recessed or hidden cabinets.
TOM: Now, one of the must-haves for bathrooms, really, regardless of size – like let’s talk about safety.
TOM SILVA: Safety is important. You want to make sure that you have a hand bar, tile bars, grab bars, that kind of thing, especially if you have relatives that visit. Like my mother, for example, I would always be concerned about her being safe in the bathroom, so …
TOM: And those grab bars can actually be very stylish today. In fact, they could match the bathroom faucets.
TOM SILVA: You can get them in colors, you can get them in finishes: bronze, satin, all kinds of finishes.
TOM: And of course, ground fault is critical.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. That’s the code.
TOM SILVA: And that’s why you want a building inspector to basically – you want to get a building permit to make sure that the job is done right. So that’s very important. You don’t want to get electrocuted.
TOM: And finally, one thing that a lot of folks – shockingly, the building code allows you to leave out, which is an exhaust fan. There is this provision of the code that says if you’ve got a window, you don’t need to have an exhaust fan, as if we love to leave our windows open in the winter. But the exhaust fan is really a critical piece of equipment in a bathroom.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. It’s very important and I like to have an exhaust fan that’s on a timer. They have a timer that could be a 15-, 30- or a 90-minute timer but they also have fans today that are humidity-sensitive so that when you leave the bathroom, the fan stays on as long as it senses humidity. It shuts off and then it turns itself back on again because even though you think it’s dry enough to shut it off, it isn’t.
And you also – I want to make a point of saying this: it’s very important that you do not vent that bathroom into an attic.
TOM: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Because then you’re dumping that moisture up into the attic where it gets the insulation damp, causes mold to grow and the insulation is just not going to work that well.
TOM SILVA: Mold, mildew and rot.
TOM: Yep. A real mess. Good advice, Tommy Silva.
There’s a lot you can get into a little bathroom with a device like that, folks.
Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and great step-by-step videos on projects you can tackle and articles, as well, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by American Standard.
Just ahead, with smart-home technology today, it’s easier than ever to add home security cameras. But aside from protecting your home from break-ins, we’ll have tips on other ways cameras can be used you just might not have thought of. That’s all coming up, next.
Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post it to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Ashwani (sp) in Illinois is on the line with a lawn question. What’s going on?
ASHWANI (sp): I have seven or eight trees in my backyard, which are pretty tall, like 30 to 40 feet. And they’re close to my house. I have been seeing that their roots have started showing up on the ground. I don’t know if it was because of the drought or what, you know, in different kinds of trees: crab, white ash, crabapple. I’m just wondering, is there something I can do to fix it or I have to get – start getting rid of them? Because if they get weak and they fall, then they might fall on my house.
TOM: Well, first of all, this is Mother Nature’s way of growing these trees and the tree roots. And no, there’s nothing you can do about it. If the trees are healthy then, of course, the risk of them falling on your home is certainly reduced. Anything could happen in a storm but I tell you, I’d rather have high trees around my house and take a chance on one falling down in a storm than not, because they’re just so beautiful and they have so many energy-efficient benefits by keeping the sun away.
Now, if they’re very crowded, you may consider thinning them out. Sometimes, you have to take out one tree to make room for another. It’s a project I did myself about three weeks ago. I had planted some trees when we first moved to our house over 20 years ago. And it turned out that one of them, I felt, was really sort of taking the sun away too much from another and causing it to stunt. And then it became damaged by woodpeckers, so I just decided to take it out. And now, that tree that’s next to it is doing much better.
So, sometimes, you’ve got to thin things out in order to give the remaining trees – maybe the ones that are in the best shape or the ones you like to look at the most – a better chance of surviving and thriving.
So, I think this is really just sort of a management issue. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what you’ve described. It doesn’t give me any pause that you’re going to have a lot of risk of damage to your house. Like I said, as long as they’re healthy and as long as you are keeping an eye on them and making sure they stay that way and as long as they’re not growing too terribly close to the house – I mean roots that are within 2 or 3 feet of the house can cause foundation issues. But if we’re talking about trees that are just in your backyard, I think that you’ll be OK just the way it is.
ASHWANI (sp): OK.
TOM: And if they’re that close to the house and if they’re really tall and really heavy, then you may want to think about thinning them out, OK?
ASHWANI (sp): Yeah. Thank you. Thanks a lot.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: With smart-home technology today, it’s easier than ever to add home security cameras. But aside from protecting your house from break-ins, there are other benefits to cameras you might not have even thought of.
TOM: Yeah, like keeping an eye maybe on your wine or liquor cabinet, especially if you’ve got teenagers, right? There’s a chance they’ll try to sneak out a bottle of wine or maybe even a full bottle of liquor if they’re especially brave. This way, you can kind of see exactly who’s going in and out of that space.
LESLIE: Yes. And then when you wonder why the vodka tastes like water, it’s not because that’s what I did when I was in high school.
TOM: Now you know. Right. Ah.
LESLIE: Now, here’s a really smart tip, because I find that people are having this issue all over. You can keep an eye on the packages that get delivered to your house. Set one up right outside the front door. This way you know who or what or when – if a package is stolen or if the delivery driver actually delivered your package to your home like they claim they did. Sometimes, they’re at the house next door and they’re like, “I was there.”
TOM: Yeah. Well, that’s a great point. And they also make great pet cams, which is super fun. So you can supervise your pets when you’re away. If your cat is sick or your dog tears up your couch cushions, a smart security video camera is going to let you see, listen in and even communicate to your pets from anywhere. So you could hit the button and say, “Get off that couch,” even before they do any damage.
There’s a lot of ways to use these cameras now if you’re going to have them in your house, aside from the security aspect. There’s a lot of lifestyle conveniences that you can kind of take advantage of.
LESLIE: Sandy in Florida is dealing with a squeaky door. Tell us what’s going on.
SANDY: Well, we’ve had this squeaky door now for three years. We’ve tried putting oil on it, we tried using WD-40 and then we went out and bought three new hinges and put on it. And it still is a squeaky door.
TOM: Are these hinges sort of standard hinges?
SANDY: Yes. It’s just three standard hinges.
TOM: So what you might want to do is go out and buy some ball-bearing hinges. There are some upgraded hinges. They’re often used on heavier doors but they rely on ball bearings to open and close instead of just the metal sitting on top of the metal. There’s actually bearings there that the different sides of the door will ride on. And those will be absolutely quiet and they’ll last forever.
SANDY: Wow. Where would they carry those?
TOM: Well, I would expect that you would find them – you may need to go to a home center and order them. Go to the millworks section of a home center, bring an old hinge along and try to order a ball-bearing hinge to match it. Or your hardware store. Or you can probably find them online, as well.
SANDY: Yeah, that’s what we’ll try. Well, thank you.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit. You can post your home improvement question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com or call it in to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.
TOM: Just ahead, are clogged tub drains slowing down the family shower schedule? We’ll have tips on a DIY way to restore the flow, next.
Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. But you’ve got to help yourself first and post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com or call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home project.
LESLIE: That’s right. Doesn’t matter what that project is, they make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros.
TOM: And there are no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use. HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Give us a call, post your questions online. However you reach us, we love to lend a hand. So we’re going to answer this question here from Tiffany who writes: “We have a slow-running drain in our bathtub. I tried using a bottle of chemical drain cleaner and the water now drains a little faster but I hear loud gurgling sounds we never had before.”
TOM: That sounds like sort of a half-cleared clog that may have moved some of the obstruction around and maybe got some up in the vent pipe, as well. Because gurgling usually means there’s not enough air getting into the line.
And I’ve got to say, Tiffany, that I am not a big fan of chemical drain cleaners because they can be somewhat unsafe. You know, if you get a leak in the drain, the drain cleaner can leak out. I’m concerned about possible reactions between whatever’s in the pipes and the drain cleaners. I don’t want them to splash up when you put them in and get into your face, your hands or your eyes.
So, I prefer a much safer method for cleaning drains. You can use – now, first of all, there are different types of drain snakes, right? Now, I’m not talking about the big, heavy ones. But a lot of times, especially bathtub drains are because of hair. And you can find a really – a small, little drain snake that’s designed just for hair at a home center. It kind of looks like maybe a ruler that’s about 18 inches long. But it has kind of like fingers on the side of it and it’s flexible. So you can stick it right into that drain and push it right down and clear the trap.
And if that doesn’t do it, the other thing that I’ve often have had a lot of success with is to simply vacuum out that drain. Now, how do you vacuum out a drain? Well, if you have a wet/dry vac, like a shop vac or any other type of wet/dry vac, you can basically put that vacuum on the drain and it will pull up the obstruction the same way it went down in the first place. And I’ve seen it pull it right into that vacuum cleaner itself.
So, two ways there to try to clean those drains. If they continue to persist, you’re going to need to hire a pro. I’d call a plumber, I’d call a drain-cleaning service especially if that obstruction has now moved up into the vent pipe, because there’s really no other way for you to reach that than, frankly, from the roof on down. And that’s not a job for a DIYer.
LESLIE: Next up here, we’ve got a post from John. Now, John writes: “We had a very expensive summer due to high air-conditioning bills. And I’m considering adding two whirlybird turbine vents to my roof to help move some of the heat out of the attic, as temperatures average 115 degrees up there. Is this the best way to cool the attic space and reduce my A/C costs?”
TOM: Yeah, not a good idea, John, and here’s why. Because those turbine vents, they look like they’re doing a lot of things a lot because they kind of spin around. But they’re really not very efficient.
If you want to have efficient attic ventilation and especially passive ventilation – which, frankly, is even better than attic fans – you want to have a ridge vent that goes down the peak of the roof. You want that to be a ridge vent that’s well-designed and fully open. Air Vent is a brand that I’ve recommended in the past – they’re one of the CertainTeed brands – because that vent really lets a lot of air out. And you need to couple that, though, with soffit vents at the overhang. This way, the air goes in the soffits, under the roof sheathing and out at the ridge. And that will keep it much cooler in the summer and reduce those A/C costs.
LESLIE: Alright. Hope that helps you out. And stay cool and get out of the attic already. Go to those air-conditioned spaces and cool down.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, advice and inspiration to avoid perspiration when it comes to taking on your home improvement and décor and remodeling projects. We are here for you as a resource, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or you can research your project on MoneyPit.com or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page, also, 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.
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(Copyright 2018 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.)