- Icicles may be attractive, but they’re an early warning of some potentially serious roof leaks. Learn how to stop the leaks caused by ice dams and even get your homeowners insurance company to pay for a new roof!
- Painting is the easiest and least expensive way to completely change the look of a room. But many DIYers struggle when it comes to picking the best color for their project! We’ll share simple tips to help chose the perfect paint colors
- Did your furniture pick up a little extra wear and tear over the holidays? We’ve got hacks to fix water rings, dings and dents.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Joel from Michigan wants to know choose the best stud finder?
- Nancy in Arkansas needs help to fill a gap in hardwood floor and her front door threshold.
- Ken has wants to know what’s best way to repair water damaged sheetrock and wants to know if it’s a DIY project.
- Karen in Tennessee wants to know how to keep her house warm during the night using her thermal pane windows.
- Tony from Montana needs repairing a crumbling foundation.
- Kathryn in Colorado is having a mice problem in her unfinished downstairs and wants to know if the ultrasonic plugins work.
- Ben from Illinois how to prevent lime discharge pipe on his water heater.
- Nancy in Massachusetts has a garage door that isn’t closing properly.
- Kirk from Ohio is putting on an addition wants to know if he can create a heated floor by running pipes through his fireplace and under his floor.
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: Happy New Year, everybody. Have you started to make a list of New Year’s resolutions yet? Have you already broken some of those resolutions? Well, we’re going to help you keep them when it comes to your house. If you’ve got a project you promised yourself you want to get done, we will not stand in your way. We will help you get it done. Just call us with questions, call us with – you know, if you don’t know where to start, if you think you’re going to get stuck, if you’re wondering if you can do it yourself, should you hire a pro – how do you hire a pro? Whatever it is, that’s what we do. We’ve been doing this for over 20 years and this is a brand-new season for The Money Pit Radio Show and The Money Pit Podcast. And we are so excited to be here to help you get those jobs done.
So, first up on today’s edition, do you enjoy watching birds visit your yard during the warmer months but you miss them in the winter? Well, guess what? You don’t have to. We’ve got tips to help attract visits from your fine-feathered friends all year long, even in the coldest of months.
LESLIE: Alright. That sounds fun.
And if you’ve made a resolution to take more time to enjoy the little pleasures, we’ve got a great idea for you. How about creating a studio space so that you can focus on a pastime that you’ve always wanted to take on? We’re going to share some tips on that, in just a bit.
TOM: And here’s a common plumbing problem that may have a very simple solution: stinky odors coming from your sink drains. We’ve got a hack that can help.
LESLIE: But first, we need to know what you need to know. So, how can we help you get started with projects that you’ve got planned for 2022? Regardless of how large or small that project is, you definitely need some help getting started in the right direction and we can lend a hand.
TOM: Couple of ways to get in touch with us: you can call us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT – that’s 888-666-3974 – or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Kayla in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KAYLA: Just got married and moved into a new home. And it already had a Honeywell whole-home humidifier installed in it. And it seems like a dream come true. I thought it was going to be amazing.
But we have 100-amp service and every now and then, our breaker will trip and I – you don’t even know downstairs unless you’re down there. And I have gone down a couple times and it was – the basement is flooded. And it floods over into the other room, into the – where I eventually want to lay carpet and have a family room.
TOM: Is that because the dehumidifier condensate pump stops working?
KAYLA: I’m not sure what it is. There’s an overfill thing for it and I’m assuming it’s supposed to lead to a drain. But the drain is in the laundry room, which is in the opposite direction.
TOM: OK. So when everything is working correctly, this dehumidifier is going to take moisture out of the air, drop it into a reservoir, which you either have to empty or it will pump out somewhere.
Usually, if it’s got a condensate pump associated with it, it could pump up sort of against gravity and there’s a clear, plastic tube that goes out and leads to a drain somewhere or even outside the house. If you have a power failure, it’s not going to work and it might actually start to leak maybe back into that room where you are. Of course, the dehumidifier is not working at that time, so it’s not going to leak for long. But I could see how it could create a bit of a puddle. So your problem is not so much with the dehumidifier but why you’re having a problem popping these breakers.
Now, 100-amp service is actually a pretty darn good service and it frequently doesn’t get the respect it deserves. When these breakers pop, it’s not usually because you’re pulling more than 100 amps. It’s because that whatever circuit you have this particular dehumidifier on is – needs to be improved, perhaps, by adding an additional circuit. But the service for the house should be fine.
KAYLA: OK. It does have a clear hose that leads outside.
TOM: That’s what’s going on. When your power goes out, the pump stops working and that’s why it’s leaking, OK? So focus on getting this plugged into a circuit that is a little bit bigger than what you have right now. An electrician could help you sort this out but it’s not a big deal to add an additional circuit just for that device.
KAYLA: Alright. Sounds good.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Manny from Rhode Island is on the line and has got a question about the water lines.
What’s going on?
MANNY: Every few months I get a mailing letting me know that I’m responsible for the water line, from the street to my home, should it break. And what they’re offering me is basically an insurance policy that would cover – one policy would cover up to $10,000 for repair work and they get the companies to do the work. And then a more advanced policy would cover up to $15,000. I wanted to get your take on what you thought about this insurance policy and the probabilities of having this kind of a problem.
LESLIE: Geez, Manny, I can relate.
Tom, I feel like I get these all of the time. It’s the water line, it’s the sewer line, it’s the main, it’s the gas line. Everything from your house to the street, you are responsible for. I feel like they’re more scare tactics because I kind of just recycle them.
TOM: Yeah. I think, for the most part, they are.
First of all, just to be really clear, these are not insurance policies, because they’re not regulated by the insurance laws of the state. What they are are service contracts. It’s the same kind of a service contract you might get on an appliance.
LESLIE: Right. Well, I have service contracts for the heating system in the house and that’s legitimate.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. The whole heating system. That is legitimate, right.
TOM: But for a service contract for the pipe that brings the water into your house, let me say this: if I had a really old house and I had a really old main water pipe that was made out of steel, which should have been replaced 30 years ago, I might get a service contract on that pipe. But for the most part, if you’ve got a plastic water-entry line, like most people do, I would not buy these things at all. The chances of this being a problem are really, really small. And if it happens, it happens. But I just don’t think it’s worth the money to insure against this.
And here’s another good example. My mom has a house in Florida and they love to sell her service contracts for subterranean termites. First of all, her house is made of concrete. But let’s not let the facts get in the way.
LESLIE: It’s true.
TOM: And they want to sell her a service contract for termites that live in the ground. By the way, the drywood termites that fly around? Those are not covered. It’s only the ground ones. They would have to have suitcases and come down to Florida with the rest of the folks from the North that move in during the winter, right?
I mean a lot of these are just – like you say, Leslie, they try to scare you into getting into your pocketbook, getting into your wallet, to buy these things. Yes, you’re technically responsible for the pipe from the meter into the house. But what’s the chances of that breaking? Pretty, pretty small.
LESLIE: Ellen in York is in on the line and has a flooring question.
What are you working on?
ELLEN: It’s a sub-basement and it has a cement floor. And years ago, I – the floor is really – the cement was poured new about 15 years ago and I put a 12-inch vinyl flooring on top. It’s still there and in really good condition but I want to put something to warm up the area. And I was thinking of maybe an engineered-wood floor.
So, two questions. One, do I have to take up the tile? And two, what is the best product to put over a cement floor?
TOM: Well, you have a lot of options. First of all, you do not have to remove the tile. You’re probably better off just leaving it alone.
ELLEN: Yay. Oh, I was hoping you’d say that.
TOM: Secondly, good options for basement flooring is pretty much anything but carpet.
LESLIE: Area rugs, OK. But not wall-to-wall.
TOM: Engineered hardwood is an excellent choice. Not solid hardwood, because solid hardwood will buckle and twist. Engineered hardwood is made up of kind of like plywood: different layers of wood that are glued at 90-degree angles to each other. And so they’re dimensionally stable, so they’ll stay flat without buckling or twisting.
Another good choice might be laminate floor for the same reason. You can get laminate floors that look like hardwood or look like tile or look like vinyl and they lock together. And both of those floors will float on top of the old floor. So they’re not physically glued down or connected; they kind of float. There’s usually an underlayment material that goes underneath them. And then you add some baseboard molding or shoe molding along the edges to cover the gap.
ELLEN: That’s fabulous. Now, can I put a radiant flooring under – over the vinyl tile and under the flooring?
TOM: Yeah. Radiant flooring underneath that is perfectly fine. Now, there are products that are designed specifically for that. In fact, there’s one that’s on the market right now called Perfectly Warm. And it’s a radiant-floor heating that is designed for products like engineered hardwood and laminate. It basically lays underneath it. It’s surprisingly affordable and energy-efficient.
And in fact, we’ve got a story about it – an interview that I did, actually, with one of the inventors – at our website at MoneyPit.com. Check out the Top Products Podcast section. It’s a story about Perfectly Warm flooring. You can hear all about it there with the interview that we did at Greenbuild this past year.
ELLEN: Oh, great. Thank you so much. I love your show.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. It sounds like it’s going to be a really good project to tackle this winter and give you lots more usable space and really step it up.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you enjoy feeding birds, you probably don’t enjoy feeding everything else around your yard, like those squirrels. That’s why you should always choose a birdseed that repels squirrels. And there are several on the market that birds love but squirrels, not so much.
TOM: Now, if you’ve got bird feeders, you know how tough it is to keep the squirrels out. But you can try to keep them away by placing your feeders away from trees, from power lines, from porches or other launching points. Squirrels can actually jump distances of 10 feet or longer, so don’t just look at where you’re putting the feeder but look at what’s around the feeder.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, another option is mounting feeders on a smooth metal pole that’s at least 6 feet high, with no surrounding branches or bushes within 12 feet. I mean think about it. This is the way that the squirrels get to everything. If they can’t climb the pole, they’re jumping from a nearby bush. I swear they can fly. There’s definitely flying squirrels across the United States.
But squirrels, when they want to get to the feeder, they will find a way. So definitely give yourself space around it. You want to make sure that you’ve got all of that distance to keep those squirrels away but also make sure that the feeders have openings that are big enough for birds but too small for the squirrels.
TOM: We use a feeder called a Squirrel Buster. And the way it works is the birds, being very light, can land on the feeder and feed as much as they want. But when the squirrel lands on it, he actually sort of slides this gate down and it closes off access to the birdseed. So that’s kind of fun. But they end up shaking so much loose that they’ll actually just sort of eat what’s on the ground underneath. And it’s funny because they’ll be side by side with the birds, in the snow, eating the seed. So, it all works.
LESLIE: Eating the seeds that fly out of their mouths.
TOM: Yeah. We also use a suet feeder and that’s good, too, because a block lasts about 2 weeks and it only costs like a buck. So, lots of ways to do that. Keep the squirrels happy, keep the birds happy, enjoy them all winter long.
LESLIE: Jonathan in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on?
JONATHAN: My question is about a split-foyer house, how to insulate the garage better. We’ve got a cold draft coming through the stairway.
LESLIE: Garages generally are cold. I feel like they’re kind of like the attic. They’re like the outside temperature. They’re designed that way, right?
TOM: Yeah. That’s true, they’re designed to be an ambient temperature, which is whatever the outside is.
Now, the walls and ceilings that separate the garage from the rest of the house, they should be insulated. And if that’s the case, then that helps to mitigate some of that. And the reason that you’re feeling drafts on the lower floor may be because the insulation wasn’t done right or adequate enough. Or it could be a heating imbalance. Heating the lower floors of a house of that design is difficult because the heat just wants to run up that stairway to the upper floors. So it could be one of two things.
Now, the other thing that you can do – because you mentioned that there are drafts – is you could improve the weather-stripping around and under the garage doors. They are not designed to be draft-proof. But if you were to improve the weather-stripping – and on the bottom of the door, there are gaskets that you could put across the entire bottom of a garage door. They’re usually rubber and they’re thick. And when you bring the garage door down, it compresses it a little bit and makes it really nice and tight. Do that, plus, use some additional weather-stripping along the inside of the door jamb. Then I think you might find that you cut back a lot of the drafts that are getting there.
So it’s a matter of mitigating the drafts, making sure the walls are insulated and then maybe improving the heating at that level. And that should make you a lot more comfortable in that house, Jonathan.
LESLIE: Linda, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LINDA: The house that we live in was built in ‘53. It’s ours and we’ve paid it off and trying to keep – upkeep it and keep it in good shape. But in between the dining room and the living room, apparently before we purchased it, there was a wall that had been removed. And the only sign is on the ceiling, where the wall was removed, there’s a double crack on each side of a 2×4, is what it looks like, about that width in the drywall.
And I’ve tried – it’s a textured ceiling they did. We actually had knockdown put on it. But it – we can’t fill the crack. We’ve tried to use drywall mud. It just returns. What can I do to fix this crack?
TOM: So this was opposite both sides of a wall that was torn out? So, they must have slipped in some drywall to patch it? Is that what you’re thinking?
LINDA: Maybe, maybe.
TOM: So that’s not the best way to fix that sort of thing. You can’t put a narrow strip in there and have it ever look like a normal ceiling. If you’ve got a hole like that where you pull the wall out, what you have to do is cut a bigger piece of drywall out, maybe about a foot or two on each side of it. And you do that right on the edge where the floor joists are – the ceiling joists are – in this case. Then you have a bigger seam to tape and spackle and secure. And if it’s done well, then you’re never going to see it again.
So you putting all of this spackle on it time and time again, over all of this period of time, has probably made more of a mess and it’s kind of hard to fix at this point. So what I would tell you to do is to cut out that whole repair, put a bigger piece of drywall in, tape it, spackle it, prime the whole ceiling and then repaint the whole ceiling. And that would be the one to do – the way to do this permanently. Otherwise, you’re always going to see that.
LINDA: OK. Thank you for telling me that.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Martin in Wisconsin is on the line with a question about a load-bearing wall. What’s going on?
MARTIN: I’ve got a wall between my kitchen and living room that I’d like to open up. And there’s already a doorway there I’d like to open up and make an open area. And the walls – it’s a main support wall. It’s a structural support wall. I want to take out about 12 – the span would be about 12 feet. There’s a doorway there that’s already 4-foot wide and so about – I’m going to try and open up another 8 foot of it. And I was wondering about, structurally, if it would be possible to put in a micro-limb? I think that’s what they call them.
TOM: Look, I don’t recommend this project for the faint of heart or any inexperienced contractor, because it’s not the kind of job you should be doing as your first foray into home improvement. I can explain to you, conceptually, how it’s done. And let’s assume that you have a bearing wall here and you need to disassemble that wall.
So, the way it is done, conceptually, is that there is a temporary wall built on both sides of the bearing wall that has to come out. So, basically, you’re building a load-bearing wall on one side of the wall that’s coming out – maybe 6 inches or a foot away – and one wall on the other side. And then once those temporary walls are in place, then and only then do you disassemble the bearing wall.
And in terms of that laminated beam, yes, once you put that beam in, it’s got to be properly supported. So the ends of the beam have to be sitting on something, like another part of the bearing wall, so that the load is transferred down to your foundation. So, again, it’s really a pretty complicated project and one that has to be done right or the consequences are pretty devastating.
So, it can be done but it’s a big project and it’s not the kind of project I would recommend you tackle unless you have a lot more experience than it sounds like you have.
MARTIN: Yeah. That’s kind of my thought about it. I just thought I would reach out to you guys.
TOM: Alright. Well, I think you’re on the right path now. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Deborah in Missouri has a question about energy. What can we do for you?
DEBORAH: I have a 1,450-square-foot home and it’s split-level. And our energy bills are like $350 a month. Trying to figure out, basically, where the hole is and how to patch it up.
TOM: Is that consistent across the year? Or is that a winter high or a summer high or what?
DEBORAH: It seems to be a – well, definitely a summer high. We just got through the summer. We’re pretty consistent throughout those 3 months. In the winter, we usually – most years it’s been around 250 to 300.
TOM: You know, your question is a good one, because a lot of people try to figure out where their home is using the most energy. So I have a couple of suggestions for you. One of which is to contact your local utility company and find out if they have the ability to do an energy audit of your home.
Some utility companies, as part of their licensing requirements, will offer services like this for a small fee or sometimes free, where they’ll have an energy auditor come to your house and look at all of the ways your home is using energy and give you some advice on where you should be concentrating on your improvements.
Short of that, we can always – only talk sort of generically. But the number-one place that you should be trying to make more efficient would be your attic, because most homes don’t have enough insulation. And if you popped your head up in your attic, what we would want you to see is 15 to 20 inches of fluffy insulation. If you don’t see that, then that’s the first place where you’re wasting a lot of energy.
DEBORAH: Yeah, that sounds great. Thanks for the resources.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever thought it would be nice to have a studio space in your home that’s dedicated to a craft space, workshop, maybe a sewing room or even art studio or whatever other hobby you might enjoy, now is actually a great time to get started with your basic planning.
TOM: Yeah. Finding the space is always the first step. But if you’re short on that, get creative. For example, think about how you might take advantage of closet space. With the doors removed, you can actually have quite a big area to work in.
In fact, at home I have a broadcast studio that used to be a coat closet but the doors were removed, the walls were actually cut back and now it’s a wide-open, enclosed alcove where we have our studio equipment set up.
So, it’s more than just needing a room. You can actually find space wherever it exists. Maybe just parse out some space from a bigger room in your home that doesn’t get daily use. Just because it’s called the “dining room” doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
LESLIE: That is true.
Now, when you’re planning your room, you want to think about the three most important areas of the room. So it’s kind of like a kitchen’s working triangle where you’ve got the fridge, the sink and the stove in a triangular sort of area so you can very easily go between them. So think about what is the kitchen sink and stove or the kitchen fridge and stove. It’s kind of – this is what you sort of figure out that kitchen triangle is. What makes up that of whatever your hobby is?
So if you’re a painter, is it the painting supplies, the easel and a place that you’re looking at the artwork? If it’s a sewing station, is it your sewing worktable, the table where you cut all of the fabrics at and then maybe where you keep all of your threads and whatnot? So you want to think about all of those things that you’re using and then make sure you have access to all of them very easily as you’re working on your projects.
TOM: Yeah. And if you’re like – let’s say you’re a woodworker. It might be the table saw, the joiner and the workbench. And just think about, when you’re designing your studio space, that you maintain a short sort of distance between the key work stations. If you’re designing kitchens, you pay attention to the working triangle – that’s the distance between the sink, the stove and the refrigerator. But in a studio, you also have key workstations, so make sure you mind that distance. If there’s going to be certain areas you’re going to be walking a lot in between, just keep them in a reasonable distance so that the flow makes a lot of sense.
LESLIE: Steve from Illinois is calling in. He’s got a question about windows. Now, I know when you get estimates on things, they can be all over the place. So how do you know what’s too high and what’s not?
Come on, Steve. Tell us what’s going on. Let’s give you a hand.
STEVE: We bought a home and we have these kind of windows that go out into the backyard. They’re the screw-out type windows. We got an estimate from Renewal by Andersen for $13,000 and we were just wondering if windows actually are that expensive or if we should shop around.
TOM: Well, Steve, if you’re talking about the entire house, a $13,000 estimate doesn’t seem too outrageous. If you’re talking about the one side of the house and they’re just sort of plain, basic – you say screw-out windows. I’m guessing you mean casements. That sounds really expensive. That would be like, what, 2,000 bucks a window? That would be kind of crazy.
So I think the best thing for you to do regardless, though, is to go ahead and get a number of bids. Renewal by Andersen is a very good company and a good-quality window but I would turn to the Angi website at A-n-g-i.com. They have a whole section devoted to replacement-window contractors. Put into that website form what you’re trying to accomplish and you’ll get a number of calls pretty quickly. You’ll get some additional prices and certainly, you can make a decision from that.
And if you want to learn more about what makes one window better than the other, on MoneyPit.com there is a great post that we put together called “How to Choose Energy-Efficient Replacement Windows,” that walks you through all the standards that you should check for to make sure that it’s a good window. So, I think if you follow that advice, you’ll be in pretty good shape.
Good luck with that project and let us know how you make out.
LESLIE: Denuza (sp) in Georgia is on the line with a heating question. Everybody is chilly this winter.
What is going on down there?
DENUZA (sp): It’s cold. It’s very cold. And I’m asking you – calling about a fireplace.
We live in an Arts & Crafts house and there’s a fireplace smack in the middle that faces two ways: to the entrance and then opening to what would be the kitchen and dining area.
DENUZA (sp): The opening to the front door is a fireplace. The other one was, at one point, blocked. And I know we have two chimneys. My question is: is it possible, do you think, for me to integrate, to open it straight through to make it one fireplace that would go both ways? Or would I have to stick to the way it was built: one way and the other way?
TOM: So, in other words, you would like the fire pit to go straight through from one side to the other.
DENUZA (sp): Yes. But I have two chimneys that’s on top.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t think so. I don’t think you can do that, because the structure of this is such that you probably have one physical chimney and then you have two liners or two flues.
DENUZA (sp): OK.
TOM: And one is on the fireplace side and one is on the other side – or one’s on the living-room side and one’s on the kitchen side.
So, why would you want that to be opened up? Just for aesthetics?
DENUZA (sp): Yes, exactly.
TOM: OK. Yeah.
DENUZA (sp): And my question would be – even if I did it using, you know, the gas kind of dealy – or do I still need a chimney for that?
TOM: I think, if you’re asking me, “Can I put a gas fireplace in there where – without venting it?” And I would say, “No.”
DENUZA (sp): No. OK. Yeah, I …
TOM: Well, because there are non-vented gas fireplaces. I’ve never liked them at all. They’ve always made me very uncomfortable. They do dump a lot of moisture into the house. And they’re allowed here in the States but I think, last time I checked, they were illegal in Canada who is much more conservative about things like this.
DENUZA (sp): OK.
TOM: So I would never use an unvented gas fireplace. I also would not convert those existing wood fireplaces to gas fireplaces, because they’re going to burn a lot of gas. Be really expensive to run.
What you might want to do is think about seeing if there was an insert that might be available for the fireplace side. Because that can have some built-in circulation with a vent fan that could improve the heating distribution of that one side.
And then you mentioned that one side’s blocked. I’d like to know why it was blocked, if the chimney is still – the flue is still functional, if it’s deteriorated. Maybe it’s not lined. I don’t know. But you ought to find out why it’s in the condition it’s in. So I think you need to talk to a good home inspector or a very good chimney contractor. Not a sweep, OK? And I want you to be cautious not to find somebody that just wants to sell you a big repair but somebody that can give you some true, independent, expert advice as to what it’s going to take to get this working again, OK?
DENUZA (sp): OK. Thank you very much. That was very helpful, because I think the thing that most helped me was about the non-venting thing.
DENUZA (sp): I didn’t realize how dangerous that could get. But thank you. I really appreciate it.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, take that out of consideration.
Alright, Denuza (sp). Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever noticed an odor in your bathroom sink, it may be biogas. So, essentially, it’s what happens when the bacteria grows in the drain line of your sink.
TOM: Yeah. And the drains can really stink.
So an easy solution is this: just fill the sink with hot water until it reaches the overflow. Then slow down that flow to just a trickle so it still runs down the overflow but not the sink itself. And then, add a couple of cups of bleach to the water. The bleach is going to slowly run down that overflow channel and it will also kill bacteria that it finds on the way. Then, after a few minutes, add another cup or two of bleach, let that drain out slowly so it’ll do the same thing for the waste line under the sink and you should be odor-free. You can just let all that water out, turn the faucets off and it should be a lot easier on the smell.
LESLIE: Justin in Missouri is on the line with a bathroom odor.
Let me tell you, Justin, I have had this sulfur smell in my bathroom before and we can help. What’s going on?
JUSTIN: I can’t really find the source of the smell. I just smell it sometimes. And it’s not all the time but I’ve noticed sometimes whenever it’s warmer weather outside and it cools off. I know it sounds funny but I get this smell. I can’t find it. There wasn’t a P-trap in the bathtub and I put one under there. I thought maybe that’s where it was coming from and that didn’t do anything. And the house was built in 2007, so it’s just almost 10 years old. I don’t know. It’s clean.
TOM: That’s unusual for a 2007 house to not even have a trap under the tub. It makes me question how the rest of the plumbing was put together. But there’s probably two sources that you should explore.
Number one is just a decay of bio material in the drain. Sometimes you get what’s called “biogas” from all the organic material that gets trapped in the drain and in the threads and the overflow on a bathroom sink. That all gets trapped in there and that can really be quite smelly.
So, a couple of things you can do there is, first of all, close the drain on the sink, fill it up until it starts to overflow. And then put some bleach in the water and let it slowly sort of trickle down the overflow for a while. That will kill any material that’s in the overflow. And then slowly let the water back out into the drain. That will hopefully kill the rest of it.
The other thing is if it turns out that it’s just the hot water, it could be a problem with the water heater. Water heaters have something called a “sacrificial anode.” And that anode, if it’s worn, you can end up having a sulfur smell as a result of that. The anode is designed to stop the water heater from corroding or rusting but if it is deteriorated or worn out, you could also get that sort of rotten-egg sort of sulfur smell.
So I would take a look at the drains first because that’s the easiest thing to do. And see if you can clean them really good with a bleach solution as I’ve described. And if it continues, try to figure out if it’s coming from the water itself. Because if that’s the case, then I think that anode is most likely the culprit, OK?
JUSTIN: OK. Thank you, sir.
TOM: You’re welcome, Justin. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Nick wrote in saying, “It’s really cold outside. My hardwood foyer and my tiled kitchen floor, they feel really cold, even when I set my heat to 70 degrees. Is it worthwhile to insulate the ceiling joists of my basement?”
TOM: Yeah, it’s never a bad idea to insulate a basement ceiling which, in your case, is also the kitchen floor. The insulation should also, Nick, extend to the box beam. That’s the outside beam all the way around the foundation, right above the foundation itself. It would be best to use unfaced fiberglass-batt insulation or Thermafiber, which is a mineral-wool insulation. And the other area that would help to insulate would be the area in the basement where the walls are above grade.
Doing all of that will help make those floors a lot warmer and a lot more comfortable, especially first thing in the morning when you hop out of bed. Ah, man, it makes you want to jump right back under those covers.
LESLIE: It’s true. It really does make a difference when you keep your basement a little bit warmer. It just feels nice on your tootsies everywhere you go.
TOM: Well, for all the cutting-edge design it is out there, most of us still follow unwritten design rules: you know, those things that someone, at some point, decided we should never, ever do. Well, sometimes breaking the rules is a good thing. Leslie has got some ideas for shaking things up, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Well, whether you’ve inherited these things from your parents or you just never thought to break these rules, it’s definitely time to go rogue on old design rules.
So, first of all, you want to start with one of my favorite rules to break: neutral colors only belong in small spaces. Even if bold colors do make a small space seem smaller, the illusion of having this amazing color in a small space, kind of creating this jeweled box of color, really is exciting. So if you’re feeling a bright color or a dark color for a tiny room, I say go for it.
Now, somewhere along the line, somebody said, “Master bedrooms should be serious. They should always be well-appointed and very, very serious and not fun.” That’s kind of silly. Who says you can’t have fun décor in a space like that? It’s going to be exciting, it’s going to inspire you in the morning when you wake up and get you ready for your day. Who doesn’t want to feel energized first thing in the morning? So if you’re leaning towards a more playful space or brighter colors or a mix of patterns, go for it. I totally say go for it.
Another one: you’ve got to put your artwork all in a line. It’s got be at eye level. It’s got to be very perfect. No way, guys. You can have as much fun on the wall – and think about it, you can lean larger frames or mirrors from the floor to the wall. You can mix and match different styles. You can go with a whole theme of photos from, say, beach vacations and do them in black and white and color or all in black and white or shades of sepia. Nobody says it all has to be the same. You can mix it up, you can mix up sizes, you can mix up frame materials, you can mix up matted frames, non-matted frames, things that are canvas-mounted on a wood-stretched frame.
All kinds of things work. As long as they sort of relate to each other in scale – you’re not going a little, teeny postage stamp one next to a gigantic poster. Mix and match it. Work with the scale of things. You can have a lot of fun creating a very interesting gallery space.
And when it comes to seating, all of your chairs do not have to match. Everybody remembers from Friends, there were all their different dining chairs. Go for it. You can mix up dining chairs, you can mix up benches. When it comes to a sitting area in a family room or a living room, same thing: two different styles of chairs, two different fabrics. It’s a great way to bring in a different pattern, a different tone, a different feel from the space.
So, definitely put your own touch in your space. Don’t be afraid to break rules, because what might work for you might not work for somebody else. And that’s totally fine because it’s yours.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending a little bit of your day with us.
Coming up next time on the program, a serious stove can boost your cooking powers, not to mention your home’s resale value. But if you’re planning to install a commercial range, well, that requires some very special planning. We’ll tell you what you need to know, 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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