- As heating bills are starting to rise, we share are several low cost to no cost things you can do to keep them under control while also staying comfortable.
- Ready for a quick kitchen refresh? Kitchen backsplashes keep the walls behind your counters clean and updating them can be a fun and affordable project to do yourself.
- Hanging holiday lights only to find that half a string is out? Get fast, free and easy holiday light fixes to restore the festive spirit!
- Is your bathroom floor looking like it need a do-over? We share several new types of bathroom floors that you can install yourself over a weekend.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- David from Texas wants to know how to freshen up his concrete patio.
- Mindy needs advice on what product to use when fixing joints on her concrete porch.
- Mike in Arizona has worn out siding and wants to know if he should replace it or re-stain it.
- Natasha from Missouri has dents appearing in her corner molding and wants to know how to repair it.
- Roger in Arkansas wants to know if he can repair a faucet with parts from the store or does he have to buy it from the manufacturer?
- Traci from Ohio wants to know how she can keep the wind from blowing into her house during the winter months.
- Joyce in Illinois wants to know what type of flooring can hold up to her home daycare and still looks nice.
- Sharon from Tennessee has some questions about tankless water heaters.
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 here to help you take on the projects that you’d like to get done around your house. You want to spruce it up? You want to do a quick décor makeover of a room or two? You want to plan a kitchen project for the new year? Maybe you want to think ahead to spring because now that’s it’s so darn cold out, I think we’re all thinking ahead to spring.
The spring daydreaming has begun, Leslie, for sure.
And so, if you’ve got a project that fits any of those topics and you’d like some help with, we are here to do just that. Here’s how you get in touch with us: you can pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, have you noticed your heating bills are starting to rise? Well, there are several low-cost to no-cost things that you can do to keep them under control while also staying comfortable. We’re going to share those ideas, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
LESLIE: And kitchen backsplashes are super important to keep the walls behind your counters clean. And they can be a fun and affordable project that you can do yourself if you choose to go with tile. So we’re going to walk you through that project, in just a bit.
TOM: And you want to make sure your holiday lights are working before you spend hours stringing and hanging them, so we’re going to give you some fast, free and easy holiday light fixes.
LESLIE: But first, we want to help you tackle your to-dos with confidence and create your best home ever. So give us a call. Let us know what you are working on, because we are here to lend a hand.
TOM: Plus, we’ve got another great reason for you to reach out with your questions, because we are giving away a really terrific tool on today’s program. It’s the Green Machine 62-Volt Brushless Chainsaw and it’s worth 289 bucks. It’s going to go out to one caller, one listener drawn at random. So you can call 888-MONEY-PIT with your questions or you can post them to MoneyPit.com. We will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and might be sending that fantastic Green Machine 62-Volt Brushless Chainsaw out to you.
So let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: David in Texas is on the line. What can we help you work on this weekend?
DAVID: I’ve got a stained patio – concrete patio – that was done when they built my house.
DAVID: And it’s faded from the sun. But when you wet it with water, it looks like it was when they did it. Is there something I could put on that?
TOM: Yeah. So the wet look is working for you, in other words.
TOM: So I mean there are a number of different products out there that will work really, really well with concrete patios. So, you can always stain the patio, which will change it – will make it more uniform and it may blend in that stain.
But I think you might be better off looking at one of the refinishing products. One of our sponsors is a company called Daich – D-a-i-c-h – Daich Coatings. They’ve got a bunch of different patio and pool-surround finishes. And many of them use real stone as part of their makeup. And so you can have a finish that looks like marble or it has a decorative sort of epoxy grade to it. There’s a lot of different options to it. I would take a look at some of those products and maybe think about how that might work for you, because it’s a lot less expensive than replacing the patio. And they’re really durable finishes.
DAVID: Do they also – like a clear?
TOM: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm. They definitely have clear finish. And you’re thinking that if you put the clear on, that might just make it all an even color. I would try to test it, just to make sure it’s going to come out the way you expect. But yeah, they do have a clear epoxy finish, as a matter of fact.
DAVID: Yeah. Because they did – the inside of the house is done the same. And we have big bay window. And so you see the outside and the inside and it’s just kind of uniform.
TOM: Yeah. There’s a product called Heavy-Duty Epoxy Clear Coat.
DAVID: OK. Well, I’ll give that a try then. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us. Bye-bye.
LESLIE: Mindy needs some help fixing a stone porch. Tell us what’s going on.
MINDY: We have a question about fixing a front stone porch. We want to fix the joints. Do you want me to use QUIKRETE with the red stripe that says corner and edges? Or do you want me to use Type S mortar mix?
Also, on the steps, at the back I see a crack. Do you want me to use the concrete and mortar acrylic sealant, that comes in the tube and you stick in a caulk gun, for that? And another question is – at the back of the house, there – at the bottom of the red brick, where it meets a large concrete patio, there used to be concrete there and it broke off. And at that place, to seal that up, do you want me to use the concrete and mortar acrylic sealant that comes in the tube and you stick in a caulk gun?
TOM: So, Mindy, a couple of things.
First of all, if you have cracks that you’re trying to fill, QUIKRETE does make a product that is specifically for that. It’s called the Concrete Crack Sealant. And it is good for cracks that are up to ½-inch wide. And I like it because it’s pourable, so it sort of flows into those cracks and then it’s self-leveling, so you don’t have to worry about troweling on.
Now, if you’ve found areas of that porch where the concrete has broken away and you have some deteriorated surface, sometimes surface gets worn from maybe using too much salt on it in the winter, there’s another product that is fairly new. It’s maybe 3 or 4 years old but it’s really terrific and it’s called Re-Cap – R-e-C-a-p. And it’s a concrete resurfacer.
So this can do two things for you. If you had – you mentioned some areas where there were some missing chunks. If you mix it up to sort of a trowel-like consistency, you can patch those areas and smooth it out. And then you can put another layer of the Re-Cap across the whole surface and it’ll look like a brand-new concrete surface when it’s all done.
The nice thing about the Re-Cap is it’s designed specifically to stick to old concrete. So if you’re trying to fix a sidewalk, a pool deck, a concrete floor or driveway, it works for all of those surfaces. And it doesn’t chip and fall off. It’s a really super product – super-strong product – because they’ve designed that bond into it so it just doesn’t separate from the old surfaces underneath.
LESLIE: Mike in Arizona is on the line with some worn-out siding. What’s going on at your money pit?
MIKE: I’ve got a house that has Western redcedar siding. And it’s about 20 years old and is really getting into bad shape. I’m wondering, can I use pine siding – the tongue-and-groove type – and treat it? If so, what would I treat that with?
TOM: So, Mike, you say the siding is in bad shape. If it’s just faded, then you can restain the whole house, using a solid-color stain, and it’ll look terrific. If it’s really badly cracked and checked and sort of structurally deteriorated, then you want to replace it.
Sure, you could use a pine siding on that. You could use the tongue-and-groove type. It wouldn’t be as durable as a cedar siding. But again, you’re going to have to stain that. And what I would do is I would stain it before you install it because, this way, it’s a lot easier to get into all the nooks and crannies. And also, you’ll be staining, basically, the inside of it, sort of back-priming it, which makes the whole board last a lot longer.
And then after you install it, you’re going to have cut lines and touch-ups to do with the stain. But it’s a lot easier to get the stain where you want it to be before it’s put together.
So, two options there for you. But again, if that Western redcedar is just faded, it does not have to be replaced; it can simply be restained. I’ve got Western redcedar shingles on my house and they’ve been on there probably, oh, going on at least 40 years now. And they really haven’t deteriorated. Except one side did, actually, once because it was facing south and they started to get dried and thinned out a little bit. But that was just a fairly minor repair. For the most part, we haven’t had to do much but stain them over the years.
Hey, fall leaves might have floated gently from the trees around your house. But those big, heavy branches? Not so much. You can trim back the weak ones, however, with today’s giveaway.
LESLIE: Yeah. We’ve got, up for grabs, the Green Machine 62-Volt Brushless Chainsaw with a 16-inch Oregon bar and chain.
Best part about this, guys, is the easy-trigger start. You know, you would think after my whole life of trying to run those gas-powered tools with the pull cord I’d be good at it. But I’m not. So I love it when there’s an easy-trigger start, plus zero gas. That means no harmful fumes.
And this guy is powerful. I’m talking a 62-volt lithium battery plus brushless motor. You’re going to have a long run time and plenty of power.
You can check it out exclusively at The Home Depot for 289 bucks.
TOM: That Green Machine 62-Volt Brushless Chainsaw is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. You have to call us with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question at MoneyPit.com.
Now, every time I say that, I get people that call and say, “I just want to be in the drawing.” Well, you’re not going to be in the drawing unless you call with a good home improvement question or post it to MoneyPit.com. That’s the way it is.
LESLIE: Natasha in Missouri is on the line with a molding question. What can we do for you today?
NATASHA: Our house is about 11 years old and the interior walls – the sheetrock or the drywall – is finished with a nice, round, bullnose corner. So it doesn’t come to a right angle, so to speak. And just through wear and tear with kids and dogs, we have found several dents appearing. And I’m wondering if you have ideas on how we might repair that or if we are going to have to just replace that whole corner edging. Any thoughts?
TOM: Yeah. I mean is this like the metal rounded corner?
NATASHA: I think it’s metal. I tap on it and it sounds plasticky but it might be metal, which would explain the dents.
TOM: Why not just plaster over those?
NATASHA: I thought about that. Some of them are just little dimples but I don’t know if I can successfully fill and sand and patch. But that’s one thought we’ve had.
TOM: Yeah. You could skim-coat it. And the other thing that you could do, if it’s a crisp dent, is you can use auto-body filler. We use that on metal doors, like metal doors that have dents in it and that sort of thing. It’s just a little harder to sand. But if it’s just the outside corner on drywall, you could use spackle for that. Build it up and then sand it. It sands really easily. You’re just going to have to prime it and repaint it.
TOM: Shouldn’t be a big deal.
NATASHA: Great. Well, that’s exciting. Some other advice I’d had was to replace the whole corner, so I love your suggestion much, much more.
TOM: Well, you can always do that but why don’t we try the easy stuff first?
NATASHA: Maybe in the bedrooms where it’s not so obvious. We’ll try that first, so …
TOM: Then you can practice and you’ll get good at it.
NATASHA: That’s right. Hey, thanks so much. I really appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Natasha. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, with temperatures dipping all across this United States of America, have you been noticing that maybe your heating bills are going up? Well, if you stay on top of your basic system maintenance, you can really keep things under control but also stay comfortable. So, some of these things are DIY and some are going to require the services of a pro. But if you stay on top of the system, it’s going to cost less to operate and then, of course, be less likely to break down.
TOM: Yeah, especially in the dead of winter, which is absolutely the worst time.
So, right now, if you’ve not done it yet, you want to have your heating system serviced. Every time a gas, electric or propane furnace runs, it’s going to leave some sort of deposit behind. Now, with electric, it might just be dirt or dust on the burners or on the coils. Not a big deal. But with gas or propane, well, it leaves a lot of combustion deposits. And when they build up, the system just doesn’t run efficiently. That means it’s got to run longer to do the same thing. And the longer it runs, the more it costs to operate. And at some point, it actually doesn’t fully combust. And what that means is when you have under-combusted fuel that’s propane or natural gas, especially, that is a definite carbon-monoxide risk. So, important to get it serviced, right now, if you’ve not done it yet.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you also want to remember things like replacing your furnace’s air filter before the heating season begins. And then go ahead and change it out every month. A dirty filter is going to reduce the airflow, which is then going to make the entire system work harder to deliver the air to those registers.
Also, check out where your filter goes. If it ends up being in a slot, sort of in that return-duct area, you want to cover the filter slot with a piece of wide tape. And that tape’s got to be wide enough to keep the air from getting in and around those filter edges. So, you’re kind of helping reduce the airflow through that and actually having it do its job.
TOM: Now, finally, let’s talk about duct sealing. Believe it or not, the ducts that you use to distribute heating and air conditioning throughout your house will leak. All the seams will leak. And the regular duct tape, despite its name, isn’t really designed to stop that from happening because it usually dries out.
So you want to check those areas where the duct seams are coming together and you want to seal them with a special type of tape. It’s called UL 181 tape. It’s usually like a silver foil and it has a special type of adhesive that doesn’t dry out or wear out. And once you stick it on there and seal it real good, then you will contain all of that heated expensive air that you’ve paid for this winter. And it won’t leak out into the attic or into the crawlspace. So, a good thing to check is for leaks around those duct seams.
If you do this, keep in mind that your system will run less, it will cost less and you’ll be much more comfortable at the same time. And isn’t that what we’re trying to all sort of shoot for? I mean there’s too many people that just sort of ride that thermostat up and down and up and down because they just don’t get that perfect comfort. But if your system’s running efficiently, you can be comfortable and save money at the same time.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. Apply for yours at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
Heading to Arkansas. We’ve got Roger on the line whose faucet does not stop leaking. What is going on?
ROGER: Bathroom-sink faucet. Moen brand. I was wondering if the parts have a lifetime warranty. I’ve replaced a plastic cylinder that has two O-rings on it. And it stopped the leak but it’s starting again. Can I just replace those O-rings, instead of buying the whole part, if it’s not under warranty?
TOM: You know, Roger, my experience with trying to repair faucets is that you absolutely, positively have to use the original manufacturer’s parts for this. And I have done kind of what you’ve done and I’ve purchased O-rings just from the hardware store or home center. They seemed the same, they looked the same but they don’t work as well. And I’ve had faucets that I’ve fixed re-leak.
However, when I’ve gotten them direct from the manufacturer, that has not happened. And the good news is that Moen has a limited lifetime warranty on pretty much all of their faucets. And it includes the ability – or the offer, I should say – for them to send you parts – original parts – that you need if a faucet ever starts to leak.
So what you want to do is call their warranty department. That number is 800-465-6130, 800-465-6130. And tell them which faucet you have and they’ll send you the parts that you need to fix it once and for all.
So, bad news: you’re going to have to take it apart one more time. But good news: once you do it, you should be good to go.
LESLIE: Tracy in Ohio is on the line with a question about storm windows. How can we help you today?
TRACY: My condo is fairly new. It was built in 2005. But the way that my – the front of my condo faces, where the weather blows in – I don’t know if it’s east or west but last year, I tried the strip thing and the plastic. And it – and the wind blew so hard that it came loose. So then I tried duct-taping it and yeah, it didn’t work at all.
So I’m wondering – we can’t put storm windows on the outside because of the condo-association rules. But I’m wondering, is there a company that makes something that goes on the inside of the windows: something magnetic or something that could help?
TOM: Well, you certainly can get interior storm windows. It is a product that’s available from – many window manufacturers will – you can order it, probably. I would go to a regular window company and order these. But there’s different types of interior storm windows that are available.
The other thing that you could do that’s really cheap, especially if these are windows that you’re not going to have to open – we don’t like to recommend this for a bedroom window but for other windows because, of course, in a bedroom, you may have to open it for emergency egress, fire hazard, that sort of thing – is you can get a weather-stripping caulk. It’s a weather-stripping product that’s in a tube, like a caulk tube.
And you, essentially, caulk the seams of the window shut. And the thing about the weather-stripping product is in the spring, you peel it off and it doesn’t damage the windows. It looks like that sort of white, gooey stuff that they stick credit cards to offers in the mail when you get the credit card and it’s on the back of the card? It’s like that rubbery stuff? It just peels right off and it doesn’t damage anything.
So, that’s something that maybe you haven’t tried yet; you could give it a shot. And then, of course, if you want to go with maybe a more permanent solution, you could order interior storm windows and have them made.
TRACY: Well, I could squirt that stuff on there and then in the spring, I could peel it back off?
TOM: That’s correct. Yep. Unlike regular caulk, this is a temporary caulk.
TRACY: Wonderful. That sounds wonderful. I will give that a try.
TOM: Yeah, DAP makes a product called Seal ‘N Peel – the letter N, Peel. So, look it up. You might have to order it in a home center or a hardware store but it works great.
TRACY: Alright. I will try that. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Joyce in Illinois who’s having a flooring issue. Tell us what’s going on.
JOYCE: Well, a few years ago, I put down a new kitchen floor – Congoleum DuraCeramic kitchen floor. And it has all these marks and things on it that I had a guy come out and look at it and he said it was a problem from the factory. And I thought they were going to replace it and they never did replace it for me. And I was just wondering, what do I put down? I have home day care and I was wondering what I could put down to stand up to my home day care and still look nice?
TOM: Laminate works really well and it’s gotten less expensive. It’s easier to install.
Laminate floor is – can look like vinyl, it can look like stone, it can look like wood. It can look like anything. And it’s basically made of a medium-density fiberboard and then a color layer, which has the pattern of the stone or whatever it is on it. And then the laminate is on top of that. So, basically, it’s a sandwich.
And while people are comparing – would compare laminates to, say, a laminate countertop, like a Formica, a laminate floor is actually about 100 times more durable because they put more protection on it. Yeah, I’ve had a laminate floor down in my house, which is a very old house, for about 10 years. And it looks as good as the day we put it down, so I know it stands up well.
JOYCE: Well, I know I have day care and the kids are throwing toys around and everything else.
TOM: Sure. Absolutely.
TOM: Kids, dogs, toys, furniture. Yeah, I would take a look at laminate. It’s tough stuff and easy to clean.
JOYCE: OK. OK.
TOM: Alright, Joyce? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, kitchen backsplashes – you know, the panels that kind of sit above your sink and the stove? And they do a great job of protecting your walls from splashes and food and just general kitchen mess. And they’ve been around, truly, as long as there has been a kitchen. But in the last decade, we’ve seen a leap in unique patterns and designs, with the most popular being tile backsplashes. And tile is totally a DIY project to install and a really affordable way that you can bring out new style and have a lot of fun with the design in your kitchen.
TOM: Now, the first step is to select the type of tile you’d like to use. The most common options would be to choose ceramic or porcelain tiles, which are probably the best option because they’re super easy to clean. But some folks really love natural stone. If you love natural stone, though, you’d better love a lot of maintenance because they’re prone to chipping, they’re harder to clean. They need to be resealed at least once a year because they absorb grease and they show grease spots which, once they get in there, they’re almost impossible to get out.
Now, the other decision is whether or not you want to use individual tiles or mesh-backed sheets, where the tiles are sort of preassembled. Now, the mesh-backed sheets contain a few dozen tiles, which makes it easy for installation. But these can definitely limit your design options.
LESLIE: Now, speaking of design, you’ve got to think about what you want that design to accomplish. So, are you trying to create a focal point? If you’re going to use the most expensive tile, then consider making that the focal point. You can use it only in one space, like maybe over the stove. Or if you’re going to use standard tile, you can use that everywhere else.
So you kind of get the best of both worlds. You spend a little bit of money, you create a focal point and you cover everything else with a stone that’s more affordable. And that’s really going to increase how that kitchen looks. And you’re design, it’s going to be great.
Now, you can also mix and match but you’ve got to keep the counter color and material in mind, because you want to make sure that they all kind of work together and work together nicely. And then, you can visually enlarge your space. If you use a tile backsplash around the entire room, you can actually help to make a smaller kitchen feel much larger, much taller. I mean it really depends on where exactly you’re placing this backsplash. And you can do a full wall of it, above a counter, to the ceiling. And that does wonders of making the space feel bigger and brighter.
Now, the other thing you can think about, if you have a traditional tile, go ahead and put it on a different angle. Maybe lay it diagonally. Maybe do a herringbone pattern, offset it. Whatever it is, you can take something that’s kind of plain and really elevate it to the next design level.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about how you’re actually going to get that tile to stick to the wall: adhesives. The most basic type of tile adhesive is what’s called a “mastic.” And it can be organic or polymer-based. And it’s really good for vertical surfaces because when you place a tile on the wall, you want it to stay there and not to move around.
There is one other option, though, that’s actually easier and less messy. And that is a double-sided adhesive mat. This has become more popular these days. Basically, it’s a mat, just like the description, but it’s glued on both sides. So you peel off one side, you stick it to the wall and then you peel off the other side. And then once you place the tiles – the individual tiles or the tile mats – on that adhesive, it sticks immediately. Now, the big advantage is you don’t have to wait for the glue to dry; you can start grouting right away. But it’s a little more difficult to take tile off if they’re not positioned right, so just be careful when you do it.
And there’s no shame in using tile spacers, right? I think a lot of folks are – think it’s like, “Well, I don’t need a spacer. I can do it on my own.” No, trust me, you can’t. Use those little tile spacers. They are very easy to use and they really make it look nice when all the seams are uniform.
LESLIE: So there you go. It’s not that difficult, right? Give yourself a weekend. Take some time. Make sure you wash your hands a lot, because you don’t want to end up with the grout and the mastic all over yourself after doing this project. But it’s definitely a fun project that you can tackle and make a space totally your own and be really proud of.
This is a great time of year to add to your tool arsenal. But if you’ve held off on buying battery-powered tools because you simply just don’t think they’re going to work as well as those that are gas-powered, we have got a giveaway today that’s going to change your mind. Because it is a great example of how this technology has actually come.
TOM: Yep. We are giving away the Green Machine 62-Volt Brushless Chainsaw with a 16-inch Oregon bar and chain.
Now, what is great about these battery-powered saws, they are incredibly strong and they are quiet and they are easy to start. So you’re not like – feel like you’re going to rip your shoulder out of the socket pulling the pull cord. You just squeeze the trigger. No cords whatsoever.
There’s zero gas, so that means it doesn’t smell. No harmful fumes. And that battery? Combined with a brushless motor, it’s got plenty of available power and longer run time.
You’ll find it exclusively at The Home Depot. Retails for $289 but we’ve got one to give away on today’s show.
LESLIE: And you know what, guys? This saw runs for 45 minutes, so you’ll probably run out of juice before it does.
TOM: That Green Machine 62-Volt Brushless Chainsaw is going out to one listener drawn at random. So, call us with your questions, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post them to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Sharon in Tennessee is on the line and has some questions about tankless water heating. How can we help you?
SHARON: Just my husband and I. We’re in a house that the tank is probably – the one we have is probably 11– 10, 11 years old. But we find that in the bathroom – the master bathroom, which is at the far side of the house from us – you have to run the water 5 or 10 minutes before it gets hot. And we’ve heard good things about those, so I thought, well, what do you guys know about them? Because I don’t know if they’ve been out long enough to “work all the bugs out of them.” Are they a good investment? Are they good economically?
TOM: Yes, yes and yes. So they have been out for a long time; longer than you might think. I’d say probably 10 to 15 years.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. Definitely.
TOM: But the thing is, you don’t really have a need to replace your water heater near that often, so it – sometimes folks are still not familiar with them.
However, one complaint that I heard you mention was that it takes a long time for your water to get hot. That may not change and here’s why: because the time it takes your water to get hot is more a function of the distance between the water heater and the plumbing fixture that you’re standing at waiting for the water to get there.
TOM: It just takes so many minutes for that amount of water to pass through the pipes and show up as hot on the other side. Whether that’s a tank water heater or a tankless water heater is not going to change that. It’s still going to take longer to get – just the same amount of time to get there, alright?
TOM: So, that’s not going to change. What will change, though, is you will have an unlimited supply of hot water. Because tankless water heaters, pretty much, when they’re sized right never, ever run out of hot water. And it’s going to be a very efficient way for you to get hot water.
I should have asked you this earlier but are you on gas – natural gas?
TOM: OK. Yeah, then you’re OK. If you were on electric, we’d be having a different conversation. Because electric tankless water heaters are not efficient at all. But gas is perfect.
SHARON: Good. OK. Well, something for us to give some second thought to and then get some quotes maybe.
TOM: Now, there is also an option that Rheem has right now, where you can actually add a bypass valve at that farthest bathroom fixture from your water heater. And what that will do is it will recirculate warm water through the pipes, based on a timer or based on your use pattern. So, with that addition, you may not be waiting at all for hot water. So that’s another option, as well.
SHARON: Hmm. OK. Well, that sounds pretty good. There’s some good suggestions there that I can look into then. We’re looking at doing some things to the house and I – that was the first thing I thought of.
TOM: Alright. Terrific. Well, thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
SHARON: Thank you.
TOM: Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, which means millions of Americans are planning light displays, big and small. But if instead of blinking lights, you discover holiday-light repairs are needed, we’ve got five fast and easy ways to spruce things up.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, guys, you’ve got to inspect your string of lights. You want to do this before you put them up. Because once you put up the string of lights and you notice that half of them aren’t working, it’s going to be a giant paint in the you-know-what to figure out what is going on with it.
So, first of all, all of those lights should be bearing the UL or the Underwriters Laboratories Seal of Approval. And you’ve got to check. They should be free of cracked lights; exposed sockets; worn or frayed wires; loose, damaged plugs. Check everything out before you give them a go.
TOM: And even if they do look good, you want to test the string. Be sure. Because you don’t want to put them up and then find out they don’t work at that point. And sometimes, extreme temperatures and movement could have damaged the lights in the year since you used them last.
I often have found that they worked perfectly when I put them away but then if I left them, say, in the garage or an attic all winter long or all summer long, then they’re somehow not working when I take them back out again. So I always check them before I put them up.
LESLIE: Yeah. I feel like that’s always the situation, especially with the lights I put up for the Halloween season. Every time, I’m like, “Darn, where do I go find more purple lights?” Because they just never seem to make it through the packing season.
Now, if you see that the light string isn’t working, you want to unplug it and you want to check each bulb. I know it sounds terrible but check each bulb. Grab each one, give it a little jiggle, see if it’s loose. You can do this by gently pressing each bulb into the socket. Now, even though most lights are designed to work if one bulb goes out, they truly won’t work if a bulb is unplugged. And once you’ve tightened the loose bulbs, you can plug that string back in.
TOM: Now, if you still don’t have any luck, unplug it and check the fuse, which is usually built into the plug. If the fuse isn’t burned out, it is time to replace it. The good news is that almost all new holiday lighting today is LED. The prices have come way down and they’re much more efficient and they’re much brighter at the same time.
LESLIE: Jan reached out and she said, “Today, during a heavy rainfall, I discovered a leak – a steady drip of water, actually – coming from the first-floor bathroom ceiling. It only lasted about 20 minutes despite the fact that the rain continued for another hour. I thought this was unusual. Any advice for figuring out how the rain made its way to the first floor of our two-story home?”
TOM: It hitchhiked, basically.
What happens with that kind of leak – and it’s very common – is that above bathrooms, you’re going to have a vent pipe. That’s that usually 3-inch-diameter pipe that comes through the ceiling. And the flashing around that is a rubber sort of gasket or we call it a “boot.” And those boots will crack and dry out over time and have to be replaced.
The reason that it only happened for part of the storm and not the other is usually because of wind pressure. So you get wind-driven rain that happens to hit it in a particular direction and drives the rain in around that boot. And then it follows that pipe, because it’ll just hold onto the pipe through the principles of surface tension, essentially. And it will hug that pipe and then drip down and come out, in this case, showing itself at the first-floor bathroom ceiling.
So you have two things you have to do. Number one, you’re going to have to get a handyman or a roofer to examine that boot around that pipe and replace it. It’s not a big project. Pretty small one. Don’t let a roofer talk you into a whole, new roof. This is a repair, not a replacement of the entire roof.
And secondly, you’re going to have to – if the ceiling is not deformed because of the leak, it didn’t swell, then what you want to do is prime the area where the leak came through. Use a good-quality primer and then put topcoat over that. If you just try to paint it without priming it, the stains will pull through. So you’ve got to spot-prime it first and then it’ll look as good as new.
LESLIE: Now, Karen has written in and wants to know: “What’s the best type of laminate flooring for a bathroom?” “I hear there’s different grades,” she’s asking.
TOM: Well, there actually are quite a few different types of flooring that are available to you right now, in addition to laminate flooring. So, you can go with laminate and there are types of laminates that are better for bathrooms. They have – I know that LL Flooring has one called AquaSeal technology, which basically means that the seams kind of lock together. And it’s much more water-resistant for a space like that.
But I think if it was me and given the advanced developments of engineered vinyl plank and luxury vinyl plank and a new type of flooring that’s called a “hybrid,” these floors are 100-percent waterproof. So you just can’t kill it, you know? You can soak the stuff in a tub and it won’t swell. It just stays the way it is. I’m also impressed with how they’re able to create patterns that look very realistic.
So with the EVP – the engineered vinyl plank – there’s a vinyl veneer with a rigid PVC core, which makes it pretty easy to install. But the newest one is the hybrid, which is a resilient flooring that’s really, really durable. LL Flooring just came out with one called Duravana. It’s super easy to install.
And I took some of these planks when they sent them to me and I tested them The Money Pit way, Leslie. I slammed them with a hammer five or six times. No dents. I put a fresh sanding disc on my vibrating sander and ran it around the surface and it didn’t wear it whatsoever. Then I kind of ran some keys over it to scratch it. No scratches. So it’s pretty darn good stuff, I’ve got to tell you.
LESLIE: I mean that’s pretty durable, so you know it’s definitely a great choice, especially for a bathroom. Because that’s what you want: you want durability and the ability to stay in water when it happens.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you for spending part of your day with us. We hope that we’ve given you a few tips and ideas to help you tackle projects you want to get done around your house, big and small. If you’ve got questions and weren’t able to get through on today’s show, you can reach us, 24/7, by dialing 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Until then, 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.)