- Most kitchen renos are expensive. But there’s actually a lot you can do yourself over a single weekend that can deliver a big impact without a big budget. We share a checklist of low-cost kitchen remodeling projects that deliver the biggest impact.
- If your patio is worn, weathered or even cracked, we’ll share how to do a makeover using a new type of paver brick designed for remodeling that any DIY’r can accomplish in just a couple of hours.
- The hottest part of the summer always brings out the most bugs – including disease-carrying tics! We’ll explain the best ways to stop ticks from taking a bite out of your summer fun.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Tom wants to know to clean and paint a pocket door.
- Marianne wants to know if her floor tile might possibly contain asbestos.
- Steve is dealing with a leaky water heater. We share a new technology in water heaters that include a water heater that automatic shut offs if a leak is detected.
- Elanor wants to know how best to remove algae and clean Trex decking.
- Gordon needs a solution to stop leaks getting into his garage.
- Beverly wants to know the best way to repair and repaint rotted wood posts.
- Mike has spotted some cracked roof shingles and wants to know if it’s time to replace the entire roof.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here for one reason and one reason only: to help you guys take on the projects you want to get done around your house. Whether fix-up projects, whether big renovation projects, remodeling projects, you’re working on a new kitchen or bath or maybe you’ve got a décor challenge to tackle, you want to spruce up your outdoor room while it’s still warm and beautiful out, we would love to help you get all of those things done. Give us a call, right now, with your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT or post them to MoneyPit.com.
Hey, coming up on today’s show, if you’ve been thinking about updating your kitchen but you’re concerned about the costs, we’re going to have some tips on affordable updates that you can do – literally, over a single weekend – that can totally transform that space without the hassles of high prices.
LESLIE: And if you enjoy spending time outside but maybe you’re feeling like your patio needs a pick-me-up, we’ve got a great solution for those worn, weathered or even cracked patios out there that’s as easy to do as stacking blocks.
TOM: And the hottest part of the summer always brings out the most bugs, including those nasty, disease-carrying ticks. So we’re going to teach you how to stop those ticks from taking a bite out of your summer fun.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear from you. You need some help with a renovation, maybe a repair or even a décor project? We’re here to help. We want you to have the best home ever, so give us a call.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who needs help first?
LESLIE: We’ve got Tom from Florida on the line who needs help with a pocket-door project. What’s going on?
TOM FROM FLORIDA: Yeah, I bought a house and before they sold it, they must have had it repainted. And it was built in 1994. And the baseboards and the doors must have been oil-based paint, because the walls are fine but the paint is peeling off the doors and the baseboard. But I’ve got a pocket door and I can get the paint off of it but one of the wheels fell off that holds it – slides it on a rail.
TOM: Oh, boy.
TOM FROM FLORIDA: And I don’t know if I have to take the casing off to get that door out. Or is there a way that they lift out? Or do I have to take the casing off to get the door out to clean it up and repaint it and put the wheel back on? Because once it’s closed, there’s another – there’s about an inch or inch-and-a-half of it that still isn’t exposed. You can’t really swing it out.
TOM: You can’t lift it up off the track, either, generally speaking. So, no, I think that you’re probably going to have to take off at least the jamb on the side of the pocket, so to speak. So you’ll have to pull the trim and the jamb on that pocket.
And I’ll give you a trick of the trade to do that because you mentioned this was painted. What you want to do is take a utility knife and you want to cut the seam between the door and the trim and the wall and the trim. Because sometimes, the paint will act as an adhesive, almost like a glue. And when you start taking it apart, it starts to pull different pieces of the frame or the wall with it. So just run a knife through it before you actually peel it off.
Now, in terms of the fact that this is peeling paint, generally when that happens, you’ve lost the adhesion here between the substrate – which is wood, in your case – and the paint itself. And nothing that you can do its going to repair that, short of pulling the rest of the paint off. So you’re going to have to strip that paint off and sand the area really good.
And then what I want you to use is an oil-based or solvent-based primer on top of that, because that’s going to give you the best adhesion once again. That’s going to stick to the wood as best possible. And then on top of that, you could use a water-based semigloss finish. But if you get the primer right and you get all the old stuff off, you’ll be in good shape. Because you can’t put good paint over bad paint. And if paint’s peeling, you’ve got to get rid of all that loose stuff before you proceed or you’ll just find yourself in this exact same space in the not-too-distant future.
TOM FROM FLORIDA: I wasn’t quite sure what paint was on there but I guess I was told if you take alcohol and rub it on a cloth, if it comes off, it’s a water-based paint and if it’s oil, it won’t affect it or vice versa.
TOM: It’s probably not oil-based because that house at that age, you wouldn’t really use oil-based for that. I can almost guarantee you they didn’t prime it and that’s why it didn’t stick. You’ve got to prime it. Can’t skip that step.
Tom, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Maryann in Tennessee is on the line and has some concerns about asbestos. Tell us what’s going on.
MARYANN: Working on an older house. It was built in 1937. I know that there – I was told that there were concerns with maybe the linoleum that’s on the floor. There’s just a little bit in the kitchen and in the bathroom. And before I took it up, I didn’t know whether I needed to check it for asbestos, if there were any other places I needed to check, as well.
TOM: So this is old linoleum? We aren’t talking about tile here? It’s sheet linoleum?
TOM: I’ve not heard that sheet linoleum contains asbestos. I’m not going to say it’s impossible. It’s more a tile.
LESLIE: And it’s a 9×9 tile and it’s always in very specific colors, that you’ll know when you see it that that’s an asbestos tile. They don’t make a 9×9 anymore. This is it.
TOM: Yeah. The only way to really know for sure is to have it tested but linoleum is generally not something that’s associated with asbestos. And even if it did, it would be contained inside of a binder, which makes it less likely to be removed – well, to be exposed to the air.
Now, once you take that up, though, you also don’t know what’s underneath it. You could be revealing some other tile, like that 9×9 that Leslie was talking about. But that said, it generally is a good idea to pull up old floors before you put down new ones. So, hope that helps you out.
MARYANN: OK. Is there any place else I need to be concerned about on the asbestos?
LESLIE: Well, you would generally find it wrapping water pipes. And it looks almost like an old-fashioned cast. You can see it’s a flaky substance that’s wrapped with almost like a plaster of Paris. And you’ll know that, also, when you see it.
LESLIE: And that’s asbestos. And while that has very low levels, I would not tackle it myself. You should get a pro, always, to do it if you see it.
MARYANN: Alright. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
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Now we’re heading over to Tennessee where Steve wants to talk about water heating. How can we help you?
STEVE: My water heater seems to be going out. It’s about 5 or 6 years old. And I’ve been hearing commercials on your show about tankless water heaters and other forms of water-heating solutions. And I was just wondering, is that costly? Or is that a better way to go than putting another tank in?
TOM: OK. So you say the water heater is going out. Is this a gas water heater?
STEVE: It’s electric.
TOM: It’s electric? And it’s going out. So what’s happening to it?
STEVE: It’s leaking.
TOM: Oh, it’s leaking at 5 or 6 years? Really? That’s just plain bad luck, Steve.
STEVE: Yeah, I know.
TOM: Sorry. Well, let me ask you this question: how long are you planning on staying in your current house? Is this the house for a while?
STEVE: Oh, yeah, it’s forever house, hopefully.
TOM: Generally, I would say I wouldn’t hesitate to install a tankless water heater, except – and this is a big except – tankless water heaters that are powered by electricity don’t work that well. They don’t save you that much money. If you have the ability to power it with propane, for example, then it’s more realistic. But if you’re planning on powering it with electricity, then it’s not.
So in that case, your options are to replace it with a standard, tanked electric water heater or you can use a real new type of electrical water heater called a “heat-pump water heater.” Heat-pump water heaters are more expensive but they’re much, much, much more efficient than a standard electric water heater.
STEVE: Are those costly?
TOM: Yeah, they’re more costly than a standard water heater. Yeah, you’re probably looking at maybe around 1,500 bucks for one, plus installation. So they’re much more expensive but they’re far more efficient.
STEVE: That’s what I’ll do then. I thank you for answering my question.
TOM: Sorry to hear about that leak and hopefully, we’ve helped you get back on track.
LESLIE: Well, if the home is where the heart is, then kitchens are clearly one of the most vital organs that converts a house into a home. So it’s really no surprise that kitchen renovations are among the most popular remodeling projects tackled every single year. But while any home improvement project can be complicated, major kitchen remodeling can turn your life completely upside-down, not to mention all of the fast-food pounds that you are most likely going to be putting on while you’re waiting for that kitchen to welcome you back in.
TOM: Yeah. Like which pizza place am I going to tonight or …?
LESLIE: Well, you’ve got to try them all.
TOM: Yeah, try them all.
LESLIE: And you’ve got to try all the food places. Every place.
TOM: Exactly. What fast-food cuisine shall I turn to until I get my oven back?
LESLIE: And you’ll be eating them for months and months.
TOM: Oh, yeah. Exactly. It’s not just one, yeah.
LESLIE: No, no, no.
TOM: Yeah, because you usually get a couple of meals out of each one.
Well, listen, if you want to avoid all of those home improvement hassles of the long-term reno projects, what we suggest is that you break it down into projects that we call “modules”: basically, projects that can be completed independently of one another. Because not only does this make the project more manageable, the smaller changes can actually have a pretty big visual impact and cut down on the need for those more major makeovers that really set you back in time and put on the pounds of eating all that fast food.
LESLIE: Yeah. For example, changing out your kitchen countertop, painting the cabinets or just replacing all of that cabinet hardware, these are projects that you can do in hours and not weeks. And the result can be a very attractive and totally transformative experience. I mean you can really change the look of the space.
TOM: Yeah. And likewise, just replacing the kitchen floor or improving the kitchen lighting or just painting the room can give you a fresh, new look. And if you want to make it more efficient at the same time, why not replace the faucets with water-efficient faucets? Look for those that are WaterSense models. And with appliances, same deal: if you’re going to trade them out, look for ENERGY-STAR certified products. The can lower utilities across the board.
So, if you think about it, most of the time you think, “Kitchen reno. I’ve got to go down to the studs.” Oh, you really don’t. If you just take it one chunk at a time, if you just do one section at a time, if you don’t want to renovate the whole thing, spend a weekend, replace a countertop, paint the cabinets, change the hardware, improve the appliances and you’ll make a big impact. And you do that a couple of times, you’ll save yourself a boatload of cash.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Eleanor in Virginia on the line with a decking question. How can we help you today?
ELEANOR: The question I have is we have Trex Decking on our – for our deck, which is – and also the porch – screened-in porch. But on the deck – which is not covered by any roof or anything like that; it’s all open to the environment – we have spots on that, which are – it’s a gray-colored decking. And we have these dark spots all over it. Almost kind of looks like a mold. And we do not know what it’s caused by.
My husband has tried to use a power washer with the soap that is recommended for that power washer. Also bleach with a scrub brush. He has – he can get it lightened but not totally gone. And we’re wondering if there’s – if you’ve ever heard of that with Trex Decking and have any suggestions.
TOM: Yeah. Some of the composite materials out there do have some wood-fiber component and they will grow algae, which is most likely what you’re seeing.
Now, one of the treatments that we would recommend is a product called JOMAX – J-O-M-A-X. And JOMAX actually has a deck wash. And JOMAX is a detergent that also gets mixed with bleach, gets applied to the deck. You let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then you scrub it off. I would be very careful with the power washer except for just rinsing purposes, because too much pressure can actually ruin that deck.
Now, another possibility is that those black spots are what’s called “artillery fungus.” They kind of look like a shotgun kind of a pellet size. Artillery fungus is particularly difficult to get off. And one of the sources of it is mulch. Do you have mulch around your house or around your yard?
TOM: Well, sometimes, the mulch that’s sort of the ground much – the shredded-bark mulch – will contain artillery fungus. And once that gets out and attaches to surfaces, like decks or sometimes even cars, it’s really, really difficult to get rid of it. So, if that is what’s going on, we would recommend that you don’t do that again. Don’t put the shredded mulch back on. Only use the bark mulch that’s in pieces. That seems to not have the issue. It’s the shredded mulch that attracts and contains artillery fungus.
I would try the JOMAX Deck Wash and Cleaner. I think you’ll have better success with that than you did with straight bleach, OK?
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading out to Minnesota where Gordon has a question about garage moisture. What’s going on, Gordon?
GORDON: I’m in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I’ve got a two-stall garage. It’s divided. It’s a tuck-under garage. The house is a walk-out, so the back side of the garage is below-grade and it kind – it ramps up from the front to the back.
In the springtime, for a couple – first couple of months in the spring, the garage floor is wet and it’s – I believe that it’s wicking up or coming up from under the floor. I don’t believe it’s just condensation forming on the top.
My question is: is there any kind of a sealer or anything that I can do, short of knocking out the whole floor? I know that now you should have a moisture barrier, some kind of poly under the floor before you pour it, if you wanted to put an epoxy coat or something on there.
TOM: There’s two ways to address a moisture problem in a concrete structure like that. One is to try to make it float, which is not going to happen. And by that, I mean when you put all sorts of sealers and caulks and so on, on these floors or on the walls, yeah, you’re never going to block out 100 percent of that moisture.
But the more effective thing to do is to reduce the volume of moisture that’s getting there to begin with. And I think I can explain why you’re seeing that moisture on the floor in the spring. Because concrete is very hydroscopic; it’s like a sponge. Imagine if you stuck the end of a sponge in some water, how quickly that entire sponge fills up with moisture. That’s what happens with concrete.
So the first thing I want you to address is the sources of moisture. And they’re very likely to be the spring rains and the drainage control at the foundation perimeter. It happens to almost everybody. So, the walls that surround that below-grade space, we want to make sure that there’s gutters on that covering that side of the roof that are not only there, they’re sized properly, which means you have at least 1 downspout for every 600 to 800 square feet of roof surface and that the downspouts are extended well away from the foundation. We’re talking 4 to 6 feet.
The second thing to do is to make sure that the soil slopes away and there’s nothing trapping moisture against the house, like landscaping. If you do those two things, you will dramatically reduce the amount of moisture that’s getting up against that concrete. And that will stop the moisture that’s – from pulling up onto the floor and perhaps even through the walls.
Now, as for a sealant, what I would recommend you do, because this is a garage floor, is to simply paint it with an epoxy paint.
These epoxy finishes now are terrific. They’re pretty easy to use. They’re a two-part mix. Usually, when you buy the epoxy kit, you’ll have a gallon that’s about three-quarters filled with product and then a quart can that’s the hardener. You mix the two together and you basically paint the floor. And sometimes, there’s color chips that you can drop in the paint that help hide dirt. And when it dries, it’s a chemical reaction that’s really hard and it really adheres well to the floor. And I think that will stop some of the residual moisture that’s left.
But try to control as much moisture as you can before you take that step. And between the two, I think you’ll be good to go.
GORDON: OK, yeah. That’s kind of what I was thinking.
As far as that epoxy, everything that I’ve seen says to not apply it to a floor that gets damp. There’s a plastic test and you tape a piece of plastic down and if moisture forms …
TOM: Yeah. Personally, I think that’s a really silly test but people seem to like it.
Look, all concrete floors are going to contain some level of moisture. As long as it’s not excessively wet, then I think you’ll be OK. Now, there usually is an etching material, like an etching wash, that you use first. So I would do that, just to make sure the floor is ready to accept it. But if you pick a nice, dry day, I think you’ll be fine.
GORDON: OK. Well, I thank you for the insight. Appreciate your time.
TOM: Well, as we are spending more time outdoors, you may be thinking it’s time to update your patio. If it looks a little worn, a little cracked, a little weathered, we have got a great solution for you that is easier and more affordable than you might think. Chris Clare is with Pavestone and joins us now to talk about the Milano System.
CHRIS: Hey, how are you, Tom? Good to see you.
TOM: I love this system. So, for those that are not familiar, Milano is a paver brick but not a full-thickness one. It’s about half-thickness, I would say, and it’s designed to go on top of your old, nasty, dirty, cracked patio and leave it looking spectacular. Is that about right?
CHRIS: That is. Yes, it’s 30 millimeters thick, so just over an inch thick. It’s a multipiece pattern. When you see it, you’ve got three different sizes on there. It’s a good way to just take an old, weathered, cracked concrete and just freshen it up, give it a much more rich appearance than what you typically see on just a plain, gray, old, cracked-up concrete.
TOM: Now, generally, when you do a paver project – and we harp on this because people get it wrong all the time – you’ve got to dig out the grade, you’ve got to put crushed gravel in, you’ve got to tamp, tamp, tamp so it’s really rock-solid – almost like a roadbed – and then put the pavers on top of it.
The nice thing about Milano is you’re avoiding all of that work and all of the failures of paver-brick systems when people don’t do the work and they get weeds and stuff that come up through it. Milano just goes right on top of the old patio, so there is no real prep beyond that, is there?
CHRIS: No. No prep at all, hardly. It has got to be one of the easiest systems that we offer at Pavestone. I can tell you that I’ve got a friend whose wife did – while he was out of town did a 100-square-foot patio. Knocked it out in 2 hours, overlaying their existing concrete pad. Took 2 hours. They told me they had somewhere around $250, between the pavers, the sand, adhesive. You know, you’ll typically use the adhesive to bond the pavers to existing concrete around the edge. Kind of gives you a horizontal lot that keeps the pavers from shifting side to side.
But $250 – I mean she turned an old, beat-up concrete into their brand-new deck where she spends time with – she puts a fire pit out there, spends time with her family, that sort of thing. So it’s now a focal point of their backyard.
TOM: That’s awesome. So, basically, with the adhesive, you’re only gluing the outside sort of couple of rows and that is what sort of locks the whole thing in so you don’t get any of these Milano pavers that sort of slip off the edge of the old patio. Is that right?
CHRIS: Correct. Yeah, with any paver system, you’re trying to get a horizontal, a rotational and a vertical lock. By having that concrete underneath, it gives you a really good subbase and that’s your vertical lock. The horizontal lock comes from doing the adhesive around the edge of the concrete and locking that edge restraint, if you will, onto the concrete. It keeps the pavers from shifting back and forth. And then you get your rotational lock from whatever pattern you decide to choose.
So, being that the Milano is a three-piece system that’s all rectangular and squares, you can do a one-piece pattern, a two-piece pattern, three-piece pattern. You can do a running bond, you can keep it random. There’s so much you can do with it. You can do a parquet pattern 2×2 with a smaller brick size. There’s just a lot of options that you can do with this Milano.
TOM: Yeah. And I guess you could pick up the Milano and try a couple of different patterns out right on top of your old slab there until you find one that really talks to you. And then you’re just kind of good to go. You just run with it from there, correct?
CHRIS: Absolutely. It’s a beautiful product that comes in blended colors. It kind of has a micro-chamfer edge. Kind of gives it that worn, weathered look. Has a rolled-slate texture over the top.
The weathered flagstone has been such a trending item for the last couple years. This is kind of a cut, weathered flagstone, if you will. Just beautiful.
TOM: Now, once they’re all in, you have to use traditional paver sand between the joints. Is that correct? So you just sprinkle that on, sweep it in and then you’re pretty much good to go?
CHRIS: Yep. Yep, that’s it. So concrete, by nature, is not going to always be level. So, I do recommend putting a little bit of sand underneath the pavers, just leveling out your low spots in the concrete.
So once you’ve leveled out the low spots in the concrete and you’ve put your band around the outside using adhesive and banded with your Milano on the exterior, after that it’s – you’re just laying and going. And then you take your sand, fill in the joints – that’ll help with your rotational lock – and you’re good to go.
TOM: What a great weekend project. With just a couple of days’ work, you can totally transform your old, cracked and weathered patio. Set up the fire pit, bring out the dining chairs and you are good to go.
TOM: Chris Clare, the national account manager with Pavestone.
Thanks so much, Chris, for stopping by and bringing us up to speed on Milano. What a great system.
CHRIS: Absolutely. I appreciate you having me.
LESLIE: Beverly in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BEVERLY: Well, I have a house that’s just been built a year-and-a-half ago but I have a covered patio. And my builder put cedar posts out there. The rest of my trim is all white. So I wanted to cover or paint the cedar but he’s telling me I can’t do it because I’ll rot them out. And I – that doesn’t sound right to me but I’m not sure.
TOM: So, what would you – in a perfect world, Beverly, what would you like to see on those cedar posts? Would you like them to be white and match the rest of the house?
BEVERLY: Yeah. All of my trim is white and so I would rather them be white. They’re a year-and-a-half old now, so they’re starting to turn the cedar look and get all dark.
TOM: Right. Are they kind of decorative?
TOM: OK. See, here’s what I would do. The first thing I would – I’m going to recommend a staining process. So, the first thing you’re going to do is prime them with an oil-based primer or a solvent-based primer. And then you’re going to stain them and I would use a solid-color stain. And a solid-color stain is not going to look like paint, so it won’t tend to peel; it’ll fade over time. But it’ll soak in really nicely. And you can get a white stain – a solid-white stain – and it’ll look quite attractive.
Painting wood does not cause it to rot; it prevents it from rotting.
LESLIE: It just requires a lot of repainting.
BEVERLY: Yeah. He said if I covered it or painted them, that it causes the moisture to pull to the base and then they rot.
TOM: I would disagree with that. I think if you stain them, you’ll find that they’re quite attractive and that the moisture will wick in and out just fine.
BEVERLY: Good. Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.
TOM: Good luck with that project. You’re very welcome.
Well, we are in what is traditionally the hottest part of the summer and it’s also the most active time of year for many types of insects, including ticks. That’s why it’s really important to take steps to make sure those ticks don’t ruin your summer fun.
We went for a hike recently and wherever you saw the branches of the overgrown grass leaning into the trail a little bit, man, there were ticks on the end of it – just waiting to jump on whenever you walk by.
LESLIE: And you could see them?
TOM: You could see them. And yeah – and it’s not good. So we have to be really careful.
LESLIE: Yeah. You do need to be careful because ticks and the Lyme disease that they carry, I mean they’re major threats to your health. So you’ve got to be smart about protecting yourself and your family whenever you go outside.
Now, always, you should wear long sleeves, you should tuck your pant cuffs into your boots or your socks. And when you can, choose lighter colors, because that’s going to make it a lot easier for you to spot the ticks on you.
And then you’ve got to layer on the insect repellant that’s designed to be applied to both your skin and your clothing. They’re two very different – and you do have to look at the packaging to make sure you’ve got the right one.
TOM: Yeah. And whenever you’re outdoors, try to stay at the center of those hiking paths. And when you’re done, when you’re home, make sure you inspect yourself and your kids for any ticks that may have hitchhiked their way back to your house. If you get rid of them quickly, you’ll be doing it before the bites happen and you’ll be totally safe as a result.
LESLIE: Yeah. And save the tick. I’ve learned this many times. Usually, I peel them off the kids and then stomp them immediately and we’re done. But the pediatrician always said, “Bring the tick in in a bag.” Just so that they can take a look and sort of rule out …
TOM: Did they want to test it?
LESLIE: Yeah, they would test it. They can look at it, they can tell you what kind of tick it is.
TOM: How about that?
LESLIE: So it’s good to try to do that when you can.
TOM: But it’s not as much fun as crushing them, though.
LESLIE: No. Because it’s really satisfying.
TOM: Because they’re ticks.
LESLIE: You’re like, “You jerk, ticks. You attacked my children.” Stomp, stomp. But no. Put it in a bag.
Alright. Heading out to Kansas where Mike is on the line. What can we do for you today?
MIKE: Hi. My girlfriend and I purchased a house about 3 years ago. And when we did, we had it inspected, naturally. And the inspectors told us that our roof was in pretty good condition. It only had one layer. And the previous homeowner said that it was about 7 years old.
This year, we’ve been having some leaking issues. And our – we had our insurance inspector come out and inspect it and he said that, really, there was not a whole lot we could do, that it was just a minor leak. And he put some caulk on it and that it would be OK. That was about 3, maybe 4 months ago. And then a couple weeks ago, we’ve been getting all this rain and there – the leak is happening again.
So I went up there and kind of looked around and I found what I believe is the source of the leak.
MIKE: And I noticed (audio gap) kind of odd. Where the water is pooling up at, there’s a bunch of little, green granules. I’m imagining that’s from the previous set of shingles, because the shingles we have on there now are gray. So I’m not sure if our inspector was wrong and we’ve actually got more than one layer up there or what the reason for those granules being there would be and if that’s something that we could actually bring to our insurance adjuster and say, “Hey, there is something seriously wrong here.”
TOM: Well, the insurance adjuster is not going to help you with a defect in the construction of the house. If you have a leak that’s caused by a storm, that’s something the insurance adjuster can help you with, because that’s covered by your homeowners insurance.
You have a pitched roof with asphalt shingles?
TOM: And the area where it leaks, are you near any intersections of anything with that roof? By intersection, does the chimney come through there? Does a pipe come through there? Do two roofs sort of intersect together at opposing angles? Is there a space where the roof matched – meets up with the exterior wall of the house? Anything like that?
MIKE: Yeah. Actually, at the back of the house, toward the kitchen. And I’m not sure if the correct term is “valley,” where the roof kind of comes together and it all drains down (audio gap) gutter is at.
TOM: And is that valley where the contractor applied the “caulk” that you’re calling it?
MIKE: I’m not sure exactly where he applied it. He just said that they did.
TOM: Well, look, if – and how old is the roof?
MIKE: The previous homeowner said it was about 7 years and that was 2 years ago. So now it’s about 9, 10 years old.
TOM: And he said there was one layer?
MIKE: According to the inspectors and the previous homeowner, there is one layer.
TOM: So that means that the old layer was removed and the new layer was put on. It was a fiberglass shingle. And fiberglass shingles that are about 10 years old, some of them have this issue with cracking or checking. And essentially, they develop fractures in them where leaks can occur.
The only way to really see it is to literally be on the roof, looking straight down at it. And if you see it, it’ll be obvious to you. It kind of looks like a fissuring kind of pattern. But clearly, you’ve got a roof leak. Caulking is not the solution, ever. If it’s in the valley, the valley would need to be taken apart and reroofed.
And one way to kind of narrow down where it is – and you may not be the person to do this but a good contractor or a roofer could do this – is to take a garden hose and start wetting the roof down but starting it down low and working your way up.
So, for example, if I thought the valley was leaking, I might let a hose run there for an hour or two and see if I can spot a leak underneath it. But I’d be careful not to put the water up higher than the valley so that if it did leak, I knew exactly where it was happening. Does that make sense?
MIKE: OK. Awesome. Thank you.
LESLIE: Now Janie reached out to us at MoneyPit.com. She wants to help her aunt out, so she writes: “My 92-year-old aunt still lives in her one-story, 1963-built home where the winter temps are 20s and 30s and 90s in the summer. She had radiant heat in the ceilings but it doesn’t work in a couple of the rooms. It’s a 2,400-square-foot house and has a full, unfinished basement. She wants to upgrade the house before she sells it. What is the best heating-and-cooling system for the house?”
This is ambitious for anybody, let alone a 92-year-old lady.
TOM: Yeah. It’s a big project. And you know – I mean I think it’s awesome you’re helping her out. A 1963 house is actually a really good year for houses. Homes do have good years and the homes from the 60s are generally really well-built. The quality of the lumber is awesome. You normally have hardwood floors that were put in by the builders that were very quickly covered with carpet for decades, so they don’t really – haven’t really worn too much, right?
But in terms of the radiant heat, that’s the one thing that is – oh, man, I hate to hear that. Because radiant heat is really, really expensive and if she’s in an area of the country where you’ve got full-blown winters, I’m sure it’s costing her a lot.
But listen, the real-estate market is really hot right now, Janie, so I would not replace that heating system until you check with a real-estate agent. Or you could have a home inspection done for the seller’s purposes, which is your aunt. The home inspector will know what the strengths and weaknesses are of the house and maybe help you make that decision. But I just don’t want to see you put a lot of money in because right now, the market is so crazy hot. People are buying houses and tearing them down, so you may be wasting your money. So I would definitely get some further advice on – from the market perspective.
If you do have to put a system in, go with a high-efficiency heat pump. It’s going to be a lot less expensive than the radiant heat and you can do air conditioning and heating in the same set of ducts.
LESLIE: And listen, Janie, buyers are certainly paying way above asking, even when the house needs a ton of work. So definitely chat with a realtor.
TOM: Well, concrete is a building material we usually think about for heavy projects, like sidewalks or foundations. But it’s actually become a very popular product you can use for some really cool craft projects, too. Leslie shares some ideas, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie, what have you got for us?
LESLIE: Yeah, you know, this comes to us from our friends over at QUIKRETE. Now, they’ve got a bunch of videos on their website with concrete craft projects. And one that I thought was really neat-looking was making concrete vases. And they actually are super easy to do. So now QUIKRETE has the step-by-step right on their site but generally, here’s how the project’s going to work.
First, you’ve got to pick up some QUIKRETE Concrete Countertop Mix. Now, while it’s a high-strength product that’s designed for countertops, it actually works great for casting projects, like making these vases or even pendant lights. And it comes in two colors: gray and white. And it’s designed to flow, which is exactly what you need for this project.
Now, to make the vase, you want to take a plastic bottle and you drill a hole right in the top – it’s got to be big enough to fit a pen, a test tube, some sort of vessel that will contain the water once it’s the vase. So something that’s going to go into the concrete. You’ll put the water in and put your stem in. Really easy-peasy but you’ve got to find the right thing.
Now, then you turn that bottle upside-down and you cut off some of the bottom and then you fill that bottle with the concrete mix. And it’s about 18 to 20 hours for it to cure. Then you want to cut the plastic away from that concrete. At this point, the concrete’s going to be solid but the edges are still going to be soft enough so you can sand out or cut away any of the rough spots or something that just doesn’t seem right.
And what you’re left with is a vase with the shape of the inside of the bottle that you used as a mold. And that tube, that’s what holds the water, that’s what holds the flower or the stem or whatever it is. It’s a great project. The white looks awesome, the grey looks awesome. It’s great left natural. You can paint them whatever you want, you can stain them. They really are gorgeous and it’s super fun to do.
So check out the entire video at QUIKRETE.com and then click on How-To Videos.
TOM: That’s QUIKRETE.com. QUIKRETE, it’s what America is made of. And I guess, if you take on this project, it’s what some beautiful concrete vases are made of, too.
Coming up next time on The Money Pit, drains that clog can be a real hassle of homeownership. They happen always at the least convenient moment, then they can be a real pain in the neck to fix. They may come with the territory but they don’t have to complicated to free up. We’re going to share some tricks of the trade to do just that, 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.
(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.)