TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What are you doing on this fine spring day? We hope it’s maybe doing a project around your house and enjoying yourself. And if you’re not, well, maybe we can help. Give us a call right now. We’d love to solve whatever DIY dilemma you’re faced. Or if it’s a situation where maybe you’re stuck in the middle of a project or you’re not going to do it yourself and you need to get some advice on what to do first, what to do second – “Am I paying too much? Am I not paying enough? What kind of paint should I use? What kind of materials should I buy? Should I use these cabinets? Should I build a deck? Should I build a patio?” I mean there are a million questions out there that kind of bounce around when …
LESLIE: It’s a lot of projects, Tom.
TOM: It’s a lot of projects but it’s the busy time of year. It’s Goldilocks season: it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, it’s perfect for anything going on in your money pit. We’re here to help you get the job done but help yourself first: call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, coming up this hour, water quality is on a lot of folks’ minds right now, especially with communities like Flint, Michigan, having all of these terrible issues. So, it’s important that you know what’s in your drinking water. But how do you do that? We’re going to teach you, in just ahead.
LESLIE: And if you love to cook and you love the outdoors, you might also love to have an outdoor kitchen. We’re going to have tips to help you take on that project, including information on cabinets that are completely waterproof, just ahead.
TOM: Plus, if you are dreading dragging out your gas-powered lawn mower for another season of back-breaking pull-cord starts, fear not because this hour we are giving away an amazing product to one very fortunate home improver. It’s the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Walk-Behind Mower worth 402 bucks.
You know, I’ve actually got this mower, Leslie. It’s fantastic.
LESLIE: Yeah. Do you really like it?
TOM: I do.
LESLIE: Is it super lightweight? Because that’s always the problem I find. Mowers are so heavy, I have a hard time starting them. I end up just hiring somebody.
TOM: No, it’s really lightweight and it’s amazingly powerful. It’s got a push-button start, so it’s completely hassle-free.
It’s available at Lowe’s and Lowes.com but we’ve got one going out to a lucky listener who calls in their home improvement question. So make that you. Get on the phone. Call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Renee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RENEE: My question is concerning my sump pump. Obviously, a sump pump in the basement. And for a long time – for several months, I had not heard the sump pump going on. A few weeks – a few months ago, when it was raining very hard, I went down to the basement to see why the sump pump wasn’t kicking on and it was the well was filled with water. So, I went ahead and I drained the water out by bucketing – taking buckets of this, pouring buckets of water out until I got down to see where the ball was. And it still wouldn’t come on. So I tapped the ball and eventually, when the water rose, it did kick on again.
But then now I’m hearing this gurgling sound in my kitchen-sink piping. And I want to know why.
TOM: Where is the sump pump discharging? Is it discharging into this basement sink?
RENEE: The sump pump discharges – it’s connected to the outside sewer line. And that’s – I guess that sewer – the line is connected to the basement – the kitchen sink.
TOM: OK. So first of all, it has to go through a trap. If it doesn’t go through a trap, you may get sewage gas that comes back into the basement. So that’s the first thing.
Secondly, the gurgling might just – because it doesn’t have enough water in the sump itself. You’re probably pulling a lot of air in there.
And thirdly, because your sump pump was filling up when you had heavy rain, the source of that water is easily within your ability to repair and stop. Generally, when your sump pump fills up after a heavy rain, it’s because your gutters are clogged or overflowing or your downspouts are not discharging away from the foundation. Or the soil around the house is not sloping away from the outside walls. That’s what causes problems with water filling up in basements and floods in a sort – because that outside surface drainage is just not set up right.
So I would focus on improving your exterior drainage. There’s a great article on MoneyPit.com about how to solve wet basements. A lot of that advice applies to this. And then you’ll find that the sump pump will have to run that much less.
RENEE: OK. That’s great news.
TOM: Renee, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.[radio_anchor listorder=”6″]LESLIE: Wilson in North Carolina is on the line dealing with a funky smell coming out of the sink. What’s going on?
WILSON: Yes. I have a water-smelling problem. I’ve got well water. And we’ve got a lot – strong smelling. It’s like rotting eggs, especially in the hot water. We changed the water heater. Still, it smells. Do I need to change the – also the plumbing, all the pipe in the house or just flush it? If I need to flush, what kind of cleaners do I need to use?
TOM: So, you’ve replaced your water heater and you’re still having this smell of sulfur. So that eliminates one possibility, which is the anode rod. Sometimes, if the anode rod becomes worn out inside the water heater, you will get a sulfur smell.
I think the next best thing for you to do, Wilson, is to add a charcoal filter to the system. But I don’t want you to add it at the faucet. I want you to add it where the main water valve comes into the house. This is a good opportunity for a whole-house water filter. And if your water’s not been tested, I would also have it tested at the same time, just to make sure that there are not any additional contaminants in that water aside from that sulfur odor.
Wilson, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, you can call in with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT. And 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated home improvement pros for any project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.
TOM: Just ahead, water quality is top of mind right now and if you’re wondering what’s really in your drinking water, we’ve got tips to help you find out, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We’d love to talk with you at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Give us a call and you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great product. It’s the Greenworks 60-Volt Mower.
This is a mower with a push-button start, so that means there are no cords to pull. It’s got a very powerful brushless motor and that’s going to cut through the toughest grass. It’s also cool because it can store vertically. That’s going to save you a lot of space in your garage. And it’s actually part of a full suite of Greenworks Pro 60-volt lithium-powered outdoor tools, including the walk-behind mower, the string trimmer, the hedge trimmer, the chainsaw and a handheld leaf blower.
Leslie, of all of these tools, I think the chainsaw is what totally blows me away. I have used this thing and cut down a pretty big tree with it – like a 12-inch tree – and it’s battery-powered.
LESLIE: I mean it’s amazing what you’re getting out of battery-powered appliances these days. They really have the power to take on major outdoor projects.
TOM: Now, all these tools include a battery and a charger. They’re available exclusively at Lowe’s and Lowes.com. This mower is worth 402 bucks. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.[radio_anchor listorder=”4″]LESLIE: Janet in South Carolina is working on a kitchen makeover. How can we help you?
JANET: I have a kitchen. It’s not a very large kitchen but the walls have been painted numerous times and not the best paint jobs. So, I have decided to possibly add some type of wood to kind of give it a rustic feel, because I really like that, on the entire walls of the kitchen. And I was wondering, could you suggest to me something I could use? I’ve had people suggest beadboard, the wainscot-type board. Could you suggest to me something to use on my walls to give it that rustic look?
LESLIE: Let’s talk about your style of rustic, because there’s so many different ways to interpret that. And beadboard’s a great way to do a really classic, more country look, especially if you paint it a white gloss. That just tends to be really clean. But if you’re looking for more something – you know, something more natural or an age-y piece of wood, there’s ways to do that, too.
JANET: That’s it. I want to go with a light, natural-looking wood. Not too light because my cabinets are the lighter color of wood.
LESLIE: Well, what you can do is you can actually get – and this would have a nice finish to it. You can look at flooring – wood-plank flooring. And you can get one that has sort of a white, rustic, beachy wash to it. And you can even go with a vinyl flooring, because that’s going to be super easy to install. And you can install the planks directly to your wall. And you can do that with an adhesive, you can do that with a double-sided tape. There’s so many different ways you can attach it to the wall, depending on the weight of the product itself. And that – if you put that on with the planks running vertically or horizontally, that can give a different kind of rustic look in comparison to the beadboard.
Now, it seems to me like you want to go floor to ceiling with this. Is this correct?
JANET: That’s right. I do. Now, I do have cabinets that do not go all the way up to the ceiling.
LESLIE: Well, I think that’s OK, because you’re generally dealing with maybe a foot to 18 inches of space up there. And that’s really not terrible. You can keep that as a painted surface and just decorate up there with some very clean baskets or something just to give you a little bit of extra storage, plus to mask that space a little bit. But I think the beadboard is an excellent idea and that’s a very easy do-it-yourself project.
Using a wood-flooring product, whether it’s vinyl or actual wood, there’s a company – Tom, is it Timberchic, I think, is the name?
TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm. That’s right.
LESLIE: And they do actual pieces of reclaimed lumber, almost like a veneer. And that you can attach to the walls. But I’ve done it with that VCR: that vinyl tile that looks like a wood plank. I’ve done that for an HGTV show in a variety of different finishes, horizontally on the wall. And that gives a great, rustic look. So it depends on what your interpretation of rustic is.
JANET: OK, OK. Would you suggest now – would you suggest to put it over the cabinets, also? Or you stated to possibly leave it just painted? Or could I cover that, also?
LESLIE: You can. If you feel confident – if you’re using a wood-flooring planking product, you’re probably going to get two or three pieces in there without having to do any cuts. If you’re doing a beadboard, that’s something you’re going to have to cut down to that exact height and put up there. It depends on how much of it you see from the floor and what you feel comfortable with. I think if you’re going to do it, do it full out. But if you’re not confident in your abilities or it’s too high or you don’t really see it, then I think there’s other ways to mask it with some decorative accessories.
JANET: OK. I understand. OK, great. Well, thank you for your ideas.
TOM: You’re welcome, Janet. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, water quality is top of mind right now, especially as communities like Flint, Michigan learn about what’s really in their drinking water. If you’re concerned about what may be or might not be in your water, it’s smart to be proactive so that you can identify and treat potential water-quality issues right in your home.
TOM: Now, the first step is to diagnose those potential issues. And you can do that with a free water-test kit. You can pick one up by calling 800-HOME-DEPOT or visit HomeDepot.com/Services. And there you can schedule an appointment with a water-treatment pro and they’ll do a free water test. It’s really a quick and effective way to know for sure exactly what problems you may or perhaps may not have. And if it’s a problem, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to solve it.
LESLIE: Yeah. And once you know that, you can purchase and install the right solution for whatever issues you’ve discovered. Even if your water is relatively clean, there are certain products, specific to drinking water, that might still be worth working into your daily routine.
TOM: And The Home Depot has a full range of those water-quality solutions, from pitchers and faucet mounts to whole-home systems installed by professionals. You can learn more at HomeDepot.com.[radio_anchor listorder=”5″]LESLIE: Steve in Michigan is on the line with a water-heater question. What can we do for you?
STEVE: My hot-water tank has no good water pressure behind it.
TOM: Where are you spotting this? Is it at a particular faucet or fixture or is it multiple bathrooms throughout the house?
STEVE: Everywhere. My shower, my sinks, my washing machine, anywhere where I have hot – if I just have hot water going in my washing machine, it takes forever to fill up. When I go to take a shower, if I just have the cold – just straight cold water going, I have nice pressure behind it.
TOM: And let me ask you a question: how old is your house?
STEVE: Built in the 70s.
TOM: OK. I think you’ve got a problem with a valve somewhere on that hot-water line that’s restricting the flow. Because the water pressure is going to be the same for hot and cold when it comes into the house. So the fact that it’s going through the water heater and then slowing down means that something is clogging it or something is basically slowing down that flow. So I think that the problem would most likely be at the water heater itself: either the water flow into it or the water flow out of it. And it could be that one of those valves is stuck, closed or partially stuck.
I would close the valves all the way and then open them back up and see if that makes a difference. I would also follow the line back to make sure that every single valve is fully opened on that hot-water side. And I suspect that you’re going to find something that’s partially closed and that’s what causing this.
Steve, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.[radio_anchor listorder=”1″]LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’re going to talk with Teresa in South Carolina who’s dealing with a wet basement.
Teresa, what’s going on at your money pit?
TERESA: Well, we’ve just recently bought this house and we’ve been here a little over a year. And we were told that the basement floods but we weren’t really aware of how bad it did flood. So, every time we get a heavy rain, it fills up a front landscaping area and it flows in through the bricks, I guess. I’m not sure how it comes in but it comes into the basement.
We’ve talked to several companies and they want to do things inside but I don’t understand why they don’t want to do something on the outside.
TOM: Well, you are absolutely correct because the solution to this problem is not inside. So, what happens in situations like this is, typically, a homeowner will contact a so-called basement-waterproofing company. I think that those titles are inaccurate because these contractors don’t really waterproof anything.
What they really do is just put in a water-evacuation system that allows the water to saturate the foundation perimeters, soak through the walls and fill up your basement. And then before it shows itself, kind of above the floor, they pump it out. But you have to know that that allows a lot of damage to happen, even before that water collects to the level where they can pump it. You have increased pressure against the foundation, you have mold growth, all sorts of things.
So, you are absolutely correct in that you need to stop this on the outside. And the good news is is it’s really not that hard, nor that expensive to do. So there’s two areas you need to focus on: one is grading and the other is roof drainage. So we’ll start with the biggest culprit and that’s roof drainage.
You need to look at all of the gutters that are on your house. You need to make sure that, first of all, you have gutters. Secondly, that you have an adequate number of downspouts on those gutters. And you want to kind of stand back sort of from the street level, look up at your roof, try to do a little sort of rough, back-of-the-hand math. Because you want 600 to 800 square feet of roof surface draining into each downspout. So if you have one downspout and you have a bunch of roof surfaces going into it, it might be that that gets overwhelmed and therefore, the gutter will overflow even if it’s not clogged. Of course, to that point, they have to be clog-free.
And most importantly of anything else is this: you must, must, must extend the discharge from that leader at least 4 to 6 feet from the house. Because we need to move this away from what’s called the “backfill zone.” That’s the area of soil that’s dug out when you build the foundation. You need to get the water beyond that 4- to 6-foot perimeter.
Now, you can do this simply by putting in an additional piece of leader material on there. And of course, it’s not very attractive; it’s somewhat unsightly. But I would at least do that for starters so that you can prove to yourself that this works. And then later on, if you want to try to make it neater, you could always sink some underground, solid PVC pipe and drain through that and perhaps discharge it into the street or some other lower area on your property.
Now, once that’s set, then you could look at the grading at that foundation perimeter, starting on the area where you see water collecting. And you want to make sure that the soil slopes away about 6 inches over 4 feet. And that soil has to be well-tamped fill dirt, not topsoil. Topsoil is very organic. Sometimes when folks have drainage issues, they put more topsoil on it. That’s kind of like throwing sponges around your house. You want to create that slope with clean fill dirt. It’s more of a kind of clay-like, compactable-type soil that can be sloped to drop that 6 inches over about 4 feet. Over that, you can put a little topsoil to sustain growth or plantings or whatever but you need to get that slope established first.
So this way, you have direct rainfall, hits that grade, runs off and all of the water that collects on the roof hits those downspouts and gets discharged well away from the house. Those two things will stop this wet basement. And I know that for certain because when you said that your basement floods after heavy rain, all of that always sources on the outside. It’s not a rising water table and that’s the only time you’d ever need to put in below-grade drains, such as what these waterproofing companies are suggesting.
TERESA: OK. Great. I really appreciate your help.
TOM: Well, you’re welcome. And I’m so glad we could get to you before you spent the money on waterproofers, because I can’t tell you how many times we get this same call after someone has spent $10,000 or $20,000 on a waterproofer only to find out that they still have the same problem.
TERESA: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, if you love to cook and you love the outdoors, you might also love to have an outdoor kitchen. We’re going to have tips to help you take on that project, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.[radio_anchor listorder=”3″]TOM: Well, outdoor living is more popular than ever right now but it’s not limited to lawn chairs and fire pits and patio sets. Complete outdoor kitchens are trending as one of this year’s hot projects, in part due to the increasing availability of truly weather-resistant appliances and cabinetry.
LESLIE: Well, Mike Moras is a designer that saw this coming. In fact, he invented the first all-resin, outdoor-cabinet system in the world and is now a design consultant for Trex. He’s helping launch their new outdoor-kitchen collection.
MIKE: Oh, thank you, Leslie. I really appreciate you having me on your show.
TOM: So, Mike, tell me how you got going with this. I mean I was reading your profile on LinkedIn and I was astounded to see that you had invented the first all-resin, outdoor kitchen-cabinet system. And it sounds like you came from a long history of working in the cabinet industry. What prompted you to start thinking about moving those cabinets from the kitchen to the outdoors?
MIKE: Well, Tom, I started designing and building outdoor cabinets about 20 years ago – actually, over 20 years ago. And I just loved wood and I used teak and cypress doors outside, because that’s really the best wood for outdoor.
MIKE: But you still have a lot of issues with real wood. You have warping, cracking and fading. And the biggest problem we had was the people that I had installed these kitchens for, they wouldn’t maintain them.
MIKE: You’ve got to oil teak and you’ve got to varnish cypress. You have to or it’ll fall apart.
TOM: Exactly. And so, the thing is with the resin products, though, if you have somebody that wants an outdoor kitchen and they’re trying to decide between teak and let’s face it, a type of plastic, they’re going to think that the resin looks sort of cheap. But the thing is that those products have changed now. The technology is there where it actually is very, very attractive.
MIKE: Exactly. About 10 years ago, I was into doing these outdoor wood kitchens and I loved it. I love the look of wood. And all my customers did, too. Of course, they didn’t like it when they started falling apart but then, all of a sudden, I saw this kitchen. It was installed next door to one of the kitchens I put in and it was polymer. It’s a plastic outdoor cabinet. I thought – I looked and – what is this?
And I looked at it and asked the builder and he said, “Oh, yeah, this is the new thing for outdoor cabinets. It’s plastic. It’ll last forever. There’s no maintenance.” And I loved the concept of it but I didn’t like the look. It looked like plastic.
MIKE: So I refused to give up on the wood. I just started looking for an alternative and I found high-density resin.
TOM: And so, when you first found this material, was it in such a form that you could actually craft it into cabinetry like you could the wood? Could you saw it? Could you sand it? Could you rout it?
MIKE: Actually, Tom, when I saw the product, it was being sold for outdoor elements, for brackets on the outside of the buildings. Actually, Disney World has been using resin for over 30 years. So it’s not a new product. It’s a product that simulates wood and stone and it’s a molding product. So I thought, “Maybe we can make an outdoor cabinet out of this.” So I went to the manufacturer who did these elements and I said, “Is it possible to make a door out of this?” This wood grain, it’s just beautiful. I couldn’t tell it at all the difference between real cypress and this resin.
LESLIE: Is it a pressed process? It’s sort of made from a sheet and then molded into the shape of a door? Or is it components that are fitted together the same way that you would construct a traditional wood door?
MIKE: Well, that’s a good question, Leslie. What we do – and the reason this looks so real and not fake – like Tom said, nobody wants plastic. They don’t want something cheap, especially in the higher end when you have really high-end quality products that are competing with stainless steel and some of the other high-end outdoor products.
But what we do is we take a real teak door. We build it. We build a real teak door. We also do cypress doors. And then we distress it to bring out the grain. Then we use a silicone mold and we mold it and then we inject high-density resin into that mold. And when it comes out of the mold, we paint it and glaze it. All the glaze goes into this raised grain. And it looks beautiful. You can’t tell our masters that our real wood from the products that we mold from that mast (ph).
TOM: We’re talking to Mike Moras. He is a designer that has been focusing on outdoor kitchens for many, many years. He’s now working with the Trex Company on their new line of outdoor kitchens.
And Mike, I got a chance to see the Trex products at the International Builders’ Show where I first met you. And I’ll tell you, they’re beautiful. And I asked you a question about performance because, to me, seeing cabinet drawers that slide in and out and cabinets that open much in the same way that they do in a kitchen – I asked you – I said, “How is it that water does not get into these things when you have a storm that blows through?” And you showed me some things that were very subtle about the design, in terms of how you put this together that stops that from happening.
MIKE: Well, first of all, the product itself is closed-cell. The outside is high-density resin and closed-cell means no moisture can penetrate the product at all. The cabinet itself – the cabinet box – the interior of the box is PVC – solid PVC. So, again, that’s a closed-cell product; no moisture can penetrate that.
Number one, the product is waterproof in itself. Then, to keep the rain out, the doors and drawers fit very tight to the cabinet box. We don’t use bumpers. There’s no gap there.
TOM: Yeah, that’s very interesting because usually, when you see a kitchen, there’s a lot of space between the doors and the drawers as they come together. But on your cabinetry, it was very, very tight. You know, it was like a ½-inch or so apart. So I could see how that makes it very difficult for the rain to drive into that. And I remember you mentioning to me that you’ve opened these kitchens up, slide those drawers out after a severe rain and you still see paper napkins in it like nothing ever happened.
MIKE: Exactly. And it’s all based on the drawer and everything being so tight together and the proper overhang on the countertop. I have my resin outdoor kitchen. I took films of downpours, monsoons that it rained for a day. And like you said, I’d open that drawer and it was bone dry.
Most of your outdoor kitchens are under cover but a lot of them are in full exposure. And ours not only holds up in the rain but they hold up in the sun. They’re impervious to insects. It’s just a great, great product. It basically lasts forever. We haven’t even seen any fading in the product, because we put a UV inhibitor on the final coat on the cabinets. So it’s virtually indestructible. And for cleaning – I mean when I’m out watering my plants, I just turn and hose-off the cabinets. So I never have to clean them.
TOM: Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice if you could do that in your kitchen, as well, inside your house? Just hose it off.
Mike Moras, the designer for Trex Outdoor Kitchens. The collection has expanded for 2017. There’s lots and lots of options, customizable to boot. You can get sink cabinets, grill bases, you name it. Beautiful furniture. You can learn more at TrexOutdoorStorage.com but you can pick up the phone and call Trex at 844-880-6343.
Mike Moras, the designer for Trex, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
MIKE: Thanks, Tom.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us now with your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. We’ll be back with more of your calls, after this.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. And the website is MoneyPit.com, where you’ll find tips and resources on many of the projects we talk about on this program. You also have an opportunity to post your question to the Community section at MoneyPit.com. So please do take advantage of it. But give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Because if you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a fantastic outdoor-living tool that we’re giving away right now.
LESLIE: Yeah. This really is a perfect prize for the perfect time of year. We’re giving away the Greenworks 60-Volt Mower.
Now, we love it because it’s got a push-button start, no cords to pull. For me, that’s everything because for some reason, I cannot operate a pull start on any appliance for any of my outdoor chores. Don’t ask me why. I just can’t do it. So no cords to pull and a push-button start really means everything for me.
And also, the vertical-storage capability – who doesn’t need 70 percent more storage space in their garage because you’re not having the mower take up so much space?
Now, it’s part of a full suite of Greenworks Pro 60-volt, lithium-powered outdoor equipment. And that includes a walk-behind mower, string trimmer, hedge trimmer, chainsaw, even a handheld leaf blower. All of the tools include a battery and a charger and all of the tools are available exclusively at Lowe’s.
Now, we’ve got one Greenworks 60-Volt Mower up for grabs, which is a $402 prize. So give us a call.
TOM: 888-666-3974.[radio_anchor listorder=”2″]LESLIE: Now we’ve got Philip on the line who needs some help installing a bathroom. What are you working on?
PHILIP: Well, we have an unusual house. It’s all concrete – poured concrete – back in the 80s. So all of the walls and the upper and lower are concrete. Now, we have one bathroom in this house. However, we want to install a small half-bath in the bedroom, right next to the bathroom that’s in the basement now. So, we have a concrete wall between the two. We have concrete floors where the toilet and the bathtub is installed. Now, between the bathtub and the other wall, the plumbing is in there. That’s not concrete; that is framed in.
So that has – we have access to that in the room next door. But the question is – we want to install another bathroom – a half-bath – so we want a toilet and a sink. The sink is no problem as – because of what I just said about the plumbing being roughed-in there. But boy, how do – we really want to do this, so it’s going to take some, I assume, some demolition work to get down into that.
TOM: So what room do you want the half-bath to be in? Is it going to be on the same level as the existing bathrooms?
PHILIP: That is correct. It’s in the lower level. It’s basically the same as – you know, you could just say it’s a basement. The only difference is is that the wall between the bath that is there now and the bedroom right next door, which where we want the half-bath, is a concrete wall.
TOM: OK. So you’re worried about getting through the wall that separates these two bath spaces. So you have concrete below, then you have a concrete dividing wall? What about the ceiling? Is that typical wood construction?
PHILIP: It is.
TOM: So, OK. Well, there’s two ways to do this. Number one, yes, you could dig out the floor and break that area out, try to find the intersection with the waste pipe on the other side of that wall. Or you could use what’s called a “lift pump.”
So there are toilets out there that have pumps that are built into them that when you flush them – and you can spill the water waste from the sink into this, as well – it essentially activates a pump, it grinds the waste, it runs it up through a pipe and then it would go up into the ceiling and then cut across to the waste line and be dropped down from there. So, that’d be less destructive. The mechanism is a little more complicated, perhaps a little louder than a typical toilet flush but they work very, very reliably. And they’re very often used in basement-bathroom situations where the toilet position is below the main waste line.
PHILIP: Well, no. The main waste line – since the only bath is in the lower level, right next to where I want the half-bath to be – so the waste line is in the floor and it runs out to the south through and right out. And it goes right down into the sewer line outside. So I don’t – there’s no – it’s the same level. So I would really like to hook up to the existing line that is right next to the half-bath that I want to put in.
TOM: Yep. So I’ve got two words for you: jackhammer. You can break up that floor and connect with that line or like I said, you can go up over the wall and drop into the vent pipe, which will no doubt be in that same space. And then, of course, 8 feet below that connects with the waste line. So those are your options. I hope one of those works for you.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if the floors in your home are super cold to bare feet, it might be a sign that the insulation needs an update. We’re going to have tips to help, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated home improvement pros for any project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.
We’d also like you to go to MoneyPit.com if you’ve got a home improvement question because you can post it in the Community section, just like Rachel did.
She’s got some chilly tootsies, Leslie. What can we do to help her out?
LESLIE: Yeah. Rachel writes: “I recently bought a home built in 1991. It’s a fine home that sits on a hill. I discovered that there is no vapor barrier on the ground in the crawlspace. I do not notice any resulting problems but the first floor feels cold to my bare feet, even though there’s insulation under the floor. Should I add a vapor barrier? And if so, why?”
TOM: It’s a good question, Rachel. And while a vapor barrier is good for many reasons, one of them is not to make the floor any warmer. I mean technically, it could but really what a vapor barrier is – and it’s a really simple thing – it’s a sheet of plastic. It’s a big sheet of plastic with as few seams as possible that you lay across, typically, the soil floor of the crawlspace. And what it does is it cuts down on the evaporation of moisture coming up off of that floor and therefore getting into the insulation, which can make it less effective. But I sense if you’re still having a very cold floor, you probably don’t have enough insulation to begin with.
Now, what you really should be having is as much insulation – if it’s batt insulation, like fiberglass batts for example, it should be as much insulation as those floor joists can handle. So if the floor beams are 2x10s, it should be 10 inches of insulation. If it’s 2×8, it should be 8 inches and so on. The more insulation, the better. You can’t overstuff it because if you compress the insulation, it definitely won’t work.
If you don’t have the vapor barrier, I would definitely put one in. But I don’t necessarily think it’s going to warm up the floor. What will warm up the floor is if you increase the insulation to the maximum. And also, most crawlspaces, if they’re built right, are going to have foundation vents.
Now, those are supposed to be open most of the year but we’re talking nine months when I say most of the year. If you want to close those foundation vents, say, between November or December and January and February, sometime around then, yeah, you really don’t need them open in those really cold winter months. And that will also warm up that floor. But the rest of the year, it needs to be open because that’s how drier air gets in and out of that crawlspace and again, helps it keep very, very dry so it doesn’t cause any decay or mold or mildew or any trouble like that.
LESLIE: Alright. Hope that gives you a hand.
Next up, we’ve got one here from Sarah in Dallas who writes: “Is refinishing bath fixtures a viable option for my bathroom remodel? The fixtures are worn but I don’t quite have the budget to replace everything at once.”
TOM: You know, I think it’s smart to look at the costs involved in replacement versus refinishing, Sarah. Tubs and showers are obviously expensive to replace. And then, of course, you can’t just do that. You end up with the sort of the might-as-well factor. If you’re going to pull out your shower, you might as well pull out the walls and update those and change the tile and everything else. So it does get pretty costly to do that.
But I will say that refinishing the fixtures, while it’s a less expensive solution, you’re not going to have the durability that you would if, in fact, it was a complete replacement. It’ll be nice but we may be looking at a finish that can last 5 years, not 25 years, you know what I mean?
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that we have helped you along with the projects that you’re taking on for your money pit. And to us, it’s a term of endearment, right? You love your house but you do have to throw some money at it once in a while to get it in good shape and have it looking great. And it’s our job to help you do that. We hope we’ve been able to do that a little bit today. But if you’ve got more questions, remember, you can post them to the Community section at MoneyPit.com or call us 888-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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(Copyright 2017 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.)