- Are you ready to add a deck to your backyard for the warmer weather ahead? One simple yet surprisingly simple deck design mistake can lead to a disastrous deck collapse! Find out what’s needed to stay safe and secure.
- Spring cleaning is not the most popular project but did you there’s now a Top 10 List for the Most Hated Cleaning Jobs? We’ll share the chores most people would like to avoid.
- If you’re ready to shop for new appliances, did you know there are actually TWO price tags you need to consider? We’ll share what second less obvious price tag is all about.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- James from Delaware has a whistling sound coming from his 4-year-old water heater.
- Helen in Massachusetts had a plumbing leak in her basement and now wants to know what kind of flooring to use to replace the carpeting.
- Andres from Tennessee is trying to relocate his air intake and thermostat from a bedroom.
- Kelly needs to get rid of insects and rodents in her basement.
- Rich in Illinois is calling about the best way to treat his older cedar siding.
- Esther from South Dakota wants to buy a new furnace and is wondering if she can use her existing chimney as a way to get the vent pipe up through the roof?
- Dan has white powder forming on his 3-year-old brick home.
- Janet in South Carolina needs a suggestion for a rustic wooden look on her kitchen walls.
- Joel from Arkansas wants to move a beam that has become an eye soar in his home.
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: Here to help you pick up the tools and get to work fixing up your home sweet home. And hey, if you’re not the type that likes to pick up the tools, we can tell you what jobs you might want to think about hiring a contractor for and what you need to do to get that job done right the first time out.
It’s spring. It’s home improvement season. We’re so excited. There’s lots of stuff going on. I know I’ve got more projects going on right now than I have time to finish. But I think my wife is going to make sure I check those boxes and finish them. She’s getting tired of living in the construction zone. I can’t blame her. I can’t blame her at all.
But what are you guys working on this spring? What are you doing? What are you planning? Give us a call. Reach out to us through The Money Pit app. Post your questions on our social-media pages. We would love to help you get started right.
Coming up on today’s show, are you thinking about adding a deck to your backyard for the warmer weather ahead? Well, check this out: one simple yet very surprisingly-common design mistake can definitely lead to a disastrous deck collapse. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to build that deck safely and keep gravity as your friend.
LESLIE: Alright. And also ahead, spring cleaning is not something to look forward to. I mean some people actually dislike cleaning so much that now there’s a top-10 list for the most hated cleaning jobs. We’re going to share the chores that most of you are trying to avoid.
TOM: I’m sure we all have our favorite jobs to hate when it comes to spring cleaning. We’ll see what America has to say.
TOM: And if you’re ready to shop for new appliances, did you know there are actually two price tags you need to consider? Yes, two. Actually, two expenses. The first one is what it costs to buy it and the second one, well, that’s just as important. We’ll share what that is, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And if you’re interested in transforming your kitchen with a granite countertop, we’re giving away a kit that can help you do that in just a weekend. It’s new from Daich Coatings and it’s called the LuxROCK Solid-Surface Granite Countertop Kit.
TOM: Yep. That kit’s worth 299 bucks. It’s going out to one listener drawn at random.
So, here’s how it works. If you would like to participate on The Money Pit, you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, you can post your questions to MoneyPit.com/Ask or on our social-media pages. And if we talk to you, we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat to win that LuxROCK Solid-Surface Granite Countertop Kit from our friends over at Daich Coatings.
Well, that’s all we have to say, so let’s get to it answering your questions.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: James in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JAMES: The other day, I was sitting in my living room when all of a sudden, this real loud whistle sound came out of my water-heater heater room. I opened it up. I’d just never heard this before and it did this for a few minutes. And then it just stopped.
TOM: You didn’t see any water come out of the overflow, did you?
JAMES: No. No. That’s what I can’t figure out.
TOM: How old is the water heater, James?
JAMES: About 4 or 5 years ago, I put in all electric. That was gas before. Put all electric. I put a Trane heater in and there was another brand that they put in with the water heater. And it seems like now – I haven’t heard that since. Now, when I use the water – the faucet – in the kitchen, right after I turn it off, a couple minutes later I hear this noise that’s like a clicking noise or something in the water heater.
TOM: So, that clicking noise is probably the pipes expanding and contracting as they heat up and cool down. It tends to amplify itself because of the nature of the copper pipes. But everything that you’re telling me doesn’t signal that I’m thinking you’re having any kind of problem. Just sometimes, as the water expands and contracts, it will make some odd noises to it.
JAMES: Do I have to drain the heater at all or …?
TOM: Do you have hard water there?
JAMES: Oh, yeah.
TOM: So if you have hard water, sometimes you get mineral deposits along the bottom of the water heater. But that wouldn’t really impact an electric water heater, because the coils are up in the middle of the water. They’re immersed right into the middle of the tank, so it’s not going to make them less efficient. So you could but I don’t think it’ll have any effect.
If you have a gas water heater, the heating element’s at the bottom. And sometimes, if you get mineral deposits that sit over the bottom of the water tank, it’s kind of like an insulator and it makes it harder to heat the water. But in the case of electric water heater, the heating elements are embedded up in the water heater, usually a foot from the bottom and a foot down from the top. So that wouldn’t affect it.
JAMES: Well, I thought there’s – isn’t there one at the top and the bottom?
TOM: Yes. But it’s immersed in the middle of the tank. It sticks through the tank, kind of at a right angle. And there’s one about a foot down from the top and one that’s about a foot up from the bottom. So you’re not going to have any settling of mineral-salt deposits on it.
JAMES: What’s the life expectancy of one of these things?
TOM: About 10 years – 10 to 12 years.
JAMES: Ten years and that’s it. And when can I guess the elements go, usually?
TOM: Well, if the elements go, they can be replaced. But the tanks tend to leak after 10-plus years.
JAMES: Wow. And where should I keep an eye – where does it – they leak in the bottom? They just leak water all over the place?
TOM: The best thing to do is if you’re going away, right, you should always turn off your main water valve. And also, turn off the water heater, because it won’t waste a lot of electricity by heating up water in the house that you’re not using.
JAMES: Listen, let me tell you something, I love you guys. You guys have a really very wholesome – a great show. Because there’s a lot of talk shows on and different things but you guys help a lot of people.
TOM: We try. Thank you so much, James. We really appreciate that. Good luck with the project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’ve got Helen in Massachusetts on the line who’s dealing with a leaky sewage system causing a whole bunch of issues.
What’s going on?
HELEN: Unfortunately, I have had a crack in the waste pipe that takes all the waste from my top floor to the septic system. It has flooded my basement. Number one, is there a way to fix the waste pipe or do we have to go and have a plumber come in and cut the waste pipe and reinstall a new one? And number two, I need something to put on the floor of the basement. We had carpeting. The carpeting is ruined now and I don’t want to put carpeting down again. So what would you suggest for flooring?
TOM: Oh, that’s absolutely terrible, Helen. So, here’s the good news, though. Because you had a sudden crack and a sudden leak like this, this should actually be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. I would call them right away. I would file a claim.
You know, if it’s a slow leak that goes on for a long time, that’s on you. But when you have a crack like this and it causes a flood and all of this damage, you definitely want to call your insurance company.
Now, they’ll send out an investigator and estimate the damage but you could also hire a public adjuster. These guys work on a percentage of the claim. And often, they find a lot more than the insurance guys do because they’re basically working to make sure every single thing is covered, from the layer of paint to the nails to the screws, everything.
You also need – because it’s sewage, they’re going to have to call a remediation company that will come in and treat all of the sewage-affected areas because, obviously, it’s a lot of waste down there. That’s very, very unhealthy and I’m sure it doesn’t smell very well.
So, you asked about the carpet. That’s the least of your problems. But to that, we’ll say don’t put carpet in a basement. It’s a really bad idea because basements are damp. You get a lot of dust down there. You can get a lot of dust mites. You get mold. It’s a real mess. So, choose a hard-surface floor.
LESLIE: Well, everybody loves a beautifully-designed kitchen. I mean they are the heart of the home, so why not make them look welcoming and spacious and modern and fun and everything that you want in your kitchen space?
So, if you’re loving granite countertops but you haven’t been able to handle the expense to achieve those design dreams, we’re giving away a brand-new product, from Daich Coatings, that gives you a sparkling granite surface at a fraction of the cost of real granite.
Now, it’s called the LuxROCK Solid-Surface Granite Countertop Kit. And one kit is going to cover 40 square feet of countertop, which makes it perfect for updating your kitchen or your bath.
Now, the LuxROCK is going to spread easily over your old countertop and just completely transform them into a new, smooth stone surface that looks and performs just like real granite. Comes in five colors. And that entire transformation takes only about 2 days and it is a complete do-it-yourself project.
Normally, the kit’s 299 but it’s on sale now through April 30th for just 239 at Home Depot, Lowe’s and DaichCoatings.com. But for one lucky listener today, we’ve got one to give away.
TOM: And that LuxROCK Solid-Surface Granite Countertop Kit is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Reach us with your home improvement questions on The Money Pit app at MoneyPit.com/Ask.
LESLIE: Alright. Andre in Tennessee is dealing with an air-conditioning issue.
What’s going on?
ANDRE: My question is about relocating, possibly, an air intake and thermostat that is in a bedroom. So the upstairs air conditioner, the intake is in a bedroom. So we can’t close that bedroom door because it affects the air for the whole upstairs. So, I’m just wondering what the solution is to that, if it’s possible to relocate the thermostat only or if the intake might need to be moved out into the hall, also.
TOM: So, Andre, the fact that you have a thermostat inside of a room like that is really unusual. Generally speaking, thermostats are in central locations. So, I think moving the thermostat actually makes a lot of sense. Now, it’s a low-voltage wire that’s going to be connecting that to your HVAC system. So, your heating-and-cooling contractor should be able to move that fairly simply.
Now, the other thing that you could try is systems that have returns in rooms like that, that’s actually a positive feature of a house. But oftentimes, the doors are too close to the carpet below, too close to whatever floor covering you have. You need to have a good, solid inch, maybe an inch-an-a-half gap under that door. If you have that, then that actually is enough space for the air to be pulled from either the hallway into the bedroom or the bedroom into the hallway, depending on how the configuration is.
So, I said optimally, you can move that thermostat. That would probably be something I would definitely recommend. But in the short term, if you just undercut your doors, that will definitely help, as well.
LESLIE: Kelly, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KELLY: How do you get rid of freeloading bugs, slugs and unwanted rodents from your yard, your garage, your basement and your home?
TOM: Well, Kelly, that’s quite a tall order. It sounds like you’ve got a lot going on there.
So I think, Leslie, we could divide these up into insects and then into rodents, right? Because you kind of approach them differently.
And on the rodent side, that’s probably the easier one to tackle because you need to seal up all the gaps from the outside. Rodents only need the space about the size of a pinky to get in there. So you want to seal up those gaps. You want to make sure that your – any food is well – is off the floor. You want to make sure your containers like dog food on the floor, for example, in a big, old bag – boy, rodents love that sort of thing. So you’ve got to be careful with that.
We’ve got a great article that walks you through that and a whole bunch of other tips on MoneyPit.com.
But I think this is a good case, in terms of the insects, Leslie, for sort of a general pesticide treatment. Because where else do you begin with that kind of infestation?
LESLIE: Yeah. I think unless you know specifically what’s going on – to treat specific insects, specific rodents – it’s more of a general treatment. And when you work with, you know, a pesticide professional or somebody who does this for a living, they’re going to really know how to target everything.
TOM: Absolutely. So, good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Well, are you thinking about adding a deck to your backyard for the warmer weather ahead? One simple, yet surprising common design mistake can lead to a disastrous deck collapse. Here’s what you need to know.
TOM: Well, structurally speaking, attaching the deck to the house is really one of the most critical connections. If it’s done wrong, you can invite rot and wood-destroying insect infestations and even lead to a deck collapse. In fact, every year, usually around Memorial Day, the Fourth of July or Labor Day – I mean sometimes I just think about this at the start of the weekends because I know I’m going to hear about one of these. And it’s just so tragic.
What happens is you get 25 of your closest, personal friends up on the second-floor deck, which is way too many people. Much more than you normally do. And guess what? It collapses. It goes right down with all the partygoers and people get very seriously hurt.
LESLIE: Yeah. So don’t put your friends and family at risk. You want to make sure that your connection is solid and properly flashed to keep water out and avoid disaster. You never want to use lag bolts to connect the deck to the house, as they can easily loosen and then back out. Through-bolts, which go all the way through the box beam and then are bolted on the inside of the house, are a far more secure connection.
TOM: Now, we’ve got a great post on deck design, that’s on MoneyPit.com. So check it out: “Deck Design Ideas for Safer Structures” on MoneyPit.com, including a video of a deck collapse. Not a real one but one that was done in controlled conditions, so you guys can see exactly what happens. It’s really scary. Check it out: “Deck Design Ideas for Safe Structures” on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Let’s talk some cedar siding with Rich from Illinois. What’s going on at your money pit?
RICH: I’ve got a house that we had built in 2012 with cedar siding. It’s looking a bit weathered now. We’ve not done anything to it. So it’s 10 years and I’m wondering what the right treatment would be. OK if I just wash it and leave it? If I should wash it and stain it? What’s the appropriate process for securing this? Also, whether or not I should seal each board or not.
TOM: So, Rich, that’s a great question. The good news about cedar siding is that it’s naturally insect-resistant. Unfortunately, the sun still can get to it and cause it to check and crack. But here’s what you do.
First of all, you have to use an anti-tannin – t-a-n-n-i-n – primer, usually an oil-based primer. And you put that on the siding first. Then that seals it in and stops any of the tannins, which is the oil in the cedar, from leaking out. On top of that, you can use an exterior stain. Now, what you’ll be – what you’ll end up with is a house with siding that looks a lot like the original cedar, yet it’s got a colorant added to it so that it doesn’t sort of look faded and nasty.
Now, my house has cedar shingles and this is exactly what I did. As I explained it, I used an oil-based primer, then I used a latex-based exterior stain, solid color, on top of it. And we went – gosh, we went probably at least 15 years on the first time we did this. And then we did it a few years later and it still looks absolutely terrific.
You know what’s interesting, Leslie – you know what wore before the cedar did?
LESLIE: What did?
TOM: The fiberglass shutters. The paint started coming off right of them. I was so annoyed. Cedar is fine. It’s the modern fiberglass that didn’t hold the paint.
LESLIE: That’s so interesting. I did actually just see a house that had the cedar shingles, that had the – what’s that more permanent paint, like a wall-coat product? And it’s so interesting to see how well it adheres and how smooth. And I think you’re going to get something like three or – three times longer than a traditional paint. So it’s always lovely when you see a cedar home well cared for.
TOM: Yep. Absolutely.
LESLIE: Esther in South Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ESTHER: We just put a new furnace into our home. And instead of the pipe going into the chimney – the brick chimney goes way up through all levels of the house – it goes out the side of the house. And right beside it is the water heater. And I was wondering if the furnace exhaust can be directed out the side of the house and water heater, as well?
TOM: Yeah, it depends on the efficiency. So when you put a more efficient HVAC system in, the temperature of the exhaust gases are such that it can be direct-vented. That’s called “direct venting,” where you turn the vent right through the side of the house and let it out that way. If you were to try to put that in the chimney, those gases wouldn’t really make it out because the chimney would be so cold. There’d be a lot of condensation and it could even reverse the draft.
And now that you’ve taken the furnace out of the chimney, so the only thing that’s left in the chimney is the water heater, you may potentially very well still have that program – that problem – now. And I would hope that the HVAC contractor that did the furnace install made sure that that was not the case. Because if you get very cold chimneys, the amount of flame that’s coming off a water heater is not enough to warm them up. So you can get a lot of condensation where that draft will reverse and that could push the combustion gases back in the house.
If you want to run the vent for the water heater outside, you’re going to have to replace the water heater with one that’s more efficient and what’s called “direct vent” and has sort of a blower motor on top that pulls the gases out. So, technically, you can do that; it’s just a different type of equipment.
ESTHER: Alright. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dan on the line who’s dealing with some sort of weird substance on the bricks in the house.
What’s going on?
DAN: I have a 3-year-old brick home and the bricks are covered with a white powder. Someone told me that that’s coming out of the mortar, not out of the bricks, but I don’t know that for sure. What is that white powder?
TOM: So, Dan, I can tell you exactly what that is. It’s efflorescence. It’s basically mineral-salt deposits. Because when it rains and the brick gets wet, they soak up a lot of water. And then it evaporates and it leaves that white, crusty sort of salt color behind.
Leslie, I think some people actually like that. It’s like having sort of a two-toned house, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. But isn’t that something – I mean it doesn’t damage anything.
TOM: No, it doesn’t damage.
LESLIE: But isn’t it something that you should be taking care of, rather than leaving there because you like that sort of cloudy look?
TOM: There’s absolutely no downside to having it. It’s not going to damage the brick in any way, shape or form. So, if you don’t like it, I guess what you could do is you could wash the house down. And you’re going to want to use a vinegar solution to melt that salt away. And then you could probably use a sealer.
But the sealer is eventually going to fail and it’s going to sort of start to turn gray again. And I really don’t like what – when you do use a sealer, the fact that you might have some sides that’ll remain sealed longer and you start to get sort of an inconsistent look to the brick, as well. Because some will start to show that pattern again and some won’t.
So, I don’t think it’s much of a problem. I think it’s just kind of an intended effect of having a brick house.
LESLIE: Well, despite the season being spring, spring cleaning is not something that a lot of us look forward to. In fact, some people dislike cleaning so much that there is now a list – a top-10 list – for the most hated cleaning jobs.
TOM: Yeah. According to a new survey done by Lombardo Homes, the most hated cleaning chores in America, well, it’s cleaning and sanitizing the bathroom, of course. No surprise there. But next up in the unpopularity contest is washing the dishes, doing laundry, cleaning out the fridge and with yardwork coming in fifth.
Which I guess is kind of a good thing, Leslie, because I think yardwork can be somewhat therapeutic, especially in the warmer weather.
LESLIE: I don’t know. I really enjoy cleaning but as the only lady in a house with four boys, the bathroom definitely is the place that I hate to clean the most. But it is also the place that needs the most cleaning. So, I feel you guys who hate cleaning that bathroom.
But what’s interesting here is that people are spending more and more time at home these days. In fact, 55 percent of those surveyed said that they have to be more diligent with their cleaning since the pandemic occurred. And you can’t just let all of that laundry pile up in the background of your Zoom call. What is everybody going to think, you know? You can only blur out your background so much before people are like, “How much laundry is back there? What have you got going on?”
TOM: That’s one of the things that we didn’t really think about when we went into staying home so much. Sure, we were buying more food and we’re all putting on weight but the thing is, we’re giving a lot more wear and tear to the house and creating a lot more mess in the rooms in the house including, of course, the bathroom. So I guess that makes sense.
Now, if you don’t want to do it yourself, you could try to get someone else to do it. According to the survey, 1 in 10 folks are bribing their roommate or their partner to get out of doing certain chores. Sounds like something that my kids would do.
LESLIE: That’s something that my kids do currently.
The big thing is, though, that only 49 percent do an annual spring cleaning. And I don’t know about you, Tom, but I actually need to do that annual deep cleaning. And if I don’t clean and reorganize and get rid of stuff, there would just be so much clutter building up. So I kind of look forward to this. This is always – I’m getting ready to do the – I’m going to completely empty out the garage, toss a bunch of stuff, sweep all the things and then put it back in nice and organized. And then, of course, fall rolls around and it’ll be a mess all over again but …
TOM: Definitely something to be said for doing it once and sort of starting fresh. It definitely makes you feel a lot better.
So, if that’s how you feel, get to it. It’s a beautiful day, it’s a beautiful weekend in time to pick up the broom, the vacuum, the Windex, whatever you need to clean your house and get at it.
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: Hey, if you guys want to spruce up your kitchen, we’re giving away a brand-new product from Daich Coating. It’s called the LuxROCK Solid-Surface Granite Countertop Kit. And it allows you to transform your countertop into a sparkling granite surface in just a weekend.
They sent us some samples of this product and we were pretty much blown away with how much it looks like real granite. It’s absolutely beautiful but you can spread it easily over an old countertop.
So let’s say you’ve got an old laminate countertop and you just can’t stand the way it looks anymore. It’s all worn and weird. You can actually spread the LuxROCK over that and you are transforming it into a granite surface. I mean not just a fake, granite-painted thing. No, it really looks like a solid-granite top.
It’s normally 299 bucks but this kit is on sale now through April 30th for just 239 at Home Depot, Lowe’s and DaichCoatings.com. That’s D-a-i-c-h-Coatings.com. But guess what? We’ve got one to give away to one fortunate listener. All you’ve got to do is reach out to us with your home improvement questions by going to MoneyPit.com/Ask, grab The Money Pit app and post your questions right there. We will be giving one of these kits away today to one of our listeners that reaches out, just like that.
LESLIE: So if you’re ready to shop for new appliances this spring, did you know that there are actually two price tags you need to consider?
Now, the first price tag, that covers the purchasing price. The second one is the cost of operating the appliance during its lifetime. The more efficient the appliance, the quicker the appliance will pay for itself. To keep that payback period as short as possible, it’s important to pay attention to two labels.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. So the first one is the ENERGY STAR label. Now, you’re going to find it on appliances, as well as electronics and windows and water heaters and other energy-consuming products. The label is important because it tells you if it meets or exceeds the standards for energy efficiency.
Now, the second label is called the EnergyGuide label. You’ve seen this. It’s bright, it’s yellow, it’s yellow and black. It actually kind of looks like a warning label but it actually has really important information, because it’s going to help you figure out whether an appliance is energy-efficient by actually showing you how much it costs to run that appliance over the year.
So, with this kind of detail, you can compare appliances and choose the one that really is the most efficient. So you’re choosing the price and you’re choosing the efficiency. And that’s going to add up to a lot of savings.
LESLIE: Joel in Arkansas is on the line and has a question about beams. What can we help you with?
JOEL: I have a house that has a center, load-bearing beam. And I’m kind of wanting to remove it. And my brother-in-law, who is my roommate, says that there’s a way to put it up into the attic. And I’m just kind of curious if that is possible or …
TOM: So you have a beam that runs down the middle of the house and you’d like to eliminate this so that it doesn’t become sort of an obstruction. Is that correct?
TOM: So that you have like a continuous, flat ceiling?
JOEL: Yes. We’re going to drop the ceiling down about 7 inches. The beam is actually 9½-inches down. It’s two 2×4 – or two 4x6s and then two 2x4s on either side. Kind of an eyesore.
TOM: Why are you dropping the ceiling?
JOEL: Because we’re going to put in can lighting.
TOM: Alright. So you’re only going to have an extra couple of inches to deal with with this beam. Is that what you’re saying?
TOM: Moving it a little or moving it a lot makes absolutely no difference. I will tell you that moving a main beam like that is one of the most difficult projects you can do. It’s definitely not a do-it-yourself project. It’s one where you absolutely have to have pros involved. And if you do it wrong, you could collapse your entire roof.
The way it’s done is the structure above it is supported by temporary walls while that beam is disassembled. And then it gets sort of notched into the ceiling-joist structure above and then moved up flush with those beams. So once it’s done, once it’s flush in there, then you would have a continuous, flat ceiling. I don’t see why you couldn’t put the ceiling lights above that if you want to go that whole way.
But this is a big project, Joel. This is not a small project to move that beam. Alright? Good luck, though. Thanks very much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
JOEL: Hey, thank you so much for accepting my call.
LESLIE: Dinah wrote in saying, “My boiler supplies the hot water but it runs out and then it needs time to recover.” This is the worst problem. So she says, “I can’t really take a long shower or fill the bathtub. What do you suggest?”
Do you think this is a case of it’s not a large-enough water tank? There’s something going on with just delivering the hot water?
TOM: Sort of yes and yes. Because the thing is it’s not unusual to have your boiler supply hot water. There’s a type of sort of side arm to the boiler; it’s called a “tankless coil.” And it basically takes some of the heating water and it runs it around a coil and then the domestic water runs through a separate coil inside of that. And it sort of transfers heat from one to the next. But the thing about that is your boiler has to run all the time when you need hot water. So that means you’re kind of paying, you know, not maybe as much as you pay in the winter but it’s an expensive way to heat water.
So, here’s your options, Dinah. First of all, you can add what’s called an “indirect-fired water heater.” It looks like a regular water heater. It’s basically more efficient than a conventional gas or electric water heater and sort of adds a storage buffer for the whole family’s hot-water needs. So you won’t have to really worry so much about running out, so to speak. The water will always be there, will always be warm. And it’s just a really smart thing to do when you have a boiler that’s providing your hot water.
We did that and ran with that for many, many years until we switched to a combi boiler, which is amazing because it’s a device that’s the size of a kitchen cabinet, hangs on the wall in our basement and now provides all the heat for the entire house – all the hot-water radiators, plus all the water for our showers and dishwashing and all that kind of stuff – and never, ever runs out.
And by the way, it’s 25 percent of the cost to run than the boiler was. It’s amazing
LESLIE: Alright, Dinah. I hope this all works out for you and you can take the longest, hottest shower ever and five baths in a row.
Next up, we’ve got Lisa who writes in: “I’ve recently moved into a new build roughly 5 months ago and decided to go with wood-effect vinyl flooring. I’ve had several issues with the floor constantly lifting when I vacuum. But more troubling is that there’s a yellow tinge all over the floor that looks terrible. The flooring shop has been terrible to deal with. I don’t know if this is fixable or if I’ll have another upcoming fight on my hands to have this replaced or refunded.”
TOM: This is a very unusual situation, so I’m going to presume that we’re talking about sort of regular vinyl flooring here and not extruded vinyl planks or luxury vinyl planks or anything of that nature.
Because you’re getting this yellowish tinge all over the floor – the one thing, Leslie, that I think would make sense is if there’s a reaction with an adhesive, right? Because they would have put adhesive on the whole floor. It’s not a floating floor when it’s a vinyl-sheet floor. And you could be having a reaction with that adhesive that’s turning it yellow. You definitely need to go to the manufacturer of this product first to determine if it was correctly installed. And then you’ll know where to assign blame. It may be installers, it may be the flooring shop, I don’t know. But you’ve got to find out what’s recommended by the manufacturer, because they make the rules when it comes to installation.
LESLIE: Alright, Lisa. Well, good luck with your new project. And I hope everything works out with the flooring and you end up with what you like and it sticks to the floor and stays for good.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on yet another beautiful spring weekend. We hope it’s been pleasant where you are. Thanks so much for spending a bit of your day letting us cheer you on with your home improvement projects.
If you’ve got questions about those projects, any time of the day or the night, we wouldn’t want you to be kept awake because you don’t know how to get the caulk stain off of the rug or how to basically stop the trim from falling down around the house or where to go to grab that roof leak and stop it for good. Whenever those kinds of things that are going on around your house and you’ve got questions, the point is you can reach us all the time by going to MoneyPit.com/Ask, downloading The Money Pit app and posting your questions right there.
Until we talk again, 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 2022 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.)