TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with your how-to projects, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Whatever is going on in your money pit, we want to help you fix it up and get it to be exactly the way you want. Help yourself first: pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. You can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s program, while it serves a very important function, your kitchen backsplash is also a great part of that space where you could showcase some personality. So we’re going to have some new trends for you in backsplash styles and designs that are making this really, really easy and super fun.
LESLIE: And perhaps you’re looking to update a tired space in your home. Well, there’s lots of ways you can do that but a beautiful, new floor really makes a huge difference. We’re going to have tips on how to choose a floor that suits your lifestyle and freshens your space, in just a bit.
TOM: Plus, it is time to start taking on those spring-cleaning projects, so we’ve got a list of your most overlooked areas, room by room.
LESLIE: But we really want to hear what you are working on and give you a hand with all of your spring projects. So call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
GWEN: Well, we’re working on a kitchen remodel and I’m looking at sinks. Right now, we have a stainless-steel sink that has three compartments in it. And it just doesn’t seem to hold the water hot for very long. And I was wondering, are different things more insulated or how could we insulate a sink?
TOM: Well, sinks are generally not insulated.
TOM: What should be insulated is the wall behind the sink. And if the wall behind the sink is not insulated, then the cabinet gets that much colder and then, of course, the water doesn’t stay warm in the sink very long. It’s an interesting question, though, Gwen, and I’m thinking about how could you possibly insulate a sink.
I mean one idea comes to mind is to spray the whole thing with expandable foam insulation, because it would be under the cabinet. And once you got it done – it would be kind of a messy job but once it was done, you’d be finished. Except that you would want to make sure you keep it away from all the plumbing connections because, eventually, you’re going to want to replace the faucet and you don’t want to have to cut through all that mess, you know. Or you could just wrap it with some other type of insulation: one that’s perhaps encapsulated, like a batt insulation.
But I’ve never actually had anyone ask me how to try to keep a sink warmer but I see why it’s important to you. Because it would make sense, as you’re doing the dishes, to try to keep that water as warm as possible. But I would first want you to concentrate in making sure the wall underneath there is properly insulated.
GWEN: That makes sense. So when we pull it all out and – we’ll double-check to make sure that wall has good insulation.
TOM: Yeah, that might be part of your problem. And if you get it warmed up – insulated and warmed up – you may not have to deal with trying to insulate a sink.
GWEN: OK. Well, great. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Gwen. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
KENNETH: Hi. Well, I was going to ask you about – how do you fix squeaky floors on a second floor of a house that has rugs, without ripping up the rugs?
TOM: There’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, you need to understand what causes the squeak. And generally, it’s movement between the subfloor and the floor joist underneath.
TOM: So, to try to reduce the squeak or eliminate it – you mentioned that you’ve got rugs and you don’t want to take them up. I just want to tell you that, of course, the surefire way to stop these squeaks is to pull the rugs up and then to screw the subfloor to the floor joist using long, hardened-steel screws, which you drive in with a drill. You don’t want to do that, so I’m going to tell you a little trick of the trade on how you can fix some of the worst ones without doing that. And that is to locate the floor joist underneath the carpet.
Now, you need to do that kind of by trial and error. You can do that by tapping on the floor; you can do that with a stud finder. There’s a whole new line of Stanley stud sensors that work really well and they’ll penetrate through the carpet. You need to find that beam.
Once you find the beam, then what you do is you get yourself some 12-penny, galvanized finish nails. And I say galvanized and hot-dipped galvanized is the best. Those are the ones that are really sort of crusty on the outside. And you find that spot and you drive the nail straight through the carpet. Don’t let your wife see you do this, OK? Because she’ll get upset with you.
Straight through the carpet and then with the nail set, you punch that head right through the carpet. When you finish driving with the hammer, it’ll look like the carpet is dimpled. But if you take a nail set, you punch it through the surface of the carpet and sort of pull the carpet back up and rub it with your hands a couple of times and it’ll disappear; that divot will disappear.
What you’re doing is you’re securing that floor right above – right through the carpet without pulling the carpet up. Now, I wouldn’t want you to do this to the whole house but I’ve fixed this in lots of houses using two or three strategically driven nails. And I find if you drive it at a slight angle, it works better because the nail holds better.
KENNETH: OK. Well, I noticed they had on the old This Old House the other day on TV, they showed you how to do it with the rugs, before I called you. And they use this O’Berry Enterprising kit, which is a drill bit that’s only got three threads on it that you drill down until you find your stud. Then they have 50 screws with little socket heads on them and you drill those down into the beam and then you have a little tool that breaks the head off. And it’s ingenious. The only thing is is that I can’t find the beams.
TOM: Yeah, you need a stud sensor. So that would be a worthwhile investment of a few dollars. Those stud sensors are $10 to $20, $25 for a real good one.
KENNETH: I will and I thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit. Give us a call with your home improvement or décor question, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros. Plus, it’s 100-percent free to use.
TOM: Still to come, the latest looks for your kitchen backsplash, including concrete and wood flooring as a backsplash. It sounds strange but these trends can definitely make for a beautiful and unique look in your home. We’ll have the details, next.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Post your home improvement question to us, right now, at MoneyPit.com or call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.
LESLIE: Donna in Washington, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
DONNA: I live in an old – it’s two-story, cedar-shingle house. And anyway, years ago I used to be able to put Olympic stain on it and I kept up the stain. But then they changed the law where I couldn’t use stain anymore. So it was painted in the late – oh, probably ‘99. Well, now the paint started peeling, so I had – one of my sons came and pressure-washed it.
This was about two years now but he couldn’t get all the paint off. And it’s flaky and because of the shingles and these little grooves, you can’t get it all out. And I live in a two-tone house: a brown stain where the paint’s peeling and the green where the paint’s not peeling.
And it looks terrible. And I’ve called – I’ve phoned two different contractors and gave them the address and they must have just come by and looked at it. And they never even called back, let alone stopped by.
TOM: Chased them off, huh? Yeah.
DONNA: Yes. Plus, they have to have a special license because the house is so old it has to be – in this state anyway, it costs them thousands and thousands of dollars because – or in case there’s lead outside in the paint. Well, it was stained, not painted.
TOM: So, aside from all the drama associating with this, it’s really quite a basic problem. When you have all of these layers of paint that are on the material over all of these years, at some point you’re going to lose adhesion to the original substrate, which is the cedar. The only solution, in that case, is to remove the paint to get down to the originally natural wood.
So, pressure-washing it is fine for the loose stuff. But beyond that, you’ve got to scrape and sand. Because you’ve got to get some of that natural wood to kind of show itself through the remaining stained areas that are painted. Because once it’s ready – truly ready – where you’ve got all the loose stuff off and your surface has been abraded properly, then you can apply an oil-based primer. And the purpose of the primer is kind of a layer – it has different qualities than paint.
Primer is the glue that makes the paint stick. And so, if you use an oil-based primer on there, you’ll get very good adhesion to the cedar. Once that thoroughly dries, then you can paint on top of that. And the topcoat of paint does not have to be oil-based but the primer does. That’s what’s going to give the adhesion. But you can’t just keep putting good paint over bad paint, otherwise the problem of peeling will just continue to repeat itself. Does that make sense, Donna?
DONNA: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
DAVID: Several years ago, I discovered some termites. And it turns out the insulation of the house insulating the ducts was all soaking wet, so I took it all off and replaced it. And the termite people said, “Well, you’ve got batts under your house for insulation between the joists. And you need to take all that out of there because it tends to trap moisture and cause mold.” So they treated all the wood and I yanked all the insulation out of there.
TOM: And now you’re freezing.
DAVID: Well, yeah, it was cold in the winter and the floor noticeably colder. And so I’m debating – I had two power ventilators put in under the house. I’m not sure how well they’re working but I was toying with the idea to put the insulation batts back at least under the living room, which seems to be cold. The floor does.
TOM: Alright. So here’s a couple of things, David. First of all, I never would have told you to remove your insulation. That’s kind of crazy advice that the pest-control operators gave you. If you have high moisture under the house – is this on soil? Crawl is on the sand floor? Is the crawlspace on the sand floor or what’s the base?
DAVID: Yes, it’s a crawlspace. Starts out about 5 feet.
TOM: It’s on a dirt floor or is it on concrete slab?
DAVID: It’s a dirt floor.
TOM: And do you have a plastic vapor barrier on the dirt floor?
DAVID: Oh, yes. I do now, yes. It was kind of in bad shape when I replaced it but I’ve got it all put down now on the floor, on the dirt.
TOM: Yeah, you do now. Alright. So here’s all the steps that you need to take. First of all, to reduce the moisture, you start not in the crawlspace but outside the house. You check that your gutters are – that your gutters exist, the downspouts are extended 4 to 5 feet away from the house, not just dropping right at the corner of the foundation as most do. And you make sure that the soil slopes away from the exterior wall. Those things will reduce the amount of moisture that gets in there.
Next, you’ve got a vapor barrier. And the vapor barrier should be all across the floor of the crawlspace and up the walls about a foot. You can seal the lip to the wall so that moisture doesn’t come out around that. You mentioned you had power ventilators. That’s good if you install those on a humidistat switch. So when the moisture comes up, those ventilators will kick on and draw it out.
Now, as to the fiberglass insulation, you have another option and that is spray-foam insulation. You could opt to not use fiberglass, which does have to be vented and kept very dry. And you could switch to an Icynene closed-cell, spray-foam insulation. Closed-cell, spray-foam insulation is very moisture-resistant and has the added benefit of stopping drafts from getting through it, up into the house. And it’s sprayed on very thin and then it expands. It has about 100:1 expansion ratio and as it expands, it insulates and seals.
We have a very old house, where my family lives up in New Jersey, and this house is 125-or-so years old. And we had it insulated with fiberglass until I converted to Icynene and really, I’ve never been happier. It’s been quite warm and comfortable. In fact, our air-conditioning bill last summer was about 50 percent of the cost it was the year before, when we did not have the Icynene. So I think that Icynene is a good product for this particular application because it is going to seal out that moisture and it’s going to leave the floor really super-warm. And it’s going to really step up your comfort.
DAVID: Who makes that product?
TOM: Icynene – I-c-y-n-e-n-e. Go to Icynene.com. They have a dealer locator. You can have a pro come out to your house and scope it out.
DAVID: OK. Thanks a lot.
TOM: It’s good stuff, David. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, while it serves an important function, your kitchen backsplash is also a great way to showcase some personality. New trends in backsplash styles and designs are making it really easy to do.
TOM: Yep. And some of these trends are not just for materials but how the backsplash is actually installed. For example, we’re seeing floor-to-ceiling or countertop-to-ceiling coverage with tile. It’s very popular now and it gives a uniform, very finished look to any kitchen while it creates the illusion of a very high ceiling.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It really does look so pretty. And you find that sometimes the simpler the tile in that application, the better it looks.
Now, we were also seeing new tile patterns, like herringbone, columns, basket weave. And all these other styles and designs of installation really bring texture and interest to the space. And I think it’s also important to think about – you know, we mix materials and we mix finishes in all the other spaces of our house. So why not think of doing the same in your kitchen with the backsplash? Glass tile added alongside porcelain or marble or granite or even wood carries a super-visual appeal.
TOM: Yeah. And there’s also trends towards unconventional materials. So we’re seeing mirrors and concrete and even reclaimed or salvaged wood. These can all work well as non-traditional backsplash materials. And the metallics are in, also, like steel and bronze and the printed tin.
I love the printed tin. It’s such an old-world style but just very, very classic style. And the steel does lend itself well to an industrial look. Because it’s printed tin, it’s a throwback to the tin ceilings of the years past. So it kind of combines and connects the old and the new. I love when you have a fairly clean and modern-looking kitchen but you’ve got this sort of very classic look in the tin tile. It’s very, very attractive.
LESLIE: Cathy in Massachusetts is on the line with a crumbling basement wall. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
CATHY: Our house was sold about 1802. That’s the earliest records that we have. And the chimneys are literally turning to dust in the basement. The bricks themselves. They’re not just crumbling; they are – they have become dust. And I need to know, is there anything we can do to salvage them? Or if we take them down, does it compromise the stability of the whole building?
TOM: Well, it definitely would not compromise the stability of the building because chimneys are not part of the structure. They just hold themselves up. Now, are these active chimneys or inactive chimneys? Are they being used for a fireplace or for the heating system?
CATHY: No. We are afraid to use them for fireplaces.
TOM: OK. No, that’s wise. Well, how is your heating system being vented, Cathy, if it’s not through the chimney?
CATHY: There’s two fireplaces in the building that extend up to the second floor, to the roof. And we have a gas boiler that is vented through one of them but we can actually vent it to the outside.
TOM: Is the chimney that’s deteriorating the one that the gas boiler is in?
CATHY: Both of them are. One of them was a cooking oven back in the 1800s. They used it for a school for young girls and taught them the fine arts of cooking. And it – that’s the large, walk-in fireplace and it’s just totally crumbled. The bricks are falling out and a lot of it is just dust. The other one is a little better shape but it’s still turning to dust.
TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, it would be highly unlikely that either of them are safe to use, because they’re not lined.
Now, the process of lining – there’s a number of ways to do that but one process of lining is where they drop a tube down the middle of the chimney itself and they pour a concrete kind of slurry mix around the outside of the tube and then deflate the tube and pull it out. That process can actually make the chimney stronger. If that’s something you’re interested in, you could explore that. It’s probably costly.
If you want to just get rid of the chimneys and the fireplaces, then that’s totally fine. And what you’ll do is essentially disassemble them from the top down and then roof over the openings. As long as you’re not going to use them and you have no plans for it, I see no reason to keep them.
CATHY: Alright. Sounds like a good plan for us.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joe in Pennsylvania is on the line with a plumbing question.
JOE: When the kids are taking a shower, what happens is you pull the tub up – you know, the drain thing? You pull it up and then what happens is when you pull that up, then they can – you can take a bath and it shuts it off. Well, then when you get – they get done or whatever, to let the water out, you’ve got to push it down. Well, it doesn’t stay down and then it pops back up.
And so with – sometimes, we wet a washcloth and we’ll put it on the end of the little knob to push the thing down. And sometimes, that’ll hold it but sometimes it just pops up and then you’re stuck waiting on it for it to drain unless you sit there and hold it down with your hand.
TOM: Joe, in that type of situation, what you need to do is to disassemble the assembly of the stopper. And that usually starts by loosening the screws which hold the overflow assembly in place. Is there a metal plate on the back of the tub?
TOM: So that metal plate, usually you take that apart and you pull the assembly out and then clean it. And sometimes, you’ve got to scrub it with a toothbrush to get everything working properly again. Because it’s getting hung up and that’s why it won’t open again and drain the tub out without you holding that thing down.
You’ll often get like a calcium deposit on there from the water stains or sediment or soap scum. There’s a lot of gunk that gets in there. But if you take that apart – remember how you took it apart because you’re going to put it back together the same way – and clean it, that should solve it.
JOE: Alright. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, are you looking to update a tired space? Well, a beautiful, new floor can do just that. We’re going to have tips on how to choose a floor that suits your lifestyle and freshens your space, just ahead.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: So I’m getting ready to empty out my garage, following our own spring-cleaning advice, Leslie. So I can hopefully get rid of a few things but then put down a beautiful garage floor.
TOM: Because the floor was painted years ago but it’s definitely time for another coat.
LESLIE: It’s time for a redo?
TOM: And the technology has gotten better. So I’m going to use some of the epoxy paint from QUIKRETE. Looking forward to a real shiny, new floor. And then with a beautiful, new floor, I think that maybe – I’d like to think that the family won’t be putting as much junk in there. They’ll be thinking, “This floor is too nice to put my junk back in here,” and maybe they’ll do something with it besides filling up Dad’s garage.
LESLIE: Doesn’t the junk get smaller as your kids get bigger? Please tell me that.
TOM: No, it gets bigger. Oh, my God, it gets so much bigger.
TOM: Well, you know I had a daughter that moved out of college and finished up. But the younger son wanted to keep her bean-bag chair. It’s the largest bean-bag chair I’ve ever seen in human history. It’s got to be about 6 square feet all in.
LESLIE: So why doesn’t he have it at school?
TOM: Well, because they can’t stay there all summer but Dad’s garage is just sitting there waiting for it, with plenty of room.
TOM: So, filling it up. And I’m sure that …
LESLIE: I just want my space back.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. I want to get my shop going again in there, so I’m going to have to get rid of all that furniture.
LESLIE: Yeah. Good luck.
JEFF: Well, a couple months ago, we had a brand-new roof put on our house. They completely stripped off the old shingles, re-tar papered everything and now we have water coming in our drywall in our bedroom.
TOM: So, I presume you’ve called the roofer back. What’s the roofer’s position been on trying to get to the bottom of this leak?
JEFF: Well, they’re supposed to come back out on Wednesday and strip it off around the dormer. That’s where it seems like the water’s coming in. But as we all know, water can travel before it finally finds a seam to come in.
TOM: So, does it look like the leak is showing up underneath where the dormer intersects with the roof?
JEFF: I’m thinking so.
TOM: Well, look, they may not have put the flashing assembly back together correctly. They obviously had to disturb all that flashing – the old flashing. And unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of times when roofers today just don’t do a terrific job on the flashing, on those details. It’s really, really important that they get them just right. And if these guys didn’t do that, then that might very well be what the cause of this leak is. Because not only do you have to protect against just regular rainfall kind of falling with gravity, you also have to protect against wind-driven rain, which is particularly troubling around a dormer.
So, I think it’s their responsibility. I don’t think they get to blame it on the siding or anything else. They broke it, they bought it, you know? They took it apart, they need to get it back together so it doesn’t leak. And if that means they have to pull off some of that siding and flash up under it, then that’s on them, not on you, OK?
JEFF: Right. OK. Perfect. That’s what I’ll do then.
TOM: Alright, Jeff. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Are you looking to update a tired space? Well, a beautiful, new floor can do just that. We’ve got tips on how to choose a floor that can stand up to your lifestyle and freshen your space, in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators.
TOM: Well, the right floor can definitely make a big difference in your home, both in décor and in durability. Because if you think about it, floors are really one of the largest surfaces in any room and it’s one of the first things that people notice when they walk into that space. But there are more options than ever now to choose from, in both hardwood and wood-look flooring to choose from.
LESLIE: That’s right. But I mean it all sounds pretty overwhelming and maybe you’re just not quite sure where to begin. So let’s start by thinking about the tone and the color of the flooring that you want.
Now, a lighter hue is going to make that space feel larger and brighter, while the darker tones are going to add warmth and a stylish sophistication to the space. Now, distressed floors offer a rustic appeal and smooth finishes have a refined quality to them. Now, this is where it gets tricky because I always find that you can put a distressed floor down and have a super-modern décor look with your furnishings. It’s nice to kind of mix those things up and that’s where it can get tricky. But if you know you have a specific look you want for that floor, this is a great place to showcase it.
Now, if you love color, you can even use blue as your foundation. We’re seeing flooring like crushed indigo bamboo and then go ahead and maybe use teal as a decorative accent or even a wall color. Now, you’ll find that ocean colors are super-vibrant. They’re versatile but they also go very nicely with brown, gray, white flooring and all of those colors of décor. It’s sort of a nice balance there.
Now, you can also use your flooring to enhance the architecture and the visual warmth of your space. If you think about new ways to install those planks – maybe on the wall or the ceiling or on a bar front or use it as a backsplash – there’s so many other places you can install it to give your space a fresh, new look.
TOM: You also want to consider your lifestyle. If you entertain a lot, do you have kids? Do you have pets? If so, you’re going to want a floor that can withstand the scratches and the stains and the dents and one that’s waterproof or even water-resistant.
Now, the good news is that there’s a big selection of flooring that provides all of these durability benefits yet it still looks and it feels like real hardwood.
LESLIE: And today’s Flooring Tip has been presented by Lumber Liquidators, where you’ll find more than 400 varieties of hardwood, bamboo, laminate, wood-look waterproof flooring and more. Lumber Liquidators stays focused on top trends and has innovative options for every customer, whether you want a traditional red oak, an exotic Brazilian cherry or a wide-width, European-oak look, they’ve got the right style to fit your design preference.
TOM: And if you need it installed, the flooring experts at Lumber Liquidators can help with that, too. Visit Lumber Liquidators stores nationwide today or online at LumberLiquidators.com.
MARGIE: What happened is – it’s sort of like a barbecue gone bad inside my house.
MARGIE: I had some deer meat in a big pot on the stove. It was – it had a cover on it. And it – I stepped out for a while and I came back and there was smoke everywhere in my house. And we opened everything; we opened all the windows and doors and all of that. And what I need is to find out how to get rid of the smoke smell. It is just disgusting; it’s terrible.
And I – we’ve done what we can. I’m washing – my poor washing machine is going nuts. I just wash, wash, wash everything. And we Febrezed on the furniture and – but my wood furniture I don’t know what to do about and my walls and my painted woodwork. Because the day that it happened, I washed up the floor with vinegar and water. But it seems like the longer it goes, that it’s getting harder on the surfaces that it’s touched. And I just need some help to figure out how to clean it up, especially on the wood furniture, the walls and the painted woodwork.
TOM: Well, on the furniture, on the woodwork, I think something like Murphy’s Oil Soap would be a good choice. That’s a mild solution that smells pleasant and it’s designed specifically to clean wood surfaces.
However, I suspect that the source of most of the smell is going to be in – because of materials that are harder to clean, like fabrics, rugs, couches, upholstery, the pillows, that sort of thing. And for those, you really need to have a professional company come in and clean them. There are companies like – I think ServiceMaster is one of them that specializes in fire-and-smoke cleaning and water cleanup. And they have the right equipment, with the right types of chemicals, to take the odors out of those sorts of things. What you can do is clean those hard surfaces on your own.
As far as the walls are concerned, I would mix up a fairly weak TSP solution – trisodium phosphate. You can pick that up in the painting section of any hardware store or home center and wash the walls down with that. OK?
MARGIE: Yes. Thank you so very, very much. I really appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Margie. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, not sure where to start on your spring-cleaning list? Well, the first day of spring is March 20th. So, we’re going to get you ready with room-by-room spring-cleaning tips to make sure your home is spic and span, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: You can get matched with background-checked home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.
TOM: No matter what type of job needs to be done at your home, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.
ROBIN: In our bathroom, there just seems to be a lot of moisture. I don’t know if the exhaust fan is working properly or not. On one of your shows, you’d mentioned Concrobium, so I sprayed that in the shower and that seems to help stave it off. But we use a fan, we use the exhaust fan and we use a dehumidifier.
And I noticed on the outside, I guess, outtake vents, there’s a whole bunch of black stuff. And then, also, in our sinks, underneath the faucet, there’s mold back in behind that hole. So I’m wondering, is this going to be a health concern or how do I stop some of this mold?
TOM: Well, the solution comes down to managing moisture and it sounds like you’re doing the right things. But one common mistake that people make with exhaust fans is that they don’t leave them on long enough after you take a bath or a shower. They really have to stay on, sometimes, 15 or 20 minutes to properly dry out the room.
ROBIN: Well, I know – well, I can’t speak for my husband but I know that I do, just because I’ve got a fan running, I’ve got a dehumidifier and I’ve – we’ve also got the exhaust fan and it is the biggest one that you can have. And I’m wondering if just because of our moist area we need to get two of them so it’s directly over the shower? I don’t know. But I’m worried that through the whole pipe that leads to the outside, is that all filled with mold in there if the outside vent shows mold?
TOM: Well, the vent that’s taking the air from the bathroom out, is that what you’re seeing on the outside wall?
ROBIN: I’m not seeing on the wall, just on the vent itself, where the – I guess where the air goes out to the outside? That whole vent is all moldy looking.
TOM: Well, a lot of people look at vents that are dirty and call it “mold.” I think it would be unusual for it to be moldy, because you would have to have a pretty strong food source there. And the only thing you’re going to have coming out that vent is a bit of dust, which could be a mold source but it’s very unusual for it to really develop. So I think you might just be seeing a dirty vent. It’s much more likely that what you’re seeing there is dirt and not mold.
But I would say this: if you want to eliminate the possibility of moisture inside the bathroom, what you want to do is you want to make sure that the exhaust fan – the bathroom fan – is wired to a humidistat.
And if you take a look at the fans that are made by Broan-NuTone, they actually have a new one coming out, I know, that has a humidistatic control. And I think they have some others, as well. But we just saw one last week, though, at a major trade show called the International Builders’ Show that they were releasing for the first time.
But if you get one of these fans that’s got a humidistatic control in it, then you don’t have to worry about whether or not somebody’s leaving it on or not. It just stays on until the moisture goes down and then automatically goes off. So, it kind of takes you out of the equation.
TOM: And your husband. Because he could be the problem.
ROBIN: I don’t have to be a grouch and say, “Turn that back on.” OK.
TOM: You do not. You do not.
ROBIN: Alright. Well, I will try those.
TOM: Robin, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, have you been feeling the itch to give your house that really good once-over cleaning that comes with spring? It is time, so we’ve got some dos and don’ts to make that job go very smoothly.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, this is one everybody forgets about: it’s that often overlooked upholstery. So, go ahead, rent an upholstery-cleaning machine but don’t do anything without testing a small patch first. You want to avoid any surprises. I mean you never know how fabric is going to react, so just test a spot that you’re not going to see should something go wrong.
Now, for the pillows, most of those can be removed from the slipcovers and machine-washed. Just make sure you look at the label because some of them do need dry-cleaning.
TOM: Now, for windows, here’s a tip: try not to clean them when the sun is shining through. The sun actually causes the cleaner to evaporate very quickly and that leaves streaks and a very dull residue.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Ceiling fans. You guys got them. Make that cleaning easier by dusting the blades once a season with a U-shaped brush. And after washing the blades, don’t forget to dry them as wet blades will just attract dust when you’re cleaning with them again.
TOM: And for more quick spring-cleaning tips, take a look at our blog at Money Pit.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Well, one spring-cleaning tool to add to your arsenal is a good vacuum cleaner. Not sure what to look for? We’ve got advice on picking the right one for you, after this.
TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Call in your home repair or your home improvement question, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Or you could post your question in The Money Pit community, which is exactly what Tyler did.
LESLIE: That’s right. Tyler writes: “Is there a DIY solution for getting rid of ants or do I need an exterminator?”
TOM: Well, absolutely, there are a number of things you can try yourself. One that comes to mind is Borax. It’s a pretty good insecticide for ants. You can spread some Borax around where they seem to be coming through and see if that has an effect.
But while there’s little harm or foul in trying these less toxic, natural approaches, if you do opt for a pro, you can be pretty confident that they’re going to use the exact right amount of product needed to eliminate the bugs. You know, a lot of people avoid exterminators out of fear of the broad-spectrum, like DDT-type, pesticides that were used many years ago. But today, those pesticides have evolved by leaps and bounds. And they’re just a lot safer to use.
So, if you can’t get rid of them, have a pro come in. They know exactly what to put down, to put it in the right amounts at the right place, the right time. And your ants will go bye-bye.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post from Janice who writes: “I’m interested in getting a whole-house surge protector that can help me avoid blackouts. What do I need to know beforehand?”
TOM: Well, the first thing you need to know is that surge protectors are not going to help you avoid blackouts. They’re going to help protect your electric equipment if you get a lightning strike. But the surge protector doesn’t do that. If you want to protect yourself against blackouts, you’ve got to think about a generator. And today, there’s really no reason not to have a whole-house generator. Prices have come down. And this way, the generators will kick on about 15 seconds after the power goes out and you’ll really never be inconvenienced by being out of power again.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you don’t even have to pick and choose which circuits. You can buy one that’ll supply the whole house.
TOM: Well, if your house has been closed up and gathering dust all winter, it’s time for spring cleaning. Leslie has tips on the best way to get that job done quickly and easily, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, we all love to go shopping. I know the ladies do, anyway. And this might not be the …
TOM: And the guys tolerate it.
LESLIE: Yes, yes, yes. Well, here’s one thing that might not be the most glamorous thing you buy but the right vacuum cleaner, guys, is going to make your life so much easier. And it’ll actually be a chore that you enjoy if you’ve got the right tool for the job.
So let’s talk about it. First, you want to consider the type of vacuum. If you’ve got wall-to-wall carpeting throughout, an upright vacuum is going to do the trick for you. Now, a canister is better if you’ve got varied flooring throughout your home. You’re going to find that you’re able to move more efficiently through all the different types of flooring with that canister shape.
Next step, you want to consider saying no to some of the attachments that are offered. For example, don’t go and pay for a drapery attachment if you’ve only got blinds. A lot of times, you’re paying for these features. And if it’s not something you’re going to use, don’t spend that extra cash.
Now, here is a biggie, guys: it’s important to learn about the filtration systems that vacuums offer. Now, it’s also important to learn a bit about the filtration systems that vacuums offer. You’re going to find that some units have better and some have worse. If you find one that has a HEPA-filtration system, they’re going to cost a little bit more but they’re great for reducing allergens in your home.
So like anything else, do your homework first. Find the right vacuum for you. Make sure you get the spare parts and the spare bag, so that you’re ready to go when you’re working with your vacuum, and then you’ll actually enjoy the cleaning.
TOM: This is The Money Pit. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about the bathroom. It’s the most humid place in the house, which is why it’s also where paint peels and the mold just loves to grow. We’ll have tips on the best way to keep that moisture well under control, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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