- Water Odors: Does your water smell like rotten eggs? Learn the reasons why and how to stop the stink.
- HVAC System: A smart new system can monitor HVAC maintenance and much more. We’ve got all the details on this great smart home option.
- Washing Machines: When shopping for a new washing machine, you get what you pay for. Find out the four best features to look for.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Thermostat: Should you be replacing your old thermostat? Carl must be sure he gets the right thermostat for a heat pump and have it installed correctly.
- Window Drafts: Brrrrr! Belinda is freezing from the drafts through her apartment windows. We suggest easy ways to use shrink film or interior caulk weatherstripping to keep out the wind.
- Cedar Shingles: Phillip loves the look of red cedar shingles that darken over time, but it’s up to Mother Nature to get the look he wants.
- Flooring: How should you retile an unlevel floor? Jan can use a floor-leveling compound or just level the appliances and other items in uneven areas.
- Energy Savings: What is a home energy audit and how much does it cost? We advise Rob to start with his local utility company or someone not connected with a repair service, and tell him some of the tests that can be done.
- Bathroom Walls: Can untreated knotty pine be used for bathroom walls and ceilings? We explain to Melanie why it’s a bad idea but suggest products that can give her a similar look.
- Metal Roof: The metal roof on the sunroom gets so noisy when it rains! Bela can make things quieter by adding plywood decking, an ice and water shield, and asphalt shingles.
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’re here to focus on you, your home and improving it. That’s why it’s called a “home improvement show.” See how it comes together? I know, it’s brilliant. What can I say? Figured it out a long time ago. It just kind of worked.
But all kidding aside, we really do want to help you tackle those projects around your house that maybe you want to get done but don’t know where to start. Or maybe you started them and it’s not going so well. Or very often, you’ll start a project and you’ll open up a wall or a floor and be surprised by something you find, like rot or insects or whatever. Or maybe you want to tackle a project and use a pro but you don’t know how to find the right pro, you don’t know what to ask the pro.
These are all great questions because this is a participation program. And we rely on you to raise those questions for us to talk about. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or you could also post your questions at MoneyPit.com/Ask by clicking the blue microphone button.
Coming up on today’s show, if there’s one thing in our home we want to be pure and fresh every time we reach for it, it’s our water, right? But that’s not always the case. So we’re going to explain how to offset the odor and hopefully get rid of it altogether.
LESLIE: And also ahead, wouldn’t it be nice if your HVAC system reminded you when it was time for maintenance or alerted your dealer when a repair is needed? Well, we’re going to highlight a brand-new smart-home system that does just that.
TOM: And are you guys ready for a new washing machine? We’re going to take a look at the most popular features, to help you decide which are the best for your laundry needs, so you know what to pay for and what not to.
LESLIE: Alright. But first, we want to help you create your best home ever. Whether you live in a house, a condo or an apartment, we can help you with answers to questions about remodeling, renovation and décor.
TOM: But first, you’ve got to help yourself by reaching out to us. You can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974. Or better yet, go to MoneyPit.com/Ask, click the blue microphone button and leave us your question right there.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Carl in Arkansas is on the line with a thermostat question.
How can we help you?
CARL: I bought an older house and it’s – the thermostat that’s in it now for the heating and air conditioner is an old mercury switch. And what I bought is a Honeywell 5-2 switch, a programmer for 5 weekdays and then 2 weekend days. And what I’m wanting to know is, can I – is that something I can change out myself or is that something I need to hire an electrician to come do? The package says easy to install but I’ve looked it over and it doesn’t look like it’s that easy to me.
TOM: Well, look, if you’re uncomfortable with it, I would not hire an electrician. Kind of heat do you have? Is it gas? Oil? What is it?
CARL: It’s electric.
TOM: Oh, it’s electric heat. What kind of furnace do you have?
TOM: Is this a heat pump?
CARL: No, no, no. It’s not a heat pump. That’s one thing I didn’t want was a heat pump.
TOM: It’s a straight electric furnace?
CARL: Right. Straight electric furnace and it has an outside unit, which is also a Trane.
TOM: Uh-oh. Wait a minute. Listen to me. If you’re telling me you have an outside condensing unit that works with this, you’ve got a heat pump. You’ve got the compressor outside and then the furnace inside.
Now, a heat pump is a combination heat pump/electric furnace. That’s the way they’re designed to work. And the reason that that’s important is because the thermostat that you chose – and I don’t know that this is the case or not but it has to be rated for a heat pump.
Because the way heat pumps work is when you set your heat – let’s say you set your heat at 68 degrees. It starts getting cold outside, right? Then inside the house, it falls to 67, the heat pump comes on. Still cold, falls to 66, heat pump stays on. Still cold, falls to 65, now it’s at more than 2-degrees split between what it was set at and what it is. The heat pump says, “I can’t keep up with this. I’m going to bring on my friend, the electric furnace.” So now the electric-furnace coils kick on and then bring the house up to temperature.
But by you not having the right thermostat, what can happen is you can run more of the electric furnace and less of the heat pump, which will significantly increase your electric bill. So, the thermostat you choose has got to be designed for a heat pump.
So I would say your first thing to do is to confirm – I don’t know if you have an HVAC contractor that you work with but get that system serviced. All these compressors have to be serviced once a year. If you haven’t done it, get it serviced, get the refrigerant checked out. While that guy is in the house, have him install a heat pump-rated thermostat. Because you’re obviously uncomfortable with it and we don’t want you to have all those wires apart and just have a problem where you’ve got no heat or no air.
So I wouldn’t do it myself, because you’re uncomfortable with it. And when in doubt, don’t do it. But make sure you use the right thermostat. Otherwise, you may drive up those costs unexpectedly. OK?
CARL: OK. Well, I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, even if you can do it yourself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do it yourself. And just like Carl said, if he read the instructions and it still seems confusing to him, then don’t do it. If you’re not comfortable with it – and especially if it’s something like your furnace where if you hook up the wires wrong – you’re probably not going to break it but you’re not going to have heat and that could be very unpleasant.
LESLIE: Belinda in Kansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BELINDA: I’m living in this apartment. It’s a senior complex. It was an old school at one time. It’s three stories. It was completely gutted. Everything’s new on the inside. New double-pane windows. But I’m – it’s in the northeast corner of the building and I’m having an awful lot of problems with drafts and then cold air coming from the walls, underneath the windows. Because it’s brick and stone on the outside and so there’s the air pocket and the inside wall. And so, at night it’s like living inside a refrigerator and try – really, really. And trying to …
TOM: That does not sound very pleasant.
BELINDA: It’s not. It’s not. I lay in bed at night and I don’t sleep. It’s because I’m just listening – it’s the heat pump, too, that they put in these. And so it’s going all night long; it never shuts off. And so I’m just wondering if they would – or they probably could, if they would. Because the National Historic Association is also in on this, being it’s an old building.
TOM: So you’re essentially wondering, Belinda, what you can do because you’re a tenant, right? So you don’t own the building.
BELINDA: Right, right.
TOM: You can’t replace the windows. So what are your options? So you have a couple of options.
So, first of all, if you wanted to spend some money, you could order interior storm windows. But of course, your – it’d have to be custom-made to fit the windows and they may be pricey. If you want an inexpensive option, there’s two ways to go. One thing is you could use shrink film, which is basically a window film that gets, essentially, double face-taped to the inside trim and then you use a hair dryer to shrink it so it’s taut and clear.
And the other thing that you can use is weather-stripping – caulk weather-stripping. Basically, it’s a temporary caulk product and it’s clear, like a silicone but it’s not silicone. And you essentially caulk your windows shut with this temporary caulk. And then, in the spring, you can peel it right off. It comes off like in a rubbery strip.
Now, the only thing bad about using the temporary caulk is that you will not be able to open or close the window once it’s done, because it’s pretty much sealed shut. So you don’t want to do this to your bedroom window where you may have to use it to get out in the event of an emergency.
BELINDA: Actually, they pretty much tried all that. See, the problem is the National Historic Association won’t let them do a lot of stuff. And they hadn’t caulked around the cracks, where the frame of the windows meet the window sill and along the walls. So they came up, they did that.
TOM: So let me say that again, Belinda. We’re not talking about caulking outside the window; we’re talking about caulking inside the window. So, basically, right around the sash, where the sash meets the sill, where the sash meets the jamb, those are the areas that you typically would not caulk, you would never caulk. But if you use the temporary weather-stripping caulk, you can caulk right over those seams where all of the air gets in. And then, again, in the spring, you grab a little end of it and you peel it and it comes off in one – usually one – solid piece.
It works quite well. You may have to order it if you don’t find it on your store shelves. I know Red Devil makes one called Seal ‘N Peel. So you could look at – look up that brand.
Belinda, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Time to talk to Phillip in Rhode Island about a roofing question.
What can we do for you?
PHILLIP: Well, in Rhode Island, in my neighborhood in Jamestown, there’s a lot of beautiful, red cedar-shingled houses. And I just put brand-new, red-cedar shingles on my house, on my roof. I noticed some of the houses age beautifully. Like when I – what I mean in beautifully is they age darker red and sometimes little bits of black or streaks of black and red and deep, deep red. And some of them don’t age that way. It’s like – and I’m just wondering if you guys know anything about how to get them to age the way I want them to. I don’t want them to age light; I want them to age darker red.
TOM: Yeah, we don’t always get to choose how we age, right? And that applies to our shingles, as well.
So when you choose red cedar, that gets darker over time and it will turn to a very dark gray, typically, as it’s exposed to sunlight. I guess it’s possible that you could apply a stain to the cedar shingles, even though they’re roofing shingles, but most people don’t do that.
So, what we typically get calls about, when it comes to cedar, is how to not to have – how to prevent them from getting darker. And one way to do that is to replace the vent across the ridge of the roof. Or if you don’t have a vent there, you can essentially do the same thing with a strip of copper.
If you were to overlay the peak of the roof with, say, a 12-inch-wide strip of copper – so half goes on one side and half goes on the other – what happens is as rainwater strikes that, it releases some of the copper. And that acts as a mild mildicide and helps to keep the roof shingles clean and prevents algae growth.
PHILLIP: Oh. But it still – then they wouldn’t age dark; they’d stay lighter.
TOM: It would be less likely to get as dark and they certainly wouldn’t grow an algae. Perhaps you may have noticed that sometimes when you look at houses, especially around chimneys that have metal flashing, you’ll see bright streaks at the bottom of the chimney. That’s for the same reason. What happens is that metal flashing releases some of its copper and then cleans that area under the chimney. That’s why it gets streaky there. But if you do it across the whole peak of the roof, then it will sort of clean evenly.
PHILLIP: It’ll clean even. But I’m looking for that aged look: the kind of the darker-shingle aged look, the darker color. And I guess it’s just up to Mother Nature is what you’re saying.
TOM: It really is.
TOM: It really is.
PHILLIP: I appreciate it. Thanks very much, you guys.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if there’s one thing in our home that we want to be pure and fresh every time we reach for it, it’s the water. Now, if your water smells more like rotten eggs, there’s a simple solution.
TOM: Yeah. First, let’s talk about what that smell is. It’s actually sulfur. And it rears its stinky head more often in houses that are located on a groundwater supply. And it does this because the groundwater can pick up hydrogen sulfide, which is a very naturally occurring gas. And that hydrogen sulfide gets absorbed into the water and comes up into your house. And it smells awful. It’s not dangerous. It’s not even harmful to your health. It’s just very annoying and very disgustingly smelly.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, now that we know what that is, let’s talk about how you treat it.
Now, if the smell seems to be coming from both your hot and your cold water, you’ve got to call a well contractor. They’re going to install a filter that minimizes that sulfur that reaches into your house.
However, if that smelly water is only coming from the hot side, you probably need to replace the sacrificial anode rod. And this is inside your hot-water heater. Now, the sacrificial anode rod – I mean listen to the name on it. Sacrificial means it’s going to wear out. You’re going to get rid of it.
LESLIE: So, these sacrificial anode rods, they’re typically made of magnesium, which the hydrogen sulfide attacks. And that’s going to release that rotten-egg smell and then it eats away at the rod, as well.
TOM: And that’s why they’re called “sacrificial.” They actually lay down their lives for fresh-smelling water.
LESLIE: Hey, somebody’s got to do it.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
Now, when you replace that old magnesium rod, think about buying one that’s an aluminum sacrificial-anode rod. These are much more resistant to hydrogen sulfide and they get the job done without the risk of any sulfur sticking to them and being released into your home. They cost a little bit more – about 30 bucks – but they can be found at any plumbing-supply store.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jan in South Dakota on the line who needs some help with leveling a basement floor. Not a terribly difficult project but a big one.
How can we help you?
JAN: We’re planning to remodel the lower level of a townhouse. And what we’d like to do is retile the traffic areas, which is the hallway and also a bathroom and utility room. But there’s a bedroom with a closet on an outside wall and a utility room in the – in sort of the center of the rooms that has an unlevel floor.
So my question is: is there a way to relevel the concrete floor before we resurface it?
TOM: Yeah. There’s a product called a “leveling compound” – a “floor-leveling compound” – that, essentially, you can mix up and pour on the floor and trowel out and use it to level floors. And so that’s really your only option. But how out of level is this floor? Is it really visually bothersome? Because I would suspect that it’s a big project for you to level it and it might be easier just to sort of adjust things around it.
JAN: OK. Like relevel the appliances and …?
TOM: Yeah, exactly. It’s just a – it’s kind of a pain in the neck to level the entire floor.
JAN: Is it expensive?
TOM: To have it professionally done, I would say yes. To do it yourself, no. But then again, it’s not the kind of thing that you could just pick up and do. It does require some skills to get it done right.
JAN: You would just get a long board to use as a trowel?
TOM: There are products that are self-leveling products and they’re usually good for more minor leveling jobs, say, up to being 1 inch out of level. So if you choose a floor-leveling compound that’s designed for self-leveling, essentially, what you do is you mix it up, say, like in a 5-gallon bucket and then you pour it out and it will seek its own level. But you have to keep going back, mixing more, pouring it, mixing more, pouring it. And then you can kind of trowel it out as it starts to level out. And then, at one point, it will meet, you know, the original floor.
So, that’s an option for you is to use a self-leveling compound.
JAN: That sounds great.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rob from Utah is on the line who’s looking to save some green by going green and needs some help with an energy audit.
How are you doing today, Rob?
ROB: We are interested in getting a home energy audit and mostly trying to figure out what to expect. Like how much should it cost?
TOM: Well, that’s a great question. Now, have you looked around for audit providers?
ROB: I haven’t really reached out to people yet but tried to get in a little bit. But no, not really.
TOM: OK. So I would start with your local utility company. Because sometimes, they provide home energy audits themselves or will provide those at a discount. What I would like to see you find is someone that’s not tied in with a repair operation, so you get somebody that’s truly independent. There are some energy auditors that work for the same companies that offer insulation services and weather-stripping and that sort of thing. And what you really want to do is find someone who’s completely independent.
The scale of the energy audit can vary dramatically. A couple of things that I would look for – one thing that is really good to get is what’s called a “blower door test.” And this is where they take a device and pressurize your house with air or depressurize it and can measure the amount of leakage your house has. And that can help you pinpoint the worst offenders and teach you how to get those sealed up.
Other parts of an energy audit would determine how energy-efficient your windows are, how much insulation you have in your attic space. Does it match with the right kind of ventilation? How efficient are your appliances? It really looks at all of those areas.
And then it should boil down to a specific list of recommendations that are prioritized. Because I think a lot of times when we try to make our homes more efficient, we guess. We guess at where we’re suffering the most, whether it’s new windows or insulation or whatever we think we need or a salesperson tries to sell you. It ends up being a guess. But an energy audit really can nail that down with some cold, hard facts and help you prioritize where to put the money.
ROB: OK. Great. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck, Rob. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, wouldn’t it be nice if your HVAC system reminded you when it was time for maintenance? And better yet, wouldn’t it be great if a system alerted your dealer when service or repair was needed? And even enabled service techs to login remotely and see exactly what was going on?
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, we’re not talking about a futuristic idea here. Technology that does just that and much, much more was just released by Carrier at the International Builders’ Show. It’s called InteliSense. And with us to talk about that is Christine Rasche, the associate director of controls for Carrier.
CHRISTINE: Hi. Thanks for having me.
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh, you are so welcome. We’re happy you’re joining us.
So, Christine, this technology, it’s really changing the way that HVAC dealers and technicians help customers, right?
CHRISTINE: Yes, absolutely. It is changing the way that our technicians can go into your home and make your life easier, more comfortable and get it done faster.
TOM: In my view, it’s just kind of been a really major advancement in smart-home technology. We’re all used to using smart-home technology to control our thermostats, maybe our garage-door opener.
But now, the entire HVAC system that provides heating and cooling to our house is going to benefit from this same kind of technology and enable us to have a lot more information than we ever had before about the function, the maintenance, the efficiency of our system. And if there are any needed repairs, you’re going to get an early alert of that before serious damage is done, right?
CHRISTINE: Absolutely. What we’ve really done is we’ve taken this technology inside of our equipment and the years and years of expertise we have designing that. We’ve combined it with our digital technology tools that we’ve provided to our dealers. And then with the ecobee for Carrier Thermostat, we’re able to communicate what’s happening with that equipment to our digital tools so that our dealers are better able to serve our homeowners. They can predict what’s going wrong, which means faster service and more precise service for our homeowners. When that truck pulls up, they’re going to have the right parts, the right technician to fix the job and get you more comfortable more quickly.
LESLIE: I mean that’s really awesome. Because so many times in the past, you would have a technician show up without the right things. And you’d be waiting that additional time for a part or for the right person. So this is really a wonderful technology that I think is going to be so helpful to both the service team and the homeowner.
CHRISTINE: That’s exactly right, Leslie. That’s what we keep saying. The right part, the right tech the first time. Eliminate those second callbacks where somebody comes to your home just to diagnose the problem, then they go back and get the part. And hopefully they make it back that day, maybe not.
Our goal with this is that the technician is going to know what part to put in that truck and they’re going to know what technician to send so that they’re fixing your equipment when they get there. And you’re comfortable.
TOM: Very cool. Now, this InteliSense technology, what Carrier equipment is this going to be available in? Is it available across the entire line? Is there a particular section of the Carrier equipment or series that homeowners should be asking the dealers about?
CHRISTINE: So what was done with our InteliSense technology is we’ve taken our connected product down to our Performance Series, which is our mid-tier line of equipment. So what you used to get on our Infinity series, our top-tier fully variable system, you can now get on our single and two-stage systems. You can get the two-stage A/C and heat pump, the single-stage and two-stage Performance Series gas furnace. So we’re really bringing the connected HVAC system down to the masses, down to everybody so that they can get that top-tier service from their Carrier dealer.
LESLIE: And this isn’t a retrofit? You’re going with all-new equipment at this point? You can’t add it to something you’ve already got?
CHRISTINE: Not at this point. This is factory-installed. So every piece of Performance Series equipment that comes out of the Carrier factory will feature InteliSense technology.
Which is truly – we have put sensors on the equipment itself. So we are the first to do this on the mid-tier line of equipment. We’re actually reading data from the equipment itself. It’s being transferred back to our ecobee for Carrier Thermostat and then up through the cloud to our Carrier digital tools.
So we’re not making inferences from the thermostat data. We’re actually pulling data off the equipment itself. And then our dealers are the best in the business. They’re using their years and years of expertise to analyze that data, just like they would be on site. And then they know what part to put on the truck before they ever come to your home.
TOM: Carrier has been innovating since you guys invented the air conditioner. I don’t think a lot of folks know that. But what was the gentleman’s name that invented the air conditioner? Was it Willis?
CHRISTINE: It was Willis Carrier. Yes, it was.
TOM: Willis Carrier. There you go. I would do good on quiz shows only if the questions had something to do with home improvement. Otherwise, I’d be lost.
Willis got us started but your technology continues to advance and advance and advance. And now this is really impressive. This is really exciting because now we’re going to have a whole new way to be able to monitor and update and repair and maintain our systems. The InteliSense technology available from Carrier on the Carrier Performance Series.
Christine, thank you so much for stopping by the Money Pit and filling us all in. And best of luck with the new line.
CHRISTINE: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. What are you working on? We’re in mid-March. We’re getting into springtime. We’re getting into the almost-summertime. So what kind of plans do you have for your money pit? Are you thinking about a big project or a small project? Whatever it is, if you’re in the midst of it or you’re just dreaming about it, we can help you make your home everything that you want it to be. So follow The Money Pit Podcast at MoneyPit.com/Podcast or wherever you get your pods.
Now we’ve got Melanie in California on the line with a decorating question.
What can we do for you today?
MELANIE: I have untreated (inaudible) knotty pine throughout the house. I would like to continue into an 8×12 bathroom with the same. Is this the best application for the bathroom or will untreated wood hold up to condensation?
LESLIE: Now, where are you seeing this? On the walls? On the ceiling?
MELANIE: Oh, well, I’d like to do the whole bathroom. Yes, walls and ceiling.
TOM: I would say, Leslie, that knotty – untreated, knotty pine is a really bad idea for a bathroom.
TOM: I actually do have a bathroom that’s got pine wainscoting but it’s completely sealed. And it goes up about halfway up the wall. I would definitely not put unfinished wood in a bathroom because it’s going to soak up the moisture. It’s going to grow mold or mildew and just is not going to look right. You can’t clean it, either. So, a bad idea for the ceiling.
That said, if you like the look of wood, there are many ceiling-tile products that do look quite a lot like wood.
MELANIE: OK. We’re limited. We’re in a small area, so we’re limited as far as hardwares go and paneling. We’ve checked out our local hardware stores. And where’s the best place to find, oh, say, ceiling paneling and …?
LESLIE: Well, now, a clever, creative idea – which, you know, you might be able to source online and perhaps you haven’t looked at some of this in the local places to you – would be a laminate flooring that’s a plank that looks like a knotty pine so that we could utilize that in the same application that you’re talking about. But it’s made to withstand high-moisture situations because it’s a manufactured product and not a natural product.
MELANIE: Sure, sure.
LESLIE: And that, because it’s sold in planks, if you do have to order it online or if somebody has to order it from the vendor directly through your local stores, it ships really easily because of its packaging. And being plank size, you’re not going to have a hard time getting it in, rather than a sheet product.
MELANIE: Oh, OK. Very good. And I think that would look far better than a sheet product. We just – I think that’s why I don’t care – the wainscoting or coating, how do you pronounce that?
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely.
MELANIE: Is that …?
LESLIE: I say wainscoting but I think everybody says it every way they feel like. Tomato, tomato.
MELANIE: OK. It’s just very attractive. But we need to do this complete, up the walls.
TOM: You don’t have to. You could go partially up the walls and then trim off the top edge of it.
MELANIE: Hmm. And then would – OK.
TOM: It depends on what look you’re going for. For example, Leslie, you’ve often given the suggestion that you can take an old door, turn it on its side and that could be a wainscoting.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That works out beautifully, especially because it gives you the paneling sort of built right into the door. The only issue there is that anywhere you’ve got an electrical outlet or something that might protrude from the wall, you’re going to have to bump that out to accommodate the extra thickness of the door. Not a big deal but it’s an extra step.
MELANIE: Boy, it sure is. Oh, boy. OK. Well, thank you so much. That’s a lot to think about and I really like that plank-flooring idea. That was a thought that never even crossed my mind, so – nor my husband’s.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project.
MELANIE: Thank you so much. And thank you for taking my call.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’re in the market for a new washing machine today, you’ll be presented with dozens of possible features. And as more features are added to these machines, the price goes up. So, to help you narrow your options, Consumer Reports recommends selecting high-performance washers that fit your budget. And then, secondly, consider features that really add convenience or save time.
LESLIE: Yeah. So, based on their tests, these four make the most sense. So, first of all, we’re talking about automatic dispensers. This feature is designed to dispense detergent, bleach, fabric softener all at the right time. And today, some washing machines can actually hold months’ worth of the detergent and only dispense the right amount at the right time.
Now, automatic-temperature control is a good one. Rather than simply mixing hot and cold water in those preset proportions, auto-temperature control is going to adjust that water to the optimal temperature for that setting that you select.
TOM: Now, another setting to look for is the extra rinse cycle. All types of washing machines use a lot less water than they once did. And most new washers have an extra rinse cycle. It can definitely help if your skin is sensitive to detergent residue and it can help wash away pet hair and other stubborn messes. So a very convenient feature to have.
And lastly, let’s talk about that tub. It should be stainless steel. Definitely a sign of durability. These can withstand higher spin speeds than the plastic tubs and they can also extract more water. And when you get more water out of your clothes, you get less dryer time, which means you spend less on either the gas or the electricity that you need to dry your clothes.
So, four good things to look for if you’re buying a washer today: automatic dispensers, automatic temperature control, an extra rinse cycle and a stainless-steel tub.
LESLIE: Bela in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BELA: Well, we have a sunroom. And the roof of the sunroom is 4 inches of Styrofoam and on top of that is aluminum. Now, when it rains, it’s very, very noisy. It’s like living in a double-wide. So, what I would like to do is put architectural shingles on it.
Now, I talked to one roofer. He said, “Oh, we can just nail it on.” But I don’t think so. I thought maybe we need some plywood – ¾-inch plywood – and even maybe some spacers.
TOM: This aluminum roof, is it fairly flat or is it shaped?
BELA: It is flat. Yes, sir.
TOM: Well, first of all, keep in mind that metal roofs are far more durable than asphalt-shingle roofs. But if you can’t really deal with the sound and you want to soften it, I agree with you: I do think you should attach a plywood decking to that metal roof first.
And I would do that with screws. So I would drive screws through the decking, into that metal roof. And then, on top of that, I would put ice-and-water shield, which is going to give you protection from any ice damming. And I would probably, since it’s a fairly flat roof or a low-sloped roof, I would probably cover the entire surface with ice-and-water shield. And then over that, I would put the asphalt shingles.
BELA: OK, sir. Thank you so very much for your help. That is the kind of a thing I’ve been thinking about.
TOM: I think you’re on the right track, Bela. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’ve got Eric in Baltimore who wrote in today saying, “I’m working on a house built in 1855.” He says a couple of the supports have rotted under the main beam and now it’s bowing the floor and cracking the plaster. “Is there a way to lift it back up?”
LESLIE: This kind of seems like a bigger problem than he might think.
TOM: Yeah, I think so. Yeah, it’s not just like shimming it, right?
So, listen. When you have a house that’s built in 1855 – which is even older than our houses. Right, Leslie?
LESLIE: That’s an old house.
TOM: When you have a house that’s that old, you’re going to have some saggy beams. Now, the question is: is it actively sagging? Is it getting worse over time or did it just settle once and it’s just sort of stuck there? If that’s the case, you can leave it alone. But if you need to bring it back up, you’re never going to make it straight. What you want to do is to stop it from moving any further. Because if you try to straighten it out, you’re going to stretch out beams, you’re going to crack them.
LESLIE: You’re going to make a lot more problems.
TOM: Oh, yeah. It can be a heck of a mess. So, you want to do it very, very carefully.
But I would suggest at this point – first off, Eric, you need to get an expert opinion as to whether or not this is a serious structural issue or really just one that’s cosmetic. And if it’s cosmetic, remember, when you sell the house, just tell them it has a little extra charm. And then maybe they’ll give you some more money for it.
Well, is your bathroom, say, a bit boring but you don’t have the funds to spruce it up? There’s no reno of your bathroom in your future? Well, don’t fear because there’s actually a lot you can do, on the cheap, with paint. Leslie has the how-to, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, there really isn’t a less expensive way to transform a bathroom – or really any room, for that matter – than with paint. And if you do it yourself, you’re going to save even more. So here’s four ideas to get those creative juices flowing.
Think about stenciling the ceiling. That creates a really unexpected focal point. You can paint it in a contrasting color to kind of have an eye-catching effect. And you can go for something that almost would look like a paneled ceiling or a textured ceiling. I mean you could do something really cool with a stencil, even if you go tone-on-tone to create a really interesting, unexpected look.
Next, think about bold walls. Think about a super-saturated color: turquoise; terracotta; deep blues; deep, rich grays; dark grays that are almost black or greenish black. Those make an outstanding splash in a bathroom space. So definitely don’t be afraid to go for it there. Plus, bathrooms are usually small with very little wall space, so you’re not really going to be overwhelmed by that color if it might be too much. So, great spot to get really bold.
Now, if you’ve got some imagination and a paintbrush, why not paint a mural? Add some pizzazz to this otherwise ordinary bathroom. Keep in mind things like bare trees and blooms kind of are the easiest to master if you’re not exactly a Picasso. But you can find a lot of great inspiration online with some great tutorials and some simple painting techniques that could create a super-unique masterpiece.
Now, lastly, instead of replacing that outdated vanity, give it a makeover with paint and some new hardware. Now, here you’re going to want to use oil-based paint. It’s going to work best in this sort of moist bathroom environment. It’s also going to be easier to clean. Just make sure when you’re painting you use some good ventilation in that space, because these oil-based paints are kind of stinky and we don’t want those fumes to kind of knock you over in the middle of your project. But definitely great ways to make a big change for a little bit of dough.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. And as the weather gets nicer, you’re likely going to be spending more and more time on your deck. And that’s why now is the best time to make sure that deck is safe. We’re going to share tips to spot signs of deck trouble before it becomes dangerous, 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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