- Earth Day is just about here, and a perfect time to talk about our favorite tricks of the trade for saving water, energy and money at the same time.
- Painting is a popular spring project and one that can be made a LOT easier if you know just a few painting tricks that pros use every day. We’ll share those trade secrets coming up.
- Few home improvements bring more beauty and value to a home than adding a hardwood floor. We share tips on advances in hardwood flooring that make this product easier to install.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, installing a porch handrail, stopping water hammer, whether or not you need to remove paneling, converting a deck into a 3 seasons room, water heaters, tankless or conventional?
Earth Day Ideas for Saving Money | Pro Painting Secrets | Hardwood Flooring Innovations | Your Q & A (Ep #2093)
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: Hey, guys. What are you working on this fine weekend? If it’s your house, you are in the right place. We’re here to help. We will pick up the hammers, pick up the nails or just pick up your spirits if you’re kind of stuck with a project that you don’t know how to move forward on.
You can help yourself, though, by reaching out to us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because that’s what we do. We can be your coach, your helper, your therapist. We are here to make sure you get your jobs done once, done right and really have the time to enjoy them, especially as this warm weather starts to soak into our very tired bones after a cold, hard year of dealing with COVID. We’re ready to get outside. We’re ready to enjoy our homes. And if you’ve got a project, we are ready to help you.
Coming up on today’s show, Earth Day is just about here so we thought, hey, why not make this the perfect time to talk about some of our favorite tricks of the trade when it comes to saving water, energy and money all at the same time?
LESLIE: And painting is a very popular spring project and one that can be made a lot easier if you know just a few tricks of the trade that these pros are using every single day. So we’re going to share some of those secrets, coming up.
TOM: And few home improvements bring more beauty and value to a home than adding a hardwood floor. We’re going to have some tips on advances in hardwood flooring that makes this project a lot easier for DIYers to install.
LESLIE: But first, we want to help you tackle all of your to-dos with confidence and help you create that best home ever.
TOM: So give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
We’ve got a great prize we’re giving away to one listener this hour. It’s the Arrow E21 Cordless Electric Staple Gun, along with all the staples you’ll need to get projects done around your house. It’s worth 50 bucks. Going out to one listener. Make that you. Call us with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to New Jersey where Chris is on the line with some issues in the foundation. What’s going on?
CHRIS: So I have actually just purchased a new home about a week and a few days ago.
TOM: OK. Congrats.
CHRIS: Thank you. We had our first, you know, warm weather and about a foot of snow was melting outside.
CHRIS: We had a lot of groundwater coming into the house in the basement, underneath where our stairs are.
CHRIS: Took out a couple of the stairs and I found out that the wall on the – for the outside of the house was actually sloped with the grade of the property.
TOM: Was it buckled or leaning? What are you seeing?
CHRIS: Nope. No buckles, no leans. It’s still straight and still sturdy. But underneath the stairs is – it’s just a pile of dirt.
TOM: Oh, you mean the way it was constructed it was almost in steps.
Now, how old is your new house, Chris?
CHRIS: I believe it’s about a hundred – in the neighborhood of about a hundred years.
TOM: We love people with old homes that are brand new, because we have a big, wonderful world of old-home love and old-home frustration and hate to kind of work through.
LESLIE: It’s all just about to start happening for you.
TOM: Yeah, it’s all going to start happening but we’re here to help you.
So, this moisture issue – so what have you done about it so far?
CHRIS: Well, so far I’ve removed the bottom two steps of the stairs going into the basement. I did find where the leak was coming in. It was coming in between the compacted soil and the wall.
CHRIS: So far I’ve patched it the best I could with some concrete.
TOM: And have you talked to any contractors about this yet?
CHRIS: I actually work for a contractor, believe it or not.
CHRIS: I did speak to a couple different people who had suggested digging out around the property on the outside and waterproofing it, which normally is the way to go. But with my current situation, I’m thinking that that’s probably going to be a little more work than it is not.
TOM: So, we’re going to put you out of your misery here. I just wanted to get the whole story out. The good news is that what you are facing is very typical and it is also very easy to fix. Because what – the reason this is happening is because of drainage. You mentioned groundwater. Well, look, when you think about leaks into a basement space, a lot of folks think of it as water that’s coming up, rising through the ground and coming in. It’s actually not that at all. It’s really water that’s draining down and finding its way in.
Now, in an old home that’s a hundred years old, you don’t really have a typical footing under that wall. Your foundation – as is mine and perhaps, Leslie, as I suspect yours is – those foundation walls are built right on the dirt. They start down deep as a normal foundation would be but there’s no poured concrete footing that was done a hundred years ago.
And so you’ve got to be really careful. You mentioned you tore out some steps. We don’t want to mess up the fact that – to what extent those steps were sort of helping to support that first layer of soil. We do want to fix the source of this. And because you spotted this right after a snow melt, I know for absolute certain – with absolute certainty that your problem is drainage.
And so, with respect to drainage, you need to look at two things. The most common problem is with the gutters. If you don’t have enough gutters, if your gutters are clogged, if they’re overflowing, if the downspouts are not discharged at least 4 feet to 6 feet away from the house – and most are not – then you’re going to be collecting a lot of roof water at that foundation perimeter where it has nowhere to go but into your foundation and ultimately, in your basement. And that happens during a rainstorm. It also happens when snow melts.
The second thing that causes this is the grade or the angle of the soil at that foundation perimeter. And even new homes are going to settle over time. And with an old house, you probably have a lot of settlement that goes on so that you tend to lose the slope away from the wall. And so, in that case, what you want to do is add clean fill dirt and slope it away from the wall. And you want to have a slope of about 6 inches over 4 feet where it drops away. And then, on top of that, you could put some topsoil or stone or mulch or whatever you want to do to cover it. But you’ve got to establish that grade.
Now, the order of importance on this is to do the gutter work first. Fortunately, that is the easiest and least expensive. And then, if you’re still having issues, you can address the grading secondly to that. But this is simply a drainage issue. It’s a situation where you have too much water around the foundation. You’ve just got to move it away.
So, stop working inside. Start working outside. All the sealants, all that kind of stuff, yeah, I mean you can’t really make your house float no matter how much of that you put on. And if you just manage that drainage, this is going to go away.
I’d like you to go to MoneyPit.com. And on the home page, there is an article there, which actually is one of the busiest ones on the entire site, about how to fix a leaking or flooded basement. And in that, we walk you through the step-by-step procedures much like I’ve just explained to you.
And you’ll find it interesting that at the end of that, there’s 40 or 50 comments about folks that – and there’s two groups. The first group is waterproofing contractors who just complain to no end about the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing. And the other group is homeowners just praising how easy this was to fix and thanking me for saving them tens of thousands of dollars. So you can decide which group you believe.
But that article will help educate you on all of this. And if you have more questions, you can just shoot us an email, OK?
CHRIS: Alright. Awesome.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that house. And if you have any other questions – old-house questions – don’t hesitate to reach out.
CHRIS: Alright. Awesome. Thank you guys so much.
TOM: You’re welcome.
If you’re thinking about taking on a project and just wish you had some tools to help, well, we’re going to help you by giving away an Arrow E21 Cordless Electric Staple Gun on today’s show. It’s going to go out to one listener drawn at random from those that either call or write us with a home improvement question.
This is compact and easy to use and it fires 30 staples or nails per minute. And we love that it’s battery-powered, because it gives you battery life of up to 3 hours and no hassling with cords. Wherever you need to use it, it pretty much comes right along on your project.
It’s good for crafting and woodworking and lots of other DIY jobs around the house. Worth 50 bucks. Again, going out to one lucky listener. Make that you. Call us or post your question. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Karen in Pennsylvania on the line who wants to add a railing to a porch. Tell us about it.
KAREN: OK. When we built this home, they put in a prefab hollow porch step, OK?
KAREN: A wider porch and then two steps that go down at our front door. And my husband wants to put a railing on it.
KAREN: Would it be sturdy enough to put a screw in a post to put the railing in, to screw it – the one will be attached onto the house that is brick.
TOM: Yep. OK.
KAREN: And the other one would be going into that hollow porch. Would that be sturdy enough to do that?
LESLIE: Well, I think it can be sturdy enough if you use the right attaching points and the right type of screws.
Now, when you’re going into any kind of masonry – so for the house, as well, with the brick and the hollow concrete steps – you would use something called a Tapcon, which is just a very specialized type of screw that’s meant to go into a masonry surface. And the way, sort of, the grooves are on the stem of the screw itself is they’re tighter together, they’re a little thicker so they’ll really bite into that masonry and really grab a hold.
So if you use something like that, which is appropriate for that location, it should have no problem as long as you get the right weight, the right length, you know, depending on that situation.
You can find it at any home center. They come in just a couple or in a larger box. Some of them need a specialized bit. Sometimes you need a hammer drill just to sort of get into that masonry surface first, to allow space for that screw. But I mean it’s generally an easy project and just a little bit of time and a little bit of effort.
TOM: Yeah, they’re very distinctive. They’re a blue color.
And by the way, if it turns out that that hollow step just doesn’t have enough meat in it, so to speak, to attach, the other option here is just to drop the post in front of the step or to the side of the step, depending on how it lines up with the rest of your house. And just sit a post in the soil.
To do that, you would simply use a post-hole digger and dig down about 3 feet. You would stick a wood post in there and then you could pour a concrete mix by QUIKRETE that’s available in the red bag. It’s called Fast-Setting Concrete. You pour it in there dry. You don’t have to mix it up first; you pour it in there dry. Make sure the post is nice and level. And then you water it like you’re watering a plant. You just put some water in the hole and it hardens for you. And then you could adjust the height of it. You could cut it down to size. And that would be then supported by the soil.
So if it turns out the step is just not possible for you to support the post there, you could always do it by setting the post directly in grade, OK?
KAREN: OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much for your answer. Appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome.
Well, Earth Day is just about here and that makes it a good time to talk about some of our favorite tricks of the trade when it comes to saving water, energy and money all at the same time.
LESLIE: That’s right. Let’s start with a few water-saving ideas for your lawn and garden, since we all want to get out in the yard right away, right now, this time of year.
So, for your garden, when it comes to watering, it really is best to water deeply. You want to make sure that you soak the root zone rather than the entire yard. Now, when it comes to landscaping, you should choose some plants that require little or no water beyond what nature provides. So that means you’ve got to choose native plants to the area that you’re in. And if you go to your garden center, you’ll definitely find stuff that’s made specifically, or I should say grown specifically, in your area so it’s really going to do well.
Mulch, great. It looks good in the garden but it actually has a super-important function. It helps you keep all of that moisture in the soil. So make sure you keep that mulch up. The garden’s going to look good but it’s also going to stay nice and hydrated.
And for watering, think about a method of drip irrigation or even a soaker hose, because that’s going to help you reduce evaporation. And it’s going to get the water directly where the plants need it, right at the roots.
TOM: Now, if you want to save energy, there are a few things that you could do outside your home. First up, shade your air-conditioning compressor. Seems like a simple thing but it really makes a difference because the hotter it gets where your A/C compressor is located, the harder it has to work and the more it costs to run.
So you want to plant at least about 12 inches away from the compressor, because you do need some air around it. But if you keep the shade on that compressor, you’re going to find a big difference in the electric bill.
Now, you also might want to consider adding some shade trees, because you can save 15 to 50 percent on cooling costs, according to the Department of Energy. Plus, you get a beautiful, new tree in the process.
And finally, let’s talk about storm windows. Now, you might be thinking, “But it’s not winter. Why are we talking about storm windows?” Well, you’re right. We don’t usually talk about them this time of year except if you’ve got those old, wood windows and storm windows, guess what? Using those storm windows in the summer can actually help you save on your air-conditioning costs. Because all those drafts you feel in the winter? Guess what? They come in the summer, too, except they’re hot air. And that means you’ve got to spend more to cool the house. So, if you’ve got storm windows and you’ve got central A/C, put them down in the summer.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Aaron in South Dakota on the line.
Aaron, what can we help you with today?
AARON: My question is concerning – it’s my fireplace chimney. I have a 35-year-old home. It’s a story-and-a-half and it has two fireplaces. The fireplace on the main level is in – we use it. Below it, in the basement, there is a cutout in the foundation for a second fireplace but it was never put in. So it’s just the foundation concrete.
My question is – because it was never put in – the fireplace in the basement – the chimney was never used and it is dumping cold air into the basement. And I want to know, how do I permanently seal that off so that I’m just not taking in air from outside?
TOM: OK. Interesting question.
Now, because it’s a second fireplace in the basement, do you happen to know if it has a separate, dedicated flue? Because it very well may have its own interior flue. Even though it’s one chimney structure, there could be two flues going up through the middle of it. Do you know if that’s the case?
AARON: I’m not entirely certain.
TOM: OK. Well, I would identify that. You could probably go on top of the chimney and look straight down. You’ll see these two flues side by side.
If it’s got its own flue, I’d probably seal it off from the top. If it’s sharing a flue, then what I would do is I would seal it off from the bottom. And you can do something as simple as sealing in the front of that opening with just an insulated foam panel.
AARON: Well, you see, that is what is there right now. If I go into the basement and I look up, somebody has put a foam panel to seal it up. But it’s not sealed very well and air is getting in. And on the outside, the chimney stack is a double stack and I have cut into the knee wall, into my attic space, to look and it’s a wide-open void up there.
So, the air is getting in. So, whether it already has a flue in there or not, I’m not certain. But I just didn’t know if there’s anything I need to do more than just putting a thermal break on every level.
TOM: Well, you say it’s a wide-open stack. What do you mean by that when you say it’s a wide-open stack, Aaron?
AARON: If you look at the side of my house, there is a massive chimney.
TOM: Right. OK.
AARON: It’s probably 4 feet wide by 2 feet wide.
AARON: And when I look in my attic space, I can see that it is wide open but there is nothing inside of it.
TOM: So it’s sort of framed wide open but there’s no flue liner inside of it?
AARON: It springs wide open like it was intended, at some point, somebody is going to put a fireplace there but no one ever did.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah.
AARON: So, now, it’s just – from outside, down to my basement, it’s air coming in.
AARON: And I don’t intend to put a second fireplace in and I want to finish that area.
TOM: The goal here is to seal off and insulate anything that you’re not using without impacting the side of the fireplace that you are using. And so to do that, you need to know exactly how many flues you have and what appliances in your house that’s serving, whether it’s a furnace or a fireplace. Those need to be left alone. And the others you can insulate or seal off. And so, this may be something that has to be done by an experienced professional, because you want to get it right. But that’s the goal.
If you’re not using it, you can seal it off. And I would seal it from the top, if I could, because that’s where the air is coming in.
AARON: OK. Sounds good. Thank you.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nicole from Connecticut on the line who’s dealing with some noisy pipes. What is going on?
NICOLE: Every time we flush the toilet and use the shower or wash a load of laundry, there is a well here and we hear loud banging in the basement where the well water comes in through the basement floor.
TOM: OK. There’s two things I’m thinking that could be causing this. The first one is pretty straightforward and it’s called “water hammer.” And water hammer occurs when some of those plumbing pipes in the basement are loose. If they’re not well attached to the wood framing – you know, usually the ceiling joists in this example – then when you open up a faucet and then – or close a faucet or flush a toilet, that water movement through the pipes suddenly stops. But sometimes, the force continues to shake the pipe and that is what we call the “water hammer.” And because they are metal pipes, they tend to transmit that sound quite effectively all over the house.
We get calls from folks that are – it makes them so miserable because if somebody goes to the bathroom, you can hear it in the dining room during dinner, because the pipes are making such a racket.
TOM: So water hammer is one possibility. But because you also have a well, it might also be that what you’re hearing is the well pump go on and off. Now, it shouldn’t go on and off every time you run the water if you have an expansion tank near it. So the expansion tank, basically, holds the water and then you sort of feed off of this tank when you draw water. And it has to go down to a certain point before it refills with more water that gets served through the pipes.
So, I would just tell you to do a test. Have Mom or you stand in one location, the other person near the well and then run some faucets and turn them on and off and so on. And see if it is that the well is going on every time it draws water, because that’s not supposed to happen. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the well pump. It’s a lot of expense in terms of energy. And if you had the right type of tank in there next to it, that could stop that from happening.
If it’s not the case, then it’s most definitely going to be water hammer. And again, you could secure those pipes to the underside of the floor-joist structure. There’s hangers for that. Or in the worst-case scenario, there’s also a plumbing component called a “water-hammer arrestor,” which you can think of as a shock absorber. And it goes on the end of some of those water-pipe lines and basically takes some of that excessive pressure and settles it down so it doesn’t shake the pipe as much.
NICOLE: OK. Wonderful. Thank you so much for all your help.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project.
NICOLE: Thank you. Have a great day.
LESLIE: Well, when it comes to painting, the pros that do this every single day perfect their techniques over time. And then they develop a level of expertise that most of us who paint once in a while probably will never pick up. So, we’re going to share some of those pro painting secrets, in today’s Pro Project presented by Angi.
TOM: So, let’s start with a key element of any paint project: the primer. That is what makes sure the paint sticks and it can also hide whatever you’re trying to cover. So, the pro trick is to tint that primer. You can choose a gray or a color that’s similar to the finish paint and compared to the plain, white primer, it does a much better job of covering that existing paint color. So the finish coat will be more vibrant and may actually require fewer coats.
LESLIE: Now, let’s talk about the finish. Sometimes you end up with those ugly brush marks, so the secret there – you want a finish that’s free of lap and brush marks. You really need to add in a paint extender. And it’s also called a “paint conditioner.” Mix that into the paint.
Now, this is going to do two things. First of all, it’s going to slow down that paint’s drying time, so it’s going to give you a longer window to overlap those just-painted areas without getting those ugly lap marks that can happen when you paint over a dried area and then it kind of darkens the color. So that’s going to help you with that. Second, that paint extender is going to level out the paint, so brushstrokes are virtually eliminated or at least a little bit less obnoxious.
TOM: Now, if you want to protect your floors and your furniture, this one might kind of surprise you. I can tell you that pro painters don’t use bedsheets as drop cloths and neither should you. The thin sheets don’t stop the splatters and spills from seeping through and onto your flooring. And the plastic will contain those spills but it keeps the paint wet for a long time, so it usually ends up on your soles of your shoes and then it gets tracked all over the place.
So, instead, you want to use canvas. It’s the perfect combination because it’s not slippery and it will absorb splatters. But it’s still good practice to wipe up big, large spills so they don’t bleed through.
LESLIE: Now, let’s talk about keeping the paint on your brush. You want to get it on there, you want to keep it on there. There is a trick for that, too.
Now, to get the most mileage out of a single fill-up and make fewer trips to that paint container, pros take a load-and-go approach. They’re going to load the bottom about inch-and-a-half of their brush with paint, tap against the side of their container to knock off all of those heavy drips and then they start painting.
Now, by contrast, homeowners often take a load-and-then-sort-of-dump approach when it comes to dragging that loaded brush long the sides of their container. They wipe a lot of that paint off. I mean it really doesn’t do you any good to dunk that brush into the paint and then immediately get rid of it on the side.
TOM: And finally, let’s talk about a trick for painter’s tape. If you want to stop that paint from bleeding through, you need to do a thorough job of adhering the painting tape before you start. So after you apply the tape, just run a putty knife over the entire surface and press it down for a good seal.
And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by Angi, where you can find expert pros available for hundreds of projects, up-front pricing, plus the ability to book and pay right from your phone. Download the app today.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Cody in Kansas on the line who has a sheetrock question. What can we do for you today?
CODY: Well, we’re actually renovating our kitchen and – first renovation; we’ve never done this. We have wood-paneling walls and I’m wondering, can you sheetrock over the wood paneling? Do we need to do a complete teardown and tear it out before we sheetrock?
TOM: You could drywall on top of that but I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think you’re better off taking that old – those old, wood walls down. You’re going to get a much cleaner look when you’re done and I just don’t think it’s a good idea to have all that extra material on your wall.
CODY: OK. Is there – should I go with ¼-inch drywall? Should I go with ½-inch?
TOM: Is this regular paneling that’s like an 1/8- or ¼-inch thick?
TOM: Yeah, that should come down fairly quickly. Once you pull all the electrical cover plates off the boxes, you should be able to get that going at the seams and pull that right off. And then just lightly sand the walls, if there’s any imperfections there, and then you can apply new drywall on that.
You could use probably – if you have existing drywall there, you could use 3/8-inch drywall as your second coat. And if you glued it, make sure you can – you’ll need fewer fasteners but make sure you overlap the seams. So don’t use the same exact seams as exists in the original wall. Does that make sense?
CODY: Yes. And the original wall, I believe, is the – it’s lath and plaster; it’s not actual drywall.
TOM: Oh, plaster lath? Yeah. I would definitely go on top of that. I would not pull down the plaster lath. I’ve done that job both ways and it’s a lot cleaner if you just go over it. But keep in mind you’re going to have to extend the electrical boxes and perhaps trim around windows and doors and that sort of thing to compensate for the additional thickness.
CODY: OK. Alright. I appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Do you enjoy woodworking, crafting, perhaps DIY projects? Of course you do. And we’ve got a great tool for you that we’re giving away to one lucky listener. We’ve got an awesome Arrow E21 Cordless Electric Staple Gun up for grabs. And it comes with a ton of staples that – I mean you’ll probably get through these in a long, long, long time. Tons of projects.
It’s a compact staple gun. It’s really easy to use. It can fire 30 staples or nails per minute, so you’re going to tackle a lot in your project in one sort of session of using that gun.
Now, it’s got a battery life of up to 3 hours, so you can do dining chairs, a headboard. You can put up molding. Whatever you like – small projects, big projects – this is a great tool for you. Perfect for crafting, woodworking, DIY stuff.
It’s worth 50 bucks but it’s going out to one lucky listener this hour.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question and you might just win. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mary in Florida is looking to make her kitchen bigger by taking away from her deck. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
MARY: Well, I have a fairly small kitchen/dining-room area and I was wanting to expand it. We have a patio deck that’s probably about 30×10 feet that’s directly attached to it. There’s glass sliding doors that’s attached to it. We were wanting to find some way that we could enclose that and make that more of an off-season-type area, as opposed to a couple weeks out of the year. We didn’t know if you had any suggestions, ideas?
TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, Mary, you can’t take your deck and then sort of put four walls on it and a roof and call it an addition, because decks are not designed for that. They’re not really part of the foundation of the home. And I’ve seen a lot of folks do exactly that and ultimately, it catches up with you. Usually, if you try to sell the house or something of that nature, it doesn’t meet the code requirements. It’s just generally a bad idea.
What you could do for that space, to make it more of a year-round use, might be to consider adding some heating or something of that nature. But it’s always going to be an outdoor space. You can’t take an outdoor deck and turn it into an indoor space. That’s an addition and you can’t just put a door and some walls and a roof and some screening or whatever you’re planning and call that now like an extension of your kitchen. Because it just doesn’t count, OK?
Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it used to be that unless hardwood was installed when a home was built, it was darn near impossible to add it after the fact. But today, the availability of durable, prefinished hardwood floors has made that totally doable and something that offers real value to a home, which is why you almost always see real-estate agents calling out the hardwood floor in their listings and advertisements.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, another benefit of hardwood flooring is that it doesn’t trap dust and dirt like carpeting does, so it’s really a lot better for those allergy sufferers out there. And they’re also easier to maintain and going to last a lot longer than carpeting would.
And if you think about it, they really are one of the longest-lasting floors because you can sand them, you can refinish them. And you can do that process multiple times. It really just depends on the thickness of the floor itself.
TOM: And when it comes to installing that solid-hardwood flooring, it can be installed on or above grade level but not below grade, like basements. For those areas, you want to use engineered hardwood. It’s dimensionally stable and it’s not going to warp or twist.
And finally, keep in mind that solid hardwood needs to fully acclimate before installation. So that means you buy it, you bring it into your house for a few days and then you install it and you’ll be good to go with a beautiful, new floor.
LESLIE: Scott in North Dakota is on the line with a water-heater question. What’s going on?
SCOTT: I’ve got a cabin that we’re going to remodel and I was wondering if it’s better to go with a tankless water heater or a tank one, because we’ve got – well, we’ve got to drain everything in the winter. But I was kind of looking online and stuff and what the difference between them. And the tankless ones only raise at a certain amount of temperature. And up here, the groundwater is usually about 40 degrees, so …
TOM: So, first of all, we’re talking about an electric water heater versus an electric tankless?
SCOTT: Correct. Yep, yep.
TOM: Yep. I would definitely go with an electric water heater. And I would install that water heater on a timer so that you can control when it comes on and off. Because especially being a vacation property, you’re not going to want that on in the middle of the day. You’re probably going to want to have it come on for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. And that will save you a lot of cost.
SCOTT: Well, great. That answered a lot of questions.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project, Scott. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alicia in South Carolina is getting ready to install a brand-new A/C and says, “I’m getting ready to install a new central air-conditioning system this year. How do I know what size to get for my 1,800-square-foot, single-story home?”
TOM: So, there’s a calculation that an HVAC contractor should do for you, Alicia, called a “heat-loss calculation,” where they measure things like the thickness of the exterior wall, how many windows you have on the south and west side, where you get a lot of sun. But generally speaking, you use – you need 1 ton of air-conditioning power for every 600 to 800 square feet of home.
So I’m thinking an 1,800-square-foot, single-family home in South Carolina, where it’s quite warm, you’re probably looking at a 3-ton unit. But you do want to have the contractor do this heat-loss calculation. If they look at you like they don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re talking to the wrong contractor, because this is the way it’s done. Because if they put in one that’s too big, it’s not good.
You don’t want to go too big. It’s going to cost you more money and it’s going to waste a lot of money over time. So you want to make sure it’s sized correctly. If it’s too big, your air inside the house is going to be sort of dank and cold and damp and your system is going to cycle, which means it’s going to be on/off, on/off. And your bills will go through the roof.
So, get it done correctly and you’ll be very, very happy. And make sure that your new air conditioner is ENERGY STAR-certified.
LESLIE: And Alicia, make sure you do check with your utility company. Because if you do go with an energy-efficient one, there could be some rebates.
TOM: Well, it’s almost picnic time but don’t let the inevitable stains that accompany all that outdoor eating ruin your fun. Leslie has got some quick fixes for stains, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yep. You’re right. You know, picnics, it’s really a great summertime tradition. So why not get out there? Enjoy yourselves. Be outside with your buddy. Be smart, be socially distant and enjoy some tasty foods.
And inevitably, when it comes to eating outside, I know I’m the clumsiest outside eater. So, you’re probably going to spill some stuff on yourself, just like I would.
So, if you’ve got barbecue sauce, maybe ketchup or mustard on your clothing or even the tablecloth, you want to flush the stain with cold water from the underside of the fabric. And then you want to blot with liquid laundry detergent and then sponge it with white vinegar. Apply a stain treatment and then launder it like normal, like you already would. And that should do the trick.
Now, if it’s blueberries or strawberries, which is a true summer staple, those berry stains can be kind of stubborn. So you want to mix a tablespoon of white vinegar with a ½-teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent and then a quart of water. And the let the fabric soak in that mixture for 15 minutes and then launder as usual.
Soft drinks? I feel like the soda stains on those white t-shirts the kids wear are super bad, so you want to sponge that stain with cool water or even soak it for 30 minutes in cool water if you can. And pretreat with stain remover before you launder as usual.
Now, grass stains. You’ve got kids? They’re going to end up with grass stains, so here’s what you do. You need to pretreat your stained clothing with a pre-wash stain remover that contains enzymes. Because the enzyme is what’s going to break down the grass in the clothing. And then go ahead and launder using the hottest water that’s safe for that fabric. And that should do the trick.
And if you follow these things, guys, you can definitely get your clothes in tip-top shape or keep that picnic blanket ready to go for the next time.
Now, it’s all great. Get out there. Enjoy yourselves. Don’t be afraid to make a mess, because we can help you figure out how to get rid of it.
TOM: I bet you’ve got this down to a science with two boys, right?
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. They’re such a disaster. And with my kids, there’s also ice cream and all kinds of stuff. They’re just messy.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, when it rains, it pours. And if you’ve got a rainwater collection system at your house, you could actually use those downpours to help hydrate your yard during future dry spells. We’ll tell you what you need to know to get it done, on the 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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