- If you’d like to improve the energy efficiency of your home but wondered whether the improvements would pay off, the EPA now has a program that can prove the savings before the projects even started.
- Bathtubs can last a lifetime, but their finishes won’t! If your bathtub finish is worn, you don’t have to get rid of the whole tub. We share much less expensive solutions.
- As you do your gift shopping – have you noticed how many retailers offer the opportunity to purchase an “extended” warranty? These seem to be available on everything from a toaster to a television, but do they ever make sense?
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Robert in Alaska has water penetrating his foundation and wants to know how to stop this.
- Terri from Missouri is having a crack issue that won’t go away on her wall leading up to her vaulted ceiling and needs a permanent fix.
- John in New Jersey wants to know if he should flush his water heater annually.
- Leslie needs advice on cutting down a door.
- Brent in Texas has a question about using a ridge venting alongside gable vents.
- Ron from Tennessee has an issue dealing with moisture in his crawlspace and wants to know if an encapsulated system can help solve this.
- Vicki in Louisiana has an issue keeping the same water pressure with different temperatures.
- Nancy from Pennsylvania wants a more modern looking option instead of baseboard heating in her all-electric house.
- Andrew in North Carolina has a problem with his water drain in his shower making a gurgling noise when it drains.
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 fix up your home sweet home. If you’ve got a project you’d like to get done, you’re thinking about one for next year, if you’re stuck in the middle of a project and you don’t know which way to go, got yourself in a jam or maybe you just have some questions before you begin, we would love to help. We are your coaches, your counselors, your home improvement therapists. So, whatever project is on your mind, reach out to us with those questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’d like to improve the energy efficiency of your home but you wondered whether the improvements would actually pay off, well, the EPA now has a program that can prove the savings before the project even gets started. We’re going to share those tips, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And bathtubs can last a lifetime but their finishes won’t. If your bathtub finish is worn, you don’t have to get rid of the whole tub. We’re going to share much less expensive solutions, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
TOM: And as you do your gift shopping, have you noticed how many retailers are offering the opportunity to purchase an extended warranty? These seem to be available on everything, from a toaster to a television, but do they ever make sense? We’ll share some tips, just ahead, to help you sort it all out.
Leslie, the last retail that offered me an extended warranty was on a tube of caulk.
TOM: Seriously. I’m like, “Are you kidding me?”
LESLIE: “I don’t know. This tube is empty. What are we going to do?”
TOM: I don’t know. Exactly. “I need a new tube. It keeps getting empty.”
LESLIE: “It’s leaking out the end – the business end. What do I do?”
Alright, guys. Well, maybe you need some help with a leaky caulk tube. Whatever it is, we are here to lend a hand. Whether it’s a renovation, a repair, a décor project, holiday decorating, some gift ideas for the home improver in your life, whatever it is we are here to help you.
Plus, we’ve got a great product to give away today to one listener. And it’s great, especially if you’ve got a kitchen or bath countertop that’s in need of an update. We’ve got, up for grabs from Daich Coatings, the SpreadStone Countertop Finishing Kit and it’s worth $125. And boy, does it look good. And it could go to one lucky caller this hour.
TOM: So, give us a call right now. You’ve got to have a home improvement question for a chance at winning that great SpreadStone Countertop Finishing Kit. We will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and maybe send that out to you. That number, again: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Robert in Alaska is on the line with a crawlspace situation. Tell us what’s going on.
ROBERT: Basically, what I’ve got going on is we had a lot of rain this summer, so I had water kind of penetrate the foundation. And I was wondering if there is anything I could do from the inside to maybe stop some of that penetration from coming in and getting on the wood that’s holding up the, I guess, the floor.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Now, are you talking about concrete-block walls?
TOM: OK. So, a couple of things. First of all, we want to make sure that you are doing what you can to slow the collection of water from outside moving inside. So that means looking at your gutter system, making sure you have gutters and that they’re diverting water away from the house, not just a couple of feet from the foundation but well away. And make sure that the angle of the soil around the foundation slopes away. And that will do a lot to move the water away from that backfill zone.
Inside the crawlspace, you can add a vapor barrier to the soil and that will stop moisture from evaporating up. And on the blocks themselves, you can apply a product called Ames’ Blue Max, which is a rubber paint. It’s very stretchable and it adheres really well. And when you apply it to the block, it stops any moisture from coming through the block.
Ames is spelled A-m-e-s and the product is called Blue Max. You can search for it online. Their website is AmesResearch.com.
ROBERT: OK. Good deal. Yeah, I’ve got a company coming in to, I guess, dig the outside of the foundation and lay some drainage this spring – this coming spring – so …
TOM: OK. Well, let me stop you right there, OK? Because that’s not likely going to help you and it’s not necessary.
ROBERT: Oh, OK.
TOM: If that moisture is consistent with rainfall – in other words, you get a lot of rain, like you mentioned and then you get leakage – then putting all those drainage pipes and disturbing all that soil is really not the way to go. If you improve your gutter system and you improve the grading – the angle of the soil around the foundation perimeter – that stops the majority of that surface water from getting in.
TOM: The only time we recommend drainage systems, like what you’re describing, is when you have a rising water table which, if you did, you wouldn’t be getting leakage that’s consistent with rainfall.
ROBERT: Ah, OK. Well, good. That’s important to know then.
TOM: Yep. So now there you go; saved you a bunch of money.
ROBERT: Oh, yes, you did.
TOM: You’ve got it, Robert. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Terri in Missouri is on the line with a ceiling issue that’s just cracking up. Tell us what’s going on.
TERRI: I have a wall in my living room/kitchen area that has a vaulted ceiling that, at the 8-foot level, it has a horizontal crack and it keeps reappearing after it gets repaired. It’s happened three times and it cracks again after about 2 or 3 weeks; it doesn’t last very long. So I was wondering how we could fix that permanently.
TOM: Well, that’s an area where you have a lot of movement, a lot of expansion and contraction. And if you just try to spackle it, it’s not going to work. So I think what you really need to do is to use a perforated drywall tape.
TERRI: Perforated drywall tape.
LESLIE: It looks like a mesh.
TOM: A mesh, that’s right. And it’s sticky. And after you kind of lightly sand the surface around the crack, you lay the tape in there and then you spackle over that tape until you don’t see the tape anymore. And that creates a stronger bond between the two sides that are moving and the crack won’t open up again as the house goes through a normal expansion and contraction.
TERRI: Sounds good. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: John in Oakhurst, New Jersey – maybe Tom’s neighbor – has a question about a water heater. How can we help you today?
JOHN: Yeah, we just literally had a water – a new water heater installed today. We started to have some leaking coming out of the top where – I guess where the input and the output lines go in.
So we had a new one put in; we knew that was failing. But the installer suggested and recommended to us that we flush it once a year. And although that sounds like it makes sense to me – I know there’s a lot of people who don’t do it – I just want to get you guys’ opinion on whether that’s really important to do that annually. And if you don’t, what’s the downside of that?
TOM: Well, the reason that you flush a water heater is because you get sediment in the bottom of it and the sediment acts as an insulator. It doesn’t really cause any harm to the water heater and I think in a situation where you have city water, it’s not as important as when you have well water. It’s sort of an old wives’ tale; it’s kind of something that people always started doing and not really ever stopped doing or understand why they do it.
There’s nothing really wrong with flushing it. The only downside is that you may find that the valve that you open up at the bottom of the water heater once a year, one of these years it’s not going to want to shut again and you end up with an expensive repair. So I don’t think it’s critical but I don’t think it will hurt you unless the valve gets kind of gummed up at some point and starts to leak.
JOHN: That’s a good suggestion, Tom. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, one project that can really change the look of a kitchen is replacing the countertop but replacing the top can be expensive. Refinishing your countertop is not. And it can be easily accomplished with a kit made just for this project and we happen to be giving it away today.
TOM: That’s right. It’s called the SpreadStone Countertop Finishing Kit. It’s from Daich Coatings and it’s pretty neat stuff. It’s a real stone coating, so it looks great and it lasts. It’s heat-resistant, water-resistant, comes in 11 colors. You can find it online at Home Depot, Lowe’s and the Daich Coatings website at DaichCoatings.com – D-a-i-c-h – Coatings.com.
It’s worth 125 bucks but going out to one lucky listener. Make that you. This a project you’d like to get done, call us with your home improvement question. We will enter you into The Money Pit hard hat and might be drawing your name out at the end of the program. That number again: 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Next up, our caller has a great name. We’ve got Leslie on the line who’s got a question about cutting down a door.
LESLIE (CALLER): We have one door that I need to cut down. Goes into the basement.
LESLIE (CALLER): It’s also a six-panel, solid-core oak door.
LESLIE (CALLER): When we went to cut it off, there seems to be staples or some kind of small metal pieces inside the – there’s about 8 inches that go across the bottom. We were cutting that off or a portion of it – 6 inches of it. And it’s totally ruined a saw blade.
LESLIE (CALLER): Do you have any suggestions as how to cut off a solid-core door?
TOM: Yeah, having the staples inside of that is not unusual. Depends on how – they might have been used in the manufacturing process. I’ll be willing to bet that you used a non-carbide saw blade, because had you used a carbide saw blade, it would have probably cut through the metal and all.
LESLIE (CALLER): OK. So just use a carbide.
TOM: Use a carbide blade and safety glasses and not a great carbide blade, because it will ruin the blade. But generally, it’ll cut right through something like that.
LESLIE (CALLER): Alright. Thank you so much for your help.
LESLIE: Brent in Texas is on the line with a venting question. Tell us what’s going on.
BRENT: My question is about ridge venting. I’ve seen a couple of different places where people said, “Well, you can’t use the gable venting in conjunction with the ridge vent. It’d change the draw.” Of course, in the old balloon construction, the draw really comes up the balloon framing and vents into the attic, which goes out the gable vent. Would those need to be closed off? Would it work well in conjunction with each other or can I just stick with what’s there?
TOM: Well, the most important part of a ventilation system you didn’t mention and that’s at the soffits. Are you going to have soffit venting on this house?
BRENT: Well, since it is vented though the balloon framing now, I wasn’t sure if I really needed to add soffit venting, as well.
TOM: The best ventilation system that you could have – and I wouldn’t count much on the ventilation through the balloon framing because that’s presuming that the home is going to be pretty drafty. But remember, the purpose of that ventilation is to dry out the insulation that’s in the attic space. The best way to do that is with a combination of ridge and soffit vents because they work together.
And how they work together is that the wind blows and it presses up into the soffit vent, rides up under the roof sheathing and then exits at the ridge. The ridge is always in a depressurized area of the house because the wind hits that and sort of bounces off the roof and goes in a circular motion, which causes a draw at the ridge. And then, so, the positive pressure at the soffit goes under the sheathing, goes out at the ridge.
Now, your question is: what about the gable vent? And the answer is you should block it off because it does interrupt that flow of air from the soffit, under the sheathing and out the ridge. By having the gable vent, you get some sort of turbulence up there that interrupts that flow. So if you can have a soffit vent and a ridge vent, that’s the best situation. If you’re not going to have a soffit vent, frankly, it really doesn’t matter because you’re not going to have the pattern that we would like you to have and you just have another hole in the space to let air out.
But if you want to make it really efficient, put in soffit vents, put in ridge vents. And then if the gable vent comes through the wall in an old Queen Anne and you want to leave it for appearances, that’s fine. Just put something across the back of it so it doesn’t actually let air in.
BRENT: Alright. Well, that does help out. I appreciate your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to improve the energy efficiency of your home but you’re wondering what the best improvements might be, the EPA now has a program that provides a professional evaluation, a list of recommended improvements and if you make the updates, proof that the improvements actually worked.
TOM: Yep. It’s called the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program. And once you sign up, you’ll meet with a participating contractor who will review your concerns about your home’s energy use and take a look at your utility bills to better understand your home’s energy patterns.
Now, your contractor is going to use some tools, as well. They’ll assess your home’s heating system, cooling ducts, lighting appliances and other systems to make sure they understand and can determine where improvements are needed. They’re going to run some diagnostic tests to check your home’s structure for a possible air leakage and even use an infrared camera to find trouble spots.
LESLIE: Now, once the assessment is complete, the contractor is going to prepare a detailed work proposal outlining recommended improvements and can also show you how they may qualify for special financing or other incentives where they’re available.
Now, when the work is completed, your contractor is going to run another set of tests to measure the improvements in energy efficiency. Their work is also spot-checked by independent third parties. So you can now have confidence – I mean really, added confidence – that your project will be done correctly. This is a great way to save some cash.
TOM: Yeah. And I love the fact that they do pre- and post-testing because I can’t tell you how many times we see – you guys see the same advertisements that we do: “Install new windows. You’ll save 50 percent on your energy bill.” Well, if you had no windows and now you have windows, maybe. But you know, you have all kinds of crazy claims out there and the fact that there is a program where we’re doing a pre- and post-testing of energy efficiency is really the only way you know that it is done right. So I’m really glad to see that this program has been put in place by the folks at ENERGY STAR.
LESLIE: Ron in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RON: Yeah, I have a home with a crawlspace and I have had some moisture under there. And the builder, when he built it, he ran the runoff from the roof down into the French drains. I diverted that and it’s helped a lot but it’s still moist. And I’m asking if these encapsulated systems, where they trench the perimeter of the inside of the crawlspace and seal off the systems with a dehumidifier and a sump pump – how they work and if that’s a solution to these kinds of problems.
TOM: Alright. So, first of all, the roof drains were going where before you capped them off?
RON: Down in the French drain.
TOM: Yeah, that’s not too smart, huh?
RON: No, it wasn’t. I diverted that and it helped a lot but it’s still moist under there.
TOM: Alright. So, now that you’ve got the roof drains disconnected from the French drain, are those drains extending out away from the foundation perimeter?
RON: For sure.
TOM: How far out do they go?
RON: Oh, 20 feet?
TOM: Oh, OK. Well, that’s a good thing.
Alright. So the second thing that you could do, easily, is make sure that the soil that surrounds the foundation perimeter is sloped away. Most of the time, that soil settles after the house is built and becomes flatter or even inverted. So you want to make sure you have a pitch where the soil is running away from the foundation, dropping about 6 inches over 4 feet. You can plant something on that grass or mulch or stone after but make sure you have good, solid drainage.
Now, let’s talk about the vents in the crawlspace. You need to have enough vents, so probably one or two on each wall. You need to make sure that the crawlspace floor has a vapor barrier on it.
What’s the crawlspace floor now?
RON: It’s vapor barrier only.
TOM: It’s vapor barrier? So it’s completely covered in plastic?
TOM: OK. And then, the other thing that you could do is you could add vent fans to the walls and have them wired onto a humidistat.
TOM: So that when the moisture builds up inside the crawlspace because the humidity is high, the fans will come on and draw the drier air in from the outside.
TOM: So those are things that you could do now, without spending a whole lot of money, to try to dry that space out.
TOM: Now, the idea of encapsulating the crawlspace is not a bad approach and many homes are starting to be built that way today. But that literally means sealing everything off 110 percent.
TOM: So since you’re kind of closer to being able to improve the grading, improve the drainage, double-check that vapor barrier to make sure it’s really solid and it’s thick and covering every aspect of that crawlspace floor. Make sure if it overlaps, it overlaps about 10 feet. Make sure it’s up against the foundation walls and then get good ventilation – cross-ventilation – in there using some vent fans wired to humidistats. You may find that that gives you the rest of the moisture reduction that you – that was left over after you rerouted those drains.
RON: Alright. Sounds good. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ron. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Vicky in Louisiana is on the line with a shower-pressure issue, I would say.
Tell us what’s going on, Vicky.
VICKY: I have a shower and when I turn the handle all the way to the left, on hot, the pressure is fine. As I turn it to the right to get to the cold, it’s diminished. And when I get to the cold completely, it’s probably about 25 percent of what the hot is.
LESLIE: Is it only on this fixture or does it happen at other showers or other sinks?
VICKY: No, it’s just on that shower. Just that one shower.
TOM: OK. Alright. And how old is the house, Vicky?
VICKY: Ten years old.
TOM: Oh, so it’s a fairly new house. Well, it sounds to me like there’s a problem with this – that shower diverter. Right. If it’s just happening on that one fixture, that rules out a problem – a bigger problem – with the plumbing pipes.
VICKY: Mm-hmm. Fine.
TOM: So, for whatever reason, that diverter is not working properly. It could be clogged or obstructed in some way and it probably has to be – and it would have to be repaired or replaced.
VICKY: OK. So, is it something we can do at home or is the plumber going to have to go inside that wall to do that? The shower wall.
TOM: You can replace the guts of it from the shower side without tearing it out. If you have to replace the whole thing, then you have to go into the wall. And if you have to go into the wall, the way it’s usually done is by accessing that shower wall from the back side, depending on how your house is built, if that happens to be against …
VICKY: It’s in the bedroom.
TOM: Yeah, if it happens to be against a closet or a bedroom or something like that, generally that’s a lot easier than having to go through tile or whatever the surface is of your shower stall.
VICKY: Yeah, this is the acrylic – the one-piece shower.
TOM: Yeah. So if it had to be replaced, you’d go – you’d do it from the back. But a plumber should be able to repair that.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’ve got a worn bathtub, replacing it is a very expensive project. But a complete replacement may not be the only way to spruce up that worn look. We’ve got three ideas to get that reno done for less.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, let’s talk about tub replacement. Now, most tubs are set in an alcove or a corner, they’re overlapped by flooring and wall finishes to create that watertight seal. Plus, they have at least two plumbing connections. If you’re ready for a full-scale bathroom remodel, replacing that tub makes a lot of sense but it does require removing parts of that tile, the wall, the floor, all of it. Which is one reason this becomes an expensive project.
Now, tub liners and tub refinishing are two other options. And both can add years of life to an existing tub at a fraction of the cost of a full-scale replacement and also – and I think this is the best part – in a fraction of the time.
TOM: Yeah. Because bath renos, man, when they tear that bath apart, sometimes it could be weeks before it’s all put back together.
LESLIE: Yeah. You better have a neighbor that’s got a good bathroom.
Well, let’s talk about tub liners. First of all, what are they? Well, they’re basically made from the same material as sports equipment – like football helmets, for example – or airplane windshields. It’s kind of an ABS acrylic. And they’re made to fit inside your existing tub.
You know, when they developed these – this process of a tub liner – they actually have collections of old tubs – pretty much every old tub ever made – so the manufacturers can tell what tub you have and what shape you need by that. And they make them to fit inside that existing tub.
Installation is really pretty quick. The local rep is going to remove the drain and drop the new insert in and then put the whole thing back together. And you’ll be good to go inside of a day. The benefit is that you’re getting it done quickly but sometimes people are concerned that they lose a little bit of space in that tub. Not too much, though. I don’t think you’d lose more than a ½-inch or probably an inch in diameter, one way or the other, because of the thickness of the walls.
LESLIE: Now, next up, let’s talk about bathtub reglazing. So, reglazing or refinishing a worn-out bathtub is a more site-intensive process and it really does have to be done by a pro. And it calls for a lot of chemicals that are hazardous enough to require a respirator and also a special protective suit for that technician to wear who’s doing the work.
There are a ton of steps involved in this reglazing process. But just to give you a sense, it involves washing your tub in hydrofluoric acid, which is a highly toxic agent that not only dissolves what’s left of that porcelain glaze but it then etches the surface so whatever new finish you’re applying is going to adhere. But even though you’re taking off all of the old porcelain, the new surface is going to be a heavy-duty epoxy. And it’s still not going to be as durable as what originally came from the factory.
TOM: Now, if you’re just looking for a DIY solution that can make the tub look a little bit better but maybe just for a short while, take a look at Rust-Oleum’s Tub and Tile Paint. It’s a pretty easy product to install and can buy you maybe – I’m going to say 2 or 3 years before it’ll have to be done again. But I had a friend that told me that she was looking to redo her tub – her bathroom inside of a 5-year period. I said – well, she didn’t have the budget now to do it immediately. I said, “Go ahead and get the tub and tile paint. For you, you’re not using the bathroom that much, that tub that much. It may last you 4 or 5 years. But if it doesn’t, you could just do it again. I mean that product’s probably under 50 bucks and you can do that project yourself.”
Again, nothing – that won’t be near the durability of the porcelain finish but it’ll look good, it’ll look neat. And I don’t think anybody is going to notice it – except for you every time you step in that tub – that it’s not the original finish.
LESLIE: Well, that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: Apply for yours at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
Well, one project that can really change the look of a kitchen is replacing the countertop. But while replacing that top is pretty expensive, refinishing it is not. It can be easily accomplished with a kit, made just for this project, that we happen to be giving away today.
LESLIE: That’s right. The SpreadStone Countertop Finishing Kit from Daich Coatings, it really will deliver a beautiful and lasting performance of real stone. It’s heat-resistant, it’s water-resistant and it comes in 11 colors, so your inner designer can definitely come out and rework in your kitchen. The kit’s available online at Home Depot, Lowe’s and the Daich Coatings website at D-a-i-c-h-C-o-a-t-i-n-g-s.com and it’s $125.
TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random, so make that you. You’ve got to call us with a home improvement question. You can’t just ask to be put into the drawing. You’ve got to ask us your question, because that’s why we offer this cool stuff: so that you guys will pick up the phone or post your question at MoneyPit.com. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Nancy in Pennsylvania needs some help with a heating question. What can we do for you today?
NANCY: Well, I live in an all-electric house that was built in the 60s and it has electric baseboard heat. And those things are ugly. Is there anything that I can replace them with that’s more modern-looking? Because these have the old grillwork and they get dust and dirt. And every time you turn the heat on, you have to burn the dust off and it’s just – and it’s hard to put furniture around it, because it takes up the whole length of the wall. Is there anything that they can be replaced with or anything that would look more modern?
LESLIE: So, now, you’re looking for a way to get rid of the baseboard heating in total with a different heating system, correct? Not changing the electricity source but just changing the heat unit itself.
NANCY: Yeah. Just getting rid of that baseboard and replacing it with something that looks better, that looks more modern than this old, metal grillwork.
LESLIE: Well, they make covers for them. You know, if you look online, there’s one company called RadiantWraps.com. And they’re covers for baseboard heaters, regardless of the fuel source: electricity, gas, steam. And that can look like a variety of things, so you can get something that’s a little more traditional, something that’s more rustic, something that’s more modern that will cover up that basic slant/fin model that you associate with a baseboard heater. There’s perforated models that are just – cover over the fin look and make that one look disappear.
So it’s up to you. I mean if you’re looking for something different, then go for a radiant source that’s wall-mounted. But if you want to just cover up what you’ve got, look online. One company to check out is Radiant Wraps.
NANCY: OK. Yeah, I just want something that looks nicer and more modern.
TOM: Yeah, well, I think that will do it for you. Radiant Wraps. Take a look.
NANCY: OK, I will. Thank you.
LESLIE: If an appliance is on your holiday list, more likely than not you’re going to be asked if you’d like to buy an extended warranty for that product. And you’re wondering if it makes any sense. Well, the Federal Trade Commission says millions of consumers pay for protection that they don’t need. So to keep you from wasting money, you’ve got to do your homework.
TOM: That’s right. So, first, you want to compare coverage. You want to know what the basic warranty covers to see if the extended warranty truly provides you with enough additional coverage. Also, know your appliance. Check its repair reputation online to see how likely it is that it’s actually going to break down.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you also want to check for hidden costs. Now, extended warranties often have deductibles, they have service fees or even cancellation charges. And you’ve got to find out whether a technician is going to come to your home or you have to take it in to be serviced. And then find out how far away those repair locations are, because they might not be close.
TOM: Exactly. And finally, you will not only see these extended warranties offered on appliances. Any toy store, sporting-goods store, electronics store will try to tack these product-protection plans, so-called, onto a sale right at the register. That’s the worst place for you to make a decision. So because, as we’ve shown you, you really do need to do your homework first.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Andrew in North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with shower-drain issues. What’s going on?
ANDREW: When you take a shower, about a couple minutes after the water has been running, it’ll start to back up, to some degree, into the shower itself. And if you take a plunger and you use the plunger up and down, up and down maybe four or five times and you pull it up, all of a sudden, as the water starts to go out slowly, you’ll get a slurping noise. And then you get through taking a shower and it’s running out. But you can go back in and 20 minutes later and the same thing happens again.
TOM: Right. So you know what that slurping noise is?
ANDREW: No, sir.
TOM: It’s your shower drain gasping for air. For some reason, that shower drain is not vented properly. So, as the water drains out, you create sort of a suction and that’s what slows it down. And so I suspect with you using that plunger, you’re freeing up that suction and loosening up the water so it has a chance to grab enough air and go down.
Was this shower added after the home was built, by any chance?
ANDREW: No, sir. It’s been that way and – of course, the plumber said there was nothing wrong. I said, “Well, there has to be something wrong.”
TOM: Yeah, if you’re getting a gurgling sound like that, you’re not getting enough air in it. And so it sounds to me like you probably need to add an additional vent. This is assuming that there’s no clog there.
ANDREW: Right. Because we used – my wife has used Liquid-Plumr, I’ve used a plunger, the plunger, the plungers and it goes out. But then when you stop, the same thing happens again.
TOM: Right. Well, I wouldn’t use the chemicals. What you could do is run a snake down that line and make sure it’s clear.
TOM: Just to make sure there’s no hair or any other kind of gunk that’s trapped in there. But generally, when you have a drain like that that’s gurgling, it’s looking for additional air. And it usually means that the vent is not there or the vent is obstructed and that’s what’s really going to be the source of this: making sure we have enough air in there.
If you had to add additional vents to it, depending on how easy or difficult it is to get to that line, it is possible.
ANDREW: I appreciate your help and thank you, again.
LESLIE: Jessica has been wondering what’s going on with the plumbing in her walls. Listen to this: she’s got a knocking sound and it’s not somebody knocking on the bathroom door. She says it actually happens after she’s turning on the hot water in the bathtub. What’s going on?
TOM: That’s kind of freaky.
LESLIE: Yeah. Who’s there?
TOM: There’s two common causes of that kind of plumbing-pipe noise. The first …
LESLIE: Annoying children.
TOM: Well, besides that.
LESLIE: Oh, no, that’s not the first? OK. Sorry, I got confused.
TOM: They don’t really – yeah, unless they’re banging on the pipes.
LESLIE: Well, true. And they don’t actually knock on the door, either.
TOM: I don’t know. My kids did. They wanted to get into any room we were in. They would always bang on the door.
The first is expansion because when you turn on the water, the pipe will expand, right? The copper will expand. And if it’s installed in such a way that it’s really tight to the wood framing, it sort of stretches across that framing and moves and it makes kind of like a cricking or a knocking sound. And that’s why it’s only going to happen when the hot water is running, because it happens kind of as the pipe expands and then also as it cools.
The second reason it happens is called “water hammer.” And water hammer happens when the water is running through the pipes and then you turn the valve off but the water keeps going. And the force of that water has sort of an impact on the pipe and it shakes it. And that’s what they call “water hammer.”
Now, the solution for the first problem is just to tighten up the pipes a little bit more, if you can get to them. Especially if they’re – let’s say the bathroom is on the first floor and the basement’s unfinished. If you see that plumbing, you could add additional clamps.
And the same thing with the water hammer. You’re usually going to find that you have a long supply line somewhere, like across the basement floor or crawlspace floor, that wasn’t properly secured. And if you tighten that up, then basically, there’s nowhere for the pipes – no way for this pipe to move, no shake to happen and hence, no noise to make. So, securing those pipes is the reason.
And if that water hammer is really, really bad, there’s also an additional part called a “water-hammer arrestor.” Think of it as sort of a shock absorber for your plumbing system. And it basically is designed to sort of take that force and slow it down so it doesn’t bang the pipes around.
LESLIE: Alright. And then that will hopefully allow Jessica to have a nice, relaxing soak in the tub.
Now, Kent writes in saying, “I have a couple of plastic, electrical boxes where the screw holes for the outlet are broken. They’re on the backsplash of the kitchen counter and I don’t want to have to retile that backsplash. Any idea on how I can secure the outlets?”
TOM: This is a real jam that Kent has himself in here because the boxes are – it sounds like the tile is around the boxes. And the boxes are cracked, the screw holes are cracked and so he has no way to secure the outlet to the box itself.
So I, think this calls for a creative solution, Leslie. Here’s what I’m thinking. I think if you were to mix up some epoxy, some two-part epoxy – like a paste epoxy where you have part A, part B. And if you did that and were to add sort of a blob of that epoxy where those screw holes used to be, imagine yourself building up another piece of that electrical box. Let it dry and then do a pilot hole into that epoxy. It’ll drill just like plastic. And then use that as the place you drive a wood-threaded screw in to hold the outlet in place. I’m sure that will work. It’s just going to require a couple of steps.
LESLIE: Alright, Kent. I hope that helps you out and you get those nice looking outlets happening again.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for taking a little time with us on today’s program. If you have a question, you didn’t – weren’t able to get through or we weren’t able to answer it, you can post that question to MoneyPit.com. Or if you’re working around the house this weekend and think, “Gosh, I’d love to know how to do X or Y” or whatever it is – “How do I fix this squeak? How do I make my rooms look bigger?” Whatever question comes to mind, you can also reach us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we promise we’ll call you back the next time we are.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2021 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)