In this episode…
When the weather outside is frightful, icicles are NOT so delightful and could lead to big roof leaks. In this episode, Tom & Leslie have tips, plus ideas on how to attract winter birds and smart strategies to carve out space for hobbies, including:
- The 3 most popular types of roof that stand up to winter’s harsh weather and the one element that is often left out of a roof replacement and leads to major winter leak damage.
- Learn how to bring life and color to your backyard by attracting a variety of winter birds with the right kind of bird feeder and food.
- Whether you enjoy crafts, woodwork or working on a car, find out how to organize your workspace for efficiency including the single biggest mistake DIY’rs make when setting up workspaces.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about leaking light fixtures, best stain resistant grout, cleaning moss from a roof, painting vinyl siding and more.
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: Welcome to the new year. This is, what, weekend number two? Have you taken on those home improvement resolutions that you promised you were going to do last week yet? Well, if not, it’s OK. We will get you back in the spirit of getting those projects underway. If you call us, right now, we can help you with home improvements you planned, home improvements you’ve ignored, décor projects you’re looking forward to take on. Whatever is on your to-do list, slide it over to ours and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Well, when the weather outside is frightful, those icicles are not so delightful when they form on your roof edge. It could be a sign of ice dams. And when that happens, you could be heading towards some pretty serious roof leaks. So we’re going to have some tips to avoid that happening to you, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And don’t settle for a dreary outdoor view all winter long. You can bring some life and color to your backyard by attracting a variety of winter birds if you’ve got the right kind of birdfeeder and the right kind of food. We’re going to show you how.
TOM: And do you enjoy sewing and scrapbooking or woodworking? We’re going to have tips to help you step up that space for hobbies and more.
LESLIE: Plus, if you’re a DIYer, we’ve got a great giveaway today. It’s a set of the iconic Pony Pipe Clamp Fixtures. They’re super convenient because they’re designed to work on any length of ¾-inch black iron pipe. So, you provide the pipe and Pony does the rest.
TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Give us a call right now. Let’s talk about your next home improvement project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kevin in Texas is dealing with a dangerous situation. You’ve got water leaking through a light in your kitchen?
KEVIN: I actually live in an apartment but nevertheless, my concerns are obviously valid for my health and so forth. All of a sudden, water started coming through the light fixture in the kitchen. And I threw down buckets and went up and knocked on the gentleman upstairs’ door and it turned out his washing machine had gone crazy and had put a bunch of water in my ceiling that – most of which came right through the light fixture, point of least resistance.
LESLIE: Oh, wow.
KEVIN: However, I can tell that it got into the rest of the ceiling. There’s a place where this living room is bowed in with the stain, so I know that it got wet up inside there. And furthermore, the guy, when he was made aware of it, apparently thought that it wouldn’t act up anymore and actually turned on his washing machine again and went and stepped into the shower. And so it just leaked profusely until we could finally get his attention, between me and Maintenance.
TOM: Oh, my God.
KEVIN: Yeah. I mean we’re sitting there with shop vac, buckets and mops and just shaking our heads.
KEVIN: So it was a one-time event, so it wasn’t an ongoing leak. And I was wondering what my risks are of black mold. Is there a test? Is there a preventative? What’s the story with that?
TOM: Yeah, it’s a good question. But here’s the good news: a single leak like that that happened and then dried out is not going to become an ongoing mold problem. If it stays wet for a long, long time and especially if it’s in an unheated place, it’s more likely to become a mold problem. But a single leak like that is not.
And also, one more point and that is you mentioned that your ceiling bowed. If – and I hope it doesn’t – but if that ever happens to you again, what you want to do is somewhat counterintuitive but that is to poke a hole in the ceiling wherever you see that water starting to form.
TOM: Because it’s easier to fix a hole than it is to replace the entire ceiling, which is probably what’ll end up having to be done. But when you see water coming through like that, what you should do is grab a screwdriver and just poke a couple of holes until you find the spot where the water just starts dripping out.
TOM: The quicker you can empty that ceiling of water, the better off you’re going to be.
And we had a problem like that not too long ago because of a piece of flashing that blew off our roof. And the first thing I did was took a Phillips screwdriver and poked three or four holes until I found the right spot. All that water drained right out and all I had to do was fix those holes. And it didn’t even have a stain on the ceiling when we were done.
KEVIN: Wow, yeah. That’s good advice there. I guess I should have thought of that but when you’re renting, you’re a little bit reluctant to do that.
TOM: Yeah, you don’t know. And that’s why I always take the opportunity to mention it, because it’s – first of all, you don’t have the experience because, thankfully, people don’t get these kinds of leaks. But secondly, it’s very counterintuitive because you don’t want to damage your ceiling. Well, it’s already damaged once that water is behind it and it’s going to get a lot worse really fast unless you poke a hole in it.
KEVIN: Good point, though. Good point. Alright. Thank you, guys.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Christine on the line who’s got a question about grout. What is going on at your money pit?
CHRISTINE: So, I have a renovation going on and one bathroom has white shower tile and white floor tile. And I wanted to use white grout on both the shower wall and the floor. My architect says, “Don’t use white. It’ll get so dirty so fast.” My boss says she has two rooms and they’re both all white grout and they don’t get dirty. And then there was somebody else who said – you know, there’s opinions on both sides.
CHRISTINE: I want to know, what is the right answer?
Well, Leslie, I think it really comes down to the type of grout. If it’s sand grout, it’s much more likely to get dirty than if it’s an epoxy grout, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. And it also depends if you treat it after the grout is applied. There are some steps you can take to make sure that once the grout is applied, it can stay cleaner longer. And there’s different ways that you can apply that grout sealer, as well.
CHRISTINE: OK. So …
LESLIE: Taking notes?
CHRISTINE: I am. I am.
TOM: So we think that white’s probably a fine choice. And yes, there may be a bit more maintenance. But if you do seal – if it’s sand grout, like the whiter grout joints for the floor, and you seal those properly, you minimize that. And for the tile walls, if you use an epoxy grout then you really have no worries, because that’s just as – almost as easy to clean as the tile itself.
CHRISTINE: Oh, OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: If you are a woodworker, if you’re a hobbyist, if you like to tackle big projects, maybe you work on furniture, you most likely either have in your shop now or would like to have or perhaps you grew up with Mom or Dad or uncle that had these: a set of Pony Pipe Clamps.
These are really unique clamps because, basically, you supply the pipe and the clamp basically just attaches to it. And therefore, if you want a smaller set of pipe clamps, like 3-footers, you just use smaller pipe. But these Pony Pipe Clamps are awesome. They are America’s most popular and widely-used type of pipe clamp. They’re crafted with strong, durable iron casting.
They’re going out to one listener drawn at random. If that’s you, you are going to love this set of pipe clamps. They have a multiple-disc clutch design and that allows a secure hold and instant adjustment at any point along the pipe.
You can check out PonyJorgensen.com to learn more. But we would love for you to pick up the phone. If you are a hobbyist, a woodworker, a furniture maker, somebody who would really enjoy winning this product, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Justin on the line, who is from Philly but living in D.C., with a question for The Money Pit. How can we help you?
JUSTIN: So I just got a new house in D.C. Got a great foundation. It’s a lot of home to love and a lot of home to fix, so we’re just getting started on that.
JUSTIN: And the basement, while in good condition from the moisture perspective, does have asbestos tile and that asbestos seems to have been raised up in some points, at different – due to construction from previous tenants for the house. Looks like they did some electric work, so you see that black mastic and you have the asbestos tile. I’m getting it tested now, actually.
So, I wanted to know – I don’t want to try to do a self-leveling compound over it or anything, because it’s – I would basically have to self-level compound the entire basement. And then the next people living in this house might get a surprise in the future when they’re trying to do construction themselves.
JUSTIN: So I wanted to know, what’s the best way to go about this? Because it seems to be very prohibitively – the entire probably 800-square-foot basement, when I’m getting some estimates from people, it looks like it’s going to be four thousand, five thousand bucks. And I’m willing to put that type of investment in if it’s the right thing to do, because we want to put down some floating vinyl – luxury vinyl – flooring or something like that. And just want to get your input.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, the asbestos tile, we’re talking about vinyl asbestos tile. And isn’t it reasonably intact, in terms of its condition right now?
JUSTIN: Much of it is. And then there’s one room – it’s a two-room with a hallway type of basement. One room, they had to do some electric work or something. They clearly dug up a lot of it and then put something over where they dug up. And so there’s one part where it looks like they did some damage but then they tried to do some repair to reduce the damage, that type of thing. But yes.
TOM: Is the floor itself pretty flat?
JUSTIN: The floor itself is – I haven’t put a level to it but it looks relatively flat, except for that part where it’s repaired.
TOM: Did the work, right.
JUSTIN: Yeah. And it’s very not level there. Probably maybe ½-centimeter, centimeter in difference.
TOM: OK. Well, first of all, the type of asbestos that you’re describing is asbestos that’s held inside of a vinyl binder. When you have asbestos in an old house that was used – like heating pipe on old steam pipes that looks kind of like a corrugated cardboard but it’s white. Or sometimes, you see it on old ducts where it looks almost like it was covered with a plaster cloth. Those types of asbestos products are much more likely to release asbestos fibers into the air.
And when you’re talking about asbestos tile or cement-asbestos shingle, like you might see on the outside of the house, you have a far lower chance of being exposed on the asbestos with that kind of product, because it’s just held by the binder. It’s not friable, it’s not deteriorated.
If I had that on the floor, I would leave it alone. I would put my new flooring right on top of it. I would not take it up because by taking it up, you risk breaking some of those fibers loose. I don’t really see any reason to do it. It’s pretty thin stuff. And you could put a luxury-vinyl floor, like an extruded-vinyl plank, right on top of that.
But I will say that regardless of what you do about the asbestos, when you get to that area that is not level, there you may need to do some floor-leveling compound. Because those vinyl products are not very forgiving to uneven floors and they tend to have a lot of difficulty with the joints – the tongue-and-groove locking joints – sticking together when the floor gets a little out of control like that. The other option, of course, would be laminate floor, which is a little more sturdy in terms of the locking joints. But the vinyl plank does really, really well.
I was just speaking with a friend of mine this weekend who called in the midst of a basement vinyl-plank project. She had bought all the vinyl planking from one store and she was snapping it together. And she says, “It’s not staying together. I get three boards down and the other end comes out.” So after confirming that she was absolutely positive they were putting it together the right way, I said, “Stop what you’re doing. Take it back to the store.”
And it was hard because you get a head of steam going, you really want to finish this project. But at that point, that particular product just was not suitable for this location. And I said, “Put it back in the box, take it back to the store and you need to buy a better product.” I sent her over to Lumber Liquidators, because I had actually used one of their luxury vinyl-plank products there. It was called CoreLuxe, I think. And I used it in my mom’s kitchen and she was thrilled with the result. And I found that it was pretty easy to work with.
But I think I would just tend to go right on top of that asbestos vinyl tile. I would not pull it up.
JUSTIN: And you’d try doing the self-leveling compound? You wouldn’t try using – I know they come in with the hazmats and all that to try to pull it up. You would not …
TOM: Why would you go through all that trouble? Now, I mean that one area? No, I would just try to get whatever I had in there done to make it work. And it may not even be compound; you might even fill in some of it with a solid material so that you have less compound to do. You know, that’s where the craftsmanship part of the job comes in.
But in terms of that floor, I don’t think I would take the asbestos vinyl. I don’t think there’s a big risk even having it in the house because, again, it’s not loose, it’s not deteriorated. It’s not likely to be released to the air. I think the risk happens when you start tearing it all up.
JUSTIN: Yeah, I was only worried because it may not only be the tile but it might also be the mastic that needs – but both are OK. Yeah. OK, yeah, that was kind of what I was feeling but I also wanted peace of mind like, oh, maybe I should remove it. I’m not sure.
TOM: Well, you don’t want to pull the loose thread on the suit, you know what I mean? Sometimes, it comes right out and sometimes the whole thing comes apart. So I would stay away from that and I would just go right over it.
This is why we call home improvement an “adventure,” because you never know how it’s going to end up.
JUSTIN: Yeah, for sure. For sure. We’re looking forward to doing it, though.
TOM: Alright. Well, listen, good luck with that project. And let us know how you make out, Justin, OK?
JUSTIN: Yeah, will do. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Well, a reality of home ownership is that roofs may last a long time but eventually, they’re going to need to be replaced, which is especially evident in the winter when rough weather punishes roofs and ice dams form pretty much on a regular basis.
TOM: Yeah. And if you do need a roof, it can be pretty confusing to sort out the best choice.
So, first, let’s talk about metal roofing. I really love metal roofing. It saves energy and it can last more than a century, literally. The downside, though, is you’re going to have to shell out a little bit more money for it.
But a less costly option is, of course, asphalt shingles. It’s the most popular roofing material. Generally lasts about 20 to 25 years. But here’s a key to the installation: you’ve got to remove those old layers. If you don’t, it won’t last nearly as long as it could.
LESLIE: Yeah. And for flatter, low-slope applications, built-up roofs are great but they can be hard to repair, which is why a better solution is rubberized roofing. Now, these can go down in sheets. And if the workmanship is done well, they can be a super-watertight option.
TOM: Now, no matter what kind of roof you put on, you need to prevent ice dams. So, to do that, a couple of things. First of all, make sure you’ve got plenty of insulation matched with plenty of ventilation in your attic space. Don’t block off those soffits with that insulation. Let the cold air come in the soffits, ride up under the sheathing and exit at the ridge. That kind of circulation will prevent the ice dam from forming at the roof edge.
The second thing you can do is use a material called “ice-and-water shield,” especially if you’re using asphalt shingles. Really critical addition is ice-and-water shield. It starts at the roof edge, goes up about 3 feet so it kind of covers where the exterior wall aligns with the roof. And this way, if ice builds up there and then it melts up higher on the roof – sometimes, the water runs down – it’ll back up at that dam and come into the house and leak. That could be a problem. But the ice-and-water shield will stop that from happening.
And finally, if you do ever get an ice dam and ice-dam damage, the good news is it’s usually covered by homeowners insurance. So, you can click your heels, do the happy dance because you may be getting yourself a brand-new roof courtesy of your homeowners-insurance company.
LESLIE: Katherine in Wisconsin is on the line with a soundproofing issue. Tell us what’s going on.
KATHERINE: I live in a condo with a basement and there’s an I-beam that runs through the basement. And when I’m in the basement, I can hear my neighbors from two houses down talking in their living room, because their voices travel down the I-beam.
KATHERINE: So I was – yeah. So I was interested in covering the I-beam somehow to reduce the noise but I wasn’t sure what the best way to do that would be.
TOM: Well, there’s a couple things you can do. First of all, can you frame in the I-beam so that it’s – like has something that we can attach a drywall to?
KATHERINE: Yeah, yeah, I could. I just wasn’t sure what to do that with or if that would help.
TOM: OK. So once you – yeah, once you frame it in, there’s a product called QuietRock.
TOM: And it’s a soundproofing drywall. It’s sold at Lowe’s. It’s pretty expensive. Regular drywall is 5 bucks a sheet; QuietRock is about 40 bucks a sheet. So it’s pretty expensive but you don’t need a lot.
LESLIE: Yeah. But if she can hear them, they can hear her.
TOM: Yeah. But you don’t need a lot. You don’t need a lot. So, if you can frame-in that beam and you’re sure that’s where it’s coming from, you may want to think about using QuietRocks to actually cover the I-beam and that should do the trick.
KATHERINE: Oh, really? So I wouldn’t need to put additional insulation between the …
TOM: No. Insulation is – insulation doesn’t really work as a soundproofing material.
KATHERINE: OK, OK.
TOM: It’s kind of a misnomer to think that insulation works on a wall. It’s cheap but it really doesn’t do much. The QuietRock absorbs the vibration of the sound and I think that’s what you need to do.
KATHERINE: OK, great. And the QuietRock is just spelled like it sounds?
TOM: Yep. Q-u-i-e-t – Rock. If you go to Lowes.com, you can find it right there. And I was able to find it; I needed it for a project. I was able to find it right in my local Lowe’s.
KATHERINE: Thank you. Bye.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Dan on the line calling us from Madison, Mississippi. How can we help you today at The Money Pit?
DAN: I’ve decorated several homes. And just recently, I was at my mom’s down in Woodville, Mississippi decorating her house. She has a house that’s on the National Registry on Main Street. And we did her Christmas tree and we used, probably, 12 strands of lights and it was gorgeous. And we left the room for 15 minutes, came back and every one of the lights were out.
TOM: Did you blow a fuse?
DAN: I didn’t know anything about the fuses being in the wires. And I didn’t know that there was a maximum numbers of strings (inaudible).
TOM: Well, you do now. You do now.
DAN: Yes, sir. I do. So, I did not know that there were the fuses. So I began to take all the lights off and try and start over. Yes, sir.
DAN: So I know that you all can give me some great advice on that subject. And I wanted to call you because I listen to you all every Saturday morning on the way to work in Jackson, Mississippi.
TOM: That’s awesome. Yeah, well, when it comes to those holiday light strings, if they’re incandescent, even if they’re the mini-bulbs, you usually can’t put more than about three of them together before you start to risk blowing the fuses. And as you’ve discovered, the fuses are the tiniest, little things and they’re mounted inside the male end of the fuse plug. And you have to open those up, pop them out and replace them.
A better option would have been to go with LED strings, which are so widely available today. In fact, I bought one just today to replace an incandescent line of mini-bulbs that had burned out, for 9 bucks, 100 bulbs. You can’t beat it. They’re super bright and you could put about 12 to 15 of those strings together and not have to ever worry about blowing a fuse.
DAN: My partner is big on the LEDs. He’s our “tech guy,” I call him. And he was saying we needed to switch everything over to LEDs because it’s so much cheaper, you know?
DAN: Also, with the cost-effectiveness and everything – I have found that I buy a lot of my decorations. I work for Goodwill Industries and you would be shocked at these amazing deals you can find on Christmas decorations at your local Goodwill stores.
TOM: Right. Oh, I bet, huh.
DAN: I don’t know if a lot of people know that or not.
TOM: Huh. How about that? Well, that’s a really good point.
DAN: That’s probably one of the number-one items we have donated at Goodwill stores.
TOM: Hey, well, why not? That’s a great – it’s a great place to get your décor.
DAN: It is, it is. So …
TOM: And even for anything else you want to upcycle throughout the year, there’s great furniture there that with a little paint and TLC could take on a whole second life.
DAN: It surely can. So stick with the three strands, change out the fuses and upgrade next year is you all’s advice.
TOM: Yep. Alright, alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
DAN: Thank you all. I certainly appreciate it.
TOM: Well, if you’d like to add some life into your backyard during the winter season, you might want to think about making some simple changes that will help you attract winter birds.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, all birds don’t catch that red-eye for Mexico at the first sign of cold weather. Even in the most Northern parts of the U.S., there’s cardinals, woodpeckers, finches and so many more winter-loving birds. And you could attract them to your yard by simply giving them the right food.
Now, most winter birds eat seeds. They have to because the insects are hard to find in the cold weather. So you’ve got to stock up on both sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. The great thing about safflower is that squirrels don’t like them, so you don’t have to worry about a squirrel stealing all of the stash for their winter storage.
And if you love woodpeckers, you can hang suet for them. But make sure you hang it high, because most winter mammals also like suet.
TOM: And don’t forget about water. Break up ice in bird baths or add warm water to melt that ice and the birds will feel very welcome in your yard. They’ll flock to you from all over and enjoy the refreshments that you have provided. And at the same time, they give you something very pretty to look at.
We’ve got some beautiful birds in our yard. We’ve got one of these feeders that is totally squirrel-proof. And it’s funny because we get to watch the squirrel trying to figure out how to get in this feeder. But the thing is, he really doesn’t have to get in there, because the birds are a little – they’re kind of sloppy eaters and they leave a lot of seed on the ground right under it. They kind of co-exist and they get along just fine. Mother Nature at its finest.
Now we’ve got Steve on the line who’s dealing with a vinyl-siding issue. Tell us what’s going on.
STEVE: I bought a house last summer and was further looking at it closely. I noticed that the siding is severely oxidized and I was – I tried a little baby oil on a section of it and it looked good for about a month but I think there’s one …
TOM: Baby oil?
TOM: Baby oil?
TOM: Well, is your house your baby?
TOM: And a house is certainly as expensive as children, that’s for sure.
STEVE: Like I say, it looked good for about a month. It brought all the color back to it.
TOM: When those oils dry out, of course, that’s going to be the end of it. Vinyl siding is not really designed for oil but I will tell you this: there are paints that you can put on top of vinyl siding. So it is possible to paint a vinyl-sided house.
That said, you know what comes after paint, don’t you? Repaint. So, once you start this process, you’re going to end up having to paint it again, Steve. But you can paint vinyl siding. You just need to make sure – I would go to a Sherwin Williams or a good-quality paint supplier like that and make sure that you pick up a paint that is rated for vinyl siding.
STEVE: Does it peel pretty easy?
TOM: No. It’s designed to adhere. That’s why it has to be special for vinyl.
STEVE: Oh, I see.
STEVE: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Steve. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: And hey, here’s another great reason to reach out by phone or post your questions. We’ve got up for grabs, this hour, the Pony Pipe Clamp Fixture Package. Now, this is America’s most popular and even widely-used pipe-clamp fixture design. It’s made with strong, durable iron casting.
If you want to check out what the Pony Pipe Clamp Fixture does, look at their website at PonyJorgensen.com. You can see the entire Pony Jorgensen product line right there. But we’ve got a set of Pony Clamps going out one listener who’s drawn at random this hour. So make that you and give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mary in North Carolina is on the line with a mossy roof. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
MARY: Well, we have a 10-year-old roof – asphalt shingles, I believe they are – and the sections between shingles are beginning to be filled up with moss.
LESLIE: It’s like a mossy grout line.
MARY: Yeah, that’s right. I’d like to know how to get it safely clean and keep it from growing back again. It isn’t the entire roof. We are in an A-frame house, so it’s very sharp, very steep roof. And it’s just about the 8 or 10 feet closest to the edge.
LESLIE: OK. Do you see it all the way around or do you just see it on, say, the north-facing side or in the area …?
MARY: It’s just on this north-facing part.
LESLIE: OK. So that’s the area that gets the least amount of sunlight.
LESLIE: Do you have a large tree that’s adding more shade to this area?
MARY: We have a lot of trees, yeah.
LESLIE: A lot of trees.
TOM: Yeah, therein lies the problem.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, the best solution here is – can you trim out or thin out those trees in any way to get more sunlight onto that portion of the roof? Because if you can do that, sunlight really is your best weapon in getting rid of this moss and keeping it away. Now, you’ll have to do some work to get it to be gone in the first place but if you can add more sunlight, you’re going to help it stay away.
MARY: Alright. Very good. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, many of us have dreamed up a space in our homes that’s dedicated to our favorite hobby. Now, maybe for you it’s a workshop or a sewing room, maybe a writer’s nook or even an art studio. Well, there’s no better time than right now to live your dream right at home. So, to do so, you’ve got to start by asking yourself some basic questions. How much space and storage does your hobby need? Do you need outlets? How many of them? Does it require special ventilation, the projects that you work on?
Now, when you think about your existing space, you want to think about how you’d use maybe a closet space if you take the doors off. Is that enough room to have some sort of a worktable or a desk? Look for space maybe in your basement or even in your garage.
And think about it: just because a room in your house is called the “dining room,” it doesn’t mean that you have to use it that way. I mean how many people actually sit down and use that formal dining room on a regular basis? So it might be more beneficial to you to have that space turned into something that you’re going to use every day.
TOM: Now, when planning your room, you want to think about the three most important areas. So, for example, if you are creating a sewing room, those key areas could be your cutting table or your sewing area and maybe your ironing board. If you’re a woodworker, it could be a table saw, a radial arm saw and maybe a workbench.
You know, in the kitchen, we call this the “working triangle.” It’s basically the space between the range, the refrigerator and the sink. And the idea applies here because if you keep that triangle as tight as possible, you’re going to save a lot of steps and the area becomes a lot easier to use.
LESLIE: Eric in Alaska is on the line with an insulation question. Tell us about it.
ERIC: I have a crawlspace and I’m trying to figure out what – the best way to keep the temperature a bit warmer than it is down there and to keep my floors in the home from getting so cold. I’ve got hardwood – ceramic-tile floors.
ERIC: And my – all of my plumbing is in the crawlspace. My pressure tank is down there, so I need to keep the temperature somewhat warm down there so I don’t freeze my pipes up.
TOM: OK. How much insulation do you have in the floor above the crawlspace area now?
TOM: Is it completely – oh, you have none? Well, see, now there would be a good place to start, Eric.
ERIC: Right, right.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s going to make a huge difference.
TOM: So, what you want to do there is if you have – let’s just say your floor joists are 2x10s, then you’re going to use 10 inches of insulation. You want to fill up that entire cavity with insulation. You can use unfaced fiberglass batts. The first place you insulate is the box joists – that’s around the outside perimeter – and then you work your way in to the floor joists.
TOM: You can use insulation hangers to hold it in place. And that’s going to make an enormous difference warming up that floor.
You may find that the crawlspace becomes a bit warmer as a result of that. Or you may find it becomes colder because now the heat from upstairs is not getting down there. Is there a concern of water pipes or anything like that freezing?
ERIC: Yeah, that’s what my concern is if I insulate the floor there. My pressure tank and all of my plumbing fixtures and drains are all down there.
TOM: You don’t have to worry about the drains freezing, OK? They’re never going to hold enough water to freeze and break. As far as the plumbing pipes are concerned, if you do have pipes that are below the insulation – if they’re in the insulation, you don’t have to worry about it. If they’re below the insulation, then you can insulate those themselves with insulation sleeves that just fit around them and get taped off.
So, insulate the pipes, insulate the floor joists and I think you’re going to find it’s a lot more comfortable as a result.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to catch back up with Dot in Arizona who we gave some ideas on her kitchen remodel. And we want to hear how it went.
Dot, what’s going on?
DOT: Our electrician came and he ended up tooling out a hole in the concrete slab and running conduit through it and made our pass-through – what used to be a peninsula, turned it into an island for us. So we got it all solved.
TOM: Oh, that’s great. So, in other words, you were trying to put down laminate floor and you were wondering how to get the wiring from one side of the kitchen over to the island which, by its very nature, is an island. So you had to do that in a way that would be invisible.
DOT: Very good.
TOM: Well, that was probably a lot of work for the electrician but I’m glad it worked out.
DOT: It did. It worked out great. He did a super job. But I listen to your show and I appreciate you guys.
TOM: Alright. Take care. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
You can send us a question through MoneyPit.com. And that is exactly what Monty in Virginia did.
LESLIE: That’s right. Monty writes: “Can you tell me the lowest temperature I can set my thermostat to to keep my pipes from freezing while I’m away on vacation?”
LESLIE: What do you think? Mildly warm to not-so cold or just right?
TOM: Yeah, right. Just right. Yeah, set it to just right.
LESLIE: I’m going to dial it to just right.
TOM: You know, here’s the thing, Monty: it depends, really, on your house because there could be some areas that are colder than others. All homes, if pipes do freeze, they usually freeze in the same place it first – like for us, we have a really old house. And we used to have plumbing that ran up an exterior wall that actually faced south but it was the wall that got the coldest because of the way the wind was. And they would always freeze there until I got around to re-running them in a better way so they didn’t freeze anymore.
But it depends on where – how your house’s situation – what kind of insulation you have, because setting the thermostat is only part of this. It really is important that the house is well insulated on top of that.
So, I would say that – I would probably not dare to set that much lower than about 60, maybe 62. I wouldn’t go much lower than that until I really had a pretty strong feeling the house is going to be OK. But the other thing you want to do is make sure you turn off your main water line, because there’s no reason to leave that valve on when you go away. This way, if you do get a pipe break, you’re going to find out about it pretty quick when you come back home and turn the water back on and hear it running out in places it probably shouldn’t be.
So, turn the water off when you go away and keep that heat no lower than about 62 or 61, I would say.
LESLIE: Alright. Good call.
Next up, we’ve got a post from Joann who writes: “The seal around my dishwasher fell off. It now leaks pretty badly. What can I do? Should I glue it back on?”
TOM: Well, I would suggest that perhaps you order a new seal for that dishwasher, because it’s …
LESLIE: And stop using the dishwasher.
TOM: Yeah, stop using it for the moment, obviously. Get a new seal for that dishwasher. It probably will hold on there much better – the new seal – because it’s going to have a fresh adhesive on it or it probably has a mechanical connection. I would not try to repair the old one unless you really, really, really wanted to try something and didn’t have the money for a new seal. And if that was the case, the only adhesive I might trust would be contact cement.
And contact cement is unique because it glues on contact. And the way it works is you have to put it on both sides. You would put it on the frame of the dishwasher, you would put it on the back seal – the back of the seal. You’d let those sides dry.
And I usually put two coats on when I do this, Leslie. I’m not sure what you do but I like to really lay it on there thick.
And then once you contact that seal to that frame, it does not come off. It’s permanent for the most part. I mean …
LESLIE: Yeah. So you’ve got to make sure you get on there correctly.
TOM: The lineup, yeah, has to be really good. Now, it is possible – there’s a special type of solvent that will take it off if you have to. But you don’t really want to go that way.
I keep a jar of contact cement around all the time.
LESLIE: It’s really handy.
TOM: I had a pair of shoes the other day that a heel came off on and it was one of my favorite pairs of shoes.
LESLIE: You did not glue the heel on with contact cement.
TOM: And I did. It was on my Crocs.
TOM: Just for kicking around the house. But I loved it because it fit so nicely. It fits so nicely. And I was able to glue the thing back on and literally, in about 10 minutes, I was back in shoes. My Crocs were working again.
LESLIE: That is fantastic. It’s so handy for so many things, including getting around town.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thanks for spending this part of your weekend with us. If you’ve got questions about a project you are thinking about getting done or perhaps something that breaks down in the middle of the week when we’re not around, there’s no problem because our lines are always open at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we are not in the studio, we promise to call you back the next time we are. So, whatever project comes to mind, we’ll be here to help you get it done.
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 2020 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.)