Have you ever had a paint project that didn’t dry right, wouldn’t cover a stain or peeled off faster than it should have? Tom & Leslie share tips for painting success and more including:
- Pro painting secrets to avoid brush marks, prevent spills, cut down on the number of trips back to the paint can, stop paint from bleeding through masking tape, and reducing the number of coats of paint you need for a project.
- Downsizing is a big trend these days – but if living small isn’t for you, get tips on ways to make life simpler – and more affordable – without shrinking your space.
- Saving water is important for your budget and the environment. But rather than rely on your kids and family to use less water, learn how updating your plumbing fixtures can actually do the water saving for you!
Plus, get answers to home improvement questions about replacing steel window wells, repairing plaster walls, removing leak stains on basement walls, fixing cracked concrete driveways, and restoring shower walls, installing whole house water filters, 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: So glad to be here with you and hope that you are enjoying a beautiful day wherever you are in this fine country. If your plans for today, tomorrow, the week ahead, the weekend ahead include fixing up your house, you’re in exactly the right place because we’re here to help. We’ve got the work boots on. We’ve got the gloves on. We’re wearing the safety glasses. We’re ready to pick up the paintbrush, grab the drill – Leslie, don’t touch the chainsaw; it’s mine – and get to work helping you with your projects.
Help yourself first, though. If you do need some help, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. You can also post your questions by clicking on the Question button on MoneyPit.com.
And by the way, you can call us anytime you’re hearing this program, whether you’re listening on a weekend, during a weekday to the podcast, to the national radio show. Whenever you have a question, you can call 888-MONEY-PIT. Our screening team will pick up the phone, they will take your information. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are.
Hey, coming up on today’s program, we’re going to talk about downsizing. You know, it continues to be a really big trend these days. But if living small is just not for you, we’re going to have some tips on ways you can make your life simpler and more affordable without shrinking your space.
LESLIE: And also ahead, have you ever had a paint project that just didn’t seem to dry right or maybe it wouldn’t cover a stain or it peeled off faster than it should have? We’ve got some solutions to these paint predicaments, coming up.
TOM: And saving water is something that is often easier said than done. But rather than rely on your kids and family to use less water, there are new plumbing fixtures now that can actually do the water-saving for you.
LESLIE: They’re super cool. But whatever your project is – water savings, energy savings, maybe you’re redecorating for the upcoming spring season – whatever it is, we’re here to give a hand. So give us a call because we’d love to help out.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: James in Colorado is on the line and has a question about a rusty window well. What’s going on?
JAMES: So our home is about 14 years old and we have some window wells that butt up right against to the driveway. And they’ve started having little quarter-size or half-dollar-size rust pits that are coming through onto the inside of the window well. And I’m doing some things that mask that but I just wonder, in the long term, can I stop that from happening? Or what’s going to be the long-term consequence of that?
TOM: Yeah. Probably not. Galvanized metal, as you probably know, there’s different levels of galvanized. And some of it’s going to last longer than others. You mentioned this is near your driveway. I imagine there’s probably some salt getting there, perhaps, in the winter and that’s corrosive, as well. So, I think this is just a state of wear that these window wells are experiencing.
They do make window wells that are not steel. There’s very sturdy plastic window wells that are available. Are these between sort of the foundation wall and your driveway? And are they covering maybe half the way up the glass for the basement? Or can you describe them to me?
JAMES: It covers up almost the whole way of the glass. We’re in a newer neighborhood but it’s designed to look like an older one with detached garages.
JAMES: And the base between the houses is narrow, so the driveway actually comes right up to the foundation. And so these window wells take up about ½-foot to a foot above the driveway.
TOM: James, are you familiar with the BILCO Company? They’re kind of famous for the BILCO Door, which is that sort of slanty metal door that helps people get into basements from the outside.
They actually make a polyethylene window well that would replace the steel window well. Of course, they’re 100 bucks compared to 20 bucks for the steel one. But those window wells are very attractive and sturdy and you’re not going to have any problems with corrosion in the future with them. So there’s an option for you. Perhaps if they get any worse and you get to the point where they’re not looking that great and you want to replace them, you might want to think about doing that.
JAMES: OK. Is it a pretty big deal to replace them?
TOM: Not really. You’re going to have to just dig out the old one. And what I would do is I would lay down a tarp so that you’re collecting the soil on top of the tarp and not getting it all over the place. And then dig out the old one. You’ll eventually be able to pull it right out. Half the time – I mean they’re designed to be bolted to the wall but half the time they’re not. So, once you pull the soil away, you’ll be able to remove it.
And what I would do is I would get that window well – the new one – set in there. And I would try to put a little bit of stone around the outside of the window well. And then what I would do is at the bottom of the window well, on the window side, I would go a good 3 or 4 inches under where the window is for the basement and I would put stone in there. And the reason you’re doing that is because when it rains, you won’t get dirt and mud that splashes up on your basement window.
JAMES: OK. Thank you so much. This has been very helpful. I’ll look up that company and see what some of their options are.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, James. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading to Missouri where Vonda is on the line with some questions about settling or some perhaps structural issues at home. What’s going on?
VONDA: We have an 1886-year-old home, two-story. The stairs were moved at one point to more of a central from the hallway. It did come up on a bedroom and we’re assuming that it wasn’t supported good enough, because the only floors that slope are right there from the outside wall to the head of the stairs. And what can we do to level them or will we ruin our plaster if we level them?
TOM: That is not – actually not unusual in a house of that age because the stairwells, where they’re cut into the floor structure, that’s usually the weakest area. Today, we frame things a little bit differently. So when you get settlement, you usually get it in that area.
In an old house, if you try to restore the level of the floor by jacking it or any kind of movement, it’s really not a good idea because you’ll cause a lot more damage both to the plaster and also to the mechanical systems that have settled in place there. You imagine you might be stretching wires or pipes in that process. I think that that adds up to be sort of the charm part of owning an older house, those sloping floors.
Now, if you had a section where it was really necessary to level them again – like, say, perhaps in a kitchen or something like that – then you might add a floor-leveling compound on top of that. But unless there’s a reason to, I would not do anything to try to re-level those.
Now, if the plaster is getting loose, that is also a condition of older homes. Because the plaster, where it was attached to the ceiling – if it’s plaster lath, like most of them are, the plaster where it sort of spreads through the lath and was sort of holding onto the ceiling, that weakens. So you have a couple of options there. There are fasteners. They look like big fender washers, where they’re really big, wide washers that you drive up underneath the plaster and it pulls up that loose plaster. And then you can kind of spackle over those.
Or the other thing that you can potentially do is you could put another layer of drywall over the old plaster. I’ve actually done this both ways in my house. In one haze (ph), I actually tore out the plaster in one area of the home and drywalled it. And then, after doing that and realizing how much extra work I made for myself, I got smarter the second time around and I got some 3/8-inch-thick drywall, which is thinner than you would normally use for a wall. And then I put it on top of the old plaster and attached it through that plaster into the wood structure. And I was a lot happier.
I did have to extend the window jambs a little bit and the outlets and all that but it was a very easy thing to do. And I had a very minimal amount of spackling to do when I was done, as opposed to, you know, needing a dumpster to take out a ton of very heavy plaster from the ceilings and the walls in the rooms that I worked in.
So, I would – what I’m basically saying is I would not worry about the sloping. I would try to secure the loose plaster as you don’t want it to fall down, either by repairing it in place or by covering over it with new drywall.
VONDA: And are fender washers easily found?
TOM: They’re not actually called “fender washers.” They kind of look that way. They’re actually called “plaster washers” and they’re really wide washers, kind of like a fender washer. But the difference is this: they’ve got a bunch of little holes in them.
TOM: And they reason they have the holes in them is because that basically lets the plaster sort of stick to it when you’re putting that coat over the whole thing. Believe it or not, you can find them on Amazon.com. So just search for plaster washers.
TOM: They’re inexpensive. A box of 100 costs you about 15 bucks.
VONDA: My husband will give you a big thumbs-up because he wasn’t wanting to level the floor and I was wanting to.
VONDA: So, awesome. I think you for your help.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, sometimes it’s a big project and sometimes it’s a little project. We’re not going to put you through more work than we have to. So if you are contemplating a job – and sometimes you’re afraid to call because you’re thinking, “Ah, it’s going to be bad news.” Well, as we just found out from Vonda, not always.
LESLIE: Charlie in Massachusetts is on the line and has a question about some crumbly walls. What is going on at your money pit?
CHARLIE: I have an older house and the cellar walls are kind of made of stone and cement. And I want to know how I can firm them up without (inaudible).
TOM: So why do you want to firm them up, Charlie? What are you seeing that gives you some concern about their structural integrity?
CHARLIE: The crumbling of – on the ground. It’s always – I’m always vacuuming up the old cement.
TOM: Is it like white, crusty chunks and pieces of …?
CHARLIE: Yes, yes.
TOM: OK. So I think what you’re probably mostly seeing is mineral-salt deposit. That white – grayish-white stuff that forms and falls is basically what’s leftover when moisture gets into the wall and evaporates. And then it leaves behind its salt and then just sort of builds up on top of that.
TOM: If that’s what you’re seeing, what you want to try to do is reduce the amount of moisture that’s getting against those walls. It’s actually not as hard as it might sound, because outside your house the number-one way that moisture gets into those lower-grade spaces is through issues that have to do with the gutter system. Either the downspouts – the gutters are clogged and the downspouts are not extended out away from the foundation.
TOM: But if you address those moisture issues – and we have a great post on MoneyPit.com. It’s one of our most popular ever. And it’s how to stop a basement from leaking. And this advice applies to your situation. Just because you’re not looking at puddles of water down there, it’s still the same thing: just too much moisture getting against the foundation walls.
TOM: So if you improve the drainage outside – and also take a look at your grading and making sure that the soil is sloping away from the walls and there’s nothing sort of impeding the flow.
CHARLIE: Away? OK.
TOM: If you’ve got mulch or you’ve got beds – planter beds – or something like this that’s holding water against the walls, if you can keep that water away you will find that that will stop most of this from happening.
TOM: Now, if you happen to notice that the mortar in between the foundation bricks or blocks or whatever it is is starting to crack, that is actually not uncommon, either. And in an older house, you have to break out some of that loose mortar and put new poured mortar in. That’s called “pointing.” It’s a masonry term.
CHARLIE: Pointing, right. Yep.
TOM: All you have to do is do some repointing. Is it a DIY project? Probably. There’s a mix of mortar that you make for that that has a little more lime in it. That makes it stickier so it’s easier. But it’s also not hard for a mason to do that. It’s a pretty – it’s a day’s long job.
TOM: But if you’re just looking at that white, crusty stuff, that’s mineral-salt deposit and that’s coming from water.
TOM: So, look at that post on MoneyPit.com on how to stop a basement from leaking.
CHARLIE: I will.
TOM: Just search in the search box. You’ll find it. And you can tell – you’ll tell when you’re there, because there’s about 40 or 50 comments on it. And it’s amusing because the home inspectors that listen to me will reinforce the advice in that post. And the waterproofing contractors hate me because I’m telling people how to fix this without spending 20 grand on sump pumps and drainpipes.
CHARLIE: Exactly, yeah.
TOM: So it kind of goes back and forth.
TOM: But anyway, I think that will solve your problem and it’ll make that basement nice and dry and hopefully, a little more usable for you.
CHARLIE: Alright. Alright. That’s great. I appreciate that.
TOM: Alright, Charlie. Good luck with that project. Let us know how you make out.
CHARLIE: I will. Thank you.
TOM: Well, savings and simplicity, those two terms have fueled the recent trend in downsizing. But with more and more homeowners moving into smaller homes, is this something that you are ready for yourself? If your goal is to make life less expensive and more relaxing, there are a lot of ways to do that, though. But you don’t necessarily have to go super small.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you should think about simply lightening the load. I mean we all have a ton of stuff. Everybody’s spaces and cabinets and closets are sort of filled to capacity. So, look at your current belongings, whether it’s furniture or all of that stuff that you’ve got tucked away. Then edit it down to what you really need and what you want to have around you. And that’s going to uncover both living and storage space that you didn’t even realize that you had.
Now, after you whittle down your downsized belongings to just the essentials, you might even make a little cash by selling that excess through a yard sale, a garage sale. They’re kind of fun. It’s kind of a frenzy.
When my grandma passed away, we did one of those at her big house. And it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. What a unique crowd of people. There’s everybody looking for specific finds. It was very cool. So, you can make some money and have a day of fun.
TOM: Yeah. Whatever time you tell the folks it’s going to start, they start showing about two hours before that. So just be ready for that.
Now, listen, after you have kind of thinned out everything you have, you can – should be reorganizing what’s left. And it becomes a lot easier when you’re dealing with less stuff. That’s why you want to sort of thin things out first.
So, revamp closets or any other storage space for efficiency. You can use do-it-yourself shelving, modular storage. You can use the kinds of solutions that are offered by retailers. You can also add convenience with double-duty furnishings like ottomans, for example, that will sort of contain storage space.
And once that’s all done, it is time to do some staging. You want to arrange your favorite furniture for a welcoming sort of clutter-free feel. And put some smart pieces, like nesting tables and convertible seating, to work in those busy living areas.
LESLIE: And you also want to think about the fact that you’re planning on staying in your space a while. You’ve gotten it all organized. Maybe you’re going to age in place in this home. So why not think about the design concept that we call “universal design?” Now, that means accommodating a range of all ages, all abilities around your home with barrier-free floor plans, smart fixtures and pretty much all around easy access. Now, a few small changes are not only going to help you enjoy your home for a longer period of time but it’s also going to make for smoother traffic flow.
Now, think about lever door handles. Are you constantly walking around the house? Maybe you’ve got laundry baskets or lots of supplies or you’re carrying things up and down. And you go to turn a doorknob but you can’t do it. So a lever handle is going to help so you can use it with your elbow. That’s just good use and it’s going to help make things a lot easier around the house.
There’s lots of stuff that you can do: multiple surface heights in the kitchen or maybe the laundry room or even sort of a study space so that you’ve got something where you can sit, something where you can stand working; lots of different things that’ll help you just better enjoy the house but also use it further into the future.
TOM: So, I think if you take on some of these projects, you’re just going to feel a lot less stressed. Because downsizing your life might not be your first choice when budgets are tight but if you do it well, it is a way to cut costs and clutter and get a little more relaxed in your house without sacrificing those personal spaces that you love or your style.
Hey, if you’ve got some questions about getting organized or fixing up your home, we’d love to chat with you right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Tennessee is on the line with a concrete cracking-up issue. Tell us what’s going on.
JIM: Yes. I have a concrete driveway that every winter it seems to – the crack seems to separate.
TOM: OK. Yep.
JIM: I’ve used several different things, like cement. But the cement crumbles.
TOM: Of course it does, Jim. Because cement is not a good patching material.
JIM: Oh, OK.
TOM: It doesn’t expand and contract, it doesn’t stick properly. What you need is an epoxy patching compound. Epoxy compounds are designed specifically to stick to the concrete floor that you have and to not crack and re-crack. Anytime you try to use regular cement and fill something in, there’s just not enough base there, so to speak, and it will continue to open and close and expand and contract and turn into little chunks of concrete that will fall out.
JIM: Oh, great. I had no idea.
LESLIE: And it’s an easy fix.
TOM: Take a look at the QUIKRETE website. There’s a number of products out there designed specifically for this. But make sure it’s a patching compound and it’ll do a much better job.
JIM: Hey, we love your show. I tell you, we get a lot of good tips on it.
LESLIE: Thanks, Jim.
Alright. Now we’ve got Stephanie on the line from Tennessee who needs some help around the money pit. What’s going on?
STEPHANIE: We have a somewhat – it’s not a shower wrap. Two walls is of acrylic-type material, marble-looking.
STEPHANIE: And then it has a glass door with a look-through glass side.
I was in the shower and it sounds like little pop-pop-pop-pops. Now, I noticed I have little, teeny spider cracks – just real thin – on the side wall.
STEPHANIE: So, I let the shower dry, put Gorilla Tape – waterproof Gorilla Tape – on it so it wouldn’t get any more wet.
TOM: OK. What? No duct tape was available?
STEPHANIE: The duct tape or Gorilla Tape is everybody’s best friend.
TOM: There you go. OK.
STEPHANIE: But I put it on there to prevent more moisture in there.
STEPHANIE: But it just made these little spider marks. I haven’t had any more. You can barely see them but I really don’t want to tear out a shower.
TOM: So the sides are acrylic?
STEPHANIE: Yeah. It’s like acrylic marble. The head wall where the faucet and the showerhead is and the side where the soap dish is in the shower stall.
TOM: Right. OK. So it’s kind of like a liner almost, it sounds like. It’s over the wall structure that’s acrylic. Does that sound about right?
TOM: Are these cracks all the way through or are they just on the surface? Because it might be the glazing on top of the acrylic.
STEPHANIE: OK. Actually, I believe they’re on the surface.
STEPHANIE: And they all seem to originate from the embedded – I don’t know if that’s the right word – soap dish. But they’re just spider and but there’s – you can’t feel them.
TOM: Yeah. You probably stressed that part of the liner. Maybe you grabbed on the soap dish, I don’t know. Plus, it’s an area where you’re going to have an expansion-and-contraction pattern that’s different than the rest of it.
If they’re not going through – they’re just the surface – I would not worry about that. I’ll give you one trick of the trade to kind of maybe make them less obvious. And that is if you were to apply car wax to the walls of the shower – not the floor, alright? Because you’re going to slip and break something.
STEPHANIE: Right. Oh, yes.
TOM: But to the walls. You will find that that will buff in really nicely and the water will, of course, run right off it. And I think it might help to hide some of those spider-vein kinds of cracks, the same way it does that on the finish of a car.
STEPHANIE: Oh, great idea.
STEPHANIE: Because, actually, we’re going to be selling our house in about six months and I was like – I’m trying to be ahead of the ballgame on things I know I need to address, without having to do the whole enchilada.
TOM: Well, here’s what you do. Here’s what you do. You polish up that shower, right? And when you sell your house, you take a brand-new can of car wax and you put a bow on it and you make that the housewarming gift for the new owners. And then you can tell them about your call with The Money Pit and explain to them how to use it.
STEPHANIE: Hey, I really appreciate that. I really do. I listen to you all’s show. A lot of good information. We appreciate you down here in Tennessee.
TOM: Alright, Stephanie. Thanks so much for giving us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And good luck with the project.
LESLIE: Well, when it comes to painting, the pros have some closely guarded secrets that they don’t want us to know about. Of course, when you do the job every day like they do, you’re going to perfect your techniques over time and develop a level of expertise that the rest of us just can’t touch. But we can still try to brush up on our skills.
TOM: Yeah. So, let’s start with a key element of any paint project: the primer. Now, the primer is what makes sure the paint actually sticks. And it can also hide whatever you’re trying to cover. The pro trick, though, is to tint that primer. You want to choose gray or a color that’s very similar to the finish paint color. And compared to plain, white primer, it does a much better job of hiding the existing paint that you’re trying to go over. So the finish coat will be more vibrant and may require fewer coats in the long run.
LESLIE: Now, you might find, when you’re doing a painting project around the house, that you end up seeing ugly brush marks. And when the pros do it, you just don’t get that. Now, the secret to a finish that’s free of lap and brush marks is mixing in a paint extender. And it’s also called a “paint conditioner.”
Now, you mix it into the paint you’ve purchased. And this is going to do two things. First of all, it’s going to slow down the paint-drying time, which is going to give you a longer window to overlap those just-painted areas without getting those ugly lap marks that happen when you paint over a dried paint and then darken that color. Second, that paint extender levels out the paint so brushstrokes are virtually eliminated or at least they become that much less obvious. And it looks so great when it goes on, because it just goes on so smooth.
TOM: And here’s one of my favorite tricks of the trade and it has to do with the protection that you use for floors and furniture.
Now, how many folks have used old bedsheets or old blankets or things like this – plastic sheeting, right? – when you’re getting ready to paint? The pros never do that. What they use is canvas. And the reason is because the plastic sheets don’t stop the splatters and the spills. If you’re using old bedsheets and stuff like that, the paint just goes right through it. But if you use canvas, it’s not slippery and it absorbs the paint. It’s still a good practice, though, to wipe up those large spills so they don’t bleed through. But canvas is the hot ticket. So that’s why pros use those heavy canvas drop cloths, because they just do a much better job of protecting whatever’s underneath.
LESLIE: Yeah. And here’s one last trick of the trade. It’s how do you get the paint on the brush? Is there a right way? Is there a wrong way? Well, there actually is a better way to do it.
So, to get the most mileage out of a single fill-up and make fewer trips to the paint container, pros take a load-and-go approach. They load the bottom inch-and-a-half of their brushes with paint, tap against the inside of the paint container, knock off the heavy drips, then start painting. Now, the contrast here is that homeowners often take a load-and-dump approach where they drag that loaded brush along the sides of the container and then wipe off most of the paint. It doesn’t do you any good to dunk your brush in the paint and then wipe it all off.
TOM: Now, to stop paint from bleeding through, there’s one more trick and it has to do with painter’s tape. And that is after you apply the tape, you want to run a putty knife over the top to press it down for a really good seal. If you do that, once it dries and you pull the tape up, you will have a very sharp and crisp line.
So, you know, painting is one of those things that everybody thinks they can do. I don’t think too many people appreciate the skills that it takes to become a really good painter. But whether you are a pro or just a DIYer, if you follow these tips your projects are going to come out a heck of a lot better.
LESLIE: Jan in Kansas is on the line with a home that seems to be cracking up. Tell us what’s going on.
JAN: Well, I’ve got a lot of problems. It’s an old house; it’s over 50 years old.
TOM: You have a lot of opportunities, Jan, not a lot of problems.
JAN: Yeah. I’ve got some cracks in the wall.
JAN: And I have one crack that is going to the dining room, to the kitchen and I believe it’s cracking on both sides of the wall. Same crack.
TOM: OK. You said it’s 50 years old. Do you know if it’s plaster lath?
JAN: It’s sheetrock.
TOM: It’s drywall? OK. So, fixing that is not a big deal. The thing is that most people usually fix it incorrectly. What they’ll do is they’ll try to spackle it. And by spackling it, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that it’s going to re-crack. What you have to do is sand down the area so you get rid of any glaze from the paint or dirt or anything like that. And then you’re going to cover it with drywall tape. And you want to use the mesh type of tape that’s sticky.
So you put a strip of tape across the crack and then you spackle right over that tape. And you’ll use three layers of spackle. And the easiest way to apply this is if you buy the plastic spackling knives. You can buy one that starts at around 4 inches, then you go to 6, then you go to 8. And they’re pretty inexpensive and you use that to apply the spackle and you sand in between each coat. And then you prime and paint and you’re done. So those are the proper steps.
Where most people go wrong is they just try to do a quick and dirty spackling job and they wonder why it cracks again and again and again. Because that’s basically an expansion joint right now and unless you spread the repair across both sides of it with new drywall tape, it will continue to show up.
LESLIE: Well, saving water is becoming more and more important. But rather than relying on your kids and your family to use less water, updating your plumbing fixtures can actually do the water-savings for you. It’s actually a very simple pro plumbing project.
TOM: Yep. And we’ve got a few tips on how to find the faucets, toilets, showers and sprinklers that can do that job without wasting water, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.
So, first, let’s talk about those toilets. They can last for decades, making them pretty much one of the most durable plumbing fixtures in the house. But while they don’t really kind of wear out, those old toilets can waste plenty of water with every flush. Instead, you want to switch to WaterSense-certified toilets.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, WaterSense is a program that’s run by the EPA. And just like the ENERGY STAR Program, it helps consumers find products that save energy. Now, WaterSense is designed to help consumers identify projects that will save water. But to qualify, a product has got to be certified to use at least 20-percent less water, save energy and perform as well or better than the regular models.
TOM: Now, besides toilets, if you were to also replace your bathroom faucet and showerhead, the EPA says you could actually save 26,000 gallons of water a year, create 380 fewer pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions and reduce your utility bills by 250 bucks. So that’s a lot of good for not a big update.
LESLIE: Yeah. And speaking of utility bills, if you use less water, you’ll also use less natural gas or electricity to heat that water. So it’s all going to add up. Plus, besides bathrooms or kitchens, WaterSense fixtures are also available for outdoors: for your lawn sprinklers, rain controllers and other irrigation products. You can update those, as well, to help you avoid wasting water while still enjoying that beautiful landscape.
TOM: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com. With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area and book appointments online, all for free. No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.
LESLIE: Paul in Missouri is on the line with a clay residue in the water system. Tell us what’s going on and where you’re seeing it.
PAUL: Yes, I’m seeing it in the kitchen faucet mostly and the bathroom faucet.
PAUL: The well’s 230 foot down with casing the whole way.
TOM: So, you can pick up a whole-house filter. It’s actually called a “whole-house sediment filter.” And the way these work is they’re – we’re not talking about treating the water; we’re talking about filtering the water. So there’s going to be a micron rating. That basically tells you how small of a particle it will trap. It’ll usually be 5 microns or 10 microns. And the other thing that’s important to note is the pressure drop. Because it does take away some of the pressure and so you want to make sure that you have enough pressure that flows through it.
So if you simply search “whole-house filters” online, you’ll find a bazillion choices. And then if you head out to your local plumbing supply and ask them for a sediment filter, tell them your situation. I’m sure your local plumbing-supply contractors or retailers can recommend one that’s going to work for you. Not terribly difficult to install. And that should handle the sediment issue that you’re having in the house, OK?
PAUL: OK, sir. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Paul, and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You can always ask us right here at The Money Pit. You can post your questions right on our Facebook page or right through the website.
I’ve got one here from Priscilla in Georgia who writes: “Our laundry room is in the garage. With the unusually cold temperatures, our pipe that supplies water to the washer keeps freezing. Fortunately, it hasn’t burst.” I’m going to add in yet.
LESLIE: “We have to keep this space heater in there, though, just to keep it warm enough that it doesn’t freeze and so we can have a water supply to continue to do our laundry on a regular basis. Is there anything else we should do? I hate leaving the space heater on too long or unattended, especially in the garage.”
TOM: Well, look, I mean having the washer and the dryer in an unheated space like that is not a good idea. If there’s anything you can do outside of that, you really should be doing it.
And by the way, I don’t know if you thought of this or not but most full-size washers and dryers can be stacked, as long as they’re front-load, of course. We have a full-size washer and dryer in our second-floor laundry room.
And we had the room for them side by side but I noticed, Leslie, that with all that horizontal surface – you know, with kids – their stuff just piles up on top. So I’m like, “I’ve got a solution here. I’m going to stack them.” And I did. We have so much more room now in that space.
So, if there’s a way you can stack these and move them inside, you’d be better off. If you can’t do that, the least that you should do is you should arrange to have the water-supply line to that washer with a valve on the inside of that house. It’s probably going to be coming up in the wall between the house and the garage, so you may be able to put a shut-off that goes to the inside of the house. And this way, when you’re done with the washer, you can turn that line off. And if the pipes on the cold side of that freeze and break, you’re just going to get a few drops of water out of that. The flip side is that if you don’t do that and they freeze and break, you’re going to flood the garage and your neighbor is going to be calling you when there’s a sheet of ice going down the road outside of your house.
So, you really need to think about that. It’s a shame that you have to spend all this money and all this energy and be so concerned about the safety of your house, and the stress associated with that, just to keep those pipes from freezing with that space heater. And even if you were to use something like a heat tape, not a big fan of that as a permanent appliance. A heat tape is used when the pipes freeze and you need to thaw them out. But it’s not something that should be on 24/7. Plus, it’s expensive to run.
So I think the best solution here, if you can’t move the washer and the dryer to the inside of your house, is to install a shut-off valve on the inside so you can protect those outside lines from freezing.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Rachel writes: “I want to convert my electric range to a gas range. But when the tech came to connect the gas, they told me they couldn’t because the local code requires 18 inches of clearance from the top of the counter to the bottom of the upper cabinets. Our clearance was ¾-inch short. Our options seem to be to cut the cabinets to lower them or just cancel the project. What do you suggest without breaking the bank?”
TOM: Yeah, there’s another option: forget gas. It’s not worth it. It would take major work to lower the cabinets, plus the cost of the gas lines. You’d need a 120-volt outlet. Stick with the electric. Upgrade in the future when you replace the cabinets. But this one project, it will never pay you back to do all that work just for the pleasure of having a gas range.
LESLIE: That’s pretty solid advice, Rachel. And let me you, electric ranges, you can actually get some convection options that are super fast and really effective.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you for spending this part of your day with us. We hope we’ve answered some questions that you had swirling around your head about how to improve your money pit. If you’ve got more questions, remember, you can reach out to us anytime you hear this program by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we are not in the studio, we will 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 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.)