In this episode…
It may still be chilly out, but Spring is ahead and a time we can look forward to warm weather, birds chirping – and the sounds and smells of loud gas-powered lawn equipment! Get tips on a new battery technology that can deliver plenty of lawn mowing power, without the hassle. Plus…
- A gorgeous banister and a dramatic new post can add a stylish look to your stairs. But years of manhandling can lead to shaky stairs and loose railings. Learn the easy fix.
- If you’ve been chipping away a lot of ice this winter, we’ll have a trick of the trade to help make it disappear, especially when it freezes a garage door shut.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about installing compact fluorescent lighting, repairing a crumbling foundation, adding heat to an addition, metal roof advantages, eliminating sink odors, when to add insulation to the attic and what anti slip paint to use on decks, 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: What are you working on this weekend? If it’s your home, you’re in exactly the right place because we are here to help you plan those projects and get them done. Help yourself first, though, by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up in this episode, it may still be chilly outside but spring is ahead and a time when we can look forward to warm weather, birds chirping and the sounds and smells of loud, gas-powered lawn equipment. And that’s why now is a great time to think about investing in a much better alternative: a new, cordless lawn mower. We’re going to highlight a new model from Greenworks with a battery that is so advanced, it can run for 60 minutes on a single charge and it’s self-propelled.
LESLIE: And also ahead, a gorgeous banister and a dramatic, new post can add a stylish look to your stairs. But years of manhandling can lead to shaky stairs and loose railings. We’ve got an easy fix, coming up.
TOM: And if you’ve been chipping away at a lot of ice this winter, we’re going to have a trick of the trade to help make it disappear, especially when it freezes a garage door shut.
LESLIE: Plus, we’re thinking ahead to spring with our giveaway this hour. We’ve got a very handy, heavy-duty metal hose reel cart from Centurion Brands going out to one listener who reaches us with their home improvement question. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: That product is worth 120 bucks. It’s going out to one listener drawn at random. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And remember, you can call 888-MONEY-PIT anytime you hear this program, whether it’s on the weekend or during the week, by podcast or through one of our many radio stations that carry the program. Whenever your call comes in, we will take your question. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are. And we’ll always include you in the giveaway for that week’s show.
So what are you waiting for? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Kirk in North Dakota is on the line with a lighting question. What’s going on?
KIRK: So, I’ve got a quick question on fluorescent lights. You know, a lot of your lights are, of course, rated 60 watts, et cetera. So, my question kind of came in the fact on the fluorescent bulb, it says, “This is equal to a 60-watt bulb.” But sometimes, that’s just not enough light. So what happens – are you allowed to put a bigger bulb wattage because – since fluorescents are supposed to be taking less electricity, can a guy put a bigger bulb in there – on a fluorescent that says, “Equal to 100 watts”? Because it’s still drawing less electricity.
TOM: So, I think what you’re talking about here is compact fluorescents, Kirk?
TOM: So, the wattage limitations on fixtures is based on a calculation that involves incandescent bulbs and it – because it equates to heat. A 100-watt bulb is going to emit a certain amount of heat and the fixture is rated to take that heat. That’s what it’s rated for and you can’t put more than that.
When it comes to fluorescents, you’re only using a quarter of the energy. So a 15-watt bulb will deliver you – deliver the same equivalent of 60 watts of light. You can have a bulb that delivers the equivalent of a bigger watt bulb but you’re still not actually putting that amount of electricity into it. Does that make sense?
KIRK: Right. So you could actually – like you say, if it’s a third, if it’s rated for a 60-watt incandescent bulb, you could virtually – say, if there’s a 150-watt bulb in a fluorescent, you should be able to put that in there and not cause an overload and get more light out of that same fixture.
TOM: Yeah, I probably wouldn’t double it. But I might – if it calls for a 60, I might go up to 100 because then you’re moving from saying 15 watts to 25. But I have a better suggestion. Forget the compact fluorescents. They are an outdated technology. The LED bulbs are where it’s at today. They deliver a much better-quality light with just the same, if not more, savings.
KIRK: But that was – the whole issue is sometimes you just don’t get enough light out of some of those fixtures.
TOM: Right. And I think that if – right. And also, they’re very temperature-sensitive. If it’s a cold area, like …
LESLIE: And then they’re color-sensitive, as well. When you get a CFL, you have to pick what color temperature you want that bulb to feel. And they can all feel extremely different. So you might pick something that gives a cold, harsh light and you want something warmer. So there’s a lot of experimenting with what type of fluorescent bulb you’re going to get.
KIRK: We’ll have to try to some different things but I was just worried about the wattage and making sure I didn’t overheat the original fixture.
TOM: Nope. You’re smart to be concerned but I’d take a look at the LEDs. And I think once you start trying them, you’ll be disposing of those CFLs.
KIRK: Well, thank you very much for taking my call. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Jody in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JODY: I actually have a problem with my foundation. It’s an exposed foundation; about 3 feet high around the whole footprint of the house is exposed. The cement-block foundation that had parging on it originally – and the parging was cracking, so it was recommended by a masonary (ph) contractor to put DRYLOK over it.
So, this is what I did. I put on – it’s a – they add color to the DRYLOK. So I put it over the whole foundation and it started to crack and peel and bubble.
TOM: Yeah, it didn’t adhere properly.
First of all, isn’t DRYLOK usually an interior masonry paint, not an exterior masonry paint?
JODY: Well, this particular masonary (ph) guy told me that he’s actually used it on the bottom of swimming pools, so he thought that it would work. And when he saw it later, he said, “Wow. I’ve never seen it do that.”
TOM: Yeah. How about that? He just experimented with your house.
JODY: I did call the DRYLOK people, too, and talked to them.
JODY: And they told me to try to power-wash it, try scraping it. But it’s just become a huge mess, you know? I mean it peels in some places. Some places, it adhered.
TOM: Yeah, the problem is that now that you’ve got that on there, you’ve got to get it off because you can’t put any – you can’t put new stuff over the bad, old stuff. It just will continue to peel.
JODY: Yeah. The problem is is that we are on filled-in marshland – is where the – and so, we’re on clay and sand. And the cement block, it sort of leaches up through there, so it’s always sort of damp coming up from the ground anyway.
TOM: Yeah. That’s what I was going to – that’s what I was kind of thinking. I was thinking that the block wall might have been wet when you applied it. It might not have been visibly wet but see, those block walls are hydroscopic. They absorb water really, really well. And so, if it’s on a moist situation, that water is going to draw up, get behind that paint. And nothing causes paint to peel faster than water.
So, unfortunately, at this stage, you’re going to have to strip that off.
JODY: Oh, my gosh. And we’re right on the water, you know what I mean? We’re on the bay. So I’m always worried about things that are not environmentally friendly.
TOM: The other thing that I think you probably could do – and this is a big job in and of itself, though – is you could have a mason attach a woven-wire mesh to that foundation and re-stucco it. And in that case, it could go right on top of the old, junky paint because you’re not really sticking to the foundation; you’re sticking to the mesh. So that’s another possibility.
JODY: I gotcha, yeah. Yeah. Because, I guess, in some places that was used before, underneath the parging.
TOM: Well, the parging is simply a stucco coat that goes on top of the block wall and it’s typical for the parging to crack. And usually, it cracks along the lines of the masonry block.
JODY: Yep. That’s what it did.
TOM: And that’s not necessarily a defect. That’s pretty much just the way it goes with that stuff, especially if they don’t put it on thick enough.
So, I would consider, if you really want to have it to look like a traditional masonry foundation, I would consider having mesh put up there and then properly re-stuccoed. If not, you’re just going to have to peel that paint off any way you can. You would – I might take a look at some of the citrus-based paint strippers if you have some that’s really hard to get off.
JODY: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Sorry we don’t have better news. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, if you’re tired of winter and maybe are thinking ahead to spring, we’re with you. And that’s why, this hour, we’ve got a spring-themed giveaway.
We’ve got the Heavy-Duty Metal Hose Reel Cart from Centurion Brands. I like this product because it holds 300 feet of 5/8-inch hose. That’s a lot of hose.
LESLIE: You can reach everywhere in the yard with that.
TOM: Pretty much, yeah. And it’s really sturdy. So it’s kind of a little bit of hand-truck shape, right, so that you can actually tilt it or just wheel it wherever you have to go. It’s got 14-gauge steel construction. It’s made with a very strong polystyrene finish, so it’s going to last a long time. And it’s worth 120 bucks. And most of all, I’m excited because we’re giving it away to you, well, if you pick up the phone and call us. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
And again, it doesn’t matter when you’re hearing this show. You can call us 24/7. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are. And we will always include you in that week’s giveaway, which this week is from Centurion Brands, the Heavy-Duty Metal Hose Reel Cart worth 120 bucks.
LESLIE: William in Illinois is on the line with a heating question. How can we help you with your project?
WILLIAM: I live in the Midwest here in Illinois. I’ve got a smaller house, about 1,100 square foot. It’s got an addition on the front of the house that is about 12 foot by 10 foot, something like that. Well, it’s in a small room. It’s got a pretty good-sized window facing the road. It’s on a foundation but it’s not attached to the garage and it’s not heated. I don’t have a heating duct running out there. It’s attached to the attic space, which is insulated. That room gets cold in the winter and hot in the summer.
And I wondered if I just ran a heating duct out there, if that would be enough or should I put a vapor barrier down? Or should I knock a hole in it to attach it to the basement or get up under there and insulate and then run a heating duct or what?
TOM: First of all, whenever you have a standalone space like that that’s pushed off from the rest of the house, you have more exterior surfaces, so you have more ways for the – basically that building to chill. Adding insulation is always a no-brainer. Adding insulation to the floor, adding the insulation to the attic, making it as insulated as possible is good.
Now, you ask, “Can I add a heating duct to that?” Maybe. Depends on a lot of things. Depends on the existing layout of your HVAC system and whether or not you can get a properly-sized supply and return duct to that space.
Does this room get heat from the rest of the house but just not enough heat?
WILLIAM: It doesn’t get anything right now. It has just a door. It was – we just use it as a bedroom at – in the summers, I guess.
TOM: It doesn’t get anything. OK. So what I would do is I would consult with your HVAC contractor to see how difficult it would be and whether or not the pro thought you could get enough BTUs into that room to provide enough heat. And I don’t know if it includes the air conditioning or not.
If not, the other thing to look at is what’s called “split-ductless.” Basically, you would install what is, essentially, sort of a miniature heat pump right outside the wall of that house. And you would hang on the wall a register that has the fan built into it, sort of a blower unit. And that can supply cold air in the summer and that can supply warm, heated air in the winter. And that would, basically, be a separate heating system for that room – a separate HVAC system for that room – but it’s easier than trying to sort of extend, sometimes, the core system of the house. Does that make sense?
WILLIAM: Right. Yeah, yeah, it sure does. Alrighty. Well, I will look into both of those options.
TOM: Well, hey, it might still be chilly out but spring is ahead and it’s a time when we can look forward to warm weather, birds chirping and the sounds and smells of loud, gas-powered lawn equipment.
LESLIE: It’s true.
TOM: And that is why now is a good time to think about investing in a much better alternative: a battery-powered, cordless lawn mower. There’s a new one out, now at Lowe’s, from Greenworks.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s called the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Max Brushless Lithium-Ion Self-Propelled 21-Inch Cordless Electric Lawn Mower. And it’s battery-powered, so no gas or oil to deal with. In fact, it’s got a run time of up to 60 minutes on a single battery charge. And it has dual-battery ports with an automatic switchover. So when one battery is done, that mower is automatically going to switch over to the second battery. And it’s the only mower in the industry that has the technology to do so.
TOM: That is very cool. Also features Smart Cut Technology. And this is neat because it automatically adjusts the performance when the mower detects changes in the terrain or the grass conditions. So, you get more power when you’re going uphill or you’re cutting thicker grass.
Plus, it also has a self-propelled drive system with rear-wheel drive and a variable-speed control for maximum traction, maneuverability and control. A lot of technology built into these products today. They make them a lot easier to use.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s pretty much hassle-free, you know. Instead of a pull cord, it’s got a push-button start. No gas or maintenance to deal with. Super quiet, zero emissions. And it has an easy-fold handle on it so that you can store it vertically, which is going to take up about 70-percent less storage space.
TOM: So, what we’re saying is, basically, there is really no reason to buy a gas mower anymore. I mean with this technology, you can maintain your lawn with a lot less hassles.
The Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Max Brushless Lithium-Ion Self-Propelled 21-Inch Cordless Electric Lawn Mower is available at Lowe’s and at Lowes.com. Learn more at GreenworksTools.com. Greenworks, life gets easier.
LESLIE: Jane Ellen in Pennsylvania is looking at getting some new windows. How can we help you make that decision?
JANE ELLEN: Yes. Well, we are looking at getting – replacing our single-pane windows. And our question is: do you think it would be more cost-effective to spend the extra money on triple-pane windows or would double-pane windows be OK? Other than the windows, the house is fairly well-insulated; it’s not real drafty. We haven’t priced our options yet, so we just were looking for an opinion.
TOM: I think that double-pane windows will be fine. The thing is that when you shop for windows, you have all of these different features and benefits that you have to compare and contrast and sometimes, it gets very confusing when you do that. What I would look for is a window that’s ENERGY STAR-rated and one that has double-pane glass. As long as the glass in insulated and has a low-E coating so it reflects the heat back, that’ll be fine.
It’s been my experience that unless you live in the most severe climates, triple-pane glass doesn’t really make up the additional cost in terms of return on investment.
JANE ELLEN: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
TOM: What kind of windows do you have now? Are they very drafty?
JANE ELLEN: Well, they’re single-pane windows. They’re relatively decent windows for single-pane but they’re old. They’re starting to – you can see the gas is starting to escape from them and they are a little drafty.
Our house has a field behind it; our backyard kind of opens up into a field. So, there’s a significant amount of wind that comes across the field and blows into the back of the house. And off the main back area, we have a three-season room, which helps to block some of the wind from the interior downstairs. But the upstairs bedrooms, you feel the wind a little bit more significantly. We notice the single-pane windows a little bit more there; it seems more drafty right there.
TOM: Well, I think these windows are going to make a big difference for you. Now, if you need to save some money and maybe not do them all at once, that’s fine, too. What I would do is the north and east sections of the house first – sides of the house first – and then the south and the west second. OK?
JANE ELLEN: OK. Sounds great.
LESLIE: I know given the winter that we’ve all had in the Northeast and pretty much all over the United States, you might think that a triple-pane glass is going to do the trick, especially when we’ve had, what, like an average of 5 degrees, Tom?
LESLIE: I’ve got to tell you, the days that we’ve had 30- and 40-degree temperatures, I’ve put on a light jacket. I’ve seen families out with no jackets. People are out of their minds when we get 40-degree days.
TOM: Yep. I know. We’re happy for it, right?
LESLIE: It’s like summer.
TOM: Alright. Well, Jane Ellen, I hope that helps you out. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania is on the line with a metal-roofing question. How can we help you today?
JIM: My question is – metal roofs. What’s the advantage of the metal over the shingle or vice versa? The cost? I see a lot of my neighbors putting the metal on.
TOM: So, metal roofs are probably the most durable roof available today. And so the main advantage is durability. The other thing that you can get with a metal roof is today, they’re coated with low-E coatings so they can actually reflect the sun in the summer and lower your cooling costs, as well.
The downside of metal roofs is that they’re very expensive. They’re called “investment-grade roofs,” very frequently, for a good reason. Because it’s the kind of roof you put on when you really want to invest in the house and it’s the house that you’re going to be in for the long haul. If it’s a short-term house for you, I probably would not recommend a metal roof because I don’t think you’ll get the value out of it when you sell. Certainly, you’ll get some value out of it but I don’t think you’ll get the cost of it. But if you’re like, “Listen, this is the house I’m going to be in for the next 20 or 30 years, maybe longer. I want to really do something that’s going to stand up with literally no maintenance,” then maybe a metal roof is for you.
Aesthetically, they’re beautiful. They come in all sorts of colors, all sorts of designs and they can really make your house stand out. But they are costly. Probably, I would say two to three times the cost of an asphalt-shingle roof.
JIM: But they’ll last 30 years, you say, or more?
TOM: They’ll last 50 years, they’ll last 75 years. They can last even longer than that.
JIM: Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, a gorgeous banister and a dramatic newel post can add a stylish look to your stairs. But years of just use – and let me tell you, these staircases get used every day, especially if you’ve got a lot of kids up and down, running around, pulling on the banister trying to fling themselves up the stairs faster. That all can lead to shaky stairs and loose railings.
But Tom, the fix for a lot of these problems is probably fairly easy, right?
TOM: Yeah. And the stairs and rails really do take a lot of punishment. So loose posts are pretty much commonplace, especially if they were nailed in place instead of bolted or screwed to the floor or to the stair below.
LESLIE: Yeah. And then the steps probably loosen just like a floorboard.
LESLIE: And then they can creak and make a racket, too.
Now, Tom, I know that one of your many jobs as a younger home improver was actually building stairs and railings. So, what’s the fix?
TOM: That’s right. That was one of the many jobs I had sort of growing up as a home improver. And I’ve got to tell you, the good news is that you can often make that repair for loose posts with just a single screw. It can strengthen the attachment of the post.
The best thing to do, though, is to drill it all the way through the newel post and into the adjacent stair tread. So you can basically use the stair tread to secure those posts. Because where that post sort of connects to the tread, that’s generally where it loosens up the most.
You just want to remember that you need to countersink the fastener to kind of hide that head. You can use a wood plug or you can use a trim screw, potentially, as well, which will go in and then you could add some putty and just kind of hide it right there.
Now, if the post has completely come loose or if it’s just easier to totally take it off, there’s another kind of very handy way to reattach it, especially if the steps are carpeted. Because you can pick up something called a “post plate.” Now, that’s a steel plate, Leslie, that’s about ½-inch wider on all 4 sides than the post itself. And it’s got four holes underneath to drive up screws up into the post and then four through that sort of overhang. So, basically, you attach the post to the plate and then the plate to the stair.
I’ve used these a lot. And as long as when you attach that plate to the floor you get some meat – you know, you get a joist or even some hardwood but not just the subfloor – it can actually be really, really secure and does a good job. And it’s a lot easier to install than a lot of other methods.
LESLIE: I mean that’s really smart. But what about the steps that are just loose, shaky? Maybe they’re squeaking and that’s the actual part that you step on. How do you fix that?
TOM: Yeah. You can do the same thing with screws. I would use trim screws for those because they’re really small, almost like a finish nail. And what you want to do is screw the treads to the risers. And if you can get behind the stair – sometimes, depending on how your house is configured – then you can also attach the riser to the tread. Anything that you can do to secure those loose treads down – because they just weaken. They pop up just from people going up and down. They flex and they loosen and the fasteners come loose. So, basically, you have to replace those fasteners or add to them.
And that’s why I say inside of, literally, a half-hour, if you’ve got the right tools and the right hardware, you could definitely secure everything that’s loose and make the stair quieter and safer in the process.
LESLIE: Alright. Good tips.
Now we’ve got Joyce in Alabama on the line who’s got a question about a sink odor. What’s going on?
JOYCE: Well, this is in a bathroom sink. It’s about 25 years old. It’s a type that has three air-vent holes in it or overflow holes in it. And the odor seems to be emanating primarily from there. It’s a very musty odor and came down to that conclusion because I finally took some paper and stuffed up those holes. And things smelled much better in the bathroom that way.
TOM: Well, sometimes what happens is you’ll get some bacteria that will grow in that overflow trap. So, what I would suggest you do is this: that is to fill the sink up with hot water and add some bleach to it and let the bleach very slowly trickle over that overflow. And so it saturates it and hopefully, that will kill that mold or that bacteria.
Now, the other thing that you can do is you could take the bathroom-sink trap apart and clean it out with a bottle brush. Now, some of the traps today are just plastic. They’re easy to unscrew and put back together. Under the sink, sometimes you can clean that. And again, you get that biogas that forms in there. If you clean it with a bleach solution, that usually makes things smell a lot better in the bathroom. OK, Joyce?
JOYCE: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, with winter eventually coming to a close, you’re probably starting to fantasize about what your backyard oasis is going to look like this warm-weather season. Well, have we got a great giveaway for you this hour. We’ve got, up for grabs, the very handy Heavy-Duty Metal Hose Reel Cart from Centurion Brands.
Now, it can hold a hose of up to 300 feet which means, basically, you park that in one spot or take it around with you. And you can go to every corner of your yard and water everything thoroughly and fully and have beautiful plants and foliage for the spring and summer seasons. It’s built out of 14-gauge steel construction, so it’s super sturdy. And the finish is a very strong polystyrene-powder coating that’s going to last and last.
It’s worth $120, so make sure you check it out at CenturionBrands.com. But it could be yours if you give us a call this hour.
TOM: That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Stuart is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?
STUART: I’m wondering at what point in a house life should you look at the insulation in your attic and reinsulating?
TOM: Well, if you have insulation that’s old and you notice that it’s sort of sagging and compressed and no longer fluffy, at that point I would remove the insulation and replace it. If you’ve got insulation that’s still pretty fluffy and it holds a lot of air but you just don’t have enough of it, then you can add additional layers on top of that.
You do that with unfaced fiberglass batts. You lay them in perpendicular to the existing insulation to try to get up to that, say, 15- to 20-inch level of insulation. Because at that level, you’re going to be super insulated and it’s really going to make a big savings in your heating costs.
STUART: OK. But if it’s flat, it needs – remove before you put further insulation on top of it. It needs to have a little bounce to it, I guess.
TOM: If it’s old and it’s flat and it’s compressed and it’s sagging, then I would take it out and start from scratch.
STUART: Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
LESLIE: Well, storing your car in a garage can help keep it frost-free. But the same can’t be said for garage doors that often become stuck in very cold weather. And it can trap you and your car inside.
Now, if you find yourself frozen in, first try disconnecting the automatic garage opener and then try to open that door manually.
TOM: Yeah. And if you’re wondering how to do that, just look. There’s going to be a cord on the garage-door track. If you pull it down, it will basically disengage from the lifting mechanism and that will free up the door to open.
Now, if it doesn’t work, don’t force it or you could damage the door. What you want to do next is to spray a lock deicer along the bottom of the door. If you don’t happen to have one, this is one of the many uses for WD-40. It actually works pretty well as a deicing agent.
You could also pour lukewarm water along that base, too, because there’s a rubber gasket there. And those rubber gaskets will tend to sort of stick to the driveway or the concrete slab like glue. And you basically need to break that clean to be able to make that door work once again.
LESLIE: Laura in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LAURA: We have a deck on the back of our house that we, about two years ago, put a product on it that makes it like an anti-slip texture? And the coating is starting to chip off in big chunks, so we were thinking about using that DECKOVER or OVERDECK, I think it’s called?
And when we were at Home Depot, we noticed that they have something else that was an option. They’re actually foot-squared tiles. They’re like a thick rubber that you actually use a glue to adhere onto the deck and then you cover your deck that way. My concern is if you apply that onto the deck, will that rot the wood?
TOM: Well, Laura, I’m not familiar with rubber tiles but there are polypropylene tiles or plastic tiles or composite tiles that are on the market that are designed to cover old decks. And the way these work is they sit on top of the deck boards and they usually lock together. And some of them are quite attractive. There’s a product called Coverdeck that comes in dozens of different colors and shapes and designs that could look really neat. And it’s not going to be slippery and it’s going to look great.
I am concerned if you’re gluing something down to the wood deck, I agree that something like rubber glued to wood is bound to let some water underneath and it’s certainly not going to evaporate. These composite tiles or the plastic tiles usually have a bit of space under them which allows the wood to breathe and dry out. And then really, that’s the issue: if you hold water against it, you will get decay.
So I would take a look at some of the tile products that allow you to cover these decks and probably avoid anything that’s rubbery that you’re going to glue down.
LAURA: OK. So the glue is OK as long as there’s a gap or some sort of gap between the wood?
TOM: It’s OK to cover it as long as there’s air space so it dries out.
LAURA: OK, perfect. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can send us a question via MoneyPit.com. And that’s what Kay did, who is looking into buying a home in a neighborhood that has a lot of prefab houses.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, Kay writes: “I’m considering buying a home in a neighborhood that seems to be mainly prefab housing. Are there any drawbacks to owning modular?”
TOM: You know, when I first got into home inspection, I would occasionally run into a prefab house. I had some of the same concerns but the more I looked into them and the more I’ve watched that industry, as time has gone on, I really think that they’re actually built better than stick-built homes and here’s why. Because they’re factory-built, there is better control over the materials and the accuracy and the fastening points that really are making all the difference when you’re putting a house together.
So I think that prefabricated homes, where they are mostly built in a factory and then assembled on site by usually a builder that has experience with them – it’s not the kind of thing that a one-off builder does. It’s usually somebody that specializes in prefabricated homes.
They come out on a truck and it’s the most amazing thing – isn’t it, Leslie? – when you see them lift big wall sections or …
LESLIE: It’s massive sections.
TOM: Yeah, right. Or complete roof sections into a house and put it together one sort of chunk at a time.
LESLIE: Yeah. But you’re so right. I mean everything is built in a temperature- and climate-controlled environment, so you don’t have to worry about things getting slowed down because of bad weather or materials being soaked. It’s just so much smarter to do so.
TOM: Yeah, I agree.
Now, like those stick-built homes, when you see the outside all being put together you think, “Ah, I must be moving in next week.” Well, not so fast. It does take a little more time to get all the internal stuff done. So, they may go together a little faster but I don’t necessarily think that will be the only reason to use a prefab home. I think you use it because you can control the quality.
And there’s a lot of design flexibility, too. It’s not like they’re cookie-cutter houses where you only have a small number of choices. You pretty much have all the flexibility you need. Because once that home is designed, then the engineers and the computer program is going to work and basically spit out everything that has to be cut and assembled and gets out there to your site in a pretty short period of time.
But after it goes together, you’ve still got plumbing, wiring, lighting and so on and painting. All that stuff is still done very much manually. Although I will say that sometimes, the pre-wiring and the pre-plumbing can be done. It really depends on what options are available from the builder.
But bottom line is, Kay, I think they’re great houses and I don’t think you should have any concerns about purchasing a prefab home.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Laura. Now, Laura writes: “I can get hot water out of my bathtub faucet if I take a bath but I have no hot water out of the showerhead. I’ve got water pressure, just water that’s not hot. Any ideas about the problem?”
TOM: Well, the only way that can be happening is if the diverter valve has failed. And that’s that mixing valve that mixes hot and cold and sends it up the shower pipe, basically, and out the showerhead. The fact that you’re getting water out of that showerhead means it’s not clogged. And the fact that you’re getting hot water out of the tub spout means the water is getting that far. It’s just not getting up out of the shower, so I think you’ve got a bad diverter valve. You’re going to need to get a plumber in there to fix that, Laura.
You know, it shouldn’t be a difficult project. It shouldn’t be an expensive project. I would go to HomeAdvisor.com and find a contractor that’s got some nice reviews and works in your area and start right there.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps, Laura.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you for spending part of your day with us. Remember, whenever you hear this show, wherever you are, whatever time of the day it is you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Our team is always standing by and ready to take your calls and questions about your home. And if we are not in the studio when that happens, we will always call you back the next time we are. But for now, the show continues online.
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.)