In this episode…
Shower heads with built in speakers, water heaters that detect leaks, and kitchen faucets you can talk and hand showers that deliver aromatherapy to were just some of the many cool new home products we spotted at the 2020 International Builders Show. We’ll have a full report, plus:
- If you’ve been feeling the chill of high heating bills, the best way to lower costs and warm things up is by adding extra insulation. We’ll share the areas of your home where insulation delivers the best ROI, and the very common insulation mistake that many home improvers make that ruins your energy efficiency.
- Is your kitchen backsplash falling behind the times? Adding a new one can be a fun DIY project you could tackle in a weekend. We’ll share backsplash ideas and materials are up-and-coming, affordable, and fun.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, a sinking kitchen floor, patching a popcorn ceiling, repairing electric water heater, what products to use to clean deck and stones, removing wallpaper, sealers for concrete porch, installing ceramic faux wood tiles 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: Thank you for joining us on this episode of The Money Pit. We have got a lot planned. There’s a lot to get done, even though we are still getting through winter. It is the time of year when we’re thinking about spring and planning some projects for those warmer weeks ahead. If you’ve got a project in mind for your home, whether it’s inside or out, or perhaps a repair that needs to be done right now or remodeling project that you’d like to take on, we can help.
We can give you some tips, some advice on how to get it done the least expensive, most successful way. Whether you’re talking about a house, a condo, a yurt, we don’t care. We don’t discriminate. If you’ve got an apartment and wondering how you can cut your heating bill without replacing a heating system that you don’t own – I mean things like that – just give us a call. We’d love to chat. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, we are just back from one of the biggest home shows of the year: the 2020 International Builders’ Show. And that’s where we get to see all the new products, the designs and the technology that will be rolling out across the home building industry this spring. We’re going to have a report just ahead, presented by Greenworks, with all of those details.
LESLIE: And if you’ve been feeling the chill of high heating bills, the best way to lower costs and warm things up is by adding extra insulation. We’re going to share the best place to add more insulation and the very common mistake that a lot of homeowners are making in the process, that can actually ruin the energy efficiency, in just a bit.
TOM: And is your kitchen backsplash falling behind the times? Adding a new one can be a fun do-it-yourself project and you could tackle it in a single weekend. We’re going to share some backsplash-design ideas and materials that are up and coming, affordable and fun.
LESLIE: And 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 at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: And that number is 888-666-3974. If you’ve got a project in mind that you’d like to get done today, tomorrow, next weekend or in the weeks ahead, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jessica in Missouri is dealing with a floor that’s sinking in on itself. What is going on over there?
JESSICA: Hi. I live in a 128-year-old house and my kitchen floor has settled, maybe, in the middle. If everything is not strapped to my walls, it will go towards the middle of my floor.
JESSICA: Yeah. So I didn’t know if you guys had any thoughts about a repair on that, if you think maybe it’s like a joist underneath there or …
TOM: Yeah, does it sit on a basement or a crawlspace, Jessica?
JESSICA: No, it’s dirt.
TOM: It’s dirt. So you can’t really get under it?
JESSICA: I have a crawlspace that I can get underneath it but it’s in the opposite side of my house.
TOM: OK. So, can you get down there and physically examine the beams to see what’s going on?
JESSICA: Yes. But it would take the size of a small child to get underneath there.
JESSICA: So, there lies another problem – is how to see what’s going on, where the best place would be to go in at to try to get that …
TOM: Listen, I had to do a plumbing repair project on my own home, in a crawlspace that was about 6 inches taller than me flat on my back. So, I know how tough it is to work in spaces like that. You’ve got to kind of shimmy in to get there.
But the thing is, I am concerned with this sagging, that somebody has a look at that – those beams – to make sure there’s nothing structural going on, like a termite infestation or something of that nature. If it’s just normal sagging, well, there are some things that we can do from the top side to address that.
One of which comes to mind is that you could use a floor-leveling compound on this old floor. To do so, you are really talking about the entire kitchen floor, including the cabinets. Because to do it just in the middle might not be enough. You really have to go wall to wall on this room. And because it’s a kitchen, it becomes very, very complicated to do that.
But the first thing is to evaluate the structure to make sure that there’s nothing going on there. And then the second thing is to look for a solution above it. It’s generally not possible to raise up a floor that’s already sagged, especially in a really old house, because it took 120 years to get in that position and you’re just not going to bring it back up again. Sometimes you can reinforce it a little bit with some additional beaming and stiffen it up a bit. But generally, if you want to level it, you’ve got to do that from the top side and not from the underside in an old house, OK?
JESSICA: OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate you guys’ time.
TOM: You’re very welcome.
So, Leslie, we’ve had a rough time with cars the last few weeks.
LESLIE: You guys really have not been having good luck.
TOM: We did. So, you know, we live sort of on a dead-end street. And the trash truck from the township was backing down our street early one morning and completely took out our SUV. I mean crushed it done.
LESLIE: Ooh. That is really bad luck.
TOM: So it was an older car that my son had been using for college. And so, we decided to buy a Subaru. It was the second one in the family. And one of the cool things about the Subaru is that you can have this app that lets you have a remote start and other capabilities, like the ability to lock and unlock and set alerts and such.
So, when I go to the gym in the morning, I get in this habit since we got this – my Subaru – of basically starting the car about 10 minutes ahead of time so it’s nice and warm, right? I don’t have to go out in the chilly weather at 5:30 in the morning. Well, this morning I got up and I started the car and I got out the door and I looked and the car wasn’t on. I’m like, “What the heck? The car is not – what’s with my remote start? It’s not working. I’m going to have to sit in a cold car.” Poor me, right?
Well, then I looked at my phone and I figured out what I had done. I actually started my son’s car, except that his car was 400 miles away in Virginia.
LESLIE: How is that possible?
TOM: Because they were both on the same app. So, I figured, “Well, I guess I remote-started it. Maybe I can remote-stop it.” And sure enough, I hit the other button and I remote-stopped it. And he had no idea it happened. I talked to him later in the afternoon and he was like, “No way.” I’m like, “Yep. I started your car by accident.”
LESLIE: That is amazing.
TOM: So …
LESLIE: And you would think that there would be a proximity rule to act like, “Oh, you can only start it if you’re within X miles or – but not a whole ‘nother state.”
TOM: Right. Exactly. No. Right. So …
LESLIE: Holy moly.
TOM: How about that? So, that was kind of a fun start to my day.
But anyway, hey, my day continues right here. And the second most fun part of my day is answering your questions. So if you’ve got a home improvement question, you need to call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, even though it’s very much winter outside still, we have our minds set to spring with a great giveaway this hour. We’ve got the very handy Heavy-Duty Metal Hose Reel Cart from Centurion Brands. Now, you could take this baby all around the yard, because it holds 300 feet of 5/8-inch hose. And it’s made out of a super-strong, 14-gauge steel construction, so it’s very sturdy.
It’s a prize worth 120 bucks. You can visit CenturionBrands.com, check out the prize. But give us a call this hour for your chance to win. And before you know it, you can be watering your beautiful yard to spring goodness.
TOM: That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And by the way, it doesn’t matter when you’re hearing the show. If it’s on a weekend, if it’s during the week, if it’s on a radio station or by podcast, you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are. And we’ll always toss your name in that Money Pit hard hat for a shot at winning that week’s featured product.
LESLIE: Tony in Iowa is having a hot-and-cold water situation. What’s going on?
TONY: Well, I’ve got an electric water heater. And the main feed that comes in from the city, that goes into my electric water heater, it’s a cold line. But yeah, I get cold water to come out of my faucets and everything but that cold-water line, up around through the water heater there, it’s hot, the line, when I touch it. And I’m just curious what’s going on with that.
TOM: So, you have an electric water heater and that’s going to be fed by a cold-water line and it’s going to go through the water heater and come out as a hot-water line.
TONY: That’s correct.
TOM: OK. And so what’s the problem? So far, it’s normal.
TONY: The water line that goes into the water heater – the cold water?
TOM: Yes. Yep.
TONY: That line is hot.
TOM: Well, some of the heat from the water heater can be working its way back up the pipe. So you may be feeling some conductive heat that comes from – the hot water in the water heater itself could be making that pipe warm. But if you go farther down the line, you’re going to feel that it’s cold again.
It goes in cold and comes out hot but the fitting right around the top might feel like it’s a bit warm. But that’s only because of the conductive heat of the water in the water heater coming back up the metal pipe.
TONY: OK. That alleviates my concerns then.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, every year we try to get to the biggest trade shows in the industry, to learn what new products and trends we can expect to see in the months ahead.
Now, one of those shows is the International Builders’ Show, which was held recently in Las Vegas. And today’s report on that show is presented by Greenworks. They’ve developed a 60-volt family of tools, which reflects the most innovative technology in battery-powered outdoor tools. And they’re sold exclusively at Lowe’s Home Improvement.
Now, this is not like any show you’ve ever seen in a local exhibit hall. The show is massive. It takes up hundreds of thousands of square feet of space in the Las Vegas Convention Center. The exhibitors include most of the major manufacturers in the building-and-remodeling industry. And they exhibit there to introduce builders, remodelers and the press, like us, to their newest products. So, here’s a few that we found really interesting.
First up, there’s a lot happening in the smart-home space. The U by Moen Smart Faucet was pretty cool. It’s a faucet that operates normally but it also operates via voice command. You can simply ask Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant to turn on the water or turn off the water, as well as to dispense exact measurements and temperatures. So, for example, if you needed 4 cups of water for a recipe or the baby bottle filled with 8 ounces of water heated to exactly 98.6 degrees, it can do just that.
Moen also has an aromatherapy hand shower that’s designed with the ability to infuse essential oils directly into the water flow. And that’s designed to create sort of a sensory shower experience.
Now, also in the smart-home category, we have LiftMaster. They’re out with a new smart garage-door opener. But the neatest part of it is it has an integrated camera. The camera records who goes in and out of the garage. And through a partnership with Yale, the door works with Amazon Key. So a delivery driver can receive a one-time code to open your garage door, place the package securely inside and close it, all under the watchful eye of the built-in camera.
Now, let’s talk about what I think is one of the smartest developments for water heaters. Now, water heaters work perfectly year after year. But what do we all fear about the water heater? That one day it’s going to leak and you’ll come home to water running out your front door.
Well, Rheem just released the Gladiator Electric Water Heater with built-in leak detection. Now, the technology is called LeakSense and it features a band that goes around the bottom of the tank. That’s the actual sensor. If it gets wet, it triggers an automatic shutoff valve at the top of the tank and that stops the water flow instantly. So, no more major floods caused by a leaking water heater.
And finally, speaking of floods, would you love to have a hardwood floor but you’re afraid it might get destroyed by even a minor spill? Well, Lumber Liquidators is reinventing engineered hardwood floors with their AquaSeal technology. Now, that allows water to sit on the floor for up to 24 hours with no damage whatsoever. The colors, the styles, the patterns that these floors are available in are really amazing. And now, you also get the peace of mind that a minor or even a major spill won’t ruin them forever.
And that’s today’s report on the International Builders’ Show presented by Greenworks Tools, makers of the new Greenworks 60-volt family of tools, the most innovative technology in battery-powered outdoor tools. With ultimate performance, superior run time, they’re here to change the game and they’re not done yet. Sold exclusively at Lowe’s Home Improvement. Learn more at GreenworksTools.com.
LESLIE: Bill in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BILL: I’m trying to clean some pressure-treated deck. This is on the second floor of my house and also on the ground is stone. What we have here in Tennessee is Crab Orchard stone; it’s a soft stone. And it’s turned black. The stone has turned black over time and it’s about 15 years old. And the pressure-treated wood has turned black, also, and I wanted to see what the best thing to clean both of them – I’ve tried cleaner on the end of a garden hose and it don’t – and I followed the instructions but it didn’t do much at all.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean it sounds like a combination of the wood aging and also mold or algae.
Now, you know, a pressure washer set to an aggressive but gentle setting, if that makes any sense, will probably do the best to kind of attack this growth on it. If you could use some bleach and water or Wet & Forget – a product like that that will do a good job of – I’m not going to say attacking but you know what I mean: really aggressively going at this growth. That will probably do a good job of getting to the base of it and removing it from it.
If you can get more sunlight on the area to sort of beat this shady mold growth that’s happening, that will help tremendously. There’s some things that you can do there.
BILL: OK. That’s good. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
So, Leslie, I recently took on a project in my garage. I replaced the old fluorescent lights with the integrated LED shop lights. And I’ve got to tell you, I am so happy.
TOM: They are so bright. It makes it so much easier to see the tools and actually get stuff done.
LESLIE: Well, actually see things.
LESLIE: And I’m sure they come on right away, as opposed to those fluoro tubes that would flicker and flicker and maybe come on?
TOM: I think we get used to bad lighting.
LESLIE: You really do.
TOM: Once I put the first fixture up and I was like, “Holy cow, that’s bright,” I couldn’t wait to get the whole garage done. They weren’t that expensive. It was a pretty easy install. So, keep that in mind if your garage is a little bit dark. Think about updating those lights with some of these integrated LEDs. I just found one that was well-ranked on Amazon and I ordered six of them and put them up. And man, it’s nice and bright now. So, loving it.
LESLIE: Yeah. And now you can see how dirty your garage/workshop is and all the stuff you need to do.
TOM: Yeah. There’s that.
LESLIE: Jan in California is having a wallpaper-removal situation. Tell us what’s going on.
JAN: Hi. Been removing wallpaper and repapering for 50 years and never come across where you take the wallpaper off and it looks like there’s a paper lining behind it. I’ve had some people tell me that this is a filler for the texturing so the wallpaper looks smooth. And others tell me that it’s a liner and it fills the whole wall with pencil lines where the wallpaper goes. I don’t want to damage the sheetrock that’s underneath, so I’m a little leery about taking that off or leaving it on or what I should do with it.
TOM: So your end game is to get down to the drywall?
JAN: Well, it doesn’t have to be if I can texture over what’s there. But it’s almost like a paper and I don’t know if we can put the mud and everything on that.
TOM: If it’s adhered well, then I don’t see why you couldn’t texture over it. Do you want to use a textured paint?
JAN: No, I want to use the texture that I’ve had on the other walls.
TOM: The key here is whether or not the surface that you’ve exposed is well-adhered to the drywall underneath. If it’s well-adhered, then you can go ahead and put your texture over that. If it’s not, then your texture could be on there for a couple of months and it could start falling off in chunks when that backer paper pulls off. As long as it’s well-adhered, then I don’t see any reason you can’t go on top of it, Jan.
JAN: OK. I appreciate you and enjoy your program all the time.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, now that we’ve been paying winter heating bills for months, you may be ready to think about adding some insulation to improve your comfort and reduce those bills. But if the idea of working in a dusty, cramped space and avoiding stepping through the ceiling below just doesn’t appeal to you, we get it. You’ll be glad to know, though, this is a project that is good to hand off to a qualified contractor and can actually be done for a fairly low cost.
LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got tips for using various insulation, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.
First up, you’re going to need to think about what kind of insulation that you’d like to invest in. Now, insulation pros can help guide you, because some of this is dependent on how your home is built. But there are really three common types of insulation out there.
TOM: Yeah. So the first one is my favorite. That’s spray-foam insulation. That’s going to seal leaks and gaps inside the existing walls. And it’s a perfect solution for anybody who’s looking for a relatively inexpensive way to fix a larger problem, because it’s also going to increase your home’s R-value at the same time. Now, we used this in our house and the results were really nothing short of amazing.
The way it works is that an insulation pro will mix the foam on site and then spray it onto the rafters or the ceiling joists, where it expands to both insulate and seal at the same time. It’s the only insulation product that does both.
LESLIE: Now, blown-in insulation is another option that’s been popular for many decades in homes all across the U.S. It’s usually made from cellulose but it could also be made of fiberglass. And it’s got a higher-than-average R-value depending on the depth that’s blown in.
Now, the way it works is that there’s a mechanical blower attached to a supply of cellulose. And then the pro essentially points where they want that insulation to go and fills the space.
TOM: Lastly, of course, we should talk about fiberglass batts. Now, they are among the most inexpensive ways to insulate your home, especially in an attic that already has insulation and is open and accessible. The important part about fiberglass batts, though, is to pay very close attention to how they are installed. For attics, it’s important to use unfaced fiberglass batts, lay them perpendicular to the floor joists. And be sure that the attic has enough ventilation to make sure it doesn’t become damp and wet, which can make the insulation very ineffective.
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.
Well, it might still be winter but we are definitely thinking ahead to spring with our giveaway this hour, because we have the Heavy-Duty Metal Hose Reel Cart from Centurion Brands. I like this product because it’s got big, pneumatic tires and it holds 300 feet of 5/8 hose. So, it’s going to hold a lot of hose, get you wherever you need to go and it’s easy to move around the yard. It’s made of 14-gauge steel, which is pretty sturdy, and it’s got a polystyrene finish so it’s not going to rust out.
It’s worth $120. Going out to one listener drawn at random. So, make that you. Call us, right now, with your home improvement, your décor question, your remodeling question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jeff in Missouri is on the line and needs some help with a patio project. What are you working on?
JEFF: I really already got it done but I failed to put a sealer on my patio. And I was wondering what I can do about that at this late date. It’s been poured about six months.
TOM: So, why do you want to put a sealer on it?
JEFF: Because the leaves and the grass stain it.
TOM: You could clean it. You could use a trisodium-phosphate solution to scrub it and clean it and brighten it up again. But then you have to wait until it’s really dry, so doing this in the chilly weather is not a good idea. You want to make sure it’s super-dry and then you could add a concrete sealer on top of that.
The concrete sealers that you want to make sure you get are ones that are vapor-permeable and that means that the moisture moves in and out. You don’t want to completely seal the brick, because then what’ll happen is the moisture will still get in it but it’ll freeze and start to break apart or spall, as the technical term goes.
So if you get a good-quality concrete sealer and get it clean to start with, certainly you can reduce some of that staining going forward.
JEFF: I appreciate that. Thank you, you guys, for what you do.
TOM: Oh, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ann in Florida needs some help with a flooring project. What can we do for you today?
ANN: I’m going to rip up my carpet. I have concrete underneath and I want to put down the ceramic tile that looks like hardwood. And are you familiar with the product?
LESLIE: I am, very much so. I’ve actually used it on several projects.
ANN: Oh. And my question was, also: should I wait and not do it right away? That they’re going to even have better-looking – the wood look? I was told that it’s supposed to get even better.
LESLIE: I imagine that with all things, when you wait things get better. But wood-grain tile has actually been quite popular for probably four or five years now, so I’ve seen it greatly improve. Depending on how much you want to spend on it – and I’m not sure what manufacturers you’ve looked at but a good price point is a manufacturer called Daltile: D-a-l – tile. And they’re sold through tile stores, so it’s – you can call Daltile and take a look.
And they have one line called Yacht Club, which is fairly new for them. And it’s like a 6-inch by 24-inch wood plank but it’s a ceramic tile. It comes in a couple of different colors. I think it lays really nicely. It has a good texture of wood and it comes in some color palettes that I think are very realistic. And the way it fits together, it looks as if it were a real wood …
TOM: A lot like wood, yeah.
LESLIE: Yeah, like a wood floor. It doesn’t have a big grout line. They have another one in their line called Timber Glen and that’s a really big plank. But the way it pieces together, you see a lot of a grout line, so that kind of looks weird. Not as realistic wood, as you might expect.
So if you do go with a wood-look tile that does have a predominant grout line, I would choose a grout that’s similar in color to the tile.
ANN: Uh-huh. I’ve seen the tile where the tile is like wood planks.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s exactly what this looks like; it looks like wood planks. And I will caution you, though, that you’re talking about – any tile that’s 24 inches long in one direction like this is going to need an extraordinary amount of support underneath it.
So you have to be very careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to prepping the floor before the tile is laid. If there’s any flex or bend or unevenness in that floor, eventually this tile is going to crack. You don’t want that to happen, so you want to make sure that the floor is properly supported to take a bigger – big tile.
When we used to have mosaics years ago, it didn’t really matter if the floors were flexible, so to speak, or not because there was a joint every 1 inch in a mosaic tile. But a 24-inch-long tile, that’s not going to bend; it’s going to break. So you want to make sure the floor is really strong before you do that installation, OK?
ANN: Yes. OK. Great.
TOM: Well, kitchen backsplashes have been popular for many years but some unexpected materials and looks are starting to put them in front and center.
LESLIE: That’s right. Glass backsplashes come in countless colors, shapes and designs and look as classic as they do trendy. Now, glass options are endless. You can go with square tiles in expected colors or a full slab of glass painted one shade. So, you can really do a lot of things with a glass tile.
TOM: Now, if you can believe it, vinyl-wallpaper backsplashes are also making a comeback. And there’s good reason for it, because it’s inexpensive, it’s easy to install, it’s easy to clean and it comes in a ton of colors and patterns and textures. And that makes it very popular among the do-it-yourself crowd.
LESLIE: And if you like your food natural, you might like a natural backsplash, too. Everything from upcycled palettes to indigenous woods are making appearances above kitchen counters. Now, customers with an eye for rustic design might prefer a natural wood-plank look. Or for a shabby-chic look, you can try beadboard in a white or even a soft pastel tone.
TOM: Now, speaking of white, the white-on-white subway tile has been hot for a while. You can give that look a twist, though, by using colored grout. Gray grout on the white tile is a very sleek choice. But for an even trendier look, you can fill that space between the white tiles with a pop of color: I mean anything from tangerine to electric blue. Any of those bright colors are really going to spruce up the space.
LESLIE: Now, another idea is spray-on chalkboard paint. That can give your backsplash a whole new function and it lets you add and erase new designs as often as you want.
TOM: Or you can take a less common approach to the whole thing by using stone backsplashes with river rock or pebble tiles or maybe even ones you collect yourself. Whether you go mono or you combine the pebbles into – with wood and tile, it’s a really cool look and one that people are definitely going to take notice of. I love that if we do projects like this, that people come into the house and go, “Did you get a new kitchen?” Nah, it’s just a backsplash or hardware or some small improvement like that. And it really does change the fabric of the entire room.
LESLIE: Hey, we always want to give you a hand with whatever it is you’re working on, so don’t be afraid to give us a call or post your question online, just like Margo did.
Now, Margo from Florida writes: “I have an electronic air filter and I’m wondering, how do I clean it? One dealer says vacuum, because washing could cause corrosion and malfunction. Another dealer says wash with water.”
TOM: Well, it really comes down, Margo, to what the manufacturer has recommended. So, I would look up the brand online and make that the final determining factor.
But I will say that a lot of the electronic air filters were designed where the entire filter sort of cartridge could be removed and actually run through a dishwasher. So I wouldn’t worry too much about getting it wet if that, in fact, is the type that you have. Of course, you don’t want to put it back together until it’s really dry, so I’d leave it sitting out for two to three hours to make sure any moisture that’s in there is completely eliminated before you put it back together.
But keeping it clean is going to be important to its effectiveness and it’s efficiency. If it’s dirty, then it’s just not going to pick up the same level of particles that are kind of flying through the air and getting trapped to it.
So, again, I would check with the manufacturer of your particular electronic air filter to find out what they recommend. But it’s not unusual to wash them by hand or wash them in the dishwasher.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Gabriella in Yonkers, New York who writes: “I live in an apartment with hot water and steam heat. The paint on the wall above one of the units is peeling and has dark specks that look like mold. Is that caused by the heating unit? If so, what can I do to fix it or stop it from happening?”
TOM: So I think two things are going on there, Gabriella. First of all, the peeling paint is just a bad paint job. Maybe they – you know, sometimes in apartments they always put fresh coats of paint on over and over many other fresh coats of paint. And so, sometimes you get too many coats and it just doesn’t bind anymore. That’s probably why it’s peeling.
But the black specks or the dirt is usually just the dirt in the air that because you get a lot of heat that comes off the radiator naturally, it has sort of an upward lift of the airflow there and it’ll wash that air against the wall, which is cold. You get dirt deposits on the wall and it can look streaky and a lot of specks. But it doesn’t mean that there’s any mold or anything like that going on. You could prove it by basically cleaning the wall.
LESLIE: Alright, Gabriella. I hope that helps you out a lot.
TOM: Well, the long, dark days of winter tend to give project-loving homeowners the blues. But you don’t have to wait for spring to add cheer. You can make a few very inexpensive home improvements and spruce up your home and lift your spirits, all at the same time. Leslie has some tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. It might sound obvious but the first thing that you can do is just turn on some lights. I mean this really is a good time to add a lamp or some sconces or at least increase the brightness of the bulbs in the fixtures that you’ve already got at home.
Now, another way is to plant an indoor garden. And you can choose colorful flowers or even something edible. This is just going to remind you of spring. And then once that springtime weather does arrive, you can transfer this garden outdoors.
Another thing you can do is spruce up your front door. Now, the front entry is a great welcome for you when you’ve been out in the dreariness. And if you’re not going to paint or get a new door, just polish the hardware. It’s a little thing but it can make a huge difference. And you can also get a new, inexpensive doormat, boost your lighting on the front porch to that maximum wattage allowed by the fixture. All of that is going to instantly update and brighten up that front entry.
Now, spring isn’t too far off but a few fix-ups now should make you feel a little cozier as you hibernate in your home throughout the rest of winter.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, if winter storms and the power outages they’ve brought have you considering a generator, we’re going to have some tips to help you pick the best type for your home.
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.)