In this episode…
If there’s one room you’d like to be bright and cheery, it’s the kitchen! We’ll have tips on lighting to keep that space looking bright – even when it’s dark outside. Plus…
- If winter storms and the power outages, they bring have you considering a generator, we’ve got tips to help you pick the best type of generator for your home.
- Ready to take on some home improvement projects, but don’t feel you have the time? Not possible! We’ll highlight several projects you can get done in 30 minutes or less!
- Did you know that some storm doors can make your exterior door so hot that the molding will melt and the door handle could even burn you?
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about fixing an in-floor heating system, best way to discharge a sump pump, ways to lower energy costs, best lighting for a garage door, safest way to install a wood burning stove 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: And we are here to help you take on your home improvement and décor projects. Whatever is on your to-do list, you can slide it on over to ours by reaching out to us, which you can do by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 or posting your questions on MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s program, if there’s one room you’d like to be bright and cheery, it’s the kitchen, which is why we’re going to have some tips on lighting to keep that space looking very bright even when it’s dark outside.
LESLIE: And also ahead, if winter storms and the power outages that they bring have you considering a generator, we’ve got some tips to help you pick the best type for your home.
TOM: And look, guys, are you ready to take on some home improvement projects but you always feel that you don’t have enough time? Well, we’ve got news for you: not possible. We put together a list of a whole bunch of projects that you can get done in 30 minutes or less. Then we’re going to jump into that.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear what you are working on this winter season. What project is on your to-do list? Maybe you started something and you need a hand getting it finished or perhaps you’re looking for some inspiration. Whatever it is, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your question, plus a chance at winning an amazing product.
We’ve got, up for grabs, a Greenworks 60-Volt Cordless Mower. Now, you’re not going to use it right now in most parts of the country but you will be dreaming about those beautiful, green lawns come springtime. And this is a prize that can totally help. It’s battery-operated and it’s got a backup battery, as well. So once one runs out, the other one will kick on.
TOM: You can check out Greenworks products and tips on your favorite social site, @GreenworksTools. That mower is worth 400 bucks. It’s going out to one listener drawn at random. Now, you can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. You can also post your question on MoneyPit.com.
And if we are not in the studio when you call, we will take your name and number and call you back the next time we are and throw your name in the hard hat for that week’s prize. So what are you waiting for? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Katie in Minnesota is on the line with a question about a door. What is going on?
KATIE: I’m having some issues with the front door. My husband bought a storm door. And it’s a self – or it’s energy-efficient.
KATIE: And we have a door behind there: our front door. And there’s getting to be so much heat between the two doors that it’s melting the trim that’s on the other door.
TOM: Yeah. Yep. Mm-hmm. Yep. Very common.
So, here’s the thing. You don’t really need a storm door anymore with today’s modern doors. Or usually, if they’re installed properly and they have the right kind of weather-stripping and the sills are adjusted so that they seal well, you generally don’t need a storm door.
Now, of course, all of us enjoy screen doors so that we can leave our interior door open in the warmer weather. But when you put a storm door on top of a door like that, you do get sort of a greenhouse effect, where the light comes through that storm door and the heat just builds up between that metal door and the glass. And it will melt, as you saw, the plastic trim around the window pane. So that is very, very common, Katie. You are in good company with that.
TOM: So, I would tell you that in the summer, you don’t want to have that storm panel on there. You’ve got to get that storm panel off and just put the screen panel in. Otherwise, this will continue to happen.
KATIE: Yeah, that’s what we do in the summer. But during the winter – so then I had called the company and they had said that there’s a plate on the bottom where you can raise it. So we raised it but then it’s – the whole door is – has frost. Really thick frost. Is that bad for the door?
TOM: Well, it shouldn’t be happening in the wintertime. It’s only – it really is a summertime condition, because it doesn’t get hot enough in the cold months to cause that melting.
KATIE: Oh, we have it now and it’s winter.
TOM: It’s not possible. I think it’s probably melted in the summer, because it doesn’t get hot enough now, not with this kind of temperature, to melt that trim. The trim melts in the warmer weather.
KATIE: Right. Well, the thing is is we cut the tree down. The door’s black. And so we just put it in maybe two, three months ago.
TOM: OK. Yeah. Yeah, that’s not helping you either. That’s not helping you either, yeah. Is it a steel door?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, you might want to rethink that door color. But I’m just telling you that you don’t need to have that storm door on it whenever it starts to get warm.
KATIE: So, I know.
TOM: And if you decide – if you are going to have it, you’re going to get this problem.
KATIE: Right. My husband said maybe we should just paint it white and see what it does, if it still …
TOM: Well, it will be better but I’m just telling you, this is really common and it happens consistently in warmer weather. And it will just only get worse.
KATIE: Mm-hmm. Great. OK.
TOM: Alright. Well, listen, at least you know that you’re not alone.
TOM: And it’s – when people see this, they think, “Oh, my gosh. This has never happened before.” No, it happens all the time, believe me.
Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
If you’ve got a home improvement question, now is a great time to pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because you’ll get the answer to that question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a fantastic prize.
Our friends at Greenworks have given us a mower – a Greenworks 60-Volt Mower – to give away. Now, I love this product. It’s got a push-button start so there’s no cords to pull. No gas, no oil to mess with. It’s got a very powerful, brushless motor that’s going to cut through the toughest grass. And because this is a cordless mower, a battery-powered mower, think about it: you can store it vertically and that really makes a big difference in your garage or your shed. If you did that with a gas-powered machine, the oil and gas and everything would be leaking all over the place.
LESLIE: You wouldn’t do it.
TOM: Nah, you wouldn’t. It would just be a heck of a mess.
LESLIE: You couldn’t. It’d be a mess.
TOM: And then it wouldn’t start.
So, this is kind of cool. It’s part of a full suite of Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Lithium-Powered Outdoor Equipment. They’ve also got a string trimmer, a hedge trimmer, a chainsaw, a handheld leaf blower and more. All the tools include a battery and charger and they’re available exclusively at Lowe’s and Lowes.com.
LESLIE: And you know what? You can also get great tips, ideas and solutions for your lawn-and-garden projects when you follow @GreenworksTools on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
TOM: That great prize is going out to one caller drawn at random. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Clyde in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a chilly floor.
I bet your feet are freezing. What is going on?
CLYDE: About a year ago, we bought a house. And I went to a one-level slab home. And OK, as you’re coming in, you buy a house and it’s all pretty and everything and then you find out problems.
Well, the house originally had water pipes in the concrete. Somebody was – graded the house and they walked off in the middle of winter and the pipes busted. So, when they, say, flipped the house, they didn’t put the concrete or the water-heat system or any kind of tape or anything else in the concrete.
CLYDE: They just covered it up with a vinyl flooring.
CLYDE: So, the house is brick veneer with a block inside. And it’s structurally as sound as a fortress but it’s like a freezer or refrigerator in here.
CLYDE: And so I did …
TOM: So, do you think you have active leaks right now in that slab?
CLYDE: No. The heating system is no longer.
CLYDE: They went to a forced-air gas and then a heat pump on – down one end and out the other.
TOM: Right. Mm-hmm. OK.
CLYDE: So, there’s no water. There’s no issues there.
CLYDE: It’s gone.
CLYDE: It’s just the cold, uninsulated slab that just conveys the heat – or the cold, rather.
TOM: Right. All the time, yeah.
TOM: Yeah, that’s unfortunate.
CLYDE: I thought about this film – or not film but foil. I’ve used it in a roofing situation and it really worked very well in stopping the heat and cold movement. But I didn’t know how it would be under carpet or under a vinyl flooring.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t – you’re talking about radiant barrier. That’s not designed to be under a floor. I don’t think it’ll make any difference, frankly.
So, let’s just talk about the problem in general. So, I’ve seen this before. You basically had a home that was once heated by a sub-slab hydronic system, meaning that the water pipes were basically cast into the floor. And the idea was that a hot-water system would warm up that water, run it through the floor and the floor would get nice and warm. And those systems are fantastic until they break. And they’re impossible to fix.
And back then, you know, they used copper plumbing pipe for that. Now, today it’s done with a material called PEX, which is pretty much indestructible. So the good news is if you did it again, you wouldn’t basically do – you could have that sub-slab system and it wouldn’t be nearly as prone to breakage as what you have now.
But now, once that happens, then people scramble to find some other system that will work. And generally, I’ve seen them take the air-conditioning ducts and try and turn it into a heating system and like you say, run forced air through that. Usually, that’s pretty darn inefficient because a lot of times, that heat’s coming out at the ceiling and certainly not where it should be coming out. So the heat never quite gets down to floor level. So, as you can tell from my description, I’ve seen it before many times.
Now, for your house, with the cement slab I think what I would be doing is I would be putting an insulation under anything that I put down. So, for example, if I was going to carpet something, I would probably put 1-inch – even though you have to raise the floor a bit. It becomes challenging around doors and that sort of thing. I’d probably put a 1-inch foam insulation piece under that. But then you have to put a plywood subfloor over it, because you can’t just carpet on top of the foam, obviously. But I think in the rooms where it’s possible, you’re going to have to put some sort of insulation sheet underneath that floor, in order to get past this frigid feeling that you’re getting every time you get up in the winter and walk across it.
CLYDE: Right. Exactly. Yeah. Oh, I was afraid – and the house has got – luckily, the vinyl – it’s got vinyl flooring and snap-in. It wasn’t glued down. So that’s a positive. And there’s only three rooms that – three smaller bedrooms that have carpet in them. So, that in itself is just peel it back, take the molding off around the outside and your kickboard or floor molding and then just – and do like you were saying. I never thought about actual foam or that kind of insulation board.
TOM: Yeah, I would those furring strips in. And you can secure those down with Tapcon screws, which will drill right into the concrete. And then you can attach the subfloor to that furring strip. You can make the furring strips the same exact thickness as the foam. So if you use the 1-inch foam, you just cut yourself 1-inch furring strips.
CLYDE: Alright. Would that then – would the furring strip help eliminate any condensation or – that happens when you have a temperature inversion from one surface to another. That concrete, you think about sweating.
TOM: Yeah. What I would do is I’d put plastic down on the slab first and then I’d put the furring strips on top of that. And then you would insert the foam in between that.
CLYDE: On the – oh, yes, yes. Understood. Alright.
TOM: I think it’s going to make a huge difference for you.
CLYDE: Oh, it – yeah, would be greatly. Alright. Well, I do appreciate your callback. This is awesome. I listen to your show and – quite a bit. There’s some of the things that doesn’t apply down south or some other area but I really appreciate your service.
TOM: Yeah, we try to mix it up, you know? We’re talking to the entire nation. So, we’re going – when we say – we mean it when we say coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. Because, really, there are folks that are listening in every climate out there. And if you’ve got a question, no matter where you live, we’re going to try to answer it for you.
CLYDE: Awesome. Thank you. You have enlightened me in several different areas I hadn’t thought about. So, thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. You’re welcome, sir.
LESLIE: There’s really a lot there that’s difficult to work with.
TOM: Yeah. In the years I spent as a home inspector, I saw that all the time. And it was just such a ridiculous fix to see builders and contractors sell these folks systems where they’re delivering heat at the ceiling level. I mean who in their right mind ever thought that was going to make that house comfortable? Usually, if they get enough heat, they’re paying 50 percent more than they should, because they have to keep pumping it into the house just to feel that comfort.
But once that slab starts to leak and those pipes fail, there’s nothing you can do about that. You could put an electric grid down but then you’re paying electricity costs. And that is very expensive, as well.
So, well, I think we got him straightened out there and Clyde is on his way to a warmer floor, which is important when you live in Illinois.
LESLIE: Well, if your kitchen feels dark and dreary, it might be that you don’t have the right kind or perhaps the right type of lighting. Now, for kitchens, you need three types of lighting: you’ve got to have ambient, task and accent lighting.
Now, ambient lighting is the overall light you have in the room. And that’s generally provided by the larger fixtures and natural light from the windows.
TOM: Now, task lighting is more focused. It’s calibrated to specific work areas, like counters. And accent lighting does just that. It accents and highlights the architectural details or the objects within that redesigned space, like kitchen lighting that points up from the top of your cabinets or rope lighting underneath the cabinets which, incidentally, is a very easy do-it-yourself project.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? There’s no shortage of fixture styles and sizes out there to choose from for all of these lighting types. And it’s definitely OK to mix and match fixture styles. You can put a chandelier over the dining area and install interesting pendants for task lighting. Think about looking at things in the same finish or the same type of design style or period style to sort of blend those pieces together. But go for it. Mix and match.
TOM: And speaking of lighting styles, I just today, Leslie, did some work on our task lighting. We had some track lighting that was above some areas of our kitchen, where it was a bit dark. And I took it all apart, put it all back together. Cleaned it up because it was picking up some dirt and grease from the cooking and stuff. Cleaned it all up, put it back together. So, now, not only is the light brighter but the fixtures are brighter, as well.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s fantastic.
TOM: So, lots of things that you can do in the kitchen to really add some more light there. And it does make a big difference. We love, for example, those little halogen puck lights. Those go under the cabinet so easy. Again, very do-it-yourself.
Whether you want to take on a bigger project that requires, perhaps, using an electrician to wire some of the lighting or just doing a DIY project like rope lighting or puck lighting, you can’t go wrong by adding more light to that space.
LESLIE: Good point.
Alright. Now we’ve got Derwin in Texas who’s dealing with a fascia-board situation. Tell us what’s going on.
DERWIN: I have a fascia board that is rotten. The way it’s put on there is I have a 1×4 fascia board that’s nailed up on there and then a 1×2 is nailed on the top portion of the fascia board.
DERWIN: Which kind of – and the gutter is nailed to the 1×2, so I guess the 1×2 keeps the gutter from resting up against the fascia board, to keep it from rotting.
TOM: Got it. Mm-hmm.
DERWIN: But the drip edge – there’s a drip edge that’s nailed to the top, so like a 2×2 drip edge. And the top part of the drip edge is nailed to the roof deck and then it lays – the other half is – lays into the gutter.
TOM: So what you want to know is how can you get the rotted fascia board out without taking apart your gutter and your drip edge and your spacer and all that stuff, right?
TOM: There’s no way to surgically remove the fascia; it’s like one part of the assembly.
TOM: So you’d have to take the whole thing apart. Now, it’s not a – it sounds like a lot of work. It’s not a tremendous project to get a gutter off. It’s not something you can do yourself because you don’t want to bend it, so you have to do it with some help to take the gutter off in one piece.
But there is an opportunity here and that is that when you replace the fascia, I would not put wood fascia back. What I would do is I would use a product called AZEK – A-Z-E-K. This looks like wood, so it could look like that old 1×4 that you had, except it’s made of cellular PVC. So, it cuts like wood and it looks like wood but it never rots. So I would definitely suggest that this is an opportunity to improve the material that you’re using there.
TOM: Now, whether or not you put back the spacer and the gutter the way it was before is up to you. You really don’t need to have a spacer. You could put the gutter right up against the AZEK and then have the roof just lay into the top of the gutter. That would be the most normal assembly for that kind of thing.
But if you want the spacer and it just works out better because that’s the way it was before, then what you could do is buy 1×6 AZEK, cut a 1½-inch strip off of it, use that as a spacer and use the rest as – you’ll have a 1×4 left and you use that for the fascia and you’ll have the strip just in one piece.
DERWIN: So it cuts just like wood.
TOM: Looks like wood, cuts like wood, doesn’t rot like wood. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Louis, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LOUIS: I have a question regarding a sump pump – drainage water. The previous owner has it routed to the sewer line going to the bathroom in the basement. That’s where the sump pump is, also. And I was wondering, should I reroute that to the outside of the house or should it – is it OK where it is?
TOM: Well, you’re technically not supposed to connect a sump pump to a sewer line. You’re correct in that it’s supposed to go outside the house. Part of the issue is that if you don’t have a check valve, for sure, if you have any backup in the sewer, it can come right straight back up into the sump pump and that’s not going to be a pleasant situation.
So, it would be preferable that it drain outside and at least 4 to 6 feet away from your foundation of your home so it doesn’t drop water back against the foundation wall.
LOUIS: OK, then. Well, I did put a check valve in the – I put a heavy-duty sump pump in it and it requires you to put a check valve in it, which I did. But they put a flex hose from there to the sewer line into the wall and I’m not comfortable with that. And I didn’t think it should go there but thanks for that. I’ll take care of that.
TOM: Yeah. And you are correct. So make sure you repair the sewer line when you pull that hose out, OK?
LOUIS: I will do that. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, with an aging electrical grid and severe weather seemingly more prevalent than ever, getting caught without power is becoming a lot more common. Now, generators are an option but the type all depends on your budget and your needs.
So, there are two basic types. We’re talking about portable and whole-house. And each serves a very specific purpose.
TOM: That’s right. So let’s start first by talking about portable generators. They really have come a long way. They are usually gasoline-powered but they can also be propane-powered. There’s a range of power that they provide. The small units can power just a couple of essential items, like perhaps a refrigerator and lights. They can also be taken sort of to-go: places like campsites and tailgates, so you can get a little more use out of them.
The pro side is that they’re very affordable. They’re small. You can take it with you. But on the downside, you need fuel to operate them safely. And if you have a power outage in your community, chances are you may not be able to buy fuel at the local gas station, which will also have a power outage and not be able to pump it. So, it’s something to keep in mind, because you can’t store fuel for a very long time.
You could also opt for a portable transfer switch to plug them into, which means you could have a couple of circuits permanently wired to that generator. It makes it a little bit easier just to run those circuits. For example, the circuit for your heating system might be one that you would want to wire with it. But again, it’s a lot more hassle than you think, because you’ve got to have that fuel to run it.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, there’s also a whole-house option. Now, a whole-house generator, these guys are installed directly into your home’s electrical system. And they can run on natural gas or propane. And they’re tied directly into your home’s fuel source. And they can power the entire house in seconds when the power goes out.
Now, these guys use an automatic transfer switch, which monitors your utility power. And when it goes out, that automatic transfer switch turns on the generator automatically, whether you are home or not. And then it will automatically turn off the generator when the power is restored.
I mean the other day – actually, a few weeks ago when we had, really, the first snowstorm on the East Coast for us, I’m telling you hours before the snowstorm was even coming my power went off and on, off and on, off and on probably four times that morning. And I’m like, “It’s not even snowing yet.”
But we never missed a beat and that’s the benefit of having the whole-house generator. You don’t need to think about it. It’s safer. You’re not storing any fuel. You don’t have to run extension cords. And it’s good for outages even when you’re not home and you’re not able to hook up a portable unit.
Now, the downsides with the whole-home generators are they can be expensive. You might not be able to recoup your investment if you sell your home. Although, personally, I think it’s an excellent selling feature.
TOM: Oh, absolutely. I definitely think it is. We’re seeing more and more homes that have them. And it’s interesting. You know, when you go to, say, sport games – like when my kids were playing high-school sports and all the parents that were hanging out watching the games, watching practice – the conversations that people have right after a storm, I cannot tell you how many times – and I wasn’t bringing this up but I’m just listening how many people were talking about buying a whole-house generator. It’s like they didn’t think about it until they were out of power for a few days. Then all of a sudden, it becomes a priority.
So, don’t let that happen to you. It’s a really good investment. The prices have come down and it’s just a smart thing to do.
LESLIE: We’ve got Cindy in Michigan on the line who wants to talk about reducing energy costs. How can we help you?
CINDY: Is there a way to lower your electric bills by generating your own electricity? I’ve heard of solar panels and windmills and seems like they cost a lot of money to get them going. And I’m wondering, is it actually feasible, financially, to do something like that?
TOM: Yeah. Well, first of all, the most effective way to cut those energy costs – and especially if we’re talking about heating and cooling energy – is to improve the energy efficiency of your home. And the single most important way or easiest way to do that is by improving insulation. It’s amazing how many people simply don’t have enough insulation. And in a state like Michigan, you’re certainly going to want to have 15 to 20 inches of insulation in your attic.
Now, as to your question about generating your own power, there are some programs that are run by state governments and by utility suppliers that include different sorts of rebates and different sorts of purchase – I don’t want to say schemes but sort of plans for getting that equipment to your house.
So, for example, in my part of the country, they have offers where you don’t actually pay for the initial installation there. You partner with an energy company that does the installation of solar panels. And then, as it generates energy, you get to keep some of that and some of that goes back to the utility company and eventually, it pays off the cost of that installation. So I would investigate solar programs in your area and rebates that might be available. Start with the utility companies and go from there.
Because if there’s a favorable program, that’s the only way it makes them cost-effective. You are correct in that a lot of these things are very expensive and don’t make a lot of economic sense. But if there’s rebate money available – either locally, at the state level or federally – it does make sense.
CINDY: OK. So you would just call your energy company then?
TOM: I would start there, with your utility company, or simply do some research online for rebates that are available in your area. OK, Cindy?
CINDY: Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project.
If you’re thinking about taking on a home improvement or a décor project or maybe you need some remodeling advice, whether it’s a project you’re doing now or you’re thinking about for the warmer months ahead, now would be an excellent time to reach out to us with that question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because we are also giving away, to one listener drawn at random, a great product this hour.
It’s the Greenworks 60-Volt Cordless Mower. No gas, no oil required. Push-button start. No cords to pull. It’s got a brushless motor that’s really powerful and it will cut through the toughest grass.
You’ll get about 60 minutes of run time on the battery. And what’s cool about the battery, the technology includes a battery that will automatically change over to a second battery when the power is getting low. That is an industry first. There is no other mower on the market that does that. But Greenworks, they figured out how to make it happen. So, great time to pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you can also get great tips, ideas and solutions to your lawn-and-garden projects when you follow @GreenworksTools on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
TOM: That mower is worth 400 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again: 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Alex from Illinois on the line with a plumbing question. What can we do for you?
ALEX: I’ve got a septic issue. From the house to the tank, I think the line may be cracked in the middle of it. But the problem is my house is on a slab. And as far as I know, the pipes are in the slab.
TOM: What I would do is two things. First of all, you need to have a drain-camera inspection done to confirm what you’re dealing with. So, there is a drain camera that looks kind of like a snake. And it can go 50, 100, 200 feet in the line and can actually give you a pretty decent picture of what’s going on there.
And so, let’s assume that you confirm that somewhere under that slab, there’s a crack in the pipe. There’s a way to insert a liner into that pipe. It’s kind of like a fiberglass sock, if that makes sense, that gets inserted into the pipe and then filled up with water to kind of press it against the side and the water is released. And it basically kind of creates a pipe inside of a pipe and uses the old pipe as sort of the structure. But it will stop things from kind of permanently getting in there. Sometimes when you have a crack in a pipe, you get roots that form in there that will clog things up and that kind of stuff. Or you get a rough edge where waste gets trapped. So with this sort of fiberglass sock in there, that solves that.
So that’s the way you repair a pipe that goes under something critical, like your house or your driveway or around your pool or something of that nature. But those are the two things you need.
Now you’re going to have to do some work here to figure out where – what the company is best to work with on that. But I know that some of the big plumbing companies that do drain-cleaning will have this technology. But the first thing is figure out what you’re dealing with, determine if you’ve got a crack or not or maybe it’s something simpler to fix, OK?
ALEX: I appreciate it very much.
LESLIE: Well, if you keep telling your spouse or your significant other that you don’t have time to do anything around the house, we are calling your bluff. If you’ve got 30 minutes or sometimes even less, there are lots of improvements that you can make to your home.
TOM: That’s right. For example, if you’ve got a window that hasn’t opened since maybe Seinfeld was on primetime, it’s probably because it’s painted shut. So here’s how you free it up. You grab a putty knife and you break the paint seal.
Now, if it still won’t budge, I’m going to give you a little trick of the trade. You can take a block of wood on top of the lower window sash. That’s at the corner of the sash, where it’s right over the vertical piece. And then tap that wood with a hammer. You’re actually going to be sort of shutting the window. And the force is going to be pushing that window down. But that little bit of action, that rap with the hammer – one on one side of the sash and one on the other – actually breaks the paint free. And then the window will operate once again.
LESLIE: Now, here’s another one: exercise. You know it’s good for you but it turns out exercise is also good for your circuit breakers. About every six months, you want to turn each breaker off and then turn them back on. Then, every month you want to push the test button on the GFCI to make sure that it stays flexible and strong, just like you after a good workout.
TOM: You can also check for water leaks in less than 30. Here’s what you need to know. You turn off all running water and then check your water meter. If it’s moving, you’ve got a leak somewhere. You can also check your fixtures and your faucets for leaks.
In fact, if you want to check to see if you have a leak in your toilet, just put some food coloring in the toilet tank. If the bowl turns the same color as the food coloring, then you’ve got a leak in the flush valve. And that’s something you want to fix quickly, because it can actually run up quite a water bill over the course of a year.
So, you see, look, it doesn’t take a long time to do these little home improvement projects or maintenance tasks. You’ve just got to be motivated to get it done.
LESLIE: Alright. And remember, always post your questions at MoneyPit.com or on The Money Pit’s Facebook page. Post your questions. We’ll jump into some of those now. And I’ve got one from Terry who writes: “Our bedroom carpet has had some cat accidents. I’m about to replace the carpeting but is there a stain or odor sealant that I can put over the underfloor to eliminate many old odors? Or do I have to replace that complete underflooring?”
I guess she’s talking about the subfloor here.
TOM: Yeah, I think so. And Terry, you do not have to remove that flooring, fortunately. What I would do is get rid of the carpet and the padding, of course, and then I would vacuum that subfloor. And make sure you get into the seams of the plywood subfloor, because you get a little dust and dirt that gets down there and that can hold some of the odor, as well.
Now, once you’ve got it really clean and dry, what I would do is I would use a primer. Let’s think. Zinsser makes one that actually is an odor-killing primer, specifically made for situations like this. And if you paint that subfloor a couple of coats with this odor-killing primer, you will seal in any stains that have gotten into that floor and you will deal – you will kill those odors. And you’ll be able to carpet right back over that without having to do any further work on that floor. So just look for the Zinsser Odor-Killing Primer.
LESLIE: Alright. Next, we’ve got a question here from Blake in Colorado. Now, Blake writes: “I found a nest of baby squirrels living just inside my attic. I hear them when I’m inside the house. Do you have any advice on getting rid of them? I don’t want to hurt them.”
TOM: They’re so cute when they’re babies.
LESLIE: They are so cute.
TOM: But when they grow up, they can do plenty of damage to your home.
LESLIE: And they’re not so friendly.
TOM: And they’re not so friendly.
TOM: So you do want to remove those unwanted squirrels. And of course, we do want to do so as humane as possible. So what I would do is I would use a live trap, like a Havahart trap. That’s a cage with a trap door and they go in. Usually, you bait it with some food, then the trap door shuts. And then, of course, you need to pick up that whole trap and you need to take it out to the wilderness somewhere and let that squirrel go free out there.
You will find that when you are moving that trap, the squirrels do get pretty freaked out. So I would cover it with a blanket so it’s nice and dark. Keep them calm until you let them go. And when you open that trap, they will just bolt away as quickly as possible. They have no interest in doing a U-turn and hassling you.
The key, though, is to make sure that you bait it properly. You need to be careful about the bait because, otherwise, they can – they won’t get far enough to actually trip the pedal that actually closes the door.
So, what you want to do is maybe cover that bait area with some peanut butter so they really have to go back in there to get to it. Or you know what else works good is peanuts, in the shell. That works well, too. But again, you have to put them in something where they have to basically get into the back of the cage – the far corner of the cage – so that we’re sure that they trap – that they hit that pedal and actually force that door to close.
But that’s a great way to do it. I think Havahart traps are fantastic. I’ve used them for many, many years.
LESLIE: Yeah, good point. And this way, you know, you get them, you bring them to another location. You hope they don’t remember that you have really awesome things in your attic and want to come back and hang out with you again. But you’re on the right track to getting those little guys out.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. Remember, you can grab The Money Pit podcast on all the major podcast platforms, as well as listen on radio. And if you have questions, we’d love to get back to you with an answer. So call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
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.)
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