In this episode…
Wouldn’t it be nice if your house could tell you when it’s about to break down – BEFORE it actually breaks down? Well, that technology exists today! It’s called predictive maintenance and is sort of like a check engine light for your car! Tom & Leslie tell you all about it – plus
- Nothing says Spring like throwing open the windows and breathing some fresh Spring air! But if your screens are filthy, you just might be sucking in something not quite so fresh! We’ll share a formula for quick and easy screen cleaning just ahead!
- Battery powered tools are more popular than ever, but can they really compete when it comes to lawn & garden tools like mowers and chainsaws? We’ll dig in to the answer.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, installing marble countertops, replace water softener line, cleaning adhesive off concrete, installing a vapor barrier, adding insulation to ceiling in addition.
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: We are here to help you with your home improvement and décor projects. And guess what? It is officially the start of the spring home improvement season, the big season of the year when we all feel refreshed and energized to take on all sorts of things inside and outside your house.
So if you’re throwing open the windows and then maybe just choking on all of the allergens that are coming in, we can help you with that. Or maybe you’re just deciding that the outside of your house just does not look as lovely as the landscaping. Maybe you want to fix that up. Maybe you want to spruce up, build a deck, build a patio. Maybe you want to tackle a new room makeover.
Hey, whatever is on that to-do list, give us a call. We’d love to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can call that number, 24/7. If we are not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are. Plus, you can post your question anytime at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, nothing says spring like throwing open those windows and breathing in that fresh spring air. But if your screens are filthy, you might just be sucking in something not quite so fresh. So we’re going to share a formula for quick and easy screen cleaning, just ahead.
LESLIE: And whether you consider yourself a do-it-yourselfer or one that loves to go pro when taking on your home improvements, thanks to these rapid advancements in home automation, our homes are doing a lot more for us these days. We’re going to share some tips on how to use this technology to improve your comfort and energy savings.
TOM: And also ahead, battery-powered tools are more popular than ever. But can they really compete when it comes to lawn-and-garden tools, like mowers and chainsaws? We’ll dig in, just ahead.
LESLIE: And speaking of working outside, we’re going to fill your garden shed with some new tools this hour, because we’re giving away some great tools from Centurion. We’ve got their Premium Bypass Pruner and Anvil Lopper. They’re so durable that they’re going to be super helpful this spring and for many springs to come.
TOM: Those tools are worth over 50 bucks but going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, with your home improvement or décor question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your questions on MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s up first?
LESLIE: Bill in Texas is on the line and looking for some help with a marble countertop. What’s going on at your money pit?
BILL: We built the house in ‘87 and moved in. And since then, several of our bathroom countertop sinks – they’re a one-piece deal that were made out of what was termed “manmade marble.” So I’m sure it’s a plastic base but only about an inch thick. And they, over the years, have been cleaned improperly with some abrasive cleaners and I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do to address the scratches.
TOM: So, that sounds like some sort of a composite and it probably has a surface glaze on it. And my concern is that the glaze is worn. And you try to do any sort of polishing of that, you may end up getting into the substrate.
And I’ve seen what that substrate looks like, because there was a time when I used to actually build kitchen cabinets and build vanity cabinets. And sometimes, folks would order those premade, one-piece composite sinks and we’ve had to cut them. And that surface glaze is not very thick. So if the damage to the surface – I don’t think there’s anything that you could do to clean it, so to speak, that’s going to pull that out. It’s really a replacement situation.
If it was truly marble, then you could polish it out and get below what you’re seeing, in terms of the stains and the scratches. But if it’s a composite marble, like what you’re describing, I don’t think you’re going to be able to restore that surface.
The good news is that those tops – those cast tops – are really not that expensive. You may want to just take a look at replacing it. I mean I think they’re less than 100 bucks, generally speaking.
LESLIE: It depends on the size of the vanity. But I just did a 60-inch, double-sink top that was one thing with the molded sinks and it was like $189.
TOM: Yeah, so not a lot of money for the – to replace those countertops.
BILL: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bill. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ellie in Florida, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ELLIE: Yes. I just recently moved to Florida and the house I bought, the water softener is broken because – I believe it’s because they had it outside the home. Every other house in my community has them in the garage. And mine, they – for some reason, the water line is on the opposite side of the house, in the garage. So, it would be a – I believe it would be a major thing to have the water line brought from one side of the house to the other so I could have it inside.
And Sears tells me that I can have it put outside but you have to have some kind of protective covering. Lowe’s tells me that they don’t sell any that go outdoors. And a private plumbing company is telling me that they have one that – to put outside, specifically. And other people are saying you don’t even need one, to go – don’t even bother the expense. So, I don’t know what to do.
TOM: So, first of all, the question is: do you need a water softener or not?
ELLIE: Right. I’ve looked online and I see the pros and cons.
TOM: Right. Well, if you – if you’re accustomed to a water softener and you eliminate it, you may find that you don’t like that experience. You certainly could bypass the water softener just to see if you like the water.
Is the water city water?
ELLIE: Well, it’s not well water. So does that mean it is city water? I don’t know.
TOM: Yeah, it’s city water. If it’s city water, you probably do not need a water softener.
ELLIE: Well, I was – I think no. I don’t think it is city water because people in Ocala, I think they told me that they don’t need it; they have city water. I could be wrong; I’m not sure. But everybody in this development says you need it.
TOM: Ellie, the first thing you want to do is figure out if you’ve got city water. If you do, it’s going to be treated. If you’ve got well water, then you do need, probably, a water conditioner, as well as to have the water tested to make sure that it’s safe. And that’s something that should be done on an occasional basis.
Now, in terms of the enclosures, given the fact that you’re in Florida, we’re not concerned about freezing pipes. I wouldn’t be too concerned about putting it outside. I would want to have it enclosed. Now, how do you do that? Well, you either use one that’s rated to be outside – and perhaps your – the water-treatment company – the plumbing company has one that has such a certification, that’s designed for interior or exterior use and that’s fine. And if not, you’re going to have to construct something or have something constructed or perhaps pick up a small shed or something of that nature where the equipment could be protected from the weather.
But I think the first thing you need to do is determine whether or not you need it and determine what kind of water supply you have. If it’s well water, get it tested. You can even have the hardness tested. You’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with. And if it’s city water, then I think you can try bypassing the system you have right now and see if you like it.
I hope that helps you out. Ellie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, now that it’s officially spring – spring happened this week. It was the 19th so, yeah, we’re into spring. So that’s awesome, which means we’re going to be into spring gardens, which is also awesome.
TOM: But that also means it’s a good excuse to buy new tools. Like I needed an excuse to buy new tools but …
LESLIE: You never need an excuse to buy new tools, Tom.
TOM: We’re going to give some tools away. Let’s just do that. We’ve got, from Centurion Brands, the Premium Bypass Pruner to give away. This is cool because it features a large-to-small grip. Basically, you have a little switch; you can flip it. If you’ve got a little hand, a big hand, you can make this very comfortable for you. And it can handle branches up to an inch thick.
They’ve got high-carbon steel blades, they stay sharper longer and they’re Teflon-coated, so they’re going to cut without sticking. And they’re throwing in the Anvil Lopper. So you’re going to have two premium tools to help with all of that spring, summer and fall yard work.
If you want to win it, you’ve got to call, right now, with your home improvement question. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and send out that package of Centurion tools, worth 50 bucks, to you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT .
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Doug in Virginia on the line who seems to have gotten something on a hardwood floor that perhaps should not have been there. What’s going on?
DOUG: Yeah. Basically, my wife and I are trying to restore a home that we purchased that was built in the 1950s. And we’re currently working on the kitchen. And what we found was the floors had tiles put down in the 50s and they used a thick, black, cutback adhesive, like an asphalt adhesive. And so we got the tiles up and we were working on getting that tar up and we used a product called Citrus King.
TOM: Yeah, it’s an adhesive remover, right?
DOUG: Right, right. And it worked really, really good. It brought the tar right up but in the process, it made the wood wet. We put it down, we got it up as fast as we could but it did make it a little bit wet.
Our flooring finisher, he was – the original idea, we were going to use Monocoat to finish the floors, which is like a natural wood finish and an oil finish. And when he realized we had used the product to strip the floors, he felt that that product wasn’t going to work – the Monocoat wouldn’t work for a floor finish. And so, our Plan B was just a stain and a poly finish. And he felt that the floor being – having moisture in it, that the poly wouldn’t stick.
TOM: Well, look, if it has moisture in it, the moisture’s not going to be in it permanently; it’s going to evaporate out of it. Has the floor been sanded since the adhesive was pulled up?
DOUG: Yeah, I sanded it over this past weekend.
TOM: OK. And it looks good now? I mean it looks like a clean, dry, sanded hardwood floor?
DOUG: Yeah, it looks pretty good. It’s not – it doesn’t look brand new but we kind of like it. It has kind of a weathered look to it, so we like it.
TOM: Well, it sounds to me like this guy doesn’t really want to do it anyway, if he’s trying to talk himself out of a job.
LESLIE: He’s looking for a way out.
TOM: Well, look, just because the floor got wet, as long as the floor was dried out – when did you actually do the adhesive-removal process?
DOUG: It’s probably been two weeks ago.
TOM: OK. And so – and you got up all of the moisture that was there and now it seems to have dried out real well?
DOUG: Yeah. It feels dry. There for a little bit, you would see some dark spots on it and you could sand them away and they’d actually come back. And so I think the moisture was coming out of it. But I sanded it this past weekend and since then, it’s remained the same color and feels dry.
TOM: Yeah. I don’t see any reason you just can’t go right to the finish coat on this. I think he’s being a little overly cautious. He doesn’t want to be responsible or having to do it twice. I can understand that. But if there’s any concern, then try finishing a section inside of a closet first and see how it goes. But I don’t know why you need this guy to do the finishing. If you’ve done all the sanding work, applying the finish is the last step.
TOM: You know, you would apply it – if you’re using a polyurethane, you apply that with a lambswool applicator that looks a bit like sort of a sponge mop, except it has a lambswool pad on it. You pour the urethane into a regular painting tray and then you essentially mop it on.
Now, did you mention that you wanted to stain?
DOUG: Yeah, we’d like to stain first, yep.
TOM: So, then you have to stain first. Now, I will warn you that the stain – you could – if I was concerned about anything, it would be the rate of absorption of the stain. Because based on how much of that adhesive ended up getting into the hardwood floor, some areas may not accept the stain as well as others. So I would be careful about the stain and I would do that in an inconspicuous area first, just to make sure it’s going to go on as you expect it. But again, you could do that with a lambswool applicator, as well.
DOUG: Do you think that a preconditioner – I read about those. Do you think a preconditioner would help that?
TOM: Maybe. Maybe. But it really depends on the condition of that – preconditioners usually go on raw wood, not prefinished – not wood that’s already been finished which, essentially, this has because it had the adhesive on it.
Do you have some places in this floor layout where you could try it, like a closet?
DOUG: Yeah, maybe. Well, it’s just the kitchen, so maybe a little bit under where the cabinets will be installed. Possibly there.
TOM: Yeah, I would just try that and see how it – just put it on carefully and see if it seems to be absorbing evenly. That’s my only concern, especially if you’re going darker. Because if you get a section where there’s still adhesive, it’s not going to absorb and it’ll – you’ll end up having sort of blotches.
DOUG: And the poly, you feel pretty confident the poly should stick OK, then, too?
TOM: Yes, I do feel pretty confident. If you sanded it and you got down to sawdust, I think the poly should stick fine.
DOUG: Alright, great.
TOM: Alright? You use – make sure you use the solvent-based polyurethane, not the latex-based, not the water-based.
DOUG: Alright. Well, thank you for your help.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, nothing says spring like throwing open those windows and breathing in some fresh spring air. But if the screens are filthy, you just might be sucking in something else not quite so fresh. So, here’s what you need to know to get those screens scrubbed clean.
LESLIE: First of all, you’ve got to remove the screens from the window frames. So you don’t want to just do it while they’re on the house, because chances are you could damage the screens that way. So, take the screens out and lay the screens on a flat surface. You can use your driveway and then use a mild soap and water mixture with a soft bristle brush. And that’s going to remove all that dirt and grime. You want to make sure you clean both sides of that window screen and around the inside and the outside of the frames.
TOM: Next, use a hose to rinse off the screens and then just lay them in the sun to dry. Now, if you are tempted to use a pressure washer because it’s just a fun tool to use, don’t use it on the screens. The force of the water is way too much. It will destroy those screens in a second.
LESLIE: And guys, I know most of us leave our window screens in the frames, in the house, all year long. But it’s actually a better idea to take them out during the winter months and store them. They’re just going to last longer, they’ll see less damage. So, think about doing that next winter season.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. If you’ve got a question, now’s a great time to call. That number is 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: We’ve got Randy in Florida on the line who’s got a dehumidification question. What can we do for you?
RANDY: Our house is off-grade and the crawlspace area has ventilation all around the house. And we wanted to see about encapsulating it with the vapor-barrier plastic. And with being in Florida, I was just a little worried about humidity and possibly wanting to insulate it and see what you all’s opinion was.
TOM: Well, I do think it’s a good idea for you to add a vapor barrier. That will help reduce the amount of humidity that gets into the space above the floor. And that can make the home more efficient and certainly more comfortable.
What you might also want to think about doing is adding an exhaust fan. They have fans that are basically the size of a concrete block or a foundation vent. And you could put fans on one side of the foundation and have vents open out in the other side. Then have those fans operate on a humidistat so that whenever the humidity gets really damp in that crawlspace, the fan can kick on and pull some drier air from outside across that – essentially that crawlspace floor, pulling the moisture out with it. So those two things can help you manage moisture.
On the outside of the house, you also want to make sure that if you’ve got gutters – you should have gutters on the home and that there’s downspouts that extend away from that foundation. Because when you dump the additional water that collects on your roof right against the foundation, that definitely improves – increases the humidity that’s in that space.
So all of those things working together can keep it a lot drier.
RANDY: OK. So, would you be extending that vapor barrier up the walls of the crawlspace or would that interfere with that ventilation unit that you’re sticking up?
TOM: Well, you don’t want to block off the vents but yeah, I would extend it up the wall, if you could extend to 12 inches or so, just to make sure it’s sealed well.
RANDY: OK. And then would you add a dehumidifier down there or would that, essentially, be what the ventilation unit you’re talking about would do?
TOM: That’s kind of what the ventilation would do. I would not add a dehumidifier into that space. It’s not really designed for an unconditioned space like that. Dehumidifiers are not really designed for that.
RANDY: OK. And then so that would keep the humidity low enough that we could then put the batted insulation between the floor joists?
TOM: Yeah, it will keep it – it will make it lower. It’ll make it reasonably lower. It’s never going to be 100-percent dry; it’s always going to be damp. But I do think, yes, that will keep the moisture down, which is what you want to do and allow you to get more efficiency out of the insulation.
RANDY: OK. Alright. Great. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Randy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, whether you consider yourself a do-it-yourselfer, or one that loves to go pro when you’re taking on home improvements, the fact of the matter is that thanks to the rapid advancements in home automation, our homes are doing a lot more for us these days.
TOM: Well that’s right. And with us to talk about that is Dan DiClerico. Dan is the home expert and smart-home strategist for HomeAdvisor.
DAN: Hey, it’s great to be here, guys.
TOM: You know, I remember back when we first started seeing home automation hit the residential market but those systems were really expensive. They usually required kind of major rewiring of your home, because you had to run Cat 5 wire from mission control to every single device. And finally, you had to pretty much bank that that system that you invested all that money in was going to be around for a while, because otherwise it wasn’t interconnected with other smart-home products. You were all in for that one brand, that one manufacturer. Fortunately, all that has changed today, right?
DAN: Yeah. Listen, I mean for 30 years, exactly right. Home automation has been a niche high-end category. It’s really in the last five years that it’s made a pretty steady migration into the mainstream, giving all sorts of opportunities for homeowners to really realize the many use cases here, the many benefits of this technology.
LESLIE: Do you think that it’s just because you’re finding a different generation of people, who are much more comfortable with this technology, looking to adopt that?
DAN: Oh, absolutely. I think demographics is a big driving factor. Millennials, first generation of digital natives to be owning and maintaining homes. They’re used to controlling their lives from their smartphone. Very much the expectation that they’ll be able to do the same thing with their home. So that’s a big part of it.
Listen, I think Alexa – I think voice control, these smart speakers have really put smart-home technology front and center in the mind of the American like really nothing before.
TOM: I just got my first car that has Apple CarPlay in it and I’m loving it. I can’t – I don’t know why I waited so long but it’s just so cool. Everything you can do with your voice today and do safely and efficiently.
And in your home, really, the sky is the limit thanks to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology. No longer do you need any kind of wiring or central monitoring system. You can pretty much grow your smart-home product collection one item at a time. You can solve one problem at a time. If you want a smart garage-door opener or if you want a smart shade, whatever you want you can just get that one thing and just go for it.
DAN: Yeah, manufacturers have made it very easy now. Listen, going with the high-end integrate or going for that full, whole-house solution is going to be a better experience. It’s at a point where you can do it yourself and you can start to realize many of the benefits.
LESLIE: And I think it’s great because so many of these items, like you’re saying, are plug-and-play. “Oh, look, I want this? Boom. Done.” Totally automated. It’s so easy to use.
TOM: So where do you think the technology is going to go from here? What kinds of products in the home do you think will become smart, that we’re not seeing with that technology and – or maybe you’re going to see big advancements with?
DAN: It’s really the – still tip of the iceberg, as much advancement as we have seen in the last few years. The sky’s the limit. For HomeAdvisor, from the sort of the maintenance perspective, this notion of predictive maintenance, you know, what we like to call the check-engine light for the home. So we’re going to see sensors positioned throughout the home.
We’re already seeing it with whole-house water-monitoring systems that give you the heads-up if there’s a leak somewhere in the home and even connect you right in with a home service professional who can come help you out. So that’s kind of the most exciting thing, from the maintenance perspective, as far as we’re concerned.
TOM: Very cool. Dan DiClerico, the home expert and smart-home strategist for HomeAdvisor.com.
Thank you, Dan, for being part of The Money Pit.
DAN: Thank you.
TOM: Well, it is officially spring and that makes it time to maybe think about starting those spring gardens. We’ve got two great tools we’re giving away to one listener drawn at random who may want to do just that. We’ve got Centurion Brands’ large-to-small grip Premium Bypass Pruners and an Anvil Lopper.
Those pruners are pretty cool, Leslie, because they’ll work for you and for me, right?
LESLIE: It’s really great. With just a flip of a switch, you sort of can adjust that comfort level, depending on if you’ve got the small grip or the big grip. So it’s a great tool just to have around for everyone to use for the yard and garden.
Plus, up for grabs, also, we’re throwing in the Anvil Loppers, so you can have two premium tools that’ll help you out this spring season and even into the summer and fall.
TOM: That package is worth 50 bucks. Going out to one listener drawn at random, so make that you. Here’s what you need to know. Post your question at MoneyPit.com or call us now with that question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Joyce in Massachusetts, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JOYCE: I have nine windows and we had someone caulk the windows where the window sills – because we live in Boston and the cold air has been blowing in. I want to know how I can seal them up, because it didn’t do one iota thing for the gentlemen caulking the nine windows.
TOM: Didn’t do any good, huh? And did he caulk them from the outside or from the inside?
JOYCE: From the inside, because this is an apartment building. And what – we’re on the seventh floor and we have windows going on different angles. And so I’m trying to find out what is the easiest way to prevent the cold from blowing in, because it’s unbearable.
TOM: OK. Since you’re on the seventh floor, I presume that you don’t use your windows – you would never use your windows for emergency egress. Do any of them go to a fire escape or anything like that?
JOYCE: No, no.
TOM: OK. So, there’s two things that you can do here, one of which is you can use a shrink film. It’s a clear, plastic wrap that you cut to fit the size of the window. You attach it with a double-face – clear double-face tape that comes with it. And then you use your hair dryer to heat it and it becomes very taut and clear so it doesn’t obstruct the view.
JOYCE: What about weather-stripping, like weather felt?
TOM: Well, that’s all possible but there’s another option. And the reason I asked you if you needed to use your windows for egress is because I was going to recommend temporary weather-stripping.
Now, there’s a caulk that’s like a weather-stripping sealant but it’s a temporary sealant, OK? So the way this works is you essentially caulk your windows shut. You caulk all the seams in the window, where they slide up and down, with this clear, temporary caulk. And then what happens is in the spring, you can actually grab the edge of this caulk and peel it right off. It comes off like a clear, rubbery strip. And it enables you to essentially seal your windows shut in the winter and then restore them in the spring.
JOYCE: Thank you very much. And I enjoy your program immensely.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, Leslie, we have just passed the first official day of spring. But you know how I knew for sure that spring had arrived?
TOM: My neighbor was out this morning with his gas-powered backpack blower at 8:00 a.m.
LESLIE: Wait, this is the same guy that’s always borrowing your tools, right?
TOM: Yeah. And I have a new one I’m going to be passing onto him, because I no longer actually have any gas-powered lawn equipment. I switched out everything to the Greenworks Cordless 60-volt line. These are powered by very pro-grade 60-volt lithium-ion batteries and they are just as powerful. They work just as well as the gas models but without the fumes, the stinky emissions or the noise that wakes up the neighbors at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.
LESLIE: I think this is your big plan, Tom.
LESLIE: You’re like, “I’ll just replace everything with quiet Greenworks tools so my neighbor, as he borrows them, stops waking everybody else up.”
And that new 60-volt line is sold exclusively at Lowe’s and includes a Greenworks 16-inch battery-powered string trimmer and handheld blower that delivers 610 cubic feet per minute of air power. They also have a 16-inch chainsaw and a 21-inch dual-port, self-propelled mower, which is really cool. Because when that first battery runs out, that second battery is going to automatically kick in, so never stopping working.
TOM: And you know what I love about that mower aside from not having to deal with a cord – a pull cord – to start it? It’s that because there’s no gas, because there’s no oil, it stores upright. And that takes a fraction of the space in my shed.
LESLIE: Yeah. And these tools are also lighter weight, they’re more compact, they take up way less space. Plus, they’ve got a lot of power for both DIY-ers and the pros. Greenworks is definitely here to change the game and they’re not done doing so yet.
TOM: You’ll find the entire 60-volt lineup sold exclusively at Lowe’s Home Improvement.
LESLIE: Now I’ve got Andy in New Jersey on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?
ANDY: I added on an addition – an enclosed porch – to the back of my rancher. It’s a 12×24 addition. And so, first, it was just a porch. And now, we’re enclosing it and trying to make it part of the house. So, the question I have was about insulating the ceiling. Because what it is – it has a gambreled (ph) roof on it. And it comes out of the house 14 feet to the back door and it’s 24 feet wide.
And then there’s an A-frame, OK, that goes on top. So I call it a “great gambreled (ph) roof.” I don’t know if I’m using the right terminology but – so the insulation in the ceiling on the two sides, OK, it’s like a vaulted ceiling, I guess you might say. See, the rafters are 2×8 and then they drop into the eaves. So, I’m not sure about the ventilation of the roof.
TOM: So that’s what we call a “cathedral ceiling.”
ANDY: Right. But it only comes up that far for about 8 feet.
TOM: Right. It’s like a partial cathedral, so part of it’s flat and part of it is cathedral. Is that correct?
ANDY: Yes. It comes up – yeah, it comes up right along the rafters of the ceiling for about 8 feet and then it cuts right across.
TOM: OK. So let me give you some suggestions.
So, first of all, unrelated to your question, you just mentioned that you built this addition on a porch. Does the porch have a proper foundation?
ANDY: Well, no, I’m sorry, we built the whole porch there as a porch.
TOM: Oh, it was all part of it. OK, fine. Because a lot of times, we see folks that take old porches and try to turn them into additions and they don’t have the right foundations. Because before we put money in this, we want to make sure you had a good foundation.
Now, in terms of insulating the cathedral section, the way you do that is if you have a 2×8 cathedral, roof-rafter kind of span, you can only put 5½ inches of insulation in that. You need to leave the balance of the space for ventilation, as you’ve mentioned. And you are going to need to make sure that you have ventilation at the peak and also towards the bottom of that.
Now, depending on how it’s configured and how it intersects with the lower slope or the flatter section, you need to figure out a way for air to move above that insulation and get up underneath between the insulation and the rafter and out.
Now, another way to do this is to not use fiberglass at all. What you could do is use spray-foam insulation – Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. I did this in my house. And in fact, I just got an assessment of how well the home was insulated compared – or how energy-efficient the home was compared to my neighborhood. And it went up to being in the top 19 percent of the neighborhood for insulation, which I thought was quite an accomplishment because my house was built 125 years ago. It’s not like we started with a house that was built in the year 2000. This is a 125-year-old house. It’s in the top 20 percent of the most insulated homes in the area because I used Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation.
And if you use the spray-foam insulation, you don’t need to ventilate. Basically, you’re changing that area from an unconditioned space to a conditioned space. You can spray up right against the underside of the roof sheathing and case the whole thing in foam and it’ll be far more insulated than you could ever get with the fiberglass. Because let’s face it: we like to see R-30, R-40 in terms of insulation ability. But all you can get is R-19 because you can only get 5½ inches of insulation in there.
ANDY: Alright. Thank you very much for your help.
TOM: Yep. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Remember, if you’ve got a question, you can always post it on Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, just like Caroline did.
Now, she writes: “I live in the home I grew up in and it’s in desperate need of repair. It’s around 60 years old and needs new wiring but I’m most worried that I will walk uphill a couple of inches every time I go into the kitchen. Would it be best to level the house before repairs are done?”
TOM: First of all, my advice, since you have so much concern about this house, would be to get sort of a baseline understanding of what its true structural condition is. I would hire a professional home inspector from the American Society of Home Inspectors, certified by that organization. They’re impartial; they’re not there to sell you any repairs. They’ll just figure out what’s going on.
But as for the order of repair, you want to level this floor but you want to do this in such a way that doesn’t destroy or damage the electrical wiring or the plumbing. You never really want to sort of try to lift the floor joist to do that in an old house. What you want to do is level it after the fact. And you can do that with floor-leveling compound, which is kind of like a slurry mix, like a lightweight concrete that is spread across the floor and self-levels. Or it could do with some carpentry work where you actually shim up sort of the upper sections of the floor.
But you don’t want to physically lift those joists, because you’ll stretch those wires. So I would do the electrical work first just to make sure you’re safe and then the floor work later. But just don’t move the structure so you don’t damage any of that work.
LESLIE: And then, Caroline, think about all the beautiful decorating work you can do once you finally get things in shape.
TOM: Well, spring is here, and that means homeowners across the country are going to start picking up their shovels for a variety of outdoor projects: planting trees, installing fences, building decks and more. But one phone call before you do any of that could save your life. Leslie has the details, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, this is always a surprising fact. Now, a recent survey found that more than half of homeowners who plan to dig any kind of project – digging project – had no plans to check on underground lines or pipes.
Now, digging without knowing the rough location of utility lines is always a gamble. Even if you end up being lucky enough to avoid serious injury, you could still end up disrupting service to your entire neighborhood and possibly be responsible for fines and all of those repair costs.
Now, damage to gas pipelines can cause devastating explosions. And every digging job requires a call. Even small projects, guys, like planting shrubs or hedges. Now, I’m not talking about little annuals that you’re going to plant, because that doesn’t ever get deep enough. But if you’re planting a big bush or a new tree, you do have to go fairly deep into the ground and you could come in contact with any of these lines. So you do need to make that call.
Now, you can call 811 from anywhere in the country. And you do this just a few days before you plan to dig. And your call is going to be routed to your local, one-call center. Tell the operator what you’re planning to do, where you’re planning to dig, what type of work. And your affected utility companies are going to be notified about those plans. In a few days, they’re going to send a locator to your house who’s going to mark the approximate location of your underground lines, pipes, cables. It’s all for free. There is no cost. This way you know exactly what’s going on below ground and you’ll be able to dig safely.
I mean you could save your life, you could save yourself a ton of money. So just be cautious, guys. Do the right thing. It’s a simple phone call.
TOM: And you could save yourself the embarrassment of having to explain to your wife why you pierced the main waterline and she has no water for the week.
LESLIE: No, seriously, that would be super bad.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. Coming up next time on the program, now that the weather is warming up, it’s time to get out on your deck and enjoy the season. But before you do just that, it’s a good idea to give it a safety check. So we’re going to tell you the five things to look for to make sure your deck is good to go, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
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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