In this episode…
If you’re looking for a good place to start your Spring cleaning, windows can be just that. Tom & Leslie share tips on a streak free cleaner you can mix yourself. Plus:
- If you’re planning on hiring a pro to help get a project done, there’s one extra thing you might want to check before pressing go: making sure you’re not liable if a worker gets hurt at your home! We’ll share how to check that your contractor has the right insurance.
- Have you noticed that your home seems to trip circuits breakers or fuses more than usual? This might mean it’s time to upgrade your circuit or maybe the entire panel. We’ll share how to know if it’s time for a power upgrade.
- Laminate flooring is a great, budget friendly option to hardwood. But floor installation is key for a clean look. Get tips to make sure the new floor stays new as long as possible!
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 what are you working on this weekend? If it’s your house, you’re in exactly the right place because we are, too. But most importantly, we’re here to help you with your projects. So pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or you can post your questions on MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’re planning on hiring a pro to get some help with a project you want to do, there is one little thing you might want to check before pressing go. And that is: what happens if a worker gets hurt while working at your home? We’re going to have some important tips to make sure you’re protected, just ahead.
LESLIE: And also ahead, are you noticing that your home seems to trip circuit breakers or fuses more than usual? Well, that might mean that it’s time to upgrade your circuit or perhaps even the entire panel. We’re going to share how to know that it’s time for a power upgrade in your home, in just a bit.
TOM: And if you’re looking for a good place to start on your spring cleaning, windows can be just that. We’ll share tips on a streak-free cleaner you can mix up yourself.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you are working on this spring season. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit, how you are getting ready for the spring and summer and what plans you’re taking to make your house in tip-top shape for all of this beautiful weather that’s knocking on our door.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with those questions. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Lots of folks getting excited with projects, Leslie. Who’s first?
LESLIE: Eva in Florida is on the line and has a cooling question. How can we help you today?
EVA: My home is 40 years old and I’ve been in it from the time it was built. I’ve had two change-outs on the air-conditioning unit.
TOM: That’s about right.
EVA: It’s a central air-conditioning unit. And every time these guys come in – I have one guy come in once every six or eight months to check the cooling or the heating unit to make sure everything is up to snuff. And every time they come in, they say, “Well, you ought to update your thermostat.” And I’ve had them tell me three or four times that I need to replace my thermostat.
Well, I had a friend of mine who tells me – he says, “Well” – he said, “Basically, all your thermostat does – heat, cool and shut off.”
TOM: So, I think what – have they mentioned to you that you might want to install a clock-setback thermostat, Eva?
EVA: Well, they just said thermostats; they didn’t tell me any particular kind.
TOM: I’m betting that you have a very simple thermostat, which is heating and cooling and you just set it and forget it, right?
EVA: That’s correct.
TOM: So what they might be suggesting is that you replace the old thermostat with an updated one that has a clock setback built into that. And how that can help you – and it helps you more in the cooling – in the winter season, which you don’t get a lot of down in Pensacola. But when it gets chillier, you can set the heat to be a certain temperature at the day and then another temperature at night, so you don’t waste heat at night when you’re tucked nice and warm and cozy under the comfort of the blankets.
EVA: Yeah. But I just leave my thermostat at one – at 70 degrees at night. I don’t change it.
TOM: Well, if you just leave it and you don’t change it, then you might be fine with that 40-year-old thermostat. If you want the technology and the energy savings of a thermostat that can go up and down, based on a clock, then you would go to a clock setback. But there’s nothing wrong with leaving the one you have if it’s working properly for you.
EVA: And is it – either way, I’m going to use the same amount financially?
LESLIE: If you’re truly just leaving it exactly where it is?
EVA: Yeah. But when I get up in the morning, I have to turn it on so that it comes back up to warm up the house.
LESLIE: Correct. If you’ve got a clock-setback thermostat or a programmable thermostat, you can enter in your usage. So you can say, “OK, at 7:00 in the morning or 6:00 in the morning” – whatever time, maybe a half-an-hour or so before, you know, you’re going to get up – “set it to such-and-such temperature.” And then you can say, “OK. And then at this time, when I go to bed, drop it down to this temperature.” This way, you never even have to go over to the thermostat. You can just say, “Bloop” and it’ll do that program for the day, so you don’t have to do anything at all.
Then, say, you’re going on vacation or you’re out of town, you can have an “away” setting and set it to that so that you’ve got it, obviously, at much lower temperatures and it’s not running that program while you’re not there, wasting that energy and your dollars.
So it depends. If you want to sort of take yourself out of the equation and have your thermostat do its thing on its own, a programmable thermostat really is what you’re looking for.
EVA: Yeah, OK. Well, thank you very much, dear.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Washington is on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you today?
BOB: I’m looking at putting a roof on the home and in the Yellow Page ads, there’s – one advertises against the other. There’s two; they’re larger contractors here. And one suggests that he’s better by using a hand-nailed technique versus the air-mechanical. And I’d like your thoughts on that.
TOM: Well, I think it makes no difference whether the roofing product is nailed by hand or nailed with an air gun. Both are completely acceptable ways to fasten roofing products to the house.
I think what makes the difference between one pro or the other is really their workmanship. So I would not be confused by competing claims of how a roof is nailed. I can see somebody using that as – it’s kind of like hand-cut, hand-finished, hand-nailed. You have this sort of vision of something that’s quality in craftsmanship involvement, right? But I really don’t think it makes a difference.
But what makes all the difference when hiring a roofer is the quality of that work and how well the roof is put together, especially when it comes to those intersections that have to be flashed. So, if all else looks good with these two roofers, I would do a deeper dive on their references and perhaps check online sites like ServiceMagic or Angie’s List, sites like that, to just double-check what their reputations are, talk to past customers.
Last time I had to hire a contractor that I did not know, I did get a list of references. And I’ve got to say, I think the contractor was quite shocked when I actually called these folks. So get their references and call them and you’ll find people are generally very willing to talk to you about their experience with the contractor. So, I think that’s the best way to proceed. Workmanship makes all the difference when it comes to hiring a roofer.
BOB: On the roofing material, up in the Northwest where I am now, would – is there – and I’m looking at a conventional, three-tab, asphalt-type composition roof. Is there a better grade of material or something that I should be looking for? As you can tell, this is a first-time roof for me, so …
TOM: Are you in a high-wind area?
BOB: We do get quite a bit of wind up where I’m at, up – kind of up on a hill.
TOM: I would consider the wind-resistance but a product like an Owens Corning shingle is excellent. But I would definitely consider the wind-resistance and buy a product that’s weighted for – that’s rated for wind. Some of those – I know some of those OC shingles are rated for over 100 miles an hour.
LESLIE: I think it’s even up to 150.
TOM: Yeah. The good news is the roof will be there; the house, not so much.
BOB: Well, thank you so much. That’s been enlightening to me to hear what you have to say.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carol in Mississippi, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
CAROL: I have a floor that’s sinking in the hallway and the kitchen and I was just trying to find out what’s the best way to repair that and what type of wood should it be repaired with.
TOM: So do you have any idea, Carol, as to what’s causing the floor to sink?
CAROL: I don’t know if it’s the foundation. I don’t know if it’s the foundation, because it’s in Mississippi and there’s lots of moisture there. And for some reason, the homes there really look rundown and stuff. And I always – and I did researching just because it’s so moist there. But the house is really, really old, so I have no idea what’s causing it.
TOM: Is the floor a wood floor?
CAROL: Yes, it is.
TOM: And is it over a crawlspace?
CAROL: No, it’s not over a crawlspace.
TOM: Is it over a basement?
CAROL: No, it’s not over a basement. It’s on the foundation part of it.
TOM: Yeah. OK. Look, there’s only really three types of floor structures. You’re either going to have – your house is going to be built on a slab, which means it’s on concrete or it’s going to be on a wood-framed floor, which is either going to be over a crawlspace or over a basement. I’m trying to figure out what kind of floor structure you have.
CAROL: OK. It’s up off the ground a little bit.
TOM: That’s a crawlspace. So what has to happen, Carol, is somebody has to go into the crawl and get under that area and look up and see what’s going on. If you have a lot of moisture, you could have some rotted beams there. And if that’s the case, they have to be repaired. That can’t – well, it’s very difficult to do that from the top side; you would do that from the bottom side. And then once you know what the cause of the sagging is, then you’ll know how to approach it.
But let’s say that you’ve found there was a beam that was decayed. Well, what would happen in that case is you would put a new beam next to it. So if one bad floor joist, you’d put another one next to it, maybe even one next to that so you’d kind of sandwich the bad beam in between the two good beams. And that would straighten that out.
Once the structure is repaired, then you can go in from the top side and repair any remaining decay, like if it was the wood – plywood – subfloor or something of that nature. But you’ve got to start with the structure, which is what’s underneath there, to figure out why this sag has occurred and why this area has sunken in. And once that’s re-supported, then you can move to the top side.
Does that make sense?
CAROL: Makes a lot of sense. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Carol. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Billy in Texas is on the line with some deck-building questions. What can we do for you today?
BILLY: My question is what wood should I build it out of to last longer: redwood, the treated timber or – I don’t know. I’ve had buddies tell me I needed to go with the Louisiana wood that they …
TOM: Yeah. Your options are treated wood, a decay- or disease-resistant wood like redwood or cedar or a composite. You wouldn’t use untreated wood because it would rot quickly.
But here’s the thing: if you like real natural-looking wood, then there’s no reason not to use treated wood. If you want to step it up a little bit, you could use redwood or cedar. It’s going to be an expensive upgrade. But no matter what kind of wood you use, you will have to treat it. Because even if you use redwood or cedar, if you don’t put a seal or a stain on there, it’s going to fade because of the sun and it’s going to splinter and break down and crack. So if you’re going to go with wood, you’re going to have to use a solid-color stain on there to make sure it’s preserved.
Now, the other option – which you didn’t mention – is composite. And if you go with composite decking, then there’s really almost no maintenance that you have to do to it. Sometimes it gets a little dirty and has to be scrubbed but it doesn’t crack, it doesn’t check, it doesn’t twist. It’s always comfortable under bare feet. It’s going to be a little more expensive but when you add up the cost of the wood and the maintenance and the stain and all of that, maybe …
LESLIE: And the physical cost of actually doing the maintenance.
TOM: That’s right. Maybe not so much.
So, those would be the pros and cons of going with wood versus composite. But if you want something that’s not going to have a lot of maintenance headaches and it’s going to last a long time, I would definitely go with composite.
Billy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, as you plan home improvement projects for the spring, you may be planning to hire some contractors to help. And that’s smart. You don’t want to get in over your head. But if that is the case, you’ve got to be sure they are properly insured. If not, you could end up footing the bill in the event of an accident or a renovation gone bad.
LESLIE: Yeah. In many areas of the U.S., contractors that work for themselves are not required by law to have liability insurance or even workman’s comp, which is why it’s important for you to get proof of that insurance before you start any home improvement project. And if you think you’re already covered by your own homeowners insurance, you might actually not be.
Now, homeowners insurance policies generally don’t cover incidents involving uninsured or unlicensed contractors.
TOM: Yeah, good point. And the other thing to be aware of is – and this kind of goes hand in hand – uninsured contractors also tend to be unfamiliar with the building codes and they’re usually not able or unwilling to apply for building permits. I mean let’s face it: if they’re not going to bother to get insurance, they sure are not going to bother to get permits. And if you do a project without the permits, you can be ordered to, basically, tear it down. And they don’t care if it’s a room addition; they’ll have you take it down or they’ll fine you a lot of money.
So, for all those reasons, just make sure you’re working with a real pro: one that has the proper insurance. So check that insurance before allowing them to start on your job.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nicole in Illinois on the line who needs to fix a crack in a wall. And you’re saying it’s from an earthquake? When did you have an earthquake in Illinois?
NICOLE: Well, it was just a really small earthquake. We get them just randomly, about one or two a year.
NICOLE: Because we’re right on – there’s some fault that’s down south of us.
TOM: And now that fault has worked its way up into your wall. So what does it look like? How big of a crack is this that we need to fix?
NICOLE: It’s about an 18-inch crack and then that’s going down from the ceiling. And then it goes like – it goes diagonally up the wall and then hits the ceiling and then just moves horizontally on the ceiling for a couple of inches.
TOM: So it’s 18 inches long altogether?
TOM: How old is the house?
NICOLE: It’s not very old, like ‘99.
TOM: OK. So it’s a drywall crack then.
TOM: Many people will simply spackle that but the problem is that if you spackle that crack, the wall is now always going to move – and walls always do move but now that the wall has a crack, the two sides of that are going to move at different rates. And so that crack will reform. The way you stop that from happening is by taping over that crack with drywall tape and then spackling it.
Now, taping with paper drywall tape can be a bit tricky, so there’s a product out that’s a perforated drywall tape that looks like a netting. It’s like a sticky-backed netting. And that type of perforated tape is the best one to use because you put the tape on first and then you spackle over it. You want to do two or three coats, starting with smaller coats and then working wider as you go.
And remember, the thinner the coat the better; I’d rather you put on more coats than put on too much spackle, which too many people tend to do. Then it kind of gets all gooped up and piled up on your wall and you’ll see it forever. So, thin coats – two or three thin coats – and that should do it.
NICOLE: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Nicole. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill in Hawaii has got a squeaky faucet.
Bill, tell us what’s going on.
BILL: When I turn a faucet on anywhere in the house or I flush a toilet, I hear – there’s a high-pitched whine. And it doesn’t seem to make any difference where and which faucet, whether it’s hot or cold or upstairs or downstairs. I get this quite high-pitched whine or high tone in the plumbing.
LESLIE: Does it go away after it’s been running awhile or does it stay on?
BILL: No. As long as I have a faucet on, it continues.
Now, I went on the internet and one of the suggestions was that there was a pressure regulator on the input water to the house. So, a month ago, I was pulling and adjusted that one way and it got worse. So just yesterday, I went and turned it the other way and now it seems to get better. Now it just has a high-pitched whine when you turn it on or shut it off but not during. Is that a possible – something wrong there?
TOM: Yeah. I mean it’s probably the pressure regulator or even the main water valve. And the reason that you have such a loud noise is because plumbing makes a really good transmitter of sound, you know? So, if you get a little bit of noise down one end of it, it will transmit through the entire house. And the fact that this is consistent no matter where you are in the house and what you turn on means that it should be at the main, coming into the house, because that’s the only pipe that’s on all the time.
So, I think you’re onto something there with the pressure regulator. And I would consider having that replaced and/or the main valve replaced, because I think that’s where the sound is coming from, based on what you’ve just described.
BILL: Alright. Well, hey, very good. I appreciate it.
LESLIE: Hey, here’s a quick tip for you guys, especially now that it’s springtime and we’re looking to freshen up things around the house. Perhaps your bathroom is looking a little grimy and maybe the caulk around the tub isn’t looking so great and things are looking a little mildew-y and gross. Well, here’s a tip for you. What’s the first thing you do when you want to recaulk the tub?
TOM: Buy caulk?
LESLIE: No, no, no. Fill the tub, of course.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. You want to fill it with water and here’s why. Because, see, now once you have the old caulk cleaned out, you want to fill it with water before you recaulk. Because this way, when you recaulk the tub is sort of already pulled down, which is what happens when you stand in it to take your showers and such. And this way, when the caulk dries it comes back up. It compresses and it’ll last a lot longer.
So, there’s a quick caulking tip for you if that’s a project you’d like to tackle this weekend.
LESLIE: Laurel in Pennsylvania is dealing with some stinky drains at home. Tell us what’s going on.
LAUREL: My bathroom drain and the kitchen drain, they’re starting to smell like garbage. And nothing I put down there helps. Can you help me?
TOM: What have you tried to do in terms of cleaning them?
LAUREL: Like dishwashing liquid and real hot, sudsy water.
TOM: Laurel, the odor that you’re describing is most likely what we call “biogas” or “biofilm.”
TOM: Because of the moisture and the waste that gets into these lines, they form sort of a mass of biological material that sort of gels together and releases an awful odor, kind of like something that’s rotting. And there’s no way to kind of make it simpler than that but it’s really kind of a gross thing.
So, what you need to do is – just sort of rinsing it out with hot, soapy water is not going to do this. You’ve got to take the drain cover off, you’ve got to get into the drain with a bottle brush or something like that and scrub the inside of the pipe. And that will start to break down the biofilm and that should help eliminate the odor problem. It’s not just a matter of rinsing it out, because that’s kind of just feeding it. You literally have to abrade this gross stuff away to make it clean once again. OK?
LAUREL: Alright. And I really enjoy your program every week.
TOM: Thanks so much, Laurel. Good luck with that project and call again.
LESLIE: Well, we’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of something when – poof – the lights go out. Now, it seems to happen at the worst possible time, too. And while it might be a nuisance, circuit breakers trip for a major safety reason.
TOM: Yeah. They’re basically designed to protect your home from an overload. If you have too many appliances running on the same circuit drawing too much power, this can cause the wiring to overheat. And without this protection, it can become a fire, so that’s why it’s really important.
And secondly, they also will protect you from a short circuit, like when an appliance breaks down. The breaker senses that and it will shut down the system, once again, to keep you guys safe.
LESLIE: Now, there is a fairly new type of circuit breaker that can help prevent fires and that’s called an “arc-fault circuit interrupter.” And how do those work?
TOM: Well, they’re similar to the ground-fault circuit interrupters that perhaps you’re familiar with but basically, it takes it to the next level of protection. If you have any kind of a short, it creates an arc, right, like a little tiny lightning bolt? It’s going to sense that and it’s going to shut it down before it burns. So, it’s a super-sensitive way to make sure that you never have those little arcs form inside your electrical system, no matter where it is.
For example, I was doing some work in my basement and I was trying to figure out why my kitchen range was working perfectly when I pulled it out to clean it. But when I put it back in, it wasn’t working. Well, it turned out it had nothing to do with the outlet but farther down the line there was a junction box with a loose connection. And I’ll tell you, when I took it all apart, it was a little burned in there. So I think it was arcing and that’s the kind of thing that this would prevent from happening.
LESLIE: I mean that’s really so amazing. And while that’s a newer technology, I think a lot of us are more familiar with the idea of a GFCI and that’s a ground-fault circuit interrupter. But I don’t know that people really understand how they work and why they’re working.
TOM: Well, you know what they do? They’re kind of a monitor. They detect any diversion of current: 2/1000 of an amp of current towards a ground source. And if that happens it – bam – shuts off the power supply so that you don’t get a shock. Because any diversion of current to a ground could be you.
You make a great ground, you know? You human beings all full of water and stuff and standing in your bare feet in your ground outside or in your basement or your bathroom, wherever. You make a great ground source; we don’t want to ground wires to you. We want the circuit to go off and that’s what a ground fault does. And that’s why those are required in wet locations, which is outside, basements, garages, bathrooms and kitchens.
Now, you can find those, also, in the outlets or in the electrical panel themselves and the same with AFCIs. So those are great technologies now in new circuits to make sure that you are safe.
And back to our original question, though, Leslie. And that is: do you need a new panel? Well, if you know what a circuit breaker is, I would say yes. In terms of the size of the service, I think most people think they need more than they really do. An electrician can actually measure how much power you’re using, say, with everything on your house. And I think if you do that, you’ll find that you may, most of the time, have enough power in the house and therefore maybe just need to upgrade those breakers and some circuits rather than replace the whole panel.
LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Kenneth on the line to The Money Pit who’s got a flooring question. How can we help you today?
KENNETH: Hi. Well, I was going to ask you about – how do you fix squeaky floors on a second floor of a house that has rugs, without ripping up the rugs?
TOM: There’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, you need to understand what causes the squeak. And generally, it’s movement between the subfloor and the floor joist underneath.
TOM: So, to try to reduce the squeak or eliminate it – you mentioned that you’ve got rugs and you don’t want to take them up. I just want to tell you that, of course, the surefire way to stop these squeaks is to pull the rugs up and then to screw the subfloor to the floor joist using long, hardened-steel screws, which you drive in with a drill. You don’t want to do that, so I’m going to tell you a little trick of the trade on how you can fix some of the worst ones without doing that. And that is to locate the floor joist underneath the carpet.
Now, you need to do that kind of by trial and error. You can do that by tapping on the floor, you can do that with a stud finder. There’s a whole new line of Stanley stud sensors that work really well and they’ll penetrate through the carpet. You need to find that beam.
Once you find the beam, then what you do is you get yourself some 12-penny, galvanized finish nails. And I say galvanized and hot-dipped galvanized is the best. Those are the ones that are really sort of crusty on the outside. And you find that spot and you drive the nail straight through the carpet. Don’t let your wife see you do this, OK? Because she’ll get upset with you.
Straight through the carpet and then with the nail set, you punch that head right through the carpet. When you finish driving with the hammer, it’ll look like the carpet is dimpled. But if you take a nail set, you punch it through the surface of the carpet and sort of pull the carpet back up and rub it with your hands a couple of times and it’ll disappear; that divot will disappear.
What you’re doing is you’re securing that floor right above – right through the carpet without pulling the carpet up. Now, I wouldn’t want you to do this to the whole house but I’ve fixed this in lots of houses using two or three strategically-driven nails. And I find if you drive it at a slight angle, it works better because the nail holds better.
KENNETH: OK. Well, I noticed they had on the old This Old House the other day on TV, they showed you how to do it with the rugs, before I called you. And they use this O’Berry Enterprising kit, which is a drill bit that’s only got three threads on it that you drill down until you find your stud. Then they have 50 screws with little socket heads on them and you drill those down into the beam and then you have a little tool that breaks the head off. And it’s ingenious. The only thing is is that I can’t find the beams.
TOM: Yeah, you need a stud sensor. So that would be a worthwhile investment of a few dollars. Those stud sensors are $10 to $20, $25 for a real good one.
KENNETH: I will and I thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re looking for a good place to start your spring cleaning, cleaning your windows could actually be that good starting place. Now, the JAWS Window Cleaner is a product that can help. In fact, it’s the only window cleaner out of 17 tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute that was found to leave no streaks behind.
TOM: Yeah, JAWS stand for the Just Add Water System and it’s a streak-free cleaner that you mix yourself. The JAWS system combines reusable spray bottles with these refill pods that have very, very powerful concentrates in them. So when they’re mixed together with the water, the pods create a non-toxic cleaning product that’s very effective. It’s biodegradable and it allows you to clean those windows without any streaking or leaving residue.
And the best part is that when your spray bottle is empty, you just refill it with water and you reload it with another pod and you’re good to go.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? There are six products that are available, including the JAWS Glass Cleaner, a daily shower cleaner, a kitchen degreaser, floor cleaner, granite and natural-stone cleaner and JAWS Disinfectant Cleaner.
Now, you can purchase them individually or you can buy the JAWS Ultimate Cleaning Kit, which includes all six products, which will cover every hard surface in your house.
TOM: Yeah, with JAWS you get eco-friendly cleaning products that are going to save you money and reduce plastic in landfills. It’s really a win-win for you and the environment.
Their website is JAWSCleans.com. You can purchase your cleaners there at JAWSCleans.com. And if you enter the promo code MONEYPIT, you’ll save 25 percent. That’s JAWSCleans.com.
LESLIE: Now we’re talking to Pauline in New Jersey who needs some help with a countertop. How can we help you today?
PAULINE: I have a lot of counters in both bathrooms and the kitchen. And from the – I have backsplashes, as well. And where the backsplash and the counter meet, it’s coming up white and it looks like dry paste. And also, what’s happened over the last few years – at first, I took a little bit off here with my nail but now it’s getting really bad. And it’s – there were splash marks, as though when they put the counter in, they didn’t clean off the – so whatever they used. And it looks like you splashed something on that dried up.
And I don’t want to use anything that isn’t right for the granite and ruin it. So I was wondering if you had a suggestion that might be easy for me to use and get rid of this stuff.
TOM: How long have you had these countertops? When were they first installed?
PAULINE: Seven years ago.
TOM: And they’ve never been sealed since?
PAULINE: No, no.
TOM: Well, granite tops do take quite a bit of maintenance. People think that they’re fairly maintenance-free because they’re somewhat indestructive. But they really do need a lot of care and they need to be resealed from time to time.
And it sounds to me like the white stuff that you’re describing is most likely mineral salt. And what happens is the countertops, when they lose their seal, they absorb more moisture. Then the moisture evaporates off and it leaves behind the mineral-salt deposits that’s in the water. And that forms that white sort of crust; it’s like a grayish-white crust.
Now, what are you using to clean them on a daily basis?
PAULINE: Generally, just water and a little – they told me to use the Windex.
TOM: Yeah, you can make a homemade granite cleaner with rubbing alcohol – standard rubbing alcohol – mixed with maybe a half-a-dozen drops of dishwasher detergent.
PAULINE: Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You can always post your questions online at MoneyPit.com or through the Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, just like Richie did.
Now, Richie writes: “I have high-quality laminate floor throughout my living room and kitchen. I’ve installed it twice, yet it won’t stay locked. I had it inspected by the manufacturer and was told that the problem is due to the room being too cold and too humid and there’s nothing that they can do. What are my next steps?”
TOM: Sounds a little fishy, don’t you think?
LESLIE: I mean that does sound a little strange.
TOM: A room in the 60s, that’s not that cold, really, you know? If you’re not home – in my case if I’m not home I have my temperature turned down even in the winter, until 62 or 63. So, that doesn’t really make any sense. So, it seems more likely that this product is just not performing as it is intended.
Now, if you did put it down twice, Richie, it probably got a little looser and a little worse the second time. I have found that the locking seams are good for about one lock.
LESLIE: Yeah. And that’s about it.
TOM: And when you take them out and put them in again, sometimes they’re worn a little bit and they’re not quite as tight. But I will give you a suggestion that may help, because it seems like the manufacturer is not stepping up here with any new product, nor would it even make a difference if they did if the product wasn’t good to begin with. And that is: you can glue those so-called locking seams together.
I would use yellow carpenter’s glue. And you can put it in the seam, on the tongue and the groove. Then you can snap it together and let it dry. You can probably do the whole floor and just work one section to the next. Make sure you go back over those sections as they start to dry. The yellow carpenter’s glue gets to kind of a state where it’s sort of rubbery and that’s the right time to kind of lift it off. And you can take a plastic spackle knife – you don’t want to use a metal one, because you don’t want to scratch the floor – and lift it off. And then, if there’s any reside, just wipe it down with a damp cloth.
But that will absolutely lock those seams together. And short of the floor being very uneven underneath, I don’t imagine it will come apart. In fact, when laminate floors start – first came out, that was the only way you would assemble it, because it didn’t have a locking seam. Then even after it did having a locking seam, a lot of manufacturers will still tell you to do that if the product’s going down in a bathroom or a kitchen. So I think that that hopefully will solve your problem.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up we’ve got a question here from Chris. Now, Chris writes: “I recently insulated my garage and was looking to heat it to do a few projects and add heat to the rooms above. What are some good options for heating the garage? The doors are new, walls are R-30 and the ceilings are 35.”
TOM: OK. Well, that’s good because heating a garage is a little bit different than heating any other room in your house. They’re not built to be heated. So, the fact that you have gone ahead and insulated the walls and ceiling is excellent.
Now, heating your garage, though, is not the best way to get heat to the rooms above. That should be handled separately. In terms of the type of heater, you can have an electric heater, you can have a gas heater, you can have a kerosene heater. I personally, in my shop, which is a two-and-a-half car garage, I put in a kerosene heater. I think it was about 23,000 BTUs and it works perfectly. I didn’t want it to be too hot but it takes the edge off and keeps me quite comfortable.
You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. You can subscribe to The Money Pit Podcast at MoneyPit.com and also at Google Play or iTunes. We are so glad to be with you here on a beautiful spring weekend. At least it is here in our neck of the woods. We hope it is where you are.
And if you are thinking of taking on a home improvement project, we hope that this hour we’ve been able to give you some tips and ideas to get started. But if not, remember, you can reach out to us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT and we will call you back the next time we’re in the studio. But for now, that’s all the time we do have.
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.)