Re-tiling a bathroom is a great way to update the look, function and feel of this space. But if you want to make it last, it’s what goes UNDER the tile that counts. Tom & Leslie share what you need to know. Also…
- Now that it’s Spring cleaning season, the #1 tool you need to work and work well is your vacuum! If yours just doesn’t have the sucking power it used to – we share troubleshooting tips to get it back in action.
- Did you know that less than half of all households have the recommended number of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms? We’ll share an update on new detectors that include voice and location alerts for both smoke or carbon monoxide – designed to wake kids better than just alarms, and that have batteries which last for the life of the alarm!
- Foundation cracks can be a serious problem, but the repair can make it worse if it comes from a contractor instead of a design pro. We’ll walk you through the steps to assess a foundation crack and the steps need to make sure it gets fixed right and doesn’t impact your home’s value.
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? If it’s your house, your apartment, your home, you’re in exactly the right place because we are here to lend a hand with tips and advice to help you get the projects done around your space. Help yourself first, though: pick up the phone, call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to MoneyPit.com. Any time of the day or night, you can reach out to us. Whether you’re hearing this show by radio, by podcast, if we are not in the studio we’ll call you back the next time we are.
Well, coming up on today’s show, we’re going to talk about bathrooms, specifically retiling a bathroom. It is a great way to update the look and the function of the feel of that space. But if you want to make that tile last, it’s what goes under it that counts. And I’ve got to tell you, there’s an awful lot of homes out there that don’t do it right. The walls are essentially melting behind the tile, so we’re going to tell you what you need to know to get that project done right the first time.
LESLIE: And now that it’s spring-cleaning season, the number-one tool that you are going to need to work – and you need it to work pretty well – is your vacuum. And if yours just doesn’t have the sucking power that it used to, we’re going to have some troubleshooting tips to help you get it back in action.
TOM: And hey, did you know that less than half of all households have the recommended number of smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms? We’re going to share an update on new detectors that include voice and location alerts, for both smoke and carbon monoxide, and that have batteries which never need replacement. They actually last as long as the detector does.
LESLIE: Plus, if you give us a call or you post your home improvement questions to us at Money Pit, MoneyPit.com or give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’ve got a great giveaway that will help you get some spring cleaning done outside.
We’re giving away the Greenworks 60-Volt Handheld Blower that delivers air at a speed of 130 miles per hour, which is perfect for the spring cleaning of your deck, your walk, your driveway, anything outside. Just not inside.
TOM: Yep. That Greenworks Blower is worth 179 bucks. It’s available exclusively at Lowe’s and Lowes.com. But we’ve got one going out to one listener drawn at random who reaches us with their home improvement question, so let’s get to it. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Call us now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Kim in New York is on the line. How can we help you?
KIM: I have a water heater. It’s oil-fired, I guess, is what you would say. And two years ago, we just got city water lines at my home. The rest of the years – the house is 56 years old – it’s been well water. And I’m getting a staining or discolored water from the hot water only. Not when it’s cold.
TOM: From just the hot-water side?
KIM: Yeah. I put a paper towel in the sink and I dripped the water and it’s all discolored.
TOM: Hmm. So, well, you’ve got some rust in there somehow. I’m not quite sure if that’s coming from the water heater or if that’s coming from your plumbing line but that’s probably what’s happening.
Now, if you let it run for a long time, as opposed to just dripping, does it still discolor?
KIM: Yeah, I let the water in the bathroom sinks just run (inaudible) drain line and yeah, for quite a while. And I notice it when you fill the tub. I’ll clean my tub, fill it, soak it with bleach and drain it and there’s a film, you know.
TOM: Right. Interesting.
KIM: Discolored film.
TOM: How old is your water heater?
KIM: Well, I don’t know where to look for the age of it. But it has a thing on there.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, what would you guess?
KIM: It’s probably ‘06 when I had it first serviced. You know how they have a sticker?
TOM: OK. Yeah. So it’s older than that. So it’s pretty – yeah, it’s pretty old then.
KIM: So it – correct.
TOM: Yeah, so you’re at the end of a normal life cycle for that water heater. So you may be replacing it sooner rather than later.
TOM: Now, you said it was oil-fired. You don’t have gas in the house?
KIM: No, there’s no gas lines out here.
TOM: OK. And so your option was either electric or oil. Is that right?
TOM: OK. There’s another type of water heater today that’s electric that’s more efficient than the old-fashioned electric water heaters. I just want to make sure you’re aware of. It’s called a “heat-pump water heater.” It uses a different type of technology.
The prices on these things have come way down since they first came out and there are a number of really interesting benefits to these heat-pump water heaters today, that might make them more attractive to pick up than another oil water heater, which is going to be expensive and not nearly as efficient. So, think about a heat-pump water heater.
KIM: The oil-fired ones are expensive and not as …
TOM: Not as efficient, yes. Correct.
KIM: Not as this electric heat-pump one. OK, thank you. I will look into this.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
KIM: OK, thank you.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got John from Arkansas. What’s going on?
JOHN: I’ve put a recent addition on the back of my house. It’s about 16×16 and it’s a pier foundation. Where it butts up to the house, the house is a slab foundation. Due to levelness/unlevelness, part of the floor is perfectly level with the slab. But at one corner of it where I’m going to try to tie two LVP products together, it’s about – a ½-inch of concrete is higher than where it’s going to tie in.
JOHN: Do I need to grind that down somehow or …?
TOM: No. No, what I would do is – what’s the floor? What kind of flooring are you going to use when you’re all said and done?
JOHN: LVP. The laminated vinyl plastic.
TOM: Oh, OK. So what I would do is this. I would use floor-leveling compound and I would basically put the floor-leveling compound and bring it up to that higher ½-inch-thick edge. And then I would feather it out over the next 2 or 3 or 4 feet so it’s a very gentle transition. And if you do it that way, you should be able to go ahead and floor right through it.
JOHN: That is a problem. The problem is that the door going to the outside is right at the point where it’s a ½-inch difference.
TOM: OK. As luck would have it, right?
JOHN: So when I open the door, the bottom of the sweep is right on the LVP.
TOM: Yeah. Oh. So, in other words, if you were to add that floor-leveling compound, that floor would be too thick?
JOHN: I wouldn’t be able to open the door.
JOHN: Right, right.
TOM: Yeah. So, well, two options. Either cut and reframe that part of the door or maybe we just call it a day and make this a transition. Is it possible you can have a transition strip between these two sections, with the understanding being that one section of it would be a bit higher than the other? We wouldn’t really change the level of the floor but we would make it a definite visual break so that it didn’t look like it was weird, like it was out of whack.
JOHN: Well, I am going to have two different floor finishes.
JOHN: So I was going to use a transition strip that …
TOM: Like a saddle. Yeah, like a saddle. Right.
JOHN: Correct. But I didn’t know if that would be enough to make up the difference.
TOM: Well, not by itself but what you would do is you would build up the high side. When you put that transition place in, you’re going to end up with it overhanging that one high side. By high side, I mean where the floor’s a ½-inch higher. And so, you’re going to put an additional piece of wood under that. It will be like a sliver that will go from nothing up to a ½-inch. And the longer you could make that the better.
If I was building this, I would build that – I would get it all sort of set. I would cut my little transition shim piece and I would take it apart and put some clamps on it and glue it together so it was one solid piece. I’d sand it up so I didn’t have to do anything once it was put down. Then I would press it place.
And this way, when you look at it with your eye, all you’re going to see is one big transition. There’s no way you’re going to notice that one end is higher than the other. You want to make it look so good that people think you intended to do that.
JOHN: Alright. Thank you, sir. I appreciate the call back and you guys have a great day. I look forward to listening to your program every week.
LESLIE: Give us a call. We’d love to help you out with whatever it is you are working on. And maybe you are thinking about all of your outdoor projects, maybe like a big spring cleanup of your yard.
Well, we’ve got a great prize for you this hour. We’re giving away the Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Battery-Powered Handheld Blower. It’s got incredible power and performance with 130 mile-per-hour max airspeed. It features some advanced brushless-motor technology that delivers major torque, lots of power and durability with virtually no maintenance required.
Check it out. It’s worth $169 and it’s available exclusively at Lowes.
TOM: That Greenworks Pro 60-Volt Handheld Blower, with the battery and the battery charger, are going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Bonnie is Maryland is on the line and is having an issue at her home. What’s going on?
BONNIE: My husband has rental property and one of the tenants decided to destroy the property on the way out and poured wet cement into the drains. And so I just want to know what can be done and the cost of it and things like that, in terms of the repairs. Because maybe it’s just not even worth trying to find another tenant after doing a bunch of work that costs so much money.
TOM: Wow, that’s awful. Boy, what a jerk to do something like that. It’s just terrible.
You know, it seems to me, though, that that’s a crime. That’s basically vandalism and as such, not only can you first, of course, press criminal charges. But secondly, it seems like that should be something that’s covered by your homeowners insurance. Have you tried speaking with your insurance company about this?
BONNIE: It was just something that my husband had talked to me about. It’s not really anything that is really my business. I’m not sure like …
TOM: Well, you should call your insurance agent and you should talk with them about that, because this is not – we’re not talking about wear and tear like, oh, you’ve got to paint the walls because it’s somebody living there.
TOM: This is damage. This is like having an arsonist burn your house down. Those kinds of crimes are covered by the insurance. That’s one of the reasons you have insurance.
BONNIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
TOM: So, gosh, we pay so much money from that, so I would definitely make that claim.
Now, in terms of how much work this is to fix, I mean I guess it kind of depends. I’m guessing since you’re in Maryland, is this house – the bathroom’s on the first floor, second floor? What’s underneath the plumbing? Does it go into a slab?
BONNIE: It’s a trailer.
BONNIE: It’s a trailer. So, yeah, like I said …
TOM: Alright. So then – alright. Yeah. So then you have full access above and below. So you’re probably going to have to just cut out those pipes. It’s all going to sort of hang down the bottom of the pipe, so you’re just going to have to find out where it ends and cut it out.
But again, I would not hesitate to file a criminal complaint and also to file a claim with my insurance company or at least speak with my agent about that part.
BONNIE: Awesome. Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, renovating a bathroom is a great way to update the look, the function and the feel of a space. And adding some gorgeous tiles can take a blah bath to an outstanding one. But the key here is to make sure that your tiles last and that means making sure that the surface is waterproof.
Now, any water that gets behind those tiles can not only cause that new tiling project to fall apart but it can also lead to mold. And it’s crucial to make sure that water doesn’t get behind those tiles.
TOM: Yeah. And there are several options to achieve that.
Now, the best option for floors is to use a waterproof membrane. It comes in sheets, usually made of a polyethylene-type product with fleece webbing on both sides. And it’s measured out for each surface to which it’s being applied. And this membrane, aside from keeping the floor watertight, also helps to prevent tiles from cracking, especially those larger tiles. It allows it to expand and contract.
Now, for walls, what we recommend is backer board. Now, there are several manufacturers that make this but backer board, essentially, is a waterproof board that lets you sort of quickly and easily build a tile-ready enclosure. So whether it’s a shower or a bathtub or a tub surround, you can do it with backer board.
And the best ever for everything, in terms of a backer, is to build your walls and floors out of mud. It’s basically cement that’s applied over, usually, a metal lath. And it’s very thick. It’s about an inch or so thick when it’s all done. You can always tell mud walls when you see them because the tile protrudes out from the wall a bit more. But those tile job, they can last a hundred or more years.
LESLIE: And that’s a really great situation. You want to make sure that it’s super durable and super sturdy.
And I think a lot of people are probably sitting here going, “What about greenboard? I hear about this greenboard stuff all the time.” And you do, it’s very common. Builders use that a lot. Now, it’s supposedly waterproof or water-resistant drywall. They call it “greenboard” but the problem is it just doesn’t last. It’s not doing the job that great.
TOM: Yeah. It turns to mush pretty much and it’s a really short-term fix. But if you have a house with that, the builders were really cutting corners, in my view, when they use that product. But they used it a lot and the manufacturers sold it for that. But the fact of the matter is it just doesn’t last. So you really want to think about one of the other options if you’re going to be doing some tile work: either brand-new tile or restoring the bath that you have right now.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mike in Arkansas on the line who’s got a bathroom venting question. What’s going on?
MIKE: Well, I’ve lived in my house for about 20 years now and it didn’t seem like I had any issues with excessive moisture up in the attic. But my vent for one of my bathrooms recently went out. And I went up there to replace it and I noticed that it wasn’t vented through the roof. And it’s probably something I should have noticed much sooner than this, seeing as how I had a metal roof put on a couple years ago and they didn’t mention anything.
Well, my question is is there is, obviously, a 3-inch drain-line vent that goes through the roof. And it’s right in between these two bathrooms that are – essentially share a wall. So, what my question is is whether or not I could put a T in that vent up in the attic and tie those two bathroom vent fans to that T. And so exit at the roof.
TOM: OK, yeah. I understand what you’re trying to do and the answer is no. You can’t do that, because the plumbing vent you’re describing is just for that: it’s to vent your plumbing system. The bath vent for the humidity in the room is a completely different purpose, so no.
What you need to do with a bath-exhaust vent is to essentially duct it right to the outside. Couple of ways to do that. You could go up through the roof. There is a piece of flashing that will, essentially, go under the shingles and through the roof and the water will run around it. It will not leak. And then the bath-exhaust duct will be attached to that. Or you could turn it horizontally and go up towards, say, the gable vent, if there’s one on the outside end of the building. Or if you happen to have a ridge vent, you could actually terminate it right near there if you didn’t want to pierce the roof.
But you can’t tie in a bathroom-fan vent with a bathroom-plumbing vent. It seems like a good idea. Understand it. But no, you don’t want – it’s not designed to go together like that. Yeah, you can also get water that would come down that pipe and it would get into the exhaust duct for the vent fan. And then you’d start getting water inside your bathroom.
MIKE: I understand. I appreciate you getting back to me.
TOM: You’re welcome, Mike. Thanks for listening to the show.
LESLIE: Bela in North Carolina is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you?
BELA: The floor is hardwood.
BELA: And my wife would like to replace the hardwood with ceramic tile. So the question is: can I put the ceramic tile on top of the hardwood or I need to replace the hardwood?
TOM: No, no. The hardwood makes a great base for it because that’s so strong and straight and flat. So, the hardwood would be a great base for the ceramic tile. You could use a thinset adhesive and probably adhere it right to that existing subfloor.
Now, since the hardwood is finished, you might need to rough it up first. Or at the least, you could put some thin plywood over the hardwood, just so you have an underlayment that could really absorb the glue. So you could use a luan plywood but there’s no reason you can’t put ceramic tile right on top of the hardwood floor.
BELA: Now, the commode would have to be – well, I would have to use longer …
TOM: Yes, it would be a good idea to take the commode up. Because otherwise, you’re going to have sort of an odd cut of the tile around it. So you would remove the commode and there’s a flange that will raise the drain by the thickness of the tile. And then you put it back together again, OK?
BELA: Alright, sir. I like your show a lot.
LESLIE: Oh, thank you.
TOM: Well, thank you very much, Bela. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sharon in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
SHARON: I have two Corian sinks in my bathroom and the water is turning them – they were white and the water is turning them yellow. And my husband heard that you could use the fine sandpaper and sandpaper around the drain, where it’s really the worst. And that doesn’t seem to work. His is now grey around his drain and mine he didn’t touch.
SHARON: So have you got any solution?
LESLIE: I mean I would try first a couple of different softer cleansers, just to see if that does anything. I know Bon Ami seems to be a good one for a surface like that. And then after that …
SHARON: I’ve tried all of them.
LESLIE: You’ve tried all of them?
SHARON: I’ve tried all of them. Yeah. And I even tried the little green scrubby thing that they told me to use.
TOM: You know, have you ever, with Bon Ami – or Bar Keepers Friend, I think, is the other one. When I have a Corian sink – and I find what we do is we put a lot of it on there and just sort of almost make a paste and let it sit on the surface for a while.
TOM: And then we come back 15, 20 minutes later and then start rinsing it off. But it has sort of a bleaching effect when you let it sit there. It’s not just a rub it and rinse it away but let it sit on the stains for a while.
TOM: What you’re describing is not that unusual. Unfortunately, Corian does absorb stains. It’s not as stain-resistant as we’d like. It can be abraded but that’s not really going to change anything because it’s not – the stain is not on the top. It’s kind of soaked in. So you really need to kind of clean it and that’s why those products work well for that.
SHARON: OK. I’ll try that: making the paste and putting it on there and leaving it on there for a little bit.
TOM: Just sprinkle it out and just – and then get it a little bit wet until it gets kind of pasty. And then just let it sit. I make it kind of pasty and I’ll do a first, sort of – a first scrub while it’s real thick like that. Then I just walk away for a while. And then later on I go back and finish it off and that works well for me.
SHARON: Alright, well, I’ll try that. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you find yourself motivated to take on some extra spring cleaning but you’re finding that your vacuum isn’t feeling the same way, the fix might be easier than you think.
You’ve got to start by checking the suction. Now, if it’s poor or not even happening is the issue – also, that canister or the bag may be full and then it needs to be replaced or emptied.
TOM: Now, if you’re hearing sort of a funny noise or a vibration, it may sound like it’s coming from the motor area and it might be a broken fan blade. It’s pretty common. If that noise is coming from the brush area, though, it might be a defective brush roller. That bearing on the roller itself can break down. It can also clog. I’ve seen it clog from things like dirt and dust and rubber bands and paper clips and other things that it’s picked up.
But if either is defective, it needs to be replaced, which is really a pretty easy DIY project. And these days, you can usually order everything that you need online.
LESLIE: Now, if the vacuum itself is hard to push or maybe you smell something burning, like a burning rubber, it could mean that you’ve got a broken or a worn-out belt. You also want to check the brush roller for obstructions and clear away any hair or carpet fibers that got caught up in there.
Now, if you find that that brush roller spins freely with the belt removed, you can reinstall the belt and then test for proper operation again.
TOM: And by the way, if you find that you need to replace your vacuum cleaner’s belt, do what I do. I always buy two and tape the extra one to the handle so it’s always there and handy the next time the belt breaks. And I’ve actually had to use those spare belts, so it’s a pretty good idea. They’re cheap and they’re worth having an extra on hand.
And by the way, if you’ve had it with your existing vacuum and you’ve got to buy a new one, make sure it has a HEPA filter. That’s a high-efficiency filter. Otherwise, you often find that you’re taking dirt from the floor and distributing it to the air or to the walls, where it falls right back down to the carpet.
So, think about purchasing a HEPA vacuum the next time around. It’s pretty much become the standard in vacuums today as we all are much more careful about air quality.
You want some more troubleshooting tips? Just visit MoneyPit.com and search “vacuum-cleaner repair.”
LESLIE: Joe, you’ve got The Money Pit. Tell us what you need help with.
JOE: Well, I need help with an idea of how to clean the grouting in my kitchen. It’s ceramic tile and the grout has gotten discolored and dark over the years. And I was wondering if there was a product or some kind of solution you could give me to help us clean it?
TOM: So, you have two types of products out there. You have grout cleaners and grout strippers. The grout stripper is usually one that is a lot stronger, in terms of being able to lighten up that grout. The key is that you have to put it on and let it sit for a little bit. So if it’s in your kitchen – is this your kitchen floors or kitchen counters or backsplash? What is it?
JOE: It’s the floor.
TOM: OK. So, yeah, you’ve got to put it on there and let it sit for a bit. And then go ahead and rinse it off. And it does a pretty good job of brightening these things up. There’s a lot of different manufacturers of it. I can’t – I don’t have one that I’m particularly fond of over another but I do encourage you to look for a grout stripper, as opposed to a grout cleaner.
And once you do get it clean, then what you should also do is apply a grout sealer, which is a silicone product that goes over the grout. And that will stop a lot of the dirt from getting back in there. And it’ll keep it brighter for a lot longer.
JOE: OK. That sounds really good. What type of store might I find that? Like a Home Depot, a Lowe’s type store?
TOM: Yes. Yep. A home center, a Home Depot, a Lowe’s, a hardware store.
JOE: OK. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your input and I’m going to definitely get right on that.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’re ready to get outside and do some outdoor cleanup around your house, we’ve got a perfect outdoor tool to help with that part of your spring cleaning. We’re giving one away, this hour, from our friends at Greenworks. It’s the Pro 60-Volt Battery-Powered Handheld Blower.
It’s got great power, great performance, 130 mile-per-hour maximum airspeed. And the tool has a variable speed control, which will give you up to 50 minutes of runtime on low speed. And it’s equipped with a Turbo button if you need a blast of that maximum power.
It’s worth 169 bucks. It’s available exclusively at Lowe’s and Lowes.com. And we’ve got one to give away to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post it to The Money Pit’s website at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Well, did you know that less than half of all households have the recommended number of smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms? Now, both smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms are crucial for home safety but they need to be properly installed and maintained throughout the life of the alarm.
Well, there’s a new combination detector out now from First Alert that has some really neat features to keep you safe.
TOM: Yeah. It’s called the 10-Year Battery Combination Smoke and Carbon-Monoxide Alarm, with voice and location alerts. The alarm alerts you and your family to the threat of smoke or carbon monoxide, as well as the specific location of the hazard within the home. And this is helpful so you can find the safest way out.
So, for example, when the alarm goes off, you may hear a human voice saying, “Evacuate. There’s smoke in the basement.”
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, the alarm alerts users to the threat with a human voice, as opposed to a regular alarm. And one of the reasons this is better is really interesting. Because studies have shown that children may have an easier time waking up to the sound of a human voice rather than an alarm. And if you have children, this is especially helpful if a fire should strike at night.
TOM: Now, the other cool feature is this: it’s got a 10-year sealed battery. And that pretty much eliminates the need for battery replacement, because the battery lasts for the full life of the alarm. So when the battery is done, the alarm is done; time to get a new one. What a great advancement in technology, because how many times do we hear about fires where the batteries are missing or they’ve just completely worn out?
If you’d like more information, you can visit FirstAlert.com. First Alert, the most trusted name in home safety.
LESLIE: Tammy in North Dakota is on the line and has a question about flooring. What’s going on?
TAMMY: We have hardwood floors on the upper level of our home and we have a nail that just keeps popping up. No matter how many times I hammer it down, it keeps popping up.
TAMMY: And what I’m wondering is why and what do I do?
TOM: So, the reason it’s happening is because of expansion and contraction of that floor. If the nail is loose, it doesn’t have enough binding on it, it’s just going to work its way back out again. So the solution is to stop fighting the tide here. Pull out that nail and replace it with a screw.
Now, there are many different types of screws. And one, in particular, that may be helpful – if you even need it. I mean most floors have hundreds of nails in them and maybe you don’t even need this nail in there. You can just pull it out. But if you want to replace it, you could replace it with something called a “trim screw.”
You’ll find those at a home center and they look like other types of sort of case-hardened screws, except they have a really small head. It’s just a little bit bigger than a finish nail. And you drive them in. They usually have the bit in the package when you buy it. You drive them in with a power drill with this bit in the chuck. And it will sit right below the surface. And then you could just use a little bit of a filler on top of that and you’ll never see it again.
But that’s actually not that all – not all that uncommon. It’s happening in your floor. A lot of times, it’ll happen with walls where you see drywall nails work back out of the hole. And it – sometimes, it’ll also be the source of floor squeaks. Because when you put subfloor down, there’s a type of nail that you use that’s called a – it’s called – in the trade, it’s called a “cooler” because it’s rosin-coated. And as the nail gets driven in, the friction melts the glue and as it cools, it sort of sticks in place. Except it doesn’t stick that well and sometimes it works its way out or sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s kind of like – think of rosin on the bow of a violin, except it sounds a lot worse and it makes a really loud squeaking sound.
TOM: So, not unusual. Nothing to panic. Easy fix.
TAMMY: Sounds good.
Now, I would not go into the same hole, right? I would move over one?
TOM: If you – no, if you use the screw, you could put it back in the same hole. It’s not going to come out again because it’s not – you’re not relying on the size of the hole to hold the nail tight. The screw will just – once you drive it, that’s it; it stays put. It does not back out.
TAMMY: What did you say the name of that screw was? I’m sorry.
TOM: It’s called a “trim screw.”
TAMMY: OK. Alright. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Samantha posted her question at MoneyPit.com. And she writes: “I have a 100-year-old house in the Midwest and my foundation walls are bowing in about an inch or an inch-and-a-half. I’ve had a few foundation contractors look at it and give me their opinions, which vary quite a bit. Contractor A says the bowing is not significant enough to worry about and gives me a price just to brace with I-beams. Contractor B says the terracotta foundations are not worth fixing and quotes me options for a partial or a full foundation replacement. And every contractor always seems to ask one question about the subject: how much do you want to spend? I don’t know what to do.”
TOM: It’s interesting that they basically will construct a repair for you that matches perfectly the amount of money in your bank account.
My concern with guys like this is I would bet on the fact that neither Contractor A nor Contractor B has any professional credential for doing structural design. So, they’re not a licensed architect, they’re not a licensed engineer. They’re not even a designer. They’re just a contractor that knows how to put stuff together, which is fine.
But in this case, you need expert advice. If those walls are bowing an inch to an inch-and-a-half, that’s really pretty significant. So, first and foremost, I want you to stop calling contractors. As you’ve learned, they’re only trying to sell you whatever fix they happen to specialize in. The only way, really, to properly address this is to contract with a structural engineer, because an engineer is skilled and certified to analyze the problem and then prepare a detailed report advising exactly how to fix it. That’s going to include specifications on how the job should be accomplished, as well.
And once you have that report – and only when you have that report – can you submit it to contractors. Now, at this point, you’re not saying, “What do you think we should do to fix it?” You’re saying to them, “Look, this is how I want it fixed. It’s all spelled out in this report. What’s your price for doing exactly what’s here?” So there’s no variation from pro to pro. It’s all apples to apples.
The mistake here that a lot of folks make is expecting contractors to give you that level of expert advice. But they’re just not qualified to provide that advice. They also have a conflict of interest in specifying the repair. Only a structural engineer is qualified to give you that opinion.
Now, there’s one more really important step and that is that once the job is complete, you want to have that same engineer reinspect it and provide an addendum to the letter approving the work, making sure that it was done right. Because this way, if you go to sell the house, you’ll have complete proof that you had the repair designed, executed and completed and totally signed-off on. And it’ll have no impact on the value of your property.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Chris who writes: “I have a washing machine that’s connected to a 1½-inch drain on my second floor. When the washer starts pumping the water out, the inch-and-a-half drain cannot keep up with the speed of water being drained. What are my options?”
TOM: The drains on the second floor, we don’t know where it goes from there. If it’s not obstructed, it should drain fine. So you have – simply have an obstructed drain here, Chris, and you need to get to the bottom of that.
So I would have a drain-cleaning company come in and basically run a snake down that and try to figure out where it’s obstructed and get it fixed. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be working as long as it’s actually a drain that goes to your main plumbing drain.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps, Chris. And keep up the laundry.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. As you go about working on your house, thinking about, dreaming about, planning the projects you’d like to get done to make your space more comfortable, especially since we’re all spending so much time at home these days, it’s almost like a staycation without the fun part. But we can have some fun with the home improvements and we can help you get them done, as well.
So, remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. You can write us with your specific home improvement question, send us some photos. It’s always helpful. And we will get back to you just as soon as we can, to help you make your home the best place it can possibly be.
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.)