In this episode…
For a home to be healthy, it has to breathe. That’s why ventilation is important! But if your home is energy efficient it – could potentially be too airtight for healthy living? They CAN and often DO require extra ventilation to maintain a healthy indoor air environment. Tom & Leslie share how insert just the right amount of fresh air without driving up energy costs. Plus…
- If one of your favorite foods (or your kid’s favorite!) is pizza, imagine being able to grow all of your favorite pizza toppings right in your backyard? You can if you grow your own Pizza Garden. We’ll share tips on how to do just that.
- And with all the time we’ve been spending at home these days, there’s lots and lots of cleaning going on. We’ll share tips on earth-friendly cleaning products that are effective and safe.
- And if you are ready for a redo, we’ll have tips on how to upcycle old furniture and accent pieces you no longer use to create a fresh new décor for any room in your home.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, chimney liners, repairing loose shingles, electrical sub panel installation, buying new windows, bath remodeling, new options in LED lighting.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’re here to help you be comfortable in your home. If you’ve got a project that you’d like to get done, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. As you tackle projects big and small, we’re here as part of your team. So give us a call, let’s talk it through. We’ll get it done together.
Coming up on today’s show, for a home to be healthy it has to breathe, right? And that’s why ventilation is important. But if your home is really energy-efficient, could it potentially be too airtight for healthy living? Well, turns out that it actually can be and it may require extra ventilation to maintain that fresh air supply. We’re going to tell you how best to get that done without wasting energy.
LESLIE: And if one of your favorite foods or maybe your kids’ favorite is pizza, imagine being able to grow all of your favorite pizza toppings right in your own backyard. You can if you have your own pizza garden. We’re going to have some tips on how you can do that, in just a bit.
TOM: And with Earth Day around the corner, we’re going to share tips on Earth-friendly cleaning products that are safe and effective.
LESLIE: Plus, we’re going to fill your garden shed with some new tools, this hour, because we’re giving away two great tools from Centurion – their Premium Bypass Pruner and Anvil Lopper. They’re so durable that they’ll be super useful this spring and for many springs to come.
TOM: Yep. Those tools are worth 50 bucks but they’re going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us now with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Annie in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ANNIE: Yes, I have a front-porch stoop. It’s uncovered, for the most part – 4 foot by about 15 – and half of it was built over 100 years ago and the concrete is kind of crumbly. What’s the best way to cover it? You know, restore it, make it smooth.
TOM: So, you can restore deteriorated concrete. There are products that are designed especially for that purpose. The mistake that most people make is they use sort of a standard cement in trying to stucco over that. But you have to use products that are designed to adhere to the old concrete. QUIKRETE has a line of products that do that. A lot of them are epoxy-based, so they stick really, really well. And I’ve seen some resurfacing materials that actually are so strong, when you try to pull them apart they actually pull apart the old concrete. But they stick so well that they can do that.
There is one called Re-Cap – R-e-C-a-p – that I’ve used that worked really well that QUIKRETE makes. And you can put that on over that whole surface and it’ll just smooth it out, look like a brand-new concrete porch.
ANNIE: Some of the divots and gouges are ½-inch, ¾-inch deep. Is that too thick?
TOM: That should be OK. Yeah, I forget how thick it can go but that’s pretty minor. That should be fine. And if it’s too – if it exceeds it, I would read the instructions on it. If it exceeds what they recommend, then you would simply use a patching compound underneath it and then perhaps put the Re-Cap over top of the whole thing.
ANNIE: OK. And how about standing up to cold temperatures? We get a lot of ice and snow here.
TOM: Yeah, see that’s the point. You can’t – that’s why you use a product like that because it adheres. It’s designed to stick to the old concrete. Anything else you do will split off in the cold weather. But these products are designed to adhere, to stick and they won’t separate.
ANNIE: OK. Wonderful.
TOM: Alright, Annie. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Sergio in Arizona has a question about water heating. What can we do for you?
SERGIO: I have a tankless water heater that was put into our house before we moved in.
SERGIO: The plumber forgot to put the hose on the – what is it? – the condensate outlet. So my question is – that water that’s coming out of there is dripping into a bucket now.
SERGIO: Can I use that water? Do you guys happen to know if it’s acidic?
TOM: It’s condensation; it should not be acidic. I think you can use it.
TOM: I mean usually, you drain it outside. Now, if it’s going into a bucket – and typically if you don’t, it depends on how your – the system is set up. But if it drains down toward the floor and your plumbing is up high, as most is, typically you would drain it into a condensate pump, which is a small pump about 6×9, 6×12 kind of pump. It sits on the floor, it’s float-actuated. And then you’d have a hose on that and it would just go up a small tube. The tube’s less than ½-inch in diameter. And then you’d either drill a hole through the outside wall, right about level with the floor, and let it go out into the garden.
TOM: Or you could drop it into a drain if you had one. But I don’t see any reason you couldn’t use that water. I commend you for trying to be very Earth-friendly. And this the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, right, this year?
SERGIO: I think, yeah.
TOM: So why not? I don’t see any reason you can’t. Yep.
SERGIO: Right. No. And that was my other question. We have an organic raised bed in the backyard, so that – tankless water heater’s in the front, so I’d have to be poking a hole out in the front wall which leads to nowhere. So, I was wondering, can I dump that – and that was my question. Can I dump that water into my raised bed garden in the backyard?
TOM: Yep. I think you can.
SERGIO: Yep, that was my question. I couldn’t get a solid answer anywhere in town, really. Everybody was like 50-50, you know? They say they don’t use it and some were saying yes, use it, so …
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. No, I think it’s just pure condensation, so I don’t think it’s an issue. Alright?
Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
SERGIO: Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome.
LESLIE: Well, this time of year, everybody’s got spring projects on their mind and on their to-do list. And since we’re all able to work in our yards, have we got a great prize for you. We’ve got, up for grabs, the Centurion Brand’s large-to-small grip Premium Bypass Pruner. It’s got an adjustable grip, so it works for a smaller hand like mine to a bigger hand like Tom’s, all with the flip of a switch. And it’ll work for all different kinds of branches, whether it’s thin or heavy.
It’s really a great tool. It’s got a high-carbon blade. It stays sharper longer. Plus, we’re adding in an anvil lopper so you’ll have two premium tools to help with all your spring, summer and fall yard work.
TOM: That’s right. The package of Centurion tools is worth over 50 bucks. Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Post your question to MoneyPit.com or call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Jim in Massachusetts with a question about a chimney. What’s going on?
JIM: I don’t have a liner in my chimney but I only burned oil. Do I need a liner in my chimney?
TOM: So you’re only burning oil. Now, so you have an oil boiler or an oil furnace?
TOM: How old is the furnace itself?
JIM: Oh, the unit’s about 30 years old.
TOM: Hmm. Well, technically, you really should. It’s best practice to have it. You don’t know what the condition of the inside of that chimney is and especially if you’re going to replace that heating system. Because at 30 years old, it’s getting well past the end of a normal life cycle. And the newer HVAC systems are much more efficient, which means they have much more moisture. And the moisture’s very acidic that goes up the chimney and that could be a problem, as well. So I think, eventually, you’re going to have to line that.
Now, lining it does not have to be such a big deal. Because if that chimney’s only serving the heating system, there is a stainless-steel liner that can be dropped down that’s kind of like – you know the old dryer-exhaust ducts that were plastic and they sort of unfolded like an accordion? Well, they’re kind of like that but they’re made of stainless steel. And the pros drop them right from the top of the chimney – so all the way down – and hook them right up. And instantly, literally, within an hour or two of work you’ve got a fully-lined chimney.
It’s not like in the old days when you had to drop a – there used to be this system where you’d drop a bladder down the chimney and pour a slurry around it. It was really expensive. This is a lot simpler. So I would say, for your safety and future efficiency, it would be best if you did put a liner in that chimney. And that’s how you would do it.
JIM: OK. Do you have any recommendations for anybody? Because I’m getting – I’ve had two estimates already, both of them $5,000 dollars.
TOM: It doesn’t surprise me. What I would suggest you do is go to HomeAdvisor.com. Now, at HomeAdvisor or at Angie’s List, you can put in the details of your project. And then you can read review about contractors that are available in your area to do that. And then select or hear directly from these contractors and have them at least give you an additional price.
I like these services because of the reviews. They’re done by customers just like yourself and I think they’re very reliable. A nice way to determine the quality of the work and I’ve done this many times – probably a ½-dozen times.
And one time, I did it with a water heater that had gone at my sister’s house and she didn’t know how to find a pro and needed one right away. I did exactly what I’m telling you and boy, she found a great one. In fact, as evidenced by the fact that about a year-and-a-half after this, the water heater stopped working. And man, that pro was there lickety-split. Figured out what was wrong, figured out that the part was covered by a warranty and had her back with hot water within a day.
JIM: Oh, wow. OK. Well, that sounds good.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Give it a shot. I’m sure it’ll work out well for you.
Well, an energy-efficient home can save homeowners big on energy and cash. But since they’re so airtight, they also often require extra ventilation to maintain a healthy indoor-air environment. And that’s exactly where mechanical ventilation steps in.
Now, it may seem sort of counterintuitive to think that we have to let air into a building when we pretty much have been doing everything possible to keep those drafts out. But that’s kind of what you’ve got to do.
LESLIE: Yeah. Homes of the past were naturally leaky and they let in enough outside air in. And that would help with the ventilation, getting rid of contaminants ranging from things like chemicals in building materials and furniture, to even germs and toxins. But now, new energy-efficient homes don’t have that many little gaps and voids where those drafts can slip through. And as a result, we need to strategically bring fresh air inside without undoing that home’s efficiency.
TOM: So, if you want to bring in fresh air and you want to do so without wasting energy, there are really two approaches that are pretty common. The first one is called a “heat-recovery ventilator” or HRV. It pulls in fresh air while exhausting stale air and it lets the heat that’s found within that stale exhaust air sort of preheat the incoming fresh air. So, it kind of shares its heat with the fresh air on the way out of your house. And as an added bonus, you can use less energy bringing outdoor air up to room temperature, so it’s basically a lot more efficient way to do it. It does, however, require a fan to fun continually.
The other option is called an ERV or “energy-recovery ventilator” and it pretty much does everything an HRV does but it goes kind of a little further. It will also capture humidity from the air and it usually does much better in warmer climates. So, if you’re trying to decide between the two, it really depends on your moisture level. If your house is in a humid area, if it’s humid in the winter, the HRV is going to be a better bet.
LESLIE: Susan in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SUSAN: I was calling because I have a large room that was converted from a garage into a living room. But it’s got some dark, ugly paneling on it. And what’s the best way to remove it? Or how do you undo paneling?
LESLIE: I mean it really depends on how much work you want to do and how that paneling that’s there was attached to the existing structure.
Now, it was the garage previously?
SUSAN: Yes. And it was ridiculous. It was paneled and – like it was a really elite garage when we moved in. It was crazy.
LESLIE: Now, do you know, is the paneling just attached directly to the studs of the wall? Or is it attached by glue to drywall? Have you had any clue what’s behind it?
SUSAN: I don’t.
LESLIE: I wonder if there’s a place where you can lift up a piece of trim or remove a switch plate and see what’s sort of going on with that? Because it could be that it was a garage. It could just be that the paneling was put directly onto those studs and then you could pull that off and have a clean slate and just go ahead and put some drywall up. And while you’re at it, add some insulation. Because if it was a garage, there’s a good chance there wasn’t any there before.
Now, if you do find that it was attached to some drywall, it’s probably glued on and everything behind it is going to be a mess. So you’ve got two choices there. You can either just make that paneling look attractive by painting it. And you know what? When paneling is painted like a glossy white or a glossy neutral color, it actually doesn’t look so bad. It can kind of be that great, interesting base texture with sort of a modern country feel, if that makes sense.
But if that’s something that you’re like, “Oh, God, no, I don’t even want to see it,” you can easily go over it with ¼-inch drywall. The only thing is where you’ve got switches or outlets or trimming, those things are going to have to bump out a little bit. So that requires a little bit of carpentry but it’s not the end of the world and it is a do-it-yourself project.
SUSAN: OK. So it really depends on what it’s over.
LESLIE: Depends on what it’s over, how it’s attached and how involved you want to get.
SUSAN: OK. Well, I guess the first thing I will need to do then is take a piece off or figure that out and go from there.
LESLIE: Don’t sound so down; it’s not a difficult project.
SUSAN: OK. Well, I appreciate the advice.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Chris in Ohio is taking on some remodeling projects and needs some help figuring out a way to finance. What can we do for you?
CHRIS: So I’ve got a – it’s like a Cape Cod house and I was thinking about putting some new windows in.
CHRIS: And I was wondering about the cost that would be involved and I was thinking either Andersen or Pella windows.
TOM: Have you talked to any window companies yet?
CHRIS: I have not. I figured I’d have a couple of reps come out and give me some estimates.
TOM: Right. Right. OK.
CHRIS: I was kind of hoping you guys might be able to ballpark it for me.
TOM: Well, it’s hard to say. I mean it really depends on the size of the window and the style of the window but probably at least a few hundred dollars a window for an Andersen or a Pella. You know, they’re sort of high-end.
TOM: You also could look at some of the baseline windows that are sold. You could order replacement windows at Home Depot, for example. I’ve ordered many over the years that are vinyl-clad and stand up very, very well and have an ENERGY STAR-rated glass in it. So, you have many options on the windows.
How do you want to pay for this? Are you thinking about paying cash or are you going to get a loan or what?
CHRIS: I was thinking about paying cash. Would I get a discount for – by paying cash?
TOM: Possibly. If you’re dealing with an independent window contractor, maybe.
TOM: But I wouldn’t focus on that as much as just finding the right pro.
TOM: You could reach out to – through HomeAdvisor.com, you could submit a request for window companies and determine on their website which are the best-rated. That’s one way to find some pros in your area.
But I will tell you this: make sure you purchase an ENERGY STAR-rated window. And there’s going to be a certification on the window. Each window’s going to have a National Fenestration Rating Council code on it and it’s going to talk about how efficient the glass is. And it’s kind of a standard that you can use to compare different types of windows.
But if you make sure the windows are ENERGY STAR-rated, that’s a really good place to be. Because there’s a lot of confusion out there, because a lot of the window companies are going – may use a substandard manufacturer. And somebody called not too long ago and boy, the tall tales that these guys were making up about how the other guys’ windows were bad was really crazy. But the thing is people just don’t know. So, if you stick with a reliable brand and you’re getting an ENERGY STAR-rated window, I don’t think you can go wrong.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Gwen in Virginia on the line who needs some help protecting her kitchen wall. How can we help you?
GWEN: I actually saw this product at a show, an invention – female inventors’ show that was being aired – was being taped in Chicago. And this lady, she had a product that you take it and it just sort of sticks to the wall. She had it in different colors, that it would blend in with your kitchen wall or if you wanted to have a stainless-steel look – but it was just a piece of material that went behind the trash can, that when you hit – when you would step on the flip tops, it would hit up against that area and would not damage the wall.
And then when you decided that you want to either move your trash can to another area in the house or you were tired of that particular pattern, you could just peel it off. It didn’t mess up the paint but it protected the wall.
LESLIE: So it was like a sticker.
TOM: That’s interesting. I’ve got a couple of ideas for you on that.
First of all, you don’t need an invention; you could simply put a small piece of clear Plexiglas on the wall using double-sided tape. Or the second thing you could do, which is even easier, is you could add a bumper to the top of the garbage can so that when it comes up, it doesn’t scuff the wall. You could use a felt-tip bumper on it.
LESLIE: Or even if you go to childproofing – in the childproofing section of any baby store, you’ll find that rubber edging that you can put on coffee tables and things. And you could put a piece like that right on the edge of the garbage can.
GWEN: OK. Thank you.
LESLIE: Art in Pennsylvania is on the line working on some storm repair. Tell us what happened.
ART: About a month ago, we had a windstorm and it took off three sections of shingles off of the roof. And I was able to retrieve them. They were, ironically, in pretty good shape.
But I remember seeing a program on PBS where they were redoing homes down in Florida, in the section where they get a lot of storms down there. And I think there is a requirement for the way that shingles are to be installed down there.
And I’m thinking, if I remember it right – and I didn’t have a chance to see the whole program. But on mine, when I took mine off, there was only like three nails in each piece of shingle there. And I think, if I remember correctly, that down there they were requiring that there be more nails than that used to install shingles.
TOM: Well, Art, your goal now is to replace the shingles that you lost. And did you save the shingles? Were they intact enough to use the actual shingle for the repair? Because this way, the color will match.
ART: Yes. Yes, they were; they were in very good shape, yes.
TOM: Alright. So then what I would do is I’d get back up there and – assuming you can do this safely – and you’ll nail the new shingles back in. You want to put nails – you can put them pretty much where the old nails were but of course, not in the same holes because they’re going to be broken-through now.
You can’t really put too many nails on them. If you want to put an extra nail or two, that’s fine. But the key is after you get done nailing all of these down again, what I want you to do is to get an asphalt cement. And you can get it in a caulking tube and put a little dab under the loose end of the shingle so that the tab presses down and reseals. Because when shingles are new, they have an adhesive on the back of the tab that seals it to the shingle below. But when they’re torn off, that adhesive is gone. So you put a little dab of asphalt cement in there and that will keep it in place and stop it from sort of lifting up the next time you get a strong wind that comes across. Does that make sense?
ART: OK. Well, I thank you very much. You’ve been very helpful.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, a pizza garden is a fun way to get the whole family involved in gardening. Plus, it’s a great way for parents to sneak in some veggies, so here’s what you need to know.
First of all, let’s talk about the space. You don’t really need a lot of space for your own pizza garden. A 4×4 area is just about perfect. You can even make them in a circle and mark off areas in wedges like a pizza, just something a little fun. Give them motivation if it looks a little more fun. Raised beds do work wonderfully for this type of garden. You just have to make sure that your soil is well mixed, drained and ready to go.
TOM: Yep. Now, next, you want to pick out your tomatoes. They’re really the key to pizza sauce, so they’re definitely a must. Roma tomatoes are the choice when making sauces. But if you’re going to go for the small, compact garden in the 4×4-foot area, then you only need one plant. Because they look so small but man, do they grow big.
And next, you want to pick out your peppers. You’re going to want to choose bell-pepper plant or really, a bell pepper and a banana-pepper plant. If you go with those early varieties, make sure that they’re a good choice for your growing area, because we want everything to be harvested at the same time.
LESLIE: Now, what’s a pizza without the spices? It would be boring. So pizzas are Italian in nature, so let’s think about those types of spices. We’re talking basil, parsley and rosemary. So you can plant one or two and use them fresh or dry those herbs for later use, as well. You just snip off what you need and that plant keeps growing.
And don’t forget about the onions. Now, onion bulbs are quick and easy to plant. They can be harvested as green onions or allowed to develop into the bigger, full-sized onions. And they’re super delicious.
TOM: It is a super-fun project for you and the kids. And once everything in your garden is set, you’ll be delighted in how much fun it will be to see that pizza garden growing and growing and growing.
LESLIE: Pam in Missouri is on the line with a lighting question. How can we help you today?
PAM: I have fluorescent lights in my kitchen and two other rooms and they are recessed into the ceiling. They’re the kind like you would put maybe into a shop: those 3- or 4-foot-long tubes, T8 bulbs that I hear are going away?
TOM: Yep. Yes. Uh-huh.
PAM: What can I do?
TOM: So, are you having trouble finding the bulbs? Is that what you’re concerned about?
PAM: I am not now but I’m – hear that they will be not used anymore.
TOM: Yeah. But they last so darn long. Why don’t you just go shop online and buy a case of them and call it a day? I mean really. Yeah, they’ll be harder to find but they’re going to be available, because a lot – there’s a lot of industrial folks that use those in offices and that sort of thing. So I wouldn’t fret too much about that.
Listen, if you want to change your lights at some point, then you can plan that project. But I wouldn’t tell you to rip out and remove all your lighting fixtures now just because you’re worried about a supply problem. I’d just go pick up a case of these things. They last forever. And then put the project off until you’re ready to do some real remodeling.
PAM: I’d rather do that because, otherwise, I’d have a big hole in the ceiling that would have to be patched.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. It’s a bigger project for you because they’re built-in. So you’re going to have to take them out, you’re going to have to drywall over the holes. It’s a big job, so – no, I would just pick up a case of the bulbs and live with it for a while, OK?
TOM: And now that it’s spring, you’re probably outside doing a bit of gardening in your space. And if you are, we’ve got a great tool to give away this hour that could help you with some of those projects. It’s from Centurion Brands. It’s the large-to-small grip Premium Bypass Pruner. It’s the adjustable-grip bypass. It’s kind of cool because it can change for those that have large or small grips, with a flick of the switch, and actually handle cutting branches up to about an inch thick. So it’s really, really handy for all kinds of cutting and pruning jobs.
And the blades are also Teflon-coated, so you get really smooth cuts without sticking, which always happens to me and I hate it. Plus, we’ve got an anvil lopper we’re throwing in from Centurion, so you’ll have two great tools to help with all your spring, summer and fall yard work.
Those products are worth 50 bucks but going out to one listener drawn at random. You can call us with your question at 888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your question to qualify, as well, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Steven in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVEN: I have two bathrooms, side by side. They’re divided by one wall. I’m thinking of taking the wall out and combining the two bathrooms.
TOM: You should approach this project very carefully, Steven, and here’s why: because the number of bathrooms in a house is – has a direct relationship with the value of a house. There’s a difference between, you know, a house with two bathrooms and a house with one bathroom and a house with one full bath and one half-bath. So if you’re going to eliminate an entire full bathroom from the house, that will reduce your home value.
Now, that might be OK if you’re not concerned about that or you just want a bigger bathroom and you’re just kind of willing to deal with that. But unfortunately, the way homes are valued – and you can check with a local realtor and ask this very same question. I think you’re going to get a similar answer. Will your home be worth less if you combine two bathrooms into a single bathroom? And I think the answer is going to be yes.
LESLIE: Yeah. But Steven, I’m all for quality of life. If you want that big bathroom, you should have a big bathroom.
STEVEN: It’s something I’ve been kind of dreaming/thinking about for quite some time and …
TOM: Well, then, maybe you should do it. We just don’t want you to do it without having all the facts.
STEVEN: Would I have to bust the slab out in order to relocate drainage pipes?
TOM: Yes. If you’re not going to put the fixtures back in the same place, you will have to break the slab out to get the pipes where you want them. You’re going to probably end up extending the drain line to where the old location used to be. So, yes, there is going to be some demolition involved in that project, as well.
STEVEN: OK. Now, what is that going to do to the structural integrity of the slab?
TOM: Oh, it won’t – well, it’s obviously going to destroy the slab in that area but the slab is not load-bearing in the areas where you’re going to be breaking it apart. It’s not – it won’t have an effect on the foundation, because you won’t be impacting the exterior walls. You’re going to be breaking apart the slab in the thinner sections where it’s 4 or 5 inches thick.
STEVEN: OK. Alright. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, Earth Day is next week and it’s a good time to think about using products to keep our homes clean that are effective, safe and friendly to the Earth. And JAWS, the Just Add Water System, has a line of six cleaners that does just that. Every JAWS cleaner is streak-free, versatile and eco-friendly. And you can refill and reuse the JAWS spray bottles instead of having to purchase new bottles every single time.
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LESLIE: Heidi in North Carolina is on the line with an electrical problem. How can we help you today?
HEIDI: Well, I have kind of a two-part question. I have an older home. It’s about 68 years old. We paid an electrician to come in when we converted over to a heat pump from an oil furnace to up our service. And we have an old fuse box that are the screw-in type fuses. And when he put the system in – the new electrical box – he was supposed to convert everything over into the new electrical box and he left the little electrical box – the little fuse box – in my kitchen.
And unfortunately, he put the new electrical box on the outside of my house. That would be OK, except I’m a single woman and I don’t – safety reasons. I don’t think it’s really smart considering I have a full-size basement it could easily be put in.
HEIDI: So do I need to – I would never call this guy again, for lots of reasons. But do I need to pay somebody else to come in and convert that last part of my home into this other fuse box or – you know, these little fuses are hard to find and when they blow …
TOM: So, it’s definitely an active panel, right? The fuse panel?
HEIDI: Oh, it’s active. Yes, sir.
TOM: OK. So that’s called a “sub-panel” and that’s going to be a sub-panel from the main panel. You said the main panel is now in the basement or the main panel is outside?
HEIDI: It’s outside. We have a full basement and why he put it outside, I have no clue. But he put the main panel …
TOM: Yeah, that makes no sense. Because the only time you usually see full panels outside is maybe a condominium situation and then they’re in utility closets. So I can’t imagine why that was done that way. It doesn’t make sense. It sounds to me like you do need a better electrician to come in and take care of this.
If it makes you feel any better, the fact that you have a fuse box does not mean that it’s unsafe. Fuses are actually quite safe if it’s the right-size fuse matched against the wire that’s hooked up to that circuit.
And so, to know if that’s the case, somebody has to open the panel and say, “OK, this is Number 14 wire, so it’s a 15-amp fuse. And this is Number 12 wire, so it’s a 20-amp fuse,” and so on and physically write that right above the fuse on the panel so you know what size to put in there. Because it’s too easy, with a fuse box, to put in a 20-amp fuse on a wire that’s only rated for 15 amps. Then, of course, that’s potentially unsafe.
So, it does sound like you need another electrician. It’s obviously not a do-it-yourself project. And unless there’s some compelling code reason in your part of the country to put that outside, I don’t understand why they would have done that. And you could consider rerunning it back to the inside and unfortunately, that’s kind of where we’re at. It’s not an easy fix; it’s one that’s going to require the investment of a good electrician.
HEIDI: Alright. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: We’ve got some questions that just came in here this week, starting with Mark in New Jersey.
LESLIE: That’s right. Mark writes: “I’m upcycling some accent pieces that we had in storage for my living room but I’m struggling with putting them together. Is there a secret?”
Well, without actually seeing the pieces or your room, it’s hard to say, “Put this there and put that over here.” But I think you want to try to group things in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
So, maybe try a low arrangement on your coffee table. Add height by leaning artwork against a wall, maybe positioning some items in front of a mirror. You’ve got to layer, layer, layer. So I always like to if I have, say, a standing mirror or a leaning mirror, I maybe put a little pouf or a little ottoman, something like that in front of it, just off to the corner, or maybe a little stack of decorative boxes with something like a vase or something decorative on top.
For coffee tables, it depends on how big that coffee table is and if you actually use that table or if it’s more for just showing the room. If it’s just for showing the room, I always like to do staggered layers of different books at different heights. You could always buy books by the foot in different colors, from a bunch of vendors online. And that really helps create a cohesive look with books or at least a color palette that you’re trying to achieve.
And then I add – I’m really into adding crystals or something natural like some succulents. I always mix up these types of things and that’s really what it’s about: mixing metals, mixing organics, mixing color, something like that. And you’ll be on your way to a great space.
TOM: Alright. For the rest of the guys in America that are with me, I have to ask you: what’s a pouf?
LESLIE: A pouf is like a small, round, ottoman. They’re like Moroccan poufs, like the leather ones that come in a bunch of really fantastic colors. And they have an overlay embroidery, sometimes, in the same color or a different color. They’re called “poufs.”
TOM: I had no idea.
LESLIE: Pouf. Not like magic.
TOM: Fantastic. I learned something new today: a pouf.
LESLIE: A pouf.
TOM: It’s all those technical terms.
LESLIE: It’s a fun one.
TOM: Alright. We’ve got another question – another décor question – from Sarah in Oregon. She says, “I like my neutral bedroom but it lacks personality. Are there ways to make it more interesting without adding color?”
I guess she loves the neutral but she, at the same time, wants to spice it up a little bit but not change the paint color, I guess.
LESLIE: I mean I think it’s the same thing here, Sarah. With neutral colors, remember that a neutral color is many colors. There’s neutral forms of gray, shades of white, shades of beige. There’s all different tones within that neutral family. So you can layer in those tonal differences in that some color family.
Plus, if you add in things like different stones or rocks – again, crystals are really fantastic and I’m not talking about ooh, a shiny something, I’m talking about more of an organic geode that has a very neutral tone, some organic beads that look like maybe they’re made out of wood. You can have – bring in wood bowls, different things like that that have that same sort of neutral palette but different textures, different tones. And that’s really a way to layer it in.
And remember, for your bedding, go different ways, go different fabrics like different linens, different things like that so you can see different textures that make you feel like there’s more color in the room.
TOM: And you know what works well in any room? A pouf.
LESLIE: Now you’re going to use that word all the time.
TOM: All the time.
LESLIE: You’re welcome.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope that we’ve inspired you with some ideas on projects that you can tackle right where you are without having to travel out. There’s lots of things that you can do to make your home safer and more comfortable and more pleasant to spend time in, both inside and out.
Remember, if you’ve got questions, we are here with you. We are available, 24/7, by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
For now, that’s all the time we 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.)
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