In this episode…
Could germs actually be lurking in your laundry? It may seem counterintuitive, but for the health, safety and cleanliness of your family, it’s important to actually wash your washing machine. Tom & Leslie tell you how to deep clean your machines, just ahead.
- Summer is only a few weeks away when air conditioning will be a big part of our comfort plan. But when it comes to AC, the refrigerant that we’ve relied on for decades, known as “freon” has now been banned by the EPA! We’ll talk through your options for a cool and comfortable home.
- It may not be your favorite household chore – but mowing your lawn is an important part of making sure it looks good and stays healthy. But there is a right and wrong way to cut your grass. We’ll share that tip.
- And can repairing a cracked foundation be a DIY project? The answer is – Maybe! We’ll share what you can do to fix a foundation crack, and let you know when it’s time to call in a pro.
Plus get answers to your home improvement questions about, installing a pressure balancing valve, steam clean carpets to eliminate odors, repairing bathroom faucets, clean adhesive from tile floor.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here for you. We are your home improvement help, we are your coaches, your advisors. We try to provide tips, ideas and inspiration to avoid the perspiration when it comes to making your house the best it can possibly be. But we need you to participate, too. So if you’ve got a question, if you’ve been staring at four walls and thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m spending so much time in my house these days. I really would like to do something to spruce it up,” you may be surprised with some of the things we come up with. So give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, first, could germs actually be lurking in your laundry? It might seem somewhat counterintuitive but for the health, the safety and the cleanliness of your family, it is actually important to wash your washing machine. Yes, we said, “Wash your washer.” We’re going to tell you how to deep-clean that machine, just ahead.
LESLIE: And summer is only a few weeks away, when air conditioning is going to be a big part of your comfort plan. But when it comes to A/C, the refrigerant we’ve all relied on for decades, known as Freon, has now been banned by the EPA. We’re going to talk through your options for a cool and comfortable home.
TOM: And it may not be your favorite household chore but mowing your lawn is an important part of making sure it looks good and stays healthy. But guess what? There’s a right and a wrong way to cut your grass. We’re going to share that tip.
LESLIE: And 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 to you this spring and for many springs to come.
TOM: Those tools are worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Call us now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Brad in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRAD: Live in a house that’s 20 years old.
BRAD: We bought it when it was new. And just recently, we’ve started having issues with the temperature in the shower changing radically when you flush the commode.
BRAD: And I think I understand the physics of what’s going on here. I mean obviously, you’re using a lot of cold water all of a sudden.
BRAD: But what I’m not sure of is why would it start after 20 years? It’s just been a very recent thing and why would it suddenly start? And is there a fix for it?
TOM: Do you have a pressure-balance valve in that shower? Do you know what that is?
BRAD: I do not know what that is but I don’t think I have that, sir.
TOM: OK. So, I don’t know why it’s happening right now but I will tell you that the solution for this is a pressure-balance valve. And that is a type of shower valve and it’s very, very common. So you may have it and I was thinking that maybe it broke down and that’s why this is happening now. But basically, what it does is it maintains the mix between hot and cold water.
TOM: So that if you were to flush a toilet, run a dishwasher, run the washing machine, whatever, even though you have less pressure on one side or the other, it keeps the flow the same.
TOM: So you may have less water flow in terms of how much, how hard that shower feels to you, right? But the mix of cold and hot would never change. And this way, you don’t get the scalding blast or the freezing blast that can really ruin your best day.
BRAD: Yeah. Well, it can certainly wake you up but …
LESLIE: That’s true.
BRAD: So, you’re telling me that I need a pressure-balanced valve on the showerhead?
TOM: Yeah. And not – yeah, that’s a certain type of shower valve, right. It’s for showers and baths.
TOM: It’s called a pressure balance.
BRAD: Alright. So is that something you could add after the fact. Because, like I said, this house was built 20 years ago. I’m not sure if that was a thing back then.
TOM: It was available but I don’t know if it’s installed or not. I would probably change the shower valve at the same time.
TOM: Because it may be right by – it’s probably going to be built right into it.
BRAD: Sounds like a job for my local, friendly plumber.
TOM: I think it is. And it’s not a big job but I think you’ll find it’ll solve your problem.
BRAD: Alright. Very good. Thanks you so much.
TOM: Alright. Yeah, you’re welcome. Good luck with that project.
BRAD: Thank you. Bye-bye.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading to Rhode Island where Meg is experiencing a leaky faucet. What’s going on?
MEG: I had a plumber in and they changed a cartridge in one of the – well, actually, they did both of the handles in my bathroom sink. And when they left, I noticed that the handles don’t turn easily the way they did before the problem.
MEG: And I’m not sure how to – I’ve tried taking whatever those hex wrenches are or whatever to loosen it up in that place and that hasn’t helped it at all. It’s still a very tight swing. I’m wondering how to fix that.
TOM: You know, because they’re new cartridges they’re actually – they’re not going to be as worn as the old ones. So it doesn’t surprise me that they’re tighter. Is it too hard to operate in that case? Is it a matter of just getting used to it?
MEG: I think they’re harder than they should be.
TOM: Why don’t you just call the plumber back and have them fix it?
MEG: Well, I have. Unfortunately, he was away in Europe on his vacation and he’s on a …
TOM: A quarantine?
MEG: Yeah, he’s on a quarantine right now. I’ve tried to fix it myself and frankly, I’ve had problems with this plumber already. They supposedly changed my valves underneath. And after they left – and $225 later – I went under and they didn’t fix a thing.
TOM: Oh, boy.
MEG: So, yeah. So it’s been …
TOM: I’m sorry that happened to you. Maybe it’s time for a new plumber, yeah.
MEG: Oh, it definitely is. Yeah.
TOM: HomeAdvisor has a service where they have the ability to basically purchase small jobs from contractors that are rated and reviewed by fellow shoppers, so to speak. Now, I do know that plumbers are considered essential services right now. So if you did want to have it fixed now, you could. But at the same time, this is more of an inconvenience than something that’s going to get worse over time, so I think – I see no harm in you just waiting it out.
MEG: Exactly. Yeah.
TOM: But you might want to use a service like HomeAdvisor where you can check the reviews against other work the plumber has done, especially since you’ve had now not one but two bad experiences with the present plumber.
MEG: Yeah, they had me order parts for my bathtub, while they were here, that weren’t the correct parts. Because I ended having another plumber come through and say, “Well, I don’t know why he was ordering those. This is what it needs.” He went ahead and put in the right ones and it works beautifully now.
TOM: Well, there you go.
MEG: So, it’s just been …
TOM: Well, maybe you found the plumber you should be hiring for all the projects. It’s this new guy.
MEG: Yeah, I’m definitely going to but I think to pay another …
TOM: No, I know, yeah. You don’t want to pay twice for the same thing. But if the guy is sick, you can’t expect him to be back there now. And even if he does come back, he may not get it right. So, this might just be an opportunity just to chalk it up to experience and move on.
MEG: So is there any way – should I be – and I also mentioned that the base of it – there’s a base and there – the handle itself, when it sits on that base, should fit the design and it’s not exactly fitting the design.
TOM: But it doesn’t? Hmm.
MEG: And I’m wondering if he twisted something, if he used a plier or a wrench on something that I need to do myself, if there’s a way that I can fix that.
TOM: Yeah. Well, it’s really hard for me to tell you what to do without seeing it, obviously. There’s a lot of ways to put together plumbing. And unfortunately, this is not something that I could diagnose for you through this show.
TOM: If you wanted to send me a little video, some photos, you could post those – post that question on MoneyPit.com. I’d be happy to take a look.
But I think, again, it’s not – it’s a minor thing.
TOM: And the other way to approach this is just wait until you have another couple of things that need the same trade and just get them all done at once.
MEG: Yeah. It’s not that it’s not usable. And when I found that one I loosened it with – is it a hex wrench that goes in that tiny hole?
TOM: An Allen wrench.
MEG: Allen wrench, OK.
MEG: When I used that to loosen it up, thinking that would make the swing a little bit easier, all it did was make the whole handle floppy.
TOM: Right. Yeah.
MEG: So, I have to keep – when I turn it, I have to push it down real hard so it doesn’t actually come off in my hand.
MEG: And so I just thought maybe this is a quick fix with getting the wrench either underneath or around the base or something but …
TOM: Yeah. I hear you but I think it’s probably a little bit more than that, because there’s so many things that could be causing what you’re describing. And by the way, he could’ve put in the wrong cartridges, too. You know, it’s another way that this could happen.
MEG: Yeah. Yeah. And I had purchased a cartridge for it, because I’d taken the other one out and matched it up perfectly with the cartridge that it needed and purchased that. And he said, “Well, I’m going to use my own. I have my own cartridges,” and blah, blah, blah.
MEG: “And while I’m here I might as well do the other one,” so I got charged for both of those.
MEG: And the turnoff valve underneath, which wasn’t working to turn the water off, I said, “That needs to be replaced.” And I thought – I mean that’s easy enough; I could do that myself because it didn’t require soldering. But he was like, “Well, as long as I’m here, I should do both of them because they’ll probably go at the same time.” And when he fixed, supposedly, the one for the hot water, I checked it a couple of days later. Decided to take the towels off and just turn it off, just make sure it works. And it worked exactly the way it was before he came: broken.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
MEG: So I’m like, “Did he even do it?”
TOM: Well, you’re not having very much luck with this guy, yeah.
MEG: Oh, my gosh. I’m like …
TOM: Yeah. I would not want this man – based on everything you’re telling me, I would not want this man back in my house. I think you’ve got to go to the plumber you had the positive experience with or go to HomeAdvisor and find a better guy.
MEG: No. And he – exactly. When I called the owner to tell him this was going on, he said, “Well, I’m coming out there to see what’s going on,” like I was the problem.
TOM: Yeah, oh yeah.
MEG: So he comes out. He immediately goes up and turns it on and off like I didn’t know how to do that and realizes, “Oh. OK, well …”
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. There is – sometimes, there is this level of arrogance that goes through tradesmen that is really uncalled for. And it sounds like you just ran into a bit of that.
MEG: Yeah. Well, I – you know what? Somebody told me once before the pen is mightier than the sword. And I will be on Yelp and leaving a few messages for other people to not go through what I went through with this particular plumber so …
TOM: Yeah. Well, take a look at the HomeAdvisor platform, because there’s a lot of information just like that there. If it’s a good experience, they – people comment favorably. And if it’s a bad, you get that, as well.
MEG: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’d like to go outside and do a little spring trimming of your bushes and your trees and your plants, we’ve got a nice tool that we’re giving away, this hour, from a great company: the Centurion Brands large-to-small grip Premium Bypass Pruner. It’s got this bypass feature so that if you’ve got a small grip or a large grip, you can switch it between the two and it can still handle branches up to an inch thick.
It’s got high-carbon steel blades. They’re also Teflon-coated, so they’re not going to stick. And Centurion also gave us an anvil lopper to throw in. So you can have two great tools to help with those projects.
That package is worth 50 bucks. Going to go out to one caller, one listener drawn at random. We don’t care if you’re listening by radio, by podcast, by satellite. Whatever it is, call us, write us, 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Mason on the line. What’s going on at your money pit?
MASON: Whenever I’m in my room, I’m smelling this odor. And whenever I clean the room, I still have the odor smell to it.
MASON: I’ve moved all furniture around and all that but I still – I can’t find the source of the odor.
TOM: Now, is this an older house or a newer house?
MASON: I believe a newer house.
TOM: And how long has this been going on, Mason?
MASON: Ever since we moved into the house, which was back in September.
TOM: And is this house in the first floor or the second floor? Describe to me where it is in the building.
MASON: It’s the first floor.
TOM: And what’s underneath of it?
MASON: I think concrete and all that. I’m not sure.
TOM: So it’s a slab? You don’t have a basement underneath where this room is?
MASON: No, sir.
TOM: OK. Sometimes, the smells are because we get rodents. We get mice, especially, that get into the walls and sometimes they’ll die there. But it usually will eventually dissipate, so that’s one thing that comes to mind. Is it on – what’s the floor covering? Is it carpet?
MASON: Yes, sir. It’s carpet.
TOM: Have you tried to steam-clean the carpet?
MASON: No, I have not.
TOM: I think that’s your next step here. You’re going to have to take all the furniture out of that room and you can rent a steam cleaner. They’re not very expensive. I know in my area the supermarkets rent them and the home centers rent them. And while you’re at it – usually, you have to have it for half-a-day – it would be a great opportunity for you to do some spring cleaning of other rooms in the house with carpet.
But it basically shoots water into the carpet and then it draws that dirty water back out again. And it does a really good job of cleaning carpet. And sometimes with carpet, you can get a lot of dirt and dust mites and organic particles of different forms that get stuck in that carpet. And that can contribute to the odor, as well. So if you have not done that, I would definitely do that as a next step.
And then beyond that, with the walls, if there’s any odor that’s emanating from those walls, the next time you paint the room, I would prime everything, which will seal those walls in. And then you can put a topcoat above that.
MASON: OK. I’ll try that.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. Do the cleaning – carpet-cleaning first. It’s very easy. You can be done within a few hours.
MASON: Alright, thank you. Awesome. Big fan of you all.
TOM: Oh, thanks very much. Good luck with that project.
MASON: Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, landscaping is one of the most cost-effective improvements that a homeowner can make. But whether you’re starting from scratch or you need a total yard makeover, planning that space on paper before you put your shovel in the ground can help make sure that it comes out perfectly.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. So, we’ve boiled this down to really four things you need to consider. First, what will the space be used for and who is going to use it? Is it a kids’ play space, a garden, a casual kind of chill space or is it going to be your showpiece? Next, once you know that, you’ve got to prioritize your wish list: your needs versus what you might like to have. If you can sort that out, it’s going to help you make the rest of the decisions you need to get it built out.
LESLIE: Now, next, you’ve got to decide how much time you’re willing to set aside for maintenance. And this really is a big one, because the best-laid plans won’t pan out if you’re not willing to put in the time and effort to maintain them. And of course, your budget. How much do you want to spend on the project and then the maintenance to follow?
TOM: I can’t tell you how many times, in the years I spent as a professional home inspector, I saw yards that once were perfectly designed and maintained but then sort of fell by the wayside. You can tell at one point somebody put time and effort and care into creating this beautiful space but then just totally let it go. So that’s a really important point you just made. Make sure that you plan something that’s going to be doable for you to take care of as the years go on.
Landscaping is really a great way to quickly increase your home’s value with very little cost. So, think about what you can do to spruce up that space this spring and it’ll give you enjoyment and value for years to come.
LESLIE: Pat in Louisiana is on the line and needs some help with a cleaning project. What can we do for you?
PAT: We had our carpet cleaned about a year ago. And in this bedroom, we have a heavy, clear, plastic mat that goes underneath the computer chair.
PAT: Well, recently, I moved it over a bit and I noticed that it was wet underneath it.
PAT: There’s no leak in the roof; water hasn’t come in the house. So only thing that could be is a year ago, the water from the carpet-cleaning service got underneath this mat and it’s been there all this time.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
PAT: So, we cut out a large circle, like a 5-foot circle, and got all the part out that was wet. So we’re going to have to replace the carpet and the pad. But on the concrete – the bare concrete – there are some spots of discoloration, so I don’t know if that’s mold or mildew. My question is: how do I clean that concrete before we have the new carpet installed?
TOM: The concrete spots, if anything, are mineral-salt deposits; it’s not mold.
TOM: And so, it’s really cosmetic at this point. If you can wash it down with a vinegar-and-water solution, it’ll melt the mineral-salt deposits away.
But the other thing that occurs to me is sometimes, concrete will draw moisture into a house. And so if anywhere near that area outside you’ve got water that’s ponding or collecting, it’s possible for the concrete to sort of draw that moisture up into the slab and across. And it may not have been able to evaporate where the pad was covering the concrete, which is why that area stayed damp, whereas the other area dried out. So there may be a different explanation as to why that stayed wet.
One of the things that you might want to do, since you have the carpet pulled all the way back, is to paint the concrete. Paint that area with an epoxy paint. That will seal in that concrete and stop some of the evaporation if the moisture is being drawn through it and up into the floor surface.
PAT: So, should I – we paint the whole room? We don’t have all of the carpet up yet; we just cut out the middle part.
TOM: Well, if you’re going to take all the carpet up, then paint the whole floor. If you’re only going to take part of it up, then just paint what you can get to. But I would definitely paint the floor.
TOM: That’ll do it. Pat, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, overall, home heating and cooling account for nearly half of home energy use. And it’s responsible for nearly 100 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions every year. But when it comes to cooling, the refrigerant that we’ve relied on for decades is known as Freon or more accurately, R22. But as of this past January, the EPA has banned further production of Freon and is now requiring manufacturers to switch to a newer and more Earth-friendly alternative.
LESLIE: That’s right. With us to talk about how this could impact those with existing cooling systems, as well as those who are buying new systems, is Andy Armstrong, the vice president of sales and marketing for Fujitsu.
TOM: Welcome, Andy.
ANDY: Thank you very much. Great to be with you.
TOM: Hey, so I first have to tell you as we sit here in the studio doing this interview, right now, I’m glancing up at my Fujitsu split-ductless. We’ve had this in the studio for years because it keeps us cool and it’s, of course, very quiet which is very important for a broadcasting studio. But what do folks like me and the millions that are like me, who have existing systems – how are they going to be able to work with these new requirements? If the system fails, are we going to have to replace it?
ANDY: It’s a great question and it’s absolutely not required that you replace it. It’s just time to think about it. These systems have been in place for quite a while. All manufacturers who supply products to the U.S. have been building non-R22 products for at least 10 years. We knew this was coming. The EPA has phased us out gradually over time.
So, if you happen to have a system that has R22 in it, it’s probably been in your home 10 or 12 years and is getting close to the end of its useful life anyway. So, there’s a couple of options for you at this time, though. There still is R22 refrigerant available and it will be for a while.
ANDY: It’s just time to think about whether or not to change out that system because A, it’s older and B, that R22 is going to become less readily available. And when that happens, the old law of supply and demand comes into play and the price goes up.
LESLIE: Now, you can’t then use the newer coolant in that old system? They’re not interchangeable? It’s like you can’t mix diesel with regular fuel sort of thing?
ANDY: It’s exactly that. They use a different type of oil and it will cause tremendous problems inside your system if you try to use one to replace the other. So it’s possible to fill it up with the refrigerant and make it work and get it up and running.
But the challenge is is the reason it probably needs refrigerant is there’s probably a leak in the system somewhere. Those systems are sealed and the refrigerant is supposed to stay in there for the life of the system. So if you do need refrigerant, there’s probably indications that there’s a bigger problem within the system and equally important, a huge chance to upgrade the efficiency of your system and save some money.
TOM: Now, the reason that this is happening is because the EPA is moving us towards more Earth-friendly alternatives for refrigerants. Those that are more ozone-friendly won’t impact the atmosphere. So, what are the new refrigerants that are going to be going into systems in the future, Andy?
ANDY: Yeah, the ones that we’ve been using for the past 10 years are – it’s called R410A and it is not threatening to the ozone in the slightest. And that one has been a very effective refrigerant for us and is keeping millions of your listeners comfortable right now. The industry has made that switch and is pretty comfortable with it. It’s going well.
But for your listeners, over the next three to five years, we as manufacturers are going to be choosing a new refrigerant that has lower global-warming potential. So we’re not only fighting the situation with the ozone but we’re also fighting the global-warming potential of these gases. And R410A and R22 both are not terribly friendly to the environment in that way.
So, over time, there’s going to be another refrigerant. But for right now, R410 is a wonderful option for heating and cooling. And over time, your contractors will be able to make you aware of new choices down the road.
LESLIE: I mean Andy, these are all smart moves that you can make for your home and for the Earth itself but let’s talk about the efficiencies. Are we just going to see things that are much more financially efficient for us as the homeowner and we’ll see savings in the long run? Or are we going to notice a lot of other changes throughout?
ANDY: Great question. The reality is that the system is – that has R22 in it – the chances are very good that it is a 10- or 12-SEER system. And that’s what is was when it was new.
Now, the products are significantly more efficient. And you can increase your efficiency by a factor of three, so tremendously reducing what it costs not only to cool your home – but also with the new high-efficiency, high-quality heat pumps, you can cover a lot of that heating, as well, which can take a lot of the carbon out of the air from the natural gas or oil that you’re using to heat your home. So a lot of really good options. More friendly for the environment because you’re not only using less power but you have a more friendly refrigerant inside the system.
TOM: That’s a great point and you mentioned just briefly before – I want to point this out, though. You mentioned the SEER, the seasonal energy efficiency ratio. That’s the – that’s a way that consumers can compare and contrast systems. If they used to see 8 to 10, what are they going to be looking for with these new systems that are more efficient?
ANDY: Well, the Fujitsu systems peak out at 33 SEER, so getting significantly better. And you’re really talking about pennies compared to what you might be paying now. So it can really reduce your bill by a significant amount.
TOM: We’re talking to Andy Armstrong, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Fujitsu, about the phaseout of the refrigerants in air-conditioning system across the country. Freon is leaving and more efficient, more Earth-friendly products are coming to market and they’re being incorporated into new systems. Andy has created a great post just for us called “A Homeowner’s Guide to the EPA’s 2020 Freon Phaseout.” It’s live on the home page of MoneyPit.com right now. And it will walk you through everything you need to know, as well as provide helpful links to more information.
So, Andy, what’s next for Fujitsu?
ANDY: The reality is is we, as a country, are starting to strategically electrify the grid. And that basically means we’re trying to take carbon out all across the country. And if you pay attention closely to the news, you’re hearing cities ban natural gas in new construction. They’re finding better ways to incentivize all-electric homes. And Fujitsu’s paying very close attention to that.
And with our high-quality, efficient heat pumps, we’re able to heat and cool in most of the U.S.A. today. It’s only the most cold corners of the country where we are not able to completely cover heating and cooling. As you look at what Fujitsu can bring into the home, you’re not only talking efficiency, you’re talking comfort. We do a tremendous job just putting the comfort in the room you need and when you need it, as opposed to trying to heat and cool the whole home at one time. So that is just another way to make your home more efficient and more comfortable.
TOM: Andy Armstrong, the vice president of sales and marketing.
Thank you so much, Andy, for stopping by The Money Pit. And again, Andy’s post, “A Homeowner’s Guide to the EPA’s 2020 Freon Phaseout,” is on the home page of MoneyPit.com right now.
Thanks again, Andy.
ANDY: Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, now that the warmer weather has returned and we’re all itching to get outside in our yards more and do some projects around the house, Centurion has a great prize up for grabs for us this hour. We’ve got the Premium Bypass Pruner and it features a large-to-small grip. You can actually flip a switch and it can work for a bigger hand like Tom or a smaller hand like mine. And it’s great for cutting a variety of different types and sizes of branches.
It features a high-carbon blade, so it’s going to stay sharper longer, which will help you do a lot of projects around your yard this spring season and for many spring seasons to come. And as an added bonus, we’re throwing in an anvil lopper, so two tools for the price of one question. How about that?
TOM: That package of Centurion tools is worth over 50 bucks, so give us a call with your question. You might just win it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Dottie in Oregon, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DOTTIE: We have a patio that had some cracks in it. It is exposed aggregate. My husband dug it out and filled in the cracks. Now, our question for you is: is there a sealer with some colorant that we could use over the whole area?
TOM: I think what you’re asking us for is a concrete stain. Sealers are always clear. So, if you’ve got this crack filled in and you’ve got some color to that, then what you’re going to have to do is stain the concrete to match that and then you could seal it. But you’d have to stain it. And if you’re going to stain concrete, you would use an acid stain.
DOTTIE: OK. Is there anything you can recommend?
LESLIE: QUIKRETE makes a great one in a couple of good colors. More neutral than anything a little crazy but it’s an easy-to-apply product. You’re going to get some great coloration there. And you know what? It’s a reputable brand; they know what they’re doing. So I would start there.
DOTTIE: Oh, that sounds great. And I really love your show.
TOM: Thank you very much, Dottie. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Well, if you think the best way to save time and energy when cutting the grass is to set your mower as low as possible so you don’t have to do it that often, you might be surprised to find out that it can actually end up being more work in the long run. We’re going to walk you through the right way to save time and keep your lawn looking healthy, in today’s Lawn and Garden Tip presented by Greenworks Tools.
TOM: Well, that’s right. There’s actually a method to cutting the grass that if you can follow can really improve both the look and the health of your lawn. A lot of people figure that the shorter they cut the lawn, the easier it’s going to be to maintain that lawn. But the truth is that the shorter you cut it, the more chance it has of getting scalped or getting weeds that come into the soil.
LESLIE: Yeah. And ultimately, that lawn is going to be even more work to maintain. Because not only do you have to get that grass to grow again, you then have to get rid of all the weeds that grew because that lawn was cut so short. It actually gets in between all of that grass.
Now, the reason is interesting. The longer the grass is, the more it creates a little bit of shade and it actually stops the weeds from growing in. So, in a way, grass is actually a shade plant. And because of all this, in the spring it’s the best to cut the lawn at a medium/low height. But in the summer, you can cut it higher.
TOM: And that’s today’s Lawn and Garden Tip presented by Greenworks Tools, makers of the new Greenworks 60-Volt family of tools, the most innovative technology in battery-powered outdoor tools. With ultimate performance, superior run-time, they’re here to change the game and they’re not done yet. Sold exclusively at Lowe’s Home Improvement.
LESLIE: Dave in South Carolina is on the line with a question about some adhesive on a floor. What’s going on?
DAVE: What’s the best way to get the cement floor and whatever the adhesive is – how to get that up without having to tear the floor up, you know?
TOM: So you had subfloor. Did you expose this floor? Was it – did it have some other kind of flooring on top of it first?
DAVE: Yes. Mm-hmm. Yeah, like a laminate that had been glued down.
TOM: And once you got that up, you saw all this adhesive there. Now, even though there’s adhesive there, you can probably put more floor over that as long as it’s not too darn bumpy. So, there are some citrus-based solvents that could help you with some of that. But look, no matter how you go about this, it is a big, tough job to do. So I would tell you to, perhaps, just do the minimum that you have to do.
And I would also caution you that when you put the new floor over it, I would choose a stiffer floor. So, for example, I might not use engineered-vinyl plank on this. I might use hardwood, engineered hardwood or solid hardwood, because it’s not going to show the slight unevenness of the layers of glue in that subfloor as much. Does that make sense?
DAVE: That makes a lot of sense. I had thought about maybe graduating to a push rotary orbital sanding.
TOM: But still, you have all those tools at your disposal. But even if you had that, my concern would be that the belts would fill up quickly with that adhesive. It’s just so darn gooey.
DAVE: Mm-hmm. I know.
TOM: I would just get up as much as you can, any way you can, and then I would us a stiffer floor product than – as opposed to a softer one. I wouldn’t use a sheet product. I may not even use EVP. I’d use maybe a good-quality laminate floor or engineered hardwood or solid hardwood.
Take a look at Lumber Liquidators. They’re got a great selection there. You ought to be able to find something that fits the bill.
DAVE: OK. That’s great advice, man. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your question at The Money Pit’s Facebook page.
Now, Casey in Shreveport, Louisiana has a pretty big question. She says, “My house was built in 1962 and there’s a hairline crack in the corner of the foundation. Is there a DIY way to fill that crack myself? How sellable is a house with a crack in the foundation?”
TOM: Well, I can see why you’re concerned about that, Casey, but the truth is that virtually every house has cracks in it, in the walls or in the foundation. And if it’s a hairline crack, if it’s a very minor crack like that, it’s typically nothing to worry about.
Now, there’s not really a way to fix it, in other words, put it back together. It’s not like you can glue it back together. But I would say that if you’re getting moisture that’s leaking through that, it would be smart to seal it. And you can do that simply with a silicone caulk. You can get it clear, you can get it gray and you can essentially just go right over that crack. A very small bead will do it. Because it’s hairline, it’s going to kind of sit on top of it, so it may actually be much more visible after you do this repair than before.
In terms of selling the home, look, I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector, saw this all the time. Unless it’s shifted or moved or the walls have separated, I don’t think it’s really going to be a problem for you.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up here, we’ve got a post from Tim who writes: “I recently inherited a house that has not been occupied in over five years. The electricity is questionable in two of the rooms, I’m not sure about HVAC and there’s been water in the basement. Floors, walls, ceilings look good but the roof has three layers on it. Should I try to repair or get rid of it as is? I’m not handy and I don’t have a big budget.”
TOM: Well, look, Tim, it’s never a bad thing when you inherit a house even if it is a real-life money pit. None of the things that you mentioned are insurmountable. If the basic foundation and framing and roof are intact, everything else is totally fixable.
Now, even though these things can be fixed, it’s also a question of economics and skills and time. If the projects are too much for you, you could consider selling the home as is but don’t give it away. These problems you mentioned are entirely repairable and for a lot less than the value of the home. I would start with the big structural things first, like replacing the roof and the mechanical systems, fix up the HVAC and the electricity and then do all the cosmetic improvements later.
LESLIE: And Tim, check out on MoneyPit.com. We’ve got lots of solutions there for basement water. It’s a super-easy fix and enjoy the home.
TOM: Well, even a tiny water leak can cause a lot of damage over time. But if you’ve got a spare half-hour, you can actually check for leaks in and under all the sinks in your home. Leslie will tell you how, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. Here’s the best way to check for leaks in sinks. First of all, turn each faucet on and run it at full blast for a minute or two. Then, with a bright flashlight, inspect that drain under your sink. Now, if no leak is spotted, you can close the stopper and let the sink fill up until it hits the overflow. Now, don’t walk away during this part because some faucets can fill a sink faster than that overflow drain can actually drain it and then you’re going to run into another problem. So, keep an eye on it. Otherwise, you’re going to be cleaning up a mess.
Now, after the water has been running through that overflow for another minute or two, check the drain under the sink again. If no leak is spotted, your sink is good to go. You can move onto the next sink and repeat.
TOM: Coming up next time on The Money Pit, stone walls? Well, they’re a sign of strength but if it’s built poorly, they’ll crumble in no time. We’re going to give you tips on how to build a stone wall that will stand up to the test of time, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2020 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)
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