In this episode…
Having a small yard or living in an apartment is no reason to give up on the idea of your very own garden, though. Urban and other small space gardeners are making use of containers and vertical space to grow crops like tomatoes, radishes, lettuce and other greens — we’ll show you how. Plus…
- There are many, many things for your home that can be delivered in a box. A beautiful lawn however, is not one of them! But now there’s a service that delivers everything you need to grow a beautiful and earth friendly lawn – in a BOX! We’ll explain.
- Is your dog’s favorite pastime digging holes in the yard? Well, your favorite pastime DOES NOT have to include filling them! Learn how to stop dogs from doing their own form of landscaping, plus learn how to keep pets safe in your yard.
- Have you ever pulled out gross dishes at the end of a dishwasher cycle that remained layered with last night’s dinner? The problem might be the way the machine is loaded. Get tips to end dirty dish do-overs!
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, getting rid of flies, repairing cracks in a tub finish, installing ice & water shield, building a garage foundation, fixing a squeaky floor, and more!
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 to help you take care of your home and make it the best it can possibly be. If you’ve got questions on how to do that, if you’ve got a project in mind that you’d like to take on, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 24/7. We are available. If we’re not in the studio, we will take your info and call you back the next time we are. You’re also welcome to post your questions on Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. If you tag them #tmpprojects, you might actually win a tool or two from us.
Coming up on today’s show, having a small yard or living in an apartment is no reason to give up on the idea of your very own garden. We’re going to have tips for small-space gardens: how you can use containers and vertical space to grow crops like tomatoes and radishes and lettuce and other great greens. We’ll show you exactly what to do.
LESLIE: And also ahead, there are a lot of things for your home that can be delivered in a box. A beautiful lawn? That’s not really one of them. But there is a service that delivers everything you need to grow a beautiful and Earth-friendly lawn, in a box. We’ll explain.
TOM: And have you ever pulled out gross dishes at the end of a dishwasher cycle, that remain sort of layered with last night’s dinner? The problem is usually the way the machine is loaded. We’re going to have tips on how to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
LESLIE: And also ahead, is your dog’s favorite pastime digging holes in your yard? Because my dog’s is. He really enjoys that a lot. Deep ones where you trip and fall over them. It’s really not a lot of fun.
We’re going to have some tips to help you stop your dog from doing their own landscaping, which is terrible landscaping.
TOM: But most importantly, we want to hear from you. What are you working on? Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, the cool thing about the way we produce The Money Pit and The Money Pit Podcast is that you can call us anytime you hear the show, 24/7. Our screeners never sleep. They’re always there to take your questions. If we’re in the studio, we’ll pick it up but if we’re not, we will still pick up, get some details and call you back the next time we produce the show.
So, let’s get to it, 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Diane in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DIANE: We live in New Jersey. And my dad had the Pennsylvania Dutch come all the way to New Jersey. And they put up a beautiful gambrel pole barn with that nice shape to it.
DIANE: But I noticed there are little rafters along the edge. And even though they have little holes in them, every year the flies come in through there and I have hundreds, all dead, at the end of summer. And I don’t know what I could do to stop that problem.
TOM: So, you have – this is a barn that you have and it’s a fairly open barn? You’re not going to keep the flies out of the barn. You can’t make it that tight because by the nature of the building, it’s pretty drafty, correct?
DIANE: Well, actually, my dad – we never had any animals near stalls but he – it’s completely closed all the time. It’s got two electric doors at either end and a door, so it is contained. The only way they’re getting in is through – under the edges of the roof, there’s a – it looks like a – I don’t know. You know the gutters, sort of? It looks like gutters – gutter situation. And there’s an opening there and the sunlight and the air go through, which I guess you need for animals. But we’re not using it for animals.
TOM: So at the room edge, the rafters, does it have a complete soffit? Is it constructed so that you have a flat, vented area underneath it? Or is it just wide open?
DIANE: No. There is a vented area. They have looked at it closely. And it appears to have – and it’s got little holes in it big enough for flies.
TOM: So they’re not getting in this soffit area where you’re suspecting.
DIANE: I don’t know. I thought they were coming through those holes.
TOM: Yeah. But if they’re that small, they’re not coming in. Look, typically, soffit ventilation is too small for insects to get into. So they’re probably coming in a different way. Do you have a ridge vent at the peak?
DIANE: Actually it’s just for looks because when I – there is a staircase that goes up to the top of the barn and there’s no openings in the roof.
TOM: Diane, if you’re trying to keep these barn flies out of the barn, there’s really two ways to approach this. Mechanical, which is what we’re talking about in terms of making sure that you have screening wherever it’s necessary. And this would include any vents, gable vents, cupola vents, soffit vents and the like. And of course, you mentioned that it has large doors that generally stay closed. I guess there’s not much you can do right there.
But the second technique is chemical. And there are professional pesticides that are designed specifically to deal with these flies. There’s usually some formulation of pyrethrin that essentially is sprayed inside the barn to control these insect populations. And in fact, in some cases where you actually have livestock, there are formulations that can also be applied to the livestock without harming them.
So, I would do two things: I would make sure that I examine the barn very carefully for any additional openings where these flies can get in; and then I would consult a pest-management professional for an appropriate application of pesticide, because you have such a severe problem. I don’t think this is anything you’re going to be able to handle with, say, a more natural, smaller-scale approach like I might give you for your house. In this case, I think you need to choose the right product and have it applied properly. And when done, in accordance with all the label directions, I think it is a relatively safe thing to do.
I hope that helps you out. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tim in New York is having an issue with the tub. What’s going on in your bathroom?
TIM: So, my wife and I moved into our home two years ago and the previous homeowners recently redid the bathroom. It’s very nice but unfortunately, the bathtub has two cracks in it. So I recently had – to be real quick, I recently had a bathtub fitter come in and take a look at it. They can’t do it because they don’t have the molds for it and they would have to cover up the tile anyway. So my question is: is there an easy fix? And even if I had to replace a tub, do I have to take out tile to do so?
TOM: Well, you have to take out probably the first couple of rows of tile. It depends on how difficult it is to get the tub in and out of that space. It’s a pretty big job. It might be that it’s just not worth trying to save the tile. This is the time where you might just want to think about whether or not you could just renovate the entire bathroom. Because frankly, by the time you get that tub out, you’re going to be taking so many other fixtures out of the way to kind of get the tub in and out, you might end up doing that anyway, Tim.
You know, the bathtub is the first thing that goes into a bathroom and everything else works around it or fits around it. And I think the bath-fitter idea was a good one but if they can’t do it, they can’t do it.
TIM: Yeah. I looked up online and they have these epoxies that fix cracks. I don’t think it’s going to work or be a permanent fix. Do you have any knowledge on that?
TOM: That’s true. I would agree with that. It’s very difficult to repair a crack or a chip in a tub. Is it a fiberglass tub?
TIM: It is. It’s a fiberglass tub.
TOM: So, look, they repair fiberglass boats, right? Or fiberglass cars? So you can use – right from an auto-body shop, you can use fiberglass repair compound to fix this. It’s not going to be pretty, right? I mean like a Bondo product or something like that. It’s going to be obvious but if you want to buy yourself some time and use the tub for a while, you could do that.
I had a shower stall once where the fiberglass pan cracked. Then I repaired that with fiberglass and Bondo just by basically applying the fiberglass in a couple of layers and then putting the compound over top of that. And you could see it but it didn’t leak after I fixed it.
TIM: OK. Well, maybe I’ll look into that. The bathroom is so new that I don’t want to rip out, well …
TOM: I know. I hear you. It hurts. And it may be very well that the tub was put in incorrectly. Because when you put in fiberglass tubs, you’re supposed to put a solid fill under them. Usually, you’ll put a loose mix of mortar mix underneath it because it basically gives you something solid to step into, because the tub has some flex.
TIM: Yeah. I don’t think they did that because you could actually feel the tub moving underneath my feet.
TOM: Yeah, yeah. Unfortunately, it sounds like it wasn’t put in right.
TIM: OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. That was very helpful.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to head on over to Ohio where Norma is dealing with some roof leaks. What’s going on?
NORMA: In the back of the house, near my glass sliding doors – was leaking.
NORMA: I could see the ceiling there was water coming in around the doors and leaking down into the track for – of the door. And that happened right after we had a really deep freeze here. And I believe the ice froze up, melted some and then froze back up again. And I looked it up and I think it’s called “ice jam” or something like that.
TOM: Ice dam.
NORMA: Ice dam. OK.
TOM: Yep. OK.
NORMA: Actually, I was close.
TOM: You were close, yep.
NORMA: Uh-huh. And so I called a roofing company and actually, they came out. And they told me I need a whole new roof, which is going to cost me about $20,000 because I’ve got a lot of roof.
TOM: Of course they did. How old is your roof?
NORMA: We replaced it in 2010 – 8 or 10.
TOM: Well, then that’s …
LESLIE: That’s a new roof.
TOM: Let me ask you something. You’ve got homeowners insurance?
TOM: Well, ice damming is covered by homeowners insurance. You need to call your insurance company, maybe even a public adjuster, and tell them you had ice-dam damage and it needs to be fixed. Because to fix the ice-dam damage, they have to remove the roof. So guess what? You get a new roof paid for by them.
NORMA: Oh. Even if it’s just in one spot?
TOM: Yeah. Because you can’t just fix one spot. An ice dam’s an ice dam. If it’s covered, it’s covered.
NORMA: Oh, OK. And see, the other thing they said – that the roofing around the vent thing that comes out the bathroom – you know what I mean?
NORMA: It’s a vent on top of your roof.
NORMA: And they said that the roofing was sort of – not all the way – it wasn’t laying flat around that. Because I had some …
TOM: Well, look – listen, first of all, I don’t like this roofing company because I just think that they’re telling you a tale here to try to get to your wallet.
LESLIE: To try to get more money.
TOM: I mean the roofs never lay perfectly flat around plumbing-vent flashings because the flashing is under the shingles. And it basically makes the seal between the vent and the roof. So, that’s kind of not true, alright?
TOM: So I would – first of all, I would call my insurance company, report that you had an ice dam. And if they give you a hard time, find a public adjuster because public adjusters work for you and they get a percentage of the claim. And they usually find a lot more than the insurance-company adjuster does. So they kind of pay for themselves. Let them fight the battle.
But to fix this, the roof comes off. There’s a type of roofing material called “ice-and-water shield.”
NORMA: Yes. That’s what they said I didn’t have.
TOM: It goes up about 3 feet from the edge of the roof, up into the roof, up over the sheathing. And then once that’s down, then shingles go back down on top of that.
TOM: So, that’s what causes it and that’s the fix. And the good news is that homeowners covers it because it’s storm damage.
NORMA: Yeah, it is storm damage. You’re right. OK. I never thought about it like that.
NORMA: Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome.
NORMA: So I could call my insurance and get that repaired. And the second thing you said was – that I was noting, that I’ve already forgotten. What was the other thing you said?
TOM: What? About the vent – plumbing vent – or about the type of insurance adjuster to use?
NORMA: Oh, yeah. Public adjuster. Is that what you called it?
TOM: Public adjuster. Yep. Public adjuster. Correct.
NORMA: Yeah, OK. Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Glad we were able to help you out.
We may have saved that young lady 20,000 bucks, Leslie.
LESLIE: She was so excited. She didn’t even know.
TOM: Well, having a small yard or living in an apartment is no reason to give up on the idea of your very own garden. Because as the saying goes, where there’s a will, there is definitely a way.
LESLIE: Right. So, first, let’s talk about containers. Now, in general, the larger the container the more crops you can grow. And you’re also going to need a variety of depths, as well, because that will determine what you can plant in which container.
So, if you’re looking at some crops like chives, basil, radishes and lettuce, those are going to do fine in fairly shallow containers because – you know, something that’ll hold 4 to 5 inches of soil. But other crops like onions, mint, peas, garlic, even bush beans, those need at least 6 inches of soil to thrive. So you’ve got to determine what you’re growing and how deep of a soil you need for that planter.
Now, you want to make sure, also, that they have drainage holes. If not, you’re going to need to drill a few holes in each container so that the roots of the plants aren’t sitting in water at the bottom of the pot. They’ve got to drain that water out so the soil stays moist but the roots aren’t drowning.
And you’ll also need something for upward-growing plants, like a tomato, to climb on and be supported. So these are a couple of things you’ve got to think about when you’re choosing what you want to grow.
TOM: Right. Next, you want to think about whether you’re going to go with seeds or plants. If you have options, I say it’s great to get those seeds going indoors, under grow lights, and then transplant the seedlings to your containers. But you also, today, can order a complete garden kind of ready to plant.
In fact, our friend Jenn Nawada, who’s the new landscaping pro on This Old House has started – did you see this, Leslie? She’s got the Boston Victory Gardens now. You can order a complete vegetable garden, in a box, and have it delivered fully planted right to your doorstep.
It’s a really cool idea. They have all different types of garden-like varieties. Their website is BostonsVictoryGardens.com.
LESLIE: Makes it easy and you get exactly what you need to be successful, which is what I always like.
You’ve got to keep in mind, also, guys, that most plants do require about 6 hours, at least, of sunlight a day to do well. So if your gardening space doesn’t get that much, you’ll either have to stick with varieties that can do successful growing with less sunlight.
And also, you’ve got to think about your plan for watering. Now, you can order a really simple drip-irrigation system. Or if you’re going to water by hand, you do have to keep in mind that there are going to be days when you need to water those plants at least twice. So you need to make sure that you’re up for the commitment.
TOM: Yeah. And one more thing. If you add mulch to the top of your containers, that can help keep the soil from drying out quickly, as well.
So, all in all, even though you’ve got a small space, you’ve got lots of options to grow a beautiful garden. I wonder – I remember one of my very successful early gardening projects was basil. I grew it in a box that hung off the balcony of a condominium I was living in. And I didn’t start it from a seed. I bought it in the supermarket and it had roots attached and I thought, “Hmm. I wonder …” And wouldn’t you know, we had the huge basil plant filling up the whole half of the balcony all summer long. It was awesome.
So, if there’s a will, there’s a way. You ought to really spend some time and get into it, because I think it’s a really worthwhile project to take on.
LESLIE: Dan in Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. What are you working on?
DAN: I’m getting ready to build a steel building. And I was wondering how thick to make the concrete, though. I’ve had different people tell me different thicknesses and everything, so I was just wanting to get you all’s opinion on it.
TOM: OK. So you’re building a steel building, like for a garage?
DAN: It’s going to be part of a garage and part barn.
DAN: It’s 30×50 and it’s 15 feet high.
TOM: And you’re going to put a concrete slab and then build the building above it?
DAN: Yeah. On top of it, yes. And in one section of it, I want to put one of those vehicle lifts in it.
TOM: So, you really need to have a foundation for that. Where do you live in the country?
DAN: I live in southwest part of Virginia: Tazewell County, to be exact.
TOM: Alright. So you do get some winter there, which means the ground is going to get frozen. And if the slab is not properly anchored with a footing underneath it, not to mention the weight of the roof and then the roof with snow and everything else, you’re going to get some – you could have some settling or some cracking.
So, you can do this one of two ways: you can either build a standard foundation out of block or you could do what’s called a “monolithic pour,” which is the concrete basically goes across the floor and then down into sort of a trench around the outside of that building. And that forms, in one piece, the footing and the slab together. And this way, you’ll be in good shape.
Now, in terms of that lift – that vehicle lift – you might even dig it out a little bit more in that area where the lift’s going to be and make that area – the slab a little bit thicker. Just make sure you have some extra support in the middle of the floor. Alright?
I hope that helps you out. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Well, there are many, many things for your home that can be delivered in a box. A beautiful lawn, however, isn’t one of them.
TOM: Well, true. But now a new company called Sunday is ready to bring overdue change to the lawn-care experience by, essentially, determining and delivering everything that you need to grow a beautiful and Earth-friendly lawn, in a box. Coulter Lewis is the founder of Sunday and joins us now to explain how.
COULTER: Thank you. Thank you, Tom and Leslie. It’s great to be here.
TOM: What an interesting idea. Tell us how Sunday works.
COULTER: So, Sunday is a lawn-care service that’s delivered to your door. So it’s still DIY. But what’s different about what we do is we pull data on your property, your soil, your climate history, your current weather conditions and satellite imagery of your home to create a custom plan that’s delivered to your door. And so what we do is we kind of take all that guesswork and all of that plant science and green-thumbing out of it for our end-users, so our customers can go out there and just care for their lawn and get great results.
TOM: That’s brilliant because so many times when you’re staring at your lawn in early spring thinking, “Hmm. What do I need to do? Do I need to put down fertilizer? Do I need to block the weeds? Should I add some grass seed?” So many questions.
And usually, I see the folks in the home centers and the hardware stores reading, thoroughly, the packaging on all the products and just trying to sort it all out. Because there really is a lot to know.
Now, Leslie, you actually tried this out, at least entered your address. And what do you get on the GetSunday.com website?
LESLIE: Well, I mean first of all, he had a photo aerial view of my home, so that’s totally crazy. But it’s amazing. You knew exactly what the climate was like, what you think – what you project the soil to be, I guess, based on what our region is and maybe other samples you have in there, what – you had so much information already as to what the property is.
And now all I have to do is send in a sample and then everything is formulated exactly to my property, which is fantastic. Because you’re right: it is so much of a science and truly, a science that I don’t understand, I don’t want to understand. I’m so thankful for you to just tell me what to do.
COULTER: You know, that’s where the idea came from. I’m a father of three. I bought a home and I was standing in that aisle in the home improvement store. And I was thinking, “I don’t know what to do.”
COULTER: And I’m kind of into – I was coming from a company where I was involved in agriculture and had some background. And even then, it was still really intimidating and complex. And so that’s – that was – the core idea here was I felt like I was supposed to know this thing and I didn’t. I was kind of a little embarrassed I didn’t know about it. And I wanted to help people through that.
TOM: So, as you’re formulating the recipe, so to speak, for each …
LESLIE: I think you mean as you’re full-on nerding out on my lawn, which I love, from the website.
TOM: Yeah. That too.
TOM: Well, listen, as you’re pulling all this information together, what are some of the things that are most important to think about now in terms of the products we’re actually putting on the lawn? Because I know that coming up with products that are Earth-friendly was important to your mission, as well.
COULTER: Sure, absolutely. So that – whatever they want to do is create an approach that reduced the amount of pesticides and reduced the overall input to the lawn and still got the great results. And really, the way to do that was through this tailoring. And if you match the grass’ needs right when it needs it and you get all that timing right, then you’re able to get away with doing a lot less and still getting those great results.
So it’s – our approach that makes our system more planet-friendly and better for your family and better for the birds and the bees and all those things that we care about has a couple different aspects to it. One is the ingredients. Two is the fact we’re putting on a whole lot less of things and doing it the right way, at the right time, and doing foliar feeding, which is actually more efficient.
But on the ingredient side, yeah, so we use ingredients like molasses. And we actually use recycled food waste. We use seaweed extract. And all of these things go through this entire program. And our formulations were created in partnership with Frank Rossi, who’s our chief science officer. He’s a Ph.D. from Cornell. He has a turf Ph.D., as well, and a leader in the space. And so we looked through these ingredients and a lot of them, he said, “Oh, everyone thinks that corn gluten is a great thing.” And then we looked the data and we say, “Well, it’s not. Even if I went through the industry, there’s no data that supports this thing works.”
And so we did a lot of work digging through all of the natural alternatives, understanding which ones had good data and really showed efficacy. Because at the end of the day, if our customer’s lawns don’t look amazing, we’re out of business. That’s the most important thing.
TOM: We’re talking to Coulter Lewis. He’s the founder and CEO of Sunday, a new service that basically has you test your soil or send in a soil sample. It takes a lot of data, based on your address, and then provides you sort of, in a box, everything you need to create a beautiful lawn for your home, for the entire season and beyond.
So, Coulter, how do these plans work? What does it cost for homeowners to get started with Sunday?
COULTER: Sure. So we sell full-season plans. So when you sign up, you’re going to get three shipments throughout the year – three to four shipments – and multiple applications in each shipment. And typically, plans start about 129 and an average-size lawn is more like 149. So it depends on your lawn’s particular needs. And that covers the entire season’s needs.
And what you’re going to get in the mail is your first box has the nutrient pouches. So it’s a liquid format that you hose on, so it’s very, very easy to use. But also, we include a soil test. And so, that’s kind of an additional perk to our system is that we’re even so dialed in that we really want to know the exact conditions of your soil right now.
TOM: Excellent. Coulter Lewis, the CEO and founder of Sunday, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. What a great way to set yourself up for a beautiful lawn all season long.
If you’d like to learn more, go to their website at GetSunday.com. GetSunday.com. And hey, put in your address. See what they know about where you live. I think you’ll be very, very impressed. That’s GetSunday.com.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever pulled out gross dishes at the end of a dishwashing cycle, that still had everything you ate from last night’s dinner on them, the problem could be the way that you’re loading the machine. See, we yell at you for a reason, guys. You don’t load the machine right, it doesn’t work. So, here are five things to check.
TOM: Yeah. It’s also the kind of thing that everybody has their own personal way to do it, you know?
LESLIE: Yeah, the right way or not.
TOM: My wife loves to put the smaller dishes on the bottom rack and I just feel like that’s wrong. The small dishes go on the big rack. But she thinks that they clean better on the bottom rack and she’s probably right. But it still rubs me the wrong way. Anyway, here’s what you need to know.
First of all, you want to note the flow pattern of the water. Look at where the nozzles are and the position and the width of the spinning sprayers. Think about what could cause one dish to block another. Imagine, in other words, what’s going on inside that thing when all the water’s spraying up.
LESLIE: Yeah. I remember one time my mom put a really large pan flat down on the bottom. So anything that was spraying up pushed (inaudible).
TOM: It just didn’t get there, right? Yeah.
LESLIE: It just didn’t go anywhere. So I was like, “Ugh. That’s not going to work.”
And the other favorite is when the dish blocks the little pop-out tray with the detergent, so it doesn’t ever actually open. So, there’s a lot of things you’ve got to look at.
Now, you also want to think about gaps. Water has got to hit the surface of every dish in order to get that dish clean. So if you’re cramming those dishes in right on top of each other, you’re going to end up with dirty dishes. You’ve got to keep a space between every item so that the soap and water can jet past it and clean all the surfaces. Don’t crowd it, guys.
TOM: Yeah. Now, if you want to sort of clean a big dish, put it on the top rack, like what Leslie was saying. If you put a big dish on the bottom rack, then it’s going to block all of the water from getting up above that. So, bowls, cups, pots, measuring spoons, they can all form a catching surface that stops the vertical and horizontal water from getting around and over them. So put those bowls, cups and pots in the top tray so they don’t block the water from below.
LESLIE: Alright. Another thing you have to do is think about your silverware. And if they’ve got a lot of food caked on them – cheese, pasta, whatever it is – soak them a little bit before you put them in the dishwasher, because you’ve got to loosen up those things that are stuck to them. And you want to put the silverware into the trays with the forks and spoons pointing up, handles down and the knives pointing down, handles up for safety.
Now, one more thing you have to do is make sure to only put three or four utensils max in each little compartment. Otherwise, they’re just going to get piled up on top of each other and they’re not going to get clean.
TOM: Yeah. And finally, let’s end the argument about whether you need to pre-rinse the dishes. The answer is not always. It depends on the machine, because some machines have what’s called a “turbidity sensor.” And if the dishes are dirty, it actually will run longer to get them clean. So, if you have to leave a little baked-on crud on the piece, it’s probably OK; it will fall to the bottom. And some of the better machines also have food – like sort of a grinding, food processor-type wheel so it won’t clog up any drains.
But watch it and learn. It is possible that you can get this thing tweaked so it doesn’t deliver dirty dishes. And if it does, it’s probably from one of the reasons we just pointed out.
LESLIE: Nancy in Georgia is dealing with some flooring squeaks. What is going on at your money pit?
NANCY: I’m hoping you can tell me.
LESLIE: Well, tell us where you’re hearing them. What kind of floor? When does it happen?
NANCY: The house is 48 years old.
NANCY: And I have pulled up the carpet that was in there and I’d like to put hardwood. But there’s a squeak right in the doorway. It’s in the top floor of my two-story home.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.
NANCY: And I can’t get to the flooring unless I tear out the ceiling of my dining room.
TOM: Yeah, you’re thinking you have to deal with this from the bottom and that’s not the case.
Now, when you took the carpet up, what are you looking at? Are you looking at plywood? Like old plywood?
NANCY: Subfloor is what – I mean it …
TOM: Yeah, subfloor. Right. So it’s probably old …
LESLIE: It’s like a solid subfloor. It’s not slats where you can see through.
NANCY: No, it’s 8x4s maybe or 8×6. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Right. That’s plywood. OK.
So, what you want to do here – and this is typical. What you need to do is you need to figure out where the floor joists are under that floor. And it’s not that hard to do because if you look at the floor itself, you’re going to see a nailing pattern where the floor joists are running. They’re probably going to be every 16 inches and they’re going to go from the back wall of your house towards the front wall.
And what you want to do is screw – where those nailheads are, you want to drive a drywall screw through the floor and tighten up the flooring. Because what’s happening is the flooring is loose in that area. And as you step on the floor and you get that squeak – squeaks happen for one of two reasons. It’s either because the floorboards themselves – the plywood itself is moving against the adjoining seam and squeaking, right? Or it could be that the plywood is pulling the nail in and out of the floor joist below and that’s squeaking.
But when you screw the floor down as opposed to nailing it down, you tighten everything up. And it’s a really good idea to do that before you carpet. Because even though you found one now, chances are the minute you put that floor down, you’ll find three more. So if you screw that floor down – all that subfloor down – nice and tight using these long drywall screws, which you can drive in with a drill, you’re going to find that that floor is going to be a lot quieter in the long run.
NANCY: OK. I want to put hardwood over it. Can I put those under hardwood?
TOM: Sure. Yeah, they’re going to be flush with the surface when you’re done.
What kind of hardwood are you – you’re going to use solid hardwood or you want to use engineered or what?
NANCY: I want to use solid hardwood. I have hardwood in the hallway that it meets and then I have tile in the bathroom.
NANCY: And so I have the spaces there for me to use the hardwood. And I’m in the South, so it’s not as expensive here.
TOM: Yeah, you could use prefinished hardwood or you could use raw hardwood and finish it yourself. There’s a lot of options in prefinished today, though. It’s beautiful. And the floor finishes are actually tougher than what you can apply on your own.
NANCY: That’s what I’m thinking. And I’m thinking I’ll have to pull the baseboards.
TOM: Yes, absolutely.
NANCY: And leave some space – a little space – between the wall and the flooring.
TOM: Yes, that’s correct.
NANCY: I laid the hall – OK.
TOM: Yep. Yep, that’s correct. Yeah, you’ve got the right idea. Yeah, just make sure you screw that subfloor down with those long drywall screws or wood screws that you put in with a drill. Typically, they’re going to have a Phillips or they’ll have a hex head and you can just drill them right in. OK?
NANCY: Mm-hmm. OK. I’m familiar with those. That’s fantastic.
NANCY: Alright. I appreciate your help so much.
TOM: You’ve got it, Nancy. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Alright. Joseph B. reached out on Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and he writes: “Both our front and back porches are concrete and were originally painted when the house was built in 1950. They still have some paint on them after 70 years.”
LESLIE: That is some good paint.
LESLIE: “My question is: what’s the best way to easily clean them and then repaint them to have them look new again?”
TOM: Well, again, that’s amazing that it lasted all those years. But I think the first thing you need to do is to scrape or wire-brush any old, loose paint that is there and then clean the surface.
Now, if you use a pressure washer or you hose it off, make sure you give it a few days to dry and dry – nice, dry, sunny weather before you paint. And as for that paint, I’d suggest you take a look at the Rust-Oleum Concrete and Driveway Paint. It’s got a pretty good reputation for durability. And it incorporates a paint and primer in one, so it’s going to save a step, too.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Carol C. in Massachusetts writes: “How often do you have to clean the ducts in your home?”
TOM: I mean I don’t really think you ever have to clean the ducts in your home if you’ve got good filtration, unless you’re doing, say, a construction project. But if you’re sensitive to the dust and you want to do it once, that’s fine. But it’s definitely not a regular thing.
I would rather see you focus on having a very good filter in that heating system. Because the one that comes with the basic systems, that are an inch-thick fiberglass filters, they just don’t catch that much. So if you’re concerned about dust, upgrade the air cleaner to an electronic air cleaner or a media filter and you will be much healthier as a result.
LESLIE: Yeah. That really is well worth the money. If they’re going to spend the money, get a really good filter.
TOM: Well, most dog owners will tell you they love their pets, even when they’re being naughty. But you don’t have to put up with their antics. The warmer weather means they’re going to have more idle time spent outside, which can bring out your dog’s digging instinct. Leslie has some tips to stop dogs from becoming their own landscapers, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s excellent. I promise I’m going to post at some point, while we are talking about all of this dog stuff, my dog, Sherman, sitting in a hole that he likes to dig underneath our arborvitaes. It’s really lovely. He digs them quite deep and then just sits with just his little paws and his little face sticking out of them. And granted, that’s one I don’t seem to mind because it’s out of the way. The one, however, that’s on the side, that I trip in all the time, is the one that really bothers me.
So, think about why is your dog digging holes. My dog likes to dig the holes because he likes to get cool. It’s very strange. Your dog might be digging holes because they’re burying things, like food or a bone. And they want to have the fun of digging it up when they’re ready to find it the next time.
So, if your dog does that, you need to dig up that item when he’s not looking so there won’t be the next time. He goes to look for it, it’s not there. And after a while, he might realize that his digging is not giving him the reward that he wants and stops.
Now, another technique dog pros use is spraying the dog lightly with a hose every time it begins to dig, then offering praise when he manages to roam around the lawn without digging. And the dogs can now associate digging with getting sprayed with water and the good stuff with getting all the nice, positive attention.
And some experts say that dogs will simply stop digging if they’re given enough exercise, that it’s just a thing they do because they’re not expending enough energy. So if you take the time to play with your dog or go on a long walk, that could be a good solution.
You have to remember, though, that a dog’s behavior is really best changed when you, as the family, are consistent with your training method. And when other members of the household – everybody gets involved in the training, you will have a lot of success. So, really, stick to it, guys.
TOM: I think bribes work, too. A little treat can sometimes go a long way.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for joining us this hour. Coming up next time on the program, the warmer it gets, the more water we drink. And if you’re concerned about water quality and taste, we’re going to highlight a couple of easy steps you can take to protect that water in your house, 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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