In this episode…
Have you noticed that your allergies are particularly bad this year? Well it turns out that quarantines can actually make allergies worse! Learn why from one of the nation’s best experts on indoor air quality. Plus, learn some places allergens hide we guarantee you never would have thought of! Also in this episode:
- Want to improve your outdoor space by adding an outdoor kitchen, fire pit, grill enclosure, planters or even a bench? We share a way to do that which is as easy as stacking blocks!
- If you threw open your windows for fresh air and then choked on the dust that came off…you may have noticed your shades need a bit of attention! When it comes to Spring cleaning, cellular or pleated shades often get ignored because they’re delicate. Tom & Leslie share tricks-of-the-trade to clean shades without damaging them.
- If you’re moving into a new house soon, painting is one really important thing to do after you buy it and before you move in.
- Plus, as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t! We share a painting product that manufacturers claimed to last decades – but doesn’t. Plus, a new class of durable deck painting products that come as close to those claims as possible, and can drastically improve the look of old, worn decks and docks.
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: We’re here to help you with projects you’re doing or projects you’re dreaming about. Give us a call because we’d love to help you get those jobs done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
We are, at our core, home improvers. Well, I’m more of a home improver and I would say, Leslie, you’re more of a home decorator. We kind of have both sides of this covered, right?
LESLIE: I make improvements when necessary.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. To get the decorating done, you’ll fix stuff.
TOM: And to get home improvements finished, I’ll occasionally even decorate. But we don’t claim to know it all but we probably know enough, between the two of us, to help you with projects that you’d like to get done. So, think about that and give us a call. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. You can call us any time of the day or night that you hear this program, whether it is live or it is by podcast. You’re welcome to contact us at 888-666-3974 and we will call you back the next time we’re in the studio.
Well, coming up on this edition of The Money Pit, if you threw open your windows for fresh air and then choked on all the dust that came flying off, you may have noticed that your shades need a little bit of attention. And when it comes to spring cleaning, they are often overlooked because they’re so delicate. We’re going to have some tips, though, on how you can clean those shades without damaging them.
LESLIE: And speaking of dust, have you noticed that your allergies are particularly bad this time of year? Well, it turns out that quarantines can actually make allergies worse. We’re going to explain why and provide tips on places allergens hide, that you may never have even though of, in just a bit.
TOM: And if you’d like to improve your outdoor space by adding an outdoor kitchen or maybe just a fire pit or a grill enclosure or a planter or a bench, there is a really easy way to do that that is as simple as stacking blocks. We’re going to tell you what that is.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you want to know. What are you working on this week? If you’ve got a project that you’d like to get done but you need some help, you’re stuck on a certain part, maybe you need some help solving a problem, whatever it is we are here to lend a hand.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or post your questions at Facebook.com or Instagram, The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Renee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RENEE: My question is concerning my sump pump. Obviously, a sump pump in the basement. And for a long time – for several months, I had not heard the sump pump going on. A few weeks – a few months ago, when it was raining very hard, I went down to the basement to see why the sump pump wasn’t kicking on and it was the well was filled with water. So, I went ahead and I drained the water out by bucketing – taking buckets of this, pouring buckets of water out until I got down to see where the ball was. And it still wouldn’t come on. So I tapped the ball and eventually, when the water rose, it did kick on again.
But then now I’m hearing this gurgling sound in my kitchen-sink piping. And I want to know why.
TOM: Where is the sump pump discharging? Is it discharging into this basement sink?
RENEE: The sump pump discharges – it’s connected to the outside sewer line. And that’s – I guess that sewer – the line is connected to the basement – the kitchen sink.
TOM: OK. So first of all, it has to go through a trap. If it doesn’t go through a trap, you may get sewage gas that comes back into the basement. So that’s the first thing.
Secondly, the gurgling might just – because it doesn’t have enough water in the sump itself. You’re probably pulling a lot of air in there.
And thirdly, because your sump pump was filling up when you had heavy rain, the source of that water is easily within your ability to repair and stop. Generally, when your sump pump fills up after a heavy rain, it’s because your gutters are clogged or overflowing or your downspouts are not discharging away from the foundation. Or the soil around the house is not sloping away from the outside walls. That’s what causes problems with water filling up in basements and floods in a sort – because that outside surface drainage is just not set up right.
So I would focus on improving your exterior drainage. There’s a great article on MoneyPit.com about how to solve wet basements. A lot of that advice applies to this. And then you’ll find that the sump pump will have to run that much less.
RENEE: OK. That’s great news.
TOM: Renee, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steven in Texas needs some help with a cabinet project. What can we do for you?
STEVEN: Yes. So my wife has challenges with chemicals, like formaldehydes and glues and paints that they put in kitchen cabinets, the new ones. And I was wondering if you had any idea what a person could use that you could get away from those types of chemicals in cabinets.
TOM: So you’re looking for a cabinet manufacturer that is sort of formaldehyde-free and VOC-free? Is that correct?
STEVEN: Yeah, that’d be right. Yes.
TOM: Steve, that’s an interesting question because when it comes to kitchen cabinets, so many of the products that go into kitchen cabinets have the potential to have VOCs or volatile organic compounds in them. Because you could start with the boards that are used to build the cabinets. If they’re a pressboard or a composite board of some sort, that may have formaldehyde in it, for example. Then you have the finishes and on and on and on.
I think what you want to do is you want to look for kitchen cabinetry that is built to meet the new CARB2 standard. That’s C-A-R-B-2 standard. That stands for the California Air Resources Board and that’s a standard that measures the level of those types of toxins in cabinetry. And so if you search for kitchen cabinets that meet that standard, I think that’s a good place to start.
STEVEN: Well, generally, I do like maybe some metal cabinets, you know. That would look nice in a kitchen. Would you have any ideas on something like that?
TOM: Well, you’d still have finishes on metal cabinets that would have some of the same issues.
TOM: I haven’t seen metal cabinets in a kitchen in forever. The Gladiator folks at Whirlpool are doing a really good job these days with metal cabinetry for laundry rooms and utility areas and spaces like that. But I don’t know if that cabinet line is going to extend to the point where you’d have enough flexibility to do it in a kitchen.
LESLIE: Well, I can share with you a vendor of a no-formaldehyde-added cabinetry. They’re actually beautiful, handmade, wooden cabinets. I’m not sure of their price point but I am familiar with the fact that they are not adding any chemicals to it. And they are very responsible in how they utilize the wood and the products that they use to make their cabinets. It’s a company out of Portland and their name is Neil Kelly. And it’s N-e-i-l-K-e-l-l-y.
And then, there was a metal-cabinet manufacturer that I was familiar with a while ago. It’s Fillip Metal and it’s F-i-l-l-i-p. It’s sort of this new revival of some interesting, repurposed materials. And you might want to check them out, as well.
STEVEN: OK. Well, thank you very much for the information. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Paula in Missouri is on the line and wants to get a heated floor in her home. How can we help you?
PAULA: We have an old farmhouse, which is over 160, 170 years old. And the only floor that – downstairs – that is over a cellar is the kitchen floor. And if you go down in the cellar and look up, you see chunks of trees on which is wooden floor. And then if you go up to the kitchen, there’s some kind of linoleum tile on top of that. And I’m wondering if it’s possible to heat the floor before putting on new tile or …
TOM: Well, it’s certainly possible to insulate the floor, for one thing. And a good option for this type of floor might be spray-foam insulation, because it sounds like it’s sort of a non-traditionally framed floor. Spray foam can fill in all those nooks and crannies, stop drafts from coming up from the basement and give you a really warm surface.
In terms of putting, say, a radiant-heat product down, you absolutely can do that. You have to have a nice, flat smooth surface. But there are radiant-floor products that are designed to go under tile, for example, that are low-voltage and they’re surprisingly affordable to run, especially if you run them on a timer so that they’re not on all the time. And that can make that floor a lot more comfortable.
So I think the solution, Paula, is a combination of insulation and radiant heat, not just radiant heat itself. Because if you don’t insulate it, it has to work that much harder to warm the floor up.
PAULA: OK. Thanks a lot.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Paula. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Charlie in Texas is on the line and has a question about a porch. What’s going on?
CHARLIE: I added a portion to a porch. I had it done. I had a pergola put on it. And the concrete has risen up about an inch from the other part – portion – that was already poured. You have any ideas what I can do about that?
TOM: So it rose up? Do you have expansive soils in your part of the country?
CHARLIE: No, it’s pretty clay soils. And I did have a sprinkler system underneath it but I had completely tapped it off and everything. And then, I had a company come in there and pour this slab so I could put a pergola on it. And it has risen about an inch above where the original porch was poured.
TOM: So it didn’t crack. It just – it basically just raised up above the old level? Is that correct?
CHARLIE: That’s correct.
TOM: And the reason I ask you about expansive soils, there’s a type of soil called “expansive clay soil” and there’s a fairly good amount of it in Texas. And when expansive clay soils get wet, they expand. And that could cause this heaving. I don’t think it’s frost heave, because you don’t have those kinds of swings.
CHARLIE: Oh, no. It’s not that at all.
TOM: But it may be the soils. And you’re not going to be able to get it to settle back down again, I can tell you that.
So, if you do redo this, right – if you dig it out and redo it – one of the things that you might talk to the contractor about is they may be able to insert – drill – some rebar into the old concrete and basically have a physical connection between the two, to keep them in – basically in line.
TOM: It’s going to be not an easy – and it’s going to depend on how thick that old – the original surface is and whether they can do it without cracking and so on. So that’s one thing I would say.
Then the other thing I would talk – I would see is pay careful attention to how you prep the base underneath this slab that you’re now going to replace, to make sure that it’s dug out enough, it’s got stone in it, it’s well tamped. Mechanically tamped would be smart. You know, if you had 6 inches of stone before you put the concrete in and then you put rebar on top of that to keep it all in one piece, when it’s poured that’s going to be a lot harder for that to move, even if you do get some expansion. And then just be very cautious of water collection in that area.
So, what I mean by that is if you have downspouts that may drain towards that area or if there’s anything else that’s causing water to congregate in that area and you could minimize that, that would help if, in fact, you do have these types of expansive soils that I’m talking about.
There’s a product called Re-Cap that will stick to old concrete. What if he were to make a band of – basically, sort of trowel yourself a ramp, right? I would make it 12 inches wide, where it took the high edge of the new slab and then tapered it down to the old porch so that it wasn’t a tripping hazard there. Because replacing this thing is going to be really expensive and it’s a lot of work.
CHARLIE: Yes, it is.
TOM: If you don’t – yeah, if you don’t mind trying this in the interim, you might want to pick up some Re-Cap. Essentially, the way it works is you clean the concrete and then you wet it down. You trowel on this Re-Cap.
If it was me, what I would do is I would probably snap a chalk line that – about 12 inches from the end from the new edge so that I had something to aim towards, right? And then I would build it up even with the new edge and I would trowel it down to hit that chalk line at the new edge.
CHARLIE: Yes, right.
TOM: And then you basically – the reason that you’re using Re-Cap is because it sticks to the old concrete surface. Any other type of mortar is going to split off, right? This will stick to it and then you won’t have this issue with a tripping hazard. And then, frankly, if that works out for you, you could just paint the whole thing – old and new – and it wouldn’t be very obvious what you did.
CHARLIE: I appreciate it very much, sir.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Charlie. Stay safe.
Well, when it comes to spring cleaning, one thing that often gets ignored are the shades. And that’s because today’s cellular or pleated shades are delicate. So, you need to be careful.
LESLIE: A good dusting with a vacuum cleaner is usually all that those pleated or cellular shades really need. But the trick is you’ve got to take them down and lay them down, fully extended, on a clean bedsheet spread out on the floor or a table.
Next, you’ve got to be sure that you lower that vacuum suction, if possible. Now, most vacuums have a port on the extension that you can open up. And that’s going to reduce the suction at the brush end.
TOM: Now, to keep those blinds working smoothly, just vacuum away the dust inside that open top or headrail. That’s where all the mechanical parts are and those gears are. And then spot-clean stains by dabbing those smudges with a cloth dipped in just mild, soapy water. Rinse it, blot it and you are good to go. You can put all those blinds back together and you will no longer have sneezes every time you raise and open them.
LESLIE: Sandy in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SANDY: Yes, I was calling to ask about building a garage. My husband and I just bought a home. It’s a two-story Colonial but there’s no garage and we’re trying to decide detached, attached, with or without a breezeway. We know we want it to be oversized but we’re trying to decide which would be the most efficient and convenient choice to go with.
TOM: So, it’s as much an architectural question as it is a structural question, because you’re trying to figure out what’s going to fit best with the property. So that amount – that involves looking at the house itself in terms of its design and also looking at the neighborhood to determine what’s going to fit in well. Because it’s OK to have the nicest house on the block but it’s not OK if it’s that much nicer that the rest of the neighborhood pulls it down in value. Does that make sense?
SANDY: Yes. And I think the rest of the homes are very, very similar except they have garages.
TOM: OK. Well, then that’s a good model for you to follow.
TOM: Now, if you have the breezeway, then obviously you’re going to have more functional space. So I’m not quite sure what we can do to help you with this question, because it’s really a design that you have to kind of agree on with your husband and then set apart building it. When it does get built, it obviously has to be built by a pro, in accordance with all of the local regulations, which are going to probably require that you have a set of architectural plans.
TOM: So, you might just want to start with that because an architect – architects can help you look at the options very easily with the computer programming they use today and give you a chance to look at it from several different angles, both outside and inside, in terms of available storage space and in different configurations.
SANDY: OK. Also, we need to replace the roof on the home, so I was thinking making it an attached or with a breezeway kind of makes it a little bit more efficient. As we replace the roof on the home, we’d be putting the roof on the garage, as well.
TOM: OK. Well, it would make sense for you to do the entire roof and have that folded into the same project. And then you could, in fact, fold it into the same financing, too, if you’re financing the project. So, yeah, I’m all for planning those projects to be done together. Because when the roofing team is on site, that’ll be the most cost-effective way to get it all done.
TOM: And to have it match.
TOM: We did our roof in the last year and we did everything but the garage. And the garage really didn’t need it but seeing that brand-new, beautiful roof on the house, I just decided that I would ignore the fact that I had a few years of life left on my garage roof. And we did that, as well, which is why we always say that the three most expensive words in home improvement are “might as well.”
SANDY: Right. Right.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BOB: I have a friend who has a house with a metal roof on it. Their cell service is pretty severely impacted every time somebody tries to call him on his cell phone when he’s inside his house.
TOM: First off, your cell is probably always – very frequently, I should say – inside buildings that have metal roofs. Think about it: your church, your post office, your bank, restaurants. There’s a lot of metal roofs out there. And if he’s having a problem just in his own house, I would suspect that the signal is weak to begin with. And I think the solution is a little device called a “cell-phone booster.”
A booster can be basically plugged into the house – inside of the house – and it can double or triple the range of the phone. So if I was having that issue, I would just get a cell-phone booster, install it in my house – it’s not a very expensive piece of equipment – and solve my problem once and for all.
BOB: OK. Interesting. Well, I just wondered about that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s time to talk about the impact of quarantine on allergies. Let me tell you how this story came about. So I have a very good friend, Jeff May. I’ve known him for probably 20 years. And Jeff is an indoor-air quality expert. He’s a building scientist. He’s written four books for Johns Hopkins University Press on all sorts of issues concerning indoor-air quality, from mold and up.
And Jeff was telling me that he’s getting more and more calls from his clients, during quarantine periods, than ever before. And we’re talking about folks that are having allergic reactions, which beg the question: why is that? We’re going to find out, right now, from Jeff May.
Jeff, welcome to the program.
JEFF: Thanks, Tom. It’s a pleasure.
TOM: I’ve got to tell you – so, this is the conversation that we just had with Jeff when we called him for this interview. He said, “Oh, I was just doing an experiment. I was taking my particle monitor and trying to figure out if I put a neckerchief in front of it, how much particles could get through. Because I’ve been telling people to wear masks.”
Only you, Jeff, would be doing that: having a particle monitor to test that. So, what – I have to ask you, what’d you find out? Are bandanas effective?
JEFF: Well, it should have been me in the CDC. But actually, the – I haven’t been doing it long enough, because there’s so much dust on the bandanna itself that when you first turn the thing on, it’s actually higher than the ambient air.
TOM: Oh, boy.
JEFF: But it’s really – I mean if you can put anything over your face, it’s certainly going to be helpful, either preventing people exhaling onto others or inhaling from others.
TOM: So, the secret is just start with a clean bandanna.
JEFF: Yeah. But you can’t even make it that clean. So I have to figure out a way to do the – you know, time it differently.
TOM: OK. Alright. So, Jeff, let’s talk about this idea on how come allergies are a lot worse this time. What are you hearing from your clients and from others in the industry?
JEFF: Most people focus on outdoor-air quality and now, there is some attention being paid to indoor-air quality. But in fact, a lot of people are sick because of what they breathe from surfaces and heating and cooling in the house. So, most – what’s interesting is we find women are often sicker and kids sicker than men, because the men aren’t home as much. So, now, men are home more and so we’re starting to see more reactions in the kids and the moms, as well.
TOM: So, basically, you’re seeing a connection between the increased time spent at home and allergy sufferers.
JEFF: Correct. It makes sense because you have that much more exposure. And some of the worst things – and I think we mentioned that in one of the articles – in that article we did for you. Basement offices. A lot of people have offices. They exercise in the basement and often, those are the places that are very contaminated. And so, spending more time in a space like that can really affect your health.
LESLIE: Now, I imagine people who have more folks that are home throughout this are really seeing higher instances of irritants. Does it really affect it, the quantity of people that are home?
JEFF: Oh, yeah, that’s a good point. I never thought of that. Sure, the more people that are home, the higher the level of carbon dioxide from breathing. But I think the more serious exposures would really come from the furnishings and from the healing-and-cooling system, though. At this point, it will be heating mostly but …
LESLIE: Now, Jeff, do you think that the number of people at home impacts the amount of allergens that are in the house? Because I will say three of us at home, over these weeks of quarantine, I am vacuuming, dusting, cleaning far more often. More often than I thought I was doing before.
JEFF: Yeah, well, that makes sense because people shed skin scales and that’s primarily what dust is made up of. So, it’s a very fine, white powder. And so the more people you have, the more dust and also the more lint you have. Clothing releases a lot of lint into the air as you move around, so you’ll also be getting more dust that way.
TOM: We’re talking to Jeff May. Jeff is a building scientist and an indoor-air quality expert with four books that he’s written for Johns Hopkins University Press. Long-time contact and friend of The Money Pit.
And Jeff, you wrote a story for us, which is on the home page of MoneyPit.com, about this issue of how the quarantine is impacting the number of allergens in our homes and what to do about it. And you have some really surprising things in that. So I want to go through these tips quickly so that we kind of cover some of the things that people maybe have not thought about.
Now, the first one you mentioned, of course, is to wash clothing and bedding in hot water and turn your dryer to the hot setting to kill dust mites. We’ve talked about that before. The next one, though, is your dryer hose. You mentioned the amount of lint in the house and venting to the exterior. Good trick here. You say if there’s lint behind your dryer, the hose may be leaking? I have never connected those two and that makes a lot of sense.
JEFF: There will always be a small amount of lint but there should not be a lot of lint. And if there is a lot of lint, that means that you’re breathing in the chemicals that’s on the lint, that’s left over from the detergent. And that can be irritating.
TOM: Now, I love this next one because I don’t think anyone’s ever thought of this. You say that if you’re sitting down for an extended period of time – you’re reading a book, you’re binge-watching Netflix – it’s better to use a leather or vinyl-covered chair or sofa. Why is that?
JEFF: Because the moisture from your body, where you sit for a long period of time, goes into the cushion. And basically, there’s enough skin scales or dust in any cushion to feed the dust mites. All they really need is moisture from our bodies. And so if you sit for a long time in one place, there’s a lot of moisture. And so the dust mites are extremely happy.
LESLIE: Geez. Now, what can we do to sort of minimize these dust mites? Is there a certain way we should be laundering our clothing, a certain spot I should be looking to clean extra?
JEFF: The best thing you can do for dust mites is have dust-mite covers on the beds and even the cushions, as well. The dust mites, as I said, they need that moisture. And if you put the type of dust mite encasing on the bed that has a polyurethane liner on it, then it doesn’t allow much moisture in.
A lot of the liners, dust-mite covers – here’s a good tip, actually. If you can breathe through a liner – if you put it up to your mouth and then exhale or inhale – if the air goes through readily, then allergens from the dust mites can also go through. So, that’s why I always recommend one liner that has a little, thin plastic film at the inside. And they’re very soft and comfortable.
And another thing to think about, actually, if there’s kids where they – if they have a child with asthma and he has a dust-mite cover and you have another kid who does not have asthma and no dust-mite cover, you can still get allergens from one child’s bed to the other. And so, you really have to – if you have children with asthma, you have to have those covers on all the beds.
TOM: So, Jeff, you also have a great tip here about cleaning in the kitchen.
Now, I’m sure we’re all – we’re cooking more and we’re cleaning more in that room. But you identify one space in the kitchen that is one that I bet no one is thinking about and that is the kick space under the cabinet. So what happens in that little space?
JEFF: I check with a mirror and a flashlight when I do my investigations. And when you look underneath, in the kick space there’s lots of – there’s tons of dust and pet hairs. And very often, the dust gets wet and so you often find mold growing on the kick space, because nobody ever cleans them.
TOM: Wow. That’s a good point. So if you see those spots of mold, you just wipe the surfaces with a diluted bleach solution?
JEFF: You can – yeah. Or just any detergent. But for somebody that has a lot of allergies, it’s best to vacuum it first with a HEPA vacuum and then you can wipe it.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s another good point. Always use a HEPA vacuum – it’s a high-efficiency particulate vacuum – because if you use a regular vacuum, you’re basically going to be regurgitating all of that dust right back into the air. So, HEPA vacuums are really important now. That would be an appliance, if you don’t have one, worth investing. You can certainly order it online and have it delivered.
Well, Jeff’s article is called “Can Quarantine Make Allergies Worse?” It is live on MoneyPit.com on the home page. You’ve got more tips in here about toilets and toilet paper and how to clean and how to clean and avoid even more allergens, so I encourage you folks to read Jeff’s story on MoneyPit.com. He’s also available at MayIndoorAir.com. That’s Jeff’s website. MayIndoorAir.com. If you need an expert and you are in the Boston area, that’s where Jeff is based.
And I’m sure – I don’t know, Jeff – even if you’re not in the Boston area, you’re doing some teleconferencing these days and teleconsulting?
JEFF: Yep. Phone consults. Very helpful. People email me pictures and then we talk about that. So, it can be very helpful.
TOM: You know, so many folks that are in this business have a conflict of interest. They’re there to find something wrong and get you to pay them to fix it. That’s not Jeff. Jeff is a true expert, one of the best experts in the country on indoor-air quality. And if you’ve got a serious issue with your house, I cannot recommend him enough.
Jeff, thank you so much for the great post and for stopping by The Money Pit today.
JEFF: Thank you, Tom.
TOM: Keep up the good work.
LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to improve your outdoor space by adding an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, a grill enclosure, planters or even a bench, there’s a really easy way that you can do that with a product called RumbleStone.
Now, these are made by Pavestone and are rustic-looking stones that come in project kits. And you simply stack them together, like Legos, in a predetermined pattern to build all kinds of popular outdoor features. And because they’re modular, they really make it easy and fast and affordable to upgrade your backyard with amenities like an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, even a bench.
You can find some of these RumbleStone kits. They start at about $250 and they can also be used for traditional paver projects, like patios, walls, even landscaping borders.
TOM: And if you want to strengthen the finished product, you can even use the QUIKRETE Polymer Construction Adhesive between the stones. So you, essentially, are gluing them together. There’s no mortar required whatsoever.
Now, right now, if we’ve inspired you to maybe think about this project, there’s a great step-by-step video of a beautiful outdoor kitchen topped with a QUIKRETE concrete countertop. It’s available online, so you can head on over to MoneyPit.com and see just that.
RumbleStones can be a really beautiful addition to your outdoor-living space. Learn more about them at Pavestone.com. That’s Pavestone.com.
LESLIE: Wilson in North Carolina is on the line dealing with a funky smell coming out of the sink. What’s going on?
WILSON: Yes. I have a water-smelling problem. I’ve got well water. And we’ve got a lot – strong smelling. It’s like rotting eggs, especially in the hot water. We changed the water heater. Still, it smells. Do I need to change the – also the plumbing, all the pipe in the house or just flush it? If I need to flush, what kind of cleaners do I need to use?
TOM: So, you’ve replaced your water heater and you’re still having this smell of sulfur. So that eliminates one possibility, which is the anode rod. Sometimes, if the anode rod becomes worn out inside the water heater, you will get a sulfur smell.
I think the next best thing for you to do, Wilson, is to add a charcoal filter to the system. But I don’t want you to add it at the faucet. I want you to add it where the main water valve comes into the house. This is a good opportunity for a whole-house water filter. And if your water’s not been tested, I would also have it tested at the same time, just to make sure that there are not any additional contaminants in that water aside from that sulfur odor.
LESLIE: Whatever you are working on this spring season, perhaps it’s an outside project and you need a hand. Well, Jerry writes to us with one of those questions now and he says, “I’m hearing from deck-painting companies who claim that the products they use can stain and protect a wood deck for 20 years or more. Can I get this product and just do it myself?”
TOM: Wow, that’s pretty impressive, 20 years. I don’t think that that is accurate, Jerry, but I do have a sense as to what they’re talking about. They’re probably referring to a category of products that – it’s still fairly new, as far as I’m concerned, because I’ve only really seen them around on a regular basis for a few years. And they’re called “high-build elastomeric coatings.”
A high build is tech talk for thick paint. And elastomeric is the type of product, because it expands and contracts with the substrate which, in this case, is your wood deck.
Now, there’s a little history here you should know about. Twenty years ago, we began hearing about companies who would make similar durability claims for products called “liquid vinyl siding.” And they had hard-selling contractors who would claim they could apply this paint to your wood-sided home and it would last and perform like vinyl siding.
It did just that – except for months, not decades – and then it began to peel off or worse yet, it would allow water to get behind it and rot to set in. And then when they started claiming it also added to the building’s ability to insulate, well, that’s when the Federal Trade Commission stepped in and put the kibosh on all of that. So, today, we don’t hear much about the liquid vinyl but there are good finishes that can protect and restore decks.
I would work with name brands. The Sherwin-Williams Company has the SuperDeck and then Rust-Oleum has the Deck & Concrete Restore product. These can fill gaps as large as about ¼-inch and they adhere really well. Just keep in mind that the coverage is really about a quarter of what it is for a gallon of paint because they are so thick. You know, a gallon of paint – a gallon of these thicker, high-bonding primers – is only going to cover about 75 square feet.
So maybe you start with a small area like, say, your staircase. Make sure it works for you and then you can go for the rest.
LESLIE: Alright, Jerry. Good luck with that. I hope that your new – well, I guess we can call it “new” because it’ll be freshened-up – deck looks good.
TOM AND LESLIE: Like new.
TOM: Well, spring and summer are peak season for real-estate sales. And if you’re the owner of a home that’s new or maybe just new to you, it’s tempting to move in now and paint later. But painting before you move in is hands-down the best bet. Leslie has got the reasons why, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Oh, so many reasons.
Listen, guys, I get it. After months of dreaming about your new home, it’s finally yours and you want nothing more than to get in there and get your things inside. But before you schedule those movers, consider these reasons to start with a few coats of paint instead.
Now, the simplest reason? Interior painting is a lot simpler when you can move freely in an empty space. I mean think about it, guys: move the furniture in, then move it around again, then move it around again. No one wants that. Painting first is also going to save a lot of time. Your painting project is going to take so much longer moving that furniture, hanging art, rehanging art, repairing the walls.
It’s also going to save a lot of money. If you’re working with a professional painting contractor, they’re going to finish that much faster in an empty space. And that’s going to keep those dollars in your pocket.
Now, painting first also simplifies interior decorating. If you’re designing a space from scratch, starting with that fresh coat of paint can actually help you drive all your other decisions so that you end up with that picture-perfect result.
And finally, it feels good. There’s nothing like a new coat of paint to make a home seem cleaner, fresher, more welcoming and more yours. Make sure you use a top-quality, 100-percent acrylic-latex paint and you’ll get a stain-resistant finish that’ll look new for years to come.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the show, backyard honeybee hives are becoming a huge DIY trend. We’re going to share the buzz on this very sweet project, 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.
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