In this episode…
Want to grow your own home remedies, right in your backyard? Well walk you through easy to grow herbs for surprisingly effective herbal medicines. Plus…
- Backyard honeybee hives are becoming a huge trend. We’ll tell you what all the buzz is about coming up.
- Over the winter – the combination of road salt and freezing weather, can do some real damage to concrete steps, walks, patios or driveways leaving them looking old, worn and just plain dull. We’ll review a solution to restore cracked concrete surfaces that’s easy to do.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about painting outdoor wood columns, getting rid of carpenter bees, cleaning mold from tubs and sink backsplash, best way to venting an attic, stain options for a cedar deck, and ideas for basement flooring.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And what are you working on today? If it’s your house, you are in the right place. That’s where we’re doing first. If you’ve got a project you’d like to get done, maybe it’s painting, maybe it’s a quick repair, maybe it’s outdoor living. Are you working on restaining a deck, planting a garden, doing a bit of landscaping? Whatever you’re working on, we’d like to help. If you’ve got questions about those projects or more, call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 because we are here for you.
Coming up on today’s program, here’s one project you might like to do. Do you want to grow your own home remedies right in your backyard? We’re going to talk you through some easy-to-grow herbs for surprisingly effective herbal medicine.
LESLIE: And also ahead, backyard honeybee hives are becoming a huge trend. We’re going to tell you what all the buzz is about, coming up.
TOM: And you can decide if that’s something you want to get into. I know people are going, “No way. I’m not working with bees.” Well, it’s actually pretty safe, I guess, if you do it right, until it’s not. Is that fair to say?
Plus, over the winter, you know, the combination of road salt and freezing weather can do some real damage to concrete steps and walks and patios. So, if you’ve got some pieces of concrete that are missing, if it’s cracked and chipped and spalled, we’re going to tell you how to restore those surfaces. It really is an easy do-it-yourself project if you do it right. We’ll share what you need to do.
LESLIE: And with all the gardening that we’re doing these days, you’re going to love the giveaway that we have for one lucky listener. From Centurion Brands, we’re giving away their Collapsible Watering Can, which is great for small-space gardens, along with a few accessories for a total package value of $55.
TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can also post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Beth in Texas is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?
BETH: I had four columns on the front of my house and I live downtown in an old neighborhood. It has beautiful, 150-year-old oak trees. I have these four columns and I have – the wood rots out from the – it has – those columns sit on concrete.
And last time I had them fixed, which was about 10 years ago, they put a plastic or some kind of a block that’s the same size as the column. It’s a barrier kind of – a moisture barrier, maybe, between the concrete and the pole.
So, then time passes and here comes the rot again. And so I said, “Oh, my gosh.” So I dug out the rot again, I went to Home Depot and I got some of that product that you can fill in with (inaudible).
LESLIE: Like a Bondo.
BETH: Right, right. It’s some kind of a – it has wood in it but it’s plastic. It’s some – I don’t know what it is. Anyway, I did that. And of course, my wounds were so deep, I could only put – layer about a ¼-inch in and it took me forever to fill up the little holes.
And so I finally got it to the edge and I sanded it. It looked pretty darn good. And so I painted it. And then, I put the first coat on and I said, “Oh, this paint’s kind of thin,” so I put another coat on. So in the meantime, here comes all this pollen from these giant oak trees. And all this stuff, it falls from the trees on my freshly painted wood. I started crying.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Oh, no.
BETH: I literally started crying because I didn’t know what in the world to do. My paint – I mean that stuff just sucked it up like a sponge. And so I didn’t know what to do.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, where are you now with the columns? Are you at a point where you need to replace them again? Are you trying to just figure out a fix?
BETH: Well, actually, what I did is I went back and I lightly sanded – I waited for a while and then I sanded it lightly and then I put another topcoat on it. And I don’t know. I still have little – I don’t know what it is. It’s not yellow pollen but it’s something that’s kind of – my paint is bumpy; it’s not nice like it should be after all that work.
LESLIE: Well, here’s a couple of solutions. You do need to sand it if you want to get the surface nice and smooth again. That’s truly the only thing that’s going to get rid of the pollen that’s sort of embedded itself into that wet paint.
Then, once you get a nice, smooth surface on that column again, what you want to try to do is – and I know it would be a pain in the butt but it’s going to be super-duper-duper helpful if you can get some paint tarps: plastic, canvas, whatever. If there is a way to sort of build a tent in these tarps around the area, to keep the pollen from sort of wafting in there while the paint is drying and while you’re painting – it’ll be unsightly while the process is happening, just because your beautiful front of your home will be draped in tarp. But it will actually help to keep the air circulating behind it to actually dry the column paint but it will keep things from landing on it.
So I would look into a way to do that. They make all sorts of little prop poles and different things that work for tarps but also a couple of good clips. Maybe you’ve got an overhang there or something that you can clip onto without damaging a gutter. So, that really could do the trick.
Now, fast forward to a couple of years down the road when you end up with such an amount of rot again, you might want to consider replacing the columns with an architectural composite column.
Now, in a lot of cases, because – your wood column is actually a support, correct?
BETH: Yes, ma’am.
LESLIE: So what you might end up doing is they might replace that wood column – since you’ve done that before, they might replace the wood column with some sort of post that would be metal, that would be structural.
And then there is an actual decorative wrap, that looks exactly like the same type of fluted column or whatever type of column you might have, that wraps around that support pole. And then it’s a composite, so once it’s painted and finished, you won’t have to paint it again for a long, long, long, long time. Because it’s not made of an organic material, it’s not going to take that moisture up that you’re getting from the concrete. And it’s going to simply clean up with soap and water.
So, keep that in mind for down the road. And they would do that a column at a time and make them structural. So, there are ways to get around it but you’re going to have to sand again.
BETH: I know. It doesn’t look too bad but it doesn’t look too good, either. But thank you so much. I’ll try those tips, alright?
TOM: Beth, it sounds like you’ve got your work cut out for you on that job. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Steve in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STEVE: Looked outside this year and we’ve got a building that was built in 1929. It’s got a porch above the patio down below. And on the exposed joists, those carpenter bees have put some holes in there. And it – we’re looking for a way to eliminate the carpenter bees and not necessarily poison everything in the neighborhood.
LESLIE: Well, part of what they’re doing is – you know, they really enjoy eating this natural wood. So they’re coming there because you’ve got something tasty to offer up. And it turns out that they love to bore these holes that are perfectly 3/8-inches round.
So, you can do a couple of things. You can have it treated by a pest professional and then seal up those holes and that should do the trick. But you’re right: chemicals are used and that might not be what you have in mind.
The other thing is you can cover that or replace that joist completely – or whatever the support is – with a synthetic wood or a composite that looks like wood but it’s not actually wood. It could be extruded PVC, it could be recycled plastics. This way, it looks like wood; it’s doing the same job that the wood piece was. However, carpenter bees, carpenter ants, termites, whatever pests like to eat a natural source as wood, they’re going to try it, they’re not going to get into it and they’re going to be really confused and fly away and find somewhere else to eat.
STEVE: Yeah, that sounds like an option. Yeah, I was wondering if there was something that – I assume that painting it would not make a difference. I didn’t know if there was something that could be topically applied to it that would be environmentally friendly and keep the bees out.
LESLIE: Unh-unh. I’ve had them eat through the painted wood that makes up my entire screened-in porch. And then what happens is they bore a hole but they won’t bore all the way through. They’ll bore into the wood, even if it’s just a 1×6 or whatever. They find a way to bore into it and then bore through the wood itself and lay their eggs in there.
STEVE: OK. And it – yeah, it’s amazing. It looks like somebody got out with a drill and drilled the hole in there.
LESLIE: It’s just bizarre. It’s perfect how they do it.
STEVE: So, essentially, the options, basically, are having someone come out and treat it or either covering or changing the material that’s there.
LESLIE: Yeah, changing material is usually the best bet because they won’t eat it. And then, as an added benefit, it doesn’t require any maintenance except the occasional cleaning. You’re not going to be painting it all the time. It really is a win-win situation.
STEVE: OK. Yeah, I’ll look into that. I’ve got a contractor that’s got to come out anyway, so I’ll look into both options. But it sounds like it – I’d prefer something that wouldn’t have to do with pesticides but …
TOM: Steve, I hope that takes care of those carpenter bees once and for all. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, now that the weather is really turning gorgeous in almost all the parts of the country, everybody’s outside doing lots of gardening and making their whole outdoor space look lovely. So we’ve got a great prize for all of those outdoor activities around the garden.
It’s the Centurion Brand Collapsible Watering Can, plus garden accessories. It’s got a convenient storage option, if you’ve got limited space, by collapsing. It’s drip- and leak-proof. Even has a reinforced plastic frame for carrying and standing. And we are also going to get a soft kneeling pad and a collapsible bucket. So it’s all about saving space and making your garden beautiful.
The watering can’s worth $29 but the total package, with accessories, is worth 55 bucks.
TOM: That’s going out to one caller drawn at random. So if you love gardening and you’ve got a home improvement, décor or gardening question, call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Andrea from Ontario, Canada is on the line with a mold question. How can we help you today?
ANDREA: My question (inaudible) regarding black mold. And it’s behind my sink. Between the sink and the backsplash, there’s a little bit of space and this black mold settles in. There’s a lot of moisture, obviously. We’re running the water and it splashes, so – behind and around the sink, as well as around my tub.
I tried bleach. I scrubbed it. We, at one point, took out the caulking and recaulked it but it came back. So I’m at a – kind of a loss what to do with this.
TOM: Mold is going to grow any place that you have an organic material, which could be drywall. Or it could also be, believe it or not, soap scum. It can have organic matter in it and that can feed mold. And so, you have a condition there that’s going to be prevalent to mold regrowth. Even when you clean it, it’s going to come back. You’re not going to permanently prevent it unless you change the environment – the climate – that exists in that particular area.
So, with respect to the tile area, let’s deal with that first. When you retiled – when you recaulked, I’m sorry – did you pull all the old caulk out?
ANDREA: Pulled it all out. Took it all out. It was actually our contractor who said, “Keep it very dry.” “Bone dry,” he called it. And then once we had it all dried out, then he came back and put a layer of this white material. I’m not exactly sure what it was but he finished it all.
TOM: OK. So you’re not quite sure what the product is.
Here would be the steps. When you pull the old caulk out, you need to spray the joint between the tub and the tile with a bleach solution. That’s going to kill any mold spores that are left behind. Then, after that’s dry, one additional step: fill up the tub with water because it makes it heavy and it pulls it down. And then you caulk it.
And when you caulk it, you want to use a product that has mildicide in it. Now, DAP, for example, has a caulk that has an additive called Microban. And Microban will not grow mold; it will prevent it from growing. And so, if you use the right product and you take the step of treating it with a bleach solution first, before you apply it, that helps it to last as long as possible. But again, if you don’t control humidity conditions, eventually it will come back.
As for the sink, the same advice applies. You not only have to clean it, which takes away the visual, but you have to spray it with a mildicide. And so you could mix, say, a 10- to 20-percent bleach solution with water. And then let it dry and that will help prevent it from coming back.
ANDREA: I’ll try that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, growing herbal medicines in your garden provides plenty of benefits. You know, aside from cutting down the cost of buying these products online or at a store, herbal medicines can deliver a lot of health benefits, as well as a few garden cures, in just a few feet of gardening space. And that’s why more people than ever are now growing these herbs in their own gardens or even inside the house.
LESLIE: Yeah. And I think a lot of times people are looking at some herbs that are super popular and easy to grow. And I think there’s three that really come to top of mind, the first being turmeric. Now, that’s an amazing, natural pain reliever. And it’s said to help with arthritis, stomach aches, diabetes, headaches and so much more.
And garlic. I mean it’s great to cook with but WebMD also tells us that garlic is most commonly used for conditions related to the heart and the blood system. And these conditions can include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol or other fats/lipids in the blood and the hardening of the arteries. So, garlic, it tastes good and it’s super good for you.
And the other one that people love to grow is lavender. It’s the most relaxing plant out there. And aside from it’s amazing calming powers, lavender is also known to improve blood circulation. It’s great for pain relief. You can treat acne with it. It’s great if you’ve got teens at home or an 11-year-old who thinks he’s 14 and doesn’t quite know how to wash his face that great yet. So much with being at home, my goodness. But lavender is fantastic for so many things.
If you want a full list of other herbs that you can grow at home, along with their medicinal benefits, head on over to MoneyPit.com.
TOM: 888-666-3974. You’ve got a gardening question? Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Stan, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
STAN: Oh, well, I had just bought a house that was built in 1995. It’s a 4,000-square-foot underground home.
TOM: Wow. That sounds neat.
LESLIE: And it’s not a transformed missile? I’ve been to Oklahoma and I’ve seen these missile-launching areas that have been sort of retaken over and turned into homes.
STAN: No, this is actually an underground concrete structure that was specifically built to be a house.
TOM: Do you get to mow your roof?
STAN: Yes, I do.
TOM: Very cool. So, what can we help you with?
STAN: Well, I knew when I bought this that it had a few leaks. And being that the house is getting close to being 20 years old, I feel that it’s time to probably remove the dirt and expose and probably replace the roof and especially since I have some leaks. And I’m having trouble finding somebody that deals with any kind of underground structure/home and especially in a roof/ceiling of that nature.
And I was curious if – I’m sure this is probably going to be an expensive undertaking. But furthermore, after I go back and get it all done, when I find the contractor to do it, what may be – is there some care/preventative maintenance that – how I care for that underground roof system, so I’m not coming back at a later date and time and going back through the same process.
TOM: There’s no way we could give you the answer to that question but we can give you some advice on how to approach it.
What I would do is I would find an architect to spec out this roof project, because it’s a big project, 4,000-square-foot roof. And I would have an architect or an engineer spec out the project. Let them do the research on what are the most viable materials out there right now, available, to replace this roof with. And have them provide – prepare a specification for that.
It’s worth the investment because then with that spec, you can bring it to qualified contractors. And I would guess, probably, the best contractors would be those that do commercial roofing, not residential roofing. And have them follow this specification exactly. I would not try to find a roofing contractor that has their own personal idea of how to do this, because you’re not going to find somebody that’s experienced in these homes; it’s too unique. But if you find a building professional that could spec this out for you, do the research on the best way to replace that roof, that spec will be very valuable to you.
STAN: Perfect. That’s a great idea. Never even thought of that.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck, Stan.
STAN: Hey, guys, I appreciate it.
TOM: Got to work – we’ve got to work smarter, not harder, right?
STAN: That’s right.
TOM: Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
STAN: Appreciate it. Thanks.
LESLIE: Arlene in Rhode Island is on the line and wants to stay cool this summer with some air conditioning. How can we help you with the project?
ARLENE: I live an in 1,850-square-foot ranch that’s 38 years old and we installed the central air before the walls were sealed. The access to the handler, which is in the attic, is 21 inches by 21 inches square. And they always told us if it ever broke, it would be a difficult problem to replace the handler in the attic.
But lo and behold, last week the air conditioning went on for about an hour and then it stopped. I called my service-contract people. They came. They said – they went up into the attic and they said the handler is dripping grease. It’s old. It has a fan belt, which is no longer used and it’s time to get rid of my air-conditioning system and get a new one or replace – or they could fix it for $800 but it might not be good forever.
So, I’ve been interviewing companies; they told me to do that. I’m a little bit educated on it now. And I know that I want a 5-ton handler in the attic and a 13-SEER compressor on the outside. My compressor is almost 10 years old but I think it wouldn’t be compatible.
TOM: How big is your house?
ARLENE: Eighteen-hundred-fifty square feet.
TOM: Five tons is a lot of air conditioning for that size house. Usually, you would use 3 to 4 zone – 3 to 4 tons. If you oversize the air conditioning, what’s going to happen is it’s going to cycle on or off very quickly. You could actually overdo it and it’ll be really inefficient.
But OK. I’m guessing that your question is: how do you get the air handler back up in the attic?
ARLENE: Well, everyone said they can make a new opening and put a new vent in and it’ll give it more circulation and it’s a good thing to do.
ARLENE: The last person I interviewed said he can get it up – a 5-ton up into the attic. Because the one he’s going to supply – an Amana – comes in two pieces.
ARLENE: He said and that will be better because if it ever needs a repair, you just click open the two pieces. I’ve never heard of a 2-piece 5-ton and I’m wondering what your opinion is, because he gave me the best price. He was $3,000 cheaper than everyone else.
TOM: Yeah, well, it’s hard to tell, because a lot of these guys bid you and not the project. But Amana is a good brand.
TOM: So I have no issues with that. I would just do some research on the contractor.
But by the way, you know, making a bigger opening is not that big of a deal. It might seem like a big of a deal but it’s really a pretty simple carpentry project. It’s just an additional project that you probably didn’t want to face.
Is there any storage space up there if you were to make it bigger? Could you take advantage of that?
ARLENE: A crawlspace attic.
TOM: It’s all a crawlspace? Yeah. Yeah, I mean listen, a carpenter that knows what he’s doing can open – can double the size of that hole in about an hour. It’s really not hard.
Listen, I just – before you make the commitment to the 5-ton, I’m just telling you, for an 1,800-square-foot house that’s over – it’s probably overkill. And I don’t want you to get in a situation where there’s – you know what I mean? When I say cycling, do you know what that means? It means the air conditioning comes on and it goes off, comes on again and it goes off, goes on/off, on/off. So what’ll happen is it will never run long enough to dehumidify your house. And as a result, you’ll feel cold and clammy. It’s really not good.
So, you want to put the right-size unit in, OK? You want to put the right-size unit in. And generally, it’s about 600 square feet per ton. So that’s only 3 tons for your house. So, I’m thinking three to four, not – I’m thinking five might be too big. OK?
ARLENE: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. And well done doing all the research on this.
LESLIE: Well, if fresh, local honey sounds good to you, you might be surprised you don’t have to go to the local farmer’s market to get some. You actually don’t have to go further than your own backyard.
TOM: Well, that’s right. Backyard honeybee hives are becoming very popular because honeybees, for the most part, are actually quite docile. Don’t get me wrong. If you mess with them, they’re going to mess with you. They do have stingers but they die when they sting, so they’re not really motivated to commit bee hara-kiri by stinging you.
LESLIE: So, what’s the attraction of having a backyard beekeeping setup? Well, a lot of people are into it because they like the idea of fresh, delicious local honey. And the hive also produces beeswax, which you can make into candles, lip balm, wood-furniture polish, so many other things.
Plus, I’ve heard ingesting honey from local bees sort of helps boost your immunity to the local allergens in your area, because you’re taking in that actual pollen. So you’ll be able to fight it better.
TOM: Ooh, that’s really interesting. I didn’t know that.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s not really as hard as you might think to get started on beekeeping. You can pretty much order everything you need online – including the bees, by the way – and have it delivered right to your front door. I guess you probably should warn your family not to open all the boxes, though.
LESLIE: Oh, God, could you imagine?
LESLIE: That would be a disaster.
TOM: But the first step – yeah, the first step is really, though, picking out a great spot for the hive. So one big factor is, really, protection from the wind. You want a spot that’s sheltered by trees or a fence or a higher part of your yard. And you also want a spot that gets lots of sunlight. So, the sunlight is going to give the warmth for the bees, so a south-facing spot is always good for beehives.
So, as you can see, not yard. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than we have time to talk about but not terribly difficult. But a very rewarding and sweet project to take on right about now.
LESLIE: Well, it’s almost the official start of summer. We can call it that. Memorial Day. And whatever it is you are doing in your area, you’re probably doing your best to keep your yard looking lovely and ready for the summer season.
So we’ve got a great prize for you this hour. It’s the Centurion Brands Collapsible Watering Can, plus garden accessories. I love that. It starts as a watering can and then it goes flat so you can store it away super easy. And it even comes with a collapsible bucket. Who knew?
TOM: How about that? The whole package is worth 55 bucks. Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Post your question at MoneyPit.com or call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. We’re going to talk decks and how to keep them beautiful, with John in North Carolina. What can we do for you?
JOHN: Well, we decided to take unused space and turn it into a deck, so we spent about four months. We toyed with Trex and pressure-treated and settled on cedar. And it looked absolutely gorgeous. We put a can of SPF stain on it. And that was – we finished last September.
This spring, we look out the window and it’s kind of whitish. It’s not the honey color. It’s like – a western cedar is what we have. So I got with Cabot and they were very surprised. So I guess they’re going to work something out with us. But is there something, either a stain or a – I’m thinking like a polyurethane or something that’s specific for cedar? It seems to be an unusual kind of wood.
TOM: It’s not that unusual. Basically, what you want to do is you’re going to want to prime it first. And then you’re going to cover it with a solid-color stain. If you use a semi-transparent stain, you’ll – you may see more of the grain. You’ll still see it through solid color but you don’t have as much pigment in it, so it doesn’t last quite as long. But if the deck is primed first – and when I prime cedar, I use an oil-based primer. And then on top of that, I’ll use a solid-color stain and it can last a really, really long time.
JOHN: Well, the only thing is we didn’t want to do the solid color because the cedar looks so beautiful.
TOM: Yeah, I get that. But the thing is you’re not going to preserve that natural color. Eventually, it’s going to fade to gray. You may not want to do it now but you will do it eventually. It’s going to happen with you or without you.
JOHN: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we all go gray, I guess.
JOHN: OK. Alright. Well, I appreciate it very much.
TOM: Alright, John. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, hey, over the winter, the combination of road salt and freezing weather can do some real damage to concrete surfaces. So if you’ve got steps or walkways or patios or driveways that are missing some chunks or they’re looking old and worn or dull, it used to be that you had to put up with that until it’s past its prime. And then you had to tear it out and start again.
But now, there’s a much easier solution. QUIKRETE makes it and it’s called Re-Cap – R-e-C-a-p.
LESLIE: Now, Re-Cap lets you recap and restore your concrete surfaces with a completely new surface at a fraction of the cost of replacing it.
Now, the new finish is beautiful and it’s going to last for years without separating from that old concrete below. And it’s so easy to use that you can do this project yourself. All you need to do is wash the surface with a pressure washer and then apply it by squeegee, a trowel or a brush.
TOM: So, with our patio – we have a paver-brick patio but we had sort of a concrete curb around the outside. And it was looking very cracked and chipped just because the water – the way it was sitting on it over the years. And I used Re-Cap to completely resurface it and it looked like a brand-new curb when I was done. It really was easy to use.
Re-Cap gives you an opportunity to create a durable finish, as well. It’s going to last for a lot of years. You should see this video that they have on QUIKRETE.com. Check out the Re-Cap video at QUIKRETE.com. That’s Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com. If you’ve got some concrete surfaces that are not looking so hot, this is the solution. It’s inexpensive, it’s easy to do and it’s going to last a really long time.
LESLIE: Mary in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
MARY: I’m redoing my basement and I’m wondering about flooring. It has had a rubber-backed carpet, which has been taken up so we’re down to the concrete. And I’m just wondering, what would be a good thing to put back down on the floor there?
TOM: So, rubber-backed carpet was kind of popular at one point in time. But generally speaking, we don’t recommend carpet for basements because they’re so damp. You can build up a lot of debris down there that can cause allergic reactions. You get dust mites and all that sort of thing that will nest in the carpet.
So I would look to a smooth-surface material. So your options might be laminate floor, which is beautiful. It could look like hardwood floor or tile. It’s made of different composite materials. It’s a very, very tough surface. And it floats. It doesn’t – it’s not glued down; it floats on top of the floor. Or you could choose a special type of hardwood floor called “engineered hardwood.”
Now, solid hardwood would not be recommended for a basement because it’s too moist. But engineered is made up of different layers of hardwood. It kind of looks – the guts of it kind of look like plywood but the surface, it looks like a regular hardwood floor. You can’t really tell the difference once it’s down. And I think that would be a good option, as well.
MARY: I really like the carpet down there.
LESLIE: Use area rugs. You’re just going to be sad. It’s just going to cause a lot of problems. It’s going to make you feel yucky. It’s going to feel damp down there.
TOM: And it’s a very dated look today, too. Things have changed in terms of décor. And I think the solid surface of a laminate floor or an engineered-hardwood floor would be much more common today.
MARY: Is there something feasible in a price range, though?
TOM: Yeah. Laminate floor is really affordable. You can get that for as little as maybe four bucks a square foot.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? Go online. I’ve seen laminate flooring just south of $2 a square foot. So there’s really some great options that are very affordable out there.
MARY: OK, thank you.
TOM: Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. But remember, post your question on The Money Pit’s Facebook page, just like Gary did.
Now, Gary writes: “My water pressure is pretty poor and I’m pretty sure it’s due to the fact that the water line from the street is more than 50 years old and made of galvanized steel. I can’t even do a load of laundry and take a shower at the same time. Outside of replacing this pipe, is there a pump I can install to increase the pressure for the whole house or even just the bathroom?”
TOM: Seems like that might be a solution but really, it’s not. Because if this pipe is rusted – which it most obviously is if it’s rusted. What happens with steel pipes, Gary, is they rust kind of like a clogged artery, you know. They basically push inward so that the opening is very, very tiny. If you started with ¾-inch, you can get down to the width of a pencil because the rust – as it expands, rust expands to fill about 8 times the space of the steel that it came from. So it really will push in and shut down these pipes.
And even if you were to add more pressure to it, you might just blow a hole in that pipe. Because a lot of times, what happens is you’ll get pinholes in these old, galvanized pipes and a little bit of water drips out. And then the mineral salts that are in that water sort of form a scab over the hole. And I always tell people not to wipe those away because then you get a bunch of leaks that start all over again.
So, really, this is time to start the pipe-replacement project. I know you’re trying to avoid this but it is time to do it. It’s probably past time. And frankly, if you don’t take it on now, you may be forced to take it on at some point, in the not-so-distant future, when you get a major break in this pipe. And if you’re really unlucky, it could happen when you’re not home and cause a lot of damage.
So, here’s what I would recommend. Here’s how you approach this project in a reasonable fashion. The first thing you want to do is you want to replace any visible galvanized piping in your house now. So, in the basement, in the attic, any unfinished rooms, any place you find a piece of old, steel galvanized pipe, you replace it now. That will result in some level of improvement of this problem.
The second thing that you do is if you ever do a repair and open up a wall, you never put it back together without replacing the galvanized pipe. And the third thing you do is you replace that pipe from the house to the street.
Now, if you’ve got a big budget, do it all at once, great. It’s definitely a weakness. I will tell you that the new plumbing that’s being used inside homes, PEX – P-E-X; stands for cross-linked polyethylene – is awesome stuff. You can feed this through walls and floors and spaces that you could never get galvanized pipe through or even copper pipe without having to do a lot of tear-out of wallboard. This PEX material, though, is very flexible, so you can really feed it through exactly where you need. And that makes the project a lot easier to get done.
So, that’s what you really have to start thinking about now because it’s not going to get any better; it’s only going to get worse. And right now, you have – still have a somewhat functioning system but we don’t want to have a major break happen, especially when you’re not around.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from David in Colorado who writes: “My roof is worn and I was wondering if it would be a good idea to paint the shingles to make them last longer.”
I don’t think you could do that.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean some people do that. There are, actually, some – I’ve seen some contractors sell that as a new roof and it’s a really bad idea.
The only kind of roof that you paint is a flat roof. And you use a type of aluminum paint on that that reflects sunlight. But for asphalt shingles, they are not designed to be painted. If they’re worn, you should simply replace this roof. If you’ve got multiple layers, I would take it down to the sheathing. But if you’ve just got one layer, you might be able to get away by putting a second layer on top of that.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. We hope that we’ve been able to give you some tips and ideas and suggestions for projects to get done in and around your house. Whether you’re doing these projects or you’re dreaming about a future project, we will be here for you to help you every step of the way. Reach out to us anytime by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions online at our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
For now, that’s all the time we have as the show moves online. 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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