It’s a great time of year for outdoor living and if you want to step up your space, we’ve got tips on how you can build your very own fire pit!
- Want a garden that not only looks good, but also serves an important purpose? Bees, hummingbirds and butterflies are all pollinators and play a big role in plant reproduction. Tom & Leslie have tips on how you can create a pollinator garden to give these creatures a place to carry out their good work!
- Are you ready to fire up your AC to keep cool and comfortable this summer? Well, there are three things you should do FIRST to make sure your system is good to go for the warm season ahead.
- When summer heat sets in, your lawn may suffer. We have tips on how to keep lawns healthy through summer drought.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, whether or not to replace plumbing supply lines, preparing your roof for a metal roof installation, repair cracking grout, refinishing bar stools, getting rid of feral cats
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 on the projects you’d like to get done around your house. If you have some ideas on projects that will help you make your home the best home ever, well, we’re here to help you get those projects accomplished. If you don’t know where to start, you can start by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will give you some tips, some advice, some ideas on how to get that project going or get it done. Or we’ll let you know if you’re in over your head and what your next steps might be. But what’s on your to-do list is on our to-do list, as well. So help yourself by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on this episode, it’s a great time of year for outdoor living. But if you want to step up your space, we’re going to have some tips on how you can build your very own fire pit and have a place to have those s’mores every night of the week if you like.
LESLIE: That sounds good.
And if you’re looking for a garden that not only looks good but also serves an important purpose, well, bees, hummingbirds and butterflies are all pollinators and play a big role in plant reproduction. We’re going to have tips on how you can create a pollinator garden to give these creatures a place to carry out their good work.
TOM: And are you ready to fire up your A/C to keep cool and comfortable this summer? Well, there are actually three things that you should do first to make sure your system is good to go for the warm season ahead.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear from you. What are you guys working on? Give us a call. Let us know what projects are on your to-do list, what you’re thinking about, maybe something that’s giving you a hard time. Whatever it is, we’re here to lend a hand. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Celina in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CELINA: Last week, I had estimates done on my home to have all my drainpipes replaced.
TOM: Hmm. Why did you do that?
CELINA: My house was built in 1944 and we’ve had some trouble here lately with clogs and everything. So, I just decided to go ahead and replace all the drain lines.
TOM: Is that because the – you were getting roots and that sort of thing in the pipes?
CELINA: I don’t think there’s roots in them, no, because we’ve had those – the pipe from the house back to the drain replaced already. This is just the inside pipe. And they’re old and yes, we have had a couple of them to rupture but I just decided to get them all replaced.
However, today, my son told me that all of that is useless if I don’t get the main line coming into the house replaced, also. And I wanted to see what your take was on that.
TOM: Well, we’re talking about two different types of pipes. You’re talking about drainage pipes versus supply pipes. And the supply pipe that comes into the house may or may not need to be replaced. The questions I would have for you are: what’s the pipe made out of and are we having any problems with it?
Now, in an older house, you may have the original steel plumbing – steel main-water pipe – coming into the house which, if the house was built – did you say the 40s?
TOM: That’s a super-old pipe that definitely is at risk of breaking.
CELINA: OK, great. So when they come back out to do my plumbing, because they’re doing it in two weeks, I need to ask them to look at the pipe. And that means – because none of the people that gave me estimates even mentioned it was bad.
TOM: Well, I would take a look at that. And typically, in a house, you don’t replace the drainpipes. I’m a little surprised that you’re doing that. Typically, in an older house with steel pipes, you end up replacing the supply pipes. And you do the horizontal pipes first because they’re the easiest to access. And you do the vertical pipes that go up through the walls last because they’re the hardest to access. And you can do it in stages.
The first step of a steel-pipe conversion is to do the main. The second one is to do all the horizontals in the basement crawlspace and the third is to do the verticals. And so, typically, that’s what you do in a house that has that kind of plumbing.
You mentioned you had some problems with clogging with the drainpipes but that’s pretty unusual. And I actually have never heard of anyone wanting to replace drainpipes. Typically, they replace supply pipes.
So you might want to get a second opinion on this and not just take the opinion of the plumber that wants the work.
CELINA: OK, great. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Celina. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Kansas where Russ has a roofing question. What can we do for you?
RUSS: OK. I’ve got a farm that I bought eight years ago and on the farm, there’s a very large, very old barn. A matter of fact, the loft is large enough that you could probably fit a regulation-sized basketball court inside of it. According to the graffiti inside the barn, it was built in either ‘34 or ‘38. And it was done originally with cedar-shake shingles with 1×4 stringers, what, about every 4 inches or about a 3½-inch space in between them.
TOM: Yep. I know the construction well.
RUSS: OK. And as you know, those cedar shingles are not going to be in very good condition as of this point. So I know I’m going to have to go up there. Trying to figure out a safe way to work up there so I can remove the cedar shingles, so I can prep it to go back with, probably, a metal roof. The question is – I’ll have to screw the roof down. The question is: am I – will I be able to go directly with the 1x4s with the metal roofing or would I be better off nailing everything fully and putting down some plywood or OSB?
TOM: Well, I think that a good roofer could work with the 1-by furring strips that are up there right now. Because, frankly, that’s the way metal roof was originally put down. It wasn’t put down on solid sheathing; it was put down on strips just like that. So I think that that’s a fine option for you. I don’t think you need to do the sheathing in this particular case.
If you were going to put down asphalt shingles, I’d tell you you need to sheathe it. But for a metal roof, you may have to do some additional carpentry to get the strips where you want them, to make the seams on the roof and so on, but I don’t see a reason for you to sheathe this barn. I think the metal can go right on top of that.
RUSS: OK. So patch the rotted 1x4s and maybe put in some where the seams are and we should be good that way?
RUSS: OK. Do you have any suggestions on how to safely work on a 45-degree pitch?
TOM: Yeah. Call a roofer. It’s not a do-it-yourself project. I mean that’s a really high-end project and if you do it every day, you have all the appropriate safety gear and scaffolding and skill set to be able to work on that. That’s a very dangerous place to try out your do-it-yourself skills. Because handling those big sheets up there, you get a wind gust and you start flying off the roof. Those medical bills add up very quickly, so I would definitely recommend that you have a professional do this.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Washington State where Sabrina is dealing with some grout that’s cracking up. And it’s not laughing; it’s falling apart. Tell us what’s going on.
SABRINA: So I had some grout installed quite some time ago. And they’re about 18-inch tile pieces. And what I’m noticing now is there are several places – it’s kind of happening all over – where the grout is actually cracking. And I’m not sure what to do.
TOM: So, is it a fine crack or is it a big crack?
SABRINA: The grout is cracking and now some of the tile pieces are cracking.
TOM: Yeah, that’s a problem. It sounds to me like the tile was not put down on a base that was solid enough. When you use a big tile like that, you need to have a really strong base. So you have to have a mud base or you have to have a tile base. And you may even have to have an expansion material underneath that so that you don’t get this kind of cracking. If you don’t get good support across an 18-inch tile and you get a little bit of movement in the floor, it cracks very quickly.
So, I think this – at this point, it’s going to be something you’re going to have to manage. And if it gets really bad, you’re going to end up taking those tiles out and replacing them. It’s very hard to recover from this when the tile job was potentially not done right to begin with.
SABRINA: Yeah. And I was wondering if it has anything to do with – I’ve heard a couple of people tell me that the underlayment – and maybe you said that – the underlayment wasn’t secured down properly or whatnot.
TOM: It wasn’t strong enough, right. It wasn’t strong enough. You see, if there’s more – if there’s flex in the floor, the tile is not going to bend, it’s going to crack. And so that’s why the tile – what’s under that tile has to be really solid. With a – bigger the tile, the wider the tile, the less forgiving it is. If you put mosaic down, you know, it can move all day long and you’re never going to see those cracks. But when you put a big, 18-inch square tile down, it’s got nowhere to go.
SABRINA: It’s got nowhere to go.
SABRINA: And what is your recommendation for my – for correcting it?
TOM: Unfortunately, there’s no easy recommendation. If the tile project was done wrong to begin with, there’s nothing I can tell you to do that’s going to fix it at this point in time. It’s really going to be something that you’re going to have to tolerate and eventually, you’re going to end up replacing them. And this time, you’re going to do the proper job with putting the floor down.
How long have these tiles been down?
SABRINA: About five years.
TOM: I was going to say, whoever put them down didn’t really do the job right. You’re going to end up having to tear it out and do it again.
SABRINA: That’s OK. Well, thank you, guys. I just wanted to talk to some professionals. And I heard your show and I really appreciate you guys giving me the advice.
TOM: You’ve got it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, Father’s Day is just a couple of weeks away and we’ve launched a new sweepstakes to help you win tools for Dad. It’s called the DIY Dad Giveaway and we’ve got 10 sets of tools from Arrow to give away to 10 lucky winners.
LESLIE: That’s right. Each set is worth $120 and includes both a T50 and a PT50 Arrow Stapler, as well an Arrow GT300 Fastener Pro High-Temp Glue Gun, which really is perfect for taking on dozens of projects around the house.
Arrow is all about making durable, reliable tools and fasteners. And these tools will give your dad years of use.
TOM: And you can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com. And be sure to take advantage of the many ways you can earn extra bonus entries, by subscribing to our podcast or visiting us on social media.
LESLIE: Tim in Iowa has a wood-finishing question. How can we help you?
TIM: I’ve got an old house. It’s got fir floors. I have acquired some reclaimed fir flooring to put in an addition, to try and match up the rest of the house. The question I have is – this is going to be the first floor that I redo in the house, so I kind of wanted to – whatever I do, I want to do it in the rest of the house.
But the question I have is on the clear finish. I know a lot of different companies are making a water-based clear. And my second question is whether – or as far as durability, whether if something of that product would be durable.
And then also, I have a couple of dogs that I’m worried about nail scratches, as far as sheen goes. I know the shinier it is, the easier – the more scratches you can see. So, I’m curious if there’s anything out there that shines good and will resist scratches.
TOM: Yeah. I have always felt that oil-based floor finishes are key. Any time I’ve tried to use a water-based floor finish, it doesn’t seem to have the durability. So I would definitely recommend an oil-based floor finish, like a polyurethane.
And in terms of sheen, I think that semi-gloss is what you want, not high gloss because that does show. Not only does it show scratches, it shows a lot of dirt easier. But semi-gloss or satin is a nice color to have.
So I think the answer is oil-based, satin polyurethane is the solution.
TIM: Is there any kind of a two-part epoxy one that’s even more durable than the polyurethane or …?
TOM: There are. There are two-part finishes like that. Professional floor installers do use those, like when they do sort of gym floors and that kind of stuff. But it’s not sort of an over-the-counter purchase. You’d have to go to a flooring-finish supply company.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. And that’s going to have to be applied in a manner where you’re really thinking about ventilation and protection of yourself, because that’s a fairly caustic material.
TIM: Alright. Thank you very much, guys.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, I’m a big hiker and after a long day on the trail, one of the things that’s fun to do is to relax around the campfire. Well, you can have that campfire feeling all year long – and without the hike – in your very own backyard when you build a fire pit.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? It’s not a difficult project and it’s made even easier when you use RumbleStone from Pavestone.
Now, RumbleStone is an outdoor building block. Basically, you just stack it and then it fits together quickly and easily.
TOM: Yeah. I mean it’s really very easy to use. So for a round fire pit that, say, is about 10 inches high and about 45 inches across, you’d need only 2 sizes of RumbleStone: the mini-blocks and the trapezoidal-shape blocks. You just start by creating a stable, level project area and then you just lay out the trapezoidal blocks and the mini-blocks in a circle. You alternate each one. And they can even be secured with construction adhesive if you like. You don’t have to but if you’d like. And there’s no mortar required. So it couldn’t be easier to stack these up just like building blocks, like the kind you used as a kid, in the shape of a fire pit.
LESLIE: It’s really great. And three layers of RumbleStone is really all you need. For the second and third level, just offset those blocks from the layer beneath it. And then just line the bottom with sand and you’ll be ready to fire up s’mores in no time.
TOM: Yep. For a complete material list and instructions on how to do it, plus videos, go to Pavestone.com. And look for the RumbleStone videos under the How-To Guide tab. That’s Pavestone.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ben in Illinois on the line with a popcorn-ceiling question. How can we help you today?
BEN: Got a probably 70s, ranch-style home.
TOM: 1970 was a very good year for popcorn.
BEN: Yes, it was. They had this popcorn ceiling all the way in the TV room, uninterrupted, that goes through the kitchen.
BEN: And uninterrupted flow goes all the way down the hallway.
TOM: OK. So what happened? Did you have a leak or something?
BEN: Had some wind damage to some shingles and it came down through the attic. And it stained some of the popcorn ceiling in the TV room. I since put a new roof on but it – yeah, it stained it and some of the popcorn stuff came off.
TOM: So, is the popcorn physically damaged except for losing a few kernels, so to speak?
BEN: Well, there’s still a little bit of staining on the stuff that didn’t fall. But there’s some sections that did.
TOM: You’re going to have to repaint the popcorn ceiling. And it’s kind of a pain-in-the-neck job but it can be done. The key here is this: you want to use a very, very thick roller and one that’s slit. The rollers are about ¾-inch or even an inch thick and they have a slice, kind of, in them every inch or so. And so it uses a lot of paint.
And the key thing is you’re going to want to use a primer first. Don’t just do this with topcoat, because that leak stain will come right through. So you prime the popcorn ceiling first and then you paint it.
Now, if you’re missing a bunch of area of popcorn and you want to touch that up, there are a number of companies that make popcorn-repair products. One of it’s called Homax – H-o-m-a-x. And they have a spray where it’s as easy as using an aerosol spray-can that you basically shoot up there and it will replace the texture. So you can kind of fill in the area where some of that material has come off. And then, since you’re painting, you paint the whole thing over again.
Now, whether you go from end to end in the house is up to you or whether you, you know, just kind of decide where you’re going to stop painting, that’s your call. Maybe there’s a natural place for that, maybe there’s not. But you have to paint it; that’s the only way you’re going to be able to get this to look normal again.
And by the way, one final thing, when you do paint it with the topcoat, make sure you use flat ceiling paint.
BEN: Gotcha. And I guess a two-prong question here, if I still have time. To fill in those spots where the popcorn ceiling came off, how do I avoid this major overlap if I use this aerosol spray that’s supposed to fill in?
TOM: Well, you’re just going to kind of thin it out in the areas where it already exists and then go a little bit heavier. You have some control over it. It’s not going to look like a patch. It will be whiter than everything else but you’re going to paint this whole thing, anyway, when you’re done. So, what we want to do is really just replace the texture and then you’re going to paint everything. And so it’ll all blend in nicely when it’s done.
BEN: OK. And I would plan on doing a transition: maybe a fancy wood deal that goes over to block that TV-room ceiling off from where it goes into the kitchen. And I could connect it to the kitchen counters that extend out a little bit. That way I wouldn’t have to do the non-damaged sections and repaint them, as well.
TOM: Why don’t you do that after you paint the section that’s damaged and see how you like it? Because you’re going to – you’ll be surprised with how dirty and dingy that ceiling has gotten when it has some new paint against it. It’s going to look pretty fresh and clean and might inspire you to do the whole thing.
BEN: And that just might. That’s a very good point. I appreciate that very much, Tom.
LESLIE: Jo in California is on the line and needs some help with some bar-stool restoration. Tell us what they look like.
JO: Well, they have wooden arms and they’re padded, they’re cloth. And then down at the bottom, where the feet are at, they’ve got little wooden rails on them. And I need to redo them. I’ve got them cleaned and brushed down and everything. And somebody said I should use spar varnish on them and I need to know what to get to put on them – on the wood.
LESLIE: Is there any metal at all? It’s all wood?
JO: No. Everything else is padded.
LESLIE: So everything else is fabric.
JO: The arms are wood. It’s got one, two, three, four little metal legs on it, at the bottom, and halfway up. And they’re wood. And I’ve got them ready to paint but I don’t know what to put on it.
TOM: So you want to refinish the wood in a clear – for the clear finish or a painted finish? A clear finish?
JO: Clear finish.
TOM: OK. So, yeah, I mean you can use spar varnish on it; that’s a fine product. What you’re going to have to do, though, is lightly sand all those wood surfaces.
JO: They’re ready. They have already done that.
TOM: You’ve done that. OK. Well, then, you’ve done the hard part if you’ve done all the sanding. But what I would tell you to do is to be very careful to get the varnish only on the wood and not on any of the padded areas or the metal areas.
LESLIE: Yeah. This is going to be about creative masking and taping things off and covering things with plastic and tape and …
TOM: Yeah. Because if you get it on there, you’re going to have a problem. So you want to mask it very carefully to keep it away from the areas where you don’t want the spar varnish to get.
JO: Yeah, OK. And you think that’s the best to get? Because somebody else said, “No, you don’t want to use that. You want to use clear acrylic.”
TOM: Well, look, it’s a personal preference. The varnish is – I believe spar varnish is oil-based, which is fine. And it’s actually – you’ll find that the oil-based finishes are a little more durable in terms of abrasion resistance.
LESLIE: And I think they give a better sheen, as well.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a good point. Mm-hmm. They take a little longer to dry but they are a tougher finish.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. With the acrylic – “clear coats,” as they call it – it’s even available in a spray I’ve seen. I guess that really kind of depends on how raw the wood is, how much coverage you want. Again, masking is going to be the key here. And you really need to consider how much of a sheen you want. Think about that, as well, when you’re making your selection. Because if you want something that’s super shiny and almost has that wet look, really, that oil-based varnish is the way to go.
Hey, do you want a garden that not only looks good but also serves an important purpose? Well, there are a lot of species out there – including bees, hummingbirds and butterflies – that play a big role in plant reproduction.
TOM: Yep. They’re called “pollinators” and they really are incredibly important to life here on Earth. So, it’s always fun to give these creatures a place to carry out their good work.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, when you’re thinking about planting a pollinator garden, it’s the variety that counts because it provides a variety of nectar and pollen sources. So, three things that you’ve got to remember.
First of all, you want a variety of flower colors and shapes because that’s going to attract different types of pollinators. Then you want to choose plants that flower at different times of the year, because that’s going to provide nectar and pollen sources throughout the gardening season and not all at once.
And whenever it’s possible, guys, try to choose plants that are native to your area or your region, your zone. This way, they’ll thrive where you live and you’re not going to be constantly struggling to make it work. So find something that grows where you’re from and you’ll have major success.
TOM: And one final tip. When you are ready to plant – typically, when we plant flowers, for example, we’re big on sort of spacing everything out. But in this case, you actually want to plant them in clumps rather than single plants, because this helps to attract the pollinators all that much better.
LESLIE: Heading over to Oklahoma, right now, to talk to Sheila about a kitchen do-over. How can we help you paint those countertops?
SHEILA: I recently – my husband and I remodeled our kitchen and we refinished our cabinets and we – they had – we had some recessed lighting done and we didn’t have enough money for our counters. So, I’ve been looking at, online, some stuff about repainting your countertops. And I wanted to know your opinion about it or if you’d heard anyone doing that or what your thoughts are on that.
TOM: Yeah, the countertop paints have been out for probably five or eight years now and they seem to do very, very well. I know Rust-Oleum has an extensive line of countertop paints out that are available in many, many colors. So I think it is a good option.
I think it’ll buy you a little bit of time on those countertops so that you can avoid having to replace them. And you’ll have the opportunity to paint in either a solid color or they have countertop paints now that kind of look like stone countertops. They look like granite and other types of natural materials. So I think they’re a very good option and I would encourage you to pursue it.
SHEILA: Yeah, I actually found a company online that sells them – their product – locally at one of our wallpaper stores and have actually purchased the items. I just haven’t started the project yet.
TOM: What you might want to do is try to get your hands on a piece of laminate. And you can go to a home center and buy a really small piece of laminate, like a scrap. And this way, you can practice a little bit before you actually get it on your countertop.
SHEILA: Do you know about the length of time and how durable it is as far as lasting?
TOM: It’s not as durable as the laminate but it’s pretty good.
SHEILA: Yeah, OK. Well, great. Thank you, Tom, for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sheila. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You know, Father’s Day is just a couple of weeks away and we are launching a new sweepstakes to help you win tools for Dad. It’s called the DIY Dad Giveaway and we’ve got 10 sets of tools from Arrow to give away to 10 lucky winners.
TOM: That’s right. Each set is worth 120 bucks and includes both a T50 and a PT50, which are both Arrow staple guns, as well as an Arrow GT300 High-Temp Glue Gun, which is perfect for taking on dozens of projects around the house.
Arrow is really about making durable, reliable tools and fasteners. And these tools are going to give your dad years of use.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. You can enter one time a day at MoneyPit.com. And be sure to take advantage of the many ways that you can earn extra entries, by subscribing to our podcast or visiting us on social media.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jeff in South Carolina is dealing with some unwanted visitors to their money pit. Tell us what’s going on.
JEFF: I have a couple of feral cats that are running around in my backyard. I have a birdbath and the cats stop at that birdbath. And when the birds come in to take a drink and then splash, they jump up and they kill the bird. And what I’ve done is I’ve poured the water out of the birdbath to keep the birds away. But how do I get rid of the cats?
TOM: I mean there’s a lot of initiatives around the country, with organizations that will help deal with the feral-cat issue. Many of them run what’s called a TNR program, which is Trap, Neuter and Return. So, the idea is that they trap the cats humanely, like with a Havahart trap or something like that. They neuter them, then they return them to the environment but hopefully not in your neighborhood where they’re used to finding that source of food.
And so I would turn to an organization like that that can help you trap the cats and get them off of your property. And if they have the added support that they can neuter the cats – and that helps the overall community from stopping these cats from reproducing.
LESLIE: And you know what else? We had an issue years ago when – there’s a person on our block who feeds every cat in town. Has about 30 cats and kittens just living in their backyard. And the neighbor next door was doing a ton of work. There was a dumpster with food scraps and stuff in it. And so all the cats kind of just meandered into my yard.
And I had called the village because honestly, I didn’t mind the cats being there but they were killing a possum. And now, all of a sudden, I had to clean up a dead possum and birds. And I really don’t want to be doing that. So I called the village and the village referred me to the town. So, long story short, I made a bunch of calls to finally get to someone in the county who told me that where I live, feral cats have the same rights as squirrels, which means you can do nothing about them.
But if you do find a local cat rescue, they might be willing to come and help you take the cats, find them a place to be adopted by. And maybe if you find a place that you feel comfortable with, a donation might not hurt in helping them to get the cats off your property. So, you never know. I might make a call to your town or your village and see where that goes, too.
JEFF: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, now that it’s starting to get warmer, it really is a good time to have your A/C serviced. Central air conditioners work by using a chemical refrigerant that’s going to soak up the heat inside your house and then transfer that heat to the exterior. And if it’s weak, it’s going to cost you a lot more for that system to run.
TOM: That’s right. So here’s an easy way to check how well your system is actually cooling.
Now, when an air-conditioning system is working properly, it should produce a temperature differential of 15 to 20 degrees. That means that between the return air, where it goes back to the system, and the supply air when it comes out the register, the temperature differential – the difference – should be 15 to 20 degrees.
Now, if the temperature differential is more like 12 degrees, that’s a problem because that means that system has to run that much longer, maybe almost twice as long, to do the same job cooling. And that’s going to be really, really expensive.
So, it’s a good idea just to check those temperatures at the supply and at the return and see what the split is. If it’s not 15 to 20 degrees, then it might be time to have it serviced.
LESLIE: Yeah. And even after you have the service, you want to make sure that your central air-conditioning system stays in shape by changing that filter at least once a month. And there are a good range of filter qualities available, so make sure you buy a good-quality one that’ll do its job well. And remember to change it. I feel like I always make the mistake of forgetting so I always, toward the end of the month in the summer, stick it right by the return duct in the middle of the hallway so I practically have to trip over it every day.
TOM: I used to laugh when I was a home inspector when you could see that you were – the person’s furnace had absolute zero maintenance. But darn it, the day before the home inspect came in, they changed that filter.
LESLIE: “I change the filter all the time.”
TOM: It’s like, “Guys, too little too late.”
Margaret in Virginia is next on The Money Pit. How can we help you, Margaret?
MARGARET: I have an old house. Part of it built Civil War era.
MARGARET: The floors in the oldest part are pine and they’re about – 2 of the boards are about 2½ inches wide. In the newer part, the boards of the floor are oak and they’re more narrow. I want to know how to safely clean them and keep them protected.
TOM: There’s a product called Trewax, which is perfect for this particular application. It’s made by the Beaumont Company. And Trewax has been around for many, many, many, many years. And it’s actually a natural cleaner for hardwood floors. So you can find that at retailers across the country. You could find that online.
But look for Trewax Natural Floor Cleaner. And it’s going to enable you to clean those floors very thoroughly without damaging the wood. And that’s what’s critical, because some of the floor products are not really designed for wood floors. Sometimes there’s too much moisture in them, they don’t evaporate well and they leave too much moisture in the wood. And that causes the wood to swell or stain further.
So, look up Trewax. It’s not expensive and it works very well.
MARGARET: OK. So is this a put on and wipe off?
MARGARET: OK. That sounds good.
TOM: Trewax is spelled T-r-e-w-a-x.
MARGARET: OK. One E. OK. Got it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Did those spring rains show you guys that you have some leaks that you didn’t really know about? Well, Whitney here posted a question that says, “The winds in my coastal area often hit windows at an angle. The problem is we have a leaky sliding-glass door where the door meets the ceiling. We’ve tried adjusting the gutters by pitching them but that leak continues. I was told the leak can start anywhere, so I’m not sure how to fix it. Can you help?”
TOM: Yeah. It’s tricky sometimes, especially when you get those leaks that are caused by driving rain or wind-driven rain. It sounds like the problem might be with the flashing or the lack of flashing around your sliding-glass door.
Now, flashing is a protective sort of sealing membrane that’s designed to provide sort of a watertight seal between the door and the siding, because that’s really where it’s most vulnerable. Now, the problem is that sometimes this flashing will crack. It will be reliant sometimes on caulk or some other type of sealer. And I find then when that happens you’re really best to take the siding off around the door and reflash it properly.
There’s kind of two ways you can attack this. I mean you could try to throw more sealer on it or more caulk on it or just sort of guess at where these leaks are coming from. Or you can just basically pull the siding off from around the door and reflash it. The difference is that now – because compared to the time when this place was built – there’s a lot better flashing products out there. In fact, there are these flexible membranes that are self-adhering, that you essentially stretch up under the siding and over the edge of the door. And if there’s an area that’s not completely flat, it doesn’t buckle or crack or check. And it actually can do a much more effective job.
Now, if you want to try something in sort of the interim, what you could do to try to get a better idea as to where this is leaking is take a garden hose. And set it to sort of a medium flow and then put it right above the siding above the door and sort of work it across that entire top of the door very slowly. Have somebody on the inside watching for it to leak. It might show you, if you’re lucky, maybe one area of that flashing where it’s leaking. And then maybe you can then investigate just that one section rather than take all of the siding off.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you out, Whitney.
Next up, we’ve got a post here from Jason. Now, Jason writes: “Last summer, the combination of hot weather and very little rain had my lawn looking more like a hayfield. Is the grass dead? Can I save it? What if this happens again?”
TOM: It can be difficult, when you have those dog days of summer, to maintain a healthy lawn. But that summer heat can actually – you can work with it. When it turns the grass brown, the key here is to just not walk on it. If you walk on it, then it takes forever to come back. But if you can just let it sit and just stay to your walkways and not walk on it, you’re not going to damage it. It will actually sort of re-green itself and regrow itself very quickly if you can kind of stay off it.
A couple other things that you can keep in mind. First, you want to cut back on mowing when you have the very hot, dry weather because the grass is going to go into a somewhat dormant state. It can also appear dead then but it’ll come back when the weather conditions improve. So, mowing once a week is plenty. And it also is best to keep the grass a little longer in the summer because it kind of shades itself.
LESLIE: I love it. It gives itself its own cooling spot.
TOM: Yeah. And if you cut too frequently, that means the grass is going to lose more moisture. So, a couple of things to keep in mind if we do turn to a period of the summer where we have very, very little rain.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you out, Jason. Good luck and I – and may you have a beautiful, green lawn this summer.
TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show and we are so glad that you are. We’re just about out of time for this episode but if you’ve got questions, we are always standing by to take them, even when we are not on the air. You can get in touch with us by posting those questions to The Money Pit’s Facebook community at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Or of course, you can always call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Thanks so much for joining us. 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.)