In this episode…
The right deck design can make your home appear larger than it is – which is why adding a backyard deck can actually increase your home’s value. Tom & Leslie have tips on how to choose a deck design that works for you. Plus…
- Squeaks, creaks, drips, bangs and hisses – are all noises your house makes, but have you ever wondered what’s behind them? We’ll tell you how to sniff out and silence the most common house noises and whether those noises might signal a bigger problem needing a fix.
- Do you want to contribute to a sustainable environment and maybe even save a few bucks along the way? If your answer to those questions is “Yes,” then reclaimed lumber may be the perfect fit for your next home improvement project!
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, installing molding, which plants are good for shady areas, cleaning rust stains off a patio, shifting foundation, installing a whole house dehumidifier.
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 so glad to be with you on this beautiful day. And we hope that you have some projects in mind that you’d like to get done around your house, because we’re here to coach you along, to give you some tips, some ideas, some inspiration to avoid that perspiration when you’re trying to get those projects done. So whether you are working inside or out, floorboards to shingles, storage and organization, paint, décor, smart-home products, give us a call. We’ll talk you through how to get it done. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, we’re going to kick it right off by talking about deck design. You know, a beautiful deck can make your home appear a lot larger than it really is. And that’s just one reason why adding a backyard deck can help improve your space. It could also increase your home’s value. So we’re going to have tips on how you can choose a design that works for you, just ahead.
LESLIE: And squeaks, creaks, drips, bangs and hisses, these are all the noises that your house makes. But maybe you’ve been wondering where the heck they come from. We’re going to tell you how to sniff out and silence the most common house noises and whether those noises might be a signal that something bigger is going on that needs a fix.
TOM: I thought you were going to say those were the noises that your spouse makes.
LESLIE: It’s just your family, guys. Sorry.
TOM: And also ahead, do you want to contribute to a sustainable environment, maybe even save a few bucks along the way? Well, if your answer is yes, then you should think about using reclaimed lumber in your next home improvement project. We’re going to tell you all about that – where you find it, what it’s great for, how to get it affordably – in just a bit.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you are working on. So give us a call. Let us know what you are planning, what your big summer home improvement dreams are. So give us a call.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s up first?
LESLIE: Brian in Rhode Island is working on some crown molding. How can we help you?
BRIAN: I’m putting up some crown molding above cabinets. Now, I’ve worked with crown molding before. I have this ingenious jig that – I believe it’s called a Cut-N-Crown.
BRIAN: And when you put it together with your miter saw, it does a good job of the angles for inside and outside corners.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.
BRIAN: And what I can’t figure out is now I’m trying to do crown molding above some kitchen cabinets that I’ve installed, OK? And I’m not quite sure how to nail it on. I don’t want to nail into the stile above the door or the rail above the door because number one, I don’t want to do that. Number two, it looks like it could split it, so I’m just trying to figure out what people do to fasten crown molding above kitchen cabinets.
TOM: So, you have space above these cabinets – empty space, so to speak – between the cabinet and the ceiling?
BRIAN: Yes, I do.
TOM: OK. Well, I think you are going to have to mechanically attach it to those cabinets.
Now, whether you do that with nails or some other fastening system is going to be up to you. But is this a hardwood crown molding? Is this oak?
BRIAN: Yes, it is.
TOM: So you’re going to have to pilot drill – anything you do with this has to be pilot-drilled, because you can’t just nail through it; it’s going to split it. So you’re going to have to get a drill bit that’s just slightly smaller than the nail or the screw that you’re using and pilot-drill through this.
Now, I wouldn’t hesitate to attach it to the cabinet body above the door if I had the space. If you wanted to try to kind of hedge your bet a little bit, get a little bit more control, what you could do is you could attach a nailing strip or a screwing strip, so to speak, on top of that cabinet. So let’s say you have a piece of wood that maybe is 1×1 square. Well, you attach that to the top of the cabinet, you drill down so it attaches into the top stile of that cabinet and now you have a much bigger, flatter surface for you to kind of have some meat behind it, get that nail or screw into, you know what I mean?
BRIAN: OK. I know exactly what you mean. I know exactly what you mean. In fact, now that I see what you’re saying, I might want to improve that just a little more. I might want to take something that’s like a 2×3 or something along that line and cut it out so it fits above it but I can’t screw from above to attach it. So, if I’ve got the room, I might (inaudible).
TOM: Why not? How much space is there?
BRIAN: There’s about 4 inches.
TOM: Oh, yeah, you can’t do that. No, you’d have to go – then you’d have to go from underneath. You could go from underneath. You could drill up from the underside of the cabinet stile – the front stile. You can go up that way and attach it there.
BRIAN: That sounds good. That would solve my problem.
TOM: Alright. There you go. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that kitchen.
LESLIE: Janet in Arizona needs some help gardening. What can we do for you?
JANET: I live in Sedona, Arizona, which is – and I live kind of up in a canyon area headed up towards Flagstaff here. And I have a really hard time getting any plants to grow around the very shady sides of my house, in kind of border boxes and things like that. And I’ve tried a few different things and just with not much luck. So I’m just wondering if you guys have any suggestions.
TOM: What have you tried?
JANET: I’ve tried coleuses, pansies. Right now, I do actually have something called Astilbe that’s kind of working there.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Have you tried hostas?
JANET: Hostas? I don’t think I’ve tried hostas.
TOM: What about a copper plant? Have you ever seen a copper plant? They’re very beautiful. They’re sort of a greenish, red, orange kind of a plant with big leaves.
JANET: Oh, nice. No, I haven’t heard that one. I can look for that, yeah. That would be great.
TOM: You said you tried – what about Begonias? That’s a good shade flower.
JANET: I think I’ve tried those in my hanging baskets and they don’t do well, either.
TOM: Well, some of this is going to be trial and error. I know that Home Depot has a new garden club that they’re doing now out of the local stores. And they’ve got some real experts that are associated with that.
TOM: So that might be a good place. Or just go to a local nursery and see what they recommend.
JANET: Yeah. OK. Will do.
TOM: But those are the typical shade plants that we would put in desert locations.
LESLIE: I use hosta all across the country whenever there’s shade. And they come back. They’re very hardy. It’s a perennial, so it’ll come back season after season if you’re able to.
JANET: Yeah. OK.
LESLIE: And they really – they thrive in the shade. And there’s a ton of different varieties of hosta, so you can find them sort of variegated from a yellow and green, a green and white, different tones on the greens.
JANET: Uh-huh. Right. Right.
LESLIE: So there’s probably one that you like. And occasionally, the ones that I have in my super-shady areas almost never flower. The ones that get partial shade will get sort of a long, wispy one stem with a couple of purple flowers on it.
JANET: Mm-hmm. Right, right. Right.
LESLIE: But check them out because you really can’t kill them.
JANET: Yeah. Yeah, I think that that’s a great suggestion. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: You’re so welcome.
TOM: Well, Father’s Day is just a couple of weeks away and to celebrate, we have launched a new sweepstakes. And if you enter, you can help win tools for Dad. It’s called the DIY Dad Giveaway and we’ve got 10 sets of tools – 10 complete sets – from Arrow to give away to 10 lucky winners.
LESLIE: That’s right. Each set is worth $120 and it includes both a T50 and a PT50 Arrow Stapler, as well as an Arrow GT300 Fastener Pro High-Temp Glue Gun. It’s perfect for taking on dozens of projects around the house.
Now, Arrow is all about making really durable, reliable tools and fasteners. So these tools will give the dad in your life years of use.
TOM: Yeah. You know, my first T50 Staple Gun was my dad’s.
LESLIE: You still have it.
TOM: Yeah, I still have it and it was Dad’s.
LESLIE: Was it – wait, it was your dad’s?
TOM: It was my dad’s. I still have it. Yep. These things just don’t wear out. They’re fantastic.
You can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com. And while you’re there, be sure to take advantage of the many ways that we are offering for you to earn extra bonus entries, like subscribing to our podcast or visiting us on social media. That’s online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Going to the Great North. We’ve got Gunner in Alaska on the line who needs some help with a window problem. What’s going on over there?
GUNNER: I had double-pane windows that fogged. I understand that they fogged because the seal breaks. But I had a contractor come up. They advertised on the radio that rather than buy new windows, they had a way of removing that condensation.
What they did is they – on the outside panes they drill a small hole on the bottom and a small hole at the top. And they did a cleaning. I think they even squirted water in there and evacuated it. I didn’t see it done but I’ve seen it on YouTube. And then they put these little plastic plugs there where the holes used to be.
Didn’t really clear up. It almost looked like it got worse, so I called and complained and the contractor said, “Well, in 3 to 12 weeks, it should go away. It should clear up.” And by golly, it did. Which kind of shocked me, because I’m an engineer and all my training says that if you have something open to the outside air, it’s going to have moisture in it. And that’s one reason why it fogged in the first place. And I don’t think they created a vacuum, so I didn’t know how that worked.
TOM: Well, this is the first I’ve heard of that system, Gunner. I’m not familiar with it at all. I would have the same reaction that you would. I would think it’s not the kind of thing that would be my first choice.
I would generally tell people that when you get fogged windows, yeah, the window is slightly less efficient but it doesn’t necessarily mean the window has to be replaced. If you’re concerned about appearance, you want to make sure you want to see clearly through it, I could see where perhaps, on a limited basis, that you might want to experiment with something like that.
But what they’ve done is essentially just cleaned the window; washed the window from the inside out it sounds like. And I would expect that that condensation may come back, giving it a season or two. So this may not be the end of it. But if it’s giving you some temporary relief, then OK.
GUNNER: Yeah. And in fact, they had a guarantee. Their guarantee is that they’d be happy to replace the windows at a discount. But they charge you for the – and when I heard that, I kind of laughed to myself. Said, “Oh, geez, what a way to get into your house, you know?”
TOM: Yeah. Exactly.
GUNNER: But so I – OK. So you kind of agree with me. It’s not black magic.
GUNNER: To me, it’s like black magic. What on Earth happened here? It’s not possible. They talked, “Well, around the perimeter, on the inside, there’s a material that absorbs excess moisture and keeps the window clear.”
Well, some of the new ones – we’re putting new windows out on – I’m with the FAA. We’re putting new windows out in a place called Cold Bay. And they’re triple-paned and I looked at the rim in between the panes and it is serrated as if it’s open to some kind of sponge or some kind of material that might …
TOM: Yeah, you know what that material is called, Gunner?
GUNNER: No, I don’t.
TOM: It’s got a funny name. It’s called “swiggle.”
GUNNER: Swiggle. OK. Well, my windows don’t have that. That’s just a solid strip so that there’s no swiggle, as you put it, as far as I can tell. Because it’s an older home; I think the home was built in like ‘85.
TOM: Well, you’re in the part of the country where triple-pane makes sense. I mean the colder it gets, the more that makes economic sense, even though those windows are more expensive.
But back to your original question. I think what they’ve done is essentially cleaned the windows. And depending on the dew point, yeah, it’s either going to appear or reappear, depending on how much condensation you get inside those – inside that glass. But I think that, at this point, just understand what you have and that when you can afford it, when you want to budget for it, go ahead and replace the windows.
And remember, you don’t have to do all your windows at the same time. A lot of times, I tell folks they can do them in stages. You can do the north side first and then move to the east side, the west side and the south side, since the cold is the biggest issue in your part of the country. If you lived down south, you’d do the south and the west windows first. OK, Gunner?
GUNNER: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, adding a backyard deck is one surefire way to increase your home’s living space. Deck designs can make your home appear larger than it is and some well-designed decks can actually increase the value of your home.
LESLIE: Yes. But you’ve got to make sure that your deck comes out as planned. And to do that, well, you need a plan.
So, you can get deck-design plans online or even at your local home improvement big-box store. And most do come with a materials list, which could spare you the task of having to figure it all out and what goes with what and having to create your own plan.
Now, step-by-step instructions really do come in handy, especially if you’re not completely sure of your skills and this might be your first time building a deck.
TOM: Now, once the plan is set, you need to think about a permit. Now, a lot of cities and towns will mandate obtaining a permit if you’re planning to add a deck to your home. And while it could seem like a hassle, there are very good reasons for those permitting laws.
For one thing, if you get a permit, it’s going to make you privy to the building-code requirements for decks in your area, like spacing between the spindles and the guardrails and the railing heights and the weight requirements and so on. Because believe me, you don’t want to build a beautiful deck and have a big Fourth of July party and then it comes crashing down and everybody gets hurt.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean you really have to think about safety here.
And although you might not love the idea, guys, of having to shell out some extra money and take the time to get that permit, not to mention having to pass an inspection and the local building inspector coming by, it really does all seem like a hassle but it’s something you’ve got to do. And you’re going to be so glad that you did it in the end, because you’re going to be super confident that the deck is safe and you’re not going to have to worry about problems or questions.
These things could come up when you go to sell the house. And if you don’t have a permit or never had it properly done, you’re going to have to take it down when it comes time to sell the house. So do everything in the front, do it right, do it once and then actually keep and enjoy the deck forever.
TOM: For more tips, check out how to plan an amazing deck on MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Doug in Florida is on the line with a question about a patio. What’s going on at your money pit?
DOUG: I’ve got a concrete deck around a large – or deck area around my pool. And when it rains, wherever I’ve got patio furniture, it creates rust stains. And also, where the ladders and the handrails come out of the pool, there’s always rust stains around that.
And I use a product from Home Depot called Goof Off that works great temporarily. It goes away immediately but then it always seems to come back with time – in a couple weeks’ time. I’m wondering if there’s a permanent solution to get rid of those rust stains.
TOM: So this is from rain? It’s not from the sprinklers?
DOUG: Well, it’s a combination. I’ve got it close to the pool where the sprinklers don’t hit and then I’ve got it on the edges from the sprinklers, also.
TOM: It’s pretty common when it happens because of the sprinklers and the only way to deal with that is to put some sort of a water-filtration system on it that’s going to keep that iron out of the water. So it’s basically iron in the groundwater that is causing that rust deposit. And so it’s no surprise that it’s coming back in two weeks, because it just continues to re-accumulate.
In terms of the rust that occurs around the furniture or around the pool ladder, I’m thinking that that’s probably because water is collecting there, just draining down and kind of sitting in that area. That’s why it looks more obvious, Doug. Because I don’t think it’s rust that’s actually forming in the furniture or the pool ladder, because those would not be metals that are going to rust.
So I think this is mostly what is actually in that groundwater that’s landing on that surface and causing this rust-stain deposit to happen. And you’re right, Goof Off does work really super well for that.
DOUG: And there’s no real permanent solution then for it, huh? Just keep using that.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. I mean you can’t stop Mother Nature unless – with the sprinkler system, like I said, if you were to put an iron-based filter in it, that would stop the iron deposits from getting through the water and onto the patio surface. So that would have a big impact on it. But of course, there’s an expense associated with that.
DOUG: Right. Is that a filter that goes on the pump that comes from the well or …?
TOM: Yes, exactly.
DOUG: OK. OK.
TOM: Yep. Yep. Between the well and the heads, basically. Mm-hmm.
DOUG: Should I – is that something I can do myself or …?
TOM: You know, it’s not terribly difficult if you are pretty handy with plumbing projects.
DOUG: Yeah, not so much, so …
TOM: You might want to have your sprinkler pro do that.
LESLIE: At least he’s honest. Doug’s honest.
DOUG: Gotcha. Well, great, guys. Thanks for your – thanks for answering my question. (inaudible)
TOM: Alright? Alright. Yeah. Good luck with that. You’re on the right track. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Darlene in New York, you’re next on The Money Pit. How can we help?
DARLENE: Hi. I seem to be having a problem with a woodchuck. It goes from my neighbor’s shed in the backyard to the – to across our yard, into the other yard.
TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.
DARLENE: And we’re getting all holes in our backyard. They’re destroying our yard.
TOM: Now, you’re sure they’re woodchucks and not moles?
DARLENE: No, they’re huge.
DARLENE: It’s a mother and maybe three babies.
TOM: Alright. Well, there’s a couple of things that you can do to kind of discourage woodchucks. One of them I’m not sure applies to you and that is just to make sure your yard is less attractive to woodchucks by removing any kinds of stumps or wood or brush piles. They do like to chew on wood to keep their teeth filed down. So if there’s some good stuff around your yard, they’re going to be gnawing at that.
The other thing that you can do is to repel the woodchucks with something like hot-pepper spray. If you have liquid-pepper spray or hot-pepper spray, you can spray it in the holes and they will not go in there. They do not like that. Or you can use one of their natural predators, which is fox or dog or raccoon. That’s available as a spray and it basically replicates their urine and kind of keeps them away.
And then on your plants, if you were to apply something like a Deer Off type of a spray, which basically sits on the leaves of the plants or the bushes – and if the woodchuck was to eat it, it has a really nasty taste to it and that keeps them away, as well. So there’s a couple of things that you can try without calling in a pro, to see if we can try to minimize the woodchuck visit to your backyard.
DARLENE: OK. So if I do use the hot-pepper spray then, I just spray it inside of the holes in our yard?
TOM: Yeah, in that area, right, to kind of discourage them from using them. And maybe they will not create any more. That’s what we hope, alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you hear squeaks and creaks and drips and bangs and hisses in your house, it may be that your house is actually trying to tell you something. Fortunately, we do speak house here and can help.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, there’s a good chance that some of those noises coming from your home could be the plumbing, in one of two ways.
Now, the first is pipe expansion. The expansion is going to happen as temperatures rise. And that causes loose copper pipes to rub against the wood studs. Now, you can stop them from touching by replacing those U-shaped clips on the exposed pipes with what are called “mickey clips.” Now, they have a sleeve that keeps the pipe away from nearby wood studs.
TOM: Now, the next most common is water hammer. That happens when faucets or valves are turned off. And that causes the water running through those pipes to pick up speed and shake the plumbing as it flows through. So you want to secure those pipes more firmly to the framing around it and that will silence it. So consider installing a water-hammer arrestor, as well. That’s kind of like a shock absorber for the plumbing.
LESLIE: It really is the best name for something that you could ever purchase: a water-hammer arrestor.
TOM: Water-hammer arrestor.
LESLIE: It tells you exactly what it does and it sounds awesome.
Now, lastly, guys, if you do all of this and you’re still hearing sounds at night, check your furnace for something called “oil canning.” An oil canning refers to the ductwork that expands and contracts as temperatures around that unit fluctuate. And it can make a super-loud banging sound, as well. So it could be alarming but it could just be the furnace saying, “What’s up?”
TOM: Now, you can also help make some of those duct noises go away by bracing those ducts to keep them from popping in and popping out. And I’ve done this in the past as simply as taking a piece of 1×2 wood and attaching that sort of diagonally across the duct. It’s not really supporting anything but what it does …
LESLIE: Do you need to do it on both sides?
TOM: No, I just put it on the outside. And it looks like heck but the thing is I would just take a drywall screw and run it through the 1×2 and through into the duct. It would just hold it there. And because I’ve kind of changed the flexibility of that piece of the duct, no more oil canning, no more popping in and out. It just went magically away.
LESLIE: That is fantastic. I love that advice.
Hey, Father’s Day, you guys, 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 to 10 lucky winners.
TOM: Yep. Each set is worth 120 bucks and includes both a T50 and PT50 Arrow Staple Gun, as well as an Arrow GT300 Fastener Pro High-Temp Glue Gun.
Now, these are all perfect for taking on dozens of projects around the house. And Arrow is all about making durable, reliable tools and fasteners. So these tools are going to give your dad years of use.
LESLIE: Hey, guys, you can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com. But also, make sure you take advantage of the many ways that you can earn extra entries, by subscribing to our podcast or visiting us on social media.
Annette in Mississippi is on the line and has a flooring question. What can we do for you today?
ANNETTE: I have ceramic tile in my kitchen and den. And I’ve noticed condensate on top of the surface of the tiles. And I was just wondering, what causes that?
TOM: The difference between a cold floor and a warm, humid house. So, when you have – think about it this way. When you go outside in the summer and if you’ve got a cold glass – an ice-filled glass of water or iced tea – you get moisture on the outside of that glass. Well, why is that happening? Because warm, moist air is striking the outside of the glass, it’s cooling and it’s releasing the water, right? Because the warmer air holds more water than colder air.
So in your house, you have, again, moist air striking a cold surface and it’s condensing. Dehumidifying that space can help. And there’s a couple of ways to do that, one of which is an appliance called a “whole-home dehumidifier.” It fits into your HVAC system and it can take out a lot of water – about 90 pints of water a day – out of the air. And it can also reduce the cost of air conditioning. Because everybody thinks that air conditioning is the only way to dehumidify a house. It’s actually not. And it’s not that good of a dehumidifier, frankly.
If you were to add a whole-home dehumidifier, in addition to air conditioning, you will find that it will pull a lot of moisture out of the air and it’ll make the air a lot more comfortable and not quite so clammy. And it will dramatically reduce or completely eliminate the condensation that you’re getting now on your floor. Because that can get slippery, too, so you’ve got to be careful.
ANNETTE: Right. Is that common for ceramic-tile floors?
TOM: It’s not the material, OK? It’s the environment that’s causing this. It’s not the floor that’s making this happen, it’s the environment. So you have high humidity in your house. Why? I don’t know. But you want to check to make sure your bathroom exhaust fans are going outside and you want to make sure that your kitchen range duct/hood is ducting outside. You want to look at the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter. If you have a lot of water that piles along the outside of the foundation, overflowing gutters, that can raise the dampness and the humidity level. All those things contribute and you can certainly take a look at those things. But an appliance, like a whole-home dehumidifier, might be the best solution.
ANNETTE: OK. Well, I currently use just the single-room dehumidifier but – and I haven’t noticed it in any other place in the house. It’s just that one area.
TOM: Yep. Well, this is an option. You could certainly try another dehumidifier in that space but it is an environmental issue and it’s not the building materials.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you love the beautiful wood floors and moldings of older homes but you live in a much younger one, you can still get some of those same benefits by using reclaimed lumber.
Now, reclaimed lumber is wood that’s been rescued from old houses, barns and really, all kinds of other buildings. And it’s a great option for home improvement or even décor projects. I mean it really just offers some really unique, beautiful qualities that you’re just not going to find in a brand-new hardwood. It just doesn’t have it.
TOM: Yeah. Now, reclaimed lumber is often more durable, for example, than commonly available hardwood. And that’s because these pieces originate in old-growth wood, which nowadays is a lot harder to come by.
And when you’re using reclaimed lumber, it can actually be cost-effective, too, because depending on the type of wood you plan to use, selecting reclaimed wood can save you over 10 bucks per square foot. So it makes economic sense, as well.
LESLIE: Yeah. And because you’re giving the wood a second life, reclaimed lumber is also a very environmentally-conscious choice.
Now, there are so many ways that you can use reclaimed lumber at home. First of all, it makes for beautiful hardwood flooring. And you can also use it for counters, for cabinets, for shelving, for drawers. But think about using it for an accent wall or to create a partition or to do the ceiling. There’s so many different ways that you can utilize it and make something really unique and gorgeous.
TOM: Yeah. So the next time you’re thinking about a project to take on you need some lumber for, think about using reclaimed lumber. It’s durable, it’s unique, it’s cost-effective and of course, it’s very eco-friendly.
LESLIE: Larry in Louisiana needs some help at home. What are you working on?
LARRY: I have a pier-and-beam house. I had an addition added onto it. And the addition is starting to sink and it’s causing a bow in the floor and in the kitchen.
TOM: So, what kind of foundation was the addition built with?
LARRY: It was under concrete, little runners that ran around the house.
TOM: So, when you say concrete runners, can you describe that? Are we talking about – was this a concrete footing?
LARRY: Well, it’s split. It’s maybe every 5, 6 foot is like a 1-foot-thick piece of concrete that runs down a channel. And it circles the house. And then they put these other concrete pieces that sit on top of it where – to where they put the foundation of the house on it.
TOM: Concrete blocks? Well, it sounds like a standard footing with a concrete-block foundation. And if you’re getting movement in there, that’s definitely a concern. It points to some failure in the way that foundation was designed.
How much – when you say it’s shifting or it’s sinking, how much are we talking about? What are you seeing in terms of movement?
LARRY: There’s a bow in the kitchen. It’s probably about a 10-, 12-degree angle coming off of it.
TOM: Yeah, that’s pretty significant. Yeah. Well, unfortunately, you’re going to have to have this looked at by a structural engineer, because there’s going to be some sort of rehabilitation that’s going to have to be designed for this to stop it from moving further. It’s not likely you can pull it back up but the goal, at this point, is to stop it from moving any further. And if you try to do this by calling in a myriad of contractors, you’re going to get a myriad of opinions. And it may …
LESLIE: Yeah. None of which you’ll be able to compare.
TOM: None of which you’ll be able to compare. And very likely, if you try to sell the house, you’re still going to have a problem. Because you really need a licensed design professional to evaluate exactly why this is happening and then prescribe a solution for you.
So, my advice to you is if you’ve got a 10- to 12-degree dip in this floor that it definitely would call for further investigation by an expert. And the best person to use for that would be someone who’s a structural engineer. So you might want to start looking around for that service.
And I will also say that there’s probably home inspectors in your area that also are – happen to be structural engineers. So you could check the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. See if you can find an engineer there that’s also a home inspector. But that’s the type of sort of forensic building investigator that you need to figure out why this is moving and what you have to do to get it stabilized. I think that’s real important and you should try to hop on it as soon as you can.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’re heading outside for home repairs up high, a sturdy ladder is a big help. But you need to understand how to use it properly, to make sure gravity doesn’t sort of get the best of you. Ladder falls send hundreds of folks to emergency rooms every year. And to help you be safer, Leslie has got tips in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
It’s always amazing to me, Leslie, how many of these falls happen because the ladders are just not used correctly. You would think it’s kind of a no-brainer but unfortunately, it’s not.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, you’re right.
Now, the biggest mistakes that you can make is simply taking shortcuts. You’ve got to think about ladder safety. And I know it seems silly but – “It’s a ladder. It get on and I use it.” But you need to be careful.
First of all, you want to make sure that that ladder can remain stationary. And if you’re using an extension ladder, you need to make sure to level the feet by digging out the ground or by using something that’s called a “ladder leveler,” which will create a level surface for you to put that ladder on.
Now, on hard, dry ground, you want to rest those feet flat. Make sure you don’t have any slippery tarps underneath or any debris. And you want to make sure that those textured rubber pads are intact. If you happen to be placing the ladder on grass or soft ground, flip the feet up and drive the spiked ends into the ground. Or lay the feet flat and tie them down on the side or brace them in the front with 1×2 stakes. You just have to make sure that somebody is footing the ladder.
I work in TV studios and people, as silly as it seems, will not get up on a ladder unless you’ve got a buddy there to foot the ladder. It’s all about making sure things seem stable, so take that into your everyday life and make sure those bases are super, super secure.
Now, you also want to make sure that you position the ladder so that the distance from its base to the wall is one-quarter of the height of the ladder at its resting point so you’re creating a 75-degree angle. Now, if you want a quick check of the angle of your ladder, you want to stand facing it with your feet touching its feet and your arms extended. Now, your palms should rest on a rung at shoulder height. And that’s going to tell you that you’ve set it up correctly.
And remember, always look overhead for wires before you carry a ladder, before you set up a ladder. And don’t rest an extension ladder against a tree or a pole, because it can rotate right off that tree or pole and then you can fall down.
You’ve got to be safe, guys. It’s so easy to just slip up and make a simple mistake and then somebody’s really hurt. So just be careful.
TOM: I have a buddy that works for a pretty successful ladder manufacturer. You know what one of the most dangerous ladders is? The kind that people throw out. People throw out old ladders all the time and other people think that they can just pick those up. We had bulk pickup this week. Made me think about it. I saw somebody throw out an old ladder.
Don’t reuse an old ladder. It’s being thrown out for a reason. Number one, it might be weak and number two, you can bet that the safety designs have changed a lot since that ladder was manufactured. So, you never want to use those old ladders that people are kind of done with.
Well, coming up next time on The Money Pit, it’s a common complaint for a very good reason: nobody wants to drink, cook or clean off with smelly, rotten-egg tap water. We’re going to explain what causes those awful smells and what you can do about it, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2020 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)