In this episode…
If you’re feeling like your home could use a boost in its cooling power, adding a window air conditioner unit may be the solution. We’ve got tips on how to find the right size unit for your house and how to avoid a key installation mistake that can drive up cooling costs.
- There’s an old saying that good fences make great neighbors – that is if you can get the fence built! We’ll have some fence building tips to make that project a lot easier.
- Going green can help you save energy, but a new survey shows it can also bring you more green when you sell your home – we’ll share these eco-friendly remodeling tips, just ahead.
- If you’ve ever bought a custom upholstered headboard you know that they can be pricey but making one on your own doesn’t cost a lot of money and is super easy to tackle in a surprisingly short amount of time. Leslie walks you through the project.
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 why are we here? We’re here for you. If you are a DIYer, you’re in the right place. But if you are a direct-it-yourselfer, you’re also in the right place. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or not, whether you’re somebody who takes out the tools, buys the wood, buys the paint, does it all or whether you’re somebody that picks up the phone – sometimes that can be the smartest thing to do – or goes online and gets some professional help, whatever skill level you have, whatever project you want to tackle, we would love to be your project helpers, your consultants, your coaches to help you get it done right. Call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 and we will get to it.
So, coming up on today’s show, if you are feeling your home could use a boost in its cooling power, a window A/C unit might be the solution. We’re going to have some tips on how to find the right-size unit for your house and how to avoid a key installation mistake that drives up cooling costs all across the country.
LESLIE: And also ahead, there’s an old saying that good fences make great neighbors. That’s if you can get the fence built. We’re going to have some tips to make that project a heck of a lot easier.
TOM: And going green can help you save energy but a new survey shows it can also bring you more green when it comes time to sell your home. We’ll share these eco-friendly features.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you are working on this summer weekend. Whatever it is, indoors or out, we’re here to lend a hand.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to those questions, Leslie. Who’s first?
LESLIE: Mary in Texas is on the line and has an issue with a tub. Tell us what’s going on.
MARY: We have a bathtub that we’ve had plumbers out and they can’t even seem to get it unstopped. They think that it – and it was – would slowly – if you took a shower in there, it would slowly go out that day. But then it stopped up and it was going so slowly.
We called up a big company here – plumbing company – and the guy came out and checked it. And he couldn’t get it unstopped. He thinks it’s in the P-trap. But he checks, he lined the hat – the tub is on the back of the house. About 2 feet from that is the clean-out. And he took a picture in the clean-out, all the way to the alley, and told us to get the city to come. And they needed to clean it out, the alley. They did that.
TOM: So wait a minute. You’re telling me that the plumber was able to clear the drain from the house to the street but he thinks that the restriction is beyond that?
MARY: Yeah. He thinks – and it’s just about 2 feet from the drain. The tub that’s on the back wall of the house, it’s about 2 feet to the clean-out where he worked. And all the other lines are back farther. I mean the utility line is farther. It’s on that same line. It’s farther. The sink in the vanity area and the commode where it’s just fine – it’s right by the tub. It’s just – it’s past them.
TOM: I can tell you right now that he missed something in the tub, because all of those plumbing lines come together in that same general area. And if you’ve got flow from the toilet and the sinks and everything else but not the tub, it’s going to be the tub itself.
When it comes to clearing drains, my experience has been that plumbers are not the best ones to do that. Generally, you’re better off to go with a specialty plumber that does drain cleaning. They have the tools, the equipment and the knowledge to get that done. And sometimes, the day-to-day plumbers – if it’s a simple clog, they can clear it but they don’t necessarily have the tools. For example, drain cleaners have cameras that can go down those pipes and see exactly what the obstruction is.
So, my recommendation would be to call a different kind of professional: not a plumber but someone that specializes in drain cleaning and has a good reputation for being able to make that particular type of repair. I think that’s going to be the easiest way for you to get to the bottom of it. I would not recommend any type of additive to that drain to try to clear it and these liquid products that clear drains, because they can be very, very corrosive.
Mary, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Brian, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRIAN: I’ve got a problem with our septic system. And our septic system zigzags back and forth in the backyard. And then where the end of it is, there’s a sinkhole developing.
TOM: How old is this septic system? Has it ever been inspected or cleaned?
BRIAN: We’ve cleaned it twice. It’s just my wife and I. This thing, I noticed, started developing kind of right after we moved into the house. Our house is about 20 years old.
TOM: Because I wonder if – if you say this is towards the end of the distribution field, I wonder if the field is not absorbing water like it should – absorbing the effluent as it should. And most of it is sort of running towards the end of the pipe like it’s a long drain. And as a result, it’s causing erosion in that area.
I think that probably the first thing I would do is have a septic inspection done with an examination of the field to check the percolation of it. Because if it’s not percolating, if it’s not draining properly, you could be spilling a lot of effluent into the ground unknowingly without it having a chance to really soak properly back into the soil. I think what we’re hearing here is a potential failure of your septic field, more than a problem with a sinkhole. I suspect that this is erosion that you’re seeing.
BRIAN: OK. It’s not just a matter of dumping a bunch of dirt in there and covering that up.
TOM: No. That would fill it up again but I’m afraid it would probably wash out again. So, that’s kind of what I would lean to is having that field inspected and just getting a sense of – listen, you want to find out now. You don’t want this thing to fail at the least opportune time. And if you find out early, at least you can plan a replacement if you have to.
Brian, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
We know you think about home improvements at the weirdest times. I know I do. Sometimes, I get an idea and I’ve got to wake up and jot it down before I forget, even in the middle of the night sometimes.
LESLIE: So you don’t forget, yeah.
TOM: And when that inspiration comes to you, when that idea, when that question comes to you, no matter what time it is – even if it’s in the middle of the night – we actually have our call center standing by to take those questions. If we’re not in the studio – which we won’t be if you call at 2:00 in the morning. But whenever you do call, our screeners will take the question and we will call you back, because that’s how important this is for us. We want to reach those that need the help with their projects. Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Heading to Arizona with Yvonne on the line who has got a stinky bathroom sink.
Gross, Yvonne. What’s going on?
YVONNE: Yeah. So, it doesn’t happen all the time but every once in a while, I’ll be running the water in the bathroom sink and this foul odor comes out of the drain. So I’m wondering what could be causing that.
TOM: Usually, it’s bacteria. You get bacteria that will decay in those drains and it will cause what’s called a “biogas.” And the best way to clean this is to really take the drain completely apart – that’s the trap that’s underneath that – and to really do a good job of scrubbing it clean. I would use some oxidized bleach for that, as well. If you can get that super clean, that will kill the bacteria. And if you can even plug the pipe and sort of fill it up with some of that bleach solution, that will also kill the bacteria that’s in there. And I think you’ll find that if you can deal with that biogas, it’ll start smelling a lot better.
YVONNE: So I have to actually scrub it? I can’t just pour some bleach down there?
TOM: No. No, you definitely need to scrub it. And that’s why you probably want to take it apart from underneath the sink cabinets. It’s probably going to have a trap, the U-shape pipe. If it doesn’t, by the way, that’s the source of your problem. But I’m sure it does. Take that trap apart and then really scrub the inside of that with some oxygenated bleach. And I think that that will kill that bacteria and then the biogas will go away.
YVONNE: OK. Sounds like a lot of work but I’ll certainly give it a try.
TOM: Hey, we never said it was going to be easy. But we will save you the work.
YVONNE: No. Nothing ever is, it seems like.
TOM: Alright, Yvonne. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in Rhode Island has a question about solar panels. How can we help you today?
JOHN: Solar panels installed the latter half of March. And I have been noticing a steady increase in production up until about two weeks ago. And I have noticed the production falling off. And of course, the pollen has increased. And I’m wondering if there’s anything on the market that I could treat the panels with.
The panels are located kind of high on the roof. It’s difficult to get to. And just like I said, I’m just wondering if there’s something that I could add to it to have the pollen wash off quicker.
TOM: So it’s pollen and tree droppings, huh?
JOHN: Yeah. Well, actually, the tree’s on the good shade with – but it’s really, basically, the pollen. I live in a wooded area. And like I said, I’ve watched the production with these inverters. You can really carefully monitor what the system is doing. So, although the day is getting longer and the sun is getting higher in the sky, production is off. And the only thing I can relate it to is the pollen.
TOM: John, that’s actually a surprisingly common problem. And the solution is simply to clean those panels.
Now, in your case, that may be easier said than done because you’re telling me they’re difficult to reach. It might also be possible to install sort of a cleaning system that consists of manifolds that are installed right above those solar panels, where you basically can turn on the water and run water over them, occasionally, to clean them out. But of course, that’s a lot of work.
Is it possible for you to get a ladder up against the side of that house there and use a hose or with something – maybe a high-pressure hose to be able to kind of wash the pollen off those panels? Because it’s pretty well documented that solar production goes down, as you’ve discovered, when those pollen – when those panels get covered with dirt or pollen.
JOHN: Right, right. Well, I guess the thing – I’m sure there’s something I could invest in. Certainly a better ladder, a taller ladder. And also, there’s got to be something where I can actually get the hose on a pole – I have a pruning pole – and maybe point it at an angle where it could wash the panels. But again, I thought maybe the solution would be, well, in the spring, get up on the roof, treat the panels and then I should be all set. But maybe it’s just a simple as a hose.
TOM: Yeah. I’m not aware of any treatment there that’s going to basically make them more slippery. I guess there’s – I was thinking in terms of a wax. But Hyde Tools – H-y-d-e – they have a product called PivotPro that attaches to a regular hose and it has an angular nozzle at top. And it’s designed for cleaning gutters and then cleaning boats and getting underneath spaces and things like that. And basically, the head pivots so you can get all sorts of different angles with it. And it also steps up the pressure of water coming out it. Pretty inexpensive tool there. You might want to look that up online and give it a shot.
JOHN: I think I will. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, with all this warm summer weather, are you feeling like your home could use a boost in the cooling power? Well, a window A/C unit might be the solution. The best and most efficient room air conditioning comes from a unit that’s perfectly sized to the space and then properly installed.
Now, you want to make sure that you buy a unit that’s ENERGY STAR-rated. That’s key. These are going to use 10-percent less energy than conventional models. And ENERGY STAR provides sizing guidelines to make sure you buy the right one.
TOM: Now, here’s an installation trick of the trade. For added efficiency, it’s important to install your unit on the shadiest side of the house and to choose a model that has easy-to-clean filters and controls, like a digital readout for the thermostat setting and a built-in timer. Too many times if you’re, say, in a corner room where you have the choice of maybe going on the south side or maybe the east side, go on the east side because it’s going to be a lot cooler for that unit to run. And that means it’ll be more efficient and it will have to run less to deliver the same amount of cooling power. And that’s going to show up as a reduction in your cooling costs.
LESLIE: Debbie in North Carolina, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DEBBIE: My husband and I have a townhome and it was owned by several other people. From what I understand, the previous owners used to fix cars in the garage, so – it’s a two-car garage. There are no cracks in the floor but it does have a very gritty surface to it and it looks horrible. I don’t really know what I can do. At first I thought, “Well, maybe I can just” – is there some kind of paint I can paint over it or maybe – or is it something where I have to do another epoxy on top of the epoxy? Is it something a typical homeowner can work on?
TOM: The floor that’s there now, is it well adhered to the concrete? Is it peeling off in any way or does it look like it’s pretty down there and pretty durable?
DEBBIE: It looks like it’s on there pretty good.
TOM: OK. So what I think you should do is clean it and then put another coat of epoxy on top of that – one or two coats over that. And I think that can brighten it up. So many choices and colors today and you’ve got manufacturers, like QUIKRETE, that make good products that can go there. There’s different types of texturing material you can add or color flakes you can add to give it some personality.
But trying to take that off wouldn’t make any sense. I don’t think it’s really buying you anything. Even though it’s got a texture to it, I would paint over it after it was cleaned and properly prepped.
DEBBIE: Can I ask how hard it is to handle the epoxy paint?
TOM: It’s not difficult. The way it works is it’s chemical-cured. So when you buy epoxy paint, you actually get two cans.
TOM: So you’ll get one that’s a gallon can but when you open it up, it’s only going to be filled three-quarters of the way. And then you’ll get a second can that’s a quart can and that’s the hardener. So the first thing you do when you open up the gallon can and the quart can is you mix them together. And that becomes the paint that you’re working with.
Now, remember, though, once you start mixing them, the clock starts ticking. And you’re only going to have probably, I guess, maybe two, three hours to use it up. But it won’t take that long, because you’re going to be applying it with a brush first on the outside perimeter and then a roller. And then you kind of work your way out of the garage. And as you apply it wet and they usually – they’ll give you these color flakes that you kind of shake over it to give it that personality and they stick in there and you just keep moving.
TOM: And I would do a 4-foot strip – wide strip – all the way down, then I would put my color flakes in. Then I would do another 4 foot and another 4 foot and pretty soon you’ll be right out the door. They’re really not that hard to do. The key is just to be organized and to prep it properly so that once you actually mix up the paint, you’re good to go.
LESLIE: And then don’t paint yourself in a corner.
DEBBIE: Would I need more than one can for a two-car garage, as far as you know?
TOM: I would check the coverage on the can to see how many square feet that it covers.
LESLIE: Yeah. A gallon usually does 400 square feet, so …
DEBBIE: So, realistically, it’s something I can do in a couple of hours or …?
TOM: Oh, absolutely.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. For sure.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
DEBBIE: OK. Alright. Well, that sounds great. I really was afraid it was going to be a lot harder than that.
TOM: Dive in, Debbie. The water’s fine.
DEBBIE: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Alright? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
DEBBIE: Thank you. Bye-bye.
TOM: And once Debbie tackles that, who knows where she’ll go, right? I mean it just takes one project to kind of get your confidence up and away you go.
LESLIE: Shane in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. You want us to help you with a decking project? What can we do?
SHANE: As respect to footings on the deck, is it more common practice to have a one solid column that goes down for your footing or can you just dig 36 inches, throw a 6-inch footing at the bottom of that and put your post on top of that and just pack it around with dirt versus covering it with concrete?
TOM: You mean covering the post, like around – pouring around the post with concrete? Is that what you’re saying?
TOM: Yeah. Well, that wouldn’t really help you because that’s not giving you any support. The idea of the footing is to get it down below the frost line. So yes, if you dug down to 36 inches and you set any kind of a small concrete pad down there, you would be fine by putting the footing – putting the post on top of that and going up.
Now, the other thing that you could think about doing – and I like these – there are precast footings that are out there that are kind of like almost pyramid shape. They’re very tall. Not a pyramid, more like a tower. And they’re about 36 inches tall, maybe 40 inches tall. And they have a bolt that sticks out the top of them so you can put your post on right on that. And you can dig your hole and drop this right into the hole.
What I like to do is put maybe a shovel full of stone at the bottom of the hole, make sure it’s tamped really well and then drop my footing on top of that. And this way, my post ends up above grade. I don’t like the idea, even though it’s pressure-treated, of sinking the wood in the ground.
SHANE: Yeah, I agree.
TOM: Because eventually, it’s going to rot. So, I like to keep it above ground. That’s why I use those types of posts.
And then the third way you could do this is with something called a Sonotube. You know what that is?
TOM: Yeah, it’s like – it looks like a paper-towel roll but it’s 12 inches in diameter. And yeah, you cut that to be about 40 inches, set that in the hole. You can go ahead and backfill around it, put a little stone in the bottom and then fill it up with concrete.
Now, you could mix up – something like QUIKRETE in the red bag is good for this. You can mix it up and drop it into that Sonotube. It’ll be hard inside of an hour. And you could start building right away.
SHANE: Well, great. Well, thank you for your help.
TOM: Yeah, you’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Are you going to get it done and then soon enough to enjoy it this summer?
SHANE: Possibly. We’ll see.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
SHANE: Thank you.
TOM: Well, you know, it used to be that working with concrete for small projects, like setting a fence post, was a hassle. You had to buy all the raw materials, you had to mix them up probably using tools, like your garden wheelbarrow and garden hoe, and then clean off those tools before the concrete became permanently encrusted to the surfaces.
LESLIE: Now, QUIKRETE has made that a lot easier with their Fast-Setting Concrete in the red bag. It’s a special blend of fast-setting cements, sand and gravel that are designed to set in approximately 20 to 40 minutes.
TOM: And here’s why this makes the whole process of these small projects a lot easier. Let’s say you were setting a fence post or a mailbox or something of that nature. What you can do is just pour the dried mix, right out of the bag, into the hole around the post. Set that post when it’s perfect. Just add water and it’ll be solid in 20 to 40 minutes. So you don’t have to mix it outside of the hole. You put the dry stuff right into the hole, add water and you’re good to go.
LESLIE: QUIKRETE is available at home improvement retailers nationwide. Look for it in the red bag and learn more at QUIKRETE.com.
TOM: 888-666-3974. We’d like to learn what you want to tackle for your next home improvement project, so give us a call.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Steve in North Carolina on the line with a roofing question. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
STEVE: Many years ago, my wife and I moved into a very small cabin way out in the woods. Very wooded. There’s a lot of – every fall, a lot of debris and leaves and such. And we built onto the cabin a nice 12×12 bathroom with a flat roof. And that was not really my idea; that was – a buddy just said this was the way to go.
We are now – and granted, it’s given us good service. We did that in 1995. But now, it is – with these last monsoons we’ve had here in North Carolina, we have leaks. And my – I guess my question is: is a flat roof a good idea, anyway? And then what are the pros and cons of a metal versus shingle roof?
TOM: OK. So, first of all, is a flat roof a good idea? Well, depends on your perspective.
Look, there’s a lot of commercial buildings that have flat roofs that last a long time but they’re also very, very well installed and they don’t have any leaks as a result of that. I will say that a flat roof is one of the leakiest roofs, generally speaking, because very often, when they’re put in residential homes, they’re not put on by pros. And certainly, since you have a flat roof that’s 20 years old, that’s really, really old.
STEVE: I’m no pro but yeah, I put it in.
TOM: Yeah, in 1995? You’re talking 20 years ago and that’s a really old roof at this point in time. It would be old if it was a pitched roof. It’s really old if it’s a flat roof, which generally lasts about half that time.
So, it’s time for a new roof. Your options are to put another flat roof on it, which there’s nothing wrong with that. The new materials today, especially the torch-down flat roofs, work very, very well. I just put a flat roof on my house. But what I did before I put it on there was I added a slight pitch to it.
You can buy foam underlayment that basically will give you a slight pitch to a flat roof and that helps the water run off. Because you really don’t want anything that’s flat-flat; you really want to have something that has got at least a low slope to it. So if you add a little bit of slope to it and then put a new torch-down roof on it, it should be fine.
You asked about metal. Metal is certainly an indestructible roof. And if that’s something you’re considering, I would also encourage it. Because if you put a metal roof down once and you do it right, you’re not going to have to do it for 100 years and then who cares, right?
STEVE: Cost analysis. I mean is a metal roof – and I’ve sort of looked at it. But is a metal roof more expensive than a shingle or – it is, isn’t it?
TOM: Oh, yeah. It’s about four or five times as expensive. So it’s very expensive, comparatively speaking.
STEVE: Is that labor or is it really the material?
TOM: It’s both. So if you’re going to do it yourself, you’re going to save some money. But it’s really the kind of thing that’s kind of tough to do yourself unless you really have some experience working with metal.
STEVE: OK. Great. And one request. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I wish your trailer music – just let it play. We love it. We love it.
TOM: We’re going to have to put that whole – we’ll have to put the entire theme music online for those that care to listen to that.
STEVE: I wish you would. We love your show. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Thank you very much. Appreciate that.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Darlene in South Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a dishwasher situation. What’s going on over there?
DARLENE: Whenever you turn it on and turn it on Pots and Pans, it fills up and then it stops. Does nothing. And you can turn the knob around to the different cycles and everything and it does nothing.
TOM: Have you checked the float, which is in the bottom of the dishwasher, to see if maybe it’s become clogged?
DARLENE: No, I didn’t know there was …
TOM: Yeah. Because if it’s clogged, it might think it’s – it might think that it’s about to overflow and it might shut the machine off. So in the bottom of the dishwasher, take a look at the float. And it’ll move kind of up and down – it’ll pop up and down a little bit – and a lot of times, it gets filled with food and grime and stuff. And if you clean it out, that might just be the thing to do it.
And here’s a little trick of the trade: if you’re trying to clean out food from places you really can’t get to, you can use a wet/dry vacuum for that. It’ll sort of draw it right out.
DARLENE: Oh, OK. [That I have] (ph).
TOM: There you go. Good luck with that project, Darlene. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lee in South Carolina on the line who wants to build a koi pond. How can we help you?
LEE: Off the deck of my house, in the one corner, I’ve got a bridge going to a gazebo. What I want to do is – 2 feet off of the gazebo, I’m doing a raised flower bed. And from the flower bed – 4 feet out, all the way around the gazebo – I want to do a koi pond.
And everyone keeps telling me that you’ve got to do it in concrete, because it’s – with liners, it would cause too many – you’d have to have too many liners and then sealing them. And it’d be a lot more of a problem.
TOM: Well, there’s a lot of ways to build a koi pond and most folks use liners.
LESLIE: Well, you have to use something. So, you can either build almost like you would a small pool and pour a concrete – I say “foundation” for lack of a better word but a concrete form. Or you can get a plastic pool form. They’re black. You see them at – I know the home center by me that sells koi – it’s actually a garden center that sells koi and pump equipment for water features – has a variety of sizes of these black sort of – they look like kiddie pools, essentially. But they’re interesting shapes and you dig out and then place this in the ground.
Or you can get the black liner, which comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses. And then you would dig out the formation that you like, especially it seems like yours is a bit more specialized and free-formed and has to sort of fit into a different area of measurements that you have specific ideas in mind. So the liner is probably better, because it will work with your specific dimensions.
And you’ll dig out. You’ll have to dig the slope into it, as well, if you want shallow areas or deep areas. You’ll have to dig that all in, as well. Then you’ll put sand down, just to keep a smooth area, and then you’ll put the liner in.
And it sort of, when you put the water in, will start to take the shape of that area. And then what you’ll have to do around the top, on those edges, is you’ll have to use all-natural rocks and large stones to hold that down and hide all of that lining. But there’s no reason why you can’t use a plastic liner.
LEE: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, more and more home buyers are looking at green features when choosing new homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. But how does this trend carry over for those of you who already own or maybe you’re looking to buy existing homes?
TOM: Well, you can add value to your home while using very environmentally-friendly products and materials.
So, for example, you can choose paints that are labeled as containing low volatile organic compounds or VOCs. These paints don’t give off the gas or produce the noxious smells. And you can also choose appliances that are extra efficient.
LESLIE: Now, you can also use natural, enduring materials such as stone, quarry tile and brick instead of something that’s less durable or even a synthetic material.
You want to make sure that you use eco-friendly light bulbs and install occupancy sensors in rooms that’ll turn those lights off and on automatically. And change out any older fixtures for WaterSense-certified plumbing fixtures. And that’s going to help you save a ton.
TOM: And then think about stuff like renewable flooring. Sources like bamboo work very well or using native plants and shrubs in your landscaping or your lawn.
And then, finally, I have one suggestion when you get ready to put the house on the market and that is to make a green home inventory, where you list all of the energy-efficient and eco-friendly sort of features and benefits of living in your house. This is going to be something that you can bet that no other home for sale in the area, which you’d be competing against, is going to have. It really positions your house in a very good light.
LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania is on the line with The Money Pit and needs help with a tiling project. What can we do for you?
JIM: We live in Central Pennsylvania but my wife and I just bought a house out in Arizona for our retirement. And the house has all travertine tile in it, except for the living room and a couple – in the master bedroom. So, we don’t really know anything about how to care for it.
But my – when we were there the last time, this past time to set things up, my wife commented on how the tile looks so dull and everything. So, we were wondering if you folks would have a recommendation, as far as whether we should have it resurfaced or just have it cleaned and if so, what we should use on travertine tile. Because I’m pretty sure you can’t just – specific products you shouldn’t use. So, we just needed some recommendations.
TOM: Jim, you’re right: you do need to use products that are specifically designed for the material that you’re cleaning which, in this case, is travertine. There’s a good website that has a number of these products all together and it’s called StoneCare.com. And the product there that I’ve used is called Marbalex – M-a-r-b-a-l-e-x. And Marbalex is designed specifically for travertine and it’s basically a streak-free product that is going to do a good job of cleaning it without staining it further.
LESLIE: Yeah. Or damaging it. Some of the products can pit it, so you have to be really careful.
JIM: Yeah, like you said, we – my wife noticed it just kind of looked dull. So this – the house was built in 2005, so it’s not an older – you know, it’s a relatively newer house. But the tile does look dull, even to me. So we’re not exactly sure how it’s supposed to look because, like I said, this is our first experience with travertine tile. But the floors do look somewhat dull, so we didn’t know whether we should have it refurbished with that – with those buffing compounds and stuff or whether it just needs a good cleaning.
TOM: Well, I would give it a good cleaning and do as much yourself as you can. There are cleaners and polishers that you can apply yourself. Of course, if you have a professional come in, it could – they could really do a great job and it’ll stay with you a little bit longer. I don’t see any reason why you might not want to try it yourself.
JIM: Yeah, well, we’ll give it a shot. Like I said, I was looking for a product and you gave me one. Marbalex, you said? Is that what …?
TOM: Marbalex, yeah. It’s on StoneCare.com. It might be elsewhere but I know it exists on that website.
JIM: Very cool, very cool. By the way, I listen to your show every Saturday morning on my long walks. So not only am I getting great advice but I’m getting in shape to your show, too, so …
TOM: Great. Glad you’re taking us with you.
JIM: So, yeah, kudos to you guys. But you’ve got a really great show.
TOM: Thanks, Jim. Appreciate it.
LESLIE: Alright. Jen posted a question and she writes: “Do you have any specific suggestions on painting stucco after you make repairs?”
TOM: Painting stucco is pretty much the same, Jen, as painting any masonry surface. I would consider using an oil-based primer first and letting it dry, making sure not only the repaired surface but the rest of it is properly cleaned before you do that. Now, if you do use a pressure washer, since stucco is going to soak up a lot of water – it’s very hydroscopic; it’s like a sponge – make sure you let it dry really, really well. I would pressure-wash it one day and then wait a few days of good weather for it to really dry out before you go ahead and paint it.
Now, you also could consider re-stuccoing the foundation after that stucco is patched so that the color is consistent. The advantage there is that you won’t have to repaint the whole thing.
But either way, once you fix up that deteriorated area, painting it is definitely a pretty easy DIY project.
Alright. Now we’ve got a question from Rashonda (sp) in Maryland. And Rashonda (sp) writes: “What, if any, maintenance does a refrigerator need? Mine’s only a few years old but when I happen to be cleaning around it, I notice the back feels a little warmer than I think it should.”
Well, Rashonda (sp), the back of the refrigerator is where the evaporator side is of the cooling coil. Just like you might have, say, a window air conditioner that blows warm air outside your house, that’s part of the refrigeration process. So being a little warm like that is not unusual. Just make sure that you don’t have it pressed flat against the wall. Leave a little air circulation to make sure it doesn’t get too terribly warm.
LESLIE: Now, Rashonda (sp), once it’s all clean, you can keep some vanilla in the refrigerator – like a real vanilla bean – to keep up a nice scent or even a box of baking soda. Just pop them in there – there’s a little piece you can peel off – and it’ll be nice and fresh.
TOM: Well, if you’ve ever purchased a custom upholstered headboard, you know that they can be pretty darn expensive. It turns out, though, making one of your own doesn’t cost a bunch of money and it’s a pretty easy job to tackle in a surprisingly short amount of time. Leslie has made many of these and has some tips on how to get yours done, in this edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Well, your bedroom should be a refuge of peace and tranquility. And having a well-designed space can help you find that peace that you desire. Now, a great bed is a fantastic starting point for the décor of your room. And upholstered headboards really add a thoughtful, classic design element. And they can completely change the look and feel of any bedroom or guest room. And here you go, guys: it’s actually not a hard project to do.
Now, we’ve got the full step-by-steps on MoneyPit.com but let me just talk you through a little bit here. If you want to do a super-simple one, decide the size of your headboard. Have a piece of plywood cut to that size or MDF, whatever you like. Then you wrap that in some batting or some foam or both, depending on the thickness and firmness and style you’re looking for. And then you can simply just wrap some fabric and staple along the backside. Just keep it nice and smooth, watch your corners. And then you have a really simple, one-fabric headboard and it looks fantastic.
And now you can attach them to the wall with a cleat, where you sort of take a piece of lumber and cut it at an angle so one side goes on the wall, one side goes on the back of the headboard and they lock together and really hold it well. Remember, though, to add little blocks on the bottom so it doesn’t lean back toward the wall; it’s all nice and flush.
But if you want to get a little bit more creative, you can cut that plywood to a different shape, make an interesting style along the top. You can add some – what are those called? – nailheads. You can add some decorative nailheads or trimming to really dress up that headboard. Once you get started and see how simple it is, I guarantee you I would say half of your bedrooms, maybe more, at home will have one.
TOM: There you go. Yeah, well, you get a project going, especially if you did it for one of your kids, all the kids are going to want to have the same sort of treatment.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, do you have a motion detector? Well, if not, why not? They are easy to install. They’re affordable. Some are even wireless so they need no wiring. And all in all, they’re a great deterrent to burglars and unwanted pests. We’ll explore all the options, 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.)