When it comes to home renos, are you a DIY or Go Pro kind of home improver? A new survey reveals how many DIYrs are actually doing home projects vs hiring prosand an interesting trend among the youngest home improvers. Plus…
- Does your yard double as an all-you-can-eat buffet for deer and wildlife?We’ve got some humane ideas for stopping all the chomping.
- Motion detector spotlights are a great addition to your home for both convenience and security. Thanks to LED technology, they are easy to install than ever and some don’t even have to be wired. We’ll share the brightest security options
- All the high-end products in the world can’t undo the effects of hard water on your hair, clothes and dishes.Find out which water softeners can help.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, replacing a flat roof with decking, proper installation of AC window units, eliminating pet odors, installing a pocket door, septic system inspections.
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 get your projects done. What are you working on? Are you renovating? Are you rejuvenating? Are you doing some decorating? Whatever project is on your to-do list, slide it over to ours by picking up the phone and joining the conversation. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, when it comes to home renos are you a DIYer or a go-pro kind of home improver? Well, Houzz has revealed how many DIYers that were actually doing home projects, in a new survey. We’re going to have those results, just ahead, along with an interesting trend among the youngest DIYers out there.
LESLIE: And does your yard double as an all-you-can-eat buffet for deer and wildlife? Well, we’ve got some humane ideas for stomping all the chomping.
TOM: Plus, motion-detector spotlights are a great addition to your home for convenience and security. And thanks to LED technology, they’re now easier to install than ever and some don’t even have to be wired. We’ll share those options.
LESLIE: But first, we’re here to educate, inspire, build confidence and help guide you with all of your home projects. So give us a call and let us know what we can do to help you finish, start, dream. Whatever it is, we’re here to lend a hand.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Amanda in Connecticut is on the line with an A/C system that’s not doing the C part of the cooling. What’s going on, Amanda?
AMANDA: Hi. I don’t really know. It’s a brand-new system.
LESLIE: Brand new as in the entire central air-conditioning system is new to the house or just a new condensing unit outside?
AMANDA: The new condensing unit. The house already had the venting in it but it didn’t have the unit.
TOM: OK. So they added the compressor outside, correct?
TOM: And who did this work? Was it a contractor?
AMANDA: Uh-huh, yeah.
TOM: Did they not test it to make sure it was working?
AMANDA: They said they would come back when it was hot. And so I called them and – the hot day. And they came back and it just didn’t cool after four hours. And he told me it’s because the house is an older house and that the returns are on the outside walls and makes it harder for it to cool down – longer for it to cool down?
TOM: Well, look. You hired these guys to complete your cooling system. So, any good contractor is going to look at the house and they’re going to identify any problems with the size of the ducts or where the ducts are run. They’re going to make sure that they’re sized properly.
Do we know that the compressor is actually working outside?
AMANDA: Yeah. They did – they came back again after that and made sure that it had the Freon in it and checked to make sure that it was working properly.
TOM: Well, obviously, something is not working properly, OK? And it’s either the compressor or there could be something with the way the ducts are installed. I can’t begin to diagnose it for you except to tell you that it’s not right. The contractor should know better than this. I don’t think you’re getting the best advice or service from this contractor, because it shouldn’t be that difficult for an HVAC contractor to figure out why a house is not getting cool. This is their business.
So, if you’re not getting anywhere with these guys, you might want to think about bringing in another contractor to get a second opinion, maybe not even share with them that you had this unit installed recently. And see if they can figure out why it’s not cooling. See what kind of advice you get.
But it seems to me that this first contractor had a responsibility to do what it takes or at least to complete the job or advise you if there was something that was going to prevent the compressor from cooling the house. Then why were they willing to sell you the compressor in the first place? You see what I mean? They’re the experts here.
AMANDA: He’s saying to me that four hours is not a long time.
TOM: That’s not true at all. That’s ridiculous.
AMANDA: I pretty much said I had to go outside to cool off.
TOM: Listen, I would get another contractor or an expert in there to find out why exactly it’s not working, take a look at all the things that impact cooling. And then at least you’ll know what was done or not done and you can take it from there. But it doesn’t sound to me like you’re getting the best advice here.
AMANDA: Thank you and I love listening to your show.
TOM: Oh, thank you very much. And I hope we’ve helped you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now up, we’ve got Paul calling in from Tennessee who’s got an issue with a water pump. Tell us what’s going on.
PAUL: I’m getting some air in this well water. The well is six-and-a-half years old, as is the house. And it goes down 350 feet and the casing goes down 105 feet where they grouted it. When they first put it in, I was bothered by the amount of turbidity I had in it and I was changing the whole-house filter about once a week.
And I went back to the drilling company and they said, “Well, it would take about three months to quit that.” Well, it was 36 months. And then after about four years, I started getting some water hammer in the cold water, particularly in the basement. Although upstairs, it’ll do it, too.
But then I’m getting air out of the faucets upstairs and it’s collecting air from somewhere and I can’t figure out where. And as far as I know, the well tank, with the bladder in it – the 40 pounds of air pressure hold the bladder. That seems to be OK, Tom.
TOM: OK. Yeah, that was the first thing I was going to think: that if you had a leak in that bladder tank, that that would cause that. Other possible causes are bad siphons but I’m not quite sure how you could test that without having all the gear that you would need.
Have you had the well company come back and take another look at this, specifically for the air-bubble problem?
PAUL: No. Because it’s been quite a while and they – the guy they used to have there at the company, in the daytime, didn’t seem to know much about it. In fact, when he told me 3 months it was going to clear up and it was 36 months, I thought, “Maybe I’m talking to the wrong guy.” But I haven’t gotten a hold of him.
TOM: Yeah. Well, he told you 3 months because his warranty was 90 days, right?
TOM: Paul, obviously, we’re getting air into that system and if it’s not coming through the bladder tank, I’m not quite sure where it’s coming in. And I think you’re going to have to get a well expert there – a real expert – that understands these things and try to see if there’s any way they can determine exactly how that air is getting in.
Do you have another well company that you might try?
PAUL: Yeah, there’s several of them here because this area is very rural. We’re right at the edge of the Smokies.
TOM: I would try another well company, because you didn’t have good luck with the first one, and see if you can get to the bottom of it. But I agree with you: if it’s not the tank, it more than likely is the pump.
PAUL: OK. Well, very good. And thank you. I will try someone here local, then, and see if they can build (ph) it out.
TOM: Alright, Paul. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Annette in North Carolina on the line who’s working on a boathouse project. Tell us about it.
ANNETTE: The deck on top of the boathouse – flat roof, has a bladder. I have removed the carpet that was originally on there 10 years. Want to know what I can put back on there, on the bladder, that will do better than carpet.
LESLIE: And this is on the roof, so it’s exposed to the elements 24/7?
ANNETTE: It is a flat roof.
LESLIE: Now, a carpet – exterior carpet – is probably not the best choice, just because it does tend to wear and tear quite quickly, even though you got 10 years out of it.
TOM: Rapidly, yeah. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: You know, it’s probably not the best choice.
Now, Tom, would you consider a composite-decking material or can that not really sit directly on top of that bladder, to get that water away?
TOM: Well, actually, what I was thinking was to create a deck-like surface on top of that bladder.
LESLIE: Like a platform.
TOM: Right, a platform where the deck – you really wouldn’t have the traditional floor joists or even 2x4s. You might have a, say, 2×6 on the flat that lays flat on top of that deck. And then the deck boards sort of lay on top of that on – with 16 inches on center. So, it’s kind of like just making the top surface of the deck as the wear-and-tear surface on top of that bladder.
Is there some sort of a railing system here, as well, Annette?
ANNETTE: Yes. It’s all railed. Mm-hmm.
TOM: OK. So then I would just create a composite deck that lays flat on top of that.
Now, you can’t just lay the composite decking boards on the bladder; you’ll need some way to keep them together. That’s why I said that what I might do is take a pressure-treated 2×6, lay it on the flat and use that sort of, in essence, as if it was a floor joist that you were attaching these decking boards to. And then lay the decking down on top of that.
Now, there’s also interlocking wood and I think it’s made out of teak.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I’ve used, actually, teak tiles like that.
TOM: Yeah, there’s teak tiles that interlock, right? Then I know – I’ve seen them; people can put them down on top of patios. I suppose you could probably also put that down on top of the roof as long as it wasn’t too soft. So any type of wood decking surface like that would be a good choice.
LESLIE: And those are interesting: the teak tiles that snap together. Do you have a Christmas-tree store near you? You know those stores: it’s not really a holiday store, it’s like …
ANNETTE: No. Lowe’s is the closest to – I’m 18 miles from any town. I’m way out in the woods.
LESLIE: OK. Because there’s several different companies, actually, that sell them online. Locally, for me, I found them at one of those discount home decorating stores. But they’re 12×12 teak tiles that almost look like a parquet tile, like a floor tile? And they’re set on a plastic base and they snap together. And you can also get an edging tile to sort of complete the border and that could sit directly on top of the bladder, because it’s got the little plastic base that creates that platform.
TOM: A good website to take a look at is SwiftDeck. SwiftDeck.com is a company that sells patio deck tiles. They have Ipe tiles. It looks like they also have a composite version. So a couple of options there. Great photos. You can see exactly what this looks like, at SwiftDeck.com.
ANNETTE: Beautiful. Thank you for your help.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for joining us here at The Money Pit.
Well, when it comes to home renos, are you a DIY or a go-pro kind of home improver? Well, according to a new survey by Houzz, nearly 9 in 10 homeowners hired a home professional for renovation projects in 2019. That’s 88 percent of projects out there. That’s crazy. They were things like electricians, plumbers. Those are now the most common renovation professionals that were tapped by homeowners – 50 percent – followed by general contractors, kitchen/bath remodelers, builders. And design-build pros made up about 36 percent of that. So people are hiring.
TOM: Now, design-related professionals, speaking of them, they were actually brought in by nearly one in five renovating homeowners and amounted to about 19 percent. That’s pretty good because, I tell you, if you are unsure about how to go with a project, it really does make sense to hire a designer to walk you through that. And I think it’s also interesting that of the high-end projects, they were up among the younger generations. About 10 percent of renovating homeowners are spending about 80,000 bucks or more on those projects.
LESLIE: Kerwin in Mississippi is on the line with a septic-system question. What’s going on over there?
KERWIN: Hey. Comment allez-vous? We’ve got a situation. We bought a tax-sale property.
KERWIN: Paid 3,000 for a trailer that still had all the stuff in it from Katrina, so it was a mess; took a couple months to fix. And it was a 100×150 lot with a trailer and an addition on it, so it was a great deal.
KERWIN: My problem is when we went through the process of trying to get power turned on, which we have no – we’re really living off the grid. We have no water, no power.
KERWIN: And we’ve got a compost toilet. And the problem, when an inspector came out from the Health Department, was it should have been grandfathered in but they started hemming and hawing about it being – they changed the rules. Instead of it being 10 feet from the property line, now it’s got to be 25 feet. And ours sits at 22.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.
KERWIN: So, we’re dealing with the raw sewage, you know, with the compost toilet. We need to deal with the septic-system gray water. And I’ve been looking – and they also tried to say that, oh, it might be a wetland. Well, it – I actually found a …
TOM: Still think it’s a good – still think it was a good deal?
KERWIN: Actually, I do.
TOM: OK. Alright. So what’s your question, Kerwin? Is it the septic inspector – the health inspector is telling you you can’t put in a septic system? Is that right? Is that what it is?
KERWIN: We’ve actually – we can’t get anybody from – we had an engineer come out and he said there doesn’t seem to be a problem.
KERWIN: They told me I had to – they referred me to an engineer. I got one to come out and now I can’t get a septic company to even come out and repair it. He said all it needs is repair.
KERWIN: So, I’m in a bind. So I looked for grants. I’ve thought of moving it myself.
TOM: What’s the job that actually has to be done? What’s the repair?
KERWIN: I think if we can find a way – if there’s a source or information on doing a gray-water system, we can get by.
TOM: First of all, you did the right thing by involving an engineer. The engineer will – his opinion will basically supersede that from the Health Department. The engineer is recommending a repair. The first thing I would do is ask the engineer if they can give you a referral to somebody that does this kind of work, aside from the two guys that you’ve been calling over and over and over again. I can’t believe there’s only two guys in this area that do this sort of work.
I would not try to change the entire way you’re putting this system together just because you can’t get a contractor out there that does this. I would place an ad on Craigslist to find a contractor or some other online directory, rather than change my approach to basically redesign the system. If the health inspector says you’ve got to get an engineer and the engineer says it’s repairable, let the engineer – I mean put the engineer in charge of the project. Let them find somebody that does this.
Yeah, you want to find somebody that can – has some credibility with the guys that are doing the work, that wants to get more work for them. You’re just kind of one and done. But if you have your engineer that’s doing this all the time maybe GC the project for you, maybe that engineer can help you identify a contractor that’s going to be responsible and reliable. Even if it costs you a little bit more, it’s going to be less than trying to redesign the entire system. And if you get it done right, then you can get the power moved in and kind of move on your way.
So that’s the way I would approach it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cindy is on the line from Nebraska with an air-conditioning question. How can we help you?
CINDY: Yes, I have central air but our upstairs does not cool very well. So we put in a window air and I’ve tried to seal it with some of those foam strips and tape and things like that. But now I’ve got some issues when it rains. For some reason, we’re getting water soaking through the tape and coming inside and dripping. What other thing can I use to seal that that would be more waterproof but still I’d be able to take it out?
TOM: Wow. So, typically, when you install a window air conditioner, you have the window – the upper part of the double-hung window sits on top of the box and then it has sort of like wings that slide out the side of the air conditioner to kind of seal out the space between the air conditioner and the opening of the window, correct?
TOM: Alright. And so you’ve sealed those areas with tape? Is that what you said?
CINDY: We used some strips of foam that you put around it to fill in the gaps. So we’ve got – the wings are all stretched out and then we’ve sealed, where we have spaces, with the foam strips.
TOM: Here’s what I do. There’s a product that is a temporary weatherstripping that looks like caulk; it comes in a caulking tube. Now, typically, you use this inside your house – for really, really drafty windows – and you almost caulk them shut with this product. But you can use it in a scenario like this. I think for the summer it would probably last fine. When it dries, it kind of looks like a silicone caulk; it’s clear. But the cool thing is that when you’re ready to pull out that air conditioner, you can peel this temporary caulk off.
Now, it’s made by a number of manufacturers. I think DAP makes – Seal ‘N Peel is the brand name that they came up with. Seal – S-e-a-l – ‘N Peel. And so take a look for that temporary weatherstripping caulk, search it out online. You may have to order it at a hardware store or a home center. And that’ll be much more effective than the tape, because you’ll be able to get it into those tight places and it will really stick there and keep that water out, OK?
CINDY: That sounds perfect. Thank you very much.
TOM: There you go. Sometimes you’ve got to come up with a creative solution to an unusual problem.
CINDY: I figured there had to be something. I just didn’t know what it was.
TOM: Alright, Cindy. Glad to help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Susan in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
SUSAN: I have recently purchased a home and there are three areas in the home that seem to emit a cat-urine odor when it gets very …
TOM: Eww. Yuck.
TOM: Alright. So, is it on – is it carpet? What kind of flooring you got there?
SUSAN: Actually, I’m finding it in the garage, on concrete.
TOM: Oh, OK. OK.
SUSAN: And around the front door – which there’s a brick exterior and it’s a metal door. But then it also – have discovered that there’s an area in the bedroom. It seems to be under a window. So maybe on the drywall? The carpeting has been replaced.
SUSAN: The home – and when I purchased the home, the carpeting had been – all had been replaced.
TOM: Well, here’s the thing. Let’s take it one area at a time. If it’s the garage and you have a concrete floor there, that could have absorbed some of that unpleasant liquid. What I would suggest you do is take the opportunity to add a new epoxy garage-floor paint to that surface. Very easy to do. Comes in kits. Made by lots of different manufacturers. QUIKRETE makes it, Rust-Oleum makes it. And basically, you mix up the paint and the hardener and it takes about 45 minutes to apply it and then a couple of hours for it to dry and probably the next day, you’re moving the car back in.
SUSAN: Wonderful. That’s a great idea.
TOM: So I would definitely put an epoxy paint down. That will seal in any type of odor that’s there.
Now, as far as that bedroom is concerned, my fear is that they pulled up the nasty carpet, put down new carpet but didn’t fix the problem underneath. But if there was dog or cat activity on that floor underneath, it should have been primed with an oil-based primer.
LESLIE: And it could be that the padding wasn’t replaced, as gross as that sounds. But I mean that’s a possibility; you never know that.
But Tom is right. If you have an odor issue associated with the carpet, when you pull up that carpet, that subfloor, whatever it is, does have to be painted with an oil-based primer just pretty much to seal in whatever is there.
Now, at this point, I hate to tell you you’ve got to go back down to that point and do it but that’s really probably going to be the only way. Because come cooler months, you’re not going to notice it as much but add moisture, high temps, humidity, you’re going to get that scent back again.
So, it’s possible that the same piece of carpeting can be reused but I would definitely look into making sure that that padding was replaced. If not, do it – and painting that subfloor.
TOM: I would think that the carpet could definitely be reused. You basically just have to pull it back up, pull the padding up. If the padding is not new, it should be replaced. And if it is new, just peel it back, prime that whole area of the floor and then put it back together. So you’ll need a carpet installer to help you with this, because it has to be tacked in properly. But you can absolutely do it without damaging the existing carpet, OK, Sue?
SUSAN: OK. Can I use just any oil base or do I need to use like a …?
TOM: I would use KILZ – K-I-L-Z – or B-I-N.
SUSAN: OK. Oh, OK.
TOM: As long as it’s oil-based, I think it will do a good job of sealing it out.
SUSAN: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
TOM: Sue, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got a motion-detecting light anywhere outside of your home, you know it’s a great deterrent for both people and critters that you don’t want skulking around your property.
TOM: Now, if you don’t have them, why not? They’re actually easy to install today and they’re very affordable. And they do definitely add a sense of security and some peace of mind.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, here’s how they work, guys. They’re super easy because the motion detectors in those lights are actually small electronic eyes. And they’re going to detect heat
waves from moving objects. And that can include people, animals, even cars. Now, that light is going to stay on anywhere from 1 to 20 minutes, depending on how you set it up. And a photocell keeps the light off during daylight hours.
Now, most motion detectors have a semicircular field of view of about 240 degrees and an adjustable distance range of about 70 feet, sometimes even more. And the field and the range can be adjusted to avoid coming on when cars drive by. So you’ve got to sort of see what the sensitivity is and then make it work for your house.
Now, I don’t think a lot of people realize but motion-detecting lights, you can actually operate them manually. Just flip that switch off for a second and then back on. And that’s going to allow you to keep the light on at night when you want it, even if there’s no motion.
TOM: Now, the basics of hooking up this light are pretty straightforward. If there’s an existing light fixture, it’s really easy. You just kill the power, remove the old unit and wire up the new one, matching wire for wire. That same wiring pattern should definitely be followed, so make sure the hot black wire is connected to the black, neutral white to white. And don’t forget to connect the green ground wire to the bare copper wire around the ground screw.
Now, beyond that, there are some really cool, new developments in motion-detection lights. There are battery-powered lights, which are awesome. I am amazed. I have got one, two, three of these – two inside the house and one outside the house – all run on D-cell batteries. I have not changed the batteries since I put them in well over a year ago. And they work on motion. I’ve got two in closets and one outside a door and it’s great. No wiring required. All I had to do was attach it to the wall and I was done.
There’s also security-camera lights where it’s basically a really high-intensity spotlight with a camera built in that will feed to a cloud so you can record footage. And there’s even LED light bulbs that have built-in cameras.
So there’s a lot of ways to get motion-detection lights and some cameras together today. And all in all, they add up to a lot more convenience and safety for your home.
888-666-3974 is the phone number. You know, it doesn’t matter when you’re listening to The Money Pit. If you are a podcast subscriber, you can call, too. Just dial us up any time of the day or night. And if you’re not a subscriber, well, why not? You can get The Money Pit podcast wherever you get your pods.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Mike from Tennessee calling in. And what’s great is that Mike tuned into us on Facebook and knew that we were in studio and gave us a call through our Facebook fan network.
Hey, Mike. Welcome.
MIKE: Our house is on a slab and we’re wanting to change to possibly some type of wood flooring but trying to decide what type would be best and how to go about that decision.
TOM: OK. Well, it’s very easy. Because your house is on a slab, there’s only one type of wood flooring that you can put down and that’s called “engineered floor.” The reason it’s called “engineered floor,” Mike, is because it’s put together in layers, kind of like plywood where you have alternating layers of wood? And that’s necessary for it to be dimensionally stable.
If you were to try to put down solid hardwood floor on a concrete floor, that concrete is so damp and moist that the solid hardwood would very quickly warp and twist and it just wouldn’t work. So, you want engineered hardwood and that can be installed as a floating floor, which means the floor pieces themselves would lock together but they don’t really attach to the floor. They just kind of float and they go down over an underlayment which is usually, with engineered, like a thin foam, so it even gives you a little cushion when you walk on it. And you cut it to fit the room and you cover the exposed edge with some molding when you get out to the baseboard.
So it’s pretty straightforward, pretty easy project to do. I would buy the best-quality engineered that you can afford, because it really counts on the finish. If you get a commercial-grade, for example, finish, it’s going to be far more durable, because it is almost impossible to refinish. So you really do want to have a good-quality finish first time out of the box.
MIKE: Well, that’s great information. I appreciate it.
TOM: You got it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, whether it’s the best-looking flower bed on the block or it just needs a little work, deer look at your garden and your lawn and they think one thing: it’s time for lunch.
LESLIE: You know, keeping those deer away from your plants and flowers, it can feel like you’re losing the battle. But there are plenty of humane, chemical-free ways to keep them moving onto that next green field.
TOM: Yep. So, commercially-available deer repellants are a start. They’re very effective at making your yard less tasty. They’ve got an odor that’s similar to rotten eggs. And the deer are going to find plenty of other greenery to munch, which will be much more appealing. But they are a little costly.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, if you’re looking for a fresher-smelling approach, soap is another deer deterrent. Just make sure you buy a few fragrant bars – you want them to be the stronger bars of soap – and hang them from the branches of the plants and trees that you’re trying to protect. There’s also a number of homemade recipes that you can find online. And they usually include large portions of cayenne pepper, lots of eggs. So, different ways to get the deer to sort of keep wandering.
TOM: Now, one other thing you can do is – especially if you have a smaller area that they’re infesting, so to speak – is to add fine-mesh nylon netting. We use this over some bushes around our house to keep the birds away from this one blueberry bush that we have. I mean we don’t get that many blueberries and we’d like to keep them for ourselves, so we cover the bush with the nylon netting. And it works really good because not only do the birds stay away, if there are deer that are fruit-lovers – I don’t know if they are – but they can’t get to it, as well.
Or you can go a high-tech route. You can install a motion-detector sprinkler. And the way that works is when the deer kind of move in on your garden space, it kicks on and spritzes the deer and keeps them away.
LESLIE: Yeah. Wait until they figure this out on a hot day and they’re like, “Let’s go over to the Krauetlers’ house. They’ve got that sprinkler thing.”
LESLIE: Barbara in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BARBARA: We’re restoring my mother-in-law’s 130-year-old home. Not that she’s 130 but this home is.
BARBARA: And I’m having a problem with the carpenter. I want to put in pocket doors and for some reason, he keeps telling me not to do that. He doesn’t want to do it. It’s not structural; it’s just he doesn’t want to do it.
TOM: Yeah. And you know what, Barbara? I mean a pocket door is a lot of work. And maybe that’s why he’s trying to talk you out of it. It will be far more expensive than a normal door to install because, essentially, it’s not just a door; it’s a wall, too. You have to put in the pocket side of it in addition to the door side of it. And that means that you have to kind of re-drywall that whole section so that it truly is a disappearing door.
That said, I’ve got a pocket door in my office and I love it because I don’t have room for the swing. And we’ve got a full-size, 30-inch by 72 or – I’m sorry, 30-inch by 80-inch door in this pocket and it swings into the wall. But I remember the process of getting this thing in and it is a lot of work. So that might be why your contractor is a little reluctant to take it on.
BARBARA: Do you have some words of wisdom I can share with him to encourage him to do that?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, tell him to expand his horizons, that the customer is always right and you want your pocket door and you’re willing to pay for it, pay him to do it. And he’s probably working by the hour. “So stop whining and get to work.”
LESLIE: And phrase it exactly like that. No, don’t.
TOM: Just like that. “Stop whining and get to work.”
BARBARA: I like it. That’d be great.
TOM: Alright, Barbara. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: And remember, you can always give us a call or post your question on The Money Pit’s Facebook page or email us.
But right now, I’ve got a post here from Ashley who writes: “I need to replace my water softener and I’m debating buying one that uses salt against one that doesn’t. What do you recommend?”
TOM: Yep. It’s a question that we often get. Let’s just talk about what hard water is. First of all, it comes from naturally-occurring minerals in your home’s water. And the hard-water buildup is also commonly called “limescale.” And it does stick to your pipes and also internally into your appliance. And that can shorten their life. It can increase energy usage. It can clog the pipes and basically reduce the flow rate for showers and faucets.
So, you have salt-based and then non-salt or salt-free water softeners. And I’ve had success with both. One that I particularly like is a salt-free version called EasyWater. How it works is – you know how magnets will repel one another when, say, two positives are pressed together? That’s kind of what the technology does. This device is hooked up to your main-water valve and it essentially takes those hard-water particles and charges them so that they repel each other and therefore don’t stick together. And if they don’t stick to each other, they’re also not going to stick to your pipes.
And the nice thing is that since it does go in at the main, it treats all of your water in your house without the need for a device at every single faucet or any more expensive plumbing. It just clamps right over the main line there. There is virtually no plumbing that’s necessary whatsoever.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you’ve got to take care of that hard water. It tastes gross. It makes your hair feel weird. Nothing is good when you have hard water. It’s just a disaster.
Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Jessie. Now, Jessie writes: “What is the better way to check a Freon leak: a dye test or an electronic device? I have had about five pounds of Freon leak over the past nine months. My home warranty plan refuses to send out another company to check for the leak using the dye test. They say wait 60 days and see if the leak can be found. What do you suggest?”
TOM: Well, first off, you are not the best person to be searching for a refrigerant leak which, by the way, may or may not be the Freon, depending on the age of your air-conditioning compressor. So, rather than check for actual leakage, I would check for performance. This is something you can do yourself and here’s how you do it.
You want to measure the temperature of the air inside the house at a return duct or maybe even at the thermostat. And then measure it at a supply duct, which is near the air handler, one that’s got a really strong flow. If the system is running normally, you should be reading somewhere between the 12- and 20-degree differential. If it’s less than 12, you are well within your right to demand repair.
And I would be suspicious of the warranty company’s approach on this because, usually, the Freon is not included in what they will repair or replace. So, you end up getting hit with expensive bills for Freon that’s apparently being released to the atmosphere. So this is a situation where they really need to get in there and either repair it or get you a new air conditioner and stop giving you the runaround.
LESLIE: And Jessie, I feel like if you can’t get them in to do the repair, you’re just sort of pushing off the inevitable and paying more bills, you know, to use the electricity to get the air conditioning to cool. I think you’ve got to figure out a way to get them to come in and physically do the repair or whatever is needed. Otherwise, you’re going to be in a world of hurt down the road.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, thank you so much for taking part of your summer day to listen to The Money Pit. If you’ve got questions and weren’t able to call and get us today, you are welcome to call us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. You can also post your questions on The Money Pit’s website at MoneyPit.com.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2020 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)
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