In this episode…
Squeaking floors are one of life’s little annoyances, but do they signal a structural problem below? Tom & Leslie have the answer plus step-by-squeaky-step tips to make them go away for good. Plus…
- You drink it, you cook with it, you bathe in it…but are you sure it’s safe? Tap water can be deceiving, because it looks and tastes harmless even when it’s not – which is why it’s a good idea to test it to find out – we’ll tell you how.
- Wood floors are beautiful but they’re not always the best choice in damp locations like bathrooms, laundry rooms, or basements. We’ll have an overview of what will work.
- Low water pressure can lead to lousy showers. We walk you through the possible causes including some you can fix yourself.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, repairing plaster ceilings, replacing a bathroom vent fan, getting rid of spiders, best paint for a garage door, removing carpet from a concrete floor, installing a french drain.
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: Give us a call with your home improvement project questions, your décor dilemmas. Are you stuck in the middle of a project or about to start one or don’t know how to start one? We’d love to help you out – the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT – because that’s what we do. We’re your home improvement coaches, advisors. Leslie is the decorating expert here, so you don’t have to worry about me giving you bad advice on colors. That’d never happen. But I will keep your pipes from leaking, keep your floors from squeaking if you give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And speaking of squeaking floors, now that is exactly what we’re going to talk about in today’s show. We’ve got some tips on how to handle those. You know, a lot of times we get questions about whether squeaking floors are one of life’s little annoyances or are they a major structural problem. We’re going to have that answer and give you some step-by-squeaky-step tips to make them go away for good.
LESLIE: That’s right. Well, also coming up, you drink it, you cook with it, you bathe in it but are you sure it’s safe? Tap water can be deceiving because it looks and tastes harmless even when it’s not, which is why it’s a good idea to test it to find out. We’re going to tell you how.
TOM: And wood floors are beautiful but they’re not always the best choice in damp locations like bathrooms, laundry rooms or basements. We’ll have an overview of what will work.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what’s on your to-do list as we move ahead to the cooler months. We’re here to help, so give us a call, 888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get going. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Wendy in Iowa, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
WENDY: I bought a large commercial building in a historic downtown of Atlantic, Iowa.
TOM: Oh, it sounds nice.
WENDY: And it had a roof leak and we have repaired that; we’ve put a new roof on. But there was a lot of damage to the second-story ceiling, which was lath and plaster.
WENDY: And we want to put a loft – a residential loft – up on the upstairs. We have about 1,500 square foot of lath and plaster that needs to come down. So my question is: is there something that’s available as an aid to funnel all of that dirt and lath and plaster down off of the ceiling and out to a dumpster?
TOM: Yeah. Let me give you some suggestions, having been through this very repair in my home which was all lath and plaster. I went about remodeling rooms in different stages. The first time, I decided I would take all the lath and plaster out and drywalled right on top of the original studs. And after going through that mess, I decided it wasn’t as important as I’d once thought to take the lath and plaster out.
And the next time I did it, I simply put a second layer of drywall over the old lath and plaster and screwed through that drywall up into the ceiling joists and the wall studs to support it. And that was a much neater, much easier way to get a nice, clean, new ceiling without all of the mess and the dust and the dirt and the debris.
So, is the lath and plaster somewhat intact or is it all loose and falling off? What’s the status of it right now?
WENDY: In some places, where there was a water leak, the plaster wants to fall off. And then in some places, it’s not so bad.
TOM: Well, if you were to put 4×8 sheets of drywall over that and screw the drywall in, it’ll probably support any loose lath or plaster that’s there. And again, you won’t have this big mess of having to tear it all down, which is an awfully big project. Because it’s very heavy, you’ll be shoveling it off the floor, putting it in trash cans, carrying those cans down. And you can’t even fill up the cans because it’s too heavy to lift them.
So it’s a big, stinking mess and if you could apply some drywall to the ceiling as it is now and attach through that drywall into the ceiling joists, it should support the old lath and plaster and give you a nice, clean surface to start with.
WENDY: OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome, Wendy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Shannon in North Carolina is on the line and needs help with a bathroom-vent switch. What’s going on?
SHANNON: The problem is I turn the switch on to it, sometimes it comes on, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I turn the switch on, it briefly takes between 2 to 3 minutes. And if it comes on after that …
TOM: Now, Shannon, is this powering an exhaust fan?
SHANNON: Yes, it is.
TOM: So I think probably the exhaust fan is starting to wear out. It sounds to me like the motor for the fan is perhaps dirty or the bearing is a little worn and it takes a while for it to kind of get going. And that’s a very kind of common symptom of a motor that’s wearing out.
Is this an old bath fan?
SHANNON: Yes. It’s about 18 years old.
TOM: Yeah, man, time to replace it. Don’t last forever.
SHANNON: Yeah, I know.
TOM: You know, it’s very simple. Does this bath fan have a light that’s built into it, as well?
SHANNON: No, sir.
TOM: Alright. Well, when you pull the cover off the fan, sometimes you’ll see that the fan is actually plugged into the side of the housing. And so you could plug a light into the side of that housing, unplug the fan and then go to the light switch and turn it on – I’m sorry, the bath fan. So turn it on/off, on/off. You’ll probably see the power come on and off like normally, as evidenced by the light bulb that you just plugged in for testing purposes. And again, that just means that the power is fine. It’s not a problem with the switch; it’s the fan.
And if you’re getting that kind of resistance out of it, I’d just replace the fan. They’re not very expensive. And the good thing is that even though it’s an 18-year-old bathroom-exhaust fan, the sizes are pretty standard. So, chances are you’ll be able to replace that without a lot of trouble.
SHANNON: OK. Sounds common and easy.
TOM: Yep. Pretty straightforward. Shannon, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got lucky lady Nancy who lives in Hawaii, the greatest place in the world, who needs help waterproofing a lanai.
NANCY: Hi. Aloha.
LESLIE: Aloha. How can we help you?
NANCY: Well, we have a walk-around lanai on our home that gets water on it when it rains. And the floors don’t slope, so it’s standing water. And so we’re trying to figure out a way not only to help make a slope but something that’s a waterproof floor that we can put on there to prevent our wet lanai.
TOM: So what’s the lanai made out of now? What’s the floor now? Is it concrete?
NANCY: It’s plywood with waterproof paint.
TOM: OK. So if you want something that’s really super-durable on that floor and you want it to be completely waterproof, I would recommend fiberglass. We very often use fiberglass when we build waterproof decks like, for example, that might be on a second floor where there’s living space below.
It’s kind of like handcrafting the hull of a boat across that deck surface, because you make it very much the same way. You put it in fiberglass, in resin, in varying layers and the pros will just make it so it’s almost like one complete piece. And then it can have an abrasive finish on it so that nobody slips or anything like that. So that’s a really super-durable way to create a deck that you can walk on, push furniture around on and not have to worry about it breaking through or ever leaking.
NANCY: And then there’s a way to make it slope?
TOM: Right. And so what you would do before you did the fiberglass is you would probably put a second layer of plywood over there. And you would build it up using what’s called “sleepers,” which are sort of like long shims, to kind of create the pitch first. And then once you had the pitch established with the wood, you would cover it with fiberglass. And that would actually go up under a bit of the siding, where it attaches to the house, so that it gives you a complete waterproof seal.
NANCY: Oh, perfect. What a great idea. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Nancy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Brunie (sp) in Alaska who’s looking for some planting help in Alaska. Some cold plants, I guess. Fake ones.
Welcome, Brunie (sp). How can we help you?
BRUNIE (sp): We have a very narrow swath of grass, which is actually just moss and tall weeds. Can’t quite tell what kind of weed it is and there’s no grass growing; it’s just moss and it’s damp. It’s on the north side of the building and it’s just at the edge of the deck.
BRUNIE (sp): So it virtually gets no sun ever. I think it’s – “crabweed,” I think it’s called or some kind of a ferocious weed that grows uncontrollably.
BRUNIE (sp): So I was wondering if you could make any suggestions what else I could grow there.
TOM: Well, the key here is to understand what hardiness zone that your area of the country is in. And anybody that lives in Alaska is pretty hardy, by my book.
BRUNIE (sp): Yeah.
TOM: But there are actually hardiness zones there.
And taking a look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s site, Leslie, what zone does it look like she’s in?
LESLIE: It looks like Anchorage is placed in the 3b/3a zone, which would put you in the -40 to -30 degree temperature zone. So that kind of gives you an idea of what hardiness of plant or grass that you would need to sustain those temperature swings.
TOM: And if you go to the Almanac.com, which is the website for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, they actually have a guide there that has all these plants listed by hardiness zone. So there are actually quite a few plants that will survive, believe it or not, in that hardiness zone. And they’re all listed there in a directory on The Old Farmer’s Almanac. So I think that would be a good source for you. Gives you lots of options on what you can do with that space, based on that hardiness zone and of course, the amount of light. And hopefully, we can get something growing there pretty soon.
BRUNIE (sp): Thank you so much. That would – that’s very nice. I appreciate that.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Richard in Illinois on the line who’s getting some water through the foundation. Tell us what’s going on.
RICHARD: What it is is over time – I’ve got a ranch house with a walkout basement. And on the walkout, when you come out, there is a retaining wall that is about 8 foot tall where it meets the house. It hasn’t really separated from the house but there is water that gets in between the retaining wall and the foundation and then it gathers right at the bottom, on a heavy rain, and then seeps back into the basement. So, I’m trying to figure out – the previous owner that had this house is – put something in there, like a caulking of some type, that has gotten hard over time and it’s not slowing it down too much.
TOM: So this is a gravity situation, so let’s give you a gravity solution. Let’s have the drainage work with you and not against you. And by the way, you can seal this until the cows come home and it’s still going to find its way in. What you have to do is stop the water from accumulating.
So, on the opposite side of this retaining wall, I’m guessing that there’s some runoff that goes towards the wall?
RICHARD: Yes, there is.
TOM: So what you’re going to want to do is intercept that runoff so we don’t get as much water that collects in that area. What we want to try to do is limit the amount of water that gets in that area to just direct rainfall with no runoff. That means no gutter discharge, no runoff from higher elevations. So, the way we do that is, first of all, examine the gutter situation and make sure there’s no water dropping at the high side of this where it could work its way down. If there is, you’ve got to run a pipe underground to get it to a place where it’s not going to interfere with leakage into the basement.
Secondly, in terms of intercepting the runoff, what you could do is install something called a “curtain drain,” Richard. It’s a really – it’s a rather simple drain that you might construct yourself. You dig a trench that’s about 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide, you put some stone in that trench. Then you put a perforated pipe on top of the stone, surround it with more stone, lay a piece of filter cloth across the top and cover it with soil. So when it’s all done, it’s invisible.
And the end of that drain that you just installed should exit to daylight somewhere, so you need to figure out the best way to do that based on the configuration of your yard. What that will do is it’ll intercept the water that’s coming down from higher elevations. It’ll fall into that trench, come up into the pipe and then run around the house as opposed to collecting in that particular corner. If we can keep the water from collecting in that area, you will probably be just fine, because it’s rare that just direct rainfall accumulates enough water to actually leak in the house. It’s almost always the runoff from gutters and from drainage.
RICHARD: Right. And needless to say, I’ll probably have to do some – get rid of some landscaping, because it’s got some little, green bushes there along that wall, as well, so …
TOM: Yeah. And that’s a good point, because sometimes you can make the problem worse by having landscaping that traps water. So just think in terms of water control here, not in terms of trying to seal that water out, and I think you’ll be in good shape.
LESLIE: Well, squeaking floors are one of life’s little annoyances but they rarely signal a structural problem below. Now, the actual sound stems from one or a combination of two sources here: either loose floorboards are rubbing together or the nails that hold down the floor are squeaking as they move in and out of their holes.
TOM: That’s right. And fortunately, squeaks can be about as easy to fix as they are to find if you know what to do. Now, the solution for both cases is to basically resecure the floor to the floor joists below. Now, how you do this depends on the floor covering.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, for floor squeaks under carpeting, the best solution is to always remove that carpet and then use hardened drywall screws to hold the floor in place by driving one next to every nail in at the floor. Now, the screws will never pull out, so they’re much better than nails at stopping those squeaks. It’s also smart to do this if you’re replacing a carpet anyway. This way, you can stop squeaks even before they’re happening.
TOM: Fixing squeaking hardwood floors is a bit trickier than fixing a carpeted floor, but the principles are pretty much the same. You need to locate the area of the squeak, and then you can use a stud finder to locate the joist below. And once you’ve identified the joist, you want to screw the floor down in this area but you’re going to use a type of screw called a trim screw. Now, it’s hardened like the drywall screws but it has a really small head, kind of like a finish nail, so it’s easy to fill the hole with wood putty.
LESLIE: Yeah, guys. Squeaky floors might be one of life’s little annoyances but they are easily kept under control. For a complete guide on how to fix your floor squeaks under carpeting, hardwood, tile or vinyl, check out MoneyPit.com.
Now we’re going to North Carolina where Reba is dealing with a spider problem. Blah. What’s going on?
REBA: I have moved into a brand-new set of apartments and there are just spiders everywhere. But they have a lot of mulch around our apartments and – where they’ve planted new flowers and such. But there are some tiny spiders that are little black spiders and then there’s brown spiders that are as big as quarters. They’re the fastest spiders I’ve ever seen in my life.
TOM: Oh, boy. And the brown spiders that are as big as quarters, they sound like brown recluse spiders, which can bite. So those we don’t like at all.
REBA: Right. But I have tried – I have bought stuff from Lowe’s. I’ve sprayed all kinds of stuff all inside my house and all around the outside but they’re impossible to get rid of.
TOM: So, I hate to say this but have you considered hiring a professional? I know you’re probably saving some money. But whenever I hear somebody is buying lots and lots of pesticide and spraying it inside the house and spraying it outside the house, I’m kind of of the opinion that by the time you do all that, you’ve exposed yourself to so much excess pesticide that you would have been better off just having a pro come in, because they can buy stuff that you can’t buy.
Plus, they’re specifically trained on where to put the insecticide, how much to put. And also, the insecticides today are very specific and they remove only the insects that they’re supposed to remove. And they don’t remove the beneficial insects that you want to leave behind.
So if you’re having that much of an infestation, I would stop shopping for my own pesticide and call a pro and have them treat the house. And once you get the populations down to where they’re manageable, kind of more normal, then you could try to use some of those other products just on a maintenance basis. Does that make sense?
REBA: It sure does. But here’s the only question: when everybody else is having the same problem and the mulch is all around the whole entire neighborhood, is just me spraying going to help? Is it going to stop it?
TOM: Well, yeah, it’ll create sort of a barrier around your place. But let me ask you, is this an apartment you rent or is this a townhouse? What’s the form?
REBA: This is like – they just built this whole neighborhood of new apartments. There’s like 43 apartments.
TOM: So they’re rental apartments?
TOM: OK. So, if you get the exterminator out there and they tell you that you’ve got something like a brown recluse spider there and you bring that to the attention of the rental agent, I think you’d give them plenty of reason to treat the whole apartment complex and not ignore them to the point where people and kids start getting bitten.
REBA: OK. I thank you for your information.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
So, Leslie, this weekend I decided to solve a problem that’s been annoying me kind of all summer long. We live on a corner and the backyard has a street that goes to a dead-end and there’s really no houses behind us. So aside from my neighbor and I, there’s really no other reason to go this dead-end street. Well, what happens is people that come to our area for the summer don’t realize it’s a dead-end and they head down there at full speed and then you see the lights – the brake lights light up the whole neighborhood when they figure out they’re about to drive into the woods.
So, what do they do next? Well, they decide that my beautifully manicured lawn with sprinkler heads is the perfect place for them to back into to turn around. And I’m like, “Look, you can use my driveway. You can use my neighbor’s driveway. You don’t have to back across the lawn. It’s really not necessary.” But that message wasn’t getting through, so I decided I would put up a picket fence – decorative picket fence – to kind of say, “Please don’t back up over my lawn.”
Now, I was looking at the vinyl fences but I’ve always had a problem with the vinyl-fence designs – the early ones – because I think they look blocky, you know what I mean? The shape of the posts and the shape of the pickets, it looks oversized, almost like balloons, you know? It doesn’t really look like real wood. But I found a line, just by chance, at Home Depot – actually, it was online at HomeDepot.com – and I thought, “This could work.” And once I got this and I put it in, I was really impressed with it.
So, the manufacturer is called Zippity. And the way it works is the posts come with a steel pipe. There’s a steel pipe that’s about half the size of a post and you drive the steel pipe in the soil first and you level the pipe. Once you do that, the post slips over it tight. And it’s not like a big 4×4 or 5×5 post; it’s more like a 2×4 or 2.5×4. And so you only have to level it in once direction, right? Because the post has a little bit of wiggle room from side to side. So you put that post in …
LESLIE: Do you secure that post at all with any cement or anything?
TOM: No, you don’t have to. So you drop the post. The vinyl sleeve fits over the steel pipe. You pin it together with a couple of screws and then you work off that first level post. You add some brackets – like U-shaped brackets, like a miniature TECO bracket from framing – and you basically drop the sections in, you put another post and go down the line. My son and I put it 36 feet of fencing in probably about 2 hours.
And it was so easy. It was secure, it was solid, it looks fantastic. And like I was saying at the beginning, this picket fence looks more like wood than most vinyl fences. So, well done to the folks at Zippity. I thought the design was really smart and engineered well. So it wasn’t sagging. It really locked together nicely. And even those side rails that hold the pickets in place, they were sort of like – they were reinforced. The pour of the mold on it was like – had a grid design to it, so you didn’t see it but inside, engineering-wise, it was really strong. So, good job and definitely recommend it.
LESLIE: Now, hopefully people do not back into the fence.
TOM: I hope not, yeah. I’m kind of counting on that. If they decide to plow over the fence I don’t know what I’m going to do.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jan in Iowa on the line who is dealing with a concrete patio that has some carpeting issues. What’s going on?
JAN: We purchased our condo, as a retirement home, with a patio – an outdoor patio – with indoor/outdoor carpeting already installed on it. And we think it’s awful. It’s discolored and stained and we want to remove it. We need to know the best way to get it up off the concrete. And then we would like to know what to use as something that could improve the appearance of the concrete. Because we know it’s going to probably have bits of glue and who knows what that’s adhering to it. And it won’t be attractive.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a very time-consuming, messy job to rip up indoor/outdoor carpeting that’s been glued down. So, let’s just assume that that’s the case. And you’ll get off as much as you can but there’ll still be some black, rubber backing and other bits of glue that’s still stuck there. So, it is difficult to decide what to do with that.
I would tend to think that the best thing to do might be to cover it. And what you could do is you could take a brick paver and basically assemble pavers right on top of the patio. Now, that will raise it by about an inch-and-a-half to 2 inches but it will look beautiful. And you won’t have to worry about any movement in the brick pavers, because you have a solid piece of concrete underneath.
JAN: Alright. So once the carpet is off, then the brick pavers could be installed over the concrete.
TOM: Yep. Right on top of the concrete. You can – there’s lots of different styles and colors and they’re all modular. And they fit together like puzzle pieces.
JAN: We’ll do that.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, we’re fortunate here in the U.S. to have some of the cleanest water in the world. But that doesn’t guarantee that your water is safe. Now, water contamination can’t be seen, smelled or tasted but it’s easy to find out for sure, because you can easily test your tap water.
TOM: Now, the first thing you want to do is contact your water provider. They are required, by law, to make test results available to consumers. And the report’s going to detail the water testing results of your area. And even if they come back clean, do note the testing date and the results because if it’s been more than a year or so, you might want to take a few more steps to make sure your water’s still safe.
LESLIE: Now, next, you’re going to hire an independent certified lab to test your tap periodically. And this can be done for as little as $30 and covers threats ranging from lead to pesticides, to bacteria and radon.
And there are also a number of DIY kits out there but be cautious if the free kit comes with a hard-charging salesman. That’s not the best way to really learn what’s in your water, because the testing company has an obvious conflict of interest. They want to help you do something.
TOM: And I’ve seen that a lot and it really bugs me that a lot of the “free” kits are basically a sales tool from companies that want to sell you water-treatment equipment. So you’ve got to make sure you’re getting independent expert advice.
Now, if contaminates are found, you need to treat the water but only as necessary. And there are wide ranges of water-treatment products out there, from something as simple as a filter pitcher to whole-house systems that are installed at the main water valve, where the water comes into the house first.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Tom in Alaska on the line who’s dealing with a roofing problem. Tell us what’s going on.
TOM IN ALASKA: I have a rafter or a trussed – in this case, they’re 9×3½ inches – 9 inches by 3½ inches, 32 inches on center.
TOM IN ALASKA: Now, on top of that, I have 2×6 tongue-and-groove wood. Now, on top of that is where the insulation goes and the insulation currently is some kind of – it’s all one piece. It’s 2 inches or 2¼ of a yellow foam with about 3/8-inch or ½-inch of some kind of – I don’t know. It crinkles; it can be broken off with your fingers. And then on top of that, connected to it is what looks like roofing paper?
TOM: Right. Probably tar paper.
TOM IN ALASKA: Right.
TOM: OK. So, what you’re describing is a cathedral ceiling with a sandwich-type roof structure above it. So, in other words, typically in a ceiling you would have the insulation in between the rafters. Because your rafters are part of the architectural beauty of the home, the insulation is actually stacked on top of the rafters, kind of on the roof-shingle side almost.
TOM IN ALASKA: Right.
TOM: And that’s not unusual in that type of home. It ends up creating a bit of a deeper fascia at the front edge because of the amount of material you have there but it’s a good, sensible way to insulate that style of home.
So what’s your question about this? Are you having problems with it?
TOM IN ALASKA: I would assume that that’s only about R-19, if that.
TOM: It can depend on what exact materials are being used. And you’re right: it’s probably not enough. And so your question might be: “How do I make that better?”
TOM IN ALASKA: Right. And I was thinking of putting something on the inside, which I will lose the visual effect, but I thought if I put maybe a little furring strip or something on the inside, put in a blown-in, rigid foam …
TOM: Well, if you put in blown-in, that’s going to totally mess up the appearance of those rafters. It’s hard to do that neatly. So what you might want to think about doing is adding some rigid foam insulation inside the ceiling, in between the ceiling rafters, and then some other type of wood paneling over that so that when you look up, it appears that you’re looking at the underside of the roof still. You understand what I mean?
TOM IN ALASKA: Right.
TOM: So you can even use a tongue-and-groove thin, pine paneling that’s like 3/8- or ¼-inch thick but have that cover the insulation. And that would still give you the appearance – even if you’re losing a little bit of depth, you might be able to pick up a fair amount of additional insulation.
Well, Tom, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you just love the look of wood floors and want them in areas that can be prone to a lot or even a little bit of water, hardwood is probably not the best choice. We’ve got some better options.
TOM: That’s right. Now, if solid hardwood gets wet, it can swell and buckle. And once that happens, there is no going back. There’s a new waterproof-flooring option on the market that can deliver the look of real hardwood without the risk of water damage and it’s called “engineered vinyl plank,” or EVP. Now, the nice thing about EVP is that it’s totally and completely waterproof. It can stay wet for an extended period of time. So, wet mopping, bathroom splashes and pet accidents will not damage that kind of floor.
LESLIE: And don’t be confused by its name, guys. This is not your mom’s vinyl. EVP combines the comfort and waterproof features of standard vinyl with the quick and easy installation of laminate. And EVP comes in lots of high-end styles that capture the authentic grain, color, and even the texture of real hardwood. They look amazingly like the hardwoods that inspire their design.
TOM: It’s funny. We say, “It’s not your mom’s vinyl,” but in my case, it is my mom’s vinyl because I put it down at her house.
LESLIE: You did, didn’t you?
TOM: I did. I did and it looks good. We were looking for a product that would work well in her kitchen. And I wanted to make sure it could handle chairs that are being sort of scuffed in and out from under a kitchen table. And it worked great. And it’s been down for months now and I’m really, really pleased with it.
And the fact that it’s got truly waterproof construction means you can pretty much bring that same beauty and warmth look of hardwood to every room in your house. It’s going to work in bathrooms, kitchens. It’ll work in the laundry rooms, basements. It’s a very rigid plank and it kind of snaps together, so installation is easy, too.
So, I highly recommend it. It’s very durable in terms of not being dentable (ph) if you drop stuff on it. So, good for houses with kids. So, look, if you’re looking for a water-resistant floor, check out the EVP products. I think they’ve really done a great job with this.
LESLIE: Marlene in Minnesota is on the line. How can we help you today?
MARLENE: We have two aluminum-clad, factory-finished garage doors, dark brown in color or at least they were.
MARLENE: And they’re beginning to fade due to oxidation and sun exposure. Is there anything we can do to restore that finish?
TOM: Well, not short of painting them. Because if you – when you say restore them, that would presume that there’s a way to kind of bring back the luster of the original paint finish. But after years of exposure to sun and especially those darker colors, you do get oxidation where the paint surface is broken down. And you’re not going to bring that surface back.
The good news is that because they’re metal doors, they’re fairly straightforward to paint. You want to make sure that you lightly sand the door. And then I would use a metal primer – so a good-quality, metal priming paint – and then whatever your topcoat of paint is going to be beyond that.
And if you do that right – because it’s metal and it’s not organic, so it’s not subjected as much to expansion and contraction and certainly not moisture absorption – a good paint job on a metal door like that could easily last 10 years.
MARLENE: OK. Well, thank you for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Marlene. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, here’s a post from Abby who writes: “The water pressure throughout my house is intermittently high and low. Within a 1-minute period, it goes from being very low to wonderful for maybe 6 to 8 seconds and then low again. It makes laundry take forever, washing dishes a pain and showers less than enjoyable. Any advice on what that problem might be and how we can fix it?”
TOM: You know, the one piece of information Abby is not giving us here, Leslie, is the age of the house. Because this sounds very much like maybe it’s an older house and it has some restriction in the pipes. If it’s a home that still has some amount – I mean you could have all or – but it’s probably not likely at this point. But you could have all or some steel pipes.
What happens with steel pipes is they suffer from interior rusting and they sort of move inward towards a clog. I’ve taken steel plumbing apart and had, say, a 1-inch pipe but the size of hole that the water was moving through was down to a ¼-inch, because the rust expands and pushes in.
LESLIE: Oh, it’s amazing. And you can’t tell.
TOM: Yeah. Well, she can tell.
LESLIE: Right. But if you were to look at the pipe, you have no idea how bad it is.
TOM: Right, it looks good from the outside. Yeah.
So I think first thing we need to do here is we need to know what kind of plumbing you have, Abby, because that would be an issue. But if it’s not the plumbing, then it’s most likely some restriction in a valve that is partially closed. You have a restriction. What you’re describing to us is a restricted water flow. It’s very sensitive to anything else that comes on in the house. So one fixture, OK, second fixture, you’ve got a problem.
Well, you want one project you can do right now that will guarantee to save you a bundle when it comes time to flick on the heat in your house? It’s adding a smart thermostat. Leslie has info on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, a smart programmable thermostat is going to ensure that you don’t play with the temperature all day. And that’s going to save you some money. You can keep it at a steady temperature when you’re home, keep it set to about 55 degrees at night or when you’re away and then you can have the heat come up automatically about an hour before you wake up. This way, you’re not going to freeze after your morning shower.
Plus, smart thermostats can also sense when someone is home versus when someone is not and then automatically move that temperature to the vacation setting when no one is around. I mean it’s so convenient and it’s going to save you so much money and energy, you’re really going to wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
TOM: You know, we had an offer from our gas company to basically get two free smart thermostats. And they sent me two Google Nest thermostats for free. Now, I already had two but I figured, well, I’ll take the two free ones and then I’ll gift it to someone in my family. And that’s exactly what we did. So, we’ve got new, free thermostats from our utility company.
And I always am amazed by that, Leslie, because as a reward for getting your business, the authorities make them provide energy-efficient advice. So, I guess the smart thermostat was something we had coming to us. But even if you have to pay for them – I’m telling you I’ve had mine for years and I absolutely love them. And they do really make a big difference in your bill.
And coming up next time on the program, did you know that kitchens are one of the most popular improvements of the fall season? There’s always this big rush to get kitchens done before the holidays, so we’re going to give you some tips on how to plan a kitchen remodel that will look fantastic and save you plenty of money on the project, 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.)