In this episode…
With cooler weather ahead, now is a great time to get your chimney ready for a roaring fire. Tom and Leslie share tips and ideas to make sure your chimney is clean and safe for a season of toasty fires. Plus…
- Whether your old furnace is ready for replacement or you want a more efficient upgrade, a new furnace should never be an impulse buy. But too many times, that’s exactly what does happen – especially if your furnace gives out in the middle of winter! We’ll have tips to help you make the smart choice when it comes to a new furnace.
- Garages are unique places to get organized because they are one of the only spot in your home where tools, toys and toxins, like pesticides, get stored side by side. We’ll share some tips for better garage organization.
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 with your home improvement projects. Whatever it takes – home improvement, décor, repair, remodeling – to make your house your best home ever, we would love to be a part of that transformation. All you need to do is to call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to MoneyPit.com or to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. And we will be happy to engage with you and try to help you out, try to figure out what the best way is to go, how you can save some money, how you can get the projects done as quickly and easily as possible. For those repairs, how to get it done once, get it done right so you never have to do it again or at least not for a long time. Whatever is on your to-do list, your dream list, give us a call. We would love to chat about just that. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, summer has officially come to a close, which means it’s time to shift gears and start thinking about cooler weather. So we thought we’d kick off the show, this hour, by doing just that. We’re going to give you some tips on how to make sure your fireplace and your chimney are in shape for a roaring fire in the season ahead. Too many times, we see terrible chimney fires that destroy homes, like we saw just a few months ago. It’s just tragic what happened to Rachael Ray’s home in Upstate New York. It was destroyed by a chimney fire and in her case, in the middle of summer. So it can really happen anytime. We want to make sure that your chimney is clean, your fireplace is good to go so you can have a safe and enjoyable season.
LESLIE: And also ahead, whether your old furnace is shot or maybe you just want to buy a more efficient upgrade, a new furnace really should not be an impulse buy. But too many times, that’s exactly what does happen, especially if you’re in a jam like in the wintertime and your furnace gives out.
I mean Tom, this has happened. You’ve seen this even during a home inspection, right?
TOM: Yeah, yeah. So, you know, we say we don’t want it to happen in the middle of winter. You also don’t want it to happen in the middle of a home inspection. But I’ve got to tell you – you guys know I was a home inspector for 20 years. And too many times, I will find furnaces that have cracked heat exchangers because, frankly, it’s one of the things we always check for because it really is sort of the deathblow to the furnace.
If the heat exchanger cracks and – so you guys know what this is. I always use the analogy of a radiator because everybody knows what an old, hot-water radiator looks like. The water circulates inside, right, and the air sort of wafts over the outside. And that’s how you get heat out of it. Well, in a furnace, what’s circulating inside is not water but it’s combustion gas. It’s everything coming off of that natural gas or that oil fuel that you’re burning. And you do not want that to get into your house because it’s toxic.
Now, if that heat exchanger has a crack in it – which happens over time because the metal is always expanding and contracting – then that is it for the furnace; it’s time for a new one. And I can tell you a number of times, during the home inspections that I was doing, that I found a home inspection and literally, before I was finished with that inspection a couple hours later, that old furnace was torn out and being rolled out the door and a new furnace being rolled back in. That is a time when you have no ability to make a careful, considered decision.
So we want to talk to you about how you can make the best decisions on replacing your furnace before it screams out for the need to replace it itself.
LESLIE: And also ahead, guys, now is a great time to get your garage organized so you can get all of that off-season storage items back to place. So we’re going to have some tips to help you make that garage project go a little faster, because it’s always a big one I feel like.
TOM: It is. So, pick up the phone, give us a call, reach out to us online or via Facebook at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit because we’d really like to hear what you are working on.
And today, if you do call in your question, you could win a fantastic product because our friends at Pony Jorgensen have given us a set of four hand clamps to give away. I’m going to tell you a little bit more about these later but let’s just say this: my set was handed down to me over 40 years ago and they still work like they are brand new.
So this is a quality product. If you are a DIYer or a woodworker, that would be great to have. It’s worth 75 bucks and going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Reach out to us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Joanne in Alaska is on the line with an electric-heating question. What can we do for you today?
JOANNE: Well, I have purchased a money pit next door to my home and it’s a five-unit complex that was built around 1901.
JOANNE: And it has this heating system – I’m from New Orleans, originally, so knowing about heating systems is not my forte.
TOM: Yeah, well, now that you live in Alaska, you’d better learn quick, huh?
JOANNE: I’m working on it. But the house I lived in had oil heat; this is a wall-mounted – it’s about 4 feet by 20 or 24 inches.
JOANNE: The surface of it looks like warming trays that you use – a buffet, you know? It’s like a (inaudible) thing and is this still made? I have one glass that’s broken. They do have wall-mounted thermostats. What is the efficiency of this kind of heat? Is it ridiculous or …?
TOM: It’s not. It is ridiculous. I mean it’s – first of all, it’s electric heat, so – it’s electric-resistance heat. They’re just using the glass as the heat exchanger, so to speak. And I’ve seen these before and they sort of hang off walls and the air is supposed to pass through behind them and sort of create this convective loop.
TOM: And will they work? Yeah, they work but they’re very expensive. Are there any other heating options for you there?
JOANNE: Well, electric is my only option in these units. They’re all electric, so is there a more efficient electric type of heat?
TOM: Well, a heat pump – electric heat pump – would be the most efficient but I think in Alaska, I’d probably rule that out. The climate is just too raw for that. So, no, I guess you’re going to be stuck with resistance heat.
Now, if they’re broken – you mentioned that one was broken?
JOANNE: Yeah, the glass on one of them is broken.
TOM: Well, if the glass is broken, I guess it’s potentially unsafe. Depends on how the heating coil is distributed inside that glass. If you did have to replace them, you can buy new glass wall-panel heaters. And actually, some of them can look kind of stylish. Some of the new ones look almost like a flat-screen TV; they’re black and sort of modern-looking.
JOANNE: Is that better than the baseboard heat? I see a lot of people here use these baseboard heaters.
TOM: Yeah, they’re all electric heat, yeah. The only advantage is that you’re able to control the heat of each individual room separately that way, so you have a bit more control. But it will be expensive to run.
JOANNE: Mm-hmm. OK. So the best alternative would be to put in oil or something to bring a different kind of heat in.
TOM: Well, that’s right. If the fuel was available, you would be almost always better off with oil, propane or gas than electric.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to Massachusetts.
Jay, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?
JAY: Yeah. Hi, folks. Question is this. Got a college-age student who’ll be moving into, believe it or not, an unfinished basement. And I’m looking for any kinds of tips: heating, for example. I don’t see anything down there in the way of a heating system that’s conventional. And so that means bringing in, I think, space heaters, electric maybe. And I am somewhat concerned about safety. I want to make sure there are two exits. I’m not – I’m looking for an egress window; I’m not sure there is one there.
And then the second phase of my question would be the design. How does somebody make a place like that look cheery and livable?
TOM: Alright. Well, let’s take the safety and structural issues first. And I’ll tell you, as the dad of three college-age kids, I have seen it all when it comes to these spaces. And I’m very concerned about the fact that you found a space that appears to really not be designed to be a living space. You pointed out in your question that to be a safe basement-living space, it has to have a second egress, which is a door or a window that’s large enough to get out of. And there’s codes and standards that dictate what that is.
The fact that it has no heat down there, it’s going to be very cold and dank being in Massachusetts. And certainly, you don’t want your son to be uncomfortable in that space, so it is going to need some heat. And then, of course, it’s going to probably have to be electric heat and that’s going to add to the expense of the place.
In one case, I had – my son and his buddies thought it was a swell idea to rent a house that dear, old Dad, with a lifetime of home inspection experience, told him not to rent. Because I sensed something was wrong from the outside. And it turned out to be an absolute disaster, chock full of everything from asbestos insulation to old, live wiring dangling about, to oil tanks that were leaking in the basement. And I spent a good chunk of time that year dealing with the building-code official at the town, who was extremely cooperative and very helpful and very supportive in inspecting that place. Came up with a list as long as your arm of things that were wrong with it and they were fixed. But that was because I knew how to do that. And I wouldn’t want to see any parent have to dive into that.
So I would also be curious, in your part of the country there where he’s renting, what the regulations are. Because I know that a lot of these homeowners in these college towns are going to rent out any space they can find to try to make some extra money, regardless of whether it’s safe or not for the kids. So, I definitely would spend some more time digging into that.
I found that in the case of James Madison University, where two of my children went to school, that there’s sort of a feeding frenzy to find rental places about a month or so after school starts. And the realtors play one against the other to try to get kids to make decisions before they’ve even settled into their place. And this is where we had that horrible experience with a really lousy house that they had rented.
So, you never know what the kid’s going to get into. They’re making these decisions for the first time in their young-adult lives. They are taken advantage of, I think, by the landlords and by the real-estate community in a lot of cases. So, you are very wise to be concerned about this. And now would be the best time for you to dig in to find out if, in fact, it’s even legal to rent a basement in this particular building.
JAY: Yeah, I see. Any last advice about radon? That would be another concern of mine.
TOM: Well, that is a good question. And I certainly would ask if a radon test was done. But if not, you could do your own radon test. That would be worth the $30 or $40 investment. You could order a radon-testing canister online. It’s called an “adsorption canister.” It’s like a little can, about the size of tuna fish, that has charcoal in it. It’s exposed from, generally, 3 to 7 days in that basement space, sent back to the lab. There’ll be a postage-paid envelope in it. It’ll tell you what the level is. And if it turns out there’s a high radon level, then that’s even another reason not to live there.
JAY: Yikes. Yeah. It wasn’t done with my inspect – prior inspection.
TOM: I hear you.
JAY: It was (inaudible) what I learned about it.
TOM: I hear you. That’s what happened to us. We did a drive-by and he was – my son was considering a number of houses. And I told him I did not like that place. I saw some things – you know the phrase spidey sense? My spidey sense shot up and – because I saw some things that didn’t make sense from the outside and some things that I knew were indicative of other problems, like people that had tried all kinds of half-hearted ways to get water away from the house. To me it said wet basement, mold. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
When we opened up that basement – and a realtor would not let us back into the place until the beginning of the lease. But when we opened up the basement door from the outside, I smelled two things. I smelled dryer softener and I smelled diesel fuel. That was because the dryer was venting into the crawlspace, which was adjoining to the basement, and it had two leaking oil tanks in it. So, bingo right there. Wasn’t happy to find that and it took the whole year to get it sorted out.
JAY: Yikes. Wow. Word to the wise here.
JAY: Boy. If this thing happens to work, are there any design suggestions that you might offer to make a place like that more pleasant?
LESLIE: I mean there’s going to be a lot of stuff that you’re going to have to do to make that basement space livable first. So, I would say let’s find out what has to be done to make that space livable, if at all possible. And then, go ahead and send us some images or post the images on MoneyPit.com or on the Facebook page somewhere. Just get them to us so that we can take a look. And then I can help you really get a better sense of what you can do for that space. And I think you’ll have a better understanding of what your budget will be based on what you have to do to make it livable.
JAY: Oh, yeah. First things first.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the egress is going to be super important.
JAY: Yeah. I want something permanent there; not just a dresser or something that somebody could, in theory, scramble up on and scoot out the window.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, that’s not appropriate. It has to be …
LESLIE: No. And that’s not legal.
TOM: Exactly. I would make my first call to the building department. I would ask what’s a legal space for folks in that area to rent. You may get an answer very quickly that it’s not legal.
JAY: Oh, I see. Yeah. It’s a sticky wicket here.
TOM: Yeah. Well, it’ll certainly let him out of the lease, that’s for sure.
JAY: Sounds good. Thank you both. Appreciate your help.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
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LESLIE: Well, if you’re getting ready to spark up a toasty fire for the cooler months, you really need to first make sure that your chimney is safe.
So, first of all, guys, you have to have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney. And that chimney should be checked at least once a year. Or if you use the fireplace a lot, it should be once for every cord of wood that you burn. But you’ve got to be careful about choosing a chimney-sweep company. Unfortunately, chimney sweeps are notorious for recommending unnecessary repairs. And they even try to use some scare tactics to get you to spend more money than you actually need to.
Now, if the contractor recommends any expensive repair, definitely get a second opinion before you open your wallet. I’m not saying they’re going to do this every time. And sometimes, you may actually need that repair but it’s always better to make sure.
TOM: Absolutely. Now, during the season, aside from the chimney, it’s also important to keep that firebox clean. So you want to clean it at least once a week during the months that you use it, especially when that ash builds up. But be extremely careful where you put the coals and ash you take out of the firebox. Too many times, people will dump this outside near the house. And guess what happens next? The entire house catches on fire. It can stay hot for many days.
In fact, we were using the fire pit outside this summer and I was amazed. After one evening we had a pretty good burn going, we had a torrential storm that night. I mean torrential. There was no cover on the fire pit. And you know what? The next morning, that fire was still hot enough to restart. So it doesn’t cool off very quickly. You’ve got to make sure you store them away from your house.
LESLIE: You really have to be smart about it.
Now, also, before you make a fire, you want to open up the glass doors, you want to pull aside the screen curtains and then place the kindling – you know, your newspaper and the logs – inside. And be sure that that damper is open. Then, when you start the fire, start small. That initial heat is going to warm up the chimney and then that improves the draft as it heats up. So it will then pull all of that smoky air up and out of the chimney. But just don’t rush it.
TOM: Now, if you have a metal fireplace – the zero-clearance fireplace; that means those are the prefab ones that go sort of inserted into the wall – and you like to use wax logs? Don’t. Because on those fireplaces, there’s so much condensation that happens inside the vents to keep the fire cool that you’ll get this waxy deposit that’s really hard to clean.
Hey, if you’d like to learn more about how to clean your fireplace and your chimney and keep it safe for a roaring fire all season long, go to MoneyPit.com. We’ve got great tips and advice on how to do just that.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Hope from Illinois on the line who’s in a super-great mood about this project. What’s going on?
HOPE: The project is putting up a fence for our dogs in a pretty large area, at the back of the house, that borders the creek. And it’s a very high creek bank. Water rarely comes into the yard or anything. But just concerned about moisture and what the ground might be like underneath and if that should affect the material that we use for the fence.
TOM: What are you thinking about? What kind of fence are you leaning towards?
HOPE: Well, we’ve looked at everything from rolls of welded wire on posts or some sort of black, wrought-iron, low fencing. Something like 3 feet.
TOM: OK. So in either case, you’re going to have metal fence posts, not wood fence posts? Have you thought about wood fencing or are you just afraid of the water?
HOPE: Yeah, we have definitely thought of wood, as well. Yes.
TOM: OK. So, well …
HOPE: Something that won’t ruin our view.
TOM: Right. OK. Hey, now, that’s a great point. Because if you want something that’s almost invisible, the idea of the black fencing is definitely the way you want to go. If you have a black fence – I often see these around pools. Because people put pool fences around because they absolutely have to and should. They’re not only required but they’re just essential for safety. But let’s face it: you spend all that money on the pool, you don’t want to kind of just stare at a fence from your house or the street. But if you use black fencing, it’s almost invisible. It melts in with the background, so I think that that’s a really good choice if that is your goal.
In terms of the moisture, I really don’t think you have anything to be concerned about. If you were working with a wood fence or a wood post, I would tell you to put those posts in and don’t use any concrete. Just use stone aggregate – like a gray, driveway gravel kind of thing – because that drains. And the post is just as solid with the stone as it is, I’ve found, with concrete. But it drains very well and it’s really locked in place well.
Now, in terms of the metal posts, I’ve not put in – well, I put one metal fence post in around a large garden some years ago. And I think if I recall right, I used stone for that. But you’re going to have to check the manufacturer’s recommendation. You don’t have the same issues with rot. Most of those posts are aluminum. You just don’t want to make sure that the – you want to make sure that the post is not going to react with the concrete.
And if you do decide to go with concrete and the metal post, then I would use the QUIKRETE concrete product in the red bag, because you can pour it in dry and then kind of water the hole. So you don’t have to mix it up ahead of time. You basically pour it in dry and let it sit there and then just fill the water with – fill the hole with water. And a couple of hours later, you’re good to go.
HOPE: Well, thank you so much. And I listen to you every single week. I’ve learned so much from you guys.
TOM: Oh, well, thank you so much. Good luck with the new house and call us back anytime.
HOPE: Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, of all the appliances in your home, a furnace is certainly one that’s mission critical, especially if it goes out in the middle of the winter. But if that happens, is it ever worth repairing or is it better to replace it?
TOM: Well, I’d say it depends because some parts of a furnace are very easily replaced. But if the furnace is older and has a serious defect, like a crack in its heat exchanger – we talked about that earlier, because that basically means that you can get combustion gases into the house – then replacement is always the rule. But if you need a new blower or new belts, a new gas valve, those can easily be replaced.
LESLIE: Now, Tom, what if somebody’s goal in replacing a furnace is really to sort of save energy? How do you determine when it makes sense to replace just to lower your heating costs? And then what exactly are you looking for in that new model?
TOM: There’s always a case to be made for increased energy efficiency when you’re buying a newer model but you need to weigh all the factors: how much you spent on the old furnace, how much those utility bills were with the old system projected against what the monthly savings might be on a new one, and the increased expense of buying a super high-efficiency model versus an older one. Because sometimes, the high-efficiency ones are so much more expensive that the only way it’s going to make economic sense in the long run is in its 15th or 20th year. And if you’re not going to be in the house that long, then it doesn’t maybe make sense.
But the way you measure efficiency is with a system called AFUE. You’ll see this rating on the heating system. It stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency. And the minimum in the U.S. is 80 percent but the top-performing furnaces can be upwards of 97 percent. And what that means is only 3 percent of the energy escapes through the flue. So if you take all the energy that you’re combusting, like what’s coming off the gas burner, if you can take 97 percent of that and put it back into the house, then that’s super high-efficient. If you’re only taking 80 percent of that energy and putting it back into the house, then that’s just average.
So, that’s kind of the range and that’s how it’s determined. So it gives you sort of a way to have an apples-to-apples comparison.
LESLIE: Now, I think another thing, Tom, that people really get tied up about is the type of fuel source and the type of furnace that you’re having in your house or the system overall, I guess. So, if it’s time to replace a furnace, do you then think about changing the type of fuel or the whole system that you have? Or does that not really make any sense right now?
TOM: Well, it depends. Let’s say, for example, you had a home with an electric furnace, right? That’s the most expensive system. Maybe it was even a heat pump, which is OK in certain parts of the country. But maybe in your area, you’re spending a lot because it keeps bringing up the electric heat, which is built into that as sort of a backup system. And now, you have natural gas available at the street. Well, if that was me, I would be replacing that old electric heat-pump system with natural gas.
If you had an old oil system, for example, and you had an old oil tank and you finally are ready to get rid of that because, frankly, you may be afraid it’s going to leak and cause a big problem, then that might be a good reason to do it. It doesn’t always make for a compelling case but if you want to change fuels, those are the kinds of things I would be looking for. A really good reason to change those fuels might be if the older system prevents an environmental danger or possible contamination, or it’s just so inefficient you’re going to save a lot of money by doing so.
LESLIE: Alright. All good stuff to know.
You know, guys, now is probably a good time, if you find yourself sort of in that age range of your furnace, maybe start doing some research, just gathering some info. This way, you’re kind of ready and know what your options are and where you’re going to be should you have to replace that furnace this winter season.
Best audience. That’s what we say all the time. The Money Pit has the greatest listeners and we are so thankful. We’re so thankful that we’ve got a great prize to give away this hour. We’ve got a set of 6-inch and 10-inch Jorgensen Adjustable Handscrew Clamps.
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LESLIE: Lucy in Kansas is on the line and would like some help refinishing some cabinets. Tell us about your project.
LUCY: Yes. We have a home that is about 17 years old. I just moved here about three years ago. And we have solid-oak cabinets and the overall finish is just looking dull. It isn’t awfully bunged up or anything but there are areas, like along the upper edges of the drawers, where the color looks faded. And so, I don’t know what to use to clean them and I don’t know what to do to make them have some sheen.
TOM: A couple of things. First of all, you can clean them with Murphy’s Oil Soap; that’s a good, mild soap for cleaning any kind of wood surfaces, including floors and cabinets. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is you can – if it’s just the finish that’s kind of worn a little bit, you can take those doors off, take the drawers out and lightly sand them and then put another coat of urethane on it. You’re probably going to want to use a satin urethane but make sure you sand them first. And use an oil-based, satin urethane. I would not use water-base.
LUCY: I see.
TOM: Even though it’s easier to use, it’s not as durable. So, use the oil-based urethane. And I would try it on maybe one drawer front or someplace that’s the least obvious in your kitchen, just to make sure you like the way it came out. And then go ahead and do the rest.
LUCY: Mm-hmm. OK. I think that’ll just fix us right up.
TOM: I think so. Lucy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, fall is fully underway and it’s the perfect time to organize your garage. That’s right, I said it. Get out there. Get in that behemoth mess that you call your garage and let’s get them organized together.
So, first step, guys, you really need to take stock of what you have in your garage and what you need to be storing away for the cooler months. You have a lot of bicycles. Are you going to use them in the fall and winter? Do they take up a lot of space? Is there a ton of sports equipment? Are we now done with some and ready to move onto the others? What about folding chairs for the beach or the lake? These are all of the things that you’ve got to say, “I’m going to put these to the back and get the stuff I need more towards the front.”
And the best way to really store a lot of those items is up. So you want to look into suspended shelves that are going to keep off-season items out of the way. And then it’s going to free up that valuable floor space. Or you can consider hanging those items from hooks on the wall, as well.
TOM: Now, if you guys have got kids like us, it’s also a good time to go through all of the gear to kind of see what you can toss or donate. I mean we always had a ton of baseball gloves that didn’t fit or skateboards or those scooters, stuff like that, old helmets. Whatever you have that they’re no longer using, it’s a great time to donate that because so many folks can’t afford those sorts of products. They’re luxury items. Donate them to Goodwill or wherever in your area there’s a collection point, to give somebody else a chance to use them.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s so smart. We always do – there’s a local community page on Facebook that we’ll all post like, “Hey, I’m giving away a scooter or a bike.” And it’s so nice when you can find somebody that really needs the item and it’s going to go to good use.
Now, next up, guys, all of your lawn-and-garden equipment. And I know you’ve got a lot of it, so let’s try to keep that organized in the garage, as well. It really is a good time to get garden tools clean, organize them. And then maybe put them up even on a peg board. You can keep rakes and other fall tools handy. And it’s a good time to get your snow shovels and your snow blowers ready to use. I know I said the snow word but it’s happening, guys. It’s going to come our way sooner or later.
TOM: The thing about garages is it’s the one place where people store toys and tools and toxins, right, next to each other. So you’ve got the toys, you’ve got the tools, you’ve got the lawn chemicals and the paint thinners. All that sort of stuff is in the same space. So you’ve got to be conscious of that and make sure you take this opportunity to get anything that’s unsafe for the kids up in a high area, locked away so they can’t get their hands into it.
And all in all, it’s going to be a great start to the fall season when you have a clean, sparkling, organized garage in which to enjoy it.
LESLIE: For now.
TOM: Until the spring. And then we’ll have this conversation again.
You can reach out to us by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question at MoneyPit.com.
And now that we are moving into the fall, Leslie, Mike in Texas has a very timely question, considering that we’re going into the fire season.
LESLIE: That’s right. So, Mike writes us. He says, “My smoke detectors are more than 10 years old.” He says, “They do work when I push the test button but do they need to be upgraded? Is there newer or better technology available?”
TOM: Yes. I think that if your smoke detectors are more than 5 years old, Mike, you should be replacing them. You have to remember you think it’s working only when you push the test button but truth be told, it’s sampling the air all the time. You know, it goes through millions of cycles every year. And so, I think that there is a wear point there and it is just smart to replace them.
In terms of technology, two things come to mind, Leslie. First, the dual-detection technology. So, you can have smoky fires or you can have flash fires. There’s two different types: the ionic detectors and there’s the photoelectric detectors. Each are designed to identify one type of fire. But the dual-technology detectors will cover both. So that’s one upgrade.
And the other one is this. So many fires are caused by folks that don’t put batteries in their detectors or forget to put batteries in their detectors or don’t test it. Well, today, most of the detectors are 10-year detectors with a 10-year battery. So, it becomes more of a throwaway appliance, mind you, after a decade.
So, buy a 10-year detector. Put it up. And when it beeps, it’s going to be 10 years in the future and you’ll know it’s time to throw it away, because the batteries are not replaceable. They’re not all that much more expensive and it really makes a lot of sense.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Leonard in Massachusetts. Now, he writes: “Our home was built in 1941 and we bought it in 1982. During that time, the surface of the sheetrock on all of our interior walls has gone from acceptable to looking like alligator skin. Is there some way to correct or cover this problem without wallpapering the whole house or worse yet, installing new sheetrock in every room?”
TOM: So, Leonard, first off, if your home was built in 1941, it does not have sheetrock or more generically called, “drywall.” That is a plaster wall. But it’s not plaster on the old wood sticks like you saw in the early 1900s houses. It’s plaster on top of a type of a gypsum panel. It’s actually very good-quality wall construction.
Now, as to your alligatoring (ph) problem with the paint. Over the years, when you keep putting more and more and more layers of paint on the wall, eventually the bond between the paint the wall fails. So, unfortunately, the only fix for this is to strip that paint. So in these rooms where you have the alligatoring (ph), you have to strip all that paint off. And once it’s off, you can reprime the walls and start again.
If that, to you, is more work than covering the walls, by all means you can cover them with a 3/8-inch-thick layer of true drywall. But I’ll tell you what, that wall is not going to be as nice and solid as it is today once you do that.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, Leonard? Don’t put down wallpaper. Wallpaper is gorgeous. If you definitely are interested in wallpaper, give us a call back. I’ll talk you through some great design options and how to install it.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. And welcome to the fall season. It’s my favorite time of the year. Not only is it absolutely beautiful outside but it’s the perfect season to take on projects inside and outside your house.
I look for extra projects this time of year, Leslie. My buddy called me last night and said he wanted to put up garage shelves. I’m like, “I’m in. Let’s go do it,” you know?
LESLIE: You’re like, “Count me in. I’m doing it.”
TOM: Yeah, absolutely.
So, if you’ve got projects on your to-do list and you need some help, you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT any time of the day or night. We will call you back the next time we are in the studio. But for now, that’s all the time we have. The show does continue online, though.
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.)