In This Episode…
Fall may not be the season for planting a new garden but it is definitely the season for planting new trees and bushes – and that’s a project we’re taking on here at The Money Pit to keep the deer away from the apparently very tasty bushes we have now. We share tips on why this is the best option for a deer-resistant landscape and how to make sure the job is a success. Plus…
- Do cracks in the walls on your home mean you’re headed toward an expensive repair? We’ll share how to know plus a hack to fix plaster cracks so they won’t open again.
- As the chilly drafts start to find their way to your home, did you know that one type of window coverings can actually help to “warm up” your windows? We’ll walk you through that toasty option.
- We’re really excited today to launch a new sweepstakes with the folks at RiverbendHome.com. It’s called the Riverbend Home Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes and we are giving away $3,500 in bath products from brands like American Standard and Grohe, all available Riverbend Home.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And welcome to the program. Do you have a project that you’d like to get done? Well, we’re here to help you do just that. Just pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT with your how-to questions or post them, any time of the day or night, at MoneyPit.com.
If you’ve got something you want to get done before the holidays arrive, give us a chance to help. The number, again: 888-666-3974. We’re sort of your how-to coaches. We’re your DIY guides. If we don’t think you should do it yourself, we’ll tell you to get somebody to help. But we’ll tell you how to do it so it gets done once, gets done right and you don’t have to do it again. Because let’s face it: we’ve all got some level of money pit to us. It is a term of endearment. It’s something that we love, it’s something that we live in, it’s something that we enjoy every day and we’re going to help you take care of it.
Coming up on today’s show, fall may not be the season for planting a new garden but hey, it’s definitely the season for planting new trees and bushes. And that’s a project that I am actually getting ready to take on, because I’m giving up trying to keep the deer away from the apparently very tasty bushes that we have now.
LESLIE: Oh, they love it. And the best is that they’ll only eat up to a certain part, which they can’t reach?
TOM: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
LESLIE: So then your trees all end up looking like these weird lollipops.
TOM: I have a lollipop holly tree. I’m thinking that maybe I could decorate it for the holidays.
No, actually, we have a hedge line that was a Manhattan Euonymus. That’s that green Euonymus bush? And it looked good, you know, for the first couple of years but man, the deer really have attacked it. So I’m switching out to the very deer-resistant Green Giant arborvitae. I just got a shipment of beautiful, healthy and most importantly, deer-proof Green Giant arborvitaes from FastGrowingTrees.com. And I really can’t wait to get them planted.
I’m going to share the details of the project and a promo code that you guys can use for a big discount and some other fall-landscaping ideas perfect for the cooler weather.
LESLIE: And also ahead, do cracks in the walls on your home mean that you’re headed toward an expensive repair? Well, not usually. Now, cracks in walls or around the doors and windows rarely mean an expensive fix is ahead. But getting those cracks fixed so they don’t happen again does take a few tricks of the trade. We’re going to share those, in just a bit.
TOM: Plus, as the chilly drafts start to find their way into your home, did you know that one type of window covering can actually help you warm up your windows? We’ll talk you through that toasty option.
LESLIE: And we’re really excited today to launch a new sweepstakes with the folks at RiverbendHome.com. It’s called the RiverbendHome.com Beautiful Bath Giveaway. And we’re giving away $3,500 in bath products from brands like American Standard and Grohe. It’s all available at RiverbendHome.com. Check out the giveaway at MoneyPit.com/Giveaway.
TOM: But first, we’d really like to hear from you. What are your fall-project plans? Call the show, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to MoneyPit.com. You’ll get the answer, plus we’ve got a set of 6-inch, 12-inch and 24-inch Steel Bar Clamps from Pony Jorgensen to give away to one listener drawn at random. They’re perfect for DIYers, crafters and pros alike. So give us a call right now. Let’s get started, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Sherry in Georgia is on the line and dealing with a basement crack in the wall. Tell us what’s going on. Is it in cinder block? Is it in your foundation wall? Where do you see this?
SHERRY: It’s in the wall of the foundation. It’s poured cement. And just recently, I noticed that there is a – not a straight but kind of a curved crack. And it looks like maybe a little bit of dust or water has come through it.
TOM: OK. Sherry, is it a vertical crack or is it a horizontal crack?
SHERRY: Kind of vertical but it kind of curves.
TOM: OK. And it’s a poured concrete foundation, so has the crack always been there or is it something that’s very recent?
SHERRY: It’s not actually in the floor; it’s in the wall. It’s actually a basement wall and yes, it’s poured.
TOM: Right. Has it always been there or is it something that just recently popped up?
SHERRY: I think it’s pretty recent. I don’t remember seeing it before.
TOM: Well, cracks in foundation walls are really pretty typical and that includes poured concrete walls – poured foundation walls. So what I would do is not panic. If it’s a minor crack like that, I would simply seal it with a masonry caulk or a silicone caulk. And all you’re doing is really keeping the water from the outside ground from kind of leaking back through the wall. But a minor crack like that is generally caused by a little bit of shift in the foundation, perhaps some settlement or some shrinkage in the wall itself.
So are we talking about a hairline crack here, I presume?
SHERRY: Yeah, it’s a very – yes, it’s very, very thin but it looks like something has seeped through that I guess that’s what worried me the most.
TOM: Right. It might be water. And what happens – when you get ground water that gets through and then it evaporates, it leaves its mineral salts behind and that might be the dust that you’re seeing. It’s sort of like a whitish/grayish dust and that’s the minerals in the water when it leaks through and then evaporates.
SHERRY: Oh, OK.
TOM: So just sweep that out before you put the caulk in and I think that’s all you need to do right now.
SHERRY: Well, thank you for the advice. I really appreciate it.
TOM: OK, Sherry. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rick in Pennsylvania who needs some help getting candle wax out of a wood deck. So was it an awesome party?
RICK: No, it was just a silly mistake. I was actually carrying a citronella candle and I dropped it and it splashed back on myself and the deck.
LESLIE: Well, are you OK?
RICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah, this was a couple weeks ago. I wasn’t. Wax all over me, in my eyes and it was not pleasant.
LESLIE: Oh, what a mess.
TOM: Oh, man. That was a mess.
TOM: Alright. So, it splashed all over the wood deck. It’s soaking into the wood, I presume?
RICK: Yeah, I scraped off what I could but a lot of it did go into the deck. It’s a brand-new deck and I did not seal it or stain it or anything. I was letting the wood dry.
TOM: Well, there is a trick of the trade for pulling wax out of wood that you could give a shot to.
LESLIE: Pulling wax out of anything.
TOM: Really anything, yeah.
LESLIE: If you get wax on fabric, a tablecloth, on your clothing, this is the way to get rid of it.
TOM: So what you’re going to want to do is get a clothes iron and a paper bag. And you put the paper bag over the deck and then you put the hot iron on top of the paper bag.
LESLIE: No steam. Just a hot iron.
TOM: Just a hot iron. And what it does is it melts the wax and it soaks up into the paper bag.
LESLIE: Yeah, somehow it magically sticks to the paper bag but not to anything else.
TOM: It sort of blots up, yeah. But just make sure it’s a paper bag and not a plastic bag or you’ll get the opposite result.
RICK: Right, right.
TOM: You’ll be calling for a bigger problem.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it can be a grocery-store bag or a lunch sack or a shopping bag. Like any kind of brown bag.
RICK: OK. And just melt it? I mean it’ll suck right up into the bag. Alright.
TOM: Now, I suspect that once you do that and you wait another season or so before you’re ready to stain or treat the deck, I would just wire-brush that area right over the – where the wax soaked in, before you stain. And I think it’ll just go right in there; I don’t think it’s going to block the stain. Those two tricks will help. OK?
RICK: I was kind of worried about that but yeah, well, great. I appreciate you guys helping me out.
TOM: You’re welcome, Rick. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you know, fall is a great time to refresh your bathroom or kitchen. With the holidays coming and people spending even more time at home, investing in those hardworking rooms in the house really makes sense.
TOM: Yep. And that’s one reason we are excited to announce a new sweepstakes today with RiverbendHome.com. It’s called the Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes. And RiverbendHome.com has partnered with some great brands – American Standard and Grohe – to provide $3,500 worth of bath products, including some really beautiful fixtures, faucets and lots more.
LESLIE: Now, when you’re making a beautiful bathroom in your home, it’s really got to do a bunch of things. It’s got to match your needs and any sort of safety and efficiency and sustainability goals you might want to have in this space. But it also has to be beautiful and match your design style. And Riverbend Home can help. Whether it’s a quick bathroom DIY update or an investment in a luxury bath makeover, American Standard and Grohe have quality products for every style and price range.
TOM: So, enter the Riverbend Home Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes today at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. And even share your entry with your friends on social to earn even more bonus entries. Again, that’s MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes to enter.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elizabeth in Idaho who’s dealing with some siding that’s coming apart. Tell us about it.
ELIZABETH: So I have a 1970-built house and with composite siding on the entire house. But on the west side – where it gets most of the weather, the heat and the rain and wind and so forth – the horizontal siding has split where the siding joins themselves and has spread open as much as a ¼- to ½-inch.
TOM: Was it just in one area or is it all over the place?
ELIZABETH: It’s mostly on the west side of the house that gets the brunt of the weather.
TOM: OK. So many places it’s coming apart or just a couple of places?
ELIZABETH: Quite a few, quite a few. I’d say 10 places on the back of the house.
TOM: I would caulk the seams. If it’s ¼- to ½-inch, I would caulk it. I would get caulk that’s colored to match the siding and I would apply a bead of caulk. Because the other thing to do, of course, is to put new siding in. You would have to cut out the old siding and overlap that space and then paint it and it’s a really big project. So, I would caulk it and call it a day.
ELIZABETH: OK. We have tried that and we’ve used a product – is it OK if I say the name of the product?
ELIZABETH: It’s DAP – D-A-P.
ELIZABETH: And we used DAP DYNAFLEX 230. And we’ve also tried DAP ALEX PLUS. And after we put that in, we went out to look at it after about two or three days and then the – that area has just gone concave. So it’s just sunk into the siding, so it leaves a big, concave area where it was once just a crack.
Now, can we put something over that? Should we just keep putting layers on?
TOM: I think there’s a misunderstanding with what you’re trying to accomplish here, OK? What we want to do is keep the moisture from getting in there. And when you caulk, yes, it is going to dry and it’s going to shrink and actually sort of fill in very tightly any gap that you have there. You’re not using a wood filler, OK? You’re using a caulk.
And so I would not worry about small, concave gaps like that in between the caulk; that’s what I would expect it to do. Doing that, if you want to paint it over so it’s all the same color, you can probably blend it in more. But that is exactly what it should be doing.
ELIZABETH: Alright. Well, it’s just kind of unsightly where it comes together; it’s just a big, concave area. But it looks better than the crack, so …
TOM: Let’s hope that’s the biggest problem you ever have with your house, OK?
ELIZABETH: I hope so.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
So, Leslie, as you know, I have a very old house. It’s about 130 years old. And when Sue and I bought the house way back – I don’t know, 25 years ago or so – a few years into that we planted a line of bushes. We planted Manhattan Euonymus bushes. We wanted them to kind of grow thick and give us a little bit of separation from the road. And apparently, ever since then I’ve been feeding deer more than getting beautiful bushes.
My deer around our yard just love the leaves on these bushes. And I’ve put on deer-resistant sprays and I’ve tried old tricks of the trade like Irish Spring soap hanging from the branches. And look, some of it works for a little while, some of it doesn’t work at all but the deer just keep coming. So we decided that this was the year – this fall, right now – we’re going to basically cry uncle and cut everything out and replace it all with deer-resistant shrubs.
So I went to FastGrowingTrees.com, which is a site I recently learned about. They’re actually the world’s largest online nursery and they are amazing. They have every conceivable variety of tree or shrub you can imagine. They’ve got shade trees, they’ve got beautiful bushes, they’ve got fruit trees. An amazing amount. And they ship them right to your door in just a couple of days.
So, we ordered Green Giant arborvitaes because they’re deer-proof. And I found not one variety but three of them. They have different sizes of these arborvitaes. And the whole order came within just 2, 3 days, something like that. It wasn’t long at all. And we are now in the process of getting those planted.
So, so happy with the site. I asked them if I could tell you guys about it and they agreed and offered us a promo code if you’d like to use it for some trees or shrubs around your house. So to get the promo, you just go to FastGrowingTrees.com/MoneyPit and they’ll give you 10 percent off. Their prices are already low, so this is a really great deal. That promo code is simply FastGrowingTrees.com/MoneyPit. It’ll automatically take an additional 10 percent off. Check it out and let us know what you think.
LESLIE: Laura is up next with a lot of erosion going on at her money pit. Tell us what’s going on.
LAURA: Our yard slopes downward from the front to the back, probably close to – well, it’s a pretty good angle. I don’t actually know it’s 45 degrees. But when we have a hard rain, the rain comes off of the roadway and just a river flows down the back to the back corner of the house.
LAURA: And we’re seeing trees – like the roots. Real bad erosion. And I was wondering, what’s the best type of, I guess – I don’t know – like a retaining-type wall? Or is a flower bed – like a large flower bed – something to stop the flow? Or just a natural – like if we put bushes down – what’s the best would you suggest to (inaudible) that erosion to stop.
TOM: Well, the best thing to do is to interrupt that flow by catching the runoff and running it around the house. And an easy way to do that is with something called a “curtain drain.”
Now, a curtain drain is dug into that sloped area at some point and I can’t tell you where; it depends on how the soil is sloped and shaped that makes the most sense. But basically, think of it this way: it’s a trench that you would dig in front of the house where all the water is collecting.
And that trench, in it you would lay a perforated pipe. And the idea is that the trench has about 4 inches of stone, then it’s got a pipe. Stone continues to move up around the pipe and then a little more stone on top. And you put a piece of filter cloth and then you landscape over it or put dirt and grass over it, so you don’t see it when it’s done. But conceptually, the water shoots down the hill, falls into that invisible trench now, fills up the pipe and then runs out the other end of the pipe – the low end of the pipe – somewhere to daylight.
So, to do this, you need to be able to get the pipe in place and then have the end of it run out somewhere where you want to dump that water. Does that sound like it’s possible with your yard, the way it’s configured?
LAURA: Yeah. No, that’s very doable. I didn’t know they make stuff like that. So, no, that’s very doable.
TOM: Well, it’s kind of like – you know, it’s not like you can go to the curtain-drain aisle at the local home center. You have to kind of build it yourself but it’s a very common technique called a “curtain drain” or a “footer drain.” So take a look at that and you can find instructions on MoneyPit.com.
LAURA: Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Laura. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joseph on the line with an electrical question. What’s going on at your money pit?
JOSEPH: I’ve got an older house. It was built in the 1940s and my daughter’s nursery, the overhead fan and lights work but none of the sockets in the room function. And I have no breakers that have tripped.
TOM: So, somewhere, those sockets are disconnected. Now, are you sure the sockets are not connected to a light switch?
JOSEPH: I am 99-percent positive, sir.
TOM: There’s a seed of a doubt there that perhaps they could be. Sometimes the light – the outlets are operated by a light switch. But I would say that it’s not normal for that to happen in a 1940s house.
But what you need to do is this – and when I say you need to do, more accurately an electrician needs to do. You’ve got to get into the wiring that’s supplying those outlets and try to figure out why it’s disconnected. I can’t imagine a reason it would have been physically disconnected, which means it’s most likely some failure in the wiring of the outlets themselves. But if you open up the outlets, you can see if you have hot wires there and try to figure out at what point they became de-energized. Because they are probably wired in series, so the wiring goes from one to the next to the next. And you need to do a little bit more investigation to figure out why that is.
But it’s really not a do-it-yourself project. I don’t want you to make a mistake and I don’t want you to get electrocuted.
JOSEPH: Yes, sir. Then I will definitely look at calling an electrician.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Deb in Missouri on the line who needs help with a flooring question. How can we help you?
DEB: Yes. Well, we replaced our flooring but we destroyed most of the molding trying to get it off the – along the mopboard.
DEB: And we were wondering, what’s the best way to put new on? What would be the best to use? The walls are all plaster. It looked like the nails had been set before the plaster was dry, because we had to cut them off.
TOM: And so how high up the walls did the molding go? Because usually with plaster walls, the molding is a lot taller than a standard 3½-inch base molding.
DEB: It’s 3½ inches.
TOM: It is 3½ inches?
DEB: Yes. But we could go a wee bit higher and it still look nice.
TOM: Right. OK. Do you want the molding to be painted or natural?
DEB: Well, I don’t think we’ll ever match the doors. It’s all wood and I don’t think we’d ever match that.
TOM: OK. So do you want the molding to be painted, then?
DEB: Yes. We’ll probably go painted, yes. But adhering it to the walls is going to be a real pain because of that plaster.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah. Well, you’re going to do it with a combination of trim screws and LIQUID NAILS. So you’re not going to nail it, OK?
What you’re going to do is – probably the least expensive thing to buy is something called “finger-joint Colonial baseboard molding.” It’s a very straightforward molding with a little bit of a fluted edge on top. It looks nice; it looks finished.
Is it – does the thickness matter? Does it have to be a certain thickness to cover a gap between the wall and the floor?
DEB: At least a ¼-inch, yes.
TOM: Quarter-inch? OK. So all you’re going to need is the molding then. Because you could put the molding and then shoe molding over that, which would extend it out to almost an inch. But no, you’re going to buy finger-joint baseboard molding. Finger-joint means it’s ready for paint.
Now, before you apply it to the walls, I would prime it so it’s a lot easier to paint this molding. In fact, I would prime it and I’d put one finish coat of paint on it, because it’s a lot easier to paint it when it’s up on some sawhorses than when it’s attached to your house.
And then when it comes to installation, you’re going to – and you know what? You might want to get a carpenter that knows how to do this because, frankly, it’s just a lot easier if you know how to make a corner joint, which is called a “coped joint.” And you do it with a coping saw.
But the way you attach it is with – after it’s all cut to fit, you apply some LIQUID NAILS to the back of the molding and then you put in only as many trim screws – and trim screws are kind of like drywall screws except they have a really tiny head, like a finish nail. But you only put enough of those in to hold it while it’s drying. So you’re not going to have nearly as many trim screws as you will nails. And it’ll be really solid.
And the last thing you do is fill those holes. And you put one finish coat of paint on when – and then you’re completely done. So by putting the paint on ahead of time, you’re halfway there. All you do is touch it up, fill the holes, one more coat of paint, you’re good to go. OK?
DEB: Awesome. Thank you so very much.
TOM: Deb, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, long before we had walls made of drywall, plaster was the material of choice for wall and ceiling construction. But often, older homes settle and that’s going to allow cracks to form in that plaster.
Now, if you just go ahead and paint over those cracks, you’re not going to solve anything. And then if you think about tearing off all of that plaster to redo it, that’s going to be time-consuming and expensive. But there is really only one correct way to make repairs to plaster walls that’s going to last and look good.
TOM: Yeah. So, let’s just start by describing how plaster walls are constructed. They’re basically – they basically start with – think of it as studs, like you would have in a traditional modern wall except these are very old and beefy studs. And on top of that, they put little strips of wood call “lath” or more commonly known as “tomato stakes.” That’s what you would see them as today, right? They’re like slats of wood that are nailed all over this studded wall.
And then once that’s in place, they would basically trowel on wet plaster. And the plaster would sort of get soaked into that lath. It would kind of get behind it. It would hold onto it and that’s how you got this beautiful solid wall, which was great. But let’s face it: 100 years later, you get plenty of cracks in there.
So how do you fix those without having to tear the whole thing out? Well, there’s a bit of a trick of the trade to this and it starts with something called a “plaster adhesive kit.” So, this is a kit you can order online. And what you want to do is take a masonry bit and you drill holes on either side of the crack, just into the plaster. And the reason you’re using a masonry bit is not because you’re drilling through plaster but because it won’t pierce the wood behind it, because you don’t want that to happen. You just want this to go in the depth of the plaster, which is probably around an inch.
Now, once you do that, you vacuum out those holes. And here’s where the kit comes in. They’re going to include in that something called a “conditioning spray,” which is a spray bottle with a nozzle. And you squirt some of this stuff into the hole. You wipe off the excess. And once you do all that, then you’re going to apply adhesive that comes in a tube, that’s kind of similar to a caulking tube. One squeeze in each hole gets that glue between the plaster and the wood lath that it’s separated from.
And the last step is to pull the plaster tight against that wood lath using screws and plaster washers, which are like – kind of like a fender washer but it’s designed for plaster. So it’s a really wide washer with a small hole in it. You put the screw right through the hole, you drill and then it pulls the plaster – the loose plaster – against the lath. And you leave it there for a couple of days so that the glue can dry. Then you take off those washers and then you go ahead and spackle the holes like you would any other hole, prime it, paint it. You’re totally good to go and it will not ever pull out again.
So that’s the process for permanently fixing a crack in plaster. Too many people will just sort of tolerate it. Not only can it be ugly, if you have cracked plaster on the ceiling and it separates completely from the lath and falls, it’s heavy stuff. It’s like a chunk of concrete coming down. So if you’ve got that loose, cracked plaster, take the time to fix it. It is really not hard. It is very much a do-it-yourself project. And you’ll be a lot safer and your home will be more attractive as a result.
And what is on your fall list this weekend, my friend?
LESLIE: There’s so many things I want to do. I definitely still have got to take that pool down and then fix the grass, because that yard is an absolute disaster. And I ordered some new bedroom furniture for my older son. Because with the homeschooling, the hybrid format – and he kind of needs a preteen room to do his middle-school work in.
TOM: Yeah. His own space, right? Yeah. Yeah.
LESLIE: So, we’ve been going through all of his things. I mean he has a tremendous amount of nonsense in that room, as every 12-year-old boy probably does. So it’s been a lot of cleaning, a lot of organizing. Now I’m prepping the walls. We’re going to paint. And I’m even doing – he kind of wants to make a super-cool skateboarder’s room and he wants to do some graffiti. So I found a great image of graffiti art that kind of felt very skateboard-y, sort of SoCal. And I had it printed on sticky-back vinyl, so I’m going to do one wall in this sort of graffiti print.
TOM: Oh, cool.
LESLIE: So I’ve got a few weeks before the furniture arrives. Because apparently, every person was buying a desk across the country. And so, we’ve been waiting two months.
TOM: Now, will you be able to remove that sticky-back, very cool skateboard art when he decides that he’s outgrown a skateboard?
LESLIE: I do. So when I order it, I get the – you know, it’s not the permanent adhesive. It’s sort of – it’s not a light tack, either. You’re going to put it up and it’s going to stay; it’s not going to sort of roll back.
LESLIE: But when you want to take it off, it’s not going to damage the wall.
TOM: Hey, guys, if you’re DIYer or a pro, we’ve got a fantastic set of products we’re giving away today to one listener. It’s a set of 6-inch, 12-inch and 24-inch Jorgensen Bar Clamps worth 90 bucks.
These steel bar clamps are seriously strong and they’ve got cast-iron heads, a high-carbon, rust-resistant steel bar. And the sliding head has got fast-acting, multiple-disc clutch design. And that means it’s easy to put on and put off. It’s got a large, easy-grip handle and a swivel pad.
It’s worth about 90 bucks for all these clamps. This package is going out to one listener drawn at random. If you’d like that to be you, you’ve got to do one thing – well, one of two things. You can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, 888-666-3974. Or you can post your question at MoneyPit.com. And remember, if we’re not in when you call, we’ll call you back the next time we are. And all calls that come in over the next week will be eligible for this giveaway.
Again, that number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to MoneyPit.com. That $90 set of Pony Jorgensen Clamps is going out to one listener drawn at random.
LESLIE: Rob in Washington is on the line and is dealing with some flooding. Tell us what’s going on.
ROB: Well, I own a 1-acre lot and I’m surrounded by 58 acres of green belt. And my house sits up in the front of the lot and I have a cement driveway that runs down into a 1,200-square-foot shop. And every time it rains here in Seattle, which is every other day …
TOM: Yeah, frequently.
ROB: And at daylight savings, we get an extra hour of rain. But I get – my shop floods and I need to know what kind of drain system I can put in in front of my shop. The cement is maybe 14, 16 feet wide.
TOM: So basically, Rob, what is happening is the water is running down the cement driveway and into the shop. Is that the main source of the water? What you need to do is to put a culvert across the driveway.
So the way that works is you, essentially, cut the driveway in half; you slice out a gap in the driveway. And it might be 8 or 12 inches wide.
ROB: How close to the shop, though?
TOM: I would go probably a few feet in front of it. I wouldn’t go too far away.
TOM: Because that just gives you more water – more sidewalk to collect sort of in front of it. So I would go fairly close to it. And then you basically cut the driveway in half and you drop this culvert in, which is sort of like a U-shaped channel. And then on the opposite end of it, it’s attached to a drain line, which would go to a curtain drain.
So the water would go down the garage, it would fall into this culvert. And you can buy these or order these at building-material supply centers that service masons. And people that do more commercial-type work can be able to find these premade. And the drain tile – the drainpipe – will connect to the culvert so the water would go out to this drain line and then you go into a curtain drain.
So the curtain drain you’d make yourself. And again, on the downside of the property, you’d carve out an area about 12 to 18 inches wide and deep, fill it with stone, lay the drainpipe in there, cover it with more stone, put some filter cloth and then some topsoil or whatever you’re going to cover it with.
So, essentially, the drainage for this is invisible once it’s done but you’re intercepting that runoff down the driveway and running it around the building and into the drain tile. And that pipe that you install there must be perforated. And I would recommend using solid-PVC perforated pipe, not the flexible, black, landscaping perforated pipe.
ROB: OK. Thank you, guys.
LESLIE: Well, with fall comes the start of the season of chilly drafts, right? Well, having good energy-efficient windows can obviously help cut down on those drafts. But for those that sneak through anyhow, your window coverings can also play a role in making you feel more comfortable.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right and here’s why. Not only do you feel cold because outside air sneaks in, sometimes what you call a “draft” is really just caused by convection. As that warm air inside your house hits the cold glass of the window, it’s chilled and then it falls downward, causing what many folks think are drafts.
LESLIE: Now, one of the best solutions is also one of the simplest and it’s cellular shades. As it gets colder, these unique, pocketed shades are going to actually help to insulate the home by trapping that frosty air at the window.
Now, you can choose between a single, double or even triple cell to pick the right level of insulation that you need for your window. In the summer, these same shades can actually cut back on the heat that comes into your home by almost half. And that’s going to save you money on your cooling costs, as well.
TOM: And you can also combine the cellular shades with drapes or curtains that’ll give you an even stronger barrier against the cold. And remember, warm sun shines in from the south and the west. So when it comes to adding layers, windows facing north and east should be your priority. Those are going to be the coldest and will likely be the source of most of your discomfort.
LESLIE: Well, alright. Dave from Michigan posted a question on MoneyPit.com. Now, he writes: “Would you recommend the product DRYLOK to stop water leaking through cinder-block basement walls during heavy rainstorms?”
TOM: Hmm. How do I answer this? I would say no and maybe.
TOM: So here’s why. If your basement walls are leaking, Dave, after a heavy rain, DRYLOK is only a small part of the solution. Basements that leak after big rainstorms or even melting snow are doing so because there’s something wrong with their outside drainage. Their gutters are clogged, they’re discharging too close to the house, the soil around the house has settled in, now tilting sort of towards the foundation. And once that happens, any rainfall or snowmelt is going to soak into that area and end up coming through the walls or up through the basement floor. And DRYLOK is not going to stop that leak.
What really should be used is sort of – I think the very last step, Leslie – it’s going to stop the normal soil humidity from getting through.
LESLIE: Right. The condensation and stuff.
TOM: Yeah. And the concrete wall – I mean the cinder-block walls are very absorbative. They’re hydroscopic, so you do get moisture in that wall just naturally wick its way in. But if you get a lot of water, it’s not going to stop a huge flood. Your house is never going to float, no matter how much of that stuff you put on.
You’ve got to fix the drainage problems first, maybe even add a dehumidifier to that space. And then the last thing you might want to do is paint the walls with DRYLOK. That will stop, as we said, some of that humidity from forming. But it’s not the one-step solution to solving a wet basement.
LESLIE: Alright. Hope that helps you.
Now, we’ve got another post here from Brandy who writes: “Are all wood cabinets worth the extra cost compared to wood fronts and MDF for the box?”
TOM: Well, I think the answer is: it depends. You can get a very good-quality cabinet with an MDF, which stands for medium-density fiberboard, for boxes that can last, actually, a long time.
Your best bet, I think, Brandy, is to shop the cabinet quality over the materials. I wouldn’t discount cabinets just because the box is MDF. There are lots of different types, all with their own price points. You know, custom cabinets are going to be really expensive but semi-custom are good for more discriminating tastes and deeper pockets. You can get any style configuration or finish as long as it’s in the manufacturer’s catalog.
And listen, there’s nothing wrong with stock cabinets today. They are fantastic for tight budgets. There are more styles and colors available than ever before. You can get them quickly. The box stores have them. IKEA has great cabinets. I’ve got some IKEA cabinets in my office. They’ve been in there for over a decade and they’re beautiful. And they’re solid; they’re not going to wear out.
So, I think that you shouldn’t be looking – worry so much about whether or not it’s MDF, in terms of construction. Just find the cabinet you want and go from there.
LESLIE: Alright. Brandy, good luck with that project. It sounds like your kitchen is going to get a well-needed makeover for the holiday season.
TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. We’re so glad that you have. We’re here, 24/7, to help you with your home improvement projects, your DIY dilemmas. If you need some ideas or inspiration, you can get those by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT or please visit our website at MoneyPit.com.
For today, that’s all the time we have. 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.)