In this episode…
Are the leaves beginning to pile up around your home, do you dread all the raking and leaf cleanup? We’ve got tips to speed up your leaf removal so you can get back to enjoying the beautiful weather.
It’s fireplace season, which means getting your chimney cleaned is a job that’s needed. But unfortunately, it can also lead to chimney contractors offering false advice in the hopes of getting even more money out of your wallet. We’ll sort out the facts from all that SMOKE.
If you’ve got a plan for keeping your family safe during extreme weather — great! But have you thought about how you’ll keep your most important records safe when you may need them most? We’ll share tips on the most disaster proof strong boxes and safes.
Would like to step up your bath before the holidays? You can WIN fixtures, faucets and more from Riverbend Home.com in our new “Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes!” We are giving away $3,500 in bath products from brands like American Standard, Grohe and DXV all available RiberbendHome.com. Enter once a day. Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, repairing cracks in your basement floor, caulking a tub, installing a back flow preventor, realigning a door.
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 wherever you are in this beautiful country, we hope that you are enjoying the beautiful fall weather and that you’re enjoying the space you call home. Whether it is a house, whether it’s a condo, whether it’s a co-op, whether it’s an apartment, wherever you lay your head down to sleep every night we know the space is really important for you and we want to make it your best home ever. We want to help you fix it up and make it beautiful and strong and resilient and stop any of those pesky repairs that always seem to pop up when you least expect it.
And that’s what we do here. If you’ve got some questions on your house, there’s lots of ways to get in touch with us. You can post your question to our website at MoneyPit.com. You can also post your question on our social-media pages. Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit seems to get most of those questions. And you can always call us at 888-MONEY-PIT – that’s 888-666-3974 – because we want to help you. We want to hear from you. We want to hear what you’re working on. We want to help you get the job done.
Coming up on today’s show, are the leaves beginning to pile up yet around your home? The people in Florida are laughing at us right now thinking, “Ha ha. You people in the Northeast have tons of leaves. We have none.” But if you’re dreading dragging out the rake to scoop them up only to have a ton more fall seemingly overnight, we’re going to have some tips to help speed up your leaf cleanup so you can get back to enjoying the beautiful weather, just ahead.
LESLIE: And also ahead, it’s fireplace season and you’ve got to get your chimney cleaned. It’s really a job that’s both necessary and one that comes too frequently, with a chimney contractor who’s then offering some sort of fraudulent advice in hopes of getting even more money out of your wallet. We’re going to sort out all of those facts from all of that smoke.
TOM: And hey, if you’ve got a plan for keeping your family safe during the extreme weather, great. But have you thought about how you’ll keep all your most important records safe when you potentially may need them most? We’re going to have some answers for that, just ahead.
LESLIE: And if you’d like to step-up your bath before the holidays, we’ve got a great way for you to win fixtures, faucets and more from RiverbendHome.com. All you need to do is enter the Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. We’re giving away 3,500 bucks in bath products from brands like American Standard and Grohe, all available at RiverbendHome.com.
TOM: So let’s get to it. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website is MoneyPit.com. Reach out to us however is most convenient for you.
And let’s get right to those calls. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Mary in North Dakota needs some help with a concrete floor. What can we do for you?
MARY: We’ve got crumbling concrete on the basement floor after water problems this spring.
TOM: OK. Alright.
MARY: And it’s very crumbly and powdery. And there are places on it that I’d like to paint, if I could.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Do you want to try to stabilize the deterioration of the concrete?
MARY: Yeah. I was wondering if there was some kind of sealant that could be sprayed or poured on it.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, in terms of the water problem, is this a problem that happened after a heavy rainfall?
TOM: Alright. So if you’ve got water that comes in after a heavy rainfall, I want to make sure we try to slow this down so it doesn’t happen again. Adding sump pumps, things of that nature, is not going to stop this from happening again. What stops the heavy rainfall from getting in is outside: looking at your gutters and your grading, making sure the downspouts are discharging away from the house, making sure your gutters are clean, making sure soil slopes away from the house.
We’ve got extensive articles – actually, several of them – on MoneyPit.com. Just search “how to stop a leaking basement” and it’s the same advice. And we talk about the proper drainage improvements. So, do that first.
And then, in terms of the concrete itself, you can use a patching compound. QUIKRETE has a patching-compound product. You definitely want to use the patching compound because it’s designed to stick to the old concrete. If you try to put new concrete over it, it’s not going to stick. So, the ready-to-use patching compounds are trowel-applied. They’re latex formulas, so it’s easy to clean up. But that will seal the old concrete.
Then, once that dries, then you can paint it. And what I would look for is an epoxy floor paint. The epoxy paints I like because they’re a chemical cure. When you buy the floor paint, you get the paint in a gallon can that’s about three-quarters filled and then a quart of hardener. You mix them together, stir them up and then you apply the paint. Sometimes, there is an additive that goes in after the fact that gives you some texture to the floor, helps kind of hide the dirt. But patching it first, then adding an epoxy paint will have that looking like new in no time.
MARY: OK. But the name of the sealant was called what?
TOM: QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. It’s QUIKRETE Concrete Patching Compound. Good stuff.
Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ed in Colorado is on the line with a basement-plumbing question. What can we help you with today?
ED: Oh, I live in the area of Colorado that suffered from the floods. Fortunately, I wasn’t one of the persons that had a flood but some of my friends that did have had sewerage backup in their basements. And somebody mentioned that there was such a thing as a check valve that can be installed that still lets it act as a drain but will stop any backups. And I was wondering if you have a recommendation, if there’s any problem with them that you know of.
TOM: Yeah, Ed, that’s called a “backflow-preventer valve” and it’s a type of valve that is installed in the main waste line. And it does just what you explained. If the sewage flow reverses and there’s pressure onto the sewage pipe to kind of pump that sewage back into your house – which can get terrible, because it can come up through every drain in the house – the backflow-preventer valve will stop that from happening.
But just keep in mind that it’s not to be confused with the sewer trap, which stops sewage gas from backing up. You actually need the sewer trap but you also need the backflow-preventer valve, especially if you have an area that apparently is susceptible to this.
So I think it would be a good thing to do. You’re going to need a plumber to install it. It’s a bit of a project because you’ve got to get access to the line to do it but it is a good idea to have it done.
ED: Do I have access through the drain and the little screen that’s over the top of it?
TOM: Well, the line has to be actually – this is a valve that has to be plumbed into it, so it depends on whether or not there’s enough room to kind of move the pipes around to get this backflow-preventer valve in there.
ED: Oh, we’d have to bust up some concrete in that case.
TOM: Well, perhaps. Or certainly, you’d have to extend the line that’s there, OK?
ED: Alright. Well, thank you very much for your time.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, fall is a great time to refresh your bathroom and we’ve got a great way for you to do just that. You can enter the RiverbendHome.com Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. You guys can win from 3,500 bucks worth of products from American Standard and Grohe – including beautiful fixtures, faucets and more – all available from RiverbendHome.com.
LESLIE: You know, when you think bath renovation, you probably think it’s got to be a big, major project but not so. You’d be amazed at how a simple update, like swapping your bathroom faucet or showerhead, can make a huge impact on the look and function of your bathroom. Riverbend Home has everything you’d need, and so much more, for easy weekend projects like these that deliver big bang for your buck.
TOM: And hey, if you enter the Riverbend Home Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes today at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes, you might just win everything you need to get started. It doesn’t get any better than that. So enter now, enter daily at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: Bridget in Illinois is on the line. What is going on with that musty odor at your money pit? Tell us about it.
BRIDGET: So my crawlspace is about a 15×15-foot area and it opens up into my basement.
BRIDGET: But I bought an older home and the addition just has the crawlspace.
BRIDGET: So, right now, it’s just dirt and I see some – they’ve laid some cardboard in there but I heard last week that cardboard breeds mold, from your shows. So I removed the cardboard.
TOM: Yeah. Not only that but laying directly on the dirt, that is a termite feast waiting to happen there. So, what you need to do are a couple of things. You need to get the cardboard out of the crawlspace and off of that soil. Then you need to lay heavy plastic down, like Visqueen – very thick sheet plastic – down across that whole soil surface. That’s going to stop a lot of the moisture from evaporating up off that soil and getting into the air, which is causing the musty smell in your basement.
Now, do you have vents in this addition that are open to the outside so that the crawlspace can get some fresh air?
TOM: Do you have a door that closes the crawlspace off from the main basement?
BRIDGET: No, I don’t.
TOM: OK. So, what you’re going to need to do is to form or construct some sort of a hatchway that closes off that opening between the crawlspace and the basement. They don’t need to be connected and in fact, if they are, it’s going to lead to energy loss.
There’s a couple of ways that you can do that and what you might think about doing, if it’s just sort of a standard opening that maybe is 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall – I don’t know. But if it’s something like that, you could take a piece of 1-inch Styrofoam and put a piece of plywood on the front of that and this way construct, essentially, an insulated hatchway there so that you can really seal that in and keep the cold side on the crawlspace and let the basement be the warm side.
I think those couple of things are going to solve your musty smell in your basement and it’s also going to make that crawlspace much, much drier, which is important. If you let that moisture continue to evaporate off the soil, what’s going to happen is you’re eventually going to get not only an inefficient situation, because your insulation will be damp, but you could get termites, you could get mold or decay of the floor structure.
BRIDGET: OK. And my other question is if I put the Visqueen down, how much do I overlap the pieces?
TOM: Very good question. I would overlap it about 4 feet. You don’t want to put it edge to edge.
BRIDGET: OK. And then someone told me that maybe I should put lime down underneath, first, to dry out the area in case there’s like serious backdraft?
TOM: No. You cannot possibly take all the moisture away with lime that’s under that, OK? No. Just cover it with the Visqueen, make sure the vents are open, seal it off from the basement and I think you’ll be good to go.
And by the way, at that foundation perimeter, you can also reduce the amount of moisture getting in there by making sure you have gutters on the addition, the downspouts are extended 4 to 6 feet from the house and the soil is always sloping away. All that moisture management is going to help.
BRIDGET: OK. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
LESLIE: Well, now that the leaves are piling up, there’s some work ahead, guys. You’ve got to rake them up. But if you’re thinking of skipping that dreaded chore of raking those leaves, you might want to rethink that approach if you love a healthy, green lawn.
Now, here’s why. Fall is the most important time of year for your lawn to grow new grass. But if it’s covered with those leaves, that lawn isn’t going to get the sunlight that it needs to prosper. Plus, those leaves are going to get wet, it’s going to kill the grass and that can grow a lot of moss and algae, as well as mushrooms. And those are all signs of an unhealthy lawn and more reason to get rid of them.
TOM: Yeah. Now, for that, you’ve got a couple of options.
First, check with your town to make sure you know if you’re required to bag the leaves or just rake them to the curb. Hopefully, you can just rake them to the curb because bagging them is an extra pain-in-the-neck step. But for raking, one trick that we use a lot is to simply use a small, blue tarp, no more than about 8×10. And then I rake the leaves into the tarp and drag that around the lawn as the job progresses.
You can pull the tarp around as you go and then you can pull it right to the street and dump the leaves. It’s a lot easier to move leaves this way than to rake them into multiple piles or to use a wheelbarrow, because it holds less and it requires a lot more steps and a lot more bending down and standing up and bending down and standing up, as you fill that thing up again and again and again. But you put them in the tarp once, you drag them right to the street, you’re done in just a couple of loads.
LESLIE: Yeah. But there is another option. You can actually, for some – I’m not saying all of your leaves – is to toss them into a compost bin. And that’ll help nurture your flowers and vegetable gardens come spring. Or if you’ve got a lawn mower that’s suited for mulching, you can also run it over the leaves. And those chopped-up pieces will help feed the grass as it remains dormant through the winter months. So, a couple more options.
TOM: Yeah. Now, one thing you want to avoid altogether is burning the leaves. Too many people do that and it’s just not safe. And it is bad for the environment. So, hopefully, you’ll be able to tackle those leaves, one of these upcoming weekends, and get it done quickly and efficiently and get back to just enjoying the colors of the season.
LESLIE: Sandy in South Dakota is on the line with a funny smell coming from the basement. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
SANDY: Our basement is – got a real bad, musty smell to it. And we’ve had fans going down there all summer long, we’ve had a dehumidifier going year-round. And I can’t get rid of the musty smell. I don’t know what to do with it.
TOM: Alright. Well, there’s a couple of things that you can do.
First of all, the musty smell is because you have an excessive amount of moisture and humidity down there. So we want to do some things to try to reduce that amount of moisture. You’re going to start outside your house and examine your gutter system. You want to make sure that you have gutters, that the gutters are clean and free-flowing and that the downspouts are discharging 4 to 6 feet, minimum, away from the foundation.
SANDY: They do.
TOM: They do. Alright. And then after that water discharges, does it run away from the wall?
SANDY: It runs away from the house, yes.
TOM: So, I’d like you to take a look at those gutters in a heavier rainfall, just to make sure they’re not becoming overwhelmed. Because that usually is a source of many moisture problems.
If the gutters are working well, then we need to look at the grading around the house. The soil should slope away and drop 6 inches on 4 feet. And that soil grade should be made up of clean fill dirt, not topsoil, not mulch or grass. You could have a little bit of topsoil and grass on top of it but you have to establish the slope first with fill dirt. And the reason you’re doing this is because you want rainfall that hits to run away from the house and not sit up against the house. That slope is really, really important.
If that’s done, then going down to the basement area, we could make sure that the walls are properly sealed with a damp-proofing paint and then a dehumidifier on top of that. But the dehumidifier has to be properly sized for the basement space and it has to be drained – set up with a condensate pump so that it drains outside.
And those steps together are usually going to take out as much moisture as you possibly can.
SANDY: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Sandy. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Vernon in Colorado who’s fixing up the bath. How can we help you?
VERNON: I had heard a while back on your show, if you’re going to recaulk your bathtub, to fill it up with water? But I do not remember if anything was said about removing the water immediately after it was caulked or letting the caulk set up first before you would let the water out. So I wanted to check on that before I started my project with some good kitchen-and-bath caulk.
LESLIE: Well, absolutely. The tip you heard about filling the tub with water is totally correct. And the reason why we do that is when you fill the tub with water, it sort of weighs down and sits down onto the base a little more.
So if you fill it with water and then go ahead and caulk, then you let the caulk dry and then you drain the bath. When it sort of empties out, it’s going to lift back up and compress that caulk. So the next time you actually go to take a bath or a shower and you’re standing in there and the tub presses down on the base, it’s going to stretch the caulk and it’s all going to stay in place.
So that’s really a good trick of the trade, because it keeps it in its place longer and it really lets it adhere to where it needs to be.
VERNON: Perfect. OK. That’s what I’ll do. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Vernon. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Roger in Alabama, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROGER: I have a problem with a door. It’s a storm door. And when I originally installed it, everything looked perfect on it. And now, there is a large gap at the bottom and a small gap at the top and the latch doesn’t really want to hold anymore. And I put levels on it and everything looks like it’s supposed to be but it’s not. And I’m at a standstill trying to figure out how to fix it outside of knocking my post out of align.
TOM: OK. So it sounds like the door is out of alignment and it’s not square. Got a situation where the jamb probably has to go up or down. So, for example, if you were to take the jamb and move it down, then the outside edge of the door will move up. If you were to take the jamb and move it up, the outside edge of the door would move down. So it sounds like something is not in alignment.
Storm doors can be tricky because every side of the jamb is applied separately. But what I might do is I might leave the jamb side attached, then try to reset the other two pieces of the door.
In terms of the gap at the bottom, if you can’t close that, just add weather strip to the outside of the door. You know, you can pick up a door sweep that has sort of a metal flange with a broom-like bristle edge at the bottom that works very well. We use it on exterior doors all the time. And that will stop drafts from coming through it.
But it sounds like the door is out of alignment. What you’ve described with uneven gaps and a latch doesn’t work means that the door is simply not square in the opening.
ROGER: OK. I think I’ve got an idea of what I can do with it now.
TOM: Alright. Great. Roger, hope that helps. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, fireplaces are great for ambiance and more efficient models can actually help cut your home’s heating bills. But they can also do more harm than good. Now, fireplaces account for almost half of all home heating fires. That’s a huge number considering how little they’re used compared to your heating system. So this is one area of the house that really needs careful and consistent maintenance to operate safely.
TOM: So, first step, have your chimney professionally cleaned once per year or once for every cord of wood you burn, if you’re using it a lot. The chimney sweep will also inspect the fireplace and chimney structure to make sure it’s intact.
And checking for creosote is another part of what these guys do. Now, if you’re not familiar, creosote is very combustible. It’s a by-product that forms when fires are too big or when the airflow is restricted, the wood is too wet to burn or doesn’t completely burn. It’s basically black or brown in appearance and it tends to stick to the inside of the flue. And if you get a lot of it, it can cause a very serious chimney fire inside your flue. It’s like a torch when that happens and it’s almost always tragic. So you’ve got to be super careful to keep the creosote out of that flue.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? These are all super-important reasons that you need to hire a chimney sweep but you have to proceed with caution when you’re hiring one. The chimney-sweep industry is kind of filled with questionable sales practices, so you have to make sure that the pro you hire is certified through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
TOM: And once your chimney is cleaned, be sure only to burn seasoned wood. Now, that means that it’s dried out for at least 6 months. Not only does seasoned wood give up more heat, it’s also much less likely to deposit that nasty creosote we were talking about just before.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Eva in North Carolina on the line with a water-heating question. How can we help you today?
EVA: Our home is about 11 years old. We have a hot-water heater on our third floor of our home. And I’m a little nervous about it being up on the third floor. And with it aging out, I’m concerned about it potentially bursting or leaking. So what we’d like to do is replace the hot-water heater in this house.
However, we’re not sure. We kind of have a disagreement. We’re broke right now, financially, but we would – for peace of mind’s sake, I would like to possibly look into a tankless. My husband thinks we should just replace the current one that we have upstairs on the third floor with the same darn thing because he’s like, “If it’s new, it won’t leak and it won’t burst.” So what do you guys suggest?
TOM: How old is the water heater?
EVA: As old as the house, I presume. The house is about 11 or 12 years old.
TOM: Well, if it’s an 11-year-old house, it’s going to have an 11-year-old water heater. And while, yeah, that’s closer to the end of a normal life than not, believe it or not, it’s not horribly old. I’ve seen water heaters go 15, 20 years.
EVA: But because it’s on the third floor of the house, I’m nervous because water is going to – it’s not like it’s in the basement or the garage. So if there is a leak or something like that, I’m concerned about there being a lot of water damage to our home.
TOM: I understand. And you could – that would happen if a pipe broke, as well. So, if you want to replace it with a tankless, that is going to be more expensive than a tanked water heater. But it’s definitely worthwhile because they last a lot longer and they also give you on-demand hot water, so you never really ever run out of warm water.
If you’re concerned about your plumbing system’s reliability in general, just make it a practice that whenever you guys go away for a weekend or longer, you turn the main water valve off. You don’t need to leave water on when you’re not home for an extended period of time. So, that might also be something you might want to start doing on a regular basis.
EVA: So whenever you’re going to be gone for the weekend or more than a couple days, turn the main water valve off.
TOM: That’s right. Because you don’t need it on. And this way, if the water heater ever were to break, it would lose the 40 or 50 gallons that’s in it but it would not constantly run, run, run.
EVA: Gotcha. So, going back to my original question, what do you guys suggest we do? Because my husband thinks, well, let’s just get a new one, the same thing. And then he thinks it’s going to give me some peace of mind.
TOM: OK. Here’s what I would do. You said that money is tight. I don’t want you to throw good money at bad ideas and I think replacing it with the same thing is kind of a bad idea, especially since it’s 11 years old. What I would prefer to see you do is live with that for another year or two, save up some money and then put in a tankless.
EVA: OK. And do you recommend tanklesses (ph) go in the crawlspace or in the garage or outside?
TOM: Well, they can pretty much go wherever you want. If you put them outside, they get a little less efficient because, of course, the outside temperature is cold and that means they have to work a little bit harder.
TOM: And sometimes, they’re put in rooms that are insulated or outside closets and that sort of thing. But you have the flexibility because a tankless water heater is going to be about a quarter of the size of your tanked water heater.
EVA: OK. So it sounds like that’s what you recommend is a tankless but maybe just live with this one for another year or two.
TOM: I think that makes the most sense. OK, Eva?
EVA: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
I don’t feel like 11 years old is a terribly old water heater.
LESLIE: No. I mean given that a lifespan is 10,12 years. And you’re right: before we moved in, the one in our house was like 20 years old.
TOM: I used to see that all the time as a home inspector. And yeah, it’s old but not worth emergency replacing.
LESLIE: You can live with it. No. Just for peace of mind. There are other things that you can do.
TOM: There’s enough life left in that to risk not doing it now and saving up your money for a year or two and then going tankless. Because tankless is definitely the technology that is state of the art today and worth every penny of its cost.
LESLIE: Hey, would you like to step-up your bath before the holidays? We’ve got a great way for you to win fixtures, faucets and more from RiverbendHome.com. All you need to do is enter the Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. And there, we are giving away $3,500 in bath products from brands like American Standard and Grohe, all available at RiverbendHome.com.
TOM: Yep. Enter once a day at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Frank in Texas on the line with a structural question. What’s going on at your money pit?
FRANK: Yes, I’ve got an older home, post-and-beam construction. I have about a 4×8 beam that’s cracked diagonally. And I’ve already poured a footer – a 2-foot by 2-foot by 6-inch footer – and I plan on bracing that. But what I’m wondering, once I jack it back into position, number one, is there an adhesive that might help hold it together? And on the sides, I want to marry in a support. Should I use OSB, plywood or a 2×8?
TOM: What you would do is you would put another beam next to it that has to go the same width. It has to go bearing point to bearing point as the split beam. And then you would glue it with a construction adhesive from the new beam to the split beam. And I would bolt them together. And if you do that on a beam-by-beam basis, then it should be an acceptable repair.
It’s just a little tricky because you’ve got to get that new beam next to the old beam and it’s going to not be straight. And you’re going to have to work around wires and plumbing and such to get it in there and nice and tight.
But take your time fitting that beam. If you get the new beam in right, then it could be quite strong.
FRANK: Alright. I appreciate the advice. Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, it’s been a rough year for storms and it got us thinking. You know, we’re vulnerable in emergency-weather situations and most of us take steps to protect our home and our family. But what about protecting important documents?
Now, whether those are your birth records, financial papers or even backups of your computer files, these need to be stored properly to survive a fire or any other disaster.
TOM: Yes. So start by keeping your financial records and documents in one safe place. Now, a wide variety of safes and lockboxes are available for protecting against heat and water. But you need to make sure that if you have financial records that include electronic files, like CDs and USBs and hard drives, you need to make sure you’re using what’s called a “media safe.” And here’s why: because media safes will keep the inside temperature below 125 degrees and the humidity below 85 percent. If it’s a paper safe, it actually gets a lot hotter than that for the paper to burn. So you need to make sure you’re using the right kind of safe or even lockbox. So make sure it says, “Media safe.”
And I always take note of how long it says it can maintain that temperature, because you have a 30-minute box and a 60-minute box and so on. So, just be aware that there are different types and choose the one that’s best for you.
LESLIE: Kim in Nebraska is working on a bathroom-flooring project. How can we help you?
KIM: We had a leaky stool and so we are needing to replace our stool. But as we lifted it up, we could see that there was rotted subfloor and we replaced that.
TOM: Hey, Kim, you said that you had a leaky what?
KIM: The stool. The toilet?
TOM: Oh, the stool. Oh, is that what you call a toilet? A stool? Yeah, that must be a Nebraska thing. I never heard that before.
KIM: I know. It sounds a little bit nicer than “toilet.”
TOM: Alright. So, we’ve established that your toilet is leaking and it apparently has rotted out your bathroom floor.
KIM: And so we replaced the subflooring that was rotted. But websites were suggesting that if I’m going to replace the floor, just go ahead and take the rest of that one – the old vinyl linoleum off. And it’s original to the house, so it’s 27 years old.
And so, I’ve been slowly doing that. I’ve just been scoring it and using a 4-inch scraping blade to get it off. But I’m really gouging that particle board underneath.
TOM: What are you going to use for underlayment?
KIM: It suggested the underlayment – wood?
TOM: So, what I would suggest you do is get all the rest of that linoleum off. And if the floor is really gouged up and you want to put something that’s got a little bit of strength to it, I would use 3/8-inch plywood. Just make sure it’s like AC plywood so you have one really smooth side, like A-grade on one side, maybe C on the other. Or ½-inch.
But 3/8- or ½-inch should be fine for the underlayment. And that will take up any depressions in the floor caused by the scratches or the gouging, OK? And then, on top of that, you can add the tile and go from there.
KIM: OK. That sounds great.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Post your question, like just Ronnie in South Carolina did. Now, Ronnie writes: “The electrical wall sockets in all three bathrooms have quit working. No tripped circuit breakers are in the circuit box. How can the problem be identified and repaired?”
TOM: I know, I know, I know. Do you know? We both know, right? The ground fault.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s in your outlet. You’ve got to find it.
TOM: Yeah, you’ve got to find it. Yeah.
So, Ronnie, what’s going on is in your house, you have a ground-fault circuit interrupter – a GFCI. That’s the outlet that has the test and reset button. Or it might be part of your main panel.
And typically – especially in newer construction over, say, the last 20 years – builders would put in one ground fault and they’ll have several wet-location outlets attached to that. So it could be all your bathroom outlets or it could be all your outlets in your bathroom and your garage. Or it could be the garage and the exterior outlets. You’ve got to find in your house where you have that ground-fault circuit interrupter and reset that. And once you do, magically, all the outlets will start working again.
Now, if it happens after that, you’ve got to ask yourself, “Well, why did that happen?” Because it’s designed to detect a short. And if it happens again and even – especially if it happens right away, then you need to contact an electrician and figure out why it happened, then get that fixed.
Alright. So now we have a question from Nancy. And Nancy says – and I love this – “I listen to you and [Keslie Garrety] (sp) every week.
LESLIE: That’s me.
TOM: You are now [Keslie Garrety] (sp). I think that could work for you, Leslie.
LESLIE: I’ll take it.
TOM: I think that’s got a nice rhyme to it.
LESLIE: Hey, you know what? I’ll go for it.
TOM: I think that’s the funniest I’ve ever seen your name mispronounced. Mine is hard enough.
Alright. So, Keslie (sp), she says, “My question to you is about my garage doors. A little rust is about to get bigger and I wonder what to do about it. Shall I sand and paint or sand and spray with a Rust-Oleum? What is the best approach?”
So, look, if you’ve got a metal door and you’ve got rust, yeah, you’ve got to deal with it because it will continue to get worse. It won’t get better. So, what you want to do is sand it out or use a wire brush – it’s a very handy way to rough up that surface – and then prime it. And I think Rust-Oleum is an excellent product to do that with. Prime the spot with a Rust-Oleum. I would probably – if it was a little spot, I would just buy a little pint can of it. I wouldn’t buy even a spray can of it. I’d buy a little pint can of it and just brush it on, let it dry. And then you could put a finish coat on top of it.
Now, you will find that when you put the second coat on it, it will probably be the brightest spot on the whole door. And you’re going to have to make a decision as to whether or not you want to leave it like that or if you want to just do the entire door. And I hate to make a small project bigger but if you want it to all look consistent and pretty and beautiful, then you might want to buy a little bit more Rust-Oleum and just paint the entire door.
The nice thing about Rust-Oleum – or one thing, I should say, you should know about it – is it doesn’t dry fast and that’s a good thing. Because the longer it takes to dry, the tougher the finish, I find, it actually is.
LESLIE: Alright, Nancy. Here’s some advice from Keslie (sp). First, you can call me Leslie. I’ll answer to both, in all honesty.
But Nancy, think about when you’re getting ready to repaint this door, maybe you want to go with a different color than you had before. You know, a front door can be so much more friendly if you put a different color on it.
Now, I always tend to lean toward a black door, a blue door or red door but look online. So many great ideas. I’ve seen pink, even purple. Depending on the style of your house and the neighborhood, you could really make something super great.
TOM: You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show and we are so glad you are. We hope we’ve given you some ideas and tips and inspiration to avoid the perspiration when it comes to taking on projects around your house. If we didn’t talk to you today and you’re thinking, “Hey, I’ve got my own question,” you can get in touch with us a number of different ways. You can head on over to MoneyPit.com and click on Ask a Question or post your question to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we promise to call you back the next time we are.
But for now, 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.)