In this episode…
If you’ve ever stepped into the shower first thing in the morning and received a blast of icy cold water, you know it’s not best way to wake up! New technology in water heaters can prevent this by circulating hot water to bathrooms, BEFORE you need it! We’ll share how to stop this “shower shock” ounce and for all. Plus…
- If you’re tackling fall clean ups around the house — getting rid of trash is easy, but getting rid of hazardous trash, not so much. We have tips on the easiest ways to purge your home and garage of things like old paint, pesticides and more just ahead.
- Fall is the perfect time to get your lawn ready for winter, and a bright green spring and summer next year. We’ll share a handy 4-step checklist to help you do just that.
- The most common laundry room disaster is a broken washer supply hose and it can cause thousands of gallons of water to flood your home! Learn one simple switch that can stop this from happening to you!
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 so glad we’re here, because this is our chance to help you – it’s what we love to do – take on the projects you want to get done around your house. Because if you’ve got a money pit, you’ve got a home. Because we see this as a term of endearment, a home that needs constant love and care. It needs, really, some TLC to stay in good shape to keep serving you and becoming your best home ever.
So, if you need to stop the leaks, you want to stop the squeaks, you want to spruce up your outdoor space, you want to work on your kitchen, you’ve got 6 weeks or 7 weeks or so before the holidays – well, actually, you really can’t say that, because it depends on when you start counting. But if you’re thinking about Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah, yeah, you’ve got a little bit of time. You can’t take on a gut reno but we can give you some ideas on easy fix-ups for those spaces or really anything else you want to talk about.
We’re your coach, your guide. We’re sort of your adventure guides, right? Because home improvement is an adventure.
LESLIE: Oh, for sure.
TOM: It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating and sometimes, it does not go as planned. So, if that describes you and you want to get some help, we would be honored to do just that.
Couple of ways to get in touch with us. You could post your questions to MoneyPit.com. Just click on Ask a Question. You can also use our social-media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. You can reach out to us through there @MoneyPit or on Facebook. That’s Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Or you can call us. The number is 1-888-666-3974, which happens to spell 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here for whatever you need to get done. So reach out and let us help.
Coming up on today’s program, hey, have you ever stepped into the shower first thing in the morning and received a blast of icy-cold water? Not so dramatic in the heat of the summer but man, when it gets cold outside it becomes even worse and it’s not the best way to wake up. And that’s why you’re going to love the new technology we’re going to talk about. It’s coming out in water heaters and they are now being designed to circulate hot water to the bathrooms before you need it. Isn’t that smart? We’re going to have all those details, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And if you’re tackling fall cleanups around the house, getting rid of trash is easy but getting rid of hazardous trash, not so much. We’re going to have tips on the easiest way to purge your home and garage of things like old paint, pesticides and more, just ahead.
TOM: And fall is the perfect time to get your lawn ready, not only for winter but for a bright, green spring and summer next year. The season’s just right to plant new grass, because it’s got lots of months now to grow deep and strong before the heat of the summer happens next year. So we’re going to share a handy, four-step checklist to help you get your lawn in good shape.
LESLIE: And fall is also a popular time to take on bath renovations that you’d like to get done before the holidays. And as luck would have it, we’re giving away $3,500 in bath products from American Standard and Grohe, all available at RiverbendHome.com. All you need to do is enter the Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
TOM: So, let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Adam in Rhode Island is on the line with a leaky skylight. What’s going on?
ADAM: I have a bay window in my bedroom and it’s below a skylight. And for a while, it started to create those brown stains on my ceiling. But for the most part, the biggest problem was there was a leak in the bay window. So, my father and I went up there. We put a new flashing kit on the skylight and it seemed to help the problem but it did not eliminate the problem.
And I had a contractor friend over who took a look at it, as well, and he noticed that if you go out on the outside, the bay window abuts the gutter where the gutter attaches to the roof above it. And it’s his opinion that there should be, perhaps, some 6- to 8-inch gap there between where the gutter meets the house and where the bay window starts. So it’s his opinion that the bay window might have been improperly installed.
TOM: So, it sounds like the bay window is up too high? Is that what you’re saying? So it basically goes right up under the gutter?
ADAM: Right. It certainly – there’s certainly no separation between the soffit but there’s also no separation from where the gutter meets the house, either.
TOM: Alright. And does the bay window have its own roof on it? Or is the roof sort of built into the soffit structure?
ADAM: No. It’s under the overhang.
TOM: Oh, it is under the overhang. OK. Mm-hmm. Is it possible that the gutter is overfilling and perhaps the water is backing up through the gutter, getting into the soffit and running into the bay?
ADAM: I thought that at one point. And I have gone up and checked and the gutters are clean.
TOM: OK. And where this is on the roof, is there sort of a long stretch of roof that goes down before this – before it hits the skylight?
ADAM: Yeah. I guess so. Maybe 10 or 15 feet.
TOM: So, I’m going to give a trick of the trade and this might solve it. You might be getting so much water against that skylight that it’s just sort of forcing its way in. One thing you might want to do is to try to put a diverter on the roof, right above the skylight. And this – see if this works. It’s really easy to do and so there’s kind of no reason not to try it.
But you make a – you take a piece of aluminum in the shape of an L and you basically attach it to the roof. And you essentially want to intercept that flow of water down the roof and have it run around the skylight and around the bay window. So you’re slowing the volume of water that’s coming down that roof, running full steam towards that skylight and that bay-window area and running it around that space. And all you’ve got to do is tack that onto the roofing shingles, put some silicone caulk to help seal the edge and see what happens.
ADAM: So you caulk the edge of the L with silicone. And how do you affix the aluminum to the roof?
TOM: Yeah, you could simply nail through the shingle and with a roofing nail.
TOM: Because you’re – well, the caulk will help seal it. And basically, you’re capturing that water as it’s running down the roof. And it’s sort of running right around that skylight/bay-window roof combination and then off to the gutter.
ADAM: Alright. Sounds good. I’m willing to try it.
TOM: Good luck, Adam. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kathleen in Illinois on the line and she’s got a question about a vaulted ceiling. What can we do for you?
KATHLEEN: I’m calling about a renovation project that we are trying to do on a three-season sun porch. And it’s a 12×27 room. We did tackle doing window replacement by ourselves and we managed to do that. They’re vinyl-clad windows, the tilt-in kind and everything. But the ceiling right now is 12-inch tiles that are – they seem to be glued up to the ceiling. They’re not on a grid system; they’re just up there. And we want to put faux-tin ceilings. And we’re wondering if that’s a project that we could tackle or is that something best left to professionals or – we’re looking for your advice.
But we had some damage from rain on the roof and we’ve had the roof replaced. But I even painted over where the water stains were with that Zinsser Stain Stop. And you can still see the – it did not cover it, so we need to change the ceiling.
TOM: Hey, they make these tiles that are a drop-ceiling type of a tile that looks just like tin. Have you seen those, Kathleen?
KATHLEEN: Yes, we have. And we thought that those were very cool and we didn’t know – do you think just LIQUID NAILS or something to put it up over these existing tiles?
TOM: What’s underneath the tiles? Plywood sheathing?
KATHLEEN: I don’t know. It feels really solid when you push a …
TOM: I would try to figure out what’s underneath it. You could take some pieces of the old tiles apart, see how thick that is. I would prefer to have a mechanical attachment, like a staple or something like that, than just simply the glue. The glue is OK.
LESLIE: I mean I would use LIQUID NAILS and something else.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
KATHLEEN: Uh-huh. And you don’t think it would – I don’t want it to look uneven, how they – you see sometimes those grid systems where the tiles kind of droop and sloop and look …
TOM: No, if it’s done really well, it looks great. We’ve seen them at really high-end décor showrooms, where you have some really upscale decorating done, and they look fantastic.
KATHLEEN: OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project, Kathleen, and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to make your bath more beautiful and more efficient, now is a really good time to upgrade your bath fixtures and faucets with those that are WaterSense-certified. That’s just one of the bath projects that you can take on if you enter the RiverbendHome.com Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
Now, you can win up to $3,500 worth of bath products from American Standard and Grohe, including beautiful fixtures, faucets and more. It’s all available at RiverbendHome.com.
TOM: Now, think about it. Replacing your old toilet, your faucet, your shower with newer models makes sense for both you, your wallet and the environment. And upgrading now is going to reduce your water use and save you money. With American Standard, Grohe and DXV, you don’t have to sacrifice performance for efficiency. They work well, they work fantastic and they’re gorgeous. So why not check out the wide range of high-efficiency bath products at RiverbendHome.com and enter the Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes, right now, at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes?
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to take a call from Tim in Arkansas, who’s got some concrete issues with his patio and his garage. You know, maybe he wouldn’t have these problems if his friends didn’t help him with it.
What’s going on, Tim?
TIM: When it rains, it’s busting it and causing it to have holes in the concrete. And it’s just like it’s washing it away. And then I do have a 4-inch slab and the concrete is cracking.
TOM: Alright. So the patio is a 4-inch slab, the concrete is cracking. Are there a lot of cracks in it? Like is it severely deteriorated?
TIM: Well, no. But it’s like – I don’t know. It’s kind of like going to the center of the garage and it’s like it started from the 4×4 part, the 8×8 pole. And it’s just kind of – oh, it’s just, I don’t know, just cracking. I don’t know how deep it is but it’s just kind for cracking all the way across.
TOM: So is the concrete slab inside the garage or is it next to the garage?
TIM: Right, right. It’s just inside the garage. It’s bent over the …
TOM: So, look, there’s no easy way to fix this. All you can do is seal the cracks and cut down on the moisture that’s getting through there. Generally, when those slabs crack, it’s because there was some organic material underneath them that rotted away or perhaps the soil wasn’t compacted enough when it was first installed.
Replacing the slab is a project. Not probably as big of a project as you might think but it is a project. But unless it’s so cracked and so deformed that it’s causing a tripping hazard or some other concern like that, I wouldn’t do anything further than just sealing it and moving on.
TIM: OK. Well, it’s just a hairline crack. Yeah, you don’t think it’ll get any worse, do you?
TOM: It could but it’s not unusual for these slabs to have hairline cracks.
TIM: OK, OK. It’s not bothering anything. I just don’t know how deep it is or …
TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t panic over it. It’s not a structural issue, because the floor is basically just there to give you a surface to drive on. It’s not tied into the foundation of the house.
Tim, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever had to wait for the water to get hot when you’re ready to take a shower, you’re going to love this. There are on-demand water heaters that have a built-in circulation, which means that it’s going to deliver instant hot water for your entire home with no waiting.
TOM: Now, with most water heaters, you’ve got to wait for the cold water in your pipes to travel to your shower. And if you have a bath that’s in the far end of the house from where the water heater is located, a lot of times it’s got to go from the first floor or the basement all the way down the house and then up to the bathroom. So it can take a long time. But if you’ve got built-in recirculation and a high-efficiency tankless water heater, there is no more waiting because the water is pumped through your pipes before you need it. So it’s always hot, it’s always good to go and it’s there right when you step in first thing in the morning.
LESLIE: Yeah. And not only does it stop that blast of cold water in your face first thing in the morning, you’re going to save up to 12,000 gallons of water per year because you’re not going to be running all that cold water waiting for it to get hot.
TOM: It’s a great option if you’re replacing your water heater. So keep it in mind because, first of all, it’s tankless; you never run out of hot water. And because it’s high-efficiency, it can be vented directly using PVC pipe. And since it’s smaller than a tank water heater, you’ve got lots of installation options.
So, great technology. Love to see this is happening in the industry because we waste so much water. And people get so frustrated just waiting for it to get hot. It’s a question we get a lot and finally, we’ve got a great solution.
LESLIE: Liz in New Jersey is on the line and she has a kind of thrifty idea. She wants to reuse wall-to-wall carpeting? What’s going on?
LIZ: Yes. I have carpeting that is 20 years old but it’s in my living room, which hardly anybody – you don’t have to step on it to go through other parts of the house. And it looks fine. And I was wondering if I could have that taken up, because underneath is hardwood and I wanted to refinish it. But my carpeting in my bedroom, which is smaller, is worn. And I was wondering if I could put that carpet in the bedroom.
TOM: I don’t see any reason that you couldn’t do that. You know, pulling the carpet up is pretty easy to do as long as it was put down correctly to begin with.
Now, I will caution you, if that space in the living room turns out to be not one piece of carpet but carpet with a seam in the middle of it, that seam could be your weak link. That seam might not be obvious to you, if it was done well to begin with, but when you take the carpet up, you may find that it’s basically two pieces of wall-to-wall carpet seamed together with seam tape. And then if you try to move that piece upstairs, the tape could break apart because now you’re kind of disturbing it. And you may have a bit of a mess on your hands.
But I see no reason why you couldn’t reuse the carpet. It’s certainly possible. That said, I think the most expensive part of this project is going to be the labor, because you’re going to have to have a professional carpet installer do this work. And considering the fact that the upstairs bedroom is fairly small, the added cost of brand-new carpet might not really add that much to the overall project.
TOM: So think about the economics of this, OK? If you’re going to spend money on an installer, then it’s going to cost you X dollars to have them come in, take the old carpet out, cut a new piece to fit upstairs and move it upstairs. How much more can the carpet possibly cost you, especially if you bought a remnant or something of that nature?
LIZ: Oh, I see. Yeah. I think it’s one whole, long piece. I really do.
LESLIE: It depends. Because, usually, the bolts of carpeting are 13 feet. So if you’ve got a run of the room that’s bigger than 13 feet, then you’re probably going to have a seam somewhere in there.
The other thing to consider is that 20-year-old padding might not be reusable, so you might have to get new padding. Whereas if you got new carpeting, they’re going to throw in padding, for the most part. So, think of all those things.
TOM: Alright, Liz. Well, good luck with that project. We gave you some stuff to think about, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Cody in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CODY: Yes, ma’am. I was calling because I’m having a problem with scorpions and bugs and stuff. And I was going to see if you could recommend an economical way to treat them, both inside and out. We’ve used commercial businesses in the past to come in and spray. That’s just not in the budget right now. And I’ve tried Sevin Dust granules outside and just wanted to see if you could recommend anything that would be good inside and out.
TOM: Well, if you’re concerned about spiders, there’s a new product out called Miss Muffet’s Revenge, that’s made by the Wet & Forget Company, that’s inexpensive and can keep them out for a year. But I don’t think that’s going to keep the scorpions out.
TOM: One natural product that folks have reported good success with is boric acid. And boric acid can be applied a number of ways. You can sprinkle the powder, you can mix the powder with water and spray it. But you have to remember it doesn’t kill on contact; it essentially kind of messes with the skeleton system of the scorpion and causes them to die from dehydration. So, it’s more a preventative than it is sort of an immediate use – an immediate-result product.
CODY: Spray it around the foundation, on the exterior of the home? Also would I want to spray that inside or would it be OK to spray inside?
TOM: Well, you could spray it inside, as well. I mean it’s pretty safe to spray inside and outside.
LESLIE: Yeah. Another natural oil that they just don’t seem to like, for whatever reason, is cedar oil. So if you mix cedar oil with water and then spray that around your perimeter or if you’ve got gaps or cracks in your foundation or on your interior, you can use that, as well. They also don’t like lavender. So if you plant some lavender around your foundation, they’ll tend to stay away.
CODY: Awesome. I appreciate the help, guy. You all have a great rest of the day.
LESLIE: Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question, 24/7. We’re standing by at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Well, guys, you know fall is fire season. And I want you to think about the last time you replaced your smoke detectors. If you can’t remember or the answer is never, it’s a good time to replace them now because there’s been a big change in the manufacture of these. We’re now seeing 10-year batteries. The detectors have become, essentially, permanent appliances. You buy one with a 10-year battery. It is not replaceable. So, after 10 years, you simply toss it out and buy a new one.
You know, think of it like a mixer or some other small appliance for your house. After 10 years, it’s time to get a new one. Well, now, it’s going to be like that with smoke detectors. I think it’s fantastic because this is the fire season, so to speak. We’re turning heating systems on, so a great time to think about replacing that with one that has a 10-year battery so you know you’re always protected.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going over to Michigan, where Linda is on the line and wants to add onto a farmhouse. How can we help you with that?
LINDA: Well, I have about a 100-year-old farmhouse and I – the only bathroom is upstairs. It’s a two-story farmhouse. And I want to age in place, so I want to add another bathroom downstairs. And also, I inherited a doll collection from my mother and it’s stored in all the storage in all the rooms, so I kind of want to bring it into one room and add another room for that and hobbies.
People have been suggesting that I just – oh, just add a – break up one of the rooms in the house and just put a bathroom any old place. But the rooms are really well proportioned; it’s good cross-ventilation. I don’t want to have a mess. I want to have some style to the additions, so people have suggested that I go to either an architect or a drafter or interior designer. I don’t know – I’m not sure what that process involves and how many I should go to or …
TOM: Well, I think that you hit the nail on the head and that is to hire an architect. Because, essentially, you want to make sure that whatever you do to this house flows and maintains its structural integrity, as well as its design integrity. So an architect can help you do just that.
Selecting where to put that bathroom will be a balance of compromises trying to decide where it fits best in the design, where the plumbing is now, what it would take to get the plumbing where it needs to be for this particular bathroom and then how best to design those rooms for your collections and that sort of thing. The architect can handle with the structure and the mechanical systems. Once that’s done, then you could consider bringing in an interior designer to help lay it out and choose colors, choose furniture and make it work for you visually.
LESLIE: And I think the other good thing about bringing in the architect is they may have an interior designer that they work with. You can bring in your own. They’ll be able to sort of work together to help you specify the right materials for the right areas. So it really is a strong partnership.
LINDA: I see. Now, do I bring – do I talk or consult with two architects and get their ideas? Or do I just go with one and get the designs?
TOM: What I would do is I would bring in one or two or maybe three architects to see the property, tell them what you want to accomplish, find out how they work. You get a feel for them, yeah, they get a feel for you and then you make a decision based on that.
LESLIE: I think you meet with somebody – you meet with two or three architects, as Tom suggested. Just get a feel for them, because you’re going to know if you want to work with them, you’re going to know how well you communicate back and forth. You’ll sort of spitball ideas there during that meeting and get a really good sense of how much they’re understanding you. And whoever you feel the most comfortable with, I think, is what’s going to lead you to the right decision. And then you’ll start drawings.
LINDA: OK. I did get a card from someone who used them but – used this person but he was – this card says he’s a drafting consultant.
TOM: You don’t want a drafter, OK? You want an architect. You just want an architect – a good-quality architect. So focus on that first. You could take – usually, they’ll have books that show some of their past projects. You can see what kind of work they do.
It’s going to be – you’ll figure out, through a process of elimination, which one you’re most comfortable with and that’s the person that’s going to get the job. But they’re well worth the investment because they’re going to make this process easy and they’re going to be – you’re going to be assured that it comes out exactly as you plan.
If you bring in some – if you go right to the contractor step, they’re just going to squeeze this bathroom in wherever they think it fits and you’re not going to be happy with it. So get the architect; they’re well worth their investment.
LINDA: OK. Great.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, fall is the season when everybody starts to really clean out their garages. So you’ve got a lot of stuff in there from the summer season and you want to get into it, get it organized before you need all that winter stuff. But once you go through it and you’re starting to get rid of things, how do you get rid of the trash that’s considered toxic? And what exactly is considered toxic? And some of those might surprise you.
TOM: Yeah. For example, paint is considered toxic even if it’s latex. I mean we put it on the walls of our kids’ rooms, right? But most authorities do consider getting rid of extra paint to be toxic, so you can’t put paints, paint strippers, car oils and other chemical waste out with the household trash. Instead, a lot of cities have household-waste drop-off sites that are set up especially for the toxic waste. We know it’s a hassle but it’s probably better for you and the environment.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, another item that’s considered toxic is batteries. And the best bet is to check with those big-box retail stores by you, where they could offer return-to-vendor boxes that are made specifically for recycling batteries.
And speaking of retailers, old computers, TVs and other electronics can be dropped off at many national retailers for safe disposal. And some of those include Best Buy and Staples.
TOM: Yeah. You know, Best Buy, for example, we checked in with them and they tell us they collect more than 400 pounds of product for recycling every minute the stores are open.
TOM: Yeah. And in 2020, by the end of it, they’re going to recycle 2 billion pounds of electronics. So that’s amazing. So, well done, Best Buy.
So don’t throw your recyclables – your electronic recyclables – out with the trash. Take it to Best Buy or take it to Staples.
LESLIE: Hey, how would you like to renovate your bathroom with some new, beautiful bath fixtures and faucets from American Standard and Grohe? Well, you can by entering the RiverbendHome.com Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
Now, we’re giving away $3,500 in bath faucets, fixtures and more, all from RiverbendHome.com. You can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
TOM: And I love the way this is set up, because if you post your entries to your social-media pages, you can earn bonus entries. So, go to MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes and start entering today.
LESLIE: Cary in Alaska is dealing with a heating problem. It’s cold there. What’s going on?
CARY: I live off-grid with a battery bank and inverter with a solar and generator backup to recharge batteries. Consequently, I’d – and I have a full electric house with propane direct-vented furnace. My question is: will installing a drop ceiling improve my heating efficiency and lower my propane bill? Because my ceilings are vaulted at 17 feet. And a lot of the heat goes up, so I’m just wondering – basically a 12x 24-foot area.
TOM: So, Cary, what you need to do is to not only put in that drop ceiling but to put insulation batts above the drop ceiling. If you just put the drop ceiling in, you will not have enough R-value in that drop ceiling to do the job you need it to do. So I would build the drop ceiling and then I would put probably at least 12-inch-thick unfaced fiberglass batts on top of it. It should be plenty strong enough to support that. Just stacked end to end right above that ceiling.
You’re going to have to kind of put the frame in, put a couple of ceiling panels in, drop some insulation in and sort of work your way across. But if you were to put that much insulation above the drop ceiling, it will have a huge difference in your heating bill. Because right now, you’re spending most of that money to heat that ceiling cavity and you’ve just got to keep the heat lower than that.
CARY: OK. Well, that’s good to hear. I appreciate the help there.
LESLIE: Well, fall is the season to get your lawn ready for the cold winter ahead. So, here’s a four-step checklist to make sure that your yard is good to go.
First of all, keep on mowing that lawn but never trim more than a third of the grass blades off in a single cutting. Now, this is going to allow for more sun to reach the base of the grass, which prevents brown-out in the winter. Letting it grow too high may also attract lawn-damaging field mice. It’s OK to put mower blades on the lowest setting for the last two cuts of the season.
TOM: Now, next, you want to aerate your lawn. The compressed soil will hurt your grass growth. Aerating punches holes into the soil. It lets in oxygen and water and nutrients get back into the lawn. A couple of ways to do that. You can use a walk-behind aerator or you can get an attachment that pulls behind a riding mower. And once you get done with the aeration, generally it’s a good idea to do a seeding, because seed is inexpensive. It falls in those holes and it grows really well in the fall and it’ll be nice and strong grass, as a result, next summer.
LESLIE: Now, another good practice is mulching your leaves. Many mowers can mulch the leaves with an attachment. And since mulching with a mower can mix grass clippings with leaf particles, these nitrogen-rich grass particles and carbon-rich leaf particles will compost more quickly. Together, they return nutrients to the soil.
TOM: And finally, now is the time to repair any bald spots in your lawn. We had a few to fix this year because the deer were trampling on the lawn. And in the summer, we pretty much ground that grass right away.
So, had a bunch to fix. The easiest way to do that is with one of the all-in-one lawn-repair mixtures. You can find them at garden shops and home centers. They have the seed and the fertilizer all together in – it looks kind of clumpy when you get it out of the bag but you can just use a garden rake or dethatcher to scratch the loose soil on the spot and sprinkle them down. Then water them frequently until the grass starts to take hold.
LESLIE: Linda in Rhode Island is on the line and needs some help with winterizing the A/C unit. What’s going on?
LINDA: Well, I was wondering if someone could give me this proper procedure to shut down the unit for the winter. Because it was not successful last winter, I ended up with a problem when I went to start it up in the spring. So I thought, perhaps, I had not done something that maybe should have been done that I wasn’t aware of.
TOM: Ah, probably just bad luck, Linda. When you have an outside central air-conditioning compressor, there’s really not much to be done in the winter except that what we generally recommend is that you turn the power off to it. And then you cover the top of it. One thing you don’t want to do is cover the sides of it, because you have to let moisture move in and move out.
If you completely wrap it up – I’ve seen people completely wrap them up like a holiday package. Bad idea because that traps a lot of moisture inside. It can cause condensation and corrosion. You really just want to cover the top to kind of keep leaves out. But other than that, you just leave it exposed and nothing should happen to it as a result of that.
LINDA: Oh, very good. Well, I certainly will follow that this year, because I did exactly what you said: I wrapped it up like a package thinking I was protecting it.
TOM: And maybe that didn’t work out so well. So, yeah, I think you maybe gave it a little bit too much TLC. So just cover the top to stop the leaves from getting in but leave the sides open so it can air out properly, OK? So it can ventilate properly.
LINDA: Well, thank you ever so much.
TOM: Linda, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’re going to take a post now from Jonathan who writes: “I’m concerned about VOCs when painting my cabinets. Is it OK to use an oil-based primer with a latex paint in order to cut down on the VOCs? Also, if the cabinets I’m painting have laminate sides, do I need to prime those, as well?”
TOM: OK. So, Jonathan is concerned about VOCs, which are volatile organic compounds. They were used a lot more before paint became more environmentally friendly like it is now. I would not be concerned about using it on my kitchen cabinets. And in fact, I would recommend that not only the primer but the topcoat be oil-based or “solvent-based,” as we call it in the industry, because it’s actually a lot tougher than latex.
Latex paint is great for a lot of things but when you try to put it on a cabinet door or drawer that’s going to be opened and closed and slammed all the time, you’re going to find that it just doesn’t take that kind of abuse. I mean the paint has come a long way. It is not as much of an issue, in terms of environmental exposure, as it used to be. Of course, you know, choose a nice day for your project, set up a window fan to exhaust room air to the outside so you have plenty of good areas of ventilation.
And also, by the way, if you’re doing kitchen cabinets, it’s smart to take all the doors and drawers off and do everything separately. It’s just a heck of a lot easier. Just be sure you prep the cabinets properly before painting, because that’s going to make sure the paint sticks.
LESLIE: But you know what, Jonathan? You can also – at this time, you can change your hinges, you can add a different finish knob, you can add some new hardware. It’s really a great chance to sort of give your cabinets an even more extra new look. So, get on it.
TOM: For the most part, plumbing systems rarely leak. However, one part, located just outside the laundry-room wall, does. It’s the rubber hoses that connect the washing machines to the valves. And man, when those hoses break, the leak can be so bad it can collapse the ceiling of the floor below it and pretty much ruin all the furnishings. But if you make one change to those hoses, you can save yourself a lot of grief for about 20 bucks. Leslie explains, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, this is a problem that has caused homeowners countless heartaches over the years for one reason: for decades, manufacturers have always shipped new washing machines with rubber hoses. Now, the problem is that the rubber wears out, hoses crack, they form blisters and eventually they break, dumping thousands of gallons of water onto the floor below and below that and below that. That water can travel.
TOM: You are so right.
LESLIE: So, the best way to prevent this is to remove your washer’s rubber hoses and replace them with stainless-steel hoses. Now, these cost about $20 but almost never, ever break. Just shut off the water-supply valves and remove and replace the old rubber hoses with stainless. It’s a very easy DIY project.
Now, if you want to take it one step further, think about adding a single-lever shutoff valve to the washer supply line. This way, you can turn the water off between uses.
And there’s also a number of smart-home products available out there that are going to monitor the water flow at your main water valve. And then it can alert you if it detects an unusual event, like a water line that’s not been shut off or is never shutting off and there’s a massive amount of water somewhere in your home. So, definitely a good idea to have some of those technologies helping you out at home.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, whether you’re a young mom with her hands full or taking care of an aging parent, universally-designed products make life so much easier and safer. We’re going to share why universal design works for homes and folks of all ages, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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