In this episode…
If your closet is looking a little messy — closet organization may be in order, but that’s one project that ranks right up there with dental work as something to look forward to. We’ll have step-by-step, or shall we say “shelf-by shelf” tips to make this job easy to tackle.
- Have you ever considered adding gutter guards to end clogged gutters once in for all? Well don’t take another step until you hear about the results if a survey done by Ask the Builder which gathered actual costs from consumers across the nation. The numbers will FLOOR you! They range from a few dollars – all the way up to 90 dollars a foot! – in many cases for the exact same product! Tim Carter did the review and joins us with the results.
- If you’d like to have the best flower garden ever come Spring, Fall is the time to take an important first step – planting bulbs. Well help set you up for success when the weather turns warm again.
- Did you know that the sheets you sleep on can have a big impact on whether or not you get a full night’s sleep? Leslie has tips on the best bedding for getting some shut-eye.
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: So, what are you guys planning for this weekend? You’ve got a project that you’d like to get done? Maybe you need some help solving a problem? Whatever is on your to-do list, we’d love for you to put it on our to-do list. Yes, we’re looking for things to do and we’d love to help you with projects around your money pit. Because to us, a money pit is not a disaster. It is a home that you love. Yes, it needs care and feeding but heck, so do my kids and I love them lots. So, whatever is on your project list, let us help you get it done.
Couple of ways to get in touch with us. You can post your questions to MoneyPit.com. You can also call us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. We’ve got calls and questions coming in, from all sources, that we will tackle on today’s show.
Coming up, if your closet is looking a bit messy, closet organization might be in order. But that’s one project that ranks right up there I think with, what, dental work as something to look forward to. So we’re going to have the step-by-step or maybe we should say shelf-by-shelf tips to make this job easy to get done.
LESLIE: Plus, have you ever considered adding gutter guards to end clogged gutters once and for all? Well, don’t take another step until you hear about the results of a survey done by Ask the Builder, which gathered actual costs from consumers across the nation. Now, the numbers are going to floor you. They range from a few dollars all the way up to $90 a foot, in many cases, for the exact same product.
Tim Carter did the review and he’s going to join us with more.
TOM: And if you’d like to have the best flower garden ever come spring, fall is the time to take an important first step. We’re going to help set you up for success when the weather turns warm again.
LESLIE: And we’ve got a great sweepstakes going on right now as we head to the end of the year. We’re giving away $3,500 in American Standard and Grohe fixtures, faucets and more. It’s all available at RiverbendHome.com for three winners. Now is a really great time for you to tackle any sort of bathroom renovation that you’ve been thinking of so you can have it done before the holidays.
So, enter the Riverbend Home Beautiful Bath Sweepstakes once a day and refer your friends for even more chances to win. Check it all out at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
TOM: But first, we want to get to your calls, your questions about the projects that are important to you.
So let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Heading out to Arizona. We’ve got Jim on the line. What’s going on at your money pit?
JIM: It is a pretty simple product (inaudible).
JIM: It’s a typical house with a kitchen sink. And two bowls in a kitchen sink: small one and a large one.
TOM: OK. Yep.
JIM: In the smaller one, we typically will put soap and warm water in in the morning to wash the morning dishes. And then, by an hour, that water is cold, soapy water.
JIM: And I got to thinking there’s got to be some kind of an insulating blanket that you could buy or manufacture or somehow create to keep that water warm and not waste water warming it up again.
TOM: That’s an interesting idea. I don’t think there’s a commercial product for that. I’ve never seen it. But if you happen to have a very cold under-cabinet area, I could see where that could potentially be annoying. So your challenge will be just simply to insulate this as much as possible.
Now, along the back wall, where the back of the cabinet is on an exterior wall, if you could add a piece of foam insulation – which is available in all sorts of thicknesses, so it depends on what you have and how you can get it back in there. You’re probably going to have to cut it in pieces. That will help a little bit.
On the bowl itself, one idea that I would have is that you may be able to spray this with foam insulation, like a Great Stuff. Now, there’s two different types of Great Stuff. One is designed to expand and one is designed not to expand. And if you use the one that doesn’t expand, it’s not going to stretch your cabinet frame or anything like that.
It’s the kind that’s designed for windows and doors, because what would happen is people would use the expandable foam insulation in a window or door cavity and then it would swell so much, it would expand so much that the window gets stuck shut where it was. So, if you use the kind that’s designed for windows and doors, you may be able to get – that’s pretty sticky stuff. It may be able to adhere to the underside of that sink.
And so I think this is going to be an experiment to see if you can figure out something that works. So I understand the question but it doesn’t have a straightforward this-is-the-product-designed-for-that, because it’s just not something that I think you’re going to find available. So you’ve got to get creative, which means you’ve got to form your own insulation.
And lastly, you could just take a piece of fiberglass blanket – maybe one that’s encapsulated on both sides; there’s different types of encapsulated insulation – and create your own blanket around there and maybe with a series of zip ties hold it in place.
So I think you’re going to have to design your own, sir, OK? Because I don’t think it’s available commercially.
JIM: So maybe I just get some blue board and glue and …?
TOM: And go for it, yep.
Alright. Good luck with that project, sir. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’ve got Sandra in Maryland on the line and she’s got a really old house and an electrical problem. What’s happening at your money pit?
SANDRA: A hundred-and-three years old.
TOM: Oh. That’s great. That’s a good age for houses. It’s just starting to get seasoned. Settling in a bit.
SANDRA: Oh, it settles a lot.
TOM: Yeah, I bet, I bet. So, has the wiring been updated at all or is it original? Is it knob-and-tube? What kind of wiring do you have?
SANDRA: I have a mix of knob-and-tube and some updated. What’s down in the walls, I think, is still knob-and-tube.
SANDRA: Some of the stuff that’s more out has been replaced.
TOM: And what are you planning to do? What’s precipitating this question? Is this just a general concern about safety? Are you doing some other remodeling?
SANDRA: Well, what I’ve done is started redoing the kitchen.
SANDRA: And I took up the seven layers of linoleum and got all the creosote out and got all the stuff that probably I shouldn’t have been inhaling out of the kitchen. And we sanded the floors and kept the original, old, wood floors. And the paneling in the kitchen I’m not willing to tear down because it’s horsehair plaster behind it. And every time you touch the wall, you hear stuff fall.
SANDRA: So, I’m not willing to replace it. We painted the paneling and I want to put new floorboard trim around. But all of the wiring – it’s those big, black wires that go from one outlet to another outlet.
TOM: Let me give you some advice on this because it is time to update that wiring. First of all, any existing knob-and-tube wiring is very dangerous and here’s why: when it gets to be 100 years old, the insulation on that wiring is very dried out, very brittle, very crumbly. I can’t tell you how many times, in the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, that I found that kind of wiring in a house and often found burn marks – very frightening – burn marks on the framing that surrounded it.
So, you definitely want to deactivate that wiring. You don’t have to physically pull it out of the walls as long as it’s not electrified. And then, of course, you want to update that with new, modern wiring that’s consistent with current electrical code.
Now, for the kitchen, you really want to do something different than what would’ve been done when the home was originally built. It had wiring but it had all of that kitchen, I’m sure, on one circuit. And that’s why an older home, sometimes, when you’re in a kitchen, you often see the lights dim when the refrigerators kick on, because they’re both – major appliance and lighting are on the same circuit.
You want to have one circuit for your appliances – your dishwasher, your refrigerator – perhaps even more than one circuit for that and then a separate circuit for lighting and outlets. And of course, all of the outlets also should be ground-fault protected because this is a wet location. And ground-fault protection protects you from receiving a shock if you were using an appliance that shorted or had any other type of electrical incident that occurred.
So, you are smart to be concerned about this. It is something that you should take care of, whether you do it one room at a time or the entire house at a time. You know, that’s going to be up to time and budget. But you should have on your overall remodeling plan the need to get rid of that knob-and-tube and completely de-energize it, because it is unsafe for the reasons I stated.
And also, by the way, that particular wiring is not grounded nor is it groundable. So that’s another reason it’s unsafe. It’s just the way it was done back then.
SANDRA: I think some of the kitchen had been done because I did have an electrician friend come in and install some new outlets. And he just ran from one to the next and I do have different circuit breakers downstairs and all that kind of stuff. But one of the things that when – I do have – I think the one wall hasn’t been done. I know that sounds odd. But when they have the wires that are out – the big, black wires going across on any of the wires – and I don’t want them to go behind the wall, because they can’t without damaging the wall. Do I need to put those metal covers over them before I can put the trim board down so I don’t …?
TOM: Well, if you have – if you’re talking about the original knob-and-tube wiring being big black wires, you can’t bury that. That’s very unsafe and here’s why: knob-and-tube wiring – the reason – and by the way, for those that are not familiar with this, if you’ve ever seen an old house where wires seem to be strung on little ceramic posts that stick off the side of beams, those are the knobs. And then where the wires go through the framing, there’s a ceramic tube. And that’s the tube. That’s why it’s called “knob-and-tube.”
And the reason that it sticks off the beam, Sandra, is because it has to be air-cooled. So that’s why you can’t bury knob-and-tube wiring under trim. You can’t even put insulation around it because it makes it doubly unsafe.
SANDRA: So if it’s the big, black wire, then I know I’ve still got original knob-and-tube in there.
TOM: I would have your electrician come in and determine where that wire’s being energized, make sure that if it’s knob-and-tube, it is completely disconnected and then run whatever you have to do from there. And if you can only do it one room at a time, you’ll be just that much more safe. But if you could do the whole house, then just do it.
SANDRA: OK. Great. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sandra. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Heading over to Ohio. Linda is on the line with a window question. What can we do for you?
LINDA: In my apartment, it’s supposed to be energy-efficient. But my heating bills – I don’t think I can climb up there and put the plastic on the windows anymore. Is there any other way to make it more efficient?
TOM: It’s a real challenge when you’re a renter because you’re right: there’s only limited things that you can do but there are things that you can do.
Now, you mentioned putting the plastic on there. I’m not quite sure what you’re doing in terms of the plastic but the shrink-film plastic works the best where, essentially, it covers the whole interior of the window space. And then you use a hair dryer once you apply it and it gets really taut and clear. That’s one thing that you can do.
The second thing is that there is a sort of a liquid weather-stripping. It’s like a weather-stripping caulk. And it looks like silicone caulk, right? So what you do with this stuff is you essentially caulk your windows shut. You put it in all the places there’s gaps. And the nice thing is that in the spring, it remains rubbery and you can kind of grab the edge of it and peel it right away.
Now, the only bad thing is this: whatever window you caulk, you won’t be able to open all winter long. So, if it’s a bedroom window, you can’t do it there because you need egress in the event of an emergency. But it works great, especially with really old windows, because it does seal them up and it’s easy to do and it doesn’t damage the windows. It peels right off.
LINDA: Do you have a name or are you not allowed to say it on the air?
TOM: There’s a number of different brands of it. I know that Red Devil makes one, I think DAP makes one and I think there’s also a generic one. And you ought to be able to find it at The Home Depot. And if it’s not on the shelf, I would ask the service desk and describe the product to them. The weather-stripping caulk is what you’re looking for. And perhaps they’ll be able to order it for you. But I have seen it on the store shelves.
LINDA: I’m writing this down.
TOM: Alright. Well, listen, good luck. I hope that helps you out, Linda. I appreciate you calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if your closet is looking a little messy, closet organization might be in order. But that’s really one project that ranks right up there with dental work as something people just do not look forward to. But a completely organized space truly doesn’t have to be that far off.
TOM: Well, that’s right. So, to get started, have an idea of how you want to use the space and what you want to store inside of it. Is it going to be a storage area? A place you keep everyday clothes or a spot to keep formal or off-season garments? Once you figure that part out, then take everything out of the closet and toss, donate or sell what you don’t want. Half of the battle is just emptying that space and finding out what you’ve really got. Then you can determine what you need or use on a regular basis.
LESLIE: And now is the time to organize that closet and select components that are truly going to hold the belongings that you’re keeping. What you choose and how much you spend is going to depend on your design priorities and the amount of closet space that you’ve got to work with. Remember, a great closet system can be a positive selling point when it comes time for you to move to a new home.
TOM: There’s also a whole bunch of closet-organization products at home improvement stores. And organizing your closet can be a fun DIY project that’s going to give you incentive to keep your newly organized space neat as the days go on.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jack in Delaware on the line who’s dealing with a whistling noise coming from his HVAC system and he thinks it’s the furnace.
Hey, Jack. What can we do for you?
JACK: My problem is this. I’m 67 years old. I’ve never had this as – or all the houses I’ve ever owned. But when the heat is on, it sounds like a jet plane taking off through the air ducts. Mostly up in the loft but you can hear it everywhere. So if you’re laying in a bed in the bedroom, in the loft site, and the heat comes on, it can wake you up because it’ll make a whistling sound.
So I called – because it is guaranteed for a year so, naturally, I called them to come take a look at this. I wasn’t home; my wife was. And then when I got home, she said, “They said everything’s fine.” Well, it’s not. So I want to call them back and I’m going to be here when they come back. But I don’t want to sound stupid and I want to make sure I can ask the right question.
TOM: Well, the reason it’s doing that is – it has to do with the installation of the duct system. It’s a design issue. And with some systems, if the ducts, perhaps, are too small, they have too many turns in them, they’re not smooth in terms of their transition from room to room to room, you’re going to get a buildup of pressure that makes this worse.
So, this is a problem of installation.
TOM: It might be that this is a higher-efficiency furnace that has a higher flow than, perhaps, other ones. You might want to talk to them about whether or not the fan speed can be adjusted. I don’t know if that will impact it. But it’s really the duct system, not the furnace, that’s causing the problem. The furnace would probably be quite silent if it wasn’t hooked up to the ducts.
JACK: Yeah. And of course, if they didn’t fix – any ductwork would be just like – they wouldn’t do that.
TOM: I would bring it up with them. But the thing is, you’re not going to be able to rely on any kind of warranty on this. Are you talking about the new homeowner’s warranty – a new homebuyer’s warranty?
JACK: Yes, yes.
TOM: Yeah. In a lot of cases, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. I know a lot about those programs and I’ve got to tell you, they cover builders only if builders get an F. They don’t cover A, B, C and D, you know what I mean? Unless it’s really bad, that’s when maybe something kicks in and even so, the coverage is just not good and the programs are just not solid. I used to arbitrate for some of those years ago and I remember horrific defects that weren’t covered. So, I have no faith in those programs.
You might be better off dealing directly with the builder than trying to go through the warranty company. Because the warranty company is going to have a very specific set of standards that says what is and what isn’t covered. And you’re not required to necessarily, in most cases, go through the warranty company. You can go direct to the builder. And if you’re loud enough and persistent enough, you might get it fixed.
JACK: That’s what – I am going to do that; I definitely want to go to the builder first. I just wanted to go to the builder armed with some kind of knowledge. See, right off the bat, you helped me because I thought it was the furnace.
TOM: No, it’s the duct system that’s causing this.
JACK: Alright. One more thing about the furnace. I won’t hold you. When the air conditioning was on last summer, I had to have a little bucket under this one pipe because it kept dripping. And I called them back about that and they said, “Oh, the insulation around this copper pipe wasn’t tight enough.” And so he did something – and again, I wasn’t home – and left and now it doesn’t drip as bad but it still has a lot of moisture where I keep a rag underneath the thing, just so it doesn’t puddle on the floor. Of course, that’s not right, right? You’re not supposed to have any moisture, correct?
TOM: No, of course it’s not. That’s an active leak even though it hasn’t gone to – become a drip. And it’s going to get worse in the summer when it’s really humid out. So it might just come back as bad as it was before.
Is this a development where there’s a lot of homes that are built?
JACK: Yes, yes. A brand-new development. It’s a 55-and-older development.
TOM: I’ve got some suggestions for you. There’s power in numbers when it comes to that. It’s easy to ignore one homeowner but if you get a few of them together that are having the same issue, it becomes a lot more difficult for the builder to ignore.
JACK: Funny you should say that. We had – one of the owners down the street wants to form a committee to have all our grievances listed and go to the builder.
TOM: Yeah, I think it’s a great idea. And also involve the building inspectors locally in the municipality. Because if the building inspectors know that there’s issues with these properties, they’re going to be a lot more careful about inspecting them. And that’s something that a builder is not going to be happy about and you might just twist his arm enough to address it.
It stinks to have to complain to get something done but sometimes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
JACK: Yeah, well, I’m about to become the wheel. I’m going to squeak then.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Jack. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, from time to time, we hear from many of you stories about contractor experiences that were not too positive. And some industries seem to come up over and over again. And one that comes up pretty frequently is the gutter-guard industry. You’ve been not too happy about what you’ve been charged and how you’ve been treated.
And because of that, I was inspired to invite a friend of mine on the program right now. His name is Tim Carter. You may know him from the Ask the Builder website. And Tim is many things but one thing that he is, more than others, is a consumer advocate. This guy is fierce when it comes to fighting for you. And he did a survey of his audience having heard similar stories, where he asked subscribers to his Ask the Builder newsletter to report to him what they were charged for gutter guards. And the result is a fascinating list of numbers all over the map and all over the country, that tells a real story about this industry.
Tim, welcome to the program.
TIM: Hey, thanks, Tom. It’s a pleasure to be here.
TOM: So, you probably had a sense that there’s a lot of funny business going on in the gutter-guard industry. But man, you really nailed it and exposed it with this survey. Tell us what you found out.
TIM: Well, it’s really interesting. It all got started from one of my subscribers who just reached out to me. And he decided finally, after all these years, to get gutter guards. He was tired of getting up on his roof multiple times to blow out about 300 square feet. So he called – he responded to one of these high-visibility television ads from LeafFilter. And the LeafFilter salesman came, gave his pitch and gave him a price of $18,000.
TOM: Oh, my God. Wow.
LESLIE: Was it like a mansion?
TIM: Yeah. I know. No, it’s just 290 feet, alright? So, anyway – so he just – his comment was just laughable. Just like you did. You and Leslie, it’s just laughable.
Alright. So, that got me thinking. And I had previously – you know, I’ve done so much work on these gutter guards. Ten, fifteen years ago I really started testing them. And I’ve got a lot of videos on my website showing how the different gutter guards – what my test results were. And I finally found a really good one. I found ones that really work. And it’s the micro-mesh ones.
So, I had this relationship with a company and their gutter guards were on both my houses. And they work really, really well. But then I started to get complaints from consumers about high-pressured sales from their viewers.
And I severed my relationship with them because you know me, Tom. My reputation, my integrity means more to me than anything else. And they were none too happy, so I kind of let it go. I didn’t do much more about it.
TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
TIM: And then, when Les sent his email to me about 3 weeks ago, I thought, “You know what? I think I’m going to look back into this.” And boy, did I get the numbers back. Holy tomato. Woo!
TOM: So let’s talk about some of those numbers. What was the range?
TIM: Some of the people, they didn’t quite understand what I asked but that’s OK. So, some people responded back that they went and bought some gutter guards themselves at Costco and did it themselves or hired a handyman. But then, most of the people did respond back with dealer-type installed. So when you look at the dealer-installed gutter guards, you’ll find that the range is anywhere from, I don’t know, $18 all the way up to $90. This one poor lady got literally taken to the cleaners.
TIM: A salesman came in and charged her $9,000 to do 100 feet of gutter.
TOM: I’m looking at this right now. Whiting, Indiana.
LESLIE: That’s insane. That was in Indiana, yeah.
TOM: LeafGuard, 100 feet, $9,000.
TOM: That is just horrible. Just horrible.
Now, beyond revealing the numbers, Tim, the other thing that you did here was interesting. Because you had some folks that wrote you and told you the story of how these guys sort of approached.
TOM: And I picked out one here, which was from Wisconsin, where these folks say that they got a quote from LeafFilter. The salesman started with a $12,951 list price but offered a special discount of $10,451 if it was paid over 12 months. But wait, there’s more. If they paid the day the product was installed, they only had to pay $7,251. And then the salesman calls his manager. It’s like buying a car. “I’ve got to talk to the manager.” The manager comes back with a manager’s special price – is $6,400. So it goes from 12-9 to 6-4 but only if you sign in the next 72 hours, because they want to install it right away.
And that’s just how these guys are. They’ve got to get in the house. They want to try to work you down. I mean the price you’re going to pay is the most they can get out of you.
And Tim, I told you this story. Years ago, I approached one of these guys at a trade show for homeowners and said, “What does this cost a foot?” He said, “Well, we’ve got to come see it.” I said, “Well, what if it’s sort of a basic house, like a ranch?” “Ah, well, I’ve really got to come see. How’s next Tuesday?” I said, “Well, look, what if it’s a 60-foot long range with 4 downspouts and the maximum roof height to the gutter is 10 feet?”
Well, I’m thinking the simplest ranch you can find, right? Nope. Wouldn’t give me the price. They knew if they did that on the spot, I never would have bought them. They wanted to get in the house, they wanted to work me, work my wife, try out all the different emotional tricks and psychological tricks of the trade to get you to sign. And that’s how these guys get away with these numbers, right?
TIM: Yes, it is. In fact, I cover it a lot. I’ve been trained in how to do this. And there’s a really authoritative book that your audience should read. It’s so simple to read. It’s called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. And it goes over all of the psychological triggers that are in every human’s head. And once you understand these, it’s much, much harder for the salesman to take advantage of you. So, it’s – like in the case that you just read, these people in Wisconsin, they were being given reciprocity, authority and scarcity. And scarcity is the most powerful of all of the psychological triggers.
LESLIE: Making you feel like there’s not enough. And if you don’t act right now, you’re going to miss out.
TIM: Well, that’s exactly right. In other words, with scarcity they take away from you. They make scarce the good price, meaning if you don’t sign now then we’re taking this away from you. And you already know how people react to that. Because just in everyday television ads or newspaper ads or whatever or emails that you get, you’ll see a company that says, “The sale ends in 6 hours.”
TIM: And so you go, “Oh, my God, I’ve got to go buy that thing.” Even though you might not really need it, you go buy it.
TOM: I’m thinking of the “remember, call before midnight tonight to get the deal” kind of a thing that they would say on TV.
Hey, listen, Tim, before we let you go – great work on this by the way. One more story I want to ask you about. Another outrageous story. This was the South Carolina guy and apparently, the company LeafGuard advertised that they would use their existing gutters. The guy comes in and he wants to sell them new gutters.
Now, the customer has got 6-inch gutters. And I love my 6-inch gutters because they just don’t clog, because the downspouts are so big. He wants to tear those out and put in 5-inch gutters because he wants to up the price. Unbelievable.
TIM: Exactly. It’s crazy. So I was hoping that as many of my subscribers as possible read all these stories because the poor people out there, they just tend to start – here’s what it is, Tom. You and I both know this. People want to be trusting. They want to trust others. They feel that others are going to treat them like they treat others. And so they start to believe these salespeople. It’s crazy.
TOM: You did a great job exposing these scams.
Tim Carter from Ask the Builder. Encourage you guys to go to his website: AskTheBuilder.com. Sign up for Tim’s newsletter. It comes out just about every week. Always got great tips and advice and stories like this to help you make better decisions as a homeowner.
Tim, thanks again.
TIM: Thank you, Tom. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: You know, Tom, we spent a lot of time talking with Tim about when you hire a pro and what that product should cost per foot. But what if this is something you want to try to tackle yourself? How do you know you’re getting the right price or if you want to hire somebody to install it? How do you know what you’re looking for?
TOM: Well, I think it’s first important to understand what the product really should cost. I mean if you’re going to use, for example, one of these micro-mesh gutter guards that are very, very common and very effective, by the way, you can buy them at Costco across the country for two bucks a foot. They sell a 5-inch version, which is the standard size for most gutters, 199 bucks online. That’s two bucks a foot. So if you know the product costs 2 bucks a foot, how much more should you be paying for installation? Well, it certainly shouldn’t be an extra 20 bucks, right?
So, I think whether you’re doing it yourself or not, understanding what the base cost of the product is important and that you can possibly do this yourself, if you don’t mind the ladder work. But if you have to hire a pro and he wants, say, an extra five bucks a foot to put it up, I think that’s fine. Maybe even 10 if it’s a hard job. But to pay 25, 35, 45 and up to 90, as we found out through Tim’s data, that’s just a total rip-off.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, that’s a good tip. And seriously, if somebody says $90 a linear foot, run. Don’t hire them.
TOM: Hey, guys, if you’d like to step up your bath maybe, say, just in time for the holidays, now is a really good time to enter our sweepstakes. We’ve got the Riverbend Home Beautiful Bath Giveaway at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. We’re giving away 3,500 bucks in products from American Standard and Grohe, all available at RiverbendHome.com.
LESLIE: No matter what your lifestyle, budget or priority, Riverbend Home and their partners can help. Whether it’s a quick bathroom do-it-yourself project or an investment in a luxury-bath makeover, American Standard and Grohe have products for every style and every price range.
TOM: You can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. That’s MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to have the best flower garden ever come springtime, now is the time to take an important first step and that’s planting bulbs. So, to set yourself up for success when the weather turns warm again, here are a few things you need to remember.
First of all, you want to make sure you follow the basic rules of thumb. You want to dig a hole that’s three times as deep as the bulb is high. You need to add bone meal or some sort of substitute, because that’s a squirrel deterrent. Because those bulbs are basically the most delicious treats for squirrels. So make it so that they don’t want to eat them.
And then you need to make sure that you place the bulb in the hole with the tip up. Otherwise, it’s not going to grow out of the ground.
TOM: Now, let’s – good point.
Let’s talk about timing. In general, bulbs should be planted about 6 weeks before the ground starts to freeze or it gets to that first frost. Ideal dates are going to vary by local climate. You can check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which is online.
LESLIE: And now you have to make sure that you’re planting enough bulbs for the size of your garden. So you really need to think about the square footage of the soil for your garden itself and think about what kind of variety of flowers you’re putting in there. So say you’re doing a tulip. You want to think about using six to eight tulip bulbs per square foot. And you can adjust that quantity based on the bulb size. The bigger the bulb, the larger the flower. So you’re going to need more space for the bigger bulbs.
Now, you also need to think about layering those bulbs. So think about when does something bloom and how can you layer things in that garden, so maybe there’s something constantly coming up and constantly blooming throughout the season. I know a lot of it gets a little tricky but if you head to your local home-and-garden center, I bet there are some experts there that you can ask about what you should be planting when so that you’ll have just a variety of color for the whole season.
TOM: Now, if you’ve procrastinated a bit too long and the ground has already gotten hard, there are a couple of things you can think about doing. If the ground is frozen or wet from rain, you can wait for it to thaw or dry weather and then plant the bulbs deeper. Or alternatively, you can plant them in pots and store them over the winter in a cool, but not freezing, dark place like your basement. And water them very sparingly during that time. And in the spring, the pots can just be brought right outside and transplanted to the garden.
Well, you can get your question over to us by posting it on The Money Pit’s website at MoneyPit.com. That’s what Johnny from New Jersey did.
LESLIE: Alright. Johnny writes: “We have oak kitchen cabinets and especially when it’s humid, the doors get tacky and sticky. They’re 16 years old and I probably used some spray item at one time but now I just use oil soap. Can you help me with getting all of this residue off or do I need to strip them down?”
TOM: You know, I’ve heard of this about 3 times in the last 2 months, where the finish turns gooey. And I actually helped a friend of mine redo a kitchen table that had this same kind of problem. It was just a beautiful polyurethane or a lacquer finish. I’m not really sure what it was when he first bought it. But it was 15 years old and the table was in good shape, except the finish was gooey. I think that some of these finishes now, as they’ve changed the formulations, just sort of break down over time.
And in my case, there was no fixing this. We had to strip it all the way down to the wood. So, I’m not optimistic that there’s something that you can clean this with. You could try Murphy’s Oil Soap and I would take a door off to do this, to give it a good rubdown and a good scrub and see if it changes it. But if it’s still tacky and gooey, it might be the finish itself that’s failed, Johnny. And if that’s the case, you may have to strip it down completely.
And then think about repainting the cabinets instead of just refinishing them. It’s really trendy today and they can be absolutely beautiful.
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh, I love a painted cabinet. And I also love when the top cabinets are a different color than the lower ones. Just a thought.
TOM: Well, did you know that the sheets you’re sleeping on can actually impact whether or not you get a really good night’s sleep? Leslie has got tips on how you can choose the best bedding for getting the best shut-eye, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. It really depends on the type of bedding that you have. And luxury bedding does go a long way towards getting a good night’s sleep. But wading through all those thread counts and fabrics really is enough to make you feel like you need a nap. So, before you drop those dollars in upscale linens, know exactly what each one offers and their drawbacks.
Now, bamboo sheets, they are super soft. In fact, sometimes people say they feel like cashmere and they do get softer the longer you keep them. But if they’re from China – and most of the bamboo sheets are – there is a chance that they come from an uncertified factory. So, skip bamboo sheets if all this uncertainty about where they come from is going to keep you awake at night thinking about global warming and deforesting, et cetera. So, there’s a lot there.
Another choice is organic-cotton sheets. They’re really sought after. They are soft, they are durable, they are breathable. They’re good for anybody who gets warm in the middle of the night. But if you love the sight of a crisp bed, you are not going to like the look of Egyptian cotton. It wrinkles very easily, it makes your bed look a little messy and unkempt, which is fine. But if you’re sort of picky about making sure everything is properly tucked and displayed, this is not the bedding for you.
Now, another option are cultivated-silk sheets. And they are truly the ultimate in softness. But even if you can afford to splurge on these very expensive types of sheets, the long-term cost might be more than you bargained for. Because silk sheets, they are easily damaged if you’ve got a jagged toenail or a fingernail or if you’ve got rough skin on your heels or your elbows. So you’re just going to do some damage to the sheets there.
And forget about using your washer and dryer to clean them. You’ve got to hand-wash them or dry-clean them. And if you hand-wash them, you’ve got to air-dry them. So it’s a lot of work to have the silk sheets. But if you do like the idea of a silk sheet – a lot of people like it because it helps deter wrinkles on your face and it keeps your hair neater – opt for a silk pillowcase. Far more manageable.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, coming up next time on the program, with freezing weather ahead, now is a great time to make sure frozen, broken water pipes don’t turn your house into an inside winter wonderland. One very special type of valve can stop it from happening to you. We’ll explain how, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2020 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)