In this episode…
Did you ever notice that some leftovers seem to last a long time and other turns shades of green is an instant? Tom & Leslie explain why that happens and what you can do to make sure your leftovers last.
- Do you ever feel like you’re always having trouble finding the tool you’re looking for? If your workshop or craft space is cluttered, disorganized, maybe even overflowing, a standard toolbox might not be cutting it for you. Get helpful tips for tool organization.
- Hardwood floors are great to have but if yours are worn, how do you know if they can be refinished? Well share tips for a floor redo that doesn’t involve hiring pros with massive sanding machines that turn you home into a wooden “dust bowl.”
- Heating and cooling is one of the biggest expenses of owning a home. We look atone type of system that provides heating, central air conditioning and hot water at over four times the efficiency of any furnace on the market
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about… removing wallpaper and installing wainscotting, repair peeling bathroom paint, steps to installing a tile floor, waterproofing a basement floor.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show.
How are you guys doing today? It’s a beautiful fall weekend in our neck of the woods. I hope it is where you are, as well. We are well into November now, so holiday season is not too far apart, which means you may be getting busy with some indoor projects. But whether your project is inside or out, whether it’s something you want to do or something you have to do in way of a repair, we would like to help.
You can get in touch with us several ways. You can pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll call you back the next time we’re in the studio. Or you can post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, with the holidays coming soon we’re doing a lot of cooking, which I think is kind of weird, Leslie, because we’re not doing a lot of entertaining but I guess …
LESLIE: I’m like, “Who are we cooking for?”
TOM: You’ve got to eat, you know? But I think that means we’re going to have a ton of leftovers, probably more than ever before overflowing in the fridge.
And speaking of leftovers, did you ever notice that some leftovers seem to last a really, really long time?
LESLIE: Well, because the other ones are so delicious you eat them all up right away or – and the other ones just get left in there?
TOM: Maybe, maybe, maybe. But others turn shades of green, seemingly in an instant. Well, there’s a reason that some turn quicker than others and it’s not exactly having anything to do with the food. It has to do with the temperature and the container. We’re going to explain what you need to know, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And if you’re a renter, you’re probably doing that to save money. But we don’t want you to waste it on high utility bills, so we’re going to have some tips on how you can save money heating your apartment, in today’s Smart Spending Tip. It’s going to make you a lot more comfortable and it doesn’t involve any types of major repairs that only the landlord can do. This is stuff that you can do yourself to cut back on that chill and make yourself a lot happier.
TOM: And hardwood floors are fantastic. But if yours are worn, how do you know if they can be refinished? We’re going to share some tips for a floor redo that does not involve hiring pros with massive sanding machines that turn your home into a wooden dust bowl.
LESLIE: And we’re launching a brand-new sweepstakes for all our Money Pit fans. It’s called the Holiday Home Décor Giveaway. It’s presented by Arrow Fastener, who has hooked us up with a dozen sets of tools, worth over $125 each, to give away.
TOM: Yep. You’re going to get tools to help with all your holiday décor and crafts projects, including the T21X Wire Stapler, which I love because you can use it to hang those holiday lights. Enter now at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
But first, we want to know what you want to know. What project do you need some help with? Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions online at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Lynn in Florida is on the line and has some problems with wallpaper. What’s going on?
LYNN: We actually bought a house about 3 years ago that is just a traditional neighborhood home – brick home – but it’s about 40 years old. And there was quite a lot of wallpaper put in the home. It actually was a model home for the neighborhood we’re in.
LYNN: So, it had one owner before we bought it in really good shape. But as we were taking wallpaper down, it’s kind of turned into the wallpaper nightmare. And the wallpaper pulls off part of the sheetrock no matter what product we try to use or how we try to do it.
TOM: Oh, boy. Wow. Mm-hmm. Yep.
LYNN: So, my neighbor across the street bought their home a few years ago and they started using beadboard as opposed to – to cover the wallpaper in their remodel versus trying to take the wallpaper down.
So I have a question about our master bath. Particularly, it has a window in the room, in the small bathroom.
LYNN: So it did not require an air-conditioning vent.
LYNN: It has an exhaust vent but – so I’m wondering if we tried to do the beadboard, would there be a risk of getting mold on top of the wallpaper, but behind the beadboard, because of the lack of really good circulation? Or am I doing something wrong with the wallpaper removal? Or what is your opinion about beadboard?
TOM: OK. Let’s break it down.
Leslie, why don’t we talk about maybe the wallpaper first?
Now, when you have been trying to remove this, you mentioned that you’re doing a lot of different things. Have you rented a steamer before? A professional wallpaper steamer.
LYNN: No, I have not rented a professional one, just because our local home store here charges about $35 a day. And it’s not something I’m going to be able to do in one day. So I thought that price may be prohibitive. My neighbor had one that they did order, that I tried. I also used, I believe it was Piranha; I can’t remember exactly the name of the product. I’ve also used steam, I’ve also used vinegar and hot water with a sponge.
TOM: I mean it may seem expensive but not when you compare it to all the hours you’re putting into this thing.
So, two things. First of all, I’d like to see you try this whenever – I don’t know – whether it’s the bathroom or another room. But try renting a professional wallpaper steamer. And secondly, there’s a real handy, little, inexpensive tool made by Zinsser called a Paper Tiger. And what you do is you roll this across the wall before you steam it and it puts all kinds of little prickly holes in the paper. And what that does is gives the steam all these places that it can get in there and start to work and separate.
LESLIE: That’s underneath it.
TOM: Gets underneath it, yep. So I would try both of those things together, right?
Now, let’s talk about the bathroom itself. You mentioned that it doesn’t have cooling, it doesn’t have ventilation. Or it has an exhaust fan. One of the things that you really should be doing, if you’re working in that space, is making sure you have an exhaust fan that’s on a humidistat, that can be added to an existing exhaust fan or you could replace it. And with the humidistat, you can automatically have it run whenever it needs to so it doesn’t really collect a lot of humidity in that small space.
I’m not terribly concerned about anything growing underneath beadboard – which, by the way, for those who are unaware, is a kind of paneling. But it’s made of cellular PVC, so it’s plastic. But when it’s painted, it looks just like wood. And usually, you use it like wainscoting. You put it halfway up the wall and then maybe do something on top of that.
And then, Leslie, I guess the last thing is that she could paint the wallpaper which, in this case, we don’t like to say do this a lot. But in this case, you’ve got so much of it it may not be a bad step.
LESLIE: I have not favorable feelings for that.
LESLIE: I think, in a pinch, it works. It’s just going to make it harder to eventually take it down later. I think the seams never look cohesive, if you will. They’re always obvious to me. If the paper has any texture or weird sheen or something on it, that’s going to show up. I don’t love that part of it.
LYNN: We actually had one of our rooms – or had the major part of the house painted before we moved in. And it wasn’t until months later that I noticed seams in one of the bedrooms. So the actual one – it had already been painted over, which we didn’t know.
LESLIE: And that’s making it harder.
LYNN: Exactly. So that one I’m not even trying to take down. I kind of have it hidden with pictures. I know.
But my neighbors did a really good job, the people that they hired with the beadboard. I just didn’t know if that was a favorable product. I think it has – it’s gotten real popular, from what I understand.
TOM: Yeah. But not for the entire house. Use it in small quantities but not for the entire place.
Look, if the walls are that bad and you can’t possibly get this wallpaper off, the other thing to do here is you could have all those walls skinned with new drywall. Not ½-inch-thick drywall but you can buy much thinner drywall that’s ¼-inch thick or 3/8-inch thick and go on top of the old drywall.
You know, I live in a very, very old house and I had plaster walls. And in one section of the house, I took all the plaster down, which was a big, stinking mess. Really dirty, dusty job and a lot of work. And in the other section of the house, I said, “I’m going to be smarter this time.” And I skinned the old plaster walls with this new, thin drywall. And that room looks better than the one where I took it all the way down to the studs, because those studs are old and uneven.
So, I think putting another layer of drywall is not a bad solution, either. And certainly, if you’re thinking about putting beadboard up the whole – to do the same thing, this would give you another alternative that would be pretty much the same price.
LYNN: OK. That’s a great idea. I know that my – the handyman I use, when I mentioned beadboard to him, he kind of moaned at it. But he did mention re-skimming with – so that must be what he’s talking about. Because he says he prefers that over wallpaper. So it sticks well? Does it stick well to wallpaper?
TOM: No, we’re not even talking about an application of anything, re-skimming. If he’s talking about putting plaster on it or something like that, no. My answer to that is no. I’m talking about new – brand-new – drywall, 4×8 sheets of drywall, but they’re thinner. The standard drywall is ½-inch. When you’re putting a second layer on, it’s like a ¼-inch, OK? And you have to screw it in place and you have to spackle the seams and paint it and such. But it basically would give you brand-new walls.
LYNN: Gotcha. So it’s actually new drywall; it’s not just going over the existing.
TOM: Yes, ma’am. Correct.
LYNN: OK. Perfect.
LYNN: Alright. Well, thank you for all of your advice and your suggestions. I appreciate the call.
TOM: Well, we’re happy to help you out. Good luck with that project. You’ve got a lot going on there, so don’t get overwhelmed. Just take it on once piece at a time. I look at it like chipping at stone, right? Eventually, you’re going to have a masterpiece.
LYNN: OK. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Heading over to Alabama with Sonny on the line who’s got a question about peeling paint. What’s going on?
SONNY: Yeah. Well, on the ceiling and on the walls of my bathroom, the paint is just peeling off in large pieces there. And I didn’t know what would be the best thing to do – is peel it all off or treat it some other way or whatever to do to it to get that fixed in there.
TOM: Hey, Sonny, when’s the last time you painted the bathroom?
SONNY: Oh, it’s been probably 5 years, at least.
TOM: OK. And this is a new problem then? It lasted 5 years and …
SONNY: Yeah, it just started peeling real – actually, it has peeled a little bit but small pieces, basically. But this is big time.
TOM: Yeah. And when you painted it last time, do you remember if you used a primer on the walls first? Or did you just put another coat of paint on top of what was there?
SONNY: Actually, I just put – had it painted. I had a professional painter to paint it but I don’t know what he did.
SONNY: I didn’t supervise it or anything.
TOM: Yeah. Well, OK. So here’s the thing. Normally, if you’re going on top of an old paint job and if you have any area where you’re concerned about adhesion, especially, or it’s just an old surface, it’s always smart to do a primer coat. Because that’s the glue that makes the paint stick.
Now, when you said the peel that you’re seeing coming off, do you think – is this peeling back to the layer you had before you had it painted last? Or is it pulling deeper layers of paint off?
SONNY: I think it’s just one layer.
TOM: So this all tells me that I don’t think the walls were prepped right and it probably didn’t have a primer applied when they did that job 5 years ago for you. So, unfortunately, you are going to have to pull off all of this old paint, because you can’t put good paint over bad paint. So you need to get as much of this loose paint off as possible. Scrape it and sand it and scrub it and do whatever you have to to get it off.
And then I want you to use an oil-based or solvent-based primer, like KILZ or Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore. Use a good-quality product like that and let it dry really, really well. Now, that’s going to give you a good surface that’s going to do two things. First of all, it’s going to make sure that the next layer of paint you put on there adheres properly, for 5 years and well beyond. Secondly, it’s going to make sure that that new layer of paint flows nicely and smoothly and looks fantastic when you’re done.
And unfortunately, there’s no shortcuts here. You just can’t put new paint over that peeling paint, because it’s just not going to stick.
SONNY: You’re in a different part of the country than I am but what should that cost to get that paint done – that work done?
TOM: Well, certainly, the cost is going to depend on the area of the country, so I can’t estimate exactly what it should cost in your area. And also, I’ve not seen the space. But what I would recommend is you go to HomeAdvisor.com. And on that website, you can fill out a form and they’ll find a contractor for you. And in fact, a number of contractors. I think they give you two or three. And then you can read reviews about folks that have used those contractors and find somebody good there. And then have them come out and give you estimates. Then you’ll have some estimates that you can compare.
But in this case, you’ve got to get rid of that old paint and start over again.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Deanne on the line who needs some help with the windows at her money pit. What’s going on?
DEANNE: I have old, steel-framed, metal commercial windows in my house. And the outside walls are double brick. There’s no wood in the outside walls, so these are screwed right into the brick. And we took out one and replaced it and we had a very hard time doing that. And I don’t know if we should replace them or just try to repair them.
TOM: Well, if you repair them, they’re – I can’t imagine they’re very energy-efficient. So, repairing them and making them operational could restore some of the function but I don’t think they’ll be energy-efficient. Replacing them is a better option but of course, as you cited, because they’re built into the wall it’s a difficult installation because you’ve got to get the old ones out.
So, is this a project you want to do yourself or you think maybe you want to have a pro help you?
DEANNE: I used to have a builder’s license but I – physically, I can’t do that anymore. So I’d probably hire someone.
TOM: Yeah, I think you might want to think about doing that. Because taking out those old, metal windows that are screwed into the brick is an awful lot of work. And also, if you’re going to put replacement windows in, they’ve got to be measured just right and they’ve got to be installed just right so that they don’t leak. And I don’t think you want that responsibility. You ought to have a pro measure them and install them. I think this way, you’ll be assured they come out just right.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, we are super close to Thanksgiving. I’m going to say it’s the yummiest holiday of the calendar year. And I’m really looking forward.
TOM: I’d agree with you on that.
LESLIE: I mean every bite is so delicious. And I have to tell you, if we go to someone else’s house, I then have to make Thanksgiving myself a few weeks later because it’s never as good as my own. Sorry, everybody else.
But you guys, you’re going to do a ton of cooking and then you’re going to have, probably, a bunch of leftovers since it’s just going to be your immediate family in your home or inside your bubble. So, what are you going to do with all of those leftovers? You want to make sure that you’re keeping them safe so your family can actually enjoy them.
So to do so, you want to make sure that your fridge is running optimally. First, you’ve got to make sure that it’s not too cold. You need to keep that temperature between 37 and 40 degrees. You also have to make sure that the seal on that door is airtight so that that cold air isn’t escaping. And the best way that you can test for this is with a dollar bill. You sort of insert it into the door, close the door. And if it slips out easily when that door is closed, that means the gasket isn’t working right, it’s not sealing right.
Now, you can replace those door gaskets for a better seal. Truly, just look up online the model of the refrigerator that you have and you’ll find a ton of places that offer that replacement part.
Now, here’s another idea that you might not have considered. If you want to reduce costs, you need to be sure to cover the food that you’re putting in the fridge. Because the uncovered food, it’s going to release moisture and that’s going to make your fridge work a lot harder. So just keep everything sealed nice and tight, including the fridge door, and you’ll be able to enjoy those.
TOM: And that’s why you really ought to have a really good set of food containers, you know, with the really tight, sealed lids. If they’re the looser lids, it just doesn’t last as long.
Now, it may also seem counterintuitive but a near-empty fridge actually uses more power than a full one. And here’s why: foods and liquids collect and store the cold. So, if your fridge is working harder to maintain that cold when it’s empty, you’re going to be spending more money on that. So you might want to take into consideration how much food you actually store and consider downsizing to a smaller fridge the next time yours needs a replacement.
LESLIE: Rob in Oregon, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
ROB: Oh, I’d like to get some information about putting down floor tiles. I know there’s a right way to do it and a lot of people I’ve seen do it doesn’t look like they’re doing it right.
TOM: What kind of floor tile are we talking about? Are we talking about ceramic tile?
ROB: Yeah, ceramic tile.
TOM: And what are you going to be putting the tile on? Is it a wood substrate or what?
ROB: Yeah, it’s a plywood, ¾-inch over floor joists.
TOM: What size are the tiles that you’re going to put on? Are they small tiles or large tiles?
ROB: They’re 12-inch.
TOM: OK. So the most important thing is that you have a really sturdy base, because tiles don’t bend, right? And if you don’t have a good, sturdy base, you could have those tiles break and crack. Three-quarter-inch plywood is pretty thick but I suspect that you’re going to need to put an underlayment under that tile or to put a wire mesh down and put a mud floor under it, which is the best. Because that absolutely, positively will not move. And the better job you do with getting those tiles on the right base, the longer it’s going to last. If you don’t have a solid base and you start getting some movement, you’ll get cracks in the joint and then you’ll get cracked tile on top of that.
Is this the first time you’ve done tiling?
ROB: Yeah. I’ve seen at Home Depot, they have that ¼-inch snap board and ½-inch snap board.
TOM: Yeah. The snap boards, yeah. And I think that that’s a great idea. In fact, what you – if you put that down, you want to make sure that you overlap the joists – the joints – of the plywood below it. And that would give you a good, solid base. Alright?
ROB: That’s why you probably measure it out, make sure you don’t come up with a little sliver of tile.
TOM: Measure twice, cut once, Rob. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, with the holiday season here, we thought, “Why don’t we get to give away some things that make people super happy?” So, we’ve got the Arrow Fastener Holiday Home Décor Giveaway.
This is a fantastic prize, you guys. It’s a sweepstakes that you have to enter. There are going to be 12 winners that are going to receive a set of tools from Arrow Fastener, worth over $125.
Now, this is going to help you get your house beautified and holidayed up for the holiday season. And one of the great tools in this kit is the GT300 Professional High-Temperature Glue Gun. Now, this glue gun is so awesome, guys, because you can control how much glue is coming out of that glue gun. It’s got the adjustable flow right there. So it’s not ever going to be too much or too little and it’s going to help reduce the risk of that glue getting elsewhere, like your fingers, which is never fun during the holiday season.
So, go online. You can enter today at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. And the winners are each going to get, also, a supply of glue sticks and staples. So, get crafting, guys.
TOM: You can enter once a day, again, at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: Heading out to Columbus, Ohio. We’ve got Rita on the line. What’s going on at your money pit?
RITA: I was wondering about what I can do about the fact that I had some – a new sidewalk put in. And that afternoon, the mailman came and walked in the wet cement.
TOM: Oh, no.
RITA: And he walked – I have footprint tracks and also in the cement and also in my grass.
LESLIE: Oh, geez.
RITA: And I tried to call back the post office and they don’t seem to care about or want to do anything about it. And the guy did it more than once, because the man came and tried to redo it and he did it again.
TOM: Wow. That’s not very nice, is it?
LESLIE: Maybe remind him to look where he’s walking.
TOM: Yeah, really.
RITA: I mean there’s barriers up and everything but he crossed over the ribbons and so forth and just …
TOM: That’s awfully mean, isn’t it?
LESLIE: That’s his signature. He’s like, “I am writing my name.”
TOM: Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you, there is a way to repair these footprints in the sidewalk and it’s a product that’s made by QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. And it’s called Re-Cap – R-e-C-a-p.
Now, Re-Cap is a patching cement that is designed specifically to an existing surface. And it’s really important that you use this kind of product because usually where people go wrong, when they try to patch stuff up like this, is they use regular cement. And then it just separates and falls off after the first freeze.
So, Re-Cap is really inexpensive. It comes in different size containers. There’s small do-it-yourself kits, there’s bigger bags for bigger projects. Relatively easy to do. You just wet the concrete down, you mix this stuff up, you trowel it on the sidewalk. And if – since it’s a sidewalk, it’s going to have a rough finish by design, so you could take a broom and sort of put lines in it. Just sort of sweep it and it’ll leave those little marks in it so you have a little traction.
And if I were you, I would plan on doing this maybe on a Saturday afternoon, after the mail delivery, so it’ll dry by Sunday, you know?
RITA: Talking a good idea.
TOM: And this way, he won’t be able to ruin this. But that’s just terrible. But I think that’s an easy solution to fix this right up, OK?
TOM: Good luck. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
RITA: Thank you for calling me back.
LESLIE: Well, most of us will spend more on heating this winter than we really want to. But while homeowners can do things like purchase new energy-efficient heating systems, add insulation or even replace windows, renters don’t have those same options to improve heat in a home that they don’t own. Or do they?
TOM: Well, actually, renters can make several easy improvements that’ll keep them both warm and keep that money close at hand. We have those ideas, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by Bank of America.
Now, first up, if your apartment’s heating system and rental agreement let you do this, you should install a Wi-Fi-enabled programmable thermostat. That’ll let the heat kick in when you’re home but it’ll automatically dial it back when you’re not. These thermostats are super easy to hook up. And the good thing is that you can replace them with the old ones that you took out originally when it’s time to move out. So, take the old one out, save all the parts, take pictures of the wires where they went. And you can replace it, putting it all back together when you move out. And take your Wi-Fi thermostat with you.
LESLIE: Now, you also want to make sure that all heating registers or radiators aren’t blocked, so that that warm air can flow freely into each room in your apartment. Now, if your unit has radiators, you want to slide heat-resistant reflectors between the radiator and the wall. And then that can help send even more warmth into the room.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about ways to cut back on drafts, especially drafty windows. You want to look for possible air escape routes there and then seal those off with a removable caulk or sometimes called a “weather-stripping caulk.” This is pretty cool stuff because what it basically does is provide a weatherproof barrier against the drafts and the moisture when you apply it. But then it can easily be removed without causing any damage. It’s pretty much like a temporary sealant that pulls right off in the spring.
LESLIE: Now, if the window needs to be open year-round, you can go with weather-stripping, which is also good for doors. You just have to shop at your local home improvement center or hardware store, because there you’re going to find a variety of easy-to-use weather-stripping products that are tailored to different surfaces and different constructions.
Now, because that’s really the key, you’ve got to make it stick to whatever and wherever that you’re trying to put it. So you have to make sure that you buy the right product for the right place.
TOM: And finally, did you realize that all homes have dozens of holes in the exterior walls where cold air seeps in? They do. They’re called “outlets” and “switches.” Just hold the back of your hand against one of those on a windy day and you will feel a jet stream of icy-cold air leaking in, which can make you uncomfortable and drive up the cost of heating.
The solution, though, is super simple. You want to pick up some foam outlet gaskets or some foam switch gaskets. These are shaped like the cover plates on outlets and switches. And they go under the cover plate and they seal those gaps around all of that electrical wiring. And that stops the drafts from coming back in.
So, easy things to do even if you’re a renter. There are lots of ways that you can save money on heating and feel a lot more comfortable in the process.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. We’re all shopping for essentials online these days. Get rewarded for it with the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. You can choose to earn three-percent cash back on online shopping.
TOM: Visit BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding to apply now.
LESLIE: Well, hardwood floors are a real benefit to any home. They add beauty, durability and value when it does come time to resell but they do need to be refinished from time to time.
TOM: Yep. And if that’s the case, how do you know, though, if your floors really do need replacement or just refinishing? Well, there’s a simple test, actually, that can give you some indication of how badly they’re worn.
If you go to a high-traffic area – like maybe where there’s a door in the next room or something like that, where the finish takes a lot of abuse – and pour about a tablespoon or two of water on the floor. Now, if the water forms a bead, the floor is still properly sealed. If it takes a few minutes to seep in and it kind of only darkens the floor slightly, that finish is probably partially worn. You’d better get it scheduled to be updated soon. But if the water soaks right in and leaves a dark spot, it is definitely time to refinish.
LESLIE: Now, if you do have to refinish your floor, it’s a pretty big job. And while you might be able to do it yourself, it’s probably not a project that you’re going to want to tackle yourself. Now, the process is going to start with removing all of that old finish. And that’s one area where we constantly see well-meaning DIYers get themselves into a jam.
Now, the pros are going to use floor sanders for that part of the project. And even if you were to rent one, it does take a lot of practice to get the skills to use it properly. And if you have one slip-up, it means you’re going to be staring at a deep, ugly gouge for pretty much the rest of the life of that floor or that you stay in the house.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: Because I mean it’s so easy. Even if you just get off balance, all of a sudden, it’s like (inaudible) gouge.
TOM: Yeah. And there’s also the vibrating sanders now or disk sanders or pad sanders that you can use. If the finish is not terribly deteriorated, if it doesn’t have a bunch of digs and gouges in it, that’s another way that you can sand it. So what you do there is you rent these machines. And these machines are easy to use, comparatively, to the floor sander, which is a big belt sander. Then you lightly sand the entire floor surface. A lot of them have vacuum bags built in, so it keeps the dust down.
Then you could sort of damp-mop the floor a little bit, just to get the dust off, and vacuum it. Let it dry really well and then you could put, I would say, two to three coats of good-quality, oil-based polyurethane on it. The finish on the oil base is so much stronger than the latex finishes. If you’re finishing a piece of furniture or something like that, I’m OK with a latex urethane. But for the floor, always use the solvent-based or the oil-based and you’ll be very, very happy with the result.
One final point is when they tell you on the can it’s going to take – I don’t know, what? – 3 hours or 4 hours to dry, pretty much double that before you plan on walking on it because it depends on a lot of factors. And letting it dry more is never going to be a bad thing, especially if you’re putting multiple coats on it. If that first coat doesn’t fully dry, the second coat tends to get a little gooey and that’s not a good thing. Because you usually have to bring out the heavy guns to pull off both coats and start again. So, give it plenty of time to dry, especially if it’s damp or chilly out.
LESLIE: Paul in Massachusetts is on the line with a basement question. What’s happening at your money pit?
PAUL: I have a question on waterproofing a basement floor. I have a very, very old house. It’s over 100 years old. I have a fieldstone foundation and I waterproofed that with a product called DRYLOK.
PAUL: But I was wondering what – how do – what would I do for my floor?
TOM: OK. So, why are you concerned about waterproofing? Are you getting water infiltration into that basement space, Paul?
PAUL: Yes, I was, in one area.
TOM: OK. So, waterproofing is not the solution; it’s not the fix for water coming through the walls or through the floor.
TOM: You can put all that stuff on you want and it might slow it down but it’s not going to fix it. You need to fix it and the fix is outside your house, especially if that water comes in consistent with heavy rain or a snow melt. You know, whenever it’s consistent with precipitation like that, it comes down to two things: the grading, angle of the soil around the house. If it’s flat, if it’s pitched back towards the house, it collects a lot of water at that foundation perimeter.
But even more important than that is the gutter system. If you don’t have a gutter system or your gutter system is undersized or clogged or the downspouts are dumping – as most are, frankly – right near the foundation perimeter, right near the foundation corners, you need to extend those out 4 to 6 feet. If you manage the water carefully around the outside of the house like that, you are much, much, much more likely to not have any issues with water infiltration.
PAUL: Even if you live on a hill?
TOM: Yep, especially if you live on a hill.
TOM: It doesn’t matter. With hillsides, sometimes the water is worse because it comes right at the house. And in that case, you need to have what’s called a “swale,” which is where the grade kind of splits to divide the water around it.
But generally, if you keep the water away from that first 4- to 6- to 8-foot perimeter of your house, try to keep that immediate perimeter as dry as possible, you’re not going to get water infiltration.
PAUL: OK. Alright. And don’t even worry about the floor.
TOM: Yeah, don’t worry about the floor. That’s the very last thing you do. You deal with those big things outside with the grading and the drainage first.
PAUL: Very good.
TOM: And then the floor may never be an issue again. Alright, Paul?
PAUL: Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Post your questions to us by going over to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
Now, Michael writes to us. He says, “We’ve got a metal roof and we really like it. But all of the runoff water from the roof is definitely causing erosion. I put some medium pond rocks where the rain is falling. Is that going to be sufficient enough to stop the erosion? Or should I put plastic under those rocks, as well, like making a dry creek?”
TOM: Well, listen, first off, it’s probably best to add weed cloth under the rocks. But I’d also be concerned about all that water potentially impacting the foundation.
Another option might be to run a curtain drain under the grade, just below grade, to catch that runoff and move it away from the foundation. This is a simpler way to move that water off. There’s a product called EZ-Drain that has the drain and the drain tile and all of that sort of built into one piece. You could look into that.
The thing is here you don’t want to have that water collect too close to the foundation. It will disturb the soil. It may cause the foundation to become somewhat unstable. In the winter, it will freeze and push inward – the soil will – when it’s wet. And that can crack the foundation. So you’ve got to collect the water and move it away.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you out, Michael.
Next up, Justin wrote to us. He says, “I just bought a new range and now my other kitchen appliances are looking a little tired, even though they’ve got plenty of life left in them. Is it possible to paint a major appliance?”
TOM: It’s the viral quality of home improvements, right? Once you get on board with those, you just keep going.
Yeah, you can paint them. I would recommend the epoxy spray paints. They have appliance paint that’s made from epoxy. Now, the downside is that it takes a long time to dry, so be patient with it. The upside, though, is it really is a very hard and durable surface. And it will last just as long as the original finish.
LESLIE: Yeah. Make sure, though, that you allow the proper drying time. And don’t start touching everything and getting fingerprints in it. So take the time and do it right.
TOM: Well, there’s no doubt that heating and cooling is one of the biggest expenses of owning a home. But there is one type of system that actually provides heating, cooling and hot water at over four times the efficiency of any furnace on the market. Leslie explains, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, we’re talking about geothermal heat pumps. Now, these harness the Earth’s warm temperature to safely and reliably heat your home. And it does this without relying on any traditional expensive heating fuel, like oil or propane.
Now, a homeowner who decides to make the switch to geothermal heating is going to save, on average, $2,250 per year. And the system is going to pay for itself in 3 to 7 years. And it has a lifetime of 25 years, so it can really be an affordable way to cut your heating, your oil, your propane, all of those bills. I mean you will see a huge reduction in your expenses.
Now, it’s really heating and cooling reimagined. It’s clean, it’s quiet, it’s safe. It’s also nice that you’ll be energy-independent. You’ll never have to wait on heating oil or propane deliveries ever again. You will own your own heating and cooling and there’s something really fantastic about that. Plus, you feel like you’re doing something really great for the planet.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you, guys, for spending this part of your day with us. We hope that we’ve been able to share some good ideas, some good tips to help you get those jobs done once, get it done right and not have to do it again.
If you’ve got questions, you can always reach out to us anytime at MoneyPit.com. Just click on the button to send us a question. You can also call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll get back to you the next time we are in the studio.
Hey, coming up next time on the program, has your electric bill ever given you a sticker shock? Well, finding out how to reverse that trend starts with a solid understanding of where all that power is going. We’re going to have tips to do just that, 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.)