In this episode…
Do you love the colorful trees of fall but dread dragging piles of leaves to the curb – maybe not so much? We’ve got a better idea – why not compost those leaves so they can benefit next year’s garden. Tom and Leslie share tips.
- Now that we are moving into the roughest weather season of the year, it’s a good time to plan for roof repairs or a replacement that might be needed to be done to keep your home nice and dry. But what’s the smartest way to go: repair or replace? We’re going to tell you what you need to know to make that determination.
- With all the holiday meals happening now, have you noticed that when you run your dishwasher, are dishes coming out dirtier than when they went in? Get tips for keeping your dishwasher working properly.
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 welcome to your home improvement happy place. If you’ve got some projects that you’d like to get done and you don’t know where to start, what to do first, you’ve got yourself in a repair jam, you’ve got something that broke and you don’t know how to get it remedied, you are in exactly the right place because it is our job to help you make your house its best ever self. We want to make your house your happy place.
You can help yourself first by reaching out and contacting us with those questions. You can do so by posting your question at MoneyPit.com or on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Or you can always call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, do you love the colorful trees of fall? I do. This is my favorite time of year. But one thing I don’t like is all the work to drag those piles of leaves to the curb. To help, we’ve got a better idea. We’re going to have some tips on how to compost those leaves so they can benefit next year’s lawn and garden.
LESLIE: And now that we’re moving into the roughest weather season of the year, it’s a good time to plan for roof repairs or a replacement that might be needed to be done to keep your home nice and dry. But what’s the smartest way to go about it? Is it a repair or is it a replacement? We’re going to tell you what you need to know to make that determination, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by Bank of America.
TOM: And with all the holiday meals happening right now, have you noticed that when you run your dishwasher, the dishes sometimes come out dirtier than when they went in? We’re going to share some tips for keeping that dishwasher working properly. And once and for all, the often debated family question: do you need to prerinse your dishes before you put them in that dishwasher?
LESLIE: Hmm. I think the debate is still out there and I also think it depends on your dishwasher. I don’t know. I know that’s very sort of in the middle there but it can be either way.
Alright, guys. Also, we’ve got a new way to get some tools in yours hands for holiday décor and crafts. I mean this is the busy season, so we want to help you out. We’ve launched the Holiday Home Décor Giveaway. It’s presented by our friends over at Arrow Fastener. And they’ve hooked us up with a dozen sets of tools, worth over $125 each, to give away to a lucky dozen Money Pit listeners. So check it out at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
TOM: But first, we want to know what you want to know. What are you doing? What are you working on? How can we help? Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Ann is doing some work in the kitchen and looking to add an undermount sink but the counter is wood. Tell us about this project.
ANN: Well, I was more looking for your opinion, whether I should use a wood countertop for an undermount sink. I know they’ve got some pretty good hardwood countertops that may or may not be. But I’m looking for the long haul where – we’re at an age where we’re going to be retiring within the next few years and I don’t want to have to replace something.
TOM: Well, first of all, you’re talking about a wood kitchen countertop here or a bathroom?
TOM: Yeah. It’s …
ANN: For both, actually, but …
TOM: Yeah. Well, if you’re looking for a low-maintenance countertop, you should not be looking at wood. It’s going to be a huge amount of work to take care of. Undermounted sink or not, it’s a lot of work. You know, you can – you’re going to seal it and you’re going to varnish it. And I don’t know if you want to have an area for chopping but that’s a whole ‘nother set of circumstances, in terms of how you treat that, because the finish has to be non-toxic. But it is a lot of work, so if you’re looking for maintenance-free, I would definitely not suggest that.
Leslie, what do you think are probably the easiest-to-care-for countertops these days?
LESLIE: I love a natural-stone countertop but are they the easiest to take care of? Not so much. The composite stones out there – there’s a couple of different brands that you can see. There’s quartz, there’s quartzite. They’re beautiful, they’re durable, they’re easy to maintain and they come in a variety of price points, as well. I think when you go with a solid surface like that, it’s much better for an undermount sink, as far as maintenance and durability. And then if you go with a quartzite product, there’s so many different colors, tones, sort of textures to choose from that you’ll be able to find something in your price point, in a look that you like.
ANN: I’m just looking to push the crumbs into the sink.
TOM: I hear you. Well, you can have an under-counter top and that’s fine. It’s just that I think you called us because you wanted to know if that was a good installation. But then when you mentioned you’re trying to look for something that’s maintenance-free, I’m telling you wood is not. Wood is a ton of work to take care of.
ANN: It’s so pretty, though.
TOM: It is pretty.
ANN: Especially with creamy, white cabinets.
TOM: Yeah. Well, listen, you could have some beautiful wood cabinets but the countertop, I would definitely not go with wood.
TOM: Good luck, Ann. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
ANN: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Heading over to Arkansas. John is on the line. How can we help you today?
JOHN: I have got a toilet that is bubbling up air through the toilet bowl.
JOHN: And I can’t figure out why. It’s been in place over a year and now I’ve got a bubble (inaudible).
TOM: OK. So, what’s happening is you have a blocked vent. Now, when you put in – when you have a plumbing system, they have those vents that come up through your roof. And they let air in so that when the water flows out of the toilet, it’s replaced by air. At some point, there is some obstruction somewhere in your plumbing system that’s causing – that’s interrupting that and forcing the vent to be blocked.
It’s probably something that’s going to have to be snaked out by either a service provider – a drain service provider – or you, if you can figure out where this blockage is. But that’s why you’re getting this passage. And it may not just be in the toilet; it could be anywhere in the plumbing system.
Is the sink and the tub in the same room? Do they drain OK?
JOHN: Yeah. There’s just a sink in there. It’s just a powder room.
TOM: Usually, the way they clear those is they go up on the roof and run the drain snake down through the vent pipes until they figure out what’s going on. Something could have pushed up into that vent pipe or you could have had a bird or a rodent that covered the top of one of those vent pipes. But the vent is blocked somewhere and that’s why it’s struggling for air and that’s why it’s sort of gulping or bubbling, as you describe it.
Alright? So, hopefully, that narrowed it down and you can try to figure it out from there.
JOHN: Appreciate your help.
LESLIE: Pam in Vermont is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?
PAM: I have an oak staircase. You walk in my front door and the slate – there’s a slate walk with an entryway and then there’s an oak staircase going upstairs. It’s really pretty but I’m scared to death kids are going to just slide right down the whole staircase and end up on the rock. I found some spray stuff. And it looks like they put sand in clear paint. And I’m wondering, if I put that on, am I going to ruin the staircase?
TOM: There’s a line of products called SlipDoctor and they make products for wood, for vinyl, for stone. And with any of those products, what I would suggest you do – because you want to make sure that it’s going to clean well after it’s on, it’s not going to attract dirt. So, try it in an inconspicuous area, like maybe your neighbor’s house?
PAM: I could do that.
TOM: And see how it works. No, try it like, I don’t know, in a closet or even take – get a board, finish it with urethane and spray it on the board, see what it looks like. And really test it out before you commit your staircase to it.
LESLIE: Yeah, my concern is that – how difficult would it be to clean? It’s like you’re taking, oh, a shiny, wood surface and now making it textured. Is dust and dirt going to stick in there? But it’s a staircase, so how much do you get there? You’ve really got to give it a test run.
TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t want it to be tacky all the time, you know? You wouldn’t be able to dust.
PAM: No, I wouldn’t want it to be tacky but I also want to make sure that they – my kids are barefoot half the time, too, so I want to make sure they can still walk on it.
TOM: Yeah. And the other thing that you can consider doing, though, is you could add a carpet runner right down the middle of the stairs. Have it professionally installed so that the center of the step has a carpet runner on it and the sides are still exposed. That’s kind of the way we did our staircase in an 1800s house and it takes that issue away. It’s not slippery. You walk up the carpet in the middle of the stairs and you can still see the finished railing on the edge of the step – the edge of the treads.
PAM: Yeah. So I think maybe that would be a good solution if the other doesn’t work.
TOM: Good luck with that project.
PAM: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nelson from Delaware on the line who needs some help sealing a driveway. Tell us about the project.
NELSON: Yes, I was wondering whether I should get a sealer of the oil- or water-based.
TOM: Well, I think that the latex sealers today are actually quite good and I would recommend that you do that, especially if it’s a do-it-yourself project. Not a difficult job. We have, actually, step-by-step instructions on how to take that on, on MoneyPit.com. So you can look that up on our website.
Now, it’s getting chillier out, so you have to pay attention to the temperature. Normally, you can do this when the temperature is still above around 50 degrees or 55 degrees, although I am aware that at least one manufacturer at Home Depot has a low-temperature product that I think you can apply down to about 40 degrees. So, right now, you can get that done on a sunny Saturday or Sunday. It doesn’t take long to dry. So, I think it’s entirely possible to do it right now.
And what you’re going to want to do is buy the driveway sealer. You’re going to want to clean the driveway according to the instructions that they provide you. Let that dry really well. Apply the sealer. You’re going to buy a squeegee – a driveway-sealer squeegee – which is about as wide as a push broom and it’s got a squeegee end on it. Makes it really easy to kind of trowel that out across the driveway surface. And then put up some yellow tape or a couple of traffic cones and keep people off the driveway for a couple of days and you should be good to go for the winter.
NELSON: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Tracy in Ohio is on the line with a question about storm windows. How can we help you today?
TRACY: My condo is fairly new. But the way that my – the front of my condo faces, where the weather blows in – I don’t know if it’s east or west but last year, I tried the strip thing and the plastic. And it – and the wind blew so hard that it came loose. So then I tried duct-taping it and yeah, it didn’t work at all.
So I’m wondering – we can’t put storm windows on the outside because of the condo-association rules. But I’m wondering, is there a company that makes something that goes on the inside of the windows: something magnetic or something that could help?
TOM: Well, you certainly can get interior storm windows. It is a product that’s available from – many window manufacturers will – you can order it, probably. I would go to a regular window company and order these. But there’s different types of interior storm windows that are available.
The other thing that you could do that’s really cheap, especially if these are windows that you’re not going to have to open – we don’t like to recommend this for a bedroom window but for other windows because, of course, in a bedroom, you may have to open it for emergency egress, fire hazard, that sort of thing – is you can get a weather-stripping caulk. It’s a weather-stripping product that’s in a tube, like a caulk tube.
And you, essentially, caulk the seams of the window shut. And the thing about the weather-stripping product is in the spring, you peel it off and it doesn’t damage the windows. It looks like that sort of white, gooey stuff that they stick credit cards to offers in the mail when you get the credit card and it’s on the back of the card? It’s like that rubbery stuff? It just peels right off and it doesn’t damage anything.
So, that’s something that maybe you haven’t tried yet; you could give it a shot. And then, of course, if you want to go with maybe a more permanent solution, you could order interior storm windows and have them made.
TRACY: Well, I could squirt that stuff on there and then in the spring, I could peel it back off?
TOM: That’s correct. Yep. Unlike regular caulk, this is a temporary caulk.
TRACY: Wonderful. That sounds wonderful. I will give that a try.
TOM: Yeah, DAP makes a product called Seal ‘N Peel – the letter N, Peel. So, look it up. You might have to order it in a home center or a hardware store but it works great.
TRACY: Alright. I will try that. Thank you.
TOM: Tracy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you love the colorful trees of fall but are not so much dragging all those piles of leaves to the curb, well, here’s a better idea. You can compost those leaves so that they’ll benefit next year’s garden.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, leaves make really great compost because trees pull nutrients from deep beneath the soil. And by adding those leaves to your compost pile, that compost is going to contain nutrients that garden plants can’t typically reach on their own.
Now, chopped-up leaves tend to stay put better than the whole leaf, since there’s less surface area for that wind to catch. It’s also a good idea to store bags of dry leaves in a shed or maybe even another covered area until springtime. And as long as they’re dry and crackly before you bag them and then stay dry in storage, they’re going to be ready for mulching for your flower beds and your garden come next spring.
TOM: Now, leaves are also good for insulating plants, to protect them from the big temperature swings in the winter. And those leaves are also going to attract earthworms that will help break down the leaves into beneficial leaf mold and then compost to create the perfect garden soil: nutrient-rich, loose, friable and very well-drained.
You’ll have even more reason to enjoy those gorgeous autumn leaves knowing they’re going to have a second life as compost for next year’s garden.
LESLIE: We’ve got Dana in Massachusetts on the line who’s dealing with some peeling paint. Tell us what’s happening.
DANA: Yes. On our north side, where it gets very little sunlight, we were painting it. It was painted before but we were repainting it and – where it was chipping. And we did put down some primer first and then we painted it and then it starts – it keeps bubbling and chipping after we’re done painting it.
TOM: Wow. So even though you’re – even though you put down primer, it still seems to keep separating. Is it separating from a layer deeper than the primer coat? Because sometimes, with multiple coats of paint, it’ll break down deeper in the surface, like one of the earlier coats of paint.
DANA: I don’t think it is. Someone said that what they thought might have happened is the first time it was painted, that the painters might have painted it – I don’t even know if they put primer down. They might have put one coat and they might have painted it right after a rainstorm, when the wood was still wet.
TOM: Well, maybe, maybe not. But the thing is, if they didn’t prime it, then that’s the reason it’s separating. Primer is always really important because it really makes the color coat stick, so to speak.
TOM: So if you’ve got peeling paint, there’s no way that you can go over that with new paint, because you can’t put good paint over bad paint. It’s just going to continue to peel.
TOM: So you’ve got to get down to a surface that’s below all that loose stuff.
Now, if it’s a big area, you can prime the whole thing. If it’s small areas that are sort of separated, then you can do what’s called “spot priming.” And just to be absolutely certain, I wouldn’t – when you go to the home center or the paint store, I would get a bonding primer, which is very adhesive and it really sticks to those old surfaces no matter what’s there. And then, once that’s all set up, then you can go ahead and put another finish coat on top and you should be good to go.
DANA: So we’d have to completely strip the paint, is what you’re saying, and then put down …?
TOM: I am. Yep, I am. Unfortunately, if it’s not sticking, it’s not sticking. You just can’t go over it. It’s just going to be worse.
DANA: Bonding primer you said? And then paint it again?
TOM: Yes, exactly.
DANA: OK. Alright.
TOM: And that’ll solve it. Yeah, you’ve got it, Dana. Good luck with that project.
DANA: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to Tennessee where Jean has a stucco question. What’s going on? How can we help you?
JEAN: Well, the house was built in 1914. And the outside exterior walls are covered with stucco that has the kind of swirly bumps where they throw the trowels on it. And it looks like it’s in good condition, so I was thinking we could probably just spray it a nice color. It’s still kind of golden like it used to be. But wherever the branches of the shrubs went against it, it’s kind of yucky and gray-looking.
But I know that when we painted our patio slab, we had to do some treatment to it before we could paint it. Does stucco need some preconditioning besides just hosing it off with soap and water?
TOM: Well, the first thing you need to do is to make sure that there’s no algae attached to it. And so I would probably do a very light pressure-washing and cleaning of the outside of the house and let it dry for a good couple of days in warm weather. And then I would prime it with an oil-based primer and then I would use a good-quality, exterior topcoat paint over that.
You can’t cut any corners here; you can’t take any shortcuts. But if you do it once and you do it right, it’s going to last you a long time, because that siding is not organic. You may find very well that paint can last you 10 to 12 years, as opposed to maybe 5 to 8 if it was wood.
JEAN: Alright. Well, thank you.
LESLIE: Hey, you guys. With the holidays right around the corner, what are you working on? Are you making some crafts? Are you doing some homemade projects this year or are you getting your house ready to entertain for your bubble of family and friends? Well, we have got a great thing to help you guys out.
We’ve got the Arrow Fastener Holiday Home Décor Giveaway. Twelve lucky winners are going to receive a set of tools from Arrow Fastener, that’s worth over 125 bucks, to help you with your home improvement, your holiday décor and your crafts.
And it’s a great prize pack, you guys. One of the best tools in this pack is the GT300. It’s the Professional High-Temperature Glue Gun. It is perfect for holiday crafts but also perfect for light upholstery projects, putting all sorts of different projects together, repairing things. You can do so much with the glue gun and I love that you can control the temperature and you can control the flow. It is the best glue gun on the market.
So enter today at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes for your chance to win.
TOM: That’s MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: Joyce in Missouri is on the line with a grout question. What can we do for you?
JOYCE: Hi. I have ceramic tile that I have had down for a few years. And I have – the grout is a charcoal color with a black-and-green tile. And the charcoal has dulled over the years and looking almost chalky. What can I do? Do I have to pull all that grout out and regrout it? Do I need to paint it or what can I do to give it new look of life?
TOM: Well, the grout is pretty easy to replace. There are special tools called “grout saws” that you can use to carve out the grout and then put new grout over sort of where the old grout was. You don’t have to get it all out but you’ve got to go down at least an 1/8-inch or so. And so, if your real concern is the grout and the condition of the grout, I think that’s the easiest way to deal with that.
JOYCE: OK. So that’d be – the best way to make it look fresh and new again is just take the top layer off at least an 1/8-inch and just regrout it?
TOM: Yeah. Make it look fresh and new by putting in fresh and new grout.
LESLIE: Yeah. And then make sure you seal it.
TOM: Right. Yeah, that’s key. You want to seal it first.
LESLIE: Otherwise, it’s not going to look fresh and new for so long.
JOYCE: Seal it after I put new grout in and let it dry? Then seal it and then we’re good to go?
TOM: Right, exactly.
JOYCE: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, guys, now that we’re in the roughest weather season of the year, moving into winter, it’s a good time to plan for roof repairs or any replacements that might be needed, so we can keep your home nice and dry for the season. But what is the smart way to go? Is it a repair or a total replacement? We have that answer, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by Bank of America.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you’ve got to evaluate the wear and tear. Now, roof shingles are generally cotton or glass fiber and then that’s covered with an asphalt coating. Now, as the sun heats the roof, that asphalt is going to dry out. So you’ve got to check your roof for signs of wear and tear. You want to be looking for anything that looks cracked or curled at the edges or if you notice any broken shingles. Those are all signs that you need to make some work to the roof.
Now, if you’ve got a worn section and maybe it’s just limited to a small area, you can think about repairing it. But if the entire roof is looking this way, you really have to start thinking about a replacement.
TOM: That’s right.
Now, next, it’s important to understand layers. If you do need to replace your roof, you can usually add one additional layer of shingles for a total of two layers. Now, if you’re doing a tear-off, though, it’s not such a bad idea, even if you only have one layer down, because those second roof layers do not cool well in the summer and they’re going to wear out much quicker than just having a single layer of shingles on top of that roof.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right.
Now, if you do have a leak in your roof, you’ve got to check the flashing, as that could really be the only cause of the leak. Now, if the flashing is loose or even deteriorated, it’s probably responsible for most of those roof leaks. So you really have to check that out, because that’s not a terrible fix either.
TOM: That’s right.
Now, lastly, if you do need a new roof, you want to make sure you improve your roof ventilation at the same time, because cooler attics are going to help keep the roof cooler. And the cool roofs are going to last a lot longer.
Now, the best way to do that is with passive vents. These are vents that don’t use any energy and they’re really better than active vents, like attic fans, for example. One of the best combinations is to do a continuous ridge-and-soffit-vent system. These vents are inexpensive and they can usually be added to a house of any age.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by Bank of America.
Now I’ve got Jay on the line who’s got a question about a three-season room. What’s going on over there?
JAY: Building a three-season room and I want to use passive solar – you know, the sun – coming in. And I want to – it’s concrete foundation. And I was thinking of putting a 2-inch rigid foam so it’s above ground. And then the 2-inch – above the 2-inch rigid foam is about a 2-inch layer of concrete. Then I want to use red terracotta on top of that so when the sun hits it, it absorbs the heat and absorbs the concrete. And I’m thinking of the insulation – it wouldn’t – it would keep there.
TOM: You’re talking about only using 2 inches of concrete in the floor on top of the foam?
JAY: Well, it’d be on dirt floor.
TOM: Yeah. But you need more than 2 inches of concrete. It’s not going to be self-supporting if it’s just 2 inches. If you get any movement, that’s going to crack. So I think you have to put the foam insulation down first and then woven-wire mesh and then at least 4 inches of concrete so that it doesn’t crack and so it’s dimensionally stable.
Now, what kind of windows do you have in this? How are you going to get the solar gain into this?
JAY: Oh, well, that’s my second question. What do you have for ideas?
TOM: Well, a common mistake that people will use is they’ll use low-E windows, which we always recommend. The problem is that if you use low-E, you’re not going to get any heat gain at all, because low-emissivity inside the gas of – that makes up the thermal-pane windows is going to reflect the heat back out.
So, rather than relying on the entire section being heated just by the sun, you might just want to consider making this as insulated as possible and then adding a minimal amount of heat supplemented by the sun. Because you’re going to need something, because it’s not going to be heated by the sun all the time.
TOM: So I would just make a really well-insulated structure here. If you can orient it to the south to take up the heat of the sun, that’s great. But remember, what heats that room in the wintertime is going to heat it in the summertime, as well.
JAY: That was great help, guys. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carolyn from Ohio is on the line and has a noisy neighbor. I mean her siding is being noisy. What’s going on?
CAROLYN: The siding is just noisy. The second floor. You can hear it when you walk through the bedrooms. You can hear the siding.
TOM: It’s vinyl siding?
CAROLYN: It is.
TOM: So, vinyl siding is not supposed to be nailed securely to a home; it’s supposed to be nailed loosely. That’s why, if you look at a piece of vinyl siding, it doesn’t have holes in it; it has slots. And it has to be nailed loosely because the siding is designed to expand and contract when it’s exposed to the sunshine. It has a pretty high expansion-and-contraction rate, as a matter of fact.
I haven’t really heard anyone complaining about noise from it but I do think it would make sense that if you were in a windy area, perhaps you might hear some of that. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good solution for you because you cannot tighten it up. If you do, you’re going to start getting buckled areas. And if you start driving around neighborhoods that have vinyl siding in the summer, have you ever seen a house that’s just got all this sort of wavy siding on it? That’s what happened: it went on too tight and it buckled.
So, if it’s moving, it’s put on correctly. One way to check is to take a piece and just put your hand on it and just try to slide it back and forth. The boards actually should slide if they’re installed properly.
CAROLYN: OK. I’ve had people out to look at it, to fix it. And they say that that – it’s OK. Because I always worry that it’s flying – it’s going to fly off the house or something.
TOM: Yeah. No, don’t worry about that because, like I said, it’s supposed to be loose.
CAROLYN: OK, OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Carolyn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So, when you run your dishwasher, are some dishes coming out dirtier than when you put them in? Well, the culprit could be a clogged drain valve and that’s an easy fix.
Now, your dishwasher drain valve should only open during that draining cycle. But if it’s clogged, it’s also going to let water out during the wash cycle. So you’ve got to listen carefully when that dishwasher is in the wash cycle. And if you hear water flowing into the sink, that drain valve is definitely clogged.
TOM: Now, also, you want to check the bottom of your dishwasher for a buildup of food particles. Many dishwashers have sort of a ball-style check valve that can get gummed up or prevent the dirty water from draining out of the unit. And a wet/dry vac is all you need to clean out those hard-to-reach areas and get that drain working again. You know, it’s just like if you had a regular vacuum and you’re picking up a pile of dirt. Well, with a wet/dry vacuum, you could pick up that wet gunk. It is super, super easy.
So the bottom line is it’s not hard. With a couple of steps, you can make those clogs go away. Your dishes will come out clean once again.
And hey, to the question of do you need to prerinse dishes, does that have an impact on it? Leslie, I think your answer was it depends on the dishwasher and you’re right on that, in the sense that most new dishwashers now have something called a “turmidity (ph) sensor,” which is a fancy way of saying it knows how dirty the dishes are. If the water is super muddy and dirty, then it runs longer and adjusts the cycle to get rid of that extra gunk. So if you have a newer dishwasher, you probably don’t have to prerinse. But if you have an older dishwasher, then you should.
LESLIE: It’s funny. I always find that the kids like this broccoli dish that I make, which has nothing cheesy or sticky in it. It’s basically just broccoli with garlic and olive oil and a little bit of chicken stock. And whenever I put the Tupperware from that in the dishwasher, it never comes out clean. So I either put that through two or three times or just end up handwashing it. But it’s just – it’s some things with our dishwasher. So I really think it’s a – you’ve got to sort of judge it on a case-by-case scenario. But if they’re all dirty, definitely check this out.
John in Arizona needs some help venting a water heater. Tell us what you’re working on.
JOHN: I’m going to install a tankless hot-water heater and I’m curious – a gas tankless hot-water heater. Curious if there’s any simple way to vent it on the interior wall of the house.
TOM: Well, you obviously have to get that exhaust out. So, that means you’re going to probably have to go up if we’re on the interior wall of the house. You can’t downdraft something like that. So, you need to be on a space where you can get that vent pipe up through the interior wall, up to the attic and out through the roof.
Now, depending on the efficiency, that may not have to be a metal vent pipe. It could potentially be a plastic vent pipe. But that’s going to depend on the efficiency of the water heater and whether or not it’s a condensing version, which basically takes as much heat out of that – out of those gases, so all that’s left is basically water vapor. And then that can vent out of a plastic pipe. But you do have to have it vented.
The other thing that you could do is you can direct-vent those. So, you could go out, say, through a side wall. Many times, I’ve seen those mounted on an exterior wall and they basically turn right through the wall and go right out. Now, there are rules about how close that vent termination needs to be or more accurately, how far away that vent termination needs to be from a window. But you can direct-vent those, as well.
JOHN: Right. From the top of your head, do you know the smallest diameter I could get away with on venting it?
TOM: No. I don’t know the specification precisely but I would guess it’s around 3 inches. I’ve seen these come through roofs many times. It’s usually around a 3-inch vent pipe.
JOHN: Right. OK. Well, that answers my question. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, John. Well, good luck with that project. I think you’re going to enjoy a lot of efficiencies with a tankless water heater, in addition to the fact that you’ll never run out of hot water.
LESLIE: You can always post your questions at Facebook.com/MoneyPit, just like Michael did. Now, Michael writes: “Hello. I listen to your show a lot and I have a question.”
First of all, thanks, Michael, for that.
He lives in New York and – “Recently had an electrical inspection done for our new pool installation. The inspector approved the electrical work but noticed that my main copper water line isn’t grounded. Is this something I need to do and what is the point of grounding a water line?”
TOM: You know, it’s kind of the other way around the way he’s explaining this. Because, typically, if you have a metal copper water line, you ground your main electric service to that water line because that copper pipe then goes to ground, right? It goes outside continuously and it goes to the soil. And grounding, of course, is important because if there’s any electrical short, you want to divert that current to a ground source.
And you make a good ground source, by the way. But if there’s a nice, big, metal stake in the ground, that’s a much better ground source. So it’s much safer to do it that way.
So, I think you need some further clarification here, Michael. But typically, when you have an electrical panel and an installation, even a sub-panel, it’s got to be grounded. And one of the places that they’re often grounded are to metal service-entry pipes. Today, though, it’s becoming less common because a lot of the service-entry pipes are either plastic or PEX, a type of plastic. And of course, that doesn’t conduct electricity. So in that case, you actually install a grounding rod, which is a long, metal pipe or a stake, as you say, that’s driven into the soil. And then the cabling is connected to that.
So, it’s a fair point. I’m a little bit surprised that he passed the electrical inspection even though there was an issue about grounding, especially when it comes to the pool. So I would definitely, before you use that pool next summer, make sure you get this addressed because it’s very important that the electrical system be properly and completely grounded.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from John who writes: “Can you offer any ideas on why all of our carpets are buckling in the center? It started happening about 3 or 4 years after installation. We’re thinking they didn’t stretch them right in the first place.”
TOM: Possibly. Less expensive, less – a lower-quality carpet, perhaps, as in a new-home construction, they stretch a lot more than better-quality carpets. And if it wasn’t stretched well to begin with, then it also could lead to it. If you had a fair amount of wear and tear – maybe you’ve got a lot of kids running around and they’re kind of stretching the carpet just by walking around it. It depends on the padding.
And I don’t know exactly why it happened but I do know that you can’t let it go this way, because it’s going to get unsafe. So to fix this, what I would do – and I’d probably just do this once, right, because it may stretch more after this. I would have all the furniture taken out of the room and I would have a carpet installer come on over. They use a tool called a “knee kicker” that basically grabs the carpet and pulls it closer to the wall. They may pull an inch or 2 or 3 or 4 inches out of that carpet and then they’ll cut the trim, resecure it at the wall and it’ll be straight once again.
But if it happens after that, I wouldn’t do it more than once. It’d be time to think about getting some new carpet.
LESLIE: And you know what, John? There’s so many beautiful options in carpeting right now. I mean you really can’t go wrong. So if it doesn’t work out, happy shopping.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thanks so much for spending this part of your fall weekend with us. We hope we’ve been able to help you get ready for your next home improvement project, perhaps your next family gathering. Thanksgiving is next week and folks are going to be having their small bubble of family and friends over to celebrate and be thankful for what we do have.
We are thankful for you and we hope that we are bringing value to you and to your family and your home.
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.)