If your walls are showing cracks, holes or nail pops – we’ve got tips to get them back in shape once and for all. Plus…
- If you’re tired of shoveling after every storm — a snow blower can do it for you! But they’re not one-size-fits-all – we’ll tell you how to choose the best snow blower for the job
- Have you ever been surprised by a big electric bill? We’ll share the most common places energy is wasted – in today’s Smart Spending Tip
- Thinking about purchasing a home from another era? It’s actually possible to predict what might need work – based only on the age! We’ll share the common repairs by house age.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, eliminating hard water, squeaky hardwood floors, repairing trim that has been scraped by animals, venting your appliances.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are so happy to be here with you today, helping you improve your home, improve your space inside and out, up and down. Whatever area that you’d like to step up, we’re here to give you a hand, to give you some guidance, to be your coach, to be your enthusiast, to give you some skills that maybe you didn’t have. And maybe you were afraid to do the project, didn’t know where to begin. Maybe you’re just totally frustrated and need to just talk it out.
We’re both certified at home improvement therapy, right, Leslie? So we can handle those sensitive conversations, as well.
But whatever you’re working on, we would love to give you a hand. There’s a couple of ways to get in touch with us. You can post your questions at MoneyPit.com. You can also reach out to us by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and comment your question there.
Coming up on today’s show, if your walls are showing cracks or holes or the dreaded nail pops where the nails look like they’re falling right out of the wall, we’re going to have some tips to get them back in shape once and for all. We’re going to show you how to make these repairs so they don’t happen again. Because it’s kind of a déjà vu thing that you make it once and then, you know, weeks or months later or the following heating season, it opens up again. We’re going to tell you how to stop the cycle and get them fixed.
LESLIE: And if you’re tired of shoveling after every storm, a snow blower can do it for you. But they’re not one-size-fits-all. We’re going to tell you how to choose the best snow blower for your job.
TOM: And we’re moving into that part of the year: opposite the summer-cooling season. This winter-heating season is when we start to see spikes in electric bills. But there are actually a few things that you can do this time of year that can reduce those bills rather dramatically. And we’re going to go through that checklist in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
LESLIE: Plus, are you hoping to see some tools under the tree this season? Well, we have the Holiday Home Décor Giveaway going on, right now, at MoneyPit.com. It’s presented by Arrow Fastener and they’ve hooked us up with a dozen sets of tools, worth over 125 bucks each, to give away to a lucky dozen Money Pit listeners.
It includes the new P21 Plier Stapler. It’s perfect for all of those holiday gift bags.
TOM: Check it out at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Heading out to Tennessee. We’ve got Gwen on the line. What is going on at your money pit?
GWEN: My water heater had – the element, we thought, had burned out. And so I had someone come and look at it. Was going to replace the element and he said, “Well, it’s clogged up.” And he couldn’t get it unclogged and he said, “We’re going to have to just pull this heater out and drain it, turn it on its side.” And what came out of the water heater was a gelatinous whatever.
TOM: Let’s call it by its technical name: “gunk.”
GWEN: Yeah, gunk was a good word. But I mean it was a lot of it and it wouldn’t – he couldn’t get it out until he turned the water heater over on its side and turned it around. And it was liquid and then it was just like this gel stuff.
TOM: Yeah, OK.
GWEN: And so, anyway, I have a water system – a Kinetico water system.
GWEN: And so, my thinking is – OK, I’m on a well. I should have said that.
GWEN: If water is coming from my well, through my water system that’s supposed to be filtering everything before it comes into the house – the Kinetico people don’t know what it is.
TOM: Right. Yeah.
GWEN: He first thought it was white slime but they checked all of my fixtures, commodes and everything and said, “No, it’s not white slime.” But he couldn’t – he didn’t know what it was, so he just hasn’t gotten back to me.
TOM: Well, listen …
GWEN: And I wondered if you all had heard of that.
TOM: No. But it sounds to me – before you’d even told me that you had run well water, I kind of knew what it was. I think it’s hard water. And I think what you’re seeing are mineral deposits that are settled into the bottom of the water heater.
What kind of water heater is this? Is it electric or gas?
GWEN: It’s electric.
TOM: OK. So, a lot of that stuff just settles down to the bottom. And I – and what happens is sometimes – in a gas water heater, especially – it ends up making it very inefficient, because the gas heat doesn’t get through all that stuff as efficiently.
How old is this water heater?
GWEN: It was only about 5 years old.
GWEN: And actually, what I did was – the contractor said I would be cheaper – I would be saving more money if I had just got a new water heater instead of him taking the time to try and get that stuff out of the one that I had.
TOM: Yeah, right.
GWEN: And so I bought – this was last year.
GWEN: And so, even – and he told me I need to drain it every 6 months.
TOM: Right. Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. You do need to drain it.
So you’ve got a drain at the bottom and you’ve got a little valve there. So you hook up a garden hose to it. And remember, it’s going to be hot so I would even maybe suggest turning the water heater off. You can turn off the breaker at your main panel maybe at night and in the morning, you can drain it or whenever – or turn it off in the morning and at night you can drain it. And then just open that valve up and let the water flow. And if you do it every 6 months, it’s going to wash away all – any minerals that are stuck down there.
It would be worth having a look, also, at the water-treatment system to make sure the water-softener portion of that is working correctly. Because I think with all those mineral deposits, probably more hard water is getting through than should. But if you flush it every 6 months like that, I don’t think this is going to happen again. I think you were just looking at 5 years of buildup.
GWEN: But that – with it being hard water, that would make it that jelly-type texture?
TOM: Yeah, because it’s minerals and it’s mixing with water and it’s going to sort of stick together. So, yeah, it can get gunky like that.
GWEN: OK. Good. Well, I hope that’s all it is. But you would think that the people who sold me the water system would think of the hard water.
TOM: Well, you would hope. But here’s something that you can do, also. You can – why don’t you just take a water sample and send it off to a testing lab? You can find one online or find one in the area. Don’t use the water company to – don’t use the Kinetico people to test it; get an independent test.
TOM: And this way, you’ll know if that system is working – really working properly and filtering out all the contaminants.
GWEN: Good idea. I will do that. Hey, I enjoy your show.
TOM: You’ve got it, Gwen. Have a great day.
LESLIE: Alright. Heading to New York where we’ve got Ross on the line. What’s going on at your money pit?
ROSS: When we bought the house, there had been prior leaking in the cellar, underneath a cellar window.
ROSS: I fixed the problem with a new window and had it properly installed. But years later, it’s still the staining and the mildew stain that’s on the concrete blocks below that window.
ROSS: I want to clean it and prep it to paint. The blocks are still in relatively good shape but I just want to know: what’s the best process and the best product to properly clean that wall and prep it for painting?
TOM: So, first of all, Ross, the window that was leaking, is this area still damp? Do you think that there’s any moisture that’s getting into that area under the window? Because it may not be coming from the window; it could be coming right through the wall, you know.
ROSS: We had an actual process done. Not only were the windows replaced just as normal upgrade but we had a process by a basement waterproofing company where they – every 2 feet on the outside of the building, they bored down through the dirt, all the way to the foundation, and then they injected a liquid bentonite. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of that process but the liquid bentonite is kind of like a kitty litter almost. But when it gets injected near or into concrete block, it gets into the block and then it expands, like kitty litter would expand. And that process completely dried up the basement.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Alright. Well, listen, I would just say to you that the reason most basements leak is because of a problem with exterior drainage. So make sure your gutters are clean, your downspouts are extended and your soil slopes away from the house.
Now, aside from that, removing the stains is not that big of a deal. Usually, what you’re seeing is efflorescence. That’s the mineral salts that are left when the water evaporates – that gets in and then it dries out. So if it’s not an active leak, you just have these stains, I think, frankly, all you’ve got to do is wire-brush those walls to get rid of that loose stuff. Usually, it’s a white/grayish powder kind of a thing that’s stuck. If it’s on block, it’s not mold; it’s salts. And so, once you get that clear, then you can apply a concrete-block paint to that surface and you should be good to go.
ROSS: The drainage has been completely taken care of. There’s gutters, there’s downspouts, there’s – it slopes away from the house. Everything is check, check, check.
TOM: OK, good.
ROSS: The stains that are there are definitely a darker, blackish, mildew-y, old stain that just needs to – that’s left over from when there was a consistent moisture problem there.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Right. Yeah. But it’s not going to be mold or mildew, because you need a food source for that. And you have a masonry surface there, so you don’t have a food source. If it was drywall, I’d be more concerned. But as long as it’s dry, then it’s not active. I would just, like I say, brush it – wire-brush it – just to make sure any loose stuff is off. And then you can paint right over that. You should be good.
ROSS: OK. Terrific. Thanks very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ross. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Well, have you guys noticed cracks or holes showing up seemingly out of nowhere in your walls? They weren’t there the day before and then, all of a sudden, wham, there they are?
It is actually pretty typical, especially this time of year. Because once that heating system gets going, it’s because the walls sort of dry out and shrink and then you start seeing the cracks.
LESLIE: Yeah. So, here’s a really great way that you can handle both.
So, first, let’s talk about those nail pops. Now, these happen when a nail gets loose and then starts to back itself out of the drywall. So to fix it, you simply want to tap it in and drive a new nail right next to it. You want to make sure that you cover the head of the old nail with the new one, then spackle the area, smooth it and allow it to dry really well. And once it’s dry, you can sand it and then touch up that area.
TOM: Now, here’s how to handle those bigger and very annoying cracks. The best way to fix either a wall or a ceiling crack is to use a strong, perforated drywall tape. This kind of tape has little holes in it, sometimes squares. Almost looks like a bit of netting. Sometimes it has an adhesive so it sticks until you get to put the drywall spackle over it.
But you apply this first to kind of bridge the gap in the crack. And then you want to trowel on three thin layers of spackle, as thin as you can, over that netted drywall tape. And then you want to sand in between each layer. And on the final one, you’re going to want to prime it and then paint it. Now, it’s important that you don’t skip the primer step because if you do, you’re going to find out that even if it’s the exact same color paint as you had on the rest of the ceiling, it’s not going to look the same.
So, that particular type of drywall tape will stop those cracks from showing up once again. A lot of folks just try to spackle them and paint over but then that just continues to open up. If you put the tape over it, that will stop the crack from moving again and you’ll be good to go for the duration. That’s not to say you won’t find new cracks opening up somewhere else but at least you won’t be facing the same ones over and over and over again.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Gail on the line with a heating question.
GAIL: I have a real old house, like 1904. And I do have some chimneys in it with flues. And so I had thought I would use a chimney vent for the gas line but that I would probably have to put a liner in it, like a steel liner. And somebody said that there was another alternative and that was to put a power vent, something across the ceiling of the basement and out a window and not have to use a chimney so – as a vent. So I wondered what your thoughts were on that.
TOM: Well, listen, lining the chimney is actually not that big of a deal for – to convert it to use as a gas vent. Because what you do is you’d drop a stainless-steel liner from the top right down. It kind of looks – it looks like a stainless-steel version of a dryer hose, if that makes sense. It kind of expands like that.
TOM: And it gets terminated at the top and then sections are added so that it goes all the way down the bottom and it comes right out the side of the chimney and you hook it up. So it’s really not a big deal for a furnace company or HVAC company to do that.
I suspect that adding this power vent is probably a lot more work and more money. And basically, what that is is a fan that has to run all the time. And it would suck the gases off the furnace and then run them sort of horizontally against gravity, because it’s a fan, and push them out the side of the house. Not only are you going to have a motor to run all that time, you’re going to have a vent that goes across the ceiling of the basement and then you’re going to have a vent that comes out the side of the wall. Not the right way to do it. I would line the chimney with a stainless-steel flue, from the top to the bottom, and go with it from there.
GAIL: OK. And I guess one of the questions – I do have two flues coming up on that one chimney. Right now, I have a hot-water – gas hot-water heater – which this goes out without a stainless lining. But I guess they could put a large enough lining to line both flues.
TOM: Well, actually, you would probably bring the gas water-heater flue and the boiler flue or furnace flue together and then run them up the stainless steel. Because, honestly, you’re really not supposed to be using one of those old flues just for a gas water heater. Because what happens is in the wintertime, they can get really cold and they can force condensation inside of those hot/warm gases that are going up. And that can actually reverse the draft and basically make that water heater vent back into the house until the chimney warms up.
So you’re better off having that one flue lined and then run them both up through that. You’d basically bring them together and then you’d bring them into the chimney on up. OK?
GAIL: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Gail. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bill, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you with your flooring project?
BILL: I bought a house three years ago and I hired these people to come in and strip my hardwood floors in my living room. And they never did a good job and I can never get a hold of them. And the hardwood squeaks. I want to redo it. What is the best way to refinish it?
TOM: OK. So, the issue is that you want them to be – to stop squeaking or you want to refinish it or kind of both?
BILL: Stop squeaking and also, I want to refinish them.
TOM: OK. So there’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, because you’re doing the refinishing and the repair at the same time, that actually makes this a little bit easier. But what you’re going to want to do is deal with the squeaking issue first. And the reason that that happens is usually because of movement. If you can identify those sections of the floor that are the loudest, they’re probably going to have the most movement.
And simply what you want to do is resecure those floorboards to the floor. So you can do that with nails. If you nail through the hardwood board, into the floor joists below at a slight angle – with a nail that’s kind of rough, like a galvanized nail – you’re going to have to pilot that hole first. Put a small drill hole in first and then drill – nail right through the hole, because you can’t nail hardwood directly; the nail will bend and the board will split.
In ones that are really weak, you can actually use a trim screw, which is a long, thin screw with a tiny head. And it’s a little bit bigger than a nail. That’s even a better way to do it because the screws are really solid and they won’t pull back out again. So I would just tighten up the boards as best you can in the loudest areas. You’re never going to get them all, so don’t try.
And then you can have your floor refinishers sand it and refinish it. And I would definitely have the sanding done professionally. I would not do this myself because the tools are very rugged. And if you don’t use them every day, you’re going to damage your floors. So I would have it completely sanded and then refinished. Does that make sense?
BILL: Thank you. I appreciate it very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’ve got some holiday projects planned but no tools to get them done, we can fix that, too. Because right now, we have the Arrow Fastener Holiday Home Décor Giveaway going on at MoneyPit.com. We’re going to choose 12 winners and each winner is going to get a full set of tools from Arrow Fastener. Each set is worth over 125 bucks. That can help with pretty much all your holiday home improvement, décor and craft projects.
There’s four main tools in each package. You get the Wire Stapler, you get the Cordless Electric Staple Gun, you get the Professional High-Temperature Glue Gun and you get the new Plier Stapler, the P21, which is great for holiday gift bags that you may be filling up with treats and cookies and stuff like that to give to family and friends, plus a supply of glue sticks and staples. All of that going out to each of the 12 winners.
You can enter today. In fact you can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes. MoneyPit.com/Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: Paula in Ohio is on the line.
Paula, what can we do for you today?
PAULA: Me and my husband have an older house. It was built in 1950. And the woodwork through the whole house, it’s all interconnected: the door frames, everything. And we want to sell the house, so we’re trying to find what would be the best and the cheapest solution to fixing that woodwork without having to replace it all.
TOM: So, what’s going on with the woodwork? Is it just worn? Is it just heavily painted? What exactly is your problem with your woodwork?
PAULA: Yeah. It’s worn. I think somebody that lived there before us had a dog and some of it’s been chewed on.
TOM: Oh, boy.
PAULA: And it’s like we would replace – you can’t replace parts of it because you can’t get the stain to match. And we don’t really know what to do to make it look better to get it ready to sell.
TOM: So, is this molding kind of fancy molding in terms of – if you were to fill in some of the grooves and the digs in it, could you paint it and have it look halfway decent? Or do you think you have to replace it?
PAULA: I think some of it we’d have to replace it.
TOM: OK. Well, I think that’s kind of what you’re up against. If it’s painted now, you’re going to probably want to replace it with a paint-grade molding. And I think if the areas that are really damaged – you mentioned dog damage. If it’s chewed on, then you may just want to pull that piece off and replace it. But a coat of paint can do wonders with something like that.
I don’t know if there’s a way to kind of decorate around it. And it would be an awful lot of work to replace all that trim. Certainly a possibility but it’s a big job to pull all the trim off and replace it. So I think all you can really hope to do, at this point, is to clean it up, prime it – because that will give you a better paint finish – and then just put a topcoat of paint on it and kind of call it a day.
Leslie, do you have any other suggestions or do you think that’s about it?
LESLIE: No. I really think priming and painting it really is the best solution. Because once you get into replacing all of the trim work – I mean first of all, it’s a tremendous expense and it’s a lot of work. And you end up cutting and mitering and it can be more complicated, whereas paint is a simple fix for now. At least you can start there and see if it’s something that you like and can live with and work with, décor-wise. And if not, then you can at least explore the future options.
PAULA: OK. Great.
TOM: That help you out?
PAULA: That helps me out a lot.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, when I was a kid, I was the snow thrower but these days, shoveling snow is a chore that pretty much I would rather avoid. And it’s not helping my allowance in any way for doing that job, you know what I’m saying?
TOM: You’re not getting a raise, yeah. I guess both of us could use a machine that could tackle the job quickly without a ton of effort. In my case, my snow shovelers are all off to college, so they’re not so interested in coming back just to help old Dad dig out from the snowstorms.
But with so many mechanical snow-removal machines on the market, it’s kind of hard to figure out where to start. But the first thing you need to know is this and that is the difference between a snow blower and a snow thrower. Because people use these names sort of interchangeably but they actually are technically two completely different machines. And it has to do with the way they work.
Now, the snow machines come in several stages. A single-stage machine is called a “thrower.” And the reason it’s called a “thrower” is because it picks up the snow and it sends it out a chute in one motion or sort of one stage. And with these machines, the auger actually connects with the ground, it picks up the snow and lets it fly.
The two-stage machine is technically a snow blower, because it moves the snow twice. First, the auger scoops it up and then a high-speed impeller throws it out through the discharge chute. And it can actually handle a lot more snow.
LESLIE: Yeah. So, how do you know how to choose between the two options? Well, you’ve got to consider the area that’s going to be cleared, the amount of snow and the surface.
Now, single-stage snow throwers are typically about 19 to 22 inches wide but width is not as important as the height of these machines, which is limited. So, the deeper the snow, the less effective it’s going to be.
Now, if you’re frequently battling 12-inch snowdrifts or more, you want to go with a two-stage snow blower instead. If you need to clear large, deep, expansive snow – like a big, double-wide driveway – you’re going to appreciate the wider and more powerful two-stage snow blower.
Now, both are going to run on gas. There is, however, an electric version of the single-stage snow thrower. And that’s good for smaller areas, like decks and steps, where a gas-powered machine simply isn’t going to fit. And it’s also good for climates where only a light, occasional annual snowfall is expected.
TOM: And most important, guys, is safety. When you’re using a snow blower, you’ve got to watch out for those very powerful blades. They move at high speeds. These machines tend to get clogged, so you need to know that you never, ever, ever stick your hand in it to unclog it. I say that and people are like, “Duh. Of course.” But believe me, people do it all the time. They end up losing fingers.
So, if you have to clear out that area, turn off the engine and use a wooden stick to dislodge the clog. Even if the machine is off, those impellers and those augers can have some tension in them and they could still move, even if the machine is off. So always use a wooden stick to dislodge any clogs.
LESLIE: Mona in Wyoming, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MONA: I’ve got a garage that has a low spot in it up by the front tire. And the snow comes off of it and then sits there; it doesn’t drain out. And then it freezes and then I have a skating rink.
TOM: Oh, boy.
MONA: Yeah. And I’m just wondering if there’s anything that I can use to either kind of fill in that hole and spread it out, you know, make it more level or if – what would happen if I drilled holes down through it?
TOM: Well, that was my first thought, Mona. If you were to fill this in, if I was to tell you how to fill this in, do you think that that would allow the water to drain out?
MONA: Probably not.
TOM: OK. That’s what I was afraid of.
MONA: Unless I filled it quite a bit and then sloped it back.
TOM: There is a way to do that. There are materials called “patching compounds.” They’re epoxy in nature or they’re made of other materials that are designed specifically to adhere to the old floor. And so, one thing you could do would be to basically relevel the floor using an epoxy patching compound to smooth out those areas.
Another idea that comes to mind is that there are a number of garage floors out there that are modular in nature, that can be assembled on top of the concrete and basically give you about an extra ½-inch of height. And the water, if it collects at all, would be kind of below that level. They’re made to drain, they’re perforated, they’re durable and they look pretty cool, too. I’m thinking of one that snaps together and looks like tiles that can actually be quite a décor element, as well, and has more traction than the concrete would itself.
MONA: And it would go over the low spot and still be level?
TOM: You would put it over the entire floor. You basically would redo the whole floor of the garage with this material.
MONA: And so what about drilling holes in it? You think then I may have more water come up through? That was my concern.
TOM: Probably not. Because I think what’ll happen is it’ll just clog up. I don’t think it’s going to be effective. I mean I guess it’s possible you could put a drain in there if you really drilled a big hole but we don’t know what we’re going to run up against when you get through that concrete.
MONA: No. No, it’s gravel underneath but …
TOM: Yeah. But it’s a pretty big job and if you were to drill it, I think you’re probably just going to clog up. I don’t think it would be an effective drain unless you actually put a properly sized drain in there and that’s just a bigger project. If you think smoothing this out – that low spot’s going to solve it, then I would just use a patching compound on it and try it. You’ve got nothing to lose and see what happens. If you decide you don’t like that, you could always go with a floor-tile option after that.
MONA: You have a tile option – a manufacturer that you would recommend for that?
TOM: Yeah. Home Depot has dozens of these garage-floor tiles. Now, they’re not going to have them in the store but if you go to HomeDepot.com and just search “garage-floor tiles,” you’ll see what the options are. Lots and lots of options and some of them are quite attractive.
MONA: OK. Well, I appreciate your help. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, is your electric bill giving you sticker shock? Figuring out how to reverse that trend really starts with a solid understanding of where all of that power is going, especially because a good portion of that juice may be going to places that you’re not even aware of. So, to help, here are three areas where we see a lot of wasted energy.
Now, first of all, I want to talk about vampire appliances. Now, that means that they’re appliances that are always plugged in and for some reason, they’re always drawing energy whether you’re using them or not.
So the solution here, guys, is to use a power strip. Now, you can switch that off when those appliances aren’t being used, charged, whatever it might be. And then they will stop sucking all that extra energy away.
TOM: Yep. Next, let’s talk about what we call the “energy hogs.” These are the big appliances. Dishwashers, clothes washers, clothes dryers have a pretty much insatiable appetite for electricity and they can really drive your electricity bills way up.
So, a few things to think about. Run the dish and the clothes washers at full capacity only and select low heat for the dryer. And most importantly, think about replacing those older appliances with ENERGY STAR models. These don’t use energy very efficiently as their newer counterparts, so those ENERGY STAR appliances are going to make a big difference.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, let’s talk about lights and ceiling fans. Now, when it comes to lighting, many people make the mistake of using lights to brighten the entire room. But efficient lighting only provides light to specific areas, such as your couch, a chair, a kitchen table, a workspace, a reading area, whatever it is. But you’re focusing that light where you’re going to use it.
So the solution here is to use lighting only in rooms that you’re in and for those specific purposes. Think of them as task lighting. Then go ahead and switch out those incandescent bulbs for LEDs. The costs on these bulbs have come way down and they’re going to last for a long time, so it’s definitely worth it.
And also, for your lighting you want to consider an occupancy- or even a vacancy-sensor switch. It’s great if you’ve got kids who just walk out of a room with every light a blazing. I mean it’s going to sense that nobody’s in that space anymore and then turn that light off. So, excellent for basements, a storage closet, the kids’ rooms, whenever you’re coming in and out of. And maybe you’ve got your hands full or those forgetful kids.
TOM: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card. You know, we’re all shopping for essentials online these days. Why not 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.
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LESLIE: Bill from New York posted a question and he’s asking: “We’re looking to purchase a home built in the mid-1980s. What are the biggest changes in construction and building codes from the 80s to today? Are there any drawbacks to houses built around this time period?”
TOM: Hmm, that is a really good question. No matter what decade you choose for a home, you’re going to have some strengths and weaknesses of the types of components and stuff in the structure that you’re going to see there.
So, for example, if you have a house that’s built in the 80s, you may have some very old appliances. Typically, a lifespan that can run from 15 to 20 years means you’re going to be on the end of your second water heater or your second heating system or maybe your third air conditioner. So, age of appliances – major appliances like that – is an issue.
One feature that was popular in the 80s that does not heat or cool very well is a cathedral ceiling, because there’s not enough space to do a good job. You usually have a roof on one side and then 8 inches or 10 inches later, you’ve got the drywall on the other, so you can’t get much insulation in there. So that’s not a great feature of those.
And here’s one, speaking of roofs that was introduced in and around the 80s and that was when roofing manufacturers changed from using basically what was a cotton-mat asphalt shingle – where you had this cotton mat; they sprayed the asphalt on it and that’s what made the shingle – to a fiberglass shingle. It was a lot thinner, so they saved a lot of money on asphalt. But the problem was they started to crack a lot, so you’ve got to look really carefully at those roofs to make sure that they are in good structural condition.
Another issue with that time of year was the stucco – the synthetic stucco – that came out, the EIFS, which is the Exterior Insulated Finish Systems. Boy, that – those houses were leaking from the – on the drawing board, a friend of mine used to say. And he was absolutely right, because they would get all sorts of leaks and then grow mold and things like that.
So, those are just, top line, some of the things you would be concerned about. Your electrical systems are solid. Your design of your cooling and heating systems are solid but the age of appliances, age of cabinets, that sort of wear and tear. Just get a really good, professional home inspection before you buy that house and you’ll get a real good idea of what you’re kind of up against.
And by the way, if you’re wondering, “How old is my house,” I’ll give you a home inspector’s trick of the trade that we used to use. And that is if it’s got the original plumbing fixtures, which so many homes do, look on the bottom of them. You’ll find it on the underside of a toilet-tank lid, underside of a sink. You’ll find the date stamped right in there and it’ll tell you when that was manufactured. And you can guarantee, be sure that it was installed within several months of that date.
LESLIE: Alright. Good tips.
Now I’ve got one from Rosie in Alabama who writes: “We’re remodeling our laundry room, which is also our guest half-bath. Is laminate flooring safe under a washing machine or is tile better?”
TOM: Well, absolutely. There are water-resistant laminates that are out there. Certainly, you have tile. And the other one is EVP – engineered vinyl plank. I just redid a laundry room for my sister and I used the EVP plank from Lumber Liquidators and man, it came out great. Very easy to put down, very inexpensive, very affordable. It was less than 2 bucks a foot and it looks absolutely fantastic. So you have a lot of options in water-resistant and waterproof flooring, including the EVP and the laminate floor.
LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that renovation, Rosie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, guys, thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope that you may have picked up some good ideas and tips to save some money around your house and fix it up, make it more comfortable, make it the space that you really want it to be. Because we’re all spending a lot of time at home and we want to be there right with you, socially distanced but virtually speaking, helping you take care of that place every step of the way.
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.)
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