Now is the season for many things and unfortunately one of those is the fire season. There are more smoke and carbon monoxide incidents in these next couple months than any other time of the year. Tom & Leslie highlight new smart home technology that can help keep you safe.Getting ready to refresh your home with some new décor? Not sure if your budget is ready to handle the hit? We’ll share 5 ways to save lots of money decorating your home sweet home in today’s Smart Spending Tip just ahead.
Did you know that according to the CDC, many of us are not cleaning and disinfecting our homes the right way? We’ll share a simple tip that can help make sure you’re getting rid of bacteria and viruses and other all the hard surfaces in your house.
It’s pretty well-known that poinsettia flowers, while beautiful, can be dangerous if eaten. But it turns out that other holiday flowers are actually far more toxic. We share tips to keep you and your pets safe.
Do you have a home improvement or decor question? Call the show 24/7 at 888-MONEY-PIT (888-666-3974) or post your question here.
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: ‘Tis the season, people. It’s the season for getting your house warm and comfortable and friendly and fun so that when your 10 best friends or family members come over – because that’s all you’re allowed to have these days – you can have a nice space for them to enjoy your home, your bubble. I mean that’s really what our homes are these days; they’re our bubbles. We’re spending so much time in our homes and we need to improve them, to make sure that we can continue to enjoy them. That includes adding a lot of space and making them nicer to look at. So whatever project in that area you would like to take on, let us know. We are here to help.
If you’ve got a project you’re planning for the new year, give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Whatever is on your to-do list, swing it on over to ours by getting in touch with us at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, one of the things that this is the season for, which I think most folks don’t know, is that this is actually the fire season. You know, there are more smoke and carbon-monoxide incidents in these next couple of months than any other time in the year. So we thought it was a good time to highlight some new smart-home technology that’s available in smoke and CO detectors to keep you safe.
LESLIE: And are you getting ready to refresh your home with some new décor? Maybe you’re not sure if your budget is ready to handle that hit. We’re going to share five ways to save lots of money decorating your home-sweet-home in today’s Smart Spending Tip, just ahead.
TOM: And did you know that according to the CDC guidelines, many of us are just not cleaning and disinfecting our homes in the right way? We’re going to share a simple tip that can help make sure you’re getting rid of both bacteria and viruses on all the hard surfaces in your house.
LESLIE: And we’re giving away one of our favorite tools that can tackle a ton of different projects. It’s the Arrow GT300 Glue Gun. It is super well-designed, really easy to use and we’ve got one to give away.
TOM: All you need to do is to reach out with your DIY or home décor question. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and we might be sending you that very fun, new glue gun. So give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Cheryl in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you?
CHERYL: I have some countertops that are plywood. I just purchased a house recently and I’m planning to do a total remodel in about a year. But right now, the countertops are plywood. And so I wanted an idea to put on the countertops so that I don’t have water damage to the plywood and – plus something that looks nice. And I was wondering if you might have an idea.
LESLIE: Well, there’s a lot of different options, of course, at a variety of price points. And if you’re looking for something that’s just going to be temporary but still stylish and functional, probably your quickest and most DIY and affordable option could be tile.
Now, that’s going to be something that you could easily do on your own. And there’s a lot of different choices to keep you within a variety of price points. And that, generally, can look really, really great. The other options are laminate countertops, which you can get precut at the local home center. And that just depends on how much of a run you need and how much actual cutting to fit to size that you have to get.
But those are probably going to be your two most affordable. I think with tile, it really gives you an opportunity to make it really stylish and your own and something that you can feel proud of doing yourself and lasts you through the long haul, until you’re ready to do a major remodel.
CHERYL: OK. And what do you usually adhere the tile with? I’m not really much of a DIY person but I’m sure – I think I could do it. But I was just kind of curious, with the water, what adheres that tile and keeps that countertop protected?
TOM: So there’s two options. There’s tile mastic, which is sort of like a glue that you trowel onto the plywood and you stick the tiles onto that. And then there’s a tile mat that’s like a two-sided adhesive mat that you glue that down to the wood surface, in your case, and you peel off a backing and you can stick the tiles right on top of that. So there’s a couple of ways to do that. If you can find the mat, what’s interesting about that is you can grout right away. If you use the mastic, you’ve got to let it dry overnight and then you can grout.
CHERYL: OK. I like those ideas. OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike in Pennsylvania is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?
MIKE: My kitchen floor is vinyl with a couple of dings. And there were – things have been dropped over years. So it’s broken the outer seal and the black is showing through the underlayment or whatever.
So, a couple of options – and I’ve had experience with sticky-back tiles on a – on the laundry-room concrete floor. I’ve also put ceramic tile down in a foyer with the cement board and so forth. And what I’m thinking – in my kitchen, if I went with the ceramic, then I’ve got a problem with putting the cement board down plus the ceramic tile. And I’d have to cut some doors. My question is: say I take the easy way out, would sticky-back tiles work over a vinyl floor?
TOM: I think probably not too well. I’ve got another option for you. Have you considered laminate flooring? Are you familiar with it?
MIKE: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: So, laminate flooring is perfect for this situation because you can lay it down right over the old vinyl or you could pull the vinyl up if you choose to. It doesn’t have to be glued down. The boards simply lock together. The tongue and the groove joint of the laminate boards, whether they’re strips or whether they’re square planks, will lock together.
And then, essentially, it will just sit on top of that floor. You’ll leave about a ¼-inch space between the edge of the laminate and the floor. You can use a piece of shoe molding to cover that between the baseboard molding and the laminate itself. And it doesn’t take up a lot of room. Not as much room as putting down – you mentioned the backer board and the tile and so on. It’s only going to take up about a ¼-inch or so.
Now, I’ve had laminate floor in my kitchen for almost 20 years and you could hardly see any wear or tear on it at all. You’d be hard-pressed to find any worn areas. It’s really incredibly durable stuff.
MIKE: So there’s no grout or anything? They just interlock, basically, like a tongue and groove, right?
TOM: No. And the thing is you could find laminates that look like stone tile. You can find them that look like ceramic tile or marble and you could find them that look like hardwood floor. They’re absolutely beautiful and they’re super durable, so I think that’s the best solution for your situation.
Mike, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, no matter when you listen to The Money Pit, you can always get in on some fun giveaways and today is no exception. We’re giving away the Arrow GT300 Glue Gun.
TOM: Yeah. We love it because it heats up super fast, it’s drip-resistant. So, in my case, that means I’m going to have fewer burns on my fingers.
LESLIE: Very true, very true.
TOM: It’s large. It fits in your hand nicely, so it doesn’t make your hand kind of ache when you’re trying to squeeze out the glue. In fact, I was binge-watching with my daughter, who came home from college and loves these shows, the Making It show.
LESLIE: I love that show.
TOM: And guess what I saw on the Making It show? Everybody was using the Arrow GT300.
LESLIE: It really is a good one.
TOM: They do a lot of gluing on that show. It’s the Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman Show and those two are just so funny together. But it was cool to see everyone using those tools.
It’s worth 49 bucks, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it’s really a great prize. Worth that 49 bucks and then some. And it’s going to go out to one listener who’s totally drawn at random. If you’d like to win it, you’ve got to be in it, guys. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, post your question at MoneyPit.com. Whatever it is, reach out to us so we can help you get great tools and of course, give you a hand.
Ann in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you tonight?
ANN: I bought a modular home that sits on a foundation. And the people that lived in it before we did had it kind of fixed up like a living area. Well, when we bought it, we degutted the whole thing and noticed that while we were degutting it, when the rain came, it would flood. So we dug out around the basement but we left an awning on the top part of my mother-in-law house and got it all finished. And the last couple of years, when it rains, water comes in and my whole flooring – my beautiful flooring – is just welted up and ruined.
TOM: So is this flooring – you mentioned that you dug around the foundation. Not quite sure why you did that because it probably wasn’t necessary. But is the water coming into a lower level, like a basement level, or is the water coming in around this roof – this awning roof?
ANN: I’m not sure. I thought it was coming around the basement so I pulled it out, tarred the whole thing except for that area. And it doesn’t leak anywhere else but that area where the awning is at now. And I noticed that there is a crack between the house and the actual concrete of the awning.
TOM: You say crack. You mean between the roof, where the awning attaches or do you mean at the foundation level?
ANN: At the foundation level.
TOM: OK, yeah. That’s called “rotation.” What happens is those concrete stoops pull away from the walls and they rotate.
Look, if this is caused by water – if this water infiltration is caused by a basement leakage or foundation leakage, you’re not going to seal your house well enough to stop that from happening no matter how much tar you put on the foundation. So what I want you to do is to go to our website at MoneyPit.com. And on the home page, there’s an article about how to stop a basement from leaking that walks you through this step by step.
But conceptually, what you’re going to do is regrade the foundation perimeter to make sure all that soil that you took out is tamped, now, well and packed in nice and tight around the foundation. We want it to slope down about 6 inches over 4 feet.
And secondly, we want to know that you have gutters on the house, they’re clean, they’re free-flowing and the downspouts are discharging out 4 to 6 feet – not inches, feet – away from the foundation. If you keep the water from the roof and the natural rainfall away from that foundation, you won’t get any leakage into that area. It’s just not going to happen.
So do that first and see if the leaks continue. If they continue, then we’ve got to look for another source. But I want you to get the most obvious one out of the way first.
Ann, thanks for calling 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, home fire and carbon-monoxide incidents spike during the colder winter months, which makes now a really great time to update your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.
TOM: Yep. And there’s now a brand-new one out from First Alert you should definitely know about. It’s the First Alert Connected Safety 2-in-1 Smoke and Carbon-Monoxide Alarm. It’s got a lot of great features and the first one that I think is so cool is that it’s both compatible with Ring and Z-Wave. That means if you have a Ring security system or anything that’s Z-Wave compatible, which is every smart-home system out there, this will integrate with it and it will give you an early warning of either a fire or a carbon-monoxide emergency.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s wireless and battery-operated and it’s great for older homes as it doesn’t require any rewiring to install it.
Now, the alarm features state-of-the-art, 2-in-1 protection to help protect against the threats of both smoke and carbon monoxide.
TOM: And I also learned that these alarms are interconnected. And what that means, in smoke-detector speak, is if one goes off, they all go off. So no matter where you are in the house, you’re going to hear this detector.
It’s also very affordable. You’ll find it in retailers nationwide, including Amazon and Lowe’s, for $49.99. So, under 50 bucks. A really smart smart-home investment.
LESLIE: Doug in Oregon is on the line with a question about drywall. What is going on at your money pit?
DOUG: I had a flood in my home. Wiped out the whole inside. Get to the point where the sheetrock goes on. They came in, put sheetrock in. Now I have a crack in one wall in the ceiling, in the living room and in the kitchen. And they’re telling me I have structural problems but I had the house …
TOM: Who’s telling you that, Doug?
DOUG: The contractor, the sheetrock company. But I had the house inspected, to have it refinanced, and we do not have a structural problem.
TOM: So the drywall company, in an effort to get out of having to fix this crack, has basically told you that you have structural problems and therefore, it’s not their responsibility to fix it? Is that kind of where we’re going with this?
DOUG: That’s correct.
TOM: Yeah, sounds like it. Listen, if you’ve got structural problems, that would have been picked up probably before the drywall was added. And I don’t buy it. It’s more likely that the drywall seams have to be replaced.
Now, the cracks that are forming there, you know, they probably need to be done in a different way. So, for example, if you get a drywall crack because you’ve got walls that are expanding and contracting, it’s frequent that what you want to do is lightly sand that and then use a fiberglass tape on top of that cracked area, not the paper tape. Because the paper tape is not very tolerant to that kind of movement but the fiberglass tape is. It’s sort of like a mesh tape where the spackle actually presses right through it.
Are you seeing any other evidence of structural movement in your house, except for these drywall cracks?
DOUG: Not at all. In fact, the house is in Lake Havasu City, Arizona and the house was built on a slab. When they came in – demolish that house or whatever, they tilled up the laminated floor in three bedrooms and there’s no cracks in the floors or anything.
TOM: Yeah. It’s unlikely that you’ve got a structural problem. I think this sounds much more like a workmanship issue, Doug. And I encourage you to go back and get those guys to make a service call and fix it up. They’re going to cause you a lot more aggravation by chasing a possible structural issue. Because if I thought that was the case, I’d tell you to hire a professional home inspector or an engineer. And then you’re going to be into hundreds of dollars of inspection fees just because these guys are being a bit lazy about going back and fixing the crack.
DOUG: They won’t come back. I’ve even offered to pick them up, bring them to my house, take them back to a shop, pay for a cab to come out, pay for a cab to take them back and they won’t come back.
TOM: Well, that’s even more evidence that they don’t know what they’re talking about. I guess you’ve got – you’ve always got options to pursue them in small-claims court. But frankly, to repair those cracks, it probably wouldn’t be worth it. You might just want to go to a website, like HomeAdvisor.com, and find a pro that’s been highly referred by folks in your area and maybe just get them to do the repair for you.
DOUG: Yeah. Just rather than going through an attorney or whatever. I’d probably – [monies ahead] (ph) just to go ahead and have it repaired.
TOM: Yep, probably. That’s the sad truth of a small project like that.
DOUG: Well, it was a big project. I mean they did walls, ceilings, everything. The house is actually gutted.
TOM: Well, listen, all you can do is really pass on the information about the fact that these guys weren’t very professional, by way of a review either online or on a site like HomeAdvisor, for example.
TOM: Pass it on and protect other folks from making the same mistake.
DOUG: Now, if I do take them to small-claims court, I’m going to have some kind of an evidence or whatever I’m going to be needing. So I need to have somebody come in there and actually inspect it?
TOM: Yeah, you probably are. And you may have to have them testify for you. But the thing is, I wouldn’t go through all that until maybe you make your – well, I shouldn’t be giving you legal advice. But I would take pictures of it. I would bring it to court. And if the judge decides that you need to have an expert, then you just ask for a continuance to get that done. But maybe just taking the pictures in – they may not even show up and you get a judgement against them.
DOUG: Yes, that’s true, too. Well, I appreciate everything you’ve had to say.
TOM: Yeah, alright. Well, I hope that helps. Sorry that happened to you, Doug.
LESLIE: Jennifer in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
JENNIFER: I have a rental house that is a basement home and it has a concrete patio that is rather large, probably around 12-feet long by 8-foot wide. The house has been built several years ago and over the course of time, the concrete patio has gotten pitted, it looks like, from the use of rock salt to melt the ice and snow off of it. And I didn’t know – just because of the size of the patio, I’m guessing it’s going to be pretty costly to replace it. I didn’t know if I had any other options?
TOM: Yeah, you do. And this is a perfect scenario for this. QUIKRETE makes a product called Concrete Resurfacer. And it’s specifically designed for scenarios like this. You can apply this resurfacer to the entire slab and it’s designed to stick to it and fill in those pockmarks and those little gaps. And it will give it a whole new look. It’ll look like a brand-new slab but it will resurface it completely.
JENNIFER: Wow. That’s great. What is it called?
TOM: It’s made by QUIKRETE and it’s called a Concrete Resurfacer. It’s basically a blend of poured-in cement and sand and polymers. And the polymers and the other additives basically set it up so it can stick to the original concrete.
There is a preparation. You have to pressure-wash it first to get it nice and clean. But once you apply this, you can basically squeegee it or trowel it on and you can use a brush finish so it gets that nice, sort of slip-resistant finish when you’re all done.
JENNIFER: Well, that’s great news. I didn’t realize there was anything like that. So, thank you.
TOM: Specifically designed for this project.
Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Francis in Michigan is on the line with a wood-burning stove question. What are you working on?
FRANCIS: Oh, I’m just contemplating installing a wood burner in a three-season room with a couple of sliding-glass doors. And it would go in the corner. So, one of the walls has a couple of windows partway up that are like awning windows. And then, on the other wall, there’d be the stationary part of the sliding-glass door in the corner. And I was thinking about maybe installing a wood burner in that corner. And I wondered if there’s any restrictions, as far as how far away from the glass you would have to put the stove.
TOM: Yeah, there’s definitely restrictions. Now, would that window be behind the stove or just kind of off to the side of the stove?
FRANCIS: Well, the stove would be in the corner sort of diagonally. The stove is actually not a very large wood burner. It’s a Vermont Casting one that I saw that – it’s longer than it is wide. And it would sit in the corner, so the long part would come out into the room and then it would be diagonally against the corners.
TOM: OK. So, rule of thumb that you need 3 foot of clearance between any part of that stove and the wall, on both sides. You can build in a heat shield, which is sort of a shield that builds – stands away from the wall and it creates sort of a convective loop where air moves behind it and keeps the wall cooler.
Now, what I don’t know is how this is going to impact your windows and your slider, because I really don’t know exactly what the shape of the room is from your description. The other concern is I don’t know if the slider has a vinyl frame. If it does, vinyl melts very readily when exposed to radiant heat. So you could melt some of the door of the frame.
So I think you need to be really careful about the position of this stove. You need to follow the NFPA – the National Fire Protection Association – guidelines. So I would definitely get some advice from a professional on this that can actually see your physical setup and tell you how to accomplish this, because the rule of thumb is 3 feet. If you can keep the 3 feet of space between the back of that stove and your slider or your window, I think you’ll probably be OK. But I suspect that’s going to really push it out in the room. Maybe you don’t want to do that. So I think we have to figure out how we’re going to meet the safety standards here without impacting the combustible parts of your house or the windows or that slider.
FRANCIS: Yeah, that’s why I just wanted to just ask that question to you before I got too excited about doing the project and …
TOM: You may be able to do it fine but that’s the issue. You start with 3 feet, then you kind of work back from there depending on what kind of fire protection you can kind of build into it, Francis.
FRANCIS: Consider the glass the same as you would a regular wall.
FRANCIS: Especially because of the vinyl frame around the window.
TOM: Yep. On the door.
FRANCIS: I think ours is actually vinyl, so …
TOM: Yeah. You know, one burning pattern I always used to see, in the years I was a home inspector, was vinyl siding that was burned or melted because the gas grill was too close or the charcoal grill was too close to it and that radiant heat just reached across – in some cases 5, 6, 7 feet – and burned the siding. And you could see it all shrunk and melted, had sort of a halo effect. So, vinyl will melt pretty readily and you definitely need to have the proper spacing there to make this work.
Francis, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, one of the most exciting things about owning a new home is decorating it. But if you rush into decorating and you start buying furniture, that can mean you’re making choices that you might later regret. So, instead, we think it’s smart to have a plan.
Right, Leslie? You’ve got to have a plan.
LESLIE: Yeah. There are ways that you can help make sure that you stick to a reasonable budget and then save some money.
So, first of all, spread out those expensive purchases. Now, if you’re buying a number of high-ticket items, like a couch and a bed, you don’t have to get them all at once. Make a list of the pieces that you need to buy and then prioritize the order in which you purchase them.
Also, think about avoiding trendy design choices that are most likely going to go out of style. So, before you plunk down all your money on a really crazy-patterned couch, think about whether or not you’re going to like that in 5 years and if it’s worth that spend. Also, splurge on your essentials. Now, classic pieces are definitely worth investing in. You can always cover the trends with inexpensive home accents.
Also, you want to try decorating around a statement piece. Let one item really anchor the room, whether it’s a piece of furniture, artwork, even a rug. Choosing something to be the focal point is a great idea and then design around that piece.
Also, you’ve got a lot of stuff in your house already, guys, right? Look at it. Think about it. Repurpose what you already have. Maybe you’ve got some leftover paint from an old project or accent pieces that can be refreshed. Maybe you can give your couch a new life by reupholstering it instead of buying a new one. This is all called “upcycling” and it really is an excellent approach to maximizing your decorating dollars.
TOM: Yeah, great tip.
Now, if you’re moving into a new space, you usually have a lot of energy and a lot of decorating energy and you want to make a lot of choices. Well, we recommend you just push the pause button and wait at least 2 or 3 months before making those big purchases. Why? Because one of two things is going to happen: either you’re going to get used to the old décor and shift some of your furnishings around and discover, hey, it’s not so bad or the desire to decorate is going to increase. You’re going to take on the project anyway but by waiting, you’ll have a much better idea of what you really want to spend that money on.
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.
LESLIE: Reach out to us with your home improvement question and we’re going to give you the answer, plus a chance to win tools to get that job done.
Today, we’re giving away the Arrow GT300 Glue Gun to one listener drawn at random. Now, it’s named the Best Glue Gun in Popular Mechanics’ 2020 Tool Awards. It’s high-temp, heavy duty, super durable and it really offers all of the precision necessary for both pro applications and DIY home repair and projects.
It’s going to heat up fast. We love that it’s drip-resistant. And it’s really – you’ve got a control knob there, so you can adjust how much glue is flowing out. So you’re not going to waste any, you’re not going to get burned, you’re not going to get glue all over the place. Super easy to use. A great, easy-to-pull, oversized trigger. Use it for anything from upholstery projects, home repair projects. All kinds of stuff you will reach for this glue gun for, I promise.
TOM: It’s worth 49 bucks. Going out to one listener drawn at random. If you’d like to win it, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Well, we’re all doing our best to keep our homes clean and safe from viruses and bacteria these days. But did you know that germs can hide beneath dirt and grease on the surfaces, where those disinfectants just can’t reach them? Well, that’s why the Center for Disease Control is reminding us that we need to clean before we disinfect.
TOM: Yeah. And here’s why. And I think this is a great example. Imagine you’re baking a cake, right? There’s a good chance your kitchen counter is covered in residue from eggs and flour and sugar and sprinkles and all kinds of stuff. This can easily lead to Salmonella contamination, which can make you pretty sick.
Now, to eliminate the risk, it’s important to clean the counter first with an all-purpose cleaner – like Simple Green, for example – to remove the visible dirt. And then you use the disinfectant to eliminate any lingering germs.
Now, the same applies to greasy messes and grease on the stove. You always want to clean or remove that grease first and then disinfect. Because otherwise, you could be leaving a layer of bacteria or a layer of viruses hiding under the grease, that may never even come in contact with your disinfectant.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, next, you want to remember that not all disinfectants are equal. So be sure that you’re following the label directions for proper disinfecting procedures, especially when it comes to something called “dwell time.” Now, dwell time is the amount of time that a disinfectant has to stay on that surface in order to effectively kill those germs. And get this: it can be anywhere between 2 and 10 minutes. It’s not just a quick spritz and you’re done. It needs to sit there and do its job.
TOM: I was talking with my friend, Jeff, who runs Simple Green. And he made a great point. How many times have we gone into restaurants and the staff is getting the table sort of ready for you? What do they do? They spray it with a disinfectant and then they instantly announce, “Your table is ready,” and you are seated. But there is just no way the table is really safe at that moment. It has to go on wet and it has to sit there full-time to kill anything that the previous diners left behind, let alone the fact that it should have been cleaned first.
And that’s why we use Simple Green around our house, on the counters and the floors and stuff, because it does a really good job cleaning those surfaces. And you can get a lot out of it. It has a 1:30 dilution ratio so that, for example, if you’re just doing light cleaning, 1 gallon of Simple Green basically gives you 30 gallons of cleaner pretty much. Or if you’re doing something that’s really, really dirty, you can actually make it 1:10.
So this way, you get the job done properly. You get all of that grease, all of that mess lifted first and then you disinfect it. Plus, it occurs to me that these disinfectants are getting harder and harder to find these days, so that means you can use less of them because you did all the cleaning first. And even less than if you were trying to use a cleaner/disinfectant, because those are getting hard to find. But if you just cleaned it first and you then just spritz on a disinfectant on top of that, you let it sit for the proper dwell time, you’re pretty much good to go.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. If you want some more tips, check out SimpleGreen.com. They’ve got several posts and videos on the topic, to help you understand the best way to keep your family safe from all of these pathogens.
Now we’re going to chat with Diana in Arkansas who’s got a super-old house that’s acting a little strangely. What’s going on?
DIANA: My husband says that there is a main beam underneath this house that is broken. And it is allowing it to settle in my kitchen. My refrigerator has taken a definite list and it’s not too far from that beam. How would we go about raising this house or whatever and replacing that beam?
TOM: OK. So if you have a broken beam, the way that that type of repair is generally done is – first of all, if the beam is just cracked and we want to kind of reinforce it so it doesn’t settle or move, what will often happen is a contractor will put a new beam next to it and bolt it to the old beam. That’s called a “sister beam.” And in that way, you’re not really replacing it as much as you’re just kind of beefing it up. And that’s a smarter way to do that because, frankly, there’s no win by just taking it out.
Now, if the house has settled, you may or may not want to do anything to try to raise those beams. Generally, we recommend you don’t raise the floor because everything’s connected to it – the walls and the pipes and the plumbing and the electrical wires – so you kind of leave it in place.
But reinforcing that beam in place is the best way to attack that. And that’s a, you know, not a terribly complicated job but you can’t just have anybody do it. You need to have a contractor that really knows what they’re doing, because you’re going to want to get those beams on both sides. You’re going to want to make sure that if there’s any seams in there, that they have to be over a piling, for example, where there’s support. And then you have to have bolts that go all the way through, from the new beam into the old beam and back to the new beam on the other side, and then sort of bolted together. And then that’s going to make a really strong repair and reinforcement.
Do you know why that beam cracked in the first place?
DIANA: No. I have no idea. The house was originally just a four-room house and then it has been built on and built on and built on.
DIANA: And so I have no idea. Supposedly …
TOM: Might have skipped a structural step there. Well, I think that by – reinforcing that beam is the right way to do it.
LESLIE: Gabriella in Chicago has written us to say, “I live in an apartment with hot-water steam heat. The paint on the wall above one of the units is peeling and has dark specks that look like mold. Is that caused by the heating unit? If so, what can I do to fix it or stop it from happening?”
TOM: A lot of folks see those stains and automatically assume that they’re mold but they’re not. They’re actually far from it.
What you are seeing, Gabriella, is simply this: it’s dirt. And here’s why. As that radiator warms up, you have air that convects upward against a cold wall, right, because heat rises. So that air that’s convecting upward, that loop of sort of warm air rising, is depositing some of the dirt that’s in the air on the walls. And over time – months, years – it shows as stains.
So, not to worry about mold. Just a little bit of cleanup and you will be good to go.
LESLIE: Well, that’s a super easy fix and I hope far more simple than you expected.
TOM: Well, it’s pretty well known that poinsettia flowers, while absolutely beautiful this time of year, can be very dangerous if they’re eaten. Well, it also turns out that there’s some other holiday flowers you’ve got to watch out for because they’re actually even more toxic. Leslie has tips to keep you and your pets safe, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, you’ve got to keep your holiday free of emergencies. And by keeping a few holiday plants out of reach or maybe even out of your house altogether, you could avoid those emergencies. So let’s talk about these holiday plants that really aren’t so great if your kids or your pets get their hands on them or more importantly, eats them.
So, holly. It’s got prickly leaves and sometimes that’s enough to keep everybody away from them. But just don’t leave any room for error when it comes to this holiday plant, because consuming just one or two of the berries can cause a tummy ache. And eating as few as 20 holly berries can actually cause death. So just don’t put them anywhere where the kids or the pets can reach them.
Now, mistletoe is another deceptive holiday plant. Goes hand in hand with romance. I mean everybody is like, “Ooh, mistletoe, smoochy-smoochy.” Well, not in 2020. Just no mistletoe altogether. But with mistletoe, you can also get things like nausea, diarrhea, blood-pressure issues and sometimes even fatalities if the berries of the mistletoe are eaten, which is all the more reason to keep that mistletoe hung way up high. Get it away. Put it by the ceiling, above the doorway where it belongs. Don’t put it anywhere where anybody can grab it.
Now, these are beautiful flowers for the holiday season. It’s amaryllis and paper whites, also called “narcissus.” The amaryllis is the long, sort of stem with the big red or the big white and red-and-white flowers. They’re so beautiful. And the narcissus are those small, paper-white flowers that smell so beautiful. Those guys, they can cause a heart arrhythmia and convulsions if that bulb is digested. And pets are especially susceptible to these flowers, so keep them far away from any hungry or curious animals in your house.
Now, if you even think that one of these plants was eaten, call the local Poison Control Center. Plan to be asked the name of the plant, as well as the exact parts and if you know the amount of it that was consumed. Also be prepared to provide the approximate time when it was eaten, the age of the person, the weight, the condition. There’s also Poison Control for animals, so call them. All of this info is critical for you to get proper care in the event of a holiday-plant emergency.
Once, I had a holly plant that my dog ate two leaves of. I had to inject peroxide into her mouth to make her vomit. It was a big ordeal but it was potentially super dangerous. So, be prepared. Keep those Poison Control numbers handy. And if you can, just decorate with the artificial ones or just keep things out of reach, OK?
TOM: Can I say it was very kind of you not to tell everyone that I was the one that had sent you the holiday plant?
LESLIE: Shh. Shh. Why you got to do that to yourself?
TOM: Well, I didn’t realize that your pets would get into it. But now we all know what not to do.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, are you having a little trouble getting to sleep at night because of outside noises? Whether it’s traffic noise, the train, noisy neighbors or loud plumbing, we’re going to have tips to help you get back your peace and quiet, 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.)