If you are bursting at the seams and looking for some getaway space for crafts or projects, a heated garage may do the trick. This was a project Tom took on during the quarantine and he share tips on the easiest ways for you to warm up this workspace at your home.
Americans have been taking on home improvement in record numbers. But as we improve our homes, should we also be improving our insurance policies to make sure they’re protected from fires, floods and other disasters? Tom & Leslie talk to an expert attorney who specializes in helping homeowners fight insurance companies that try to avoid paying claims for the very damage you bought insurance for in the first place!
Cleaning the counters might be something you do multiple times a day without much thought. We show you how to keep counters clean longer — so you can spend less time wiping them down
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about installing energy star windows, repairing a buckled wood floor, types of insulation to use in your attic.
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: We are here to help you with your home improvement and décor projects. So, think about the projects you’d like to get done in the days, months, weeks ahead and let us give you a hand. Give us a call with those questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, you’ve got a project planned for the new year?
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. I’m still waiting for Henry’s bedroom furniture, so maybe that’ll finally show. And you know what I’m doing is I keep putting off painting his room, because I’m like, “Oh, I’ll do it right before the new furniture comes.”
LESLIE: I’ve literally put off painting his room since August. And I’m still – I slowly patch and sand one other little part but he’s got a mountain of boxes outside the room. And I’m like, “At some point, please, can we get this new desk and bed? Please?”
TOM: You’ve got to be careful with the new furniture because one time, we bought new furniture – well, one time we were going to buy a TV, right, but we figured we need furniture with the TV. So we bought the furniture and then we got – decided we had to paint and then we had to put some carpet in.
LESLIE: Of course.
TOM: By the time I got that TV installed, I think it cost me 20 grand in renovation costs.
LESLIE: Oh, easy. Easy. But the interesting thing is because of the pandemic, I guess desks for kids are hard to find.
LESLIE: So we ordered one of those loft beds with the desk underneath.
LESLIE: And apparently, the only component that they’re missing is this desk part. So they won’t ship any of the rest until they get this.
TOM: Right. Yeah.
LESLIE: But now it’s been 4 months?
TOM: And still no desk.
LESLIE: Still no sign of it.
TOM: Well, listen, when it does get there, you’re going to take on that project. I know it’s going to come out great.
So, those are our stories. If you’ve got a story about a project you’d like to get done, we’d love to hear from you. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, speaking of spaces, if you are busting at the seams and looking for some good getaway space for crafts or projects, a heated garage can do the trick. This is a project I took on during the quarantine. We’re going to share tips on the easiest ways for you to warm up this workspace at your home.
LESLIE: And Americans have been taking on home improvements in record numbers. But as we improve our homes, should we also be thinking about improving our insurance policies to make sure that they’re protected from fires, floods and any other disasters? We’re going to talk to an expert who specializes in helping homeowners fight insurance companies, who try to avoid paying claims for the very damage that you bought that insurance for in the first place.
TOM: And also ahead, cleaning the counters might be something that you do multiple times a day without too much thought. We’re going to show you how to keep those counters clean longer so you can spend less time wiping them down.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear what you are working on. Are you waiting for a desk, also? Whatever it is, we are here to lend a hand, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
And we might also be able to help make your home smarter with a new Blue by ADT Wireless Outdoor Security Camera. We have one to give away, right now, to a listener who joins us with their home improvement question. It’s worth $199.
TOM: So, do you have a project planned for the year ahead? Give us a call right now. We will help you get it done. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You can also get in touch with us by posting your question at MoneyPit.com or at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Ken in Mississippi is on the line and has a question about hardwood flooring and moisture. What’s going on?
KEN: Well, we got some water under our house and my hardwood floors in the living room buckled a little bit. And we addressed the moisture issue. We had the underside – the crawlspace of the house encapsulated.
KEN: And now, what I’m wondering is once the moisture is completely cleared out from under the house, with the dehumidifier and all that, will the floors go back down? Or how can I get them to flatten out again?
TOM: Yeah, that’s – the answer to that is an unfortunate no. Once hardwood floors swell, they don’t go back into shape.
Now, was this the event – this was caused by a one-time flood kind of a situation? Was it rainwater or was it a pipe that broke?
KEN: It was rainwater runoff. Yes, that’s correct.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. Because I wonder if you may have a homeowners claim here, if it’s storm damage. It might be something that you could at least have a conversation with your homeowners insurance agent about, because that hardwood floor will not reset. It will not lay back down once it swells. And if you are going to replace the floor, because you’ve had a moisture problem before, what I would suggest you use is not solid hardwood but a type of hardwood called “engineered hardwood.”
Engineered hardwood looks just like the solid hardwood you have now but it’s made in layers of hardwood. And kind of like plywood that’s glued together at different angles – at 90-degree opposed angles – it’s dimensionally stable so it can’t swell. And it’s designed for damp spaces.
And of course, beyond that, you could choose engineered vinyl plank, which is amazing stuff. It looks just like wood and it’s absolutely, 100-percent waterproof and super durable. I put down two floors over the last few months with EVP: one for my mom in a kitchen and one for a laundry room. Both rooms take a lot of abuse but this stuff is wearing beautifully. It looks like the day I put it down still.
So, those are kind of your options. But once that floor starts to swell, you’re not going to be able to put it back.
Now, depending on how bad it’s swollen, if it’s just kind of lifted a little bit, like the boards are starting to cup a little bit, you might be able to get away with sanding it. And in that case, you would want to have a floor-finishing company come in with a professional belt sander – these are big, heavy machines with 12-inch belts – and sand down those edges so it’s nice and flat and then refinish it. So you might be able to do that, depending on the level of damage, but only if it’s sort of minor swelling. If it’s really big swelling, you won’t be able to change anything.
KEN: OK. Awesome. Thank you for your help.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Ken. Thanks so much for calling us.
LESLIE: Heading over to Baltimore where Lydia is on the line with a question about insulation. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
LYDIA: Well, I would like to know what kind of insulation we should go for.
TOM: OK. So, right now, do you know what kind of insulation you have in the attic? Most homes have fiberglass. Is that what you have?
LYDIA: I don’t know what’s up there.
TOM: OK. Tell me how old your house is, Lydia. Any idea?
LYDIA: About 25 years old.
TOM: OK. Well, most likely it has the original fiberglass insulation. And in a 25-year-old house, that’s going to have settled down and be fairly compressed and not doing a great job insulating your home. So that means you’re probably spending more than you have to on heat.
So here’s what I would do. I would add 8 to 10 inches of unfaced fiberglass batts. So that’s no paper face, no foil face. And you lay those perpendicular – so 90 degrees – to the floor joists that are up there. And this will create a second layer of insulation. It’ll make a big impact in improving the energy efficiency of your home.
Now, you will have to give away some storage space, because you can’t crush that insulation. It has to remain thick and fluffy to do its job. But I think if you put another layer of, say, 8- to 10-inch unfaced fiberglass batts up there, you will be far more comfortable in that home this winter.
Lydia, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’ve got George on the line who’s dealing with a window issue. What’s going on?
GEORGE: This house was built, that we’re living in – was built in 2002. We just bought it a year ago.
GEORGE: I’ve got one dual pane of glass that is brown – the outside is bronze-tinted glass and the inside is clear and it’s E1.
GEORGE: It’s ruptured, you know. Water inside of it and everything else.
TOM: Right. Yep.
GEORGE: And then the other one, same thing: bronze-tinted, E1, clear glass on the inside. And it doesn’t have water in it but you can tell that it’s ruptured because there’s dust along – inside and along the bottom.
GEORGE: Yeah, we live in Henderson, Nevada. In other words, Las Vegas, where it gets hotter than heck.
TOM: Yeah. You’re right. An area like Henderson, Nevada and the Las Vegas area, it gets really, really hot in the summer. So you need a really good-quality window that’s not going to let that solar gain in and drive up your air-conditioning expenses.
So, what you’re going to want to do is simply this: you’re going to want to replace that with an ENERGY STAR-rated window. Now, the reason I say ENERGY STAR is because it’s going to be thermal pane, it’s going to be insulated gas – it may have argon or another insulated gas inside – and it’s going to have a low-emissivity coating. And that’s really important because the low-emissivity coating is the coating that takes the UV rays of the sun and bounces them right back outside. It does not let them pass into your house. And working together, that’s going to keep your house comfortable at the same time.
So, you do want to replace the glass. You want to make sure it’s an ENERGY STAR-rated window that you put in there. And that’s going to solve this.
GEORGE: On the other window, all the windows in that side of the house we put a bronze tint – not a bronze tint, a 35-rated tint.
TOM: Well, I think you have tint on them because you were trying to achieve the same thing that the emissivity coating does for you. I don’t think you need the tint necessarily to cut back on the solar gain. If you have the right glass with the right coating, you’ll be good to go.
George, I hope that helps you out. We’ve got to move on. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, today’s garage is much more than a space for storage or for parking your car. Now, you might also be using that garage as maybe the laundry room or a workshop or the playroom or even the spot that your pets love to hang out in.
TOM: Yep. But while the garage has become an extension of the family’s living space, it’s cold out there and it’s drafty out there. And that makes it less than comfortable during these winter months.
LESLIE: Now, this problem can be easily fixed with a simple garage heater. But the difficult part of this is that there are several different types of heaters. And you’ve got to figure out which one is going to be the best for you.
So, a forced-air garage heater, that’s going to deliver instant heat, just like a regular furnace. Infrared garage heaters are going to radiate heat rather than using a conventional blower fan. And portable electric heaters require very little maintenance. Or you could pick up a kerosene heater. Now, a 23,000-BTU unit can easily handle an average garage.
TOM: And that’s exactly how I heated my garage. Now, when the pandemic began, I knew I’d be spending more time doing projects out there. So, we did two things. We bought a kerosene heater and I bought one that was about that same size. But also, we took one more very important step and that’s one that makes all the difference, which is to add insulation.
First off, let’s talk about the ceiling. You need one. A lot of garages don’t have ceilings; they’ve got open spaces up to the rafters. And when that happens, that’s exactly where all the heat goes. So, you can add a ceiling. You could use traditional drywall and then put insulation on the other side of that. Or if you just want to do something that’s going to save, maybe, not all the heat but be less expensive and get done pretty quickly, you could use the foil-faced foam boards, like the Dow boards that are foil-faced that are about an inch or an inch-and-a-half thick. And attach those to the what would be, essentially, the ceiling rafters and that would create the ceiling.
And a lot of garages also have open spaces for hatches that – where you maybe want to go up through this hatch to put some storage up there. You’ve got to kind of seal that, as well. You’ve basically got to stop that heat from going up.
And then second for that, you can think about insulating the garage walls. If they’re open, you can simply add fiberglass to them. If they’re not, you could think about doing a blown-in product. But either way, if you put insulation in that garage, you’re reducing the amount of heat that you need and you’re making sure that all the heat that you do basically create stays in that space. So you really need to do, too. And it might sound like a lot but it’s really not, you know?
Think about it: I bought a kerosene heater and I insulated the ceiling of my garage. The walls were already done. It was pretty much like a 1-day project. I may have spent about $400 or $500 on the insulation products, because I used a foil-faced board. But now, it’s fantastic. It’s a great space to work and I have just the right amount of heat to do that in.
LESLIE: Alright. Nelda in Georgia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
NELDA: I’m having a problem with the glass on my gas fireplace. There’s a white film on it and I just cannot get it off. I went to the place where I bought it and they gave me some glass cleaner. But that doesn’t work, either.
TOM: Well, if it’s carbon-based, it can be difficult to get off. So, there’s sort of a mechanical way to do it and then there’s another chemical way that you could try. So, mechanically, you could simply get a straight-edge razor blade and try to scrape it off like you would clean, say, paint off glass. So you can try that.
But the other way to try it is with oven cleaner. Because if it’s a carbon buildup, the oven cleaner will melt that carbon and make it possible to clean the glass, just like it melts the carbon on the inside of, say, the glass on your oven door.
NELDA: Oh, OK. Sure. I never thought about that.
TOM: But regular window cleaning is probably not going to do the trick, because that’s really just for dirt and grease. But if it’s built-up carbon, then it’s a lot harder to get off.
NELDA: I’ll try the oven cleaner. That sounds like a good idea.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to Tennessee. Joe is on the line and seems to have a lot of questions about the structure of his home. What’s going on?
JOE: Well, this house was finished in 1930. It’s brick and concrete and I have a couple of drooping corners.
TOM: OK. Yeah, house corners are not supposed to droop.
JOE: The roof definitely needs redone and I would rather having a living space upstairs, since I’ve got to replace the roof and most of the wood anyway.
JOE: What my real question would be – it is quite expensive to continue with brick because I probably have anywhere from 25 to 50 runs to continue on a 40×40 square. So, what could I use and still have some sort of R-rating on my insulation when I bring that brick up to make the ceiling and the top part of my house livable?
TOM: So, you have a brick house right now and you want to add a story to this? Is that correct?
JOE: Well, we have an upstairs.
JOE: It’s middle peak and window on each side. And it’s …
TOM: OK. And how is it sided right now?
JOE: It’s all brick.
TOM: So you’re saying when you take the roof off, you want to bring up the siding to kind of meet the new peak that’s going to be created. Is that correct?
JOE: There you go.
TOM: Alright. So, certainly, you could do it with the brick. And the other option, though, would be a complementary material, so one that would look good against brick. And we see a lot of homes that have two different types of siding. I mean they could have brick and they could have HardiePlank or they could have brick and they could have stucco. There’s a lot of different options for siding.
And regardless of what option you choose, though, the answer to your insulation question is – has nothing to do with it. To make sure that that space is properly insulated, you want to make sure you have good wall insulation and then good ceiling insulation and then good attic ventilation. Because all of those three things are going to work together.
So I think what I might think about, in doing this project, is what combination of siding material is going to flow well with that brick and look like it was always there? That’s the key. Sometimes when folks do these kinds of projects you’re talking about, you could tell it’s a patch, right? It just looks awkward.
JOE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. So you need to think about something that’s going to actually match nicely with that existing brick.
And I’ll tell you what, if you go to an architect for a project like this or a designer and you can – it’s very easy to do that on the drawing board, so to speak, which is all computer today. And you could do different colors and just really spend time deciding what you want this to look like when you’re done. And then you’ll know what material you need for that siding.
JOE: Do I still have to vent my roof if I seal it with spray foam, that new insulation? Spray foam?
TOM: No, you do not. You do not. And I’m glad you asked that question and clarified that. If you use spray-foam insulation, then that roof area becomes a conditioned space, as opposed to an unconditioned space. And you no longer have to have any ventilation. And it’s also a much more efficient way to go.
JOE: Now, am I going to create some sort of space that’s going to collect moisture in doing that?
TOM: No, you will not. Because when you put in spray-foam insulation, it expands to fill all the gaps.
So, you know, I have a very old house that was built in the last century. And we put spray-foam insulation in the attic and in doing so, we covered all of the old vents and sealed in the gable vent at the end. So I have zero ventilation in my attic space right now and we couldn’t be happier, because that attic never gets too cold, never gets too hot. And the energy bills have never been lower.
JOE: That’s awesome. That about does most of my questions, brother. I appreciate your time.
TOM: Alright, Joe. You’ve got a big project on your hands there, my friend, so good luck with it. And let us know if anything else pops that you have a question about, OK?
JOE: Yes, sir. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, with all the time we’ve been spending at home in 2021, Americans have been taking on home improvement and décor projects in record numbers. But as we improve our homes, should we also be improving our insurance policies to make sure that they’re properly protected from fires and floods and other disasters?
LESLIE: Well, Chip Merlin is an attorney, author and expert who specializes in helping homeowners protect their homes and fighting insurance companies who might try to figure out some ways to not pay claims for the very damage that you bought insurance for in the first place.
CHIP: Hey, Leslie, thanks.
And Tom, it’s great to be here with you, too.
TOM: They never do that, do they, Chip? Try to get out of paying claims? Doesn’t happen.
CHIP: Well, the unfortunate thing – yeah, the unfortunate thing is it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it’s a lot more profitable to take people’s premium money and then not pay the claim when it’s time to pay. And that’s what a lot of homeowners face, unfortunately.
And we’re finding it out, especially this year. What a crazy year we’ve had. We’ve had, what, 20 tropical storms, 8 hurricanes, the wildfires that were going through California, then Washington, Oregon, Colorado. We even had a derecho go through the middle of the United States with hurricane-force winds that you would just never think of. So, it’s been quite the year for a lot of homeowners to all of a sudden learn whether or not they have good insurance or not.
TOM: Well, Chip, I think insurance is something that is kind of a set-it-and-forget-it thing for maybe too many people. They purchase it once and they change it rarely. And then you don’t really review it. And I was thinking that with all of the home improvements that have been happening now – because we have just been getting hit with more and more questions than ever before, because folks are fixing up the places they’re spending all their time in. So, how do we know if we’ve got enough insurance? Let’s start there. And what are some of the things we might want to be looking for if we’re examining our policies?
CHIP: Well, I think one of the first things people should do when they’re examining their policies is to pick a great insurance agent that’s going to help them review the policy with them. And by that, I don’t mean doing it themselves over the internet but instead trying to get an honest-to-God, human-being insurance agent: one that’s got a lot of credentials; one that might even be with them for 20 years or so, that you can grow old with like your doctor you would want to or a good banker.
These people are very important and there’s only certain people out there that really should be doing it. And you shouldn’t buy it just from an individual who is your golfing buddy or something like that but somebody who’s passionate about selling insurance that’s fully going to protect you.
And this – especially since people have been fixing up homes. You’re adding value to your home so all of a sudden, you’re going to be underinsured. Some insurance policies actually require you – over a certain dollar amount, they’ll let the insurance company know about the changes during the policy year about what additions are being made to the home. You might be out of compliance already. So, it’s pretty important for people that are actually doing fixing up, remodeling, anything like that, to have a discussion with your insurance agent about what they’ve done and talk about the value that needs to be added to the policy.
LESLIE: I mean I think there’s so many things to think about when it comes to picking insurance. So, what types of coverage limitations, deductibles, exclusions are some things that you might overlook and not even think about asking about?
CHIP: Yeah, Leslie, that’s a great question. And it can be – for the deductibles, a lot of people don’t realize that if you have a hurricane to come through – and many times, in many states throughout the Southeast United States, there’s a special deductible that applies to hurricanes. And it’s not $500 or $1,000 but sometimes 5 percent of the amount of the insurance you’ve got. And that’s a lot of money for some people. They can’t even afford it but they don’t realize that that deductible’s there.
Some people don’t have flood insurance and they’re along the coastal areas. And one of the biggest problems from a hurricane is storm surge. The storm surge from a hurricane is typically not covered under your regular homeowners policy. You have to get special flood insurance.
Out in California where you may have earthquakes – and don’t get me wrong, we have earthquake claims going on in Oklahoma, right now, from fracking and things like that. So people don’t think, “Geez, do I need to have special earthquake coverage?” And most of the time, you do. And so you have to go out and ask your agent, “Geez, do I need these special coverages because I’m in an area that’s susceptible to this?”
So, again, when I talk to people and they’re asking me these questions – and I’m not trying to scare anybody, because who wants to think about catastrophe happening? Not just a natural disaster but the financial catastrophe afterward. Most people just want to not think about that. It’s not normal for us to think about bad things happening to us. But you can rest much, much better at night if you’ll do one thing and that’s call a good insurance agent. And it might be the one you have right now. But if you don’t know that, for heaven sake, go shop for one.
And a lot of times, people think, “Well, I’m afraid to do that. They’re going to oversell me.” No, good insurance agents won’t do that. They’ll sell you what you need, what you can afford, as well as make sure you don’t have gaps in the coverage that you’ve got.
TOM: I’m curious. With so many of us now working from home due to COVID, are we sort of now conducting business from home? If we were, say, an employee and now the – my employer wants me to work from home because I can’t go in the office, does that create any scenario that would impact my coverage because I’m now doing that?
CHIP: Yes, it does. A lot of insurance policies actually have a limitation on what’s called “business/personal property.” And that’s – and depending upon the definition of the insurance policy, some – any property that you’re using for the maintenance of a commercial enterprise within your own home is limited to – and whatever that X is, that’s as much as you’re going to go get. So if you have a home study, computers and things like that, you’ve got to watch out with respect to those limitations. They’re typically sublimit, which means they – insurance company intentionally puts limits to that so people are not running a business out of their home.
The truth is today now – and we’ve had a major change. People are not going into their offices; they are working from home. And you – many people have one, sometimes two, if both couples are working from home, home offices set up in their various rooms. Well, quite a bit of – especially electronic equipment set up and things like that so that you need to check to make certain that those business property is covered under what’s called an “endorsement,” an extra ride that you get to your homeowners policy.
If they start getting pushback from an insurance adjuster or they’re just not returning your phone call or just – you can ask – well, many people don’t believe this but you can actually call the insurance regulator, your insurance commissioner. And typically, they will respond back with a phone call. And I tell – sometimes that’s the easiest way to get a great response back from the insurance companies, to let them know your state regulator is going to be on their neck if they don’t take care of you. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, so to speak.
If you still don’t get some type of great treatment from the insurance company then, then you might have to go see a professional, especially if it’s a more expensive claim. And the two people that can do this are either attorneys or public adjusters.
Now, most people know what attorneys do and you want to look for an attorney that specializes in insurance law, not somebody who does divorce and family law and things like that and doesn’t really understand insurance. Today, you can find attorneys who limit their practice to doing things such as insurance law, like what my firm does.
There’s another group of individuals that can help out, as well, known as public adjusters. Public insurance adjusters don’t represent the insurance company; they represent the public. They represent the policy holders. And you want to check for credentials with them, as well, to make certain that they’re the best, that they’re licensed. And if you find that right type of person, often a public adjuster can help you out, to make certain that you’re getting the full amount that’s owed on your property-insurance policy. That’s what they – that’s what their bread and butter is. And they can help you out and people should not be afraid to go and search on the internet for them, as well as attorneys.
TOM: That’s a great point, Chip.
Now, I’ve often told folks that the public adjusters may often work, on their fee, as a percentage of the money they get back for you. So, your interests are aligned. They’re going to find as much as they can. And also, they’re very skilled at finding everything, every single thing that should be in that claim. You know, it’s not just replacing the wall, it’s replacing the wall and then putting on a coat of primer and putting on a coat of finish paint. They get every little nickel/dime thing that could be in that claim in it so that they make the most they can. And they make sure you’re well represented.
CHIP: Most of the time, I tell people that their fee, which is typically 10 percent and less, is going to more than pay for it. They will more than make up for their fee on what you get back, because they are experts at evaluating the amount of damage, both personal-property damage that you’re going to have at your home, as well as how to properly fix something. Many people don’t know – “I’ve never repaired this before. How much is it really going to cost to do a first-class job?” And they’ll make certain that you get that.
TOM: Great advice. Chip Merlin, attorney and author.
Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Chip. I want to tell folks how to get in touch with you.
You can take a look at the website, MerlinLawGroup.com. That’s Merlin – M-e-r-l-i-n – LawGroup.com. Or pick up the phone and call Chip and his team at 877-449-4700. 877-449-4700.
Chip, great work. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Thanks for joining us here at The Money Pit. Give us a call, let us know what you are working on at 888-MONEY-PIT and we could have a great prize for you. We’ve got, up for grabs, the Blue by ADT Wireless Outdoor Camera worth $199.
Now, ADT just launched a DIY smart-home system this year and it’s called Blue by ADT. It’s going to help protect you and help connect you with people and all the things that you love the most. And it’s an expandable system. So once you figure out what’s really best for your family and your home, you can find that within Blue by ADT and do it yourself for a great project and a way to keep your family safe at home.
It’s a great prize worth 199 bucks.
TOM: Give us a call right now. We will give you the answer to your home improvement question and the chance to win that great Outdoor Wireless Camera from ADT. You can learn more at BlueByADT.com.
LESLIE: Well, we’re all spending a lot of time cleaning these days and cleaning counters is something I know I’m probably doing a dozen times a day, between my house and work. And even before I go to bed, I feel like I have bleach wipes on my hand or a cleaner-covered hand. And I’m going up and down the staircase. It’s just the new pandemic cleaning.
But you have to really make sure that everything is being cleaned properly and you’re using the right solution for the right material. And there are some difficult spots to clean in the house, only because it’s got to have the very specific products. And I’m talking about natural-stone countertops. They’re popular but boy, are they difficult to keep clean.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. And most of us use sort of an all-purpose product to clean those surfaces. But with stone, you’ve got to be careful because if you use vinegar or any acidic cleaner on a natural-stone counter, like granite, it will dull them over time. And a lot of the all-purpose cleaners actually include citric acid. So, you’ve got to read the label to make sure.
Instead, you just want to stick to plain water and dish soap and then buff them dry with a microfiber cloth so you get a good sheen. Now, after you clean, you should disinfect. And when you disinfect a stone counter, you want to stay away from bleach.
Now, Leslie, if you’re doing laminate tops or tile tops, you’re good with the bleach wipes. But for stone, you’ve got to stay away because it’s going to have the same dulling effect. It’s better to use a solution of at least 60- to 70-percent isopropyl alcohol. And that will do just fine at killing both bacteria and viruses.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, let’s talk about sealing your countertops. You have to do it, right? I mean you hear about it but I know I don’t do it as often as I should. And it’s something that really has to be done with a regular maintenance, because it can help keep that counter clean and help keep your family safe.
Now, stone counters are porous. So if they’re not sealed, stains, meat juices, grease, oil, any other yucky kitchen stuff that you’re whipping up in there or anything that you spill on those counters are going to get stuck in there. And then it can soak into your food. It’s just not a good thing.
So, check it out. Test whether or not you need to seal your countertops. Go ahead, drop some water on them. If that water beads up, you’re all good. But if that water tends to seep into the stone, then you definitely need to seal that surface.
TOM: Yeah. And one last tip: don’t forget to clean under the appliances that sort of live full-time on your countertop. We’re talking about the coffeemakers and the mixers and stuff like that. You want to get in the habit of actually removing all of that stuff off the counter, maybe once a week, so you get a complete round of proper cleaning and disinfecting. Otherwise, all of those germs, all those food particles, all those yucky meat juices, the viruses, the bacteria that come with them will sort of seek a safe harbor space under those appliances. That’s why you want to take them off and give it a good, solid cleaning at least on a weekly basis.
LESLIE: John from Pennsylvania writes us with a question: “Is there a way to keep snow from forming at the edge of my roof and then collapsing my gutters?”
TOM: Yeah. So, it’s probably not as much snow as it’s the ice that’s forming at the edge of your roof. Because what happens is the area higher up on your roof, when it will get warm – because the heat from the house gets up in the attic space and warms the underside, so it causes the melting. And then that melted water runs down, hits the edge, which is not over your rest of your house, and freezes. And it’s actually called an “ice dam,” John. And in the worst situations, it can actually work its way up underneath the roof shingles and leak into the house.
Now, if the gutters are collapsing, they probably are not also attached very well. So what I would do is I would take out the gutter spikes – those long, 7- or 8-inch nails that hold the gutters in place – and replace them with gutter bolts. They are – they look like the same diameter as the spike but they have a sort of lag-bolt type thread at the end. And you can use the same holes. And I’ll tell you what, once those things are put in, I have never, ever seen a gutter pull away.
I typically replace those gutter spikes with the bolts all the time when I’m working on a new house, because it just does such a great job. They’re very inexpensive, too. They usually come in white or brown. You can buy them at a home center, 15 or 20 in a pack because they’re not very expensive. And they really do a great job at keeping those gutters where they belong: attached to your house.
LESLIE: And truly, that’s the only place they’re going to do their jobs. So keep them where they need to be.
TOM: Well, do you ever feel like your home might be missing that sort of vintage charm? Leslie has got a few tips on how to add that friendly feeling back in without a total remodel, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie, what’s the secret?
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, a lot of people truly love the look of vintage. It’s got a charm that you know and you really enjoy. And that charm itself can add value to your home. But if you’re living in, say, a fairly new house, you probably don’t have a lot of those special touches that give it that charming feel.
So, one way that you can capture that vintage feeling without giving up modern convenience is to simply add a salvaged, antique fireplace mantel. Even if you don’t have a real fireplace, you can just put it in any room. And that decorative fireplace, that whole mantel surround, will quickly become the focal point of the room. And they really can spruce up an existing fireplace that tends to have no pizzazz.
And there are a ton of places that you can look up to find these pieces. There are architectural-salvage shops. Because when, say, an older home is renovated or even torn down, it’s becoming more popular to save those architectural pieces. And then these salvage centers buy them and then resell them to somebody like you. So you can find things like gorgeous mantels, clawfoot bathtubs, stained-glass windows, antique doorknobs.
I mean I even saw one – I want to say it was in Nebraska. There was an entire wood-paneled room that was taken out of some department-store owner-from-the-40s home. And it was this entire wood-paneled library sold in components that you could take it wherever, to your house, and install it. So you can find some really beautiful things.
You can find some of these dealers online, as well. So if there’s nobody in your area, you can definitely look them up online. Check out Etsy. You can find some great things there, even OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist. So many places that you can go to look. Just start searching for “antique mantel” or something like that – “architectural salvage” – and you’ll find some places by you or online to make that home that’s new and modern have that charming feel that we all love.
TOM: Well, you can add charm to add warmth to your home or you can add radiant heat. How do you like that segue? That’s coming up on the very next edition of The Money Pit. We’re going to talk about how you can add radiant heat to different spaces in your house, because it will not only warm your floors but it can actually make your entire home more comfortable and cut back on those energy bills.
Until then, 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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