Tired of chilly floors? Adding radiant heat to your home’s floor can provide a for a very comfortable and energy efficient home, not to mention stopping the shock of setting foot on a cold floor first thing in the morning! We highlight two systems that can work for both new and existing homes.
Are you tired of feeling, well, tired? For many people, these shorter and colder days can bring on a case of the blues that can impact your mood, focus and energy. We’ve got easy DIY pick-me-ups to beat the blues and raise your spirit!
Want to get the most out of the hassle and expense of getting firewood? All that hard work that can be undone all too easily if you don’t store the firewood properly before tossing it into your fireplace. We’ll tell you how.
Plus, we ask what is on YOUR to do list for the New Year. Whether you’re dealing with a repair or dreaming about a reno, we dig in to serve as your coach, helper or home improvement therapist for all things remodeling, decor or fix up!
Plus, we answer your home improvement questions about, replacing flush valve on toilet, installing gutter guards, programming a garage door, replacing a kitchen window.
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 hope that you guys had a very excellent New Year’s celebration and that we are all looking forward and feeling optimistic about the year ahead. We are feeling very optimistic about helping you with your home improvement projects, your home décor, your remodeling, your reno projects. If you’ve got one that you’re planning, one that you’re thinking about doing or one that maybe you tried last year and put off for a while and need some help getting it going again, give us a call because we would love to help. The way to get in touch with us is by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, adding radiant heat to your home’s floor can provide a very comfortable and energy-efficient home, not to mention stopping that shock of setting foot on a cold floor first thing in the morning. It’s awful. We’re going to highlight two systems that can work for both new and existing homes.
LESLIE: And if you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, you know that gathering and chopping firewood is hard work. Well, that hard work can be undone all too easily if you don’t store that wood properly before you toss it into the fireplace. We’re going to tell you how.
TOM: And are you tired of feeling, well, tired? You know, for many people, the shorter and colder days can bring on a case of the blues that can impact your mood, your focus and your energy. So, we’re going to share some of our energy with easy DIY pick-me-ups that will help your spirit, just ahead.
LESLIE: But first, what’s on your New Year to-do list? What’s this project that you’re thinking about getting done this new year? Well, maybe you’re dealing with a repair or you’re dreaming about a renovation. Consider us your coach, your helper, your home improvement therapist. Whatever it is, we are here for all things remodeling, décor and fix-up.
TOM: Post your questions at MoneyPit.com or call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get started. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Ready to talk about basements, we’ve got Charles from Maryland on the line. What is going on?
CHARLES: I’ve got a problem with water coming in over a new French-drain system that was put in. The house was remodeled and the French-drain system was put in the basement 7 years ago. And about a year-and-a-half ago, all of a sudden we started getting water coming in on certain rains – rains that either wind – involved wind or in heavy downpours – that is coming in on the top of the floor.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK.
CHARLES: And I can’t figure that out. I eliminated one thing. There was a drainpipe that came around from the back of the house, that had garage-roof water coming through it.
CHARLES: And that seemed to take care of some – a problem during the summer. But recently, in two storms that were heavy downpours, we had water come in. And I’m talking maybe 6, maybe 30 gallons of water total on the floor that I sucked up.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. That’s a lot, yeah.
CHARLES: What it is – I sucked it up with the wet vac, OK? And I have …
TOM: Right. Yeah. Which probably holds 5 gallons and you had to do that 6 times.
CHARLES: Yeah. Correct, yes. You’re right.
And I did put mulch up against the house the last time – this last time happening.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
CHARLES: But the problem is that the water coming onto the floor, I noticed, was – had black dye in it, which is the black dye from the mulch.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think you’re on the right track.
First of all, whenever you have water that gets into a basement consistent with rainfall, it is never, ever caused by rising water tables. And rising water tables are really the only reason that you would need a French-drain system. So, the reason that the water’s getting in has everything to do with the drainage conditions outside. And it sounds to me like you’re sort of attacking it a little bit but there’s some component of it that’s missing. So let’s kind of step back and cover the basics.
First of all, you need to make sure that your gutters exist on every eave of the house. Secondly, they’ve got to be absolutely clean. They have to make sure – and including the downspouts. You have to make sure that you have enough downspouts. You need 1 downspout for every 600 to 800 square feet of water, so you can try to maybe – of roof surface, sorry. So maybe you can rough that out in your head.
TOM: And then every single one of those downspouts must, must, must be discharging at least 4, 5, 6 or 7 feet away from the house.
CHARLES: Right. OK.
TOM: You can’t be draining anywhere near the foundation. Those first few feet of soil have to be kept as dry as possible.
Now, if that’s done and done perfectly, the only thing left is the grading. You added mulch to try to address that but mulch doesn’t really address it, because that’s kind of like laying sponges around your house. What you want to do is use clean fill dirt, not topsoil and not mulch. Clean fill dirt. Least expensive dirt you can find. You can order some up from a landscape supply house. Have a small truckload of it delivered and you want to add it to the foundation perimeter. And you want to slope it so that it drops 6 inches over 4 feet, so you have that slight slope to it.
Now, once you get that in there and it slopes and it’s tamped in there well – you can use a hand-tamping iron to pack it down. After it’s sloped properly and gets in there, then you can add some mulch on top of that to prevent erosion or you could put a little topsoil over it and plant grass seed in the spring. But you’ve got to take care of those – the gutters and the grading. And that’s going to do it.
You can prove this to yourself as you still – if you question it. The next time you have one of those very severe storms, you know, throw on your galoshes and your rain gear and go outside and watch what’s happening with that water.
TOM: And I bet you you’re going to see something is overwhelmed or overflowing in some place that you didn’t expect and maybe even in a couple areas.
TOM: And once that water gets in around the foundation, it can connect with the concrete slab. And we’ve seen it pop up 10, 20, 30 feet away from the source.
In fact, Leslie, I’ll never forget the time that you – it was early on in our career when you came home from a trip and found …
LESLIE: And stepped into a very squishy basement floor?
TOM: And it turned out – was it a ball or a toy or something that had blocked one downspout?
LESLIE: No, it had disconnected in a buried downspout.
TOM: Oh, right. OK.
LESLIE: So the downspout went into the ground and completely separated from the connecting point that then redirected all that water. And it just was ponding in this one area and I guess it completely, though, came into the basement in another part.
TOM: Yep. It just finds its way over.
So that’s what you need to do: focus on that drainage. And that’s going to solve this for you, Charles, OK?
CHARLES: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project and let us know how you make out.
CHARLES: Will do. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Bye-bye.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to Patty in Illinois who’s got a toilet that is running constantly. Tell us what’s going on.
PATTY: Well, it doesn’t run constantly but it runs about 5 seconds, several times an hour. And it’s gone to the point that my water bill has gone up quite a bit and I’m needing to know if I need a new toilet or if I need new seals or a new handle pump or – what would you think?
LESLIE: It’s actually an easy fix and I mean this tends to happen kind of regularly. Unfortunately, people don’t realize that there’s actually some level of toilet maintenance, because it’s just an appliance in your house that’s there and you use it and you expect it to work.
But inside the tank itself, there’s a fill and a flush valve. And those need to be replaced not that often but every couple of years or so. And of course, now that you’re dealing with this water-running issue – Tom, is it Fluidmaster?
TOM: Yeah, Fluidmaster is sort of a mainstay of replacement valve parts.
And they just wear out, Patty, over time, so this is a pretty easy fix.
LESLIE: And it’s probably 10 bucks to get both of them. But if you go to Fluidmaster’s website, the only reason I recommend that is because on their website, they’ve got a really great how-to video. So you can actually see what the fill valve is, what the flush valve, the flapper valves – you know exactly what you’re looking at and how to replace it. And it’s a really easy do-it-yourself project that you can do confidently and definitely decrease your water bill.
PATTY: Thank you. That sounds wonderful. I appreciate it and thank you so much for taking my call. Love your show.
TOM: You’re very welcome, Patty. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Dave in Prescott, Arizona on the line who’s got a question for us. What’s going on at your money pit?
DAVE: I’ve got a 1,300-square-foot upper deck and I don’t want it to leak to the lower deck but it’s a lot of area, obviously.
TOM: Wow. Yeah.
DAVE: And they put Kool Deck on it 18 years ago or 17 years ago when they built the house.
TOM: OK. Yeah. OK.
DAVE: You know Kool Deck, like a pool?
TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm.
DAVE: And it’s – we had 33 inches of snow 2 years ago. It broke all of the seals from each piece of plywood.
TOM: Did you file a homeowners insurance claim for that? Because it was brought on by the storm. It seems like you could have.
DAVE: No, I didn’t. I didn’t even think of that, to be clearly honest.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. Well …
DAVE: The problem is it was screwed down with deck screws but the Kool Deck over top of it, you can’t get the screws out.
TOM: Yep. Right. Yeah, exactly. Mm-hmm.
DAVE: I tried a Sawzall. I’ve tried just about everything
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
DAVE: I don’t want to screw the beams up; they’re not rotted. But the plywood is actually rotted. And this plywood is not that OSB stuff.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Now, tell me about this deck. So, you say it’s 1,300 square feet. That’s a heck of a big deck. What’s underneath it? Is there living space underneath this?
DAVE: No, there’s not. There’s a porch underneath it.
DAVE: And we don’t want it to leak down to the porch.
TOM: Of course not. Yeah. Mm-hmm. I mean if I was doing a wood deck, really, anywhere in the country I would be using fiberglass on top of traditional wood-deck sheeting – because fiberglass is incredibly durable and 100-percent waterproof – whether you had living space under it or not.
Now, in your case, you’re over a porch. It’s outdoor space. It certainly is sort of like living space. It’s not your bedroom or your bathroom or your living room but it still needs the same kind of protection. It needs to be completely waterproof.
And the situation that you find yourself in is because it wasn’t put down right to begin with. It’s kind of hard to figure out how to fix it, because you can’t get to the problem where it’s – the problem that caused it in the first place.
Let’s go back to my comment, though, about homeowners insurance. Because if this was caused by a storm, it’s a one sort of one point in time where this failure occurred. You can – might still be able to – with your same home insurance company, you might still be able to get a claim here and have them rip the whole thing off and replace it, start from the bottom up. Because frankly, that’s what has to be done.
DAVE: Yeah. All the joists underneath are fine and all that.
TOM: Right. When was the storm?
DAVE: It was 2 years ago.
TOM: Well, you know, you might want to have a conversation with a public adjuster and see if they think there’s an opportunity to claim it. You can say that it’s something that revealed itself over time but it was caused by that storm incident. Because really, it has to be taken completely off. And if I did that, in my case, I think I would go with a fiberglass deck and not the structure that’s there now. Because I would want to do it once, do it right and not have to do it again.
I wish I had better news for you. We can’t improve a project that wasn’t done right to begin with, Dave. Does that make sense?
DAVE: Well, I know it went through inspection and all that stuff but that’s, like I said, 16 or 18 years ago.
DAVE: Maybe it was proper or whatever. But fiberglass will give that much?
TOM: Fiberglass is incredibly durable, yeah. We use it all the time here in the Northeast. It can take the snow, it can take the heat. It can have a texture put into it so that you’re not slippery. So I would definitely look into that.
DAVE: Yeah, that’d be awesome. I never thought about fiberglass.
TOM: Alright. Well, give it a shot. Dave, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, for many of you, one of the most unpleasant steps that you can take in your home is onto a cold floor with bare feet. And that’s just one of the reasons adding radiant heat to your floor is a great idea. Not only does it stop toe shock – that’s right, that’s what we’re going to call it; it’s toe shock – but it can actually make your entire home more comfortable and help cut down on your energy bills.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. So there are two types of radiant heat: hydronic and electric. Hydronic, of course, being hot-water radiant heat and electric being electric.
So, deciding what kind is best comes down to installation and energy efficiency. So, first, let’s talk about hydronic radiant heat. You can use it throughout the house. It’s very effective. It’s extremely efficient. It’s usually installed into a tracked floor.
So there’s a subfloor that has grooves in it. There’s a special type of plywood that you can lay PEX in. That’s cross-linked polyethylene. That’s that new kind of plumbing pipe. And then that PEX is covered with a regular subfloor and then your finished floor goes on top of that. And that means that the entire floor surface is radiated upward and keeps you very, very warm. Of course, because it is – requires pretty much replacement of those floors, it’s usually best for a new house or a new addition.
Now, if you just want to do a small area of your home – like, say, your bathroom floor – electric radiant is the way to go. Perfect for that supplemental heat in the bathroom, maybe under the tile in the kitchen. It’s much more expensive to run. It’s not very efficient but it could be a good choice for those contained spaces, especially when you couple it with a programmable thermostat so it only runs when needed, like when you hop in the shower or first thing in the morning. You could put it on a timer.
The installation is pretty straightforward. There is usually a mat that is laid down under a finished floor, like a tile. And the mat is sized for the space in the room. It is wired to a circuit and a thermostat and it pretty much just runs like any other electric-heating circuit from there on out.
So, hydronic or electric, both good systems for warm-floor heating. One mostly for new construction and the other for just an update of an area, like a kitchen or a bath.
LESLIE: Marcia in Illinois needs some help getting a window unstuck. Tell us about it.
MARCIA: I have a window over my sink in my kitchen, so I have to lean over the sink to raise this window. And it’s always been extremely hard to get up or down and I just don’t know what to do with it. I think I’ve tried WD-40.
TOM: Is this a wood window, Marcia?
MARCIA: Yes, it’s a wood window.
TOM: So, probably over the years, it’s gotten bigger, swollen in its place. And it’s gotten tighter in the jambs. And I’ll presume with paint, too, over the years that that didn’t make it any better. So, why don’t you think about a replacement window? Look, we can talk to you about taking this whole window apart and sanding down the jambs and sanding down the sashes and making it easier to use and replacing the cords and the balance and all that work. But I think this would be a good time to treat yourself to a replacement window.
You don’t have to do all the windows in the house. You can buy a double-hung replacement window at a home center today for a couple hundred bucks and it’s a pretty good-quality window. So, you may want to think about replacing just this one window. Or in the alternative, you can pull the trim off, you can take the sashes apart and you could sand them and sand them well. And that will make them a little bit smaller all the way around and make them easier to operate. And of course, also make sure that the balances are working.
Now, if it’s an old, wood window, you may have cords or chains that go up and you want to make sure that they’re still attached, because that gives you a little bit of assistance as you open and close the window.
MARCIA: OK. Well, I appreciate your advice. I guess I’ll have to invest in a new window.
TOM: I think it’s going to be easier than all the work it would take to get the old window working. And I’m all for easy and that’s why I suggest that. OK, Marcia? Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
And look, if you’ve got these old windows, you can work on them and put 8, 10 hours into a window and sure, it’ll be just as good as new. But why? It’s still going to be an old, drafty, wood window when you can go buy a double-pane, vinyl-clad window – a replacement window – that slips inside the existing opening and just have better energy efficiency and a window that really works, tilts in to clean, the works. Just doesn’t make any sense.
LESLIE: You’re still going to have to reach over that sink. It’s just going to be easier to work.
LESLIE: Mark in Wisconsin is having a gutter issue. Tell us what’s going on.
MARK: Oh, yes. We have lots of trees around our house. And so, in the fall, they fill up with leaves and also, we have pine needles and lots of acorns. So I was wondering what product you would recommend for curtailing that issue.
TOM: Well, there are many, many, many different types of gutter guards, as I’m sure you know. The basic screening that we kind of all grew up with, as the very first gutter guard, is somewhat effective but it’s high-maintenance because all of those – especially those pine needles get right through that. You end up having to pull the screens off to clean it.
So, one product you might want to think about is this type of gutter guard that, essentially, let the leaves wash off the gutter but takes the water into the gutter. They lay on top of the gutter, they go up under the first roof shingle and they work on the principle of surface tension. As the water runs down the roof, it comes across this gutter guard and it goes over sort of a curved edge into the gutter. But the leaves wash off the type – off the top.
There’s many different manufacturers that make this but I’ve seen them work and work very well, in most situations. If you happen to have a roof that has a high pitch with a lot of – forcing that water coming down in a heavy rainstorm, I can see it also bounce right off of that and go over the side of the house, which you don’t want it to do.
The other thing that you might want to think about is if you do choose to use one of the screen systems, make sure it’s a hinged system. And these screen systems today have hinges so that you can lift up – lift them up every 4 feet or so, get your hand in there and clean out the junk in the gutter.
MARK: Oh, OK. I’ve never seen a hinged system before.
TOM: On the MoneyPit.com website at MoneyPit.com, we have an article called “Cost of Gutter Guards: Are They Worth It? Tips to Select the Best Way to Prevent Clogged Gutters,” which describes about a dozen different types of gutter guards that are on the market right now. So take a look at that and hopefully, that will help you out.
MARK: OK. Sounds real good. Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, chopping and moving firewood is hard work: hard work that can be undone very easily if you don’t store the wood properly before tossing it into the fire.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, the key is to keep it dry. When firewood gets wet, that wood isn’t going to burn properly. It’s going to put out more steam and smoke than actual heat.
TOM: Now, it’s always best to store firewood up off the ground by stacking it on a base or on a firewood rack. And also, don’t make this key mistake. I used to see it all the time when I was inspecting homes. And that is don’t lean the pile of firewood against the side of your house or make it too tight against the side of the house, because it will attract termites and carpenter ants. And they will shoot right into your house to extend their meal from dinner through to dessert.
LESLIE: Yeah. It could be a mess. But you know what? Even though it looks so cute next to the house, just don’t put it there.
Alright, guys. Now, when you’re stacking it, you want to pack the firewood snuggly but make sure you leave enough airflow to minimize the risk of mold and mildew. And don’t stack it higher than 4 feet unless your rack or however you’re placing it has side supports.
TOM: Yeah. And by the way, even if you do have those side supports, you want to keep the top of the pile level so it won’t collapse and fall as you’re using it.
And lastly, keep that firewood stored outdoors under a waterproof cover so it stays dry. And that will get that blaze burning much more quickly.
888-666-3974. Do you have a home improvement question, a reno question, a remodeling question that we can help with? Reach out to us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Cheryl in Texas on the line who’s looking to redo a bathroom and make it more modern with just a shower. How can we help you?
CHERYL: Well, I am the mother of four sons and as they get bigger, they no longer like to get in the bathtub.
CHERYL: And we find that they are always in my room, in my shower. We’re wanting to take out the tub that’s in their bathroom and turn it into a shower. My issue is I don’t have a lot of space. It’s a Hollywood bath and then the tub and toilet are in a separate little room that you can close off. And the door facing – of that little room sits right next to the tub itself.
So, my question is – when I pull that tub out, the plan was to put a shower pan down and tile the area and then put a glass door – either a sliding door (audio gap) door on there. Will that be a wide-enough space if it’s only the width of a standard tub?
TOM: Cheryl, I think you definitely can find a shower pan that can fit the width of that tub, sort of elbow to elbow if you’re standing in it. I mean think about it: if you’re in the tub, you’re taking a shower, right? You’ve got room on – to the right and to the left of you. So we want a shower pan, essentially, that’s the same size.
Now, when it comes to residential, prefabricated shower pans, they start at around 24×24, so that’s 2-foot-square. That would be probably the smallest that you would need but you might be able to go up even bigger.
But a little trick of the trade: if you were to find, for example, that for whatever reason – the way this room is configured – a 24×24 would not work, then you should shop for a smaller shower pan, which you will find, sold for RVs – recreational vehicles. Because they have tiny showers in them, right? And there’s a whole host of RV shower pans that are smaller than 24×24. I don’t think you’re going to need it. I think you’ll be fine starting there, maybe even going up.
But the size of the shower pan is what you want to figure out first. Then you can basically build around that, OK? Does that make sense?
CHERYL: Sure, sure. That’s what I want to do. OK.
TOM: Alright, Cheryl. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Laurie, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LAURIE: We have a Chamberlain ¼-horsepower garage-door opener and it has no remote.
LAURIE: We bought the house as-is, so we have no remote for it. Also, it has a keypad on the outside, which I’m unable to use. So, my question was: if I go to Home Depot or Lowe’s, would a universal remote work or do I have to call a garage-door company out to sell us a Chamberlain remote and program it?
TOM: Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you get the model number of the Chamberlain garage-door opener, which is probably printed on the back of the unit, go to the Chamberlain website and get the owner’s manual for the door opener? With that owner’s manual, you should be able to program the keypad. It’ll tell you the right sequence to do that. And also, you most likely can find out from Chamberlain exactly which remote is designed to work with that unit.
Now, Chamberlain is a very good company and in fact, they have a new technology that’s called MyQ. And the cool thing about the MyQ technology is you can actually put this MyQ unit in your garage and then you’ll be able to open and close your garage door with your smartphone. So, they’re way ahead of the game on this stuff.
LAURIE: Yeah. That’s what I was going to ask you, too. Is this one too old to do that?
TOM: I think it actually works on every garage-door opener that was built after 1996, so it may not be. It might be fine.
LESLIE: Can’t remember if it’s ‘96 or ‘94.
TOM: Yeah, it goes back over 10 years.
LAURIE: Good. OK. Because this one is about six years old.
TOM: I think that’s how I would proceed. I would not just go buy something and hope it works. I would do the research and you’ll figure it out. OK, Laurie?
LAURIE: OK. I’ll go on their web page. Thank you for the advice.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, for many people, the shorter and colder days bring on a case of the blues called “seasonal affective disorder” and it can impact your mood, your focus and your energy. Now, if that sounds familiar, here is one reason to smile. Many folks find that a few easy changes in your living space can spruce up your home and your spirits.
TOM: Yep. So, first, improve lighting. Now, one reason that SAD impacts your mood is your body’s response to the lack of lighting. So, always look for ways to improve the lighting in your home. Update the light bulbs, remove or reduce window treatments, allow for as much sunshine to get in as possible.
Now, you can also even pick up a UV light that will simulate natural light. And that can be helpful in making you feel much better.
LESLIE: Now, you might also consider planting an indoor garden. Colorful flowers, even herbs can go a long way toward improving your physical and your mental health. Just make sure to choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight, since most vegetables need as much as 6 hours of direct sunlight every day to grow and to thrive.
TOM: And to put a smile on your face from the front door, why not add some pick-me-up to that space and raise your spirits before you step inside? Polish the hardware, swap out a doormat, small changes that go a long way. New paint on a door or new hardware bring even more freshness to that area.
LESLIE: And finally, don’t forget to please the most powerful of your senses: your sense of smell. Citrus scents are known to energize and to rejuvenate. And jasmine and grapefruit can ease depression and sadness. Now, use the oils or incense or even candles to add that aroma to your living space and you’ll feel so much better.
TOM: For more great ideas to spruce up your space for winter, visit MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Cynthia in New York is on the line and there seems to be a whole host of problems going on with this tile floor. I was going to start itemizing but why don’t you just tell us what’s going on?
CYNTHIA: My house was built in 1948. It’s oak hardwood floors throughout. I bought 12-inch-square ceramic tile from Lowe’s in order to put in an area coming in from the front door, going through the foyer area. And last year, I installed – had it installed. And it was during a heavy rainstorm, so the repair people cut the tiles right inside my house and created tremendous – there was a cement dust throughout.
And when the installers left, they told me that the grout should be sealed, which I did using a special spray can. And they said that they would return to finish on the edges to prevent tripping, et cetera, because it was raised slightly higher than the rest of the floors.
After a few weeks, I noticed movement of the tiles and then a couple cracked. And now, all of the tiles move and the grout in the heaviest traveling areas has turned brown when I wet-mop it. The rest remains white.
TOM: OK. So, Cynthia, let me just summarize this. Essentially, you’ve had this tile down for less than a year and the tiles are getting loose?
TOM: Alright. So, the installation was not done correctly. The grout – the porosity of the grout – whether it’s getting brown, red, yellow or blue I really don’t care so much about, because that’s all meaningless when the tile is not adhered well.
So the problem here is that the installation sounds like it was done incorrectly. I don’t know how they adhered the tiles, I don’t know how they prepared the floor but there is no way that tile should be loosening up inside of a year and having all of these problems associated with them. So, this is a situation where it really is the installer’s responsibility. And if you can get that installer back, I think they owe you a new floor.
CYNTHIA: Yeah. I can’t stick one here and stick one there or that sort of thing.
TOM: You’re fighting a losing battle, OK? Because you had – you saw it right away; they started to loosen up right away. Now it’s just getting worse. And the reason the tiles crack is because they’re not supported evenly underneath.
So this all comes down to installation. If the floor was put down correctly, those tiles would be rock-solid. Insofar as the grout is concerned, yeah, you do seal the grout. It is a maintenance issue to maintain it. I’m not so concerned about that. It certainly wouldn’t crumble if the tiles were secure. But that really is the issue. The tiles have to be removed at this point. The adhesive has to be pulled out. You may need another layer of underlayment. I’m not quite sure, again, how it was attached. And if it’s done correctly, though, it literally can last indefinitely.
Cynthia, thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Andrew in Pennsylvania posted a question that I think a lot of people can relate to. “I need to quiet down my home office.”
You guys, you probably never realized how noisy things were in your house until you spent so much time in it.
TOM: You all had home offices and nobody else was home.
LESLIE: Right. Truly. Well, Andrew is writing: “Is it possible to insulate an interior wall without removing the drywall?”
I guess he’s looking to help quiet it down.
TOM: Yeah. And he’s making an assumption that a lot of people make, Leslie, and that is that insulation quiets walls. That insulation by itself is going to sound-deaden and the truth is it doesn’t.
You know, insulation by itself actually doesn’t do very much at all. So, you need to have a better strategy, so I’m going to give you a couple other things that you can think about.
First of all, one way to do this – simple way with existing walls – is to put a second layer of drywall over the layers of drywall you have right now. And then in between those layers, you’re going to adhere them with a special type of sound-deadening adhesive that is simply known as green glue. And if you Google “green glue for sound,” you’ll find all the information on this. It basically creates that airspace between layers of drywall that helps to absorb all the sound.
Now, the other option is, if you were perhaps doing a new installation, is to add a product called QuietRock. And there are other products that are similar to this but they’re sound-deadening drywall. So, basically, the drywall itself is designed with a sound-deadening system sort of built into it.
Now, if you do have the wall framing exposed, to kind of circle back to insulation, one type of insulation actually is effective in reducing sound and it’s rock wool. ROCKWOOL has a version that is specifically designed to be a sound-reducing insulation. And I’ve actually seen this stuff being demonstrated at very loud places and it does work pretty darn well. But to do that, of course, you have to tear off the existing wall – the drywall that’s there now – and pretty much start insulating from scratch.
But regular fiberglass just doesn’t do the trick. You need to use a specialized insulation or to double the drywall that you have right now.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Jim in Ohio. Now, Jim writes: “My attic currently has blown-in fiberglass insulation about 5 to 6 inches deep and is ventilated with soffit vents and an attic fan. I’d like to remove the fiberglass insulation and replace it with spray foam. Is it OK to apply spray-in foam to the ceiling joists? And if so, does any of the wiring or ductwork or electrical boxes have to be protected from the foam?”
TOM: Well, Jim, I actually did this exact project and the insulation that we had was actually probably close to 6 to 8 inches deep but it was in the floor level. And it was ventilated. And what we decided to do was left that insulation in that floor level, because there was no real reason to pull that out. And then, when we added the spray-foam insulation, we did spray up and around and across the roof rafters, essentially. And the reason we can do that is because spray-foam insulated homes basically turn those attics, which are unconditioned space, into conditioned space. And you don’t need ventilation. You don’t have to worry about moisture issues. So, that was definitely the way to go.
But before I did that, I did go through and secured all the loose wires to make sure everything was tidied up. And then we sprayed right on top of everything. So, short answer is yes, you can spray over it but I would take some time to tidy it up first.
LESLIE: Alright, Jim. Good luck with that. Hopefully, your attic will make your house nice and cozy.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope that we’ve given you some tips and ideas to take on the DIY projects you’d like to get done. Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or whether you’re hiring a pro, you can count on us to help get you started off on the right foot.
For now, that’s all the time we have. 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 2021 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.)