If you’ve been feeling winter drafts whip through your windows, we walk you through a simple checklist to help you figure out if benefits of replacement windows are worth the cost.
There’s nothing worse than hanging a heavy picture only to have it come crashing down! We’ll share a tried-and-true way to secure your wall hangings safely.
Do some of your meals come out HALF baked? Don’t blame the cook, blame the oven. We’ll explain why all oven temperatures can vary and how to fix the problem.
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 Happy New Year, everybody. What are you working on? What are you planning for 2021? Are you ready to take on some changes around your house? You ready to refresh, to remodel, to redo a room or two? We are here, at your side, ready to help. We are your coach, we are your helpers, we are your home improvement therapists. Whatever you need us to do to help you get those projects accomplished, we are ready to do just that.
The first thing you’ve got to do is help yourself, though, by reaching out to us with those project questions. You can do that a couple of ways. You can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and leave that question with us and we’ll call you back the next time we’re in the studio. Or you can post your question on MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’ve been feeling winter drafts whip through your windows, it might be time to think about replacing them. We’re going to walk you through a simple checklist to help you figure out if the benefits are worth the cost.
LESLIE: And hanging heavy pictures or mirrors so that they won’t come crashing down sure can be a challenge. But no matter what surface you’re drilling into, we’re going to share a tried-and-true way to secure your wall hangings safely.
TOM: Plus, do some of your meals come out half-baked? Well, don’t blame the cook. You can blame the oven. We’re going to explain why oven temperatures can vary and how to fix the problem.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. What are you working on? We want to hear. We want to know. We want to lend a hand. We want to be inspired by you and we want to lend a hand to help you finish your projects perfectly the first time. So give us a call. We’re ready to grab our tools and get to work on your house, so give us a call.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: We’ve got Catherine from Delaware on the line who’s got a question about skylights. How can we help you?
CATHERINE: I’m a preventative-type person and my skylights are 25 years old.
CATHERINE: I want to know how to tell if I need them fixed or replaced.
TOM: So, is there anything wrong with them in terms of leaks or anything like that?
CATHERINE: I have no leaks.
CATHERINE: I’m concerned about the seals that go around them.
TOM: When you look up through the skylight, does it get condensation inside of it? Is it cloudy or anything of that nature?
CATHERINE: They’re dirty because I can’t get up there and clean them.
TOM: Well, look, it sounds to me like it’s still performing very well. And unless it’s failed, there’s no real reason to replace it. Even those 25 years old – it’s probably a thermal-pane skylight. And if we told you to replace it, we would probably tell you to put back something very similar to what you have right now.
So I don’t think it’s necessary. Perhaps if you were, for example, replacing your roof or doing a big project like that, you might choose to replace at the same time. But I say leave it alone. If it’s not leaking and it’s still providing plenty of light and comfort for you, I don’t think there’s any reason for you to change it.
CATHERINE: I had my roof done and at that time, there were no leaks or anything. And I guess that’s been about 6 or 7 years ago.
TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t change it. There’s not really much that goes wrong with them. And if it’s not leaking, I think you’re good to go.
CATHERINE: Oh, good.
TOM: Good luck, Catherine, and thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Andrew in Idaho is on the line needing some ways to soundproof a room. Tell us what room. What’s going on?
ANDREW: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie.
ANDREW: I’m having some problems. I’ve got four roommates. We’re all friends.
TOM: And you want to stay that way.
ANDREW: Yeah. And I just got a new job. I work at 3:00 a.m. in the morning.
TOM: Oh, man.
ANDREW: A lot of them stay up until 3:00 a.m. in the morning.
ANDREW: And I was just wondering if there was any quick and efficient ways I can soundproof, say, my bedroom to be able to sleep at night.
TOM: Yeah, now, where is your room in relation to the noise? Are you like at the end of the hall or anything like that? Tell us about it.
ANDREW: We’ve got three steps; there’s three different levels.
ANDREW: And I’m in the tallest level. You walk down a flight of stairs; they’re mostly in the living room. And then if you take another corner from going down those stairs, you’ll go into their rooms.
TOM: OK. So, sound transmits, as you know, pretty quickly and pretty aggressively. If you want to quiet it in your room and you’re willing to do a little bit of work, you can make it a lot softer by improving the walls.
There are a couple of ways to do this. One way is to use a product called Green Glue, where you essentially put the glue on the walls and then put a second layer of drywall on top of that. And that second layer, with the Green Glue in between, sort of isolates it.
That said, it’s expensive to – because you need 2 tubes of Green Glue for every 4×8 sheet of drywall and we’re talking about these big tubes, not the little caulk tubes. The ones that are humungous. And so you put a lot of Green Glue and a lot of drywall and of course, you’ve got to spackle, you’ve got to paint; you’ve got to do all that. That’s the first way to do it.
The second way to do it is to use a product called QuietRock, which is kind of like a laminated drywall that already has the glue sort of in it and whatever else they do to stop sound transmission. And again, with that you put a second layer on your existing walls.
And the QuietRock is about, what, 35, 40 bucks a sheet, Leslie? Something like that?
LESLIE: Yeah, it – I mean it’s pricey but it does the trick.
LESLIE: Andrew, are you renting?
ANDREW: It’s kind of hard to explain. One of the couples just got married and they bought this house.
ANDREW: And they’re – I’m renting the room, technically.
TOM: How do you feel about improving their house, even though you’re a renter?
ANDREW: They’re fine with it because they’re wanting to do the same thing for their rooms, so …
TOM: OK. Yeah.
ANDREW: For the Green Glue, do we have to worry about texture?
TOM: No, no, no. It’s all between.
LESLIE: Well, that goes in between the two sheets of drywall.
LESLIE: It sort of acts as the sound barrier behind that new sheet of drywall that you’re putting on. If you go with the QuietRock, which is the second option, you don’t need that Green Glue but you are adding a second layer of drywall.
TOM: Right. Now, there’s one other important thing I have to mention, Andrew, and that’s this: technically, to soundproof a room, you really need to get to the electrical boxes and other penetrations of the wall from behind it, from the inside. And of course, that’s impossible to do in a finished house.
So, even though you’re going to quiet it, you’re not going to do as good a job as you could because if the wall was wide open, you’d go from the back side and you would be wrapping the electrical boxes. There are special, almost like a clay-like kind of a material that you press around the box with the QuietRock, that seals in all of those gaps so that no sound gets through there.
So you can’t do everything but you can do a pretty good job.
ANDREW: OK. Yeah, we were just wanting to do a little bit of changing just so people talking in the living room and stuff, it won’t come into the bedrooms.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, unfortunately, it’s not a simple fix; it’s basically taking all of your stuff out of your room and re-drywalling the whole thing. You can put heavy drapes up, you can put carpets on the walls, hang wall coverings, things that like – that will soften it from a décor perspective. But realistically …
LESLIE: But it’s not going to do what you really want it to do.
ANDREW: Well, I will definitely look into that Green Glue. I do have some sheetrock experience.
TOM: Alright. Well, then, maybe it’s a good project for you. It’s either that or earplugs, my friend, OK?
ANDREW: Alrighty. Thank you, guys.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Heading over to Massachusetts. We’ve got Thurmond on the line. What project are you working on?
THURMOND: Well, I have some concrete slabs out in the back. They’re next to the house. I was thinking of beautifying them by adding some color and some texture. Paint, even though it’s made for concrete, you know, won’t last. So I ran into something called RollerRock from Daich Systems up in Canada. That would spread a finely – fine grain stone, actual stone.
THURMOND: And you can choose colors and so forth. I was just – it seems like the way to go but I just – before I venture forth, I just wanted to have your opinion in case you know about this or maybe have some other suggestions.
TOM: I’m actually very familiar with the products by Daich Coatings, run by Peter Daich up there in Canada. And RollerRock is certainly one of their leading products. And I think it’s a really good solution for your situation. It’s beautiful, it’s durable. It’s often used in exterior environments. It’s used around pools, for example. And I think it’s a good choice, because it’s really going to stand up and it looks great. So, it gives you some color and some texture, which I think is what you’re trying to achieve here. It can fill in those minor cracks that you’re seeing and give you a durable surface for years to come.
THURMOND: There is some remaining paint – concrete paint – on there which hasn’t faded. Yeah, I suppose I should have that power-washed. Probably wouldn’t take it off. I probably have to get it sand-blasted.
TOM: Well, what I would do is I would go to the Daich Coatings website. It’s D-a-i-c-h-Coatings.com. And I would pull up the application instructions for the RollerRock product and see how they advise you handle coatings like old paint that’s on there, too. Most of these companies are going to provide very specific application and prep instructions that’s going to assure that that new product is going to stick.
THURMOND: OK. I’ll go check it out.
TOM: So I wouldn’t guess. I would check – do the research first. This way, you know you’re doing it correctly. OK?
THURMOND: Right. Well, thank you very much. That’s helpful.
TOM: Hey, good luck with that project. Let us know how you make out.
THURMOND: I will.
TOM: Take care. Bye.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve been feeling the winter drafts whip through your windows, you may be wondering whether it’s time to replace them. Well, every product in your home has got a lifespan and for your windows, a good time to start assessing their condition is after about 10 years. At the 15-year mark, it’s time to seriously determine if your windows are still even doing their job. So to help, we’ve put together a checklist that can help you decide.
First, do they work? I’m talking about do they physically move up and down, in and out without any obstruction? Windows that don’t operate well or those that won’t stay open or locked are going to detract from your home’s value and your energy efficiency.
TOM: Next, are your heating and cooling bills growing every year? You know, drafts through those windows may very likely be the cause.
Also, consider how many panes of glass are in your existing windows. If you’ve got single-pane windows, they are the least energy-efficient and they can definitely cause your energy bills to go up.
Next, do you see condensation appearing inside the glass on double-pane windows? This might mean you have seal failures. And if that’s the case, you need to replace the glass or the entire window.
And last, does it seem especially noisy in your house? If you live near an airport or busy street, you might want to consider replacing your windows with laminated glass or double-paned windows to help reduce that noise transmission into your home.
LESLIE: Now, if you’re ready to replace your windows, there are a lot to choose from. But to help boil it all down to those that warrant your consideration, look for these two things.
First of all, you want to look for the ENERGY STAR-qualified replacement windows. Now, these are built to a higher standard. They’re going to help lower your energy bills and they may qualify for tax incentives.
Then, you also want to look for the National Fenestration Rating Council – NFRC – rating. Now, the NFRC is an independent body that rates the energy efficiency of windows across several factors. You want to use the info on these labels to compare windows from different manufacturers. And that’s going to help you really make a smart decision.
TOM: Definitely. And by the way, guys, if you want to keep the cost down for the project, there’s no reason you need to do all sides of your home at once. You don’t have to do all the windows at the same time. If high heating costs are a concern, just do the north and maybe the east sides first. And if it’s cooling costs you want to reduce, you can do the west and the south sides first. It’s fine if you do one or two sides a year. It’ll save some money, be able to spread that budget out. And the result will be brand-new windows inside of a very short period of time.
LESLIE: Susan is on the line with a cold-water shower that I imagine she doesn’t like very much. Tell us what’s going on.
SUSAN: Rather shocking.
TOM: I bet.
LESLIE: I can imagine.
SUSAN: The hot-water faucet in the upstairs shower is the only hot-water faucet that does this – is when I adjust the hot water and it’s right – a good mix with the cold water. Step in the shower, then all of a sudden the hot water stops flowing and the water turns cold. It’s almost like the faucet shut itself off or …
TOM: What kind of water heater do you have, Susan? Is it gas or electric?
TOM: And does this problem exist with any other fixture in the bathroom or the house for that matter?
SUSAN: No. It’s the only one that works that way. The hot – the kitchen does not do that; the other bathroom sinks and faucets don’t do that.
TOM: So this is a single-handle faucet?
SUSAN: No. It’s a – there are two handles. They have separate handles.
TOM: Well, I think you’ve got a bad valve in there somewhere. Because if it’s just happening in one location like that, that’s the only thing it could be. We have plenty of hot water for the rest of the house. I suspect that there’s a problem with the valve. You might just want to replace the faucet set.
SUSAN: Oh, OK.
TOM: That would make sense as to its …
SUSAN: I just wondered, why would that do that?
TOM: I’ll just speculate here. As the water heats up the pipe, the metal expands and causes the valve to squeeze shut a little bit or something like that. There are a lot of reasons it could happen but I think it’s mechanical, because it’s only happening in one location. So it has to be the valve.
SUSAN: Oh. That’s it. Yeah.
TOM: It’s not – there’s nothing mysterious about this. It’s got to be the valve.
SUSAN: Alright. Well, great. Thank you for the diagnosis.
TOM: What you might want to think about when you replace this is talk to your plumber about something called a “pressure-balancing valve.” Now, I’m not sure if he’ll be able to find this for this kind of configuration that you have.
But what a pressure-balancing valve does is it keeps the mix ratio between hot and cold steady, regardless of what’s happening in the rest of the house. So that if you were to hop in the shower and somebody else flushes a toilet somewhere, you don’t get sort of that shock of hot or shock of cold water as one fixture sort of steals water from the other. It keeps the ratio the same. So while you may have less or more water, the temperature of the water never changes. If you’re going to spend the money on a plumber and valves, I would definitely look into getting a pressure-balanced valve set if I could.
SUSAN: Well, I’m glad to know about that. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project, Susan, and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Al in Texas has got a house that tends to move a lot. Now you can’t close your darn doors. Tell us what’s going on, Al.
AL: Well, you know, here in this part – side of town – our soils are not very good and they tend to shift all the time.
AL: So it’s a constant battle with the doors not locking properly. And so my question has to do with – there’s a male and a female side and so, should I change – adjust the door or do I need to go to the female side to adjust that so that the door locks properly?
TOM: The place you make the adjustment, Al, really depends on what’s the easiest way to do this, so let me give you a couple of examples.
Let’s say that the door itself was hitting the door jamb a little bit low and you had to pick it up a bit? Well, if you went to the upper hinge and was able to tighten it, that will actually sort of twist the door upwards in its frame and move that striker up higher, perhaps enough to actually make the connection on the strike plate. And if you had to move it down, you could tighten the lower hinge. So you can do a little bit of movement by shimming the hinges or moving the hinges or tightening the hinges in the door.
Beyond that, the easiest thing to do is to actually reset the striker plate on the door jamb itself, to move that up or down to align properly with the door itself. And you could actually have a striker that’s a little bit wider than perhaps what you really need, in terms of the actual striker hole, so that if the door was to shift a little bit throughout the year because of swelling and expansion and contraction, it would still continue to operate properly. Does that make sense?
AL: It does. Now, let me ask you one last thing. On the – not on the door but on the other side, would I need to change that piece of wood? And why I say that is because, typically, that little metal piece is actually almost encrusted onto the wood. There’s always like a little square and if it’s like perfectly in there, would I need to replace all of that or could I just maybe …?
TOM: Not necessarily replace it but what you would do is you might open it up a little bit. So for example, you would take off the striker and then with the chisel, you would widen out the hole a little bit and then you would put it back together.
AL: That makes sense.
AL: Thanks very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Al. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Beverly in Nebraska is on the line and is looking to do a flooring, I guess, tiling project. Tell us what’s going on.
BEVERLY: Well, I have a brick fireplace that I would like to reface with ceramic tile.
LESLIE: Oh, great. It’s a fireplace question.
BEVERLY: Yes. I want to know if what – if I need to do any special steps to prep the brick. I’ve heard yes and I’ve heard no, so thought I might call somebody that might have a real answer.
TOM: As long as the brick is not dirty or doesn’t have loose paint on it or anything of that nature, I don’t think there’s a lot of prep involved there. What’s going to be really important is that you get a good coat of adhesive underneath it. And you can use a tile mastic on top of that brick to attach the tile to.
LESLIE: What size are the tiles that you’re looking at, Bev, to put over this?
BEVERLY: Twelve by twelve, probably.
LESLIE: Tom, is there any concerns with the difference between the brick and the mortar line for unevenness? Or because the tile is so large, it’s going to …
TOM: No, because you know what? Think about it. When you put tile down, you use a notched trowel, right? So you never have a complete, 100-percent contact of the tile with the substrate. So the fact that there’s recessed mortar on this brick fireplace is not of a concern to me. It’s just more of a concern that we get a good, solid coat of adhesive there and that they dry well, they’re nice and stable.
And really, you want to make sure that you plan this out carefully, Bev. I mean frankly, it’s really small spaces to get that to fit right, to look right, to make sure the corners are done properly. If it’s sloppy, you’re going to be kicking yourself, because it’ll be obvious to anybody that looks at this that it wasn’t done by a pro. So just make sure it’s done really well so that it looks like it was almost intended to be that way the first time the fireplace and the hearth was envisioned, OK?
BEVERLY: OK. One thing that I’d heard about, the brick mortar line sucks up the moisture out of the mastic quicker. Is that something I need to worry about or just …?
TOM: Nah. Nope. Wouldn’t worry about it at all. That makes no sense to me. Look, people put concrete – put tile down on concrete and will tell you the same issue. Just plan it correctly, Bev, so that you have all the corners line up right, you have the right pieces, the right – the types of tile that you’re choosing are the ones that, for example, have closed corners where they wrap around the outside.
And make sure it’s going to work. You may find that 12-inch is too wide for that; it might be easier if you use a smaller tile because you’d have a little more flexibility.
BEVERLY: Like maybe a six or eight?
TOM: Like a six, yeah, or an eight. Yep, exactly.
Depending on the shape, right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah. It really depends on what look you’re going for. And with a ceramic tile, think about the finish on them. A glazed tile is going to clean better when you get dirt and debris from the smoke in the fireplace itself. But an unglazed one might have a more hearth-y, traditional look. So think about the overall look you’re trying to get.
And you can also – a 12-by is kind of large. So if you’re looking to put a decorative tile, say, as cornerstones around your mantle or something, think about adding in little detail pieces and then you can size your tiles accordingly.
TOM: So does that help you out?
BEVERLY: Yeah. We’re just trying to make it look a little more modern.
TOM: Yeah, I think that’s definitely a good idea. I think it will look more modern. I think it’ll be very attractive. Just take your time. Do it once, do it right and you won’t have to do it again.
BEVERLY: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Well, it’s not unusual to hit a wall, so to speak, somewhere between framing your photos or buying a beautiful wall hanging or mirror and actually hanging them on the wall.
Now, hanging pictures, they can be a little scary, especially if it’s got some weight to it. But there are many types of walls out there, from exposed brick to traditional drywall. And what type of wall you have can greatly impact what hardware and tools you need to use to try and beat gravity, to make sure that your new wall décor doesn’t come crashing down.
TOM: But no matter what surface you’re drilling into, there is a tried-and-true way to secure those wall hangings safely.
So, each material is going to have a fastener that’s best suited for it, so let’s consider some of that. There are really two types of anchors and each one has strengths and weaknesses. But it boils down to these two types.
The first type is called an “expansion anchor.” These work when a screw or a bolt is threaded into them. And they work best in thick and solid materials. And then there’s a hollow wall anchor. They’re used in thinner materials or hollow walls. They spread in various ways once inserted and they can’t be pulled back out once they’re done.
LESLIE: Alright. So, now, when it comes to the material of the wall to what type of fastener, let’s think about drywall.
Now, nails are going to be OK but when you put them in, they should go in at a 45-degree angle. Screws are better and they should be used with a plastic anchor. For anything heavier than 20 pounds, that fastener must go into a stud.
Now, if you’ve got plaster walls – which we have in my home. In redecorating my son’s room, I’ve had a lot of challenges hanging things up. So, plaster cracks really easily when it separates from the lath. So you’ve got to keep the vibration of you actually working to a minimum. I mean I’ve been hammering a nail and you can hear the plaster behind the wall crackle off the lath. It’s like …
TOM: I know. It’s really disturbing, isn’t it?
LESLIE: Crumble, crumble, crumble. And you’re like, “Ugh. Is the whole wall going to come down?” So it’s crazy.
Now, toggle bolts. Metal ones, especially. Those really are going to be your wall anchors of choice. They’re going to expand once they’re pushed through that plaster and that’s going to add support from behind, because it sort of opens up and then grips onto the back side of that lath. So it’s really, really grabbing into everything.
Now, if you’ve got a super-heavy item, always drill directly into the stud. You can find it with a stud finder. It’s really going to help you and save a lot of damage to the wall, to the item, to anybody walking by. So do the right fastener to the right wall surface.
TOM: Just before our show today, I actually had to install a bracket into drywall. And I tell you this because, sometimes, it’s a combination of things that you’re going to hit.
In this case, it was drywall, so I used a hollow wall anchor. And I intended to use three of them for the three holes in the bracket. But when I predrilled for that, I found out there was a stud behind one. So, used a combination: two hollow wall anchors and then one screw long enough to reach right through the drywall and into the stud. So, it’s always an adventure because you never know kind of what’s behind that.
I was annoyed, though, that a little plaster chipped off a nail and now I’ve got to patch it and paint it. So, it always adds extra steps to it.
LESLIE: Oh, I know. It’s always something.
TOM: Now, if you’re staring at brick or stone and thinking, “This just ain’t going to happen,” well, it can. You want to choose a spot in a mortar joint: the space between the brick or the stone. You need to use a drill with a masonry bit and drive a wall anchor into the screw hole – into the hole first for the screw. Or you could use something, which is an amazing invention, called a “Tapcon fastener,” which is essentially a screw that’s designed to drive right into the wall.
And if you’ve got really heavy objects, molly bolts are your friend. It’s a specialized screw fastener that works with drywall or plaster. It’s very easy to install, just like inserting a plastic wall anchor, but it’s a heck of a lot stronger. Because as you drive the screw in, the molly bolt expands and holds it really secure to the wall. In fact, they can hold up to as much as 50 pounds.
So, hopefully, this little explanation of fasteners and the materials best suited for them will help you avoid coming in on the wrong side of gravity next time you hang something. It really can be done but you’ve just got to consider the material and the weight of the product, the weight of the hanging whatever you’re hanging. And then just make the best choices and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Well, when it comes to your oven, have you ever wondered why sometimes you get such inconsistent results? If your baked dishes don’t come out right every time, don’t blame the chef, blame the oven. It’s possible that your oven’s built-in thermostat isn’t working the way it should be.
TOM: That’s right. So, here’s how to narrow down the issue.
First, it’s a good idea to check your thermostat. And the way to do that is with a separate oven thermometer. We used to do this all the time when I was a professional home inspector. I would head into the kitchen early in the inspection, turn on the oven to about 350, stick my thermometer inside, which was a pretty good-quality glass thermometer, and then walk away for a ½-hour or so.
And it’s amazing. Sometimes I’d come back and find that oven temperature was off 25 or even 50 degrees. So it’s real important to check that. The glass-bulb thermometer types are the best. You want to let the oven cycle on and off for at least two or three times and then sit long enough in the oven to really sort of stabilize. And if it doesn’t reflect the temperature set on the dial, then you know something just isn’t right.
LESLIE: Yeah. But what’s wrong? Now, there are several possibilities.
Over time, that rubber gasket that’s around the oven door, that can become torn or stretched out of shape or otherwise deformed so it’s not sealing properly. And that’s going to cause heat to escape from the oven. So you’ve got to inspect your gaskets to make sure that they’re in good condition and still doing their job. And if not, replace them.
TOM: Now, the other way heat can escape from your oven is the oven door is not closing properly. Your oven door needs to close evenly all the way around and form a really tight seal. If it doesn’t, you want to check for broken or bent door hinges. That happens when the door kind of opens up and gets stretched or the door springs. These can all be replaced.
And generally speaking, you can adjust this with a few simple fixes. And you might even become a much better cook in the process, once you get that oven temperature accurately reflecting what you set it at.
LESLIE: Alright. Our next caller is a Facebook fan of The Money Pit and he’s calling in from Wisconsin. We’ve got Antoine on the line who’s got a pellet-stove question. How can we help you?
ANTOINE: My house is about 1,000 square foot and I wanted to put in a pellet stove.
ANTOINE: And I was wondering, what would be the best location and the best way to ventilate it?
TOM: OK. Good question. Now, first of all, hurray for the choice of a pellet stove. A very green energy choice. Lots of options. Pellet stoves are affordable, the fuel’s affordable. They work very, very well. You fill them up and literally can walk away from them.
Since it’s not tied into a central-heating system, you want it to be centrally located so you get the best amount of heat distribution outside of it. Very, very important that you follow the National Fire Safety Protection Organization standards for installation of that, because they do get very, very hot.
How you install it, it depends on where you’re putting it. For example, the average wood stove needs about 3 feet of space behind it to combustibles. However, if you build a heat shield, then you can move it closer. I’ve seen them as close as 12 inches if they’re installed with heat shields, which basically create sort of a wall that’s vented that the heat can sort of pass over and the air can pass over and it can remain cool.
Going up to the attic? Same situation. You typically use a triple-wall pipe – triple-wall vent pipe – to take that hot gas out. And again, it has to be installed correctly. So, it’s not the kind of project that I would recommend you do if you’ve never installed one before, because of the specialty knowledge you need to make sure it’s done safely, Antoine.
So if you want to shop it, buy it, get it in the store, get it in the house, that’s great. But I would definitely consider having a contractor that’s built these before do the actual installation for you. I would also make sure that you have the local fire marshal inspect the installation for you to make sure that it’s done correctly.
ANTOINE: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and for liking The Money Pit page on Facebook, which is at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
And by the way, if you would head on over to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and like our page, you can also get priority access to the radio show as we produce it.
LESLIE: Post your question or like Rebecca did from New Jersey, she reached out to us on MoneyPit.com. And she says, “I just remodeled my kitchen and have all new stainless-steel appliances. I would like to keep them looking new for as long as I can. Any tips on a natural cleaner?”
Well, I mean that’s the best. Stainless-steel appliances, they’re so beautiful and they really look great in a kitchen. But they can look kind of bleh over time. So you’ve got to take care of them nicely.
So, you want to spritz the exterior of those appliances with white vinegar and then wipe it off. And then you can repeat with a little dab of olive oil. And that’s going to keep your appliances smudge-free for about 2 weeks.
And always, whenever you’re working on stainless, just sort of go in that same direction of the grain. You’ll see it; it’s those lines. You don’t ever want to go across it because you might make it look yucky. So just take your time with it.
Alright. Next up, we’ve got a question from Robin who writes: “Do you have any tips for keeping your mattress fresh and clean?”
That’s a tough one. You know, mattresses take a lot of abuse. And if you’ve got small kids or pets, they can really get downright yucky. So, when you get a new mattress, you want to get a zippered cover for that mattress that has a soft mattress pad on top. Remember, you’ve got to wash that pad kind of often and vacuum around the mattress and box spring, because a lot of dust gets settled in there. And occasionally, you can sprinkle your mattress with baking soda, leave it on for a few hours and then vacuum that up.
Those are just really great ways to keep everything fresh. And the zippered cover keeps the dust mites away, so it’s really some important steps you’ve got to take there.
TOM: Alright. Larry in New Hampshire has reached out. He says, “I have moisture in my attic. I have rusted nails coming through my sheathing and it looks like mold is starting to form. What can I do?”
Well, you’ve got a sharp eye there, Larry, because those are the kinds of things that I used to spot all the time in my years as a professional home inspector. Those rusted nail tips are a sure sign you’ve got too much humidity in that attic space.
What looks like mold, maybe it’s mold, maybe it’s mildew, maybe it’s algae. It’s definitely a sign of too much moisture. So I wouldn’t worry too much on that but I think it’s time for you to take action.
Now, what you should do is this: you’ve got to improve your ventilation. Now, typically, in a house that has plywood sheathing and rusty nail tips, it’s probably one that was built in the 60s or the 70s or maybe the early 80s and it won’t have enough ventilation. It’ll have a couple of gable vents at the ends of the house.
What I’d like to see you do is to install a continuous ridge vent all the way down the peak of that roof, kind of opening up that ridge so you get plenty of (inaudible) air coming out that of attic space. And then on the sides of the house – the parallel sides to that ridge – you want to make sure that those soffit vents are fully open, not blocked. So you have air that enters in the soffit, flushes out all of that warm, moist air that collects in the attic at the ridge.
In the winter, it’ll take the moisture out. The staining will go away. The rusty nail tips will go away. And in the summer, it will take the heat out of the attic and you will be amazed at the reduction in air-conditioning costs as a result of that. Really, really important that you have a lot of ventilation in your attic.
By the way, if your attic is ventilated perfectly, it will always be the same temperature as the outside. If it’s not, if it’s warmer than the outside, you’re going to get condensation, right? Because warm, moist air condenses on those cold tips of the nails and you’ve got moisture problems. So, that is the solution: better ventilation.
And that’s another way to get answers to your home improvement questions. You can post them at MoneyPit.com or like Larry did, at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. We are happy to jump in and tackle these little projects, these little DIY dilemmas for you anytime.
LESLIE: Yeah. And don’t be afraid to send some pictures if you’ve got work in progress or you need to help us sort of understand where something is in your house. We love to see those, too.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We so appreciate you spending this part of your day and this brand-new year with us. And we hope we’ve been able to give you some tips and ideas to help you take on your next home improvement adventure.
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.)