- If there’s one room you’d like to be bright and cheery, it’s the kitchen! We’ll have tips on kitchen lighting to keep that space looking bright – even when it’s dark outside.
- If you enjoy a glass or two of wine during these long chilly winter days – we’ll share a few simple stain cleaningsolutions for any “merlot mishaps” that may happen along the way.
- And if you’ve been chipping away at a lot of ice this winter, we’ll have a trick of the trade to help make it disappear, especially when it freezes a garage door shut.
- Spring may still be weeks away but don’t let these dreary days of winter drag you down! We share a few dollar-wise winter home improvement projects can spruce up your home and your spirits!
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about, a bald spot on a roof, repairing hard water from a well, eliminating pests, mice & rats from entering your home, cleaning mold from walls, stopping ice dams, repairing a noisy countertop
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you take on your home improvement projects. It is February now, so we have been celebrating Valentine’s Day. We’ve got some presidents’ birthdays coming up. If you’ve got a project you’d like to take advantage of – maybe it’s one for your sweetie that you’re going to get done or maybe not. Maybe you’re going to do it for yourself or do it for Mom or for Dad or for your sister or your brother. We would love to help you get those projects done.
What you need to do is just reach out with those questions. You can do it a couple of ways. You can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and we will call you back the next time we’re in the studio. Or you can post your question at MoneyPit.com or at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
Coming up on today’s show, if there is one room that we’d all like to be bright and cheery, it’s definitely the kitchen. So we’re going to share some tips on lighting to keep that space looking bright even when it’s dark outside.
LESLIE: And also ahead, if you enjoy a glass or two of wine during these long, chilly winter days, we’re going to share a few simple solutions for any merlot mishaps that might happen along the way.
TOM: Could happen.
And hey, if you’ve been chipping away at a lot of ice this winter, we’re going to share a trick of the trade to help make it disappear, especially if it were to freeze a garage door shut.
LESLIE: But first, we’re here to take your home improvement questions and to maybe even give you the tools to get that job done, because we have a HART 20-Volt Cordless 4-Tool Combo Kit to give away.
TOM: Yep. It’s worth 178 bucks. HART Tools are well-made, versatile and available exclusively at Walmart. So give us a call right now. It’s going out to one listener drawn at random. The number here: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Kathy in Indiana is on the line and is dealing with a bald spot on her roof when it’s snowy out. And we’ve been getting a lot of snow this winter, so your house must look like it’s in need of a toupée.
What’s going on, Kathy?
KATHY: Hi. Yes, we just moved down here from Wisconsin, down to Indiana. We bought this house and we’ve been doing a lot of work on it. And when we got our first snow, I noticed, on the back part, there is a – like a foot-and-a-half-inch diameter bald spot every time we get a snowfall. And we had a friend – a contractor – come down. He went up in the attic and he’s like, “There is nothing going on here.” So the only thing we thought, well, maybe is going on is we have a heat pump and we also have our dryer vent in that same area back there.
And so now I had two different suggestions. He said to put a soffit venting on that whole area to get more air going up through there and possibly maybe it’s coming from the heat pump. But then I went to The Home Depot and I was talking to the guy there that seemed to know quite a bit. And he said – and what he would do is take it and remove all the vented area – vented soffit in that area. And so if there is heat coming up – he said, “But this shouldn’t happen.” He said, “This is what people do. They put their heat pumps outside.” And he’d never heard of anything like this before.
So we ended up doing that and so we don’t know yet if that actually helped it or not but …
TOM: Yeah, it’s not hurting the roof not having snow on that one spot. If you want to know why it’s happening, it’s because that spot is warmer than the other spots around it. Now, why is it warmer? Well, you mentioned there is a dryer-exhaust duct near there. If the dryer-exhaust duct is not completely sealed, if it’s dumping warm air in there, that’s going to heat up that spot over the roof and then any snow that hits there is going to melt and roll down. If the insulation has some gap in it of some sort in there where more room air can get up and heat that area right above it, that could cause it, as well.
But I would not tell you to start messing with your venting and everything else just because you’ve got a foot-and-a-half spot that doesn’t – where snow doesn’t stick. It’s curious but it’s not a major problem and I wouldn’t recommend major work for it.
KATHY: OK. So it’s – we don’t have to be concerned that there is heat getting up there and it’s going to cause mold and issues going on?
TOM: Well, I mean I would try – I would determine if there’s an obvious source of warmth that’s getting into that spot. But actually adding heat to that area is not necessarily going to cause mold. You’ll get more mold in the less heated spaces, frankly. Because when you warm moist – when you warm air, it uses more moisture, essentially. That’s why the warm air holds more moisture, so that’s not really a concern. It’s just kind of a curious thing.
And if you’ve got a dryer vent that’s right near there, I’d start with that because that would make perfect sense. If the dryer vent is losing some of its air right in that space, that’s not a good idea, either, because you don’t want to be dumping any lint into the attic. That could be dangerous, OK?
KATHY: OK. Well, very good. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Kathy. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. We’re heading over to Virginia now where Greg is dealing with a hard-water situation. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
GREG: I have a little farmhouse up in Virginia and very hard water. And was looking at some of the options of how to address that – salt-based, salt-free, reverse osmosis, magnetic, et cetera – and it’s all confusing. What’s real and what’s reasonable, from a price standpoint?
TOM: Alright. So, you’re on well water, I presume, correct?
TOM: And have you had the water tested for other contaminants?
GREG: When we first bought it, it’s safe to drink. We haven’t tested it in the last several years but …
TOM: OK. So, the first thing I would do is I would have the water tested so that you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Because if there’s some contaminants in there, that’s going to change the type of system that you put in.
Now, if the water test reveals that your only problem is hard water, then I would try what you’re calling the “magnetic option.” And there’s a product called EasyWater – E-a-s-y-Water.com – that I have had good success with. And what EasyWater does is – essentially is installed at the pump or actually where the water enters the building. And it charges the hard-water particles and then gives them a charge so that they don’t stick together and they pass through the plumbing system without causing all of the types of issues that are associated with hard water: hard-water deposits, iron stains and that sort of thing.
And the reason I’d suggest EasyWater is because if you don’t like it, they have a money-back guarantee. And they seem to be good people and I think the science behind it is solid. There’s a lot of folks out there that once they saw the success that EasyWater was having, copied or tried to copy the technology. But I think if you go to E-a-s-y-Water.com, try that product, see what you think, I think you’ll be good to go.
But again, test first because we want to make sure that there’s no other contaminants.
GREG: Excellent. And it’s not a permanent process. So the water from downstream, this process reverses itself. But from the time it comes into your house until it’s out …
TOM: Yeah. From the time it comes in until the time it leaves, that’s when it’s your responsibility, right?
GREG: Hey, I agree. Very good.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Greg. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to help you with whatever it is you’re working on. But we also love to give away awesome prizes. And our new sponsor, HART, is helping us out this hour.
We’ve got, up for grabs, the HART 20-Volt Cordless 4-Tool Combo. Now, that includes the HART Drill Driver, an impact driver, a reciprocating saw, LED lights, two 20-volt 1.5-amp-hour batteries, a fast charger and a 16-inch tool bag.
And what’s so awesome about this tool set is that the 20-volt battery system is going to be interchangeable with all of the 20-volt HART products. So if you’ve got any of their 20-volt tools – outdoor, automotive, lifestyle – whatever it is, 20-volt, you can use that battery. And the tools are really well made. They’re versatile. And this kit is going to offer everything that you need to tackle your next DIY project.
TOM: Now, HART tools are available exclusively at Walmart, where they offer a complete line of tools and accessories so you can easily tackle any project. So, do it with HART. Learn more at HARTTools.com.
That HART Tools Combo Kit is going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ooh, now we’ve got Catherine from Colorado on the line. Not something we like to deal with: pest control. What is going on with the mice and the rats?
CATHERINE: Well, the downstairs in the house is not finished. So, somehow, they’re getting in downstairs and I see little droppings, different places. So what I’ve been using so far is the – those green pellets of poison? But I’ve heard from a friend that there is a new product out there: the Ultrasonic Plug-In. So I wanted to get information about that, if you would know.
TOM: Yeah, I would skip that. I think that’s kind of junk science. So, I would skip any of those ultrasonic plug-in things.
What you want to do is a couple of things. First of all, you want to eliminate nesting areas. So around the area of your house, if you have firewood, trash cans, debris of any sort that’s anywhere near the foundation, those are nesting areas for rodents. You eliminate those. Secondly, you plug up any openings in the outside walls of that house. Now, mice need something the size of about a quarter or even less to get in, so any openings should be plugged.
Inside the house, you want to make sure that there’s no food for them. So, a lot of times, people will make mistakes by providing food when they don’t realize they’re doing it. For example, I had a friend who used to keep her pet food in the garage and it was a big sack, 50-pound, whatever it was, bag of pet food. Never really even noticed that the mice had dug themselves a nice, little front door for this that wasn’t obvious. And they were just getting a big meal every single day from the pet food. So, look for things like that where food is being left out for them. Moisture is also very attractive to rodents, so water that collects at the foundation perimeter can bring them in.
And inside the house, I think you’re doing the right thing using the baits and the poisons, because that’s – they’re very effective with most of the baits today: for example, the d-CON. One hit of that, so to speak, it takes them out. It’s just one and done.
So, I think all those things together is what’s going to control and reduce the rodent population around this house.
LESLIE: Well, for most of us, there are likely areas of our home that feel kind of dark or drab. Now, better lighting is the solution. Not only is it going to make your home look bigger but it’s also going to be much safer.
First of all, in living and reading areas, you’re obviously going to need plenty of floor lamps and table lamps. But here’s a common mistake that tends to lead to injury: you want to make sure that those lamps are pointing toward the activity and not towards you.
TOM: Now, one area where direct lighting is super important is the kitchen. If you’ve got one main overhead light source, which so many older homes have, you want to consider adding some additional fixtures above the work surfaces.
So, there’s really three types of light to think about when you’re in a kitchen: the area light, which is probably what you have now; then there’s task lights, which are really helpful if you do this by adding them right above where the work area is; and then accent lighting which could be, say, above the edge of the cabinets.
LESLIE: Now, if you’ve got a room that’s tough to fill with natural light, like maybe there’s only one window, an easy fix is to place mirrors in strategic places. And that’s going to bounce the light around the room and make the room feel brighter, bigger, lighter, happier. It’s an excellent trick, so use it.
TOM: And if anyone in your family has vision issues, you can take advantage of high-contrast colors. So, think about adding, for example, a dark switch plate on a light wall and then choose bright colors for furniture and accessories.
So, some simple fix-ups can make the place a lot brighter, easier to use and much more cheery.
LESLIE: Tracy in Missouri is on the line with an HVAC question. How can we help you today?
TRACY: Well, what really the deal is is I had a new unit put in a few years back. And when they put it in, I had that – my home was built in 1964 and they had what they called “spider ductwork” back then and it’s just the old, metal, 5-inch ductwork. And they put a new plenum in and extended off that in some area in my house for some bigger ductwork.
But they said that that existing ductwork would be fine. When they went in and checked it, they said that it was cooling the room fine, because it was in the summer when they did they work. They said there’s a degree or two difference where they expect – kind of normal, because the way it is.
But the problem I’ve got is, in the wintertime, my daughter’s room is the coldest room in the house and in the summer, it’s the hottest. They’ve been down there and checked; everything’s properly connected. And they say that they’ve dampered it down a little bit, so it would push air a little more that way and it’s still not getting in there.
So my question to you is: would it be wiser to just go and get 8- or 10-inch – one single duct going into that room and just have one duct or extend those two – make those – both of the two existing ones – a little bigger with maybe an 8-inch or something like that? Cost is an issue but I want to make sure that it heats or cools efficiently for my daughter.
TOM: Is this – does this house have a central return duct or is the return duct also in the same room?
TRACY: It has a central return duct.
TOM: Well, obviously, they got it wrong. It’s difficult when you try to use a duct system that was designed for a 1960s house. And I know exactly what you mean when you say spider duct. I mean basically, you had one big plenum that came off the heating plant and then a bunch of ducts that were like home runs: every duct went to a separate place in the house, as opposed to having a large duct go down the center of the house and then other ducts come off of that.
TRACY: Yes, sir.
TOM: So, clearly, it seems like they got it wrong when they re-laid out the duct system. When these guys have come and said everything’s fine, obviously it’s not fine because they got it wrong.
There are calculations. It’s called a “heat-loss analysis” that you actually do if you know what you’re doing and you’re in the heating-and-cooling business, where you know what compass direction the exterior walls are, you measure how much glass is in the room and you take all these other factors into account. And then you design your system so you’re delivering enough BTUs, be it heating or cooling, to that room to be comfortable in the extremes of the summer and the extremes of the winter.
So what you’re suggesting now is can you just make a few changes and see if that makes a difference and my answer is: I don’t know. Because I’ve not done that heat-loss, you’ve not done that heat-loss and if I were you, I would get back with the HVAC contractor that put it in wrong to begin with, in the first place, and get them to do that heat-loss so that we get the right-size ducts going where they should be.
Now, if they’re not going to do that, then your options would be to hire somebody else that really knows what they’re doing, to try to get that adjusted. But generally speaking, airflow is critical, so you want to make sure you have enough airflow. And in terms of the return, improving the return situation can help.
And in a bedroom, often that means putting in a vent that goes through the wall, say, into the hall. It doesn’t really supply anything; it’s just kind of a pass-through where more air from the room can get drawn back to the return. Because the more that goes back to the return, the more supply kind of makes that up in terms on the supply side. And that can make the room more comfortable.
But I hate kind of guessing at this when I know that there is a reasonably accurate and scientific way to do that that these guys have not done.
TRACY: Alright. Thank you very much, Tom. Appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Tracy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Shironnie (sp) in Colorado is on the line and has a question about mold. What can we do for you today?
SHIRONNIE (sp): The pipes have broken inside the walls and we fixed the pipes and everything. Now we’ve got this problem with mildew and the mold, so we have – we want to know what’s the best way to treat it.
TOM: Yeah. First of all, when that happened, did you file a claim with your homeowners insurance company?
SHIRONNIE (sp): No, we just got the house. We got it as is, so we’re fixing it before we move in.
TOM: Oh, oh. OK. Got it, got it, got it. OK. Well, is it a lot of mold or is it a little bit of mold?
SHIRONNIE (sp): A lot. We’re ripping out drywall and as we rip it out, we’re finding more.
TOM: Oh, boy. Yeah. Yeah, this is generally not a do-it-yourself project because when you have a lot of mold, you can contaminate parts of the house with this. I really think this is the kind of thing that you want to stop and get some professional help with, Shironnie (sp). Because if you release all those mold spores into the air, you potentially could be causing a bigger problem.
Generally, when you have that much mold – you say a lot of mold – you have to be careful about how you take that apart. What you generally do is you depressurize the house, you put fans in the house so that it pulls the air out as you’re breaking out that – the drywall and so on and flushes all of those mold spores to the outside. And then all of the framing gets sprayed down so that you kill anything that’s left behind. You get it good and dry and then you reinsulate and re-drywall.
But it’s a pretty big job and when you have a lot of mold like that, you can be exposing yourself to that mold and that could make you sick. So I would say to proceed very cautiously when you’re trying to rebuild a house that’s got heavy mold damage. It’s not an easy problem to resolve.
SHIRONNIE (sp): Oh, OK.
TOM: So good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We here at The Money Pit love to give you tips and tricks of the trade to help everything at your home feel better, bigger, more organized, all the good stuff. So, if you find that you need some more storage in your bathroom, maybe for towels or toiletries or really anything else, you might have some hidden storage areas available if you know where to look.
For example, that wall space above a toilet really is large enough for a full, 12×30-inch storage cabinet.
TOM: Yep. And a decorative brass wire shelf mounted high on the bathroom wall is also a good place to roll and store your big and bulky bath towels. In fact, in my house, I made what would have looked like a brass wire shelf if I could have found one wide enough. I made it out of PVC pipe. Using the ¾-inch PVC pipe, I shaped it to be just like one of those brass wire shelves, brackets and all, painted it.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever suffered a spill, getting that spill cleaned up quickly is the best way to make sure it doesn’t set. And this is especially true of red-wine stains. Now, these are going to oxidize the longer that they sit. So, here’s a couple of ways that you can help make that stain disappear.
If it’s on clothing, like washable clothing, you want to flush immediately under cold water. Then rub with a dab of dish soap or laundry detergent, then flush it again with cold water until that stain is gone. If it’s a dry clean-only item, you want to blot it as best as you can with paper towels or a white dishcloth. And then as quickly as possible, get that item to the dry cleaner. Even if it’s the next day, get it there ASAP.
Now, if it happens to be on carpet or upholstery, if the carpet here is the issue, you want to soak up whatever you can with a super-quick blot of a cloth. Then grab table salt in a pour-spout container and mound it on top of the stain. Now, that salt is going to pull the wine up and out of those carpet fibers. And you’re also going to be able to tell when that salt is no longer absorbing water, at which point you can use a vacuum or a dustpan and broom, however, to sweep all of that salt up.
If that spill happens to be on your sofa, do your best blotting with paper towels or a white cloth, skip the salt and then go ahead and use a fabric cleaner, any one you’ve got at home.
TOM: Yeah. And by the way, whatever – you do not rub. You might be tempted to sort of furiously scrub at the stain but that’s basically the worst thing you can do because it pushes the stains further into the fibers, which is not ideal. So, considering that your goal is to extract the stain, you’ve got to do less and less will be more.
LESLIE: How do you know it’s winter? Well, Ken in Wisconsin is dealing with ice and snow in the gutters.
Ken, sorry you are dealing with this weather. How can we help you today?
KEN: Well, what I’ve got is I’ve got a ranch-style home. I put an addition on and since I put the addition on, now, when I get snow – we had this snow – I got about 8 inches on the roof but now I’ve got an ice buildup in the gutters and it’s now backed up a little bit. And I’ve got icicles probably 4 or 5 foot long and I’m afraid it’s going to back up into the house. How do I stop that or is there a way to get it melted and get rid of it?
TOM: OK. So, this is an addition and it’s only happening on the addition and it’s not happening on the main house?
KEN: No, it’s happening on the main house and the addition.
TOM: Both. OK. So, this is what is known as ice damming. And the reason ice dams happen is because warm air gets up into your attic space around sort of the middle of your house, because you don’t have enough insulation. And then it heats the roof right above the heated space of the house and that lets the snow melt. And then the snow washes down the roof edge until it gets to that line of about – right above the exterior wall. That’s when it starts to get a lot colder and starts to form ice. And then more snow melts, more ice forms, more snow melts, more ice forms. So, that’s what’s happening; that’s the reason this is happening.
How can we stop this? Well, a few things. First of all, it’s a good idea to take a look at your level of insulation. And in your part of the country, you really should have 15 to 20 inches of insulation if not a bit more. Adding insulation will stop the ice dams from forming, because you won’t have as much water running down your roof all at once and freezing at the roof edge.
The second thing that you can do is take a look at the ventilation. If you have good ventilation that goes in the soffit, up under the roof sheathing and out like, for example, at a ridge vent, again, that ventilation stops the difference in temperature across that particular area.
Remember, we’re holding the heat at the ceiling of the house. Above the insulation, in a perfect world, we want that to actually be the same temperature as the outside. Because if it is, you’re not going to have this disproportional melting of snow up higher on the roof and that water running down and freezing at the roof edge.
KEN: I’m guessing we have – nothing was a problem until I put the addition on. I wonder if they didn’t put enough insulation in the addition and that’s where I’m having an issue.
TOM: It may very well have been – that’s why I was trying to figure out if it happens all the way around or just the addition, because I was kind of thinking the same thing myself.
Now, the other thing that you can do is – and of course, you can’t do it now when your roof is full of ice. But there are heating coils that are designed to go at a roof edge but it’s not the solution. It’s a temporary solution, if anything. And of course, it’s expensive to run and it’s expensive to buy and install. But sometimes in commercial buildings or restaurants, hotels where they want to be sure that none of the ice is going to fall and hurt somebody, you’ll see these electric coils right above those areas for this purpose: to kind of melt the ice and turn it back to water and be done with it. So, that’s an opportunity for you.
But again, I would rather see you put the insulation in. Because besides stopping the ice from forming, you’re going to lower your heating costs, which are going to be astronomical if you don’t have enough insulation. So take a look at the insulation, take a look at the ventilation. I think your solution lies right there.
KEN: I will do that. I appreciate the advice.
TOM: Good luck, Ken. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, whatever project you’re tackling on this beautiful day, you might need some tools to get it done. And if that’s the case, we’re going to hook you up because we’ve got a HART 20-Volt Cordless 4-Tool Combo Kit to give away.
HART Tools are available exclusively at Walmart. And this kit includes the HART Drill Driver, which is fantastic, the Impact Driver, the Reciprocating Saw, an LED light, two 20-volt batteries, a charger and a 16-inch tool bag.
And I’ve got to tell you, I love the system because not only are these tools beautiful and well designed, that 20-volt battery, it allows you to interchange the battery on all 20-volt HART products. So, it works with the tools, outdoor, automotive and the lifestyle products.
LESLIE: Yeah. These tools are really well made, guys. And this is kit is going to help you tackle your next DIY project. So, hopefully, that lucky winner is you.
HART Tools are available exclusively at Walmart. And they’re offering a complete line of tools and accessories so that you can tackle any project easily. Do it with HART. Learn more at HARTTools.com.
TOM: The HART 20-Volt Cordless 4-Tool Combo is worth $178. Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Post your questions at MoneyPit.com, at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit or call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Nadine in Iowa has an interesting question. Your countertop has gotten noisy? Tell us what’s going on.
NADINE: Yes, it does. We had it installed, I would say, between 3 and 5 years ago. And right after we had this Corian counter installed, we started getting very sharp, loud bangs occasionally. And I mean like somebody-just-shot-at-the-house bangs. And it has been going on since we had it installed, to varying degrees. Louder sometimes than others.
But they’ve been out to check and can’t figure it out and I don’t – the only unusual thing that happened when they put it in was that one corner didn’t want to go down, so the guy had to put his full weight on it to push it down and finally make it go down. And my feeling is – or something must be bound in there that every once in a while builds up enough energy to really snap.
TOM: Well, that’s certainly an unusual situation, because countertops aren’t known for their noise.
TOM: We get squeaky-floor questions, we get banging-pipe questions.
I don’t think we’ve ever gotten any loud-countertop questions, huh, Leslie?
NADINE: Well, I doubt that it’s the countertop. My feeling is something might be bound in there, having been caused by having the countertop put on.
TOM: Well, you might be correct and what could be happening is that you could have expansion and contraction going on, either with the walls or even with the plumbing. Especially with the water being right there, when a pipe heats up it tends to expand. And if it’s attached to the framing very, very tightly, it will rub across that framing and it can make a creaking sound or a banging sound.
TOM: And I’ve heard that before in bathrooms and also in kitchens.
TOM: The other thought is that if the countertop is bound, as you say, against part of the frame of the house and you’re getting expansion and contraction, that could be the source of the sound. Although, I tend to think that, even though it’s annoying, it probably isn’t really very damaging if it’s one of the other of those things.
NADINE: No, I don’t think it is damaging at all. It’s just that when you have guests and their eyes get wide and they start to go for the floor, you think maybe – it is quite loud when it does it. So you think it could possibly be plumbing?
TOM: It could very well be, because plumbing really carries the sound. And especially if you’re running a dishwasher and the hot water comes on, that could cause a noise.
NADINE: However, we’ve kind of checked that out – what’s on, what’s running and all of that – and that doesn’t seem to come into play. What would your suggestion be as to sleuthing this problem out?
TOM: Well, I guess I would have to be sitting there staring at it, thinking about it for a long time. But reinstalling the countertop would probably be the best solution, although it’s a boatload of work and you can potentially damage the countertop in the process. If they had to really squeeze it in, I suspect that something is a little bit too tight in its intention and it’s really not designed to be pulled out.
NADINE: Yeah. Alright. Thanks so much.
LESLIE: Well, if you’ve been chipping away at a lot of ice this winter, you may know that ice can also freeze your garage door shut.
Now, if you find yourself frozen in, first try disconnecting the automatic garage opener and try to open it manually. If that doesn’t work, don’t force it or you could damage the door.
Next, you want to spray a lock deicer along the bottom of the door. And if you don’t happen to have one, you can use WD-40, because deicing is just another one of its many uses.
TOM: Now, you can also pour lukewarm water along the base of that door and then slide a putty knife along the bottom to break away any remaining ice between the door. The door will open and off you go to wherever your heart desires.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to North Carolina where Chris has a question on flooring. What can we help you with today?
CHRIS: I had a leaking toilet that rotted my wood subfloor. I ripped it all up and I put the new pieces of wood back down.
CHRIS: Well, my cuts weren’t exactly perfect and there’s some spacing in between, like maybe three-sixteenths.
TOM: Yeah, that’s pretty good.
CHRIS: OK. It’s just in some sections. And I’m going to put down the ¼-inch cement board to put tile down here.
CHRIS: And I just wanted to know: what type of mortar do I use to put the cement board down onto this wood subfloor? And then once the cement board is down and it’s screwed in, do I have to put some type of mesh tape to put the boards together and then mortar the tape?
TOM: No. So, first of all, if you’re going to put down Durock, which is sort of that cement board that you’re describing, generally, that’s screwed down. So you would screw that down to the floor. And then on top of that, you would apply the adhesive for the tile. And you’d glue the tile right to the board.
TOM: You know, having those gaps in the plywood repair is no big deal because that’s all going to be covered over. Just make sure that when you put the cement board down that you don’t align the seams of the board with any of the old seams of the plywood below it.
TOM: Everything should overlap.
CHRIS: Do I still have to put the mesh tape, though, for the boards – the cement boards – or no?
TOM: Yeah, I don’t think so.
TOM: I think you can go right on top of that. As long as you have good adhesion of those boards down, they’re secured well in place, they shouldn’t move.
CHRIS: OK, great.
TOM: Chris, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Post your questions online. Don’t forget, you can always do that there.
Robert in Rhode Island did so and he writes: “We need to replace our water-pressure regulator and we were surprised when a plumber gave us a quote of 750. Is this something special that we can replace on our own?”
TOM: That’s a really expensive price, especially when you consider the new regulators, I think may be, I don’t know, 30 bucks? And it also has threaded fittings so in most cases, you don’t have to solder it in place.
If you can find one that’s the same size and the same shape as the old one and it doesn’t have to be soldered, it might be pretty easy. Just make sure it’s on the house side of the main water valve. Remember that once you remove it, all the water that’s in the pipes in the house is going to drain out, which is more than you could fit in a bucket. So, unless there happens to be also a second main water valve, which sometimes there is – but it’s not a hard job to do. And if you can’t do it yourself, I would shop for another plumber on HomeAdvisor.com, because that’s pretty high. I think that’s somewhat of a ridiculous price.
I can’t but feel like sometimes, Leslie, these contractors just price you and not the project.
LESLIE: That’s very true. They’re like, “You look like maybe you could pay on the higher end of things,” or, “Ooh, a vacation home. This is extra.”
TOM: “I have three prices I can give on this project. One is the right price, the fair price. The other one is your price. And the third one is I-don’t-care price.”
LESLIE: Yeah. Sometimes prices are also judged on how much they want to do the project.
TOM: That’s true. If they’re going to do it, they want to get paid a lot of money for it. But if that doesn’t fit with your economic plan, get another quote.
Well, spring may still be weeks away but don’t let these dreary days of winter drag you down. A few dollar-wise home improvement projects can help spruce up your home and your spirits. Leslie has got some tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. It might sound obvious but the first thing that you can do is just turn on some lights. This really is a good time to add a light or some sconces or a new lamp. Anything that’s going to increase the brightness – anything – even if you’re just changing out the bulbs in the fixtures you’ve already got, this will be wonderful and completely life-changing, because the room is going to feel brighter, happier, bigger, cleaner. Change out those lights, guys. Add some more light.
Now, you can also plant an indoor garden, maybe some colorful flowers or something edible. This is going to remind you of springtime and then you can transfer it outdoors when spring finally does arrive.
Now, another option is to spruce up your front door. I mean this door is greeting you when you come home. So if you’re out there in the winter dreariness, if you come home to a brighter front door, it’s really going to make you feel a lot happier. So, paint it a new color, polish the hardware. You can get an inexpensive doormat. Boost the lighting outside on the front porch. All of that stuff is really nice and exciting and is going to make you feel a lot happier when you’re coming home to your house.
Some other things that you can do in the winter is change out some of the accessories at home. Just make them a happier shade of whatever color you love or something that you swap out for the winter season or a color that reminds you of springtime. It could be throw pillows. It could be a little blanket. It could be some small accessories that you’re adding into the décor items in the house.
I kind of rotate through sort of an inventory of things I keep in a basement closet: different colors for different times of year, different types of seasonal things. And it really does boost the spirit when you’re kind of just freshening things up around the house.
You know, just a few fix-ups now is going to make you feel cozier as you hibernate in your home through the rest of the winter. And then you’ll be sort of recharged and ready to welcome spring.
TOM: I feel more cheery already.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about high-efficiency washers and dryers. They’re on the rise but are these more efficient and more expensive washers and dryers a smart buy? We’ll help sort it out, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 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.)