- Hearing crazy house sounds from your home’s plumbing, water heater or heating systems? We explain the cause of all that racket and teach you which types of sounds spell trouble and which can be ignored.
- If there’s one thing in our home we want to be pure and fresh every time we reach for it — it’s our water! But that’s not always the case. We’ll explain how to offset the smelly water odor – and hopefully get rid of it altogether.
- If your vintage home has some vintage wallpaper that’s peeling, we’ll have some tips on quick fixes to help you preserve the past.
- Have you ever spotted water droplets of even ice INSIDE your windowpanes? Bad seals can cause that problem. We share options for the easiest window repairs.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about removing weights from older windows, repairing nail pops on drywall, installing soapstone, sealing chimney flashing, repairing a foundation crack, improving water pressure.
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: Hey, guys. What are you working on this weekend? If it’s your house, you are in exactly the right place because we’re here to help you get those projects done. Whether it is inside or out, upside or down, you’re hard on yourself because you don’t know what to do first, give us a call. We’d love to help. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
You know, Leslie, last night at about 11:00 p.m., somebody come up to my door and knocked. That was kind of freaky, right?
LESLIE: That’s weird.
TOM: And I gingerly turned the light on and – it’s hard to recognize people because everyone’s wearing masks. I opened the door a little bit. It turned out it was my neighbor from three or four houses down. She got locked out of her house.
LESLIE: But still. And I guess she didn’t have a phone. Was she walking the dog or something?
TOM: She was getting something out of her car. And the thing was she had one of those locks that has the buttons on it.
LESLIE: Oh, like mine, where we get locked out often. Yes.
TOM: And the buttons froze. So they wouldn’t work.
TOM: So I head over to her house and I got my WD-40 and I’m spraying the lock down. And it just wouldn’t budge. And so, I was about ready to try to jimmy the lock. I said, “You know what? Let me just check the rest of the doors.” And sure enough, the patio door was open. So I got her in.
But it got me thinking that …
LESLIE: It got you thinking that, clearly, your neighbor has an issue with the doors.
TOM: Well, I’m sure that she’s not alone, either.
LESLIE: No, I know.
TOM: It’s a nice, convenient thing to have because people just use a code to get in. But one of the things that we’ve done is we have a lockbox. I think it’s made by Master Lock. It’s like a steel box that’s really, really strong. And you could put that somewhere outside your house. It’s got its own combination. You can keep a spare key in. So there are other ways to kind of prevent this sort of thing from happening to you.
But I just thought, “Boy, that’s kind of a weird situation but I bet it happens to a lot of people. And I ought to mention it.”
Hey, if you’ve had something like that or something similar happen and you’ve got a solution, we’d love to hear from you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Got a great show planned for you today. First up, snap, crackle and pop. Now, that’s a sound that sounds good when it comes from your breakfast cereal, right? But when it comes from your water heater, maybe not so much. We’re going to dive into the causes of noisy heating systems and banging pipes or toilets that flush mysteriously all by themselves.
LESLIE: And if there’s one thing in our home that we want to be pure and fresh every time we reach for it, it’s our water. But that’s not always the case. We’re going to explain how to offset the odor and hopefully get rid of it altogether.
TOM: And if your vintage home has some, well, maybe vintage wallpaper that’s starting to peel apart, we’re going to have some tips on easy fixes to help you preserve the past.
LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you want to know. From bathrooms to basements and demolition to décor, we’re here to share expert tips to help you tackle your to-dos with confidence.
TOM: So let’s get started. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are. And you can also post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
So let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Daniel in Washington is in love with his older home’s windows but needs some help working on them. What can we do for you?
DANIEL: I want to know how I can remove them without destroying them or having to cut off the weights and letting them fall in the wall, as I was told that’s what I have to do.
TOM: Well, why do you want to preserve the weights, Dan?
DANIEL: Well, I just – my biggest fear is they’re upstairs windows and I don’t want them to cause any damage when I cut them loose. And I just want to pull them out intact, I guess, for seeing what exactly they are. They’re being used for weights.
TOM: Yeah, you don’t have to worry too much about that. How old is your house, Dan?
DANIEL: It was built in 1900.
TOM: OK. So, the weights themselves are these sort of round, tubular pieces of solid cast metal. And I wouldn’t worry about letting them drop. They’re only going to drop to sort of the bottom of the wall cavity. They’re not really going to do any damage. They’ll drop down a couple of feet and stop. But what you do is cut those cords or disconnect the chains, let the weights drop, pull out the pulleys, take out the upper and the lower sash and then you insert the replacement window into the rest of the wood, sort of old window frame that’s left.
That’s the smart move because it’s very easy to do. You don’t have to tear up any siding or anything like that. You basically just take apart the operable sashes and slip the new replacement windows inside, which you can do because all replacement windows are basically built to fit. That’s the way the technology is designed to work. If you put in an order for replacement windows, they put all the numbers into a computer and it spits out the window at the other end of the assembly line. And you just slip them in and you’re done. It’s a very easy installation.
You need to be really careful in the measuring, though. And I would have the company that you’re buying the windows from do the measuring to make sure you get it right. But not to worry about the weights. Not a big deal.
DANIEL: And it’s funny you mention that. He actually did come out and look at them and he told me that he wouldn’t be able to give me the measurements to get the windows myself. Because when he – they order them, the guys that install them have to do any work that’s needed to make them fit properly. Because he just takes a rough measurement.
TOM: So was he just giving you an estimate? Was he there to measure for an estimate?
TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean that makes sense. Plus, I’ve got to tell you, every company does it a little bit different. So if you buy it from Manufacturer A, they may measure one way and Manufacturer B might measure it slightly differently. So whoever you buy these from, they have to do the exact measurements. He may have just been measuring so he knows how to price the order. But it may have to be measured again before you actually do the order.
LESLIE: Plus, they’re – the numbers are really guarded. He might be thinking that if he gives you the exact measurements, you’re going to turn around and go to another company or order them yourself and try to do it yourself.
TOM: Which you really couldn’t do because what if he has the numbers wrong? You’ll end up paying for windows that don’t fit.
DANIEL: So if we already did – I measured the frame on the windows, not the window itself. And we did just put the order in. So I could be in trouble here.
TOM: Are you going to put them in yourself?
DANIEL: Yeah. Because it’s – half the cost of the windows was the labor to put them in.
TOM: Well, how did you know how to measure them? Did you get advice from who you bought the windows from?
DANIEL: Yeah. He told me to measure the frame – not the window, not the part of the window that moves – but he said the frame itself.
DANIEL: And he said that’s the number that they would use if they sent somebody out.
DANIEL: And then he offered, because it was free, and when – to send somebody out. And when the guy showed up, he did the kind of – “Whoa, hold on. I just kind of give them rough numbers and they do what they need to do to make them fit from there.”
TOM: What I would do, if I were normally ordering windows, is I would get the advice on how exactly they need to be ordered. I would make – take the measurements and order them to fit. If that’s what you did and you followed their instructions, you should be OK. The thing is, if you’ve got it wrong, you’re going to get a window that doesn’t fit and you’re going to have a problem. But as long as you followed their instructions, then you should be OK.
DANIEL: Alright. It just kind of made me worry when the guy that showed up here gave me a different story than the guy down at the store.
TOM: Yep. Yeah, well, they’re all experts; they all have their way.
LESLIE: And clearly they’re not talking to each other.
DANIEL: Yeah. Like I said, that was the part that scared me and why I wanted to get some advice on this.
TOM: Alright. Well, I hope that helps you out, Daniel. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ann in Georgia, you are on the line with The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ANN: Well, my house was built back in the 60s and I know now when they put up drywall, they use drywall screws.
ANN: But back then, they used a hammer.
TOM: Yep. And nails, mm-hmm.
ANN: And I’ve got these dings on the walls and the ceiling. And I’ve tried to put spackle over the top of them and scrape it off and sand it and then paint it and there they are; they come right back again. Is there anything I can do to sort of cover it or do I have to take down all the drywall?
LESLIE: No, no. Are you sure it’s a hammer ding and not a nail pop? Does it seem like it’s raised or does it seem like it’s recessed?
ANN: They’re recessed.
TOM: They’re recessed. OK.
So, the solution here is spackling but it’s not just a one-shot thing. What you want to do is put multiple coats of spackle on, Ann. So you start – and you can go out to a home center or a hardware store and you can buy plastic spackle knives that are basically disposable.
So you start out with one that’s about 2 inches, then you go to one that’s about 4 or 5 inches, then you go with one that’s like 6- or 8-inches wide. And if you put on three layers like that, you’ll fill it in, it’ll be absolutely flat.
But you can’t just stop there. If you’re going to start doing this around the house, you’re going to have to repaint all of those surfaces and you should prime them first. Because if not, you’re going to get different absorption between the areas that were newly spackled and the old ones. And that will result in sort of like a weird kind of glazing or sort of shade difference with the way the paint kind of takes.
ANN: Oh, OK.
TOM: Alright? Now, if you have one that looks like it’s cracked – what Leslie was talking about are called “nail pops” – and frankly, that’s much more likely than the dents you’re describing, unless you just happen to have a really over-aggressive guy with a hammer that put that thing together back in the 60s.
LESLIE: Those dents are haunting you 50 years later.
ANN: I know.
TOM: Yeah. The nail pops, you could put another nail next to the one that’s sort of stuck out and drive it in. And that – the second nail will hold in the first nail. But remember, it’s really key that you sand, prime and paint to make this all go away.
And lastly, the type of paint you use is critical. Make sure you use flat paint; do not use anything with a sheen. Because when you put something with a sheen on a wall, any defect in the wall becomes magnified when the light hits it.
ANN: Well, that’s great advice.
TOM: Alright, Ann. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Billy in Texas is on the line with some deck-building questions. What can we do for you today?
BILLY: My question is what wood should I build it out of to last longer: redwood, the treated timber or – I don’t know. I’ve had buddies tell me I needed to go with the Louisiana wood that they …
TOM: Yeah. Your options are treated wood, a decay- or disease-resistant wood like redwood or cedar or a composite. You wouldn’t use untreated wood because it would rot quickly.
But here’s the thing: if you like real natural-looking wood, then there’s no reason not to use treated wood. If you want to step it up a little bit, you could use redwood or cedar. It’s going to be an expensive upgrade. But no matter what kind of wood you use, you will have to treat it. Because even if you use redwood or cedar, if you don’t put a seal or a stain on there, it’s going to fade because of the sun and it’s going to splinter and break down and crack. So if you’re going to go with wood, you’re going to have to use a solid-color stain on there to make sure it’s preserved.
Now, the other option – which you didn’t mention – is composite. And if you go with composite decking, then there’s really almost no maintenance that you have to do to it. Sometimes it gets a little dirty and has to be scrubbed but it doesn’t crack, it doesn’t check, it doesn’t twist. It’s always comfortable under bare feet. It’s going to be a little more expensive but when you add up the cost of the wood and the maintenance and the stain and all of that, maybe …
LESLIE: And the physical cost of actually doing the maintenance.
TOM: That’s right. Maybe not so much.
So, those would be the pros and cons of going with wood versus composite. But if you want something that’s not going to have a lot of maintenance headaches and it’s going to last a long time, I would definitely go with composite.
LESLIE: Well, all homes have a personality in terms of the noises that they make. Certainly, there are some strange noises that come from all different corners of the house. And sometimes, they’re just seasonal changes. Maybe it’s the heating-and-cooling system kicking on and off and just life in general. You know, there’s a lot going on that we usually don’t think about. But sometimes, those sounds can be a predictor of a potential problem.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. So, for example, if your water heater is making a gurgling sound, it’s usually caused by rust or sediment or mineral buildup in the tank. And while that’s not a major problem by itself, it’s more common in older water heaters because they’re more prone to rust and add buildup. So, you really ought to be checking the age.
LESLIE: Now, the average life of a water heater is about 10 years old. So, to figure out how old your unit is, take a look at the serial number. It’s going to be listed on that data plate, right on the unit itself. In most cases, the first two digits are the year the heater was manufactured.
Now, checking that out, if it seems to be getting close to 10 years, it’ll be less expensive to replace the unit before you need to pay a plumber overtime to replace it in the middle of the night, when you’ve got no hot water and a big mess on your hands.
TOM: Definitely. Now, if your toilet flushes on its own, it usually means the flush valve, which is that rubber flapper thing in the bottom of the tank, is leaking. What happens is it lets water out into the bowl. And then when the tank gets low enough, the fill valve kicks in and refills the tank. And that’s what results in that sort of mysterious flush.
Now, if you want to confirm that the flush valve is actually the thing that’s leaking, here’s a little trick of the trade. You can open the top of the tank and pour a few drops of food coloring in the tank, close it and wait about 15 minutes or more. And if you see that food color show up in the bowl itself, the only way it’s getting there is around a bad flapper. That means it’s leaking and it needs to be replaced.
Now, if that’s the case, you’ll need to drain the tank for the project, so I would suggest you replace both the fill and the flush valves at the same time. It’s a very basic plumbing project and parts won’t cost more than about 15 or 20 bucks.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s a super confidence-builder when it comes to a plumbing project, because you can definitely do it and you’ll be so proud that you’ve accomplished it.
Now, let’s talk about how to quiet down those noisy pipes. Now, banging pipes are usually caused by a water hammer, which is essentially what happens when water is running through the pipes and then it suddenly stops when you close the valve. Now, if the pipes are loose, the momentum of that water is going to cause those pipes to shake, resulting in what is commonly called a “water hammer.”
Now, there are two solutions. First of all, you’ve got to secure any loose pipes that you can easily access. And secondly, if that banging is really bad, you can have a plumber come in and install a water-hammer arrestor, which does pretty much what it says. It’s a shock absorber for your plumbing and it helps it to stop making that sound altogether.
TOM: Yeah. And water hammer rarely causes pipes to leak but it doesn’t mean you need to put up with it, especially if the fix is as simple as securing those loose pipes.
LESLIE: Karen in Kansas is taking on a tiling project. How can we help you with that?
KAREN: Yes, we were wondering the difference between the SnapStone – what’s the pros and cons of that and the traditional?
TOM: Well, I mean the SnapStone is an easy installation. It’s really aimed at DIYers and it makes it a lot easier to put it together. You don’t have to align them because you’ll get sort of perfect ¼-inch or so …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. They’re like gridded out already.
TOM: Yeah. You get perfect grout lines with it. You can actually physically take them apart and reuse them if you want. But it’s just a lot easier for a DIYer to install them.
Are you going to do this yourself?
KAREN: Yes, that’s – we were going to try, starting in our bathroom, and see how it looked and …
KAREN: If it worked – if we could do it right, then we were going to continue on into the kitchen and dining room.
TOM: Well, what you’re probably going to need to do is rent a wet saw, because cutting the tile is what separates the pros from the DIYers.
TOM: If you don’t have the right – if you have the right tools, it’s really easy; if you don’t, it’s just not. And tiling is very unforgiving. But if it’s a small area, a small project and you’ve never done tile before, I think going with the SnapStone is probably a good first attempt. It’ll be probably more forgiving than if you did it with regular tile.
KAREN: Cost-wise, how long would it last compared to the other, do you think?
TOM: I think it should last the same time, which is pretty much indefinitely.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. The only downside I can see is that you’ve only got 11 tile choices, so you’ve got to like what they’ve got. Whereas if you’re installing tile in a traditional sense, sky’s the limit as far as tile choice, layout, pattern, design, everything. So if you’re OK with something in their color palette, which seems like a good run, it looks like there could be something for your job. Then I say do it.
KAREN: OK. Well, thank you so very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Robert in Oregon is on the line and is having an issue with some plaster walls at his home. How can we help you?
ROBERT: Well, I was finishing a room in my bedroom and after applying the plaster, some of the plaster was coming off after I painted it. But originally, I did the living room, which was my first job, and I mixed it – a bunch of the plaster – Imperial plaster. And of course, I mixed too much and it got hard, you know? So I learned not to mix so much, because it only – you can only use so much during a certain time before it sets up.
So, anyway, in the next room, I drywalled it, finished it and then I used a product called Plaster-Weld, which is supposed to be a primer for the plaster.
TOM: Right. Plaster-Weld is a bonding agent.
TOM: And you used this on top of drywall? Is that correct?
TOM: Was it new drywall?
ROBERT: Yeah, new drywall.
ROBERT: But I’d primed the walls first and then put the Plaster-Weld over that.
TOM: OK. Hmm. OK.
ROBERT: And then mixed up my plaster – it was Imperial plaster – and applied it and finished it all up and troweled it to the texture I wanted. And then we went back – my wife and I – and touched up a few spots and then let it dry overnight. Then we put a primer on it and while putting the primer on it, some of the plaster was coming off.
TOM: First of all, I would not have primed the drywall. I don’t really see a reason to do that. You prime the drywall to control adhesion and to stop the absorption, I should say, of the new paint – the top coat of paint – and to get an even sheen. But you weren’t really concerned about sheen because you intended to do a plaster coat.
You were basically building what’s called “plaster lath.” This is the way homes were done in the 50s, where you have a drywall base and then you put a plaster coat on top of that. The bonding agent was the right thing to do but that should have gone directly onto the drywall. Now you put the drywall on, then you put a primer over that and then you put the bonding agent on top of that. So now you have to get the bonding agent to stick to the primer and that’s a little more difficult than getting it to stick to the raw drywall.
So I think you’ve got a situation now where you’re going to have this problem potentially repeating itself. So I hate to tell you this but what I might do is put another layer of drywall over this – a real thin layer – and start again. You don’t have to use ½-inch; you can use ¼-inch just to skim it. And then put the plaster over that.
ROBERT: Alright. Thanks.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if there’s one thing in our home that we want to be pure and fresh every time we reach for it, it’s our water. Now, if your water smells more like rotten eggs, there might a simple solution.
First of all, let’s first talk about what that smell is. Now, when you smell that rotten-egg smell, it’s sulfur. And it tends to rear its stinky head most often in houses that are located on a groundwater supply. And it happens because the groundwater can pick up hydrogen sulfide, which is a naturally occurring gas. And that hydrogen sulfide gets absorbed into the water and then comes into the house. It’s not dangerous. It’s not harmful to your health. It just smells yucky and it’s annoying.
TOM: Yeah. So, now that we know, let’s talk about how to treat it. If the smell seems to be coming from both hot and cold water, then you need to call your well contractor. They’re going to install a filter that minimizes the sulfur that reaches your house.
But if that smelly water is only coming from the hot side, what you need to do is to replace the sacrificial anode rod inside your hot-water heater. Now, sacrificial anodes are made of magnesium. And that is what the hydrogen sulfide attacks, releasing that rotten-egg smell and eating away at the rod at the same time.
LESLIE: Yep. And that’s why they’re called “sacrificial.”
TOM: That’s right. They are laying down their lives for fresh-smelling water. So, when you replace that old magnesium rod …
LESLIE: Somebody’s got to do it.
TOM: Yeah. You want to buy one, though, that is an aluminum sacrificial anode rod. These are more resistant to that hydrogen sulfide. And it’s going to get the job done, without risk of so much sulfur sticking to them and then ultimately being released back into your home and making your water smell stinky.
Those rods, they’re pretty affordable; they’re about 30 bucks. And you could find them at any plumbing-supply location.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lu from North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a water-pressure issue. How can we help you today?
LU: I don’t have any water pressure in my house and I wonder how to make the water pressure a bit higher.
TOM: Now, has this always been a problem or is it a recent problem?
LU: I think it’s always been a problem.
TOM: Yeah. How old is your house, Lu?
LU: Forty-three years old.
TOM: Is it a well-water system or is it a city-water system?
LU: I don’t know.
TOM: Do you pay a water bill?
TOM: Alright. So it’s city water, then, if you’re paying a water bill.
So, then, what I would do is this: I would start by having the water pressures checked at the street and find out what the water pressure is coming into your house. It needs to be between about 50 and 80 pounds or so to give you decent water pressure.
If there’s good water pressure at the street, then we have to go inside and start to figure out where it’s being restricted. It could be by the pipe, it could be by the water valve or it could be by fixtures. But if it’s evenly poor across the entire house, it’s more likely to be somewhere near the main water valve. It could be partially closed, it could be obstructed with mineral deposits.
But I would start by contacting the water company and tell them that the water pressure in your house is not acceptable and then have them test the water pressure at the main for – where it comes into your house and see what’s going on. It could be that there’s a problem at the main that they could fix right there without even having to come in your house. OK, Lu?
LU: OK, OK. I’ll contact them.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Arkansas is on the line with a chimney question. How can we help you today?
JIM: Well, the reason I called is because I have an issue with my fireplace. It’s just a regular wood-burner. It doesn’t have an insert in it. And I want to seal the chimney for health and energy-loss reasons. I was thinking about putting a steel plate on the top. Because here in the Ozarks, whenever we get bad weather and that wind is howling, it sounds like a freight train coming through my fireplace and I have quite a bit of a draft. And the damper just does not hold securely enough so I don’t get that air through there.
I was wondering, can you give me some advice as to who to contact if it’s feasible to do something like this? Is safety a concern?
TOM: It’s certainly feasible to do this project. It’s sort of the kind of project that you’ve got to be a bit creative with, because what you’re going to want to do is try to form some sort of weather-tight shield across the top of the flue. I would tell you that whatever you do to this, make it removable because chances are if you sell this house at some point in the future, somebody might find it really attractive to have a fireplace there in the Ozarks and want to reactivate this chimney, so to speak.
So, however you seal it across the top, you’ve got find out – find an easy way to do that. One thing that comes to mind is that there’s a damper that fits in the top of a chimney liner. And it’s sort of like a weighted, heavy, metal door. And the way it’s activated is that there’s a stainless-steel cable that goes down through the middle of the chimney and it’s hooked onto the side of the fireplace. And when you release the cable, the door flops open. So that would be a way to put a device up there that’s really designed for a flue and will serve the dual purpose of sealing off the draft from the top.
JIM: OK. Well, I thank you very much for giving me the time. And I love your show. Listen to it 2 hours every Sunday morning.
TOM: Alright. Well, thank you very much, Jim. It’s nice to hear. We appreciate it.
LESLIE: Well, if your home has vintage wallpaper that you’ve been enjoying for many, many years but now it’s got seams that are peeling or paper that’s bubbling, you might be able to preserve it and here’s how.
Now, both pre-pasted and traditional wallpaper might begin to peel in the places where the two strips meet. With the pre-pasted paper, the adhesive might not have been fully applied during the manufacturing process. And seams also become loose if too much paste was squeezed out of that seam during the installation. You know, when you’re sort of squeegeeing that wallpaper flat and going back and forth with the brush one, it kind of comes out of the seams and sometimes you just push out too much, which is also bad.
Well, regardless of how this has happened, you can start the repair process by gently, gently pulling back that wallpaper to where it’s kind of still fully adhered to the wall. And then, using a small artist paintbrush and wallpaper-seam adhesive, you want to spread the adhesive onto the wall, under the seam.
Next, you’re going to smooth the wallpaper back down over that adhesive and use a small, wooden seam roller to flatten it completely and then a damp cloth or sponge to wipe up any sort of leftover adhesive that might’ve squeezed out onto the paper. And that’s important, too, because you don’t want it to stain the paper. But don’t wipe away too much. It’s a delicate balance but you’ll get it.
TOM: Yeah. You think you’re doing a good job by rolling that seam really hard but then you’re pushing out the paste at the same time.
Now, if you’re seeing bubbles under the paper, that’s a different situation. Those are most likely caused by trapped air that wasn’t fully purged and smoothed away from under that wallpaper when it was first put up. So, before you attempt a fix, just double-check. You want to feel that bubble there with your finger to make sure that it’s soft, indicating there’s air underneath. And you want to make sure that there’s nothing trapped underneath. Sometimes, you’ll get a nail pop that will push out and that’s just more wall and you can’t do anything about that.
But once you confirm it’s just air, then fill a small adhesive syringe with wallpaper adhesive. Insert the tip of the syringe through the paper. You might need to take an X-ACTO knife and make me a little, tiny slit in it. And then inject some of that adhesive right under that bubble. And once you’re done, smooth that paper down, again, with a seam roller. Follow it up with a damp cloth or a sponge to get rid of any of the extra adhesive and you probably will have bought yourself a few more years of enjoying that beautiful wallpaper.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nicole in Illinois on the line who needs to fix a crack in a wall. And you’re saying it’s from an earthquake? When did you have an earthquake in Illinois?
NICOLE: Well, it was just a really small earthquake. We get them just randomly, about one or two a year.
NICOLE: Because we’re right on – there’s some fault that’s down south of us.
TOM: And now that fault has worked its way up into your wall. So what does it look like? How big of a crack is this that we need to fix?
NICOLE: It’s about an 18-inch crack and then that’s going down from the ceiling. And then it goes like – it goes diagonally up the wall and then hits the ceiling and then just moves horizontally on the ceiling for a couple of inches.
TOM: So it’s 18 inches long altogether?
TOM: How old is the house?
NICOLE: It’s not very old, like ‘99.
TOM: OK. So it’s a drywall crack then.
TOM: Many people will simply spackle that but the problem is that if you spackle that crack, the wall is now always going to move – and walls always do move but now that the wall has a crack, the two sides of that are going to move at different rates. And so that crack will reform. The way you stop that from happening is by taping over that crack with drywall tape and then spackling it.
Now, taping with paper drywall tape can be a bit tricky, so there’s a product out that’s a perforated drywall tape that looks like a netting. It’s like a sticky-backed netting. And that type of perforated tape is the best one to use because you put the tape on first and then you spackle over it. You want to do two or three coats, starting with smaller coats and then working wider as you go.
And remember, the thinner the coat the better; I’d rather you put on more coats than put on too much spackle, which too many people tend to do. Then it kind of gets all gooped up and piled up on your wall and you’ll see it forever. So, thin coats – two or three thin coats – and that should do it.
NICOLE: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Nicole. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, Cheryl from Rhode Island posted her question on MoneyPit.com. Now, she writes: “My den has a vaulted ceiling with exposed Styrofoam beams. They’re painted black. The ceiling is white. The walls are yellow. I’d like to paint the Styrofoam beams. What color do you suggest?”
I mean …
TOM: Black, white and yellow is a good place to start.
LESLIE: Yeah. I think people just get so sort of stalled and confused when it comes time to pick out a paint color, whether it’s for a wall, an accent color. Whatever it might be, there’s endless choices. So I think that’s where people really get tripped up.
Now, your beams are foam. Painting them in a solid color is kind of – you know, you’re missing an opportunity to make them feel like the material that they’re representing. And faux bois, or fake wood as it comes to translate to, is not a terribly difficult technique to kind of master and get really good at in a short amount of time. There’s tools for it that sort of get dragged through, that make that wood grain.
There’s one that looks more like a rolling pattern, that sort of seems to have more of – I would call it like a “fingerprint” that feels more like a wood grain. But there’s others that have a triangle with three different widths of triangle teeth on each side, that you kind of drag through and mimic the graining of the wood.
So, I would start with one town of brown as your base paint. Let that dry and then go in with either a tone lighter or a tone darker, depending on what type of wood you’re trying to duplicate. And just make it look like it’s real wood and go in a brown tone that you like.
TOM: Yeah. Sometimes, you can use the really heavy cheesecloth to drag it through the finish when it’s wet. And that sometimes makes it look like the grain is standing up on the wood, too. So, there’s lots of tricks and tips and techniques like that. And you can really make it look like wood.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s a fun project to do.
TOM: Alright. Alan in Pennsylvania is seeing some ice inside his windows. He says that – “My replacement windows are about 10 years old. I notice they freeze or frost up about ½-inch on the bottom of the top window. Every year, it gets a little bigger. Is there a moisture problem or a window problem or no problem at all?”
Well, Alan, I think what you’re seeing is condensation that has gotten into that window because the pane – the seal between the panes – has leaked, as they do over the years. And in the warmer weather, you may not be seeing much of it, in terms of the humidity or water droplets. But in the winter, apparently you’re seeing a lot more and that’s what’s freezing. The good news is your windows are a little less efficient but they’re not hugely inefficient. It might be indication of a time to think about replacing them.
But that’s what’s causing them. And the only fix here is to get new windows.
LESLIE: And you know what, Alan? I know replacing windows can tend to be an expensive project. But sort of tackle this in stages. That’s totally acceptable. Think about doing one side of the house first. Which side is in the most disrepair or giving you the hardest time? Start with that side. Do that. Wait a little while. Do the next one. It’s not something you have to sort of go all in. You’re not going to save a tremendous amount of money by getting everything at once. So do what you can within your budget and it’ll really work out well for you.
TOM: Yeah. I mean if you’re mostly concerned about heating bills, then do the north side and the east side first. If you are more concerned about saving on air-conditioning bills, then do the south side and the west side. Totally up to you. It’s a pretty straightforward, easy project these days. They’re called “replacement windows” but actually, all those windows are custom-made by default. And you’re going to find that they’re much more efficient than the ones that you have right now.
LESLIE: Just measure carefully. And if you don’t think you can, get someone to do it for you.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. If you have questions about a project you’d like to get done around your house, remember, you can reach out to us in a couple of ways: either by calling us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, posting your question at MoneyPit.com or posting your question at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
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.)
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