- You can flush away a pile of cash upgrading your bathroom. Luckily, you don’t have to. We’ve got 4 low-cost ways to spruce up your space for under $200 bucks!
- Even the cleanest of homes can have mold, and we’re not just talking about what you might find in last week’s leftovers! We share the surprising places mold can hid and what to do you do when you find it.
- When you move into an apartment, you’ll be expected to pay a damage security deposit. Getting it back, may not be quite so easy. We’ll tell you how to protect yourself from a landlord who wants to use your deposit unfairly.
- If the kids running upstairs make it tough for you to get any work done downstairs, we’ve got sound proofing tips to restore family harmony.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions on eliminating bio gas odors, stopping woodpeckers from damaging our chimney, repairing cracks in cement siding, removing wallpaper with destroying the walls underneath.
EPISODE #2086: 4 Beautiful Bath Upgrades Under $200 | DIY Mold Cleanups | Avoid Losing Security Deposits | Soundproofing Between Floors
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: Here to help answer your questions about your projects you’d like to get done around your house. If you’re working inside or out, if you’re working on your kitchen, your bathroom, your basement, if there’s a project that you have in mind to do, whether it’s a home improvement, whether it’s a repair, whether it’s a decorating project, we would love to hear from you and we would love to help.
You can reach out to us a few different ways. You can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974. And the way that works is we will call you back the next time we produce the show and answer your question. At least we’ll make an attempt. We usually make a couple of attempts to get back in touch with folks. Or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, you can flush away quite a pile of cash upgrading your bathroom. But luckily, you don’t have to. We’re going to feature four low-cost ways to spruce up your space for under 200 bucks each.
LESLIE: Alright. That’s awesome. And also ahead, even the cleanest of homes can have mold. And we’re not just talking about what you might find in your last week’s leftovers, guys. But we’re going to share the surprising places that mold can hide and what you should be doing when you find it.
TOM: And you know what? When you move into an apartment, you’ll be expected to pay a damage security deposit. Now, getting it back may not be quite so easy. So we’re going to tell you how to protect yourself from a landlord who might want to try to use your deposit unfairly.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got a great show planned. So tell us, guys, what are you working on? Reach out, let us know your project questions. We’re going to give you some tips to help you get that project done once, get it done right. So this way, you don’t have to do it again. Well, at least for a long time.
TOM: Well, that’s right. And guess what? We may even give you some tools to help you get that job done, because we’ve got a fantastic giveaway going out to one lucky listener. Someone who reaches out to us with a home improvement question – and remember, I said you’ve got to have a question, not just “I want to win the tools.” Because guess what, guys? We’ve got a HART 20-Volt Cordless 4-Tool Combo Kit to give away worth 178 bucks. Sweet.
HART Tools are well made. They’re versatile. They’re available exclusively at Walmart. And this one cordless, four-tool set is available at Money Pit right now. So call us with your questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post them at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Carol in Delaware needs some help with some insulation recommendations. What’s going on?
CAROL: Hi. We built, about two years ago, a pole building that we are insulating one-third of, that we are making into living space for a shop.
CAROL: And the whole pole building was wrapped in Double Bubble, including the ceiling. So, now that we are getting ready to enclose – or encapsulate or enclose this area – it’s 20x30x14. We need to know what type of insulation you would recommend over the Double Bubble?
TOM: Now, when you say Double Bubble, I’m not actually familiar with that term.
CAROL: It is like bubble wrap.
CAROL: And it’s closed-cell, so it’s just a roll that they – it’s a rolled product that they put out, like a bubble wrap.
TOM: Oh, OK. I think I’ve seen this. It’s like a foil-faced product? It’s not going to have very much R-value at all.
CAROL: No, it doesn’t. (inaudible)
TOM: It’s obviously not going to hold much heat in. I think your best option here for insulating that space is spray-foam insulation. Spray-foam insulation can seal all of the gaps that will be in that shell. You don’t need as much of it, in terms of thickness. And it does a very good job of not only insulating but sealing out the drafts. So, I would highly recommend spray foam over a fiberglass-batt insulation for this particular space.
CAROL: OK. And my husband’s sitting here. You’re on speakerphone. Would you recommend open- or closed-cell?
TOM: So, closed-cell is going to be better for moist locations. If you’re considerate about moisture – concerned about moisture – you would use the closed-cell. But open-cell does just a very good job, as well. I actually have both in my house. In my crawlspace, I have closed-cell for the box joists and in the walls and the roof rafters I have open-cell.
CAROL: OK. And then what would you do with the ceiling?
TOM: With the bubble wrap that’s there?
CAROL: There’s a space between the ceiling and the roof. What would you recommend putting in that space?
TOM: So you have two options. If you want, you could insulate the underside of the roof rafters and consider that attic space to be part of the conditioned space, part of the heated space. I mean not the heated space but it would insulate there. Or you could put the spray-foam insulation across the ceiling and make the attic completely unconditioned.
If you make it a conditioned space – if you insulate underneath the roof rafters – you’ll find that, you know, if you need it for storage, it’s not going to have the same kind of temperature extremes that you would have in an attic that was just more traditional and it was just whatever temperature it was outside. Whether it was 110 degrees in the summer or 10 degrees in the winter, that’s the temperature that attic’s going to be. So, it’s just kind of your personal preference. But wherever you decide to make that barrier, I’d make it with spray foam.
Take a look at Icynene – I-c-y-n-e-n-e – Icynene Insulation.
CAROL: What would you recommend as far as the heating/air-conditioning system we have? We have two areas: we have the wide-open space and then we have a bathroom space that will be in that area.
TOM: Do you have gas – natural gas – available?
CAROL: Yeah, we do. We have propane.
TOM: You have propane? Yeah. Well, I think propane’s going to be – probably be your best option. I’d prefer – my order of preference on fuels would be natural gas, followed probably by oil and then propane almost about the same. But propane is probably OK with an efficient furnace. And then electric would be last; that would just cost you a boatload of money.
But I think probably a propane gas furnace that’s a high-efficiency furnace. In the open space, you’re going to use a space heater that’s like one of those big furnaces that hangs up sort of in the air and warms that whole space. In the bathroom, that smaller area, if that could be connected to the same heating system that’s heating that room – is this bathroom separate from the living space you’re talking about or is it part of it? Because you’re going to need heat throughout that whole living space, aren’t you?
CAROL: Right. We’ll need heat throughout the whole living space. The bathroom will be closed off as a bathroom so that …
TOM: I think probably – you’d probably going to end up putting a furnace up in that attic. Sounds like you’ve got some room up there for it. But put a gas furnace up there and you can use that for heating and air conditioning.
CAROL: OK. What do you think about the split units?
TOM: The split-ductless units?
LESLIE: They run beautifully, though, but they’ll be expensive.
CAROL: I thank you’ve answered our questions. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Jessie. Well, good luck to you and your husband with that project and send us pictures when you’re done.
CAROL: I sure will. Thank you.
LESLIE: Wayne in Iowa is on the line with a septic issue. Tell us what’s going on.
WAYNE: Well, when I take a bath, I have odor when I drain the tub. If I take a shower, I have no odor when I take – when I take a shower, obviously, I don’t plug the drain. But everything runs through down to one pipe, which goes out to a septic tank. I do know the line is good from the house to the septic tank, because I had to dig that up before I ever did any of the plumbing in the house. I did not replumb the drain on the tub but otherwise, the house has new plumbing throughout.
TOM: So we don’t think that it’s in the drain line. For example, when you talk about sewer odors, the first thing you think of is a missing trap. But if the plumbing has been redone, it’s not likely that that’s the case, correct?
WAYNE: No, it has a trap. And it doesn’t leak into the basement but I – whenever I take a shower, it works fine. But if I take a tub bath and pull the plug on the drain, I get a sewer odor in the hallway outside the bathroom.
TOM: Because the other cause of those odors is something called “biogas” – is when you get a lot of bacteria that can form in a drain. And it may not even be the drain of the tub; it could be the drain of the sink. I presume there’s a sink in that same bathroom. And sometimes, even in the overflow channel of the sink, you get this bacterial buildup that can have just an awful odor to it.
And the solution there is to thoroughly clean it with an oxygenated bleach so that you kill that bacteria, flushing out the overflow channel, scrubbing the drain with almost like a bottle brush to make sure that all of that bacteria is eliminated.
Biogas can be very pungent and unpleasant to live with but relatively simple to get rid of once you get to the spot where it exists. Will you give that a shot?
WAYNE: Yes, sir. I most certainly shall.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Well, when you listen to The Money Pit, you get the answers, of course, to your home improvement and your décor questions but you also get a chance to win tools to get those projects done. And we’ve got an amazing set of tools that we’re ready to give away today from HART.
We’ve got up for grabs the HART 20-Volt Cordless 4-Tool Combo. Now, this is great. It includes the HART Drill Driver, an impact driver, a reciprocating saw, an LED light, two 20-volt batteries, a fast charger and a 16-inch tool bag to keep it all in. And I love that the two batteries allow you to sort of keep one on charge and then, as you’re working and that battery winds down, you’ve got another one ready to go. Or you can have two tools going at the same time. I mean it’s really fantastic.
The tools are super versatile and they’re very well made. And they will definitely help you tackle your next DIY project.
TOM: They’re available exclusively at Walmart, offering a complete line of tools and accessories so you can easily tackle any project. Do it with HART. Learn more at HARTTools.com.
Now, we’re giving the HART 20-Volt 4-Tool Combo away to one listener drawn at random that calls us with a home improvement question. My team in the studio has begged me to make sure we make this very clear that you must have a question, because they get pummeled with people that just want to win the prize.
LESLIE: And don’t phrase “Can I have the tools?” as a question like, “Can I have the tools?”
TOM: Yeah. It is not a question, right.
We love that you want to win but we want to – we want you to participate, as well. So, if you’ve got a project in mind, this is your chance. Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Kelly in South Dakota is on the line and wants some help removing wallpaper. What can we do for you?
KELLY: I have a – some wallpaper that I want to remove. And I believe we primed the walls. This has been about 10 years ago. And when I pulled back on the edges of the wallpaper, it seems as though it’s taking a bit of the drywall with it.
TOM: So, what you want to do is you want to get a tool called a “paper tiger,” which puts small holes in the surface of the paper. And it helps the wallpaper remover get behind it and loosen up the adhesive.
Now, in terms of wallpaper remover, you can use fabric softener, which works well or you could use a commercially available product, like DIF – D-I-F. But putting those holes in there is important because, otherwise, it doesn’t saturate the paper.
Now, if you do that and it still doesn’t loosen up and pull off, then what you need to do is go out and rent a wallpaper steamer. And that will use warm, moist air to separate the paper from the wall.
No matter how you do it, it is a lot of work. And once that wallpaper is off, you’re going to need to reprime that wall with a good-quality primer so you have a nice surface upon which to put your final color of wall paint.
KELLY: OK. Do you need to sand that once you get it all done?
TOM: Well, if it’s a little rough, just lightly sand it. You don’t want to sand it too much, especially because you don’t want to cut into the paper that’s part of the drywall. But a little bit of light abrasion is not a bad thing.
But the most important thing is a good-quality priming paint applied to that wall surface, because you’re going to have old sizing material and who-knows-what-else stuck to that. And if you put the primer on, it’ll give you a good surface upon which to apply the paint. The paint will flow nicely and it’ll look better when it dries.
KELLY: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you can flush away a pile of cash upgrading a bathroom but luckily, you don’t have to. We’ve got four low-cost ways that you can spruce up your space for under 200 bucks.
Now, first of all, you can paint those cabinets a new color. It’s a super-quick, cost-effective way to really make a big change. Now, to do so when you’re painting any sort of cabinet structure, a vanity, whatever it is, you want to take the doors and the drawer fronts off. Paint those separately. Then, all of the cabinet surfaces, you should wash them, sand them, prime them. You want to get to a nice, fresh surface that’s going to really let that paint stick. Prime it and then paint it.
And it’s a really good weekend project, especially because the bathroom space is so super small. And if you get bored in a few years, you simply just paint it again and it’s not a lot of money.
TOM: Next, you can rethink your mirror. You know, mirrors are often one expense that is not considered in the initial bathroom build. We often settle for a frameless, wall-mounted sort of builder’s mirror, which does the job but it’s not very glamorous.
So, one thing that you could do is to consider adding off-the-shelf, molded cornices or trim that you can combine in any number of ways. There’s some really nice PVC molding out there that’s basically peel-and-stick, that looks just like wood when it’s painted. And by simply adding a frame, you can create sort of an instant statement piece in your bathroom, for as little as maybe 30 bucks.
LESLIE: Yeah. And that material is perfect for your bathroom space.
Now, another thing: change up that bathroom lighting. When you think about it, you’re in the bathroom, there’s a lot of different things that you do in the space: you shave, you put on your makeup, you take relaxing baths. So you kind of need a variety of lighting. But you need that lighting to be able to be bright so when you do those tasks that need the lighting, you’ve got the right light for it.
Now, today’s LEDs, there are so many different color temperatures. When you buy those bulbs, pay attention to what that is. Because too cool, you’re going to look sick; too warm, you’re going to look scary. We don’t want it so bright where you kind of really see what you look like when you’re waking up in the morning. But we want it to look great and we want you to feel good. So choose something with about a temperature of 3,000 or less and you’ll be very happy.
TOM: And finally, update those faucets while you’re at it and make them water-wise. If you change the faucets or showerheads, it’s an easy way to add some bling to your bath. And if you choose WaterSense fixtures – that’s the EPA’s program for water efficiency – that means that those fixtures are going to use about 30-percent less water than a typical fixture. And you’re not going to give up any performance you’re used to, like having a strong shower to wake you up first thing in the morning.
And there you go: four fix-ups for your bath under 200 bucks each.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Terry in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with some woodpeckers. Tell us what’s going on.
TERRY: We have a small woodpecker; it’s about the size of a sparrow. It’s dark gray or black with white speckles on its chest. And it actually pecks holes in the corners of my chimney, on the 1x4s. And then the guy next door actually redid his chimney with stuff that’s similar to Sto stucco-type stuff. And they actually peck holes in that stuff.
TERRY: And he fills them and they peck more holes.
TOM: Well, look, there’s a couple of things that you can do. One real easy thing to do is to try to dissuade them from landing on your chimney. You can – temporarily, by the way, on this is what I might suggest, just only temporarily – hang tin pie plates on the chimney. Because the silvery pie plates kind of drifting in the wind totally freak out woodpeckers.
Another thing that you can do is you could take a Hefty bag and if you were to cut a Hefty bag – like a black Hefty bag? – and cut strips of plastic for the same thing – in other words, have them sort of flopping in the breeze around the top of the chimney, that also is very intimidating to woodpeckers and they will leave it alone.
TERRY: Oh, OK.
TOM: And if you do this maybe for a month or so, they might just forget about your house and go attack somebody else’s.
TERRY: Fantastic. Alright. Thanks a lot.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bonnie in California. Welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BONNIE: We have a condo that we’ve – it’s been rented for 12 years. And when our renters moved out, we were going to sell it. And we saw stains on the carpet and we thought, “Well, we’ll pull up the carpet, replace it and just paint and clean up and put it up for sale.”
BONNIE: Well, when we pulled the carpet back, the cement slab – it’s a cement slab, single-level condo, 1,600 – almost 1,700 – square feet with a cement-slab floor. And when we pulled back the carpet, we found that it was very damp and there was that white, fuzzy kind of effervescence or whatever they call it that comes up from the cement.
TOM: Efflorescence. Mm-hmm.
BONNIE: Lots of that. We tore up all the flooring and thought, “Well, we’ll go ahead and hire a contractor and have it all fixed and put new stuff down.” And it didn’t dry out; it just was damp.
But in any case, this problem is not getting solved. We have – we don’t know where to go from here. We want to figure out if there’s some way to seal that floor that is going to keep it from ruining the carpet and wood again and get it for sale. But fix it so that it’s – so that we can say it’s fixed.
TOM: Alright. Well, here’s what I think is going on, based on your description. If you’ve got that much of a water source that close to the concrete slab – concrete is very hydroscopic. I mean it will really absorb water like crazy. And so if the ground outside is saturated, that is clearly drawing through the concrete into the interior and that’s why the floor has been so wet. My concern is that this could develop, if it hasn’t already, into a mold problem.
The bad news for the condominium association is that if they’re responsible for the structure of this building, which would include the floor, this is their problem to fix, not your problem to fix. And if I was advising them, I would tell them to stop calling contractors to check leaking ponds and start calling professional engineers that can analyze the building and figure out exactly what’s going on and prescribe the proper fix. They’ve got to think big here, not think small. Because I think they have a lot of liability, because it’s probably not you; you just happen to be the one that found it. But if your neighbors start pulling up carpet, they’re going to probably find the same thing.
All that you can do on the inside is really stop-gap. You can clean up the efflorescence, you can put a masonry sealer on the floor. But the problem is that that concrete is going to continue to get wet, continue to get damp and eventually it’s going to pull back into the unit. So, I think that you need to have a very serious sit-down with that condominium association.
BONNIE: Mm-hmm. OK.
TOM: Alright? Good luck, Bonnie.
BONNIE: Thank you very much.
TOM: Thank you for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, even the cleanest of homes can have mold. And I’m not just talking about the mold you find in the leftovers in the fridge that, you know, have been there far too long. Besides being unsightly, when you find mold in your house, it can actually cause some serious health problems.
So, what do you do when you find the mold and is removal a do-it-yourself project? We’re going to walk you through it.
TOM: Now, first, the extent and the type of mold you’re dealing with is going to determine whether or not you can handle that mold cleanup yourself or you need the assistance of a mold-removal pro.
For small cleanup jobs, which we define as 10 square feet or less, definitely a DIY project as long as no one in the household is super sensitive to mold. But if the cleanup project is bigger than 10 square feet, it’s time to turn to a pro to get it done.
LESLIE: Now, like hiring any pro out there, selecting a qualified mold-removal pro is going to require that you qualify them very carefully, especially because your health is at stake here. So you want to ask for references from past clients and you want to see information from professional training and certification organizations, such as the American Indoor Air Quality Council and the Indoor Air Quality Association. You want to see that they are accredited.
You also should check for insurance coverage for mold removal. Carefully review your insurance policy and ask your insurance agent. You need to be aware that mold remediation can be very expensive. And more and more insurance companies are instituting coverage limits or charging extra for mold riders. So you’ve got to make sure that you’re covered and that you’re prepared for whatever expense you might have to pay out of pocket.
TOM: And finally, now that you’ve done all this work and maybe even paid for a mold pro, you want to make sure it doesn’t come back. There was a reason that you grew mold in the first place. And it can grow within 24 to 48 hours whenever air and moisture, like from leaks or spills or even high relative humidity and condensation and food sources – which, by the way, we’re not talking about hamburger here, we’re talking about drywall; the paper on drywall is a really great mold food – are present.
So cleaning is going to help kill what’s there but it will likely reappear. So make sure you deal with the conditions that caused the mildew or the mold to grow in the first place so that all that effort wasn’t for naught.
LESLIE: Jeffrey in Wisconsin, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JEFFREY: Well, I’ve got cement-board siding and occasionally, a crack appears. And I’m wondering – I’ve tried a couple different caulks. The last one was QUAD. And it just kind of swells and shrinks with the weather and it shows after you paint it. Is there anything out there you could help me with to repairs cracks in board siding?
TOM: What you want to use is a silicone caulk because it’s the most permanent one. It’s got good adhesion and expands and contracts. But you are correct that it is very difficult to paint. So what I would tell you to do is to use a colored caulk, to choose the caulk in the color of the siding. And this way, you don’t have to worry about painting it and you could still have the qualities of expansion and contraction and adhesion so it’ll stay put once you apply it. Cement-board siding does not need to be painted nearly as often as wood siding. So if you get the right color and you get it applied properly, this is something that can be with you for 10 years.
TOM: The product is available in many different colors. I see it on The Home Depot website in gray and tan and white, of course. And there is also something called “paintable silicone.” It’s a white silicone caulk but it’s paintable. It’s made by GE. It’s called GE Silicone II. So you have a lot of options to choose from.
JEFFREY: Guess I’ll check that out, because what I’ve had so far hasn’t really done what I’ve been able to be satisfied with.
TOM: Well, remember the secret to a successful caulking project is to make sure the surface is clean and dry when you apply it and make sure you give it plenty of time to set up. But I tell you, if it’s done right, it’s pretty indestructible stuff.
JEFFREY: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: Well, no matter when you listen to The Money Pit, you can always get in on our fun giveaways. And today, we are giving away the HART 20-Volt Cordless 4-Tool Combo Kit. It includes the HART Drill Driver, the Impact Driver, the Reciprocating Saw, an LED light, a couple of great 20-volt batteries, a fast charger and a tool bag.
And this battery system rocks because you can interchange them with all of the 20-volt HART products. They’re well made, they’re versatile and the kit has everything you need to tackle your project.
Now, if you want to get in on this, you’ve got to call us with a question. And I do mean with a home improvement question, which is not “Can I win the prize?” But we want to hear what you’re working on. And then we’ll put your name in The Money Pit hard hat and we might be sending that HART 4-Tool 20-Volt Cordless Combo Kit off to you.
It’s available exclusively at Walmart, offering a complete line of tools and accessories so you can easily tackle any project. Do it with HART. Learn more at HARTTools.com.
And if you want to win it, you’ve got to be in it. So, call in with your home improvement question to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Judy in Louisiana, you’ve got The Money Pit. What are you working on?
JUDY: Hi. I was asking about mildew and mold on brick. How do I get it off the easiest way? I mean it’s outside. How do I get it off the easiest way without damaging the mortar?
TOM: So, there’s a variety of products out there that can do that. And these cleaners, essentially, saturate the mold or the moss or the mildew and then they break down the fibers. And then rain, essentially, washes it away.
They’re slow working. It’s not like you’re going to do it once and it’ll be done. But it will get clean. So, there’s products like Spray & Forget or Wet & Forget and there’s Concrobium. Zinsser has one. And all of those products are basically a mildicide that is designed to kill that material.
I used them on a roof of a shed last year that was literally totally covered with moss. And I just happened to notice this past weekend, because we were out doing some work on the yard, that I could see all the shingles again as if it never existed. So it just basically melted it all away.
So that’s the way to do that. You can pressure-wash some of that off but if you do it, you just have to use a gentle pressure washer so that you don’t destroy the surfaces underneath.
Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, when you move into an apartment, you’re going to be expected to pay a damage security deposit. Now, when you move out, ethical landlords are going to give you that back if you haven’t caused any damage to the apartment. But unfortunately, not every landlord is eager to turn over that deposit back to you. But if you take a couple of precautions before, during or after your lease ends, you can maximize your chance of getting the entire security amount refunded.
TOM: Now, if you want to make sure you can get it back, the best offense is a good defense.
So, first, let’s talk about a really important phrase: wear and tear. Check your lease to see if it contains a definition. You want to know exactly what that means. If it doesn’t, ask your landlord to add an addendum so that everyone involved knows exactly what’s considered damage and what constitutes normal wear and tear.
For example, it can get kind of silly. Is a hole in a wall from a picture that was hung – a tiny, picture-hanging hole? Is that damage or is that just sort of normal wear and tear? In some cases, it’s damage and they might charge you to patch that tiny hole and repaint the entire wall.
LESLIE: Now, next up – and this is important. Your landlord should be providing you a form that you’re going to fill out to detail the property’s condition before you move in. And this is your chance to list any of those preexisting scratches, dents, any other damage issues. You want to make sure to list anything that you feel could be charged to you after you move out. So I’m talking about preexisting nail holes, cracks in bathroom tiles. If there’s a stain on a carpet or on the vinyl flooring, if there’s a crack in the window, if any of the window screens are torn, make sure you take pictures of the damage.
Really, just document the entire place. Take photos of every spot of all the rooms so that you can really be like, “I didn’t do this. This was here.” So you’ve got a leg to stand on to get your deposit back.
TOM: It really all comes down to communication. It’s a good idea to do a walkthrough of your unit with your landlord when you move in and also when you move out, so that you can both agree on any deficiencies that you find, what needs to be fixed, what doesn’t and so on. If you do this, you will minimize the chance of having any hassles when it’s time to move out.
LESLIE: Joanne in New Jersey needs help with a basement project. Now, she writes: “We recently decided to replace, you know, update the drop-ceiling panels in our basement. There are lots of really cool, new ceiling-panel designs and we’re ready for an upgrade. However, we’re also concerned about reducing noise between floors and wondered if you had any suggestions.”
TOM: Boy, she’s right about all the new ceiling-panel designs. They’re gorgeous. We used to only have those acoustic-ceiling tiles that were 2 foot by 4 foot and plain, white, nasty-looking even when they came straight out of the box. But now you can have all these beautiful ceiling-panel designs. Some of them look like tin ceilings and other sort of fancy patterns. So that’s definitely a good upgrade.
Now, in terms of the noise, yeah, it is a good time to deal with this because you’re going to take all those panels down. There is a type of product called “mineral wool” or “rockwool insulation.” In fact, the company is called ROCKWOOL Safe’n’Sound. And this type of insulation is stiffer than fiberglass. It’s a little easier to cut. And it’s specifically designed to not only insulate but also reduce sound transmission.
So, if you were to use that, it comes in two sizes to go between floor joists that are either 16 inches on center or 24 on center. And you can position it up there. It cuts nicely around wires and other obstructions. And I think you’ll find that it’s going to be a lot quieter between those floors if you do something like that. And now is the time to do it, Joanne.
LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that project and enjoy the new basement.
Now, Jason writes: “I need advice dealing with an old fireplace. Our house has a gas fireplace that is just a single pipe with holes. Do we need anything special to use it or can I just light it?”
TOM: Oh, no. Do not do that. Do not light that. If you just have a single pipe that’s coming out with holes, that might be what’s called a “gas starter” but I don’t know. If it’s a really old thing like that, I would not trust it.
Today, the gas logs for gas fireplaces, even the ones where you’re converting a brick fireplace to a gas fireplace, it’s kind of like a contained appliance. I mean it’s designed for the size of the hearth. If you have a really big, wide, brick fireplace, it’s going to be different than if you have a small one. It’s not just a pipe with holes in it. It’s a gas valve, it’s a lighting system. The ceramic logs themselves are sized so that they can help radiate more heat. So, that’s definitely the kind of appliance you want. You don’t just want to light that pipe that you see sticking out in your wall.
In fact, I would probably suggest it’s a good idea if you have a qualified chimney sweep or better yet, a company locally that sells gas fireplaces do an inspection. And make sure what’s there is not harmful, because you’re going to have to make sure that the new appliance is properly connected. And that involves working with that gas line and make sure the valves are not leaking and all that.
So, it’s a job and it’s not a hard job. But it’s definitely one that you need to do to be very, very careful. And by the way, if you’re going to use a gas fireplace, the vent – the damper – has to be open. It has to be open. In fact, there is a fitting you can put on those damper doors. It’s kind of like – it looks like a C-clamp made out of thick metal that prevents somebody from closing it accidentally. Because if you fire up that gas appliance and you’ve got your damper closed, you could force carbon monoxide to form in the entire house, which would be very, very dangerous. So, make sure you know what you’re doing before you use that.
And why do you want to have a gas fireplace anyway? It’s just not as nice as wood.
LESLIE: I don’t know. You know I upgraded to the gas fireplace. And I say upgrade because I can turn it on and off anytime and not deal with the hassle of actually lighting a fire. So I’m not board with this.
TOM: Well, there is that.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much, guys, for spending a good part of your day listening to us. We hope we’ve been helpful in giving you some ideas and inspiration to take on projects around your house. If you’ve got something in mind, something planned for now or the near future, don’t hesitate to contact us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Until then, I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(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.)