- If you think the best way to save time and energy cutting the grass is to set the mower as low as possible so you won’t have to mow that often, you might be surprised to find out that can end up being MORE work in the long run. We’ll share why, just ahead.
- We all love the look of a freshly painted room, but the getting ready part? Not so much! New paint and primer products promise to save you a big step in the process, but do they really do both? We explain where it works and where it won’t!
- Who would have thought a year ago that one of the most important considerations for a home office is your zoom background! We’ll share reno tips for home office re-do’s just ahead.
- Before your pet ventures out to roll around in the grass, we share tips to keep your pets safe and spaces green.
- Plus, answers to your home improvement questions, about repairing a rotted door, installing appliances before flooring, installing a mixing valve, best gutter covers for a home, preparing a deck for painting.
Episode #2090: Save Time Cutting Grass | Tips for Paint & Primer | Home Office Renos | Your Q & A
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 to us, a money pit is not a home that’s kind of a pile of sticks and stones. It’s a home that you love. It’s got good bones. Maybe it needs a little tender, loving care now and again. It needs some repair. It needs some updating. It just needs a little bit of everything, every day, to make it feel like the best home ever.
And you know what? If you’re a home lover, like we are, for me that’s the recreational time, you know? I mean for example – now, few people, I will admit, will call this “recreation.” But I broke up a concrete slab this weekend, Leslie, in my basement and I carried it up one piece at a time, because I wanted to put it in …
LESLIE: A bucket at a time.
TOM: A bucket at a time, that’s right. See, there’s my recreation. Who needs a gym membership, right?
LESLIE: That’s your recreation, your gym membership. That’s everything.
TOM: That’s my – exactly.
So whatever you guys like to do to take care of your house, we would like to help you do just that.
There’s a couple of ways to get in touch with us. You can pick up the phone anytime and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT – that’s 888-666-3974 – or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, if you think the best way to save time and energy cutting the grass is to set the mower as low as possible, so you’re not going to have to mow that often, well, you might be surprised to find out that can actually end up being more work in the long run. We’ll explain why, just ahead.
LESLIE: And we all love the look of a freshly-painted room. But the getting-ready part? Well, not so much. New paint-and-primer products promise to save you a big step in the process but do they really do both? We’re going to explain where it works and where it won’t.
TOM: And who would have thought a year ago that one of the most important considerations for a home office is your Zoom background, right?
TOM: We’re going to share some reno tips for home office redos, just ahead.
LESLIE: But first, we want to give you a hand, so let us know what you are working on this lovely spring weekend. Whatever it is, we’ll help you get that project done once so that you don’t have to do it again until you’re sick of it and want to do it again. So give us a call.
TOM: We’ll be there for you then. But for right now, you can reach us, again, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it.
LESLIE: Fred in Missouri is on the line and he’s got a question about a door. What’s going on at your money pit?
FRED: I call it a “fake French door.” It’s got the two panes of glass in it but only one side opens.
FRED: I’ve got some wood in there that’s kind of a – like little slivers of it and they’re starting to pull out and bow out. Is that something that’s easily repairable or would I be better off just going ahead and just replace the door with something newer, probably one with a PVC shell or aluminum shell?
TOM: So, you’re saying that the door is starting to decay? You’re getting some rotted areas?
FRED: Yeah, it’s – where the center is, where the door hinges at, on the outside?
FRED: It’s kind of like – it looks like they put it together in small pieces and just fitted them – cut them and – finger grooves in them and then fitted them together.
TOM: Oh, yes. Finger joint, yes. Mm-hmm.
FRED: Yeah. And they’re starting to come apart and come out.
TOM: So, actually, you don’t have to replace that door. It is completely repairable. There are two products that will come in very handy. They’re made by Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n. The website is Abatron.com.
The first one is called LiquidWood and it’s a deep, penetrating wood. It’s a consolidant that basically regenerates the structure of that wood and makes it very, very sturdy, especially if it’s rotted or dried out.
And then, if you’ve actually lost wood in there – and because it is so decayed, it’s sort of fallen away – then there’s a product called WoodEpox. And that’s really interesting stuff because it’s two parts. You mix it together and it hardens. And then you can work it like regular wood, which means you could stain it or you could paint it.
So I think you could avoid a very expensive replacement of that entire door just by repairing it with those products from Abatron.
FRED: OK. Well, I’ll have to look at it, then check them out.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.
FRED: Yep. Thank you. You guys take care.
LESLIE: We’ve got Robin in Maryland on the line who’s looking to do a flooring project. How can we help?
ROBIN: So, I have – the whole house is a condo in Ocean City. So, from the front door to the back door all needs to be done. But the kitchen area has issues with getting the appliances out. So I wanted to put the laminate from the front wall to the back wall, without trying to take out that little luan things that they have for the backing for what was linoleum floor? So I think a ¼-inch going in? And then it has an opening that leads into the living room/dining room area that I wanted to know if I could put one of those tread things there and make the transition look good. Or is it going to look not put together and look funny?
See, I didn’t want to take up the luan in the kitchen that goes underneath of all the cabinetry.
TOM: Right. Yeah. No, I hear you. I hear you, yeah.
The only thing is if you put laminate on top of that, just make sure that you’re not sort of blocking your dishwasher in. Because if you have a floor that’s higher than the dishwasher – and it’s OK if you have the screw legs in the dishwasher and you’ve still got an inch or so of room there, where you can adjust it up and down. But I have seen people actually lock in the dishwasher by putting flooring right up against that. And they now – they can’t get it out without raising the countertop, for example.
But in terms of your question about the sill, yes, you can put a transition piece across that. And it’s probably a good idea, because there’s going to be so much traffic there. That will help you make that – make sure that that area of the floor doesn’t sort of buckle or twist or wear through quicker than the rest.
I would just probably choose something that matches the color. I don’t know if you’re going to find the exact product that you’re using made in a sill version but you can probably find something close.
What do you think, Leslie?
LESLIE: Generally, you can get them from the manufacturer to match the flooring. But if you’ve got two completely different things, go with something that sort of matches whatever else in the room. And I think Tom is onto something with a metal finish or something that gives you that same transition from space to space but coordinates with everything else.
ROBIN: Should I have it be wide, like the 4 inches of the wall opening? Or should it be thin?
TOM: You at least want it to be 4 inches wide. I’ve got a transition in my house that’s about 8 inches wide, because I have it this whole depth of the door. It just happened to work well for that. But you definitely want it to be at least 4 inches wide because otherwise, it’s going to be hard for you to attach it. And if you just have a really thin piece of trim in there, it’s going to wiggle free, believe me, with all the foot traffic on top of that.
ROBIN: OK. That’s very helpful. So, lift the feet on the appliances before I install the floor and widest transition possible.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. And obviously, take the refrigerator out, too. You know, you don’t want to block in those appliances. You will be very sad because chances are, you get this beautiful floor down and then a month or two later, your dishwasher dies and you can’t get it out. OK?
ROBIN: Yes. Yay. You helped me very much. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bob from Rhode Island on the line. What can we help you with today at your money pit?
BOB: Well, my money pit is a house, actually. And usually is everybody’s money pit, I guess. I’ve got a – the family’s homestead – it’s been in the family since 1948. And I’m in the process – I’ve gutted it all out. I’m down to the studs, so I took all the studs and the – I mean I’m sorry, I took all the plaster and the laths off the walls and the ceilings. And I’m looking at these two chimneys in the house. It’s a two-and-a-half decker house. And I’m trying to decide if I want to eliminate the chimneys.
The new boilers today, they’re all direct-vented and I’ve got to do the roof anyway. So I’m saying, is this the time to remove the chimneys? What do you think?
TOM: Well, I think it might be. If you want to get rid of the chimneys, it could be the time to do it. Do you feel like the chimneys contribute to the aesthetics of the house?
BOB: Well, that’s a thought, too. That’s part of the reason why I’m calling is because I’m – they kind of do, in some way. And I’m looking at – when I tear the – when I tore the walls out, I exposed the chimney. I do like the brick but then again, I can change the layout of the kitchen without one of the chimneys. The one in the kitchen is quite large, so …
TOM: Do these come up through the middle of the house or they come up the outside wall?
BOB: No, they’re in the middle. Not in the middle but they’re inside. They’re all in …
TOM: OK. So that’s not so bad, yeah.
BOB: Yeah, they’re not like a newer house where they were outside – on the outside of the house, no.
TOM: And your furnace, your water heater, they’re all direct-vent today, so they’re completely disconnected from the chimneys themselves?
BOB: Well, they’re not now. I’m going to replace them. I’m going to put a Navien system in and …
TOM: OK. Alright. So you’re going to use a PVC, probably, vent pipe to take that up and out.
BOB: Correct. Yes.
TOM: Alright. Well, listen, if you – it does make sense to remove the chimneys. They are, obviously, a maintenance headache and a source of many leaks. Since you’re doing the roof, now is the right time to do that.
Removing the chimney is not as difficult as you might expect, because it’s basically like taking apart the building blocks. You start at the top and knock those bricks loose and take them down one at a time until you get below the top of the chimney. Probably go right down to the attic floor, I would imagine, so that it’s not in the middle of the attic. And then go ahead and resheathe that roof, fill the hole in. And once they roof over, it’ll be a distant memory.
BOB: And the funny thing is, as you said, that’s the proper way. But years ago, I had a friend of mine helping me doing another house and my – and it was a three-decker. And I told him, “I want to remove the chimney.” And all of a sudden, I hear this ridiculously loud noise. Sounded like a locomotive. He went down to the basement and knocked out the chimney and it’s a wonder he didn’t get killed. The entire chimney came all the way down to the basement.
TOM: The whole thing came down?
BOB: Yeah. He was entirely covered in soot. It’s a wonder he didn’t get killed. The entire basement was full of brick.
TOM: Yeah, well, let’s hope he learned his lesson.
BOB: Yeah. Well, good. Well, thanks for the advice. And I love your show. I listen to it every weekend on WPRO-AM in Rhode Island.
TOM: You are very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, most people don’t really give their grass-cutting much thought but they should. Because if you do it right, you’ll enjoy a beautiful, healthy lawn. But if you do it wrong, you’ll end up with a weed-filled dust bowl.
So, here’s what you need to know.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you’ve got to avoid scalping the lawn. Now, a scalped lawn is vulnerable to diseases and weed infestation. The taller grass is going to develop deeper roots, which then creates a lawn that can better withstand any drought situations that might happen during the summer months. And the general rule is to never remove more than one-third of the total grass-blade length in a single cutting.
TOM: You’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, just a third? That means I’m going to have to cut it again and again.”
LESLIE: “I did it three times.”
TOM: Yes. Yes, you are. Yes. So just accept it.
Now, you also – when you’re mowing, try not to mow in the same pattern every time. This avoids compacting the soil and creating ruts. And keep those mowing blades sharp to get the best results. You can sharpen them at least a couple of times during the mowing season. Not a hard DIY project. You can follow manufacturer guidelines for removing the mower blade and then reattaching it after it is sharpened. If that blade is sharp, the blade will not damage the ends of the grass. And this way, it will grow back that much more quickly, which is a good thing, believe me.
LESLIE: And then you cut it again.
LESLIE: Bathroom projects are always great but a lot of work. Jackie in Michigan is working on one right now. How can we help?
JACKIE: Well, I have a question. I have done some plumbing and I am going to be taking out an old tub and putting in a tile shower in place of it. So, the diverter and the showerhead are fine. I’m going to be removing the tub faucet, because I’ll no longer have a tub. Can I just cap off that pipe coming to the tub faucet or do I have to put a whole new diverter in?
TOM: No, you have to put a shower valve in, because you’re going to have to disconnect the whole spout. I mean the way you get water in that shower now is run it through the tub spout and then pull up the diverter and then it starts coming out the spout. So you’re going to need to put in a shower valve. And I would also suggest, since you’re doing that, putting what’s called a “pressure-balanced shower valve.” This will make sure that if somebody’s running water somewhere else in the house, you don’t get either scalded or just chilled because it will make sure that the water-temperature mix always stay the same. So, that’s an opportunity to do that.
Let me ask you this question. The wall behind where the bathroom is right now, is that accessible? Is it – has it been opened up in the past to work on the plumbing?
JACKIE: No. They left a little exit panel. The tub that’s in there now is actually a jetted tub.
TOM: Right. Oh, OK.
JACKIE: And so they left an access panel to get to the – maybe the motor and the jets or whatever on the tub.
JACKIE: But there is nothing to even – I figured I could – when I was tearing out some of the tile and pulling out the spout, I could just remove the spout. I thought maybe I could just cap it off but then I thought no, because you – just like you said, you pull up on the spout to send the water to the showerhead.
TOM: Right. Yep, exactly. Yeah.
JACKIE: So I need a whole new diverter.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Yep. See, it’s always a bigger project. And plumbing is one of those things that, you know, if you don’t do it every day, it can be confusing and it can be very time-consuming. So you might want to plan this where you’re doing the demolition and then – and the tiling work. But you have a plumber come in at the appropriate time and just reroute those pipes properly, install that diverter valve and then you won’t have to worry about getting it wrong. Because if you do, it’s a heck of a mess to fix it.
And by the way, the other thing to think about doing is to open up the wall from the backside. And a lot of times, if you have a wall behind a tub – maybe it’ll be the adjoining room sometimes. In my house, there’s one – there’s a closet behind the bathroom and the back closet wall, we have a panel in it. And if we lift that panel out, we can get to all the plumbing that’s in that actual bath – that actually serves that bathtub or the shower. So if you have the opportunity to create an access panel like that, that could be valuable going forward, as well.
Jackie, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ralph in Pennsylvania is on the line with a heating question. What can we do for you today?
RALPH: I’m having a problem. I have a wood burner down in the basement and I can’t get the heat to go upstairs. I can get to the top of the basement steps. It’s real warm.
RALPH: I can’t get the heat to go upstairs.
TOM: What kind of a heating system do you have?
RALPH: I have electric heat and it’s in the ceiling upstairs. Individual room.
TOM: That is a very inefficient system. So you’re delivering – first of all, you’re using electric heat, which is the most expensive type of heat.
TOM: And you’re delivering from the ceiling down, of course, because heat rises. That’s got to be super uncomfortable and expensive to run.
RALPH: Yeah. And the house was built in 1968. And what it is – I have a wood burner downstairs. It’s real nice and warm. You get it to the top of the stairs and it’s just blocked, like it won’t go any farther. You open the – well, I even put a screen door at the top of the steps. Thought that would help. But even the screen door – it just doesn’t want to go up there. The house is so well insulated.
TOM: Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you put some registers in your floor? Essentially, holes in your floor between your basement and your first floor so the heat has a way to work its way up. You could – you would trim them out and frame them out and put floor registers in so that heat can work its way up.
RALPH: Yeah. I suggested that but my wife, she won’t go for it.
TOM: She wouldn’t go with that, huh? Alright.
TOM: Well, put her on the line. We’ll try to talk her into it, OK?
Well, look, I think if you were able to put a couple of vents in that floor, that would help you move that warm air from the basement up. But I don’t think that’s going to be enough to be completely comfortable upstairs. So, I think probably the best, most cost-effective way for you to add that heat up there and not have it be radiated from the ceiling would be to perhaps add a mini-split ductless.
Now, this is a unit that hangs on the wall and it can deliver air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. And it’s going to be a heck of a lot more cost-effective for you than that electric radiant heat coming from the ceiling.
Because my goodness, Leslie, when you’re – first of all, he’s got electric heat and he’s delivering it from the ceiling. That’s got to – that house has to be in a constant state of discomfort. Imagine just lying in bed and just feeling chill all the time and the only time you’re warm is when you stand up.
So, I hope that helps out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to Gail in Virginia who’s got a heating-system question. What’s going on?
GAIL: I have an oil furnace that provides my heat and my hot water.
GAIL: My problem is that I constantly, constantly have to adjust the water temperature in my shower.
TOM: Because it’s too hot or it’s too cold or what?
GAIL: Yeah. Too hot.
GAIL: I’ve tried turning it down. I’ve tried turning the temperature down on the furnace but then it affects my heat and I run out of hot water.
TOM: I know exactly what you have. You don’t actually have a furnace; you have a boiler.
TOM: And you have an indirect water heater.
Is there a tank – the tank-like structure next to the boiler? Or is it all coming straight off the boiler?
GAIL: Straight off the boiler.
TOM: OK. So, what you want to look for – and maybe next time you have this system serviced, you should be able to find this – is there’s a valve called a “mixing valve.” And the purpose of the mixing valve is to add cold water to that 160-odd-degree water that comes off the heating system. Because you don’t want to have that full-temperature water going to your shower, because you’re going to get scalded. All tankless coils. That’s the kind of system you have, by the way. It’s called a “tankless coil.” It’s built into the boiler.
Have a mixing valve. And the mixing valve adds that cold water into it. And this way, you have two, basically, ways to adjust temperature. As you’ve discovered, if you turn the temperature down for the water going through the boiler, your house doesn’t heat quite so well because your radiators don’t get hot. But they’re really two separate purposes. You know, the water that you’re using domestically for the shower shouldn’t get any hotter than 110 or 120 degrees max.
But for the heating system – do you have steel radiators or cast-iron? What kind of radiators do you have?
TOM: OK. So those steel baseboard radiators, usually you have to have 160-, 170-degree water coming out of the boiler for that, for them to work right. So, that’s what’s going on. You just need to find your mixing valve. So I would make sure you identify that and have the technician show you how to operate it and set it, because you shouldn’t have to keep messing around with it, OK?
GAIL: Excellent. Thank you so very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.
GAIL: Thank you. Bye now.
TOM: So, Leslie, I learned something about these paint-and-primer-in-one products recently. I was doing a project where I was taking some really old wood and repurposing it – upcycling it, as you would – to use it as paneling. And so, it was old, it was dark, it was stained. And I knew I had to prime it and I thought, “Ha, I happen to have a can of paint-and-primer semi-gloss unopened in my basement.” So I grabbed the can. I went at it and I was aghast that as soon as I started working with it, I started to see the stains leak through like you – when you try to paint over a water stain? Came right through. So the primer, basically, had no effect whatsoever.
LESLIE: That’s not good.
TOM: So, I went back to the paint store and I talked to the reps. And I learned that the paint-and-primer products are not designed for any kind of raw material like that. For that, you really need to use a regular primer product and preferably, oil-based. So I actually went back over that with a white shellac primer and then it worked perfectly.
But the paint-and-primer? Not exactly. Only if you’re going over an existing painted surface. If it’s going over raw, you’ve got to use the regular primer to do the job.
LESLIE: Yeah. And I mean the paint-and-primer is great if you’re quickly painting a bedroom or a living room, dining room, something like that. But you’re right: you’ve got to be careful with what you choose and make sure it’s for the right material.
Tom, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
TOM (CALLER): Going to have new gutters put up on the house. And I’m thinking about putting gutter guards on. Now, the neighbor has gutter guards similar to the one that I’ve decided on. But he’s got about the same pitch roof as I have – a 4/12-pitch roof – and the gutters are the same. They slope. And he’s had real good luck with that. I’ve seen it for 20 years and there’s no problem at all with leaves and stuff collecting.
Now, the salesman says you don’t need a slope. He said his kind are flat. And I just wonder if that’s true. Do you need a slope or not?
TOM: So, the gutter cover that your neighbor has is sloped or tilted. And the one that the salesman is selling you for your house is flat and not tilted. Is that correct?
TOM (CALLER): That’s right. I’m going to get a 6-inch size so that the back side would be 2 inches higher than the front side.
TOM: The only problem I’ve seen with gutter covers is when you have a really strong rainstorm and the rain runs down the roof very quickly. And then it hits the gutter cover and bounces off and just keeps going. I think that whether you have a slight pitch to that gutter cover or if it’s flat probably won’t make a big difference but I do think you need some pitch. I think if it’s totally flat, it can run backwards and towards the house, maybe perhaps even get into the fascia. So I think you definitely need some pitch. I wouldn’t draw a big distinction in making sure you have to have a lot of pitch.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We’re going to talk with Dot in Wisconsin who’s got a decking question. How can we help you with your project?
DOT: Yes. My deck is located on the south side of my house and every year, we’ve been putting a paint on it. And it’s where we get a lot of sun. And I’m wondering if there’s a special kind of paint I should use, because it peels a lot.
TOM: So, there are special paints for decks. And if you’re continuing to put more coats of paint on the old deck, my concern is that you’re never going to get good adhesion. You may have too many coats of paint on that now.
Are you using paint or stain, Dot?
DOT: I believe it’s a paint.
TOM: I’m afraid, at this point, what you really need to do is to remove that paint so you can get down to the original wood. Because you can’t put good paint over bad paint; it’s going to continue to peel. And once you get down to that wood, then you should prime it and then paint it.
But if you’re able to get most of the paint off – and perhaps you can because, apparently, it’s not sticking well, where you really don’t have too much left – then I would recommend not using paint on it. I would use solid-color stain. It’s still going to give you a continuous color but it’s going to absorb better into the wood and it’ll kind of fade rather than peel. And I think that’s what you’re shooting for.
DOT: OK. Is there a certain type of product to remove the stuff that’s on there now?
TOM: Yeah, there’s a wide variety of paint strippers out there. I would look for one of the citrus-based products and try that. You’re going to – you may have to try a couple of them until you find the one that works best with your particular deck.
DOT: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, did you know that over the last 3 years, the average tax refund was over 2,800 bucks? Well, for DIYers, that means newfound money to take on some projects you might have been putting off.
LESLIE: Yeah. So, to help you make the best use of your hard-earned windfall, we’ve put together a series of projects that will add value to your home and get done without blowing your tax-refund budget.
Today’s Tax Refund Tip is presented by HART Tools, available exclusively at Walmart.
TOM: And today’s project: home office happiness. You know, if we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that you need to be prepared to work from home. So, let’s use that tax refund to create a stylish and functional workspace from home. We’ve got some DIY tips to make that space work for you regardless of the size, including how to organize, equip and soundproof your space.
LESLIE: Well, just like buying a house, the value of your home office comes down to its location. We all know working from home, you’ve got kids, pets, spouses. They’re around all the time. They don’t go anywhere. So, the location of your home office is super important and you’ve got to find a quiet corner because sound travels, you guys.
TOM: Yeah, I’ve heard that.
LESLIE: My goodness, does it ever.
Now, open floor plans, they’re super popular but they don’t really serve this purpose very well. So, you can convert maybe a rarely-used guest room. I’m sure we haven’t had anybody staying at the house this past year, so why not take that guest room and make it the office? The basement, even a closet. These spaces can become your own personal work-from-home happy space.
TOM: And of course, no one would have thought about us talking about this a year ago but we’ve got to be considerate of the Zoom background, right? So you want to avoid sitting with your back to a bright window, so we can see more of you than a shadowy silhouette in that Zoom meeting.
And since we’re focusing on a tax-refund project, remember that home office space is also deductible.
LESLIE: Alright. And that’s today’s Tax Refund Tip presented by HART Tools, available exclusively at Walmart. Do it with HART. Learn more at HARTTools.com, where you’ll also find step-by-step plans for dozens of fun projects.
TOM: Yep, including tips on projects that will be perfect for your newly-reno’d home office, like how to build a laptop stand or a bulletin-board organizer. And there’s also a great video by Leanne Ford on how to hang art, shelving and lighting. Check it all out at HARTTools.com.
LESLIE: Deborah in Pennsylvania needs some help with a log home. Tell us what you’re working on.
DEBORAH: My husband and I are renovating a Lincoln log house.
DEBORAH: I have – there is – in between the logs, there is chinking.
DEBORAH: And in between our chinking, it is filled with stone. And I just – I want to keep the stone there and rechink it because it deteriorated over the years.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.
DEBORAH: I found a recipe online of clay, salt and hydrated lime.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Right.
DEBORAH: We did a couple test spots and when it dried, it cracked. So I don’t know if the recipe is a good recipe or maybe we made it too liquid-y and it cracked. And I do know that in the old houses, they also put straw or horsehair in the clay.
TOM: It’s the same reason they put rebar in concrete: it reinforces it. I don’t know about the recipe with hydrated lime but I know that there’s a recipe that’s similar to that that uses wood ash. Of course, where you’re going to find enough wood ash to do an entire house, I can’t tell you. So, I couldn’t determine if whether – if that is what caused this issue or not. Do you have an aversion to using one of the commercially available, very reliable products for this? Because you can buy chinking.
And by the way, if you’re driving down the road thinking, “What the heck are they talking about?” Chinking – c-h-i-n-k-i-n-g – chinking is – think of it as sort of the caulk between the logs of a log house. When you see logs stocked together and it looks like almost masonry or has been – or mortar has been pressed in between like it would for – be for bricks, that’s called “chinking.” And so, that’s what we’re trying to restore here and it’s unique to log homes.
DEBORAH: Does the horsehair – does that act as a binding to hold the plaster together so it won’t crack?
TOM: I think it would because that’s what a reinforcement material would do. But you know what? I’ve got to say good luck finding ash and horsehair today.
LESLIE: You can buy a horsehair mattress.
TOM: There’s going to be a lot of horses out there that are getting a haircut to chink this house.
DEBORAH: Yeah. I have the horses.
LESLIE: Oh, you have the horses? So that’s good.
DEBORAH: I have the (inaudible).
TOM: You’ve got the horses, so you’ve got the horsehair covered? We wish you a lot of luck with this but I would say that you ought to just experiment with a couple of different versions of this. And you find one that works, go for it because you are in a very unique position there. A very unusual project.
DEBORAH: Yep. OK.
TOM: Alright. Good luck.
LESLIE: She’s got to be different.
TOM: Yep. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John is writing because there’s some crazy plumbing noise going on at their money pit. And here’s what he says: “My house was built in 1976 and whenever the cold water is running, there’s a pulsating in the water pressure and the pipes shake. This just started and I’m wondering what could be causing the problem.”
TOM: I think I know exactly what’s causing that problem.
First of all, whenever you get plumbing noise, you have to remember this: water is really heavy; it weighs 8 pounds per gallon. So if something is off with a plumbing system, it’s going to shake the pipes. It’s going to make the pipes bang. And that pulsating sound is usually caused by a bad faucet washer. Because the water is not able to soar past it and so it gets hung up a little bit. And then that pulsing that he’s hearing actually sort of echoes throughout the entire copper-plumbing system.
Copper plumbing is really good at doing that. It transmits sounds incredibly well. So I would start opening and closing faucets one at a time, John, until I figure out which one is the offending faucet and then fix it.
And if your problem is pipes that actually bang when you turn off the water, that’s another problem called “water hammer.” And there’s a device called a “water-hammer arrestor” that can stop that, which is kind of like a shock absorber for your plumbing system. That one is not a DIY project unless you happen to be a very handy amateur plumber. But it’s a pretty straightforward project for a plumber to install in just an hour or so.
LESLIE: I mean both of these kind of make sense. You know, the house is 50 years old, so things are going to start to loosen up probably this time.
TOM: Yeah, for sure. Yep.
LESLIE: You might be seeing some other weird stuff soon, John, so just keep an eye out.
Alright. Next up, Cindy writes: “My dog loves running the fence line with the other dogs on all three sides of us. She kicks up quite a mess. What’s the safest thing to put around the perimeter of the yard that’s not going to hurt her paws or cause her to slide and get hurt?”
TOM: Well, not cactus plants, that’s for sure.
First of all, I think the dog actually is probably having a very good time doing this. And if the yard, as it sits right now, was actually hurting her paws or irritating them in any way, she wouldn’t be quite so active. She would just slow down and stop on her own.
But things that you could do would be to place pet-friendly plants very close together in areas that you want to designate kind of as off-limits and then train your dog to avoid them. And then leave open areas for the dog to run and play and pretty much accept that that’s what the dog is going to do.
Now, some paved or sandy surfaces may get too hot for your pet to walk on comfortably, so you want to avoid stuff like tiny pebbles, areas with thorns or gravel. They can get caught in the paws, so make sure the pet’s sort of fence line excludes that kind of material. And if any of that exists, especially the pebbles or the gravel, you’ve got to keep the pet away from that in the summer because that could really stress out the pet.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. And it’s so funny, I can just picture that dog with the zoomies (ph), just running around, hanging with its buddies.
I do really like the idea, Cindy, of those sort of – I know at our nursery there’s always a section of walkable plants and there’s a thick moss, things that’ll stay condensed and tight and low to the ground. And maybe his claws won’t kick it up so much when he’s running around. But let him enjoy it.
TOM: Yep. Because for a dog, a fence is made to do just that: give him a space to run against.
LESLIE: Alright, Cindy. I hope your pup has a good time this summer and you get some relief from all that mess.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on a beautiful spring weekend. It’s like that around here. We hope that you’re enjoying some pleasant weather in your part of this big neighborhood we all share. If you’ve got questions about projects you’d like to get done, please reach out to us anytime by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT or posting your questions to MoneyPit.com.
We hope we’ve given you some tips, ideas and advice that help you with projects that are going on right now, in today’s edition. But that’s all the time we have, so the show will continue online.
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.)