Do you need more storage space? Who doesn’t! We’ll explain the many nooks and crannies where storage space hides that you may never have thought of!
Breathing fresh clean air inside your home is more important today than ever. But during these hot “dog days” of summer, you don’t have to throw open windows and let in hot humid air to get it! We’ll share easy ways to make sure the air INSIDE your home is as clean as possible.
Adding a backyard deck is one sure-fire way to increase your home’s living space. But if you’re not careful, there’s easy ways to make costly mistakes. We’ll show you what you’ll need to avoid.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Mike is working on an interesting historic restoration and wants to know how to seal shower walls to prevent rusting.
- Cindy from Ohio wants tips for restoring the color of original cedar siding.
- Mike in Pennsylvania to figure out how to replace big, decorative columns on his porch with something more modern and appealing.
- Patrilla from Louisiana wants to know if she can put flooring over linoleum flooring instead of pulling out the old one.
- John is asking when is the best time to paint in extreme temperatures?
- Suzanne from Ohio is wondering the best way to deal with a shower curtain rod that keeps coming out of her drywall.
- Matt from Ohio wants help solving a mold problem in his bathroom.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with projects you’d like to take on around the house to create your best home ever. We are your coach, we are your fan, we are your supporter, we’re your knowledge base, we’re kind of your support department. If you’ve got questions about projects you’d like to get done or you need some tips or ideas or maybe some inspiration for things to do around your house, we are here to help. But first, you’ve got to help yourself by reaching out and talking to us. The way to do that is by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, we all need as much storage as we can. But if you feel like you’ve exhausted all the storage spaces in your home, there might be places you haven’t thought of. We’re going to talk about the many nooks and crannies around the house that you can use for some hidden storage.
LESLIE: And breathing fresh, clean air inside of your home is more important today than ever. But during these hot dog days of summers, you don’t have to throw open windows and let in hot, humid air to get it. We’re going to share easy ways to make sure the air inside your home is as clean as possible, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
TOM: And adding a backyard deck is great way to increase your home’s living space. But if you’re not careful, there are easy ways to make very expensive mistakes. So we’re going to show you what you need to know to avoid that, coming up.
LESLIE: But most importantly, we’re here for you. We’re here to help you create your best house ever. We can help you plan, help you save money and spare you from those snafus that sometimes happen along the way. So give us a call so we can make sure your project goes as perfect as possible.
TOM: You can reach us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: We’ve got Mike on the line who’s got a question about a ship. What is going on at your money pit? I guess we can still call it that if it’s a boat. What’s going on?
MIKE: It’s definitely a money pit when you get a 1943 World War II Liberty ship made out of steel and it needs constant painting all the time.
TOM: Wow. Are you volunteering as part of the maintenance crew for this vessel?
MIKE: Yeah, I’ve been doing it for 17 years. I’ve never been in the military. I work in the engine department, because this is one of the only ships left in the country that’s still fully functional and goes on a few trips each year. There’s only two of them left out of 2,700. They were built by Henry Kaiser and they delivered all the supplies during World War II.
TOM: What’s the name of the ship, Mike?
MIKE: SS Jeremiah O’Brien.
MIKE: And it’s at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
TOM: Well, fantastic. So you are trying to do a repair to some of the bathrooms here. What’s going on there?
MIKE: Well, everything is always a challenge on the ship. But the floors and the showers used to be just steel, painted. And of course, that didn’t hold up over the years. So we got a company that donated and came in, put some nice, white tile around it and everything. So, if you can picture the little tiles in the floor and then a cove tile around the wall – the 4-inch high tile. It axes (ph) up against the steel. We cleaned the steel up, they painted it, then they put it against there.
However, with the water running down that wall, it’s pretty hard – even though it’s silicone on the top and it’s glued to the steel, you’re going to get that rust that keeps starting up. And if you get enough of that, it’ll start to eventually pop the tile out. So, I’m trying to think maybe I’m looking for a super-good sealer along the top edge of the tile that’ll bond between something to kind of keep the water off, besides basic – you know, 100-percent silicone doesn’t work all the time.
TOM: Right. Was that steel painted? Was it primed and painted before the tile was applied to it? Because it shouldn’t be rusting that readily.
MIKE: Yeah, I believe it was. And if you get one little spot, unfortunately, that’s weak in the area there, then you just start getting a lot of rust.
Incidentally, a quick thing – we had a fire last May and the big warehouse next to us burned down. And they saved the ship by pouring 4 million gallons of water on it. Unfortunately, that was salt water from the fire boats.
TOM: Oh, no. That made the rust a lot worse, yeah.
MIKE: Yeah. Everywhere.
TOM: Your thought here at this point is that if you can seal the seam at the top edge of the tile, you’ll have the opportunity to potentially keep some of the water from getting behind the tile and then rusting. Which, of course, as steel rusts, it expands. And then when it gets bad enough, it pops off, correct?
TOM: So it’s always a challenge to find just the right sealant for these types of applications but the good news is that there have been a lot of advances in all-in-one sealant applications.
And one that I’m thinking of is called Total Tech. It’s made by the Super Glue Company. And what’s interesting about this stuff is it’s 100-percent waterproof and it even cures underwater. So, it’s really designed for wet-location applications which, clearly, you have there. And you can find it pretty readily on – in home centers and hardware stores and I know it’s on Amazon, as well.
And I think that might be something you at least want to experiment with. I think it’s certainly worth the small investment in time and labor to clean it up one more time, make sure it’s properly painted down to that edge and then finally, use a product like Total Tech to seal those edges in. And see what kind of a job that does in trying to keep that protected. I have a feeling that this may work and work very well for you.
MIKE: Alright. Total Tech, huh? I will test that out, yeah. We’ll clean it up as good as we can, then try to apply that and see how it goes. And if you’re ever out in San Francisco, come on and visit us.
TOM: We definitely will. That sounds like a really fun project. And thanks for your service to that ship. I’m sure there are a lot of people that get to enjoy those rides and enjoy visiting that vessel, that appreciate the work that you and your crew do.
MIKE: Oh, they do. People are so appreciative, I tell you. They just can’t believe what we built in 1943. And it’s a big ship: 450 feet long. It’s all steam.
And another note, that’s where they filmed the engine scene for the Titanic – was filmed on our ship.
TOM: How about that?
LESLIE: Oh, interesting.
TOM: Very interesting. Well, definitely worth stopping by. Bye-bye.
Well, if you are a pet lover, we’ve got a fun, new contest live now on MoneyPit.com. It’s called the Post a Picture of Your Pet Photo Contest and it’s pawsented (ph) by LL Flooring.
LESLIE: Yeah. To enter, all you need to do is post a picture of your pet with a short description. And then share your entry and invite your friends to vote. The top 3 vote-getters are going to receive a $1,000 gift card from LL Flooring, as well as a $50 gift card from Chewy.
Now, you can choose from any of LL Flooring’s beautiful styles, including scratch-resistant floors – which are great for the pooch-owners out there – as well as water-resistant laminate, waterproof tile, waterproof vinyl. All great for pet families.
TOM: Enter today at MoneyPit.com/Contest. That’s the Post a Picture of Your Pet Photo Contest at MoneyPit.com/Contest.
LESLIE: Sydney in Ohio is on the line with a question about cedar shingles. How can we help you?
SYDNEY: I live in a raised ranch home and I have cedar-shingle siding on the front of my home. And the shingles themselves are in good shape. They were previously stained and I’m wondering, now that they’re fading, if there is any way I could paint them or do something different to them, other than staining them.
TOM: So, Sydney, the one thing to know about siding like this – cedar siding, in particular – is that once you paint it, you’re kind of committing to paint for the rest of the life of the siding on your house. If you continue with the stain, as you’ve noticed, the stain will fade, it’ll change color but it doesn’t ever get to the point where you have cracked strips of stain that would have to be pulled off. With paint, that’s what happens: it ends up cracking and separating from the cedar below and you’ll have to scrape it all out to do another coat or at least rough up what’s there. So I’m a big fan of stain on siding.
Now that said, you have a lot of choices in stain. It doesn’t have to be dark. You want to brighten it up? Not a problem. You want to turn it into a red cedar? You can do that. You want it to be gray? You could do that. I would recommend that you use a good-quality, solid-color exterior stain.
And the other thing about cedar siding is that sometimes, it’s helpful if you prime it first with an anti-tannin primer. There are certain types of primers that work well with cedar. And by doing that, you stop some of the oils from leaking through and impacting the quality of the stain.
We’ve taken care of the cedar siding on our house doing just that for many, many years and I’ve had my siding last years and years and years, way longer than it should’ve between coats of stains, because we did it right the first time out. So, I’d recommend you skip the painting step and go right with the stain. Use a solid-color stain. Prime it first and that’s going to last as long as it possibly can.
LESLIE: Well, we all need as much storage as we can get in our homes or they begin to look very cluttered. But if you’re feeling like you’ve exhausted all of the storage spaces in your home, there might be places you hadn’t even thought of.
TOM: Yeah, definitely. By virtue of the way a home is built, there ends up being a lot of sort of nooks and crannies that you can use for storage. And many of those are hiding pretty much in plain sight.
So, for example, in my case, the space around a staircase was a great place to pick up some storage. In fact, I am actually recording this show from a home studio space that I carved out of what used to be a closet under a staircase in my home. So, as I look up, I see the underside of the stairs. The sloped stair is above me. And then towards the bottom, we actually carved out some spots for some hidden storage, right along sort of that bottom 3 foot of the staircase in sort of a triangle. And that ended up being a perfect place for office supplies.
So a lot of times, these spaces exist. You just have to understand that they’re there and all the different ways that you can use them.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you’re involved in the staircase, can we call you Harry Potter? Or is that just not allowed?
TOM: I don’t think so but OK.
LESLIE: Dag. Alright, fine.
You know, attics, guys. Those really are another top spot for storage that’s almost never fully taken advantage of, usually because it doesn’t have a floor. But adding one is pretty easy. In fact, we’ve got a step-by-step post on MoneyPit.com that walks you through the entire project.
Now, another secret spot are those alcoves in the corners around the house. You’ve got to get creative with the empty spaces that you find throughout the home. And an alcove almost anywhere can become a sleek workstation or even a project zone with a few simple storage additions.
TOM: Yeah. And now let’s talk about those bathrooms. That space above the toilet is rarely used. It’s actually a good choice for storage if you want to add a storage cabinet there instead of bathroom shelves. That’s a good space for that.
And the other place is up closer to the ceiling, which is perfect for a long hotel-styled towel rack. If you set that about 18 inches off the ceiling, you can roll up some towels, stack them up there and never run out or at least have a little bit of a cushion. Because in my family of five, we are always running out of towels in the bathroom. But when I put that towel rack together and put it up there, it was great because we always had space for lots of towels.
And then, finally, laundry rooms. Now, most people don’t know this but almost all full-size washers today are stackable. Think about it. Washers and dryers, they take up a huge footprint but they don’t have to. If you have front-loading machines, you can stack the dryer on top of the washer. Now, most manufacturers sell what is called a “stacking kit,” which is nothing more than really just a couple of brackets that hold machines together. But you can save a boatload of space that way.
We did that when we moved our laundry from the first floor to the second floor. I stacked them and we were so happy because we picked up a lot of space. Actually was able to add some cabinetry and sort of a folding space in terms of a countertop by using that space.
So, if you look around your house, if you think about those nooks, those crannies, those alcoves, those attics, the bathroom spaces, the laundry-room spaces you’re not using, they’re all around. All you’ve got to do is pick one, build it out and you’ll find yourself some sweet, new storage.
LESLIE: Mike in Pennsylvania is on the line and needs some help figuring out how to change some columns that are pretty much the entire front of the house. What’s going on?
MIKE: We bought a split-level house that has a nice porch that is halfway in between and very, very tall columns holding up the roof. We would like to modify, somehow, to make the front look a little bit different. But we can’t find anything to replace the columns. They’re kind of a scalloped, white, chalky column that is in need of repair.
TOM: So, Mike, I hear you on your desire to change those columns because maybe you guys feel that they are dated. And certainly, that style is not common today. But I’ve got to tell you, those are an important structural member of that roof structure and they’re supporting that piece of the roof. So, this is not something that’s very simple to replace.
There are columns out there that are designed as wraparounds where you may have a plain structural beam underneath it and then you surround them. And I know you can find those with flat sides instead of the scalloped, round ones you have now.
But I think that this is going to be a real challenge if you have a real strong desire to replace this. You’re really going to have to go to an architect and almost redesign the front of that house.
Right, Leslie? Because even if he takes it out, it’s not going to look nearly as cohesive a design as what he started with.
LESLIE: Oh, for sure no. I mean these are a specific type of architecture. They do perform a purpose of keeping the house structurally integral there, keeping things together. I don’t know of any wrap that goes with something that substantial in size, just to sort of change the look. It’s definitely a specific architectural look that you look for when purchasing a house. I don’t really know of a way to change it without a full sort of redesign and an engineering perspective of how to do something that stylistically changes it but keeps it all together.
TOM: I think your only option here is to go to an architect and maybe just talk with him about doing some initial designs, maybe just sketches. Not even blueprints but sketches with ideas on how he might be able to change the look of this house to get it closer to what you guys would like to see.
So, Mike, sorry we don’t have better advice for you on that. No simple solutions here. But we certainly want to make sure that you do this right and don’t negatively impact the value of your home by taking something away that’s pretty important in terms of holding up that roof.
LESLIE: Patrilla (sp) in Louisiana is working on a kitchen flooring project. What’s going on?
PATRILLA (sp): I have sheet linoleum in my kitchen. And I want to know if I can put the square-tile linoleum down over that or any other kind of flooring over it without having to take up the linoleum?
TOM: You know, I think the good thing about flooring that’s available today, Leslie, is that you can put a lot of these products on top of those old sheet, vinyl or linoleum floors, right? She’s got a lot of options here.
LESLIE: You really do have so many options when it comes to kitchen flooring, especially flooring that’s floating and can go on top of an existing level floor. You have engineered vinyl plank, which is also known as EVP. It installs beautifully. It can look like a variety of woods and wood tones and wood finishes and planks. There’s so many different ways to achieve adorable, easy-to-install floor that’s not going to break the bank. Definitely worth checking out LL Flooring. So many options there.
TOM: Also laminate flooring, right? Because laminate flooring is all sort of tongue-and-groove lock-together. And again, you snap it all together. It can lay down right on top of that old sheet flooring that you have now. You leave a little bit of gap between it and say, the baseboard molding. And you put some quarter round or some shoe molding to cover that gap. And it’s super durable and it’s absolutely beautiful.
So, the one product I would not put down on top of the old one is another type of sheet flooring. So I would not put vinyl – new vinyl flooring, rollout vinyl flooring – on top of that old linoleum because you’ll see all of the lumps and imperfections in your old floor. I would definitely look for a product that is – that will go on top of that and that has some resilience to it, like EVP or laminate.
Hey, here’s a quick tip for saving energy: you can swap out your front-door light fixture with one that is more efficient. And it turns out, if you do that with an ENERGY STAR-certified fixture, you’ll use 70- to 90-percent less energy.
Plus, these fixtures today are so widely available and absolutely gorgeous. I think it’s something that we don’t think of: changing out a light fixture when we’re just really relying on that light but maybe we don’t really care so much about what the fixture looks like. But man, if you were to do this, you could really save some serious money.
In fact, according to ENERGY STAR, if you replace your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or the ones that have bulbs in them with ENERGY STAR fixtures, you’ll save about 40 bucks a year on energy costs alone. Plus, your front door will look that much better.
LESLIE: John in Virginia, you have got The Money Pit. I get you’re looking for some help figuring out when is the best time to tackle an outdoor painting project. So how can we help you?
JOHN: I have a question about sealing my deck on the back of my house. I had a painting contractor tell me that during this hot weather, that it’s not a good time to do it because it doesn’t allow the sealer to cure properly. It dries too quick. So, I’d like to find out more about that.
TOM: Well, that painter is definitely a pro and he’s absolutely right. You cannot do any type of painting work when the weather is too hot, because paint or stain relies on sort of a flow rate in order to soak into what you are painting or staining and in order to sort of even out and give you a nice coat. So, if it’s really, really hot and it’s evaporating as soon as you put it on, that’s not going to happen.
So, yeah, I would wait until it’s a little cooler. And that doesn’t mean you can’t do it in the summer. Many times, you can do a project like this very early in the morning, before it gets too hot, or you can push it off to a slightly less intensely-hot time of the year. But you definitely need to follow the directions on the product you’re using and they’ll tell you what the working temperature is. And as long as you’re within that working temperature, you’re good to go.
LESLIE: Well, the EPA has named indoor-air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health and tells us that indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside. But if you’re thinking, “They can’t be talking about my house,” well, they can, especially if you don’t have the right kind of filter in your air-conditioning system. We’re going to sort out the options in today’s Smart Spending Tip, presented by Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: So, to start, you need to understand that there are four types of air filters. These are the most common. Flat filters, which are the basic ones, they’re made from fiberglass. They typically need to be changed on at least a monthly basis. And while they’re going to catch your dust, they don’t really even touch the contaminants that can make you miserable, like allergens.
Next, we have what’s called an “extended media filter.” These use a particle filter and a small, electrostatic charge to clean the air. And they do a much better job than the flat filters but not as a good a job as the next level, which are electronic filters. Now, these are absolutely the best, in my view. They use a high electrical charge. They capture particles like a magnet. They’re extremely effective. They can even capture virus-size particles. They perform about 30 times better than those flat filters.
And lastly, let’s talk about UV filters – ultraviolet filters. They’re really effective at capturing particles and bacteria and viruses. And they’re the kinds of filters that you may find in a medical facility or a hospital to help prevent diseases from being passed through the air.
LESLIE: Now, when it comes to installation, installing electronic or ultraviolet filters are jobs that are best left to a pro, because they need to be built into the existing HVAC system on the return side of that system. This way, air is continually cleaned as it passes through the filter.
And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip, presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: Apply for yours at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: Suzanne in Ohio is on the line with a bathroom question. What’s going on?
SUZANNE: We’ve installed a bowed shower curtain rod in our bathroom. The walls are drywall. It keeps pulling out of the walls. My husband – he moved it and put in supports where the screws go into the wall but it’s done it anyway. It sags in the middle and it doesn’t want to stay steady on the wall. It wants to pull out of the drywall.
LESLIE: Suzanne, you know, it sounds like your curtain rod sort of is just into the drywall. So, of course it’s going to start backing out because those bowed curtain rods, they’re heavy, they’re awkward. When you’re sliding the shower curtain around on it, it kind of distributes that weight very oddly.
So I think your best bet here is to figure out a better way to attach it to the drywall if that truly is the only place you can go. I mean maybe you can move slightly and you’d find a stud but I imagine you’ve tried that.
So, possibly a toggle bolt: something where you have something that goes into the wall and then opens up like a true toggle and then tightens itself to the wall as you put in the screw. That’s really kind of the best way to describe a toggle bolt and that’s going to do the trick for you for sure.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. The drywall, by itself, is just not strong enough for the kind of force you’re putting on it. A toggle bolt probably will work if you install it properly. And as Leslie said, it basically is a long bolt where the – think of it as sort of – the nut on the end is like a winged nut and you fold it, stick it through the wall and opens up. And now it pulls the wall against the shower curtain rod plate and makes it more sturdy.
So, I would give that a shot and see if you can make that work. Your first choice is a stud but if you can’t find one, a toggle bolt would be a good second thing to try.
LESLIE: Adding a backyard deck is one surefire way that you can increase your home’s living space, But if you’re not careful, there are easy ways that you can make some costly mistakes. So here’s what you’re going to need to avoid.
First of all, you need to think about traffic flow and convenience. Now, most people like their decks to be just off the kitchen. Well, those are for obvious reasons. Now, if you’re going to build a wraparound deck, you should try and have the door to the deck just off of the kitchen, which is going to make summer barbecuing and even wintertime grilling a breeze.
Also, you want to make sure that you include room for a dining area with chairs and that it’s not in between you and a pathway from the kitchen to the grill. You want to make sure it’s like the working triangle for outside: door, table, grill. Little bit different parts there but it’s the same sort of concept. And you also want to think about not forgetting things like built-in benches, planters, even lighting. All of this can make your deck more accommodating and definitely more comfortable and user-friendly.
TOM: Next, let’s talk about materials. Now, if you build this as a wooden deck, keep in mind that, of course, it’s the least-expensive option. Use pressure-treated wood. But it does require upkeep in the form of stain and sealants to keep out the weather. Even though it’s pressure-treated, it won’t rot but it will still crack and check and be a little rough on the bare feet. So, you need to make sure it’s stained properly.
Now, if you want wood and you can afford it and you want a really beautiful wood, you can think about cedar. Always a good choice because it’s naturally weather- and insect-resistant. But again, it needs to be stained occasionally because if you leave it alone, it may mellow to sort of a gray color. But if you want that UV protection, you’ve got to add the stain and seal on top of that.
Next, let’s talk about composite decking. Generally, it requires very little or no upkeep but it’s more expensive than most wood decking. And if you’re not likely to recoup that cost, in terms of value add from a sales point of view – but if you’re planning on staying in your home for a while, it’s a good option. It eliminates the worry of splinters on bare feet and becoming a slave to deck maintenance. It does need to be cleaned because even though it’s composite, it has wood fibers in it. It can occasionally develop algae, especially in shady areas. But really, that’s pretty much it.
Hey, if you want more tips on how to plan an amazing deck, search that at MoneyPit.com: “How to Plan an Amazing Deck,” one of our most popular posts. It’s live on MoneyPit.com. We’ll walk you through the entire process so you can get even more out of your outdoor spaces.
LESLIE: Matt in Ohio is dealing with some multiple issues going on related to caulk. What is happening?
MATT: We had our house filled about 6 years ago. The stand-up shower in the master bath is molding around the bottom. I have cleaned the mold off, I’ve scraped it all off, I’ve recaulked it and the mold keeps coming back. I had a guy come out. He told me to get this kind of caulk. Paid him to – and helped him – to clean all the caulk off, recaulked it. And now it’s back again. Not sure what to do about it.
Also, I have a swelling wall on the outside wall across from that stand-up shower and the caulking keeps cracking as the wall separates from the bathtub and the countertop. The vanity is connected to the outside wall.
TOM: Wow. Matt, you’ve got a lot going on there, man.
So, first of all, if you’ve had this repetitive problem with mold over and over again in the bathroom, I suspect that the solution – if not the entire solution but a good part of it – is to take a look at your bathroom ventilation. Because we find that bathrooms that are not properly ventilated – they’re not well ventilated – those damp, wet conditions persist after shower-taking and lead to an enormous amount of mold growth.
So, we want to make sure that you have a good bath fan that is running in that space. And we recommend that it be tied to a humidistat, which is a moisture-sensing switch so that whenever the humidity is high in the bathroom, the fan will run and pull it out until it’s dry. And in doing so, you will find a lot less mold growth.
In terms of selecting a product, there are different caulks that are out there, obviously, designed for kitchens and baths that have mildicides in them. One additive that has been successful in my applications over the years is Microban. So if you see a caulk that has a Microban additive – and I believe that DAP products do – I’ve found that to be very effective.
And in terms of the caulk between the vanity in the bathroom and the wall – so, typically, that could be a big gap. And it’s not designed – the caulk’s not designed to take up those big gaps. So what you want to do is you want to get some foam bead, which is sort of like a – it’s called a “backer rod” and it comes in different diameters. And basically, it’s like a long foam tube that you shove down between the top and the wall. You put it so it’s about a ½-inch or a ¼-inch below the vanity backsplash and then you caulk on top of that, between the vanity and the wall. And then that will support the bottom of that caulk and it will be much less likely to crack and pull away.
So, those are the steps that I would follow. But again, get that bath vented properly. I think you’ll be amazed at how fewer cases of mold growth you have as a result.
LESLIE: Sherri reached out with a question about something that just happens to keep on coming back.
Now, Sherri says, “I keep fixing a wall crack. It keeps forming in the top corner of one of the archways in our home. I fix it with spackle but it keeps coming back every year. What am I doing wrong?”
TOM: That’s how you know when winter’s arriving, when fall’s arriving. Turn the heating system on, everything shrinks and the cracks open up.
Well, listen, this is very common and what you’re doing wrong is just trying to fix it with spackle, because you’re filling it when it’s wide open, right? But then as the wall expands again, the crack basically reforms and I’m sure some of that spackle will fall out because it’s very thin.
What you want to do is this. There is a product that’s called KRACK KOTE that’s really effective. It’s made by a company called Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n. And the way it works is you use what is sort of like a primer first. You paint both sides of that crack with this base primer. Then you put a tape over it that comes in this kit, which is sort of like a mesh tape. And then on top of that, you put more of this sealant primer stuff, you leave it alone and then you spackle over it. And basically, it’s sort of gluing, so to speak, both sides of the crack together and it will resist further cracking once you do this right.
The reason it cracks over the door, by the way, or the archway is because that’s where your house has a lot of movement. Those are sort of the weak places in the wall. So when you get cracks over doors and windows and archways, pretty typical. Doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got a major problem. But this is the way you fix that crack once and make sure it doesn’t come back, by using a product like KRACK KOTE. It works really well and it’s not very expensive, either.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one here from Lisa who says, “We’re trying to take care of our parents’ home which is vacant. With no one living there, we turn the heat and the A/C off. When we came back about a month later, we found green mold growing on the walls. What could’ve caused this?”
TOM: Ah, the green mold men came and showed up, I see.
LESLIE: Yes. They love to spread the mold around. That’s just their favorite.
TOM: I think people make this mistake a lot, Leslie. When they think – when a house is vacant, they figure, “Well, why do we need to pay for heat? Why do we need to pay for air conditioning? Nobody’s going to be there.” But the problem is that all the moisture and the humidity is going to be there. I mean think about a forest that’s got moss on the north side. You’re always going to get that kind of moisture in the inside of your house if you don’t have any air conditioning or heating system running.
So, if you leave a house like that, sure, you should empty the pipes and turn off the water and all that sort of stuff. But you should have, at a minimum, the heat running if it’s the wintertime at about 60, 65 degrees. And in the summer, I would have the air conditioning set. Now, you’re not going to have it set at 70 but you might have it set at 78 or 80 so that you keep the moisture under control, because that moisture is what’s causing this problem. You’ve got moisture, you’ve got plenty of food for mold, in the way of the drywall that it’s growing on, and you’ve got lots of air. And that combination is just going to fester and you’re going to get mold really, really quickly, as you’ve discovered.
So, you’re going to have to have that mold surface treated to get rid of it. But from this point forward, make sure you turn back the heat and the A/C – turn it back on.
LESLIE: Yeah, you’ve got to keep it on. You’ve got to keep things conditioned. You don’t want to end up with frozen pipes. You don’t want to end up with more mold. All good things to say we’ve now had a learning experience?
TOM: That’s right. It’s a training moment. A teaching moment.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show coming to you on a beautiful, warm summer day. Here we are in the dog days of summer, enjoying those final beautiful weeks before fall arrives. If you’ve got projects that you are planning to take on maybe as the fall weather comes up, why don’t you make it a point to reach out to us? We would love to chat with you about what you’re doing and give you some tips to help you get it done once, get it done right so you can get to enjoying it as soon as possible.
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.
(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.)