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: What are you working on this holiday weekend? It must be a holiday weekend, because we are so close to the end of the year now. All the weekends are excuses to just hang out and do nothing.
LESLIE: And have a party and decorate something and do all the fun stuff.
LESLIE: I don’t sit around and do nothing.
TOM: If you want to just decorate, yeah. And if you’ve got questions about your decorations – maybe the lights aren’t working; I don’t know – give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or maybe you’re thinking about – I am thinking about projects for next year. It may be just something you want to put on that list and maybe you don’t know how to start it. Maybe you don’t know if you can do it yourself. Well, all great things to talk about. That number to reach us is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, speaking of the holidays, did you know – fun fact here – Christmas Day is the second most popular day of the year for a plumbing emergency?
LESLIE: Oh, I believe it.
TOM: So, if you’re cooking up for a crowd this holiday season, the last thing you need is a jammed garbage disposer. We are going to give you step-by-step troubleshooting tips to help get it running again without – I mean without – paying double time-and-a-half for a plumber.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, heating systems, space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces, those are all in use a lot right now. So now tends to be the season where home fires reach a peak. We’re going to share some details on an innovative, new detector that can protect you from both carbon monoxide and smoke.
TOM: Plus, it’s the ho-ho-home improvement and décor season. And that means that many of you are shopping for holiday trees to make your home look cheery and bright and smell so fresh. We’re going to have tips on how to pick the perfect tree and one, especially, that can stay fresh for the entire season.
LESLIE: And now that it’s cold, are you thinking ahead to when that warm weather will eventually return? We’ve got a great product from QUIKRETE to give away this hour that can help. It’s a set of their very popular Walkmaker Forms. It’s the easy way to build a beautiful cobblestone walkway.
TOM: So, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Dina in Iowa is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?
DINA: I have this brown paneling and it goes all the way from the floor to the ceiling in every room. And I wondered if I can paint over this or wallpaper or what is your suggestion?
TOM: Wow. That’s a – what’s that, 1970s?
DINA: Yeah. Yep.
TOM: Yeah. You know, I kind of remember that growing up. We had those – that era in my house. And it’s always better to remove it but you can paint it.
What you want to do, Dina, is you want to prime it. So, the first thing you would do is you would clean it. You would lightly sand it. And because there’s so much of it, I would – when I go the paint store, I would get a sanding extension. It’s on a pole. It’s like a pole with an indexing head at the bottom – at the end of it, I should say. And you can run this pole over the surface and sand it, rough it up a little bit.
And then you’re going to want to prime it. And I would use a good-quality, oil-based primer. It’ll go on nice and thick. It’ll give you a good, solid surface on which to add the wall paint. And then you can use latex wall paint on top of that. And I think it’ll come out nice and it’ll go on easy if you do those steps in that order. Because once you prime it, you get a very nice, even surface. It fills in any of the imperfections in the surface and it will make sure that that topcoat can be accepted properly.
DINA: What about those grooves?
TOM: You’re always going to have those grooves. You can’t do anything about it unless you want to take the paneling down which, by the way, could be an option. Because sometimes, when they put the paneling up, they just nailed it with these types of small, very thin ring nails. You could experiment with the possibility of taking that paneling off the walls. And you may find that underneath it is drywall.
Now, generally, you have to do a lot of spackling, sometimes retaping and that kind of thing. But it is possible that underneath that paneling are some decent, typical drywall-covered walls.
DINA: OK. It sounds like a Saturday job.
TOM: Yeah. Well, at least, if you’ve got that much paneling. It might be a couple of Saturdays’ jobs. A lot of Saturdays.
TOM: Alright, Dina. Good luck with that project. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Eddie in Delaware on the line who is dealing with a moisture situation going on. Tell us about it.
EDDIE: I’m having a moisture problem with two out of the three bathrooms. It’s a three-bathroom home. And each bathroom has an in-line exhaust fan. And this occurred last season – last winter season – and we got a really severe winter and we’re getting a lot of condensation.
I have dampers in two of the bathrooms, at the ceiling. And last season – the last winter season – I installed an additional damper after the exhaust fan – after the in-line fan in the ceiling – and I was still getting a lot of moisture, actually, at the ceiling where the sheetrock was actually falling apart. That’s how much moisture we got.
TOM: OK. First of all, right above this space, is there an attic? What’s above it?
EDDIE: Yeah. It’s an attic, yeah.
TOM: Alright. And how much insulation do you have in that attic?
EDDIE: The home is only eight years old.
TOM: So, first of all, bathrooms are sources of warm, moist air. If the temperature of the drywall is chilly, it’s going to condense and cause condensation. So you want to make sure that the attic above it, that you’ve got at least 15 to 20 inches of insulation in there. That’s really important.
EDDIE: Oh, there is. There definitely is. And what I also did was – when I started having this problem, I replaced the flexible ductwork, which was originally R6, to the maximum of R8. And I’m still getting the problem. And these two bathrooms that I’m having the problem, they are not used for showers or bathing of any sort.
TOM: The second thing I want to suggest to you is – you mentioned that you have exhaust fans in two of the three?
EDDIE: No, no. All three have their own individual, in-line exhaust fans, yes.
TOM: OK. So in-line – in other words, it’s ducted out somewhere? They’re all connected together and ducted out at once, at one point?
EDDIE: No, no. They’re not connected together; they’re all different.
TOM: They all vent on their own out the building?
TOM: And you can confirm that the vents are working? So if you turn the fan on and you go outside, you’ll see the flapper?
TOM: So, hooking them up to a humidistat/timer might not be a bad idea. Because this way, when the humidity gets high in the room it’ll automatically come on. Leviton makes such a switch, designed specifically for bath fans. And I think that might be the next step. I think we need to move more air through these rooms.
The second thing is, what’s underneath these bathrooms? Are these on the second floor or first floor? Are they over a slab?
EDDIE: It’s a ranch home.
TOM: And what’s underneath?
EDDIE: A crawlspace.
TOM: Crawlspace? OK. Does the crawlspace have a high humidity problem?
TOM: I would recommend that you replace that existing fan switch with a humidistatically-controlled fan switch.
EDDIE: Yeah, OK. I’ll try.
TOM: Eddie, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s the holidays. You are busy. We are here to help. So let us know what we can do to help at least get your money pit in tip-top shape and ready for the holiday season. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up, if you’re cooking for a crowd this holiday, the last thing that you need is a jammed garbage disposer. We’re going to give you some step-by-step troubleshooting tips to help you get it running again, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: The Money Pit is presented by HomeAdvisor.com. You’ll never have to worry about overpaying for a job. Just use their True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. Then get matched with top-rated pros, read reviews, get quotes and book appointments, all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: And remember, you’ve always got these two experts standing by at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call for your chance to win a great prize. And I say it’s a great prize because it’s definitely going to get your mind on the warmer weather that’s ahead. Or if you happen to live in a not-so-chilly state, it’s a prize you can use right now.
We’ve got up for grabs the QUIKRETE Walkmaker Form. And it’s really a great DIY way that you can make a beautiful, durable concrete walkway or patio. It’s a form that you pour the mixed QUIKRETE Crack-Resistant Concrete into and you can make it in so many different patterns: country stone, basket weave, a brick, European-style. Totally up to you. Totally DIY. Make as many as you need for a patio or a walkway. But you can get that form by giving us a call and us drawing your name out of The Money Pit hard hat.
Check it all out at QUIKRETE.com but give us a call for your chance to win.
LESLIE: Thomas in Tennessee is on the line with a wallpaper question. How can we help you today?
THOMAS: I have two layers of wallpaper in a small half-bath that I’m trying to take off. And I was wondering what you guys’ best solution is. One is a lighter wallpaper, like you would find in the rest of the house. But the other one is a very thick, waterproof-type that’s mostly used in bathrooms.
TOM: Yeah. Well, removal is pretty much the same regardless of that type. Essentially, what you have to do is you’ve got to run a tool across the paper called a “paper tiger.” And it’s a tool that puts small, prickly-sized holes in the paper. And then once you have those holes in there, you’re going to apply a water – a wallpaper-paste remover to it which will soak into the paper, get behind it and start to loosen it up.
Now, it’s a lot of work but considering it’s just a bathroom, perhaps it won’t be that difficult for you. If you really, really, really have a hard time getting that paper off, you could always rent a wallpaper steamer and that will make the job a little bit easier.
THOMAS: Oh, OK. Well, do you have any home remedies for this where you don’t have to buy a whole lot of tools? Because I’m kind of on a budget.
TOM: Well, the paper tiger is not very expensive. It’s a little hand tool. It’s probably $7 or $8, something like that. So that plus a few dollars for the wallpaper-paste remover is – that’s really all you’re going to need.
THOMAS: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: Alright, Thomas. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in New York is on the line with a fungus issue. What’s going on at your money pit?
JOHN: Well, the thing is I heard about your substance – whatever treatment it was. It was called Spray & Forget. And I wondered if there was such a preparation for internal use in a house, like basement walls.
TOM: OK. So what are you seeing in your basement walls?
JOHN: Well, I think I do have some dampness in the basement and possible fungus and I thought …
TOM: And so you would like to make that go away. And when you look at these walls, does it look kind of like white and gray and crusty?
JOHN: Yeah, in some areas. And it’s just a few places.
TOM: OK. So the white, gray, crusty stuff is not a fungus. It’s not mold. It’s not mildew. It’s mineral-salt deposits. What happens when a basement gets damp, the water evaporates from the – or goes from the groundwater and gets drawn into the basement walls and then evaporates out. And it leaves its mineral-salt deposits behind. And I’ll tell you an easy way to prove that that’s exactly what’s going on here is grab some white vinegar, put a bit in a spray bottle and spray it on that gray substance. You’re going to see the salt melt away when it strikes the vinegar. And you’ll know for sure that’s exactly what it is.
The only time you’re going to want to use a mildicide, like a bleach-and-water solution in a scenario like that, is when you truly do have mold or a fungus. And that’s almost never – it almost never grows on a block wall. It always grows on something that’s more organic, like a drywall or wood, paper. The block wall, I mean it’s possible you can get mold on it because sometimes you get dust that sticks to it and the dust feeds the mold. But usually, it’s mineral-salt deposits that’s indicative of just a damp basement.
What I would also tell you to do is, after you get that cleaned up, is to look outside your house and make sure that your gutters are clean and free-flowing and those downspouts are well away from the house. I’m talking like 4 to 6 feet because that will stop a lot of that water from collecting at that foundation perimeter and pulling up into those walls. Does that make sense?
JOHN: Yes, yes. I appreciate your time, man.
TOM: You’re very welcome, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, one of the hardest-working appliances in your house, at the busiest cooking season of the year, has got to be your garbage disposer. And nothing puts the brake on kitchen cleanup like a jammed disposer. Clearing it out, it’s not that hard but you’ve got to know what to do.
Now, typically, bits of food like poultry skin, celery, pumpkin pulp, fruit or potato peels or even, once in a while, a stray utensil – not blaming anybody but I know those things happen – those kinds of things can really jam a disposer.
Now, once you’ve turned it off and fished out that foreign object, your disposer still might not come on. Now, if this happens, there’s a simple solution: you want to look for a reset button. Now, that’s going to be located on the bottom of the unit itself. Just push that reset button back in and you’re going to avoid an expensive visit by a plumber.
TOM: Now, if you’ve tried that and it still doesn’t seem to be working right, there may be something that’s stopping the blades from running. In that case, look for the small socket on the bottom of the unit. You have to kind of get into the kitchen cabinet and sort of look up from the bottom of the unit. And it helps to have a really bright light when you do this. But you’re going to see a socket that’s designed for an Allen wrench. And it usually comes with the disposer and if it didn’t, then you could usually just use a standard-size one.
Now, this is how it works. With the power off – and you must make sure the power is off – you can go ahead and insert that key and then wiggle it back and forth. That will move the blades manually and free up anything that’s stuck there. Once you do that, you can once again reset that little circuit-breaker switch on the bottom of the unit and you should be good to go.
And we are good to go to take your home improvement questions, especially if you’re trying to get something last-minute done here for the holidays. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Roger in Alaska is on the line with an insulation question. What can we do for you?
ROGER: Yeah. My wife and I, we’re living the dream up here in Alaska. We bought an old bed-and-breakfast on the hillside. And we did a great energy audit on the main house. The problem is the master bedroom is like an add-on over the garage. And it wasn’t – we couldn’t access the attic when we insulated the attic of the main part of the house.
ROGER: And so now, the master bedroom is the coldest room in the house.
TOM: Yeah, I bet.
ROGER: And one thing I’m thinking about doing is – it’s got a high ceiling and I’d like to foam-board the ceiling and then put a – instead of that sheetrock, cover the sheetrock with foam board and then do a wood covering? And I’m wondering, do I need to be concerned about the vapor barrier? And two is should I cut a hole in that ceiling and stick my head in there and see what it’s got in there before – you know, as long as I’m going to cover it anyway?
TOM: So, this high ceiling, is it a high, flat ceiling or is it a cathedral ceiling?
TOM: So it’s probably attached to the bottom of the rafters then, correct?
ROGER: I think it is.
TOM: So that means you really don’t have very much insulation at all. So that’s always going to be a challenge for you.
So are you thinking of lowering the ceiling so that you have an area that you could insulate?
ROGER: No, nope. Not lowering it so much. Just adding the foam board to the surface, like the pink board or the blue board or something. And then, if I’m going to do that and I’m going to disrupt the sheetrock anyway, I’m considering cutting open the peak. And if I can blow foam insulation in there – not foam insulation; cellulose or something – if I can reinsulate that space or add insulation to it.
TOM: You certainly can take a look in there but I suspect you’re not going to find any space for that. Putting the foam insulation on the bottom of the drywall is not a bad idea. I mean you could basically create a layer that way. I don’t think you need any additional vapor barrier, though. You can probably attach it to the bottom of the drywall right now. Because the foam is a pretty good vapor barrier, frankly, by itself.
ROGER: Mm-hmm. And then the only other thing I considered doing is – that bedroom is the furthest from the furnace. Can you put a booster – a fan on your duct or something like that?
TOM: You can. But what you might want to do is just put a small electric-resistance heater in there as a supplement so on those coldest nights, you can just add a bit of heat to that room.
ROGER: Yeah, the problem is even in the middle of the day, with a – that room has southern-facing windows and it’s upstairs. Heat rises. In the middle of the day, that room – I’m just concerned – I guess I really need somebody to take a good look at it with the infrared guns or something to see where we’re losing heat at.
TOM: I think that’s probably a good idea. I’m also thinking that your floor may be not insulated well enough. Because being above the garage, you’re getting some temperature transference through there, as well.
ROGER: I think you’ve probably got a point there. Maybe I could bump up the temperature in the garage a little bit. I keep it pretty cold in there.
TOM: Or insulate the garage ceiling.
TOM: That’s one thing to check. If that garage ceiling is not insulated, that could be the biggest source of your problem right there.
ROGER: So how would you – when you say insulate the garage ceiling …
TOM: Is the garage ceiling open? Do you see the floor joists?
ROGER: No, it’s sealed with, I believe, plywood.
TOM: Well, take a peek above that and see if there’s insulation in there.
ROGER: Alright. Well, sounds good. Sounds like a plan.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online, all for free.
Just ahead, with heating systems, space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces all in use almost nonstop this time of year, now is the season where home fires reach a peak. We’re going to share details on an innovative, new detector that can protect you from both carbon monoxide and smoke, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Happy Ho-Ho-Home Improving, everybody. As we get close to the end of the year, if you’ve got some projects you’d like to get done, we’d love to help. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carolyn from Ohio is on the line and has a noisy neighbor. Her siding is being noisy. What’s going on?
CAROLYN: The siding is just noisy. The second floor. You can hear it when you walk through the bedrooms. You can hear the siding.
TOM: It’s vinyl siding?
CAROLYN: It is.
TOM: So, vinyl siding is not supposed to be nailed securely to a home; it’s supposed to be nailed loosely. That’s why, if you look at a piece of vinyl siding, it doesn’t have holes in it; it has slots. And it has to be nailed loosely because the siding is designed to expand and contract when it’s exposed to the sunshine. It has a pretty high expansion-and-contraction rate, as a matter of fact.
I haven’t really heard anyone complaining about noise from it but I do think it would make sense that if you were in a windy area, perhaps you might hear some of that. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good solution for you because you cannot tighten it up. If you do, you’re going to start getting buckled areas. And if you start driving around neighborhoods that have vinyl siding in the summer, have you ever seen a house that’s just got all this sort of wavy siding on it? That’s what happened: it went on too tight and it buckled.
So, if it’s moving, it’s put on correctly. One way to check is to take a piece and just put your hand on it and just try to slide it back and forth. The boards actually should slide if they’re installed properly.
CAROLYN: OK. I’ve had people out to look at it, to fix it. And they say that that – it’s OK. Because I always worry that it’s flying – it’s going to fly off the house or something.
TOM: Yeah. No, don’t worry about that because, like I said, it’s supposed to be loose.
CAROLYN: OK, OK. Thank you.
TOM: Well, with heating season in full swing, now is the time home fires peak, which also makes it the right time to tell you about an innovative, new detector that can protect you from both carbon monoxide and smoke. It’s from First Alert and it’s a combination smoke-and-carbon-monoxide alarm with voice and location alerts. And it comes with a 10-year battery. That’s pretty cool.
LESLIE: I mean it really is. It definitely takes the task of forgetting to change the battery off of your list so you can really just focus on the safety.
Now, with the voice and the location alert, the alarm itself is going to tell you and your family where the threat of smoke or carbon monoxide is, specifically by telling you the location of this hazard within your house. This way, on your way out, you can avoid that location and get out safely. It’s going to say something like, “Evacuate. There’s smoke in the kitchen.”
So, aside from the fact that it detects both carbon monoxide and smoke, the fact that it can tell you where that fire is is remarkable. Plus, this 10-year battery is such a wonderful feature. You know, a lot of times people just simply forget. I know you’re supposed to change the batteries when you set the clocks forward or back. This way, you’re on top of it but it’s just one more thing that you forget to do. And it’s terrible to forget to take care of the safety of your family. And that just truly takes this out of it.
TOM: Yeah, that battery lasts for the entire life of the alarm. So, all in, this is a pretty well-designed product that delivers premium home protection to keep loved ones safe. The 10-year battery, combination smoke-and-carbon-monoxide alarm with voice and location alerts. It’s available nationwide for 59.99. Learn more at FirstAlert.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to Texas where Laurie had some sort of flooring incident and now the cabinets are all damaged. What the heck happened at your house?
LAURIE: Well, we had – we bought an old house built in 1939. When we took the carpet up, we had some beautiful hardwood floors, so we had them refinished. But as they were refinishing them and replacing some of the bad spots, they banged up our cabinets. And we’ve had to try to touch them up with the paint that we had our cabinets painted with. And it’s just – it’s not working. It looks – the sheen is different, it’s streaky. I just don’t know how to make them look uniform without repainting the whole kitchen.
TOM: So the cabinets were scratched and you’re trying to repaint them with household paint. And the problem is that they were probably sprayed, perhaps, with a lacquer or other type of finish and you’re just not able to match the exact sheen.
LAURIE: And we had – we actually have the exact paint that they used. And my husband touched them up and it just isn’t working. So we didn’t know if there was a – if we needed to sand them again.
TOM: Why is it not working?
LAURIE: Well, the sheen, it’s shinier. It’s streaked. So I don’t know if it was the brush or what. The paint’s probably a year-and-a-half old.
LESLIE: That’s the thing. When you’ve got paint sitting around for a while, you can’t just pick it up and use a stir stick and then go for it. You really should bring it back to the paint center and have them throw it in the tumbler.
TOM: Yeah. And also, as you go ahead and refinish these damaged areas, you want to kind of fill it in from the inside out. Don’t try to paint over the whole thing. Be very strategic and use a small brush and just get it into the scratched areas. And don’t try to overpaint the areas that are not scratched.
LAURIE: Alright. We’ll try that.
TOM: It’s kind of like the same procedure as touching up a car, as a way – in the same way. You sort of fill in the scratch rather than overpaint the whole thing. Because if you do, it’s going to lay over the factory finish and look more like a patch than you want it to.
LAURIE: Right. And I think that is kind of what’s happening. So, OK. We’ll try those things and see if that helps.
TOM: OK. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You can reach us here, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home repair or your home improvement question.
Well, it is the ho-ho-home improvement and décor season. And that means that many of you are out shopping for holiday trees to keep your home smelling fresh and looking cheery and bright. We’ll have tips on how to pick a tree that will stay fresh for the entire season, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.
LESLIE: That’s right. And it doesn’t matter what that project is, they make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros.
TOM: And there are no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use. HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Let us know what you are working on and what you might need a hand with and we could make you a very lucky winner this hour.
And we’ve got a project that’s going to definitely put your mind on the warmer weather ahead. It might be down the road but it’s coming back, I promise.
We’ve got up for grabs, this hour, the QUIKRETE Walkmaker Form. And it’s a form that you pour the concrete into. And once it’s firm, you sort of pop it out of the form. And it can have a beautiful pattern, like stone, basket weave, brick, European styles. Build as many as you want and then you can piece them together to make a walkway or a patio.
Check it out at QUIKRETE.com because it really is a great DIY project for those warmer days ahead. You can check it out, right now, there at QUIKRETE.com but it’s going home with one lucky listener this hour.
TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ron in Virginia is on the line with a window question. How can we help you today?
RON: Yes. I just moved to Virginia from Florida and I bought a house that has single-pane, double-hung windows. We have aluminum storm windows on the outside. And I was wondering if that’s going to be efficient for the wild winters we get here. Or should I look into insulated windows?
LESLIE: Well, you know, generally, when you’re talking about a single-pane window, if it was truly on its own, we’d say it’s not that efficient. But because you have a storm window, that automatically makes it that much more efficient.
And a storm window is fairly easy to replace. I mean you can get a new storm window that has a different type of coating on it that could improve its efficiency. Because what you’re doing is you’re essentially creating that space of air between the storm window and the main window and that’s allowing the cold air to stop before it gets into your home. So, especially if you’re able to upgrade just the storm window itself, you’ll really be able to create quite an efficient window within your home and do well for the winter months.
RON: OK. That’s great. And the windows – the storm windows – do look the original and rather lightweight in structure. I do like the wood windows that the house has, so I will look into that. Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, selecting a fresh, green and fragrant Christmas tree to enjoy throughout the holiday season is a cherished tradition. And whether for your family that means heading to a tree farm, supporting a holiday fundraiser at a local church or even picking up a tree in the parking lot of your nearby home center, we’ve got tips on how to make the best selection, in today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz.
TOM: Now, first – and this is key – before you head out, you need to figure out how much space you have to work with. So, you want to measure both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the space you picked out for the tree at home. Then, bring that tape measure with you when you head out to the tree farm or the store.
Here’s the thing: trees always look smaller when they’re out in the lot. And when you buy a tree that’s the right size, you can avoid digging out all those lumberjack tools, that you put away in the fall, when you get home.
LESLIE: Now, once you’ve got those space measurements in hand and your ideal tree aesthetic in mind, you can start shopping with an eye for freshness.
Now, buying from one of those places where you get to cut down your own tree on the farm is really the best way to get a super-fresh product. But there are plenty of great candidates available at neighborhood lots, too. You just have to do a freshness test by sharply bending a few of the tree’s needles with your fingers. Now, fresh, green needles will break crisply, just like a fresh carrot.
TOM: Now, once you’ve picked that perfect tree, take it home and recut the tree base before you put it in the stand so that it will start drinking water. It’s really important you never let the tree suck up all the water in the stand because once a tree has gone without water, the trunk actually seals itself off. And there is no way to get it to start drinking again short of taking the tree down, with the decorations and the lights, and making another cut on the base.
LESLIE: Oh, no.
TOM: So, you want to get it in the water and keep it that way. The tree’s first 24 hours are typically its thirstiest. So keep an eye on the water, especially for the first day or two it’s there.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s today’s Better Get a Truck Tip presented by Hertz. For any home project, store pickup or move that needs more than your car can handle, remember HDTV: Hertz Does Trucks and Vans.
TOM: Book now at Hertz.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joseph in Kentucky on the line who’s got a question about stainless steel. How can we help you?
JOSEPH: Three-and-a-half years ago, I was using these rubber PZV water-supply lines in the bathroom, under the commode and the sink.
JOSEPH: And one of them had busted at the time and it flooded the floor in the bathroom and the hallway with water. So I went over to the hardware store and I got these braided stainless steel and put on there.
TOM: Right. Uh-huh.
JOSEPH: I was told at the time that these here were not supposed to break or leak. But the – one of them under the sink has started leaking up under the sleeve, next to the coupling nut.
JOSEPH: And I tried tightening it down a little bit but that didn’t do any good, so I finally went back over to the store and got two new ones and put on the sink. Is there some kind of a time-replacement period on these things or did just I get a bad hose?
TOM: I think you did because it’s very unusual for those flexible lines to leak – to break down and leak. They are clearly the most convenient way, when you’re replacing a faucet in a situation like that, because you don’t have to get the length just right. You know, if you’re a plumber, you cut everything to fit nice and neat and tight. But for a consumer, they’re the way to go.
I’ve put on dozens of those over the years, for sinks and toilets and other fixtures, and I’ve never had a problem with them. So I suspect that you got a bad one or perhaps when you attached it, maybe you cross-threaded it, maybe there was a bit of debris in it that caused the leak. And now that you’ve replaced it the second time, does it seem to be holding?
TOM: Yeah, I suspect that there was either a problem with the installation or the product the first time around. You just got a bad one.
JOSEPH: Is there any kind of a time-replacement period on that thing? Say, 10 years or 15 years or …?
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what, all those products have their own warranty. And I’ll give you a little aside story. I told this on the show several months ago but my mom, we had bought a sink for her 17 years ago from Home Depot, through American Standard.
TOM: And it chipped. And I was getting ready to replace it and I mentioned it to one of the guys in the store. He said, “I think there’s a warranty on that.” And he was right. They no longer carried them in the store but I contacted American Standard. They sent me a new sink 17 years later and only because I had the warranty and I had the receipt, because my mom is great about saving stuff like that. She saves everything.
So, if you happen to have the receipt and there is a warranty, maybe you can get the few dollars back that you spent on that. But otherwise, I would just chalk it up to bad luck and move on.
JOSEPH: Well, OK then. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Joseph. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. Find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.
And if you want to have a great holiday season, make sure those holiday lights are working before you spend hours stringing them and hanging them. We’ve got some fast, free and easy holiday-light fixes, next.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us with your home improvement question, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your question at MoneyPit.com, which is what Mel did. And Mel has got a painting project in mind.
LESLIE: That’s right. Mel writes: “My home interior was painted 12 to 15 years ago with semi-gloss paint. How do I prepare the walls before repainting with satin paint?”
TOM: That’s a very good question because this is where painters always get it wrong, Mel, and that is the prep part. So, good on you for asking this question.
Now, with walls that have been painted 12, 13, 14, 15 years ago, they’ve got to be dirty – pretty dirty. So, the first thing you’re going to want to do is clean them. And what I recommend for that is to use a TSP solution, which you’ll find in the home center paint aisle. You mix it up, do a good job washing those walls. A little trick of the trade: buy yourself a sponge mop – maybe a new sponge mop. They’re not very expensive. And with a sponge mop, you can actually get the scrubbing all the way up onto the top of the walls without having to use ladders and chairs, which makes it a lot safer. So do a good job cleaning it.
The second thing to do is to prime those walls. And once you’re done priming, then put the paint on. And you’ll get a perfect job every single time if you follow those steps.
LESLIE: Right. And you really – then you can wait 12 to 15 years to paint again, because it sounds like you did a pretty good job the first time.
TOM: Again. That’s right.
Well, are you preparing to deck your halls this holiday season or maybe even your windows, your doors and your trees? Leslie has some easy tips for testing and fixing those holiday-light strings before you hang them, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie? Take it away.
LESLIE: Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and that means that millions of Americans are planning light displays. Big, small, whatever it is, you go to do it but instead of finding blinking lights, you discover that light repairs are needed. So here are five fast and easy ways to get your house and your mood bright and shiny.
Now, first of all, inspect those strings of lights before you hang them. Now, all of the lights should bear the UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, seal of approval and should be free of cracked lights or sockets, worn or frayed wires and loose, damaged plugs. Now, even if they look good, test each string just to be sure. Now, extreme temperatures or movement could have damaged those lights in the year since you last used them.
So, now you find the string isn’t working. Unplug it, check each bulb, see if it’s loose. Now, to do this, you want to gently press each bulb into its socket. And even though most lights are designed to work even if one bulb goes out, they’re not going to work if a bulb is unplugged. So, once you’ve tightened the loose bulbs, plug that string back in.
Still no luck? Unplug it and check the fuse. Now, this is usually built into the plug itself. You can remove it and check that it isn’t burned out. If it is burned out, replace it. Now, most of those string lights are sold with extra fuses taped to that string somewhere in a very small plastic bag.
And if all else fails and it’s time to update your light collection, go with LED lights. They’re much more efficient. They’re super bright. You can get them in different color temperatures. And they’re going to be far less expensive to operate for the entire season. So don’t be afraid of the LED. You’ve got a lot of great options out there.
TOM: You know when I started putting up my holiday lights?
LESLIE: When was this?
TOM: Halloween. Halloween. Yeah. Because last year, we bought these AppLights, which are these lights that basically are LED and they work off an app on your phone. You can choose a million different colors. So I put up the icicle lights, which we usually put around the porch. And then I just changed them to orange. And we had them on for the few days before Halloween and it was pretty cool.
And I just left them up, because why take them down? So, Thanksgiving, I put them up and made them sort of autumn colors. And now, Christmas, we’ll get into the greens and the reds.
LESLIE: That’s so great. That’s kind of cheating but I fully support it.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, hanging pictures can be a daunting task, especially if they’re heavy. But no matter what surface you’re drilling into, there’s a tried and true way to secure your wall hangings the right way. We’ll tell you what to do, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2019 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.)