TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here for you. What are you working on around your hose, your yard, your condo, your apartment? Whatever is going on your to-do list, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT and we will help you get the job done. Or you can post it to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, summer is unfortunately coming to an end but that doesn’t mean your fresh supply of veggies has to, as well. We’re going to have some tips to turn your summer vegetable gardens into a fall vegetable garden.
LESLIE: And there are options for getting a new look without breaking the bank when it comes to redesigning spaces in your home. Did you know that kitchen cabinets can be replaced, refaced or just refinished? We’re going to have tips for all three, in just a bit.
TOM: And just because it’s starting to cool off just a bit and getting dark a little tiny bit earlier, that doesn’t mean you have to cut back on outdoor entertaining. We’ve got advice on three ways you can extend the use of your outdoor space well into the fall.
So, give us a call, right now, because we are here to help you with your how-to project. We will solve that do-it-yourself dilemma. We will get you started on the right foot with whatever project you’re working on. But you’ve got to help yourself first by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question to the Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Joan in Massachusetts is on the line with a mysterious radio crackling that could be connected to an LED light. What’s going on at your Money Pit?
JOAN: Oh, I’m so happy to talk to both of you. I learn so much from listening to your show every week, so hoping you can answer my question.
TOM: Well, thank you.
JOAN: I’m going to be moving into a house and I had an electrician install Lotus Super Thin LED lights in my ceilings, in four rooms – actually five. And then they’re tied into Ariadni C•L 150-Watt Lutron Dimmer Switches. And when I turn the radios on in any of those rooms with – and into an AM station so I can listen to your show, I get static. And so the electrician had never heard of that before and so I’m kind of looking for some helpful information to correct the situation.
TOM: What kind of radio do you use? Is it a portable radio? Or is it – or your stereo or …?
JOAN: I’ve got one portable one that, you know, I’ve carried around just to see if that’s affected and that is, too. But then I’ve got just kind of AM/FM radios in the different rooms, because I like to listen to AM radio most of the time.
TOM: Usually, if you have a static like that or an interference with any kind of appliance, it’s usually the ground. There’s usually something that’s off with the grounding system for the electrical panel or the circuits themselves, so that’d be the first thing I would check.
JOAN: OK. So it could affect every room if the ground is off in the panel?
TOM: Yeah, right or if somehow it’s disconnected. And that actually could potentially – be potentially unsafe, as well, so I would start by looking at the ground.
JOAN: And look at the ground wires in each room, too, or …?
TOM: Yeah. And right – and one thing that you could do that’s really easy is you could use an outlet tester to check all the outlets in those rooms. And that’s a really simple way to tell if it’s grounded or not grounded, because there’s a light sequence that comes on. And if it’s not grounded, you’ll see it immediately.
JOAN: Yeah. So could it be anything to do with the dimmer switches?
TOM: No, I don’t think it’s the switches themselves, because these are all made consistent and I don’t have anybody else across the country that’s complaining about this kind of odd thing.
JOAN: Hmm. And that …
TOM: But I would suggest that you check for grounding and that almost always will do it. If it’s a metal box, it might be shielded if it’s not grounded. So, it really needs to have that element checked out. Alright?
JOAN: Yeah, because even if I go in the cellar – I had him install a couple of those fluorescent lights and it happens down there, too.
TOM: It’s not just where you have these dimmer products.
JOAN: Right. OK. Alright. Well, great.
TOM: The other thing that you could do is you could get an outside AM antenna and get the radios working from that antenna instead of the one that’s built in, so there another option there.
Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: David in Alaska is on the line with a question about a foundation. What can we do for you?
DAVID: Yes. What I’ve got is a daylight basement. It’s made out of Quad-Lock with a porch slab and getting a lot of moisture in on the – coming in from the outside. I put the Bituthene over the Quad-Lock and over the footing and I’m still getting a lot of water inside the house. In the wintertime – so when it’s bad, we have to run at least one, maybe two, dehumidifiers (inaudible at 0:05:14). Yeah, dehumidifiers.
TOM: Does it seem to be consistent with maybe the warmer temperatures in the winter, like where maybe it’s starting to melt a little bit? Or is it the same all the time?
DAVID: Yeah, pretty much the same all the time. And the Bituthene was sealed with a heat gun all the way down over the footing. But I don’t know if that’s where my problem’s at – that the house is close to 20 years old.
TOM: Typically, when you get high humidity and high moisture like that, it’s because of drainage. The water has to melt, the snow has to melt, then it gets into the concrete one way or the other. And it gets drawn through because concrete is very hydroscopic. It really soaks up a lot of moisture and then it evaporates to the inside spaces.
If your drainage is in good condition on the outside – in other words, in the spring or the summer, you want to make sure that your soil around the house, if at all possible, has a good slope away. So that when that snow starts to melt, that water runs it that direction; it doesn’t fall down along the foundation where it could become drawn into the house. And then, of course, you also want to make sure that your gutters are clear and free-flowing and all that. Doesn’t sound like that’s as much of an issue for you in particular.
Now, you mentioned you were running a dehumidifier. What kind of heat do you have in this house? Is it forced air or what kind of heat is it?
DAVID: [For your stove?] (ph)
TOM: So it’s not – you don’t have a furnace – you don’t have warm air that’s blowing through it. It’s not ducted?
TOM: What I would recommend in that basement space is a better-quality dehumidifier.
David, take a look online at the dehumidifiers that are made by Therma-Stor – T-h-e-r-m-a-S-t-o-r. They have two brands. One is called Ultra-Aire and the other one’s called Santa Fe. They’re either free-standing or they’re designed to be suspended from the ceiling. I have one – I have an Ultra-Aire that I use in my basement, which tends to get damp even though I have good drainage conditions on the outside. And it’s been very effective for us. And it basically drains into a sump pump and it takes out a surprising amount of moisture from that space every single day.
So, that might be a good solution for you. I just asked you those earlier questions to make sure that anything that you can do physically to make sure water’s not collecting around the house is done. And it sounds like that might be the case. So the next step would to be install a good-quality dehumidifier. OK?
DAVID: OK. Is it energy-efficient?
TOM: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm. Yes, absolutely. Alright, David? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You can post your questions to us, right now, at The Money Pit Community page at MoneyPit.com or call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor. Are you thinking about new flooring for your kitchen? Well, HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for that job, and many more jobs, for free.
TOM: Up next, eating fresh and local does not have to end when the summer does. We’ll have tips for transforming a summer vegetable garden into a fall veggie garden that can last you well into the chilly weather, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are standing by for your calls to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can find top-rated home improvement pros you can trust.
LESLIE: And for local pros who want to grow their business, HomeAdvisor is the easy way to get connected with project-ready homeowners.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT with your question.
But there’s a new article out now from the Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, Leslie, and it turns out that Americans are going to be pouring a record $316 billion into home remodeling this year. It’s actually up from 296 a year earlier, so that’s pretty cool.
LESLIE: My goodness.
TOM: We’re spending $20 billion more on our houses this year than a year ago, so that’s certainly been keeping the contractors busy out there and keeping the home centers busy.
And if you have got a project, if you are a tiny part of that $20 billion update to your home, is hope getting held up because you don’t know which way to go? Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Liz in New Jersey is on the line and she has a kind of thrifty idea. She wants to reuse wall-to-wall carpeting? What’s going on?
LIZ: Yes. I have carpeting that is 20 years old but it’s in my living room, which hardly anybody – you don’t have to step on it to go through other parts of the house. And it looks fine. And I was wondering if I could have that taken up, because underneath is hardwood and I wanted to refinish it. But my carpeting in my bedroom, which is smaller, is worn. And I was wondering if I could put that carpet in the bedroom.
TOM: I don’t see any reason that you couldn’t do that. You know, pulling the carpet up is pretty easy to do as long as it was put down correctly to begin with.
Now, I will caution you, if that space in the living room turns out to be not one piece of carpet but carpet with a seam in the middle of it, that seam could be your weak link. That seam might not be obvious to you, if it was done well to begin with, but when you take the carpet up, you may find that it’s basically two pieces of wall-to-wall carpet seamed together with seam tape. And then if you try to move that piece upstairs, the tape could break apart because now you’re kind of disturbing it. And you may have a bit of a mess on your hands.
But I see no reason why you couldn’t reuse the carpet. It’s certainly possible. That said, I think the most expensive part of this project is going to be the labor, because you’re going to have to have a professional carpet installer do this work. And considering the fact that the upstairs bedroom is fairly small, the added cost of brand-new carpet might not really add that much to the overall project.
TOM: So think about the economics of this, OK? If you’re going to spend money on an installer, then it’s going to cost you X dollars to have them come in, take the old carpet out, cut a new piece to fit upstairs and move it upstairs. How much more can the carpet possibly cost you, especially if you bought a remnant or something of that nature?
LIZ: Oh, I see. Yeah. I think it’s one whole, long piece. I really do.
LESLIE: It depends. Because, usually, the bolts of carpeting are 13 feet. So if you’ve got a run of the room that’s bigger than 13 feet, then you’re probably going to have a seam somewhere in there.
The other thing to consider is that 20-year-old padding might not be reusable, so you might have to get new padding. Whereas if you got new carpeting, they’re going to throw in padding, for the most part. So, think of all those things.
TOM: Alright, Liz. Well, good luck with that project. We gave you some stuff to think about, 888-666-3974.
Well, that steady stream of fresh tomatoes from your garden might be coming to an end, which is always sad because I love my Jersey tomatoes. But the truth is you can keep selling that produce going well into the cooler weather by transitioning that summer veggie garden into a fall vegetable garden. And it all comes down to the veggies you plant, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. And the fall veggies that can grow in your garden are really, really tasty ones. You guys, you can plant broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, beets, turnips. Those will all grow and they will grow very well in the cooler weather months. Now, the key is rejuvenating the soil. You have to replenish all the nutrients that it spent while growing all of those summer veggies or anything else that you’ve got in your garden. But the soil is the trick here, guys.
TOM: And so first what you want to do is pull out the plants that are kind of done producing and yank out, of course, any loose weeds or debris at the same time. Then you want to add compost and mulch, just like you may have done in the spring but now you’re getting it for the fall. And then layer in some straw or hay on top of it, because that insulates the garden when those temperatures do start to drop.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now most of your fall vegetables can actually endure a little bit of frost but you can extend their season by up to a month if you add a frost blanket on top of that hay. It just keeps everything warm and the perfect temperature for growing.
TOM: Yep. Then you want to sow just one seed every couple of inches and before you know it, you will be replacing those store-bought salad fixings with the fresher version, straight from your own backyard garden.
LESLIE: Ed in Delaware is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?
ED: I’ve got a house built at about 1950. It’s masonry brick and there’s about a 1-inch air gap between the inner part of the masonry and the drywall. No insulation. Obviously, I want to insulate that but I have a couple of questions around it. One would be since it’s a true masonry house, it’s not bricks over a stud frame. It’s brick.
ED: The joists rest in pockets in the brick. If I put insulation around there, am I going to have rot problems on the end of a joist?
TOM: How are you going to insulate the wall?
ED: With a low-pressure foam.
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. Well …
ED: Or such was my thought.
ED: It’s very rough in there, so I don’t think I can do any kind of blown-in insulation.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Right, yeah. You don’t have a whole lot of space.
I’ve got to tell you, typically, believe it or not, those spaces are not insulated where you have that just very narrow space in a brick wall. And what folks typically concentrate on would be insulating the attic extra well, so to speak. I mean having 15 to 20, 25 inches of insulation in the attic is actually far more effective because that’s where most of the heat loss occurs.
To your original question, whether that will contribute to any degradation of the joists that are sitting in pockets, I doubt it. But I just don’t think you’re going to get much of a return by trying to insulate that space, because you don’t have that much cavity to insulate. And it means the amount of R-value you’re going to get in there is going to be pretty small to begin with.
ED: That’s true. Part of the issue – and I can solve this by sealing the basement and the attic, which I haven’t gotten completed yet – is that there’s literally a breeze that blows up and down there depending on the direction that the wind blows.
ED: So, at the very least, I want to close that off so I don’t get air infiltration, for example, through the few plugs that are in the outer wall.
TOM: Well, that makes sense. I think that’s a good idea.
ED: But I was thinking, even if I can only get an inch in there, that’s an inch versus nothing.
TOM: If they’re not rotting now, I don’t think it’s going to happen when you insulate it. You’re not going to be doing anything that’s going to contribute to any moisture there. I just think that if you were to seal those drafts from below and focus on insulating in the attic the areas you can get to – I don’t feel like you’re going to get a lot of return from what’s left, which is just this very narrow space in that exterior wall that’s solid masonry, otherwise.
TOM: So why not do it in stages? Why not just do the – seal the drafts first and see what happens?
TOM: Because the hardest part of this is, obviously, getting into that wall. But if you seal the drafts and you find out that maybe you don’t have such an issue anymore, you will have saved yourself a lot of aggravation.
ED: Well, that is true, particularly since the wall is open at each joist. So I’d have to cut into the ceiling and seal that anyway, otherwise I would be insulating the floor, which does make it …
TOM: Right, exactly. That’s a lot of work, so I would hit in stages and see what the result is.
LESLIE: Erin in Ohio is on the line and needs some help with a playground. What can we do for you?
ERIN: I have a swing set/playset. It’s made out of treated wood and it’s about 10 years old. The flat surfaces, they’ve turned black and the wood is cracking. I’m wondering how I can best clean that up.
TOM: Well, the best thing to do is to use a wood cleaner. But let me ask you this: is it pressure-treated, this wooden playset?
ERIN: I believe so, yes.
TOM: Because pressure-treated lumber has sort of fallen out of favor as a playset, because of the chemicals that are in the pressure-treated lumber leaching out of the lumber, getting into the soil and so on. So, I’d just give you a bit of a warning on that.
But if you want to clean this, Flood makes a product called Flood Wood Cleaner that works really well. Basically, you wet the lumber down, you apply the wood cleaner, you let it set for 20 or 30 minutes. You don’t let it dry – you may have to remoisten it again – and then you kind of scrub it clean. You can use a pressure washer after that to scrub it clean. It does a pretty good job of brightening up the finish, taking away the dirt and the grime and lifting up any of that old, gray sort of oxidation that settles on the wood or the black oxidation that settles on the wood.
You can find that at most home centers and hardware stores. And again, it’s called Flood Wood Cleaner.
ERIN: OK. Once I have it clean then, am I better, do you think, to stain it or paint it?
TOM: No, you’re better to stain it. What you want to do is use solid-color stain, as opposed to semi-transparent stain, because it’ll last a lot longer. The solid-color tends to fade a little bit better and doesn’t peel like paint would.
ERIN: And the same – like we have a swing – a porch swing – that I’d like to put on there, as well. Same thing then with that to clean it up? It’s been outside for some time.
TOM: Yes. If it’s natural wood, that’s a good product to clean it up with. And the same advice applies to the porch swing.
Now, is that also made out of pressure-treated lumber or is that something different?
ERIN: You know, it’s about the same age. I believe it is.
TOM: Alright. So, again, use the solid-color stain.
ERIN: OK. Very good. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Erin. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, when it comes to updating your kitchen cabinets, will refacing do or is a full-blown replacement necessary? We’re going to outline all of those options, after this.
JOE: This is Joe Namath. Now, when I’m not throwing a football around, I’m listening to Tom and Leslie on The Money Pit.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Well, guys, now that we’re in the stormy season of the year, every single year the actual cost of lightning strikes adds up to millions of dollars in damage to electrical systems in homes throughout our country. Now, to prevent this from happening to you, it’s a really good idea to install a surge arrester for your home.
TOM: Absolutely. It’s really the initial step for whole-house protection, because it safeguards all the hard-wired equipment, like air-conditioning systems or appliances, that really can’t be protected by the plug-in surge devices: the ones that are actually coming out of the outlet themselves.
Now, you will need an electrician to get this job done, because it gets installed at the main electrical panel. It’s going to cost you 100 bucks, 200 bucks. Kind of a service call plus a minor part expense. But it could definitely save you thousands if you needed all new equipment.
I have a quick story about that. A dear friend of the family lives nearby, pretty close to where we live. Had a lightning strike. And while it didn’t affect us – which is interesting because we’re on the same power feed from the utility company.
TOM: Did not affect us. But in her house, she lost her computer, her phones, her air conditioners and her both garage-door openers in one storm. So, it’s a really good idea to have this kind of protection in your home, because it can happen to you. And when it does, it’s not small. It blows out a whole bunch of stuff at once and it’s going to cost you a bunch of money.
LESLIE: No. I mean I had issues with the washer and dryer after we had a lightning strike.
TOM: I believe it.
LESLIE: You have to be so careful. So, it’s such a minimal investment for such a huge protection. Because if something happens, it’s going to cost a lot more.
TOM: 888-666-3974. We are here to save you from spending a lot more on your home improvement projects. Give us a call, right now, or post your question to the Community page at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Darlene in South Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a dishwasher situation. What’s going on over there?
DARLENE: Whenever you turn it on and turn it on Pots and Pans, it fills up and then it stops. Does nothing. And you can turn the knob around to the different cycles and everything and it does nothing.
TOM: Have you checked the float, which is in the bottom of the dishwasher, to see if maybe it’s become clogged?
DARLENE: No, I didn’t know there was …
TOM: Yeah. Because if it’s clogged, it might think it’s – it might think that it’s about to overflow and it might shut the machine off. So in the bottom of the dishwasher, take a look at the float. And it’ll move kind of up and down – it’ll pop up and down a little bit – and a lot of times, it gets filled with food and grime and stuff. And if you clean it out, that might just be the thing to do it.
And here’s a little trick of the trade: if you’re trying to clean out food from places you really can’t get to, you can use a wet/dry vacuum for that. It’ll sort of draw it right out.
DARLENE: Oh, OK. [That I have] (ph).
TOM: There you go. Good luck with that project, Darlene. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, kitchens are one place in the house where most of us spend a lot of time. But if you ever feel like your kitchen cabinets are dated, drab or dull, it might not always be your favorite room.
TOM: Well, the good news is that there are options for getting a new look without breaking the bank. Kitchen cabinets can be replaced, refaced or just refinished. Here to help us sort it all out is This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.
TOM SILVA: Thanks. Nice to be here.
TOM: You know, let’s start by talking about refacing versus replacing. What’s the best way to determine whether refacing a cabinet will do or a full-blown replacement of a cabinet is really necessary?
TOM SILVA: Alright. First, let’s just review the difference. Replacing, of course, is just that: when you tear out and start all over again.
TOM SILVA: Replace is when you want to reconfigure the layout or if the existing boxes are just junky; they’re falling apart.
TOM SILVA: Refacing is when you resurface the surface of the cabinets: the part that you see.
TOM SILVA: Alright? As well as the doors, like the doors, the drawer fronts and the hardware.
TOM: So when you reface, you’re basically reattaching material to the old boxes?
TOM SILVA: Right. The structure’s sound so you’re just making it look good.
TOM SILVA: Alright? That can be a lot less expensive and a lot – difference without breaking the bank.
LESLIE: Now, how do you decide if your cabinets are good candidates for a refacing? Because I imagine if they’re not great cabinets, you don’t want to just jump in.
TOM SILVA: Well, no. If the cabinets aren’t good, like I said, you’re going to rip them out. But you want to look at the cabinets. Take the doors, look inside the cabinets, make sure there’s no rot on the floors, make sure the floors are nice and solid, make sure the sides of the cabinets are good and solid. Make sure you have something really good to work with. If they’re falling apart, it’s not worth refacing.
LESLIE: And refacing is not a project you can tackle on your own. I mean a project like that is better left to the pros, right?
TOM SILVA: Well, refacing is – basically, you have to have some skills, you have to have some tools. You have to be able to know how to put things together, because cabinetry can be tricky and it’s pretty exacting. So you want to make sure everything lines up. You’ve got to put a drawer front on, you’ve got to make sure it lines up, you’ve got to know how to hang a door, you have to know how to make the door the right size.
TOM: We’re talking to Tom Silva, the general contractor from TV’s This Old House, about whether kitchen cabinets should be refaced or replaced.
Now, Tom, if we are going to do a refacing project or hire a pro to have it done, what kinds of materials are used for the actual facing itself?
TOM SILVA: Well, there’s all kinds of materials. You can use laminate; basically cover the wood. You can use different types of wood to make your cabinets. You’ve got to think about whether or not you want to stain them or paint them.
TOM SILVA: All of those things have to come into play.
The other thing you have to think about is what kind of doors you want to make. You want raised panel, flat panel, recessed panel, flushed doors, inset doors? All of those things make a difference.
TOM: So a lot of decisions to be made.
Now, I guess replacing is probably the way to go if you do need to change something around. Because if you reface, you’re pretty much accepting the layout the way it is, correct?
TOM SILVA: The layout’s not going to change, yep. So you’ve got to – if you are refacing, what you have is what you’re going to get. You’re just going to get a new look.
LESLIE: Alright. So replacing, excellent option if you want to change out the layout or you want to go with a completely different wood or you just want to do something totally different in your kitchen. Refacing, you like where things are; you just want a fresh look and an update on the space.
What about refinishing? New stain, new paint. Is that a good option?
TOM SILVA: Existing cabinet’s in good shape? Why not do something with them like paint them, repaint them or restain them? Refinishing a cabinet is probably your most cost-effective move, since repainting or restaining is a great DIY project that delivers good results.
TOM: Great advice. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure.
TOM: And for more great tips just like that, from Tom and the entire team, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And don’t forget you can watch them on This Old House or Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: And today’s This Old House Tip on The Money Pit is presented by Lumber Liquidators, with over 400 varieties of bamboo, laminate, wood-look tile, vinyl plank and hardwood floors for less.
Just ahead, if you take on only three projects, you can extend the use of your outdoor spaces well into fall. We’ll tell you how to do just that, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we would love for you to call us at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online, for free. Or you can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Well, you don’t have to put an end to outdoor entertaining at the end of the summer. If you take just three simple steps, right now, you can extend that entertainment season well into the fall.
LESLIE: Yeah. The first one – I mean this is a no-brainer and it actually makes your yard look so much nicer. Let’s talk about lighting up that yard so you can stay outdoors longer and it’ll look so much prettier.
Now, you can use low-voltage lighting kits that are designed for outdoor use. They’re really easy to install and you can even find solar-powered lights that don’t need any wiring at all. Talk about a do-it-yourself project.
TOM: Absolutely. Next, you want to think about heating your space. Now, fire pits, fireplaces, chimeneas, patio heaters, they’re all readily available these days. And setting one up is an easy do-it-yourself project. Not only do they create a very cozy and warm space, they also add a great ambiance to that entertaining, as well.
LESLIE: And finally, if you’ve got a pool in your yard, if you’re a lucky pool owner, think about getting a pool cover. Not the one that you close up the pool for the entire season but one that you can use daily. And what that will do is it actually harnesses the daytime sunlight so that it stays warmer after Labor Day.
And if you take these three steps, you can actually enjoy your backyard retreat even after the first frost. In fact, we encourage you to do so. S’mores in an autumn backyard are the best.
Judy in Virginia, you’ve got a painting question. How can we help you with that project?
JUDY: We are trying to put an epoxy on our basement floor, like we did on our garage floor. And we are having a very serious problem with this basement-floor project, because we went through all the process of putting down the pretreatment that would get rid of any oils or solutions on the floor. That bubbled up the way it was supposed to. Then we went in and we put down the epoxy as we were supposed to and it came right back up. It turned to a brown powder and then just came up.
And so, we got all that off and then we went back in and put down a sealer and then came back with the epoxy again. And it’s doing the same exact thing. We had no problem with our garage floor and it’s a garage floor that was put down several years after the basement was done. And we were told that – from some people who know the history of the house – that the basement – or that the house was built in the winter months, back in the mid-80s and that they likely used calcium chloride to help the cement set up and that it could be having an effect on this epoxy.
We’re using a very good-quality – a name brand. It’s not a box-store quality; it’s a quality, quality product that we’re using.
TOM: OK. Have you turned to the manufacturer to ask the question as to what might be going on?
JUDY: Well, we have asked and the calcium chloride did come up as a possibility. But they don’t really know what to do about that.
TOM: So, you did talk directly to the manufacturer, not the retailer, about this.
JUDY: The retailer actually talked with the manufacturer about it.
TOM: I would go right to the manufacturer and speak with them directly about this. I don’t like going through the middle man because – not that I don’t trust the retailer to do this. You can never be sure if they’re actually talking to the right guy. And they could be talking to – you see, they could be talking to a field rep who thinks he knows the answer and maybe he doesn’t.
Obviously, something – the first thing that came to mind was moisture. Did the floor – was the floor thoroughly dried before you started this whole process?
JUDY: Yes, it was. We made certain it was very dry in there and used big box fans after we had scrubbed the floor real thoroughly. The big box fans were used and the doors were opened to let the air circulate through. And it was very dry.
TOM: Both times, the paint that you put down, was it from the same batch?
JUDY: No, different batches.
TOM: I’ve never heard of an epoxy floor not adhering, so this is an unusual situation. And it’s one that I would turn to the technical experts at the manufacturer. As you mentioned, it’s a major brand. They have folks – chemists – that basically are standing by to take questions like this; most of them do.
If you have difficulty identifying the right people to talk to, if you e-mail us to [email protected] with the details, perhaps some photographs and the name of the manufacturer, I am certain that we could quickly get through to the right person for you. There’s a chemical reaction going on here that’s causing this issue and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it.
JUDY: Will do. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. That’s an unusual situation and there’s got to be a reaction going on between that floor.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I’ve heard of instances where a previous homeowner maybe put like a water-based sealant or a water sealant on a concrete.
TOM: Or a silicone.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you don’t see it.
TOM: I was thinking about a silicone sealer. Yeah, yeah. I mean if they put a silicone sealer down on the concrete, that could impact it, as well.
LESLIE: Right. And then you might not know it’s there.
TOM: But that’s what the pretreatment is supposed to deal with. The idea of using the acid-etch products that all the epoxy floors come with – the epoxy, they come with an acid etch and it sounds like that’s what Judy did. So, let’s hope she can get to the bottom of it.
LESLIE: Still ahead, don’t let a pressure washer do more damage than good. We’re going to share some tips on choosing the right pressure washer for the surface that needs to be cleaned, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by to take your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. These guys make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.
LESLIE: And if you’re a service pro looking to grow your business and connect with project-ready homeowners, HomeAdvisor.com is the perfect place for you to do just that.
TOM: I had a friend who lost a water heater recently. It was 15 years old and started to leak. She says, “OK. Who should I call in our area, our hometown?” I’m like, “You know what? I really don’t know that many plumbers because, fortunately, I haven’t had to use them.” I said, “Go to HomeAdvisor.” She did and a day later, she said everything was done. Great price, great people.
LESLIE: That’s great.
TOM: So, really getting some strong reviews on this service.
LESLIE: That’s fantastic.
TOM: So, it’s no longer that you have to kind of play Yellow Page roulette to find a contractor. Just go to HomeAdvisor. You can read the reviews, pick the best guy and get that job done.
LESLIE: I love it. I love having good, recommended, referred people that you can trust. You really cannot beat that.
Hey, guys, while you’re at it, post your questions online at MoneyPit.com. We love to answer them. I’ve got one here from Jacqueline in Chicago who posted: “I’d like to buy a pressure washer for my deck but I’m nervous that I might damage the wood.”
Now, that’s good that she’s nervous, because most people are like, “I cranked it up to 8,000 and I’m …”
TOM: Yeah. And now your deck looks like driftwood, right?
LESLIE: Right. So she says, “I found washers with different types of nozzles but should I be looking for adjustable PSI? What do I need to know about adjusting that pressure for different surfaces?”
Now, that’s also a good question. Because once you’ve got all these options, you don’t – you know, sometimes it’s confusing to figure out what’s what and what’s for the best surface.
TOM: Well, the goal here is to use the least amount of pressure necessary. And I want to say, at the outset, that a lot of times today you don’t need to use a pressure washer, like you may have in years past, because there are good products out there that will take out mold and mildew and algae and moss and that sort of thing. Spray & Forget is a product that we’ve recommended for years. Now, it doesn’t give you an instant result, because you’ve got to wait for it to kind of work but it does a great job.
But if you want to go with a pressure-washer route, you need to know what you’re buying. And a light-duty pressure washer is going to work at maybe 1,300 to 2,000 PSI. To kind of put that in perspective, it’s about 30 times as powerful as a garden hose. So that is a good choice for cleaning tasks, like if you want to clean your deck, your boats, your car, even your siding. That’s a good-size pressure washer for that.
You want to step it up from there? Maybe you want to strip some surfaces? I had a pressure washer that I used to strip paint off an old radiator. And that one has to have a lot more PSI. So, we’re talking about 2,000 to 2,600, which is good for maybe grease and grime. But if you want to strip paint, then you’re kind of going up to almost 4,000 PSI. So it really depends on what the project is. You want to choose your pressure washer against that.
Now, you also want to consider the pressure washer’s gallons per minute or GPM number. The higher the GPM, the more surface area the pressure washer can clean. So, really, two things to consider – PSI and GPM – and the gallons per minute and make your best decision based on that.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps. And once you get started, Jacqueline, the pressure washer really is kind of the funnest chore that you’ll do around your money pit. So, I guarantee you’ll start doing everything and anything with it.
Alright, Jacqueline. Good luck with that cleaning project. You’re going to love it.
Next up, we’ve got a post from Aaron in New York City who writes: “The wallpaper in my kitchen and bath is super old, like 26 years. I want to get rid of it but don’t want to really take it down. Can I paint over it?”
Ugh. I do not like painting over wallpaper. I just think it’s extending the prolonged dread of actually taking down the paper, which truly isn’t that hard of a project if you get a wallpaper steamer and score the paper and take your time. I mean it will be a project but painting over it, you can see the seams. Sometimes, you can see the patterns. And then it’ll only make it more difficult when it does come time to take it down.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. And thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope you’ve enjoyed our show and our podcast. You can always follow us online at MoneyPit.com. Call in your question, 24/7, to 888-MONEY-PIT or post it to our Community page at MoneyPit.com.
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.
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(Copyright 2017 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.)