- Heating Your Garage: Find out how to heat your garage so you can comfortably do DIY projects all year.
- Hidden Storm Damage: The impact of storms isn’t always obvious. Here are some things to look for around your home.
- Storing Window Screens: The change of seasons is a great time to clean and store your window screens. Learn the best methods to keep them in good shape.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Gutters: A narrow area of space between neighboring homes keeps filling with water. We tell Allison how to improve drainage and waterproof her basement.
- Bathroom Vanity: Nick needs to know how to attach the top of his bathroom vanity to the base. We’ll share tips about keeping it secure with plumbing, adhesive, and caulk.
- Wall Tile: Can you cover garage cement walls with tile? Shen finds out it can be done and how to reduce moisture with a waterproof membrane under the tile.
- Decking: Andrew wants to install a hot tub on top of a deck. We’ll share info about building a wood frame with extra support and using durable Trex decking for the surface.
- Insulation: Janet’s home addition isn’t insulated, but the open area underneath may provide the easiest access to install insulation where it’s needed.
- Drop Ceilings: A basement renovation includes updating the ceiling, too. Gonzalo gets advice on putting up drywall, leaving the ceiling exposed, or installing a new drop ceiling.
- Ceramic Tile Floor: Replacing carpet with ceramic tile flooring left gaps under the door trim. We explain how Mike can add plinth block to close the gap.
- Security Systems: Sherry wants to install a security system in her rural home. With a Wi-Fi connection, she’s got plenty of affordable DIY options to keep her home safe.
- Travertine Tile: The travertine tile in Steve’s kitchen has spots where things were spilled and dulled the glossy finish. We’ll suggest some products to help clean, seal, and polish the tile surface.
- Fireplaces: Lynne wants to reface her brick fireplace that’s surrounded by library paneling. Adhering tile is a great option that can give it a beautiful new look.
- Vinyl Flooring: Is it necessary to add a sound barrier to a vinyl floor that’s installed over a cement slab? We tell Tim that the included floor padding should be enough to muffle sounds.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you take on the projects that you’d like to get done around your house. It might be a project that you want to get done, like wanting to improve your house, or maybe one that you have to get done because if you don’t, the roof’s going to leak, the heat, the air conditioning is going to stop working. Whatever improvements you have on your to-do list, there’s an easy way to move them right over to our to-do list. And that’s by reaching out to us with your questions.
You can do that a couple of ways. You can go to MoneyPit.com/Ask, click on the blue microphone button, leave your question right there. Or you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, if you are a DIYer and if you have a garage, there is one thing that usually prevents you from using that space year-round: heat. So we’re going to share some tips on the best garage-heating options to keep that space useful all year long.
LESLIE: And also ahead, big storms can leave a lot of obvious structural damage in their wake. But there also can be hidden damage that turns into big expenses later on. We’re going to have some tips on how to check your house for damage, both visible and invisible.
TOM: And before winter sets in and the weather starts to get really cold, it’s a good idea to clean and store your window screens. So we’re going to show you some tricks of the trade to do just that.
But first, we want to know what you want to know.
LESLIE: That’s right. Let us know what you are working on. Perhaps you’re looking for some, you know, fall-décor tips or how to spooky-up the outside of your house for the Halloween season. Well, whatever it is, we can help out.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions at MoneyPit.com/Ask.
Alright. Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Allison in Illinois is on the line and has a question about some gutters.
What’s going on at your money pit?
ALLISON: Hi. So, we just bought our first home. And it’s in the city, so it’s very close to the house next to us. They’re small lots. And so we’re probably 5 feet from our neighbors on the south side. And we’re hoping to finish our basement, so we are looking into waterproofing that. But we also just have this enormous puddle that happens every time it rains, in between the two houses, which is not in use.
ALLISON: But anyway, so giant puddle. I don’t actually know if a French drain is OK in Chicago. But yeah, just wondering what we can do about that. It’s pretty unlevel ground.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, you mentioned that you’re planning to waterproof your basement. If you do this right, you probably won’t have to do any further waterproofing of your basement. Because when your basements get damp and wet as a result of rainfall and puddles forming around the foundation, that is the source of the leak. So, if we can control that, we know that the basement will stay dry.
Now, when you have two houses that are close together and there’s no place for the water to run, you need to try to do everything you can to kind of manage it. Now, did the roofs on these houses both sort of dump into the space between it? Do they have gutters that are working? What kind of water management is there now?
ALLISON: Sure, yeah. Our gutters do work. We have a lot of trees, so we have to clean them out frequently but we’ve done that already. Our neighbors’ does not; his gutter goes into the ground. And it’s – we can see – there’s a little hole in the side of one of them that’s just packed with dirt and leaves.
TOM: OK. Yeah, so that’s going to be a problem because your neighbor is going to dump a lot of water in your way. Can you chat with your neighbor about fixing this?
LESLIE: Or diverting it?
ALLISON: I don’t even know how you clear out a gutter like that that goes into the ground.
TOM: Well, what you do is you basically – it’s kind of like Roto-Rooter. You hire a drain cleaner.
TOM: And essentially, what has to happen here is you’ve got to manage this water any way you can. So I would tell you this: I would put oversized gutters on both houses. So, instead of a 4-inch gutter, I would put a 6-inch because they clog a lot less frequently. I would try to have the downspouts discharge to the lowest part of the property. And I would extend the downspouts so that the water does not collect around the foundation. Either over grade or underground, you extend them and get them out.
If I was still collecting water in the space between the two homes, what I would do is I would put a French drain. And basically, that’s a trench that’s roughly 12 to 18 inches square. And then you put some stone in the bottom of it. You lay a perforated pipe in the stone and then you put more dirt and stone around it. And essentially, what happens is as the water collects in that area, it goes into the pipe and it runs out.
There’s a type of French drain that’s actually premade these days, where you don’t have to do the whole stone thing. And then you’ll find that at home centers where it’s – it looks like a plastic perforated pipe but it’s wrapped in a cloth that has what looks like packing peanuts in between the cloth and the pipe itself. And that’s sort of the aggregate and that can go in in one piece. But however you do this, you’ve got to put that drain in and it’s got to pitch so – at least about a ¼-inch a foot so that the water that’s collecting there can go somewhere.
And that’s the key: you’ve got to find out where that somewhere is. If it’s the backyard, great. If it’s the front yard, you might be able to drop it into the street if the town lets you do that. But you’ve got to manage that water. If you don’t manage the water, it’s going to have no place to go but down, saturate those foundation walls and it will show up as a leak in both basements, potentially.
But you can fix this if you manage the water. If you search on our website how – if you search on our website at MoneyPit.com about leaky basements, you’ll find how to solve a leaky basement and stop a basement that floods. You’ll find some really good posts that we’ve done over the years on it. Some of the basement content on the site is some of the most popular that we have. That’ll actually walk you through this, step by step, and to show you all the ways that this causes the floods, OK?
ALLISON: OK, great. And there’s room for that in between the two houses with the 5 feet?
TOM: Oh, that’s plenty of room for it. Done it with less. Alright?
TOM: OK, Allison. Good luck with that project.
ALLISON: Thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Nick in Florida on the line who’s dealing with a bathroom vanity.
Tell us what’s going on.
NICK: I bought a vanity kit from Home Depot with the bottom and the top. The top’s made out of some kind of – looks like artificial marble. And I want to know the best way to attach the top to the base.
TOM: So, Nick, I hear you. It can be very confusing because those vanities don’t have any way to physically attach the composite top that they come with. But the thing is they’re not really designed – or they don’t really need to be solidly attached.
So what I would do is this. I’d put the vanity in, get it all level where you want it. Then I would dry-fit the top by inserting it down into the vanity and making sure that my pipes for my drain and my supplies are all aligned and can easily go together. Then I’d take it apart one last time and I would use some adhesive on the top of the vanity edge. And then when you press the top back in place, it’ll kind of compress down. It’ll dry and seal it.
Then the last thing you do is to caulk it against the wall. And between the sealant against the wall – the caulk – between the glue and the plumbing connections, you’re going to find it’s very, very solid and definitely is not going to move. And that’s all you’ll need.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Shen who needs some help tiling a concrete wall.
What’s going on?
SHEN: Hi there. Calling from New Hampshire. I have a staircase that goes from a garage up into the living area. And at the bottom garage level of the staircase, there are poured-cement walls that I would like to cover with tile. And I am wondering the best way to prep this surface, both to keep out moisture and to accept the tiles that I would like to put on.
TOM: So, Shen, a couple of things come to mind.
First of all, because you’re seeing signs of moisture there, I would take steps to try to reduce that. And it’s almost always caused by a problem with gutters being overflowing with leaves and getting clogged up or downspouts that are dumping water near the wall or soil that’s just sort of sitting there and not allowing water to run away. Could be reversed back into the wall or you could have, I don’t know, a walk in the way in there or some bricks in there that’s holding water against the wall. So, basically, you want to move water away from that foundation.
In terms of tiling, yes, definitely could tile over those foundation walls. There’s one important step, that you may not be aware of, that I would recommend, and it’s called an “uncoupling membrane.” It’s basically a waterproof membrane that would be adhered to the wall and then the tile would be adhered to that. And by doing that, if there’s any differential movement, which always happens between the tile and the wall itself, it won’t crack the tile and cause them to pop off.
So, definitely a project that you could do. Of course, you have to have the right materials, like the membrane that I talked about, and the right adhesives which are going to be rated for all that. I would take a look at a product called DITRA – D-I-T-R-A. It’s made by Schluter – S-c-h-l-u-t-e-r. They’re a company that specializes in these types of waterproofing membranes. And use a product like that in between the tile and the wall and you should be good to go.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Andrew on the line who’s looking to relax in style, in a hot tub this cool season.
Tell us about it.
ANDREW: I’m looking to build a ground-level floating deck off the back of my house, in order to put an inflatable hot tub on it. And I was curious if Trex decking is good for that or if I’d have better luck with traditional pressure-treated. And is there any other special reinforcements I should do to hold the extra weight of something like a hot tub?
LESLIE: Well, I think it’s interesting here. You can potentially have both building materials. You need to, really, because the wood is the structure that holds the decking up. And the top of it that you see, that’s decorative and lovely, would be the Trex. And of course, that’s a great material to use for a deck, especially a deck with a hot tub, because it’s not going to wear, it’s not going to fade. It’s going to really stand up to all of the things that go along with a hot tub: the extra water, the moisture, the heat, all of it. That said, do you need extra support? I think that depends.
TOM: I think absolutely you need extra support. Hot tubs are super heavy. It’s not so much the tub that’s heavy; it’s the water.
LESLIE: The water?
TOM: You know, if – yeah, that’s right. If you have a hot tub that maybe – you have inflatable hot tubs that go up to about six people. That is about 2,400 pounds of water, because it’s 8 pounds per gallon and if you do the math, that’s going to end up being 2,400 pounds. That’s over a ton of water weight. So you need to build that deck to hold that. And a traditional deck built to hold just the decking is not going to do it. So you have to really, really, really beef that up.
The other option, too, is to not build the deck for the tub but build the deck around the tub. And then use a patio to hold the deck, which would be supportive, too.
But like you said, Leslie, you can definitely use Trex on the decking surface itself, on the railing surface. It’s beautiful, it’s durable. It’s going to stand up to all that water. But in terms of structure, you’ve got to build it sturdy and you’ve got to build that out of pressure-treated.
LESLIE: Alright. And you’ve got to enjoy it, too.
Well, major weather events, like hurricanes and severe storms, leave a lot of obvious structural damage in their wake. But there can also be hidden damage that turns into big expenses later on.
So, first of all, let’s talk about your foundation. Now, heavy accumulations of water can definitely cause a home’s foundation to weaken and then fail. So you want to check yours carefully, along both the outdoor and the indoor walls. And you should be looking for areas that are cracked or bulging. If something just doesn’t seem right, check it out.
TOM: Now, next, you want to identify any flooded electrical fixtures. Anything that’s been underwater definitely needs to be replaced. So, we’re talking about outlets, appliances, major-system machinery like your furnace. Contaminants in the water can damage any sensitive components and that can definitely lead to malfunctions and electrical fires. So, if it got wet, it’s got to go.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, high winds. Now, these winds can also take quite a toll on the outer skin of your home and then leave damage in a lot of areas. So you want to check out every side of your house from the ground. And check for loose siding, metal trim and soffits that are bent, missing, whatever. And give special attention to your roof, too, because driving rain can push up and go underneath roofing shingles and then cause a leak.
You want to also look for loose flashing around your chimney, maybe a plumbing vent. Those things can also lead to problems down the road.
TOM: Now, when it comes to some of these post-storm repairs, there are many you can handle on your own. But for bigger and more pervasive problems, especially if they require specialized skills, like electrical or plumbing, it’s definitely best to call in the pros.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Janet on the line who’s dealing with some insulation issues.
What’s going on?
JANET: I have a side entrance on my home that was sort of an add-on area, that is not well-insulated. Am I better to find some sort of insulation to go up under this add-on? Or should I pull the linoleum flooring up and the plywood underneath and insulate and then put the flooring back on?
TOM: So, Janet, it sounds to me, from your question, like you have the ability to get underneath that floor without tearing it up. That would be optimal if that’s the case, so I’m going to presume it’s over a crawlspace. And if that’s the situation, you do want to insert insulation in between the floor joists but you do it from the underside.
Tearing the floor out from the top, when you can get in an easier way, would not make any sense. So I would insulate that floor but I also would make sure I’m checking the ceiling above. If there’s an attic space above that, that ought to be insulated. And then, thirdly, you can do the walls, making sure you’re sealing out any gaps that may be forming around there.
Generally, the most important thing to insulate in any area is ceiling first, then followed by floors, then followed by walls. That’s for a couple of reasons. First of all, heat rises. Floors are generally easy to insulate and walls not so much. But there are other ways to try to seal out some of the sources of energy loss in those spaces that are easier than taking walls apart from the inside.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Gonzalo on the line who’s looking for some help with a basement ceiling.
GONZALO: So, my fall and winter project will be to revamp our basement. I’m going to start with the ceilings. Right now, we have the old-school, drop-tile ceilings, which we’re not fond of. And we’re not looking to put in the newer, stylized drop-tile ceilings, either.
So far, my idea has been to put drywall to drywall the ceiling. However, my wife has really – trying to convince me to not put anything and just leave the wood exposed.
LESLIE: Alright. Yeah, basement ceilings can be tough because, you know, you were given limited height. You kind of want to finish off the space and there’s lots of things potentially that you need to hide in a basement ceiling: plumbing, electrical, wiring, all that kind of stuff.
So, couple of things. You can tidy up the wiring that’s in there. Maybe tuck it against those beams and paint the ceiling if you just want to leave it as is.
But I mean you say no to a drop ceiling. Drop ceilings can be beautiful. Perhaps you haven’t taken a good look at them lately. And maybe if you and your wife want to look at these together, there’s a lot of options. Yes, you’re dealing with the framework of a drop ceiling but the tiles that go into them, they can have a coffered style, they can have sort of a tin look. They can have all kinds of looks that feel like a constructed and finished space. So I wouldn’t pooh-pooh that idea yet; I’d kind of take a look again.
Basements are tough and you want to make it a usable space. So, really think about ways that you could finish it. If you’ve got the height to put in the drop ceiling, then I definitely think it’s a great option.
Mike in Arkansas is on the line with a flooring question.
What can we do for you?
MIKE: OK. Yes, I decided to replace my carpet and ceramic tile throughout the house, with the exception of the bedrooms. Now, my – I went with luxury-vinyl plank. Now my – the bottoms of my door casings, I have about anywhere from a ¼-inch to almost an inch gap, especially the areas that I had to use backer board for the ceramic tile. So, how can I close that gap and make it look good?
TOM: So, the trim, there’s a gap between the bottom of the trim and the top of the floor?
TOM: OK. There’s a type of accent piece for trim. It’s called a “plith block” – p-l-i-t-h. Plith block. And it’s kind of like a square block that you can put at the bottom of the casing and it’s a little bit wider than the casing. And it looks – if you do it right, it looks like it always was supposed to be there.
You know what I mean, Leslie?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. They’re really made to look like they were intentional, if you will.
MIKE: And it’s called a “plith block.” A plith …
TOM: Plith – p-l-i-t-h. Yeah, plith block.
MIKE: OK. OK.
TOM: Yeah. I think that’ll solve it for you.
LESLIE: Yeah. Sometimes they’re called “rosettes.”
MIKE: Alright. I will give that a try. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Shari on the line who lives in a very rural area and is looking for some help with a home security system.
SHARI: I’m interested in buying a burglar alarm or some kind of security system for my house. I live in a rural area, so I’m not sure if that makes any difference in the choices that I would have to have installed.
LESLIE: I would say, first, how’s your Wi-Fi connection? If you’ve got solid Wi-Fi, you can pretty much have any of these home security systems: Sentinel, Nest, any of them. It’s interesting because so many of these you can do yourself but they do require a very strong Wi-Fi signal. So that is really going to determine what and how we can do for you.
TOM: Yeah. And if you have a Wi-Fi connection and the Wi-Fi goes down, there’s also systems that have a cellphone-dialer backup, so you’re really never without that connection to a monitoring center.
Now, speaking of monitoring, I have the Deep Sentinel cameras. And the reason I like those is because they’re actually monitored, 24/7, by security people. And so they’re pretty affordable and surprisingly affordable. Even the monthly service fee is. And I love the fact that there’s somebody there sort of watching our property even though – when we’re not there.
The fact that you’ve got – everything’s internet-based now. It’s really changed the whole game in home security. You can pretty much put in any system, so just choose one that has the features and the benefits that you’re looking for and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re an avid DIYer and you happen to have a garage, you can bet there are a lot of projects that get worked on in that space. But in the winter, that gets tougher as the garage is the one place under your roof which is not heated.
TOM: Yeah. The garage is definitely the great untapped space for a workshop or a hobby area or a lot of other things. But heat is all that really stands between using that space year-round and not. So, adding garage heat, a pretty popular project, especially this time of year. And there are a few options to consider, so let’s walk you through it.
First up, forced-air garage heaters. Now, these are great because they deliver instant heat, just like a regular furnace. And they can be sized for any size garage or space and any temperature swing. You know, if you live in the North, you’re going to have a much colder space to heat than if you live in the South.
Now, they work a lot like your house furnace. They heat the air and then they use a fan to distribute that warm air throughout the space. They do need a gas line, though, and an outlet. And they should usually be mounted up high, like in a corner, and blow downward.
Now, they come in a variety of sizes but a good rule of thumb is this: for a 2-car garage, you need about a 45,000-BTU unit and for a 3-car garage, you need a 60,000-BTU unit. And by the way, those are big numbers. When you think about the size of a furnace, the average furnace for a house is going to be under 100,000 BTUs. So you’re talking about 50, 60 percent of what you need to heat the entire house. So, this is something that you do need that much power but you’re not going to use a lot, because it gets pretty expensive.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, there’s also infrared garage heaters. That’s another option. And these radiate the heat rather than use a conventional blower fan. Now, they work well when you’re only looking to heat a specific area as opposed to an enclosed space.
Infrared heaters heat an object first rather than the air. And they can provide uniform and consistent heating rather than dissipating the heat associated with blower fans.
Now, Tom, besides from adding the heat, I mean these rooms might not be well-insulated to begin with. So is it a good idea to even just start there and check?
TOM: Well, definitely. You have to know that the only wall that’s required to be insulated is going to be the wall between the house and the garage. If you’ve got a detached garage, of course, you’re going to have no insulation. And sometimes, even when you have an attached garage, I’ve seen builders that will drywall the exterior walls of the garage and you just don’t know that there’s no insulation inside of that, so you’ve got to check.
And the other thing that you can do is you can beef up your garage door. Now, most are not insulated but you can add foam panels to just inside the door. You can glue foam panels. Cut them to fit and add them to the inside of the door. They don’t add much weight and they definitely will warm up that door. And then check the weather-stripping around the outside. These are things that you can improve at a very, very marginal cost.
LESLIE: Steve in Hawaii, aloha. Welcome to The Money Pit.
STEVE: We’ve got this really nice travertine tile in our kitchen and some other parts of our home, too. But the kitchen is primarily the part that I’m bothered by. And you can see spots where things have spilled, drops of whatever. I think lemon juice happened – was one of the cases.
You look at the tile, it’s very nice. But if you look at it from an angle, you can see the gloss except for these random spots, about the size of a nickel, that are no longer glossy where something has spilled and basically taken the gloss off. And I wonder if there’s some product or some treatment that I can do to the floor to restore the gloss to make it look like it’s a nice, new floor again or at least look better than how it looks now.
TOM: Right. Well, certainly, marble does need a lot more maintenance than most other surfaces. Even though people think it’s really durable, it really does need cleaning and sealing and that sort of thing.
Now, if you have a professional do it, they’re going to come in, they’re going to buff it and it’s going to look beautiful. But there are some do-it-yourself products. One of the most common manufacturers in that line is called Stone Care. And they have a number of cleaners and sealers and polishes that are designed for travertine. So I think that’s a good place to start.
Take a look at StoneCare.com. I’m sure their products are pretty widely distributed. And I think you might find the solution there.
STEVE: Do I want a sealer or a cleaner? What product am I looking for?
TOM: Well, you have cleaners, you have polish and you have sealers, right? And it really depends on the condition of the marble. I would certainly start with a cleaner. And if you’re seeing a lot of where you think the pores are really opened up, then you might want to add a sealer and then polish on top of that. But it’s kind of a multi-step process and it is a lot of work. And that’s why, a lot of times, these solid-stone – even countertops that folks get and think that it’s kind of a one-and-done thing, they’re just sorely disappointed, especially the first time they spill coffee or tomato juice and have a stain to deal with.
STEVE: Yep. OK. We’ll give it a try. Thanks for your advice.
TOM: Good luck. Yep. You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lynn in Arkansas is on the line and needs some help with a chimney.
What can we do for you?
LYNN: Well, I have a 1980s brick fireplace. It is surrounded by library paneling, so the brick-surface area is just the hearth and a row of bricks on either side of the fireplace and perhaps two rows of bricks above the fireplace until it meets the mantel and the library paneling from there up.
LYNN: I want to give it a façade. And I thought about stucco-ing it or plaster of Paris or perhaps tiling it. I want to attempt to do this myself and I didn’t know if I was overstepping my boundaries.
TOM: Leslie, I think that tiling is kind of a cool idea, because that would be very attractive on a fireplace. I like that a lot better than stucco-ing it. What do you think?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. I even like – outside of tiling, you can face it with marble or a granite. And that can really look beautiful and you can do that in a fuller sheet. They almost do it in three pieces and that looks stunning. You can also do it in a faux stone, so it looks like a ledgestone or a river rock. That really gives it some characteristic. It’s gorgeous that way.
LYNN: Could this go directly on top of the brick or would I need to prep the brick? I imagine I would need to fill the brick grout lines to make it a smooth finish, perhaps, before tiling?
TOM: No, because the – well, the tile could pretty much go over that.
LESLIE: Right. And your adhesive.
TOM: It might be a little tricky. Yeah, you would adhere it right to the brick. It might be a little tricky on the grout but I don’t think you have to put any kind of sheathing over it or anything like that.
LYNN: OK. Cool.
LESLIE: I wouldn’t. I think your adhesive is going to be enough. The only instance is if you had a super-uneven surface. I had a very old fireplace that the surface was – it almost was like a coral but it was this old cement stucco that looked like coral, that was all uneven. And I put a cement board over that, just to give me a level playing field. But if you’ve got an even surface, I think that’s the way to go.
LYNN: Wonderful. OK. I’m going to try this.
TOM: Well, before the winter sets in and the weather begins to get colder, it’s a good idea to take some time, right now, to clean and store your window screens. Don’t leave them in all year long because you’re going to wear them out sooner than you have to. If you think about the fact that they battle those elements all summer, you need to treat them very, very gently because sometimes they get a bit weak, especially if the UV has deteriorated the screening material. So, treat them very carefully but get them out and get them clean.
Now, here’s how to do just that.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you want to remove the screens. Don’t try cleaning them while they’re in place. Then go ahead and lay them on a flat surface, like your driveway. And you can use a mild soap-and-water combo with a soft-bristled brush to remove that dirt and grime. You want to clean both sides of the window screen and then around the interior and exterior of the frame. Then rinse off the window screens with lukewarm water.
TOM: Now, make sure you allow the window screens to dry completely before replacing in the window. And don’t even think about using a pressure washer on something like this, because all you’re going to do is poke holes in them. And you can really damage them as a result.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, you can go ahead and put the screens back in or if you prefer, you can store the screens during the winter months. If you do store them, you want to keep them upright or flat but don’t kind of lean them against anything. And definitely do not put anything on top of them because they are delicate.
TOM: And if you’re dropping storm windows into place to keep cold air out, now is a good time to clean those windows, lubricate the tracks. And for all windows, check the exterior spaces between the trim and the siding. If you see cracks or gaps, recaulk them as needed to keep the drafts away.
LESLIE: Let’s welcome Tim who’s got a noise issue.
What’s going on?
TIM: I’m going to be putting down luxury vinyl flooring in my house. I live in a house that has a cement slab. What we’re going to do is we’re going to buy the vinyl flooring that has the sound-dampener on the back already. We’d like to know if we need to put down an additional sound barrier on top of the cement floor before we put the vinyl flooring down. Is it recommended or is it even needed at all?
TOM: So, Leslie, I don’t think he needs any type of a sound-deadener because he’s putting it down on concrete, right?
LESLIE: I mean what kind of sound is he trying to deaden? It’s kind of already encased in there.
TOM: Right. Unless something’s going on underneath that concrete slab, yeah.
The only thing – first of all, I do think it’s a good idea to use the padding that’s built into the luxury vinyl plank itself. It makes it a softer floor to walk on. And also, sometimes people complain that they hear a clicking when they walk on it, as the panels start to loosen up over time. And you don’t really have that when you have the padding attached.
So I don’t think you need any type of additional soundproofing in that space. I think what comes on the floor itself is all you’re going to need.
LESLIE: Alright. I think you’re right. That should do a great job of keeping it quiet and keeping it really nice-looking.
Post your question or write in, just like Jack did. Now, Jack is in Nevada and he says, “I have bubbled walls and ceilings from a leak in my upstairs bathroom. How do I repair the ceiling?”
TOM: Well, first, Jack, you make sure that you’ve repaired the leak, right? You’ve got to do that first. Now, the bubbled walls in the ceilings, if this is a recent leak, you’ve got to sort of poke a hole in those bubbles or sagged areas to make sure you’re letting any water out.
If we’re just talking about paint that has bubbled, then that’s one thing. You can scrape off the old paint. You can add a good, stain-sealing primer, like a KILZ. I would use a solvent-based primer, not a water-based primer, because it seals in much better when it comes to leak stains.
But if the leak is old and the wall is permanently deformed – if you see a big bulge in it – that often happens when water sits in there too long. That’s why we always say to – if you have the leak and you see it start to come through the ceiling, just sort of quickly poke a hole in the ceiling to let that water out so it doesn’t sit behind it. Because that’s what’s going to be next: the water is going to swell and you’ll get this big bubble.
So, if you’ve already got the big bubble in there, that’s kind of permanent. You’re going to have to tear out and replace that drywall. There’s just no way to push – you can’t push that toothpaste back in the tube, so to speak. You really need to just replace the ceiling.
But remember, no matter if you have to replace it or you’re just scraping off that old paint, it’s really important to use that primer coat. If you don’t, you will be sad because you will find that those stains will come right back through all over again.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got one from Peter in Florida who says, “Is there a simple way to tell if a wall is load-bearing or do I have to find the blueprints to my home?”
TOM: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. You certainly don’t need to have your blueprints and I’m not even sure your blueprints would be clear enough for the average person to understand, in terms of the load-bearing capacity of all the different members.
So, I would tell you just in generally speaking, if you have a house that is in the shape of a rectangle, like most are – so it could be a two-story Colonial; it could be a ranch – typically, the load-bearing wall goes down the center of the building and it’s parallel with the front and the rear walls. Not always, though. Typically, that’s the case.
And if you’re going to do some work in that wall, you can do some work in it. You can open it up. You can put larger archways in and that sort of thing. You could even have a flush ceiling that’s all the way across the top. You do have to figure out another way to support whatever it was carrying. And that’s entirely possible. In fact, there’s a lot of tricks and techniques to do that.
So, for example, if I wanted to replace a load-bearing wall or open up a load-bearing wall, I would build a temporary wall on both sides of it to support whatever is above it. And then you – with that in place, you can take apart the load-bearing portion. You’d be inserting a new beam, where you took out the portions of the wall that you don’t want, to carry that load. And that’s all going to be specified by an architect or an engineer. And then you re-drywall and you’re pretty much good to go.
So, is that an easy way – easy thing for a homeowner to do? Well, certainly not the repair. But getting a rough idea of whether or not it’s load-bearing, I can tell you that’s kind of a rule of thumb but again, not always. Typically parallel with the front and rear walls but not always.
LESLIE: Alright, Peter, I hope that helps you out because definitely, this is not a mistake that you want to make. But there are ways around it, so hopefully you’ll figure it out. Good luck with your project.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on a beautiful fall weekend. We hope you’re enjoying the weather in your part of the country. And it’s usually good to take on all sorts of projects.
Now, we’re just about out of time but we want to remind you if you’ve got a project that you’re stuck on or one that you’re thinking about doing and don’t know where to begin, begin with us. We are here to help. You can reach us anytime at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your questions to MoneyPit.com/Ask.
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 2022 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.)
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