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 so psyched to be here with you this weekend – this beautiful weekend – a perfect weekend to tackle home improvement projects as we head on into summer. Still got a bit of time here to get something done that could last you for all of the warm months ahead. So, whatever is on your to-do list, here’s what you do: call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll put it on our to-do list, 888-666-3974.
Here’s a great project. How about adding a deck? We’re going to talk about that today, because adding a backyard deck is one surefire way to increase your home’s living space. But if you’re not careful, there are some easy ways to make very expensive mistakes. We’ll show you what you need to know to avoid that happening to you, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And now that we’re in this warm, beautiful weather and we’re outside a lot, do you find yourself green with envy over your neighbor’s lush lawn? Well, guys, that lawn didn’t just happen by magic; it actually takes work to maintain a lawn and get it to look like that. So we’re going to have some tips to keep your lawn green and weed-free.
TOM: And are you still thinking about adding a pool to your yard to help you cool down this summer? Well, what’s better for you: an inground pool or an above-ground pool? We’re going to have a surprising comparison coming up.
LESLIE: And if you call us with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’ll help you keep your house and roof looking super clean and bright. We’ve got a Spray & Forget prize package going out to one listener, drawn at random, that will get rid of mold, mildew, algae and more.
TOM: And that includes a 2-pack of the 32-ounce, Super-Concentrated Roof and Exterior Surface Cleaner with Bio-Stain Blocker and Built-In Hose Sprayer. So call us, right now, for the answer to your how-to or perhaps your décor question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Kent in Kansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What is going on at your house?
KENT: I have a vent that seems to maybe be – have some condensation or whatever. But I’ve got some stains that I’m – bathroom ceiling. And I have tried to spray the, you know, the ceiling stain to fix it but it continues to be a problem. And I wonder, how do I – what do I have to do up in the attic to take care of that?
Now, I do have a furnace up in the attic area, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. But I think it’s associated with a bathroom vent.
TOM: Well, typically, when you get a ceiling leak in a bathroom, it’s caused by the plumbing vent where it exits the roof. Because all bathrooms are going to have a vent pipe that goes up. It’s about 3 inches wide and it goes up from the bathroom, through the roof. And there’s a rubber boot around the pipe that seals the water out.
But the problem is that the rubber boot isn’t nearly as durable as the shingles around it. And the sun beats on it and the UV rays start to break it down. And then you’ll get a gap around the pipe and then the water, when it rains, kind of hugs the pipe, works its way down the pipe. It will drip off or find another route and end up somewhere in the vicinity of the bathroom ceiling. So that would be the most common type of bathroom leak; it wouldn’t be the vent – the bathroom fan, although it’s possible. But it’s probably not it. It’s more likely the plumbing-vent flashing.
So I would take a look at the outside, from the roof. Identify where that pipe is coming through the roof and see if the plumbing-vent flashing is deteriorated. If it is, easy fix. You take a couple of shingles off, put a new piece of flashing on, retack it back in place and you’re good to go.
Once you’ve eliminated the leak, then what you can do is spray that stain with a little bit of a bleach-and-water solution, let it – rinse it off, wipe it dry. And then I want you to prime the entire ceiling with a solvent-based primer. So, oil-based or alkyd-based primer because that’s the only thing that will seal that black in. And then you could put whatever top color you want on top of that and that could be latex, OK?
KENT: Is something like a KILZ product – is that what you’re talking about?
TOM: Yep. That’s exactly right. Yep, KILZ would be fine.
KENT: Alright. That’s what I’ve been using to take care of the stain. But it continues and so I (inaudible).
TOM: Alright. Well, if it’s – listen, if it’s continuing – the KILZ product you’re using, is it the water-based or is it oil-based?
KENT: I believe it’s oil-based and …
TOM: How are you cleaning your brushes? Are you cleaning the brushes with water or are you cleaning them with mineral spirits or turpentine?
KENT: I am using the spray can.
TOM: Oh, it’s in a spray can?
TOM: It’s probably the alkyd. I would get a little quart or a pint can of the oil-based KILZ. You could put it on heavier that way.
TOM: And just enough to do that ceiling, alright? And that’ll make a difference.
KENT: It actually looks like it’s cracking. Is that – is it to the point where I’m going to have to repair the drywall?
TOM: Well, what’s cracking? Is there a seam that’s cracking?
KENT: Yeah, in the ceiling, right in the very center of where the stain is is a small crack.
TOM: Uh-huh. Right.
KENT: And I’m almost afraid to touch it for fear that I’m going to put my finger all the way through it.
TOM: Well, if that’s the case, you’d better find out now and not later. So, yeah, I would poke around a little bit. But a little bit – a small crack in drywall is not a big deal. Just Google “plumbing-vent flashing.” You’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. Call in your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.
TOM: Just ahead, adding a backyard deck is a great way to increase your home’s living space. But if you’re not careful, there are some easy ways to make costly mistakes. We’ll tell you what you need to know, after this.
Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by for your calls, your questions posted to The Money Pit’s Community page or by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online, all for free.
LESLIE: And here’s another great reason to reach out to us on the phone or even post your question in the Community section: we’ve got a prize package coming to you from Spray & Forget. You’re getting a 32-ounce Super-Concentrated Roof and Exterior Surface Cleaner with Bio-Stain Blocker and a Built-In Hose Sprayer. You actually get two of those. And what you’ll get with the Spray & Forget is that it effectively removes all those stains that you see from algae and mold and mildew and moss, all on the roofs, the asphalt, wood, slate, clay, tile all around your house. Those grimy, moldy-looking areas, spray it, forget it and it’s all done.
Just check it out at SprayAndForget.com but give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Carolyn in Iowa is on the line and has a question about a quartz countertop. Tell us what’s going on.
CAROLYN: Yes. What I notice are some dull spots that are showing up on the quartz countertop. We built this home two-and-a-half years ago. And I always had understood, with quartz, you didn’t have to polish or seal or anything. And we’re trying to be really careful.
TOM: Oh, no. Oh, no. Surely, you jest. Quartz is indestructible because you can put hot stuff on it but it’s also really absorbent. And you can – you definitely need to polish it.
CAROLYN: OK. So, all that report that I’ve heard that you never have to do anything to quartz, it isn’t true? You do need to …?
LESLIE: I mean you have to do stuff to granite, to marble, to quartz over time because there’s a sealant that they put on it. And depending on where you got it and who the yard is, if it’s a granite or a marble, it wears away with use.
And so, the lighter the color, the more often you have to do it. And it should be – they say with quartz and marble and granite, every two to three years. I have a granite countertop. I’ve probably done it three times in the 15 years I’ve been in my house. And it’s mostly because the areas where you see what they pour that fills into the spaces, it’s kind of popped out, especially on the edge. But other than that, I haven’t really needed to do much to it.
TOM: There’s a polish online at Amazon.com called Supreme Surface that’s really well-recommended. It’s four out of five stars. I would give that a start if you’ve never tried it before. Order it online. But as Leslie said, you definitely do need to polish natural stone. Otherwise, it is going to get dull over the years. And it sounds like it’s about time to do that with your house.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, adding a backyard deck is one surefire way to increase your home’s living space. But if you’re not careful, there are some easy ways to make very expensive mistakes. Here’s what you need to avoid.
First, think about the traffic flow and convenience. Now, most people like their decks to be just off the kitchen, for obvious reasons. If you’re going to build a wraparound deck, try to have a door to the deck just off the kitchen itself. And that’s going to make summer barbecuing and even wintertime grilling a breeze. Also, make sure that you include room for a dining area with chairs and that it’s not in between you and the pathway from the kitchen or the grill. You want to have an easy way to get to all the places you need to and not be, you know, “Excuse me, excuse me” behind all your friends that are trying to eat.
Now, don’t forget to consider some options, like built-in benches, planters, even lighting. All of this can make your deck more accommodating, more comfortable and help you enjoy it a heck of a lot more.
TOM: Next, your deck’s going to be shiny and new once it’s built but not for long. If you choose to build a wooden deck, you need to keep in mind that the least-expensive option, pressure-treated wood, also is going to require some upkeep in the form of stain and sealants to keep out the weather. Now, if you want better wood and can afford it, cedar is also a good choice since it’s naturally weather- and insect-resistant. And it does tend to weather to a very nice, mellow, gray color.
Now, if you want to not have any issues with wear and tear from weather, think about composite decking. Generally requires very little upkeep or maintenance but it’s a lot more expensive. One option that you could do, though, is to build the frame, of course, out of wood and the decking and the railing out of composite. And if you have an existing deck and you want to sort of do a makeover of it, you could pull off the existing deck boards and the railing and then use composite for those elements and keep the frame, assuming the frame is in good condition.
For more tips, check out “How to Plan an Amazing Deck,” one of our latest blog posts online, right now, at MoneyPit.com. Just search “how to plan an amazing deck.”
LESLIE: Brian in Louisiana, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRIAN: Got about a 72-year-old home and it’s on piers. The other night, I’d heard some banging going around underneath there. Well, long story short, it was a raccoon and it was chasing a cat under there or something. But it busted my hot-water line and …
TOM: Oh, boy. Oh, no.
BRIAN: Yeah. So, but the problem – I wasn’t here when it happened. And so it ran Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. I come back and it’s ended up to where part of my house is sunk down a little bit.
Now, I’ve tried to get underneath there myself. And on my north side of my home, it’s up about 2 feet. But as it – as I got closer to that water line, the house is only about 6 or 7 inches under – so I can’t get to it. I’ll have to dig to get to it.
But my question was is – I don’t know if that – I’m kind of reluctant about calling my insurance company. I don’t know if they would cover that.
TOM: Yeah. If it’s a – I think, actually, they would. If it’s a sudden dispersal of water like that – it’s usually the term “sudden dispersal.” If it was a slow leak over time – but I think if – I think they may very well cover that. I can’t be sure but I would definitely make the call or at least talk to your insurance agent.
BRIAN: I know. Well, what I’m concerned about is I’ve had two or three people tell me that – “Well, if you call your insurance company, what they’re going to do is if they don’t cover it or if they try and get out of it, that they’re going to end up dropping you.”
LESLIE: I mean people have claims. You have to file a claim. It happens. That’s what the insurance is there for.
TOM: It’s a pipe break. And whether it was caused by an animal or not, it’s a sudden dispersal. So I think it is covered. And listen …
BRIAN: Oh, yeah. The hot water just dropped. When I came back and I saw water from – on the driveway and I went, “What the heck?” I went inside and when I tried to turn the faucet on hot water, just nothing. And then I put two and two together; it didn’t take long.
LESLIE: If the raccoon did it on purpose, then it’s another story.
BRIAN: Well, I didn’t pay him to do it and …
TOM: Exactly. That was an act of domestic terrorism.
BRIAN: I had trapped three of them.
TOM: They got your name. You’ve got a reputation there in the raccoon families.
BRIAN: Yes, they do. They’ve got it etched in their home underneath there.
TOM: Let me give you a suggestion here.
BRIAN: OK, please.
TOM: Because you have such a mess and you have so much – so many things that have been affected by this, what you might want to do is hire a public adjuster.
BRIAN: Uh-huh. OK.
TOM: Now, a public adjuster works for you. They file the claim on your behalf with the insurance company and they don’t miss a thing. They don’t miss a coat of paint, they don’t miss a washer, a nut, a piece of sandpaper. They get it all in there. And then they negotiate the settlement with the insurance company and they work on a percentage of the claim. So they get paid through the claim process but they find so much that they end up covering their cost.
BRIAN: Oh, wow. Uh-huh.
TOM: And you could talk with the public adjuster about how to make sure you don’t, if possible, look like a bad risk for them, because you’re going to have new plumbing when this is all done. But you might very well get a lot of this covered as part of that. I wouldn’t mess with trying to get a raccoon out on my own and I wouldn’t do that water pipe on my own.
LESLIE: No way.
TOM: You can talk to your insurance agent, if you have an independent insurance agent, or you could also talk to an attorney. These guys are all over the place. Just make sure that they’re – they’ve got a good reputation and talk with one. See if it’s – they’re not going to take the job unless they think that you’ve got a claim, because that’s how they get paid.
Public adjusters are licensed by the Louisiana Department of Insurance. And so that would be a good place for you to start. You could probably get a list of licensees.
BRIAN: OK. That’s great. Yeah, that’s what I needed to know. Man, I’m so glad that you all are here. I listen to you all all the time.
TOM: Well, we’re happy to have you and we’re glad we were able to help you out. Alright? So you take care now and good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Shirley in Oregon is on the line with a solar-panel question. How can we help you?
SHIRLEY: Hi. Yes. I had heard that with solar panels or solar shakes on the roof, that if you had a fire, that the fire department would not be able to start fighting that fire until the sun went down because you’re actually creating electricity? And I just was considering putting solar and I just wanted to make sure if that is correct: that they didn’t want to get the water on anything that was actively creating electricity.
TOM: So let’s just think about this, Shirley. Your house is on fire, the fire department pulls up, they spot the solar panels and say, “Ah, you know what? We’ll be back, say, what, 6:30, 7:00? Sun should be down by then. Then we’ll take care of it.”
SHIRLEY: That’s what I thought was ridiculous.
SHIRLEY: That’s why I’m thinking, “Why is anybody doing solar if that’s the case, is there?”
TOM: No. Look, there’s electricity all throughout your house. Why would electricity on the roof have – be any different? If electricity is a concern, the fire department is going to go over and turn the power off; they’ll pull the meter.
SHIRLEY: Well, they said that solar creates its own electricity so even if the meter was turned off or pulled, that it still would be creating. Is that not correct with the solar?
TOM: Let’s think about what you’re saying. You can fight a fire in a power plant if you had to.
TOM: So, this is not an issue. Somebody is pulling your leg, Shirley, OK?
SHIRLEY: I think it was just somebody that was kind of ignorant and I said I couldn’t hardly believe it. But I was going to ask before I – thank you.
TOM: Shirley, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Darryl in Georgia needs some help with an epoxy floor but taking one off. Tell us what’s going on.
DARRYL: Leslie, I have a garage, about 500 square feet, that has about two coats of, well, it’s Sherwin-Williams acrylic epoxy paint on the floor. Vehicles parked in there pulled some of the paint off. I want to get it to completely off and all. Some of it is adhered really well to the base concrete; some of it is coming up in sheets and all. But I’d like to know what kind of a chemical stripper that I can get to do that that is economical and do the job.
TOM: If it’s coming up in sheets, like peeling up, you might actually be able to pressure-wash that up. You just have to be careful that you don’t erode the concrete at the same time. I might be tempted to give that a shot with a pressure washer.
TOM: If you have to use a chemical stripper, then you’re going to probably want to use a pretty good-quality one. For example, Rock Miracle does a good job. Because you can’t put good paint over bad paint.
Listen, here’s what I would do, no matter what product. Because it’s so expensive, I would tell you buy the smallest quantity you can and test it. And this way, you know it works or it doesn’t work and you find out before you’re into it for a couple hundred bucks. This way, you could try it in a couple of places and see if it works.
TOM: Just keep in mind, though, that when you do this, you’re going to have to ventilate the space really well. And if it’s a still day, you’d be wise to have some fans moving through that so that you pull that fresh air through it and doesn’t get too stinky while you’re working on it.
DARRYL: Right. If you use a respirator, would that be for methyl chloride, you know, the cartridge?
TOM: If you use the right respirator, it would, yes.
DARRYL: Yep. Mm-hmm. OK.
TOM: Yep. Use the right respirator. OK?
DARRYL: Yeah, I would use – definitely use fans, gloves and safety glasses and all that, because this stuff does not take any prisoners and all.
TOM: Yep. You be careful. Yeah, I hear you. Alright. Well, we hope we get you – give you a couple of ideas there and places to start.
DARRYL: OK. Well, I certainly do appreciate it. And I listen to your program and get a lot of good tips there, too. And thanks for taking my call and giving me some information.
LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, are you green with envy over your neighbor’s lush lawn? Well, that lawn didn’t happen by magic; it takes work to get a lawn like that. We’re going to have tips to keep your lawn green and weed-free.
TOM: And today’s edition of This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by ADT. Introducing ADT Go, the new family mobile safety app and service. Go to ADT.com to learn more today.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And you can enter The Money Pit’s Power Your Summer Sweepstakes, right now, at MoneyPit.com for your chance to win a Cat INV2000 Inverter Generator worth 749 bucks and 99 cents.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s perfectly sized. So that really makes it great for tailgating, camping, taking to the job site and a ton of other places. It’s small but really, really powerful. It’s got an 1,800-watt generator. It retails for, like Tom said, almost 800 bucks but you can win one, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
You can enter today through June 10th. And you’ll be able to power your entire summer with ease.
TOM: Enter The Money Pit’s Power Your Summer Sweepstakes today at MoneyPit.com for your chance to win.
LESLIE: Are you green with envy over your neighbor’s lush lawn? Well, that lawn, it did not happen to look that way just by magic.
TOM: That’s right. It takes work to maintain a lawn and one of the necessary steps is fertilizing. You’ve got to get that just right if you want your lawn to look great. Landscaping contractor Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House, is here to help you make your lawn the envy of your block.
ROGER: Thank you.
TOM: Now, this is something that I think we’re all set up for disappointment, because we all see the local golf courses and the neighbors on the street that have golf course-like lawns but never can quite get it right ourselves. It’s a pretty complicated process to get it – when you think about all the things you’re battling. You’re battling weather, you’re battling the seed that you choose, you’re battling the fertilizer, you’re battling the weeds. How do you win that battle?
ROGER: You don’t. You work the little battles; you win the little, tiny wars.
TOM: So you choose the ones you can win.
ROGER: Exactly. You can’t change the soil underneath the lawn, so you have to deal with what you have and work with that.
LESLIE: So what are some of the things you need to sort of arm yourself with, knowledge-wise, so that you can head to the home center to make those right decisions?
ROGER: Well, the first thing I would tell you to do is get a soil test done. That’s going to tell you exactly what’s going in the soil, whether it needs nitrogen, phosphorus or it needs lime to balance it and change the pH. Without that, you’re just going blind and putting things down on the lawn.
TOM: And once you do know that your soil is in good shape and let’s say you do need to add some things to it, are there some tools that actually make that easier? Because lawns are just so big. I mean let’s face it: it’s a lot of work to get it spread just evenly, not to put too much or too little in one particular area. How do you kind of eliminate the human-failure factor when you’re trying to add fertilizer or lime or seed?
ROGER: The first thing you have to do is read the directions on the bag, then read the directions on your spreader.
TOM: Guys hate to do that.
ROGER: Well, you’ve got to, in this case. There’s a number on the bag that will correspond to the spreader you’re using to put down the product at just the right rate. You don’t want to put down too little and you don’t want to do too much.
Couple things to be careful of. If you put down too much fertilizer – say you stop and it comes pouring out – it’s going to kill the lawn. Number two, if you use a drop spreader, you have to be very careful because there’s no overlap. I can’t tell you how many lawns I’ve seen where after using a drop spreader, there’s stripes all up and down the front lawn. And that’s not a good thing.
LESLIE: Now, is there a better time of year, over others, to add this variety of components, like the fertilizer, like the lime, like the cedar? Do you do it all at once in, say, the spring?
ROGER: The lawn needs to be fed consistently over the season.
ROGER: Usually, it’s three or four feedings is what I recommend to people. In the spring, you’re going to get a lot of growth out of your lawn. So if you add a fertilizer which has a lot of nitrogen, which is the first number, then you’re going to get 4 to 6 inches of growth a week and you don’t need that; that makes it hard to cut.
So in the spring, I like to lower the nitrogen a little bit. Because in the spring, 75 percent of that nitrogen goes to leaves, not to the roots. In the fall, when you put on a late-fall application, 75 percent of that nitrogen goes to the roots instead of pushing top-growth. So in the …
LESLIE: And that’s just based on the thickness of the lawn at that point? Or is there a different fertilizer that you’re using?
ROGER: No, it’s based on the physiology of the plant. The plant is getting ready for winter, so it wants to store a lot of energy so the following spring it’ll just pop up.
TOM: Now, you mentioned cutting. I think a lot of folks tend to want to cut their grass very, very low but that can actually hurt the grass, can’t it?
ROGER: That’s the worst thing you can do for a lawn. Especially if it’s grown long, you haven’t cut it in a week or two, you can even burn the lawn.
But the thing about a long blade of grass is it actually shades the ground below and keeping it cool, keeping it moist. But more importantly, that helps stop weed seeds from germinating.
TOM: Right. So if you think you’re doing yourself a favor by cutting it low, you’re actually making more work, because you’re going to get more weeds and the grass that does come out is not going to be nearly as healthy.
ROGER: Right. And if you scalp an area, that’s killing the grass and the weeds will just climb right in there.
TOM: Now, what about watering when it comes to the fertilizing and the feeding cycle? Do you always water after that?
ROGER: I like to water to just to get the material down into the ground, so it won’t break down from the sun’s rays, and just get it down to the roots, which is where you need it to be.
TOM: Great advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, I think our lawns are going to be looking a lot healthier thanks to your advice.
ROGER: The neighbors will be green with envy.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a step-by-step video on how you can fertilize your lawn and some other projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by GMC Trucks and SUVs.
LESLIE: Are you looking forward to cooling off in your own backyard this summer? What’s better for you: inground or above-ground when you choose a pool? We’re going to have the comparisons, coming up next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by to answer your questions. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.
LESLIE: That’s right. Doesn’t matter what the 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: And hey, here’s another great reason to call or post your question to The Money Pit community: we are giving away a Spray & Forget prize package. You’re going to get a 32-ounce Super-Concentrated Roof and Exterior Surface Cleaner with Bio-Stain Blocker and Built-In Hose Sprayer. You get a two-pack, so you can spray this all over any of those weird stains that you see that are caused by algae, mold, mildew, moss. You see them on your roof, the asphalt shingles, on wood, slate, clay, tile, you name it. If you see it, you can spray it and forget it and it will take care of itself and be gone.
TOM: Spray & Forget Clean Package going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tim in Arizona, you’ve got The Money Pit. What are you working on?
TIM: Hey. Well, I have a garage – a two-car garage. It doesn’t not have insulation on the ceiling. So, on two sides, it’s touching the improved, lived-in side of the house. Two walls. And two walls are touching the exterior. I’ve got insulation over everything but the garage and I was just wondering, would it benefit me to put insulation above the ceiling, above the garage?
TOM: What’s above that ceiling space? Is any of the house above it or is it just the roof?
TIM: Just the roof.
TOM: Yeah. Not really, I mean unless you are planning to work in that garage in cold weather and you want it to be warmer in there. But there’s no reason to insulate the garage ceiling because there’s no – the garage is not heated and we’re also not worried about a cold floor above it. Sometimes, folks have garages where there’s bedrooms above it and they get kind of cold floors because of that.
But no, unless you are, again, going to work in it, there’s no reason for you to insulate that. You want to insulate the wall or ceiling between the garage and the living space of the house. But since you just have a roof over it, there’s really no reason to insulate that space.
TIM: Well, I guess part of what I’m asking is: could the heat somehow come down from the attic into the garage?
TOM: Yeah, it certainly can and it certainly will. Will the insulation help? I suppose it would, in that case, but you’re going to super-heat that attic space and so you’re definitely going to need to want to vent it probably more so than it is now. Because when you add insulation, you also have to add ventilation. And since you’re in Arizona, where heat’s more of an issue than colder nights, it’s something you might want to think about.
Does that help you out?
TIM: Yeah. Maybe I’ll save some money on insulation.
TOM: Listen, we could think of more projects for you to spend money on. Just give us a chance.
Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, are you thinking about adding a pool this summer but maybe you’re not sure if you should go with an above-ground or an inground pool? There are a few things to consider.
First, inground pools are permanent. And while they’re typically associated with a more elegant look, some smart styling, like a raised deck around the pool’s perimeter, can make an above-ground pool look just as inviting and for a lot less money.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the difference in construction costs make a big impact.
Now, with concrete sidewalks, safety fences and covers, the cost of an inground pool ends up being about 31,500 bucks on average. Of course, you can spend a lot more. While an above-ground pool with similar features, you’re going to find averaging at about 8,300.
Another big consideration is resale value. Now, the climate in housing market where you live could be the biggest factors in determining whether you could recoup some of your cost. So if your house is the only one on the block without a pool and you live in a very warm climate, it very well may be worth it. But in other areas of the nation, potential home buyers might just see a pool as a safety concern for their kids or just a maintenance project that they’d be happy just not even having to deal with.
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. I can’t tell you how many times, in the years I spent as a professional home inspector, that my client would ask me not how to take care of the pool but how to get rid of the pool in the house that they were buying. So, it’s a very personal choice. Some folks really, really want it and some don’t.
And as you said, it has a lot to do with where you are in the country and whether or not a pool is sort of standard in that area. Because if it’s not, I’d say, based on my experience, you’re going to get 50 percent of the people that see it as a negative and the other 50 percent seeing it as a positive. It’s really very, very individual. So, good stuff to think about.
For more information, check out our “Best Outdoor Projects” post on MoneyPit.com for comparisons of the five most popular outdoor projects for summer.
LESLIE: Mary in Maryland is on the line with wood-eating bees. Aaah!
Mary, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?
MARY: My porch is being attacked by wood bees and it has been under this attack for, actually, a couple years now.
MARY: And there’s sawdust on the floor and there’s holes in the ceiling. And I would like to know if there’s some way that I could get rid of them without actually killing them.
TOM: Have you tried to ask nicely?
MARY: I have. I really have. In fact, I even took some mosquito spray out and thought maybe if I just sprayed around the holes, they wouldn’t like that and would go away but …
TOM: Yeah, well, unfortunately, the answer is no. What you’re talking about is carpenter bees. And once they find a place that they like, they will come back there over and over and over again, because it’s very tasty.
So, your options are to have them sprayed with an insecticide. They use a powdery insecticide that they spray into the holes that will permanently discourage them from coming back, because it will kill them. But there’s nests in there and that’s what – that’s why they’re going in. They’re drilling those holes to go in and lay eggs, so they’re going to keep coming back.
The other thing to think about doing is if you want to do some construction work – because you can change the wood areas of the – that they’re eating to a composite material, like AZEK. I did that on a garage that we have on our property. It looks like wood; it looks like sort of that white pine trim that we see around but it’s a composite. It’s made out of CPC: the same kind of plastic that plumbing pipes are made out of. But it’s got air cells in it, so it really cuts and looks like wood. You can even paint it.
And once I did that, it was funny: the carpenter bees kept going back to it because they thought it was wood, too. But I can imagine they’re thinking, “Looks like wood. Doesn’t taste like wood.” And once they figured out that it wasn’t wood, they never came back again.
MARY: Oh, wow. Well, that’s a good thing.
TOM: Alright? So check it out online. It’s AZEK – A-Z-E-K – .com. And thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Stick around because we’ve got a lot more great home improvement advice to share with you when we come back.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your how-to or décor question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Are you planning some new flooring for your kitchen or your bathroom or do you need a new roof or maybe you’re ready to work on that deck that you’ve been dreaming of? HomeAdvisor can instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
LESLIE: Alright. But you’ve got two pros here standing by. And you can post your question, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
And I’ve got one here from Paul in New York City who writes: “We replaced our home’s original faucets and countertop a year ago. Now we get a sewer smell from one of two his-and-her bathroom sinks any time we turn the water on. We tried cleaning the pipe and overflow drain but no luck. The city water department says the trap is burping. Only one sink does it; the other sink is only 4 feet away. Any idea what the problem might be?”
TOM: Hmm. I think one of two things. Because the pipe is burping, that means there’s not enough ventilation getting into that pipe. The vent for that part of the drain system is either disconnected or it was never hooked up in the first place.
You know those big pipes that stick out of the roof? They’re there for a reason. They’re there to let air into the plumbing system so that there’s no back pressure as the water drains out. And if there is pressure, that’s where you get that burping or gurgling sound.
The other thing that could be going on here is you could have biogas. But when you have water that’s sitting in those traps, you often will get bacteria that will grow. And that makes an awful smell, just absolutely awful.
So, to deal with the venting, there is a type of vent that’s not really typically a vent. But basically, it’s sort of like a one-way air valve that can go in the area of that drain. And that can insert or let air enter the plumbing system without having to run the pipe physically through the walls and ceilings, you know, to get it up out of the roof. So that is a possibility.
And in terms of the biogas, what you would want to do is fill that drain with an oxygenated-bleach solution and let it sit for 15, 20 minutes. Scrub it, if you can, with a bottle brush and then maybe do it one more time. And that should kill any bacteria that’s sitting right there in the drain. And see what the odor situation is after that.
But if it’s burping, it definitely is not getting enough air into that pipe.
LESLIE: Now, Tom, I think I’ve heard you say this before, and correct me if I’m wrong, but when you have some new fixtures put in, isn’t it true that sometimes you could end up with an excess of some sort of putty or material that they’re using in the plumbing, that would sit in the pipe and sometimes also cause an odor? Like an excess of it?
TOM: Yeah. Because it doesn’t sort of wash away, so it becomes sort of like a spot where some of that bacteria can get trapped.
LESLIE: Can grow on it.
TOM: And it can grow on it. So that’s part of it, too. And that’s why I say if you can reach down into the trap with a flexible brush, of which there are many available and very inexpensively at home centers, when you get that oxygenated-bleach solution in there you have a chance to kind of wipe some of that away and hopefully, some of the bacteria that is there at the same time.
LESLIE: Yeah. And that makes a lot of sense that you might have some excess material in there or things growing since these were just installed.
Now, this tends to happen – this biogas buildup or this sort of yuckiness that you get – probably with washing machines a lot, too.
TOM: Oh, yeah, especially the front-loaders. When they first came out, I’m not so sure how much – I haven’t heard a lot about this lately. But when they first came out, there would be an awful smell that would happen because of the rubber gaskets. And you really had to reach in there and you had to wipe all that stuff down with a bleach solution to kill that bacteria and stop the odor from happening.
LESLIE: Yeah. That is just super gross. And it’s funny because you think these are the areas that you want to be clean and yet they end up feeling the grossest.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thanks so much for spending this part of your weekend with us. We hope we’ve got you primed and ready to take on the projects that you want to do around your money pit.
And if you need help, remember, we are here for you, 24/7. You can post your question to the Community page, like so many do. We always love that, especially those of you that are working on them over the weekend. I always get a giggle out of what’s going on across the country by the questions that keep coming in. And also, you could call us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. And if we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are.
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 2018 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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