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: Happy Holidays. If you are working on getting your house ready for the days ahead, we are here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Because it is truly the ho-ho-home improvement season where you’re taking on those projects to make your house bright and cheery and comfortable and warm, not only for you but for all of your friends and family.
Coming up on today’s show, now that it is getting so close to the holidays, do you have a couple of last-minute projects to get done but no time to do them? Well, if so, hiring a handyman is a great option. But how do you find one, you know, kind of at the last minute that can complete the project on time and on budget? We are going to walk you through that process, because it’s actually not as hard as you might think.
LESLIE: And also ahead, we’re going to solve a mystery put to us by a listener who had no electricity in his garage and three electricians couldn’t tell him why. And the answer is going to surprise you.
TOM: And the Farmers’ Almanac has been predicting winter weather with an 80.5 accuracy rate since 1792 which is amazing, by the way. And they are calling for frequent snow events, from flurries to no fewer than seven big snowstorms from coast to coast.
LESLIE: Oh, geez.
TOM: So, if you’re tired of shoveling, a snow blower might be in your immediate future. It can do it for you but they’re not one size fits all. So we’re going to tell you how to choose the perfect one for your house.
LESLIE: And now that it’s cold outside, are you thinking about when that warm weather is coming back? We’ve got a great product from QUIKRETE to give away, this hour, that can help. It’s a set of their very popular Walkmaker Forms. And it’s the easiest way to build a beautiful cobblestone walkway.
TOM: So, let’s get to it. Whatever is on your to-do list, slide it over to ours, right now, by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Larry in Missouri is having a plumbing issue. Tell us what’s going on.
LARRY: Yes, I have a well on my property here that meets the water for our house. And in the last couple of months, we’ve had what I think is an unusual thing happening. The couplings on the 1-inch pipe – the PVC pipes that are coming from the well – so far, 3 of them have broken and maybe split – the couplings have split almost right in half. And so I’ve had to dig out this PVC pipe from in the ground, because it’s all underground.
LARRY: And just wondering, what would be causing those couplings to be splitting like that?
TOM: OK. The couplings that you’re using – what’s the size of the PVC pipe? Is it an inch-and-a-half or what is it?
LARRY: One-inch PVC pipe.
TOM: And so, basically, the coupling is where you have two sections that join together. Is that correct?
TOM: So what you might want to think about doing is replacing these glued – they’re glued-on couplings. Is that right?
LARRY: Yes, they are.
TOM: What you might want to think about doing is replacing these glued-on, hard, plastic pipelings (ph) with something called a Fernco. Are you familiar with that?
TOM: It’s more of like a rubber boot and they have different types for different pipes. But it attaches to both sides of the pipe and it has a little bit of flexibility in between it. And this way, if you’re getting expansion and contraction in the pipe, it’s going to move with it and put less stress on the joint.
LARRY: Mm-hmm. Now, the ones that I have totally replaced – I have replaced three of them so far and I would guess there’s probably another five, probably, to the well. What I’ve done – there is this one – it’s got a rubber seal on it but then they screw together. I don’t know exactly what they’re called but …
TOM: It’s called a Fernco – F-e-r-n-c-o. Their website is Fernco.com. And they’re sold at plumbing supply houses; I know they sell them at The Home Depot. You should have no problem finding this.
This might be what you’re using, based on how you describe it; I’m not quite sure. But this is a good solution when you’re having this problem with the couplings that you’re using breaking down because, as you’ll see, this will give you a lot of flexibility. I’ve been using these in the ground for pipes for many years and I’ve never had one fail on me yet.
LARRY: OK. Well, very good. I will look into that and see if I can find them around here. And if another one breaks, I will try it out.
TOM: Give it a shot. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now, Libby from Missouri is on the line and has some issues with a hardwood floor. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
LIBBY: I really think my hardwood floors need to be redone. They’re very faded where there’s traffic and a lot of gap.
LIBBY: And that house is about 60 years old. It’s very noisy. Lots of just wear and scratches. And I’m trying to decide whether I should just not try to redo them and – or maybe there’s something that I can do to them to make them look better without totally refinishing them. I don’t know. You have any suggestions?
TOM: Well, sure, Libby. Let me ask you about the condition of the floors. You said that they’re scratched but are the scratches just in the finish or are they sort of deep scratches in the wood boards themselves?
LIBBY: No, they’re not deep scratches. Just from like – just everyday wear, mostly. They’re in really good shape. One room that’s not used very much is in I mean excellent – it looks almost brand new. But the other, there’s – it’s just normal, everyday kind of wear.
TOM: Alright. So here’s what you can do, Libby. You don’t have to belt-sand the floors, which is the way – when you totally refinish them, you take all the old finish off and you grind down an 1/8-inch of material. You don’t have to do that. What you can do is you could just lightly sand the upper surface of the finish and then put another layer or two of urethane over that.
The best way to do that is with a floor buffer and a sanding screen. Now, you can go to a tool-rental place and you can rent a floor buffer and then you can purchase sanding screens, which are these screens that are about 18 inches in diameter. Looks kind of like window-screen material but it’s abrasive.
And there’s two sides to it, so you can use one side, flip it over, then use the other side. And you position it underneath the floor buffer and as you use the buffer in the room, it lightly abrades the surface of the old floor. That takes out the dirt and the grime. It takes off some of the old – any old wax, that kind of stuff. And it’ll start to take out the scratches and that kind of evens it out and cleans it up. Then you vacuum it or damp-mop all that dust up. And then you can apply two layers of urethane.
Now, I’ll give you a trick of the trade. The first layer should be a high gloss, because the glossy urethane is harder than satin. So put the first layer of high gloss and maybe even a second layer of high gloss but your last layer could be satin. And that will give you a nice, even, soft finish and still be as hard as possible.
LIBBY: Oh, OK. I will see if I can get someone to help me with that.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and Podcast. It’s available on your local radio station, as well as your favorite major podcast app.
Up next, are you trying to get your home in tip-top shape before the hordes of visitors show up? Well, hiring a handyman to help with those minor fix-ups can really take a lot off your plate. We’re going to share tips on how you can do just that, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Look around your house right now. We know if you do one little spin, you’re going to see something that’s got to get done but maybe you don’t know how to do it. Well, pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
LESLIE: Well, now that the calendar kind of officially says winter, are you finding that your mind is really thinking about spring? It happens. We like the way you think, guys, because we’re all looking forward to the warmer weather. Well, if you call now with your home improvement question, we’ve got a great giveaway for those warmer days that, I promise, are ahead.
We’ve got the QUIKRETE Walkmaker Form. Now, it’s an easy and affordable way that you can add a beautiful, durable concrete walkway or even a patio to your home. It’s definitely a do-it-yourself project that anybody can handle. You’ve just got to pour a mixed QUIKRETE Crack-Resistant Concrete into this Walkmaker Form, smooth it with a trowel and then remove the form when the concrete is thumbprint-hard. Keep doing this until you have enough pieces to make up that walkway or the patio. So it’s really a great DIY project. It comes out fantastically.
You can check it out all online at QUIKRETE.com. And you can get it in a bunch of different patterns: country stone, basket weave, brick bond, European. Check it out, again: QUIKRETE.com. But remember, give us a call for your chance to win.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Carol in Texas is working on a painting project. How can we lend a hand?
CAROL: We are painting our bathroom cabinets. They are – they were put in the bathroom in 1980-something. I’m not sure about the date. We bought this house – the people lived in it 28 years and we’ve been here almost 9 years. And they’re kind of a maple color and they’re not very attractive. I’ve used that Orange Glo on them trying to make them look better. I don’t know what they used on them. Probably Liquid Gold or something trying to bring out the sheen.
But it’s just almost beyond the point. And I’d like to have new cabinets but when we do, we’re probably going to have to redo the whole bathroom, so we decided we would paint them kind of an off-white color.
What we want to know is: what’s the approach to making that paint stay on?
LESLIE: Now, you said that the cabinets are a maple color. Are they actually wood and they’re stained?
CAROL: Yeah, that’s the stain on them. They’re stained.
LESLIE: So they’re stained wood. It’s not like a Thermofoil that looks like wood or a laminate? It’s wood.
CAROL: No, it’s real wood. They’re real wood cabinets.
LESLIE: Now, if they’ve been stained and restained over the course of a couple of years and you’ve got a lot of coatings of a cleaner on there, your best bet would be – and this is how I would kind of tackle it. I would remove the doors and the drawer fronts, being very careful about labeling which goes where, you know? A little piece of painters tape on the back side and a little piece on the hinge saying, “A-A,” or “1-1,” just so you know exactly where things go back.
And I would leave the hinges either on the door or on the box. It’s kind of easier to leave them on the box, just for painting issues. And this way, you know exactly where everything goes back; that just kind of keeps things tidy.
And then, you really need to get some of that sheen off. So you could do it a couple of different ways. You could use something that’s like a liquid sandpaper that you wipe on that gets rid of some of that sheen. But if it’s a super-high gloss and they’ve been oiled or polished over the years and they’re very sort of gunked up, almost, with a lot of finish on them, you may want to sand them down a little bit. Because you need to get down to something that’s a little bit not so glossy and so built up from years of cleaning and just the yuck that happens in the bathroom, just so that you’ve got a surface that the paint’s going to stick to.
And once you’ve done that to the doors or drawer fronts and the boxes themselves in the bathroom, you need to prime it very well with a high-quality primer. I would use KILZ or Zinsser – one of those that’ll stick very, very well – let that dry very thoroughly and then go ahead with your topcoat paint. And because it’s in a bathroom and because it’s a high-moisture area and it’s something that you’re going to want to be cleaning a lot, I would go with a glossy finish and an oil base if I can get my hands on one. If not, a glossy latex will do the trick but more durable, of course, would be the oil base.
CAROL: Thank you and I appreciate your help.
TOM: Carol, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, now that it’s getting super close to the holidays, do you have a couple of last-minute projects to get done but no time to do them? Hiring a handyman really is a great option. But how do you go about finding one that can get the project done well, on time, on budget? We’ve got some tips to help you do just that, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.
Now, first of all, you’ve got to understand that a handyman service is very different than a contractor. Now, these workers often take different approaches to initial consultations and fees. But using a handyman can really be super affordable. In fact, HomeAdvisor reports that most homeowners tend to pay between $177 and $647 for a completed project. So it’s a great option for those jobs that don’t call for any major remodeling but you still need to get them done and you don’t feel comfortable doing them yourself.
TOM: Now, it’s important, though, that you understand how you’re being charged for a handyman’s services, because it’s not all the same. You could be charged based on an hourly rate or a flat rate, depending on the project. And deciding which depends on the known and also the unknown factors of a job.
So, for example, if the contractor is hired to hang a ceiling light, it’s a pretty straightforward job. The average handyman is going to know how long it’ll take to do that and what tools are going to be needed. But if the job involves repairing drywall after a water leak, not so much. It’s not straightforward. You don’t know what you’re going to find when you get that ceiling torn out. So in that case, it might be hourly.
Now, for small jobs, pros could also charge you a minimum rate. And that’s fair because they do have the time and expense of getting to and from your home, even if a job only takes 10 minutes to complete. But whichever way you go, it’s very important to agree on price ahead of time. As long as you can provide sufficient details about the job, a handyman should be able to give you a pretty firm quote, in writing, before starting any project.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And here are a couple ideas that can help you keep those costs down, as well. You should try and clear the furniture and any other obstacles that are around the area where the project’s going to happen, because this makes the handyman’s job easier. And if you’re paying hourly, it reduces the amount of time that’s actually spent at the job and not prepping to do the job.
Now, if you’ve got a bunch of small projects, combine them into one service call. Maybe you’re replacing a medicine cabinet, changing a doorknob on an interior door or fixing a drippy faucet. You can save more money by hiring that handyman to take care of all of them in one day instead of paying for three separate visits.
And remember, shop around. Because three quotes? That’s usually sufficient. You’ll get a good idea. But remember, just because something is the lowest price doesn’t mean it’s always the best deal. You might end up paying more in the long run for something that might need to be redone or take longer to happen.
And also, keep in mind some agencies offer discounts for seniors, veterans, the disabled. Whatever it is, they’re going to list this in their ads and it can be a major selling point for their services. So keep an eye out for these things and take your time and find the right person.
TOM: And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com. With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free. No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got John in Missouri on the line with a garage question. Tell us what’s going on.
JOHN: This drainage has caused the one part of the garage slab to drop.
JOHN: And we knew it when we bought the house. It’s gotten a little worse every year. And I guess my big question is: what are my options as far as repairing it? And then, what I’ve – kind of look into – I haven’t gotten anybody out to look at it and give me estimates yet. Is mudjacking and curing (ph) it as opposed to just not doing anything – and then when it’s too bad, just ripping out the concrete and repouring another slab. So I guess that’s the question that I have.
TOM: The fact that you had all these contractors come out and look at the slab and look at the house and give you a whole wide range of solutions is typical. When you call somebody that’s in the concrete-repair business, they’re going to come out and recommend a concrete repair. So you were very smart to call in the independent, professional home inspector and therein got the correct advice – was simply fix the drainage and everything else will take care of itself.
JOHN: The best 500 bucks I ever spent in my life.
TOM: Exactly. So now that you fixed the drainage, you’ve got this slab that’s settled down and you’re wondering, “What do I do with it?” I would not recommend, with a garage slab, doing anything as expensive as mudjacking or anything of that nature. The cost of that procedure is not worth just trying to save the slab. That slab will break up very, very easily – surprisingly easily – with a jackhammer or even a sledgehammer, frankly.
And you would tear that out, relevel the floor, compress it, pack it properly and pour a new slab. So that’s the most cost-effective and permanent, long-term solution. Everything else would – I think would be a waste of money and very speculative.
JOHN: Thank you. I appreciate that. Like I said, I haven’t had anybody come out and really look at it yet. It’s kind of one of those ankle-biter kind of things that …
TOM: Well, here’s what’s going to happen, John. If you have somebody that’s in the mudjacking business come out there, they’re going to say, “Hey, you need mudjacking,” OK? If you have a mason come out there and he tells you to tear it out and put a new one in, I’d agree with that. I think that’s the best thing to do.
John, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Give us a call anytime with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This time of year with the holidays, I never sleep. I’m usually wrapping something or painting, so one of us will definitely answer the phone.
Up next, have you ever had something go wrong in your home that even the pros can’t figure out? We’re going to tell you about a problem we solved for a listener in seconds that three electricians had missed, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your how-to question, your DIY dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
Hey, do you need new flooring in your kitchen or bath? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job for free.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to Georgia where Robin is dealing with a porch issue. What’s going on with the cement?
ROBIN: The back of the cement porch, where it meets the house, has sunk down from the brick about an inch and maybe as much as 2 inches in some places. And then, up the wall, the brick has also got lines in it, in some places, that have dropped down, as well. And you can see where the brick has dropped down under the windows.
TOM: OK. So what’s happening here is settlement and it’s happened slowly, probably over a number of years. And typically, what happens in porches is – you know, you frame the outside sort of foundation wall of the porch and then you pour the concrete last. And sometimes, when they backfill the porch, it doesn’t compress properly or sometimes you get organic debris in there, like tree stumps and that sort of thing. And then they, of course, rot away, you get voids and then the porch drops.
So the question is: can you patch something that has dropped 2 inches? And my answer is no. It’s too much to patch. So, you really have two choices. You can temporarily seal those gaps. The only purpose in doing this is to stop some of the water that might collect from rainfall of running in there and making the matter worse. But it really is a very temporary fix.
The proper thing to do would be to have that concrete floor torn out. Once it’s torn out, you’ll be able to work on the brick wall that’s sagging underneath. The bricks would probably be sitting on top of a ledge of a foundation. I don’t know why they’re dropping but you need to investigate that, rebuild the bricks up under the window and then pour a new concrete floor on properly tamped, properly compacted base.
That’s really all you can do at this point because you can’t patch something – you can’t put a layer on it of additional concrete to kind of fill that in. It just won’t stay. It won’t look right. OK, Robin?
ROBIN: OK. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Robin. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, have you ever had something go wrong in your home that you find even the pros just can’t figure out what’s happening? It can be pretty frustrating and can also be pretty expensive. Well, we’re going to tell you about a problem that Tom solved for a listener in seconds that three electricians had missed.
So, Tom, what exactly happened?
TOM: So, Larry wrote me about his garage. And the story was he had five outlets that were dead, including the one his freezer was on, which I’m guessing led to a bunch of spoiled food. The circuit breakers, though, they were all on; none of them had tripped. And there were no GFCIs found. There were no ground faults found. And three electricians were called and not a single one could figure it out. So it was quite a perplexing problem for Larry.
Now, having heard this and having sort of been down these roads for many years – and specifically, this one before – I knew that there had to be a GFCI. Now, what that stands for is ground-fault circuit interrupter. And you guys might recognize this as the outlet that has the little test and reset button it.
And basically, what it does is if there’s something plugged into this that has a short in it – which is a diversion of current to a ground source, which could be you getting a shock – it will instantly turn off before anybody gets hurt. And when homes are built, one of the things that builders will do is they’ll put a ground fault in one of the outlets and then have it control all the outlets that sort of are following that.
And I knew there just had to be one here. So I said to Larry, “Look, there’s got to be – it’s got to be there. I want you to look not only in the garage but I want you to look in your basement, your kitchen, your bathroom and outside. Basically, every place that there’s a wet location, you could have a ground fault. And who knows where this builder put it?”
So, he did and literally, like a couple hours later, he wrote me and said, “I found it.” Where’d he find it? In the garage but not on the wall. He found it behind a garage-wall cabinet. So somebody actually had covered the outlet – the ground-fault outlet – with a cabinet.
LESLIE: That’s so crazy.
TOM: Well, one of the things I mentioned to him is there has to be an outlet on every wall. And when he saw a wall that didn’t have an outlet, he said, “Ha. I wonder.” And sure enough, it was behind the wall cabinet.
Now, the other part of this story, which is interesting, is not only did I help him find it, I told him why – how it tripped in the first place. Because you remember when I told you when he described the situation, he said he has a freezer? Well, you can never, ever put a refrigerator or a freezer on a ground-fault circuit. Because when the compressors kick on and off, they pull so much power that they kind of fake-out the ground fault and the ground fault thinks that somebody’s getting a shock and it turns off the circuit.
So, now, Larry is very happy. Of course, he’s got to now find, I guess, a place to store whatever was in that cabinet. But this cabinet’s down, the electrical circuit is restored and he is ready to run a new outlet just for that freezer.
But sometimes, that’s how it goes. But I told Larry, “Well, the good news is you got it straightened out. And you also found the three electricians you will never, ever hire for a project at your house.” Because those guys should have figured this out.
LESLIE: You can reach us anytime, 24/7, right here at 888-MONEY-PIT with your home repair or your home improvement question.
Well, according to that Farmers’ Almanac, you should be expecting no fewer than seven big snowstorms from coast to coast this winter. That is terrible news, especially if you’re tired of shoveling. You know what? Now would be a great time to invest in a snow blower. It seems like we’re going to be using them a lot. We’re going to share some tips to choose the best one for your job, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. Never worry about overpaying for a job. Just use the HomeAdvisor True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. It’s all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: But first, pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’d love to help you out. We’d love to give some prizes, as well, this hour. And we’ve got one, especially if you’re the type of person that though the calendar says winter and it might be snowing outside, you’ve already got your mind on some summer projects. You’re thinking like, “Hmm, maybe if I get a project planned for the spring, the weather will get here faster.” So here’s your chance.
We’ve got, up for grabs, the QUIKRETE Walkmaker Form. Now, it’s basically a form that you put some mixed QUIKRETE into. And once it’s hardened, you can just pop it out of the form, keep making them over and over and over again until you’ve got enough to create a walkway or a patio.
It’s a super-great do-it-yourself project. The patterns are country stone, basket weave, running brick bond, European. Check them all out at QUIKRETE.com. You can see out how it works. But remember, head on over to MoneyPit.com, ask your question, call us with your question for your chance to win.
TOM: The QUIKRETE Walkmaker is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, with your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: We’re going to Mike in Michigan who’s got some concerns about working in the cooler temps.
MIKE: I heard a rumor that there’s sealant that can be applied in much colder temperatures. But upon my research, I haven’t found any company that sells it or has any knowledge of it.
TOM: You talking about caulk?
MIKE: Yeah. To seal joints and cracks.
TOM: Well, generally, the solvent-based caulks can be used in a lot lower temperatures than the latex-based caulks. Are you using silicone caulks?
MIKE: No, we’re also using polyurethane.
TOM: You might want to look at the silicone products. Now, this is nothing special; it’s not a new type of product. But I know that some painters use these down to 0 degrees.
Now, the trick is keeping it warm enough to apply it so it flows well. But if you can keep the caulking tube warm and then go outside and use it, the application should be OK down to almost 0 degrees, as I recall.
MIKE: OK. And the freeze/thaw cycle, I know, is water turns to ice, it expands. That will not expand the sealant being wet?
TOM: No. Because it’s solvent-based. You don’t have the same expansion issues.
MIKE: OK. And how well does that level out? Do you have to more or less putty it in and smooth it out yourself?
TOM: It is more difficult to level out because of the cold temperature. As you know, if you’ve ever used this kind of thing on warm day, it flows really nicely. But because it’s chilly, it definitely doesn’t flow as well. But if you’re skilled with the caulk gun, you should be fine with it. And cleanup is a little bit more difficult, as well. But again, it comes down to your skill and I’m sure if you’re doing it all these years that you’d be able to overcome that issue.
MIKE: Yes, yes. We’re just looking – when we heard about it, we figured, well, if we can get another month or two out of the season of doing sealing, we can make more money each year by doing so.
LESLIE: There’s also a product out there called a “caulk warmer.” And it looks like a – sort of like an insulated lunchbox but it’s more like an envelope-style. And you can hold two to five tubes, depending on which size you get. And that can help you keep the caulk at a flowable temperature while you’re getting ready to work.
MIKE: Oh, OK. I appreciate all your help and assistance. You folks have a great day.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, since 1792, the Farmers’ Almanac has been predicting weather with, get this, an impressive 80-percent accuracy rate. And they say we should expect no fewer than seven major snowstorms, you know. No big deal.
TOM: Yuck. Well, if that’s got you motivated to start thinking about buying a snow blower or if you’re like me and your snow-shoveling teenagers are away at college, here’s a few things to know that will help you find the one that’s going to work best for you.
And by the way, if you’re listening to this, right now, from the beaches of Hawaii or Miami, you just wipe that little smirk off your face and think about how lucky you are for a second while we help the rest of America, who’s really freezing right now.
LESLIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And we’re all coming to visit you in Hawaii. We know where you live. We’re coming.
But guess what, guys? There’s actually two types of snow-clearing machines: a snow blower and a snow thrower. And they’re two different things.
Now, a single-stage machine is called a “thrower,” because that’s what it does. It picks up the snow and then sends it out the chute in one motion or stage. Now, two-stage machines are called “snow blowers,” because it moves the snow twice. First, a metal auger is going to scoop up the snow and ice and then a high-speed impeller is going to throw it out through the discharge tube.
Now, the auger on these bigger machines, it doesn’t touch the ground. It’s better for if you’ve got a gravel or concrete surface. Plus, they feature taller buckets that are capable of inhaling bigger snowdrifts. So you’ve got to really think about the type of surface and the amount of snow.
TOM: So if you’re trying to decide between the options, you want to think about the area that you have to clear, the amount of snow you expect to get in that surface. The single-stage snow throwers are typically about 19 to 22 inches wide but the width isn’t as important as the height of these machines.
Also, you don’t want to use a single-stage snow thrower on a gravel surface. And if you’re frequently battling those 12-inch snow drifts or you need to clear large, deep areas of snow, then maybe you might go for the bigger, two-stage snow blower.
LESLIE: Now, most snow blowers are going to run on gas but there are electric versions of single-stage snow throwers available, which is great if you’ve got small areas like a deck or steps where a gas-powered machine just isn’t going to fit.
And also, safety is super important when you’re using a snow blower. You’ve got very powerful blades that move at very high speeds. Now, the safety check starts before that first flake falls. Now, before it does snow, you’ve got to clear the driveway of all downed branches, toys, newspapers, any other debris that could be a hazard.
And you want to make sure that you know the location of all the landscape light fixtures that are positioned along the edge of the driveway, because you don’t want to run them over with that snow blower. And never, never, never clear a clogged impeller or auger with your hand. You’ve got to turn off the engine and then use a wooden stick to dislodge whatever is clogging it.
TOM: Yeah. Very important because the machine can move, even when it’s off, as soon as that stuck object is removed. Sometimes, there’s built-up pressure and it will just move forward and can be very dangerous. So make sure you’re very, very careful when you’re clearing those clogs.
LESLIE: 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online for free.
And coming up, if you’re feeling a chill from all this winter weather, perhaps it’s time to install a storm door. They can be tremendously helpful, so we’re going to share some tips if you’re considering one for your money pit.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question at MoneyPit.com, just like Rich did.
LESLIE: That’s right. Rich writes: “I recently installed a new fiberglass entry door that looks great. We’ve considered installing a storm door outside for additional protection and so we can have full-view glass door during the warmer months. I’ve heard, though, that I need to vent the door so it doesn’t warp or ruin our entry door. If so, how do I do this or should I just skip the storm door altogether?”
TOM: It’s interesting that you think that you would have to vent a storm door, right? Because isn’t the idea of a storm door to stop the drafts? So why would you need to vent the storm door?
LESLIE: Create one.
TOM: Right. But there is some truth to all of this. Now, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the fiberglass doors. But when you have a metal door, typically you have, for example, this – a trim around the window, like a vinyl trim around the window. And when you put a storm door over that, you get sort of this greenhouse effect where the door will overheat. That space in front of the door will overheat. In fact, sometimes it gets so hot that when you try to grab the handle from the inside, it feels like you’re going to burn your hand.
Now, the thing is, though, with fiberglass doors, you don’t need a storm door. It’s good enough as it is. Fiberglass doors are far more insulated than metal doors or wooden doors. So you can skip the storm door for that reason.
Now, you did mention in the summer, certainly you could put a screen door on this for ventilation. In fact, I have a fiberglass door on our office door. And it’s a beautiful door. It looks just like wood, because it has that sort of an impression, that sort of style and design to it. But we put in a sort of hideaway screen door so that it kind of snaps back into a roll on the side.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s smart.
TOM: So we don’t even have to have the actual frame of the door. It just sort of pulls out and it provides a nice ventilation.
But you do not need a storm door with fiberglass. And if you do have one, you may very well shorten the life of the finish on that fiberglass, just because of all the additional exposure and heat that’s going to log into that.
LESLIE: Alright. Good point.
Next up, we’ve got a post here from Josh in Michigan. Now, Josh writes: “In my bathroom, I’ve been having some problems with what looks like drips on the wall. The drips are sometimes a yellowish color and more noticeable after the shower. Is this a venting problem?”
TOM: Well, probably. I mean you get a lot of humidity in this space because it’s not vented well enough. You are going to get the water running against the walls or condensing against the walls. It will pick up the mineral deposits that were there from showers of long ago, which could be yesterday or the month before. And it will dry with those salts and create those sort of colorful drips.
This thing is, though, if you deal with the environment, which is the high-humid environment that you are, that’s not going to be as much of a problem. You’ll also find that it’s not going to be moldy, right? It’s just going to be a lot more pleasant of a space.
So, what I would recommend that you do, in this case, is replace or add, if you don’t have it, a bathroom-vent fan. But not just any fan. You want to make sure that the switching on it has a humidistat. Because if it runs on a humidistat, even when you leave the bathroom after the shower is done, the fan will keep running until the moisture’s gone. Because most of us will just turn off that fan when we leave the bathroom. But that’s kind of counterproductive, because the humidity is still there.
LESLIE: Yeah. You do really have to run that vent fan after the shower. You know, so many times my kids will just bust out of the bathroom and you can see the steam kind of come out after you. It really sticks around. So you want to make sure you run it well after to get all of that steam and moisture out of the bathroom, just to keep things in tip-top shape in there.
Plus, you want to really make sure that the vent fan is vented outside. You don’t want to put all that moist air into the attic because it then ends up making your insulation less efficient. And that causes a whole bunch of other problems.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending this part of your holiday – and yes, I call it a “holiday,” because we’re getting so close every weekend feels like the holiday now – with us. If you’ve got questions that we can help you with when it comes to taking on your home chores, your projects, give us a call, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question 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 2019 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)