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 happy to be here, on this warm summer weekend, to talk home improvement and remodeling and décor with you. If you’ve got a project that you’re thinking about getting done, we’d love to help. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, 24/7. It doesn’t really matter when you’re hearing this show; whether it’s weekend or weekday, we are always available at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back when we are, so why not give it a shot right now? Pick up the phone, call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, because we would love to help.
Coming up on today’s show, there are not many downsides to summer but the occasional severe summer storm, well, that probably could be one. We’re going to have the step-by-step you need to take to make sure passing storms haven’t left home repair havoc in their wake for you to deal with.
LESLIE: And now that we’re in the heat of summer, there’s a lot of talk about ways to improve the energy efficiency of your air-conditioning system. Well, truth is having the most energy-efficient system ever built won’t matter much if you don’t maintain it. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to make sure your system is running at peak efficiency.
TOM: And concrete landscape borders can be a decorative, functional and affordable addition to your yard or garden. And they’re actually a lot easier to build than you might think. We’re going to have the steps you’ll need to get that project done.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’ve got a very fun tool to give away. It’s the iconic, American-made prize package, which includes the Arrow T50 Electric Staple Gun and Nailer, plus the Arrow Dual-Temperature Glue Gun with staples and glue sticks.
TOM: So, if you want to win, you’ve got to call in your question or post it to the community site, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That Arrow prize package going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Texas is on the line and has a question about a roof. What’s going on?
BOB: Well, we’ve had a long drought out here in West Texas. And we finally got some rain and lo and behold, I have a leak. And I remember tuning into your show some time ago where you guys mentioned a product that was clear that could be applied with a paintbrush that would penetrate through the roof and then seal it. And I could not or I did – I couldn’t remember the name of the product. And I’ve been trying to find it here in Lubbock, Texas and having no luck at all. And I just thought, “Well, I just need to call you guys and see if you can remember that and tell me what it is.”
TOM: Well, Bob, that’s going to be a bit of a mystery to me because it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that we would recommend for roof leaks. But let me just ask you more about this leak. Do you know where it’s occurring? Do you know if it’s coming through, say, a cracked shingle or is it coming around a chimney? Is it coming around a pipe? What do you know about it?
BOB: Where the slope of my roof joins my patio. And the patio roof is flat. So, I’m thinking probably what’s happening is it’s backing into the den past the wall but …
TOM: Right. Yeah. That’s a tough spot to flash. And it’s also a tough spot to do a sort of an easy patch repair to it. You know, all these types of roof products that you apply after the fact, they’re usually asphalt roof cement. And they’ll work for a while but they tend to dry up pretty quickly. When you have an intersection like that where you have a pitched roof that comes into a low-slope or a flat roof, you’re right: the water can back up there and do the force of kind of against gravity and due to that force can actually sort of work its way up into the roof surface.
The right way to flash that – and you’re not going to want to hear this – but the right way to flash that is to have the flat roof basically go right up and under the roof shingles. So the flat-roof material would go to that intersection and then up and under the roof shingles and probably up maybe 3 feet under them. And then the roof shingles would continue over that, creating a big overlap there where it would be virtually impossible for any water to back into it. And I would start that project with a product called “ice-and-water shield,” which is sort of a tacky, 3-foot-wide, roll-on sheet that literally glues itself to the deck surface and will stop all water from getting through. So that’s the best way to do a permanent repair to that.
Short of that, it’s OK for you to use an asphalt cement product to try to patch it. But I’m just concerned that it’s something you may have to do time and time again. If it does develop that way, then maybe you could choose to make the bigger repair later.
BOB: And you say that that is ice-and-water shield?
TOM: Yes, ice-and-water shield. Yep. That’s the right first step for that and that goes underneath the roof shingles. Nice thing about that, too, is if you ever have roof shingles that blow off, your roof still won’t leak because it remains watertight.
BOB: Well, I certainly appreciate your help with that.
TOM: Alright, Bob. Well, thanks so much for calling.
LESLIE: Renee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RENEE: My question is concerning my sump pump. Obviously, a sump pump in the basement. And for a long time – for several months, I had not heard the sump pump going on. A few weeks – a few months ago, when it was raining very hard, I went down to the basement to see why the sump pump wasn’t kicking on and it was the well was filled with water. So, I went ahead and I drained the water out by bucketing – taking buckets of this, pouring buckets of water out until I got down to see where the ball was. And it still wouldn’t come on. So I tapped the ball and eventually, when the water rose, it did kick on again.
But then now I’m hearing this gurgling sound in my kitchen-sink piping. And I want to know why.
TOM: Where is the sump pump discharging? Is it discharging into this basement sink?
RENEE: The sump pump discharges – it’s connected to the outside sewer line. And that’s – I guess that sewer – the line is connected to the basement – the kitchen sink.
TOM: OK. So first of all, it has to go through a trap. If it doesn’t go through a trap, you may get sewage gas that comes back into the basement. So that’s the first thing.
Secondly, the gurgling might just – because it doesn’t have enough water in the sump itself. You’re probably pulling a lot of air in there.
And thirdly, because your sump pump was filling up when you had heavy rain, the source of that water is easily within your ability to repair and stop. Generally, when your sump pump fills up after a heavy rain, it’s because your gutters are clogged or overflowing or your downspouts are not discharging away from the foundation. Or the soil around the house is not sloping away from the outside walls. That’s what causes problems with water filling up in basements and floods in a sort – because that outside surface drainage is just not set up right.
So I would focus on improving your exterior drainage. There’s a great article on MoneyPit.com about how to solve wet basements. A lot of that advice applies to this. And then you’ll find that the sump pump will have to run that much less.
RENEE: OK. That’s great news.
TOM: Renee, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Tennessee where Daniel is dealing with carpenter bees and of course, those lovely, perfectly round, bored holes that they love to make all over your wood house. What’s going on?
DANIEL: Ah, well, I’ve got these carpenter bees that keep drilling holes into my fascia board right there underneath my roof. And I filled them in and I’ve repainted and they keep coming back. I don’t know if there’s maybe something I can do to prevent that or something I can use to paint it with.
TOM: Yeah, a couple of things you can do. First of all, in terms of stopping the bees from coming back, you would have to have the carpenter bees professionally treated with a proper insecticide that will basically exterminate what’s there. Now, even if you did do that, though, they may come back the next season.
A surefire way to make sure they don’t come back is to replace your wood trim with something that’s not wood. I had this exact problem on a garage on our property and I simply replaced the wood trim with AZEK – A-Z-E-K. And there are other brands, as well, but basically, it’s a cellular PVC material that looks like wood, cuts like wood but the carpenter bees can’t eat it. In fact, it was very humorous to me because after I replaced the fascia with AZEK, the bees kept circling it but they couldn’t figure out why it didn’t taste like wood.
LESLIE: It’s like, “This looks like wood. I don’t understand.”
DANIEL: Yeah, that would actually be absolutely worth doing just to see them circle and …
TOM: In frustration, yeah. Alright? I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. 888-MONEY-PIT is 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.
TOM: And just ahead, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods. Mother Nature works overtime during the summer. But after they’ve passed, how do you know if your home has been damaged? We’re going to tell you how to give your house a thorough post-storm checkup, after this.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home repair or décor question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
And if you do, we’ve also got a set of handy tools going out to one listener drawn at random. We’re giving away an Arrow prize package consisting of the Arrow T50 Electric Staple Gun and Nailer, plus the Arrow Dual-Temperature Glue Gun, along with a supply of staples and glue sticks. The package is worth 95 bucks. Going out to one caller that reaches us with their question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And these are two tools that are super useful for a lot of things around the house. But there’s some really fun projects that you can build and all the step-by-step is on ArrowFastener.com. And this month, they are featuring the DIY patriotic flag. It’s a great project for the entire family. You can get all of those instructions, including the materials list and photos and all those details, at ArrowFastener.com. Just click on Projects.
Two great tools, from a company that’s been making products in America for almost 90 years, going out to one listener. The number, again: 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tony in North Carolina is on the line with a water-heating question. What can we do for you today?
TONY: My wife and I are in the process of – I guess we’re trying to gather as much information as we can. About to build another home in the next few months and we very much are interested in some of the ENERGY STAR features that we are – have been seeing.
Just wondering, is it feasible for us – there’s only four of us in the home – to install the tankless water heater or would we be wasting money there?
TOM: A tankless water heater is an excellent option for a family of four or even more. You buy the tankless water heater based on the number of bathrooms in the house. And the advantage is that you’re only using it to heat the water as you need it. A tank water heater keeps all of that water hot, 24-7, whether you’re using it or not. A tankless water heater fires on demand and heats water as it passes across its heat exchanger, essentially. So I do think that a tankless water heater is a good technology for you to consider.
And how perfect that you’re building a home now and can plan it. One of the most common complaints we get – that you might want to consider, Tony – is people complain that it takes too long for their water to get hot in the morning. So, the reason that happens is because the water heater is very far away from the bathroom. That is a condition that would continue even with a tankless but the advantage is that since the tankless water heaters are very small and can also be direct-vented through the exterior siding, that you could actually have the water heater more centrally located to the bathrooms. So that when you do turn the water on in the morning, you’re not waiting very long for that water to actually get there.
TONY: OK. I thank you so much for it.
TOM: Tony, good luck with that project. Keep us posted. Let us know how you make out.
LESLIE: Pat in Louisiana is on the line and needs some help with a cleaning project. What can we do for you?
PAT: We had our carpet cleaned about a year ago. And in this bedroom, we have a heavy, clear, plastic mat that goes underneath the computer chair.
PAT: Well, recently, I moved it over a bit and I noticed that it was wet underneath it.
PAT: There’s no leak in the roof; water hasn’t come in the house. So only thing that could be is a year ago, the water from the carpet-cleaning service got underneath this mat and it’s been there all this time.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
PAT: So, we cut out a large circle, like a 5-foot circle and got all the part out that was wet. So we’re going to have to replace the carpet and the pad. But on the concrete – the bare concrete – there are some spots of discoloration, so I don’t know if that’s mold or mildew. My question is: how do I clean that concrete before we have the new carpet installed?
TOM: The concrete spots, if anything, are mineral-salt deposits; it’s not mold.
TOM: And so, it’s really cosmetic at this point. If you can wash it down with a vinegar-and-water solution, it’ll melt the mineral-salt deposits away.
But the other thing that occurs to me is sometimes, concrete will draw moisture into a house. And so if anywhere near that area outside, you’ve got water that’s ponding or collecting, it’s possible for the concrete to sort of draw that moisture up into the slab and across. And it may not have been able to evaporate where the pad was covering the concrete, which is why that area stayed damp, whereas the other area dried out. So there may be a different explanation as to why that stayed wet.
One of the things that you might want to do, since you have the carpet pulled all the way back, is to paint the concrete. Paint that area with an epoxy paint. That will seal in that concrete and stop some of the evaporation if the moisture is being drawn through it and up into the floor surface.
PAT: So, should I – we paint the whole room? We don’t have all of the carpet up yet; we just cut out the middle part.
TOM: Well, if you’re going to take all the carpet up, then paint the whole floor. If you’re only going to take part of it up, then just paint what you can get to. But I would definitely paint the floor.
TOM: That’ll do it. Pat, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it doesn’t matter what part of the country you live in, your home is probably going to get clobbered by a serious storm at some point during its lifetime. So you need to be prepared. You need to inspect your home and check for damage. And here’s some advice on how you do that.
TOM: Yeah. It’s going to be easy to spot things like broken windows. But some easy-to-miss things could add up to really big trouble down the road. So, you want to look for bulging walls or doors that won’t close or new cracks that are forming on the interior walls. That could mean your foundation flooded and you’re going to need to call in a pro to get a sense as to how far the damage has gone.
LESLIE: Now, you should also take note if any electrical appliances got wet or if water has breached your heating system. Both are reasons to call in a pro for repair.
TOM: Lastly, grab a pair of binoculars and check out all sides of your home from the ground up. You want to look for wind damage, like loose siding and trim and soffit panels that are pulled off. It’s a lot easier to do this from the ground up, with binoculars, than up on a ladder. So a nice, careful way to figure out what’s wrong.
Make sure you document it all. Submit it to your insurance company or hire a public adjuster to represent you to the insurance company. Public adjusters work for you. They get a percentage of the claim. It’s usually well worth the expense to have somebody that really knows the insurance business – can make sure you get every dime that you’re entitled to if a storm passes through.
LESLIE: Alice in Maryland is on the line with an electrical question. What’s going on at your money pit?
ALICE: We are trying to determine whether it would be worthwhile to replace our service. Our house was built in 1976. We currently have 150-amp service underground. An electrician recommended that we upgrade to 200-amp service. And it’s a pretty big expense, so we were wondering if that’s a worthwhile choice.
LESLIE: Are you doing any sort of renovation that requires more power? Are you adding in central air, upgrading appliances? Is there a change happening that requires the power?
ALICE: We’ve done a lot of upgrading here in the past and this is just something that recently was recommended to us when we had just a ceiling fan installed by the electrician.
TOM: I have to say, Alice, that I think what your electrician is recommending you do is fund, perhaps, his next vacation or college-tuition payment. Because I don’t think going from 150 to 200 makes much difference.
You have a – is this a gas-fired house? You have natural gas?
ALICE: We have no gas in the area.
TOM: So this is all electric?
TOM: How are you heating your house? Is it a heat pump?
ALICE: We have a heat pump, yes.
TOM: And you have one zone or two? How many heat pumps do you have?
ALICE: One zone.
TOM: I’ve got to tell you, I think you probably have enough. Unless you can prove to me that he’s …
LESLIE: It sounds like there’s – it’s sufficient.
TOM: Yeah, unless you can prove to me that you’re really using more than 150 amps, I seriously doubt you need 200. That’s a lot of power, even for an all-electric house.
LESLIE: We had to upgrade to a 200-amperage service because we put in central air conditioning. We were only on 100 and that was that.
TOM: Yeah. Right. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And even 100, I’ve – I was an inspector for 20 years. I used to put a tool called an “amp probe” on those main cables when everything was running in the house. We’re talking about electric ovens, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners. And it would be a 150-amp service pulling 50, 60 amps with everything on. So, you’d be surprised how much you can pull through that.
TOM: I think you ought to get a second opinion.
ALICE: We were skeptical, so thought it was a …
TOM: Didn’t feel right.
ALICE: Definitely wanted to check into it before making that major expense.
TOM: Yeah. Yep. Yep, exactly. Well, thanks for calling. I’m glad we helped you out, Alice.
ALICE: Thank you. You’re a great resource. I really appreciate it.
LESLIE: Well, now that we are in the heat of summer, there’s a lot of talk about ways that you can improve the energy efficiency of your air-conditioning system. But the truth is having the most energy-efficient system ever built won’t matter much if you don’t take care of it. We’re going to tell you what you need to know, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Well, now that we are in the heat of summer, there’s a lot of talk about ways to improve the energy efficiency of your air-conditioning system. Now, truth is having the most energy-efficient system ever built won’t matter much if you don’t take care of it.
TOM: That’s right. Expert Dan DiClerico from HomeAdvisor joins us now with tips to do just that.
DAN: Hey, it’s good to be here, guys.
TOM: You know, I think a lot of folks focus on buying new, more efficient A/C systems but the truth is a lot can be gained just from taking care of the one you have, right?
DAN: Yeah, this is the engine of the home. I think with energy costs, we tend to focus on heating fuel. But in fact, keeping the average home cool, it’s about 15 percent of the total energy cost. And it certainly can be a lot higher in warmer regions or if it’s a particularly hot summer. So maintaining that central A/C system or even if it’s just room air conditioners – window units – is very important.
LESLIE: Now, do you think the maintenance that – are things that you could take care of yourself or do you have to bring in a pro? Or is there a split: some you do on your own and some you’ve got to bring the pro in for?
DAN: Yeah, this is a good kind of split approach here. It is a great idea, if you have a central A/C system, to have a professional tune-up once a year. I always say spend 200 bucks to save 5 or even 10,000. I mean that’s what a new central system is going to cost you. So bring in that professional once a year but then, throughout the season, there are a lot of things that you, the homeowner, can be doing to improve the efficiency, improve the indoor-air quality as a result. So, you’ve got to pay attention, for sure.
TOM: Alright. Let’s start by talking about the outside unit, because I think that’s what people love to ignore. They don’t understand exactly what role it plays. But that outside condenser is what really cools the refrigerant. So we need to keep that clear of debris because if you clog the sides of it, if you’ve got structures – I’ve seen fences built around them, I’ve seen leaves piled up against them, bushes too close. If you do that sort of thing, it can’t work well. It works – it may still cool your house but it’s working twice as hard and it’s also spinning that electric meter a lot more frequently.
DAN: Exactly, yeah. So, once a month, go out there, clear any leaves or debris from around that condenser unit. That single step is going to really improve the overall efficiency of the unit.
LESLIE: Now, filters. I think a lot of times people forget that a lot of the machinery in their homes have a filter built into them. And sometimes, they need to be replaced or need to be maintained. How often? What types? Does it vary between a central-air system and a window unit? What should you be doing to maintain this quality of airflow?
DAN: Yeah, this is so important. I can’t tell you how many homeowners – often, first-time homeowners don’t even realize there are filters in there. So, yeah, it is so important. And again, it goes back to maintaining that sort of optimal efficiency but also the indoor-air quality. By replacing or cleaning those filters throughout the cooling season, you’re going to do both things there.
So, we do say at least once or a couple of times throughout the cooling season you need to either replace or oftentimes it can be – the filter itself can be cleaned. But this is a really important step to maintaining optimal efficiency.
TOM: We’re talking to Dan DiClerico, the expert with HomeAdvisor, about tips to cut your cooling expenses.
Now, aside from the maintenance of the equipment, there are things that you could do to kind of reduce solar gain, reduce that heat from actually getting into your house during those dog days of summer. Give us some tips in that space.
DAN: Yeah, so this goes from very simple to more complex. But during very hot summer days, just closing the curtains on windows, especially those that are receiving direct sunlight, this one step alone can reduce heat gain by as much as 30 percent, according to the Energy Department. So that’s a really simple thing you can do to cut your cooling costs.
TOM: And what’s old is new again. Window awnings are making a comeback now. And not only do they look great, they also help in reducing that sun that’s getting into the house, because that sun is so high in the summer. And so, if those window awnings are in place, that’s going to block a lot of that heat gain, as well.
DAN: Yeah, we’ve seen a real uptick in this project request. You’re going to spend some money – a couple thousand dollars – to install awnings but you’re absolutely right: it can improve the appearance of the home, it’s going to reduce that solar heat gain. Depending on where they’re located, they may be providing shade, if it’s over a deck or some sort of outdoor space. So awnings, yeah, are absolutely – they’re making a comeback for sure.
LESLIE: I feel like you can achieve a similar effect for the house by keeping things cools with adding landscaping. You add the right tree to the right side and you’ve got the same effect, right?
DAN: Absolutely, yeah. That deciduous shade tree, if it’s on the south or west side of the house, it’s going to be provide the same effect as an awning. It’s going to, again, improve the overall look and aesthetic of the home while improving its energy efficiency.
TOM: And finally, Dan, let’s talk about some new technology in roofing. Right now, we have opportunities to install a cool roof, which can lower the roof temperatures. And of course, if the roof stays cooler, then the entire house is cooler as a result. What exactly is a cool roof and how does it compare against, perhaps, the asphalt shingles that we’re all used to?
DAN: This is something that’s definitely trending more and more, especially if you’re in a renovation mode. If you’re replacing the roof already, going to some kind of a maybe highly reflective paint, a tile or a shingle, just that lighter color could improve the – lower the roof temps by up to 50 degrees. And that’s going to save energy, money throughout the year but especially during the hot summer months where you’re relying on the air conditioning more and more.
TOM: Great tips to help us cut cooling costs in summer. Dan DiClerico with HomeAdvisor.com, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
DAN: Thank you, guys. Great to be here.
TOM: And if you need to find a contractor to help you with home improvement projects – really, any home project – check out HomeAdvisor.com. They really have the best home pros available.
LESLIE: Alright. Dan DiClerico, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
Well, concrete landscape borders can be a decorative, functional and affordable addition to your yard or garden. And they’re actually a lot easier than you might think to build yourself. We’re going to have the steps to build this project, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’re proud to let you know that we just wrapped up a brand-new video with the team at Yale Locks and it’s all about how to align your door to make sure your smart lock works perfectly. You know, folks have been enjoying smart locks for a while now and they are really fantastic. The technology enables you to open your lock with just a keypad or with just your phone.
But what has been happening is that the doors that the smart locks are installed to can be out of alignment. And as a result, the locks may seem to rub, the battery life might be short. And that was the subject of the new video that we completed for Yale called “DIY Door Alignment for Smart Locks,” featuring the beautiful and talented Leslie Segrete, who pulled a trick of the trade right out of her pocketbook to show us how to adjust that door using lipstick.
LESLIE: Oh, I thank you, sir.
TOM: That was a great trick. Let’s talk about that one.
LESLIE: I wouldn’t recommend going into your lady’s handbag and stealing her favorite lipstick. Talk about it first before you pick it out of her bag. But definitely, a lipstick is a great way to figure out where the door is sticking. So you take your lipstick and you rub it on the deadbolt and then close the door. Open and close the deadbolt a couple of times and then you can see where it’s hitting and what’s misaligned. And I think the simplicity of fixing the alignment truly is easy to do yourself once you know where things are sort of jamming up. And it’s really hindering people from enjoying this amazing technology that Yale Lock has to offer.
So with a couple of a simple steps and some detective work at home, you can have these amazing locks from Yale work correctly and the door function correctly. And you’ll be so happy you did.
TOM: And the adjustments to the door are actually a lot easier than you think. There’s only a couple of ways doors fall out of alignment. And figuring out what exactly you need to do is pretty straightforward. We walk you through it step by and step, in the brand-new video called “DIY Door Alignment for Smart Locks.” And that is on the Yale Home YouTube channel. It’s at YouTube.com/YaleRealLiving. That’s YouTube.com/YaleRealLiving. Check it out, the “DIY Door Alignment for Smart Lock” video at the Yale YouTube page.
LESLIE: Pat in Nebraska is on the line with a dishwasher that has decided to take the day off. What’s going on?
PAT: Hi. Yes. Our dishwasher is on the blink, literally. It doesn’t seem to work anymore. And as I look at it, on the menu screen across the top, it’s blinking but doesn’t work when I hit the start button or cancel or open the door or shut it. Can’t get it to work anymore.
TOM: How old is the dishwasher, Pat?
PAT: I’d say about five years old.
TOM: That’s a shame.
LESLIE: It’s not that old.
PAT: Yes. We’ve gone through 4 of them since we’ve owned this house, in about 20 years.
TOM: Yeah. Wow.
PAT: Really amazed.
TOM: Yeah. And I’m sure a little annoyed, too.
PAT: My husband shut the power off and turned it back on and it still doesn’t seem to work. So, we opened and shut the door, everything. So we think it’s – I went online and there’s something about some kind of a board that can – like a motherboard or something.
TOM: Yeah. So that’s what I was thinking. It’s a failure of the control circuit and there’s a lot of electronic products in these newer appliances. And the question, of course, is: repair or replace? And at five years old, you’re kind of right at that sort of balance point. You might be able to repair it. The question is: is it going to be worth a couple hundred bucks to you to do that or would you rather take the 200 bucks and put it towards a new unit?
PAT: That’s what we weren’t sure. So that’s why we thought we’d give you a call.
TOM: I think if it was me, I’d probably not repair it only because what do you hope to get out of that? Eight years? Nine years? Having somebody come out to your house and fix anything these days is a couple hundred bucks minimum. So it would end up being a third of the cost of a new unit. You could find a decent dishwasher for 500 or 600 bucks. And you could find a basic one for even less.
PAT: So how much do you think the part would cost if …
TOM: We don’t know that that’s the part, you know? You have to have a service person diagnose it. But if you just wanted to satisfy your curiosity, there’s lots of websites online that sell appliance parts. And I’m sure you could find it. But the issue is that it’s a call to the service man to come out and diagnose it and that costs some money. And then a call – and then he has to come back after the part comes in. It’s not the kind of thing where they can keep these parts on the truck anymore, you know what I mean?
PAT: Uh-huh. So, well, we were wanting your expert opinion. We kind of were leaning that way, anyway.
TOM: I tell you what, if it was older, it would be a lot easier decision. I do agree that it’s still middle-aged. But I still don’t think it’s probably worth you putting the money into it.
PAT: Yes. Alright. Well, I guess we’ll go shopping for a new dishwasher.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, concrete landscape borders can be a decorative, functional and affordable addition to your yard or garden. And they’re actually a lot easier than you may think to build yourself.
Now, QUIKRETE makes a fiber-reinforced, crack-resistant concrete that’s perfect for this job. And you can even personalize your project by mixing in one of five QUIKRETE Liquid Cement colors. And it comes in red, brown, buff, charcoal and terracotta.
TOM: Now, here’s how you get this project done. The first thing you do is lay it out. And a little trick of the trade for that is to use a garden hose or a rope, because you can actually curve it to exactly where you want it to be. And then you want to dig out that border to a width of about 8 inches and a depth of about 4 inches. And make sure you tamp down the soil to create a base for the concrete border.
You want to stake the border with some 1x1x12-inch wood stakes. You’ll need 1 about every 18 inches. And then you can actually attach curbed forms using ¼-inch flexible hardwood or plywood and have them follow that border that you’ve just laid out.
Now, when you’re ready to pour the concrete, you want to mix it to sort of a firm but workable consistency. Pour it into the form and then use a trowel to spread it and solidate the mix. And once all of the water has sort of disappeared, you can smooth the surface with a wood float.
Now, once the concrete has cured, you want to apply an acrylic sealer to the surface. Let it cure for about three to five days and then you can remove the forms and you’re good to go. Just backfill against the border and you are all set.
You want more details on that project, including some videos, check out QUIKRETE.com. And while you’re there, be sure to check out QUIKRETE’s very popular Fast-Setting Concrete Mix in the red bag, a product I’m using this week. Want to replace the fence at my house. It works very well because you can put it into the hole dry. Set your post and pour a little water and you are good to go in, what, less than an hour. It sets really quickly and it’s a really – it’s 20 minutes. It really does a super job of keeping those posts in place.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Need new flooring in your kitchen or maybe your bathroom? Well, HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
TOM: You can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com or our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
We’ll be back with more of your questions and our answers, next.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And whether you’re buying, selling or just enjoying your home, we’re here for you every step of the way. Call in your home improvement or décor question now to 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: You can also post your questions online, just like Jerry-Mac did. So Jerry-Mac writes: “What do these deck-painting companies use to redo wood decks? They claim it will stain and protect the wood deck to the apocalypse. Can I get this product and just do it myself? What is it?”
TOM: Paint that will last until the apocalypse?
TOM: Now that I’ve got to see.
LESLIE: Unless they expect the apocalypse in three to five years and then again in another three to five years.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. Or even shorter.
I think what he’s referring to is a category of products that are known, technically, as “high-build products.”
TOM: They’re high-build elastomeric coatings. And high build is basically tech talk for thick paint. And the elastomeric is a type of product that will expand and contract with the substrate which, in this case, is your wood deck.
Now, they’ve been around for a long time. And about 20 years ago, we began hearing about companies who would make similar claims for a product called “liquid-vinyl siding” that I believe was a subject of much Federal Trade Commission investigation. But today, we don’t hear too much about that product but I do think there are some good-quality, high-build products out that are made by name-brand manufacturers like Sherwin-Williams. There’s a product called SuperDeck and Rust-Oleum has a deck-and-concrete restorer product that’s called 10X.
And these products can fill gaps as big as about ¼-inch. But if your deck is cracked or checked and you want to fill in some of those gaps and have a product that’s going to stick around for a while, I think it’s definitely worth giving a shot and you can do it yourself. You don’t need the painting company, Jerry.
LESLIE: Yeah. And Jerry, if you want to be extra sure, just pick up a gallon and try a small section of the deck: maybe the stairs, maybe a corner that nobody sees. And then make sure you like the coverage, make sure you like the color. And if you do, go from there.
TOM: Well, would you like to make sure your backyard gathering turns into a very memorable event? If so, consider adding torches. Leslie has tips on how to do this safely, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I feel like anytime you add an open flame or even a fairy light to a backyard space, you get instant ambiance. I mean a friend of mine, Laura, even jokes that anytime she sees fairy lights at a restaurant, like anywhere in Brooklyn or in the city, even if the restaurant looks terrible, if she sees fairy lights and candles in an outdoor space, she’s like, “That is the place we have to go.” So it’s amazing to think how simple additions can make a space totally transformative.
Now, if it comes to a torch that you’re going to add to the space, go with a citronella one. They’re widely available and it’s the easiest way that you can add this ambiance and pizzazz to the yard but also keep those bugs away. Because as we get deeper into the summer, there’s going to be more and more bugs. And I find that we’re all going to get bitten up more, so citronella is a great way to keep them away.
But anytime you’ve got an open flame, you need to practice fire safety. So it’s also a good idea to search SaferProducts.gov to make sure that the torch you’re using is considered safe, it hasn’t been recalled. Always keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water or something nearby. Not right in front of everybody but just nearby, just in case the event something happens. Especially when you’ve got kids in an outdoor space where you have an open flame, you really have to exercise some smart judgement there to keep everybody safe and happy.
Now, if you’re looking for some added safety but still getting that effect, there are battery- and even solar-powered torches. And some of these will even turn on automatically at dusk. They’ll flicker like a real flame. And then it’s possible to light up the night without throwing caution to the wind. It’s important to stay safe, have a beautiful summer and enjoy that outdoor space.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, if you’ve ever had a big storm hit your house, you know that a home which is generally safe, sound and secure and dry can quickly turn into a leaking mess. We’re going to have tips on how to find and fix those little leaks before they cause big damage, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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