- Improving your insulation is the easiest and least expensive way to get comfortable and save money. To help, Tom & Leslie review the most popular types of insulation – including a new “itch-free” fiberglass insulation plus another that’s fire resistant to over 2000 degrees!
- A serious commercial stove can boost both your cooking powers, and your home’s resale value. We’ll share what you need to know if you’re looking for one of these brawny commercial beauties in your kitchen.
- And are you laying your head down on a bed of bacteria every night? We have tips to help de-tox your mattress to keep IT clean and YOU, healthy. Plus how to spot and get rid of bedbugs.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Joan in California is ready for a kitchen remodel and doesn’t know where to start!
- Kirk from North Dakota is ready to convert incandescent bulbs to LED’s and needs to know how lumens compares to light bulb wattage.
- Jody in Delaware needs help fixing a foundation with dry lock that is peeling off.
- Robert in North Dakota wants to know what the best way to heat a big space.
- Carol from Ohio has a cutting project and needs to know what’s the best blade to cut a door with.
- Louis in Pennsylvania needs tips to choose the best replacement water heater.
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 hey, what are you guys doing? Are you thinking about taking on some home improvement projects? Because that’s what we love to do. We do it every day around our money pits. Well, practically every day. And it usually goes pretty well. For me, however, it didn’t go so well this week. I’ll tell you about that later.
But if you’ve got a project you’d like to get done, we are here to help give you some tips and advice to do just that. You can reach out to us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, with winter heating bills on the rise, improving your home’s insulation is definitely the easiest and least expensive way to get comfortable and lower heating costs. We’re going to review the most popular types of insulation for this project, including one that’s fire-resistant to over 2,000 degrees.
LESLIE: And a serious stove can boost both your cooking powers and your home’s resale value. So we’re going to share what you need to know if you’re looking for one of those brawny commercial beauties in your kitchen.
TOM: And are you laying your head down on a bed of bacteria every night? We’re going to have tips to help you detox your mattress, to keep it clean and you healthy.
LESLIE: But first, do you need help with your renovation, repair, decorating project? Whatever it is, I’m still considering it Happy New Year. It’s the new year, 2 weeks in. I’m allowed to keep saying that, right? What’s the cutoff?
TOM: Alright. You can, absolutely.
LESLIE: So, for a while, I’m still allowed to wish you all a Happy, Happy New Year and talk about what’s on your new year’s to-do list. Let us help you because 2022, let’s get into this calmly. Let’s not be so excited like we were for 2021 because with the pandemic on the table, anything is possible. So let us help you keep your house …
TOM: Let’s just all chill out, shall we?
LESLIE: Yeah. Let’s focus on one thing we can help you with, which is your house. So, give us a call anytime.
TOM: Again, that number is 888-MONEY-PIT; that’s 888-666-3974. Or post your questions at MoneyPit.com and we will get to as many as we can.
So let’s get started.
LESLIE: Joan in California needs some help with a kitchen remodel. How’s it going?
JOAN: Yes, well, we haven’t started yet and I just need some advice on how to get started. Do you start with an architect or what do you do?
TOM: That’s a good question. So, planning makes perfect. You want to start with a plan. Now, are you essentially going to replace the kitchen in sort of the same layout that you have right now, Joan? Or are you thinking about really changing things up a lot?
JOAN: Well, it’s a very small kitchen and I just want to know how to maximize everything.
TOM: Alright. So if it’s a small kitchen, you can probably do this inexpensively by perhaps starting with a home center. A lot of the home centers have designers that work on the – work on designing kitchens for the cabinetry that they sell. And for a very small fee, they can help you lay that out and take advantage of all of the latest options.
If you want to do more than that, what you’re going to do is hire a certified kitchen-and-bath designer. But this is sort of like hiring an interior decorator that works just on kitchens and baths. And that’s going to cost you a few bucks.
But if you want to just do this an easy way, I would start with a home center, in the kitchen department, and see if they’ll lay out some options for you using the type of cabinets that they sell. Those cabinets are usually pretty affordable at that level and they’ll be able to give you some ideas on things, perhaps, you haven’t thought about.
LESLIE: You know what, Joan? I think it’s really smart to keep a notepad in the kitchen. And everybody and anybody, yourself and your family who use the space, as you walk through and notice little areas where you’re tripping over one another or things that just don’t make sense or you wish that X was here and not there, sort of jot all of those down. So when you do go sit down with – whether it’s a certified kitchen-and-bath designer or someone in the home center, you sort of have all of these issues that could be addressed or might be able to be addressed.
JOAN: One thing I really want is more electrical outlets, so that’ll have to definitely be in the plan.
TOM: Well, it’s definitely in the plan and you’ll do these things in order. The first thing you’ll do is rip out the old cabinets and the next thing you’ll do would be to rough-in new wiring and new plumbing to have it exactly where you want it. And then, of course, you’ll start the installation of the new cabinetry as almost the last step.
It’s also a good time to think about universal design in the kitchen, maybe having countertops of different height. So as you get older, you could sit down and work at the kitchen counter as opposed to just standing up. So, think of the sort of accessibility issues when you design this kitchen, as well.
JOAN: How much time should I allow for something like this?
TOM: Well, it depends on whether you have sort of all your ducks in a row. Sometimes it takes a while to get all the cabinets delivered. But if everything is accessible and on site, you can tear out this kitchen and rebuild it inside of a week.
JOAN: Oh, wow.
TOM: If you have everybody lined up and everybody is there when they need to be there and the plumber shows up on time, the electrician shows up on time and so on, sure, I don’t see any reason you can’t get it done in a week.
JOAN: Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: Kirk in North Dakota is on the line with a lighting question. What’s going on?
KIRK: So, I’ve got a quick question on fluorescent lights. You know, a lot of your lights are, of course, rated 60 watts, et cetera. So, my question kind of came in the fact on the fluorescent bulb, it says, “This is equal to a 60-watt bulb.” But sometimes, that’s just not enough light. So what happens – are you allowed to put a bigger bulb wattage because – since fluorescents are supposed to be taking less electricity, can a guy put a bigger bulb in there – on a fluorescent that says, “Equal to 100 watts”? Because it’s still drawing less electricity.
TOM: So, I think what you’re talking about here is compact fluorescents, Kirk?
TOM: So, the wattage limitations on fixtures is based on a calculation that involves incandescent bulbs and it – because it equates to heat. A 100-watt bulb is going to emit a certain amount of heat and the fixture is rated to take that heat. That’s what it’s rated for and you can’t put more than that.
When it comes to fluorescents, you’re only using a quarter of the energy. So a 15-watt bulb will deliver you – deliver the same equivalent of 60 watts of light. You can have a bulb that delivers the equivalent of a bigger watt bulb but you’re still not actually putting that amount of electricity into it. Does that make sense?
KIRK: Right. So you could actually – like you say, if it’s a third, if it’s rated for a 60-watt incandescent bulb, you could virtually – say, if there’s a 150-watt bulb in a fluorescent, you should be able to put that in there and not cause an overload and get more light out of that same fixture.
TOM: Yeah, I probably wouldn’t double it. But I might – if it calls for a 60, I might go up to 100 because then you’re moving from saying 15 watts to 25. But I have a better suggestion. Forget the compact fluorescents. They are an outdated technology. The LED bulbs are where it’s at today. They deliver a much better-quality light with just the same, if not more, savings.
KIRK: But that was – the whole issue is sometimes you just don’t get enough light out of some of those fixtures.
TOM: Right. And I think that if – right. And also, they’re very temperature-sensitive. If it’s a cold area, like …
LESLIE: And then they’re color-sensitive, as well. When you get a CFL, you have to pick what color temperature you want that bulb to feel. And they can all feel extremely different. So you might pick something that gives a cold, harsh light and you want something warmer. So there’s a lot of experimenting with what type of fluorescent bulb you’re going to get.
KIRK: We’ll have to try to some different things but I was just worried about the wattage and making sure I didn’t overheat the original fixture.
TOM: Nope. You’re smart to be concerned but I’d take a look at the LEDs. And I think once you start trying them, you’ll be disposing of those CFLs.
KIRK: Well, thank you very much for taking my call. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Jody in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JODY: I actually have a problem with my foundation. It’s an exposed foundation; about 3 feet high around the whole footprint of the house is exposed. The cement-block foundation that had parging on it originally – and the parging was cracking, so it was recommended by a masonry (ph) contractor to put DRYLOK over it.
So, this is what I did. I put on – it’s a – they add color to the DRYLOK. So I put it over the whole foundation and it started to crack and peel and bubble.
TOM: Yeah, it didn’t adhere properly.
First of all, isn’t DRYLOK usually an interior masonry paint, not an exterior masonry paint?
JODY: Well, this particular masonry (ph) guy told me that he’s actually used it on the bottom of swimming pools, so he thought that it would work. And when he saw it later, he said, “Wow. I’ve never seen it do that.”
TOM: Yeah. How about that? He just experimented with your house.
JODY: I did call the DRYLOK people, too, and talked to them.
JODY: And they told me to try to power-wash it, try scraping it. But it’s just become a huge mess, you know? I mean it peels in some places. Some places, it adhered.
TOM: Yeah, the problem is that now that you’ve got that on there, you’ve got to get it off because you can’t put any – you can’t put new stuff over the bad, old stuff. It just will continue to peel.
JODY: Yeah. The problem is is that we are on filled-in marshland – is where the – and so, we’re on clay and sand. And the cement block, it sort of leaches up through there, so it’s always sort of damp coming up from the ground anyway.
TOM: Yeah. That’s what I was going to – that’s what I was kind of thinking. I was thinking that the block wall might have been wet when you applied it. It might not have been visibly wet but see, those block walls are hydroscopic. They absorb water really, really well. And so, if it’s on a moist situation, that water is going to draw up, get behind that paint. And nothing causes paint to peel faster than water.
So, unfortunately, at this stage, you’re going to have to strip that off.
JODY: Oh, my gosh. And we’re right on the water, you know what I mean? We’re on the bay. So I’m always worried about things that are not environmentally friendly.
TOM: The other thing that I think you probably could do – and this is a big job in and of itself, though – is you could have a mason attach a woven-wire mesh to that foundation and re-stucco it. And in that case, it could go right on top of the old, junky paint because you’re not really sticking to the foundation; you’re sticking to the mesh. So that’s another possibility.
JODY: I gotcha, yeah. Yeah. Because, I guess, in some places that was used before, underneath the parging.
TOM: Well, the parging is simply a stucco coat that goes on top of the block wall and it’s typical for the parging to crack. And usually, it cracks along the lines of the masonry block.
JODY: Yep. That’s what it did.
TOM: And that’s not necessarily a defect. That’s pretty much just the way it goes with that stuff, especially if they don’t put it on thick enough.
So, I would consider, if you really want to have it to look like a traditional masonry foundation, I would consider having mesh put up there and then properly re-stuccoed. If not, you’re just going to have to peel that paint off any way you can. You would – I might take a look at some of the citrus-based paint strippers if you have some that’s really hard to get off.
JODY: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Sorry we don’t have better news. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, with winter heating bills on the rise, improving your home’s insulation is definitely the easiest and least expensive way to get comfortable and lower those heating costs at the same time. And it’s actually a project that I’m doing right now in my basement and crawlspace.
Now, of all the choices of insulation that are available today, fiberglass batts, definitely the most common. But mineral wool is also gaining in popularity as another great choice and the one that I actually decided to use in my case.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, Owens Corning makes both products. And if you’re ready to get comfortable in your home, here’s a few things that you should know.
Now, fiberglass insulation has always been thought of as itchy or uncomfortable to handle. Well, just a few months back, Owens Corning released an entirely new generation of fiberglass insulation called PINK Next Gen Fiberglas. Now, this new product is made with advanced fiber technology and it feels as soft as – you guys get this – cotton. It’s so super easy for both DIYers and pros to handle.
Now, it also recovers quickly during installation, which means if you’ve got to squish the insulation to get it into a space around a duct or a pipe or some wiring, it’s going to expand very quickly back to its normal shape. So you don’t have to worry about kind of compressing it to get it in there; it’s still going to function really well. And the PINK Next Gen Fiberglas provides excellent thermal performance, which means your home is going to be warmer and more comfortable from the moment you install it. Plus, it absorbs sound, so it’s going to help keep noise to a minimum. Really, all around, this is a great choice.
Now, the other option that’s gaining in popularity is Thermafiber. Now, Thermafiber is a mineral insulation also made by Owens Corning. It’s called Thermafiber UltraBatt Mineral Wool and it’s designed to provide excellent thermal insulation, fire-resistance and noise control. And those are all reasons I chose it for my project. I also like the fact that the batts are semi-rigid because for me, that’s going to make them a lot easier to cut around all of the pipes and the wires and the sort of odd structural elements of my 130-year-old floor, because I’m doing a floor installation.
But aside from my use, Thermafiber is just really a good, solid choice because it helps control moisture to prevent mold. And they’re non-combustible, with fire-resistance to temperatures above 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, pretty much, you can’t go wrong with either one. And whether you want a warmer floor like me or you want to add more insulation to your attic – which, frankly, most homes in America definitely need more – now is the best time to do the project, because you’re going to enjoy increased comfort and lower heating bills all winter long. Seriously, when you do an insulation project, there’s no delay. You immediately – if it’s a chilly room, it becomes a warm and comfortable room. It’s so fantastic because it’s not expensive and you can knock it out in a single weekend.
LESLIE: You’ll find Owens Corning’s PINK Next Gen Fiberglas and Thermafiber UltraBatt Mineral Wool Insulation at home centers and building-supply stores nationwide. Or you can learn some more online at OwensCorning.com.
Robert in North Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROBERT: I have a friend who’s planning on building a horse arena – an indoor horse arena, the place where we board our horses. It’s going to be a very large arena. I’m sure they’re going to insulate it well. There will probably be some stalls inside. Dirt floor, so – for riding. So there will probably be some Bobcats in and out of there, occasionally, changing the dirt out.
And my question is as far as heating – she’s doing some research to try to find the best, cost-effective and efficient way to heat this. So far, I think she’s kind of narrowed it down to coal. I mentioned to her about solar. I also mentioned geothermal. What, in your opinion, would be the best efficient and cost-effective way to heat this arena?
TOM: And so, first of all, when you talk about solar and coal, you’re talking about fuels. What kind of heating system does she want to use?
ROBERT: Well, I think I suspect she might be using water, I’m thinking, under the dirt. Possibly a water-type …
TOM: Yeah, I don’t know how that’s possible if you’re going to have Bobcats driving over that. I would think that’s too heavy.
ROBERT: What about some sort of blowers?
TOM: Well, yeah, like a forced-air system. I mean that’s probably going to be something in line with that approach.
Now, in terms of solar, what I would do is if I was building a barn, I would make sure that I designed it to take advantage of passive solar energy. So, essentially, you will design the windows in the barn so that it captures the sun in the winter and protects from overhead sun in the summer, so it doesn’t overheat in the summer but traps some of the heat in the winter. The idea of passive solar energy as a design concept is something she definitely should look into.
In terms of fuel, it doesn’t – the fuel is only part of the equation. It’s really what kind of system you’re going to use. So if you were going to use coal, I doubt that you’re going to be using a forced-air system.
TOM: You’re probably, with a forced-air system – I don’t know that I’ve seen it coal-fired. I’ve seen forced air with wood fire and I’ve also seen wood-fired boilers, where you have a wood-fired boiler that would convert to a hot-water coil that air is blown over, in the sense it’s an air-to-air heat exchanger that way or a water-to-air heat exchanger.
ROBERT: OK. So you don’t think that coal, as the energy source, could maybe somehow work with the forced air combined?
TOM: It depends on what the heating system is. It’s got to be properly matched with the heating system.
TOM: If coal is readily available and there’s a system that’s designed to work with it, then it could be a fine fuel. But it really depends on what the system is.
ROBERT: It is readily available. It’s about probably 10 miles down the road from where she’s going to build this facility.
TOM: Ah, I see why she’s interested in it then, yeah. If I was you, I would focus on the system first and the fuel second. And if you want to use coal as the fuel, just make sure you have a good, efficient system in which to burn it.
ROBERT: Alright. Thank you, guys. I appreciate it and love your show.
TOM: You know, Leslie, people think that just because we’re home improvement experts, everything in our home, in terms of our projects, goes perfectly well every single time. So I thought I’d share a little faux pas I made this weekend.
I’ve been mixing up concrete for a floor in my basement that’s hard to get a truck into. So I’m kind of doing it by hand.
LESLIE: You’ve been working on this for a while.
TOM: Well, it’s sort of like I can go to the gym or I can go mix concrete. It’s the same thing; I’m getting a good workout out of it.
But I’m mixing up concrete and I’m pouring it into a mixing tray from the machine. And I drag this mixing tray which I figure, with two bags of concrete – and it weighs probably, I don’t know, 135 pounds or so. And then I lift it up and I just dump it into the form and I just go on my merry way with the next one.
Well, I was getting a little tired in the afternoon and I went to lift this tray up one more time to dump it. And my feet slipped out and I did a faceplant right into the mixing tray, face full of concrete. It was a classic, I don’t know, Three Stooges kind of a move. It would’ve been on one of those old-fashioned comedy shows. And I looked at myself and I said, “Oh, man. Look at that.” So, what did I do? I took a picture. It was a perfect time for a selfie.
LESLIE: Oh, my God, please. Please send this around.
TOM: I will post it. I will post it on MoneyPit.com.
TOM: I will own up to that.
LESLIE: How difficult was it to get out of places? Was it up your nose? Was it in your ears?
TOM: It wasn’t terribly difficult. It was just kind of annoying and funny at the same time.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s amazing. That is amazing. Is there – oh, my gosh, I wish there was video footage and we could put some silly music to it. Please tell me you have some sort of security camera in your basement.
TOM: Not yet. I think the picture will basically tell it.
LESLIE: Alright. I can’t wait.
Well, few things define an upscale kitchen like a commercial range: you know, those heavy-duty cast-iron grates, the beefy knobs, the high BTU burners. That pro-style range really has become your home’s modern-day hearth. It is the focal point of your house’s main gathering place.
TOM: Well, that’s right, because everyone loves to gather around that kitchen. But a serious stove like that can boost your cooking powers, as well as your home’s resale value. And that’s why they’re so popular. But if you’re going to buy one, there are definitely some things you need to know.
First up, an actual commercial range is not really designed for a residential kitchen. Because commercial ranges don’t have the same level of insulation, they get too hot and they can be unsafe. So, how can we have these on the market? Well, what happens is many manufacturers offer a sort of “pro-style range” and they make them scaled to fit standard countertop depths. They have beefed-up insulation to keep them safe. And their biggest burners still blast out somewhere around 18,000 to 25,000 BTUs, which is a lot of heat because a basic range only goes to as far as about 12,000 BTUs.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness, that’s a lot.
Now, most pro-style ranges come in some standard widths of 30, 36, 48 and even 60 inches wide. And the larger width means you’re going to get more burners and other cooktop options, maybe a griddle or a grill. And you’re going to have more oven space, as well. But that space and all of those bells and whistles come with a hefty price tag. You can pay anywhere from $3,500 to $20,000 for a pro-style range, depending on the size, the features, the model. So you’ve really got to want to use this.
TOM: Now, when you install a range that is as big as that, you have to be super careful. The vent hoods that exhaust to the outside are a must because the more BTUs the range puts out, the more air the blower needs to be able to move.
So, a lot of times when you’re buying the commercial-style ranges, that manufacturer will also make a hood for the same range that will sort of match the BTUs of it. So that’s a good source for it.
You’re also going to need larger gas lines and of course, you’re going to spend more for the gas. Most gas lines are going to be around a ½-inch but sometimes these need a ¾-inch line. And by the way, don’t do this: don’t buy the range and then get it to your house and say, “Uh oh, I can’t get it in my kitchen because they’re really wide.” An average doorway is 36 inches wide. If you get a bigger range and it’s got knobs and handles and stuff, you may have trouble getting it into the kitchen. So make sure you think through all of that before you actually order the machine.
LESLIE: Yeah. And there’s a lot of features that you need to consider. Some of them offer high BTUs, which is the signature feature of these pro-style ranges. And it’s that one or more burners are capable of the super-high heating. So if you want to sear or sauté or some fast boiling – but you don’t want to get too hung up on the number of BTUs because for most home chefs, 18,000 BTUs is plenty hot.
Now, also look for something called a “low simmer.” This is equally important – is that a burner is dedicated to handling delicate tasks, like simmering or if you want to keep a pot of chili on all afternoon on a low simmer or if you just want to keep a gravy warm on a low simmer. That’s ideal because it will just keep it warm and just sort of simmering but not boiling, so that’s an excellent feature to have, as well.
TOM: Yeah. And by the way, there’s different types of burners that you can choose from, as well. There are closed burners, which are – have sealed components so that none of the grease and the grime and the droppings from your cooking get into the burners and kind of clog them up. So a lot of folks love that for the convenience.
But if you’re a super gourmet kind of person, you may opt for an open burner because with open burners, what happens is the gas jets will shoot straight up from the burner. It’s kind of suspended over an opening and that draws in a lot of air to fuel the flame. And because of that, the pots and pans hit heat really, really fast and evenly. But the spills collect kind of in a drip pan underneath the burner that’s got to be removed for cleaning.
So, lots of options and lots things to think about. Aside from just the beauty of having one of these gorgeous ranges in your kitchen, you’ve got to make sure that the space is designed right and you choose the right options for your cooking style.
LESLIE: Heading over to Ohio where we’ve got Carol on the line who needs some help making a door fit.
CAROL: I just wondered what’s the correct type of blade and saw to use. I need to saw off the bottom of a hollow door to fit in my house, because it has narrow doors and more than what other houses have.
TOM: Hey, Carol. So that’s a pretty basic project and I’m glad you called because I’ve got, actually, a couple of tricks of the trade that would help you for this.
First of all, you want to take the door off the hinges. That’s super important. Off the hinges. And then lay it down on a couple of sawhorses. Next, you want to take some tape – I would use the blue painter’s tape – and you want to put that along the bottom of the door where you’re going to cut. Now, a little tip on this: when you have that door flat on the sawhorses, it becomes harder to tell what the top of the door is and what the bottom of the door is. So don’t cut the wrong side of the door.
But you put the tape across the bottom of that door and you can draw your line where you want to cut it on the tape. Put the tape on the front and the back and here’s why. Because as you start to saw this, what’ll happen is the wood will start to chip out along that edge and it will get rough. And depending on what kind of door this is, whether it’s made of a plywood or whether it’s solid, you could get some chips and some splits. And by putting that tape there, it protects it and minimizes that.
In terms of the type of saw, if it was me, I would use a circular saw. If you don’t have a circular saw, you can use a fine-bladed crosscut saw – handsaw. But again, just go very slowly and make sure you stay to that line. Don’t rush it or you’ll get a really, really rough cut.
Now, one more thing. I don’t know how much of this door – how much shorter you want to make this door. But because it’s a hollow core door, there’s going to be, I’d say – I don’t know. What do you think, Leslie, 3 inches of solid wood in the bottom of that door? And after that, it’s going to be hollow.
LESLIE: Yeah, I was going to say. What do you have to fill in? Do you need to put in a piece of something?
TOM: Yeah. If she cuts too much, you’re going to find that it’s going to actually be hollow.
So here’s what I would do. If I cut through it and it was hollow, you’re going to have to fill that back in. And the best way to do that is to take that chunk of wood that you just cut off and remove the facing of the door from both sides. What’ll be left will be the filler. And just fit that in the space that you pulled it from. And then you’re going to have to glue it and clamp it or just nicely tack it in place with a couple of brads while you glue it. And then when it’s all done, sand it and then make sure you paint it and seal it because that’s an open, now-exposed edge. You want to seal that, otherwise you’ll get kind of weird, maybe some weird warping of that door. So you want to make sure you finish that bottom edge as well.
Alright? So good luck with that project.
Well, for all of the time we spend on them, most of us give our mattresses very little care, which means they get a shortened lifespan and they can even have a risk of illness.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. If you don’t take some steps to keep it clean, you could be sleeping on a bed of bacteria.
So, to keep germs away, you want to invest in a mattress cover. Now, not only is a cover going to protect your mattress from dust and dust mites but it’s also going to ward off bacteria.
TOM: Now, let’s say you’re all cozy in your mattress one night and you happen to spill maybe your water or maybe it’s coffee or tea while you’re watching your movie. Well, whatever happens, don’t soak it. Instead, spray on a solution of mild dish soap and water, scrub it with a soft brush and blot it with a dry towel. And then just let it air-dry from there.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, every 3 months, you want to alternate between rotating and flipping your mattress. If you’re going on vacation, let your mattress do the same. You want to strip your bed before you leave town and give your mattress a nice dose of sanitizing fresh air and sunlight.
TOM: And lastly, one thing you really don’t want to do is to use dry-cleaning agents on your mattress. Some people have advocated these and I really disagree with them, because the chemicals in these spot-removers can be harmful to the fabric and underlying materials. Not to mention the fact that I don’t want to be laying on something that had dry-cleaning chemicals on it and sucking that in all night long. It just doesn’t seem like a very pleasant experience.
LESLIE: We’ve got Lewis from Pennsylvania on the line who’s looking to replace a relic.
What’s going on?
LEWIS: I was wondering about who makes the best reliable, pilot-lighted gas water heater? I’d like to buy one of those. We had one years ago that was very good. It was a stainless steel with the stone lining. It lasted 45 years or so and I’d like to find something that would last a long time.
TOM: Wow, 45 years. I mean I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a water heater that lasts 45 years and I don’t think you’re going to find another one.
LESLIE: And maybe you shouldn’t have it last 46 years.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
You mentioned a pilot light. Frankly, what you should be looking for today is a more efficient water heater that probably is going to have electric ignition. You don’t necessarily need a pilot light anymore. And you’re better off with electronic ignition because what’s going to happen is that’s going to heat up and light the burner when it needs to. With a standing pilot light, all this is going to get dirty and have to be cleaned and require more service.
So, if you want to use a tank water heater – a tank water heater – I would look at the Rheem water heaters. Had very good success with those. In the 20 years I spent as a home inspector, I got a sense as to which ones lasted and which ones didn’t. And also, Rheem has a technology now that prevents leakage. If the water heater was ever to fail, it actually shuts the supply valve down automatically.
The other thing you should definitely be looking at is a tankless water heater. We put one in our house about almost a year ago now and I’ve just been super happy with it. Constant supply of hot water. Never run out.
Ours is a combi, which means it does the house heating through the radiators and the domestic, as well. But if you have a hot-air system, you could just use a tankless water heater. And you’ll find that those units are probably going to go a good 20 years, I think.
So I think those are your two options for upgrading that old relic of a water heater that you’ve got now.
LESLIE: And be so thankful that there hasn’t been any issues all this time.
TOM: Yeah, 45 years. I don’t think that machine owes them a cent.
LESLIE: Beth wrote in and she wants to know if she can tile an outdoor porch. She says, “I have some tile that would be cool on my porch and sidewalk in front of my house.” I’ve never heard of tile on a sidewalk. But she says, “Can I do that? Or would it be too slippery?”
TOM: There’s no reason that you can’t use a ceramic tile in an outdoor, unconditioned space as long as you have the same type of solid installation you would have inside. So, you mentioned a porch. It would have to be an awfully solid porch. The base would have to be prepared properly for the tile to wear properly there and not crack and buckle and so on.
But the more important issue is the slipperiness of that tile. Now, when you purchase tile, there is a number called COF, which stands for coefficient of friction. And what you’re looking for is a coefficient of friction of 0.6 or greater because that means it’s generally slip-resistant. A zero is totally slippery. So, everything – the slip-resistance goes up as the number goes up and you want to go 0.6 or greater. So if the tile you have is rated with a COF of 0.6 or greater, you’re OK to use that outside. If not, you definitely should not because it would be super slippery.
LESLIE: Now, Beth, when you talk about sidewalk, it’s funny because Tom and I are thinking like – when you say sidewalk, I’m thinking the part that belongs to the village or my town or the city, that’s in front of my house that everybody utilizes. And I know Tom has a sidewalk that’s like a walkway from his house to that city/village sidewalk.
So if you’re talking about something more like Tom has and it’s slip-resistant, then go for it. But if it’s more like what I have, where the sidewalk is what everybody uses and it belongs to the village or the town, I don’t think you can do anything there. I think you’re kind of stuck with whatever that village or municipality says – “Hey, this is the sidewalk material.” Regardless of slip-resistancy, you’ve got to go with what they want.
TOM: Alright. Laurie is next and she says, “We had a tub surround installed about 15 years ago and the wood frame of the window, on the bottom ledge of the framing, has rotted away and looks horrid.” In capital letters, exclamation point. We get it. She says she wants to have the whole thing torn out and redone but she wants to know if there’s an inexpensive fix.
So, Leslie, I’m thinking about that product from Abatron that is called WoodEpox.
LESLIE: Oh, where it kind of makes the wood like an epoxy, rather than a more organic material.
TOM: Yeah. Basically, it’s like putty and you mix it together. And it’s very lightweight. I always think it’s like sort of liquid balsa wood when you’re handling this stuff. But you mix it together and you press it in place and then you let it dry. And then what you can do, Laurie, is you can actually sand it or chisel it or grind it or whatever it takes to kind of get to that shape of the sill of the part that rotted out.
But you definitely want to do that because the longer you wait, the worse it’s going to get and it might become a point where it’s not reparable with a product like WoodEpox. But you can find WoodEpox at Amazon.com. And the company, again, is Abatron – A-b-a-t-r-o-n – that makes it.
LESLIE: Yeah. And if it’s time to replace that window, definitely think about PVC trim.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending a bit of your day with us.
Hey, if you guys have been enjoying this show and you’re thinking, “Hey, I’ve got a question about my house. I’ve got a question about a project. I know that my mom has got a problem and I don’t know how to help her fix it. I want to do this or that in the spring” – whatever is leading you to improvements of your home or the home of a loved one or a friend, you can always reach out to us, 24/7, and ask for advice. You can post that question at MoneyPit.com or you can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT and we’ll get back to you the next time we produce the program.
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.
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2022 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)