- Energy-Efficient Windows: South-facing windows feel toasty in winter but can make you swelter in summer. Here’s how to feel comfy all year.
- Composite Decking Materials: Your existing deck may be solid but still need resurfacing. We’ve got info about composite decking materials that are easy to install and maintain.
- Protection from Ticks: Summer is the peak season for disease-carrying ticks. Find out how to protect yourself before they bite.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Caring for a Wood Swing Set: Do you have a wood playground or swing that’s getting dark and dingey? Tom has info for Erin on how to clean and brighten the surface of her pressure-treated wood.
- Installing a Koi Pond: Lee has questions about creating a custom koi pond. We’ve got answers on how to build it and what kind of forms and liners to use.
- Covering Ceiling Tiles: What are the options for covering a stained tile ceiling in a three-season porch? Kathleen learns more about how to use the faux tin ceiling she wants.
- PEX Piping: Is there a risk of rodents chewing through newly installed PEX piping? Dave finds out how likely it is.
- Painting a Deck Ceiling: After power washing the wood ceiling on her deck, Blair wants to know whether it’s better to repaint it with oil or latex paint. Find out which is the better choice.
- Moisture in a Laminate Floor: What causes water to seep up through laminate flooring over a concrete slab? We advise Michelle on how to improve drainage and reduce moisture that may damage the floor.
- Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets: Bob has sturdy old kitchen cabinets that he wants to strip and refinish. We have tips on what products and tools to use and how to do it.
- Heat Pumps: Is a heat pump the best way to reduce humidity in your home? Pat learns some better options and what the ideal indoor humidity should be.
- Condensation on Brick Surfaces: When Bruce finds white frost on his home’s bricks, he gets tips on sealing the chimney to prevent moisture and condensation.
- Cast Iron Tub Sounds: What’s the loud snapping sound that Sherry hears after using her cast iron tub? Tom calms her fears.
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 if you can dream it, you can do it. We will help. What projects are you working on? If it’s a project around your house, well, that’s what we do.
So, let’s think about this: as you look around your home, what’s the one thing that kind of bugs you? Do you want to paint a room? Do you want to spruce up your kitchen? Want to replace your kitchen, your bathroom, your deck, your patio, your roof? What project comes to mind that you want to get done? Now is your chance to reach out to us, because we will help you get it done. We will recommend the best products. We will tell you how to hire a pro, what to look for, what to ask, what to watch out for. Whatever is on your to-do list, move it to ours, right now, by reaching out to us with those questions.
Couple of ways you can do that. You can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT – that’s 888-666-3974 – or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com. Just click on the blue microphone button.
Coming up on today’s show, when it’s cold outside, south-facing windows are awesome. They can help keep the entire house snug and warm and let in tons of light. But in the summer, like now, they can have the complete opposite effect. We’re going to share window tips to help keep your home comfortable year-round.
LESLIE: And do you have a wood deck that’s solidly built but it’s not looking so great? Well, maybe you’ve got boards that are cracked and twisted or you’re just tired of staining it again and again and again. Well, removing the old deck boards and the railings and replacing them with new composites could be a great solution for you. We’re going to explain how to take on that deck-resurfacing project, in just a bit.
TOM: And now that we’re in the hottest part of the summer, we’re also at the peak season for ticks that can carry some pretty dangerous diseases. So we’ll share the surprising ways ticks can grab hold of anyone passing by and how to keep them off of you for good.
LESLIE: Alright. But first, give us a call, let us know what you are working on. We’ve got a few weeks left in the summer season, so let us tackle those projects outdoors before we start thinking about those indoor projects.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Erin in Ohio is on the line and needs some help with a playground.
What can we do for you?
ERIN: I have a swing set/playset. It’s made out of treated wood and it’s about 10 years old. The flat surfaces, they’ve turned black and the wood is cracking. I’m wondering how I can best clean that up.
TOM: Well, the best thing to do is to use a wood cleaner. But let me ask you this: is it pressure-treated, this wooden playset?
ERIN: I believe so, yes.
TOM: Because pressure-treated lumber has sort of fallen out of favor as a playset, because of the chemicals that are in the pressure-treated lumber leaching out of the lumber, getting into the soil and so on. So, I’d just give you a bit of a warning on that.
But if you want to clean this, Flood makes a product called Flood Wood Cleaner that works really well. Basically, you wet the lumber down, you apply the wood cleaner, you let it set for 20 or 30 minutes. You don’t let it dry – you may have to remoisten it again – and then you kind of scrub it clean. You can use a pressure washer after that to scrub it clean. It does a pretty good job of brightening up the finish, taking away the dirt and the grime and lifting up any of that old, gray sort of oxidation that settles on the wood or the black oxidation that settles on the wood.
You can find that at most home centers and hardware stores. And again, it’s called Flood Wood Cleaner.
ERIN: OK. Once I have it clean then, am I better, do you think, to stain it or paint it?
TOM: No, you’re better to stain it. What you want to do is use solid-color stain, as opposed to semi-transparent stain, because it’ll last a lot longer. The solid-color tends to fade a little bit better and doesn’t peel like paint would.
ERIN: And the same thing – like we have a swing – a porch swing – that I’d like to put on there, as well. Same thing then with that to clean it up? It’s been outside for some time.
TOM: Yes. If it’s natural wood, that’s a good product to clean it up with. And the same advice applies to the porch swing.
Now, is that also made out of pressure-treated lumber or is that something different?
ERIN: You know, it’s about the same age. I believe it is.
TOM: Alright. So, again, use the solid-color stain.
ERIN: OK. Very good. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Erin. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lee in South Carolina on the line who wants to build a koi pond.
How can we help you?
LEE: Off the deck of my house, in the one corner, I’ve got a bridge going to a gazebo. What I want to do is – 2 feet off from the gazebo, I’m doing a raised flower bed. And from the flower bed – 4 feet out, all the way around the gazebo – I want to do a koi pond.
And everyone keeps telling me that you’ve got to do it in concrete, because it’s – with liners, it would cause too many – you’d have to have too many liners and then sealing them. And it’d be a lot more of a problem.
TOM: Well, there’s a lot of ways to build a koi pond and most folks use liners.
LESLIE: Well, you have to use something. So, you can either build almost like you would a small pool and pour a concrete – I say foundation for lack of a better word but a concrete form. Or you can get a plastic pool form. They’re black. You see them at – I know the home center by me that sells koi – it’s actually a garden center that sells koi and pump equipment for water features – has a variety of sizes of these black sort of – they look like kiddie pools, essentially. But they’re interesting shapes and you dig out and then place this in the ground.
Or you can get the black liner, which comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses. And then you would dig out the formation that you like, especially it seems like yours is a bit more specialized and free-formed and has to sort of fit into a different area of measurements that you have specific ideas in mind. So the liner is probably better, because it will work with your specific dimensions.
And you’ll dig out. You’ll have to dig the slope into it, as well, if you want shallow areas or deep areas. You’ll have to dig that all in, as well. Then you’ll put sand down, just to keep a smooth area, and then you’ll put the liner in.
And it sort of, when you put the water in, will start to take the shape of that area. And then what you’ll have to do around the top, on those edges, is you’ll have to use all-natural rocks and large stones to hold that down and hide all of that lining. But there’s no reason why you can’t use a plastic liner.
LEE: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kathleen in Illinois on the line and she’s got a question about a vaulted ceiling.
What can we do for you?
KATHLEEN: I’m calling about a renovation project that we are trying to do on a three-season sun porch. And it’s a 12×27 room. We did tackle doing window replacement by ourselves and we managed to do that. They’re vinyl-clad windows, the tilt-in kind and everything. But the ceiling right now is 12-inch tiles that are – they seem to be glued up to the ceiling. They’re not on a grid system; they’re just up there. And we want to put faux-tin ceilings. And we’re wondering if that’s a project that we could tackle or is that something best left to professionals or – we’re looking for your advice.
But we had some damage from rain on the roof and we’ve had the roof replaced. But I even painted over where the water stains were with that Zinsser Stain Stop. And you can still see the – it did not cover it, so we need to change the ceiling.
TOM: Hey, they make these tiles that are a drop-ceiling type of a tile that looks just like tin. Have you seen those, Kathleen?
KATHLEEN: Yes, we have. And we thought that those were very cool and we didn’t know – do you think just LIQUID NAILS or something to put it up over these existing tiles?
TOM: What’s underneath the tiles? Plywood sheathing?
KATHLEEN: I don’t know. It feels really solid when you push a …
TOM: I would try to figure out what’s underneath it. You could take some pieces of the old tiles apart, see how thick that is. I would prefer to have a mechanical attachment, like a staple or something like that, than just simply the glue. The glue is OK.
LESLIE: I mean I would use LIQUID NAILS and something else.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
KATHLEEN: Uh-huh. And you don’t think it would – I don’t want it to look uneven, how they – you see sometimes those grid systems where the tiles kind of droop and sloop and look …
TOM: No, if it’s done really well, it looks great. We’ve seen them at really high-end décor showrooms, where you have some really upscale decorating done and they look fantastic.
KATHLEEN: OK. Alright. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project, Kathleen, and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Dave in New York is on the line and has a plumbing question.
What are you working on?
DAVE: I had a couple plumbing and heating contractors come give me estimates and now I’m – PEX piping put in. And they discouraged me from it because they were told that it was made with soy oil. And they already had to replace, in some homes, the PEX piping because rodents had been chewing on the pipes.
TOM: Yeah, I guess I could see that. I can see rodents potentially chewing on plastic pipes. But I will tell you that I have not heard that as a long-term – as a widespread problem. PEX piping is really quite good and enables you to do things that you can’t do with metal piping – with copper piping. And it’s just a lot less expensive to install, as well.
So, I don’t think it’s a wide enough problem that I would stop using it. I would continue to use it.
DAVE: But you don’t know if they make it with soy oil or not.
TOM: No, I don’t. But I tell you what, rodents will chew anything. So it doesn’t surprise me that maybe they had some rodent issues with it. But I don’t think it’s a problem that would prevent me from using PEX.
DAVE: OK. I was just curious to know.
TOM: Alright, Dave. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Blair in Virginia who’s taking on a painting project.
Tell us about the ceiling you’re working on.
BLAIR: I pulled out my power washer and decided to clean off the deck and the walls and the ceiling. But now the ceiling needs to be repainted. And it was originally painted with an oil-based paint. I would like to not use oil base; I would like to go over it with a water base. But I don’t know, first off, if I can do that or – and what would be the best brands to look into?
TOM: So, the first question is adhesion. What’s the ceiling made out of? Is this a drywall ceiling? A wood ceiling? What is it?
BLAIR: It’s a wood ceiling.
TOM: What kind of wood?
BLAIR: It’s just a plywood.
TOM: The first thing I would do, now that you’ve got this all cleaned off, is I would prime it. And I would use either an alkyd primer, which is water-based, or I would use an oil primer. Just the primer.
The primer, it’s important that it sticks really, really well. And it’s also important that it adheres to whatever was there initially. And through the life of that ceiling, it may have had different paints, different finishes on it. We want to make sure we get primer on there that’s going to have a real adhesive effect. Because once you get primer that sticks really well, then you could put latex ceiling paint or any type of solid stain or something like that on top of it. But you’ve got to use a good-quality primer. That’s really critical.
So do the primer first. On top of that, since it’s wood, you could use solid stain or you could use exterior paint. I would stick with a flat, though, if you’re going to use the paint.
BLAIR: Right, right. OK. So as long as I prime it well.
TOM: You’d probably be more tempted to use that than oil-based but honestly, oil-based works better than anything else. I just repainted my entire house and I have a cedar house. And we used solid stain, which I’m always promoting on the radio show, because it has the most pigment in it. But what I don’t mention is that we had to prime this – prime the entire house. And the last time – you know when the last time was I painted my house?
TOM: Fourteen years ago. Fourteen years because I used oil-based primer back then and solid stain. And I did the same thing all over again because I want to get another 14 years out of it. But that’s what you’ll get if you do it right.
BLAIR: OK. I can do that then. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, when it’s cold outside, south-facing windows are awesome. They help keep the entire house snug and warm and they let in tons of light. But those lovely, south-facing windows that keep the house so warm in the winter can also make your house super warm in the summer.
TOM: Well, you don’t have to dread the summer because of south-facing windows. According to the EPA, there are a number of easy ways to make those south-facing windows more efficient.
First up, you could add energy-efficient window coverings. Now, the window coverings can have varying levels of transparency. Some are sheer and they let in a lot of light and others can block 100 percent of the light. Also, another option are automated window covers that can lower during the hottest part of the day and then go back up in the cooler part of the evening. These smart window covers are really pretty amazing and the prices are coming way down.
And then you can do something really simple like adding storm windows. Storm windows, if you’ve got them already, make sure you put them down in the summer if you’ve got central air, because it’ll block the drafts – all those hot drafts – that come in through those windows, as well.
LESLIE: You know, you can also think about adding solar-control films to the glass. It’s really an amazing technology. And these films can block out the UV but not block out the light. And some are even so clear that that don’t block the vision, either.
And also, consider exterior shading, like an awning or an exterior blind or an overhang, architecturally, of some sort. Because that will help block the sun coming in during the summer season.
TOM: For more great energy-saving tips, check out the EPA’s page at Energy.gov. I’ve got to tell you, that is an awesome site. They really did a great job of covering all the ways that you can make your home more comfortable and save energy. And it’s written for consumers. You’re going to get the straight scoop right there. Energy.gov.
LESLIE: Michelle in Minnesota is on the line with a bathroom-floor “thing” is all I can call it.
What is going on? You’re getting moisture coming up through the floor?
MICHELLE: Yes. It’s a laminate floor. This is my third summer in this house and it’s the first time that I’ve had this issue. And it was – it started around the warm and humid days. At first, I thought maybe that it was my toilet leaking, because I had a new toilet put in last summer. But the plumber did come out and pull the toilet and it didn’t look like it was leaking or that the seal was broken on it. So we’re thinking that it’s condensation from the concrete slab coming up between the slats of the laminate flooring.
TOM: So the laminate flooring is on top of a concrete slab?
MICHELLE: Correct, yep.
TOM: What’s this looking – what’s this doing to the floor? Is it causing it to deform in any way? Or is it just showing up as a stain?
MICHELLE: It is not buckling or anything along the edges. He thinks that maybe it’s a rubber flooring – more of a rubber-based flooring – rather than a wood. And so it has not curled the edges or anything like that. It just seeps up as moisture and it comes – like beads up right along the edges of the laminate.
TOM: Do you have air conditioning in this bathroom?
MICHELLE: I do not. Uh-uh. Nope.
TOM: Yeah, I was thinking cooler, moist air against a warmer floor could cause additional condensation.
So look, if you want to reduce the moisture that’s coming up through the bathroom, there’s a couple of things I can suggest. First of all, you want to take a look at the grading and the drainage conditions outside that bathroom. Because the slab, if it’s getting very wet, is extremely hydroscopic. So all the moisture in the earth will be drawn into the slab and that’s going to wick up and show up in your bathroom, apparently.
So, take a look at your gutters and downspouts. Make sure they’re clean and free-flowing and the spouts are extending 4 to 6 feet from the house. Get all that roof water away and then take a look at the angle of the soil and make sure that that’s sloping away.
Now, do you have a fan in this bathroom?
TOM: That is helpful. You might want to think about replacing the fan with one that has a built-in humidistat, because that’s convenient in a couple of fronts. First of all, when you take a shower and you leave the bathroom and turn the switch off, it’ll actually stay on until all the moisture’s properly vented out of there. And if it does get humid on its own, then the humidistat will kick the fan on and also dry it out. They’re not terribly expensive; I know Broan makes a good one. There are a number of manufacturers you can find this from.
And keep an eye on the floor. Some laminate floors stand up very well to moisture. I’ve seen laminate floors that can be submerged and they don’t seem to be affected by it. But others will buckle just like hardwood would. So just keep an eye on it. And if it ends up that it does have to be replaced, I would paint that cement slab underneath with a couple of coats of epoxy paint to kind of seal in and stop the moisture from evaporating through and into the room.
MICHELLE: Mm-hmm. OK.
TOM: But only if you get that far. I wouldn’t tell you to tear up the floor now. But if you have to replace it, just make sure you seal the slab at the same time.
MICHELLE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, OK. Thank you. That’s good, thanks.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bob in Illinois is on the line and working on a kitchen makeover. What can we do for you?
BOB: Oh, we’ve got kitchen cabinets – they’re probably close to 30 years old – and we’re wanting to remodel our kitchen and I’m wanting to strip them down. And I was just wondering what was the best way – what to use to do it with.
TOM: Well, the good news is that 30-year-old cabinets are usually very, very well-built. You can’t really strip down a 10-year-old cabinet, because they pretty much fall apart. But if it’s a 30-year-old plywood cabinet, you can definitely strip it.
Now, what do you want to do after you strip it? Do you want to paint it or do you want to go with a clear coating?
BOB: I’d like to go with a clear coating on it. Maybe put a pecan finish on it or something.
LESLIE: And what’s on there now? Are they just stained or are they painted?
BOB: No, they’re just stained.
TOM: It’s hard to change the color of a stained cabinet. I’m just telling you just be prepared for that. But what you might want to do is use a good-quality stripper. Rock Miracle, for example, is a good one.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, another thing that’s good to do is head over to your local mom-and-pop paint shop, because sometimes there are newer products that are out there.
I was just getting some wallpaper paste but in that section, there were some really nice paint strippers. They apply a little differently, they go on more easily, they work more quickly. So I always just pop into the shop to sort of see what they’ve got in there that they’ve worked with.
But Tom and I have both used Rock Miracle and I like that because it goes on more like a paste, so you can really see where it is, you can see it start to work. And I guess it depends on how much stain is on there, how dirty they are.
I would start by giving them a good cleaning. Then make sure they’re dried very well, then put the stripper on them. Follow the directions. And you’re going to want to use a wire brush and a paint scraper. And that’s going to get that finish off of there.
Now, it’s important to work on them on a flat surface, so take all the doors and drawer fronts off. Label them as you take them down, with a piece of tape on the back side of the cabinet door and one on the cabinet box itself so that you know exactly where things go. And leave the hinges on the box sides so that you can have the doors flat. These are things that are just tricks of the trade that will help you be more successful.
And if your doors are full overlay – are they or are they not?
BOB: Are they what now?
LESLIE: When your cabinet door closes, do you see any of the cabinet box around it, like a frame? Or does the door cover it?
BOB: Yeah, it does; it flushes up against the frame of the cabinet.
LESLIE: So, that’s a blessing and a curse. Because then you can ignore the box or you can also work on the box while it’s in place, to strip that down, as well. And in that case, the Rock Miracle is really good because it’s really thick, so it’ll stay on in a vertical position, as well. So, those are some good things.
And you may have to apply it more than once, depending on how well-adhered your stain currently is. I mean you’ve really got to see. And then keep in mind that depending on the species of wood, the type of color that you might get from the stain that you’ve selected to go on there might be a little different. So you might want to work on a back side or a smaller area, just so you can see how it will react and what color you’ll actually end up with.
BOB: Thank you, then.
TOM: Well, if you have a deck that’s well built but you’re just tired of having to stain it all the time or maybe the deck surface is cracked and worn and giving everybody that walks on it splinters – it’s just plain uncomfortable. Then your deck is probably a really great candidate for a deck-resurfacing project. And that’s exactly what I’m doing now for a deck on a home that we recently bought. And I’m using Trex Transcend and the Trex Deck Kit, which is available exclusively at Lowe’s.
LESLIE: Yeah. The nice thing about the Trex Transcend Deck Kit is that it includes all the Trex materials that are required to build a 12-foot by 16-foot deck, with Trex’s top of the line Transcend Decking, the Trex Fascia and even the Trex Hideaway Hidden Fasteners.
So, Tom, what’s the first step? Really, where do you begin?
TOM: Well, in my case, the first step in the project is really – and it should be in anybody’s case, I should say – it’s really to evaluate the structure of the current deck. Because I already knew that the deck floorboards, in this case, were really – they were rotted and they were cracked. And the railing was starting to rot, as well. But the good news was that the deck-floor structures – I’m talking about the floor joists and the box beams – those are all solid. They were in actually good condition. And because of that, I won’t have to replace any of those structural elements.
LESLIE: Alright. But what about the railings?
TOM: Well, the railing was also – I mentioned it was a bit rotted but it’s also very poorly designed. Some of these railings, Leslie, on the older decks, they have too much space in them where people can fall through, especially kids, and then fall over the side. So I decided to replace those, too, and I went with new Trex railings.
So with all that in mind, I was able to go to Lowes.com and order a 12×16 Trex Transcend Deck Kit. And then I just added on the railings and other things that I needed so they could all be delivered together. And once the materials arrive, what I’ll do is remove all the old decking boards. I’ll check that structure one more time. I’ll make any needed repairs or modifications, like adding some new posts, and then I’ll start to install this new Trex Transcend Decking and then the railings.
And I’ve got to tell you, the materials are actually supposed to be here any day now and I cannot wait to get started. This Trex Transcend is a gorgeous product. It’s the top of the line composite decking that Trex makes. It’s got high-def grain patterns. And we chose this color called Island Mist, which looks like weathered driftwood. And it’s going to make a huge impact on my home and also add to its value.
LESLIE: That’s really going to look so great. Perfectly beachy. Very lovely. And of course, it’s going to be a lot easier to take care of. You don’t ever have to worry about sanding, staining, painting. Just occasionally a soap-and-water clean and it’s going to look like brand-spanking new.
Now, you guys, you can follow along with Tom’s project on our social or learn more about the new Trex Transcend Decking Kit, available exclusively through Lowe’s, at Lowes.Trex.com. That’s Lowes.Trex.com.
Pat in Arkansas is dealing with humid house.
What’s going on there?
PAT: Well, I have a new heat pump and it’s not taking out the humidity. Of course, I live in a humid area but I just wondered. It’s supposed to take out the humidity, as I understood.
TOM: Well, not really. I mean air conditioners, in general – central air conditioners, which is essentially what a heat pump is, are not designed to be dehumidifiers. They do dehumidify by virtue of the fact that they’re cooling the air but they’re not as effective as other forms of dehumidifiers.
There’s a couple of other ones that you could consider, one of which is called a “whole-home dehumidifier.” And that’s built into the HVAC system. It would be built into the duct system. And that can take out about 90 pints of water a day.
There’s another type of stand-alone dehumidifier. In fact, I just put one of these in my own house and I thought it was absolutely terrific. It’s by Santa Fe and it’s a small dehumidifier that installs – in my case, I put it in my basement. And it actually is suspended from the ceiling, in an unfinished part of the basement. And it’s only 12x12x22.
And it takes out 70 pints of water a day. And it’s really neat. Once I had it up for an hour or so, I went down there and you can just see this pretty strong stream of water dripping out of it. And all that water used to be in the air and now it’s no longer there.
So, you need to do some dehumidification and I think that you’ll find that that will do the trick, Pat.
PAT: OK. What is the average humidity supposed to be in a house?
LESLIE: Thirty to fifty percent?
TOM: Well, yeah, I was going to say around 40. So we’re in the same neighbor.
TOM: And if you put a good dehumidifier in, that will be set up to a humidistat so that you’ll always know what the humidity is.
LESLIE: And it’ll come on as it’s needed.
TOM: Right, exactly.
PAT: OK. Alrighty. Well, I thank you so much.
TOM: Good luck, Pat. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Verse (sp), you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
VERSE (sp): The house I’m in was built in ‘78. In the past year, year-and-a-half, during the winter, I’m getting this white frost that’s coming off the bricks. And I didn’t know whether that’s something to worry about or not.
TOM: Well, what it means is you’re getting a lot of moisture into the brick and it’s – the brick is very hydroscopic, so it soaks up water like a sponge. And so, if there’s a lot of moisture along the outside of it, what’ll happen is that water will suck through and then it’ll evaporate and then leaves behind its mineral salts. What you might need to do is to seal the chimney. And you can do that with a masonry sealer that – you want to make sure you pick one that’s vapor-permeable, because it’ll breathe. And that will stop so much of the – a lot of the moisture from wicking into the brick and showing up on the inside of the house.
VERSE (sp): Gotcha. Is there a certain brand or certain type I should be looking at?
TOM: Yeah, most of them are silicone-based. And just make sure it says it’s – that it’s vapor-permeable and that it breathes.
VERSE (sp): OK, OK. Well, I’m going to go hit the store now then. I’m worried about it.
TOM: Alright. Yeah. Good luck with that project.
Well, we are in what’s traditionally the hottest part of the summer and it’s also the most active time of year for many types of insects, including ticks. So it’s really important to take steps to make sure ticks don’t ruin your summer fun.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, ticks and the Lyme disease that they carry are major threats to your health. So, you’ve got to be smart about protecting yourself and your family whenever you’re outdoors.
Think about it: always wear some long sleeves, tuck your pant cuffs into your boots or your socks. Yes, I know it looks old-timey and a little silly but this is how these ticks love to get on you. And choose light colors. This way, you can easily spot those ticks. Then go ahead and layer on insect repellant that’s designed to be applied both to your skin and to your clothing.
TOM: Yeah. And while you’re outdoors, make sure you stay to the center of hiking paths and avoid those grassy and marshy areas, because ticks don’t jump. Instead, what they do is they hang on shrubs and especially tall grass.
You know sometimes when you’re walking through a trail and you see some really thin grass that’s leaning over? Well, when you brush by that grass, they jump right onto you. They kind of see you as Velcro, you know what I mean? And they have the hooks and you’re the other part of it. And they walk by, they just transfer right to you and then they try to find the warm parts of your skin and then they try to dig a little hole in you. And that’s really where it gets dangerous.
So, make sure that when you get back home, you inspect yourself and inspect your kids for any clinging ticks before bites can happen.
LESLIE: Sherry in Oregon is on the line with a question about a cast-iron tub. What can we do for you today?
SHERRY: What you can do for me is get rid of my fears.
TOM and LESLIE: OK.
SHERRY: I have a cast-iron tub and soon after I get out of it and it starts to cool down, I hear this horrible, loud snap. And it may happen once, twice or even if I walk into the bathroom before the tub is totally cooled down.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Is it a metal-sounding snap?
TOM: I think that’s probably oil-canning. Basically, as the tub is expanding and contracting, it pops as the metal expands and contracts and that’s probably what you’re hearing. It’s unusual with a cast-iron tub, though, because those are usually pretty stiff. But that sounds like what you’re describing.
SHERRY: Very good. And it’s not – it won’t be something that’s problematic in the future?
TOM: I don’t think so. I mean it’s usually just an annoyance. But as long as it doesn’t sound like you’ve got lumber snapping or something like that, if it’s the metal that’s popping like that, yeah, that’s oil-canning.
SHERRY: No, it doesn’t like lumber.
TOM: You remember the old oil cans that you use – or the old soda cans that were very, very thick metal and if you sort of pressed your finger in the side, it would make a pinging sound?
SHERRY: Oh, sure.
TOM: That’s what that is; that’s what oil-canning is.
SHERRY: Mm-hmm. Well, fantastic, I’ve gotten rid of that fear. I really appreciate …
TOM: There you go. OK. Now we’ve cleaned the slate. Nothing to worry about. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Betty in Alabama posted: “When I flush a toilet at the end of the refilling process, all of the pipes in my house knock against each other. How can I fix it?”
TOM: Ah, that is called “water hammer,” Betty. And what’s going on is – think about this: as the water is moving through your pipes on the way to refilling your toilet, in this case, and then the toilet turns off because it’s already got all the water it needs, all the centrifugal force of that water, the weight of that water going through the pipes, it doesn’t want to stop short immediately. It tries to move forward a bit and as it does that, if the pipes are loose, if they’re not secured well to the framing of the house, they’re going to shake and bang. And being copper, you’re going to hear that throughout the entire place.
So, first of all, it’s rarely a problem. It’s kind of an annoyance. Unless it gets really bad, it could shake something loose. But you need to find those loose pipes and secure them better to the structure. It’s usually in the floor beams in the basement or in the crawlspace. Find the pipes, tighten them up and that water hammer will go away.
LESLIE: Because the toilet, Betty? That’s one thing that’s got to stay part of the plumbing system in your house.
TOM: It’s got to work when you need it.
LESLIE: All the time.
TOM: Well, are messy pets creating a decorating dilemma? Are you afraid that anything you buy is going to be ruined by your well-meaning pooch? Well, Leslie has got some tips to help you get the best of both worlds, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: So, first up, you’ve got to pick up pet-friendly furniture. You want to make sure that the fabric isn’t going to be very worn very easily, because there’s woven fabric there that they can grab with their claws or their nails, things like that. You want something that’s washable, that’s cleanable. You want to make sure that you’re not going to have to replace furniture more often because you cannot take care of it in the event of a pet mess.
Now, you can protect the furniture that you do have, with some pet-proof covers, so you don’t have to worry about the hair or any stains. Those can be removed and cleaned as needed. They’re available in lots of styles, colors, fabrics.
Then, if you’re going to redecorate and change things up, you want to be careful there with the fabric. You know, you can protect what you’ve got with the covers but the new stuff, really look at those swatches.
I remember when we were getting a couch, I just kept dragging my fingernails over every swatch of things. And the people were like, “What are you doing?”
LESLIE: I’m like, “I have a dog. I have kids. I want to make sure.”
TOM: Yeah, cat – you’re dog-checking. Dog-checking.
LESLIE: Yeah. “I’m doing the pet check.”
LESLIE: So you have to do that kind of stuff.
Look for fabric options that are easier to clean. Think denim, canvas, durable synthetics. I mean you can also opt for an outdoor fabric, because those are going to be far more easy to clean, odor-resistant, stain-resistant. So don’t be afraid to look at that outdoor fabric for use indoors, because that’s going to make things a lot better for you.
And then, if you can, consider adding a pet-washing station into your home. This way, when you and your doggy head out on a rainy day – you know to wipe your feet but the dog knows to jump on the couch and then wipe his feet and muddy body all over the upholstery. So, if you’ve got a mud room …
TOM: He’s wiping his feet, too.
LESLIE: Yes. But in the worst place possible, usually.
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. My boyfriend walked the dog in the rain, in the mud. And Sherman got away from him and then jumped right into bed with me. And it was so horrible. I was like, “Sherman, no.”
LESLIE: So you have to think about it. If you had a dog-washing station, maybe in the mud room, that could be a perfect spot to install one. A mud room is already meant for dirty spaces. The dog-washing station really is kind of like a rectangular stall that just your pooch goes in. It’s got a spray hose and then you can clean up that pup immediately.
So, all good stuff. Don’t shy away from having animals in your life. It’s so rewarding but just think about how you can make it easier to enjoy them.
TOM: And we’ve got a checklist on how you can do just that. It’s called “Pet-Friendly Design and Decorating Tips for Your Home.” It’s on MoneyPit.com.
And coming up next time on The Money Pit, when you look up, is the view a bit less than exciting? We’re talking decorative ceiling solutions, on the next edition of the show. With these ceilings, you can turn your blank and bland ceiling into an architectural showpiece. We’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to get that project done, on the very 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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