- Looking for family-friendly outdoor activities for you and your little ones? Creating a kid-friendly garden is a great way to get the whole family involved in a fun project! We share some ideas to get started.
- Spring is a great time to evaluate your roof before big storms happen. If it looks like it’s ready for replacement, don’t plan on that big expense just yet. Tom & Leslie share a much less expensive way to extend its life.
- Are messy pets creating a decorating dilemma? Are you afraid that anything you buy will be ruined by your well-meaning pooch? We’ll have tips to help you get the best of both worlds.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Karen in Pennsylvania has mold behind wallpaper and needs to get rid of it.
- Mark from Nevada has radiant heat in his house that has been poorly installed.
- Kristine in Washington has a leaky opening in her chimney.
- Glen wants to know how to properly put in a dryer duct.
- Dewey wants to know how to get rid of a sewage leak smell in his basement apartment.
- Judy wants to know the best way to clean hardwood floors.
- Gary from Virginia has an odor coming from his bathroom plumbing after he takes a shower.
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: Here to help you take on the projects you want to get done this day, this weekend. What is on your to-do list? You’ve got a project that you’re planning? You need help solving a problem? You’ve got a décor dilemma? Hey, give us a chance to help. That’s what we do. We’ve been at this for over 20 years. This is Episode 2197. And we exist for one reason and one reason only and that is to help you with your home improvement projects.
So, whatever is on that to-do list, you can slide it over to ours by getting in contact and asking your questions. Couple of ways to do that. You can post your questions to MoneyPit.com/Ask, download The Money Pit app. That is the fastest way to get a response to your questions. Or you could post it to our social-media accounts at MoneyPit.com/Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. You get it. Or you could also reach out to us by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
So let’s get to it. We’ve got a lot coming up on today’s show. First up, as the weather gets nicer, are you guys thinking of family-friendly outdoor activities for you and the little ones? Well, we’ve got a suggestion: a kid-friendly garden. It’s a great way to get the whole family involved and a fun project and teach a couple of life lessons in the process. So we’re going to walk you through how to get that started.
LESLIE: And spring is a great time to evaluate your roof before that big storm happens. But if you find it needs to be replaced, there might be a much less expensive way to extend its life.
TOM: And 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, we’ve got some tips to help you get the best of both worlds, just ahead.
LESLIE: And if you’re interested in transforming your kitchen with a granite countertop, we’re giving away a kit that can help you do that in just a weekend. It’s new from Daich Coatings and it’s called the LuxROCK Solid-Surface Granite Countertop Kit.
TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random, so make that you. Reach out to us with your home improvement questions and you might just win yourself that great countertop kit. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions to MoneyPit.com/Ask.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Karen in Pennsylvania is dealing with some mold in the basement. Tell us what’s going on.
KAREN: My mom has a house that the basement is – we put it up for sale and nobody noticed this. And one person came in and tore wallpaper off the wall and we noticed that it had mold from the floor to the ceiling and even in the inner walls. So I had a gentleman come and look at it and he said it would take $30,000-plus. And he would come in, remove all the interior walls – all the wood, the paneling, everything off the wall – down to the bare. He would have a chemical put on, clean it and then it would never come back.
And then the second guy came in and he said he would rip everything out, as he said. He would coat it, clean it and guarantee it that if it did come back, he’d fix it for $10,000.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t think you need either of these guys. You don’t have enough information yet and I don’t think you’re talking to the right people. I doubt either of them are professional mold mitigators. It sounds to me like they’re just trying to size you up for as much money as they can get from you.
The first thing you want to do is test the mold to figure out what kind of mold it is. And that’s done – there’s a couple of easy ways to do that. Basically, you take a sample and you send it out to a lab and they tell you what you’ve got. And then you can kind of design a mitigation plan around that.
I need to get a sense as to how much mold is there. But if it’s just a little bit of mold behind the wallpaper, you may not need to pull all this out; you might be able to treat it right in place. But it doesn’t sound right.
KAREN: Where the bathroom is has an inner wall. And that is halfway down with mold.
TOM: OK. How much mold are we talking about here, square footage-wise? Is it like a 4×4-foot by 4-foot space or …?
KAREN: We’re going to say all the outer walls. Because we’ve since went around and pulled off some wallpaper here and moved some paneling. And we also – the first guy that came in for $30,000 brought in a light and to me, it looked like a black light. But he brought the light in that was a special light and it can tell what type of mold it was and where the mold was.
TOM: That is completely wrong. Do not call that guy back. It is completely wrong, OK? That guy was not giving you accurate information if he comes in with his magic light that supposedly tells mold.
LESLIE: Yeah, they can’t actually tell you what kind of mold unless they do a chemical test on a physical sample.
TOM: Well, it’s a mold test. They send it out to a lab and they read it, so that guy’s a snake-oil salesman.
LESLIE: Right. Right. But it’s actually holding a piece of that mold and testing it with certain things. And that’s done by a lab.
TOM: It sounds like you could use a basement renovation but I wouldn’t get too crazy over it. If it’s done by the right kind of company that can take that apart very carefully and dispose of all of that material – and maybe you don’t even want to put the walls back. Maybe you just want to leave it unfinished.
KAREN: Oh, good.
LESLIE: Alright. Heading to Ely, Nevada where we’ve got Mark on the line.
What’s going on at your money pit?
MARK: I’ve got radiant heat in my house here.
MARK: And down in the basement – the basement is completely finished and everything – the rock on the ceiling is falling.
TOM: OK. Why is it falling? Is it – was it water-damaged or something or was it never attached well? What’s going on?
MARK: I don’t think it’s attached well. I can’t find – none of the seams are taped and I can’t find the – there’s no nailing or anything.
TOM: Huh. That’s odd. Well, so you’ve got really, you know, two options here. I mean if you can identify – certainly should be able to identify the ceiling joists above that and then you could just resecure everything. I wouldn’t use nails; I would use drywall screws, because they don’t pull out.
TOM: And then you would tape and spackle the joints. That’s really the best way to do that.
If you don’t want to deal with that, if you don’t like the idea that the ceiling is covered up, because it blocks access to your mechanicals, your wiring and your plumbing, you could take it down and put in a drop ceiling.
Now, the drop ceilings that come today are pretty amazing compared to what we used to see decades ago, when they were pretty much just one kind of ceiling tile and it was ugly as heck. The drop ceilings today are absolutely gorgeous. There are so many options in them and it gives you that access above the ceiling.
So, that would be two ways to approach that, Mark.
MARK: OK. But the deal I was worried about was running screws down the joists, where the sheets come together. I’m not sure if – where the wires are, you know what I mean?
TOM: Yeah. Well, is this a ceiling that actually has heat in it? Does the ceiling – that’s loose and hanging down? You know that for a fact?
MARK: Yes. There’s radiant heat going through the ceiling
TOM: So, you’re right. That is an issue and I would be concerned about that.
TOM: So, I think at that point, you really – if you – I wouldn’t resecure it because there is a risk that you could pierce it and that could be bad. I think you’re probably going to end up having to take it down and probably replace the heating, as well, at the same time. I don’t think it’s a situation where you can preserve it.
MARK: Right. Because I need to have some idea where the wires are going and where the nailing is actually at.
TOM: You do.
Is the heat in the basement necessary? Because another thing that you could do is if you could just disconnect that section of the heat, you could maybe use an electric-radiant baseboard unit instead, especially if it’s like – a lot of basements, they don’t have to be heated year-round. Maybe just in the colder weather. And even though electric radiant is expensive, because you’re already paying that, you wouldn’t maybe have those radiators on all the time in the basement.
MARK: Right. Actually, it’s in a small room. The basement is sectioned in two rooms and it’s just a small room, like an office would be, you know? And I actually don’t have the heat on in there.
TOM: Well, then maybe that’s the answer. Maybe you just disconnect the heat – the radiant heat – that’s in that ceiling and then take it down and start again.
MARK: Yeah. Because there’s thermostats in every room controlling every room individually.
TOM: Yeah. How old is this house, Mark?
MARK: It was built in ‘94.
TOM: Wow. So they put radiant heat in in ‘94.
TOM: A lot of radiant heat that we see is much older than that. That’s interesting. Well, good luck with that project.
MARK: OK. Thank you, sir.
TOM: You’re welcome.
LESLIE: Well, if you love a granite countertop but maybe your kitchen doesn’t currently have one or your bathroom is lacking one and you’re just dreaming of it but your wallet’s not agreeing with your dreams, we have got a great, brand-new product that we’re giving away from Daich Coatings, that will give you a sparkling granite surface at a fraction of the cost of real granite.
Now, it’s called the LuxROCK Solid-Surface Granite Countertop Kit. And one kit is going to cover 40 square feet of countertop, making it perfect for updating kitchens and baths. It’s going to spread easily over that old countertop and give you a beautiful, new look that performs just like real granite.
There’s five colors available. And the whole transformation only takes 2 days. Definitely a do-it-yourself project.
TOM: If you want to win it, you’ve got to be in it. So ask us your home improvement question. We’re going to draw one listener name out of The Money Pit hard hat and maybe send that beautiful LuxROCK Solid-Surface Granite Countertop Kit to you.
You can reach us at MoneyPit.com/Ask.
LESLIE: Christine in Washington is on the line with a leaky chimney.
Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
CHRISTINE: I have a chimney that’s for a wood or a pellet stove. And the former owners put duct-taped cardboard in the opening. And it leaks when I have heavy rain and winds.
TOM: I bet it does.
CHRISTINE: Yeah. How do I close off the opening so it doesn’t leak?
TOM: So, first of all, we’re talking about a wood-stove chimney that’s been sealed up with cardboard and duct taped. Does anyone think there’s something wrong with this picture? Just maybe, right?
TOM: So, are we still using the wood stove, Christine?
CHRISTINE: No. It’s empty and I put a table and lamp under it.
TOM: So you’re not using the wood stove at all. You don’t want to use it? Why not just take it out?
CHRISTINE: There’s no wood stove there; it’s just an empty space. That’s why I put a table …
TOM: Oh, OK. So the chimney is left over from the wood stove.
TOM: Then take the chimney out.
CHRISTINE: Oh, really?
TOM: The chimney is a hole in your roof. If you’re not using it for the wood stove, then you don’t need it, right? There’s nothing else that uses the same chimney? Is it a metal pipe?
CHRISTINE: Yeah. But the – inside the house, it’s part of the design of the living room. It looks like a space for a fireplace. So that’s why it’s all bricked in and that’s why I put a table and chair in it and made it sort of decorative.
TOM: Right. But if you’re never going to use it. OK, I don’t really care what it looks like inside your house; I care about the penetration where it goes through the roof, because that’s where the leak is. And your options are either to properly flash the chimney, whatever that takes – which is not going to include duct tape and cardboard, by the way – but to have it professionally flashed so that it seals the intersection between the roofing shingle and the chimney or vent pipe.
But if you’re not using it, just remove it and you’re taking that headache away. You can patch the roof and you’ll never have to worry about leaks in that area again.
CHRISTINE: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Christine. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Glenn on the line who needs some help installing a dryer duct.
Tell us about your project.
GLENN: How do you properly put in a dryer duct?
TOM: Well, Glenn, the first thing – you asked about length. The bottom line is you want this to be as short as possible. So you want to find the nearest way to duct that dryer exhaust outside the building. The longer you go, the longer it’s going to run, the longer it’s going to take your clothes to dry and the more dust that you’re going to build up in the ducts. So, the shorter the better.
Secondly, if you do use any flex duct – which I don’t recommend. I recommend you use solid-metal ducting. But if you use any flex duct, make sure it’s the metal type, not the plastic type. And if you have to use any elbows, any turns like 90-degree turns, as few as possible because every 90-degree turn is equivalent to another 10 foot of straight duct in terms of its resistance. So, keep it short and get that exhaust out as quickly as possible.
I tell you, we used to have to run – our laundry room had – was between – there was one bedroom between that and the outside wall. And we ran it down through the floor joists and out and still, it would build up a lot of lint and take a long time. So I reconfigured the dryer to actually go out the exterior wall to the left. And now my exhaust duct is 12 inches long. The clothes dry super fast. So, shorter the better.
LESLIE: Oh, I can imagine.
Well, with the weather finally getting nicer, are you thinking of family-friendly outdoor activities to keep kids involved and off their electronics? Well, creating a kid-friendly garden is a great way to do just that and maybe teach a bit of self-sufficiency in the process.
TOM: So here’s two ideas to help you get started.
First, give them their own space. Don’t just give them a corner or something but make it really dedicated to their garden. They’re not going to learn much if Mom and Dad are doing the work for them. But you also don’t want to risk damage to your own garden. I’m thinking a 3-foot by 3-foot plot or maybe a raised bed is even a better idea. It’s a good place for them to start.
You can even use a string to grid the plot into 1-foot squares to help them sort of organize different types of plants based on how tall they get, how wide them get, whether they’re going to need support or not. And place the tallest plants in the back and the shortest in the front and they’ll have a nice, beautiful, organized space that way.
LESLIE: Now, next, you want to give them their own tools. You know, it’s never too early to get kids going with a tool collection sized perfectly for their little hands. Whether it’s shovels and buckets that do double-duty in the sandbox or real gardening tools that are designed just for kids, tools are going to make them feel like they’re part of the process, just like Mom and Dad.
TOM: Yeah. And we’re seeing a lot more tools right now that are available. They’re quality tools and they’re also available for smaller, more comfortable, more ergonomic use. So, if you have a small hand, whether it’s for your child or yourself, there’s a lot of options out there.
So, think about setting up that garden for the kids. They’re really going to enjoy it, especially when they get to eat some of those veggies. You think you couldn’t get them to eat veggies? Well, let them grow their own and then maybe they’ll try it.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Dewey looking to make some real-estate income here. He’s got a three-unit property and well, two out of three ain’t bad. Isn’t that what Meatloaf says? One of them is not quite ready.
What’s going on?
DEWEY: I bought a three-unit building where I live in one of the units. It was about – I think it was built in about 1905. And the basement unit has a really bad odor coming from one of the rooms. Prior to moving in, the unit had some pretty bad, backed-up sewage that flooded some of the unit. The room in question has carpet squares and kind of confirmed the smell was coming from the drywall. The room is on the – sharing the exterior side of the house.
So my question is how to figure out if it’s from the flood, if there’s leaking from the foundation. And if we do replace the drywall, making sure that that was the cause of the smell. The other thing is the exterior, there’s some type of black material that was used to seal the sidewalk to the building. And what’s the best way to seal that to make sure there’s not leaking rainwater coming in, as well?
TOM: Well, it sounds like a great investment having a three-unit building. We’ve just got to get one-third of that unit into rentable condition, Leslie.
The fact of the matter is if you’ve had a flood that has sewage, you always need to really tear up any part of the drywall that was connected to that. And also, if there was wiring – like if the flood went above the outlets, then the wiring has to be changed and the outlets have to be changed. So you’re going to have to do a fair amount of demolition there. In terms …
LESLIE: But you would have to do that even if it was not sewage, if it was water, correct?
TOM: Any kind of water. That’s right.
TOM: Sewage just makes it even worse and …
LESLIE: It just makes it more gross.
TOM: Yeah. I think that a remediation company could really help here, because they’re good at this. They know what to do with these types of leaks and floods, because they’ll not only get rid of anything that’s impacted, they can treat the wall cavities with the appropriate types of cleaning products to kill anything that’s left behind. Because you get biogas from everything that’s going to be in that wall.
LESLIE: And it can just make you super sick.
TOM: It really can. And it’s got to be a lot healthier – it’s got to be completely healthy if you’re going to rent that space out. So, I think you’ve got a bit of a mess on your hands here.
But the other thing is about the carpet. Really bad idea to have carpet in a basement, right?
LESLIE: Well, I mean everybody likes the feeling of a cozy floor, especially in a basement, but it’s just a space that’s prone to moisture. There could be leaks, there could be flooding, depending on weather conditions. And even if your basement’s been bone dry, get a crazy storm and it might not be that time. So it’s better to do a floor that’s, you know, water-resistant, something that’s a solid surface that’s meant to be used in a basement space below grade. And then get yourself an area rug when should it get wet, you’re able to clean it, toss it, whatever.
In terms of that sidewalk outside, that’s probably an asphalt sealant that was used between the sidewalk and the house. Just generally speaking, on the outside of your house, make sure the water is draining away from the foundation. And if that sidewalk slab happens to pitch into the house, that’s a bad thing. No matter what you seal it with, you’re not going to stop water from getting into that wall. So that would be a case where you’d have to either tear out the concrete and replace it or depending on how it’s built, sometimes you can lift that concrete one section at a time and actually re-pitch it.
LESLIE: Well, spring is a great time to evaluate your roof. But if you find it needs to be replaced, there might be a much less expensive way for you to extend its life.
TOM: That’s right. Mike Feazel is the founder of Roof Maxx, a brand-new sponsor of The Money Pit, and joins us to talk about a new, sustainable roofing technology that allows homeowners to double roof life at substantial savings over traditional roof replacement.
MIKE: Hey, thanks for having me on.
TOM: So you’ve been in this industry for a really long time, right? You ran one of the top-100 roofing companies for – was it like 25 years?
MIKE: Yes, my brother and I started in the roof-replacement business back in the mid-80s and then kind of shifted to the rejuvenation side – sustainable roofing – back in 2013 when we sold our roofing company – our replacement company.
TOM: So over that time, you’ve definitely seen sort of a degradation in the quality of roofing shingles. I know you and I chatted about it on the phone before the interview but it really has changed a lot in that period of time.
MIKE: Yeah. Today’s shingles are about a third less asphalt or a third lighter than, let’s say, the roof on your childhood home. Yeah. So a lot less asphalt, a lot less protection and they wear out quicker.
LESLIE: And I think over the time that you were in the roofing business with your brother, you saw how much waste replacing a roof generates. And I think it’s so interesting that you’ve sort of chosen a path to rejuvenate and restore and help extend the life.
So, how exactly does Roof Maxx work?
MIKE: Well, asphalt – just the roof over your head. An asphalt roof, just like the roads we drive on, they have oil – petrochemical oil – that allows it to remain waterproof and flexible. Your roof is contracting and expanding. And for the same reason you get a pothole, ultimately, in the road is why a roof starts to break off in high winds. It’s because the asphalt loses the oil. It becomes brittle and it breaks apart.
So, we have a natural, plant-based treatment that soaks down into the asphalt and replaces the lost petrochemical oil with a bio-oil, like a skin moisturizer for your roof, if you will. And it brings the flexibility and the waterproofing protection back to life.
TOM: Now, I saw the product demoed and in the demo, you took some very old, brittle, cracking shingles: the kind that I saw many, many times in the many years I spent as a professional home inspector. And after a treatment of Roof Life, they flexed like a piece of rubber. It was really pretty amazing.
Can you tell me a little bit about how long Roof Maxx lasts? How long will that kind of flexibility stay when you take a shingle that’s deteriorating and cracked like that and then rejuvenate it?
MIKE: We guarantee each treatment to last for 5 years and to remain flexible for 5 years. And we bring the roof flexibility back to that of a brand-new roof. We had testing done by Ohio State University and one of the testing labs used by the manufacturers. We took 17-year-old shingles and brought them back to the same flexibility required of a brand-new roof.
So, it’ll last for 5 years but we can do up to 3 treatments. So we can go look at the roof after each treatment. Five years later, we come out, we assess the roof. “OK, can we get a second treatment?” But on average, we can treat a roof twice.
LESLIE: Is there ever a roof that’s too far gone for the Roof Maxx treatment?
MIKE: Yeah, absolutely. About 10 percent of the roofs that we assess are not treatable. So we just suggest a replacement. There’s just not much we can do. They’re too far gone. And most of the time, it’s not just the shingle itself. Many times it is but much of the time, it is poor flashing details around the skylight and the chimney, things of that nature.
So, we’re not a sealant, we’re not a coating that’s going on the roof, so we’re really not stopping it from leaking. We’re keeping the shingles flexible and waterproof so that they can perform. But the flashings, that’s something different.
TOM: We’re talking to Mike Feazel. He’s the president of Roof Maxx.
And Mike, when you guys go to a house to do the job, do you do sort of a onceover or kind of like a tune-up on things like that? Because every house has some loose or broken shingles or a piece of loose flashing or something of that nature. And while you’re there, you’re the experts. Do you offer the homeowner the opportunity to have those small repairs fixed before they become big ones?
MIKE: Yeah. So part of the assessment process is coming out to look at the shingles themselves but it’s also to look at that entire roof. The flashings are the most leak-prone areas of the roof, so we’re going to look at the flashings of the roof as a whole. And then we share the pictures with the property owner and then we can perform the tune-up prior to treatment, if they would like us to.
LESLIE: Is it super expensive? How does it compare to the cost of a replacement roof? I imagine it’s got to have some sort of substantial savings.
MIKE: It is. It’s about an 80-percent savings over a roof replacement. So, yeah – and roofing costs have gone up, literally, about 30 percent since the beginning of COVID back in March of 2020 so – as everything, right? The costs have skyrocketed.
TOM: Well, it’s a fantastic technology. And your treatment also comes with a 5-year transferable warranty. So, Mike, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. We’re happy to tell your story and look forward to hearing the results of all of our listeners when they get a chance to try out Roof Maxx. R-o-o-f-M-a-x-x.com is the website. Roof Maxx – with two Xs – .com. Or you can call them at 855-ROOF-MAXX. That’s 855-ROOF-M-A-X-X.
Mike Feazel, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
MIKE: Thanks for having me on.
LESLIE: Well, we’re giving away a brand-new product from Daich Coatings this hour. We’ve got a great granite-transformation kit. If you have a countertop that’s not granite, we’re going to make you have one that looks just like it with this Daich Coating LuxROCK Solid-Surface Granite Countertop. It’s definitely a do-it-yourself project. It goes smoothly over your existing countertop and completely transforms it and performs just like real granite.
Now, normally that kit’s 299 but it’s on sale now, through April 30th, for just 239 at Home Depot, Lowe’s and DaichCoatings.com. But we’ve got that one to give away today, so maybe it’s going to be you.
TOM: So, if you’d like to have a chance at winning that LuxROCK Granite Countertop Kit, you’ve got to reach out to us with your questions. We’ll draw one winner out of those that reach us for today’s show.
The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT. But if you want a quick answer to your question, download The Money Pit app at MoneyPit.com/Ask.
LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Judy on the line who needs some help with a wood floor. What can we do for you?
JUDY: We are purchasing a house, which is under construction, and we chose hardwood floors. It’s my understanding these will be glued-down type, not floated. I would like to know, especially – what’s the best way to care for them, especially in the kitchen? And I had heard of people using steam to clean them and that’s something that is new to me. Can you enlighten me?
TOM: The only type of glued-down floor that I’m aware of is a parquet floor. Now, if that’s not the case, I would like to know what product exactly they’re putting down.
I will say that, most likely, most of these hardwood floors today are prefinished. And if they’re prefinished, my quick answer is you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance.
Whether you use steam or not – those steam mops, I have some concerns about them because they do get so hot that if they are held in one place for too long, they can cause the wood to swell. But maybe if they’re used carefully and without on the highest level of steam, they probably are OK for hardwood-floor maintenance and cleaning.
JUDY: Alright. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Having a pet is a rewarding experience in so many ways but the mess that happens is not one of them. We’re going to have tips to create a space that works for both people and pets.
And Leslie, where do we start?
LESLIE: Well, you want to pick up pet-friendly furniture: you know, definitely things that are made from a fabric that’s not going to get caught in the pet’s nails or something that they’re not going to easily ruin and definitely something that is easily cleanable. So, you want to make sure that that’s the first thing you pick: durable, good things that will last regardless of how your pet treats it.
Next, you want to protect everything. So if you’ve got something at home already that’s maybe a little questionable how that’s going to react with your animal, you can add a pet-proof cover. This way, you don’t have to worry about the hair or the mess or anything else that happens when your animals are sitting on your sofas.
Now, if you are going to redecorate, definitely look for those fabrics that are going to be durable, that are going to be easier to clean. And you also want to find ones that are resistant to odors, stains, moisture. I mean really, really ideal if you’ve got a cat or dog in your life, because they will find a way to bring everything and anything onto your furniture and then totally make a mess of it.
TOM: Now, you might also think about adding a pet-washing station into your home. This way, you and your dog, when you head out on a rainy day, only one of you knows to wipe your feet before heading back inside. So if you’ve got a mud room, it’s a perfect place to install one of these things so you try to keep that mud from getting through the rest of the house.
Now, a dog-washing station is basically a rectangular stall just for your pooch, with a spray hose. And it makes those rainy, muddy walks a little more bearable on the way back into the house.
LESLIE: Gary in Virginia is on the line and is dealing with some odor coming from the sink. Tell us what’s going on.
GARY: We do have a problem in the bathroom. I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I don’t know whether it could be trapped gases or whether it could be – I don’t think it’s anything in the water, because it’s just in the bathroom. But a lot of times when we take a shower, get out and – now, if we get dried off and everything and leave the bathroom or come back in, it’s a terrible odor in there. It smells like you – kind of like a sewer, I guess, maybe.
GARY: But we’ve had our septic pump (inaudible) last year and it’s not that. And it not only happens in the shower, it can happen if we use the tub or sometimes if we’re at the sink, like we shave – or if I shave or something like that and finish up, it’s like it comes up through the pipe. But it doesn’t happen every time. It could happen twice a week, it could happen no time.
TOM: It sounds like something we call “biogas.” You get bacteria that will form in the drains and in the traps and in the fittings around there. And the bacteria itself has an awful odor to it.
TOM: So what I would do is I would take the trap apart for the bathroom sink, because you can get to that. I would use a bottle brush and scrub the heck out of all of that. I would put it back together and fill the entire trap with oxygenated bleach and let it sit.
I would do the same thing for the bathtub. I would take the drain cover off and I would use a bottle brush to get down there and scrub the insides of those pipes. And I would fill those with oxygenated bleach and let them sit. Because the bleach is going to kill those microbes, kill that bacteria.
TOM: And that should make a difference. If it is biogas, it smells terrible and …
GARY: Then why wouldn’t it do that at every time?
TOM: Well, sometimes it’s more active than others is all I could say. But it depends on a lot of things, including the air pressure in the room. If the room happens to have a lower pressure because of other things going on in the house, it may draw out or not. So, it’s probably there all the time; it’s just that you don’t smell it because of the airflow.
GARY: Yeah. Well, we’ve had a plumber look at it and he’s just – he can’t find the answer, either, so I had …
TOM: Yeah. Well, I think if you Google “biogas,” you’ll see that there are a lot of folks that have the same issue. And this is how you solve it.
GARY: Right. Alright. I appreciate your help.
LESLIE: Jack wrote in and he says, “My outside light post isn’t working as a light fixture but the plug part seems OK. I added some string lights but then the breaker tripped. I went back and re-snapped that breaker. Several days elapsed and then it snapped again. I also noticed the lights in the entire house flickered. I know I’m going to have to call an electrician. However, do you have any idea what’s going on here?”
TOM: Well, I do know that the breakers are not supposed to be turned on and off like it’s a slot machine here, Jack. Seriously, it’s going off for a reason. A circuit breaker exists to prevent the wiring from overheating and catching on fire. It’s matched to the size of the wire. So, if it’s a Number 14 wire, it’s going to have a 15-amp breaker. And if that breaker keeps going off, it means that either that wire is being used to carry too much current. And that happens if you’ve got, I don’t know, a couple of air conditioners and you plug in the vacuum or you plug in the hair dryer and then it pops, OK. So you’ve got to unplug something when that happens.
But it also goes off when you’re getting a short and that can be dangerous, especially because you’re talking about some outside lighting here. So, this is now past way beyond the skill set of the average homeowner. You really need to call an electrician and figure this out.
If it’s an old light fixture like that, frankly, you might be better off just buying a new one. It’s going to have a built-in ground fault as opposed to adding one to the circuit. Might be less expensive overall. But it definitely is unsafe what you’re doing. You need to get to the bottom of it.
But when you have these breakers that are going off and the lights that are flickering, those are really bad signs.
LESLIE: Definitely something you need to take care of, because you just don’t want to risk it. Electricity is so tricky, so you want to make sure you get this handled.
TOM: Well, even a tiny water leak can cause a lot of damage over time. So if you’ve got a spare half-hour, you can easily check for leaks in and under all the sinks in your home. Leslie explains how, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah, here’s the best way to check for leaks in sinks.
First of all, you want to turn each faucet on and run it full-blast for a minute or two. Then, with a bright flashlight, inspect the drain under the sink. If no leak is spotted, you want to close the stopper and let the sink fill up until it hits that overflow. Now, don’t walk away during this part, because some faucets can fill a sink faster than that overflow can drain it and you’re going to end up with a whole bunch of water on the floor.
Now, after the water has been running through the overflow for another minute or two, check the drain under the sink again. If no leak is spotted, your sink is good to go. And then you can move on to the next sink and repeat. I mean it’s really a simple way just to check, make sure things are all in good shape. And you should do so every so often.
We had, the other day – I’ve had our two pedestal sinks in our bathroom for a long, long, long time and have not updated any of the plumbing in at least 10 years. And I was brushing my teeth at 3:00 a.m. getting ready for work and I was like, “Why are my feet getting wet?”
TOM: Oh, man. That’s not good.
LESLIE: The PVC pipe – yeah, the trap. I don’t know if it suddenly cracked. I couldn’t see because, first of all, I was still half asleep. And the way the pedestal is, I couldn’t really see what was going on but I could feel where the water was coming from right in that U, that elbow sort of there in that trap.
And it was a simple fix but these things happen quickly. So you’ve got to just kind of give yourself some checks once in a while.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, are you envious over your neighbor’s green, lush lawn? Well, it doesn’t happen by magic. We’re going to give you some tips for fertilizing to make sure it can happen for your lawn, as well, 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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