- Home Staging: Selling your home? These kitchen staging tips will help close the deal.
- Home Improvement Projects: Lifestyle needs are the leading reason for home improvement. Find out more from a recent survey.
- Landscape Lighting: The best light scaping offers safety and security around your home. Here’s how landscape lighting will improve your nighttime view.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Lawn Maintenance: What is the best way to reseed your lawn? After Adrian’s lawn was destroyed by pests, he should kill off the weeds and old grass, then use the best type of seed for his area to plant new growth.
- Sealing a Deck: Should you seal a deck after staining it? If Dawn used a good quality solid stain, it should last a few years without being sealed.
- Heating Efficiency: Chris wants to know whether a pellet stove or heat pump is more efficient. We discuss the pros and cons of each and how it’s used.
- Heated Tile Flooring: The in-floor heating caused cracks in a bathroom tile floor. We recommend a membrane with a built-in heating system that June should use instead.
- Heat Pump: Jim had two different heat pumps fail, and expensive repairs were poorly done. He’d be better off getting a newer, more efficient model of heat pump or a gas furnace.
- Adjusting a Boiler: Gail needs to adjust her boiler so the water won’t get too hot, but then it reduces the heat in her home. She needs a mixing valve to add cold water to the hot water without affecting her heating.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are ready for spring. We’ve got to tell you that. We are ready. We are raring to go. It’s getting close. We’ve had a couple of warm weekend days. Was tempted to get out there and get started on some things but I waited because I know – I figured it’d probably snow as soon I start to paint something. Because it’s so unpredictable right now, the weather, right?
LESLIE: That’s usually what happens.
TOM: Yeah. And I feel there’s going to be a big March blowout that’s going to, you know, set me back a little bit.
But anyway, if you’ve got some projects that you guys are thinking about getting done, you’re in the right place because we’d love to help you get those projects done by giving you some tips and advice based on our 20 plus years of experience in these seats, tackling these projects. We know which end of the hammer to hold and we are there to help you. Now, we won’t hold the nail for you, because we know better. But we will tell you what you need to know to get that project done, whether you’re doing it yourself or you’re hiring a pro. So, first thing is reach out to us and that’s by going to MoneyPit.com/Ask. MoneyPit.com/Ask. You can record a question for us right there and we’ll get to it in the next show or you can call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, coming up on today’s episode, if you are trying to sell your home, the kitchen is the one room that really has to stand out. We’re going to share some tips to help you make your kitchen really close the deal with some smart staging, just ahead.
LESLIE: And if there’s one thing that the pandemic left us with, it’s a new appreciation for the space we call home. In fact, according to research conducted by Angi, for the last 3 years the top reason for completing a home improvement project has been to make the home better to suit your lifestyle needs. So home expert, Mallory Micetich, is joining us with the results, including how much folks are actually spending on all of those projects, just ahead.
TOM: And while most folks focus on how their landscape looks, they may not be as focused on how their lightscape looks. With the right combination of low-voltage lighting, there is a whole new view awaiting you, so we’re going to walk you through those options, just ahead.
LESLIE: But first, are you dreaming about a special project to tackle this upcoming spring season? Well, whatever it is, if you can dream it, you can do it and we can help. So reach out to Team Money Pit to get your project started.
TOM: Go to MoneyPit.com/Ask or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Adrian in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
ADRIAN: Yes, I have a question about Bermuda seeds. Last year, my lawn was destroyed by armyworms. And I wanted to know what was the best way to reseed my lawn using hybrid Bermuda seeds.
TOM: So your lawn was destroyed by worms? Is that what you said?
ADRIAN: Yeah, armyworms. In the South, we get – yeah.
TOM: Oh, armyworms. Oh, interesting, yeah.
And what did you do to address the infestation?
ADRIAN: We used pesticide and …
TOM: Mm-hmm. OK. Did you kill the lawn in the process?
ADRIAN: Some of the Bermuda.
TOM: What you might want to do is do a Roundup restoration. A Roundup restoration is where you treat all of the lawn – and actually, it’s a little bit late now because you would do this in the fall. But you would treat all – the entire lawn, which basically kills the lawn and anything that’s coming up through it, like the weeds and all of that. And then, as that starts to die off – I think you have to wait 2 weeks or so after doing the application – you actually seed right on top of it or seed through it.
TOM: The way the process works is the new grass grows up through the old grass. And as the old grass kind of deteriorates away, the new grass comes up but the old grass sort of holds it in place and helps it get going. And if you do it early enough, then you have pretty good root depth by the time the warm summer sun starts to arrive.
And in terms of selecting that seed – you mentioned a couple of seeds. I’m not quite sure with – whether or not either of those work in your part of the country. I might do some more local research on that. But if you’ve had a diseased lawn in the past, that’s one way to deal with it.
We did that to our house many, many years ago and what we got – at the very first spring, it came up and we had a nice, green lawn. It was thin. It wasn’t really dense because it was the first season.
TOM: But by the time we got to the second and the third season, man, I tell you what, it was really thick and beautiful. And I’m very, very happy that we did that because the other option would have been to continually treat every ailment the lawn had with pesticides. And I was very pleased with just having done it once and not had to do it again.
I will say, though, it’s kind of shocking when your entire lawn turns brown at the same time. Your neighbors kind of wonder what’s going on at your house. But it really did work.
TOM: So it’s called a “Roundup restoration.” I might be tempted to give that a try in this particular situation, Adrian.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading out to Pennsylvania, we’ve got Dawn on the line with a decking question.
DAWN: I listened to the question earlier about refinishing a deck. We did use a solid-color stain on the deck. It is exposed to sun and rain with no covering on it. When we refinish it the next time, would it be advisable to put some kind of a sealer, like a polyurethane, over that stain?
TOM: So, Dawn, if you are using a good-quality solid stain, you absolutely don’t need to put any kind of sealer on top of that. You mentioned a urethane or a Varathane. That’s not going to help you in this case and it’s really not going to buy anything in terms of longevity. You want to make sure that that wood can breathe. It’s going to give the board some ultraviolet – UV – protection. It will cut down on the cracks and the checks in the color. Should last you a few years.
You’re going to be doing this every year. I’m afraid if you put anything on that that’s like a sealer, like a urethane like you’re suggesting, it’s just going to peel and look really terrible. So I think you’ve done the right thing and you just take it from there.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Chris on the line who’s got a heating question and is looking at two very different sources: heat pumps versus pellet stoves.
Tell us what you’re thinking.
CHRIS: I’ve got a question. What do you think is more efficient in a four-bedroom house: a pellet stove or a heat pump?
TOM: The first thing that occurs to me, Leslie, is a heat pump is going to be hooked up into a central heating system – a central ducted system. A pellet stove, on the other hand, is going to be sort of a point-of-use heat, right? Like one stove in the middle of the house.
LESLIE: I mean every time I’ve ever seen a pellet stove and it’s been mostly at – if a friend’s got a vacation house in the woods somewhere. That pellet stove is strictly for those rooms that it’s in.
TOM: Right. Or it could heat the whole house if it’s set up for that way but typically, if you’re going to have a heat pump, that’s going to be part of your heating-and-air-conditioning system. It’s going to supply that warm air through a duct system that’s distributed throughout the house.
So, I think it’s kind of hard to compare efficiency. They’re just two totally different systems. I will say this. You didn’t mention where you were calling from, Chris, but if you are in the South, a heat pump is perfectly suited for that. If you were in the North, then not so much because they really don’t work as efficiently when you get, say, northwards of maybe, I don’t know, the Georgia line maybe, where it starts to really get into some cold weather. You certainly get up into our part of the country, the Northeast, the Midwest, it’s going to be very cold. So, in those areas, heat pumps can very expensive to run, because heat pumps will only maintain heat within a 3-degree range.
What I mean by that is if you set your temperature for, say, 68 and the heat – and the temperature in the house falls to 67 or 66 or 65, the heat pump will run. If it gets any deeper than that, the heat pump will bring on electric-resistance heat, which is built into the system and costs at least twice as much to run and get that temperature back up. So it ends up hitting that sort of emergency-heat zone more often than you want and that makes it really expensive.
So, Leslie, I think you’re right. If you’ve got an open cabin, open-design house, if you’ve got a pellet stove and you like that, you don’t mind having to buy pellets and feed it all the time – of course, there’s automatic feeders but you just can’t ignore it, you know? I certainly wouldn’t go away and leave it on.
LESLIE: No. And that’s the thing. I’ve always felt like you’ve got to be in the room. They make me a little nervous. I know for no reason but it just seems like you’ve got to watch them.
June in Alaska is on the line with a question about tiles cracking on the floor.
How can we help you today?
JUNE: I was listening to your wonderful program and when you got to the part about the in-floor heat, the – we have a lot of that here in our area, the in-floor heating, and I love it.
JUNE: However, our home is only 10 years old. It’s fairly new. But I noticed my bathroom floors, they have ceramic tile and we have some hairline cracks in them.
TOM: OK. Yeah.
JUNE: But I thought when – OK, I’m going to replace them.
JUNE: But when I do that, I want to know how to have the people do it properly so that doesn’t happen again.
TOM: Right. Yeah. So I think you may have heard us talking to the representative from Schluter Systems. You’re referring to the remote show that I did up in Newton, Massachusetts with all of the guys at This Old House. And we were talking about one of the products they put in, which is a product called DITRA. And DITRA is a membrane that goes under tile and it does just that: it prevents cracking. But now they have DITRA where they’ve combined it with a heating system, so you can have an electric floor underneath your tile and you know that the tile is going to be both warm and it will not crack.
So it’s a really cool product. Very effective. And I really hate to get the calls from folks that are asking me how to stop the floors from cracking, because there’s no easy answer. It just – it’s happening because the floor wasn’t put down correctly to begin with. But now, you can put down this DITRA product with the heating system built in. There’s a Wi-Fi thermostat that’s available for it. And you’ve got all the parts in one place.
TOM: So, I would definitely encourage you to look into that when you’re ready to do the floor. Just look for the Schluter Systems, their website. And it’s pretty obvious. It’s called DITRA-HEAT. They’ve been making products for pros that install tile for a long, long time. And that’s why the guys at This Old House use them for so many of those critical bathroom projects there.
TOM: Alright, June. Good luck with that project.
JUNE: Love your program.
TOM: Well, thank you very much.
Well, if you’re putting your home on the market this spring, making sure the kitchen looks its best is really critical to helping potential buyers picture themselves cooking and dining and entertaining there someday. Now, according to Realtor.com, you don’t need to knock down walls or spend a lot of money on renos or professional home staging services, for that matter, as long as you avoid making some very rookie mistakes.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, the buyers want to see lots of counterspace, so clear up any clutter you’ve got, remove those dish racks, the pile of mail, small appliances, any gadgets, all of that stuff. Because they want to see how much space you actually have available and then they can clutter it up with their own stuff and figure out that there’s really not a lot of space.
Next, you want to show off those more impressive items. If you’ve got a stand mixer, an espresso machine – and then, just seriously, put everything else away in the cabinets or plastic bins so that they’re not going to see all of the stuff or – this is a good chance for you to start just getting rid of the things that you don’t need. So when you do move, you’re moving with less.
TOM: Yeah. And you hope they don’t open those cabinet doors and everything falls out again, right?
LESLIE: Or that closet you’re shoving everything in.
TOM: Yeah. Now, the other thing is good lighting. You want to make sure the kitchen is very well-lit and eliminate any dark spaces by adding small lamps or under-cabinet lighting where it’s needed.
Now, you can use LED light strips, for example, or even rechargeable light bulbs if you don’t have any electrical outlets nearby. I’m always amazed with how bright those battery-powered LED lights can be, because they’re just amazing how much juice you can get of there and how much equivalent wattage you can get from just a battery.
We’ve got some of these. For example, I’ve got some on a basement stair. Those batteries have, so far, lasted over a year without replacing. And this is a spotlight, so it’s pretty amazing.
LESLIE: Now, you also have to remember one more thing: get rid of the personal stuff. People want to envision themselves in the house and not really your family kind of living there at the point. So, if you’ve got some photos and fridge magnets, just take away all that personal stuff. Remove signs, wall art that’s kind of too personal to you or too cutesy. You want it to feel appealing to them. You want them to envision themselves in the space. So, go ahead and get rid of that personal stuff.
TOM: Now, adjacent to the kitchen is the dining area. It could be a kitchen table, it could be a dining room, it could be a breakfast bar. You want to arrange attractive place settings to make the buyers look forward to sitting down, enjoying a home-cooked meal there, by adding things like fruit, cloth napkins or flowers but without overcrowding that surface.
LESLIE: Now, here’s another thing: you want to avoid having rugs on the kitchen floor so that the room looks as spacious as possible. Now, those rugs and rug mats can create floor clutter. And if you’ve got newer floors, you really want to make sure that they’re visible, because that’s a selling feature, instead of covering them up.
TOM: And this is critical: cleaning. I mean regular cleaning is good but if you’re going to sell your house, deep-cleaning your kitchen is even better. Buyers are going to look closely inside cabinets and drawers, as well as surfaces. So you want to eliminate all the dirt, the grime, the grease that accumulates in the kitchen and gets hidden in those corners. Stove hoods, range tops, it’s worth hiring a professional house-cleaning crew to make things really sparkle.
LESLIE: Yeah. And here’s another thing. Say you’ve cooked a big meal the night before you’re about to show the house and the house kind of still smells like food? Go ahead and bake a batch of cookies or something that’s really yummy and delicious-smelling, so that’s kind of like a tempting, delicious scent that folks are going to smell when they walk in the house. And they’ll be like, “Ooh, this house is like cookies and I like it.”
TOM: I remember some years ago when I was going in as a home inspector and I’d say, “Oh, the house smells good. What are you baking?” She says, “I don’t bake. I just put a couple of drops of vanilla on a lightbulb.” It smelled like the place was baking chocolate-chip cookies, you know?
LESLIE: Heading over to chat with Jim who’s got some serious heat-pump problems.
What’s going on at your Money Pit?
JIM: I’ve had two heat pumps and the first one went dead right after the warranty expiration of 10 years. The second one that I’ve currently got has had issues, now, in the seventh year. And I can explain it more deeply but it evidently broke a seal between the copper line where it goes into the compressor. The service company tried to solder it and that broke after 2 days and now I’m stuck with bills because it takes 10 pounds of R-410A to fill it. When it loses everything, that costs me 500 plus another 250 for the labor, so I don’t want to keep repetitively trying to have my service person solder and then it breaks and I’m back to another $750 bill.
So, I think my driving question is going to be: what should I do with this heat pump that’s basically dead, now, after 7 years?
TOM: Hey, Jim, here’s a question. Why are you paying a second time for a refrigerant to refill the soldered refrigerant line that broke when the service technician obviously didn’t solder it correctly? The guy solders it, fills the system up, it lasts 2 days and now they want you to pay again for him to solder it a second time? That’s ridiculous. There has to be some level of workmanship, some level of warranty on the guy’s work. If you paid this once, I think it’s their responsibility to repair it again and to pay for more refrigerant which, by the way, is kind of a ridiculous price that they’re charging you there.
So I would definitely go back to your service company and tell them it’s not your problem that their work wasn’t done well enough and failed in 2 days. That’s not why you hired them, that’s not why you paid their rates. It was to make sure they did it once and did it right so you don’t have to do it again every 2 days, right?
Beyond that, I don’t think it’s worth – if this doesn’t solve it, I don’t think it’s worth trying to save the heat pump further. Plus, the heat pumps today are much more efficient than they were 7 or 10 years ago. So, if this doesn’t get straightened out, I would tell you to replace the system. And if there’s an opportunity to change fuels – maybe when this was put in, you had electricity and now there’s gas in the street, go with a gas furnace. It has a lot fewer moving parts and will definitely last a lot longer.
LESLIE: Well, if there’s one thing that the pandemic left us with, it’s a new appreciation for the space we call home. In fact, according to research conducted by Angi, for the last 3 years the top reason for completing a home improvement project has been to make the home better to suit your lifestyle needs.
TOM: And with us to talk about that is Mallory Micetich, home expert for Angi.
MALLORY: Hi. Thanks for having me on today.
TOM: This shift is really interesting because pre-pandemic, the reasons for remodeling were a heck of a lot different, right?
MALLORY: Oh, they were so different. It was actually – there was really one main motivating factor, pre-pandemic, for the improvement work people were doing in their home. And that was ROI and resale value.
TOM: Wow. Mm-hmm.
MALLORY: We’ve seen, since 2020, that that has completely shifted. Whether it’s because people are spending more time in their home or they just bought a home, people are doing work to get their homes to suit their current needs. That’s a big shift.
TOM: It’s kind of like we lost sight of the reason we have a home, you know what I mean? It’s not just to sell it in the future; it’s to enjoy it while we have it.
MALLORY: Yeah, absolutely. I mean I think that is one of the positive outcomes of the last couple of years. We really – especially when we were forced to spend all this time in our homes, we really got to see this additional value. It’s not just an investment vehicle. I think what happened in 2008 primed a lot of us to think about our homes in a very investment, money-focused way.
And then all of a sudden, something happened. Everyone’s like, “Hey, you’ve got to stay home. You’re not going into the office.” All of that stuff that used to live outside of home came inside and we really started to appreciate the space in a different way. And that flowed all the way through to home improvement projects.
LESLIE: Now, do you think you’re seeing folks kind of maintaining things in their home a lot better because of the time spent at the homes, so that they’re extending the life of certain areas of the house? Or are they just starting from scratch in new spots in the home?
MALLORY: Yeah, that is a great question. We have been seeing an uptick in home maintenance projects, so think things like keeping up with the systems in your home: things like lawn care, cleaning, that ever-pesky task of getting your gutters cleaned. We’ve seen a really strong uptick starting in 2020. On average, the homeowner is doing about seven-and-a-half jobs per year just on home maintenance projects, which – that’s a lot. However, we all know our homes probably have more than seven maintenance projects a year, so we still think that there’s room to grow for homeowners in terms of maintenance and how they approach maintenance.
TOM: Well, what about the bigger project – the bigger sort of investment level projects? Are folks still doing the bathroom and kitchen remodels? I saw a note here that said you’re seeing an uptick in things like adding solar panels, which is kind of cool.
MALLORY: Yeah. We are. And yes, to answer your question, yes. We are still seeing people take on some of those big improvement projects.
Last year, in 2022, across all home improvement maintenance and emergency repair work, homeowners spend about 13,000. And a bulk of that – around 9,000 – was on those larger improvement projects.
Looking forward, homeowners still want to take on a lot of work. And we saw bathrooms, solar panels, outdoor renovations, refinishing basements and even upgrading HVAC systems as the top 5 projects people wanted to take on in the next 5 years. So, yes, people are still taking on the big projects and they want to keep doing so over the next 5 years.
LESLIE: Are they spending a ton of money on these projects? What kind of plans are they coming up with to pay for these?
MALLORY: Yeah. So, that is an interesting question, as well. We find that people are pretty budget-conscious when it comes to home improvement projects. There’s definitely folks that take on high-end but the average American homeowner is spending around $13,000 annually on all these projects combined. That being said, obviously, there are probably some years where you take on a little bit more expensive ones and other years where you don’t.
But when we ask folks thinking about the next 5 years in the future, these large investment projects, how do you want to fund them, the number-one response was cash. And then right after that, credit card.
So, unlike years past where they might have been thinking about more traditional loan-type investments – and this could absolutely be a reaction to interest rates. We see people saying, “I want to fund this with cash,” and “I want to fund this with credit cards.”
TOM: Yeah. They also may not be building up the equity like they used to, as quickly, because home values – and because the cost of the money is so high right now, right? So they’re not really – they don’t really have a lot of money they could tap into like with a home remodeling loan. So, paying cash is always the best way because they say cash is king, right? And it’s just nice to be able to have that and spend it and be done with it.
You know what I think one of the great values is of the kinds of survey work that you guys do at Angi is a lot of times, folks are buying homes and they don’t really have much of a clue as to what the upkeep and the maintenance and the reno costs should be. And you’ve got some really good guidance from doing the work that you guys do. As you said, the average spend across all of the home improvement maintenance and emergencies was 13 grand. So, across 12-and-a-half projects, so roughly $1,000 a project. You know, that’s the kind of money you have to be able to sort of have set aside when you buy a house, because you’re going to be spending it.
And then, the other number is – what’s the budget for home maintenance project? And you guys calculated that at one percent. So one percent of your home value is what you’re going to be spending every year just for the maintenance projects: the heating-and-cooling system services and things of that nature, the chimney cleaning. That’s going to all add up to be about one percent of your home’s value. So, really good guidance so you’re not surprised by these types of expenses when they happen.
LESLIE: Now, Mallory, what about emergencies? Sometimes you can’t maintain everything or maybe you just did and something goes kablooey. So, what should you be you be planning for?
MALLORY: Yeah. We find, on average, a homeowner has about one to two unplanned home emergencies every year. And the average price tag for those is around $2,000. So this is absolutely something that we highly recommend every homeowner consider. Have a pool of at least $2,000 – I more recommend around 5,000 – sitting and ready just in case anything comes up.
We’re also seeing an increase in these home emergencies correlating to some of the extreme weather that we’re seeing more around the entire United States. So, whether it’s issues due to some of the severe rains that we’re having out in California or the freezes that we’re seeing throughout the state of Texas, even the kind of recent tornados in the Southeastern United States. These kind of weather-related home emergencies are also happening with a little bit more frequency.
So, yes, absolutely, homeowners should be setting aside some money annually for these unexpected emergencies. Generally, if a homeowner has a home emergency, it’s about $2,000. But I say it’s always better to budget a little more savings so you know that you’ll have money to cover it. Even if it is something that’s eventually going to be covered by your homeowners insurance, you still might be paying out of pocket for a period of time.
TOM: Good advice. Mallory Micetich from Angi, the home expert. Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
And on this show, we say, “You could do it yourself but you don’t have to do it alone.” And that includes getting help from good, qualified pros. You can find a pro to tackle your project by going to Angi.com.
MALLORY: Awesome. Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, while most homeowners are focusing on how their landscape looks, they might not be focused on their lightscape. Now, with the right combination of exterior lighting, there’s a whole new night view that’s awaiting you and your neighbors, as well.
Now, a good lighting design can not only add safety and security but it can also add style if you do it right. So here’s what you need to consider. First of all, budget. Oh my goodness. When it comes to outdoor lighting, there definitely is a huge range there.
Now, exterior lighting costs can run from a little to a lot. And adding a lightscape to a home where you plan to be for only a few years is going to merit kind of a different level of exterior lighting investment than a home you’re going to be in for a very long time.
But even for bigger lighting plans, this is one improvement that you can easily spread over a number of years. You do one side or one type of lighting at a time and then you can sort of tackle it little by little.
TOM: Now, whether you’re working with a pro or shopping for do-it-yourself lighting systems, go for quality fixtures and components. Low-voltage, definitely the way to go but you really need to work with good materials like copper and brass. There are a lot of cheap landscape lights out there and some of them rarely last more than a season or two. So you’re better off buying good-quality fixtures and breaking your project up into smaller chunks to spread that cost out.
LESLIE: Now, you also want to think about creating mood and creating focus. A range of outdoor lighting fixtures make it possible to illuminate the home’s exterior as well as any Hollywood lighting designer could really do, to focus that lighting on key features. That’s definitely what you want to do.
You want to think about focal points in the front yard, in the backyard. And those are the areas that are going to receive the brightest and say, the most dramatic spotlighting. And then build the rest of the outdoor-lighting scheme around that. Now, overall, you’re going to shoot for a natural look that kind of replicates moonlight streaming softly from above, as opposed to those heavy doses of uplighting.
TOM: Yep. And one final point: remember to think about this as a system where you have multiple components all combining to create that lightscape. Many times, you think of lighting one fixture at a time but in this case, you want to plan it out so it all works together to highlight your home.
LESLIE: Heading over to Gail in Virginia who’s got a heating-system question.
What’s going on?
GAIL: I have an oil furnace that provides my heat and my hot water.
GAIL: My problem is is that I constantly, constantly have to adjust the water temperature in my shower.
TOM: Because it’s too hot or it’s too cold or what?
GAIL: Yeah. Too hot.
GAIL: I’ve tried turning it down. I’ve tried turning the temperature down on the furnace but then it affects my heat and I run out of hot water.
TOM: I know exactly what you have. You don’t actually have a furnace; you have a boiler.
TOM: And you have an indirect water heater.
Is there a tank – the tank-like structure next to the boiler? Or is it all coming straight off the boiler?
GAIL: Straight off the boiler.
TOM: OK. So, what you want to look for – and maybe next time you have this system serviced, you should be able to find this – is there’s a valve called a “mixing valve.” And the purpose of the mixing valve is to add cold water to that 160-odd-degree water that comes off the heating system. Because you don’t want to have that full-temperature water going to your shower, because you’re going to get scalded. All tankless coils – that’s the kind of system you have, by the way; it’s called a “tankless coil,” it’s built into the boiler – have a mixing valve. And the mixing valve adds that cold water into it. And this way, you have two, basically, ways to adjust temperature.
As you’ve discovered, if you turn the temperature down for the water going through the boiler, your house doesn’t heat quite so well because your radiators don’t get hot. But they’re really two separate purposes. The water that you’re using domestically for the shower shouldn’t get any hotter than 110 or 120 degrees max.
But for the heating system – do you have steel radiators or cast-iron? What kind of radiators do you have?
TOM: OK. So those steel baseboard radiators, usually you have to have 160-, 170-degree water coming out of the boiler for that, for them to work right. So, that’s what’s going on. You just need to find your mixing valve. So I would make sure you identify that and have the technician show you how to operate it and set it, because you shouldn’t have to keep messing around with it, OK?
GAIL: Excellent. Thank you so very much.
LESLIE: Patty wrote in saying, “I’m replacing my T1-11 plywood siding with a vinyl siding and I’ve got one side of the house that’s buckled. And I’m wondering if that particular side should be removed.”
TOM: Well, not remove, Patty, but definitely fix so that the vinyl lies flat. T1-11 actually plays two roles. It acts as both a sheathing, which structurally reinforces the framing of the exterior home, and it serves as the siding, which keeps the water out. So, you definitely need it.
But if the siding is not going over a flat surface, it’s not going to lay right. It’s going to warp, especially in the warmer weather. And when that siding is installed, it’s really important that it’s not nailed solidly to that sheathing; it’s nailed loosely. You want to make sure siding has the ability to expand and contract. That’s why behind the siding, the nailing flange has slats at the end, not holes. Because you want to make sure it can slide back and forth. And if you have a flat surface and the right installation, you’ll be good to go for many, many years.
Well, have you seen some gunk or odors inside your fridge? Leslie has got some tips on the best way to keep it clean and clear away bacteria that can spoil your food, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
Leslie? I always see some gunk now and again in my fridge. Seems like it’s a constant battle, de-gunking.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean think about it: you’re in that fridge every day, multiple times a day, with all kinds of stuff, things that can be messy and things that can spill. It’s definitely an interesting place, so you’ve got to think about at some time it’s going to get gunky and it’s going to get stinky.
So, how do you tackle that? Well, you need to regularly wipe down those shelves, the drawers, even the walls of the fridge because that’s going to help remove those stains and then remove those odors. But it’s also important for cleaning bacteria that can spoil food.
Now, Whirlpool has a few helpful tips for cleaning your fridge and keeping things fresh. First of all, remove everything. Take inventory of all the food that’s in the fridge and even in the freezer. Toss out anything that’s spoiled or expired and then place the rest in coolers so it’s not going to spoil while you do the work. Then go ahead, turn the power off or unplug the fridge and remove the shelves and the drawers so they warm up. Nothing is worse than trying to clean some gunk off of a really cold shelf. It just doesn’t go anywhere.
So, next there, you want to deep-clean that interior. You can use a mild, non-abrasive cleaner that’s going to degrease and also disinfect. You can start by wiping down the walls, the ceiling, the bottom surface. Remember all of the drawers, all of the shelves. Then rinse everything. You want to use a soft, damp cloth and then let everything dry completely before you kind of put it all back together.
Now, it’s also important to clean underneath the fridge. In fact, a handy, flat, cleaning wand, like the kinds you use for dusting window shades and the blinds, that can actually help sweep the bottom and clean the condenser coils. And clean coils are going to help to regulate that temperature inside of the refrigerator.
Now, lastly, everybody’s hands are touching the outside of that fridge and think about all the germs and if you’ve got kids, everything they’re touching. And then they’re touching the fridge and maybe they’re picking their nose. You know, I might be speaking from experience of what goes on in my house.
LESLIE: But those fridge handles are gross. It’s gross. So, definitely clean the handles. But also clean the door seals and the doors themselves. You can use a mix of dish soap and water and then dry everything thoroughly. And then, by the time you’re done, you might be hungry. So, you can reach into that nice, clean fridge and grab something to eat for all your hard work.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, when most of us head for a hot shower to get the blood flowing first thing in the morning, we often have to wait and sometimes wait and wait for the water that runs through the shower to get hot, right? Well, a hot-water recirculation system can solve this once and for all. It’s not hard to do and we’ll explain the details, 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.
(Copyright 2023 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.)
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