Adding Pass-Throughs Between Rooms, Accessing Project Help Info In One Easy Touch, and Ladder Safety Tips
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you take on your home improvement project. Do you have a what we call a “direct-it-yourself dilemma”? Maybe a job that you would like to direct to somebody else to do? And maybe that’s even your spouse. That’s OK. If you need some tips to get going, we’re here to help, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, we’ve got tips to help open up your floor plan without a full remodel. If you’re feeling a bit claustrophobic in your own home, Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House is going to stop by with ideas for adding a pass-through doorway to open up the areas between rooms.
LESLIE: And don’t let a hard-to-reach job leave you reaching out for help from a hospital bed. We’re going to have must-do ladder-safety tips to know before you step on that first rung.
TOM: And speaking of help, finding home improvement help is no fun when you’re in the middle of a project. Well, now you can access it easily, in one place, with a hot, new home improvement app for your Apple or Android smartphone. We’ll have a review, just ahead.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Outlet. It doesn’t just detect electrical fires, it actually prevents them by cutting off power when there’s trouble.
TOM: And it’s so easy to install, any do-it-yourselfer can do it. It’s a prize worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those who reach us for today’s show. So what are you waiting for? The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Heading out to Kansas where Mike is on the line. What can we do for you today?
MIKE: Hi. My girlfriend and I purchased a house about three years ago. And when we did, we had it inspected, naturally. And the inspectors told us that our roof was in pretty good condition. It only had one layer. And the previous homeowner said that it was about seven years old.
This year, we’ve been having some leaking issues. And our – we had our insurance inspector come out and inspect it and he said that, really, there was not a whole lot we could do, that it was just a minor leak. And he put some caulk on it and that it would be OK. That was about three, maybe four months ago. And then a couple weeks ago, we’ve been getting all this rain and there – the leak is happening again.
So I went up there and kind of looked around and I found what I believe is the source of the leak.
MIKE: And I noticed (audio gap) kind of odd. Where the water is pooling up at, there’s a bunch of little, green granules. I’m imagining that’s from the previous set of shingles, because the shingles we have on there now are gray. So I’m not sure if our inspector was wrong, and we’ve actually got more than one layer up there, or what the reason for those granules being there would be and if that’s something that we could actually bring to our insurance adjuster and say, “Hey, there is something seriously wrong here.”
TOM: Well, the insurance adjuster is not going to help you with a defect in the construction of the house. If you have a leak that’s caused by a storm, that’s something the insurance adjuster can help you with, because that’s covered by your homeowners insurance.
You have a pitched roof with asphalt shingles?
TOM: And the area where it leaks, are you near any intersections of anything with that roof? By intersection, I mean does the chimney come through there? Does a pipe come through there? Do two roofs sort of intersect together at opposing angles? Is there a space where the roof matched – meets up with the exterior wall of the house? Anything like that?
MIKE: Yeah. Actually, at the back of the house, toward the kitchen. And I’m not sure if the correct term is “valley,” where the roof kind of comes together and it all drains down (audio gap) gutter is at.
TOM: And is that valley where the contractor applied the caulk that you’re calling it?
MIKE: I’m not sure exactly where he applied it. He just said that they did.
TOM: Well, look, if – and how old is the roof?
MIKE: The previous homeowner said it was about seven years and that was two years ago. So now it’s about 9, 10 years old.
TOM: And he said there was one layer?
MIKE: According to the inspectors and the previous homeowner, there is one layer.
TOM: So that means that the old layer was removed and the new layer was put on. It was a fiberglass shingle. And fiberglass shingles that are about 10 years old, some of them have this issue with cracking or checking. And essentially, they develop fractures in them where leaks can occur.
The only way to really see it is to literally be on the roof, looking straight down at it. And if you see it, it’ll be obvious to you. It kind of looks like a fissuring kind of pattern. But clearly you’ve got a roof leak. Caulking is not the solution, ever. If it’s in the valley, the valley would need to be taken apart and reroofed.
And one way to kind of narrow down where it is – and you may not be the person to do this but a good contractor or a roofer could do this – is to take a garden hose and start wetting the roof down but starting it down low and working your way up.
So, for example, if I thought the valley was leaking, I might let a hose run there for an hour or two and see if I can spot a leak underneath it. But I’d be careful not to put the water up higher than the valley so that if it did leak, I knew exactly where it was happening. Does that make sense?
MIKE: OK. Awesome. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Laurel from Louisiana on the line with help with a tiling project. How can we help you today?
LAUREL: My husband and I are building a new house right now and we’re putting ceramic tiles in the living room and the kitchen. And it’s not going to be sealed, so we were wondering what was the best kind of sealant to put on that ceramic tile.
TOM: What kind of tile are you using that’s not sealed? Are you trying to say that it’s not glazed?
LAUREL: No, it was glazed but I was told that you need to put a sealant over it to make the tile last longer?
TOM: No, not true. The glazing is plenty tough enough to protect the tile. What you – the sealant usually refers to the grout. And if you seal the grout, it can help keep it cleaner and repel water. And the grout sealants are silicone-based.
So, as long as you use a good grout sealant – and the time to do this is before you move in, you know? Because once you move in and you start grinding some dirt in that tile, it becomes a lot harder to maintain. But if you seal the grout right after the tile is installed, that’s the best time to do it.
LAUREL: What would be the best kind to use?
TOM: A silicone one. A silicone-based grout sealant is what you’re looking for.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you want to look for one that applies in a manner that you are comfortable with. Like if you’re doing a smaller grout line, you would look for one that almost looks like a nail-polish brush or a rolling foam wheel. With a floor tile, you could be looking at a ¼-inch to a ½-inch grout line, so that’s easier to apply. But you want to make sure you have something that you feel comfortable applying strictly to the grouted areas.
LAUREL: OK. Alright. Well, thank you.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with your home improvement projects. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
So the next time you drag out a ladder to take on a project, remember this rule: what goes up must come down. And we hope not quickly and violently. You’ve got to be careful with those ladders. We’ll have safety tips to follow, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And some things you just can’t control and electrical fires have always been one of them, until now.
LESLIE: Yeah. This hour, we’re giving away the Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Outlet. All you need to do is replace one standard receptacle with it. It’s really easy to do and it’s really affordable, as well. And that can actually help you prevent electrical fires in your home.
TOM: It’s a prize worth $50 but goes home free with one caller this hour, so let us hear your home improvement headaches at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JIM: Yes. I have hard water in my house and every, I don’t know, year about I have to clean out my water heater to get the calcium deposits out. So, my question is – first of all, is there a better tool than a shop vac with a piece of copper tubing taped to it to get into the – I take the bottom element out and I shove that in there and try to clean that calcium out. Is there a way to liquefy that so that I could wash it out? Or is there a water heater on the market that provides access to that?
TOM: So, how much calcium do you actually think you’re getting out of this when you open it up?
JIM: Oh, my. It gets to the point where it’s almost to the bottom element.
TOM: I wonder if you could put a filtration system in before the water heater that will take some of that away.
Yeah, the problem with calcium is not so much that it shortens the life of the water heater, it just acts as an insulator. And so, if you have it – I’m sorry, you have a gas – you have an electric water heater?
JIM: It’s electric, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. So it’s probably not even affecting your efficiency much because it’s just taking up room.
See, if you have a gas water heater and the flame is underneath it, then it acts as an insulator and the gas has to run longer to heat the water up. Because you have an electric water heater where the elements are embedded up higher in the unit, I don’t think it has any effect on the efficiency.
JIM: Well, how I found out about this was the element went bad.
JIM: The bottom element. And I took it out to replace it and I couldn’t hardly get it out; it was actually above the element, at that point, the first time.
TOM: Yeah. You know why? Because it probably – that might have shortened the life of the element, because it basically held the heat into it, didn’t allow it to cool like it normally does. So I could definitely see it shortening the life of it.
Do you have any other type of filtration system on the well?
JIM: Just an in-line filter that we put on. We had the water tested and an ultraviolet light and an in-line filter is all we have.
TOM: There is an electronic device called EasyWater that basically will help suspend those water particles – those mineral salts – in the water and kind of let it flush right through, as opposed to collecting.
TOM: And I like it because it’s no salt involved. You know, it basically doesn’t add to the salinity of the water. It does it electronically. It’s at EasyWater.com.
Take a look at it. They also have an extraordinarily good warranty. If you install it and you don’t like it, they’ll send you your money back.
JIM: Alright. Great. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Cheryl in Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CHERYL: I have a cement porch. The house was built 1981 and it has a cement front porch to it. And along the edges of the porch, it’s cracking and crumbling off.
CHERYL: And then on one portion of the porch, it actually has a – water stands there because it’s a dip. I just wondered if there’s an economical way I can fix that to make this porch last a little bit longer.
TOM: Yeah. And there’s a couple of things that you can do. You can either resurface the whole porch surface or you could mix up a recipe of QUIKRETE products that could be used to patch those badly chipped or spalled areas.
Now, the key here is that you just can’t buy a cement mix in the bag, mix it up and be done. Because when you’re trying to adhere new concrete to old concrete, you need to use products that are designed to make that bond possible.
So if you go to QUIKRETE.com, you look at the listings for projects, there are actually one-sheets there that give you the step-by-step for repairing badly damaged concrete. There’s also a one-sheet for resurfacing concrete. And I think one of those two applications and the products they recommend there are going to work.
It is a do-it-yourself project and it’s not terribly expensive. The products are very affordable and the instructions are there, too. But make sure you follow them. It’s like mixing a recipe: you can’t leave out one item or it’s just not going to come out right.
CHERYL: OK. And then, now, as far as along those edges that – we have to probably build up a sidewall.
TOM: You could mix it up into a consistency where you could trowel it and reform the edge.
CHERYL: Oh, OK. Cool. So QUIKRETE.com. Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, if you’re heading outside for home repairs up high, a good ladder is a big help. But you need to understand how to use it properly to make sure that gravity doesn’t get the best of you. Because ladder falls send hundreds of people to emergency rooms every single year. And some falls can be pretty darn serious. That’s why we’ve got your ladder-safety tips in this week’s Pro Tip, presented by Grayne Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group.
LESLIE: Yeah. I think the biggest mistake that you can make is taking shortcuts. So in order to be safe, a ladder needs to remain stationary. If you’ve got an extension ladder, you need to level the feet by digging out the ground or by using ladder levelers.
TOM: Now, on hard, dry ground, you want to rest the feet flat, free of slippery plastic tarps and debris. And make sure that the textured rubber pads are intact.
Now, on grass or soft ground, be sure to flip the feet up and drive their spiked ends into the ground. Or lay the feet flat and tie them down on the side or brace them in front with 1×2 stakes or bigger.
LESLIE: Yeah. You also want to make sure that you position the ladder so that the distance from its base to the wall is about a quarter of the height of the ladder at its resting point, so creating a 75-degree angle. If you want a quick check on the angle of your ladder, stand facing it with your feet touching its feet and extend your arms out. Your palms should be resting on a rung about shoulder height.
TOM: And lastly, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Look for things like overhead wires before you carry or you set up the ladder. And don’t rest an extension ladder against a tree or a pole where it can rotate and fall.
And that’s today’s Pro Tip, presented by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. The uncompromising beauty of Grayne’s 5-inch shingle siding offers the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today. And that’s G-r-a-y-n-e.com.
LESLIE: Jackie in Colorado is working on a flooring project. How can we lend you a hand?
JACKIE: I have a battleship linoleum on the floor. I can live with it but it’s starting to crack in front of the door in the furnace. And it was probably put down in 1930 but …
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what, those old linoleum floors, they lasted a long time. But I think, Jackie, it’s time for you to consider redecorating.
JACKIE: There’s no way I’m going to get this floor up.
JACKIE: I know it’s underneath some old boards and I have a half-a-basement underneath. And when I walk across it, it squeaks, so I know it’s the flooring underneath the linoleum. It’s probably not good.
TOM: Well, the fact that it squeaks doesn’t mean it’s not good; it just means that it’s dry and there’s – perhaps loose and some boards are rubbing against each other. Quieting the squeaks is one thing; getting a new floor is another. So, let’s just talk about how to quiet the squeaks first.
And this is something that a pro can do for you. Your floor, no matter how old it is, is going to be installed and secured to floor joists below – floor beams below. A pro can identify where those beams are and they can drive screws from the floor, through the subfloor, through the linoleum and into the floor below. Doing that every 12 to 18 inches will stabilize that floor and cause it to squeak less. Be unlikely to expect no squeaks but you’ll definitely quiet it down.
Now, once that’s done, you could put a new floor on top of that. And one of the easiest, new floors to put down is laminate flooring. Laminate flooring doesn’t actually physically attach to the old floor; it floats over it. The panels all snap together and they are cut up to about a ¼-inch away from the wall. And then you trim the edge that’s left and it looks terrific and it’s incredibly durable. I’m not going to tell you it’s going to last the 80 years that your first floor lasted but I tell you what, I’ve had it in my house for over a decade and it’s worked great. And we brought three kids up on it.
JACKIE: I went to a department store in Home Depot and he said, well, the only thing he would recommend – he said, “You can’t put tile or anything like that, marble.” He said it will not work. But he said, “We have what they call a ‘floating floor.'”
TOM: Yeah, that’s the same thing. It’s not attached; it floats on the old floor. But laminate is the type of material that you’re interested in. They sell it at Home Depot. Lots of different types are there. You can also look at a website like LumberLiquidators.com. You know, you can buy this laminate floor from anywhere from about, oh, roughly $3 a square foot to maybe $5 a square foot. So it’s not terribly expensive and it’s beautiful.
It comes in many different designs. If you want it to look like tile, it can. If you want it to look like old hardwood floors, it can. And if you want it to look like linoleum again, it could do that. So you choose the design that matches the house.
JACKIE: Sounds good then. So, I just need to go back and tell him I need a floating floor.
TOM: Yeah, laminate. Laminate is what you’re looking for. And have it installed professionally, OK, Jackie?
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, open-concept homes are really popular but they’re hard to come by when you’re looking at older homes. Adding a path-through between rooms can actually help. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House is ahead with tips so that you can do just that.
TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Stanley and their FatMax Diamond Screwdrivers featuring Diamond Technology tips to reduce cam-out and double the tip life. Available in four-, six- and eight-piece sets. Learn more at StanleyTools.com.
ADAM: I’m Adam Carolla. I’ve built hundreds of houses and I can tell you how to avoid falling into that money pit: listen to Money Pit Radio with Tom and Leslie.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs. To get more information about how to help improve your home’s electrical safety, visit www.GetSafeToday.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And hey, why not stop worrying about splinters, rot and loose railings? You can get the most out of your outdoor space with The Money Pit’s deck-care and maintenance tips. They’re online at the home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Well, older homes have charm and character. The thing they often lack is an open floor plan and that’s something that more and more modern families are wanting. Well, the good news is that you don’t have to stick with the layout offered in your older home.
TOM: One way to create an open feel in a closed space is to build a pass-through between the rooms. Here to tell us how to do just that is This Old House general contractor Tom Silva.
TOM SILVA: Thank you. Nice to be here.
TOM: So, we’re basically talking about ripping a hole in a wall. It sounds pretty difficult. But what do we need to keep in mind to make sure that we don’t maybe uncover any surprises?
TOM SILVA: Mm-hmm. Well, I think the biggest thing you want to do is make sure that the second floor doesn’t end up on the first floor.
TOM: Yeah, that’s probably a good point.
TOM SILVA: That would be cutting into a structural wall and you don’t want to do that.
TOM SILVA: So the first thing you need to do is find out if it’s a load-bearing wall.
TOM: So what are some clues for that?
TOM SILVA: The first thing I’d do is I’d go into the basement and I’d look at the way that the floor joists on the basement run. And if they run to the center of the building, then any wall that’s in the center of the building that runs perpendicular to those joists is a load bearing wall, in most cases.
LESLIE: Now, what if you have a finished basement and you can’t see that?
TOM SILVA: Well, then try to go to the attic. And get up into the attic and see the ceiling joists in the attic. In most cases, they’re going to run the same way. There’s a lot of options. If in doubt, get an engineer, alright?
TOM: Good point.
TOM SILVA: But once you’ve figured out that the joists are resting on a load-bearing wall, now you’ve got a whole different problem and a whole different issue. You can cut into that wall but you’ve got to know what you’re doing to cut into it.
TOM: That probably goes beyond the scope of DIY at that point. But let’s say that it’s not load-bearing and you’re pretty much figuring it’s just a partition wall. You just want to open it up and get some more light in there. What’s the first thing you do? Kind of lay out your opening?
TOM SILVA: Well, you can lay out the opening but again, you want to inspect for any pipes, you want to inspect for any ductwork, you want to inspect for any electrical work.
TOM: Ah, good point.
LESLIE: You can’t just go willy-nilly like people really want to do.
TOM SILVA: Well, everybody – demolition is easy.
TOM: That’s the fun part.
TOM SILVA: The fun part. It’s quick and it’s very gratifying. You say, “Wow, I did that in 15 minutes.” But you’ve got to make sure you don’t cut a water line, a heat line or ductwork.
And so, again, go to the basement, find if there’s anything going up and you’ll see it. If there’s an electrical wire there, get an electrician. If it’s a plumbing or a heating line, hot water, get a plumber involved. Get him on-call or standby, just in case.
TOM: Now, here’s a question I have. Let’s say we’ve cleared that, we want to try to open this up. Is there a way to plan this so that you don’t actually open up more wall than what you’ll end up, in terms of the actually finished space? In other words, sometimes people tend to take out too much wall and they have to put wall back?
TOM SILVA: Yeah, yeah. So I …
TOM: So how do you avoid that work?
TOM SILVA: Well, what I like to do is I actually figure out my finished dimension.
TOM SILVA: I figure that out and then I draw it on the wall exactly how I want it to go. And then I take a reciprocating saw and I take the saw and I lay it down. And what I mean by lay it down, the handle end of the saw will go really close to the wall so when I turn that saw around, just the tip of the blade goes through that wallboard. And I cut all the way across the top two sides and across the bottom and then I pull the piece out. Now I haven’t cut any of the structure.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So you can see really what’s going on.
TOM SILVA: Right. And I haven’t worried about hitting any wires or pipes because the blade hasn’t been in deep.
TOM: Ah, good point.
TOM SILVA: You know, you could go the old-fashioned way. When I was a kid, we used to do it with a saw. You’d do it with a keyhole saw and you’d cut your hole. You can actually feel a pipe, you can feel a wire.
TOM: You hope.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, well. I never did cut a wire with a keyhole. So I have cut it with a reciprocating saw and it’s not fun.
So, once you’ve done that, you’ve peeled it out of the way, if you don’t have any pipes or wires in the way then you can cut away at the structure and get it reframed.
TOM: And basically, when you reframe it, you’re really just trying to create an opening to attach the drywall to on the insides of that jamb, right?
TOM SILVA: Right.
TOM: There’s not so much of a structural issue, in terms of any load, at that point.
TOM SILVA: Right. Now again, once I have my finished opening in the drywall, I then calculate the difference of the thickness of two two-bys. And if I need to put a small header up top, I calculate that. I then go down where each stud is, I put a level line on the wall and I take my saw and I then drive it into the wall, holding my saw as square and level as possible. Just cut the stud off, tap it and pull it out of the opening and then I can frame it down into the opening.
TOM: So, basically, you plunge-cut right into the wall?
TOM SILVA: Yep.
TOM: And just deep enough so that when you actually rebuild it, it sits flush with the original opening.
TOM SILVA: Exactly. And then all I have to do is tape over the crack where the saw blade went in.
LESLIE: That’s really great. And I think it’s interesting because if you’re doing a pass-through, I mean it really gives you a lot of interesting opportunities, as far as use of this space.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, it gives you the illusion that the space has just been brought into another dimension. You brought the other room into this room with – and still have places to put the kitchen table or the living-room couch and it’s great.
But yeah, one thing I recommend whenever you’re cutting a drywall with a reciprocating saw or a SKILSAW or anything like that is always have a good vacuum close by the blade when cutting. Have someone hold it close but make sure that you have a good filter in the vacuum, also, because you don’t want to blow the dust right around the whole house.
TOM: Yeah. Good advice. Boy, I tell you, it’s a great project. It really does open up the possibilities when you open up the wall. You could even have sort of a bar there where you can do like a kitchen sort of nook kind of thing.
TOM SILVA: Sure.
TOM: Yeah. Lot of design options.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Pass the drinks through. There you go.
LESLIE: Right? And I mean really. I have a friend. Both of us live in like the exact same Dutch Colonial across the street from each other. And I love the charming sort of separate rooms and the spaces that it creates, because it’s cozy. And she just wants to blow every wall out of her space. So it’s interesting because you see the difference in families and their use of the space and what they want. It’s good to know that all options are out there.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Somebody likes the open floor plan and somebody likes it closed in a little bit.
TOM: So the bottom line is that this is a project you can do but if it’s a load-bearing wall, that’s where you really need to get a pro to help.
TOM SILVA: Well, you should get a pro to help, to always have an engineer involved to find out what size header you’re going to need. I’ve done plenty of them and you’ve probably done a few of them. It’s just something that you don’t want to tackle without some knowledge.
TOM: Good advice. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: Always a pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House andAsk This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.
Coming up, you hate scrambling for answers in the middle of a project? Well, there’s an app for that. Learn all about it when The Money Pit continues, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And sometimes, no matter what you do, problems can occur. Dangers can happen inside your house. And electrical fires are one of those if you’re not super-careful.
LESLIE: Yeah. But one of our lucky callers this hour won’t ever have to worry about it again. This hour, we’re giving away the Leviton Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Outlet.
TOM: It installs easily to prevent electrical fires before they start. It’s a prize worth 50 bucks and it can save your life. Learn more at GetSafeToday.com. That’s GetSafeToday.com. And give us a call for your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Andrew in Texas has had something very unfortunate happen to a pool: the steps broke? What happened?
ANDREW: Well, we were just chilling out in the pool one night and it’s got a brand-new liner in it. In East Texas, they use salt-water pools, so you have to line them. And my buddy was getting out of the pool. He stepped on the fiberglass steps, which were not brand-new. And unfortunately, his foot went through the steps.
LESLIE: Now, the fiberglass steps are underneath your liner or these sort of sit on top as like an attachment?
ANDREW: It’s an attachment to the liner. They’re two separate entities that are underwater.
TOM: OK. Can the fiberglass steps be removed from the pool, for repair purposes?
ANDREW: I believe so. I have not tried it. In all honesty, looking at the degradation of the steps, the shape that they’re in, I think it’d be easier to just do a quick patch right now, if that’s possible, or just entirely remove the steps. But can I do that without sacrificing the liner?
TOM: Yeah, if you can get the steps out of the pool, like disconnecting them out of the pool, the easy way to do that patch is with more fiberglass. You can go to an auto-repair store – like a Pep Boys or a place like that that sells, perhaps, auto-body supplies – and you can buy fiberglass.
You could buy the fiberglass resin and you can buy the fiberglass material itself. And you apply the resin to the step, you press the material in place, you let it dry and then you would add more resin on top of that and then more – and then gelcoat to finish it off.
Now, it’s not going to match, color-wise, but it could be very strong and perhaps, next time, your friend won’t step right through them.
ANDREW: An easy fix is an easy fix, right?
TOM: Yeah. But the easiest thing is to get it out of the water so that you don’t have to drain the water. And you could do that repair on your – maybe in your garage, on a workbench or something like that. And then just put the whole assembly back in after it’s nice and dry and strong again.
Andrew, does that help you out?
ANDREW: Very much so. I sure do appreciate the help. You all have a wonderful evening and God bless, alright?
TOM: So, you remember back in the day when you had to run to one of those big desktop computers or worse yet, pull an actual book off a bookshelf to get the answer to a home improvement project question? Well, smartphones have certainly changed all of that. They’re great for getting information right on the spot, right when you need it.
LESLIE: Yeah. I’m always wondering, how do they get the entire Encyclopedia Britannicainto my iPhone? Like how did that happen? It’s amazing.
But seriously, guys, navigating browsers and even search engines on your phone is tough, especially if you’re in the thick of a project and you’ve got paint and caulk or sawdust all over you.
TOM: Well, for DIYers and pros alike, there’s an app for that: the QUIKRETE mobile app for one-touch access to all the info you need for any home improvement job. Fewer steps, less hassle.
LESLIE: Yeah, they’ve got how-to videos for every step of the job, to quantity calculators which show you exactly how much product you’re going to need. It’s all there, all the time, just a few easy touches away.
TOM: There’s even this cool, built-in scanner that lets you swipe over barcodes for added product information. And you can learn more about it before you buy it or even take it out of its package.
LESLIE: And I can’t imagine but if you still need help, the QUIKRETE mobile app is going to let you dial customer service with one easy touch.
TOM: Check it out at QUIKRETE.com today. Download the free mobile app to your Apple or Android device. That’s QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E – .com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to talk to Tom who’s got a porch question. How can we help you today?
TOM (CALLER): I have a three-season porch, aluminum. And the inside, on the struts – not the panels themselves but the support struts that support them – I have like an oxidation or mineral deposit. And it’s white and I’m trying to figure out how to take it off.
TOM: Do you think it’s the result of a leak, Tom?
TOM (CALLER): Yeah, moisture building up. It’s not just in one spot. It’s all along the whole bottom strut, on the whole porch.
TOM: So if it’s a mineral deposit, the easiest way to get rid of that is with a vinegar – a white-vinegar-and-water solution. Because the vinegar will melt the salts.
TOM (CALLER): OK.
TOM: Now, if that takes it off, great. It’s not going to stop it from reappearing. If that’s the condition, what you really need to do is look for ways to dehumidify that space. Because the moisture is going to continue to condense on that and form those deposits, even if you were to get it clean again.
The other product that you could think about using is called CLR – Calcium, Lime, Rust Remover. That’s another type of mineral-salt cleaner that’s a little bit stronger than vinegar and water but that will also work, as well.
TOM (CALLER): OK. That won’t take the – it’s anodized aluminum. It’s that brown, bronzed aluminum for a three-season porch. That won’t affect it? The CLR?
TOM: I don’t believe it will. But you could always try it in a – you know, they always say test a small area. But I think you’re going to find that the reaction of that material on the salts will just melt it away.
TOM (CALLER): OK. I’ll give that a try.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Coming up, have you guys ever had a door leak just because of super-heavy rain? Well, if you did, then you know how Whitney feels. We’re going to solve her problem and maybe yours, as well, when we jump into The Money Pit Community section, next.
TOM: And you can get answers to your home improvement questions and maybe even hear them on the air, too. Just head on over to MoneyPit.com/Community and click Ask a Question.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Hey, what are you guys working on? Are you working on trying to find money to get a project going in your house? Well, don’t worry if you don’t have a remodeling budget. It’s not a problem. Head on over to MoneyPit.com. We’ve got tons of ideas for home decorating and design on a dime, including tips to create a modern kitchen. That’s MoneyPit.com and search the phrase “creating a modern kitchen on a budget.”
And while you’re there, jump into the Community section. And we’re going to answer a question from Whitney who writes: “The winds in my coastal-area home often drive rain at an angle. The problem is we’ve got a leaking sliding-glass door and it’s leaking where the glass door meets the ceiling. Where should we look to try to fix this?”
TOM: Those types of leaks, Whitney, where it’s a wind-driven leak, are among the most difficult to locate. And so what most people end up doing is they’ll do sort of surface repairs. Like they’ll try to caulk around the door and sometimes that helps a little bit. But truth be told, if you really, really want to fix this, you probably are going to have to replace the flashing that’s around the door.
So you take off some of the siding to expose that area and then you replace the flashing. And what I would use is not metal flashing, which is what was there probably originally, I would use a flexible flashing. There’s materials that are kind of almost like rubbery and sort of stretchy with a little bit of a tacky back.
I know Grace makes a product called Vycor which meets this kind of definition. And essentially, it gets stuck above the door on top of the drip edge and then the siding falls over that. So it completely seals it in all the way around. They even have an edge piece called a VYCORner that will seal in the corners at the edge.
And if you were to reflash all the way around the door like that, that will handle those wind-driven rain situations. Unfortunately, it’s hard to do a little bit of this. You either have to try – just touch it up and hope it works with caulk but if not, you’ve got to take that siding off and reflash it. And frankly, a pro can do this inside of probably an hour or two. So it’s not a terrible job but it does have to be done.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Jason who writes: “The combination of all this hot weather and very little rain has my lawn looking like a hayfield. Is the grass dead? Is it too late to save it?”
TOM: Actually, it’s not. What happens is, in order to preserve itself, it goes dormant.
LESLIE: It plays dead, like an armadillo.
TOM: It plays dead. Exactly. It’s playing dead. That’s exactly what it’s doing. And the thing is, you can make sure it comes back quickly by trying not to walk on it. Sometimes when it’s dead like that, folks will walk on it and it’ll sort of ground it away into nothing. And that could be a big problem. It can take even longer to come back. But if you can keep people off of the lawn as much as possible, you’ll find that as soon as it starts to rain again, it will sort of re-green itself and the color will come back up, like sort of soaking up like a sponge. You’ll be amazed.
Now, the other thing that’s interesting – and I just read about this this week; you may have seen this, Leslie -there’s folks out in California that are suffering because they can’t water their lawns and they don’t like the way they look. So you know what they’re doing? There’s companies now that spray-paint the lawns green.
LESLIE: Get out of town.
TOM: I kid you not. They’re painting their lawns green.
LESLIE: Now, I have to tell you, I was out in L.A. for a meeting in December and as I was driving through, you see all those Christmas tree stands. And while they have beautiful, live trees, there’s also some amazing, spray-painted trees that kind of looked cool. They were like red and purple.
LESLIE: I mean not my cup of tea but who knows? If I lived on the West Coast, maybe I might do that.
TOM: Maybe. You never know. Crazy, right?
LESLIE: Crazy. Can I spray the lawn purple?
TOM: I guess color you want.
LESLIE: Maybe green. Maybe green is the safest bet to go. Not yellow because then it would look dead.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you for listening to us on this fine and beautiful summer day. We hope that you have been able to accomplish a project or two around your house this weekend. Or maybe if you’re just relaxing and thinking about what has to be done, that perhaps a few of the tips we’ve provided can help you make those projects just a little bit more doable.
Remember, if you’ve got questions about something you’d like to get done in your house, you can call us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. And you can always post your question to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
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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(Copyright 2015 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.)