Building Blocks for Backyard Projects, Ideas for Easy Appliance Cleaning and How to Spot Termites Before they Dine on Your House
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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question because we are here to help you. Yes, we are working this Memorial Day weekend. Are you working, as well? Well, let’s do the project together.
LESLIE: Well, you’re working the grill.
TOM: Yeah, you’re working the grill. That’s OK. Maybe you just want to plan your project. It’s a good time to chat it up with your family and your friends, get some advice. We’ve got some advice for you on how to get that job done once, done right so you can spend more time on that grill, working it all summer long. Give us a call with those questions at 888-MONEY-PIT. Home improvement, home décor, home fix-up, we’re here to help you, 888-666-3974.
Hey, coming up this hour, it is, of course, a fantastic time of year for outdoor living. And if you want to step up your space, we’ve got tips on creating projects, like grill surrounds and fire pits and benches, that are as easy to build as stacking blocks.
LESLIE: Plus, if you’ve been putting off your spring cleaning because you just don’t have the energy to take that first step, well, come on. We’re almost at summer, guys. So we’re going to share some tips of a system that will do the cleaning for you, literally.
TOM: And also ahead, what do you think when you see a termite in your house? Do you panic? Well, you might not have to if you know how to spot the difference between a termite and other far-less destructive, common, household creatures like ants. We’re going to share a simple identification tip, just ahead.
LESLIE: I mean it’s kind of hard. They don’t carry IDs. So it’s not like you can just ask them.
Alright, guys. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a very high-tech tool to one lucky listener. We’ve got the RYOBI 18-Volt Cordless Brad Nailer with AirStrike Technology. And it’s a prize worth $129.
TOM: RYOBI products are available exclusively at The Home Depot. But if you call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat for a chance at winning this terrific tool, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Bill in Missouri has a new driveway and needs some help with finishing it. What can we do for you?
BILL: I had a new driveway – concrete driveway – put in.
BILL: And I’m wondering if I need to put some kind of a sealer on that or just leave it like it is. The finish they put on it looks like they used a real stiff broom or something on it and it’s got the lines cut all the way down it on both – all over it, you know.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s designed to give you some traction in the winter so that you don’t slip on it as easily.
I don’t think it’s necessary for you to seal it. If you were to seal it, you would need to make sure you’re using a vapor-permeable sealer. Because what happens with some sealers is the moisture gets trapped underneath of them and then it can’t evaporate out. And it will cause the concrete to spall or crack.
But concrete driveways are not – it’s not necessary to seal them on a regular basis.
TOM: Just be cautious with the type of salt that you use to deice. Don’t use anything that has rock salt in it.
BILL: I’ve got a real quick question for you. I had a new deck built in the back and they used pressure-treated yellowwood on it. And I had no idea that the yellow they were talking about was going to be the sap coming out of it.
BILL: And I was wondering, is there some kind of a sealer or something that I can do about that?
TOM: Well, when you have a new pressure-treated deck, we generally suggest that you wait about a year before doing this. And then you could apply a solid-color stain to it. If you put a solid-color stain to it, it will cover some of the sap, as well. And frankly, by then, some of it will have already evaporated. You could sand those areas to try to get rid of any big deposits but I would wait about a year and then I would treat it with a good, solid-color, exterior deck stain.
BILL: Oh, OK. Well, I sure appreciate your help.
TOM: New driveway, new deck. You know what to do next. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Louise in Texas is on the line and needs some help cleaning up after a gardening project gone awry. Tell us what happened.
LOUISE: Oh, yes. We have these insidious vines. One found its way in a crack – I guess my windows weren’t very good – and it grew into a back bedroom that I had closed off this winter. And it grew across my wall and onto the ceiling. So I pulled it down and cut it off and I went outside and now it has left behind hard stuff on there that I can’t get off. I don’t know how to get it off without damaging the wall.
TOM: Yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about. And whenever you have a vine attached to a house, those attachment points are really insidious. They’re very hard to get off and it really takes nothing more than elbow grease.
And so, if you’re talking about a drywall surface here, you’re literally going to have to sand that surface, lightly abrade that surface, because you don’t want to cut through the paper to get off anything that the vine left behind.
Then once you’re done sanding it, then you have to prime it. And you need to use a good-quality primer here and prime the entire surface, if not the entire room, and then repaint the room. But there’s no way to clean what’s left behind with that vine debris. You have to actually physically abrade it off. Scrape it, prime it, sand it to get rid of it.
And if you want to slow down those vines from growing on the outside of your house, think about spraying Roundup on them. Roundup, you spray it on the leaves and it goes down through the plant’s infrastructure and kills them at the roots. And that might help get it under control.
Alright, Louise. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Gary in Pennsylvania unfortunately had a flood and needs some help picking up the pieces. What can we do for you?
GARY: We had a flood here: a flash food. Rain came down in 8 hours, about 7 to 10 inches. It flooded our basement with about a foot of water. And I’m interested in finding out from you folks how we can get back to normal as far as the basement is concerned. It smells. We did manage to get the sump pump going and get the water out of the basement. But it was – like I said, it was a foot around the furniture and everything. And how can I manage to get things back to where they were before the flood?
TOM: Alright. So, when you have a flood situation like that, of course, it’s human nature that you want everything back just the way it was, as soon as possible. But from a practical standpoint, it doesn’t always work that way. Here at the Jersey Shore, we faced one of the worst hurricanes in history with Hurricane Sandy. And that was the natural reaction; everyone wanted to get back. And we always say, “No, you can’t get back that quickly because you’re going to make some mistakes along the way.”
So what you want to do first is you want – as you’ve already done, you got rid of the water. Secondly, you want to prevent further damage by removing all of the wet materials. So, wet carpet has to be tossed out. If the basement is finished, does it have drywall down there? Those drywall sections have to be cut out to above the flood line. If there’s insulation in the walls, that has to be pulled out. If you have furniture that’s water-damaged, you may have an option of saving some of that if you can get it upstairs and start to dry it out and kind of make a decision as you go. But frankly, a lot of that should be covered by insurance so I wouldn’t maybe try too hard to save it. But get all of that material out of there.
Now, you said it was a flash flood and it flooded the basement quickly. Any time you have water infiltration that’s consistent with rainfall, it can always be reduced, if not eliminated, by making sure that your drainage conditions outside are proper and that you have gutters, they’re clean, they’re extended from the house 4 to 6 feet – not just a few inches like normal gutters are – and that the soil slopes away. So those sorts of things can prevent further water infiltration.
And then after it’s all torn out, then you’re going to want to spray those – that basement floor and the walls down with a solution of bleach and water, about 10- to 20-percent bleach with water. That will kill any mold spores that are left behind. Then get some fans down there; dry that all out. And then once it’s dry, then you can think about putting it back together.
And next time, I would not put carpet on a basement floor because that’s a breeding factory for mold and mildew and dust mites, as well. OK?
GARY: Sounds like a winner to me. I certainly appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome, Gary. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call. We’re here for you to help you with whatever it is you are working on at your house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’ll answer questions, we’ll recommend a product, whatever you need. We want to make sure you get things done right the first time or at least the second time after you call us, 888-MONEY-PIT.
Still to come, we’ve got step-by-step tips on building a fire pit in your backyard. Can you say “s’mores”? The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What are you working on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend? We’d love to help. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You might just get the answer to your home improvement question.
Plus, this hour, we’re giving away to one lucky listener a great prize. It’s the RYOBI 18-Volt ONE+ System 18-Gauge Brad Nailer. This features AirStrike Technology, which eliminates the need for noisy compressors and bulky hoses or expensive gas cartridges. It also means faster setup and easier maneuvering on the job site.
The RYOBI 18-Volt 18-Gauge Brad Nailer is available at The Home Depot, exclusively, for 129 bucks. But one is going out to a lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Phyllis from the Jersey Shore calling in. What can we do for you today?
PHYLLIS: I am looking to purchase a home. And the problem is I’m looking at a very specific area because I don’t want to leave the current school district the children are in. And all the homes around here were built in the 60s. So my first question is: what should I look for in that era of home construction that might be a red flag? And also, the way the homes are all built, the bottom floor has radiant-floor heat and upstairs is hot-water baseboard. And I just – I can’t imagine that 50-year-old pipes are not going to go at some point. And I’m wondering, how do I make sure they’re OK or look for signs that they’re getting weak?
TOM: So you’re basically looking for the good, the bad and the ugly of 1960s construction.
TOM: And the story is that it’s actually a pretty good time for home construction. You had copper plumbing, you had decent wiring. Sometimes, the services were a little small but if the homes were mostly natural gas, you really don’t need more than about 100 amps to power pretty much everything, including central air conditioning. And you’ve got hardwood floors. Very frequently, you had hardwood floors in 1960 houses. And it’s interesting because they put the hardwood floors in and they very promptly covered them with wall-to-wall carpet.
LESLIE: With shag carpeting.
TOM: Or shag, yeah. That’s right. Which actually protects them very nicely and didn’t allow them to wear. So, it’s a pretty good year for home construction.
Now, because it’s a 50-year-old house, you’re obviously going to have – how old is the furnace? How old is the water heater? Stuff like that to consider. What’s the general maintenance been? But in terms of an era of home construction, I think it’s a really strong era.
Now, if you’d asked me about the 80s, I would tell you, eh, not so much. Those houses were put together pretty fast and not always in the best possible way. But the 60s is a pretty good year for construction.
PHYLLIS: Oh, good. Because I’m moving up. I live in an 80s house now.
TOM: Oh, there you go. So you’re going to get better.
In terms of that radiant heat, that’s probably one – the one weak link that that home has. But the thing is, you can’t really determine how far along it is and whether or not it’s going to break. It probably will eventually fail and when that happens, you’re going to be faced with a pretty costly repair. You’ll have to put in some sort of alternative heat system, because it’s virtually impossible to repair those pipes in the slab.
So the first floor of your house will either be running new baseboard pipes or you’ll be running electric radiant or you’ll be adding an air-to-water heat exchanger so that you can take hot water from the boiler, run it through a heat exchanger and blow air over it through your HVAC system, the same one you use to cool the house.
But I wouldn’t obsess about that. I mean it’s probably going to happen eventually but it may not even happen in the time that you own this next house. So if you like the neighborhood, 1960s is a pretty good era for home construction.
PHYLLIS: Great. That’s great news. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, I am a big backpacker. And after a long day on the trail, there’s nothing like relaxing around a campfire. But you can have that same campfire feeling all year long, in your very own backyard, when you build your very own fire pit.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what? It’s not a difficult project and it’s made even easier when you use RumbleStone from Pavestone.
Now, RumbleStone is an outdoor building block, basically. And RumbleStones fit together quickly and easily and they’re only limited by your imagination.
TOM: Now, for a round fire pit that’s about 10 inches high and about 45 inches across, you only need two sizes of RumbleStone: the mini blocks and the trapezoidal-shaped blocks. Now, you start by creating a stable, level project area. Then all you need to do is to lay out the trapezoidal and mini blocks in a circle. You alternate each one. And they can even be secured with construction adhesive, which is very cool because there’s no mortar necessary.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Three layers of RumbleStone really is all you need. For the second and third level, you want to offset the blocks from the layer beneath it. And then just line the bottom with sand and you’ll be ready to fire up s’mores in no time.
TOM: For a complete material list and instructions with more information, visit Pavestone.com and just look for the RumbleStone videos under the How To Guide tab.
LESLIE: David in Mississippi is on the line with some cracks in the foundation. Tell us what’s going on.
DAVID: My house is eight years old or nine years old this year. But I’ve got ceramic tile and it keeps cracking my ceramic tile.
TOM: So we’re talking about cracks in the floor, David?
DAVID: Yes. I hadn’t seen any in the walls or nothing, just in the floors with ceramic tile. And it’s in different rooms, too, so I know it’s more than one crack. I just – the only thing I can think is it’s stress cracks from the concrete foundation.
TOM: Well, it may or it may not be. Now, when you put ceramic tile on a concrete floor like that and especially in a large surface, there is an isolation membrane that works well to go down in between the concrete and the tile. And that helps to prevent the condition that you’re seeing.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for this. There’s no inexpensive way to stop a floor from cracking if, potentially, it was installed improperly to begin with. The only general advice we can give you is to make sure you try to keep it as dry as possible down there because moisture is going to make the slab move more.
DAVID: Well, let me ask you a question. What if I took the ceramic tile up and put some hardwood floors in?
TOM: Well, you couldn’t put solid hardwood floor because the moisture will cause it to warp. But what you could put in is engineered hardwood floor. And in fact, if you wanted to put engineered hardwood flooring, you don’t really have to take the ceramic tile up. You could leave it down there and just go on top of it because it’s not connected to the floor; it pretty much rides. It’s a floating floor; it rides right on that surface.
You’d put down a very thin underlayment underneath it. It’s a very thin foam, like underlayment, like maybe a ¼-inch thick. Then the boards are snapped together and they sit on top of that. You just leave a gap at the edges of the room.
DAVID: OK. I sure appreciate it. I listen to you all’s show all the time. Sure appreciate all the information I can get from you all.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Diane in Illinois who needs some extra storage space at her money pit. How can we help you today?
DIANE: Well, I have a deck off of our master bedroom. And it’s a 12×12 deck and I want to turn it into a walk-in closet. And I want to bring my washer and dryer from the basement upstairs and put it into that closet.
TOM: Well, this sounds like a good project, Diane, but I have to tell you that, generally, when people try to convert a deck into a finished room – I’ve seen it done many, many times, especially in the 20 years I spent as a professional home inspector – it just doesn’t work, for a lot of reasons.
And I can understand that you want it to flow nicely into the house and all of that but you’re really talking about an addition here. And if you’re going to build an addition, you typically were going to build it different than a deck. What I would recommend is that even though this is a small project, it’s a complicated project. Because not only do you want a closet, you also want laundry there.
I think this is a great opportunity for you to consult with an architect, because you have a lot to do to get this done correctly. And you also don’t want to make it look like it’s sort of slapped on the outside of your house because it’s going to detract from your home value.
But every single time I’ve seen somebody try to take a deck and convert it into living space, it’s never worked out too well. It might be that you can preserve some of the framing and maybe incorporate it in there but it’s going to now be living space. It’s going to have to be heated, it’s going to have to be cooled, it’s going to have to have wiring, it’s going to have to have plumbing. It’s an addition; it’s no longer going to be in a deck. So while that space might fit well for it, starting with the existing deck doesn’t always make the most sense, OK?
DIANE: OK. So what would – we would have to just tear that deck down and start over or …?
TOM: You may. But that’s why I say – let’s not speculate on this and let’s not make a wrong step. This is a type of project where you are well advised to hire an architect. It’s not going to be an expensive consulting fee because it’s a small project. But it’s really smart to do that in this situation because you’ll find out what you can save and what you have to tear down. You won’t make a costly mistake.
DIANE: OK. I didn’t want anything falling off the house and tearing the roof apart. And I didn’t want to have to do all of that, so I appreciate your advice.
TOM: Thank you, Diane. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, cleaning appliances can be a hassle but not if the appliance does the work for you. Hmm. Like that, huh? We’re going to have some tips on a line of products that’ll do just that, next.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: So, if you’ve been cleaning your home this spring season and you’re feeling like you’re just about done, there is one area you may be overlooking and that is your appliances.
LESLIE: Yeah. That’s very true. Even the machines that keep our dishes and clothing clean, like washers and dishwashers, they need to be cleaned themselves to keep them working right.
TOM: Well, the folks at Glisten are the machine-cleaning experts and have made it their mission to make machine-cleaning easy and effective. With us to talk about that is Tony Cronk, the senior vice president for sales and marketing for Glisten.
TONY: Why, thanks for having me, Tom and Leslie.
TOM: So I’ve got to tell you, my dishwasher was starting to develop a bit of an odor this past week and I used your Dishwasher Magic product. It worked perfectly. But I think folks are surprised that a machine like a dishwasher actually does need to be cleaned. Why is it that some of these machines – that are cleaning machines, specifically – develop issues, like odors, that have to be addressed?
TONY: A great question, Tom. A couple of things. Most people are on different water sources across the country. And as you’re using a machine over and over again, you have the ability for the waterborne minerals to build up in that machine over time, that can create steel and corrosion inside the machine. Your detergents will not clean that out.
In addition, once those start to collect, fat, food, minerals, grease, food debris will build up in the machine over time. Again, you need a product to go in and basically refurbish the machine so it can continue to clean at maximum efficiency. And that’s where Dishwasher Magic comes into play.
LESLIE: Now, that’s really interesting. I think people just assume, “Oh, it’s washing my dishes. It’s washing the interior of the machine, too.” But you’re right. Everything does get buildup and gets all gunky. So how often should you sort of preemptively be cleaning a dishwasher?
TONY: We recommend a cleaning regimen, just to keep your machine well-maintained and working effectively, once a month. For people that live on problem-water – and you would know if you had problem-water: you might have rust or buildup in your machines, stains on the inside of the machine or calcium or lime visibly showing itself – you do that more frequently. We have some folks that do it once a week.
TOM: And you guys make it pretty easy with this product. You simply open the bottle, place it into the utensil rack in the dishwasher and run the machine through a cycle. So there’s no fuss, no muss.
TONY: You just buy them. That and the delivery system allows the product to dispense at the right time and temperature, taking care of the problem for you. And it disinfects.
TOM: We’re talking to Tony Cronk. He’s the senior vice president of sales and marketing for Glisten Cleaners.
So, in addition to Dishwasher Magic, you have products for the garbage disposer, microwave cleaner and even the washing machine. Now, I imagine that garbage disposer can also build up a lot of odor because of the food particles that tend to sit in it, correct?
TONY: That’s correct. We hear from a lot of different customers of ours that they’re afraid of it. As the garbage disposer, they don’t know what’s down there but they know it’s not good. For a lot of folks, they receive a foul odor that emits from the garbage disposer. And our product is specifically designed and we designed it with one of the leading garbage-disposer manufacturers to go in there, scour out that grunge and leave behind a fresh scent. So it’s the largest foaming disposer cleaner on the market today.
LESLIE: I mean it’s really amazing. You see it, you know it’s working.
Now, I’m a big fan of your Glisten Microwave Cleaner because I’ve got young kids. I feel like everything that I’m doing for the most part – and I apologize to my culinary-school degree that I took – but I feel like everything I’m doing is microwave-related. But it gets so gunky in there. And it’s not just – it’s not that we’re messy. It’s just the microwave is inherently a messy place. So tell everybody, because I’m just fascinated by the microwave cleaner.
TONY: That’s a great question, Leslie. And I have small children, too, and I can’t tell you how many times the SpaghettiOs have been splattered on the back wall of the microwave and how hard it is to clean off.
But we wanted to design a product for that specific use. A lot of us here have children and the deal was I want to make it easy to clean this machine versus getting out the old household cleaner, spraying in there. I’m not sure what chemicals I’m spraying in there. My food’s going to be in there. We want something you can just pop in there.
So you take the product out. It’s a scrubbing sponge with an environmentally-friendly cleaning ingredient that’s in there. You start the microwave for 30 seconds. It foams up, steams the inside of the microwave. You open it up at the end of the cycle, wipe everything down and throw the sponge away.
TOM: We’re talking to Tony Cronk. He’s the senior vice president of sales and marketing for Glisten Cleaners.
Tony, let’s talk about Glisten Washer Magic. I guess that’s similar to Dishwasher Magic except it’s aimed at keeping the washing machine clean, correct?
TONY: That’s correct. All of the problems are a little bit different with washing machines. Again, you have the hard-water presence you have with the dishwasher that can build up with calcium, lime and rust inside of the machine. But you also get addition of odor from detergent residue and buildup that can build up overtime, especially for people that have front-load machines. We’ve gotten a lot of calls that they get a lot of odor that comes out of that machine. And usually, it’s a product of that seal around the door.
Our product is a liquid product, so it’s very easy to use. You can use it to clean around that door seal and then pour the product into the machine. It completely dissolves (inaudible at 0:24:38) solution, takes care of that odor problem and the buildup inside there, leaving your washing machine clean and fresh, ready to use.
TOM: Glisten products are simple and effective. You can learn more about Glisten products by visiting GlistenCleaners.com. That’s Glisten Cleaners.
Tony Cronk from Glisten, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TONY: Oh, thank you both. I appreciate the time.
LESLIE: Well, if you looked at a pest lineup, could you identify a termite? Hmm. They all look the same. Which one is Keyser Söze? We’ll tell you how to spot those pesky criminals, after this.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to whatever home improvement project you are working on. And we’re giving away a great prize this hour. We’ve got up for grabs the RYOBI 18-Volt ONE+ System 18-Gauge Brad Nailer, which features AirStrike Technology.
Now, it’s an 18-Volt Cordless Brad Nailer that you will use for a gajillion different projects. And what’s so great about the AirStrike Technology is that it eliminates the need for those noisy compressors and the bulky hoses and even those expensive gas cartridges. And that means you’re going to have a faster setup and you’re really just going to maneuver around your project a lot easier.
And what’s better than getting an awesome tool for free is when you get advice with it. So give us a call for your chance to win. It’s worth 129 bucks but you can check it out at The Home Depot.
TOM: The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Eva in North Carolina on the line with a water-heating question. How can we help you today?
VA: Our home is about 11 years old. We have a hot-water heater on our third floor of our home. And I’m a little nervous about it being up on the third floor. And with it aging out, I’m concerned about it potentially bursting or leaking. So what we’d like to do is replace the hot-water heater in this house.
However, we’re not sure. We kind of have a disagreement. We’re broke right now, financially, but we would – for peace of mind’s sake, I would like to possibly look into a tankless. My husband thinks we should just replace the current one that we have upstairs on the third floor with the same darn thing because he’s like, “If it’s new, it won’t leak and it won’t burst.” So what do you guys suggest?
TOM: How old is the water heater?
EVA: As old as the house, I presume. The house is about 11 or 12 years old.
TOM: Well, if it’s an 11-year-old house, it’s going to have an 11-year-old water heater. And while, yeah, that’s closer to the end of a normal life than not, believe it or not, it’s not horribly old. I’ve seen water heaters go 15, 20 years.
EVA: But because it’s on the third floor of the house, I’m nervous because water is going to – it’s not like it’s in the basement or the garage. So if there is a leak or something like that, I’m concerned about there being a lot of water damage to our home.
TOM: I understand. And you could – that would happen if a pipe broke, as well. So, if you want to replace it with a tankless, that is going to be more expensive than a tanked water heater. But it’s definitely worthwhile because they last a lot longer and they also give you on-demand hot water, so you never really ever run out of warm water.
If you’re concerned about your plumbing system’s reliability in general, just make it a practice that whenever you guys go away for a weekend or longer, you turn the main water valve off. You don’t need to leave water on when you’re not home for an extended period of time. So that might also be something you might want to start doing on a regular basis.
EVA: So whenever you’re going to be gone for the weekend or more than a couple days, turn the main water valve off.
TOM: That’s right. Because you don’t need it on. And this way, if the water heater ever were to break, it would lose the 40 or 50 gallons that’s in it but it would not constantly run, run, run.
EVA: Gotcha. So, going back to my original question, what do you guys suggest we do? Because my husband thinks, well, let’s just get a new one, the same thing. And then he thinks it’s going to give me some peace of mind.
TOM: OK. Here’s what I would do. You said that money is tight. I don’t want you to throw good money at bad ideas and I think replacing it with the same thing is kind of a bad idea, especially since it’s 11 years old. What I would prefer to see you do is live with that for another year or two, save up some money and then put in a tankless.
EVA: OK. And do you recommend tanklesses (ph) go in the crawlspace or in the garage or outside?
TOM: Well, they can pretty much go wherever you want. If you put them outside, they get a little less efficient because, of course, the outside temperature is cold and that means they have to work a little bit harder.
TOM: And sometimes, they’re put in rooms that are insulated or outside closets and that sort of thing. But you have the flexibility because a tankless water heater is going to be about a quarter of the size of your tanked water heater.
EVA: OK. So it sounds like that’s what you recommend is a tankless but maybe just live with this one for another year or two.
TOM: I think that makes the most sense. OK, Eva?
EVA: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
I don’t feel like 11 years old is a terribly old water heater.
LESLIE: No. I mean given that a lifespan is 10,12 years. And you’re right: before we moved in, the one in our house was like 20 years old.
TOM: I used to see that all the time as a home inspector. And yeah, it’s old but not worth emergency replacing.
LESLIE: You can live with it. No. Just for peace of mind. There are other things that you can do.
TOM: There’s enough life left in that to risk not doing it now and saving up your money for a year or two and then going tankless. Because tankless is definitely the technology that is state of the art today and worth every penny of its cost.
Well, now that it is getting nice and warm out, you may be spotting more insects around your house. And if you’re thinking you might have a termite infestation, you want to be absolutely sure before you call the pest-control company. So here’s how you can identify whether it’s a termite or not.
First of all, they’re about a ¼-inch long. They’re also smaller than ants and unlike ants, they have only two body segments. An ant has a head, a torso and a tail. Termites only have two segments. They also have two pairs of long wings and a straight antenna. The ants have a bent antenna. So that’s two ways you can tell them apart.
If you do see termites, that means there’s a swarm active in and around your house. And they could be using your house for dinner. So you want to make sure that you pick up the phone and call a pest-control company, have a complete inspection done of your home and then perhaps do a termite treatment upon the results that they determine.
LESLIE: Bill in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BILL: We put a deck on the back of our house. It was with pretreated wood. Stained it with deck and – you know, transparent deck stain. Turned out the color was not what my wife expected. We tolerated it for a few months and then she said, “I don’t like this. So, let’s paint it or let’s do something.” So we went back to the place where we got the paint.
And they gave us a paint that was not a real pink paint but he said it will go ahead and just cover that blue. So I said, “OK,” painted it. And it was satisfactory and then decided more – decided to put a rug out on half of it so that it would match the paint in the house and so forth. So, left it for a year and sure enough, when you pull the rug up, the paint – some of the paint peeled off, which I understand because of the moisture in that. But other parts of the deck are starting to peel off now. And I’m wondering what I should do to go and repaint it or rough the – sand the deck down or something. But it won’t work.
TOM: Well, here’s the thing: you can’t put good paint over bad paint.
TOM: So, if the paint layer is separating and delaminating, you have to strip it. So you absolutely, positively have to strip this deck with a good-quality wood stripper. Get it down to the wood and then go back up from there.
I would recommend that you not paint but use solid-color stain next time. That’s going to give you long-term protection of the deck. And it’s not the kind of material that will generally peel, either. So I would strip it down and then use a solid-color stain to get to the color that you want it to be. OK?
BILL: We’ll give it a try. Hey, thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Bill. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, bathroom cleaning has got to be one of my least favorite cleaning projects. If it’s yours, too, we have a solution that will make life much easier, after this.
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: You can reach us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Twitter account: @MoneyPit.
LESLIE: Just like Ted in New Jersey did. And Ted writes: “I have a double-pane window that’s fogged up inside. I want to know if it’s possible to clean it somehow.”
He must mean between the panes.
What happens with the double-pane windows, Ted, is essentially you get a condensation that forms when the seal fails. And it’s not like it’s dirty. It’s really just condensation that’s inside that. The good news is that it has a minor effect on its energy efficiency. The bad news is it doesn’t look very good. And in fact, depending on the difference in temperature between the outside and the inside of your house, it could get better or worse. It actually changes across the year.
So I would recommend that you put up with it, Ted, for as long as you can stand. And then when you’re ready, replace the window. It’s also possible to replace just that glass panel but you’d have to have a pretty expensive window to make it worth just replacing that one pane. Generally, it’s less expensive just to put in an entirely new replacement window in.
Now, remember, replacement windows don’t require that you completely rip open the siding of your house. They slip inside of the existing opening from the original window.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Barbara in Florida who writes: “I’m thinking of buying a house. But when the owner turned on the microwave, the lights in the family and dining room went out. And then he had to reset the circuit breaker. Is this a serious problem and what would cause that?”
And boy, talk about that homeowner being like, “Ugh.”
TOM: Yeah. Not the best way to show your house, right?
Is it a serious problem? That’s a definite maybe. What happens with older houses is typically the appliance circuits are on the same circuits as lighting. And so, almost always, you’ll see some dimming when you turn on a very energy-hungry appliance. The fact that you threw the circuit breaker is of concern. It could mean that there’s a problem in the wiring or just that there’s just too much going on at that circuit at that time.
So, before you buy the house, you’re going to have a professional home inspection. You may want to have not only the inspection but an electrician take a look at that wiring and give an opinion as to whether or not it’s properly sized or perhaps if there’s actually an issue in the wiring that has to be addressed. It’s a red flag. You’ve got to look into it further to determine what the best way is to fix it.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know, Barbara? You want to make sure you find a good home inspector. So the best way to do that is to go to a website for the American Society of Home Inspectors, which is ASHI – A-S-H-I – .org. And that way you can put in your zip code. You’ll find a lot of people in your area that are certified and that’s definitely what you want. Because you want a pro who knows their stuff to do this for you.
TOM: Well, fiberglass shower stalls are less expensive and easier to install than tile but there’s a trick to cleaning them. Leslie has that tip, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You definitely do not want to annoy your shower. So don’t rub it the wrong way, guys.
Now, listen to this: fiberglass showers, they are finished with a layer of gel coat. And that means it can be easily damaged by some abrasive cleaners. So you’ve got to choose what you clean your shower walls with and things like that very carefully. And you want to make sure that whatever you’re using keeps that shiny luster and prevents water spotting.
So, here’s a trick of the trade but you have to be so careful, guys. We’re going to tell you: try to wax your shower walls – and I mean it, only the walls – once a month with a liquid auto wax. Seriously, just the walls. If you get it on the floor, you will slip and slide and you could get very hurt. So try, be very super careful, wax your walls. You’ll notice that the water’s just going to bead right off, dirt’s not going to stay on it. It’s going to do a great job of sort of helping you auto-clean your shower, if you will. Give it a try. Again, be super careful and just enjoy the super-shiny shower you’ve got.
TOM: That’s a great tip. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, if fresh, local honey sounds good to you, you might be surprised that you don’t have to go to the farmer’s market to get some. We’ll have tips on how you can build your very own DIY backyard honeybee hive, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
Happy Summer, everybody. 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 2016 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.)