DIY Home Security, Shopping Stainless Steel Sinks, And Cleaning Relief For Neat Freaks
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 so happy to see you today. What are you working on? Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because we are here to help you get that project done. Whether you’re doing it yourself or you’re going to get some help, give us a call. We’ll be the first with advice on how you can get that job done quickly, easily and more successfully. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Hey, coming up on this hour of the program, did you know 2 million burglaries are reported every year? It’s true. Yet apparently, only 17 percent of homeowners have a home security system. Well, that’s not good. So, don’t become a statistic. We’ve got easy advice on DIY security that can keep your home and your family safe.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, stainless steel is a very popular choice for kitchen sinks. But not all stainless steel is created equal. We’re going to tell you what you need to consider before you buy your next kitchen sink. It’s an important purchase. I mean you guys use it every day, so buy the right sink.
TOM: And how about this: can you kick back and relax only when every single thing in your house is in its place? Well, if that sounds like you, you might be a neat freak, one of several cleaning-personality types identified in a new survey by Jelmar.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it happens to be that Tom and I are both neat freaks.
TOM: I know. Crazy, right?
LESLIE: We took the test. I am not surprised at all by either of us to - saying the truth.
TOM: Well, we’ve got some tips on how you can find your very own cleaning personality and make the most of it, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And one lucky caller this hour has a safer home ahead. We’re giving away Pella Insynctive Door and Window Sensors and they’re worth 350 bucks.
TOM: Pella’s Insynctive not only lets you check the status of windows and doors while you’re out, it lets you control motorized blinds from any location, too, and all from your smartphone. So, pick up the phone, give us a call right now. Let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Brian in Arkansas is on the line and has a mysterious odor in the house. What’s going on?
BRIAN: I’ve got a crawlspace under my house of about 1,900 square feet. And we’ve noticed, the last several years – only in the summer, when we go away for the long weekend – we come back on a Sunday night and there’s a peculiar odor in the house. It’s a musty smell, if you will, but again only in the summertime.
TOM: Well, it’s typically more humid in the summer and you mentioned that, you know, it only happens when you’re away. So you have less air movement inside the house; doors are not being opened and closed. Is this crawlspace – under your house, does it have a vapor barrier over it, Brian?
BRIAN: Well, when the house was built 15 years ago, they put down some probably 4- or 6-mil sheeting but it wasn’t completely encapsulated. So, what I have done, in the last two weeks, is gotten some 15-mil poly and I have totally encapsulated under the house. I’ve lapped the pillars, I’ve sealed the walls and I’ve taped the seams.
TOM: So that’s great. So, something else that you can do is you could add an exhaust fan into that crawlspace and have it set to work off a humidistat. And the way you do that is they have crawlspace fans that are basically 8×16 inches, which is the same size as a concrete block. So in lieu of one of the vents, you install this fan in and you wire it to a humidistat, maybe mounted somewhere in the middle of the crawlspace. And then when the moisture gets really high, the humidistat will kick on the fan and it will draw some drier air through the crawlspace.
Now, the third thing that you can do is just to be very careful with your outdoor-drainage maintenance. So by that I mean make sure you have gutters on the house, that the downspouts are discharging away from the house and that the soil around the crawlspace perimeter slopes away from the house. By trying to keep that water away from those walls, you will reduce the amount of moisture that’s building up in the crawlspace. Does that make sense?
BRIAN: It does. I think I’ve got all that covered at this point. What about a dehumidifier? I’ve been told that’s the next step.
TOM: You could put a dehumidifier in but I would rather see you put that simple ventilation fan hooked up to a humidistat on first. But if you want to put a dehumidifier in, I would take a look at the one by Santa Fe.
I actually just put a Santa Fe dehumidifier in my basement and it’s working really, really well. And I liked it because it’s not very big. It hangs from the rafters and it was only 12x12x22. So it was a pretty small unit, so it didn’t take up a lot of space. And it’s doing a really good job. The one I put in takes out 70 pints of water a day.
BRIAN: Wow. Well, as I take each step here, I’m trying to go and see if I’m doing everything correct. Could there be anything else that I’m missing or am I assuming that the smell is coming from under the house, up into the first floor?
TOM: Well, the only other typical source of smells in houses is plumbing smells. So, sometimes you get biogas in the drains of your sinks or your tubs that can cause an odor. But if you clean those out with an oxygenated bleach, that will keep that under control.
But if you have that kind of humid, musty smell, it may very well be coming from the crawlspace.
BRIAN: OK. So if I totally encapsulate it and either put a fan in and/or a dehumidifier, should I see results in just a couple weeks, maybe?
TOM: I think so, yes.
BRIAN: OK. Because that takes care of the air under the house, which affects the first floor, as well, I guess.
BRIAN: I will proceed with that.
TOM: Alright, Brian. Any time you have questions, you can reach us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Linda in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LINDA: Well, I had an old garage torn down, so I had a prior cement pad. And I had a steel building put up. I have gaps now from – the steel building is not – the metal is more like a corrugated – it’s got a little ripple in it? And where it meets the floor and they put a 2×4 base around the inside to screw the metal to it, well, I’m getting chipmunks in there and everything like that in between. What can I use to seal it but still keep it so when the cold weather comes, it expands like it needs to.
TOM: You must be having some pretty big gaps there if the chipmunks are getting into that.
TOM: How much space are we talking about?
LINDA: Some spots it’s not very big at all. But some it’s like maybe 2 or 3 inches high.
TOM: Oh, wow.
LINDA: Because the cement pad was not really leveled or throughout the years, too, it could have sunk down in certain areas. I don’t know whether to put another board …
TOM: Yeah. So listen, if you’ve got 2 or 3 inches of gaps, you’re going to have to add some additional sort of siding-type materials to cover that gap. You could actually use additional galvanized metal and form it to fit in that space.
If you have smaller gaps, those could be filled with, say, spray-foam insulation or you could use steel wool. Sometimes, when we’re trying to plug up little gaps, especially when it comes to rodent prevention, I’ll have folks put steel wool in there that they are not apt to chew through. But you can’t have a gap that big and not expect those types of animals to get by.
LINDA: Awesome. I’ll try that: the steel wool and the foam.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Linda. 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.
Well, we only have a few weekends left of summer. I can’t believe it: Labor Day Weekend is just upon us. So what are you working on to get things all buttoned up for the fall or maybe for that last, big hurrah on the last holiday weekend? We’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you like a clean house but feel you can’t relax until everything is just right, we’ve got tips for learning to let go without sacrificing your home’s hygiene, when The Money Pit continues 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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, did you remember to close your windows before you left your house today? Well, if it’s raining, you’ve got an issue. You might stop, though, scratching your head and wondering if you did or not and just let Pella’s Insynctive Door and Window Sensors remember for you.
LESLIE: Yeah. Best part is they’re small and they’re really easy to install. You don’t need any tools at all. And this is going to let you check your doors and windows, from any location, right from your smartphone which – come on, guys – I know is already in your hand and is probably in your hand right now.
TOM: And call us, right now, for your chance to win this $350 prize. We’re giving away a set of those Insynctive sensors from Pella. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. And there are more smart-product ideas online now at MoneyPit.com when you flip through our Smart-Home Gallery.
LESLIE: Matt in Oregon, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MATT: We have just picked up a 1970s ranch home. And the kitchen needs to be totally gutted and remodeled. It looks like a kitchen from the 70s. And my question is – we need to take down a wall, maybe two. And I was curious if there’s a way to find out, quick and easy, if a wall is load-bearing or not.
TOM: So, you can’t use words like “quick” and “easy” and “load-bearing” and “structural” kind of in the same sentence. They just don’t work well together.
MATT: Oh, I was hoping it was going to be easy.
TOM: Well, I can just tell you in general if you have a ranch, OK, the walls that are parallel with the front and the rear walls are usually load-bearing. And there’s going to be one wall that goes down the middle of the ranch and that wall is almost always load-bearing because the roof rafters are sort of pitched – are angled to be right above it. And the ceiling joists will cross on that wall.
But because it’s a ranch, there’s not a whole lot of weight above that. So just because it is load-bearing doesn’t mean you can’t make changes to it. You just have to do it correctly, which means that you can’t just take it away. You have to build something there to support the weight that it was carrying to begin with. It’s a lot easier to do that in a ranch than it is in a two-story house, where you’re carrying the weight of a second floor.
MATT: Right. OK. Well, that gives us hope.
TOM: Happy that we could do that for you, Matt. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, do you have a hard time kicking back or enjoying company unless every single thing in your house is in its place? Well, if there’s no such thing as clean enough, you might just be a neat freak. It’s just one of several cleaning-personality types identified in a new survey by Jelmar, makers of CLR cleaning products.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, your cleaning-personality type identifies how you approach cleaning or perhaps don’t approach cleaning. But in the case of being a neat freak, which – Tom and I both took the test and we are both neat freaks.
I’m not surprised at all about this, Tom. I knew I was going to be. I was pretty sure you were going to be.
LESLIE: I mean the one question about – “How long do you let dishes sit in your kitchen sink?” I was like, “What? Dishes do not ever sit. Sit in the sink? What? Maybe if I’m just getting another one and putting it in there.”
TOM: Sit? Right.
LESLIE: But being that Tom and I are both neat freaks, that kind of means we’re always on, where you’re looking out for crumbs or a pile of mail. Something that needs to be cleaned, wiped, put away, that’s us.
TOM: Absolutely. Now, if you’re the type of person that maybe only fires up the vacuum when your job is stressing you out or when you need a little time to yourself, there is a cleaning-personality type for each of those habits, too.
LESLIE: Yeah. And once you know yours, Jelmar has got custom tips for pushing past your type’s hurdles so that you can clean your house faster, better or in a way that’s going to actually make you enjoy cleaning and just be happier. So head on over to CLR Cleaners’ Facebook page and take Jelmar’s Cleaning-Personality Quiz. Then you can share your results on social media and you’re going to get tricks and tips for your specific type.
TOM: And just by taking the quiz, you’ll also be entered to win a $500 Visa gift card and Jelmar cleaning products. That’s all online at Facebook.com/CLRCleaners.
LESLIE: Alright. We’re heading out to Delaware where Mary has got a question about a roof. What’s going on at your money pit?
MARY: I have a two-story house with three-tab shingles that are 25 years old. And I’m about to replace them with architectural. I have an attic fan currently. It’s about 30 years old and I don’t really have to keep that. But my question is regarding a replacement attic fan versus the ridge vent.
TOM: So, we would definitely recommend a ridge vent over a replacement attic fan, for a lot of reasons.
Here’s why. In the summer, many times folks will install attic fans to try to cool their attic thinking that it will lower their cooling cost. But what generally happens is when an attic fan kicks on, it will depressurize your attic. And then it needs to replace that negative pressure. So what will happen is it will reach down into your house and actually pull some of that air-conditioned air up into the attic.
Now, how that happens is interesting. It’ll pull it out from gaps around, say, where your attic door is or it’ll pull it through the walls, through gaps around plumbing pipes or electrical wires or outlets that go through. There’s usually some sort of thermal connection between the inside and the outside. And by using an attic fan, you’re going to potentially drive the cooling costs up, not down.
A better option is a ridge vent – a continuous ridge vent – that goes down the peak of the entire roof. And that will exhaust attic air. But the ridge vent should always be matched with soffit vents at the overhang of the roof so that the air will enter down low in the roof, roll up underneath the roof sheathing and then exit at the ridge. And that sort of convective loop will do a much better job of keeping your attic cool than an attic fan. It will not – and it will not drive up your cooling costs.
MARY: And you’d close off the current attic fan?
TOM: That’s right. I would actually – if you were going to be replacing your roof, I would simply take that whole fan out, tap off the wires and disconnect it. You don’t need it.
MARY: OK. The other question is I also have a whole-house fan, which I rarely use. Can you still use a whole-house fan with the ridge vent?
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Now, let’s talk about the difference between a whole-house fan and an attic fan. An attic fan is just that: it draws air out of the attic. A whole-house fan is mounted, generally, on the ceiling of the upper floor of the house. And it’s going to draw air from your house itself, push it up into the attic where it will be exhausted.
Now, the key with a whole-house fan is you have to have enough exhaust ventilation up in the attic. If you end up having a continuous ridge vent and continuous soffit vents, I think you probably will have plenty of exhaust ventilation up there in the attic.
I would suggest, if you don’t have it already, to put that whole-house fan on a timer. Because it’s really effective, especially at night, when you can set it for an hour or so, when you’re going to sleep, to kind of keep that air moving through the house. And then it’ll just go off by the time you fall asleep and the air gets cooler.
MARY: Vents in the eaves in the house, which were built in the house, are they closed off when you get the ridge vent?
TOM: Generally, yes. Those small vents that are on the ends of the gable walls, you do want to close those off and make sure you have continuous soffit and ridge vents. Because you’ll get some turbulence between the ridge vent and that end gable vent that can impact the flow of the air.
MARY: Alright. Hopefully, that’s what I need and I’m about to call a contractor tomorrow.
TOM: Alright. And now you know what to get done. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to take a call from Tim in Arkansas who’s got some concrete issues with his patio and his garage. You know, maybe wouldn’t have these problems if his friends didn’t help him with it.
What’s going on, Tim?
TIM: When it rains, it’s busted and causing it to have holes in the concrete. And it’s just like it’s washing it away. And then I do have a 4-inch slab and the concrete is cracking.
TOM: Alright. So the patio is a 4-inch slab, the concrete is cracking. Are there a lot of cracks in it? Like is it severely deteriorated?
TIM: Well, no. But it’s like – I don’t know. It’s kind of like going to the center of the garage and it’s like it started from the 4×4 part, the 8×8 pole. And it’s just kind of – oh, it’s just, I don’t know, just cracking. I don’t know how deep it is but it’s just kind for cracking all the way across.
TOM: So is the concrete slab inside the garage or is it next to the garage?
TIM: Right, right. It’s just inside the garage. It’s bent over the …
TOM: So, look, there’s no easy way to fix this. All you can do is seal the cracks and cut down on the moisture that’s getting through there. Generally, when those slabs crack, it’s because there was some organic material underneath them that rotted away or perhaps the soil wasn’t compacted enough when it was first installed.
Replacing the slab is a project. Not probably as big of a project as you might think but it is a project. But unless it’s so cracked and so deformed that it’s causing a tripping hazard or some other concern like that, I wouldn’t do anything further than just sealing it and moving on.
TIM: OK. Well, it’s just a hairline crack. Yeah, you don’t think it’ll get any worse, do you?
TOM: It could but it’s not unusual for these slabs to have hairline cracks.
TIM: OK, OK. It’s not bothering anything. I just don’t know how deep it is or …
TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t panic over it. It’s not a structural issue, because the floor is basically just there to give you a surface to drive on. It’s not tied into the foundation of the house.
Tim, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, stainless-steel sinks are not one size fits all, as you might think. Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House is here with tips to help you choose the best-quality sink for your kitchen.
TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools. Stanley Tools has been helping to build America since 1843. Look for specially marked Stanley packaging featuring the Made In The U.S.A. With Global Materials logo. Visit StanleyTools.com/BuildYourAmerica.
JONATHAN: Hey, this is Jonathan Scott, host of HGTV’s Property Brothers. Don’t let your home become a real-life money pit. Listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show with Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.
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: Well, backyard burgers aren’t the only thing sizzling this summer. The Money Pit is giving away big-ticket prizes in our Sizzlin’ Summer Giveaway Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: Yeah, not one, not two but five winners, guys, have a chance to win awesome prizes, like a prize package from WORX that includes the 8-in-1 Aerocart – and it’s better than a wheelbarrow cart; I mean it’s awesome – and the WORX Blower/Sweeper, just in time for that fall-leaf cleanup. I don’t want to dampen your summer festivities but it’s going to happen soon, guys.
TOM: It’s coming.
LESLIE: All you have to do is visit Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and you can enter there.
TOM: And check this out: you can actually help increase your chances of winning by sharing our Sizzlin’ Summer Sweepstakes to earn bonus entries. It’s online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
LESLIE: Doug in Rhode Island is on the line with a ventilation question. What’s going on at your money pit?
DOUG: I have two bathroom vents and also a hood exhaust vent over the cooktop. So I have two 4-inch vents and a 6-inch vent that I need to put through the roof somehow. And I’d rather not do it in three different vents. I’m wondering if there’s an option.
TOM: Well, the bathroom vents, if they’re near each other, could be brought together in the attic and then brought out to one termination point. You obviously don’t want to dump all that air into the attic. It’s warm, it’s moist, it’s humid and it’s going to ruin your insulation’s effect.
In terms of the kitchen vent, that I would keep separate because that could potentially be greasy. And you just don’t want to mix that in with the bathroom ventilation.
TOM: And make sure – in all cases, I would recommend you avoid the flexible vent ducting and use metal ducting. Not the flexible metal ducting but the smooth metal ducting, because it just has less resistance as the air blows through it and it’s easier to clean if you have to.
DOUG: OK. Now, do I have to use an insulated – to connect the hosing?
TOM: No, you don’t have to insulate the ducting. That’s not necessary.
DOUG: No, OK.
TOM: Nope. Just use a solid-metal duct to do this, OK? You can buy these in home centers and hardware stores. What I don’t want you to do is use those flexible plastic ducts or flexible metal ducts.
DOUG: OK. I gotcha.
TOM: Alright, Doug. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, stainless steel is an obvious choice for a kitchen sink because it cleans up quickly and it’s got a really great, professional look. But once you get past the key design questions – one bowl or two, undermount or overmount – you really want to base your buying decision on other, less obvious factors that affect quality and value.
TOM: That’s right. Richard Trethewey is the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House. He joins us now with tips on how to select stainless-steel sinks.
RICHARD: Nice to be here again.
TOM: So, Richard, I think most consumers believe that all stainless sinks are the same. And in fact, there could be huge qualitative differences. So what do we need to be aware of?
RICHARD: Well, first and foremost, I think you have to think about the gauge of the metal. You’re looking for the strong, silent type, you know?
RICHARD: You want something really strong.
What’s really interesting about metal is you measure it absolutely counterintuitively. The higher the gauge number, the lighter the material. So you tend to think if something was 10, it would be thicker or heavier than something that was 5. So in the case of stainless steel, the lightest gauge is this 22-gauge stuff, which is available and it’s always called the “builder’s model.” It’s the least-expensive stainless steel that you’ll find at the home center or the plumbing-supply place.
But they also come in 18- or 16-gauge. And so, really, my tip to you is get the heaviest gauge and that means the lowest gauge number that you can afford. Heavier is better.
LESLIE: And if you’re washing a big – a large pot that you’ve used to boil pasta in, that gets heavy in your sink.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
RICHARD: And you’ll know it, by the way. You’ll know if you move in someplace and it’s 22 gauge. You’ll run that water and it’s just like ting-ting-ting. You hear it. The sound is crazy. Because as you get heavier metal – and oftentimes, some of the better gauge of stainless-steel sink also have applied insulation or sound absorption underneath the bottom. They have a little backer, too, of those rubberized …
TOM: Kind of like an undercoating?
RICHARD: Yeah, like an undercoat. Yeah. I can put you into the undercoat for about (inaudible at 0:24:20). And that is unbelievably different. You really – it’s like you want your sink to be like good children: you don’t want to see them, you don’t want to hear them.
RICHARD: I’m only kidding.
RICHARD: That was a W.C. Fields.
LESLIE: So, now, what about your sink depth? I’m always – this is my housekeeping; I’m putting as much in there as possible until I have to stick it in the dishwasher.
RICHARD: That’s right. Yeah. Again, the baseline, if you go for the lowest-cost sink, it’s going to usually be only about a 6-inch depth. That’s really like a …
LESLIE: That is shallow.
RICHARD: I hate to be shallow.
And so, you don’t have a lot of room. For people with really short arms, maybe it’s OK.
LESLIE: Pterodactyls doing the dishes?
RICHARD: Pterodactyls and other dinosaurs. But really, if you see the difference between a 6-inch-deep and the 10-inch-deep, it’s unbelievable. You can put a pot in there and fill it and not worry about the spout fitting over the top of it.
TOM: Overflowing, yeah.
RICHARD: So, I like – deeper is always better and heavier is better.
TOM: Now, we talked about stainless and paying attention to the gauge. But all stainless is not created equal beyond that, correct? The metal itself could be …
RICHARD: Right. Actually, stainless steel is rated according to its content. There’s a lot of things that go into stainless steel. There’s regular steel, there’s chromium, there’s molybdenum, there’s nickel. And those percentages make up its grade. And so the measurement is either 200 series or 300 series. And there’s 306, there’s 316, there’s 316L. There’s all these different recipes.
But what you want to get is at least a 300-series grade of stainless steel. And you’ll know the difference. If you don’t get it, you end up with little pit corrosion you just end up with. Because there’s still steel in it and it’ll rust quickly.
TOM: Now, what about the drains? Any tips on where the drain position should be? And I would imagine if you don’t have a good-quality sink, that drain and the drain connection to the trap is always going to flex. It could be more susceptible to leaks, right?
RICHARD: Yeah, there’s some flexibility. The plumbing connection down below, it can give a little bit and not – it shouldn’t leak readily right away. But you really don’t want it going like a timpani at the bottom where every time somebody touches it, it’s like a drum that’s flexing.
The other thing I should talk about is layouts in the kitchen sinks. You’ve got to really have a discussion with yourself about whether you want to have one bowl over here, another bowl over – and another tiny, little bowl over here for the disposer. I don’t find them to be as functional as having a nice, big, deep bowl. I guess it’s personal preference but a lot of times, people go for the fancy thinking that – “Oh, I’ll do this. I’ll keep dirty ones here and clean ones here and all this stuff.” And there’s something really intuitive about having a nice, clean bowl with one place where everything goes down.
LESLIE: Richard, I imagine you have to be really careful when you’re cleaning stainless. It has a grain to it and you want to sort of protect that and not put your own on it.
RICHARD: You want to clean it but not over-clean it, so to speak. I grew up where we always used the powdered cleaners, like Ajax and Bon Ami. I don’t see them as much as I used to. Now, we see more people using sort of household bleach spray and stuff like that. But what the key is – that you’re not going to take some really aggressive, almost like a sandpaper cleaning – scouring pad and change that beautiful, little patina that was on that stainless steel to begin with.
TOM: So go cautiously and keep that beautiful stainless looking almost as good as the day you put it in.
Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
RICHARD: Always great to be here.
LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask 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 and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.
Up next, are you nervous about being the target of a break-in but you don’t like the idea of getting locked into a long-term, expensive security contract for a burglary-alarm system? Well, we’ve got info on a DIY whole-house security system that is super easy to install, low cost and very effective. We’ll talk about that when The Money Pit returns, after this.
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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.
TOM: Pick up the phone and call us, right now, with your home improvement question and you could take home this hour’s prize. Because we’ve got the innovative Pella Insynctive Door and Window Sensors to give away.
LESLIE: Yeah, they’re easy to install and you can check your home’s doors and windows to see if they’re open or closed and really just put your mind at ease, from any location, right on your smartphone.
TOM: Convenience and peace of mind, right at your fingertips. Check it out in our online Smart-Home Gallery at MoneyPit.com. Or learn more online at Pella.com/Insynctive. That’s I-n-s-y-n-c-t-i-v-e. And you can call us, right now, for your chance to win this $350 prize at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, as the end of summer-vacation season nears, you might be thinking about keeping your home safe as you plan your last-minute getaway. It’s a real concern because according to the FBI, summer is the peak break-in season.
LESLIE: Yeah. And one very easy thing that you can do, guys, is don’t broadcast your absence. Cancel your newspaper, cancel your mail. Have somebody pick it up. You can do everything online now and it’s better than having to depend on a neighbor to do the job; it’s just done for you. And that’s really the number-one giveaway: a pile of newspapers.
TOM: Another tip is to put timers on your lights. But also, consider putting those timers on the TVs, the music players. Because if you have these turn on and off at varying times during the day, it will mimic what actually happens when somebody is home.
LESLIE: Yeah. And having a good security system in place is also a really smart idea. And one that’s super simple to install is SimpliSafe.
Now, you can install in 30 minutes without any electrical work, wiring or drilling. And there’s no long-term contracts for you to get locked into.
TOM: You can customize a system for your needs. SimpliSafe is a sponsor of our program. And we love it because for less than 15 bucks a month, you can have an award-winning, professionally monitored security system that protects your home and it gives you peace of mind.
Now, the best part is this: Money Pit fans do get an exclusive 10-percent-off deal. So, if you want to grab your discount, just visit SimpliSafeMoney.com to learn more. That’s Simpli – S-i-m-p-l-i – SafeMoney.com.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what’s really great? I mean this really is the best part of SimpliSafe is that it’s basically DIY but you’re still going to get that professional monitoring. And it’s at one-third of the price of all the other guys out there.
TOM: Yeah. Not to mention no pushy sales pitches and no hidden fees. It’s straightforward and simple. Visit SimpliSafeMoney.com.
LESLIE: Lane in Arkansas is looking to do some countertop updates with a cement countertop. How can we help you with that project?
LANE: I’ve been wanting to get granite countertops forever and I can’t really afford it, being a single dad and paying the mortgage and everything. So, I was looking at the concrete method. I’ve watched some videos on YouTube and whatnot and I really like how it looks, because it looks a lot like the granite.
And my question kind of – or is it pretty simple for a guy that knows a lot – not a lot about concrete but a little about it? And the edging stuff that they sell on websites, do you need to buy that or can – is there a way that you can do it with just normal wood, where you can form it up yourself?
TOM: So, first of all, concrete countertops are beautiful but they’re a lot of work to build, as you’ve learned if you’ve watched all of those YouTube videos, which I commend you for doing.
In terms of the edging, you certainly – having those tools certainly makes it a lot easier. But if you’re crafty, you probably could make your own edging tools to get an acceptable edge to that concrete surface.
TOM: The good news is that the material itself is fairly inexpensive. So if you really screw it up, you could break it up, throw it in the garden and start again.
TOM: But the key is really the prep and making sure that you’ve got the form built correctly and you’re totally ready to go, you know exactly what you’re going to do once you start to pour in that concrete. Because you don’t get a second chance.
LANE: Would you recommend a certain type of concrete?
TOM: QUIKRETE makes a commercial-grade countertop mix.
TOM: So I would just go buy that.
TOM: You could pick that up at a home center/hardware store and just go for that.
LANE: Well, that sounds good. That’s probably what I’ll end up doing then.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still ahead, did you ever wish that your house could just dust itself? I mean who doesn’t? Well, we’re going to tell you how you can cut down on all that dust and improve your home’s air quality, too, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And hey, did you ever look around your house and yard and wonder where to start? Well, you can never go wrong with home improvement projects that add value. You can learn what to tackle to increase your home’s curb appeal and its market price on the home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And while you’re online, if you’ve got a burning home improvement question that you just need to have answered, you can post it in the Community section of The Money Pit, like Maggie did who writes: “When I dust my house in the evening, everything is covered again by the next morning. Could the problem be stemming from the heat-pump system? We’ve had the unit thoroughly cleaned, inside and out, but it doesn’t help.”
TOM: Well, what I would consider, Maggie, is to upgrade or add filters to the HVAC system. That will help reduce the dust problem and improve the air quality.
For example, Filtrete makes a range of filters that are customizable to various issues. They’ve got filters that cover excessive dust. They have filters that are designed to eliminate odors, allergens, you name it. But your best solution, albeit a more expensive one, is an electronic air cleaner – it’s sort of an electronic filter system – because that can remove even virus-sized particles from the air.
It’s usually mounted on a return duct and it protects your home from both mold and pollen. And it will do a number on that dust for sure.
LESLIE: Yeah. My goodness. And why don’t you tell those dust fairies to move out of your house and stop spreading all that dust around?
Next up, we’ve got a post from Joel who writes: “I recently found your show on the drive home from work and I love it. My family is growing, so I’m looking to make my basement a more usable space. The problem is the basement floor. It’s poured concrete but has a lot of rise and fall. From the main basement floor joist is a range of 98 inches to 107 inches. What do you suggest for making it level?”
That’s a big difference. That’s 9 inches.
TOM: Well, leveling a concrete basement floor, by any means, is going to cost you a lot in ceiling height, especially since we’re talking about a floor with a height range of 9 inches. So, I’m not really sure why your floor is in the condition it’s in. I would like to know that. But the best solution might be to tear it out and pour a new floor that’s level.
Now, if that’s going to reveal any structural issues, you certainly could fix those at the same time. But the good news is that basement floors are usually not part of the home’s structure. They’re essentially there to cover the dirt below; they’re not usually poured under the wall, for example. So, typically, you can remove a basement floor, level out that soil, address that and then repour it.
Now, you can take up that existing floor with a jackhammer but you might want to have the structure evaluated beforehand, just to make sure there isn’t something underneath that can cause a new floor to be similarly uneven. Because once you fix it, you don’t want to have to fix it again.
Alright. We’ve got one more question here from Radar. Radar says that he has a laminate flooring that’s not staying locked. Installed it twice and good quality. Had it inspected by the company who makes the laminate and was told it’s due to the room being too cold. Keep the – he keeps it in the mid-60s and it’s too humid, 50 to 60 percent. “So, what can I do?”
I’ve got some concerns with that because I will tell you that I think that laminate floor works particularly well in chilly, damp spaces. In fact, I’ve had laminate floor that we soaked in water, just to see how it would stand up. And it didn’t have an issue.
If it’s not working, though, it has to be torn out. There’s no way to repair this prefabricated floor. So this might be just a situation where you’re going to have to insist that the manufacturer take this back or make good with a different product.
LESLIE: Yeah. It might just be the product itself. Tom and I both have laminate floors in the basement and they’re great. So, get with the manufacturer and hopefully you’ll get this resolved super fast.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, we hope we’ve given you some great tips and ideas to help tackle your own home improvement and home décor projects this hour. But remember, if you’ve got questions, 24/7, you could post those to our website at MoneyPit.com or to our 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.)