Electrical Outlet Safety Check, Smart Kitchen Upgrades, Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder and more
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 with your home improvement projects. We want to solve those décor dilemmas. If you’ve got a project that you’re planning for 2015, give us a call. If you have no project whatsoever that you’re planning for 2015, call us and we will think of one for you, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: We’ll find something.
TOM: Coming up this hour, the right electrical outlet can actually save your life. We’re going to have a tip this hour on how you can check your outlets to make sure that they are up to the safest standards. And we’re going to tell you an interesting story about an off-the-wall murder attempt that was actually thwarted by a ground-fault circuit interrupter.
LESLIE: Ah, see? It pays to be safe, in more ways than one.
Well, if a new kitchen is on your must-have list this year, we’ve got four awesome tips for kitchen makeovers, including low-cost upgrades that offer high impact.
TOM: And we’ve got a great reason to call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Smart-Bulb LED Starter Kit from TCP. This is a way to connect and monitor all of your home’s lighting from your smartphone.
It’s a prize worth 80 bucks, going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show at 888-MONEY-PIT. So call us right now, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Gwen in Wyoming, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
GWEN: Well, we’re working on a kitchen remodel and I’m looking at sinks. Right now, we have a stainless-steel sink that has three compartments in it. And it just doesn’t seem to hold the water hot for very long. And I was wondering, are different things more insulated or how could we insulate a sink?
TOM: Well, sinks are generally not insulated.
TOM: What should be insulated is the wall behind the sink. And if the wall behind the sink is not insulated, then the cabinet gets that much colder and then, of course, the water doesn’t stay warm in the sink very long. It’s an interesting question, though, Gwen, and I’m thinking about how could you possibly insulate a sink.
One idea comes to mind is to spray the whole thing with expandable foam insulation, because it would be under the cabinet. And once you got it done – it would be kind of a messy job but once it was done, you’d be finished. Except that you would want to make sure you keep it away from all the plumbing connections because, eventually, you’re going to want to replace the faucet and you don’t want to have to cut through all that mess. Or you could just wrap it with some other type of insulation: one that’s perhaps encapsulated, like a batt insulation.
But I’ve never actually had anyone ask me how to try to keep a sink warmer but I see why it’s important to you. Because it would make sense, as you’re doing the dishes, to try to keep that water as warm as possible. But I would first want you to concentrate in making sure the wall underneath there is properly insulated.
GWEN: That makes sense. So when we pull it all out and – we’ll double-check to make sure that wall has good insulation.
TOM: Yeah, that might be part of your problem. And if you get it warmed up – insulated and warmed up - you may not have to deal with trying to insulate a sink.
GWEN: OK. Well, great. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Gwen. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to help Bud in Oregon avoid a hair-raising electrical situation.
What’s going on, Bud?
BUD: I’ve got 3 banks of the 2 bulbs each, 4-foot-long mounted up in the ceiling, built into a box directly over my cooktop. And during the summertime, when the humidity is higher, if I get any moisture up there, it can take sometimes days before those lights will come on reliably on the first flip of the switch.
Now, in the winter, when I’m burning a wood stove, which means I’ve got lower humidity inside the house, if I’m cooking on the cooktop and don’t turn the lights on before, I get the same problem. Except as soon as the moisture stops going up there and I’ve got 10, 15 minutes, then the lights will start coming back on regularly and be reliable again.
So, what I need to know from you, if you’ve got some suggestions, is before I get up there and start looking for how to do something, I want to know what I need to have in stock. Is there something – a lubricant, a cleanser or whatever – to do something with contacts or got any suggestions?
TOM: I would give up on those fixtures.
BUD: I would, too. I think you’re right.
TOM: I would just give up on them. They don’t sound safe to me. I’m not quite sure what exactly is going wrong with them but they certainly shouldn’t be behaving that way. And I would worry about them getting worse and potentially causing a fire.
The cost of a 4-foot, doable fluorescent fixture is not very much today. And so I would simply take this on as a project and replace each and every one of them. I wouldn’t try to change the ballast out, I wouldn’t try to clean it, I wouldn’t try to do anything like that. I would just replace them. It’s just not worth it.
BUD: It’s not what I wanted to hear but it’s a good thing and it’s probably cheaper in the long run to spend the $8, $10 per what you – put up 3 brand-new ones.
BUD: OK. I’ll just look for a good time when I can do it without breaking my neck.
TOM: That’s always important. Bud, 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. We are here to give you a hand with your home repair or your home improvement questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So whatever you are working on, we can help you figure it out or find the right product to get it done. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, find out how the right electrical outlet saved one man from an attempt on his life. The shocking details, 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: The number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question. If you do pick up the phone and make that call, we will toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat. Because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a very cool, new product. It’s called the Connected Smart LED Light Bulb Starter Kit and includes two LED dimmable light bulbs and it’s made by TCP, which you can use to remotely control lighting, dimming and get smart lighting features from anywhere in the world.
LESLIE: You know, this is an interesting kit, Tom, because I believe it was at the Hardware Show last year that we were given samples of this. And I hooked mine up, which really wasn’t difficult in any way, shape or form. There’s a piece that plugs into the wall and two light bulbs. And then it’s an app, so it was super-simple.
And I set it up before we went away for Thanksgiving and I was putting lights on in one room, turning them off in another room. So I was really trying to confuse the heck out of everybody, including myself and my neighbors, as to – was somebody home? Was somebody not home? But it’s really a very cool product and that’s just one of the many things that you can do with it.
You can actually control up to 250 controllable bulbs. And the system is going to eliminate the need for additional dimmers, timers, confusing wiring. I mean seriously, if I could do it, you guys could do it. You just plug it in and go. So check out the Smart LED Starter Kit from TCP at HomeDepot.com.
TOM: And call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: How do you know it’s winter? Well, Ken in Wisconsin is dealing with ice and snow in the gutters.
Ken, sorry you are dealing with this weather. How can we help you today?
KEN: Well, what I’ve got is I’ve got a ranch-style home. I put an addition on and since I put the addition on, now, when I get snow – we had this snow – I got about 8 inches on the roof. But now I’ve got an ice buildup in the gutters and it’s now backed up a little bit. And I’ve got icicles probably 4 or 5 foot long and I’m afraid it’s going to back up into the house. How do I stop that or is there a way to get it melted and get rid of it?
TOM: OK. So, this is an addition and it’s only happening on the addition and it’s not happening on the main house?
KEN: No, it’s happening on the main house and the addition.
TOM: Both. OK. So, this is what is known as ice damming. And the reason ice dams happen is because warm air gets up into your attic space around sort of the middle of your house, because you don’t have enough insulation. And then it heats the roof right above the heated space of the house and that lets the snow melt. And then the snow washes down the roof edge until it gets to that line of about – right above the exterior wall. That’s when it starts to get a lot colder and starts to form ice. And then more snow melts, more ice forms, more snow melts, more ice forms. So, that’s what’s happening; that’s the reason this is happening.
How can we stop this? Well, a few things. First of all, it’s a good idea to take a look at your level of insulation. And in your part of the country, you really should have 15 to 20 inches of insulation, if not a bit more. Adding insulation will stop the ice dams from forming, because you won’t have as much water running down your roof all at once and freezing at the roof edge.
The second thing that you can do is take a look at the ventilation. If you have good ventilation that goes in the soffit, up under the roof sheathing and out like, for example, at a ridge vent, again, that ventilation stops the difference in temperature across that particular area.
Remember, we’re holding the heat at the ceiling of the house. Above the insulation, in a perfect world, we want that to actually be the same temperature as the outside. Because if it is, you’re not going to have this disproportional melting of snow up higher on the roof and that water running down and freezing at the roof edge.
KEN: I’m guessing we have – nothing was a problem until I put the addition on. I wonder if they didn’t put enough insulation in the addition and that’s where I’m having an issue.
TOM: It may very well have been – that’s why I was trying to figure out if it happens all the way around or just the addition, because I was kind of thinking the same thing myself.
Now, the other thing that you can do is – and of course, you can’t do it now when your roof is full of ice. But there are heating coils that are designed to go at a roof edge but it’s not the solution. It’s a temporary solution, if anything. And of course, it’s expensive to run and it’s expensive to buy and install. But sometimes in commercial buildings or restaurants, hotels where they want to be sure that none of the ice is going to fall and hurt somebody, you’ll see these electric coils right above those areas for this purpose: to kind of melt the ice and turn it back to water and be done with it. So, that’s an opportunity for you.
But again, I would rather see you put the insulation in because besides stopping the ice from forming, you’re going to lower your heating costs, which are going to be astronomical if you don’t have enough insulation. So take a look at the insulation, take a look at the ventilation. I think your solution lies right there.
KEN: I will do that. I appreciate the advice.
TOM: So, check this out, Leslie: last month, a woman in Rochester, New York was charged with attempted murder. And her boyfriend says she threw a clock radio into the bathtub while he was in it and it was full of water. So, what saved the guy from electrocution? A ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet. Yes, a GFCI outlet tripped and saved his life.
LESLIE: So it actually worked. The GFCI actually did its job. So it tripped, cut the power to the outlet and the guy ended up not being electrocuted, much to the chagrin of his lady friend, I’m sure.
TOM: And lives to tell the tale today. Well, that reminds us of the importance of checking your own home for an up-to-date electrical system.
Now, the ground-fault outlets we’re talking about are crucial in the kitchen, in the bathroom, outside, in the basement, basically anything that’s determined to be a “wet location.” Even in the garage. And the way it works is when the outlet detects that the current flowing is going along an unintended path, like to the ground, it’s going to automatically shut that power off before any damage is done.
LESLIE: Now, if you’ve got young kids like me, you’re going to also want to consider installing tamper-resistant receptacles – the TRRs – to all of your electrical outlets or at least ones that are in reach of the kids. And these are a step above those simple, plastic plug-ins. Because my kids could pull those out of the outlets at a very young age, so they really don’t do the trick.
Now, what happens here with the TRRs is there’s a spring-loaded shutter. And that closes off the contact openings: you know, the slot where the plug actually goes in. When you need to use them, you sort of insert the plug just into the opening, slide the shutters out of the way and then the plug goes in. So this way, there’s no chance of forgetting to put those little plastic covers back or nimble, little fingers removing them on their own.
TOM: Now, it’s also a good idea to make sure electronic appliances, like a computer or your router or your TV, are also plugged into a surge protector, which prevents electrical damage in an electrical surge like, say, for example, a lightning strike.
And finally, there are two, brand-new electrical devices that are on the market right now you might also want to consider. Outlets are out now that have USB ports built in so you can charge devices without holding the outlet hostage, so to speak. They’re made by Leviton. And also by Leviton: arc protectors. These shut off power to circuits when arcing is detected, which is a major cause of electrical fires, as caused often by damaged or deteriorated wiring. The arc protector measures for that, monitors for that and shuts off the power before the fire occurs.
So, make sure you take advantage of all the new electrical technology out there to keep your wiring system safe.
888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading out to California where Carol is dealing with a heating situation. Tell us what’s going on.
CAROL: I bought a home – a brand-new home. And the air-conditioning unit and heating unit is above my bedroom and so it gets major heat and air conditioning. But the front room is vaulted and the two bedrooms on the opposite side of the house are regular – flat – like my bedroom roof. And the heat doesn’t seem to distribute very good, because the bedrooms and the front room are on the cool side, where my bedroom will be hot if you have the heater on or opposite with the air conditioning. And I’m wondering if there’s something I can have done to make that better.
TOM: Possibly. It sounds like the HVAC system was not properly designed. I’m going to presume that everything that was designed to work, in terms of ducts not being restricted and that sort of thing, is working. But what you’re describing is, unfortunately, a very common condition caused exclusively by an improper or inadequate HVAC design. Because you have to really design how much air goes into every part of the house and how much air comes back from the return and what path that air takes on the way back. Because it’s not just a matter of dumping air out; you have to take it back so it can be recooled and reheated.
And so if you’re having such an enormous problem with inconsistency of temperature throughout the house, then I think you need to get a really good-quality HVAC contractor in there to try to figure out why that’s happening and what you can reasonably do, within the guidelines of the structure you have right now, without doing a lot of demolition to walls to add more heat or cooling, add more air supply, into those rooms. Because, obviously, you don’t have enough and that’s what’s making you so uncomfortable.
But not just – we’re not just calling – we’re not just talking about calling a guy for a service of your heating system now. We need a real technician that understands HVAC duct layout, can do a heat-loss calculation for your house and figure out where it’s gone wrong and what it’s going to take to fix it.
CAROL: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Derwin in Texas who’s dealing with a fascia-board situation. Tell us what’s going on.
DERWIN: I have a fascia board that is rotten. The way it’s put on there is I have a 1×4 fascia board that’s nailed up on there and then a 1×2 is nailed on the top portion of the fascia board.
DERWIN: Which kind of – and the gutter is nailed to the 1×2, so I guess the 1×2 keeps the gutter from resting up against the fascia board, to keep it from rotting.
TOM: Got it. Mm-hmm.
DERWIN: But the drip edge – there’s a drip edge that’s nailed to the top, so like a 2×2 drip edge. And the top part of the drip edge is nailed to the roof deck and then it lays – the other half is – lays into the gutter.
TOM: So what you want to know is how can you get the rotted fascia board out without taking apart your gutter and your drip edge and your spacer and all that stuff, right?
TOM: There’s no way to surgically remove the fascia; it’s like one part of the assembly.
TOM: So you’d have to take the whole thing apart. Now, it’s not a – it sounds like a lot of work. It’s not a tremendous project to get a gutter off. It’s not something you can do yourself because you don’t want to bend it, so you have to do it with some help to take the gutter off in one piece.
But there is an opportunity here and that is that when you replace the fascia, I would not put wood fascia back. What I would do is I would use a product called AZEK – A-Z-E-K. This looks like wood, so it could look like that old 1×4 that you had, except it’s made of cellular PVC. So, it cuts like wood and it looks like wood but it never rots. So I would definitely suggest that this is an opportunity to improve the material that you’re using there.
TOM: Now, whether or not you put back the spacer and the gutter the way it was before is up to you. You really don’t need to have a spacer. You could put the gutter right up against the AZEK and then have the roof just lay into the top of the gutter. That would be the most normal assembly for that kind of thing.
But if you want the spacer and it just works out better because that’s the way it was before, then what you could do is buy 1×6 AZEK, cut a 1½-inch strip off of it, use that as a spacer and use the rest as – you’ll have a 1×4 left and you use that for the fascia and you’ll have the strip just in one piece.
DERWIN: So it cuts just like wood.
TOM: Looks like wood, cuts like wood, doesn’t rot like wood. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So you guys out there, do you ever travel with your tools? I know I do; I have to travel with them sometimes on shoots. I always check them and guess what? Apparently lots of us do and that’s according to the TSA. We’re going to find out about the unique tools that TSA agents have confiscated from travelers, 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: Well, if you find the occasion to travel to take on your home improvement projects, the TSA has some friendly advice, based on recent confiscations at airports across the country. You will not believe what people try to pack in their carry-on bags.
LESLIE: Yeah, apparently hammers, hatchets, boat anchors. Oh, my God, did you write this promo for me? Because you know I brought a boat anchor to Nova Scotia in my carry-on bag for an episode of Hotel Impossible.
TOM: Absolutely. You never have too many boat anchors.
LESLIE: It was a prop, though. Mine did not weigh like a gajillion pounds.
But seriously, hammers, hatchets, boat anchors, Drano and wasp spray are among the items not welcome by airlines. Who knew? I mean seriously, you would think you could just carry those on. And those were all taken from carry-ons; people didn’t even try to check those things.
TOM: Well, a staple gun, a radial saw blade and a wrench were also prohibited. Apparently, though, there is no home improvement going on at 30,000 feet.
Now, for the kids that are aspiring to become do-it-yourselfers, toy tools are also banned, including the poor, little boy who had his toy chainsaw taken away by those nasty folks at the TSA.
LESLIE: What? A toy chainsaw?
TOM: So, you can’t pack your tools; you’ve got to check them. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Karen in Nebraska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KAREN: Yes. I had a tile floor put in my bathroom. And where you walk in, the tile has – the grout has chipped out. And so I called the tile guy and he came and he took that piece of tile out and regrouted it and it’s happening again. Is there something I can use just to seal that up or do we have to regrout it a third time?
TOM: Well, if the grout is falling out, then sealing it is not going to change anything. It sounds like the grout might have been not mixed correctly, perhaps it was too dry. Is it falling out in the same place that it fell out the first time?
LESLIE: Karen, is it a small tile or a large tile?
KAREN: I think it’s 12×12.
LESLIE: OK. And you’re not seeing any cracks in the tile? It’s just strictly on the grout?
KAREN: Yeah, just the grout is chipping out. And it’s just in the one place: the same place he replaced it.
TOM: Well, when you say he replaced it, did he just sort of fill in the missing areas or did he actually really physically take out all the old grout?
KAREN: He took out the old grout and put in a new tile.
TOM: You’re going to have to have the tile guy come back again, pull out the grout and try it one more time. But have him look this time, carefully, to see if there’s any movement in the floor there that’s causing this to happen. Because I agree with Leslie on this: I definitely think something’s going on there that’s causing it to loosen up. It shouldn’t be happening.
If the grout was not fully removed the first time, then I would think that maybe, you know, it just wasn’t adhering. But if it’s completely totally and completely removed and it’s still coming up, then I think that there’s something unstable about that floor surface and that’s why it’s popping up. You’re going to have to get the tile guy involved again. It’s definitely not a maintenance issue.
KAREN: OK. Well, I will do that for sure then.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Iowa where Brian has a crack on the wall that keeps on coming back. Tell us what’s going on.
BRIAN: Well, yeah, I built this home about six years ago and noticed it within the first year, really, that in just one of my bedrooms, I have a crack that comes up from my bedroom going into my bathroom door. And it kind of almost goes up probably close to 2½ feet, 3 feet. And it comes and goes, depending on the year. I’ve finished over it a couple of times on both sides of the wall, into the bathroom and here, and have tried to refinish over it and it keeps coming back. And my builder looked at it. Can’t quite figure it out and …
TOM: This is what we call a Groundhog Day home improvement project, Brian, because it just keeps happening over and over again, right?
BRIAN: Yeah, yeah. It just – yeah, just originally I just tried to cover it up and make it look better and …
TOM: Alright. Well, here’s the thing. You’ve got a very normal crack in a wall there. Cracks often form over doors, like exactly what you’re describing there, because that’s a weaker part of the wall. And for whatever reason, you had some settlement in your house and it caused this crack to open up. The fact that you’re spackling it is not going to solve it. It solves it for a season but it won’t solve it permanently.
What you need to do is you need to sand the area of the crack pretty well, because I want you to get out – get rid of all that extra spackle you’ve been putting on there. Then I want you to add a layer of fiberglass drywall tape, which is sort of like a netting. It’s a bit sticky-backed. And then I want you to spackle over the fiberglass netting – over the fiberglass tape – on both sides. Start with a narrow bead of spackle and then open it up wider and wider and wider. And that, on both sides of the wall, will make that wall strong enough to stand up to the movement that will happen the next time the wall expands or contracts.
You can’t just spackle it, because you’re not really doing anything to bridge that gap. You bridge that gap with the tape, spackle over the tape, now you’ve got a permanent repair. Does that make sense?
BRIAN: Yeah, that makes sense.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Brian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, still ahead in the program, have squirrels invaded your bird feeders? Squirrels are hungry, too, but we’re going to tell you how to keep your feeders full for your feathered friends when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, 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. And the number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Connected Smart LED Light Bulb Starter Kit with two LED dimmable light bulbs from TCP. You can remotely control your lighting, dimming and smart lighting features from anywhere that you happen to be in the world. And each system accommodates up to 250 controllable bulbs. I don’t think I have 250 light bulbs in my house but you could do it if you did.
There’s no confusing wiring. You just plug it in and go. It’s really that simple, guys.
TOM: Yeah. And the cool news is that the 60-watt compatible LED bulbs use 85 percent less energy compared to a standard incandescent light bulb. You can use them in lamps, in sconces, ceiling-mount fixtures, pretty much anywhere you need them.
Check out the Smart LED Starter Kit from TCP at HomeDepot.com. And call us, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Ruth in Michigan on the line. How can we help you today?
RUTH: I have an older house that’s in need of some pizzazz and wanted to put shutters over my vinyl siding. Is that possible? And how would I attach them?
TOM: Yeah, it’s done all the time. And there are special fasteners that are used in that situation so that you pierce the siding without causing a leak to happen. And most of the shutter companies will sell those as part of the shutter, too, so you certainly can do that.
You do want to be careful not to squish the siding because, remember, the siding is somewhat soft. And so as long as you’re careful about the way they attach, you certainly can have shutters on top of vinyl. OK, Ruth?
RUTH: Alright. Well, good. I was wondering if it could be a do-it-yourself project.
TOM: Absolutely. Ruth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hugo in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
HUGO: I’m redoing my kitchen and bathroom. And I’m wondering what you would recommend for flooring it. I’ve got carpet in it now and I sincerely dislike the carpet. And I want to put something else in and would you recommend a composite material or vinyl or linoleum or what?
TOM: Well, I can’t think of two rooms that are worse for carpeting than kitchens and bathrooms.
HUGO: I know. Tell me about it. I bought the house seven years ago and it had that in it, so …
TOM: Yeah. Bad décor choice but I think you can do a lot better. I think one thing that you might want to take a look at is laminate flooring because laminate flooring can come in a wide range of designs. It can look like tile, it can look like stone or it could look like wood. And it’s really durable when it comes to moist/damp places.
HUGO: What about – will a stove and refrigerator leave dents in it?
TOM: I’ve had laminate flooring down in my kitchen for 10 years and we pull the refrigerator out whenever it’s necessary. I never worry about it.
HUGO: Well, I appreciate the information. I thank you and I’ll look into it.
TOM: Alright, Hugo. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you enjoy feeding the birds, you probably don’t enjoy feeding everything else around your yard, like those pesky squirrels. So when you’re shopping for bird seed, you should always choose one that repels squirrels. There’s actually several on the market that birds love and squirrels, not so much.
TOM: Now, if you have bird feeders, you know how tough it is to keep the squirrels out. But you can try to keep them away by placing those feeders away from trees and power lines, porches or other launching points.
Keep in mind, though, that these squirrels are tricky. They can actually jump distances of 10 feet or longer. And another option is mounting the feeders on a smooth metal pole at least 6 feet high with, again, no surrounding branches or bushes within 12 feet. And always use feeders with openings that are big enough for the birds but too small for squirrels.
888-666-3974. If you’ve got a question about a home improvement project around your house, we’d love to hear it. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Robin in Oregon who’s dealing with some mold issues. Tell us what’s going on.
ROBIN: In our bathroom, there just seems to be a lot of moisture. I don’t know if the exhaust fan is working properly or not. On one of your shows, you’d mentioned Concrobium, so I sprayed that in the shower and that seems to help stave it off. But we use a fan, we use the exhaust fan and we use a dehumidifier.
And I noticed on the outside, I guess, outtake vents, there’s a whole bunch of black stuff. And then also in our sinks, underneath the faucet, there’s mold back in behind that hole. So I’m wondering, is this going to be a health concern or how do I stop some of this mold?
TOM: Well, I mean the solution comes down to managing moisture and it sounds like you’re doing the right things. But one common mistake that people make with exhaust fans is that they don’t leave them on long enough after you take a bath or a shower. They really have to stay on, sometimes, 15 or 20 minutes to properly dry out the room.
ROBIN: Well, I know – well, I can’t speak for my husband but I know that I do, just because I’ve got a fan running, I’ve got a dehumidifier and I’ve – we’ve also got the exhaust fan and it is the biggest one that you can have. And I’m wondering if just because of our moist area we need to get two of them so it’s directly over the shower? I don’t know. But I’m worried that through the whole pipe that leads to the outside, is that all filled with mold in there if the outside vent shows mold?
TOM: Well, the vent that’s taking the air from the bathroom out, is that what you’re seeing on the outside wall?
ROBIN: I’m not seeing on the wall, just on the vent itself, you know where the – I guess where the air goes out to the outside? That whole vent is all moldy-looking.
TOM: Well, a lot of people look at vents that are dirty and call it mold. I think it would be unusual for it to be moldy, because you would have to have a pretty strong food source there. And the only thing you’re going to have coming out that vent is a bit of dust, which could be a mold source but it’s very unusual for it to really develop. So I think you might just be seeing a dirty vent. It’s much more likely that what you’re seeing there is dirt and not mold.
But I would say this: if you want to eliminate the possibility of moisture inside the bathroom, what you want to do is you want to make sure that the exhaust fan – the bathroom fan – is wired to a humidistat.
And if you take a look at the fans that are made by Broan-NuTone, they actually have a new one coming out, I know, that has a humidistatic control. And I think they have some others, as well. But we just saw one last week, though, at a major trade show called the International Builders’ Show that they were releasing for the first time.
But if you get one of these fans that’s got a humidistatic control in it, then you don’t have to worry about whether or not somebody’s leaving it on or not. It just stays on until the moisture goes down and then automatically goes off. So, it kind of takes you out of the equation.
TOM: And your husband. Because he could be the problem.
ROBIN: I don’t have to be a grouch and say, “Turn that back on.” OK.
TOM: You do not. You do not.
ROBIN: Alright. Well, I will try those. And the Concrobium is working great in the shower, so that was an excellent tip from before.
TOM: Our pleasure. Glad it worked out for you. Robin, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, did your dishwasher get a workout over the holiday season? Does it have a bit of a stinky odor as a result? Well, that is called “biogas.” We’ll tell you how to get rid of it, next.
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 if you’d like home improvement advice when you want it, get our latest show delivered directly to you each week by clicking on the Radio and Podcast section of our home page at MoneyPit.com.
And in addition to our weekly radio show, you can also subscribe to the feeds of new articles, videos and blogs online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. And post your questions in the Community section, just like Bill did from New Jersey who writes: “We’ve recently moved into a new home in which I completed much of the finish work myself. A month after, our dishwasher developed a foul odor. The odor – just after the dishes are cleaned and it stays with us while dirty dishes are being loaded into the washer. And we run it every two to three days. What can I do to keep my wife happy?”
TOM: It sounds like you’re dealing with biogas. So what you want to do is disassemble the spray arms. There is a little nut there you can unscrew to pop them off. The spray arms have little ports in them and they sometimes get gross. You want to look for the black gel or the goo that sometimes attaches to them. That can have quite an odor to it. Soak it in super-hot water with a bit of bleach and that should do the trick.
LESLIE: And you know where else this happens? On the door seal on a front-loading washing machine. So wipe that down with some bleach and water to get rid of the biogas there. I mean this is just gross. Gross.
TOM: Well, kitchen remodels are popular because they almost always increase the value of your home. But take it from my favorite designer, you’ve got to have a plan. Leslie tells us how to do just that, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: And you’re my favorite home inspector, Tom.
TOM: Well, thank you. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. First of all, take notes. Now, in the weeks leading up to your renovation, you want to jot down problems that occur on a regular basis so that you can address them in your updated space. So you need to pay attention to high-traffic areas within the room, your counter space, clearances around your dishwasher and fridge doors, along with your drawers and cabinets. Have that list handy when you’re working with your kitchen-design pro and that will make sure that all those trouble spots are addressed when the new room is underway.
Of course, not all of your kitchen makeovers need a full demo. If you’re looking for a change in style but you don’t want to break the bank, you need to work with what you have. So keep appliances where they are and change cabinet doors or refinish what you have. Much cheaper than buying brand-new cabinets. And just like that, you’ll have found the money to splurge on, say, a new countertop.
Now, speaking of being budget-sneaky, there are many questionable factors that could add up to big, unplanned spending, like electrical, plumbing, even gas connections that might need to be moved or updated. Tricky and pricey, all of them. So my big fake-out trick here is to pretend that I only have about 80 percent of my planned budget to spend. Then I tuck away that extra 20 percent for the inevitable: you know, hated non-refundable fixtures, hiring a pro or the right to change one’s mind or broken tiles. All of that stuff is bound to happen.
Now, tiles are important to a kitchen. So after they’re installed, you want them to always look as good as new. Dirty grout will make your tiles look old, especially around mildew-producing water. So my solution? Apply a silicone grout sealer to the grout as soon as it dries and make sure you do that. Otherwise, it’s going to get dirty super-fast.
Now, finally, if your project involves installing a new floor, be absolutely sure to remove any appliances that go under your counter. Then install the new floor underneath where the appliances will go. Tom has had experience with this.
Was it your sister’s house, Tom, you had to go and lift a dishwasher out?
TOM: Yeah, mm-hmm. We had to take the countertop off because they had tiled the dishwasher in and not tiled under it.
LESLIE: Yeah. So it really does happen, guys. So make sure that you take out the appliances, tile underneath, put the appliance back. That’s what those adjustable legs are for. So, really, make sure you’re taking the right steps in advance to avoid problems in the future.
You can read more at my blog at LeslieSegrete.com. Good luck. Always head over to The Money Pit; we’ve got lots of great information there. And good luck on your kitchen reno (ph).
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, if you’re looking for ideas on new color schemes for your house, don’t let the thousands of color choices overwhelm you. We’ll have tips on how to choose the perfect paint color, on the next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(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.)