Fall Home Improvement Projects, and Home Technology That Alleviates Hassles
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 project on this beautiful fall day. What are you working on? It is the perfect time for so many projects around the house, both outside and inside. It’s a big time of year to tackle painting projects outside because it’s so comfortable to work out right now in the exterior. And the paint really has a chance to set up and dry nice; there’s not as much humidity in the air.
Is that what you’re working on? Maybe you’re planning a project that you’ve been putting off all summer long because it’s been too miserably warm? Give us a call right now. We will help you take that all-important first step, help you plan it out, figure out what the best materials are to use. If you’re not going to do the job yourself, we’ll teach you the best ways to hire a pro to get it done for you. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up this hour, can your house hold its own against the colder temperatures that are just around the corner? We’re going to have some autumn home improvement projects that will add comfort, safety and put a few extra bucks in your wallet.
LESLIE: And speaking of autumn, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. Halloween, you guys. I just love fall décor. If you do, too, you are in excellent luck, my friends. We’ve got expert decorating tips from The Home Depot’s guru of design trends. And let me tell you, they’ve got some good stuff this season.
TOM: They definitely do. And don’t you just hate it when you’re about to drift off to sleep and you remember that you left a light on somewhere? Well, now there’s an app for that. We’ve got news on new smart products that eliminate some of the most annoying household hassles, like having to get out of your comfy bed to turn off the lights or the TV or just about any other appliance.
LESLIE: Or if you’re a space-case, like me, close the front door. Yikes. Where has my brain been? Well, you guys, get this app and you will not have to worry about it again.
And one lucky caller this hour never has to fight stinky odors again in the house, in the kitchen. We’re giving away a Glisten Family of Cleaners Prize Pack, including Glisten Disposer Care. It’s going to get rid of garbage-disposer grunge, all that buildup and just that funky odor.
TOM: It’s a prize worth $50, so give us a call, right now, for your chance to win. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Lucy in Kansas is on the line and would like some help refinishing some cabinets. Tell us about your project.
LUCY: Yes. We have a home that is about 17 years old. I just moved here about three years ago. And we have solid-oak cabinets and the overall finish is just looking dull. It isn’t awfully bunged up or anything but there are areas, like along the upper edges of the drawers, where the color looks faded. And so, I don’t know what to use to clean them and I don’t know what to do to make them have some sheen.
TOM: A couple of things. First of all, you can clean them with Murphy’s Oil Soap; that’s a good, mild soap for cleaning any kind of wood surface, including floors and cabinets. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is you can – if it’s just the finish that’s kind of worn a little bit, you can take those doors off, take the drawers out and lightly sand them and then put another coat of urethane on it. You’re probably going to want to use a satin urethane but make sure you sand them first. And use an oil-based, satin urethane. I would not use water-base.
LUCY: I see.
TOM: Even though it’s easier to use, it’s not as durable. So, use the oil-based urethane. And I would try it on maybe one drawer front or someplace that’s the least obvious in your kitchen, just to make sure you like the way it came out. And then go ahead and do the rest.
LUCY: Mm-hmm. OK. I think that’ll just fix us right up.
TOM: I think so. Lucy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Larry in Wisconsin on the line who’s dealing with some siding issues. Tell us what’s going on.
LARRY: What I did is I was watching This Old House a couple years ago and my house was just built four years ago so I just had a brand-new driveway and everything. And they were showing you how – that you could stain your driveway. And I live in Wisconsin, so I decided to stain my driveway and stuff.
LARRY: And then during that time, I got some of that stain on my siding, on my – or yeah, my vinyl siding. And I can’t figure out how to get that stuff off.
TOM: It’s on the vinyl siding, huh?
TOM: Yeah, that’s going to be a challenge. Well, since vinyl is a solid material, have you tried to sand it with a very, very fine sandpaper, like an emery cloth that may be a 220-grit or finer? Or you could try to use rubbing compound, like you use for a car.
TOM: And that’s kind of abrasive, too. You’re going to have to abrade through that surface to see if you can possibly get down to the raw vinyl.
LARRY: Right. I’ve tried Comet and I even – a little bit of gasoline or some mineral oil and all kinds of – you know what, though? I would never, ever put that stuff back on my driveway again, because the first time we had an ice storm and I went to shovel – and all that stuff just peeled right on up.
TOM: Oh, really?
LARRY: Oh, yeah, it was terrible. And then I had to get a pressure washer and rent that and then blow the stuff, you know. It’s just a mess.
TOM: Maybe you need to go back and look at that This Old House segment again.
LARRY: Well, here’s what happened, though. I was in sales for 25 years myself; I sold cars. And if I sold somebody a car, I would sell you an extended warranty, rustproofing, fabric, whatever.
LARRY: So all that contractor had to do was just tell me, “Hey, what color driveway would you want?” And I would have said, “What do you mean by that?” Because they can put that dye in there, that powder and then they could have mixed it right up with the cement and boom, it would have been perfect.
TOM: Exactly, yeah. Yeah.
LARRY: But that didn’t happen.
TOM: You know who was one of the first architects to ever use that technique?
LARRY: Frank Lloyd Wright?
TOM: Frank Lloyd Wright. That’s exactly right. You are correct, sir.
LARRY: Well, he built a lot of beautiful houses right here in my town.
TOM: He did.
LARRY: I live in Boyd, Wisconsin and – oh yeah, he was really gifted, that’s for sure.
TOM: Yeah. Yep. He was way ahead of his time.
LARRY: Yes, he was.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. I think if you try to abrade that with some
sandpaper or some rubbing compound, then that’ll do it.
LARRY: Alrighty. I’ll try that. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. You’re welcome. 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. Hey, stop your Halloween decorating for one minute and pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement question or e-mail it to us or post it online. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, a little DIY now and you won’t lose heat or hot water when temperatures are cold or even freezing. We’re going to have your fall to-do projects that you don’t want to put off, 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 is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call right now. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the Glisten Prize Pack.
LESLIE: It’s got the only EPA-registered dishwasher cleaner: Glisten Dishwasher Magic. It’s going to clean, freshen and extend the life of your dishwasher. It’s also going to include Glisten Disposer Care. And that will get rid of that garbage-disposer grunge, any buildup and that funky odor that just tends to build up over time.
TOM: It’s available at lots of retailers and online at GlistenCleaners.com. It’s worth 50 bucks. This package is going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Brunie (sp) in Alaska who’s looking for some planting help in Alaska. Some cold plants, I guess. Fake ones.
Welcome, Brunie (sp). How can we help you?
BRUNIE (sp): We have a very narrow swath of grass, which is actually just moss and tall weeds. Can’t quite tell what kind of weed it is and there’s no grass growing; it’s just moss and it’s damp. It’s on the north side of the building and it’s just at the edge of the deck.
BRUNIE (sp): So it virtually gets no sun ever. I think it’s – crabweed, I think it’s called or some kind of a ferocious weed that grows uncontrollably.
BRUNIE (sp): So I was wondering if you could make any suggestions what else I could grow there.
TOM: Well, the key here is to understand what hardiness zone that your area of the country is in. And anybody that lives in Alaska is pretty hardy, by my book.
BRUNIE (sp): Yeah.
TOM: But there are actually hardiness zones there.
And taking a look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s site, Leslie, what zone does it look like she’s in?
LESLIE: It looks like Anchorage is placed in the 3b/3a zone, which would put you in the -40 to -30 degree temperature zone. So that kind of gives you an idea of what hardiness of plant or grass that you would need to sustain those temperature swings.
TOM: And if you go to the Almanac.com, which is the website for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, they actually have a guide there that has all these plants listed by hardiness zone. So there are actually quite a few plants that will survive, believe it or not, in that hardiness zone. And they’re all listed there in a directory on The Old Farmer’s Almanac. So I think that would be a good source for you. Gives you lots of options on what you can do with that space, based on that hardiness zone and of course, the amount of light. And hopefully, we can get something growing there pretty soon.
BRUNIE (sp): Thank you so much. That would – that’s very nice. I appreciate that.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Preston in Kentucky is on the line who needs some help with a painting project. What’s going on at your money pit?
PRESTON: I was just curious why – I’ve gotten a few estimates on getting the inside of my home painted. And I was curious why they – why there’s such a wide gap in between the prices that I’ve gotten. Is one job different than the other?
TOM: Well, it depends. When the first painter comes, did you have sort of your blue jeans on and dirty shirt and when the second guy came, you were all dressed up in a suit and tie like you had just walked out of the bank?
LESLIE: Dressed from work?
TOM: They bid you as much as they bid the job.
LESLIE: Briefcase handcuffed to your wrist?
TOM: Yeah. Yeah, don’t wear the fake Rolex now when the guy comes over to give you a price.
Listen, the thing is what you want to do is make sure they’re comparing apples to apples on these estimates. So there could be a lot of things that they’re doing differently. I would check that first, starting with the brand of paint, because the better paint is going to be worth it; it’s going to be more scrubbable. How many coats they’re going to apply.
LESLIE: Are they priming? What’s the prep work? Is it plaster? Do they need to skim-coat? Is there any repair work that needs to be done to the existing drywall?
TOM: And also, you’re just going to have to – because it’s so labor-intensive, you’re absolutely going to positively have to do your homework on all these guys and get references and talk to people that they did work for recently.
And I like to ask people for references of somebody that they worked for at least a year ago, so we can see over time what their reputation has been. Because you definitely need to have someone who’s careful about their – working inside your house and who’s also a skilled painter. So I would dig in on the references and I would make sure that we’re comparing apples to apples in terms of what the project is that they’re actually doing.
And then another thing that you can do is always go online. And I like to search “complaints against” and the name of the business. And believe me, if there is anybody who’s had a problem, they’re going to pop up in a Google search. So if you search the word “complaints” and the name of the vendor, you’ll find out right away.
And keep in mind, there are complaint sites out there. The only reason people go to them is to complain, so you don’t always get a balanced view. But if you see a lot of complaints on a lot of different sites, then you know maybe it’s an issue and you should steer clear. Does that make sense?
PRESTON: OK, great.
TOM: Well, with the chilly weather upon us, now is a great time to take on projects that will improve your warmth and comfort as the temperatures continue to drop.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, both gas and electric water heaters develop a buildup of sediment at the bottom of the tank. Now that’s not only going to kill the efficiency of it itself, it can actually shorten the lifespan of the water heater, too.
TOM: So, to deal with that, you simply drain a couple of gallons of water from the tank about twice a year. Remember, the water is hot, so you need to make sure the water heater is turned off and you need to wear sleeves and googles to protect from burns.
LESLIE: Now, Tom, is it true that if you’ve never done it before – drained the water from the water heater – you shouldn’t just start mid-life of the product? Either you do it from the beginning of owning a water heater or don’t do it at all. Is that true?
TOM: I don’t think so. There’s no pattern to this. It’s just sort of a good practice to take on. So what you want to do to drain it is notice that, first of all, there are two valves on the water heater. Now, there’s a pressure-temperature relief valve. That’s the one that’s up high; it usually has a pipe connected to it. You do not want to touch that, OK? The other one is a drain at the bottom that kind of looks like a hose bib. That’s the one you do want to touch.
So you hook up a hose to that. Run the hose to, say, a bathtub or a sink somewhere, then you can let out a couple of gallons of water. Remember, that water’s going to be hot, so you want to be very, very careful about how you handle it. If you’re concerned, you can actually let the tank sit for an hour or two once it’s been turned off so the water will cool off a bit. And when you’re done, just close the valve by turning it clockwise.
LESLIE: Alright. And another thing you should be doing while you’re working on your water heater and in that room – your utility room – do your lungs a favor and change your furnace filter. I’m sure a lot of you right now are like, “What? My furnace has a filter?” Yes, they do.
Now, your furnace filter is going to be located in the main return grill near the furnace or inside the furnace near the blower. And a clean one can actually keep your house less dirty and improve the indoor air quality, as well. So do yourself a favor: do it.
TOM: Absolutely. And make sure you get the most efficient one possible because, remember, you either use a filter or you become a filter, because you’ll be breathing all that dirty air.
888-666-3974. Let’s get right back to the phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’re going to talk foundations with Randy in Idaho. How can we help you today?
RANDY: Well, I’m – I’ve got a crack in my foundation and I’m wondering if what I want to do is a good idea.
TOM: Alright. What’s your plan?
RANDY: Well, first of all, it’s a crack that’s about an inch, inch-and-a-half wide. It’s right on the corner about, oh, 4 or 5 inches up from the bottom of the – from the floor of the basement.
RANDY: And it’s buried; there’s several feet of dirt above it. And a crack appeared on the floor in the basement and then just dropped down about an inch-and-a-half. And the soil from outside was coming in from the outside and moisture and whatnot.
TOM: This crack is in the basement floor or the basement walls?
RANDY: The wall, in the corner.
TOM: OK. And you said that the crack is an inch-and-a-half wide or it’s an inch-and-a-half long?
RANDY: About an inch to an inch-and-a-half wide.
TOM: Wow, that’s a big crack.
RANDY: And about eight – yeah, about – well, the floor just dropped a little bit.
RANDY: And it’s about 8 inches on either side of the corner.
TOM: OK. So, the crack formed and the floor dropped. Is that correct? Both of those things happened?
TOM: Alright. So, obviously, something got very disturbed under there. I don’t know if it was settlement or whatever it was but it sounds like you lost some soil in there. As a result, you lost the support.
A crack that’s an inch-and-a-half wide is a very large crack. And typically, it’s something that we would recommend you have a professional inspect before you just repair it on your own. But with that as our general advice, what is your plan?
RANDY: Well, I thought that what I’d do is I’d put some BLACK JACK in the very back of it. I dug out as much soil as I could and cleaned it with a toothbrush or a wire brush.
TOM: Right. Well, that’s all – you’re talking about patching the crack; I’m talking about supporting it so it doesn’t get any worse. You can fill it, you know, five different ways. What I’m concerned about is making sure that this instability isn’t going to continue and get worse and affect the structural integrity of the wall. If you’ve got a crack that truly opened up an inch-and-a-half, that is a very big crack. I mean most of the time, people talk to us about hairline cracks or cracks that open a ¼-inch and are very concerned. If you’ve got a crack that’s opened up an inch-and-a-half, that’s a huge crack.
So here’s what I would do. I would have – I would consult with a structural engineer. Have them inspect your house, look at the foundation, look at the crack and then write you a report that gives you step-by-step instructions on what should be done to address this. Either you do the repair yourself or you have an engineer – a contractor – do it; it doesn’t matter to me.
But what’s most important is that you have the structural engineer come back after the repair is done and certify that it was done sufficiently. And the reason you’re going to do that is because eventually, you’re going to want to sell this house. And if you have this repair done under the supervision of an engineer like that, it’s sort of like a pedigree that says all is well. And it will alleviate any fears from a potential home buyer.
RANDY: I see. I see. That’s kind of like a cover yourself kind of thing.
TOM: Absolutely. Yep. And you’re going to do it right and most importantly, since you had the crack form and the floor drop, I’m concerned about what’s going on underneath this. That’s a very unusual set of circumstances and it leads me to conclude that there’s some instability underneath that corner of the foundation.
RANDY: Alright. Well, I think I’ll just start nosing around for one.
TOM: Alright, Randy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Still to come, my favorite thing to talk about: Halloween décor trends. What is hot for the 2015 Halloween season? We’re going to learn all about it from the design experts at The Home Depot, after this.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
And fall, it’s probably my most favorite time of year. Here in the northeast, we enjoy pumpkin-picking and hay rides and of course, Halloween. Just take a look around and you’ll see that this holiday has almost reached Christmas in terms of décor available out there. It’s awesome.
TOM: And one place we like to check for some new, great Halloween decorating is The Home Depot. Here to tell us about Halloween 2015 is Sarah Fishburne. She’s the director of trend and design at The Home Depot.
SARAH: Hi. How are you guys?
TOM: Nice to have you back on our program. How big is Halloween in terms of a decorating holiday?
SARAH: It is getting bigger and bigger and you guys hit on it: it is the second biggest holiday after Christmas. And it’s – this year…
TOM: That’s fantastic.
SARAH: Yeah. It’s going to be 25-percent bigger this year because it does fall on a Saturday.
SARAH: Yeah. So, when it falls on a weekend, it even is bigger.
TOM: Yeah. Because you’ve got parties and all kinds of stuff going on, right?
LESLIE: And it’s perfectly acceptable to start trick-or-treating at 9:00 a.m. I’m just saying.
SARAH: I would agree with that.
TOM: Exactly. So, now, you guys always have a great supply of Halloween décor and this year seems like you’ve outdone yourself. You’ve got a lot of cool, new things that we’re going to see on the store shelves. Tell us about some of the highlights.
SARAH: Yeah. We have more stuff than you’ve ever seen inside our stores. We’ve grown it double the size. All sorts of cool lights that you can do from blood dripping, short-circuit lights that are very cool, the typical orange-and-purple ones. You’ve seen the dual-technology where you can flip from multicolor to single color and we’re bringing that, as well, from holiday into Halloween. So, it’ll go from purple to orange, which is really cool.
But we have all the animation pieces that you would imagine, from big witches to skeletons, from big resin pieces that are like tombstones and gargoyles that are really neat, pop-up coffins. You can pretty much name it and we have it.
TOM: Now, here’s one thing that I saw you’re bringing out, which I think is really cool and is going to be a lot of fun. I want to get it. It’s called the Bluetooth-enabled Tombstone Speaker. So you can play music through the tombstone and then, from your phone, you can, what, like try to scare the trick-or-treaters?
SARAH: Yeah. You can make out all the scary music outside for the trick-or-treaters and it’s so affordable, for $25.
TOM: So can you talk to the trick-or-treaters and like, “Hey, you in the witch costume.”
SARAH: You can. Yeah, you can absolutely prerecord it and have it come across and scare those little trick-or-treaters if that’s what you want to do.
TOM: That’s really funny.
LESLIE: I think it’s so fun. Truly, when I decorate at home for Halloween, it is equal to, if not a larger display, than my holiday Christmas décor. And I think it’s so fun to be able to create a destination for your home. And that’s what you should really think of. You want your home to be enticing and inviting and a little spooky and to get the most trick-or-treaters. I mean that’s what it’s all about.
TOM: So I have two great decorators here I’m talking to. What about inside the house? What would you guys say to do inside the house to kind of make it a little more Halloween-y but not over the top where it’s hard to sort of take down after the holiday passes?
SARAH: Yeah. You can – it’s definitely because it does fall on a weekend. You’re going to see people having parties this year inside, so it’s the perfect time that you do want to decorate some inside, as well. So you can do cobwebs and you can do tabletop pieces, from rats and crows and different items like that that are very fun. You can even put the little candy holders that are the maids – those scary maids – that can hold the candy when you come in the front door. So you can have a lot of fun with it.
TOM: What’s your favorite things to do, Leslie?
LESLIE: I like to do – from a Halloween-decorating standpoint – is I do a base of leaves, pumpkins, garlands that have autumn-y colors. This way, the Halloween décor that’s sort of the second layer to it can be removed and I easily transition into Thanksgiving. Yes, I have Thanksgiving décor. But it’s easy to do that if you sort of keep things as your basis neutral, autumn-y, seasonal. Then add in the spooky Halloween stuff and then you can take it away and be ready for the next holiday.
TOM: So it must be, Sarah, a big, quick turn when Halloween is over and Christmas is right behind it. So you guys must really have to move a lot of materials, a lot of product really quickly when that happens, huh?
SARAH: And we do. And really, the customers are coming in and they are just embracing Halloween and harvest and they just love it. So they kind of come in and start early, end of September, and get ready for the kind of the kick-off of the whole holiday season.
And Leslie really did nail it where you kind of start with Halloween, you go to the harvest pieces and then they quickly, as soon as Thanksgiving happens, the next day they’re kind of right into Christmas. And you’ll see us kind of go through and setting our shelves the same exact way.
TOM: We’re talking to Sarah Fishburne. She’s the director of trend and design for The Home Depot.
So, Sarah, once Halloween wraps up, what are we going to see from Home Depot for Christmas? Can you give us a little tease?
SARAH: Sure. And we are a destination for great holiday and Christmas decorations, from dual-function, multi-function trees that you’ll continue to see; all the LED lights; beautiful, high-end-looking wreaths for unbelievable values; great ornaments from shatter-proof, as well as glass ornaments. So really a one-stop destination when it comes to all Christmas decorations, as well. So, we’re really excited about that.
LESLIE: You guys have to get the Christmas-tree mesh netting in orange so everybody knows, when you’re driving down the street, that’s a Home Depot tree. I’m telling you.
SARAH: Oh, I love that idea. I love that idea.
TOM: Great advice. Sarah Fishburne, Director of Trend and Design for The Home Depot, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
SARAH: Thanks for having me.
TOM: And of course, you can head to your local Home Depot, right now, to start shopping for those Halloween-décor items that Sarah spoke about. And if you’d like to learn more, their website is, of course, HomeDepot.com.
SARAH: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Before you run out and go to The Home Depot and get the scariest, spookiest, new, fun things for your outdoor Halloween décor, maybe you should consider this: have you ever thought maybe, wherever you are in the world, you want to know what’s in your refrigerator? Maybe even just sitting in the bedroom, you want to know what’s in the fridge. Is that snack there? Well, there’s an app for that. We’ve got smart-house technology that’s getting even smarter, after this.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a Glisten Prize Pack.
TOM: Plus, it also includes Glisten Disposer Care. It gets rid of garbage-disposer grunge, buildup and all of that odor. It’s available at lots of retailers and online at GlistenCleaners.com. Going out to one caller drawn at random. That package is worth 50 bucks. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Annette in North Carolina on the line who’s working on a boathouse project. Tell us about it.
ANNETTE: The deck on top of the boathouse – flat roof, has a bladder. I have removed the carpet that was originally on there 10 years. Want to know what I can put back on there, on the bladder, that will do better than carpet.
LESLIE: And this is on the roof, so it’s exposed to the elements 24-7?
ANNETTE: It is a flat roof.
LESLIE: Now, a carpet – exterior carpet – is probably not the best choice, just because it does tend to wear and tear quite quickly, even though you got 10 years out of it.
TOM: Rapidly, yeah. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: You know, it’s probably not the best choice.
Now, Tom, would you consider a composite decking material or can that not really sit directly on top of that bladder, to get that water away?
TOM: Well, actually, what I was thinking was to create a deck-like surface on top of that bladder.
LESLIE: Like a platform.
TOM: Right, a platform where the deck – you really wouldn’t have the traditional floor joists or even 2x4s. You might have a, say, 2×6 on the flat that lays flat on top of that deck. And then the deck boards sort of lay on top of that on – with 16 inches on center. So it’s kind of like just making the top surface of the deck as the wear-and-tear surface on top of that bladder.
Is there some sort of a railing system here, as well, Annette?
ANNETTE: Yes. It’s all railed. Mm-hmm.
TOM: OK. So then I would just create a composite deck that lays flat on top of that.
Now, you can’t just lay the composite decking boards on the bladder; you’ll need some way to keep them together. That’s why I said that what I might do is take a pressure-treated 2×6, lay it on the flat and use that sort of, in essence, as if it was a floor joist that you were attaching these decking boards to. And then lay the decking down on top of that.
Now, there’s also interlocking wood – and I think it’s made out of teak.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I’ve used, actually, teak tiles like that.
TOM: Yeah, there’s teak tiles that interlock, right? Then I know – I’ve seen them; people can put them down on top of patios. I suppose you could probably also put that down on top of the roof as long as it wasn’t too soft. So any type of wood decking surface like that would be a good choice.
LESLIE: And those are interesting: the teak tiles that snap together. Do you have a Christmas tree store near you? You know those stores: it’s not really a holiday store, it’s like …
ANNETTE: No. Lowe’s is the closest to – I’m 18 miles from any town. I’m way out in the woods.
LESLIE: OK. Because there’s several different companies, actually, that sell them online. Locally, for me, I found them at one of those discount home decorating stores. But they’re 12×12 teak tiles that almost look like a parquet tile, like a floor tile? And they’re set on a plastic base and they snap together. And you can also get an edging tile to sort of complete the border and that could sit directly on top of the bladder, because it’s got the little plastic base that creates that platform.
TOM: A good website to take a look at is SwiftDeck. SwiftDeck.com is a company that sells patio deck tiles. They have Ipe tiles. It looks like they also have a composite version. So a couple of options there. Great photos. You can see exactly what this looks like, at SwiftDeck.com.
ANNETTE: Beautiful. Thank you for your help.
TOM: Well, we call them “smart homes” but a better description might be brilliant, because new home technology is bringing an end to annoying hassles that everyone has had to endure from time to time.
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean think about all the energy wasted every single time you open your refrigerator: every time you open it up, look inside – “What am I going to have?” – close it. Well, a new technology has got a great solution. It’s an internal camera that takes a picture of the inside of your fridge every time it’s closed.
TOM: Whether you’re standing in your kitchen or in the frozen-food aisle, you can actually see what’s inside without ever opening the door and letting out all that cold air. Now, this thing even lets you zoom in so you can count how many eggs are left or check out the expiration date on the gallon of milk.
And speaking of expiration, sometime, at the end of the day, there’s just going to be no energy left to turn off the lights or the TV. And now there’s an app that does that for you, as well.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s actually a sensor that fits under your mattress and it gets familiar with your breathing habits. How weird it this? But then, check it out, once it sees that you’re in that slow, sleepy breathing, it will connect your household appliances and shut them down after you are asleep. That’s crazy.
TOM: That’s so awesome.
LESLIE: You say awesome. I’m like, “Ooh, Big Brother-ish but awesome at the same time.” These are really two new advances for the home of the future.
TOM: Cool stuff. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Matt in Wisconsin who’s dealing with a splashy toilet. That is the worst: constantly cleaning a toilet seat. Tell us what’s going on.
MATT: Well, when we flush the toilet, a good portion of air comes up through the trap, forcefully enough to cause the water to splash up onto the seat or the inside of the lid if it’s closed.
TOM: Well, what really causes that, Matt, is a venting problem. Is this a new problem or has it always been this way?
MATT: No, it’s just within the last couple of months.
TOM: OK. So then, what I suspect is that you’ve got a blockage somewhere. If your vent for that toilet is partially blocked, then the drain line is being starved with air. And if it’s starved with air, it’s going to try to gulp that air from somewhere else and that’s what’s causing the bubbles.
TOM: So, what you need to do is try to figure out where that obstruction is. And it’s going to be somewhere in the vent that is connected to the waste line under the toilet, if that helps you narrow it down a bit.
MATT: Yes, it does. Thanks.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, here over at The Money Pit, we like to call fall the Goldilocks season. You know, it’s the time of year when the weather is just right – not too hot, not too cold – which makes it perfect for all of those outdoor home improvements. But one wrong move and do-it-yourself work can quickly go wrong. We’re going to talk you through the top home improvement hazards that you need to avoid, when The Money Pit continues after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, 1 in every 15 American homes has elevated radon levels. Could yours be one of them? Testing for this odorless gas can literally save your life. We’ll teach you how right now. We’ve got a great article on the home page at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, post your question. Let us know what you are working on.
And Justin writes: “My wife and I recently bought a two-bedroom, one-bath ranch house. The 40-gallon water heater is 18 years old and we’re talking about replacing it.”
It’s good that you’re talking about replacing it now because pretty soon, it’s just going to fall apart.
TOM: Pretty wise.
LESLIE: So Justin wants to know: “Would adding a tankless heater for just the two of us save enough money to have one installed? Or should we just go with another 40-gallon tanked heater?”
TOM: I think it’s a good question but I would recommend that you do go with the tankless water heater, even if it comes out flat. It’s going to add to your home value, plus it’s just so much more efficient. And you never, ever run out of hot water because, basically, tankless water heaters heat water on demand.
So, for my money, I think if I had an old, 40-gallon unit, I would definitely toss it and go tankless. It’s just the way of the future.
LESLIE: Yeah. And 18 years, my gosh. I mean you’re lucky that that thing is still working. Make sure you address this sooner than later, because the last thing you want is for something to rust out on the bottom and all the water to end up everywhere and keep ending up everywhere. It could be a huge problem.
TOM: It’ll probably rust out on a Friday as you head out for the weekend and you’ll come home on Sunday night and the water will be dripping out of your front door.
LESLIE: Right. Yeah. The other thing, Justin, to consider is that, in the past, a lot of these tankless water heaters were not being installed properly. They were using the wrong size gas pipe to sort of feed the unit itself. That’s not really happening anymore but make sure you have a plumber that you really trust and check him out or her out. And make sure you get somebody that knows what they’re doing, because you want this done right to be the most efficient.
TOM: Well, we all know the saying “better safe than sorry,” but we don’t always take it to heart. And nowhere is that more true than in home improvement, where injuries are on the rise as more and more consumers try to tackle projects themselves. Leslie has tips to help you suit up for safety, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. Working outside is really a great way that you can combine exercise and results. But it can also lead to injury if you are not dressed for the job. So whether you are raking or building, you have to have sturdy work gloves. They are essential to any outdoor project. Gloves are not only going to give you a better grip but they’re also going to shield your hands from painful blisters, which are very easy to get once you really get into a project.
And even when you are simply mowing your lawn, you want to be sure to wear work boots, long pants, gloves and eye-and-ear protection. Don’t get lazy about it, guys. Even a quick pass with a string trimmer or an edger calls for protecting your eyes and ears. The racket can hurt your hearing and it only takes a stray pebble to permanently damage an eye, if not even lose it. I sound like my mom here: “You’re going to lose an eye.” But we mean it, guys. You have to be careful.
Now, tackling a chore that involves pesticides or other chemicals, you want to wear long pants, long sleeves and rubber gloves to protect your skin. And you want to add a breathing apparatus and safety glasses. You can’t mess around when you’re dealing with chemicals. You can really, really get hurt.
Now, after you’ve suited up but before you get started, take one more prep step. Why not do a little stretching? I find as we all get older – come on guys, we’re all getting older – you do some projects around the house and you’re like, “How did I pull that muscle?” Because you’re not using that muscle all the time, guys.
LESLIE: So, stretch it out; you’re going to cut down on muscle soreness. And if it’s really been a while since you’ve picked up a shovel, a saw or a trimmer, stretch a little more, OK?
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on The Money Pit, take steps today to make next year’s garden your best and brightest yet. We’ll have tips for planting bulbs this fall, 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.)