How to Lay a Brick Walkway, Summer Lawn Survival, Turn Your Garage into a Work Station, 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: Standing by to help you with your home improvement projects. Let us solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. Do you have a project you’re thinking about doing? Wondering if you should do it yourself or get a contractor to help out? Call us because our help is free. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. And we will sort it out together.
Coming up on today’s program, we’ve got some tips on how you can add instant curb appeal and value to your home by building a brick walkway. It’s a project that you can totally do yourself and we’re going to tell you how to get it done.
LESLIE: And it’s really hard to maintain a super-lush, green yard this time of year. I know my lawn has had brown patches throughout the summer. But here’s a thought: you don’t have to. I’m going with that. We’re going to share some tips for summer lawn survival this hour.
TOM: And if your garage is just a place where you park your car, you may be missing out on some valuable workspace. We’re going to have tips on how to make the most of your garage space, coming up.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’ve got a great prize to one lucky caller. We’re giving away a beautiful way to cool off. We’ve got up for grabs a gorgeous ceiling fan and it’s a 52-inch Canfield model from Kichler.
TOM: It’s worth $309, so give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. That ceiling fan is going out to one caller drawn at random at the end of today’s show. And it could be you if you pick up the phone and call us now.
LESLIE: James in Minnesota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JAMES: Bought a house about a year ago and I don’t know how old the water heater is because it was a foreclosure. And I had gone downstairs and took the cover off and turned up a little bit to try to get a little more hot water out of it temperature-wise. And I noticed on the inside that it seems wet, like the fiberglass insulation on the tank? So, I was wondering if that means the tank is going bad or do I need to start saving money to buy a new water heater?
TOM: The water heater is in your basement?
JAMES: Yeah, it’s in my basement. Correct.
TOM: You know, sometimes you get a little condensation inside of that. Does your water stay hot or do you – does it seem to run out quickly?
JAMES: No, it stays hot for a while. It’s just not as hot as I’d like it, so I – it’s cold here now this time of year, so I just went down to dial it up a little and I saw it was wet inside. And I don’t see anything leaking from the bottom.
TOM: OK. Well, generally, when water heaters leak, everybody knows it, OK? It’s not subtle.
JAMES: Yeah, OK. Good.
TOM: Alright? So I doubt it’s leaking badly right now. You may have a bit of condensation in there. However, what you want to keep in mind with electric water heaters, first of all, they’re very expensive to run. And so it’s a good idea to have a timer on them. Secondly, with an electric water heater, there’s two coils, not just one. So, on the outside of your water heater, you should see two panels: one up high and one down low. And each one of those has its own thermostat. And so in order to adjust the temperature, you have to open both of them up and with a screwdriver – an insulated screwdriver – you turn it very carefully until it’s about 110 degrees on both of them.
TOM: And with a 40- or 50-gallon water heater – how many bedrooms – I mean how many bathrooms do you have in the house?
TOM: So, a 40-gallon would be smallish, maybe adequate; 50-gallon would definitely be good.
JAMES: That’s what it is.
TOM: If you’re wondering the age of it, on the label on the water heater, there’s generally a date that’s either written plainly on that or it’s coded into the serial number. So, if you look at the serial number, you look at the date, you may see a date on there and you can figure out how old this is.
JAMES: Oh, OK. Great. Thanks so much (inaudible at 0:04:12).
TOM: You’re welcome, James. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Nicole in Illinois on the line who needs to fix a crack in a wall. And you’re saying it’s from an earthquake? When did you have an earthquake in Illinois?
NICOLE: Well, it was just a really small earthquake. We get them just randomly, about one or two a year.
NICOLE: Because we’re right on – there’s some fault that’s down south of us.
TOM: And now that fault has worked its way up into your wall. So what does it look like? How big of a crack is this that we need to fix?
NICOLE: It’s about an 18-inch crack and then that’s going down from the ceiling. And then it goes like – it goes diagonally up the wall and then hits the ceiling and then just moves horizontally on the ceiling for a couple of inches.
TOM: So it’s 18 inches long altogether?
TOM: How old is the house?
NICOLE: It’s not very old, like ’99.
TOM: OK. So it’s a drywall crack then.
TOM: Many people will simply spackle that but the problem is that if you spackle that crack, the wall is now always going to move – and walls always do move but now that the wall has a crack, the two sides of that are going to move at different rates. And so that crack will reform. The way you stop that from happening is by taping over that crack with drywall tape and then spackling it.
Now, taping with paper drywall tape can be a bit tricky, so there’s a product out that’s a perforated drywall tape that looks like a netting. It’s like a sticky-backed netting. And that type of perforated tape is the best one to use because you put the tape on first and then you spackle over it. You want to do two or three coats, starting with smaller coats and then working wider as you go.
And remember, the thinner the coat the better; I’d rather you put on more coats than put on too much spackle, which too many people tend to do. Then it kind of gets all gooped up and piled up on your wall and you’ll see it forever. So, thin coats – two or three thin coats – and that should do it.
NICOLE: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Nicole. 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. Now you can be part of the home improvement fun. We’d love to give you a hand with your home improvement, home décor, whatever-you-are-working-on question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, a cracked, old walkway can ruin your home’s curb appeal. But a new brick walkway can add value and old-world charm. We’re going to tell you how to lay one yourself, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Bostitch professional-quality, pneumatic nailers and staplers. Designed for productivity, built to last. For more information, visit Bostitch.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Taking your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT and giving away, this hour, a brand-new, gorgeous ceiling fan from Kichler. It’s called the 52-inch Canfield Ceiling Fan. It’s ENERGY STAR-rated and the blades are pitched 14 degrees for maximum air movement. It’s got a pull-chain control, it’s super-quiet, it looks great with any décor and it’s worth $309.
You can see it at Kichler.com. That’s K-i-c-h-l-e-r.com. But pick up the phone and call us right now with your home improvement question and we’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat. And who knows? We could be shipping that ceiling fan to you, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Louis in South Carolina on the line who’s got a driveway question.
LOUIS: I’ve got about a 20-year-old driveway and the gravel apparently didn’t get shook down good.
TOM: OK. OK.
LOUIS: And the rocks are showing through.
LOUIS: And I put some salt on it one time and that didn’t help it.
TOM: No. That made it worse, I’m sure.
LOUIS: And what I need is – I was hoping I could finish it with something that would bond to it rather than just having to redo the whole driveway.
TOM: Yep. OK. So, you can use an epoxy patching compound and trowel that on the driveway. Epoxy is important because epoxy will adhere to the concrete surface.
LOUIS: And where would you get something like that?
TOM: Oh, you can find that at a home center. If you take a look at QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E – QUIKRETE.com, they make that product, as do others.
LOUIS: And I could find a contractor somewhere that could do that?
TOM: Yes, you could or you could do it yourself, depending on your skill level. But essentially, the epoxy is important because it will attach and glue and adhere to the old concrete.
TOM: If you just try to put more concrete on there, it’s not going to work right.
LOUIS: It won’t crack and flake off?
TOM: No. That’s why – it’s designed to stick to old concrete surfaces and not flake off.
LOUIS: Well, I sure appreciate your helping me.
TOM: You’re very welcome, sir. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Ann in Florida needs some help with a flooring project. What can we do for you today?
ANN: I’m going to rip up my carpet. I have concrete underneath and I want to put down the ceramic tile that looks like hardwood. And are you familiar with the product?
LESLIE: I am, very much so. I’ve actually used it on several projects.
ANN: Oh. And my question was, also: should I wait and not do it right away? That they’re going to even have better-looking – the wood look? I was told that it’s supposed to get even better.
LESLIE: I imagine that with all things, when you wait things get better. But wood-grain tile has actually been quite popular for probably four or five years now, so I’ve seen it greatly improve. Depending on how much you want to spend on it – and I’m not sure what manufacturers you’ve looked at but a good price point is a manufacturer called Daltile: D-a-l – tile. And they’re sold through tile stores, so it’s – you can call Daltile and take a look.
And they have one line called Yacht Club, which is fairly new for them. And it’s like a 6-inch by 24-inch wood plank but it’s a ceramic tile. It comes in a couple of different colors. I think it lays really nicely. It has a good texture of wood and it comes in some color palettes that I think are very realistic. And the way it fits together, it looks as if it were a real wood …
TOM: A lot like wood, yeah.
LESLIE: Yeah, like a wood floor. It doesn’t have a big grout line. They have another one in their line called Timber Glen and that’s a really big plank. But the way it pieces together, you see a lot of a grout line, so that kind of looks weird. Not as realistic wood, as you might expect.
So if you do go with a wood-look tile that does have a predominant grout line, I would choose a grout that’s similar in color to the tile.
ANN: Uh-huh. I’ve seen the tile where the tile is like wood planks.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s exactly what this looks like; it looks like wood planks. And I will caution you, though, that you’re talking about – any tile that’s 24 inches long in one direction like this is going to need an extraordinary amount of support underneath it.
So you have to be very careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to prepping the floor before the tile is laid. If there’s any flex or bend or unevenness in that floor, eventually this tile is going to crack. You don’t want that to happen, so you want to make sure that the floor is properly supported to take a bigger – big tile.
When we used to have mosaics years ago, it didn’t really matter if the floors were flexible, so to speak, or not because there was a joint every 1 inch in a mosaic tile. But a 24-inch-long tile, that’s not going to bend; it’s going to break. So you want to make sure the floor is really strong before you do that installation, OK?
ANN: Yes. OK. Great.
TOM: Alright, Ann. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, a brick walkway is a really great project for this time of year. And it’s going to add class and value to your home. And the best news is you can lay it yourself. QUIKRETE, one of the sponsors here at The Money Pit, they’ve got some tips on how to do it.
TOM: That’s right. Now, this is project that’s going to take you a couple of days but it will be worth it.
First, you want to pick bricks that are marked for severe weather. Then plan exactly where you want the walkway. Keep in mind that you want at least 2 feet away from any big trees so the roots are not going to push up the bricks.
Mark out where you want the path, then add about 2 inches to the width. Then you dig. Now, you want to dig down until you see the color of the soil change. Now, keep in mind that you want the walkway to slope away from the house about 1/8-inch per foot. And that should be enough to keep the runoff out of your house and off the walkway so it doesn’t cause icing issues, too.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, once your hole is dug, you can go ahead and pour in a gravel base of rocks and sand and that’s going to help with the drainage. Wet it and then tamp it down. I mean the tamping, I cannot stress this, is the most important part. If you get this right, your walkway will last a very, very, very long time. If you get it wrong, you are going to end up with just a roly-poly, weed-strewn mess and doing the project again.
TOM: That’s right. Now, once the base is set, you simply add a thin layer of sand and then you set the bricks. Now, remember that paver bricks are different than, say, the bricks that you might use to build a chimney or a wall. And the reason they’re different is because they’re exactly twice as long as they are wide, because you don’t need to leave any space for a mortar joint. You simply stack them side by side like you’re putting together the pieces of a puzzle. And once you’re done, you can finish it off with jointing sand.
Now, QUIKRETE makes a product called PowerLoc, which has sort of a polymer in it. Then after the sand is swept into the joints, you wet it down with a hose and then the sand locks the bricks in place because the polymer goes to work.
And once that’s done and it’s dry, once again, you can also add a QUIKRETE Concrete & Masonry Waterproofing Sealer. And that’s going to protect it from salt, grease stains and sun. And it’ll do all of that without changing the appearance, which is important. Because some of those sealers really look yucky when you put it down but the QUIKRETE product does not.
And you can check that out at QUIKRETE.com. That’s Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jan from Iowa on the line who’s dealing with a contractor that didn’t make good on his promises. How can we help you, Jan?
JAN: I can’t get no money from him. He won’t call me or he won’t answer the phone or nothing. I can’t …
TOM: Let’s start at the beginning, Jan. So, tell us what happened.
JAN: Well, I hired him to fix up my sun deck, to shore it up and everything.
JAN: I had to put stairs on it and everything and it was a little loose different places, you know.
JAN: He took the job and I paid for materials as he got them. And then he fixed it and then everything’s crooked on it. He left a jack there underneath there and it’s supposed to be a pool stair.
TOM: So you got a contractor involved to fix your – up your sun deck. He purchased some materials – or you purchased some materials. He started putting some things together and he basically left it half-done and took off and you haven’t seen him since, right?
JAN: Well, no. He says he’s all done and I paid him. And I had the inspector come out and everything was wrong. The steps are crooked. When you walk down them, you almost fall forward and …
TOM: Alright. Now you’ve paid this guy?
TOM: You’ve paid him for the labor?
JAN: Yes. And I bought the parts.
TOM: So you paid him in full. Why did you pay him in full before the job was done?
JAN: Well, I thought he was done. He said he was all done.
TOM: Right. So, at this point, you’re probably going to have to take him to small-claims court. There’s a dispute about the quality of the work here. Unfortunately, it’s going to have to be sorted out that way.
If he took your money and didn’t do any work, then you could charge him with theft. And that’s very effective, by the way, if you ever find yourself in that situation. If a contractor takes your money and just doesn’t do the work, you can actually file a criminal complaint against him and charge him with theft. But since he did some of the work but he didn’t do it well, now it’s a dispute over the quality of the work. And that’s going to have to be sorted out in a civil suit, unfortunately.
JAN: Yeah. But I haven’t got any proof that I gave him money. I gave him cash.
TOM: Let me give you a suggestion. The next time you want to hire somebody, stop hiring the guys that are walking up and down your street. Get online. Use a site like Angie’s List. Find some good-quality people with some reviews and you won’t have the same issues.
Jan, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike in Illinois is on the line. How can we help you today?
MIKE: I have a – the drywall through the center of my house is separating at the seams.
MIKE: And it’s straight through the center of the house, down the hallway through the center of the house. And I’m not sure if it’s due to moisture in the attic, drying out and expanding or if it’s the floor in the house moving.
TOM: Mike, how old is your house?
MIKE: I’d say 20 years old.
TOM: OK. And is this relatively new or has it been around for a while?
MIKE: It’s been there shortly after I moved in.
TOM: Oh, so it’s been there like 20 years.
TOM: Yeah, I think it’s probably shrinkage. When a house is first built, the lumber is very wet and over the first couple of heating seasons, it tends to shrink a lot and you’ll get a lot of movement. Now, over the years, you may have tried to patch it and then you just find that it opens up again. That’s very typical.
TOM: What you want to do to patch it is you need to sand it down where it’s cracking. You need to use new drywall tape on top of that. You can use the perforated tape; it’s easier to work with, in terms of the spackle, because you don’t have to worry about air bubbles behind the paper tape. Use the perforated tape, put about three layers of spackle on there, sand in between, prime, paint; you should be good to go.
MIKE: OK. If I have bathroom vents that are venting out into the attic, would that cause it or would that cure it if I …?
TOM: No, I don’t think – well, first of all, I don’t think it’s caused that but that in and of itself is a problem. You shouldn’t be ducting bathroom exhaust fans into an attic; they should continue through the attic to the exterior.
And the reason for that – you’re in the Chicago area, correct? Pretty cold there. And if you get that insulation damp, it’s not going to be very effective.
MIKE: OK. So, with it venting in there, that’s decreasing my R-value of my insulation, too.
TOM: It is. R-value is rated at 0-percent moisture. So when you add moisture to it, it goes down dramatically. So, the more moisture in the attic, the less effective the insulation becomes.
MIKE: OK. To fix that, would it be alright to add insulation on top of that after I fix that problem?
TOM: Yeah, you can add more insulation but you have to duct from the exhaust fan out of the attic. So, you can do that by going like sort of through the gable wall or up through a roof vent with a proper termination on the end of it so no water gets in there. And just get that warm, moist air out. Don’t leave it in the attic.
MIKE: OK. And I’ve done some research on the internet. I’ve got two bathroom fans. To run them into the one, they said to find a wire or a vent that’ll flip one side to the other so it doesn’t backdraft into the other bathroom. I cannot find that.
TOM: Well, I don’t think you really need that because, for example, if you run it to the gable wall and you have a typical bath-duct terminating type of a hood on it, that’s got a spring on it that stays shut. So it’s only going to open when the air is blowing out.
There’s another way to do this and that is to have a remote bath fan where they actually have the motor part that’s up in the attic space and the ducts just connect to the ceiling of the bathrooms. But that’s a nice system – it’s a quiet system – but it’s much more expensive to do. You see that a lot in hotels.
MIKE: OK. Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, it’s about around this time of year that you see some lawns – and mostly my lawn – go from a velvety green to – you’ve seen it – a haystack brown. And that’s really not a bad thing. Don’t get stressed out about it. We’re going to tell you how to make sure that your lawn survives these dog days of summer, next.
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, Labor Day is just around the corner. Can you believe it? Summer is almost gone.
LESLIE: Back to school.
TOM: Yeah, back to school and also grilling season. It’s time to get grilling once again. So on MoneyPit.com, we’ve got seven grilling mistakes to avoid. Check it out and you’ll have a safe and delicious end to the grilling season.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Ron in South Dakota who is dealing with a bee situation. What’s going on with these busy bees?
RON: So I’m trying to repair my roof on a cinder-block outbuilding. And these bumblebees are all around and I’m having trouble. I’d like to not kill them but I don’t know. Can I do something to make them relocate?
TOM: Yeah, you can. I think what you’re talking about are not bumblebees but carpenter bees.
RON: Oh, yeah. I’m from Memphis, originally, and we had big bumblebees there and one stung me last year and it felt the same way.
TOM: Well, those are carpenter bees and they’ll bite but they don’t – they’re not as bad as getting stung by a wasp or something like that. But what they do is they look for usually the soft trim, like around a porch or a fascia or a soffit. And they’ll drill into that trim, usually from the edge grain, drill up and then they’ll turn 90 degrees and then kind of go with the grain, go in 2 or 3 inches and nest. And that’s where they’ll actually nest.
So, to get rid of them, a couple of things you can do. Of course, you can have a pest-control pro come out and they can put a powder insecticide in and around where those carpenter bees are and that will take care of the problem.
The second thing you can do is you can actually eliminate some of the wood and replace it with composite. So, for example, on my garage, I had pine fascia board behind the gutters. Started to get a big carpenter-bee problem with them, so – and actually, it had done quite a bit of damage because they didn’t get to it for a while. So I pulled the pine fascia down and I replaced it with AZEK – A-Z-E-K – which is extruded PVC. Looks like wood, cuts like wood, doesn’t taste like wood to the carpenter bees. And so they left it alone after that because there was nothing left to eat.
And so I think you need to figure out where they’re nesting. They’re going to be drilling in somewhere and the thing is, if you get close to where they’re drilling, you can hear them; they make noise. They kind of make a grinding noise into your porch deck or …
RON: Yeah, I think my wife heard that.
TOM: Yeah, she probably did. So I think that you’ve got a carpenter-bee problem and you can either have them treated or get rid of some of the food source, one way or the other.
RON: OK. They’re going in a small 1×3 opening in the cinder block. There’s not that much wood right there but I’m sure they’re getting into the eave. If you’re …
TOM: Yeah. I think they may be going in and out of that but there’s probably some wood somewhere in that path that they’re traveling, Ron, OK?
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Laurie in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LAURIE: I am trying to put a freestanding deck in my backyard. And my backyard has blackberry bushes in it, so I have to get rid of the blackberry bushes first.
LAURIE: And I don’t want them to grow back up through the deck.
LAURIE: So how could I do that?
TOM: Well, they’re probably not going to grow through the deck because the deck is going to block all sunlight to it. That said, as you prep the soil, what you’re going to want to do is – obviously, you have to build footings for this, right? So you build the footings and then you take off whatever the top surface is there, if there’s grass, whatever. And then you lay down weed block – which is sort of this black, burlap-y kind of fabric. And you lay that down underneath the deck and then you can go ahead and frame over that.
What you might end up doing is do the framing and then kind of lay the fabric down at the very last minute because, frankly, it’s kind of hard to walk on it while you’re framing this deck. So you might end up even putting the floor joists down, then lay the fabric under it, then finish it off. And that’ll help slow down anything that wants to come up right away.
But I think that once this deck is built, it’s going to be so dark under there that you’re not going to have problems with the blackberry bushes coming up through the deck. It certainly would come around it but not through it.
LAURIE: OK. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Laurie. Good luck with that project. 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, don’t let your garage be just a place to leave your car. We’re going to tell you how to trick it out, 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 here is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one of you lucky callers will be chosen at random today and you’re going to get a really, really beautiful ceiling fan. It’s a Canfield model from Kichler. It’s got a gorgeous, brushed-nickel finish and the five blades come in different wood finishes, so it’s going to work well with any décor. It’s got three speeds, plus the reverse option, which is great because we’re always telling you here at The Money Pit you need to reverse your fans in the cooler months. This way, you can take best advantage of the heating and really save some energy dollars.
You’ve got to see it. It’s very pretty. You’re going to take one look and be like, “Well, I have a home improvement question.” Check it out at Kichler – K-i-c-h-l-e-r – .com.
TOM: It’s worth $309, so give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.
LESLIE: Jody in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JODY: Actually, I have a big enough house where I have three furnaces. And the condensation that comes off the heat exchanger – sometimes the tube will get plugged without anyone knowing. And it’ll overflow the pan; then you’ve ruined ceilings and what-have-you in my house and stuff.
JODY: And I wanted to know if there’s – I read this article in one of the magazines about woodwork and stuff and helping people with doing things around the house, where they would have tablets you could put in the pan and you would never have that fungus growing that’ll plug up your tubes.
TOM: OK. So what’s clogging up the tube, in this case, is algae. Is that correct?
TOM: One of the things that you can think about doing is to apply a product called Wet & Forget, which is generally used to keep algae from growing off sidewalks.
JODY: Yes. Uh-huh.
TOM: But when that pan is dry, I would suggest that you try to spray it down with Wet & Forget. And that prevents algae from growing, on contact. So that’s not a bad idea to give that a shot.
JODY: So I’ll try that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer but the only time you’re actually seeing your garage is when you’re getting in or out of your car, you are missing a prime opportunity. We’ve got some tips here on how you can make the most out of this space and it’s presented by Chamberlain Garage Power Stations.
TOM: Well, first, you probably still need the space for your car, so think up and think fold-up. One great tip is to build a fold-down work table. You just attach the table to a wall with a couple of hinges. You lay it flat against the wall when you’re not in use. And then take advantage of that wall space to hang tools and equipment. It not only saves space but it’s safer. For things that can’t hang on their own, you can put shelves or cabinets up near the ceiling.
LESLIE: You also want to be careful with your storage. Now, garages are interesting because you’ve got playthings and you’ve got poisons and those together are a bad combination. So you want to be sure to store those dangerous chemicals out of the reach of your children or better yet, just place them on their own in a locked cabinet.
Also, you want to be sure to keep your chemicals in their original container with the labels in really good condition. You never want to purchase chemicals in quantities more than you’re going to use in a reasonable period of time. And while it might make sense to buy a case of canned vegetables at the local supermarket warehouse, having to store leftovers from a six-pack of ant poison, not the same. It’s just not worth the risk.
TOM: Good advice. And for the ultimate garage, check out Chamberlain’s Power Station. It attaches to the ceiling and it provides on-demand air, power and lighting, with an inflator. It also has an LED task light and a utility cord. It’s got a docking ball so it’ll move anywhere you want it to in your garage. It’s great because all the cords are retractable, too.
Check it out at Chamberlain.com and the Chamberlain 3-in-12 Power Station is sold exclusively at The Home Depot.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to Louisiana with Lois who’s dealing with a grout issue in the bath. Tell us what’s going on.
LOIS: After talking to the people that sold me the grout, on the second complaint they finally acknowledged that there was something wrong with the grout, so now I’ve got it turning white. And it’s a mocha-brown kind of color in the bottom of my shower and I guess the only way to resolve it is to clean it out but how do I do that?
TOM: So how do you remove grout that’s already installed? Is that correct? So this is grout that’s in the wall?
LOIS: Floor of the shower.
TOM: Oh, the floor of the shower. And so the grout’s the wrong color. And it’s a darker color than you want?
LOIS: No, it’s changed color because they didn’t – they sold me – there was a problem, apparently, from the factory with the grout.
LOIS: And of course, I didn’t find out about it until after the fact. Now it’s turning white.
TOM: Right. Alright. So listen. What you might want to think about doing – only because if this doesn’t work, you have to take the grout out anyway – is you might want to think about applying a grout dye. Grout dye is available; it’s kind of like a stain for grout and it changes the color of the grout. It goes from – it can make grout that’s lighter go darker. It doesn’t work the other way around, of course. So I would give that a try first because, really, you’ve got nothing to lose.
Now, if that doesn’t work, you’ve got to take the grout out.
TOM: To take the grout out, there are a number of tools on the market that can help you do that, that come into the category of grout saws. There is a type of saw that fits into the end of a reciprocating saw that enables you to cut through grout. There is a grout saw that works in a Dremel that enables you to take grout out. But you have to grind the old grout out and then regrout the tiles. It’s a big job; don’t get me wrong. It’s not easy but it can be done. That’s why I suggest you try a grout dye first.
You can take a look online at The Home Depot. They sell a product that’s called Grout Renew and it’s made by Polyblend which is, I believe, one of the grout manufacturers. And so they have a product – they have several different colors and they’re designed to stain and seal the grout in one application. So like I said, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying this out.
There’s also a website that just sells grout dye, called GroutDye.com.
LOIS: Alright, sir. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re welcoming Tim from Illinois to The Money Pit with a water-heating question. What’s going on?
TIM: Oh, I have a nine-year-old water tank and I’m trying to get the rod that collects all the minerals out and it didn’t want to come, so I was afraid to have busted some pipes. So I was curious, should I just – should leave it alone? And with it being nine years old, it’s almost at the end of its life as far as the water tank. Because I understand that water tanks are usually from 8 to 12 years for a replacement?
TOM: Yeah. So you’re – you’ve been trying to replace the anode and having a hard time getting it out, correct?
TIM: Yeah. I think it’s rusted-in or I …
TOM: Sometimes, you have to put – get a little leverage on the wrench to do that. And once you get the wrench on the anode, sometimes you have to kind of extend that wrench handle to really get that out. It’s a bit of a tricky job. But considering the age of the tank, I probably wouldn’t spend much money on it because I think you’re right: 10, 12 years is a pretty average life expectancy for a standard water heater.
And when it comes time to replace the water heater, you might even decide to upgrade it and go with a tankless water heater, which is going to last you a lot longer and be far more efficient.
TIM: And that might be a good choice for me because I’m single and no one else lives in the household and I’m gone most of the time.
TOM: Yeah, well, that’s the difference between a tankless water heater and a standard water heater: the water heater is kind of dumb. It just – it heats the water 24-7 whether you need it or not and when the water cools down, it comes back on and heats it some more.
A tankless water heater is going to heat on demand. And so because that’s going to be a lot more efficient for a single guy – but even a big family with teenage daughters, for example, that don’t know the meaning of a short shower, they never run out of hot water when they have tankless. Could just – works very well in both extremes.
TIM: So how much is something like – cost for installation and so forth?
TOM: Well, if you compare it against a high-efficiency, tanked water heater, it’s similar. But if you compare it against a standard, sort of low-efficiency, it’s probably going to be about twice as much. But it will last longer, too, and you’re going to save money on the energy bills, too.
TIM: I thank you for your time. And I love your show and your advice is well worth listening to.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, is your kitchen a bit dull? We’ll have tips to step it up, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain Garage Power Station, an air inflator, utility cord, and LED task light all together in a new, 3-in-1 tool. Exclusively at The Home Depot.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, it’s hard to think about colder temperatures during these dog days of summer but it’s never too early to start thinking about prepping your house for winter. MoneyPit.com has great tips on the right way to insulate your heating pipes so you don’t end up with a house full of water when the temperatures start falling.
LESLIE: That’s right. And while you’re snooping around MoneyPit.com, head on over to the Community section and post a question there, like Blake in Tennessee did. And he writes: “Part of my front porch never gets sun. Moss and mold are growing on my wood railings. How do I get rid of it and is there a way to prevent it from coming back?”
TOM: There is a product called Wet & Forget, designed specifically for this situation. It’s a concentrate. You mix it up with water, you apply it to the porch railings, you apply it to the porch floor and you walk away and just forget about it for a while. And it goes to work slowly but surely, eliminating all of the mold, the mildew and the algae that gets on that surface. You may have to repeat it every few months but it’s very, very effective and very easy to do.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Kathy in New Jersey who writes: “I’ve heard you guys talk about a caulk softener when removing caulk in a bathroom. I’d love to do this to make my bathtub look sparkly and new. How does it work and where do I get it?”
TOM: Well, it’s kind of like the way a paint remover works where it softens the old paint. A caulk softener is designed to soften out that old, cruddy, grimy caulk that gets around your bathtub lip. And you can purchase it at a home center or a painting store has these, as well. You apply it, you let it sit and then you can scrape away the old caulk. It’ll come off a lot easier that way.
And a little trick of the trade: when you recaulk the tub, fill it up with water first and then caulk it and then let the water out. It’ll compress that caulk and it won’t pull out the next time.
LESLIE: Yeah, you’ve got to mimic the human body in the tub.
TOM: Well, have you ever dreamed of remodeling your kitchen into a dream kitchen? If so, Leslie has got tips this hour on how you can get a great look for a small budget, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, one of my design mantras has always been “make it your own.” So what not use vinyl wallpaper for your backsplash in your kitchen? The cool part is you can scrub it. It’s going to stand up to heat and humidity and really, the best part of all is today’s vinyl wall coverings are gorgeous. I mean you can really get some amazing patterns, some interesting textures, some great colors. It doesn’t have to look like what you think vinyl wallpaper looks like in your mind. If you do some research and go to some great resources online or at your local design centers, you’re going to find a design that can complement your counter, your cabinets. Really, think creatively here and you can do something pretty standout.
Now, vinyl wallpaper itself, it’s not that easy to cut. So you’re going to need a bunch of mat knives, ones that have got the blade that you can snap off or a replaceable blade. Because what’s going to happen is you’re only going to get a couple of good cuts and then they’re going to dull. So you’re going to want to switch them out.
Now, when you’re installing it, if you’ve got drywall, you’re going to want to use a wallpaper adhesive. And then what you would do is when you’re cutting the strips that are going to sort of sit in that backsplash area, you can cut it a bit longer with sort of a ½-inch overlay. This way, when you’re trying to match up your seams, you can sort of slide this panel over the panel that you’ve put up first to sort of make things match up. The only thing here is that when you’re putting the vinyl over the vinyl, the wallpaper adhesive isn’t going to do the job of sticking there. So you’re going to need something that’s specifically made for vinyl-to-vinyl. And you can find that at any sort of wallpaper resource.
Now, if you go for something a little bit crazy – which I think you can if you want to get super-creative. The only downside is if you plan on selling, a potential buyer might be like, “What were you thinking?” And in their minds, they may think it would be difficult to take down. So you might have to do that legwork if you go to put the house on the market. But if you’re living in your house for a while, live it up, be creative and go a little crazy with a vinyl backsplash.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next on the program, you can get clean drinking water right out of your faucet, without the cost of high-priced bottled water, if you install an under-sink filter. We’re going to tell you how to tackle that project, 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 2013 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.)