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Keep Home Furnishings from From Fading in the Sun, Fixing Smelly Water and Tips to Get Your Grill Ready, and more

  • Transcript

    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 questions, so help yourself first. Pick up the phone and call us, on this beautiful spring day, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We’ve got a great show planned for you.

    First up, do you have areas around your house that are just ridiculously difficult to clean? Well, make your list because we’ve got the solutions, coming up.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, outdoor kitchens are all the rage right now. We’ve got tips on how you can cook up the perfect kitchen for your outdoor living space.

    TOM: Plus, millions of Americans will put their house on the market this spring but most of them won’t even think about moving until after their house sells, which could be too late to make a smart decision. We’ll have tips to save time, hassle and cash, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, we’re giving away the Orbit WiFi Sprinkler Timer. This is available at The Home Depot and will automatically adjust watering for you each month based on what your landscape needs. And that’s going to save you water and money.

    TOM: It’s worth $99 but going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Renee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    RENEE: My question is concerning my sump pump. Obviously, a sump pump in the basement. And for a long time – for several months, I had not heard the sump pump going off. A few weeks – a few months ago, when it was raining very hard, I went down to the basement to see why the sump pump wasn’t kicking on. And the well was filled with water. So I went ahead and I drained the water out by bucketing – taking buckets of this, pouring buckets of water out until I got down to see where the ball was. And it still wouldn’t come on. So I tapped the ball and eventually, when the water rose, it did kick on again.

    But then now I’m hearing this gurgling sound in my kitchen-sink piping. And I want to know why.

    TOM: Where is the sump pump discharging? Is it discharging into this basement sink?

    RENEE: The sump pump discharges – it’s connected to the outside sewer line. And that’s – I guess that sewer – the line is connected to the basement – the kitchen sink.

    TOM: OK. So first of all, it has to go through a trap. If it doesn’t go through a trap, you may get sewage gas that comes back into the basement. So that’s the first thing.

    Secondly, the gurgling might just – because it doesn’t have enough water in the sump itself. You’re probably pulling a lot of air in there.

    And thirdly, because your sump pump was filling up when you had heavy rain, the source of that water is easily within your ability to repair and stop. Generally, when your sump pump fills up after heavy rain, it’s because your gutters are clogged or overflowing or your downspouts are not discharging away from the foundation. Or the soil around your house is not sloping away from the outside walls. That’s what causes problems with water filling up in basements and floods in a sort – because that outside surface drainage is just not set up right.

    So I would focus on improving your exterior drainage. There’s a great article on MoneyPit.com about how to solve wet basements. A lot of that advice applies to this. And then you’ll find that the sump pump will have to run that much less.

    RENEE: OK. That’s great news.

    TOM: Renee, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Wilson in North Carolina is on the line dealing with a funky smell coming out of the sink. What’s going on?

    WILSON: Yes. I have a water-smelling problem. I’ve got well water. And we’ve got a lot – strong smelling. It’s like rotting eggs, especially in the hot water. We changed the water heater. Still, it smells. Do I need to change the – also the plumbing, all the pipe in the house or just flush it? If I need to flush, what kind of cleaners do I need to use?

    TOM: So you’ve replaced your water heater and you’re still having this smell of sulfur. So that eliminates one possibility, which is the anode rod. Sometimes, if the anode rod becomes worn out inside the water heater, you will get a sulfur smell.

    I think the next best thing for you to do, Wilson, is to add a charcoal filter to the system. But I don’t want you to add it at the faucet. I want you to add it where the main water valve comes into the house. This is a good opportunity for a whole-house water filter. And if your water’s not been tested, I would also have it tested at the same time, just to make sure that there are not any additional contaminants in that water aside from that sulfur odor.

    Wilson, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call. We’d love to help you out with whatever it is you are working on at your money pit. Plus, everybody is gearing up for the Memorial Day holiday. So, what do you need to get your house done to make it in tip-top shape for the big barbecue, big party? Or maybe you just want it to be beautiful for the summer. We can lend a hand at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you have stuff around the house that just gets dirtier and dirtier, probably because it’s just so hard to clean? We’ve got cleaning advice on several hard-to-clean projects that will make your life so much easier.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a fantastic spring prize. It’s the Orbit b-hyve WiFi Irrigation Controller.

    This is an amazing device. It automatically adjusts watering for you each month based on what your landscape actually needs. And of course, that’s going to save you water and money. It’s easy to use. It comes with a mobile app that works on WiFi with Android and iOS devices. You’ll find it at The Home Depot or HomeDepot.com.

    It’s worth 99 bucks but today, it’s going out for free to one lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Paula in Missouri is on the line and wants to get a heated floor in her home. How can we help you?

    PAULA: We have an old farmhouse, which is over 160, 170 years old. And the only floor that – downstairs that is over a cellar is the kitchen floor. And if you go down in the cellar and look up, you see chunks of trees on which is wooden floor. And then if you go up to the kitchen, there’s some kind of linoleum tile on top of that. And I’m wondering if it’s possible to heat the floor before putting on new tile or …

    TOM: Well, it’s certainly possible to insulate the floor, for one thing. And a good option for this type of floor might be spray-foam insulation because it sounds like it’s sort of a non-traditionally framed floor. Spray foam can fill in all those nooks and crannies, stop drafts from coming up from the basement and give you a really warm surface.

    In terms of putting, say, a radiant-heat product down, you absolutely can do that. You have to have a nice, flat smooth surface. But there are radiant-floor products that are designed to go under tile, for example, that are low-voltage and they’re surprisingly affordable to run, especially if you run them on a timer so that they’re not on all the time. And that can make that floor a lot more comfortable.

    So I think the solution, Paula, is a combination of insulation and radiant heat, not just radiant heat itself. Because if you don’t insulate it, it has to work that much harder to warm the floor up.

    PAULA: OK. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Paula. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Heading to Arkansas where Fred is on the line with a mold question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    FRED: (inaudible at 0:08:31) to do some work on my house. And he went to open it up to start doing it and since the last time I’d been underneath the sink, it had grown a large bunch of black mold underneath there. He needed to do some work in the utility room and same black mold out there. I got a mold-abatement company to come in and give me an estimate on it and I almost fell backwards there.

    TOM: What did they want to charge you and what did they say they were going to do, Fred?

    FRED: They would come down, tear out all of the affected areas and charge it off. And I would be responsible for having it put back in.

    TOM: And how much were they going to charge you for that privilege?

    FRED: Between 2,000 and 4,000. 

    TOM: Wow. That’s very nice. Yeah. OK, so we have this mold in two areas, right? We have it inside the kitchen cabinet? Is that correct? With the sink cabinet?

    FRED: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. And how much mold would you say is there if I were to ask you for sort of in square-footage? Is it like 2 square feet, 3 square feet, more than that? What do you think?

    FRED: Probably 5 or 6 square feet.

    TOM: So it’s quite a bit?

    FRED: No, it’s not that much. It’s just there’s a lot of area under there.

    TOM: Is it like growing on the walls of the cabinet?

    FRED: Yeah.

    TOM: OK. And then you said there was a utility room? How much mold is in that area?

    FRED: It’s completely covered out there. My water heater blew out the other day and I couldn’t get at it right away. And between the time I got it replaced, there was mold growing there, too.

    TOM: Now, was that outside the house or inside the house?

    FRED: It’s off the carport outside.

    TOM: It’s off the carport outside. So that’s less of a concern because it’s more exposed to the exterior. It’s like an outside closet, correct?

    FRED: Yeah.

    TOM: So, the New York Department of Health – New York State Department of Health – has some really good guidelines on sort of do-it-yourself mold control. And they generally recommend that if it’s less than 10 square feet, you can do it yourself.

    If this cabinet – the sink cabinet – is not structurally damaged, you could treat the affected mold with simply a bleach-and-water solution. I would use a fairly heavy bleach-and-water solution. Maybe at least 25-percent bleach if not 50-percent bleach. You’re going to have to have proper eye protection, proper respiratory protection while you spray it and gloves and all that kind of stuff.

    And you’ve basically got to spray it on there thoroughly and just let it sit so it kills the mold spores. And then you can clean it up again with all of that proper respiratory protection and good ventilation, too, in case any of those mold spores get stuck to – get distributed to the air. What I like to do is open all the windows in the house, put some fans on so we depressurize the rooms and then go ahead and clean it.

    But if it’s a small amount like that, there are guidelines online that you can follow to do it yourself. But that’s essentially it. You spray the mold to kill it and then you clean it from there. And the reason it happened is because you have a cold, damp, enclosed space like that. And if you try to make sure that you check it once in a while so it doesn’t leak, it doesn’t become stagnant like that, it probably won’t come back.

    FRED: So I guess I’m asking someone else to do that because I’m a disabled vet and I’m on oxygen already but …

    TOM: Well, now, yeah. So, OK, I’m glad you mentioned that. Because if you have respiratory issues, then it’s more important that you’re very, very careful not to distribute that to the house. So I would have somebody experienced do it but I don’t necessarily feel like this contractor’s approach of tear it all out is necessarily the right way. Because in my view, that’s going to even cause more disruption than if you were just to clean it.

    FRED: Now, that’s what I figured. But some of these guys are in business to make a lot of money off of …

    TOM: Yeah, I know. And they panic-peddle, too. They see mold, they try to get you all freaked out about it. And yeah, it’s an issue but it’s fixable, alright?

    Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and thank you so much for your service, sir.

    Well, it’s time now for this week’s Cleaning Tip, presented by The Home Depot. And this week, we’ve got advice on cleaning hard-to-clean things.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Like between the glass on your oven door. Don’t you just hate it when drips get stuck inside? I mean it’s super gross. And you might think it’s a lost cause but actually, if you remove the drawer from under your oven and look under that oven door, you’re going to see spaces that will allow you to reach between the glass. All you’ve got to do is get a wire hanger or one of those skinny cleaning brushes and a cleaning solution and you are good to go.

    TOM: Yep. And how about kid toys? Those things are a total germ factory. But all you need is a mesh laundry bag. Run the toys through a warm-water cycle with some bleach and they are instantly sanitized.

    LESLIE: And finally, if your morning shower has lost some of its vigor, you might have mineral deposits clogging your showerhead. And that’s a simple fix. All you’ve got to do is pour some vinegar – and I’m talking about white vinegar, not salad dressing, guys – white vinegar into a plastic bag and then use a rubber band to secure that plastic bag around to the showerhead. And let it sit overnight in the vinegar. By morning, all of those mineral deposits will have dissolved away.

    TOM: And that’s this week’s Cleaning Tip, presented by The Home Depot. For your cleaning needs and more, check out the HDX Brand of The Home Depot for products like HDX Lavender All-Purpose Cleaner. The no-bleach formula cleans, removes stains and has a long-lasting lavender fragrance. Check out the HDX Lavender All-Purpose Cleaner and the entire HDX cleaning line, exclusively at The Home Depot and HomeDepot.com.

    LESLIE: Mary in Florida is looking to make her kitchen bigger by taking away from her deck. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    MARY: Well, I have a fairly small kitchen/dining-room area and I was wanting to expand it. We have a patio deck that’s probably about 30×10 feet that’s directly attached to it. There’s glass sliding doors that’s attached to it. We were wanting to find some way that we could enclose that and make that more of an off-season-type area, as opposed to a couple weeks out of the year. We didn’t know if you had any suggestions, ideas?

    TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, Mary, you can’t take your deck and then sort of put four walls on it and a roof and call it an addition, because decks are not designed for that. They’re not really part of the foundation of the home. And I’ve seen a lot of folks do exactly that and ultimately, it catches up with you. Usually, if you try to sell the house or something of that nature, it doesn’t meet the code requirements. It’s just generally a bad idea.

    What you could do for that space, to make it more of a year-round use, might be to consider adding some heating or something of that nature. But it’s always going to be an outdoor space. You can’t take an outdoor deck and turn it into an indoor space. That’s an addition and you can’t just put a door and some walls and a roof and some screening or whatever you’re planning and call that now like an extension of your kitchen. Because it just doesn’t count, OK?

    Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jerry in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JERRY: We have an all-seasons sunroom. Love the sunroom. It’s a nice size: 12×20. It has a metal roof on it but four panels. We’ve had a leak between the panels, probably for a couple of years now. We’ve tried – had several people look and do (inaudible at 0:15:47) things with it.

    The person we bought it from – the company we bought it from – has since gone out of business. And so, we’ve called another dealer – an installer – in Nashville. And so what he suggested to us is that they coat the entire roof with a rubber coating. He said that that has been successful in the past. He said, “If you want to, you could put shingles on top of it.”

    TOM: That seems like a really dumb idea.

    JERRY: So, this is something you don’t recommend?

    TOM: Well, the thing is, for as long as we’ve had metal roofs, there have been roofers that want to coat them with rubber or coat them with tar or something. You know, in the old days, when you had real metal roofs, they would last forever, pretty much. And if they developed any leaks, you’d basically take them apart and reassemble them and fix it. But at some point, a roofer shows up on site and covers that thing with tar or rubber or something and that marks the beginning of the end for the roof. Because water still finds its way underneath and now it starts to rust away the material.

    If you’re convinced that this is in the seam, it seems to me that it shouldn’t be terribly complicated to figure out which seam is causing the leak. What I would try to do is I would try to disassemble some of the roof, if anything. Because, obviously, it had to be put together. And so I would try to disassemble some of those panels so that I could get a good layer of sealant – some good-quality silicone is probably what I would use – in between those seams where they’re leaking. I would also get the hardware. Because sometimes the bolts and the screws that put those together have a rubber sort of washer underneath and that can break down. And I would seal those with silicone.

    But I would go up and seal all those seams with silicone way before I would think about just slapping some tar on it and putting some shingles over top. I just think that’s kind of a waste.

    JERRY: Yeah, we – of course, we are so frustrated. We’ve been dealing with this for several years now. We’ve had several people who were not roofers or sun people – sunroom people – look at it and it’s just not been successful.

    TOM: Yeah. The thing is, you can figure out, strategically, Jerry, where exactly the leak is if you go up there with a hose and just start at one end and very slowly drag it across the roof until you create the leak. You can get a pretty good idea of where the weak spot is and kind of narrow down your attack from there.

    JERRY: Our problem is that it doesn’t leak in just a normal rain. It’s when you get a really heavy rain.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. I hear you. Well, again, same thing. I might see if I could – I might try it with a hose to see if I can figure out where it’s leaking, maybe even spray water up into it. But the thing is, those seams are all repairable, OK? They’re all sealable. They went down once; they can go down again. I would definitely not go right to the point where I’m covering that whole thing up. OK?

    JERRY: OK. Hey, listen, Tom and Leslie, we thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Jerry. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Up next, have you dreamed of having your very own outdoor kitchen? Well, it’s not as hard as it may seem. Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House is here and he’s going to share his tips to help you build your very own, next.

    NORM: I’m Norm Abram from This Old House. Need a little help making your old house look like the ones we make-over on TV? Call Tom and Leslie, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    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: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tim in Rhode Island, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    TIM: Purchased a house approximately five years ago. And they had recently replaced the outside shingles around the entire house and it looked very pretty. In a couple years, it’s turned gray and so I took a power washer and I stripped it all down and it looked very pretty again. And last year, I ended up doing the same thing again but I – if I keep doing this, it’s probably going to end up with no shingles on the house at all.

    So, (audio gap) I’m wondering is, do you have any recommendations on what I might or might not treat it with? I thought of Thompson’s WaterSeal or something like that and then I said that – reverberations came from this one and that one – “Don’t seal cedar shakes.” And I said, “Well, I don’t know what to do.”

    TOM: Here’s the deal. So, you put the cedar on, it looks great and then it oxidizes and turns gray. Now, if you use red cedar, it will turn like a dark, kind of yucky gray, which people don’t like. If you use white cedar, then it kind of turns to that sort of pleasant, almost New England-looking gray, which people love.

    If you’ve got red cedar shingles, what you have to do is stain them. There’s nothing wrong with this. I mean I’ve got a house that’s got red cedar shingles. And the way we stain them enabled the stain to last over 20 years, which is virtually unheard of. But here’s what you do. What you do is you prime them first with an oil-based primer and then you apply a solid-color stain on top of that.

    Now, stain comes in solid-color and semi-transparent. Solid-color has more pigment in it and lasts the longest. And if you do it in that way – if you prime it first, then put the solid-color stain – you’ll get, easily, 15, 20 years of life out of that siding.

    Now, the solid-color stain doesn’t look like paint. It’s not coated. You’ll still see the wood grain sort of showing through but it really looks nice and you’re not going to have to deal with this. You’re right: if you keep pressure-washing these, you’re basically taking years off the life of this, because cedar is really soft. And if you keep stripping off that outside layer, you’re not going to have a lot left.

    So, I would let them get good and dry. I would have it primed and then stained on top of that. It can be done all by brush or by roller. You put a lot of material on it. The last time we had our house done was actually about a year ago now. And it was all applied by roller and brush and it looks fantastic. And the time before that was literally 20 years ago, so that’s how long it lasted.

    TIM: That helps me a lot. I really appreciate your advice.

    TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, outdoor living spaces have never been more popular and that includes outdoor kitchens.

    TOM: Ah, yes. But cooking and dining outside require some special recipes of their own. Here with tips for designing an outdoor kitchen is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Hey, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hey, guys. Glad to be back in the money pit.

    TOM: Yes. And let’s get into the kitchen. Actually, let’s get out to the kitchen.

    Designing an outdoor kitchen is a bit different than designing an indoor space, right?

    RICHARD: Yeah. The kitchen – the indoor kitchen seems like there’s never enough counter space, there’s never enough place for cabinets and everything else. The outdoor, you’re limited to your acreage. Yeah, so…

    LESLIE: And accessibility to all of your fuel sources and water sources. That’s a big to-do.

    RICHARD: Right, right, right. But you start with sort of locations. “So, OK. Where am I going to put it?” And now you want to say, “Alright. Now, how do I get water and waste out there for a sink if I’m even going to have a sink?”

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: “How do I get fuel out there?” So that means that a lot of times, at least, it abuts the house or it’s attached to the house.

    Then you’ve got to think about how it’s going to be used socially. So if you – yeah, you want to find a – boy, then you can have space where if you have a smoker or something like that, you don’t want the smoke blowing into people’s eyes and stuff like that. So you have to think about prevailing breeze. You have to get your …

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: Invariably, if you’re the host, you’re going to be making that trek to the real kitchen inside the house, back and forth and back and forth. So I think if you add up all of those very practical considerations, the kitchen will kind of self-locate.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. There’s four things you’ve got to get out there: water, as I mentioned – water; waste; a fuel for cooking, if you want gas; and electricity is always important to get out there for lighting and for all the appliances. Everybody needs to charge their phone, too, even when they’re outside.

    TOM: Of course.

    LESLIE: And I like the idea of having a refrigerator outside if you’re barbecuing.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    LESLIE: This way you can keep, I don’t know, sauces, salads, things ready to go on the grill.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah.

    TOM: Beer.

    LESLIE: Beer. So say that.

    RICHARD: Yeah. So, the outdoor kitchen is not an important thing for me, particularly, since we live here in New England where we had 180 inches of snow last year.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: So it’s a short-lived room.

    TOM: Right. But for many people, they do really enjoy that outdoor space.

    RICHARD: They do.

    TOM: And it’s a step up, too.

    So you mentioned water. Now, we obviously need to be able to get water out there in the warmer weather. But we need to be able to drain that pipe in the cooler weather. How do you position the plumbing so that becomes, you know, something you can do yourself, as opposed to having to sort of blow it out like you might a sprinkler system?

    RICHARD: It requires just a little bit of thought and find a way where the hot and the cold come and – from a point where at the lowest point inside the house there are two drains so we can drain water out. Or it can be outside the house. But you have to find a way that – without any major worries. You can simply get the water out of the pipes so you’re not – every year, you’re not having to replace the pipes.

    TOM: So it could pitch backwards into the house as long as it drains at the bottom or it could pitch downward towards the sink itself.

    RICHARD: Correct. Right, right, right. Correct.

    Now, the other thing is every fixture, if you’re going to make it legally plumbed, if it goes back into the house, it should be – it has to have a trap. And so the trap also has water in it. So you have to think about that. And so, a lot of times, if it’s – depends on the part of the world you’re in. Some people just let the kitchen sink drain to a dry well or something like that.

    TOM: Drain outside or a dry well. Yeah.

    RICHARD: Because it’s not going to be used for heavy-duty food prep. You’re going to do a lot of the food prep inside the main kitchen.

    TOM: Right. It’s pretty much clean water that drains out of that.

    RICHARD: Yeah. That’s right.

    LESLIE: What about a cooking source? I mean ideally, you’d love to take your natural gas from inside the house and bring it outside. But how much of a challenge is that?

    RICHARD: Gas pipes are pretty straightforward to run. They don’t need pitch and they’re relatively small. They can be run in steel or they can be run – in some parts of the country, you can use the stainless-steel, corrugated, flexible gas-supply piping. So that shouldn’t be too big of a deal to run it. A lot of people love to have wood grills and wood smokers outside so wood becomes part of the theater: you know, the equivalent of a Big Green Egg as sort of – as theater as the center of the space. But gas is what most people want to get.

    TOM: Now how about running electricity out there? We have to be careful with those circuits because they’re more susceptible to getting a shock?

    RICHARD: Yeah. You’re in a place where the rain can come. So you need ground-fault interrupted circuits, something that’ll have a breaker and a safety so that you don’t get electrocuted. And you should be able to completely kill that from outside so you’re not leaving power out there all – in the winter or in a heavy – in the bad weather.

    LESLIE: And you probably need a specialized refrigerator/freezer for outside because we know that as temperature changes, it will ultimately not cool what’s in there.

    RICHARD: Yeah. It’s quite an industry, though. There’s some unbelievably beautiful outdoor appliances and fixtures. It’s just crazy how that – it’s just additional living space and it’s theater.

    TOM: Yeah. And I think, in a lot of parts in the country, it absolutely contributes to the home’s value, too.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    TOM: Having that second kitchen outside is something that’s really going to turn on buyers.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. I wished I lived in a place that it could be viable.

    TOM: Where you could enjoy it, right?

    RICHARD: So, I’ve got to move.

    TOM: That’s the solution.

    Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for helping us out with outdoor-kitchen design.

    RICHARD: Great to be back.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.

    Up next, are you thinking of selling your home this spring? Have you planned your move? Well, smart homeowners think about selling and moving at the same time. We’ll have a checklist, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by QUIKRETE. It’s what America is made of. For project help from start to finish, download the new QUIKRETE mobile app.

    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.

    Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, we’re giving away a very spring-y /summery prize this hour. We’ve got the Orbit b-hyve WiFi Irrigation Controller.

    Now what this does is it automatically adjusts the watering for you each month based on what your landscape actually needs. So you’re going to save water and you’re going to save money. Both are great. And it comes with an easy-to-use mobile app since we are all obsessed with our smartphones. So this’ll be great because it’s another thing that you can look at on your smartphone. And the app is going to work with WiFi on your Android or your iOS devices. So, really, all the time you can see what’s going on with your lawn, how much water you’re using and how much you’re saving.

    You can check it out at The Home Depot or at HomeDepot.com. And it’s a prize worth 99 bucks.

    TOM: It’s going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, with your home improvement or home décor question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, contrary to popular practice, the best time to start planning your move is as soon as you decide to sell your home. What’s more, some of the stuff you’ll do to prepare a home for sale can actually help you with the moving process. Chores like cleaning out closets, the basement and the attic mean that there will be a lot less to do once your home is under contract.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, there are a number of factors that impact your plan to move, including the distance to your new home. Now, a local move could be a do-it-yourself job, while a long-distance move means screening and selecting a professional moving company. Because you’re going a greater distance and you’ve really got to kind of rely on your instincts with somebody.

    TOM: You need to be prepared to compare written estimates, ask for recent references and confirm mover credentials. Unfortunately, this is one area where bad contractors thrive and some will even threaten to hold your things hostage until the bill is paid, even if it’s a bill you never agreed to pay to begin with. So be sure to choose very carefully and really check those references thoroughly to make sure you and your stuff arrive on time, undamaged and on budget.

    LESLIE: Rick in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    RICK: Well, yes, I have a question about a bedroom wall. I’ll tell you real quick what I have. It’s a cinder-block wall and on the outside of it is a stone facing. And then on the inside, they just had furring strips and then plaster. So, no insulation and very cold in the winter.

    So what we’re doing – we’re tearing down the plaster. We’re going to frame it out. We’re going to put – I guess it’s R-19, I think, it is in there and then drywall it. But my question is – we were talking about putting a thermal barrier onto the block itself. And I guess I have a couple of questions or concerns: A) is it going to be worth it? Is it going to raise the R-value any? And B) there’s not really going to be an air cavity. It’s just going to be the thermal barrier on the wall and then the insulation is going to be touching that, so I’m kind of afraid it’s going to act more of a conductor.

    TOM: Well, what you might want to think about using there is Tyvec. 

    RICK: Oh, on the inside.

    TOM: Yeah, on the inside. It’s vapor-permeable, so I think it’ll allow everything to breathe but it’ll keep some separation between the block and the frame.

    And by the way, you’d be wise to leave at least an inch there in between and not have it up against the block, because you really don’t want to have an organic material like wood – and certainly not drywall – that close to a very damp source, which would be the concrete block. Because concrete blocks are very hydroscopic. They suck up a lot of water and – especially in periods of bad weather. So you do want to have a bit of a space there. But I think that I would cover the block first with Tyvec, then I’d frame up against that.

    Now, another option, to kind of kill two birds with one stone, is consider spray-foam insulation. If you did spray-foam insulation, you could frame the wall and then you could spray into the framing, right up against the block wall. And then it would be cut flush with the wall and you would put your drywall right on top of that.

    Now, spray foam has the advantage of being able to not only insulate but seal and draft-proof at the same time. We recently added spray-foam insulation to our entire home. Now, we have an existing home, much like you. And of course, it makes it difficult to get into the walls. But what we did was we put it in the box beams, which were all the way around this sort of perimeter of the basement and crawlspace, and we added it to the attics. And just those areas – without even doing the walls, because we weren’t opening the walls at this time – made a huge difference in the energy efficiency of the house. So, I’m a big fan of Icynene – I-c-y-n-e-n-e – as a result of that experience.

    RICK: OK. Yeah, I didn’t even think about anything like that. I have to check into that.

    Do you know – well, I guess I have to let you head off the line or whatever – if there’s somebody around my area?

    TOM: I’m sure that there will be. Icynene is a Canadian company but they have dealers all across the country.

    RICK: Now, if I didn’t do that and I just – I put the frame, the stud up to the block wall – you said to leave an inch. Like what would you recommend? How would you do that?

    TOM: I would just simply frame the wall out away from the block.

    RICK: OK.

    TOM: And don’t attach the frame wall to the block wall. Because I’ll tell you, some of the worst cases of mold infestation we’ve seen is when you have wood framing attached to block walls and drywall which is, essentially, mold food.

    In fact, one other thing you might want to consider is to not use drywall on that wall but use something called DensArmor, which is a fiberglass-faced drywall product. So without the paper face, you don’t have food to feed the mold. Make sense?

    RICK: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: Rick, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey. Imagine having to repair a room that was covered with the worst color combination possible. Well, we’re going to have the step-by-step to tackle that challenge, 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: Here to help you with your home improvement project, your home décor projects. Terry is writing us from California and has a home décor question.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Terry writes: “I want to repaint an interior room. The existing color is a vibrant purple and pink.”

    Please say it’s a little girl’s bedroom and not your living room.

    TOM: What’s wrong with that?

    LESLIE: It’s a little bit crazy. And so Terry wants to know what’s the best way to prep the walls for the least amount of coats to cover such bright colors.

    TOM: It’s actually a really good question, Terry. What we would suggest would be – the first thing to do would be to prime those walls. And what you want to do is not only prime them but you want to tint the primer with the color that you ultimately want to end up with. So if it’s say, I don’t know, a pleasant yellow or a nice blue or something like that, make sure the primer is that color. You actually tint your primer because it helps with the covering of the old purple and pink.

    Now, the primer also serves many benefits to you. Not only will it help cover those old colors but it will give you a very smooth surface upon which you can apply the finish coat, which will flow nicely on the primer, a lot nicer than it would over those old walls. It also helps to neutralize anything on those walls that may affect the paint’s ability to stick.

    So prime first, tint the primer when you use it and then put your topcoat on and you’ll be good to go. You’ll probably get away with – if it’s a really good-quality paint, you might just have one coat of primer and one coat of topcoat and be done. At most, you would probably need two topcoats.

    LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps, Terry. And good luck. And don’t pick bright pink or purple, because we already know you don’t like them.

    Next up, we’ve got a post here from Nate who writes: “I have an air-conditioning condenser on the roof of my townhouse that I want to demolish to prepare for a new HVAC system. Can I simply disconnect the existing refrigerant lines and let the refrigerant dissipate into the air?”

    TOM: No. You would be like an environmental terrorist for doing that.

    LESLIE: Seriously. You ever hear of the hole in the ozone layer?

    TOM: Yeah. And you cannot let that stuff out in the air. I mean not only is it not good for the environment, it’s not good for you if you get a whiff of it. So, no.

    What you want to do, Nate, is have a professional remove that air-conditioning compressor and properly drain it of the old refrigerant before that is done. And then, of course, you’ll need a pro to put it back together or to replace it. But you cannot just open that up and let it escape. It’s just not good karma.

    LESLIE: Alright, Nate. Good luck with that, because don’t do it yourself this time around.

    Alright. We’ve got a post here from Debra who writes: “I have a dog who I cannot keep from jumping and scratching the inside of my front and back doors. They’ve been refinished twice and she continues to damage them. I would like to either refinish them again or replace them but cannot think of clever, practical or decorative ways to protect my doors. Any suggestions?”

    TOM: What about Plexiglas? What if you were to put a layer of Plexiglas, perhaps, across the bottom half of that door and attach it physically to the door? This way, the dog would be jumping up on the Plexiglas and scratching that. And if it got looking nasty after a while, you could just replace the Plexiglas. It’d be a lot less expensive than replacing the door.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I wonder how big the dog is. Plexiglas would be the best solution or even like a very thin sort of LEXAN or Plexi or even a clear rubber: some sort of coating that just sort of semi-permanently attaches itself to your door but – that you can still change out once it gets really grody.

    And the other thing is picking a door out of a different material, because I imagine with wood – we had the same thing. We babysat a dog who scratched the crap out of the bottom half of our door and I’ve just had to refinish that area. But maybe you go with a metal door that’s painted. But that’s obviously not the look if you’ve got a wood one.

    TOM: Exactly. If you use LEXAN, that’s pretty tough stuff. You might actually be able to clean it, as well, and it could last longer than just regular Plexiglas.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Ooh, good point, Tom. When you’re using Plexi or LEXAN or any of those plastic-y glass products, there’s a special spray cleaner that you want to use. Because if you use a regular Windex or other kind of glass cleaner, it fogs the Plexi. So make sure if you do that, you get the right cleaner for it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We know it’s a beautiful spring weekend, so go forth and improve your home.

    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.


    (Copyright 2016 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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