Sell Your Home Fast By Appealing to Younger Buyers, Eliminate Plumbing Odors on Your Own, and Learn How to Up Your Recycling Game
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: Here to help you tackle your home improvement project, your home building project, your décor project. Do you have to check something off the honey-do list? Is there a project you’ve really got to get done around your house? Well, the first step is to pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here with advice, resources, tips. Whatever you need, we’re going to help you get that job done. But help yourself, first, by calling us at 888-666-3974.
Now, perhaps you’ve had all you can take from your house and it’s time to sell it. And if you want to sell it fast, you might want to think about updating it with must-haves for young buyers. These young buyers, these millennials, are snatching up homes at lightning speed. So this hour, we’re going to give you the scoop on how to market, decorate and present your house, with these eager millennials in mind, for a quick sale.
LESLIE: Yeah, you have to figure out a way to get it on their smartphones so they can actually look at it.
TOM: That’d be Step One, yep.
LESLIE: Step One: on smartphone. Because they’re not looking up.
Alright, guys. And what stinks more than plumbing odors? Well, if you said, “Paying somebody to fix them,” you are in luck. This Old House plumbing expert Richard Trethewey is here with tips on getting to the bottom of those smelly drainage problems on your own. You can save major money with this how-to plumbing help, just ahead.
TOM: And are you feeling guilty about all your household trash? We’re going to help you kick that guilt right to the curb with recycling advice that’ll up your family’s green game, including tips about stuff you probably didn’t know you could recycle.
LESLIE: Plus, one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep, including the new Quick-Clean Disinfectant.
TOM: It’s a prize worth 50 bucks. Going to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Theodora in Hawaii is on the line with a leaky ceiling. What’s going on?
THEODORA: We got a leak. We don’t know where it came from. We don’t know if it’s from an outside frame on a window or if it’s from vines that were crawling up the outside, which we pulled out, and loosened the frame.
Anyway, we’ve got a leak. It’s a two-story house. I live on the main floor and it’s my ceiling that’s leaking. And it’s left – it barely leaks and it rarely leaks unless we get water from that side.
TOM: So kind of like a driving rainstorm?
THEODORA: That’ll do it.
TOM: Yeah, OK.
THEODORA: And the thing is that we cleaned it with bleach and we put KILZ on there. And then about a month later, we put latex on there.
THEODORA: And I was told that ought to work but the stain came back. It’s kind of a rusty color and pretty ugly.
TOM: So the question is: do we think it’s still leaking, Theodora, or do you think it’s just a stain you’re having difficulty with?
THEODORA: It leaks only when we get those Kona storms. And otherwise, it doesn’t leak. Storms come and go and it does not leak.
TOM: So, if the leak is active no matter what you put on there for paint, obviously, it’s going to keep coming through again. So we have to deal with the active leak.
Now, you mentioned that you live on the first floor of this home. Is it a two-family house or – who’s upstairs?
THEODORA: My daughter lives up; I live down. I rent from her; she’s my landlord.
TOM: Oh, I see. OK. Well, you’re going to have to complain to the landlord here, I think. Obviously, you’ve got a leak that’s caused by driving rain, which means it’s coming in generally through flashing. What kind of siding is on this house?
THEODORA: I guess I would have to say that the walls are hollow tile? That brick that has a hole in the side? And there is no flashing I – there is on the second story, on the ceiling – on the roof. But in my area, it’s just kind of – if you put adobe on there, you’d have kind of a brick house.
TOM: Well, what you’re going to have to do is basically have a contractor look at the side of this house, because you’re getting water up and under somewhere. And if you don’t deal with it, the mold could get worse.
Now, because it’s a driving rainstorm, it’s going to be probably flashing-based, like I said. And so, that may involve you taking apart some of the trim around windows, for example, or where roofs intersect or where plumbing pipes come through and try and get to the source of this.
One thing that you could try to do is you could have a contractor run water down the house, starting at the top and working down, to see if we could recreate the leak. That might help you narrow down where it’s happening.
THEODORA: The second-story roof has vaulted ceilings. It’s way up to heaven. They won’t get up there with water. I know that.
TOM: Well, look, you can get as high as you need to get, with the right tools, Theodora. But the problem is you’ve got to deal – this is not – you called a question about how to deal with the stain. It’s not a stain issue; it’s a leak issue. The leak has got to be addressed. I can’t tell you where it’s happening on that side of the house but I can tell you it does exist and you’ve got to identify that. And you could try caulking obvious areas and things like that to see if it makes it go away. But I would recommend a more comprehensive approach. And unfortunately, you’re going to need a pro to get that done.
So, complain to that landlord. Get somebody in that can fix that. I’m sure your daughter will understand.
Theodora, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Carl, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CARL: I have been considering running some plumbing from the fireplace to an adjacent room with a radiator and possibly using that heated water to occasionally supplement the water heater, if that’s feasible. And from the few people I’ve talked with in the kitchen and plumbing and bath and fireplace businesses, so far they haven’t done that. And I’m just wondering if you know of – if that’s feasible or if it’s being done on a fairly commonplace scale and have some tips.
TOM: Probably a good indication that they haven’t done that, Carl. Fireplaces make lousy boilers and that’s what you’re talking about doing. It’s not the kind of thing where you can put – simply put – a plumbing system into and have it transmit that water into another room without having all the other associated gear that goes with a boiler like – for example, once you heat water, it expands. What do you do with the extra pressure? Things like that. That’s not such a good idea.
CARL: OK. So inefficient, unsafe and all that other stuff. Just impractical.
TOM: Yes. All good reasons to stay away.
TOM: Carl, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Put down the monkey wrench and step away from the plumbing project, Carl.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Well, we are right in the middle of November. We’ve got Thanksgiving in a few short weeks then, of course, the big holiday season right after that. So, if your money pit is looking a little worse for the wear, we’d love to give you a hand to get it ready for all of those guests that are coming knocking. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are you looking to sell your home fast? Well, look no further than millennials. We’ve got inside tips from the experts at the National Association of Realtors on selling your house to young people who are buying homes at dizzying speeds. Find out what they’re looking for, after this.
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 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and we’ll get your name tossed into The Money Pit hard hat for our giveaway this hour. We’ve got the Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep Commercial, featuring Zep Quick Clean and other Zep home cleaning products.
LESLIE: That’s right. The Quick-Clean Disinfectant is an all-purpose home cleaning product that you can really use on most non-porous surfaces. And it’s going to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria in only 5 seconds. And it will kill most viruses in under two minutes, which really makes it perfect for the kitchen this Thanksgiving as you take on all of that holiday food prep.
TOM: Zep products are available at The Home Depot. Visit ZepCommercial.com to learn more.
888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to Tennessee where Jean has a stucco question. What’s going on? How can we help you?
JEAN: Well, the house was built in 1914. And the outside exterior walls are covered with stucco that has the kind of swirly bumps where they throw the trowels on it. And it looks like it’s in good condition, so I was thinking we could probably just spray it a nice color. It’s still kind of golden, like it used to be, but wherever the branches of the shrubs went against it, it’s kind of yucky and gray-looking.
But I know that when we painted our patio slab, we had to do some treatment to it before we could paint it. Does stucco need some preconditioning besides just hosing it off with [soap and water] (ph)?
TOM: Well, the first thing you need to do is to make sure that there’s no algae attached to it. And so I would probably do a very light pressure-washing and cleaning of the outside of the house and let it dry for a good couple of days in warm weather. And then I would prime it with an oil-based primer and then I would use a good-quality, exterior topcoat paint over that.
You can’t cut any corners here. You can’t take any shortcuts. But if you do it once and you do it right, it’s going to last you a long time because that siding is not organic. You may find very well that paint can last you 10 to 12 years, as opposed to maybe 5 to 8 if it was wood.
JEAN: Alright. Well, thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Orv in South Dakota is on the line with a log-cabin question. Tell us what you’re working on.
ORV: This is a cedar log cabin. Actually, it’s 4x6s with the edges eased. And four or five years ago, we stained it and it got – we stained it too dark. And I’d like to know if we can – or what needs to be done to bring it back to its original color?
TOM: OK. So, if you stained it and it’s too dark and you want to lighten it up again, it’s not practical to sand down the logs to try to get to the natural wood, nor do I think you have to. What you could do is you could apply a solid-color stain, which is essentially going to be – the color that comes out of the can is the color you’re going to get. It’s kind of like paint except that the grain of the wood shows through. So if you were to put a solid-color stain on those logs, you could definitely lighten it up.
And frankly, when we are asked about staining homes, wood siding and the like, we almost always recommend solid-color stain because it lasts the longest. It has more pigment in it than semi-transparent stains and so I think that’s the way to go, Orv. Just pick up some solid-color stain, any color you want. Apply it to the logs and you could definitely lighten up the look.
ORV: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’re ready to move on to your next phase of life, you may be thinking about selling the home you’ve spent most of your adult life in. So how do you make that older home appeal to a younger buyer just starting out? We’re going to find out, with today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors.
LESLIE: Well, as a home seller, you can actually work with a realtor to find potential buyers for your home. But chances are your buyer is going to be young, especially if you’re selling to a first-time buyer.
TOM: And if that’s the case, you need to adjust your home and your marketing for maximum appeal.
Now, many young buyers are leery of purchasing a home that requires lots of maintenance or repairs, so be sure to schedule a home inspection before listing. The resulting report will help you address any worries or fears about non-existent problems.
LESLIE: And make your community part of the marketing, too, so the buyers know about the great schools, recreational amenities and the people that are nearby. And be sure to showcase your home’s best features. Young buyers look for homes with plenty of natural light and space. And you’ll be able to meet the mark with smart staging and a few simple, cosmetic improvements.
TOM: And that is your Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Considering selling your home? Today’s market conditions may mean it’s a good time. Every market is different, so call a realtor today and visit Realtor.com.
LESLIE: Nora in Texas is on the line with a textured-wall question. Tell us what you’re working on.
NORA: We are remodeling our house and we have a room that has a wall that has some flaws in the wall: some bumps and things that I know I won’t get out. But we were going to – we were texturing it with a lightweight joint compound and a paint roller. But when I put it on, I kind of went above my head and came down and then I dipped again, went across the wall and then went across the top about a foot from the ceiling to the – where I’d started. Then went across the bottom from the foot – from the – right ended to the floor. Is it going to show line – how do you keep from showing line marks and …?
TOM: Well, you know, Nora, there’s paints that are designed to do that; you don’t have to use spackling. But I can respect the fact that you probably had some spackle and maybe you just tried to make that work. How do you avoid paint lines or how do you avoid trowel lines with that? You only get one shot to do it and that’s when you work it when it’s wet.
TOM: It’s OK to cut-in like that. But before it dries, what you have to do is go across the wall and sort of break into those sort of bands so that you have a pattern there.
TOM: I probably would not have used spackle for that, if it was me. I would have used a good-quality textured paint, which would have given you the same effect. But it sounds like that ship has sailed and now you’re working with the spackle. Is that correct?
NORA: Well, yes. What kind of paint has texture in it?
TOM: Oh, there’s lots of different paints. I know, for example, I think it’s Valspar has got about a dozen different ones. And I’m sure every major paint manufacturer has a textured paint.
NORA: So you just roll it on like paint and it …?
TOM: That’s right. It has less coverage. So while regular paint covers about 400 square feet per gallon, textured paint will cover between 150 and 200 square feet per gallon.
LESLIE: And it also depends – the application depends on the type of texture that you choose. Some of them have certain rollers that are required – certain applicators, I should say – that will achieve that look for you.
NORA: OK. Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joseph in Kentucky on the line who’s got a question about stainless steel. How can we help you?
JOSEPH: Three-and-a-half years ago, I was using these rubber PZV water-supply lines in the bathroom, under the commode and the sink.
JOSEPH: And one of them had busted at the time and it flooded the floor in the bathroom and the hallway with water. So I went over to the hardware store and I got these braided stainless steel and put on there.
TOM: Right. Uh-huh.
JOSEPH: I was told at the time that these here were not supposed to break or leak. But the – one of them under the sink has started leaking up under the sleeve, next to the coupling nut.
JOSEPH: And I tried tightening it down a little bit but that didn’t do any good, so I finally went back over to the store and got two new ones and put on the sink. Is there some kind of a time-replacement period on these things or did just I get a bad hose?
TOM: I think you did because it’s very unusual for those flexible lines to leak – to break down and leak. They are clearly the most convenient way, when you’re replacing a faucet in a situation like that, because you don’t have to get the length just right. You know, if you’re a plumber, you cut everything to fit nice and neat and tight. But for a consumer, they’re the way to go.
I’ve put on dozens of those over the years, for sinks and toilets and other fixtures, and I’ve never had a problem with them. So I suspect that you got a bad one or perhaps when you attached it, maybe you cross-threaded it, maybe there was a bit of debris in it that caused the leak. And now that you’ve replaced it the second time, does it seem to be holding?
TOM: Yeah, I suspect that there was either a problem with the installation or the product the first time around. You just got a bad one.
JOSEPH: Is there any kind of a time-replacement period on that thing? Say, 10 years or 15 years or …?
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what, all those products have their own warranty. And I’ll give you a little aside story. I told this on the show several months ago but my mom, we had bought a sink for her 17 years ago from Home Depot, through American Standard.
TOM: And it chipped. And I was getting ready to replace it and I mentioned it to one of the guys in the store. He said, “I think there’s a warranty on that.” And he was right. They no longer carried them in the store but I contacted American Standard. They sent me a new sink 17 years later and only because I had the warranty and I had the receipt, because my mom is great about saving stuff like that. She saves everything.
So, if you happen to have the receipt and there is a warranty, maybe you can get the few dollars back that you spent on that. But otherwise, I would just chalk it up to bad luck and move on.
JOSEPH: Well, OK then. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Joseph. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, are odors making their way out of your plumbing and into your home? Well, here’s some news that doesn’t stink: there’s probably an easy solution that you can tackle yourself. Squash those smells without calling the plumber. This Old House plumbing expert Richard Trethewey has tips, after this.
TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools. Stanley Tools has been helping to build America since 1843. Look for specially marked Stanley packaging featuring the Made in U.S.A With Global Materials logo. Visit StanleyTools.com/BuildYourAmerica.
JOE: Hey, this is Joe Namath. And let me tell you, it’s no fun getting sacked, believe me, especially by your home improvement project. Stay in the game and listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
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.
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Head to GreenMyMoneyPit.com and watch me show you how Shaklee can make the toughest stains vanish. And if you order the Get Clean Kit now, you can also get a free copy of The Money Pit Guide to Green Remodeling. It’s free with your Get Clean Kit order. Visit GreenMyMoneyPit.com to join the clean, green revolution.
LESLIE: Well, by their very nature, household plumbing systems process a lot of – let’s be kind – just smelly stuff. Well, the good news is that we rarely smell those stinky odors unless something is wrong.
TOM: Plumbing odors can range from a sulfur, rotten-egg smell to a downright disgusting sewer-gas stink. And figuring out the source of those smells can be tricky but not if you know what to look for.
This Old House heating-and-plumbing expert Richard Trethewey joins us now with some advice on sniffing out the problem.
RICHARD: I am on the case, people. I’m ready.
TOM: Dr. Smell is here.
So, plumbing odors are a pretty common problem and they’re usually not all that difficult to fix. Where do you begin?
RICHARD: Any drainage system is carrying water down to a sewer or to a septic system of some sort and really, by design, the smells that are inside that pipe and inside that vent. But what most people don’t realize is that there is a vent system that continues from that drain, right up inside the house, right out to the outside and above the roof. And then there are always supposed to be traps on every single plumbing fixture.
Now, a trap is a simple device. It has water in it so that it doesn’t allow any of those sewer gases to leak back up into the house. And as soon as you have a trap that isn’t working correctly or the water is gone from it, you’ll smell that unbelievably pungent sewer-gas smell. And that’s not safe; it’s not good to let that into the building at all.
TOM: So one of the most common sources, then, of plumbing odors is that trap. Perhaps the trap dries out or maybe it wasn’t ever built right to begin with?
RICHARD: Well, if the trap leaked, you’d see water on the floor. What often happens is the trap evaporates. You know, the kids have gone off to college 25 years ago; that bathroom hasn’t been used in all that time. Now the trap is now evaporated and so now you’ve got raw sewer gas coming back up through. And that’s quite often what the issue is: just a lack of a trap seal.
But we’ve also seen traps that can lose their seal because the wind is blowing so extraordinarily over the top of the building, pushes down through the plumbing stack – the vent stack – and actually makes the water level bounce in the trap enough that it sort of comes back into the drain. And all of sudden, you’ve got just enough gap there for sewer gas to leak up through. And so those are the two most notable places we see. A leak on a trap, you’d generally see on the floor and you’d notice it and need to get it repaired.
LESLIE: Now, the trap seems like one place where you’re going to get these faulty odors from. But what other parts of your plumbing system could fail that you might not know about until you start to smell something?
RICHARD: Well, around the toilet itself, the toilet has a trap built into it. The toilet, by its very nature, has this trapway that seals against sewer gas. But underneath that toilet, the toilet has to connect to the floor and ultimately, to the pipe underneath it. And it usually has a wax seal. Now, if that wax seal has failed a little bit, you also can get a little bit of sewer gas. But it’s not going to be a lot. It’ll be just enough that you sort of get a little bit of an odor.
The other thing we often get complaints about is just the smell of urine around the toilet. And that is generally delivered to you from teenage boys missing.
LESLIE: Or five-year-olds.
TOM: Yeah, with bad aim.
RICHARD: That’s right. So, that’s another source of it.
But you also can get plenty other smells in the water system, the plumbing system. We get complaints from people saying, “It smells like rotten eggs when I run the hot water.” And that is that inside of any tank-type water heater, you’ve got an anode rod inside there that sort of acts as a sacrificial rod. And once that fails, the net result that inside that tank is that you’ve got this sulfur discharging into it that gives you these unbelievably pungent rotten eggs. And you swear that it’s just terrible rotten eggs. And so that means your water heater is ready to leak, if it hasn’t already.
TOM: Now, Richard, one of the places that is a bit tricky to diagnose is the drain, because it may not always have to do with a trap that’s dried out. Sometimes you can get bacteria that forms in any wet place and that can give off a gas, correct?
RICHARD: Yeah. I mean any place you could have standing water in warm applications is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold and stuff like that. So, we’ve heard complaints about people that have the overflow on their vanity sink – the lavatory sink can just give a little smell in there. It shouldn’t be dramatic but it’s still another place.
Any place that you can have standing water sitting for any length of time in a warm climate can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Use your nose. You’ll find it.
LESLIE: What about your garbage disposer? That’s got to be a source of a lot of stinky things, as well. Is there anything that you can do to sort of avoid that or …?
RICHARD: Think about what that poor disposer has to do, Leslie. It has to grind up every bit of the foodstuffs and it throws it against the sides of the inside of the disposer. And if you don’t run water and flush it out, it just can cake on the inside.
So, we often tell people to just put lemons down in there and let them grind up. And that will sort of give a bit of a citrus clean. There’s some enzymes we’ve had people use. These enzymes are pretty interesting. You put them down and they eat anything organic, so it actually can clean the inside of that disposer well. You look down in it and it’s like somebody got down and buffed it. It’s cleaning it all up, so …
RICHARD: Yeah, it’s pretty interesting. So, lemons are enough. Just lemons or oranges, something that can sort of get in there and scour some of that foodstuff that’s been built up. And when you throw the skins of the lemon, it’ll actually clean it up a little bit.
TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey – he’s the plumbing-and-heating expert on TV’s This Old House – for some tips on how to diagnose and fix plumbing odors.
Richard, we talked a lot about inside the house. What about the smell that’s outside your home? Can a leak in a waste line or a problem with the septic system be the cause?
RICHARD: There are some tragic stories of septic systems that fail and all of a sudden, the whole front lawn is filled with smell and liquid. And so, yeah, somebody …
LESLIE: Don’t say it.
TOM: Don’t say it.
LESLIE: Don’t say it.
RICHARD: It’s generally the night before the big wedding or it’s always the worst time.
RICHARD: But yeah, it can be awful.
A septic system is a delicate bacteriological laboratory. You’ve got to have the right amount of water, you’ve got to have bacteria in there breaking down foodstuffs and organics and keep it working. And as soon as something gets in there that messes that up, that septic system can become a nightmare. And if you don’t have bacteriological action eating up that organic stuff inside, it builds up, builds up, builds up. It’s not going to go out through the drain and all of a sudden, it’s flooded your front or back lawn.
TOM: So, Richard, avoiding these odors, it’s all about the one-way street, right? You want the water to flow down but you don’t want anything to come back up. And if you can keep it all going in that direction, no problems, right?
RICHARD: Yeah. Look first and foremost at the traps, meaning every fixture has to have a trap. And just move around the building and start, you know – I wouldn’t be the right guy to send around. I have no nose. I think being a plumber this long, I don’t smell anything anymore. But you can generally find it using your Sherlock Holmes hunt-dog approach. And it’s generally going to be in the trap.
TOM: Good advice. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor for TV’s This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
RICHARD: Great to be with you.
LESLIE: 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 by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Still ahead, does all that household trash leave you feeling guilty? Imagine how Mother Nature feels. We’re going to teach you how to cut down on the garbage and the guilt, with tips for recycling smarter, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’re going to get help with your home improvement questions and you’re going to get your name thrown into The Money Pit hard hat for our giveaway this hour. And we’ve got the Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep Commercial.
TOM: Zep Quick-Clean Disinfectant is an all-purpose home cleaning product you can use on most non-porous surfaces. It kills 99.9 percent of bacteria in only 5 seconds, making it perfect for the holiday season. With all those extra guests and the food prep you’ll be doing, you could use stuff like this.
Zep products are available at The Home Depot. Visit ZepCommercial.com to learn more. And the number here to call for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win is, of course, 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, America Recycles Day is a nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle. And I’m sure that many of you probably recycle in some form or another. But are you truly recycling everything you possibly can?
LESLIE: Yeah, there are so many household products that can now be recycled if you know how to make it happen. So here to tell us about that is Jennifer Killinger, the senior director of sustainability and public outreach at the American Chemistry Council.
JENNIFER: Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here, Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Well, you have a very fun job teaching people about recycling. I bet there are many things you can recycle that people just don’t realize.
JENNIFER: It’s actually a great time to ask that question because, today, people can recycle so many more plastics than ever before. There is a lot we can recycle in the kitchen: things like bottles, containers, caps and lids. But one of the areas where people can really recycle more is outside the kitchen: places like our bathrooms and the garage and our laundry room. Think about all the bottles – plastic bottles – and containers that you have in those rooms. All of them, and their caps and lids, are recyclable.
TOM: That’s a good point. Because while if I, say, drank a bottle of water that was in a plastic bottle, I would throw that in a recycling bin. But perhaps if we used the rest of our shampoo and the shampoo container is empty, we may not throw that in the recycling bin, right? Too many of us just toss that in the garbage.
JENNIFER: Yeah. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to change.
And the other thing I – again, I would remind you: remember to twist that cap back on, as well. That’s actually very valuable material for recyclers.
TOM: Now, what about plastic bags and wraps? I mean so many of us go to the store now and I swear, we always have this collection of the brown sort of shopping bags that come back from the grocery store. And I will confess my wife loves to save these. And I let them build up and then I recycle them, because they just build up into these massive, almost bales of bags.
JENNIFER: Yeah. Well, I’m going to give you a couple tips on how you can resolve that. All of that great material can be recycled. But it’s recycled differently than the hard plastics we just mentioned. I always tell people hard plastics go curbside, soft plastics go back to grocery stores.
And believe it or not, there are actually 18,000 locations across the U.S., primarily at major grocery-store chains, that collect these materials to be recycled. So it’s not just your shopping bags but it’s also bread bags, produce bags, dry-cleaning bags. When you think about it, that’s all the same type of material.
And frankly, I’m a working mom. I do all of my shopping online. Those shipping pillows that come in so many of our packages are recyclable along with that same group of materials.
LESLIE: So what happens once you get the used plastics brought into the recycling center?
JENNIFER: Typically, what happens is – first, you have to sort all the different materials, right? So you’ve got your metals, your cardboard, your plastics, your glass. And then, once you’ve got your plastics sorted out, you can actually sort by the different types of plastics materials.
And there’s two ways that can happen. There are some really advanced technologies today – we call it optical sorting – where there are actually lasers that can detect the different densities and the different colors of plastics. And they actually can shoot a beam of air to knock different types of plastics into different piles at the recycling facility.
TOM: Now, I wish I had that in my house, right, so I could just sort of shoot the beam of air and then have it all sort itself.
Jennifer Killinger from the American Chemistry Council, great advice.
And I’ll tell you, folks, there’s a lot of information on their website, which is PlasticsMakeItPossible.com. That’s PlasticsMakeItPossible.com.
Jennifer, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
JENNIFER: Oh, thank you for having me.
LESLIE: Still ahead on the program, is moisture slowly making its way into your basement? Find out whether it’s time to call in the pros for a look, when we return.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.
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: Hey, this is kind of cool, especially if maybe you can’t hear The Money Pit over the buzz of your circular saw. You can get us louder, clearer and much closer by listening to The Money Pit from your smartwatch. Owners of Android wearable smartwatches can now download the iHeartRadio app on their Android smartphone and sync it to the Android Wear Smartwatch. This is brand new and it’ll let you take The Money Pit from your workbench to your basement to the roof.
You can’t get rid of us. Pretty cool you can listen now on your watch.
LESLIE: Alright, you guys. While you’re online, why don’t you post a question in our Community section? And I’ve got one from Samantha who writes: “My house is two years old. Its basement is covered with a foil-type insulation. Well, after a recent heavy rain, I went down to check the basement to make sure it was dry. There was no evidence of moisture on the floor but I did notice what appeared to be a wet spot on the very lower part of the wall, in the 4 inches or so exposed beneath the foil insulation. I also noticed, at the wet spot, a hairline crack on the wall. Should I have my foundation professionally inspected?”
TOM: Well, hairline cracks are not unusual and I do fear that if you have your foundation inspected by anyone other than a qualified professional home inspector or a structural engineer, you’re probably going to get bad advice. So let’s deal, though, with the moisture issue.
Whenever you have a heavy rain and you have any concern over moisture in the basement – you actually get dampness, you get humidity, you get water in the basement -it’s always, always, always – did I mention always? – caused by bad drainage conditions at the foundation perimeter. That means your gutters have to be clean, the spouts have to be extended at least 4 feet from the foundation and the soil around the house has to slope away.
So, if you decided you were going to pile up rocks around your foundation to create this nice, little landscaping bed for your petunias, bad idea because it’s only holding water against the house. So I would focus on improving the drainage. I wouldn’t be too concerned about a hairline foundation, especially in a concrete wall. It’s pretty common. But if the crack appears to move or shift or get worse, at that point you should have it inspected but only by a qualified professional. It does not mean a contractor or a waterproofer, because they are not qualified. Only a professional home inspector or a licensed structural engineer will get you the advice you need.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post from Tyler who says, “My dryer vent is on the opposite side from the wall outlet and the vent hose kinks. Would it be OK to run a length of PVC pipe with elbows instead?”
TOM: No, I wouldn’t run PVC pipe; I would run solid-metal ducting to take that vent across that space and out. You know, the flexible dryer-vent material can kink. It’s harder to handle. It’s good for really short runs.
LESLIE: It gets squished so easy.
TOM: Yeah. You just want to do solid-metal ducting.
Now, at the home centers, you can buy this in, I think, at least 8-foot lengths where it’s actually sold sort of flaggy-fold (ph) together and kind of lock it together. You almost build your own duct. But it’s really easy to do just with a pair of tin snips. Just make sure that you try to keep it as straight as possible.
Make sure that you duct-tape, with silver-foil duct tape, all of the seams. And have as few bends as possible. Because every time you have a turn in that vent, that’s a place where dust can collect and build up. It also reduces airflow, because one turn is equivalent to 20 foot of straight run in terms of the resistance.
And the other advantage of having metal ducts is you can now clean those ducts successfully. There is a brush called the LintEater, which is like a fiberglass rod with a brush on the end that goes out like 20, 30 feet. You hook it up to a drill and you can go through that entire duct length with a LintEater brush and keep it clean. And that’s going to keep it safe from dryer fires.
LESLIE: Yeah. And you really want to make sure that you keep that run clear, because it’s so quick that a dryer fire can happen. So if you stay ahead of the game, you’ll keep your drying safe.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show always on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and some advice, some direction to help you save time and money and make all your projects a success.
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 2014 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.)