4 Favorite Home Improvement Hacks #0108182
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: What are you working on? If it’s your house, if it’s your home, if it’s your apartment, you are in exactly the right place because we’re here to help. And we’re not even on the payroll. We’re just here to help make your house more comfortable. If that involves remodeling, repair, décor or you just want to complain about something that’s going on and you don’t know what it is, fine.
LESLIE: Everybody loves to complain.
TOM: Call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post that question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com, because we’re here to help you get the job done.
Coming up on today’s program, have your New Year’s resolutions to maybe lose 10 pounds already fallen by the wayside?
LESLIE: Why are you ratting me out, Tom?
TOM: That didn’t last too long. But you know what?
LESLIE: That just never does.
TOM: You can consider this: instead of you going on a diet, why not put your house on a diet instead?
LESLIE: (inaudible) that.
TOM: Why not put your house on a diet instead? We’re going to have some tips, this hour, to help you get rid of the extra stuff for added space and add some cash, all at the same time.
LESLIE: Plus, we love life hacks here at The Money Pit: you know, those shortcuts to get stuff done? Well, we’ve picked out our four favorite home improvement hacks to help you around the house. And we’ll share those, just ahead.
TOM: Plus, speaking of hacks, if your home is hit with a snowstorm, we’ve got some hacks to help you get your car cleaned and out of the snow with minimum hassles. But first, let’s help you with your questions. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
DON: I had a strange thing happen on the backside of my house, which faces the northeast. It has vinyl siding on it. And I noticed, this past week, we had a lot of snow and wind. I have icicles running down my siding, only on that wall. And the water’s dripping out of the drain holes in the siding. This hasn’t happened. It’s been sided for three or four years and I hadn’t ever noticed that before. And it did go all the way across the full width of the wall, every foot or so. It wasn’t just in one location. It happened to go all the way across the wall 16, 18, 20 feet or so.
TOM: Now, do you have – also happen to have an ice dam on the roof above it? Like ice on the – are there icicles coming off the gutter? Do you see ice built up at the roof edge, Don?
DON: Well, I’ve had that problem, yes.
TOM: I wonder if water is getting behind the siding. That’s why I asked that question.
DON: It was so cold it wasn’t doing the – when it melted at all or was warm enough to melt, it was while the weather was really cold that it formed.
DON: But I mean I would agree with you. It could have – it just that it had never happened in that way before.
TOM: Now, the water that’s coming out, it must be coming out through the siding drain holes and then icing once it hits the outside of it? Is that what you’re seeing?
DON: Yes. Exactly, yes. That’s exactly …
TOM: OK. So the only way that seems to me to that it could be happening is if the water is getting behind it. And an ice dam would cause that.
Now, for those that are listening and aren’t familiar with ice dams, it’s probably a good thing that you’re not. Because what happens is if you live in certain climates and you get a heavy snow, it starts to melt then at the upper part of your roof, which is usually warmer because a lot of escaping heat from the house gets there. As that snow starts to melt and the water runs down, it hits the part of your roof that’s overhanging the exterior wall. And since it’s overhanging the wall and not your house, it’s colder and hence, it tends to freeze there.
And once it freezes, you get the effect of a dam. The water keeps hitting that dam and it can’t get through it, so it backs up under the shingles and then it can leak down through the sheathing. And it can either leak into your house or it can leak into the exterior wall and perhaps show up as it is in your house, Don.
Now, when’s the last time you did your roof?
DON: It’s a metal roof and it’s no more than four years old.
TOM: Well, if it’s a metal roof, you shouldn’t be having water back up under it unless it’s backing up to the seams. So, I guess at this point, I would wait for the winter to pass. And then I would take a careful look at the seaming around that area and see if there’s any gaps where water could be forced up under there. Because it would seem to me that the most logical way the water is getting into the siding is by being pressed up there through an ice dam.
DON: OK. Would you recommend – would you feel that these ice tapes with – you put in your gutters.
TOM: The heaters?
DON: If I get the chance, in a thaw, to add that, do you think that might help?
TOM: It may. The real solution here is ice-and-water shield. And what we don’t know is whether or not that was installed underneath that metal roof. It certainly should have been. It’s a fairly minor addition, at that point, when you’re putting a metal roof on.
But ice-and-water shield is a membrane that goes from the roof edge, up about 3 feet. And frankly, I generally recommend putting it on the entire roof because not only does it stop ice dams at the roof edge but if your roof was ever taken off in a storm, the water can’t get through the ice-and-water shield, especially if you live in a coastal climate. That’s really, really important. Minor expense it adds to the roof for all the protection that it gives. So, ice-and-water shield – in your case, though – would require you to take – disassemble the metal roof along the roof edge, which is a big project.
Now, having said that, it’s also possible that if you got damage inside the house – which doesn’t seem like it happened this time. But if you get damage inside the house and you file a homeowner’s claim, all the insurance companies will cover that expense of the roof repair which, of course, means taking the roof off and putting the ice-and-water shield on.
So, I don’t like to see you necessarily put this electric heat-tape appliance that melts the ice into the gutters, especially if you’ve had it all these years and it only happened this once. As you know, it’s a factor of the weather, so it can change. It may never happen again or it could happen every year or it could happen two or three times a winter. So I don’t think I would take any major action just yet, OK?
TOM: Don, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project.
LAURA: We had some plaster work done and unfortunately, the gentleman used a rusty tool. What type of primer, what type of paint can we put over that? I’m afraid that I don’t know if it’ll bleed through or what it’ll do.
LESLIE: So, when you said that he used a rusty tool, are you seeing some areas of a sort of reddish patina in the plaster itself or is it changing over time? What are you noticing?
LAURA: Rust. Just rust from the tool.
LESLIE: So you’re seeing it in the plaster and of course, now that’s all cured and dried.
LAURA: Exactly. In the plaster itself.
TOM: Yeah, that plaster will leech through a traditional paint finish, so you definitely have to prime here, right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah. And I think your best bet is to use, if you can, a B-I-N or a Zinsser, one of those primers. They tend to be oil-based. They’re a little bit more heavy-duty. And those really do tend to cover up everything. So I think if you go ahead with a good coat of that as a primer, you’ll end up with, you know, the opportunity to seal all of that rust stain in. And then when you go put your topcoat on, you shouldn’t have a problem with that.
LAURA: Oh, OK. OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Richard in Rhode Island, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RICHARD: I had two qualified and established insulating companies come to the house. One was some $400 to $500 less than the other. When I looked further into it, turns out one was not putting in those Styrofoam baffles in each of the rafter bays, claiming that it is not necessary. It’s a two-story Colonial built in 1951. Please, who is right? Do they need to be there for breathing or not?
TOM: So, yes, you need a lot of ventilation in a 1950s house because, typically, the natural ventilation is not nearly enough. In a house that was built in 1950, usually you’ll get two gable vents at the ends of the roof structure, right? Those sort of triangle-shaped ends to your roof?
TOM: You have those couple of gable vents. You may have some ridge – you may have some roof vents. Is that right? Do you have roof vents?
RICHARD: There is only two gable vents and they’re two square – I would guess they’re rectangles instead of the (inaudible).
TOM: Right. OK. Do you have soffit vents at the underside of the roof, where the overhang is?
TOM: You have no vents there. So what you should have here – I mean adding insulation is great, Richard, and so it’s a smart move. But you also need to add ventilation. And the best type of ventilation would be a ridge vent that went down the peak of the roof and then soffit vents that went at that overhang. Because what happens is the air should be going into the soffits, passing through those vents that you described: the baffles. And that basically keeps the insulation from choking off the soffit ventilation and then exits at the ridge.
Now, it might be that the insulation company said, “Well, you don’t have any soffit ventilation, so I’m not really putting these baffles in because there’s really nothing to let the air in.” But the project here might be that what you need to do is to have soffit vents put in and a ridge vent. And this way, you’ll have plenty of airflow in that attic. And then you can go ahead and beef up the insulation from that point.
If you put all this insulation in there and you don’t have enough ventilation, it’s just going to get damp and humid. And that insulation, once it’s damp, is not going to be effective. When you have insulation that’s damp like that, it loses a tremendous amount of its R-value.
RICHARD: Alright. Wow. As usual, great information and advice. I appreciate it. Good day. Great show.
TOM: You’re welcome, Richard. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. For help with your next home improvement project, give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can get matched with background-checked home service pros in your area, compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.
TOM: No matter what type of job is on your to-do list, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.
Up next, are you looking for a little extra space or a little extra cash? We’re going to teach you how to squeeze a little of both out of your house, after this.
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: Are you trying to fix up your money pit? Well, we are, too. Let us help. Call in your question, right now, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 presented by HomeAdvisor.
I love, Leslie, when folks see us around and say, “Oh, your houses must be perfect, with not a thing wrong.” You ever heard the phrase “the shoemaker’s kids go barefoot”? Always something going on in our houses.
TOM: So, we know what’s going on at your home, too, and we’d love to help you get to the bottom of it.
LESLIE: We can sympathize.
Linda, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LINDA: The house that we live in was built in ‘53. It’s ours and we’ve paid it off and trying to keep – upkeep it and keep it in good shape. But in between the dining room and the living room, apparently before we purchased it, there was a wall that had been removed. And the only sign is on the ceiling, where the wall was removed, there’s a double crack on each side of a 2×4, is what it looks like, about that width in the drywall.
And I’ve tried – it’s a textured ceiling they did. We actually had knockdown put on it. But it – we can’t fill the crack. We’ve tried to use drywall mud. It just returns. What can I do to fix this crack?
TOM: So this was opposite both sides of a wall that was torn out? So, they must have slipped in some drywall to patch it? Is that what you’re thinking?
LINDA: Maybe, maybe.
TOM: So that’s not the best way to fix that sort of thing. You can’t put a narrow strip in there and have it ever look like a normal ceiling. If you’ve got a hole like that where you pull the wall out, what you have to do is cut a bigger piece of drywall out, maybe about a foot or two on each side of it. And you do that right on the edge where the floor joists are – the ceiling joists are – in this case. Then you have a bigger seam to tape and spackle and secure. And if it’s done well, then you’re never going to see it again.
So you putting all of this spackle on it time and time again, over all of this period of time, has probably made more of a mess and it’s kind of hard to fix at this point. So what I would tell you to do is to cut out that whole repair, put a bigger piece of drywall in, tape it, spackle it, prime the whole ceiling and then repaint the whole ceiling. And that would be the one to do – the way to do this permanently. Otherwise, you’re always going to see that.
LINDA: OK. Thank you for telling me that.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, do you want to drop a few pounds of holiday weight? Good luck to that. But while that part might be hard, we have a much easier suggestion: why not put your house on a diet instead with some simple decluttering?
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, the first step to cutting the fat is taking a good, hard look at all the stuff you own. And I’m talking about all the stuff, you guys. If you don’t love it or you don’t use it, chuck it. You’ll free up some living space that you never even knew you had.
TOM: Yep. Or you can drum up some extra money by selling your discarded things online. In fact, we just wrote a step-by-step guide on how to sell your used stuff online. It’s on MoneyPit.com. And we talk about some of the best sites, how you can list your stuff for a fast sale and how to avoid the scams.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, once all that clutter is gone, you can revamp closets and storage for better efficiency. And consider pieces in your home that have hidden storage, like ottomans that double as storage containers. I mean think about all the throw blankets and pillows and kids’ toys and whatever else you can shove in there.
TOM: Yep. And then you can put your feet up on that ottoman and relax in your clutter-free space that’s easier and cheaper to clean and maintain.
STEVE: My neighbor had a house built within the last year. She had solid-concrete foundation put in with her crawlspace. And I’ve got cinder-block walls on my foundation. And I’ve had a lot of – I’ve had some water penetration through my walls. And I’m thinking, because she has solid concrete – I think maybe if I ever had another house built, maybe that’s the way to go, with solid concrete. I don’t see how water can penetrate that. And I wanted to bounce that off of you and see what you had to say about it.
TOM: Well, water can certainly penetrate solid-concrete walls. Perhaps not as easily as it can a concrete-block wall. But in either case, you can stop that very simply by improving the grading and the drainage at the foundation perimeter. Most of the time when a foundation leaks, whether it’s a crawlspace or a basement, there’s something wrong with that drainage. So your gutters are clogged and overflowing, the downspouts are perhaps not extended out 4 to 6 feet from the house – because most contractors leave them go out about a foot or so, which is a mistake – or the soil is too flat or the soil is sloping back into the wall or there’s some landscape element, like brick edging or 4×4 timbers or something like that, that’s holding water against the foundation.
If you want to stop a foundation from leaking, you want to manage that drainage. But if you are sort of starting from scratch and had your option to go with a block wall or a solid-concrete wall, I do agree that a solid-concrete wall will be much stronger and much more solid and not be prone to some of the issues that we’ve seen with block walls over the years, like leakage or cracking and that sort of thing.
STEVE: Yeah, well, I appreciate that information.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
SYLVIA: I am moving from Pennsylvania, moving further south to get away from the snow. I don’t know if it’ll be South Carolina, Georgia or Florida but I am going to build myself a house and it’s going to be a small house. I’m wondering about in-floor heating but I would like to have a terrazzo floor. So can you put in-floor heating and cooling in a terrazzo floor?
TOM: So, first of all, congratulations on your plan. That sounds really exciting. Secondly, in terms of the floor – first of all, the floor can be heated. It can’t provide your cooling. You’re going to have to have a central air-conditioning system for that.
SYLVIA: I was wondering about that because I was wondering, too. Because cold settles and I’m thinking the floor would be cold but nothing else would be.
TOM: So, in terms of the heated floor, yes, there is a way to run PEX piping – which is a cross-linked polyethylene, hot-water piping – through underlayment that would go under tile. In fact, they make a specific type of plywood that’s actually channeled out for this very purpose, where the plumbing sort of lays inside tracks in the plywood. And then the mud floor or whatever you’re using underneath the trowels goes on top of that.
So, certainly, you can do that. It’s a pretty big project. But if you’re set on having this kind of floor, you can definitely do it. But it will be a more expensive heating system than other types.
SYLVIA: Well, I’m not really set on the terrazzo but I was thinking of it and – because it would be easy to clean. It would be just – from living in Florida, I am familiar with terrazzo floors. And I just thought that it was a possibility. I have not decided exactly yet. I’m just gathering information now.
TOM: Yeah. The answer is you could put hot-water heat through your floors pretty much with any type of material, including that. So, definitely an option for you, Sylvia. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, we love life hacks over here: you know, those shortcuts to get stuff done? Well, we’ve picked out our four favorite home improvement hacks to help you around the house. And we’re going to share those, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, are you still looking for help with your money pit? Well, you’re not alone. Head on over to MoneyPit.com for tips and answers to home improvement questions big and small. And while you’re there, sign up for our free Money Pit newsletter and stay ahead of home maintenance year-round. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Jim in Ohio is on the line with a question about insulation. What are you working on?
JIM: I’m looking at remodeling my basement and I’m looking for something with – that’s going to help insulate it plus dampen some of the sound from the basement.
TOM: So, a couple of things. First of all, do you want to insulate the foundation walls or do you just want to insulate the basement ceiling?
JIM: Actually, both.
TOM: So there’s a foil-encapsulated fiberglass-batt insulation that’s designed specifically for basement walls. The foil has a water resistance to it, so it stands up to the moist, damp areas. So that’s something that you could do there.
JIM: OK. Great.
TOM: In terms of the insulation, you could use standard fiberglass insulation. But contrary to popular belief, fiberglass insulation by itself is not a material that’s going to block a lot of sound. If you want to block sound, you probably should use a sound-resistant drywall. There are different types of drywall products. I think one’s called QuietRock.
There are others that once you apply it to the ceiling – you apply it like normal drywall but it’s a lot heavier and it has sort of a sound-resistant batten structure to it. It’s also much more expensive. But you can special-order it at a home center and use that on the ceiling and that will make it quieter.
But the devil is in the details when it comes to quiet construction. And wherever you have a ceiling fixture or light fixtures or any kinds of perforations in that ceiling, they have to be packed, also, with a soundproofing material, which kind of looks like a clay that sort of fits behind it. But if you just want to try to do the best you can without going to that level of detail, then maybe just apply the sound-resistant drywall and it’ll be probably the quietest basement on the block.
JIM: Great. Thank you. That works.
LESLIE: Well, we love our life hacks here at The Money Pit: you know, those shortcuts to get stuff done a little bit easier and maybe there’s a little trick involved in there? Well, we love them, so we’ve picked out our four favorite home improvement hacks to help you around the house.
Now, I love this first one. Have you ever dropped a small object, like an earring or a fastener, and you can’t find it? So, here’s the trick, guys: cut a pair of stockings and pull it over the end of your vacuum hose. This way, it’s not going to get sucked up into the vacuum. But you can go around the area where you think you’ve dropped it and it’ll get sucked up from wherever it’s hiding but you’ll still be able to get it.
TOM: Now, here’s another one. If you need to drive a nail and you want to avoid sore thumbs by missing it with the hammer or getting those telltale sort of “smiles,” my dad used to call them, in the wood where you missed and you dent the wood?
TOM: A couple of ways to avoid that. If it’s a big nail, you can stick it in a clothespin to get it started. Use the clothespin to hold it. For smaller nails, you can hold the nail by first sticking it through a piece of corrugated cardboard. It’ll stay in there nicely and you can get a good swing on the hammer without worrying about getting hurt.
Now, if it’s going onto exposed trim like, say, a door or the surface of a deck where you’re nailing some deck boards down, I got a good idea from my friend, Tommy Silva, on This Old House. What he taught his apprentices to do was to nail through a cedar shingle first and then let the nail pass right through the deck board below. And when it hits flush with the cedar shingle, you can pull it off in a couple of tiny taps or a smack with a nail set and it’s below the surface. So, lots of ways to drive nails now without worrying about damaging the wood, with that hack.
LESLIE: Now, here’s a tip for those extension cords that you’re using for your tools. They keep pulling and unplugging while you’re working on a project. Tie those two ends in a loose knot before you plug them together. This way, they’ll always stay together.
Now, here’s another cord tip: you can use bread clips to label the cords hanging behind your workstation. So no more guesswork to find out which one goes to the printer, which is the modem, yada, yada, yada. You’ll know exactly which one you’re going for.
TOM: And lastly, here’s one of my favorite hacks to avoid paint drips. Just stretch a large rubber band around a paint can and then wipe the brush on the edge. You basically go handle to handle, so it actually sort of divides the open part of the paint can in half. Then, as you bring the brush up, you use that rubber band to sort of wipe it clean of the extra paint. And this way, it doesn’t collect on the edges and it makes the can really easy to close when you’re done without kind of totally screwing it up.
Now, if you guys have any life hacks to share, we would love to hear about them. Post them on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. And if we like them, we’ll talk about them on the air and give you full credit.
LESLIE: Tim in Iowa is on the line with some issues with a basement floor. What is happening at your money pit?
TIM: Well, I’ve got a 1920s house. I’ve got a ditch out in front of the house. When I get a lot of rain, I get a wet basement. My question is: is there any product, purely decorative, to put on the basement floor that is not going to come up when my basement floor does get wet?
TOM: How about this idea? How about if we tell you how to stop that basement floor from getting wet, Tim?
TIM: Well, it’s – like I said, it’s an old house. It’s not tiled. Other than just – if the county would be willing to put a big, 6-foot drain in place of the ditch, that would probably fix it. But we’re not going to be able to do anything about that.
TOM: What’s causing this? Are you telling me that there’s something going on outside that you can’t control? Because generally, the causes of a wet basement are really two things. Number one, the failure of the gutter system. So that means you don’t have a gutter system or the gutters are clogged or the gutters are discharging too close to the foundation. And number two, the angle of the soil around the immediate, say, 4 to 8 feet around your house. If it’s flat, if it’s pitched into the wall, that’s going to fill up with water and lead to this wet basement.
The fact that you have a wet basement that is consistent with rainfall means that it’s not a rising water table; it means it’s just drainage. So the solution is to better manage that drainage. And no matter what’s going on around you, I have almost never seen a case where you couldn’t make it a lot better by controlling and improving what you can control, like your gutters and your drainage.
TIM: Well, I don’t mean to disagree with you but I get the same water during snowmelt.
TOM: And the same reason for that. Because, again, if you – if that water is coming from snowmelt or rainfall, it’s surface drainage; it’s not a rising water table. Believe me when I tell you, this is one of the easiest things to fix but people just don’t get it.
LESLIE: Because they think it’s too easy.
TOM: They think it’s too easy. They think they have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on it. And there’s an article on the home page of my website. And it’s kind of funny when you read the comments, because there’s an ongoing debate that goes on between waterproofers who try to argue against it and other experts, like home inspectors, who go, “No, this guy is exactly right. We don’t need your expensive sump-pump systems. This can be fixed with better drainage and gutter control.” And it’s actually one of the most downloaded articles we’ve ever had on the site. I think there’s like a half-million downloads of it.
So, it really is as easy as I’m explaining. And you can improve this. To the original question about paint, yeah, there are damp-proofing paints that are available for your floor. You would just use a basic epoxy paint. It’s a two-part mix that has a chemical cure. And as long as you put it on when the floor is dry, it’s not going to come up when the floor gets damp.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, have you ever found yourself stuck in your own driveway, thanks to a snow-and-ice storm? Up next, we’re going to share a few hacks to help release your car and get you on your way, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. And we’d love to take your calls, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
Well, if you’re hit with a big winter storm and you don’t have your car tucked away in a garage, it is always a pain in the neck to clear the snow and ice off your car so you can get going. But it’s a job that absolutely has to be done.
LESLIE: Now, for our friends that are sitting in all those warmer places, just sit there and gloat or don’t gloat or whatever you want to do. We all know you don’t have to deal with the snow but suck it up and let us help our northern friends for a little bit, OK?
Now, first off, if you’ve got a long driveway, one tip is to get ready before the storm by parking your car at the end of it. Now, I learned this the hard way years ago, thinking I should have the car closer to the building. But of course, every shovelful of snow I had to release to get that car out made me change my thinking. So now we park the cars right at the end of the driveway so I don’t have to do that much shoveling to get it back on the road.
Now, the same thing would go for a parking space, perhaps, in a condo or apartment. Back in, have it pulling out. And if you can, grab a spot near the complex exit.
LESLIE: Now, here’s another car tip: it’s super smart, you guys, to put up the windshield wipers so they don’t freeze to the car window.
Tom, I know you’ve had some experience with this. Am I right?
TOM: Yeah. Actually, yeah, it was weird. It was last winter and I’d done that on the front wipers but I never did it on the rear wiper on my SUV. And it actually froze and stuck to the windshield. And when the ice melted, the wiper fell off. The arm separated and it snapped because it must have expanded and contracted and it cracked it right in half and fell completely off the car. So, it just goes to show you if you don’t release these from the window, that can happen.
LESLIE: I mean it’s amazing. There’s so much to think about when it comes to the snow and the car and how to get the snow off the car. And along those lines, if you just have so much snow and you can’t reach it, why not use a long-handled broom? Now, that’s going to help you get the snow off the top of your car before you open the door. Because how many times do you open the door and then the snow falls right into the car?
And don’t forget: make sure you clear the snow around your headlights and taillights. It really helps. People can’t see you with the snow on there and it doesn’t always come off.
TOM: Oh, yeah. And by the way, if your door is frozen shut or the lock is frozen, here’s a trick: you can use WD-40 to free it up. You just squirt it into the lock, stick your key in there, wiggle it around a bit and it should start to move once again.
LESLIE: But don’t keep it in your car. Keep it in the house. This way, you can use it to get into your car.
Wendy in Florida is on the line with a question about the structure of her home. How can we help you?
WENDY: Yes. I’m restoring an old house. It’s about 100 years old and we’ve had to take up the kitchen floor. And we’ve taken – there’s layers of plywood and whatnot. And in order to get through it and get the rot out, whatever was gone down to the beams underneath the floor – now, the beams are 4×4 and they’re on 28 inches on center. And so I’m wondering – this needs more support and I’m wondering, can we put – instead of putting beams down in between the two so they’re parallel, can we put perpendicular ties across from those two and create boxes to support the floor?
TOM: Can you get underneath the existing floor joists?
WENDY: Well, it’s called “above grade.” And so there’s not that much space. You can get under there. It’s about to my side – to the ground.
TOM: Yep. So here’s the thing: you can’t change the direction of the beams because they usually go front to back for a reason. Typically, there’s a girder in the middle of the structure – the middle of the building somewhere. But if you want to support those beams because they’re sagging a bit, what you could do is you could put beams perpendicular to those underneath them. But those, of course, would have to be supported, as well. So I think your options are to put additional beams in in between this big, wide 28-inch gap or to put beams perpendicular underneath.
But if you put them underneath and you still have this wide gap, the other problem you’re going to have is supporting the plywood now or whatever you’re going to need for that. So, in that case, you would have to put some perpendicular spacers in between the beams but those are not – they don’t have any structural value. All that’s going to do is going to give you some additional surface to support whatever kind of floor you put on top of it. Does that make sense?
WENDY: OK. That answers my question.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, do you feel like your home improvement headaches are on repeat? Well, we’ve got tips to help you avoid the how-to déjà vu by doing them right the first time. How about that? We’ll share that and more, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now. We’d love to help with your how-to project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Ready for a basement makeover that you can enjoy all winter long? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
LESLIE: Alright. And you’ve got two great pros right here willing to help you out, free of charge. So post your questions online, just like Deborah in New York did. And she writes: “We just bought a house and would like to paint the walls and finish the wood floors before we move in. What do you advise we do first? The floor guy says he should do his work first and the painter says the painting should go first. Who’s right?”
TOM: I’m sure they both want to be paid first.
LESLIE: I’m sure of it.
TOM: I don’t know how you – what you think about this, Leslie, but I would rather – like gravity being gravity, I’d rather paint the walls first. And this way, I can move ladders and pans of paint. And I’m still going to drop-cloth the floors; I’m not going to add to making them worse. But I just would rather do the walls first and have them completely done before I do the floors.
Now, the downside of that is that once you are doing the floors, especially if it’s hardwood floors and you’re sanding, you are going to get a bit of dust around.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s my thought.
TOM: But I think that’s manageable. You know, it’s going to happen. You can clean it up, you can depressurize the room when that’s happening. You make sure the equipment has good filtration on it. That is going to happen but I want the last thing to be that floor completely done. And this way, as the floor guys paint their ways out of the room – and you’re looking at a beautiful, new, shiny floor – I know that all I’ve got to do is let that dry, do a little more cleanup and we’re good to go.
LESLIE: Hmm. Now, I’m going to say it’s the opposite.
TOM: Alright. Well, why?
LESLIE: Because I feel like you’re right: if you’re really refinishing a hardwood floor, there is going to be dust everywhere. And I don’t care what you do, that dust is going to be everywhere. And I don’t want it on my newly painted walls, so I feel like I would do the floors and then cure it completely. And then I’d put down a rosin paper and maybe some thin board – luan, Masonite, something – cover those floors completely and then paint.
TOM: Yeah. And that’s a lot of work – you’re right – talking about laying down some sheets of luan or Masonite. But I guess I can see your point, too.
So I guess it’s really personal preference. You’ve got ours. Now, you can come up with your own.
LESLIE: We don’t always agree on everything here.
TOM: Well, it’s the classic Groundhog Day moment: you get out your tools to fix a problem and a short time later, it’s got to be done again. Leslie has got tips to help you stop that how-to déjà vu, on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. Fixing that same problem over and over and over again really is a drag. But if you address the root cause and do the job properly, you can bring an end to all of those vicious home improvement cycles.
Now, the next time you see some peeling paint, don’t just go ahead and slap another coat on it. Instead, strip away all the old paint with a paint scraper or a chemical product if you need. And then here’s the key, guys: apply a primer before reapplying that topcoat. That primer really is what’s going to make everything stick and stick for good.
Now, if your basement seems to spring a leak every time you fix the last one, there’s a good chance the real issue here is poor drainage. So, grade the soil away from your home’s foundation and make sure the gutters release water about 4 to 6 feet away from your exterior walls, for a much drier below-grade space.
And put away that caulk gun once and for all. If the caulk between your shower tiles keeps cracking or breaking, fill the bathtub with water before you fill in that caulk one final time. And keep it there until it cures. The weight of the water is going to expand the gap that you need to fill, which later contracts for a tighter, longer-lasting fit.
TOM: Great ideas.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, one of those appliances that once you own it, you’ll never want to be without again is your trash disposer. But when it gets jammed and stops working, well, there’s actually a super-easy way to get it back in action. We’ll share that tip on the very 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 2017 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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