TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Welcome to the program. We are here to help you with questions about your money pit. We know you’ve got one. Now, money pit for us is sort of a term of endearment, right? I mean you love your house but it does require a lot of money, sometimes, to take care of it. And we’re here to help you spend that wisely and get the job done once, get it done right and not have to do it again so you can enjoy more of the beautiful summer weather we’ve been having.
Coming up on today’s show, do you want a new look for any room? Well, one way to do that in a weekend is by updating the lighting. We’re going to have tips on how you can install energy-efficient pendant lights for an easy do-it-yourself addition.
LESLIE: And also ahead, do you want to spend your free time at the beach or lake and not cleaning your house? Well, we’re going to have some tips to help you hire a professional housekeeper to keep your place shining even while you’re working on that summer tan.
TOM: And you can’t see it, smell it or taste it but radon is not something you want in your house. It’s a gas that can cause cancer and it’s found in 1 of every 15 households. We’re going to tell you how to make sure yours isn’t one of them.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear what you are working on at your money pit. What are you doing this summer weekend? We are here to lend a hand. No matter what that project is, one of us has done it. One of us knows how to figure it out. And if not, we’ve got a great Money Pit community to help us do so. So give us a call. Let us know what you are working on, right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get to it. Who’s up first?
LESLIE: Beverly in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
BEVERLY: Well, I have a house that’s just been built a year-and-a-half ago but I have a covered patio. And my builder put cedar posts out there. The rest of my trim is all white. So I wanted to cover or paint the cedar but he’s telling me I can’t do it because I’ll rot them out. And I – that doesn’t sound right to me but I’m not sure.
TOM: So, what would you – in a perfect world, Beverly, what would you like to see on those cedar posts? Would you like them to be white and match the rest of the house?
BEVERLY: Yeah. All of my trim is white and so I would rather them be white. They’re a year-and-a-half old now, so they’re starting to turn this cedar look and get all dark.
TOM: Right. Are they kind of decorative?
TOM: OK. See, here’s what I would do. The first thing I would – I’m going to recommend a staining process. So, the first thing you’re going to do is prime them with an oil-based primer or a solvent-based primer. And then you’re going to stain them and I would use a solid-color stain. And the solid-color stain is not going to look like paint, so it won’t tend to peel; it’ll fade over time. But it’ll soak in really nicely. And you can get a white stain – a solid-white stain – and it’ll look quite attractive.
Painting wood does not cause it to rot; it prevents it from rotting.
LESLIE: It just requires a lot of repainting.
BEVERLY: Yeah. He said if I covered it or painted them, that it causes the moisture to pull to the base and then they rot.
TOM: I would disagree with that. I think if you stain them, you’ll find that they’re quite attractive and that the moisture will wick in and out just fine.
BEVERLY: Good. Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.
TOM: Good luck with that project. You’re very welcome.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rob in Iowa whose basement walls seem to be coming in on themselves. What is going on at your money pit?
ROB: I’ve got some basement walls that are heaving in and I need a permanent solution that’s not going to bankrupt me.
ROB: Basically, what I’ve got is I’ve got some wall anchors that have been installed about seven years ago. I’ve been keeping those tight and the walls are still heaving in. We had a drought here in Iowa last summer and this year, we’ve had quite a bit of rain. So, walls are bowing in up to 2 inches in places and I’m getting a little worried.
TOM: Wow. Yeah, if your walls are bowed in 2 inches, Rob, unfortunately you’ve got a very serious problem on your hands that is not only impacting the structure of your home but also the value of your home. And if the walls have gotten that bad, we are well beyond the do-it-yourself-fix stage.
I can provide you some basic information about why this might be happening. Generally, the reason walls will heave is because you get a lot of water that collects around the foundation perimeter, especially if you don’t have terrific drainage. If the drainage is flat, if the gutters are dumping near the corners of the foundation, which is where most gutter contractors leave them, that water collects into the soil. And in the wintertime, it freezes, expands and then slowly but surely sort of ratchets that wall out.
Now, if yours have gone to the point where they’re 2 inches out of plumb, this is a problem. So, the way I would address this – and I would do it very specifically and very strategically – is as follows: I would retain a structural engineer to examine the problem and specify a repair. It’s very important that you just don’t call a contractor for this. Because if they don’t have the pedigree of an engineering degree, it’s not going to hold water when it comes time to sell your house.
So I would hire an engineer to analyze the problem and design a solution. And you could talk cost concerns with your engineer and options and all of that. Once you have that plan in place, at that point in time you can make the decision as to whether or not you’re going to do it yourself, which may be more possible with a plan than not, or whether or not you’re going to hire a pro.
But however you get it done, the third and most important final step is to have the engineer come back and examine the work and then give you an additional letter that says, “Yes, I identified this problem and I designed a fix. And I inspected the fix and it’s done correctly and there’s nothing further to worry about.”
Because ultimately, if you go to sell your house, the buyers are going to bring up this issue. You want to have that sort of pedigree in your hand so that you can prove that it was a repair that, yes, was structural in nature but was repaired correctly. Does that make sense?
ROB: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a very interesting approach. I have one kink to throw at you and that is the wall-anchor system that’s installed was warrantied. And the owner of that company came out and said that he’ll warranty the system and he’s willing to put in three more anchors which, in my mind, is an admission of liability. Do I let him do that or do I need to get the structural engineer first?
TOM: Is this wall-anchor contractor a structural engineer?
ROB: I doubt it.
TOM: Stop the repair process. Get the engineer. If the engineer thinks that’s a good idea, then that’s a different story. But warrantying doesn’t necessarily mean we put more in. If the product failed and your walls continued to bow as a result, then his liability, depending on where these walls were when he first put the system in and guaranteed that they were going to stop the walls from buckling in, his liability could be significant.
But I would get the engineer in first and let’s get some good, impartial, expert advice here from somebody that does not have a system to sell you. I don’t want you to get advice from somebody – sometimes, contractors give you advice from people that – because they sell the system. “Yeah, you’ve got a problem? I’m just the guy to fix it for you, you know?” And that’s not really good, expert, independent advice.
So go to the engineer first, Rob, and then you can deal with the contractor issue after you have the information.
ROB: OK, great. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Susan in California is on the line and needs some help with a driveway makeover. What’s going on at your money pit?
SUSAN: I’m so glad you said the money pit, because that’s exactly what it is. And now it’s the driveway, about 1,200 square feet. And it’s been – it’s about 38 years old and it needs something else done. And I really don’t want to resurface it with blacktop. What are my options?
TOM: So it’s an asphalt driveway now? That’s what you’re starting with?
SUSAN: Yes, yes.
TOM: Yeah. Listen, I’ve got news for you, Susan: a 38-year-old roadway needs to be replaced. And that’s exactly what you have. Whether it’s a road that goes down the street or a road that’s a highway, nothing lasts 38 years. And if you’ve gotten 38 years out of that driveway, it’s time for a new one. And sure, you can keep slapping sealer on it and patching the cracks and all of that but at that age, it’s got to go.
SUSAN: What’s the best way? Do they just remove the whole thing and then start from scratch? Or what’s the best way to go?
TOM: I think that’s the best way. In most cases, that’s the best way. You can resurface it. But if you want to make sure that the base is really solid, you would take off the old. They would put a new base down, they would compact it with machines so it’s really, really solid and then they would apply new asphalt on top of that.
I would make sure I got a specification as to exactly how many inches of this material they’re going to put down so that you can compare apples to apples when you’re looking at different contractors. But I think that’s going to be your best solution.
SUSAN: OK. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Susan. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call. Let us know what you are working on with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Still to come, get light where you need and add interest to any room with pendant lighting. We’re going to give you advice on styles and installation when The Money Pit continues.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Welcome back to the program on a beautiful summer weekend. If you’re working on your house, you’re in exactly the right place because we’re here to help. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. You’ll never have to worry about overpaying for a job. Just use their True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. Then get matched with top-rated pros, read reviews, get quotes and book appointments, all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Paul in New York is on the line. What can we do for you at your money pit?
PAUL: I’d like to finish my basement, make it a more usable area. But I have a problem with some water leakage at times. I believe the construction is called a “floating slab” where there’s a weep channel around the edge of the basement that goes into a sump pit.
TOM: Tell me, when do you seem to have the biggest problem with signs of water coming in or actual water coming in?
PAUL: Heavy rains.
TOM: Alright. So I’ve got great news for you. You don’t need anything more than some minor adjustment in the grading and drainage outside.
Whenever you have water that leaks and after a heavy rain, that’s always caused by exterior drainage conditions that are just not right. And usually, it’s as simple as not having the right gutter set up around the house. You need to have gutters. They need to be clean and free-flowing and the downspouts – and this is where most people get it wrong – have to be extended a minimum of 4 to 6 feet away from the house. Because those first few feet at the foundation perimeter are where water collects and saturates and then goes down into those basement walls and shows up as a leak inside. So I want you to look at that very, very carefully.
The second thing is the angle of the soil at the foundation perimeter has to pitch away from the house. And it has to do so with soil that can drain. Sometimes we see people that pile up a lot of mulch around the house or they have a lot of topsoil around the house or they have sort of like a brick edging around some landscaping that kind of acts as a retention pond and it holds the water against the house. You basically want to move that water. That first few feet around the house, move it away. Get it going so that it drains away. It can drop about 6 inches over the first 4 feet. But after that, it can move slower with a gentler slope away from the rest of the house.
Those two things will solve the vast majority of flooded crawlspaces and flooded basements in this country. The only time you need to install a very expensive, sub-slab drainage system is when you have a high water table. And that behaves differently. When you have a high water table, water comes up very slowly. Generally, in the winter it’s typically higher and then goes down very slowly. And you can actually physically see that water sometimes ponding in the sump pit or something like that. But when you have rain or snow melt and you get water in your basement, that’s because of drainage and that’s really easy to fix.
Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’d like an easy weekend update at your money pit, adding new pendant lighting can do just that.
Now, pendant lights, they can be sleek. They add style and drama to your existing lighting plan. And if you’re just swapping out an old fixture, this can be an electrical project that you can easily do yourself. But if the existing wires are brittle or maybe you need to run new electricity to that location, it truly is best to call in an electrician.
TOM: Now, the cool thing about pendant lighting is that it’s suspended from the ceiling. And it brings the light down to exactly pretty much where you need it. That’s why they’re great for countertops. There’s a lot of variety of sizes and shapes and styles and they range pretty much from a 4-inch diameter cylinder to a massive, 30-inch dome. They’re all called “pendant lights” but they’re very, very effective and they’re very easy to fit in any type of décor style.
LESLIE: And you know what? They can also be very affordable to buy and run.
Now, a 4-inch, colored mini-pendant from your local home center, those can start around $25. A lot of them use LED bulbs, so they’re not going to drive up your electrical cost. And you can use them to light up a workspace, a kitchen-island prep zone or maybe you’ve got a desk in your home office. And they also can cast a warm glow in a dining room or an entryway. So you’ll see that pendants are so versatile, in the look and the style and the ambiance that they create in your home, that you’re really going to get a lot of use out of them.
TOM: Yeah. And one way to make sure you can really get a lot of flexibility out of that ambiance is to make sure that you install them on dimmers. Because this way, you know, at night you can have them down to sort of a warm glow when you’re having dinner or maybe that party setting. Or if it gets really dark, you can just fire them up all the way to super bright.
So check them out: the pendant lights, LED bulbs. They look great, they save you money and they’re really going to add to your space.
888-666-3974. Whether you are tackling a décor dilemma or a remodeling project, we are here to help at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Marcie in Nebraska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MARCIE: We have a 15,000 BTU. It’s a window air conditioner.
MARCIE: And it keeps popping our breaker.
TOM: Hmm. Yep.
MARCIE: It does it in the heat of the afternoon. If we have it on the fan, it won’t pop it.
TOM: Yeah, yeah.
MARCIE: Is it the window, the air conditioner or the breaker?
TOM: No, the breaker’s doing its job, because you’re pulling too much power. Is this in a bedroom? Or where is this?
MARCIE: It’s a living room.
TOM: A living room. Yeah. In some houses, especially older houses, you have typically too much on that same circuit. You ought to really identify what else is on that circuit and see what you can reduce.
I have that happen once in a while in my house. We had – we used to have to put a window air conditioner in one room in it, because it was just fully exposed and just needed a little bit of help when central air wasn’t getting there. But I knew that if we vacuumed in that house, I had to plug the vacuum into the next room. Otherwise, I’d trip the breaker. So you need to figure out what else is on that.
MARCIE: Well, that’s the only thing that goes off.
TOM: And the other thing you could do is you could have an electrician figure out why that’s happening. You can – there’s a way to determine exactly how much power that unit is pulling and perhaps even run an additional circuit, just for that unit, that’s properly sized.
LESLIE: Yeah, dedicated specifically for that.
TOM: But the reason it happens with air conditioners is because when they first kick on, there is sort of a surge of electricity that it needs to get the compressor going. So that tends to push those breakers a bit. And then they do what they’re supposed to do – is turn off to prevent the wire from heating up. Does that make sense?
MARCIE: OK. Yeah.
TOM: Yep. So that’s why it’s happening.
MARCIE: So would it be benefit to put a higher breaker on it?
TOM: Well, it’s not just the breaker. You have to run the properly-sized wire for it.
TOM: So you have to run a new circuit, OK?
TOM: You can’t put two – you can’t put a larger breaker on it because then you’re defeating the purpose of the breaker.
MARCIE: That’s what I needed to know. Thank you.
TOM: Well, you’re welcome. Good luck.
LESLIE: Brice in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
BRICE: I was considering using a polyethylene sheet to replace or repair the ceiling in my bathroom. And I wanted to know if that’s a good substitute for wallboard and what material to seal it up with.
TOM: When you say a polyethylene sheet, do you mean sheet plastic?
BRICE: I’ve used some of the material on the fascia board on the outside. I was told this came in a sheet.
TOM: It’s like a waterproof paneling, in essence. Is that what you’re saying?
BRICE: Yes, a panel. Yes.
TOM: I mean I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use it if you like the look of it. It’s not necessary. You could make the repair with standard green board, which is a water-resistant drywall. Did you have to tear open the ceiling for some reason? Why are you replacing it?
BRICE: Well, we had a roof leak and …
TOM: The easiest thing to do would be to put a second layer, even if the drywall below is damaged – the existing drywall is damaged. But as long as it’s not swollen or deformed in any way, I would just put another layer of drywall right over that. That’s the easiest, fastest way to make that repair. And then you would tape, prime and spackle those corners between the two. This way, it looks normal because just putting a piece of plastic paneling up there, you’d have to trim it out. It’s going to look always a bit odd because that’s kind of a weird configuration.
I would just try to get it back to where it was. I would put a piece of water-resistant drywall up there. I would spackle it – three coats – prime it and paint the whole thing and you’ll never know that the leak ever happened.
BRICE: Very good. It helped.
TOM: Happy we could help you out, Brice. Good luck with that project. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Up next, do you want to free up some time so that you can actually enjoy the summer instead of spending the whole time cleaning up your house? Well, a professional housekeeping service can definitely help. We’re going to walk you through how to find and hire the best one for your home, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com, next.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on a beautiful July weekend. We are here to help you with your home improvement projects. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find top-rated home service pros and book appointments online all for free.
LESLIE: Britney in Michigan is on the line with a foundation question. What is going on at your money pit?
BRITNEY: We had bought an old farmhouse back in July of last year that is just over 2,100 square feet. It was actually two homes combined into one. The back half of the house was built in the 1800s and has a cobblestone foundation. The back half of the house does not have a basement. It’s just a crawlspace. The previous owner had remodeled the house but in doing so, there was no support under any of the beams and the cobblestone is now – has been crumbling. And I guess what I’m asking is: what would be, you know, some ideas or the best way to go about replacing or repairing a cobblestone foundation that is so old?
TOM: OK. So the way you would repair a load-bearing foundation like that is the same, regardless of whether it’s brick or cobblestone or clay tile. And essentially, what it requires you do is to build temporary supports to hold up the house while that work is being done. In most cases, it’s a technique called “needle beaming.”
It’s called “needle beaming” because, basically, what the contractor will do is poke a hole in the foundation and then run beams through at strategic areas to be able to support pieces of the – or sections, I should say, of the exterior wall. And so they would run – imagine the holes being sort of poked through that foundation wall where a beam goes in and then there’s jacks on either end of it that lift up that piece of the wall. They don’t so much lift it up off the foundation as sort of take the pressure off the foundation. And then once it’s completely supported, then the foundation can be disassembled and rebuilt and put back together in that area.
It’s a pretty specialized work. It’s not the kind of thing that the average general contractor would do. And it is also probably something that you ought to have a structural engineer or an architect involved in. Because whenever you do major structural work like that, if you don’t have a licensed professional in it, it becomes a bit of a question mark – a big concern for people that are buying your house in the future. So if you get an engineer to design the repair and then have them inspect it after the fact, then you’ll know that it’s done right and you can present that documentation to any potential buyer in the future.
BRITNEY: Now, since we bought this home under a rural-development loan, which is obviously an FHA loan, there was an FHA inspector that came out. We received all the pictures with that. They have – pictures of the crawlspace were never included. So, she did not inspect the crawlspace. I don’t know – I don’t think that was ever passed. There’s literally just a landscape rock under the middle main beam of the back half of the house and that was literally all that was supporting it.
I had been given an idea that one thing to maybe temporarily, at least, stop it from sinking any farther would be to build almost like if you were to rip up the floor and set almost footers – cement footers, if you will – under each joist in almost a grid pattern.
TOM: Yeah. Listen, I see a lot of that. I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector. I’ve seen a lot of that. And all that DIY stuff is fine. Usually, it doesn’t cause any harm but it’s not the answer to your problem.
The least that you should do is get professional advice, even if you don’t fix everything right now – is get professional advice by somebody that can do a real inspection of that area and tell you exactly what’s going to be required. And then, potentially, you could break up parts of that project and do it in stages. But I wouldn’t wing it on some advice from maybe some contractors that passed through or something you looked up online.
You really need to have a professional look at this to make sure you’re doing it right. You want to do it once, do it right and not do it again. And you’re just kind of swinging in the wind right now if you do it without that kind of advice.
BRITNEY: I had heard that possibly there were recommendations that you could maybe give for people.
TOM: Well, sure. The other option, if you can’t find an architect or an engineer and you just want to get another opinion – and it would probably be a little less expensive, although it’s not the kind of a professional that could actually design this for you.
But what you could do is hire a professional home inspector, a very experienced one at that, which you’ll find if you go to the American Society of Home Inspectors’ website, which is ASHI – A-S-H-I. – I think it’s .com or .org. And there’s a Find an Inspector tool there. So you could pop in your local zip code and find certified home inspectors there. And they should be ASHI-certified.
And perhaps one of those you could hire to do a partial inspection of this structure and maybe that pro could give you some sense of direction on what really needs to be done here. But I think, ultimately, you’re going to end up talking to an engineer, OK?
BRITNEY: Yep. I’m just still floored that the inspector …
TOM: Yeah. Let me talk to you about that. Don’t feel too bad. What happened to you is pretty typical. FHA inspections are not the same as professional home inspectors. They are very cursory, more like an appraiser inspection than one that will really comment on the structural integrity of the building.
Those inspectors typically don’t have the same kind of training or experience. They use checklists: the light switch works, the light switch doesn’t work. They’ll never open up a panel to see if there’s burned wires in it. They’re probably not even going to fire up heating systems and cooling systems. They may not even open every window and door in the house.
So, those types of inspections, although people think that they’re really thorough, they’re really not. They’re extremely cursory. And it doesn’t surprise me in the least that that inspector would not go in a crawlspace. I’m sure they would also not go in an attic and even not go on a roof. But those are things that a professional home inspector would do.
BRITNEY: So then that would’ve been on us to get a professional home inspector.
TOM: That would’ve been on you. That would’ve been your choice. That’s right. Mm-hmm. Yeah, your expense and your choice.
So, I would start now if you haven’t had a good thorough inspection of that house. Maybe just have one done and see where you’re at. And it would include the foundation issues, as well. And you can really come up with a priorities list of to-dos that you could plan for moving forward, OK?
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you love a clean house but you feel stressed when it gets a bit out of control, hiring a housekeeper can definitely bring a sense of relief and calm and free you up to do other activities. But it’s important to find someone who is trustworthy. We’re going to have tips on how to do just that, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you’ve got to consider the advantages of using a sole proprietor or hiring a larger cleaning company before you commit to a housekeeper.
Now, many housekeepers out there do work as sole proprietors of their own business. But you might feel more comfortable with a larger cleaning company that hires their own employees.
Now, if you hire a larger cleaning company, they’re going to have enough staff to cover your needs. However, turnover is high so you might not get the same person every single week. And that’s not something that’s going to happen if you hire an independent worker. You get the same folks every single time you have them, for the most part.
Now, either way, you have to make sure that the company or the worker is licensed and insured and bonded. And being bonded here is a super-important part if the housekeeper breaks or damages something in your home, while having insurance is going to cover the housekeeper if they get hurt while on the job in your house.
TOM: Now, next, in either case you need to do a very good interview with the candidates. You want to be thorough. Get a detailed job history. And this is important so this way, you can call those they worked for in the past for references.
It’s also smart to run a criminal history, something that some of the larger cleaning companies may do for you.
LESLIE: Now, when it comes to paying your housekeeper, you’ve got to decide if you’re going to pay based on a flat fee or by the hour. And once you and your housekeeper have a good understanding of what should be done, a flat fee is probably going to work out best. Your home will also get done quicker and you don’t have to worry about the workers stretching out the hours just to earn more. Which, if you’ve got a good relationship, that’s not going to happen. But these are all things you’ve got to kind of figure out in the beginning and see where you land.
That’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com. With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.
TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire the best local pros.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, you can’t see it, smell it or taste it but radon gas is not something you want in your house. We’re going to tell you what you need to know about how to find and eliminate radon, when The Money Pit continues.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What are you working on? Take a look around your room, around your yard. If it’s a project that you have on the to-do list, give us a call because we are here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.
LESLIE: That’s right. It doesn’t matter what the project is, they make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros.
TOM: And there are no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use. That’s HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Doug in Florida is on the line with a question about a patio. What’s going on at your money pit?
DOUG: I’ve got a concrete deck around a large – or deck area around my pool. And when it rains, wherever I’ve got patio furniture, it creates rust stains. And also, where the ladders and the handrails come out of the pool, there’s always rust stains around that.
And I use a product from Home Depot called Goof Off that works great temporarily. It goes away immediately but then it always seems to come back with time – in a couple weeks’ time. I’m wondering if there’s a permanent solution to get rid of those rust stains.
TOM: So this is from rain? It’s not from the sprinklers?
DOUG: Well, it’s a combination. I’ve got it close to the pool where the sprinklers don’t hit and then I’ve got it on the edges from the sprinklers, also.
TOM: It’s pretty common when it happens because of the sprinklers and the only way to deal with that is to put some sort of a water-filtration system on it that’s going to keep that iron out of the water. So it’s basically iron in the groundwater that is causing that rust deposit. And so it’s no surprise that it’s coming back in two weeks, because it just continues to re-accumulate.
In terms of the rust that occurs around the furniture or around the pool ladder, I’m thinking that that’s probably because water is collecting there, just draining down and kind of sitting in that area. That’s why it looks more obvious, Doug. Because I don’t think it’s rust that’s actually forming in the furniture or the pool ladder, because those would not be metals that are going to rust.
So I think this is mostly what is actually in that groundwater that’s landing on that surface and causing this rust-stain deposit to happen. And you’re right, Goof Off does work really super well for that.
DOUG: And there’s no real permanent solution then for it, huh? Just keep using that.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. I mean you can’t stop Mother Nature unless – with the sprinkler system, like I said, if you were to put an iron-based filter in it, that would stop the iron deposits from getting through the water and onto the patio surface. So that would have a big impact on it. But of course, there’s an expense associated with that.
DOUG: Right. Is that a filter that goes on the pump that comes from the well or …?
TOM: Yes, exactly.
DOUG: OK. OK.
TOM: Yep. Yep. Between the well and the heads, basically. Mm-hmm.
DOUG: Should I – is that something I can do myself or …?
TOM: You know, it’s not terribly difficult if you are pretty handy with plumbing projects.
DOUG: Yeah, not so much, so …
TOM: You might want to have your sprinkler pro do that.
LESLIE: At least he’s honest. Doug’s honest.
DOUG: Gotcha. Well, great, guys. Thanks for your – thanks for answering my question.
TOM: Alright? Alright. Yeah. Good luck with that. You’re on the right track. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you recently bought your home and you had an inspection, you may have opted to have that home inspector do a radon test, as well. Now, if this isn’t sounding the least bit familiar, it may be that you never had one done and perhaps you should.
LESLIE: Now, radon creeps in through the cracks and the gaps in your basement floor and your basement walls. And it’s more common than you might think. In fact, 1 in every 15 homes in the United States is believed to have elevated radon levels.
TOM: Yes. And they can even have it on homes that are on crawlspaces or on slabs. But the good news is it’s easy to test for. You can order a quick and easy charcoal-adsorption kit online and use that to test for radon in your house. It’s not expensive and you can figure out what the radon levels are inside your home. Takes about a week and you’ll get a report back with those numbers.
Now, if it comes up high, you can install a radon-mitigation system. And that uses a fan to basically pull radon from beneath the house and vent it safely to the outside. So, not something to panic over. Just something to be aware of and find out what that level is inside your house.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, are you getting tired of your tile kitchen floor? Well, apparently Debbie in Texas is, as well. We’re going to have options for Debbie and everybody else that would like to change over their tile, after this.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What are you working on this beautiful summer weekend? Inside or out, we’d love to help you get those projects done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.
LESLIE: Alright. And you can always post your question at MoneyPit.com, just like Debbie from Texas did. Now, Debbie writes: “I have white glossy tile in my kitchen. I hate it. It shows everything. The tile is in good shape. Is there any way to color or texture it?”
Now, I wonder if Debbie is talking about flooring, backsplash. There’s a lot of different things you can do and depending on its location will vary the process.
But I think you’re right: white tile, not always the best choice for a kitchen space. If it’s the floor, you might think of doing a different flooring option. Because I wouldn’t want to put anything on that tile itself, because it’s going to chip off, flake off, look damaged. It’s not going to be great and it’s not going to be durable on the floor.
A good thing is you can change the grout color to just sort of give you a little bit of different contrast there. And that could be enough, because maybe it’s just the grout that’s really dirty that’s bothering you. So you can go with a dark gray or a black grout and really make it have a graphic look for the floor.
Either way, think about exploring other flooring options. Laminate tile, other things can go right on top of that glossy tile. And you might be able to make a big change for not a lot of money.
TOM: Well, if you own an older house or you’re thinking of buying one, you may wish its walls could talk. Well, no talking walls are actually needed to learn the history of your home. Leslie has details, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? Knowing your older home’s exact age is really valuable since homes that are built in the same era tend to face similar problems.
Now, with the help of an architecture book or two, most homeowners can narrow their home down to a core style and time period. And all it took was looking in some great books at some awesome houses and that could help a lot.
Now, public records, they also hold key information about your home. Researching public records, that’s an especially good idea if you’re thinking of buying a home and you want to know what changes have taken place over the years before you buy that house. You can visit your local building department, the tax assessor or the Registrar of Deeds office to find the deeds, maps, plot plans, even building permits for that property, all of which could fill in a piece of the home’s history. Really valuable information if you’re thinking of buying a house.
Now, maps that have been used by insurance companies, some of those go back to the mid-1800s. And those are a great way to find out more of the house itself. They’re used to catalog buildings in the area, give excellent descriptions of size, layout, materials used. All of this is very valuable for you so you know what’s going on, what that maintenance is.
Now, once you’re in the house, you can actually learn a lot just by observing the materials that a home was built with. For example, knob-and-tube wiring, steel plumbing pipes. Those were common from the 1900s to 1940, whereas small fuse-type electrical systems and plaster-and-lath walls, that’s more common from 1940 to 1960.
And finally, really take a good look around. You might be lucky enough to find dates stamped on plumbing fixtures, like a toilet or a sink. If these are the original fixtures, you can bet that your home was built just around the date that these things were made.
So there’s a lot of stuff that you can figure out just by exploring the house, visiting the building department. Knowing your home’s past can actually help you plan greatly for that home’s future. And if you’re thinking of buying, it can really give you an educated estimate into what’s going to be needed as that house continues to age. All good stuff to know.
TOM: Good advice. Coming up next time on The Money Pit, if you are looking for a nice finishing touch to your kitchen, we’re going to have advice for designing and installing a beautiful, new kitchen backsplash to spruce up your space.
But for now, that’s all the time we have. We hope you enjoy the rest of this beautiful summer weekend. If you’ve got a question and could not get through on the show today, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to our social media pages or on our website at MoneyPit.com.
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 2019 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.)