Great Grills for Sizzling Summer Meals #0703172
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with your summer home improvement project. What’s on your to-do list? You need to step up the A/C? Thinking about doing a painting project inside your house? Maybe you’ve got a job to do outside to improve your outdoor living space? Whatever is on your to-do list, slide it right over to ours by picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Let’s get right to it. The summer-grilling season is in full swing. And according to a new survey, more and more Americans are expanding their outdoor-cooking possibilities by picking up more than one grill. I mean this really gives you the opportunity to prepare your foods in so many different ways. We’re going to have the details on this trend and recommendations for an all-in-one grill that gives you all those options without buying multiple appliances.
TOM: Plus, building codes exist to keep your family safe but only if you or your contractor follow them. We’re going to have updates on how to avoid the three most commonly violated codes, just ahead.
LESLIE: Plus, if you give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community section at MoneyPit.com, we’ve got an amazingly perfect summer product that we’re giving away this week. It’s the Vision Cadet Kamado Charcoal Grill. It has a perfectly portable size and it gives you the freedom to grill, sear and bake just about anywhere your heart desires. And it’s worth over 400 bucks.
TOM: Wow. Plus, to help you enjoy better-tasting water all summer long, The Home Depot has hooked us up with a bunch of great water-quality solutions to give away. And this hour, we’re featuring the PUR Ultimate 11-Cup Pitcher with LED and Lead-Reduction Filter worth almost 35 bucks.
If you want to win it, you’ve got to be in it. So pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question, right now, to the Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Tell us about it, Deb.
DEBBIE: Well, we were clearing out some brush and we noticed that on the garage finish (ph), I saw that it went to – it’s on the house. And my question is: before I buy a power washer, will a power washer remove the algae and will the algae come back?
TOM: Yes and yes.
LESLIE: Yes and yes, exactly.
TOM: The pressure washer will remove the algae and it will come back again and again and again.
TOM: What you want to do is not pressure-wash it. You want to use a product called Spray & Forget, which is essentially an algaecide. And once you spray it on this algae, it will basically kill the algae, stop it from coming back. And because it has sort of a residual effect – just keep in mind that it doesn’t happen instantly. It basically goes on there and kills the algae. And then over the next week to couple of weeks, you’ll see it start to fall off and wash off the house, naturally, by itself. And the best part is that it’s not going to harm your plants.
DEBBIE: Yeah. My husband thought of using bleach and I wasn’t for that at all, you know.
LESLIE: Well, the bleach will work and it will kill it. It still will come back but it will also kill all of the plants and everything else around.
DEBBIE: Exactly. Exactly what I thought, too.
DEBBIE: Right. How do you apply this Spray & Forget? Is it in a bottle or something with a trigger?
TOM: Yep. They have a bottle. In fact, they have a bottle that has a built-in sort of nozzle where you just hook up the hose and turn the valve on and away you go.
DEBBIE: OK. Awesome. Alright (inaudible at 0:03:56).
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-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.
And we are taking your calls, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor where it’s easy to find top-rated local home improvement pros for any home project. Just go to HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. Do you love to grill? And do you love to do that just about anywhere? Well, if so, now is a really good time to give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community section at MoneyPit.com. We’re giving away a Vision Cadet Kamado Charcoal Grill from The Home Depot. It’s got a perfectly portable size that gives you the freedom to grill, sear and even bake just about anywhere your heart desires. And it’s a prize worth over 400 bucks.
TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us or post your question now.
LESLIE: Making good homes better. I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: Pick up the phone and give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and even book those appointments online, for free. So give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: And if you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we are giving away an amazing summertime product. We’ve got the Vision Cadet Kamado Grill.
It’s a charcoal grill that features superior ceramic-grill construction and it’s going to give you effortless starting, efficient heat circulation and precise temperature controls. You can’t always bring the party to the grill, right? But with the Vision Grills Cadet, you can bring the grill to just about any party because it’s totally portable. It gives you the freedom to grill, sear and bake just about anywhere your heart desires.
It’s available at The Home Depot and HomeDepot.com. It’s worth over $400 but it’s going to go out to one lucky listener drawn at random. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
BOB: Yes, I have a faulty garage-door opener, diagnosed by the manufacturer as having a bad circuit board. And the question I have to have is with regard to surge protection of garage-door openers. And there are two types that I can identify: one like you might use for your electronic equipment and a special garage-door opener made by a company (audio gap) Chamberlain, that has not only protection for the basic motor and the circuit board but also for the control panels.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, are you going to repair the garage-door opener and put the new circuit board in it, Bob?
BOB: Yes. Because it’s under warranty and they will replace the part for free but the labor I have to pay.
TOM: Yeah, that’s kind of an unusual thing to happen. I actually have never heard of a board like that failing but OK. It can happen.
So now what you want to do is – you’re thinking that that could have been caused by an electrical surge and you want to protect from that?
BOB: Most people I talk to do not have surge protectors on their garage-door opener.
TOM: No, most people don’t. And I would be hesitant to probably add one, because I think this is probably an anomaly. But I will say this: if you are going to put this on and Chamberlain makes one, I would definitely trust that brand. I know a lot about that brand and the people behind it and it’s a good brand. They make good products. And so, if they’re offering something that does this, I wouldn’t be hesitant to invest in it.
BOB: Yeah, that sounds good, yeah. All these little devices we have around the house – you have garage-door openers and microwaves and stuff like that – they’re all susceptible to surges of sorts.
TOM: But generally, you put surge protection on your main panel, not on – not necessarily on every appliance. And sometimes you put them on computers and that sort of thing but this is a very unusual circumstance. But if you’re going to put something on and Chamberlain makes a product for that, I would trust it.
BOB: OK. Very good. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
PAT: Well, I have a new heat pump and it’s not taking out the humidity. Of course, I live in a humid area but I just wondered. It’s supposed to take out the humidity, as I understood.
TOM: Well, not really. I mean air conditioners, in general – central air conditioners, which is essentially what a heat pump is – are not designed to be dehumidifiers. They do dehumidify by virtue of the fact that they’re cooling the air but they’re not as effective as other forms of dehumidifiers.
There’s a couple of other ones that you could consider, one of which is called a “whole-home dehumidifier.” And that’s built into the HVAC system. It would be built into the duct system. And that can take out about 90 pints of water a day.
There’s another type of stand-alone dehumidifier. In fact, I just put one of these in my own house and I thought it was absolutely terrific. It’s by Santa Fe and it’s a small dehumidifier that installs – in my case, I put it in my basement. And it actually is suspended from the ceiling, in an unfinished part of the basement. And it’s only 12x12x22.
And it takes out 70 pints of water a day. And it’s really neat. Once I had it up for an hour or so, I went down there and you can just see this pretty strong stream of water dripping out of it. And all that water used to be in the air and now it’s no longer there.
So, you need to do some dehumidification and I think that you’ll find that that will do the trick, Pat.
PAT: OK. What is the average humidity supposed to be in a house?
LESLIE: Thirty to fifty percent?
TOM: Well, yeah, I was going to say around 40. So we’re in the same neighborhood.
TOM: And if you put a good dehumidifier in, that will be set up to a humidistat so that you’ll always know what the humidity is.
LESLIE: And it’ll come on as it’s needed.
TOM: Right, exactly.
PAT: OK. Alrighty. Well, I thank you so much.
TOM: Good luck, Pat. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’ve ever grabbed a glass of tap water only to notice that maybe it doesn’t taste as clear or perhaps as refreshing as you like, adding a water filter to your sink can actually be a very easy and effective solution.
Now, there are a wide variety of products out there that can work and most are pretty simple to install.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. You know, GE has a system called the GE Dual-Flow Water-Filtration System that we really like because it gets installed under your kitchen-sink cabinet. And it’s operated by a filtration controller, which is kind of like a valve that turns the filtration on and off. It’s mounted right on the sink, it’s got a really beautifully clean and modern look to it and it even has a built-in filter-replacement indicator light.
Now, that’s going to remind you when it’s time to actually replace that water filter. Because if you’re not having a clean water filter on the filter itself, it’s really not doing its job.
TOM: Yeah. And the system’s also NSF-certified, which is going to help you reduce chlorine taste and odor and select pharmaceuticals and VOCs, as well as lead and other contaminants. And installing the system, it’s pretty straightforward. And it has a twist-and-lock design, so replacing those filters every six months is pretty easy and it doesn’t require any tools.
The GE Dual-Flow Water-Filtration System is another one of the great water-quality solutions offered by The Home Depot and retails for $127. You’ll find this system in store, as well as online at HomeDepot.com.
JERRY: The second-floor master, we want to convert into a movie room. However, it’s over our son’s bedroom. He’s six years old and what I’ve noticed is the volume, there’s like no sound barrier between the first and second floor. So, when I hear my wife reading him a bedtime story, I can hear it very plainly upstairs.
TOM: And that’s typical because there’s no insulation in those walls, so you will get some sound transmission. If you want to try to soundproof those walls or the ceiling, there is a number of ways to do that.
There’s a type of drywall that you can apply, as a second layer, that will be quieter than the traditional type of drywall. It’s called QuietRock. To do that, you’d probably have to take out the old drywall. The other issue is that wherever you have a gap in those walls for an electrical outlet or a light switch or anything like that, they have to be sealed properly to deliver the soundproofing.
And then there’s another way to do this where you put a second layer of regular drywall on the first layer that’s already there. You use a material called Green Glue, which provides sort of a sound-insulation barrier between the two rooms. So by improving the drywall between the surfaces, you can reduce some of the sound. But I don’t know. You said, “Movie room.” If it gets pretty loud in there, it’s probably not going to stop all of it.
JERRY: Yeah. We were kind of hoping to do some type of cork floor upstairs. I thought there may be something that would help.
TOM: Well, that’ll help a little bit but the drywall of the ceiling below is where you’ll really have a chance to stop it.
JERRY: OK. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your help and I love your show. We listen to it all the time.
TOM: Yeah. Good luck with that project and with all the work you’re doing to your new house. Call us back anytime, 888-666-3974.
BRIAN: I’ve got a crawlspace under my house of about 1,900 square feet. And we’ve noticed, the last several years – only in the summer, when we go away for the long weekend – we come back on a Sunday night and there’s a peculiar odor in the house. It’s a musty smell, if you will, but again only in the summertime.
TOM: Well, it’s typically more humid in the summer and you mentioned that it only happens when you’re away. So you have less air movement inside the house, doors are not being opened and closed. Is this crawlspace – under your house, does it have a vapor barrier over it, Brian?
BRIAN: Well, when the house was built 15 years ago, they put down some probably 4- or 6-mil sheeting but it wasn’t completely encapsulated. So, what I have done, in the last two weeks, is gotten some 15-mil poly and I have totally encapsulated under the house. I’ve lapped the pillars, I’ve sealed the walls and I’ve taped the seams.
TOM: So that’s great. So, something else that you can do is you could add an exhaust fan into that crawlspace and have it set to work off a humidistat. And the way you do that is they have crawlspace fans that are basically 8×16 inches, which is the same size as a concrete block. So in lieu of one of the vents, you install this fan in and you wire it to a humidistat, maybe mounted somewhere in the middle of the crawlspace. And then when the moisture gets really high, the humidistat will kick on the fan and it will draw some drier air through the crawlspace.
Now, the third thing that you can do is just to be very careful with your outdoor-drainage maintenance. So by that I mean make sure you have gutters on the house, that the downspouts are discharging away from the house and that the soil around the crawlspace perimeter slopes away from the house. By trying to keep that water away from those walls, you will reduce the amount of moisture that’s building up in the crawlspace. Does that make sense?
BRIAN: It does. And I think I’ve got all that covered at this point. What about a dehumidifier? I’ve been told that’s the next step.
TOM: You could put a dehumidifier in but I would rather see you put that simple ventilation fan hooked up to a humidistat on first. But if you want to put a dehumidifier in, I would take a look at the one by Santa Fe.
I actually just put a Santa Fe dehumidifier in my basement and it’s working really, really well. And I liked it because it’s not very big. It hangs from the rafters and it was only 12x12x22. So it was a pretty small unit, so it didn’t take up a lot of space. And it’s doing a really good job. The one I put in takes out 70 pints of water a day.
BRIAN: Wow. Well, as I take each step here, I’m trying to go and see if I’m doing everything correct. Could there be anything else that I’m missing or am I assuming that the smell is coming from under the house, up into the first floor?
TOM: Well, the only other typical source of smells in houses is plumbing smells. So, sometimes you get biogas in the drains of your sinks or your tubs that can cause an odor. But if you clean those out with an oxygenated bleach, that will keep that under control.
But if you have that kind of humid, musty smell, it may very well be coming from the crawlspace.
BRIAN: OK. So if I totally encapsulate it and either put a fan in and/or a dehumidifier, should I see results in just a couple weeks, maybe?
TOM: I think so, yes.
BRIAN: OK. Because that takes care of the air under the house, which affects the first floor, as well, I guess.
BRIAN: I will proceed with that.
TOM: Alright, Brian. Any time you have questions, you can reach us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Just ahead, the summer-grilling season is in full swing. And according to a new survey, more and more of us Americans are expanding our outdoor-cooking possibilities by picking up more than one grill. This way, why not enjoy multiple preparation techniques?
TOM: Yep. We’ll have the details on this new trend and tips on grills that can give you all the cooking options in one device, 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: Well, the summer-grilling season is in full swing. And according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, more and more Americans are expanding their outdoor-cooking possibilities by picking up more than one grill. And this way, you can enjoy multiple preparation techniques.
LESLIE: Well, whether you want to update the grill you have now or expand to grilling greatness by picking up a second or even third to add to your outdoor kitchen, there are a lot of fantastic options on the market. So with us to talk about that is Dan Parrilli, the grill expert for The Home Depot.
So, Dan, I guess that makes you the official grill master, too?
DAN: That’s correct.
TOM: Well, welcome to The Money Pit, Dan. Boy, there are so many options out there in grills right now, not only in gas grills but with the pellet grills and the grills for tailgating and camping. What are you guys most excited about? I mean in your job, you see all the grills that are coming out across the country and you get to pick the best ones to put in The Home Depot. So what are you guys really looking forward to?
DAN: Gas grill is by far the most popular in the industry still. And Weber, the brand leader in the industry, has a new lineup this year with their Genesis II Grill, featuring a new system with better warranties, so greater performance under the lid.
TOM: Yeah, I read about that system. You get very consistent cooking-surface temperature and that’s almost – that’s sort of the art of grilling, isn’t it? Trying to use – figure out where the hot spots and the cool spots are. But if you have that consistency, it’s just going to be a lot easier to plan your meal.
DAN: Absolutely. Takes it all out of there so it’s much easier to use for better performance.
TOM: And what about the Nexgrill? What have they got coming out? That’s your home brand, right? Isn’t that your store brand?
DAN: Yeah, Nexgrill is Home Depot’s exclusive brand. And they have their Evolution grill that we launched last year that gives you three cooking techniques in one. So you have infrared grilling, direct grilling and you can also smoke on that grill, all in one grill.
TOM: That’s a fantastic innovation because as we heard, more folks want to have multiple grills for multiple grilling opportunities. This is – maybe if you’re space limited, you could have it all in one with a Nexgrill Evolution.
DAN: Absolutely. Right? So, whether you’re buying one grill or two or three on your deck, this one solves it for you in one. And for those who just want to keep adding more, great.
LESLIE: Do you find, Dan, that gas grills – with the options available for so many different types of cooking and heat source, do you find that gas grills are still your number-one sellers?
DAN: Gas grill is, by far, our number-one seller. But what you see is there’s also strength with smokers and also wood-pellet grills. So, just as people want to do more, explore more, just enjoy the leisure of grilling, you’ve seen smokers index up. And wood pellets has been a big growth one for us, as well.
TOM: So for those that are not familiar with pellet grills, how do they differ from the grills that perhaps we’re used to every day: everyday charcoal or gas? What does that sort of add to the mix?
DAN: They’ll give you the same great flavor as a charcoal grill, right? You’re burning wood pellets. So that’s the greatness about it. And the other best thing that people aren’t aware of and where we’re growing awareness on is the ease to use. You literally plug this grill in, you turn it on with a button and you set it to your desired temperature and the grill does the remainder of the work for you. So it’s simple and great taste all in one grill.
LESLIE: That’s amazing.
Now, these grills don’t sound like they’re the ones I’m taking to, you know, the sporting events or the camping trips. What’s a good grill if I’m looking for something that’s portable, super great to cook with but easy to use?
DAN: Weber Q Portable Grill. We carry it in black in store, multiple colors online to match your college team or pro team or whatever setting you’re in. A great grill from a quality brand like Weber. Easiest one by far.
TOM: Now, in addition to the grills, there are more and more grilling accessories out there and including some smartphone accessories, which I think is really fun to be able to combine your grilling with your smartphone to tell you, I guess, when it’s time to perhaps turn the burgers.
DAN: Yeah. I’d say the one I use every time I’m cooking: Weber iGrill Bluetooth Thermometer. It takes all the guesswork out of grilling. So, literally, I will stick a thermometer in and this thermometer then links up to my phone. So I can just sit on my couch, watch what temperature my meat’s at and it’ll tell me when it’s done, right? So, no more guesswork.
LESLIE: So, Dan, I really feel like people are using their outdoor grills, really, as this extension of their kitchen and preparing things you wouldn’t normally think about for the grill, like pizzas and veggies and all kinds of fish. Are you finding that the evolution of accessories are really sort of stepping up to match these cooking needs?
DAN: By far. That’s been one of our biggest growth areas is accessories. So we have anything from a grill-cheese basket to just your burger stuffers to pizza accessories. But people continue to explore more and more outdoors with their grill. And they want to cook things that they’re seeing on the Cooking Channel. And it’s been huge for us and we’ve got over 200 accessories in store and we continue to add, to just complement how customers want to explore in their grill.
TOM: Fantastic. We’re talking to Dan Parrilli. He is the grill expert for The Home Depot.
And of course, Dan, now we’re almost to midsummer and folks have been using their grill now for a while. Good idea to do an occasional cleaning of that grill? And how would you advise they get started?
DAN: Absolutely clean for best performance. So a great cleaner we carry in store is Zep Heavy Duty Grill Cleaner. It’s a great cleaner just to get your grill wiped down inside and out. Getting inside the grill, a great thing to do is update that brush, right? Every year you should update that brush and obviously grill before and after use. Two of the easiest ways you keep that grill clean.
TOM: Great advice. Dan Parrilli, the grilling expert for The Home Depot, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. I bet all your buddies ask you what grill to buy, as well, right?
DAN: All the time. And thank you, guys, so much.
TOM: Hey, if you’d like more information on all of the grilling products that The Home Depot carries, head on over to HomeDepot.com or visit your local Home Depot store.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks, Dan. Man, now I want to get outside and cook some dinner.
Hey, guys, if you’ve got a home improvement question, we may very well have the answer. In fact, I know we’re going to have the answer. So give us a call now on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT, presented by HomeAdvisor.
TOM: You can get matched with background-checked home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free. No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.
LESLIE: And thanks to The Home Depot, we’ve got lots of water-quality solutions to give away, like the PUR Ultimate 11-Cup Pitcher with LED. And it features a lead-reduction filter worth 35 bucks.
TOM: And just another example of the many water-quality solutions available at The Home Depot that we are giving away, right here, on The Money Pit. So give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call now for the answer to your home improvement question, plus your chance to win a water-quality solution from our friends at The Home Depot.
TOM: Yeah. They really have any product that you’d need to improve the water in your home. And this hour, we’re featuring a pretty cool one. It’s the PUR Ultimate 11-Cup Pitcher and Filter.
PUR is the number-one selling brand in lead filtration on filters, certified to reduce lead.
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s certified to remove 99-percent lead. It also removes 96-percent mercury and 92 percent of certain pesticides that are found in water. And you can filter up to 30 gallons, which really is 480 8-ounce cups per filter. So that’s going to last you about two months.
You can find it at The Home Depot or HomeDepot.com and it’s a prize worth $57.
TOM: And we’ve got a water-quality solution just like that going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, building codes are out there to help make sure work that’s done to your home is safe but the system only works if you follow it. And I actually had a very unusual experience this week, Leslie, when I got a letter from my local building department.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah?
TOM: So about three years ago, we replaced the air-conditioning compressor on a condominium that we own and we rent it out. We’ve had it for many years. And my contractor got a building permit for that, as he should have, right? But apparently, he never got a final inspection. So I got a letter this week about my 2013 open building permit at this condo, about the need to get this inspection done. And I’m thinking, “Why don’t we just wait a few more years and I’ll get it the next time I have to replace the compressor, because it’s already at kind of its half-life, right?”
But it is important to take out a building permit when you have these projects done. But I guess you’ve got to make sure that you do follow up that it actually is inspected. And I guess I maybe dropped the ball on that and perhaps I should’ve looked a little closer. But meanwhile, by the way, it’s worked for three or four years now and we’ve not had any air-conditioning problems.
LESLIE: Right. And at least you know the building department is paying attention. It just takes them …
TOM: Eventually, they do catch up with you.
LESLIE: It takes them a little bit of time. I mean that really is just a great lesson. And it does show that Tom and I do certainly let things slip up now and again, especially if we’re not following up on our contractors.
You know, while we’re on the subject, there really are a couple of other common residential codes that are frequently overlooked. The first one involves the handrails that are mounted on a wall. Those kinds of handrails must have what’s called a “return” on the end.
Now, the return is a piece at the end of the rail that turns and goes back to the wall. It keeps thing like your shirt sleeves and your purse straps from getting caught on the handrail, which can cause a fall hazard.
And speaking of handrails, open handrails are no longer allowed. And you have to have spindles or balusters on them that are spaced no more than 6 inches apart. And that’s because we don’t want anybody to smush their heads in between them. Kids do it all the time.
TOM: Yeah. They try to do it. They try to squeeze through it, right?
LESLIE: They try.
TOM: Well, another commonly missed building code has to do with misplaced smoke alarms.
Now, for existing homes, you need one on each level of your house and outside every bedroom. Plus, you’ve got to make sure that they’re all working.
Now, if you’re building a new house, there’s a different code for that and it requires that you have a smoke alarm inside of each bedroom and those need to be hardwired with a battery backup and interconnected. So if one goes off, they all go off and wake everybody up in the house.
LESLIE: Now, this last one here is violated a lot, especially if you live in an older home. It’s missing or defective ground-fault circuit interrupters.
Now, a ground-fault circuit interrupter – or GFCI as you may hear the pros talking about it or you might be familiar with that term – and that will cut power to a circuit if it detects a diversion of the current to a ground, which is you if you’re getting a shock.
Now, GFCI protection is required for outlets in kitchens, bathrooms, garages and pretty much every outdoor circuit. GFCIs have a test button. You’ll notice the test/retest button. And that’s built right in, which should be checked monthly. And if you don’t have any GFCIs, it’s a wise safety improvement to add them.
TOM: Yeah. It really is. And by the way, there’s another very similar device that just came out called an “arc-fault detector.” And that works similar to a GFCI except it’s even smarter. What it detects is any sparking of wire inside the walls of your house. So if you have any kind of arc, that’s a spark.
LESLIE: Arcing and sparking.
TOM: If it’s arcing and sparking, this arc-fault detector will detect it and shut off the circuit, keeping you safe and stopping a fire from occurring. So, take advantage of these new technologies to make sure that your house is electrically very, very safe.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Still ahead, dishwashers exist to make your life easier but could your dishwasher be shortening the life of your dishes that it’s cleaning? That’s an odd thing to think about. We’ll tell you all those details, when The Money Pit continues.
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: Got a great new website at MoneyPit.com. Got lots of folks posting their home improvement questions in the Community section. That’s what Jen did.
LESLIE: Alright. And Jen writes: “After an especially bad rainstorm, water started leaking into the ceiling and walls around my chimney. I called a contractor out who suggested sealing the chimney area with silicone. My roof’s in good shape but only five years old. Does this sound right?”
TOM: Nope. Because the common cure for this, that most contractors are going to advocate, is some sort of a sealant. But they don’t last. That’s an area of the roof where you get a lot of movement, a lot of expansion and contraction and the wind actually moves the chimney a little bit. So what you want to do is have flashing and counterflashing that kind of slide together to keep the place watertight. And if you don’t have that, Jen, then that is the repair that needs to be done.
But just putting a sealant on there is going to give you only a very, very temporary fix and you’re not going to be happy.
LESLIE: Yeah, Jen. You really want to get things buttoned up, especially when it comes to a roof. Because this way, you get it done once, you get it done right and then you don’t have to worry about those leaks happening ever again.
TOM: Well, if you own a dishwasher, it may be tempting to throw everything but the kitchen sink into it. But there’s a good chance your dishwasher is doing more harm than good. To find out which kitchen items always deserve the white-glove treatment or at least the rubber-glove one, we’re going to turn to Leslie for today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
And Leslie, growing up, we had three dishwashers and they were always breaking down. They were named Tom, Mary Beth and Lisa.
LESLIE: Yes. In my house, the dishwashers were Leslie, Stephanie and Elise. And here in my current home, it’s just Leslie or the dishwasher itself. The boys have not yet figured out how to wash a dish and I guess that’s my own damn fault. I should get them doing it.
But guys, it really does go without saying that anything that is marked “hand-wash” should be hand-washed. And granted, it’s probably on a sticker when you first get that dish or glass, so try to remember which one it is. But sometimes it’s stamped on the bottom of a ceramic piece and they mean it. There are other items, though, that you should never ever, ever put in your dishwasher.
Now, first of them is a seasoned cast-iron skillet. That really is a point of pride for any cook that you would know. And those – all that seasoning, all that years of building up that oil on it, you can undo that in one simple dishwashing cycle. So you want to hand-wash cast iron but not with soap. You actually want to scrub it with cooking oil and salt instead, then wipe it dry with a paper or cloth towel to keep it from rusting. That’s truly going to keep the seasoning on it. It’s going to keep it making those delicious flavors and perfectly seared things.
Now, if you’ve got an insulated travel mug that you take every morning for your coffee or tea when you’re on your commute to work, you need to wash that by hand every single night, as well. The force of the water in the dishwasher can get between the mug’s outer and inner layers and that can cause odors and mold and really just ruin your favorite travel mug.
I had a great Coldplay thermos that I got a concert. And I’m such a dummy, I put it in the dishwasher. And the same thing: those two layers, the water got in between and it was a steamy-looking water thermos and I had to sadly get rid of it. So don’t make that same mistake.
LESLIE: The other things are nonstick pans. Those are dishwasher safe but some are not. And others are going to lose that nonstick quality in the extreme heat of the dishwasher itself. So you’ve got to either check with the manufacturer or just play it safe and hand-wash it. I mean the minute or two that you spend hand-washing a nonstick pan really beats a ruined pan and a ruined meal.
And finally, anything made out of wood. Spoons, spatulas, whatever it is, they don’t go in the dishwasher at all. Not only because it’s porous and it then absorbs all the soap and the other germs but because all that heat eventually causes wood to crack and split. Not good.
TOM: Not good. I’ll tell you what else is not good: when you have bare spots around the outside of your house because maybe you’ve got too much shade and things are not growing. The solution, though, is called “groundcover.” And we’re going to talk about that on the next edition of The Money Pit. We’re going to teach you what groundcovers work well and how to plant them properly.
Until then, 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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