TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are psyched that you are here today, on this beautiful spring day, to get some tips about taking care of your home. If there’s a project that you’re working on – maybe it’s a deck. You know, this is a great weekend, if you haven’t done it yet, to clean off that deck, clean off the deck furniture. Take on some of those outside projects.
Maybe you’ve got a patio, maybe you’ve got a house that is – maybe you don’t have a deck, right, or no patio but you’ve got a house that’s a little bit dirty from all that winter crud and you want to do some house-washing. You could do that with a hose and a scrub brush or a pressure washer, whatever you’ve got. I mean it’s the weekend to get out and get something done. You’re going to feel so good about it when that project is complete.
And if you’ve got a question, well, it’s also a great time to pick up the phone and call us because we’re here for you at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on this episode of the show, millions of Americans will be putting their house on the market this spring but most won’t even think about moving until after that house sells. And that can be too late to make a smart decision on how to best get that move done, especially getting it done without getting ripped off. So we’re going to have some tips to save time, hassle and cash when hiring a moving company, just ahead.
LESLIE: And if you’ve walked down the aisle of a home center to get a light bulb lately, you’ve probably noticed that it’s not so easy to just buy a light bulb. Between lumens and light colors, it’s really hard to find the bulb that you need or you want. Now, there’s a new light bulb out that’s designed to end that confusion and it was built using Tesla technology. We’re going to share those details, coming up.
TOM: And also ahead, we’re going to tell you about an easy way to save hundreds on your water bill just by switching out one common bathroom fixture. So let’s get to it. Call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Karen in Nebraska, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
KAREN: Yes. I had a tile floor put in my bathroom. And where you walk in, the tile has – the grout has chipped out. And so I called the tile guy and he came and he took that piece of tile out and regrouted it and it’s happening again. Is there something I can use just to seal that up or do we have to regrout it a third time?
TOM: Well, if the grout is falling out, then sealing it is not going to change anything. It sounds like the grout might have been not mixed correctly, perhaps it was too dry. Is it falling out in the same place that it fell out the first time?
LESLIE: Karen, is it a small tile or a large tile?
KAREN: I think it’s 12×12.
LESLIE: OK. And you’re not seeing any cracks in the tile? It’s just strictly on the grout?
KAREN: Yeah, just the grout is chipping out. And it’s just in the one place: the same place he replaced it.
TOM: Well, when you say he replaced it, did he just sort of fill in the missing areas or did he actually really physically take out all the old grout?
KAREN: He took out the old grout and put in a new tile.
TOM: You’re going to have to have the tile guy come back again, pull out the grout and try it one more time. But have him look this time, carefully, to see if there’s any movement in the floor there that’s causing this to happen. Because I agree with Leslie on this: I definitely think something’s going on there that’s causing it to loosen up. It shouldn’t be happening.
If the grout was not fully removed the first time, then I would think that maybe it just wasn’t adhering. But if it’s completely totally and completely removed and it’s still coming up, then I think that there’s something unstable about that floor surface and that’s why it’s popping up. You’re going to have to get the tile guy involved again. It’s definitely not a maintenance issue.
KAREN: OK. Well, I will do that for sure then.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Iowa where Brian has a crack on the wall that keeps on coming back. Tell us what’s going on.
BRIAN: Well, yeah, I built this home about six years ago and noticed it within the first year, really, that in just one of my bedrooms, I have a crack that comes up from my bedroom going into my bathroom door. And it kind of almost goes up probably close to 2½ feet, 3 feet. And it comes and goes, depending on the year. I’ve finished over it a couple of times on both sides of the wall, into the bathroom and here, and have tried to refinish over it and it keeps coming back. And my builder looked at it. Can’t quite figure it out and …
TOM: This is what we call a Groundhog Day home improvement project, Brian, because it just keeps happening over and over again, right?
BRIAN: Yeah, yeah. It just – you know, I just – originally, I just tried to cover it up and make it look better and …
TOM: Alright. Well, here’s the thing. You’ve got a very normal crack in a wall there. Cracks often form over doors, like exactly what you’re describing there, because that’s a weaker part of the wall. And for whatever reason, you had some settlement in your house and it caused this crack to open up. The fact that you’re spackling it is not going to solve it. It solves it for a season but it won’t solve it permanently.
What you need to do is you need to sand the area of the crack pretty well, because I want you to get out – get rid of all that extra spackle you’ve been putting on there. Then I want you to add a layer of fiberglass drywall tape, which is sort of like a netting. It’s a bit sticky-backed. And then I want you to spackle over the fiberglass netting – over the fiberglass tape – on both sides. Start with a narrow bead of spackle and then open it up wider and wider and wider. And that, on both sides of the wall, will make that wall strong enough to stand up to the movement that will happen the next time the wall expands or contracts.
You can’t just spackle it, because you’re not really doing anything to bridge that gap. You bridge that gap with the tape, spackle over the tape, now you’ve got a permanent repair. Does that make sense?
BRIAN: Yeah, that makes sense.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Brian. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Call in your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
Up next, are you getting ready to sell your home this spring? So many folks put their homes on the market in the spring. It really is the busy season. But if that’s you, you might also want to think about what happens when it sells, especially when it comes time to hire a mover. We’ll tell you what you need to know, after this.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Have you got a home improvement question? Call it in, right now, to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros. Plus, it’s 100-percent free to use.
LESLIE: And here’s another thing that’s 100-percent free to one lucky caller or poster to the Community section: we’ve got up for grabs a beautiful, green lawn. We’re giving away the Weed Beater Ultra Lawn Weed Killer ready to spray. No mixing. You just hook it right up to your hose and it’ll mix at the correct rate. And you can control over 200 broad-leaf weeds in your lawn, so you are sure to have a beautiful, lush, green lawn this summer.
TOM: That Weed Beater Ultra Lawn Weed Killer is going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community page at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Trish in New Jersey on the line who’s got a remodeling question. What are you working on?
TRISH: I have a wall that goes between the kitchen and there’s a set of steps that go down to the basement.
TRISH: My question is – that it’s also a bearing wall. Is it worth it for me to go through the expense of taking this wall out? And then what do I do about the – when you take the wall out, it’s going to drop down to the basement steps right there.
TOM: Right. So, OK, it’s a big project, Trish. Really big project. Because when you take a wall out like that, you have to reinforce all the structure above it first. And you build the reinforcement, then you take the wall out. You reassemble it with different types of structural members – like laminated beams, for example – that run that span and allow you to have that sort of open space.
Now, you raise another good question, like, “OK, what happens to the basement stair?” Well, obviously, you’re going to need a railing there. So, it’s a really big project. I don’t know if that’s going to be worth it for you in terms of what you’re going to get out of this. What are you trying to achieve, from a design perspective?
TRISH: To have an open concept. And here’s another idea. There’s another wall that goes between the kitchen and the dining room and that’s just a small wall, because there’s a doorway there.
LESLIE: Trish, there are some other ways that you can actually make the rooms feel larger. Considering I don’t know the exact floor plan or the situation of the space – but if you’ve got some windows in, say, your dining room, on the wall opposite it, why not put a really large mirror over, perhaps, a service area or some sort of great storage cabinet? Because the mirror will sort of help bounce the light around and open up the space and make it feel larger. Using paint-color tricks, where you slightly change one wall color to a lighter hue in the same family, can make the space feel larger, as well.
Mirrors really are a huge help. I’m not talking about mirroring an entire wall but I am talking about – perhaps some strategically placed, really decorative mirrors will do the trick, as well.
These are all ways – furniture layout. If you can sort of keep the flow more open to encourage a good pass-through, that can help make the space feel larger, as well. So there are ways without taking on major construction projects.
TOM: That’ll make it look so much bigger.
Trish, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’re planning on a move this spring, one thing you might want to think about is what happens next, like when you want to hire a mover.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, the best time to start planning your move is as soon as you decide that you want to sell your home. Some of the stuff that you’ve got to do to prepare a home for sale can actually help you with the moving process. In fact, the emptier your house is – because no buyer really wants to see a crowded house. So, chores like cleaning out those closets, the basement and the attic mean that there’s going to be a lot less to do once your home is under contract and a lot less to move.
TOM: That’s right.
Now, first thing you want to do is get an estimate. But you want to get it in person and from at least three moving companies. The reason we say in person is because you can get estimates online or over the phone. But they may not be the best way to get an accurate assessment of those costs. The moving estimators need to poke around your closets, look under your bed, inventory everything in the kitchen cabinets. I mean they need to see everything that they’re going to move for you. So, the only way they can do that is if they’re physically in your house. If you rely on an estimate online, that could be seriously different at the end of the move.
LESLIE: Now, once that inspection is complete, make sure you get those estimates from those moving companies on paper. Verbal estimates, they’re not worth a thing because anybody can say, “I didn’t say that.” You have to have it in writing, guys. It really makes sense.
TOM: Now, even though you get it in writing, you need to know that there are two types of estimates: there’s called the “binding estimate” and the “non-binding.”
Now, the non-binding estimates, the moving cost is based on an estimated hourly rate or the estimated weight of the items to be moved. The risk is that it can be really difficult to know how heavy a house contents might be or how long the contents might take to move.
LESLIE: That’s right. Binding estimates are far better. While you might be charged a fee for a mover to bind an estimate, the ultimate cost of that move is going to be predetermined and final. With those binding estimates, a mover is required to take a closer look at your home’s contents, leaving that moving company financially responsible for the estimate’s accuracy. So they want to be right and they want to lock in on the right price.
TOM: There’s a lot more to know before you hire a mover, so we’ve got two posts online you might want to take a look at: “How to Hire a Moving Company” and our “Moving Company Checklist.” Everything you need to know before you get a mover. They’re both on MoneyPit.com right now.
LESLIE: Rich in Illinois needs some help with a painting project. Tell us what you’re working on.
RICH: I’m working on a house that I’ve been living in since 1988. And the bottom four sections of my steel siding keep peeling. It’s like a 30-foot-long piece. Each piece is 8 inches wide. And it has a wood-grain pattern on it; looks like it’s been stamped. And every two years, I approach this project. First time, I took a wire brush to it and knocked all the loose off and primed it. And two years later, I was doing it again.
And every year, I try a different method. I tried a wire wheel on a drill. Last year, I took an air compressor and a hose and a drill and a wire wheel and went down to the bare metal.
RICH: And went to the paint store and they gave me some primer and some paint. And seemed like everything I try – I wash it with paint thinner sometimes before I do it. Sometimes I just use soap and water. I always make sure it’s a nice, dry day – about 80 degrees – when I paint it. And it seems to always come back about every two to three years.
I know it should be replaced but I kind of like the siding. But it’s steel and it’s – the company is no longer in business now and so the warranty is up on it.
TOM: And there’s different qualities of steel. So even if it had a rust-resistant finish on it, it could have just worn off. And I wonder if whatever process they used is what’s causing the paint to not stick.
When you prime it, are you using an oil-based primer or are you using an alkyd primer?
RICH: Both. I’ve used both. I don’t know if it’s the primer that I use or if it’s – I’ve even went down to no paint at all and just the galvanized showing and – I don’t know. I don’t know what it – I don’t know if it’s the primer or what I’m using to wash the siding with that’s causing it or it’s the paint. I tried four or five different kinds of paint on this and primer.
TOM: What I would do – I mean if I was priming it – and you may have done this already. But what I would do is I would use same manufacturer’s primer and paint. So, for example, I don’t think you can go wrong with Rust-Oleum. That’s pretty much one of the best metal paints of all.
I would use the red Rust-Oleum primer – the oil-based primer – and I would let it thoroughly dry after you knock off all the loose paint and sand it and make sure the surface is ready to accept it. But I would use the oil-based Rust-Oleum primer which, by the way, takes forever to dry. Depends on the weather but three or four or five hours is not unusual. And then, I would use the Rust-Oleum topcoat. Again, oil-based. And I rarely recommend oil-based but in this situation, I think that’s what’s going to give you the best adhesion.
Now, Rich, there’s one other piece of advice that we could offer you on this and it comes from a process that’s very – that’s done very often when people work on cars. There’s a product called Prep-Sol – P-r-e-p-S-o-l. And it’s a solvent that’s designed to be applied to bare metal before the primer. You might want to look that up as – I don’t know what – you said you were using a solvent. I don’t know if you were using mineral salt – mineral spirits or something like that – but this is specifically made for it. Just Google it. It’s called Prep-Sol – P-r-e-p – S-o-l. And it’s a cleaning solvent.
RICH: OK. Do I apply it with a brush or a rag or …?
TOM: You apply it with a rag. Use a clean cloth and you apply it – you soak it in with the cloth.
RICH: Yeah, I’ll try that. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Maria in Delaware on the line who needs help with a paneling/painting project.
So you’ve got a new house and it’s got a lot of it, huh, Maria?
MARIA: It sure does. About 25 years ago, the paneling was probably very popular but I’m really tired of looking at it. We tried painting one room and we sanded it a little bit, primed it and painted it. I’m OK with that but my husband is not because you can still see the grooves through the paint. So we were wondering if there was a way to take care of those grooves – maybe spackling it or whatever – but we didn’t want the spackling to later flake out or chip off and cause more problems than we already have. So, hopefully, you know of some way that we can do this without just taking all the paneling down.
LESLIE: Yeah. Anything that you’re going to fill in is just going to come out, just like you think. So, really, the best thing is to either sheathe over it with a ½-inch drywall or take the paneling off and put drywall on.
MARIA: OK. A ½-inch drywall. So, how would that affect the molding that we have? All of that would have to be replaced, as well, like around windows, everything?
TOM: Yeah, you’d have to pull that off.
The thing is, what you might want to try first, though, is just removing the paneling and seeing what’s underneath it. Because there might be a halfway decent wall underneath it. And if you’re lucky enough to find out that the paneling was not glued to those walls, then maybe you can just repair the wall, spackle the nail holes, fix any tear – torn areas – or any other damage and then just paint the walls again. Because that paneling was often nailed on with a very thin ring nail.
MARIA: Yes, it was nailed on. I can see the nails in that.
TOM: Yeah, it usually pulls off pretty easily. So I would – first thing I would do is pull that paneling off. Nothing you put over that paneling, in terms of – there’s no way to really fill it in, because I know what you’re asking us to do. But there’s no way to do that, because it’s going to crack and fall out and it’s going to look worse than it does now.
So if you don’t like the painted look and you want to go back to just a clean wall, I would take the paneling down. Do it one wall at a time, one area at a time, until you get the hang of it. And this way, you can almost not do any molding work whatsoever because, generally, that stuff is cut around the molding or you can cut the paneling really tight to the molding and leave it there.
MARIA: OK. Thank you both so much for your help.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, have you tried to buy a light bulb lately? You know, between lumens and light colors, it’s really hard to find the bulb that you need, let alone the bulb that you want. Now, there’s a new light bulb out that’s designed to end all of that confusion and it was built using Tesla technology. We’re going to have those details, coming up.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, if you’ve walked down the aisle of a home center lately to buy a light bulb, you probably noticed that it’s not so easy since our beloved incandescent bulbs seem to have vanished from the shelves. Now it seems we need to know about lumens and light colors. And we need to pay close attention to the shapes of the bulb to make sure it actually fits our fixtures.
LESLIE: Yeah. And we also need to be sure that you can dim the bulb that you’re buying, because you can’t just dim a CFL or an LED the way you could an incandescent. And on top of all of that, once you get the bulb home and start using it, you may notice that it doesn’t give off that same glow you’re used to. And it can make things harder to look at.
TOM: Well, our next guest recognized these frustrations, as well, and he committed his company to finding a better way to build a light bulb. He did just that by utilizing Tesla technology and he took on General Electric, Philips, SYLVANIA and the other big lighting-technology giants in the process. It’s our pleasure to welcome John Goscha, the founder and chairman of the board for the Finally Light Bulb Company, makers of Finally Light Bulbs.
JOHN: Great. Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.
TOM: Well, you’re not shy to take on the big boys, are you?
JOHN: I guess not. When I first started the company, I really noticed two things that the big guys just had a hard time getting it right.
JOHN: I noticed two things. One, the new light bulbs were expensive and kind of weird looking. You had corkscrews and other kind of unsightly looking light bulbs. And so I set out to simplify the aisle and bring back that light we loved, just with the added benefit of energy efficiency and long life.
TOM: As the saying goes – they always use this phrase to talk about something that’s easy. They say, well, it’s as easy as screwing a light bulb. But today, it’s hard enough just to buy the light bulb. People are really confused by the options that are out there.
JOHN: Yeah. I mean they’re not alone. I was in that same boat. When you go to the store, there’s – a lot of times you need a concierge to help you buy a light bulb.
LESLIE: That’s true.
TOM: Concierge, yeah.
JOHN: And it shouldn’t be that hard. I think that people – they don’t want it to be that complicated. And they just want the right light. And I saw that this was an opportunity to sweep the aisle clean and meet the consumer demand but also meet the new energy-efficiency guidelines.
LESLIE: Now, I’m not going to lie to you, John. I have hoarded incandescent bulbs for probably the past five, six, seven years. And I still have a large supply of them because I love that quality of light. Does it really mean I have to sacrifice that quality of light, that warmth, that glow that I love just to be energy-efficient?
JOHN: Oh, my gosh. You and I think alike. The answer is no. I look at the new bulbs and the LED light is really different. It makes you kind of look and feel different. And we came to the conclusion here that it’s not you, it’s your light bulb. And so, we looked at the LED and said it produces kind of a colder, bluer kind of light that a lot of times makes you feel kind of computerized or pixelated and washed-out. And no one really wants to live under the light produced by an LED.
So we said, “Let’s bring the light that is the energy-efficiency and long life that our world needs. But let’s do it without having to sacrifice that great, warm quality of light.”
TOM: Now, we hear that your bulb uses Tesla technology. So are you part of Elon Musk’s Tesla Car Company or how did that come together?
JOHN: No, we’re not part of Elon’s car company but we both owe a debt of gratitude to the famous inventor, Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest minds in electricity. And you’ll find Tesla’s induction technology powering things like the wireless chargers for your cell phone and your electric toothbrush. But it’s also been a highly regarded, energy-efficient and long-life lighting technology in commercial applications.
So we are the first and only company to harness and compact Tesla’s invention for a light bulb and bring it to market for the first time.
LESLIE: Now, how is that really different, this technology that you’re using with the Tesla technology, from what we’re seeing in LEDs or those light-emitting diodes or CFLs? How does it change the light to make it so much more comfortable?
JOHN: Yeah. So, LEDs, they start out their life as little indicator lights on your TV remote or your DVD player. And they weren’t originally developed to replicate that nice, warm, omnidirectional light of a light bulb. And so, now people are really asking a lot of questions around. What are the long-term health effects of kind of the different blue or kind of harsher light? And I think that we don’t want to all live under computer chips and diodes. In fact, the hardest thing for an LED to do is to look and work like a standard light bulb.
So, for us, we looked at the LED and we noticed that they’re not producing the entire spectrum and they have an oversaturation of blues and oranges. So, with us, we’re able to produce light in a very different way, not using an LED but in fact, a copper coil or a Tesla coil. And that coil produces warm, energy-efficient light and gives you more of that full spectrum. So, whites are whiter, colors are brighter and skin tones are going to look more natural.
TOM: Now, I noticed that you also helped with the confusion issue of folks buying these bulbs by one, keeping the shape to be similar to an incandescent bulb. But also, you’re advertising the light in watts or you’re promoting it by having watt numbers on your packaging. And that makes a lot of sense.
Now, those in the know understand that watts is a measure of power. And so, 100-watt bulbs are using 100 watts of electricity. But the thing is, when you go to the store and you see it’s a 25-watt bulb, most people think that’s a dim bulb. That’s a night light, you know? That’s not a bulb that you’re going to put in your office. But I love the fact that you’re basically telling us what the equivalent is in wattage so that we have a sense as to how bright it’s going to be.
JOHN: Yeah. We wanted to simplify this like it used to be, make it easy. Back when I remember you could walk in the store and pick up a 60-, a 75- or a 100-watt bulb. So we wanted to make it that easy.
And with the energy-efficiency mandates, it’s really made the traditional bulb obsolete. And I think it’s left consumers kind of baffled to navigate the lighting aisle and their lives in kind of a dimmer, different, off-color light.
JOHN: And even though the difference is subtle, I think that people really feel the impact. It can range from anything from being annoying to frustrating to defeating when you don’t have the right light.
LESLIE: Now, what’s the life expectancy of a Finally Light Bulb? Everybody is so used to the LEDs and the CFLs really lasting a long time. Are you comparable to that?
JOHN: Yeah. So our bulbs last 15 years. And in fact, we guarantee it.
LESLIE: Well, that’s a long time.
TOM: We’re talking to John Goscha. He’s the founder and chairman of the board of the Finally Light Bulb Company, makers of Finally Light Bulbs. He’s really taken on the big manufacturers out there, the big competitors, to kind of come up with a bulb that looks great, performs well and has terrific light.
John, let me ask you about dimming. That’s something that we all love today, especially with our smart-home technologies and the switches that are available out there. And we can do it from our phone, we can do it from the comfort of our easy chair. Will these bulbs dim like an incandescent would?
JOHN: They do. So, in fact, we’ve spent two-and-a-half years working on dimming, because it has to be the great dimming. So the current bulbs on the shelf today – the 60-, 75- and 100-watt equivalent bulbs – do not dim. But actually, later this year, we’re launching our dimmable downlights. And they have to have that nice, smooth dimming curve. I’m sure you’ve experienced some of these other energy-efficient bulbs. And you turn the dimmer, nothing happens and then they just seem to fall off a cliff.
JOHN: They need to come down nice and smooth and they have to go down to the low lighting levels. They have to get down below 10 percent and have that nice, warm, dim glow. So, I’m excited to launch those products, for the first time, in a downlight version at the end of this year.
TOM: Well, it’s a terrific, new product, the Finally Light Bulb. John, where can we find these?
JOHN: So, we’re available at stores such as Ace Hardware. We’re in limited distribution here with Home Depot in the Northeast. And we’ll actually be launching Costco in the Northwest and Texas this coming summer.
TOM: Alright. Terrific. The product is called the Finally Light Bulb. Check them out at FinallyBulbs.com.
John Goscha, the founder and chairman of the board, hey, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit and good luck with the product.
JOHN: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright, John Goscha. I’m going to give your bulb a try. I’m going to be really open-minded about this. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
Just ahead, before summer droughts get started, we’ve got a tip to help you cut water use and save money, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Post your home improvement question to us, right now, at MoneyPit.com or call, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.
LESLIE: And we make it fast and easy for you guys to get the supplies and the materials you need to get your projects done. That’s why we’re giving away a great prize this hour to one lucky caller or poster to the Community section.
We’ve got up for grabs the Weed Beater Ultra Lawn Weed Killer. It’s a ready-to-spray. You just hook it right onto the hose and you can control over 200 types of weeds in your lawn. So you are sure to have a lush, green, beautiful lawn this summer.
TOM: That Weed Beater Ultra is going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lester in Tennessee is on the line with a squeaky, noisy floor situation. Tell us what’s going on.
LESTER: Well, I’ve got some – a split-level house. And the master bedroom and the garage are on the ground floor and right above the – on the second floor, the floorboards squeak when you walk. It’s carpeted flooring and as you walk across the floor, you can tell exactly where that person is heading and what they’re doing, based on the squeak in the floor.
And because it’s over the master bedroom, my wife has a hard time sleeping when I’m upstairs walking around and vice versa. So we need a resolution.
LESLIE: So, now, the reason why you’re getting a squeaky noise is because there’s some movement between the subfloor and the joist. So when somebody steps now, you’ve got nails that have backed up and you’ve got the subfloor and the joist sort of rubbing together, which is giving you that squeaky sound.
Now, with the carpet, totally not the end of the world. You do need to be able to identify, though, where those squeaks are coming from. And you’ll sort of have to do this in tandem: one person in the master bedroom, one person upstairs sort of stepping so you can kind of isolate where the sound is.
And once you know where that sound is coming from, now you have to locate exactly where that joist is under the carpet and under the subfloor. Because what you need to do is reattach that subfloor to that joist. And you can do that once you know exactly where everything is, with a nail. That’s totally fine and you’ll have to use a nail, unfortunately, because of the carpet situation.
And you’ll hammer it, actually, through the carpet, reattaching the joist and the sheathing. And then once you’ve got that all put together, you sort of grab the rug by the nap and lift up and you’ll sort of pop that nail through the carpet and just – it’ll still do its job of connecting the joist to the underlayment. Does that make sense?
TOM: And the type of nail that you use is important. You want to use a galvanized finish nail. Galvanized because it’s rough on the outside and has more holding power. And finish nail because it has the smallest kind of head. And this way, the nail can be driven through the carpet or the carpet can be pulled up through the nail head and you won’t see it when it’s done.
And one more tip. When you’re looking for that floor joist, you could use one of the newer – like the Stanley stud sensors that are available today. Super accurate and they can go pretty deep into a floor. So they’ll go through the carpet, through the subfloor to locate exactly where those joists are. Because it’s really critical that when you place that nail you know that you’re going to hit the floor joist underneath.
LESTER: OK, great. And those are new on the market? Because I have some older ones. You think I need to buy something or rent something?
TOM: The stud sensors?
TOM: Yeah, well, they’re new and they’re pretty expensive – they start at about 20 bucks – but you can certainly try the one you have. And if you – if it doesn’t work, then you can go out and pick up a new one.
LESTER: Twenty bucks is probably worth the sleeping my wife’s not getting.
TOM: Exactly. Lester, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, years ago, if a plumber told you that your toilet needed to be replaced, you’d have a right to be skeptical. I mean it was pretty rare – darn it near impossible, in fact – for a toilet to actually break.
TOM: Yeah. But today, water consumption is the big issue. And if your toilets are, say, older than, say, 1994 or earlier, you actually can save quite a bit of money by switching them out for one of the current generations of high-efficiency toilets or HETs – H-E-Ts. So forget those low-flows, though, of the early 90s that didn’t work. These new high-efficiency toilets work really well on about 1¼ gallons of water per flush or less. Some of them actually work with less than a gallon of water. It’s pretty amazing what they can do.
LESLIE: It’s true. And the EPA says a household of four can save about $90 a year on its water bill with an H-E-T or HET. Plus, a lot of local utilities are giving rebates and vouchers to households that buy one. It really makes it worth your while to do so.
TOM: Yep. Now, for more water-saving tips, visit MoneyPit.com and search for “WaterSense.” That’s the EPA’s program that encourages manufacturers to make water-saving faucets and fixtures and sprinklers and lots more. They’re going to save you water, save you money and be much better for the environment.
LESLIE: Well, it’s that time of year for you to make the cut, in your yard that is. We’ll have pruning tips, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us, right now, on The Money Pit’s Listener Line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: 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.
TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.
LESLIE: Alright. You’ve got two pros right now you can trust who are answering questions from our Community section. I’ve got one here from James in Delaware who writes: “I have moisture in my attic. Just my attic. I’m worried I’m going to get mold on the insulation. Any idea how the moisture is getting there and how to get rid of it?”
Ooh, ooh. I have an idea.
TOM: Alright. What’s your idea?
LESLIE: I feel like there’s probably some sort of bathroom vent that’s venting into the attic.
TOM: Well, that could be the case. If that’s the case, you basically are pumping moisture up there. But it might just be physics. It might just be the fact that you get warm, moist air that moves up through the house. It gets up into the attic, which is colder, and then it condenses. And that moisture, when it condenses against the underside of the attic sheathing, forms water droplets.
Here’s an old trick of the trade from my home inspector days. When you go up in the attic, if you see rust on the bottom of the nail tips from the roofing nails, you know you’ve got a moisture problem. Because you might not be there when the moisture actually is forming. But if you see rust in the nail tips, you know that there’s an issue.
So here’s what you need to do about that. First of all, you need better attic ventilation. Now, the best attic ventilation is going to be a combination of ridge vents – that’s the vent that goes down the peak of the roof – and soffit vents. That’s the vents that are in the overhang at the end of the building, the sides of the building. When they’re both in place and they’re both fully opened, continuous vents, you’ll get lots of ventilation moving in the soffits, underneath the roof sheathing where it takes away the moisture and then out at the ridge vent. And that sort of repeats itself, 24/7, so it’s the best way to ventilate that attic space.
And as you said, Leslie, if there’s anything dumping moisture up there, like a bathroom exhaust, bad idea. I’ve seen dryer ducts dump into the attic.
TOM: Even a worse idea, yeah. You need to run them through the attic and out.
LESLIE: To the outside.
TOM: Yeah. To the outside.
LESLIE: And make sure that they actually are functioning and getting to the outside. I can’t tell you how many times you see that little vent on the upper eaves, by the attic, that’s supposed to be that bathroom-vent fan. And it should be when you turn on your exhaust, you should see that flapping or open or make some sort of transition. And if you don’t, it’s not properly connected and it’s not actually going anywhere where you think it is.
TOM: Yeah. Part of my routine as a home inspector is I go in and turn everything on in the house, including those fans and the dryer and everything. Then I go back outside for 15, 20 minutes while I was inspecting that. And I was looking for just that: to see if those vents were opening, if there was air coming out of there. People thought I was just wasting their energy but there was a method to the madness. And very often, you find that they are not hooked up.
So, real important to make sure you know where all that air is going and make sure it’s not going into the attic where it can condense and cause a huge moisture problem that will wet your insulation down, make it ineffective, cause mold growth. It can be a real mess.
LESLIE: Ah, the mysteries of home ownership. Isn’t it fantastic?
TOM: Well, if you’d like healthy trees and shrubs all summer long, don’t be afraid to make the cut now. Leslie explains, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, pruning your trees and shrubs, that is one of the top outdoor tasks that you tackle in the springtime because pruning encourages lush, new growth and better air circulation. So it’s not just busy work for you; it’s actually something that’s important to the health of the plants and the trees. It also clears away dead branches that are a safety hazard.
And spring is a great time to prune the summer flowering plants. They’re still dormant and their bare limbs make it easy to see the plant structure as you refine and reshape. The only plantings you shouldn’t go after with pruning shears are the young ones or anything that’s newly planted. You want to give them a chance to put down the roots and grow up in the great outdoors before you start trying to make them smaller. But really, pay attention to what you’re cutting and you’ll have beautiful, new growth come summertime.
TOM: This is The Money Pit. Coming up next time on the program, between bad weather, snowfalls, hard rains, plows and more deliberate forms of vandalism, mailboxes can take a real beating. We’re going to have tips on how you can build a mailbox that can stand up to the test of time, on the 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 2018 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.)