Quick Cleaning Hacks for Busy Parents #0122182

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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here for you. So, if you love home improvement, if you love to take on projects to make your home more beautiful, to fix up your apartment, to deck out the condo, whether it’s flooring or paint or insulation or you’re paying just too much in heating bills, that’s where we come in. Give us a call, right now, with that how-to question at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or head on over to MoneyPit.com and post that question to our Community page, because we are here for you.

    LESLIE: Cyl (sp) in Ohio, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?

    CYL (sp): I had recently put a new roof on a log-cabin house.

    TOM: OK.

    CYL (sp): And there was – it was previously a roof with a ceiling inside. So they put an addition on the side and part of the roof is now rafter roof, which is cathedral. And he is having problems with water underneath the decking. And I was curious – at this point, there is actually mold inside the ceiling of, you know, the old ceiling and …

    TOM: From the leak?

    CYL (sp): No, there’s no – there’s really no leak; there’s just condensation. And we’re trying to figure out what’s happening. We put everything …

    TOM: Is there – so you have a – it sounds like you have a cathedral section and you have a section that is more of a traditional sort of attic kind of section, even though you don’t have much space there?

    CYL (sp): Yeah. Yes, yes. Yes.

    TOM: And you have mold in the attic area?

    CYL (sp): Yes, we do.

    TOM: Right.

    CYL (sp): And it is just since we put – we switched from shingles to metal.

    TOM: That shouldn’t do it. But what will do it is condensation that’s occurring in that space and the lack of proper ventilation.

    When they put the metal roof on, did you maintain proper attic ventilation?

    CYL (sp): There’s a tremendous amount of ventilation. I mean there’s baffles all the way down to the eaves and the eaves are vented from end to end. And that was – that’s also the case – he is actually a builder – a log-home builder – and when he built the new addition, he installed baffles from eave to ridge. And then he put in R-30 insulation underneath the baffles and then a 1×8 tongue-and-groove underneath that. And that’s the exposed ceiling. And he was having leaks coming from the lower section of the ceiling. And the water was coming out there and so …

    TOM: This was before you put the metal roof on or after?

    CYL (sp): No, this was after. We put the metal roof on in October and it only started here in January 2nd.

    TOM: Did you have any ice dams?

    CYL (sp): No ice dams. No, we have roof – we have snow guards and that’s holding the snow up there. But there’s really no ice dams.

    TOM: So when you put the metal roof on, did they take the old roof off down to the deck? And did they use ice-and-water shield?

    CYL (sp): Yes, yes. We put ice-and-water shield and we put a synthetic felt or a synthetic underlayment, what the metal company …

    TOM: So let me ask you this: if it’s not a leak of the roof, is it possible that it’s condensation that’s forming in that space and then dripping down?

    CYL (sp): Well, that’s possible but the question I have is: why is it condensating (ph) underneath the decking?

    TOM: The decking – when we say decking, we’re talking about the roof deck, right? Just to make sure we’re on the same page here?

    CYL (sp): Mm-hmm.

    TOM: So the roof deck is very cold. If warm, moist air that gets into that attic space and it doesn’t vent, for whatever reason, and that warm, moist air condenses on the bottom of the roof decking – and you can see this if you can see that decking. Because, typically, you’ll see – not only will you get sort of a darkening of the plywood or whatever decking material it is, because that happens as the algae starts to grow, but you’ll also see rusty nail tips. And I’ve actually seen water dripping off the nail tips.

    And all of those are signs of inadequate attic ventilation. And you say you’ve got plenty of ventilation, so it seems impossible that this should be happening. But I suspect that there’s something off with that ventilation. If you have continuous soffit vents and if those soffit intake vents are blocked in any way by the amount of insulation that you’ve put across the ceiling sort of floor, so to speak, or if the ridge vent is not fully open – because, typically, what would happen is you get a depressurization at the ridge, which would pull air out. And the soffit is where the air would go in. Now, if you also have gable vents on the ends of the walls, that can actually interrupt that flow of ridge-soffit ventilation.

    But the reason it’s condensing is because you have warm, moist air that’s getting up there. And the other thing is if you have any gaps in the ceiling – could be around pipes, could be around light fixtures, high-hat ceiling fixtures, that sort of thing where you have warm, moist air from the house that’s getting up in there. And I’m presuming you don’t have anything really silly, like a bath-exhaust duct that’s venting up there. But you’ve got to identify the source of the warm, moist air and then you’ve got to figure out why the ventilation isn’t working. Because if it’s done correctly, it should be venting out that moist air; that’s how ventilation systems work.

    CYL (sp): In the old attic, the only mold that’s creating is only the top 10 feet from the peak down. And if you’re standing up there in the attic, you can actually see through the baffles, all the way down to the eave. And the ridge is completely open.

    TOM: The other thing I would look at is the type of ridge vent that you’re using. Because a lot of ridge vents – I’ve seen a lot of ridge vents that are fairly obstructed by their design.

    CYL (sp): OK.

    TOM: It’s got to be wide open. I think it’s the Air Vent Corporation. It’s a CertainTeed brand. That they have a ridge vent that’s designed for asphalt shingles and metal roofs, that has a built-in baffle on the outside that actually improves the depressurization. There’s something wrong with that ventilation system. It shouldn’t be happening.

    Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call, right now, with your how-to question or décor dilemma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    Just ahead, if you’ve got kids at home, a clean house can feel like a million miles away. We’re going to have some tips to keep your home clean and your sanity intact with a few, clever housecleaning hacks for busy parents, next.

    Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: So, Leslie, I know that you were telling me that you are feeling the chill with all of this crazy, cold weather. And you discovered something that I actually have been – have had in my house for a few years now: the insulated window blind, right? The thermal, insulated cellular blind? Makes a difference, huh?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Looks like a honeycomb. Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a honeycomb, right? Makes a difference.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s interesting. You and I both have older homes. And even though I’ve done blown-in insulation, I have a lot of windows. So it’s more window space than wall space and you can only do so much. So, in my foyer, I’ve got these five big windows. It runs the whole wall of my tiny, little entrance foyer. And I was hesitant to just get the cellular, honeycomb-looking shades because, honestly, I don’t love the look of them.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: But I happened to find a shade that looks like it’s a fabric Roman shade on the front and then on the backside is the cellular shade, the thermal shade, the honeycomb.

    TOM: Oh, kind of hides the cellular. Right. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: So it hides that. And it’s interesting. It has an easy up-and-down mechanism. No cords. And truly, we had that spell right around Christmas, through the New Year, where it was minus-10 for two weeks. It was awful. It was warmer in Alaska than it was on Long Island, where I live.

    And I knew the cold weather was coming, so I just pulled down those shades. And I never opened them again.

    TOM: And here’s why. Because people are listening, thinking, “Well, how can that seal the window?” It doesn’t, OK? But here’s why it’s more comfortable and here’s why you are not as tempted to turn your heat up: because you have this insulated layer between the glass and the house air. You don’t get the house air that’s very warm and strikes the glass that’s very cold and then it immediately falls and creates what you perceive as a draft. So sometimes, when you think your windows are drafty, it’s not really coming in through the outside wall. It’s that warm air in the house that’s striking a very cold window, especially when it’s 5 or 10 degrees out, and falling.

    But if you have the thermal shade up there, that doesn’t happen. It interrupts that convective loop, which is why you feel so much comfortable. We all know …

    LESLIE: I mean it made a huge difference.

    TOM: Right. If you’re feeling comfortable on that couch, you’re not going to run over to the thermostat and turn it up or be lazy, like me, and flip open your phone and turn up my Nest with a few degrees there.

    So, anyway, I think they’re really cool. And you can get them for as little as 20 or 30 bucks if – you know, in a home center. And of course, they come up – they go up from there if you want to have them be custom. But I think the cellular shades are a pretty good idea.

    LESLIE: These I got right at Bed Bath & Beyond. And they came in a bunch of different colors and it’s a fabric Roman shade in the front. And it ranged from 30 to, say, 100-and-something per shade, depending on how wide you were going. So that’s why I just went with the small guys and did five across.

    TOM: Really smart.

    Alright. So what’s going on in your house, your apartment? Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to it.

    Who’s waiting? Leslie?

    LESLIE: Jane Ellen in Pennsylvania is looking at getting some new windows. How can we help you make that decision?

    JANE ELLEN: Yes. Well, we are looking at getting – replacing our single-pane windows. And our question is: do you think it would be more cost-effective to spend the extra money on triple-pane windows or would double-pane windows be OK? Other than the windows, the house is fairly well-insulated; it’s not real drafty. We haven’t priced our options yet, so we just were looking for an opinion.

    TOM: I think that double-pane windows will be fine. The thing is that when you shop for windows, you have all of these different features and benefits that you have to compare and contrast and sometimes, it gets very confusing when you do that. What I would look for is a window that’s ENERGY STAR-rated and one that has double-pane glass. As long as the glass in insulated and has a low-E coating so it reflects the heat back, that’ll be fine.

    It’s been my experience that unless you live in the most severe climates, triple-pane glass doesn’t really make up the additional cost in terms of return on investment.

    JANE ELLEN: Wonderful. Thank you so much.

    TOM: What kind of windows do you have now? Are they very drafty?

    JANE ELLEN: Well, they’re single-pane windows. They’re relatively decent windows for single-pane but they’re old. They’re starting to – you can see the gas is starting to escape from them and they are a little drafty.

    Our house has a field behind it; our backyard kind of opens up into a field. So, there’s a significant amount of wind that comes across the field and blows into the back of the house. And off the main back area, we have a three-season room, which helps to block some of the wind from the interior downstairs. But the upstairs bedrooms, you feel the wind a little bit more significantly. We notice the single-pane windows a little bit more there; it seems more drafty right there.

    TOM: Well, I think these windows are going to make a big difference for you. Now, if you need to save some money and maybe not do them all at once, that’s fine, too. What I would do is the north and east sections of the house first – sides of the house first – and then the south and the west second. OK?

    JANE ELLEN: OK. Sounds great.

    LESLIE: I know given the winter that we’ve all had in the Northeast and pretty much all over the United States, you might think that a triple-pane glass is going to do the trick, especially when we’ve had, what, like an average of 5 degrees, Tom?

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: I’ve got to tell you, the days that we’ve had 30- and 40-degree temperatures, I’ve put on a light jacket. I’ve seen families out with no jackets. People are out of their minds when we get 40-degree days.

    TOM: Yep. I know. We’re happy for it, right?

    LESLIE: It’s like summer.

    TOM: Alright. Well, Jane Ellen, I hope that helps you out. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve got kids at home, a clean house really does feel like it’s a million-zillion-bajillion miles away. And as soon as you clean it, it kind of just gets messy again. So, we’re going to have some tips, right now, to keep your home clean and your sanity intact, which really is probably all we really need on a daily basis.

    Alright. First of all, let’s talk about using oven and slow-cooker liners. Now, did you know that the baked-on food at the bottom of the oven can hold onto all of that bad bacteria? And that gunk in there can actually make your family sick. So instead of scrubbing, you can use baking liners or slow-cooking liners to save time and elbow grease. Because all that gunk will collect there and then you just take that out.

    TOM: Now, here’s another tip: take advantage of your shower. Bathrooms get scuzzy really quick. They get the water spots, the soap, the toothpaste, you name it. But your morning shower can do double-duty to keep that bathroom clean.

    We always kept a squeegee in the shower growing up. So, when the last person was done with showers, you gave the walls a couple of quick swipes and then take advantage of all of that steam and humidity in the house to wipe down everything else in that space before you get out. Do a little bit of that every day and you’re not going to have a gross bathroom form, no matter how many kids you’ve got.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And do not use it to squeegee the water off your body. That’s probably not a good idea.

    TOM: Bad idea.

    LESLIE: Now, here’s the other thing. I think it feels like there are so many tasks and so many projects that it’s like you’re never going to get it done. So, prioritize the order of the tasks that you want to do. Think about your cleaning order by starting with the tasks that require a machine, like the dishwasher or the washing machine. And then you can complete other tasks while those machines are doing the work for you.

    TOM: Yeah. And you also want to create a cleaning schedule. Because it may seem like it’s an endless list but the idea here is to create a schedule so you have daily, weekly and monthly cleaning chores. And then it becomes much more manageable. So, don’t try to get it all done at once. Tackle it one part at a time.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Here’s another idea. Start at the top. If you want to know the best cleaning hacks, watch the pro cleaners in action. They always start at the highest point in the room and then work their way down, like clean the ceilings and the ceiling fans and then end with vacuuming the floors. This way, you’re not cleaning up twice. Because as you dust the things up on the top, it gets on the floor.

    TOM: Yeah. And speaking of vacuuming out the floors, you want to work your way out the door, right? You want to start in the far corner and work your way out the door so that you’re not going to trip over yourself in the process.

    LESLIE: And here’s another thing: declutter while you clean. If your kids are leaving toys all over the place, declutter and put things away as you clean. This way, it’s going to keep all of those tripping hazards at bay. You just get rid of them.

    TOM: Finally, you can save some money if you make your own cleaners. We can help you do that. We’ve got a post on the website – one of our most popular stories – about how to make homemade cleaners out of stuff you’ve got right now in your cabinets. We’re talking about things like vinegar and vegetable oil and even banana peels. You’d be amazed at what you can make with stuff that’s around your cabinets right now that does a pretty darn good job. Not only is it all natural, it’s really cheap to use compared to the commercial products.

    So, hopefully, we gave you a few good ideas to kind of take on some cleaning projects for your busy life, moms and dads. And we’ll have this complete list on the website at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Sue in Florida is on the line with a shower that doesn’t drain. Tell us about it.

    SUE: Well, we’re getting ready to close on a home and after the home inspection, we found that the water stands on the shower floor and doesn’t drain.

    TOM: OK. So this came up during the home inspection, Sue?

    SUE: Yes.

    TOM: Well, I would have the seller fix this. What’s causing it? Who knows? Could be as simple as a clog, it could be something more complex like a broken pipe beneath the slab or a missing vent pipe. But that’s a mechanical issue. And mechanical systems usually have to be in working-order condition at the time of closing. So I would ask the seller to repair that. And if they’re not going to repair it, to give you a substantial credit because you’re going to have to do the investigation to figure out what it is and get it fixed on your own.

    And when drains are in floors and probably inside of a slab floor, it could be very complicated. It could become expensive.

    Good luck with that project, Sue. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Richard in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a structural issue in the basement and a bowing wall. Tell us what’s going on.

    RICHARD: OK. My wife and I built our own house and it is a pretty good-size house. But anyhow, we just got the thing dry to the weather and got 14 inches of rain in 2 days. And anyhow, the front wall buckled in a little bit. What do you know about these outfits that claim that they can jack walls out?

    TOM: OK. So, is this a home that you’ve just completed, Richard? You say you just got it closed to the weather.

    RICHARD: Well, about 40 years ago.

    TOM: OK. Now that we have the timeline correctly – so you have a 40-year-old home and you’ve got a wall – a front wall – that’s buckling in due to heavy rain. Is this something that happened slowly over time or does it seem like it happened all at once?

    RICHARD: Well, no, it happened – this happened 40 years ago when we built the thing. We just got the thing dry to the weather and got 14 inches of rain in 2 days.

    TOM: I see. So it’s been sitting like that, in the buckled position, for 40 years?

    RICHARD: Yeah. And it’s not going anyplace.

    TOM: I think if the wall has stayed in that position for all of those years, then there’s not much for you to worry about, with the single exception of: what are you going to do when it comes time to sell the house? It will no doubt come up as an issue in a home inspection report or an engineering report.

    What you could do, just to kind of make sure that you have all bases covered – you asked me about contractors that claimed to push walls back. I would not – repeat not – hire a contractor as my first step. My first step would be to bring in a structural engineer. Contractors are not qualified to make those types of assessments.

    You have a structural engineer look at that wall and if it needs to be modified or reinforced in any way, you let the engineer design that. He or she will design that fix. And then you take that design to the contractor and say, “This is exactly what I want done.” You do not leave it up to the contractor, because they’re not qualified to make that structural assessment.

    And in doing it that way, when it comes time to sell the house, if you have the engineer come back and inspect the work when it’s complete and basically certify that he analyzed it, he designed the repair and the repair was properly constructed, that’s kind of like having a pedigree on the effectiveness of that repair. And if it turns out that it doesn’t need any work, well, he can put that in writing, as well.

    But I would not hire a contractor that’s going to claim to do something to that wall. Because first of all, it stood like that for 40 years. It’s not getting any worse, so certainly it’s not an immediate problem. But just to protect yourself in the future – and especially if it comes time to sell the house, Richard – I would have it looked at by a structural engineer and then follow his or her advice.

    Richard, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, do you have a home improvement question? We’d love to chat right now. Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    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, if the thought of perhaps never having to clean your toilet again is one that you think is somewhat of a cleaning fantasy, well, I’ve got to tell you it’s not. There’s a new product out from American Standard that does just that. It’s called VorMax Plus and it’s a self-cleaning toilet, a terrific invention that is going to save a lot of aggravation of bathroom cleaning for millions to come. With us to talk about that is James Walsh.

    James, welcome to the program.

    JAMES: Thanks, Tom. I appreciate the time.

    TOM: I bet you folks are receiving this product pretty well, because that’s got to be the one job in a household that everybody hates to do: clean that toilet.

    JAMES: That’s exactly right. And it’s not only what our research says to us but it’s from personal experience. I’ll attest to that, as well.

    TOM: Now, you guys have been working on this challenge for a long time. And what did you have to do to the toilet to make it self-cleaning? Because all toilets seem to get dirty in much the same way and it usually surrounds that rim where all those holes are. And you get the mineral-salt deposits and the black mold and so that collects in that area. Was that part of the change with the VorMax Plus?

    JAMES: Yes, it was. What we designed is it’s based on our VorMax flushing platform that cleans, from top to bottom, two times cleaner. We eliminated the rim punchings and went to a clean-curve rim design. Plus, we added a Lysol toilet-cleaning agent that releases Lysol Toilet Cleaner into the bowl with each flush. And it cleans …

    TOM: Well, that’s awesome. So every time you flush the toilet, you get this sort of insertion of Lysol into the bowl at the same time. That’s got to make it cleaner and smell better, too.

    JAMES: Correct. And it’s incorporated into the bowl itself, so it’s not a clip-on or an add-on. And it lasts for 30 days.

    TOM: That’s great. Because even those clip-ons or add-ons, not only are they sort of clunky and unattractive, they get pretty gross themselves after 30 days is up. How is it that you’re able to capture the Lysol and release it into the bowl? Is there some sort of a reservoir or is there a device that you insert? Talk to me about that.

    JAMES: It’s a VorMax Plus FreshInfuser that is inserted into the bowl itself, that is basically incorporated into the bowl through the toilet seat. So the consumer never sees the cleaner while it’s working.

    TOM: Oh, interesting. So it sounds like it’s sort of a cartridge that gets inserted in.

    JAMES: That’s correct. It’s more or less a basket or a cartridge that has the cleaner captured in it. We pack two cleaners in with each toilet and we’re actually running a promotion that with the purchase of the toilet, you can get a year’s supply of the cleaner free of charge.

    TOM: Oh, that’s great.

    So, in addition to the cleaning aspect of this, is this also a water-efficient toilet?

    JAMES: It certainly is, Tom. It meets the WaterSense guidelines for water reduction. It flushes at 1.28 gallons, which is 20-percent less water than your typical 1.6-gallon toilet while still getting maximum bulk removal of the product itself.

    TOM: We’re talking to James Walsh from American Standard about a new product called the VorMax Plus, a toilet that is actually self-cleaning.

    And James, as I was reading about this product, I see that you also have a special type of finish on the porcelain itself that’s – is it antimicrobial?

    JAMES: Yes, it is. It’s called our Everclean Finish. It’s an antimicrobial finish that’s fired into the chinaware, that inhibits the growth of stain- and odor-causing mold and bacteria. It also makes the finish roughly two times smoother than your traditional glaze. So, stains don’t stick and hold to the finish itself.

    TOM: Alright. Last question. Let’s talk about the warranty. You know, with all products, as they become advanced technologically, folks worry about more things that could break down. What’s the warranty on this product?

    JAMES: The warranty on this product is industry-leading. It’s a 10-year warranty. And what’s important about the warranty is it covers all trim, which is the movable parts inside the tank, and the chinaware itself.

    TOM: Oh, that’s fantastic. So pretty much, you’re totally covered for the next decade, both with the function of the toilet and the fact that you’re just not going to have to clean it. The product is called the VorMax Plus. It’s a revolutionary, new, self-cleaning toilet that delivers the cleanest, freshest flush ever engineered.

    James Walsh, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    JAMES: Thank you for the opportunity, Tom.

    TOM: If you’d like to check out the VorMax Plus, it’s available at American Standard showrooms and right now in The Home Depot.

    LESLIE: Alright, James. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    Coming up, has the honeymoon with your home come to a screeching halt? We’re going to have some tips for you to fall back in love with your space with just a few, small changes that really can make a big impact, when The Money Pit continues.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Podcast. 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, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    What are you doing? You looking at some blank walls in your apartment, your condo, your house? Thinking about a project that you’d like to get done but you don’t know how to get going? That’s where we come in, so call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question, right now, to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com/Community.

    LESLIE: You know what’s honestly been taking up my home improvement tool-set skills time lately?

    TOM: What?

    LESLIE: Pinewood derby.

    TOM: Oh, my God. Yeah. Well, you know I’ve been through that, right? My kids have outgrown pinewood derby but we were the ringers for many years, I will say that.

    LESLIE: It’s tough when you’re a parent, like you or myself, and you have the job that we do and access to the tools that we do, to not deliver a high-performing vehicle.

    Now, last year was our first go into the pinewood derby and Henry came in first place. And I know I asked you a thousand questions. We Googled and watched YouTube videos on all the things that you could do that were legal but were still pushing the envelope. And this year, really, the pressure is on, so …

    TOM: Now, didn’t you beat the dads last year?

    LESLIE: I beat – we beat everybody. We came in first for the Tigers.

    TOM: You were the reigning pinewood-derby champion family.

    LESLIE: So we’ll see.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: No, Henry. Not me. Henry.

    TOM: Yeah, you had nothing to do with it, I know.

    LESLIE: I had nothing to do with this. So, this year, let’s see how we do. We’ve got our Webelos Challenge next week.

    TOM: Alright.

    LESLIE: I will let you know how we do.

    TOM: Awesome.

    LESLIE: But it has been dominating everything else in our household.

    TOM: Definitely some tricks of the trade to that. We made pinewood-derby cars – you always help your kids – and one year, I don’t know why but they thought that we had violated the rules. And I was really annoyed because we couldn’t go into the regional championship or whatever.

    LESLIE: What were they saying was the issue?

    TOM: I forget what it was. Something about the wheels. But all you can really do is polish those nails and …

    LESLIE: So the axle, the nail. So it’s like I used the different degrees of sandpaper, plus the pumice and I went over every axle until all those little printings and ridges were all gone. But then I read that some people will sand or polish the wheels.

    TOM: Yeah. That, I think, you can’t do. But what you can also do is put graphite in those wheels.

    LESLIE: Oh, graphite for sure. And I – also, we travel with the car on a paper towel. And I will put graphite on the wheels. Ooh.

    TOM: Yeah, I don’t know about that. But that’s a good point. Alright. Well, I will keep that – we will keep that to ourselves and our four million listeners, OK?

    LESLIE: Oh, crap.

    TOM: Nobody tell. Don’t anybody rat out Henry, OK?

    Alright. Well, listen, if you’ve got a project, whether it’s a pinewood-derby car or maybe you’re building a backyard deck, we don’t care. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, no matter how much you love your home, at some point it definitely starts to feel like the kind of same old, same old. So, we thought we’d focus on a few simple hacks that you can do, right now, to help you fall back in love without spending big bucks. And the first one is to pay attention to your nose.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? Smells really can make or break a room. And odors also break your mood. So let’s make sure that the scent of your house just brightens your spirit instead of bringing everybody down and wondering who did what to make things smell that awful.

    So, the next time you paint, think about mixing in a special scent additive into the paint itself. And that will help your home have a beautiful scent. It’s sort of light and it lingers. And sometimes they last for years to come. So make sure that you like that one that you choose.

    Or if you’ve got an unwanted smell that’s kind of sticking around your house, consider odor-blocking paint formulas. If you really need a shorter, more natural fix, you can fill a medium-sized pot or crock pot with water and add natural scents like citrus, orange, cinnamon and simmer on medium for a few hours. And that just really spreads that beautiful scent around and it does last. I mean citrus does linger and it smells great.

    TOM: Absolutely. And you mentioned those odor-blocking paint formulas. I think Arm & Hammer, actually, had a paint. I think they partnered with somebody. I don’t remember the brands but I remembered it because Arm & Hammer Baking Soda is always this product that – I never really needed baking soda for anything but we always stuck it in the refrigerator for odor control. And now they’re sticking it into the paint. So, there are those products out there that can help take some of those bad odors away.

    And here’s something that can actually make you feel a lot better and that is to add plants. There’s some research that shows that keeping plants indoors is really good for emotional health. They’re kind of relaxing for all your senses and that indoor gardening, it can be a great hobby, as well, because it lasts you all year long.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And here’s another project that’s really easy to do but it can lift your spirit in so many ways. If there’s an achievement that somebody in your family has done – like for my son, he came in first place in the pinewood derby last year. We’ve got his trophy on proud display in the living room. I was nominated for an Emmy. I’ve got my plaque in the house. These are things that make us feel good.

    The other thing is if you’ve got family members that you love so much and they’re not with you anymore – you know, my husband passed away five years ago now and I have some really beautiful photos of places and things that we’ve done together that just instantly take you back to that moment and bring such happiness. So, personal things really do make your space truly uplifting, I feel, in a really positive way. And it could be something as simple as collecting sand from all of the places that you’ve been to on vacation and putting them in a little jar. Just think about it. Have those personal touches. It does make such a big difference.

    TOM: Good advice.

    And if you’ve got a project you’d like to take on to help you set your space up for that kind of décor, give us a call right now. We are here to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Matthew from Massachusetts is on the line with a tiling question. How can we help you today?

    MATTHEW: I recently got a tile floor installed at my parents’ house. It was a gift from my brother and I. And when they came and put it in, I don’t think they used the right underlay for the tile. And so, within a couple days after installing the tile, it was shifting a little bit and the grout was cracking. And we asked them to come back and do it but they said they were going to redo it using the same materials. And I just wanted to make sure that floor – a pier-and-beam house with a wooden, plywood floor – what type of material they need to put down before they put the tile on. Because they put down some sort of felt material.

    TOM: Yeah, that was probably just tar paper before they put the tile down.

    What did they do to prepare the surface of the floor, Matt, besides this felt-like material you’re describing? Did they put any kind of a wire mesh down, like a concrete coating, on top of that?

    MATTHEW: They sanded the floor and then I think they put thinset concrete. And then they put this – whatever this flexible fabric stuff was on top of that. Then they put the mortar on and then they put the tile.

    TOM: Now, when you say it’s starting to shift, are we getting movement of the tiles themselves or is this cracking just in the joints?

    MATTHEW: I think the tiles themselves were – a couple of them were cracking. Well, they – you’d step on it and another tile next to it would move.

    TOM: Yeah, this is not good. This is not good at all.

    So, what are they offering to do? When you say they’re going to redo it, are they going to take up all the tile and start again from the top?

    MATTHEW: Well, it’s been kind of struggle because we’ve been going back and forth with them. And they said they were going to come back, bring the same crew, use the same materials and redo it with a manager there to supervise. And we were kind of insisting that they have – that they use the concrete board or whatever – the backer board – and actually kind of go through all the proper steps that we’d researched. And they were a little reluctant to do that.

    I think we finally got them to agree to that and then they were saying they were going to do a 10-percent discount, maybe a 20-percent discount. But it’s really uncertain what they’re going to do to actually ensure the quality when they come back and do it again.

    TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, they blew the installation. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. The only reason these tiles move is because the base under them is not solid enough. And a lot of this has to do with what size tile it is.

    How big is this tile? What’s the diameter?

    MATTHEW: Twelve by twenty-four.

    TOM: Oh, yeah, that’s a big tile. And the bigger the tile, the stronger the base, because tiles don’t bend. So, if I was doing a 12×24 tile, I would do this on a mud floor, which basically means I would start with a plywood floor, I’d put down tar paper, then I’d put down wire mesh, then I’d put down anywhere from an inch to 2 inches of a sort of a cement/sand mix. And that’s what’s called the “mud.” And that gets – that dries rock-solid with no movement. And then on top of that, you would glue the tile and then you would grout it.

    It sounds to me like they didn’t put down a proper base. And if they had a problem with the base that was there, it was their responsibility to identify that for you and say, “Listen, your – this tile is not going to work on this floor, for the following reasons.”

    So, is this something you bought through a tile store for – is that why you’re getting this level of cooperation?

    MATTHEW: Well, no. We went through one of the national flooring chains.

    TOM: OK. So you’ve got somebody you can kind of go back to and have a conversation. Because if this was your average tile guy, I’m sure they would be gone by now and not answering your calls. So, it’s good that you’re working with a national chain but I do think it’s pretty clear that they completely blew this installation and it needs to be redone.

    Now, whether you have the same crew do it or not, that really depends on them. But I say that it would be in their best interest to put not only – not necessarily the same crew but their best crew on this and to make sure they take the added steps of putting in the proper base for this. Because unless you do that, it’s not going to stick.

    MATTHEW: Alright. Well, that’s what I expected. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: You can call in your home improvement question, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    Up next, are you one of the many folks planning a kitchen reno? We’re going to have tips to help you cook up an amazing space, after this.

    Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: What are you working on? We’d love to hear about it. You can post your question, right now, to The Money Pit’s website at MoneyPit.com/Community. That’s what Bill in Utah did.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Bill writes: “My kitchen counter is tile but I want to cover it in Formica. How do I do that?”

    TOM: Wait a minute. The counter is tile but he wants to cover it in Formica? It’s usually the other way around, right?

    LESLIE: Maybe he doesn’t like the tile.

    TOM: I guess not.

    I’ve got to tell you, I don’t – I think it’s going to be really hard to get that tile off. I think it’s going to be a lot easier just to replace the countertop. Once you put that tile down, it’s kind of a one-way street.

    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Well, it’s true. And then it also creates sort of an uneven surface. And as we all know with Formica or laminate, whatever you want to call it, it’s a sheet product; it’s not that thick. So it can kind of waver to whatever texture or unevenness that you have in that tile surface. So, it’s not a good thing to go on top of.

    You know, Bill, I know you’ve got your heart set on a Formica or a laminate countertop, which is great and super affordable, but there are so many other options, from granite and marble – yes, a lot of people are using marble even though it’s softer and tends to take stains more. And those solid surfaces don’t have to be super expensive. I don’t know the configuration of your kitchen but you might have smaller blocks of countertop that could use a remnant.

    And you’d be surprised how many granite yards have remnants of sizeable pieces that you can really break up to do a smaller countertop. So just think of that. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to have a solid surface.

    TOM: And I bet you could put granite over the tile, even though you couldn’t put laminate. You could put thin slabs of granite on top of the tile, so that’s another option.

    Well, kitchen remodels are popular because they almost always increase the value of your home. But take it from my favorite designer, you’ve got to have a plan. Leslie tells us how to make one, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I feel like kitchen renovations are so popular at the beginning quarter of the year because you cook so much over the holidays. And you really sort of feel all of the issues that your kitchen has, whether it’s congestion or not enough workspace. Whatever it is, you notice it because of the volume of cooking that you’re doing.

    So, first of all, make a list. When something bothers you, write it down. I mean jot down those problems. This way, you can be sure to address them in the updated space. So, pay attention to those high-traffic areas in the room, your counter space, clearances around the dishwasher and the fridge, all the things with your drawers and your cabinets. Have that list handy before you talk to a kitchen-design pro. And that will make sure that all of those trouble spots are addressed when the new room is underway and you’ll be really happy at the end.

    Next, keep in mind that not all of your kitchen makeovers need a full demolition. If you’re looking for a change simply in style without breaking the bank, work with what you have. Keep the appliances where they are but just change out the cabinet doors or refinish what you’ve already got. It really is much less expensive than buying brand-new cabinets, which can range from affordable to completely astronomically-priced. They run the gamut in prices, guys.

    Finally, if your project involves a new floor, be absolutely sure to remove any appliance that’s underneath the counter. And then install the new flooring underneath, where those appliances go. I’ve seen new floors installed right up to but not under the dishwasher. Then, of course, that dishwasher breaks down, ultimately, and needs to be replaced. And then you go to remove the dishwasher and it won’t come out because the floor has wedged it in its place. And now you’ve got to remove the counter or do something drastic to get that dishwasher out.

    So just think about these things and you’ll be so happy with the end results. And it doesn’t have to break the bank. Give us a call. We’ll help you with all of it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.

    Hey, coming up next time on the program, many old homes have plaster walls and ceilings instead of drywall. And those can be a real hassle to care for when they start to crack. We’re going to have tips for a fast fix, though, that can really last, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.

    (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.)

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