Smart Choices in Smart Appliances #0326182

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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 to help you with your home improvement, your décor dilemmas. Whatever project you’d like to get done to improve your house, your apartment, your condo, your co-op, whatever you call home, whether you’re hanging a picture on the wall or putting a new roof on the house, give us a call right now. We’d love to chat about that project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

    Coming up on today’s program, if you love the look of real hardwood but you don’t have the budget to handle it, well, engineered hardwood and engineered bamboo are both great floors that can be a solution. We’re going to have details on those projects, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, Consumer Reports experts have put together a simple guide for homeowners, with tips to navigate the rapidly changing world of smart appliances. Daniel Wroclawski, from Consumer Reports, is joining us to explain the smart way to buy smart appliances.

    TOM: Plus, leaking tubs and leaking showers, they can be a real mess to deal with. But many occur because the tub or the shower was never caulked or grouted right to begin with. We’re going to give you the how-to on that project, to kind of clean them up and stop the leaks.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’ve got a great, fun tool to give away. It’s the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun. And it comes with a bunch of staples, so you will have so many projects that you can tackle. And that’s a prize worth 50 bucks.

    TOM: Give us a call right now. We’re standing by for your calls, your questions. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

    LESLIE: Walter in Pennsylvania is on the line with a slow-draining tub. Nothing is worse than that.

    What’s going on, Walter?

    WALTER: Tub was working fine one day and then, all of a sudden, we’re taking a shower and the water starts building up. So we let it out. I throw some Liquid Fire down in there, let it sit overnight like it says and nothing happened. And now, the tub just slow-drains and it’s really nasty. I tried Liquid-Plumr. I even bought one of those things where you can stick down into the tub and you supposedly pull out anything, which is like 1 or 2 feet long. But nothing seems to be working.

    TOM: It means that wherever the obstruction is, it’s too far down the pipe for you to reach.

    WALTER: Right.

    TOM: So, I think you’ve done everything that you reasonably can do on your own. This line has to be snaked.

    Now, you could do this yourself if you want to go out and buy a plumbing snake. And you might want to – they come in different lengths. I think up to about 25 feet I would consider a DIY length. Or you can hire a drain-cleaning company. But clearly, the drain has an obstruction in it that is beyond your reach with the products that you’ve used and with the small – I know what you mean by that very small snake.


    TOM: It’s good for cleaning hair out of drains but beyond that, not so much. But you’ve got to get to that obstruction.

    The one other thing that you can try – but honestly, I don’t think it’s going to work in this place. In this case, I think you’ve done what you can. But sometimes, what I tell folks to try is to take a wet/dry vac and to put it over the drain and suck it up. So, basically, you’re going to pull whatever is in the drain up, back into the bathtub. And if there’s an obstruction, usually in the trap or right beyond the trap, it can grab it and pull it out.

    The other risk, though, is it could just jam it in further and now it’s worse than ever.

    WALTER: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Or get it stuck a different way.

    TOM: And because you’ve tried so many things and this has been going on for such a long time, I pretty think it’s beyond that trick of the trade. But I figured I’d mention it anyway. I’m afraid you’re going to need to hire a pro for this one, my friend.

    WALTER: Going to have to hire a pro. Alrighty. That’s kind of what I didn’t want to do. Wanted to see if I could do it myself.

    TOM: Yeah, well, I appreciate that and let you know that sometimes you’ve taken it as far as you can. And you’re just going to have to turn it over to the guys that have the tools and the training to get it done.

    WALTER: Alright. I appreciate your call.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Also, there’s some finesse to it, you know? It’s like you can’t just jam the snake down there.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

    LESLIE: And you might cause more damage.

    TOM: Well, that’s true. Because it always feels like you’re going to damage it. I’ve had to snake out plenty of toilets in my day and that S-trap that’s right built into the bowl, it always feels like it’s going to pop out the other side of it while you’re trying to clean that out. So, yeah, you’re right: it does take some practice, as well.

    LESLIE: Karen is on the line now, dealing with some unwanted visitors. You’ve got flies? What’s going on?

    KAREN: I have I think what is called “cluster flies.” I’ve never heard of them before in my life. I thought they were coming out of the register at the bottom. I have the heat register and the air-conditioning register at the bottom of the floor. And they seem to be accumulating in my master bedroom.

    TOM: Yep.

    KAREN: Now, I called an exterminator and he says, “Well, it sounds like you have cluster flies. Are they lethargic?” I said, “Yeah.”

    And they look like a regular house fly. Last fall, I must have killed – I can’t even tell you how many of them.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah.

    KAREN: I was freaking out.

    TOM: Well, yeah, there’s a big population of them and you’re chasing after them one at a time here. They’re called “cluster flies” or sometimes you call them “attic flies.” They’re …

    KAREN: Yes, I looked it up.

    TOM: Yeah, they’re pretty common. It’s the kind of thing that if you’ve tried just sucking it up with a vacuum and that sort of thing, that there’s just too many of them. You’ve got to put the right pesticide down. It’s just – it’s usually a pyrethrin type of a pesticide. And in some states, you can buy it over the counter but frankly, I don’t recommend it. I think you’re probably better off, at this point, hiring a pro. They know exactly what to put down, in exactly the right amounts to make this problem go away. And I think you’re just going to frustrate yourself by chasing after it one fly at a time.

    There’s too many of them. They’ve got you outnumbered and I think you need to get the right product to fix it up.

    KAREN: Terminator, he wanted like $700.

    TOM: Seven-hundred dollars? That’s a lot of money. This is a …

    KAREN: That’s what I thought.

    TOM: Listen to me, this is a service call, OK? This is not a “we’re going to pay for our kids’ college in one visit” kind of a call. This is a service call and it should be charged at a service-call rate. Now, there are pest-control companies out there.

    And actually, I have one in my local town that I actually contracted with where I could have paid, I don’t know, maybe a couple hundred bucks for the one service call or I could have paid $500 and had them do two treatments a year and be kind of on-call for everything else. And that was the option that I took because I knew I lived in a very old house, on a dirt basement with five separate crawlspaces that insects love to infest, and we don’t like to see them upstairs. So, I did take advantage of that and it worked out quite well for us. I mean that would be a reason to maybe pay a little bit more if you’re going to get a service contract out of it with some built-in service calls.

    KAREN: Yeah.

    TOM: But just – this is just one – this is a one-time thing. It shouldn’t be a $700 – why don’t you do this? Why don’t you go to, look at the reviews for pest-control firms in your area and find one that’s highly reviewed. I guarantee you anybody that charges $700 for a service call is not going to be highly reviewed and you’ll find the best ones for this particular project.

    KAREN: Well, he – I asked him if he had – if it was a contract. Because he initially told me 245 for the initial visit and then $45 a month whether he comes here or not. I’m like, “Get out of here. I’m not letting you charge – hit my charge card for $45 a month even – whether I see you or not.”

    LESLIE: That’s a lot.

    TOM: I don’t blame you.

    LESLIE: No, that’s a lot.

    TOM: No, I don’t think you have the right guy. So like I said, go to, look at the guys that have the best reviews, call one or two of them and take it from there, OK?

    KAREN: Alrighty. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: What’s your how-to or décor question? Call us now 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.

    TOM: Just ahead, if you love the look of real hardwood but don’t have the budget to manage it, engineered hardwood and engineered bamboo floors might be a perfect solution. We’ll have details on that project, just ahead.

    Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone right now. We’d love to chat about your how-to project. The number is 888-666-3974. And 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: Hey, if you’re looking for some help with whatever it is that you’ve got going on at your money pit, we are here to lend a hand. But if you’re looking for some awesome tools, give us a call, as well, because we’ve got a great prize to give away this hour.

    We’ve got up for grabs, to one lucky caller or one lucky poster to The Money Pit, an iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, plus a whole bunch of staples. So you can instantly start tackling so many DIY projects.

    Now, you’re like, “What can I do with a staple gun? Everything.” You can upholster just about anything.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: You can make framed things, you can do bulletin boards, you can repair just about anything that needs fastening with an Arrow T50 Stapler. It’s awesome.

    It’s all chrome-steel housing. It’s jam resistant, which is so fantastic. It’s got a powerful coil spring. You can actually see how many staples you’ve got in it. And all steel working parts. And there’s so many things you can do but I love that has a whole section on projects that you can do with your T50 Stapler. So, if you need some inspiration, it’s all there. If you need some help, give us a call for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Courtney in Rhode Island is looking for some gardening tips. What can we do for you?

    COURTNEY: I’m trying to find a spot for my raised garden bed. I’d like to put it behind the house, which is the north side. And I remember last year the spot being full sun but last week, I noticed it was completely shaded. How can I tell where it was going to – where a good spot would be, you know, when it comes time to plant?

    TOM: Yeah, I think you’ve just told yourself. Yeah, it depends on how high the sun is in the sky. And right now, it’s early spring.

    LESLIE: Right. And it’s also – it’s a seasonal thing.

    TOM: Yeah. And it’s a seasonal thing. So, in order for you to get full sun for the longest period of time, it has to be in a more wide open space with no obstructions. And the north side of the house is generally not the best place to put a garden, because it typically is the cooler side of the house.

    And I had a situation, when I first moved to my home, that was like that, where we had a spot that always been used in the garden. Because we had loved there – my family lived there before that – I kind of didn’t notice how big the trees had gotten but I did notice that my garden was getting smaller every year until I was like, “Duh. I’ve got to move the garden.” And once we moved it to a full-sun southern spot, the garden production pretty much doubled and then tripled.

    So, I think that you basically have to get it somewhere else other than the north if you really want to have a long season here.

    COURTNEY: Gotcha. Alright. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly floor option but you don’t have the budget for a solid-wood floor, engineered hardwood and engineered bamboo are both really good options.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Engineered-hardwood flooring is made with a real hardwood top layer. And that layer is attached to a structured wood core. And once it’s installed, engineered hardwood looks just like solid hardwood. But because there’s less hardwood needed, engineered-hardwood floors, they cost a lot less.

    TOM: Now, another big benefit for engineered hardwood is that the core structure makes the floor dimensionally stable. That means you’ve got a lot more options when it comes to installation. It’s less likely to be impacted by humidity or temperature change, so you can pretty much use it on every level of the house, including – and this is one thing I really like about this product: you can use it below grade. So, if you want to put it in a basement floor, you couldn’t do that with real hardwood or solid hardwood but you could do it with engineered hardwood.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I think another great thing is that there are so many options when it comes to the installation of the engineered floors. Now, engineered hardwood and engineered bamboo are available as tongue-and-groove flooring that you can nail down, glue down or even just edge-glue together to form a floating floor.

    And if you’re looking for an even easier installation, some of the products are available as a quick-click floor, which means that the boards just sort of lock together with no adhesive or clamping. And that’s perfect for a DIY floating-floor application.

    TOM: Now, let me give you a tip: if this is a project you’re thinking about doing, it’s important to let the product acclimate to the room that it’s going to be installed in. So, basically, that means you want to pick up the flooring a few days in advance and then leave it in the room that you’re going to install it in, for about three to five days, so it’ll get used to the temperature and the humidity of that room.

    And if you’re doing the installing yourself, be sure you follow the instructions that are provided by the manufacturer. The whole process is pretty easy and it just looks great. It looks great right away; there’s no delay. You put it down, you’re like, “Wow. Did I do that?” And it looks fantastic.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And make sure you follow all the instructions as far as what underlayment is needed, if any, so you’ve got everything with you, ready to go on the day of installation.

    And that’s today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators. With over 90 varieties of engineered hardwood and bamboo in a wide array of styles, textures and colors, Lumber Liquidator is sure to have the perfect engineered flooring choice for any level of your home.

    TOM: Visit Lumber Liquidators stores nationwide today or online at Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Heather in Tennessee who’s dealing with a flooring situation. What happened?

    HEATHER: Well, my husband and I were – we have a water filter on our countertop. And we overfilled it one day and it leaked out onto the hardwood and while we were at work. And it’s left a 6×8-inch-diameter area of bulking of our hardwood floors. I can’t really see it but you can feel it when you’re walking over it with socks on; it kind of snags. So I didn’t know if there’s anything that you could do because – a DIY project? Or do you have to have the whole floor resanded, restained? I really don’t want to go through all of that mess.

    TOM: Well, if the floor is swollen, it’s kind of a one-way street and you’re not going to be able to kind of get the toothpaste back in the tube. At this point, if you want to try to make it flat and smooth again, you do have to sand it out.

    Now, it might not be as terrible as a project as you think. You may not have to do the entire floor; you might just be able to do a repair of that particular area. Do you happen to have the stain and the finish that was used on that floor?

    HEATHER: I don’t, I don’t. And I actually – another reason I’m kind of leery of it is because we got the same man that did our hardwood floors to begin with come back and put hardwood in our bedroom. And they don’t match whatsoever. So I’m kind of really worried.

    TOM: Let me ask you another question. Do you have any extra pieces of that floor anywhere?

    HEATHER: I don’t.

    TOM: Do you have any area of the floor that’s less noticeable, like in a closet or a pantry?

    HEATHER: Yes.

    TOM: OK. Here’s a solution for you. A good carpenter can do this. You can basically cut out some of the floor that’s in the lesser-visible area. Cut out enough of it to be able to use to repair the area in your kitchen. Then you could cut out the bad boards, throw those away and then insert the boards that you salvaged from the closet area. And then go ahead and repair that closet area with whatever is handy or whatever new you can purchase and stain it to get as close as you can.

    And because it’s inside the closet, no one will probably ever know – be the wiser for it. Yet you’ll have some boards that match exactly the damaged boards in the kitchen, in order to repair that spot. How about that?

    HEATHER: That sounds a whole lot better than resanding everything, so …

    TOM: Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jim in Missouri is up next and he’s got an issue with a foundation. In fact, perhaps a room’s even broken off. What is going on over there?

    JIM: Well, I’m falling apart.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Holy moly.

    JIM: I have a front bedroom that goes up to the hall and a bathroom. And it seems to want to leave the rest of the house. It’s a slab, 1,300-square-feet house. It’s pulling away from the rest of the house.

    TOM: And where is the split itself?

    JIM: It would be between the bedroom and bathroom and probably – I don’t know for sure but it probably goes underneath the hallway.

    TOM: And do you sense that this is an active problem, that the cracks have gotten wider?

    JIM: Yeah. Eventually – I mean originally – some split on the other side of the wall from the bedroom.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: And it cracked along from the outside, across – under the tub, into the bathroom. And I don’t know if it went any further than the vanity or not.

    TOM: Alright. So, listen, I think that this is a …

    JIM: And they repaired that.

    TOM: Well, how did they repair it? Did they just seal it or did they do some sort of structural repair?

    JIM: Really just put it in the – they sealed it and then put mortar out to cover up …

    TOM: Yeah, that’s not a structural repair; that’s a cosmetic repair.

    Jim, I hate to tell you this but you really need to talk to a structural engineer, because this sounds like it’s potentially serious. It’s ongoing now and you’re seeing old repairs basically break apart, which means it’s moving. So you need to have an engineer look at this and figure out what’s moving, how quickly it’s moving and what we need to do to stop it from moving and design a repair to do just that.

    And then once you have the design, you can have it fixed. But the contractor now is going to follow the engineer’s design, not their own sort of speculative way to fix this. And then once the contractor completes the repair, you can have the engineer reinspect it and kind of give you a letter that says it was done correctly. And that’s the best way to not only get it fixed but make sure you’re protecting the house for a future sale, so it doesn’t become an issue at that point.

    JIM: Well, that’s what I’m going to do is sell the house. And I know – I heard your program, oh, a few weeks back on this. But I was in the car and I couldn’t do anything about it.

    TOM: I do think that a lot of times we see cracks in these slabs but what you’re describing is potentially serious. I definitely would recommend that you have a structural engineer take a look at it first and then take it from there.

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

    LESLIE: Up next, Daniel Wroclawski, he’s the appliance expert for Consumer Reports and he’s joining us with tips on how you can navigate the expanding role of smart appliances in your home, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, within the next two years, most major appliance makers will be offering extensive lineups of smart appliances. That means you’ll soon be able to start a load of laundry from your phone while you’re at work or ask Google Assistant to preheat the oven or automatically reorder dish detergent from Amazon when your dishwasher detects it’s running low.

    TOM: Well, while more and more appliances are going to feature that connectivity, it can also be hard to tell which ones work with Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest and whatever platform is to come next, let alone what these integrations actually do. So to help, the folks at Consumer Reports have put together a simple guide for homeowners, with tips to navigate the rapidly changing world of smart appliances. With us to talk about that is the guide’s author, Daniel Wroclawski.

    Welcome, Daniel.

    DANIEL: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

    TOM: This is a great topic. I mean folks naturally get very frustrated with trying to figure out how all this smart tech can work together. It’s bad enough just to kind of get, you know, your device of choice to work. But now we’re talking about integrating with a wide range of appliances that are going to keep coming on the market here over the next several years. It’s a bit of an arms race to kind of keep up with all this, from the manufacturer’s perspective, but it doesn’t help the consumers much because they’ve got to keep learning at the same pace.

    DANIEL: Yeah, that’s very true. It is definitely a very tricky market, especially when it comes to these connected appliances. It can be really tough to know which appliances work with Alexa or Google Assistant or what-have-you but even just to know that they’re connected in the first place. There are already appliances likely in some consumers’ homes that they’re not even aware that they have this functionality.

    LESLIE: Now, that’s interesting. Do you think that’s lack of education on the consumer’s part or a lack of information from the actual manufacturer in getting this new, cool, high-tech stuff to the owner?

    DANIEL: I think it really is a lack of information and of just proper messaging from the manufacturers. They just – they don’t really market this stuff. They’re starting to now; it’s definitely changing. But if you look at smart appliances from just maybe, let’s say, two years ago, you wouldn’t really know it. They might have something in the manual but in all honestly, how many people actually bother to look in their appliance manual?

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: True.

    DANIEL: So it’s just really tough to know. So, short of Googling the model number of your appliance, it’s really tough to figure out if they have these abilities and if so, what they do.

    TOM: Now, I think the other thing that we’re seeing a lot of right now – and it’s bad now; it’s going to get a lot worse in the future – is what I term “app fatigue.” Every one of these smart products that comes out has its own app and then claims to work with three or four other major platforms. And so, we end up with dozens of apps controlling potentially dozens of different things. And sometimes, they don’t all play well together. Do you think we’re going to see any kind of a reorganization of that sort of infrastructure so it becomes easier for consumers to manage these smart appliances?

    DANIEL: Yeah, it’s an interesting problem that you bring up. And I don’t think a lot of people have really looked into that and tried to figure out a way around it. But I do know of one particular group that’s kind of trying to come up with a solution and that’s the – it’s called the Open Connectivity Foundation. And it’s basically just an industry group of all these different appliance makers. I believe they count Haier and GE and Samsung and LG and a bunch of these big appliance makers.

    And what they’re trying to do is create an open standard where you could have one app, say, from GE or Samsung and it’s able to at least recognize and give you basic control over appliances made by another appliance maker. And that’s a pretty big deal but it’s still in its very early stages. And I think it’ll be at least a year or two until we start to see that materialize.

    So, it is definitely something that manufacturers are at least aware of. We don’t live in a world where everyone buys all LG or all Samsung appliances, as much as they wish we would. So they are working on a solution but it’ll take some time to see how that really plays out.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit. We’re chatting with Daniel Wroclawski and he’s the appliance editor with Consumer Reports.

    Now, Daniel, with all of these sort of new things that are going on with these smart appliances, how are you helping everybody to really navigate these waters?

    DANIEL: For starters, over at Consumer Reports, we put together the very handy and extensive guide that breaks down, by appliance maker, what integrations are available for the appliances that they make, whether that’s Alexa or Google Assistant or Nest or Amazon Dash. We’re really trying to make it clear that these are the integrations that your washer that you’re looking at in the store might have.

    TOM: Right. Well, that sounds like a good first step. But any sort of words of warning? Because I suspect that as much hard work as you guys put in to putting this guide together, it’s probably going to be out of date and somewhat obsolete in six months. So, how do we stay on top of this moving forward? What should consumers be asking themselves or asking their appliance retailer before they make a purchase, if they expect to take advantage of some of these features and benefits that smart technology brings?

    DANIEL: We do plan to update this guide as new integrations are announced and change. But when consumers are shopping for a new appliance, if this is something they want, they really need to be up-front with the salesperson and say, “Look, I want an appliance that works with Alexa or Google Assistant.” And if they’re knowledgeable, they should be able to point you in the right direction. And if they’re not, you might want to try a different salesperson or different store or even just do some research on your own. In many cases, if you even just Google the model number of one of these appliances, you’ll be able to get a good idea of what features it has and doesn’t have.

    TOM: Daniel Wroclawski, the appliance editor for Consumer Reports, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    Check out the Consumer Reports guide for homeowners, with tips to help navigate the ever-changing world of smart appliances. That is online and on newsstands now.

    Thank you, Daniel.

    DANIEL: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright, Daniel. Thank you so much.

    Hey, just ahead, leaking tubs and showers can be a real mess to deal with but many occur because the tub or shower simply wasn’t caulked or grouted the correct way to begin with. We’re going to tell you how to wipe the slate clean and stop the leaks, in today’s Building with Confidence Tip presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, after this.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And whether you’re buying, selling or just enjoying your home, we are here for you every step of the way. Call in your home improvement or décor question, right now, to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    LESLIE: Diane in Minnesota has got a steamy bathroom. Tell us what’s going on.

    DIANE: Yes. The exhaust fan, it just does not seem to take the steam out of the bathroom at all. It just doesn’t work.

    TOM: Well, where is the exhaust fan mounted? It’s on the ceiling and goes into an attic? Is that correct?

    DIANE: Yeah, it’s in the ceiling. I just live in an apartment, so I’m not exactly sure where it goes but …

    TOM: OK. Well, see, that would be a good place to start. Because you want to make sure when you turn on an exhaust fan that you can see it actually exhaust somewhere. And generally, it’s going to be a vent outside the building somewhere. And you can turn on the exhaust fan and see that vent open. So you need to figure out – or if it’s an apartment, you need to have a super figure out where it’s exhausting. Because it could be obstructed, it could be crushed, it could be blocked, it could be terminated. There could be a lot of things wrong with it.

    And the other thing that you might want to think about – and you may or may not want to do this, because it’s an apartment and not a condominium that you own, but there’s a different type of exhaust fan that’s out now. Broan and NuTone make it. Same company. It’s called ULTRA. And what’s cool about it is it has a moisture-sensing switch built into it – a humidistat – so it runs whenever the room gets moist. So, you can kind of set it and forget it. And you take a shower, it’ll just stay on until all the moisture is evacuated out of the room and then go off again.

    DIANE: OK. Well, thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright, Diane. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, if you’ve ever had a tub or shower leak, you may know that these can be somewhat tricky to diagnose and fix. And the reason is that they’re inconsistent. I mean sometimes they leak and sometimes they don’t. But the reason for this inconsistency is consistent. And that’s because tubs and showers leak because of very small gaps that develop in the grout of the tile walls or in the caulk seam that’s around the lip of the tub. It’s always in one of those two places.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, if you’re finding it in the walls, what’s happening is that as the water hits your body, it splashes back against the wall and then lands in all those little gaps between the tile, where the grout maybe has fallen out. So, to fix this, all you need to do is regrout the walls. And that’s a very simple DIY project.

    TOM: Now, for the tub, caulk will tend to separate from either the top edge of the tub or the bottom edge of the tile. And that let’s water get behind those seams. The solution is to remove all the old caulk and then fill up the tub with water to kind of weigh it down, much the same way it gets pulled down when you step in it.

    Now, once it’s filled, you can recaulk the tub and then let it dry and then drain the water. As the tub comes back up, it’s going to compress that caulk and it will not pull out again.

    LESLIE: And that’s today’s Building with Confidence Tip brought to you by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. It’s completely online, reduces annoying and time-consuming paperwork and gives you a real, accurate and personalized mortgage solution based on your unique financial situation. No hidden fees or hassles.

    TOM: Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. Apply simply, understand fully, mortgage confidently.

    LESLIE: John, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    JOHN: I have the rainspout in my house in two different areas, that when it rains the water goes behind the rainspout against the soffit or fascia against the house and comes in between the rainspout and the house. A lot of the water does go down the rainspout but some goes behind the rainspout. And I’m afraid it may drip onto the wood and start rotting the wood. And I don’t know how I can fix that from occurring.

    TOM: So, it sounds to me like the gutter is becoming overflowed – is overwhelmed and so the water is backing up over the back edge of the trough of the gutter?

    JOHN: I don’t think that’s the case. It’s not overflowing but somehow, the water is being carried away but yet there’s still some water making it, to your point, behind the rainspout, towards the house. And I know it’s not an overflow situation. And I had a new roof put on about two years ago, so …

    TOM: Alright. So, typically, when gutters are installed by roofers, the downspout is a 3-inch downspout or a 4-inch downspout. And it’s pierced through the gutter body down into it. And the hole that is actually created there is a fairly small opening. What we usually recommend is to use a larger downspout – one that’s a 6-inch downspout – because it has less restrictions. And this way, more water can fall in.

    JOHN: OK.

    TOM: I suspect, however, that joint between the downspout and the gutter was made, it’s allowing for this to occur. So, you know, the simple thing to do is to get a ladder and get up there and take a good, hard look at it, grab a hose, run some water down the roof. Watch if you can see exactly what’s happening in that space and what’s letting the water get behind it. But I suspect that the connection between the downspout and the gutter is not done correctly.

    You could try to fix that and you could try to seal it. Maybe you have to mechanically take it apart and bend or rivet or something in to get it where it needs to be and then seal the whole thing with silicone caulk. Or if that doesn’t work, you might want to try to switch it out to a larger downspout. And that will have less tendency to hold any of the water back. And gravity will take over and that will be that.

    JOHN: That just sounds like a solution to me. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea to get some silicone in there, too. OK.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, if your dog loves the mud – which my dog does – setting up a dog-wash station is a great way to make sure that only the dog makes it back into your house. We’ll have tips to help you build your own, 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 on The Money Pit’s Community page, right now, or call us 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: Alright. And you’ve got two of us here, right now, who can help you out. You can post a question on, which is exactly what Zack did in Atlanta who writes: “I have several small chips on the edge of my granite kitchen counter. Is it OK to buy a DIY kit to fix this or should I go ahead and hire a pro?”

    TOM: You know, it’s tempting to buy an over-the-counter chip-repair kit to fix granite but those kits are not to be compared with the work of a granite-repair pro. I think the key difference is, Leslie, that the kits use a thick sort of paint-like material to fill in that chip and the pros actually use real granite. I mean I’ve seen these guys actually rebuild the damaged portion of the countertop and make it match perfectly so you absolutely cannot see it. And then it really is a very, very permanent repair.

    So it’s the kind of thing where you get what you pay for. Hiring the pro is going to be a lot more expensive but in the long run, it’s definitely the best way to fix any kind of defect in your granite top.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And Zack, remember that a natural-surface countertop does require regular maintenance. That’s sealing, that’s properly cleaning. So you have to make sure that you take that on so it’ll last for the long haul.

    TOM: Well, when you head out to walk your dog on a rainy day, does your dog seem to take a beeline to every single puddle or mudhole he can find? If that sounds like your dog and he loves the dirt, you might be a perfect candidate to build a do-it-yourself dog-wash station. Leslie has tips on just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    You’ve got a dirty mutt, don’t you?

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. Sherman. I can’t even explain. On the sunniest, dry day, this dog goes out into the yard and somehow ends up covered in dirt and mud. I swear to you, he is tunneling out under my fence. I have no idea how he does it. But he really is just a messy dog.

    And you know what? All dogs truly seem to have a way of finding the muddiest puddles and they just want to jump in them and the biggest piles of snow to play in and the dirtiest variety of things that they will happily roll around in. And you don’t want them to bring all that grossness – the dirt, the grime and all the dampness – back into your house when they’re ready to come inside. Because what happens is they get all filthy and then all of a sudden, they’re like, “Yay, I’m done. Let’s go back in the house.”

    So, when the dog is all excited like that, do you really want to grab them and bring them into the house and put them in the tub? You don’t because you’re just going to make a big mess. So, that’s why a conveniently placed home dog-wash station truly comes in very handy.

    Now, dog washes, they’re kind of like rectangular shower stalls with a spray hose and nearby shelving. So you can just clean off your boots, hands and beloved family pet after you come in from your messy adventure.

    Now, they’re most useful when you can build them into your mudroom or if you don’t have a mudroom, somewhere near your most-used exterior door, whether that’s the front, the back, the kitchen. You can store towels and dog shampoo nearby. You can quickly and easily wash and dry that pooch before they bound off into your nice, clean carpet and furniture. Because that’s what they love: they love to be covered in mud and then jump right on your new couch. Not that that’s happened but they love that.

    So, really, it’s a great idea to have one. Plus, you know what? This home dog-wash station is a great place to just take off all those muddy and snowy boots and not even think about trekking them into the house. It’s such a great thing to have.

    TOM: Are we talking about me with those muddy boots dragging them into your house?

    LESLIE: Maybe.

    TOM: Hey, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Thank you so much for spending today with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, some advice, some ideas to get projects done around your house. It is the spring season. It’s a time when we love to get outside and clean our houses from the outside, clean them from the inside, expand our outdoor-living spaces and all of those sorts of fun things you can get done when the weather warms up.

    We will be here for you. If you’ve got questions, you can always reach us at 888-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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