Tip to Avoid Roommate Run In’s for First Time Renters #0409182

  • Home Buying and Selling
  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And what are you working on on this beautiful spring weekend? If your projects include your home, you are in exactly the right place because as soon as we get done with the show, that’s what we’re going to do, too. It never …

    LESLIE: It’s true.

    TOM: No rest for the weary. No rest for the weary. We’re here to help you with your projects because you come first, every weekend, with us on The Money Pit. If you’ve got a question about the projects you tackle in your house – maybe it’s an outdoor-living improvement, maybe you’re sprucing up your kitchen or your bath, maybe it’s a new roof that’s due or maybe it’s just how to hang a picture. Whatever it is, big or small, call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community page at MoneyPit.com.

    Coming up on today’s show, if you are renting an apartment, it’s a big step. It’s exciting, it’s terrifying and it can be both those things at the same time. But one of the scariest parts of that process is often finding a roommate. We’re going to have tips to help you avoid roommate run-ins, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And is your driveway looking worn or chipped or suffering from those nasty oil stains that – you know, you’re bound to fix your car eventually but those oil stains are still sitting there. Well, we’ve got a surefire solution to clean up those stains for good and restore that surface, just ahead.

    TOM: And are you thinking about adding a deck to your backyard? Well, one key design mistake can lead to an absolute disaster. We’ll tell you what that is and how to avoid it.

    But first, we want to talk with you about your project. So call them in, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Frieda from Ohio is on the line with The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    FRIEDA: Hi. My Amana Radarange microwave, it’s mounted above my stove. And on the bottom, the down light that shines down onto the stove, the light bulbs in that keep burning out. And I have to replace them about once a month and they’re getting expensive.

    TOM: What kind of light bulb are you using? Just a regular incandescent?

    FRIEDA: It’s like the R11, the little appliance bulbs? Forty watt?

    TOM: And is this a fairly new problem, this once-a-month burnout, or has it been going on for a long, long time?

    FRIEDA: It’s getting worse. We’ve had the microwave in here – it’s probably about 16 years old or – give or take.

    TOM: Yeah, that doesn’t really owe you any money. That’s pretty old for a microwave appliance. You’ve pretty much reached the end of a normal life cycle. In fact, I’m kind of surprised it lasted that long, because it’s been my experience that the microwave ovens that are mounted above ranges don’t last nearly as long as a countertop microwave. Because the additional heat from all that cooking has the effect of sort of wearing on those components.

    Typically, when you get a bulb that burns out quickly, it’s either because you have a loose connection, you have a loose ground or you have a problem with the voltage that’s going in there.

    Sometimes, depending on what’s happening with the power company, you could be getting, say, more than 120 volts. You might be getting 125 or 130 volts, sometimes, because there could be something that is bad down the line with the power supply – the quality of the power supply. So if you have extra volts going into those lights, that is one of the first things that tends to show it. It’s kind of like the canary in the coal mine. When the lights start to go – burn out frequently – like that, it could be an issue with the voltage.

    So, have you been thinking about a new microwave?

    FRIEDA: Not really.

    TOM: What I would suggest is at this point, you really need to have the voltage tested. So I would call the utility company and ask them to meter the voltage going into your house and see if it’s – let’s eliminate that as a possibility.

    If that is OK, I would – the second thing I would check is the plug that it’s actually plugged into. I’d check the outlet to make sure it’s properly grounded. And if it’s properly grounded, then I think you’ve exhausted the two things that are the easiest to fix and at that point, you might want to think about replacing the microwave.

    FRIEDA: Alright. That sounds good.

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

    LESLIE: Nick in Iowa is on the line and is doing a tiling project. What can we do for you?

    NICK: I did a project in my bathroom, on the second floor, a couple years ago. And I laid ¾-inch tongue-and-groove down.

    TOM: Plywood?

    NICK: Yes. And then I laid down a ¼-inch fiber-cement underlayment that is meant for tile. And I made sure that the seams weren’t in the same spot as the tongue-and-groove.

    TOM: Right.

    NICK: And it’s been – like I say, it’s been probably two years and I’ve got just a hairline crack running through all my tile that’s right on that tongue-and-groove seam. And I’m getting ready to start a kitchen project where I’m going to do some tiling. And I guess I want to know if you had any suggestions on where I might have went wrong.

    TOM: Well, the very best floor base for a tile project is called a “mud floor.” Do you know what a mud floor is?

    NICK: No, I do not.

    TOM: So a mud floor is one where you put down tar paper first, then you put down woven wire mesh, then you mix up a sand-and-cement – essentially, mud. It’s a very dry mix; not a lot of water to it. Generally, it’s one bag of Portland cement to about 40 shovels of sand. And when you mix it perfectly, you can kind of hold it and it forms sort of a ball in your hand, right?

    Now, you take that mud and that mud mix and you spread it out across the woven wire mesh. And you’ve got to be a pretty good do-it-yourselfer to pull this off, because it’s really a professional tile guy’s way of doing this. But you spread it over the mud. You use a long, straight edge to kind of get it absolutely perfectly flat and you let it dry. And it’s got to be a minimum of maybe 1-inch thick and it could go up to whatever you need it to be.

    For example, I have a laundry room in the second floor of my house. Really old house. And we decided to tile that and there’s just no way I could level this floor any other way. And so, we put down a mud floor. It was about 1 inch on one side of the room. By the time we got to the other side of the room, it was about 2½ inches because the floor had that kind of a slope in it. But then when we were done, it was perfectly flat and absolutely rock solid.

    If you put a mud floor down, you will never, ever, ever get a crack, if you do it right. That’s the best way to do it. Any of those tile-backer products are subject to expansion and contraction and that may help develop some cracks, not to mention the fact that it can’t really help you level a floor that’s out of level.

    Now, when – you said you were doing this in the kitchen. We’ll give you an additional caution: you’ve got to be very careful around the dishwasher. Because if you put a thick floor around that dishwasher, you may not be able to get the dishwasher back in again. Or you can do as this ridiculous tile guy did at my sister’s house. He tiled her dishwasher in. So when the dishwasher had to be replaced, I had to help her take the countertop off of the sink, off of the cabinets, take the sink out, take the countertop up in order to lift the dishwasher out from the cabinets and replace it, which was really ridiculous and very annoying.

    NICK: That doesn’t sound like what I want to do, no.

    TOM: No. So don’t tile your dishwasher in and watch the thickness of the floor so that you can actually get the dishwasher back in if you take it out.

    NICK: Alright. Sounds good. Thank you very much.

    TOM: Call us. We’ll give you more work, 888-666-3974. Thanks so much, Nick.

    You know, we always say, “Do it once, do it right and you won’t have to do it again.” And that is absolutely true when it comes to putting down tile. If you don’t take the time to put in a proper base, you will ultimately be repeating the process.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show 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.

    TOM: Up next, renting your first apartment is a big step that’s both exciting and terrifying, all at the same time. But one of the scariest parts of that process is finding a roommate. We’ll have tips to help you avoid a roommate run-in, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And hey, 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 you can trust. Plus, it’s 100-percent free to use.

    LESLIE: And hey, you want to know what else is free? We’ve got a great prize up for grabs this hour if you call in or reach out by the Community section. We’re giving away an iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and a supply of staples.

    And let me tell you, with those staples, you will tackle so many projects around your house. You can make things pretty, you can make things better, you could put things together. I promise you, you will find tons of projects. And if you’re at a loss, you can head on over to their website at ArrowFastener.com, click on Projects. Tons of ideas there.

    It’s a great prize. We’re giving away a $35 stapler and $15 worth of staples for a total value of 50 bucks.

    TOM: Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Louise in Delaware is on the line with some carpenter bees visiting her home. Tell us what’s going on.

    LOUISE: Yes, ma’am. I have a deck in my – at my back door and I have a roof. It doesn’t extend all the way out to the end of the deck. Just about halfway. And I’ve been having, for several years, a major problem with carpenter bees. They actually make perfectly round holes in the roof of the deck.

    And I had an exterminator a couple of years ago and he said he would spray it but no guarantees. And he sprayed it and maybe for about five days I didn’t see them but they came right back. But someone told me – it was actually another exterminator, a really older lady. She said to get steel wool and put steel wool in the holes because they can’t get out through the steel wool. Because my cousin put cotton balls soaked in bleach in the holes she had on her deck and they actually ate through the cotton balls and they ate through the caulking.

    TOM: There’s the do-it-yourself methods and there’s the professional methods. I’m troubled by the fact that you hired an exterminator – it sounds like it was some time ago – and he wouldn’t guarantee a result. That’s not acceptable. Most professional exterminators have the tools, the knowledge and the pesticides to effectively eliminate carpenter bees with a reasonable guarantee of success.

    So, if you have such a serious problem as this, I would definitely suggest that you go find yourself a new exterminator, maybe from a national-brand company like Orkin. You’d have better success with that.

    Now, if you want to do this yourself, the reason that the bees form those holes is because they’re nesting. And so the way they’re treated is you spray a pesticide inside those holes. You can also spray something that’s petroleum-based inside the holes, because they don’t like that. You can fill them with steel wool.

    There’s lots of ways that you could try this yourself. But given the severity of the problem, I would suggest you find a good exterminator that can treat it with the right type of pesticide and you not have to worry about it. And I don’t think you had a pro last time. You get a pro to address this problem and just get it done, once and for all, alright?

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, renting your first apartment is a super-big step that’s both exciting and terrifying, all at the same time. And one of the scariest parts of that process is finding a roommate. So, here’s what you need to know.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, having a roommate – I’m talking about one or more – can certainly help to ease things up a bit. Rent’s expensive and of course, you’ve got to factor in all of those other bills of living in a big city, as well. But you’ve got to make sure that you and your roommate are compatible. Is everybody neat? Are people noisy? Are they going to be late with their half of the rent?

    Now, this isn’t something that you really want to deal with when moving into your first place. You want to make sure you get all of this stuff sorted before you actually move in.

    TOM: Yeah. Now, next, let’s talk about the money. Nothing is worse than having someone you count on stiff you for part of a bill that’s supposed to be a shared expense. You want to determine if your roommate is one that pays his or her bills on time. You don’t want to get stuck with a bill just because your roommate doesn’t care about having good credit. Because this definitely can affect your future.

    Also important to set up who’s going to pay for utilities. Will the lease be in both your names or is it just your name? The more these details are flushed out up front, the happier you will be in the long run. It’s kind of like you have to negotiate the divorce before you negotiate the marriage, you know what I mean?

    LESLIE: I mean that really is so true. And roommates, it’s even more of a delicate situation.

    Now, aside from those roommates, you’re going to have your neighbors to deal with, as well. And nobody wants to move next to a neighbor who’s constantly throwing those late-night parties or leaving trash in the hall or constantly having screaming fights with their spouse. Whatever it is, you want to make sure that everybody is a good fit. So try to talk to those neighbors before you move in.

    And while you’re at it, use the opportunity to ask them about the landlord. The last thing you want is to get stuck with one who never fixes anything or is inflexible when you’ve got a problem. It’s all a big puzzle and everybody’s got to sort of fit and work together.

    TOM: Good advice. For more tips just like that, check out “8 Things You Need To Know Before Getting Your First Apartment” online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Wally in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    WALLY: I’ve got a little problem with a drainage tile. I have a 3-foot drainage concrete over tile that was running through a property. And it’s right on the property line and it goes into and marries up to a 3-foot steel tile – 3-foot steel drainage tile. The concrete tile has corroded and broke and is collapsing, which is causing water to come up through the ground. I’m not really sure how to get these two tiles back together, what the solution is for this, whether it needs to be an excavator or – I don’t know.

    TOM: So, how deep are we talking about here?

    WALLY: The top of the tile is only about 10 inches below the ground. It used to be – what it is – it’s a runoff off the road, which goes through, actually, three properties. And then it goes back into an open (inaudible). All this tile that was …

    TOM: But Wally, if it’s only 10 inches off the surface, then the easiest thing to do is to dig it up from the surface and repair it.

    There are ways to repair pipes that are in place underground. There are ways to line pipes. There are systems out where, essentially, a fiberglass sleeve can be put inside of an existing pipe that has failed and cracked. But they’re pretty expensive and you usually reserve those for places where you can’t dig. But if you can access this thing within a foot of the surface or 2 feet at the surface, then it’s definitely worth it.

    WALLY: Definitely worth it. Yeah, it’s making a big mess. We had such a hard winter up north up here that I think some just gave and broke and got a big mess, actually.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, if it’s that high up in the soil line, it’s above the frost line so, obviously, when it gets wet, it freezes and it cracks. It expands and cracks. So, that’s something that’s going to keep repeating itself because of its position.

    WALLY: So, that’s the solution is some kind of fiberglass liner, so break the – break that tile or the concrete pipe back further, then try to slide a bigger tile into it? And then into the steel?

    TOM: No, no. No, no, no. No, no. You misunderstand.

    WALLY: OK.

    TOM: What I’m saying is that you want to dig down and replace the sections of broken pipe.

    Now, if you don’t want to do that, you can line the pipe. It’s not a do-it-yourself project. You need to find a company that can do it. And the way that’s done is they push from – they access the pipe at one point and they push what kind of looks like a fiberglass sock into the line. And then they fill the pipe with hot water that cures it and forms sort of a tube or a pipe within a pipe.

    But that’s the kind of thing that you do if you’re going under driveways or around pools and stuff where you really don’t want to cause any …

    WALLY: Nope. This is just through a yard.

    TOM: Yeah, if it’s just through a yard, just dig it up, replace it and call it a day.

    WALLY: OK. Thank you very kindly.

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

    LESLIE: Stuart is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?

    STUART: I’m wondering at what point in a house life should you look at the insulation in your attic and reinsulating?

    TOM: Well, if you have insulation that’s old and you notice that it’s sort of sagging and compressed and no longer fluffy, at that point I would remove the insulation and replace it. If you’ve got insulation that’s still pretty fluffy and it holds a lot of air but you just don’t have enough of it, then you can add additional layers on top of that.

    You do that with unfaced fiberglass batts. You lay them in perpendicular to the existing insulation to try to get up to that, say, 15- to 20-inch level of insulation. Because at that level, you’re going to be super insulated and it’s really going to make a big savings in your heating costs.

    STUART: OK. But if it’s flat, it needs – remove before you put further insulation on top of it. It needs to have a little bounce to it, I guess.

    TOM: If it’s old and it’s flat and it’s compressed and it’s sagging, then I would take it out and start from scratch.

    STUART: Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Stuart. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, is your driveway worn or chipped or suffering from nasty oil stains? Well, we have got a surefire solution to clean up all those stains for good and restore the surface, just ahead.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And with Earth Day coming up, you might be thinking about some Earth-friendly projects that you might do. And one of which is adding solar energy to your home. Is it a good idea? Will it increase the value of your home?

    That’s a question that was posted to our Community page this week, Leslie. And it got me thinking that, you know, I think the answer is: it depends. Because surely, some folks that want to buy your house might be impressed by the fact that you’re generating all or part of your electricity. But if you’re buying these solar panels under sort of a lease arrangement and the new buyer has to accept the terms of that lease, that’s kind of like a decision you made for them that affects their financial future. And I could see that getting sticky. They may even demand that whatever the balance on that lease that’s outstanding be basically taken off the cost of the house or certainly paid up front from you as an additional fee.

    So, I think you need to be really careful about whether or not – make a decision based on a perceived increase in value of the house, because it may or may not be there.

    That said, there’s a lot of other very easy, Earth-friendly improvements you can make that cost a lot less than solar panels, like simply beefing up your insulation. And those types of projects always give you a great return on your investment.

    LESLIE: Nancy in Oregon needs some help with some spring cleaning. How can we help you today?

    NANCY: My siding gets green on it and so does the riser on my stairs. And north flower beds get lots of moss in them and I was wondering how to keep the moss out without harming the flowers.

    TOM: OK. So this is a very common problem and especially when you have shaded areas. When you don’t have a lot of sunlight getting to a space, typically it can get a lot of algae and a lot of moss.

    Now, one way to deal with this is with a mixture of bleach and water but that can definitely kill your flowers. There’s another product out there that is more effective and much safer. It’s called Wet & Forget.

    NANCY: Wet & Forget. Now, that’s for the stairs and the siding?

    LESLIE: Yeah. It really is a great product, because what you do with it is you just sort of spray it on the surfaces, which would be your siding and the staircase, and then you just let it sit there and do its job. As it gets rained on, as it just sort of sits there, it works to get rid of the mold, moss, algae, mildew, whatever is there. And it works in a way that it sort of just stays there and will continue to work over time.

    You’re going to put it on. You’re not going to see it happen right away but give it a couple of days, a week and you’ll see it start to go away and then be gone. And it’s usually around 35 bucks a gallon or so and you can find it at Ace Hardware and other types of shops like that. And it’s a great product.

    NANCY: So you put it on full strength?

    LESLIE: Yes. Nancy, it’s a concentrate so what you need to do is you want to dilute it about 2½ cups of the Wet & Forget to a gallon of water. And again, you just apply it. Within a few days, you’ll start to notice it working and that’ll really do the trick.

    Now, for your flowerbed, I think what you really want to do is try to get more sunlight into the flowerbed, because that will deter the moss from growing. Obviously, it’s a shade garden so that’s kind of what happens in that space: you’ll get moss. And you probably have plants in there that do well or best in shade. So if you can get a little bit more sunlight in there, that will truly help to get rid of that moss.

    NANCY: Well, Wet & Forget sounds like a good thing to try.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if your driveway is stained from oil leaks or cracked and worn, now is a great time to clean it and seal it. So, beyond stain removal, driveway maintenance is really going to depend on whether you have a concrete or an asphalt driveway.

    First of all, let’s really talk about what those oil stains are. It’s just oil. It’s coming under your car. You want to make sure you clean it up as quickly as you can, if possible. And to do so, you want to mix up a solution of trisodium phosphate but you want to keep it in a paste form. Now, you’re going to find this in the paint aisle of any hardware store and you can apply that TSP paste wet to the stain. And then let it sit on it for about an hour or more and then rinse away. Now, the sooner you can get to this, the better. But even old stains can be successfully removed with this approach.

    Now, you can keep those stains away but you’ve got to fix that car. Come on, guys. We all know where it’s coming from.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s the first step, right?

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: Now, if you’ve got asphalt driveways that need to be resealed, you want to use an asphalt-compatible product and fill the gaps and the cracks and the holes first. And then pick up a disposable squeegee to apply a grade. And when you’re looking at grades, you might want to consider the airport grades; those are the much more durable commercial-grade latex sealers. And that goes over the entire surface.

    You do want to check the weather before you do this because you need some drying time to make sure that it’s going to properly set up. And after you wait through that drying time – and whatever it says on the can, I would probably add a couple of days to it – you’ll be good to go with a very attractive entry to your house that’s going to last you for about another full year.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Alright. Now, if you have a concrete driveway that’s got a worn surface, it really is best to apply a concrete-resurfacing product to the entire driveway surface. Those concrete resurfacers are specially formulated to stick to the old concrete. And that’s going to leave you with a driveway that looks almost brand new.

    TOM: For more tips, take a look at our new post, “Driveway Sealing and Maintenance 101” on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Darren in Delaware is on the line with a carpet-removal question. Tell us what’s going on.

    DARREN: We have wool rugs down. They’re, oh, about 40 years old and they’ve wore like iron. And the situation being now, you can see – start wear patterns in them. Well, we picked some up – we’re going to replace the rugs – and the padding underneath, going back 40 years, was like a rubber-type padding.

    TOM: Right.

    DARREN: And it was taped in place and it’s all stuck to the oak hardwood floors.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    DARREN: And we can pull some of it up but most of it is stuck down. Do you have a remedy for removing that without damaging the floor and getting it ready for new padding and carpeting?

    TOM: Well, there’s no way you’re going to be able to do it without damaging at least the floor finish. But if you’ve got beautiful oak floors, why are you going to recarpet?

    DARREN: Well, unfortunately, they had area rugs in this home all that time. I don’t know. Easy maintenance. And it was beautiful around the perimeters and the rugs, they did their job.

    TOM: Well, I mean easy maintenance, you get that with a hardwood floor, too. I’ve got to tell you, if you want to do something that’s really going to add some value to your house, I would show off those beautiful hardwood floors and not put carpet back down.

    But if we can’t talk you out of that, you’re going to have to scrape that padding off. There’s no easy way to do this. You can get a big floor scraper. It looks like the same tool they use to scrape roof shingles off houses; it’s like a long, metal pole with a flat blade at the bottom. And just get as much off as you can.

    But if you did want to refinish those floors, you get as much off as you can and then you hire a floor-refinishing company. You don’t do this yourself, because they’re going to need a real big belt sander that does this job. And it’s the kind of thing that you can rent but unless you use it every day, you’ll ruin your floor. And you can sand the floors down and bring them all down to the original wood and then stain them and finish them and they’ll be beautiful.

    DARREN: I see. Now, let me ask you: if you leave it bare floors, there’s no carpeting or rugs or – how about area rugs?

    TOM: Oh, you put area rugs on it. And you – it could be a beautiful décor element, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I feel like nothing makes a room feel larger, more elegant, more well put together than a beautiful wood floor. And then add on top of that a fantastic area rug, then you’ve really created and complimented the look of the space.

    And Tom’s right: when it comes to value, people love wood floors.

    DARREN: OK. Sounds good. We’ll give it a try. Looks like we have a lot of work ahead of us.

    TOM: But it’ll be worth it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you thinking about adding a deck to your backyard? One key design mistake, though, can lead to a disaster. We’ll tell you what to avoid, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And you are listening to The Money Pit.

    You can post your home improvement question to us 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.

    TOM: And if you’re a little shy about picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’ll try this: let’s try a bribe. If you do pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, we will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat because we’re giving away the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and a supply of staples. This is the go-to tool for a wide variety of projects around your house. You can get step-by-step advice on a lot of those projects at ArrowFastener.com. Just click on Projects.

    The package is worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Well, are you thinking about adding a deck to your backyard for the warmer weather ahead? One simple yet surprisingly common design mistake could lead to a disastrous deck collapse. Here’s what you need to know.

    TOM: Now, structurally speaking, attaching the deck to the house is one of the most critical connections. If you get this wrong, you’re going to invite rot, you’re going to invite wood-destroying insects, like termites and carpenter ants to get in there, and you could even invite a deck collapse.

    In fact, this happens every summer, usually around Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day. You get a whole bunch of folks that are attending a party. They’re up on these decks. Way more people than are normally there. And maybe the deck is a little bit weak and they all get a very dangerous ride when the decks give way and collapse from all that weight. So, that connection point to the house is critical to get right, for all those reasons.

    LESLIE: Yeah. So just don’t put your friends or family at risk. You want to make sure that that connection is solid and properly flashed to keep all that water away and avoid disaster. Never use lag bolts to connect a deck to the house, as they can really loosen very easily and then just pull out. Through-bolts, which go all the way through the box beam and are bolted on the inside of the house, are a far more secure connection. And you’ve just got to do it.

    TOM: For more tips, check out “Deck Design Ideas for a Safe Structure” on MoneyPit.com. More tips? Look up our post, “Deck Design Ideas for Safer Structures.” It’s on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Bob in Washington is on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you today?

    BOB: I’m looking at putting a roof on the home and in the Yellow Page ads, there’s – one advertises against the other. There’s two; they’re larger contractors here. And one suggests that he’s better by using a hand-nailed technique versus the air-mechanical. And I’d like your thoughts on that.

    TOM: Well, I think it makes no difference whether the roofing product is nailed by hand or nailed with an air gun. Both are completely acceptable ways to fasten roofing products to the house.

    I think what makes the difference between one pro or the other is really their workmanship. So I would not be confused by competing claims of how a roof is nailed. I can see somebody using that as – it’s kind of like hand-cut, hand-finished, hand-nailed. You have this sort of vision of something that’s quality in craftsmanship involvement, right? But I really don’t think it makes a difference.

    But what makes all the difference when hiring a roofer is the quality of that work and how well the roof is put together, especially when it comes to those intersections that have to be flashed. So, if all else looks good with these two roofers, I would do a deeper dive on their references and perhaps check online sites like ServiceMagic or Angie’s List, sites like that, to just double-check what their reputations are, talk to past customers.

    Last time I had to hire a contractor that I did not know, I did get a list of references. And I’ve got to say, I think the contractor was quite shocked when I actually called these folks. So get their references and call them and you’ll find people are generally very willing to talk to you about their experience with the contractor. So, I think that’s the best way to proceed. Workmanship makes all the difference when it comes to hiring a roofer.

    BOB: On the roofing material, up in the Northwest where I am now, would – is there – and I’m looking at a conventional, three-tab, asphalt-type composition roof. Is there a better grade of material or something that I should be looking for? As you can tell, this is a first-time roof for me, so …

    TOM: Are you in a high-wind area?

    BOB: We do get quite a bit of wind up where I’m at, up – kind of up on a hill.

    TOM: I would consider the wind-resistance but a product like an Owens Corning shingle is excellent. But I would definitely consider the wind-resistance and buy a product that’s weighted for – that’s rated for wind. Some of those – I know some of those OC shingles are rated for over 100 miles an hour.

    LESLIE: I think it’s even up to 150.

    TOM: Yeah. The good news is the roof will be there; the house, not so much.

    BOB: Well, thank you so much. That’s been enlightening to me to hear what you have to say.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, my little organizing secrets using kitchen items to store your supplies. Would you believe that a muffin tin could be used as a jewelry organizer? We’re going to have that and more organizing hacks, coming up.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, 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 find a home pro you can trust.

    LESLIE: Alright. And speaking of trusted home pros, you’ve got two right here. So post your questions to the Community section and we can help you out.

    Liz from Florida writes: “We recently discovered our refrigerator water line has been leaking for some time. My biggest concern is that previous owners laid the kitchen tile and the wood flooring on top of an original layer of tile. And I’m concerned that a lot of water might be trapped.”

    TOM: You know, that’s a valid concern but my experience would say that there’s probably not much to worry about if that leak was fixed. Because the water is going to dry out and it’s probably going to dry out a lot faster than you’d imagine.

    The bigger concern is really structural. If the water leak went on for a long time, you could have a rotted-floor situation. And that needs to be fixed, even if it involves removing the tile. I would press my foot around that area and see if the tile appears to be soft or the floor appears to be soft. And if it does, you’ve got to dig a little bit deeper to see what kind of damage you’re looking at.

    LESLIE: Geez, Louise. I mean I feel like those water lines tend to leak quite a bit, so you’ve got to stay on top of them.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Sandra in New York who writes: “The first two rows of Italian ceramic tile above the tub have a gray stain that looks like mildew. However, the stain is not on the surface and appears to be coming through the tile from the back. What can I do?”

    TOM: That sounds like mineral-salt deposits. What happens is the grout is very absorbent, so the water gets in there and it dries but leaves its salts behind. I would use a vinegar-and-water solution to scrub that tile. I think – yeah, white vinegar. I think – otherwise, you’re going to have red grout, right? Pinkish, weird, pink grout. Yeah, no, scrub it out with a vinegar-and-water solution and I think you’ll be good to go.

    Well, spring is a great season for closet cleaning. And if you’ve got a lot of accessories, it can be hard to find places to keep all of that organized. The solution might be to repurpose some of your common household items. Leslie has got some tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah. Did you know that you can use kitchen items to organize your bedroom closet? For example, guys, a rolling pin. It could make the perfect bracelet or watch holder. You can use shower rings on a hanger for scarves, ties or belts. You can use muffin tins to store little trinkets, like pins or earrings, or you can use them for cufflinks or tie pins or even to sort spare change.

    Now, those toilet-paper rolls that you toss are a perfect way to keep tights from getting snagged in your lingerie drawer. You just roll them up inside the tube and then you can label them what color, the sheerness, the size, all of that stuff so they’re easy to find and not just a big pile of pantyhose stuffed in your drawer. You can also do this with socks to avoid that one navy/one black sock problem that we all tend to have.

    And finally, a corkboard with some cute, decorative push pins is a great way to hang costume jewelry, like necklaces. And it also makes them very easy to see when you’re accessorizing for the day.

    I mean if everything is organized in your closet as you’re getting ready to start that day, think of how much better your day is going to go. So get organized, look stylish and make the day go easily.

    TOM: Great advice.

    Coming up next time on the program, adding a storm window may be a smart move if you’ve got an older house with beautiful but perhaps drafty windows. But is it a job you can take on yourself? We’ll have the step-by-step tips on that project, 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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