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Top Five Home Improvement Mistakes to Avoid, Cut Down High Hot Water Bills, Learn About the Warm Color Hues that Will Chase Away Winter Blues and more

  • 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: Time to pick up the tools and get to work or at least – if you don’t want to pick up the tools, OK – pick up the phone, give us a call. Let’s talk about your home improvement project. We want to help you get started off on the right foot. And that all begins with you calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2014 is the year for remodeling. So, homeowners who might have been putting off any improvements, they are expected to go for it this year. So, we are going to tell you how to do that the right way. We’ve got tips on the top five remodeling mistakes you want to avoid. And they’re going to come straight from our friend, Kevin O’Connor, the host of This Old House.

    LESLIE: Plus, do your hot-water bills have you steaming mad? Well, you can cut costs to heat your water for your home without spending a lot or even replacing your water heater. We’re going to tell you how, in just a few minutes.

    TOM: Also ahead, we’ll help you chase away those winter blues with the right hues for your wall. You want to learn which colors work best for a quick winter pick-me-up? We’re going to tell you.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the AdvanTEXT ½-Horsepower Sump Pump from WAYNE Water Systems. It’s got cellular capability to text you when you have a water problem. It’s very cool technology and we’re going to tell you more about it throughout the program.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth $329. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so let’s get to it. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Bill in Texas has a question about rusty grout in a bathroom project. What’s going on?

    BILL: Yes, ma’am. A couple of years ago, I put in a tile shower. I’d removed a fiberglass shower and I put in a tile shower. And the problem is – you know how you put the rubber barrier up like 42 or 48 inches? I put that up but I’m guessing that I should have used stainless-steel screws. Because in two spots, you can kind of detect a rust color kind of seeping through the grout? And I’m wondering if I should remove the grout and maybe try – they have that epoxy-based grout, if I should do that or if there’s – when I remove the grout, if there’s a product I should apply to kind of neutralize the rust.

    Basically, that’s what’s going on. I’ve just – I’m decently handy, so I know I can remove the grout and everything but I’m just wondering what steps I should take to prevent the rust from coming back.

    TOM: Well, the sand-based grout certainly is going to allow any rust stains to kind of permeate right through. Epoxy grout probably would not. That might be the simplest solution if it’s just minor surface rust. It’s a little bit late now to pull tile off and start changing fasteners, so I think that probably makes the most sense, Bill – would be just to remove the old grout with a grout saw and then regrout it with epoxy-based grout which, by the way, is a little harder to work with. So make sure you take your time, maybe practice off those bathroom walls before you apply it to it. But I think that’s probably the best solution in the short term.

    BILL: Now, the – for automotive, they have POR-15 and different products to neutralize the rust. Is there anything like that that you – would it be worthwhile to even try to attempt that or is it not worth my time?

    TOM: I’m not familiar with those products but my concern would be that, you know, if you got one, it’ll probably open up somewhere else along the way, so it’s kind of like you’re chasing a ghost after a while.

    BILL: OK. So maybe try the epoxy grout and cross my fingers?

    TOM: I would say so. I think there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to work out, Bill, OK?

    BILL: OK. Thank you so much.

    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 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 flows 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 five 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: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, if you’re chasing away the winter blues with some pre-spring home improvements, we’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, you can save energy and save money heating hot water for your home. We’re going to tell you about some simple steps you can do to cut those bills, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who gets on the air with us today is getting a chance to win a fantastic prize: the AdvanTEXT ½-Horsepower Sump Pump from WAYNE Water Systems.

    Now, what makes this sump pump unique is that it uses cellular technology to text you when there’s a problem.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s really cool, right? So if you’re on vacation and the power goes out or something, your sump pump is going to text you and let you know.

    TOM: And if that power does go out, backup batteries will ensure that you get that text. The AdvanTEXT Sump Pump from WAYNE Water Systems is worth $329 but it’s going out to one lucky caller that reaches us for today’s show, so get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    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 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.

    If 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.

    LESLIE: So, you turn the tap and you get hot water. But have you ever thought about what it actually takes to heat that water? You know, lots of energy dollars can be wasted but there are a few things that you can do.

    Most water heaters run on gas, oil or electric. So if your water heater is gas-fired, it’s really important to have it serviced. Those combustion deposits can actually build up and it’s going to make that water heater run inefficiently. The same goes for an oil water heater. You’re going to need the same type of servicing that you would need for your oil-fired boiler or your furnace. It’s really important, guys.

    TOM: Now, on electric water heaters, one of the two coils can burn out after a while. And if you start to run out of hot water very quickly, that’s a very good sign that you’ve got a bad coil.

    Now, an electrician or a plumber can take care of replacing it. You can also add a 240-volt timer to the electric water heater and that way, you’ll only heat water when you need it.

    Now, finally, if you’re willing to make the investment, a tankless water heater is a great thing to install. It heats water only as you use it. It’s definitely the most efficient type of water heater available. It never runs out of hot water and it’s small enough so that you can install it close to bathrooms. And that means you’ll never have to wait for the water to get hot again, especially in the morning when you’re first turning it on and it seems to take forever. That just doesn’t happen with a tankless water heater mounted close to those bathrooms.

    So, there are some ways to cut costs with your water-heating bills. If you want more info, it’s online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania is on the line with a metal-roofing question. How can we help you today?

    JIM: My question is – metal roofs. What’s the advantage of the metal over the shingle or vice versa? The cost? I see a lot of my neighbors putting the metal on.

    TOM: So, metal roofs are probably the most durable roof available today. And so the main advantage is durability. The other thing that you can get with a metal roof is today, they’re coated with low-E coatings so they can actually reflect the sun in the summer and lower your cooling costs, as well.

    The downside of metal roofs is that they’re very expensive. They’re called “investment-grade roofs,” very frequently, for a good reason. Because it’s the kind of roof you put on when you really want to invest in the house and it’s the house that you’re going to be in for the long haul. If it’s a short-term house for you, I probably would not recommend a metal roof because I don’t think you’ll get the value out of it when you sell. Certainly, you’ll get some value out of it but I don’t think you’ll get the cost of it. But if you’re like, “Listen, this is the house I’m going to be in for the next 20 or 30 years, maybe longer. I want to really do something that’s going to stand up with literally no maintenance,” then maybe a metal roof is for you.

    Aesthetically, they’re beautiful. They come in all sorts of colors, all sorts of designs and they can really make your house stand out. But they are costly. Probably, I would say two to three times the cost of an asphalt-shingle roof.

    JIM: But they’ll last 30 years, you say, or more?

    TOM: They’ll last 50 years, they’ll last 75 years. They can last even longer than that.

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

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

    LESLIE: Randy in Delaware is on the line doing a bathroom project. Tell us how you’re working on it.

    RANDY: So, a shower stall – an old shower stall – was removed with an old pan just all cruddy and moldy and just outdated. So, installing a new shower base. It’s not a mud base; it’s preformed epoxy and cement. And then, I was wondering about what type of flashing you might recommend from the framing members, behind the corners and any of these areas. How susceptible are they to these moisture issues where the corners may, with expansion and contraction, may break open or get some kind of moisture penetration. What’s the extent of the flashing system that you put behind cement board?

    TOM: OK. So, when you put on tile backer board, you don’t flash like you would if you were putting up shingles and intersection – intersecting – with siding. I mean essentially, what you do is you put the pan in, you put the backer board on, you overlap the pan and then you put the adhesive on and the tile right on top of that. That’s sort of the normal procedure for doing a tile job. You don’t really flash the board any further than just making sure it overlaps the prefabricated pan.

    Is that what I’m hearing? Are you using a prefabricated, say, a fiberglass tile pan?

    RANDY: Right. But a lot of – there are a lot of recommendations out there to run a 6-mil plastic sheet behind the backer board so that any penetration that could occur in the future hits this plastic wall. It overlaps the pan and in front of that, the backer board overlaps it. But anything that penetrates the backer board and the tile and all that hits this plastic and eventually makes its way to the pan, never actually getting to the framing members.

    TOM: I don’t have a problem with that. But let me put it to you this way: for many years, the way that tile showers were done is they simply put the green board – the water-resistant drywall – right on top of the studs and that was it; there was nothing more than that. So, by putting on a tile board, you’re already making it a lot more durable. And if you want to put a polyethylene sheet behind that, I have no problem with that. Just make sure that the shower pan that you choose goes up enough to create that good overlap at the bottom so you don’t have water that backs up into it.

    RANDY: I think that’s it.

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

    LESLIE: Twyla in Nebraska is on the line with a carpeting question. How can we help you today?

    TWYLA: Well, I have a cement-slab house and I need to replace the carpet in it that is – currently, I have carpet in all the bedrooms and the hallway. And I was wondering whether I should go with laminate or whether I should go ahead and remain with carpet.

    TOM: Well, if you like the comfort of the carpet underfoot, the hard thing to deal with when it comes to those concrete slabs is that they’re super-cold. So while you could replace them with laminate floor, the problem with the laminate is that it might be a bit chillier. You’d have to probably use area rugs. So if you’re comfortable with the carpet, there’s no reason not to replace it with new carpet.

    There is a trade-off, though. Because, of course, carpet needs a little bit more maintenance than laminate but it certainly is a lot warmer underfoot. Does that make sense, Twyla?

    TWYLA: But you have to put something underneath the laminate, right?

    LESLIE: You’ll see. Depending on the brand of laminate flooring that you select, there’s a different kind of underlayment that that manufacturer will recommend. And by underlayment, usually it’s a thin roll of foam. Sometimes the underlayment is attached directly to the back side of the laminate flooring. It really varies per manufacturer. But there is something that you’ll put in between the concrete and the flooring itself.

    TWYLA: OK. Now, do you have a recommendation on brand of laminate?

    TOM: There are lots of great brands out there. I would look for a name brand. You could look at Lumber Liquidators, you could look at Armstrong. Those are all good places to start. And just check out their websites. Get a sense as to the options and you can narrow it down from there. OK, Twyla?

    TWYLA: OK. I thank you very, very much.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Still ahead, we’re going to warn you about the five biggest remodeling mistakes that you need to avoid. We’re going to tell you what those are and how you can do so, after this.

    KEVIN: Hi. I’m Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House on PBS. From floorboards to shingles, you are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show with Tom and Leslie.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, do you feel like you have a real money pit? Maybe you’ve got a home improvement horror story that you want to share? We would love to hear about the worst situation that you encountered while fixing up your money pit. Just post your story with pictures, if you’ve got them, to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. We will share some of the best stories here on the show and maybe even send you a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re getting ready for your first major remodel, I’m sure you want everything to go perfectly. Unfortunately, home improvement and perfect are two words that you don’t often hear in the same sentence.

    TOM: Definitely. Hidden surprises are par for the course but you can’t control everything. And planning definitely gets you as close to perfect as possible.

    Here with tips on how to avoid some of the most common remodeling mistakes is Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys. Great to be here.

    TOM: Now, you actually have some advice on the top five remodeling mistakes that you can avoid. What, in your mind, tops that list?

    KEVIN: Well, without a question, I think don’t hire the wrong general contractor. I mean we’re lucky enough that we’ve got Tom Silva on our side and a lot of people would love to have him. But the lesson there is if you hire the right pro, well, those guys are going to be able to help you handle the details and provide you expertise that’s going to make your project go smoothly.

    TOM: Now, that’s a great point. And I think that folks sometimes get confused on what the role is of the general contractor. But that really is the job-site manager, right?

    KEVIN: Well, it’s the job-site manager but they’re also going to help you with things like inspections and permits. And that’s the fastest place for a homeowner to really get lost in the weeds. Those guys have done it day in and day out with the local municipality. They know what they’re doing, so that’s a big help.

    And I would say that one of the mistakes that you don’t want to make is hiring a general contractor that you’re not completely comfortable with, because it is a relationship.

    TOM: Sure.

    KEVIN: And so even if they’ve got great recommendations and you think their work is impeccable, you’re going to spend a lot of time with them. And so you want to make sure that you feel like you can trust them and you’ve made a connection with the general contractor. If you don’t feel that, keep on looking.

    TOM: Now, another tip that you have is getting bids without specs. I think this is so important because so many people invite the contractor into their home and say, you know, “How much to redo my kitchen?” Well, there’s a lot of ways to redo a kitchen. And if you don’t have the details nailed down, you’re never going to be able to compare apples to apples.

    KEVIN: A friend of ours sent me her budget for a bathroom remodel just the other day. Tom Silva and I had her on speaker phone and he just laid into it. He said, “Wait a second. What is he – got allowances for? He says tile but what kind of tile?” And as you know, you can pay 4 bucks a square foot or 40 bucks a square foot.

    Get those decisions. Figure out those details, outlined before you start. Know what you’re paying for and you’re going to have a lot less anxiety later.

    TOM: And in fact, you can do a lot of that work on your own before the contractor comes in, to make sure that you’ve established kind of what tile you do want and what bathroom faucet you want and that sort of thing so that when the contractor comes in, you have that much more information to make the process go more smoothly.

    KEVIN: Put it down on paper. It’s going to help both of you.

    TOM: Now, what about budget? How important is that to stay on track? It seems that’s a place that – the job can go south quite quickly.

    KEVIN: Well, we’ve got an expression on the show: “While you’re at it …”

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: People are always saying, “Oh, well …”

    TOM: Four most expensive words, right?

    KEVIN: Exactly. And so how many times have you gone down to the home center to get one thing and you’ve come back with 10 or 12 things? Don’t do that when you’re actually in the middle of a project. Try to stay on track. Try to make sure that you’re doing exactly what you set out to do. Don’t wander off. And that’s going to end up saving you a lot of money. Don’t get into the trap of “while I’m at it …”

    TOM: Yeah. And there’s the saying that goes something like: “Plan your work and work the plan.” That’s all great until somebody sees something they don’t like. Those changes that happen mid-project can be very expensive.

    KEVIN: Sometimes, they’re unavoidable and you have to make them. But the fewer of them you have to make, the better off you’re going to be.

    And keep in mind you’ve got to be fair to your general contractor. If you start making changes, those things are going to add up and you’re going to have to pay for those. So when he hands you a bill that’s bigger than you expected, just be aware that every time you changed your mind, there are implications to him and his work.

    TOM: Yeah. And the way to control that is with a change order, right? A written agreement that might say what the reduction of cost is or the additional costs are as a result of that change.

    KEVIN: Again, it’s that whole idea of working it out beforehand. Let him know what you want to do, hear his feedback, decide that you’re going to do it for what price and you’re going to save a lot of anxiety.

    TOM: Now, any other mistakes that we want to be careful not to make?

    KEVIN: So, there’s always these things that you can’t see, right? Beauty is only skin deep. But when you start going into a remodeling project, things are going to come up, especially in old houses. And I would say don’t avoid those fixes. Bite the bullet and make them while you can.

    If you find out that there’s a structural problem to your house when you’ve gone into a kitchen renovation or whatever, you’re just going to have to address it. The building is opened up, it’s exposed. That’s the time to do it. I would say spend the extra money, fix it while you can. Certainly, do not cover up over those old blemishes.

    TOM: Some people recommend even coming up with a budget contingency. You may not tell your contractor you’ve got the extra money but maybe if you sock away an extra 10 percent, you can cover those surprises without really putting yourself in the poorhouse.

    KEVIN: I’ve heard 10 percent thrown around a lot on the job sites. I think it’s a pretty good number.

    TOM: Good point. So there you have it. The top five remodeling mistakes to avoid: hiring the wrong general contractor, getting bids without specs, staying on track and on budget, don’t change the plan and finally, don’t ignore those things hidden from view. Great advice from our friend, Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House.

    Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Always my pleasure to be here.

    LESLIE: You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    Still to come, want to beat those winter blues? We’re going to tell you what colors will do the trick, next.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And this is Leslie Segrete. And the number to call here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, not only are you going to get the chance to ask Tom and I your question on the air and get a hand with whatever you’re working on at your money pit, you’re also going to be entered into our weekly random drawing to win a really terrific prize. And this week, we’ve got the AdvanTEXT Sump Pump from WAYNE.

    Now, this is no ordinary sump pump. What’s really cool about the AdvanTEXT is that it will send you a text message when it senses high water or even if your power goes out. Now, it’s going to alert up to three contacts and since it works off cellular technology, there is no need for a landline or even Wi-Fi.

    TOM: And the battery pack will make sure that you get that text. Plus, the ½-horsepower, top-suction design will allow debris up to ½-inch to pass through. So that means it’s not going to get clogged up very easily.

    The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call right now. That prize is going out to one caller drawn at random and it’s worth $329.

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

    LOUIS: I have a question regarding a sump pump – drainage water. The previous owner has it routed to the sewer line going to the bathroom in the basement. That’s where the sump pump is, also. And I was wondering, should I reroute that to the outside of the house or should it – is it OK where it is?

    TOM: Well, you’re technically not supposed to connect a sump pump to a sewer line. You’re correct in that it’s supposed to go outside the house. Part of the issue is that if you don’t have a check valve, for sure, if you have any backup in the sewer, it can come right straight back up into the sump pump and that’s not going to be a pleasant situation.

    So, it would be preferable that it drain outside and at least 4 to 6 feet away from your foundation of your home so it doesn’t drop water back against the foundation wall.

    LOUIS: OK, then. Well, I did put a check valve in the – I put a heavy-duty sump pump in it and it requires you to put a check valve in it, which I did. But they put a flex hose from there to the sewer line into the wall and I’m not comfortable with that. And I didn’t think it should go there but thanks for (inaudible at 0:28:32). I’ll take care of that.

    TOM: Yeah. And you are correct. So make sure you repair the sewer line when you pull that hose out, OK?

    LOUIS: I will do that. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Well, this is the time of year that really tends to drag on for a lot of people. You know, the holidays are over but it’s still a couple of months before we’re going to get those nice, long days and that very lovely, warm weather that I’m sure all of us are looking forward to. But you can perk yourself up with some paint. And some of those colors can actually be real pick-me-ups.

    Now, let’s talk about orange. Orange is a beautiful color. It comes in a ton of different shades. And when selecting one, you want to pick something that compliments your room, compliments your skin tone, even. And you want to make sure that you look at it in all shades of light throughout the day. It’s going to create a warm and inviting environment.

    You can also choose a soft shade with maybe a pink or yellow undertone and that can really liven up your foyer.

    TOM: Now, blue is another favorite but don’t be afraid to go dark. The thing about blue is that you really should paint a large swatch on the wall. Then you can check it out in different light levels. It’s an extra step that’s definitely worth it. It’s kind of like when you try on clothes. Why not try on the paint? This way, you’ll be sure that it’s exactly what you expect.

    LESLIE: And you know what I even saw at the home center, which was really interesting? It was a large sheet of – I guess sort of like a removable contact paper? And you actually can paint that and then stick it to your wall. And you can do that in a bunch of different shades.

    TOM: And you could move it around to different places so you can see how the light hits in different places in the room. That’s pretty neat.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. You know what? It was like $2. It’s definitely worth it rather than having all the random squares.

    TOM: Worth it.

    LESLIE: Alright, guys. Finally, yellow is really a happy shade but if you go too light in a room with a lot of natural light, you might not even see that color in it at all. You might end up just seeing white, so you might want to look at a yellow that’s got a deeper shade, maybe even something with an orange undertone. And any of these colors are just going to chase away your winter blues and really pep you up and start getting you ready for a fresh spring start.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Do you need to get started on your home improvement project? Well, start with us. Give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Trish in New Jersey on the line who’s got a remodeling question. What are you working on?

    TRISH: I have a wall that goes between the kitchen and there’s a set of steps that go down to the basement.

    TOM: OK.

    TRISH: My question is that’s – it’s also a bearing wall. Is it worth it for me to go through the expense of taking this wall out? And then what do I do about the – when you take the wall out, it’s going to drop down to the basement steps right there.

    TOM: Right. So, OK, it’s a big project, Trish. Really big project. Because when you take a wall out like that, you have to reinforce all the structure above it first. And you build the reinforcement, then you take the wall out, you reassemble it with different types of structural members, like laminated beams, for example, that run that span and allow you to have that sort of open space.

    Now, you raise another good question, like, “OK, what happens to the basement stair?” Well, obviously, you’re going to need a railing there. So, it’s a really big project. I don’t know if that’s going to be worth it for you in terms of what you’re going to get out of this. What are you trying to achieve, from a design perspective?

    TRISH: To have an open concept. And here’s another idea. There’s another wall that goes between the kitchen and the dining room and that’s just a small wall, because there’s a doorway there.

    LESLIE: Trish, there are some other ways that you can actually make the rooms feel larger. Considering I don’t know the exact floor plan or the situation of the space – but if you’ve got some windows in, say, your dining room, on the wall opposite it, why not put a really large mirror over, perhaps, a service area or some sort of great storage cabinet? Because the mirror will sort of help bounce the light around and open up the space and make it feel larger. Using paint-color tricks, where you slightly change one wall color to a lighter hue in the same family, can make the space feel larger, as well.

    Mirrors really are a huge help. I’m not talking about mirroring an entire wall but I am talking about – perhaps some strategically placed, really decorative mirrors will do the trick, as well.

    These are all ways – furniture layout. If you can sort of keep the flow more open to encourage a good pass-through, that can help make the space feel larger, as well. So there are ways without taking on major construction projects.

    TOM: That’ll make it look so much bigger.

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

    LESLIE: Well, the thing about the 60s – well, I mean there’s so many things about the 60s. But when it comes to home improvement or home décor, I think the big trend there was avocado and pink, even in tile color. It was all the rage. So if you happen to have bought a house that was built in that era, you might be living with those colors as we speak. But guess what? You don’t have to. We’re going to tell you how to change the color of your tile, after this.

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    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And while you are checking out the always awesome Money Pit website, you can go into the Community section and post your question there. And Debbie in Lubbock, Texas has written: “I have white, glossy tile in my kitchen. I hate it.” Gosh, she really does not like it. “It shows everything. The tile is in good shape. Is there any way to color or texture it?”

    TOM: You know, I don’t think there’s a way to color tile. I mean I know that folks have tried this over the years and they may try it with paint but it just doesn’t stick very well. I think what some of your options might be – one of which would be to change the grout color. And that’s easy to do. You can dye the grout or you can simply scrape it out or regrout. Or what you could also do is maybe break out a select number of those tiles, especially if they’re like standard 4x4s, and put in some decorative tiles pieces that can give it a nice, new look.

    LESLIE: Yeah. There’s also another option and there’s one company, which I’ve seen online. I’ve never actually worked with them but I love what they’re doing. It’s called 2Jane.com. And it’s the number 2, Jane – J-a-n-e -.com.

    And what they have is something called “tile tattoos.” And if you happen to have 4-inch-square or 6-inch-square or even subway-size tiles, they make these stickers, I guess, for lack of a better word, that will go on the tile. And there’s some quirky patterns that are really actually adorable but there’s a lot of good neutrals, good neutral patterns. So, it’s a good way to either completely change all of the tile or to create a pattern. It’s definitely worth checking out and giving it a whirl.

    And if your sizes don’t fit into those standard tile sizes, I know they’ll custom-size them, as well. So it’s worth checking out the website.

    TOM: Sounds good.

    Alright. Felipe is writing a question about removing wallpaper. He says that he can’t remove the wallpaper from the walls. It’s been on there for decades and he has at least one coat of paint on top of the paper.

    “It’s stuck for life. It’s a mess. There are bubbles, textures, designs and seams from the textured wallpaper underneath. What can I do? I’m on a limited budget.”

    Alright. This is going to be one of the toughest removal projects ever, Felipe, but I’m going to suggest a couple of things. First of all, you’re going to pick up a tool called a “paper tiger,” which is an inexpensive tool. Probably five bucks or less. And you run it across the wall surface. And what it does is it pokes small holes in that paper surface. Now, that’s important because it helps the wallpaper remover get in there.

    Next, you can try – and before I go to steam, which would be my third step – you can try applying a wallpaper removal paste. You can also try fabric softener – it works really well – on that paper. Let it soak in and see if it starts to get, via those holes, in behind that paper and you can lift it off.

    If that doesn’t work, you could go out and rent a wallpaper steamer. It’s a steam-driven wallpaper remover. That absolutely will work. You’ve just got to take your time. There’s no way to rush through this job. You’re in it for the long haul but you will see progress if you use the steamer.

    Now, once you get that wallpaper off the wall, it’s going to be important that you prime the wall. I would use an oil-based primer for that or a solvent-based primer for that. And then, I would apply only flat paint to that wall. It will be somewhat uneven. If you use anything with a sheen, it’ll show all the defects.

    So, remove it with the steamer, put a good-quality primer on it and then paint it with a flat paint and you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: Alright. Mary in Houston writes: “My sidewalk is buckled up from tree roots. I need to get the sidewalk repaired but how do I keep this from happening again?”

    TOM: Well, your only option is to either expect it to happen again in the next decade or so, because it’ll probably be how long it’ll take that tree to grow, or remove the tree. You can’t have both at the same time.

    One other option, though, might be to do the sidewalk with pavers because they can be adjusted over time.

    That’s all the time we have on this hour of The Money Pit. Thank you so much for joining us.

    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 2014 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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