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 we are here to help you with your home improvement projects, your décor dilemmas. Whatever is going on in your money pit, give us a call right now. We’d like to help you get it together and get that project done. 888-666-3974 is the telephone number.
Coming up on today’s program, of all the ways to create hot water for your home, electric is clearly the most expensive. But new heat-pump technology might change all that. We’ll have details on that technology, just ahead.
LESLIE: And also ahead, after the long winter, wouldn’t it be nice to get away to an island? Well, if that’s not possible, how about simply adding a kitchen island? What do you guys think? Will that work? We’re going to have some design tips that’ll help.
TOM: Plus, adding a driveway marker can be a fun and practical project that can step up your curb appeal. We’ll have a few tips for building that project, just ahead. But first, what projects are on your mind? We want to hear all about them at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
[radio_anchor listorder=”3″]LESLIE: Carol in Rhode Island is on the line with a basement question. What’s going on at your money pit?
CAROL: Hi. I’m renovating a little ranch and when I removed the paneling in the basement, I discovered a crack in the foundation. So, I’m wondering what the right way is to repair that crack and then, also, to seal the foundation.
TOM: Can you describe the crack, Carol? Is it horizontal or vertical? And how big is it?
CAROL: It’s vertical and it goes from top to bottom and it is probably about 1/16-inch.
TOM: Well, that’s not terribly concerning to me.
TOM: I know it’s concerning to see any kind of crack in a wall but if it’s only 1/16-inch and the walls are still flush, they’re not – one wall is not pushed out further than the other, then I think you should just treat it as a cosmetic matter right now. And I would pick up a masonry caulk. QUIKRETE makes a product that does this. And I would just simply caulk that line from top to bottom.
If you noticed more movement over time, then I might tell you to get an engineer to look at it. But just a hairline crack like that in the foundation is pretty typical. How old is this house?
CAROL: I would say it was built in the 50s and I plan on putting the panel – some paneling back.
CAROL: So that crack is going to be covered at that point.
TOM: The crack is flush. In other words, both sides of the wall are still in perfect alignment or is one …?
CAROL: Yeah. Yes.
LESLIE: Not one’s sticking out?
TOM: Yeah, it sounds pretty typical. And so I wouldn’t be that concerned about it.
CAROL: OK. And what can I seal the foundation with before I put paneling back up?
TOM: Well, you could use a moisture-resistant paint for that. There’s products like Thompson’s Water Seal and other types of products like that, that are foundation-wall paints, that are simply designed to give you good adhesion. Remember, if you have a leak issue, those paints are not going to stop it from coming through.
TOM: You need to have good grading and drainage at the foundation perimeter, good gutters and have to be cleaned, extended away, soil sloped away, that sort of thing. But if you just want to stop the surface humidity from getting into the house, then that’s definitely something you could consider.
CAROL: Very good. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Carol. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania is looking to install a hot tub. Lucky duck. Tell us about your project.
JIM: We’re looking to install a hot tub indoors, in a sunroom that we have in our house. My big question is I’m concerned about what kind of ventilation I would need to put in and what I – what sort of treatment I would need to do to the walls to avoid mold and damage to the walls.
TOM: Oh, come on, Jim. Suck it up and put it outside. Go out there with your bathing suit on in the winter, drop in and everything will be good. No moisture problems. Save yourself a lot of aggravation.
Alright. I tell you what, you are absolutely right to be concerned, because those hot tubs are moisture machines when you put them inside a building. And you absolutely most dehumidify or vent to the outside. They put off so much moisture. If you don’t, you can have all sorts of mold problems and air-quality issues. So, that is as much a part of this project as getting the tub in.
And you might want to rely on your tub installers or the company you’re buying this from for some specific advice. But there are systems designed for this that either dehumidify the air that’s in there or there’s one that pressurize the space a little bit. And in doing so, it sort of moves the moisture out. But one way or the other, you have to plan to get that moisture out of that space or you will have some of the issues pop up that you’re rightly concerned about.
JIM: OK. So, damage to the walls, do you know – do I need to treat the walls? Would I need to, you know, put some sort of laminate on the walls or something like that or …?
TOM: Well, if you have standard drywall in a high-humidity situation like that, you’re going to get mold that grows. There’s mold-resistant drywall. If you want to replace the drywall, you can. But that’s kind of dealing with it after the fact. I want you to stop that moisture from growing to the point where …
LESLIE: Before it’s a problem.
TOM: Right. Before it’s a problem. And that’s why you need to really focus in, initially, on the dehumidification system that you decide to deploy, OK?
JIM: OK. Well, thank you all very much for your time. I appreciate the information.
TOM: You’re welcome, Jim. Good luck with that project and thanks so much 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. Give us a call. Let us know what you are working on this March weekend.
You guys, we are so close to spring. Come on, let’s all just think positively. Let’s get over this March hump and let’s just have a beautiful springtime. So let’s get our houses in tip-top shape. We’re here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, building a driveway marker can be a fun weekend project that adds to your curb appeal. We’re going to have tips to help, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Standing by for your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
People are always asking what improvements we’re doing in our home. And sometimes, the improvements are rather small. Leslie and I actually both did the same improvement recently. We got new mattresses.
LESLIE: I mean it really does make a huge difference.
LESLIE: We got the new mattress at our home for my little guy, Charlie, who’s four and shouldn’t have the princess-and-the-pea syndrome. But it’s like we had bought a mattress; I ended up buying something that was too firm. And truly, for the three, four months that we had that mattress, every night was like, “It’s so uncomfortable. I don’t like it. I don’t want it.”
Well, step in Tuft & Needle who very nicely sent us a twin-size mattress. And it’s one of those compressed-foam ones that truly, the best part was when we opened it from the package and it went from this tiny, rolled-up thing to this massive, super-comfy mattress. And I have to tell you, my four-year-old is sleeping through the night, which is really good for everybody. I’m not going to lie.
TOM: Yeah, that’s great. He also posted a pretty funny picture because apparently, your new doggie loved it too, huh?
LESLIE: We just adopted a dog from Kuwait, actually. There’s a foundation called Wings of Love, Kuwait. And they rescue these dogs from overseas and they come over. And Sherman – he came with the name; we love it; it kind of suits him – he is really not allowed upstairs. He’s still being housetrained and we keep him downstairs.
But I was changing Charlie’s sheets and I didn’t realize that the gate was open. And I turn around and the dog is sprawled out right across the mattress. And you can see in the picture I posed Sherman smiling. He looks so comfy. And I’m serious, everybody. I think there’ll be another one in our future because my older boy is jealous. He’s like, “This mattress is really comfortable.”
LESLIE: It is. It really is. So thanks.
TOM: I’ve got to tell you, if you’ve ever had one of these foam mattresses, watching them inflate when they come shipped flat is just amazing. Mine, like yours, was about an inch thick.
LESLIE: It’s amazing.
TOM: And now it’s like 14, 15 inches tall. So, pretty cool stuff and a nice improvement to make, for not a lot of money, from the folks at Tuft & Needle.
[radio_anchor listorder=”6″]LESLIE: Anthony in Iowa is on the line with a question about baseboard heaters. What can we help you with?
ANTHONY: Yeah. I have the old-school baseboard heat. Got forced air that extends around the perimeter of my house. So, essentially, what I have is two different kinds – sizes of baseboard in my house. And I’ve kind of come to the realization that I’m probably going to have to create a baseboard to match the baseboard heat.
TOM: Well, let me just stop you there for a second, Anthony. When you say you have forced-air baseboard heaters, do you mean you actually have ducts coming through these baseboards? Or do you mean you have a hot-water system with fins where the air sort of washes through it?
ANTHONY: No, I have – it’s baseboard created out of metal and there’s actually a gap in between my wall and the baseboard.
ANTHONY: About a ½-inch to ¾-inch on the exterior walls throughout my entire house. Then the other baseboard that walks up to it is 2 inches shorter than it and quite a bit smaller profile, tighter to the wall.
TOM: Right. You have a forced-air system or a hot-water system in your house?
ANTHONY: Yes. Nope, it’s forced air.
TOM: Wow. That’s a very unusual – what you’re describing is a very unusual configuration.
LESLIE: That’s really crazy.
TOM: I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.
ANTHONY: I used to be plumber. I used to build houses and I’ve never seen it before in my life.
TOM: Yeah. Wow.
LESLIE: And lucky you. It’s in your house.
TOM: Alright. So we’re no alone here. So I guess we’ve got to get creative with this. So, I guess what you’re saying is that you want to extend or modify some of these rooms and you’re wondering how best to accomplish that. Is that correct?
ANTHONY: Yeah. Just to make the profile look a lot better. It’s looking kind of janky the way it is.
TOM: Yeah, I’d love if you would send us a picture of this.
ANTHONY: Oh, I can do that.
TOM: Yeah. That would be …
LESLIE: He’s like, “Oh, I have lots of them because it’s weird.”
TOM: That would be super helpful.
ANTHONY: Yeah. Everybody that comes into my house, they kind of look at the baseboard and they kind of think it’s falling off the wall but it’s not.
ANTHONY: It’s how the air comes through.
TOM: Yeah. So how does the air get to it? Is it from below? Is there a duct underneath it that feeds it up?
ANTHONY: It’s really odd because I had to put cable in my bedroom. And I know this is a no-no but I had to actually drill a hole to get the cable through.
ANTHONY: But I had to come out 16 to 18 inches from the wall because it’s all duct through there.
TOM: Yeah. That’s really odd. Well, listen, send us some photos, let’s take a look at it and then we’ll get back to you and see if we can figure out a workaround.
TOM: Sometimes, you’ve got to deal with what you’ve got there.
TOM: And wouldn’t make sense to tear it all out.
TOM: So there ought to be a solution. And we’ll see if we can help you come up with one. I’d like to do a little research on it, as well.
TOM: Alright? So ship that off to us to show at MoneyPit.com. We’ll take a look.
ANTHONY: OK. Thank you, sir.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
[radio_anchor listorder=”2″]LESLIE: Christine in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CHRISTINE: We have a 1930s home and the owner, he built it for himself and lived here for a while. The electricity has been replaced since then and it’s a new box with the on-and -off switches and a lot of labels, including one that says “gutter heater,” which I’m serious about.
CHRISTINE: But the question is we’re painting the whole house and all the outlet boxes are being replaced and the switches. And we’re replacing the switches but the wires look like they’re original to the home. Do those need replaced as well?
TOM: How old is the wiring? When was the home built?
TOM: Is it knob-and-tube wiring? Do you know what that is?
CHRISTINE: Well, I thought that meant what was in the box. So I guess I do not because the box in the basement is just the switches.
TOM: The panel may have been fuses and then upgraded to circuit breakers but what you’re concerned about is the wiring in the wall. I’ll say this, if it’s knob-and-tube wiring – which is the original form of central wiring that was added to homes around that time, by the way – that type of wiring has to be replaced because it’s not grounded and it’s not groundable. If it’s really any other type of wiring and as long as it’s wired correctly – and your electrician can check all that – then you could probably keep it.
TOM: But knob-and-tube wiring is easy to spot. It’s a black rubber coating. It is strung along the sides of wood beams from ceramic tubes. And whenever it goes through a beam – it’s strung from the side of beams with ceramic knobs. And whenever it goes through the beams, there’s a ceramic tube that goes through it. And that type of wiring is very unsafe.
So, other than that, I think as long as everything’s wired properly, you should be good to go. It’s not a do-it-yourself project, by the way. You need to have a professional electrician do this work for you, Christine, OK?
CHRISTINE: Is it possible that the wiring – because I didn’t see anything that looked like what you’re describing. But I don’t see how they could not have – how they could have replaced it if the wiring that I’m seeing – it looks like, you know, it’s just coming out of the light switch, say, under the box plate. It’s got a cloth covering all around it.
TOM: You should not be doing this work yourself, Christine. This is not a difficult thing to assess for a professional electrician. There are a lot of places, aside from inside those boxes, where you can see the type of wiring. Any exposed framing in the attic or basement, for example, you’ll see this wiring, OK?
CHRISTINE: Thank you so much.
TOM: We’d love to tell you to do it yourself. This one I’m telling you don’t do it yourself, OK? Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you may have noticed that the homes that really stand out are the ones that have the little something extra at the end of their driveway. I’m talking about a driveway marker, guys.
TOM: And there is the aesthetic reason, of course. They look nice, set off your home from the street and they kind of create a tone that’s just a notch above. But they can also help identify your house. Everyone from delivery people to, more importantly, first responders like fire, police and EMTs – all great reasons to take on this project.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, often in rural areas, a mailbox is the only thing that can identify your driveway from the main road. So adding a marker can really help people find your house. And it’s super important that you have one.
Now, there are a lot of different types of driveway markers that you can use: stone, brick, wooden or even metal fence pieces, you name it. Now, the one you choose is completely up to you but you’ve got to take your home’s style into consideration. If you live in a modest Colonial-style home, you’re probably not going to put in giant columns on either side of your driveway. That really just won’t match your home’s style.
TOM: Yeah. There’s really four things to consider if you’re going to do the project: the size, the material, adding reflectors – very important to make sure it’s easily visible from the street and at night – and the installation. You want to make sure your markers, no matter what material you choose, are not going to go anywhere anytime soon.
So these can be big and elaborate or they can be really as simple as two sections of white picket fence kind of set at a corner angle on either side of your driveway. Totally DIY but kind of a great project for you to take on in just a very short part of your weekend.
888-666-3974. If there’s another project on your to-do list, we would love to hear about it at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
[radio_anchor listorder=”5″]LESLIE: Sue in Wisconsin is on the line with a question about a humidifier. How can we help you today?
SUE: Yeah, hi. Just want to say I love your show.
TOM: Thank you, Sue.
LESLIE: Hey, thanks.
SUE: And I had a humidifier, a little kind of unorthodox one for 10 or 15 years. But now that’s gone and is there any humidifier that the homeowner can put on the furnace?
TOM: Well, not really. I mean they’re not designed for homeowners to install. If you’re super handy, I don’t see why you couldn’t do it. But usually, it involves cutting into the ductwork, getting it set right. There’s plumbing involved and there’s electric involved. If you have an outlet nearby that you can plug it into, then that solves that. The plumbing’s not terrible but you have to have a small water line that goes into it. If you’ve got an old water line that you can tap into, that may not be too bad.
SUE: Yeah. I do. I have both of those.
TOM: And the other thing is, though, that the humidifier technology has changed a lot today. And so the old ones that maybe had that sort of squirrel cage-looking drum that would circle around through a puddle of water, you know, those are really ineffective and they grow mold in there. The new ones – newer ones – that have a trickle-down coil and they can work on humidistats that sense outside temperature, they’re actually computer-driven. They sense outside temperature and inside temperature. They can calculate exactly how much moisture you need.
So there’s a lot of benefits from getting a higher-quality unit than perhaps what you had before. And then, of course, you would have that professionally installed. So, can you do it yourself? Yeah. I would put it in the advanced-DIY category. But if you buy a better-quality one, I think you’re going to get more use and comfort out of it.
SUE: I see. Do you have any recommendations?
TOM: I would take a look at Aprilaire for one. They make a very good one, OK?
SUE: OK. Well, thank you so much.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, how can you tell if your water heater is doing its job and better yet, doing its job efficiently? Well, we’re going to find out when Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House, stops by The Money Pit.
TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is brought to you by Proudly Propane. Clean American energy. We’ll be back with Richard and more, after this.
JOE: Hi, this is Joe Namath. And if you want to move the ball on your home improvement projects, listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
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 I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And what are you working on this almost early spring weekend? We can think positive, can’t we? It’s not that much longer before the spring officially arrives. So if you’ve got a project on your to-do list, let’s talk about it at 888-666-3974.
[radio_anchor listorder=”4″]LESLIE: Julia in Rhode Island is on the line with a question about flooring. What can we do for you?
JULIA: In my home, I have hardwood floors and they’re beginning to show some wear, particularly in the walking-path area.
JULIA: I’m not quite ready to have the total floor area fully sanded yet but I’m calling to ask if you have any suggestions on how to go about to improve the appearance of that traffic area.
TOM: Well, I mean if you used a floor wax on it, you could buff it up a bit and that might give you a little more shine. But if the finish is wearing off, it’s wearing off.
TOM: And you may not have to sand them down completely. In fact, I recommend that unless there’s deep scratches or deterioration in those boards, what you really want to do is just have the surface lightly sanded to kind of clean it up. And then put another layer of urethane or two on top of that. There’s a machine called a U-Sand machine that professional floor refinishers can use that doesn’t take off very much material.
The problem with hardwood floors is that if you use the big, heavy belt sanders on it, it really takes a lot of life away from them because it takes a lot of material off. You don’t have to go down to the raw wood. You can just lightly sand the surface and then put new coats of urethane over that. And that will help spruce them up and also preserve their integrity for years to come.
JULIA: Thank you very much. I certainly enjoy listening to The Money Pit.
TOM: We’re glad to help, Julia. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, 40 percent of American homes use electricity to heat their water, which means a little electrical know-how is key to uninterrupted hot showers.
TOM: Here to tell us how to keep that electric water heater doing its job is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House.
RICHARD: Hello, guys.
TOM: Let’s set the record straight here. The device is called a “water heater,” not a hot-water heater, because that would be redundant.
RICHARD: Oh, you’re such a stickler.
TOM: But you know what? They operate quite differently than their gas counterpart. What’s the most important thing to know about these devices? Where are they most likely to break down or stop producing that hot water?
RICHARD: Well, let’s do a little bit of definition. A gas tank-type water heater has a gas burner at the bottom.
RICHARD: It has a flue pipe up through the center. It has to be vented to outside or into a chimney somehow. An electric water heater has two electrical elements: these resistance electrical heaters that you would actually find if you look carefully inside of the – a coffee maker, a coffee machine. And it has no vent at all. It’s just a super-insulated thermos bottle. So you can stick them anywhere. They both – gas or electric – still have a hot and a cold pipe coming out through the top of them and they have a drain at the bottom. But that’s where the similarities end.
TOM: So those electric elements is how the water actually gets warm. Is that something that breaks down? Do these elements burn out like any other type of heating coil might?
RICHARD: You know, when you’re heating cold water, it’s got lime or scale or magnesium. There’s all sorts of things that can be in it. And what can happen over time is it can – that can – whatever the impurity is in the water can bond to the hottest surface you can find, which is these elements.
So a tank-type water heater generally has two elements: one at the bottom, one at the top. And there’s a thermostat that’ll sense the temperature in the tank and determine when to bring on those elements. Now, there’s also a safety device called an ECO, so the combination of these devices – the electrical elements, the thermostat and the ECO – will give you the right water temperature, we hope.
But if an element fails, the symptom is going to be that the water heater is – the water’s warm. But it’s not really hot. It might be that one of the elements have failed. And so, for that case, you want to – with safety, you want to have a tester but you want to be able to go and check – is there continuity on the element? Is the element failed? And so you start by – with the appropriate tester, find out just where power exists.
A tank-type water heater – electrical tank-type water heater – will not use the 110 volts that you see coming out of your electric outlets in the wall. It’s 220. So it’s much more power in order to be able to heat that water.
TOM: So, of course, you turn off the power to the unit and then you check the continuity across the coil and make sure that it’s solid.
RICHARD: That’s right. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. They can. Again, if they make replacement elements, they come in different sizes to support the amount of power you’re trying to – hot water you’re trying to make. And sometimes, though, if you wait until the ninth or tenth year, sometimes where that element connects into the tank is also corroded. You look inside there, you’ll see leaks starting to be around where that element goes in there. At that point, you make the decision it’s not worth trying to just put bad money after good and you get a new water heater.
TOM: Now, are there other ways to deliver hot water through an electric water heater, aside from the coils? Are there different technologies that are out there today that are perhaps more efficient than that very simple system?
RICHARD: Well, everyone wants to ask and find out – is there an electric instantaneous water? Is there something that I can just stick on a wall and open up a faucet and get hot water when I need it? And the answer is yes but the answer is a much longer one and that is you need to have a lot of electricity available to be able to do it instantaneously at a point of use. And the other thing is that they just haven’t proven to last.
With the water quality we have in this country with lime or scale, it seems that just at the point you’re starting to enjoy this thing two or three years in, the electrical elements have absorbed and caked on with all this element and the elements burn out. So I wish there was one I could recommend but right now …
LESLIE: Oh, I can remember our fancy 80s makeover kitchen that my parents had done.
LESLIE: We had one of the little instant hot waters at the sink.
RICHARD: Oh, yeah.
LESLIE: So you could have tea or Sanka immediately.
RICHARD: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, those didn’t last. But they actually fall out of favor but I love them. So I love being able to just get a hot cup of tea all the time. Tommy Silva still talks about his. He loves his, too.
TOM: Now, what about heat-pump technology? There’s heat-pump water heaters today.
RICHARD: That’s got a story. That’s got a story. That heat pump says, “I’m not going to have – rely strictly on electrical elements to heat the water and super heat it like that coffee maker we talked about.” I’m going to say, “Look, there’s heat that’s available around me in the mechanical room. I’m going to gather it in through the equivalent of an air conditioner that works in reverse, gather that heat and then deliver it down into the tank filled with water.”
And those are – they call them “hybrid water heaters.” They have an unbelievable story about – from an energy standpoint compared to electrical. And the new energy standards in this country, in April of 2015, really push hard to – for people not to do standard in anything over 52 or 66 gallons, in the larger sizes. You have to do a hybrid now because it’s too wasteful to be a standard electric water heater.
TOM: Fantastic information. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for being a part of The Money Pit.
RICHARD: Trying to keep you out of hot water.
TOM: Or in it.
RICHARD: That’s right.
LESLIE: True. Alright. 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 on PBS by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Just ahead, having an extra work surface in your kitchen can make it more useful. We’ll have tips on adding kitchen islands, after this.
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.
TOM: We are here to give you help with your home improvement project.
Well, if you’d like to step up the counter space in your kitchen, adding a kitchen island is a great option if you’ve got the room. No doubt about it, you need space for an island. They’re usually at least 24 by 36 inches at a minimum.
LESLIE: Now, for existing kitchens, another option is to add a mobile kitchen cart. They’re kind of smaller than an island. But kitchen carts can greatly enhance your cooking space because they’re compact, super versatile and they come in various sizes, styles, finishes and configurations so that you really can make one work for the space you’ve got.
Now, it’s hard to drop an island into an existing kitchen. But designing an island into a new kitchen really does make a lot of sense, because that’s when things can be moved around and shifted to really maximize your countertop, your cooking, your cabinet space. And truly, the kitchen is where everybody ends up hanging out. And the island becomes that additional seating area, as well. So you can even consider adding in, you know, a different height countertop on one side of the island to sort of give everybody that hangout space but not interfere with your food prep or your sort of preparation area, if you will.
TOM: And that’s just another reason that the kitchen design should be left to the pros, which is one reason we recommend CliqStudios.com. CliqStudios.com offers a free, no-obligation design service, which means you can work with their team to design your new kitchen-cabinet layout to meet your own family’s needs at no cost. You just go to CliqStudios.com/Free and you sign up for the free design consultation.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s a great service because all you do is head to CliqStudios.com/Free and you sign up with a few details about your kitchen, like its size. And you can even upload pics of what it looks like now. Then CliqStudios.com is going to match you with one of their professional kitchen designers who will work with you to create a set of plans for your dream kitchen.
TOM: Plus, you can also download a free design guide put together by the editors at This Old House. That’s all at CliqStudios.com/Free. And Cliq is spelled C-l-i-q – Studios, with an S – .com. That’s C-l-i-q-Studios.com/Free.
[radio_anchor listorder=”1″]LESLIE: Jennifer in Illinois is on the line with a moist basement. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
JENNIFER: Well, an older home with a basement that is not wet. It is humid. Now, in the wintertime, like right now, it is much drier with the furnace running. But during the spring and summer, it runs 80-percent humidity down there. We have good gutters, downspouts directed away from the house but we still have this humidity problem. What could it be?
TOM: Well, if you’re having high humidity, especially in the spring and the summer, certainly surface drainage at the foundation perimeter can contribute to that. So it sounds like you understand the principles that are in play here and that your – I’m going to assume your gutter systems are properly sized and the downspouts are at least discharging 4 feet from the house. And the soil is sloping away from the building on all sides and that it’s well compact fill dirt, not a lot of topsoil or mulch or any type of stone or brick edging that’s holding water against the house. You need to first move the water against – away from the house using all of those elements at your disposal.
Now, if you’ve done all that, then it might be time to talk about dehumidification. Now, when it comes to dehumidification, certainly most of us are familiar with the portable dehumidifiers that sit in the corner of the basement and they have a bucket attached to them and they fill up, right?
TOM: Well, I mean those are OK but they’re not really totally efficient in terms of really moving a lot of moisture. There are much better-quality dehumidifiers that are out there and there are also things called “whole-home dehumidifiers.” Do you have a ducted HVAC system?
JENNIFER: We have a furnace but it does not have air conditioning in the house. We need to get that and we will. We’re fixing it up.
TOM: So you have a forced-air heating system but you just don’t have A/C yet?
TOM: Well, is that a project that you’re thinking about adding sometime in the near future?
TOM: Well, that’s going to help a lot because that’s actually going to take a lot of moisture out of the house. But one thing you might want to think about adding to that is something called a “whole-home dehumidifier.” This is an additional appliance that is mounted near the furnace, in the basement. And these whole-home dehumidifiers – you can Google them – they take out anywhere from 90 to 100 pints of water per day from the air. So they’re moisture-moving machines.
TOM: And so that’s another option for you. But you can also take a look at – if you want to go with just maybe a less expensive but good-quality dehumidifier, take a look at Therma-Stor, T-h-e-r-m-a-S-t-o-r. That’s a manufacturer of dehumidifiers: a very good-quality dehumidifier line called Ultra-Aire. I actually have one of those in my house and I’m very, very happy with it.
JENNIFER: Ultra-Aire and it’s made by Therma-Stor?
TOM: Therma-Stor. Yep, yep. Therma-Stor.
JENNIFER: Oh, thank you. I’ve learned so much. We will do that and do the dehumidifier on the A/C and then the Ultra-Aire Therma-Stor. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
JENNIFER: Thank you. Bye.
LESLIE: Hey, are you running out of space in your yard? Well, building a she-shed or a man-cave can totally help. We’re going to have tips to help you plan the perfect backyard shed, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, if you’re taking on a painting project, saving a little bit of that paint when the project’s done is always a good idea, because you never know when a touch-up is needed. But the worst part is going through the trouble of doing all that only to find out that it’s all dried up once you open it up and are ready to use it.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, the best way for you to preserve your paint is to make sure you do a good job wiping the lip of the can before you reseal it. Now, that’s really going to keep that paint fresh.
Now, you want to keep this area from building up, so what you can do is you can also add some drain holes when you first open the can. And I’m talking about in that little rim that you will then seal back up. You just use a sharp screwdriver or a hammer and a nail to pierce the inside of the lip of the can. This way when that lid goes back on, you’re sealing those holes. But any paint, as you’re pouring, is going to drain right back into the can. Super clever.
TOM: There you go. 888-666-3974. You can also post your question to the Community section, just like Joanna did.
LESLIE: That’s right. Joanna writes: “I would love to be able to get my car inside my garage.” Wow.
TOM: Who wouldn’t?
LESLIE: That is like what a novel idea. So she writes: “I want to get my car into my garage. I’m thinking about a shed for my side yard. What should I look for in a shed and is this something that I need to have professionally installed?”
TOM: Wow. Well, I tell you what, there are so many levels of shed available today. And even the prefabricated ones are pretty well built. I mean you can find them with wood frames, where they pretty much give you the blueprints and all the materials and you build it yourself. Or you can find them in metal. You can find them in different types of synthetic materials. And if you’re not a real DIYer, ordering up one of those prefab ones is probably the best idea.
If you’ve got some ideas to make it a little more than the average shed, you want to go ahead and develop that she-shed or that man-cave, in that case, you might want to think about getting a contractor to help you with it. But gosh, the sky’s the limit when it comes to sheds. And they’ve never been more popular. Lots of amazing designs out there. So do some research so you know what’s available and then you can figure out what makes the most sense for you and your budget.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Brad in Tennessee who writes: “I want to install a garbage disposer but I have a septic tank. Are the two compatible?”
Now, I know that’s really tricky, Tom, right? It’s a delicate balance with your septic system, so you’ve got to be really careful about what you do and how you add things to it, correct?
TOM: Well, you want to be careful about what you put into your septic tank, because you’ve got sort of a finely tuned biological field there that disintegrates all of the waste. The truth is you can have a garbage disposal with a septic tank but there are special disposal models that grind up that waste into extra-fine particles to help facilitate that degradation that happens inside that tank. You don’t want to have a lot of solids in that tank that the microbes have to work on breaking down, because that sort of takes the strength away from everything else and it can clog up your field eventually.
But if you buy the right type of disposer, there’s absolutely no reason you kind of can’t have one, even if you’ve got a septic system. And you know what, Leslie? That’s the kind of home improvement appliance that once you get one, you never want to live in a house that doesn’t have it, because they’re just so darn convenient.
LESLIE: They really are convenient. It does cut down on your garbage use in such a huge way. And once you start really how – figuring out how to use it smartly, you’re going to see all of that waste just cut down in no time.
TOM: And speaking of cutting back on waste, I recently saw a new interior composter. It sits in your kitchen like an appliance and basically, you put all your food scraps in there and leave in small bones from chickens. And within 24 hours, it turns into compost and kind of looks like coffee grounds. It’s kind of the wave of the future. New from Whirlpool, developed by their Labs division. That’s something that we’ll see coming out, I’m sure, in the next couple of years.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s really smart.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. If you’ve got questions, we can be reached, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. You can also post your question to the brand-new Community section at MoneyPit.com, where we and all of our fellow home improvers can step in and give you some advice to get that job done.
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 2017 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.)