- Now is a great time to make sure your home’s cooling plan is set to deliver both comfort and energy efficiency. We share low-cost to no-cost cooling tips that will do just that.
- Between the splinters and the staining, a wood deck can take a fun out of summer weekends. We highlight a better option available at Lowes called a Trex Deck Kit which makes updating or replacing your deck with beautiful new composite decking a breeze.
- Do you need a new roof and want to save on air-conditioning costs? You can actually do both. We’ll tell you about some very cool roofing technology that can help keep you comfortable and save you money.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions:
- Brick foundation walls have lasted over a century but mortar repair and repointing is needed to cover the next 100 years! Tom shares the best recipe to mix your own mortar from cement, sand and lime.
- Jenny says she needs a floor finish that can stand up to three dogs and a man! We walk her through how to refinish a floor.
- Have you ever noticed vinyl siding that’s buckled on one or more sides of your house? We help Earl understand why this is happening and what it’ll take to iron out those ruffles!
- Flagstone patios are a great start to an outdoor living space but not when the stones are loose and buckled. Darlene needs help restoring her patio for long term stability.
- If you are remodeling a house with plaster walls, should you remove the old plaster or cover the walls with new drywall? We help Earl avoid a valuable lesson Tom learned when taking this project on for the first time.
- Noisy pipes can be annoying. Tom helps listener Damian understand the hidden source of clicking and ticking sound inside the walls and floors of his house.
- Lauren is taking on a paint project in an old house and is worried about exposing her young kids to lead paint. Leslie shares her own experience and how to avoid exposure.
- Water heaters can drip, but it doesn’t always mean the tank is bad. Tom shares tips from his years of home inspection experience to help Michael track down the source of a leaking water heater and possibly even fix it himself.
- Fire-pits are a popular project. Tom and Leslie help Michele with tips on how to build your own including the best mix of mortar.
- Marty wants to know the best way to repair a crack in brick without seeing the crack. Get tips on how to find and mix a color dye to match the brick.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’re here to help you out on projects that you might be getting – wanting to get done, I should say, around the house. If you start a project, kind of stuck, if you don’t know how to start the project and you want to get moving, we can help with that. If it’s a project you want to do it yourself, fine. If it’s a project you need to get some help with, hire a pro, we can tell you what to ask for to make sure the job gets done right.
Bottom line: whatever you’re working on, we want to help. So slide it over from your to-do list to ours by reaching out and calling us with your questions, your comments at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Or you can go to MoneyPit.com and click on the blue microphone button. Leave your message right there.
Hey, coming up on today’s show, as summer moves on, it’s a great time to make sure your home’s cooling plan is set to deliver comfort and energy efficiency. So, to help, we put together a list of low-cost to no-cost – that’s right, zero cost – tips that will help you do just that.
LESLIE: And are you tired of taking care of your wood deck? You know, between the splinters and the staining, a wood deck can take the fun out of summer weekends. Well, now there’s a better option available at Lowe’s called a Trex Deck Kit, which makes updating or replacing your deck with beautiful, new composite decking a breeze. We’ll explain, in just a bit.
TOM: And do you need a new roof and want to save on air-conditioning costs? Well, you can actually do both, thanks to the new cool-roof technology. We’ll explain how that works to keep you both comfortable and save you money.
LESLIE: But first, we want to hear what you are working on. What’s happening in this July weekend over at your money pit? How can we help you get those projects done? Give us a call, post your question. Whatever it is, let us lend you a hand.
Let’s get to it, Leslie. Who’s first?
LESLIE: Chatting with Ed who’s got an old house foundation issue.
What’s going on, Ed?
ED: Well, I’ve got a – it’s an 1880s home, say, Colonial – or not Colonial, I’m sorry. It’s a Victorian. It’s a Victorian. I have a foundation that’s brick. It was put in in brick. And I thought I just needed to tuckpoint it but as I started looking at it, I realized that some of the bricks are actually starting to bow out and I probably need to fix it.
But when I looked into it and started to look into it, the bottom part of the foundation is only a single layer of bricks thick, like from the base – from the bottom of the cellar up about 4 feet. And then they basically made a normal brick wall, two bricks thick, with an interlocking brick and everything. But the bottom part is only single brick. And because they’re starting to bow, I’m like I really don’t want to try – I can just tuckpoint it but it’s going to hold the bow in place. I’m not sure how I go about fixing that.
TOM: Do you think it’s possible that this was a Yankee basement? In other words, it used to be – the double thickness of brick was maybe the original home and then they dug out the basement and put the additional layer in when they built that part of the foundation?
ED: I really don’t think so.
TOM: So what I think – couple of issues here. First of all, just in terms of repointing the loose mortar, that’s going to probably be necessary, no matter what you do. And the most common mix for mortar is 4 to 1, which is basically 4 parts sand to 1 part cement. There are sometimes variations. If an old brick, if it’s really, really a soft brick, sometimes they go 5 to 1 or 6 to 1, 6 parts sand and 1 part cement and 1 part lime. The lime tends to make it a little more sticky. It might make it easier to handle. So, that’s the kinds of mixes you would use for mortar.
But I think I would go ahead and repair the loose mortar where it exists. But in terms of the reinforcement, I can only imagine how many different opinions you’re getting here. But the only opinion I think really counts is going to be the one that comes from a structural engineer. Because – and here’s a really important point – no matter what you do to fix this, if you don’t have professional direction on this, it could potentially impact the value of your house. If you’ve got some serious cracks like that and you’re trying to address that and make sure it doesn’t happen again, a structural engineer is the one that should be designing that repair.
Because when you go to sell the house, once the repair is done, you want to be able to prove to the potential buyer that the repair was done under professional supervision and not just the combination of a bunch of contractors’ opinions on what they think ought to be done. It’s really a better way to go. It’s kind of like having a pedigree on the repair.
So I’d fix up the loose brick as best you can. But I really would get a structural engineer to specify exactly how to reinforce that part of the wall that’s bowing. I think that’s really important to protect the value in your home.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to chat with Teresa who’s got an idea for a different kind of floor coating.
How can we help you?
TERESA: I’m interested in the hardwood wax oil finishing? I was going to get my hardwood floors redone. Just wanting to know what your thoughts are. I have a man and three dogs and was wondering, is this stuff durable? Because I can’t find anybody in this area to do it but they say I can do it myself.
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you Teresa, yeah, I know what kind of floor finishing you’re talking about and it is not going to stand up to a man and three dogs or just about any other kind of normal wear and tear.
You’re referring to a type of finishing that we call “French polish.” And what it consists of is paste wax and boiled linseed oil. Basically, you use boiled linseed oil – not regular, because the regular will not dry. But use boiled linseed oil and it’s applied with a paste-wax finish and it’s buffed in place. And it’s a beautiful, soft, warm finish but it is not a durable finish. It is not going to be like a varnish or like a polyurethane. It is really for a home that’s going to get very, very light duty.
And yeah, you could do it yourself but you’re going to need some pretty big equipment, like a floor buffer, at least. Because trying to buff this in by hand would completely wear you out. At least it would me.
So it’s a beautiful finish but I just don’t think it’s a good choice for this situation when you have pets, when you have people in the house that are going to be giving it a lot of wear and tear. Dragging in the sand from the outside, the dirt, the mud, whatever, it’s just not a good choice.
So what I would do is I would lightly sand the floor, assuming it’s not in bad condition. I would lightly sand it. There is a machine – a couple of different machines that are like pad sanders that don’t take off a lot of wood but they take off the finish and get it ready for a new coat.
And then I would use probably at least two coats of a satin polyurethane – an oil-based polyurethane. And those are really pretty easy to apply. You use a lambswool applicator for that, which is kind of like a mop. And you basically spread it out and let it dry. And whatever the can says, double it for drying time. And I think you’ll find that’s going to be a much more durable finish. And if you choose satin, it’s still going to be a soft glow. But this time, it will really stand up.
LESLIE: Earl is on the line with some issues with vinyl siding.
What’s going on over there?
EARL: My question is regarding vinyl siding that’s already (inaudible). And this issue is with it buckling or the bending or whatever you want to call it and causes and what to do about it.
TOM: Well, Earl, I’m sorry to hear that you’re seeing that in your siding. And unfortunately, it means that the siding was installed too tight.
When you put vinyl siding on, the back of the vinyl panels, they don’t have holes for nails; they have slots for nails. And you’re supposed to put the nail in the middle of the slot and you’re supposed to not drive it tight to the building. You’re supposed to let that siding breathe or move a little bit because vinyl has a very high expansion ratio. And so when the sun hits it – especially the sides of your house that are on the south side and the west side. When the sun hits that, if the siding’s on too tight, it’s going to buckle and get real wavy and ugly looking.
There is no easy fix for this, short of taking the siding off and then reinstalling it with proper looseness to each piece.
LESLIE: Can you reuse that same piece or is it already warped and that’s garbage?
TOM: No, you can. It will straighten out again. In fact, it probably wants to straighten out but it can’t because it’s sort of stuck in place, right?
LESLIE: Too tight, yeah.
TOM: I think you can use it again. If all of the pieces are the same length, you don’t have to number them. But if they weren’t, I would just put tape on and number each piece. But when you put it back on, it’s got to be loose.
What I used to do, Leslie, when I was home inspecting, is I would grab a piece of the siding with my hand and try to slide it back and forth. And if it’s put on right, I could move it about a ½-inch. In fact, it almost would feel loose where you could swish it back and forth. But if it’s too tight like that, man, I’ll tell you what, that really looks like heck when the heat hits it and it gets really warp-y and you can spot it a mile away.
But that’s the only solution. Take it off and reinstall it properly.
LESLIE: Well, now that we’re in the heat of summer, it’s a great time to make sure your home’s cooling plan is set to deliver comfort and energy efficiency. To help, we’ve put together a list of no-cost tips that you can start using right away.
First off, if you’re using window air-conditioning units, you want to make sure that you put them in windows that are on the shady side of the house. If you can keep those air conditioners out of the direct sunlight, the cooler the unit, the more efficient it’s going to be.
TOM: Now, you know how we have storm windows for the winter to stop all those chilly, cold drafts? Well, guess what? Those drafts continue in the summer, except they’re not cold, they’re hot and they add to your cooling costs. So, if you’ve got storm windows, keep them closed in the summer. You’re going to have that same leak all year around through those windows. So if you keep those windows down, you’re going to get extra cooling comfort and efficiency.
LESLIE: And do you have some window shades? Well, use them. Pull them down. Keep your rooms cooler by closing those shades and blinds during those sun-filled hours of the day. The more sun that comes into the room, the harder that air conditioner is going to have to work to cool it down. So just cut that sun out altogether.
TOM: Now, if you’ve got an overhead fan, you might have noticed there’s a little switch sort of on the motor itself. And maybe you wondered, “What the heck is that?” Well, that actually is designed to help you change the direction that the blades run.
Now, you want to spin them in the right direction for cooling efficiency by setting the reverse motors for counterclockwise. And that, you’ll see, will pull up the air and sort of recirculate that cool air that was hanging out around the floor all up around the room. It gets it up to the ceiling, where it’s warm and definitely reduces the temperature overall.
LESLIE: And when it comes time to washing your dishes in the dishwasher or doing the laundry or even running the dryer, you can run all of those heat-generating appliances at night, if you can. This way, your cooling system doesn’t have to work as hard. It’s going to be much more efficient and not put so much stress on that system.
TOM: Yep. And the best part of all these little tricks is that they won’t cost you a dime. They’re completely free and really quite effective.
LESLIE: We’re going to help Darlene in Texas out with a patio situation.
What’s going on?
DARLENE: We just bought a house and in our backyard, they laid down quite a lot of flagstone to, I guess, be a patio. The problem that we have now that we bought is that there’s nothing in between the stones. So, obviously, they’re pretty much flat, I guess, or even. But there’s a couple of them that just kind of stick up. And I know there’s some kind of sand that you can brush on it or put in the cracks that – I just want to make sure it’s done right this time. Because there’s nothing in between the cracks. It’s just – I mean there’s sunken gravel but it’s quite a ways down, like an inch.
LESLIE: It seems to me, Tom, the surface underneath those pavers was not properly tamped or leveled and so you’re getting some movement there. Because she does mention that there’s some unevenness. And I think that should be corrected first, right?
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. You know, no matter what you do on top of this, the fact that they’re wavy and sticking up and just not settled in there well means that the base has moved. So, I think you’re going to have to decide whether or not you just want to repair the areas or reset those that are kind of out of level and deal with this. Or you want to take it all up and do a properly-tamped base here and then re-lay it down.
In terms of the space between the patio, between the pavers, I imagine these are fairly wide gaps. Usually with flagstone, they’re like a ½-inch or ¾-inch or an inch or even more. And the problem is that if you put mortar in between that, it’s just going to crack into a bunch of little pieces.
I think what I would use is use crushed gravel. Because crushed gravel, you can sprinkle it in between those pieces. It’ll kind of pack down and do a pretty good job of filling in that surface. And if it starts to wear away, you just put more in place. If it starts to get weeds that come up through it, you’re going to have to treat it with a product like Roundup, which will kill the weed at the root. But that’s another sign that the base wasn’t solid enough.
So, wouldn’t panic over it. It’s just going to be more of a maintenance headache than most patios would be but that’s how I think we should address it.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jules on the line who’s dealing with some cracked-up plaster.
What’s going on? How can we help?
JULES: Got an old home that has lots of cracks. And wondering if it’s best to rip it out or patch it somehow. What your expert opinion was.
TOM: Hey, Jules. Well, as a guy and a gal who own very old houses, we have both seen our share of cracked plaster. And I’ve got to tell you, I’ve done this a couple of different ways.
When I moved into my current home, I decided I had to renovate this – it used to be sort of a mother/daughter apartment and it became my sort of office/studio. I decided to take all the old plaster off the old stud walls. And man, what a mess that was. I can’t begin to tell you how much of that junk we had to take out. It was so dusty, it was dirty.
And when we got all the walls down, looking at the walls, the framing, sure it was the original solid, full 2-inch by 4-inch studs but they were not as straight as normal studs would be. So, even at that point when I went to put drywall up, I had to kind of shimmy and pad and do a few things to make it look right.
So, having had that experience, as I moved on to the rest of the house, I decided I would try something different. And instead of taking the old plaster down, I just put drywall over it, right on top of it. Made the walls and the ceilings a little thicker by doing that. But oh, my gosh, it was so much easier because the plaster was already flat. Because remember, when that’s put on, it’s put on wet, so if there’s any bow in the walls underneath, it’s going to be straightened out by the tradesman that put it on many, many years ago. And I just found that going on top of the plaster was really a much easier, faster way to go.
Now, the only thing you need to know about this, though, or remember is that when it comes to windows, sometimes you have to do extra trim around them because the wall now is thicker. Electrical outlets, light switches, you have to put extension boxes on that because the wall is now thicker and has to be brought forward.
But even though you have to do that extra work, I still think it’s a heck of a lot easier than tearing out all that old plaster. So, good luck with that project. And I hope that helps you out.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Damian in Iowa on the line who’s got a mystery noise in the bathroom.
Tell us about it.
DAMIAN: Bought a new house beginning of April and it’s my second house I’ve owned. And in my master bedroom, in the closet – master closet and the master bath – it’s just some weird like clicking/ticking noises in the walls.
TOM: Does that happen when you run water, Damian?
DAMIAN: That does but that’s mainly – I think my plumbing’s in the flooring. And I don’t think this is a plumbing issue.
TOM: So if it happens consistent with running the water or turning the water on/off, it’s almost always the pipes expanding and contracting. If the pipes are rubbing against the wall as it expands or contracts, it will make that clicking sound and then that clicking sound will resonate. So, it could be originating in the floor and you might hear it in the wall and so on. Sometimes it sounds like a drip, sometimes it sounds like a click. But in a bathroom area, that’s the – almost exclusively the reason that that sound occurs.
DAMIAN: Here’s my thing. It happens in the closet and it happens for hours at a time when the plumbing’s not even being used.
TOM: OK. Well, it still could be expansion and contraction.
DAMIAN: Could it be because – I’m kind of facing the west side and it happens in the afternoon. Do you think the sun has anything to do with it? Stuff heating up in the walls or …?
TOM: It may very well because when you’re heating things up, then you’re going to get expansion.
DAMIAN: OK. Yeah, I’m just not used to – I used to own a brick house and this one’s steel siding, so I never used to hear those kinds of sounds.
TOM: Oh, well, see, yeah, the expansion and the contraction of the siding is very noisy, too.
DAMIAN: Oh, could that be it then?
TOM: Yeah, it could be, absolutely.
DAMIAN: I’ve gotten to the point where I almost want to take a hammer to my drywall and see what’s going on in there.
TOM: I think you’d be chasing it for a long time and probably never exactly find the point. But it’s pretty typical and I wouldn’t worry about it. OK, Damian?
DAMIAN: Alright. Thank you so much. Appreciate it, guys.
TOM: Alright. Try to get some sleep. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lauren in Florida is on the line with a lead-paint question.
How can we help you today?
LAUREN: Hi. My husband and I are remodeling a 1907 home that’s been vacant for multiple years, so there’s lots of damage. A lot of the paint is chipping off the windows. There is – on the beadboard and wainscoting, a lot of the paint’s chipping off. And someone has gone in and put sheetrock mud to texture over the original plaster walls, so some of that’s chipping off. And we’ve got three young children, so we need to repaint this house and fix it but we’re really concerned about the lead-paint issue.
LESLIE: Yeah. Understandably so. And your house is in the timeframe where you do need to be concerned about lead paint.
Now, we had an issue when we put central air conditioning in the house when my son was 6 months old. When he was little, I didn’t think that – any concern. And they did a great job. They were very tidy; they contained all the dust. But something must have gotten on something and when we had gone for his next exam, he had elevated lead levels probably from some dust getting on a toy and then the toy going in his mouth, anything. Anyway, it turned out after we did the next blood work, his levels went back to normal, so we were really not concerned at that point. But it is a very scary issue.
Now, I’m not sure, nationwide, what the rules are – and maybe Tom can speak better on this – but in New York, when you are fairly certain that you’ve got lead paint or the timeframe sort of dates it that way, you have to work with a painter or a contractor who’s certified in sort of lead-paint containment, if you will. Because even if you have it on a window frame and you’re opening and closing that window, you’re creating little specks of lead dust that are getting into the air. And with small children, you do need to be concerned.
So you do need to make sure that, if you can, that this is done by a pro. There’s nothing that regulates when a homeowner does it themselves. But knowing that you probably have lead paint and with small children in the home, I would just have a pro do it. And you want to make sure that things are taped off and really sealed up and cleaned very thoroughly. There are specific rules, I know, in New York State that allow for a contractor to be certified. And that’s something you really want to look for.
TOM: Yeah. And especially because the paint is flaking in deteriorated condition right now, that’s the highest risk for this, Lauren. So you’re wise to proceed very cautiously and make sure that the contractor that you’re working with is certified as a lead professional.
LAUREN: Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Well, if your deck is ready for an update or even a complete replacement, there’s a new option that makes this process so much easier. And it’s rolling out exclusively at Lowe’s and Lowes.com. It’s called the Trex Transcend Deck Kit and it includes all the materials needed to build a 12×16 deck, including the Trex top-of-the-line Transcend decking, along with Trex fascia and their Hideaway Hidden Fasteners, which basically do just that; they are completely hidden once the deck is installed. So you’re not looking at all of those screw holes in the beautiful deck surface.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, they’ve made it super easy. With just one click on Lowes.com, you can purchase everything that you need and have it ready for pickup at your local Lowe’s store or shipped directly to the project site.
Now, the Trex Transcend, it’s a beautiful product with a high-definition grain pattern. And the decking kit at Lowe’s features the brand’s popular Island Mist color, which has a weathered look of driftwood but with none of the maintenance that real wood needs to keep on looking good.
Now, you can use the Trex Transcend for a brand-new deck or you can use it to makeover one that’s basically structurally sound but just needs a face lift.
Now, Tom, you’re actually doing that with your deck right now. Tell us what you’re working on.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely. So, we have a wood deck that is solid but it really needed a big facelift. So, what we’ve decided to do is to remove the old wood decking and the old railing and we’re going to replace it with the new Trex Transcend decking.
Now, the kit includes what you need for a 12×16 deck. And if you were building new, you’d also order the structure parts separately, like the floor joists and things like that. But for my project, I also added a new railing.
So, we were basically able to order everything online at Lowes.com, so it was super easy. And I really can’t wait to get started. It’s going to be absolutely beautiful.
LESLIE: Well, that’s really going to look great. And then it’s going to be so much easier for you to take care of. You’re never going to need to worry about sanding, staining, painting, doing it all over again in a couple of years. Just an occasional soap-and-water clean is going to keep it looking brand new.
TOM: That’s right. The new Trex Transcend Deck Kit is available exclusively through Lowe’s. Learn more at Lowes.Trex.com. That’s Lowes.Trex.com.
LESLIE: Michael in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MICHAEL: We have a hot-water heater in our garage, on an elevated plateau. And we noticed the other day, there was a slight leak underneath it but it looked like it might have been coming from a PVC-type tube coming from the top of our water heater. And it’s the length of the water heater. It’s a tube. And we’ve never seen water under that area before and we now notice some of that. So I wasn’t sure why – if it was a sweating situation or what – some type of relief valve, maybe, or something like that. But I’m not sure why water would have been there.
TOM: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a temperature-and-pressure relief valve. It’s mounted on the side of the water heater. It’s designed to open up if the water heater develops too much pressure, as a safety mechanism.
However, they frequently wear and leak. So, I’m going to tell you what you can try to do but I’m also going to warn you. There’s a lever on the side of that and sometimes you get a little bit of a debris that’s stuck inside that temperature-and-pressure valve. When you pull the lever, it’ll shoot some water out that tube. You want to make sure you have a bucket under it. Just two or three times; it’ll kind of blast some hot water out of there.
However, the warning is that sometimes, once you do that, the valve never sits back properly and it ends up leaking worse. So it’s possible you could make it worse by doing this but that’s worth trying. If you just want to leave a bucket under it and monitor it for a little while – how old is this water heater?
MICHAEL: About 1990, 1998.
TOM: Oh. Oh, well, you know what? You’re due for a new one. So, 1998 – I wouldn’t wait too much longer before I replace that because let’s face it, it’s about, what, 15 years old now? And so, a water heater that gets past 10 is well on its way to needing – to the end of its useful life. So, I would – you could monitor it, stick a bucket under there, keep an eye on it. But I think it’s about time to think about replacing.
It’s not an emergency replacement, so you’ve got some time to shop around. One of the problems with water heaters is once they do leak, they usually have to be done immediately and people get taken advantage of because they need it today. But you’re not in that situation, Michael, so you could take some time and shop around and find the one – the contractor – that you want. But a 15-year-old water heater, you might want to think about replacing it.
MICHAEL: Alright, sir. I appreciate that very much.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Michelle in Iowa on the line who’s looking to spend some more time outdoors with a fire pit.
How can we help with that project?
MICHELLE: Well, we started making an outside fire pit with fieldstone. And our mortar that we seem to be using, it just seems like it’s awful dry and it’s like it’s cracking. So, didn’t know if you had a different brand that you thought would work or any suggestions.
TOM: Well, one tip is that if it’s a really warm, dry day when you’re working, you might want to consider putting some plastic over the areas that you’re working on, to slow the evaporation rate. Because if it dries really quickly, sometimes it can shrink and crack.
MICHELLE: And no certain brand of mortar you think would work best as what the stores recommend for outside fireplaces?
TOM: Well, QUIKRETE works extremely well, so you could look to the QUIKRETE brand. And one of the advantages of QUIKRETE is they’ve also got lots and lots and lots of videos online that give you the step-by-step on how to properly mix the product, for example, in this case.
MICHELLE: OK. Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, we know that a good roof can keep out the rain. But did you know that some roofs can even help keep out the heat and reduce your cooling costs? They’re called “cool roofs.” Now, using special coatings and colors, cool roofs help keep your indoor temperatures lower by reflecting up to 90 percent of sunlight. And that’s going to decrease the absorption of heat more efficiently than a traditional roof.
TOM: Yeah. Cool-roof technology can be used for most traditional roofing materials. And they look like regular shingles or tiles or metal-roof products. They come in white and other attractive colors. And they’re suitable for both low-slope and steep-slope roofs. So pretty much most residential roofs could take advantage of this.
Their energy efficiency is measured by solar reflectance, which is basically the amount of sunlight that’s reflected and what’s called “thermal emittance,” which is how efficiently the surface releases the heat it absorbs. So, if you want to experience the opposite of this, just go up in your attic on a summer day and you’ll understand why your roof does none of this.
So if you’re shopping for a cool roof, look for higher values on those two properties and they’ll tell you how much heat you’re going to be able to sort of wave off from that surface.
LESLIE: Now, besides reducing your annual air-conditioning usage by as much as 20 percent, cool roofs also keep attics and top floors cooler and more comfortable. And that cuts maintenance costs, increases the lifespan of your roof, I mean all of these amazing things. They can also be installed quickly and are fairly inexpensive, with cool asphalt shingles costing about the same as the conventional shingles.
TOM: Yeah. So why not, right? You could also qualify for federal tax credits or incentives from state agencies and utility programs if you decide to install a cool roof, which makes it even a better investment. So look into that. If you’re ready for a new roof, why not make it a cool roof?
LESLIE: Marty from Mississippi is on the line and he’s got a brick-house question.
How can we help you today?
MARTY: Yes, I’ve recently – about 5 years ago, there’s a house I bought that has red brick with a real light, white-colored grout or mortar. And in the last 5 years, I’ve got a stress crack on each side of the house that goes between the mortar and the brick. And is there a product you can recommend – or multiple products – that could seal that crack up and not lose the look of the brick? I’ve seen people do it with just one solid piece of white-colored caulking. It just looks terrible, the big, white line. Is there something that’s multi-colored that would match up with the brick and the grout to make it look good?
TOM: Marty, if the crack is that big, then you’re definitely not going to use caulk; you’re going to want to use mortar. So, the key here, as you say, though, is to find a mortar that will color-match.
There is a company called Davis Colors that specializes in just this. And they have dozens of different dyes that are mixed into mortars to come up with exactly the match that you need. And they have pretty good distribution across the country. So I would take a look at DavisColors.com. DavisColors.com.
MARTY: Great. I just add those colors to the existing mortar I would mix up here?
TOM: Yes, exactly. Or you buy the appropriate mortar from them already mixed.
MARTY: OK. OK, cool. OK, I knew there had to be something out there. I just wasn’t able to find it, so I appreciate the help.
LESLIE: Heading out to Massachusetts where Carl posted a question. “We recently moved into a new home and one of my first tasks was to install a dishwasher. My problem is the dishwasher has developed a foul odor. We’ve cleaned and sanitized the washer several times and it still smells. Did I mess something up during the install? Help me make my wife happy.”
And also make your kitchen less stinky as (inaudible).
TOM: Yeah, really.
LESLIE: Also a problem.
TOM: So, I think what you’re probably dealing with – when you get a really bad odor from a plumbing appliance or even sometimes a drain, you’re dealing with biogas. So what you want to do is try disassembling the spray arms. There is usually a nut that you can use to unscrew and pop them off. The spray arms have these little, tiny ports in them, Carl. And they sometimes get stuck with food and they develop kind of like a black, dark green gel or goo that attaches to them. You’ve really got to flush those out.
Use super-hot water or soak them in water with bleach. Make sure you also thoroughly wipe down the door seals with a bleach-and-water solution because sometimes, the food gets stuck behind sort of the folds of those seals. It also happens on clothes washers, as well. Another common place for this kind of odor to develop. So you’re just going to have to take this sanitizing to the next level by making sure you’re getting those arms especially very, very clean. And I think that will solve the problem.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Sylvie in Kansas wrote in saying, “Is it OK to paint over wallpaper? The previous owners of my home put wallpaper straight onto the drywall with no primer, which is making it really difficult to remove. What’s the worst that could happen if I painted over it?” It’s going to be even harder to get off.
TOM: Well, yeah. It’s going to be hard to get off, for sure. And that’s going to get worse over time.
It’s kind of a tacky way to decorate, right Leslie? When you see paint on top of wallpaper, it looks kind of crappy. It looks like something’s wrong with the walls but you can’t quite put your finger on it.
LESLIE: Yeah. I’ve seen paper that’s meant to be painted. It’s called “anaglypta paper,” where there’s a 3D texture to it but it’s almost like a damask or a fleur-de-lis, like some sort of texturized pattern that you then treat as a wall surface and paint. But traditional wallpaper, I mean at some point the adhesive is going to start to fail, it seems. Things are going to lift up. You’re always going to kind of see where the seams of the paper are. If that wallpaper has any sort of texture or anything to it, that’s going to read through the paint.
So, I don’t think it’s the best thing to do. If you’re in a jam and it’s your only choice, hey, I get it. But there’s so many other ways you can go about it.
TOM: I’ve been remodeling a kitchen and this kitchen had – well, when I got it, it looked like the last remodeling project was done in the 50s. It looked like Leave It to Beaver. But it had so much wallpaper on it and it had about three layers, plus painting. And when we got to scraping it off, it came off in chunks. So, it’s just really not a good way to go.
So, if you can, I would say rent a wallpaper steamer, use a tool called a “paper tiger,” which puts little holes in the wallpaper. It lets that steam get behind it. And then it should come right off.
LESLIE: Alright, Sylvie. Good luck with that project and keep us posted. We’d love to hear how it comes out.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show, coming to you on a beautiful summer weekend. We hope that you are enjoying the weather. Perhaps you are tackling some home projects. But whatever you’re doing, if you need help getting it done, we are here to do just that. So if you need info any time of the day or night, you can always reach us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with those questions or post them by going to MoneyPit.com and click the blue microphone button. That’s how you get your questions right into the studio, as quick as possible. And then we can call you back the next time we produce the show.
But until then, 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 2022 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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