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: Are you smack dab in the middle of some ho-ho-home improvements? I bet you are. This is the very busy week of prep before the holidays get here and everybody starts to knock on your door and visit and bring cakes and cookies. Well, that part’s OK but the getting ready, that’s the tough part. We can help you with that if it’s a home improvement or a home décor project. But help yourself first: give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s program, something that everyone has an opinion on, Leslie, and they’re usually not the same. We’re talking about paint colors.
LESLIE: Oh, no one agrees ever, right?
TOM: It turns out that paint manufacturers can’t much agree, either. Because a bunch of them have now come out with their own picks for “Color of the Year.” We’re going to tell you where the trends seem to be, just ahead.
LESLIE: And building a new walkway or patio with pavers seems like a pretty simple do-it-yourself project and it is. But it’s also easy to skip the most important steps that are needed to make sure that it lasts and not sink or settle or let all the weeds grow through. We’re going to share the step-by-step because it’s important.
TOM: And first impressions have the longest impact, so we’re going to have some tips on how you can put your decorating energy into the first thing your guests see: your front door. From classic to contemporary, we’re going to help make yours stand out.
LESLIE: Plus, from QUIKRETE, we’re giving away the Walk Maker, a kit worth $80, that makes it really easy to build a beautiful cobblestone walkway.
TOM: Bet you can get it done before the first set of relatives shows up, too.
LESLIE: You really could.
TOM: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Robert in Virginia is on the line with a question about a heat pump. What can we do for you?
ROBERT: I just bought a new house and in the house, I was told that I have a new heat pump and a new gas furnace. And I’m just wondering, how does that work? I live in Hopewell, Virginia, which is just south of Richmond.
TOM: You know what’s weird about that is, normally, you would have one or the other as your heating system. If you have a gas furnace, then you have gas forced-air heat. If you have a heat pump, then you usually don’t have gas because it’s basically electric heat. So are there two zones and one’s a heat pump and one’s gas or what? Do you know?
ROBERT: It’s the exact same zone. I was told – in the paperwork, when I was buying it, they said a new heat pump and a new gas furnace.
TOM: That’s really odd. OK. So when you go to your gas furnace, right, do you hear the flames burning there? What are you seeing?
ROBERT: It’s actually all enclosed. So I really – it hasn’t gotten so cold yet that I’ve heard any flames burning.
TOM: You know what? You need to call an HVAC contractor and get a preseason checkup. Find out what you’ve got there, because it doesn’t make sense.
TOM: I think somebody made a mistake.
TOM: You know, if you’re in Southern Virginia, you may very well have a heat pump. Be better if you had a gas furnace. But if you have a heat pump, let me just give you a tip on how to operate this, especially if you come from a house that had gas before. You want to make sure that you set the thermostat and kind of forget it. If you get in the habit of bouncing it up and down – like turning it down at night and up in the morning without a specialized, heat-pump thermostat – what you’ll do is you’ll overcome the heat pump and you’ll force the electric furnace, which is a backup system that’s always built into a heat pump, to come on. And that’s going to cost more money for you to run.
TOM: So, you have to get a special type of setback thermostat for heat pumps that moves it very slowly. Because the way a heat pump works is if you set the temperature at, say, 70 and it falls to 69 in the house, the heat pump is going to come on. If it falls to 68, heat pump is still coming on. If it hits 67 or 66, the heat pump basically says, “Hey, I can’t keep up with this.” It brings on the backup resistance heat, which costs two or three times as much to operate, and brings the house back up to temperature.
TOM: And you’ll see that if you have a heat-pump thermostat, because it usually says auxiliary heat or emergency heat. There’s usually a light that comes on.
TOM: But if you have the right kind of setback thermostat, it’ll move it so slowly that that won’t happen. And it’ll maintain the comfort and save you some money. You also might find that they’re not quite as comfortable as gas furnaces, because the temperature of the air that comes out is like 110-ish degrees instead of 125 or 30 or 140 degrees. So, it’s just that you’ve got to get used to it.
But find out what you’ve got. You definitely should get it serviced before it gets colder, because that’s – you don’t want to get surprised the first time it drops near freezing for you – by you. OK?
ROBERT: Yeah, I mean it’s brand new but get it serviced anyway. That way, I find out what I have. OK.
TOM: Or find out who put it in, whether it’s warrantied. You need to figure out what you’ve got, because what you’ve told me doesn’t make sense. You either have gas or not.
What do you cook with in the house? You cook with electric or gas?
ROBERT: Electric. But I do have a gas water heater.
TOM: Is it natural gas or propane?
ROBERT: Natural gas. And it’s also going to the furnace.
TOM: Well, maybe you do have a gas furnace. Maybe the heat pump is the wrong part of the description. Maybe you just have a standard central-air conditioner. Yeah, you need to figure out what you’ve got.
TOM: I tell you what, if you want to take some – listen, if you want to take some pictures of this and send it to us, you could actually post it to the Community page at MoneyPit.com and we’ll take a look at it.
TOM: And just say you’re trying to figure this out and take a picture or two of it. And if you can – if there’s an access panel you can take off and take a picture of what’s behind it, just make sure you put it back together, alright? We’ll tell you what you’ve got.
ROBERT: Alright. I appreciate it. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thank you. Bye-bye.
LESLIE: Debbie in Illinois is on the line and has a question about a slate roof. What can we do for you?
DEBBIE: I live in a very old house, from the 1880s.
DEBBIE: The roof is all slate, leaking in three or four places. Not terrible but you could see it on the walls. And the walls are – nowadays, people don’t do slate anymore.
TOM: You need to find yourself a slater. It’s what they used to call those guys: “slaters.” What color is your slate tile? Grayish or brownish?
TOM: Reddish. Oh, good. That’s Vermont slate. That’s a really good roof. That lasts way over 100 years.
LESLIE: And they’re so pretty.
TOM: They’re really pretty, yeah. So, it’s definitely worth fixing whatever is causing the leaks. Your problem isn’t that you’ve got a slate roof, it’s just that you need some slate repair, slate maintenance.
DEBBIE: Right. Yeah.
TOM: You need to find somebody that knows how to do that. So I’ll tell you where I would start. I would start on HomeAdvisor.com. And there you can read reviews and perhaps find somebody that’s got that experience. There’s got to be some folks out there that know how to slate repair.
What you want to be cautious against, though, is any roofer that maybe thinks they know how to do slate repair and doesn’t. Because you don’t want a guy up there to go up on your roof and break a slate tile or maybe try to use some sort of a sealant to try to fix a leak where he really should be replacing flashing or rebuilding it.
And the other idea I have for you is if you can find out a building center in your area that sells slate, I bet you they’re going to know who’s doing the work, because they’re going to be selling the slate to them all the time.
LESLIE: The other thing, Debbie, is if you live in an incorporated village or your town, contact the Building Department and find out who applies for some sort of permits involving roofing and slate roofing. And they might be able to recommend a few people, as well.
TOM: You’re going to have to work a little bit harder to find somebody, Debbie, but it’s definitely worth preserving that roof. There’s two different types of slate. There’s a gray slate called Bangor slate and then the kind with a brownish tan is called Vermont slate and it’s a much better-quality slate. So, that roof can last 100, 150 years or more.
DEBBIE: Right. OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You know what I hate about, Leslie, folks that have roofs like that is sometimes, it’s just so hard to find people that they give up.
TOM: And they end up just having it all torn off and putting on an asphalt-shingle roof, which is just such a sin when you have such a beautiful roof.
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. It’s funny. We grew up in a Tudor home that had a slate roof. And I remember – this has got to be in the 80s. There were some issues with the roofing. My parents got some consultants over, a couple of roofers to give them their ideas on the cost of the repairs. And all of the slate repairs, those proposals were, well, thousands upon thousands of dollars. And then my dad opens one and say it was whatever the price was at the point – say it was 1,000 bucks – and my dad’s like, “Why is this one so low?” And I remember it said, “Oh, we’re going to get rid of the slate and put on an asphalt-shingle roof.” They were like, “No.” But it’s funny, you know, that seems to be a solution.
You are listening to The Money Pit presented by HomeAdvisor.com, where you can find top-rated home pros you can trust.
Give us a call with your question at 888-MONEY-PIT or post it to the Community section at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: Just ahead, do you have a favorite paint color? Well, find out if you’re trendy or not when we reveal the 2018 Colors of the Year. Yes, there’s actually more than one and we’ll share those tips, next.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your how-to dilemma, perhaps a décor project that you’re working on this holiday season. We’d love to chat with you about that or perhaps a project you’re thinking about tackling in the new year. Give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: And hey, if you reach out now by phone or community, you might just win everything you need to get a head start on building a patio or walkway next spring. Because, from QUIKRETE, we’re giving away the Walk Maker Building Form Prize Pack worth 80 bucks.
TOM: Yep. The Walk Maker is a reusable plastic mold in a cobblestone pattern, so it’s pretty much a fun, easy and simple way to make a concrete walkway or a patio. You basically lay down the mold, you fill each portion of the mold with a bag of QUIKRETE Crack-Resistant Concrete Mix, trowel the finish, remove the mold and you’re good to go. You can even use a stain to color them. QUIKRETE has some products that do that, so you can pretty much have this come out any way you would like.
Just one of the great products from our friends at QUIKRETE. Going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Martin in North Carolina is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you?
MARTIN: I have a ranch-style house. One-floor ranch. And underneath it, we cleaned up real good and we have plastic all around the edges. About a 10-foot roll of plastic. So that leaves the center part still exposed to moisture. We just need a (inaudible). My wife tells me that we should have plastic all over the ground underneath the house.
TOM: Your wife is correct. Yes, you should have a vapor barrier across all that surface.
MARTIN: That’s what the builders say around here but I’ve heard that if you do not allow some moisture, your floorboards – in our situation, it’s oak flooring – it will separate and have little cracks (inaudible).
TOM: You are never going to have that dry of a crawlspace, my friend. There’s always going to be humidity and moisture that’s in the air. But you want to – right now, you have all the water that’s in the soil that’s going to come up and add to that humidity. You can never dry out that crawlspace so much that you’ll have any issues with cracked floorboards, trust me.
So, I get – sometimes these rumors have – are based in a little bit of truth. But there’s just no way you’re going to make it that tight. So I would get some additional plastic Visqueen, some plastic sheeting. Lay it down so that the entire floor surface – entire dirt surface – is covered. Make sure your vents are open so that the – you will get some air in from the outside. But you’re going to get plenty of moisture in that house. You just won’t get as much – you won’t get so much that it’s going to impact the insulation and give you mold problems, OK?
MARTIN: Now, you’re saying that our vents should be open.
TOM: Yeah, the vents should be open for about 9 or 10 months of the year. If you want to close them during maybe December to January – when it’s really, really cold – that’s OK. But those vents should be open because that lets some of the drier, ambient air from the outside get into the crawlspace and take away some of the moisture, as well. That’s why crawlspaces have vents.
MARTIN: Well, we’ve been having them closed now for too long then, yeah.
TOM: Yeah. Nah, you can’t seal it up.
MARTIN: I’m glad you told me that. That’s a big help.
TOM: Yep. Alright. Well, good luck with that project.
MARTIN: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Well, this is the time of year where every budding industry fortune teller likes to make those predictions for 2018. And home improvement is no exception.
Paint manufacturers, they’re out right now telling their picks for Color of the Year. But here’s the funny thing: all of the paint manufacturers, they’re all different, right? And I mean really, they’re a lot different.
So, first up, BEHR. They’ve announced its first ever Color of the Year and it’s called In the Moment. It’s kind of a bluish-green hue and I think it really gives everybody the signal to kind of relax and disconnect. And they’re saying it creates a serene backdrop to unwind and recharge. And it’s actually a beautiful color.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a – great-looking walls there. And I’ll tell you what, Olympic is out now. This one gets me, Leslie, because their Color of the Year is called Black Magic.
LESLIE: But it’s not black at all.
TOM: It makes – and well, they explain it as an often-misunderstood neutral. This shade of black aims to contradict the soft grays and bluish paints that are trending in 2017. I don’t think of black as having shades of black, you know what I mean? Everything else you have shades of but black is black. Maybe it’s just a guy thing but I don’t see black as having shades. But apparently, I am wrong because Olympic thought it so important to make black their Color of the Year.
LESLIE: Well, that – it’s interesting because when I look at black paint swatches, I see black as, oh, this one has a lot more brown or this one tends to have a lot more blue. There are certain black paint colors that really do read much more black. And so, I think they’ve made a good choice.
Now, the next one is Benjamin Moore and they’ve gone completely in the opposite direction. They’ve picked a color called Caliente. That’s their choice for 2018 and it is a strong, radiant, full-of-energy red hue. It’s really as different as it comes from everybody else.
TOM: Pretty much. Kind of looks like the red carpets of red-carpet Oscar nights and that sort of thing, right?
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. It’s a nice red. It’s got a blue base to it. It’s very nice.
TOM: Now, Dunn-Edwards is out. They’ve also electored (ph) a greenish/grayish sort of bluish-greenish paint called The Green Hour.
LESLIE: That’s a lot of -ishes.
TOM: It’s like the gray, bluish, greenish. It has dual personalities. I think that’s probably a good description for it. But again, I think it’s kind of similar to the BEHR color but maybe just a little bit darker.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, Glidden also went dark, as well. They chose a color called Deep Onyx and that is a black tone, as well. In their press photos, they’ve shown it as an accent wall and it really is a beautiful shade of black. They’re saying it’s just like a little black dress. It’s classic, it’s timeless. And that really is true with a black paint color.
TOM: Now, Sherwin-Williams, to wrap it up, they’ve got one called Oceanside. And I love this because this is definitely a beach color, you know? This is sort of a really deep green/blue kind of a shade that looks like it belongs on a beachside house. Very versatile color. It works great with other types of trim colors and that sort of thing.
So I think there’s a lot of variation here, though, and that’s what’s kind of funny about this Color of the Year business. You’ve got the blues and the greens and the blues and the greens and the grays. You’ve got one brownish and then you’ve got one that is really sort of beachy more than anything else. But every single paint manufacturer has chosen a different Color of the Year.
What is your favorite color? Have you had some color disasters? Did you buy some paint off a little color chip and got home, put it on your walls and it didn’t work out so well? We’d love to hear about those experiences and take your home improvement or décor questions. So let’s get back to the phones, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Paula in Ohio is on the line.
Paula, what can we do for you today?
PAULA: Me and my husband have an older house. It was built in 1950. And the woodwork through the whole house, it’s all interconnected: the door frames, everything. And we want to sell the house, so we’re trying to find what would be the best and the cheapest solution to fixing that woodwork without having to replace it all.
TOM: So, what’s going on with the woodwork? Is it just worn, is it just heavily painted? What exactly is your problem with your woodwork?
PAULA: Yeah. It’s worn. I think somebody that lived there before us had a dog and some of it’s been chewed on.
TOM: Oh, boy.
PAULA: And it’s like we would replace – you can’t replace parts of it because you can’t get the stain to match. And we don’t really know what to do to make it look better to get it ready to sell.
TOM: So, is this molding kind of fancy molding in terms of – if you were to fill in some of the grooves and the digs in it, could you paint it and have it look halfway decent? Or do you think you have to replace it?
PAULA: I think some of it we’d have to replace it.
TOM: OK. Well, I think that’s kind of what you’re up against. If it’s painted now, you’re going to probably want to replace it with a paint-grade molding. And I think if the areas that are really damaged – you mentioned dog damage. If it’s chewed on, then you may just want to pull that piece off and replace it. But a coat of paint can do wonders with something like that.
I don’t know if there’s a way to kind of decorate around it. And it would be an awful lot of work to replace all that trim. Certainly a possibility but it’s a big job to pull all the trim off and replace it. So I think all you can really hope to do, at this point, is to clean it up, prime it – because that will give you a better paint finish – and then just put a topcoat of paint on it and kind of call it a day.
Leslie, do you have any other suggestions or do you think that’s about it?
LESLIE: No. I really think priming and painting it really is the best solution. Because once you get into replacing all of the trim work – I mean first of all, it’s a tremendous expense and it’s a lot of work. And you end up cutting and mitering and it can be more complicated, whereas paint is a simple fix for now. At least you can start there and see if it’s something that you like and can live with and work with décor-wise. And if not, then you can at least explore the future options.
PAULA: OK. Great.
TOM: That help you out?
PAULA: That helps me out a lot.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, building a new walkway or patio with pavers seems like a pretty simple do-it-yourself project and it is. But it’s also really easy to forget all about those super-important steps in the beginning, which will really make sure that it lasts. Stick around and we’ll tell you how to do it.
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: What’s your how-to or décor question? Call it in, right now, to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.
LESLIE: Bill, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you with your flooring project?
BILL: I bought a house three years ago and I hired these people to come in and strip my hardwood floors in my living room. And they never did a good job and I can never get a hold of them. And the hardwood squeaks. I want to redo it. What is the best way to refinish it?
TOM: OK. So the issue is that you want them to be – to stop squeaking or you want to refinish it or kind of both?
BILL: Stop squeaking and also, I want to refinish them.
TOM: OK. So there’s a couple of things that you can do. First of all, because you’re doing the refinishing and the repair at the same time, that actually makes this a little bit easier. But what you’re going to want to do is deal with the squeaking issue first. And the reason that that happens is usually because of movement. If you can identify those sections of the floor that are the loudest, they’re probably going to have the most movement.
And simply what you want to do is resecure those floorboards to the floor. So you can do that with nails. If you nail through the hardwood board, into the floor joists below at a slight angle – with a nail that’s kind of rough, like a galvanized nail – you’re going to have to pilot that hole first. Put a small drill hole in first and then drill – nail right through the hole, because you can’t nail hardwood directly; the nail will bend and the board will split.
In ones that are really weak, you can actually use a trim screw, which is a long, thin screw with a tiny head. And it’s a little bit bigger than a nail. That’s even a better way to do it because the screws are really solid and they won’t pull back out again. So I would just tighten up the boards as best you can in the loudest areas. You’re never going to get them all, so don’t try.
And then you can have your floor refinishers sand it and refinish it. And I would definitely have the sanding done professionally. I would not do this myself because the tools are very rugged. And if you don’t use them every day, you’re going to damage your floors. So I would have it completely sanded and then refinished. Does that make sense?
BILL: Thank you. I appreciate it very much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re thinking of installing a new walkway, there are things to consider beyond the prettiest materials, especially if you live in a climate where frost is a problem.
TOM: That’s right. And when soil freezes, it expands and it can lift and even break apart walkways, patios, sidewalks or driveways. But that won’t happen if it’s built right. Landscaping contractor Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House, is here to tell us how.
ROGER: Thanks for having me.
TOM: Now, when we build a foundation, we’re accustomed to digging down below that frost line to make sure the foundation won’t move. But with a walkway, it’s not always possible to dig down that deep, nor would you want to. How do we keep that from moving?
ROGER: Well, whenever I build a walkway or a driveway or any sort of paving area, I like to go down a foot. I take out 12 inches of material. Usually, you get topsoil in the top 6 to 8 inches but I want to go down and make sure I’m below that topsoil level. Usually, the topsoil is brown and it holds moisture.
TOM: Draining is really the key here.
ROGER: Right. That moisture is what’s going to freeze and expand and move your walkway. So we dig down a foot. We usually put in what’s called “pack.” And pack is a combination of stone dust and ¾-inch stone. And we bring that up in 3-inch lifts. In other words, we put down 3 inches; then we take a compactor, pack it down and keep working our way up.
The great thing about pack is it packs up hard, where it’s a good, great base for the walkway but it drains; it lets that water get out from underneath the walkway.
LESLIE: Now, I know a lot of people talk about – when we’re discussing base prep, they talk about the frost line. You want to be below the frost line. How do you know where the frost line is? Is that a visual cue? Is it something you know by region or like you mention, is it just “OK, I’ve seen the change in the soil and now I’m good”?
ROGER: Below the frost line only pertains to concrete walls and footings for your house. No one is going to dig down here in New England 4 feet deep for a walkway to get below the frost line, OK?
ROGER: So that’s where picking the material comes into place in how you put the walkway in. I like to do walkways and patios dry, which means there’s no mortar and no cement involved there, set on the pack on an inch of stone dust and then the final top piece is put in.
If you look – put in a concrete walkway, it doesn’t – it can’t move. It structurally – it cracks. Pavers can move but they’re set in stone dust and if worse comes to worse they do move too much, you can reset them again by just scraping out a little stone dust and putting it back. You can’t do that with a concrete walkway.
TOM: So does that make pavers a much better choice for a harsh climate than – compared to, say, concrete?
ROGER: It does in my mind. Up here in New England, concrete is bound to fail sooner or later. In warmer climates, it’s a perfect solution: it’s very efficient to go down, cost effective and will last forever in areas like Florida.
TOM: Now, what about sealers once the project is done? Do you think it’s a good idea to put some sort of a sealer on a paver? Does that actually help slow down the absorption of water or does it let the water in and trap it?
ROGER: No, it definitely helps keep water from getting in. But what I tell everyone is to take a couple of bricks, seal them first and see if you like the look. Because it’s a total different look; it tends to be like the pavers are wet or shiny, so …
LESLIE: Oh, it gives it almost a gloss.
ROGER: Right. So make sure you look at some before you do the whole walkway and then decide you don’t like the look.
And there is a reapplication thing; it doesn’t – it isn’t one application that lasts forever.
TOM: So there is some maintenance involved; it has to be repeated from time to time.
ROGER: Right, exactly.
TOM: Good advice. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House. He’s a guy that knows how to build it once, build it right so you really don’t have to build it over and over and over again.
Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
ROGER: It’s my pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Marvin Windows and Doors.
Still ahead, are you short on time this season? Well, we’ve got one decorating idea that packs the most punch. We’ll tell you all about it when The Money Pit returns, after this.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, whether you’re buying or selling or just enjoying your home, we are here for you every step of the way. You can call in your home improvement or décor question, right now, to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
What about you, Leslie? As we get down to the end of the year here, are you doing any small repairs or major remodels in your house?
LESLIE: I am anxiously awaiting my new American Standard toilet that will make sure that my bathroom no longer smells like a urinal at the Port Authority, thanks to my two wonderful, young men that I’m raising in this house who can’t seem to find where the toilet actually is when it’s time to use the bathroom.
TOM: Ah, it’s an accuracy issue, huh?
LESLIE: Yeah. It’s a lot of issues.
TOM: You got one of the Vortex toilets, right? That’s the ones that are pretty much a self-cleaning toilet.
LESLIE: Yeah. American Standards very nicely sent me a VorMax Toilet which, you know, I guess they’ve heard me complaining about my messy children. So, Tom, you’re going to come help me install this.
TOM: I am, absolutely. We’ll get it done.
LESLIE: Hopefully, I will have a fresh-smelling powder room, because it can’t get worse.
TOM: There you go.
888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones. Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Genie in Ohio is on the line with a crud question. What is going on at your money pit?
GENIE: My friend – I’m afraid that her – it seems like her apartment may be making her sick.
TOM: Well, what are you seeing?
GENIE: She has central air. She has COPD. Two weeks after they change the filter – if they get around to it – they’re dirty again and she’s been vacuuming them up and wiping around them with bleach, water and stuff like that. And she said out of the vents, also, there’s a brown something or the other. But she doesn’t know what it is and I don’t know. She doesn’t know. It might be mold?
TOM: She has an apartment or she has a house? What kind of a place is it?
GENIE: One-bedroom apartment. She lives with her son. She’s in her late 50s and he’s in his early 30s.
TOM: Right. And it’s a forced-air heating-and-cooling system? So it’s gas-fired or what?
TOM: OK. So, I mean obviously, the landlord needs to address this. And what I would tell you to do, first, would be to have somebody look at the duct system and really look at the apartment for sources of mold. The problem is that landlords aren’t motivated to find mold because that means they’ve got to fix it up. But a good mold inspector could detect it.
It’s hard to figure out what’s coming out of these ducts and certainly, the filter needs to be changed on a regular basis. And if you have a better-quality filter – the filters come in a wide range of qualities. But if you have a good-quality filter, that’s going to do a pretty good job of trapping most of this. But you shouldn’t be seeing a constant source of substance coming out of those ducts unless they’re dirty and need to be cleaned. So, that’s kind of one thing that comes to mind.
You say that the house might be making her sick. Does she get better when she leaves the place or does she just not leave and she’s there all the time?
GENIE: It seems – well, she’s been in the hospital a couple times with bronchitis and other kinds of stuff that are breathing. I think I told you she has COPD.
TOM: Well, no, obviously, there could be a lot of things that are causing her distress. But I think eliminating the apartment as one of them would at least make her feel better. I would have it inspected thoroughly by perhaps a home inspector or a mold professional to look for signs of it. Because there are a lot of different places in a house where air quality can be impacted. Carpets can hide dust mites and allergens and different types of mold can form under appliances. There’s just a lot of places. And so, if you really suspect that there could be something of the mold nature going on there, I would have it inspected by a pro and figure out what’s there.
GENIE: Yeah. She talked about liking her purifier but I said, “If your system is dirty, I’m afraid it would fight each other.”
TOM: Yeah. Listen, you don’t want to go that way – you don’t want to add more filtration to this. I want you to inspect and determine if there’s a problem that exists. Then you can talk about the best way to clean it. So don’t keep throwing money out at this. Get the information, figure out what’s going on or maybe not going on and then you could put your mind to rest. Yes, having a good-quality filter in your HVAC system is important.
There’s a website, by the way, called FilterEasy.com that I like because you can sign up for a subscription service for filters. They end up being less expensive than they are in the store. And you just sign up once and then they’ll send you a new filter on whatever frequency you need, probably every about three months. And when it shows up, you just pop it in so it’ll always be clean.
You mentioned that she was always vacuuming. If you don’t have a HEPA vacuum, one that is a high-efficiency vacuum, you could be redistributing that dust to the air. So there’s just a lot of ways that the air could be contaminated and you really need to look at this holistically, not just at one duct at a time. Does that make sense?
GENIE: Yeah. The filter what dot-com?
TOM: FilterEasy.com. FilterEasy.com. Yeah, check it out. It’s a great way to make sure your filters are always replaced when they should be.
GENIE: Thank you so much.
TOM: Well, are you short on time and wondering what to decorate? Well, going with the thing guests remember most or certainly see first – your front door – is a good step.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s really the first thing that your guests see. It’s your door and quite frankly, the whole entryway. And that really does leave a big impression on anybody who comes into your home.
Now, you can easily dress up the door for the season with a simple, classic Christmas wreath, even silver bells or glass ornaments. Traditional is in. It’s really fun to go retro.
TOM: We do the sleigh-bell thing. We have the sleigh bells hanging on the front door. And whenever somebody comes or goes, they jingle and it reminds us that we’re in the season. So, it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, either.
LESLIE: Yeah. No, it really is lovely to do that.
Now, another easy holiday update is to actually wrap your door in decorative paper. And this is especially popular in a house with kids. If you just crisscross the wrapped door in a wide ribbon, it really resembles a huge, gift-wrapped package.
Now, don’t do this if you don’t have any sidelights and you can’t see out through the front door or who’s there. Only do it if you have another way to check out what’s going on outside.
TOM: Then once the door is set, you can extend those holiday touches to your entryway, too. You might want to set out some pots that are planted with seasonal greens or you can add some holiday welcome mats, maybe some vases and dishes full of pinecones or greens. Pretty easy to decorate that front space for when – so that when folks come up to your door, enter right into your foyer, they have a great first impression.
LESLIE: Still to come, cork floors are trending and they’re eco-friendly, too. But are they good for every room? We’re going to talk cork floors and bathrooms when The Money Pit continues, 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, with your home improvement question or post it to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s head on over to the Community page right now and talk to Annie. Annie has a question about flooring, Leslie, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. Annie writes: “I’m wondering what your advice would be regarding putting a cork floor in a bathroom. Good choice or should I pass?”
Now, I truly love a cork floor in a bathroom. I also really like it in a kitchen because it’s so soft and comfy.
TOM: It is really comfy to walk on. Of all of these sort of “hard-surface products” or non-carpet products, cork is the softest and the easiest on the feet. It does last a long time; it’s surprisingly durable, too. You’d think that it’s soft so that it would wear but it really doesn’t. In fact, I remember seeing cork flooring when I toured Fallingwater, which is the famous Frank Lloyd Wright house out in Pennsylvania. And he was using that way back when – what was that, the 60s? – in the kitchen and …
LESLIE: Well, he was the super coolest.
TOM: Absolutely. And he was so far ahead of his time, of course, and it still looked good.
Now, the new cork products today, Leslie, what kinds of varieties can we get them in in terms of coloration and that sort of thing? Because usually, the corks are fairly subtle.
LESLIE: True. Now, the colors can be very subtle but I’ve also seen them, recently, with flecks of metallic in the cork itself. So you can get a cork in a very neutral tone and that varies between a super-lightish color to a more deep, brownish tone. They do tend to stay in that very natural color palette. I’ve also seen a gray with a silvery fleck. And I just think it’s gorgeous, because it adds a whole ‘nother detail and level to a floor surface, which sometimes is the largest surface in a room. So it’s nice to make that a little interesting.
TOM: So, thumbs up, Annie. We think it’s a great choice and go ahead and go for it.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post here from Rob who writes: “My garage is heated by a furnace. When the snow melts off the vehicles, the water pools in the front corner of the garage and doesn’t dry. Over time, the water is soaked into the block that makes up the exterior wall. There’s a drain in the floor but the water seems to go everywhere except towards it. How do I fix the floor so that the water runs to the drain?”
TOM: You know, resloping your garage floor is a really big project, because you’d pretty much need to tear it out and repour it. It’s not the kind of thing that you can really repair. So, I would suggest, perhaps, painting the floor and the bottommost block walks with an epoxy garage paint. That’s going to greatly reduce the absorption of water and it’s an – inhibit the frost damage that you’re concerned about, which could occur if it goes kind of unchecked.
You might also want to think about maybe raising that floor up again but not by adding more concrete. What you could do is – have you seen these garage-floor tiles, Leslie? They’re pretty thick.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: And they’re perforated and you can basically – they go together kind of like a puzzle piece, right? And they have a lip so it goes down sort of to grade at the end. But they’re kind of nice. They sit just above the floor, maybe about, I don’t know, a ½- to ¾-inch. And I think if you had any water that dripped off, it would definitely be below that tile. So that’s another option for you there. Take a look at the garage-floor tiles.
LESLIE: And Rob, another option is you can use an epoxy coating on the floor. Now, this isn’t going to help you with the leveling issues but it will help you with sealing that surface. Because don’t forget, with all that snow, you’re probably driving over a lot of salt. And all of those materials in the salts are very corrosive to the concrete floor in your garage. And so, when you bring that in and that salty water all melts from the snow, I mean it really could do damage. So that’s a great way to make the floor look nice and protect it, as well.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this holiday weekend with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, advice, some inspiration to take on some projects in your house either now or in the very near future. If you’ve got a question and couldn’t get through today, though, remember you can call us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT and we will call you back the next time we are in the studio. Or you can post your question online with the Community page at MoneyPit.com.
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.
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(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.)
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