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 thrilled that you’re joining us today on this beautiful weekend. And if you’ve got a home improvement project that you would like to get done – some small or perhaps even big project around your house – and you’ve got a question, you don’t know where to start, you’re stuck in the middle, we are here to help. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 because we are in the money pit-prevention business.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’d like to enjoy some clean drinking water all summer long, it is getting a little tougher with all these reports of water-quality issues. But there are a few easy steps you can take in your own home to protect the water. We’re going to have those details, just ahead.
LESLIE: Plus, now that we’re spending so much time outside, are you noticing that your patio has more waves in it than the nearest ocean? Well, we’re going to have tips to bring those wavy, saggy patios back into shape.
TOM: And if you’d like to step-up the look of your home in a very dramatic way, re-siding it is a great way to go. But if that cost is a factor, why not consider re-siding just the front? We’ve got some ideas to help you do that using synthetic materials that need almost no maintenance.
LESLIE: And we’d also love to take your question about the project that you’re working on this Memorial Day weekend. And if you do call, we’ve got some great products to give away to a couple of callers picked at random, including the fantastic, new Nexgrill Evolution 5-Burner Grill with Infrared Heating from The Home Depot. That is a perfect prize. It’s worth 379 bucks.
TOM: Yep. And to help you enjoy great-tasting water all summer long, The Home Depot has hooked us up with the Brita On-Tap Filter Faucet System and Faucet Mount with some replacement water filters to also give away to one lucky caller drawn at random.
So, if you want to win, give us a call, right now, because you’ve got to get on the line with us and give us your home improvement question. If you do, you might just take home one of those fantastic, new products from The Home Depot.
So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And for those of you that just hate finding all those letters on your keypad, that’s 888-666-3974.
[radio_anchor listorder=”6″]LESLIE: Sam in Texas is on the line and has a question about solar roofing. How can we help you?
SAM: Yes. About six months ago, I watched a show on Tesla, the electric-car company.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yep.
SAM: And they said they have a patent on a solar-powered asphalt-shingle roof.
SAM: And I was wondering, have you all heard anything about this?
TOM: I haven’t heard more than what you’ve probably heard. But I can just give you the benefit of a little bit of background on the solar-shingle idea, because I’ve been watching it now for probably 15, if not 20, years. And I think, conceptually, it makes sense. It’s this wonderful idea if you could have an exterior building material, whether that is windows or siding or roofing, act as a solar collector. I mean conceptually, it makes a lot of sense.
My concern about the shingles is what I’ve seen to date – and I don’t know a lot about this Tesla product – but what I’ve seen to date is that they’re very, very expensive and that they don’t have a warranty that’s near as long as the roof would typically have. So, my thought on this would be I think it’s there. I don’t know if it’s there yet but I think it’s coming. And I think it’s a great idea but I don’t know if we’re there today. Maybe we are. And maybe Tesla will have the opportunity to show us that. But right now, I’m not aware that it’s so nailed down, from a design and durability perspective, that I’m personally willing to put it on my house.
SAM: Oh, OK. Because I live in Texas and we get hail in Texas.
TOM: Yeah. True, of course. Mm-hmm. Yep.
LESLIE: You get a lot of hail.
SAM: And it’ll tear an asphalt shingle up.
TOM: For sure.
SAM: But I appreciate your information on that.
TOM: Alright. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
[radio_anchor listorder=”4″]LESLIE: Heading out to New York where Ruth wants to talk air conditioning. What can we do for you today?
RUTH: It’s getting summer and it’s getting hot here, so I’m getting central air-conditioner estimates.
TOM: Oh, congratulations. This is the first time you’ve ever had central air?
RUTH: Yes, it is.
TOM: You are going to love it.
RUTH: Well, this is the question. I have three different estimates.
RUTH: And my square footage is 1,331.
RUTH: One said 3 tons, one said 3½ tons and one said 4 tons. What is the right amount of tonnage?
TOM: Yeah, I’d throw out the 4-ton guy. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. Because, generally, it’s 600 to 800 square feet per ton. So you’re kind of in that 2- to 2 ½-ton range, depending on how efficient your house is.
Did any of these guys do a heat-loss analysis and figure out how many BTUs they need to make up with this A/C or are they just kind of making an educated guess?
RUTH: Nobody did a heat-loss analysis. I didn’t know that should be done.
TOM: It’s not only a question of square footage, it’s a question of how much glass do you have facing south. How much insulation do you have in your attic? How weathertight or draft-proof are your windows and doors? All of this plays in because, of course, the leakier the house is and the worse it’s insulated, that means the more A/C power you need, basically, the more BTUs you need to cool.
So, how old is your house?
RUTH: My house is about 50 years old.
TOM: I’m thinking around two-and-a-half is probably about the right size. The thing is, see, if you go too big, like that 4-ton unit, what’s going to happen is it will shor- cycle. So it’ll run, it’ll get the house really cold really fast and then it’ll shut off. And by doing that over and over again, it never runs long enough to sort of dehumidify that air in the house. And so it gets kind of cold and damp-feeling, which is very uncomfortable. You want it to kind of run steadily over a good period of time and then shut off and rest and then come back on again, in kind of a nice cycle. So that 2½-ton area is probably the right area.
Now, beyond that, I would just look at the reliability of the contractor. Find out who they’re working for in the area. Get some names. Find out who they’ve installed A/C systems for and many even in older houses. And don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. A lot of people ask for references. Very few people actually call those references. But if you call them and say, “Hey, you don’t know me but so-and-so gave me your name as a reference. I’m having an A/C system – thinking about having an A/C system installed in my house by them. Really curious as to what your experience was. If you wouldn’t mind, please call me back and share that. I would appreciate it.”
And 9 out of 10 times, people will respond to a call like that. It’s not like you’re a telemarketer, Ruth, you know?
RUTH: Right. No, these were all free – were references. That was the puzzlement.
TOM: Well, OK. They were references but that means that somebody used them and told you to call them. I would ask for more than the person that just told you to call them. You want average. You want three or four names of people they work with that you can call, not just one. Just because they were referred by one person doesn’t mean they’re great. So, three or four names would be great. And don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and make those calls.
RUTH: OK. So I should ask the person themselves, “Could I have references of people you worked for?” Is that what you’re saying?
TOM: That’s correct. Ask the contractor for references of people that they’ve worked for. Check and see if they’re part of the HomeAdvisor network, because you can go right onto HomeAdvisor.com and …
RUTH: Yes, I have actually got them from HomeAdvisor.
TOM: Oh, well, that’s terrific. So on HomeAdvisor, you can also learn even more because there’s usually quite a few references. So that’s a really good thing to have.
RUTH: Yes, I did. I checked that out, too.
TOM: Alright, Ruth. Good luck with that project. 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. Money Pit is presented by HomeAdvisor. From small repairs to a major remodel, HomeAdvisor is the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project.
TOM: And just ahead, The Home Depot is a great source for the solution to any water-quality issue in your house. And they’ve hooked us up with one of those systems to give away. We’ve got the Brita On-Tap Filter Faucet System and Faucet Mount, plus replacement water filters, going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Give us a call right now. It’s worth over 67 bucks. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We would love to help you out with whatever it is you are working on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend. 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. Ready to get that deck you’ve been dreaming of? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
TOM: Give us a call right now. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win this hour’s prize. We’ve got the Brita On-Tap Faucet Filter System and Faucet Mount, replacement water filters. It’s worth 67 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random.
Great product. Reduces chlorine taste and odor. Takes out lead and asbestos impurities that can also be found in tap water. It’s also a space-saving system that attaches easily in minutes to any standard faucet without the need for tools.
You can find it at The Home Depot or HomeDepot.com. But we’ve got one to give away to one caller drawn at random. If you’d like that to be you, you need to pick up the phone, right now, and ask your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
[radio_anchor listorder=”5″]LESLIE: Vincent in Delaware is on the line with a plaster issue. Tell us what’s cracking up at your money pit.
VINCENT: My cousin has a two-story house. It’s all brick. It was built in the 1930s. Upstairs in the bedroom, there’s a crack going from the ceiling to the floor in both outside corners. And there’s a crack going from the corner to the center of the room. And in front of the house, the brick is separate – pulling away from the molding on the floor, about a ¼-inch.
TOM: Hmm. So, for a house that was built in the 1930s, that kind of cracking is not all that uncommon. Has it always been this way or do you think this is a more recent development?
VINCENT: I think it’s been recent because he just – last time I was talking with him, he showed me the house. He says, “Look, do you have any idea what’s causing these cracks?” To me, it looked like the walls were separating from the building because – especially in the front.
VINCENT: Between the molding and the outside wall, you can get a flashlight, look down there and see the brick.
TOM: Well, I think if you think it’s recent, then you have two options at this point, one of which would be to hire an ASHI-certified professional home inspector. And that’s a guy who’s a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s really important because those are the guys that are really the pros in the business.
The second option might be to hire a structural engineer, which is going to be more expensive but it’s something you’ll need if it turns out to be a serious problem. Because the structural engineer will actually specify the repair. You can have it corrected and then you can have the engineer certify that it was done correctly.
If you think it’s active, that’s important information and I would have it looked at by a professional. I wouldn’t mess around with a contractor or anybody like that. I would have it looked at by someone who has nothing to gain from giving you repair advice, only diagnostic advice – an expert diagnostic advice – to determine what’s going on here, OK?
VINCENT: Yes. And what was the abbreviation for that home inspector?
TOM: Yeah, ASHI – A-S-H-I. It stands for American Society of Home Inspectors. If you go to ASHI.org, you can put in your zip code and find a list in your area.
VINCENT: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck, Vince. Thanks, again, for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, across the nation, reports of water-quality issues are becoming more and more common. We’ve got some tips to help you maintain the quality of the water in your home in today’s Water Quality Tip, presented by The Home Depot.
TOM: Now, according to the Water Quality Association, a lot of this comes down to cleanliness, maintenance and a bit of common sense. First, if you have a filter to remove contaminants, you’ve got to maintain it according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Filters that are overdue for cleaning or replacing might no longer remove those contaminants and they may even become contaminated themselves.
Now, the same goes for your water softener. Salt-based systems need to be maintained according to the manufacturer’s specs and the salt levels need to be checked at least once a month.
LESLIE: Next, you can have the best water treatment in the world but if you put clean water into a dirty container, it may no longer be safe to drink. It’s super important to clean your water containers regularly. Just mix a few drops of dish detergent into clean water and pour it into the storage container. Agitate that liquid and then scrub the inside with a nonabrasive scrub brush or a clean dishrag. Then rinse that container thoroughly.
TOM: And that’s today’s Water Quality Tip, presented by The Home Depot where you’ll find the new Brita Mist Water Filter Pitcher. It’s ideal for mid-size households. Everyone in your house will enjoy fresh, great-tasting filtered water with every glass. The carbon-spun fiber-filtration system reduces chlorine taste and odor along with toxic metals, such as lead and mercury, that can be found in most tap water and can prove harmful to your health.
It’s available for 14.98 at your local Home Depot and HomeDepot.com. The Home Depot is your source for a comprehensive set of water-quality solutions.
[radio_anchor listorder=”2″]LESLIE: Charlotte in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
CHARLOTTE: So I was calling about my patio concrete slab. It’s probably about 10×10 and it’s got a crack all the way across it. How can I fix that?
TOM: Is the crack wide or is it narrow? What’s it look like?
CHARLOTTE: Maybe an inch wide all the way across.
TOM: That’s pretty wide. You’re going to have to repair that with some material designed for those wide cracks. QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E – has a number of products that are available to address that. Because it’s such a wide crack, what you’re going to want to do is press into that crack a foam rod called a “backer rod.” And it’s like a foam tube that is squishy and you push it into that crack. And so it sits about a ¼- or a ½-inch below the surface. And then when you apply the sealant, it kind of floats over that.
And this way, you won’t be filling up this deep hole with a lot of expensive caulk or other type of sealing compound. You’re only going to fill out the space that’s on top of that backer rod. And it’ll lay nice in there and it won’t move and it’ll basically keep the water from going in there. And that’s what you want to do because the more water gets in there, the worse the crack is going to get, especially in the winter when it freezes and expands.
CHARLOTTE: But it’s got grass and mud up in there right now, so I need to …
TOM: You’re going to want to clean that out. I would just get in there with a screwdriver and maybe a shop vac and try to clean out that area as best you can, press that backer rod in. And then when it’s nice and clean, you can put the sealant over that, OK?
CHARLOTTE: Alright. Thank you.
[radio_anchor listorder=”1″]LESLIE: Steven in Texas needs some help with a cabinet project. What can we do for you?
STEVEN: Yes. So my wife has challenges with chemicals, like formaldehydes and glues and paints that they put in kitchen cabinets, the new ones. And I was wondering if you had any idea what a person could use that you could get away from those types of chemicals in cabinets.
TOM: So you’re looking for a cabinet manufacturer that is sort of formaldehyde-free and VOC-free? Is that correct?
STEVEN: Yeah, that’d be right. Yes.
TOM: Steve, that’s an interesting question because when it comes to kitchen cabinets, so many of the products that go into kitchen cabinets have the potential to have VOCs or volatile organic compounds in them. Because you could start with the boards that are used to build the cabinets. If they’re a pressboard or a composite board of some sort, that may have formaldehyde in it, for example. Then you have the finishes and on and on and on.
I think what you want to do is you want to look for kitchen cabinetry that is built to meet the new CARB 2 standard. That’s C-A-R-B – 2 standard. That stands for the California Air Resources Board and that’s a standard that measures the level of those types of toxins in cabinetry. And so if you search for kitchen cabinets that meet that standard, I think that’s a good place to start.
STEVEN: Well, generally, I do like maybe some metal cabinets, you know. That would look nice in a kitchen. Would you have any ideas on something like that?
TOM: Well, you’d still have finishes on metal cabinets that would have some of the same issues.
TOM: I haven’t seen metal cabinets in a kitchen in forever. The Gladiator folks at Whirlpool are doing a really good job these days with metal cabinetry for laundry rooms and utility areas and spaces like that. But I don’t know if that cabinet line is going to extend to the point where you’d have enough flexibility to do it in a kitchen.
LESLIE: Well, I can share with you a vendor of a no-formaldehyde-added cabinetry. They’re actually beautiful, handmade, wooden cabinets. I’m not sure of their price point but I am familiar with the fact that they are not adding any chemicals to it. And they are very responsible in how they utilize the wood and the products that they use to make their cabinets. It’s a company out of Portland and their name is Neil Kelly. And it’s N-e-i-l-K-e-l-l-y.
And then, there was a metal-cabinet manufacturer that I was familiar with a while ago. It’s Fillip Metal and it’s F-i-l-l-i-p. It’s sort of this new revival of some interesting, repurposed materials. And you might want to check them out, as well.
STEVEN: OK. Well, thank you very much for the information. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Just ahead, paver patios, walks or driveways that aren’t properly installed can sink, settle and even let lots of weeds grow through. We’re going to have some simple solutions, after this.
MARILU: Hi. This is Marilu Henner from The Marilu Henner Show. And I’m obsessed with these guys. You’re listening to The Money Pit, my buddies Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.
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, on The Money Pit’s listener line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: Coming up, Roger Cook from This Old House will be stopping by with tips to step-up sagging paver patios. And today’s This Old House segment on The Money Pit is presented by Proudly Propane. Clean American energy.
LESLIE: Well, building a brick-paver patio is a very popular do-it-yourself project. But if you’ve ever built one only to find that it’s started to sink or it ends up getting very weedy, you might be wondering if all of that effort was for nothing.
TOM: Well, not to fear. A paver patio that has started to sink can be saved. And with us to talk about that is a guy who has built more than his fair share of patios: Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House.
ROGER: Hi. How are you today?
TOM: And I love this project because it’s really fun; it’s like putting a puzzle together. But it’s not so much the top that counts, it’s really what’s underneath. Is that where most of these paver projects go wrong?
ROGER: Preparation, preparation, preparation. And sometimes, 90 percent of your good work is buried; you don’t see it.
ROGER: But when a patio settles, that’s when you know the proper sub-base wasn’t put in.
LESLIE: So what is the correct process and really, how deep do you need to go down to make everything a successful start?
ROGER: Well, we always say the deeper the better but the soil really tells you how deep you want to go down.
When you start digging out for the patio, you want to remove any loamy, organic material because that’s going to swell with water and move up and down. So, usually, we dig out anywhere from 8 inches to a foot, depending on the subsoil. We put in a good draining gravel, which is a combination of sand and three-quarter stone and we compact that all the way up to 1 inch below where the pavers are going to go. Most manufacturers want you to …
LESLIE: And that’s all that mix?
ROGER: All that mix. Compact it. I mean we use a mechanical compactor that we walk around with and it really packs it down.
LESLIE: And that’s also called a “tamper”?
ROGER: A tamper.
ROGER: Some people will use a hand one and it’s a lot of work to get that compaction done properly.
LESLIE: OK. So that’s up to about an inch before the paver.
ROGER: Right. And most manufacturers like to see 1 inch of sand underneath their pavers.
LESLIE: Just for sort of like a smooth, uniform sort of pressing-into surface?
ROGER: Right. It’s a great surface. We can level off and all the pavers will go in level.
TOM: Now, speaking of leveling off, is it important that a paver patio have any kind of pitch to it or can it just be flat and drained?
ROGER: We don’t want anything flat. The minimum pitch is an 1/8-inch per foot and that’ll carry the water off. Bigger patios, we would go a ¼-inch.
But you don’t want to go much more than that because if you sit on them or put a drink on them, someone will say, “Hey, my drink is crooked.” And then, no, that’s just the patio, so …
TOM: It’s the patio. Now, let’s talk about how to fix one that’s already constructed. If we start from scratch, we know we need a proper base. But what if we’re staring at our patio outside our kitchen window right now and we notice that it’s really sunken out? Do we have to take it all out and start over again or can we just sort of try to rebuild the area that’s damaged?
ROGER: I would just rebuild the area that’s damaged. Sometimes, I’ll pop all the brick out and will be able to just do that one little area. You’ll dig down and find there might have been a stump there or even a rock that has moved around, something that would cause a physical problem. You dig that out, repack again and work your way up and set everything back in place.
But if it’s a patio that has a lot of cuts or the area you’re doing has cuts, you should label them. Not only label them but take a picture with the numbers on them so that when you go back to assemble them, you know where each piece goes.
TOM: Oh, great tips. So basically, you’re going to number the bricks with a lumber crayon or something like that?
ROGER: Exactly. And take a picture of it in place and then when you go to put them back together, you won’t mix everything up and have a lot of work ahead of you or end up with the wrong brick in the wrong place.
LESLIE: Now, I notice in the process, when you said it was the gravel mix and then the sand, there’s no weed blocker or anything installed in there. So what do you do about weed growth that may occur?
ROGER: That’s one of the biggest complaints we get about patios. There’s two options: either treat it with an herbicide as it shows up or there’s a new product called “polymeric sand” that you sweep into the patio. That not only locks the patio together but it makes a barrier which will keep those weed seeds from getting in there and germinating.
TOM: Because it’s really the weeds that – seeds that fall on the patio. They’re not coming up under …
LESLIE: And not coming from below.
ROGER: No. They’re not coming from below.
TOM: And they find that little sweet spot with everything they need: a little organic material, some moisture and then they pop up from there.
ROGER: Right. Yep. And that’s it.
TOM: The polymeric sand can be repeated from time to time?
ROGER: Yeah. But you’ve got to – if you’re going to do it, you have to scrape out the joints and redo it. Usually, one application works really well.
TOM: Great point, great point.
Now, Roger, paver patios, we should just talk a bit about the difference between a paver brick and a regular brick. Because paver patios really are designed to be stacked side by side but a traditional brick is not.
ROGER: Well, it depends. It depends. There’s a lot of different types of brick. The paver brick are exactly the same; we call them “modular.” Everyone has the same width and the same length as its partner. So that allows you to do different patterns, like a herringbone or a basket weave.
The other type of brick is called a “clay brick.”
ROGER: It’s fired in an oven and it shrinks down and that’s what makes it hard and repel water.
Now, certain ones will come out of the kiln – if they’re closer to the fire, they’ll shrink more than the outside ones. So when you go to do a pattern with those, they’re very hard to mix together and have the pattern come out without not having big, big joints.
There are some types of brick, though, that will come out just right and you can use those. You have to know whether your brick is modular. If it’s modular, then it’s great for a pattern.
TOM: Now, what about slate patios? I mean those are gorgeous but how do you control the weeds and the spacing on something that’s so natural as a slate tile?
LESLIE: Like a freeform.
ROGER: Some of this polymeric sand is made so that it’ll fill the joints like that. They have some for ½-inch joints, some for 2-inch joints. It’ll work. The other thing you can do is – just keeping the joints filled with a stone dust will help pack in and keep the weeds from getting in there. Otherwise, again, you have to go to some sort of herbicide treatment, whether it’s a chemical one or an organic one like a vinegar mix.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And is there ever an instance where you should actually grout your patio or are you just dealing with so much freezing and thawing that you’re going to get heave and it’s just going to always crumble?
ROGER: You know, the joint is the weak point of any cement patio. That’s why I love the pavers. We can lift them up and we can do anything with them. On a flagstone patio that’s on cement, that joint keeps popping because everything moves. So, you see a patio where you go in and part of the joints look great because they’ve been redone and the other parts are not so good. It becomes a year-after-year-after-year thing.
ROGER: I really don’t like setting things on cement, in New England, especially.
TOM: Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for dropping by The Money Pit once again.
And by the way, there’s a really great video on how to repair a brick patio on ThisOldHouse.com. You’ll see Roger do this project step by step.
ROGER: It’s a little bit of work to do it but it’s a lot better than jackhammering out a concrete patio.
LESLIE: And remember, you can always get more great advice when you watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.
Just ahead, do you like to grill? Well, who doesn’t? And that’s why you need to pick up the phone right now – and I mean right now – and call in your home improvement question to 888-MONEY-PIT. Because we’ve got a fantastic, new Nexgrill Evolution 5-Burner Grill with Infrared from The Home Depot.
Going out to one caller drawn at random. If you want that to be you, think about a home improvement question that you need answered and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’d love to talk with you, right now, about the project you’re working on this Memorial Day weekend or a project you’re planning for the weeks ahead. Just call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question.
Plus, this hour, Leslie, we have got a fantastic product to give away to one caller drawn at random that picks up the phone.
LESLIE: Yeah, this has to be like the perfect summer giveaway prize. We’ve got up for grabs, to one lucky listener, the Nexgrill Evolution 5-Burner Propane Gas Grill in stainless steel, with a side burner and infrared technology. It’s got stainless-steel main burners, grates and a side burner so you can cook the meal and the sides and all the dishes right outside. The Infrared Plus technology offers multiple cooking methods. It’s got an eight-year burner warranty. This is a fantastic grill.
You can check it out, right now, at HomeDepot.com. It is a prize worth 379 bucks.
TOM: Going out to one lucky caller. If you want it to be you, there’s only one way to get in on it: you’ve got to pick up the phone and call us with your home improvement or your décor question at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Well, with more and more of today’s homeowners staying longer, remodeling is on the rise. And if you’d like to take on one projects that’s going to deliver a big uptick in your curb appeal and a solid return on investment, replacing your siding is a great project to consider.
TOM: Yep. But as projects go, replacing all your siding is a significant investment. We’ve got some tips to do this for a lot less dough in today’s Exterior Home Improvement Tip, presented by Tando.
If your current siding is drab but not necessarily falling apart or letting leaks get through, you can also consider replacing just the front siding. Doing this with some of the latest composite materials that represent natural siding or stone can make a really big impact at a very reasonable cost.
LESLIE: Now, traditionally, homes are covered with one type of siding material or at most, it might have a brick or stone front with the same siding everywhere else. Today, however, a new trend is developing called “mixed materials,” where you might feature multiple types of siding on the same side of your home.
TOM: Yeah, it’s sort of a mix-and-match approach. You might have a stone entryway mixed with shakes or shingles or even multiple kinds of masonry, like a stone foundation and a brick house. You can highlight other architectural features, too, like maybe a bump-out section of the exterior walls or the gable walls right under the roofline. And with the reduced cost of composite-siding products that look surprising real and are easy to take care of, this look is really achievable at even a modest budget.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Exterior Home Improvement Tip, presented by Tando Exterior Cladding. With Tando, you can replace wood and stone with beauty, longevity, low maintenance and moisture-resistance. TandoShake Signature Stain features six stain colors with a true semi-transparent wood stain for rich color. And TandoStone has the rich look of stone without the weight, messy mortar or maintenance.
Ask your contractor to use Tando to accent any other type of siding, for a visually-interesting mixed-materials look.
[radio_anchor listorder=”3″]LESLIE: Barb in Illinois is on the line with a tankless water-heater question. How can we help you?
BARB: We’ll go along with a shower or some – or dishes for a while and then all of a sudden, the hot water will quit.
TOM: Right. It’ll get freezing cold.
BARB: Well, it gets ambient cold, anyway, which in Illinois is fairly cold.
TOM: OK. Yeah, I bet.
BARB: But if you turn it off completely and then turn it back on – and it only takes, you know, maybe 15, 30 seconds – it will come back fairly warm.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
BARB: But the only way to keep it going, if it starts going down, is to keep turning it up higher and higher.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. So what you need is called a “pressure-balanced valve.” Now, the way that works is it controls the mix of hot and cold, regardless of what the pressure is in the line. So, if you have a lot of water pressure, it’s going to control the mix between hot and cold. But if just maybe the cold pressure starts to drop, well, it will equally drop the mix of the hot-water side so that you never change the temperature. You may have more or less flow coming out of the showerhead but the temperature won’t change and you will never have that shower-shock experience that you’re describing.
So ask your plumber for a pressure-balanced valve. Once you have that installed, you will no longer have to fool around with those faucets. It’ll work properly.
BARB: One for the kitchen sink, one for the shower, so on and so forth.
TOM: Those do not exist for the kitchen. So I think, in the kitchen, you’re going to be kind of on your own. But at least it’s just the kitchen faucet.
BARB: But it’s the same kind of thing?
TOM: But it’s the same kind of thing, yeah, except they’re designed for showers, mostly, and bathtubs. So, in the shower and the bathtub, that’s where you’re going to put the pressure-balanced valve. OK?
BARB: It’s also an intermittent problem. Is that …?
TOM: Yeah. But it’s going to solve it. Whenever it happens, it will solve it. It’s a permanent fix. OK?
BARB: Thank you.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, now that warm weather has arrived, the bugs are out in full force, including those that like to take a bite out of your house. We’ve got tips on how to spot termites before they do damage, 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.
And 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. Ready to get that deck you’ve always been dreaming of? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for your job, for free.
TOM: Well, Leslie, now that it’s warming up, it is bug season. It is termite season. And last weekend, I was out at my sister’s house and we were replacing a door in the back of her house. And we’re kind of in the middle of this project and my son’s with me. And he turns around and he goes, “Dad, look at all those flies. Where are those flies coming from?” And sure enough, I look around and there is a swarm of fluttering insects flying about.
So, we track it down and about 20 feet from the house, there is a railroad tie that is edging a patio. And coming out of that wood tie is the first termite swarm of the season. Thousands of termites flying off to find new colonies around her neighborhood. It’s a really freaky thing to watch and you usually don’t see it very often because it happens really fast. And literally 15, 20 minutes later, they were gone. Not a single one was left.
And so, of course, everyone was upset about this and said, “What do we do?” And very surprised at my answer which was: “Not a thing.” Because these termites are out away from the house, they’re not infesting the house. This type of termite, by the way, that flies off is not the same kind that’s going to chew on your house. So, this is kind of just like seeing any type of other insect nest outside; you just kind of leave it alone and live with it. I would say that it’s a good idea – in our area, you want to do this once a year anyway – is to have your house inspected to make sure you don’t have a termite problem in the house where they’re actually kind of coming to the house and feeding on the framing.
But the fact that we found it in the soil was not reason enough to treat the house. It was just one of those things that happened. A little bit of science in our afternoon/weekend project and it was pretty cool to watch, actually.
LESLIE: How lucky for you.
Well, if you’re witnessing some weird nature going on around your money pit or maybe you’re working on something, post your question online in the Community section. And I’ve got one here from Zack in Atlanta who writes: “I have several small chips on the edge of my granite kitchen counter. Is it OK to buy a DIY kit to fix this or should I go ahead and hire a pro?”
TOM: You know, I think it’s tempting to buy one of those over-the-counter chip-repair kits for granite chips but those kits can’t always compare to the work of a real granite professional. There’s a lot of difference in the way they approach it. I mean the DIY kits use a thick, sort of paint-like material that fills in the chip. But the granite pros actually use real granite and they kind of build it up and sort of press it back into the damaged area and kind of reassemble that piece that was missing.
I’ve seen these guys grind up granite that’s identical to the granite in your counter – or as close to it as they can – and then they just mix it with epoxy and fill in the chip and very carefully sort of sand and buff it out so that when you’re done, you cannot tell that there was ever a chip in that space. So, of course, it’s going to be more expensive. Therefore, the decision is up to you. But if you really want it to be professional and completely disappear, go with a pro.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s going to last longer and it’s going to stay in there longer. And truly, anything that you’re going to do yourself might just have to be redone sooner than later. So it’s better to get a pro. You can have them come in and buff and polish any other areas. It kind of works better if you’ve got some things for them to work on all at the same time, so you’re kind of saving on whatever fees there might be. Really, a granite countertop is something to preserve and keep beautifully in your home to keep up its value.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this portion of your Memorial Day weekend with us. We are so pleased to have you here and to take all of your questions and comments about the home improvement and décor projects that you’re working on around your money pit. If you’d like to participate, 24/7, you can log on to MoneyPit.com and post your question in the Community section, where we jump in and answer questions all the time. Or post them to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
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.)