TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. We want to solve the do-it-yourself dilemmas. We want to answer your questions, your concerns about the improvements and the repairs and the projects you want to take on in your house. Help yourself first, though, by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s program, when you decide to bring home a family pet, there can be a lot of changes. Your home décor, however, doesn’t have to be one of them. If you’re pondering any decorating or improvement projects, we’re going to have some tips to help make sure those improvements are pet-friendly.
LESLIE: And are you thinking about adding a central air-conditioning system but you’re afraid the construction needed to run those ducts will make a real mess of your house? Well, a type of A/C system called “mini-ducts” could be the answer. We’ll explain later on.
TOM: And also ahead, if you’re planning a project to improve your outdoor living but need to be confident the project is a good investment, we’re going to have details on a project that can deliver years of carefree enjoyment and good return on investment when it comes time to sell.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’ve got a very fun tool to give away. It’s the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, along with a supply of staples, worth 50 bucks.
TOM: Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Call in right now. We want to hear about your home repair, your home décor question. We want to solve it for you. And the number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Michael in Arizona, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MICHAEL: I bought a little ranch here in Arizona. And during the winter months, my electric bill runs about $60 a month.
MICHAEL: And during the summertime, it goes up to about $300 a month.
TOM: (inaudible) It would be nice if it stayed at that level all summer long, wouldn’t it?
MICHAEL: Oh, yeah. The house was built with a swamp cooler and there was just a single vent. They had swapped it out for a heat pump with cooling capability.
MICHAEL: And the problem is they put ducting in but it’s all on the roof.
MICHAEL: So, everything that the air conditioner is cooling, it goes through 20 or 30 feet of plenum that is exposed to all that sunshine and sunlight and all that desert heat, right there on the roof.
MICHAEL: And I was wondering if there was an economical way that I could insulate those plenums so that I could hopefully cut $100 a month out of my electric bill.
TOM: Well, are the air-conditioning ducts on the roof that are exposed – are they insulated now?
MICHAEL: No, they’re not. They just had a coating, like an elastomeric or something put on them.
TOM: That’s nuts. That’s completely nuts. Yeah. Well, they didn’t put the right type of ducting in. Because, you know, having ducts run on the exterior of a building or across the roof is not unusual. I mean it’s unusual on a residence but it’s not so unusual in commercial establishments.
TOM: But there are types of duct insulation that are designed to go around, in that scenario. And usually, it has a type of foil face that has a low-E capability. In other words, it reflects the UV radiation off. And usually, it’s a couple of layers.
There’s a product called Reflectix that I’m familiar with, that makes reflective insulation and radiant-barrier products. That’s the kind of stuff we’re talking about. So there are products out that can be used to insulate those existing ducts. It’s just that you weren’t – they weren’t installed. And that was pretty much malpractice, as far as I’m concerned, because there’s no way you’re going to be able to compensate for the loss of that air conditioning traveling through those scorching-hot ducts. It’s just kind of silly for them even to think that’s a possibility.
So, insulating those ducts with the proper material is one thing you could do. And that’s probably going to be the least expensive way to go. Because the other option is if you wanted to run it through the building, you don’t have to use full-size ducts.
There’s a type of system that’s called a “high efficiency, low volume.” They run through ducts that are about 3 inches in diameter. And it’s different than the large, typical ducts where the air moves slowly. This air moves very quickly through these smaller tubes. But because they’re less than the width of a 2×4, you can run them through a lot of places. But that kind of requires a complete system replacement. So I think just getting the right kind of insulation on those ducts is going to be the shortest distance between you and a lower electric bill.
MICHAEL: Okay. Yeah, I’ve seen that kind of material. As a matter of fact, I’ve got some of it. I actually made a solar oven for the backyard where I can cook in a crock pot all day long in this heat.
MICHAEL: I can put a roast in there in the morning and by the time that 4:00, 5:00 in the afternoon rolls around, it’s stew.
TOM: Yeah. Well, then you want to manage the sun. In this case, you want to keep the sun out and away from those ducts. So, I think take a look at Reflectix, just as a place to start. And that’s ReflectixInc.com – t-i-x-I-n-c – ReflectixInc.com. You’ll get a sense as to what we’re talking about. And I’m sure there are other manufacturers; I just happen to know about that one. But you need to find the right type of duct insulation to get those ducts wrapped, quickly, before the summer sun really heats – sets in. Okay?
MICHAEL: Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
MICHAEL: Alrighty. Thank you.
LESLIE: Angela in Washington D.C. is on the line with a question about waterproofing her basement.
Angela, first tell us what’s been going on.
ANGELA: I’m having problems in my basement with water coming in in my garage, not in the other part of my house. But it would have to rain really hard for the water to come in.
So, I have some mold and mildew downstairs in the corners and I also have peeling of the paint. And also, I have a crack that goes across the wall about 8 feet. And I was interviewing some companies to waterproof my basement and they all wanted to drill my house down to the footer and I really don’t want to do that. For some reason, that doesn’t sit well with me.
TOM: Yeah, well – and you’re wise to question that advice. Because if you’re talking to these so-called waterproofing companies, they’re in the business to sell you very expensive repairs. And I just would venture a bet that it came with a fair degree of panic-peddling about all the bad things that could happen to you if you didn’t open up your checkbook for them. Is that correct?
ANGELA: Yeah. And I was – I had – gave them money and I was going to do it and they delayed it for about a day because they needed some more of the – whatever they told me. And I was – I went online, I was surfing the net and I came across your article and it said, “Don’t do it.” And I called them right then and there. I said, “I don’t want to do it.”
TOM: Yeah. Good, good. Well, we saved you and I’m very happy that you found the articles that we have about waterproofing your basement and how not to get ripped off.
TOM: That’s actually among the most popular content that we have on MoneyPit.com. We get tens of thousands of people that see that article every single month.
And so let’s talk about it, Angela. If you read the story, you know that we believe that most water problems that are consistent with rainfall, such as what you’ve described, have nothing to do with rising water table.
TOM: And if you don’t have a rising water table, there’s no reason to dig out your basement and put in drains and pumps and all of that. What we need to do is get this in under control from the top down.
So, you need to kind of go through a checklist here. The first thing is to look at all of the drainage around your house. Start at the roof. How is the water being collected at the roof edge? Do we have gutters? Are the gutters clean? Are the gutters free-flowing? Are they big enough for the volume of roof surface that they’re servicing?
The downspouts. Are they clean? Are they free-flowing? And very, very important, if I had to pick one thing out of everything, where is that downspout discharging? If you’ve got water in corners of the basement showing in, I bet you there’s a spout above it that’s leaking water there or backing up or clogged or something right above that area. We need to direct the water from the roof away from the house.
Now, I know in D.C., that could be a challenging area, depending on how close your home is to the next house. Do you have a single-family house or do you have a …?
TOM: OK. So you have some room to move around, in terms of this drainage?
TOM: Can you get the water 4 to 6 feet from the foundation perimeter?
ANGELA: Yes, I could do that.
TOM: OK. And I’m going to tell you how to prove this point to yourself very easily and inexpensively. Head out to a home center and buy some downspout material. It’s very cheap. Probably $10 or $20 worth of downspout material. And just stick it on the end of the leaders and run it out into your yard 6, 8 feet, whatever length they come in. And just stop right there, OK? This is a temporary thing; we’re not going to leave it like this year-round.
But what you will find, if we move through a couple of rainfalls, that the volume of water and moisture and humidity that you’re seeing in your basement will be dramatically different. Why? Because you moved the water away.
Now, once we’ve proven that point, how do we do this in a neat and orderly fashion? You’ve got options. You could run it underground through solid PVC pipe, if you can find a place that discharged that to daylight. We want it to come out somewhere low where the water will stream away. So if you have a low spot in your yard where you can do that, great. If you can take it out to a curb and put it into a storm sewer, even better. So that’s a way to make it completely hidden.
If not, then maybe you tighten up those spouts and try to landscape around them so we hide the extensions. But they’ve got to get out there at least 4 to 6 feet, because those first few feet around the house are critical. If they get wet, your basement is going to flood, because that’s the backfill zone. Soil there is more porous than in other areas of the house; it’s where the house was dug up to build the foundation. So, the gutters are critical.
Second to that is grading. You know, if the soil around your house is very flat, then once the water lands, it has nowhere to go but in. So you want to add clean fill dirt – not topsoil but clean fill dirt – and tamp it to slope away from the walls. You want a slope of about 6 inches over 4 feet.
And then once that slope is established, then and only then do you put some mulch or topsoil and grass seed to control erosion. But you don’t build it up with topsoil. Why? Because topsoil is very organic and because it’s organic, it’s going to hold water and that’s not what we’re trying to do here.
So grading and gutters are the two major things to address and of all of those, downspouts are most important. Does that make sense?
ANGELA: Sounds great. Thank you, Tom. Thank you, Leslie. Thank you so much.
TOM: Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit. Call in your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any project. Go to HomeAdvisor.com.
TOM: Just ahead, pets and projects don’t always go together well. So if you’re thinking about any decorating or improvement project, we’re going to have some tips to help make them pet-friendly, after this.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we want you to join the show. Call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online, for free.
And there’s another great reason to call us, right now, with your question because we’re giving away the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, plus a supply of staples. It’s the most popular, American-made staple gun ever. It’s all chrome. It’s got steel housing, jam-resistant mechanism. It’s got a really powerful coil spring. It’s got a staple-viewing window so you’re going to know when you’re running out of staples. And it’s all steel working parts. It’s made right here in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, not too far from us, by a great company, Arrow.
It’s worth 35 bucks. Going to throw in about 15 bucks worth of staples. So, we’re sending out $50 worth of staples and a staple gun to one lucky caller. You can check it out at ArrowFastener.com. But give us a call, right now, for the answer to your question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Richard in Wisconsin is on the line with a lighting question. How can we help you today?
RICHARD: Yes. I would like to know where a person could find a floor lamp or a table lamp with a dimmer switch on it instead of the three-way switch. That way you could have one bulb and it wouldn’t – it’d last longer, I know, than a regular three-way switch does.
TOM: Well, certainly, you can find lamps that are capable of having dimmer switches. I think it would be unlikely for the lamp itself to have the dimmer. It’s more likely that the lamp – you want to get one that’s not on three-way and put it – plug it into a dimmer switch. There are, for example, floor switches that I’ve seen that are on a slider. It’s almost a foot switch where it slides from full brightness down to the dimmest setting. And it’s basically just ramping up and down the power that’s going to that lamp.
So I think you want to find a standard floor lamp and then you want to find a second dimmer switch that you can plug it into. So there are portable, so to speak, plug-in dimmer switches as opposed to the kind that are wired into the wall, Richard. And that would be the solution to that problem. They’re very inexpensive and I’m sure you’ll find them online or in an electrical-supply store. So take a look and I think that is the solution.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re a pet lover and considering a new décor or remodeling project, you probably already know that all home improvements don’t necessarily fit well with pets. A Persian rug might look nice in your home but it’s probably not the best choice if you’ve got pets where durability is definitely a factor.
TOM: Yeah. If you’ve got pets, you need to think about things like easy clean-up floors, like laminate or engineered hardwood. Or the new engineered vinyl plank is beautiful or luxury vinyl plank. And even the new, wood-look porcelain tile or ceramic flooring can make sense, because these are really hard-surface products. So, of course, they’re easier to keep clean and to keep them stain-free than, say, a rug, which pretty much you can’t keep stain-free.
LESLIE: Yeah. Another great benefit to this is that hard-flooring options will be more comfortable for your cat or dog during the hot summer months if it’s got a lot of hair or fur. You can definitely get pet-friendly flooring that will make your house look amazing.
TOM: For more tips, check out our blog post, “Pet-Friendly Design and Decorating Tips for Your Home.” It’s online, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And now we’ve got Kimberly in College Station, Texas with a leaky roof. Tell us what’s going on.
KIMBERLY: We bought this house many years – several years ago. And we had an inspection of the house and we didn’t know that we had a problem with a roof leak. The inspector didn’t catch it because the people who owned the house first put some plastic over the leaking areas. So when it rained, it held water and we didn’t know that until four or five months afterwards, after we bought the house. And then our insurance wouldn’t cover anything.
And we’re just – we’ve got more leaks now because the house is getting older. And so, instead of replacing the entire roof, we’re looking for some suggestions on some kind of a seal. And we don’t even know – there’s all these things out there. We don’t know what would be the best, if there’s anything available, or what we should do.
TOM: OK. So, you say that they covered this with plastic and your home inspector never noticed that it was covered with plastic? I mean duh.
KIMBERLY: No. And it was – it’s on the – up in the inside of the house. And also, they painted the ceiling. They had a 5-gallon can of white ceiling paint in our garage, which – so they kept it covered all the time, which – nobody caught that. Now, I didn’t think anything about it.
TOM: Was this roof accessible? The area that was covered with plastic?
KIMBERLY: Yes. And he walked around up there and it – and I guess it hadn’t rained in a while. So, those little sealed-up areas weren’t full of water at this – at the time.
TOM: Let me ask you this: is this a sloped roof or a flat roof?
TOM: And has it ever been covered with tar or anything like that?
TOM: So the metal is still fresh in the sense that it has never been tarred over?
KIMBERLY: No, it’s not tarred.
TOM: Well, have you had a roofer look at it?
KIMBERLY: We have; we’ve had several. And one told us that it would cost us $6,000 or $7,000 to put a seal on it. And now there’s some of those things out there at the home improvement stores. We just don’t know if …
TOM: OK, look, let me make this real easy for you. You don’t seal a metal roof; you repair a metal roof. Metal roofs can last 100 years. So, if any roofer is trying to sell you something in a can that he’s going to seal the roof with, that is a disaster waiting to happen, for a lot of reasons.
First of all, it’s not the right way to fix it. Secondly, it actually does more harm than good and here’s why: because when you seal a roof with tar – a metal roof with tar – water still gets in; it gets under the tar and then it quickly rusts the roof away. If you have a roof that is cracked or has rusted out in a piece of area, then you repair those; you don’t tar over them like you might, say, an asphalt roof.
So, that’s – what you need to do is to find a roofer who is a craftsman. And I realize that that’s easier said than done. But if you find a roofer that’s a craftsman that really has experience with metal roofs and doesn’t just know how to tear one off – that doesn’t count as experience with a metal roof which, unfortunately, many will just say, “Oh, we’ll tear it off and do something else.”
No. If you find somebody that really knows metal roofs, then that should be completely repairable. And I would not encourage you to put any kind of sealant on it but to figure out where it’s leaking and why it’s leaking and fix it.
You’ve got to dig into it further, Kim. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, are you thinking about adding central air-conditioning but you’re worried about the mess of tearing open your walls and ceilings to make room for those ducts? Well, a type of A/C system called “mini-ducts” could be the answer. Richard Trethewey of This Old House will be by to explain.
TOM: And today’s edition of This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by ADT. Introducing ADT Go, the new family mobile safety app and service. Go to ADT.com to learn more today.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And right now – I mean right now – on MoneyPit.com, you can enter The Money Pit’s Power Your Summer Sweepstakes for your chance to win the quiet, clean and very portable Cat INV2000 Inverter Generator.
LESLIE: It’s great for tailgating, camping, taking to your job sites. So many more places you can bring this thing. It’s small but very powerful 1,800-watt generator. It retails for about $749.99 but you can win one free, right now, at MoneyPit.com. You can enter from now until June 10th and you’ll be able to power your entire summer with ease.
TOM: Enter The Money Pit’s Power Your Summer Sweepstakes today at MoneyPit.com for your chance to win.
LESLIE: Well, one of the biggest projects that we undertook at my old house was installing central air-conditioning. Believe me, it was well worth it but it took quite a bit of construction to get all of the ducts to fit.
TOM: And that’s pretty typical when you need to retrofit a home that was built before air conditioning was common. There is, however, a way to install A/C into an existing, older home or really any home where you’d like to minimize the construction necessary to get those ducts where they have to go. These systems are known as “mini-ducts” and they can actually be run through the wall with very little disturbance.
With us to talk about how they work is Richard Trethewey. He’s the plumbing-and-heating contractor from TV’s This Old House.
RICHARD: Hi there.
TOM: Now, when Leslie’s system was installed, the mess actually released enough lead paint into the air, which put her family at risk. Minimal disturbance is really a hallmark of these mini-duct systems, though, isn’t it?
RICHARD: Right. In a typical, conventional, ducted system, you need to have large ducts. You need a separate supply to every room and a return from every room. With a high-velocity system, it has one 2-inch flexible supply for every 8×10 or 10×10 area. So most rooms would have just two of them. And you’d have one common return, so it’s minimally invasive to put into the building.
TOM: Now, you just mentioned high velocity. I think that’s an important point to make. Existing systems are bigger in volume but they’re low-velocity; these are smaller in volume but they’re high-velocity, so you can move enough air to actually do the job.
RICHARD: Right. It actually works to your advantage. If you go conventional, low-velocity system, wherever the register is is where you’re going to have heating and cooling. Then the air becomes a prisoner of the temperature that’s leaving the register. If it’s in heating mode, most of the air wants to stay at the ceiling. If it’s in cooling mode, it wants to drop right below that register and it’s going to be pulled over to wherever the return area is in the room, if it’s there.
With high-velocity, it’s a stream of air and it makes the air in the room blend together, so you have no more than 2-degree temperature difference side to side or top to bottom.
LESLIE: And then it’s sort of sucked back in through the return duct and then cooled again through the air handler, which is maybe in your attic.
RICHARD: That’s right. And the cycle repeats. It just puts the right amount of air in every room, comes back through one central return that has a filter on it. The air goes back and gets either reheated or recooled.
LESLIE: Which system tends to be more efficient?
RICHARD: A high-velocity system will dehumidify. In areas of high humidity, the small-duct system will outperform on efficiency standpoint, because it takes out 30 percent more humidity because you have less air across a very, very cold air-conditioning coil.
TOM: Now, is there anything different about the return-duct setup with a high-velocity system?
RICHARD: No, only that there’s only one. The properly-done conventional system should have a return in every room and it should actually have two returns: one for installation of a cooling system and one for a heating system.
RICHARD: You should close one off in the appropriate season.
TOM: But you almost never see that anymore.
RICHARD: No. No one does it and so that’s why you have so many complaints from conventional systems of being dirty, drafty, dusty, unbalanced, some cool – cold 70. “The thermostat just has shut off and I feel uncomfortable.” So, it’s mostly because of improper installation.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, in the high-velocity systems, because they’re moving so much air so much more quickly, is there any noise associated with that? I would imagine you’d get a whistle.
RICHARD: Well, properly installed, it’ll be as quiet as any system. So, just like anything, if it’s not done properly – and the other thing that was introduced in the past year is a thing called an ECM motor. This is really like cruise control for a blower fan, so it feels how much resistance and just brings on the fan at the right speed. And that’s really made a big difference, because it tries to overcome the realities of poor installation.
TOM: Now, that’s got to have an efficiency benefit, as well, because you’re only really moving as much air as you absolutely need to.
RICHARD: Yes. That blower will be about 10 to 15 percent more efficient than the conventional blower.
TOM: How about the cost of a high-velocity system compared to a standard? You have less construction disturbance.
TOM: Is the equipment cost a little bit higher? Does it all balance out?
RICHARD: Absolutely. The material is higher, the installation is almost always lower. What happens is people – installing contractors will say, “I’ll try one of these,” but they only usually try it on the hard job where they couldn’t do conventional.
RICHARD: And then they become hooked. They say, “Boy, I could do this a lot of different places.”
TOM: Good advice. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
RICHARD: Glad to be here.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and a step-by-step video on installing a mini-duct system and even other projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Gorilla Glue.
Up next, are you planning a project to improve your outdoor living but need to be confident the project is a good investment? We’ll share the details on a project that can deliver years of enjoyment and a good ROI when you sell, in today’s Building with Confidence Tip presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, next.
Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, to ask your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They really have the best local pros for any home service.
LESLIE: That’s right. Doesn’t matter what the project is, they make it fast and easy to find top-rated pros.
TOM: And there’s no membership fees. It’s 100-percent free to use. HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kirk in California on the line who’s dealing with a patio issue. Tell us what’s going on.
KIRK: I have a 1974 house. And in the back, I have a patio that I believe was probably poured in the 70s, too. It’s approximately 20×14, cordoned off into about 6 quads separated by 2x4s.
And under the eaves, with the little bit of rain we get, and along the main walkways, it’s kind of getting worn down a little bit. And I wanted to know how to preserve that.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, in terms of the patio itself, if the surface is wearing off, you can use an epoxy patching compound on that surface. QUIKRETE makes a whole bunch of products that are designed just for that. You want to make sure you choose a product that’s designed to stick to concrete and one that’s designed to be a patch. Because if you try to use any type of just regular concrete or mortar, it just won’t stick well. It might look good for a week and it’ll start to chip and break apart, so you want to use one that’s really going to adhere very, very well.
KIRK: OK. But how about with the epoxy? Will it still give it the original look?
TOM: Actually, if you do it to the whole patio, it’ll look like a completely new patio. It will be actually quite attractive. You can get it in different colors, as well, OK?
KIRK: OK. I’ll try that. OK. Thanks so much.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Heading over to Oklahoma, right now, to talk to Sheila about a kitchen do-over. How can we help you paint those countertops?
SHEILA: I recently – my husband and I remodeled our kitchen and we refinished our cabinets and we – they had – we had some recessed lighting done and we didn’t have enough money for our counters. So, I’ve been looking at, online, some stuff about repainting your countertops. And I wanted to know your opinion about it or if you’d heard anyone doing that or what your thoughts are on that.
TOM: Yeah, the countertop paints have been out for probably five or eight years now and they seem to do very, very well. I know Rust-Oleum has an extensive line of countertop paints out that are available in many, many colors. So I think it is a good option.
I think it’ll buy you a little bit of time on those countertops so that you can avoid having to replace them. And you’ll have the opportunity to paint in either a solid color or they have countertop paints now that kind of look like stone countertops. They look like granite and other types of natural materials. So I think they’re a very good option and I would encourage you to pursue it.
SHEILA: Yeah, I actually found a company online that sells them – their product locally at one of our wallpaper stores and have actually purchased the items. I just haven’t started the project yet.
TOM: What you might want to do is try to get your hands on a piece of laminate. And you can go to a home center and buy a really small piece of laminate, like a scrap. And this way, you can practice a little bit before you actually get it on your countertop.
SHEILA: Do you know about the length of time and how durable it is as far as lasting?
TOM: It’s not as durable as the laminate but it’s pretty good.
SHEILA: Yeah, OK. Well, great. Thank you, Tom, for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome, Sheila. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, as you enjoy the warm weather of summer, are you one of the millions of homeowners thinking about ways to further improve your outdoor spaces? If you are, it’s smart to mind the return on investment, because not all home improvements deliver the return on investment that you can count on. But one that does is building a deck.
TOM: Yeah, good point. I mean the cost of building a deck can vary widely based on the number of levels the deck has, as well as the material. But regardless, decks deliver one of the 10 best returns on your remodeling investment when it comes time to sell your home.
And building a deck also helps your home stand out in the marketplace, making it a much more desirable home to buy. This is going to increase buyer competition for your home and it can result in a sale at the highest possible price.
LESLIE: And today’s Building with Confidence Tip has been brought to you by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. It’s completely online, reduces annoying and time-consuming paperwork and gives you a real, accurate and personalized mortgage solution based on your unique financial situation, with no hidden fees or hassles.
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LESLIE: Elvis from Texas is on the line. He is in the building and he has a question about plumbing.
Elvis, what can we do for you?
ELVIS: My wife and I had a house built. Started back in early 2005 and it’s in Lubbock. Houses are made on concrete slabs.
ELVIS: Before they poured the slab, they put in a – with all the plumbing was installed. And instead of copper plumbing, which was in kind of short supply back in 2005, the going thing then was called Kitec. I think it’s K-i-t-e-c. And it’s a double-walled plastic pipe with aluminum in the center, instead of regular connections that use, if I’m understanding, a bronze connector. And we’ve had a couple of small problems with the plumbing but it seems as though I’ve read that the bronze can cause a delinkification (ph) in the copper.
And I’m wondering if there’s been any studies done, if there’s different fittings that can be replaced. If the plumbing has to be replaced, it’d be very labor-intensive to go underneath the house. And we get down to fairly low winters, maybe to zero, and I don’t think I’d want any plumbing overhead for it to freeze. Or if you have any suggestions or thoughts.
TOM: Yeah, Elvis. The problem with Kitec plumbing is, as you suspect, the fittings will leak.
Now, what’s interesting is that Kitec starts with PEX, which is cross-linked polyethylene which, by itself and as installed today, is actually an excellent plumbing pipe with fittings that don’t leak. But the Kitec system has definitely had a history of leaking. In fact, there are many class-action lawsuits over that product that are active and going on around the country. And you certainly should investigate those that you may qualify to join.
Unfortunately, your solutions only include, really, replacing it. And what I would advise you to do is to only replace it where it’s accessible. I wouldn’t create the emergency if the emergency doesn’t exist, so I’m not going to tell you to tear open your walls and pull all the plumbing out and start from scratch. But I would say that if you do happen to be doing a bathroom renovation or you open a wall and you find Kitec, it should be sort of a matter, of course, where you always replace it. Because it’s not going to get any better; it’s only going to get worse.
ELVIS: Not news I wanted to hear but kind of what I suspected.
TOM: Yep. Unfortunately, that’s the case. Every once in a while, we get a building product like that and I’ve seen it happen many times over the years. And there’s just no way to make it better because at its core, it’s a defective system.
ELVIS: OK. No way to just replace the fittings. It’s going to be the pipe itself, too, that’ll have problems.
TOM: That’s correct. So I would attach it to a plumbing – to copper piping or to traditional PEX piping.
ELVIS: OK. So I can talk to some local plumbers and discuss it from that point.
TOM: Exactly. I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, do you live in a community that kind of limits your creativity when it comes to what you can do to your home? Well, we’re going to help one person who posted a question about how they can make changes that fit into their community, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone right now. Call us with your how-to question at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Hey, you need flooring in your kitchen or your bathroom or maybe you need a new roof or you want to get going on that deck? HomeAdvisor can match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
LESLIE: Alright. You can post your question on The Money Pit Community page for two pros right here willing to help you, right now, just like Carolyn did who writes: “We installed a one-piece tub/shower in our basement only about a year ago, as well as linoleum flooring. Already, the linoleum is rolling up where it meets the tub. What’s the best product to use to hold it down? We really don’t want to use quarter round due to the moisture but worry that caulking just won’t do the job.”
TOM: Well, look, bathrooms – basement bathrooms – are good, in particular, but they’re apt to have more moisture than bathrooms that are up at higher levels, as you apparently found. So, this is a pretty common problem. I would steer away from trying to accomplish this with adhesive. Quarter-round molding is really the best way to go and …
LESLIE: It’s just going to trap it there.
TOM: You’re just going to trap it down mechanically. You’re going from an adhesive seam to a molding seam. You may not know that there are composites available in quarter round, which are really, really flexible. This could be very helpful when it comes to going around a tub.
And they can be fairly small in terms of their profile. In fact, I would tell you that if you were able to use a quarter round-style composite molding, you’d probably get it so close to the tub that it really wouldn’t be noticeable. It would permanently hold down that edge. Because even if you get it sealed down now, it’s apt to come up again. And once you’ve got the molding down, you can put a thin bead of caulk above it and below it, paint it to match. And I’m telling you, it will just disappear into that space. You won’t even see it but you’ll know you’ll have a good, solid seam there and it’ll keep that flooring right where it belongs.
LESLIE: Alright. And lucky duck with the basement bathroom. That’s an awesome addition.
Alright. Next up, we have a post from Dave who writes: “I live in a neighborhood of Mediterranean-style stucco homes. Our homeowner’s association requires all sheds to match their house. I’m building a new shed and plan to use WonderBoard to frame it out and stucco to finish, with paint to match the house and need to know: how do I attach the WonderBoard to the shed?”
TOM: Well, I mean the first thing to keep in mind, if you’re going to cover that shed with stucco, is it needs to be dimensionally stable. You can’t have movement in the walls because the stucco’s going to crack and fail. So, that starts at the foundation. You need a good stone base, concrete footings so that when the job’s complete, the shed’s absolutely rock solid. So, that’s really important. When you put that sheathing on, here’s another tip, though: I would use screws because they’re not going to pull out.
Now, WonderBoard is typically used inside, like in showers, right? So you put it up over the studs and then it gives you a pretty dense wall and you can attach your ceramic tile to it. I suppose it could work outside, as long as it’s – that stucco finish is water-resistant, which it should be. But it’s real important that you get this done right. Otherwise, you’re going to have kind of a big issue there.
So, I would suggest that you attach it firmly with screws. In fact, there are special screws that are used for WonderBoard that are like drywall screws except they have a wider head, kind of like – almost like a built-in washer so it pinches it real tight. So get that on there and then make sure you put on the stucco carefully. Multiple coats so it becomes very water-resilient. Be careful around the seams. And hopefully, that will be done well enough that it will match nicely to that Mediterranean style of your home. And hey, the good news is you’re going to have the longest, toughest, lasting shed life out there ever, because it’s never going to fall apart if you do it that way.
LESLIE: So, Tom, when it comes to the stucco, I know you do multiple coats. But kind of the first step is really important because you just need to lay a basis and that’s called a “scratch coat.” Maybe tell people what that is.
TOM: Yep, it’s a scratch coat. So it’s a real rough coat. It’s not supposed to be smooth or pretty. It’s supposed to have enough texture to it so that the finish coat of stucco can stick to it. And if you do a good job, you’re going to have a very long-lasting stucco surface on that shed.
You’ve been listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thanks so much for spending this part of your day with us. We’d love to hear from you. We love to take your calls, your questions. If you didn’t get through to today’s show, please post your question online in The Money Pit Community section of 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 2018 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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