Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Fresh Flowers, Easy Fixes and Laundry Room Labor Savers!
- How to Repair a Loose Bathtub
- Get Rid of Carpenter Ants
- Planting Spring Bulbs
- Best Chainsaw for a DIY’r
- Fix for a High Water Table
- Easiest Way to Repair Rotted Wood
- Will GFCI Work in an Old House?
- Today’s Giveaway: Arrow E21 Cordless Electric Staple Gun
- How to Make Laundry Easier
- Replacing a Geothermal Heating System
- ROI for Bath Remodeling
- Is it Worth Upgrading to a COMBI Boiler and Water Heater?
- Nothing signals the start of spring better than those fresh blooms like daffodils and tulips in full color! But if you want to enjoy those beautiful spring blooms, you need to plant bulbs now. We’ll share tips just ahead.
- With all the rainy, wet Spring weather ahead, repairing rotted wood on your windows, doors or wood columns may be on your to-do list. We’re going to make those projects a lot simpler with tips on how to easily restore damaged wood.
- Once the weather warms and kids spend more time outside, you may be spending more time INSIDE doing loads and loads of laundry! We’ve got a few tips to help you get your laundry room organized and save money!
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions, about hiring a contractor, eliminating carpenter bees, installing GFI switches, replacing a HVAC system with geothermal.
Fresh Flowers, Easy Fixes and Laundry Room Labor Savers!
Coming up on today’s show, nothing signals the start of spring better than some fresh blooms, like daffodils and tulips, in full color. But if you want to enjoy those beautiful blooms, you need to start planting those bulbs right now. So we’re going to share some tips to make sure your blooms are successful.
Leslie: And with all the rainy, wet spring weather ahead, repairing rotted wood on your windows, doors or even those wood columns might be on your to-do list. We’re going to make those projects a lot simpler with tips on how to easily restore damaged wood.
Tom: And once the weather warms and kids spend more time outside, guess what you’re going to be doing inside? Laundry. Lots and lots of laundry. We’re going to have some tips to help you save some money getting all that dirt washed out once again, only so they can put it back again.
Leslie: Seriously. They just get so dirty. It’s ridiculous. And shoes on. Your socks are white; they’re not brown. It’s ridiculous.
First up, guys, though, we’re here to help you create your best home ever. So help yourself first: reach out to us with your home improvement question. You’re going to get the answer, plus you might even win a great tool from Arrow Fastener.
Tom: Yep. We’ve got the E21 Cordless Electric Staple Gun to give away today, along with a supply of staples. It’s worth about 50 bucks. Going to go out to one listener drawn at random, so make that you. You can call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 or post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
And by the way, it doesn’t matter when you hear this show. Whenever you’re listening, you can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT and ask your home improvement question. You will qualify to win that Electric Staple Gun, the E21, from Arrow.
So, let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
How to Repair a Loose Bathtub
Leslie: Rina in Massachusetts, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
Rina: Well, I’m going through a bathroom renovation and I had the demo done. Plumber came in to do some piping work and bring things up to code and set the tub in. So when I had the tile guy come to do his thing, he looked at me like I was crazy and said, “This isn’t ready. I can’t do anything.” And then he explained it to me.
And I should first say that this is my first home, so I’ve never been through anything like this.
Tom: You’re taking on a really big project. Here’s my first question: do you have a second bathroom in the house?
Rina: No. No, I do not.
Tom: Oh, no. Oh, man. It’s even harder.
Rina: And no because the thing is – so I bought a fixer-upper, so I knew it needed some work.
Rina: And so I am in a standstill right now, which is a bit problematic.
Tom: Tell us what the tile guy saw that caused him to want to just press Stop on the whole project.
Rina: Well, he said to me, “The tub isn’t secure.” I didn’t know, quite frankly, that that was an issue. Another thing – after the fact, because I did a little bit of research – is that there are shims put along the front of the tub. So, there were shims on the left- and right-hand side put perpendicular to the tub. And it goes an inch all the way across.
Rina: So, yeah. So, basically, the drain is attached but the tub isn’t secured to the studs. I looked at the install sheet from American Standard and I learned about the stringer board or hanger. And I tried to feel behind, because I didn’t think there was one there at all. But as it turns out, there is one sort of in the middle. But it doesn’t go all the way across. There’s a foot missing on the left and 8 inches on the side.
Tom: Alright. Well, I think this is a pretty straightforward situation and that is that you hired a plumber to install the tub. The plumber is responsible to install that tub consistent with the manufacturer’s instructions. The manufacturer’s instructions are very clear in that you have to have a piece of wood that goes behind the tub, that’s even with the underside of the lip of that tub, to support it properly all the way along the wall. And that wasn’t done. And so, that plumber needs to come back and fix that.
Now, the fact that you have these shims in the front – you say they stick out. That I’m not concerned about, because floors are often uneven and shims are the way you kind of support something that’s straight or something that’s not so straight. And the tile guy should know that he needs just to take a saw – we would use what’s called a “back saw” or the power tools that do this. Then you cut them out – you cut them so they’re flush with the front of the tub and then you tile up to it. And tile guys also have ways of sort of raising the level a little bit, up near the tub, so it all covers and looks normal.
But I think the fact that the tub isn’t put in properly or securely, it was appropriate for the tile contractor not to proceed because you can’t put tile against an area that’s not properly supported. You’re going to have flexing there, especially when the tub gets filled with water. You’re never going to have a consistent gap. The caulk’s going to pull away. You’ll get mold that’ll grow in there. So, this is a situation where the plumber simply did not do the proper job that he was hired to do.
Have you reached out to the plumber yet?
Rina: I have and he basically was – told me that the tile guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. So here I was – they’re both pointing fingers at each other. That’s when I finally went ahead and did some research and actually contacted American Standard. He told me to hand the instruction sheet to the plumber, because I knew how it should be installed.
Tom: Let me ask you one more question: did you get a building permit for this?
Rina: Oh, absolutely.
Tom: So your plumbing inspector is going to be your best friend on this. So, you know, it’s very easy for the plumber to point fingers at each other but you can also talk with your plumbing inspector and ask him if this was installed correctly. And you show the plumbing inspector the manufacturer’s instructions and there will be zero question about this.
Let me tell you a quick story. I’ve mentioned on the show before that I put in a heating system not too long ago. And when my plumbing inspector from my local town came to look at it, he would not approve it because he was looking for a diagram in the instructions for the boiler that showed the exact installation that I had. And he couldn’t find it right away. Well, ultimately, I found it for him but then he noticed that there was a slight difference between the way the vent was terminated on my home, from the book. The book said it should have a 180-degree angle and mine had a 90-degree angle. And so, just that slight difference, he said, “It’s got to be like the book.”
I mean to the plumbing inspectors, these manufacturer’s specs are really the law. And your plumber just didn’t do it. I’m sorry he has to come back but he’s going to have to suck it up, admit the error and just come fix it, stop making it worse than it actually is. And if he doesn’t come back, you actually have a complaint against this guy that you can file with the licensing board.
So, I think you need to – just to be a little more comprehensive on how you go back to the plumber, pointing out all this additional information. And ask him for his cooperation to get it done right. You tell this guy you’re not going to get an inspection passed unless it’s done right. So, he’s got to fix it. What’s he going to do? Tell you now the building inspector or the plumbing inspector doesn’t know what he’s doing? And the tile guy? Who else?
Rina: Yeah. I think I did call City Hall. A friend recommended I do that. And when it was – the permit was looked up, it looks like it’s already signed off through the end.
Tom: No, it’s not possible. You would have had to have had a rough-in inspection and then a final inspection. So that makes no sense.
I would not – I would go down and talk with the plumbing inspector. Find out when he has office hours. Bring some pictures, bring the installation instructions and go through it with him. And see where that takes it, OK?
Rina: OK. That’s great.
Tom: OK. Sorry that happened to you but – and don’t let this dissuade you. But you’re doing the right thing. And sometimes, you have to stand up to these contractors and show them the light, OK?
Rina: Thanks so much. Yeah.
Tom: You’re very welcome.
Rina: Take care.
Tom: Hey, guys, if you enjoy woodworking, crafting or DIY projects, we’ve got a great tool to give away to one lucky listener to today’s show. It’s the Arrow E21 Cordless Electric Staple Gun, along with all the staples you’ll need for quite a while.
This is a really nice tool. It’s very compact. It’s easy to use. It fires 30 staples and nails per minute and it’s got a battery life of up to 3 hours, which I can tell you is super convenient when you’re working in areas with limited power sources or you just don’t want to have another darn power cord pulling around your project. I know, personally, I’m always tripping on them, so I’m happy to have these battery-powered tools.
And this staple gun is great for crafting, woodworking and of course, lots of other DIY projects. Going out to one listener drawn at random. If you’d like to win the Arrow E21 Cordless Electric Staple Gun, you’ve got to have a question. And you’ve got to call us with it at 888-MONEY-PIT or post it to MoneyPit.com.
Leslie: Steve in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
Get Rid of Carpenter Ants
Steve Looked outside this year and we’ve got a building that was built in 1929. It’s got a porch above the patio down below. And on the exposed joists, those carpenter bees have put some holes in there. And it – we’re looking for a way to eliminate the carpenter bees and not necessarily poison everything in the neighborhood.
Leslie: Well, part of what they’re doing is – you know, they really enjoy eating this natural wood. So they’re coming there because you’ve got something tasty to offer up. And it turns out that they love to bore these holes that are perfectly 3/8-inches round.
So, you can do a couple of things. You can have it treated by a pest professional and then seal up those holes and that should do the trick. But you’re right: chemicals are used and that might not be what you have in mind.
The other thing is you can cover that or replace that joist completely – or whatever the support is – with a synthetic wood or a composite that looks like wood but it’s not actually wood. It could be extruded PVC, it could be recycled plastics. This way, it looks like wood; it’s doing the same job that the wood piece was. However, carpenter bees, carpenter ants, termites, whatever pests like to eat a natural source as wood, they’re going to try it, they’re not going to get into it and they’re going to be really confused and fly away and find somewhere else to eat.
Steve Yeah, that sounds like an option. Yeah, I was wondering if there was something that – I assume that painting it would not make a difference. I didn’t know if there was something that could be topically applied to it that would be environmentally friendly and keep the bees out.
Leslie: Unh-unh. I’ve had them eat through the painted wood that makes up my entire screened-in porch. And then what happens is they bore a hole but they won’t bore all the way through. They’ll bore into the wood, even if it’s just a 1×6 or whatever. They find a way to bore into it and then bore through the wood itself and lay their eggs in there.
Steve OK. And it – yeah, it’s amazing. It looks like somebody got out with a drill and drilled the hole in there.
Leslie: It’s just bizarre. It’s perfect how they do it.
Steve So, essentially, the options, basically, are having someone come out and treat it or either covering or changing the material that’s there.
Leslie: Yeah, changing material is usually the best bet because they won’t eat it. And then, as an added benefit, it doesn’t require any maintenance except the occasional cleaning. You’re not going to be painting it all the time. It really is a win-win situation.
Steve OK. Yeah, I’ll look into that. I’ve got a contractor that’s got to come out anyway, so I’ll look into both options. But it sounds like it – I’d prefer something that wouldn’t have to do with pesticides but …
Tom: Steve, I hope that takes care of those carpenter bees once and for all. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Planting Spring Bulbs
Leslie: Well, nothing signals the start of spring better than those fresh blooms, like daffodils and tulips, in full color. But if you want to enjoy those beautiful spring blooms, you need to plant those bulbs now.
Tom: Yep. And the secret to successful blooms start with that timing. Summer bulbs aren’t tolerant of cold temperatures and need to be planted after the ground warms up and there’s no longer any threat of frost.
Leslie: Yeah. So if you’re ready to start planting bulbs, there are a few basic rules that you’ve got to keep in mind.
First of all, a bulb does not like wet soil, so you want to make sure to plant them in well-draining, sandy soil. You also want to add a good bulb fertilizer to the bottom of the hole and scratch it into the soil really well before you plant that bulb. And you want to be careful not to plant too shallow. You need to follow the instructions on the package but the general rule here is to plant two to two-and-a-half times deep as the bulb is tall.
Tom: Now, if you’re trying to decide which bulbs to plant, we’ve got a couple of good options to suggest. The first is, of course, tulips. There’s nothing more classic in a bulb plant than a tulip. And that’s why they’re one of the most popular types.
Now, one trick with tulips is to replant the same colors in the same bed year after year to make up for bulbs that don’t come back. Just remember that if there are deer in your area, though, tulips are like caviar to them. So, put them in an area the deer can’t get to, like inside a fenced-in section of your yard.
Now, the other option is daffodils. These are the workhorses of spring flowering blooms. They’re available in a large variety of colors and bloom times. I like to plant them in sort of large masses, with hundreds of bulbs. It gives you this amazing impact. And when you plant that way, you can always snip a few for inside and not really miss them. And there’s a lot of varieties that naturalize, which means they grow and flower year after year without replanting.
And most importantly, consider that timing. Remember, some bulbs are going to be bloom later in the summer or for a longer time, like dahlias, that bloom well into fall. So if you plan this out, you’ll have some early bulbs, some mid-summer bulbs and even some fall flowering bulbs to enjoy.
Best Chainsaw for a DIY’r
Leslie: Now we’re going to chat with Caroline in Delaware who needs some help finding the right tool for the job. What are you working on?
CAROLINE: Well, actually, I do all my own landscaping and I have a 15-year-old property with a lot of landscaping.
CAROLINE: As well, I just joined the landscaping committee at my HOA.
Tom: Oh, nice.
CAROLINE: So I am looking for a chainsaw that is kind of user-friendly for a woman.
CAROLINE: So, something that I could start up and use and would do branches probably about, I don’t know, 4 to 6 inches in diameter, something like that.
Tom: So, when folks think of chainsaws, they think of loud, gas-powered machines that need a lot of maintenance or are very heavy to use. They’re very smelly. But today, there are – the battery technology has advanced to a point where you can get the same level of power and performance without having to go through that.
I would suggest you take a look at HART – H-A-R-T; this is a brand of power tools sold exclusively at Walmart – because they have a 40-volt, 14-inch chainsaw, which I think is the perfect size for the kind of work that you’re talking about. And with this 40-volt chainsaw, it’s light, it’s comfortable, it’s easy to use. It’s not going to wear you out. It has all the features that you’d find in a gas-powered machine, too. It’s got an automatic oiler, for example, that will extend the chain life. And the batteries are just terrific.
Now, they make a bunch of great tools. And in fact, I used a 40-volt snow thrower that they made. And I used it this winter with all the snow we had and it was fantastic, because I have a little patio out my back door. And I was walking around with this snow thrower just cleaning it off in no time at all during the snowstorms.
So I would recommend you take a look at that. Available at Walmart. It’s the HART Chainsaw. It’s a 40-volt, brushless, 14-inch chainsaw.
CAROLINE: OK, I will. I really appreciate the information.
Tom: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. And keep us posted on that landscaping committee.
Tom: Alright. Take care.
CAROLINE: Alright. Bye-bye.
Fix for a High Water Table
Leslie: Alright. Now we’ve got Jim on the line from Ohio who’s dealing with a high water table.
Jim:: Hi. Our sump pump runs like crazy and we’ve tried to, you know, make sure that the drainage is a little – far away from the foundation. We even went so far as to get the basement sealed and waterproofed, all that stuff, which I think we wasted our money on. But nonetheless, sump pump runs like crazy. All these things have been addressed. It’s just – and everybody says around here it is a hugely high water table, if that makes sense.
Tom: So, does your basement leak more after a hard rain?
Tom: So the rainfall is consistent?
Tom: So this could be the unique situation where you really truly do have a high water table. If you get basement leakage and precipitation that is worse after a snow melt or a rainfall, then it’s almost always gutter problems or problems with drainage, angle of the grade, that sort of thing.
Jim:: Right, right. As a matter of fact, we took your advice from past shows and had all that stuff addressed, because it is such a common issue. But this is the oddball. Leave it to us to have the oddball.
Tom: If you truly do have a high water table and you have a subsurface drainage system in below the floor of the basement, then that’s pretty much all that you really can or should be doing right now. Is the water evidencing itself in some way? Is it coming up beyond the floor?
Jim:: No, no. It stays in the sump pump. I know my pump’s not going to last forever. We go through – we’ve gone through 7 or 8 of them in 12 years.
Tom: Take a look at the pumps that are made by Wayne – the Wayne Pump Company. They make really good pumps that – in fact, they have pumps that are auto-reversing so that if they do get clogged, that they will reverse themselves to kind of spit out the clog and then come back on again.
Jim:: Oh, OK. Awesome. Thanks, you guys.
Tom: That’s the solution. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Jim:: You guys rock.
Easiest Way to Repair Rotted Wood
Leslie: Well, when wood gets wet and stays that way for a long time, it rots. And with all the rainy, wet spring weather we’ve got ahead, you might likely find rotted wood in places where water spends more time than it should.
Tom: Yeah. We’re talking about places like wood in windowsills, wood porch columns, the trim around doors or even the wood that trims the corners of your home or the fascia just behind your gutter. Places like this that get wet and stay wet and may not have been painted frequently enough, they’re going to deteriorate into a soggy, mushy, rotted mess.
But instead of replacing wood that rots away, there is a way to restore and rebuild these areas for a fraction of the cost of replacing them.
Leslie: Yeah. And now there’s actually two products that are designed for this: LiquidWood and WoodEpox. And they’re both made by Abatron, a company that we’ve been recommending for almost as long as we’ve had this show. Both products are high-performance epoxy adhesives and they work together to restore and rebuild rotted and damaged wood.
Tom: Yeah. Now, first, you’d apply the LiquidWood, which is known as an epoxy consolidant.
That’s a new word that I learned when I started looking into these products, Leslie. A consolidant. Because it basically takes …
Leslie: Brings it all together?
Tom: That’s what it does. It brings all that soft, rotted wood and permanently restores the structural strength and the durability.
It’s really easy to apply. It soaks in deep in those wood fibers and it doesn’t require the need to cut out any of the damaged wood. Because once it’s dry, it is totally solid once again.
Leslie: Yeah. Now, if the wood rot is really so terrible that areas have completely fallen away, that’s where WoodEpox comes in, because it’s a shrink-free epoxy wood filler that’s going to fill in and actually replace that rotted wood.
It’s a two-part epoxy that you mix together and you make it like a putty-like consistency. You press it in place and then it dries solid. And in about 1 to 2 hours, it’s fully cured and you can cut it, sand it, stain it, paint it, whatever you would normally do with real wood.
Tom: You know what I also use the WoodEpox for? I once drilled a very large hole in a totally wrong place when I was hanging a door. And so I had the big hole for the door latch and it was completely off by an inch. So, I mixed up WoodEpox, filled it in, sanded it down. I started all over again and got it right the second time.
So, by using the LiquidWood and the WoodEpox instead of replacing rotted wood, you can make permanent, shrink-free wood repairs that really do retain the character of your home and save you some money in the process, because you’re not going to have to replace the wood or the window or the door or whatever part of your home needs the work.
You can find Abatron’s LiquidWood and WoodEpox at Ace, True Value, Benjamin Moore and other retailers nationwide or at Abatron.com. That’s A-b-a-t-r-o-n.com.
Leslie: Alright. Now we’ve got Belinda who wants to talk electricity. What kind of electrical work are you doing over there?
Will GFCI Work in an Old House?
Belinda: I live in a house that was built in 1971. So, there were no GFI outlets then. And little by little, I’ve been adding them. So my question is – I have a couple more that I want in bathrooms and all. When a GFI outlet is added, does it need its own circuit breaker or is it OK if they splice it into an existing wire?
Tom: No, it does not need its own circuit breaker. In fact, the ground-fault breaker is a circuit breaker.
Now, there’s two types of GFCI devices that are most common: one is built into the outlet and the other actually is a circuit breaker with a ground-fault circuitry built into it.
With an older house, typically, you’re just going to replace the outlet with one that is a GFCI outlet. And an electrician that knows what they’re doing should be able to handle that. I always suggest that you test it yourself by using the Test button.
And if possible, there’s a little electrical tester that’s in the shape of a plug, that tells you a lot of information. All you do is stick this thing in and it has lights on it. And the lights will tell you if it’s grounded. It’ll tell you if the polarity is reversed, which means the wires have been put in backwards. And it will also enable you to test the ground fault outside of the breaker itself so – which is a better test. It’s kind of like what happens if you have a bad appliance plugged into it.
So, it’s definitely something that can be done after the fact. And you don’t have to do it at the breaker itself.
Belinda: Oh, OK. So it doesn’t need its own dedicated line down to the circuit breaker. OK. And this tester, you’re saying, is something I should buy to have in my own toolbox in my house?
Tom: Yeah, it’s an – yeah, it’s called an “outlet tester.” Yeah. They’re like, I don’t know, 10 bucks. They’re really cheap. It looks like a small plug – a three-prong plug. And you just plug it in. You’ll see there’s lights on it and a little push-button. And when you read the instructions, you’ll see they’ll tell you if everything’s wired right.
Belinda: And then the way to test my GFI outlet that I have, just press that red …?
Tom: Yeah, it should click off, right, and be dead, basically.
Belinda: Thank you.
Today’s Giveaway: Arrow E21 Cordless Electric Staple Gun
Tom: Hey, if you’ve got a project in mind you could use some tools to help, you’re in exactly the right place because we are giving away the Arrow E21 Cordless Electric Staple Gun, along with all the staples you need for quite a while.
Leslie, is this the tool that you would typically use with your upholstery projects?
Leslie: Oh, for sure. I mean a good electric staple gun is definitely key on having successful upholstery projects.
And Arrow is, for sure, the way to go. It’s got a very specific nose design that helps you get into some places that usually you can’t get to with a basic hand stapler. I love the power of it, how quickly it fires the staples. Thirty staples or nails per minute. And when you’re tackling a headboard or the backside of a couch of whatever it is you’re working on, it definitely helps you get through that project successfully.
Tom: It’s also great for crafts and woodworking and lots of other DIY projects. This prize – the Arrow Cordless Electric Staple Gun with the staples – it’s worth 50 bucks. If you want to win it, you’ve got to be in it. Call us with your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question at MoneyPit.com. We’ll draw one listener at the end of today’s show and it might just be you.
How to Make Laundry Easier
Well, after a cold and snowy winter, we’re all ready to welcome warmer temperatures of spring. And that means the kids get outside to play and come in with very, very dirty clothes, right?
Leslie: Super dirty. So, I bet one of those projects for your spring cleaning, which will probably roll well into the summer, is laundry. Lots and lots of loads of laundry. So we’ve got a few tips to help you save money along the way.
First of all, always run a full load of laundry. You’re going to use the same amount of energy with a full load versus washing, say, only three t-shirts. So, just wait until you have the full load of laundry. With two boys at home, it literally takes 5 minutes. So, just wait; there will be more laundry.
Now, you want to switch loads when the dryer is warm. And that’s going to allow you to use that remaining heat inside that dryer for the next drying cycle. And always clean that lint filter on the dryer after every single load. You’re going to find that the dryer runs way more efficiently and safely.
Tom: That’s right. Now, if you’re ready for new appliances, always look for ENERGY STAR-certified washers and dryers because they use 20- to 25-percent less energy than conventional models. And try to always wash with cold water instead of hot. This can also cut loads’ energy use in half, since you’re not using your water heater to raise that water temperature.
Replacing a Geothermal Heating System
Leslie: George in Pennsylvania is on the line with a geothermal question. What can we do for you?
George: Well, we had – I have a geothermal system now. It’s 15 years old. And a couple weeks ago, the compressor went up. And the guy came out who normally services the unit. He went – he recommends not replacing the compressor. He recommends an entirely new unit, everything, the whole shebang.
Tom: OK. How old is the existing system, George?
George: Fifteen years old.
Tom: OK. I would agree with that.
George: Oh, OK. OK. That’s …
Tom: That pretty much your question?
George: Why, yeah, that’s my – because my stepson, who is in the field, keeps insisting to me that – just to replace the compressor. But I – after I went online and I saw the pros and cons of doing that and I hate to just do piecemeal and something happen, you know. I spend money for a compressor and a couple years later, something else goes up.
Tom: Well, the old saying is you don’t want to throw good money after bad.
George: Right. Sure.
Tom: And if the system is 15 years old, frankly, George, it doesn’t owe you a dime. That’s pretty good life expectancy. So you’ve gotten all your money out of that.
If you replace the whole thing, you’re going to get a much more efficient system out of it, because everything is balanced in systems today. Plus, there’s new refrigerants that are safer. So, I really do think you’re better off replacing it.
George: Oh, great. OK, OK. Fine. How do you feel about buying a – I want to say another – he wants to do – this guy is recommending not another hot-water heater, like a storage tank to keep the water hot so that we don’t have to use the hot-water heater as much as we do now.
Tom: OK. That’s not an unusual approach. I have a storage tank in my home because my hot water is provided by my boiler, not by a water heater.
George: Right, right. We used to have that.
Tom: And so by having a storage tank next to the boiler, the storage tank can supply a certain amount of hot water and the boiler doesn’t have to come on every time we need more hot water in the house. So that’s not an unusual approach.
The other thing that you might want to think about is a tankless water heater. That’s another way to go.
George: Oh, OK. OK. Fine. OK. Well, great. That was quick. You answered my questions. I appreciate it.
Tom: Alright, George. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
ROI for Bath Remodeling
Leslie: Mary Anne is thinking about the value of a bath reno and writes: “When remodeling a house, is a bathroom always the best return on your investment?”
Tom: Ah, you know, that’s a really interesting question, especially now, Leslie. Because I think what we’re seeing is a shift, right? It used to be that kitchens and bathrooms were always the best return on investment. And I think while kitchens have pretty much held that value as being one of the more valuable ones to do, bathrooms, they seem to be slipping down. Because I checked the numbers and the latest average return on investment for a bath is about 60 percent. Now …
Leslie: Which isn’t a lot.
Tom: Well, yeah. I mean I think what it says is that you’d better plan on spending enough years in that house after the reno to get your 40 percent out of it, because you’re not going to get any more than that out of it when it comes time to sell your house if your ROI is only 60.
I suppose that it does change based on how drastic the reno is. So, if we’re talking about sort of gut-job remodeling – you’re down to the studs, ripping up the floor, that sort of exhausting remodeling – that would probably be harder to get a return on investment than just doing sort of a bath redo where the walls and floors were in decent shape. And maybe you’re just changing out the fixtures. Maybe you’re putting in a new tile floor or you’re doing maybe an EVP floor on top of the old floor, one that can actually give you a pretty dramatic update in terms of its look, adding some lighting. But that kind of an update, I think, would give you a much better return on investment.
So, it varies based on how difficult and how complicated the project is. And I think the exception to that, though, is adding a bathroom, right? Because when you add a bathroom, then you definitely impact the overall …
Leslie: Well, you’re increasing the value of the house.
Tom: Exactly, yeah. So, I think that this doesn’t count for adding. If you add a bathroom, I think that’s always a smart thing to do.
Leslie: Always. And then come help me add a bathroom at my house. Find the space.
Tom: Yeah, exactly.
Leslie: I know. It’s my thing.
Is it Worth Upgrading to a COMBI Boiler and Water Heater?
Alright. Next, Shari is going to need some advice about upgrading her heating system. Now, she says, “I have an older home and getting ready to replace my heating and hot-water systems. I’m wondering if I should go with a conventional boiler/water heater or a combining system where both water heater and boiler are one unit.”
Tom: So, I actually just did this last winter, Shari. I had an old, maybe, 40-ish-year-old cast-iron boiler and indirect water heater, which is kind of like a storage tank. Because the boiler would run in the – basically year-round and make the hot water. Then it would store in that tank.
And so, I was always interested in making this replacement but of course, like everything, you need to wait until you have the time and the money and all that. But the planets kind of aligned for us on this, because there were a number of rebates available. I think about $1,300, $1,400 total worth of rebates. So, all in, I think I spent about six grand on this, including removal of the old one.
And I’m super happy because my new system is really efficient. I went from, say, 70-ish-percent efficient to 97-percent efficient. It’s so much smaller. I actually picked up more room in my basement which is great, too.
So I think you really can’t go wrong with going with a combi system. And you’ll be amazed at how small it is. My unit hangs on the wall. It’s 18×27, so it’s like the size of my spice cabinet.
Leslie: That’s really small.
Tom: It really is. It really is amazing but it works great.
Leslie: Think of all the things you can now store in that room. Just remember, keep it safely away.
Tom: We’re planning, we’re planning. Yep.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, guys, thank you so much for spending this part of your day with us. We hope that you’ve picked up a couple of good tips to help you with the projects on your to-do list. If you have a new project that comes to mind or you’re stuck in the middle of one you started, remember, you can always reach us at MoneyPit.com or by calling in your question to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
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 2021 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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