- You may be ready for summer, but is your outdoor living space ready, too? We’ve got a pre-summer checklist to make sure your house is good to go for the season ahead!
- Heavy spring rains can find their way through your roof. That’s why now is the perfect time for a roof inspection. We’ll share how to do just that, without climbing a ladder!
- And now that we have windows open more often, are you noticing that yours are not easy to GET open and closed? It could be a sign that they weren’t installed right. We explain the fix.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Shirley from Nebraska hard water has caused her to replace her water heater four times in twenty eight years and wants to know what the solution is.
- Jason has noisy plumbing that only happens in his master bathroom tub.
- Shirley in Oregon has some concerns about fire safety with solar panels on her roof.
- Mike from Wisconsin wants to know how to restore a field stone foundation.
- Carol in Arkansas has a commode that isn’t draining properly.
- Mary from Maryland has wood bees destroying her porch.
- Russell in Texas has pre-hung doors that aren’t lining up with the frame.
- Jan from Texas wants to swap her shower drain with her toilet drain.
- Randy in Idaho has a cracked foundation that is an inch and a half wide and needs advice on how to repair it.
- Jenni from North Dakota wants to know how to move a lilac bush.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Happy Summer Home Improvement Season. You know, I know it’s not officially summer until, what, the 20th or so? But I’m telling you, I see people in the home centers Saturday mornings, just filling up the backs of those SUVs with lumber and nails and flooring and decking and plants. It’s just so great to have this beautiful weather to spend time outside fixing up home sweet home. If you find that’s where you are this weekend or maybe you’re planning a trip but you’re planning a project for sure and you need a little help, reach out to us because that’s what we do. We’ve been here for 20 years answering questions just like that. So, whether it’s your first time hearing the show or maybe you’ve heard us for many, many years, we’d love to talk with you about the projects you’re doing.
You can reach us by clicking on the blue microphone button on MoneyPit.com or by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, you might be ready for summer but are your outdoor-living spaces ready, as well? Before you shift into summertime mode, we’ve got a pre-summer checklist to help make sure your house is as ready as you are for the season ahead.
LESLIE: And heavy spring rains can find their way through your roof. That’s why now is the perfect time for a roof inspection. We’re going to share how you do that.
TOM: And now that you’ve got your windows open more often, are you noticing they’re not easy to get open and closed? That could be a sign they weren’t installed just right.
LESLIE: But first, give us a call, let us know what you are working on. I know I keep saying it’s summer. It’s just wishful thinking and super-duper-duper close. So, what are you working on? What do you have planned for Father’s Day? You need some help with a project or a gift idea? We’re standing by to give you lots of help with that.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Shirley in Nebraska is on the line and has some issues with heating water.
Tell us what’s going on. You’ve had 4 in 28 years? That is an amazing turnover rate and not in a good way.
SHIRLEY: No, it’s not a good one. It’s not. And when I talked to someone from our gas company – we have a maintenance thing with the gas company. And they said, “Well, the one thing is maybe” – I said, “I thought with a water softener, you were supposed to be able to prolong the life of your appliances.” And he said, “Well, maybe your salt level is too high.”
Our plumber does not think so, so I just kind of wondered what your take was on it.
TOM: OK. First of all, if you have city water, then you shouldn’t need a water softener; you should just be able to work with that water right out of the tap. I think you’ve had extraordinarily bad luck having to replace the 4 water heaters in 28 years. If you feel that the water, even the city water, is a little bit hard then, of course, you can use a water softener. And you might want to consider using one that is a no-salt water softener, if corrosion is a concern.
There’s a product called EasyWater that uses electricity to polarize the hard-water minerals inside and force them to not stick to the sides of pipes and faucets and fixtures. So, that’s another option, as well.
But the next time you buy a water heater, I would look for one that’s got the best warranty, because you haven’t had very good luck with this and at least it’ll be covered.
SHIRLEY: OK. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to chat with Jason who’s got some noisy plumbing. That is never any fun.
What’s going on?
JASON: It started about a month ago but when we fill up the master bathroom’s tub, it sounds like the whole house is vibrating and shaking. And the cold-water supply seems to spit from the other sinks. Do we have to call somebody in or is that an easy fix?
TOM: So, Jason, I know this is kind of freaking you guys out because you’ve probably never experienced it but it’s actually a pretty common problem. There’s a couple of causes of this kind of noise, sort of a loud vibration when the water’s being filled. It often happens in homes that have excessively high water pressure. So, you ought to just double-check that your water pressure is between about 40 and 60 PSI coming into the house.
But I think the cause of it is probably a bad washer in the faucet itself. If the washers get sort of out of shape, if they break, if they get mineral deposits on them, if they kind of get out of alignment, they actually vibrate as the water goes over them and that causes that really crazy kind of loud, pulsing sound. And because you probably have copper pipes, it echoes and it sounds worse than it is.
The solution is pretty easy: to take the faucet apart and replace the washer. But if you’ve never done this before, you may find it a little bit challenging. But that’s generally what the solution is. You replace that washer or if you find that it’s caked up with mineral deposits, you can also soak it with vinegar – in white vinegar – and that will melt them away. Then put the whole thing back together and you should be good to go and have a much quieter experience in filling up that tub going forward.
LESLIE: Well, it’s never going to be a quiet experience taking a bath, the way it is now. No relaxing for you.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: Shirley in Oregon is on the line with a solar-panel question.
How can we help you?
SHIRLEY: Hi. Yes. I had heard that with solar panels or solar shakes on the roof, that if you had a fire, that the fire department would not be able to start fighting that fire until the sun went down because you’re actually creating electricity? And I just was considering putting solar and I just wanted to make sure if that is correct: that they didn’t want to get the water on anything that was actively creating electricity.
TOM: So let’s just think about this, Shirley. Your house is on fire, the fire department pulls up, they spot the solar panels and say, “Ah, you know what? We’ll be back, say, what, 6:30, 7:00? Sun should be down by then. Then we’ll take care of it.”
SHIRLEY: That’s what I thought was ridiculous.
SHIRLEY: That’s why I’m thinking, “Why is anybody doing solar if that’s the case, is there?”
TOM: No. Look, there’s electricity all throughout your house. Why would electricity on the roof have – be any different? If electricity is a concern, the fire department is going to go over and turn the power off; they’ll pull the meter.
SHIRLEY: Well, they said that solar creates its own electricity so even if the meter was turned off or pulled, that it still would be creating. Is that not correct with the solar?
TOM: Let’s think about what you’re saying. You can fight a fire in a power plant if you had to.
TOM: So, this is not an issue. Somebody is pulling your leg, Shirley, OK?
SHIRLEY: I think it was just somebody that was kind of ignorant and I said I couldn’t hardly believe it. But I was going to ask before I – thank you.
TOM: Shirley, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mike in Wisconsin on the line with an interesting mix of materials on a foundation.
Tell us what’s going on.
MIKE: Well, we bought this old farmhouse and – well, we’ve been in it for 20 years now. But whoever – the person before us covered this nice, stone foundation with ½-inch plywood that was not treated.
MIKE: And then they made strips out of the same plywood as batts to go over the seams. Needless to say, it’s all rotting out. I mean it did have ½-inch-depth, foil-covered, ½-inch foam board behind it but I need something that’s going to be – hold up to the weather and …
TOM: Wow. I’d pull that wood off and evaluate the foundation. If it’s deteriorated, you might need to clean it and re-stucco the whole thing. That’s all I would do there. I wouldn’t put any kind of siding back on it.
They probably just thought that it looked good or something of that nature and decided that they were going to dress it up with that.
LESLIE: Well, it’s interesting.
TOM: Yeah, they were going to dress it up with that T1-11 siding but obviously, that was a disaster waiting to happen. And now it’s happened and it’s in your house.
MIKE: Yeah. Well, it wasn’t even the T1-11; it was just ½-inch plywood and they painted it.
TOM: Oh, well, of course.
MIKE: But it’s the round-type fieldstone; it’s not the flagstone.
TOM: Well, that can be very attractive.
LESLIE: Yeah. I’m like, “That’s beautiful.”
MIKE: Well, that’s what I was thinking but I need to evaluate it.
MIKE: But I thought – I was listening to you last week and I figured, well, let me get some ideas (inaudible).
TOM: Yeah, take a look at it. If it’s the fieldstone, the fieldstone looks good, you may need to repoint the joints with some additional cement.
LESLIE: But that’s gorgeous.
TOM: But that could be a very, very attractive foundation.
MIKE: Thanks for the help.
TOM: Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Well, summer may mean vacation time for you but it doesn’t mean time off from home maintenance, particularly if you want to make your home more enjoyable when you have family and friends over for those summer barbecues. Here are five easy to-dos to help you get your house ready for a season of summertime fun.
First of all, set up your lawn for success. Now, the warm weather season is all about being outside, so watering and mowing the lawn and taking care of general yard cleanup is a priority. In general, you want to water 2 or 3 times a week and cut your grass to about 2½ to 3 inches high to keep it healthy. If you’ve got a sprinkler system, you want to check those sprinkler heads to make sure that they’re working and that they’re aimed correctly. And there’s even smart sprinklers which can help by automatically adjusting your watering based on the weather and that can happen even while you’re on vacation.
TOM: Now, next, you want to step up your deck. You want to repair or replace any damaged floorboards or fence posts on your deck or porch. Then you want to keep it looking fresh by using cleaners or a pressure washer to give your wood surface a fresh look.
Now, the same goes for any fencing around your property. You’re going to want to repair or replace or maintain any sections of fence or posts that need attention. And if the sections have settled and are sitting too close to the ground, undercut them to maintain a 3 to 4 inch clearance. Now, this is going to help prevent sections from rotting or attracting wood-destroying insects, not only to improve its appearance but also to provide some security for your home, as well.
LESLIE: Now, next up, you want to fix your ceiling fan. If you’re lucky enough to have a summer room with a ceiling fan, now is the time to clean the blades. There’s nothing better than relaxing on your deck or porch under the breeze of a fan. So, before you turn them on for the season, dust off the top of the blades so they’re not spreading dust and pollen. And then be sure the blades are tilted in the right direction to give you a cooling airflow. Most ceiling fans have a small reversing switch in the side of the motor and that’s going to change the blade direction for the season.
TOM: And next, let’s talk about bugs. They are very, very common in the summer, so you want to eliminate any standing water in your yard where pesky mosquitos might breed. Be sure to clean out gutters and downspouts so they’re not going to clog or create any additional pools of water.
Now, if you’ve got a screened-in porch, now is a great time to check that screening for holes and tears and to keep out any bugs or insects that might find their way through. In addition to eliminating that standing water around your property and protecting yourself, of course, with mosquito repellant, you can also actually disrupt the mosquito life cycle by using a mosquito trap, like a DynaTrap. This is a really effective trap that essentially will disrupt that life cycle of the mosquito and result in far fewer being able to actually be hatched.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, lastly, you want to step up your patios and walkways. If you’re seeing any cracks in that driveway or patio or walkway, it is better to fix them now before they get worse when the colder temperatures become more of a hazard.
And speaking of walkways, you’re going to want good outdoor lighting for those warm summer nights. Make sure things are well lit to keep the area safe, as well as attractive from sun up to sundown.
Carol in Arkansas is on the line with a septic-system question.
How can we help you today?
CAROL: OK. I have a septic system and we’ve had a lot of rain here. Oh, probably the last maybe 3 months or so it’s been a lot of rain. And I’m in the kind of the rice land of Arkansas. It’s very wet ground. OK.
So, anyway, I was having trouble. When I would flush the commode, it – now, it never ran over, which I’m very grateful for. But the water wasn’t going down, OK? And I mean it would go down eventually but maybe take 20 minutes or more.
TOM: OK. Does everything else in your house drain normally? Is it only the commode that you’re having a problem with?
CAROL: It’s, well, the commode and the sink in the bathroom.
TOM: But do we know that it’s the septic system? There could be an obstruction in the drain and that’s the first thing I’d look at.
CAROL: OK. I did have some fellows out and – a reputable company – and they did pump out 120 gallons.
TOM: Well, that’s – but you’re always going to have 120 gallons. That septic tank fills up with water, it overflows into the field. So, pumping out 120 gallons doesn’t really tell me anything. What I want you to do is to have the lines checked, because I suspect there’s nothing wrong with your septic, that you may have an obstruction.
Let me tell you a story about a guy who had a toilet that was having a slow-drain problem. This guy was having a party and was doing this big cleanup for – before all the relatives showed up the next day. And so the toilet backed up and so he figured out that he thought it was a root problem.
And so he got up early the next morning and dug this huge hole in his ground to get down to this pipe and then snaked it one way, snaked it the other way. Couldn’t find any roots in the way. Went back into the bathroom, decided that the obstruction had to be between the hole that he had dug in his ground and the bottom of the toilet. And so he took the toilet tank off of the floor and looked down into it and tried to snake that out and couldn’t find a problem. But in the process of taking the toilet off the floor, he happened to look into the bottom of the toilet and noticed that there was something blue there.
Now, there’s nothing that’s really supposed to be blue that’s in a toilet. It turns out that his darling son had dropped a toy phone down the toilet and that’s what was slowing the whole thing down. So, this guy had dug up his whole yard, took his toilet apart, all to try to find out what was causing this problem and hurried to get it done before all the relatives showed up. And it turned out to be a toy that was stuck in the toilet itself.
So, I’d say that guy was a real idiot and that guy was me.
CAROL: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: I’m like, “I’ve heard this story before.” I’m like, “Why do I think this was you, Tom?”
TOM: I was completely wrong on why I thought that – I figured I was smarter than the average homeowner and knew that it – thought it was the willow tree that had clogged the pipes. It had nothing to do with that.
TOM: It was just a simple toy that was stuck in the crux of the toilet that I couldn’t see. And we finally got that off, put the whole thing back together, threw the dirt back in the hole and then headed off to get ready for the party. So you never know why your toilet is clogging.
CAROL: Well, that’s true.
TOM: And I wouldn’t always think it’s the most expensive possible thing, which is your septic system. Have the lines checked.
TOM: Who knows? And maybe you’ll find something that got stuck in there.
CAROL: Alright. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Mary in Maryland is on the line with wood-eating bees. Aaah!
Mary, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you?
MARY: My porch is being attacked by wood bees and it has been under this attack for, actually, a couple years now.
MARY: And there’s sawdust on the floor and there’s holes in the ceiling. And I would like to know if there’s some way that I could get rid of them without actually killing them.
TOM: Have you tried to ask nicely?
MARY: I have. I really have. In fact, I even took some mosquito spray out and thought maybe if I just sprayed around the holes, they wouldn’t like that and would go away but …
TOM: Yeah, well, unfortunately, the answer is no. What you’re talking about is carpenter bees. And once they find a place that they like, they will come back there over and over and over again, because it’s very tasty.
So, your options are to have them sprayed with an insecticide. They use a powdery insecticide that they spray into the holes that will permanently discourage them from coming back, because it will kill them. But there’s nests in there and that’s what – that’s why they’re going in. They’re drilling those holes to go in and lay eggs, so they’re going to keep coming back.
The other thing to think about doing is if you want to do some construction work – because you can change the wood areas of the – that they’re eating to a composite material, like AZEK. I did that on a garage that we have on our property. It looks like wood; it looks like sort of that white pine trim that we see around but it’s a composite. It’s made out of CPC, the same kind of plastic that plumbing pipes are made out of. But it’s got air cells in it, so it really cuts and looks like wood. You can even paint it.
And once I did that, it was funny: the carpenter bees kept going back to it because they thought it was wood, too. But I can imagine they’re thinking, “Looks like wood. Doesn’t taste like wood.” And once they figured out that it wasn’t wood, they never came back again.
MARY: Oh, wow. Well, that’s a good thing.
TOM: Alright? So check it out online. It’s AZEK – A-Z-E-K – .com. And thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Russell who’s dealing with a door that’s just not sitting right.
What’s going on?
RUSSELL: Well, we recently had the windows and doors replaced in our house about 8 months ago. And up until about 2 weeks ago, the door locked fine. Now, the deadbolt will lock. It’ll go into the side of the door frame but the doorknob itself won’t go in. And these were prehung doors. And I don’t know exactly how to diagnose the problem or even how I would go about fixing it if I was able to figure out what was wrong with it.
TOM: So it’s gotten increasingly warmer in Texas over the last couple of weeks, right?
TOM: And so, I think what’s happening is we’re getting some swelling of the door jambs or the door. And that’s shifting things just enough to make the doorknob not sit properly in the strike plate. So, this is just a door adjustment.
And did you install these doors yourself? Did you have a pro do it?
RUSSELL: They were done by a contractor.
TOM: So I think it’s reasonable to ask the contractor to come back and adjust the doors because they’re swelling now. It is possible to put these doors in so that they work year-round without any adjustments. And so I think it just needs a minor adjustment. It shouldn’t be a big deal. But I would call the contractor, ask him to come back and fix it.
RUSSELL: OK. Alright.
RUSSELL: I’ll give him a call.
TOM: Yeah, nothing to worry about there, Russ. Pretty normal. Just needs a bit of adjustment. And fixing a door – adjusting a door is complicated if you don’t do it every day, because it’s kind of an interesting beast. It has about six different ways it can move and if you move it in the wrong direction, you end up making it worse. So I’d have the pro come back and fix it.
RUSSELL: OK. I sure will.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Russ. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, this spring, we had a lot of wind-driven rain across the country, which makes now a pretty great time to check out your roof for signs of leaks. Because catching small leaks early is key to preventing larger problems later on. We’re going to share how you can do just that, in today’s Roof Review Tip presented by Roof Maxx.
First of all, using a pro to inspect your roof once a year really is the best way to spot problems early. However, there are plenty of things that you can do yourself to identify signs of potential leaks.
TOM: Yeah. Start by checking the ceilings on upper floors for any stains or others signs of leaks. Now, you want to pay special attention to the ceilings above bathrooms and kitchens, because plumbing vents pass through the roof above these rooms and often break down, causing leaks. Also, check for leaks above fireplaces, another spot that loose flashing can allow rain to enter.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, next, you want to head outside and examine your roof from the ground using binoculars or even a camera that has a zoom lens. Look for loose or missing shingles, as well as loose flashing around your chimney, pipes or where the walls and roof lines come together. Now, if you spot any problem areas, it’s a lot easier to get those minor problems fixed now before they become major leaks later.
TOM: And that’s today’s Roof Review Tip presented by Roof Maxx. A Roof Maxx treatment restores flexibility and waterproofing protection of aging asphalt shingle roofs, extending life by as much as 15 years. Roof Maxx treatments come with a 5-year flexibility guarantee and are purchased through a nationwide network of factory-trained and certified dealers who also apply the treatment.
Learn more at RoofMaxx.com. That’s Roof – M-a-x-x – .com.
LESLIE: Jan in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JAN: We have a – it’s a very small bathroom and they had built a tile shower in this – like the middle of the room. And I want to know if you can change the places where the shower and the toilet are, if you can just reverse them and use the existing drains.
TOM: No, you can’t because the shower drain is about half of the size of the toilet’s drain waste/vent pipe.
LESLIE: And it’s a gray-water line, too.
TOM: Yeah. It’s not – well, they’re going to drain to the same place but you’d have to reconfigure the plumbing. So it’s not quite that easy but not impossible.
What is this bathroom built on? Is it over a crawlspace or a basement, by any chance, or is it over a slab?
JAN: It’s on a slab.
TOM: Very expensive project. I would think of something – other way to redecorate that bathroom and make it pleasant for you. Because switching those is a big job; you’re going to have to tear up the floor to do the plumbing.
JAN: Oh, wow. OK. Well, I guess we’ll just leave it the way it is.
TOM: Looking better all the time, isn’t it, Jan?
JAN: Well, no. But I mean it is what it is.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
What were they thinking when they put the shower in the middle of the room?
LESLIE: Views from every part of the bathroom? I’m not sure.
TOM: That’s not a walk-up shower, it’s a walk-around shower.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’re going to talk foundations with Randy in Idaho.
How can we help you today?
RANDY: Well, I’m – I’ve got a crack in my foundation and I’m wondering if what I want to do is a good idea.
TOM: Alright. What’s your plan?
RANDY: Well, first of all, it’s a crack that’s about an inch, inch-and-a-half wide. It’s right on the corner about, oh, 4 or 5 inches up from the bottom of the – from the floor of the basement.
RANDY: And it’s buried; there’s several feet of dirt above it. And a crack appeared on the floor in the basement and then just dropped down about an inch-and-a-half. And the soil from outside was coming in from the outside and moisture and whatnot.
TOM: This crack is in the basement floor or the basement walls?
RANDY: The wall, in the corner.
TOM: OK. And you said that the crack is an inch-and-a-half wide or it’s an inch-and-a-half long?
RANDY: About an inch to an inch-and-a-half wide.
TOM: Wow, that’s a big crack.
RANDY: And about eight – yeah, about – well, the floor just dropped a little bit.
RANDY: And it’s about 8 inches on either side of the corner.
TOM: OK. So, the crack formed and the floor dropped. Is that correct? Both of those things happened?
TOM: Alright. So, obviously, something got very disturbed under there. I don’t know if it was settlement or whatever it was but it sounds like you lost some soil in there. As a result, you lost the support.
A crack that’s an inch-and-a-half wide is a very large crack. And typically, it’s something that we would recommend you have a professional inspect before you just repair it on your own. But with that as our general advice, what is your plan?
RANDY: Well, I thought that what I’d do is I’d put some BLACK JACK in the very back of it. I dug out as much soil as I could and cleaned it with a toothbrush or a wire brush.
TOM: Right. Well, that’s all – you’re talking about patching the crack; I’m talking about supporting it so it doesn’t get any worse. You can fill it five different ways. What I’m concerned about is making sure that this instability isn’t going to continue and get worse and affect the structural integrity of the wall. If you’ve got a crack that truly opened up an inch-and-a-half, that is a very big crack. Most of the time, people talk to us about hairline cracks or cracks that open a ¼-inch and are very concerned. If you’ve got a crack that’s opened up an inch-and-a-half, that’s a huge crack.
So here’s what I would do. I would have – I would consult with a structural engineer. Have them inspect your house, look at the foundation, look at the crack and then write you a report that gives you step-by-step instructions on what should be done to address this. Either you do the repair yourself or you have an engineer – a contractor – do it; it doesn’t matter to me.
But what’s most important is that you have the structural engineer come back after the repair is done and certify that it was done sufficiently. And the reason you’re going to do that is because eventually, you’re going to want to sell this house. And if you have this repair done under the supervision of an engineer like that, it’s sort of like a pedigree that says all is well. And it will alleviate any fears from a potential home buyer.
RANDY: I see. I see. That’s kind of like a cover-yourself kind of thing.
TOM: Absolutely. Yep. And you’re going to do it right and most importantly, since you had the crack form and the floor drop, I’m concerned about what’s going on underneath this. That’s a very unusual set of circumstances and it leads me to conclude that there’s some instability underneath that corner of the foundation.
RANDY: Alright. Well, I think I’ll just start nosing around for one.
LESLIE: Well, guys, now that it’s the warmer weather and we’re trying to open all those windows for some fresh air throughout the house, are you finding that those windows open and close easily? Well, if those windows are hard to open or close or maybe they just don’t stay open or they don’t lock, it could be a sign that the windows have been improperly installed or that they’re just worn and need to be replaced.
Now, another symptom could be excessive air leakage. So you want to try this. Have someone stand outside the window with a small flashlight. Stand inside and travel around the window’s perimeter. If the person outside sees light coming through that small crack around the window, this could be an indication that the unit has not been properly installed or caulked or sealed and it’s probably contributing to energy loss.
TOM: So, if that’s the case, you’ve got some decisions to make. Weather-stripping is an easy-to-add item and it can definitely solve the problem for now. However, it might also be a good time to consider replacement windows.
Now, replacement windows are different than new-construction windows. With replacement windows, you basically are replacing the operable portions of the old window. So, for example, if you’ve got old, double-hung windows with a wood sash at the bottom and a wood sash at the top, you remove those sashes and you leave sort of the sides of the window. And then the replacement window sits in between that. It’s all trimmed from the outside so it looks perfect.
But you don’t have to actually tear out siding to get that project done.
It’s an inexpensive – a far less expensive way, I should say – of getting new windows than one where you would have to actually remove the siding and then attach the windows to the exterior wall and then reseal, reflash and all of that. So it’s a great option, especially for those of us with older houses. So, think about it.
LESLIE: Jenny in North Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JENNY: Hi. I’m calling to see how we can permanently remove some lilac bushes.
TOM: You’re not a fan of lilacs, I guess, huh?
JENNY: Well, it’s not the idea of not being a fan; it’s just that they were planted too close to the house.
LESLIE: So why don’t you transplant them?
JENNY: Is that possible?
LESLIE: Absolutely. Jenny, if I could tell you the countless times, as a child, that my mom would – and even to this day, my mom, if seeing a beautiful, blooming lilac bush or tree in the cover of night would make one of myself or my sisters or herself hop out of a car and pick other people’s flowers. I’m like, “Tell me where you live. I’ll take it to give it to my mom.”
JENNY: Yeah. Don’t get me wrong. I love the aroma, I love the trees. They’re just right in – and they’re obscuring the sunlight that’s coming through the picture window and …
LESLIE: And that’s why they’re doing so well, because they love the sunlight. But you can absolutely transplant them. You just need to dig a diameter around the root ball and then dig under, just scoop it up and stick it somewhere else.
JENNY: Oh, OK. Yeah, I guess that would help.
LESLIE: Tammy posted her question to MoneyPit.com saying, “The former owners of our home enclosed a back porch to expand the kitchen. One of the walls has water damage and needs repair. What should I do to proceed?”
TOM: You know, I’m always concerned when people remodel a porch or a patio and basically turn it into living space. Because if it was living space from the beginning, it would be built a lot different, right? They’re usually not designed to become living space, unless they’re reinforced from the foundation up.
So the first step is to have an expert evaluate the porch structure, because there’s no sense spending money on walls if that structure is not properly supported. Next, if the foundation and framing are solid, then you can identify the source of the leak and fix it, remove any old roofing or wall covering as needed to do that. But you want to make sure that you’re not sort of throwing good money after bad, as the saying goes. Because if you spend money repairing a leak only to find that the foundation has failed, well, then you’ve got a much bigger issue to deal with pretty soon thereafter.
LESLIE: Alright, Tammy. I hope that helps you out. I understand you’ve got this new house and we want to keep it in tip-top shape, so let us know how else we can help.
TOM: Well, believe it or not, it might be time to dust off that pink flamingo. Things are looking a lot more fun in yards and gardens these days. And Leslie has got the latest surprise trend, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know what? It can be so much fun to create a garden at home that’s kind of whimsical and enchanting and delightful. Really, adding these little touches can create fun and sparkle wherever you find them. Now, an enchanted garden is an easy DIY project that delivers endless enjoyment for kids and adults alike. And this could be your route to having a lot of fun in the yard.
Now, an enchanted garden, I mean it’s kind of different from person to person and that’s where the fun begins. But here is kind of a couple of ideas to help you get started.
First of all, before you put anything in place, you need to choose a theme: the containers, the location. Maybe it’s a flowerpot; maybe it’s under a tree; maybe it’s a special, little area in your flower bed. Whatever it is, kind of think about what that area looks like and what kind of whimsy fairyland it could lend to. Perhaps you’ve got a little garden bed that’s full of ferns. That might be the perfect place for a tipped-over terracotta pot that’s got a little magical land inside.
So once you kind of get that, start to visualize what you want and keep your plans on track. If you can sketch something out, no matter how primitive that sketch is, works great, helps keep you organized.
And as you start to collect these items for your fairy garden, it’s smart to lay them out in place to get a kind of a feel for how the garden will take shape before you start adding the small details or start gluing things together. Because once you kind of glue things, that’s the way it’s going to stay.
Next, you want to consider the soil, the plants, the drainage. If you’re starting with fresh soil, make sure it’s a good garden mix that’s going to drain very well. You also want to make sure that it’s deep enough for any tiny plants that you’re adding into this little design. Before you add the soil, though, you want to place a few pebbles in the bottom of a container and help improve that drainage. A lot of plants work well in enchanted gardens but some of them are particularly well-suited. Think about ferns; succulents; tiny bonsai trees; those little, beautiful primroses. Lots of nice, tiny details that really make for the whimsy of that space.
Lastly, for a truly magical fairy garden, why not accessorize with glow-in-the-dark figures or tiny LED lights? You want to add sparkle and you want it to sparkle at night because that’s when those fairies come out. So get magical, everybody, and have a wonderful time creating this whimsical, little showpiece.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Here’s something that’s not magical but it’s absolutely something you can count on. It never fails: your A/C is going to go out on the hottest day of the year. We’re going to share the most common reasons that A/C units fail in the summer and what you can do to prevent that from happening to you, on the very next edition of The 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.
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