- Storm Preparation: Is your home prepared for storm season? Take some important steps to avoid damage and power failure when severe weather strikes.
- Painting Challenges: Some surfaces, such as vinyl siding and cast-iron tubs, can be hard to paint. We’ve got advice on refinishing difficult surfaces.
- Composting Tips: Fall is a great time to use all those grass clippings and leaves to start a compost pile. Find out what’s needed and how to do it.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Fire Pits: Is a homemade fire pit better than a metal version that may get rusty? Katherine is deciding between buying a metal fire pit that’s convenient and can last for several years or building a fire pit with bricks or pavers using DIY kits.
- Roofing: Should you remove existing roof shingles before installing a metal roof? Metal roofs are a great investment, but we’ve got advice for Craig about the advantages of removing the existing layers first.
- Tree Roots: Massive tree roots are making it hard to build a backyard deck. We have two suggestions for Nancy on how to design her deck or remove the roots.
- Spiders: Will can’t get rid of the daddy long-leg spiders in his garage. Tom has a few ideas on natural insecticides, cleaning out nests, and using traps to keep spiders away.
- Jacuzzi Bathtub: What can be done with a jacuzzi bathtub that has mold in the pipes and a fading finish? Robin learns some simple DIY solutions to clean out the plumbing and jets, but reglazing the tub won’t be that easy.
- Insulation: How effective are radiant barriers in deflecting heat? We discuss insulation and ridge venting tips with Steve to help him save energy.
- Heated Flooring: Donna is looking for the best heated flooring for her home. We have helpful info about the conveniences of radiant floor heating systems.
- Exhaust Fans: What causes mold around a bathroom exhaust fan? Eric finds out how to prevent this common problem with better ways to control moisture and humidity in the room.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And what are you working on this beautiful weekend? We are here to help you get projects done in and outside of your house. Whether it’s a kitchen, a bathroom, a repair, you’ve got a floor squeak or a toilet leak, whatever’s going on, you could reach out to us and we will help you get those projects done or plan some projects for the future. Our number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or best yet, you can go to MoneyPit.com, click the blue microphone button and record your own question for us to answer.
Coming up on today’s show, the forecasters at the National Weather Service are predicting above-average hurricane activity this year, which – check this out – it makes it the 7th year in a row with an above-average hurricane season. That’s crazy. They just keep getting worse and worse. So we’re going to share some tips on how you can prepare for this rough weather ahead, including the best way to make sure you never lose power.
LESLIE: Alright. And when it comes to decorating, paint is really a remarkable material. It’s cheap, anybody can do it and it completely transforms whatever you apply it to. But what if you just can’t get that paint to stick? We’re going to give you some tips on how to handle the toughest surfaces to paint.
TOM: And fall may not seem like the best time to start a gardening project. But with a never-ending supply of leaves and yard clippings on hand, it’s actually the perfect time to start a compost pile. We’ll tell you the easy way to get that going.
LESLIE: But first, The Money Pit is about helping you create your best home ever. So whether you live in a house or an apartment, dealing with a repair or dreaming about a renovation, we’re going to help you tackle your to-dos with confidence and have a little fun along the way.
TOM: And we’ve got a great giveaway today – one of our best of the year – courtesy of our friends at Trex. And you know, the Trex guys have just launched the new Trex Transcend Deck Kit, which I have just completed building on my own. So I love it. And they’ve given us a $500 gift card to Lowe’s to help you get started with that project and more. You can win that by reaching out to us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or by posting your question at MoneyPit.com.
If you want to win it, you’ve got to be in it. So reach out to us with your questions at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions by clicking the blue microphone button at MoneyPit.com. That Trex $500 Lowe’s gift card going out to one listener, drawn at random, who reaches us with their home improvement question. So, why not make it you?
Let’s get started. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: We’ve got Catherine in Delaware on the line who’s got a question about a fire pit.
How can we help you today?
CATHERINE: Well, I’d love to have a homemade fire pit in my backyard and I don’t want to buy a metal one. That’ll only get rusty, right?
TOM: Yeah, they do but they last a heck of a long time. I did not want to put a built-in fire pit in my backyard because I didn’t want to have to deal with it in the off-seasons. It would be hard to shovel around and that sort of stuff when the snow hits. So I actually, personally, have been using a metal fire pit for many years. And I find that they last, gosh, 5 to 8 years before they start to show any wear and tear. So I’m not afraid to use a metal fire pit but I can tell you that if you want to do a brick fire pit or a paver-brick fire pit, there’s lots of options right out there.
One company that makes a kit for it is RumbleStone. It’s the Pavestone Company. And these RumbleStone pavers, they’ll sell you basically all the bricks that you need. The RumbleStone are sort of like a roughed, beautiful, colored stone that you assemble into a circle pattern. And then the way they design it, there’s a metal sort of liner that drops right into the stone and that’s where you build your fire.
So you can do it yourself but you could also purchase a fire pit. It depends on what look you are going for and how long you want it to last.
Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
CATHERINE: Thank you. I will. Bye-bye.
LESLIE: Alright. It’s time to talk roofing with Craig in Wisconsin.
What is going on there?
CRAIG: There are two layers of shingles. When the second layer was put on, they put – they cut off the tabs and then put the second layer on. I’m considering a steel roof. Some people tell me that it’s too much weight to put on the roof without taking the old shingles off. And that’s basically what I’m talking about.
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what, even if you had a single layer of shingles, I’d tell you to take it off. If you were going to invest in a metal roof, which is a good investment – as a lifetime roof, you’ll never have to replace your roof again.
Why put it over that old asphalt? First of all, it’s not going to lay very flat. And secondly, if you’ve got, what, probably an inch thick worth of asphalt roof there, that’s going to act as a huge heat sink. As that metal roof heats up, it’s going to transfer that heat to the asphalt. That’s going to hold that heat and radiate it down to the house, which means you’re going to have to pay for it by way of more air conditioning. So my recommendation is to completely take both roofs off, get down to the sheathing, make any needed repairs and then go up from there.
LESLIE: Well, we’ve got Nancy in Arkansas on the line who’s working on a deck project but keeps running into some pesky tree roots.
What is going on in your yard?
NANCY: We want to build a deck at the back of our house but we have massive tree root. And we’ve cut down the tree that caused the problem. But we’re having trouble getting rid of the – they’re so thick that we can’t figure out a way to get a deck over them.
TOM: Well, Nancy, you absolutely need to make room for the foundation for this deck. A couple of things come to mind. Number one, you may be able to design it in such a way as you requiring fewer – I don’t know how you’re going to support this. But let’s say, for example, you’re going to drop piers or Sonotubes in the ground and then fill it with concrete. If you have a sturdier beam, you could – you would need fewer points of contact. Hence, fewer places where you have to battle those roots.
The other thing that you might think about doing is having a tree company come in with a stump grinder. They can usually get about 3 feet into the soil. And see if it’s possible to chop up some of those roots that are right below the soil there so that you can get to the opportunity to dig it out and fit a concrete form in there.
As a long as you can get that down about 3 feet, that’s probably all you’re going to need. But there’s no easy way to do this; you’re just going to have to battle it out. I think a stump grinder is a good way to start. That will loosen up as much as possible. And then from that point forward it’s just going to be hard work for you to chop down and get those out.
So I wish I had an easier solution for you but yeah, that’s really – it really comes down to that. You’ve just got to get rid of it. It’s wood. You can break it up, you can cut it. It just takes work.
Well, welcome to the first weekend of fall. Time to get outside and get those projects done that maybe you were putting off all summer because it was too hot, like building a deck.
Speaking of which, we’ve got an amazing giveaway today, courtesy of Trex, who just launched the new Trex Transcend Deck Kit at Lowe’s.
LESLIE: That’s right. And Trex has provided us a $500 gift card to Lowe’s to help you get started with that project.
Now, the Trex Transcend Deck Kit includes all of the materials that you need to build a 12-foot by 16-foot deck with Trex’s top of the line Transcend decking. You’re going to get the decking, the Trex Fascia and the Trex Hideaway Hidden Fasteners, which are amazing because it really makes it look like nothing is holding it together. It’s magically seamless and gorgeous.
The products from Trex are available exclusively at Lowe’s and Lowes.com. And one $500 Lowe’s gift card is going out to one very, very lucky listener. You don’t get Tom to help you build it. But I’m telling you, it’s a great, great project and a beautiful decking material.
TOM: So reach out to us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to MoneyPit.com and click on the blue microphone button to record your question.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading down to Florida where Will is dealing with some unexpected visitors: Daddy longlegs spiders.
How can we help you?
WILL: It’s hot in the garage and there’s a lot of Daddy longlegs. I’ve tried spraying a couple of different things inside the garage and they seem to keep coming back. And I don’t know how to get rid of them.
TOM: OK. Well, I mean I can give you a recipe for a sort of a natural way to deter them. And that is if you take a cup of white vinegar and a 1/3-cup of vanilla extract – if put them in a spray bottle and you shake it and spray the areas where the Daddy longlegs have been spotted indoors and out, that smell, that combination of the vinegar and vanilla is really offensive to them. And it will repel the insects without you having to add any additional toxins to your environment.
The other thing to do is sort of basic cleaning in the sense that when you see the spiders and the nest, make sure you’re vacuuming them up. That’s the easiest way to get rid of them and to keep that space as dry as you can.
And then, finally, you could use sticky traps, as well. Sticky traps, if you lay them where you start to see them collect, they will get stuck to them and they won’t go any further.
So there are a few ways for you to deal with it. Does that help?
WILL: Oh, yeah. That sounds great.
LESLIE: Well, the experts at the National Weather Service are forecasting as many as 21 named storms, including up to 6 major hurricanes this storm season. Now, that is a lot. And that’s really why now is the best time to make sure that you and your home are storm-ready. We’ve got a few tips that’ll help, in today’s Tip of the Day presented by Kohler Residential Standby Generators.
TOM: So, first up, you want to create an emergency prep kit with non-perishable food, water and any needed medications. And then fill your emergency pantry with bottled water and also again, non-perishable food. Put that together with a go-bag so you can grab it quickly in the event you have to evacuate.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, you want to go around your yard. You’re surveying for any weak tree branches that might come crashing down onto your home in the event of a storm. And trim all those branches away before that hurricane arrives.
Also, you can avoid uprooting any larger trees by strategically removing branches. Because that’s going to allow all those high winds to kind of flow through the tree. If it’s very heavily branchy, it might kind of get tied up with the wind and come on down.
TOM: Now, speaking of things that fly around in storms, you need to protect yourself from flying debris. Every item that’s left outside your house during a hurricane can become a dangerous projectile when it’s fueled by those high winds. So, make sure you remove all outside furniture, garbage cans, toys, flowerpots, really any other piece of personal property that you can move.
And if you live along the coast, make sure you’ve got some homemade plywood or professionally-built storm shutters. That’s really a must to cover the windows and the doors when storms are coming your way.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, here’s a great idea. Tom and I both have this. You can invest in a Kohler Standby Generator. We’ve both got it in our homes and our studios. We’ve got these Kohler generators.
And the best part is that it will provide automatic backup power within 10 seconds of the power going out. So, the power goes out, the automatic transfer switch kicks on and then everything on those circuits comes right back on, just as it was before that outage. It’s really great because it’s connected directly to your home’s electrical system. It runs on natural gas or liquid propane. No extension cords to run, no manual refueling of gasoline. Just reliable backup power that’s going to keep your home and your family safe and comfortable. I mean it has been life-changing for us, so it’s definitely an investment worth making.
TOM: And it’s not just for storms, either. The power went out here. It’s been a beautiful week worth of weather here and the power went out yesterday. Now, I wasn’t doing the show, of course but I was working on my computer, my wife was in her home office. Power went out in the beautiful, sunny day. And my wife’s like, “What happened? Where’s that power? Everything’s dark.” And I said, “Wait for it. Wait for it.” And then, all of a sudden, 10 seconds later you hear, “Mmm,” and the generator kicked right on. Whole house lit up like nothing ever happened. So it’s really a great system to have.
LESLIE: It’s amazing.
TOM: Automatically reliable. And because it runs on natural gas, you don’t have to schlep out to the gas station to get any gasoline and run electric cords and all that kind of stuff.
Well, that wraps up today’s Tip of the Day presented by Kohler Residential Standby Generators. Kohler generators are sold via authorized Kohler dealers. Request your free quote at PoweredByKohler.com. That’s PoweredByKohler – K-o-h-l-e-r – .com. Kohler, the power to live boldly.
LESLIE: Robin in Missouri is looking to relax but that’s not happening with mold in the Jacuzzi.
What’s going on?
ROBIN: We have this large bathtub Jacuzzi and it has a marble stair and trim around it. And it’s a beautiful Jacuzzi but I noticed that the pipes there was like – I don’t know if it’s mold coming out of that or what. When we got the house it sat for a while. And then we filled it up and put Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid in it, you know, and tried to clean it out and so on.
TOM: I bet you it got very sudsy when you did that.
ROBIN: That’s what they said to do. And anyway, we also got it glazed or painted, as they usually say and it kind of faded off. And we had the fixtures painted, too, and we thought the people that were doing it were really reputable. But now, the fixtures – you know where the jets are? The rings around the jets and so on?
ROBIN: The paint’s kind of fading and …
TOM: Alright. So it sounds to me like we’re talking about two issues here. Number one, you have some sort of growth that’s been inside the internal plumbing system of this jetted tub. And secondly, the finish has faded and you had it restored some time ago. And the finish is starting to fade and chip and so on.
So, let’s tackle the second one first. It’s very, very hard to refinish a plumbing fixture, I can tell you that right now. There is a way to do it. It’s extremely caustic. I don’t even know if you can do it to a jetted tub, which is usually a fiberglass-type material. It’s very hard to do when it’s cast-iron tubs and sinks that folks love to restore, which is a very, very caustic process. And then the products that they sell, that you can sort of paint over them, don’t have nearly the life expectancy that you would hope for.
In terms of whatever may be going on in the internal plumbing system, what I have often advised over the years is to use a bleach solution. So, if you were to fill that tub up and run – if you had a big tub and you run a ½-gallon or a gallon of bleach through those jets, that’s going to help to sanitize anything that’s growing in there.
So if it was my tub, I’d probably fill it up with hot water, throw in some bleach and let the thing run for a while. I wouldn’t put anything sudsy in there, because there’s a reason that dishwasher detergent, for example, doesn’t suds up. It’s designed not to do that. But if you put dishwasher – if you put dish soap in there, it’s going to suds up like crazy. But I think all you really need is hot water and some bleach to sanitize it and that might do a pretty good job of cleaning it.
And I know that the jetted-tub industry has other special products that they sell for the very same reason. But I think it’s important to do that because you don’t want anything growing in the internal plumbing and then potentially making someone react of having an allergic reaction or making them sick or something. So I would definitely want to clean that out.
So, I know that’s not the answer you want to hear about the painted surface but it is certainly the way to sanitize the internal plumbing system of it.
ROBIN: OK. Yeah, that’s why I never use that tub. I just don’t use it.
TOM: You didn’t have a good feeling for the right reasons.
TOM: So, why don’t you give it a shot, though? And see if we can clean this thing out and let it – and we start to see that it’s really – it’s consistently shooting out some clean water. Maybe you’d feel better about dropping into it now and again, OK?
ROBIN: What about the jet fixtures on it and the tub itself? How do I get that glaze-type finish off of it?
TOM: Well, if you’re talking about the plumbing fixtures, like the faucet – like the spout and that sort of thing, those you would simply have to replace. If you’re talking about the body of the tub and you’ve already refinished it once, there’s not going to be much you can do about that. It’s just going to be the wear and tear of that particular appliance from now on out.
ROBIN: OK. So I’ll probably just replace it. (inaudible)
TOM: Yeah, well, that would solve everything, wouldn’t it?
ROBIN: Yeah, OK. Well, thank you very much.
TOM: Alright. You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading to California. We’ve got Steve on the line who’s got a question about insulation.
Tell us what’s going on.
STEVE: Yes. Recently, I’d heard of a new type of insulation. Supposedly, it’s supposed to be used on the space shuttles and – to protect people. It’s a reflective metal? And they talk about …
TOM: I think you’re talking about radiant barrier. Is that right?
STEVE: Is that what it is? I guess so.
TOM: Yeah. Yeah. It’s not only a type of insulation, it’s designed to reflect some of the UV rays of the sun back out, reflect the heat off of the insulation, try to keep it off the insulation and keep it up towards the top of the roof. My concern with radiant barrier is it overheats the shingles and shortens the roof life.
There’s a lot better ways to save energy than radiant barrier, starting with making sure that you have the right levels of insulation in your attic space and secondly, making sure that you have the right amount of ventilation venting that attic space. So, today, you want to have 15 to 20 inches of insulation if you use fiberglass in the attic. And you need to have a fully-vented ridge vent that goes down the peak of the roof and fully-open soffit vents. And those two things, working together, are going to make sure you have energy savings all year round.
But there’s no miracle fix here. There’s no new space discovery with this stuff. It’s been around as long as I’ve been on the radio and that’s a long time.
STEVE: Oh, OK.
TOM: Yeah. So if you have fiberglass, you can add additional batts on top of what you have. You can add additional unfaced insulation laying on top of what you have. Just make sure you don’t put storage on top, because you don’t want to squish it; you want it to be fluffy. And then make sure you have a fully-open ridge vent and soffit vents at the overhang, OK?
STEVE: Because obviously, I knew I needed soffit – a big gable vent or something like that.
TOM: A ridge vent is much better than a gable vent. It’s more efficient, because the ridge is always in an area of depressurization. In other winds, as wind blows over your ridge at the peak of the roof, it wants to draw air out of the attic. And as wind blows against the side of the house, it pushes air in the soffits. So the air goes in the soffit, underneath the roof sheathing, taking away heat in the summer and moisture in the winter and then exits at the ridge. And that cycle just repeats itself, 24/7, 365 days a year.
STEVE: Well, thank you. Yeah, I’ve put in ridge vents, so I just have to go up there on the ridge, take off the top shingle, lay – cut back the plywood a little bit.
TOM: That’s right. Just cut – yeah, cut the slot in and drop a new vent right on top of it.
STEVE: Well, thank you very much for clearing that up with me. I probably saved myself a lot of money.
TOM: Happy to help, Steve.
LESLIE: Well, when it comes to decorating, paint is a really remarkable material. It’s cheap, anybody can use it and it completely transforms whatever you apply it to. But sometimes, you just can’t get that darn paint to stick. So, we’ve got some tips on how to handle the most notoriously-difficult surfaces to paint, starting with vinyl siding. It’s supposed to be maintenance-free but older vinyl siding fades and painting it is a heck of a lot cheaper than replacing that siding.
TOM: So, the trick here is getting it to stick. And the key is the type of paint and the color of the paint. So, paint for vinyl siding needs to contain acrylic and urethane resins. And it’s got to be rated for exterior use.
Now, remember, vinyl siding expands and contracts a lot. And the combination of the acrylic and urethane resins basically provide good color and they allow that paint to adhere to the vinyl. So if you’re not sure if the paint contains that, you can look up the specifications at the paint manufacturer’s site.
Now, in terms of color, it’s really important to use light colors. If you go for darker colors, like brown or deep red or hunter green, that siding will warp and that paint will bubble and peel. So make sure you’re picking a color that is the same or lighter than the current colors. Those dark colors just don’t work out too well.
And lastly, it’s really best to apply the paint using a spray gun. You want to apply two thinner coats. And that’ll give you a whole new look to that siding to enjoy.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’re going to talk about another hard surface to finish. And that’s cast-iron tubs.
Now, there’s two options here, really. If you hire a pro, that refinished surface is going to last longer. But the process is very caustic and does require some dangerous chemicals. Now, that pro tub refinisher is going to use an acid cleaner and then an acid etch to dig into that old finish to really get that surface ready to accept that primer coat, which is the third step. Then they go ahead and apply a topcoat, which is a combination of paint and polyurethane.
Now, when it dries, it gives that tub a really great-looking shine. And it does look like that porcelain enamel that was on it originally. But remember, it’s a process. It’s smelly. It takes a few days. So it definitely is a whole thing you’re getting into there.
TOM: Now, the other option is to use a tub-refinishing kit. Now, this requires basic preparation and the application of a two-part epoxy finish. Now, it’s not going to last as long but it still delivers a pretty strong and durable surface that’s going to give you, I’d say, a good 5 or more years before it would need to be applied again.
LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got a call from up north in Maine. We’ve got Dawn on the line dealing with cold floors.
What’s going on?
DAWN: I’m wondering, what is the best heated flooring for mobile homes?
TOM: So, with a mobile home, you really can’t do much to change your current heating system. But what you can do is add a radiant heating system under that floor.
So, radiant systems are essentially sort of an electrified mat that warms up. And it’s installed under your flooring system. So, for example, if you had a laminate floor, you would put the radiant heat underneath that floor. And the other thing is that it’s also modular in the sense that if it’s really just the bathroom that you’re concerned about, you could just do it there. If it’s in the bedroom, you could do it there, the kitchen and so on. Or you could do the entire floor.
Now, you can also run this off of a traditional thermostat. You could run it on one that has a timer, so it only warms, say, to heat the floors on a chilly morning, for example. And you can basically put in a part of the system now and then expand it over time.
I would recommend you take a look at SunTouch Radiant Floor Heating. SunTouch. There’s also a post on MoneyPit.com that talks about this topic and the SunTouch products. So you can Google that “SunTouch MoneyPit.com” and you’ll find that post, as well.
And I think this is really the direction you need to take. Because, as I said earlier, you can’t really change the heating system for the home now. It would be way too much work. And you really can’t tear up all those floors and insulate under them and do that sort of thing. But this way, if you just bring up the finished floor, you can lay the radiant underneath that. And you will be quite warm in those spaces.
Well, we’ve got an amazing giveaway today, courtesy of Trex who just launched the new Trex Transcend Deck Kit at Lowe’s. And I actually just used this deck-kit product to build my own deck. And it was fantastic.
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. It really came out beautifully. And this is amazing because we want you to have a beautiful deck, as well. So one lucky Money Pit listener is going to get, from Trex – they’ve given us a $500 gift card to Lowe’s to help you get started with that project.
Now, the Trex Transcend Decking Kit really is a beautiful product. The Trex decking, it’s composite, it has a beautiful grain pattern, beautiful colors that really feel like a natural surface. And it is available exclusively at Lowe’s and Lowe’s.com.
Now, this $500 gift card to Lowe’s is going out to one super-duper lucky listener who’s going to reach out to us with their home improvement questions. And yes, you’ve got to ask us a question. Come on, every time you call in you’re going to clam up and not remember what you’re working on but you know you want the prize? Well, let us help you get those projects done so you can get an amazing prize.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or head on over to MoneyPit.com, click on the blue microphone button – it’s on every page – and record your question.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got a pro on the line. Eric is a contractor dealing with something going on with a fan.
Tell us about this, what you’re seeing.
ERIC: I’m a mobile-home service technician. And here lately, I’ve been running into the problem of mold growing around a guest-bathroom exhaust fan. I’ve gone onto the roof, siliconed and tarred everything, made sure there’s no roof leaks. I was just wondering if it could possibly be the exhaust fan being too small or people are just not leaving it on long enough. If you have a couple of ideas, I’d appreciate it.
TOM: Well, Eric, mobile home or not, mold in a bathroom is a really common problem. And it’s almost always tied into the amount of moisture and humidity that sort of hangs on after you leave the bathroom, just creating the perfect environmental conditions for mold to grow.
So, couple of things I would suggest. First of all, with respect to those exhaust fans, is it too small? Maybe. It’s probably minimal. But while most of us will turn on the exhaust fan, hop in the shower and then, when we leave the bathroom, turn it off on the way out the door – but what you really need to do is let it run for a while until the bathroom is really properly dried out. Because otherwise, that humidity just hangs there and that’s what leads to so much mold growth.
So, you can change the switch from an on/off switch to one that has a timer into it or one that has a humidistat built into it, even better. Because that senses the level of humidity and that’s what tells it whether it should be on or off.
Also, of course, you’re on target there with making sure there’s no leaks. But I would also suggest that the next time this bathroom be painted, that you use a mildew- and moisture-resistant paint. Because typically, that’s labeled kitchen and bath from a very good-quality manufacturer, because that’s very important, as well.
And lastly, if you do spot any mold, make sure that you are spraying that with a bleach/water solution. Don’t just wipe it away, because you’re not getting rid of the spores. If it’s a small amount of mold, just wipe it down with a bleach-and-water solution. Take a bottle – an empty spray bottle – fill it up maybe 50/50 bleach and water so you can give it a couple of sprits, let it sit there for a little while and then wipe it away. Because otherwise, it’ll just continue to regrow.
Well, fall might not seem like the best time to start a gardening project. But with a never-ending supply of leaves and yard clippings on hand, it’s actually a really good time to start a compost pile.
So, to do that, you want to choose a spot that’s level. And it’s got to be about 5 feet square. It should be out of direct sunlight and should be away from roof drainage. Next, you want to clear any grass in that spot and kind of build your pile right on top.
LESLIE: Now, a compost pile is going to need a mix of browns and greens, which is shorthand for carbon and nitrogen-based plant material, to feed those microbes as they break down the scraps. Now, the browns can include leaves, twigs, wood chips, as well as shredded newsprint and cardboard. And the greens are going to be more like fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings and not so obviously, coffee grounds and eggshells. Then go ahead and layer the browns and the greens, in roughly equal amounts, into that pile.
TOM: You know, we use the Keurig machine. So I’m kind of in the habit now of cutting the paper off the Keurig and dropping the grounds in our little compost bowl, which is actually a Tupperware container on the kitchen counter. We just leave it there. And then when it gets filled, we bring it out to the compost pile and dump it.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s smart.
TOM: It’s a little habit. You just kind of get into it. And it makes a lot of sense.
Now, after you get going with this pile, you need to aerate it. So that means you need to sort of turn it – either with a shovel or if you’ve got a pitchfork – about once a week. So this way, you’re distributing the air and the moisture. And if you do this consistently, your compost is going to be ready when it’s dark and rich like soil and probably good to go for next year’s garden.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got a question here from Carol who writes: “I have a house that has a roof that’s 19 years old. And in the main bedroom and in one of the closets, there are a total of 3 water spots. I’ve had a couple contractors look at this but no one can find out what’s going on. And the only suggestion is to replace part of the roof. Given that a roof should last 25 to 30 years, what other options do I have?”
Now, I’m guessing this roof is her original one at 19 years. So she’s assuming that, right, I guess?
TOM: Yeah, it sounds that way.
If you don’t have a consistent, steady leak, it’s probably one that’s caused by wind drift and rain. Because that’s usually why you don’t see it all the time. If you had a real serious problem with your roof, then you would obviously have a leak that happened every single time.
So, therefore, I suspect that the issue is with flashing. So I would be looking above that roof for any place where it intersects with another piece of roof or where it intersects with siding, because that’s generally why this happens. I mean they’re just basically jumping to conclusions.
And of course, their solution is always, “Well, just get a new roof. Pay me a lot of money and I’ll replace it and your problem will go away.” But that is probably money you don’t need to spend right now. Because as you point out, the roof should last a lot longer. The condition of the shingle is not cracked, it’s not curled, it’s not dried up, it’s not broken off. You just have a couple of leaks to track down. Well, that’s something you ought to be able to fix easily without replacing that roof. They’re just not looking in the right places.
Another little way you can help them along, though, is you can wet that roof down with a garden hose. Very systematically start on one end and work to the other until you see the water come through. That can often help you also pinpoint where the breakdown is. At worst, you pull off some shingles in that area and make sure that any defects are repaired and put it back down. But you don’t have to replace the roof just because of what you’re describing.
I’ve got a roof leak in my house, come to think of it, that’s kind of like that. I know why it’s being – why it’s caused: it’s the intersection between the porch roof and the second-floor siding. But frankly, to fix it, I’ve got to pull a bunch of cedar siding off and I just wasn’t up to do that job. And it’s only happening on the rare occasions. Once every 2 or 3 years, when you get a driving rain from a certain direction, does it actually show up as a leak. And even at that, it’s not very much water at all.
So, what she’s describing is really pretty common.
LESLIE: Alright, Carol. That doesn’t seem too terrible. Good luck with that, keeping your house dry.
Alright. Next up, we’ve got Mike in Texas who writes about a smoke detector, saying, “They’re about 10 years old. They still work when I push the test button but do they need to be upgraded? Is there newer or better technology?”
That’s a good question.
TOM: Well, certainly there is newer and better technology. And by the way, a lot of folks don’t realize this but detectors wear out. Now, it’s not like your toaster: when it stops working, it’s worn out. No, no. Detectors wear out because they’re always sampling the air. It’s not just working when it detects a fire or smoke; it’s sampling the air. So I – if I had a detector that was more than 5 years old, I would replace it unless it’s a new one that’s specifically rated for 10 years. But for the most part, any old detector that’s more than 5 years, you ought to remove that and replace it.
And today, in terms of the advanced technology – so, you can get detectors that basically will sense both smoke and fire. In other words, they’re going to sense the air and they’re going to look for the heat. Those dual detector technologies are really the best way to go because this way, you’re covered no matter what type of a fire you get.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, thanks for spending this beautiful fall weekend – yes, it is the first weekend of fall – with us. We hope that you are enjoying the cooler weather, that you have the opportunity to get some projects done on your house that you maybe have been putting off. And if you do and you need help, you can always reach us, 24/7, by clicking the blue microphone button at MoneyPit.com or calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
But for now, that’s all the time we have. 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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