TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’re so glad to be here with you today. And it’s our job to help you with home improvement projects that’s on your to-do list. Want to help slide those over to the done list. And the first thing that you need to do is help yourself, because this is a listener-participation program. We’d love to hear from you. Call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 24/7. No matter when you’re listening to this broadcast, we will answer those calls. And if we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are. Or you can always go to MoneyPit.com and post your question to the Community page.
Coming up on today’s show, when it comes to maintaining your home, painting is a project that pretty much is among the most basic of DIY tasks, right? It’s one that pretty much everybody thinks they can get done themselves. And they’re – a lot of you are more than happy to tackle it. But we know, because we get the calls, that it’s also a project that could go terribly wrong if you don’t take just three simple steps before you start. We’re going to share those tricks of the trade, just ahead.
LESLIE: Yeah. And those three simple steps aren’t, you know, making sure you’re happy with the color.
LESLIE: There’s other things outside of that you have got to take into mind.
Also ahead, guys, when you see the slightest crack in your home’s foundation, you might start to shiver and feel like, “Oh, something is terrible.” But not all cracks need to be so terrifying. We’re going to help you sort out the simple from the serious.
TOM: And do you love the look of hardwood floors but feel like the price of adding hardwood to your house is way outside your budget? Well, there’s actually now a budget-friendly option that can give you the very same look of hardwood but for under – you ready for this? – three bucks a foot. We’re going to share those details, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Plus, we have got an amazing sweepstakes going on right now. Tom and I both have these fantastic mattresses in our home that, truly, I did not understand a good night’s sleep until I had one. Tuft & Needle, they make super-comfortable mattresses, pillows and sheets. And we have The Money Pit’s Good Night’s Sleep Sweepstakes going on, right now, at MoneyPit.com with over $4,000 in prizes.
TOM: But first, let’s get to what you want to talk about. Give us a call right now. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lisa in Michigan is on the line dealing with a humid bath. What’s going on?
LISA: I have an energy-efficient house that was built very tight. And they put in an exhaust fan in the bathroom to allow ventilation for the whole house. But I don’t know if it’s doing a correct job. And I’ve read some places where they say to leave it running all the time.
TOM: So the timer that’s in the bathroom-exhaust fan – first of all, that would be a very weird place to put whole-house ventilation, by the way. That exhaust fan is probably just for your bathroom, to take the moisture out of the bathroom. That would be more normal.
Why do you think it’s for the whole house?
LISA: It’s not a whole house. They use it for ventilation because the house is so tight.
TOM: Well, it’s taking air out?
TOM: Well, if the house is really tight, the ventilation would be where we add air back in, not where we take air out. We take air out, that’s usually because we have damp, moist air we want to get rid of.
I’m pretty sure that what you’re seeing in your bathroom is not for the entire house; I think it is just for a typical bathroom-exhaust fan. And the timer on it is one that would – if it’s set normally, it would be set for humidity; it might have a humidistat on it. So I don’t think what you’re seeing is for whole-house ventilation. There would be a different type of fan that would be used for that.
Is this in the bath ceiling?
TOM: Yeah. It’s not for the whole house.
LISA: But that’s what I’ve read that that’s what they’re doing on some of these houses.
TOM: It might be just bad information that’s getting passed around. That wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever.
TOM: Alright? So …
LISA: So do I need to have some type of air exchange for a house that is …?
TOM: Well, that’s an architectural question and it depends on how tight the house is and what the air changes per hour were designed to be. If it’s any less than about three-quarters of an air change per hour, then you probably do need to have some replacement air ventilation in it. But I would ask your builder or your HVAC contractor that question and then they can discuss the options for that.
The trick is that you want to be able – if you’re going to bring in fresh air, you want to do it through something called an “air-to-air heat exchanger” so that if it’s – you’re exhausting stale air but you’re recovering the BTUs that were used to heat that air. So you’re not getting rid of that heat. It’s kind of like a radiator where it’s passing it from bad air to the good air on the way in, so you’re sort of preheating that air that’s coming in from the outside using the heat that was in the stale air. That’s why it’s called an “air-to-air heat exchanger,” because it exchanges the air but it traps the heat or the cool, OK?
So good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Johnny in North Carolina is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?
JOHNNY: Bringing in foam insulation. It’s being suggested for me for a project I’ve got in my second floor, about 2,000-square-foot area. And what I’m reading online, at least, is that there should be some type of ventilation. And what I’m being told is that there is no plan to put that in. And so, from what I saw at least, if you don’t have that – and I even called one of the shingle manufacturers and they said it’s just going to – their tech support said it would trap heat. It’s going to fry the shingles. It will create humidity buildup. And depending if it’s open or closed cell, it could even create some issues with mold or whatnot up there. And really, it’s just going to have an effect on the life of the shingle.
I just wanted to get you all’s opinion on – hey, if they’re in a house that’s not new built but it’s existing, what’s your suggestion on to go with or not go with a spray-in foam insulation?
TOM: Well, my house was built in 1886, so it’s not a new house. And we have spray-foam insulation on all of the rafters in the unfinished attic and the end gable walls in the unfinished attic. We have no ventilation up there because with spray foam, you don’t have to ventilate.
See, the ventilation advice only applies to fiberglass or cellulose. That type of insulation has to be ventilated. Spray foam does not have to be ventilated. And in fact, it not only insulates but it also seals out drafts. So, I’m a big fan of spray foam. I saw it do wonders in my home, because we had a room in our house that was always colder in the winter and warmer in the summer. It’s a kitchen addition but I mean addition in the sense that the house was built in 1886, the kitchen was built 20 years later. So, it’s not like a new addition.
TOM: But it was always sort of extended from the house, so it didn’t insulate well. And we were able to insulate the ceiling across this whole space, with spray foam, and insulate all of the box beams, all of the – that’s the area where the floor joists get to the outside wall. So that sealed in a lot of drafts there and it really was transformative in terms of the comfort.
So, I wouldn’t use any other type of insulation, frankly. I think spray foam is great and I would not give it a second thought.
JOHNNY: Really. OK.
TOM: I think you’ll be very happy, especially in North Carolina. That’s going to really save you some money on your cooling bills, too.
JOHNNY: OK. Alright. Great. Well, hey, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.
TOM: Yeah. Good luck.
LESLIE: Whether you’re planning a décor project, remodeling your kitchen or bath or fixing a leak or a squeak, we are here for you every step of the way. Call in your question now to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
TOM: Coming up, when it comes to maintaining your home, painting is a project that’s among the most basic of DIY jobs. And it’s also one that most folks are happy to tackle themselves. But it’s a project that can go terribly wrong if you don’t take just three simple steps before you start. We’re going to share those steps today, in our Building with Confidence Tip presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, next.
Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What’s your home décor or how-to question? Call it in, right now, to 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.
So, Leslie, the last time I saw a mattress for sale in a store, I was kind of floored by it. Because we were actually in this furniture store buying a couch – you know, a pullout couch?
TOM: The mattresses that you had to pass by on the way to the couch section, I could not believe the prices: $10,000 – $10,000 – for a mattress.
LESLIE: I mean they’re …
TOM: It’s kind of crazy. Now, I sleep on a queen-size mattress that’s made by Tuft & Needle. And we bought that for about 575 bucks. So, these guys at Tuft & Needle are putting these mattress guys out of business for a very good reason, because the mattress is fantastic. And I mention that because we have got a bunch of Tuft & Needle product to give away in The Money Pit’s Good Night’s Sleep Sweepstakes.
LESLIE: That’s right. It’s going on, right now, at MoneyPit.com. Tuft & Needle really do make the most comfortable mattress on the internet. And we know because we each have them in our house. And I’m telling you, my five-year-old sleeps beautifully through the night. The mattresses are so comfy. Charlie’s bed is the place we all snuggle up in to read books and relax and inevitably end up falling asleep. It’s a great mattress.
TOM: Yep. And there are over $4,000 in prizes, including your choice of a Tuft & Needle mattress, plus pillows and sheets. So enter today at MoneyPit.com. And if you share the sweeps with friends, you can earn yourself some bonus entries.
LESLIE: Ann in Massachusetts is on the line with a question about a basement with a dirt floor. Tell us what’s going on.
ANN: I have just a dirt floor down in my basement. And it’s a smaller home: just two bedrooms, a kitchen. And I’m wondering, is that the only remedy for – to put – so I could use the basement, at least for some storage?
TOM: What’s your ceiling height down there, Ann?
ANN: It’s kind of open with the wood beams going across and …
TOM: Yeah. But if you were to – well, let me just put this to you this way: if you were to put 4 inches of concrete on that floor …
LESLIE: Could you still stand?
ANN: Yes. You could, in most of it.
ANN: There is one side, towards the back of the house, that you have to stoop down a little bit but …
TOM: Yeah. Because I think it’s a fine thing for you to do. And you’re going to want to make sure you put that down and make sure it’s reinforced so it doesn’t crack. And you may even be able to excavate out a little bit of that soil in the low area so that it’s – so you pick up more ceiling – more height so that you could stand up there.
But that’s a perfect solution for a basement that’s got a dirt floor – is to add a concrete slab to it. It doesn’t have to be very thick; 4 inches should be fine for something like that.
TOM: Just make sure you’re working with an experienced mason, that the soil they put it on has been tamped down and smoothed out properly. And believe it or not, that’s a project they could probably get done inside of a day.
ANN: Awesome. And the contractor I would look for is a mason? Like just a – correct?
TOM: Mason. That’s correct. Yeah. Yep, exactly. You can go to HomeAdvisor.com and put in your zip code and look for a mason that way.
TOM: And read some of the reviews and find somebody you’re happy with and then get it done.
ANN: OK. Thank you so much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, when it comes to maintaining your home, painting or even staining wood surfaces is really important to keeping your siding and trim in good shape. But while painting is a task that’s among the most basic of do-it-yourself projects, it’s also one where simple mistakes can lead to big heartache.
TOM: Yeah. And the key comes down to preparation. Weathered surfaces need to be cleaned and that loose paint removed before you even think about opening that can of paint. And if not, what will happen is that the new paint simply won’t stick and your efforts will be wasted.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now that you’ve got your surface prepped – you got rid of all that worn-away paint – your next thing is to apply a coat of primer. You’ve got to use primer, guys. The primer is formulated differently than paint that’s meant to be the finish topcoat. It’s got better adhesion, so it’s going to stick to those old surfaces much better than a topcoat would. And then it prevents that new paint from peeling.
TOM: And here’s something that most folks don’t think about: for the best finished look, you need to choose the right kind of paintbrush. Natural-bristle brushes, those are best for applying oil-based paints. But for latex, synthetic-bristle brushes do give you the best results and they help maintain the value of your home.
LESLIE: And remember, clean your brushes. They’re not meant to just throw away. Clean them, care for them and use them over and over again.
And today’s Building with Confidence Tip has been brought to you by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. It’s completely online, reduces annoying and time-consuming paperwork and gives you a real accurate and personalized mortgage solution based on your unique financial situation, with no hidden fees or hassles.
TOM: Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. Apply simply, understand fully and mortgage confidently.[radio_anchor listorder=”3″]LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Sal in Georgia on the line with a water heater that doesn’t want to deliver hot and cold when he needs it.
What’s going on, Sal?
SAL: Hey, my situation here is I installed a Whirlpool hot-water heater.
SAL: I’ve got plenty of hot water but it doesn’t maintain the temperature all the way through. I have turned it up from 120 to – which was factory-set – to 140 so I could get a little more hot water. But it still doesn’t maintain the temperature. I have to continuously, every four minutes or so, turn it over – turn the hot water up just a little bit.
TOM: Is this electric water heater?
SAL: Yes, sir.
TOM: OK. Are you running out of hot water quickly, Sal?
SAL: No, I’ve got plenty of hot water. I can take a 15-, 20-minute shower without running out of hot water. It just won’t maintain the temperature.
TOM: So, when you say it won’t maintain the temperature, will it not maintain the temperature while you’re taking the shower? Is that when you get sort of the hot and the cold?
SAL: Correct. Correct. Yeah, yeah. It just – it keeps going cold on me where I’ve got to keep turning the hot up just a little bit.
TOM: It may not necessarily be the water heater. Because what happens is if there’s water being consumed anywhere else in the house while this is happening, you may end up with an imbalance in the mix between hot and cold. And there’s a simple solution to that and it’s called a “pressure-balance valve.”
And basically, you replace your shower valve with a pressure-balance valve and what that does is actually maintains the mix between hot and cold, regardless of what the pressure is in either line. Does that make sense?
SAL: Yeah, it does. But it’s just me and the wife at the house. So when I’m showering, she’s not using the hot water, so that’s the only thing – it doesn’t make sense to me, either, because it just – it seems like it would maintain it. I replaced the original water heater that was in the house – which was an old, beat-up water heater – but it maintained the temperature. It did run out of hot water a lot quicker.
TOM: Do you notice this in any – at any other fixture but the shower?
SAL: I have not noticed, no. The shower is the only one that would really be noticeable. But no, I haven’t noticed.
TOM: Something like – for example, if you had a very slow leak in your toilet and it was filling up, like ghost-flushing and you may not even notice that this is happening, that can spill some water. If you’re running a dishwasher, if you’re running a washing machine, anything could be going on in the house that could be pulling water. Or even at the street, there could be an imbalance in pressure at the street that could be causing this.
But the condition that you’re describing is very common. Commonly associated with an imbalance of pressure. So I would start there, Sal. I would start there. And if that doesn’t solve it, then we can talk further, OK?
SAL: Alright. Sounds great. I thank you for your time.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mary in Massachusetts is on the line with an appliance that’s acting up.
What’s going on, Mary?
MARY: The bottom fills up with water and I mean probably an inch or two. But say we run the dishwasher at night. Like I got up this morning at seven, there wasn’t anything on the bottom of the dishwasher. And about an hour later, it was filled. And it’s been doing that. And we don’t understand what’s going on. We’ve had the hoses checked, make sure they’re not bent or anything or – but we can’t figure it out.
TOM: OK. So, have you cleaned out the bottom of the dishwasher? Sometimes, the drain gets clogged. That’s the easy fix right there.
MARY: Oh, yeah. We’ve done that.
TOM: So you have no food particles there?
TOM: So there must be an obstruction somewhere that’s causing it. There’s an obstruction somewhere in the line that’s causing the water – the plumbing in that part of the house to back up and it’s just evidencing itself in the dishwasher.
Have you checked the connection to your garbage disposal?
MARY: Well, I don’t have a garbage disposal.
TOM: You don’t? So it drains where? Does it drain into the trap under the sink or where does it drain?
MARY: Right. Into the trap under the sink.
TOM: Yeah, I think you’re backing some water up there. It’s going back up the hose and into the dishwasher.
MARY: Alright. Then I’m going to have somebody come over. We did have someone come over. I don’t think he’s – he honestly couldn’t figure it out. He checked the hoses and made sure they weren’t bent or anything. And he stayed for a while and yeah – and it happened again. The water started coming in after he ran it.
TOM: So, if you’re running it and it’s not draining, then there’s a different set of causes for that. It’s either a drain pump or the drain impeller or there’s a solenoid kit that has to do with removing the water. But if you’re telling me this water is showing up when you’re not running the dishwasher, then I think it must be backing up through the plumbing system. OK, Mary? So I think that’s a good approach.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, the sight of a crack in your home’s foundation may send a shiver of fear up your spine but not all cracks need to be so terrifying. We’re going to help you sort the simple from the serious. Tom Silva is stopping by from This Old House to explain.
TOM: And today’s episode of This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.
We’ll be back with that tip and more, after this.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And Leslie, as it’s warming up now just a tad, right, I think folks are thinking ahead to spring, right?
TOM: We can’t wait to get outside and do some projects or just throw open the windows in our house. And if that’s going on in your head right now, you’re trying to figure out what you want to do and how you’re going to do it and how you’re going to pay for it and whether you should do this first and that second and so on – so if that’s what you’re thinking about, we’d love to help you sort that out. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are. Or you could post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.[radio_anchor listorder=”2″]LESLIE: Louis, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
LOUIS: I have a question regarding a sump pump – drainage water. The previous owner has it routed to the sewer line going to the bathroom in the basement. That’s where the sump pump is, also. And I was wondering, should I reroute that to the outside of the house or should it – is it OK where it is?
TOM: Well, you’re technically not supposed to connect a sump pump to a sewer line. You’re correct in that it’s supposed to go outside the house. Part of the issue is that if you don’t have a check valve, for sure, if you have any backup in the sewer, it can come right straight back up into the sump pump and that’s not going to be a pleasant situation.
So, it would be preferable that it drain outside and at least 4 to 6 feet away from your foundation of your home so it doesn’t drop water back against the foundation wall.
LOUIS: OK, then. Well, I did put a check valve in the – I put a heavy-duty sump pump in it and it requires you to put a check valve in it, which I did. But they put a flex hose from there to the sewer line into the wall and I’m not comfortable with that. And I didn’t think it should go there but thanks for (inaudible). I’ll take care of that.
TOM: Yeah. And you are correct. So make sure you repair the sewer line when you pull that hose out, OK?
LOUIS: I will do that. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, the sight of a crack in your home’s foundation might send a shiver of fear up your spine but not all cracks need to be so terrifying.
TOM: Well, that’s right. The size, the length and even the direction of the crack can give you clues to why it’s happened and just how worried you ought to be about it.
Here to help us sort out the simple from the serious is Tom Silva, the general contractor for TV’s This Old House.
TOM SILVA: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.
TOM: Well, it’s good to have you, too. Now, what actually causes cracks in foundations and how do you tell if they’re serious or not?
TOM SILVA: Well, a foundation that’s concrete, it could be concrete block – but cracks occur because of moving. Something’s moving, expansion and contraction, heat, cold. Everything’s going to expand and everything’s going to shrink. It’s basically the nature of the beast.
TOM: It’s almost unnatural to not have a crack. I mean virtually all foundations have some level of cracks and …
TOM SILVA: Hairline cracks or whatever. What you want to start looking for is anything major, like a diagonal crack that may go across the window, door, at the top of the corner. That could just simply be a weak link in that foundation and it’s usually not a big deal. You can repair it with epoxies or even some hydraulic cement. It still may come back eventually, over time, but it can be fixed.
TOM: And that’s interesting, too, because that is where the cracks show up, because that is technically the weakest part of the wall. It’s not that the movement is around the window; it’s just that that happens to be where the foundation has enough give to actually break apart and evidence itself.
TOM SILVA: Right. Because you think about it, the foundation is a big mass and it’s moving in and out of that door opening. You don’t see it move but there’s a weak link where the header meets the side wall. So it’s going to give right there and why not give there?
LESLIE: When should you be really concerned when you’re looking at a crack in a foundation? Is it the thickness that’s going to sort of give it away? If you see something that’s fairly wide …
TOM: The width, exactly.
So let’s say you have a diagonal crack that runs down your wall and it’s a hairline crack, you’re not going to be too concerned about it. But if it’s a good-sized crack and that crack is opening, that tells me that there’s some settling going on somewhere and there’s movement.
LESLIE: And there’s still movement.
TOM SILVA: The wall is dropping away from the wall above. So even – and that can even happen with a wide, vertical crack. If you look at a crack that’s wide, it could end up to be like a ¼-inch wide and you’re saying, “Well, gee, what’s going on here? Did I have some movement?”
A couple of things can happen; actually, a few things can happen. If your foundation – underneath your foundation, there should be a footing. Well, years ago in the 50s, they didn’t put footings under foundation and if the soil wasn’t compacted correctly or if there was something under the foundation when they backfilled it – it rotted or deteriorated, created a void – the foundation can actually settle down. And if it’s settling down on one corner, the crack at the top could get wider. If it’s settling under the crack, the crack could get wider at the bottom because the foundation’s sinking right at the crack.
So that’s when you’ve got to figure out: “How am I going to get this fixed?” You may need to bring in a structural engineer. They may need to drill down some holes underneath the foundation, in the area that’s settling, and basically compact it, put another footing under the foundation. It can be dangerous.
TOM: And that’s a good point. I think when you have a crack that’s that serious, it is a good idea to bring in a structural engineer, for a couple of reasons. First of all, you’re going to get the right advice but secondly, you’re going to get sort of a pedigree on the effectiveness of that repair. And when it comes time to sell the house, the crack’s always going to show.
But if you can show that you had a structural engineer look at that and they specified how to repair it, then you had a contractor do it, the engineer came back and said, “Yes, this is done correctly; you have nothing to worry about,” that’s going to protect the value of your house.
TOM SILVA: It’s going to cover you, sure. Absolutely.
There’s another crack that you want to be careful of and if you have a block foundation, this is probably where you’re going to see this more than in a poured foundation. If you have a horizontal crack halfway up the foundation wall, that tells me one thing: that 9 times out of 10, there’s too much pressure on the outside of that foundation. And the pressure from the outside because you have poor drainage, you’ve done the wrong kind of compaction or too much compaction, the wall is actually bellying in.
TOM SILVA: And so the outside of the wall, think of that block as actually like a hinge. And the wall is opening up, the crack is opening up because it’s coming in on you.
LESLIE: Would you see a symptom of that if it was a poured foundation or is that really just something that you’re going to see with the block?
TOM SILVA: You’re going to see it more on a block foundation than you will on a poured foundation, unless the poured foundation is a thinner wall construction.
When we pour foundations, even if it’s not required by the code, we always throw some steel rod in the foundation: a couple of horizontals and a couple of verticals every now and then.
LESLIE: Why is that not required by code for all buildings?
TOM SILVA: Because if you can use a heavier concrete, a thicker wall, you don’t really need it if the foundation wall isn’t really holding back a lot. So let’s say half of the foundation is out of the ground and you’ve got an 8-foot wall, you’ve got a pretty strong wall if it’s a 10- or a 12-inch pour. You don’t really need it. You use a 4,000- or 5,000-mix psi, you’re not going to go anywhere.
TOM: That horizontal crack is very, very common and you’re right: a lot of that has to do with drainage. And the bad thing about it is because it is sort of water-actuated, it’s the frost heave.
TOM SILVA: Right. Frost.
TOM: And every year, it gets a little bigger, a little bigger and a little bigger. And eventually, that wall could come down.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. And it will come in and it’ll go right in. Think of the water as the enemy and in cold weather, it’s even worse. Because that water gets in the ground, gets below the ground, freezes. It’s an ice cube. What happens? They expand and they’re going to go right against that foundation and blow it in a wall.
TOM: So the single most important thing that you can do to make sure that your foundation stays stable is watch the drainage.
TOM SILVA: Exactly.
TOM: Good advice. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. Check your local listings by visiting ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot.
Just ahead, do you love the look of hardwood floors but it’s way outside your budget? Well, there’s actually a very budget-friendly option that can give you that same look of hardwood floors but for under three bucks a foot. We’ll share those details, next.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call with your home improvement, your décor, your remodeling question, your I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-this-mess-in-my-house question at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or post it online at The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. I know we are sort of well into 2018 but maybe there’s something that’s still out of reach for you. Have you decided that this is the year you’re actually going to get an amazing night’s sleep? Well, I agree.
Sleep is really, super-duper important. So right now, we’ve got The Money Pit’s Good Night’s Sleep Sweepstakes and you can enter to win some super-comfortable bedding from Tuft & Needle. And then go ahead, guys, and share that sweeps with all of your friends, because you want to make sure that your friends are getting a good night’s sleep, too. But really, you’re going to get five bonus entries for each one of your friends that enter.
TOM: That’s right. Sharing is caring. There are over $4,000 in prizes, including your choice of a Tuft & Needle mattress, plus pillows and sheets. So enter today and share today at MoneyPit.com.[radio_anchor listorder=”1″]LESLIE: Now we’re going to Missouri where Tammy is having issues with her new furnace. What’s going on? Let’s talk you through this.
TAMMY: Oh, I replaced the furnace here before the beginning of winter. And since then, I’ve had a buzzing noise in my breaker box every time it kicks on. I would like to say that the furnace that I replaced was about up to my knees. And the newer furnace is about chest high. Would that have something to do with the pulling of the amps or …?
TOM: Well, the size of the – physical size of the unit may or may not be related to this. It’s more like how much power is it pulling and how is it wired into the breaker box? But if you’re getting a vibration in the breaker box itself, that’s not a good sign. The breaker could be deteriorating internally and what you’re hearing are the early stages of that or perhaps the advanced stages of that. I don’t know.
I would tell you that if you’ve got that kind of a signal, I would definitely have it checked out by an electrician. Open that panel up, have him pull out those breakers, look behind them. Make sure they’re – it’s sized properly. Make sure nothing is over-fused, for example, where the wrong size fuse is being used on a wire and therefore not protecting it from overheating.
It’s definitely not a good sign and shouldn’t be happening. And you need to get it checked out further, OK, Tammy?
TAMMY: Alright. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, spring is a terrific time to update your floors. And if adding hardwood flooring is a project you’d love to tackle but think you can’t afford, laminate floors offer a very budget-friendly option that can give you the look and feel of hardwood for under $3 a square foot. We’ve got the details in today’s Flooring Tip presented by Lumber Liquidators.
TOM: Now, if you haven’t seen laminate floor recently, it is time to take another look because the advances in technology are pretty amazing. You know, that laminate flooring today can resemble hardwood floors so closely it’s kind of hard to tell it’s not the real thing. In fact, the only thing that doesn’t resemble real hardwood is the price. It’s much more affordable, it comes in lots of styles and it can really make those rooms warm and beautiful, just like hardwood, but on a budget.
LESLIE: That’s right. And today’s laminates don’t only look like hardwood floors, they feel that way, too. And that’s thanks to a technology called EIR, which stands for Embossed in Register. And that provides a surface that so closely resembles real solid, rustic wood that even experts have to look very closely and very hard to tell the difference.
TOM: Laminate floors also are very durable. They fit a wide variety of lifestyles. They stand up to the busiest of homes; they look great doing it. I mean you’ve got kids, you’ve got pets, you like to entertain. You can find laminates now that have the best scratch and stain and wear-resistance for total peace of mind that your floor will really stand up over time.
LESLIE: Plus, some laminate floors are highly water-resistant, which means daily spills, splashes and messes aren’t going to damage the floor.
TOM: Yep. And they’re easy to install. They’re also very stable, so you can choose styles that feature those really long, wide boards for large and open-concept spaces. And you won’t even see any of those sort of transitions – the ugly transition moldings – or anything like that. They’re really fantastic. If you’ve not seen your laminates lately, take another look. You’ll be amazed at how beautiful these floors are today.
LESLIE: That’s right. Today’s Flooring Tip was presented by Lumber Liquidators, where you’ll find the new Dream Home Ultra X2O Laminate. It’s more water-resistant than standard laminate flooring, providing greater protection from common household spills. And it’s extremely durable with the highest wear layer for abrasion resistance.
TOM: You’ll find Dream Home Ultra X2O Laminate priced from 2.79 to 2.99 a square foot. And it’s available at Lumber Liquidators stores nationwide and online at Lumber Liquidators.com.
LESLIE: Still to come, are you kicking yourself after your winter storms have maybe left you without power a couple of times and you’re thinking, “Gah, should have got a generator”? Well, there is still time. Spring and summer storms, guys, can be just as bad as the ones in the winter. We’re going to tell you what options you’ve got, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com, where you can find top-rated home pros you can trust.
LESLIE: Alright. But Tom and I are here, right now, to help you out with whatever it is you are working on. And people are posting questions. We get tons of them every day, like Barry in Texas who writes: “With all the ice, snow and outages we received this winter in Texas, I’m wondering if I should put in a backup generator. What are my options and does it add to my home’s value?”
There’s so many options and I’m going to say yes.
TOM: Yeah, I would say yes, too. There’s a lot of options right now. And I’ve got to say that the data – even around for about 10 years – I would say not being around for 10 years. They’ve been around longer than that but the data, in terms of tracking these things and the impact on value, has been happening for about a decade now. And they absolutely do add value to your home, especially if you live in an area that’s prone to storms. I think that folks will also – looking at these houses to buy them – will also think very highly and consider a backup generator a very nice feature in a house. So I do think it’s a good idea to have one.
And the good news is the prices have come way down from years ago. You could pick up a really nice 20k generator today – 20kw generator today – for, I don’t know, 5,000 bucks? Less than that maybe, plus the installation. So the prices on these things have come down. If you want something smaller just to do critical circuits, yeah, you could pick up a backup generator for 1,000 or 1,500 bucks.
If you really just want to do something on a very limited basis, you could, of course, do a portable but it is kind of a hassle. You really want one that’s a standby generator or a full, whole-house generator that comes on automatically. It’s tied in with the electrical system in your house so when the street power goes out, your generator kicks on. It’s a really nice feature to have. They’re available in gas – natural gas – or available with propane. So you have those options in terms of fuel, so you’re not having to find gasoline to fire it, which you would have to do, of course, with a portable.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Which sometimes you can’t even get.
TOM: Yeah. Because when the power goes down, they can’t pump gas at the stations, right?
TOM: I remember the last time that happened around here, people were lined up on the highway for a mile.
LESLIE: Oh, Sandy was an absolute disaster for everybody here.
TOM: It was crazy. Yeah, it was crazy. We were the only house that had power during Sandy and we were …
LESLIE: Well, Sandy was the last time I was without power. That was it.
TOM: Yeah. That was it.
LESLIE: Listen, I had a baby during Sandy. We had no power for three weeks and then, right after that, my husband passed away. And I’m telling you, at that moment, I said I will never be without power again. And that’s why I went for the 20kw. It’s excessive for my home but I like the idea of not worrying. Everything comes on automatically. And truly, having the generator is probably the best way to guarantee that your power will never go out again, because I think it’s come on twice in the past.
TOM: That’s (inaudible). Right, right. But when it does, it’s like, “Hey, there’s the generator. That’s cool.”
TOM: Yeah, mine comes on once a week to test it. I’m sure yours does, too, and that’s – lets you know it’s working, right?
LESLIE: Of course. Right, right. The testing. Truly, there has not been a power outage that’s lasted more than an hour in the past five years.
TOM: Alright. Let’s help out Sarah here. She says, “I’ve got a low water-pressure problem in the house. I’m pretty sure it’s due to the fact that the water line to the street is more than 50 years old and it’s galvanized steel. Is there anything I can do, short of replacing the pipe? Is there a pump I can install?”
No. No, no, no. If that pipe is that old and that rusted, it’s a really bad idea to not replace it. Because you know what? It’s going to need to be replaced either sooner or later and you are much better doing this on your own schedule. That’s the kind of thing that can become really expensive if it happens in an inconvenient time, like a weekend or during a storm or under snow or ice. So, if that pipe is that old, I would replace it.
What happens is they rust and they shrink inwardly, so the size of the hole in that pipe is a lot smaller than when it started.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s just not worth waiting to see what’s going to happen. If you notice that this is already a symptom of what’s going on, just fix it now.
TOM: This is The Money Pit. Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and ideas and advice on projects that you’d like to get done around your house. If you couldn’t get through, remember, you can reach out, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question anytime to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2018 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)