Stopping Squeaks & Creaks #0227172
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And what are you working on this first week of March? There’s got to be a project on your to-do list that you need some help with. And that’s why we exist: to help you get that job done. Give us a call right now. If you’ve got a do-it-yourself dilemma, if you’ve got a décor dilemma, maybe it’s a project you don’t want to do yourself – you want to hire a pro – we can help you sort out what needs to be done and how to find the best guy for your job. All possible if you pick up the phone, first, and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, have you ever noticed that your home makes noise? From squeaks to creaks to those pings and pops, the question is: is what you’re hearing normal or is it a warning sign of something that is potentially serious? Coming up, we’re going to talk about which are the normal sounds and which should never be ignored.
LESLIE: And also ahead, we’re going to share a fun success story about a home improvement industry veteran who purchased a single hardware store that was founded in 1946 and then grew it to 20 locations, employing 415 people. We’ll hear about the trends that fueled that rise when we speak with Michael Weiner from Colony Hardware.
TOM: And here’s an idea we can all get behind: better toilet seats. From comfier to cleaner, there are plenty of affordable upgrades out there for your home. We’re going to highlight some of the latest innovations. So, give us a call right now. Let’s get to your questions, first, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
[radio_anchor listorder=”1″]LESLIE: Barb in Florida is on the line with a drywall question. What’s going on at your money pit?
BARB: Hi there. Well, we have an old, like about a 1920s American Foursquare house in Ohio. We actually live in Florida but we do have a house back there. We recently did a major renovation on it and one of the things we did was open up a wall between the living room and the dining room and put in the header – well, I didn’t but the contractor put in the header with the supporting posts and all that kind of thing. Our problem is the room above this area continues to have one place where the drywall seam continues to crack.
And my concern is: is the header not done correctly? Should I be worried that – I mean we have remudded and repainted that one section multiple times and it’s been about six months. So, you know, I know things have to settle a little bit. But my concern is is I don’t know if I should get somebody in and I don’t even know what kind of expert you would get in to see if the header is done right.
TOM: Well, so, aside from – you said “remudded,” so I presume you’re talking about – you put spackle over the crack and then you paint it. Is that basically what you do?
BARB: Yes, yes.
TOM: OK. So that’s not doing anything, alright? You’re not dealing …
BARB: Well, right. But my concern is nowhere else in the house do we continue to have drywall open up.
TOM: No, I know. I understand. But what you’re describing is normal. An expansion and contraction is pretty normal.
TOM: And unless you’ve really repaired this properly, which basically means sanding down all that extra mud that you put on there and then putting a fiberglass tape on it – which is like a perforated mesh kind of tape – across the seam and then spackling three coats on top of that, that can help sort of bridge that gap.
BARB: OK. Right. OK.
TOM: Because basically, if you just fill it in with spackle, that wall is expanding and contracting.
TOM: And it’s just going to open up again. You’ve not done anything to change that dynamic.
BARB: But you wouldn’t necessarily be concerned that there’s a structural problem with the header or something, the fact that it’s cracking right there.
TOM: Where the crack is above the doorway or the window?
BARB: Yeah. No, it’s above where the header is between the living room and dining room, where we opened up the wall.
TOM: OK. Right. But in that intersection? Yeah.
TOM: That’s a pretty typical place.
LESLIE: So that space just gets a lot of movement on its own.
TOM: Yeah. That’s a pretty typical place. The corners of those archways very typically open up with cracks.
BARB: OK. OK.
TOM: So, that by itself doesn’t tell me that – doesn’t give me concern.
TOM: And the reason it’s showing is probably because it was never repaired right.
BARB: OK. So, yeah. Because the rest of the house, we’ve not had any drywall problems.
BARB: And so I just was a little bit nervous with it being where we did open up a wall and obviously, that’s a big structural area. And I’m like, “Do I need to get an engineer or somebody in there just to make sure that that header is done correctly?” Or is that maybe just – it was a bad place for that drywall and it just hasn’t been repaired properly?
TOM: Well, you certainly could do that and I think that would probably give you peace of mind. But what you’re telling us doesn’t indicate to me that it necessarily is a structural problem, because I know that so many homes have these types of cracks in them.
BARB: OK. Well, OK. OK. I guess because this was the only one we got, maybe I should be glad this was the only crack we got.
TOM: Yeah. Maybe you got lucky, huh?
BARB: Yeah, maybe we did. So, OK. Well, that definitely gives me some peace of mind. So we’ll first try repairing it correctly. And then if we still seem to have a problem, then we maybe should have another expert in just to make sure that they did the header correctly.
TOM: Sounds good. I think that makes sense.
BARB: It seems like they did but I’m not an expert in that area. So, don’t want to have a problem with structure, obviously.
TOM: That sounds like it makes sense. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
BARB: Thank you.
[radio_anchor listorder=”5″]LESLIE: Alright. Now, I’ve got Kent on the line with a window question. How can we help you today?
KENT: I have some old windows in the house, probably 60 to 70 years old. Old double-hung windows. I’m wondering if I should replace those with replacement windows. I mean they’re solid windows. They’re the old double-hung with the weights in the wall and so forth. And looking for economical and convenient way to either redo those windows to make them more energy-efficient or just replace them with something else.
TOM: Replacement windows – just so you understand what that project is, it basically means you’re pulling out those sashes, so the part that slides up and down. And then the replacement window is built to fit inside the existing opening. So it’s a pretty straightforward, easy install if the measurements are done well.
The reason to keep the old windows is really an aesthetic one. If you like that traditional window structure and look and you don’t mind a window that’s not going to be quite as energy-efficient, you can step it up a little bit with weatherstripping and better fitting. And of course, you need storm windows, absolutely. Then you could think about keeping it. But if that aesthetic is not important to you, then I would recommend taking those windows out and using replacement windows in their place.
If it’s a project that you want to do over time, I would do the northern side of the house, first, followed by the east. Because those cold sides – if you get those windows replaced first, that’s going to have an immediate effect on your heating bill. And then if summer heat’s a concern then, of course, you do the west and the south and that cuts down on your air-conditioning bill.
But those are your options. I would only keep it if I had an aesthetic reason to do it.
KENT: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Good luck, Kent. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: We changed windows in just one portion of the first floor of my house.
LESLIE: And I got our local heating company – for us, it’s PSE&G. And they sent over a report of, you know, how much heat we used last year as compared to the year before. And we were six percent down, which isn’t a tremendous amount but it’s big.
TOM: It is big. Those reports are really instructive. I got a similar experience when I had done the Icynene spray-foam insulation in my attic. And when I got my annual comparison report, it was a dramatic – rather dramatic-looking graph. In fact, I put it in – a picture of it in our insulation guide, which is available for download from MoneyPit.com, only because it was just so amazing.
One improvement like that can often make a really big difference in the cost to heat and cool your home. So, good news and not the least bit surprising.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re here to give you a hand. Just give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, nobody likes when things go bump in the night but those noises can be even more scary when you’re a homeowner. From scratches to bumps to clicks, find out which ones mean trouble and which mean you can turn back over and get some rest. That’s coming up when The Money Pit continues, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And if you are in the need for a home improvement solution, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. What are you working on? Is a new kitchen in your plans for this spring? This summer? Thinking about building a deck? Are you tired of paying very high cooling bills and maybe this is the perfect time for you to update your insulation? Whatever project is on your mind, give us a call. We’ll help you figure out how best to get it done, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
[radio_anchor listorder=”2″]LESLIE: Heidi in Rhode Island is on the line with a plumbing question. Tell us what’s going on.
HEIDI: I bought this house two years ago.
HEIDI: And it was built in the 1900s, so it’s fairly old. It’s a century old. And it’s …
LESLIE: Tom and I both live in a 100-year-old house, so we know the troubles that come with them.
TOM: They’re classics.
HEIDI: Yeah. But I loved it because it’s in this really cute, waterfront community just outside of Providence. And when I bought it, it was originally – it’s a three – two-and-a-half-story Victorian but the previous owners or maybe the owners before that decided to break it down into three units.
HEIDI: So, I’ve undertaken the huge task of renovating it from – it’s not – so the second unit, which is finished now, obviously I could only get to certain plumbing. Some parts based off of what I gutted from the first floor I could get to. So not all the plumbing was replaced but majority of it.
Nonetheless, the shower – and I’ve been in the renovated unit for over a year now but never had this problem all last winter. But this winter, maybe a handful of times so far. And ironically enough, it’s – as of right now, I can’t get the shower on today. The water won’t come out.
TOM: Now, Heidi, has the plumbing feeding this shower been replaced?
HEIDI: No. So the valve in the back – it’s a diverter, so it goes from hot to cold.
HEIDI: It hasn’t been replaced.
TOM: The plumbing is – you mentioned you did a lot of plumbing but this plumbing in the wall that feeds the shower was never replaced?
HEIDI: No. Just a lot of the copper. So that – changed that out to PVC but this one shower …
TOM: Is still the original? What kind of plumbing is it? Is it steel?
HEIDI: No. Some of it was copper. And so now, from the second floor down to the basement is – has all been replaced with PEX.
TOM: OK. And that’s smart to do. OK, so look, we need to figure out, first of all, is the problem because the water is not getting to the showerhead? And if that’s the case, then it’s going to be somewhere south of the bathroom, obviously, if this is going on. Could be a bad valve.
If the water is getting to the showerhead, why is it not coming out? Is the showerhead defective? Is it clogged? Very easy way to find out. Just unscrew the showerhead. So, take it off.
HEIDI: It’s not just the shower. There’s no water coming out of the spout either. I turn it on. It’s as if …
TOM: Oh, so the entire – OK, it’s not the – OK, so it’s the whole bathtub.
HEIDI: Yeah. And it’s only happened a handful of times this winter.
TOM: What about the toilet in the bathroom? Does that get water to it? What about the sink?
HEIDI: You know, that’s really funny you ask that because the first – so we’ll say the first four times this happened, sink, toilet, fine. Today – this morning – sink, toilet, not fine.
TOM: Not fine. OK.
HEIDI: But then I came home today and I put a space heater in the basement – just this – I wondered if maybe that was the problem. So it was too cold last night. And I came home and the sink and the toilet seemed to be fine.
TOM: So is it cold enough for the water – the pipes – to freeze?
HEIDI: That’s what I thought. But how come it didn’t happen last winter? And then the second thing that made we doubt that was I know when we put the chase in for the second floor, before we closed up the walls downstairs, we definitely insulated.
TOM: Yeah. Again, we need to figure out how far is the water getting. And if it’s not getting to that tub, why is that? Is not getting to the tub because it’s frozen in the pipe? Is it not getting to the tub because you’ve got a bad valve? Is it not getting to the tub because you’ve got a section of steel pipe in there, which would have been the original plumbing pipe in that house, that suffers from internal rusting that kind of shut down like a clogged artery?
I think, at this point, you’re going to need to get a plumber to diagnose it further. Because it’s one of those causes and then you can kind of move on from there. It sounds like you pretty much have a plumber on retainer there, with all the work that you’ve done. But I think it’s time to tackle this bathroom.
And by the way, replacing all those lines with PEX is a really smart thing to do. And in case it is partly because of pipes that are freezing in the wall, PEX is so darn flexible, you have a lot of options as to where you can run that. I used to have a kitchen sink that would occasionally freeze and that’s because the supply pipe ran up the exterior wall. So we ran the PEX up through the kitchen cabinet and it hasn’t frozen since. So, a lot of options with that.
HEIDI: I really appreciate and listen to your show often. Thanks.
LESLIE: Well, that’s what we’re here for.
TOM: Well, if you had a buck for every time you stopped in your tracks and heard a noise and said, “What’s that?” you’d probably be rich. But houses actually do make a lot of noise. I mean it’s a fact, right? The thing is they’re very noisy but the problem is that you’re not always so sure which noises are normal and which ones can spell big trouble.
LESLIE: That’s right. Now, you never, ever, ever ignore a hissing sound. That means air is escaping. And it could also be the sound of a gas leak or to put it lightly, a trapped snake. But truly, never, never, never discredit a hissing sound. So you want to check for any unusual odors. And if you find them, leave your house immediately and call the gas company, the fire department, everybody.
TOM: Now, if you hear some scratching from behind the walls or from your attic, it can sound pretty creepy. But before you kind of go running for the hills, at least bring in your phone and call an exterminator. Scratching sounds are a really good bet that your house may be home to some rodents. And those are the guys best suited to get them out of the house.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, the sound of running water, it can be soothing if you know where it’s coming from and you are intentionally listening to it. But if you don’t, you need to call a plumber. It could be the sound of a busted pipe that’s in a wall or under the floor. And you want to get to it before it causes a ton of damage.
TOM: Now, those are the types of noises you might need to pay attention to. But what are some of the more normal sounds? Well, squeaky floors or banging pipes are pretty common, as are pings from your heating system. And if you ever hear a click, click, click after turning on or off your hot water, that’s a pipe just rubbing against the wood frame and should not be cause for alarm. So, not so surprisingly, the things that people mostly worry about are not a big deal. It’s the ones that they don’t worry about that can kind of sneak up and cause you big home improvement problems.
LESLIE: Yeah. And can be a huge deal.
[radio_anchor listorder=”4″]LESLIE: Paula in South Dakota is on the line with a leaky roof. Tell us what’s going on.
PAULA: Hi, Leslie. It’s actually not a leaky roof. It’s where the roof overhangs the house. In our area, we call it a “soffit.”
PAULA: And there’s wood underneath the roof. Well, where the roof joins at the 45-degree angle at all the corners, it’s dripping from there. And I’m wondering if that’s something that we can just put some – a sealant and scrape off the old paint and repaint it. Or do we need to call in the professionals?
TOM: So if it’s dripping through the soffit and – does that happen all the time or just under certain weather conditions?
PAULA: Well, when the snow melts off the roof, it drips there. And it goes down the gutter, also, but it also drips there.
TOM: Because what you might have there is some ice damming, because ice will form at that roof edge and kind of back up under the shingles.
LESLIE: And then lift it up.
TOM: Yeah. And then pick it up, right? Lift, push it up and then drip down there. It definitely can cause some rotting and some deterioration. The solution is kind of expensive, because you’d have to pull the roof off and put ice-and-water shield there. But I would check the – I would do one thing: I would check the roof shingles themselves and make sure that they’re not cracked and split along that edge. And if that was the case, then the leaks may be going through the shingles and into the soffit, which basically means you’re at the end of a normal roof life. But I think that that’s worth having a look at.
PAULA: Yeah. That’s a new roof or new shingles.
TOM: Oh, it is?
PAULA: Four years old.
TOM: Well, it shouldn’t be happening if it’s a four-year-old roof. Then, yeah, I would – why don’t you give the roofer a call back, that put that together, and have him take a look? Tell him what you’re seeing and maybe there’s something that they can do about it.
PAULA: OK. Well, it was done just prior to us buying the house, so I don’t know who he is – who the roofer would be. But you think, more or less, it might be just an ice buildup that will – see, I don’t notice it in the summertime.
TOM: If it’s happening during snowmelt, then what happens is the water runs down and it hits ice when it gets to the overhang. And then it backs up. It’s called “ice damming.”
TOM: Alright? It’s a condition that’s very common. Look it up. If you watch it and can take some pictures and prove that that’s what it is, that might actually even be covered by homeowner’s insurance.
PAULA: Oh. Well, that would be a happy situation then.
TOM: Yeah, right? That would be the happiest roof leak you ever got.
LESLIE: And the most affordable to fix.
PAULA: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate all the information.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, Colony Hardware was born of humble beginnings and now it’s one of the largest hardware-supply companies in the nation. That’s thanks to the innovative view of founder Michael Weiner, who’s joining us next.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Well, the story of our next guest is one that may inspire anyone in small business who might have faced competition from a bigger, better-financed competitor. And it’s one that has its humble beginnings of a guy named Michael Weiner, who in 1988 sought to step out on his own by purchasing a local, well-established hardware store.
TOM: Yep. But what Mike could not have predicted is that inside of just a short period of time, the big-box stores would start to move in and take business away from the mom-and-pop store he purchased, that had actually been in business since it opened in 1946. But while many others would’ve folded, Mike figured out what his bigger competitors could not do well. And by focusing on that niche, grew to what is now known as Colony Hardware and it’s one of the largest hardware-supply companies in the nation. It’s got 20 locations, employing 415 people.
Michael Weiner, welcome to the program.
MICHAEL: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
TOM: Those must have been some pretty scary times back then. I mean here you were practically just getting going and you saw the whole industry start to shift.
MICHAEL: Yes, it was. I had my business partner and I who – we bought the company basically at – you know, we both had good jobs in other industries. Took our life savings and bought this hardware store. And the advent of the box stores came shortly thereafter. This was even well before Home Depot and Lowes arrived.
TOM: Yeah, this was the time of Rickel’s and Builders Square and Hechinger’s and the …
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. The early box stores.
MICHAEL: Ultimately, we could not compete with that: their size, their breadth, their power, the locations. So we switched our strategy to servicing local – the contractors.
TOM: And that was a brilliant move, because I was a contractor about that same time and I was always frustrated by the lack of service that I got from those stores. I was almost forced to go there because the mom and pops were getting put out of business. But those early box stores just didn’t service our niche well. You figured out how to super serve that particular group of pros and that’s really what led to the growth that you’re still enjoying today, right?
MICHAEL: Absolutely. We went out – basically, I went out and as they say, “pounded the pavement” and tried to learn about what contractors do, what’s important to them. And pretty quickly, we learned that for a contractor, their success on a project is determined by the conservation and management of labor hours and hourly rates. Whether you’re an electrician, an iron worker, a carpenter, labor is the highest – very high cost to the contactor. And those can get out of hand pretty quickly.
And what we sell to the professional contractors is stuff that, as a percentage of the job, very small in terms of dollars but it’s critical. And back in 1988, when we started this shift – introduced delivery service to the job sites, which really was kind of unheard of in that day in hardware stores to deliver to job sites. And made it – tried to figure out how to make it easy for these guys to have to avoid putting their own guys in a truck and sending them out to the local supply houses to shag down product. And that would – they’d rather have the guys working on the job and being productive.
TOM: Mike, one of the issues that we’ve been tracking on our program is this concept of the skills gap, that here are a lot of guys out there that don’t have the skills in a lot of jobs that need contractors with specific skills. You guys actually have tackled a small of piece that in an interesting way. In addition to selling product to these contractors that are doing these jobs across the nation, you’re also providing some very specialized training that’s got to bring a lot of value to your customers and the work that they do. Let’s talk a little bit about that.
Some of the issues that you guys deal with are, for example, fall protection. Another big safety issue, as you mentioned, making sure that people are safe and secure in the work that they’re doing, whether that’s up on the top of a ladder or on the top of a high rise, right?
MICHAEL: That’s right. When we opened up – shortly after when we opened up our branch in New York City, we hired our first product-safety specialist. And this is a guy who all he – his role is to basically focus and grow our safety category. Safety is becoming more and more, on commercial job sites, a bigger concern with that pace and complexity of construction increasing. OSHA regulations are increasing, as well. Insurance rates are rising. So, products that allow tradespeople to work safer in greater – are in greater demand.
So our product-safety specialist will – we do – some of the examples of training that he’ll do on the job site is fall-protection training, tool-tether training. Tool-tethering is a growing category, especially in any of the cities where you see high-rise construction. So, this is one of the added-value services we offer.
A lot of the companies have their own safety managers and safety directors but we kind of provide that link. For example, on a high-rise job recently in New York, a general contractor was insisting to the subcontractors to tether their tools. Because there were issues with stuff dropping off the building, which obviously could be very dangerous. Our safety specialists were there on a weekly basis helping the subcontractors, assessing their needs, asking what tools they were using. We were coming up with solutions for them, showing them how to use them and delivering the product they needed quickly by.
LESLIE: So, Michael, now you see the newest and all of the products that are out there right now. Have you seen any that are just especially innovative in the business?
MICHAEL: The category of cordless tools is exploding. With the lithium-ion battery technology, tools that have only been available in corded in the past now are available cordless and actually perform as well with this new technology and in some cases, better with cordless. The advantage of a cordless tool – let’s talk about safety.
One of the big issues on the job site is trip hazards. So when you walk onto a job site, I have seen all these cords all over the place. Awful trip hazard. Cordless significantly reduces that issue.
The other thing is convenience of cordless. Getting back to that time is money. When a tradesperson has to set up their tools, run their extension cords, get them off the ground, which a lot of the general contractors insist upon doing. Being able to do that cordlessly is huge. So, cordless is taking some tools that have never existed or never even thought of being able to run without a cord, with this new technology now can be accomplished cordlessly.
TOM: And speaking of cordless, you also point out that LED lighting is huge right now. Of course, the bulb technology has gotten to the point where we can actually do a lot of that without the cords as well, right?
MICHAEL: Yes. The old, you know, temporary lighting on the jobs – cords had a lot – the cords, bulbs create a lot of heat. And there’s been some serious fires that have occurred with those being knocked over. And so LED was out-of-control expensive three years ago. Now, the pricing is coming down where it’s affordable. And again, it’s available in cordless. So, Milwaukee is one of the companies that actually introduced and is investing a lot of money in temporary LED lights that are cordless.
TOM: Well, that’s terrific. Michael Weiner, the president of Colony Hardware, tremendous story starting back in 1988 with a single hardware store and growing to an amazingly successful business today, hiring – employing over 415 people with 20 locations in 9 states. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Mike, and telling us your story. It’s an inspiration to small businesses across the country.
MICHAEL: Thank you so much, Tom.
TOM: And if you’d like to learn more about Mike’s business, head on over to ColonyHardware.com. ColonyHardware.com. And for all those tradesfolks that are listening to our show, give them a shot. I think you’re going to find the service and the products are exceptional.
Thanks again, Mike.
LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, for being one of the most important seats in your home, your toilet seat could be pretty uninviting. But that’s all about to change. We’re going to talk about toilet-seat upgrades flush with comfort, when The Money Pit continues.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: On air and online at MoneyPit.com. Leslie, who’s next?
[radio_anchor listorder=”3″]LESLIE: Victor in Georgia is on the line with a roof question. How can we help you?
VICTOR: I need to know what’s the best method of cleaning pine straw and oak leaves off a roof. Pull it off or rake it off?
TOM: Yeah. Well, you don’t want to rake it off because if you rake it off, you can damage the shingles. If you can blow it off or use a pressure washer to kind of wash it off, then that’s not a bad thing to do. But just keep in mind and just so you know, those pine needles and those leaves will have zero impact on the roof. I know they don’t look good. They kind of make it look dirty. But they will not cause additional wear and tear to the roof. If you’re too aggressive with your removing of those, then you could shorten your shingle life. But just having them on there doesn’t have effect on it.
LESLIE: Well, your furniture is comfortable. Your desk chair, comfortable. But what about that other place that you spend a good amount of time sitting on? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m talking about your home’s throne, you know, your toilet seat? Why are they so cold and uninviting? Well, that whole concept of not being comfy is about to change, with a whole bunch of upgrades that are hitting the market and picking up steam. And all of these toilet-seat upgrades are available for less than 200 bucks each.
TOM: Now, you can start with some real simple improvements, like don’t you hate it when the toilet seat slams closed? Kind of makes you jump out of your skin. It happens a lot with kids. But you can stop that insanity with a quiet-close toilet seat. All it takes is a gentle touch and the lid drops slowly and softly, so no loud bang. Less touching also means fewer germs, as well.
LESLIE: Yeah. And toilets, they can be cold. So, shiver no more with toilet seats that sense activity and actually warm up when you sit down. Some models even have adjustable settings so you can control the temperature. That just sounds lovely. You may never leave the bathroom.
TOM: Exactly. And if you’ve been dreaming of a bidet, just like the bathrooms in Europe, there are premium bidet toilet seats available now that come with a built-in bidet. So no need to replace the toilet altogether. And even better, you can control the water’s temperature for no shocking surprises. All for less than 150 bucks. What will they think of next?
888-666-3974. We will think of the answer to your next home improvement project question. So give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.
[radio_anchor listorder=”6″]LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got Lauren from Nebraska on the line. What can we do for you today?
LAUREN: I live in an area where it’s all – a lot of clay in the soil. And we have a basement underneath of our house. And the walls have moved in a little bit from the pressure of the earth. And I notice in the summertime, when it’s very dry, the earth pulls away from the house. And sometimes, it’s an almost 2-inch gap of air space that – and I’m just wondering, should a guy put something in there when that pulls away or should he just leave it alone?
TOM: I don’t like to see those big gaps in there. I would be of the mind to tell you to backfill it and add additional soil and tamp it down so that you don’t have those big gaps.
LAUREN: So that wouldn’t add more pressure when it gets – the soil gets earth – or the earth gets wet and it pushes back in?
TOM: No. Because I think it’s going to expand equally in all directions. If it’s not pressing on the walls, as it is now, I don’t think it’s going to do that later.
LAUREN: OK. Well, you’ve answered my question. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Lauren. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, do you have stacks of photos sitting in drawers or saved on our phone or desktop? Well, print up those photos and create your own home gallery to bring interest to your walls. We’re going to share some framing tips, coming up.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Jumping right onto the Community section at MoneyPit.com to answer a question from Lucy in Kansas.
LESLIE: That’s right. Lucy writes: “What’s the best way to determine if I have a pest problem? I’m concerned about some soft spots at the base of my wooden fence. Could it be termites?”
TOM: Well, it could be but there’s nothing wrong with that because that’s where termites live.
Now, if you have wood fences and you want to make sure that you try to preserve them as long as possible, one trick of the trade that I always tell people that are installing fences is to leave them a little higher off the grass then you normally would. The installers tend to almost bury the bottom of those fence sections in the grass. And I think that’s job preservation, because it rots them out quicker and makes them …
LESLIE: It does seem like it.
TOM: It does, right? And it gives them exposure to termites and carpenter ants and that sort of thing. So, a little space there actually helps preserve that. But in terms of your house, you really ought to have a yearly pest inspection, especially to check for wood-destroying insects. Because those can go on for years sometimes.
I was talking to a friend of mine who had a slab-on-grade house, right? So no basement, no crawlspace. And just noticed the tiniest amount of what looked like sawdust coming out of her – the middle of the wall of her dining room. It turned out that wall and the ceiling above was thoroughly infested with termites. She lost a major main beam. It was a nightmare to repair. And having a regular pest inspection can help prevent that from happening to you.
Well, the walls of your home are nothing more than a canvas waiting for your personal touch. Leslie has a tip on how to do that with photos, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, one of the greatest ways to make a space your own is to hang pictures that mean something to you and your family. But if you visited a frame shop lately to check on the pricing, you know that it can be really expensive. So, instead, why not pick up some cheaper frames? You can get them just about anywhere. And then you can customize the mats.
It really is much easier than you think. You just need heavy-duty paper in any color that compliments the picture, compliments the frame, compliments the room. There are a lot of different ways that you can go about matting something. And you can even use two different colors. You can use a white matte all around in a thicker format with a thinner strip of a color paper underneath to sort of bring in that color without overwhelming the design.
Now, here’s what you do. You want to cut the outside of the paper to match the dimensions of the inside of the frame. Then you want to use an X-ACTO knife or an actual mat cutter. And you guys, make sure when you’re using any of these X-ACTOs or mat cutters that you use a straight edge – a metal one – to cut so that you’re making a nice, straight cut.
And you also want to make sure that you keep your fingers towards the outside – actually, I should say the inside, the far-away edge from the side you’re cutting. And just always keep an eye on the area that you’re cutting. I actually just had my assistant at the Harry show cut the tip of her finger with an X-ACTO. I mean it was just quick second. And you’ve got to just pay attention. So always look where you’re cutting. Pay attention. Work on a non-slip surface. Use a cutting mat. That really does help.
Now, what you want to do is cut a square big enough to display as much of the picture as you want to show. Square, rectangle, whatever works with the size of the picture you’re using. Now, here’s the trick: get non-acid tape and then tape only one side of the picture to the mat. Taping more than one side is going to cause it not to really lay straight and it could wrinkle. Now, you are matting like a pro.
So go ahead, create groupings of similar photos for added impact. You can mix black and white with color photos. You can do all black and white. You can do all sepia tone. Truly do whatever works for you. Go crazy. Create a gallery. And you will be so happy with the results.
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, building stairs is a pretty complicated DIY project. But it’s one that can be made simpler when you get expert advice from the This Old House general contractor Tom Silva. Tommy joins us with tips to help you climb new heights with stair-building, on the 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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