- Spring is the season of big rainstorms. We’ll have tips on how to make sure your roof is ready for the deluge!
- Prevent sneezing by replacing air condition filters before allergy season kicks in! Before allergy season kicks in, it’s a good idea to replace the air filter in your heating and cooling system. We’ll share a nifty little device that costs about a dollar and reminds you exactly when that needs to happen.
- When it comes to floors, it’s easier than ever to be eco-friendly. We’ll share options for beautiful, durable and earth-friendly floors.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Gerry in Massachusetts has a bang that randomly occurring in her house’s plumbing.
- Mike from Louisiana noticed a crack on his floor the needs to be repaired.
- Theresa in South Carolina has a basement that floods after a heavy rain.
- David from Arkansas wants some more information about geothermal water heaters.
- Carol in Mississippi has a kitchen floor that is sinking into her crawl space and needs to figure out why and how to solve it.
- Cody from Texas wants to know if it’s worth it to buy an insulated door or put in foam sheets between his garage door.
- Margaret in Virginia has a rusty cast iron tub and wants to know what she would have to do to restore it.
- Jim from Pennsylvania wants to know the advantages of metal roof over typical shingle roofs.
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 we are here to help you take on your – and I am so glad I get to say this – spring projects. Yes, spring is here. It has officially begun. And so now is the time to get outside and do all those projects you’ve been putting off all winter long. And if you need help, we are here to do just that.
Couple of ways to reach us. The preferred way is to go to MoneyPit.com/Ask, download The Money Pit app. It’s a great new app that we developed. It allows you to record your question and send it right to our production team. It’s fast, it’s easy and we answer those questions first. Go to MoneyPit.com/Ask. Or you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, with the spring here, that means we’re going to have some pretty heavy rainstorms. So we thought now would be a good time to share some tips on how to make sure your roof is totally ready for those spring deluges. Is that a word? Deluges? It’s more than one deluge? It’s a lot of water.
LESLIE: A super lot of rain, more than one time.
Also, this is allergy season. God bless you. You’re welcome. You’re going to be sneezing a lot. So it’s a great idea right now to replace that air filter in your heating-and-cooling system at home. We’re going to share a nifty, little device that costs about a dollar and reminds you exactly when that needs to happen because boy, is that easy to forget.
TOM: And it’s easier than ever to be eco-friendly today but when it comes to choosing eco-friendly floors for your home, understanding how that product is produced is really the key. So we’re going to tell you what to look for.
LESLIE: And are you ready to spring into your home improvements? Well, we are ready to help you. We’ve got a great set of tools to give away today from Arrow Fastener. It’s going to one lucky listener who connects with us, asking a question and getting some help with their projects.
We’re giving away America’s bestselling staple gun, the T50, plus its sidekick, the T50X. And it’s worth 65 bucks.
TOM: It’s going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Go to MoneyPit.com/Ask, download the app, record your question and you will be tossed into The Money Pit hard hat. You might just win that set of T50 staple guns worth 65 bucks.
LESLIE: Geri in Massachusetts is on the line with a very mysterious noise.
What is going on?
GERI: Well, I don’t know if it’s the cold weather or what but I get this loud, loud bang in my house. It’s not a certain time of day. It can be at night, it could be in the morning. And I would say it’s a corner of my house and I can’t figure it out.
TOM: Does it happen when your heating system kicks on?
GERI: No. It’s just random. It can happen at any time of day and I can’t figure it out.
TOM: Do you have a duct system or do you have radiators that give you heat?
TOM: Baseboard radiators. OK. Do you have central air conditioning?
GERI: I do.
TOM: And does it happen in the summer, as well as the off-season?
GERI: No. I only detect it in the winter.
TOM: OK. Well, a couple of things here. First of all, if your boiler is not tuned up properly, you can get a condition called “explosive ignition.” Like if too much gas comes out and then the boiler ignites, it can do so with a bang and that’s generally disturbing and very unsafe. So I would make sure that the heating system was serviced.
And the second thing that often causes noise that far exceeds its damage is something called “water hammer.” And this can happen when water is running through the pipes of the house and stops suddenly. The centrifugal force of that water continuing down the pipe will cause it to move or shake and that can result in a bang that goes almost end-to-end on the house. And the solution is both to secure loose plumbing pipes and install something that’s kind of like a shock-absorber for your plumbing system. It’s called a “water-hammer arrestor.”
So those are the two most common in your type of heating system and plumbing system, areas where I think sound can originate.
Alright, Geri. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mike in Louisiana is on the line with a question about concrete.
What’s happening to it?
MIKE: I have a crack in my foundation and I was wondering what would be the best way to stop it.
TOM: So is this a basement foundation or a crawlspace foundation? What’s it look like?
MIKE: I have it on a slab. I don’t have a basement or nothing. It’s just a crack in the concrete. Goes pretty much all the way across on one end of the house.
TOM: OK. So does it – is it the floor or do you see it from the outside? Where are we seeing this?
MIKE: Just in the floor. I just see it in the floor. I don’t see it on the side. Looked at it twice on the outside and I haven’t seen it.
TOM: Alright. So that might not be part of the foundation. Because when you have a slab-on-grade house, the floor area itself is actually not part of the foundation; only the perimeter is. So, that’s a pretty standard crack repair. What you want to do is go to a home center and pick up a QUIKRETE – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E – epoxy-based or patching compound. And that is something that you can apply to the crack.
There’s a number of different types of this. Some of it comes in a tube that you can apply with a caulk gun and others you mix up. But it has to be a patching material because the – otherwise, it won’t stick to the old concrete. Then what you do is clean out that crack, you apply the patch, let it dry and you’re good to go.
And it’s springtime. Leslie, do you have any outdoor plans for spring around your house?
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness, I mean so much. I feel like everything just gets so weathered and beat up during the winter season, so it always starts with a lot of cleaning. And then I think it’s time to say goodbye to our outdoor playset. So, that’s going to be something we tackle.
TOM: Ah. That’s sad. Yeah. We had ours sitting around for a long time. But then, you know, when the kids turned 20, figured it was time. No, we didn’t hold it for that long. Only kidding. But yeah, it’s always difficult to get rid of that. There’s a lot of memories in those swings.
LESLIE: Yeah. It really is. But they take up a tremendous amount of space.
TOM: They do.
LESLIE: And when you live on a postage-stamp lot, you kind of want that space.
TOM: Well, in our case, the kids were happy to give up the swing set because we built a fire pit. It became a good hangout spot.
LESLIE: Oh, way better.
TOM: Alright. So give us a call with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to MoneyPit.com/Ask. Because we’ve got a handy set of two tools to give away to one lucky listener.
From Arrow Fastener, we’ve got the T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and the T50X TacMate Staple Gun. So you’ll pretty much be set for all of these projects you need to get done around your house.
LESLIE: Oh, for sure. This is a spring staple. Ha-ha. Get what I did there? But truly, you will use this staple gun – especially the T50 – for the rest of your life. It is America’s bestselling staple gun. Both of these are very well built. They’re super durable. They will stand up to dozens, if not hundreds, of DIY and pro projects.
Now that set of Arrow T50s, along with a supply of staples, is worth $65 and it’s going out to one lucky listener drawn at random.
TOM: To make sure you’re included in the drawing for the Arrow staple gun, you need to call us with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT. Or better yet, post it to MoneyPit.com/Ask by downloading The Money Pit app. You’ll record your question and shoot it right to our production studio and get on the air with us quickly.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to talk with Teresa in South Carolina who’s dealing with a wet basement.
Teresa, what’s going on at your money pit?
TERESA: Well, we’ve just recently bought this house and we’ve been here a little over a year. And we were told that the basement floods but we weren’t really aware of how bad it did flood. So, every time we get a heavy rain, it fills up a front landscaping area and it flows in through the bricks, I guess. I’m not sure how it comes in but it comes into the basement.
We’ve talked to several companies and they want to do things inside but I don’t understand why they don’t want to do something on the outside.
TOM: Well, you are absolutely correct because the solution to this problem is not inside. So, what happens in situations like this is, typically, a homeowner will contact a so-called basement-waterproofing company. I think that those titles are inaccurate because these contractors don’t really waterproof anything.
What they really do is just put in a water-evacuation system that allows the water to saturate the foundation perimeter, soak through the walls and fill up your basement. And then before it shows itself, kind of above the floor, they pump it out. But you have to know that that allows a lot of damage to happen, even before that water collects to the level where they can pump it. You have increased pressure against the foundation, you have mold growth, all sorts of things.
So, you are absolutely correct in that you need to stop this on the outside. And the good news is is it’s really not that hard, nor that expensive to do. So there’s two areas you need to focus on: one is grading and the other is roof drainage. So we’ll start with the biggest culprit and that’s roof drainage.
You need to look at all of the gutters that are on your house. You need to make sure that, first of all, you have gutters. Secondly, that you have an adequate number of downspouts on those gutters. And you want to kind of stand back sort of from the street level, look up at your roof, try to do a little sort of rough, back-of-the-hand math. Because you want 600 to 800 square feet of roof surface draining into each downspout. So if you have one downspout and you have a bunch of roof surfaces going into it, it might be that that gets overwhelmed and therefore, the gutter will overflow even if it’s not clogged. Of course, to that point, they have to be clog-free.
And most importantly of anything else is this: you must, must, must extend the discharge from that leader at least 4 to 6 feet from the house. Because we need to move this away from what’s called the “backfill zone.” That’s the area of soil that’s dug out when you build the foundation. You need to get the water beyond that 4- to 6-foot perimeter.
Now, you can do this simply by putting in an additional piece of leader material on there. And of course, it’s not very attractive; it’s somewhat unsightly. But I would at least do that for starters so that you can prove to yourself that this works. And then later on, if you want to try to make it neater, you could always sink some underground, solid PVC pipe and drain through that and perhaps discharge it into the street or some other lower area on your property.
Now, once that’s set, then you could look at the grading at that foundation perimeter, starting on the area where you see water collecting. And you want to make sure that the soil slopes away about 6 inches over 4 feet. And that soil has to be well-tamped fill dirt, not topsoil. Topsoil is very organic. Sometimes when folks have drainage issues, they put more topsoil on it. That’s kind of like throwing sponges around your house. You want to create that slope with clean fill dirt. It’s more of a kind of clay-like, compactable-type soil that can be sloped to drop that 6 inches over about 4 feet. Over that, you can put a little topsoil to sustain growth or plantings or whatever but you need to get that slope established first.
So this way, you have direct rainfall, hits that grade, runs off and all of the water that collects on the roof hits those downspouts and gets discharged well away from the house. Those two things will stop this wet basement. And I know that for certain because when you said that your basement floods after heavy rain, all of that always sources on the outside. It’s not a rising water table and that’s the only time you’d ever need to put in below-grade drains, such as what these waterproofing companies are suggesting.
TERESA: OK. Great. I really appreciate your help.
TOM: Well, you’re welcome. And I’m so glad we could get to you before you spent the money on waterproofers, because I can’t tell you how many times we get this same call after someone has spent $10,000 or $20,000 on a waterproofer only to find out that they still have the same problem.
TERESA: Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Well, spring starts next week. I know Tom is excited. I’m always sad to see the ski season end. But warm weather brings a whole host of other fun. And now that we’re heading into spring, it really is a great time to make sure that your roof hasn’t been damaged by this long winter. We’re going to share what you need to know, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
Now, the first step is a safe roof inspection. So you want to grab a set of binoculars because you’re going to stay on the ground, which makes it a super-safe inspection. And then scan your roof for any sagging, any uneven areas. Really just look around.
TOM: Yeah. And you want to make sure you check the valleys. That’s where two roofs come together in a V. It’s really an area that’s very prone to leaking. And make sure they are free and clear of debris, because it can also act as a barrier to prevent rain from flowing down and off the roof. Tends to back up and again, can leak into that valley area.
Also, check out the shingles and the flashing, which is used around roof vents and pipes and skylights and chimneys or where one wall intersects with another wall. Because one of the most common causes for roofs leaks is due to problems with that flashing, as well as curled or cracked shingles. And if you see a lot of those curled and cracked shingles, it might mean that you need a new roof.
But for the most part, remember that any other type of roof repair is usually totally doable without replacing the entire roof. You only need to replace your roof if it’s completely dried out and worn out. And even though sometimes contractors will tell you it is, most of the time it’s not and you can fix that one leak that’s bugging you.
LESLIE: Now, another important area to check is the gutters. You might find out that you’ve got branches, leaves or even a tennis ball or something that your kids have thrown and it clogs up that gutter. And let me tell you, one small clog like that can build up so much water. And then you will see all of that water – guess where, you guys.
LESLIE: In your basement. And that can cause a lot of problems: foundation damage, flooring damage, all kinds of stuff.
So you want to make sure that those gutters are clean, downspouts are free-flowing. And then you want to make sure that gutters are fastened properly and are tight and secure. And here’s a quick repair trick: if the gutters are loose, you want to replace the gutter spike, if that’s what you’ve got, with gutter screws. They’re as long as the spikes but once you screw them in, they’re never backing out.
TOM: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. You can earn three-percent cash back on online shopping. Apply at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: David in Arkansas is on the line with a geothermal question.
What is going on at your money pit?
DAVID: Well, I have leaks, for one. But at any rate, it’s a water-furnace unit. It’s about 23 years old and so it’s probably had a good life. I’m just curious, these days, if it’s best to look at replacement with a geothermal or if conventional units are now just as efficient, you know, and which way to go.
TOM: And what kind of fuel do you have right now, David?
DAVID: Our home is all electric.
TOM: So it’s all electric. OK.
So, yes, the HVAC systems are far more efficient than they used to be. If you were to go geothermal, you have the investment of having to essentially install the ground line, which basically goes deep into the soil as part of this. And that’s something that’s going to depend greatly on the condition of the soil, whether it can be easily drilled and so on and so forth. The install on geothermal tends to be pretty expensive, so you’re definitely going to have to get some estimates on that and see if it makes sense. If not, I would buy the most efficient electric heat-pump system that you can afford.
And I’d also make sure that you replace both the coil on the A/C side of this, as well. Because the coil has to match, right? You don’t just want to put the unit outside. You have to replace that coil, as well. Because unless they’re properly matched, you do not get the efficiency that you are promised, so to speak.
TOM: And then thirdly, I want you to make sure that you replace the thermostat with one designed for heat pumps. This is a common mistake people make. They put standard clock-setback thermostats on heat pumps. And what happens is if a heat pump runs on the heat pump cycle, the temperature has to move very slowly so it doesn’t trigger the backup system that’s built into all heat pumps, which is electric heat. And if you do that, that gets really expensive to run.
So, replace the heat pump with the most efficient one you can afford, match it with a proper-sized coil and make sure the thermostat is also replaced and is a heat-pump thermostat. And by the way, lots of thermostats today, too, that are Wi-Fi, wireless thermostats. Your phone becomes a remote control.
DAVID: Right, right.
TOM: You don’t have to get up off the easy chair to change your heat or even when you’re coming home from work.
DAVID: Right, right. Right.
TOM: If the heat is set low, you want to kick it up a few degrees. You can do that before you get in the car and start driving home.
TOM: So lots of technology for you to take advantage of, as well, OK, Dave?
DAVID: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Appreciate you guys being on for us to call in.
LESLIE: Carol in Mississippi, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
CAROL: I have a floor that’s sinking in the hallway and the kitchen and I was just trying to find out what’s the best way to repair that and what type of wood should it be repaired with.
TOM: So do you have any idea, Carol, as to what’s causing the floor to sink?
CAROL: I don’t know if it’s the foundation. I don’t know if it’s the foundation, because it’s in Mississippi and there’s lots of moisture there. And for some reason, the homes there really look rundown and stuff. And I always – and I did researching just because it’s so moist there. But the house is really, really old, so I have no idea what’s causing it.
TOM: Is the floor a wood floor?
CAROL: Yes, it is.
TOM: And is it over a crawlspace?
CAROL: No, it’s not over a crawlspace.
TOM: Is it over a basement?
CAROL: No, it’s not over a basement. It’s on the foundation part of it.
TOM: Yeah. OK. Look, there’s only really three types of floor structures. You’re either going to have – your house is going to be built on a slab, which means it’s on concrete or it’s going to be on a wood-framed floor, which is either going to be over a crawlspace or over a basement. I’m trying to figure out what kind of floor structure you have.
CAROL: OK. It’s up off the ground a little bit.
TOM: That’s a crawlspace. So what has to happen, Carol, is somebody has to go into the crawl and get under that area and look up and see what’s going on. If you have a lot of moisture, you could have some rotted beams there. And if that’s the case, they have to be repaired. That can’t – well, it’s very difficult to do that from the top side; you would do that from the bottom side. And then once you know what the cause of the sagging is, then you’ll know how to approach it.
But let’s say that you’ve found there was a beam that was decayed. Well, what would happen in that case is you would put a new beam next to it. So if one bad floor joist, you’d put another one next to it, maybe even one next to that so you’d kind of sandwich the bad beam in between the two good beams. And that would straighten that out.
Once the structure is repaired, then you can go in from the top side and repair any remaining decay, like if it was the wood – plywood – subfloor or something of that nature. But you’ve got to start with the structure, which is what’s underneath there, to figure out why this sag has occurred and why this area has sunken in. And once that’s re-supported, then you can move to the top side.
Does that make sense?
CAROL: Makes a lot of sense. Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Carol. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s almost that first day of spring, which means allergy season is going to be kicking in. Right now, guys, it is a good idea to replace the air filter in your heating and cooling system. I mean at a minimum, basic filters, you need to replace those about once a month.
But Tom, people are always forgetting about it and that really dirty filter can actually make the air dirty, too, right?
TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Now, I recently discovered, though, a nifty, little device that costs about a buck and reminds you exactly when that needs to happen. It kind of annoys you that it needs to happen.
And here’s what happened. The gas company actually sent me sort of a surprise gift, which is a bunch of conservation items. I guess they had some sort of campaign. And the box had LED bulbs, it had a water-saving showerhead. And then it had this little, two-piece plastic device that I did not recognize. And it turns out it’s something called a “furnace-filter whistle.” And it’s basically designed to bug you when it’s time to change the filter. It’s comprised of two plastic pieces and they snap onto the filter.
You basically set this up so that the bigger piece is – faces the airflow and then the other side snaps together so where it sort of pushes through. Because remember, these fiberglass filters are kind of thin. So it snaps in there. And then it allows the air to move through this device. And when the filter gets clogged, it starts to whistle at you, which says it’s time to replace the filter.
LESLIE: Well, that’s not annoying at all.
So, basically, it’s alerting you that it’s time to replace that filter in your central air conditioner or your furnace. You know, it’s kind of like the same annoyance that you get when that battery trips in the smoke detector but you don’t know which one it is, because it’s chirping and it’s mysteriously coming from any direction. And you’re like, “Where? Which one? This one?” And then you stand by it. At least this one you know where it’s coming from.
TOM: It’s totally a strategy that works.
LESLIE: That’s true.
TOM: Because what the heck is that, right? So you’re kind of forced to fix it fast.
LESLIE: Annoy you until you can’t deal with it.
TOM: I also took a look at where you can buy these things and they seemed to be a little bit hard to find. But then I discovered that they’re sold by all sort of conservation sites. So, any site that sells products that help you conserve energy seems to have these. And again, they’re only like a buck. I saw them for 89 cents up to, I don’t know, $1.75 or something. So, pretty cheap and definitely worth checking out.
LESLIE: Cody in Texas is on the line with a garage-door question.
How can we help you today?
CODY: I’m interested in insulating the garage door. The garage has insulated ceiling, the walls, everything, except for the door. It’s just that thin, metal panel and I wasn’t sure if it’s worth my money to go ahead and buy a door that’s insulated, like from Overhead Door Company, or if it would be just as good to buy the foam panels from Lowe’s or Home Depot and cut them out and try to fit them into each panel themselves.
TOM: Well, you’ve got nothing to lose by taking the inexpensive route first, because those foam panels are pretty cheap. And yes, if you can fit them securely inside those garage – those existing, metal, garage-door panels, you’re probably going to pick up as much insulation as you would if you replaced the whole thing.
An insulated garage door doesn’t, in and of itself – even if it’s brand new is not going to add that much insulation value to it. So, really, all you have is as much foam as you can squeeze in there.
But remember, just as important as the insulating the door panels is to make sure that you have weather-stripping along the edge of the door and that it’s adjusted so that it sits well against the concrete floor and it sits well against the jambs – both the side jamb and the overhead jamb. Because I would think that wind is probably your biggest enemy in trying to keep that garage warm. And it’s good that you’ve got the rest of it insulated and certainly, insulating the panels will help. But garage doors aren’t really known for their comfort, so whatever you do is going to have a limited effect.
CODY: OK, OK. Good deal. So the bid I got was $880. I think I will go with the foam sheets first because that’s – I’ll probably have $80 total in that.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. And see how that goes.
CODY: OK. Well, I do appreciate it. I always listen to the show and appreciate the advice.
TOM: Well, thank you so much. Good luck with that project. Let us know how you make out.
CODY: Thank you very much.
TOM: Hey, if you guys are ready to tackle some home improvement projects, if only you had some tools to get it done. Well, we’ve got two to give away on today’s show. They come from Arrow Fastener. So we’ve got the T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and the T50X TacMate Staple Gun.
These are very well-built tools. That T50 is America’s bestselling staple gun. And the package comes with a supply of staples. It’s worth 65 bucks and going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Send us your question by going to MoneyPit.com/Ask, download The Money Pit app, record your question and it’ll go right to our production team. Or you can call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Virginia where Margaret has a question about a bathtub.
Tell us what’s going on.
MARGARET: We have an old, cast-iron tub and it’s real rusty in spots. And I’m wondering what we could do to restore it.
LESLIE: Now, when you say real rusty in spots, are we talking about big spots or are we talking about small, little ones from a chip here and there?
MARGARET: No. We’re talking about big spots because the water – it was not good water when we first moved here. And so it had a lot of wear and tear on it about 40 years before we moved here. And we’ve been living here, probably, about 45 years, so …
TOM: So your tub is almost 100 years old, huh?
TOM: Yeah. Well, look, it served the house well. It’s not going to last forever. It needs to be reglazed at this point. And I’ve had some experience with folks that have tried to reglaze these tubs inside the house. And it can be done but it’s an awfully messy and intensive job. And unless it’s done professionally, it doesn’t seem to last very long. There are home reglazing kits. Rust-Oleum makes one that’s for tub and tile but I wouldn’t expect it to last all that long.
The best way to do this is to have the tub taken out and reglazed. But if you’re going to do all that, you might as well replace it and not just have that – not just not have that reglazed unless it’s particularly beautiful. I think those are your options. It’s not easy to do a touch-up to something like this when it’s just got so – it’s got almost 100 years of wear and tear on it.
MARGARET: Oh. Yes, yes. OK. That was my question. I appreciate that.
TOM: Unfortunately, Margaret, there’s no easy way to remove 100 years of wear and tear on that tub and so you’re probably better off just replacing it.
LESLIE: Well, if you like to save energy or not waste water, you’re probably an environmentally-responsible shopper. But when it comes to shopping for floors, knowing how that floor is made is key to knowing if it’s actually an ecofriendly choice. So here’s what you need to look for.
TOM: Yeah, there are basically two types of floors that are generally considered to be the most eco-friendly.
Now, first, there’s cork. Cork is a good choice for a lot of reasons. It’s sustainable, it looks great, it lasts a long time and it’s very quiet. And it’s the best for allergy-sufferers.
Now, the flooring is made from the bark of the cork-oak tree, which is stripped every 9 years and then grows back. That is really fast for a regrowth rate but it inflicts no damage on the tree. Pest controls or fertilizers are also rarely used in the farming of cork trees. And the waste cork can also be recycled, as well. So, all in all, a really good choice for an eco-friendly flooring product.
LESLIE: Alright. Now, the other option out there is bamboo. And bamboo floors, they’re manufactured from the bamboo plant, which is a type of grass and that makes them super sustainable. I mean bamboo grows at such a fast rate – quicker than trees – and reaches maturity in as little as 5 years, which is why bamboo is one of the most eco-friendly flooring products that are available.
TOM: Now, the other big advantage, though, of bamboo is that it is really, really hard. Strand bamboo is actually about twice as hard as red oak, which is why bamboo flooring is both sustainable and a super-durable flooring choice, as well.
LESLIE: Jim in Pennsylvania is on the line with a metal-roofing question.
How can we help you today?
JIM: My question is – metal roofs. What’s the advantage of the metal over the shingle or vice versa? The cost? I see a lot of my neighbors putting the metal on.
TOM: So, metal roofs are probably the most durable roof available today. And so the main advantage is durability. The other thing that you can get with a metal roof is today, they’re coated with low-E coatings so they can actually reflect the sun in the summer and lower your cooling costs, as well.
The downside of metal roofs is that they’re very expensive. They’re called “investment-grade roofs,” very frequently, for a good reason. Because it’s the kind of roof you put on when you really want to invest in the house and it’s the house that you’re going to be in for the long haul. If it’s a short-term house for you, I probably would not recommend a metal roof because I don’t think you’ll get the value out of it when you sell. Certainly, you’ll get some value out of it but I don’t think you’ll get the cost of it. But if you’re like, “Listen, this is the house I’m going to be in for the next 20 or 30 years, maybe longer. I want to really do something that’s going to stand up with literally no maintenance,” then maybe a metal roof is for you.
Aesthetically, they’re beautiful. They come in all sorts of colors, all sorts of designs and they can really make your house stand out. But they are costly. Probably, I would say two to three times the cost of an asphalt-shingle roof.
LESLIE: Carol wrote in and she is tired of cleaning mold on her bath walls. She’s asking, “Is there something that I can use to cover the walls that I can wipe off easily? I really don’t want to tile the walls and have to deal with the grout. I just don’t want to deal with the grout. Is there anything you can suggest?”
TOM: I get it, I get it.
LESLIE: Well, Carol doesn’t want to deal with the grout, so what else can she put on a bathroom wall?
TOM: OK. So, I’m thinking, for tile walls, a good option might be one of the shower/tub surround kits. They come in – well, it depends on the style, but they usually come in about three pieces. So two ends and a back. And they glue right to the old walls. So, in this case, on top of the tile.
And once they’re in place, they look pretty good. It’s kind of hard to tell it’s not a one-piece unit when you see it. And they’re not terribly expensive. And they’re a heck of a lot easier to clean than tile walls. So I think that’s a good option for you.
But generally speaking, if you make sure you have a vent fan in that bathroom and that you put it on a humidistat so that it runs a little bit longer than it has to, when it’s moist and damp in there, that will also reduce the humidity and stop that mold growth from happening. So I think those two things are definitely good options.
LESLIE: Yeah, Carol. I mean cleaning the bathroom tile definitely is a project. But if you control the moisture, like Tom said, that’s definitely going to cut down on the mold growth. Heck, it might even get rid of it completely. And then you can have beautiful tile and not worry about cleaning the grout. And I promise you, it’s not so terrible. Seal it. You won’t have to do it.
TOM: Well, uncovering your outdoor furniture is definitely a fun way to mark the start of warmer weather. But that furniture usually brings some pretty gross stuff with it. That’s why Leslie has got tips on how to get those tables and chairs back in shape, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, even if that furniture has been in your shed or your basement all winter long, your outdoor furniture could probably use a good cleaning anyhow.
So, if the furniture you’ve got is plastic, you want to mix a little dish soap, some Borax, and ½-cup of peroxide into 1 gallon of water. Now you want to let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes and then use a nylon brush to scrub it onto the plastic pieces. And you want to make sure that you rinse well when you’re finished. And that’s going to make that plastic shine and look fresh and clean.
Now, for metal furnishings, you want to use soapy water and our favorite cleaning agent: good, old-fashioned elbow grease. You are going to work for this, guys. If rust has formed, you need to remove it first with sandpaper and then repaint the entire piece with a rust-prohibiting paint or metal varnish. Definitely, it’s going to take some work.
Wood furniture, you need to oil the surfaces with a sealant or a preservative that’s appropriate to that material. You can clean the furniture a couple of times a month with an oil soap, as well.
Now, you just have to make sure you let all of that furniture dry completely before you add those cushions.
And speaking of cushions, they most likely are in need of a pick-me-up, as well. So, mix 1 teaspoon each of dishwashing detergent and Borax in a quart of warm water. Now you want to use a spray bottle to douse those cushions generously. And once it’s been on there for about 15 minutes, you want to hit it with a hose to rinse, then stand those cushions on their side. That’s super important because it really kind of helps them drain. And if the cushion itself has some sort of draining vent thing – sometimes it’s by the zippers – make sure you put it zipper-side down. Because that will just help them dry out a little quicker.
TOM: And then you can officially start spring into your house.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time in the program, after a long year of rain and snow, not to mention tree droppings, is your deck ready for the outdoor-living season ahead? We’ll share what you need to know to get it ready, 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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