- Energy Savings: This virtual tool can identify wasted energy in your home and provide info on ways to save.
- Child Safety: Unstable furniture injures or kills thousands of kids each year. This law is aimed at protecting children’s lives.
- Household Budget: How much do you need for annual home repairs and maintenance? Get tips on planning a home improvement budget.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Grout: Is it a good idea to use white grout? Christine was told it’s not, but it depends on the type of grout and how grout is sealed and maintained.
- Electrical Fuses: Strings of Christmas lights blew the fuses in Dan’s historic house. LED lights would be brighter and more cost-effective, plus allow him to hang multiple strands.
- Kitchen Remodel: Dot checks in with us to give an update on how well her kitchen remodeling project turned out.
- Asbestos Tiles: Are asbestos tile floors a health hazard? We assure Justin that it’s fine to leave the intact tiles alone, level needed areas with a self-leveling compound, and install new vinyl or laminate flooring over them.
- Porch Renovation: Marla wants to screen in the porch of her old house. But working around the 22 supporting columns makes it a huge project that will modify the architectural style.
- Prefabricated Construction: John wants to know if prefabricated construction is the best option for building a guest house. We agree it offers lots of advantages, including faster turnaround and better quality control.
- Gutter Guards: What are the best kind of gutter guards for keeping out leaves? We suggest that Risa look into gutter guards with a thin mesh and do her research on contractors.
- HVAC Condensation: Is that ceiling stain coming from a leaky roof or an air-conditioning unit in the attic? It’s probably HVAC condensation during the humid months, so Mike just needs to prime and repaint the stain to see if it returns.
- Staining a Deck: Jeanie is trying to find a deck stain that doesn’t need to be redone every year. We recommend using a solid color, solvent-based stain that will last longer.
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 the projects you want to get done around your house. Is there a project on your to-do list for the days, the weeks ahead? It’s still a little chilly out but spring will be here before you know it. And that’s when we get to take the gloves off – or put them on – and get going with home improvement projects around the house.
If you’ve got something you’re planning, we can give you some tips, some ideas, some advice on how you can get it done quickly, efficiently, save some money and have it come out even better than you imagined. So reach out to us with your questions, starting right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or post your questions to MoneyPit.com by clicking the blue microphone button.
Coming up on today’s show, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to tour around your house and know exactly where all that extra energy is being wasted? Well, there’s a new tool out now from the Department of Energy that helps you do exactly that. We’re going to explain how it works and how it can reveal which home improvements will save you the most money and energy.
LESLIE: And also coming up, unstable dressers that tip over and injure or even kill young children are tragically a common statistic. That’s why there’s a new law that’s seeking to save lives with mandatory furniture standards to prevent those tip-over dangers. We’re going to share the details, just ahead.
TOM: And also ahead, if you own a home, nobody likes surprises, like when things break down unexpectedly. But by setting a realistic household budget for home maintenance, you can reduce those little surprises – or some of the big ones – as well as the expensive emergency repair. So we’re going to have a rule of thumb to help you know exactly how much to save, just ahead.
LESLIE: But first, are you guys dreaming about a project that you’d like to tackle this year? Well, if you can dream it, you can for sure do it. And Team Money Pit can definitely help you get those projects done. We’ve got ideas to help you save money, get that project started, get that project finished and help you out all along the way. So definitely give us a call.
TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT – that’s 888-666-3974 – or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Christine on the line who’s got a question about grout.
What is going on at your money pit?
CHRISTINE: So, I have a renovation going on and one bathroom has white shower tile and white floor tile. And I wanted to use white grout on both the shower wall and the floor. My architect says, “Don’t use white. It’ll get so dirty so fast.” My boss says she has two rooms and they’re both all white grout and they don’t get dirty. And then there was somebody else who said – you know, there’s opinions on both sides.
CHRISTINE: I want to know, what is the right answer?
Well, Leslie, I think it really comes down to the type of grout. If it’s sand grout, it’s much more likely to get dirty than if it’s an epoxy grout, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. And it also depends if you treat it after the grout is applied. There are some steps you can take to make sure that once the grout is applied, it can stay cleaner longer. And there’s different ways that you can apply that grout sealer, as well.
CHRISTINE: OK. So …
LESLIE: Taking notes?
CHRISTINE: I am. I am.
TOM: So we think that white’s probably a fine choice. And yes, there may be a bit more maintenance. But if you do seal – if it’s sand grout, like the whiter grout joints for the floor and you seal those properly, you minimize that. And for the tile walls, if you use an epoxy grout then you really have no worries, because that’s just as – almost as easy to clean as the tile itself.
CHRISTINE: Oh, OK. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Dan on the line calling us from Madison, Mississippi.
How can we help you today at The Money Pit?
DAN: I’ve decorated several homes. And just recently, I was at my mom’s down in Woodville, Mississippi decorating her house. She has a house that’s on the National Registry on Main Street. And we did her Christmas tree and we used, probably, 12 strands of lights and it was gorgeous. And we left the room for 15 minutes, came back and every one of the lights were out.
TOM: Did you blow a fuse?
DAN: I didn’t know anything about the fuses being in the wires. And I didn’t know that there was a maximum numbers of strings (inaudible).
TOM: Well, you do now. You do now.
DAN: Yes, sir. I do. So, I did not know that there were the fuses. So I began to take all the lights off and try and start over. Yes, sir.
DAN: So I know that you all can give me some great advice on that subject. And I wanted to call you because I listen to you all every Saturday morning on the way to work in Jackson, Mississippi.
TOM: That’s awesome. Yeah, well, when it comes to those holiday light strings, if they’re incandescent, even if they’re the mini-bulbs, you usually can’t put more than about three of them together before you start to risk blowing the fuses. And as you’ve discovered, the fuses are the tiniest, little things and they’re mounted inside the male end of the fuse plug. And you have to open those up, pop them out and replace them.
A better option would have been to go with LED strings, which are so widely available today. In fact, I bought one just today to replace an incandescent line of mini-bulbs that had burned out, for 9 bucks, 100 bulbs. You can’t beat it. They’re super bright and you could put about 12 to 15 of those strings together and not have to ever worry about blowing a fuse.
DAN: My partner is big on the LEDs. He’s our “tech guy,” I call him. And he was saying we needed to switch everything over to LEDs because it’s so much cheaper, you know?
DAN: Also, with the cost-effectiveness and everything – I have found that I buy a lot of my decorations. I work for Goodwill Industries and you would be shocked at these amazing deals you can find on Christmas decorations at your local Goodwill stores.
TOM: Right. Oh, I bet, huh.
DAN: I don’t know if a lot of people know that or not.
TOM: Huh. How about that? Well, that’s a really good point.
DAN: That’s probably one of the number-one items we have donated at Goodwill stores.
TOM: Hey, well, why not? That’s a great – it’s a great place to get your décor.
DAN: It is, it is. So …
TOM: And even for anything else you want to upcycle throughout the year, there’s great furniture there that with a little paint and TLC could take on a whole second life.
DAN: It surely can. So stick with the three strands, change out the fuses and upgrade next year is you all’s advice.
TOM: Yep. Alright, alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
DAN: Thank you all. I certainly appreciate it.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to catch back up with Dot in Arizona who we gave some ideas on her kitchen remodel. And we want to hear how it went.
Dot, what’s going on?
DOT: Our electrician came and he ended up tooling out a hole in the concrete slab and running conduit through it and made our pass-through – what used to be a peninsula, turned it into an island for us. So we got it all solved.
TOM: Oh, that’s great. So, in other words, you were trying to put down laminate floor and you were wondering how to get the wiring from one side of the kitchen over to the island which, by its very nature, is an island. So you had to do that in a way that would be invisible.
DOT: Very good.
TOM: Well, that was probably a lot of work for the electrician but I’m glad it worked out.
DOT: It did. It worked out great. He did a super job. But I listen to your show and I appreciate you guys.
TOM: Alright. Take care. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Justin on the line, who is from Philly but living in D.C., with a question for The Money Pit.
How can we help you?
JUSTIN: So I just got a new house in D.C. Got a great foundation. It’s a lot of home to love and a lot of home to fix, so we’re just getting started on that.
JUSTIN: And the basement, while in good condition from the moisture perspective, does have asbestos tile and that asbestos seems to have been raised up in some points, at different – due to construction from previous tenants for the house. Looks like they did some electric work, so you see that black mastic and you have the asbestos tile. I’m getting it tested now, actually.
So, I wanted to know – I don’t want to try to do a self-leveling compound over it or anything, because it’s – I would basically have to self-level compound the entire basement. And then the next people living in this house might get a surprise in the future when they’re trying to do construction themselves.
JUSTIN: So I wanted to know, what’s the best way to go about this? Because it seems to be very prohibitively – the entire probably 800-square-foot basement, when I’m getting some estimates from people, it looks like it’s going to be 4,000, 5,000 bucks. And I’m willing to put that type of investment in if it’s the right thing to do, because we want to put down some floating vinyl – luxury vinyl – flooring or something like that. And just want to get your input.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, the asbestos tile, we’re talking about vinyl asbestos tile. And isn’t it reasonably intact, in terms of its condition right now?
JUSTIN: Much of it is. And then there’s one room – it’s a two-room with a hallway type of basement. One room, they had to do some electric work or something. They clearly dug up a lot of it and then put something over where they dug up. And so there’s one part where it looks like they did some damage but then they tried to do some repair to reduce the damage, that type of thing. But yes.
TOM: Is the floor itself pretty flat?
JUSTIN: The floor itself is – I haven’t put a level to it but it looks relatively flat, except for that part where it’s repaired.
TOM: Did the work, right.
JUSTIN: Yeah. And it’s very not level there. Probably maybe ½-centimeter, centimeter in difference.
TOM: OK. Well, first of all, the type of asbestos that you’re describing is asbestos that’s held inside of a vinyl binder. When you have asbestos in an old house that was used – like heating pipe on old steam pipes that looks kind of like a corrugated cardboard but it’s white. Or sometimes, you see it on old ducts where it looks almost like it was covered with a plaster cloth. Those types of asbestos products are much more likely to release asbestos fibers into the air.
And when you’re talking about asbestos tile or cement-asbestos shingle, like you might see on the outside of the house, you have a far lower chance of being exposed on the asbestos with that kind of product, because it’s just held by the binder. It’s not friable, it’s not deteriorated.
If I had that on the floor, I would leave it alone. I would put my new flooring right on top of it. I would not take it up because by taking it up, you risk breaking some of those fibers loose. I don’t really see any reason to do it. It’s pretty thin stuff. And you could put a luxury-vinyl floor, like an extruded-vinyl plank, right on top of that.
But I will say that regardless of what you do about the asbestos, when you get to that area that is not level, there you may need to do some floor-leveling compound. Because those vinyl products are not very forgiving to uneven floors and they tend to have a lot of difficulty with the joints – the tongue-and-groove locking joints – sticking together when the floor gets a little out of control like that. The other option, of course, would be laminate floor, which is a little more sturdy in terms of the locking joints. But the vinyl plank does really, really well.
I was just speaking with a friend of mine this weekend who called in the midst of a basement vinyl-plank project. She had bought all the vinyl planking from one store and she was snapping it together. And she says, “It’s not staying together. I get three boards down and the other end comes out.” So after confirming that she was absolutely positive they were putting it together the right way, I said, “Stop what you’re doing. Take it back to the store.”
And it was hard because you get a head of steam going, you really want to finish this project. But at that point, that particular product just was not suitable for this location. And I said, “Put it back in the box, take it back to the store and you need to buy a better product.” I sent her over to Lumber Liquidators, because I had actually used one of their luxury vinyl-plank products there. It was called CoreLuxe, I think. And I used it in my mom’s kitchen and she was thrilled with the result. And I found that it was pretty easy to work with.
But I think I would just tend to go right on top of that asbestos vinyl tile. I would not pull it up.
JUSTIN: And you’d try doing the self-leveling compound? You wouldn’t try using – I know they come in with the hazmats and all that to try to pull it up. You would not …
TOM: Why would you go through all that trouble? Now, I mean that one area? No, I would just try to get whatever I had in there done to make it work. And it may not even be compound; you might even fill in some of it with a solid material so that you have less compound to do. You know, that’s where the craftsmanship part of the job comes in.
But in terms of that floor, I don’t think I would take the asbestos vinyl. I don’t think there’s a big risk even having it in the house because, again, it’s not loose, it’s not deteriorated. It’s not likely to be released to the air. I think the risk happens when you start tearing it all up.
JUSTIN: Yeah, I was only worried because it may not only be the tile but it might also be the mastic that needs – but both are OK. Yeah. OK, yeah, that was kind of what I was feeling but I also wanted peace of mind like, oh, maybe I should remove it. I’m not sure.
TOM: Well, you don’t want to pull the loose thread on the suit, you know what I mean? Sometimes, it comes right out and sometimes the whole thing comes apart. So I would stay away from that and I would just go right over it.
This is why we call home improvement an “adventure,” because you never know how it’s going to end up.
JUSTIN: Yeah, for sure. For sure. We’re looking forward to doing it, though.
TOM: Alright. Well, listen, good luck with that project. And let us know how you make out, Justin, OK?
JUSTIN: Yeah, will do. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Well, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to tour around your house and know exactly where energy is being wasted? There’s a new tool out from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that can help you do just that.
TOM: Yeah. It’s an interactive tool. It’s called the Energy Efficient House Tool. And it’s online and it allows consumers to virtually go throughout a house and explore ways to save energy and money throughout the entire space.
Now, the tour is really beneficial as a tool for anybody who wants to know which area of their home is going to provide the most benefit from an energy-saving improvement. Like maybe you’re trying to decide between windows and a new water heater or more insulation. It will tell you what the benefit is on a product-by-product basis.
LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s super easy to use. Now, the tool is going to let you click on different areas of the home to learn how to save money and energy in that specific spot. In many cases, it tells you how much energy you’ll save or at what point making an improvement makes sense.
So, for example, if you were thinking about replacing that water heater with maybe a tankless model, now the tool will explain that this would only make sense if you use 41 gallons of water a day. Otherwise, it’s smart to stick with a regular tank-type of water heater. So it definitely gives you workable examples there so you can really figure out how it best plays into your home.
TOM: Yeah. There’s even a whole section that’s called Energy Efficient Window Attachments. So, what’s a window attachment? Well, they’re talking about window films or even awnings. And that’s going to help you determine where those improvements really make sense.
So check out the interactive Energy Efficient House Tool at EnergySaver.gov – EnergySaver.gov – and see how it can help you in making those important decisions.
LESLIE: Marla in Louisiana is on the line and has a question about a porch.
What’s going on?
MARLA: I have an old house built in 1910. It has about 22 columns on the porches. A two-story. And my question is: if I want to take in part of my porch downstairs and screen it in or just take it in and make a sunroom, how can I do that with those huge columns in the way? Because they are not a perfect shape and they’re round. And they have the big, Corinthian, beautiful caps on top. So, how would I do that? Would I have to take the columns off and just box in the porch?
TOM: Marla, that is a huge project.
Leslie, if she [has just] (ph) 22 columns on that house now – I mean columns like that, they’re not designed to be boxed in. Plus, I’m sure those columns are probably holding up a good portion of the roof.
So to even disassemble and move them, you would need to support what’s behind it. And if you were to kind of square them off, I think it would ruin the architectural view of the house right now. So, I think the best thing for you to do is to talk with an architect and have them redesign the front of the house to get closer to what you want to do.
This style does not lend itself to modification. I think it would be kind of odd to have a screened-in porch sort of shoved into a space that is covered by all those columns.
What do you think, Leslie?
LESLIE: The columns definitely are part of what makes that house the architectural style. So by changing that, you’re definitely modifying the look of the house. And what else do you have to do to sort of accommodate that new look so it doesn’t seem like a mishmosh (ph) of styles? So I think there’s a lot to be done there. It’s just a matter of sticking with an architectural style you like and making sure that’s consistent. And to do so, you definitely need an architect to help you along the way.
TOM: Yeah, this is not an easy porch to enclose, because you’re completely changing the style of the house. So I think that’s the best place for you to start.
LESLIE: John in Missouri is on the line and is needing some help purchasing a new money pit.
How can we help you?
JOHN: Me and my wife are planning on building a guest house on our property and we were wondering if it’d be better to build from the ground up or to have a prefabricated house built.
TOM: Well, either is a really good option. You know, the advantage of prefab homes is that they go together much more quickly. And there’s various levels of prefabrication. You can get a home built in sections or you can get a panelized home where the walls are assembled. And I’ve seen many of these homes go together and they’re extremely well built.
Building a lot of these things at a factory gives you the ability to control a lot of things it’s hard to control on the site: accuracy of all the cutting and the measurements and the humidity of the wood and that sort of thing. I think either way, you really can’t go wrong. And building it prefab would bring it together quicker if that’s something that you’re interested in.
JOHN: Nice. Ah, thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us, John, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and let us know how that build goes.
JOHN: Thank you.
LESLIE: Well, for years, hundreds of young children have been killed and thousands more have been injured by unstable furniture toppling over on top of them. On average, tipped furniture or falling televisions sent a child to the emergency room every 24 minutes. This is nuts. Now, if you’ve got kids, you all want to know about a new law aimed specifically at preventing these deadly accidents that occur all too often.
TOM: Yeah. It’s called the STURDY Act, which stands for Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth. I’ve got to give it to the government and their acronyms, right?
LESLIE: It’s a really clever one.
TOM: That’s a mouthful.
But anyway, the law sets mandatory safety standards for all dressers and similar products that are made or sold in the United States. It was passed after years of investigations by Consumer Reports and advocacy from parents groups, including accident survivors and those who lost their own children. Previously, there were only somewhat weaker voluntary safety standards in place. But now, it’s the law.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, the law is establishing rules for dresser sturdiness and strengthening testing requirements. Now, dresser safety will need to reflect real-world use, like resting on carpets, containing the weight of clothing and standing with multiple drawers open while remaining stable. And if you’re looking to furnish your home, you’ve got to look for strong warning labels that have also been mandated.
TOM: Yeah. And if you’re buying new furniture, it’s probably going to come with a brace that will attach that furniture to the wall. But if you have existing furniture, you can buy those braces or straps. And basically, what they do is they attach to the furniture and then they attach to the wall. So if the furniture starts to tip in that direction, the brace or the strap will hold it back and preventing it from falling over and potentially hurting someone very seriously.
LESLIE: Yeah. I remember I bought a dresser not too long ago – last year, as a matter of fact – from IKEA. And I had to sign something saying that I was receiving the anchor and that I would use it. And I guess also releasing them from liability.
TOM: Yeah. And I will say that IKEA has been providing those safety straps for years and years and years. And I remember when our kids were very young, they still had those in the package. Of course, nobody knew what they were for back then. I did, of course, and always out them in but a lot of folks didn’t. And they’re so important. I’m really glad to see that we’re finally getting some legislation to hold manufacturers responsible for this, because it’s really a very critical thing to do.
LESLIE: Risa (sp) in Oregon, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RISA (sp): Well, I need someone to recommend a really good gutter guard so that I don’t have to keep cleaning my gutters all the time. Because every time we’re up there, it gets more dangerous because we’re getting older. And they keep getting clogged because we have big trees around our house. We have maple, ash and big firs. And so, consequently, you’ve got tiny, little needles; pointy, little seeds; and big, flat, wide ones.
TOM: OK. Well, there’s a number of different types of gutter guards. And on MoneyPit.com, we have a very popular article that kind of walks you through the different types and tells you whether or not they’re worth it or not.
The type of gutter guard that I seem to like the best are the ones that are mesh – a really, thin mesh that has tiny holes in it – that are permanently attached to the gutters themselves. And then the water basically runs through it and the leaves kind of wash off it. So, I’ve had good success with that type of gutter guard, personally. So that’s something that you might want to look into.
They also have different types of nylon gutter guards or one called – we call it the “bottle brush” where the brush sort of lays in the gutter. But the kind that are mesh, I think, seem to work the best. There’s a number of manufacturers out there that do that.
And then the second type I would look at is called the “reverse curve.” That’s a piece of metal that goes up under the roof shingle and over the top of the gutter. And basically, because water will sort of hug that gutter guard, it will run into the gutter and the leaves will wash over the top.
But if you go to MoneyPit.com and search for “Cost of Gutter Guards: Are They Worth It?” you’ll find that story. It’ll walk you through all the options.
RISA (sp): Well, I can try. But the biggest problem I’ve had is the big, fat maple leaves. Because they just stick to just about every gutter thing I’ve tried and then the water goes over them.
TOM: I bet. Yeah, yeah. Right. Well, I’m telling you, I think you – a lot of the gutter guards that are out there, that you find at home centers, just don’t work very well. But I’ve found that the reverse curve and the mesh gutter guards seem to be the best.
I will caution you, though: one sort of problem I have with the gutter-guard industry is they tend to try to hard-sell you on these systems. So I would just make sure I find a very reputable company to deal with on that.
I remember having a very bad experience, some years ago, where I was just strolling down the boardwalk in New Jersey and there was a home show going on. And there was a gentleman there that was – just kind of pulled me out of the crowd, wanted to sell me on gutter guards. And so I just kind of let him talk and man, I could not get him to tell me how much his product cost. He kept trying to get my wife and I home in the house, at the same time, so that he could try to close the deal.
And I’m saying, “Look, what if I had a 60-foot ranch with one-story house with 4 leaders and a gutter on the front and back?” I was trying to think of the simplest gutter job I could think of. Even then, he could not – or probably more accurately, would not – quote me what his prices were. So that’s a problem. It shouldn’t be that hard to figure this out. So just be careful in making sure you find a good guy.
Head on over to HomeAdvisor.com and read the reviews on the roofing contractors there. I’m sure you could find one through that site.
RISA (sp): I will. I’ll check yours first and go to the next one.
TOM: Alright. Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
RISA (sp): Thank you.
LESLIE: Mike in Missouri is on the line with a roofing question.
What is going on at your house?
MIKE: OK. My problem is I have a stain on my ceiling, in my second-floor hallway, which is directly underneath my A/C unit. I went up in the attic, I look on the roof and I was thinking maybe it was blowing in the ridge vent. I looked all around the beams. I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t see any water but I noticed the A/C unit itself, it kind of seemed like there was condensation on it. And there were little rust spots on the corner.
MIKE: The house is only about 8 years old.
TOM: What I think is going on is one of two possibilities. If it is condensation, it can happen in the winter but it has nothing to do with the A/C system.
TOM: When you go up in the attic, here’s a home inspector’s trick of the trade. I learned something in 20 years doing this.
TOM: When you look up on the underside of the roof sheathing, you’re going to see the nails that come through it from the shingles.
TOM: If the tips of those nails are rusty, then you have got a lot of vapor pressure, a lot of condensation and humidity that’s building up in the attic, forming that condensation and dripping down. That’s one way you can get water drips on the ceiling.
I think, however, it’s more likely, given its position, that this was either condensation or a condensate link that happened during the air-conditioning season. It may not even be active anymore. I’ve had condensation problems that I’ve seen happen because you had a particularly humid month and you’ve got a lot of moisture forming on ducts that actually leaked through the ceilings below. But when the conditions change, it goes away.
What I would tell you to do is to prime over that section of stain with something like KILZ. Because if you just paint over it, the stain will continue to come through. You’ve got to seal it. So I would prime it and paint over it now and see if it comes back. It might just have been a one-time thing. And I suspect it’s more likely it has to do with the A/C but you can eliminate the possibility of the roof sheathing by looking for those rusty nail tips. I would go with that theory before I started to explore any other far less likely causes for this.
LESLIE: It’s always a good idea to start a rainy-day fund for your house. So if it rains and the roof leaks, you’ve got some money set aside for those repairs. But how much do you need? Well, here’s a good rule of thumb: try to set aside about one percent of your home’s value to cover a year’s worth of repairs and maintenance. So if your home is worth $300,000, you should plan on spending about $3,000 on it over the course of a year.
TOM: Now, that is just for minor repairs and maintenance; it doesn’t include the big expenses you should anticipate every once in a while, like a new heating system, a new air conditioning system, a new roof, a new water heater and so on. If those components are aging from the start, it’s a good idea to set aside even more.
And lastly, when it comes to appliances, it is often cheaper to replace them than to repair them. If you want to see a quick reference on when repair versus replacement makes sense, check out our article, “Appliance Repair or Replace.” It’s on MoneyPit.com. We’ve got an easy reference chart there to help you decide if it’s even worth making that effort.
LESLIE: Jeannie, you’ve got The Money Pit. What are you working on?
JEANNIE: We moved into a house that had a big deck around the house. And so we ended up taking all the boards off because the old boards had never been treated with anything. So we put the boards and everything on and then we go – we went to Lowe’s, Home Depot and all that to find a stain that we could put – or a liquid that we could put on there that we wouldn’t have to do it every year. It was an oil-based stain.
JEANNIE: We put it on there and they said, “Well, you shouldn’t have to do it every year, you know. You should be able to go 3 or 4 years.” And every year, we’ve had to redo it because our deck has been in the sun all the time.
TOM: Yeah. Is that right? Hmm.
TOM: I’m not sure what product you’re using but there’s a wide variety, when it comes to stains, that you can choose from. And what we generally recommend is solid-color stain. And what most people get is semi-transparent stain.
So, what I would tell you to do is the next time, make sure you prep that deck really well, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. But I would apply a solid-color, solvent-based stain, not water-base. Solvent-based stain. That has a lot of pigment in it. And what that will do is you will still see the grain but it will actually last a lot longer, in terms of how it stands up to that surface. Solid color, not semi-transparent. And I think you’ll see a significantly different result.
JEANNIE: OK. Well, I listened to you on Saturday morning and I was – thought, “Well, I’ll ask them.”
TOM: Alright. Well, we’re certainly glad you did and we hope that works out. Perfect time now to do that to the deck, get it ready for spring.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Rick in Washington reached out to Team Money Pit and needs us to settle a difference of opinion here. He says, “I need a new front door and wondered, can I just get a front door alone? Or do I have to replace the sidelights and the whole assembly? I’m getting several different opinions on that and would really like your guidance.”
TOM: So, Rick, certainly there’s no reason that you could not replace just the front door itself. But that said, this becomes a much more complicated carpentry project if you do.
First, you’ve got to find a door that fits that opening. And presuming that you do find it, the hinges are probably not going to line up, the handle’s not going to line up, the deadbolt’s not going to line up. So you’re going to have a lot of work to sort of rehang that and reshape that.
Typically, the door will be slightly bigger and will have to be shaved down. Because remember, the old door took years to kind of find its position. And now replacing it’s going to mean that you’ve got to find a new door to fit that exact same spot. And especially difficult if the one side has moved more than the other and it’s a bit of a saggy situation.
So, the other option, though, is to replace the entire door unit. And if you do that, you know that everything fits together, everything seals well. You’re not going to have leaks from water, you’re not going to have leaks from air and draft. So I think – unless I had a situation where it was an old house and I really wanted to preserve that integrity, so I was kind of replacing maybe one nasty, old, wood cracked door with a new one – I think I would probably do the same thing. And in fact, I did that twice in my house and I was satisfied with the result.
LESLIE: Alright. And there’s so many new options. You can really change the whole look of the front of the house and it would be gorgeous.
TOM: Well, if you enjoy a nice glass of wine, you may have dreamt about the opportunity to have a wine cellar. But wine cellars are no longer just for the chosen few. And frankly, you don’t even need to have a cellar to store your wine. Leslie has got tips for creating a space, no matter what kind of house you have, to store that wine in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. When you’ve got a great wine and you store it well, it can actually age into an even more interesting and sometimes more valuable vintage. But according to the experts at the Sydney Home Show, you don’t always have to have a wine cellar to properly store that wine. So we’ve got a few tips here to help.
First of all, you always want to store the wine somewhere dark. Because sunlight is going to be wine’s worst enemy because those UV rays can prematurely age that wine. So keep the wine away from windows and sun rooms.
If you’ve ordered wine online, say or by the case from the store, that wine often arrives in a box. If it’s possible, keep the wine in the box, especially if it’s made of Styrofoam, because it’s going to help minimize the effects of temperature fluctuations.
Now, speaking of temperature, you want to kind of find a spot that has even temperature. Cooler is going to be better, more optimal for storing wine. But the most important thing is that you store it somewhere with an even temperature. So that’s going to rule out your kitchen, the laundry room, the boiler room. I mean even keeping it in a cupboard in one of those rooms kind of rules out those spaces because they fluctuate so much in the heat.
Now, you also want to keep the bottles in one position. Once you’ve found somewhere to store the wine, don’t move them around every now and then. If it’s a bottle with a cork, you want to store it on its side so the cork can stay in constant contact with the wine and not dry out.
And another thing to consider is humidity. Now, humidity in wines under cork, anywhere between 50-percent and 80-percent humidity is considered good. But you have to avoid extremely damp conditions because that can promote mold. So it’s kind of a delicate balance. But there are some places that you can find in your home, without a cellar, to store that wine and be able to enjoy it for years to come.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, when you think about threats to your home, fire and floods generally kind of top the list of the safety concerns. But the fact is during winter, hail can actually wreak pretty serious havoc on its own. So we’re going to share tips on how you can handle hail damage, including tips on how to get your insurance company to cover it, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2023 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.)
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