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: Standing by to help you take on your home improvement or décor project. Help yourself first: pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s program, do you ever feel like you’re always having trouble finding the tool you’re looking for? Well, if your workshop space is cluttered or disorganized or maybe even overflowing, a regular toolbox might not be cutting it. We’re going to have some helpful tips for tool organization, coming up.
LESLIE: And do you have friends on Facebook that love to brag, brag, brag about their latest home improvement project? Well, our guest this hour decided to share his DIY creations and adventures through a blog, rather than bore his friends with those constant braggy Facebook posts. And he’s become very successful as a result. Greg Navage of The Navage Patch blog will be by for a visit.
TOM: And is there a painting project in your future? Well, before you choose the color, you’d better learn how to choose the right paintbrush for the project. We’ll tell you how.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the brand-new Mr. Beams Home Safety and Security Lighting Bundle, including the new Mr. Beams High-Performance Security Light and NetBright version of the same light. And that’s going to enable up to 50 lights to come on when just one detects motion.
TOM: The Security Lights sell for 49.99 and 69.99 but Mr. Beams is including even more lights in this prize package, for a total value of over 169 bucks. So, give us a call right now. We will answer your home improvement project and maybe even shed some light on your home with this fabulous prize package from Mr. Beams. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Carol in Texas is working on a painting project. How can we lend a hand?
CAROL: We are painting our bathroom cabinets. They are – they were put in the bathroom in 1980-something. I’m not sure about the date. We bought this house – the people lived in it 28 years and we’ve been here almost 9 years. And they’re kind of a maple color and they’re not very attractive. I’ve used that Orange Glo on them trying to make them look better. I don’t know what they used on them. Probably Liquid Gold or something trying to bring out the sheen.
But it’s just almost beyond the point. And I’d like to have new cabinets but when we do, we’re probably going to have to redo the whole bathroom, so we decided we would paint them kind of an off-white color.
What we want to know is: what’s the approach to making that paint stay on?
LESLIE: Now, you said that the cabinets are a maple color. Are they actually wood and they’re stained?
CAROL: Yeah, that’s the stain on them. They’re stained.
LESLIE: So they’re stained wood. It’s not like a Thermofoil that looks like wood or a laminate? It’s wood.
CAROL: No, it’s real wood. They’re real wood cabinets.
LESLIE: Now, if they’ve been stained and restained over the course of a couple of years and you’ve got a lot of coatings of a cleaner on there, your best bet would be – and this is how I would kind of tackle it. I would remove the doors and the drawer fronts, being very careful about labeling which goes where, you know? A little piece of painters tape on the back side and a little piece on the hinge saying, “A-A,” or “1-1,” just so you know exactly where things go back.
And I would leave the hinges either on the door or on the box. It’s kind of easier to leave them on the box, just for painting issues. And this way, you know exactly where everything goes back; that just kind of keeps things tidy.
And then, you really need to get some of that sheen off. So you could do it a couple of different ways. You could use something that’s like a liquid sandpaper that you wipe on that gets rid of some of that sheen. But if it’s a super-high gloss and they’ve been oiled or polished over the years and they’re very sort of gunked up, almost, with a lot of finish on them, you may want to sand them down a little bit. Because you need to get down to something that’s a little bit not so glossy and so built up from years of cleaning and just the yuck that happens in the bathroom, just so that you’ve got a surface that the paint’s going to stick to.
And once you’ve done that to the doors or drawer fronts and the boxes themselves in the bathroom, you need to prime it very well with a high-quality primer. I would use KILZ or Zinsser – one of those that’ll stick very, very well – let that dry very thoroughly and then go ahead with your topcoat paint. And because it’s in a bathroom and because it’s a high-moisture area and it’s something that you’re going to want to be cleaning a lot, I would go with a glossy finish and an oil base if I can get my hands on one. If not, a glossy latex will do the trick but more durable, of course, would be the oil base.
CAROL: Thank you and I appreciate your help.
TOM: Carol, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jack in Delaware on the line who’s dealing with a whistling noise coming from his HVAC system and he thinks it’s the furnace.
Hey, Jack. What can we do for you?
JACK: My problem is this. I’m 67 years old. I’ve never had this as – or all the houses I’ve ever owned. But when the heat is on, it sounds like a jet plane taking off through the air ducts. Mostly up in the loft but you can hear it everywhere. So if you’re laying in a bed in the bedroom, in the loft site, and the heat comes on, it can wake you up because it’ll make like a whistling sound.
So I called – because it is guaranteed for a year so, naturally, I called them to come take a look at this. I wasn’t home; my wife was. And then when I got home, she said, “They said everything’s fine.” Well, it’s not. So I want to call them back and I’m going to be here when they come back. But I don’t want to sound stupid and I want to make sure I can ask the right question.
TOM: Well, the reason it’s doing that is – it has to do with the installation of the duct system. It’s a design issue. And with some systems, if the ducts, perhaps, are too small, they have too many turns in them, they’re not smooth in terms of their transition from room to room to room, you’re going to get a buildup of pressure that makes this worse.
So, this is a problem of installation.
TOM: It might be that this is a higher-efficiency furnace that has a higher flow than, perhaps, other ones. You might want to talk to them about whether or not the fan speed can be adjusted. I don’t know if that will impact it. But it’s really the duct system, not the furnace, that’s causing the problem. The furnace would probably be quite silent if it wasn’t hooked up to the ducts.
JACK: Yeah. And of course, if they didn’t fix - any ductwork would be just like – they wouldn’t do that.
TOM: I would bring it up with them. But the thing is, you’re not going to be able to rely on any kind of warranty on this. Are you talking about the new homeowner’s warranty – a new homebuyer’s warranty?
JACK: Yes, yes.
TOM: Yeah. In a lot of cases, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. I know a lot about those programs and I’ve got to tell you, they cover builders only if builders get an F. They don’t cover A, B, C and D, you know what I mean? Unless it’s really bad, that’s when maybe something kicks in and even so, the coverage is just not good and the programs are just not solid. I used to arbitrate for some of those years ago and I remember horrific defects that weren’t covered. So, I have no faith in those programs.
You might be better off dealing directly with the builder than trying to go through the warranty company. Because the warranty company is going to have a very specific set of standards that says what is and what isn’t covered. And you’re not required to necessarily, in most cases, go through the warranty company. You can go direct to the builder. And if you’re loud enough and persistent enough, you might get it fixed.
JACK: That’s what – I am going to do that; I definitely want to go to the builder first. I just wanted to go to the builder armed with some kind of knowledge. See, right off the bat, you helped me because I thought it was the furnace.
TOM: No, it’s the duct system that’s causing this.
JACK: Alright. One more thing about the furnace. I won’t hold you. When the air conditioning was on last summer, I had to have a little bucket under this one pipe because it kept dripping. And I called them back about that and they said, “Oh, the insulation around this copper pipe wasn’t tight enough.” And so he did something – and again, I wasn’t home – and left and now it doesn’t drip as bad but it still has a lot of moisture where I keep a rag underneath the thing, just so it doesn’t puddle on the floor. Of course, that’s not right, right? I mean you’re not supposed to have any moisture, correct?
TOM: No, of course it’s not. That’s an active leak even though it hasn’t gone to – become a drip. And it’s going to get worse in the summer when it’s really humid out. So it might just come back as bad as it was before.
Is this a development where there’s a lot of homes that are built?
JACK: Yes, yes. A brand-new development. It’s a 55-and-older development.
TOM: I’ve got some suggestions for you. There’s power in numbers when it comes to that. It’s easy to ignore one homeowner but if you get a few of them together that are having the same issue, it becomes a lot more difficult for the builder to ignore.
JACK: Funny you should say that. We had – one of the owners down the street wants to form a committee to have all our grievances listed and go to the builder.
TOM: Yeah, I think it’s a great idea. And also involve the building inspectors locally in the municipality. Because if the building inspectors know that there’s issues with these properties, they’re going to be a lot more careful about inspecting them. And that’s something that a builder is not going to be happy about and you might just twist his arm enough to address it.
It stinks to have to complain to get something done but sometimes, a squeaky wheel gets the grease.
JACK: Yeah, well, I’m about to become the wheel. I’m going to squeak then.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Jack. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call with your home improvement, your repair, design, décor. Whatever project you are working at your money pit, we’re here to lend a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, if you’re having trouble getting your home improvement projects done, organizing your tools can help. We’ll have tips, after this.
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.
TOM: Hey, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away the Home Safety and Security Lighting Bundle from Mr. Beams, which is worth 169 bucks. And it includes the Mr. Beams High-Performance Security Light.
This is a cool light. It runs off battery power and the batteries can last for up to a year. And it’s got two adjustable heads, so you can pretty much get the light exactly where you need it. It covers up to 800 square feet.
They sell for 49.99 and there’s a NetBright version for 69.99. And you’ll find that at retailers all across the country. But if you’d like to learn more, you can go to MrBeams.com or call them at 877-298-9082. It’s going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. That number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Cynthia from South Dakota on the line who’s got a question about a firewall. Tell us what you’re working on.
CYNTHIA: I have an old house and I’ve been ripping out the plaster walls. And I found, along this one wall – see, the whole entire house is this pretty durable and tough plaster-board stuff. And I was wondering if that is a firewall, because that seems to be where all the cold-air returns and stuff are and if I should or should not rip it out. And if I do rip it out, is there a certain kind of drywall that I should use there?
TOM: Where is this wall located exactly?
CYNTHIA: It could have been on the outside of the house at one point but it’s under the furnace.
TOM: Well, first of all, the only place that you typically would have a firewall – in other words, a fire-rated wall with a certain rating – is between the garage and the house. All the other walls and ceilings inside the homes are – usually have traditional, ½-inch drywall. If it’s an exterior – an interior/exterior wall – an inside surface of an exterior wall, like a garage wall, then you would use a 5/8-inch-thick, fire-rated drywall. But all of the other places in the house, you’d have regular plaster board – I’m sorry, regular drywall.
CYNTHIA: OK. Have you ever seen this plaster board before?
TOM: Well, sure. Now, how old is the house?
CYNTHIA: I believe it was built in 1896?
TOM: See, there’s different stages of wall construction. In 1896, you would have had something called “wood lath,” so there would be wood strips on the wall and then plaster put on top of that.
CYNTHIA: Yep. That’s on most of the walls. But this one particular wall – which could have been an outside wall at one point; I’m not sure exactly – it’s like in 2-foot strips.
TOM: Yeah, OK. So that’s a later addition. And what they did with that is when they stopped using wood lath, they started using rock lath or – you would think of sheetrock in those 2-foot-wide strips? They put that on and then covered that with wet plaster. So that’s just a more modern version of the way walls were constructed. So it went from wood lath to rock lath to sheetrock. That’s, essentially, the progression of wall construction over, roughly, the last hundred years.
CYNTHIA: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: A little lesson on building history. Hope that clears it up for you.
CYNTHIA: Yeah. Alright. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, when your tools are disorganized, it makes it really hard to get your projects done. Fortunately, you’re not alone and there are as many ways to store your tools these days as there are tools themselves.
TOM: One of the most popular trends these days are the interlocking toolboxes. Have you seen these? They’re great. They’re containers that are stackable and they work together to make storage as easy and efficient as possible. There’s even a version that DeWALT makes that attaches to a sort of hand truck so you can easily move the tools around the house or even the jobsite.
LESLIE: Yeah. Bucket storage is also very popular right now. I mean for generations, tradesmen have used buckets to carry tools around. Now you’re going to find a wide variety of inserts for that standard, 5-gallon bucket like the kind that they use for shopping at The Home Depot or for drywall compound. You can hold fasteners, hand tools, power tools and it makes it really easy to transport or even stack as long as you don’t make them too heavy.
TOM: That’s right. Now, as for work benches, Husky has got one that just came out this year that solves a problem I have always had when shopping for a bench and that is they’re too short for the tall guys. Now, they solved this by creating one that not only holds dozens of tools but it’s got sort of a butcher-block top that adjusts very easily to go up or down, depending on the height of the user. I think it goes up to be about 4 feet. So, no more sore backs. Great innovation there from Husky. If you get the tools organized, you’re going to find that those projects are going to be a lot easier to do.
If you’d like more tips, head on over to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Eddie in Delaware on the line who is dealing with a moisture situation going on. Tell us about it.
EDDIE: I’m having a moisture problem with two out of the three bathrooms. It’s a three-bathroom home. And each bathroom has an in-line exhaust fan. And this occurred last season – last winter season – and we got a really severe winter and we’re getting a lot of condensation.
I have dampers in two of the bathrooms, at the ceiling. And last season – the last winter season – I installed an additional damper after the exhaust fan – after the in-line fan in the ceiling – and I was still getting a lot of moisture, actually, at the ceiling where the sheetrock was actually falling apart. That’s how much moisture we got.
TOM: OK. First of all, right above this space, is there an attic? What’s above it?
EDDIE: Yeah. It’s an attic, yeah.
TOM: Alright. And how much insulation do you have in that attic?
EDDIE: The home is only eight years old.
TOM: So, first of all, bathrooms are sources of warm, moist air. If the temperature of the drywall is chilly, it’s going to condense and cause condensation. So you want to make sure that the attic above it, that you’ve got at least 15-20 inches of insulation between the attic and bathroom. That’s really important.
EDDIE: Oh, there is. There definitely is. And what I also did was, when I started having this problem I replaced the flexible ductwork, which was originally R6, to the maximum of R8. And I’m still getting the problem. And these two bathrooms that I’m having the problem, they are not used for showers or bathing of any sort.
TOM: The second thing I want to suggest to you is – you mentioned that you have exhaust fans in two of the three?
EDDIE: No, no. All three have their own individual, in-line exhaust fans, yes.
TOM: OK. So in-line – in other words, it’s ducted out somewhere? They’re all connected together and ducted out at once, at one point?
EDDIE: No, no. They’re not connected together; they’re all different.
TOM: They all vent on their own out the building?
TOM: And you can confirm that the vents are working? So if you turn the fan on, you go outside, you’ll see the flapper?
TOM: So, hooking them up to a humidistat/timer might not be a bad idea. Because this way, when the humidity gets high in the room it’ll automatically come on. Leviton makes such a switch, designed specifically for bath fans. And I think that might be the next step. I think we need to move more air through these rooms.
The second thing is, what’s underneath these bathrooms? Are these on the second floor or first floor? Are they over a slab?
EDDIE: It’s a ranch home.
TOM: And what’s underneath?
EDDIE: A crawlspace.
TOM: Crawlspace? OK. Does the crawlspace have a high humidity problem?
TOM: I would recommend that you replace that existing fan switch with a humidistatically-controlled fan switch.
EDDIE: Yeah, OK. I’ll try.
TOM: Eddie, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elsie in California on the line who’s dealing with a shower that goes from hot to cold and all over.
That doesn’t sound very pleasurable, Elsie. What’s going on?
ELSIE: Oh, it sure isn’t. It’s very shocking.
I live in a ranch-style house. The water heater is in the garage at one end of the house and the two bathrooms are at the other end of the house. And whenever someone flushes the toilet or turns on the tap or the sprinkling or drip system comes on, the water will go from hot to pure cold and I’ll have to readjust it.
TOM: And the reason that happens is because the pressures are imbalanced. In other words, you adjust the temperature in your shower and that’s based on the pressure of water that’s coming from the hot and coming from the cold. And once that’s locked in, the temperature stays where you want it. But when someone down the line, say, spills off some of the cold water because now they’re flushing a toilet or washing their hands, then the – there is going to be less cold water going into that same mix, which means the water temperature is going to get higher or hotter.
And so, the solution is a new valve for the shower and it’s called a “pressure-balanced valve.” And what a pressure-balance valve does is it maintains the mix in spite of the pressure differential. So, what could happen in that scenario is if you adjusted it and then someone flushed the toilet, you may get less pressure overall. So the shower may be not quite as strong but the temperature won’t change, the mix won’t change. The mix is locked in; it’s set right there, regardless of how much pressure variation you have on the hot water and the cold water coming into it.
So, common problem, straightforward solution. It’s called a “pressure-balance valve.”
ELSIE: OK. Well, thank you so much. I listen to your program every week. I have your book and I’ve learned so much from both of you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Do you love to tell or, should I say, brag to your friends about your home improvement projects? Well, our next guest decided that starting a home improvement blog was a far better way to keep those friends and share what he loved with the masses. We’re going to share that story, next.
TOM: Well, if the thought of paying contractors, electricians and plumbers the ridiculous amounts of money they demand is sickening, you’ll appreciate that that may have been the feeling of our next guest.
Greg Navage is a home improvement blogger who decided if you wanted the job done right, there’s no reason he couldn’t do it himself and save a ton of money in the process. Greg’s blog is called The Navage Patch and he says he started – along with his wife, Handan – to share their creations and adventures through a blog rather than bore their friends with the constant braggy Facebook posts. I’ve been accused of that.
GREG: Thanks so much, Tom. It’s great to be here.
TOM: So, tell us a little bit about your blog. Now, I think it’s fascinating that you guys seem to love to find sort of those throwaway finds or those things that you can pick up inexpensively at secondhand shops and really turn them into beautiful, new furniture or beautiful, new products in – using a whole host of techniques.
GREG: Absolutely. I mean not only in thrift stores but we probably get most of our stuff from our town dump. They have a section called “Put and Take” and people go there and they put what they don’t want and other people show up and take it if they want it. So, we’ve gotten beds, dressers, you name it. They have so much stuff there. So, it’s also a great resource.
And as you said, we love taking that stuff, maybe stripping it down, giving it new life, maybe Handan will give it a paint job. If it is nice wood there, I’ll try to keep that and give it a few coats of lacquer or something. But there’s so much out there that’s cheap that you could find and turn into really beautiful stuff.
TOM: Do you find that you get the inspiration once you find that throwaway piece?
GREG: Handan gets the inspiration right away. She sees it immediately. For me, I generally have no idea. I take it home, it sits around, I look at it. If I still don’t have any idea, then I start just working on it.
For instance, I did a – I turned an old chest of drawers into a wine bar. I had no idea what I was going to do. I just started cutting into it and figuring, “Yeah, something will turn up. Some idea will turn up.” And eventually, it did. I went through a few different ideas and finally I settled on a wine bar, so …
TOM: Sounds like these pieces are speaking to you but I think the difference about what you do – which is so many people love to upcycle products like that – is that you turned this into a very successful blog with a pretty strong following. How do you make the connection between the work and the blogging about the work?
GREG: For me – well, I’ll start with Handan. For Handan, she’s very in-depth with tutorials. And she’s fortunate because she has me there to take pictures of her every step of the way, with her hands and everything. So she’s giving very detailed, kind of hands-on stuff with links to products and all that kind of stuff, the stuff that she uses.
For me, I tell – I’m more of a storyteller with my posts. I kind of make it funny. I try to make it funny. And often – more often than not, I’m always screwing up in the process because we’re relatively new to this and I make a lot of mistakes. And it’s not so fun when I’m making them but afterwards, when I’m writing about it, I can usually turn that into a pretty funny story.
TOM: Yeah. I appreciated one of the posts that you wrote about – you called it “Beauty in the Beast” and that’s when you figured out that belt sanders are the fastest way to screw up a project.
GREG: Mm-hmm. Oh, man, they really are.
TOM: You know, I used to teach industrial arts or woodshop years and years and years ago. And of course, the kids always want to go for the tool that takes the most material off. But boy, they find out very quickly they could’ve spent months working on something and lose it in seconds with a tool like that.
GREG: It is exactly true. I was using that – the handheld belt sander we’re talking here. And I was looking towards the forward end of it, up above, not even realizing what was happening at the heel of the tool. That’s what was taking off all the material.
TOM: We’re talking to Greg Navage. He is a blogger with a site called The Navage Patch, along with his wife Handan. Writes about all sorts of improvement projects that you can tackle in your own house. Greg and Handan like to take furniture that they find – pretty much throwaway stuff found at the town dump or at thrift shops – and turn into beautiful pieces.
Now, Greg, you’ve been blogging for about a year now and you also work with a site called Hometalk.com. Tell us about that.
GREG: Well, Hometalk is something that Handan discovered long before we were bloggers. She was into it because she’s been into sort of these home improvement and DIY websites. So, as soon as we started blogging about a year ago, she told me that I had to put not only our posts on our website but share them with Hometalk. And I said, “OK. Whatever you say.” And so we started doing that and I wasn’t really paying much attention to Hometalk at that time.
Then one morning, we woke up and our numbers were just going crazy. And we were – “What’s going on?” And we look at Hometalk and we find out that they had featured us in one of their e-mails, with the “Dishes of Darkness” post. So, right there, we discovered what a great resource they are. Not only with the information they give out but for bloggers like us, they really helped us get an audience. And honestly, it’s really – everything we’ve achieved thus far, it’s thanks to them. It’s thanks to Hometalk.
TOM: That’s fantastic. So Hometalk.com is a site what you can read the works of many, many bloggers and see lots of photographs and step-by-step projects, like the type that Greg and Handan do.
So tell us about your audience. Who are they, what kind of projects are they doing and how do you guys try to help them?
GREG: Well, I would say probably 80-percent female. And that’s generally – the demographic that comes from Hometalk is generally what we have as our readership. Mostly female but certainly some guys in there. The guys are generally more interested in my woodworking posts. The ladies are generally more interested in Handan’s crafting posts. And everybody kind of follows our – the “About Us” stories or our travel posts.
They’re doing mostly crafting-type projects. Although when we do some of our bigger DIY stuff around the house, like sliding pullout shelves for the kitchen or we did a big backyard renovation around a fish pond, people seem very into that because it’s stuff that a lot of people want to do but they’re scared. Which I don’t blame them because they’re kind of scary projects but what we do is we just go, “OK, let’s do it.” And we make mistakes and we screw up and we share those screw-ups but people see that it’s doable. You can do it.
TOM: Well, it’s a great blog. It’s called The Navage Patch. Greg Navage – along with his wife, Handan – are the bloggers. Lots of step-by-step photos and instruction there on, oh, a wide array of projects that they tackle.
And let me just mention, you’ve got a fascinating story about the way you guys met. Truly a modern couple. Lived worlds about, found each other and created a beautiful family and a beautiful blog in the process. So, Greg Navage, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and continued good success with the blog.
GREG: Thank you so much, Tom. It was my pleasure.
LESLIE: Alright. Up next, if you want your painting project to come out right every single time, you’d better start by picking the right paintbrush. We’ll tell you how, after this.
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.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a Home Safety and Security Lighting Bundle from Mr. Beams.
Now, that includes the Mr. Beams High-Performance Security Light. It’s a bright light, about 500 lumens of battery-powered, motion-activated light. That’s going to increase the security all around your home. And it even features adjustable heads, so you’ll really be able to cover about 800 square feet of lighted area. So we’re talking about giving your yard super safety benefits there. And it’s also available in a NetBright version.
Now, NetBright is an amazing technology that’s going to allow each light to communicate with all the other NetBright spotlights. So when one detects motion, they will all come on. And you can create all different zones with up to 50 lights. I mean it’s super smart. It’s a great package. We’re talking about $169 for the Mr. Beams total package.
You can check it all out at MrBeams.com or give them a call at 877-298-9082.
TOM: 888-666-3974 is our telephone number. Call us, right now, with your home improvement question and you might just win that fantastic High-Performance Security Light, along with the whole lighting bundle form Mr. Beams. That number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, painting is one DIY project that probably seems the simplest to do. How hard can it be to dip a brush in a can and slap some paint on a wall? But that’s exactly why it’s even more frustrating when that seemingly simple project comes out badly. And that can happen if you start with the wrong brush. So we thought we might share some tips on how exactly you choose the right brush for your painting project.
LESLIE: Now, it all starts with choosing the right bristles. That’s going to depend on the type of paint, stain or finish that you’re working with. Natural-bristle brushes or China bristles, those are designed for oil-based paints. These are going to give an even finish and are sturdy enough to clean with paint thinner or turpentine.
Now, you can’t use natural bristles, however, for latex paints because they’re going to soak up all the water, it’s going to lose their springiness and they’re just not going to perform well. So for latex paints or finishes, synthetic bristles are going to be your best choice.
TOM: Now, when it comes to brushes, you can definitely get what you pay for. The better brushes simply have more bristles and the bristles are of differing lengths. And the bristles also have split ends which, when it comes to a paintbrush, is a good thing; it enables them to hold more paint. Lower-quality brushes are going to leave ridges in the paint, as well as thin spots. So, the better the brush, the better the paint job is going to come out. Keep that in mind the next time you’re ready to tackle a painting project.
And if you’re ready to tackle any other kind of project around your money pit, pick up the phone and call us, right now, because we would love to help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Doug in Oregon is on the line with a mold question. How can we help you today?
DOUG: We had a pipe break in the ceiling. Took out the whole house, really: everything, sheetrock, ceiling. And we’ve been fighting this with the insurance company for a couple of years. Finally settled up. But the contractor went in there. We’ve been working with him all along this two-year period. And I noticed in the estimate that there’s mold mediation, water removal, $7,800.
Well, the company had come in to – when this first happened, you know, they dried the house out. They had the machines in there for three months, right? I’m just wondering, do I pay for something that was already done? I don’t understand the mold-mediation process.
TOM: Hey, wasn’t that water already removed? Why is it in your estimate now, Doug?
DOUG: That’s my question. Why would a contractor write this up this way? I confronted him on it and I don’t know. There’s sections this, whatever number is in his contract that just doesn’t make any sense to us.
TOM: Well, listen, if it doesn’t make sense then, obviously, you’re not talking to the right guy. He’s not giving you the right information. Also, was there any – ever any mold testing done to confirm whether there’s mold and what kind of mold there is?
DOUG: The same contractor. To fix the house back up so if we want to resell it, we have to have the mold-mediation certificate or whatever and the same contractor, they’re doing it all. Actually, I have him on hold now putting the house back together just because I felt like I’d been taken advantage of. Don’t want to …
TOM: I think what you need is you need an independent mold expert to do an examination of that house and give you a report, tell you what to do. I’d push the hold button on this right now and get some expert, third-party advice here. Because the contractor shouldn’t be in a position to say, “You’ve got a problem and I’m just the guy to fix it for you.” And what he’s saying in this estimate isn’t making a lot of sense to me.
I’d want to know exactly what’s going on with my house and if they found mold in it, what kind of mold. And how do they plan to mediate that mold? Because there’s a lot of ways to do it. And if it’s done wrong, it could contaminate the rest of the house. And so I would think, at this point, because you’re talking about mold, you ought to get a third-party expert to evaluate that.
One good place to start – and you may not find your person right off with this but I bet you’ll get good least the local people that do this very well – is to go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org. Find the certified ASHI members in your area. You can sort by zip code. And call them and find out if they do mold inspections.
The nice thing about home inspectors is that they’re not in the business of doing any repair or cleaning or anything of that sort. If they – you may talk to some folks that don’t do the inspections but ask them who they know that’s good and does it with the same kind of impartiality. And I would definitely get an impartial expert before this project goes any further, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with and you can kind of sort this out.
Alright. Well, good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
I just hate when you have contractors that throw around words like “mold” and “mold remediation” and include, in this guy’s case, water removal. And the leak was two years ago. You’re telling me there’s still water still there? That doesn’t make any sense. You’ve got to question these guys and make them prove to you that they’re doing the right thing. So, hopefully, we have left one less victim out there with some advice for Doug.
LESLIE: Still to come, want to make sure your fridge can handle all those leftovers as the holidays are about to begin? We’re going to share the step-by-step tips, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. We can help solve the do-it-yourself dilemma or if it’s not a project you want to tackle yourself, we will tell you exactly what you need to get a pro to do it for you. The number, again, is 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright, guys. While you’re online, post your questions in the Community section. We’d love to lend a hand. Gabriela in New York writes: “I’m living in an apartment with hot-water steam heat. The paint on the wall above one of the units is peeling and has dark specks that look like mold. Is that caused by the heating unit? If so, what can I do to fix it or stop it from happening?”
TOM: So, I don’t think it’s a moisture problem, Gabriela. I think what’s happening is just you’re getting some wear and tear form the convection that happens around a radiator. If you’ve got steam heat, those radiators are extremely hot, as you know. And so what happens is as cold air falls from the ceiling, it gets heated by that radiator and then sort of washes right back up that wall. So as it does that, you will often get any dirt or dust that’s in your air. And no matter how clean you keep your apartment, all of us have some dirt in the air. And it sort of washes against that exterior wall, which is cold, and sticks to it. So the streaking is very often, simply, a dirty wall.
In terms of the peeling paint, that wouldn’t surprise me if it was happening right above that radiator. I think paint can delaminate because of all that sort of wear and tear. So what I would do is I would definitely get rid of all that loose paint, prime that spot – you can spot-prime it with a good quality primer – and then just touch-up on top of it. And I think you will be totally good to go.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one from Kay in New Hampshire who writes: “I have 8×8 ceramic tiles in my bathroom floor that are only a few years old. Some of them cracked down the middle. What can I do?”
TOM: Well, that’s probably because the base wasn’t put in very solid. In your situation, you can pop those out and replace them if you can find replacements. But if it happens again and again and again, then it really is telling you that the floor is not strong enough to hold that bigger tile and you have to tear it out and start over. Sorry, Kay.
LESLIE: Yeah. Sorry about that.
TOM: Well, when it comes to keeping those leftovers around for another meal, a fridge that is running at its best is key. Leslie has advice on how you can improve your refrigerator’s efficiency, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, to make sure that your fridge is running optimally, you want to make sure it’s not too cold. You need to keep the temperature between 37 and 40 degrees. Also, you want to make sure the seal is airtight so cold air isn’t escaping. The best way to test this is with a dollar bill inserted into the door. If it slips out easily when that door is closed, the gasket isn’t working right. Now, you can replace those door gaskets for a better seal.
Now, here’s another idea you might not have even considered: if you want to reduce costs, be sure to cover your food. Why? Well, uncovered foods and liquids release moisture and the moisture is going to make sure your fridge work harder.
Now, it also may seem counterintuitive but a near-empty fridge uses more power than a full one. Foods and liquids collect and store the cold, so your fridge has to work harder to maintain that cold when it’s empty. You also want to take into consideration how much food you actually store. If it’s not that much, consider downsizing to a smaller one and you’re going to save a bundle.
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up next time on the program, broken water pipes can cause expensive home headaches. And they happen most often in winter when the pipes carrying water freeze, expand and bust. Ironically enough, though, the pipe that’s most susceptible to freezing is the outdoor-hose faucet. But it’s also the easiest to protect. We’ll have tips on how to tackle that project, 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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(Copyright 2016 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.)