- If you’re shopping for a home, buying an older home can be a good deal – but only if you’re ready for the restoration and repair that come along with the job. We’ll share tips for buying and repairing older homes.
- Have you ever been surprised by a big electric bill? We’ll share the most common places energy is wasted.
- Do your faucets sound like they are crying out in pain? Faucets that sound like screams, squeal or whistle can get pretty annoying. We’ll share has silence noisy faucets for good.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Marilyn is wants to know whether it’s better to rent or buy for her military family.
- John from Missouri needs to fix plaster walls after having a leak behind the wall.
- Deane needs some tips on steel windows built into her wall and whether she should repair or replace them.
- Robert wants to know what to do when the insulation in his attic has settled.
- Wendy from West Virginia wants to know what the difference between a commercial and residential building in terms of codes.
- Stan in Massachusetts is needs advice on how to proceed with a ceiling leak caused by defective pipes in his plumbing.
- Kathy from Michigan wants to know why her cinderblock house causes paint to peel very easily.
- Gina has wants to know if she should install a high efficiency HVAC.
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 what are you guys working on this pre-holiday weekend? The holidays are really close now. And we’re seeing all sorts of buzz in the neighborhood as people are forming up their plans and fixing up their places and making everything look so festive. If that’s what you guys are into right now, we would love to help. If you are taking on a little repair or improvement project, we’d love to help. If you’ve got anything going on that you don’t know how to start, how to get it done, whether you can do it yourself or get a pro, well, that’s what we do. We’re your pros. If you’re stuck, we’re kind of like your virtual WD-40: we’ll get you unstuck with a project.
You’ve got to help yourself first, though, by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 because this is what we do. We’ve been helping people fix up homes for a lot of years because we learned from our parents, we’ve learned on the job and we just love to get it done. I mean for me, home improvement is therapy. It’s a chance for me to get away from the day-to-day. Even though I work in this space and I do a lot of writing and broadcasting, I just love the time when I can pick up some tools and get a project done.
So, let us know. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are standing by for your calls and your questions.
Coming up on today’s show, have you ever been surprised by a really big electric bill? Well, there are some really common places that energy is wasted and we’re going to walk you through what they are, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
LESLIE: And if you’re shopping for a home, buying an older home could be a good deal but only if you’re ready for the restoration and repair that definitely comes along with that job. We’re going to share some tips for handling buying an older home.
TOM: And do your faucets sound like they are crying out in pain? You know, faucets that sound like screams or squeals or whistles can get pretty annoying but they don’t have to be. There are some simple steps that you can do to quieten them up. We’ll tell you what those are.
LESLIE: And do you need some help with a renovation, a repair or maybe a holiday-decorating project? Well, we’re going to share some expert tips, ideas and inspiration to help you avoid all that perspiration when it comes to improving your space. So give us a call, let us know what you are working on so we can help you get that project done.
TOM: Plus, if you do call us, we’ve got a great tool to give away to one listener. It’s the Arrow T25 WireMate Staple Gun. Going out to one listener drawn at random. So reach out to us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Marilyn, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?
MARILYN: We are a military family. My husband’s in the military and I’m a stay-at-home mom to five kids and we home-school. And basically, in the past when we’ve moved, we’ve always bought a house and – basically, thinking that if you pay yourself it’s better than paying someone else. However, we’re moving to Illinois this time and the property taxes are quite excruciatingly high. And we’re just trying to decide if it’s better to buy or to rent this time.
TOM: So do you know how long your husband – well, first of all, thank you for your service and your family’s service. Do you know how long you will be in the Illinois area?
MARILYN: Well, it could be anywhere from 2 years to 3, 4, 5. You never know with the military.
TOM: Because you know what the risk is if you buy a house and then it turns out you have to move again. If you can’t sell it or if you – if the market turns and it ends up not being worth what you paid for it, you could get underwater pretty quick on that. And so, in circumstances when you’re in the military, I think a lot of times it does make sense to rent. Because the other thing is you don’t want to have to move out of there – “Now I need to carry two houses” – maybe find yourself being a distant landlord to a property. Now, these are all difficult scenarios that you really want to avoid.
Have you spoken with your accountant about the tax consequences of perhaps renting instead of buying? Because there may be some advantages there.
MARILYN: We haven’t yet because we just found out a couple days ago, so …
TOM: And you know what? You can always rent first. Renting is a short-term commitment. I understand that moving is a hassle but you could always rent first, get to know the area, get more comfortable and then make a decision later if it looks like you’re going to stay. You don’t have to do it all in once.
MARILYN: OK. I guess my hesitation with that is that we have five small children. So I’d like to move as little as possible.
TOM: I would think that – better off selling it now, putting it on the market now. Maybe you’ll find a cooperative buyer who can delay the closing date until you guys are ready to move out. But I wouldn’t want to find you stuck not being able to get a buyer, running out of time, while your family needs to move on to the new location. So I think a bird in a hand is worth two in the bush, as my dad always used to say. So I would try to put that on the market now and hopefully it’ll sell quickly and you’ll be able to take your time getting to the new location.
And by the way, since I can imagine, with five kids, you find the house just chock full with stuff, the best way to get your house ready to sell – there’s a great article on our website at MoneyPit.com about this. But conceptually, what we’d like to see you do is to try to declutter as much as possible, make those rooms look big and bright. Because anybody that’s going to buy your house is going to probably move in from, say, another crowded house or crowded apartment. You want to make sure it looks like your stuff can – their stuff can fit in there. And then if you have any rooms that need to be repainted, just choose neutral colors for the same reason. Make it look open and inviting and that will help you sell the property as quickly as possible.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got John in Missouri on the line. John, what’s going on?
JOHN: Well, I live in an old house built in 1892 and it has plastered walls. And I’ve got a – I had a leak this spring. I had a gutter overflow and it got behind some flashing and created what I call “plaster cancer,” which is this sort of crystalline stuff that grows out of the plaster.
JOHN: I mean it didn’t make the whole thing fall down. It just is crystal. And I got the leak fixed and I tried – I scraped all that stuff off and put a sealer on it – quick sealer paint – one of those alcohol-based things.
JOHN: And the cancer keeps going. Now it’s blown that paint off. It’s not as much but it tends to continue. And I wondered if there was something you can do to stop that from happening short of tearing that whole plaster down.
TOM: So, the plaster, when it gets wet, there are sort of fingers, so to speak, that wrap around the lath behind it. And when it gets wet, it loosens up.
JOHN: This plaster is actually on brick.
TOM: Oh, it’s on brick? OK. Alright. Strike that. So, what else could be happening is if it’s on brick and the brick got wet – the bricks are very hydroscopic, so you could be continually pulling more moisture through there. Are you absolutely certain that you’ve addressed the leak completely? Because it doesn’t sound that way. It sounds like you’ve still got some moisture in there.
JOHN: There could still be some moisture in the brick, I suppose, but it’s been super dry here in St. Louis since the end of July. And this – I got the thing fixed about the middle of July: all the flashing on the – it’s on a bay window. All the flashing above that was redone and – but it hasn’t rained pretty much at all since then.
TOM: How big is the patched area?
JOHN: It’s, oh, I don’t know, maybe 10 square feet. It’s not huge.
TOM: And that whole area is breaking up and forming these crystals?
JOHN: Yeah. Well, it’s doing this crystal-growth thing, which blows off whatever paint you put on the surface on it.
TOM: I wonder if part of what you’re seeing is the paint basically disconnecting or delaminating from the plaster itself.
JOHN: Well, yeah. This cancer sort of grows below the paint. But it’s – my problem is it’s dried up now. It hasn’t rained, so it couldn’t possibly leak; it hasn’t rained. And also, the thing is repaired.
TOM: What I would do here is this: is I would try to strip out all the paint that I could and I would probably use a paint stripper to get whatever is left behind. Maybe a gel-based stripper. And then I would put another skim coat of plaster over it. Let it dry really, really well. And then I would prime it with an oil-based paint and then repaint it.
And I think the plaster is basically disintegrated, in some respects, and I think you’re going to have to do some partial rebuilding of that surface.
JOHN: Yeah. OK. Well, because it’s – yeah, the plaster is this two-layer plaster. It’s got kind of a – looks like cement at the base layer and then it’s got a real fine, white layer that’s the finish layer. So just reapply that, huh?
TOM: That’s right. After you get rid of any loose material that’s there. You really want to make sure you have a solid base and then you can put a new skim coat on it.
JOHN: OK. Alright. I’ll give that a try.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, do you like home improvement but you like free tools better? Well, here’s a combination of both. We have a great prize to give away here at The Money Pit today. Going to one lucky listener is the Arrow T25X WireMate Staple Gun.
This is the easiest staple gun out there to load; you just simply push a button and it’s ready to go. It’s really comfortable to use and it’s compact and ridiculously handy. This is a great tool going out to one lucky listener today. It’s 35 bucks and you can check it out online.
TOM: If you’d like to get in on that great giveaway, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Deanne on the line who needs some help with the windows at her money pit. What’s going on?
DEANNE: I have old, steel-framed, metal commercial windows in my house. And the outside walls are double brick. There’s no wood in the outside walls, so these are screwed right into the brick. And we took out one and replaced it and we had a very hard time doing that. And I don’t know if we should replace them or just try to repair them.
TOM: Well, if you repair them, they’re – I can’t imagine they’re very energy-efficient. So, repairing them and making them operational could restore some of the function but I don’t think they’ll be energy-efficient. Replacing them is a better option but of course, as you cited, because they’re built into the wall it’s a difficult installation because you’ve got to get the old ones out.
So, is this a project you want to do yourself or you think maybe you want to have a pro help you?
DEANNE: I used to have a builder’s license but I – physically, I can’t do that anymore. So I’d probably hire someone.
TOM: Yeah, I think you might want to think about doing that. Because taking out those old, metal windows that are screwed into the brick is an awful lot of work. And also, if you’re going to put replacement windows in, they’ve got to be measured just right and they’ve got to be installed just right so that they don’t leak. And I don’t think you want that responsibility. You ought to have a pro measure them and install them. I think this way, you’ll be assured they come out just right.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, when you open your electric bill, does that experience give you a shock of another kind? Figuring out how to reverse that trend starts with understanding where the heck all that power is going, especially because a good portion of that juice might be going to places that you are not even aware of.
LESLIE: Yeah. So to help, here are three areas where we do see a lot of wasted energy.
First of all, I’m going to talk about something called “vampire appliances.” And no, they’re not leftover from Halloween. I’m talking about appliances that are energy-suckers, like a vampire. They’re always plugged in, they’re constantly drawing energy whether you use them or you’re not using them. So the solution to that is using a power strip that you can turn on and off when those appliances aren’t being charged.
TOM: Next, there are appliances that are truly energy hogs. These are the big appliances – like the dishwashers, the clothes washers, the clothes dryers – that seem to have really insatiable appetites for electricity. And they can really drive your electricity bill way up.
So, couple of tips. Run your dishwasher and clothes washers at full capacity only and always use low heat for the dryer. Then, when the appliances start to age out, replace them. Older appliances use vastly more power than modern ENERGY STAR appliances, which are also quieter and more efficient.
LESLIE: Yeah. And I think another spot that seems obvious but a lot of people forget to sort of really take account here is lighting and ceiling fans.
Now, when it comes to lighting, people often make the mistake of using lights to brighten that entire room. But efficient lighting is only going to provide light specific to certain areas, like your couch or your chair or the kitchen table or even workspaces. So you want to make sure that when you’re putting on the lights around your house that you’re only lighting the rooms that you’re in and for the specific purpose of the area that you’re in, like the task lighting. Then go around the space and switch out incandescent bulbs for LEDs. The costs have come way down to purchase an LED bulb and then you’re going to save a ton of money by using them.
And then lastly, you can replace your old switches with occupancy- or vacancy-sensor switches, which is great for kids’ rooms, basements, the bathroom. I feel like kids go into these spaces, they turn on every single light that they own and then just walk away and go and do the same thing in another space.
LESLIE: It’s amazing. I can follow my kids by just finding the lights everywhere.
TOM: I can hear my dad. So many times when we were in the car leaving the house and he’d look up at one of our rooms and go, “You left the light on again.” Well, now that’ll never happen because it’ll automatically turn off.
And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. Apply for yours at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: Robert is on the line with a question about insulation. How can we help you?
ROBERT: Yes. I have a pier-and-beam home and the insulation – I happened to be up in there sealing my ducts in my air – for my air-conditioning in my house? And I happened to be up there looking at the insulation and it was real thin and it had a white backing on it. And it was only about an inch high and I thought, “Wow. I need to put some insulation in.”
So I went to my local Lowe’s store and I rented the machine from them and I bought the blown insulation. And I bought like 20 bags and I just started blowing it in. And that was approximately 10, 12 years ago. I happened to be up there again this year, looking around, and I noticed that it has kind of compressed and turned into little, tiny BBs. And I’ve heard you all talk about insulating the attics of people’s homes but I didn’t know what – how to go about trying to put something else up there, if I need to vacuum all that stuff out of there and try to lay some actual good insulation and what the number would be.
TOM: Well, if the insulation has settled – I mean generally speaking, you want 15 to 20 inches of insulation. If it’s settled so now it’s a lot less than that, you can either remove it and put new insulation in or you could add an additional layer on top of it, depending on how difficult, I guess, it is to work up in that space.
ROBERT: Right. It’s pretty tight in some of the spots.
ROBERT: That was the reason I went with the blown.
TOM: Yeah. No, I hear you. So I think what you probably want to do is just supplement what’s there. It’s not unusual for it to settle over the years, a little bit. But perhaps you need to add a little bit more to that space. That’d probably be the least complicated way of improving that insulation right now, given the fact that you’ve already got blown in there, Robert.
ROBERT: Now, I’ve heard some other insulation questions asked on your show, because I listen to it every Sunday, religiously. And I’ve heard them talking about laying them in between but I’ve also heard them going over the top of the beam.
TOM: So, if you have fiberglass insulation that’s flush with the ceiling joists – let’s say you had 2×8 ceiling joists and you had maybe 8-inch batts laid in between those ceiling joists – to put the next layer of insulation on top of it, we always advise that you do that perpendicular. So you go the other way, the opposite way and across the beams at a 90-degree angle.
In your case, it sounds like it’s all covered already with blown-in insulation. Is that insulation above the ceiling joists right now or has it settled down below it?
ROBERT: No, it’s settled down way below it.
TOM: OK. So if it’s settled down below it, then maybe you could add another – you could add some unfaced fiberglass batts if you think you can get those up in there. And lay those perpendicular to the beams.
ROBERT: OK. That was going to be my next question, if it needed to be unbatted if it – or if I did buy the batting, in certain areas would I want the batting up or would I want that paper down?
TOM: No, you want unfaced. Because the moisture barrier goes towards the living space and that’s already inaccessible now because it’s going to be the ceiling that’s under all that blown-in.
TOM: So, if it – and if it’s – if you think it’s about flush with the top of the ceiling joists right now, then I would just add a second layer perpendicular to that. And you can do that with batts.
ROBERT: OK. That’ll work. I appreciate it. Thank you all so much.
LESLIE: Wendy is on the line from West Virginia with an interesting project. How can we help you?
WENDY: Hi. I am interested in purchasing a property that was formerly a golf clubhouse. And I’m curious what would be the pros and cons between a commercial and a residential …
LESLIE: As far as purchasing or the use of the space once you get it?
WENDY: What is the difference in a commercial versus a residential building? I’m trying to find out, you know, are there big differences in the way that they’re built? Is that a plus? Are they built extra sturdy kind of thing?
TOM: Assuming that they were both built to code, commercial codes are usually more stringent than residential codes. So, I would expect a commercial building to be built as well, if not better, than a residential property. But it also has a lot to do with the zoning, what you’re allowed to do with that space.
Can you have a residence in a commercial space? Maybe. That’s a question for your local zoning officials for you to thoroughly understand. And if it is zoned commercial, it may have a higher value than it would if it was zoned residential. And if you turn it back into a house, you might devalue the property. So I think there’s some economic questions there.
But in terms of how it’s built, I mean generally speaking, it’s going to be as – built as well or better, assuming that the construction followed all the relevant building codes. I think the trickier part of this is to take a commercial space, which is kind of sterile, and making it feel warm like a home would.
And that’s kind of a décor challenge, right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah. But I think with a golf clubhouse – and correct me if I’m wrong, Wendy – they kind of have a residential, homey feel to begin with. So I think you might have some good bones to work off of there.
WENDY: Mm-hmm. Yeah. It’s kind of that lodge feel.
LESLIE: Well, I think that’s a good place to start. Now, I think part of your challenge is going to be modifying your kitchen, because you’re probably dealing with a larger commercial space. So that’ll be something that’ll probably be a full gut renovation and sort of a redo to make that more residential and perhaps a kitchen/dining area or a kitchen/eat-in area. I think the benefit is you’ve got this tremendous space that was built very well – as far as code goes, as Tom mentioned – so that you can really work within that. And it sounds like it’s probably sitting on a great piece of land, too.
WENDY: It is. Beautiful. Thank you for the advice.
TOM: Well, if you’ve shopped for a home lately, you know that they’re growing more expensive. But you might not know they’re also getting older. In fact, the average age of a house in the U.S. today is 39 years old. And if you’ve been shopping for a home and put off by high prices, some of those older homes can present a more affordable option. But you need to keep one thing in mind: older homes need more maintenance and that’s going to cost some money.
LESLIE: Yeah. So if you are buying an older home, trust me, those home repairs are going to come. So here’s a good way that you can navigate that whole process.
First of all, you’ve got to pay close attention during your home inspection. You need to be there, you need to be a good listener, you’ve got to ask questions. It really is a great chance for you to learn about how that house works and how that house is made. But you’ve got to beware of cost overruns.
Now, it’s an unwritten rule of home renovation: no matter how thorough that estimate seems, you are likely to discover new issues. They’re going to cost money and some of them are going to be very expensive. Because sometimes, you never know what’s behind that wall or what’s further into that process. And quite frankly, they can be surprising and expensive.
TOM: Four most expensive words: while you’re at it.
Now, the other thing is you could consider – if you know you’re up against some pretty significant costs, you could consider what’s generally called a “fixer-upper loan.” If you deplete your savings for the down payment, that’s going to leave you no cash to pay for repairs. So a possibility is an FHA 203K loan type, which is a mortgage that will let you borrow the purchase price and some construction costs based on the post-renovation value of the property. And then I think it all folds into a normal mortgage when that project is done.
You can also look for some other sources of help. There’s state and local home improvement programs, there’s historic preservation loans and energy-efficient updates that can be provided with low-cost loans. And a lot of municipalities offer breaks in property taxes, too, if you pick up an older home and renovate it.
So, just be aware of that. Good opportunity to buy an older house but you are going to be facing some significant expenses. And that’s, again, why you need to get a home inspection and really pay close attention during that, to make sure you understand exactly what you’re up against.
LESLIE: Hey, on The Money Pit, you get answers to all of the questions you’ve got about home improvement but you also get a chance to win a great prize.
This hour, we’ve got, up for grabs, the Arrow T25X WireMate Staple Gun. It’s going to come with all the staples that you need, pretty much. It’s a $35 prize pack and it’s going out to one lucky listener.
TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Stan in Massachusetts is on the line dealing with some issues with a ceiling. Tell us what’s going on.
STAN: I’m looking to get some advice about a leak we have received in our ceiling, in our kitchen, because of defective pipes that were installed going back 20 years now. We’ve had several leaks that have been repaired. We don’t whether to close up the ceiling tile or not. Concerned that the same pipe is in there and it could be having a hairline crack at any point in time. So just not sure how to proceed.
TOM: Yeah, it sounds like it’s a frustrating situation. I’m not quite sure what kind of pipe leaks you’re talking about and whether it’s something that is just representative of some general deterioration of your plumbing system.
For example, some homes in the country have these pinhole copper-pipe leaks where …
LESLIE: That’s so common where I live.
TOM: Yeah. Because of the acidity of water, it starts to develop really thin walls of the copper pipe, sometimes holes in it. And those folks end up replacing those pipes. I always say whenever the ceiling is open or the wall is open, replace everything you can because eventually you’ll have to replace all the plumbing.
So I’m not really sure what kind of plumbing problem you’re talking about here but generally speaking, if you’ve not had a leak in a few months, then I would go ahead and close it up. I don’t know what else to tell you at this point. If you tell me that this is a problem that is just happening all over the place, then maybe this is a different conversation. But if it’s always leaking in this one place, maybe you should just open the ceiling up there once and for all and replace that piece of pipe in there that’s leaking.
LESLIE: See what’s going on.
TOM: See what’s going on. But that’s kind of the way I would approach this.
LESLIE: Kathy in Michigan is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?
KATHY: I have a cinder-block house and it seems to peel kind of easy. And one side of the house, where the water’s located, I seem to have rust spots coming through but not from the inside. Only the outside.
TOM: OK. Do you have sprinklers?
TOM: And the rust spots are on the inside you say?
TOM: I wonder where that rust is coming from, Leslie. I wonder if there are maybe some metal ties inside the block walls that could be releasing that rust.
LESLIE: It could be, because that does happen very commonly. And the cinder block does tend to be very hydroscopic, meaning it’s going to just suck up all the water from the surrounding areas and just kind of hold onto it at times. So if there is any metal in that, you can see rusting.
TOM: So I think what you’re going to need to do is to spot-prime those rust areas and you need to use a good-quality primer. I would use an oil-based primer – an oil-based exterior primer. After you sand those rust spots away, I would spot-prime them with the oil-based primer and then put the topcoat back on top of it.
I think this is going to be a situation where you’re going to have to manage that paint job, Kathy, so that this doesn’t get worse. And if you ever get ready to do the entire house, then you would simply remove that old paint and then prime the entire surface. And I think that would also do a good job of sealing in any rust spots that form.
KATHY: OK. I like that. I thank you.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, plumbing can be noisy, in general. Lots of noises come out of that plumbing system. But are your faucets part of the problem? Do they sound like they’re crying out in pain every time you turn it on? A faucet that screams or squeals or whistles, it’s super annoying but there are actual reasons why this happens.
TOM: Yeah. Now, if you have hard water, you may have pipes that are too small. And in older homes, those pipes can become further restricted by the formation of scale or rust. And if that’s the case, you’re looking at a situation where you have to replace the pipes.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the noise may also be caused by a washer that’s either the wrong size or it’s not held securely to the stem. Replacing that washer or tightening it should stop that noise.
Now, if the faucet still makes noise, you want to check that washer seat. The seat can become partially closed with residue and then the restricted waterflow can cause whistling or chattering. If that’s the case, you need to clean the seat of the faucet.
TOM: Now, for squealing sounds, sometimes the metal threads of the stem are just binding against the faucet’s threads. So remove the stem and coat both sets of threads with petroleum jelly. That lubrication should stop the noise, make the handle easier to turn and make it a heck of a lot more quiet around your house.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to Gina who’s got a question about the heating at her home. What’s going on?
GINA: OK. So I have a rental property – two-family – and I’m updating the boilers. It’s gas. And I was going to go with the regular boilers, which are 85-percent efficiency, and keep it going through a chimney. Or I was going to do the combis, I guess, Lochinvar and they’re direct; I guess they go outside.
TOM: Yeah, high-efficiency direct boiler. Right. OK.
GINA: My plumber is kind of saying that I should get liners in the chimney and keep the chimney hook-up and the water heaters.
TOM: Yeah. Yep.
GINA: And then I wouldn’t get the rebates and I wouldn’t get, you know, the 0-percent interest from National Grid Mass Save.
GINA: However, the combis, they’re saying that they need more maintenance and that’s what my problem is: that they don’t last as long and they require more maintenance. So, that’s where I’m at.
TOM: I don’t know if that’s true but is the combination boiler, the high-efficiency one, going to be a lot more expensive?
GINA: No, it’s going to end up – after the rebates, it’s going to end up the same amount of money.
TOM: Then there’s no question, in my mind, at all. I would definitely go with the high-efficiency. That’s definitely the right thing to do.
GINA: The ones that have the combis? The ones that have the water heater?
TOM: The direct-vent, yes. A direct-vent system, yeah. I think that’s really smart to do. And this way – because he’s right: you have an old house with an old chimney. You probably have to line it if you put even the 85-percent new boiler in.
And listen, why continue with the old technology when the new technology is there? You have the opportunity to have rebates. It’s probably being subsidized by the utility company because, generally, they’re a lot more expensive. That’s what I thought you were going to say. But if they are helping to keep those costs in line, I would definitely go high-efficiency.
GINA: It definitely – it is more expensive but after the rebates, it’s the same, so …
TOM: That’s what I mean. Yeah, because you have great rebates.
GINA: Oh, OK.
GINA: OK, OK.
TOM: So I would definitely take advantage of that. That’s a good opportunity for you.
GINA: So you haven’t heard that they need more maintenance, the …
TOM: No, no.
GINA: OK, OK.
TOM: And that’s – frankly, we saw the new equipment that comes out now. And that, to me, sounds like maybe a bit of rumor. But I really don’t think it’s true. Sure, they could break down like anything else – they’re more mechanical than the basic systems – but they’re high-efficiency. So, even if they do need a bit more maintenance or an occasional extra adjustment, I wouldn’t worry about it. I would definitely do that and enjoy the efficiency. It’s going to raise the value of your home and it’s also going to cost you less to heat it.
GINA: OK. Alright. Thank you.
LESLIE: Lauralyn writes in saying, “I had a fiberglass door installed on a storage room and it’s clear the contractor didn’t use a primer. Now, the paint on the door is scratched off due to bikes going in and out of that storage area. How do I correct this and are there any options on how to get that paint to adhere better?”
TOM: Yeah. So, when you have a fiberglass surface like that, this is a case where you really want to use what’s called a “high-bond” or a “high-adhesion primer.” KILZ has a new product out called KILZ 3, which is such a primer. But what you want to do first is make sure if you’ve got any loose paint, you remove it. You can use a very fine sandpaper on that door. Even though it’s fiberglass, you could use a 400-grit paper on it or a 600-grit paper on it just to scuff the surface. That will help the primer stick. But make sure that you get any loose material off because you can’t put new paint over bad paint, because it’s kind of like having a layer in between. It’s just not connected.
Now, once you do that, you can add a good layer of that primer. Again, high-bond, high-adhesion primers. There are a number of different brands. We just happen to know about the KILZ 3. That works pretty well. And then once that dries, you can put a topcoat on it. I would choose definitely a semi-gloss because it’s going to have a little more durability, especially for that wear and tear that you described.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got a question from Jenny who writes: “Our downstairs neighbor is complaining of footsteps and noise. How can we soundproof our hardwood floor besides putting down a rug or a carpet? Would laminate make a difference?”
I don’t know that laminate would make a difference, unless there’s some sort of super-thick soundproofing underlayment that you put there with it. I mean being an upstairs neighbor just means sometimes you’re going to be noisy. So, area rugs really are kind of the best trick, especially in a high-traffic area. Maybe don’t use such a large one but definitely put one in an area where you’re going to make a lot of noise.
Just short of learning how to levitate, I don’t know. You’ve got to just learn how to walk more quietly.
TOM: Yeah. And we had hardwood floors and we had a runner also in the hall. So it’s not just the round area rugs. You could also have a wool runner on an anti-skid mat. And that kind of quieted things down, as well.
LESLIE: Oh, good idea. What about carpet on the bottom of the shoes?
TOM: Well, when it comes to designing a new floor for your home, there are more options than you can imagine. And Leslie has got some ideas on how you can combine some of those flooring styles for a totally new look, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. You know, a great flooring project really can enhance any room. So, when it comes to the flooring, I like to use a product that’s going to be super durable for the space that it’s going in. But I also like to take it one step further. Once I pick my flooring material, I like to make sure that the planks of wood are available in different widths. Now, why do I do that? Because I like to create a focal point within that space.
Now, this is going to work very well in a foyer or in a hallway, anywhere you do have a little bit of open floor space that you’re not going to cover with an area rug. Because, essentially, what you’re making is something that looks like a rug in the middle of the room but it’s all out of your same lumber material.
Now, what I like to do is use a wider plank throughout and then I choose an inset area and then using even the exact same flooring finish material but just a different width. So you can create an inset border. And maybe it’s a space that’s 3×5 and then you do one plank that’s a thinner width and on the interior of that 3×5, maybe you put down a herringbone pattern. You’re creating, essentially, a rug, focal point, whatever you want to call it but an area that’s different, special and totally unique in its own spot on the floor.
And it really is great because just that little extra touch can change the whole look of that room, the whole look of the house, the vibe, the energy. So be creative and have some fun.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, as long as there have been homes, there have been home repairs. But did you know the age of your home can give you a signal as to which repairs you should expect? We’ll share tips on how you can figure out what that age really is, 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 2021 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.)