Quick & Colorful Kitchen Makeovers #0305182

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  • Install Floor Tile
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  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here for you, to help you with your how-to projects. We want to solve the do-it-yourself dilemmas you might be dealing with. If you’ve got a décor task you’d like to get done, don’t know where to start or how to make that paint stick so you don’t have to paint over and over again, we can help with all of that. But help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up on today’s show, if you’ve been thinking about updating your kitchen but are concerned about the cost and the complications of the project, we’re going to have some tips on easy updates that you can do over a single weekend that can totally transform your space without the expense or the hassles.

    LESLIE: Alright. And also this hour, is your family growing? Well, before you hear the pitter-patter of those little feet, it’s really smart to make sure that your home-sweet-home is as safe as can be. We’ve got everything you need to know about babyproofing your money pit, coming up.

    TOM: Plus, if you’d like a quick way to start a neighborhood feud, just go ahead and put up an ugly fence on the wrong side of a property line. We’ve got some tips on how to do this right. Not how to do the ugly fence right but how to actually do it right so you don’t get yourself in trouble or get your neighbors angry, coming up in just a bit.

    But first, give us a call because our number-one job is to help you. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT or you can post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Victor in Massachusetts, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    VICTOR: I’m considering making my walk-in shower a shower steam room.

    TOM: OK.

    VICTOR: I had the house – our house built in 2007 and at that time, I called your show for advice on bathroom tiles and tankless hot-water system. That worked out perfect for your advice.

    TOM: Oh, good. So we got that right.

    VICTOR: Yeah, you did. Got it all perfectly right. OK.

    TOM: How big is this shower that you want to turn into a steam bath?

    VICTOR: Eight by five.

    TOM: Alright. Perfect, perfect. So, it’s definitely a good project. It’s going to add some value to your house and make a nice, beautiful room for you to enjoy. And you can do that by adding a steam-shower generator.

    Now, these generators are very small: about the size of a briefcase. Take a look at the generators from Mr. Steam – MrSteam.com. These guys are the leaders in this space.

    VICTOR: OK.

    TOM: And they give you all the information there, on the website, on how to do this. But you can basically locate this steam generator. You don’t even have to put it in the bathroom. It can be up to 60 feet away. And then when you call – they have all the controls. And when you call for steam, it comes on, it generates the steam and comes right through the ports that you will install into that shower space. It really sounds like a perfect setup for something like this.

    VICTOR: Is that M-i-s-t-e-r or Mr. – M-r?

    TOM: Mr. – M-r-S-t-e-a-m.com. MrSteam.com. Check it out. They’ve got all the information right there. It’s a great product.

    VICTOR: So, overall, the concept is OK to do?

    TOM: Absolutely.

    VICTOR: OK, great.

    TOM: That’s exactly the space you want to have to do something like this. Fantastic opportunity. I would go for it.

    VICTOR: Thank you so much.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ooh, now we’ve got Catherine from Colorado on the line. Not something we like to deal with: pest control. What is going on with the mice and the rats?

    CATHERINE: Well, the downstairs in the house is not finished. So, somehow, they’re getting in downstairs and I see little droppings, different days. So what I’ve been using so far is the – those green pellets of poison? But I’ve heard from a friend that there is a new product out there: the Ultrasonic Plug-In. So I wanted to get information about that, if you would know.

    TOM: Yeah, I would skip that. I think that’s kind of junk science. So, I would skip any of those ultrasonic plug-in things.

    What you want to do is a couple of things. First of all, you want to eliminate nesting areas. So around the area of your house, if you have firewood, trash cans, debris of any sort that’s anywhere near the foundation, those are nesting areas for rodents. You eliminate those. Secondly, you plug up any openings in the outside walls of that house. Now, mice need something the size of about a quarter or even less to get in, so any openings should be plugged.

    Inside the house, you want to make sure that there’s no food for them. So, a lot of times, people will make mistakes by providing food when they don’t realize they’re doing it. For example, I had a friend who used to keep her pet food in the garage and it was a big sack, 50-pound, whatever it was, bag of pet food. Never really even noticed that the mice had dug themselves a nice, little front door for this that wasn’t obvious. And they were just getting a big meal every single day from the pet food. So, look for things like that where food is being left out for them. Moisture is also very attractive to rodents, so water that collects at the foundation perimeter can bring them in.

    And inside the house, I think you’re doing the right thing using the baits and the poisons, because that’s – they’re very effective with most of the baits today: for example, the d-CON. One hit of that, so to speak, it takes them out. It’s just one and done.

    So, I think all those things together is what’s going to control and reduce the rodent population around this house.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Call in your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    TOM: Just ahead, if you’ve been thinking about updating your kitchen but you’re worried about the cost and the complications of the project, we’re going to have some tips on easy updates you can do over a weekend that can totally transform your space without the hassles, in today’s Building with Confidence Tip presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. That’s all coming up, next.

    Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And going on, right now, at MoneyPit.com, you can enter the Good Night Sleep Sweepstakes presented by Tuft & Needle, makers of the most comfortable mattress on the internet.

    LESLIE: Yeah. There’s over $4,000 in prizes, including your choice of a Tuft & Needle mattress, plus pillows and sheets. You can enter today at MoneyPit.com, plus you can earn even more chances to win by visiting Tuft & Needle’s website at TN.com/MoneyPit. Or share the sweeps with your friends and every time they enter, you get five bonus entries. I mean how awesome is that?

    Enter today at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: And hey, do you have a home improvement question? Call it in, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust. Plus, it’s 100-percent free to use.

    LESLIE: Joe in Ohio is on the line with a blower-motor question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    JOE: I was listening to another home improvement show locally and they had an electrical – residential electrical contractor on there. And he said that you could let your furnace blower run constantly. He said that because the capacitor sucks up a lot of electricity in order to start the motor, that it – I guess if it’s cycling on and off frequently, that you would save on electricity by letting it run constantly.

    TOM: I would disagree with that and here’s why: those blower motors, that uses most of the electricity it takes to run the furnace. Now, if the blower is cycling on or off, that’s a whole different problem. That means that the thermostat is not operating properly, the system’s not sized right. There’s other things that cause that. We call that “short-cycling.”

    You’re not going to hurt the blower motor by running it but I think you’ll find that you’re going to drive up your electrical cost by doing that. We know people that, for example, love to heat their homes with a wood stove. But because it’s hard to distribute the wood stove’s warmth throughout the house, they’ll turn on the wood stove and then also turn on the blower on the on position – not the auto position; turn it to the on position – and use that blower’s system and the ducts to basically move the heat around the house. So, you’re not hurting the blower because it’s got bearings and it’s not designed to run indefinitely. But you might be driving up your electrical costs. Does that make sense?

    JOE: I wondered about it because – like you say about the short-cycling, I’ve had someone check the furnace and it cycles like about every five minutes and when it’s really cold outside. But they said – they came out and checked it and said that that was normal or that was the way it was meant to operate.

    TOM: Yeah. Five minutes sounds too quick. I would find that to be odd for that to be normal.

    JOE: Yeah.

    TOM: So, that’s all I can tell you. It sounds too quick to me. It sounds like a short-cycle situation. That’s probably the more important thing for you to address.

    JOE: Alright. Well, maybe I’ll check with another one then.

    TOM: Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dreama in West Virginia is on the line and could be dealing with a structural issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    DREAMA: Yes. I purchased a house about 13 years ago and the house is approximately 30 years old. And all of a sudden, last year, in the load-bearing center wall, I started getting a crack. And now, within a year, that crack has gapped approximately a ½-inch wide and it’s also – I noticed another room has a crack now. So I had a local handyman look at it and he suggested that I put in three piers – columns – to support the center wall.

    And I guess my question is – I haven’t had an official, large construction company look at it yet. I’m getting ready to do that but I wanted to educate myself a little bit more. What would you all suggest?

    TOM: How long have you been in this house?

    DREAMA: Thirteen years.

    LESLIE: And this is new.

    DREAMA: Just started about a year ago.

    TOM: See, here’s the thing. If you call a contractor, you’re going to get a contractor’s solution, which is to hire them to do something. What I would suggest you do first is to get an independent expert opinion, not necessarily an opinion from a contractor. So your options on that are two: one is low cost; one, I would say, is moderate cost.

    The low-cost option would be to find a local professional home inspector. You can go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org.

    DREAMA: OK.

    TOM: And you can put in your zip code. They’ll shoot back a list of certified professional home inspectors in your area. You can call from that list, find somebody that’s experienced and have them look at it. Because they’re just there to find out what’s going on and what caused it and what it’s going to take to fix it.

    The second way to go, which is the moderate cost, is to actually hire a structural engineer. Now, why may you want to do that, Dreama? Well, you might want to do that – if this is a fairly obvious problem, you want to certainly preserve the value of your house.

    DREAMA: Right.

    TOM: And if you have a structural engineer look at it and write a report as to what’s going on and what it’s going to take to fix it and then you actually give that report to a contractor and say, “This is what I want you to do,” and then you have the engineer sort of recertify that it was done correctly. It’s kind of like having a pedigree that the repair is done correctly and then kind of sell with your house, so to speak.

    Problem with contractors is that they’re not structural engineers; they’re just handy guys and they think that they have the expertise to fix stuff like this and they just don’t. They don’t have the schooling, they don’t have the education, they don’t have the training. And so, that’s not necessarily the best way to go about dealing with a situation like this.

    I am a little concerned that it happened over this past year, because it sounds like it’s active and we want to get to the bottom of why it’s active and why it’s showing up all of a sudden.

    DREAMA: Well, someone had mentioned that it’s a possibility – we’ve had a lot of dry – several dry summers and – because that could cause a settling in the foundation. Is that possible? I’ve never heard of that before.

    TOM: No. I mean there are some expansive soils that behave differently when they dry out a lot but listen, there’s going to be a lot of opinions. Every neighbor you ask is going to have a different one. What we’re trying to do is move you towards an expert opinion so you really know what you’re dealing with.

    So, as I said, contact a professional home inspector or a structural engineer. Get the assessment. It’s well worth it. Your home is a big investment. We want to make sure it’s protected, OK?

    DREAMA: I hadn’t thought of a home inspector. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Dreama. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if home is where the heart is, then kitchens are clearly one of the most vital organs that convert that house into a home. So it’s no surprise that kitchen renovations are among the most popular remodeling projects tackled each year. But while any home improvement projects can be complicated, major kitchen remodeling can completely turn your life upside down, not to mention all the fast-food pounds you’re going to be putting on while you’re waiting for that kitchen to welcome you back.

    TOM: Yeah, good point. But to avoid those home improvement hassles, it makes sense to break down the project into modules. You can complete them independently of one another. This not only makes that project go faster, it’s a lot more manageable to handle it in the small chunks. And each one can have its own visual impact and cut down on the need for a more major makeover.

    LESLIE: Yeah. For example, changing your kitchen countertop or painting the cabinets or just replacing all of that cabinet hardware, those are projects that can be done in hours, not weeks. And they result in a really attractive transformation.

    TOM: Yep. And likewise, replacing the kitchen floors or improving kitchen lighting or just painting a room can deliver a fresh, new look to that space.

    You can also think about replacing the faucets with water-efficient models, as well as switching out old appliances for more energy-efficient, ENERGY STAR-certified products. And together, you can lower those utility costs across the board.

    LESLIE: And today’s Building with Confidence Tip has been brought to you by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. It’s completely online, reduces annoying and time-consuming paperwork and gives you a real accurate and personalized mortgage solution based on your unique financial situation, with no hidden fees or hassles.

    TOM: Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. Apply simply, understand fully, mortgage confidently.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Cody in Kansas on the line who has a sheetrock question. What can we do for you today?

    CODY: Well, we’re actually renovating our kitchen and – first renovation; we’ve never done this. We have wood-paneling walls and I’m wondering, can you sheetrock over the wood paneling? Do we need to do a complete teardown and tear it out before we sheetrock?

    TOM: You could drywall on top of that but I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think you’re better off taking that old – those old, wood walls down. You’re going to get a much cleaner look when you’re done and I just don’t think it’s a good idea to have all that extra material on your wall.

    CODY: OK. Is there – should I go with ¼-inch drywall? Should I go with ½-inch?

    TOM: Is this regular paneling that’s like an 1/8- or ¼-inch thick?

    CODY: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah, that should come down fairly quickly. Once you pull all the electrical cover plates off the boxes, you should be able to get that going at the seams and pull that right off. And then just lightly sand the walls, if there’s any imperfections there, and then you can apply new drywall on that.

    You could use probably – if you have existing drywall there, you could use 3/8-inch drywall as your second coat. And if you glued it, make sure you can – you’ll need fewer fasteners but make sure you overlap the seams. So don’t use the same exact seams as exists in the original wall. Does that make sense?

    CODY: Yes. And the original wall, I believe, is the – it’s lath and plaster; it’s not actual drywall.

    TOM: Oh, plaster lath? Yeah. I would definitely go on top of that. I would not pull down the plaster lath. I’ve done that job both ways and it’s a lot cleaner if you just go over it. But keep in mind you’re going to have to extend the electrical boxes and perhaps trim around windows and doors and that sort of thing to compensate for the additional thickness.

    CODY: OK. Alright. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re talking to Georgia in Texas who’s got a question about tile flooring. How can we help you with your project?

    GEORGIA: Yes. I live in a house that my grandparents originally built back in 1950. The flooring in the kitchen is what I refer to as the old linoleum. A rubber-topped linoleum is what I thought. But it is crumbling and someone at a tile place told me it is probably asbestos, because of the age of it. So, I have been told, yes, I can it rip it up and it’s OK or no, don’t mess with it and put something over it, like cement board, and then retile.

    TOM: So, this tile floor is located where?

    GEORGIA: In the kitchen.

    TOM: And how old is the tile floor?

    GEORGIA: It was put in in 1950.

    TOM: Well, if you want to determine whether there’s asbestos in it, you’d have to take a piece of tile and have it tested.

    GEORGIA: OK.

    TOM: But if it’s the original floor and you want to put a different floor over it, there’s really no reason not to. Laminate floor, for example, would be a good choice for a kitchen. And there’s no reason you can’t lay that right over the existing tile.

    GEORGIA: Well, no, it is literally cracking and crumbling. I trip over it every day and another new piece goes flying across the floor.

    TOM: Again, what I would do is I would probably not – tell you not to tear it up. It’s most likely simply vinyl tile. But if you want to be safe, just leave it in place and go ahead and floor right over it.

    GEORGIA: OK. Well, I wasn’t sure, you know? The flooring underneath it – the wood underneath it – is still good. So, yeah, I just wasn’t sure which way to go or how to go about it, if I should go to the expense to put down the cement boarding and then put the – on top of the floor, screw it down and then put tile over on that.

    TOM: Well, why are you going to put the cement floor down? Are you going to put ceramic tile down?

    GEORGIA: It’d be nice. I grew up calling it “Mexican tile” or tile that’s made in Mexico.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    GEORGIA: And it’s heavy and you’ve got to putty it and you’ve got to work with it and stuff.

    TOM: Well, certainly, if you’re going to do it that way, you could put the board underneath the tile, right on top of the floor. There’s no reason you couldn’t do that, as well, OK?

    GEORGIA: OK. Thanks.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Still to come, does your home pass the safety check when it comes to little ones? We’ll tell you what steps you need to take to babyproof your home before the pitter-patter of little feet arrive.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, going on, right now, is the Good Night’s Sleep Sweepstakes at MoneyPit.com. Everybody wants a good night’s sleep. We all are searching for it. Well, let us help you get it. There are over $4,000 in prizes, including a very super-comfortable mattress, sheets and a pillow set. You can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com and then share the sweepstakes with your friends for even more chances to win.

    TOM: And hey, Money Pit fans, check us out on Twitter. You can tweet us pictures of your do-it-yourself projects and get great tidbits of info daily. Follow us at MoneyPit.com or call us, right now, with your question to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Barry in Tennessee needs some help with his Jacuzzi. What can we do for you?

    BARRY: Well, what happened was the drain got stopped up. So I took some Crystal Drano and poured it and it got on the tub itself. And it burnt all the way around the drain. I mean it’s burnt plastic. So I was wondering, is there a way to get that back to looking new or do I just have to replace the whole tub?

    TOM: Well, unfortunately, you’ve chemically damaged the tub by using caustic drain cleaners. We really don’t like caustic drain cleaners for reasons just like this. They don’t really work very well to begin with. And what happens is you end up overusing them or spilling them and I’ve seen them melt tubs and melt plastic before. There’s a new drain-cleaning product on the market right now that I’ve just come across and it’s fantastic. It’s called DRAIN-FX. The website is DRAINFX.com.

    And essentially what this is is for under $20, you’re purchasing what’s, in essence, a pressure washer for your clogged drain lines. You hook this up to the sink faucet. It has a long tube that you can run hot water down. You drop this into the trap and then you turn the water on and it blasts the clogs away.

    It’s under 20 bucks. Check it out at DRAINFX.com. You should have one in your toolbox because you never know when this is going to happen. And look, you could save yourself not only the hassle of a clogged pipe but in your case, the hassle of potentially replacing a tub or learning to live with the ugly stains that have resulted.

    Do not use caustic drain cleaners on these surfaces. Take a look at DRAIN-FX. It’s a much better option.

    Barry, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    BARRY: Thanks.

    TOM: Well, when it comes to protecting kids, nothing short of a rubber room can be completely child-safe. But hey, with some common sense, you can definitely remove the most worrisome hazards. So let’s take a look at some of those.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First, let’s talk about your windows. Now, they may look completely harmless but if your window blinds still have cords, know that they are one of the most dangerous items in your house for babies and young kids. If you’ve got them, you want to shorten all those long cords and tie them up and away from the reach of those little hands. You can even Google “Window Covering Safety Council” for some information on a free tassel-shortening kit.

    TOM: Now, another big concern is this: furniture tipping. Kids love to climb, so any shelving is going to be very attractive. So you want to make sure that any kinds of shelving that you have or large TV stands or any kind of other potentially climbable furniture is actually anchored to the wall. You can add a simple strap or an L-bracket at the top of it. It may not be all that visible with a couple of screws in the wall and one on the piece of furniture. And that will, at least, stop it from easily pulling away if the kids decide that they’re going to use that as their next ladder.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, here’s another thing that you could find surprising. If you’ve got squeaky-clean sliding-glass doors, that spells a lot of trouble because kids often forget that there’s a door there. And then they walk or run, more likely, right into it. And if the glass breaks, there can be some serious injuries as a result. So, let the kids have some fun. You can apply decorative details at your kids’ eye level. There are so many at the craft stores. They are removable. There’s actually even – I hate to say it but there’s some markers that you can buy that are made specifically for kids to draw on glass. So, let them have a little bit of fun. It’ll keep them safer in the long run.

    TOM: And you also want to make sure you take a look at your stairs and railings. Now, the railings need to be at least 3 feet tall and have no more than 6-inch spaces between any of the spindles. At the same time, make sure those handrails are in place for all stairs and make sure the handrails have a closed end. Handrails that don’t wrap around to the wall can catch loose sleeves and cause a fall.

    So, just a few things that you guys could tackle in a weekend that could really stop some serious injury when it comes to those kids. We’ve got a complete list of all of these kid-safety tips at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Linda, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    LINDA: We had a new kitchen floor installed about a week-and-a-half ago. It was a middle-of-the-road-grade sheet vinyl. And a couple of hours after the installers left, we were moving stuff back in. And we moved the refrigerator and it gouged it a couple of times. And the flooring has a 15-year warranty, so they said they would honor that and replace it or patch it or whatever. But then, two days after that, my eight-month-old puppy got a hold of the seam and ripped it in several places and also took a couple of chunks out of the middle of the floor.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    LINDA: So, I called the gal – the rep – back and she suggested going with an LVT click-it tile – luxury vinyl tile.

    TOM: OK.

    LINDA: And I was just wondering what you guys thought as – if that would be a viable option, mainly because of the dog. I just don’t know.

    And another thing is she was saying that they would probably install it right over the floor that they just put down, so that would mean we have the subfloor, my old floor, the new floor and then this tile on top of it.

    LESLIE: It’s a floor sandwich.

    LINDA: Yeah.

    TOM: First of all, whether or not you can put it on top of old layers of floor is really a manufacturer specification. It’s not unusual.

    For example, when you put down laminate floor, that always sits on top of whatever is underneath it, because it kind of floats. So it might be that it’s perfectly fine.

    LINDA: Right.

    TOM: Luxury vinyl tile is probably way more durable than sheet vinyl. Sheet vinyl tends to be really soft, so I’m not at all surprised that it got torn up just by moving the refrigerator back and forth. I mean you would think that if you’re in the flooring-design business, that that would be sort of a standard. Like if your kitchen floor can’t handle a refrigerator being rolled back and forth, you probably shouldn’t be in the business.

    LINDA: Right.

    TOM: But unfortunately, a lot of those sheet products are very, very soft and can easily tear. It’s a darn good thing that you got your claim in, though, before the dog ripped the rest of it up. Because otherwise, they may not have had any interest in helping you.

    But I do think a tile is going to be a pretty durable option. I wouldn’t be too concerned about putting it on top of the old floor as long as it’s permitted by the manufacturer’s installation instructions, which you certainly should ask to – for a copy of so that you can review.

    LINDA: OK. Alright. Well, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright, Linda. I hope you love that dog. It’s costing you a lot of money.

    LINDA: Yeah, we do. We do. Alright. Thank you.

    LESLIE: As that saying goes, you guys, good fences make good neighbors. We’re going to have tips on picking the perfect fence and how it needs to be installed to keep those neighbors happy and also add value to your home, after this.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And hey, we want to help you get an amazing night’s sleep this coming spring season. Going on, right now, at MoneyPit.com is the Good Night’s Sleep Sweepstakes. We are giving away over $4,000 in prizes in bedding, pillows, sheets and a mattress from our favorite mattress maker, Tuft & Needle. You can enter once a day at MoneyPit.com and share the sweepstakes to earn bonus entries with your friends and really help you get more chances to win this awesome mattress.

    TOM: And if you’ve got a home improvement question, you are in exactly the right place. You can post that question to us at MoneyPit.com or call, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to help Bud in Oregon avoid a hair-raising electrical situation.

    What’s going on, Bud?

    BUD: I’ve got 3 banks of the 2 bulbs each, 4-foot-long mounted up in the ceiling, built into a box directly over my cooktop. And during the summertime, when the humidity is higher, if I get any moisture up there, it can take sometimes days before those lights will come on reliably on the first flip of the switch.

    Now, in the winter, when I’m burning a wood stove, which means I’ve got lower humidity inside the house, if I’m cooking on the cooktop and don’t turn the lights on before, I get the same problem. Except as soon as the moisture stops going up there and I’ve got 10, 15 minutes, then the lights will start coming back on regularly and be reliable again.

    So, what I need to know from you, if you’ve got some suggestions, is before I get up there and start looking for how to do something, I want to know what I need to have in stock. Is there something – a lubricant, a cleanser or whatever – to do something with contacts or got any suggestions?

    TOM: I would give up on those fixtures.

    BUD: Yeah, I would, too. I think you’re right.

    TOM: I would just give up on them. They don’t sound safe to me. I’m not quite sure what exactly is going wrong with them but they certainly shouldn’t be behaving that way. And I would worry about them getting worse and potentially causing a fire.

    The cost of a 4-foot, dual-bulb fluorescent fixture is not very much today. And so I would simply take this on as a project and replace each and every one of them. I wouldn’t try to change the ballast out, I wouldn’t try to clean it, I wouldn’t try to do anything like that. I would just replace them. It’s just not worth it.

    BUD: It’s not what I wanted to hear but it’s a good thing and it’s probably cheaper in the long run to spend the $8, $10 per what you – put up 3 brand-new ones.

    TOM: Exactly.

    BUD: OK. I’ll just look for a good time when I can do it without breaking my neck.

    TOM: That’s always important. Bud, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, putting up a fence can add style and security and value to your property. But it can also be an eyesore and a maintenance headache and potentially cause a battle with your neighbors. So if you want to avoid those hassles, you need to plan it very carefully.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, you’ve got to check your property lines. You want to make sure that you don’t accidentally build your fence on your neighbor’s property. You also want to check with local officials to make sure that you don’t need a permit to build one. And once you’re sure about all of those things, you can then start thinking about what kind of fence.

    TOM: Yeah. And fencing is available in lots of materials, including natural pressure-treated boards, vinyl and metal. Now, the natural wood is beautiful but is definitely going to require the most maintenance.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, guys, remember there are two sides to a fence. It has to look good from the outside – you know, the part that your neighbors see – as well as the inside, the parts that you see. And don’t try to save money on your gate. That is the part of your entire fence that’s going to take the most wear and tear. And it can also be a security risk if somebody accidentally leaves it open. So, add a spring hinge that will help it swing back into place. That’s really important, especially if you’ve got a pool.

    TOM: For more tips, head on over to MoneyPit.com and Google “best fence advice.”

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading on over to Delaware to chat with Ruth, who’s having an issue with water heating. Tell us what’s going on.

    RUTH: Our water heater is – I’m guessing it’s around 12 years old. And whenever I use the hot water, it doesn’t seem to last very long. And so a couple months ago, maybe 6 months ago, my husband and his friend – and his friend, I guess that’s what he does for a living. They emptied the water heater and they put two new elements in. But in my opinion, it’s still doing the same thing, like it didn’t – to me, it didn’t change the length how long the hot water lasted.

    TOM: And this is an electric water heater?

    RUTH: It’s not gas; it’s electric, yes.

    TOM: And so, when they replaced the elements, they tested both elements to make sure they actually work?

    RUTH: I’m not sure if they did that. I don’t know. He said they put new elements in. I’m assuming they – I guess I could ask them later if they did that.

    TOM: Because here’s the thing. When you have a water heater that’s electric and it runs out of hot water quickly, it’s usually because one or the other of the two elements burn out or the control circuit breaks down so that they don’t actually come on. So, what you do, as a technician, is you run a continuity tester on these coils. And it’s a way of determining whether or not they’re working or not.

    Electric coils for a water heater is just like a light bulb: it either works or doesn’t work; there’s no in between. And so, the first thing I would do is check the continuity on both of these coils to make sure they’re both physically working. Because what you’re describing, to me, sounds like one is not and that could be the whole source of the problem, OK?

    RUTH: Alright.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Still ahead, tips to help you spruce up your bathroom for a whole new look, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, on The Money Pit’s Listener Line at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: You can get matched with background-checked home service pros in your area and compare prices, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.

    TOM: No matter what the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.

    We’ve got some pro advice here to dish out right now to the folks that have posted their questions this past week to our Community section, starting with Patricia.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Patricia writes: “We have a home that was built in 1920. We want to take an upstairs bedroom and turn it into our master bath. There’s a set of windows. Our contractor says we do not need a fan in the room because of those windows. We live in a four-season area and I don’t know if I’m going to be willing to open that window in winter. Should we have a fan installed?”

    TOM: Yeah. Patricia, while it’s actually technically correct that a bathroom with a window that allows for ventilation does not require a fan, it’s also correct that you definitely don’t want to open that fan – open that window – in the winter to ventilate your space. So, we would definitely recommend a fan.

    But it’s absolutely crucial that the fan exhausts to the outside of the house, so you’ve got to figure out how to do that. I mean you can also run a duct up through the attic and then outside or you can run the duct through the roof or down through the soffit. There’s lots of ways to do this but the duct has got to get outside. Never allow that duct to exhaust into the attic or the crawlspace or any other enclosed area. It’s only going to lead to a big moisture buildup and it can absolutely make for perfect conditions for mold growth and quite a mess from there.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And why not get your fan connected to a humidistat so it comes on when the bathroom is humid and it goes off when it’s no longer needed? It’ll take all the guesswork out of it.

    TOM: Well, now is the perfect time to think about redecorating spaces in your home for a fresh look. Leslie has tips on where you can get an easy start, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    Leslie? Where do we begin?

    LESLIE: Yeah. First, begin by taking a look at the rooms around your house and see what changes you can make that can bring some new pizzazz. Everybody needs some freshening up, especially this time of year. So start by looking at what you’ve got.

    Now, I think the bathroom is really a great place to start. And a few things that you can do, which are super simple, is to replace your shower curtain and bring in a pop of color or you can tie back a drape. Those are just adding layers of color and pattern and texture. And that can be a very big change.

    Also, think about inexpensively replacing your towels and bath mats. That will give you an entirely fresh feel. And remember, again, patterns in all those places. And it’s fun to mix patterns. Don’t overthink it. If it looks fun and it looks good to you, it’s going to look good to everybody else.

    Now, you can even take this bathroom remodel – I’m going to call it a “remodel” but it’s not, really – a step further with a fresh coat of paint. You know, bathrooms also are the perfect place for wallpaper, even if you just put it on an accent wall. But you want to make sure that you have a vinyl-coated one – one that’s made for a space that’s more damp – and then you’ll have success there.

    Now, you can also think about changing out the hardware on your vanity or even change out the towel racks. There’s nothing wrong with replacing your towel racks or your toilet-paper holder, any of those things with a different finish. Gold has made a big comeback, so that would be like a brass, even the darker bronze finishes. Mix it up. Have some fun. But I would stick with a new color across the entire board.

    Now, if you’ve got a typical sconce lighting around your mirror, why not consider adding a chandelier or another overhead fixture? It’s just going to bring a different level of lighting into the space and it adds a lot of character.

    So you can start big, you can start small whatever it is. But make that bathroom fresh for the new season and you’ll love it again.

    TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk about ladder safety. Why? Because ladder falls send hundreds of people to emergency rooms every year. There’s some simple steps that you can follow before stepping foot on that ladder, to make sure your project is done without that extra trip to the ER.

    That wraps up this edition of The Money Pit. The show does continue online.

    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.

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (Copyright 2018 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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