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: And we are here to help you with your home improvement questions, your décor dilemmas. Whatever you’d like to get done around your home, give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community section at MoneyPit.com and we will give you a hand.
Hey, we’ve got a great show coming up. First up, with the hot weather upon us, now is the right time to make sure your A/C is good to go and keeping you cool all summer long. So we’re going to have some tips on the maintenance you need to do right away to make sure your system is up for the job.
LESLIE: And speaking of the summer, once schools wrap up in the next couple of weeks, vacation season really seems to get underway. But when you’re away, the burglars can play. We’re going to have some tips to help keep your house secure.
TOM: And it’s open-house season. If your home is on the market, holding an open house is a great way to draw in potential buyers. But keeping them interested takes some careful house staging. We’ll have some tips on how to do just that, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Plus, if you give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Money Pit community at MoneyPit.com, we will toss your name into the Money Pit hard hat for a chance to win some terrific, new prizes this hour. First up, we’ve got the Orbit B-hyve Smart Sprinkler Timer from The Home Depot.
Now, this is a Wi-Fi-enabled sprinkler timer that lets you operate your sprinklers from anywhere. And it has a WeatherSense technology built into it to provide smarter watering based on the actual weather at your home.
TOM: Plus, we’ll also help you breathe easier in your home because we’ve got a one-year subscription to FilterEasy.com, also going out to one caller drawn at random.
Now, this is worth 240 bucks. And with all the allergens in the air right now, it’s the perfect time to get on a plan to change your filter. So there you have it. Lots of stuff to give away but we want to take your calls, your questions about what’s going on in your money pit. So let’s get started. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?[radio_anchor listorder=”1″]LESLIE: Erin in Louisiana is on the line. How can we help you today?
ERIN: Hi. I have a slab house that’s about 35 years old and it’s showing signs of needing to be leveled. But I thought I heard on a previous show of yours that you do not recommend leveling a house; just fix the issues that come up as it needs it. And I didn’t know if I heard correctly or not, so I thought I would call and ask about that.
LESLIE: Well, tell me, how much of a slope are you noticing, throughout the property, on the interior of the home?
ERIN: No, we’re seeing cracks in the walls, cracks in the ceiling, cracks in the floors.
LESLIE: OK. Now, if you put a marble on the floor in some of these rooms that you’re seeing these cracks, does it roll all around wildly? If it does roll, how fast?
ERIN: I actually have not done anything like that.
LESLIE: Ah, the marble test. It’s very fun. That will tell you if the ground itself is level.
Now, if you’re seeing cracks in the walls and in the ceiling, are they sort of near a doorway or a window or are they just square in the middle of stuff?
ERIN: Well, there’s a crack in the floor that’s square in the middle of the floor and it extends out into a – we have a sliding-glass door and the brick above the sliding-glass door is separated.
And then, we also see it – I also see it in rooms next to the wall, where it’s like – the house is shaped like a T. And where one part of the top of the T goes into the long part of the T, I can see it separating there against the – in the ceiling.
LESLIE: You know, generally, if you see cracks and they’re by a doorframe or a window, that’s just general movement because of the opening in the envelope of the home, being in a window opening or a doorway in an interior wall. Now, if you’re seeing it like in the middle of the floor and above a doorframe in brick, you might be concerned that there could be some structural issues going on. However, you might want to bring in a structural engineer.
You bring in an engineer or even a home inspector and for a couple of hundred bucks, they’ll come in and look at these areas and diagnose, specifically, what’s going on there. Because it could be something structural that could need to be fixed in a way that you can’t just do by repairing the crack. Or it could just simply be natural settlement of the home over the duration of the home’s lifespan and that’s easily fixable.
But because you have a crack forming in the middle of a floor and that continues to a doorway, I would definitely bring in somebody who’s a structural engineer and they can write up a report on it. And the benefit of doing that is that when you do fix this, whatever the problem may be, you are going to have a full, written pedigree of what you’ve done to the problem in the home, how you’ve fixed it and what everything was done correctly. This way, if you go to sell the home and somebody says, “Oh, I saw a crack,” or whatever the situation might be, you can say, “Actually, this happened. We did this repair and it’s all square.”
TOM: Erin, some cracks are really typical wear and tear, so to speak. But this one definitely sounds like you need a pro to check it out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.[radio_anchor listorder=”4″]LESLIE: Randy in Illinois is on the line with a kitchen-cabinet question. How can we help you today?
RANDY: Yeah, I recently purchased a home and it had some all-wood cabinets in the kitchen. And they’re half bisque-colored and they’re half of a lighter color, depending on which part of the cabinet you look at. And I’m trying to figure out how – a way to get them back to either all one color or the lighter version.
TOM: What’s the material that your cabinets are made out of?
RANDY: I believe it’s oak but it could be pine.
TOM: Well, assuming that the oak is finished, one of the issues that you’re going to have is that you can’t really stain it and change the color. So you’d have to either paint it or you’d have to sand it down. Since most of those cabinets are covered with veneer, it makes it also difficult for you to be able to sand enough of that finish off to have it accept stain.
So, your resulting options would be to reface the cabinets, which is adding new veneer to it, or to paint the cabinets to get that consistent look.
RANDY: OK. OK. That sounds good. I’ll do that. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. From small repairs to a major remodel, HomeAdvisor is the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project.
TOM: Up next, wouldn’t it be great if your sprinkler system was tied into the weather so it never came on in, say, a thunderstorm? Well, that’s exactly what the new Wi-Fi-enabled Orbit B-hyve Smart Sprinkler Timer does from The Home Depot. It’s worth 119 bucks and we’ve got one to give away to one lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you and call in your home improvement question, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
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.
888-MONEY-PIT is the number to call to help you with whatever it is that is going on at your money pit this spring to summer season. We want to help you get your house in tip-top shape.
888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor. Hey, with all the spring rain that just passed, are you ready for a new roof? HomeAdvisor will instantly match you with the right pro for the job, for free.
TOM: Give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win. This hour, we’re giving away the Orbit B-hyve Smart Sprinkler Timer from The Home Depot.
This is pretty cool because this is a Wi-Fi-enabled sprinkler timer that has a technology called WeatherSense built into it, which basically is going to give you smart watering based on the environment. One thing that I really hate is when it’s pouring rain and you see people that have their sprinklers on. Well, they just don’t have the technology in place to stop that from happening. It’s a tremendous waste, so this can really save you some water by adjusting the amount of sprinkling that you get, based on what’s going on with the weather.
It’s got an easy-to-use mobile app that works off Wi-Fi with Android and iOS devices. It’s weather-resistant, so it can be mounted indoors or out. You’ll find it at The Home Depot for 119 bucks but we’ve got one to give away to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Money Pit Community page at MoneyPit.com.[radio_anchor listorder=”2″]LESLIE: Beth in Texas is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?
BETH: I had four columns on the front of my house and I live downtown in an old neighborhood. It has beautiful, 150-year-old oak trees. I have these four columns and I have – the wood rots out from the – it has – those columns sit on concrete.
And last time I had them fixed, which was about 10 years ago, they put a plastic or some kind of a block that’s the same size as the column. It’s a barrier kind of – a moisture barrier, maybe, between the concrete and the pole.
So, then time passes and here comes the rot again. And so I said, “Oh, my gosh.” So I dug out the rot again and I went to Home Depot and I got some of that product that, you know, you can fill in with (inaudible at 0:09:54).
LESLIE: Like a Bondo.
BETH: Right, right. It’s some kind of a – it has wood in it but it’s plastic. It’s some – I don’t know what it is. Anyway, I did that. And of course, my wounds were so deep, I could only put – layer about a ¼-inch in and it took me forever to fill up the little holes.
And so I finally got it to the edge and I sanded it. It looked pretty darn good. And so I painted it. And then, I put the first coat on and I said, “Oh, this paint’s kind of thin,” so I put another coat on. So in the meantime, here comes all this pollen from these giant oak trees. And all this stuff, it falls from the trees on my freshly painted wood. I started crying.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Oh, no.
BETH: I literally started crying because I didn’t know what in the world to do. My paint – I mean that stuff just sucked it up like a sponge. And so I didn’t know what to do.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, where are you now with the columns? Are you at a point where you need to replace them again? Are you trying to just figure out a fix?
BETH: Well, actually, what I did is I went back and I lightly sanded – I waited for a while and then I sanded it lightly and then I put another topcoat on it. And I don’t know. I still have little – I don’t know what it is. It’s not yellow pollen but it’s something that’s kind of – my paint is bumpy; it’s not nice like it should be after all that work.
LESLIE: Well, here’s a couple of solutions. You do need to sand it if you want to get the surface nice and smooth again. That’s truly the only thing that’s going to get rid of the pollen that’s sort of embedded itself into that wet paint.
Then, once you get a nice, smooth surface on that column again, what you want to try to do is – and I know it would be a pain in the butt but it’s going to be super-duper-duper helpful if you can get some paint tarps: plastic, canvas, whatever. If there is a way to sort of build a tent in these tarps around the area, to keep the pollen from sort of wafting in there while the paint is drying and while you’re painting – it’ll be unsightly while the process is happening, just because your beautiful front of your home will be draped in tarp. But it will actually help to keep the air circulating behind it to actually dry the column paint but it will keep things from landing on it.
So I would look into a way to do that. They make all sorts of little prop poles and different things that work for tarps but also a couple of good clips. Maybe you’ve got an overhang there or something that you can clip onto without damaging a gutter. So, that really could do the trick.
Now, fast forward to a couple of years down the road when you end up with such an amount of rot again, you might want to consider replacing the columns with an architectural composite column.
Now, in a lot of cases, because – your wood column is actually a support, correct?
BETH: Yes, ma’am.
LESLIE: So what you might end up doing is they might replace that wood column – since you’ve done that before, they might replace the wood column with some sort of post that would be metal, that would be structural.
And then there is an actual decorative wrap, that looks exactly like the same type of fluted column or whatever type of column you might have, that wraps around that support pole. And then it’s a composite, so once it’s painted and finished, you won’t have to paint it again for a long, long, long, long time. Because it’s not made of an organic material, it’s not going to take that moisture up that you’re getting from the concrete. And it’s going to simply clean up with soap and water.
So, keep that in mind for down the road. And they would do that a column at a time and make them structural. So, there are ways to get around it but you’re going to have to sand again.
BETH: I know. It doesn’t look too bad but it doesn’t look too good, either. But thank you so much. I’ll try those tips.
TOM: Well, vacation season is just a couple of weeks away and a good time to think about what steps you need to take to make sure your home stays safe and secure. So, we’ve got a few tips that we hope will help.
LESLIE: First of all, a well-lit home is much less likely to be broken into. So you want to make sure that your home’s exterior is fully illuminated with motion-detector spotlighting.
TOM: Next, keep the landscape in shape. Dense shrubs can create a hideout, so you want to keep those hedges low and plantings that are near doors and windows neat and transparent so nobody can sneak in behind it and try to break into your house.
LESLIE: Yeah. Now, also, a door with only a handle lock, that really is an easy mark for a break-in. So, instead, you want to add a good-quality deadbolt at each entry. The best deadbolts require a key on the outside and incorporate a thumb-latch on the inside.
Now, you want to strengthen every installation by substituting long, heavy-duty screws for the ones that they give you from the manufacturer, so that those entry doors can really be secured to the wood-frame door opening in the wall.
TOM: Next, you want to get a good-quality security system. Even the strongest, most well-lit homes can’t stop a determined thief. So, why not take advantage of all the technology that a security system can offer?
Now, there are a wide range of DIY and professionally-installed options out there. For our house, we’ve used ADT for years. And I can tell you it’s really nice to know that they’re there watching the house when we’re not around, not only for break-ins but also for fire and carbon monoxide and even floods. It’s all possible with the right system.
RICK: Well, yes, I have a question about a bedroom wall. I’ll tell you real quick what I have. It’s a cinder-block wall and on the outside of it is a stone facing. And then on the inside, they just had furring strips and then plaster. So, no insulation and very cold in the winter.
So what we’re doing – we’re tearing down the plaster. We’re going to frame it out. We’re going to put – I guess it’s R-19, I think, it is in there and then drywall it. But my question is – we were talking about putting a thermal barrier onto the block itself. And I guess I have a couple of questions or concerns: A) is it going to be worth it? Is it going to raise the R-value any? And B) there’s not really going to be an air cavity. It’s just going to be the thermal barrier on the wall and then the insulation is going to be touching that, so I’m kind of afraid it’s going to act more of a conductor.
TOM: Well, what you might want to think about using there is Tyvec.
RICK: Oh, on the inside.
TOM: Yeah, on the inside. It’s vapor-permeable, so I think it’ll allow everything to breathe but it’ll keep some separation between the block and the frame.
And by the way, you’d be wise to leave at least an inch there in between and not have it up against the block, because you really don’t want to have an organic material like wood – and certainly not drywall – that close to a very damp source, which would be the concrete block. Because concrete blocks are very hydroscopic. They suck up a lot of water and – especially in periods of bad weather. So you do want to have a bit of a space there. But I think that I would cover the block first with Tyvec, then I’d frame up against that.
Now, another option, to kind of kill two birds with one stone, is consider spray-foam insulation. If you did spray-foam insulation, you could frame the wall and then you could spray into the framing, right up against the block wall. And then it would be cut flush with the wall and you would put your drywall right on top of that.
Now, spray foam has the advantage of being able to not only insulate but seal and draft-proof at the same time. We recently added spray-foam insulation to our entire home. Now, we have an existing home, much like you. And of course, it makes it difficult to get into the walls. But what we did was we put it in the box beams, which were all the way around this sort of perimeter of the basement and crawlspace, and we added it to the attics. And just those areas – without even doing the walls, because we weren’t opening the walls at this time – made a huge difference in the energy efficiency of the house. So, I’m a big fan of Icynene – I-c-y-n-e-n-e – as a result of that experience.
RICK: OK. Yeah, I didn’t even think about anything like that. I have to check into that.
Do you know – well, I guess I’d have to look that up online or whatever – if there’s somebody around my area?
TOM: I’m sure that there will be. Icynene is a Canadian company but they have dealers all across the country.
RICK: Now, if I didn’t do that and I just – I put the frame, the stud up to the block wall – you said to leave an inch. Like what would you recommend? How would you do that?
TOM: I would just simply frame the wall out away from the block.
TOM: And don’t attach the frame wall to the block wall. Because I’ll tell you, some of the worst cases of mold infestation we’ve seen is when you have wood framing attached to block walls and drywall which is, essentially, mold food.
In fact, one other thing you might want to consider is to not use drywall on that wall but use something called DensArmor, which is a fiberglass-faced drywall product. So without the paper face, you don’t have food to feed the mold. Make sense?
RICK: Alright. Well, thank you very much.
LESLIE: When the full heat of the summer arrives, you’ll be thankful if your A/C is working. But it might not be if you don’t get it serviced now. Air-conditioning expert Richard Trethewey from This Old House will be here to give us tips, just ahead.
TOM: And today’s This Old House segment is presented by the Citrus Magic brand of odor-eliminating air fresheners. Available in refreshing, long-lasting sprays, solids and exciting, new candles, experience the magic of Citrus Magic Odor Eliminators today.
We’ll be back with more of your calls and tips, after this.
RICHARD: This is Richard Trethewey from This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS and from the longest-running home improvement show on TV. We want to send a big congrats to Tom and Leslie from The Money Pit for being the most-downloaded home improvement podcast on iTunes.
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: 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 pricing, read verified reviews and book appointments all online, all for free.
TOM: No matter the type of job, HomeAdvisor makes it fast and easy to hire a pro you can trust.[radio_anchor listorder=”3″]LESLIE: Deb in Wyoming, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DEB: Yeah, I’ve got some trouble with an area of grass right in the middle of my yard. It’s probably 20×20.
LESLIE: The yard? Or the problem area?
DEB: The problem area is probably 20×20.
LESLIE: OK. That’s a big problem.
DEB: Yeah. And the lawn is pretty big and it grows really good all the way around this area. And it only – it’ll grow maybe an inch or two and then it kind of heads out and never really gets green. We put extra water on it and we fertilize it and aerate it, just like the rest of the lawn, but it just doesn’t look good. And seems funny that this would be just in one area.
LESLIE: Well, it could be that that area, for whatever reason, has a different pH balance than the other parts of your lawn itself. And therefore that the seed that you’re using is reacting differently to the soil than the other areas.
So, you might want to take a couple of soil samples from the problem area and have those tested. Sometimes, the home centers sell little kits. Sometimes, you might have to contact your local building department to find out who you can do that with. But you can have a soil test done pretty easily and inexpensively.
And once you know exactly what’s going on with the soil in this area, I mean that could be enlightening to have this information. Because you could be using the wrong seed, you could be using the wrong fertilizer. That will tell you exactly what type of fertilizer, when, how to water it. That’s really the key here and that should clear up a lot of this problem.
DEB: OK. That sounds great. I’ll sure give it a try.
TOM: Deb, I hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, it’s not that hot yet but in just a few short weeks, you’ll be reaching for your thermostat and cranking up your A/C.
TOM: And that’s why now is the perfect time to check your air-conditioning system, to make sure it’s ready to go before that sweltering heat sets in and you’re on the waiting list for a repairman. Here to give us tips on how to get that job done is This Old House HVAC expert Richard Trethewey.
RICHARD: Nice to be here, guys.
TOM: And there is nothing worse than finding out your A/C does not work on the hottest day of the summer.
RICHARD: I know.
TOM: It’s happened to all of us once or twice before. How do we make sure that we’re ready before the sun shows up?
RICHARD: Well, it only breaks down on the hot days.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: Of course.
RICHARD: And because you’re dealing with refrigerant and electricity, you really want to call a professional. And any professional is going to come in, he’s going to start by looking at the proper refrigerant or the Freon. There’s a bunch of different Freons being used. That’s all licensed and you want to make sure the right level is there; too little or too much will give you a lack of cooling.
You know, you also want to check all of the electrical components. It’s amazing to me how many times it’s nothing but a thermostat that’s got a loose wire in the back side of it and just some of the basics. We always think the worst but sometimes, it’s pretty straightforward.
And then it’s to clean the evaporator coils and the condenser coils. Now, the basic refrigeration cycle requires you to extract heat from inside the house and that means air that’s inside the house has to come up through that air handler.
Now, if you’ve got cat hair, if you’ve got no filters, if you’ve got things that are going to clog that coil, it’s going to affect the performance on the taking out of the heat side and the same thing on the other side, outside. If you have a condenser outside that’s supposed to be dumping heat to outside and that’s obscured by leaves or anything else, then you’ve got to make sure that’s clean. And so there’s always coil cleaners the professionals will use to try and degrease or to sort of cut some of that dirt off the coil.
TOM: I think homeowners tend to think that if it worked fine last summer, it’s going to work fine this summer.
RICHARD: Yeah. That’s right.
TOM: And they don’t understand the fact that the evaporator coil, to your point, takes air throughout the entire heating season, as well.
RICHARD: That’s right.
TOM: So that can get clogged even when you’re not running the A/C.
RICHARD: That’s right. Absolutely. That’s right.
Any motors, we want to oil if they can be oiled. You want to calibrate the thermostat; sometimes, it’s just loose on the wall. And you really want to check your filters; the filters are critical. And when I say that, that’s – the professionals are going to check it right off the bat. But there’s other things that the homeowners can do and that starts by checking those filters regularly.
LESLIE: Now, you mentioned that you really should bring in a pro but is it better to bring in the pro at the end of the cooling season or prior to the cooling season starting up? I mean because you mentioned it’s going to run during the winter, as well, and you could get some issues with the evaporator coil. So when do you get that pro in to do that maintenance?
RICHARD: No matter what I answer, people are only going to call for service when it breaks down. But it should be done before the cooling season.
RICHARD: You’re at the mercy of an overworked refrigeration staff if you wait for that hottest day of the year and it all breaks down, because everybody’s calling at the same time. You really – it’s much more sane and logical to call before the problem.
LESLIE: Now, what can you do, as a homeowner, to sort of either ready the system for that pro coming in or what things can you do on your own to keep things in tip-top shape?
RICHARD: Now, another really important thing to do is to change the filters. People don’t realize that the air from the house has to go up through this filter and has to then be heated or cooled and then it comes back into the room. Now, that means air is on a lot. If you’ve got cat hairs or dirt that could clog the filter, it’s going to affect the performance of that unit.
TOM: It’s not going to be nearly as efficient because the temperature has to get past all that. It’s almost an insulating mat on the filter.
RICHARD: That’s right. Some people will pull the filters out and then it becomes even worse because then the air-conditioning coil, which has got all kinds of fins in it, gets fully clogged and you’ve got to have a pro come in and clean it.
TOM: And that becomes the insulating mat.
TOM: Now, what about the filters? There’s so many different varieties out there.
LESLIE: And different price points.
TOM: And different price points, too. You have the basic – I call them the “pebble stoppers.”
RICHARD: That’s right.
TOM: They’re the real thin, fiberglass ones for the big cat hairs.
RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah.
TOM: But where do you think a happy medium is?
RICHARD: Well, at the least case, you should at least have those pebble stoppers, just to keep the cat hairs and the basics off. But we find most people settle on the electrostatic filter and that’s one that has a slight electrical charge into it.
RICHARD: Makes the dirt particles become positively charged and attract to the filter. And that’s something you can pull out and wash in the dishwasher and bring back and it can give you high level of filtration.
TOM: And you probably don’t have to change it nearly as much. Certainly not once a month.
RICHARD: Well, that really depends on the air quality in the house. There are houses that if you look on a sunny day, there’s just dirt and dust particles flying all around. And a lot of times, household pets can actually exacerbate it pretty good.
TOM: Let me ask you about that winter cover because in the years I spent as a home inspector, we used to find those all the time. And I learned once that in some cases, the warranties on the compressors can be voided by that because of the condensation that collects under those covers. Do you think it’s a good idea to cover your compressor in the winter?
RICHARD: Well, basic, outside condensers are designed to be out – left out in the elements. So, it’s – some people are very nervous about leaves and things getting in, so they want to be put the covers on. And I’m not sure about the warranty item, Tom, as far as the compressor but – I’m not going to say don’t do it but you’ve got to make sure that you pull them off and you get plenty of airflow in the spring. You want – yeah.
TOM: It’s not going to very long if you try to operate it with that cover on it.
LESLIE: Not if you keep it on there.
RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah.
TOM: Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Because of your advice, I think a lot of us are going to be a lot more comfortable this summer.
RICHARD: Hope so.
LESLIE: Now, you can watch Richard and the entire This Old House team on This Old House or Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Well, what are you working on right now? We’d love to hear from you at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you pick up the phone and give us a call, we’ll also toss your name into the Money Pit hard hat for a brand-new subscription from FilterEasy.com.
These guys help make it easier to breathe this summer because this subscription service will send you a brand-new filter every two months, for an entire year, for free. Just call, right now, for your chance to win or post your question in the Money Pit Community section.
Back with more, 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, post your question in the Money Pit Community section at MoneyPit.com or give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a fantastic, new prize. It’s a one-year subscription to FilterEasy.com.
LESLIE: How great is this? You never have to remember exactly what size filter you need, what type of filter, when to get them, because they are constantly being delivered to you on a special subscription plan. FilterEasy.com really takes the hassle out of buying those air filters. And having good air filters in your home, you’re going to improve your indoor-air quality. That’s going to make you guys all feel so much better, especially during allergy season and really keep the cleanliness of the home up. More filters collect more things and then less dust for you to clean.
It can extend the life of your heating-and-cooling systems when the filters are changed regularly. And you can even reduce your energy bill by up to 15 percent when you do change those filters regularly. It’s going to cost less than going to the store. Plus, you don’t have to remember the size and they’re going to come right to you.
Check them out at FilterEasy.com. The prize pack today is worth 240 bucks. You’ve really got to go on there. You provide the size and then get right into the schedule system. It is a great prize package, perfect for any home.
TOM: Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random. Make that you. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, it’s open-house season right now and if your home is on the market, your realtor will no doubt be scheduling one soon. It’s a great way to get lots of potential buyers in the door. But before that happens, you need to make sure your house is truly ready to be seen.
LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, buyers need to be able to envision how they’re going to live in a space. So, clear up the clutter; that really is the best place to start. And then you can also open up rooms by removing larger surplus furnishings. If you don’t need it, move it out of the way. Make that room feel bigger right off the bat.
Now, buyers won’t notice if your home is spotlessly clean but they will notice if it isn’t. So, hire a cleaning service to make it sparkle and especially neutralize any odors by shampooing carpets and keeping your kitty-litter boxes clean. Even touches like new towels in the bathroom or a beautifully set dining table, that makes a huge impression. And don’t forget the outside of the house. You want to trim your lawn, weed the landscaping, prune the shrubs, add some flowers. Just step up that curb appeal because you want people to notice your home.
TOM: Yeah. And here’s the hardest thing you need to do: once the day of the open house arrives, leave. Get out. Buyers will ask more questions and take more interest if you’re not around. Let your realtor highlight the positive features of your home without you hovering in the background. I’m telling you, it makes a huge difference. Get out. There’s nothing that you can do that will make that sale any more successful by being there. Best thing to do – is the house ready? Then get out and let your agents do their job.[radio_anchor listorder=”5″]LESLIE: Clyde in Missouri is on the line and needs some help with a water heater. What can we do for you?
CLYDE: I’m adding a room on in my house and the water heater I’ve got, it’s electric, 30-gallon. And it’s taking up too much room I don’t have to spare. And my question is: is one of those in-line water heaters – would that be advisable for a resident?
TOM: You mean an on-demand, tankless water heater?
TOM: The problem is that you have electric. Do you have gas there – natural gas – or propane?
CLYDE: No. I can get propane alright. I don’t have a tank.
TOM: If you want to have an on-demand tankless water heater, you need to have that be fossil-fueled with either natural gas or propane. There are electric, on-demand systems but they’re very expensive to use and I don’t think there’s any efficiency in going with that. So, if you want to have propane added to the house, you can consider a tankless water heater.
Now, if you want to go back with what you do have now, of course, you are going to need the room. But you could save some costs if you put a timer on that water heater so that it only heats water when you need it. I mean technically, you only need it a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. All day long, it’ll stay warm for hand-washing and that sort of thing and it can be off in the middle of the night. And that actually cuts the energy costs associated with heating the water.
CLYDE: Uh-huh. Well, I’ve got a timer on it now but I haven’t been using it because I really couldn’t figure out the right time to be doing it.
TOM: Well …
CLYDE: It seemed like it was always cold when I needed hot and hot when I didn’t need it, so one of those kinds of deals.
TOM: Yeah, I hear you. I hear you.
CLYDE: So I thought, “Well, I’ll just leave it.” Is there anything …?
TOM: You know, they only work – the timers only work well if your family is on a regular schedule where you can really rely on it for certain hours of the day. But if your schedule varies a bit, then maybe not so much.
So, those are your options, though, alright? Good luck with that project.
CLYDE: Alright, man. Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Just ahead, greenhouses are the hottest, new trend in home hideouts. Find out more, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, greenhouses have long been popular as a place to start a garden but now they’re being put to whole, new recreational uses. All kinds of stuff that people are doing with greenhouses.
LESLIE: Yeah. Greenhouses really are the hottest, new trend in home hideouts. They’re not just for plants anymore. They’re doubling as serene spaces for relaxation, exercise and even entertainment, all in the presence of the plants, which have proven soothing powers.
TOM: Yep. Hammocks, outdoor furniture, all-weather floors and appliances can all dress up greenhouses, making them feel a lot less like a backyard building and more like sort of a solarium. So, think about building one yourself.
LESLIE: Seriously, guys. Let’s get right on this project. But in the meantime, let’s jump into some projects that people need help with from the Community section. Laura posted: “We bought a propane grill a year before selling our home and only used it once. When we moved into our new home, we found a natural-gas line, which was available for the grill. Is there a way of getting this propane grill to work with the natural gas? We paid almost $400 for this grill and I’d hate to throw it out and then find out there was a solution.”
First of all, if you have to get rid of it, don’t throw it out. Sell it to a friend, donate it.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. It was only used once. I’m sure you can sell it for at least 100 bucks, right?
TOM: There is a solution but it’s probably not cost-effective because, first of all, you can’t use natural gas on a propane grill, because they’re two completely separate fuels. They have different burners, they have different regulators, they have different orifices: the size of the hole in the burner where it comes out. So you can’t mix the fuels.
What you can do, though, is there’s a converter kit that will actually change the fuel from one to the other. But unless it’s a really expensive grill, it’s probably not going to be worth it. So I would tell you to just use that grill for another two or three years until you get some life out of it. And at that point, think about making the switch and buy a brand-new, permanently-installed natural-gas grill. Best way to handle it.
LESLIE: Which really is going to be amazing. Talk about sort of stepping into a lucky outdoor-kitchen situation with your new home. Really a good problem to have. And seriously, look into selling that grill. You’ll be so happy that you did.
TOM: That would be one of those projects that starts as just adding a natural-gas grill and ends up with an outdoor kitchen.
LESLIE: I just wanted this grill and now I have cabinets and all kinds of outdoor refrigeration and lots and lots of things.
Oh, my goodness. Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post here from Veronica who writes: “What can I do to repair spider vein-looking cracks around my ceramic bathtub drain? And what’s causing them?”
TOM: Well, little, tiny cracks around your drain basically mean that the tub’s finished or the glaze is kind of breaking down. You have a couple of options. Of course, you can replace the tub but that’s a major renovation. You could also reglaze it, which could either be a do-it-yourself project or one done professionally. But unfortunately, that’s not really a long-term solution. Or you can install a tub insert.
There are companies that make inserts that drop into the existing tub, just kind of relining the entire surface. And then, of course, there’s always option number four: learn to live with it. It’s not so bad. It’s not really causing any trouble. Just a bit of a cosmetic issue.
LESLIE: And seriously, stop staring at the drain in the tub. But truly, it’s not anything that’s majorly problematic. Like Tom said, it’s just a cosmetic issue. And if there’s something down the road that you can do, just do it then. It’s not going to be the end of the world right now. It’s just something that’s bothering you because you know it’s there.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Hey, if you couldn’t get through on the phones today, not a problem. You can call us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT and you can post your questions online at MoneyPit.com. And best of all, no matter when you call or post that question, we always toss your name in the Money Pit hard hat for one of the great prizes we give away every week on the show.
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 2017 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.)