- If you’re thinking about updating your kitchen but are concerned about the costs, we’re going to have tips on easy updates you can do over a weekend that can totally transform your space without the hassles.
- And it’s an age-old dilemma when your appliances break down: Fix ‘em, or replace them altogether? Our cheat sheet can help you save money and make the right choice.
- Plus, are you ready for a new washing machine? We’ll have tips to help you figure out which features are worth paying for and which you should skip.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Mayer from New Jersey has sticky Anderson windows that won’t open fully.
- Gail in Canada has a furnace that is dumping water into her crawl space soil.
- Scott from Georgia wants to know if he can install an attic ventilator even though he already has a ridge vent.
- Lisa in Michigan wants to know if her exhaust fan is for the whole house or just her bathroom.
- John from North Carolina is asking what the best spray foam insulation for his home is.
- June in Alaska has cracks in her bathroom ceramic tile and needs a solution.
- Bill in Texas has a problem with rusty grout in his tile shower.
- Jackie from Florida has a problem with her whirlpool dishwasher not working and have mold build up.
- Mike in Arkansas wants to know if he can combine the bath vent and the exhaust vent.
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: Hey, what home improvement projects do you have planned for this weekend? It might not just be this weekend. These days, we’re all working all kinds of crazy hours working from home, so maybe it’s this afternoon. I actually, personally, am thinking about doing a project this afternoon over at my condo that we’ve been fixing up. It’s a place we bought maybe years ago and we rent. I’m going to put in a new shower door. So the shower door is there waiting for me to get my butt over there and actually install it. And I thought, “You know what? I could probably do that in an hour or two. That would be a good job for me to do today.”
But whatever is on your to-do list, we would love to help. If you’ve got questions about how to get it done, if you want to hire a pro and don’t know what you need to know, what questions to ask, that sort of thing, we can help with that. But most importantly, you have to help yourself first. How do you do that? Well, you reach out to us. You can post your questions at MoneyPit.com or you can call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’re thinking about updating your kitchen but you’re concerned about the cost, we’re going to share some easy tips on updates you can do over a weekend, that can totally transform your space without the hassles.
LESLIE: And it’s the age-old dilemma of what do you do when the appliances break down. Do you fix them or do you replace them altogether? Well, we’ve got a cheat sheet that can help you save money and help you make that right choice.
TOM: Plus, are you ready for a new washing machine? We’re going to have some tips to help you figure out which features are worth paying for. Because, man, are there dozens of possible features in those machines today. So we’re going to share which ones are worth spending bucks on and which ones you should really skip.
LESLIE: But most importantly, we want to hear from you. What are you working on? Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. The cool thing about how we produce The Money Pit is that you can give us a call anytime, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT. Now, if we’re in the studio, we’re going to pick up the phone. But if we’re not, we’ll still pick up. We’re going to get some details and call you back the next time we record.
TOM: So, again, that number is 888-666-3974 or post your questions to MoneyPit.com.
So let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Mayor in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
MAYOR: Moved into a house about a year ago. It was built in 2007. And all the windows – they say on the windows Andersen Windows and I know which type they are. And all the windows only open very little until they get stuck. Then if you try to open it, it gets so stuck that I can’t even close it.
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what, the fact that you have Andersen windows tells me that I seriously doubt there’s anything wrong with the window itself. I suspect what happened here, Mayor, is there’s a problem with the installation. And if the jambs, which are the side pieces that the windows slide up and down on, if they were installed wrong so that there’s pressure pushing them inward, that can cause the condition that you’re describing.
I’ll tell you one way that that often happens: sometimes installers will use a spray-foam insulation, like the kind that’s polyurethane that expands and gets really, really hard. Something as simple as that can bend those jambs in and make it hard to open the windows. But I think what you’ve got here is definitely an installation problem and not a problem with that window.
So, to try to get to the bottom of it, you’re going to have to probably open up the trim on that window, from either the outside or the inside, to make sure the window was installed correctly. If it’s too tight in that opening or if there’s insulation pressing on it or if there are shims there that were put in too aggressively and bent those jambs inward, that would cause the condition that you’re describing.
I mean the good news is that an Andersen window is a very good window, so that’s why I suspect this has nothing to do with the window and has more to do with the way they were installed.
MAYOR: OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: Alright, Mayor. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Gail in Ontario is on the line.
How can we help you today?
GAIL: We just had a high-efficiency energy furnace and central air installed in our house. And I have a ranch-style house crawlspace. It’s all insulated. And they installed the furnace in the laundry room and they’ve got the condensate pipe from the furnace and the central air dripping into a bucket into the ground of the crawlspace. And there’s limestone in the bucket. And we’re at odds whether this is a good thing or not.
TOM: So you say it’s dripping into a bucket. Is this a sump pump, like a sump pit? Or is this just a bucket on the ground in the crawlspace? Kind of describe it for me.
GAIL: Yeah, it’s just a bucket with limestone in it. They cut a hole in my plastic that’s running along the bottom of the crawlspace and they’ve got the bucket over the – where they cut it. And yeah, the pipe is just dripping into the bucket, going through the limestone and in the ground.
TOM: They’re basically just dumping the water under the – underneath the vapor barrier. No, I don’t think that’s a very god idea at all. It’s really sloppy. What you should be doing in this case is you should – or they should, more accurately, have installed a condensate pump.
Now, a condensate pump is a small pump. It sits near the furnace and near the air handler. And then the moisture goes into that pump. And once it fills up, a float starts the pump up and then pumps that condensate up through usually a clear plastic tube or a small pipe and then outside. So you basically run it outside your house the same way you might discharge your gutter. For example, in my house, I have a condensate pump that discharges into the same splash block as my gutter downspout and it takes that water outside.
I don’t like the idea at all of just dumping it into the crawlspace soil, which is essentially what they’re doing here.
GAIL: Yeah, I’ll tell them that. Yeah. Like I was – we were – it was really bothering us because we didn’t think it was a good thing, because I’m thinking all that water going under there? It’s defeating the purpose of insulating the crawlspace.
TOM: Yeah. No, your intuition is spot-on, OK? So you call that Ontario, Canada contractor back and get him to fix that, OK?
GAIL: And thank you so much for calling me.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Scott in Georgia is on the line with a question about an attic fan.
How can we help you today?
SCOTT: Well, I have a house that has a ridge vent in it. And the temperature in the attic gets to be somewhere around 115 to120 degrees during the summer, which – and it gets pretty warm. So, to help with some of the, I guess, the insulation and I guess, some of the heat up there in the attic, I want to put in maybe an attic ventilator to help assist with the removal of some of that heat, get more airflow up there. But my concern is if I do that with a ridge vent, am I going to pulling air from the outside in through the ridge vent into the attic only to be evacuated again by the power ventilator?
LESLIE: And generally you’re going to – that’s exactly what’s going to happen. And then you’ll be also pulling, you know, whatever conditioned air from whatever leaks or spaces you have within the house into the attic space and then back out. So you’re kind of not achieving what you want to achieve there. However, you’ve got the ridge vent. Do you have soffit vents in play at your house?
SCOTT: Soffit. Yes, I do. I do have soffits. Yes.
LESLIE: And they’re not blocked by any insulation or …?
SCOTT: No, I’ve checked most of that. In some of the areas, I had to push the insulation down just to be sure there was a clear path. So, I would say, overall, probably maybe 90, 95 percent of it is unobstructed.
TOM: It sounds like you’re doing the right things. When was your house built, Scott? How old is it?
SCOTT: The house is about 10 years old. Now, it sits out and there’s no trees, there’s no shade or anything in the area. And of course, South Georgia, in the summers we get 100, 110 degrees so …
TOM: Because the thing is, even though it’s getting hot in that attic space, it is at ambient temperature, so that’s kind of – you’re not going to get it much cooler than that if you’ve got unobstructed soffit vents, you’ve got good soffit ventilation on both sides of the house, you have a really good ridge vent.
Now, sometimes I see ridge vents that are not very open there, especially the kind that I see that are corrugated-looking like. They don’t let enough air out. So, it might be worth looking at the type of ridge vent that you have.
The CertainTeed ridge vents – the company’s called Air Vent or the brand is called Air Vent. I think it’s AirVent.com. You’ll see that they have these metal ridge vents that have a folded edge on one side of it. That actually depressurizes the ridge and makes it more efficient, in terms of pulling air out of it. So you may not be getting as much air out of that ridge vent as you would like to.
Do you have gable vents on the end walls, as well?
SCOTT: Yes. Actually, I do.
TOM: So that – if the ridge vent and the soffit vent are set up correctly, you actually don’t need those gable vents. They actually can tend to make that structure inefficient because it kind of messes with the airflow. So I would look at the ridge vent that I have and make sure I’m getting plenty of air that is exhausting out of that. But as Leslie said, putting an attic fan next to that is going to be like a dog chasing its tail. You’re not really going to be very efficient and it could pull up air-conditioned air from your house and actually raise the cooling bill.
SCOTT: OK. That was my concern. I was just kind of thinking about that in my head and going, “Gee, whiz, would that ever happen?” But OK, because I’ve seen some houses around here that look like they have an attic ventilator but then they also look like maybe at least part of the roof or a section of the roof has a ridge vent so …
TOM: Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of people that just do that because they don’t know what else to do. But the problem with attic fans is that your house has all types of little gaps in it that connect the attic to the inside. Think about the framed wall and the outlet, for example. That’s an opening, right? And if your attic is depressurized, it’s going to want to suck air up from anywhere it can find. And that’s going to include the conditioned air – that expensive, comfortable, conditioned air – that’s inside your house. That’s why passive ventilation is always a better option.
SCOTT: OK, OK. So probably a CertainTeed would be a good brand or a good type of ridge vent?
TOM: Yeah, take a look at AirVent.com and look at the one that’s called a Multi-Pitch FilterVent. It’s a metal vent – ridge vent – that sits on top of your roof and it has an air foil to the side of it. And I know that that air foil speeds up the depressurization and makes it much more effective.
SCOTT: OK. So a multi-vent. OK.
TOM: It’s called a Multi-Pitch FilterVent and it’s in the Ridge Vent section.
SCOTT: It’s OK. I’ll do that. Good. I appreciate the help. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Lisa in Michigan is on the line dealing with a humid bath.
What’s going on?
LISA: I have an energy-efficient house that was built very tight. And they put in an exhaust fan in the bathroom to allow ventilation for the whole house. But I don’t know if it’s doing a correct job. And I’ve read some places where they say to leave it running all the time.
TOM: So the timer that’s in the bathroom-exhaust fan – first of all, that would be a very weird place to put whole-house ventilation, by the way. That exhaust fan is probably just for your bathroom, to take the moisture out of the bathroom. That would be more normal.
Why do you think it’s for the whole house?
LISA: It’s not a whole house. They use it for ventilation because the house is so tight.
TOM: Well, it’s taking air out?
TOM: Well, if the house is really tight, the ventilation would be where we add air back in, not where we take air out. We take air out, that’s usually because we have damp, moist air we want to get rid of.
I’m pretty sure that what you’re seeing in your bathroom is not for the entire house; I think it is just for a typical bathroom-exhaust fan. And the timer on it is one that would – if it’s set normally, it would be set for humidity; it might have a humidistat on it. So I don’t think what you’re seeing is for whole-house ventilation. There would be a different type of fan that would be used for that.
Is this in the bath ceiling?
TOM: Yeah. It’s not for the whole house.
LISA: But that’s what I’ve read that that’s what they’re doing on some of these houses.
TOM: It might be just bad information that’s getting passed around. That wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever.
TOM: Alright? So …
LISA: So do I need to have some type of air exchange for a house that is …?
TOM: Well, that’s an architectural question and it depends on how tight the house is and what the air changes per hour were designed to be. If it’s any less than about three-quarters of an air change per hour, then you probably do need to have some replacement air ventilation in it. But I would ask your builder or your HVAC contractor that question and then they can discuss the options for that.
The trick is that you want to be able – if you’re going to bring in fresh air, you want to do it through something called an “air-to-air heat exchanger” so that if it’s – you’re exhausting stale air but you’re recovering the BTUs that were used to heat that air. So you’re not getting rid of that heat. It’s kind of like a radiator where it’s passing it from bad air to the good air on the way in, so you’re sort of preheating that air that’s coming in from the outside using the heat that was in the stale air. That’s why it’s called an “air-to-air heat exchanger,” because it exchanges the air but it traps the heat or the cool, OK?
So 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 vital organs that convert your house into a home. So it’s no surprise that kitchen renovations are among the most popular remodeling projects tackled every year. But while any home improvement project can be complicated, major kitchen remodeling, guys, it can turn your life completely upside-down. And I mean let’s not forget about all of those fast-food pounds that you’re going to be putting on because you’ve got no kitchen to cook in. So you’re going to be doing hot-plate stuff, microwave stuff, delivery, all the delicious but bad things.
TOM: DoorDash, Uber Eats.
LESLIE: Seriously. And you’re not ordering healthy food when you’re ordering in like that.
LESLIE: So, there’s a lot of stuff going on. So we’re going to share some tips to simplify the process, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: Alright. So, first, to avoid the home improvement hassles, it definitely makes sense to break down the projects into modules: you know, small parts that can be done completely independent of one another. Not only does this approach make the project more manageable but the smaller changes can also have a big visual impact that you may not have realized. And it might even cut down on a plan for doing an even more major makeover.
LESLIE: Yeah. For example, changing your kitchen countertop, painting the cabinets or just replacing all of that cabinet hardware are projects that can be done in hours, not weeks and do result in a very attractive and quite frankly, big transformation.
TOM: Yeah. And if you were to replace, for example, just a kitchen floor or if you were to improve the kitchen lighting or just paint the room, you can get a fresh, new look in that space.
And if you just replace faucets with water-efficient models and maybe switch out old appliances for more ENERGY STAR-certified products, those will lower utility costs across the board and give you better performance at the same time.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card. Earn three-percent cash back on online shopping. Apply at BankOfAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
Alright. Heading over to North Carolina where John has got a question about insulation.
How can we help you?
JOHN: Hey. So this is just a follow-up question to one I’ve had for you all before. I called in about spray-in foam. And you all said that – you know, for Tom, for your house – I think 1896 home or some older home, you got spray foam.
TOM: Yeah, 1886. Yeah, good memory. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
JOHN: Yeah. So, for that house, oh, you said you had to spray – what I was just wondering was – I talked a little bit more to the person that wants to do the work on my house. And they said there were two different types: the closed-cell and open-cell. And I just didn’t know – I was wondering if you knew what was in your house, if it was open- or closed-cell and if there was one that was better than the other. I guess that was pretty much my main question.
TOM: Well, closed-cell spray foam can be applied at a lower temperature, as low as, I think, about 5 degrees. It’s also a stronger foam. So, sometimes, if you’re concerned about shift in a wall – what’s called the “racking strength” – you use closed-cell. And it’s also got a higher R-value per inch, so it’s a little more energy-efficient.
TOM: And it’s resistant to vapor transfer, so has lower “vapor-permanence,” it’s called.
TOM: It also can reject any water, like in leaks. It’s not really damaged by that.
Open-cell spray foam is at a significantly lower cost than closed-cell. And you can get a greater R-value if you’re not restricted by space: in other words, if you’ve got room for the stuff to expand.
TOM: But it’s a little more of a hydrophobic material and it’s going to also be a good air barrier and an insulating material, as well.
So those are kind of the differences. It really depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
TOM: I think in my home, I have both.
TOM: I think have closed-cell down in the crawlspace, where there’s more potential moisture and open-cell up in the attic space.
JOHN: OK. Yeah, that’s awesome. I really appreciate you all letting me call in again to ask a follow-up question. I love your program. So, thank you so much for calling me, guys.
TOM: Alright. Take care. Good luck with that project.
LESLIE: June in Alaska is on the line with a question about tiles cracking on the floor.
How can we help you today?
JUNE: I was listening to your wonderful program and when you got to the part about the in-floor heat, the – we have a lot of that here in our area, the in-floor heating, and I love it.
JUNE: However, our home is only 10 years old. It’s fairly new. But I noticed my bathroom floors, they have ceramic tile and we have some hairline cracks in them.
TOM: OK. Yeah.
JUNE: But I thought when – OK, I’m going to replace them.
JUNE: But when I do that, I want to know how to have the people do it properly so that doesn’t happen again.
TOM: Right. Yeah. So I think you may have heard us talking to the representative from Schluter Systems. You’re referring to the remote show that I did up in Newton, Massachusetts with all of the guys at This Old House. And we were talking about one of the products they put in, which is a product called DITRA. And DITRA is a membrane that goes under tile and it does just that: it prevents cracking. But now they have DITRA where they’ve combined it with a heating system, so you can have an electric floor underneath your tile and you know that the tile is going to be both warm and it will not crack.
So it’s a really cool product. Very effective. And I really hate to get the calls from folks that are asking me how to stop the floors from cracking, because there’s no easy answer. It just – it’s happening because the floor wasn’t put down correctly to begin with. But now, you can put down this DITRA product with the heating system built in. There’s a Wi-Fi thermostat that’s available for it. And you’ve got all the parts in one place.
TOM: So, I would definitely encourage you to look into that when you’re ready to do the floor. Just look for the Schluter Systems, their website. And it’s pretty obvious. It’s called DITRA-HEAT. They’ve been making products for pros that install tile for a long, long time. And that’s why the guys at This Old House use them for so many of those critical bathroom projects there.
JUNE: OK. Love your program.
TOM: Well, thank you very much.
Well, not to be a glass-half-empty kind of guy, do you guys ever look around your house and wonder which appliance is going to be the first to break down?
They don’t last forever, Leslie, right?
LESLIE: Yeah, they don’t last forever. Now, most appliances are going to have an average life span of 10 to 20 years. So, unless it’s covered by a warranty, at some point you’re going to have to decide whether an appliance is worth fixing or it’s time to just suck it up and buy a new one.
TOM: Well, there is a helpful formula that can help tip the scales one way or the other. It weighs the age of the appliance and its original cost against the cost of repairing it.
So let’s say your 3-year-old refrigerator breaks down and the cost of repair is, well, let’s go at 1,000 bucks. It’s probably not worthwhile because the repair cost is more than 40 percent of what you paid for it just 3 years back. So, replacing it is a much wiser bet.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the numbers are going to vary by appliance type. Microwaves, they’re cheap so they quickly become candidates for replacing rather than repairing. Dryers, on the other hand, they’re often worth spending a few hundred dollars to fix, because they can be expensive.
TOM: So, to get the entire cheat sheet of when and whether to repair or replace your broken appliances, check it out. It’s on our website at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Bill in Texas has a question about rusty grout in a bathroom project.
What’s going on?
BILL: Yes, ma’am. A couple of years ago, I put in a tile shower. I’d removed a fiberglass shower and I put in a tile shower. And the problem is – you know how you put the rubber barrier up like 42 or 48 inches? I put that up but I’m guessing that I should have used stainless-steel screws. Because in two spots, you can kind of detect a rust color kind of seeping through the grout? And I’m wondering if I should remove the grout and maybe try – they have that epoxy-based grout, if I should do that or if there’s – when I remove the grout, if there’s a product I should apply to kind of neutralize the rust.
Basically, that’s what’s going on. I’ve just – I’m decently handy, so I know I can remove the grout and everything but I’m just wondering what steps I should take to prevent the rust from coming back.
TOM: Well, the sand-based grout certainly is going to allow any rust stains to kind of permeate right through. Epoxy grout probably would not. That might be the simplest solution if it’s just minor surface rust. It’s a little bit late now to pull tile off and start changing fasteners, so I think that probably makes the most sense, Bill – would be just to remove the old grout with a grout saw and then regrout it with epoxy-based grout which, by the way, is a little harder to work with. So make sure you take your time, maybe practice off those bathroom walls before you apply it to it. But I think that’s probably the best solution in the short term.
BILL: Now, the – for automotive, they have POR-15 and different products to neutralize the rust. Is there anything like that that you – would it be worthwhile to even try to attempt that or is it not worth my time?
TOM: I’m not familiar with those products but my concern would be that if you got one, it’ll probably open up somewhere else along the way, so it’s kind of like you’re chasing a ghost after a while.
BILL: OK. So maybe try the epoxy grout and cross my fingers?
TOM: I would say so. I think there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to work out, Bill, OK?
BILL: OK. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Jackie in Florida is on the line with a dishwasher question.
Tell us what’s going on.
JACKIE: Here’s my thing. It’s a Whirlpool dishwasher. It’s only 4 years old. And all of a sudden, just one day a few weeks ago, it just – I noticed all the dishes just stopped drying. And so I did some looking up and just sort of troubleshooting. It could be this, it could be that. And now, they seem to be washing but just not drying. But now there’s mold building up in it, as well.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
JACKIE: And I’ve even noticed – like it’s still hot if I pull it right after the cycle’s done. It’s still – you could still feel the warmness of it but …
TOM: But you’ve got to – but you have to hand-dry them, in other words.
TOM: Well, usually, if the dishwasher is not drying, the problem is in the heating element. The fact that they’re warm is probably just the hot water that you’re using to wash it with, because dishwashers are hooked up to the hot-water side. But the heating element is that electric coil that’s in the bottom of the dishwasher and it may have failed. But you’ve got a decision to make because you just mentioned you have a 4-year-old dishwasher. And having somebody come out and diagnose it and repair it is probably going to cost you 200 or 250 bucks.
TOM: So, what you’ve got to figure out is whether or not you want to risk that or just go ahead and scrap it and go – and order yourself a new one.
TOM: When it gets to be middle-aged like that, it doesn’t always make sense to repair it.
JACKIE: Right. And here’s the thing. I’ve tried to even look up online to see if I could buy the heating element myself and then replace it myself but …
TOM: Yep. Well, you certainly can do that.
JACKIE: But the part number doesn’t come up. I can’t find a matching part to it. And so then I talked to Whirlpool and of course, they want to send someone out and …
TOM: Did you try Sears? Because I think Sears has Whirlpool parts. And they’re really good about stocking a lot of parts and also taking them back if they don’t fit.
JACKIE: Do I have to pull it out of the cabinet to get to the screw to unhook it? Or does it pull right …?
TOM: I wouldn’t know without looking at it. And that’s the other thing: you’re going to be diving into something that you’re unfamiliar with and it might just be that, again, it just doesn’t work.
TOM: So I’m sure that somebody out here has had that problem before and has a YouTube video waiting for you to look at, to kind of figure out.
LESLIE: There’s a YouTube video for everything.
TOM: Yep, exactly.
JACKIE: Right. You can do everything on YouTube.
No. And that’s actually – what I’ve looked into is YouTube, as well. That’s how I figure out how to fix anything and everything these days is YouTube.
TOM: Well, good for you. That’s great.
JACKIE: But I didn’t know if there was a simple way. I cleaned it well. I scrubbed everything down thinking maybe that was the problem, because you know how dirty they get and clogged up.
JACKIE: So, I don’t know.
TOM: But like I said, I don’t think it’s a clog situation. Because if you told me your dishes weren’t coming out clean, then we’d be having a different conversation. But it sounds like they’re just not drying and that’s most likely going to be that coil.
JACKIE: OK. Alright. Well, thank you. I think you just made the – my final decision.
TOM: Alright. Well, we’re glad we could help you out. That’s what we do.
LESLIE: Well, here’s a quick tip if you’re in the market for a new washing machine. You might be tempted to go out there and buy the cheapest model and save some money. But you’re going to get better savings in the long run when you buy a more efficient washer.
Now, high-efficiency washing machines use half the energy of a conventional washer and about a third less water. That spin cycle is so fast, so those clothes are not going to need as much drying time, which is also going to save you some money on the drying end.
TOM: Yeah. And it’s not just the drying money you’re going to save. You’ll also use about two-thirds less detergent in a high-efficiency machine. And these machines can even handle large, bulky items, like comforters and blankets and sleeping bags which, over our camping years with the Scouts, we used to use a lot. A lot of sleeping bags have been laundered in those machines. And that really saves on all of those special trips you used to have to take to the dry cleaner or the laundromat for that big stuff that didn’t fit in your local machine.
So, really smart to look out for those high-efficiency machines. And when it’s time to upgrade, make sure you invest in a good one.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mike in Arkansas on the line who’s got a bathroom venting question.
What’s going on?
MIKE: Well, I’ve lived in my house for about 20 years now and it didn’t seem like I had any issues with excessive moisture up in the attic. But my vent for one of my bathrooms recently went out. And I went up there to replace it and I noticed that it wasn’t vented through the roof. And it’s probably something I should have noticed much sooner than this, seeing as how I had a metal roof put on a couple years ago and they didn’t mention anything.
Well, my question is – there is, obviously, a 3-inch drain-line vent that goes through the roof. And it’s right in between these two bathrooms that are – essentially share a wall. So, what my question is is whether or not I could put a T in that vent up in the attic and tie those two bathroom-vent fans to that T. And so exit at the roof.
TOM: OK, yeah. I understand what you’re trying to do and the answer is no. You can’t do that, because the plumbing vent you’re describing is just for that: it’s to vent your plumbing system. The bath vent for the humidity in the room is a completely different purpose, so no.
What you need to do with a bath-exhaust vent is to essentially duct it right to the outside. Couple of ways to do that. You could go up through the roof. There is a piece of flashing that will, essentially, go under the shingles and through the roof and the water will run around it. It will not leak. And then the bath-exhaust duct will be attached to that. Or you could turn it horizontally and go up towards, say, the gable vent, if there’s one on the outside end of the building. Or if you happen to have a ridge vent, you could actually terminate it right near there if you didn’t want to pierce the roof.
But you can’t tie in a bathroom-fan vent with a bathroom-plumbing vent. It seems like a good idea. I understand it. But no, you don’t want – it’s not designed to go together like that. Yeah, you can also get water that would come down that pipe and it would get into the exhaust duct for the vent fan. And then you’d start getting water inside your bathroom.
MIKE: I understand. I appreciate you getting back to me.
TOM: You’re welcome, Mike. Thanks for listening to the show.
LESLIE: Post your questions, write your questions, email. Whatever it is, let us know how we can lend a hand.
Louise writes in and she says, “I have a basement where one corner always leaks when there’s heavy rain. Recently, I had worked on my septic-tank field and now I have seepage in another area. One contractor offers an outside solution to the problem but no guarantees. Another wants to put in an inside drainage system. I’m so frustrated as I would like to get this issue fixed but I really don’t know what to do.”
TOM: Ah, well, we feel your pain on that, Louise. So, let us try to make some sense of all this.
First of all, you should know that any leaks brought on by a heavy rain are easily fixable. You do not need an outside drainage system, you don’t need an inside drainage system. I suspect the issue here is roof drainage. The gutters are blocked, they’re undersized, the downspouts are not extended away from the foundation enough or some aspect of the grading around the house is running water towards this corner or containing it, like a landscaped bed edge or something of that nature.
I would suggest that you go to our website and look at the article, which is on the homepage: “Basement Waterproofing Tips on How to Fix a Wet Basement.” It’s one of the most read posts on the website. It’s been proven useful to thousands of users. But most importantly, don’t panic because this is very easily fixable and is not going to cost you a lot of money. Check out that article; all of the tips are right there.
LESLIE: Yeah. Louise, you can definitely handle this on your own. So good luck with the project and let us know how it goes.
TOM: Well, one household item can help improve clutter in your home’s organization by giving you a key spot to get rid of stuff. Leslie is going to share that solution, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
So what is it?
LESLIE: Well, I mean come on. You’re in your house. Take a look around any room. Are you looking at piles of clutter? Is your stuff everywhere and doesn’t seem to have a home? Well, when it’s like that, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed about where you should be keeping things. And this is especially true for items that you use and need every single day. But there is one very simple solution that we like and it’s the one household item that I personally can’t live without. And once you try it, you’re not going to be able to, either.
I’m talking about baskets. Not big baskets, not Easter baskets, not picnic baskets but baskets of all shapes and sizes. Because it’s really the easiest way to store away things that look unsightly when they’re out in the open but yet you still have very easy access to the items when you need them.
For example, when you get home, are you kind of just throwing your keys and your wallet and your cellphone and all that stuff just on the counter? Well, put a little basket. Put a little tray. Something that’s a spot for all of those things to go in, so when you come home you just empty it right into that basket. And then you know exactly where everything is when you need it later. You can also use these baskets for remote controls, all your electric chargers, gadgets, things, coasters, whatever. Pick a thing specific to that room and say, “This is the place where you live.”
Now, it’s also good for bigger items, like all the shoes that end up in your front entry. Even in a closet, they just become this pile of shoes. So if you’ve got some baskets, maybe one per family member and everybody kind of puts their shoes in their own basket, everything is right there and you know where it is. I mean baskets are the answer and the ideas are endless.
TOM: Great advice.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, if your bathtub has a worn-out finish, replacing that tub might require a major renovation of your entire bath. But before you do that, there are other far less costly options to consider. We’ll tell you what they are, 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.
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