TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Podcast. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And Happy Spring. What’s on your to-do list? If it’s a home improvement project, we would love to help you take the first step to get that done. And you can participate by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. It doesn’t matter what hour of the day you’re listening to this show. You can reach us, 24/7, at 1-888-666-3974. And if we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are.
Coming up on today’s show, now that spring has officially sprung, unofficially it still might be a bit nippy where you are. But soon, you are going to want to enjoy the outdoors on your beautiful, new deck. What? After a hard winter, your deck is not looking so beautiful? Well, we can fix that. We’ll have a quick recipe for a sparkling-clean finish, just ahead.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, everything starts to just look a little bit yucky after the winter season but there’s a great way to get it back. And we’ll share that with you.
And another thing is a beautiful, lush, green lawn.
TOM: Definitely a sign of spring.
LESLIE: That definitely is a sign of spring and it certainly makes you want to go out and get outside. But one thing you’ve got to get rid of – and we’re talking about weeds. We’re going to have step-by-step tips on how you can get rid of all of that unwanted greenery and really just set your lawn up for success this season.
TOM: And how about this? Have you ever pulled out gross dishes at the end of a dishwasher cycle that remained layered with last night’s dinner? Well, the problem might be the way the machine is loaded. We’ll share those secrets, coming up.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’ve got a very fun tool to give away. It’s the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun, along with a supply of staples. And it’s worth 50 bucks. And believe me, you will use the staple gun all the time.
TOM: It’s going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to the Community page at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
[radio_anchor listorder=”2″]LESLIE: Matthew in Georgia is on the line with an issue with some hardwood flooring. What’s going on?
MATTHEW: I have – I think the brand name is Mohawk – engineered hardwood floor in my house. And I’m having some buckling, raised edges where the boards meet each other at the ends.
MATTHEW: And so I was asking the builder about it. And they said that it’s acceptable to have some moisture inside there because of the concrete-slab foundation. Even though they use a moisture barrier and it is a glued-down floor, they still will have some moisture in there. So I was curious as to what is an acceptable amount of moisture and should that moisture be causing the boards to buckle?
TOM: If the boards are buckling, something is not right. Those boards are not designed to be – to buckling. Buckling is not a normal condition of hardwood floor – of engineered hardwood floor. And if that’s what you’re seeing, something’s wrong. What exactly the level of moisture should be in that floor? I really don’t know. There’s going to be a spec that the manufacturer is going to say that if the floor is more than X-percent damp, don’t use this product.
I’ll tell you, I know that engineered hardwood is popular today for these types of floors but you’re much better off with an engineered vinyl plank than engineered hardwood. First of all, it looks just like hardwood – I dare say you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference – and the stuff is totally and completely waterproof. You’re not going to have issues with swelling. And if this is a newer house and this floor was put down, I think you’ve got a potential claim here because it certainly should not be buckling.
MATTHEW: See, they’re telling me that they’re not going to do anything about it because the edges raised up are less than 1/8-inch.
TOM: Oh, well, that’s outrageous.
LESLIE: It shouldn’t be buckling at all.
TOM: That’s outrageous, yeah. And whose standard is that, less than an 1/8-inch? An 1/8-inch buckling is OK. Are they going to give you a letter from Mohawk saying, “You know what? You put our floor down and the edges buckle up 1/8-inch, that’s no big deal. That’s how we designed the product.” I don’t think so.
How old is this house? When did you move in?
MATTHEW: I bought it in March and it was built in November.
TOM: OK. Does it have a warranty on it?
MATTHEW: Yes, it does. It has a one-year warranty for things like this, for trim being out and things like that, creaky floors and stuff.
TOM: Right. OK.
MATTHEW: But then it has a 10-year warranty for structural issues. And so that kind of leads into my next question for you. Having some issues with my yard draining. So I took a line level and I measured the grade of my yard and it’s actually a negative slope. It’s about 1/8-inch per foot back downsloping towards my foundation. So what …?
TOM: OK. So, hold on for a second here, Matthew, OK? Because you’re getting away from yourself.
MATTHEW: OK. I’m sorry.
TOM: We’re going to break this up, OK? Alright. I understand you’re excited. You’ve got a lot going on. But there’s something very, very important you have to do right now.
TOM: And that is: did you craft a letter to the builder and to the warranty company reporting all of the things that you have found wrong with this house? You’ve got to do that, not just notice to the builder. But you’ve got to notice the warranty company, too. Because notice to the builder does not constitute notice to the warranty company. So you have to notice both of them before this year is up.
So it sounds like you’re getting very close to that now, so I want you to draft a letter and I want you to send it certified mail, return receipt requested, to both the warranty company and the builder. Put everything in there that you suspect so that it can be proven that these claims existed before the year was up, OK? That’s the first thing you’ve got to do.
MATTHEW: It seems to me like the warranty and the builder are the same entity, though. You get what I’m saying?
TOM: I understand what you’re saying but there’s going to be a …
MATTHEW: Like it has no – but the warranty I have is Quality Builders Warranty and then – but every time I call the warranty office, I get the builder’s office – customer-service office.
TOM: Well, look, whatever address is on that warranty and whatever address is the builder, you’ve got to protect yourself here by documenting that these things happened. Look, I used to do a lot of arbitrations, as one of the many jobs I had sort of over the years, for these warranty companies that were backing builders. And I think the warranties, for the most part, they try to sell it to you like it’s a warm blanket but I find it’s a wet blanket and it really doesn’t give you much coverage whatsoever. And I also have seen builders that like to be Mr. Nice Guy up until the day after that first year expires. And then they become like ghosts; you never see them again.
TOM: But you need to notice them that this is a problem and you need to demand that it be fixed.
I would also, after you get done with that letter and that notification process, I would also contact Mohawk, speak to their technical service department – these are not just people that answer the phones; these are experts – and tell them what you’re seeing. Send them photographs. Get their expert opinion as to whether or not this is acceptable or not. Because I don’t think it is. I have never heard of a flooring company that would permit an 1/8-inch lift of a board like that. I think it was just …
MATTHEW: I’m writing all this down, so …
TOM: I think it was done wrong, OK?
TOM: So, write the warranty company and the builder with this and anything else you suspect is wrong with that house. And then, also, once that’s done and off and on the mail – send it by email, send it by certified mail. Just document that it’s been sent.
TOM: And then after that, talk to Mohawk simultaneously to any conversation you have with the builder. And find out what their specs provide for. But I would be shocked if they told you that having an 1/8-inch lift on the board – because it’s a tripping hazard; someone can get hurt on that – was acceptable.
TOM: I don’t think it is acceptable. And I think that floor has to be torn up and replaced.
MATTHEW: Yeah. I was told if I – if they can slide a credit card over top of it and the credit card does not get stopped, then it’s within tolerance.
LESLIE: Yeah. But an 1/8-inch you can.
TOM: Yeah, 1/8-inch would probably be about 10 credit cards.
MATTHEW: So, I guess going onto my second question, would the yard draining back into the foundation, could that raise the moisture levels inside the concrete slab?
TOM: Certainly, yeah. Because what happens is a slab is very absorbent, it’s very hydroscopic. So if you have a lot of water that’s collecting at the foundation perimeter, it could definitely raise the moisture level of the slab. Also, if you didn’t have gutters that were properly installed or properly extending their downspouts away, all of those things, it should be …
LESLIE: Or the downspout is not connected.
TOM: Yeah, those could all lead to additional humidity and moisture in that slab that could lead to the condition that you’re seeing right now.
MATTHEW: Awesome. Thank you so much for your help. I really do appreciate it.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that. Let us know how you make out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit presented by HomeAdvisor.com, where you can find top-rated home pros you can trust. Call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Just ahead, it’s not just for colors or whites. We’re going to give you an outdoor use for your laundry detergent, after this.
Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What are you working on this fine day? If it’s your house, your home, your castle, you’re in the right place. We’d love to chat about your project. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.
LESLIE: And hey, we’ve got a great reason for you to give us a call this hour, one that is sure to keep you all happy in your DIY adventures at home. We’ve got up for grabs an iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and a supply of staples.
Now, this really is the most popular American-made staple gun ever. It’s all chrome, it’s jam-resistant, it’s got a powerful spring coil. You can actually see how many staples you’ve got, in the staple-viewing window. And it’s all steel working parts.
Now, there’s so many things that you can do with the Arrow T50 Stapler. I really feel like it’s something that I just go to a lot, whether I’m upholstering a headboard or doing a cushion on a chair.
TOM: It’s always there.
LESLIE: It’s always there and it’s always like …
TOM: Like a trusty friend.
LESLIE: And it’s always the right tool for the job.
TOM: Yeah. And they’ve got a great section on projects on ArrowFastener.com. In fact, right now, they’re featuring one of your favorite projects, Leslie, and that’s upholstering a headboard.
LESLIE: I do love that project.
TOM: I know that you’ve done that dozens and dozens of times. And it’s so easy to do with the right tools.
So that’s what we’ve got to give away this hour to one lucky caller. Make that you. Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. That $50 prize package with the Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and staples going out to one caller drawn at random.
[radio_anchor listorder=”1″]LESLIE: Erlinda (sp) in Nevada, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
ERLINDA (sp): I bought a house in Nevada, in Henderson. And slowly but surely, I have been plugging up all the areas where drafts were coming in. And then I realized – because I have a sofa in front of this fireplace, so a gas fireplace – there is a huge draft coming out that was just hitting my ankles. So, I would like to know what is it I can do to cover that draft. Do I have to cover up the whole fireplace? Is there – I have no idea what to do. I don’t use it.
TOM: Yeah. Well, you’ve got to have a damper. So, there’s lots of different types of dampers. You probably have a damper already. There could be a mechanical damper right above the firebox. There could be a flue damper up towards the top of the flue. Or you could just put glass doors on the fireplace. That’s another way to kind of slow down the drafts.
LESLIE: Yeah. But even with the glass doors, if that flue is open, you can still feel a little bit of a draft.
LESLIE: Because we have that and I notice that if I forget to close the flue, then I’m like, “Ooh. It’s time to close it.”
ERLINDA (sp): I will look to see about the damper, see if there’s anything I can close. But if I close that damper and I still have a draft and I do need to put a glass there – a glass cover – where do you find a glass cover? I never see them anywhere.
TOM: Well, glass doors – no, glass doors – glass fireplace doors – are widely available pretty much everywhere, so …
LESLIE: I mean we had ours done from the local hearth place. I believe it was called Hearth & Leisure. There’s probably somebody right in your area, right near Henderson. I know that area of Vegas and in Nevada and that’s a good spot. You probably have somebody there already that can do this for you.
And there’s so many choices and so many finishes and different designs on the glass and different framework and all different price ranges, as well. So don’t be surprised when some are really expensive. But it’s beautiful.
And it also – when you are running your gas fireplace, you can keep those closed. And it really does generate quite a lot of heat.
ERLINDA (sp): It does? I just didn’t think that they would. I have it blocked with my sofa. I don’t really use a fireplace at all.
LESLIE: Oh, my gosh. Gas fireplaces are so cozy.
ERLINDA (sp): Well, the real ones – see, I’m used to the real thing. That’s the difference.
LESLIE: No, I hear you. I’m all for a wood-burning fireplace. But our neighbors have a gas fireplace and any time we go visit them, just – it gets downright warm, in fact, hot in their living room. It’s lovely.
ERLINDA (sp): OK. I will try it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, as the weather gets warmer, it’s a good time to get outside and clean up your wooden deck. Now, it’s really a quick and easy project that you’re going to do with some things you probably already have around the house. I’m talking about a mixture of powdered laundry detergent and hot water. I’m sure you’ve got all of that. And that’s going to act, really, as both an abrasive and a cleanser.
TOM: Yep. And if you want to eliminate mildew, just use a 10-percent bleach solution. You want to spray it on and then rinse it with a pressure washer. Set it on gentle cycle, otherwise you’ll destroy those boards in the process. And as a result, you will end up with a very super-bright and cheery summer deck.
[radio_anchor listorder=”4″]LESLIE: Russell in Texas is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?
RUSSELL: Hi. We’re doing a remodel of about 35-year-old house with a slab floor. And we’ve noticed the current flooring, we have moisture problems underneath our bed, where we store plastic boxes and wooden foot lockers. Moisture will accumulate on the bottom of those things and deteriorates the carpet.
RUSSELL: Also, the kitchen and bathrooms, the linoleum will show some discoloration, like there’s moisture coming up. So we wanted to know, before we put down some nice, wood – engineered wood flooring on our slab, what should we do to prevent the moisture from coming up? Is that a right approach?
TOM: Yeah. Well, a couple things come to mind.
First of all, in terms of reducing the amount of moisture the slab is subjected to, that’s going to start outside the house. So I want you to make absolutely certain that you have continuous gutters at all of the roof eaves so that you’re collecting the water that’s coming off the roof. And I want you to also make sure that that – that those downspouts are discharging at least 6 feet from the house.
Because the idea here is that if we can keep the area right around the foundation perimeter as dry as possible, that first 4 feet or so away from the house, that’s going to mean you’re going to have a lot less water that gets pulled in through that slab. Because the slabs are very hydroscopic. They’re like magnets. They suck that water in and it just sort of wicks its way up through the concrete and can end up even in the middle of the house, under the floor, and causing these sorts of issues. So we do want to see you dry out as much as possible.
In terms of flooring choices, since you do have these humidity issues and these moisture issues, I would suggest, perhaps, a different direction than engineered floor. Certainly, engineered floor is OK in damp locations but you might want to look at some of the new vinyl products that are out there. And I know you’re thinking, “Ah, vinyl. You know, I really don’t want vinyl. Vinyl is what I grew up with. That’s my grandmother’s vinyl.” It’s not like that anymore. It’s absolutely gorgeous and it looks just like the hardwood that you are trying to accomplish.
There’s two types of vinyl: one’s called LVP – luxury vinyl plank – and the other one’s called EVP or engineered vinyl plank. You’ll find that the engineered plank pretty much works anywhere. It’s a bit stiffer than the luxury vinyl plank.
LESLIE: Well, it’s built like an engineered hardwood would be.
TOM: Right. It’s like engineered hardwood but it’s a vinyl surface.
RUSSELL: Yeah, we’ve looked at that. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Yeah. It’s really durable stuff. And if you have these kinds of moisture issues, I think it would be, really, a good option for you to look at.
Pretty affordable, pretty easy to install. And it’ll have – the dampness and the humidity will have absolutely no effect on it.
RUSSELL: OK. Well, we’ve checked out some of the vinyl and we’re open to that. I mean I certainly don’t want to put down a wood floor that’s going to be ruined by this, so we want to put down the right flooring. But it seems like there’s two – they’ve offered us two options. You can either have a floating floor with a little pad underneath or you can have it glued down.
RUSSELL: Now, I think I prefer the glued down because you don’t hear that little – you kind of hear the hollow of the floor as you walk across it when it’s floating and I don’t like that. But I’m concerned – but I want to make sure that I can seal that floor to keep the adhesive from coming up if moisture gets up in there.
RUSSELL: What do you think of that?
TOM: Well, I would rely on the manufacturer’s recommended adhesives for this because, certainly, they’re used to working with the concrete. I would be concerned that if I put down a standard concrete sealer, that it would have an adverse effect with whatever adhesive is being recommended by the manufacturer. So, I would trust them on that.
If it was a floating floor and you wanted to reduce moisture, then I wouldn’t have any issue with you putting down a concrete sealer first just to kind of stop some of that evaporation up. But since you want to glue the planking to it and – then I definitely think you should rely on the product that’s provided by the manufacturer to do that. Because you’re talking about chemistry here and you don’t know what’s going to happen when you mix sealer in with the adhesive. It may affect its bond and that’s what – that would be a big issue.
RUSSELL: Right. OK. So before we completely throw in the towel on the wood flooring, are there any wood-floor options, you think, that remain open to us?
TOM: No, you’ve got it. The engineered wood floor is the only wood-flooring product that you could put against concrete slabs. And look, it might be fine, it might not. But I don’t think it’s worth the risk. Yeah, I really think that if you get some of these new vinyls down – there’s one other option, by the way, that’s more expensive and incredibly durable and also very good-looking. And that’s called “wood-look porcelain tile.” And that can be glued directly to the concrete slab and it’s absolutely the most durable, wood-look product that’s out there. So, take a look at that, as well. And if you have the budget, that’s another option for you, OK?
RUSSELL: OK. Well, I appreciate your opinion and letting us know our options.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Hey, now that it’s officially spring – I know it doesn’t feel like spring everywhere. I’m sort of setting my sights for summer. And to me, one of the things that makes me really enjoy the outside season is a thick, beautiful, lush, green lawn. Now, there’s one thing you’ve got to do to get that and that’s get rid of the weeds. So, just ahead, we’re going to get step-by-step tips on how to do just that, from landscape expert Roger Cook from This Old House.
TOM: And today’s edition of This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators, where you can get the latest spring trends and hottest styles in bamboo, laminate, wood-look tile, vinyl plank and hardwood floors for less.
Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, what’s your how-to or décor question? Come on. We know you’ve got one. Call it in right now or post it to the Community page at MoneyPit.com. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. Hey, they make it fast and easy to find a top-rated home pro you can trust for any home project.
LESLIE: Well, we all love a lush, green lawn but sometimes, what’s green isn’t exactly grass nor is it very lush. In fact, weeds can destroy a lawn and remove any chance of turning your backyard into a perfect putting spot.
TOM: Well, that’s right. But when you consider that just one dandelion plant can make up to 15,000 weed seeds, it’s a wonder any of us win the battle against these green invaders.
One guy that can, though, is Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor from TV’s This Old House. And he’s here to tell us both how to rid our lives and our lawns from weeds.
ROGER: How are you?
TOM: We’re well. This is an ongoing battle that many homeowners face. What’s the best way to control weeds in your yard?
ROGER: It’s a battle from spring to fall. It’s not one product you can put down once that’ll take care of everything, so …
TOM: And it’s not just what’s growing in your yard; in fact, you’re trying to keep out all of the dandelion seeds that are floating around the atmosphere from everybody else’s lawn, correct?
ROGER: What is it? One dandelion can put out 15,000 seeds, which become airborne and can spread and spread and spread.
LESLIE: I had no idea that something so adorable, that’s so fun to pick up and collect as you find them, could be so infectious, if you will. Those dandelions.
ROGER: Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s how all weeds spread: they all have to have some mechanism which puts them into your yard from the neighbor’s yard. It’s a great thing nature designed.
LESLIE: So, how do you go about finding the right product to get rid of that right type of invader, if you will, for your lawn?
TOM: Because it’s not just dandelions; there are lots of different types of weeds.
ROGER: There’s a gazillion. At least a gazillion.
ROGER: Identify the weed. If you have to, you can go to a garden center and bring it with you and they’ll tell you about the control you can use for it. The other is the stronger the lawn is, the less weeds it will have. So keeping a good, healthy lawn that’s cut long will really help.
There’s a couple different ways I control weeds. There’s a real problem with crabgrass. And the areas are going to be the same, consistently, over and over and over, because it usually grows in areas that dry out.
ROGER: So you can put down a preemergent. But you don’t have to put the preemergent on the whole lawn. Crabgrass doesn’t grow on the north and the west side; it only wants the real sunny part.
TOM: Oh, that’s interesting.
ROGER: So you just treat the area where it was.
Now, that particular preemergent has to be put down just as the forsythia is flowering. That’s our key to knowing that the ground is now warm enough the crabgrass is starting to germinate.
LESLIE: And the forsythia is also known as the goldenrod, for people who might be confused. It’s that long, branchy shrub with the yellow, spiky – there are really pretty flowers on it.
ROGER: Yeah. Very, very early in the season.
LESLIE: Early May.
ROGER: One of the first to bloom. Yeah, yeah.
TOM: Now, is there a single herbicide that’s going to work on all of these weeds or do you really have to go on sort of a case-by-case basis?
ROGER: Case-by-case basis. You have to be really careful. When you buy an herbicide to spray on your lawn, you have to make sure it’s labeled for lawns. There’s a lot of herbicides out there that will kill weeds but they’ll also kill your grasses, OK? And that’s happened to my friend quite recently. He showed me all of the nice, little spots on his backyard and said, “What happened?” I said, “What did you spray?” He showed me and I said, “You just used a killer that’s indiscriminate. Whatever it touches, it kills.”
But if you can, go around and spray individual weeds with a small sprayer. You can cut down your use of herbicides by over 90 percent, instead of putting it on parts of the lawn, again, where there’s no need of it. So, by using a liquid and spending a little time and walking around and spraying the weeds – and if you can get them as they’re just emerging, that’s when they’re most susceptible to the herbicide – then you can control it pretty easily that way.
TOM: And you have to be very careful of overspray when you do that, especially if it’s windy out, correct?
ROGER: A little trick I use is I take a funnel and I cut it. And then I clamp it to the end of my sprayer. That way there, the cone is going to keep it from spraying out to the sides too far. And you literally can just put the cone over the plant you want to spray and spray it and then move on.
TOM: Cool. So you sort of trap the weed under the cone, spray it, move on. You’ve only sprayed what you wanted to do. No overspray, no worry about taking out good grass, for example.
ROGER: Works perfectly every time.
LESLIE: Is there a good place to go if you’re just completely stuck and can’t identify the weed and just don’t know what the best plan of attack is?
ROGER: A good garden center should have someone there who can help you identify the weed. Again, you can’t treat the weed until you know what it is. Then you can get the right formula to help you get it under control.
TOM: Now, what about sort of a chemical-free way of treating weeds? What about weed barriers and things like that? Do they help?
ROGER: Physical barriers, you mean, like Weed Block and things like that?
ROGER: They do, a little bit. I’ve had people put down newspapers and then put mulch on top of it and that’ll help keep the weeds. But what I find is that the weeds that aren’t in the lawn and then are in your beds, they tend to get into the mulch and germinate from the top. So those are the ones that you have to – you can – again, you can spray those but you’ve got to be very careful of your shrubs and your groundcovers at the same time.
Sometimes, it’s a lot of fun to just go out with the kids and pay them a penny a weed and pull them out all that you can.
TOM: Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, so this is a battle you can win.
ROGER: You can win. You’ve just got to stay on top of it.
LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot.
Just ahead, have you ever pulled out gross dishes at the end of a dishwasher cycle, you know, the kind that remain layered with last night’s dinner? The problem might be the way the machine is loaded. We’ll tell you what you need to know to make sure they come out clean every time, after this.
Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And whether you’re buying, selling or just enjoying your home, we are here for you every step of the way. Call in your home improvement or décor question, right now, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.
And if you give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, we’ll also toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat, because we’re giving away one of our favorite tools. It’s the iconic, American-made Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and a supply of staples worth 50 bucks.
This is the go-to tool for so many projects around your house. You’re going to love it. There’s so many things you can do, including upholstering a headboard, which happens to be a project on the ArrowFastener.com website. Check that out. You’ll have all the instructions you need.
That Arrow T50 Heavy-Duty Staple Gun and the staples going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
[radio_anchor listorder=”3″]LESLIE: Heading over to Illinois where Ron has got some stuff going on at his money pit. Tell us what’s happening.
RON: Thinking about building and I’m looking at exterior walls. And my question is: should I consider 2×6 or 2×4? And I’m getting different opinions and so I’m kind of wanting to see what you guys think.
TOM: So, the reason that you would go with a 2×6 is so you can have more insulation, right?
RON: Well, supposedly, yes.
TOM: But you could also have more insulation if you used spray foam versus fiberglass, because spray foam has a much higher R-value than fiberglass. So you could use a 2×4 wall with spray foam in those walls instead and have a much better insulation package when you’re all done and probably spend less on the lumber.
RON: What would you think about the 2×4 with the 1-inch Styrofoam sheeting on the outside, with fiberglass inside, then your drywall?
TOM: Yeah, well, you can do that. I mean all the insulation you add is going to help but there’s just nothing better than spray foam when it comes to both insulating and air-sealing.
RON: What about the cost on something like that?
TOM: It’s a little more than fiberglass but the thing is it’s a much more efficient system. It’s going to save you more money over the long run. Because it goes on really, really thin when they spray it and then it expands. It has a 100-to-1 expansion ratio, so it swells up and it basically seals all of the gaps.
Go to MoneyPit.com and go to – under Listen & Watch, there’s a section on Books & Guides. And there’s a free download there that we wrote some time ago on all the different ways to insulate a wall. And there’s a lot of information on spray foam in that, including some pictures of my own house when we applied spray foam to a very old house. And just thrilled with it. Just very, very happy with it as a result.
LESLIE: Yeah, you’ve been saving a ton of money.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely.
RON: Excellent, excellent. I’ll do that. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Well, have you ever pulled out dishes at the end of your dishwasher cycle, so you’re expecting everything to be clean but you open that door and all you see is a steamy mess of things that are still layered with whatever you ate last night for dinner? Well, that problem could be the way the machine is loaded, so here are five things to check.
TOM: Right. So, first, you want to note the water-flow pattern. You want to check out where the nozzles are and the position and the width of those spinning sprayers. And think about what might cause one dish to block another. So once you know where the water is coming from, you can strategically make sure you’re not blocking that important spray function.
LESLIE: The other thing is – and I have to always remind my mom of this – is she’ll put a big pan so that it butts up next to the little door that pops open with the detergent in it? And so it won’t actually pop open. And you won’t actually get the detergent in there.
TOM: It’s shut. Yep. That’ll do it.
LESLIE: So nothing gets clean. So you’ve got to look for that, as well.
Another thing is I think everybody is just over-packing the dishwasher. You know, you have to have gaps between things. Water has got to hit every surface of the dish in order to get them clean. It makes sense but you don’t want to hand-wash the dishes, so you’re cramming everything in right next to each other. And that’s only going to guarantee a dirty mess. So, try to keep a gap between every item and every other item so that the soap and the water can actually jet past and get onto all the surfaces and actually do its job: clean them.
TOM: You also want to choose those racks carefully, depending on the types of dishes you have. So if you’ve got concave dishes, like bowls and cups and pots and measuring spoons, they can form a catching surface that’s going to stop both the vertical and that horizontal water from getting around and over them. So, don’t put them on the bottom tray; put them in the top tray so they don’t block the water from below. Otherwise, the water is never going to get up to the top tray, which means all of those cups and bowls that are up there are going to stay dirty.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s a smart tip. I never think about that one and I tend to put some of the larger pans down in the bottom. But that’s not really helping me at all.
Now, when it comes to your silverware, guys, try to presoak the silverware before you actually put the utensils into the dishwasher. Because that’s going to loosen up any of that dried food that gets stuck between the fork tines.
And when you load the silverware into the dishwasher, do so with the forks’ tines pointing up, spoons pointing up, handles down. The knives you want to point down for safety, obviously. I like to sort them into the compartments with forks – one in one little spot and spoons in another and knives in another. This way, it’s easier when I’m putting them away. But just do it that way. Don’t overcrowd them. Maybe stick to four or so utensils per each little compartment. This way, they don’t get jumbled up on top of each other and everything gets clean.
TOM: And finally, you do want to pre-scrub the – what should we call it? – the “baked-on crud.” Scrub your crud, alright?
There’s only so much the swishing water can do. And certainly, if you get food particles into the dishwasher, that’s OK. But if it’s baked-on, it’s never going to come off. So you’ve got to presoak or pre-scrub any of the charred food so that it separates before it gets into the dishwasher. And this way, the dishwasher can actually finish its job.
Hey, all of these tips are from a brand-new post we have on MoneyPit.com about how to load your dishwasher. So, search it out on MoneyPit.com, read the whole post. I think you’ll find some more tips and tricks that will amaze your friends and fool your enemies and solve all of this. I think dishwashers are one of those things where people argue about how – what the proper way is to load it and whether or not you should use the heating switch. And do you need hot water? Do you need cold water?
LESLIE: It’s such a touchy subject, dishwashers.
TOM: It’s a very touchy subject. So you can solve all of that, settle all those bets just by reading the post, which is online at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: I will tell you, Tom, New Year’s we had a couple of friends over. And my friend, Carrie, came over and she’s very put together, as am I. And I will tell you that the dishwasher was a little haphazardly loaded as we were cleaning up. And she looks at me and goes, “I’m surprised you load your dishwasher like this.” And I was like, “Ooh, that feels so judgmental.”
TOM: Oh, man. Nice. I thought you were going to tell me that you were all haphazardly loaded that night.
LESLIE: Hey, are you thinking about taking a trip? Well, we’re going to have steps that you can take to prevent your home from being damaged while you’re away, after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your how-to question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post it to the Community page at MoneyPit.com, which is what Jack in California did.
LESLIE: That’s right. Jack writes: “We have a house on our property that is 105 years old. No one has …”
LESLIE: I know. For your house, it sure is.
TOM: Compared to our houses.
LESLIE: “No one is living there right now but we still have the plumbing and electricity turned on. What would be the best way to put this house in a vacant or storage mode to minimize damage while it’s empty?”
That’s a good question.
TOM: That’s a very smart question. We like the way you think, Jack.
So, here’s what you should be doing. First of all, you’re in California, you’re Northern California.
LESLIE: Now, this is different advice from somebody in California to somebody, say, in Minnesota.
TOM: Yeah. Well, the thing is I mean even if he’s in Northern California, you could still get frost damage there.
So, if you’re not going to be in the house, it’s a really good idea to drain the plumbing system. And so, that just means any water that’s in the pipes can’t freeze and expand. And you could – you should definitely turn off the main water valve and that will stop any major damage.
But if you do get a freeze and the heating system fails, this will stop the pipes from expanding and cracking and just sort of leaking out the water that’s there or you having this big surprise – and you turn the water back on and now you’ve got a sprinkler system that you didn’t know you had, because the water is shooting out all over the place, including through the light fixtures and the ceiling seams and all of that mess. So you definitely should drain the water. For the heat, if you do drain the water, you could turn it down to probably about 62-ish.
And then what you also are going to want to do to minimize the chance of any risk is to go through the electrical breakers and identify what each one is. And make sure you turn off non-essential circuits. So, an essential circuit might be your heating system but a non-essential circuit might be, you know, the outlets in a living room. Because the more circuits that you de-energize, the lower the risk that you could have an electrical issue result from that.
So that’s kind of the way that you want to deal with this is to make sure you have the water off, you have the heat set right, you drain the pipes and then you minimize the electrical circuits that are on. And that’s the best way to minimize any possible damage that could happen to the house while it’s empty.
I remember – I spent 20 years in the home inspection business and I remember one time doing a – it was termed sort of a quick inspection before closing kind of a thing. “Just hey, swing by this house that’s been vacant. Make sure it’s OK before we sign the paperwork.” Sure, I go into this house. It’s a bi-level. There is 4 feet – 4 feet – of water in the lower level of this house. Four feet of water, so …
LESLIE: They just didn’t check for a couple of days? Did this happen instantly?
TOM: The pipe broke. The sump – yeah, it was a utility company or relo (ph) company that didn’t pay attention. It was an absolute disaster. So, needless to say, those folks did not close on the house that day. So glad I got a chance to stop by.
But that’s what can happen in these vacant houses if you’re not around. So, really good idea to kind of protect yourself by turning off the utilities that could cause those kinds of issues. Water, right, and electricity where you don’t need it.
LESLIE: I think in this case, because the house sits empty, it’s a really good idea to think about all these steps. But my family has that home out east on the North Fork of Long Island. And you remember, Tom, a few years back we were away on vacation. The house usually sits empty in the winter. My whole family shares it. And a pipe burst, so it’s a good idea to think about just turning off that water whether you’re away for a week, a weekend or not in the house at all. It’ll save you a huge headache later.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Hey, thank you so much for spending this time with us. If you’ve got tips, you’ve got questions, you want to contribute to The Money Pit community online at MoneyPit.com. And if you’ve got questions and can’t get through to us, you can call, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We love to help you get yourself all good to go for those springtime home improvement projects.
This is the season. We always say it’s the Goldilocks season: it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, it’s just right. So, when you’re getting ready to take on projects around your house, you can count on us to help.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 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.)