Need some extra prep space in your kitchen?  Tom & Leslie share tips for adding


kitchen islands, even in small spaces, and more including:





How to upcycle furniture for your kitchen island, including which pieces make the best islands and a trick for having a kitchen island you can move out of the way when the extra space is not needed.
When you think of your roof – you don’t necessarily think of designer colors – but color is where it’s at when it comes to your roof.  We highlight the best roof color trends for 2020.
Got a dusty house?  Get tips on the easiest way to reduce dust build up automatically and cleaning tricks to make even more dust disappear.

Building a driveway marker can be a fun and practical DIY project that can step up your curb appeal and improve home safety. Learn a few DIY tips for building that project.


Plus, get answers to home improvement questions about getting rid of mice in your attic, installing ceiling lights without holes, hiring an electrician for GFI installation, tiling over asbestos floors, best way to install gutters and keep them clean, insulating crawlspaces, uneven heat in the home.

Do you have a home improvement or decor question? Call the show 24/7 at 888-MONEY-PIT (888-666-3974) or post your question here.

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Read Transcript

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: We are here to help you with your home improvement and décor projects. So, if you’ve got a project in mind for today, tomorrow, this weekend, next weekend, later in the spring, whether it’s inside or out, we are your resources to help get that project done quickly and effectively, for the least amount of money put out to make your place look absolutely spectacular.

You can help yourself first by joining the conversation. You can do that by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Anytime you hear this program, that line will be answered by our crack screening team. They’ll take your information and if we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back. So, give us a call, right now, and let’s get to work.

Coming up this hour, we’re going to talk about roofs. They take a real beating in the winter. And if that is a project on your to-do list for 2020, we’re going to have a new report on roof-color trends, coming up in just a bit, to fill you in on all the changes taking place.

LESLIE: And if you need some extra prep space in your kitchen, how about adding a kitchen island to your space? We’re going to have some design tips that can help.

TOM: Plus, adding a driveway marker can be a fun and practical project that can help step up your curb appeal and improve your home’s safety. We’ll have a few tips for building that project, just ahead.

LESLIE: But first, we want to know what you want to know. What are you working on? What are you planning as the weather, perhaps, starts to warm soon? I’ve always got, you know, high hopes that spring is on its way. So why not have some high hopes for some changes at your money pit? And we’re here to help.

TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

LESLIE: Ryan in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

RYAN: I’ve got insulation troubles, because it’s just drafty in the house. And I’ve got some can lights in the upstairs that has the attic above, right?

TOM: Yep.

RYAN: And they are non-insulation contact.

TOM: OK.

RYAN: And I bought some sort of a conversation kit that converts it to an LED. And what it does, it screws into the socket.

TOM: Yep.

RYAN: And then there’s two wires coming off of that and it plugs into an LED light. Once I do that, my question is: can I go ahead and insulate that can or do I really got to replace that can?

TOM: Man, that’s a great question. I’ve got some of those myself and in my situation, they weren’t going up into the attic. And I’m not really sure. I’m going to say that you probably can insulate over. But what I would do is I would get those lights, I would look up the manufacturer and I would ask that question of the LED manufacturer.

RYAN: OK.

TOM: Now, even if you can’t, you probably know that with insulation-contact types of light fixtures – non-insulation-contact fixtures – you could still insulate that space but you have to box out around where those high hats come through the ceiling.

RYAN: Right. Right.

TOM: The other thing that you might want to think about doing is going up from the attic and sealing the seam between the outside of that light fixture and the drywall below. Because that might actually stop some of that draft that you’re probably dealing with. And I know how that goes; it’s pretty annoying.

RYAN: Right.

TOM: But I think I would definitely contact the LED manufacturer and ask them if you have a non-insulation-contact high-hat light and you switch to the LED – you’re obviously not generating as much heat, you would think. Although some of the LEDs do get pretty warm, I’ve found. Some of them don’t but some of them do, so I would ask the question because their engineers are definitely going to have calculated that before they put that product on the market. OK?

RYAN: OK. I appreciate it. Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, Catherine?

LESLIE: Now we’re heading to Missouri where Frank is on the line and has a question about moisture in a crawlspace. What’s going on?

FRANK: I have moisture built up in my crawlspace, on my joists. I built a brand-new house and I have gravel on the ground and concrete walls with no vents in it. And it’s solid moisture down there right now.

TOM: Wow. Why were there no vents put in the crawlspace, in the foundation walls? Because with a crawlspace, you always vent it, well, unless it’s foam insulation. And that’s a different story.

FRANK: I have not had foam insulation installed yet in my crawlspace. I am going to do that but I’ve got to get it dried up.

TOM: There is a way to do this where, basically, if the crawlspace is completely sealed and if you use expandable spray-foam insulation, like an Icynene, you do not have to vent. But if you’re going to use fiberglass, then you do have to vent.

Now, if the question is how do I dry it out before I do the application, I guess you’re going to have to do that conventionally just with fans and dehumidifiers and things like that. You’re going to have to wait for the weather to be right to do this. And that means it’s going to have to be the driest time of the year, when you have the least amount of condensation. And that’s not going to be the winter weather or the cooler weather; it’s probably going to be the summer.

But I would talk with your insulation contractor. Get them involved now and get their recommendation on what the best time is to do this part of the project. But you do need to do it soon, one way or the other. Because otherwise, you’re going to get – that moisture is going to start to cause the floor joists to decay and rot. And that’s not going to be – that’s not going to have a good outcome, OK?

FRANK: Yes, yes (inaudible). No, no. Not in a brand-new house.

TOM: So if you had – right.

By the way, one thing you could do in the meantime – and this will help reduce the amount of moisture – and that is to put some plastic across that entire crawlspace floor. You want to get some really thick, heavy plastic sheeting and roll it out. If you have to overlap, overlap by at least 10 feet, those sheets. And that will stop a good chunk of the moisture that’s emanating up from the soil below. You’ll keep it underneath the plastic and that will help it dry out faster, because you won’t be battling the new moisture that’s coming in.

FRANK: OK. Then, my other question – I did put plastic down first when – before I got the house built. Then I put gravel on top of that. Should I remove the plastic from underneath the gravel or leave it alone?

TOM: No. Nah, you could leave it alone. I mean maybe if it was done that early, it might be busted up by all the gravel. But no, you don’t have to worry about the layers, in this case. Putting another layer of plastic on top of the gravel is not going to be a bad thing. You may end up removing it after you get all the insulation done. But if you’re going to do that, you’ve got to do it soon. Otherwise, you’re going to get decay.

You know, we’re talking about the difference between a vented and an unvented crawlspace and the same applies to attics. I used to have a vented attic and I applied spray-foam insulation to the underside of the rafters and across the gable walls.

FRANK: OK.

TOM: And now, I don’t need any ventilation in that attic whatsoever. And it’s the same temperature as the rest of the house, pretty much, even though it doesn’t have heating or cooling up there. If I drop down the attic stair, it’s basically like an extension of the rest of the house. So that’s the kind of effect that spray-foam insulation has. In your case, it will also seal up …

FRANK: Our whole house is spray-foam.

TOM: Oh, so you understand this, though. OK. Yeah, well, why did you leave the floor out of it if you had the guys there doing all that work? Why did you choose to not do the crawlspace?

FRANK: I didn’t know.

TOM: Ah, OK. Yeah. Well, now you do.

FRANK: Yep.

TOM: Alright. Well …

FRANK: But you’re saying, well, hey cover it with plastic then?

TOM: Yeah, I’m saying that if you put additional plastic sheeting down over that gravel and if there’s moisture that’s basically evaporating up from the soil below, that will still help to slow it a little bit.

I would get in touch with your insulation contractor and figure out the best way to approach this. But you do need to get it done soon. Alright, Frank?

FRANK: Oh, I will. Yes, sir. Thank you for calling me back.

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

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joan in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a mold issue.

Tell us about it, Joan.

JOAN: Well, I’m wondering what causes dry rot and how you can tell if you have it.

TOM: OK. Well, what are you seeing, Joan?

JOAN: Coming down to the floor, there’s about an inch below the molding. And I took the carpet up and I saw sawdust down there. And I wondered if it was dry rot.

TOM: Alright. So, first of all, there’s no such thing as dry rot; there’s only wet rot. Wood that gets wet – it gets over 25-percent moist – can start to decay. Then, if that wood also dries out, that’s what people call “dry rot” but it’s really sort of a misnomer because it’s not really dry rot; it’s wet rot that has dried out.

JOAN: Oh. So we can’t cause it by overheating or under-humidifying a house.

TOM: No. Well, not overheating but if you over-humidify, I guess it’s technically possible because you’d put a lot of water in there. But no, you’re not going to cause it by overheating.

In terms of what you’re seeing under this molding, I think that would bear some further investigation. When you mentioned sawdust, I think about carpenter ants, for example. And so, I would make sure that I know exactly what’s causing this.

One of the things that you could do is you could take a picture of it and you could post it to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. We’ll take a look at it and give you an opinion. Or you could post it to the Community section at MoneyPit.com. How about that?

JOAN: That sounds great.

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

Well, when you think of your roof, you don’t necessarily think of designer colors. But color is where it’s at when it comes to your roof. And the newest color trends for 2020 are here.

LESLIE: That’s right. Gray, you guys, which is a very popular color for interiors is also expected to dominate exteriors this year. Super-neutral color and you can use it to anchor a lot of playful colors on the outside of your house, for siding, shutters, trim, landscaping.

TOM: Yeah. And green is also going to be a popular color for roofing, because it’s a confident color choice that blends well with some of the neutral tones, like the gray that we just talked about, as well as the cream and the beige tones that are so popular in siding.

LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And earth tones have always been a popular choice for your roof. And that’s going to continue with green as another color that we’ll see on your roof surface.

Now, any of these color choices will help set off another trend and that’s the return of a solid-white exterior.

TOM: I love white exteriors. It’s such a classic color.

And finally, a trend that’s always going to be current: roofing materials that help make your home more energy-efficient. So, a lot happening in the roofing business right now. If that’s a project that you’re planning for the year ahead, give us a call. We’ll give you some tips, we’ll talk it through, we’ll try to figure out how you can save some money on that project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Heading over to Florida, where Peter has lost power in the bathroom.

Peter, what’s going on and can you see what you’re doing?

PETER: Yeah, I had a GFI go bad. And when I went to change it over, for some reason I couldn’t get any juice to the receptacle underneath the sink. So, I got juice to where I put the new one in but – so I went down to Home Depot – I listen to you folks all the time – and I got a new one. And the gentleman over there told me to find the hot wires go and put them on the receptacle where it says “line.” And then the other two hook up on the bottom of it.

TOM: Peter, do you know that the ground-fault circuit worked properly and then it stopped working?

PETER: Yes, sir.

TOM: So it worked properly and then stopped working. Have you considered the fact that the ground-fault circuit interrupter could be doing its job and then there could be a problem elsewhere in the circuit?

PETER: Yeah, I didn’t give a thought about that. No, I didn’t.

TOM: So, I think that when ground-fault circuit interrupters start to trip, people say, “Oh, it must be a bad circuit breaker,” and they don’t consider the fact that the circuit breaker is, in fact, doing its job detecting a diversion of current to a ground source and tripping to prevent you from getting a shock.

So, the solution wouldn’t be necessarily first to replace the ground fault. I would investigate further to see what exactly is happening and causing that to trip. I think, based on your description of what you’ve done thus far, that this might be just a little bit above your skill set. And while we can respect the fact that you’re doing this on your own, when it comes to electricity you want to get it right. And if you were to miswire that and in fact, perhaps, you – there are different ways to hook up ground faults. And if you do it one way, you can get it to trip and not protect the rest of the circuit. So, it would appear to be working correctly when, in fact, it wouldn’t.

So this is not the kind of thing I would recommend that you do yourself, Peter, with all due respect. I would definitely have an electrician look at this because I suspect that the ground fault is doing its thing. They rarely go bad. And if it’s tripping, it’s probably tripping because something is going on elsewhere in the circuit.

The ground faults will cover everything that’s on that circuit. So if you had, for example, a loose wire somewhere down the line and that was causing some sort of an arcing condition, that could trigger the ground fault to go off.

So, contact an electrician. This is the kind of job that you should not do yourself, because I want to make sure that the problem is what you think it is and it gets properly fixed.

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

LESLIE: Penny in Illinois is on the line and she’s dealing with some frost on a meter. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

PENNY: Well, we have a brand-new home and the outside is where the meter is and stuff like that. Well, cold air gets into that little pipe area and then comes into the basement and puts a patch of frost on the wall in the basement downstairs. And I was wondering if there was anything I can do to put something over that gas meter to protect it from getting so cold.

TOM: You don’t have to worry about the gas meter getting – being protected, because gas meters are meant to be outside in all sorts of weather. That said, though, if you’re getting that kind of cold air in your basement, that’s got to be causing you big energy losses. So I would try to seal those spaces where that cold air is getting in, to try to keep that space as warm as possible. Because that is going to add to your heating cost.

PENNY: OK. But I talked to the builder and he said you really can’t do anything inside because then you’re looking at a fire hazard. If you try to insulate inside, then there could be a fire hazard there.

TOM: What, in the basement? With basement-wall insulation?

PENNY: I was thinking by where the gas meter was. That’s where I kind of …

TOM: But again, you don’t have to worry about the gas meter. That said, you can insulate any – you can add insulation to exterior walls and you certainly can add insulation near a gas meter. It’s not like it’s a source of flame, OK? It’s a piece of equipment where – through which all the plumbing passes. But it’s not like there’s a flame there.

So if your builder is telling you that, it sounds to me like he’s trying to get out of a project.

PENNY: Gotcha. OK. Thank you. I appreciate your help on that.

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

Tell that guy to get to work.

PENNY: I will.

LESLIE: Now we’ve got Joe in Michigan who’s dealing with a gutter issue. Tell us what’s going on.

JOE: Hey, this roof, I need some help with. I bought the house about eight years ago. And it’s got a good roof on it but it appears that they tried to save some money and have somebody do it. And what the problem is is the shingles don’t come out far enough from the top of the roof to get into the gutters. And there’s a metal strip that goes along, right at the bottom edge of the roof.

And from what I see, it almost looks as though it’s turned around backwards as though if it were put in properly, it would extend out further to help get the water towards the gutters or into the gutters?

TOM: Hmm. OK.

JOE: So what – the mess I’ve got now is I’ve got all this water that’s hitting some spots in the gutter properly and others not. And I’ve tried to push the gutters and tap the gutters back up as far against the fascia as I can and I’m still getting water through there and it’s frustrating.

TOM: Well, the metal strip is throwing me a little bit. Now, typically, at the edge of the fascia, you’d have something called a “drip edge,” which is sort of like a right-angle piece of trim that goes over the front of the fascia and up under the roof. And it’s at a 90-degree angle. Is that kind of what you’re seeing or not?

JOE: I had them install some aluminum over the fascia board but I don’t think that’s what you’re talking about. It is a channel of sorts but it’s right on the top lip of the roof, if I’m explaining this right. You know where they first start putting the shingles on and then they start moving up forward? It’s like right at that edge, there’s a – there’s metal.

TOM: Are the shingles resting on top of the metal?

JOE: Yes.

TOM: Regardless, the solution here is the same. What you need to do is to extend those roof shingles into the gutter. So, because there’s not a magic potion that will do that, the way to fix this is to get a flat bar – and that’s a very thin pry bar. And you’re lifting up the edges of those shingles at the bottom of the roof edge. And you’re going to slip underneath some flashing. And the flashing that you would use is probably just aluminum-roll flashing, maybe 6-inch or 8-inch-wide flashing. And the easiest way to do this is in small pieces, because it becomes too hard to handle when you have a long piece.

And you run the flashing up under the roof shingles and you make sure it extends past the roof shingles and lays into the top of the gutters. So, essentially, what you’re doing is creating a bridge to make up the distance between where the shingle ended and where it really should have ended, which is at the edge of the gutter. And this way, when the water comes down the roof, it will drop from the shingle to the flashing to the gutter. Does that make sense?

JOE: Absolutely. And that sounds like something I can do, so I appreciate you and we’ll give that a shot.

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

LESLIE: Well, if you’d like to step up the counter space in your kitchen, adding an island is a great option if you’ve got the room. Well, no doubt about it, you do need space if you’re going to add an island. And they’re usually at least 24 inches by 36 inches and that’s at a minimum, you guys. I have seen some gigantic kitchen islands but let’s be realistic for the space you’ve got.

Now, first of all, your kitchen island doesn’t have to be made up of expensive cabinets. Instead, you can upcycle furniture, like maybe an old dresser or a vanity. We’re going to have some posts online that you can check out at MoneyPit.com that will show you how to find a great piece of furniture and turn it into an island. So check that out.

Now, if your kitchen is on the smaller side, think about another option which is using a mobile kitchen cart. These can be smaller than the island itself. These kitchen carts can greatly enhance your cooking space because they’re compact, they’re super versatile and they come in various sizes, styles, finishes, configurations. And you can push them aside, out of the way, when you don’t need them.

TOM: Good point. But while it’s hard to drop an island into an existing kitchen, designing an island into a new kitchen does make a lot of sense because that’s when things can be moved around and shifted to really maximize that flow, as well as the countertop and cooking and cabinet space.

So don’t move those islands off the possibility list. There’s always a way to get one to work in your kitchen. And believe me, when you have a lot of folks that are helping in a really busy time – or like in my house, whenever you have a party everybody hangs in the kitchen – it really does come in handy.

LESLIE: Jessica in Missouri is dealing with a floor that’s sinking in on itself. What is going on over there?

JESSICA: Hi. I live in a 128-year-old house and my kitchen floor has settled, maybe, in the middle. If everything is not strapped to my walls, it will go towards the middle of my floor.

TOM: Wow.

JESSICA: Yeah. So I didn’t know if you guys had any thoughts about a repair on that, if you think maybe it’s like a joist underneath there or …

TOM: Yeah, does it sit on a basement or a crawlspace, Jessica?

JESSICA: No, it’s dirt.

TOM: It’s dirt. So you can’t really get under it?

JESSICA: I have a crawlspace that I can get underneath it but it’s in the opposite side of my house.

TOM: OK. So, can you get down there and physically examine the beams to see what’s going on?

JESSICA: Yes. But it would take the size of a small child to get underneath there.

TOM: OK.

JESSICA: So, there lies another problem – is how to see what’s going on, where the best place would be to go in at to try to get that …

TOM: Listen, I had to do a plumbing repair project on my own home, in a crawlspace that was about 6 inches taller than me flat on my back. So, I know how tough it is to work in spaces like that. You’ve got to kind of shimmy in to get there.

But the thing is, I am concerned with this sagging, that somebody has a look at that – those beams – to make sure there’s nothing structural going on, like a termite infestation or something of that nature. If it’s just normal sagging, well, I mean there are some things that we can do from the top side to address that.

One of which comes to mind is that you could use a floor-leveling compound on this old floor. To do so, you are really talking about the entire kitchen floor, including the cabinets. Because to do it just in the middle might not be enough. You really have to go wall to wall on this room. And because it’s a kitchen, it becomes very, very complicated to do that.

But the first thing is to evaluate the structure to make sure that there’s nothing going on there. And then the second thing is to look for a solution above it. It’s generally not possible to raise up a floor that’s already sagged, especially in a really old house, because it took 120 years to get in that position and you’re just not going to bring it back up again. Sometimes you can reinforce it a little bit with some additional beaming and stiffen it up a bit. But generally, if you want to level it, you’ve got to do that from the top side and not from the underside in an old house, OK?

JESSICA: OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate you guys’ time.

TOM: You’re very welcome.

LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Ruth in Michigan on the line. How can we help you today?

RUTH: I have an older house that’s in need of some pizzazz and wanted to put shutters over my vinyl siding. Is that possible? And how would I attach them?

TOM: Yeah, it’s done all the time. And there are special fasteners that are used in that situation so that you pierce the siding without causing a leak to happen. And most of the shutter companies will sell those as part of the shutter, too, so you certainly can do that.

You do want to be careful not to squish the siding because, remember, the siding is somewhat soft. And so as long as you’re careful about the way they attach, you certainly can have shutters on top of vinyl. OK, Ruth?

RUTH: Alright. Well, good. I was wondering if it could be a do-it-yourself project.

TOM: Absolutely. Ruth, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

LESLIE: Well, you may have noticed that homes that really stand out are the ones that have a little something extra at the end of their driveway. And I’m talking about a driveway marker.

Now, there’s an aesthetic reason, of course, to have one because they look nice. They set off your home from the street and they can set a tone that’s just a notch above. But they can also help identify your home to anybody and everybody, from delivery people to, more importantly, first responders like fire, police and EMTs.

TOM: Now, there are several types of driveway markers. You can use stone, brick, wooden, maybe a metal fence piece, you name it. The one that you pick, though, is completely up to you but you should be taking your home’s style into consideration.

So, for example, if you live in a modest Colonial style, you don’t want to be putting in giant columns on either side of your driveway. You really want to consider four things: the size; the material; the reflectors, so you can be sure it’s seen; and of course, the installation. You want to make sure your markers, no matter what material you use, are not going anywhere anytime soon.

And also think about the fact that you can incorporate a mailbox or a newspaper receptacle into these, as well as add lighting or house numbers. But one of the most common types is simply a white picket-fence style with just two simple corners on either side of your drive. You can use stock fence pieces. It makes the whole driveway stand out very nicely and it’s definitely a do-it-yourself project.

LESLIE: Scott in North Dakota is on the line with a water-heater question. What’s going on?

SCOTT: I’ve got a cabin that we’re going to remodel and I was wondering if it’s better to go with a tankless water heater or a tank one, because we’ve got – well, we’ve got to drain everything in the winter. But I was kind of looking online and stuff and what the difference between them. And the tankless ones only raise at a certain amount of temperature. And up here, the groundwater is usually about 40 degrees, so …

TOM: So, first of all, we’re talking about an electric water heater versus an electric tankless?

SCOTT: Correct. Yep, yep.

TOM: Yep. I would definitely go with an electric water heater. And I would install that water heater on a timer so that you can control when it comes on and off. Because especially being a vacation property, you’re not going to want that on in the middle of the day. You’re probably going to want to have it come on for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. And that will save you a lot of cost.

SCOTT: Well, great. That answered a lot of questions.

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

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

TOM: So, this tile floor is located where?

GEORGIA: In the kitchen.

TOM: And how old is the tile floor?

GEORGIA: It was put in in 1950.

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

GEORGIA: OK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM: Oh, OK.

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

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

GEORGIA: OK. Thanks.

LESLIE: Don’t forget, you can always post your question to us at The Money Pit’s page or on our Facebook page. And I’ve one here from Bob in New York who writes: “We had our house painted a few months back but there’s a problem with the paint on the trim. You can easily scrape it off with your nail. Now, the painter says they want to wait and see because paint can take a year to harden. But in the meantime, our house looks horrible and the painter didn’t prime or sand the trim or anything before painting, because he said it didn’t need it.”

TOM: Oh, man, that’s so funny. I’m sorry to laugh but that’s a good line. “Yeah, it takes a year to harden. That’s why you can’t really – you’ve got to wait.” When a year goes by, this guy – this painter – is going to be even farther gone than he is right now.

Look, this is not going to get any better. All the paint needs to be removed. I hate to tell you this but the painter did not do his job. The surface is going to need to be sanded and primed before another topcoat is applied. I don’t know exactly why it didn’t stick but I can tell you the prep is probably the number-one reason.

You shouldn’t have to wait to see how this is going to pan out. It’s probably – it’s bad right now and it’s probably due to the primer or more importantly, the lack thereof the primer. But you’ve got to get down to solid surface, add a primer and then repaint.

So, I’m not sure if even I would have this painter come back. Maybe you can negotiate a refund from the guy but you really need to get a pro. Go to HomeAdvisor.com, read the reviews, find yourself a top-rated pro there. But this was done all wrong.

LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Chuck from L.A. who writes: “I moved into my current house five years ago and I’ve been taking on projects ever since. Now I want to tackle the master bathroom’s window that has a crank but I’m not really sure what the best way to go about fixing this is.”

TOM: Well, look, unless you know the brand of the window and go to the manufacturer for replacement hardware, you may need to replace the window, which is not as pricey as you’d fear. But before you do that, look at the window glass very carefully. If it’s a thermal-pane window, in the corner you may find that the manufacturer is actually stamped on the glass. I did that recently and was able to order cranks for a window that was 15 years old.

LESLIE: Next up, Margo in Florida posted: “I have an electronic air filter in my home and I’m wondering, how do I clean them? One dealer says vacuum, because washing could cause corrosion and malfunction. Another says wash with water.”

TOM: I’d stop listening to dealers and start talking to the manufacturer. I mean every manufacturer is going to have cleaning instructions for their particular product. But I will say that in some cases, you can take that entire coil out – that’s the filter – put it in a dishwasher, run it through a cycle and it’s fine. But perhaps with a newer one, where there’s more electronic components to it – so stop listening to these heating-and-cooling dealers. Go right to the manufacturer’s website. There ought to be a manual you can download. And I’m absolutely positive, Margo, it will have the accurate, up-to-date cleaning instructions for that particular product.

LESLIE: You know, Margo, it’s so great that you’ve got the electronic air filter in your home, because it really does a great job of cleaning the air in your house. And it does a wonderful job so that you don’t have to do all the cleaning as often of those filters. But definitely listen to what the manufacturer suggests, because they know their model and their product best.

TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you for spending this part of your day with us. We hope we’ve answered some questions that you had swirling around your head about how to improve your money pit. If you’ve got more questions, remember, you can reach out to us anytime you hear this program by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we are not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are.

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 2020 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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