Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | September 24, 2022


Hour 1

In Hour 1, learn the reason why toilet water is low, the best temperature for outside painting and more.

Water Not Refilling in a Toilet

Water flushing in toilet
Blockage in a vent pipe could make the water level low in a toilet. (Ratikova, Getty Images)

Every time Paul Johnson flushes his toilet, the water fills up but then drains to almost empty.

“We have had two plumbers check it out. One said the bowl design was made to do that. One snaked it and had no answer,” he says. 

There could be some obstruction farther down the drain than the plumber’s snake can reach.

The only other reason water drains out is if there’s a crack in the toilet, but you’d notice that water in your bathroom.

There might be a blockage on your vent pipe. A plumbing vent allows that air to drain the water out, so if there’s any obstruction, even partial, it creates a siphon effect. 

It works similarly to when you put your finger on top of a straw that’s in a glass of water and lift it, the water stays in the straw until you release it. 

Birds can build nests in those things or other things can get down there and create a vacuum or siphon effect that keeps it from working properly.

Have the plumber check the vent pipe on the roof to make sure there’s nothing in it. If they do find a block, put hardware cloth over the pipe to prevent future blockage. 

Lowest Temperature for Exterior Painting

Paint brush swiping deep blue paint over faded blue paint on a wood wall
Don’t paint in temperatures lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. (Susie Hedberg, Getty Images)

Teresa asks, “What is the lowest temperature that I can paint my exterior house trim? Also, what’s the best kind of paint to use?”

First, before you do any kind of exterior painting, you have to do the proper prep work.

Clean and sand the exterior so the paint will adhere to the surface. If you don’t, you’re gonna have problems no matter what kind of paint you use or what temperature it is outside.

We love acrylic latex paint for exteriors — go with a semi-gloss for trim. Pricewise, you don’t have to get the most expensive type of paint, as moderately priced ones work just as well and won’t break the bank.  

As far as what temperature to paint, always read the label. Different manufacturers have different recommendations. However, the vast majority claim you can apply the paint in temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. And now, there are some that are rated for colder weather, but they’re more expensive and harder to find. 

Our suggestion: Don’t paint in temperatures lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The important thing is that it has to remain at that temperature for at least four hours after you apply the paint. If the temperature is expected to drop, put off painting. 

You don’t have to do the entire house in one go — paint in stages. Do the front of the house one day, and the sides and back on other days. 

Tip for Protecting Laminate Countertops

Dishwasher in kitchen
Seal the underside of laminate countertops to prevent warping from dishwasher steam. (gerenme, Getty Image Signature)

When you open a dishwasher, you get a blast of initial steam, it dissipates pretty quickly, but over time it can warp a laminate countertop. 

Many laminate countertops are applied to particleboard, and rarely is that particle board sealed where it comes in conjunction with that steam coming out of the dishwasher.

A fan called in with this tip for protecting laminate countertops: Paint the underside of your countertop just above the dishwasher with a sealant of some sort to keep the steam from warping the countertop.

You can use just about anything to seal the pores of the wood, but we suggest brushing on a coat of clear polyurethane varnish. It just seems to give it a better buildup.

Hour 2

In Hour 2, hear what might be causing mold on a deck and how to get rid of it, plus tips for autumn irrigation.

Getting Rid of Black Mold on a Deck

Closeup of a pressure washer shooting out water on a deck during a cleaning.
Black mold on your deck means there’s too much moisture and shade. (DepositPhotos)

A hotline caller just can’t get rid of black mold on her deck.

“I have tried Clorox, Wet & Forget and I have also painted multiple coats of deck paint but it keeps coming back. Any last suggestions before I start over?” she asks.

We think three things are contributing to this mold growth:

  • The deck is in the shade. While it makes for a nice, relaxing spot for homeowners, it also creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow. 
  • The deck is relatively close to the ground and has a lot of moisture collecting under it.
  • The boards’ undersides aren’t sealed. People seldom paint the underside of the deck boards, so moisture will penetrate through them. 

She mentions painting the deck, but that’s not something we recommended. This puts a coating over the wood, making it easier for mold and mildew to form on it. 

Pressure wash the deck to remove the mold and apply a semitransparent stain. This soaks into the wood and blocks moisture from passing through, preventing mold growth and blistering. And be sure to stain the entire surface and just the top. 

Trim back some tree limbs to allow for more sun to shine on the deck, and create a drainage system so water doesn’t accumulate underneath it. 

After you’ve addressed the shade and drainage issues, continue using something like Wet & Forget to get ahead of any future mold growth. 

Autumn Irrigation Tips

Store bought rain barrel collecting rain
Rain barrels can be homemade or store-bought, like this one. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

As the weather cools off you may think less about watering your lawn and gardens. But even in cooler temperatures, plants need moisture to remain healthy. If autumn is a dry season where you live, it’s essential to pay attention to how much water your yard is getting. 

If you need to augment the natural rainfall with your irrigation system here are some ways to minimize water waste and maximize what rainfall you do get. 

  • Raise the height of the blade on your lawnmower. Mowing close to the ground allows the soil to dry out more quickly, plus the slightly taller grass will require less water to begin with. 
  • Check your garden hose connections at the hose bib and between hoses to be sure they aren’t leaking. When you do water with a hose, use a spray handle or shut-off control so you only apply water exactly where it’s needed. 
  • Consider watering early in the morning. At that time of day, temperatures are coolest and the evaporation rate is at its lowest. 
  • If you apply a generous layer of mulch in your gardens it will help the soil retain moisture so you can water less frequently. 
  • If your home has downspouts, consider making a rain barrel to put under one or more of them. You can collect rainwater for your garden without adding a penny to your utility bill.

This Around The Yard segment is sponsored by Pavestone.

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Simple Solutions

Joe Truini’s Top 5 Fall Simple Solutions are all about making yard work easier. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Joe Truini shares his Top 5 Fall Simple Solutions! Listen to the full podcast.

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