Today’s Homeowner Radio Podcast | October 15, 2022

Split image of  gable vent on brick home and closeup of tiler hand rubbing tile, Installing and grouting decorative finishes in environments with an high aesthetic value. Two-component, decorative, acid resistant epoxy grout.
Listen to learn about gable vent fans and hear why some contractors won’t work with antimicrobial grout. (DonNichols, Getty Images Signature/Adobe Stock)

Hour 1

Listen to hear tips for staging your home to sell, learn about gable vent fans and more.


Tips for Staging a Home to Sell

Neutral bedroom with natural light and office space
Bedrooms with neutral colors and office space are appealing to home buyers. (ChaoTechin, pixabay)

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, it’s tempting to only pay attention to the curb appeal and kitchen. But one area that’s overlooked might be the deciding factor for a buyer: the bedroom.

Realtor.com says these six updates to your bedroom could give your home the “wow factor” to help your home sell faster:

1. Update the lighting: New light fixtures are great, but at a minimum, switch the bulbs to LED for energy efficiency and to make the room feel brighter. Also, consider updating to smart lighting.

2. Clean out the closets: Removing your personal items not only makes a small closet look bigger, it also lets buyers visualize how they will use the storage space. 

3. Stage the bedroom to sell: Swapping out a dated bedroom set can make your bedroom look brand new. Other budget-friendly ways to stage the room are painting a focal wall, hanging a large mirror and decluttering the space. 

4. Tone down the loud paint colors: Some may love bright colors, but when it’s time to sell, neutral is the way to go. 

5. Create a functional work-from-home space: Having a designated workspace is a must. This could be in a spare bedroom or in the corner of the main bedroom.

6. Spruce up the en-suite bathroom: Add some new towels and a fresh coat of paint for a quick update. 


Are Gable Vent Fans Worth It?

Split image of gable vent on brick home and an electric fan
If you can’t put a ridge vent on your roof, and you have a gable with enough space to install a fan, then that’s the way to go. (DonNichols, Getty Images Signature/Photography, Getty Images)

Ron Hartfeil in Reno, Nev., is considering installing a gable vent fan in his home. He wants to know: “Is this a good investment to help reduce the attic temperature during the summer?”

One of the biggest mistakes people make in attic ventilation is exhausting the inside air out but not having enough fresh air come in. 

If you can’t put a ridge vent on your roof, and you have a gable with enough space to install a vent fan, then that’s the way to go. It’s not as even as a pull of air through a ridge vent, but it still does pull the hot air out. 

Gable vent fans work better in pairs, because as one fan draws the fresh air in, the other blows the hot air out.

A mistake some people make is adding gable vent fans to a roof with ridge vents. A gable vent fan will work against the ridge vents and be detrimental to the attic ventilation system

Gable vent fans are thermostatically controlled, so set it to about 110 and it will automatically come on and exhaust the hot air out. Consider a solar-powered one to save on energy costs.

Before installing the gable vent fan, ensure you have enough soffit vents around the roof overhang to allow that fresh air to come in, and don’t block them with insulation. 

One way to make sure the vents aren’t blocked is to have someone outside blow around the vents with a leaf blower, and someone inside the attic to make sure no insulation is being blown.


‘Why’s My Water Heater Roaring?’

Man checking water heater
A noisy water heater might mean it’s time to drain it. (JupiterImages, Photo Images)

Ron in Reno, Nev., is hearing a roaring sound coming from his electric water heater when the appliance comes on to heat the water.

He wants to know: What is the cause/fix?

Sediment buildup in a water heater will cause a roaring or rumbling sound when it first kicks on. This buildup could be caused by hard water mineral deposits or rust.

The rumbling is the sound of boiling water trying to escape from the sediment buildup. 

Assuming the heater isn’t rusting so badly that it needs to be replaced, the fix for this is draining it and flushing it out.

Flushing the water heater out will fix this roaring noise and also extend the life of the heating elements. When the heating elements are encased in sediment they burn out much quicker. 

If you have hard water, install a water softener to lessen the buildup of those mineral deposits. 


Hour 2

Listen to learn about antimicrobial grout, removing artillery fungus, and more. 


What’s the Deal With Antimicrobial Grout?

Closeup of tiler hand rubbing tile, Installing and grouting decorative finishes in environments with an high aesthetic value. Two-component, decorative, acid resistant epoxy grout.
A lot of antimicrobial grouts are epoxy-based, so contractors can be hesitant to work with them. (Adobe Stock)

A homeowner wants to use a special antimicrobial grout for their bathroom remodel. However, they say their tile contractor doesn’t want to use that grout because it’s harder to work with. The contractor recommends using a traditional grout with a sealant over it. 

“I just wanted to know if I should be listening to him or is there really something to this antimicrobial stuff?” the homeowner asks.

We’ve heard this over and over again from contractors. The confusion is in the terminology, and a lot of contractors are hesitant to use antimicrobial grouts because the first generation of that type of grout was a two-part epoxy. 

Epoxy grout is difficult to work with because you have to mix it exactly as recommended by the manufacturer and if you don’t get it where it needs to be before it cures, it sticks to the tile and won’t budge. That’s why contractors tend to stay away from it. 

However, there are antimicrobial grouts that aren’t epoxy. This contractor could be assuming the grout the homeowner wants is the epoxy type. 


Removing Artillery Fungus

The Sphaerobolus stellatus fungus, also known as cannonball fungus, shotgun fungus or artillery fungus
Artillery fungus, also called shotgun fungus, gets its name because it “shoots” black, round spore casings onto surfaces like a shotgun. (weinkoetz, Getty Images)

Laura in Ohio has artillery fungus from the mulch and it is on her vinyl siding. It is also on her plastic white fence.

“Could you tell me what to use to remove it?” she asks.

Artillery fungus, also called shotgun fungus, gets its name because it “shoots” black, round spore casings onto surfaces like a shotgun. It’s a wood decay fungus that grows in moist environments, so mulch is the perfect medium for it to grow.

To remove it from siding, first, try something non-toxic like Simple Green or oxygen bleach. 

If that doesn’t work, you need a spray fungicide, like Spectracide Multi-Purpose Fungicide Spray Concentrate for Gardens or Bioadvanced Fungus Control for Lawns

You might find that if you get most of it off and there’s still some left, you can scrape it off with a plastic putty knife or a credit card.

To prevent it from returning, refresh your mulch every year or so. A study from Penn State Extension found pine bark nuggets and cypress mulch is likely to harbor artillery fungus. 


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Simple Solutions

Cleaning window screens with a vacuum cleaner and upholstery brush attachment.
Cleaning window screens is easy with a vacuum cleaner and upholstery brush attachment. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Window Screen Cleaner — When you get ready to put away your window screens until next spring, clean them before storing them away.

Don’t use water and a scrub brush, unless it’s necessary to remove stubborn, caked-on dirt — use an upholstery brush to clean window screens.

Store the screens in large plastic trash bags or wrap them in a plastic tarp.

Watch: Cleaning Window Screens With a Vacuum


Cut plywood building material
To get clean cuts on plywood, score the cut line with a utility knife first. (Aleksandr Potashev, Getty Images)

Plywood Cutting Tip — Here are two tips to prevent splintering when using a portable circular saw to cut plywood and veneered doors.

First, always place the best-looking surface of the plywood facing down. That way, if any splintering occurs, it’ll be on the top — or back — of the plywood.

Second, prior to cutting the plywood, score the cut line with a sharp utility knife, cutting just through the veneer.

Now, make the cut just a fraction of an inch beyond the scored line and the veneer will snap off cleanly without splintering.


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