On HGTV’s “Renovation 911,” Lindsey Uselding and Kirsten Meehan reveal all that can go wrong with a home, and why, and how to keep it from happening to you. And the latest episode shows just how cheap and easy these preventive measures can be.
In “Ice Dams and Stinky Sewers,” the sister emergency renovation team rescues the waterlogged house of their business partner and fixes a toilet that’s overflowed with raw sewage. In the process, they pass along some eye-opening info about home maintenance that many might not know.
Check out what we learned this week—and the one purchase for under two bucks that everyone with a laundry machine should have.
Beware the ice dam
Before they even move into their new house, Ron (the aforementioned business partners) and his wife, Sonia, walk in and find water coming in through the recessed lighting in their kitchen. There’s at least an inch of water on the floor below. There are also water stains on the ceilings of other rooms and water damage throughout the house.
Once Meehan and Useding inspect the place, they agree that the ice dams on the roof are the cause of the damage.
“Ice dams are common in Minnesota,” Meehan explains. “The water freezes, then prevents any melted snow from draining off, and it has no choice but to go through the roof. As the ice dam expands and contracts with the weather, the water can get underneath the shingles, and that’s when you see water showing up inside your house.”
Rake your roof
Now we know that ice dams can occur when homeowners let the snow pile up on the roof. In this case, Ron and Sonia can’t be blamed, because they haven’t moved into the house yet. But now that the house is their own, they learn that they can prevent future ice dams from forming by periodically removing the snow from their roof.
“If you get a lot of snow on your roof, you can hire a company to steam it off for about $2,000,” says Uselding. “Or you can do it yourself with a roof rake. The best way to avoid an ice dam is to rake your roof.”
Roof rakes. What a concept! It would sure beat getting up there and shoveling.
Know where your water shut-off valve is
There’s also water damage around the windows in the primary bath, and since Ron and Sonia wanted to remodel the whole bathroom anyway, the sisters need to rip out everything in the room—tub, shower, sinks, flooring, the works.
But they can’t start the demo process until they turn off the water in the pipes leading into the room. Imagine the additional water damage it would cause if they accidentally hit a pipe.
Alas, what should be a simple task turns into a major detective situation. The access panel to the shut-off valve is nowhere to be found.
“We can’t start the demo until we know where the access panel is to shut off the water,” says Meehan. After looking for it everywhere in the bathroom, they actually find it hiding in the dropped ceiling in the dining room, under where the tub is placed.
Lint can cause a major sewer backup
While work is being done on Ron and Sonia’s place, the sisters head over to see anniea landlord who’s dealing with probably the worst kind of flood of all: a sewer overflowing through the toilet!
Somewhere along the sewer line there was a clog or a break, which made the sewer back up and overflow through the basement toilet, flooding and contaminating the bathroom, laundry and hallway into the living room.
The sisters need to find out if the line is broken or clogged. If it’s broken outside of the house, insurance will not cover it and Annie could have to pay many thousands of dollars to fix it out of pocket.
Once they use a very long snake with a camera on it, they find, much to Annie’s relief, that it’s a clog. They then determine what the clog consists of.
“We’re pretty sure the clog was caused by the lint built up from the washer,” says Meehan. The water from the washer was draining through a discharge tube into the sewer line. To remedy the problem, the plumber knocks the clog loose and cleans the line, to the tune of $800, which is much less than what it could cost to dig up the yard and fix a broken sewer line.
Then, to make sure it never happens again, the sisters place a lint trap on the washing machine discharge tube. “For a buck fifty nine, you can save thousands,” says Uselding.
Prefab showers have come a long way
The basement bathroom needs to be rebuilt—and quickly. Since it’s not particularly spacious, a huge spa shower with custom tiling is really not an option.
Instead, the sisters opt for a prefab shower, which would make some people turn up their noses—until they see it. Prefab showers have come a long way since the ones they installed in your grandma’s tract home. This one has lovely sculpted arches and works perfectly in the space.