- Childproofing: Are you overlooking ways to keep your child safe at home? We’ve got some important and easy childproofing tips.
- Home Renovation Costs: It may be easier to renovate an old home rather than buy a new one, but home renovation costs can be expensive. Hear some advice on how to pay for your home projects.
- Concrete Repair: Chipped, cracked, or worn-out concrete is a common problem that often needs repeated repairs. We’ll tell you how to fix concrete the right way the first time so you won’t have to do it over again.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Fencing: Hope needs a fenced-in yard for her dogs but wonders what fence material is best for ground that’s near a creek. We suggest an attractive choice and how to set the fence posts so water won’t be a problem.
- Heating: Would a heat pump in Robert’s home that already has electric baseboard heat, good insulation, and thermal windows be even more efficient in keeping things warm? We’ll discuss the best use of a heat pump and how to coordinate it with other options.
- Wet Basement: After a torrential rainstorm, Lynn discovers water gushing around the pipe into her basement. We’ve got DIY advice on how to seal the weak area of the wall and ways to divert water away from the house.
- Windows: A large old single-pane window isn’t very energy-efficient. Darryl finds out some window improvement options, including installing a new double-pane window, using solar shades or UV coating, and adding insulation.
- Wasps: Of all the outdoor pests at Gail’s house, the wasps are the worst and keep building nests on her home siding. Sticky traps and natural repellents can help keep the wasps under control.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we want you to look around your house. Look up, look down, walk around the exterior and tell us: what are you planning to take on this weekend? Because we know you’ve got a project. And if you do, we’re here to help. We’re here to lend a hand. We’ve been doing this a long time and if you’ve got a challenge or an opportunity with a project that has to be done or one that you want to get done, reach out to us because we can help you save time, save money and get it done once, get it done right so you can get on to enjoying your home. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Coming up on today’s show, if you’ve got young kids, you know that they get smarter every day. And that’s why your childproofing safeguards have to get smarter, as well. We’re going to share some of the most effective ways to guard against childhood accidents.
LESLIE: And the past few months have been tough in the housing market. And that’s why a lot of people are turning towards renovating their home rather than buying a new one. But the market has also opened up some more affordable ways that you can finance those projects, as well. So we’re going to share those details in a bit.
TOM: And if you’ve ever tried to repair cracked, deteriorated concrete, like on a sidewalk or driveway or a garage floor, you may have found that those repairs have to be made to the same spots over and over again. So we’re going to tell you a way to do these once and have them stick.
LESLIE: But first, we want to help you create your best home ever. From bathrooms to basements and demolition to décor, we are your coach, your counselor, your cheerleader for all of those projects, big and small.
TOM: So call us, right now, with those questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or click the blue microphone button at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: We’ve got Hope from Illinois on the line who’s in a super-great mood about this project.
What’s going on?
HOPE: The project is putting up a fence for our dogs in a pretty large area, at the back of the house, that borders the creek. And it’s a very high creek bank. Water rarely comes into the yard or anything. But just concerned about moisture and what the ground might be like underneath and if that should affect the material that we use for the fence.
TOM: What are you thinking about? What kind of fence are you leaning towards?
HOPE: Well, we’ve looked at everything from rolls of welded wire on posts or some sort of black, wrought-iron, low fencing. Something like 3 feet.
TOM: OK. So in either case, you’re going to have metal fence posts, not wood fence posts? Have you thought about wood fencing or are you just afraid of the water?
HOPE: Yeah, we have definitely thought of wood, as well. Yes.
TOM: OK. So, well …
HOPE: Something that won’t ruin our view.
TOM: Right. OK. Hey, now, that’s a great point. Because if you want something that’s almost invisible, the idea of the black fencing is definitely the way you want to go. If you have a black fence – I often see these around pools. Because people put pool fences around because they absolutely have to and should. They’re not only required but they’re just essential for safety. But let’s face it: you spend all that money on the pool, you don’t want to kind of just stare at a fence from your house or the street. But if you use black fencing, it’s almost invisible. It melts in with the background, so I think that that’s a really good choice if that is your goal.
In terms of the moisture, I really don’t think you have anything to be concerned about. If you were working with a wood fence or a wood post, I would tell you to put those posts in and don’t use any concrete. Just use stone aggregate – like a gray, driveway gravel kind of thing – because that drains. And the post is just as solid with the stone as it is, I’ve found, with concrete. But it drains very well and it’s really locked in place well.
Now, in terms of the metal posts, I’ve not put in – well, I put one metal fence post in around a large garden some years ago. And I think if I recall right, I used stone for that. But you’re going to have to check the manufacturer’s recommendation. You don’t have the same issues with rot. Most of those posts are aluminum. You just don’t want to make sure that the – you want to make sure that the post is not going to react with the concrete.
And if you do decide to go with concrete and the metal post, then I would use the QUIKRETE concrete product in the red bag, because you can pour it in dry and then kind of water the hole. So you don’t have to mix it up ahead of time. You basically pour it in dry and let it sit there and then just fill the water with – fill the hole with water. And a couple of hours later, you’re good to go.
HOPE: Well, thank you so much. And I listen to you every single week. I’ve learned so much from you guys.
TOM: Oh, well, thank you so much. Good luck with the new house and call us back anytime.
HOPE: Thank you.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to talk to Robert in Michigan who’s looking for some heating solutions.
What’s going on there, Robert?
ROBERT: Well, I have a 1,500-square-foot house in northern mid-Michigan. And I have – since everything is electric now, I have electric baseboard heat. And I remodeled recently – well, 20 years ago.
TOM: Recent for you.
ROBERT: And I blew in a lot of insulation.
TOM: OK. That’s good.
ROBERT: So the house is pretty well insulated and with thermal windows and et cetera.
ROBERT: And I – but electric heat is expensive and I wondered if an air heat pump – I understood that they’re a lot more efficient than they used to be – would be a solution for me.
TOM: So, they are. But Michigan’s a tough climate for any kind of heat pump because it’s just so darn cold.
TOM: But I guess if your only choice is that or baseboard heat, it probably would be less expensive.
But let me tell you a little bit about a heat pump and the way it works so you really understand what you’re getting into here.
TOM: So, a heat pump – first of all, you have to have ducting that goes through the house to supply the heat, right?
ROBERT: My plan is to just have it come into one main room.
TOM: Just have it come into one room? So, are you going to use a through-the-wall unit?
ROBERT: Yes, yes. The unit would be outside.
ROBERT: But then there would be a wall unit.
TOM: Oh, so you’re talking about a mini-split. So, OK. I understand what you’re saying.
ROBERT: Yeah, I guess that’s what you call it. Yeah.
TOM: Yeah. Alright. So, they are more efficient. But here’s what I wanted to make sure you were clear on. With a heat pump, the temperature of the air that comes out is not as warm as what’s coming off of those radiators. You know, when you have fossil fuel, by way of an example, the air comes out at about 140 degrees. When you have a heat pump, it comes out at around 100, 110 degrees. So sometimes, when people feel the air blowing on them from a heat pump, they feel like – they’ll say it’s cold. But it’s really just not as warm as you’re used to. And when it hits your skin and the moisture evaporates off, it feels a little chilly sometimes.
And what folks do in that case is they throw the thermostat up. And that’s where it gets expensive. Because a heat pump maintains a very steady temperature in your house. And when you throw the thermostat up, you bring on backup resistance heat, which is like having another baseboard heater inside your heat pump. And it pretty much doubles or triples the cost to run that thing.
So, what I would do is if you put one in, I would set it and leave it alone. And I would keep the baseboard heat units in as a backup for those extremely cold days when you’re just not comfortable. I think, yeah, for the most part it’ll be less expensive. But I still think there’s going to be some really chilly days where you wish you had more.
And the other thing is you mentioned you insulated the walls. Make sure you’ve got at least 19 inches of insulation in your attic. That’s the number-one way to keep heat in that house.
ROBERT: OK. Thank you for returning the call.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Lynn in Delaware on the line who’s got a leak in the basement that’s as if somebody’s turned a faucet on.
What’s going on?
LYNN: Well, last Thursday we had a torrential rain in Delaware.
LYNN: And I was so afraid of trees falling in the rain, I ran down to my basement immediately. And about maybe 2 minutes being down there, I hear some sound like somebody turned on a faucet.
LYNN: So, I looked behind the – where the faucet is. It comes from the inside. The water pipe comes from the outside unto the inside. Water was just gushing. It was just gushing in, just like a faucet.
TOM: So, it was coming around the pipe, where the pipe comes through the wall?
LYNN: Yes, yes.
TOM: OK. Yep. Alright. So that makes sense. What happens is when you get a torrential rain like that, it’s going to find the path of – the easiest path in: the path of least resistance. And the holes that are drilled through foundation walls for things like plumbing, like the hose bibb in your case, are going to provide an easy entry.
So, what I would tell you is a couple of things. Now, it probably only happens when you get maybe a severe downpour like this, maybe even one that’s fueled by rain. But I would – number one is I would take silicone – and you can buy a tube of silicone in a little – in a can, squeeze tube or you can buy one just to put into a caulking gun. And I would seal the gap around where the pipe comes through the foundation wall. So, next, I want you to do the same thing on the inside. This is going to stop what happened to you most recently.
But the other thing I want you to do is to take a look, if you can, at the drainage conditions outside that wall, because you might find that maybe you have an overflowing gutter there or that you have soil that is sort of settling down and maybe it’s moving too much water towards that area of the – I don’t know how high up this hose bibb is. But generally, the roof and surface drainage conditions are what starts this all. And it’s an easy fix. You’ve just got to figure out what it is.
Downspouts are also really important to check. Most of the time when the gutter companies put them in, they drop them pretty close to the foundation. We always like to see them extended out 4 or 5 feet so you’re moving all that water out away from that wall. And if you can kind of move it out and keep it away, you’re going to find that the whole space is a lot drier.
And in your particular case, with this little gusher that happened, sealing the area around the pipe should stop that from happening the next time.
LYNN: Oh, OK.
Now, another thing that I’m wondering, now that you said about the ground settling and everything, this particular step where I’ve had – not gophers. What are those things, groundhogs that used to dig under there?
TOM: Groundhogs, yeah.
LYNN: And I’m wondering if they could have messed – moved the dirt and made a path or something to this particular …
TOM: Yeah, they may have. They may have. Generally, that first 4 to 6 feet you want to do what you can to keep the soil sloping away from the walls those first few feet. So if it does settle in, you just add clean fill dirt. Not topsoil but just fill dirt. Very inexpensive. And you pack it in there and you slope it away. Then you could put some mulch or you can put some topsoil and grass over that. But you want to have that soil sloping away. And it is going to settle every once in a while and especially if you get any overflowing gutters. It’ll just erode and wash away.
TOM: So, that – maintaining that sort of slope and that space to keep the walls as dry as possible is important. And it really does help solve a lot of problems with water in the basement and even dampness in the basement.
LYNN: I appreciate that. That’s what I will do then. Thank you so much for taking my call.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, accidental injuries are the leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14, which is why childproofing your home is vitally important. Now, according to a report by SafeHome.org, nearly half of parents surveyed say that a child’s injury could have been avoided with proper precautions.
Now, the good news is that childproofing your home is affordable, easy and it often requires nothing more than common-sense habits and some simple DIY items.
TOM: Now, the study shows that the most effective childproof measures include storing hazards – like glass objects, alcohol, knives, cleaning products and chemicals – out of reach and covering electrical outlets in every room to prevent shocks.
Now, some other important safety steps you need to consider would be to do things like securing electrical cords or clearing blankets and toys from cribs and beds and locking cabinets, and even using nonslip strips in the bathtubs and unplugging appliances when they’re not being used.
LESLIE: Now, smart-home technology is helpful for childproofing, too. Popular choices are window and door sensors that will alert you if a child is wandering, bathroom flooding sensors, indoor cameras and movement-tracking baby monitors so that you can keep watch from another room.
TOM: You know, while it’s impossible to make your house 100-percent childproof and accidents will happen, a lot of injuries can be avoided with the right safety measures. I think the challenge is mostly that – what I found with my kids growing up is they grow so fast that they change every day with their skills. One day, you’ve got them in the playpen. The next day, they’re climbing out because they figured that out, right? So it’s always changing. So you really always have to be on top of it and expect the unexpected.
LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Darryl in Louisiana.
What’s going on at your money pit?
DARRYL: I have an older house, probably in ‘70 – early 70s. And it has the old pine windows, just single glass pane. And I have a couple of good-size picture windows, like 9 feet across or something like that. And they’re big. And I lose a lot of energy there. One of them is on the west side, so I get that afternoon hot sun.
DARRYL: And I want to know if it would be better use of my money to replace the window with a new updated, double-pane, nice, modern window or put some insulation in the attic. Which the attic also needs insulation, because there’s not much up there. I know I can use – definitely use some insulation. What would be the best use of the money?
TOM: Alright. So, a couple of things come to mind.
So, first of all, regardless of what you do with this window situation, I definitely would put more insulation in the attic. That’s kind of a no-brainer. You’re always going to get a good return on investment on that. So if you had 8 inches of fiberglass insulation and you could add 8 or 10 or 12 more, you want to use unfaced fiberglass batts and then just stack them perpendicular to what you have.
You have to trade off storage space – I don’t know if you have a floor in that attic – because you can’t crush the insulation. But putting more insulation in that space is always going to make sense, economic and comfort-wise.
DARRYL: Up there now, it looks like it was blown insulation, just like little pieces of foam or whatever it is. And I can – a lot of – most of the places, I can see the rafters. It’s not above the rafters which would be, I guess, 8 inches. But if I start putting insulation in there, I have all the wiring for the light sockets and all that. All the wiring is on top of that. So would I just put the insulation on top of the wiring?
TOM: Yep. Yeah. You can – yes, you can have the wiring run through the fiberglass batts.
When you say rafters, I think you’re referring to the ceiling joists. The rafters are what’s carrying the roof. What you don’t want to do is you don’t want to go all the way at the overhang, from the ceiling joists, up into those rafters because then you’d be blocking off any ventilation that you had at the overhang. So make sure that you allow for that ventilation. That’s important in that situation.
But no, there’s no reason to worry about covering, as long as you have – when was your house built?
DARRYL: It was probably ‘72.
TOM: OK. So, yeah, so you have traditional, non-metallic wiring. If you had a really old house, I would – we’d have a different discussion about why you can’t cover electrical wiring. But for a house like that, you can certainly put the insulation right on top of that wiring. And I think it’s going to make a big difference.
Now, back to those picture windows. You have really two options there. So, yes, you could replace them. And it is a big project and it’s an expensive project. Or you could maybe buy yourself some time by just picking up some solar shades. They’re reflective on one side and they help to kind of redirect that heat back outside so it doesn’t overwhelm the house and add to the cooling load. It’s going to be a lot less expensive. They’re not nearly as attractive.
Or if you do replace the window, you’re going to use a low-E glass, which basically means it has an emissivity coating that reflects the UV of the sunlight back outside. So, you’ll find a huge difference if you put in insulated panels with a UV coating. And most of the ENERGY STAR-certified glass has that now anyway. But it’s just a huge difference, in terms of cost. So it really depends on what you want to do.
And you might – if you are going to do that, you could think about breaking it down doing the – I think you said you had some that were facing west. And I don’t know if it’s something that faces south. But do the western/southern face first because that gets the most solar gain.
DARRYL: Now, back to the insulation real quick, what’s the best kind? The kind that you would just blow in there now or getting some kind that rolls out?
TOM: Can you get around that attic as it is right now? Can you walk around it even …?
DARRYL: I can, I can. But I’m walking on the ceiling joists and …
TOM: Tops. On the tops of the ceiling joists, yeah.
DARRYL: Yeah, yeah.
TOM: I mean if it was me, I would use unfaced fiberglass batts. It’s a lot easier. If you want to go blown-in, you’ve got to rent a machine for that. Just another layer of complication you don’t have to deal with.
I would put unfaced fiberglass batts. I would lay them perpendicular to the joists and I would probably pick up – I don’t know – 10-, 12-, 14-inch-thick batts and just lay them edge to edge right on top of the joists. You’ll have a whole new layer of insulation there and it’ll make a big difference for you year-round.
DARRYL: OK. Great. I really appreciate it.
TOM: Well, the past few months have been tough in the housing market. And a lot of people are turning towards renovating their home rather than buying a new one.
LESLIE: Well, Mischa Fisher, Chief Economist at Angi, is joining us with data why now is a better time to remodel than to buy.
Lots of crazy stuff going on out there, huh, Mischa?
MISCHA: It is a wild housing market. Great to be with you both.
TOM: Hey, well, it’s great to have you.
So, the interest rates are continuing to rise. The indications are that we may be on the border of a recession. So remodeling in that case, though, has a pretty strong advantage over purchasing. Because if you don’t move, you are very well motivated to improve, right?
MISCHA: That’s exactly right. And what people really have to remember is that the cost of the house isn’t just the cost of the house; it’s also the interest that you’re paying on your mortgage. And right now, we’ve got a significant portion of the population that’s been locked into these great, historically-low mortgages: sub-three percent, which we’ve never seen before. With inflation at nine percent, we’re talking about negative mortgage rates, which is also fairly unprecedented. And so if you move, you’re giving up that mortgage, in all likelihood. And as a result, the cost you’re paying for your new space is going to be a lot more because you’re paying more interest on it.
TOM: Yeah. Because we don’t consider the cost of the money. But that’s really critical.
MISCHA: It’s so critical. Because everything else we buy – you don’t think about the cost of money when you’re buying apples at the grocery store, right? You don’t think about cost of money when you’re buying a vacation. But the cost of money really, really matters when you’re talking about a house, which you’re not buying all at once; you’re buying it over 30 years or 15 years, for those unlikely. But most of the time, it’s a 30-year time, that frame that you’re buying in. And so you’ve got to think about the cost of money.
LESLIE: And I think it’s interesting because your house really just isn’t just your house anymore. It’s not just the place where you live and have fun and sleep; it’s now also the place where a lot of people are working. So, the changes, I think, and what the needs of your home are have completely gone in a different direction. And that puts a lot of people in a weird situation where you either move, which is expensive, or renovate which, oddly, is also crazy expensive.
MISCHA: That’s 100-percent correct. We started picking that up pretty early on in the pandemic, in our Angi research where we track why consumers are doing what they’re doing. Not just what they’re spending but why they’re spending money. And the house took on all these new meanings.
And it’s true: you are paying more for lots of things than you used to be. Although inflation is coming down pretty quickly in building materials; it’s more or less halved just in the last couple of months. So it’s still high but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. But remember, the cost of selling your house, you’re losing three to six percent in the transaction. Plus, you’re giving up a mortgage. That’s a lot of money. And so if you think about, well, yeah I could pay a little bit more for a remodel, it’s still a better deal.
TOM: Well, if remodels are still expensive and maintaining your house is expensive, what percentage of your home’s value do you think we should be budgeting for just maintenance and emergency repairs?
MISCHA: I think that the one-percent rule of thumb is actually pretty good. Now, if you look across the value of people’s homes – we do track this in our research – sometimes it’s as low as about 0.4 percent and sometimes it’s a little over 1 percent. But if you can target one percent, recognizing that we all fall short of our goals and so you don’t quite save that much but you’re above half-a-percent, I think that puts you in a pretty good place.
LESLIE: So, Mischa, if you are saving the money for the maintenance and you’re finding yourself in a situation where, you know, you’re not going to be able to move, interest rates are high, the market is cuckoo bananas and you do want to do some sort of renovation or remodel or addition – whatever that might be – how do you go about funding that if we’re all sort of in this weird financial situation? Is there a way to borrow money for that? What are your options?
MISCHA: I think that, right now, people have a lot of really good options. And that’s because home equity has gone up so much. If you look at what happened to home prices over the last couple of years, that’s really rough on prospective new buyers.
But if you already owned a home or you bought a home at the earlier part of the pandemic, you’re going pretty good in terms of the gains in home equity that you’ve got. We’re talking over $80,000 on average for the typical house over sort of the period of COVID, in terms of additional home equity. So tapping into something like a HELOC – a home equity line of credit – or even just a straight home equity loan, both of those can be very attractive options because there’s a lot of money there.
Now, of course, you still have other things like cash-out refinances and credit cards and personal loans. The thing about the personal loans and the credit cards is you’re going to be paying a much higher interest rate. And as the fed raises rates, you’re going to see those rates go up. And on a cash-out refi, those are really going to dry up because there’s not much of an incentive to refinance your home at current mortgage rates, because they’ve all gone up.
LESLIE: Right. Because you’re going up.
MISCHA: So, yeah. Exactly.
TOM: I guess it really also depends on the size of the investment. I mean if you’re going to buy a new washer and dryer, for example, that might be an appropriate thing to finance through a credit card. But if you’re going to go into a roof or a deck or something larger, then you really need a more stable, long-term source, like a home equity line of credit.
One of the things that my wife and I have done over the years is gotten the home equity line of credit but not used it.
TOM: We just had it in place. And that was really our emergency fund right there. And every couple of years, the bank goes, “Hey, do you still want this thing?” And then you’ve got to re-up it and all that kind of thing. But it seemed to be a good way to rely on the value of the house and the equity in the house to have a source if we needed to make those improvements and repairs.
MISCHA: Yeah. That’s exactly right. They are a very powerful tool in that sense. The main thing a consumer has to remember when you’re using these things is, unlike with a credit card or a personal loan, you are using your house as collateral. So, make sure that you are comfortable – you get the benefit of the much lower rate but you, of course, bear a little bit of risk that if you can’t pay that loan off, somebody might come after your house. So you want to make sure that you are cognizant of that trade-off.
TOM: We’re talking to Mischa Fisher. He’s a chief economist for Angi.
And Leslie, as we have said many times before, there’s a – we were talking about big projects but there’s a lot of smaller projects that actually give you a pretty good return on investment, right?
LESLIE: There’s truly so many things that you can do that benefit your situation currently when you’re living in the house but also do show you that big return on investment. A lot of just outdoor projects – we’re still seeing decking, front-of-the-house maintenance, new doors, new porch steps, gardening, landscaping, landscape lighting, that kind of stuff. And then, of course, on the inside, it really depends on the level of investments you want. There’s so many minor things that can make a major difference in a kitchen and bath that can give you a good return on investment. So you don’t have to spend a ton to kind of see those things pay you back.
TOM: Mischa, is that what you’re seeing over at Angi? Are you seeing a lot of investment in these smaller but high ROI projects?
MISCHA: We’re still seeing a range of projects but what you’re talking about is, I think, something that people have to really remember. And that is that these smaller projects can sometimes have an amazing return on the amount that you’re spending on them, because you can make a big visual difference for not a lot of money. And the reason being is that we’ve come up with all of these very clever, labor-saving installations because labor’s been so scarce.
And so now, let’s say if you want a stone veneer outside, instead of having to have a mason who manually puts in blocks and mixed mortar and does all those things, they now come in those premade sheets that can fit onto a track and get installed really quickly. And those sorts of things – a weekend project that can dramatically change the outlook for a couple – $3 to $10 a square foot, that is the biggest way to sort of make an immediate splash on your home. That, things like painting, switching out a front door, all of those are really great projects to consider if you’re still waiting to pull the trigger on spending tens of thousands on a kitchen remodel.
TOM: Mischa Fisher, the chief economist from Angi.
Mischa, thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to visit with us and really interpret for us what’s going on in this market so that we can all make some smart decisions about maintaining and improving our homes.
Mischa Fisher from Angi, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
MISCHA: Thank you.
LESLIE: Gail in Georgia is on the line with a wasp situation. What’s going on?
GAIL: We have a lot of insects and reptiles and all kinds of things in this tropic climate. But the thing that is worse is the mud daubers that build their nests on the side of your house. And we’re just constantly fighting that. And my question is: is there a way to eliminate that problem?
TOM: Well, not to completely eliminate it. I would say that there are some really good wasp traps that are out there. For example, this summer, I used one from – I think the company’s called RESCUE, which is ironic given the fact that they trap insects. But it basically was kind of a fancy sticky trap – is the best way to explain it. And it didn’t look like a trap when I hung it up. Because we had a lot of wasps there were congregating near our garden. And I came back a couple of days later and I said to my wife – I said, “There is hardly a parking spot left on that trap.”
TOM: I mean they just – they completely filled up the whole thing. So I think that kind of goes to maybe sort of reducing the populations a bit. So a wasp trap is a good thing.
But generally, the wasps are repelled by strong-smelling plants or oils. So, for example, if you have peppermint oil or something like that or lemongrass oils, geranium, clove, those types of oils …
GAIL: You’re saying put this on the house?
TOM: Spray it on where you see a nest form. And they’ll go away, right?
GAIL: Oh, OK. OK. Alright.
TOM: So I think between traps and a little bit of natural repellant, that’s probably the best you’re going to be able to do. They’re a bigger problem than just your house and there’s no way you’re going to keep them from doing what they do. They’re very territorial and they typically come back to the same area every year. So if you start to see that, you’ll know where to spray. And maybe you can do that in advance of them showing up.
GAIL: Thank you.
TOM: Alright? Well, good luck with that project.
GAIL: I appreciate it. Thanks.
TOM: Well, repairing concrete that’s been chipped or broken or deteriorated, like on steps or your foundation or your driveway and sidewalks, it’s a pretty common home repair project. But unfortunately, the reason it’s so common is because it’s one that many homeowners and even pros get wrong and they end up having to do it over and over again. And the reason is that they used the wrong repair material. You can’t repair concrete with more concrete or mortar mix, because it simply won’t stick to the old surface. And as a result, 6 months or a year later or sometimes even sooner, that patch falls out and you’re back to where you started and you need to do it all over again.
LESLIE: Yeah. So if you want to do this once and have that repair last, it’s important that you choose a product that’s designed specifically for structural repairs and one that’s designed to stick to those old surfaces.
Now, QUIKRETE is really, really good at this. They make a product called Polymer Modified Structural Repair. And of all the QUIKRETE repair products, this is the one that’s most versatile because it’s strong, it’s going to set fast. And most importantly – and this is what really counts – it’s got a high-bond strength, which means it’s going to stick like crazy to that old concrete surface that you’re trying to fix.
Now, the best part here is that you can use it for horizontal, vertical, even overhead concrete repairs. It can be easily shaped to match that surface that you’re working on and it sets in about 20 to 40 minutes.
TOM: Yeah. But most importantly, you make it once and the repair is done.
If you’d like to learn more about repairing concrete and the Polymer Modified Structural Repair product, just go to QUIKRETE.com and be sure to check out the how-to videos. QUIKRETE, what America is made of.
LESLIE: Tony reached out and he says that every year or two, he takes the time to remove the bottom element of his water heater and suck out the calcium deposits.
“The first challenge is that I have to rig up a piece of copper pipe onto the shop vac, tape it to the heater. And this is all just to accomplish this task. Is there a better tool out there to do this?” “I love your show,” he also writes.
So, let’s help this guy out.
TOM: Alright. Well, we will help you. Even if you didn’t love the show, we’d still help you. But we appreciate that you do.
And listen, I think you’re working too hard, Tony. The internal drain valve should be more than sufficient to remove the calcium deposits from your water heater. Which, by the way, are just adding a little bit of inefficiency by the fact that they’re there. They kind of act as an insulator and stop the water from heating up all that as quickly as it did if it didn’t – wasn’t there. But it’s really not that much of a big deal.
But if you do want to clean it out, all you need to do is open up that drain valve. I would hook up a hose – like a garden hose to the drain valve – I would run it somewhere where the water can run off and then I would open that valve for just a couple of minutes. Then I would shut it and probably need to put a cap on the end of it, because sometimes those valves aren’t the best. So be sure you have a little hose cap that you can put over the male end of that to make sure it doesn’t leak.
But this way, you’ll just be spilling off whatever calcium that happens to form up there. You don’t have to rig up anything from your shop. Just spill it off that water and shut the valve and you should be totally good to go.
LESLIE: Alright, Tony. I hope that helps you out. I hope that saves you some time and some crazy home improvement trickery and magic to accomplish this very same task.
TOM: Well, we all know better than to leave medicine in reach of kids. But what about basic household cleaners? They, it turns out, can be just as toxic. That’s why Leslie has tips to keep the little ones clear of cleaning products, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. One of the big things – which is crazy when you think about it but if you’re a kid, these things look really great. I’m talking about those liquid laundry packets. You know, the detergents in that sort of gelatinous, colorful block that kind of just looks like the perfect size of candy? But it’s not. It’s super bad for you. And of course, it’s packaged in a way that makes kids think it’s really awesome and they want to eat it. So, don’t let them. Let’s think about where we’re going to keep that stuff so we can keep our kids safe.
Now, consider this: there’s one call every 42 minutes to U.S. Poison Control Centers about a young kid under 6 who’s been exposed to the chemicals in laundry-detergent packets. A child under 6 is hospitalized every 42 hours after swallowing or otherwise coming in contact with a laundry-detergent packet. I mean that’s about four kids every week. And children who are younger than three years old account for most of these laundry-detergent packet exposures.
And you kind of have to think about it because maybe they’re not actually putting the detergent in their mouth. But kids, they’re active, their hands are sticky and sweaty. And they see this fun, colorful detergent packet. They pick it up. And if you’ve ever picked one up with a damp hand, you know that they dissolve very, very quickly. So now a kid’s picking it up, they’re holding it, maybe it melts a little bit in their hand and some of those chemicals get onto their hand. And then of course, kids, hand right to mouth even though it’s not the detergent packet itself.
So you’ve got to think about that. Because those chemicals will last longer on their hands than you think. So there’s so many things you’ve got to consider. So, definitely put those away. Maybe put a strong lid on a jar that’s totally out of reach. Whatever it is – but make sure that you store them up and away from the kids. It’s just smart. Yes, you can still continue to use them. But let’s think twice before we just stick them on the counter.
TOM: Good advice.
Coming up next time on The Money Pit, do you hate waiting for your shower to heat up? Hot-water recirculating pumps can help. They deliver hot water to faucets almost immediately and they can save you more than 10,000 gallons of water every year. We’ll explain how they work, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
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 2022 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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