Avoiding Termite Infestations, Outdoor Entertaining Ideas, Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day, Forgotten Cleaning Tips and More

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help you take on your home improvement project. What’s on the to-do list? Let’s move it over to the done list. Pick up the phone and call us. We’ll help, 888-666-3974. Short of showing up with our nifty, little tool box and doing it for you, we’re going to tell you how to get it done. It’s almost as good, without having to feed us and entertain us and all that. You really don’t want to do that because we’re a lot of work, trust us. Especially Leslie. Man, high overhead. Unbelievable.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I’m a real P in the A.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Try us out. We’re here to help you. Give us a call right now.

    We have got a great show planned for you. First up, if you love to get your house sparkling clean for spring, you’re going to want to hear this: there are places in your home that you might be overlooking that are not just dirty but potentially dangerously unclean. We’ll tell you where those are and what to do about it.

    LESLIE: We’re going to tell you about spring being the time of year when termites swarm. Now, this has nothing to do with your cleanliness level; it just has to do with where you live. And once those termites start to swarm, they’re going to move underground to feed and guess what they like to eat? Your house. Hooray.

    We’re going to tell you how to identify and avoid a termite infestation.

    TOM: Also ahead, we’re all getting ready to spend more time outdoors. We’re going to teach you what the must-haves are for backyard entertaining, according to a new survey by the American Society for Landscape Architects.

    LESLIE: And we’re giving away a Bissell vacuum to one lucky winner. We’ve got up for grabs the Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop, which is going to eliminate the need to sweep before you mop.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth $219. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us on today’s show. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tara in Pennsylvania is on the line with an insect question. How can we help you?

    TARA: Hi. I was just wondering – we have a bunch of earwigs that’s up underneath our siding. And it seems like they’re always there and we were just wondering, what can we do to get rid of them? Is there anything that’s attracting them there?

    TOM: Well, look, they’re probably looking for food, so something is landing on that siding and attracting them. Generally, when they’re not up high like that, it’s advisable to trap them. Like a trapping program will reduce their population. But if they’re up on the side and crawling on the building, I’d probably go straight to a pesticide-management program, some sort of chemical control.

    The University of California recommends a pesticide called Spinosad – S-p-i-n-o-s-a-d. And there’s a number of commercial products that are available that have that in it. And that should be probably the best way to control them and stop them from coming back and encourage them to go to somebody else’s house to infest.

    TARA: That would be helpful. Oh, along those lines, as far as insects go, we get crickets down in our basement every …

    LESLIE: Spider crickets.

    TARA: I have – I guess they’re spider crickets; I’m not sure. Little black crickets. But every year, they drive me crazy because my bedroom is downstairs.

    TOM: Why don’t you call a pest-control operator, like Orkin, and have them just do a general spraying for insects? So you can probably, you know, put just the right pesticide in and around your home in a safe and effective way that will reduce both problems – stop the earwigs and stop the crickets – and just get you a lot more comfortable.

    TARA: Oh, that would be great.

    LESLIE: And you know what, Tara? With the cave crickets, we get them where I live on Long Island, in the basement. And I always feel bad when my sister and brother-in-law sleep over, because they’ll sleep on an air mattress in my basement, and I’m like, “The spider crickets are going to leap on you.” Because they totally gross me out. But if you take some double-stick tape and just put it around the perimeter of the room, in the interim while you’re waiting to treat, they do tend to congregate there. And they’ll get stuck and then you can just pick it up and toss it in the morning.

    TARA: Oh, that’s a good idea. I was just using some indoor spray every year when they come around and then I’m sucking up the crickets constantly – dead crickets – everywhere. And along with them and stink bugs, it hasn’t been fun.

    TOM: Yeah, I bet. Tara, when it comes to making decisions to whether or not you should go with a professional or use the sort of the do-it-yourself approach, I always feel that if you go with a pro, they’re actually going to use less pesticide than you’re applying yourself. And it’ll be done in exactly the right manner, with just the right amount, to take care of the problem. I think people tend to overspray when it comes to the over-the-counter pesticides and actually put themselves in greater danger. Does that make sense?

    TARA: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Bill in Tennessee is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you?

    BILL: My house faces east and of course, you get the west – the sunset in the back of my house. But that sun really pounds down hard on my house and I’ve got wood windows and I’ve got a stained wood front door. My question is: would I get any benefit to – I need to – I want to scrape the windows down and repaint them. Would I get any benefit to putting an exterior KILZ-type product on there before I paint it?

    TOM: Yeah, I mean you always get a benefit from priming the wood, which is what you’re talking about doing. So, sure, especially if you’ve got loose paint, you want to scrape it down, sand it down, get rid of everything that’s loose, then prime it. If you want to really do a terrific job, I would use an oil-based primer and that’s going to soak in and seal and make sure everything is nice and tight and attached to the wood fibers. Then you put your topcoat on top of that, of paint.

    So priming is always a good idea and KILZ is a terrific product to do that with.

    BILL: OK. Now, let me ask you about the stained wood door. What kind of product would you recommend to kind of seal that in?

    TOM: So the door is stained right now? Does it have any kind of gloss finish on it?

    BILL: No. It’s kind of a walnut-type color.

    TOM: But it has no urethane-type finish on it? You think it was just stained?

    BILL: Well, it’s about – the house was built in ’06, so it’s a couple years old. It’s faded out a little bit. There may have been one there on there at one time but it’s …

    TOM: Well, here’s why I ask. If the wood door has never had any stain – never had any finish on – a topcoat of finish on it, then you could just restain it. And so if you restain it – and again, if you sand it down, rough it up and then restain it, you should be able to get a very rich tone. But then what you do need to do is put a urethane on top of that. Use an exterior urethane because it has UV protection in it. And take the door off the hinges to do all the work, set it up on a couple sawhorses in your front yard or your garage and then work on it there.

    If the door has already got a finish on it, then you may have to sand it down through that finish to get to the raw wood in order to restain it.

    BILL: Great. Well, I appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if you’ve been letting those cobwebs gather all winter, it’s time to throw open the curtains and give your house a good spring cleaning. We’re going to tell you where serious dirt might be lurking that could be dangerous, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you with the answers to your home improvement questions and to give you an awesome prize to help you with your spring-cleanup chores. We’re giving away a Symphony All-in-One Vacuum Cleaner and Steam Mop from Bissell.

    It’s very cool because it’s really kind of two products in one.

    LESLIE: Yeah. The Symphony is going to vacuum and steam at the same, exact time, so it’s changing the entire old-school process of cleaning. You don’t have to sweep and then use a dust pan and then get your mop and get the bucket and do everything.

    Well, it’s got a powerful, cyclonic-action system on it that’s going to clean away any dry debris that’s sort of sitting around on the floor that you might not even see. And what’s really cool is that the steam is going to sanitize the floor surface, which will eliminate up to 99.9 percent of all germs and bacteria, so that’s amazing.

    TOM: It’s worth $219. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show. So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Cheryl in Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    CHERYL: I have a cement porch. The house was built 1981 and it has a cement front porch to it. And along the edges of the porch, it’s cracking and crumbling off.

    TOM: OK.

    CHERYL: And then on one portion of the porch, it actually has a – water stands there because it’s a dip. I just wondered if there’s an economical way I can fix that to make this porch last a little bit longer.

    TOM: Yeah. And there’s a couple of things that you can do. You can either resurface the whole porch surface or you could mix up a recipe of QUIKRETE products that could be used to patch those badly chipped or spalled areas.

    Now, the key here is that you just can’t buy a cement mix in the bag, mix it up and be done. Because when you’re trying to adhere new concrete to old concrete, you need to use products that are designed to make that bond possible.

    So if you go to QUIKRETE.com, you look at the listings for projects, there are actually one-sheets there that give you the step-by-step for repairing badly damaged concrete. There’s also a one-sheet for resurfacing concrete. And I think one of those two applications and the products they recommend there are going to work.

    It is a do-it-yourself project and it’s not terribly expensive. The products are very affordable and the instructions are there, too. But make sure you follow them. It’s like mixing a recipe: you can’t leave out one item or it’s just not going to come out right.

    CHERYL: OK. And then, now, as far as along those edges that – we have to probably build up a sidewall.

    TOM: You could mix it up into a consistency where you could trowel it and reform the edge.

    CHERYL: Oh, OK. Cool. So QUIKRETE.com. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Well, no more excuses. It is finally time for spring cleaning. And when you’re giving your house a good once-over, you want to take note: there are some things in your home, that you might be overlooking, that could really turn into, say, a biohazard. And one of those most commonly overlooked places is the grime that accumulates on your ceiling fan.

    Now, the top of the blades surely get pretty dirty and dusty and grimy and you really want to clean them, because you don’t want that big egg-beater up there throwing all kinds of dirt and dust and bacteria around the house.

    Also, you want to clean the top of the fridge. Unless you’re super-tall, it’s not a place that’s easy to see but kitchen grease and dirt get stuck there, together, into a really gunky mess and accumulates. And that could lead to fungus. And especially important if you store anything up there. So get on top of that fridge and get behind those ceiling-fan blades and get them clean.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, you also have those great, cloth, reusable grocery bags. They’re great for the environment. You keep them in the car; you just fill them up every single time you go to the store. But do you ever wash them? You’ve got to remember that you’ve probably had raw meat in them once or twice, so you really need to give them a good cleaning after each use. Now, unless your bag says otherwise, wash them with hot water.

    Next, you probably love your morning shower but if you’re not cleaning your showerhead, you could be bathing in bacteria. A study from the University of Colorado actually found that 30 percent of showerheads had bacteria on them that could cause lung infections. I mean here you are, you think you’re getting clean and you’re just making yourself sick.

    Now, last, let’s not forget about your trash cans. You throw unspeakable things in there. And gross stuff can just grow on the bottom from any garbage that’s leaking through the trash bag. You may want to take them outside and use the pressure of a hose to clean them. And if you follow these tips, you’re going to make sure that you have a clean and safe spring.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Robert in Oregon is on the line and is having an issue with some plaster walls at his home. How can we help you?

    ROBERT: Well, I was finishing a room in my bedroom and after applying the plaster, some of the plaster was coming off after I painted it. But originally, I did the living room, which was my first job, and I mixed it – a bunch of the plaster – Imperial plaster. And of course, I mixed too much and it got hard, you know? So I learned not to mix so much, because it only – you can only use so much during a certain time before it sets up.

    So, anyway, in the next room, I drywalled it, finished it and then I used a product called Plaster-Weld, which is supposed to be a primer for the plaster.

    TOM: Right. Plaster-Weld is a bonding agent.

    ROBERT: Right.

    TOM: And you used this on top of drywall? Is that correct?

    ROBERT: Yes.

    TOM: Was it new drywall?

    ROBERT: Yeah, new drywall.

    TOM: OK.

    ROBERT: But I’d primed the walls first and then put the Plaster-Weld over that.

    TOM: OK. Hmm. OK.

    ROBERT: And then mixed up my plaster – it was Imperial plaster – and applied it and finished it all up and troweled it to the texture I wanted. And then we went back – my wife and I – and touched up a few spots and then let it dry overnight. Then we put a primer on it and while putting the primer on it, some of the plaster was coming off.

    TOM: First of all, I would not have primed the drywall. I don’t really see a reason to do that. You prime the drywall to control adhesion and to stop the absorption, I should say, of the new paint – the top coat of paint – and to get an even sheen. But you weren’t really concerned about sheen because you intended to do a plaster coat.

    You were basically building what’s called “plaster lath.” This is the way homes were done in the 50s, where you have a drywall base and then you put a plaster coat on top of that. The bonding agent was the right thing to do but that should have gone directly onto the drywall. Now you put the drywall on, then you put a primer over that and then you put the bonding agent on top of that. So now you have to get the bonding agent to stick to the primer and that’s a little more difficult than getting it to stick to the raw drywall.

    So I think you’ve got a situation now where you’re going to have this problem potentially repeating itself. So I hate to tell you this but what I might do is put another layer of drywall over this – a real thin layer – and start again. You don’t have to use ½-inch; you can use ¼-inch just to skim it. And then put the plaster over that.

    ROBERT: Alright. Thanks.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Andrea in Pennsylvania is on the line with a bathroom-flooring question. How can we help you?

    ANDREA: I have a half-bath. It is about 3×3 and to the back of the wall, where the toilet and the sink are, there is a gap that starts about an 1/8-inch and it goes to about an inch-and-a-quarter. And below it, in the basement, there is a hole that – a cinder-block hole – that you can see. I crawled in there, then – yeah. And it was disgusting, let me just tell you.

    TOM: I bet.

    LESLIE: I’m sure.

    ANDREA: But there was some sort of water damage.

    TOM: Hmm. So …

    ANDREA: But when you go to the bathroom in the wintertime, it’s a little chilly.

    TOM: Yeah. So, do you think that the floor dropped?

    ANDREA: I don’t know if the floor dropped or if it’s from some sort of – connected to it used to be a refrigerator that had an ice maker.

    TOM: That’s a big gap.

    ANDREA: And it was connected to the toilet tank.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Wow.

    ANDREA: Yeah.

    TOM: A refrigerator/ice maker connected to the toilet tank.

    ANDREA: Yes.

    TOM: That’s some house you’ve got there, Andrea.

    LESLIE: That sounds weird.

    ANDREA: Oh, my house was built in the 1930s.

    TOM: They probably just tapped into the water line near the toilet tank and that’s how they fed the ice maker. Well, let’s hope that’s how they did it.

    ANDREA: Yeah.

    TOM: Let’s hope they weren’t making ice out of the toilet water. That would be pretty gross.

    LESLIE: Oh, my goodness.

    ANDREA: I hope not. That would have been pretty bad.

    TOM: Now, in terms of this sloping floor – sagging floor – the crack that you see, when you say it’s a crack, you’re talking about between the wall and the floor, correct?

    ANDREA: Correct, correct.

    TOM: Alright. So it clearly looks like the – either the wall levitated or the floor dropped.


    TOM: And the floor dropped – when the floor dropped, it dropped with the toilet in it, so it must have been slow over time. Otherwise, you’d have leaks all over the place. I suspect that something’s going on with the floor here.

    So the question is, first, do we have a structural problem?


    TOM: My answer is I don’t know, because I didn’t see that crawlspace. But if you go down there and take a bunch of photographs and post them in the Community section on MoneyPit.com, I will take a look at it for you.

    ANDREA: OK. Oh, I’d appreciate that.

    TOM: Or you could have a carpenter or an engineer, a home inspector take a look at that.

    If the floor has just settled that way because it’s an older house and it’s just kind of worked its way into that position but doesn’t seem to be structurally damaged, then we have to deal with just the cosmetics of it. And the way to do that might simply be to install baseboard molding or adjust the baseboard molding that’s there. Is there molding there at all now? Is there a baseboard?

    ANDREA: No. Not at all.

    TOM: Yeah, so …

    ANDREA: Right now I have it stuffed with some Styrofoam.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, I would certainly fill the gap. I would insulate under that crawlspace floor, too, so that it’s warmer in there for you in the wintertime. But then I would just put a piece of baseboard molding. I’d let the molding ride down on the floor so the molding will be crooked with the floor.


    TOM: And I think that that’s OK. And if you paint it the same color as the wall, it would not be noticeable.

    ANDREA: Oh, that would be excellent. That seems simple enough for me.

    TOM: Alright, Andrea. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still to come, it’s termite-swarm season and lucky for you, those pesky pests out there can cause billions of dollars in damage if they pick your house. Gross. We are going to tell you how to identify and avoid a termite infestation, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, as we get ready to bring in spring, termites get ready to swarm and begin feeding. And unfortunately for us, their main source of food is wood, like the kind that you use for decks and railings and fencing, oh, and framing your houses. So, here to tell us how to identify, prevent and control a termite infestation is Greg Baumann from Orkin. Now, he’s the VP of training and technical services.

    Welcome, Greg.

    GREG: Well, thank you very much, Leslie. It’s great to be here.

    LESLIE: Thank you so much. So, Greg, you hear an awful lot about swarming termites. Now, is a swarm something that you’re going to notice or do you kind of have to be in the right place at the right time?

    GREG: Well, let’s just think about termite colonies, in general. They’re social, which means they have lots of individuals living in a colony. Hundreds of thousands, conceivably. And when the colony is really healthy, they’re going to send out winged reproductives. Not all termites fly, just the ones that are going to reproduce out there and start new colonies. And these are the things that we might see around windows, around door frames at – especially in the spring time, usually a nice, sunny day right after a rain.

    LESLIE: So you may not actually notice the swarm itself but you’ll notice remnants of it.

    GREG: Well, you might see live insects flying and sometimes people say, “Is that an ant or is that a termite?” And so it’s really important to grab a few samples and get somebody to take a look at it.

    Just give you a quick tip here. If you can hold one of those termites – and they’re not real tiny. And you can count the wings. If you can have four wings of equal size and the antenna coming out of the head are straight, chances are it’s a termite. So you might want to get somebody – a professional pest-control company – to come out and take a look at it and confirm that they are, in fact, termites. But they only swarm in the springtime.

    LESLIE: And that’s generally when temperatures are around 60 degrees or so, true?

    GREG: That’s exactly right. Now, there are species in the south, like the Formosan termite. And these are imported and came about 100 years ago. And sometimes, they’ll swarm in the summertime, as well. But the most common – the eastern subterranean termites that most of your listeners are going to find – are going to be swarming in the springtime, as well as some of the western types.

    LESLIE: Now, that brings up a good point. You know, generally, where I am in the Northeast, I’m only seeing this in the springtime when we get temperatures around 60 degrees. There are certain parts of the country where that’s the daily climate, that’s their normal weather. If not 60, then warmer. Are they dealing with termites year-round or is that truly just a spring/summer seasonal thing?

    GREG: Well, you know what, Leslie? I believe you’re from the New York area or Northeast area. You can have active termites year-round. They’re not going to be outside; they’re going to be working inside year-round. So they don’t go dormant; they don’t hibernate. On the outside, where they’re naturally occurring, they’re going to dive a little bit deeper into the soil and they’re going to wait there until it warms up and be active at that point. But yes, termites will work year-round.

    LESLIE: If I’m looking around my home for sort of any signs that I have got a termite infestation, are there any hotspots that I should be checking first?

    GREG: Well, especially areas that are close to the ground, so any wood that’s in touch with the soil. That’s just a conduit for termites. Remember, the most common type of termite is going to be the subterranean termite, typically living in the ground. But they will build protective tubes, look like brown straws of dirt, along the wood and bring the moisture with them. So, anything that’s going to be really close to the ground is – has a much better chance of being infested than something that’s, say, up in your attic.

    LESLIE: So Greg, when it comes to thinking about what these guys can do to your house, termites, how much damage can they actually cause?

    GREG: Well, Leslie, just the seen (ph) amount of damage was calculated by the National Pest Management Association. And they determined that termites cause more than $5 billion in damage to homeowners and homes every year, just in the United States.

    LESLIE: And what can we do to sort of prevent the possibilities? I know it makes a lot of sense to keep mulch piles far away from your foundations. Are gutters a factor, as well?

    GREG: Termites love moisture. And so – and this is most species of termites. There are some exceptions but the most common termites love moisture. So what you want to do is make sure your gutters are unclogged. You don’t want to have a lot of moisture around your foundation.

    You want to make sure that that mulch – and we like to tell people, “Pull your mulch away.” But most people really like mulch up near their foundation. If you do have mulch near your foundation, don’t pile it as high as the lowest portions of wood of your house. You certainly want to create that bit of a gap there.

    You also want to keep an eye out for areas that are going to have direct access to soil, such as dirt-filled porches and crawlspaces and even root cellars, if you live in an old house. These are things that can certainly create great access for termites.

    And what’s a great source of wood around a house this time of year? People like to have piles of firewood; they might not have used it all in the wintertime. That’s a food source. Anything cellulose can be a food source: paper, wood, even Masonite-type siding.

    LESLIE: That’s a lot to think about.

    Now, you know you’ve got termites. What are our treatment options? Really best to bring in a pro to tackle this?

    GREG: There are a couple different ways to attack this problem. Number one, you can treat the soil; number two, you can use what they call a “baiting system” around the exterior of the house; and number three, a traditional liquid treatment. All three of these work very well and they’re available primarily by a professional because homeowners typically do not have the equipment necessary and Leslie, most people just aren’t interested in trying to tackle this.

    LESLIE: Oh, no thank you. I will happily write a check.

    Greg Baumann from Orkin, he’s the VP of training and technical services. We also have a great podcast series available at Orkin.com and MoneyPit.com, which is a new pest-control topic each month, with practical advice and tips for homeowners. And if you want some more info, check out their website at Orkin.com.

    Thanks so much, Greg.

    GREG: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, getting ready for more backyard entertaining this spring season? We’re going to tell you what popular must-haves are topping the list for ramping up your outdoor space, after this.

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    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller who gets on the air with us today is going to win a Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop from Bissell.

    Now, what’s so cool about this is that it is two products in one. The Symphony is going to vacuum and steam at the same, exact time. And it’s got a super-powerful, cyclonic action which is going to suck up dried-up debris that’s kind of been sitting around on your floor and you might not even have known is there. And the steam heat that it’s using while it’s cleaning is actually going to eliminate up to 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria. It’s pretty amazing.

    TOM: And it weighs only about 10½ pounds, so it’s easy to take from room to room. It’s worth $219. Going out to one caller we talk to on the air today, so pick up the phone. Let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Cheryl in Wisconsin has a question about heating. How can we help you stay toasty?

    CHERYL: I have a large area downstairs. It’s about one-third – it’s 11×36 feet and about one-third of that we use for a dining and kitchen area, mainly when we have company.

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm.

    CHERYL: And I’m not looking to heat that whole area, just the area where we eat. And I was wondering if one of those oscillating space heaters would be a good idea. One of the taller ones?

    TOM: Well, look, here’s the thing. I think your question is about efficiency and most space heaters are not very efficient. They’re only efficient if you’re going to do what you’re doing, which is – that is to isolate the heat to just one very narrow space of the house. But this is a big area. If it’s 30-something feet long, it might be hard to do that. It’s different if it’s like one individual bedroom or something of that nature.

    But I will say that, generally speaking, they’re more expensive to run than your heating system on a BTU basis: in other words, comparing the cost to create a BTU in your main heating system versus the space heater.

    What kind of heat do you have? What kind of fuel do you use?

    CHERYL: Natural gas.

    TOM: Yeah. Natural gas is always going to be less expensive than electric space heaters. But if you’ve got an area that’s a little bit chilly and you want to just supplement it on a limited basis, like just when you’re using that room for company or dining, I think it’s OK. But there’s just not very much that – there’s not very much that’s efficient about the use of a space heater.

    CHERYL: Yeah. I was just thinking, you know, right close to the table in the area where we eat.

    TOM: Yeah. But only in those limited circumstances, when you’re using that area, do you want to use the space heater. Then you’ll keep the heat down the rest of the time?

    CHERYL: Actually, our basement is so cold. When we have company, we really crank up the heat and the basement is still really cold. We live in Wisconsin.

    TOM: Yeah. So even when the heat’s up, it’s chilly.

    CHERYL: Yeah.

    TOM: So, if you’re just using it on a temporary basis to supplement it only when you’re down there eating, then I think it’s probably OK. But I think your original question is: is it efficient? No, it’s just not.

    CHERYL: OK. That’s what I wanted to know.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it seems Americans are getting smarter about the design of their outdoor living spaces. The results of a new survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects are in and the trends are very telling.

    First results are showing that more homeowners than ever want landscaped areas that include native, low-maintenance and drought-resistant plantings. And that makes a lot of sense. We want to enjoy that space, not have to toil away at it.

    TOM: Now, when it comes to outdoor entertaining, most of those surveyed are paying closer attention to lighting, which topped the list of in-demand projects. Seating and dining spaces were a close second, including a trend towards integrated seating, like walls, boulders and ledges and steps that turn into seats.

    LESLIE: Outdoor fire pits and fireplaces were still top on the list of must-haves. Outdoor dining and kitchen areas came in a close second, followed by recreation areas, like pools, tennis courts and spas.

    Now, while some of these things might seem like you’re trying to keep up with those Kardashians, the majority, they’re affordable.

    TOM: Plus, you could install a fire pit yourself. You could also build yourself a nice garden that can provide fresh vegetables and fruit. Add a grill, some comfortable seating and a few strategically placed lights and you will have a great outdoor space all of your own.

    LESLIE: Bill in Florida needs some help with a garage floor.

    Bill, what’s going on?

    BILL: We have stains from acid spills in various places. The floor is about – the building is about seven years old. There are a lot of various stains from the traffic and normal automobile dirt.

    LESLIE: Yeah, regular wear and tear.

    BILL: I wondered if there’s some company that specializes in – or where I can find out how to clean the concrete floor first and then some – possibly some coating that would withstand the acid and normal battery – or normal automobile stains.

    LESLIE: So this is a big project. I mean is this something you want to hire out or do you have a maintenance team in the building that would take care of this?

    BILL: No, we would have to hire someone. But the first challenge is to find out – satisfy ourselves that it can be done.

    TOM: Well, it absolutely can be done and you don’t have to have a professional do this. It’s really just a big painting project. And there are products that are used to clean the concrete first and then there are different products that are used to paint it.

    BILL: Is there any problem in cleaning the spill – the battery acid?

    TOM: No. All of the painting products are going to have a recommended prep procedure. And one of the ones that works very, very well is QUIKRETE.

    They have an epoxy system, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Right. They’ve got a two-part, epoxy, garage-floor coating system. A lot of people make them. I happen to really like the QUIKRETE because I like that they offer 40 different colors. I’ve never tackled a space larger than my own garage and the neighbor’s garage and this is a pretty massive space we’re talking about. But your first step is going to be a product that they have called BONDžLOK.

    And that really etches and preps the surface. It cleans it, it prepares it so that the paint and the epoxy coating system is going to adhere really well. So once you’ve done the BONDžLOK step, the floor is prepped, ready to go, let it dry, whatever the manufacturer’s directions say. Then you mix up this two-part epoxy floor coating and that goes on and it’s going to protect it against gasoline, oil, scuffs, normal wear and tear. There’s an additional coating that you can put on top that’s premium that will – probably because it’s a commercial space, you’ll want to go for.

    But there are products out there. You don’t have to worry about what’s already on the floor as long as you do that cleaning step.

    BILL: And so all I have to do is contact the QUIKRETE people.

    TOM: That’s right. QUIKRETE 2-Part Epoxy is the best way to go.

    LESLIE: Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Alright, guys, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with shades of green. Not talking about green clothes or silly hats; we’re talking about eco-friendly home improvements that can range from small to big. But they can all pay off and help you save the planet, too. We’re going to tell you what you can do, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement project and visit The Money Pit Facebook page to check out the brand-new Spring Fling Pin to Win Sweepstakes.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got four great tips to help you get started on your spring cleaning and all you have to do is pin at least one of our tips to your Pinterest board. And you’ll have a chance to win one of three gift cards for The Home Depot.

    We’ve got up for grabs a $100 gift card, a $150 gift card and a $250 gift card just waiting for you.

    TOM: It’s online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. While you’re there, you can also post your question to our Facebook page, just like Bob from North Carolina did.

    LESLIE: Alright. And Bob writes: “There are smoke marks above one of my electrical outlets in the kitchen. Should I call an electrician? I don’t use the outlet.”

    TOM: Yeah. Just because you’re not using it doesn’t mean there couldn’t be something going on there. You could have some arcing, some sparking, some burning going on behind that outlet and you’re just not aware of it. So, yeah, definitely worth checking out and having a professional do that.

    I’ve got to tell you, one time there was an outlet in my home. It was a kitchen outlet; it was actually a ground-fault outlet. And we were doing a project. I had to take that outlet out, not to replace the outlet but just to kind of get behind it. And man, was I surprised when I found that the back of that outlet was already burning. So, sometimes, there’s things going on that you don’t know about that’s behind the walls, so it’s a really good idea to have an electrician remove that outlet and take a look behind it and of course, replace it with a ground-fault outlet because it is a kitchen location, Bob.

    LESLIE: Alright. Blake from Colorado writes: “I found a nest of baby squirrels living inside my aluminum siding. I hear them from inside the house. How do I get rid of them? I don’t want to hurt them.”

    TOM: Yeah. You don’t really want to do anything at this point. The baby squirrels will leave on their own. Once they are grown to the point where they leave, then you want to look at that siding and try to figure out how they got in and then perhaps use hardware, cloth or steel wool to seal up any gaps in it so that you don’t have any further infestation of squirrels or any other kind of animal inside that siding space. But leave them alone; they will leave on their own and they won’t damage your house in the process. Kind of an extra pet just hanging around.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I was going to say you can always have a nice, new pet. Although, I don’t imagine that they’re very friendly.

    TOM: Well, for most people, St. Patrick’s Day is associated with the wearing of the green. But for us, it means going green. Now, there are shades of green that you can add to your home and we’re going to learn about those, right now, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, there are so many ways to be more environmentally conscious when it comes to your home. And you might be surprised at how quickly those little changes can add up. And they can also become a little addicting once you’re helping Mother Nature.

    So, let’s get started with some baby steps. Now, if you aren’t ready to dive in, you can try a lighter shade of green first. And this might include switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, recycling any of your wasted home and using natural cleaning supplies.

    Now, if all those things are already on your I-do-that list, well, you can step it up to a medium green. Now, that might include a low-flow toilet or a dual-flush system, getting a programmable thermostat or even growing some of your own food in your garden.

    And if you’re ready to take the plunge into dark green – and the savings are going to really add up big-time – you can think about solar panels, a windmill or a rainwater-harvesting system.

    Now, whatever shade you’re ready for, remember that this St. Patrick’s Day, you won’t just be wearing the green, you’ll be saving it, too.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, we’ve got your spring-maintenance checklist. Now, it was a hard winter for most of the country and that means we need to take a much closer look at those outside areas, to see what needs attention. We’ll have the step-by-step, on the 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 2014 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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