Best Mosquito Repellants, Backyard Chicken Farming, Portable Generator Safety and more
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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because we are here to help you get that job done that we know that you need to do. You know it, too. You’ve been putting it off; you’re feeling all guilty and grumpy because you didn’t do it. You’ve been thinking about it all summer. Hey, let’s do it together. Pick up the phone; we’ll help you. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Maybe you want to make an improvement to your home that’ll make it cooler and more comfortable. Maybe you’re thinking about the change of seasons that’ll happen in the next month or so and you want to get ready for that. Whatever’s on your to-do list, how about putting it on our to-do list by picking up the phone and calling us at 888-666-3974?
Coming up this hour, we’re going to talk about a topic that really bothers me: this is the topic of the New Jersey State Bird. Yes, we’re talking about the mosquito.
LESLIE: Talking about mosquitoes.
TOM: And we know that you have them, too. The whine, the bite and the ouch and the itch. Mosquitoes can make a real meal of you. Insect repellants can keep them away. Some are more effective than others but there are some new repellants out there, including some all-natural ones, that do a really terrific job and we’re going to talk about those, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Alright. And as long as we’re on the topic of insects, maybe you are starting to be a little freaked out about ticks. And if that’s what you’re really worrying about, we’re going to tell you a way to control them that you might not have thought of. I’m talking about chickens. We’re going to give you the pros and cons of one of the fastest-growing green trends: raising chickens in your very own backyard. Whether it’s a terrace or a yard, you can do it, apparently.
TOM: Yeah and apparently, you will be in egg heaven for quite a long time.
This hour, we’re also giving away a prize package that includes a Raid Max Bug Barrier Gallon Starter Kit. It’s worth 55 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Anna in Alaska is working on a flooring project. How can we help you with that?
ANNA: Well, my husband and I are building a house out-of-pocket. It will be our first home and so far, we have a cement block or concrete wall that’s about 40 inches tall and we’re building the floor on top of that. But underneath, it’s going to be either gravel clay pad or cemented.
And we’ve gotten a lot of advice from different people that are just really conflicting, so we’re not really quite sure what we should go with.
TOM: Alright, so you’re talking about the crawlspace floor itself?
TOM: OK. Well, do you want to use it for storage?
ANNA: Eventually, yes.
TOM: Well, I think that putting what’s called a dust cover in there, which is a very thin concrete slab, is a very nice, clean way to do that. Typically, you’re going to put down some plastic first and then you would pour the concrete on top of that.
Now, you know, depending on how you do it, if it’s a large space, you may want to break it up by using expansion joints so that the – it kind of moves independently. Because if you – it depends on how thick you make it. If you make it fairly thick and if you reinforce it like a regular slab, you don’t have to worry about cracking. But if you’re going to put a very thin dust cover of about 2 inches thick on it, if you can break it up into sections, you’ll find that it’ll stay intact a lot – for a lot longer period of time.
ANNA: OK. And so that would probably help with permafrost then, huh?
TOM: Well, not necessarily. I mean the temperature is going to be the temperature but you want to – you do want to insulate the sides of it above grade. So you would insulate the sides above grade and you would insulate, of course, the box beam of the house, as well.
ANNA: OK. That’s very helpful. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Glad we could help you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And as you proceed with the house build, please do call back and let us know how it’s going.
LESLIE: Isaac in New Jersey is calling in about mold on the house. What’s going on?
ISAAC: Actually, I don’t know if it’s mold. The last couple years of my house, every year I would get like a green touch all over the siding of the house and I would have to power-wash it. First 10 years of me owning the house, I didn’t have this problem.
TOM: Right. Because you know why, Isaac? I bet you that the trees have grown up around that house in that last 10 years. And the more shade that you have around the house, the more pollen and moss and other organic materials that will attach themselves to the siding and grow in that space.
So, you’re doing the right thing by power-washing it but let me give you a couple of important steps. First of all, before you power-wash it, you want to treat it with an oxygenated bleach. Now, you can mix up Clorox and water or you could use a siding-wash material. There’s a number of different brands out there, usually in the painting section of home improvement stores. And you apply that and you let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes because that kills all the organic material. And then you power-wash it to rinse it off.
But take a look around your yard. And if there’s anything that you could do to trim back some trees and let a little more light get in there, sunlight is the best, natural mildicide out there. And typically, when you get those mossy kinds of problems on roofs and on siding, it’s because of overgrowth.
ISAAC: Thanks. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Isaac. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-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, home improvement, décor, design, quick end-of-summer must-finish project question, all for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re here to give a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, you may feel like you’re prepared for disaster if you’ve already got a home generator. But do you know how to use it safely? We’re going to have some important tips to make sure you can do just that, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide four times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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: Give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. This hour, we’re giving away to one caller a Raid Max Bug Barrier Gallon Starter Kit. The winner of this kit also gets a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit and a $25 gift card for The Home Depot. It is a prize pack worth $55. It’s going to go to one caller who picks up the phone and calls us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to give you a hand with whatever it is that you are working on. And this time of year, we’re still in hurricane season, summer storms are kicking up all over the country. And portable generators, they can really help you have sort of peace of mind. And this way, if a power outage happens, you’re all set: you know you can still have good food, take care of your computer. Whatever you need, you’re going to be safe.
But using one the wrong way – and I’m talking about taking your portable generator and maybe putting it in the garage. Just not being smart about it can actually lead to a gigantic disaster. Now, the experts at Generac, they’ve got some portable-generator safety tips to keep in mind.
First, never, never, never run a generator indoors or partially indoors, like your garage or a covered porch. Anything like that, just don’t do it because generator exhaust has potentially deadly carbon monoxide in it. So make sure that the generator is out of doors and where you place it outside, make sure it’s away from vents, windows and doors; you don’t want it coming back in.
TOM: Also, don’t overfill the generator’s fuel tank. You have to allow room for fuel expansion or the gas could overflow and that could cause a fire or you might even have an explosion on your hands. And you never want to gas it up when it’s hot; let it cool down first.
It’s also very important to never connect your generator to your home’s wiring or to an irregular – to a regular household outlet. Why? It’s called backfeeding and it can actually be very deadly. Backfeeding will send electricity back across the power lines that are connected to your home and this could injure neighbors or utility workers. The safe way to do it is with something called a manual transfer switch that could be installed by a licensed electrician.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s a good point. And the very best solution for connecting a generator to your home’s wiring is to actually use a permanently-installed backup generator: one that’s got an automatic transfer switch. And that’s what we use in our studio and our homes.
And if you want some more information on how this works and if you want some portable-generator safety tips, Generac really is a brand that we trust. And you can go to their website: it’s Generac – G-e-n-e-r-a-c – .com.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Pick up the phone and call us right now with your home improvement question.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dennis on the line who’s calling with a heat-pump issue. Tell us what’s going on with it.
DENNIS: Hi, Leslie. I don’t know. I’m having problems. It’ll cut out about every third day and all of a sudden we’ll look and the temps will be up to 80, 81, 82. Sometimes we can get it started again; sometimes we can’t. We had to go out and buy a portable air conditioner just to keep us going one night.
TOM: Do you have your heat pump on any kind of a green switch where it’s wired into the power-company grid and you give them the right to …
LESLIE: Reduce your power usage?
TOM: Yeah, basically. Balance the load.
DENNIS: I don’t know. I don’t know that much about it. My problem is I can’t get out there and look at it. And I went out Saturday and bought another thermostat, thinking that might be the problem, and here they said it would just plug right back in where the old one was?
DENNIS: And now they say, “You’ve got to rewire those eight little wires.”
TOM: Yeah, it’s not that easy.
DENNIS: So, it’d be hard for me to stand there and do that, so …
TOM: Well, look, this is not a job for a do-it-yourselfer; it’s a job for an HVAC professional. But the one thing I would check – because when you say that the heat pump goes off at various times, many power companies across the country have what’s called a green switch. And basically, generally there’s a program where they offer some sort of inducement to allow them to wire in this basically – switch into the HVAC system so that, in certain times of the day, they can turn off the power when they need to balance the load across the entire grid.
LESLIE: To reduce the chance of outages.
TOM: Right. And if you have that, it may not be set right. So I think that you need to call an HVAC contractor and have them take a look at it, figure out what’s going on. It’s not a thermostat. It’s something with the control circuit that’s doing this and if you got a green switch, that could be the solution.
DENNIS: Well, it all started with a power outage and it wouldn’t come back on again.
TOM: Hmm. Yeah, I wonder if – I think it’s something with the control circuit. I just want to make sure you don’t have the green switch and that’ll help you get to the bottom of it.
DENNIS: Well, that’s great. I’ll tell them to look for that. They did put a new capacitor in it. That didn’t seem to work, so maybe that’s looking for the green switch.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Marilyn in Iowa needs some help refinishing a fiberglass door. Tell us about the project.
MARILYN: Yes. I had moved into a house that had a gel stain on the fiberglass door and a little bit – it had some old stain left on it.
MARILYN: And I just stained around the gel stain, over the top of it? Now, some of the old stain is showing through and I don’t like the looks of it.
TOM: Yeah, you can’t put good stain over bad stain. It just doesn’t work out that way, Marilyn.
TOM: So what you should have done is removed it.
Now, the gel stain that you used, what kind of gel stain did you get?
TOM: Yeah, that’s designed for wood; it’s not designed for fiberglass. What I would do is I would go to the website for Therma-Tru Doors: ThermaTru.com. They actually invented a stain designed specifically for fiberglass doors.
See, when you try to use the stains designed for wood on fiberglass, you never get very good results, because wood absorbs the stain and fiberglass doesn’t; it lays on top. And you need to use the stain that has the right density and that’s why you need a stain designed specifically for fiberglass doors. You cannot use a wood product on top of that.
So what you’re going to do here – and it’s good news because you can actually remove all that stain that’s there. And then use the right top of gel stain, such as the one made by Therma-Tru, and it’ll look gorgeous. And you’ll be very happy and it’ll last a long time.
MARILYN: And what do I use to remove the stain then?
TOM: You’re going to use a paint stripper to remove that.
MARILYN: Oh, OK.
TOM: I would probably use – I don’t think you’re going to have to abrade it; in fact, I don’t think you want to do that. I think you’re probably just going to use a product like Rock Mineral.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s a good one.
MARILYN: What’s it called?
LESLIE: It’s called Rock Mineral.
TOM: Rock Mineral.
LESLIE: And it comes in a metal container, sort of like a turpentine container, looks like? And I like it because it’s thick, you can see it working, it doesn’t run all over the place. But definitely, take the door down, lay it down flat and do your work on a flat surface.
MARILYN: Alrighty. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Paul in Texas wants to do a project in a shower. What can we help you with?
PAUL: I have a shower that’s 27 inches by 27 inches. My father built it a long, long time ago. And it has ceramic tile in it – it’s 4×4 ceramic tiles – and I am wondering if there is any way to put some new finish on the inside of that without gutting it out. I’m really trying to shy away from the (inaudible at 0:15:45) and I hate putting furring strips, because I just don’t have the room. And I’m wondering if you can help me.
LESLIE: Well and if you put anything over it, you’re still going to lose room. And that sounds like a tiny shower or am I wrong?
PAUL: It is. It’s very, very tiny but …
TOM: Well, what’s the condition of the tile now? Is it the grout that’s looking kind of grungy or is it the tile that you don’t like?
PAUL: It’s more of a grout coming out. Some of the tile – the border tiles on the outside – the trim tiles – are coming loose and chipping just from years. It’s been in there over 40 years and …
TOM: Yeah, that’s actually easier. What you want to do is get a grout saw and you want to cut out all of the grout. You can grind away and slice out all of that grout in between the tile. The next thing you’ll do is you’ll repair all of the loose tile by regluing them back in place. And then you can regrout the whole thing and that’s not such a terribly complex job and it’ll look practically brand new.
PAUL: Am I going to – as far as matching those old tiles, am I going to have to get creative and make another pattern or are those old tiles like readily available?
TOM: Those are your options. You can take the tiles into a tile store, see if you can get something that’s close. If you can live with it, fine. If not, pull that row out and choose something that’s complementary and then it’ll look like it was always supposed to be there.
LESLIE: Or take out a big chunk of rows and put in a really fun, ½-inch mosaic glass tile, you know, to sort of modernize it. Or take out that same chunk of rows and put in a mesh-backed river rock or some sort of pebble to sort of update the whole look.
PAUL: Ah, really. Very, very good. Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Linda is calling in with a gardening question. How can we help you today?
LINDA: Well, I just moved into a new house – we just bought it – and it has a climbing rosebush.
LESLIE: Oh, how nice.
LINDA: Yeah. It is but my daughter said, “Oh, Mom, you need to trim this down.” I have no idea what she’s talking about. How far do I trim it? I mean it’s got some bare branches coming up.
LINDA: Do I take those out?
LESLIE: Now, when you say she wants you to trim it, does it seem like it’s just so overgrown or like you say, you’re noticing a lot of dead wood on the rosebud that doesn’t seem to be turning green or growing leaves or showing any sign of life on the inside?
LINDA: Right. That’s what I have. And they’re very long.
LESLIE: Yeah. The dead wood. What you want to do is when you’re pruning rosebushes, you want to get rid of any of that broken, dead, diseased or any of that wood that you might see that looks dry or shriveled or black. And when you cut it back, you want to make sure that you cut at a 45-degree angle.
And as you get down that branch, you see a place that maybe has a bud or a fresh leaf growing out of it? You want to cut about a ¼-inch above that bud or that leaf – whatever you see that’s showing growth – because some of that wood may look dead but on the inside it’s growing new growth and eventually that wood will burst off.
But if you see that it really shows no sign of life, you want to cut it back. Make sure you do so at a 45-degree angle. You want to use clean, sharp tools and you want to begin pruning from the base of the rosebush and work your way outward.
Now, since yours is a climber, I’m not sure if this applies but generally, with rosebushes, you want to take away some of the dead plant from the inside to give it more light and circulation. But with a climber, that’s how it really holds onto whatever it’s growing on?
LINDA: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: So you just want to make sure that you cut back whatever’s dead. And when you’re cutting it, look inside of that branch and you want to trim back until the inside is white.
LINDA: Until the inside is white?
LINDA: OK, OK. Because I have no idea what I’m doing; I’m new to all this and …
LESLIE: That’s OK. Generally, they say that pruning rosebushes is very difficult and if you do any research online, they’re like, “Oh, you’ve got to be so careful.” But pretty much, you can’t mess up a rosebush. It really will fix itself within a season’s time; you’re not going to kill it. Just don’t go crazy.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next on The Money Pit, we talk fowl. You may have noticed people all across the country trying their hands at raising chickens in their own backyard. Is this a trend for you? Well, it might be. Stay with us to find out.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil’s complete line of routers, with Soft Start technology. You experience less kickback and better control. Pro features at a DIY price. That’s what the Skil routers are about.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, it’s one of the fastest-growing green trends in self-sustainability but is your house ready for it? We’re talking about keeping chickens, not just out on a farm but actually in your very own backyard.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, urban and suburban dwellers, they’re catching onto the benefits of having chickens at their home. But there are many things that you need to consider before you take the plunge and go out and buy your chickens and create a coop.
So Gail Damerow is the real-life chicken-raising expert and author of Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. And she’s going to fill us in on all the scoop.
GAIL: Thank you.
TOM: So, Gail, is this really something that you can do in your backyard? I mean typically we think of chickens requiring an area the size of a farm to live comfortably.
GAIL: No. If you have a yard that’s big enough to have a garden, you have a yard that’s big enough to have a couple chickens.
TOM: And why are so many people interested in raising chickens right now? What are some of the advantages?
GAIL: Well, they are – they produce eggs and that’s a big, important advantage because you’re getting eggs from a source that you know where they’re coming from and what they’ve been eating. They’ll eat bugs in your yard, they’ll eat scraps from your garden, weeds and so forth that you pull or scraps from your kitchen as long as it’s not rotten food but just normal food-preparation scraps. They’re fun to have around. They’re just interesting to watch. They’re just big birds is what they are, if you like watching birds.
LESLIE: Gail, I have to tell you, I worked on a show for A&E called $100 Makeover and we did a house in the suburbs of Seattle. Young couple, kind of a hippy-dippy but really cool. And they were raising chickens and they had about six. And I would say there were a couple of different varieties, because some had hairy legs and some of them were puffy and they were adorable. And their two-year-old daughter got along well with the chickens. They were like part of the family.
And they left for us to do the makeover and they were like, “Just make sure you feed the chickens and do this and get the eggs.” And we had a great time over the three days and it was funny that if we’d forget to close the screen door to the back of the house, they’d come in. We’d find them sitting on a kitchen chair and we’d be like, “Ah! Get them back in the coop.” But they were a lot of fun.
GAIL: Yeah, they are. I had a similar experience. We were – it was a really cold winter and we had our basement door open when we were bringing in firewood. And our rooster came in through the door and he parked himself in front of the wood stove to warm up.
TOM: That was a smart rooster.
LESLIE: How funny.
TOM: Hey, now, speaking of roosters, you don’t actually need a rooster, though, to have chickens that lay eggs, correct?
GAIL: That’s correct. A lot of people are under the misconception that the rooster causes the hen to lay eggs. The rooster’s function is to fertilize the eggs if you want to hatch chicks. But if you’re just wanting – if you want to have eggs, you don’t need a rooster and in many areas of the country, especially the most populated areas, it’s illegal to even have a rooster.
TOM: Yeah, because they’re the noisy neighbor part of the chicken family.
TOM: Hey, how many chickens are we talking about? What’s sort of the minimum number if you want to get started raising chickens?
GAIL: I would think three. I wouldn’t like to see fewer than three because chickens are social animals.
TOM: And you need a pen to keep them in? And what else do we have to get to get going?
GAIL: Well, we want to keep them protected from predators. We want to keep them out of the neighbor’s flowerbed, so you want to have a pretty good fence. And a lot of people like to have an overhead cover, which would be like an aviary so that they can’t fly out.
GAIL: You need a coop that’s going to protect them from wind and rain and sunshine; they need shade. And depending on the part of the country that you live in, you don’t – even a three-sided shed would be adequate in a temperate area. And then, of course, if it’s a really cold area, you need something that’s going to protect them from all sides so they don’t get a draft in the wintertime.
TOM: And about how many eggs can we expect to get from three or four chickens?
GAIL: Well, that depends a whole lot on the breed.
GAIL: Some breeds will lay – some breeds and strains will lay pretty nearly an egg a day and others will lay maybe around 180.
TOM: Wow. So …
GAIL: Usually when you buy your chickens, the source that you get them from, like the hatchery, they’ll list in their catalogue the average rate of lay for each breed.
TOM: You can be in egg heaven.
GAIL: You bet.
TOM: Gail Damerow, author of Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Sounds like a real fun hobby to have.
GAIL: Thank you for having me.
LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, are you like most Americans and love the summer but hate the mosquitoes that go along with it? Unfortunately, they do go hand in hand. And those pesky bloodsuckers you love to hate are more than annoying: they’re gross and they can carry disease and they truly are still annoying. So we’re going to give you the buzz on the latest mosquito repellants, coming up.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by InSinkErator, instant hot or hot/cool-water dispensers. Delivering 200-degree hot or cool filtered water in an instant, at the touch of a lever right at the kitchen sink. Perfect for homeowners looking to save time in the kitchen. For more information, please visit www.InSinkErator.com.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win a Raid Max Bug Barrier Gallon Starter Kit, also a copy of our book and a $25 gift card for The Home Depot. It’s a prize package worth 55 bucks. Going to go out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call; we’d love to give you a hand with your almost-end-of-summer project.
Well, being that we are still in the summer season, you know the drill: you’re in your backyard, you’re enjoying a nice evening when bam, the attack begins. You are swarmed, stabbed and instead of you enjoying your meal, you become a meal. We are talking about the dreaded mosquito invasion.
Now, did you ever wonder how it is they find you and then dive-bomb right on you and get you? Well, it’s because those little bloodsuckers, they actually sense the carbon dioxide and the lactic acid and even the moisture that your body gives off. And insect repellants, they work by kind of masking those natural body scents, making you basically invisible to the bugs. But there are some new products that are available that are no longer a smelly, greasy mess but you’ve got to know which one is right for you and how you like to use it.
TOM: That’s right. Now, there are three main types of insect repellants available. DEET, of course, is a mainstay. It’s a chemical that’s been used since the 50s and in simple terms, it works. DEET-based products are very good for outdoor sports, for hiking, camping and hunting because they stand up to perspiration.
The second option, though, is a newer product that’s called picaridin. Its fans say that it stops mosquito bites and has an odorless, light and clean feel. Personally, I kind of love the DEET, especially when I’m going out on a Boy Scout trip or something like that. But if it’s …
LESLIE: Because you know it works.
TOM: Yeah, because I know it works. But if it’s an occasional sporting event or something of that nature, I may try the picaridin.
A third option is oil of lemon eucalyptus or OLE. It’s a plant-based repellant that’s made from a renewable source. OLE also has a very nice scent to it and it’s been recommended by the CDC for effective protection against the West Nile virus.
I had a friend once that used one other option, Leslie, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
LESLIE: What’s that?
TOM: Garlic pills.
LESLIE: Ugh. Did that work?
TOM: Yeah. Well, apparently it did. She was traveling in South America and took garlic pills and it kept the bugs away from her.
LESLIE: But she also didn’t make any friends.
Well, if you still want to be social and not scare everybody away, including vampires, we’ve got some other tips for keeping those mosquitoes away.
Now, an EPA-registered repellant with DEET has the highest level of protection. Here’s the thing though: you have to spray it on all exposed areas of your skin because even a quarter-sized gap is enough for those mosquitoes to get through and then bite you. And when you’re using repellant on children, make sure that it’s specially formulated for kids’ young and delicate skin and be sure to wash it off of you when you get home.
You know, if you can, just wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants. Also, try to avoid being outdoors during those peak biting times, which are really before dawn or around dusk. If you do – oh, it’s similar to shark attacks, so just think of the mosquitoes as land shark.
Now, if you do happen to get bitten, which all of us seem to get bitten all summer long, wash the area. Try not to scratch it. You’re right: just don’t scratch it. And watch for signs of infection, like redness or swelling or pain.
If you want some more advice, short of putting on a hazmat suit to go outside for your barbecue dinner, head on over to Google and Google “money pit mosquito protection.” You’re going to get a ton of information there.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with the home improvement projects that are bugging you and we will help you make them all go away.
LESLIE: Mike in North Carolina is dealing with a sidewalk issue. What’s going on?
MIKE: Well, the house is 22 years old but I have brick pavers for a sidewalk.
TOM: Very nice.
MIKE: And one of them has come loose.
MIKE: And I want to know how to secure it back down and where it won’t be like a – put down a ½-inch of plaster or something so it’s not sticking up above all the rest of them.
TOM: OK, so it’s brick pavers. So there’s no mortar, right? They’re just setting right in there like puzzle pieces?
MIKE: Right. They were sitting, I guess, on top of some kind of mortar-type adhesive but there’s nothing in between them.
TOM: Right. OK, so is there – can you pull it out? I mean is there something underneath that’s making it loose? Is it on the edge? Why is it loose?
MIKE: It’s on the edge and I have no idea why it came loose. It was sitting firmly in the setting.
TOM: Right. Two things. You need to – there’s different types of retention systems that are used to hold pavers in at the edge but you could use something as simple as mix up some QUIKRETE and put a little bit of mortar against the outer edge. And then the second thing is there’s a sand, a locking sand, that QUIKRETE makes.
LESLIE: It’s called JOINT-LOCK.
TOM: JOINT-LOCK, that’s right. And basically, use the JOINT-LOCK. You put it across the entire patio or walkway surface …
LESLIE: And you kind of sweep it in and it falls in between all of the little cracks and where the mortar would go if you had any.
TOM: Right. And then you wet it down with a hose. It solidifies and then it locks everything in place.
LESLIE: Exactly. It keeps the weeds out, it keeps the bugs out. And then, if you ever need to replace a paver, you just kind of jiggle it loose and it goes – and like pops out.
MIKE: That sounds great. That’s what I’ll do.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Linda in Texas on the line who’s got a flooring question. How can we help you in your money pit today?
LINDA: We had carpeting and we had a flooded floor, so we put laminate and tile down to replace it. The area in the kitchen is all tiled and then it runs it from the kitchen into the dining area and then in front of the fireplace. And right in front of the fireplace starts the laminate; we put laminate there.
And so there’s an area of 16-inch tile in front of the fireplace that’s tile and then there’s a running board thing that goes down between to separate the two things. Well, that thing came up and we can’t get it to stay down for anything.
TOM: So this is wood, correct?
TOM: This running board is wood?
TOM: And what’s the subfloor underneath this? This is wood or concrete or what?
LINDA: No, it’s concrete.
TOM: OK. So why don’t we mechanically attach it? The adhesives are not working anymore. Why don’t we mechanically attach it?
So, how thick is this piece of wood?
LINDA: Oh, about – I’ve got my fingers up. Can you see it?
TOM: Three-quarters of an inch?
LINDA: About a ½-inch or ¾ of an inch.
TOM: Half inch? OK. Because what I would suggest you do is pilot-hole this out and you want to do this in such a way that you can counterbore the screw below the surface and then use a wood plug to cover it over, because we want this to be invisible when we’re all done.
But if you drill a counterbored hole and what I mean by that is you have a pilot hole and a clearance hole. And then you have sort of a ½-inch or 3/8-of-an-inch hole that sinks down below the surface and then that fits a wood plug that you can stain. So now you have the hole in the wood, right? And you have those strategically across this piece. Then you use something called a Tapcon screw, which is designed to go into concrete.
When you buy a Tapcon screw, it comes with the actual masonry drill bit and the screws in the same package. You pilot right through that – those holes that you lined in the wood. It goes right in the concrete. It takes a little bit of work because you’re obviously drilling into concrete. When dealing with that masonry bit, you’ve got to push a little bit.
And then you pull it out and you use this Tapcon screw, which actually screws right into the concrete. It’ll pull that piece of wood right down. Then once it’s nice and solid, you can put those wood plugs in, touch them up with a little bit of stain and you’ll be good to go.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still ahead on The Money Pit, what do you do about stains on wood floors when sanding just isn’t enough? Stay with us and we’ll tell you how to solve that problem.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And at MoneyPit.com, you can download our free iPhone app and take Leslie and I with you wherever you go. It may not be convenient for you to listen right now; that’s why we have an iPhone app and you can listen whenever you would like to. That is online, it’s free and it’s at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can head on over to our Community section and post your question there, which we’re going to answer some now. And I’ve got one that Vickie from Florida posted and she wrote: “How do I clean small, black spore marks left on my white siding?”
TOM: Ah, good question. Now, those black spores may very well be what we call artillery fungus. Looks like little dots of like shotgun pellets kind of a thing. Usually, they’re very tiny: 1/16 to an 1/8 of an inch, sometimes a ¼ of an inch in diameter. And they’re pervasive.
Now, what we know about artillery fungus is that it very often sources from mulch that you put around your house, especially the shredded mulch, because the spores are in there and they get airborne and they stick to the siding.
The way to treat it is two things: first of all, if you’ve got that mulch around your house, get rid of it, replace it with bark; secondly, to treat it, you want to hit it with an oxygen bleach, like an OxiClean. You want to apply it in a solution and let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes and then rinse it off. You may have to brush it a little bit and I would try it in an area that’s not so obvious, first, just to make sure you don’t have any color issues associated with it.
But if you get rid of the source of it, which is typically the mulch, and then treat it, stay on top of it, you can clean it up and it probably won’t come back.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got a post from Texas where somebody’s restoring a wood floor but dealing with an area that just quite can’t get sanded out. “Can I stain it with a darker color to make it less noticeable?”
TOM: I think you certainly can do that. You’re going to have to be a bit of an artist with this and I wouldn’t go too terribly dark. Because you could always go darker but remember, you can’t go lighter.
LESLIE: Without a lot of work.
LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps you out.
TOM: Well, if you have a basement or attic that is moisture-prone, you are no doubt familiar with the battle against mold. Leslie has got some tips on how to avoid that situation in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, you kind of think of your storage space as just the place you stick things, you don’t ever think about them. And then you go down there or upstairs and it’s musty and it’s stinky. Well, that’s because we’ve got one culprit that most of us are using in our storage areas that really is the biggest mold attractor. And getting rid of it can actually get rid of almost all of the mold in your house immediately.
Now, when we talk about mold, mold needs moisture and a food source to grow. And cardboard boxes can become a mold feast in a damp basement or attic. So, to protect your belongings and your home’s air quality from the threat of mold and therefore your health, you want to store items in plastic boxes or on metal shelving instead of on your basement floor and in cardboard boxes.
You also want to make sure that you address any basement water leaks. And if you do happen to already have mold starting to grow, go ahead and hire a mold remediation professional. They’ll clean up the space, they’ll make sure that that mold really isn’t hazardous to your health. If it’s a small amount, bleach and water really will do a good job. But you want to maintain that moisture level about 30 percent. Otherwise, you’re going to open up the door to mold growth and then a whole bunch of other issues in your home.
So store properly. A clear box is way better anyway; you know exactly what’s in there. Alright, guys?
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up next week on the program, have you ever had a situation where you had to find a tile to replace, say, a few that had broken and perhaps you can’t find those and may be faced with replacing an entire floor or a countertop? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. We will give you some tips to find those missing antique tiles or even ones that are maybe not so antique but you just can’t find them, next week on the program.
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.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(Copyright 2011 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.)