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Getting Rid of Bedbugs, Top Products from the National Hardware Show, and the One Thing You Should Do Before Moving Into a New Home

  • 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: And hey, we are here to help you. That’s our job. So, what’s going on in your money pit? We’d love to hear from you firsthand. Pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you’ve got a squeaky floor, if you’ve got a wall wart somewhere, some nastiness going on needs to be fixed, the door is sticking, whatever is going on, maybe you need some advice for planting a garden or building a deck, pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question, right now, to our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. Because we are here to help you.

    Coming up this hour on the program, bedbugs are in the news. They’re back with a vengeance and the only thing tougher than getting rid of them is figuring out how to do it, which is why bedbug services and products work best if you know which to choose and which don’t. We’re going to talk to an author of a new book about bedbugs that’s really fascinating, because she’s a millennial and she has suffered from these bedbug infestations in various hotel rooms. She’s very sensitive to them and she devoted part of her life to telling us how to keep them out of our bedrooms, so that’s coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: So guys, what are you working on? Are you painting? Is that like on the top of your to do list? Well, we want to help you make that job easier than before, so we’re going to share some tips on how to plan your painting project for the best possible results before you pick up those rollers and brushes.

    TOM: Plus, we’re ready to answer those home improvement questions, so let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Patrick in Tennessee is on the line and needs some help with a water feature. What can we do for you?

    PATRICK: I have an aquaponic garden that was in the yard at our old house. When we moved, this new house is pretty much all pool and concrete in the back. And this aquaponic garden, it’s basically about 150 gallons of water and 150 pounds of lumber that occupies about a 5×2½-square-foot area. And I’m just concerned if I put it on the concrete, if it’ll crack.

    TOM: So you’re worried about the concrete cracking underneath it?

    PATRICK: Correct.

    TOM: And what are you talking about? Like a concrete driveway? A concrete sidewalk? What are we talking about?

    PATRICK: It’s like a slab that goes around the pool.

    TOM: What’s the tank size? It’s 200 gallons, did you say?

    PATRICK: There’s two tanks, one mounted above the other. So one’s 100 gallons and one’s 50 gallons.

    TOM: So 150 gallons times 8 pounds per gallon, so you have over 1,000 pounds of water there, plus the lumber. That’s not terrible. I mean think of it: that’s like four or five people standing on the concrete together.

    PATRICK: OK.

    TOM: So I think it’d probably be OK. You know, it really depends on how thick the concrete is and that sort of thing. But generally speaking, concrete should be able to take folks standing shoulder to shoulder all around it without a problem.

    PATRICK: Well, thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Jennifer in Texas is on the line and needs some help with a flooring project. Tell us about it.

    JENNIFER: We are planning on laying hardwood in our home. We have a two-story home. And I’m wanting to know if it is better to lay each plank the same direction, upstairs and downstairs, or can we switch it up?

    TOM: Generally speaking, you want to go in the long direction of the room. So in other words, you want the boards to be parallel to the longest wall. I don’t – I would not switch that up because it’s going to look odd, don’t you think?

    LESLIE: Yeah, it makes the room seem bigger.

    JENNIFER: Oh, OK.

    TOM: Now, what kind of hardwood floors are you putting down, Jennifer? Are they prefinished hardwood floors?

    JENNIFER: Yeah, it’s the snap-and-lock.

    TOM: OK. So it’s an engineered floor. So, make sure they’re parallel to the longest wall. And remember, nothing is square about a house.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: So, measure the center of the room as determined by the center point between the walls. And figure it out so you don’t end up with a sliver of hardwood floor on the end.

    JENNIFER: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Patrick in Iowa is on the line with a roofing question. How can we help you today?

    PATRICK: OK. I bought a home; it was a for-sale-by-owner. The roof was put on about four or five years ago. And in the disclosure, he mentioned there was nothing wrong with the roof. But since moving in – now, being in Iowa, we get severe weather and I understand a couple shingles might rip off during a windstorm or something like that. But it’s literally – it’s daily, shingles are coming off.

    So I patched some of the shingles but it is – it’s every time we get a wind, shingles are just blowing off. And so I ask him, “Can I have the name of the company that did the roof?” And so, I got the name and phone number and I talked to the workers that did it and they said, “We’ve been out there every single year, year after year. We told him it’s no longer covered. He has to pay for it himself.” And he – and they asked, “Didn’t he mention that in the disclosure?” And I looked through the disclosure and of course, there’s nothing in the disclosure that mentions anything about …

    TOM: Right. Of course. Yeah. Wow. Sounds like you have a pretty strong case of fraud.

    PATRICK: And of course, I don’t want to go down a road that is going to be months and months and months or years. But it is – it’s just one of those cases that if it’s not in the disclosure – but then I can prove that it is. Is there any recourse whatsoever?

    TOM: Well, yeah. The recourse is to hold him legally responsible for the cost of replacing the roof. And this is really more of a question for an attorney than for home improvement experts like ourselves.

    But I was a professional home inspector for many years. I’ve seen these situations before. And if you have a seller that outright misrepresents the condition of part of the property on the disclosure, then they should be held liable for that and in some cases, can be held liable for multiples of what the actual damage is which, in this case, is essentially going to be the cost of a new roof.

    PATRICK: And it’s not just that. If I was told, then I could have just budgeted for …

    TOM: Right. You could have headed it off, exactly. But it’s – some people just want to make sure – just want to misrepresent their home and try to hide all the problems. And that’s why you have professional home inspectors out there which – by the way, did you get a home inspection done, Patrick?

    PATRICK: Yes. There is a mortgage on it. Of course, the mortgage company did their inspections.

    TOM: Well, no, besides the mortgage company, did you have your own, independent, professional home inspection done?

    PATRICK: I did not.

    TOM: Yeah. So that probably was a mistake. Because home inspectors work for you and not for the mortgage company. And a good-quality home inspector – for example, one that’s a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors – would have spent two to three hours going over that house and probably would have seen all of the repaired shingles. Because that’s something that’s actually fairly obvious to see.

    So, unfortunately, you can’t focus on the past but you should try to hold the seller responsible and maybe you could take him to small-claims court. I don’t know. Again, question for a lawyer but it sounds like you’re going to need a new roof.

    PATRICK: Well, I know that it’s a metal roof that’s going to be going on, so …

    TOM: OK. Alright. Well, good luck. Sorry that happened to you, Patrick. Good luck with the project, though. 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. Give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question. We’re here to help you out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Well, if you’ve got a busy family, you’ve got a busy kitchen. It can feel like Grand Central Station in my house sometimes. But I tell you what, if you are thinking about updating that space, picking the right kitchen countertop is key. So we’re going to tell you how to do that, with this week’s Pro Tip presented by Grayne Shingle Siding from the Tapco Group when The Money Pit continues, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: When you’re ready to search for a home, start at Realtor.com. Realtor.com is the most accurate home search site. And be sure to work with a realtor to help you through the process. Realtor.com and realtors, together we make home happen.

    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 if you tuned in last week, you heard our broadcast from the Top Products Pavilion at the 2015 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. It was cool. We got a sneak peek at the hottest up-and-coming home improvement products and we told you all about them. And I’ll tell you what, future is looking good.

    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. Really, we saw so many products that make your household job so much easier. One of my personal favorites – because I always find I’m standing on a ladder and trying to be more overreaching than I should be — was the Werner 9-Foot Reach Podium Ladder. It’s great because it sort of wraps around you and it lets you work in every direction. And it’s got a little rail guard on the top that you can put stuff and supplies, which I always seem to have lots of things that I drop on the floor.

    So the Podium Ladder by Werner is really great because it helps me tackle a lot of projects and gives me the reach that I want and all the tools that I need.

    TOM: It’s kind of like an experience where you can see what safety really feels like. I mean it’s really solid and the Werner podium ladders come in both fiberglass and aluminum. You can learn more about that product and other top products from the National Hardware Show. Just head to Twitter.com and search the hashtag #TopProductsNHS. You’ll also find photos and more info in our Top Products Gallery at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Marlene in Minnesota is on the line. How can we help you today?

    MARLENE: We have two aluminum-clad, factory-finished garage doors, dark brown in color or at least they were.

    TOM: OK.

    MARLENE: And they’re beginning to fade due to oxidation and sun exposure. Is there anything we can do to restore that finish?

    TOM: Well, not short of painting them. Because if you – when you say “restore them,” that would presume that there’s a way to kind of bring back the luster of the original paint finish. But after years of exposure to sun and especially those darker colors, you do get oxidation where the paint surface is broken down. And you’re not going to bring that surface back.

    The good news is that because they’re metal doors, they’re fairly straightforward to paint. You want to make sure that you lightly sand the door. And then I would use a metal primer – so a good-quality, metal priming paint – and then whatever your topcoat of paint is going to be beyond that.

    And if you do that right – because it’s metal and it’s not organic, so it’s not subjected as much to expansion and contraction and certainly not moisture absorption – a good paint job on a metal door like that could easily last 10 years.

    MARLENE: OK. Well, thank you for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dan on the line calling in from Ontario, Canada with a question about a drafty home. How can we help you?

    DAN: To try to explain this stuff, you know the backer boards – what they put on cabinets?

    TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm.

    DAN: OK. Now picture that made in tile but 4×4 sheets.

    TOM: OK.

    DAN: And it’s white and it looks like it’s got this stucco tile.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s called “composite siding.” So what’s going on with it?

    DAN: Well, I’d like to know if I could put this – they’ve got this paint, OK? It’s like a stucco? I was just wondering if I – could I put that kind of material on this fiberboard?

    TOM: Well, you can generally paint fiberboard or composite siding with anything that you – with any typical exterior-grade paint. It doesn’t require a special paint. In fact, it actually requires quite a bit of paint. Because I used to joke that that kind of siding stood up as long as you painted it every day before you went to work. It’s not known for its durability, you know?

    So, any paint that’s a good-quality exterior paint should work. Now, are you trying to get a textured look to the places?

    DAN: I’m trying to get that stucco look.

    TOM: Yeah, the stucco look. OK. Well, if it’s a paint product that’s designed to do that and you’ve researched the paint product and it is a good-quality product, I don’t see any reason why it won’t work.

    DAN: Well, you’re telling me more than what these two guys knew at the paint store.

    TOM: Just tell them you want to buy more stuff; they’ll agree with you.

    Good luck, Dan. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    DAN: Well, thank you. I enjoy your program. It’s very informing.

    TOM: Well, kitchen counters serve as the work surface for family life. It’s where we prepare food, we eat our meals, maybe even pay the bills. And help with the homework happens there, too. So, choosing the material for those counters is important. We’re going to have some advice now on what to consider when making a choice, in this week’s Pro Tip presented by Grayne Shingle Siding from the Tapco Group.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Perhaps, right now, the most popular option is natural stone. The look of natural stone really adds a richness and a depth to your kitchen space, so it really makes it a good choice for kitchens and baths alike. Now, granite and quartz have become the gold standard of late. They’re both beautiful but they can be very costly. And a small bathroom can really give you an opportunity to have a luxe look without a ton of money being spent, because you’re dealing with such a small countertop.

    TOM: Now, solid-surface countertops are another great option. They’re beautiful, they’re very flexible in terms of design. The composite material is available in lots of colors and what we call “textural blends.” They can be part of a green kitchen or bath. You can get them in any size, any color, any shape. The texture or the pattern options are really endless. And most important, they’re very stain-resistant and they’re super-durable and they can be affordable, as well. Because I’ll tell you what, they really last for the life of that kitchen.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, another good option is ceramic tile. And with tile, you’re going to have the most size, color, shape, texture, pattern options. Really, with tile, you’re only limited by your imagination and how you want to lay things out. Tile is going to be durable and stain-resistant. It’s easy to install; you can do it yourself. It could be a project like that or a pro if you’re doing some tricky cuts. It’s affordable but you have to keep in mind that the grout needs to be sealed, otherwise it’s going to stain. You’ve got to sort of keep up on making sure that the grout is clean.

    Now, another option that I think is popular in some areas of the country and for certain parts of the kitchen is butcher block. It’s really beautiful and it’s natural. But you have to remember that butcher block is going to need the most care because you have to prevent absorption of E. coli bacteria, which is bad.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Pro Tip presented by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. The uncompromising beauty of Grayne’s 5-inch shingle siding offers the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance.

    Visit Grayne.com – that’s G-r-a-y-n-e.com – or ask your pro today.

    LESLIE: Erin in Ohio is on the line and needs some help with a playground. What can we do for you?

    ERIN: I have a swing set/playset. It’s made out of treated wood and it’s about 10 years old. The flat surfaces, they’ve turned black and the wood is cracking. I’m wondering how I can best clean that up.

    TOM: Well, the best thing to do is to use a wood cleaner. But let me ask you this: is it pressure-treated, this wooden playset?

    ERIN: I believe so, yes.

    TOM: Because pressure-treated lumber has sort of fallen out of favor as a playset, because of the chemicals that are in the pressure-treated lumber leaching out of the lumber, getting into the soil and so on. So, I’d just give you a bit of a warning on that.

    But if you want to clean this, Flood makes a product called Flood Wood Cleaner that works really well. Basically, you wet the lumber down, you apply the wood cleaner, you let it set for 20 or 30 minutes. You don’t let it dry – you may have to remoisten it again – and then you kind of scrub it clean. You can use a pressure washer after that to scrub it clean. It does a pretty good job of brightening up the finish, taking away the dirt and the grime and lifting up any of that old, gray sort of oxidation that settles on the wood or the black oxidation that settles on the wood.

    You can find that at most home centers and hardware stores. And again, it’s called Flood Wood Cleaner.

    ERIN: OK. Once I have it clean then, am I better, do you think, to stain it or paint it?

    TOM: No, you’re better to stain it. What you want to do is use solid-color stain, as opposed to semi-transparent stain, because it’ll last a lot longer. The solid-color tends to fade a little bit better and doesn’t peel like paint would.

    ERIN: And the same – like we have a swing – a porch swing – that I’d like to put on there, as well. Same thing then with that to clean it up? It’s been outside for some time.

    TOM: Yes. If it’s natural wood, that’s a good product to clean it up with. And the same advice applies to the porch swing.

    Now, is that also made out of pressure-treated lumber or is that something different?

    ERIN: It’s about the same age. I believe it is.

    TOM: Alright. So, again, use the solid-color stain.

    ERIN: OK. Very good. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Erin. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’re going over to Eunice in Arkansas who has a retaining wall that thinks it’s a chameleon. It’s changing colors. What’s going on?

    EUNICE: Part of it is – the part that’s turning white powdery-looking is the part that’s exposed to the weather. And it’s kind of spreading. It looks like it’s – the whole thing will eventually turn white. I don’t know if it’s oxidizing or if moisture from the ground is making it change colors or what.

    TOM: You know, that’s exactly what’s happening, Eunice. What you’re seeing is called “efflorescence.” And essentially, water from the ground pulls up because those concrete blocks are very hydroscopic. So it – water pulls up and then as the water evaporates, it leaves its mineral salts behind. And that’s what that whitish/grayish deposit is.

    So it’s not harmful; it’s really just cosmetic. And there’s not going to be a lot you can do to stop it, though. If it’s an outside wall like that, if there’s going to be a lot of moisture collecting in that area, you’re going to get that sort of thing from happening.

    EUNICE: Oh, OK. So power-washing it or using a chemical or anything wouldn’t make a difference?

    TOM: Well, really, all you need – I’ll give you a little trick of the trade. If you use white vinegar – so if you were to mix up some white vinegar and mix it with water in a pump-up sprayer, that will melt the mineral salts right away.

    EUNICE: OK. Very good. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Well, unfortunately, by now you probably know someone who’s had a dealing with bedbugs. Gross. It just gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. Now, bedbugs really have made a huge comeback in these recent years and the only thing harder than getting rid of them is deciding how you should be doing that. So we’re going to share some answers with you, when The Money Pit continues.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.

    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, here at The Money Pit, we like to talk about trends, things coming and going. And here’s a trend that, unfortunately, has been sticking around. I’m talking about bedbug infestations and it really has exploded over the last 15 years. And that has sparked all kinds of products and services, from websites that out your bedbug-infested hotels or to bug-sniffing dogs.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. In fact, not too long ago, Leslie, if you remember, I wrote a story about a woman who had an experience with bedbugs. Imagine this: you fly all night long, get to your hotel and you’re tucked into bed, you’re flipping on the news and just as you do that, they’re doing a story about a hotel that was totally infested with bedbugs and it’s yours.

    LESLIE: Oh, God.

    TOM: And you just checked into it and they’re in the lobby doing a live shot. Well, that actually happened in New York City and there’s been lots of stories just like that, which is why we thought it was a terrific opportunity to invite Brooke Borel on the program right now. She’s a contributing editor at Popular Science magazine and she’s got a new book out on bedbugs.

    Brooke, welcome to the program.

    BROOKE: Hi. Thanks for having me.

    TOM: So what got you interested in bedbugs?

    BROOKE: Well, first of all, I’ve had them before. I live in New York, same as the hotel you just mentioned, and I’ve had them three times over a period of about five years. First in 2004 and then twice in 2009.

    TOM: Wow. They like you a lot.

    BROOKE: Yeah, I know. Well, I think part of it is I’m very allergic to them. I’m very allergic to them, so I – in some of the situations where I’ve had them, they weren’t really big problems but we caught them really, really early. And yeah.

    LESLIE: And was this in your home? Or was this – you travel a lot for work?

    BROOKE: Well, the first time – the first three times – were in my apartment. Different apartments. I had moved in between the first time and the second two times. Yeah, they were in my apartments. And then I actually – there was a fourth time, too, in a hotel room just last year in Chicago. And I guess that’s the one I was talking about. I caught it very quickly because I’m so allergic. Some people might have stayed in that hotel room and not even noticed that they had been exposed to bedbugs, because they might not have had an allergic reaction like I did.

    TOM: Alright. Well, let’s try to slay some myths here about bedbugs so we know the creature we’re dealing with. Do they actually spread disease or otherwise harm people? Or do they just pretty much psychologically freak you out?

    BROOKE: Yeah. Yeah, which is harm in and of itself. They aren’t known …

    TOM: That’s right, of a different sort.

    BROOKE: Yeah. They aren’t known to spread disease. That, hopefully, will bring comfort to some people. That doesn’t mean they absolutely can’t but so far – and researchers have been looking into this for decades, looking at all the different microbes they might be able to carry in and on their bodies. And so far, none have been shown to be able. There might be some that live in – some microbes that live in and on the bedbugs but none are shown to actually be able to spread and infect a human being. So that’s a good thing. There’s still research going on in that area to kind of figure that out some more.

    As far as the mental-health thing goes, though, that’s a serious problem. They definitely can cause insomnia and anxiety in people that don’t normally suffer from those things. They can exacerbate mental-health issues for people that do already have existing issues. So, they can be a pretty big problem as far as the mental-health aspect goes.

    LESLIE: Now, it seems like whenever you hear about bedbugs, there’s always some sort of professional service that comes in with heating equipment. Is there anything that you, as an apartment owner or a homeowner, can do yourself if you discover that you’ve got bedbugs?

    BROOKE: There are some things you can do on your own but I still think it’s a good idea to get professionals involved and I’ll get into the reasons why, just in a minute. But you can do all of your laundry on high temperatures; that kills them. You can seal that laundry and the bedding and anything else that can go in the washer/dryer. Wash them on high heat, dry them on high heat and then seal them in plastic so the bugs can’t get back in. I recommend using clear bags for that or clear plastic containers that you can actually see what’s in there in case you need to go back and get them. And this, of course, is all if you actually already have a problem that you’re dealing with.

    You can also get rid of clutter, you can vacuum, you can do some cleaning. But as far as actual treatments go, a lot of the over-the-counter stuff doesn’t necessarily work as well as the labels would lead you to believe. So a lot of the stuff like the different sprays, like all-natural sprays and whatnot, might just be a waste of money. There are even a couple of over-the-counter sprays that got – the companies got sued by the FTC – the Federal Trade Commission – in recent years because they couldn’t prove that they actually worked as well as they claimed.

    TOM: That’s a good point. I’m not a big fan of over-the-counter products. I think that, generally, consumers are concerned about pesticides when it comes to professionally-applied pesticides, because they perceive them as being sort of this incredibly strong and almost overkill approach to get rid of bugs.

    But what I think is that when we buy over-the-counter pesticides, we spray them without a lot of knowledge and we overspray them. And I think that we potentially expose ourselves to more pesticides and more chemicals as a result of that, as opposed to calling in a pro that knows just what to put down, just the right amounts and where to get rid of the problem.

    BROOKE: Yeah. I think that’s a good point. And most of the stuff that – I mean there are pretty strict regulations on what insecticides you can use in the home and especially the bedroom. The downside is that most of the insecticides we can use in the bedroom, bedbugs are actually – they’ve grown quite resistant to those, so they aren’t as effective as we would like them to be. But yeah, a professional should be very knowledgeable on how to apply those insecticides so they’re not going to be dangerous for you in any way.

    And over-the-counter stuff, there’s some that’s going to be pretty harmless but it won’t get rid of your problem, so that’s an issue in and of itself. There are also some that are labeled for bedbugs. Like there are foggers, bug bombs and that kind of stuff that are labeled for bedbugs, in a marketing sense, but they don’t actually work very well. And there have been – this is a – not necessarily the usual case but there have been cases where people with existing health problems have overused those trying to get rid of bedbugs and have ended up with really bad, exacerbating health problems or even dying. So you really should be careful. Read the labels and be careful with the materials you’re using, for sure.

    TOM: And I love the fact that every once in a while, you find somebody who operates under the principle “if 1 bug fogger is good, 12 is better.”

    BROOKE: Yeah. Yeah. The foggers actually – there was some research out of the Ohio State University where they tested the foggers and they seemed to actually scatter the bugs rather than killing then, anyway. So they probably don’t actually work to begin with.

    TOM: We’re talking to Brooke Borel. She is the author of Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World.

    So, if you do discover bedbugs, what is your advice on how best to get rid of them? Just pick up the phone and call a pro? What seems to work best?

    BROOKE: I think, in most situations, you definitely should do that. This is what I would personally do myself. I am so allergic to them, if I had them in my home I would know pretty immediately. So I might try – because it can be very expensive to get rid of them. I don’t necessarily recommend this for everyone but for me, I probably would try and do all my laundry and do some steaming and see if I keep getting bitten before calling in someone and spending the money.

    However, most people aren’t necessarily allergic or a lot of people might not be allergic. So if they notice signs of bedbugs on their mattress or whatever or if they are getting bites and they’re not sure what it is, it might be a good idea to call in a professional just to give it a look-over.

    LESLIE: Now, Brooke, it seems like the go-to method that you’re always hearing about is heating treatments. But I’ve been hearing that there’s a downside as homeowners are trying to take care of this themselves.

    BROOKE: Yeah. Well, first of all, the heat treatment does work very well and the good news is that bedbugs don’t seem to be developing a resistance to it. So it does work really well and it’s a non-chemical way, if you’re worried about chemicals, to kill the bugs. It can be very expensive, though. So, some people have been trying to take matters into their own hands and getting space heaters or whatever else and trying to do a heat treatment themselves. And they have then caught their houses on fire.

    There was a case actually, I think, just last week on Long Island in New York where a guy tried to catch – he tried to light some bedbugs in a rental car on fire and he ended up blowing up his car, along with some other cars.

    LESLIE: I’m from Long Island. Sometimes we’re not that bright.

    BROOKE: Yeah. So you heard that story, yeah. Heat treatments are good but they are not something that you should try on your own. They’re something that if you do decide to go that route, to definitely call a professional.

    TOM: Good advice. Brooke Borel, author of Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World and also a contributing editor of Popular Science Magazine, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice.

    BROOKE: Thanks for having me.

    TOM: And if you’d like more information about Brooke’s work, you can go to her website at BrookeBorel.com. That’s spelled B-r-o-o-k-e-B-o-r-e-l.com or read her blog at PopularScience.com.

    LESLIE: Alright, Brooke. Let’s hope you don’t get bedbug infestation number five.

    Coming up, we’re going to give you five quick and easy projects that will add instant curb appeal to your home.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are just back from the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. We broadcast our show from the show floor last week. But we definitely haven’t left behind our excitement over the new products we found and got to play with ourselves.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it’s kind of like the grownup version of looking through a holiday toy catalog when you were a kid. I mean you look at everything and you want everything. It’s really an exciting event.

    I really was jazzed about the laser distance measurer featuring Bluetooth connectivity, via the Stanley Floor Plan app, because I’m always measuring spaces for clients or TV projects. And then I have all these numbers and things on paper and this really puts it all where you need it.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s pretty cool because you measure and then because you have this app on your phone, it basically draws the floor plan for you, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah, it really does. It makes it so simple. It puts the floor plan in and all of a sudden, you’ve got it all right there. No questions.

    TOM: The Bluetooth technology is really making life easier with applications just like this. With the laser distance measurer, it’s basically letting you measure your home more easily and more importantly, more accurately. If you want more information on the new Stanley Laser Distance Measurer, visit StanleyTools.com.

    Well, we all know that curb appeal is king, especially this time of year when there’s so much daylight and nice weather. But we’ve got a list of five quick and easy makeovers that you can do to give your home instant curb appeal.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Your front door is the main focal point for curb appeal, so you want to make sure it sparkles with welcome. You really want it to feel friendly. So repaint or refinish that surface, polish the hardware and touch-up surrounding trim. You can also update your front door by installing a new handle and lockset.

    TOM: Now, accessorizing is also a good move. You can freshen your home’s first impression with an up-to-date doormat; maybe a stylish, new address plate or new house numbers; and even a brand-new mailbox.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And don’t forget the lighting. You want to illuminate with an easy-to-install path-lighting kit. If porch lighting looks tired, replace those fixtures with modern classics that have the wattage to enhance the safety and highlight your home’s façade.

    TOM: Next, think about landscaping. When you want to boost up your curb appeal, boost up the value of your home, putting in a few hundred dollars in landscaping can have a huge impact. You’re best, though, to always shop for species that are native to your climate zone and that are also drought-resistant. They’re just easier to maintain and they live a lot longer.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what I think? Lastly, it’s important to remember that you want to keep your lawn looking lush, so if you want green throughout the entire summer season, you need to reseed your lawn’s rough patches and then fertilize with a timed-release formula. An irrigation system driven by a digital timer, with a rain sensor, is really going to help you create a water-wise routine and keep that lawn looking fantastic.

    TOM: Good advice.

    888-666-3974. If you’ve got a question about your home improvement project to do, give us a call. We’re happy to help, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Pat in South Dakota is on the line with a painting project. How can we help you?

    PAT: Can you repaint vinyl siding?

    TOM: Yes. You can repaint vinyl – well, you’d be painting it initially, not even repainting it. But I will tell you this: once you paint, you do have to repaint. So, you’re not going to have the maintenance-free service that you had once before. You will have to repaint it.

    Now, that said, if you’re going to do the repainting or you’re going to paint it, you want to make sure that you use a product that’s designed specifically for vinyl siding. And I would only use a product from a top brand like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams. They both have their own line of vinyl-siding paint. So choose your paint carefully, make sure it’s good-quality paint and keep in mind that eventually you’re going to have to repaint it.

    PAT: OK. That was what I wondering. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Coming up, we’re going to tell you the one thing that you should do after you buy a house. But I’m talking about before you move anything in. We’ll tell you what that is, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by QUIKRETE. It’s what America is made of. For project help from start to finish, download the new QUIKRETE mobile app.

    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: Heading over to our Community section at MoneyPit.com to take a question from Laurie.

    LESLIE: Alright. And Laurie writes: “What’s the best do-it-yourself way to remove an iron railing from cement and reinstall it? If I cut the rail, I’ll need to patch it and use brackets to reinstall it. If I drill out next to that post in the cement and reinstall the railing, I’m going to need new cement.”

    TOM: Yeah. Well, basically, you have two options. But neither, unfortunately, is very do-it-yourself friendly. They both require some skill and expertise to get it done and to do it well so it doesn’t come out again. So, what I would suggest as the best way to remove and replace the railing is to do so in pretty much the same way it was initially installed.

    Now, generally, railings are not welded in place. So if the post is set in concrete, what you can do is drill that out with a masonry drill, basically around the post to clear out some of the setting material. This is going to loosen the rail and you should be able to pull that post out. But then, of course, the masonry needs to be repaired by a pro. And if that’s not possible, then you may need to cut the railing itself. It could be cut strategically and rewelded but again, that is a job for a pro. So, try to figure out the way it was put together and take it apart in the exact same way.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, Jim in Chicago writes: “Hi, Tom and Leslie. What kind of floor-wax sealer should I use on the new stick-on, vinyl floor tiles I laid down recently?”

    TOM: You know, most vinyl floors don’t actually need to be waxed. Since yours is new, I would definitely follow the maintenance instructions that are set up by the manufacturer. I mean it’s too difficult to determine what product will work well. And the wrong product can actually remove the vinyl shine and make your floor look a bit cloudy. I’ve put down the wrong products before and it just doesn’t look great and you end up having to kind of scrub it off and start again. So I would definitely look to the manufacturer for direction on that, especially because it’s a brand-new floor.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, Jim? You might want to also follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to keep that floor clean. Because, sometimes, certain cleansers might make it look a little cloudy. So just pay attention to what they recommend because, obviously, it’s their flooring and they know.

    TOM: Well, after months of perhaps dreaming about your brand-new home, it’s finally yours and you want nothing more than to move your things inside. But before the movers show up, consider these reasons to start with a few coats of paint instead.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I get it. You’ve had months of dreaming about your new home. It’s finally yours and you want nothing more than to move your things inside and get in there, unless you’re my neighbor who’s been sitting on that house for two years. It’s driving me nuts. Are they ever moving in?

    But seriously, guys, before you schedule those movers, consider these reasons to start with a few coats of paint instead.

    Now, the simplest reason: interior painting, guys, is a lot simpler when you can move freely in an empty space. Painting first, it’s also going to save you time. Your painting project will take a lot longer if you have to move furniture and cover them and uncover them and remove and rehang artwork.

    It’s also going to save a lot of money. If you’re working with a professional painting contractor, they’re going to finish much faster in an empty space and that can help you keep a lot of those dollars in your pocket.

    Now, painting first also simplifies your interior decorating. If you’re designing a space from scratch, starting with a fresh coat of paint, a new color scheme, it’s really going to help you drive all of those other decisions so you get that designer-perfect look that you’re dreaming of.

    And finally, fresh paint looks good. There’s nothing like a new coat of paint to make your home seem cleaner, fresher, more welcoming, more yours. So, make sure you use a top-quality, 100-percent acrylic latex paint and you’re going to get a stain-resistant finish that’s going to look new for years to come.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, we’re going to talk air conditioning. It’s less expensive and more efficient than ever before. We’ll teach you why now might be the best time to upgrade your A/C, 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.

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (Copyright 2015 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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