Home Safety for Kids, Handy Tool for Electrical Repairs and Preventing Injuries in the Yard
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: What are you working on on this beautiful summer weekend? If it’s your house, you’re in exactly the right place because we’re here to help. Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s program, we’re going to talk about kid safety when it comes to home-related emergencies. You know, just because kids might be old enough to stay home alone, they may not be able to handle a home-related emergency. We’ll have tips for kids, just ahead.
LESLIE: Plus, there are a few handy tools that you may want to have on hand as a homeowner that help you with simple electric fix-ups. We’ll tell you what you need to know.
TOM: Plus, over a quarter of a million injuries happen every year due to a task millions of us do every weekend about now: yard work. We’ve got some tips to keep you safe.
LESLIE: Plus, if you give us a call today with your home improvement question, you might also win a $50 prize pack that will help make your outdoor living much more comfortable. We’re giving away a supply of the new Terminix AllClear Mosquito Bait & Kill. This is the only control product that mosquitoes actually eat. And in just two to three weeks, those populations are cut by more than 90 percent.
TOM: Better yet, it’s 100-percent non-toxic and safe for people. You’ll get two twin packs, plus a $25 gift card to The Home Depot. Give us a call, right now, with your question for your chance to win. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Marge in New Jersey is on the line with a kitchen question. How can we help you today?
MARGE: I have a carousel in the kitchen for the kitchen cabinets. And the shelf – the top one is dropped a lot. And I can’t figure out how to go about to secure it or – how in the world do you repair something like that?
TOM: So is this sort of like what we would call a Lazy Susan? Like sits inside of a cabinet and spins around?
MARGE: Yes. And holds the pots and pans.
TOM: They take a lot of wear and tear don’t they, Marge, I mean over all those years?
MARGE: Sure. And does it have to be replaced or can it be repaired?
TOM: Well, it depends. The first thing you do is clean that cabinet out and take the existing carousel apart.
Now, if the mechanism itself – like the ball bearings have fallen apart – there’s a bracket between the carousel and the bottom of the cabinet that has two plates on them and they spin on ball bearings. If that access has broken down – which it could over many years – that has to be replaced. And the thing is that those parts are all available, especially for those old cabinets. You can usually find them online if you research them. And essentially, what has to happen here is you’ve got to take that whole thing apart and then rebuild it.
Now, this might be a job for a carpenter or a cabinet maker or somebody that’s just handy enough to be able to tackle this. But I find – and I look at something like this, that cabinetry will speak to me. It will tell me how it went in and what has to be done to take it apart. If you look at it very carefully, you can usually figure it out because somebody put it in to begin with and there’s got to be a way to disassemble it. Does that make sense?
MARGE: Yes, that does. Now, since there are two levels -one on the bottom and one on the top – the ball bearings would be in the bottom level? So that if I start unscrewing everything, where would I find them? Does it make a difference if it’s a two-shelver? There’s one shelf way on the bottom, then there’s this space and then you have another shelf.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Right. I don’t think it makes a difference because I think it’s all part of the same assembly. And the ball bearings are going to be on the bottom, not the top. The top, it may have an access point, like an axle. But the spin is going to be under where all the weight is, OK? So that’s the side of it.
Does this carousel still move or is it too stiff?
MARGE: No, it still moves.
TOM: It still moves. What part of it is broken, Marge?
MARGE: The actual shelf itself. The top shelf appears to have dropped about 8 inches.
TOM: Alright. So here’s what I would do. If it was just the top shelf that dropped, I would look for a way to repair that top shelf. And I can’t tell you exactly how to do it but probably figure out a creative way. If that’s dropped down – if it’s sitting like on a center column, then you have to get something up underneath that to support it.
MARGE: OK. Alright. So that’s what I’ll do.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: J.R. in Texas is on the line with a question about bees. It was a dream. That’s all I’m saying.
TOM: Hey, J.R. How can we help you?
J.R.: I went to my water meter and in the water meter there’s a nest of bumblebees and – or honeybees, sorry about that. And I’m looking to see what’s the correct way to maybe remove them – to relocate them – somewhere before their nest gets destroyed.
TOM: Boy, I’ll tell you what, I’ve got to say that I’ve seen them in trees and I know that beekeepers with the proper equipment and the proper procedure can move them. But if it’s attached to something very structural or mechanical like a water meter, that makes it a lot more difficult. Because you can’t clip the water meter off your house with the bees attached to it and carry it to a new location.
So I’m going to have to punt on this and tell you to get some advice from a local bee expert and see if they can figure out a creative way to move that hive safely, because it is attached to the water meter. And I guess it’s really going to probably come down to how much inconvenience you’re going to want to go through. Because I don’t even know if it’s possible to get that water meter off your house. You’d have to shut the water off from the street.
I applaud that you want to try to preserve these bees but this is a very difficult spot for you to have to extract them from.
J.R.: [Save your time.] (ph) That is pretty much my question on that.
TOM: Well, good luck with that project. 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. What are you working on this almost end-of-July weekend? Gosh, summer is flying. Is there something that you need to get done before Labor Day is here? That’s right. I said, “Labor Day.” It’s going to be here before you know it, guys. So let’s get your money pit in tip-top shape before it’s fall, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up, can your kids handle a home-related emergency like a broken pipe or a tripped electrical breaker? We’ll have tips to help, 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.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Plus, this hour we’re giving away a supply of Terminix AllClear Mosquito Bait & Kill.
It works in three simple steps. First, it baits the mosquitoes with a sugar attractant that kind of is a formula that mimics mosquitoes’ natural plant sugar. And it makes the bait really irresistible so they can’t help but feed on it. Then it gets them with a safe, ingestible toxin. Seems kind of odd to say “safe” and “toxin” in the same sentence. But if you’re a mosquito, it’s toxic to you but safe to humans.
Basically, the sugar bait is infused with a lethal dose of micro-encapsulated garlic oil. So that’s going to take care of the mosquitoes and guess what? It collapses the populations in two to three weeks. After feeding those mosquitoes, they begin to die off in 24 to 48 hours. And in 2 to 3 weeks, those populations are down by more than 90 percent. So a really great, 100-percent non-toxic and safe way for people, pets and the environment to get rid of mosquitoes.
You’ll get a supply of the Terminix AllClear Mosquito Bait & Kill, plus a $25 gift card for your home improvement projects around that backyard. You can learn more at BaitAndKill.com or give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Anna in Illinois is on the line with a question about a porch. How can we help you today?
ANNA: Well, I have this problem. This porch is closed in even on the north side. But the north side of it is not finished. And recently, I have had this moldy, musty smell in it.
Now, yesterday it was nice. I opened the windows and you couldn’t smell it or when I had the dehumidifier on. But if I have neither, I can smell that musty smell. And my question is this. I’ve taken off the old insulation that was in there. And do I need to do anything to the porch, to the wood before I put the new insulation in it? And would that help?
TOM: OK. So first of all, this is a porch, so it’s not a heated space. Is that correct?
TOM: Why are you insulating it if it’s not a heated space?
ANNA: I just thought maybe that would help the moisture or this damp-y smell.
TOM: No, not at all. In fact, it will make it worse. You want to – you basically want to let this dry out as easily as possible. Look, anything that’s outside, Anna, is always going to be damp, just because of the nature of it. But I don’t think you want to close this in, add insulation or anything like that. That’s just going to hold moisture and it has absolutely zero benefit as insulation, because you’re not trying to keep the heat on one side and the cold on the other.
So I would definitely pull that insulation out, Anna. And I would air out those spaces. And what I would also do is I would spray those walls with a good-quality cleaner, like Spray & Forget. That will take care of mold, mildew, algae, even dirt that forms on those walls and take that out of the equation, as well. So, pull the insulation out, spray them down and then let them air out and I think that will solve it.
Anna, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, at some point, every parent faces the decision of determining whether or not a child is able to stay home alone. And as a parent of three, I know that every kid is different. And it’s important to make sure that not only they’re not going to hurt themselves but that they can handle things that could go wrong in the house.
LESLIE: Yeah. Good point, Tom. For example, would your child know how to find and then shut off the water main in case of a major leak?
TOM: Hey. Would you know how to find and shut off the water valve in case of a major leak, right?
LESLIE: Right. I’m like, “I do.”
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you where it’s located. It’s pretty consistent. It’s usually going to be – if you have a basement or a crawlspace, it’s going to be between the house and the street. So that wall – on that wall that’s closest to the street, that’s where you’ll find that valve.
Now, if you don’t have a basement or crawlspace, it’s probably going to be in a bathroom or utility area closest to the front of the house, because they want to shorten the distance between the main water pipe and the house. So that valve is going to be in that general area. Find the valve now, put a tag on it that says “main water valve” and then tell your kids where it is and how to use it and when to use it.
LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. Not just any time of the day when they feel like turning it off.
TOM: Now, here’s another one: can your child safely operate a fire extinguisher?
LESLIE: You know, I don’t know if I could safely operate a fire extinguisher. I’ve never had to use one. But guys, if you have a fire extinguisher in your house – and you should have more than one. If you’ve got a fireplace, keep one near the fireplace and definitely have one in the kitchen. And if you have a workspace in your garage, keep one in your garage, as well.
And you should get one that’s rated for ABC, which covers all different kinds of fires. And on the label, on the fire extinguisher, are instructions on how to use it. And just read it over with your kids so A) they know where it is and B) they know how to use it and C) just because I said, “Get an ABC-rated fire extinguisher.” Don’t practice because then they go bad.
TOM: That’s right. And basically, you just pull the safety pin, aim it at the base of the flame and fire away.
LESLIE: Right. That’s a good point, Tom. Another thing is, say your smoke detector goes off. Does your child know what to do in the event that it does go off?
TOM: Yeah. Well, listen, I’d say the most – the smartest thing to do is just to get out of the house. Because I don’t want to send the child walking around the house to try to figure out what’s wrong. If the smoke detectors go off and your kids are home alone, get out of the house and call 911. That’s really the safest thing to do.
Listen, if you know why it went off – because maybe you were cooking, burned the toast or something like that – that’s one thing. But if you hear that thing go off and you don’t know why, get out, call for help. Make sure kids know to do that.
Now here’s one more: what would kids do if the power goes out?
LESLIE: Well, after my children started running around in circles screaming their heads off, I think it would probably be best if they contacted a neighbor or just stay put with a flashlight until the lights come back on. I mean everybody’s got cell phones. I’m assuming if your kids are home alone, they’ve got a cell phone in hand. They should contact their parent immediately. And then maybe have a plan already in place, whether it’s going to a neighbor’s house or just calling their parents until they get home and staying put.
TOM: Yeah. Just having the plan in place helps kids know exactly what to do if these things were to ever happen. They’re all great questions to ask yourself and to teach your children if you feel they’re ready.
Hey, if you’ve got a great question for us about how to take care of your house, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in Rhode Island has a question about solar panels. How can we help you today?
JOHN: Solar panels installed the latter half of March. And I have been noticing a steady increase in production up until about two weeks ago. And I have noticed the production falling off. And of course, the pollen has increased. And I’m wondering if there’s anything on the market that I could treat the panels with.
The panels are located kind of high on the roof. It’s difficult to get to. And just like I said, I’m just wondering if there’s something that I could add to it to have the pollen wash off quicker.
TOM: So it’s pollen and tree droppings, huh?
JOHN: Yeah. Well, actually, the tree’s on the good shade with – but it’s really, basically, the pollen. I love in a wooded area. And like I said, I’ve watched the production with these inverters. You can really carefully monitor what the system is doing. So, although the day is getting longer and the sun is getting higher in the sky, production is off. And the only thing I can relate it to is the pollen.
TOM: John, that’s actually a surprisingly common problem. And the solution is simply to clean those panels.
Now, in your case, that may be easier said than done because you’re telling me they’re difficult to reach. It might also be possible to install sort of a cleaning system that consists of manifolds that are installed right above those solar panels, where you basically can turn on the water and run water over them, occasionally, to clean them out. But of course, that’s a lot of work.
Is it possible for you to get a ladder up against the side of that house there and use a hose or with something – maybe a high-pressure hose to be able to kind of wash the pollen off those panels? Because it’s pretty well documented that solar production goes down, as you’ve discovered, when those pollen – when those panels get covered with dirt or pollen.
JOHN: Right, right. Well, I guess the thing – I’m sure there’s something I could invest in. Clearly a better ladder, a taller ladder. And also, there’s got to be something where I can actually get the hose on a pole – I have a pruning pole – and maybe point it at an angle where it could wash the panels. But again, I thought maybe the solution would be, well, in the spring, get up on the roof, treat the panels and then I should be all set. But maybe it’s just a simple as a hose.
TOM: Yeah. I’m not aware of any treatment there that’s going to basically make them more slippery. I guess there’s – I was thinking in terms of a wax. But Hyde Tools – H-y-d-e – they have a product called PivotPro that attaches to a regular hose and it has an angular nozzle at top. And it’s designed for cleaning gutters and then cleaning boats and getting underneath spaces and things like that. And basically, the head pivots so you can get all sorts of different angles with it. And it also steps up the pressure of water coming out it. Pretty inexpensive tool there. You might want to look that up online and give it a shot.
JOHN: I think I will. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Al in South Dakota on the line who needs some help with mold removal. What can we do for you?
AL: My son has a house that has mold in his basement walls, say, like about 2 feet up from the floor up. And just wondering how to remove that.
TOM: Is it – is this basement finished or unfinished?
TOM: And the mold is on what? Drywall?
AL: No, it’s a poured basement and then there – I think it’s cemented over. It has a coating over it and then on the outside of that, there’s a – there’s mold that appears.
TOM: OK. So it’s coming through the concrete wall?
AL: Yes, correct. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Alright. So then it’s not finished. Does it look like grayish and white?
TOM: Yeah, that’s not mold. That’s most likely efflorescence. Basically, water from the outside soaks into the concrete wall and then that moisture evaporates into the basement and it leaves its mineral salts behind. And you can prove it if you take some white vinegar and splash it on the salt; it’ll just melt away and wash right away. Highly unlikely that what you’re describing is mold.
AL: Oh. So use some white vinegar, you say.
TOM: Yeah. People confuse it with mold all the time but it’s not; it’s a mineral salt.
LESLIE: I guess just because the location, you know?
LESLIE: It seems like that’s what it should be.
AL: Yeah, yeah. Great. Well, I thank you so much. Appreciate your help.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Up next, is your toolbox complete? Well, electrician Scott Caron from This Old House is here with simple tools that you’ll need to handle the most basic electrical fix-ups.
TOM: And today’s This Old House segment on The Money Pit is presented by Proudly Propane. Clean American energy.
JONATHAN: Hey, this is Jonathan Scott, host of HGTV’s Property Brothers. Don’t let your home become a real-life money pit. Listen to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show with Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, would you like to save some money on your cooling bills? Well, be sure to use your home’s programmable thermostat. Not only will it help you manage costs, setting that thermostat to control the operation of your central air conditioner can also reduce excess humidity in the home. So use it. It can help.
LESLIE: Beverly in Ohio is on the line. How can we help you today?
BEVERLY: I have a problem with my white vinyl fence. And I’m trying to see if you have any ideas as to what I can use to clean it. It’s got black marks all over it from a youth that used to mail my – used to mow my grass. And I’ve had it power-cleaned twice. I’ve tried Mr. Clean it. Now I’m at a loss as to what I can do, because it’s an expensive …
TOM: Have you tried to use one of those green Scotch pads on it? That has just a minor amount of abrasion. I’m trying to think what actually could be making these black marks. If it’s something that’s on top of the vinyl, then you should be able to remove it.
The other thing is if it happens to be something that is solvent-based, like tar or rubber or something of that nature, another thing that you could try to do is you could try to spray that with some WD-40. That has a pretty good ability of breaking down those types of substances. Just a little bit, perhaps, on that green scrubby pad. Rub it over that surface and see if that lifts it off. I think the key is to try to figure out what that black mark is and then what’s going to take it off from there. But I would try it in those – in that order. See how you make out, Beverly
BEVERLY: Yeah, yeah. Some of it’s from the road and some of it is from them taking their lawn mower and trying to mow the grass right up against it.
TOM: Well, I mean that would throw dirt and stones of it – against it. But that should be clean. As long as the whatever – as long as this vinyl fence is white all the way through, it’s got to be something that’s on top of it. And that’s why I say you have to find the right cleaner and the right tool to remove that.
Beverly, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, we are big proponents of doing it yourself. But we caution against one area of home improvement that’s best left to the pros and that’s anything electrical.
TOM: Yep. But there are some tools and tricks that you can have up your sleeve that while they’re not a complete arsenal for do-it-yourself electrical work, they will keep you in the know and make sure you have the right diagnostic tools at your disposal. Here to tell us about them is This Old House electrical contractor Scott Caron.
SCOTT: Hey, Tom. Hi, Leslie.
TOM: So we don’t – we’re not encouraging the average homeowner to be taking on electrical projects; it’s kind of just asking for trouble. But there are a few things that you can know and have on hand as a homeowner that will help make that electrical issue easier to resolve, right?
SCOTT: Yeah, certainly, like the cell-phone number of an electrician because you’re going to need to be calling them a lot. But certainly, there is some basic stuff.
TOM: OK. So let’s talk about maybe some of the troubleshooting tools that are out there. This will help sort of narrow down what’s going on.
SCOTT: Well, if you don’t have one of those fancy electrical testers, I think we all have a lamp in our house. And that works really well to see if a circuit’s on or off.
LESLIE: You know, I think a lot of times if a circuit’s off, a lot of people don’t think about a ground-fault circuit interrupter. That’s their job. And people just forget to go check that first.
SCOTT: Yes because when a GFCI – either an outlet or a breaker – trips, it stays in the middle position most of the time. Therefore, you have to shut it off and then turn it back on and that resets it. That’s a very common call that we get.
TOM: And frankly, in some houses, the place that that ground-fault circuit breaker is turned off is actually on the outlet itself. And it might be in an odd location like, say, a back garage wall.
SCOTT: Yeah. Most of the bathrooms have one GFCI outlet that controls that same outlet in the other bathroom or bathrooms. And the same in a garage. If you have one outlet that controls another outlet, you may not see where it is. It might be hidden behind a shelf or something. But we usually put one GFCI outlet at the beginning of a circuit to protect all the other ones after it.
TOM: Now, that’s a good way to diagnose why a circuit might be off. But if a circuit is on and perhaps behaving oddly for some reason, there are some tools – some simple tools – that you can use to diagnose that, starting with a simple circuit tester, right?
SCOTT: Certainly, Tom. And one of the easiest things to do is buy one of those maybe $15 testers that they sell at the home center. Looks like a plug and it goes directly into the plug. And it gives you an idea of what’s going on by illuminating the light. It might tell you that there’s a dropped neutral or a loose ground or something like that.
TOM: Now what about a tone generator? How is that used?
SCOTT: When working with electricity, the power needs to be off. And a tone generator can assist you in determining what’s going on with that circuit. It’s sending a tone or a signal over those wires. And it’ll tell you if something’s loose or something’s not connected or you have a broken wire. Really good tool to use.
TOM: And can it help you figure out what exactly is on that circuit?
SCOTT: That’s another good point. Yeah, absolutely. If you have one or two or three outlets on that circuit, it’ll help tone them out or signal you and tell you which ones are all tied in together.
TOM: That could be good information, especially in an older house where I find that over the years, people have added a lot to their electrical system. So you sort of lose track as to what circuits are covering which rooms or areas of a home.
SCOTT: Yeah. One of the biggest misnomers that we hear a lot – someone will say to me, “Scott, we have an outlet in the bedroom on the first floor. Then it goes to the second floor, comes across and goes to the attic.” When we run wires in homes, we pretty much run them at the path of least resistant. We don’t always think in a room-type of atmosphere where you have to have everything tied in together. So that’s a good point that you bring up.
TOM: Now, a surprisingly easy tool for many homeowners to use, which provides very useful information, is a power monitor, right? Today it’s easier than ever to figure out how much electricity different components of your home are actually using.
SCOTT: I have a power monitor. I didn’t pay a lot of money for it. It was around $100. I have it in my house and I love it. It’s one of the best things that we do. We kind of go around the house, turn lights on and off to see what kind of power is being used. You would really be surprised. I run somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 watts of electricity on an average evening. And just by leaving the lights on in one room really affects that quite a bite. It tells you how much electricity you’re using, tells you how much it’s costing you and it really – it makes you aware of what’s going on in your home.
TOM: It changes your behavior.
SCOTT: It does a lot. Yeah, certainly.
TOM: So let’s talk about some simple, do-it-yourself electrical projects that perhaps beginners might tackle. Any suggestions there?
SCOTT: Well, the biggest thing is changing a light switch. Again, with the power off. If your lights aren’t working and you’re pretty convinced it’s a switch – they don’t last forever – changing that, adding a dimmer maybe at that same time. Changing an outlet. Sometimes, someone was vacuuming and they broke an outlet by pulling the cord out. That’s a pretty good thing. And the basic thing, Tom, that it all starts with is changing a light bulb.
TOM: And making sure the power is always off.
SCOTT: Yes. Please.
TOM: So when do you know the diagnosis is something that you really can’t do on your own or that you should really never attempt as a do-it-yourselfer?
SCOTT: When you’re scratching your head when you’re trying to figure out what is going on. And we get the call a lot where someone will say, “Geez, I got into this light fixture, started taking it down and now half the house doesn’t work.” So, that’s a great time to call an electrician and we usually come in there and spend a little bit of time trying to figure out what the homeowner did. But at the end of it, we get the lights working, hopefully, and they’re happy.
TOM: And that’s the key. Scott Caron, the master electrician on TV’s This Old House, thank you so much for being a part of The Money Pit.
SCOTT: Glad to be here.
TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating. Make comfort personal.
Still to come, is there danger in your backyard? Over a quarter-million injuries happen each year. Learn how to stay safe, 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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a supply of Terminix AllClear Mosquito Bait & Kill.
Now, the Bait & Kill works in three simple steps. First of all, it’s going to bait the mosquitoes with a specialized sugar bait. And that’s a really great formula. It kind of mimics the mosquitoes’ natural plant sugar. And then they really like it and they cannot stay away from it. And they’re just going to want to eat it all up.
Then it’s going to go ahead and – sad to say but happy to say – it’s going to kill those mosquitoes because it has a safe and ingestible toxin. It’s ingestible to the mosquitoes, not to you. And that sugar bait is infused with a lethal dose of micro-encapsulated garlic oil, which the mosquitoes – it’s just super toxic for. But it’s completely safe for people and pets and the environment.
And then lastly, it’s going to collapse the mosquito populations in two to three weeks. So after they feed on the sugar bait, those mosquitoes are going to begin to die within 24 to 48 hours. And in two to three weeks, you’re going to see that population decrease by more than 90 percent.
I mean this really is a great thing. Everybody’s concerned about Zika virus. Plus, mosquitoes are just plain annoying. So it’s a great prize for the summer season.
TOM: Good advice. You can learn more at BaitAndKill.com. Or give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, working in your yard provides a great opportunity to combine exercise and the pursuit of outdoor beauty. But it can also lead to injury if you’re not dressed for the job.
LESLIE: That’s right. You want to start with gloves. Now, sturdy work gloves are going to give you a better grip and then shield your hands from any painful blisters. And you guys know you’re out there working, you’re going to end up with blisters.
Now, if you’re going to be taking a stroll behind a lawn mower, you have to wear work boots, long pants, gloves, eye and ear protection. Not just shorts and flip-flops with a can of beer in your hands, guys. I know that seems fun but you’ve got to protect yourselves. Because even if you’re working, say, with a string trimmer or an edger, a quick pass with those types of tools will require eye protection, ear protection because everything can just come flying up at you. And that noise can hurt your hearing. And if you get anything in your eye, guys, you can permanently damage your eye.
TOM: Now, if you’re taking on a chore that involves pesticides or other chemicals, you want to wear long pants, long sleeves and rubber gloves to protect your skin. And add a breathing apparatus, as well as safety glasses to protect your lungs and your eyes.
LESLIE: Now, after you’ve suited up and before you get started, take one more prep step, guys: do a little stretching. Just a little bit, even. It’s going to minimize your muscle soreness that can result from those hours and hours of your outdoor yard work. And really, I know it sounds silly but you’ve got to stretch. You don’t want to hurt yourself.
TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement or décor question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jason in Iowa is dealing with some asbestos removal, a topic I’m very familiar with these days.
Jason, what’s going on at your money pit?
JASON: Well, we bought a house. And in the basement, the ductwork has crumbling asbestos tape around all the seams. And I didn’t know it was asbestos at first. A gentleman – a friend of mine kind of told me that it was, which was good to know because I would have just started tearing it off there.
But I know that it can be dangerous. And I’ve been told to put on a good HEPA-filter mask and wet the filters and such and you can take it off and wear gloves and be careful. But is that really the case? Do I have to legally hire a professional to come in and remove something like that?
TOM: It’s definitely the smart thing to do, Jason. Because the problem with asbestos is it’s very, very fine. It’s finer than smoke. If you were to release asbestos particles and assuming there was no wind, it would take eight hours for them to hit the floor; that’s how fine they are.
So what you are seeing is only part of the problem. What you’re physically seeing, those chunks, is only part of it. This is a situation where you really can’t do it yourself.
LESLIE: Yeah. And the other part of the equation is the disposal. It’s like you can’t just take it and put it in a trash bag and stick it outside.
LESLIE: I’m in the process of having asbestos shingles removed from my home, on the exterior. And they have to be not only properly taken down and packed up in a certain manner but they have to be completely driven off to another state and certified that they’ve been disposed of in a proper manner. Now, I’m sure with just the tape wrapping the piping, that’s not going to be the extreme case there but you do have to make sure that it’s disposed of properly. You don’t want to get in any trouble.
TOM: And by the way, Jason, you know, you can’t visually identify asbestos. So the very first thing you should do is to have some – a sample of the material tested to confirm that it is, in fact, asbestos.
JASON: And who would do that?
TOM: An asbestos lab.
Leslie, you just had asbestos testing done. Who did you use for that? Was it a local lab?
LESLIE: It was a local company that also does the removal. But there are several companies. I would just look locally at asbestos removal. And it was fairly simple and the test took about two days. And it gives you a percentage of asbestos found in the item and it’s interesting.
JASON: Well, thanks so much for your time and hopefully it won’t be too costly that I have to call it a “money pit.”
TOM: OK, Jason. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, the kids are spending a lot of time at the playground this summer but is that playground safe? We’re going to have some tips on some important areas that you should check, after this.
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: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question online at MoneyPit.com.
So, Leslie, with the kids spending so much time outside, it’s a good time to think about whether or not your backyard playground is safe. Because so many of us have playgrounds on grass, for example, which is actually too hard to be safe for kids. So if you’ve got a swing set or a jungle gym in your backyard, you want to have about 9 inches of wood chips or mulch on that surface so that if kids fly off and land, they’ve got something soft under their bodies so they don’t get hurt. Keep that in mind and keep kids safe this summer.
LESLIE: You say “fly off and land” like it’s an accident. You know that kids are throwing themselves off of it. I mean at least that’s what mine do.
TOM: Exactly, exactly.
LESLIE: They’re like, “Watch. I’m going to jump from all the way up here.” I’m like, “Please don’t.”
Alright. Well, don’t jump into your work. Let’s jump into our e-mail bag. And I’ve got a post here from Jack in Mississippi who writes – Jack says, “I recently redid my kitchen. I have a new stove. I seem to have more of a greasy film on everything after I cook. Is this a ventilation problem or would installing a better fan help?”
TOM: I wonder if Jack replaced the fan when he replaced the stove. It could be that this particular new stove delivers more BTUs. Perhaps he’s generating more off-gassing from that cooking than he did before.
But certainly, if you’ve not installed a new fan, that’s the first place I would start. And, Jack, I would make sure that I used a fan that exhausted outside, if at all possible. You know, there are fans that just simple recirculate. But what you really need is one that exhausts outside.
And know that there is a wide variety of the quality of those fans out there. You want to look for one that’s got a pretty high CFM rating. And you can use that number to compare. It’s the cubic foot per minute of ventilation. It’s going to basically tell you how powerful that fan is. And I’ve seen some good ones and I’ve seen some pretty bad ones. But you really want to take a look at that to determine if you’re getting enough power of that vent fan to pull all that steam and grease and smoke out of the house.
LESLIE: And I think, Jack, you’re also super excited with your new kitchen and you’re probably cooking a lot more.
TOM: That’s probably right.
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got a post from Drew who writes: “After a couple of months of heavy grilling, my gas grill needs an extreme makeover of its own. Do you have any tips for a mid-season grill cleaning?”
TOM: Yeah. Basically, you’re going to do the same thing that you might do in the beginning of the season. That same charbroiling grill action that flavors our ribs and our chickens and our steaks, all that can really cause problems if you don’t do a thorough grill cleaning once in a while.
So here’s what you need to do. First, I would soak the grids in hot, soapy water and clean them with a nylon scrubbing pad. Now, if the grids are really crusted up, use an oven cleaner and be sure to do that in a well-ventilated area and then rinse them clean.
Next, you want to pull outthe lava rock or the ceramic briquettes and clean them with a wire brush. And make sure you replace any that are deteriorated, because sometimes they completely fall apart. And remove the burner. Brush it clean, check for cracks, splits, rust-outs or holes. If they’re found, that burner needs to be replaced.
And lastly, you want to check those rubber gas hoses for cracks and replace any that show the slightest sign of wear. One of the things you can do is mix up a 50/50 solution of liquid dishwashing soap and water. Brush that solution on all those gas connections. And then you can watch for bubbles. If the bubbles are seen, that means the connection is leaking and it needs to be fixed before you continue with your grilling adventures.
So, those are the steps, really, to keep that clean and re-clean it if it’s gotten dirty. Do it now and then do it once more at the end of the season and you’ll have a fresh, clean grill to start the following summer.
LESLIE: And you know what, Drew? Invest in a cover. I know it doesn’t really do much for the interior of your grill but it does a great job of keeping any sort of leaves and dirt and debris from kind of getting into the grill when you’re not using it. They’re not super expensive. You can find them all over. And it does help a lot.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. Hey, we hope we’ve given you some great tips and advice on how to improve your money pit. If you’ve got questions, you can reach us, 24/7, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or always online at MoneyPit.com.
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.
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