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How to Find a Bed Bug Exterminator, Sod or Seed Your Lawn, Add Privacy and Energy Efficiency with Add On Door Blinds and More …

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And it’s Earth Week, everybody. How about that?

    LESLIE: Happy Earth Week.

    TOM: Happy Earth Week. Did you send me a card?

    LESLIE: Of course I did, on recycled paper that you can actually plant in the ground and it will grow flowers. How green is that?

    TOM: Perfect. Perfect. Well, I sent you an Earth Week e-mail, because I didn’t want to kill any trees.

    LESLIE: Oh, I won’t print it. Oh, print it.

    TOM: But it is definitely a time to celebrate our planet and all of our wonderful natural resources. And I am all for being kind to the planet, except I do make exceptions in some cases. And we’re going to talk about one of those exceptions and I bet you will share it with me this hour, because we’re going to talk about bed bugs.

    LESLIE: Ugh. You know that conversation gives me the willies in every way, shape and form.

    TOM: Oh, absolutely. But they are part of nature but they’re not the kind of nature that we want to have inside our house. They’re becoming a bigger problem all across the country and there are even exterminators that are having a hard time getting rid of these.

    We, however, have uncovered the secret to hiring an extermination company that can do it correctly. We’re going to tell you exactly what to look for so that you can hire the right guys to get it done for you, once and for all, because you want to kick those guys right out of your bed and every other place in your house.

    LESLIE: Ugh. I can’t even talk about it without getting the heebie-jeebies.

    Also ahead this hour, spring planting season, it is well underway. So if last summer’s lawn wasn’t quite up to par for you – you know, maybe it had some brown or some bald spots – it might be time to start from scratch. We’re going to tell you when to go with sod and when you need to reseed your entire lawn, a little later.

    TOM: And here’s a fun summer project: installing blinds. It’s a pretty simple job when you’re doing it on a window but if you need to add blinds for a door, that is not so easy, especially due to the fact that the door is moving: it’s opening, it’s closing, it’s shaking, it’s rattling, it’s rolling.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Bang, bang, bang.

    TOM: Yeah and it’s banging those blinds and half the time, they fall right off. However, there is a solution. It’s new on the market; it’s a cool product that actually encloses blinds against the door. And we’re going to tell you all about that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a prize pack of Citrus Magic and Trewax products, including …

    TOM: Love that stuff.

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s so great. I’m such a Citrus Magic cleaner; I love that 100-percent pure and natural cleanser. I use it on everything in the house.

    So we’ve got a ton of stuff up for grabs. It’s going to keep your home clean and fresh and it’s worth 100 bucks.

    TOM: So let’s get it to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Jackie in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JACKIE: Hi. I have a house that I’m renting and my landlord is not really willing to do anything to help us out, fix it up. It’s a 1920s/30s cinderblock but the bathroom has just got concrete in it and it looks like they’ve painted it. And also, the shower is concrete and like I said, it’s like a cinderblock and they painted it and the paint’s chipping off. And it’s not really cleanable; it’s really difficult. I just basically use vinegar and pour it on there; that’s all I can do.

    And I was wondering if there’s an inexpensive way of kind of putting something over it. Like I said, it’s in the shower, too, (inaudible at 0:03:29).

    TOM: So the key here is to find an improvement that’s not too expensive, because you don’t own the house.

    And Leslie, I’m thinking about epoxy paint.

    LESLIE: Yeah. That could be a good trick. The only issue is how …

    TOM: Got to get the old stuff off.

    LESLIE: Well, you’ve got to get the old stuff off and also, you’ve got to make sure that it’s really dry before you apply the new. But that works really well. And the stickiness of it – or would you say the viscosity of it – is strong enough where it will stick to the walls and adhere very, very well but you do have to do some work to get the original finish off or at least enough of it off so that you’ll have an area for adhesion to occur.

    TOM: Typically, epoxy paints are used on horizontal surfaces like …

    LESLIE: Like garage floors.

    TOM: Yeah, like garage floors. But there’s no reason I think that you can’t use it vertically in a situation like this. And in fact, you could even use some of the color chips that come with it, to give it a little bit of texture. It will look better than just the plain concrete that you’re dealing with right now.

    JACKIE: Well, what about it being wet and the mold issue and all that, with that?

    TOM: Not an issue. See, the key here is to get it really dry and get the old paint off. You’ll get good adherence because this is a chemical reaction that causes the drying to occur here. It’s a two-part epoxy, so there’s a chemical hardener that goes in there. And I think that if you get good adhesion by getting the old paint off, you’re not going to have a problem with water or mold, because it’ll be easily cleanable.

    JACKIE: Great. Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

    TOM: You’re very welcome, Jackie. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tony in New York is calling in with a plumbing question. What can we do for you?

    TONY: Hi. My girlfriend and I just recently purchased a vacation home in Florida and I was wondering if – we were interested in getting a garbage disposal installed.

    TOM: OK.

    TONY: And I was wondering if that would be a project I could do on my own or would I have to hire – would you recommend me hiring a contractor or a plumber? And if I had to hire somebody, would it be a contractor or would it be a plumber to do that job? I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to install such a thing.

    TOM: Well, have you done any plumbing or electrical work, Tony?

    TONY: Really light stuff, nothing …

    TOM: Because it involves both. I assume that this never had a disposer before?

    TONY: No, it’s brand new construction.

    TOM: Yeah. And it’s not wired for one, so there’s no outlet under the sink cabinet?

    TONY: Yeah, not that I’m aware of. I’d have to check.

    TOM: Yeah. You’ve got to – it’s a bit of a project. I mean you could do it yourself but it’s a bit of a project. Here’s what’s involved.

    First of all, you’ve got to get power down there. So that involves running a circuit or extending a circuit that you have so that you have an outlet down there, because most disposers today are not hardwired. They have a plug and they have to be plugged in, so you actually have to install a receptacle.

    Secondly, the plumbing itself, not terribly complicated since all the pipes are plastic but it’s a bit of a puzzle and it’s a difficult space to work in. So it’s – you may find that the time and the frustration factor would make it a lot easier for you to hire a plumber to do this. And depending on the requirements of the area that you’re in, sometimes the plumbers will bring in electricians to do this work; sometimes they’ll do it themselves. I’d make sure that, in any case, you had a permit to get it done so that you can be assured it’s done correctly.

    But because it’s a small space, because it involves both plumbing and electrical work, it may be best to have this one hired out.

    TONY: OK, sounds good. Terrific.

    TOM: Alright? You can get more sunshine time that way.

    TONY: Yeah. Terrific. Thanks for the information. I greatly appreciate it.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Tony. Good luck with that new house. 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. We hope that you are enjoying your holiday weekend and if you’ve got some home improvements on your holiday to-do list, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Coming up, strong summer sun can make a room pretty darn hot, especially when it’s pouring through your sliding-glass door or maybe even your patio door. We’ve got a great solution and we’ll share that with you, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we would love for you to be part of The Money Pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, everybody who calls in, you’re all going to get help with your home improvement projects. But one of you lucky caller-inners is going to win a great prize. And this hour, we’ve got $100 worth of Citrus Magic and Trewax products, including the Citrus Magic Natural Odor-Absorbing Solid Air Freshener, which I love the laundry-scented one. And the all-natural formula even removes the toughest of odors. I swear to you, the nursery – not that my son is a baby anymore; he’s two-and-a-half. But still, I keep one in there and that room smells fantastic.

    It’s also available in a variety of fragrances. If you don’t like the Crisp Linen, which I love, you can choose Fresh Citrus or even Island Spring. And you’ll also get several other Citrus Magic and Trewax products to keep your home fresh and clean.

    The prize, again, is worth 100 bucks, so give us call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, if you’re lucky enough to have a front, back or patio door with glass, you know that it is great for watching the kids play outside and letting in lots of light. But the summer sun can get a bit too strong and when that happens, we really need a good way to turn it down just a bit.

    Now, blinds are a good option for windows but when it comes to doors, traditional blinds can definitely get in the way, especially when you open and close that door all the time. And we often talk about the fact that those cords hanging from blinds can definitely be a hazard for children or even for pets. But there is a solution and it is out on the market now from a company called ODL.

    They actually sent me one of these some time ago, Leslie, and I’ve had it on my front door now for quite a while and it works really well. It’s called an add-on blind and basically, the add-on blinds are enclosed behind tempered glass, so there’s no dusting, there’s no exposed cords, there’s no swinging, no banging blinds. And it works really, really well and I was amazed with how easy it was to install.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And I know you’ve been super-happy since you’ve had it on the house. And I think the coolest part is how easy it is to sort of – just with your fingertip – raise and lower the blinds. There’s one simple switch that does the trick for that.

    And you can even tilt them for a full view or if you want complete privacy or anything in between. It functions just like a regular blind and it’s super-easy to install and it actually increases your door’s energy-efficiency, which is a plus.

    Now, the frames on these blinds, they can be painted or stained so you don’t have to worry about trying to find something that matches your existing door, because you can make it match. And they’re available in most popular half and full door-glass sizes, so you’ll find something that’s going to fit your door’s needs.

    Check out the product at ODL.com. It’s a great product; it’s their Add-On Shade for doors. And check it out today.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. We are here to shed some light on the solution to your home improvement question, so why not give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT?

    LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got Sharon on the line who is dealing with a grouting issue. What’s going on there?

    SHARON: Well, I have grout in my kitchen, around tiles. They’re about 5-inch tiles or so and …

    LESLIE: Are they counter tiles or backsplash?

    SHARON: Both.


    SHARON: Countertop and backsplash. And the problem, Leslie, is just the flat countertop.

    TOM: OK.

    SHARON: Since it’s so old, I don’t know if it will seal correctly. It’s kind of stained and dirty and I was wondering the best way to clean it out. Would you have to chip it all out or can you clean it with something and then regrout it and reseal it? What can I do?

    TOM: Yeah. Well, yes and yes. So, you can try cleaning it and what you might want to try is a grout stripper, not a grout cleaner. It’s a little more aggressive in terms of its ability to pull out stains. However, if that doesn’t work to your satisfaction, you can get a grout knife and – or a grout saw, I should say – and cut out the grout that’s there and then simply put in some new grout, which is a very easy home improvement project to do.

    SHARON: OK. And then, how do you go about – once you put the grout in, how do you go about sealing it?

    LESLIE: Well, you want to let it dry – cure – really well and before it actually cures, you want to clean the tile surface very well. You want to sponge away any of that clouding that you see from the grout because once that sets, you’ll never get it off of the tile. So really do a good job of cleaning off your tile. Let that grout properly cure and then you need to get a grout sealer and apply it.

    And the best way is they sell these little applicators. They look almost like small squeezy bottles and they have a little, foam roller-top or a little nail-polish brush. And that helps you just apply it right to the grout. And then put that sealer on and that’ll really do a good job of helping you keep that grout looking clean for a while.

    SHARON: OK. So do you have any suggestions on how to keep it looking good? I mean is the sealer going to keep all of that nasty stuff out or do you just kind of scrub it a little gently after you’ve sealed it, once it’s sealed?

    TOM: Well, there’s two kinds of grout: there’s sand grout and epoxy grout. And if you use the epoxy grout, it’s a lot harder to install but it does stay stain-free a lot longer. So that’s another option for you, too.

    SHARON: OK, OK. Very good. And I like your zippy hold music. It makes you want to do aerobics.

    TOM: Alright. Well, we hope it’s a tune for you to work by.

    SHARON: Yes, wonderful.

    TOM: Alright.

    SHARON: Thank you so much for your help and have a wonderful day.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks again for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ed in Indiana on the line who has got a water-heating question. How can we help you with that project?

    ED: Hi. Thanks for having me on. Well, what I’m looking at right now is I’m trying to make my home more energy-efficient. And I’m looking at the – GE came out with a GeoSpring hybrid hot-water heater, which basically runs like a hot – like a heat pump.

    TOM: It’s a heat-pump water heater, yes. Mm-hmm.

    ED: Right. And if you figure the dollars that it costs – it’s about $1,600 – and the savings per year could be up to about $320. They’re saying about 62 percent more energy-efficient. Looks like about a five-year payback. But this is a new product on – out on the market and I’d just kind of like to have your thoughts on it.

    TOM: So the technology has been out for probably about two years now. We’re starting to see the heat-pump water heaters be released by multiple manufacturers, including GE. GE makes a great appliance. The other thing to figure into this is that there is a tax credit that’s available. Now, it’s not as big as it was last year but it’s still decent; it’s a $300 federal tax credit if you buy and install it in 2011.

    So, the technology is solid and this is for folks, though, that right now have electric water heaters. So you’re not comparing this against gas. You had electric originally? Is that correct?

    ED: Oh, yeah. I’m totally electric.

    TOM: OK. So, you’re totally electric, you’re basically heating your water the most expensive way possible and now you want to try to save some money. With a heat-pump water heater, definitely the way to go with that.

    ED: Yeah. It looks like about a five-year payback period if it is true. You’ll save about 320 a year, so …

    TOM: Right. And you’ve got to use them correctly. They’re very sophisticated, though, with their control systems.

    ED: Yeah, absolutely. And I know water – heating your water is probably the most costly thing that you can do in your home but we’ll have to have a …

    TOM: Yeah. It certainly can be expensive but these water heaters are very, very good at what they do. They employ basically two technologies: they have the heat pump, which does most of the water heating most of the time but under periods of high demand, they still have the electric-resistance heat built into it. So you’re not going to run out of water because you’re heating it with a heat pump.

    ED: Alright. Well, thanks so much. I appreciate that.

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

    LESLIE: You know, GE is so savvy. When we were at the builders’ show, Tom, I don’t know if you remember this but at their booth, they were presenting this very new technology that sort of allows all of the appliances in the home to speak to one another and then to speak to the power company, as well, to give you the tools that you might need to decide – “Alright, if I do my laundry right now, it’s going to cost …”

    TOM: Yeah. Smart metering. A smart meter.

    LESLIE: It’s really fantastic. So, they’re hopefully – you can monitor your entire home and really make smart choices to use your energy appropriately, efficiently and affordably.

    TOM: Absolutely. And like I said, the technology is solid, so I wouldn’t be concerned about it. And it’s going to be a heck of a lot less expensive way to heat your water.

    LESLIE: Kelly in Washington is on the line with a wall-texture question. What’s up? You like it or you don’t like it?

    KELLY: I don’t like it on the interior walls. And it’s only on some of the walls, so I’d like to just get it off.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Are you sure it’s on drywall and it’s not a plaster finish on a plaster wall?

    KELLY: It’s on – oh, I’m not sure. I’m not really a home builder/expert at all, by any means. It’s just looks like a normal wall to me. It’s built in the 80s and it has a texture and it’s interior wall. So what do you think?

    TOM: Well, if it’s a wall surface, it’s probably a little more durable than what we would see on a ceiling. A ceiling is definitely a softer – and sometimes if you just dampen it, you can scrape it off.

    Now, for a wall, not so much. So your solution here is to probably sand it off. So I would start with a very fine sandpaper: maybe like around 150 or 200-grit sandpaper. And see if it takes it off.

    There are tools, also, that are wall sanders that are used in the drywall-sanding business, that hold that paper nice and flat so you don’t sort of dig into the wall. So if you find that it’s working really well, that’s probably the process to follow.

    Now, when you do sand it flat before you paint it, this is a situation where it’s going to be very important that you prime it. Because if you don’t, you’re not going to have a surface that is going to be really ready for that top coat of paint. Primer is sort of the glue that makes the paint stick and whenever you have a raw surface like one that you just sanded, you definitely want to prime it first.

    KELLY: OK, perfect. Great. Thank you so much.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, are you struggling to create a lush lawn but steadily losing that battle to bare spots and weeds? Well, you’ve got options and they include reseeding the lawn or laying new sod. We’re going to talk about the pros and cons of each approach, with a guy who really knows those solutions. It is Roger Cook, the landscaping pro on TV’s This Old House and he will be joining us, next.

    (theme song)

    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: Happy Earth Week/Day/Month, everybody. It’s like the Earth celebration right now.

    LESLIE: Happy Earth Everything.

    TOM: Everyone is enjoying the Earth. And if you enjoy the Earth by tackling lawn and garden projects, we’ve got advice on everything from natural pest control to planting native greenery to water-saving, landscape-design ideas. And it is all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve been striving to create a lush, green lawn around your home but you feel like you’re consistently losing the battle to bald spots and weeds, you might be tempted to throw in the towel and start from scratch.

    TOM: And if that’s you, the question is: should you reseed your lawn or go with sod?

    To help us figure out the best solution is Roger Cook, the landscaping expert from TV’s This Old House.

    Roger, I guess you have done quite a bit of both.

    ROGER: Oh, I hate to tell you how much.

    TOM: And I’ve been there with a lousy lawn. When we first moved into our house, the lawn was a weedy mess, so we kind of opted to kill off the entire yard with a round of Roundup and then we reseeded from scratch. It worked out but I have to say, it probably took two to three years for the blades to get really thick and healthy. Is sod a better approach or a quicker approach?

    ROGER: With sod, you’re buying time. What I do to my customers is I bring a piece of sod to them. I say, “Here. If you seed the lawn in 16 to 18 months – under perfect conditions you take care of it – this is what you’ll end up with.”

    TOM: Got it.

    ROGER: So it’s time; it’s a question of time. Some people love the idea of seeding a lawn, then taking care of it and finally getting that lush product. Other people, they’d just as soon have the sod put in and have it instant but …

    LESLIE: Well, regardless of which direction you’re going in, what is the prep to the surface, to make sure that it’s going to take? Because I imagine that that’s really key.

    ROGER: You hit the nail right on the head, Leslie. Soil prep is the most important thing that is done. All lawns will fail if you don’t fix the soil.

    So what we do is we rototill, we add compost, we till that in. We’ll add sand if it’s a heavy soil and then some starter fertilizer and then we put in seed or sod, depending on which way we want to go.

    TOM: Now, Roger, do planning times play into the decision? I mean can sod be planted in the spring and be sturdy enough to survive the summer heat?

    ROGER: Not only that, sod can be planted any time of year as long as you have water to take care of it, because it will need a lot of water.

    TOM: Really?

    ROGER: But seed can only be done earlier in the spring or in the fall. If you try to seed a lawn during July or August, it’s going to dry out.

    LESLIE: It’s just going to dry out.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: You’re going to have nothing but weeds. Crabgrass loves that hot time of year.

    LESLIE: But with sod, even in a northern climate where you’re getting snow? That’ll do fine if you put it in sort of winter-ish?

    ROGER: I’ve actually sodded a lawn on December 24.

    TOM: Merry Christmas.

    ROGER: Yeah. But that spring, it was the greenest lawn in the neighborhood.

    TOM: Really? Wow.

    ROGER: It was great.

    So one thing that happens is people go to a garden center and they see a piece of sod laying out on the asphalt or the concrete and they think sod is a miracle: that it’ll just grow like that. Sod fails and people are unhappy with it when you don’t prep the soil underneath it.

    The other thing about most sod blends? They’re made for sunny areas. Seed you can adapt; you can buy different blends of seed that will do well in a shaded area. Sod, for the most part, should only be put in a sunny area.

    TOM: But regardless of seed or sod, it really comes down to the watering. That’s where you can really – it doesn’t matter what it is. If you don’t have a proper watering plan, it’s not going to grow.

    ROGER: No. And people don’t understand that when you put down a seed lawn, you need to water very frequently for very short periods of time, because that seed is just sitting in the top ¼-inch of soil, so that’s what you want to keep moist. Once it germinates, then you start watering for longer periods as the root system goes down in the soil.

    LESLIE: Is there any consideration to what, I guess, what the makeup is of your soil? Like the chemical makeup or the pH levels? Do you need to think about that?

    ROGER: I do a soil test on every piece of ground before we put grass on it. I want to know what the pH is; I want to know what the micronutrients are. These all affect how the grass will grow.

    TOM: Now, Roger, very often in new construction we see this material called “hydroseed.” It kind of looks like they’re spray-painting a green lawn on brown dirt. Is that a viable option?

    ROGER: It is, for large areas.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: All hydroseed is is a way to apply the seed and it’s just sprayed on with water, the ground-up newspaper they use, dye in the seed, so that you can do large areas very quickly. And because it’s sprayed on with those material, that helps it germinate, too.

    TOM: I see.

    ROGER: You know, a smaller area – less than 4,000 square feet – you’re better off doing by hand because the cost doesn’t weigh out on that small of an area. Larger than 4,000 square feet, you can look to have someone come in and hydroseed it.

    TOM: Good tips. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    And there are more tips just like that when you visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    LESLIE: And you can watch Roger and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And This Old House, as well as Ask This Old House, are brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Still to come, we wouldn’t wish bed bugs on our worst enemy but if you are facing an infestation, you need to make sure any exterminator you hire is equipped to deal with the issue.

    LESLIE: That’s right. We’re going to have tips on how you can find the right bed-bug exterminator, after this.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a great prize package from our friend at Beaumont Products. They are the makers of Citrus Magic air fresheners and Trewax floor cleaners: two products that I use a lot of around my money pit.

    The winner is going to get a variety of products that keep a home clean and fresh, including Citrus Magic’s All-Natural Odor-Eliminating Spray Freshener. It is 100-percent natural, made from citrus oil. It actually eliminates odors instead of just covering them up.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what makes them really nice, that just truly makes me love them, is that it doesn’t have a heavy, perfume-y smell.

    TOM: Oh, absolutely.

    LESLIE: It’s actually like a nice, light fragrance and it’s great for people who are sensitive to heavy scents. I know I can’t walk through the mall, through the cosmetics department, when people are spraying fragrances at me.

    TOM: Like without your eyes watering?

    LESLIE: I’ve got eyes watering; I’m sneezing. So it really is the perfect air freshener for our house. I do love it and it lasts about four times longer than ordinary air fresheners.

    Now, our great, Citrus Magic prize pack is worth 100 bucks, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your answers and your chance to win.

    TOM: And you don’t have to have a stinky house.

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: We’re not going to ask you why you need it. But it’s going to go out to one caller chosen at random at the end of today’s program and it could be you. So call us now with your home improvement question, which could be: how do I get rid of those awful bed bugs that we’ve been dealing with in our house?

    Well, not my house but – and hopefully not your house.

    LESLIE: Ugh. No.

    TOM: But if you know someone who has a bed-bug infestation, spring means that they are back in full force.

    LESLIE: No. Knock on wood. I’m knocking on my head. Does that help?

    TOM: And when it comes to those, it’s a very difficult infestation to get rid of.

    So, if you’re looking for an exterminator specifically for a bed-bug problem, you need to ask the right questions. Some exterminators are simply not equipped or experienced to handle these pests and they will be the last ones to tell you that, so don’t be their first client with this particular …

    LESLIE: “I’m not really the best person for the job. Maybe you just want to consider that.”

    TOM: Yeah. “But I could probably do it. I could probably figure it out. Yeah, that’s our slogan: we’ll figure it out. We’ll make it happen.”

    But first, what you want to do is find out how long the company’s been in the bed-bug-removal business. Ten years plus is a minimum. And ask, also, specifically what they’ve been doing successfully to treat bed-bug infestations.

    Next, you want to find out how many technicians the exterminator has. Now, larger pest-control companies are able to train their techs and those techs also tend to be better informed and more aware of industry rules and regulations.

    And something that I found out, Leslie, that was a surprise to me is that in some states, the way that technicians are actually licensed is you can have one licensed technician and a bunch of guys that are not and they could work under the other guy’s license.

    LESLIE: Oh, I didn’t know that.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So that’s one thing that’s very important to find out.

    LESLIE: Yeah. So, really, you should take that step and ask those questions, because it is an important one. And you need to find out, as Tom mentioned, if the technicians are individually licensed and certified, especially the person who’s going to come to your house.

    And you want to try to figure out what kind of reputation, you know, this specific exterminator has in dealing specifically with bed bugs. Because it’s really a different animal that you’re trying to treat here. I mean it’s totally unconventional the way that they go about handling these infestations of bed bugs. So you want to ask a lot of questions, you want to get references, call up those people, find out are they gone for real. Seriously, ask those questions. It’s the only way and it’s the best way to know for sure how a pest-control operator measures up.

    We’ve got a lot more detailed information in our article on The Money Pit’s website. You can just Google “money pit bed bug exterminator.” It’ll take you right to the page and you can read some more there.

    TOM: And Leslie, I just want to take one more minute and talk about this idea of getting references.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: We say that over and over again and so few people actually do it and …

    LESLIE: Well and if you get them, do you really call them?

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: You’re like, “Yeah. Now I have three names and now I’m going to call.”

    TOM: I’ve got to tell you something. If you ever go through this experience where you actually physically call the references, typically the response is – first of all, the people that you call are maybe a little bit surprised that you actually picked up the phone.

    LESLIE: Oh, totally.

    TOM: But when you get through why you called, they are typically more than happy to share their experiences. And once you go through this process, you will know very, very quickly whether or not you are dealing with a good guy or not. And I strongly recommend that you do this.

    I did it myself. People ask me, “Well, who do you recommend for this or that on a local level?” Well, frankly, I don’t know that many local contractors, because I know about the products and I know what they’re supposed to do. But I’m not out there interfacing with these guys every day at the lumber yard. So what did I do when I got a couple of bids on a window-replacement project? I called their references. I asked for a list.

    One guy scratched out a few names. Another guy handed me a list of people that he had ready to go.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: And of course, that was the guy I ended up giving the job to because I just went down the list, I called the entire list and about – I don’t know – say, about a half to a third of those people called me back. I knew I had the right guy, just by doing that exercise.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s good.

    TOM: So it’s definitely worth getting the references and following up on it. You will learn very quickly if you’re dealing with the right pro or not.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that goes across the board. Whatever you guys are working on, get references, ask questions. It really does make a difference.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s see who we can help next.

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

    JOHN: The guts of my toilet kept dripping and leaking, so I would shut them off by the valve.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: I’d come out of the copper line coming out of the wall. Well, I tightened them and loosened them so much that eventually, I ended up driving the biggest pair of pliers I could get and tightening them down because otherwise, it would just keep dripping.

    TOM: Alright.

    JOHN: So, is there a replacement valve that’s just a crimp-on so that I can – so I don’t have to abrase it or whatnot? Something I could install myself?

    TOM: Yeah. And there is an easier way to – changing those – the flush and the fill valve in the toilet – would have been the simple fix here, because those are pretty – that’s a pretty easy plumbing project to do. But now that you’re …

    JOHN: Well, I replaced all the guts and this is the copper pipe coming out from the wall, that has a valve on it.

    TOM: OK. The feed. Right. OK. So there are crimp connectors there and if you go to the home center or the hardware store, you should be able to identify the appropriate crimp connector.

    Now, by the way, having said that, soldering on it is not all that difficult but if you don’t want to do it, I understand. There are crimp connectors; there are connectors that go from, also, from copper to plastic. So there’s definitely a way to do this and you won’t need a big, old wrench then to stop the thing from leaking any further.

    John, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Well, spring means that all of those woodland creatures that have kept quiet all winter, well, they’re ready to get out and forage for food. And sometimes they do that just a little too close to your house. So we’ve got some tips to help you keep raccoons and other animals away from your garbage cans and we will tackle that topic, after this.

    (theme song)

    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 1-888-MONEY-PIT or jump onto MoneyPit.com and join us in The Money Pit community, where you can post your question right there. You could write your own blog, you could upload your project, get all sorts of tips and advice not only from us but from your fellow DIYers.

    And we also want to thank the experts from the American Society of Home Inspectors that have been pitching in in The Money Pit community. There’s four or five terrific home inspectors there now that are answering questions on a regular basis and we want to thank them very, very much.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s so great. And they really do help us get a lot of great information out there for you guys.

    And while you’re online, if you want to post a question, we’ll jump online and answer those but we can also answer some of them on air. And I’ve got one here from Tom in New Jersey – not my Tom in New Jersey; you know, our Tom – a different Tom who says, “I bought some new, durable, thick, plastic garbage cans this past December. Since then, either squirrels or raccoons have managed to chew several holes in the tops. Is there a product out there that can be used to deter the animals from attacking my garbage cans each day?”

    We had the same thing. I bought two beautiful, heavy-duty, plastic garbage pails, put them outside.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Within a short amount of time, there were some nice-sized holes chewed in there. And I’m amazed at how quickly those squirrely teeth can get through and I found the best solution was simply to get metal cans.

    TOM: Well, certainly, that is the solution: to get metal cans. But the other solution is this: and that is to separate your food waste from the rest of the trash in your house. Now, I know it’s crazy; we’re already recycling everything there is under the sun. But if you want to keep the animals out of your trash cans, you can’t put food waste in there if you’re in an area that’s susceptible to that. Because they have great senses of smell and they’ll just dig right through, looking for that waste.

    However, if you clean your cans out, get rid of all of the organic material that’s in there and then just make a point to not put your food waste in there – put it in a separate container somewhere or maybe that goes in the metal container – then the animals will not attack the garbage cans. But if you put the food in there, they will because they’re hungry.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I mean really, the best thing is those metal cans and then get the kind that sort of snap down or tie something so that the top is not separatable from the base itself.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Because they will find a way in there; it’s amazing. They lack opposable thumbs but squirrels and raccoons can figure out how to get into anything, my goodness. So don’t let them.

    TOM: Alright. Let’s take this question now from Charlotte in Maryland who says, “I have an older roof that is starting to leak. Unfortunately, I don’t have the cash to reroof the entire house. Are there any less costly suggestions with regard to stopping the leaks and buying some time before I have to repair it?”

    Well, Charlotte, typically, roofs will leak even though they’re not worn out. Because roof leaks are most common where you have intersections where you have flashing points so – where, for example, a plumbing vent comes through the roof. If the leak is above the bathroom, you can almost be guaranteed it’s the flashing around the plumbing vent. If the leak is where two roofs intersect, then it’s going to be the valley flashing. If it’s the leak is up against where, say, a second story goes through the first story of the roof, then there’s going to be a flashing leak there. I would investigate more carefully exactly where the leak is happening and you can almost always repair these leaks and not have to replace the entire roof.

    Now, having said that, you call roofers and they see that you have an old roof, they’re going to try to sell you a new one. But if you find the right repair guy that can pinpoint that leak and get it fixed once and it could last a very, very long time.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So do some research. Spray some water up there, pay attention when it’s raining and see if you can find where that leak starts from.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that you had a great Earth Week, everybody, leading up to Earth Day, which was, what, yesterday? Yeah, I think it was Friday. Yeah.

    So we hope that that went very well for you, that you did something that was kind to the Earth and especially in the way of a kind, Earth-friendly, home improvement project. If you’re looking for one, you can head on over to MoneyPit.com and search our entire section on green home improvements right there.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2010 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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