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Lawn Makeover: Sod or Seed?, How to Make What’s Old New Again with Paint, How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs, Gardening Tips for Small Spaces 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: Happy Spring. We are here to help you with your spring home improvement projects, be they inside or out. Let’s get the job done at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    I’ve got a little spring project going on, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Yeah, what are you working on?

    TOM: Taking my roof off.

    LESLIE: Oh, just a little something.

    TOM: Yeah, well, it’s time. Every 20, 25 years when your roof fails, it’s time to replace it. Of course, in my house, the roof actually was multiple layers of asphalt shingles on top of a layer of cedar shingles with no sheathing underneath. So, thoroughly complicating the project. We’ve got to go all the way down to the rafters, put new sheathing on. But we are also taking the opportunity to have the attic insulated with Icynene spray-foam insulation, which is fantastic. I am so looking forward to having my heating bills be dramatically lower this coming heating season, as well as the air-conditioning season, because of Icynene.

    So that’s my project. What is your project? Pick up the phone, give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, we’re going to talk about some spring lawn-care tips because now is the time to be working on those lawns. If you’re wondering is yours so bad that maybe you should reseed or sod it, we’ll have the pros and cons and tips on how to do that, coming up.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, we’ve got info on a new development that’s going to be one of the top products at the National Hardware Show this year.

    TOM: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. It’s a Crescent Switchblade. It’s a multipurpose tool with four interchangeable heads, worth 25 bucks.

    Going out to one caller drawn at random, so give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Mike in Minnesota is dealing with tumble-lint, if you’d like to call it that. Lint blowing out a dryer vent.

    Welcome, Mike.

    MIKE: So I’ve got a dryer vent that directly vents through the exterior wall that it sits against, so there’s not much ductwork involved. My problem is that the vent sits 12 inches up from our deck surface, right in the middle, and it just makes an awful mess. So I’d really like to put in some type of maybe secondary capture system or maybe even reroute it on the exterior of the house.

    I should also let you know that I have three teenage daughters and a wife, so doing less laundry doesn’t – isn’t really a popular solution at my house.

    TOM: One solution could be just a clothesline, you know? Did you ever think of that?

    MIKE: I’ll offer that one up to my wife, too, and see how that goes.

    TOM: There you go. See how far that gets us.

    Well, look, the good news is that having a dryer vent that’s so close to an exterior wall like that means that your clothes dry as efficiently as possible. Because if you try to route this anywhere else but directly out, it’s going to take a lot longer for those clothes to dry. Plus, you have the added hassle of needing to maintain the dryer exhaust duct because it will continually build up with lint and have to be cleaned. So it’s clearly a trade-off.

    I don’t think that anything that traps lint is going to be a good thing. It can cause a fire, actually. I mean the fact that it’s venting out is what it’s supposed to do.

    Does the dryer lint vent work well inside the machine? Because it would seem to me that if the lint trap is working well inside the machine, you shouldn’t be getting as much lint in the dryer exhaust duct.

    MIKE: Well, that’s what I expected, too, and it’s a new dryer. And certainly, it’s capturing a lot, too.

    TOM: Well, if you did rerun it, where would you go?

    MIKE: Well, I thought about putting it just below the deck, which is about 12 inches down. But I have a basement window there and it would just make a mess of the window. The only other option I’d have is to run it along, basically, the floor of the deck. Maybe it would probably take about 8 feet or so before I got away from the deck. But that would be a sharp right turn.

    TOM: Well, here’s what I would think about. I would think about how many turns you need to make, starting at the machine, to get that to happen. So if you take – if you come off the machine and you take one elbow down and then you go into the floor, you take another elbow out, you’re essentially making a U-turn. And then that warm, moist air has to travel all that distance to get out. So, is it possible? Yeah. It’s not going to be as efficient, so that’s your trade-off.

    And by the way, keep in mind that with most dryers, you can actually move the dryer vent. For example, I have a dryer that I’m reconfiguring right now that has a dryer exhaust duct out the back. But I noticed that the side of the dryer has had punch-outs – holes – for it. And so I just looked up online and the installation instructions showed me how to rerun the duct coming out the side of the machine so that I could vent it quicker to an exterior wall than having to go down through a floor.

    MIKE: Oh, OK. That might be an option, too.

    TOM: So consider that you may be able to come out of the dryer in a different direction.

    MIKE: OK.

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

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

    ELLIE: Yes. I just recently moved to Florida and the house I bought, the water softener is broken because – I believe it’s because they had it outside the home. Every other house in my community has them in the garage. And mine, they – for some reason, the water line is on the opposite side of the house in the garage. So, it would be a – I believe it would be a major thing to have the water line brought from one side of the house to the other so I could have it inside.

    And Sears tells me that I can have it put outside but you have to have some kind of protective covering. Lowe’s tells me that they don’t sell any that go outdoors. And a private plumbing company is telling me that they have one that – to put outside, specifically. And other people are saying you don’t even need one, to go – don’t even bother the expense. So, I don’t know what to do.

    TOM: So, first of all, the question is: do you need a water softener or not?

    ELLIE: Right. I’ve looked online and I see the pros and cons.

    TOM: Right. Well, if you – if you’re accustomed to a water softener and you eliminate it, you may find that you don’t like that experience. You certainly could bypass the water softener just to see if you like the water.

    Is the water city water?

    ELLIE: Well, it’s not well water. So does that mean it is city water? I don’t know.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s city water. If it’s city water, you probably do not need a water softener.

    ELLIE: Well, I was – I think no. You know, I don’t think it is city water because people in Ocala, I think they told me that they don’t need it; they have city water. I could be wrong; I’m not sure. But everybody in this development says you need it.

    TOM: Ellie, the first thing you want to do is figure out if you’ve got city water. If you do, it’s going to be treated. If you’ve got well water, then you do need, probably, a water conditioner, as well as to have the water tested to make sure that it’s safe. And that’s something that should be done on an occasional basis.

    Now, in terms of the enclosures, given the fact that you’re in Florida, we’re not concerned about freezing pipes. I wouldn’t be too concerned about putting it outside. I would want to have it enclosed. Now, how do you do that? Well, you either use one that’s rated to be outside – and perhaps your – the water-treatment company – the plumbing company has one that has such a certification, that’s designed for interior or exterior use and that’s fine. And if not, you’re going to have to construct something or have something constructed or perhaps pick up a small shed or something of that nature where the equipment could be protected from the weather.

    But I think the first thing you need to do is determine whether or not you need it and determine what kind of water supply you have. If it’s well water, get it tested. You can even have the hardness tested. You’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with. And if it’s city water, then I think you can try bypassing the system you have right now and see if you like it.

    I hope that helps you out. Ellie, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question. The weather is getting nicer; you’re going to head outside, start doing some work. We’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still to come, do you have brown bald spots overtaking your lawn? Learn how to start over from scratch for a lush lawn, just in time for summer, 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: Call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just take home the Crescent Switchblade. They call it that because it’s a utility knife with four interchangeable heads, each with a different cutting or gripping purpose.

    LESLIE: And the serrated, multipurpose blade is ideal for cutting bread – no, it’s ideal for cutting ropes or shingles ­- while the straight-cutting blade is best suited for any metal ducting work you might be doing around the house. It’s only 24.99. It’s a compact tool with an incredible bargain price tag. And it’s a great prize for one lucky listener.

    TOM: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Doug in Virginia on the line who seems to have gotten something on a hardwood floor that perhaps should not have been there. What’s going on?

    DOUG: Yeah. Basically, my wife and I are trying to restore a home that we purchased that was built in the 1950s. And we’re currently working on the kitchen. And what we found was the floors had tiles put down in the 50s and they used a thick, black, cutback adhesive, like an asphalt adhesive. And so we got the tiles up and we were working on getting that tar up and we used a product called Citrus King.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s an adhesive remover, right?

    DOUG: Right, right. And it worked really, really good. It brought the tar right up but in the process, it made the wood wet. We put it down, we got it up as fast as we could but it did make it a little bit wet. Our flooring finisher, he was – the original idea, we were going to use Monocoat to finish the floors, which is like a natural wood finish and an oil finish. And when he realized we had used the product to strip the floors, he felt that that product wasn’t going to work – the Monocoat wouldn’t work for a floor finish. And so, our Plan B was just a stain and a poly finish. And he felt that the floor being – having moisture in it, that the poly wouldn’t stick.

    TOM: Well, look, if it has moisture in it, the moisture’s not going to be in it permanently; it’s going to evaporate out of it. Has the floor been sanded since the adhesive was pulled up?

    DOUG: Yeah, I sanded it over this past weekend.

    TOM: OK. And it looks good now? I mean it looks like a clean, dry, sanded hardwood floor?

    DOUG: Yeah, it looks pretty good. It’s not – it doesn’t look brand new but we kind of like it. It has kind of a weathered look to it, so we like it.

    TOM: Well, it sounds to me like this guy doesn’t really want to do it anyway, if he’s trying to talk himself out of a job.

    LESLIE: He’s looking for a way out.

    TOM: Well, look, just because the floor got wet, as long as the floor was dried out – when did you actually do the adhesive-removal process?

    DOUG: It’s probably been two weeks ago.

    TOM: OK. And so – and you got up all of the moisture that was there and now it seems to have dried out real well?

    DOUG: Yeah. It feels dry. There for a little bit, you would see some dark spots on it and you could sand them away and they’d actually come back. And so I think the moisture was coming out of it. But I sanded it this past weekend and since then, it’s remained the same color and feels dry.

    TOM: Yeah. I don’t see any reason you just can’t go right to the finish coat on this. I think he’s being a little overly cautious. He doesn’t want to be responsible or having to do it twice. I can understand that. But if there’s any concern, then try finishing a section inside of a closet first and see how it goes. But I don’t know why you need this guy to do the finishing. If you’ve done all the sanding work, applying the finish is the last step.

    DOUG: Right.

    TOM: You know, you would apply it – if you’re using a polyurethane, you apply that with a lambswool applicator that looks a bit like sort of a sponge mop, except it has a lambswool pad on it. You pour the urethane into a regular painting tray and then you essentially mop it on.

    Now, did you mention that you wanted to stain?

    DOUG: Yeah, we’d like to stain first, yep.

    TOM: So, then you have to stain first. Now, I will warn you that the stain – you could – if I was concerned about anything, it would be the rate of absorption of the stain. Because based on how much of that adhesive ended up getting into the hardwood floor, some areas may not accept the stain as well as others. So I would be careful about the stain and I would do that in an inconspicuous area first, just to make sure it’s going to go on as you expect it. But again, you could do that with a lambswool applicator, as well.

    DOUG: Do you think that a preconditioner – I read about those. Do you think a preconditioner would help that?

    TOM: Maybe. Maybe. But it really depends on the condition of that – preconditioners usually go on raw wood, not prefinished – not wood that’s already been finished which, essentially, this has because it has the adhesive on it.

    Do you have some places in this floor layout where you could try it, like a closet?

    DOUG: Yeah, maybe. Well, it’s just the kitchen, so maybe a little bit under where the cabinets will be installed. Possibly there.

    TOM: Yeah, I would just try that and see how it – just put it on carefully and see if it seems to be absorbing evenly. That’s my only concern, especially if you’re going darker. Because if you get a section where there’s still adhesive, it’s not going to absorb and it’ll – you’ll end up having sort of blotches.

    DOUG: And the poly, you feel pretty confident the poly should stick OK, then, too?

    TOM: Yes, I do feel pretty confident. If you sanded it and you got down to sawdust, I think the poly should stick fine.

    DOUG: Alright, great.

    TOM: Alright? You use – make sure you use the solvent-based polyurethane, not the latex-based, not the water-based.

    DOUG: Alright. Well, thank you for your help.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve been striving to create a lush lawn around your home this spring season but you feel like you’re consistently losing the battle to bald spots and weeds, you may be wondering what you should do to get your lawn back in shape or maybe if you should just reseed it or use sod and start over again.

    TOM: Now, the first thing you should do is to start with a soil test so you kind of know what you’ve got. This is going to help you determine if the pH or the acidity needs to be adjusted.

    Now, if you’re going to reseed, you want to rototill the soil. This will incorporate any fertilizer that you might have applied and usually kills off most of the annual weeds. Try to do this before the weeds go to seed.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, perennial weeds, on the other hand, they have roots that are going to remain sort of deep into your soil system. Tilling that soil is only going to break the roots into pieces, which could result in more weeds. So, the quick way to control these types of weeds is with a post-emergent herbicide.

    TOM: Now, the best time to plant grass seed is late April through May and late August to early September. Using a spreader – the same kind that perhaps you use to apply fertilizer – you want to apply about half the amount in one direction and the other half at right angles. This is going to make sure you get even coverage.

    Now, water is critical when you’re talking about new seeds, so you want to sprinkle lightly several times a day. Keep the soil nice and moist and cool. And as the grass begins to grow, you water less often but you soak the soil more each time.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, sod can provide a lawn in a shorter amount of time than seed. Now, you don’t want to lay sod during dry weather because if water is scarce, that rolled-up sod is going to heat up and then the heat can actually kill the sod. So it’s best to lay the sod within 24 to 48 hours after it was cut. And unlike with seeds, you need to water heavily every day after you lay the sod, until the roots have actually begun to grow into your soil. That often takes two to three weeks. And then once that starts to happen, you can reduce your watering gradually.

    TOM: And remember, if you are going to sod, a sodded lawn does not need fertilizer for the first season. I mean that’s one of the reasons you chose sod in the first place, right? It’s good to go as soon as you lay it out and add water.

    888-666-3974. Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. We are here to help you with your home improvement projects, inside and out.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got John in Missouri on the line with a garage question. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOHN: This drainage has caused the one part of the garage slab to drop.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And we knew it when we bought the house. It’s gotten a little worse every year. And I guess my big question is: what are my options as far as repairing it? And then, what I’ve – kind of look into – I haven’t got anybody out to look at it and give me estimates yet. Is mudjacking and curing (ph) it as opposed to just not doing anything – and then when it’s too bad, just ripping out the concrete and repouring another slab. So I guess that’s the question that I have.

    TOM: The fact that you had all these contractors come out and look at the slab and look at the house and give you a whole wide range of solutions is typical. When you call somebody that’s in the concrete-repair business, they’re going to come out and recommend a concrete repair. So you were very smart to call in the independent, professional home inspector and therein got the correct advice – was simply fix the drainage and everything else will take care of itself.

    JOHN: The best 500 bucks I ever spent in my life.

    TOM: Exactly. So now that you fixed the drainage, you’ve got this slab that’s settled down and you’re wondering, “What do I do with it?” I would not recommend, with a garage slab, doing anything as expensive as mudjacking or anything of that nature. The cost of that procedure is not worth just trying to save the slab. That slab will break up very, very easily – surprisingly easily – with a jackhammer or even a sledgehammer, frankly.

    And you would tear that out, relevel the floor, compress it, pack it properly and pour a new slab. So that’s the most cost-effective and permanent, long-term solution. Everything else would – I think would be a waste of money and very speculative.

    JOHN: Thank you. I appreciate that. Like I said, I haven’t had anybody come out and really look at it yet. It’s kind of one of those ankle-biter kind of things that …

    TOM: Well, here’s what’s going to happen, John. If you have somebody that’s in the mudjacking business come out there, they’re going to say, “Hey, you need mudjacking,” OK? If you have a mason come out there and he tells you to tear it out and put a new one in, I’d agree with that. I think that’s the best thing to do.

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

    LESLIE: Coming up, we’ve got the scoop on top products that are going to be unveiled at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas next month, including a new spray paint that covers a whole list of materials.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, we know that a lot of spring projects involve giving a fresh look to something that maybe has seen better days. Now, one way to do just that is with paint. And there’s a brand-new formula of spray paint from Krylon that makes it easier than ever to spruce up just about anything that needs painting around your house.

    LESLIE: And here to tell us about Krylon Dual Superbond Paint + Primer is Denise Patterson.

    Welcome, Denise.

    DENISE: Thank you, Leslie. Hello.

    LESLIE: So, I spray-paint everything. I work in a home makeover TV show, as well as doing The Money Pit. And we are dealt with short turnarounds. We want things to look beautiful. Maybe not even a lot of time to do some prep work. But this is really exciting because that sort of answers all of those dilemmas, right?

    DENISE: It absolutely does. People use primers because they want performance but it’s also a step that sometimes you just forget. And so we wanted to kind of make this a goof-proof product. And it’s going to give you great rust protection if you use it on metal. It will give you great protection on bare wood or painted wood. But then it’s also going to go on a lot of different surfaces, so we really see this as the perfect product for just about anything you want to spray-paint.

    TOM: I know that this is described as a high-adhesion paint. And that makes sense because one of the ways that I explain the purpose of primer to our audience is simply that it’s the glue that makes the paint stick. So you guys have found a way to build that primer into this formula, therefore giving the product the adhesion that’s necessary to bond with whatever substrate you apply it to, correct?

    DENISE: Correct. This formula gives you the performance of a specialty bonding primer. So, it will not only go on metal and wood but it is going to adhere to plastics. And you don’t need to sand that plastic to get an adhesion. It will adhere to laminates and melamine, which those surfaces have traditionally been out of reach for a one-step product and often require sanding and a primer in order to let that paint grab onto something and stay in place.

    TOM: I didn’t even think about the idea of spraying plastics but I’ve got some yard chairs that this would do great with.

    DENISE: Absolutely. And you can pick a trendy color and it looks like new and you’re the hippest guy in the neighborhood.

    TOM: Yeah. Hip is a word that generally is not used in the same sentence with me but thank you very much for that.

    LESLIE: You know, Denise, I think what’s interesting is that – I did some work on my home and all of a sudden, the very old wicker chairs that I had from Pier 1 from 10 years ago when I bought the house – and thought, “Oh, this is great for my porch.” They were really looking worse for the wear.

    And I’ve got to tell you that this really adhered very, very, very well. And the interesting thing I think with a wicker is that if it’s something that you wanted to sand or just scuff up a bit to make something stick better, you’re dealing with so many different surfaces and uneven levels and kind of a delicate material. And I’ve got to tell you, the spray paint truly was the answer and they look phenomenal.

    DENISE: I’m really glad to hear that. Spray paint is an easy solution that people sometimes forget about. The cleanup is simple and the finish is super-smooth, so it looks like the finish you would get if you had bought that item originally in that color.

    LESLIE: Do you have any application tips to avoid areas of drippy paint or just – because it’s not always as easy as it seems, right?

    DENISE: It isn’t. And for someone who hasn’t spray-painted in a while, I suggest grabbing an old piece of cardboard or poster board and just doing a couple passes on there to get comfortable. Everyone has a different speed at which they spray and they spray at different distances from the surface. And that can affect what your finish is like. So if you do a couple of tests on a piece of cardboard, you’ll very quickly understand your style and how to avoid those runs and drips. And then you can start painting your object that you really want to focus on.

    TOM: We’re talking to Denise Patterson – she is a Krylon product manager – about a brand-new product called Krylon Dual Superbond Paint and Primer.

    I think the best news about spray paint, Denise, is that it’s very affordable. So this product is 4.99 to 5.99. It’s available at local hardware and home centers and it comes in 24 colors. And in those 24 colors, you have gloss, satin and flat finishes. So you should be able to find the perfect finish and the perfect color for whatever your project might be.

    DENISE: Absolutely. We’ve also added some metallic finishes and hammered finishes to this line, as well. So if you want to do something extra special, we have an option for you.

    TOM: And the Krylon Dual Superbond Paint and Primer has also been designated a top product. It will be featured in the Top Products Pavilion, which we’ll be broadcasting from at the upcoming National Hardware Show.

    Denise Patterson, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on this fun, new product from Krylon: the Dual Superbond Paint and Primer.

    DENISE: Thank you, Tom. It was my pleasure.

    Thank you, Leslie.

    TOM: If you’d like more information about the new Krylon Dual Superbond Paint + Primer, visit Krylon’s website at Krylon.com. And Krylon is spelled K-r-y-l-o-n.

    LESLIE: Still to come, are the bed bugs biting? Ugh. Gross. I stay in far too many hotels to even think about this. We’re going to tell you how to eliminate these stubborn pests from your home or perhaps anywhere else, 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. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Crescent Switchblade.

    Now, they call it that because it’s a utility knife with four interchangeable heads. And each one has a different cutting or gripping purpose.

    TOM: The serrated, multipurpose blade is great for cutting rope or shingles, while the straight-cutting blade is best suited for metal ductwork. At 24.99, the Crescent Switchblade is a great bargain and a great prize for one lucky listener. If you’d like that to be you, pick up the phone and call us right now with your home improvement question at 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elsie in California on the line who’s dealing with a shower that goes from hot to cold and all over.

    That doesn’t sound very pleasurable, Elsie. What’s going on?

    ELSIE: Oh, it sure isn’t. It’s very shocking.

    I live in a ranch-style house. The water heater is in the garage at one end of the house and the two bathrooms are at the other end of the house. And whenever someone flushes the toilet or turns on the tap or the sprinkling or drip system comes on, the water will go from hot to pure cold and I’ll have to readjust it.

    TOM: And the reason that happens is because the pressures are imbalanced. In other words, you adjust the temperature in your shower and that’s based on the pressure of water that’s coming from the hot and coming from the cold. And once that’s locked in, the temperature stays where you want it. But when someone down the line, say, spills off some of the cold water because now they’re flushing a toilet or washing their hands, then the – there is going to be less cold water going into that same mix, which means the water temperature is going to get higher or hotter.

    And so, the solution is a new valve for the shower and it’s called a “pressure-balanced valve.” And what a pressure-balance valve does is it maintains the mix in spite of the pressure differential. So, what could happen in that scenario is if you adjusted it and then someone flushed the toilet, you may get less pressure overall. So the shower may be not quite as strong but the temperature won’t change, the mix won’t change. The mix is locked in; it’s set right there, regardless of how much pressure variation you have on the hot water and the cold water coming into it.

    So, common problem, straightforward solution. It’s called a “pressure-balance valve.”

    ELSIE: OK. Well, thank you so much. I listen to your program every week. I have your book and I’ve learned so much from both of you.

    TOM: Well, spring can often mean that pests that went away for the winter are back in full force. But when it comes to a bed-bug infestation, those little suckers can take over a home year-round.

    Now, if you’re looking for an exterminator specifically for a bed-bug problem, you want to make sure that you ask the right questions. Some exterminators are not equipped or experienced to handle these pests.

    LESLIE: First, you’ve got to find out how long the company has been in business; 10-years plus is a minimum you should be looking for. Also, you have to ask how long they’ve been specifically treating for bed bugs.

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

    TOM: Now, the next step is important. You want to find out if the company’s technicians are all individually licensed and certified, especially, of course, the technician coming out to your house. And try to figure out what kind of reputation this exterminator has in dealing specifically with bed bugs. Get references and check them.

    LESLIE: Yeah. References, they really are one of the best ways to know for sure how a pest-control operator measures up.

    We’ve got a ton of more detailed information in our article online. Just go to MoneyPit.com and search “bed-bug exterminators” and you’ll learn more.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement project. We’re here to help you get the job done.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jim on the line from Ohio who’s dealing with a high water table.

    JIM: Hi. Our sump pump runs like crazy and we’ve tried to make sure that the drainage is far away from the foundation. We’ve even gone so far as to get the basement sealed and waterproofed, all that stuff, which I think we wasted our money on. But nonetheless, sump pump runs like crazy. All these things have been addressed. It’s just – and everybody says around here it is a hugely high water table, if that makes sense.

    TOM: So, does your basement leak more after a hard rain?

    JIM: Nope.

    TOM: So the rainfall is consistent?

    JIM: Right.

    TOM: So this could be the unique situation where you really truly do have a high water table. If you get basement leakage and precipitation that is worse after a snow melt or a rainfall, then it’s almost always gutter problems or problems with drainage, angle of the grade, that sort of thing.

    JIM: Right, right. As a matter of fact, we took your advice from past shows and had all that stuff addressed, because it is such a common issue. But this is the oddball. Leave it to us to have the oddball.

    TOM: If you truly do have a high water table and you have a subsurface drainage system in below the floor of the basement, then that’s pretty much all that you really can or should be doing right now. Is the water evidencing itself in some way? Is it coming up beyond the floor?

    JIM: No, no, no. It stays in the sump pump. I know my pump’s not going to last forever. We go through – we’ve gone through about 7 or 8 of them in 12 years.

    TOM: Take a look at the pumps that are made by Wayne – the Wayne Pump Company. They make really good pumps that – in fact, they have pumps that are auto-reversing so that if they do get clogged, that they will reverse themselves to kind of spit out the clog and then come back on again.

    JIM: Oh, OK. Awesome. Thanks, you guys.

    TOM: That’s the solution. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    JIM: You guys rock.

    LESLIE: Caitlin in Iowa is on the line and needs some help restoring an old bath. Tell us what’s going on.

    CAITLIN: Hi. My husband and I moved into our 1917 farmhouse about a year ago. And our main bathroom only has a clawfoot tub and we would like a shower in it. So I was wondering if you had any tips on restoring the clawfoot tub and installing a shower kit.

    TOM: So, you want to keep the tub, right? You don’t want to put a separate shower. You just want to basically plumb up a showerhead into that, correct?

    CAITLIN: Correct.

    TOM: Since it’s a clawfoot tub, if you disconnect the plumbing, then you can get that out of the house. Because the best way to refinish that or resurface that is to send it out to a company that does that. Because if you do it in the house itself, they can come in with acids and they can etch the old finish and they can add a new finish and then they can bring in heat lights and bake it on. But I’ve found that it doesn’t work nearly as well as basically sending it out to a place that’s set up to re-enamel a tub. And then you’re going to have one that really lasts for the long haul.

    And after that, installing a shower kit to that is pretty much a plumbing project. Lots of places, like Restoration Hardware, have kits or you can find them online. Or you could basically plumb up the pipe that comes up and then arcs over for the showerhead. And you need a circular shower curtain – shower bar above it for a curtain – and all that’s easy. But the hard part is getting the tub re-enameled.

    CAITLIN: OK. And how costly is re-enameling a tub?

    TOM: It’s probably not as expensive as buying a new tub and it’s going to last indefinitely.

    CAITLIN: OK. Well, thank you for your advice.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, do you love to garden? Are you short on space? Well, there’s several garden options for apartment or even townhouse dwellers and we’re going to share them with you, after this.

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

    TOM: 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: Hey, do you want to show off your latest project? Check out our Community section on MoneyPit.com where fellow Money Pit fans post questions and get answers, share photos and ask for advice. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Let’s head over to that Community section now where Rebecca in Louisiana writes: “I’m considering buying a house that hasn’t had electricity since 2010. Am I crazy? The house also had a leak in the roof that damaged sheetrock. I’m concerned about mold. What should I know before getting an inspection?”

    TOM: Well, it sounds like this was a home that’s been abandoned. Perhaps it was a foreclosure, Rebecca. And they could be good opportunities for investment but you’ve got to be very careful here.

    So the first thing that I would do is get the utilities turned on, even if it costs you a few dollars before the inspection. You really want them turned on because, frankly, that’s the only way you’re going to really know the true condition of the heating system, the plumbing system, the cooling system and the electrical system. You can only do so much as an inspector if you don’t have the utilities on, so that’s really, really important.

    If you cannot get them turned on, go ahead and have the inspection anyway. But have your attorney add a clause to the contract which states that you get to have the utilities turned on before closing and if there’s anything else that comes up as a result of those utilities being turned on, that the seller – not the buyer – is 100-percent responsible for repair. You’ve got to protect yourself.

    So be very, very careful because it can be a good opportunity but you’ve got to look very, very carefully if it’s been abandoned for that long.

    LESLIE: Yeah, Rebecca. You’ve got to make sure you get a really good home inspector, so you want to go to the American Society for Home Inspectors at ASHI.org and find somebody in your area.

    TOM: Well, it’s that time of year when thoughts turn to the garden and trading in that snow shovel for a rake or a garden hoe. Now, if you’re short on space, there are a few ways that you can still scratch your gardening itch. Leslie has ideas, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I think the best part of this is that a lot of these gardening ideas can work indoors. So if Mother Nature is just playing a nasty trick on us with how spring is going thus far and maybe we’re going to have some sort of freakish May snowstorm – I mean who knows? This could all still work.

    Well, you see them everywhere, you know: vertical wall gardens. They’re just popping up all over. I’ve seen them in airport lounges, shopping malls, even restaurants and nightclubs. That’s right. I’m hitting the nightclubs.

    Well, wall gardens, they really can soften a sleek, modern apartment, as well. And they kind of look perfect in those kinds of spaces. Now, you can use a trellis or a grid and you can plant any kind of vine.

    Another great idea – and this is very popular in urban environments – is a community garden. People are transforming unused pieces of land in their neighborhoods into gourmet gardens of fresh produce. And it’s a great way to get to know your neighbors because everybody takes a turn at tending the garden or they have their own little space. And everybody really works together and sort of reaps the harvest of all their hard work.

    And this is another cool idea: roof gardens. They are gaining huge popularity. Not only are they a great way to create urban microclimates but they also create an oasis in the city.

    Finally, hanging potted plants? They’re back. They can be hung on your balcony or your porch and they can even hold things like strawberries and tomatoes. So you don’t have to rule out growing some fresh produce.

    If you want some more ideas, check out MoneyPit.com. We’ve got an online article, “Gardening Ideas for Houses or Apartments.”

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. And speaking of gardens, do you have overgrown hedges that are overtaking your yard? If you need a few pointers on proper pruning, we’re going to deliver those next time on The Money Pit, courtesy of our friend, Roger Cook, from TV’s This Old House. He’ll stop by with hedge-pruning tips, on the next edition of the program.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2014 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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