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Low-Voltage Lighting Can Extend Time Spent Outdoors, Get Rid of Moles and Garden Pests, Avoid Bed Bugs When You Travel, 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 we are here for you. We are in the money pit preservation business. If you’ve got a home that you love – a home, though, that needs a little TLC now and again – and maybe you think of it as a money pit because sometimes it’s always picking your pocket, well, we’d like to change your thinking on that. Because we think it can also mean a term of endearment.

    It’s a home that you love. It’s a home that, perhaps, you even love to take care of. And if you don’t love to take care of it, well, hey, we may be able to help with that. Just pick up the phone and call us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The call is free and the advice is worth more than you paid for.

    We’ve got a great show for you planned this hour. We’re going to talk about how to prevent the very worst part of outdoor living: that is, of course, when it ends. We’ve got tips on how you can extend your outdoor time, with a lighting project you can do yourself.

    LESLIE: And are you making a mountain out of a molehill or are there really molehills in your yard? We’ve got some tips on how you can actually get rid of those tunneling pests for good.

    TOM: And also ahead, while you’re busy planning your summer getaway, bed bugs are busy planning how to join you. So we’re going to have some tips on how to avoid bringing home the nasty, little critters along with your souvenirs.

    LESLIE: Bleh. You’re giving me the willies.

    And one lucky caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to get a great variety prize package from Little Big Shot Nozzles, worth 130 bucks.

    TOM: You’re going to get three hose nozzles, a plunger and some Monkey Hooks, all products of K-CO Innovations. And that prize package is going to go to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question, so pick up the phone. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: John in Maryland is on the line with a water-heater question. How can we help you?

    JOHN: Have a gas hot-water heater right now that vents up through – it’s not really a chimney stack but it’s, you know, the sheet-metal pipe. And that takes up a lot of space in a bathroom I have and I’d like to kind of eliminate that. And I was wondering if there are any side-venting gas water heaters, similar to how they have some high-efficiency furnaces that sort of vent out of the side of the house. I was wondering what you guys’ opinion on are – of gas water heaters that might do the same. And that would allow me to get rid of that unusable space in my bathroom, for renovation.

    TOM: Yeah, you’re correct. There are what – it’s called a “direct-vent appliance.” And there are direct-vent water heaters. And if you are going to replace your water heater, I would consider a tankless water heater. You mentioned space. Tankless water heaters are about a quarter of the size of the traditional tanked water heater. And yes, they are available as a direct-vent type of installation.

    In fact, that’s one of the things that makes them so cool is that they’re so small and they’re so easily vented that you can pretty much put them anywhere. So, I think your solution is a directly vented tankless water heater.

    JOHN: OK. And there’s no issue there with any problem with the – you’re always worried about getting flue gas and all that stuff. That side vent – those are safe to vent out and there’s no issue, right?

    TOM: Well, there’s rules about where you put them. Like, for example, there has to be so many feet away from a potentially open window and that kind of thing. And it has to be so far off the ground so it doesn’t get covered with snow – the vent doesn’t get covered with snow. So there are some basic rules about where you put in a direct vent. But as long as you follow those then no, there’s no issue about them getting blocked.

    JOHN: Great. Alright, guys. Thanks a lot for your help. Love your show.

    TOM: Oh, thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Dorothy in Wisconsin on the line who has a Wizard of Oz-themed garden and needs some help with her characters.

    How exciting. Have they blown away many times? Is the house on the witch? What’s going on?

    DOROTHY: Dorothy and my scarecrow have costumes on them and they’re made of cotton, I believe. And I’m looking for a product that is water-repellent and sun-resistant.

    LESLIE: I’m not sure about the UV-rating but there are many products that are made for camping equipment, like tents and sleeping bags, that you would spray on that make the fabric water-resistant. There’s one called KIWI Camp Dry and it’s a heavy-duty waterproofing spray. It’s good for tents and boots. I just don’t know if they’re UV-rated but they definitely do keep things – clothing – water-resistant.

    DOROTHY: Right. I’m trying to find a product that is also UV-protectant.

    LESLIE: You know what? If you head on over to the Trek website – and it’s actually Trek7.com – T-r-e-k-7.com. I just quickly popped over there and I looked at their Aqua Armor product. And it says it’s UV-activated.

    DOROTHY: Oh, I thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. 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. Well, we hope you had a wonderful Independence Day and maybe you guys are still celebrating. Let us help you get your money pit in tip-top shape or maybe get it back into tip-top shape after some crazy celebrating. We’re here to give you a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we’re going to share an easy way to help you add some outdoor lighting that will help you do just that.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by PORTER-CABLE professional-grade nailers and staplers. With over 100 years of experience producing quality, performance-driven tools, PORTER-CABLE continues to be a leading manufacturer and marketer of professional-grade, pneumatic fastening tools and compressors. Available at The Home Depot and independent retailers. To learn more, visit PORTERCABLE.com.

    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: Taking your calls at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller who asks us their question on the air this hour is going to win a variety prize package from K-CO Innovations.

    These folks are the makers of the Little Big Shot Nozzles. This is a really terrific hose nozzle. You’re going to get three of these very powerful, solid-brass Little Big Shots. They’re all assembled here in the U.S.A. by military veterans. You’re also going to get a variety pack of Monkey Hooks, another product from K-CO Innovations, which is the easiest way to hang something on your wall. And we’re also going to throw in the Johnny Jolter Plunger.

    Together, the prize package is worth $130. So give us a call right now. We will answer your home improvement question and perhaps you’ll even win that prize package to take on those projects around your house.

    LESLIE: Joseph in Florida needs some help with a composite deck. What can we do for you?

    JOSEPH: I have two Trex decks that – one above the other. And they’re quite large, wrap around the house. And I’m having – they were installed in 2007 and since that time, they’ve developed a kind of a white film. At times, it has some black dots on it and also, the color has faded. And my question is: what can I do to restore that color and make it look more like new than the way it does now?

    TOM: Well, I’m not aware that you can restore the color. The dots that you describe and the staining that you describe sound like it could be an algae. So, one thing that you should do is to clean that decking. Because, unfortunately, composites do tend sometimes to grow algae that tends to stick to them a bit, like what you’re describing. So I would make sure that I clean it.

    JOSEPH: Mm-hmm. I do. I spray it with this Wet & Forget that you’ve recommended and it does do a good job on that.

    TOM: OK, great. That’s good to hear.

    JOSEPH: That’s really not the big problem. The problem is the whiteness – like the top of the handrails. The railings are all Trex and the top – this is high; this is up around 3,000 feet. And the top has turned white – a film, like on top of it. And I’ve tried washing it and spraying it and I didn’t use anything harsh on it. I didn’t want to – but I just wondered if there was something – can’t bring that color back up.

    TOM: Trex says that you can stain it. I mean they do say that it’s OK to use an exterior stain with it. They recommend solid-color stains. They recommend, specifically, solid-color stains by either Behr or Sherwin-Williams.

    LESLIE: You know, there’s a manufacturer – Messmer is their name – M-e-s-s-m-e-r. Messmer. And they actually have a composite-deck finish that’s made specifically for it. It’s in, I think, seven or eight different colors. And it does restore color to faded composite. I would give it a good cleaning and try to get rid of all that algae and mold growth that’s on there and then go ahead and look at this: the Messmer’s Composite Deck Finish.

    JOSEPH: OK. Messmer. I’ll take a look for that and see if I can find it.

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

    Well, it’s time now for our Project of the Week, presented by Sakrete.

    And today, we’re going to talk about how you can stylishly extend your summer outdoor time, way into the evening, just by adding some low-voltage lighting.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Low-voltage lighting has really made it easy to create beautiful areas of light into your garden area or even to highlight some architectural details of your home. And they give off a really beautiful, warm glow.

    Now, most low-voltage lighting is sold in kits, along with some really easy-to-install instructions. You do not need to be an experienced electrician to install those low-voltage lighting systems.

    First, you have to consider where you want the lights installed and where you’re going to place the transformer that ultimately powers those lights. It’s really a small electrical box that can be plugged in in any sort of inconspicuous space.

    TOM: That’s right. And next, you need to run the cable out to the lights. And you want to set the cable in a very shallow trench, really the purpose of which is just to hide the wires.

    Now, if you follow the instructions carefully, you’re going to learn how you split the cables and attach them to the lights. It’s sort of a click-in-place situation. It’s really easy. It’s not a lot of work, nor is it a lot of expense. And you really do get a pretty huge impact when the project’s done.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And most of these lights are on timers for a dusk turn-on time. So, not only does your low-voltage lighting help to enhance your outdoor escape, it actually adds value to your home and helps keep everybody safe on those newly lit pathways.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Project of the Week, presented by Sakrete. And as you plan your outdoor projects, be sure to visit Sakrete.com for any of your concrete, stucco or masonry needs.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Todd in Mississippi on the line who’s got a wood floor that was installed after Katrina. So, what is that, like seven years ago? And it’s starting to buckle.

    Welcome, Todd. How can we help you?

    TODD: Hey. Yes, that’s exactly right. I had a hardwood floor installed in my home after Katrina. My home was flooded by Katrina, so we had – it was completely gutted. And my home is on a concrete slab and we actually had professionals come in and install the hardwood floors after Katrina, probably – it was probably about – actually, it’s probably close to a year after Katrina had hit.

    And so – but anyway, we had moved into the house after the – well, after the flooring had been installed. Probably November of ’06 we had moved in and started living in the house. And about a year into it, after moving back into the house, the floors just started buckling in several different places. And I was unsure of why it was doing that.

    TOM: So this is solid hardwood that was installed on top of a concrete slab?

    TODD: It’s engineered hardwood. It’s over a concrete slab. And of course, before they installed it over the slab, they had put down – they had used Bostik’s Best Adhesive and put all of that down. And it’s supposed to have the moisture barrier and what-have-you built into the adhesive.

    But after a year of probably living in the house, we noticed in different areas it started buckling. Actually, some were worse than others and it’s just only gotten worse.

    TOM: Do we know that this is swelling and not any movement of the floor that’s causing this?

    TODD: I think it’s just swelling. I don’t think there’s any moving of the floor. In most areas, it seems pretty intact and tight. And a friend of mine had said, “Well, maybe they didn’t leave enough space in between the walls.” And we checked that and of course, there’s enough gap in between the walls for natural expansion and what-have-you with levels of humidity. But it’s just actually buckled in quite a few places. In some areas, you almost trip over it, it’s buckled so bad.

    TOM: Yeah, I’m surprised to hear that because engineered hardwood is supposed to be dimensionally stable. It’s not supposed to do what it’s doing. Did you, by any chance, reach out to the manufacturer for any suggestions as to why this might be happening?

    TODD: No, I have not. Actually, I have not done that. And I didn’t know if I should reach out to them or also, I didn’t know, as far as on the Bostik’s Best because it was supposed to have the built-in moisture barrier, as well. And so I didn’t really know who to reach out to but …

    TOM: I would start with the floor manufacturer. Look, the answer I’m going to give you is the answer you don’t want to hear and that is it’s not repairable. This is a situation where you’re going to have to cut the floor out and start again.

    TODD: OK. Well, that’s not necessarily the news I wanted to hear but I can start there and I can – like I said, I can get with the manufacturer and check on that.

    TOM: Todd, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Betty in California needs some help with a toilet question. What can we do for you today?

    BETTY: I’m interested in the high-rise toilet and I’d like the pros and con and possibly a brand. Because our plumber is thinking of using KOHLER – the quick flush and we’re on well water and that’s it.

    TOM: Well, there’s really no cons of using – a comfort-height toilet is what’s that called. Not a high-rise but a comfort-height. They’re a bit higher than a standard toilet. And in terms of brands, one that I can recommend is called American Champion 4. I’ve got American Champion comfort-height toilets in our house. And it really doesn’t matter what age you are, they’re just easier to use. And the other benefit is that they use very little water and they don’t clog.

    So I would take a look at the American Standard Champion 4 toilets and just get the accessible size and you’ll be good to go.

    Alright, Betty? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Marty from Mississippi is on the line and he’s got a brick-house question. How can we help you today?

    MARTY: Yes, I’ve recently – about five years ago, there’s a house I bought that has red brick with a real light, white-colored grout or mortar. And in the last five years, I’ve got a stress crack on each side of the house that goes between the mortar and the brick. And is there a product you can recommend – or multiple products – that could seal that crack up and not lose the look of the brick? I’ve seen people do it with just one, solid piece of white-colored caulking. It just looks terrible, the big, white line. Is there something that’s multi-colored that would match up with the brick and the grout to make it look good?

    TOM: Marty, if the crack is that big, then you’re definitely not going to use caulk; you’re going to want to use mortar. So, the key here, as you say, though, is to find a mortar that will color-match.

    There is a company called Davis Colors that specializes in just this. They have dozens of different dyes that are mixed into mortars to come up with exactly the match that you need. And they have pretty good distribution across the country. So I would take a look at DavisColors.com. DavisColors.com.

    MARTY: Great. I just add those colors to the existing mortar I would mix up here?

    TOM: Yes, exactly. Or you buy the appropriate mortar from them already mixed.

    MARTY: OK. OK, cool. OK, I knew there had to be something out there. I just wasn’t able to find it, so I appreciate the help.

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Glad that you called. Thanks so much for reaching us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Norma from Delaware on the line who wants to know what size pipes you need to get good pressure in the bathroom.

    Norma, that sounds like a personal question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    NORMA: OK. I’m going to install a shower panel.

    TOM: OK.

    NORMA: And in order to get, you know, good – the right pressure, how big do the pipes need to be?

    TOM: Right. You said you wanted to install a shower panel? So is this one of these units where it comes in and then fans out to multiple spray heads?

    NORMA: Yeah, the jets, right.

    TOM: How is your water pressure right now?

    NORMA: Pretty good. Well, my house is about eight years old.

    TOM: Oh, if it’s only eight years old and you have pretty good water pressure, you should be OK with this. I will say, though, that the water pressure coming out of multiple showerheads is not going to be as invigorating as coming out of a single showerhead. So, it’s going to give you good coverage but it may not be as strong. And I don’t think there’s much that you can do about that. If you’ve got normal street pressure, that’s how those shower-panel units are designed to work. But just be mindful that it’s not likely to be as strong when it’s going to come out of multiple heads because you basically just need more water to do that.

    NORMA: Oh, OK. Well, I inquired with the builder and he told me that from the basement to the shower floor, I have three-quarter pipes. And then from the floor to the showerhead, ½-inch.

    TOM: And that’s typical. That’s typical. So, that doesn’t change anything.

    NORMA: Oh, OK. Alright. Thank you so much for your help.

    TOM: 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.

    Hey, have you ever seen a pretty big hole in your yard with maybe a big pile of dirt around the hole? Well, if you’ve seen that, you probably have moles. And you know what? You maybe even have fallen in once or twice to know it’s there. We are going to tell you how to get rid of those subterranean creatures, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor staining project? Make it faster and easier with Flood Wood Care products. Start today at Flood.com/Simplify and use the interactive selection guide to find the right Flood Wood Care products for your project. Flood, simple across the board.

    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 your house to really pop from the curb? A paint color can accomplish that for you. If you go to MoneyPit.com and search “exterior colors that can help sell your home,” we’ve got specific tips on how to pick the right paint color for your house.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kathy in Minnesota on the line who is doing a kitchen-revamping project. Tell us what’s going on.

    KATHY: These cupboards are varnished and they had hinges on that were on the outside, so they’re kind of like the barn-look (ph) hinge and also the handles, the ends that were anchored. When we take those off, the wood under there is much, much lighter.

    TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.

    KATHY: And so we stripped the door completely and sanded it to be ready to take on a new stain. And those areas do not absorb the stain.

    TOM: Yeah, they probably have some sort of a sealer or something that got under that. After you sanded it, did you use a sanding sealer on the whole surface?

    KATHY: I did not. In my experience, I’d always put the stain on first and then use a …

    TOM: Well, it’s not a sealer at that point; it’s a finish.

    But one thing I’m thinking they could have helped, Leslie – and you tell me what you think – is that if she used a sanding sealer, she may have improved the absorption rate of all the wood so that it was maybe a little evener, a little more uniform. So that it would have all soaked in at about the same level.

    Can you get any stain to take in those areas? Even if you take dark stain and put it on with a small paintbrush? Or will nothing stick to that?

    KATHY: No.

    TOM: Well, all I can say is that something is applied there that’s sealing the wood and unless you can get it to absorb, it’s going to be a problem. Those old hinges, they didn’t look so bad after all, did they?

    KATHY: I kind of get that feeling.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah. If you’ve already sanded it down and you still can’t get the stain to absorb, there’s probably nothing that you’re going to do that’s going to change that.

    Listen, the other thing that you could do is paint the doors. I mean there’s a lot of painted cabinets today; they look pretty nice.

    KATHY: Yes. Yes. And we’re looking at other options but wanted to be sure that we really had to go that route.

    TOM: As long as you sanded it thoroughly and you still can’t get it to absorb, then I say that you’ve done all that you can do at this point, Kathy.

    KATHY: OK. Alright. Well, I appreciate your taking my call.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever worked hard to develop a lush, green lawn, you’re hoping that it’s going to grow and be the pride and joy of your neighborhood, then you know how incredibly frustrating it can be when lawn pests start showing up and then they threaten your efforts.

    TOM: Absolutely. From moles that make mountains to grubs, crickets, cinch worms and more, there are a lot of different pests out there that can do damage to lawns. Here to tell us how to win the battle of the bugs is Roger Cook, the landscape contractor with TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Welcome. It’s a wild and wooly world out there, isn’t it? Just full of everything: lions and tigers and grubs.

    TOM: Oh, absolutely. And one of the most common lawn pests that we get questions about are moles. So, why don’t we talk about that first? What do we do about moles?

    ROGER: Well, we have to think about the creature itself. It’s a very small creature, maybe 5 or 6 ounces inside. And it does not come to the surface; it really tunnels underground and it makes molehills. And that’s where the problem comes in the lawn is it can actually disturb the soil to the point where the soil gets bumpy and ruddy and just doesn’t look good.

    Now, there’s a lot of home remedies out there, from …

    TOM: Oh, I’ve heard them. I have bubble gum in the tunnels and all kinds of crazy …

    ROGER: Can you see the little mole down there blowing bubbles or something? That’s just – yeah, yeah.

    TOM: Exactly.

    ROGER: Well, the truth be gone, there is only one real way to get rid of them and that’s trapping them.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: That’s the only proven method, despite all the other things you hear.

    LESLIE: Is there anything that really draws them to your yard over others, that you should sort of not do or undo or do less of to sort of make it less desirable?

    ROGER: A lot of things you don’t have control of and that’s like destruction of their natural habitat, where they get pushed from one area to another. The other is the amount of insects and nightcrawlers in the soil because that’s what they’re looking for to eat. And the second is they really like a wet soil, so maybe cut down on the irrigation a little bit. Wet soil seems to be easier for them to dig in and hold more worms and stuff that they eat.

    TOM: Now, many manufacturers will sell grub control to help you cut down on moles, with that theory being we’re cutting down on the food. Have you had success with grub control?

    ROGER: Never used it to control the moles with. Strictly used it for what it’s labeled for, which is grub control. My idea is if the moles are there and there’s no grubs, they’ll find something else to eat.

    TOM: There’s lots of junk food in that lawn then, huh?

    ROGER: Yeah, yeah.

    LESLIE: So I know you think trapping really is the best way to get rid of them. Is this something that I would be doing myself or is it better to leave it to the pros?

    ROGER: It depends how squeamish you are.

    LESLIE: Is it a really gross thing?

    ROGER: It’s a dead animal in a trap. You can buy the traps at most local …

    LESLIE: Oh, so I’m not collecting them and driving them to a field somewhere?

    ROGER: That’s illegal. You can’t transport a live animal off of your property in a live trap and let it go anywhere.

    LESLIE: Oh. Really?

    ROGER: Really. You’re just sending the problem to someone else. You have to use a trap that kills the animal. And that’s why I said if you’re squeamish – you can buy them at most hardware stores. You put them in the tunnel and you check them once in a while and you …

    LESLIE: Oh, I could not do that.

    TOM: I don’t think Havahart makes a mole trap.

    ROGER: They make a small (inaudible at 0:24:43) but not a mole trap. Pretty interesting to do.

    TOM: What about other pests that attack lawns? Are there ways to control those? I mean is a general insecticide application appropriate as part of your lawn care?

    ROGER: I don’t believe in general insecticides; I believe in very specific, aiming at it dead-center.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: A lot of times there’s grubs but grubs are only on the south and east side of a house, where it gets sun, so there’s no need to treat the west and the north side with an insecticide.

    TOM: Oh, interesting.

    ROGER: The other thing is to identify the insect. Because certain insecticides may work on one but not the other. And also, you want to be very specific to the insect you’re trying to kill so you don’t kill a lot of the beneficial insects.

    TOM: Good point. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks for stopping by and helping us take care of our lawns.

    ROGER: That’s alright. Watch out for those moles.

    LESLIE: You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos – not of mole-catching – of many common home improvement projects, check out ThisOldHouse.com.

    ROGER: That would be a good YouTube one, huh?

    LESLIE: Ugh.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing. That’s the power of The Home Depot.

    Up next, don’t let your summer fun be ruined by bed bugs. We’re going to have tips on how to keep your vacation bug-free, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by PORTER-CABLE professional-grade nailers and staplers. With over 100 years of experience producing quality, performance-driven tools, PORTER-CABLE continues to be a leading manufacturer and marketer of professional-grade, pneumatic fastening tools and compressors. Available at The Home Depot and independent retailers. To learn more, visit PORTERCABLE.com.

    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. And we are taking your home improvement questions right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one lucky caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to get a prize package from Little Big Shot. You’re going to get a set of three, solid-brass nozzles that put water efficiency into the palm of your hands. Plus, even if my mom backed over one, it is not going to break. You’re also going to get Monkey Hooks for hanging things on drywall and a Johnny Jolter Power Plunger. It uses water, not air, to clear your clogs. So one push, no mess. You’ve got to love that.

    TOM: And all the products are made in the U.S.A. The prize package is worth $130. Give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: John in Nebraska is on the line with a kitchen-painting question. Tell us what’s going on over there.

    JOHN: I’ve got a kitchen project and what I’ve – we’re doing, me and my wife, we’re painting our kitchen. And we ran into a situation that – above our stove, we replaced our range here recently with – it’s a downdraft. And like I say, we want to do painting and we’ve got cracking behind the stove, the area and …

    TOM: So is the wall surface itself cracking or is it like the seam or – what are you seeing?

    JOHN: I’d say it’s probably the paint. I believe we used a – I’m sure it’s a latex. And unfortunately, I think one – I’m sure one of our downfalls – we don’t have a backsplash.

    TOM: So how about this, John? Why don’t you make a backsplash? How about if we tell you an easy way to make a backsplash out of tile? Would that work for you?

    JOHN: OK, sure. I’d listen.

    TOM: So there’s a product called Bondera – B-o-n-d-e-r-a. And it’s a self-adhesive mastic, so it’s kind of like contact paper. It’s got glue on both sides, though. And you roll this stuff out, you stick it on the wall. And then you can basically stick tile right to it without having to use any of that sort of goopy glue mastic.

    And you stick the tiles right on there. It’s perfect for a backsplash. Then you grout it and you’re done. It is definitely the easiest way to do a tile backsplash. Sort of no-fuss, no-muss and you could get a backsplash done inside of a couple of hours if you plan out the tile sizes correctly.

    LESLIE: Well, summer is a busy time for so many of us but it’s also a busy time for bed bugs. Now, one reason is that bed bugs reproduce at a faster rate in warmer temperatures but also, they like to hitch rides on vacationers as, you know, travel season starts to heat up, as well.

    TOM: Now, bed bugs are equal-opportunity pests. What we mean by that is that they will travel freely between high-end hotels, private homes, summer cottages, you name it. A routine inspection, though, before you unpack from your trip can help make sure that they don’t step into your house.

    So what do you do? Well, you pull back the covers and inspect the mattress seams. You want to look for any small, brownish or reddish dots that signal bed bugs. Also, be sure to check behind headboards, molding, mirrors and any sort of upholstered furniture, all places where bed bugs love to hang out.

    LESLIE: Next, you want to hang up your clothing and keep your suitcase off of the floor and any upholstered piece of furniture, like that bench at the end of your bed that’s perfect for the suitcase. Do not put it there.

    Now, when you get home, you want to inspect and vacuum your suitcases before you bring that bag indoors. And it’s really important that you wash all of your clothing, whether they were worn, dirty, whatever. Wash them before you put them away.

    TOM: And keep in mind that the unofficial bed-bug season goes all the way through summer and ends in November. So, it’s best to keep diligent all year long with all of your trips from now, really, until the end of the year.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones, perhaps with a happier question.

    LESLIE: Betty in South Carolina has got a concrete issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    BETTY: We have a 5/8-inch crack between our concrete garage floor and the concrete turnaround outside – the apron outside the garage.

    TOM: Right. OK.

    BETTY: It has nothing to do with the garage door. Thirty-nine years ago, when the house was built, we think that they used a fiberboard of some type in this joint because – for expansion and contraction. Now, that has deteriorated down, maybe down about an inch or so. And we would like to fill that crack. What do we fill that with?

    TOM: OK. So it’s not really a crack; it’s really just a gap where you had a separation between the two different pieces.

    BETTY: Yes, it was built that way.

    TOM: Right, OK. So, you’re going to use a flowable crack filler. And QUIKRETE makes those – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. Their website is QUIKRETE.com.

    Basically, what you do is you clean out that space. You’re going to get it down an inch or two and then if it – then what you would probably do is put a backer rod in it, which is sort of this foam tube that will hold the filler exactly where you want it. And then you apply the filler on top and it flows to be nice and even across that gap. And then it dries in about 24 hours and that’s all there is to it. It’s really a pretty simple home improvement project.

    BETTY: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: Hope that helps you out. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Up next, with summer here, ants are everywhere. And if they make their way into your house, it can really gross you out. I know it grossed-out Mom. She got into her house after coming back up north from Florida and was really freaked out by the ants. So, we had to take care of that. How did we do that? We used a natural solution that kept them away. I’ll tell you what that is, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain Garage Power Station, an air inflator, utility cord, and LED task light all together in a new, 3-in-1 tool. Exclusively at The Home Depot.

    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 are in the height of swimming season. Hooray for summer. But we want to make sure that you go to MoneyPit.com so you have all the tips that you need to keep your kids safe around the pool. You want to make it a fun and a safe summer, guys, OK? So head on over to MoneyPit.com for all of your pool-safety tips.

    And while you are online, you can head over to the Community section and post your question, just like Gil from Georgia did who writes: “I have a minor ant problem during the summer and I’m looking for some natural remedies. What are your suggestions?”

    TOM: Now, if you have a minor ant problem – and I do emphasize minor. Because if it’s a major problem, we’re going to go in a different direction. But if it’s a minor problem, one thing that you could do is to plant a barrier of mint around the foundation. Ants are repelled by mint and people are not, by the way.

    I love mint. In fact, there’s nothing better than picking some of that fresh mint for your iced tea in the summer. But the ants don’t like it, so go ahead and plant some mint around the house.

    The other thing that you could do is use bay leaves. They make a really good ant repellant. You can set whole bay leaves around the kitchen, the food canisters or you can even sprinkle some of those crushed bay leaves along the window sills.

    Now, if your ant problem is not minor but major, that’s when you really should turn to a professional pest-control operator. I even would suggest doing that and not purchasing over-the-counter remedies. Because what I have found is that when you apply an over-the-counter pesticide, generally you’re putting more toxic stuff around your house than you have to. When you call a professional in, they have the right products – which are registered, licensed products that you, as a consumer, can’t buy – and they know exactly how to apply them and where to apply them so that there’s not an over-application of the pesticide.

    And also, the pesticides today are extremely specific. So you would use one pesticide for ants, one pesticide for spiders and so on and so forth. It’s not just sort of a general pesticide. And that’s good because that means you’re only treating the problem that you have and you’re not sort of overkilling any of the beneficial insects that might also be around your house.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got one from James in Texas who wrote: “I’m considering buying a home with textured walls. It looks like plaster was blown on. How hard is it going to be to smooth that out?”

    TOM: Learn to love the textured surfaces, right? It’s really hard to smooth that out. I mean you can scrape, you can sand and all that kind of stuff but it’s never going to be as smooth as a new wall unless you make it a new wall, which is another option. You could put new drywall – even thin drywall, like ¼-inch or 3/8 drywall – on top of that. But of course, that’s a pretty big project. But to try to smooth out what you have there is very difficult to do.

    LESLIE: Yeah. That really is a big project and it’s going to be a huge mess.

    Alright. Trisha in Texas writes: “I’m building a new home. The builder suggested hot water on demand but my regular plumber says he’s concerned about the maintenance, repairs, parts, et cetera. Any advice?”

    TOM: Yeah, there’s an education gap with the old plumbers that are out there, you know? Plumbers learn what they learn and then they don’t learn anything else. And I really think that we’re seeing that a lot with on-demand tankless water heaters.

    That is the state-of-the-art system to put in today. I would not be dissuaded by your plumber’s concerns about maintenance because I don’t think that they’re well-founded. I think if they’re put in properly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications, that they’re a very efficient, reliable way to provide, literally, an endless source of hot water.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And they really take up a lot less space, so you can put them sort of closer to where you actually need that hot water. So it just makes a lot of sense, Trish.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour of your day with us. We hope you’ve learned some tips, gotten some ideas on how you can improve your money pit.

    Remember, you can reach us 24-7 by calling 888-MONEY-PIT or posting your question in the Community section of 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.


    (Copyright 2013 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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